Mogg Morgan : Avalonia Author Interviews
( May 2005: MM indicates answers by Mogg Morgan, Q indicates question posed by Sorita)
Q: Mogg, you have long been involved in both the magickal and pagan communities here in the UK. How did you yourself become involved with magick?
MM: At the risk of sounding pretentious – I’d say everyone is born a pagan – which is my excuse for not being able to remember when I got involved. If you manage to avoid baptisms, circumcisions etc – then you end up a magician ; )
Q: So, who or what inspired you the most on your own personal path?
MM: Footsteps of the Gnostic Sphinx –
‘One foot from the teacher comes;
A second from others on the path;
A third from your very own self;
Lastly through the passage of time.’
The Book of Shu
So several mentors over the years – often from friends – but maybe Jan Fries would be both a mentor and friend – I learnt a lot from him and was lucky to be able participate in several public workshops as well as just hanging out in the German forest with him – Ireally like his ‘seething’ technique – suits my temperament – and works well with several different ‘systems’ like tantrism.
Q: Over the years you have also been involved with a number of occult societies and organisations. You were also the initial founder of the Oxford Golden Dawn Occult Society (OGDOS). Could you tell us a bit more about this?
MM: I’ve not had too much luck with magical organisations – my initiation into AMOOKOS was followed pretty soon after by my expulsion from the OTO. It wasn’t the entire reason but it was part of the equation. AMOOKOS was to be a more ‘rosicrucian’ organisation – but even that went pear shaped – the guru went gaga and forgot who everyone was! I suppose you know something has arrived when people want to tear it apart – certain American followers were able to take advantage of dadaji’s confusion and persuade a sanyasin, someone who had renounced all property – to assign his intellectual property to an American organisation. So after looking for sanctuary from the OTO, I found myself in another copyright dispute!! Hence I am very wary of magical organisations.
OGDOS is very low key – I’d place it within the Rosicrucian fold as far as structure goes – as opposed to the more ‘Masonic’ mode which, IMO, has had its day.
Q: Having experienced this side of magickal groups, is there anything in particular that you think causes groups to come apart? Or is it just a side-effect of being human?
MM: Some of it is group dynamics – I think it was Starhawk who said it takes about two years before you know whether a group will survive and bond – then seven years is maybe the maximum it can work coherently before you need a bit of a shake up – hey thats the ‘seven year itch’ maybe we’re talking about relationships. The ‘permanent revolution’ aspect to magick is maybe one of its strengths.
Q: You are based in Oxford, where you have over the years organised many events. What is the special appeal of that city and would you ever leave?
MM: Ever since I came to Oxford as a schoolboy I knew I would one day live in the city. I even ended up on the steps of the oriental institute – where I did – after many delays – end up a student. So part of the appeal is the intellectual life here. But perhaps equally is the role the city plays as a power zone or omphalos. There is a famous story in the Mabinogi about the twin dragons of Oxford – which some say is a memory of its iron age position as a sacred centre in the landscape. I’ve noticed how others have been drawn by its energy.
Q: Oxford is certainly a magickal place, and one I am also personally fond of, are there any other places in the UK which hold a similar appeal to you?
MM: Sure lots – the magick of landscape has always been something I relate to – so the usual suspects – Cornwall, Cumbria – elemental landscapes wherever they can be found.
But I should also say my home town – not that its a particularly special place but the places of your youth tend to get imprinted and take on an archetypal quality – I often still have special dreams of the streets of my youth. I was brought up by the banks of the river Usk in Newport – very industrial – but I was always drawn to a little village just outside called Caerleon – right from when I can remember I walked there – my parents still live there so I spend lots of time in Caerleon – whose most famous resident is Arthur Machen. I know all the places in the stories really well – have slept on the hill of dreams etc…
Q: Much of your current work seems to be centred around Tankhem. What is Tankhem and who would it appeal to?
MM: If you want to get involved with OGDOS or understand where it’s coming from – I’d say read my book ‘Tankhem’ (well I would say that wouldn’t I?). see Tankhem as the continuation of the Typhonian current started by Crowley, then of course adumbrated in the works of Kenneth Grant. I thought it best to coin a new name as there are some differences with KG’s take on the mythos – you would expect that.
Tankhem is a combination of Hindu tantrism with western hermeticism. If you think about it you might agree that this east-west componant has been there right from the beginning of the occult revival – even in Blavatsky, definitely in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn the very name of the OTO encapsulates that, and AMOOKOS is styled an east-west tantrik order. The Golden Dawn is an experience rather than a set of magical practices.
Q: What would you say are the main differences between the way in which Kenneth Grant views the Typhonian current and how it is viewed in your system?
MM: The major thing is that the constellation of Seth is Ursa Major – not as I think he might give the impression – Sothis/Sirius which contains the soul of Isis, perhaps Hathor. The ‘confusion’ – if such it is – comes about because there is indeed a mysterious connection between Seth & Hathor.
Q: You also often give talks on the Egyptian God Seth, how relevant do you feel he is for today?
