The shimmer of it took after the moon itself, hard and without poetry, stuck in the orbit of the thoughtless earth like a California pearl.
Catherynne M Valente, Six-Gun Snow White
The shimmer of it took after the moon itself, hard and without poetry, stuck in the orbit of the thoughtless earth like a California pearl.
Catherynne M Valente, Six-Gun Snow White
Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Middle-Class Blacks in a White Society: Prince Hall Freemasonry in America by William Alan Muraskin.
This sociological approach to Prince Hall Freemasonry contains a lot of fascinating data and some even-handed evaluations. The author faults previous studies of the American “black middle class” for actually confining their observations to the black elite. He then makes a convincing case that, for his purposes, members of the Prince Hall Masonic bodies can all be considered “middle class.” While not all middle class blacks would necessarily be Masons, by taking Prince Hall Masons as an identifiable bourgeoisie within American society, Muraskin considerably expands the middle-class black population to be considered in his study.
The historical information alone, while sometimes anecdotal in structure, is of excellent value. Particular attention is devoted to Prince Hall Masonry in California, Texas, Illinois, New York and Georgia. The author very effectively debunks academic misconceptions about Masonry as a primarily rural organization, or as an antiquated society in decline. He outlines both the virtues and ambitions common to Prince Hall Masonic bodies, as well as their special challenges and shortcomings.
As an initiate of the Order myself, I found this book to be a lucid look at the “big picture” of Prince Hall Masonry, from an objective yet sympathetic outside researcher of the subject. [via]
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
“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 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.”
“‘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.'”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Queen of Conjure, sacred Marie LaVeau. Her tomb needs restoration. Donate at http://www.saveourcemeteries.org“
“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.”
“[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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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]
“Zeus became a swan, a bull, a satyr, gold, for love of
Leda, Europa, Antiope, Danaë.”
“Some in the ancient world might have interpreted the act of weeping as evidence that Jesus was not God.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“‘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.”
“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.”
“[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. …”
“Perhaps we should re-evaluate what we think was the state of science in Antiquity”
“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!'”
Enchanted Feminism: Ritual, Gender and Divinity Among the Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco by Jone Salomonsen, part of the Religion and Gender series, the 2002 first edition paperback from Routledge, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“Many today feel the need to restore a magical, spiritual ground to human existence. One of the most visible responses to this need has been the rise of contemporary pagan Witchcraft, and one of its most interesting voices, Reclaiming. This community was formed over twenty years ago, by feminist Witch Starhawk and friends, to teach others about goddess spirituality and reinvented pagan rituals. It has since succeeded in developing an independent spiritual tradition, fostered partly by the success of Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance and other books, and now has sister communities throughout North America and Europe.
Enchanted Feminism presents the first in-depth study of this important community and spiritual tradition from a consistent gender perspective. In a unique interdisciplinary approach, Dr Salomonson adopts the perspectives of both social anthropology and theology to analyse the beliefs and practices of the Reclaiming Witches. Among many issues, she considers their spiritual search for the ‘Real’, their renunciation of patriarchal religions and attempts to build a new religious identity, their use of ritual and of feminine symbols for the divine, and their involvement with feminist-anarchist politics. The results of her research provide challenging and insightful reading.”
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.
Hermetic Library fellow Sabazius has posted his keynote speech from NOTOCON IX, which had the theme “Neither East nor West” and which took place earlier this month in Sacramento, California. This was the ninth NOTOCON, a biennial conference for the US Grand Lodge of Ordo Templi Orientis.
“Neither East nor West. Neither the house of dawn, nor the house of dusk, neither the realm of beginnings nor the realm of endings; neither here nor there, neither black nor white, neither the past nor the future, neither the old nor the new. We find ourselves in transit; in the interstices, the in-between places, partaking of partialities, gradients, nuances, and transients. Familiar things pass away, and strange, new things confront us, leaving us excited, but also perhaps somewhat unsure, insecure, and anxious. We feel well rid of some of the old, and we welcome some of the new—but not all, necessarily.
In the face of the insecurity of the impermanence that confronts us, comfort and courage can often be found in belonging to, and identifying with, an institution that is anchored, to some extent, in history and tradition, and which exhibits the size and strength to endure into the future. We want to be a part of something larger than ourselves. It is a natural human impulse, one not lightly to be dismissed. I daresay this is why many of us are here tonight. It is, in fact, I think, one of the very foundations of human culture, and we see this tendency everywhere, manifesting in mysticism as well as in a propensity to gather together in tribes of various sorts.” [via]
There is also a reception at Bows and Arrows in Sacramento, CA on Friday, Apr 5th from 6 – 9 pm, which will feature a presentation on tarot by David Shoemaker of Living Thelema and College of Thelema of Northern California.
