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The Mysteries of Algiers

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Mysteries of Algiers [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Robert Irwin.

Irwin The Mysteries of Algiers

The Mysteries of Algiers has certain obvious points of intersection with Robert Irwin’s other books: the Westerner involved in espionage in Islamic Africa is like the earlier Arabian Nightmare, and the maniacally ideological protagonist/narrator is akin to the later Exquisite Corpse. In this instance, the anti-hero fanatic is a Marxist revolutionary in French Algeria. 

This one is probably the most violent of the author’s novels that I’ve read. It is also the least overtly mystical. At the same time, Irwin doesn’t miss the opportunity to emphasize the spectral icing on the Marxist cake. The touchstone quote of the volume is Marx from The German Ideology: “The phantoms formed in the human brain are also, necessarily, sublimates of their material life processes, which is empirically verifiable and bound to material premises.” I still hardly understand what that means; what is the antecedent of “which”?

Still, Irwin keeps esoterically-minded readers like me paying attention with little nuggets like tacit quotation of Sufi saint Rabi’a (“The torch is for setting fire to Paradise and the water to extinguish the flames of hell,” 123) and poking fun at the arch-Mahatma of Theosophy (“It is as if Koot Hoomi — some great astral spirit — was dictating nonsense to me,” 138).

I realized while reading this novel that Irwin’s fiction has much in common stylistically with that of Chuck Palahniuk. While American Palahniuk may be more plugged-in to the 21st-century Western zeitgeist, Englishman Irwin definitely has the edge in literary allusion and historical orientation. I wouldn’t call The Mysteries of Algiers one of Irwin’s best, but it’s damned good just the same.

She was silky and sullen and swift and perverse, loving to tease her master with pretended indifference, only to overwhelm him with the greater vehemence at the end, like a cat playing with a mouse. She had all the stealth and self-possession of a cat, moreover; and Cleon thought himself lucky to be beloved of one so skilled in every art of pleasing and exciting.

Mark Wells (Aleister Crowley), The Burning of Melcarth

Hermetic quote Wells Crowley The Burning of Melcarth silky sullen swift perverse loving tease cat mouse self-possession lucky skilled art pleasing exciting

Magick, Music and Ritual 16 cover artwork

Our cover includes art by P Emerson Williams, which was developed alongside the tracks by Choronzon, for this current year in the Thelemic Calendar, An V:vii (2021 e.v.), which represents the docosade of Atu V, the Hierophant and the year of Atu VII, The Chariot. We also have a total of three alternative covers, included with the album download at Bandcamp, that features additional artwork by P Emerson Williams.

Magick Music and Ritual 16 The Hermetic Library Anthology Album for 2021, Sun in Sagittarius, An Vvii

 

There are also three alternate covers, included in the digital download, all with artwork by P Emerson Williams.

Magick Music and Ritual 16 The Hermetic Library Anthology Album for 2021, Sun in Sagittarius, An Vvii, alternate cover 1

Magick Music and Ritual 16 The Hermetic Library Anthology Album for 2021, Sun in Sagittarius, An Vvii, alternate cover 2

Magick Music and Ritual 16 The Hermetic Library Anthology Album for 2021, Sun in Sagittarius, An Vvii, alternate cover 3

 

P. Emerson Williams is a multi-media artist who tests the boundaries between music, art, writing, video and performance of many kinds. He is also the driving force behind Choronzon and Veil Of Thorns, and is half of the core duo behind kkoagulaa. More people listen to the sounds of P. Emerson Williams every day than realize it. The work of P. Emerson Williams takes physical and digital media, genres and modes of performance to strange realms. With Choronzon, Williams straddles the worlds of industrial music and black metal, with Veil of Thorns, electronic dance to dark Americana to pure goth and as a solo artist he blurs the distinction between electronic ambient and stark and strange folk. P. Emerson Williams can often be found adding elements of his sonic alchemy as a spice to projects with Sleep Chamber, Manes and more extensively as half of the creative core of kkoagulaa with cern.th.skei from Manes. Other recent collaborations include playing cello on UK black metal band Ethernal’s latest album, a release with Mark Cunningham and subverting the nature of guitar playing with industrial noise merchants Dead Skull. Audiences got to witness P. Emerson Williams on guitar and vocals with Jarboe in a tour that took them through the US, Western and Eastern Europe and wrapped up in Moscow in 2013 and again in 2016 when an invitation from DARK MOFO brought Jarboe and P. Emerson Williams to Hobart, Tasmania for a special performance on a night that included JG Thirlwell and Chelsea Wolfe.

