The Myth of the Eternal Return

The Myth of the Eternal Return or, Cosmos and History by Mircea Eliade, reviewed by Bkwyrm, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Eliade The Myth of the Eternal Return

One of my favorite authors. Eliade once said that if someone was only going to read one of his books, they ought to read this one. From the back cover: “This is an essay on mankind’s experience of history and its interpretation, beginning with a study of the traditional or mythological view, and concluding with a comparative estimate of modern historiological approaches. At a moment when modern man has brought his race almost to the point of annihilation, the historical attitude has been all but discredited. The author seeks an answer to the question: What can protect us from the terror of history?”

This isn’t witchcraft, or magic, or ritual. It’s philosophy. I find this work absolutely fascinating. Eliade was the chairman of the department of history of religions at the University of Chicago, as well as the Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor in the Divinity School and professor in the Committee on Social Thought. He was the author of novels, short stories, and plays as well as works in the history of religions. After you’ve read this work, you ought to read “Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashions,” as well as “Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy.”

The Mystery of the Grail

The Mystery of the Grail: Initiation and Magic in the Quest for the Spirit by Julius Evola, reviewed by Julianus, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Evola The Mystery of the Grail

This book originally formed an appendix to the author’s Revolt Against the Modern World, which he later expanded into a book in its own right. Evola’s thesis is that the Grail Cycle forms a Pagan “northern” mystery distinct from the “southern” Christian religion, and that this represented an Imperial “resistance” to the Church in the Middle Ages. I am not entirely convinced of this, but there is much interesting analysis of the Grail legends in here.

The Mysterious Stranger

The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain, reviewed by Magdalene Meretrix, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Twain The Mysterious Stranger

Twain’s final story, published posthumously in 1916, is, despite its obscurity, arguably one of Twain’s greatest works. In this story, Twain distills all the sarcastic religious views he expressed in “Letters from Earth” into a gem of gnostic thought. Though many modern readers will have already come into contact with the notions of a trickster god in a nihilistic universe that Twain depicts, he was far ahead of his time when he wrote these ideas into The Mysterious Stranger.

The Mysterious Stranger takes place in a small Austrian village in the late 1500s. Three boys meet a mysterious stranger. Is he an angel or a demon? The boys, and the reader, are left uncertain – though what is a demon, after all, but a fallen angel?

The story follows the events that transpire when this angel touches their lives and the lives of everyone in the village. The main character, Theodor, undergoes a painful and sorrow-laden awakening to the reality of the nature of the universe, humans, angels and god that will leave the reader contemplating these philosophical constructs and religious ideas for quite some time.

Omnium Gatherum: May 13, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 13, 2019

If you’d like to participate, head over to Omnium Gatherum on the BBS, or suggest something.

  • Examining the People Accused of Witchcraft” — Kenny Smith, Scottish Field; about Remembering Scotland’s Accused Witches by Fife Witches Remembered, May 19 at Glen Pavilion, Dunfermline, UK [HT SelineSigil]

    “The passing of the Scottish Witchcraft Act in 1563 made witchcraft, or consulting with witches, crimes punishable by death in Scotland. It’s estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 women were publicly accused of being witches in 16th and 17th century Scotland, a much higher number than neighbouring England. Seventy-five per cent of the accused were women and about two thirds were killed.

    Hundreds of villages across Scotland have stones, wells, monuments, glens and places of execution connected with this eruption of witch-finding zeal.

    Workshops and talks will give people a chance to hear about local witches, including Lillias Adie, the Torryburn witch, whose body was buried in the shoreline of the Forth. Experience how witchcraft has been expressed through art and poetry and nature, investigate the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, how data is presented on Wikipedia and many other related topics.”

