This First Night of the Prophet and his Bride Poster is helpful propaganda from the Hermetic Library Office of the Ministry of Information … for this Thelemic Holy Day in Anno V0. This is the anniversary of the first night Aleister Crowley and Rose Edith Kelly spent together when they were married on August 12, 1903 EV.
I had known about this book for many years, and while I am unequipped to engage the Italian original, I had more than once considered taking on the German edition. I am glad I waited long enough to benefit from the English version, though. Not only does it include the author’s revision and expansion, the timing has allowed it to come into useful dialog with Richard B. Spence’s Secret Agent 666, another volume drawing on an overlapping set of data. Pasi accuses Spence of overindulging in speculation and of oversimplifying Crowley’s motives. (I find myself more in agreement on the second count than the first.) Whereas Spence offers a picture of a Crowley whose loyalties to his home country are privately invariable, Pasi is more apt to take Crowley on the basis of his mercurial presentation.
Among the many variations in Crowley’s character and political interests as traced by Pasi, there is a single watershed point. Like Alex Owen, Israel Regardie, and Crowley himself, Pasi locates this change in the Algerian desert operations by which Crowley completed his passage of the Ordeal of the Abyss. Prior to this episode, Pasi observes, Crowley’s focus was on the adventure of self-development, while after it he pursued the mission of communicating his Law of Thelema and putting it into practice in society.
On either side of this biographical divide, however, Pasi notices inconsistencies in Crowley’s expressed political affections and associations. He tends to characterize these as a function of the magician’s “opportunism” or “pragmatism” with respect to political movements. Given how very contradictory some of these political positions were, however, a further level of explanation is required. Pasi has dismissed (perhaps too quickly, in light of these contradictions) the solution of double agency proposed by Spence, but he omits another possible rationale to which he should have been attentive.
For the younger Crowley-as-aspirant, radical change of political perspective was a magical discipline for spiritual development. He documents this practice in the form of an instruction in the technical paper Liber III vel Jugorum: “By some device, such as the changing of thy ring from one finger to another, create in thyself two personalities … For instance, let A be a man of strong passions, skilled in the Holy Qabalah, a vegetarian, and a keen ‘reactionary’ politician. Let B be a bloodless and ascetic thinker, occupied with business and family cares, an eater of meat, and a keen progressive politician. Let no thought proper to A arise when the ring is on the B finger, and vice versa.”
For the mature magus, on the other hand, there were the words of the Angel of the Fifth Aire whom he had encountered in Tolga, Algeria in 1913: “For below the Abyss, contradiction is division; but above the Abyss, contradiction is Unity. And there could be nothing true except by virtue of the contradiction that is contained in itself.” The Master of the Temple must thus finally comprehend in himself all political valences, expressing them as demanded by the finite conditions of circumstance. If, as the Thelemic scripture of Liber Porta Lucis avers, “To the adept, seeing all these things from above, there seems nothing to choose between Buddha and Mohammed, between Atheism and Theism,” then how much less between democracy and monarchy, capitalism and communism?
Besides a political biography of Crowley himself, and studies of his most politically significant close associates, Pasi’s book includes a special examination of the Beast’s connection with Fernando Pessoa, and the fake suicide that Crowley staged in Portugal. These events, interesting in their own right, shade into the final topic of “Counter-initiation and conspiracy,” the keynote of which is René Guénon’s allegation that Crowley’s Portuguese stunt was intended to allow him to slip off to Germany where he would become a special adviser to Hitler. As a matter of factual claim, this notion is laughable, but it makes an excellent anchor for a limited survey of others’ use of Crowley as a villain in political narratives.
Pasi’s Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics was first published in 1999, but in its second major revision, it stands as one of the best examples of thoughtful 21st-century scholarship on Crowley. [via]
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 25th, 2014
The Mark of the Devil by William Mortensen at The Grotesque Eroticism of William Mortensen’s Lost Photography — Larry Lytle, VICE
Here are some top gatherum posts from the BBS this week:
- Excerpt from Hugo Gernsmack’s The Scientific Adventures of Baron Munchausen quoted at U-Boats, Spies, and White Magic: The Invention of Wireless Cryptography — Grant Wythoff, Gizmodo
“When one contemplates the marvel of sculptured sound on a graphophonic record, and realizes that from the cold vorticity of line there may magically spring the golden lilt of the greatest song voice that the world has ever heard, then comes the conviction that we are living in the days of white magic.”
