Author Archives: John Griogair Bell

About John Griogair Bell

My name is John. I'm the enigmatic super villain, known only, to some, as the Librarian.

Century 1969

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 [Amazon, Amazon (Collected), Local Library] by Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill, &al.

Moore O'Neill The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century 1969

The bad and the good of the latest regarding Mina Harker and her peculiar company:

Moore’s alternate history in this book is not compelling (“hippy fascism” in the US?)–I thought that Warren Ellis’ Planetary did a far better job of this sort of thing. Unsurprisingly, as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has progressed through the 20th century, it has come more and more to seem like an inferior version of Planetary, which started out doing for the 20th century what The League originally did for the 19th. 

Moorcock “crossover” homages? They’re not exciting to me the way they would have been when I was a teenager. Modeling the villain on Aleister Crowley — as was set up in 1910? Meh. Professed Magus Moore either proves that he has no idea what a moonchild is (and has never bothered to read Crowley’s novel of that name), or he’s gratuitously throwing dust in the eyes of the profane. 

There were lots of fun little in-jokes; the incorporation of Rosemary’s Baby into the plotline was a nice touch. I couldn’t help feeling that I was missing dozens of cameos in O’Neill’s crowded panels. 

The art in the psychedelic sequences is great! I also thought that Moore’s rewrite of “Sympathy for the Devil” was just splendid.

Listen, you! We expect nothing from you…we have burnt our hope as far as you are concerned…we want to speak to the ones who are prepared to stop eating their food. Misery is your food… scum-filth party politics is your food…when will you look down and see what is on the end of your fork – the naked lunch? We give up, you little people, your tenacity, your insistence on little wretched miseries amazes us. Stop reading this now. Because it is highly unlikely that you are one of those able to understand us.


Hermetic quote TOPY Blood stop reading this little wretched miseries highly unlikely you are one able to understand

Briefing for a Descent Into Hell

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Briefing for a Descent Into Hell [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Doris Lessing.

Lessing Briefing for a Descent into Hell

This novel is beautifully written. I felt like it was very demanding of my attention, because although styles and speakers vary in the course of the text, there are no full page-stop chapter breaks. In the absence of dialogue, paragraphs tend to run for multiple pages, and the prose (sometimes breaking into poetry or incantation) has an insistent restlessness in keeping with its subject matter–especially in the first half, where a narcotized sleep is an ambivalent power for desired healing or feared imprisonment.

“I never learned to live awake. I was trained for sleep. Oh let me sleep and sleep my life away. And if the pressure of true memory wakes me before I need, if the urgency of what I should be doing stabs into my sleep, then for God’s sake doctor, for goodness sake, give me drugs and put me back to dreaming again.” (139)

This waking/sleep dialectic is one of the features that insinuates a mystical subtext throughout. Others include the intimation of people destined for companionship, the foreboding of illusion in consensual phenomena, and reflections on the urge to engender praeterhumanity in our children.

There are many different levels of storytelling involved, of which the outermost is a set of clinical notes and correspondence surrounding the hospitalization of a man with what seems to be traumatic amnesia. Within that setting are conversations, and within those are dreams and memories. In one dream an entire governance of the solar system is set forth as background to the protagonist’s sense of dislocation and urgency. In an unreliable memory, guerrilla warfare becomes the setting for a tragic encounter with idyllic nature.

Others have noted that this is a book worth re-reading, and I’m inclined to agree.

This Is Not An Hermetic Library Anthology Album -3

This Is Not An Hermetic Library Anthology Album -3 is a special alternative release in 2021 just for Patrons and Subscribers of Hermetic Library. This playlist has 10 tracks by 9 artists, with both old and new voices to the project this year, which is the diamond 10th year for anthologies, and the silver 25th year of Hermetic Library!

This Is Not An Hermetic Library Anthology Album -3 Subscriber and Patron exclusive by Hermetic Library in 2021

Please join the Hermetic Library in promoting these artists who have contributed their work to this benefit anthology album project. Please also spread the word about these anthology albums to people you think may be interested in the work of artists who combine magick, music and ritual.

Be sure to also check out the entire Hermetic Library Anthology project, all the previous releases; and consider becoming a Patron or Subscriber to pick up the digital download of this album and help support the work of the library!

The full tracklist for this exclusive consists of 10 tracks by 9 artists:

  1. Raava – Hagazussa 05:30
  2. Blasting Rod – Wheel Upon the Car of Dragonaut [Yukito Okazaki Re-Mix] 04:49
  3. Children of Osiris – Poiel 05:18
  4. Brian Redfern – Sufi Taksim 05:24
  5. Choronzon – Great Edifices Dissolved Like Dream Images 19:13
  6. Hairs Abyss – Aesthetic 06:45
  7. Choronzon – Flesh Whirling 04:37
  8. David Hunger – Swarm 11:09
  9. Black Lesbian Fishermen – Asteria 08:00
  10. Steven Brent – Trance, Dance, and Breathwork 30:13

For 2021, in addition to Magick, Music and Ritual 16, due in December, I am releasing this Patron and Subscriber exclusive issue. I asked each participant in the regular anthology issue to also submit something for this this additional release. So with extra gratitude their way, those who were kind enough to submit additional material, here is this special new issue exclusive to Subscribers on Bandcamp and Patrons on Patreon. This, then, is a thank you gift just for those who offer their ongoing support for the library and my work as the librarian, from both myself and these artists.

