Tag Archives: 17th century

Omnium Gatherum: July 20th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 30th, 2014

Afterlife with Archie issue 6
“Afterlife With Archie” Issue 6 is a comic every Lovecraft fan will enjoy — Mike Davis, Lovecraft eZine

 

Here are some top gatherum posts from the BBS this week:

  • The Baphomet Sculpture Hidden in Brooklyn — Jena Cumbo, Village Voice

    “Lucien Greaves (a.k.a. Doug Mesner), one of the people who commissioned the sculpture, that now sits in a warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, asked the sculptor — we’ll call him “Jack” — to forgo the breasts. This Baphomet is smooth-chested and muscular, with thin, shapely lips and rectangular pupils. The sculptor based his physique on a blend of Michelangelo’s David and Iggy Pop.”

  • ‘Join us in our ritual,’ beckons Cthulhu-based cryptocurrency — Adrianne Jeffries, The Verge

    “Written in the voodoo cultspeak of futurist horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ the creepy Cthulhu Offerings may be the most confusing digital currency yet.

    ‘The time draws near, the return of The Great Old One is upon us,’ writes the developer. ‘Join us in our ritual.'”

  • 70,000 Year-Old African Settlement Unearthed — Past Horizons

    “During ongoing excavations in northern Sudan, Polish archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Poznań, have discovered the remains of a settlement estimated to 70,000 years old. This find, according to the researchers, seems to contradict the previously held belief that the construction of permanent structures was associated with the so-called Great Exodus from Africa and occupation of the colder regions of Europe and Asia.”

  • The Occult Knowledge – Strategies of Epistemology in La Société Voudon Gnostique — Maria Liberg, a Bachelor thesis in Religious Studies at University of Gothenburg, supervised by Henrik Bogdan

    “The academic research on Western esotericism in general and contemporary occultism in particular has been largely neglected in earlier scholarship and has only recently gained serious academic attention. This thesis examines how the contemporary occult group, La Société Voudon Gnostique, headed by David Beth and an organization under the general current Voudon Gnosis, legitimate their claims to knowledge, mainly through three discursive strategies of epistemology offered by Olav Hammer, namely: the appeal to (1) tradition; (2) scientism as a language of faith; and narratives of (3) experience. Since Hammer argues that these strategies can be found in esoteric currents in general, but only examines theosophy, anthroposophy and New Age as well as only examining “esoteric spokespersons” this thesis aims at examine them in relation to contemporary occultism as well as in relation to both the spokesperson and to “ordinary adherents”. In order do this, La Société Voudon Gnostique works as a case study in qualification of being a contemporary occult group that has gained no academic attention before.

    The conclusions of this thesis are that the strategies are all prevalent, to a more or less extent, in La Société Voudon Gnostique and they are also used by the adherents. Besides the strategies proposed by Hammer, this thesis argues that the secrecy and elitist approach, which can be found in the texts, also can be seen as a discursive strategy of epistemology.”

  • Christian Persecution: The Movie! — Scott Stenwick, Augoeides; about the forthcoming movie Persecuted

    “Persecuted, is based on a laughably impossible premise that the audience is supposed to find threatening. In this case, it’s the government attempting to legislate religion, something Poor Oppressed Christians are totally for until they realize that religious freedom also applies to non-Christians. Then they go off the rails about how wrong and unfair it is that they aren’t treated as special and given more privileges than everyone else.”

  • The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda — Mark Ames, NSFWCORP at Alternet

    “Pull up libertarianism’s floorboards, look beneath the surface into the big business PR campaign’s early years, and there you’ll start to get a sense of its purpose, its funders, and the PR hucksters who brought the peculiar political strain of American libertarianism into being — beginning with the libertarian movement’s founding father, Milton Friedman.”

    “That is how libertarianism in America started: As an arm of big business lobbying.”

  • Aldous Huxley quoted at Reversed Alchemy — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    “Certain authors possess the secret of a kind of reversed alchemy; they know how to turn the richest gold into lead. The most interesting subjects become in their hands so tedious that we can hardly bear to read about them.”

  • Ian Clark quoted at The Limits of “Unlimited” — Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed

    “By speaking up, we are not only defending public libraries but the entire notion of public services. Silence is not how we defend ourselves against an ideological battle, it is how we surrender.”

