James Wasserman is the founder of the Ordo Templi Orientis’ (O.T.O.) NYC Tahuti Lodge and one of the foremost practitioners of the magical system of Aleister Crowley. His most recent book is In the Center of the Fire: A Memoir of the Occult 1966-1989, which chronicles the occult scene in New York City in the 1970s and ’80s. In this segment, Wasserman describes the process of invocation — the identification of oneself with a deity or archetype — in reference to the gods, Pan and Tahuti.
Jesus Potter Harry Christ: The Fascinating Parallels Between Two of the World’s Most Popular Literary Characters by Derek Murphy is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
The promotional text is a bit of entertaining circus barkery, but I picked this up for the Reading Room because the author used the Hermetic Library’s ad network, it caught my eye, and it looked interesting enough. I have to admit, for me personally, one of my least favourite parts of the Potter series was how very annoyingly Christian the mythos seemed to become in the end. (I have my own preferred ending that involved Harry truly dying to take the last horcrux with him, and Neville becoming the true hero.) The archetype of the orphan, the Hephaestus/Vulcan myth, is really strikingly strong in Western culture, and I railed against the orphan archetype previously. The Christ story really does seem to me to fit this overwrought literary trope as well as the Dying God myth to which it is often linked, but, all in all, this could be another entertaining summer read.
“A controversy over the historical Jesus has been raging for 2,000 years.
A century ago, biblical criticism had revealed Jesus Christ to be almost entirely based on pre-existing mythology. Since then, conservative biblical scholars have regained the discipline and convinced the world that — whatever else Jesus Christ was, he was undoubtedly historical.
Do you believe in the historical Jesus? Confirmation of your beliefs is as near as the local bookstore, where you can easily find several dozen books defending Jesus Christ, the physical man.
Do you think Jesus was mostly a mythological construct? You’ll find ample support for your beliefs in the dozens of other books a few feet over, that argue Jesus never existed at all.
The only way to get past this apparent dead-end of stagnant dogma and repetition, is to examine the roots of the controversy itself — to go beyond the evidence and focus on the underlying issues. Jesus Potter Harry Christ identifies the similarities between Jesus and Harry, to demonstrate that both J.K. Rowling’s magical series and the biblical gospels are literary fiction based ancient mythology and astrological symbolism.
Discover the secrets that biblical scholars don’t want you to know
What the experts are saying
‘For those whose minds can ask questions freely without the enforcement of dogma, Derek Murphy raises a genuine argument which Christian apologists have no answers to besides merely repeating their dogmatic convictions in the hope that re-asserting the dogma will confirm it as truth.’ —John Thomas Didymus, Goddiscussion.com
‘Whether or not one agrees with Murphy’s ultimate position, and whether or not one agrees with his arguments that Jesus was entirely (rather than mostly) mythic, Jesus Potter Harry Christ is well worth wading through, and wade through it one must, simply because of the sheer mass and volume of evidence the author provides. Make this a book whose pages you dog-ear for further reference and second readings.’ —Tim Callahan, Skeptic magazine’s religion editor and author of the books Bible Prophecy and The Secret Origins of the Bible
‘Murphy sifts through various mystery religions and myths of a dying and resurrecting god, and their possible influence upon the Gospel story. For once, it’s done tastefully and without sensationalism. Maybe you’ve read works by Freke, Doherty, and Harpur. Without trying to foist a Gnostic version of Christianity on me, and without succumbing to overzealous scholarship, Murphy gently yet forcefully introduces the strong similarities between Christianity and other first-century religious philosophies and mystery cults, concluding in the strong likelihood that Jesus was a mythical savior.’ —Lee Harmon, author of Revelation: The Way it Happened
‘In the newly-released (and blasphemously-titled) Jesus Potter Harry Christ, Derek Murphy makes the case that J. K. Rowling — the author of the Harry Potter series — achieved her success by tapping into some of the deepest and most ancient longings of the human heart. These same longings, Murphy argues, compelled first-century pagans to construct what he calls “the Jesus myth.” Murphy points to similarities between the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ virgin birth, His passion and His return from the grave with the myths of pagan idols like Isis, Sarapis, Horus and Apollo, Murphy hopes to convince his readers that Jesus — just like the gods of mythology — is fiction. In fact, he believes that Jesus is just an amalgam of history’s best myths.’ —Chuck Colson, Christian leader and cultural commentator”
“LET’S SKIP THE INTRODUCTIONS. You don’t need me to tell you that Jesus Christ and Harry are two of the most famous celebrities in the world, whose stories have been translated into dozens of languages and found international support in diverse cultures. What you may not be aware of, however, is the mysterious, complicated and intriguing relationship between them. For example, did you know that the topics ‘I read Harry Potter and Jesus still loves me,’ ‘Even Jesus reads Harry Potter’ and ‘Harry Potter will return sooner than Jesus’ each have their own Facebook group, or that Wikipedia has a page dedicated to ‘Religious debates over the Harry Potter Series’? Much more remarkable than their respective popularity is the significant tension — and unexpected affinity — between them.