As a core member of UK theatrical company FoolishPeople, P. Emerson Williams took on many aspects of London productions of The Basement – Ward 12 – in partnership with Secret Cinema, The Providence Experiments – co-produced with Mythos Media, A Red Threatening Sky, The Abattoir Pages – presented with Guerilla Zoo, Cirxus which was produced in collaboration with Arcola Theatre and Terra:Extremitas, performed at Amsterdam’s NDSM-werf. These roles included creating a score for choreographer Johan Stjernholm as part of the production A Red Threatening Sky and a solo musical performance at the famed Horse Hospital in London, the creation of soundscapes, sound design, and scores for every production on which he worked, as well as set and graphic design. On top of all this, Williams was in the cast as both voice and live actor as characters ranging from the demon Choronzon to a half dozen members of a Manchester United message board for the audio production of Forum.

P. Emerson Williams is the host of the Necrofuturist Transmission on Nottingham’s Nightbreed Radio, was the editor and producer for Music Tuesdays on Alterati.com, and art director for Weaponized , the publishing imprint of FoolishPeople. Articles and music reviews by P. Emerson Williams can be read online at Terrorizer.com, Modern Mythology, Disinfo.com and Intravenous Magazine. The visual art pf P. Emerson Williams has graced book covers and interiors for Original Falcon, Weaponized, Night Horse Publishing and Westgate Press, the pages of magazines including Lovecraft eZine, Lackington’s Magazine, Shoreline of Infinity, Diodati, Morpheus Tales, Culture Asylum, Isten ‘zine, Ghastly, and Esoterra , album and CD covers for Rat King, Primordial, Katatonia, SLEEP CHAMBER, Veil of Thorns, Choronzon and kkoagulaa.

P. Emerson Williams illustrated Bedlam Stories – The Battle for Oz and Wonderland Begins, a novel set in the universe of Bedlam Stories, a twisted world of horror created by cult film director Pearry Teo (The Gene Generation, Necromentia, Witchville).

“Given P. Emerson Williams extensive track record of cross-medium and genre art over the past thirty years, it is likely he will become an underground legend. This may have occurred already, yet given his reclusiveness, it’s unlikely he would notice.”—James Curcio, author of Fallen Nation, Join My Cult and The Immanence of Myth

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If you held the belief, child, that I knew everything that hid under every stone and leaf, I must disappoint you. I may have my own understanding of how the art works, sharpened by long years of memory, but I do not know how it will work for you. There is a reason I call magic an art, rather than a science. I might guess, but in guessing too hastily I might influence, or even diminish, your talents—taint you with my predictions.

J Kelley Anderson, Casting Shadows [Amazon]

Hermetic quote Anderson Casting Shadows taint you with my predictions

Such an education in the art of distinguishing between the proper and the improper use of symbols could be inaugurated immediately. Indeed it might have been inaugurated at any time during the last thirty or forty years. And yet children are nowhere taught, in any systematic way, to distinguish true from false, or meaningful from meaningless, statements.

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited [Amazon, Publisher]

Hermetic quote Huxley Revisted true false meaningful meaningless

Magick, Music and Ritual 15 cover artwork

Our cover includes “The Hanged Man”, from the Dream Logic Tarot project, a collaboration by Jay Gidwitz and Anthony Teth for this current year in the Thelemic Calendar, An V:vi (2020 e.v.), which represents the docosade of Atu V, the Hierophant and the year of Atu VI, The Lovers. However, the image itself, as described in the artists’ statements, is Atu XII, The Hanged Man, and was chosen because of our current lives in these plague years. We also have an alternative cover, included with the album download, that features Alchemy Mask by Jay Gidwitz.

 

There is also an alternate cover, included in the digital download. This includes “Alchemy Mask” by Jay Gidwitz.

 

My role in the Dream Logic Tarot team is as a photographer and artist. Anthony Teth brings the occult and astrological firepower. For me, part of the power of the Tarot is Archetypal. Tarot is a potent tool for focus, meditation, and exploring universal truths within the human condition.

The Dream Logic Tarot project provided an opportunity to explore our shared human experience through the existing tarot framework while bringing to it my eclectic interests: surrealism, cybernetics, chaos theory, psychology, antifragility, among others.

The Hanged Man card suggests the ultimate surrender, sacrifice, or suspension in time. I believe this card best applies to the strange limbo and accelerant that was 2020.

COVID-19 appeared. Many of us were told not to go outside, not to go to work. Businesses shut down. Tech companies expanded. We seem both suspended in time, yet the future moved towards us ever more quickly.

