Beneath the rose

Plan of the panopticon prison. Courtesy UCL Special Collections, image captured by UCL Creative Media Services.

There is a certain irony in discussing secrecy in the panopticon of the modern world. Beneath the suspended rose of the conspirators, whether for or against the state, the occult virtue of secrecy is a somewhat quaint conceit, I can ask you to turn off your phones, but that will do little good: it will in fact be a suspicious sign. Your GPS coordinates are known, the microphones and cameras you carry can be remotely activated. Your very interest in this subject has been duly noted, you are guilty by association, and that thought crime is logged and cross-matched with your other deviations. In the security industry phones are known colloquially as trackers and we use them to micro-manage our docility.

No phone? The number plates of your car have been logged by roadside cameras on the way here, your credit card details when you paid for a ticket, your facebook page when you liked the event. You are haemorrhaging data, and in addition you have been trained to dutifully update your status and identify your friend’s faces to complete a picture that is almost perfected. As the refrain in Orwell’s 1984 goes ‘Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me.’ You are being cyber stalked by your boss, your work colleagues, your exes, your ‘friends,’ credit agencies and corporations.

Everyone is a fucking cop nowadays.

Edward Snowden has revealed that GCHQ has the most invasive network intercept programme in the world. Tempora is the first ‘full-take’ which means they are harvesting both meta-data and content on everything from everyone. It is a seamless inquisition, as tranquilly administered as lithium. The very word Anonymous is as anachronistic as a Guy Fawkes mask when your gait is as identifiable by CCTV as a dna swab or a retina scan. For those who want to get a little more fear, check out NEO FACE, as being used in the UK by a militarised police with no civil rights oversight.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said back in 2009: ‘If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.’ That is the argument of techno-fascism. Let me suggest that every one of you has hesitated before typing in a search term or hastily closed an incriminating window, or cleared your browsing history of porn searches, or worried if a new employer will find out your extracurricular interests. Even if you are not living in fear, you are certainly living more nervously. I am going to suggest that the extent to which your actions are being limited is far greater than you consciously realise. Let us compare Eric Schmidt with Glenn Greenwald who when talking of privacy says: ‘this is something I am willing to do, if no-one else is watching … This is something that I do which is not for someone else who is watching, and that I do not want people to know. There are things that we want to keep private.’ It hardly seems unreasonable, in fact it seems like a working definition of witchcraft. Whose world should we favour, that of the executive in bed with the US military who wishes to know everything, or that of the journalist seeking to protect our right to maintain our privacy. The battle is raging and like it or not, you are caught up in it.

The eye in the triangle of the security state is becoming self-aware. It has plotted your data points. It can predict your actions. It owns you and it molds you. We rebels have reason to be concerned. We are not considered the conscience of society nor transformative pioneers, we are the enemy of the corporate state which dismantles non-human and human communities alike. The state and the corporation are one and the same, the one percent. We are raw materials, production units, disposable assets or less politely, slaves.

Some will ask, what does this have to do with magic? The answer is of course, everything. The fact that such a question can even be asked shows how disconnected we have become from the world, and our perceived powerlessness in harnessing its occult virtues. Those who claim we should not be political need to answer this question: If the secret forces we connect with are sullied by acknowledging realpolitik, how can the Archons plunder the symbol set for their dramas with impunity.

So are we players, or pawns, ogling their superbowl spectacle? Are we stars or submissives? Do we pursue power or passively consume? Passive is the key word here. I will argue that we are being engineered into docility and that it is the docile body which is the enemy of magic.

Perhaps in a world of Julian Assange, Edward Snowdon, Chelsea Manning, Glenn Greenwald and Aaron Schwartz we have something to contribute. After all, we are heirs to the first and greatest game of secrets. Our adepts have always been in an entangled relationship with state power and the intelligence agencies, whether John Dee, Aleister Crowley, Cecil Williamson or even Michael Aquino. Ours is the cypher, the code word, the clandestine gathering, the secret plan, the powers of prediction and malediction, of striking at a distance. We have something to hide and we know how to hide it; or so we thought. In truth, we have lost out to the dealers, the activists and the anarchists with their antique nokia bricks and an understanding of security culture which is manifestly lacking in occult circles.

