Category Archives: Hermetic Library Reading Room

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition, Hermeticism in a broad sense, and Aleister Crowley’s Thelema. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls

Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls by Matthew Lowes, has arrived at the Reading Room, fulfilling part of my support for the successful crowdfunding campaign.

Matthew Lowes Dungeon Solitaire

You can check out some rules and downloads for this and other games for free.

Dungeon Solitaire is a narrative fantasy card game. With each turn you defeat monsters, disarm traps, open doors, and explore mazes as you delve the depths of a dark dungeon. The original game, Tomb of Four Kings, used a standard deck of playing cards, and is still available free on my website.

Now the game is being expanded to use a 78 card tarot deck, plus up to 12 additional cards used in an advanced version of the game. And these new rules will be paired with a custom illustrated dungeon-themed tarot deck exclusively created for the Labyrinth of Souls.

Alphonse Mucha’s Le Pater

Le Pater: Alphonse Mucha’s Symbolist Masterpiece by Thomas Negovan, has arrived at the Reading Room, courtesy of Century Guild, a set of book with mini-poster and postcard.

Century Guild Mucha Le Pater

The hardcover version, in a variety of options, as well as lithographs, are available.

This version is also greatly expanded in its academic research with the addition of important and rare historical photos and a thorough decoding of the Judeo-Christian and Masonic Symbolism hidden in the artworks.

Century Guild ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to get this back in print.

By December 20, 1899, Alphonse Mucha had experienced four years as the most recognizable proponent of Art Nouveau graphics and the most celebrated illustrator in Paris. The massive output of the artist in his first four years in the advertising and decorative world earned much for Mucha’s publisher but very little for the artist himself.

As the end of the century grew near, Alphonse Mucha insisted upon the release of a deeply personal work, and printed 510 copies of what he for the remainder of his life considered his works-on-paper masterpiece, Le Pater.

Decidedly non-denominational, Mucha’s exploration features a female deity protecting humankind and a number of sophisticated occult themes across a series of images of mystical illustrations.

Unlike the advertising art that had dominated Mucha’s output since his “discovery” by Sarah Bernhardt in late 1894, Mucha described this series of images to a New York reporter as “the thing I have put my soul into.” (The Sun newspaper, 5 January, 1900)

Century Guild Mucha Le Pater Book

Century Guild Mucha Le Pater Mini-poster

Century Guild Mucha Le Pater Postcard

The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason by Christopher McIntosh.

Christopher McIntosh The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason

McIntosh’s monograph on esoteric initiatory societies in Enlightenment Germany is an invaluable study that dissolves ideological caricatures on the basis of intriguing historical evidence. It is important reading for any latter-day illuminatus. [via]

A Sanctuary of Sounds

The librarian John Griogair Bell reviews A Sanctuary of Sounds by Andreas Burckhardt.

Andreas Burckhardt A Sanctuary of Sounds

This high-concept experiment in cut-up literary soundscape, unfortunately, rang hollow and flat for me. The seemingly automatic writing, stream of consciousness style seemed very raw and unedited, which, while apparently intended, just seemed sloppy. I’m afraid this was annoying written noise, not the kind of noise worth a listen. I did finish it though, so I feel like I at least accomplished something.

Aphorisms to the Individual

The librarian John Griogair Bell reviews Aphorisms to the Individual: Notes for my Sons by Tom Taylor.

Tom Taylor Aphorisms to the Individual

I’m not sure what I expected. Probably something that celebrated the creative individual as a force for human advancement and good. This wasn’t that.

About 1/10th of the way into the book, I started to have an allergic reaction. Two tenths of the way, I’ve given up. I’m filing this book under “did not finish” and am glad for it. I haven’t had such an adverse reaction to finishing something since I tried to read the Bible, and that’s definitely ironic.

In general, I am not only sympathetic to the idea that everything is awful, but I’m inclined to agree. However reading this book is like finding a stack of note cards with painfully pedestrian complaints about religion, politics and humanity which somehow quickly fly right past anything interesting smack dab into the la-la land of Randroid rantoids.

For the author, religion is awful. In response to this, the author creates an elect of mythologized, denatured, inhuman, (dare I point out) classically heroic semi-divine “individuals”. For the author, politics is awful. In response to this, the author proposes that the elect “individuals” fight against the “herd” of humanity, and the not-good individuals who are running things from within the herd, that is holding them down by joining together in that glorious political revolution to save the United States from the apparatus that unites and defines the states. For the author, humanity is awful. In response to this, the author believes that individual humans somehow separate themselves from any relation, responsibility, or reciprocity to the rest of humanity are the answer to the ills of humanity.

This book is a disjointed and awkward collection of specious, uncogent, incoherent, and poorly crafted thoughts about the nature of individual in relationship to humanity. Don’t bother. Instead, try reading Liber Oz together with the Notebooks of Lazarus Long, and be glad in your heart for the existence of individuals who manage to be in relationship with each other, in spite of themselves, that make up humanity, in spite of itself.

Fucking Trans Women

The librarian John Griogair Bell reviews Fucking Trans Women, Issue #0 by Mira Bellwether.

Mira Bellwether Fucking Trans Women 0

This is a fun little ‘zine, and it is definitely a ‘zine in format, which really does seem to cover material not discussed anywhere else and so the author has done a service. (The author has followed the same course as my own personal rule for the Internet: If you’re looking for a reference, but don’t find anything; it is your duty to create that reference and put it online.) I consider myself pretty well informed, but it’s reading material like this that makes me realize I’m still a pretty dumb pretty cis boy. I learned new things about trans issues and culture, as an outsider, that I hope help me be more aware and awake. I even learned about “Muffing” which is a new opportunity for potential pleasure from my own cis male anatomy that I’d never heard about before. I have no idea how much of this is new information for anyone else, especially those in the trans community itself (but according to the author, it might be!), but I can recommend this to cis males, like myself, who are straight but not narrow.

Aside from the sensational topic, and news to me, about “muffing”, there is also a worthy discussion about the suppressed erotic potential of soft things, and how we are socially conditioned to think of soft things only as things to be made hard (bodies, muscles, penises, clits, nipples, and so on); and that only hard things have sex, and that soft things need to be fixed. This seems to me as important a point about anatomy as the revelation of “muffing” so don’t miss that possible paradigm shift in all the other excitement.