Category Archives: The Hermetic Library

The Hermetic Library

Archiving, Engaging and Encouraging the living Western Esoteric Tradition, Hermeticism & Aleister Crowley’s Thelema

Omnium Gatherum: March 24, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 24, 2019

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

  • Tweet by Luna Laviolette

  • Black mould in your home can cause terrifying hallucinations of demons and ghosts. A third of Brits believe in ghosts but the solution could be more cleaning based” — Jane Lavender, Mirror UK [HT Dr. Demonology]

    “Black mould in your home could be triggering terrifying hallucinations of ghosts and demons, experts have warned.

    One in three people in Britain believes that a house can be haunted and 28 per cent think they’ve experienced a ‘supernatural presence’, according to a YouGov survey.

    But a growing number of scientists now believe toxic mould – which grows on the walls of damp homes in the UK – could be to blame.”

  • Introducing How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, free email course based on the forthcoming book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius which is due out in April from St Martin’s Press.

    Robertson How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

    “This eLearning course contains lots of free resources based on my book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. It’s designed for people who haven’t read the book yet but are interested in finding out more. If you do want to get a copy of the book when it’s published, though, you’ll get even more out of these resources.

    You’ll find an interview with me, the author, as well as videos in which I read excerpts from each chapter and provide a commentary explaining the contents. There are also lots of bonus resources, including Marcus Aurelius comic strips, a quiz, and an article about my experience of writing the book, as well as some links to podcasts and other relevant interviews.

    By enrolling on this course, you’ll sign up to receive weekly reminder emails linking to each part of the content”

  • Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future” — Felipe Lima; commissioned for Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, through April 23, 2019 at Guggenheim, New York [HT Open Culture]

    “Commissioned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on the occasion of the exhibition
    Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future
    October 12, 2018 — April 23, 2019”

  • The Essays of Frater Achad from 100th Monkey Press

    100th Monkey The Essays of Frater Achad

    “A limited hand-bound edition of a series of rare, hard to find, essays written by Frater Achad. Edition limited to 75 numbered copies. Price: US $22.95

    In 1923 Frater Achad (Charles Stansfeld Jones) wrote a series of rare, hard to find, essays for the short-lived, Los Angeles magazine, Occult Press Review. He first became involved with the magazine with the February-March issue and continued his involvement throughout 1923. Besides contributing five articles to the magazine he also developed a new cover design and became a contributing editor. Some of the articles he contributed included “Gambling with the World” and “Initiation.” Rounding out this book are an additional two articles he provided in 1923 & 1924 to the British magazine, the Occult Review.

    Each book is bound by hand and measures 8 1/2” x 11”. 55 pages. Printed in blue and black on acid-free, 24 lb. Royal Laid paper specifically chosen for this edition. Bound using a stab style binding with a soft, acid-free, wraparound white paper cover with gold threads. The spine is wrapped in a red faux suede material.

    The book includes graphics of each of the original covers of the magazines containing Frater Achad’s articles. It also includes a graphic of his “Wheel of the Tarot.”

    As an added bonus, each book comes with a 5 1/2” x 8 1/2” hand-bound copy of Frater Achad’s essay entitled “Thinking Backwards” bound in matching paper.

    Included with each book is a handsome bookplate and bookmark.”

  • Neoliberalism and its forgotten alternative. The debate between Walter Lippmann and John Dewey throughout the 1920s points to an alternative to the neoliberal world view, submerged in the subsequent war between capitalism and communism.” — David Ridley, Open Democracy

    “According to [John] Dewey, we have access to this submerged substratum of information, or ‘qualitative’ thought, through reflection; if we look deeply into our experience, we can make the connections which turn bare facts into truth, or for Dewey, into wisdom.

    All our knowledge is social, everything we know is in some way derived from the shared understandings, customs and collective experience which we have come to refer to as ‘culture’. This means that everything around us is a source of exploration and knowledge. Life itself is a learning process and the world is a classroom. This is what Dewey meant when he talked about ‘democracy as a way of life’.”

  • Mervyn Peake, an Exhibition of Certain Rare Dreams. An exhibition of extraordinary drawings, illustrations and paintings by the celebrated author of Gormenghast. The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History, Mar 27–Sept 14, London; private view reception March 26, RSVP

    Viktor Wynd Museum Mervyn Peake

    “Viktor Wynd Requests The Pleasure of Your Company for The Opening of His Next Exhibition of artworks by Mervyn Peake. the exhibition will run until September 2019.

    Peter Winnington writes in the introduction to the exhibition catalog

    Mervyn Peake was born in China in 1911 to medical missionary parents. Educated at Eltham College, he won a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy Schools. In the summer of 1933, having completed only three of his five years, he left to join an artists’ colony on the island of Sark, where he painted intensively, producing some remarkable portraits and less remarkable landscapes. Spotted by the head of the Westminster School of Art, he was taken on to teach life drawing from early in 1935.