It is has not proved necessary to waterboard the secrets out of us. Or to search the secret mark with witches pricker, stress position, sleep deprivation. Such theatre is the necessary ritual performance of power, not the retrieval of raw data. Abrogate are the masonic threats of sawing open brain pans and exposing us to the scorching sun. The closed books are scanned and read by pricks on the internet. The secret fled without grip or word, charter or garter being exchanged. The images we revere are endlessly shared until the meaning and holy awe is as washed from them. The rites we celebrate are uploaded and stumbled through by youtube goons. We have pilfered, scanned and torrented the mysteries – creating not a leap in consciousness, but a culture of entitlement.

It was MKULTRA, the Esalen and New Age black-op, Star Gate, First Earth Battalion and their ilk who field stripped and double-blind tested our occult tech. They didn’t come knocking on our doors, we handed it over with our sloppy protocols and desire for kudos. The fraternal societies that manifestly work are Skull and Bones, Bohemian Grove, Propaganda Due (P.2), et al; not the magical post-war offcuts of Wicca, OTO or IOT. While we squabble, they rule. In the game of thrones, we are manifestly absent, replaced by ad execs and algorithms, drones and cointelpro. We need to take secrecy back, and we need to remember what the secret is.

I am assuming that some of you know the secret?

We can begin to understand the occult implications of our loss of secrecy by placing our bodies in the field of vison surveyed by the panopticon of Jeremy Bentham. This was to be a circular utilitarian prison, with cells arrayed around a central watchtower. It was designed upon the principle that people will obey the rules when they suspect that they are being watched. It seems Bentham in the 1780s was blind to the horror of such a device; for him it was a scientific method of social engineering for the greater good of all. However, his principle of utility is nothing less that the creation of docility. It took the modern French philosopher Michel Foucault to explicate the nightmare in his seminal work, Discipline and Punish. He describes the panopticon functioning:

All that is needed, then, is to place a supervisor in a central tower and to confine in each cell a madman, someone sick, someone condemned, a worker, or a schoolboy. By the effect of backlighting, one can observe from the tower, standing out precisely against the light, the small captive silhouettes in the cells of the periphery. They are like so many cages, so many small theatres, in which each actor is alone, perfectly individualised and constantly visible.

This for Foucault was not an abandoned relic of history, a ghosted architectural folly, it laid bare the anatomy of modern power, which he styled as ‘discipline.’ In his analysis the panopticon has not merely endured, but triumphed. Its outer form has dissolved, disguising the fact that this form of surveillance is implicit in all the institutions of the modern state. Our revolt is like Foucault against such panopticism, our liberation too is found in an erotic response against it, a revolt of the body.

The panopticon was first articulated in a series of letters written in 1787, Bentham wrote:

It is obvious that, in all these instances, the more constantly the persons to be inspected are under the eyes of the persons who should inspect them, the more perfectly will the purpose X of the establishment have been attained. Ideal perfection, if that were the object, would require that each person should actually be in that predicament, during every instant of time. This being impossible, the next thing to be wished for is, that, at every instant, seeing reason to believe as much, and not being able to satisfy himself to the contrary, he should conceive himself to be so.

(Bentham, Jeremy: The Panopticon Writings. Ed. Miran Bozovic. Verso, London 1995.)

Bentham realised that the fear of being watched was enough, a dynamic we find in the repressive Abrahamic religions with God as their all seeing eye. On the cell walls of Mettray, the model military prison for children in which Jean Genet was incarcerated, was written in black letters: GOD SEES YOU. Many in the occult have freed themselves from this exact form of tyranny. But even my ardent Luciferian heart knows that the enemy has changed, that we should be burning banks rather than churches. If we oppose the despotic blueprint of the demiurge, and his administration in the Vatican, then we are duty bound to oppose his heirs in the financial hubs of the City of London, Wall Street et al. Budding Satanists should wise up – there is little point in fighting a vanquished enemy.

Bentham did not live to see the ideal perfection which technology has granted us, his own plans were consistently thwarted, the panopticon never built. Yet we now live under total surveillance, a gaze that renders us all exteriors, placing every aspect of our lives under the lamp of our interrogators. The world being made for us is as nightmarish as the industrial England that William Blake imprinted on our national psyche with his slab stanzas of innocence purloined.