  • Was Shakespeare a Woman? The authorship controversy, almost as old as the works themselves, has yet to surface a compelling alternative to the man buried in Stratford. Perhaps that’s because, until recently, no one was looking in the right place. The case for Emilia Bassano.” — Elizabeth Walker, The Atlantic

    “Not long after my Macbeth outing, I learned that Shakespeare’s Globe, in London, had set out to explore this figure’s input to the canon. The theater’s summer 2018 season concluded with a new play, Emilia, about a contemporary of Shakespeare’s named Emilia Bassano. Born in London in 1569 to a family of Venetian immigrants—musicians and instrument-makers who were likely Jewish—she was one of the first women in England to publish a volume of poetry (suitably religious yet startlingly feminist, arguing for women’s “Libertie” and against male oppression). Her existence was unearthed in 1973 by the Oxford historian A. L. Rowse, who speculated that she was Shakespeare’s mistress, the “dark lady” described in the sonnets. In Emilia, the playwright Morgan Lloyd Malcolm goes a step further: Her Shakespeare is a plagiarist who uses Bassano’s words for Emilia’s famous defense of women in Othello.

    Could Bassano have contributed even more widely and directly?”

  • The Eloquent Blood: The Goddess Babalon and the Construction of Femininities in Western Esotericism by Manon Hedenborg White, due in December, from Oxford University Press

    White The Eloquent Blood

    “In the conventional dichotomy of chaste, pure Madonna and libidinous whore, the former has usually been viewed as the ideal form of femininity. However, there is a modern religious movement in which the negative stereotype of the harlot is inverted and exalted. The Eloquent Blood focuses on the changing construction of femininity and feminine sexuality in interpretations of the goddess Babalon. A central deity in Thelema, the religion founded by the notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), Babalon is based on Crowley’s favorable reinterpretation of the biblical Whore of Babylon, and is associated with liberated female sexuality and the spiritual ideal of passionate union with existence.

    Analyzing historical and contemporary written sources, qualitative interviews, and ethnographic fieldwork in the Anglo-American esoteric milieu, the study traces interpretations of Babalon from the works of Crowley and some of his key disciples―including the rocket scientist John “Jack” Whiteside Parsons, and the enigmatic British occultist Kenneth Grant―until the present. From the 1990s onwards, this study shows, female and LGBTQ esotericists have challenged historical interpretations of Babalon, drawing on feminist and queer thought and conceptualizing femininity in new ways.

    Tracing the trajectory of a particular gendered symbol from the fin-de-siècle until today, Manon Hedenborg White explores the changing role of women in Western esotericism, and shows how evolving constructions of gender have shaped the development of esotericism. Combining research on historical and contemporary Western esotericism with feminist and queer theory, the book sheds new light on the ways in which esoteric movements and systems of thought have developed over time in relation to political movements.”

  • Occult Territory. An Arthur Machen Gazetteer edited by R.B. Russell, from Tartarus Press,

    Russell Machen Occult Territory

    “This Gazetteer lists those places in which Arthur Machen lived, worked, wrote, ate, drank and worshipped. It is also a guide to sites that influenced his life and his work. It is illustrated, often with contemporary photographs, and includes quotes from Machen, and those that knew him.

    There is much to be gained from wandering around the lanes and footpaths of Machen’s family home in Llanddewi, Gwent, because the landscape is essentially unchanged from when he lived there as a boy. Arthur Machen’s London is rather different. Machen experienced it as a city of delight and wonder when he first visited it in 1880, but when he lived there in the mid 1880s it was the backdrop to poverty and hardship, doubt and frustration. However, after this dark period, it was the anvil upon which some of his most important friendships and relationships were forged, and where he had the most strange and mysterious encounters.

    With over 160 entries, this is an indispensible volume for any admirer of the work of Arthur Machen, author of The Great God Pan, The Hill of Dreams, and other works of sorcery and sanctity.”

  • To Get Better at Life, Try This Modern Mantra” — Ephrat Livni, Quartzy

    “The word mantra comes from Sanskrit and literally means “mind tool” or instrument of thought. People have used these tools for thousands of years to quiet thinking, cultivate focus, and induce spiritual states. In truth, anyone can use them, and there is scientific proof they work, whether or not you are spiritually inclined.

    Repetitive utterances induce a state of psychological calm because they seem to chill out the part of your mind that’s especially self-involved.”

  • Sphinx chamber at Emperor Nero’s palace in Rome brought to light after 2,000 years” [also] — Gianluca Mezzofiore, CNN

    CNN Nero Sphinx Room

    “Experts working on the restoration of Emperor Nero’s vast palace in Rome have stumbled upon a secret, underground room decorated with panthers, centaurs and a sphinx.