- Bringing Back a Lost Museum — Laura C Mallonee, Hyperallergic
“In 1945, workers at Brown University’s biology department were clearing out storage space when they stumbled on a giant trove of natural and ethnographic specimens and artifacts. The collection had belonged to the Jenks Museum of Natural History and Anthropology, founded at the school in 1871 and dismantled in 1915 to make way for new classrooms. Inexplicably, the workers drove 92 truckloads worth of the carefully curated objects to the banks of the Seekonk River, where they unloaded them into a common dump.
Now, the collection has been resurrected from that mire by “The Jenks Society for Lost Museums” — a group of students and professors from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design — with the help of artist Mark Dion. Like previous attempts to reimagine destroyed museums, their three collaborative installations, on view at Rhode Island Hall, recreates parts of the museum while challenging assumptions about permanence in museum work.”
- The Grotesque Eroticism of William Mortensen’s Lost Photography — Larry Lytle, VICE
“Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of him—he was written into a footnote by the “straight photography” school of the 1950s, and referred to as “the Antichrist” by Ansel Adams, a tag that stuck after Anton LaVey dedicated The Satanic Bible to him. Primarily known as a Hollywood portrait artist, he developed a myriad of pre-Photoshop special effects to craft grotesque, erotic, and mystical images. This fall, Feral House will release [American Grotesque: The Life and Art of William Mortensen], a monograph on his occult photography.”
- Haiti Doesn’t Have a Vodou Problem, It Has a Christianity Problem — France François, Ebony
“Contrary to the Cardinal’s statement, Vodou is not Haiti’s problem; Christianity is. No push to spread Vodou ever wiped out entire “savage” indigenous peoples. Vodou has caused no wars due to a desire to convert as many people as possible. Vodou doesn’t tell “saved souls” that they must be complacent, accepting their lot on Earth for the potential of future salvation in heaven. Vodou never told Black people they were a curse or 3/5ths of a person.
Vodou is of the belief system that sustained our ancestors across the Middle Passage, during the brutality of the plantation, and through the victories of slave rebellions. Haiti should never apologize for it.
Christianity and the West’s real problem with Vodou is that, like the Maroons who practiced it, it remains elusive to those who would aim to profit off of it, package it, and control it.”
- Newly-discovered records show history of black Masonic lodge in Winfield — Dave Seaton, Winfield Daily Courier
“A treasure trove of Winfield history was recently discovered in the dilapidated two-story building at 1307 Main, just north of the Dawson Monument Company.
Realtors Jeff Albright and Jeff Everhart found a trunk upstairs full of records and memorabilia from the former black Masonic lodge here. They also found the lodge’s gavel.”
“In its heyday, the Winfield lodge hosted a gathering of individual chapters of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Kansas, the organization of black Masonic lodges in the state. The event took place Aug. 20-21, 1917. An estimated 200 Masons attended from around the state.”
- From the Introduction by Henrik Bogdan and Jan A M Snoek to Handbook of Freemasonry from Brill
“With roots going back to the medieval guilds of stonemasons, Freemasonry is the oldest initiatory society in the West not dependant on a religious institution. Having lodges in virtually every major city in most parts of the world, it has changed from an originally British institution to a worldwide phenomenon with a wide range of local idiosyncratic features and characteristics. Numbering millions of active members it is also the largest fraternal organization in the world, still managing to attract new members in the postmodern society of the twenty-first century. The continued presence and development of Freemasonry with its rich diversity in practices and interpretations, raises the question what it is that makes such an old phenomenon seem relevant to so many diverse people for over three hundred years? There is no single answer to the question, but part of it surely rests on the fact that despite its emphasis on tradition, transmission and authority, Freemasonry has always been a non-dogmatic organisation in the sense that its rituals, symbols and practices have not had official and final interpretations. On the contrary, Freemasonry is characterised by a striking diversity of interpretation—it is thus possible to find purely moral interpretations of its central symbols, but also scientific, psychological, esoteric, political, philosophical, religious etc. interpretations of the same symbols—a fact that will become more than apparent by reading the various chapters of this handbook.”
