Monthly Archives: February 2020

Omnium Gatherum: 27feb2020

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for February 27, 2020

Here’s some things I’ve found that you may be interested in checking out:

  • Vatican Abp organizing Global Education Pact touts pope’s ‘new humanism’ where God ‘withdraws’. Vatican archbishop Vincenzo Zani said Pope Francis’s ‘new humanism’ centers on a God who ‘creates but then withdraws.’”
  • The only life we have—”The great Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, wrote, ‘We, all who live, have/A life that is lived/And another life that is thought/And the only life we have/It’s the one that is divided/In right or wrong.'”
  • Pearl-clutching tabloid promotion of a new book She’s a Rainbow: The Extraordinary Life of Anita Pallenberg: The Black Queen by Simon Wells has begun: Anita Pallenberg’s love life wasn’t half as crazy as her obsession with black magic—”‘We are hoping to see this magician who practises both white and black magic,’ Richards told a jostling group of press photographers that day in December 1968. ‘He has a very long and difficult name which we cannot pronounce – we just call him Banana for short.’” See also.
  • Robert Mitchell, Patron of the library, and author of Cabal Fang, is running a series of daily reflections for Lent via text and email for anybody who is interested, already started on 2/26 Ash Wednesday but continuing through Easter 4/12. Sign up here.
  • Tarot inspires oboe trio presenting ‘Dreams and Visions’ at South Bend’s LangLab—”‘It had a lot of supernatural overtones,’ Ingle says. ‘I’d been looking for a way to connect my passions for the oboe and the tarot. I wanted something that could end up being a signature piece for me to play.’ Ingle and Rusche got together to make random drawings of tarot cards, but they gave themselves ample permission to rearrange the results until a pattern emerged that could help shape a narrative arc to the musical developments. The first and last cards have special significance.”
  • Ron Colone: Maybe we’re all just different—”I suppose the easiest difference we can point to regarding reference frames involves the sources from which we get our information. Whether it’s competing TV or radio news shows, newspapers, magazines, online websites, or some friend or relative who’s all-too-eager to spout their views and theories, we are receiving and perpetuating vastly different stories based on different agendas. No surprise there, but how do we ever arrive at objectivity? Maybe we don’t, maybe this is where our intellectual, philosophical, social and spiritual evolution has led us, to Einstein’s — or is it Aleister Crowley’s — relativistic universe where there is no objective reality, no unbiased truth and no impartial measure of right and wrong. If so, then maybe the truth is really just like going out to lunch, where you order whatever suits your tastes.”
  • Patrick Freyne in Parliament Square: Brexiteers make hay at final fling. London revellers call for sovereignty and ‘controlled’ migration as they celebrate.”—”Sixty-four-year old leaver Jeremy Ruygrok is explaining himself to a slightly exasperated remain-voter called Anthony. Ruygrok is a half-Dutch Taoist whose father was a follower of the mystic Aleister Crowley. He has lived all over the world but his business was ripped off, he says, and now he’s homeless in London. He’s been energised by Brexit, he says, ‘but Britain has been lost to cultural Marxists’. Anthony can’t believe what he’s hearing: ‘But you’ve literally just won!’ ‘I’ve been black pilled,’ says Ruygrok before explaining ‘the pills’. To be blue pilled, he explains, is to be ignorant of the world’s deep conspiracies. To be red pilled is to see them. To be black pilled is to see them but still believe all is lost. He thinks a civil war is on the horizon. ‘I don’t really have hope for the future.’ He laughs. ‘But let them have their day.'”
  • Long Tail Keywords and SEO—”For example, if you work at a bookstore you’re going to hear more requests for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling than one would for The Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley. Both books have their fans. But Harry Potter is analogous to a head term keyword phrase and The Book of Thoth is analogous to a long tail keyword phrase. Long tail is about the relative rarity of its occurrence as a search phrase in Google. It’s not about how many words are in the keyword phrase.”
  • 4 Secret Societies That Operated In The Shadows Of London—The School of Night, The Calves’ Head Club, The Gormogons, The Golden Dawn.
