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.

The Hermetic Library Anthology Album – Magic, Music and Ritual 14

Magick, Music and Ritual 14, the one and only album in 2018, from the Hermetic Library Anthology project is now released for immediate digital download.

Magick Music and Ritual 14 The Hermetic Library Anthology Album 2018


Please join the Hermetic Library in thanking and promoting these artists who have contributed their work to this benefit anthology album project by picking up this release. Please also spread the word 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 picking up the digital download of this album and any other that strikes your fancy to help support the work of the library!



The full tracklist for the 2018 anthology album consists of 11 tracks by 9 artists:

  1. Chris Stibrany – Harpy 05:05
  2. Firmament – Bilateral 05:36
  3. Ace of Space – Melody for Erin 02:54
  4. Iterum Nata – The Principle of Rhythm 04:43
  5. Ace of Space – Moving Targets 02:31
  6. Robert Furtkamp – Invoke Me Under My Stars for the Darkness Shines 06:23
  7. Shams93 – The Revealing 02:49
  8. Children of Osiris – Parasiel 04:34
  9. Robert Furtkamp – Twin Pillars Crumble and Shake 06:07
  10. Chris Stibrany – The Witch House and the Reverberate Abyss 03:13
  11. Jesús A Vergara – Corpo Elipsis 39:54


Magick, Music and Ritual 14, the one and only album release for 2018 from the Anthology Project, is being released for the anniversary of the December 3, 1996 birthday of the Hermetic Library, with a playlist of 11 tracks by 8 artists, new and returning voices, for this Hermetic Library Anthology Album.

Our cover and alternate includes artwork by Luciana Lupe Vasconcelos for this current year in the Thelemic Calendar, An V:iv (2018 e.v.), which represents the docosade of Atu V, the Hierophant and the year of the Atu IV, The Emperor.

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.

The best way to add this anthology, as well as previous releases and future Hermetic Library albums, to your personal music collection is through the Patron campaign at Patreon. New Patrons receive a gratis download code for a previous anthology release of their choice in addition to all the other patronage rewards they may receive. Further, active Patrons also receive an additional gratis download code for every new release as they become available. Patrons as of this release will have had the opportunity to receive at least two full anthology albums from the collection, and more in the future, as well as helping to support the Anthology Project and the work of the library. Consider becoming a Patron today!

The release of a new anthology album is one of the highlights of my year, and always feels like opening a gift for the holidays after all the hard work for all the prior months. Only, this is a gift that I get to share with everyone, and everyone gets to open!

The Hermetic Library at has an overall vision of Archiving, Engaging and Encouraging the living Western Esoteric Tradition. I started the benefit anthology project to help promote newer works in the Western 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 Western 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

Production by John Griogair Bell
Cover and alternate artwork by Luciana Lupe Vasconcelos

All songs used with permission. All rights reserved.

Omnium Gatherum: December 1, 2018

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for December 1, 2018

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

  • The App That Reminds You You’re Going to Die. It helped me find inner peace.” — Bianca Bosker, The Atlantic [HT Andrew Chesnut]

    “Five times a day for the past three months, an app called WeCroak has been telling me I’m going to die. It does not mince words. It surprises me at unpredictable intervals, always with the same blunt message: “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.””

  • The Temple Peyton. Special Temple of Witchcraft Limited Edition Fundraiser.

    Temple of Witchcraft The Temple Payton

    Temple of Witchcraft The Temple Payton reverse

    “Orders are due no later than June 1, 2019, and the finished peytons are expected to ship in August 2019. All profits from this fundraiser go to the Temple’s Community Center Building Fund.”

  • Portable Communion Bread & Red Wine Capsules from God’s Pills

    Gods Pill's communion bread

    Gods Pills communion wine


  • Weʼre raising £3,000 to complete the building of the Temple of the Gods in Bulgaria (incl. the Goddess Hekate & Pagan God Dionysos)” — Sorita d’Este

    “A unique and very special historical temple is being created in Bulgaria, within driving distance from Plovdiv by a group of people who have dedicated themselves to the worship, and the revival of the worship of the old Gods. In particular the Goddess Hekate and the God Dionysos, with their close association with the ancient Mysteries of Thrace, Ancient Greece and Rome will be celebrated and worshiped in this space – alongside a pantheon of other deities and spirits. The Temple will be a consecrated space which will be managed by the groups’ priesthood, which includes historians.”

