An Athenæum Azostos Reflection on Approaching Babalon: Essays for the Abyss by Dr. Georgia Van Raalte
When Approaching Babalon by Dr. Georgia van Raalte (published by Temple of Our Lady of the Abyss, also known as Templum Abyssi) was nominated as a “small” book to fill in between classes and Dionysian work to be explored this Summer, it seemed unanimous and easy – we would approach Babalon and dive headfirst into the Current of the great paradoxical and primordial Goddess. If nothing else, we had been brought together by the Liminality of the Great Mother Worker from Afar… why not bond and pulse under the All-ness of the Great Mother within Us all?
We had not yet learned how to properly read the flows of the Current. We knew we were in it; we knew the Current had surged and eddied over the course of the last year or so. We had waded through Liber Khthonia, submerged ourselves in The Clovenstone Workings, and eddied and backflowed into various classes and interviews. We had bathed in it, relished. We had become great swimmers. The Current beckoned and we begged and it began and it bided and we birthed and it based. Gimme gimme, we called. Gimme gimme, it retorted.
“She is that which we call shadow. We cannot see Her – but we know Her solid for why else would this great shape rear where the light should be? She would be invisible if not for Her veil, which shimmers in folds round her vacuous solidity. There is no image of the the Goddess but the breasts and the rose; the moon and, sometimes, the honey bee.”Dr. Georgia van Raalte, Approaching Babalon, page 35.
Much like attempting to grasp water or air or abstractness, however, Babalon did not prove quite as “small”; nor did She flow in any one direction like the known streams of simplicity or the tides of timidity. She was ethereal but immovable, ephemeral but incessant, elaborate, intentional, enigmatic, and thoroughly untamed; She is anti-precious, anti-breakable, anti-graspable, anti-comprehendable, anti-definable. For the uns and the ins and antis She is Queen. She is blood. She was us.
“We have coded the chthonic as Other, but we are all children of the earth and the mountains. There is far more mud in us than stardust.”Dr. Georgia van Raalte, Approaching Babalon, page 36.
“She, the embodiment of Apocalyptic Change, came raining down on us like hellfire,” says Genaia of the Athenæum. Small, ha. Complex and deliberate and arcane, more like. Primordial, unchainable, Mistress of Mud. She of the Death and Decay and the Secrets and the Sway. Van Raalte defines her throughout the entirety of Approaching Babalon; each time a paradox – each time a rich contradiction and deep overlap of the innumerable faces of She. Give us the Abyss, Mother, give us hell. Give us all and nothing and every countable nuance of the Stars.
Says van Raalte regarding the Goddess of the “Mystery of Mysteries” (18):
“Babalon is a Modern Goddess. She has risen like a tide in response to two thousand years of the repression of the Divine Feminine in the West. Babalon is represented in a series of archetypes: the Divine Feminine, The Great Mother, The Succubus, the Initiatrix and the Holy Whore.”Dr. Georgia van Raalte, Approaching Babalon, page 17.
“Our journey into the Abyss was not without moments of destruction and upheaval. Even now, we feel Her scorching current coursing through us; the fumes of cosmic lava shaping our very perceptions” (Genaia). There is no linear way in which to traverse and immerse ourselves into the experiences that ensued; thus, we are not reviewing. We are reflecting. We absorb. We, too, discard our fetishes for fetishes and shit in the Filth of all that is Babalon, for like you we wish to “[l]earn from the caves; [that] true divinity is hag-like. We recognize the Ancient bearded father, why do we run from the dug-breasted ancient, this matriarch of ages? All of our monsters are women of power” (van Raalte 38). We, too, are powerful women. Fetishize the monster and the whore within us as we, Suspiria-like and awe-struck and frighteningly -humbled, approach The Woman and the Monster of Power. Once again, anti-linear. Once again, anti-review. Anti-Current. Anti-All.
Babalon is not the Current in which we have always written, typed away after experience and then given to you as a pitiful gift; She is the boulder beneath the surface of the Flow, disrupting, guiding, eddying, seething, foaming, calmly, calmer, calmer… then boiling above in the Fury of Femininity as the Siren of the Deep. You are not safe here.
Remember, “Babalon is another way of saying: You are Holy and Divine, because of your flesh, not despite it” (van Raalte 18). Says Genaia, “Babalon teaches us to regard all that we know as divine. Our filth is just as holy as our flame. We are born, we live, we die – and everything we experience is of the Gods as our prayers and devotional workings.”
At the end may we beg to decay and may we cadge to melee. Give us crawling and scrounging and writhing for more or give us death. No, give us all including death and we will regurgitate it in devotion to Her, a begrimed and blackened offering, but one that is truly Us, no? For, “Our Lady is Lady of Filth” (63). Take my cup of recycled filth, please, Lady.
Babalon is an eternal echo of ecstasis, and so as to not pervert Her ascent and descent of love and blood and mud, I will close this love letter to Approaching Babalon just as quickly as it began – a rush and a gush and a flow through the Current, over the chthonically-rooted monolith of She and and back again; a watery, salty, sweaty ouroboros of flame and filth and frenzy. Heed the eddies of the Stone of Salvation here, the Boulder of Blood. Heed the Currents above and the Streams below. Run sex, flow rot, course stardust and earth. Spill the iron of our blood and drift in and out of the mycelium. Abandon all who enter and return. Renounce, relinquish, relent. Submit to The Holy Whore. But never acquiesce, dear, never accede. Until then, we still cross the Abyss.
You are not safe here…
The artwork by Brazilian artist Luciana Lupe Vasconcelos for Approaching Babalon: Essays for the Abyss was striking and perfectly illustrated the current of Babalon. You can view more of her work and find out how to purchase prints through her active Instagram account @luciferovs.
Luciana is also currently exhibiting artwork in the United States for the first time in a joint exhibition titled MAGIA PROTETORA at the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft from July 1st through September 30th, 2022. Her work is displayed with the late Darcilio Lima (1944-1991), an artist that Luciana claims “became a sort of teacher hailing from beyond the lines of his drawings.” The exhibition is curated by the Stephen Romano Gallery.
“Devotional Hymn to Babalon” by Genaia de Carrefour
From aeons past through cosmic gates, the rising of thine infernal state. Thy chalice filled with filth and flame, spilling o’er thy voluptuous frame. But not for men whose carnality seeks, to suppress the Divine in feminine speak. False prophets’ and their masks deny, the truth of She, on Therion rides. Chorus: Holy of unholies, Mother Babalon, enfold me, (in) the Rose between us, the sting of the Bee, Scarlet One, we sing of thee. From fornications and sin’s delight, to the fury of thy feral bite. In Apocalypses, the matrix breaks, ego dissolving in a mire of fate. For in this blessing, death becomes sex, the cycle completes in the pitching of breath. An ouroboros of ecstatic sighs, the Truth of She, on Therion rides. Chorus: Holy of unholies, Mother Babalon, enfold me, (in) the Rose between us, the sting of the Bee, Scarlet One, we sing of thee. Bridge (2x): Liberation, consummation (And I’ll call you, and I’ll see you), Pleasure building and realized (And I’ll feel you from deep inside). Anguished swelling, in bloody dwellings (Falling for you, dying for you), Flowing from between my thighs (Scarlet Mother, hear our cries!). Chorus: Holy of unholies, Mother Babalon, enfold me, (in) the Rose between us, the sting of the Bee, Scarlet One, we sing of thee.
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