God and the Goddesses

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews God and the Goddesses: Vision, Poetry, and Belief in the Middle Ages by Barbara Newman.

Barbara Newman God and the Goddesses

Barbara Newman coins a new genre label in the final chapter of God and the Goddesses, partly in order to justify the joint treatment of the rather heterogeneous literature that she has surveyed here: imaginative theology. What these particular works have in common, beyond their high-medieval origins, is the presence of feminine divine figures in Christian settings. She pulls together a wide (though not exhaustive, she hastens to observe) variety of texts featuring Dame Kind (Nature), Caritas (Love), Sophia (Wisdom), and Mary (daughter, mother, and bride of God). To the extent that these figures have been objects of modern scholarship, their theological significance has often been lightened by regarding them as allegorical personifications, and by a retrojection of post-Tridentine theology that is in fact more self-conscious about gender issues than were the perspectives of medieval thinkers, who were quite capable of using the term “goddess” and/or “daughter of god” in reference to the chief figures of this study.

While this book discusses theology, and may have theological consequences for some readers, its methods are primarily those of literary analysis and art history, and its motives those of comparative religion and historical inquiry. Newman writes: “For our subject is not simply ‘goddesses’ but ‘God and the goddesses,’ with an emphasis on the links between medieval Christendom’s ‘real’ God and the figures of female sacrality that surrounded his throne” (49).

A crucial issue in this study is the relationship between visionary states and literary composition. Noting the inadequacy of medievalist Dinzelbacher’s discrete categories of “experiential” and “literary” visions, Newman proposes instead a distinction between the epiphanic and heuristic functions that may be present in any visionary text. This approach helpfully accommodates the actual overlap between visionary categories, as well as promoting a sage agnosticism regarding the mental and compositional processes of visionary authors.

Beyond the scholarly intentions and arguments of this book, its particular literary cases often spoke to me in my own mystical and magical situation. In particular, Lavision-Christine, a text with which I’d been unfamiliar, presents a celestial couple consisting of the masculine Chaos and an unnamed “crowned shade in the form of a woman,” who together are responsible for the world of the visionary (120). The general review of the Sophia current was helpful to me, and motivated me to a rereading of Ecclesiasticus. I was already acquainted with Aurora Consurgens of course, but the treatment here of feminine figures in alchemy really whetted my appetite for the contemporaneous Buch der Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit. Alas, Newman notes that the only available edition of this one is “far from satisfactory” (386). Perhaps most valuable to me were the materials regarding the incorporation of Mary with the Holy Trinity into a sort of familial tetrad.

There is no automatic correspondence between the medieval promotion of the goddesses treated here and any sort of feminism, as Newman observes. In one register, these figures are goddesses to the extent that they are not women; they transcend the human condition and are set over its important functions. Nor did the presence of these goddesses in any given discourse tend to provoke claims or findings of heresy. The goddesses of medieval Christianity represent, in Newman’s words, “a current of piety that was unofficial, but by no means marginal; undogmatic, but hardly unorthodox” (50). [via]




My name is Marc, I first encountered esoteric ideas when I was 15 years old in a book called The Black Arts by Richard Cavendish, It was not until I was 17 that I was introduced to the ideas in the Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley (especially The Tarot and Animism) . I am now 45 and have related to various esoterica through music, art and personal practice during the intervening time. From Psychic TV and Coil to The shamen and Goa Trance via Throbbing gristle and everything in the Rave scene from the late eighties onwards. It seems impossible to fill this space with all my influences from the world of musick.

My process to create starts with words, I use keywords and expressions around an intention and cut up the ideas until they give birth to something that intuitively feels correct. I then paint the assemblage of language into a montage of symbolic images and colours. After this I charge the image through acoustic percussion and mantra (traditional or otherwise). Once I have obtained communication with my project and entered into a contract with it I move to my PC maintaining the state of trance and interaction in order to assemble a sonic tapestry of samples and sounds that reflect or are guided and informed to be representations of my communion with my work, I then edit and restructure. (Though not always) The sound has to be a reality of the contract/contact those are the terms and conditions.

I compose sound under three names Wolven Angel (Inspired by T.A.Z), M.A.R. and Children of Osiris, These personas/conditions/constructs serve different attitudes of purpose in order to guide certain aspects of my projects. Each set of conditions forms a set of temporary expressions recorded.

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(Mold Omen)

This is a track called Space, a title playing off the vagueness of the word. We observe the physical space of musical creation becoming an inner space of musical experience. This unquantifiable process, the mysterious interplay of physical and subjective dimensions, forms the foundation of any ritualistic endeavor.

Painted by Byron Coley as having a “grasp of form either highly advanced or non-existent”, Mold Omen has pitched their tent into the weird woods of the Baltimore wilds since their inception in 2010(ish). Bound together by amateur techniques, academic studies into Pierre Schaeffer and an overall dank bent, MO have released albums on House of Alchemy, Spleencoffin, Teflon Beast, Lava Church and Holy Page records.

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The Impossibly

Hermetic Library fellow John Eberly reviews The Impossibly by Laird Hunt.

Laird Hunt The Impossibly

The Impossibly by Laird Hunt was originally published ten years ago by Coffee House Press. It has recently been re-released in a nifty trade paperback edition, and this edition is the one I will be reviewing. After reading the book I e-mailed the author with a question and found out that sections of the book had been reshuffled. Well written, non-linear fiction like this can stand the test of a re-shuffle! The book begins (at least this time) with a discussion between the unnamed main character and his girlfriend over the word and the thing known as a stapler. Obsessions with words, and the various things they represent, flow through the narrative, reminiscent of J.G. Ballard’s Crash, in which the main characters obsess about all things surrounding car wrecks, especially those crashes involving the death of certain iconic celebrities. But in The Impossibly, there is not so clear a focus, in fact, there is a lot that remains obscure throughout, for example, is this guy working for the mafia? Is he a spy? Is he spying on himself? There is peripheral action, and interesting set ups galore that evoke dark, nefarious deeds in which the man participates. But it is not always clear what is happening, and to whom it is happening. Does he have a head injury? He sure gets hit on the head a lot. I wrote to the author not because I required explanations, rather, just the opposite. Seduced by the oblique way in which the story is presented, I craved more loose ends! The reader becomes won over by the unrelenting obfuscation of the narrative and rests comfortably inside its abundant charm. The Impossibly is a compelling read, Mr. Hunt is a gifted writer, but if you like to be led along a plot in the usual way, prepare to be pulled feet-first through a dark literary noir tunnel. [via]

Manifestations of the Outer Gods


Manifestations of the Outer Gods
(Primitive Knot)

“Manifestations Of The Outer Gods” explores and oscillates between Lovecraftian and ritual magickal dimensions; where harmony between these two dimensions is obtained, a new form of ritual invocation manifests itself.

2 piece from Manchester, UK, formed in 2014.

Ritual Drones
Shamanic Utterances
Ceremonial Flourishes
Punk Spirit
Black Metal Heart
Esoteric Mind
We are the Ur-Sound, We are primitive knot

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Summary for the week ending Dec 4, 2016

Here’s a summary of activity for the week ending Dec 4th, 2016.

I’ve released Magick, Music and Ritual 12. It’s available for immediate digital download. The whole thing is a monster! There’s 45 tracks by 41 artists, and there’s 6 hours of music! 6 hours!

Magick, Music and Ritual 12, the 2016 anthology album from the Hermetic Library

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from last week

Some top pages at the library

Some top posts on social media

Some top posts on the BBS

Be sure to check out the actual Hermetic Library, and all the ways you can participate at the library and support the work.