“The Eyes of Goats and of Women”: Femininity and the Post-Thelemic Witchcraft of Jack Parsons and Kenneth Grant
While Aleister Crowley’s religion of Thelema deals with notions of witchcraft peripherally, in the 1950s Crowley’s disciple John Whiteside Parsons sought to establish a duotheistic witchcraft tradition which focused on the veneration of Lucifer and the Thelemic goddess Babalon. Kenneth Grant, briefly Crowley’s secretary, instead melded Thelema and Tantra with notions of witchcraft in his perennialist concept of a “Typhonian Tradition”. In different ways, Parsons and Grant both link witchcraft to a primordial magical tradition in which women acted as leaders and initiators, and female sexuality was sacralised. This chapter will analyse and compare Parsons’s and Grant’s interpretations of witchcraft, focusing especially on their gendered aspects. I suggest, firstly, that these authors’ engagement with concepts of witchcraft can be read as part of an endeavour to position femininity as central to magic, and, secondly, that the intersection of second-wave feminism and Paganism exerted a stronger influence on Grant’s writings than previously recognised.