- Bible Cross-References — Chris Harrison [HT Hemant Mehta]
“He described a data set he was putting together that defined textual cross references found in the Bible. He had already done considerable work visualizing the data before contacting me. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. However, this was less interesting to us, as several Bible-exploration programs existed that offered similar functionality (and much more). Instead we set our sights on the other end of the spectrum – something more beautiful than functional. At the same time, we wanted something that honored and revealed the complexity of the data at every level – as one leans in, smaller details should become visible. This ultimately led us to the multi-colored arc diagram you see below.”
- An Incredible Interactive Chart of Biblical Contradictions — Hemant Mehta, Friendly Atheist
“Now, computer programmer Daniel G. Taylor has taken all that data and turned it into a visual masterpiece.
His website, BibViz (Bible Visualization), gives you the same linking arcs as before, but when you hover over one of them, it lights up and tells you in the upper right-hand corner of the screen which verses are being linked together. Click on an arc and it takes you directly to those verses as compiled in the Skeptics Annotated Bible:”
- Routes of Wholeness: Jungian and Post-Jungian Dialogues with the Western Esoteric Tree of Life — Lloyd Kenton Keane, a thesis
“This thesis compares and contrasts what could be considered two psycho-spiritual traditions: analytical psychology and the Western Esoteric Tradition. A common link between these two traditions is the use of symbols and metaphors of wholeness, specifically the sefirot of the Western Esoteric Tree of Life.”
- Meet the electric life forms that live on pure energy — Catherine Brahic, New Scientist
“Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form – naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. We already knew about two types, Shewanella and Geobacter. Now, biologists are showing that they can entice many more out of rocks and marine mud by tempting them with a bit of electrical juice. Experiments growing bacteria on battery electrodes demonstrate that these novel, mind-boggling forms of life are essentially eating and excreting electricity.”
- Baleen and sperm whales are ocean’s ‘ecosystem engineers,’ new study says — James Maynard, Tech Times [HT Slashdot]
“Baleen and sperm whales act like ecosystem engineers in the global ocean, according to a new study from the University of Vermont. Whales help maintain the global ecological balance due, in part, to the release of vast quantities of feces.
A new study examined decades of research on the marine mammals and their role in maintaining the balance of life in oceans.”
- Rupert Sheldrake quoted at Scientific Heretic Rupert Sheldrake on Morphic Fields, Psychic Dogs and Other Mysteries — John Horgan, Cross-Check at Scientific American [HT Boing Boing]
“We both agree that science is at present limited by assumptions that restrict enquiry, and we agree that there are major unsolved problems about consciousness, cosmology and other areas of science… I am proposing testable hypotheses that could take us forward and open up new frontiers of scientific enquiry.”
- Aleister Crowley: Legend of the Beast (Review) — Blacktooth, Horror Society
“What astounds me is how ignorance has played into turning Aleister Crowley into a myth instead of a historical figure. Instead of being known as a educated man who was a freethinker that went against the norm he goes down as a Satanist […] This is due to how close-minded the masses are now and how they were then. That is why this bio-pic is so brilliant and powerful. It sheds light on one of the most misunderstood figures in history.”
- Avoid the Uninitiated Mob — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
“Disregard the angry clamour of the lying masses; avoid the uninitiated mob, and you will know happiness and the truth that is revealed to few.”
- Libraries Are Not a “Netflix” for Books — Kelly Jensen, Book Riot
“It is not the goal of the library to make money. Nor is it the goal of the library to create levels of service so that those who can afford to indulge will receive more while those who can’t, don’t. Instead, libraries work to ensure their services reach as many facets of their community as possible. Libraries want to offer what they can to those who have nothing and those who maybe have everything.
The library is the center and the heart of community.”
If you’d like to participate in the Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.
