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 ceremony took place in the tabernacle, upon a wooden stage with a background painted to look like drapery. Strang sat upon a throne made of wood, covered in cloth and stuffed with moss. He held a wooden scepter and wore a bright red robe trimmed with white, perhaps looking a bit like Santa Claus. An entourage of men with various church titles surrounded him, like dukes, earls, and barons at a court.

John J Miller, The Polygamist King: A True Story of Murder, Lust, and Exotic Faith in America

Hermetic quote Miller Polygamist titles

Faith of Tarot

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Faith of Tarot by Piers Anthony.

Anthony Faith of Tarot

This final volume of Piers Anthony’s science-fantasy adventure Tarot overtly ties it in to his “Cluster” novels (which I haven’t read). It supplies a fanciful historical origin for the tarot among the Waldensian heretics of the fourteenth century, as foreshadowed at the start of the first book. In this multi-chapter medieval passage, there is even a feint at the Sacred Magic of Abramelin, as the hero Brother Paul meets Abraham of Worms. But the augoeides doctrine does not appear in Anthony’s work, despite the persistence of “Love Is the Law, Love under Will” (sic, with impertinent capitals).

The solution of the “God of Tarot” conundrum comes three chapters before the end, leaving a long unwinding denouement to address the fates of the various characters. By the time the revelation arrives, it’s not much of a surprise, but I won’t spoiler it here. The further explication of various psycho-sexual motives (particularly for the Crowley-derived character Therion) were not terribly convincing, and the final resolution was perhaps too tidy.

I’m satisfied to have finally read these books, and I can recommend them for light entertainment. But they seem to pretend to a profundity that I think they lack. Each chapter is headed by a long epigraph, and these often set a tone of sage contemplation. There are metatextual references to medieval dream-visions and the chapter sequence is keyed to the tarot trumps. Perhaps it would be an effective “gateway” work for readers with no prior education in occultism, but its take on esoteric materials is very idiosyncratic and supports its own fiction better than it would any factual efforts. As evidence, the “Animation Tarot” variant (with its hundred-card deck of thirty trumps and five small suits) appears never to have been executed or published in the decades since these books were written.

The Golden Dawn Source Book

A review of The Golden Dawn Source Book with introduction and foreword by Darcy Küntz, preface by R A Gilbert, with articles by Gerald Suster, R T Prinke, Ellic Howe, and Richard Kaczynski, part of the Golden Dawn Studies series; from Caduceus, Vol II No 4.

Küntz Gilbert The Golden Dawn Source Book

For all that the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is far and away the most famous of modern magical lodges, the basic documents concerning its history have not been easy to come by, except for those with personal access to the handful of private collections in which the bulk of surviving GD documents reside. While the outlines of the Order’s history have been traced by a number of useful histories, very little of a documentary nature has been available to those who prefer to draw their own conclusions from the evidence.

The appearance of this second volume in Holmes Publishing Group’s Golden Dawn Studies Series suggests that this unfortunate state of affairs will soon be a thing of the past. Like the first volume (reviewed in Caduceus’ Spring 1996 issue), which provided and translated the original Golden Dawn cipher manuscripts The Golden Dawn Source Book is likely to become an essential starting point for all further work on the subject.

The Golden Dawn Source Book has for its focus the origins and development of the Order, and brings together between one set of covers nearly everything that sheds light on this often vexed topic. Included here is the complete “Anna Sprengel” correspondence in its original English translation, relevant entries from W. Wynn Westcott’s diary, a wide selection of letters tracing the Order’s prehistory and history alike, the public letters and articles that announced the GD’s existence to the world, and a collection of published histories of the Order by a range of members.

In addition, the Source Book contains a collection of modern essays on the Order’s early history, including contributions from nearly all sides of the various disputes in which the interpretation of that history seems permanently mired. Notable among these are Ron Heisler’s “Precursors of the Golden Dawn,” a valuable study of earlier Kabbalistic societies in London, as well as several documents from the controversy over Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn including Gerald Suster’s incendiary critique of Howe, “Modern Scholarship and the Origins of the Golden Dawn,” and Howe’s amused response.

Finally, the Source Book concludes with a comprehensive, cross-referenced index of the names and magical mottoes of all known Golden Dawn members from the temples in England, North America and New Zealand, a crucial reference tool that has been attempted several times before with a good deal less success.

