Sex dolls and football

This article is from a few weeks back, and this post will probably kill my site’s SEO before it even gets off the ground, but whatever. This story is funny. And it gives me an excuse to ramble incoherently about sex magic.

Coronavirus football: FC Seoul apologises for ‘sex dolls’ in stands

On Sunday, FC Seoul played their first home match of the K League season.

The ground was empty – one of many measures designed to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak.

So before the match, a company called Dalcom offered to fill some of the empty seats, and the club agreed.

In total, there were 30 mannequins – 28 of them female, and two of them male.

However, fans watching online noticed that some of the mannequins looked more like sex dolls – and some were advertising x-rated websites – leading to the club apologising on Instagram and Facebook.

Sex dolls in the stands, as stand-ins for a crowd. Brilliant!

And weird, so it’s totally fine and “on-brand” for me to share it here. Right?

Okay, sure, it’s not exactly weird in the “high strangeness” sense, so let’s kick it up a notch.

Sex magic has become almost comically mainstream, especially in the last few years. Back in the early 2000s, comic book writer and noted chaos magician Grant Morrison was publicly asking fans of his comic The Invisibles to participate in a “global wackathon” to help him boost sales. Fast forward to March of this year, and we get this gem from Men’s Health.

In between these tent-poles there have been articles on sex magic in Vice, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. Not to mention such an astounding number of books, YouTube videos, and Instagram posts that I won’t even try to link them here.

It’s a very strange, yet very welcome phenomenon to see magic given such lengthy write-ups in the mainstream press, particularly when those write-ups often come across as downright favorable. I have some theories as to why sex magic in particular seems to get better treatment than, say, astrology, but that’s beside the point.

Closer to the point is the fact that sex magic isn’t as universally practiced, nor is it even as accepted in magical circles as some of these articles make it sound.

Sex magic is a contentious topic, and discussions about it often run up against a host of other hot button issues.

  • If sex magic is the end-all, be-all, where does that leave asexual people?
  • What, if anything, does our modern understanding of gender and sexuality have to say about sex magic?
  • Is sex always a magical act? If so, what does that say about casual sexual encounters? And when does “all sex is magic” start looking a lot like “slut shaming?”
  • Is mystifying sex just another way for puritanical, Christian values to hang around long past their expiration date?
  • Is the “sex = manifestation” idea a direct successor to “sex = procreation” and how problematic is that?

Spend a socially-isolated Friday night trolling through old magic forums and Twitter rants about sex magic and you’ll see these questions and dozens more pop up all the time.

You’ll also see a lot of ALL-CAPS.

The idea of centering sex in a magical or religious practice is all but guaranteed to bring out this kind of energy. Our individual attitudes toward sex are often deeply ingrained from an early age, and intertwined with all sorts of other subjects from gender roles to our ideas of what is “dirty” versus what is “clean.” When we adopt a metaphysics which claims sex is an act of manifestation, might we also be at least tacitly allowing all of its associated cultural baggage to take a seat at the table?

This is all just food for thought, but it’s worth thinking about. Sex magic is guaranteed to be around for a while, if human history is any indicator. Sex and mysticism have been inextricably linked since our earliest days on this planet. Google up some of the theories regarding the “Venus of Willendorf” if you’d like to start down that rabbit hole.

Which brings us back to sex dolls, and the fact that as hilarious as a stadium full of them might sound, consider this: FC Seoul did win the match that day.

I doubt that’s what they were going for when they placed their order, but it makes good fodder for a silly blog post. Besides, who’s to say a few dozen big-breasted, gape-mouthed silicone fans in the stands didn’t have an effect, intended or not?

In fact, why not invite an inflatable coworker to your next Zoom meeting? See what happens.

Maybe you’ll get a promotion!

You cannot separate magic from politics

I’ve been quieter than usual here and on social media this week and last, but not absent. I’ve been rage-scrolling Twitter, reading post after post, watching video after video.

Thousands of them.

I’ve also been talking to people. I’m sharing information that’s crossed my timeline with family and friends, and discussing things like mutual aid, parallel structures, and community organization.

People in my social circles are increasingly-motivated by the news to try a new way of living, because what we have now is not only not working for everyone’s benefit, it’s fundamentally disastrous for far too many.

And the headlines are helping for once! I’m seeing major news outlets print words I never thought I’d live to see.

“American police shoot, kill and imprison more people than other developed countries. Here’s the data”

“Minneapolis lawmakers vow to disband police department in historic move”

“Defund the Police”

That these ideas are being discussed by the general public at all is surprising. That action is actually being taken to implement them is nothing short of mind-blowing.

It isn’t exactly unprecedented, though.

Look to the Haitian Revolution if you want an example which isn’t as well-known to white people in the United States as the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

I became aware of it a few years ago, when I exhausted my local library’s small collection of books on the history of New Orleans and Louisana Voodoo. I wasn’t “trolling for tech,” but rather looking to get a “ten-thousand-foot view” of how religion and magic evolved in colonial America. I had no illusions that I’d do more than scratch the surface with the titles available to me, but I didn’t really intend on a deep dive anyway.