    The chamber, brought to light after 2,000 years, is part of the remains of the Domus Aurea (Golden House), the immense palace that Nero built after the fire of 64 AD that devastated Rome.”

  • Rome opens up exorcism course to all major Christian faiths to fight rising demonic forces” — Leonardo Blair, The Christian Post [HT David Metcalfe]

    “For the first time in 14 years, the Roman Catholic Church has opened up its annual exorcism class in Rome to all major Christian faiths in a bid to stem the rising tide of demonic forces around the world.

    More than 241 people, both lay and religious, from more than 40 countries signed up for the course this year, Crux Now reported.

    They all agree that growing secularization has led to a proliferation of satanic groups, especially among young people through social media.

    ‘Many young people display a certain attraction and interest toward themes tied to esotericism, magic, the occult, Satanism, witchcraft, vampirism and contact with a presumed supernatural world,’ Italian Professor Giuseppe Ferrari, founder and secretary of the “Social and Religious Research and Information Group,” said during his introductory speech at the event.”

  • Earliest Evidence Of Ayahuasca Use Discovered In Ancient Shamanic Pouch In Bolivia. The indigenous people of South America engage in ayahuasca rituals to this day. This discovery is proof of just how far back its use really goes.” — Marco Margaritoff, All Things Interesting

    Margaritoff All Things Interesting ayahuasca ancient Bolivia pouch three fox snouts sewn together

    “A 1,000-year-old pouch made from three fox snouts sewn together was discovered in Bolivia to contain some tantalizing surprises. According to National Geographic, the pouch held the world’s earliest evidence of ayahuasca among a plethora of other mind-altering substances and drug paraphernalia.”

  • What and where is heaven? The answers are at the heart of the Easter story” — Robyn J Whitaker, The Conversation [HT Ethos]

    “In the Christian tradition, heaven and paradise have been conflated as an answer to the question “where do I go when I die?” The idea of the dead being in heaven or enjoying paradise often brings enormous comfort to the bereaved and hope to those suffering or dying. Yet heaven and paradise were originally more about where God lived, not about us or our ultimate destination.

    Heaven or paradise in the Bible is a utopian vision, designed not only to inspire faith in God but also in the hope that people might embody the values of love and reconciliation in this world.”

  • Tweet by Clara (she/her) [HT Haley]

The Modern Witch’s Spellbook

The Modern Witch’s Spellbook by Sarah Lyddon Morrison, reviewed by Bkwyrm, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Morrison The Modern Witch's Spellbook

Subtitled “A Guide to the Mysteries of the Occult, Explaining How to Cast Spells, Work Charms and Love-Magic, and Improve Daily Living Through Witchcraft”. Almost sounds like an ad for a new laundry detergent, doesn’t it? “Brighten your colors and get those whites really clean, use Witchcraft!!” I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but this was the first book on Witchcraft that I ever bought, at a Waldenbooks in Florence, Kentucky. Sad but true. It doesn’t have any kind of religious focus – it’s a spellbook, published in 1971, and definitely reflects the attitudes of the time it was written in. Morrison has basically tossed together a whole bunch of Wiccan traditions and some Ceremonial Magick and presented it as a “spellbook”.

The Masters Revealed

The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge by K Paul Johnson, reviewed by Julianus, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Johnson The Masters Revealed

Everybody in occultism has heard of the Secret Chiefs who direct world affairs from behind the scenes with their awesome powers. H.P. Blavatsky was probably most responsible for popularizing this idea and much controversy has ensued over whether she was faking those “letter from the Mahatmas” or not. Mr. Johnson takes a middle course between the two extremes on this subject; he concludes that HPB really was the representative of a world-wide network of Adepts which she deliberately mythologized for various reasons. The book is mostly a series of capsule biographies of real people that HPB was known to be in contact with (though some cases rest on circumstantial evidence.) These people range from European explorers, occultists, and revolutionaries to Sufi mystics to Indian Rajas. The fact that an overwhelming number of these figures were involved in revolutionary or anti-colonial political movements goes a long way to explaining Blavatsky’s concealment of their identities, and Mr. Johnson presents (for example) internal memos from British intelligence showing that she was watched by Colonial authorities in India.

