Category Archives: The Eudaimonia of Joscelyn Godwin

Fifth International Conference of the ASE on Jun 19-22nd, 2014 at Colgate University

The Fifth International Conference of the Association for the Study of Esotericism on June 19th–22nd, 2014 at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. The conference schedule has recently been posted and you will find quite a few presenters and presentations of interest including a couple by Hermetic library fellows:

· Mark Stavish, Israel Regardie and the Theory and Practice of the Middle Pillar Exercise
· Joscelyn Godwin, Esotericism in a Murky Mirror: Strange Practices in Central New York.

Do check out the whole schedule, but a selection of the other presentations, that catch my eye, includes:

· John L Crow (Thelema Coast to Coast), The Theosophical Shift to the Visual: Graphical Representations of the Human Body in the Literature of Second and Third Generation Leadership in the Theosophical Society
· Simon Magus, The fin de siècle magical aesthetic of Austin Osman Spare: Siderealism, Atavism, Automatism, Occultism
· David Pecotic, Building Subtle Bodies — Gurdjieff’s esoteric practice of conditional immortality in the light of Poortman’s concept of hylic pluralism in the history of religions
· Richard Kaczynski, Inventing Tradition: The Construction of History, Lineage and Authority in Secret Societies
· Wouter Hanegraaff, The Transformation of Desire in Machen’s & Waite’s House of the Hidden Light
· Sarah Veale, Disenchantment of the Vampire: Balkan Folklore’s Deadly Encounter with Modernity
· Gordan Djurdjevic, “In Poison there is Physic”: On Poisons and Cures in Some Strands of Esoteric Theory and Practice.

The Golden Thread

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Golden Thread: The Ageless Wisdom of the Western Mystery Traditions by Hermetic Library fellow Joscelyn Godwin.

Joscelyn Godwin The Golden Thread

Godwin’s Golden Thread is an impressive survey of its subject. In a brief and accessible form, he treats esoteric traditions from antiquity, through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, to modernity and the present. Although the book presumes shockingly little prior acquaintance with such material, he manages to avoid any tone of condescension, and he embroiders the necessarily broad outlines of such a high-level overview with many interesting details.

This volume is published by Quest Books, a Theosophical Society imprint, but it doesn’t pander to that organization. Godwin professes a metaphysical perspective in common with Paul Brunton (1898–1981, a pupil of Alan Bennett and later Ramana Maharshi), and he takes seriously—without conceding to—the anti-occultist esotericism of the Traditionalists.

As an introductory survey, The Golden Thread doesn’t provide the depth or originality one might be looking for in the course of academic research, but Godwin is careful to furnish extensive references for further reading. These notes enhance the value of the book as a historical primer in its field. I would recommend it to anyone with a preliminary curiosity about its subject, and it is sure to provide rewarding perspective for those who have a practical engagement with the Masonic, Rosicrucian, or Theosophical traditions. There are few books that cover so much ground with such clarity and ease. [via]


Harmonies of Heaven and Earth

Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: Mysticism in Music from Antiquity to the Avant-Garde by Hermetic Library fellow Joscelyn Godwin, the 1995 reissue paperback from Inner Traditions, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Joscelyn Godwin Harmonies of Heaven and Earth from Inner Traditions

“What lies beneath the surface of music and what gives it its transcendent power? For many people, music is the primary catalyst for experiences of expanded consciousness. Musicians and lovers of music—all those who have ever reflected on its inner reality—feel that a true philosophy of music cannot deal with physics and psychology alone. It must include the universal and mystical aspect of which Plato, Kelper, Rameau, and Novalis wrote, and of which Wagner said: ‘I feel that I am one with this vibrating Force, that it is omniscient, and that I can draw upon it to an extent that is limited only by my own capacity.’ The spiritual power of music surfaces in folklore, myth, and mystical experience, embracing heaven and earth, heard as well as unheard harmonies.

Joscelyn Godwin explores music’s perceived effects on matter, living things, and human behavior. He then turns to metaphysical accounts of the higher worlds that are the birthplace of Harmony, following the path of musical inspiration on its descent to Earth, and illuminating the archetypal currents that lie beneath Western musical history. A final section gives the fullest account ever published of theories of celestial harmony, from Pythagoras to Rudolf Steiner and Marius Schneider.” — back cover

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

The Golden Thread

The Golden Thread: The Ageless Wisdom of the Western Mystery Traditions by Hermetic Library fellow Joscelyn Godwin, with an foreword by Richard Smoley, a 2007 paperback from Quest Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Joscelyn Godwin The Golden Thread from Quest Books

