Each zine is 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 Esoteric Tradition, Hermeticism, and Aleister Crowley’s Thelema.
Contents of this issue are:
Gordon Scott—Cover, Will Merchant — Poetry, Esteban Garcia — Rosicrucian Fractal, D S Reif — Julius Evola: Heterodyne Apotheosis, John Griogair Bell — Meme, Brad Wilson — Essays, Billy Mavreas — A / Apex / Alpha, Robert Mitchell — A Deeper Understanding of X: Wheel of Fortune, Esteban Garcia — Hermetic Color, Ian Glynn Perkins — Transitioning, John Griogair Bell — Memes, Ian Glynn Perkins — Love Feast, John Griogair Bell — Meme, Gabriel Prado — Polemic 1: poem aphorism spear, John Griogair Bell — Meme, Frater Revelo Revelo — Heart Alignment, John Griogair Bell — Wrong Answers Only, John Griogair Bell — Meme, John Griogair Bell — Replace a letter, ruin Liber Al vel Legis, Louis Agrican — De Nominibus Rectis Stellarum, or On the Proper Names of the Stars
I would especially like to take a moment to thank each and every Patron for helping to make this new zine and the work of the library possible.
one precaution is necessary, failing which it were better to leave untrodden all steps on the path to higher knowledge. It is necessary that the student should lose none of his qualities as a good and noble man, or his receptivity for all physical reality. Indeed, throughout his training he must continually increase his moral strength, his inner purity, and his power of observation.
“The other self, the anti-self or the antithetical self, as one may choose to name it, comes but to those who are no longer deceived, whose passion is reality”
“Yeats explains what he meant by ‘passion is reality’: ‘… for the awakening, for the vision, for the revelation of reality, tradition offers us a different word-ecstasy’ … Immersion in the anti-self brought about a ‘revelation of reality,’ an ecstatic state that enabled the artist to create works of genius. … Only when he became the anti-self could he become a totally subjective individual, overcome the illusion of duality, and find a ‘revelation of reality.'”
“This,” I said, “is contrary to all the doctrines of our science, which teaches that we can see nothing whatever unless it has a shape of some kind.”
“The eye of science sees only the outward form,” answered Adalga; “but the eye of wisdom sees the reality itself.”
Franz Hartmann, Among the Gnomes
Kieckhefer’s Repression of Heresy in Medieval Germany is only incidentally concerned with heresy or heretics; it is focused on the activity and social apparatus of repression. His reason for not calling it Iniquisitors and Inquisition in Medieval Germany was doubtless twofold. On the one hand, he focuses here chiefly on heresy as the object of inquisitional proceedings, as opposed to witchcraft, blasphemy, or or other possible crimes. On the other hand, it is his thesis that while there were instances and episodes of inquisition in Medieval Germany, there was no Inquisition as a durable institution that could either support or constrain individual inquisitors. It is this lack that Kieckhefer foregrounds as the reason for the relative failures of medieval inquisitors to eliminate or control heresy and its spread in Germany. This explanation is counter to the longstanding prior assumption (credited chiefly to Henry Charles Lea’s 1888 History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages) that inquisitors were hampered by local powers jealous of their prerogatives and jurisdictions.
In the absence of a durable institution, inquisitors had two possible sources of authority: bishops or the pope. The former would necessarily be aligned with the diocesan clergy whom they supervised, and the latter typically appointed Dominicans. Still, cooperation between papal inquisitors and local bishops was the rule rather than the exception, according to Kieckhefer’s account. The lack of institutional grounding made inquisitorial proceedings both less effectual and more prone to abuses than they would otherwise have been, and where there was genuine resistance of local authorities, it tended to arise from concern over the fairness and accuracy of the proceedings.
The book is organized chronologically, with different conspicuous heresies serving to characterize its periods: the rise of Waldensianism, the Free Spirit, beghards and beguines, the Waldensian “crisis” of the late fourteenth century, flagellants, and Hussites. Kieckhefer is careful to point out that his treatment of these heretics is far from comprehensive, being limited to the details bearing on his study of the inquisitors and their work, along with some general information for contextual purposes, and he refers the reader to other books for purposes of studying the heretical movements themselves. (Repression of Heresy is a scholarly work with a full apparatus, and the endnotes and bibliography are more than a third of the length of the body text.)
Although this book is now nearly forty years old, I suspect it has yet to be superseded with respect to its central focus. (For one with a somewhat wider geographic and conceptual scope, restricted to the earlier periods treated in Kiekhefer’s study, see Moore’s Formation of a Persecuting Society.) As Kieckhefer remarks at the outset, the study of medieval inquisition has traditionally drawn much of its impetus from “Protestant-Catholic polemics” which have been undermined by Christian ecumenism (ix). The relative lack of inquisitorial achievement in Germany means that it has not been an attractive object for study. The explanation proposed in this book, taking institutional development as its index, is one that might be applied to other historical problems. But in his closing, the author cautions that the relationship is unlikely to be a simple one, and that while too anemic an institution could lead to failure and abuse, overweening institutional development might do so as well, and the latter might be a more fitting consideration for our own time.
There’s an Arabian Nights quality to the narrative here: not only adventure, but a sort of wistful exoticism that I hadn’t recalled as a feature of these Burroughs stories.
Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Four Against the Great Old Ones: The Pen and Paper Solo Game of Lovecraftian Horrors [DriveThruRPG, Publisher] by Marco Arnaudo and Andrea Sfiligoi.
Four Against the Great Old Ones is a horror adventure game for 1-4 players with an optional referee, but it seems mostly aimed at solitaire play. The game uses simplified tabletop RPG mechanisms to represent exploration of yog-sothothery in 1920s America. A single standard die (or even a marked hexagonal pencil) suffices for all randomization in the game, and a single sheet of paper can track all the characters. A full campaign can play out in a single sitting.
The setup allows for choice of four different character classes out of a field of eight, and places these investigators in a random US city to start their expeditions. Activities have a cost in days, and characters need to determine and arrive at their final encounter (which varies among a set of diverse Old Ones) before forty days have passed on the calendar.
The first thirty pages of the book present character creation and basic mechanics for play. The remaining fifty give information on the locations and encounters–effectively one big branching scenario. There are lots of entertaining details, and the lore of the game is entirely drawn from the literary corpus of Grandpa Cthulhu and his disciples–it is insulated from additional game “mythos” elements, particularly those built up in the Chaosium and Fantasy Flight games that dominate the Cthulhvian gaming scene. Still, the flavor is more pulp adventure with Lovecraftian foes than it is weird horror.
The prescribed method of play is to mark the book with a pencil as a record of encounters already accomplished and actions no longer available, and then to go erase all those marks before the next play. But there is an “encounter checklist” page that can be copied instead (or mocked up freehand–it’s very simple).
During my first play, I only visited five of the sixteen mundane locations, plus a trip to the Dreamlands for one of my investigators. I didn’t exhaust the encounters for any of those locations, and of course I only got to sample one of the six final encounters. As it turned out, my larger itinerary starting in Chicago brought me to R’lyeh for the Cthulhu final encounter. My team (occultist William Wesley Wakeman, spy Lizabet Solventi, detective Terry Sturgeon, and medium Madame Lemuria) overcame all the foes there for encounters 1 through 6, but exhausted the possible encounter roll bonuses without getting that necessary 7. So I resigned… to the inevitability of my characters succumbing to endless cultists and weird architecture. It was nearly a draw, certainly not a win.
There is clearly a lot of re-playability in this little book, and I’m sure I will return to it.