  • More Songs for the Witch Woman — John Coulthart, feuilleton

    “It’s been a great pleasure in recent years seeing the welling of interest in Cameron’s work. In 2001 when I was compiling notes for an abandoned study of occult cinema, Cameron as artist, witch or mere human being was a shadowy presence about whom nothing substantial seemed to have been written; her art was impossible to see anywhere, all one had were fleeting references in books”

  • Love Spells — Sarah Anne Lawless

    “Love spells are black magic. Love spells to manipulate the body, heart, and soul. Love spells to dominate, to bind, to cause destruction and madness and pain.

    Love spells are not about love, they are about the lustful eye and the selfish heart. Be honest with yourself about it and then move on to the work at hand.”

  • Bible Stories for Newly Formed and Young Corporations — Tom the Dancing Bug, Boing Boing

    Tom the Dancing Bug Bible-stories for Young Corporations detail

     

  • Stick-Gods — Inonibird

    “‘Stick-Gods’ is the culmination of over a dozen years of fascination with Ancient Egypt—particularly, its mythology and deities. Whether you’re studying Egyptology, a practicing Kemetic or just a fan of myths, there should be something in there for you! I’m doing my best to balance informed content with a fair bit of silliness. …And puns. Lots of puns.”

    Inonibird Stick-Gods

     

  • William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, by Marsha Keith Schuchard — Gesigewigu’s, Spiral Nature; a review of William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision from Inner Traditions

    “Reading William Blake one cannot help but realize this is a man who is both religious and spiritually active, especially his poems known as the prophecies. The question is what was the nature of his spiritual life? What inspired Blake to create works that are both heavily Christian and at the same time antagonistic to many Christian ideals? The surprising answer is laid out as Schuchard leads us back into the complex religious web of mystical Christianity of the 17th and 18th century.”

  • A Victim of Drunken Channeling — Scott Stenwick, Augoeides

    “Aleister Crowley criticized spiritism as ‘a sort of indiscriminate necromancy’ because of a complete lack of formal magical procedures and protections, in which many mediums simply opened themselves up to whatever spiritual force happened to be present. Modern channelers such as Knight still employ essentially the same methods that Crowley was talking about. As such, there’s a real possibility that any channeling attempt could reach just about any spirit, like some sort of metaphysical Chatroulette.”

  • Mary Magdalene and the Gospel according to Mary — Kate Cooper; an edited excerpt from Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women from Overlook Press

    “The argument between the four disciples seems to be our anonymous writer’s way of exploring the different positions being taken by the men and women of his own day on the question of an alternative tradition being handed down by women. But he is also expressing his concern that the Church is changing, and not for the better. In his eyes, Peter seems to represent the voice of a faction in the community which wants to ‘make rules or lay down laws other than the Saviour gave’ – in other words, a group that wants to develop an institutional structure to replace the more fluid and informal movement of the early decades. This was clearly a topical warning after the death of the disciples who had known Jesus. Levi thinks that the new rules are a way of drawing the community away from fulfilling its task of preaching the gospel. The anonymous writer seems to be using Levi to suggest that too much emphasis on authority from the ‘Peter faction’ is stifling the Church.”

  • “Afterlife With Archie” Issue 6 is a comic every Lovecraft fan will enjoy — Mike Davis, Lovecraft eZine

    “As the story begins, our heroine Sabrina Spellman is relating one of her eldritch dreams to her psychiatrist, Dr. Lovecraft. Sabrina has apparently been committed to an institution because after her aunts died in a house fire, she had a breakdown and couldn’t deal with the reality of their death.

    But is that really what happened?”

 

If you’d like to participate in the Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS. You can check out all the other gatherum posts, like posts you enjoy, and even add your own posts with links to other things of interest, related to the subject matter of the library, from elsewhere around the Internet.

Events at Treadwell’s through June, 2014

Here is a selection from the upcoming events at Treadwell’s Books in London for through June, 2014, which may be of interest.

