In 1712 the last execution for witchcraft occurred in England; in 1714 witch trials were abolished in Prussia. In 1715 an Italian Jesuit missionary, Castiglione, arrived in China; in 1716 the Chinese abolished Christian teachings. In 1717 Freemasonry was formalized, with the establishment of the first Grand Lodge in London.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 30th, 2014
“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
- 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.”
- 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.
Blake, Jung, and the Collective Unconscious: The Conflict Between Reason and Imagination by June Singer, introduced by M Esther Harding part of the Jung on the Hudson book series, a 2000 paperback from Nicholas-Hays, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
Amusingly, I also have a previous version of this same book, which I purchased on a separate occasion, but that has a different, more provocative, title and from another publisher: The Unholy Bible: Blake, Jung, and the Collective Unconscious by June Singer, introduced by M Esther Harding, a 1986 paperback from Sigo Press, is also part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“More than ever, the time is ripe for June Singer’s penetrating commentary on William Blake’s work. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. For even the most devout literary scholars and art historians, much of Blake’s mystical visions and writing are perplexing. With his pen and brush, he gave birth to mythological figures and fantastic metaphors. Singer shows us that Blake was actually tapping into the collective unconscious and giving form and voice to primordial psychological energies, or archetypes, that he experienced in his inner and outer world. Blake’s writing and art was his personal dialogue between God and his own inner self—a reconciliation of duality—in which we can find clues to contemporary issues.
In the 18th century, Blake was a pioneer in finding, nurturing, and celebrating his personal connection with the divine, a search that still appeals to people who are coming to terms with the contemporary struggle between science and spirituality—the conflict between reality and imagination. With clarity and wisdom, Singer examines the images and words in each plate of Blake’s work, applying in her analysis the concepts that C. G. Jung advanced in his psychological theories. There is no more perfect lens with which to look at Blake’s work than that of Jung’s concept of the archetypes, the process of individuation, and the mysterium coniunctionis, in which consciousness and the unconscious are united.
This edition includes a new preface by Jung [sic!] Springer and a reproduction of 24 pages from Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” — back cover
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 12th, 2014
“An illustration from an 1877 issue of Little Wide Awake magazine.” — Craig Conley, Abecedarian
- “Ask Massively: And the money will follow” — Brianna Royce, Massively; from the two-pennies-to-rub-together dept.
“My mother always told me, ‘Do what you love, and the money will follow.’ It’s not true. I wish it were. Sorry mom. It’s a dangerous thing to tell a geeky little girl something like that when she’s trying to decide whether to be a coroner, an international diplomat, or a butterfly. I did not become any of these things. I got a degree in what I loved, but the money followed only when I got a job I didn’t love to pay for my husband to do what he loved. My landing a job with Massively (almost four years ago!) was the product of an unrelated cross-country move, a lot of luck, and an unusual combination of otherwise mundane knowledge. It was not something I planned and executed meticulously as a career plan.”
- “#AmtrakResidency” — Amtrak; from the they-who-curse-the-bum-on-the-rods dept.
“#AmtrakResidency was designed to allow creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment. Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Routes will be determined based on availability.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by a panel. Up to 24 writers will be selected for the program starting March 17, 2014 through March 31, 2015. A passion for writing and an aspiration to travel with Amtrak for inspiration are the sole criteria for selection. Both emerging and established writers will be considered.
Residencies will be anywhere from 2-5 days, with exceptions for special projects.”
- “WIT researchers discover ‘lost’ Einstein model of universe” — Dick Ahlstrom, Irish Times; from the i-will-not-be-pushed-filed-stamped-indexed-briefed-debriefed-or-numbered dept.
“‘I was looking through drafts, but then slowly realised it was a draft of something very different,’ Dr [Cormac] O’Raifeartaigh said. ‘I nearly fell off my chair. It was hidden in perfect plain sight. This particular manuscript was misfiled as a draft of something else.'”
- Albert Einstein quote via “Albert Einstein, when he arrived in America, was shocked at how African Americans were treated.” — Emily, Dichotomization [also]; from the emperor’s-new-clothes dept.
“There is a separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.”
- “On Gaia tests whether the hypothesis holds up to scientific scrutiny” — Scott K Johnson, Ars Technica; from the because-the-cosmos-is-also-within-us dept.