The Hanged Man suggests the breaking of old patterns, circumspection, letting go, metamorphosis, suspension. When reversed, the Hanged Man card indicates egotism, inability to change, and missed opportunities. For me, this was 2020.

Hermetic Library Anthology Artist Jay Gidwitz

Jay Gidwitz uses photographic, digital, and traditional techniques to create his imagery, working at the intersection of art and emerging technologies. Inspired as much by the Symbolist’s, Surrealists, and Visionary Art as he is by digital art, Gidwitz brings a painterly touch to his digital work.

After graduating Chicago’s School of Representational Art in classical drawing and painting, Jay went on to receive his B.A. in Visual Art at Brown University where he focused on photography, digital art, web design, digital media.

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The Hanged Man is a card of tribulations. In readings, it tends to represent situations of discomfort, awkwardness, deprivation, severe discipline, extreme stress, general pain, and occasional terror. It also represents one’s ability to transcend all of these troublesome obstacles with generous helpings of grace, brilliance, and self-reflection. However, like in many parts of life, the proverbial gain can only happen post-pain. Side-stepping the trials in question (sometimes well-known and purposefully evaded) nullifies their eventual benefits as well.

Qabalistically speaking, the Hanged Man represents the path of Mem or Water, stretching between the sphere of might and severity (Geburah) and the sphere of intellectual splendor (Hod). Thus, it is sometimes viewed as the path which transmutes the harsh, offbeat and staccato energy of Martial Geburah into the cerebral alacrity of Mercurial Hod.

Water is important in this transition for various reasons, and not merely because its most common glyph in the Western mystical traditions happens to be an inverted Fire triangle. Water’s ability to move and flow, as well as its ability to conform to any sealed container certainly springs to mind. Also emblazoned is the idea that one can only truly ‘dive into’ the unknown. Pawing around its edges gets us nowhere.

Going deeper, water signifies our core emotions, the mirrors of self-reflection, and the vast expanse of consciousness within us all. Embracing these regularly passive parts of ourselves when faced with some of our most difficult life challenges allows us to tap into the limitless wellsprings of inner power usually lost to us, giving us an unseen edge no matter how dire the circumstances.

Hermetic Library Anthology Artist Anthony Teth

A Rhode Island native, Anthony Teth grew up wandering and learning from New England’s eldritch woods, shadowy alleyways, and history-laden haunts. A regular bouncer and bartender around Providence for over two decades, he also worked construction, earned a history degree, helped (re)launch and organize a few NecronomiCons, studied with ritualists and herbalists in secretive mystical orders, toured the US and Europe as a heavy metal musician, and wrote and edited copy for The Witches’ Almanac.

Obsessed with all things natural and magical since childhood, Teth recently took over ownership of Alchemy Works, an online shop that allows him to spend his days (and nights) keeping up with his esoteric studies and hand-blending mystical oils and incenses for other practicing occultists, witches, magicians, and spiritual seekers. In addition, Teth sometimes hosts lectures and teaches classes on Occult History and Ritual Magic. A frequent hiker, if you can’t find him in his shop/ritual space, he’s probably out harvesting herbs in a forgotten swamp or photographing a crumbling graveyard somewhere.

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Mercury

Skee Goedhart Mercury Winged Angel Goddess

Mercury by Skee Goedhart is a colorful, dimensional fiberglass art piece with esoteric symbolism from The Key of Solomon.

‘Mercury’
48″ x 60″
acrylic and gold leaf on fiberglass
(2001)

This amazing, one of a kind art work is a dimensional painting. It hangs on the wall but rises out more than 8 inches from it in certain places. Then entire image was created out of a single piece of fiberglass. It weighs over 65 pounds.

THE MARKINGS OF ‘MERCURY’:

On The Left Hand: The Third Pentacle of Mercury.
This and the following serve to invoke the Spirits subject unto Mercury; and especially those who are written in this Pentacle; Kokaviel, Ghedoriah, Savaniah and Chokmahiel.

On The Right Hand: The Fourth Pentacle of Mercury.
This is further proper to acquire the understanding and Knowledge of all things created and seek out and penetrate into hidden things; and to command those Spirits which are called Allatori to perform embassies. They obey very readily.

This series of work was produced in the late 90’s, early 2000. The creation of these pieces was extremely complex. Semi-full body castings were taken of live models using dental alginate. Liquid plasticine was poured into the negative alginate molds. When hardened these plasticine parts were assembled upon a large sheet of Mylar and additional elements were added (i.e. wings and headpieces). A 5 inch thick layer of silicone was then poured over the entire image, creating a final, negative mold. Liquid and gauze fiberglass was then placed into the silicone mold giving me the final product. From each silicone ‘mother mold’ I was usually able to create 3 – 4 pieces before the mold fell apart. The final, fiberglass casting was then painted (acrylic, oil, enamel and gold leaf).