Treadwell's Books in London

 

Surrealism, Satanism and Witchcraft
16 May 2014
Dan Zamani

Dan Zamani Surrealism Satanism Witchcraft at Treadwells

Surrealism celebrated Satan and the witch as powerful agents of social rebellion, and tonight’s speaker argues their inspiration came from Jules Michelet’s 1862 book La Sorciere, which was violently anti-Catholic as well as shockingly erotic. Some women Surrealists confidently cast themselves as witches, and the talk looks at three of them: Dorothea Tanning, Leonor Fini and Leonora Carrington. Dan Zamani is completing his PhD in art history at Cambridge; he returns to Treadwells by popular demand.

Price: £7
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start

 

Crowley’s Liber Nu
23 May 2014
Bob Stein

Bob Stein Aleister Crowley Liber Nu at Treadwell's Books

Tonight a longstanding magical practitioner of Thelemic magic examines one of Crowley’s most magnificent ritual texts, Liber Nu (‘The Book of Nuit’, a rite for attainment of the Goddess Nuit) and relates the extraordinary experience of preparing and then performing the rite at Gosse’s Bluff in Central Australia. He goes on to interpret Liber Nu as Crowley’s “how to write and do a high magic ritual.” Bob Stein has been a member of O.T.O. since 1983 and has been involved with the organisation since then in a range of capacities.

Price: £7
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start

 

Abraxas 5 Launch Party
30 May 2014

Abraxas issue 5 from Fulgur Esoterica UK

Please join us for to celebrate Issue Five of Abraxas, the journal of esoteric studies issued jointly by Fulgur Ltd and Treadwell’s. We will have fascinating people, art, poetry and short talks. This issue has contributors worldwide on surreailsm, the Fellowship of Isis, Platonism, spirit-summoning, David Blank of the famed Oracle Magazine, an occult manuscript, Peladan, Bertiaux, and the wonderful ancient gods Antinous and Glykon.

Free, but please RSVP to info@treadwells-london.com
Time: 7pm to 9:30pm. Short talks at 7:45pm

 

Elias Ashmole: London’s Forgotten Adept
2 June 2014
Ruth Clydesdale

Ruth Clydesdale Elias Ashmole at Treadwell's Books

Elias Ashmole (1617–1692) is famed for founding the first public museum, the Ashmolean, a fact that overshadowed his importance in the history of occultism. He was the astrological advisor to Charles II, an early freemason, an alchemical secret-holder. He collected rare esotericism texts and even saved a fellow astrologer from the gallows. Tonight revives him from obscurity, celebrating his secret life. Ruth Clydesdale is a writer and astrologer with interest in the history of astrology and its links to magic, alchemy and art.

Price: £7
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start

 

Walking Tour: Occult London
7 June 2014 (and again on July 5th)
Delienne Forget

Delianne Forget Occult London through Treadwell's Books

London’s secret occult history comes alive as you traipse the cobblestone streets of the West End, and you learn the secrets behind some of the area’s past magicians, witches and sorcerers: some famous, some infamous. Delianne Forget is a London registered Blue Badge Guide with a solid grounding in London history. A white witch herself, she also knows her cauldron potions from her good-luck charms. These tours return after a two year hiatus, due to popular demand.

Price: £10
Time: 2pm to 5pm, starting at a central London tube station. Look for the lady in the witch hat.

 

Aleister Crowley on Rock’n’Roll
19 June 2014

Gary Lachman Aleister Crowley from Tarcher / Penguin at Treadwell's Books

Join us for a summer party to celebrate the launch of Gary Lachman’s new book: Aleister Crowley’s influence on rock-and-roll giants from the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, to Black Sabbath and Blondie, of which Lachman was a founding member. Gary will give an informal talk for about 20 minutes at about 7:45, and as ever we give most of the evening over to socialising, book-signing and gentle revelry. Please join us.

Free, but please RSVP to info@treadwells-london.com
Time: Come anytime 7pm – 9:30pm. Short talk at 7:45.

 

Love Magic in Seventeenth-century England
20 June 2014
Alexander Cummins

Alexander Cummins Love Magic at Treadwell's Books

This talk explores the occult theories and magical practices which grasped both the divinity and madness of love. Al Cummins takes us into the world of elemental humours, psychological notions of the passions, and the spiritual and physical mysteries of the heart. We will delve into the love magicians’ toolkit, examining means of seduction: from aphrodisiac herbs to conjuring matchmaking spirits … and onto bindings, leashes, and “erotic malefic” workings. A vibrant speaker, Alexander Cummins recently completed his PhD from Bristol: he is an historian of early modern magic, astrology and the passion. He is also a professional poet.