At first glance it may seem that J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard and the crucified Jesus prophet who became the Christian savior have absolutely nothing to do with each other — and yet the unease and sometimes outright animosity between the followers of these two figures suggests otherwise. Harry has been banned, burned, and abused by religious fundamentalists for over a decade. At the release of Rowling’s final book, however, many readers were surprised to discover parallels between Jesus and Harry that, in such apparently diverse world-views, had no right to be there. As a result, recent years have witnessed a revolution in Christian responses to Harry, with many groups, writers and religious leaders praising Rowling’s young sorcerer as ultimately Christian and a clear metaphor for Jesus Christ. And yet the most spine-tingling question has so far been ignored: Why do these similarities exist at all?
Although it is easy to accept that Rowling crafted the literary character of Harry Potter after the figure of Jesus, shouldn’t it pique our interest that Jesus — a monumental figure in modern world religion generally believed to have been historical — has so much in common with the obviously fictional fantasy world and character of Harry Potter? The main distinction, it will be argued, is that Jesus Christ is real: Jesus has traditionally been viewed as a historical figure, while Harry is instantly recognized as fiction. But does this distinction apply to the many seemingly mythical elements in the gospels? Can Jesus’ miracles be separated from Harry’s magic tricks because they really happened — or will we allow that certain features of the gospels were exaggerated or intended to be literary. And if so, where do we stop? What protects Jesus from the claim that he is, like Harry, a fictional character?
This is the starting point of Jesus Potter Harry Christ; an innovative treatise into religious history, comparative mythology, astrological symbolism and contemporary culture. From ancient mystery religions to modern fairy tales, from fictional Hogwarts to the ruins of Jerusalem, Derek Murphy, PhD in Comparative Literature at one of the world’s top universities, zooms in on one crucial question: How do we separate the obviously mythical literature of Jesus Christ from the historical man himself?”
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.
Overthrowing the Old Gods: Aleister Crowley and the Book of the Law by Don Webb, from Inner Traditions, is scheduled to be published on Oct 15, 2013.
“New commentaries on Aleister Crowley’s Book of the Law reveal how it is connected to both Right- and Left-Hand Paths
• Examines each line of the Book of the Law in the light of modern psychology, Egyptology, Gurdjieff’s teachings, and contemporary Left-Hand Path thought
• Explores Crowley’s identification with the First Beast of Revelations as well as his adoption of the Loki archetype for becoming a vessel of love for all humanity
• Recasts the Cairo Working as a text of personal sovereignty and a relevant tool for personal transformation
• Includes commentary on the Book of the Law by Dr. Michael A. Aquino, who served as High Priest of the Temple of Set from 1975 to 1996
Received by Aleister Crowley in April 1904 in Cairo, Egypt, the Book of the Law is the most provocative record of magical working in several hundred years, affecting not only organizations directly associated with Crowley such as the Ordo Templi Orientis but also modern Wicca, Chaos Magic, and the Temple of Set.
Boldly defying Crowley’s warning not to comment on the Book of the Law, Ipsissimus Don Webb provides in-depth interpretation from both Black and White Magical perspectives, including commentary from Dr. Michael A. Aquino, who served as High Priest of the Temple of Set from 1975 to 1996. Webb examines each line of the Book in the light of modern psychology, Egyptology, existentialism, and competing occult systems such as the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff and contemporary Left-Hand Path thought. Discarding the common image of Crowley formulated in a spiritually unsophisticated time when the devotee of the Left-Hand Path was dismissed as a selfish evil doer, Webb unveils a new side of Crowley based on his adoption of the Loki archetype and his aim to become a vessel of love for all humanity. In so doing, he shows how the Book of the Law is connected to both Right- and Left-Hand Paths and reveals how Crowley’s magical path of mastery over the self and Cosmos overthrew the gods of old religion, which had kept humanity asleep to dream the nightmare of history.
Providing in-depth analysis of Crowley’s sources and his self-identification with the First Beast of Revelations from a profound esoteric perspective, Webb takes his views out of the Golden Dawn matrix within which he received the Book of the Law and radically recasts the Cairo Working as a text of personal sovereignty and a relevant tool for personal transformation.” [via]