Category Archives: Hermetic Library Reading Room

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, Hermeticism in a broad sense, and Aleister Crowley’s Thelema. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment

Randall Bowyer reviews The Rosicrucian Enlightenment by Frances Yates in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Yates The Rosicrucian Enlightenment

At first, the thesis of this book reminds one of conspiracy fantasies like Holy Blood, Holy Grail. It takes a while to accept the idea that Rosicrucianism began as an odd sort of political propaganda for the Palatine Elector Frederick V, but Yates has piled up enough evidence that one eventually gives in. Occasionally her evidence is inconclusive, and now and then it is just silly (e.g., on p. 160 she sees the Rose Cross motif in a picture of a table with roses on it, where the “cross” is obviously no more than the truss-and-wedge which holds the table together!), but still Yates is onto something. An appendix provides the texts of the Fama and the Confessio, making the book useful even if you’re not interested in the author’s theory.

“Is Jane magic?” Martha whispered to Katharine. “I don’t know. I think so,” Katharine whispered back. Jane glared at them. They went for two blocks in silence. “Are we magic, too?” “I don’t know. I’m scared to find out.”

Edward Eager, Half Magic

Hermetic quote Eager Magic scared

The Rites of Odin

Ingeborg Svea Norden reviews The Rites of Odin by Ed Fitch in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Fitch The Rites of Odin

Made-up runes, calls to the elements, Christian and pagan elements mixed willy-nilly–plus a lot of the author’s personal agenda, like the idea that pagans should feel bad about not getting married and having kids. If this is what real Asatruar are supposed to believe, it’s no wonder that outsiders confuse them with Nazis, Wiccans, or New Agers.

So what is the nature of this library? What function does it serve other than being a filing system for books? What, to use the phrase beloved of cultural criticism, does it say about me, and to whom is it addressing this message?

Linda Grant, I Murdered My Library

Hermetic quote Grant Murdered library

The R’lyeh Text

Majere, Pr.ODF reviews The R’lyeh Text by Robert Turner, introduction by Colin Wilson; in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Turner The R'lyeh Text

Another contributor has something to say about The R’lyeh Text:

This volume is a supplement to George Hays’ “Necronomicon: The Book Of Dead Names”, and is basically more of the same. Again, ignore the spurious “fragments” of garbage purporting to be pages from the Necronomicon and read the essays instead. If anything, they are even better than those in the previous volume – dealing with subjects incl. the Egyptian mysteries, Atlantis, creation myths, Lovecraft’s literary inspirations, and the tenuous Crowley-Lovecraft connection. Still, it’s certainly not to everyone’s tastes but as trash, it’s quite readable.

The R’lyeh Text

Julianus reviews The R’lyeh Text by Robert Turner, introduction by Colin Wilson; in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Turner The R'lyeh Text

This latest in a long line of H.P. Lovecraft pastiches is a sequel to Hay’s bogus Necronomicon of the 70’s, and it reassembles all the usual suspects from that project for … more of the same. Mr Hay’s editorial style is unusual in that, whereas the editor’s normal job is to prune irrelevancies leaving a concise text, here he has left nothing BUT irrelevancies to baffle the reader’s mind. From the crocodile-infested cover to Colin Wilson’s rambling introduction to Patricia Shore’s oblique concluding essay we are left feeling strangely … unfulfilled. It is especially ironic to see that Robert Turner is behind this, as he spent a good portion of his Elizabethan Magic fulminating against the Golden Dawn for making “inauthentic” additions to Dee’s Enochian system, and now he’s marketing THIS as the decoded contents of Dee’s cypher manuscripts! The supposed “main text” itself is rather inadequate and certainly nothing compared to the original it attempts to ape.

(Quite honestly, if these people continue to take their own insipidities and pass them off as my work, I will have no choice but to take the matter up with my Patrons.
– A. Alhazred )

The Prophet

Magdalene Meretrix reviews The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Gibran The Prophet

This timeless classic of mystic philosophy, written in 1923, has long been a favorite for contemplations, weddings and funerals. The story, subordinate to the philosophy, is of a prophet waiting for a ship to arrive and carry him away from the island where he has been living for the last twelve years. His voyage is apparently an allegory for death.

The villagers have gathered to see Almustafa, the Prophet, off on his journey and while they watch his ship grow nearer, they take turns asking him to speak on love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion and death. Each of Almustafa’s responses to these questions is a chapter, a poem, a meditation.

Although the author uses the word “God” quite liberally, the text is not specific to any one religion nor is it intrusively preachy or pedantic. Rather it is uplifting and inspiring and even the spiritual atheist can find jewels of wisdom therein.