Category Archives: The Cadaver Synod

The Cadaver Synod: Esoteric Fiction and Fictional Esoterica

The Western Esoteric Tradition has influenced the work of many writers and the work of many writers have influenced the tradition. This section is a place to collect some of those works.

Dracula: Quite A Card!

Dracula: Quite A Card! by Walter C Cambra, a 2012 monograph, which examines Bram Stoker’s Dracula from historical and symbolic frames such as Stoker’s involvement with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, astrology, kabbalah and tarot (which last suggests correspondences between Dracula as The Devil and Mina Murray as The Empress, and, in part, is inspiration for the title), is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Walter C Cambra Dracula: Quite A Card!

De Profundis

You may recall mention of De Profundis previously once or twice. Not only did I review this game back around ALA’s National Game Day 2011, but there’s also a review by T Polyphilus for the Reading Room in 2012 as well, so please do take a gander at those if you hadn’t already.

Well, I’ve tossed around the idea, which I mention in passing in my review, of doing something to create a website to present the record of an ongoing session; and, I’ve put this together and think it’s ready enough to mention now. So, you may be interested in perusing De Profundis presented by the Hermetic Library, an online record of an ongoing correspondence-based psychodrama.

De Profundis is an online record of an ongoing correspondence-based psychodrama


I don’t really know where this will go or if anyone else will be interested in playing along, but given the scope of the library itself, and the Reading Room and Cadaver Synod sections, it seems like a correspondence-based esoteric and occult collaborative fiction might be something that will be fun to do that combines with other things, and entertaining for those who just want to follow along.

In the back of my mind, I can imagine various other ways this might weave into the existing library activities, such as perhaps images from the visual pool, letters and items in the cache of the Postal Potlatch, and so forth, may appear in or inspire parts of the ongoing drama … maybe. Who knows?

Anyhow, it’s a thing. What kind of thing remains to be seen, but it is a thing. And, maybe that thing will turn into a bigger thing? Check out De Profundis presented by the Hermetic Library, if you like. Follow along, if you’re entertained. Perhaps pick up a copy of the book, read through it; and join in, if you are reckless and bold enough!

The Heresy of Dr Dee

The Heresy of Dr Dee by Phil Rickman is a recent fictional work featuring Dr John Dee as kind of occult detective, a follow up to The Bones of Avalon, from Corvus.

Phil Rickman's The Heresy of Dr-Dee from Corvus

“People who think that angels talk to them may occasionally turn up in the seat next to you on the bus, but you don’t find many working as scientists. John Dee, perhaps the greatest scientific mind in Tudor England, believed that God sent angels to instruct him through specially chosen intermediaries.

It is hard for us today to reconcile Dee the pioneering mathematician, astronomer and navigational theorist with the credulous figure who swallowed all the assertions made by the shady medium Edward Kelley – including the one about how God wanted Dee to let Kelley have sex with his pretty young wife.

But for the novelist Phil Rickman, Dee is not a contradictory character. “He was a very religious person, which is why he was desperate to believe Kelley, but also why he was a great scientist. The experiments were his way of trying to get closer to God, to see into God’s mind.”

Rickman, a softly spoken Lancastrian known to BBC Radio Wales listeners as the station’s resident book expert “Phil the Shelf”, has spent years threading his way through the ins and outs of Dee’s extraordinary mind, and has just published his second crime novel featuring Dee.

The Heresy of Dr Dee sees Dee visiting his old family home in the small Welsh village of Pilleth, a decaying place that seems haunted — perhaps literally — by the ghosts of those slaughtered in the Battle of Bryn Glas, a notoriously bloody encounter between the English and Welsh that took place nearby in 1402.” [via]

Debunking the Lovecraftian Occult

Thomas Jude Barclay Morrison offers a critical perspective on the influence of H P Lovecraft’s fiction at “Debunking the Lovecraftian Occult” which may be of interest.

“The both delightfully and horrifyingly bizarre spectacle that we laughably refer to as “the modern world” is graced by the presence of a perhaps surprisingly large number of Lovecraftian occult ‘orders’, and an ever-growing body of writings concerning the practice of Lovecraftian occultism. This literalising of Lovecraft’s tales of crazed and diabolical cultists enslaved by monstrous, ancient god-like entities has to qualify as one of the most curious cultural phenomena, even by the standards of the already highly curious subculture of contemporary Lovecraftiana. I would therefore like to take a few moments of your time, dear reader, in which to survey this singular scene, and to challenge, perhaps, some of the presumptions and misconceptions that underlie it—please do not be alarmed, the process will be almost entirely painless, and I can assure you that you will feel much better in the morning.” [via]

The Sacred Rite of Magical Love: A Ceremony of Word and Flesh

The Sacred Rite of Magical Love: A Ceremony of Word and Flesh by Maria de Naglowska, from Inner Traditions, is a translation by Donald Traxler of Le rite sacré de l’amour magique. Naglowska not only provided the translation in French of B. P. Randolph’s Magia Sexualis: Sexual Practices for Magical Power, which was the only surviving source of that text, but authored a series of books which have recently been translated and published through Inner Traditions, such as The Light of Sex: Initiation, Magic, and Sacrament and Advanced Sex Magic: The Hanging Mystery Initiation.