For additional interesting information about this art, including about the model and additional images, go to the page about this piece. For more by this artist, head over to Skee Goedhart Fine Art.

Magick, Music and Ritual 14 cover artwork

The cover for this 2018 issue includes the work “Babalon” by Luciana Lupe Vasconcelos, for this current year count Anno Viv, which can be represented by, and thus can be seen as having correspondence to, a combination of both Atu V, the Hierophant, and Atu IV, the Emperor. For me this cover is a compelling image that reflects key themes related to the library, including those of ritual, worship, eucharist, and, of course, Babalon.

Magick Music and Ritual 14 The Hermetic Library Anthology Album 2018 Babalon cover

 

There’s also an alternate cover, included in the digital download. This alternate cover includes “The Beast of Great Desire” by Luciana Lupe Vasconcelos. I have thoughts that include Goetic entities and Assyrian lamassu arise from this visual.

Magick Music and Ritual 14 The Hermetic Library Anthology Album 2018 alternate Beast of Great Desire cover

 

Luciana Lupe Vasconcelos, or just Lupe, is a Brazilian artist and illustrator born in the middle-western town of Goiânia in 1982. Drawing compulsively since early childhood, she developed through time and practice a strong sensibility for linework. Mysterious, fluid and dark, her art plunges on the realms of the mythical, mystical and occult. Ink is her medium par excellence, but she doesn’t shy away from other materials, notedly tempera gouache and acrylics. Her visual influences include ancient art from various cultures, medieval art, painters from the renaissance and baroque, symbolism, illustrators from the Golden Age, surrealism and the US east coast art scene from the mid 20th century, particularly the circle of Marjorie Cameron and Wallace Berman. She currently resides in the mountain town of Teresopolis.

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Magick, Music and Ritual 13 cover artwork

The “Graces” cover for this 2017 issue includes “The Three Graces, minus one” by Laura Dear, for this current year count Anno Viii, which can be represented by, and thus can be seen as having correspondence to, a combination of both Atu V, the Hierophant, and Atu III, the Empress. For me this is a compelling cover with both digital and classical themes, reflecting the nature of the library; but also brings to mind thoughts about identity, gender, disappearing, glitching, and graces as archetypes.

Magick Music and Ritual 13 Graces cover

I once had an instructor during my college years who told me something to the affect of “An artist’s job is not to create something new, but to take what’s already there and find new ways to look it over.” When considering several different sculptures of the Three Graces, I started to notice the common form of groupings. Two of the three always seemed to end up just a bit closer, just a bit more intimate than the third individual. Considering this, I wanted to create something that explored the gap that forms between the two and the one. I wanted to consider the breadth of distance and words that might exist within that space and what story it could possibly tell.

With the digital aspects of the work, I wanted to contrast the idea of the Graces as a modern relevant concept as opposed to an ancient artifact. My work has been heavily influenced by its digital qualities and I have strove to highlight them rather than attempt to hide them. It was my hope that this portrayal would give the impression of a loss or corruption of data, of the missing sister in the group, or the artifacts of a lost connection.

 

For the first time, there’s also an alternate cover, included in the digital download. The “Snow” cover includes “The Circle” by Laura Dear. This alternate cover has a kind of Stranger Things / Witch, with maybe a little bit of Let The Right One In, vibe for me.

Magick Music and Ritual 13 Snow alternate cover

The woods have always been a very personal place to me. It’s where I had adventures with friends as a child, and where I first had the chance to really explore any part of the world on my own. Years later as an adult, the woods were where I went to find myself, to reflect internally and grow.

It was also here that I was first introduced to Magic with a K, and had my eyes opened to a part of the world I had no idea was there. In the woods I first felt energy as a present thing, and learned to quiet myself and allow myself to exist as one part of the unified whole around me.

As it is, the woods are something of a place of the soul for me, of the subconscious. In this piece I wanted to show those woods in the winter of their life, with the individual, the explorer, coming across a jarring vision of the past. Amidst a snowstorm there is an abrupt emerald glade, where a circle of witches are seen mid-ritual. I wanted this piece to be about self reflection, like a flashlight in the dark illuminating an old box of keepsakes, memories from greener times.

 

Laura Dear is a fairly new occultist living quietly in the bible belt state of Arkansas. Before this chapter of her life, she has been working as a digital artist. Dabbling into everything from illustration to video editing and production. With her work as a practitioner, she’s explored sigils, psionics, crystal and other earth based craft.

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