“Join us for the reception of The Tarot Show, which will feature each card in the Tarot deck made by a different artist.
David Shoemaker, psychologist and past master of the Sacramento chapter of the Ordo Templi Orientis, will also be giving a short lecture on the symbolism of the Tarot on April 5 during the reception. In addition, printed Tarot decks featuring the exhibited artwork will be for sale.
This event is free and all ages!” [via]
“A Romp through the History of Astrology” by Jenn Zahrt, if you’re in the Oakland area, may be something to attend at The Public School, 2141 Broadway, Oakland, CA on Mar 4th, 2013.
“Join me for a Romp through the History of Astrology. On March, 4, I’ll be giving a two hour introduction to the history of astrology at The Public School in Oakland.
Here’s the course description:
Astrology has a history as old as humanity itself. This course will introduce you to the astrologies that have been developed by various world cultures, from the most ancient to the most modern. You’ll leave with a sense of the diversity of what astrology has been and can be, and at the end of the session, we’ll explore the potential to go deeper into any areas of special interest in future courses. Fortune-telling and chart reading will not take place during this session.” [via]
Aiden Kelly discusses Aleister Crowley, Ordo Templi Orientis, and more in a post at A History of the Craft in America: California and Councils, 1967 to 1973, Part I. The post discusses the history Ordo Templi Orientis, particularly in California during the time of Grady McMurtry, and also mentions in passing the events detailed in Tom Whitmore’s Raiders of the Lost Basement.
“During the 13 years that McMurtry, using the name Hymenaeus Alpha, oversaw the OTO, it revived, grew, and expanded. His chapter held regular, well-attended meetings in the East Bay. Its history did not intersect with that of the NROOGD until about 1974, when both Glenn Turner and Chandria from Glenn’s coven, Allan Moonbloode from Isis Rising and Silver Star, plus Witches from several other traditions, were active in it. Chandria subsequently founded the Nuit-Urania coven, practicing what she called “Thelemic Wicca,” a blend of OTO and NROOGD practices. This NROOGD variant subsequently spread into the Pacific Northwest, under the leadership of Vandimir and Lady Jezebel.
Grady McMurtry passed over on July 12, 1985, at age 66. After McMurtry’s death, the IXth grade members of the OTO elected his successor, who has chosen to be known publicly only as Hymenaeus Beta and who moved the international headquarters of the OTO to New York City. However, rivals appeared, claiming to be Crowley’s true successors. It is unusual for members of an occult organization to turn to the legal system to settle a dispute, but that is what happened. In decisions in 1985 and 1988, the United States Supreme Court ruled that McMurtry had been Crowley’s only legal successor, basing its decision not only on McMurtry’s letters from Crowley, but also on the fact that the original manuscript of Crowley’s Book of the Law had been found in a box in a basement in Berkeley, albeit under suspicious circumstances.” [via]
The website of the 2013 biennial National Ordo Templi Orientis conference for OTO in the US has been announced, so you may be interested in checking that out. The upcoming ninth conference is in Sacramento, CA on Aug 9 – 11, 2013. Of course, the conference is open to initiates only; but there’s time enough for that if you are interested. Although this is just the initial bit of information about the upcoming conference, you can gander through past conference sites to get an idea of the kind of presentations and events that will likely happen this time around as well.
“The NOTOCON IX Onsite Team invite you to join with Brothers and Sisters from around the country (and a few from around the world) for Ordo Templi Orientis U.S.A.’s ninth biennial national convention, to be held August 9 – August 11, 2013 e.v. in Sacramento, California.
Our theme for 2013 e.v. is ‘Neither East nor West.’ No, we’re not referring to our physical location (which is decidedly West Coast)! This is a paraphrase from Liber AL, Chapter 1, verse 56: ‘Expect him not from the East, nor from the West, for from no expected house cometh that child. Aum! All words are sacred and all prophets true, save only that they understand a little…’
The true meaning of this verse will not be discussed here (so as not to become a ‘centre of pestilence!’) but we’re taking the verse as inspiration to explore the currents of thought flowing into Thelema from sources East and West: Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Voudoun, Christianity, Islam, Judaism (and mystical variants of these such as Sufism and Qabalah), medieval alchemy, martial arts, religion and magick of North and South America, Australia, and Africa. Thelema is a syncretic tradition. In the true spirit of ‘The aim of religion, the method of science,’ Thelemites from Crowley and on have studied every mystical and magical tradition available; taken what worked, and left the rest. This convention will celebrate the great diversity and depth of the traditions from which Thelema has drawn.” [via]