Joan Pope, whom you may be familiar with as Hermetic Library anthology artist Whip Angels, offered a review of Naglowska’s, also recently available, The Light of Sex: Initiation, Magic, and Sacrament, over on David B Metcalfe’s blog, at “The Light of Sex: Initiation, Magic, & Sacrament by Maria de Naglowska, a review by Joan Pope”. You may also remember a previous post about the Whip Angels track The Light of Sex.

In the same vein, perhaps, as the series of fictional novels by Dion Fortune, such as the Sea Priestess and others, and of works in the library’s Cadaver Synod: Esoteric Fiction and Fictional Esoterica section, this is a novella by Naglowska which is inspired by the esoteric work of the author in the real world and should be of interest.


“Available for the first time in English, The Sacred Rite of Magical Love is a mystical, sexually magical novella written by Maria de Naglowska—the Russian mystic and esoteric high priestess of 1930s Paris. Her religious system, called the Third Term of the Trinity, taught the importance of sex for the upliftment of humanity.

A natural continuation of Naglowska’s The Light of Sex and Advanced Sex Magic, this volume also contains autobiographical material from Maria de Naglowska’s life. Full of symbolic language and hidden meanings, the story follows a young woman named Xenophonta as she experiences the apparition of a dark force, whom she calls the Master of the Past and to whom she dedicates her heart and her service. En route to a midnight rendezvous with him, Xenophonta encounters a young Cossack, Micha, who sexually accosts her. Telling Micha that she already belongs to another, she escapes to keep her rendezvous. Micha, now jealous, follows her and ends up taking part in a strange, mystical ceremony that transforms him, through the magic of word and flesh.

With a preface discussing the Sacred Triangle and the magical symbol of the AUM Clock, both central symbols in Naglowska’s religious system as well as in the story, the book also includes a summary of the doctrine of the Third Term of the Trinity in de Naglowska’s own words–important to any student of the Western Mystery tradition.”



The Forbidden Book got mentioned over on Boing Boing

The Forbidden Book, a new English language release of a work by Hermetic Library fellow Joscelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro, got mentioned over on Boing Boing at “Five novels and their occult inspirations” along with a few others recommended by di Sospiro and Godwin. I mentioned new edition of The Forbidden Book back in April but it’s great to see this kind of coverage for esoteric fiction and fictional esoterica.

“Guido Mina di Sospiro and Joscelyn Godwin, authors of The Forbidden Book, wrote about five novels and their occult inspirations for Boing Boing:

How do you find works of occult fiction that are not just fantasies? We have just published one of them: The Forbidden Book, released as an e-book by The Disinformation Company. It is a murder mystery, a romance, a political conundrum, but above all an account of magick in action. We think of it as belonging to a rare strain of fiction by authors who actually know occult traditions and the philosophies behind them. That way the reader is not just playing “let’s pretend” but learning some insights into reality that are potentially life-changing.”



Aleister Crowley and his adopted pseudonym “Oliver Haddo” mentioned in a concert review

Aleister Crowley and his adopted pseudonym “Oliver Haddo” [see, also], which came from the character in W Somerset Maugham’s The Magician, mentioned in a concert review at “Review: Ghost at Marquis Theater, 1/27/12“. The band Blood Ceremony finished their set with the track “Oliver Haddo”.

“And what better way to end a set by a band that writes the perfect rock music to capture a ’70s horror movie aesthetic than with a reference to an Aleister Crowley pseudonym?”

Review: Mr g by Alan Lightman

The archetype of Baphomet appears in a recent book, Mr g: A Novel About the Creation, reviewed at “Review: Mr g by Alan Lightman” by Michel Basilières.

“Alan Lightman is the author of the bestselling Einstein’s Dreams and other novels, as well as being a theoretical physicist. His new book, Mr g, is so obviously inspired by Italo Calvino that comparisons are unavoidable. The narrator is Mr g, who creates the universe, sets down a few physical laws, and watches it grow and evolve. He’s both helped and hindered by his Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva, a bickering married couple who interfere with and hinder his project in ways only family can. Eventually an antagonist shows up in the form of one Belhor, who seems nothing so much as the devil, and his sidekick Baphomet (and later a smaller, subservient version called Baphomet Small).”