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The Drug

The Drug by Aleister Crowley is the fifth new edition from 100th Monkey Press, available in a hand-bound limited edition.

Aleister Crowley The Drug from 100th Monkey Press

‘The Drug’ was originally published in Great Britain in the January 1909 issue of The Idler, an illustrated monthly magazine that printed various light pieces and sensational fiction.

This work is one of Aleister Crowley’s earliest published short stories and highlights his power as an author of fiction as well as poetry.

It has been said that this short story is one of the first, if not the first fictionalized account of ingesting a hallucinogenic substance. Crowley certainly experimented with a wide variety of mind-altering substances throughout his life, and it is not too far-fetched to consider the possibility that this story may be based, at least in part, on personal experience.

‘The Drug’ may be based on Crowley’s experiences with Anhalonium Lewinii, a now obsolete name for Lophophora Williamsii, commonly known as the peyote cactus. The active constituent of peyote is mescaline, a well-known alkaloid that can produce hallucinogenic effects when ingested.

References to Anhalonium Lewinii by Crowley are found as early as 1907. Crowley’s diary entry for 12 March 1907 seems to indicate that he was using a commercial preparation of Anhalonium Lewinii. He writes that he has taken 10 drops of the preparation and will take no more since this was the maximum dosage mentioned on the label. Crowley also seemed to have had a relationship of some sort with Parke-Davis and even mentions an October 1915 visit to the company in his confessions:

‘They were kind enough to interest themselves in my researches in Anhalonium Lewinii and made me some special preparations on the lines indicated by my experience which proved greatly superior to previous preparations.’

According to Perdurabo, Dr. Richard Kaczynski’s excellent biography on Crowley, the Abbey of Thelema’s copy of Diary of a Drug Fiend contains a marginal note by Crowley stating that he had conducted numerous experiments on people with Anhalonium Lewinii in 1910 and afterwards. These experiments may have formed the basis for Liber CMXXXIV, The Cactus, described as ‘An elaborate study of the psychological effects produced by Anhalonium Lewinii (Mescal Buttons), compiled from the actual records of some hundreds of experiments.’ Unfortunately The Cactus was never published and is now considered lost to history.

Whether ‘The Drug’ is truly a fictionalized account of the use of peyote is, of course, open to debate, but, the story does stand on its own as a very early piece of psychedelic literature. [via]

The Psychology of Hashish

The Psychology of Hasish by Aleister Crowley is the fourth new edition from 100th Monkey Press, available in a hand-bound limited edition.

Aleister Crowley-The Psychology of Hashish from 100th Monkey Press

Aleister Crowley’s The Psychology of Hashish, written under the pseudonym of Oliver Haddo, was first published in Volume I, No. 2 of The Equinox on 24 September of 1909. It made up part two of a serial publication entitled The Herb Dangerous.

During Crowley’s early magical career, he, along with his then guru, Allan Bennett, investigated various pharmaceutical preparations, including hashish, in search of a substance that would provide a pathway to mystical states.

The Psychology of Hashish presents Crowley’s personal investigation into the use of hashish and introduces his hypothesis that it can stimulate or serve as a precursor to valid mystical states.

Crowley’s opinion regarding the use of hashish seems to be that an aspirant to spiritual enlightenment may, by using hashish under controlled circumstances, attain a mystical state, or obtain a ‘preview’ of potential states of mind ordinarily only made possible through rigorous spiritual exercises.

While Crowley investigated the use of various pharmaceutical substances as potential aids to spiritual attainment, there is no evidence that he advocated the use of hashish, or any other substance, as a substitute for hard work and discipline in a spiritual practice.

Each book is bound by hand in a Japanese style binding and measures a large-sized 8 1/2” x 11″. 97 pages. Printed in red and black on high quality 70 pound text weight, acid-free Via paper specifically chosen for this edition. Bound in an acid-free, glued-up composition cover consisting of a distressed brown faux leather over custom printed endpapers. Text set in a combination of Malgun Gothic, Bookman Old Style and Copperplate Gothic fonts. Illustrations include 20 vintage graphics of interpretations of “Alice and the Caterpillar” based on Lewis Carroll’s classic novel “Alice in Wonderland”.

As an added bonus, each book comes with a hand-bound copy of Crowley’s ‘The Opium Smoker.’

Each copy also includes a handsome themed bookplate and bookmark.

Edition limited to 150 numbered copies. Price: US $19.95 [via]

Delphi

Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World by Michael Scott, from Princeton University Press, is a recent release that may be of interest [HT Corinthian Matters].

Michael Scott Delphi from Princeton University Press

“The oracle and sanctuary of the Greek god Apollo at Delphi were known as the ‘omphalos’—the ‘center’ or ‘navel’—of the ancient world for more than 1000 years. Individuals, city leaders, and kings came from all over the Mediterranean and beyond to consult Delphi’s oracular priestess; to set up monuments to the gods in gold, ivory, bronze, marble, and stone; and to take part in athletic and musical competitions. This book provides the first comprehensive narrative history of this extraordinary sanctuary and city, from its founding to its modern rediscovery, to show more clearly than ever before why Delphi was one of the most important places in the ancient world for so long.

In this richly illustrated account, Michael Scott covers the whole history and nature of Delphi, from the literary and archaeological evidence surrounding the site, to its rise as a center of worship with a wide variety of religious practices, to the constant appeal of the oracle despite her cryptic prophecies. He describes how Delphi became a contested sacred site for Greeks and Romans and a storehouse for the treasures of rival city-states and foreign kings. He also examines the eventual decline of the site and how its meaning and importance have continued to be reshaped right up to the present. Finally, for the modern visitor to Delphi, he includes a brief guide that highlights key things to see and little-known treasures.