    Back in London, he was invited to contribute pencil portraits of well-known figures to the London Mercury; he painted both portraits and landscapes for himself, at the same time as writing poetry. He had his first major exhibition in the spring of 1938.

    With the coming of war, the Westminster School closed and Peake withdraw to the safety of a tiny village in Sussex. He applied to work as a war artist, but he was drafted into the Royal Artillery, which could find little use for him. From the moment he was called up, he started writing a work of pure imagination which was published as Titus Groan in 1946. A second volume, Gormenghast, followed in 1950, and a third, Titus Alone, in 1959. Re-issued as “Penguin Modern Classics” at the end of the 1960s, they finally found the public they needed; they have never since been out of print.

    Recognizing Peake’s gift for illustrating nonsense and the fantastic, Chatto & Windus brought out his Hunting of the Snark in 1941, followed by The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which sold out within a week of publication in 1943.

    It was a Swedish publisher that commissioned his Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass; his drawings have been called the definitive modern interpretation of Carroll’s books. Nineteen forty-eight saw the publication of one of Peake’s illustrated books for children, Letters from a Lost Uncle (which was remaindered). In the same year he illustrated Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for the Folio Society, and he started illustrating Bleak House by Charles Dickens, but the publisher abandoned the project. His Treasure Island (1949) was the last of his great illustrated works.

    In 1950, the year in which Gormenghast was published, Peake returned to teaching and, for lack of commissions, he devoted much time to writing a play, which had a very brief run at the Arts Theatre in 1957. By then, he was suffering from early onset Parkinson’s Disease, from which he died in 1968.

    As an illustrator, Peake is remembered mainly for his black-and- white work. This exhibition reminds us that, given better means of reproduction, he would have been known for his coloured illustrations too.”

  • Catafalque: Carl Jung and the End of Humanity by Peter Kingsley

    Kingsley Catafalque

    Catafalque offers a revolutionary new reading of the great psychologist Carl Jung as mystic, gnostic and prophet for our time.

    This book is the first major re-imagining of both Jung and his work since the publication of the Red Book in 2009–and is the only serious assessment of them written by a classical scholar who understands the ancient Gnostic, Hermetic and alchemical foundations of his thought as well as Jung himself did. At the same time it skillfully tells the forgotten story of Jung’s relationship with the great Sufi scholar, Henry Corbin, and with Persian Sufi tradition.

    The strange reality of the Red Book, or “New Book” as Carl Jung called it, lies close to the heart of Catafalque. In meticulous detail Peter Kingsley uncovers its great secret, hidden in plain sight and still–as if by magic–unrecognized by all those who have been unable to understand this mysterious, incantatory text.

    But the hard truth of who Jung was and what he did is only a small part of what this book uncovers. It also exposes the full extent of that great river of esoteric tradition that stretches all the way back to the beginnings of our civilization. It unveils the surprising realities behind western philosophy, literature, poetry, prophecy–both ancient and modern.

    In short, Peter Kingsley shows us not only who Carl Jung was but who we in the West are as well. Much more than a brilliant spiritual biography, Catafalque holds the key to understanding why our western culture is dying. And, an incantatory text in its own right, it shows the way to discovering what we in these times of great crisis must do.”

  • New Antiquities: Transformations of Ancient Religion in the New Age and Beyond edited by Dylan M Burns and Almut-barbara Renger

    Burns Renger New Antiquities

    “Just as we speak of ‘dead’ languages, we say that religions ‘die out.’; Yet sometimes, people try to revive them, today more than ever. New Antiquities addresses this phenomenon through critical examination of how individuals and groups appeal to, reconceptualize, and reinvent the religious world of the ancient Mediterranean as they attempt to legitimize developments in contemporary religious culture and associated activity. Drawing from the disciplines of religious studies, archaeology, history, philology, and anthropology, New Antiquities explores a diversity of cultic and geographic milieus, ranging from Goddess Spirituality to Neo-Gnosticism, from rural Oregon to the former Yugoslavia. As a survey of the reception of ancient religious works, figures, and ideas in later twentieth-century and contemporary alternative religious practice, New Antiquities will interest classicists, Egyptologists, and historians of religion of many stripes, particularly those focused on modern Theosophy, Gnosticism, Neopaganism, New Religious Movements, Magick, and Occulture. The book is written in a lively and engaging style that will appeal to professional scholars and advanced undergraduates as well as lay scholars.”

  • On the Road with Thomas Merton. Film by Jeremy Seifert, Essay by Fred Bahnson” — Emergence Magazine [HT Robert Macfarlane]

    “In May 1968, Christian mystic Thomas Merton undertook a pilgrimage to the American West. Fifty years later, filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and writer Fred Bahnson set out to follow Merton’s path, retracing the monk’s journey across the landscape. Amid stunning backdrops of ocean, redwood, and canyon, the film features the faces and voices of people Merton encountered. The essay offers a more intimate meditation on Merton’s life and the relevance of the spiritual journey today.”

Shambling Towards Hiroshima

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow.