  • Tarot earrings by Blue Beehive Studio [HT Quadrivium Supplies]

    Blue Beehive Studio The Magician tarot earrings

    Blue Beehive Studio The Tower tarot earrings

  • New paperback edition of A Rose Veiled in Black: Art and Arcana of Our Lady Babalon, edited by Robert Fitzgerald and Daniel Schulke, with new cover, upcoming from Three Hands Press

    “The Lady Babalon is one of the more enigmatic figures in the Cult of Thelema. She is a manifold deity in the sense that She is a divine harlot, an initiatrix, a creator and a destroyer. In representative form, the letters of Her name encompass an heptogrammic star; yet She lies beyond mere representation, and Her star signifies only the powers of Her train and not the station of Her immanence. She is the unsignified, a cipher conveying manifestation, and yet the veritable seal of the invisible Order of Illuminated Adepts. In Her subtle and etheric anatomy flows the life-blood of the Saints – the All-Living – and in this is Her deepest mystery, for, as it is written, in the Gospels, and in Aleister Crowley’s Liber 418, ‘The Blood is the Life.”

    A Rose Veiled in Black is the second volume in Three Hands Press’ ‘Western Esotericism in Context’ Series which began with Hands of Apostasy. The book is a potent gathering of twelve essays and rituals of Babalon by scholars, practitioners, and allies of Thelema, dedicated wholly unto the manifest contemplation of Her Mystery. Exploring occult themes of sacrifice, magical liberation, prophecy, witchcraft, and abomination, it marks a watershed publication for the discourse on this important and previously neglected aspect of Thelemic Studies. The written works are enhanced by an offering of original and visionary art from contemporary practitioners, each exploring Her magical arcana from a ritually embodied perspective.”

  • Unlock the secrets of the Freemasons — or at least gawk at their strange costumes — in this Alexandria museum” — Sadie Dingfelder, Washington Post

    Sadie Dingfelder Washington Post Unlock the secrets of the Freemasons

    “‘Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry?’ That question was on my mind even before I saw a book with that title lying open on a table at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. This lesser-known monument to Washington and museum of Freemason history is a modest tower in Alexandria — only 333 feet tall compared with the Washington Monument’s 555. It’s not that old — ground was broken for it in 1922 and it wasn’t completed until the 1970s — and, unlike D.C.’s many free attractions, the Masonic memorial costs $15 to visit, so I wasn’t surprised that I was the only person on the 9:30 a.m. tour one recent Monday.”

  • How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius by Donald Robertson, due April 2019 from St. Martin’s Press

    Robertson How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

    “The life-changing principles of Stoicism taught through the story of its most famous proponent.

    Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, cognitive psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius together seamlessly to provide a compelling modern-day guide to the Stoic wisdom followed by countless individuals throughout the centuries as a path to achieving greater fulfillment and emotional resilience.

    How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes readers on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian―taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day―through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides readers through applying the same methods to their own lives.

    Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.”

  • The A-Z of Believing: O is for Occult. Is the occult just religion without rules? Ed Kessler, head of the Woolf Institute, presents the 15th part in a series on belief and scepticism.” — Ed Kessler, Independent UK; behind a paywall

    “One should not believe in superstitions, but it is best to be heedful of them – Sefer Hasdim

    Look round any bookshop and the section on the occult is likely to be next to, or close by, the section on religion. Counting the books alone (and I confess to have been an avid reader of the Denis Wheatley Black Magic thrillers) confirms the popularity of the occult. The word is derived from the Latin word occultus, which means “hidden”. Both religion and the occult seek to make clear what is hidden to those who are not practitioners or believers.”