“A modern grimoire of New Aeon Magick that consists of a series of Major Sigils crafted as ritually manifested automatic drawings along with arcane writings ‘pertaining’ to them. Thelemic at it’s core, this work is empowered by the energies of the current Aeon of HORUS but is also deeply rooted in other Aeonic energies, most specifically the magickal current of MAAT: the aeon to come which is manifesting here and now as well. Together they form The Double Current. The book is organized by the ‘natures of the spirits manifest’ into five sections that fall under the major Thelemic/Aeonic Archetypes NU, HAD, HERU, MAAT and the Shadow which is PAN. They are representations of abstract laws, powers, and conglomerates of symbols with uniting elements that can be activated and used to access deep strata of the inner-being. They are not to be intellectualized. The Grimoire is both a work of art magick as well as a tool that can be used to help accomplish The Great Work by the open minded New Aeon Adept with Love & Will.” [via]
Jane Wolfe: The Cefalu Diaries 1920 – 1923 by Jane Wolfe, commentary by Aleister Crowley, compiled and introduced by David Shoemaker, the 2008 deluxe edition from College of Thelema of Northern California (now International College of Thelema), is part of the collection at the Reading Room. The papercover version is still available via print on demand.
“A fascinating look into the training undertaken by Jane Wolfe, a student of Aleister Crowley, at the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily. This book collects the bulk of Wolfe’s surviving diary entries from Cefalu, most of which were typed, complete with handwritten commentary from Crowley on many pages. The diary is presented in grayscale facsimile format. Compiled and Introduced by Dr. David Shoemaker.” [via]
“Reigniting the spark of magick in the hearts of a new generation of aspirants!
Have you ever tried to use
(really use it!) to design and implement magical ritual?
Can you read it without your glasses? Can you read it with your glasses?
Can you tell its ג from its נ? Can you pronounce the Hebrew names and words in 777 once you can read them? Can you find your way around the tables quickly and efficiently? (Can you answer “yes” to any of these questions?)
Aleister Crowley’s Liber 777 remains one of the most important occult references of the 20th Century, demonstrating the interrelationships of diverse philosophical, religious, mystical, and magical systems from around the world. one of Crowley’s finest contributions to both practical and theoretical philosophy was this correlation of numerous world traditions, of East and West alike. Yet it has never been very handy for the practicing magician.
Now, this extraordinary compilation by James A. Eshelman, titled 776½, is designed exclusively to support the practice of ceremonial magick, According to its author, “776½ is not quite 777.”
776½ contains 182 tables of the most useful and practical ceremonial information. Although much of this comes originally from 777, most of the tables have been supplemented and expanded. The Hebrew and other letters are large, clear, and readable. The columns have been reorganized into a more useful sequence. Additionally, almost every Hebrew word or Name in the entire work is also transliterated into English to assist the practitioner in pronunciation. numerous typographical and other mistakes from 777 have been corrected.
New tables have been added on such topics as: The Genii and Averse Spirits of the 22 Paths from Liber Arcanorum and Liber Carcerorum; the Thelemic, Scandanavian, Assyro-Babylonian, Celtic, Voudoun, and Santeria panteons; Psychological Attributions of the 32 Paths; use of the Unicursal Hexagram; the Enochian alphabet and three models of its enumeration; and more. Practical correspondences of animals, plant, precious and semiprecious stones, magical weapons, incenses, “magical powers and magical states,” and others have been expanded.
And that’s just the first half of the book!
Supplementing these extensive lists is a new essay on Ritual Construction (which is also a partial study guide to Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice) and ten sample magick rituals for such purposes as generating magical force, prosperity, obtaining angelic guardians, remapping your character patterns, the highest spiritual attainments, and The Thelemic Mass.
This third revised edition expands the already popular 1995 edition with new tables and additional data. The instructional essays have been significantly expanded and updated to incorporate new teaching approaches. A new Appendix contains instructions for frequently used small rituals of banishing, invoking, and energizing—including the never-before-published Liber Pleiades.
In this new edition, 776½ has grown so much, it should be renamed 776¾” — back cover