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]