Series editor Darcy Küntz should be commended for a valuable and well-presented work. While it has little to appeal to the purely practical magician, the Source Book is a welcome addition to the still-limited library of sources on esoteric history, and students of the Golden Dawn and its antecedents in particular will find it a useful resource.

Omnium Gatherum: April 11, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for April 11, 2019

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

  • Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole. Astronomers at last have captured a picture of one of the most secretive entities in the cosmos.” — Dennis Overbye, The New York Times

    Overbye New York Times supermassive black hole

    “For years, and for all the mounting scientific evidence, black holes have remained marooned in the imaginations of artists and the algorithms of splashy computer models of the kind used in Christopher Nolan’s outer-space epic “Interstellar.” Now they are more real than ever.

    ‘We have seen what we thought was unseeable,’ said Shep Doeleman, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and director of the effort to capture the image, during a Wednesday news conference in Washington, D.C.”

  • Forbidden Archeology of the Divine Feminine” — Otep Shamaya, The Brooklyn Rail

    “My hope is to help eradicate historical amnesia and the phony ethos women are innate subordinates to men by pollinating you with a roaring axiom of gender equality and women’s historical contributions to the advancement of civilization. A difficult endeavor but, hey, it’s what I do.”

  • Anton LaVey – Into the Devil’s Den – documentary. Anton LaVey described by the people who knew and worked with him.” A crowdfunding effort by Carl Abrahamsson

    “My film ANTON LAVEY – INTO THE DEVIL’S DEN is a documentary that gives you exclusive insight into the man detractors called “The Black Pope.” The film contains never before shown interview material with LaVey, private photographs, rare recordings, plus in-depth interviews with Blanche Barton, Peter Gilmore, Peggy Nadramia, Bob Johnson, Kenneth Anger, Michael Moynihan, Mitch Horowitz, Ruth Waytz, Carl Abrahamsson, and more…

    The film is on its way! But we still have a long way to go in the expensive struggle of post-production. This is where you can help out. The film needs more archival material, sound-cleaning and color grading, all of which requires TIME and money. If you support this film, you will not only reap the infernal benefits of association; you will also take part of some amazing “perks.””

  • Roman Emperor Book. Resources and discussion for readers of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.” A free online course by Donald Robertson, in conjunction with his book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.

    Robertson How to Think Like a Roman Emperor audiobook

    “This is a free eLearning course for anyone who’s reading my book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. You’ll obtain access to extra resources here, including downloads, interviews, and quiz questions. You’ll also be able to join in discussions about each chapter with other readers.”

  • Satanic Temple challenges Missouri abortion law” — Jim Salter, Associated Press

    “A member of the Satanic Temple in Missouri is challenging a state law that requires women seeking an abortion to wait three days, saying that it violates the member’s religious freedom.”

  • SanTO, el primer robot católico del mundo que te escucha y selecciona textos religiosos para ti” — Sinembargo [HT Mariana]

    Sinembargo SanTO

    “Aunque muchas personas equiparan tecnología con progreso desde una perspectiva agnóstica o atea , lo cierto es que en la innovación la espiritualidad también tiene cabida, algo que se plasma en diversos proyectos que vinculan religión con IA, robótica, transformación digital o blockchain. Entre otros, te hemos contado que el cepillo de la iglesia anglicana permite pagos móviles, que un robot budista ya predica en un templo nipón o que el Vaticano digitalizó sus secretos empleando machine learning e inteligencia artificial. ¡Si hasta el Papa tiene Twitter!

    Ahora, las personas mayores en busca de un compañero de alta tecnología pueden encontrar consuelo en un pequeño robot que los escucha y les lee las Sagradas Escrituras. Con una apariencia simular a un pequeño altar, está equipado con un software cuyo algoritmo escucha al usuario, escanea su rostro en busca de signos de emociones específicas y selecciona textos religiosos que pueden ser relevantes para sus problemas.

    El autómata teomórfico se llama SanTO -de hecho, es similar a uno- y ha sido diseñado por Gabriele Trovato de la Universidad de Waseda.”

    Although many people equate technology with progress from an agnostic or atheist perspective, the truth is that in innovation, spirituality also has a place, something that is reflected in various projects that link religion with AI, robotics, digital transformation or blockchain. Among others, we have told you that the brush of the Anglican church allows mobile payments, that a Buddhist robot already preaches in a Japanese temple or that the Vatican digitized its secrets using machine learning and artificial intelligence. If even the Pope has Twitter!