Morrow Shambling Towards Hiroshima

Framed as an extended suicide note, the fictionalized memoir stylings of this James Morrow satire reminded me more than a little of the delightful novels of Lee Siegel. Topically, however, it was a fit with my recent read of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Lucky Strike, as science fictional reflections on human agency in the atrocity of the deployment of the atomic bomb.

The narrator of Shambling Towards Hiroshima is Syms Thorley, an emeritus monster actor of B-movie fame. While sometimes adverting to his 1980s circumstance in the wake of a fan convention at a Baltimore hotel, the book is mostly trained on his past involvement in a secret WWII military project intended to provoke Japanese military capitulation in the face of actual fire-breathing leviathans bred from iguanas.

The book is a quick read, with vivid, often hilarious episodes and an ultimately sobering message.

Moondust

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Moondust by Thomas Burnett Swann.

Swann Moondust

In Moondust, Thomas Burnett Swann chose to slot a novel fantasy into the biblical context of the sheltering of Joshua’s spies and the fall of Jericho (Joshua, chapters 2 and 6). It features a cryptid race, telepathic enslavement, an underground kingdom, and other standard tropes of the Edgar Rice Burroughs adventure yarn. “Moondust” is the true name of the harlot Rahab among her people, who are neither Hebrews nor Jerichites.

This is the second book I have read by Swann. The other was the later Cry Silver Bells, which had many points of similarity with Moondust in addition to being set in antiquity with fantastic creatures. Both books have an orphaned teen human protagonist, and a non-human female protagonist who is the love interest of the former. Each young man has an older sister who is a whore. In Moondust, a changeling/adoption scenario allows the sister-prostitute and the nymph to be collapsed into a single character, while the somewhat more sophisticated Cry Silver Bells distinguishes the two.

I gather that Swann’s work is now pretty thoroughly out of print, but I enjoyed this strange little book, and I expect to read him opportunistically in the future.

The Fan Club

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Fan Club by Irving Wallace.

Wallace The Fan Club

Irving Wallace’s novel The Fan Club was quite successful when it was published in 1974, spending nearly six months on the NYT best seller list and serving as the basis for a movie project that never got to the shooting stage. Like most popular novels of its period, it has since fallen into obscurity. It is a “thriller” about the abduction, rape, ransom, and rescue of a sex-symbol movie star. I read a portion of it in the 1980s and I came back to read the whole thing more than thirty years later.

Rather than a single psychopathic villain (cf. Straub’s Hellfire Club), the story offers a misfit team of perpetrators. This feature seems to be an indictment of masculine pack dynamics: the group is morally less than the sum of its parts, while operationally greater than them. This notion is bolstered by fact that the most practically capable and ethically depraved of the four culprits has a military background, having participated in atrocities as an American soldier in Viet Nam.

The four “fan club” malefactors are repeatedly identified by their roles, rather than proper names–first for purposes of concealment in the journal kept by their organizer, and then in the mental indexing performed by their captive victim. These roles–the Club President i.e. “Dreamer,” Accountant i.e. “Milquetoast,” Insurance Person i.e. “Salesman,” and Mechanic i.e. “Evil One”–seem to suggest an allegorical reading, where the diverse character types of the four could represent larger social functions, or even psychological components (e.g. self, super-ego, ego, and id).

Except for some passages from the notebooks of the Dreamer-instigator, the novel is told in an omniscient third-person voice, but using an assortment of characters for perspective orientation. For the most part, focus alternates between the fan club members on the one hand and their captive on the other, with all of the post-abduction rapes and assaults emphasizing her perspective. She does survive the ordeal, and it seems clear that she would not have done so without her own resourcefulness and personal agency.

By making his President/Dreamer character a writer, Wallace invites suspicion of an element of self-portraiture in this eventually declared anti-hero. This protagonist treats the predatory fan club as an “experiment” in the real-world manifestation of fantasy. Are we supposed to congratulate Wallace on having chosen to write a fiction rather than carrying out the sort of criminal acts about which he wrote? The decision here to leave the Dreamer at large and unrehabilitated may have been intended as a horror-style coda to signal the persistence of evil. But given the extent to which the entire novel might be construed as rape-as-entertainment, it does come off disturbingly as “no comeuppance!”–especially in today’s interpretive climate. While I do not myself insist on moral justice in fictional narrative, Emma Bovary this fellow is not.

In any case, I do think the book was more interesting than the only other Wallace novel I’ve read, the later Celestial Bed, which shares some of its preoccupations–even signaling them in the title, which featured as an invocation (with the same historical referent) in The Fan Club.

Other Minds

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith.

Godfrey-Smith Other Minds

My public library had several copies of this recent book on the shelf, and the sexy title makes it easy to imagine why. Author Peter Godfrey-Smith is a professor of philosophy and a scuba diver, and he draws on both of these backgrounds, as well as related research in ethology and evolutionary biology. The main question addressed by the book is the nature of octopus consciousness: Does it exist, and how does it resemble and differ from ours? As Godfrey-Smith points out, of all of the animals we know with complex active nervous systems, the octopus is perhaps the most genealogically alien from us. Yet by virtue of its aquatic character, it is closer to our shared origins of life and consciousness than we are.