“In the early 1970s, Lovelock—with the help of Lynn Margulis—developed the Gaia Hypothesis, which views the Earth and its ecosystems as resembling a sort of superorganism. Lovelock was working for NASA at the time, developing instruments that would aid the Viking landers in looking for signs of life on Mars, so he was thinking about how life interacts with its environment on a planetary scale. And Margulis was famed for her ideas about symbiosis.
This intellectual background led to the idea that organisms are not just passive inhabitants riding a big rock that determined whether they lived or died. Organisms were active participants in the molding of their environment, tweaking and improving conditions as part of a massive, self-regulating system.
In On Gaia: A Critical Investigation of the Relationship Between Life and Earth, University of Southampton Professor Toby Tyrrell sets out to comprehensively put the Gaia Hypothesis to the test, using everything we’ve learned about life and its history on our planet.”
- “Recreating the Cosmos in Our Druidic Ritual Order.” — Ian Corrigan, Into the Mound; from the we’re-made-of-star-stuff dept.
“In my understanding, the basic steps of our Order of Ritual (OoR) amount to a recreation of the Indo-European cosmos. As in many traditional ritual systems, our rites are set in a cosmological diagram. Since our Order is written for modern, park-and-church-basement Paganism, we assume that this cosmic model must be rebuilt and reconsecrated for each ritual. Thus our sacrifices open with rites for consecrating the space and establish it as a gathering-place for the Gods & Spirits.”
- A new “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, presented by Fox and National Geographic, guest appearance by Giordano Bruno in the premiere [also]; from the we-are-a-way-for-the-cosmos-to-know-itself dept.
- “Petra monuments oriented according to celestial events” — Past Horizons; from the summer-sunday-and-a-year dept.
“During the winter solstice, the sun is filtered into the Monastery at Petra, Jordan, illuminating the podium of a deity. Just at this moment, the silhouette of the mountain opposite draws the head of a lion, a sacred animal. These are examples from a study where researchers from Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias and CSIC (Spain) showed how celestial events influenced the orientation of the great constructions of the Nabataeans.”
- “Research Suggests We Unconsciously React to Events Up to 10 Seconds Before They Happen” — The Mind Unleashed [HT Reality Sandwich]; from the wake-me-up-before-you-go-go dept.
“Can your brain detect events before they even occur? That was the stunning conclusion of a 2012 meta-analysis of experiments from seven independent laboratories over the last 35 years, which found that the human body ‘can apparently detect randomly delivered stimuli occurring 1–10 seconds in the future’ (Mossbridge, Tressoldi, & Utts, 2012). In the studies, physiological readings were taken as participants were subjected to unpredictable events designed to activate the sympathetic nervous system (for example, showing provocative imagery) as well as ‘neutral events’ that did not activate the nervous system. These readings showed that the nervous system aligned with the nature of the event (activated/not activated) — and what’s more, the magnitude of the pre-event response corresponded with the magnitude of the post-event response.”
- “Scientists unlock mystery of out-of-body experiences (aka astral trips)” — Jordan Kushins, Sploid [HT Disinformation]; from the why-am-i-up-here-what-do-they-see-in-me dept.
“The fMRI showed a ‘strong deactivation of the visual cortex’ while ‘activating the left side of several areas associated with kinesthetic imagery,’ which includes mental imagery of bodily movement. This is the part of the brain that makes it possible for us to interact with the world. It’s what makes you feel where your body is in relation to the world.”
- Translation of Theodor Klauser at “Mithras scholar Vermaseren on the Mithras cranks” — Roger Pearse [HT rogueclassicism]; from the let-that-be-a-lesson-to-you dept.
“Anyone who really wants to promote scholarship may not content themselves with uniting uncontrolled ideas and research into a seductive synthesis, written in an attractive form, for the slightest critical touch causes such constructs to collapse. The established rules of scholarly method cannot be ignored with impunity; even the most gifted may not skip over the necessarily lengthy process.”
- Priestess Najah, via tweet.
“Queen of Conjure, sacred Marie LaVeau. Her tomb needs restoration. Donate at http://www.saveourcemeteries.org“
- “Maidens, Matrons, and Magicians: Women and Personal Ritual Power in Late Antique Egypt” by Meghan Paalz McGinnis, Masters Thesis, University of Louisville, 2012; from the sparks-fly-from-her-finger-tips dept.
“Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to a variety of material, textual, and literary evidence, the aim of this thesis is to shed light on the realities — rather than stereotypes — of an important aspect of late ancient women’s experience: the use of ritual power. Patterns of gender differentiation in late antique Egyptian magic are investigated and shown to be connected to the particular aims to which numinous powers were employed, aims which were in turn bound up with the social roles expected of each sex. The majority of this study consists of a series of case studies of different types of women’s rituals of power, which emphasize examples of significant trends in ritual iconography, praxis, and context, both those which were typical of late antique Egyptian magic as a whole, and those which were uniquely female in character. The fact that female practitioners came from a wide array of socio-economic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds is also addressed.”
- “Tutankhamun’s Blood” by Jo Marchant, Matter; from the blood-feud dept.
“[Yehia] Gad isn’t the first to attempt to test Tutankhamun’s DNA, but he is the first to get this far. Previous efforts by foreigners were cancelled at the last minute. After decades of outside interference, Egypt’s politicians were reluctant to hand over the keys to the pharaohs’ origins—especially when the results, if dropped into the crucible of the Middle East, might prove explosive.”
- “Israel reveals eerie collection of Neolithic ‘spirit’ masks” — Ilan ben Zion [HT David Metcalfe]; from the starting-with-the-man-in-the-mirror dept.
“With vacant sockets and jaws agape, they stare at you like the skulls of the dead. They are 9,000-year-old masks found in the Judean Desert and Hills, and they are going on display for the first time next week at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.”
- Myrtle quoted in “Paganism in Israel: Where the Modern meets the Ancient” — Heather Greene, The Wild Hunt; from the grand-central-station dept.
“Ever since the dawn of [humanity], even stretching back to the exits from Africa, people of different cultures have passed through this tiny country. There are places of worship to the Canaanite deities, Egyptian temples to Hathor, countless shrines to the Greek and Roman Gods, Phoenician influences and more.”
- Consult the Oracle! [HT rogueclassicism]; from the ask-me-no-questions-i’ll-tell-you-no-lies dept.
“The ancient Delphic Oracle was the inspiration for a recent application created by the Department of Classical Studies at the University College of London. This application will give the user the chance to have a unique experience. The application is very tempting and attractive as one can ask whatever he wishes online.” [via]
- “Shape-Shifter” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti; from the i’m-gonna-git-you-sucka dept.
“Zeus became a swan, a bull, a satyr, gold, for love of
Leda, Europa, Antiope, Danaë.”
- “Jesus Wept” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti; from the dacryphilia dept.
“Some in the ancient world might have interpreted the act of weeping as evidence that Jesus was not God.”
- “Grimoire” — Michael Quinion, World Wide Words; from the cook-the-books dept.
“The shift from book of grammar to book of magic isn’t as weird as it might seem. Few among the ordinary people in those times could read or write. For superstitious minds books were troubling objects. Who knew what awful information was locked up in them? For many people grammar meant the same thing as learning, and everybody knew that learning included astrology and other occult arts.”
- “California’s drought is so bad people are turning to witchcraft” — Holly Richmond, Grist; from the liquore-strega dept.
“Did you know that witches help make Two-Buck Chuck? Sadly no one from The Craft is involved, but water witches are increasingly in demand in California as the state’s epic drought continues. John Franzia of the Bronco Wine Company, which makes Two-Buck Chuck and a slew of other wines, regularly uses diviners to find water underneath his California vineyards.”
- “Aleister Crowley and the Temptation of Politics, by Marco Pasi” — Clive Bloom, Times Higher Education; from the piecemeal-social-engineering dept.
“Pasi’s book, which has already appeared in Italian and German, proves an admirable introduction to the complex magical and political connections of this most elusive of figures. Ironically, what the book proves is the opposite of its title, which is simply that magical practice and practical politics have never mixed, and the attempt to fit them together was a doomed and ‘childish’ project. Crowley’s ‘political’ legacy lies more properly in the politics of personal liberation that he advocated and in the counterculture he helped to create.”
- “Alchemical Interpretations of Masonic Symbols in the Rituals of Russian Rosicrucians of the 18th-19th Centuries” (in Russian) — Yury Khalturin; from the watching-the-world-wake-up-from-history dept.