Price: £7
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start

 

And, Treadwell’s comes to New York!

New York City — The Night of the Witch
25 June 2014

Night of the Witch in New York from Treadwell's Books

Two illustrated lectures on witchcraft in a vibrant double-bill. Witch Pictures — Pam Grossman and British Witchcraft — Christina Oakley Harrington.

Witch Pictures — Pam Grossman

The witch burst into Western art in the late 15th century and never left: the likes of Durer, Fuseli, Goya, and Blake used the image of magical women to titillate their patrons or reflect their own anxieties — with results both grotesque and beguiling. Then in the 19th century women took up the brush to create works inspired by personal occult experiences, reclaiming the witch, and we see a female ‘witchcraft’ in action in Abstraction, Surrealism, Modernism, making a corner of art history where craft and Craft are one and the same.

British Witchcraft — the Fifties to the Seventies — Christina Oakley Harrington

British Witchraft revived in the 1950s and 1960s. To the horror and fascination of the English press and public, some of these witches gave interviews and even allowed secret rites to be photographed. They wanted the world to know a non-Christian basis of ethics, a radical concept of the sacred, and the power of altered states of consciousness. Both tradition-based and forward-thinking, they were paradoxical yet compelling. Tonight’s speaker comes from the UK Wiccan community, and brings these characters to life and shares insights into their vision of the Craft.

Pam Grossman is the Brooklyn-based guiding spirit of Phantasmaphile, and was co-host of the 2013 Occult Humanities Conference at NYU. Christina Oakley Harrington is founder of London’s famed Treadwells Bookshop and a former academic; she also co-edits Abraxas Journal and gives occasional lectures.

Venue: New York City’s META Center, 214 W 29th Street. The talks will be followed by an informal social at a nearby restaurant: all are invited.
Tickets through Brown Paper Tickets
Time: 7pm – 9pm

 

Religion & the Decline of Magic

Religion & the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas, the 1971 paperback from Scribners, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Keith Thomas Religion & the Decline of Magic from Scribners

Religion & the Decline of Magic is Keith Thomas’s classic history of the magical beliefs held by people on every level of English society in the 16th and 17th centuries and how these beliefs were a part of the religious and scientific assumptions of the time. It is not only a major historical and religious work, but a thoroughly enjoyable book filled with fascinating facts and original insights into an area of human nature that remains controversial today—the belief in the supernatural that still continues in the modern world.” — back cover


The Hell-Fire Clubs

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Hellfire Clubs: Sex, Satanism and Secret Societies by Evelyn Lord.

Evelyn Lord The Hell-Fire Clubs

I thought I was sure to love this book, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. The title offers “hell-fire clubs” as an organizational genre, but the study never does a very good job of delimiting what they were. Author Lord basically seems willing to give consideration to any membership society that fostered street violence, blasphemy, or clandestine sex, within the historical span of her study, which covers the entire 17th through 18th centuries, in the Anglophone world generally. She repeatedly invokes a hypothesis regarding “outlets for masculine energy” as though it were self-explanatory and evidently credible.

On p. 94, she writes: “The reason for painting Dashwood as a friar will never be known….” It seems to me rather that there are a variety of perfectly obvious motives: the pun on his given name, the reputation of friars for sexual misconduct, Dashwood’s role as the founding “Saint” of the Medmenham “Order,” and so on. She often seems to pose as a skeptic when she’s merely suffering from a lack of contextual information or insight. In general, I found her treatment of the Medmenham Friars—a necessary central feature of any book on this topic—to be less thorough and less perceptive than that of Geoffery Ashe, whose work she often cites.

She mentions Freemasonry in passing a few times, suggesting that one or another of the clubs that serve as the object of her study were aping or mocking it; but if she actually knows anything about the workings of Masonry, she doesn’t bother to explain how or why this verdict would be of interest.