Being watched is not a ‘so-what’ issue: it is not, and never can be, neutral. As occultists we should be familiar with consciousness research which demonstrates that being watched changes us in meaningful ways. One of the most famous experiments is in precisely this field. It sets out to prove whether we can detect if we are being observed. As a student I once had a flat above a busy street and performed this very experiment; by projecting intent I could make people stop, turn and look up. They felt the weight of my hidden gaze. The converse skill, of concealing intent, is equally not to be neglected. My investigations would be merely anecdotal, but the studies performed on this in the lab seem to give above statistical average results. The validity of these tests and their conclusions are of course disputed, see Sheldrake et al and their debunkers. As the data is not decisive it shows the vast grey area of uncertainty that the panopticon takes advantage of. As in the stress position, the favoured method of torture exported and taught by the CIA in the School of the Americas, our strength is turned against us. If we have the ability to feel the watchers we react, but as we are unable to consistently know if it is happening, the only choice for our bodies is to assume that they are constantly under threat. It automatically levels us, regardless of our vaunted psi abilities.

What seems obvious is that there is a clear evolutionary advantage in knowing if you are being watched. It goes right to the heart of the predator/prey dynamic. Those who spend patient time in the wild will know now unnerving the sensation can be. It can therefore be convincingly argued that the panopticon renders us all prey items and places us in a state of permanent duress. As Banksy put it, we are one nation under CCTV, but it has become worse, we have now been trained to carry the cameras with us. The panopticon is in our pocket. What the state is exploiting is the realisation that a constant background hum is enough to modify our behaviour, but perhaps not quite enough to make us act, for the most part we comply.

Being watched is the direct opposite of the aim of occult practice, which strives to make us present, and often employs optic devices such as the mirror to look back at the denizens of the universe. Our founding myths are of being taught by the Watchers, the escapees from the panopticon, and the awareness and self-knowledge gifted by the Serpent and Eve in defiance of the Google CEO of the day. These are the stories that we need to be both telling and enacting.

Jean Paul-Sartre explores an analogous idea to the panopticon in The Look, writing how: ‘Through the others look I live myself as fixed in the middle of the world, as in danger, as irremediable.’ But the crucial element in the panopticon is that it destroys the reciprocal relationship between seeing and being seen, of self and other. It creates an absolute subject and an absolute object. You do not see the people who are seeing you – those people are increasingly machines, jailers who never sleep. There is the gaze and there is the spectacle. You are watched, not a watcher. You are an object whose only currency, whose only sense of reality is created by feeding more and more of your identity into the control system. This is not voluntary, it is manufactured consent. It is an invasive process which proceeds with or without your approval.

‘Thou art about my path, and about my bed: and spiest all my ways. If I say, peradventure the darkness shall cover me: than shall my night be turned to day. Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me’. (Psalm 139)

‘Thou art about my path, and about my bed: and spiest all my ways. If I say, peradventure the darkness shall cover me: than shall my night be turned to day. Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me’. (Psalm 139)

We recognise the panopticon as the form of the modern workplace, school, hospital and asylum, but only when we realise that the model Bentham describes has become the hive of the internet do we begin to feel the full weight of the implication. The internet, and the vaunted internet of things, is a military industrial prison being built around us and for which we labour. It is a stazi state where we post our selfies directly to the secret police. This is not cyber-pessimism, some knee jerk reflex from the heady days of usenet radicalism, it is the truth of what is being deliberately inflicted upon us by surveillance and social media. Foucault was correct, the Panopticon is not just observation, it is an experiment in altering behaviour it is, in his words: ‘a laboratory of power.’ We are being entrained into slavery, like by like. This is the reality of the panopticon: it is the machinery of isolation, it confines us to our cells. Thus divided we are ruled. You feel lonely, inadequate and are then channelled into consumerism to seek relief. It is Diocletian’s method: problem, reaction, solution; a psychological manipulation technique used relentlessly by those in power.

If you ever wonder why people are such assholes on the internet, here is the plain and simple explanation: the subject/object effect of the gaze. You are an object to others, and they are frustrated when you will not obey their commands. The internet therefore destroys communities whilst pretending that it is building them. It creates conflict, even when it only allows a ‘like’ button. It additionally co-opts your gaze to objectify others; we become parasited, zombie versions of our true selves that lure others into exposing and trivialising themselves. If magic seeks to extend our control over our lives, this is a significant problem. It ties us into conflict, flamewars, and horizontal hostility. Empathy is lost without the experience of the body; how very convenient for our masters.