“In the article symbolic mechanisms of the transmission of alchemical tradition within the Russian Rosicrucianism are analyzed. The main point of the article is the idea, that masonic symbols and their interpretations were not just a form of communicating the alchemical tradition, but also a mode of its transformation according to the principles of rosicrucian worldview. All the alchemical interpretations of masonic symbols in rosicrucian rituals could be reduced to paradigmatic and syntagmatic models. Within the ritual those symbols and interpretations realized two main functions — suggestive (creating the sacral atmosphere for getting the esoteric knowledge) and initiatic (initiation through the shift from one level of hidden sense to another), which changed social and existential status of the neophyte.”
- “Is there any super bad-ass Catholic weapon around out there?” — Benito Cereno, Burgeoning Lads of Science; from the ten-hail-marys-and-turn dept.
“Some of these might be of dubious Catholicity, but they all at least have something to do with a saint or a relic, so there you have it.”
- “Mindscapes: The first recording of hallucinated music” — Helen Thomson, NewScientist’s Mindscapes; from the stop-children-what’s-that-sound dept.
“‘It’s like having my own internal iPod,’ says Sylvia. While she goes about her daily life she hears music. It may sound to her as if a radio is playing, but it is entirely in her own head.
Sylvia calls the hallucinations a nuisance, but they can be turned off, which has allowed researchers to work out what might cause them. The discovery paves the way for new treatments and hints at the cause of more common hallucinations, such as those associated with schizophrenia.”
- “Are Stonehenge’s Boulders Actually Big Bells?” — Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic [David Raffin]; from the everybody-must-get-stoned dept.
“If you’re building a monument, why not build it out of stones that speak?
‘We don’t know of course that they moved them because they rang, but ringing rocks are a prominent part of many cultures,’ English archeologist Tim Darvill told the BBC. ‘Soundscapes of pre-history are something we’re really just beginning to explore.’
It’s true. Academics and researchers are just beginning to think about what many historic places—both geographic and architectural—sounded like.”
- “Wagner & Me“, a movie with Stephen Fry, currently on Netflix; from the is-wagner-a-human-being-at-all dept.
- Richard Wagner and his Operas, an online archive and resource.
- “Mathematicians Are Chronically Lost and Confused” — Soulskill, Slashdot; from the dazed-and-confused dept.
“[Jeremy Kun] says it’s immensely important for mathematicians to be comfortable with extended periods of ignorance when working on a new topic. ‘The truth is that mathematicians are chronically lost and confused. It’s our natural state of being, and I mean that in a good way. …”
- Roelof Nicolai quoted in “648 – Portolan Charts ‘Too Accurate’ to be Medieval” — Frank Jacobs, Big Think; from the maps-of-the-ancient-sea-kings dept.
“Perhaps we should re-evaluate what we think was the state of science in Antiquity”
- “Scientists Revive a Giant 30,000 Year Old Virus From Ice” — bmahersciwriter, Slashdot; from the andromeda-strain dept.
“It might be terrifying if we were amoebae. Instead, it’s just fascinating. The virus, found in a hunk of Siberian ice, is huge, but also loosely packaged, which is strange says evolutionary biologist Jean-Michel Claverie: ‘We thought it was a property of viruses that they pack DNA extremely tightly into the smallest particle possible, but this guy is 150 times less compacted than any bacteriophage [viruses that infect bacteria]. We don’t understand anything anymore!'”
Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Hellfire Clubs: Sex, Satanism and Secret Societies by Evelyn Lord.
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]
There are two sections to this volume, each of distinct significance. The first is Hall’s essay “Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians,” which is principally an analysis of the Osiris legend. Forgiving some references to Atlantean civilization, the analysis is sober and comprehensive, but the most worthwhile part is Hall’s own proposed interpretation, which constitutes the few final pages of the essay. The topic of Freemasonry only arises in this final passage, which uses Masonry as a more contemporary illustration of an initiatory institution, in order to clarify Hall’s remarks about the Egyptian priesthood. Interestingly, he fails to draw the obvious parallel between Osiris and H.A., and thus to re-integrate the allegory within Freemasonry proper.
