Tag Archives: Arthur Edward Waite

The Ruby Tablet Vol 1 No 4

The fourth number of The Ruby Tablet is now available. The Ruby Tablet is a periodical compiled and edited by Darcy Kuntz, under the auspices of the Golden Dawn Research Trust, which may be of some interest. So, check it out and consider helping with a donation to keep new issues of this periodical coming.

The Ruby Tablet is a periodical featuring reprints of articles from esoteric magazines and journals from the past. The subjects covered in each issue are drawn from the esoteric genre such as Alchemy, Hermetic, Enochian, Kabbalah, Tarot, Martinism, Masonry, Rosicrucian, etc.

Download Vol. I. No. 4

Contents:

Time and Space by W. Wynn Westcott
Letter of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin
Ultra-Neptunian Planets
Golden Dawn Research Trust
History & Development of Magical Weapons: Wands by John Kelly
Skylight Press
From Khartoum to the Source of the Nile: An Interview of Dr. Robert W. Felkin
The Ten Categores of Existence
Kerubim Press
The Holy Grail by A.E. Waite
Spiritual Quotes No. I
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Books
Shem Hamphoresh; or the Divine Name I.H.V.H. by Nurho de Manhar
Rosicrucian Order of the Golden Dawn
An Outline of a Preliminary Ceremony Connected with the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram by Ithell Colquhoun
The Society of the Rosicrucians: A Rough Sketch of their Fundamental Doctrines” [via]

 

 

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We know that on some summit, far away

We know that on some summit, far away

Within the Soul, a beacon-light uplifted

Makes on the mountains round eternal day;

By its bright beams the clouds beneath are rifted,

And for awhile is glorified the grey

Life-sea, whereon so long mankind hath drifted;

That single will oft new strength create,

And then the Spirit conquers time and fate.

 

To all at times these golden glimpses come;

The clouds roll back; the deep, supernal blue

Is arch’d above those mountains like a dome;

The revelation of the great and true

Comes with those glimpses from the Soul’s far home,

And the Soul knows her lineage and her due;

But most have striven to reach the source in vain

Whence come those beams, or bid their flash remain.

 

Yet for life’s fever and the mind’s disease

The only refuge for the world is there;

Before they reach it none can taste of ease,

There all are sphered beyond the range of care;

Wrecks toss’d in scorn upon the scourging seas,

Our sails are set to find a haven fair,

But, from those mountains shrinking, still we strive,

And drift for ever where the winds my drive.

 

We dream of islands lapp’d in amber light,

Of pleasant groves and wilding woodland bowers,

Where morn unclouded follows starry night,

And starry night on evening’s pensive hours;

We see no beauty in the frowning height—

That awful altitude the mind o’erpowers;

Yet the Soul’s home is in its purer air;

Soul-glory, majesty, and might are there.

 

But there are many, could they see their way,

Who would the summit by their toil attain,

Who not in vain would pour their lives away,

Achieving conquests for their brethren’s gain;

But whom doubt weakens, who in tears delay,

And contemplate life’s spectacle of pain;

Who to do something yearn, yet pause and ask

Some high encitement to so hard a task.

 

And therefore have we written, O man, for thee

The book that follows, here its plan proclaim—

Help for thy Soul—help that the soul may see

In evil days her best, her noblest aim,

And ever faithful to that end may be,

Though faith should fail, though truth her hope disclaim.

And, ‘mid the general lapse from light, may find

No impulse left for the exalted mind!

 

What inspiration from the heaven came down

To fill the brain? What angel bade us write?

Oh, in the green fields, in the crowded town,

And in the sunshine or the starry night,

Those thoughts descended which in Soul are sown,

And ripen’d in us, as the flowers in light—

Their strength supports us, from the ample store

We scatter; may they number more and more!

 

Oh, may this book, by our own heart created,

Be life in all to whom its dream is told—

To draw the world up God’s steep path be fated,

Till all the splendid prospect shall behold,

And on those heights all Souls be reinstated,

From which perchance they lapsed in days of old;

Or those attain whose altitude till then,

Though dimly dream’d, was never known by men!

— A E Waite, “Proem” from Azoth, or the Star in the East

 

The Hermetic Library arts and letters pool is a project to publish poetry, prose and art that is inspired by or manifests the Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to submit your work for consideration as part of the Arts and Letters pool, contact the librarian.

From Black Magic and Mysticism to Serpent Gods and Voodoo

You may be interested in Weiser Antiquarian Book Catalogue #107: From Black Magic and Mysticism to Serpent Gods and Voodoo.

