Tag Archives: A.E. Waite

The Mysticism of Masonry

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Mysticism of Masonry: The Key to the correct interpretation of Masonic Symbolism, one harmonious with both the Ancient Osirian Teachings and those of the New Dispensation by R Swinburne Clymer:

R Swinburne Clymer's The Mysticism of Masonry from Philosophical Publishing
Image: Princeton Antiques & Books


Most of the text in this book consists of extracts from other authors, including Masonic mainstays such as Mackey, Oliver, Buck, Pike, and Yarker, along with more obscure sources, like New Light from the Great Pyramid by Parsons. Clymer’s own writing only appears in very rare paragraphs of his own, and in relatively common bracketed comments inserted into the long quotes. But the reader is also given pause to about Manisis, the “Master Interpreter of the New Dispensation,” whose platitudinous declamations regarding “Jehovah Adonai the Father of Light” are sprinkled through the book. Was Manisis perhaps the illuminated alter-ego of Clymer?

Much of the book presents a sweeping survey of Masonic pre-history, with an eye to the author’s own esoteric agenda, much after the manner of Leadbeater’s Glimpses of Masonic History. Clymer’s narrative begins with special attention to the obscure and short-lived African Master Builders (1767-1786), whom A.E. Waite supposes to have been responsible for the Crata Repoa.

Clymer is best-known in the esoteric field as a Rosicrucian organizer working under authority descending through the great XIXth century American occult master Paschal Beverly Randolph. Clymer’s remarks on Masonic symbolism in The Mysticism of Masonry reflect an inheritance of Randolph’s doctrines of sex-mysticism, from his reference in the opening pages to “virile manhood capable of reproduction of the species and consequently still in possession of the Elixir Vitae through which only Spiritual Initiation and Conscious Immortalization finally may be attained,” to a much later explanation of “the symbolization of bringing forth a perfect Soul through the medium of the Double Drill between the male and female and representative of the raising of the two serpents (sex forces of the two actors) to the plane of heaven—or spirituality.” Writing such in 1907, Clymer was neither the first nor the last to claim that such readings of Masonic symbolism constitute “the Key” to its correct interpretation. [via]



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Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism

You may be interested in Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism (and via Amazon), edited by Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr, and scheduled for August 2012 from Oxford University Press and September via other retailers like Amazon. The hardcover is listed at a steep $99, but there’s a $35 paperback due in Sept (and via Amazon).

“Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr offer the first comprehensive examination of one of the twentieth century’s most distinctive occult iconoclasts. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was a study in contradictions. He was born into a Fundamentalist Christian family, then educated at Cambridge where he experienced both an intellectual liberation from his religious upbringing and a psychic awakening that led him into the study of magic. He was a stock figure in the tabloid press of his day, vilified during his life as a traitor, drug addict and debaucher; yet he became known as the perhaps most influential thinker in contemporary esotericism.

The practice of the occult arts was understood in the light of contemporary developments in psychology, and its advocates, such as William Butler Yeats, were among the intellectual avant-garde of the modernist project. Crowley took a more drastic step and declared himself the revelator of a new age of individualism. Crowley’s occult bricolage, Magick, was a thoroughly eclectic combination of spiritual exercises drawing from Western European ceremonial magical traditions as practiced in the nineteenth-century Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Crowley also pioneered in his inclusion of Indic sources for the parallel disciplines of meditation and yoga. The summa of this journey of self-liberation was harnessing the power of sexuality as a magical discipline, an instance of the “sacrilization of the self” as practiced in his co-masonic magical group, the Ordo Templi Orientis. The religion Crowley created, Thelema, legitimated his role as a charismatic revelator and herald of a new age of freedom under the law of “Do what thou wilt.”

The influence of Aleister Crowley is not only to be found in contemporary esotericism-he was, for instance, a major influence on Gerald Gardner and the modern witchcraft movement-but can also be seen in the counter-culture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and in many forms of alternative spirituality and popular culture. This anthology, which features essays by leading scholars of Western esotericism across a wide array of disciplines, provides much-needed insight into Crowley’s critical role in the study of western esotericism, new religious movements, and sexuality.” [via]

“Foreword – Wouter J. Hanegraaff
1. Introduction – Henrik Bogdan and Martin P. Starr
2. The Sorcerer and His Apprentice: Aleister Crowley and the Magical Exploration of Edwardian Subjectivity – Alex Owen
3. Varieties of Magical Experience: Aleister Crowley’s Views on Occult Practice – Marco Pasi
4. Envisioning the Birth of a New Aeon: Dispensationalism and Millenarianism in the Thelemic Tradition – Henrik Bogdan
5. The Great Beast as a Tantric hero: The Role of Yoga and Tantra in Aleister Crowley’s Magick – Gordan Djurdjevic
6. Continuing Knowledge from Generation unto Generation: The Social and Literary Background of Aleister Crowley’s Magick – Richard Kaczynski
7. Aleister Crowley and the Yezidis – Tobias Churton
8. The Frenzied Beast: The Phaedran Furores in the Rites and Writings of Aleister Crowley – Matthew D. Rogers
9. Aleister Crowley: Freemason! – Martin P. Starr
10. “The One Thought that was not Untrue”: Aleister Crowley and A. E. Waite – Robert R. Gilbert
11. The Beast and the Prophet: Aleister Crowley’s Fascination with Joseph Smith – Massimo Introvigne
12. Crowley and Wicca – Ronald Hutton
13. Through the Witch’s Looking Glass: The Magick of Aleister Crowley and the Witchcraft of Rosaleen Norton – Keith Richmond
14. The Occult Roots of Scientology? L. Ron Hubbard, Aleister Crowley and the Origins of the World’s Most Controversial New Religion – Hugh Urban
15. Satan and the Beast. The Influence of Aleister Crowley on Modern Satanism – Asbjorn Dyrendal” [via]

The Deeper Symbolism of Freemasonry from The Meaning of Masonry by Walter Leslie Wilmshurst.

“Tis scarcely true that souls come naked down
To take abode up in this earthly town,
Or naked pass, of all they wear denied.
We enter slipshod and with clothes awry,
And we take with us much that by-and-by
May prove no easy task to put aside.
Cleanse, therefore, that which round about us clings,
We pray Thee, Master, ere Thy sacred halls
We enter. Strip us of redundant things,
And meetly clothe us in pontificals.
[Strange Houses of Sleep by A. E. Waite.]” [via]

Waite’s Second Tarot Deck—An Incredible Discovery

Via Mary K Greer’s Tarot Blog, a rediscovered Waite tarot deck:

“Tali Goodwin of Tarot Professionals and the blog Tarot Speakeasy, through extensive research, has discovered the ORIGINAL Waite-Trinick images that comprised a tarot deck conceptualized by A.E. Waite for the private use of members of his Fellowship of the Rosy Cross.”

“Tali and Marcus were able to view and photograph the beautiful and enigmatic original paintings and have agreed with the owners to bring out a book (in color and b&w) of the major twenty-two images with full commentary prior to Christmas 2011.”

“Tarot Professionals will be hosting a funding drive—live on Indigogo to ask for assistance towards publication. As they want to make these remarkable images—and the biggest discovery in Tarot this century—available to everyone.”