A surprising and gratifying element of this book is the discussion of the evolutionary basis of senescence. It turns out that this topic is highly apposite, since hardly any of the big cephalopod species discussed in this book have an ordinary lifespan of more than two years. The result is a strange paradox for human investigators who think of elaborate brains and nervous systems as being concerned with experience and memory. An octopus doesn’t have time to acquire much of a life history.

Another apparent paradox has to do with the dramatic ability of the octopus (and even more so, its remote cousin the cuttlefish) to change its color. Although these creatures have camera-style eyes like humans do, they lack the optical equipment that allows vertebrates to visually distinguish color. The resolution to the enigma seems to have to do with the ways in which they may use their skin, rather than their eyes, to sense the colors in their environments.

The author’s notes to the main text are given as end notes, indexed by page number. They are not called out in the body text itself, although they would be read most usefully with the material that they annotate. They do contain source references, but are mostly explanation and useful digression for issues simplified in the main text. I scanned them quickly at the end of reading the book, and I was irritated that they weren’t footnotes, where I would have been sure to read with profit the ones most interesting to me. It’s ironic that at a time when digital typesetting makes footnotes easy to produce, book marketing evidently forbids them.

The final chapter of Other Minds is “Octopolis,” discussing an apparently unique para-social environment inhabited by octopuses off of eastern Australia, and this concludes with some environmentalist reflections on the perilous state of the oceans. Since this book was written in 2016, a second Australian octopus city (“Octlantis”) has been discovered, and the evidence of human destruction of the oceans has become more stark. In particular, marine ecosystems are being ravaged by heat waves and the accumulation of plastics at previously unsuspected depths.

The Yellow Book

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Yellow Book: The Divine Mother, Kundalini, and Spiritual Powers by Samael Aun Weor.

Aun Weor The Yellow Book

Columbian occultist Samael Aun Weor obviously did not have the French decadence or English fin de siècle quarterly The Yellow Book in mind while choosing the title El Libro Amarillo for this short book of esoteric instruction when he first issued it in the 1950s. He identifies yellow with Buddha and Christ and “the Mental World,” and explains:

“The science of the mind truly constitutes The Yellow Book. This is why this book is called The Yellow Book because the science of the mind is written here. In order to work with the science of the mind, the initiate should retire to bed at 10:00 p.m. daily.” (111)

I’m afraid that’s a pretty representative sample of his prose style as well. The 2011 English edition of this book was produced by Glorian Publishing, a non-profit dedicated to the English-language promotion of Weor’s work. No translator or editor is identified, although significant editorial impositions on the text are evident, even without direct comparison to the Spanish original.

Weor was a student of the neo-Rosicrucian Arnold Krumm-Heller, who was himself a recipient of O.T.O. high degrees from O.H.O. Theodor Reuss. Krumm-Heller was also a sympathetic associate of Reuss’ successor Aleister Crowley. The reader will not learn these facts from The Yellow Book, where the only authorities cited are Mahavatar Babaji and famous Theosophical mahatmas like Morya (91). Weor writes no less than four times in this volume, “Our motto is Thelema (willpower)” (11, 37, 57, 113), but the one explicit reference to Crowley is from a passage in the glossary written by the editor(s):

“Unfortunately the term ‘sexual magic’ has been grossly misinterpreted by mistaken persons such as Aleister Crowley, who advocated a host of degenerated practices, all of which belong solely to the lowest and most perverse mentality and lead only to the enslavement of the consciousness, the worship of lust and desire, and the decay of humanity.” (139)

The “Arcanum A.Z.F.” frequently invoked by Weor appears at first glance to be a close parallel to the Supreme Secret of the Sovereign Sanctuary in O.T.O. doctrine. Weor’s editor glosses it as “The practice of sexual transmutation as a couple (male-female), a technique known in Tantra and Alchemy” (118). If the secret is in any way similar, however, the understanding of that secret certainly differs greatly between Weor and Crowley. Weor construes “chastity” as sexual continence (cf. Little Essays Toward Truth), and he condemns orgasm generally. He further asserts, “seminal ejaculation is a crime; seminal ejaculation is brutal fornication” (31). (For counterpoint, Crowley writes, “There is nothing unclean or degrading in any manifestation soever of the sexual instinct, because, without exception, every act is an impulsively projected image of the Will of the individual who, whether man or woman, is a star,” in his commentary to CCXX I:52.)

Weor makes conspicuous use of the correlation of the sat chakras to the Apocalyptic seven churches of Asia. But he does not credit this concept to its earlier development in The Apocalypse Unsealed of Theosophist James M. Pryse. By contrast, Weor’s notions about crickets as an adjunct to visionary technique appear to be rather novel, despite his claim for their Mexican and Roman antiquity (chapter 13).

