Here’s a open-access article posted a little over a year ago – but a humdinger, renowned occult author Manon Hedenborg White’s “Proximal Authority: The Changing Role of Leah Hirsig in Aleister Crowley’s Thelema, 1919–1930.” Hedenborg White explores ‘proximal authority’, or the power assigned to and/or enacted by an individual based on their actual or perceived closeness to a leader. Hedenborg White offers a case study of ‘proximal authority’ in tracking the shifting position of Leah Hersig within Alester Crowley’s religion Thelema.
Here’s the abstract:
“In 1920, the Swiss-American music teacher and occultist Leah Hirsig (1883–1975) was appointed ‘Scarlet Woman’ by the British occultist Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), founder of the religion Thelema. In this role, Hirsig was Crowley’s right-hand woman during a formative period in the Thelemic movement, but her position shifted when Crowley found a new Scarlet Woman in 1924. Hirsig’s importance in Thelema gradually declined, and she distanced herself from the movement in the late 1920s. The article analyses Hirsig’s changing status in Thelema 1919–1930, proposing the term proximal authority as an auxiliary category to Max Weber’s tripartite typology. Proximal authority is defined as authority ascribed to or enacted by a person based on their real or perceived relational closeness to a leader. The article briefly draws on two parallel cases so as to demonstrate the broader applicability of the term in highlighting how relational closeness to a leadership figure can entail considerable yet precarious power.”