“The catalogue starts with signed copies of a recent book that has caused evoked quite some excitement amongst those interested in Hermetica, Occult Traditions by Damon Zacharias Lycourinos. This is followed by the usual eclectic mix of recent arrivals. Amongst the more unsual items are a Charming Eighteenth Century Manuscript Copy of the work of parlour divination that was published under the title Pratique Curieuse, ou les Oracles des Sibylles, sur Chaque Question Proposée in 1694; one of the final nineteenth century revised editions of Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal (but published anonymousyly under the title Dictionnaire des Sciences Occulte (1846/1848 & 1852); an inscribed copy of George Frederick Kunz’s richly illustrated study of the myth and lore of jewels, gems and stones, and their religious, magical and talismanic use: The Magic of Jewels and Charms; a superb copy of Jean Philippe Vogel’s handsome study of the divine or deified serpents (Nagas) whose presence permeates Hindu and Buddhist lore, Indian Serpent-Lore, or the Nagas in Hindu Legend and Art (1926) and a signed first edition of Arthur Edward Waite’s Strange Houses of Sleep, a book on which Arthur Machen collaborated. There is also a good selection of works on magick, including an internally clean – but externally rather rough (and priced accordingly) first edition of Austin Osman Spare’s The Book of Pleasure (Self-Love) The Psychology of Ecstasy, 1913; the second and best edition of Arthur Edward Waite translation of Éliphas Lévi’s The History of Magic. Including a Clear and Precise Exposition of its Procedures, its Rites and its Mysteries, 1922, and his The Mysteries of Magic: A Digest of the Writings of Éliphas Lévi (Second Edition) 1897; signed limited editions of Mark Alan Smith’s Queen of Hell and The Red King; E. A. Koetting’s three volumes: Evoking Eternity, Works of Darkness and Baneful Magick. “Groupings” of books include a collection of the magnificent Watkins edition of works by and about Jacob Boehme, a group of Grimoires and other works published by the “International Guild of Occult Sciences”, and a selection of works on Daoist Magic by Jerry Alan Johnson. Other works of note include Robert Surieu’s superbly illustrated study of the erotic in ancient Persian art Sarv-E Naz: An Essay on Love and the Representation of Erotic Themes in Ancient Iran (1967); the leather-bound Antonine Publishing / Golden Dragon Press edition of Meric Casaubon’s A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between Dr. John Dee …. and Some Spirits …. (1974) and a rare 1967 limited edition printing of S. L. MacGregor Mathers’ The Secret Workings of the Golden Dawn Book “T”, the Tarot; to name but a few. ” [via]

The Greater Trumps

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams:

Charles Williams' The Greater Trumps

 

The Greater Trumps is one of Charles Williams’ cycle of occult fantasy novels, and this is the one that foregrounds the tarot. I found it less engaging than War in Heaven or Many Dimensions. It has a few interesting visionary episodes, but the characters are fairly static, and the plot, although conveying a real sense of distress, neither excites nor illuminates the reader. The book will be most enjoyable to those with some prior orientation to tarot symbolism, and in particular a knowledge of the central images of the trump series. But such readers should not assume that their own understanding of the tarot informs this novel.

Williams is said to have been an initiate of the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, a Christian magical order descended from A.E. Waite’s Golden Dawn schism. It was a little surprising to me that the tarot symbolism in his book departs so far from the system of correspondences developed in the Golden Dawn. There is no use of Tetragrammaton as a key to the minor suits, and the element of Fire is attributed to Swords, while Air is assigned to Wands, in the manner of Gardnerian Witchcraft. The particular “Greater Trumps” of the novel are the usual array, but numbered in an unaccustomed sequence: Empress before High Priestess, and Emperor before Hierophant; Hermit numbered VIII, Temperance IX, Fortitude X, Fortune XII, and Death XIV.

This edition of The Greater Trumps carries a foreword by american writer William Lindsay Gresham, who lionizes Waite as THE great authority on tarot. While one might (I would) dispute such an award, it is fitting in reflections on the work of Williams, for whom Waite was certainly more important and useful than any of the competing figures of modern occultism. [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.

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, ed. Henrik Bogdan and Martin P Starr, from Oxford University Press:

Henrik Brogdan and Martin P Starr's Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism from Oxford University Press

 

Oxford University Press has published a groundbreaking collection of academic studies concerning Aleister Crowley and his place in modern intellectual and religious history. The component chapters of Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism had been written at various points in the last twenty years, and taken together they demonstrate the considerable breadth of relevant subject matter.

The Alex Owen chapter that follows the editors’ introduction is an earlier version of a paper that was eventually incorporated into her constructive monograph The Place of Enchantment, which provides a revisionary perspective on modern occultism. In this version, she seems to be at lesser pains to make Crowley out to be a villain against liberal ethics, but she has the same uninformed regard for his later career, using one or two references to conclude that he was broken and failed after his Algerian operations of 1909. The simple fact is that his most enduring and successful work was done after that: writing Magick in Theory and Practice, reforming O.T.O., designing the Thoth Tarot, and so on.

