There is a law governing all things. There is a connecting link between earth, air and sea, between flowers, beasts and birds, between mankind and all animals, and inanimate things, a mysterious joining of mind to matter. It is an intangible something, perhaps an electrical current, but certain it is that the line is there and unbroken, and between every human creature whom God has made, there is the same unbroken chain, which can be followed up link by link, step by step, until we find ourselves on the boundaries of the next world and perhaps beyond; who can tell? The chain may be unbroken even then.
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
Before the beginning there was nothing—no earth, no heavens, no stars, no sky: only the mist world, formless and shapeless, and the fire world, always burning.
Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology
N.B.: In 2014, when I wrote this post, I provided the best information I had about this document. It is the current position of OTO that the document mentioned here was not authored by Aleister Crowley, writing as Gérard Aumont, but by Aumont proper. As of April 2018, Hymenaeus Beta posted A Note on Gérard Aumont which cogently makes the case that Aumont, and not Crowley, was the author of this document. I have begun a section at the library for information about and the writings of Gérard Aumont, which may be of interest. I have made some edits in brackets to this old post to reflect this new information.
A typed copy of The Black Messiah by Gérard Aumont has arrived at the Reading Room from an anonymous sender. This essay, circa 1926, [seemed at the time I wrote this to be] written by Aleister Crowley himself although he wrote it under the name of a Tunisian student (as he [seemed to have at the time I wrote this] with the contemporaneous essay The Secret Conference which appears in The Heart of the Master & Other Papers), is quoted from by Starr in The Unknown God: W. T. Smith and the Thelemites, and was published in the Yorke microfilm archives where it can be found by those who have access to that; but it is otherwise an apparently intentionally rare document to get to read.
“Writing under the name of a Tunisian disciple, Gérard Aumont, Crowley deepened his propaganda war against Krishnamurti, this time setting forth the battle in racial terms, which would most definitely not have swayed Theosophists. A regrettable example is his essay, The Black Messiah, where The Master Therion is touted as the white race’s savior, in contrast to Besant’s ‘marionette Messiah, a kala admi—a nigger!’ It was a new low in self-promotion.” — Martin P Starr, The Unknown God, p 165; quoting the essay.
And, yes, indeed, I feel the essay as a whole expresses just as reprehensible and nauseating a typical racist sentiment as you might think, but is particularly significant because in it [Aumont] explicitly links Thelemic and racist ideologies; moreover, in that peculiar way that racists have of interpreting religion and peace and love to include racism and war and hate:
“White men and women must choose between these alternatives: Will they yield, content to be the black man’s slave, after having been his master? or will they stand to, and reply by an energetic spiritual reaction, which will restore the threatened equilibrium of the races?
The white champion has appeared, He who, under the aegis of the Spiritual Masters of the planet, has proclaimed the Law of Thelema, the Law of Love, comprehended and directed by Will: the Law which bids each man pursue the proper orbit of his destiny, and develop himself around his own true centre of Light, will bring back welfare to his own race, and establish Peace with Victory upon the Earth.”
Even if one weakly apologises that [the author] was simply and only saying whatever otherwise ethically questionable propaganda was necessary to cajole rubes or just playing a role demanded by wearing his ring on a contrarian hand that day, as if those weren’t also problematic in and of themselves, this still seems to me to sustain as disgusting and damning stuff.
Obviously make up your own mind about such things, but this seems to me one of those times when eyes wide open and unclouded are required. Make of it what you will, but one way or another it seems this must be considered part of the whole corpus of […] writing and thought on the topic of Thelema. And, in my estimation, if one is to be intellectually honest and serious about The Comment (“All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself”), a Thelemite’s religious duty is to study, and requires ready access to, all of Crowley’s writings (even when not explicitly Thelemic, though this one clearly is). [While this document, as it turns out now, shouldn’t be considered part of Crowley’s writings, I feel it is still important for members of the tradition to openly discuss problematic material and attitudes in the tradition, both historical and any ongoing, so that these can be addressed clearly, instead of suppressing or ignoring them, or stifling discussion about them, which lets them fester. I find it refreshing and heartening to see these and other problematic issues discussed more often lately, and openly, such as in Hymenaeus Beta’s public and prominent note as well as recent statements by Sabazius.]
The essay itself ends with what appears to be a bit of […] poetry which I don’t immediately recognize appearing elsewhere, so I quote that here as well, though I personally find all this “free, equal” “Savior of the Earth” triumphalism to be strikingly and skin-crawlingly appropriate for what one would expect from extreme and exclusionary religion-infused racist ideological rants:
“Ho! for his chariot wheels that whirl afar!