The panopticon shrinks our world, it physically and visually limits us. The office as cubefarm and the cctv bristling estates of the hemmed in poor demark our horizons. Compare this with the tinted limousine glass of four wheel drives, the gated communities of the rich with their rooftop infinity pools and glass spires from which they look down on us. They are unseen, whilst we are herded and strip-searched. This is a scaled-up version of our physical transformation. Shoulders slumped, necks craned forward it seems that we are, in a universe that spans at least 92 billion light years, beholden to a screen the size of our palm, waiting for the call from our zero hours contract taskmasters, existing for the small joy of a social media click-back. This is insanity. The modern body is the slave body; when we call it a meatsack, a skinsuit, we reveal how much we have been turned into industrial products. The magical practitioner is not a Cartesian machine, caught in conflict between brain and body, but an animate expressive continuum. I am saying here that the first step in regaining our privacy is in regaining our bodies in action. That it is in the physical where the fight back begins.

But with privacy as luxury, a commodity only available to the rich, some are accepting that it is entirely lost. I would counter that it has not been lost, it is not a neutral vector of (the myth of) technological progress, it is a deliberate process. It would be more cunning for us to discern who has carried out this assault than assume it to be an inevitability to which we must conform. Who is behind it? Cui bono? Occupy got it right, it is the one percent who have enacted a bankers coup. The only advantage for us is that they number so few that it gives the worker of malefica, (a female gendered word), a precise target. We need to turn the gaze back on them.

One response to the end of privacy, which is not projected, but here in present time, is to simply display everything. Artists such as Genesis Breyer P-Orridge have taken this approach. So too have individuals who have been ‘slut shamed’ or been the victims of hacking and revenge porn, and gone on to post their own naked images to reclaim control and by extension power. These are not strategies that I disagree with, they confront fear and challenge the idea of shame. It is an action of the strong, and an approach often taken by those working with Babalon, they return the gaze: a very important principle. They state: I am not your object. I am sovereign. Here is my body, deal with it, look at me. I deny the hold of shame over my actions. This recalls the power of witchcraft, of the eye. Invidia is one of the seven deadly sins. It says that you cannot look at the property or fortune of another. You tarnish it. Women in particular must not look, the gaze is the domain of men and capital, which the power of the eye inverts in the hourglass of retina and lens. Though we can read invidia through feminist discourse as a mechanism of patriarchy, or through Marxism as an expression of property relations, these materialist worldviews strip us of recourse to the power of the eye. In effect they negate this fundamental magical power. My position is this: some women are witches, some people have the eye. We must not relinquish the tools of malefica when we apply the tools of analysis. To develop looking and the gaze is to defy the primacy of the panopticon, we return the basilisk stare. We penetrate their dreamspace, we walk through their locked doors, we kill their futures. Working with candle and mirror we move through the worlds, we are not kept in by the curfew. It is both self-defence through the projection of power, and the ability to alter fate. We are the abyss staring back at power.

© Toko Rumando, Orphée (Z3)

© Toko Rumando, Orphée (Z3)

A particularly female amulet to consider using in this regard is the mirror, a countermeasure that can be enchanted, carried and concealed. It enables you to return unwanted influences. It is a weapon in the amorium of the erotically confident and a welcome respite from the tyranny of the male gaze. I do not wish to underplay the dangers and difficulties that the mirror introduces – the mirror treats appearances and surfaces; it does not enter into tactility – yet in the optics of power it is a weapon we must cultivate a relationship with.

But we should acknowledge the problem with an approach that accepts the loss of privacy. Though empowering on an individual or indeed circumstantial level, and a refusal to be a passive object, the digital world strips everything of context. Your proud naked images are drowned in a stream of degrading dehumanising porn. They do not challenge the panopticon at its root, they simply feed it with content that it then transforms into further spectacle and profit. You are effectively sexting the archons when they are too glazed and jaded to care. They are engaged in a process of the acquisitive extraction of information. They want it all, and freely giving it to them is going to neither sweeten nor poison the well. I would instead suggest that we need other strategies if we are to strike at the root of control and aspire to the freedom and volition that magic requires. These secrets are jewels held within the body, they are the body entire, not simply its surface.

On the internet the body is removed, as is tactility: there is no touching, no kissing, no holding. Only the visual is emphasised. The erotic panoply is replaced by fucking machines, as if we are merely spurting mechanical dolls at the mercy of the robotic phallus which in itself feels nothing. Motion without emotion. Sex becomes violence, power over rather than union.

Sex is not the enemy, but it is a powerful way to divide us against each other, to destroy empathy and ultimately the body itself. There needs to be an erotic breach enacted not on the screen but in the uncivilised body, in the world, not its digital facsimile; this is our only chance. Why display yourself naked before the panopticon when we can turn our backs on it and discover our physical powers. I do not mean that we should ignore it and therefore expect it to go away, only that it is not where we should seek to authenticate our experiences. I suggest that we find ourselves within our bodies, recognise others as sovereigns, not objects, and with this strength and our example rise up and raze the citadel.