    Now, older people looking for a high-tech companion can find comfort in a small robot that listens to them and reads them the Holy Scriptures. With a simulated appearance to a small altar, it is equipped with software whose algorithm listens to the user, scans his face for signs of specific emotions and selects religious texts that may be relevant to his problems.

    The theomorphic automaton is called SanTO – in fact, it is similar to one – and has been designed by Gabriele Trovato of the University of Waseda.

  • Aphantasia: Ex-Pixar chief Ed Catmull says ‘my mind’s eye is blind’” — James Gallagher, BBC News

    “Most people can close their eyes and conjure up images inside their head such as counting sheep or imagining the face of a loved one.

    But Ed Catmull, 74, has the condition aphantasia, in which people cannot visualise mental images at all.

    And in a surprising survey of his former employees, so do some of the world’s best animators.

    Ed revolutionised 3D graphics, and the method he developed for animating curved surfaces became the industry standard.

    He first realised his brain was different when trying to perform Tibetan meditation with a colleague.”

  • How Did Conspiracy Theories Come to Dominate American Culture?. Thomas Milan Konda Untangles Our Obsession Complicated Plots.” — Thomas Milan Konda, LitHub; a reprint from Konda’s Conspiracies of Conspiracies: How Delusions Have Overrun America

    Konda Conspiracy of Conspiracies

    “Americans see hoaxes and plots everywhere: from climate change to immunizations to almost anything having to do with Hillary Clinton. But why? Is the constant stream of conspiracy theories a side effect of social media? Are conspiracy theories a product of the increasing polarization of politics? Or have they always been around and for some reason we just notice them more now?

    We can start to answer the last question: in their modern form, they have been around for at least two hundred years. The United States was less than ten years old when New England religious leaders sounded the alarm about the Illuminati’s plans to destroy the republic. And this was only the beginning.”

  • Why is Amazon Prime using astrology to sell you stuff? Amazon Prime members might have noticed a new horoscope feature that matches one’s zodiac sign with products and services. Is it a joke?” — Rina Raphael, Fast Company

    “In a truly bizarre, capitalist twist on astrology, Amazon Prime’s Insider newsletter is sending monthly shopping horoscopes to its members. The company maps out the best products and Prime benefits by zodiac sign, because obviously, all your spirituality needs align with their inventory.”

  • The New Science of How to Argue—Constructively. Disagreement is central to our lives online. ‘Erisologists’ want to study it more systematically.” — Jesse SIngal, The Atlantic; from the All-Hail-Discordia dept.

    “In the early days of the internet, way back in the 1990s, tech utopians envisioned a glittering digital future in which people from very different backgrounds could come together online and, if not reach consensus, at least learn something from one another. In the actual future we inhabit, things didn’t work out this way. The internet, especially social media, looks less like a dinner party and more like a riot. People talk past one another, and the discussion spirals down accordingly.

    To the Swedish blogger John Nerst, online flame wars like those reveal a fundamental shift in how people debate public issues. Nerst and a nascent movement of other commentators online believe that the dynamics of today’s debates—especially the misunderstandings and bad-faith arguments that lead to the online flame wars—deserve to be studied on their own terms.

    Erisology is the study of disagreement, specifically the study of unsuccessful disagreement. An unsuccessful disagreement is an exchange where people are no closer in understanding at the end than they were at the beginning, meaning the exchange has been mostly about talking past each other and/or hurling insults. A really unsuccessful one is where people actually push each other apart, and this seems disturbingly common.

    The word erisology comes from Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, who proved in antiquity that you could get people into fights by giving them ambiguous messages and letting them interpret them self-servingly and according to their own biases.”

  • Pizzagate, Satanic Panic, and the Power of Conspiracy Theories” — Anna Merlan, Jezebel; a book excerpt from Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power, due out in a few days

    Merlan Republic of Lies

    “These outbreaks of religious hysteria recur so persistently in American life for a reason: they are, like so many conspiracy theories, a response to moments of social change and perceived societal fracture. Satanic Panic allegations first arose during a moment in the 1980s of intense concern over the number of women in the workforce and a subsequent rise in “latchkey kids” and paid caregivers.