  • Astrology as Art: Representation and Practice, edited by Nicholas Campion and Jennifer Zahrt, released in November from Sophia Centre Press

    Campion Zahrt Astrology As Art

    “Is astrology an art? How does art represent astrology and its practice? Is the visual language used by astrologers artistic? From Mesopotamia and Mediterranean culture to Mesoamerica and into the European Renaissance and the modern era, the nine chapters in this anthology explore the meanings of art and astrology, the iconography of astrology and the nature of its practice, the use of zodiac signs, and the portrayal stars and planets in literature and the visual arts. With contributions by Spike Bucklow, Ruth Clydesdale, Richard Dunn, Martin Gansten, Liesbeth Grotenhuis, John Meeks, Suzanne Nolan, Micah Ross, and Claudia Rousseau.”

  • Satanic Settlement Reached in ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ Statue Suit. The dispute over the goat deity Baphomet, shown prominently at Sabrina Spellman’s school in the Netflix series, has been resolved.” — Ashley Cullins, Hollywood Reporter

    “The Satanic Temple is pleased to announce that the lawsuit it recently filed against Warner Bros. and Netflix has been amicably settled. The unique elements of the Satanic Temple’s Baphomet statue will be acknowledged in the credits of episodes which have already been filmed. The remaining terms of the settlement are subject to a confidentiality agreement.”

  • Letters, Dreams, and Other Writings by Remedios Varo, translated and introduced by Margaret Carson, released November from Wakefield Press [HT Pam Grossman]

    Varo Carson Letters Dreams and Other Writings

    “While the reputation of Remedios Varo (1908–63) the surrealist painter is now well established, Remedios Varo the writer has yet to be fully discovered. Her writings, which were never published during her life let alone translated into English, present something of a missing chapter and offer the same qualities to be found in her visual work: an engagement with mysticism and magic, a breakdown of the border between the everyday and the marvelous, a love of mischief and an ongoing meditation on the need for (and the trauma of) escape in all its forms.

    This volume brings together the painter’s collected writings and includes an unpublished interview, letters to friends and acquaintances (as well as to people unknown), dream accounts, notes for unrealized projects, a project for a theater piece, whimsical recipes for controlled dreaming, exercises in surrealist automatic writing and prose poem commentaries on her paintings. It also includes her longest manuscript, the pseudoscientific, De Homo Rodans, an absurdist study of the wheeled predecessor to Homo sapiens (the skeleton of which Varo had built out of chicken bones). Ostensibly written by the invented anthropologist Hälikcio von Fuhrängschmidt, Varo’s text utilizes eccentric Latin and a tongue-in-cheek pompous discourse to explain the origins of the first umbrella and in what ways Myths are merely corrupted Myrtles.”

  • The Ultimate Rocket Scientist who went Mad with Sex and the Occult” — Ian Harvey, The Vintage News

    “It’s well-known that exceptionally gifted people are often a little unusual. Our pop culture is full of such individuals, and historically Van Gogh, Picasso, and Nikolai Tesla are all prime examples of people who were utterly brilliant, but also saw the world in a very different light than the rest of us. Another example of this phenomenon is Jack Parsons.”

  • US ‘missionary’ shot dead with arrows by remote tribe ‘believed it was his calling from God to convert them to Christianity’. John Allen Chau had reportedly visited the prohibited North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean to preach Christianity to the tribe.” — Guy Birchall, The Sun

    “AN American tourist killed by a tribe on a remote Indian island felt he was called by God to bring the gospel to the uncontacted people.

    North Sentinel Island is off-bounds to visitors and home to the Sentinelese, who killed John Allen Chau after he was illegally ferried there by fishermen, officials said.”

  • Middle East Looters Turn to Spirit Possession to Find Gold Treasure” — Owen Jarus, Live Science [HT Matt Staggs]

    “As “antique” gold coins from the Middle East pour into the United States, some looters are turning to spirits called “jinn” in their hunt for gold treasure. A few gold seekers even go so far as to try to get the jinn to possess them in hopes that the spirits will guide them to that hidden jackpot.

    However, research by archaeologists and an investigation conducted by Live Science suggest that rarely, if ever, does using the jinn help looters find gold artifacts. Rather, metal detectors and mass excavation of archaeological sites seem to be the most effective ways of looting treasure.”

