The Sky is a Gateway, Not a Ceiling: Blood, Sex, Death, Magick and Transformation by Charlotte Rodgers glistens like a small jewel amidst the sometimes mind-numbing fog that obscures our collective visions under the banner of contemporary occult writing. Rodgers is an accomplished artist who crafts contemporary totems out of dead things, discarded materials and other non-traditional materials. She is also author of The Bloody Sacrifice and her autobiography P is for Prostitution. As she reveals in the first two books, she is also a largely self-taught magician who combines necromancy with art.
In Bloody Sacrifice, she revealed herself to be a first rate interviewer, who thoughtfully questioned a number of magickal practitioners of various disciplines about their use of blood in ritual magick. She brings her interview skills here to the forefront in an astonishingly good interview with performance artist Ron Athey. Frankly, I’m not the biggest fan of performance art, and never had much interest in seeing Athey. I figured, been there, done that, and he ain’t so good-looking that I’d pay to see him boast about it. But the sensitivity that Rodgers demonstrates in interviewing him took me entirely by surprise and realize a deeper cosmogony underlies the more sensational aspects of showmanship. I was particularly struck by how some of his thinking and technique build on methodologies for time travel, astral projections and self-grounding/healing that I’d learned from Cabell McLean courtesy of his mentoring by Burroughs. I realized that Athey is in a sense stepping forward upon their shoulders on his own creative magickal journey. In other words, there is a doctrine taking shape or even being realized in his expression to which I can relate. I was touched by Rodgers investigation. A less sensitive or intellectually acute interviewer would have made a hash of it, and I wouldn’t have been inclined to give Athey’s responses the time of day. She allows them to take shape through her subtle direction and observation.
However, I already knew what a fine journalist Rodgers is. What was maybe missing from Bloody Sacrifice was the development of what her personal praxis was regarding her subject. Perhaps its intensely personal nature made her want to step back too far from her subject. I think the transformative experience of the huge self-reveal she pulls off in P is for Prostitution really makes a huge difference here. She examines her own work bravely with immediately tactile and emotional references. Face it. What’s the point of any religion, system of spiritual or occult process unless it touches on and amplifies real life? We can just watch a Harry Potter movie at considerably less expense and pain if we wish to embark on fantasy games. By writing confidently through the filter of her own experience and not apologizing for it makes her experience and observation count.
One can only hope that this may foretell her bringing into existence a contemporary grimoire of blood work and necromancy into existence. She has long had the promise to do so. Now that she seems to have knocked down the boundaries between her own vital experience, craft and powers of observation in the current volume, she is extremely well positioned to do so.
The Sky is a Gateway also features illustrations by publisher by Roberto Migliussi that appear almost like contemporary Ensor drypoints depicting the ghost-witnesses to Rodgers’ life work. This all makes for a little book that you should snatch up now. If not you will end up shelling out two to three hundred quid for a second hand edition in a few years when the public gives Rodgers’ vision the attention it richly deserves.