Tag Archives: T Thorn Coyle

Omnium Gatherum: Feb 19th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together …

Whare-Ra tattwa tide calculator
A volvelle, with tattwa tides and astrological aspects, made by a Whare Ra temple member [via]

 

  • Shroud of Turin: Could Ancient Earthquake Explain Face of Jesus?” — Megan Gannon, livescience; from the but-was-it-nocturnal dept.

    “Now, a study claims neutron emissions from an ancient earthquake that rocked Jerusalem could have created the iconic image, as well as messed up the radiocarbon levels that later suggested the shroud was a medieval forgery. But other scientists say this newly proposed premise leaves some major questions unanswered.”

  • shota-purinsu, a Tumblr comment; from the you’re-my-medicine-open-up-and-let-me-in dept.

    “Jesus also affirms the homosexual relationship between the Roman Centurion and his ‘slave’. The particular Greek word used to refer to this special slave was ‘pais’. Greek language studies and contexts show that a ‘pais’ was a male love slave. Regular slaves were called ‘dolos’. The Centurion makes this distinction clearly when he asks Jesus to heal his slave (pais), and then to prove his status he tells Jesus that his slaves (dolos) go when he tells them to. But this slave (pais) was special. He was the Centurion’s lover.

    Hearing this, Jesus was so amazed he says he had not found ANYONE ELSE who had such great faith. He then blesses the Centurion and heals his male lover.”

  • Bosch’s “600-years-old butt song” — Amelia, chaoscontrolled123 [HT The Appendix]; from the then-a-band-of-demons-joined-in dept.

    Hieronymous Bosch The Garden of Earthly Delights butt music detail

    “Luke and I were looking at Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights and discovered, much to our amusement, music written upon the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens … I decided to transcribe it”

  • Neoliberalism’s War Against the Radical Imagination — Henry Giroux, Tikkun; from the perhaps-a-lunatic-was-simply-a-minority-of-one dept.

    “Democracy loses its character as a disruptive element, a force of dissent, an insurrectional call for responsible change, and degenerates into an assault on the radical imagination, reconfigures itself as a force for bleaching all ethical and moral considerations, and thrives in a state of exception, which in reality is a state of permanent war.”

  • OC’s Favorite Occultist Musician Writes a Song About Gun Violence. Strange? Yes.” — Joel Beers, OC Weekly, with Lon Milo DuQuette; from the it’s-all-I-think-about-dolls-and-guns dept.

    “He says that those people who passionately believe that a disarmed populace under tyrannical rule is a problem have a well-taken point. But that notion, ‘still comes from a consciousness platform of fear,’ he says. ‘And if that is the focus of your life, you’re missing out on a great deal. It’s not that there’s nothing to be afraid of, but if that’s going to be the primary focus of your life, you’ve already surrendered. And if fear is the reason you want to arm yourself, you’re probably the last person who needs to be armed for all of our safety.’”

  • No One Cares About Your Damn Religion” — Larry Womack, Huffington Post’s The Blog; from the when-I-use-a-word-it-means-just-what-I-choose-it-to-mean dept.

    “Was the Christian God cool with slavery? Slave owners sure thought so — and had plenty of Biblical canon to support it. Abolitionists disagreed. Did God want women to vote? Not according to anti-suffragists. Suffragists were convinced otherwise. If society continues this descent into level-headed compassion, fifty years from now people will be claiming that God is pro-fur and factory farming. When one cannot defend a belief in the current context, moving the framework back a few thousand years and putting the blame on God is a pretty good fallback strategy.

    I know, I know. There’s only one God and he is not at all ambiguous: he agrees with you. It’s all right there in the Bible or whatever holy book you believe in, as you have decided to interpret it. It’s perfectly clear, right?”

  • Camels Had No Business in Genesis” — John Noble Wilford, The New York Times; from the heffalumps-and-woozles dept.

    “The archaeologists, Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the last third of the 10th century B.C. — centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible. Some bones in deeper sediments, they said, probably belonged to wild camels that people hunted for their meat. Dr. Sapir-Hen could identify a domesticated animal by signs in leg bones that it had carried heavy loads.”

  • Beyond Naturalism: On Ronald Dworkin” — Michael Rosen, The Nation; from the trouble-in-the-forest dept.

    “In short, while materialism encourages that characteristically modern form of political collectivism in which sacrifices that bring about the greater good are taken to be morally imperative, at the same time it leads to a world of individuals who have a sense of their own absolute uniqueness and importance—if only to themselves. The attempt to find a standpoint that can integrate this radical individualism with the claims of the common good is the great underlying ethical and political problem of modern life. It also gives a framing perspective to Ronald Dworkin’s marvelous little book, Religion without God, and helps explain how a brilliant young lawyer like Dworkin should have ended up pondering issues of theology.”

  • The Conservative Crusade For Christian Sharia Law” — Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast; from the it’s-only-hypocrisy-when-someone-else-does-it dept.

    “And in the past few years, we have seen pro-life Christian groups successfully lobby State legislatures to restrict access to abortions. They have also raised religious, not public policy, objections to the government funding birth control.

    But here’s the alarming thing: These views are no longer the fringe of American politics. They are increasingly becoming mainstream conservative fare.”