The second part of the book is a publication of the “Crata Repoa,” an 18th Century manuscript purporting to detail the initiatory system of ancient Egypt. “Crata Repoa” first appeared anonymously in German in the late 18th century, drawing on a wide range of classical sources for its details. Some of those sources were sympathetic to the ancient mysteries, but others were certainly hostile. Given the strict laws of secrecy that surrounded the classical rites, we can only assume that the best-informed and most sympathetic accounts from antiquity were never disclosed. The English text published by Hall is based on John Yarker’s translation from the French of Anton Bailleul, who published his version in 1778.
“Crata Repoa” is presented as a rite divided into seven grades, plus an initial preparation, which suggests correspondences to the classical planets and/or the esoteric anatomy of the sat chakras. It was certainly first composed by someone with knowledge of Masonic initiation, and its sequence reflects features of certain Masonic rites, which it may have influenced in its turn. In addition to the text of “Crata Repoa,” Hall includes his own commentary in a grade-by-grade format, and he appends “The Initiation of Plato.” The latter piece is a scripted drama, clearly based on “Crata Repoa,” written by Charles and Auguste Beaumont, and translated by John Yarker.
The historical value of “Crata Repoa” with respect to the ancient schools of initiation is questionable at best. What it does present is a vivid, and perhaps influential, picture of initiatory ideals as contemplated during the period in which Masonic rituals were assuming their modern form in Europe. [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.
The Spellbook of Marie Laveau: The Petit Albert is a pseudonymous work of Albertus Parvus Lucius translated by Talia Felix, available from Hadean Press, presumably from some version of the 18th Century French «Secrets merveilleux de la magie naturelle et cabalistique du Petit Albert», itself an apparent translation of a 13th Century Latin original. Although the cover states that this is the spellbook of Marie Laveau, the connection is apparently only circumstantial and speculative, according to the translator’s introduction. It is, however, a work of period significance, so may be of interest in itself.
“The Petit Albert is a collection of recipes, talismans, and occult secrets attributed to several authors, chief among them Paracelsus, and compiled by a pseudonymous narrator who stresses that the secrets contained therein ‘do not in any way surpass the occult powers of nature; that is to say, of any of the known beings that are scattered throughout this vast universe, which are in the skies, in the winds, on the land and in the waters.’ This cautious reminder did not change the opinion of the Catholic Church in regards to the Petit Albert–it was a book of black magic and therefore to be avoided at all costs, an attitude which assured the book’s popularity among nobles, farmers, and priests alike.
From its first printing, the Book of the Fantastical Secrets of the Petit Albert made its way into the most rural of French hamlets and eventually to the colonies beyond, where it became a great success in the Caribbean and North America – especially in Québec in the north and in New Orleans in the south. It is there that the Petit Albert was almost certainly used by the hoodoo and voodoo practitioners of the nineteenth century, including the Voodoo Queen herself, Marie Laveau.
In The Spellbook of Marie Laveau: The Petit Albert, translator Talia Felix presents the full text of the Petit Albert in the English language, and offers a compelling argument that the Petit Albert was most likely one of the spellbooks in Laveau’s arsenal, if indeed she was literate at all. At the very least, as Ms. Felix states in her introduction to the book, ‘it presents a period-correct view of the sort of magical knowledge that was likely to have influenced the real and genuine life and works of the famous Marie Laveau, and of New Orleans Voodoo as a whole.'” [via]
“Au cours de cette sixième étape du ‘Voyage Alchimique’, nous pénétrons avec Patrick Burensteinas, alchimiste et scientifique, au sein du mystérieux laboratoire où doit se former la fameuse Pierre Philosophale. Pour nous aider à en percer les secrets, Nicolas Flamel, célèbre alchimiste parisien du Moyen Age, aurait figuré l’essentiel des opérations du Grand Oeuvre sous une arcade du cimetière des Innocents à Paris, mais elle a été détruite au XVIII° siècle, avec tout le cimetière. Nous la reconstituons ici grâce aux nombreux témoignages qui l’ont décrite.”
“Nicolas Flamel and the Cemetery of the Innocents
In the sixth stage of the Alchemical Voyage, with Patrick Burensteinas, alchemist and scientist, we enter into the mysterious laboratory where the Philosophers Stone has to be made. To help us to perceive its secrets, Nicolas Flamel, a famous Parisian alchemist from the middle age, would have mainly figured out the process of the Great Work under the arch of the Innocents cemetery in Paris. It was destroyed in the 18th century, with the entire cemetery. Thanks to many testimonials, we will make this arch alive again.”