  • These 20 Quotes Will Inspire You to Seize Great Opportunities in 2020. A new year has arrived. It’s time to move on from the past and create your own future.”—”‘May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fall!’ – Aleister Crowley” (A quote from a character talking in Moonchild, often attributed as if said directly by AC.)
  • Ethan Schwandt creates a Mind Map of Donald Robertsons’ book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius: How to Think Like a Roman Emperor – Donald Robertson (Mind Map Book Summary)
  • The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow, due in October. “There’s no such thing as witches… There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box. But, in 1893, when the three Eastwood sisters—James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna—join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to purse the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into a witch’s movement…and set the world ablaze.”
  • Tweet by Cambridge UL Special Collections. “Today’s unexpected discovery in a 1529 volume of Augustine. For future reference, we have acid free paper to mark your place. Please don’t use baked goods.”
  • War Magic: The Wizarding World of Tibetan Sorcery—”See these artworks and learn more in the exhibition Faith and Empire: Art and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism at the Rubin Museum, on view February 1–July 15, 2019.”
  • Netherlands Returns Stolen 18th Century Ceremonial Crown to Ethiopia
  • Will Britain lose the Elgin marbles?
  • How a Good Scam Can Bypass Our Defences. Cons exploit our cognitive biases. I learned the hard way that some of us are more vulnerable than others.”
  • In the Era of Fake News, Teaching Media Literacy is a Must. The problem is big and getting bigger. Parents and teachers can help young people develop media literacy skills.”
  • Is this Nefertiti’s tomb? Radar clues reignite debate over hidden chambers. A new survey hints at a previously unknown space beyond Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.”
  • How Leamington Spa is Changing — and Challenging — its Game Development Legacy—The city where Aleister Crowley was born has become a UK Silicon Valley, or “Silicon Spa”.
  • When Zora Neale Hurston Studied Zombies in Haiti. Zora Neale Hurston’s 1930s study of Haitian voodoo culture showed her a new category between life and death.”—About the book Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica.
  • Photo: Ancient pyramid casing stones repurposed along the 1,000 year old street.
  • Amazon to donate to drug charity linked to Scientology. Exclusive: experts have queried methods of Narconon, which has given talks in UK schools.”
  • Carmilla | Season Two (FULL SEASON) | KindaTV
  • ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY COLLECTION LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY, appears to now be available! “Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of world cinema’s most fabled iconoclasts. […] Influential, controversial and endlessly fascinating, Jodorowsky’s surreal masterpieces are presented here in stunning new 4K restorations, accompanied with a wealth of illuminating extras, and new writing.”
  • ESOGEN Symposium – Esotericism, Gender, and Sexuality. “An international, interdisciplinary graduate student symposium on esotericism, gender, and sexuality at the University of Amsterdam.” 16 apr. 09:00 – 18:00 CEST. Amsterdam University Library, Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam, Netherlands. “This interdisciplinary, one-day symposium – open to all, and geared especially towards MA and PhD students from all disciplines – approaches the nexus of Western esotericism, gender, and sexuality. From antiquity until the present, individuals have deployed esoteric ideas to explicate, challenge, or overhaul traditional binaries of sex and gender; as such, the history of Western esotericism overlaps with that of feminism, eugenics, sexology, free love, celibacy, gay and lesbian liberation, polyamory, gender non-conformity, and other such currents. The symposium will feature a keynote lecture by Christine Ferguson, Professor in English Literature at the University of Stirling, titled: ‘Rape, Reincarnation, and Cosmic Justice in the Woman’s Occult Romance’.”
  • SACRED INTENT, 320 pages of mind-altering conversations and close to 50 photographs of Genesis P-Orridge that I’ve taken over the decades. It’s here and now.”
  • 9-1-1: Lone Star, s01e06, “Friends Like These“—Around the 28:00 mark, a female muslim character talks about Stoics, Jedi, and “memento mori”!