  • Bible Passages that Could Get You Killed” — Candida Moss, The Daily Beast; from the stunt-driver-closed-track dept.

    “Where Coots is different is that he was just following the Bible as he interpreted it. Coots was just reading the Bible literally. It’s something that many Americans do on a daily basis. But God’s Holy Word is more dangerous than you’d think.”

  • Flea, via tweet.

    “I like myths. I put a lot of credence in them.”

  • Disputed quotes attributed to Albert Einstein, Wikipedia [HT The Kill Van Kulls].

    “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

  • Bruise, Trash, Write” — Lilith Saintcrow.

    “I am not so sure. But I know I won. Every word I wrote is burned into me, flesh and blood and breath. By throwing them away, I made them even more mine, something nobody could take away even if they killed me, secrets hidden inside me, in the only places I had left.

    Now I write other stories. Between the bars, I catch glimpses of those things. Exorcism is an ongoing process.”

  • Giordano Bruno quoted in “Giordano Bruno: Divinity Reveals Herself in all Things” — Donald Donato, In puris naturalibus.

    “Divinity reveals herself in all things. Everything has Divinity latent within itself. For she enfolds and imparts herself even unto the smallest beings, and from the smallest beings, according to their capacity. Without her presence nothing would have being, because she is the essence of the existence of the first unto the last being.”

  • After 400 Years, Mathematicians Find A New Class Of Shapes” — Higher Perspective [HT Reality Sandwich].

    “The work of the Greek polymath Plato has kept millions of people busy for millennia. A few among them have been mathematicians who have obsessed about Platonic solids, a class of geometric forms that are highly regular and are commonly found in nature.

    Since Plato’s work, two other classes of equilateral convex polyhedra, as the collective of these shapes are called, have been found: Archimedean solids (including truncated icosahedron) and Kepler solids (including rhombic polyhedra). Nearly 400 years after the last class was described, researchers claim that they may have now invented a new, fourth class, which they call Goldberg polyhedra. Also, they believe that their rules show that an infinite number of such classes could exist.”

  • Wikipedia-size maths proof too big for humans to check” — Jacob Aron, New Scientist; from the now-i-am-the-master dept.

    “If no human can check a proof of a theorem, does it really count as mathematics? That’s the intriguing question raised by the latest computer-assisted proof. It is as large as the entire content of Wikipedia, making it unlikely that will ever be checked by a human being.

    ‘It might be that somehow we have hit statements which are essentially non-human mathematics,’ says Alexei Lisitsa of the University of Liverpool, UK, who came up with the proof together with colleague Boris Konev.”

  • Math Explains Likely Long Shots, Miracles and Winning the Lottery” — David J Hand, Scientific American; from the a-glitch-in-the-matrix dept.

    “A set of mathematical laws that I call the Improbability Principle tells us that we should not be surprised by coincidences. In fact, we should expect coincidences to happen. One of the key strands of the principle is the law of truly large numbers. This law says that given enough opportunities, we should expect a specified event to happen, no matter how unlikely it may be at each opportunity. Sometimes, though, when there are really many opportunities, it can look as if there are only relatively few. This misperception leads us to grossly underestimate the probability of an event: we think something is incredibly unlikely, when it’s actually very likely, perhaps almost certain.”

  • Vitruvian Man Had a Hernia” — Laura Crothers, Slate; from the not-so-perfect-after-all-eh-mister-man dept.

    “Throughout history, anatomical illustrations have been made using the recently deceased as models, and many of Leonardo’s sketches were no exception. Ashrafian says that the man who served as Leonardo’s model for his illustration of human perfection probably had a hernia. If the model was a corpse, the hernia may have been what killed him. If he was a live model, he may ultimately have died from its complications.”

  • Mold destroys 600,000 library books — Ellie Papadakis, The Maneater; from the tolle-lege dept.

    “The MU Libraries have more than 3 million books in their collections, and they ran out of space to store those books years ago.

    Recently it was discovered that 600,000 books, approximately 20 percent of MU’s entire collection, were covered in mold. The damaged books were being stored in an underground cavern north of Interstate 70. The cavern, Sub Terra, is run by an independent company.

    The books in storage were lesser-used books that the libraries did not have room for in their open stacks. Some of the stored texts were published prior to the Civil War.

    Library administrators will not be able to save all 600,000 texts because there is not enough money in library funds to do so.”

  • Canadian libricide” — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; from the where-is-your-science-now dept.

    “Back in 2012, when Canada’s Harper government announced that it would close down national archive sites around the country, they promised that anything that was discarded or sold would be digitized first. But only an insignificant fraction of the archives got scanned, and much of it was simply sent to landfill or burned.”

  • John Griogair Bell, Hermetic Library, via tweet.

    “We should always fear the fate of our libraries, historically proven and currently demonstrated”

  • The Report — Hugh Howey, Author Earnings.

    “It’s no great secret that the world of publishing is changing. What is a secret is how much.”

  • The Secret History of the Venus of Willendorf” — Alexander Binsteiner, Past Horizons.