But you can’t look too hard at Louisiana Voodoo without looking at Haitian Vodou, and you can’t look at Haitian Vodou without looking at Haiti and its history.

I won’t present any of that history here. Look up Professor Bayyinah Bello and listen to what she has to say on the topic. It’s not my wheelhouse.

None of this is, save that some of my ancestors built this sinking ship, and it’s going to take all hands to build a bigger, better boat for everyone.

But this is a blog about magic, and I can’t close out this post without mentioning something that many (though fortunately not all) of my fellow white, magical practitioners sometimes forget.

You cannot separate magic from politics.

But for the thin, white thread stretching from the Solomonic tradition, to the Golden Dawn and beyond, magic has most commonly been a tool of resistance. It has been performed in the shadows not because of shame, but because of oppression. It has been oppressed not out of some vague notion of righteousness, but because it directly challenged authority. And it has challenged authority because it offers freedom from the “manifest destiny” imposed upon those who practice it.

From the revolutionary metaphysics implied in the working of a spell to change the world, to the use of fortune telling by the otherwise-unemployable to earn a living, magic can almost be described as power for the powerless.

It’s more than this, though.

Magic is culture. It’s how we see the world, the words we use to describe it, and the actions we take within it. It’s what we do, and what we don’t do. It’s what we set aside, and what we bring with us. It’s what we silence, and what we listen to. It’s what we put down, and what we uplift.

Anyone who practices magic in the “West” shares a common history of resistance in the face of oppression. In some traditions, this history is far more tragic and cruel than it is in others.

As a white person who practices magic, it’s not my place to play sorting hat, arranging people according to their suffering. Nor is it my place to offer my own thoughts and feelings about that suffering. Rather, it’s my responsibility to stand in solidarity with the people crying out for change, and my duty to help affect that change in any way I can.

Sometimes magic is candles and conjuration.

Sometimes it’s donating money in support of black lives and communities of color.

Sometimes it’s supporting black-owned, small businesses instead of multi-national corporations with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Sometimes it’s working with others to dismantle the oppressive systems that allow, if not outright create, the injustices that the mainstream is finally talking about.

And sometimes, this time, it’s all of the above.

Weird up your religion

I usually ignore the New York Times because of their aggressive pay-walling, but this op-ed crossed my feed this morning and I think it’s worth reading.

Christianity Gets Weird

“More and more young Christians, disillusioned by the political binaries, economic uncertainties and spiritual emptiness that have come to define modern America, are finding solace in a decidedly anti-modern vision of faith. As the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdowns throw the failures of the current social order into stark relief, old forms of religiosity offer a glimpse of the transcendent beyond the present.

“Many of us call ourselves ‘Weird Christians,’ albeit partly in jest. What we have in common is that we see a return to old-school forms of worship as a way of escaping from the crisis of modernity and the liberal-capitalist faith in individualism.

“The Weird Christian movement, loose and fledgling though it is, isn’t just about its punk-traditionalist aesthetic, a valorization of a half-imagined past. It is at its most potent when it challenges the present, and reimagines the future. Its adherents are, like so many young Americans of all religious persuasions, characterized by their hunger for something more than contemporary American culture can offer, something transcendent, politically meaningful, personally challenging. Like the hipster obsession with ‘authenticity’ that marked the mid-2010s, the rise of Weird Christianity reflects America’s unfulfilled desire for, well, something real.”

–Tara Isabella Burton, from an op-ed published in the New York Times, May 8, 2020

There’s a lot going on in the piece, but the gist of it is that there’s a small but potentially growing progressive answer to the so-called “trad cath” and other Christians who’ve been looking to the middle ages for their religion. I say “progressive” because of their rejection of the white nationalism, heteronormativity, and misogyny so prevalent among folks self-applying the “traditionalist” label, but they still oppose abortion so..take the term or leave it.

The politics though, while interesting, aren’t the most interesting bit to me. Rather, it’s the use of the word “weird.”

Weirdness is relative. And to be honest, I wouldn’t call anything mentioned in that op-ed “weird.” It certainly isn’t the Christianity most visible in mainstream America–with its white, gun-toting Jesus swilling beer at a NASCAR race–but it’s also not completely outside the norm to embrace flamboyant pageantry, community-based devotion, and what amounts to a kind of syncretization of old-school practices with the dominant culture.

I mean, that’s kind of the entire history of Catholicism, isn’t it?

From it’s arrival in Gallo-Roman Europe, to the African Diaspora, to Día de Muertos you see Catholicism (and later Protestantism) get adapted, tweaked, and tugged around pre-existing belief systems and cultural practices–including magical practices. Spend an evening on a deep dive into Psalm 51, and try counting the number of cultures and magical traditions that have embraced it as one, mean banishing ritual.

But even looking at the early church and the evolution of its now-mainstream teachings, you see this happen. The Marian cult, the cult of the saints–take a look at the church’s first millennium warnings about angel veneration, then ask how we wound up with Saint Michael.

Catholicism has been gloriously weird from the beginning. But hey! It’s nice of folks to notice again.