A unique window into the center of the ancient world, Delphi will appeal to general readers, tourists, students, and specialists.”

Ameth

Ameth: The Life and Times of Doreen Valiente by Jonathan Tapsell, forthcoming from Avalonia Books, may be of interest.

Jonathan Tapsell Ameth from Avalonia Books

This study of the life of the Witch, Priestess and Author Doreen Valiente, who is sometimes named as the ‘Mother of Modern Pagan Witchcraft’ presents a wonderful collection of information and insights into her life and work. ‘AMETH’ was Doreen Valiente’s witch name, the author talks about this in the book writing that during Doreen’s initiation as a Witch by Gerald Gardner, she was given the name:

‘At this rite Gardner and Dafo gave their new initiate a secret Witch-name known only to those within the Craft. Doreen was from then on to be known as — Ameth. Gardner is likely to have said these words taken from his own Book of Shadows: “Hear, ye Mighty Ones, (Ameth) hath been consecrated Priestess and Witch of the Gods.” before asking the Gods to depart. Ameth true to her secret oaths of the Old Religion would neither disclose to either her husband or mother that she was now a fully-fledged Witch.’

‘As the ceremony progressed the newly initiated Witch, Doreen, would have been anointed, given wine from a chalice, gently scourged for purification and eventually untied and the blindfold taken away. At its conclusion she would have been presented with an athame (a witch’s knife), a wand to invoke spirits, a white handled knife, a scourge and a censor for incense. Another magical artefact, belonging to the Witch, was the cords used to bind her during the ceremony. One cord measured nine feet long and was to be used to make magical circles and another cord was used for spells. She was now a member of the coven and only another two degrees stood between her and the title of High Priestess in the art magical.’

Tara Morgana

Tara Morgana by Paul Holman, with photography by Paul Lambert, introduced by Andrew Duncan and Peter Grey, from Scarlet Imprint, in standard and fine hardcover editions, is due in April and available to pre-order now.

Paul Holman Tara Morgana from Scarlet Imprint

Tara Morgana is a work of pure magical writing. The title comes from the fusion of the Tibetan devi with Morgan Le Fay who is pursued as a mirage throughout this haunting text.

Part magical diary, part dreamscape, part Situationist dérive through the landscape, Tara Morgana is an enigmatic record of ritual practice from the poet, whose work has been described as: indefinable — laconic, occultist, and attached to the line of revolutionary and subversive yearnings. This is not a book about magic, rather, it is a magical book. Contemplation of the work reveals a wealth of hidden treasures, or as Holman says, each dreamed text is a terma in the mind.

Paul Holman is a lucid poet whose writing, with its concise yet elusive energy, takes us down into the tunnels, ghosts broken urban spaces where decay is overwritten with the ingress of the wild. He encounters denizens of the underworld, the magical subculture and down and outs. It is a work of echoes and memories whose reflections coalesce in dreams that can be recovered and manifest in the present. In his Afterword, Holman spells out aspects of the artistic and magical method he employs.

The book is splintered by a sequence of photographic images: glimpsed spirit portraits, apparitions captured in the play and decay of light, giving it an otherworldly aspect. Tara Morgana is a truly esoteric and numinous text, a beautifully realised work that leads us on two parallel journeys of poetry and image, through the world and work of living magical artists. Both poet and photographer are engaged in games of chance and fate, applied as a discipline to the creative process. It is precisely this rigour that gives both an intensity and a gnomic quality to their respective works.

This is a text to be spoken aloud. Mystical conjunction of word and image are resolved in the alchemy of breath. The act of anagnosis opens the reader to the magical operation through the transformative medium of sound, and returns us to the mystery of beginning(s) and becoming(s). As Holman writes in The Memory of the Drift:

I had no choice
but to undo the spell
which language had cast
upon me when, in
the days of autonomia,
I first met one by whom I
was to be consumed
and then made
afresh: she taught me
that an operation
performed upon the
tongue must transform
the world.

The text is introduced by Andrew Duncan, a respected poet and cultural critic, and by Peter Grey, giving insights into both the literary and magical character of Holman’s work.”

Serpent Songs in Bibliothèque Rouge paperback

Scarlet Imprint recently tweeted that the “Bibliothèque Rouge paperback edition of Serpent Songs is with the printer, & should be with us in a few weeks” and so should be available shortly if not by the time of this post. This book was announced back in April, 2013 and is still available in other formats, including digital, but this new edition is in the their laudable tradition of making affordable paperback and digital editions intended to foster “the transmission of information and knowledge” as well as make working and travelling copies, along side their fine talismanic crafted editions, available.

Serpent Songs are the works and words of those who remain untamed, from Cunning Folk to Exorcists to Pellars to Sorgin and Witches and Mystics.

A collection of fifteen essays are introduced and curated by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold through whose contacts we encounter the worlds of lone practitioners and tradition holders, from both family and clan, and are allowed a rare glimpse into the workings of the more secretive proponents of the Craft.”

Serpent Songs is a wide ranging work that deals with the issues of witch blood, taboo, the other, the liminal state, fire, dream, art and need as vectors of the Craft. What emerges is not a narrow definition of what it means to engage in Traditional Craft, but a set of shared characteristics and approaches which become evident despite the cultural gulfs in place and time. This is a book of praxis, beliefs and their own definitions of the art itself rather than those applied to it by outsiders. These are the voices who for the most part operate in silence but now wish to be heard.”