Marco Pasi provides a valuable primer for academic readers regarding Crowley’s ideas about magic and mysticism, elucidating a tension between the materialist theorizing of Crowley’s early work and the more metaphysical concessions of the fully-initiated Beast. Pasi rightly distinguishes between the Cairo Operation of 1904 and the subsequent attainment of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel that Crowley claimed in 1906, observing that the identification of Aiwass as Crowley’s personal genius was a later development. He errs, however, in speculating that the equivalence was formulated as late as the writing of Magick in Theory and Practice in the 1920s. In fact, it is a feature of Crowley’s 1909 vision of the Eighth Aire in The Vision and the Voice.

Volume editor Henrik Bogdan’s contribution is a solid paper that fills a lacuna in the literature on Thelema by pointing out the positive contribution of the Plymouth Brethren dispensationalist doctrine to Crowley’s idea of magical aeons. While acknowledging the contemporaneity of occultist “new age” concepts (contrasted as largely pacifist vis-a-vis the martial Aeon of Horus), Bogdan does neglect to point out the important symbolic grounding of Crowley’s hierohistory in the Golden Dawn Equinox ceremony. (For that in detail, see my web-published essay “Aeons Beyond the Three“.)

Gordan Djurdjevic’s paper presents “Aleister Crowley as Tantric Hero” in a morphological, rather than a genealogical sense, stressing the notion of functional parallel between Thelema and Tantra. He makes a sound point about the confusion over Crowley’s Tantric bona fides originating in the secondary materials of biographers and students, rather than Crowley’s own claims. But he fails to address the younger Crowley’s derision of Tantra (“follies of Vamacharya [debauchery]” in The Equinox), and omits to observe that while the older Beast claimed to have studied “numerous writings on the Tantra,” he conscientiously referred aspirant Kenneth Grant to David Curwen for sounder Tantric instruction than the Prophet of Thelema could supply.

In Richard Kaczynski’s chapter, the heroically thorough Crowley biographer provides a somewhat exhaustive exposition of a specific range of Crowley’s own sources, presenting Crowley as a synthesist of Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and phallicist theory of religion. These are certainly the ingredients that most saliently inform the O.T.O., and thus Crowley’s social/institutional legacy, and this chapter amounts first and foremost to a bibliographically-dense essay useful to readers interested in understanding precedents for Crowley’s work with O.T.O.

The Tobias Churton piece on “Aleister Crowley and the Yezidis” is admittedly speculative and conjectural, and terribly sloppy even so. Churton recklessly juggles the historical Crowley with the “‘Aleister Crowley’ of popular imagination,” while his comparisons to Yezidism are nearly all in the subjunctive. The paper goes from bad to worse as Churton provides a long concatenation of mixed-together quotes from Thelemic and Yezidi source material, distinguished from each other only in the endnotes! And then in a big wrapup, he writes like an episode of Ancient Aliens, letting loose a stream of absurd hypotheses in the form of questions (e.g. “Are Yezidis prototypes, or long-lost cousins, of Thelemites? … Was Crowley a Yezidi Prophet?”), and bashfully disdaining to answer them. As an “alternative history” video host might say: “Could these things be true??? The answer is: yes.” But they probably aren’t.

The “Frenzied Beast” paper by Matthew Rogers is excellent, but too short. The author’s conspicuous good looks are absent from the printed page, and the article would have been improved by adding further materials on Crowley’s orientation toward Neoplatonism. In particular, the augoeides doctrine in Crowley’s works should have been given more exposure in connection with the source material in Iamblichus, and there should have been a comparison of “astral travel” in Crowley’s modern occultism with its classical antecedents. Rogers is obviously aware of these features, and if he had known how long it would take this book to get to press, he probably would have expanded the scope of his paper to address them in greater detail.

Martin Starr’s chapter was first written for the prestigious Masonic research journal Ars Quatuor Coronati, and in it he attempts to explain Crowley’s relations with Freemasonry (originally to an audience composed of Masons who jealously assume the priviledged status of the United Grand Lodge of England and the “regular” bodies in its network of recognition). The chapter certainly presents a credible narrative to account for the development of Crowley’s distaste for and derision of Freemasonry. Since its original publication in 1995 however, this paper’s judgment of Crowley’s Masonic standing has received a considered rebuttal from David R. Jones, who also explains some of the technical terminology of Masonic organizing that Starr’s piece takes for granted. The relevant features of Crowley’s American period have been fleshed out in Kaczynski’s Panic in Detroit: The Magician and the Motor City.