Another interesting aspect of the “Myth of the Masters” is how it was inflated by HPB’s disciples, much to her annoyance. Mr. Johnson takes great pains to show how the most extravagant claims originated outside of Blavatsky’s control. The result is kind of an object-lesson in human credulity.

The two major problems with this book are, first, that it is really to short– the biographical material is so brief that one feels at time as if one is reading a “Cliffs Notes” version of the real book (indeed this is apparently a “popular edition” of the author’s Master’s Thesis.) The second problem is that many of the “Masters” listed really do not seem to have much real connection to Blavatsky or Theosophy except that the author seems to think they should! Perhaps this due to the above-mentioned abridged quality of the work, and if so I do hope he expands on these points in future editions.

– Koot-Hoomi

Omnium Gatherum: May 10, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 10, 2019

If you’d like to participate, head over to Omnium Gatherum on the BBS, or suggest something.

  • Religious fundamentalism – why is it growing and what is the alternative?” — Fred Weston, Socialist Appeal [HT Dr. Death & Divinity]

    “All religions have their fundamentalists; there are Christian fundamentalists, Hindu fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, Buddhist fundamentalists and so on. They all play a reactionary role, and they are all growing in number. All of them believe they are the holders of the absolute truth, while all others are heretics or even the work of the devil himself. They are all used to sow division among toiling people around the world. The phenomenon affects all countries to one degree or another.”

  • A quarter of people who meditate experience negative mental states” — Donna Lu, New Scientist

    “A quarter of regular meditators say they have experienced negative mental states as a result of meditation, including anxiety and fear.”

  • Hidden Cupid resurfaces in one of Vermeer’s best-known works after two and a half centuries. Laboratory tests revealed ‘sensational’ discovery that the figure in Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window was overpainted decades after the artist’s death.” — Catherine Hickley, The Art Newspaper

    Hickley The Art Newspaper Hidden Cupid Vermeer

    “A hidden Cupid in Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, one of the world’s most famous paintings, is set to resurface on the canvas after two and a half centuries behind a layer of paint. During restoration work, conservators discovered, to their surprise, that the naked figure—which dominates the upper right section of the picture—was overpainted long after the artist’s death.”

  • Cursed Britain: A History of Witchcraft and Black Magic in Modern Times by Thomas Waters, due September, from Yale University Press; got to say the marketing copy gives me the impression this is sensational “black magic” panic drek. The use of “evil magic” and “black magic” seems sensationalist and imprecise, and the ad copy doesn’t seem to do justice to the apparent seriousness of the work, which I can attest from a cursory look at the table of contents provided by the author, to be honest. The use of the big red unicursal hexagram on the cover seems out of place, as that’s specific to Aleister Crowley, as Crowley’s work and influence seem not a very big focus of the actual work as far as I can tell. (Slipping facilely for no good reason from “evil” to Crowley is something I’ve called the Crowley Corollary.) But, the author assures me in private correspondence that “the book is not a sensational sally about black magic. On the contrary, it’s a meticulous and sympathetic study of magical beliefs, practices and experiences in Britain and the British Empire since about 1800, based on around 15 years worth of research in archives across the United Kingdom and beyond.” So, despite my prima facie misgivings, which you might share, I encourage you consider joining me in giving this the benefit of the doubt.

    Waters Cursed Britain

    “The definitive history of how evil magic has survived into the present day

    In our age of technology, it is easy to imagine that black magic in Britain is dead. Yet, over recent centuries this dark idea has persisted, changed, and returned. From the rural world of Georgian Britain, through the immense territories of the British Empire, to the multicultural present day, Thomas Waters explores the enduring power of primeval fears. He shows how witchcraft has become as diverse as modern Britain itself, and reveals why it is currently on the rise.”

