I was supposed to be at a talk in 2 weeks, with the great Phil Hine, #2 in the list of important people in the Chaos Magic movement, but due to my travel dates, I had to rearrange that, and instead attended a similar event tonight, with Dave Lee, who is #3 #4 #5 depending on where you place Ray Sherwin and Ian Reed. I would rather unfortuantely put him at #5 therefore, but still , big important person, involved from the beginnings of the CM movement and pivotal to its development.
Christina, the lovely sweet little bit innocent and naiive woman who runs Treadwells, arranged an informal discussion evening with Mr Lee. The premise is, instead of them coming to present some form of new theory on the working practice of animal bones in tantric ouija or whatever, its far more interesting to actually talk about these people's lives; how did they get into what they do, how does it affect their daily lives, do they see dead people, do they talk to trees etc...
For those who don't know, which is most, likely all, of you, Dave Lee is a scientist by training, biochemistry, graduated University of Leeds in the 70s, and thus rather sceptical where religion is concerned. He actively describes himself as an atheist. But, as he points out, that does not mean he is not open to the ideas of higher consciousness, which is something entirely different.
One of the most interesting points he made during the evening was along the lines of the following. Atheists tend to say, they rely on science etc, science explains everything. And the scientific method is very good, and works. But it *doesn't* explain everything. 'Scientifically' observed and proven phenomena in psychology for example, does not reduce to the scientific language of maths, and molecular interactions. But just because you can try to describe 'the mind' in terms of science (grey, squidgy mass, electrical pulses, chemicals, etc...) does not negate, or conveniently render redundant the effects of physchology on that mind. It's all about languages. Quantum mechanics is great and explains a lot, but the problem comes that people are trying to explain quantum maths, with imaginary numbers in it, in english, and trying to see it, through the lenses of a relativistic universe, which if you're lucky works, but mostly doesn't. But doesn't mean either the relativisitic or quantum explanations are inherently wrong.
Anyway, back to the point... Listening to Dave Lee talk about his life, and his workings, was like having a conversation with a university professor. They mentioned things, and you went 'oooh i know what that is' and you could follow the dialogue perfectly well, and all the random internal references, and part of you goes, okay, i do actually know a reasonable amount about this subject. But at the same time, with every word they say, they demonstrate just how much more they know. Sure, you've read about that battle, you even wrote an essay on it, but they wrote the fucking commentary on it; they were part of the archaeological survey team; they presented their inaugron on it; you can follow what they're saying, but you're small fry comparatively.
It was nice really, by virtue of my magical and religious background, I know a fair bit, I can educate most people on tantra, kabbalistic ritual and meaning, christian doctrine, etc..., but i couldn't argue kabbalah with a hari krishna. i couldn't argue silver ravenwolf with a wiccan. I know enough to hold my own respectfully, but against a devout, they're probably going to know more about it than I am. But Dave Lee was dropping references left right and centre - the IOT, the pact, edred thorssen, pete carroll, ian reed, chaos international, the book of laws, liber mmm, liber nox, liber null, liber 777, aeonics, austin osman spare, the sorcereror's apprentice in Leeds, etc... and I knew it, all, I had a good working knowledge, and could happily argue my way with anybody on it and comfortably hold my ground. It was nice to get a bizzare confirmation that yes, I had read the 'right' things, insomuch as anything is right for chaos magic, i did understand the development of it, where it had come from, how the framework had been constructed, its influences, etc. And yet, at the same time, I was acutely aware I needed to go and study everything in much further depth. I might understand the development and evolution of these practicies, but Dave Lee was there, developing and evolving them back in the 70s and 80s, sure there's new developments to come, and to a large extent they're personal, especially in chaos magic, but even still
We did also get an entertaining story of Dave Lee and 2 others invoking Baphomet, in broad daylight, on a traffic island in a busy junction, complete with robes on back in the 90s though. And once again, everyone in the room who *wasn't* in Leeds in the 70s and 80s (i.e. all of us, as pretty much anyone who was is a well known pagan practioner and author nowadays) really wished they were. So much shit happened in that city around that time, so much development, so many important shifts and experiments and paths. It's the modern version of the Golden Dawn development, fucking pivotal, even to wiccans.