One more thing: In a new twist, instead of being in no particular order, this is an actual intentional playlist. Furthermore, this playlist is intended to join with Magick, Music and Ritual 16 to form an even larger sequence. However just to make things strange, though this playlist releases prior to MMR16 in 2021, I recommend adding this album after this year’s canonical anthology in the overall order. But, you do you!

To both participants and supporters, I say happy and hearty Thanksgiving day, and, moreover, thank you, thank you, thank you!

The Hermetic Library at has an overall vision of Archiving, Engaging and Encouraging the living Esoteric Tradition, Hermeticism, Aleister Crowley’s Thelema, and more, through Open Access Occultism for over 25 years.

I started the benefit anthology project to help promote newer works in the Esoteric Tradition to the audience of the Hermetic Library and beyond. The anthology project also further raises awareness about the corpus and culture of magick and ritual. The site itself was started in 1996 and has ever since consistently been an extremely popular resource for students and researchers interested in the Esoteric Tradition. I encourage you to check out Hermetic Library and everything in the collection there, if you aren’t already familiar with it, as that’s the reason this project exists and may also offer inspiration to you.

Hermetic Library
Anthology Project
Become a Patron
Become a Subscriber

Production and Design by John Griogair Bell

All songs used with permission. All rights reserved.



2021年のHermetic Library Label(神秘主義図書館レーベル)発コンピレーション「This Is Not An Hermetic Library Anthology Album」vol. 3全10曲入コンピはHermetic Libraryのバンドキャンプを定期購読している人(、Hermetic Libraryのパトロン・メンバー(専用となっています。マニアックな神秘主義の趣味でなければ、バンドキャンプはお勧めです。パトロン・メンバーは色々な神秘主義からの出版の知らせや感想文、以前のコンピなどもメンバーになるための寄付する金額を選ぶことができます。

Hermetic Libraryのバンドキャンプ定期購読料は一年契約は米$12(約1,300円、Bandcampアカウント作成必須)。契約は途中解約することができます。ダウンロードでもバンドキャンプ・アプリでストリーミングでも聴ける音源です。ダウンロードの場合、ファイルの種類を選ぶことができます。(mp3, wav, flac,など)そして、以前の定期購読専用コンピもダウンロードも可能です。契約期間は自動的に以降の定期購読コンピも手に入れることができます。(年1回のリリース) 自分の知らない音源を聴けるチャンスです!

Surya Namaskars

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Surya Namaskārs: An Ancient Indian Exercise [Amazon, Local Library] by Apa Pant.

Pant Surya Namaskārs

I was delighted to find what seemed to be a little 75-page book completely on the topic of yogic sun salutations, especially at a time when I was reinvigorating my own practice of solar meditation. Unfortunately, the real surya namaskars section is only the third chapter out of seven: the rest are philosophical and practical orientation to yoga in general. But there is no question that author Pant sees sun salutation as the keystone of his personal practice, one with benefits that he extols at length. In fact much of the book seems taken up with the recital of such benefits: it emphasizes the why of yoga practice at least as much as the how

In the surya namaskars chapter itself, ten of the thirty pages are fully occupied by photos of the postures that are components of the practice, and the accompanying text descriptions did not vary from what I had been taught in various yoga classes. What was novel to me was the emphasis on mantra as “an integral and important part of the practice.” (22) Pant gives a dozen compound mantras constructed out of pranavabija, and solar appellations, e.g. Aum Hroom Suryaya Namah. Each mantra is to be repeated ten times (once before each posture) in the course of a cycle of surya namaskars. It is not clear to me, though, how to square this instruction with the breathing pattern prescribed for the postures, which gives a half-cycle of breath (either inhalation or exhalation) for each of the positions.

The cover illustration shows diagrams of the six unique postures of surya namaskars, since four of the ten are duplicates of the others. But they are arranged in a circle, which requires the repetitions if it is to illustrate the real cycle of the practice, showing how it returns to the starting position. The parts of the book I liked best were the introduction with its heliolatrous philosophy and autobiography, the final chapter with anecdotes on “Some Aspects of the Supernatural,” and the appendix with a letter on meditation. The whole makes a decent primer on yoga.

O! hear me not! I die;
I am borne away in misery of dumb life
That would in words flash forth the holiest heaven
That to the immortal God of Gods is given,
And, tongue-tied, stammers forth – my wife!

Aleister Crowley, Rosa Mundi

Hermetic quote Crowley Rosa Mundi die borne misery dumb life words holiest heaven immortal god gods tongue tied stammers wife