  • Viktor Hachmang’s new book combines traditional printmaking with the digital” — Jyni Ong, It’s Nice That; from the GPOY dept; about Twin Mirrors by Viktor Hachmang, from Landfill Editions [HT gossip göre]

    Hachmang Twin Mirrors

    “‘A while ago I inherited a bunch of traditional materials from a graphic designer Henk Kamphorst’, explains the Hague-based illustrator. ‘He did a lot of design work in the pre-PC era, and boxes of his materials were lying around my studio and after a while, I decided to give them a go.’ Quickly establishing a visual rhythm using the tools, Viktor began work on The Hermetic Library; the story revolves around a protagonist who finds a ‘seemingly ever-expanding room where the walls are completely covered with untitled books.'”

  • Witchbody: A Graphic Novel by Sabrina Scott, foreword by Tim Morton

    Scott Witchbody

    “Witchbody is an invitation to experience what lies hidden beneath the surface of our everyday lives—to see the magic in all things. A plant, a tree, a coffee cup, garbage bins, you, me—they’re all magic. Witchcraft is simply the power we’re all born with to awaken our senses to this magic, to awaken our “witchbody.” And that awakening is essential if we are to reframe our experience with Nature and with our precious planet.”

  • Tarot and the Archetypal Journey: The Jungian Path from Darkness to Light by Sallie Nichols, foreword by Mary K Greer, from Weiser Books

    Nichols Tarot and the Archetypal Journey

    “This highly innovative work presents a piercing interpretation of the tarot in terms of Jungian psychology. Through analogies to the humanities, mythology, and the graphic arts, the significance of the cards is related to personal growth and what Jung termed “individuation.” The Major Arcana becomes a map of life, and the hero’s journey becomes something that each individual can relate to one’s personal life.”

  • How Kanye West and Church Merch Are Bringing Back “Sunday Best”. The performer’s fashion for weekend worship signals both flash and virtue.” — Alexis Cheung, Vanity Fair

    Cheung Vanity Fair Kanye West Church Merch Sunday Best

    “Beyond mirroring Catholicism’s tradition of opulence, fashion’s most recent religious turn tends towards conservatism. Modest dressing, which has roots in religious adherence, has migrated back into fashion.”

  • Origin of Loch Ness Monster and Other Sea Serpents Traced to Odd Phenomenon. A form of mania gripped the world.” — Sarah Sloat, Inverse [HT John W Morehead]

    “The Loch Ness Monster is perhaps our most famous sea monster, known for drowning locals in front of saints and avoiding motorcycles on its early morning cruise back to the loch. But Scotland’s Nessie is just one of the many, many sea monsters people have allegedly seen. In the 19th century, saying you saw a sea monster was very common indeed. And the reason why this happened, a new study in Earth Science History argues, is based on something very real.

    The collective illusion — that creatures in the water were actually mysterious monsters of the deep — was driven by so-called ‘dino-mania,’ researchers reported this week. This conclusion is based on their statistical analysis of the nature of sea monster reports from 1801 to 2015.”

  • Romania’s witches harness the powers of the web” — Emily Wither, Reuters

    “The power of the Internet has allowed Romania’s busy witch community to gradually migrate their ancient practices onto the Web.

    Witchcraft has long been seen as a folk custom in the eastern European country, and many of its estimated 4,000 witches are luring customers from Europe, Asia and the United States.”

  • Finding Salvation with an Online Cult” — VICE [HT Digg]

    “Unicult is not your typical cult. Founded in 2012 by self proclaimed pop-spiritual leader Unicole Unicron, this mostly online group and its millennial following studies everything from crystals to aliens and seeks to empower each other to seek joy on earth.”

Omnium Gatherum: May 9, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 9, 2019

If you’d like to participate, head over to Omnium Gatherum on the BBS, or suggest something.

  • Astrologaster. [also] A Comedy Written in the Stars. A game by Nyamyam. [HT The Guardian]

    “London, 1592. A great plague sweeps through the capital. When doctors flee the city in fear, a hero rises. His name is Simon Forman, “Doctor” of Astrology, Astronomy and Physick. Not only does he have the power to cure the sick, he can find their lost pets and predict their futures! All by reading the movements of the stars.

    But when the plague ends, Forman’s problems begin. The real doctors return to London and they will stop at nothing to bring him down…

    Astrologaster is a story-driven astrological comedy game set in Shakespeare’s London. Based on a true – and truly ridiculous – story.

