- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Weiser Books; First Edition edition (December 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1578634768
- ISBN-13: 978-1578634767
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic: The Essential Ida Craddock Paperback – December 1, 2010
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"Ida Craddock is an unsung heroine of women's liberation and alternative spirituality who literally sacrificed herself in the long battle with the forces of social repression that resulted in the freedom of choice in sexual matters that we take for granted today. Sexologist and occult scholar Vere Chappell brings Craddock to life in this incisive yet sympathetic biography. He also lets her speak for herself by including her seminal work, Heavenly Bridegrooms." -Hymenaeus Beta, Frater Superior O.T.O.
"Ida Craddock was a turn-of-the-century spiritualist who married, and had sex with, an angelic being. She even wrote an essay about it entitled Heavenly Bridegrooms. (Aleister Crowley said that no occult library was complete without it.) Centuries ahead of her time, she championed the divine purpose of sex. As a result she was persecuted by moral tyrant Anthony Comstock and a puritanical, misogynistic society. Eventually she was arrested and sentenced to a long prison term. She committed suicide instead, and left behind both a private letter to her mother and a letter meant for the public. Both of those letters and Heavenly Bridegroom are incorporated into this exciting and timely biography. Thanks to lawyer Theodore Schroeder, Craddock's writings were preserved for a century. Many of them were the basis for later occult treatises. Now Vere Chappell has updated them and made them accessible to modern readers. The result is a monumental, not-to-be-missed contribution to the histories of occultism, sexuality (and tantric practices), and women's rights. -Anna Jedrziewski, New Age Retailer
"Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic is an excellent book about fascinating topics! A great addition to any respectable sex library." -Annie Sprinkle Ph.D., Sex Worker turned author and Ecosexual Sexecologist
"Finally, we have a book that does justice to Ida Craddock's important but often-overlooked role in the histories of feminism, sex therapy, and sacred sexuality. I can think of no better person than Vere Chappell to introduce this remarkable woman to a new generation. Chappell artfully weaves together a selection of Ida Craddocks' key writings with an insightful biography that takes readers along on her fascinating journey from stenographer to advocate, provocateur, and martyr of freedom. Highly recommended." -Richard Kaczynski PhD, author of Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley and The Weiser Concise Guide to Aleister Crowley
"While many of her ideas would be laughable by the standards of sexologists today, they were visionary in the late 1800's. Simply by being willing to discuss sexuality at all and espousing its enjoyment as a right for women as well as men, Ida Craddock was a pioneer and deserves to be known. Vere Chappell's Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic: The Essential Ida Craddock informs us thoroughly on the life and work of this remarkable woman." -Isadora Alman MFT, Ask Isadora columnist and author of Bluebirds of Impossible Paradises: a Sexual Odyssey of the 70's
"She has put down statements in plain English which are positively staggering. This book is of incalculable value to every student of occult matters. No Magick library is complete without it." -Aleister Crowley's praise for Craddock's 1894 book Heavenly Bridegrooms
"Within the first few pages of this brilliant book, Dr. Chappell resurrects the heroic Ida Craddock from the depths of obscurity to the vanguard of modern consciousness. Her courageous struggle against ignorance, superstition, and tyranny is seared into the reader's awareness as we observe her persecution by those who vilified her truths as blasphemy. This book also provides the first publication of a number of skillfully-annotated copies of Craddock's all-but-unknown writings. Her revolutionary teachings will be of great value to an audience prepared by the century of social progress Ida Craddock fought so earnestly to create. Aleister Crowley, another sexual outlaw, called her writings on erotic mysticism, "of incalculable value to every student of occult matters"." -James Wasserman, editor of Aleister Crowley and the Practice of the Magical Diary and author of An Illustrated History of Solomon's Temple
"Sexual Outlaw and Erotic Mystic is an important book about a remarkable woman: Ida Craddock. Sex educator and sexual mystic, Spiritualist, teacher, rabble-rouser, free-thinker, and unfortunate suicide, her life's work advanced both spiritual exploration and social liberation. As a contemporary magic worker, I feel that we are greatly in her debt, and are fortunate to have this record of the life and writings of this little known--yet highly influential--person. Bravo, Vere Chappell." -T. Thorn Coyle, author of Kissing the Limitless and founder of Morningstar Mystery School
About the Author
Vere Chappell is a writer, photographer, and researcher specializing in spirituality and sexuality. He has a bachelor's degree in Cognitive Science, a Master of Business Administration, and a doctoral degree in Human Sexuality. He has traveled throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, including research trips to Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Thailand, and Nepal. He has lectured extensively on sexuality and the occult, and written numerous papers and articles on the subject. Author website: www.erotology.net
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I was first exposed to Ida Craddock in Aleister Crowley's enthusiastic review of her Heavenly Bridegrooms, published only a few years after her death, in his occult periodical, The Equinox. It was not until one of his successors, Marcelo Motta, published two of Ida's works in his much later The Equinox vol. V that I was able to actually read Heavenly Bridegrooms and Psychic Wedlock for myself. While Motta should be commended for having seen the value of these works and having brought them to the attention of his readers, his versions were problematic in several ways. In any event, they are largely unavailable now.