    “Microscopic investigations on the world famous statuette from the Gravettian period (30,000 to 22,000 years ago) carried out at the Natural History Museum in Vienna revealed three incredible insights, and when taken together tell a secret story of this Palaeolithic figurine and her creators.
    · The limestone from which the 11cm high Venus had been carved, comes almost certainly from the region around the Moravian city of Brno 136km to the northeast of Willendorf.
    · The source of the flint blades discovered with the figure was North Moravia, a further 150km to the north.
    · The Venus had once been completely painted with red ochre, and given the ritualistic associations of this material meant that the figure was more than likely a cultic object.”

  • Feeding Spirits and Bones” — Sarah Anne Lawless.

    “Old Man and Old Woman settled their ancient bones back into the remnants of creatures native to their wild domain, no doubt having missed their shrine and the once regular offerings to be found there. The Moon’s candle was restored to its place above breasts and belly carved from stone, surrounded by offerings. She eats beeswax greedily like blood offerings, leaving nothing behind. A candle lit to welcome the spirits back with sweetest incense burned and fresh water poured to sate their hunger. The spirits sigh happily, the new house sighs like a person with a once empty belly filled. Even breathing feels easier now with the altar and all its spirits in their proper place of reverence.”

  • Poem by Sulpicia quoted in “Valentine’s Day: Ancient Festival Of Sexual Frenzy” — Donna Henes, Huffington Post’s The Blog.

    “At last love has come. I would be more ashamed
    to hide it in cloth than leave it naked.
    I prayed to the Muse and won. Venus dropped him
    in my arms, doing for me what she
    had promised. Let my joy be told, let those
    who have none tell it in a story.
    Personally, I would never send off words
    in sealed tablets for none to read.
    I delight in sinning and hate to compose a mask
    for gossip. We met. We are both worthy.”

  • T Thorn Coyle, via tweet.

    “Happy Lupercalia! Blessed Full Moon! (If you see half naked boys running w goatskin whips, you may wish to stay out of their way. Or not.)”

  • Eliphas Levi quoted by T Thorn Coyle, via tweet.

    “It is necessary to DARE what must be attempted.”

  • Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People: Narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic.” — Chris Mooney, Slate.

    “The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called Dark Tetrad: Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).

    It is hard to underplay the results: The study found correlations, sometimes quite significant, between these traits and trolling behavior. What’s more, it also found a relationship between all Dark Tetrad traits (except for narcissism) and the overall time that an individual spent, per day, commenting on the Internet.”

  • Colleen Fenley, via facebook comment.

    “disagree, awful poster… delete”

  • John Griogair Bell, via tweet.

    “If you’re going to cover your eyes and plug your ears, at least have the courtesy and self-awareness to also shut your mouth.”

  • Chèvres en équilibre” [HT Bryan Fuller]; from the let-the-goat-come-to-you dept.

Omnium Gatherum: Feb 12th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together …

David Richard Jones The Circumference and the Hieroglyphic Monad
Hermetic Library fellow David Richard JonesThe Circumference and the Hieroglyphic Monad, part III of his In Operibus Sigillo Dei Aemeth, and is based on an observation by Clay Holden, of The John Dee Publication Project, that “the geometry of the Monad as analyzed and expected in Theorem XXIII when applied to a circle subdivides the circumference of a circle into seven equal divisions with almost perfect elegance.”

 

  • Lon Milo DuQuette’s “I’m Scared” is a new political single.

  • Aleister Crowley’s invocation to coffee, recorded in his diaries, was recently a randomly popular old post.

    “O coffee! By the mighty Name of Power do I invoke thee, consecrating thee to the Service of the Magic of Light. Let the pulsations of my heart be strong and regular and slow! Let my brain be wakeful and active in its supreme task of self-control! That my desired end may be effected through Thy strength, Adonai, unto Whom be the Glory for ever! Amen without lie, and Amen, and Amen of Amen.”

  • Earliest footprints outside Africa discovered in Norfolk” — Pallab Ghosh, BBC News; from the wonder-what-the-sea-washed-away-the-other-291999999-days-we-weren’t-watching dept.

    “The footprints are more than 800,000 years old and were found on the shores of Happisburgh. … The sea has now washed away the prints – but not before they were recorded”

  • Lake of beer prayer attributed to St Brigid, via T Thorn Coyle; from the has-Ra-finally-gotten-Sekhmet-to-chill-out-yet dept.

    “I’d sit with the men, the women of God
    There by the lake of beer.
    We’d be drinking good health forever
    And every drop would be a prayer.”

  • Archaeologists Have Found the Oldest Roman Temple” — Alice Robb, New Republic; from the exploring-ancient-temples-hidden-under-watery-depths-in-spite-of-Lovecraft dept.

    “Archaeologists have long suspected that the oldest Roman temple lay at the foot of the legendary Capitoline Hill, but it’s only recently that they’ve managed to excavate the waterlogged Sant’Omobono site with modern techniques.

    ‘The temple’s much more interesting than anybody expected,’ said Albert Ammerman, an archaeologist at Colgate University who worked on the dig. ‘It’s beautiful down there.’”

  • Mysteria Misc. Maxima: February 7th, 2014” — Sarah Veale, Invocatio blog; from the πάντα-ῥεῖ dept.

    “This will be the last MMM for the foreseeable future. … So please join me in bidding a fond adieu to the MMM and enjoy this final link round-up…”

  • On the Arbitrary Appellation of Magic in Antiquity” — Sarah Veale, Invocatio; from the i-am-large-i-contain-multitudes dept.