This post was possible because of support from generous ongoing Patrons and Members of the newsletter. Both Patrons and Members get Omnium Gatherum posts delivered immediately and directly to their email. On the blog, this will be exclusive to Patrons for one year, after which I’ll make it publicly available to everyone so they can see what they’ve been missing.


Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Isis by Auguste de Villiers de l’Isle Adam, translated by Brian Stableford.

de Villiers de L'Isle Adam Stableford Isis

The proto-decadent short novel Isis was the first published prose composition of Auguste de Villiers de l’Isle Adam, and has only recently been translated to English by Brian Stableford. Although the author’s dedication claims that the title “is the collective formula of a series of philosophical novels” projected to be written, none further followed, and “Isis” clearly alludes to the principal character Marchesa Tullia Fabriana.

It is noteworthy the extent to which this nineteenth-century work (set in the late eighteenth) anticipates and rehearses the tropes of the eventual modern superhero formula. Tullia is preternaturally learned, mystically initiated, and a superlative swordswoman. She has a trusty assistant/protege (recruited from orphaned destitution) and a secretly splendid headquarters. She routinely journeys out at the dead of night to aid the afflicted and heal the sick, under the anonymizing cover of a mask and specially-designed armor.

Unlike later crime-fighting capes tales, this book seems mostly unconcerned with plot, or at least fails to advance one very far. Short as it is, it indulges in some fine architectural description, anatomies of altered states of consciousness, and philosophical digressions. The style is reasonably abstruse, and its matter should be welcomed by those readers willing to tackle and appreciate classics of occult fiction such as Zanoni and Seraphita.

In the traditional Rosicrucian grade system, Tullia seems to be a rather accomplished Exempt Adept, perhaps a Babe of the Abyss. Her advancement to the grade of Master of the Temple in these terms would then be bound up with her encounter of the main viewpoint character Count Strally, a promising young man of parts who seems ready to accept her guidance.

Burning Bright

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier.

Chevalier Burning Bright

The historical novel Burning Bright is set in London 1792-3, and features the factual persons of William Blake and Philip Astley. It centers on a family from Dorsetshire transplanted to the (to them) alien urban setting. Although I’m no specialist in the period, I’ve taken away a favorable impression of author Chevalier’s research and verisimilitude. Her characters’ words seem authentic and her narration incorporates their speech and their world smoothly. The device of the country Kellaway family learning about city life is an effective method of developing the setting. The Kellaway paterfamilias has come to London to work for Astley’s circus, and the Kellaway children become acquainted with their neighbors in Lambeth at Hercules Buildings, the Blakes. The innocent Kellaways are also juxtaposed with an experienced London underclass family, the Butterfields.

I would tend to class this story as a “comedy” in an old-fashioned sense: its principal focus is on lower-class protagonists, and the plot eventuates in an upbeat manner–though there are certainly elements that could be taken as subversive of the genre. It’s not overflowing with wit or slapstick, although there are some surprising turns.

Chevalier has developed her characters with generous sympathy, except for a few plain villains. The book reads quickly, with largish chapters named after the months of the period, and numbered subchapters to define digestible episodes. I came to this novel hoping to get a more vivid, storybook sense of the lived context of William Blake, and I think it did its job well. From the title onward, there are many opportunities seized to artfully incorporate Blake’s own words into the substance of the novel. Chevalier also provides a bibliography and overview of her historical sources in a helpful appendix.

Omnium Gatherum: 18feb2020

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for Feb 18, 2020

Here’s some things I’ve found that you may be interested in checking out:

  • Ends TODAY! Tikkun is “offering a 20% OFF Presidents’ Day discount code SAVE20 to our next Spiritual Activism training — Beyond Resistance: Prophetic Empathy and Revolutionary Love — starting this Wednesday, February 19th. Sign-up by Tuesday, Feb. 18th to receive the discount! For more information about the training, […] click here to learn more and register. (Enter the discount code SAVE20 on the right hand side during checkout once you’ve chosen the full price and entered your name and contact information.)”
  • Skeleton found in cave could reveal Neanderthal death rites—”‘So much research on how Neanderthals treated their dead has to involve returning to finds from 60 or even a 100 years ago, when archaeological techniques were more limited — and that only ever gets you so far,’ said Emma Pomeroy, lead study author at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology. ‘To have primary evidence of such quality from this famous Neanderthal site will allow us to use modern technologies to explore everything from ancient DNA to long-held questions about Neanderthal ways of death, and whether they were similar to our own.'”
  • The Green Knight, from director David Lowery. Starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, and Joel Edgerton. The Green Knight – Summer 2020. From A24. Looks creepy and cool! Plenty to find interesting here, but be sure to check out the oval tarot cards at timestamp 0:53
  • Utopia Inc. Most utopian communities are, like most start-ups, short-lived. What makes the difference between failure and success?”—”If today’s communities offer escape from the cult of individualism only to end up being ‘walled gardens’ for a privileged class of bohemians, entrepreneurs or spiritual seekers, then perhaps, for all their material success, they might yet be said to have failed. Whether today’s collaborative experiments will create tentacles into more diverse populations or tackle agendas of social justice and economic inequality remains to be seen. ”
  • Carmilla | Season One (FULL SEASON) | KindaTV
  • So May It Be: A Witch Dating Simulator✨ [was] summoned for download on Valentines day 2020.” “✨So May It Be: A Witch Dating Simulator✨ is a weird, magical and nostalgic visual novel. Play as a witch hanging out with your witchy friends, ditch school, contact the dead and fall in love. You can relax with your friends and play some minigames. Decide who you are, who to ask out, what you talk about and what you say. … Created by the Irish coven of witches at Planchette Games”
  • Andrew Weatherall: lone swordsman who cut new shapes for British music. From producing dub symphonies, or DJing ferocious techno, to never losing his insatiable musical curiosity, Weatherall was a truly inspirational figure”
  • My Favourite Painting: Viktor Wynd—”Artist and collector Viktor Wynd chooses a haunting picture by Austin Osman Spare.”
  • Meet a Mysterious Woman and a Marmot in This Exclusive A Peculiar Peril Excerpt, about A Peculiar Peril (The Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead) by Jeff VanderMeer, a YA title due out in July—”Jonathan Lambshead stands to inherit his deceased grandfather’s overstuffed mansion—a veritable cabinet of curiosities—once he and two schoolmates catalog its contents. But the three soon discover that the house is filled with far more than just oddities: It holds clues linking to an alt-Earth called Aurora, where the notorious English occultist Aleister Crowley has stormed back to life on a magic-fueled rampage across a surreal, through-the-looking-glass version of Europe replete with talking animals (and vegetables).”
  • An Oral History of Black Sabbath: The Album That Started Heavy Metal. Fifty years ago, Black Sabbath shook the Earth to its core. Here, in the band’s own words, is the story of its origins, creation and legacy…”—”But the source of Black Sabbath’s awesome power came from a much darker place than the temporal. Instead, the band eschewed the façade of hippy-centric peace and love that dominated the music of their peers, delving into the kind of subject matter that others dared not – fantasy and the occult, taking cues and inspiration from figures like Aleister Crowley, Dennis Wheatley, H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien. It came from the unique magic created when those four musicians played in a room together, each bringing their A-game to the record. It came from something intangible – a true one-of-a-kind moment in time.”
  • Ginger Meyerson, editor of Storylandia, is having an “Open studio, Friday, 21 Feb 2020, from 4-7pm at 2716 N Broadway, #210, 90031. No purchase whatsoever necessary to be welcome.” She’s looking for good homes for all her collages. “Yes, my main goal is to get these collages into good homes, so no reasonable offer will be refused. And whatever sells leaves with the buyer. I’m also happy to ship within in the contiguous United States. And, yes, money is wonderful and always welcome, but I hope no one is confusing me with a money grubbing spore or something. :) So please, one and all, fall by the studio for one of the last chances to see the collages before they go into storage FOREVER.” Also, can be seen on her website.
  • Plotin. Qui es-tu? by Jean-François​ Pradeau, in French. Read a review by John Dillon at Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
  • The Tradition of Hermes Trismegistus: The Egyptian Priestly Figure as a Teacher of Hellenized Wisdom by Christian H. Bull, Religions in the Graeco-Roman World series. Read the review by Korshi Dosoo at Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
  • New Hilaritas Press edition of Ishtar Rising: Why the Goddess Went to Hell and What to Expect Now That She’s Returning by Robert Anton Wilson, with foreword by Grant Morrison. Also.

This post was possible because of support from generous ongoing Patrons and Members of the newsletter. Both Patrons and Members get Omnium Gatherum posts delivered immediately and directly to their email. On the blog, this will be exclusive to Patrons for one year, after which I’ll make it publicly available to everyone so they can see what they’ve been missing.

Audience of One

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America by James Poniewozik.

Poniewozik Audience of One

James Poniewozik was one of the first writers whose columns I actively followed on the Web, back in the 1990s when he wrote for Salon. Since then, I had lost view of his work as he graduated to more prestigious positions at Time magazine and The New York Times. I was happy to return to his punchy prose and incisive observations in this book on the symbiosis between Donald J. Trump and the American media landscape.

Poniewozik treats Trump’s long history as a media figure as central, not incidental, to his electoral identity and success. Trump was coeval with television itself, and neither of them have been unchanging. The author protests that he is not writing a biography of the human being Trump so much as a history of the character generated and inhabited by Trump as a television personality. The larger thesis and structure of the book he eventually sums up thus: Trump “watched TV, and then he courted TV, and then he starred on TV, and then he became TV. He achieved a psychic bond with the creature, and it lowered its head, let him climb on its back, and carried him to the White House” (236). The narrative of this progress through “businessman” celebrity, reality TV hosting, cable news pugilism, and Twitter demagoguery is filled with astonishing anecdotes that tie the whole thing into a single hyperreal composition.

This book is not about policy, and it is about politics only in the broad cultural sense. Alas, no one today can afford not to give a damn about Donald Trump, and that is the measure of his crowning achievement to date. “To live in America post-2016 was to live inside the rattled mind of a septuagenarian insomniac cable-news junkie” (270). Stories of regulatory capture and accelerating ecocide, concentration camps for refugees, egocentric foreign policy, and evisceration of Constitutional norms (beyond the long-abused Bill of Rights) are strangely outside the scope of the present treatment, which–like its subject–sees them mostly as means to an end. That end is an agonistic hypostasis: the “gorilla channel” where every actual problem is just fodder for the virtual conflict that ravenously consumes mass attention.