Foucault spoke of how those in prison, those observed, dream of suicide. It is no mistake that those whose life is on the internet, and that means all of us, suffer from low self-esteem, self-doubt, body dysmorphia, rage, status anxiety, meaningless spats and suicidal thoughts. A sedentary lifestyle makes us sick, and like junkfood, we end up craving the very things that feed the sickness. Our behaviour changes when we are watched, it severely reduces our actions, we are more conformist and compliant. A good example of this is the previous freedom to be topless or naked on a beach in France. This has been reversed, with women now covering up to prevent themselves being photographed and uploaded. Shame is powerful, it creates obedience, compliance and submission, even in laissez faire France. The felt experience of the body, the need to be groomed, to hug, to touch, to interact with corporeal others, when displaced by screen-life and virtual friends, results in an alienating pornification of human relations. We value others in relation to their photoshopped avatars, not as sensually intricate humans. The process is occurring on a global scale. The end result will be that we cannot find the others, if the others have been engineered out of existence.

So here is the dilemma. We are rare individuals in a bland corporate culture, being curious and intellectually driven we seek to know. Often we are alienated in our surroundings and searching for a peer group. Therefore we use the available tools to explore, and reach out to others who can validate our existence. These tools, the internet in general, and social media in particular, destroy our ability to do this by turning us into objects. It is not something that we can opt out of, or manage by an attitudinal shift, we are made slaves by constant surveillance, and the slaves shall serve. We are then turned into acquisitive egos who actively seek to undermine secrecy. This has been rebranded as sharing content. ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ is anathema to serious magical and ritual work. This is a necessary correlative to the destruction of the body; only digital artefacts are accorded any significance.

When, in Apocalyptic Witchcraft, I suggested we disconnect from the digital you could almost hear the howl of anguish, for these very reasons. What is missed is that I have consistently proposed an alternative, what Maxine Sheets-Johnstone calls ‘a corporeal turn.’ Sheets-Johnstone is a phenomenologist, and former dancer, who has cut a swathe through philosophy, anthropology and psychology and evolutionary biology by showing how the supposed experts in their fields have excluded the body. Magic is often guilty of this too, being a head game dominated by men who have a startling lack of physical awareness. Let us remark that Plato in Timaeus writes: ‘It is therefore necessary that the mathematician, and anyone who strenuously performs any intellectual activity, should also give movement to his body by practicing gymnastics. While the man who is diligent in molding his body must in turn provide his soul with movement by cultivating music and philosophy in general, if either is to deserve to be called both fair and good.’ Everything begins with the body, and this is where our secrecy is to be found. Secret – i.e. offline – embodied experience, has far greater significance but it requires a stronger effort to orientate oneself to it, to escape from the gravity well of the monoculture. My proposal is that we engage in a black market, a series of exchanges carried on outside of the financial and legal economies of the panopticon. These are to be exchanges of meaning, outside of considerations of morality, which, like fiat currency, require both faith and debt. Such exchanges are typified by abundance, by excess, by sheer exuberance. They are encoded in the bodies of those who participate, bodies in motion which transmit this experience and transform others with the contagion that is life as lived and felt, not as watched, passing by.

Digital advocates must further account for the fact that we engage in behaviour that the state believes to be risky or designates as illegal. We use plants, chemicals and other gateways to altered states of consciousness. We are often sexual and gender outlaws. Our practice involves talking to dead people, gods, spirits and faeries: this makes us insane in the eyes of the monoculture. Some of us protest, or take direct action, against the infrastructure of industrial culture: this makes us extremists or terrorists. But these are just symptoms of our core experience, one that means we will always be enemies of the state, regardless of our dreams or actions. It makes a mockery of the whole liberal model that oppression is just some terrible misunderstanding and not the true face of power. Here it is for you, the irreducible issue which unites us all: the magician and witch are sovereign individuals, whom by their very existence, are in direct defiance of the social order whether people of the book or of the spreadsheet. This is the same reason that hierarchical Orders serve our ends so poorly: only suckers join pyramid schemes. There is no king of the witches, no council who speaks for us. It is our absolute sovereignty that places us in conflict with power structures. Our creed has never been ‘and it harm none’ but rather non serviam. We are temperamentally, if not politically, anarchists. Control, as Burroughs called it, is fiercely hostile to this. It has a zero tolerance inclination which, with the aid of technological advances, has obliterated any checks and balances on its quest to turn people into profit. The state must have a monopoly on power, and we must be made productive, trained by the clock to be cogs in the corporate machine. In contrast, in magic, we see ourselves as a constellation of stars, all self-aware though acting in relation to one another; Crowley got this part right. We do our Will. The panopticon in the starry metaphor is an event horizon that greedily refuses to let any light escape, does not permit autonomy, does not recognise your need to give consent.