    “While a good definition suggests that magical practices are rites and rituals that exist on the margins of cultural norms (Dickie, 38), the point is that, when we look at the evidence, what is labelled magic is a moving target. The label stays the same, but the content changes depending on the situation at hand. The label is not so much about the practices themselves, but rather about the status of those practices.”

  • The Ritual of the Duck” — Sarah Anne Lawless; from the together-with-all-the-appurtenances-thereto dept.

    “Yesterday I made Aves Flying Ointment. A recipe I created a couple of years ago combining the traditional herbs with the more grisly shapeshifting ingredients of bird fat, bird bone dust, and feather ashes.”

  • Tveir Hrafnar: Sorcery in Silver” — Sarah Anne Lawless; from the my-precious dept.

    SAL: Your work is a wonderful rarity in that it caters to occultists, sorcerers, and traditional witches who most jewelers ignore in favour of the much bigger market of neopagans. Was this intentional or were you simply following your influences and passions?
    AW: Mostly following my passions and influences. I am self centered in my art and would rather make what speaks to me than what I think the market would buy. It’s a ‘go for what you know’ kind of thing. Hopefully there are enough folks out there with similar aesthetics and interests to keep things rolling.”

  • Read Sappho’s ‘new’ poem” — Tim Whitmarsh, The Guardian; from the he-said-she-said dept

    “They whose fortune the king of Olympus wishes
    Now to turn from trouble
    to [ … ] are blessed
    and lucky beyond compare.”

  • A New Sapphic Poem ~ Wading into the Morass” — David Meadows, rogueclassicism; from the he-said-she-maybe-said dept.

    “In case you haven’t heard, Dirk Obbink has recently announced the discovery/publication of two ‘new’ poems by Sappho and they’re causing quite the flurry of activity on blogospheres (as you may have already seen), twitterspheres (ditto), and no doubt, in private emails and departmental coffee lounges around the world.”

  • Charlemagne’s bones are (probably) real” — The Local; from the dem-dry-bones dept.

    “Researchers confirmed on Wednesday evening — 1,200 years to the day since Charlemagne died — that the 94 bones and bone fragments taken from the supposed resting place of the King of the Franks and founder of what was to become the Holy Roman Empire came from a tall, thin, older man.”

  • Charlemagne’s bones found in his coffin” — The History Blog; from the in-the-last-place-you-looked dept.

    “That may seem obvious, but given how often he was exhumed and reburied and parts of him given away as relics, it’s actually quite notable that the collection of bones in the Karlsschrein, the Shrine of Charlemagne, and other reliquaries in the Aachen Cathedral all appear to come from the same person who matches contemporary descriptions of the Frankish king.”

  • Babylonian Tale of Round Ark Draws Ire From Christian Circles” — Alan Boyle, NBC News; from the ark-you-glad-you-to-see-me-or-is-that-a-clay-tablet-in-your-pocket dept.

    “A recently deciphered 4,000-year-old clay tablet from ancient Mesopotamia is putting a new spin on the biblical tale of the flood and Noah’s Ark — and that’s causing consternation among some Christian fundamentalists.”

  • Hermetic Library anthology artist Arthur Loves Plastic‘s new Get Happy.

  • Cranky Roman Guy on The Golden Globes; from the plus-ça-change-plus-c’est-la-même-chose dept.

    “If you doubted that this is the age of Discord reigning supreme, you have an annual rite in which you give #GoldenGlobes to beautiful women.”

  • A Preliminary Analysis of the Botany, Zoology, and Mineralogy of the Voynich Manuscript” — A O Tucker et al.; from the-effect-of-gamma-rays-on-man-in-the-moon-marigolds dept.

    “We note that the style of the drawings in the Voynich Ms. is similar to 16th century codices from Mexico (e.g., Codex Cruz-Badianus). With this prompt, we have identified a total of 37 of the 303 plants illustrated in the Voynich Ms. (roughly 12.5% of the total), the six principal animals, and the single illustrated mineral. The primary geographical distribution of these materials, identified so far, is from Texas, west to California, south to Nicaragua, pointing to a botanic garden in central Mexico, quite possibly Huaztepec (Morelos). A search of surviving codices and manuscripts from Nueva España in the 16th century, reveals the calligraphy of the Voynich Ms. to be similar to the Codex Osuna (1563-1566, Mexico City). Loan-words for the plant and animal names have been identified from Classical Nahuatl, Spanish, Taino, and Mixtec. The main text, however, seems to be in an extinct dialect of Nahuatl from central Mexico, possibly Morelos or Puebla.”

  • Norse Rune code cracked” — Medievalists.net; about “Ráð þat, If You Can!” — K Jonas Norby; from the missed-it-missed-it dept.

    “‘It’s like solving a puzzle,’ said Nordby to the Norwegian website forskning.no. ‘Gradually I began to see a pattern in what was apparently meaningless combinations of runes.’

    However, those thinking that the coded runes will reveal deep secrets of the Norse will be disappointed. The messages found so far seem to be either used in learning or have a playful tone. In one case the message was ‘Kiss me’. Nordby explains ‘We have little reason to believe that rune codes should hide sensitive messages, people often wrote short everyday messages.’