It was, therefore, beyond time for a new edition of these works. Chappell has done an outstanding job of providing it. Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic not only provides the text of her two classic works of erotic mysticism, Heavenly Bridegrooms and Psychic Wedlock, but also a number of other writings, some complete, and a longer one only in excerpt. The first of these writings is a delightful, yet fiery, defense of bellydancing performers at the Chicago World's Fair. Also, Chappell includes two of her practical sexual manuals intended for those who were married or contemplating marriage. While some of the advice in these works may seem quaint, superstitious, or even prudish to most modern readers, they remain valuable reading as important documents in the history of sexual liberation. And, it must be said, much of Craddock's advice rings true even today. Her diary excerpts are also remarkable. They include entries describing her actual experiences with her angelic lover. The accounts of these experiences are as raw, as intimate, as sweet, and as real, as a memoire of any mundane romance.
As well as anthologizing these writings, Chappell also contextualizes them by introducing them through sympathetic biography. Chappell reveals Craddock as a courageous visionary who faced estrangement from her mother, harrassment by Anthony Comstock, imprisonment by the government, and finally death to deliver her message of sexual health for couples and transcendent sexual gnosis for all. Her final letters, written as she prepared to take her own life (in preference to her impending return to incarceration), are a poignant portrayal of a woman still sure of her mission -- and of her place in the world beyond death.
Chappell ends his narrative in a moving account of how she was the ultimate victor over her oppressors, especially the man who hounded her literally to death, Anthony Comstock. This fine volume is a poignant testimony to this saintly woman. As she left life, confidently expecting to be taken up into the arms of her Heavenly Bridegroom -- her love, from whom she no longer need be parted -- I can imagine her spirit signing,
"Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still if Thou abide with me."
Who is Ida Craddock? The photo of Craddock on the cover shows an attractive woman of her era (she was born in 1857 and sadly took her own life in 1902). If not for her claims of having an intimate relationship with an angelic being, she would very much fit the profile of a conservative spinster. However, Craddock's willingness to discuss sex (and the idea that the act may exist for reasons other than procreation), whether you believed her partner was an entity from the "Borderlands" or an elicit, but earthly affair, forever changed the way that people view sex, magical and new thought traditions consider sex, and she ended up dying a martyr in the fight for free speech. She defended the belly dancers of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, championed the idea of sex as a spiritual act, and in the end, faced off with the notorious Anthony Comstock. Craddock lost the battle with Comstock, but the publication of her suicide note certainly turned the tides of the war champions of free speech were waging against him.
When Craddock took her life, her work was packaged away to be kept safe. Despite endorsements from medical professionals, spiritual leaders, and several members of high society, Craddock's persecution led her to determine that society may not be ready for her work. Fortunately, through the diligence of the lawyer Theodore Schroeder her works were preserved, and now author Vere Chappell has polished and compiled them for a culture that may be ready to learn more about Craddock and her writing.
Vere Chappell provides the readers with important unedited Craddock writings, such as "Heavenly Bridegrooms" and "The Danse du Ventre (Dance of the Abdomen) as performed in the Cairo Street Theatre, Midway Plaisance Chicago: Its Value as an Educator in Marital Duties", but more importantly he provides the necessary historical context to understand Craddock's work and life.
"Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic" gives the reader amazing insight into the life and work of woman little mentioned but deserving in recognition.