His hawk’s eye flashing through the silver star!
Upon the heights his standard shall he plant
Free, equal, passionate, pagan, dominant,
Mystic, indomitable, self-controlled,
The red rose glowing of the cross of gold…
Yea! I will wait throughout the centuries
Of the Universal man-disease
Until that morn of his Titanic birth…
The Saviour of the Earth!”
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 11th, 2014
- Nostalgia back in fashion — Gail Rosenblum, Star Tribune [HT Robert Murch]
“Those who embrace nostalgia excel at maintaining personal relationships and choose healthy social ways of coping with their troubles. When they feel stressed, for example, they tap into previously successful strategies, such as turning to a trusted teacher or parent. If I overcame adversity before, they tell themselves, I can do it again.
When they feel a lack of self-confidence, they remember when they felt valued and loved for who they were and not for what they achieved or earned.
And when they feel uncertain about the future, they wipe the cobwebs off their Ouija board.”
- Aleister Crowley and The OTO — Tobias Churton, disinformation; an excerpt from Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin: Art, Sex, and Magick in the Weimar Republic from Inner Traditions
“Crowley had little concern with Reuss’s treasured image of spiritual descendants of an imaginary body of medieval male Templars sharing secrets of a yogic sexual magic (transmitted from late antiquity) manifesting in the twentieth century as a new Gnostic Catholic Church. For Reuss the Oriental Templars’ great secret was that Jesus Christ and his ‘Beloved Disciple’ had been practicing adepts; Jesus’s semen being held to manifest magical, sacramental power: ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him’ (John 6:56). Reuss consolidated the doctrine that consecrated sexual fluids constituted effective agents of magical, spiritual transformation through contacts established in Paris with French Gnostic Catholic Church clergy Jean Bricaud, Gérard Encausse and other Martinists when Reuss issued Encausse and his associates (including René Guénon) with a patent to administer the Rites of Memphis and Misraïm in 1908; it is believed that in return Reuss received ‘authority’ as a legate or bishop of the Église Catholique Gnostique in Germany. Reuss’s belief that the OTO’s originators were Christian Gnostics did not sit altogether well with his rather general approval of The Book of the Law. Despite this potential disparity of outlook, all might have progressed quite nicely were it not for the inconvenient interruption of World War One.”
“After the war Reuss described the OTO as a body of New Gnostic Christians who rejected the anti-German, that is anti-brotherhood, betrayal of the Versailles Conference and looked for a transnational movement. Crowley did not attend Reuss’s international Freemasonry conference organized in Basle in 1920 for kindred fringe-Masonic representatives worldwide. Thinking about the invitation while in retirement in Cefalù, Sicily, the Beast wondered if he had it in him to combine such a collection of what he considered nonentities into a force.
But what really got Crowley’s goat was that while paying lip service to aspects of The Book of the Law, Reuss was obviously putting distance between himself and his supposed colleague. The reasons for this soon became apparent. Reuss was seeking financial support from AMORC-founder Harvey Spencer Lewis; Reuss offered Lewis an OTO diploma as an inducement to affiliation.”
- Pope Francis’s dance with the devil: For all his modernising, the Catholic church’s leader has enlisted a very old enemy in his battle against secularism — Sophia Deboick, The Guardian [HT Erik Davis]
“The devil continues to be as useful for the modern church as he has been in the past, when he bolstered the case for the burning of heretics. The concept now provides a dramatic way to underscore the dangers of a godless society. The organiser of last week’s course, Dr Giuseppe Ferrari, argues that a rise in the number of people abandoning religion and dabbling in the occult has increased Satan’s power. As head of the Gruppo di Ricerca e Informazione Socio-Religiosa, a Catholic organisation concerned with the threat posed by cults and sects, Ferrari says good exorcists are needed more than ever, since: ‘We live in a disenchanted society, a secularised world that thought it was being emancipated, but where religion is being thrown out, the window is being opened to superstition and irrationality.’
This seems like an extreme position, but it is in perfect alignment with Francis’s views, which go further than his brief mentions of the devil last week suggest. In his very first homily as pope, delivered in the Sistine Chapel on the day after his election, Francis bluntly quoted the French author and Catholic convert Léon Bloy: ‘Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.'”