    In many instances those who wrote the coded runes also left comments urging the readers to try to figure it out. Sometimes they would also boast of their abilities at writing the codes.”

  • O D fuckin abbot.” — Medium Ævum; from the orking-cows dept.

    O D fuckin abbot

  • Hollywood Calls” — Feral House; from the your-name-will-go-up-in-bright-lights dept.

    “Since we’re in Hollywood we’ve signed an option agreement for a Sundance Channel television series based on the Feral House book, Sex and Rockets, about the occult rocket scientist Jack Parsons.”

  • The end of Yeats: work and women in his last days in France” — Lara Marlowe, Irish Times; from the speak-before-your-breath-is-done dept.

    “Like his alter ego Cuchulain in the play he had just written, Yeats was dying surrounded by women.”

Devotional Dance

Devotional Dance: Sacred Movements for Meditation and Transformation with T Thorn Coyle is a DVD, available from Fields Book Store, from 2006, which is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

T Thorn Coyle- Devotional Dance

Not only is Thorn herself a Hermetic Library anthology artist, but I just realized the music on this DVD is by, another anthology artist, Aleph Kali [see, also].

“Movement is a key to unlock the doorways into spirit. Engage your body, call up life power, and become whole in all your parts.

This instructional DVD includes moving meditations for

· Elements of Life — Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit
· Iron Pentacle — Sex, Pride, Self, Power and Passion
· Pearl Pentacle — Love, Law, Knowledge, Liberty and Wisdom
· Warrior Pentacle — Commitment, Honor, Truth, Strength and Compassion
· Triple Soul — Sticky One, Shining Body and Sacred Dove.” — back cover

Successful appeal to help Aaron Leitch

You may have heard a recent call to crowdfund medical assistance for occult author Aaron Leitch at “Save Aaron Leitch’s eye sight“. I was sitting down to follow up on my retweet of Christopher Pencak with an actual post to this blog to find that this need has already been met by the community, in a few hours [see].

It is both unfortunate when health issues strike and that appeals for help must needs be crowdfunded instead of handled by a rational and civilized universal health care system, but it is wonderful to hear that this appeal for help with Aaron Leitch’s medical issue was a success.

This, I think and if you’ll allow, would be a good time for a quick reminder about how this issue has touched the occult community. You may want to read “Adopt an Elder!” by the late P E I Bonewits, an essay about caring for our elders in the pagan, and, by extension, the larger occult, community. You might recall Order of Thelemic Knights, an effort to create philanthropic action in the larger Thelemic community, founded by Hermetic Library fellow Gerald del Campo. This issue of caring for need is neither new nor in isolation.

In addition to Bonewits himself, who had medical issues and made appeal to the community for help, I’m also reminded, of course, of the plights, within the larger occult community, of Robert Anton Wilson and, even further afield, of Utah Phillips; both of which involved appeals to the community for assistance; and those are only the highly visible tips of a much larger issue. I’m sure your own life has been touched by someone who has been in need for basic care that has not been met, perhaps even yourself. And, let us be very clear, for every well known person that is able to make an appeal, there are a vast number whose cries for help are unheard. It seems wrong to me that anyone should be forced to rely on chance, contingency or fragile meritocracy of patronage for their health care; but for those able to do so, I offer hearty congratulations for their luck and success. But what of, a far vaster number, those not able to do so?

The need for such effort to meet pressing needs that I feel should be covered by a powerful and pervasive social net seems to me an example that something is painfully wrong with how our economy is organized around maintenance of basic care. I am reminded of how we have lost many of the social structures that provided such care to their members to the painfully profitable insurance industry and that a much desired and needed universally available alternative has yet to replace those mechanisms. In the absence of a broad non-exclusive and non-profit social net, perhaps in the spirit of a neo-romantic and reconstructionist occultism, the role of early fraternal orders in the creation of self-organized mutual aid networks around important social needs is something in need of extremely pressing revival.

For something like this that is both recent and ongoing, you may wish to take a gander at Solar Cross, started by T Thorn Coyle, which is along these lines and may be of interest.

Make Magic of Your Life

Make Magic of Your Life: Passion, Purpose, and the Power of Desire by Hermetic Library anthology artist T Thorn Coyle [also], from Weiser Books, is available now.

“Do you have the sense that you were born to do something more with your life but you don’t know what that is? Do you long to step into your power and live a life of passion? Do you wish to be of greater service? Are you willing to follow your soul’s desire?

Activate the magical formula known the Four Powers of the Sphinx. These four powers — To Know, To Will, To Dare, and To Keep Silence — help bring about a profound shift in how we view and move through the world. They point us toward our highest purpose and show us what to do, both practically and spiritually, once we’ve found it. They will lead us to a life of magic.

Find your soul’s work. Follow desire. Live a life that matters.” [via]

 

T Thorn Coyle's Make Magic of Your Life from Weiser Books

“For pagans or anyone with magickal leanings everywhere, internationally known pagan and mystic T. Thorn Coyle offers a unique path to make everything in one’s life alive with magic in Make Magic of Your Life.

Coyle shows how to achieve harmony and balance, and find your true purpose by activating the magical Qabalistic formula known as The Four Powers of the Sphinx: to know, to will, to dare, and to keep silent.