Our existence and difference, however benign, makes us the enemy of the state, as we oppose its right to dictate our thoughts and prevent our taking action. Yet we are conveniently telling the state what we are thinking on our social media feeds and with our cascade of unchaste search terms. In essence, we are not googling the internet, it is googling us. The information we type in provides a dataset that enables those who own it to engineer our emotional states. Such an experiment in manipulation has been carried out on Facebook, perhaps the worst app you could use. Your sovereignty is being annexed, you are building the prison walls.

Surveillance is a snare. It ties us to our story of actions, in particular of our half-formed erotic escape plans; it both commodifies and threatens us with them. Sex is used to drag a response from our sedentary, slacking bodies, which are then punished. Culturally, we are made docile by the threat of the exposure of our appetites. Hyper-sexualised and de-eroticised, the limbo of texts and cam-clips circle back upon us like hungry ghosts. Replicated pixel perfect grabs of our orgasms vie with the lists of forbidden books, news and ideas – all reduced to trivia. We build firewalls in our own minds, fearing contagion, virus and, ultimately, exposure. Cyber utopianism has slipped to reveal another face of the Inquisition: our privacy, our secrecy, endlessly violated. When we feel that we are being watched, our behaviour inevitably changes. There is no wild sabbat celebrated when the woods are full of disembodied voyeurs holding up their phones on selfie sticks to record the life that they do not dare to live.

To conclude I would like to return to the example of Michel Foucault who confronted similar questions, although pre-internet. He writes:

It is possible that the rough outline of future society is supplied by the recent experiences with drugs, sex, communes, other forms of consciousness, and other forms of individuality. If scientific socialism emerged from the utopias of the nineteenth century, it is possible that a genuine socialisation will emerge, in the twentieth century, from experiences.

Foucault’s ‘experiences’ are those that civilisation has rejected. Foucault, of course, draws on Nietzsche, Bataille and de Sade. His is a radical amorality that recognises that the exercise of power is cruelty. He is unflinching, complex, contradictory; but what I like about Foucault is that he isn’t just talk. Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols famously wrote: ‘Only ideas won by walking have any value.’ Foucault went further, much further. Taking LSD in Death Valley provided the reset. At the same time he was engaging in the ‘limit experiences’ of the San Francisco gay scene, sex with strangers and heavy bdsm. He did not isolate these experiences but correlated them, they changed everything he had previously thought about sexuality. Such celebrating of experience is exactly what we need now. The physical ritual, the incarnate and carnal knowledge of what it means to be human. The rejection of consumerism and a skin-deep culture which is a facsimile of the body stretched over the scaffolding of industry. We need to go further into (the experience of) the body. Death bed regrets are always missed experiences, not possessions. Foucault did it, putting his life on the line. It was his unapologetic choice, the truth of his body, of his lived experience. We too must seek out these experiences, against which the power of the panopticon fades, we must be present in the flesh. Note how Foucault says: ‘it is possible’– it is not a given, it requires you to actively play your part.

Returning to magic, I would like you to understand, in the light of this, how vitally important in initiation is the grip, the touch, the holding of hands, the kiss, the physical communication of the mystery. The visual body is not the felt body. We need to develop greater empathy and incorporate that into our ritual work and wider lives. Empathy with your own body, with the bodies of others, animals and plants and spirits, distinguishes witchcraft from the elitist call to prayer sung by the muezzin from the tower of the black brother. Isolation is a lie. One could argue that secrecy is impossible, in that on a cellular level we cannot prevent the endless transmission of information. We are not towers of silence but a Witches’ Sabbat of interpenetrated information fields. All of us erotic living organisms in constant wordless exchange. It is for us to build an alternative through our present actions, our explorations, our play: all done without any spectators. This is more powerful than uploading a picture of your engorged genitalia. Love one another. Resistance and knowledge begins in your body. Secrecy remains an essential power of the sphinx.