His Number is Eleven: The Occult Link Between Genius and HomosexualityOct 24, 2004
Author: Micki Pellerano
Plato, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Wilde, Lautreamont, Rimbaud, Crowley, Cocteau, Melville, Jarry, Genet, Foucault, and Burroughs... These are among the most renowned people in our culture who are widely acknowledged as being possessed of genius. Is it mere coincidence that they - and countless other great poets, artists and philosophers - were all practicing homosexuals? Where exactly does the connection lie? Genius is commonly associated with divine inspiration or a guiding supernatural force. Thus it is appropriate that metaphysics may form the essential link between genius and homosexuality. An involved study of occult history sheds a great deal of light on the matter and illumines that there is indeed a link between homosexuality and the agency of genius.
Individuals of great accomplishment - be they poets artists, visionaries, adepts, political leaders etc. - are said to be possessed of genius. They have somehow accessed something sublime which enables them to surpass the minds of ordinary humans. The Hellenistic philosophers believed Genius to be a supernatural intelligence. The etymology of the word is related to that of genie or jinn. Some believed that all things were guided and protected by their own genius. This theory runs parallel to the idea in Western occultism of the Holy Guardian Angel or Augoeides. In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates is quoted saying:
“…from it (i.e. the agency of genii) proceed all the arts of divination and all the sciences…which relate to oracles and enchantments…The deity holds no direct intercourse with man. But by this means, all the converse and communication between gods and men…take place. And he who is wise in these things is a man peculiarly guarded by his genius.”
The definition of genius in terms of the arts and sciences was henceforth developed into meaning that work which is inspired by divinity.
Mythology: The Creation Myth and Thoth-Hermes
Creation myths bear a particular relevance to the artistic achievement. It is the artist that mirrors the macrocosmic or universal creation in the microcosm of his work, and thus he or she becomes godlike.
In Katon Shu’al’s book Sexual Magick, the author cites an encounter that may shed light on the ancient theory of a connection between homosexuality and the creative act. Shu’al argues that the incident in The Egyptian Book of the Dead where Horus regains his power by “seizing the testicles of Seth” is more an expression of eroticism than of brutality or castration.
Upon closer observation of this creation myth, another homosexual theme can be extracted. Since the dawn of time, the titan Uranus and his mother Gaea (a.k.a. Mother Earth) were in a constant and eternal state of copulation. Their love play is said to encapsulate the essential universal union of consciousness and power. In Tantra this would be described as the divine interplay of Shiva and Shakti. Their copulation came to a halt only when Saturn drew his father’s genitals away from those of Gaea in an act of confrontation. Subsequently, wherever the semen of Uranus was spilt, forms of life began to spring up upon the earth. Therefore, the creation of life on earth came about by the phallus being drawn away from the female genitalia by another male.
Sexual Magick cites another incident in Egyptian Myth where Seth lusts after his brother Horus and seduces him. Horus stealthily applies the sperm of Seth onto a lettuce, the preferred food of Seth. Seth eats the lettuce, is impregnated thereby and gives birth to Thoth.
Thoth, conceived through homosexual union, dually represents the creative act that is both divine and artistic, especially in relation to literature. Thoth is traditionally the god of wisdom, scribes, and the occult arts; he is also associated with “the Word.” The concept of “the Word” is of supreme importance in the creation myths embraced by esoteric schools of Judeo-Christianity. God is said to have uttered the words that emanated forth the spheres of creation. Language and godly powers are closely related in mysticism. This concept is resonant in the sacred or generative powers attributed to alphabets such as Hebrew and Sanskrit.
Semen and the Beast
In Aleister Crowley’s Liber DCCCXI, entitled Energized Enthusiasm, he writes:
“The divine consciousness which is reflected and refracted in the works of Genius feeds upon a certain secretion, as I believe. This secretion is analogous to semen but not identical with it. There are but few men and fewer women, those women being invariably androgyne, who possess it at any time in any quantity.”
Perhaps it was this very misogyny that inspired Crowley to work on some of the most significant sex magick experiments of his career with a male partner.
In 1914 Aleister Crowley, with his young lover and pupil Victor Neuburg, engaged in an intense regimen of homosexual rituals commonly referred to as The Paris Working. Among the most notable of their accomplishments was the invocation of the all-encompassing genius, Thoth-Hermes. One of the verses they chanted during the invocation can be translated as:
“Poet is joined with Poet: Hermes,
King of the rod, appear, bearing the ineffable word.
The documentation of these rituals, discussed at length in Francis King’s Sexuality, Magic, and Perversion, provides us with information from the “horse’s mouth” so to speak, as Thoth-Hermes spoke through Neuburg with a great deal of information regarding the sanctity of homosexuality and allusions to the creation myth discussed earlier:
“Every drop of semen which Hermes sheds is a world…Ma is the name of the god who seduced the phallus away from the yoni; hence the physical universe. All worlds are excreta, they represent wasted semen.”
Crowley, despite his chauvinisms, worshipped women and predominantly used heterosexual intercourse for sex magick ritual. He owes an invaluable amount of success to the capacities of his Scarlet Women, particularly Mary D’Este Sturges (a.k.a. Soror Virakam), with whom Crowley co-wrote Book Four: Part One, one of his most lucid and comprehensive literary works. His first wife, Rose Kelly served as the medium who made possible the inspired authorship of The Book of the Law, the seminal work behind Thelema and Crowley’s greatest work of genius. However, for one of his most significant magical operations, the Invocation of the Thirty Aethers, he once again employed the magickal expertise and sexual energy of Victor Neuburg.
