Da'at Darling, aka Georgina Rose, on the Occult
This interview references Aleister Crowley and his ceremonial magic system. For background information and some context, scroll down to the bottom of this page.
Da'at Darling is the online persona of Georgina Rose, a practicing occultist, Thelemite, podcast host, Instagram influencer, YouTube movie maker and writer operating out of New York City. She's a true creator with tens of thousands of followers across the planet whose videos reveal a personality that is elegant, enlightened, interesting, informative and funny.
Considering your personal spiritual beliefs, how do you feel about how magic, as well as the occult, is portrayed in film and television?
I always love seeing the occult in media and enjoy occult content in movies. I avoid using words like “magic” or saying things like “Western Goatia” when talking to people. They're going to think of movies if I do explain magic. I think people are studying it more now because they found out about the occult from modern media and movies.
I've noticed that in films and television shows like True Blood or Angel Heart, there's a trend to satisfy the male gaze by constantly equating occult ceremonies with young, nude women having sex a lot.
Yes, in Strange Angel, the series about Jack Parsons, they really amplify the nudity and sex. I've been to skyclad ceremonies with Alexandrian Wiccan Covens and a Gnostic Mass where people are naked, and it's usually 60- to 70-year-old men and women, not what you see in movies.
Hollywood also loves to portray people who practice the occult as if they are all dressed for a gothic nightclub. Most of the professionals I've met that study the occult are lawyers or hippies.
We are a lot more down to Earth. The Satanic Panic back in the 80's started that crazy cultist portrayal. Real occultists are mostly nerdy people, college professionals or government types. A lot of our symbols have been re-appropriated by Hollywood so people might not understand.
I grew up during the Satanic Panic. Honestly, seeing Satanists like Anton LaVey and that Army colonel, Michael Aquino, made me more interested because they dressed in all black and acted so cool on Phil Donahue. I've met more witches out here in California wearing muumuus than pointy black hats.
I certainly don't vibe well with the love and light crowd. Our occult scene has a very communal feeling. It's cozy and warm with a lot of academic people. It overlaps with the counterculture scene out here. I really like our community. I've also met a lot of Brooklyn hipster witches. Some of the occult groups out here on the east coast have been active for a very long time and can trace their lineage to the Thelemic British O.T.O. (Order Templi Orientis).
Why did you start studying the occult?
My story isn't very esoteric. I started studying the occult six years ago. I was always into reading history, philosophy and counterculture. The occult was so interesting and cool. I was in a rough place mentally at the time. It wasn't depression, it was just that I wasn't living the life I wanted. I bought a tarot deck and started studying folk practices, rituals, the Western Goatia and finally Thelema. My life changed a lot. I've grown since then and nothing bad has happened to me from studying it.
What do your parents think about the interest you have in the occult?
They've been very supportive. I grew up Christian. My family was Episcopalian, but not super religious or serious about it. We went to church on Christmas and Easter. I had a very good life growing up. They're glad that I'm still spiritual.
How has studying the occult been a benefit to you?
Thelema, for me, is about personal development. What I'm meant to do is a lot less about cursing people and more about self-development. The 70s New Age movement really embraced that side of the occult. It's still popular in modern media today for that reason. Thelema has rituals that can help you mentally. Now I have a great job, a good life, a happy relationship, clarity and insight.
Many people think magic works in real life like it does in the movies. I can understand why your average person doesn't believe the occult is real. They want scientific proof for everything.
That would be very hard to test. In my personal life, I can't prove it's real. Not everything you do in magic is about results. I can't throw fireballs. The occult is not entirely testable. It's a lot less flashy. Back in the 70s there was an attempt to prove magic by scientists, but the results were inconclusive. Recently there's been a trend to prove magic is real by treating it like an experiment. Some people take detailed scientific notes about everything. If a person wants to prove or disprove the occult, I don't care. If you disagree with my beliefs, that's fine. Even if it is not true, it works.
As a woman who practices the occult, have some men in the movement given you a hard time for studying real magic?
Yes. I experience a lot of it more because I'm into older forms of magical practice that are more male dominated. “You look like you're into crystal therapy.” Some men want to be dark, edgy and brooding. It doesn't work on me. “I work with death! I do rituals! You're my scarlet witch. I'm your spirit guide!” I've been sexualized by men, especially occult types. It's crazy.
What is your best advice for a young woman interested in studying the occult?
Do research and study yourself. Work up slowly. Don't jump into the deep end. Start a daily meditation routine for discipline. I think meditation is important. It keeps me grounded. Even if you're not into the occult, meditation is good. You don't have to be a practicing occultist to benefit from it.
How do older women who study the occult treat you?
With respect. I listen to them. In the grand scheme of things, some of them have been doing it for 30 or 40 years. When you meet an elder it's an honor. A lot of them have been studying it since during the Satanic Panic Era. Some of them studied it back then when there was a huge stigma.
The McMartin Preschool Trial really scared people. Because the adults used Satanic imagery to frighten the children, it made real occultists look bad even though the adults there weren't really practicing magicians. Attorneys like Andrew Vachss out in NYC that specialize in defending abused children have pointed out that child molesters use occult imagery to make the jury think the children made it all up. Draw a few pentagrams, wear a costume and the charges get dropped.