I recommend Audience of One as a fast, nearly compulsive, read, holding up an unflattering mirror to our reality-TV political culture.

For the Chance of Union

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews For the Chance of Union: Proceedings of the Eleventh Biennial National Ordo Templi Orientis Conference, a selection of papers from the eleventh biennial NOTOCON of the United States Grand Lodge, in Orlando, Florida, 2017.

Ordo Templi Orientis OTO For the Chance of Union

This slender sixth collection of papers presented at the National Conference of OTO USA includes facsimiles of the program materials for the conference and full texts of about a third of the presentations. The ones that are included are a diverse bunch, covering Thelemic culture, occult history, ceremonial ritual, and magical technique, among other topics. There are two papers on Enochian angel magick, one on the editorial history and infrastructure of the Goetia, the Grand Master’s address with reflections on religion and contemporary society, the Deputy Grand Master’s talk on the nature of “success,” Thelemic songs, theory of “magical gender,” and a review of the Crusades relative to Thelemic chivalry. The quality of content here is on a par with previous years, even if this volume has a lower page-count than average.

Omnium Gatherum: 11feb2020

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for Feb 11, 2020

Here’s some things I’ve found that you may be interested in checking out:

This post was possible because of support from generous ongoing Patrons and Members of the newsletter. Both Patrons and Members get Omnium Gatherum posts delivered immediately and directly to their email. On the blog, this will be exclusive to Patrons for one year, after which I’ll make it publicly available to everyone so they can see what they’ve been missing.

Delirium’s Mistress

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Delirium’s Mistress by Tanith Lee.

Lee Delirium's Mistress

I am not the only one to have remarked the Arabian Nights quality to the nested and proliferating stories in Tanith Lee’s Flat Earth books. But by this fourth volume, the use of biblical tropes seems to have increased to the point where they help to inform the content as much as Scheherazade does the style. Always subverted in the amoral otherworldly context of Lee’s fantasy, incidents in Delerium’s Mistress include her versions of the destruction of the Cities of the Plain (i.e. Sodom and Gomorrah) and the tempting of Jesus in the wilderness, among others.

Earlier books in this series have not lacked for sexiness, but wow. The coition of the undersea prince Tavir with the witch goddess Azhriaz is quite a textual achievement (281-3). This book also plays up the cosmic in impressive sequences like the creation of the three avenging angels (207-12). On the whole, it is the least capable of standing alone among the books of its series, being especially dependent on the events of Delusion’s Master and also often referencing the other two prior volumes. In fact, it knits together the various threads of previous stories so well, that I wonder if Lee can have had this book, centered on the half-mortal daughter of one of the Lords of Darkness, as a planned destination all along.

My suspicions in this regard are also informed by the strong resonance of Delerium’s Mistress with Lee’s first-published novel for adults, The Birthgrave. There is a shared scale and narrative sensibility, and the parallel roles of the protagonist seem to run in a reversed sequence. The philosophical outcomes are much the same, although a significant maturation of perspective is also present in this later book.

In addition to the attractive and appropriate cover art from Michael Whelan, this original paperback edition includes a handful of interior illustrations by Lee herself.

The Investigators of Arkham Horror

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Investigators of Arkham Horror: Tales of Adventure and Madness by Katrina Ostrander.

Ostrander The Investigators of Arkham Horror

I have argued (unsuccessfully, via a database submission at BoardGameGeek) that this book should be considered a game accessory. As a collection of weird fiction, it is passable at best. But as a “bootstrapping” instrument to orient players to their characters in the Arkham Files games, it is excellent. Each investigator has a vignette, typically four or five pages in length, to supply them with psychological orientation and biographical details. The book is huge, full of art reproduced from the games at a more generous scale on glossy paper, with a sewn binding to keep the thing together. (It’s so heavy that glue binding would surely break in short order.) The cover art is beautiful, but there’s no dust jacket.

Maybe you wouldn’t bother to read four pages of character background for an evening’s play of Elder Sign or Eldritch Horror. But for the multi-session campaign play of Arkham Horror: The Card Game (which requires out-of-play time for deck construction anyhow), the sort of extra consideration given here to individual investigators is terrific.

This book is obviously intended to provide the framework for a narrative canon, and several of the episodes here have provided points of departure for the subsequent novellas. I was especially gratified by some of the stories for investigators who have had little exposure in other Arkham Files fiction, such as Minh Thi Phan and William Yorick. I think my favorite story for the story’s sake out of the dozens here was the one about the prestidigitator and occultist Dexter Drake.