The Yellow Book culminates in a set of instructions regarding the hypergeometric thaumaturgy of “Jinn Science,” which Weor affirmatively distinguishes from “Gnostic ritual” (108). The practitioner is directed to aim at the physical ability to fly or levitate as a basic attainment in this discipline, and magical powers are attributed to the powdered eggshells of chickens. I would not recommend this little book as a resource for sincere aspirants, although it has a great number of intriguing features for readers tracing the twentieth-century evolution of occult movements.

Omnium Gatherum: March 18, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 18, 2019

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

  • Raise the Spell: An Arsenal of Thelemic Ceremony by M Dionysius Rogers, aka Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus

    Rogers Polyphilus Raise the Spell

    “This volume collects more than a dozen original rituals for individuals, groups, and households. All of them have been composed during the last quarter century, and they have been successfully enacted by Thelemites worldwide. Although the ceremonies are consistent with the teachings of the legacy orders of Thelemic Magick (OTO and A∴A∴), they are operable without membership or authority in any such society. Ceremonies include ones oriented to the Thelemic liturgical year, original work along the fundamental lines of magick as laid down in traditional canons of Thelemic ritual, and domestic rituals for Thelemites”

  • Meet Romania’s Very Internet-Savvy Witch Community” — Lydia Horne, Wired [HT Mary Sativa]

    Horne Wired Meet Romania's very Internet-savvy witch community

    “Consider it globalization of the supernatural: Thanks to the proliferation of the internet, the Romanian witch community—also known as the vrăjitoare—has migrated their ancient practice onto the web. Using social media to livestream rituals or to video chat with clients for fortune readings, witch entrepreneurs are better able to grow their business using self-referential devices (clothing, jewelry, idols) to effectively market the storied mysticism of Roma women to searching souls.”

  • Tweet by ∞★ △ndy Paciorek ★∞

  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Part 2 | Official Trailer from Netflix, releases April 5; trailer featuring the track Cherry Bomb by The Runaways [HT Polygon]

  • Belief in aliens could be America’s next religion. ‘American Cosmic’ explores how the once-fringe phenomenon has taken root among the powerful.” — Clare Coffey, The Outline; about American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology by D W Pasulka [also]

    Pasulka American Cosmic

    “Pasulka’s book makes the argument that the religion of the UFO is also the religion of technology, and it is a convincing one. In part, this refers to technology’s role in disseminating and popularizing the UFO encounter. Pop culture hits like Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The X-Files have provided a narrative structure that patterns individual experiences of inexplicable phenomena, the way that a Catholic’s mystical experiences might be patterned and interpreted through the lens of Church Doctrine.”

  • US detects huge meteor explosion” — Paul Rincon, BBC News [also]

    “A huge fireball exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere in December, according to Nasa.

    The blast was the second largest of its kind in 30 years, and the biggest since the fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russia six years ago.

    But it went largely unnoticed until now because it blew up over the Bering Sea, off Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.

    The space rock exploded with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

    Lindley Johnson, planetary defence officer at Nasa, told BBC News a fireball this big is only expected about two or three times every 100 years.”

  • Astronomers discover 83 supermassive black holes at the edge of the universe. Lurking in the distant corners of space are 83 monster black holes that can teach us about the early days of the cosmos.” — Jackson Ryan, CNET [HT Slashdot]

    “A team of international astronomers have been hunting for ancient, supermassive black holes — and they’ve hit the motherlode, discovering 83 previously unknown quasars.”

  • This medieval astrolabe is officially world’s oldest known such instrument. Mariners used the instruments to navigate by the stars while at sea.” — Jeniffer Ouellette, Ars Technica

    Ouellette Ars Technica oldest astrolabe

    “A mariner’s astrolabe recovered from the wreck of one of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s ships is now officially the oldest known such artifact, according to a new paper in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. The device is even going into the Guinness Book of World Records, along with the ship’s bell, now that the age of both artifacts has been independently verified.”

  • The Emotion Police” — Agnes Callard, The Point [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    “Who could possibly have the gall to tell the entire human race what it should and should not feel? Philosophers, that’s who! Philosophers have been legislating emotional life since the time of the Stoics, and the newest vanguard of the movement is currently at work right under your noses. Allow me to introduce you to the Emotion Police.”

  • The Books That Wouldn’t Die. They’re alive, despite being rebutted, criticized, and cast out of the disciplines from which they came!” — Lorraine Daston and Sharon Marcus, The Chronicle of Higher Learning [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    “Scholars rarely write books like these anymore: ambitious, erudite works that boldly set forth big, original ideas but were written as much for other scholars as for a broad public.

    These are the Undead Texts. Their ambition and success inevitably made these works targets of specialist rebuttals. There is probably not a single claim they make that subsequent scholarship has not queried, criticized, or refuted. Yet these texts refuse to die. Novices and experts alike remain susceptible to the spell they cast.”

Stranger in a Strange Land

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein.

Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land uncut

This review is of the extended second edition (“Original Uncut”) of Heinlein’s seminal cultural satire Stranger in a Strange Land. Avoid it. It is inferior to the first edition, having been subjected to reversion of all of the author’s edits that had tightened up the original manuscript without losing any significant content. (In fact, a few items were added in that edit, and these are consequently missing from the longer edition.) The editorial apparatus of this posthumous reissue falsely suggests that integral content was removed from the manuscript for its first publication, in deference to public mores. The longer book is in fact a crass commercial ploy, intended to get readers of the author’s most popular work to buy it a second time, after it had already stayed in print continuously for thirty years.

Omnium Gatherum: March 15, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 15, 2019

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

  • Of Cosmogonic Eros from Theion Publishing

    Klages Theion Of Cosmogonic Eros

    “Theion Publishing is proud to release the first-ever English translation of one of the most important metaphysical works of the 20th century: Of Cosmogonic Eros by the German pagan philosopher and Gnostic Ludwig Klages. This monograph is dedicated entirely to an in-depth examination of the nature of Eros and states of ecstasies as they relate to a gnostic return to primordial states of experience. Here Klages presents a pandaemonic vision of becoming which is inextricably linked to an Eros whose elemental power shatters everyday consciousness and mates the individual to the secrets of the cosmos. The author seeks to restore Eros to his true status and function by carefully distilling his essence against all falsifications and distortions. Showing how Eros is related to Thanatos and integral to every true cultus of the dead and ancestral worship, Klages leaves no doubt that only the Eroto-Gnostic holds the keys to authentic Life and the daemonic empowerment of the Cosmos.

    Of Cosmogonic Eros is an indispensable work for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the nature of Eros and ecstasies and the metaphysical conflicts we face in modern times. For researchers and practitioners of sexual esoteric mysteries and Eroto-Gnostic systems of attainment this book must be considered a treasure chest of insights and knowledge. It is a true rune of an Eros of whom Klages says that

    “He can be roused while awake as if in the most stupefying dream. He celebrates his orgies beneath the breeze of spring storms, in the light of a star-studded heaven, in a hailstone shower, on a flaming mountain ridge, in the raging surf, in the lightning flash of “first love”, but not least in the embrace of fate that smites its carrier.”

    Of Cosmogonic Eros greatly impressed and influenced thinkers and artists like Walter Benjamin and Alfred Kubin but also German esoteric circles and literaries such as the great Hermann Hesse who wrote that in this book “the nearly unutterable has been forged into words”. Spiritual teachers like the Tibetan Buddhist Anagarika Govinda and occult masters like David Beth received important impulses from this empowering work.

    This first English edition of Of Cosmogonic Eros will also feature a substantial contextualized introduction by Professor Paul Bishop of the University of Glasgow and the first-ever English translation of parts of Alfred Schuler’s esoteric talks on the nature and essence of the spiritual light directly relevant to Of Cosmogonic Eros. Alfred Schuler, who formed the core of the Kosmiker-Kreis with Klages, was a magician and mystagogue whose oracular language and visions provided much of the esoteric symbolism of Klages’ work. It was this vilified, feared but also admired correspondent of Papus and self-confessed ‘ultimus paganaorum’ (last pagan) who brought forth such mysterious concepts as Blutleuchte, the blood-lamp. The Auric ‘deluxe’ edition will include an exclusive booklet with an essay by David Beth entitled “Katabasis and Eroto-Gnosis: A short consideration.””

  • American Gods, Season 2, premieres March 10 on STARZ

    “The epic war of the gods begins when American Gods premieres March 10 on STARZ. Where will you stand?”

  • The Commonplace Deck, a limited-edition set of hand-printed oracle cards, crowdfunding effort by Nell Latimer, limited to 50 decks

    Latimer Commonplace Book deck

    “This set of 30 cards originates from a commonplace book. That is to say it was formed from a collection of interlinked illustrations, sketches, old photographs, notes and observations gathered and brought together here for divinatory purpose and transformed into a set of small handmade lino prints. It is named ‘commonplace’ after the method of collation and as the pictures you will find on the cards, at first glance, may seem every day or ordinary. “

  • Séance by Tyu Orphinae

    Orphinae Séance

    “A minimalistic card game for 4 to 6 players.

    Your group has summoned a dangerous spirit, and the only way to banish it is to sacrifice a person among you. Your goal as a player is therefore to survive, and make sure someone else takes the blow.”

  • Sound Waves May Fall Up in Gravity Instead of Down. New findings suggest that ordinary sound has negative gravitational mass.” — Charles Q Choi, Inside Science [HT Wes Unruh]

    “The sound of a sonic boom may produce about the same magnitude of gravitational pull as a 10-milligram weight, a new study finds. Oddly, the findings also suggest the pull is in the opposite direction of the gravitational pull generated by normal matter, meaning sound waves might fall up instead of down in Earth’s gravitational field.”

  • A quantum experiment suggests there’s no such thing as objective reality. Physicists have long suspected that quantum mechanics allows two observers to experience different, conflicting realities. Now they’ve performed the first experiment that proves it.” — Emerging Technology from the arXiv, MIT Technology Review

    “Last year, however, physicists noticed that recent advances in quantum technologies have made it possible to reproduce the Wigner’s Friend test in a real experiment. In other words, it ought to be possible to create different realities and compare them in the lab to find out whether they can be reconciled.