    • Solve Hilarious Problems: Consult on problems ranging from Elizabethan terror plots and foul diseases, to romantic entanglements and stolen pies!
    • Change Lives: Win your patients’ favour or ruin their lives. Advise 14 characters who return 5-7 times. Patients have their own ongoing stories which often overlap with each other.
    • Win A Medical Licence: Convince patients to write letters of recommendations. Collect enough letters to exchange them for a medical licence.
    • Fully Voiced Character Dialogue: Sitcom-style comedy brought to life by a cast of over a dozen actors.
    • Sing Along – Enjoy Renaissance-era music and sing along to each character’s theme song.
    • Casebooks Come Alive: Simon Forman’s cases are presented as a beautiful pop-up book. Turn pages to delve deeper into your patients’ stories.

    Simon Forman was considered a sage by some and a charlatan by others. What will your legacy be? Will you put your faith in the stars?”

  • THE 15 BEST BASS MUSIC TRACKS OF APRIL 2019 A nice selection of bangers from last month including the first single from Konx-om-Pax’s dope new album.” — KAREEM GHEZAWI, Magnetic Magazine

    “1. KONX-OM-PAX – “LA MELODY” [PLANET MU]

    Konx om Pax: Essays in Light was originally a publication by infamous British occultist Aleister Crowley. The producer of the same name signed to Planet Mu is no ceremonial magician but he is definitely making a certain kind of magic in his new album, Ways of Seeing. “LA Melody” is the records opener and sets a epic buzz that the whole album continues to build on.”

  • Henri Bergson, celebrity. Women loved Bergson’s philosophy of creativity, change and freedom, but their enthusiasm fuelled a backlash against him.” — Emily Herring, Aeon

    “Why, when Bergson was popular, was he so popular, and especially with women? A combination of factors, including the public nature of his lectures and the clarity of his lecturing style no doubt contributed to his fame. Women in particular would have benefitted from the fact that Bergson’s lectures, which were held outside the stuffy confines of the exclusive Sorbonne, presented complex and subtle ideas in a way that was digestible to those who had perhaps not benefitted from a formal philosophical education. More importantly, Bergson’s philosophy was a philosophy of change, creativity and freedom that many, in the years leading up to the First World War, used as a way of channelling their own political hopes. Perhaps the women of the late Belle Époque were so drawn to Bergson because his philosophy was then a rallying point for those who believed radical change was possible – much as their descendants would be drawn to the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in the late 1940s.”

  • A Theology of Failure: Žižek against Christian Innocence by Marika Rose, from Fordham University Press

    Rose A Theology of Failure

    “Everyone agrees that theology has failed; but the question of how to understand and respond to this failure is complex and contested. Against both the radical orthodox attempt to return to a time before the theology’s failure and the deconstructive theological attempt to open theology up to the hope of a future beyond failure, Rose proposes an account of Christian identity as constituted by, not despite, failure. Understanding failure as central to theology opens up new possibilities for confronting Christianity’s violent and kyriarchal history and abandoning the attempt to discover a pure Christ outside of the grotesque materiality of the church.

    The Christian mystical tradition begins with Dionysius the Areopagite’s uncomfortable but productive conjunction of Christian theology and Neoplatonism. The tensions generated by this are central to Dionysius’s legacy, visible not only in subsequent theological thought but also in much twentieth century continental philosophy as it seeks to disentangle itself from its Christian ancestry. A Theology of Failure shows how the work of Slavoj Žižek represents an attempt to repeat the original move of Christian mystical theology, bringing together the themes of language, desire, and transcendence not with Neoplatonism but with a materialist account of the world. Tracing these themes through the work of Dionysius and Derrida and through contemporary debates about the gift, violence, and revolution, this book offers a critical theological engagement with Žižek’s account of social and political transformation, showing how Žižek’s work makes possible a materialist reading of apophatic theology and Christian identity.”