    Pizzagate emerged during the 2016 elections, a time when Americans were re-litigating, to an exhausting degree, our beliefs, our vision of America, and our sexual ethics. The paranoid idea of sexual predators hiding in the highest echelons of power was not so paranoid; Pizzagate, though, spun it through a nexus of faux black magic, imagined ritual, and nonsensical accusations that were somehow both unbelievable and yet, for a lot of people, unbelievably powerful.”

You adapted, and you made sacrifices. You did it for your children or for love. You did it because of illness or because of an accident. You did it because you had new dreams

Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex

Hermetic quote Heuvelt Hex dreams

The Western Way

A review of The Western Way: A Practical Guide to the Western Mystery Tradition by Caitlín and John Matthews from Caduceus, Vol II No 4.

Matthews The Western Way

The recent release of both volumes of the Matthews’ The Western Way in an omnibus edition may serve as an opportunity to assess this, one of the few attempts in recent years to survey the entire field of modern Western magic from within. Despite its failings — and, unfortunately, these are severe — it represents a major effort, and a not wholly unsuccessful one; furthermore, it has played an important role in providing a frame of reference within which much of the magical community has located itself. As a historical event if nothing else, it demands some attention from the student of the Western mysteries.

From one perspective, the central thread of The Western Way is a thread of history, and the book can be read on one level as an inner history of magic in the West — meaning, in this case, largely the British Isles. The first volume, The Native Tradition starts in the deeps of prehistory. It envisions primal Western spirituality in terms largely borrowed from Michael Harner’s popularizations of shamanism and from non-native interpretations of Native American tradition, and proceeds to trace a current based on this pattern down through the centuries to the present. The second, The Hermetic Tradition recounts the origins and development of the various systems of scholarly or high magic and mysticism — Hermetic, Cabalistic, Chaldean/astrological, esoteric Christian, and the like from the ancient world to the modern. On this thread, both volumes string a great deal of esoteric philosophy, instruction, imagery and myth, some of it handled with a good deal of insight.

On another level The Western Way can be seen as the most complete single expression of a specific tradition in English occultism, that set in motion and to a great extent typified by the late Dion Fortune. Fortune in many ways moves through-out the book like a resident phantom, rarely mentioned but always present. Those who have read her magical nonfiction will recognize many of The Western Way’s themes and habits of thought at once, from its approach to magic as a way of psychological integration, through its vision of magical history (complete with Atlantean roots), to its specific take on inner-plane Masters, magical lodges, and the other structuring elements of Fortune’s approach to the magical path.

Perhaps the best way to approach this book, though, is to see it as an attempt to construct an origin myth for the magical community as this now exists in English-speaking countries, and particularly in England. Its two volumes correspond quite closely to the two major divisions of that community, the pagan and the Hermetic. The Matthews relate these together by way of a linear evolutionary scheme in which the native tradition corresponds to the transition from tribal to individual consciousness, and the Hermetic path to that from individual to cosmic consciousness. Standing at the midpoint of this journey, the modern magician potentially draws on both traditions, the one to acknowledge his or her roots, the other to face his or her destiny. At one end of the scheme stand the earliest human beings — in the forthrightly mythic language of the book, the “Firstborn of the Foretime” — while at the other end lies an “evolved humanity” which “will perceive its collective responsibility” (p. 24).

In some ways, this is an appealing image, though perhaps more so to Hermeticists; pagans are likely to find that so linear an idea of evolution fits poorly with the cyclical vision of time more central to their own traditions, and may well be irritated at being consigned to the past in this way. Still, to coin a phrase, de mythibus non disputandum: one takes myths (or leaves them) on their own terms, and no mythic pattern will make perfect sense of everyone’s experience.

It’s elsewhere that the broader problems in this work are to be found. I propose to focus on these problems here, rather than on The Western Way’s strengths. This may be unfair, as the work does have substantial virtues, but there’s a broader point to such a focus. The failings of The Western Way are shared by a good deal of magical writing (and, for that matter, thinking) in modern times, and some of the most serious weaknesses in the modern magical community are highlighted with a rare clarity in the flaws of this book.