  • Secret ‘Catacombs Pact’ emerges after 50 years, and Francis gives it new life” — David Gibson, Religion News Service

    “The signatories vowed to renounce personal possessions, fancy vestments and “names and titles that express prominence and power,” and they said they would make advocating for the poor and powerless the focus of their ministry.

    In all this, they said, “we will seek collaborators in ministry so that we can be animators according to the Spirit rather than dominators according to the world; we will try to make ourselves as humanly present and welcoming as possible; and we will show ourselves to be open to all, no matter what their beliefs.”

    The document would become known as the Pact of the Catacombs, and the signers hoped it would mark a turning point in church history.

    Instead, the Pact of the Catacombs disappeared, for all intents and purposes.”

The Centauri Device

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Centauri Device [also] by M John Harrison.

Harrison The Centauri Device

Harrison The Centauri Device SF Masterworks

The jacket copy on the back of this book begins “Bastard son of a port whore …,” and gives an impression of this book’s contents that is unusually accurate among 1970s SF paperbacks. Its setting is a twenty-fourth century in which an interstellar cold war is heating up, and the rival superpowers are both terrestrially-based: the Israeli World Government and the Union of Arabic Socialist Republics. Protagonist John Truck is an alienated loser, who the reader soon finds out is also descended from an alien survivor of human-perpetrated genocide. The “device” of the title is an enigmatic find from the ruined Centauran homeworld, which the agents of the competing powers each think will give them the edge. Other players in the game where Truck seems to be a pawn include a cabal of space anarchists led by a aesthete, an interstellar drug business and its kingpin, and the evangelical cult of the Openers, who have windows surgically installed to reveal their innards.

Although Harrison seems not to be especially proud of this early effort, saying it was from before he “learned to write,” it still stands out as bucking the trends of space opera in interesting ways. The antihero John Truck is not too unusual in the new wave science fiction set that Harrison participated in. I enjoyed the surprising passel of Swinburne references, especially to Atalanta in Calydon, along with allusions to Huysmanns and other decadents. Admittedly, most of what Harrison does well in this book, he does again far better in the more recent Kefahuchi Tract novels.

The Theatre of the Occult Revival

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Theatre of the Occult Revival: Alternative Spiritual Performance from 1875 to the Present by Edmund Lingan, part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History series.

Lingan The Theatre of the Occult Revival

Edmund Lingan’s scholarly monograph on The Theatre of the Occult Revival treats a worthwhile topic. The specific case studies which account for the bulk of the book concern the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society headed by Katherine Tingley, the Anthroposophical Society of Rudolf and Marie Steiner, Aleister Crowley’s Thelema, the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship of Alex Mathews, and Gerald Gardner’s witchcraft. A final chapter also explores the theatrical aspects of more recent neopagan and occultist scenes.

The author uses a contemporary academic framework for his understanding of “the Occult Revival,” crediting Faivre and Hanegraaff for much of his information on Western esotericism, and Hutton and Barker for Wicca and neopagan movements. He has also done a lot of valuable archival research on the subtopics with which I was least familiar, such as Tingley’s theatre and the ROCF. In addition, he took the praiseworthy step of “field research” interviewing contemporary participants and auditing performances in the persisting occultist milieus of Anthroposophy, Thelema, and Wicca.

Lingan emphasizes and reiterates throughout the book that the founders and societies of occultism have had an important orientation to theater as a modality for religious expression, instruction, and integration with the larger exoteric culture. He does not enter in to the question of whether this makes them more or less like other, more well-known religious bodies and traditions. He does a reasonable job of distinguishing the spectrum from ritualistic theater–for which his paradigm is furnished by Symbolists like Maeterlinck–to theatrical ritual produced by occultists. But he is fuzzier regarding any possible boundary between theatrical composition and religious liturgy, an issue that might have been brought into greater relief if he had used traditional Christianity as a comparandum.

Despite the inherent interest of the material, the prose style of the book is not especially engaging. It is useful for someone who has an existing curiosity trained on one aspect or another of its subject matter, but it is unlikely to serve to cultivate such interest. I found this book well worth my time, but I would only recommend it to others who share the intensity of my research focus touching on its contents.

Summary for the week ending Nov 25th, 2018

Here’s a summary of activity for the week ending November 25th, 2018.