MM: Seth has been the hidden god for Magick, Witchcraft and the Northern Tradition are involved with his cult – Sethian componant – for example dream control, sexuality or intoxication. The more I research the more I find he is very contemporary, very relevant to the modern day. He is also relevant in wider issues such as ecology, community/kingship; individualism/statism; rosicrucian/masonic.
Q: Any tips you can share for someone wanting to work with Seth and finding it difficult?
MM: Seth may be like Kali – ferocious outer form – benign form to his ‘companions’ – a demonic initiator – so be aware – drawn down the plough and the rest will follow – get into all things lunar.
Q: I remember you giving a talk on the Goddess Isis in India some years ago at (what was then) Talking Stick, which I found absolutely fascinating. Any plans on putting any of that material into a book?
MM: Isis in India is the more tantrik side of the Tankhem formula. Some of the detailed work is on the back boiler for the time being whilst I unravel the whole Egyptian side. I hope to get back into that in a year or two or perhaps assist others to do that work.
I have published a facsicule of that as an ebook which I’ve been distributing as a bonus cd with my novel ‘The English Mahatma’ or with another book called ‘tantra sadhana’. I started TEM before I discovered all the Isis in India material – so it leaves a lot out (synchonicity here – the novel concerns a tantrik temple with a secret chamber – then unknown in Indian architecture – about half way through the book I discovered that there were some special but rare Hindu temples that did have secret underground chambers – whose function was unknown – coincidentaly these same were connected with influences coming from Egypt – hence Isis in India). So I thought I’d write another even better novel called ‘Pan’s Road’ (I like to write two books at once – one is a fictional version of the non fiction study.) But as you might expect with Pan’s Road – it was supposed to lead to India but took off and landed me somewhere else ; ).
If anyone orders Tankhem or The English Mahatma direct from me I will include Isis in India if you remind me I said that – there are plans for my distributor Gazelle to make some offprints to distribute with the new edition of Tankhem
If you want to order this directly from Mogg visit Mandrake of Oxford
Q: In your writings and talks you are very open in your discussion of sexuality. Do you feel that people are more open about their sexuality now than, say, 20 years ago?
MM: I know – embarassing ain’t it ; )
I think that would be a topic for some sort of survey as I’m really not sure. When I hang out with the kind of people who are coming to Omphalos (see below) I think they are all much freer these days – more into polymorphous perversity etc. (my amenuensis asks what does that mean – is it the same as sh*gging fish?) Things have definitely moved on from the ultra conservative ideas of the 1970s occultists. The contemporary pagan scene is definitely a very tolerant milieu. Although many people say they want more than tolerance. Gender varient people played a role in for example the foundation of Wicca but this has yet to be written into the cosmological foundations of its magick – maybe thats’ where Seth can help.
Here’s a simple thought experiment – imagine you are in the circle and have been asked to work with the aura of the person next to you. If you find they are the same gender – how does that make you feel?
Q: Why do you think that the emphasis in tradition such as Wicca has become so obsessed with male/female polarity?
MM: That’s the ‘natural’ way – probably shouldn’t knock it too much – I’m more interested in the way witchcraft is coverging with themes such as the ‘hidden god’ and more transgressive ideas in magick. The true companion of Seth recognises the validity of all these path – the role of the moon, and of the goddess are important themes within the sethian tradition – one thought I have is that the whole male/female ideology stems from the Neolithic cattle cults – whereby one male bull (Seth) is paired with seven cows (Hathors) – now there’s an interesting polarity : )
Q: What is the best thing about Magick?
MM: Everyone feels entitled to have big ideas.
Q: Having been involved within magickal circles for as long as you have, you must have a huge archive of “amusing” stories – are there any that you can (and want!) to share with our visitors?
MM: When you’ve been around as long as I have you get the low down on almost everyone on the scene – but don’t worry – my lips are sealed.
Q: You ran the highly successful National Thelemic Symposium for 11 years from 1986-1996, and then the Ananke Conference in 1999. Do you have any plans for any more magickal conferences?
MM: I’m at the stage of helping others newer faces organise the events – I like to add some of my energy to other peoples projects (thats a very Sethian thing) – hence I really liked doing the ‘pleasure dome’ at the Occulture Festival. So next big event for me is helpng out at the Bath Omphalos groups magical art faire in April .
Q: What was the pleasure dome?
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
Q: Any other exciting projects in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
MM: I’m very excited about the book i’m working on for release later in the year. Tankhem only approaches some of these important themes – viz : the erotic landscape (I see this has been picked up by others who are calling it ecosexuality); ordinary language trance, the lunar mysteries of seth, the once and future astral temple, the lunar tarot, the hidden god etc -. The new one will, I hope, take it one step beyond ……..
The mysterious, and often revolutionary Mogg Morgan is well known within magickal and pagan circles in the UK for his work on Tankhem, running magickal art exhibitions and conferences and often giving interesting and cutting-edge lectures at both national and local events.