One of these is a matter of simple scholarly sloppiness. On matters of historical fact, the Matthews (like many other magical writers, of course) are far too often careless. Anyone with more than a smattering of background in ancient history, for example, will be bemused to hear that Alexander the Great’s empire reached west to the Straits of Gibraltar (p. 205), and it takes only a few minutes with a Latin dictionary to find that the initials of W.B. Yeats’ Golden Dawn magical motto Daemon Est Deus Inversus, mean not “dedicated” but rather the far more potent “I have given” (p. 346). There are many other lapses of the same sort. Points like these may seem minor, but in magic as much or more than anywhere else, the devil is in the details; additionally, a mythic structure that claims to be founded on history ought to try a little harder to get its history right.

But the crippling flaws in this work rise out of another source: the same sort of dogmatic syncretism that typifies Dion Fortune’s writings, among many others, and has caused so much confusion in current pagan revivalism and elsewhere in the modern magical community. Fortune’s dictum “All the gods are one God and all the goddesses one Goddess, and there is one Initiator” is the classic expression of this approach. While this statement is partially true, and important as a partial truth, taken on its own it leads to a very specific form of arrogance and a characteristic blindness to the wild freedom of the spiritual.

A passage in The Western Way very neatly echoes this attitude and its flaws:

”No matter what your own background may be or what country you may hail from, you will recognize the type of the Gods: Thunderer, Shiner, Watcher over the Land. The lord or the lady of the moon is known in all lands, as are the gods of river and tree and stone” (p.75).

Now this assumption, common as it is, simply isn’t true. People in the modern Western world tend to encounter pagan beliefs first, in childhood, in the form of well-defined pantheons like those of the Greeks and the Norse, and then too often try to force the much stranger and more elusive systems of other peoples into the same Procrustean bed. Half the confusion surrounding ancient Celtic spirituality, to name only one example, comes from attempts to manhandle the fluid spiritual powers of the highly diverse Celtic peoples into a fixed “Celtic pantheon.” In other cases — for instance, the spiritual traditions of many North American native peoples — the expressions of power that move through the hidden side of things cannot even be called “gods” without doing substantial violence to their nature. Many peoples — it bears repeating — do not worship a Thunderer, a Shiner, a lord or lady of the moon, or what have you, and many of those who do revere powers that can be called by these names understand them in ways that cannot be forced into the straitjacket of any kind of generic pantheon. One example out of very many: some of the Salish tribes here on the northwest coast of North America see Moon and Sun as brothers, and it is Moon who is the older and more powerful: the demiurgic Changer, in fact, who made the world what it is, and who relinquished the daytime sky to his little brother because he alone has enough power to illuminate the night.

The same trouble in a different form arises in the Matthews’ account of Western magical teachings. The sheer diversity of those teachings is very poorly represented. To speak of “the native tradition” and “the Hermetic tradition”, as though there is only one of each, risks losing track of the fact that each of these very broad currents are made up of a dizzying number of different streams, many of them flowing in radically different directions — as well as the fact that there are other currents in Western magical spirituality which cannot be reduced to either of these of categories. This is a risk the Matthews make few efforts to avoid. The specific theories and practices of current quasi-shamanic neopaganism, on the one hand, and those of the distinctly idiosyncratic approach to magical work pioneered by Dion Fortune, on the other, are presented as though they are the universal patterns of all Western magic. The unwary reader may well finish The Western Way in fact, thinking that all Western magical traditions are pretty much the same — which, again, isn’t even remotely true.

American Cosmic

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews American Cosmic: UFOs, Religions, Technology by Diana Walsh Pasulka.

Pasulka American Cosmic

The book American Cosmic was six years in the making by an established scholar of religion and issued by Oxford University Press. Nevertheless, it is very accessible and addressed to a general audience. It has a significant measure of “reflexivity,” often exhibited in stretches of first-person narrative. Author Diana Pasulka references as sympathetic colleagues Jeffrey Kripal and Tanya Lurhmann, both researchers I’ve met and whose work I’ve found valuable. Within the relevant field of UFO studies, Pasulka boasts herself a “fan” and co-worker of Jacques Vallee, making special reference to his book The Invisible College.

Paulka says at the outset that the investigations she undertook to research this book resulted in multiple forms of “epistemological shock” for her. Not only was she brought to confront the currency of ufological beliefs among members of the economic and intellectual elite in the US, but she also realized the extent of the willful falsehoods and disinformation presented in various media and social milieus. Early on, she addresses the manner in which the research regimes of academic transparency and trade/military secrecy create unbridgeable chasms in communication. Although she demonstrates it in the course of the book, she doesn’t explicitly call out the extent to which this tension can come to lodge itself within the experience of an individual, and I think this dynamic, as much as the “embarrassment” often remarked by Paluska, helps to account for the anxiety and social opacity of those she calls “experiencers” (i.e. contactees and witnesses) and “meta-experiencers” (a.k.a. “scientist-believers”).