Moving on, you were recently a guest speaker at The Witchies out in NYC. What was that about?
So I did an award ceremony called The Witchies where I got a Podcaster of the Year Award from a group of publishers and published occult writers. We get together, have conferences, talk to each other and teach classes to other people. I've also been invited to an event in Glastonbury, UK this summer during the month of July called Avaloncon. Members of Thelema from throughout the UK will be there.
That's a tremendous honor!
As an American speaker I'm very excited.
How would you describe Thelema to the uninitiated?
Thelema was created by Aleister Crowley in the early 1900's. It synchronizes philosophical, religious and magical rituals into a distinct, coherent system for being an independent person. It's not restrictive or anti intellectual. Women had full power in Thelema.
Although Crowley got a lot of bad press, he was very ahead of his time. People forget how primitive the technology was compared to ours today. There were no computers or Internet. He was very aware of the importance of public image and branding to increase his popularity, despite the bad press. Crowley was printing his own fanzines long before the word “fanzine” existed.
He was. Crowley had a lot of fun with bad press. He had a bit of fun with it. He enjoyed the articles (written about him). Everything he said was true, sensational, teasing and toying. Nothing he said was technically false. Crowley spoke out against the restrictive and anti-intellectual. Crowley was also a feminist. Women had full power in Thelema. His biggest crime was that he slept with men, aside from saying edgy things.
It's incredible to think he was doing all of this in the 1900's, when technology was very limited. Crowley knew that image was everything. The man was also very controversial. He knew that saying outrageous things to the press only sold more of his books.
I have one of of the old volumes of his magazine, “Equinox.” It's a cool little piece of history. He could write funny stuff. He could also write a long text. He'd rant about people he didn't like for 300 pages. Crowley put a lot of money into his press. He also referenced his own work a lot, to sell more of his own books.
Many respected authors like Peter Levenda, Whitley Streiber and Ian Fleming have researched Crowley's history and insist he was a spy for the Allies during World War II that did his part to defeat Nazis. Declassified American military documents insist he worked for the OSS. Levenda, who is very well researched and has written many books about Nazi's and the occult, proposes that because of the astrological essays he wrote, the Nazi officer Rudolph Hess ended up flying to Britain and got captured, resulting in a major publicity meltdown for Hitler.
Crowley was anti-fascist and hated Nazis. He thought they were ridiculous and spoke out against them. Thelema was persecuted by fascists in Italy. Basically, Crowley got involved with British military intelligence and wrote articles for German newsletters to make them look dumb. We don't know everything he did, but he was the one who came up with the, “V for victory,” hand sign to counteract the Nazi swastika. He understood the occult side of the Nazis. There are esoteric fascists that use the occult to justify fascism, even today Crowley trained the occult community in Germany during the Weimar Republic for the OTO. They were subversive against the Nazis, so Hitler had them purged.
You've made a lot of videos for the Internet teaching the occult to others. Aside from being very well researched yourself, you also show a tremendous sense of style. I also like how you wear lighter tones instead of wearing all black, like most occultists who seem like they are dressed for a gothic industrial nightclub.
My aesthetic is personal, vintage and Victorian. I'm wearing a dress that goes to my ankles right now. Many occult videos look like they are just a cheap Power Point presentation shot on a potato.
Your videos certainly look better than that.
I do not wear a lot of black. My look is Victorian. I love pastels. I really got into fashion. I'm not going to dress the way people expect me to. There's a juxtaposition between fashion and the occult to me.
You also look very young in your videos.
I'm a lot older than I look. I have a skincare routine, I moisturize. I've aged well even though it may look like I'm 13.
Aside from being a guest speaker at Avaloncon out in the UK during the summer in July, what else do you have planned for the future?
I want to write a beginner's book on Thelema. I'm also going to keep making content. My videos are going to have more introductory content and a lot less intimidation for beginners. Aside from my podcast I'm going to just keep releasing content.
Aleister Crowley was an occultist, writer, spy, philosopher, publisher, cult leader, painter, adventurer, popular hedonist and famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) personality who roamed Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, living a life Indiana Jones would have if the character had actually existed during a time of turmoil, cultural upheaval, absolute world war and societal realignment that characterized the early to mid 1900s. Once called “The Beast,” and “The Wickedest Man in the World” by everyone from the mainstream media at the time to his own mother, Crowley has influenced many artists, musicians and writers decades after his death.
Thelema was the ceremonial magic system created by Crowley. Characterized by the phrase, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” the approach combined elements of Freemasonry, Hinduism, Tibetan yoga, ancient European occult rituals, esoteric beliefs from the prestigious occult organisation known as the Ordo Templi Orientis, Tantric sex beliefs and serious drugs to change the world through will and personal metaphysical force.
Modern chaos magic borrows heavily from occultists like Crowley, and if you've ever seen the film The Neverending Story, when the young protagonist screams out “Moonchild!” to the storm at the end, that's a reference to Crowley and a book he wrote called “Moonchild,” where he created a character named King Lamus the author eventually equated with himself in his own correspondence and diaries. He's also on the album cover for The Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.” There's even a film called, Crowley. Long after he's gone, Crowley still influences the world from beyond.
Words by Jasen T. Davis
Photography credit: Georgina Rose