The origins of this particular ritual are in Enochian Magic, the science of communicating with Angels developed by John Dee, mathematician and court astrologer to Elizabeth I, and his psychic assistant, the alchemist Edward Kelley. Among the spiritual advice the Angels imparted to Dee and Kelly (both men were immersed in alchemy and cabalism), was that they have sex with each other’s wives. Scholars have speculated that the Angels really intended that the two men have sex with each other, but that they chose wife swapping as a more stimulating alternative.
In addition to Thoth-Hermes, the androgyne is another figure of paramount importance in alchemy. Nadia Choucha aptly describes it as the embodiment of perfection or wholeness that is the goal of every alchemist. This being encapsulates the “reconciliation of opposites’’ so often alluded to in alchemical symbolism. The androgyne also figures in a similar fashion in Rosicrucianism and Gnosticism.
Even philosophers outside these schools of thought endowed the androgyne with super-human status. In Plato’s Symposium, the philosopher describes a master race that pre-dated our own. It was composed predominantly of androgynes, before the human race was “weakened” by the gods into its current physical state. Madame Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, gives a similar description of this pre-human master race of enlightened hermaphrodites who peopled the lost continent of Lemuria.(1) The races described by both Plato and Blavatsky were supposed to possess the advanced intelligence traditionally ascribed to the denizens of Atlantis.
We can look also to the Cabalistic Tree of Life, an essential reference point of Western Occultism, for confirmation of the sublimity of the androgyne. When traveling upward on its magnificent limbs, the aspirant encounters the sphere of Tiphareth as a transcendence of the spheres of Hod and Netzah. These two spheres are attributed to Hermes and Aphrodite respectively, and if Tiphareth is the superior manifestation of their balance, some simple word play will yield:
“Hermes + Aphrodite = Hermaphrodite”
This obscure and mystical creature is the offspring of these two divinities. The Sphere of Tiphareth is most closely associated by the traditions of Thelema and the Golden Dawn as the domain of the Holy Guardian Angel that is very often referred to as the “Higher Self” or “Genius.” It is also regarded as the sphere by which all divine inspirations unfold. The path leading up to Tiphareth from the sphere below is ascribed to Atu XIV of the Tarot. In Crowley’s Thoth Deck this card, called “Alchemy” or “Art”, pictures an androgyne as its central figure.
The homosexual bears a close affinity to the figure of the androgyne. The sphere of sexual attraction, so intrinsic and sacred to any being, identifies with that which is characteristic of members of the opposite sex. A man possessing essential attributes that are intrinsically female (or vice-versa) brings the subject nearer to androgyne status.
The androgyne serves as an archetype for both the homosexual and the genius. It follows then, in a metaphysical sense, that the subject’s consciousness may in certain cases be transcendent over the standard duality that enslaves the human ego. The alchemists and other mystical traditions placed so much emphasis on the reconciliation of opposites because this union was believed to be the formula for the development or purification of the human soul, the obtaining of the Philosopher’s Stone. Such an advanced soul would therefore have sensitivity to divine inspiration or genius by virtue of its transmutation. Indeed, this sensitivity and inspiration are the goal of every mystic and artist alike. If transcendence of the mundane or earthly is achieved, as the alchemists believed, from the union of opposites – would not the homosexual have his “foot in the door?”
The occult arts therefore form the link between homosexuality and genius. However, it is by the means of metaphysical law, not mere sodomy, that inspired works of art can be created. This is reflected in the current of occult thought present in the works of many of the geniuses listed above. Plato’s theories have already been posited here. Occult references in Marlowe and Shakespeare could be discussed in volumes. Leonardo da Vinci and Jean Cocteau are reported to have been Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion. Rimbaud grew weary of his poetry, for he longed to relinquish his status as a mere poet and become “a seer.” The works of William S. Burroughs are packed with details of sorcery and chaos magick.
We may affirm that the key lies not in homosexuality itself, but its completion of an arcane formula designed to elevate the soul. A study of surrealism, the artistic movement propagating transcendence over ordinary modes of consciousness and existence, will provide proof of the validity of this theory in practice. The artists within the surrealist movement sought to uncover the secrets of genius. In a quote redolent of the ancient Greek idea behind genius Andre Breton, the leader of the movement and author of its manifestos, he states: “Surrealism aims quite simply at the total recovery of our psychic force.” A means to this recovery employed by the surrealists is the homosexual act and the significance of the androgyne, although these artists may not have engaged in homosexual activity.
As the Surrealists were steeped in esoteric thought they were well acquainted with the theory of obtaining the Philosopher’s Stone by means of the union of opposites. Salvador Dali employed the Paranoiac Critical Method to form alchemical transmutations in an effort to obtain genius. He wrote:
“A psychoanalyst, knowing that gold and excrement are akin in the subconscious, would not have been surprised that ‘Salvador Dali’ turned into ‘Avida Dollars’ and that I used my shit - like the hen’s golden eggs, the droppings of the golden ass, or Danae’s divine diarrhea - to perform a phenomenal transmutation of my paranoia-critical method.”
Avida Dollars, an anagram of Dali’s name, was a female alter ego that he created for himself in an effort to complete the principle of the androgyne, wherein no homosexual activity was involved, for the purpose of alchemical transmutations.