The real opinions and motives in the relationship between Aleister Crowley and Arthur Edward Waite are a considerable enigma, and the chapter by Robert A. Gilbert provides as complete a picture of their interactions as one could reasonably expect on the basis of the surviving evidence, which makes for very interesting reading. Unfortunately, the closing paragraphs expose Gilbert’s hostility toward Crowley, offering condemnation in a nonsensical comparison with Waite. Supposedly, Waite left (in his writings?) a real means of attainment to later generations, while Crowley did not. And Gilbert derides the contemporary O.T.O. in terms that have had debatable applicability in earlier decades, but are certainly false now. Or is Gilbert here tipping his hand as an exponent for some survival of Waite’s Christianized “Holy Order of the Golden Dawn”? In the end, the matter is no clearer than the true sentiments of the dead occultists.

In another of the collection’s older papers, Massimo Introvigne offers a few startling errors about Crowley (e.g. claims that Crowley hated his father, that Leah Hirsig was his first Scarlet Woman), but none of them have much bearing on his fascinating central topic of Crowley’s admiration for Joseph Smith and Mormonism. Of the various papers in the volume, this is one of those which touches most directly on a larger theoretical issue of scholarship, in exploring the distinction between religion and magic in the inspiring and organizing of new sects. Sadly, Introvigne simply assumes the “magic” character (by his own definitions) of the revelation of Liber AL vel Legis, without any actual inquiry into or discussion of the Cairo working. In this chapter, Crowley ultimately serves as a hostile witness for the defense in an effort to exonerate Mormonism against accusations of having a magical basis. Not that Crowley was hostile to (his own notion of) Mormonism, but he would have wanted to see it convicted of magick!

In Ronald Hutton’s book The Triumph of the Moon (2000) he provided in one chapter what was at that time the most fair and thorough study of Crowley’s influence on the origins of modern religious witchcraft. His chapter here does not merely rehash that material, but updates it with new findings and perspectives. Unlike Introvigne, Hutton does perceive the properly religious character of Crowley’s 1904 revelation and consequent activities. However, he wants to dismiss the religious dimension of Thelema on the (somewhat justifiable) basis of the magical-rather-than-religious orientation of many latter-day Thelemites. It is an understandable position for him, in defense of his slogan touting Wicca as “the only fully formed religion that England has ever given the world.” (In light of the patently and confessedly religious nature of O.T.O., I would suggest a different gambit to Hutton: The revelation in Cairo to the globe-trotting adventurer Crowley, the German roots of O.T.O., and the subsequent formation of the first durable Thelemic communities outside of Britain indicates that Thelema isn’t so much a product of “England” as it is an inherently intercultural, cosmopolitan synthesis.) As in The Triumph of the Moon, Hutton is here focused on English witchcraft, especially as formulated by Gerald Gardner. He consequently gives no attention to the witcheries of American Jack Parsons and Australian Rosaleen Norton, both strongly influenced by Crowley themselves, and not via Gardner’s work.

The case of Norton is taken up in a study by Keith Richmond, who does her full justice. Adding nothing substantial to the reader’s knowledge of Crowley, Richmond instead illuminates Norton’s regard for and understanding of Crowley. She seems to have been friendlier to Crowley’s work in private than in public, which is understandable, in that she had no need to borrow notoriety!

Hugh Urban’s chapter treats Crowley’s possible influence on L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. Urban does some contextual violence to various Crowley quotes from Magick in Theory and Practice, but his readings may be consistent with the way Hubbard approached the material, so for immediate purposes there’s not much point in arguing about them. The chapter’s thesis is the conclusion that any dispassionate observer should reach: Hubbard was influenced by Crowley, but Scientology incorporates so many other elements — some others of which have come to predominate while the ones rooted in magick have faded — that it would be false to simply view it as some sort of crypto-Thelema.

The final chapter, contributed by Asbjørn Dyrendal, is an assessment of Crowley’s influence on two of the seminal organizers of contemporary Satanism: Anton LaVey and Michael Aquino, of the Church of Satan and Temple of Set respectively. Although there is a little confusion of the distinct notions of “black magic” and the “Black Brotherhood” in Crowley’s work, this examination is conducted with great care and accuracy on the whole, pointing out both debts to Crowley and explicit rejections by Satanists of some of his teachings. It is interesting to contrast the Satanists’ criticisms of Crowley with Urban’s appraisals of him, since they come to such different conclusions. (While I differ with their ultimate valuations, I think the Satanists are more accurate here.) Although Dyrendal touches briefly on LaVey’s successor Peter Gilmore, he keeps the discussion very focused on the two Satanist founder figures, and it would have been interesting to bring in some of Don Webb’s outspoken opinions on Crowley, for example (he wrote a short monograph called Aleister Crowley: The Fire and the Force), thus demonstrating Crowley’s direct effects on the enduring Satanist milieu.

With a few minor exceptions, the level of scholarship in this volume is impressive. More than that, the papers tend to be lively and challenging reading. As Wouter Hanegraaff points out in his foreword, the caricature of Crowley as a quasi-medieval Doctor Faustus conceals a figure who is quintessentially modern, and to give the Beast his third dimension places him in the same space that the reader inhabits. [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.