The prose style is pleasant enough, and the photographic plates are excellent. The book is shorter than it seems: its 214 pages are in a generous font on heavy stock. A real strength of the book is the chapter on Scottish hell-fire groups, focused on the sex society of the Beggar’s Benison. The ending is abrupt and rather inconclusive. All in all, it’s not a waste of time for anyone genuinely interested in the topic, but it’s far from everything I’d hoped it would be. [via]


Events at Treadwell’s for February and March, 2014

Here is a selection from the upcoming events at Treadwell’s Books in London for February and March, 2014, which may be of interest.

Treadwell's Books in London

 

Antinous: Last God of the Ancient World
24 February 2014
John J Johnston

John J Johnston Antinous at Treadwell's Books

When, in 130 AD, the beautiful youth Antinous, favourite of the Roman emperor Hadrian, drowned in the Nile, under suspicious circumstances Hadrian proclaimed him a god and his cult survived until the eventual fall of the Empire. Drawing upon archaeological and textual sources, tonight’s lecture explores Antinous’ religious and artistic legacy from the time of his death and apotheosis until the modern age, and examines the importance of his name and image to gay men since the 18th Century. John J Johnston is Vice-Chair of the Egypt Exploration Society. This event celebrates LGBT History Month.

Price: £7
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start

 

Crowley and Politics
19 March 2014
Book Launch Party with Marco Pasi

Marco Pasi Crowley and Politics at Treadwell's Books

Tonight join us for the launch party of a seminal study of Crowley’s relationship with the politics of his times, published by Acumen. Crowley sought an alternative way to express his religious feelings, which led him to elaborate his own vision of political and social radical change: he announced a new era, echoing the ideal of a new man proposed by the totalitarian regimes and the radical politics of his era. Author Marco Pasi has worked with many unpublished documents and his study offers fresh insights. Joining us at the launch is Marco Pasi, Assistant Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. Signed copies will be available on the night. Please note this event is a book launch party and not a formal lecture.

Price: Free but reply essential to be added to guest list
Time: 7pm to 9:30pm, speeches 7:46pm

 

The Oldest Sex Magic Text?
20 March 2014
Lecture — An Early Mesopotamian Tablet

The Oldest Sex Magic Text? at Treadwell's Books

A very early tablet, written in cuneiform, refers enigmatically to a sex magic act. Our speaker tonight reveals this brief but important discovery and uses it to shed light on ancient Mesopotamian ideas of ‘sacred marriage’, goddess power, sovereignty, hallucinogenic drugs and — yes — sex magic. Our speaker is an academic scholar in the field with a deep interest in magic. Tonight is for everyone with a fondness for Ishtar, Ereshkigal, Inanna, Enkidu, Tammuz, Pazuzu and the wonderful world of the Tigris-Euprhates valley. This is a repeat lecture: those who came in January and wish to re-attend may do so without charge: please email or ring.

Price: £7. Ring 0207 419 8507 or book online
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start

 

Alchemy’s Mutus Liber
24 March 2014
Paul Cowlan

Paul Cowlan Alchemy's Mutus Liber at Treadwell's Books

The Mutus Liber (The ‘silent’ or ‘symbolic’ Book), first appeared in the town of La Rochelle in 1677. The author ‘Altus’, is now thought to be Isaac Baulot, a local apothecary and physician. There is no text, and the work consists of fifteen plates apparently illustrating an alchemical process, a process which inspired the successful plant alchemy of Armand and Jacqueline Barbault in the 1960s. Some believe it to be entirely psycho-spiritual in its intent, while others interpret it qabbalistically. In this illustrated talk Paul explores each plate, offering comments and suggestions on the symbolism .We promise an enriching exploration of one of alchemy’s most famous enigmas. Paul Cowlan is a spiritual alchemist of over twenty years’ experience and a popular speaker.

Price: £7
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start

 

Magic in 17th Century England
26 March 2014 (Wednesday)
Alexander Cummins

Alexander Cummins Magic in 17th Century England at Treadwell's Books

Seventeenth-century England — with its Civil Wars, Revolution, and Restoration — was a tumultuous place. It was also a period where early modern people consulted astrologers, magicians, and cunning-folk for a variety of occult services and magical objects. The stars’ influence was traced in all aspects of life: from planting crops, to political propaganda, to medical care and guidance counselling. In investigating early modern English astrology, this lecture will explore fascinating historical perspectives on the nature of time, meaning and human life. Alexander Cummins is an historian of magic and emotion. He is currently finishing his doctorate at the University of Bristol.