Coyle shows readers how to draw on the four powers of the sphinx to discover their “soul’s possibility,” their life’s work, that which they most long to do.

In Make Magic of Your Life, Coyle explains how our deepest failings are often the very things that fuel our life’s work, keep us human and whole, and even make us act as though — like Prometheus — we can steal fire from the Gods.

From the introduction:
“Working magic means showing up with your demons and your divinity, your sorrow and your joy. Alchemy only happens when we are willing to go through the processes of gathering together, refining, pouring, and solidifying. In the end, we have something fine to hold.” [via]

 

Secret societies, societies with secrets, and societies with spoilers

When thinking about secrets and mysteries in practice, I’ve long tossed about the idea of a difference between secret societies, societies with secrets and a society without spoilers. Especially in this day when so much is being made available online, but that really is just a matter of scale when there are plenty of historical examples of similar things, such as Aleister Crowley revealing the initiatory rituals of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn as serialized in the pages of the Equinox, the varied publication and exposé of so much Freemasonic ritual, and so forth.

There are still some pretty legitimately secret societies, which while well-known to exist are not revealed, such as the Skull and Bones society, and recently breaking the Copiale cipher seemed to tantalizingly promise that there might be still some complex and completely unknown societies, at least until it was revealed the material was pretty clearly Freemasonic in nature. But for the most part, I object that when people talk about secret societies they are engaged in flights of fancy about group about which not only their existence but much of their particulars are known. Quite often, of course, such wild imaginings are part and parcel with an agenda of fear mongering, but even still there are otherwise sane and rational people talking about certain societies as if they were actually not completely or almost completely public. Certainly Freemasonic tradition and ritual cannot rationally be called secret anymore, and the membership is in the habit of parading around, not to mention things like having decals on their cars and fobs on their keychains, and thus it cannot be called a secret society. Even traditional boogeymen like Aleister Crowley and Ordo Templi Orientis can only by the slimmest margin come anywhere near being called a secret society, with websites, pubic spaces, public event calendars, and so forth. There may indeed be legitimately unavailable secrets still, for example within A∴A∴. but that’s not enough to call these fraternal orders by the name of a secret society. In these cases there’s perhaps some legitimate secrets, but there must also be a practical recognition that most material related to these groups is available, outside the structured system of the society itself, somewhere, if one wants to find it.

Of course, just as much as one can avoid spoilers for movies and books and other things sequentially revealed, it is possible to avoid, for the most part, much of that material. It is not that there are no spoilers. Rather that spoilers do very much exist. Which is to say, the existence of spoilers requires one to decide to avoid the spoilers in order to fully enjoy the reveal. This is quite different from a society that pretends it doesn’t exist to outsiders, or a known society with things that it keeps secret.

 

There are modern examples of working with secrets within esoteric systems, and there’s clearly something interesting going on around secrets. There is smoke pointing to something important and useful at the source. There’s a tension, perhaps much as it ever was, between the urge to make information available and the various efficacies of secrets. T Thorn Coyle wrote a bit about the division in Feri between what had been called the “Mystery tradition” and the “public religion” factions, at “The Sundering of Feri“. Thorn, of course, also runs an online Mystery School. I was trying to find a quote where I recall her saying something about how paganism needed to have a Mystery tradition as part of it, but can’t find that right now.

Generally, when I talk about such things to people who ask, I suggest that initiation ritual, especially, is like a good book or movie with a savoury plot twist or two. You will only ever get a single chance to experience the participatory drama without knowing how it develops; that’s if one goes through it the first time not having read the materials. One and only one chance. Ever. So why throw that away by reading ahead? One can always read the materials afterward, as many times as one likes; but to read the spoilers is to waste a wonderful opportunity that cannot ever, barring soap opera amnesia tropes, be experienced once the reveal has been spoiled.

Whether one “gets” it or not (either initially or on subsequent viewings of a ritual or readings, of material) is another question entirely. And, it seems to me, in my experience, what constitutes “getting it” will likely evolve and change over time no matter what else is a consideration. When given the opportunity, I like to point out that one can go to many stagings of a play by Shakespeare and get new things, new depth of understanding and new enjoyment, as well as savour slightly different interpretations, so to me the re-play value depth of meaning of a work or body of work is something that is a different question to the idea of seeing something for the first time without spoilers.

But, still, people freak about things unknown, and try to minimize and control things by figuring things out ahead instead of being comfortable with being uncomfortable as a thing itself. Seems to me the still prevalent modern desire to conquer Nature and the pervaisive post-modern existential nausea about information overload and slavish ‘inbox zero’ mania are examples, perhaps symptoms, of where the ability to just relax about not knowing, not being in control, would be useful for people to practice in specific so they can have skill in applying it in general.

 

Another aspect that always comes up around secrets is the idea that somehow no matter what is revealed, the real secrets are impervious to such petty concerns. Seems to me blather about mystery being unspoilable is semantically empty jazz hands (or worse self deception (or worse-worse deception of others) about “spiritual” exceptionalism), and misses the point of initiation as orchestrated stressful situation intended to create a kind of imprint vulnerability, an altered state, in the initiate, and attempts to diffuse that stress and that experience before experiencing it is an attempt mitigate and in some form to not have the experience at all. The efficacy of secrets in a system are not just about the information, true, but the information is interwoven into an experience, and the experience is changed by the quality and obscurity of the information on which the experience is built. If one knows the rollercoaster has a blind drop at the end, one still experiences the drop in and of itself, but the surprise in and of itself is changed into anticipation, and that’s a different thing entirely which not only changes the experience of the drop but distracts from the experience of what occurs before.