    And today, Massimiliano Proietti at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and a few colleagues say they have performed this experiment for the first time: they have created different realities and compared them. Their conclusion is that Wigner was correct—these realities can be made irreconcilable so that it is impossible to agree on objective facts about an experiment.”

  • Polish Catholics attended Marina Abramović’s exhibition opening to pray in protest.” — Wallace Ludel, Artsy

    “Marina Abramović’s touring retrospective has arrived at Poland’s Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu, and some locals aren’t happy about it. A Polish Facebook group called Zawierzam Maryi, which translates to “I Entrust to Mary,” published a post last week attacking Abramović’s “Satanic vernissage” and urging Catholics around the country to protest the exhibition.”

  • Visualize pitch like John Coltrane with this mystical image” — Peter Kirn, CDM

    Kirn Coltrane tone circle

    “Some musicians see Islamic mysticism; some the metaphysics of Einstein. But whether spiritual, theoretical, or both, even one John Coltrane pitch wheel is full of musical inspiration.”

  • Hilma af Klint and the birth of abstract art” — Sam Ben-Meir, San Diego Jewish World

    “Af Klint was a formally trained and respected portrait and landscape painter in Stockholm, who as a young woman became involved in spiritualism, theosophy, as well as Rosicrucianism. By 1906, af Klint was creating abstract paintings, many years before Vasily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian – however she kept them private, maintaining that the world was not yet ready to see her work; and in fact she requested that they not be seen for twenty years following her death. We can see the Rosicrucian influence in this decision: a guiding principle of the spiritual movement was its anticipation of a “universal reformation of mankind,” when a long hidden, secret science will finally be received by humanity.”

  • Thich Nhat Hanh’s final mindfulness lesson: how to die peacefully. ‘Letting go is also the practice of letting in, letting your teacher be alive in you,’ says a senior disciple of the celebrity Buddhist monk and author.” — Eliza Barclay, VOX; in conversation with Phap Dung

    “It’s a beautiful message, to see ourselves as a stream, as a lineage, and it is the deepest teaching in Buddhism: non-self. We are empty of a separate self, and yet at the same time, we are full of our ancestors.

    Letting go is a practice not only when you reach 90. It’s one of the highest practices. This can move you toward equanimity, a state of freedom, a form of peace. Waking up each day as a rebirth, now that is a practice.”

  • À Tarbes, des Gilets jaunes saccagent le temple des Francs-Maçons” — Delphine Pereira, La Dépêche

    Pereira La Dépêche Le temple des Francs Maçons

    “Dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche, en marche de la mobilisation nocturne, des Gilets jaunes ont violemment dégradé le temple maçonnique de Tarbes. Ils ont notamment dérobé, puis restitué des épées et cassé du mobilier.”

    In the night from Saturday to Sunday, in the march of the nocturnal mobilization, yellow Vests violently degraded the Masonic temple of Tarbes. In particular, they stole, then returned swords and broke furniture.

  • High Glamour; Magical Clothing and Talismanic Fashion” — Charlotte Rogers [HT Scarlet Imprint]

    Rogers Costin High Glamour Magical Clothing and Talismanic Fashion

    “So why the appropriation of magical symbolism at this particular point in time?

    Occult glamour tends to be prestige orientated. The mainstream and less well heeled can affect traditional or folk magic influenced imagery but only the immensely wealthy could afford the fashionable high luxe translation of the occult and high magic. From the bohemian middle classes and the intelligentsia who were beautifully robed members of the last century’s legendary occult group The Golden Dawn, to the later parading of counter cultural heroes such as filmmaker Kenneth Anger, singer Marianne Faithful and cult author Anais Nin, they all represented people who stood apart from the proverbial ‘common man’ and for various reasons could be seen to be elevated above them.

    I’d tend to agree that using pagan and magical symbolism in commercial areas such as fashion is a surface level affectation but I also view this as being symptomatic of something deeper; an indication of the switching roles of what constitutes the outsider and what constitutes the norm. Perhaps this symbolism is representative of empowerment for the little people and lends itself well to being used as banner, much as the anonymous mask did for protesters, albeit with more dogma attached.

    The fact that financial megaliths such as the fashion industry have got in on the act is a sign that they see that this symbolism smacks of cool, anarchy and individuality, and this may well have the knock on effect of rendering perception of these beliefs to be malleable, visual superficialities.”

  • Witchcraft writings” — Roy Booth, Talking Humanities [HT The Warburg Institute]

    “The European witchcraft panic began alongside and was fuelled by the new medium of printed books.”

  • 7 Forgotten Women Surrealists Who Deserve To Be Remembered. Always cherchez la femme, people.” — Priscilla Frank, Huffington Post; written “in anticipation of” Sotheby’s Cherchez la femme: Women and Surrealism exhibition from 2015

    “The names most often associated with surrealism, the avant-garde cultural movement born in the 1920s, include Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp and Yves Tanguy, among others.