  • Polish activist detained for ‘offending religious beliefs’ over LGBTQ Virgin Mary” [also, also] — Rachel Kennedy, Euronews [HT curiosa]

    Podleśna rainbow Virgin Mary

    “An activist in Poland has been detained after police found posters depicting the Virgin Mary with a halo consisting of the colours of the LGBTQ flag.

    The activist, Elżbieta Podleśna, confirmed on Facebook in the early hours of Monday morning that she had been arrested, and her phone confiscated.”

  • Coalescence. Esoteric and Philosophical Musings of a Gyrovague by Tau Palamas, from Transmutation Publishing [HT TauPalamas]

    Tau Palamas Coalescence

    Coalescence is the amalgamation of a set of recondite and metaphysical teachings and artworks of ‡PALAMAS XVI° which comprise the fundamentals of a precise instrument of the Voudon+Gnostic OTOA-LCN called the Ordo Gyrovagus. Grounded in a humanistic, mystical, and living philosophy–and exploring the very heart and soul of esotericism–Coalescence picks up where Syzygy left off: developing the inner life and practice of the gyrovague; opening a clear path of personal Masonic integration; exploring the nature of aesthetic mysticism; and providing a set of initiatory rituals as vehicles for expansion.

    Duly and truly prepared, with a sharpened intelligence which can link scenes, colors, shapes, and forms immediately to a world of correspondences (which suggest the underlying fundamental unity of being), the initiate makes meaning of the phantasmagoria—which, in turn, causes changes to the fluidic and malleable substance of the dreamscape itself. Then, with the audacity and authority of an ancient magus, the initiate wields the true sword of every student of the mysteries: the sovereign will. Suddenly, within what was once a surrealistic landscape with chaotic portents and confusing bits of data strewn about in a gravity- less atmosphere, there appears a dimension worthy of exploration, a state of being with secrets, information, and lessons to be learned, and beings to interact and travel further with. Such is the lifting of the veil…

    ~PALAMAS”

  • The Abyss. A Thelemic journey through the Abyss and the Myths of Descent, based on both personal experience and a multidisciplinary study by Leo Holmes [HT LeoHolmes]

    Holmes The Abyss

    “Six years after the critically acclaimed LeMULgeton: Goetia and the Stellar Tradition, Leo Holmes is back with a new and exciting book: The Abyss. The Abyss offers a wide approach, based on both personal experience and a multidisciplinary study, to the second of the two main crises of a magician’s career, the first being the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. The book is predominantly inspired by Thelemic Literature, but not limited to it, drawing parallels to ancient Myths of Descent and intellectual, emotional, and behavioural patterns, as much as to archetypal concepts. It is a painful yet insightful journey that depends equally on the pilgrim and on the Stars that guide him.

    The author also employs a couple of famous Gothic poems, artistic concepts, and Gnostic and Eastern teachings and ascetic practices in an attempt to cover the various facets of the awful and enlightening experience that is the Ordeal of the Abyss. Restriction: that is the word of Sin, that is the word of The Abyss. But where is the threshold? Where and when one thing becomes another? When Restriction becomes Liberation and vice versa? How can we be so sure that the Other is not just another part of the I? We are walking metamorphoses, not much different from Alchemical Processes, and we contain all the elements of the Universe.

    Knowing this, Leo Holmes makes use of spiritual and psychological concepts present in the symbology of the tradition of Western Alchemy, corresponded by Astrological Signs and by the twelve steps common to many famous Epic journeys, some of which were essential for the Mystery Cults of the past. He also introduces the unprecedented concept of the Shadow Animal: the cluster of atavistic, normally unconscious patterns of behaviour that operates more or less like the Power Animal of Shamanism, but in a reversed manner. For him, this Shadow Animal is just one of the many masks of Choronzon, or the Shadow God, manifest in the heart of man.

    Examining the ephemerality of what we call reality, and the triviality of our social values, the pervasiveness of Suffering, and the compulsiveness of self-sacrifice and rectification, “The Abyss” aims to function – like the poet Virgil and the Sybil Deiphobe – as a small beam of light amid darkness and as a solidary bony hand for those who are facing the terrifying Night of Pan. The dissolution of the Ego is neither pleasant nor simple; for that, the mystic or magician has to become aware of his Shadow, that which hinders him and is occult within his skull. The true Occultist is not the one who memorizes complicated rituals or dabbles in the supernatural, but the one who teaches oneself to identify the patterns that reveal what is occult.