For me, when I talk about “reading ahead” (spoiling) I mean that as a placeholder for activity the diffuses the effectiveness of initiation and mystery, whether written down and read or spoken and heard or whatever and whatevered. For me, being a candidate in initiation and mystery is to be an improv actor stumbling into a rehearsed stage play, and both savoury and exciting. One tends to think all kinds of things about structure and likely scenarios, if nothing else than a rite of passage (exit normal, experience liminal, re-enter normal changed) but it is the actuality, specifics and plot twists, the things that can be spoiled, which I think should be avoided and, yes, allowed as a personal experience.

 

To bring it around, my point of wondering about classification of societies is that there is a kind of society which is not itself attempting to pretend it doesn’t exist, and which has essentially much of its material revealed or potentially could be in future somewhere, but that points out there is a reason not to “read” ahead as a practice of discipline in and of itself; that there is a place for not knowing as a thing, and experience, to be embodied through ritual, especially dramatic ritual like initiation.

The trick of improv is to have characters and bits of business prepared and figure out ways to fit those into any circumstances, so perhaps the corollary is to become good at mystery and a good initiate prepared by building the foundation of skills, whatever those are in one’s tradition, that make the personal experience of the unknown richer.

If an initiatory working is in some form or another purely ecstatic, then perhaps more than one person will have no prior exposure. That seems quite different than a mystery tradition where something is being revealed. But, whether there is an actual script or not, a mystery tradition will have participants who have experienced or developed a relationship with the mystery who are inducting others. If those others have exposed themselves or been exposed prior to some element meant to be revealed, then they have failed to avoid spoilers, they have whatevered the whatever.

Maps certainly won’t always apply, especial when applied outside their intended scope. Just add as given to any structural approach “except where this doesn’t apply”. But, to be clear, there are other structures, but I’m primarily talking about a mystery tradition where something is being revealed. But, whether there is an actual script or not, a mystery tradition will have participants who have experienced or developed a relationship with the mystery who are inducting others. Here the word ‘mystery’ in a religious sense comes from Greek mysterion “secret rite or doctrine,” as in a thing to be revealed to initiates, whether, additionally as previously stated, those are “written down and read or spoken and heard or whatever and whatevered”, a secret doctrine passed on or a secret rite enacted.

Which begs the question: without a mystery (neither secret rite or secret doctrine) to be revealed, whither the mystery cult? Further, without a mystery, one might even be tempted to ask how can there actually be an initiation at all?

 

Perhaps, one might say of a modern non-mystery that an “impromptu ecstatic divinatory rite” took place which offered UPG, such that a previously unknown rite is enacted or previously unknown doctrine is developed. But without the secret rite or secret doctrine, which would have to have previously existed to those initiated few inducting others, there’s nothing to pass on that was previously held sacred, no previously held in secret doctrine or rite, tautologically.

“Nothing to pass on that was previously held sacred” may offer another name, perhaps more tripping, instead of “society without spoilers”: a “sacred society”, a society with things held sacred as in separate, something bound, enclosed and protected.

Unfortunately, one can follow the etymology of ‘secret’ to essentially the same place, the difference being one implies holiness and the other does not, I suppose, which “holiness” seems, to my mind, just a special case of any of the others three terms I suggested.

 

I suspect the apparent failure of the modality of a “mystery cult” in the modern world has to do with modernity, modernism and existentialism, and the lack of acceptance of shared concrete and coherent gnosis, thus the ground on which a modern mystery cult would be built is unsuitable for lavish neo-romantic structures, except for those already conditioned to such things, such as lapsed Catholics and such. Which is to say, perhaps any mystery cult would seem too superficial to a modern person to have the same religious and social impacts, simply because the assumed rich foundation is missing.

So, the feeling one might have that a mystery cult or tradition in the modern age has lost its luster is due not to the mystery cult but rather due to the overall modern age. There is still a lingering notion that something may be missing for rootless moderns which a mystery cult can offer by way of a more structured ritual, initiations, and a focused mythic basis for ritual; more robust spiritual meaning which then, in turn, offers deeper experience of life in general. But, I find myself wondering if the project of modern mystery traditions is undermined by a general lack of cultural foundation, those foundations of community and cohesion being so efficiently eroded in our public, political and even private lives. Not to mention the lack of what is still called a “classical education” with the broad base of and relationship of familiarity with languages, myths, archetypes and so on. This, then becomes a chicken and egg, which can only be resolved by realizing the false dichotomy that one must be completed before the other, and that the development in general is aided by development in specific, and visa versa, synergistically.

One possible route out of the morass, for moderns and post-moderns, I sometimes come to is the suggestion that situational certainty is a tool for meta-cognition. By this I mean, that the ground on which a mystery cult could be built, the solid ground of structured ritual, initiations, and a focused mythic basis for ritual is sufficient when internally consistent for its purpose and held to be true for the time that it is necessary. But, that threatens what is perhaps an entirely different discussion.