“The ancient sages of the Western Mystery Traditions passed on a knowledge beyond reason, allowing us to access transcendent states that reveal our own nature and that of the cosmos. Such sages exist in every age and elevate all of humanity, says Joscelyn Godwin, whether we realize it or not. Among those whose wisdom traces from antiquity to the present include:

  • Hermes Trismegistus
  • Zoroaster
  • Orpheus
  • Pythagoras
  • Plato
  • the Gnostics, the alchemists
  • and the Rosicrucians, Freemasons, and Theosophists

Each stage is always with us, Godwin emphasizes, and so each offers a potential source of inspiration and action for today.” — back cover

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

The Secret Lore of Music

The Secret Lore of Music: The Hidden Power of Orpheus by Hermetic Library figure Fabre d’Olivet, translated by Hermetic Library fellow Joscelyn Godwin, a new 1997 edition of Music Explained as Science and Art paperback from Inner Traditions, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Fabre d'Olivet Joscelyn Godwin The Secret Lore of Music from Inner Traditions

“Ever since Pythagoras demonstrated the mathematical basis of music and its profound effect ont he soul, the Western esoteric tradition has been deeply involved with the science and art of tone. Fabre d’Olivet (1767–1825) was the first to restate Pythagoras’s ideas in modern terms and to show the way for music to regain its spiritual heritage. He calls for a complete reevaluation of its nature and purpose. Fearless in his criticism of modern trivialization of music, d’Olivet recalls its ancient glory in China, Egypt, and Greece. He shows that music is sacred art rooted in the same principles as the universe itself and that it is intimately connected with the destiny of humankind.” — back cover

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Music, Mysticism and Magic

Music, Mysticism and Magic: A Sourcebook by Hermetic Library fellow Joscelyn Godwin, the 1988 paperback from Arkana, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Joscelyn Godwin Music, Mysticism and Magic from Arkana

“‘At the highest levels of music little changes: it is always the same vehicle for voyages to another world, the same revelation of divine and cosmic laws, the same powerful tool for self-transformation, as it was in ancient and even in prehistoric times’&mdask;from the Preface

This anthology brings together over 2,000 years of the perennial wisdom associated with music—its spiritual, philosophical, mystical and magical dimensions—in writings spanning the ages from the ancient world to the twentieth century, from classical, Judaic, Islamic, Christian and secular civilizations.

The writers range from composers, philosophers and novelists to monks, Kabbalists and astronomers. Plato and Plutarch, Kepler and Chateaubriand, Balzac and Gurdjieff, Schopenhauer and Stockhausen, Wagner and Schumann, Rudolf Steiner and George Sand are only some of the distinguished names included. Yet the common ground they share is astonishing: the power of music to awaken the spirit and trigger magical and mystical experience recurs throughout their writing.

From Cicero’s account of the music of the spheres and the medieval hermit Richard Rolle’s mystical experience of canor—a continuous state of song which welled up in him unbidden—to the utopian socialist Fourier’s use of music in a recipe for ritual magic, this sourcebook leads us far beyond current limited views of music as mere entertainment or emotional stimulus.”

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Atlantis and the Cycles of Time

Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions, and Occult Revelations by Joscelyn Godwin, the 2011 softcover edition from Inner Traditions, which arrived courtesy of the author, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Joscelyn Godwin's Atlantis and the Cycles of Time from Inner Traditions

“Atlantis has held a perennial place in the collective imagination of humanity from ancient Greece onward. Many of the great minds of the occult and esoteric world wrote at length on their theories of Atlantis—about its high culture, its possible location, its ultimate demise, and their predictions of a return to Atlantean enlightenment or the downfall of modern society.

Beginning with a review of the rationalist writings on Atlantis—those that use geographic and geologic data to validate their theories—renowned scholar Joscelyn Godwin then analyzes and compares writings on Atlantis from many of the great occultists and esotericists of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Fabre d’Olivet, G. I. Gurdjieff, Guido von List, Julius Evola, Edgar Cayce, Dion Fortune, and René Guénon, whose writings often stem from deeper, metaphysical sources, such as sacred texts, prophecy, or paranormal communication. Seeking to unravel and explain the histories and interpretations of Atlantis and its kindred myths of Lemuria and Mu, the author shows how these different views go hand-in-hand with the concept of cyclical history, such as the Vedic system of the four Yugas, the Mayan calendar with its 2012 end-date, the theosophical system of root races, and the precession of the equinoxes. Venturing broader and deeper than any other book on Atlantis, this study also covers reincarnation, human evolution or devolution, the origins of race, and catastrophe theory.”

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.