The extreme case of this latter category Paluska calls “Invisibles.” These are successful scientists who avoid any public profile for their work, rejecting visibility in any media including the “social” media of the Internet. Two of these Invisibles figure as sources and collaborators in the book, where she has given them cover names: “Tyler D.” (“the first rule of Fight Club is …”) and “James” (“Master of the Multiverse”). Although she is scrupulous about their anonymity in the book, some of the incidents related there imply that their identities might be deduced by some of her fellow academics.

The book repeatedly though briefly references the modern philosophical tradition. Pasulka’s readings of Heidegger and Baudrillard, while certainly relevant to the subject at hand, tend to simplify the positions expressed by those writers in ways that gave me pause. On the other hand, her engagement with Nietzsche is one which I can both respect and sympathize with.

I think Pasulka amply demonstrates the usefulness of religion as a paradigm for viewing the social effects of UFO phenomena and ideas. Not only does she (following Vallee and Kripal) highlight the elements of the miraculous, but she discusses the ways in which non-empirical concepts become experientially actual. She does not compare the passion of UFO researchers to religious fanaticism, but rather to religious vocation. The book makes passing reference to parapsychological idioms and theories, but does not resort to them as part of its method. There is also very little reference to esoteric religion or occultism, although those familiar with that field will have little difficulty seeing the considerable areas of overlap with the business of this study.

Omnium Gatherum: April 6, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for April 6, 2019

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

  • Harry Potter books burned by Polish priests alarmed by magic” — BBC; from the Late-To-The-Party dept.

    BBC Burning Harry Potter in Gdansk

    “Catholic priests in northern Poland have burned books they consider to be sacrilegious, including ones from the Harry Potter boy wizard series.

    An evangelical group, the SMS from Heaven Foundation, published pictures of the burning – which took place in the city of Gdansk – on Facebook.”

  • Harry Potter books burned by Polish priests alarmed by magic – BBC News” — Alex Sumner, Sol Ascendans; from the And-Then-Spank-Me dept.

    “Yes indeed! If these Catholic priests want to burn any books associated with magick and witchcraft, by rights the first book they should be setting on fire is the Bible itself!

    Now I appreciate that some may find this idea a little controversial, so I propose a compromise:

    I hereby give these priests permission to burn the occult fiction novels of Alex Sumner – so long as they pay for them first.”

  • Yearbook Weirdness. From Akron’s 1917 yearbook.” — Craig Conley, Abecedarian

    Conley Yearbook weirdness from Akron's 1917 yearbook

  • The Mormon church’s new ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy” — Lauren Jackson, CNN [HT Ulysses]

    “Claiming to speak for God is a tricky business — especially when God changes his mind, often, on hot-button political issues after receiving immense public backlash.”

  • Tibetan Yoga: Principles and Practices by Ian A Barker, foreword by Bhakha Tulku Pema Rigdzin Rinpoche, due in May, from Inner Traditions

    Baker Tibetan Yoga

    “A visual presentation of Tibetan yoga, the hidden treasure at the heart of the Tibetan Tantric Buddhist tradition

    • Explains the core principles and practices of Tibetan yoga with illustrated instructions

    • Explores esoteric practices less familiar in the West, including sexual yoga, lucid dream yoga, and yoga enhanced by psychoactive substances

    • Draws on scientific research and contemplative traditions to explain Tibetan yoga from a historical, anthropological, and biological perspective

    • Includes full-color reproductions of previously unpublished works of Himalayan art

    Tibetan yoga is the hidden treasure at the heart of the Tibetan Tantric Buddhist tradition: a spiritual and physical practice that seeks an expanded experience of the human body and its energetic and cognitive potential. In this pioneering and highly illustrated overview, Ian A. Baker introduces the core principles and practices of Tibetan yoga alongside historical illustrations of the movements and beautiful, full-color works of Himalayan art, never before published.