    Surprise, surprise, they’re all men.

    In anticipation of this much-needed exhibition, here are seven forgotten surrealist artists who deserve to be remembered.

    1. Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012)

    2. Bridget Bate Tichenor (1917-1990)

    3. Toyen (1902-1980)

    4. Kay Sage (1898-1963)

    5. Leonor Fini (1907-1996)

    6. Dora Maar (1907-1997)

    7. Stella Snead (1910-2006)”

Summary for two weeks ending Mar 10th, 2019

Here’s a summary of activity for two weeks ending March 10, 2019.

This last week I decided to try something new, and that I hope to do more. This week I announced a special offer [also] for active or new Patrons of Hermetic Library, for an extra 15% off Donald Robertson’s Marcus Aurelius: Life and Stoicism, a 4 week intro to Stoic philosophy and psychology course, which begins March 17th, about how to build emotional resilience and develop a more meaningful life, from Marcus Aurelius.

Hermetic Library Robertson Marcus Aurelius promo March 2019

I’ve actually been thinking about doing something like this for a long time. I’ve always tried to help pay it forward to bring some of the attention that is afforded to me to other people doing great and interesting things, and I continue to do that in various ways. But, I’ve also tried to create more value for those willing and able to support the work I do and that help me keep this overall project going by becoming Patrons. Of course, I have kept the Hermetic Library site itself available online as an open access resource for everyone. But, I’ve also been trying to create neat and fun and interesting additional content for those that make the extra commitment to support that work and the site.

One of the ways that I feel would be a great way to add extra value, for those helping to keep the library online and supporting my ongoing work maintaining and improving the site and projects, is to team up with other creators doing cool things to make special offers for Patrons of the library.

Recently, Patreon created a new tool to help creators make special offers, certainly not the only way to do it, but it’s there in my toolbox. And, while I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, I happened to notice that Robert Donaldson was starting up a new online course on Stoicism. Well, I decided it was time to put the peanut butter with the chocolate, reached out to Robert, and we agree to try this idea out!

This is the first special offer. I’d like to do more! If you’re a creator making things or online classes or soever, and want to team up with me to develop the second special offer, get in touch!

Hermetic Library booklet stapler

I have a new booklet stapler! This is something that arrived at the library recently, and I’ve been trying it out. What this does is help to staple the center of booklets and pamphlets together, since regular staplers don’t really have the reach for that. This means that I can much more easily create things for Patrons with Postal Exchange and Publication Subscription perks. I don’t have one ready to go yet. I’m still futzing around, but it’s something I’m hoping to do for real.

My current ideas are to do pamphlets from the material at the library, reprints of old out of print zines, an even doing some new actual physical zines. Or, heck, anything I can think of! If you’ve got old zines or ephemera that you’ve created, or even new stuff, I’d love to talk. Even if it’s not about doing limited reprints that I could create, I’d love to talk about preserving those materials, or even just information about them. Check out some of my thinking along those lines over at The Serapeion Project: Occult ’Zine, Journal and Ephemera Preservation. Preserving, cataloguing and making accessible archives of occult ’zines, journals and other ephemera as cultural artifacts of the living Western Esoteric Tradition is something that I’ve wanted to do actively, but haven’t been able to do much about yet. Want to help? Get in touch!

Thinking about zines, my mind comes around to the Zine. I was able to pull together two issues back in 2016, but, for various reasons, there hasn’t been another issue since. I have almost everything I need to do a new issue, except that I don’t currently have any visual work for inside pages or the cover. It’s been so long that some submissions have been in the pool for over a year or more, but I’ve been asking for participation on the next issue since the last one released.

My main idea for the Zine was to create a wild and wooly whatever of occultura and esoterrata compiled together, generally related to Hermetic Library’s overall mission of archiving, engaging and encouraging the living Western Esoteric Tradition, Hermeticism, and Aleister Crowley’s Thelema. My hope was that the Zine could become a place for submissions on no particular topic, theme, style, or soever. I’d be able to accept new and old material of pretty much any kind, as long as it can be included on pages in the Zine. But, that just hasn’t happened. I haven’t had enough material to do a full issue.

So, I’m thinking it might be time to change things. If I don’t get enough participation to do a full issue of the Zine, then maybe it’s time to deconstruct the idea of doing complete issues. I’m thinking that “zine” becomes a category on the blog instead. I really like the idea of doing full issues of the Zine, but if that’s not possible, maybe separately publishing pieces of zine material to the blog would be another option.

I shared to the library’s Instagram account some pictures of a box of belated winter holiday gifts from my mother. I didn’t share everything that arrived, but there were some fun library-related things I thought you’d be interested in seeing, including a brass plate with “LIBRARY” on it, a paper embosser with the library’s Abraxas, and more.

Hermetic Library brass library plate

Hermetic Library Abraxas paper embosser

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 subscribe on Bandcamp 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

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