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Although it’s the men of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn we associate with the magical order, specifically the great poet and mystic W.B. Yeats and the sociopath and con man Aleister Crowley, women were fundamental to its running from the very beginning. Unlike the Christian churches they mostly came from, either Catholic or Protestant, women were allowed to be priestesses, allowed to write doctrine, allowed to design ceremonies. Not only allowed, but simply did. For these independent-minded late-19th-century and early-20th-century women, moving from the dominant religion to a religion of the occult and mystical moved them from subordination into power.

The rise of the Golden Dawn, and Spiritualism in the United States, came at a troubled time. There was widespread poverty, a rigid patriarchal system, disease, and high mortality rates in children. With so much instability, it was difficult for many to simply live their lives with dignity. Alcohol consumption was high, domestic violence was treated casually, and many died young. In such times, it can be difficult to imagine how to get through tomorrow, let alone how to envision a better future. More… “The Feminine Mystic”

Jessa Crispin is editor and founder of Bookslut.com. She currently resides in Chicago.
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Life's a beach.
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The Shape of Things to Come is the name of the H.G. Wells science fiction novel of 1933 which inspired Alexander Korda’s 1936 movie, Things to Come. Is there a shape of things to come? Does history have a shape as a whole?

For some ancient Greeks and Romans, history was a downhill slide. In Works and Days, the Greek poet Hesiod identified five ages, each worse than the one before, from the age of the Gold to the present age of Iron. In his Metamorphoses, Ovid presents a version of this scheme.

Nowadays some optimists think that history slants in the opposite direction. Some techno-utopians argue that technological progress is following an exponential curve, a J that is bending upward toward the vertical. At some point in the next generation or two the “singularity” will occur — a sort of secular apocalypse in which advanced technology transforms humanity and the world beyond recognition.
More… “The Shape of Things to Come”

Michael Lind is a contributing writer of The Smart Set, a fellow at New America in Washington, D.C., and author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States.
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Presenting your news!
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Transparent raked in the Emmys, Caitlyn Jenner continues to makes headlines, and it’s a big time for visibility in the trans community. The discussion of gender identity and neutral pronouns has left professor and author Melvin Jules Bukiet wondering how new pronouns will fit in with existing English grammar and social structure. (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

We’re throwing away our lives — or at least our chives. Solving our international food waste problem is necessary to end the global hunger crisis and feed a growing population. One Canadian family dug into their trash bin for six months to see if they could cut back. (The Walrus)

Fifty years ago, 2015 may have been predicted to be more metallic-and-spandex than it turned out to be, but technology has come a long way. Claire Cameron spoke to five scientists about the biggest scientific surprises, triumphs, and disappointments of the past half-century. (Nautilus) •

Maren Larsen is the associate editor of The Smart Set. She is a digital journalism student, college radio DJ, and outdoor enthusiast.
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