    Drawing on Tibetan cultural history and scientific research, the author explores Tibetan yogic practices from historical, anthropological, and biological perspectives, providing a rich background to enable the reader to understand this ancient tradition with both the head and the heart. He provides complete, illustrated instructions for meditations, visualizations, and sequences of practices for the breath and body, as well as esoteric practices including sexual yoga, lucid dream yoga, and yoga enhanced by psychoactive plants. He explains how, while Tibetan yoga absorbed aspects of Indian hatha yoga and Taoist energy cultivation, this ancient practice largely begins where physically-oriented yoga and chi-gong end, by directing prana, or vital energy, toward the awakening of latent human abilities and cognitive states. He shows how Tibetan yoga techniques facilitate transcendence of the self and suffering and ultimately lead to Buddhist enlightenment through transformative processes of body, breath, and consciousness.

    Richly illustrated with contemporary ethnographic photography of Tibetan yoga practitioners and rare works of Himalayan art, including Tibetan thangka paintings, murals from the Dalai Lama’s once-secret meditation chamber in Lhasa, and images of yogic practice from historical practice manuals and medical treatises, this groundbreaking book reveals Tibetan yoga’s ultimate expression of the interconnectedness of all existence.”

  • Part 2 of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina keeps the Harry Potter influence going. The new episodes deepen the characters and themes and draw on Star Wars and Lord of the Rings” — Noel Murphy, The Verge

    Murphy The Verge Sabrina season 2 Netflix

    “Everyone who’s been enjoying the magician-in-training aspect of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina should be happy to know that the second half of the show’s first season doubles down on its debt to Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer while also drawing some on Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. One of the most enduring ideas popularized by George Lucas and J.R.R. Tolkien is that world-changing powers can easily be misused. In this latest Sabrina run, the heroine’s decision to sign her name in “The Book of the Beast” at the end of the season’s first half means she’s now one of the most capable witches on Earth, and those new abilities are changing her.”

  • Harold Bloom: Anti-Inkling?” — Michael Weingrad, Jewish Review of Books [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    “Bloom, though, views Lindsay’s novel as a kind of spontaneous Gnostic scripture. In his reading, Crystalman is the oppressive god, or demiurge, who according to Gnostic theology keeps us locked in the material world and ignorant of our radically free natures. Whether or not this is what Lindsay had in mind, in The Flight to Lucifer Bloom makes the Gnostic content didactically explicit.

    In Bloom’s version, the alien planet Lucifer is inhabited by warring tribes named for ancient Gnostic sects: Marcionites, Mandaeans, Sethites, etc. Lindsay’s Krag is renamed Valentinus, after the much-reviled 2nd-century Gnostic theologian. Meanwhile, the Maskull substitute, Thomas Perscors, has been turned by Bloom into a poor cousin of Conan the Barbarian. He battles the planet’s demiurge with sword and shield but more often struggles to escape the sexual snares of several monstrous yet alluring female deities.”

  • Lust Never Sleeps. Two new books on sex and power.” — Charlotte Shane, Book Forum; about The Trouble with Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power by David Shields and Screwed: How Women Are Set Up to Fail at Sex by Lili Boisvert [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    Shields The Trouble with Men

    Boisvert Screwed

    “We’ve had half a century with The Second Sex, The Dialectic of Sex, Sexual Politics, and all the rest, yet straight men of letters still regard their fossilized sexism and quotidian horniness as windows into existential wisdom. Hard again! the male author marvels while streaming free porn in his book-lined office. What does it all mean?

  • Was the real Socrates more worldly and amorous than we knew?” — Armand D’Angour, Aeon

    “The real Socrates must remain elusive but, in the statements of Aristotle, Aristoxenus and Clearchus of Soli, we get intriguing glimpses of a different Socrates from the one portrayed so eloquently in Plato’s writings.”

  • Handmade Black Skull Dice (Set of 5) from Secret Warehouse

    Secret Warehouse black skull dice

    “Up your game to a hardcore level at the gaming table with this Black Skull Dice Set. Each dice features tiny skulls to represent each D6 roll faces, each intricately handcrafted to add a morbid character. Makes a perfect party accessory or surprise a skull-lover friend. 🎲☠️”

If we could overcome Civilization and establish social harmony, we’d see the Boreal Crown shoot forth a coherent laser-like 1000-hued ray of pure aroma, or stellar jizm, and simultaneously we would receive similar rays projected at us from other planets, like sunbeams but even more concentrated and fruitful.

—Hakim Bey, Moorish Weather Report

Hermetic quote Bey weather 1000