 

But, to bring it back around again, a ‘mystery cult’ is a cult with a mystery. A ‘cult’ is the external activity enacting a religious metaphor, a ritual behaviour. A ‘mystery’ is a secret rite or secret doctrine (to be revealed). Therefore, a ‘mystery cult’ is specifically ritual behaviour that involves a secret rite or secret doctrine. ‘Tradition’ is shared belief or behaviour through time. Therefore, ‘mystery tradition’ is belief and ritual behaviour that involves a secret rite or secret doctrine shared through time.

I’m so strongly reminded by this of something. I believe it was something by Karl Kereny (but it might be form Van Gennep or Turner, I can’t recall right now) which I paraphrase: “Ritual enacts Myth and Myth explains Ritual.”

 

It seems possible to conflate a general meaning of “mystery” as more of a kind of ‘gnosis’ or noetic experience with how I understand it is used in the specific sense within the term “mystery cult” which is more what I am talking about here. When speaking of the idea of whether a ‘mystery cult’ within modern systems would be useful in order to ground the work in structured behaviour, I’m assuming that we’re actually talking about ‘mystery cult’ not general unspecific noetic experience or so forth. This of course somewhat ironically points out a possible initial critique of paganism as a generalized, syncretic, eclectic system which lacks the benefit of what a mystery cult offers and hence the possible utility of that structured influence, offering specific external ritual behaviour around a secret rite or secret doctrine.

If you want mystery without mystery cult, that already exists in various forms of wild and wishy-washy moments of gnosis within the ecstatic traditions of modern life; but, why not try adding an actual ‘mystery cult’ back into the cultural mix? In fact, I could easily argue that there already is ‘mystery cult’ in various places within neopaganism, with a facile example being initiatory orders like OTO and others, which are perfect examples of mysteries for which spoilers exist and which spoilers therefore can be intentionally avoided.

A very salient point for this modern information age is the value an experience of not knowing, so that one can and must do less thinking prior to events, not more. Perhaps the suggestion contained within the experience of not knowing is that one should do one’s thinking after: praxis before theory, so that theory is informed by praxis without prejudice. If this is the case, why not work toward maximizing the possible experience instead of minimizing the probable damage of knowing by seeking after spoilers of any kind, even the mundane accidents surrounding specific quanta and quality?

Indeed, I would suggest that one approach an initiatory experience within an mystery tradition not as a result of successful prior thinking or a seal on attainment, like we are so often familiar with from diplomas, certificates and honors; but an invitation to view the world through a particular lens for a particular period of time, determined by the particulars of the ritual and tradition in which the initiation takes place. In other words, the initiation is really the beginning, suggested by the word itself, of an pervasive life experience.

The full experience of a mystery event intended to involve surprises, plot twists or situations unknown can be self-evidently spoiled by prior knowledge of those circumstances. Especially if part of the trigger for the full experience is the stress of not knowing. Certainly, I don’t mean that these things are binary (and it may be possible to salvage some part of the experience even if spoiled, but why not go for the whole thing instead of the tatters?), but that avoiding spoilers is a discipline that seems worthy if one is serious about that experience, and looking to have it be as rich as possible.

And, that this, in specific, will inform one’s general life as well.

 

And yes, one can point out that for completely ecstatic visceral events and such that are not within a mystery tradition, there’s mostly nothing to spoil by prior knowledge, per se. Except that maybe even still, for example, having that ecstatic visceral experience is based on a not knowing, in some fashion; for example, there’s only one time for the first such experience. All subsequent such experiences are informed by prior such similar events; but also, there may be circumstances around how the experience is induced that involve some fashion of not-knowing the mechanisms being used, which after the initial experience become less effective in themselves and experienced practitioners then rely on other means more, such as anchoring past experience to ease induction subsequently.

Also, for purely personal experience based on involvement in a mystery cultic practice, the former requires the latter, so saying the former can’t be spoiled is only true on the former level but it’s a logical typing fallacy to presume that spoiling the more primary function of mystery cultic practice can’t spoil the dependent personal experience of it. Mystery rituals are built around some kind of surprise, a revealing of the secret practice or doctrine at least. One could try to criticize the practices of mystery traditions by bringing up features of non-surprise ritual is not a feature of surprise ritual merely because they participate in the prior category of ritual. But, still the one is not the other. Noetic mystery is not mystery cult merely because the English word mystery is in both. But these are mostly different topics than suggesting the efficacy a mystery cult with structured ritual behaviour involving a secret doctrine or secret rite to a previous practice of generalized, syncretic, eclectic practice.

 

So, for my own part, I have come to prefer the discipline of having structured ritual events with their reveals unspoiled so that I can experience them with as little prior knowledge as possible, because it’s the only time I will ever get that experience in that way, ever. Of course, you go about your experiences however you like, but I suspect if the initial spoiler free experience is not preserved you’re not actually experiencing ‘mystery cult’ anymore, but rather just, one might say, an extended re-enactment of a transcript of someone else’s dramatized experience. And, if you want that, just watch reruns of some reality television program, or another, instead.

 

[Originally posted over on John Griogair Bell’s Blog at Secret societies, societies with secrets, and societies with spoilers]