Price: £7
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment by Frances Yates, the 2002 paperback from Routledge Classics, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Frances Yates The Rosicrucian Enlightenment from Routledge Classics

“In the early seventeenth century two manifestos were published which proclaimed, in terms of magic, alchemy and the Cabala, the dawn of a new age of increased knowledge and power over nature. These anonymous documents (reproduced in the appendix to this work) were written on behalf of ‘the Fraternity of the Rose Cross’. Ever since, this mysterious movement has been the subject of endless fascination, speculation and intrigue. In a remarkable piece of detective work, the renowned historian Frances Yates here reveals the truth about the ‘Rosicrucian Enlightenment’ and details its impact on Europe’s political and cultural history. She transforms, for instance, our understanding of the origins of modern science by placing it in the context of an occult tradition key figures such as Descartes, Bacon, Kepler and Newton. Beautifully illustrated, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment remains one of those rare works of scholarship which no reader can afford to ignore.” — 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 Origins of Freemasonry

The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s century, 1590–1710 by David Stevenson, a 2001 reprint of the 1990 first paperback edition from Cambridge University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

David Stevenson The Origins of Freemasonry from Cambridge University Press

“Freemasonry has always been a highly controversial movement. Yet inspite of the vast literature which has been produced on the subject its origins have remained obscure. The prevailing assumption has been that it emerged in England around 1700, but most of the evidence used to support this interpretation turns out on examination to relate to Scotland.

The Origins of Freemasonry represents the first attempt to study this evidence in the context of Scottish history. By doing this, and examining much new evidence in the records of early Scottish lodges, David Stevenson demonstrates that the real origins of the essential modern freemasonry lie in Scotland around 1600, when the system of lodges was created by stonemasons with rituals and secrets blending medieval mythology with a number of late Renaissance intellectual influences to create a movement which was to spread through England, across Europe and then around the world. The story of the emergence of this movement will be of interest to scholars of the Renaissance and of seventeenth-century history in general, to freemasons themselves, and to those seeking to understand the true nature of a movement which arouses considerable controversy.” — 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.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a Dream by Francesco Colonna, translated by another fellow Joscelyn Godwin [also] from Thames & Hudson:

Francesco Colonna and Joscelyn Godwin's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili from Thames & Hudson

 

For half a millenium, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili has been one of the great literary enigmas of the Italian Renaissance. This book, the title of which is translated as “The Strife of Love in a Dream,” was written by the Dominican monk Francesco Colonna in the late 15th century. It consists of the amatory adventures of one Poliphilo, who dreams of a search for his love Polia among spectacles of ancient buildings, sculptures and gardens frequented by the gods of pagan antiquity.

Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia does in fact constitute a “missing link” between two critical antecedents of Aleister Crowley’s Thelema: Saint Augustine and Francois Rabelais. Augustine, who wrote “Love, and do what thou wilt,” proposed that the spiritual trinity within the human soul was composed of memory, understanding, and will. In the Hypnerotomachia, Poliphilo represents memory, and he is given two guides: Logistica (understanding) and Thelemia (will). Eventually, when forced to choose between their counsel, he follows Thelemia in deciding upon the path of erotic fulfillment over the options of worldly glory and ascetic contemplation. Florence Weinberg has suggested that Rabelais, who certainly read Colonna and explicitly acknowledged him, was inspired by Colonna’s Thelemia in assigning the name Theleme to his utopian abbey.

The Hypnerotomachia was written in a curious and largely impenatrable “pedantesca,” supplementing the Tuscan vernacular with many Greek and Latin neologisms. One partial translation into English by “R.D.” was published during the Renaissance, when it was also translated into French. The book aroused the most interest in French readers of the 16th and 17th centuries, who usually understood it as an alchemical allegory. Anglophone scholars tended to concentrate attention on the innovative woodcut illustrations, rather than the text. Since 1999 Joscelyn Godwin’s complete and lucid English translation (now available in a more economical second edition) has made it available to readers in a new and powerful way. [via]

 

 

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.