    On the other side of the crossing, Babalon beckons to her Babes, calling them to surrender completely and sacrifice themselves in order to become No-man, or maybe more accurately, the Primordial Man. He is but a Force of Nature. When the Truth in the formula of NOX is not only intellectually understood, but also directly experienced, the magician successfully pours out his blood into the Cup of our Lady and then becomes free to move forward, towards Saturn (Binah) and the Stars (Chokmah). There is no need to instruct a Babe thus born, for in the Abyss he was purged of every poison of personality, and his ascent to the highest is assured in its season.

    Welcome to the Abyss, enjoy your stay.”

  • Researchers hunt for 17th century ‘witch bottles’” — University of Hertfordshire, Phys.org [HT curiosa]

    “A team of archaeologists and historians from MOLA and the University of Hertfordshire are calling on people who may have discovered 17th century ‘witch bottles’ during restoration work or know of examples curated at their places of work, to come forward.

    For the first time, all known examples that survive in museums and other collections around Southern and Eastern England (the apparent geographical extent of the phenomenon) are to be surveyed first-hand or through literature review and critiqued along with their contents. Extensive research will also be done to explore the origins of the practice and to situate ‘witch bottles’ in their full historic and cultural context, perhaps debunking some myths along the way.”

  • ‘Here is a story! Story it is’: how fairytales are told in other tongues. From Korea to Germany to Nigeria, every culture has its own version of ‘once upon a time’ – and most are more interesting than the English.” — Kate Lyons, The Guardian. [HT curiosa]

    “In Tamil, folk stories and fairytales, the sort that grandparents tell grandchildren before bed, often begin, ‘In that only place…’. In another Indian language, Telugu, stories start ‘Having been said and said and said…’. In English, of course, it is ‘Once upon a time…’.

    Chitra Soundar, an Indian-British author and storyteller, was thinking about her grandmother’s stories, which always began with the classic Tamil opener, when she asked people on Twitter to share how stories began in their languages.

    She received more than 100 suggestions from dozens of languages – from Farsi to Basque, Creole to Korean – with some people sharing contributions from places and in languages she had never heard of, as well as some less traditional options, such as ‘In a galaxy far, far away…’.”

  • John Turturro on ‘The Name of the Rose’ Series and Investigating Umberto Eco” — Stewart Clarke, Variety [HT Dr Gillian Kenny]

    Variety Tuturro Eco The Name of the Rose

    “John Turturro hadn’t read Umberto Eco’s thriller ‘The Name of the Rose’ or seen the 1986 movie when he was approached in spring of last year about a new TV adaptation. After reading the novel, one of the best-selling of all time, Turturro agreed to sign on – if the producers agreed to honor the original, he says.

    ‘I read the book and I loved it. I started writing to [director] Giacomo [Battiato] to say, ‘Why isn’t there more Eco, this is eight hours, you don’t have to reduce it,’ Turturro says. ‘I said, ‘If you put more of Eco in, then I’m interested.’’

    Turturro takes the role played by Sean Connery in the film, that of William Baskerville, the Franciscan monk investigating a series of mysterious murders in a 14th-century Italian monastery. Rupert Everett plays merciless inquisitor Bernard Gui, and Michael Emerson is the abbot among an international cast.”

The Masks of Odin

The Masks of Odin: Wisdom of the Ancient Norse, translated and commented on by Elsa-Brita Titchenell, reviewed by Ingeborg Svea Norden, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Titchenell The Masks of Odin

A native Scandinavian should be able to translate the Poetic Edda very well–at least, that’s what readers expect. Unfortunately, Titchell doesn’t measure up. Not only does she insist on putting a Theosophical spin on her translations (East meets North–UGH!), but she renders the proper names in a confusing mixture of Old Norse, English, and Swedish. One kindred that I hoped to join had this book on its required reading list; after buying and reading this book, I had second thoughts about joining. (Anyone who can’t accept Norse philosophy on its own terms shouldn’t write or teach about it!)