My new computer arrived. And, then I spent the next several days getting it set up. That ended up involving two OS re-installs, two backup restores, and a memory upgrade install that had to be uninstalled and that I need to RMA. Seriously, folks, Murphy is my co-pilot. But, I am, actually, for real, currently using my new desktop. After months, I’m back up, running, and starting to catching up!

Still working on the upcoming anthology, which releases in a few weeks. I’ve been listening to the current playlist, and I’ve not made any new changes the last couple listens! I’ve also got a cover and an alternate ready to go. I still need to draft up the artist profiles and all that, for Bandcamp, blog, and the library site itself. But, things are progressing steadily. Though I feel crunched for time, I’m pretty sure everything will be sorted for release as planned.

With the arrival of the computer, and everything I’ve had to do to get it up and running; and, a winter storm blizzarding through the state, I’ve not gotten the next Postal Exchange to the Post Office yet. I’m going to try to get that out this week, but it might not happen until next week.

Still looking for help and others to join me in a working community around the library, of course.

Lots of new pages and work on old pages on the site, which is pretty much every week, really. You can always check the front page of the site which shows the most recent changes and new pages, or check out the Recent Changes special page for a full list.

Want to join me on this blog and create new art or writing for Hermetic Library? Pitch your Idea.

Help get some conversations started over on the BBS and Chat.

Be sure to check out the actual Hermetic Library, and drop a buck in the tip jar or become a Patron.

Consider also checking out what I’m up to on my personal blog and at Odd Order.

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from this last week

Some popular stuff on social media

The Thoth Tarot, Astrology, & Other Selected Writings

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Thoth Tarot, Astrology, & Other Selected Writings by Phyllis Seckler, edited by David Shoemaker, Gregory Peters, and Rorac Johnson.

Seckler Shoemaker Peters Johnson The Thoth Tarot Astrology and Other Selected Writings

This beautifully bound book is obviously intended to enshrine the work of Thelemic initiate Phyllis Seckler as an occultist legacy. It is issued by the College of Thelema of Northern California, a successor organization to the school that she organized herself, and thus also serves to bolster their own pedigree.

The two treatises on the Thoth Tarot in this volume were each previously serialized in the College of Thelema journal In the Continuum. The first, on “The Thoth Tarot and Psychology,” is very much a matter of Jungian analytic psychology, uninformed even by other aspects of the psychoanalytic tradition, let alone more diverse modern schools of psychology. It takes the surprising but therefore illuminating approach of treating the Trumps in ascending numerical sequence, i.e. the qabalistic path of creation rather than initiation, in order to chart something like a developmental narrative. Seckler has made thorough visual contemplation of the cards, and calls out details I had never observed, although she also makes errors (such as taking the pelican in the Empress card for a swan). She occasionally presumes to explain quotes or passages from The Book of the Law, and these explanations are sadly not very inspired.

The second section, on “The Thoth Tarot and Astrology,” includes some useful charts synthesizing tarot and astrology according to Crowley’s development of the Golden Dawn hermetic doctrines. There is general guidance on astrology that is very much at a primer level. The main body of this text is a full survey of the sun signs, with the zodiacal symbolism illustrated through the trumps and court cards of the Thoth Tarot. It is entirely restricted to the most pedestrian sort of characterological astrology, and I found it an unenlightening chore to read. It has no satisfying summation or synthesis; it merely rehearses details through twelve signs and then stops.

The third section of the book is a collection of correspondence. The editors evidently had a much larger archive at their disposal, and the principles guiding their selection here are not made clear, nor is the sequencing of the letters, which is not reliably chronological. The antagonistic character of some of these letters don’t seem to reflect all that well on Seckler, but I am grateful to have access to them for the light they shed on the history of OTO and Thelemic magick in the twentieth century.

At the end there is a longish interview with “SM” (Soror Meral, i.e. Seckler) from the year 2000. It has some worthwhile autobiographical reflections from Seckler, but entirely too much chattering on from the interviewer regarding her own views of OTO and then-contemporary occultism. This interview is supposedly the last one recorded with Seckler, and there are moments where the full significance of her remarks seems to depend on tone and attitude that the transcript fails to communicate.