- Iran Cleric: Jews Use Sorcery to Spy: A mullah at Tehran University told Iranians on official TV that Jews use jinns, or genies, for espionage. Young Iranians laugh, and cry, when they hear such things. — Azadeh Moaveni, The Daily Beast; from the well-it-worked-for-john-007-dee dept.
“Iran’s state broadcaster, known as Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, has never been the country’s most dignified institution. But even by its own standards, the network plunged into a fresh abyss of superstition and fear-mongering with a recent broadcast in which Valiollah Naghipourfar, a cleric and professor at Tehran University, discusses the use of jinns, or genies, in public life.
‘Can jinns be put to use in intelligence gathering?’ the presenter asks ingenuously, as though dragons can also serve as defense ministers and we’ve all entered the realm of the Hobbit.
The cleric nods, as though speaking about a species of exotic elf: ‘The Jew is very practiced in sorcery. Indeed most sorcerers are Jews.'”
“Such paranoia and fear of the other, of course, is typical among the ultra-orthodox of any religion.”
- Cult Rush Week: Pretzels and Wine With Peaches Geldof’s Sex Cult — Cat Ferguson, Gawker
“When I first told friends I was going to a meeting of the New York Ordo Templi Orientis branch, called Tahuti Lodge, the general consensus was that I should try not to die, and I should avoid sexual contact. […] As it turned out, neither of my friends’ concerns proved necessary.”
- Reply to Sandy Robertson’s review of Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World — Gary Lachman
“One of the key questions I explore in the book is why Crowley remained a pop ‘icon’ – apologies for using a much abused and emptied-out term – long after other esoteric figures taken up by the 60s counter culture, like Jung and Madame Blavatsky, no longer were. The answer to that is that Crowley’s philosophy of excess – ‘excess in all directions’, as his friend Louis Wilkinson called it – is purpose built for rock and roll and the pop aesthetics that followed it.”
- rstevens 3.0, tweet
did you know: contracts with satan are null and void if signed with a genuine fisher space pen® – space pen® the anti-superstition choice
— rstevens 3.01 (@rstevens) July 7, 2014
- When Beliefs and Facts Collide — Brendan Nyhan, The Upshot, The New York Times
“In a new study, a Yale Law School professor, Dan Kahan, finds that the divide over belief in evolution between more and less religious people is wider among people who otherwise show familiarity with math and science, which suggests that the problem isn’t a lack of information. When he instead tested whether respondents knew the theory of evolution, omitting mention of belief, there was virtually no difference between more and less religious people with high scientific familiarity. In other words, religious people knew the science; they just weren’t willing to say that they believed in it.”
- Interview: Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold — Second Heart Magazine
“My arrival to a neo Platonic stance on this issue came initially through my interest for behaviourism and the realization of how an organism can be conditioned to nearly whatever and how inconstant and changeable the human mind and heart is which grew these ideas of dualism solely being a heuristic and not a reality. Later when I studied Advaita philosophy and Renaissance philosophers both from the European and Arabic renaissance a qualified monism took shape and got over the years sharper and sharper. Quite simply if we view everything in terms of polarities we also become more inclined to understand the tension within the fields of being and find the bridges of understanding that widens our horizon and in this the tension between the poles are also experienced less severe. For instance in the thoughts of Ibn Al Arabi we find the concept of Iblis being the limit of divine enfolding – and thus our experience of this concept is one of resistance and opposition, but in truth it serves a quite different function in defining the field of possibility for unfolding.”
- The Persecution of Witches, 21st-Century Style — Mitch Horowitz, The Opinion Pages, The New York Times
“Most people believe that the persecution of ‘witches’ reached its height in the early 1690s with the trials in Salem, Mass., but it is a grim paradox of 21st-century life that violence against people accused of sorcery is very much still with us. Far from fading away, thanks to digital interconnectedness and economic development, witch hunting has become a growing, global problem.”
- Tell Me There Is No Magic — Rue, Rue and Hyssop [HT Sarah Anne Lawless]
“We are walking into the heat scorched arms of summer this weekend, and as some of us keep our heads toward the earth, watching for signs and faerie rings, others are looking skyward again to that opulent display of rocket-fuelled magic.”
- Rewilding Witchcraft: Speaking from the Swamp, Part 1 — Oldidio, The Arrival and the Reunion; a response to Rewilding Witchcraft
“The background setting is chiefly about the decline of humanity’s ability to survive as a species over the coming 100 years or so. The matter is doleful, sobering and utterly important.”
- The Witch and the Wild — Sarah Anne Lawless; a response to Rewilding Witchcraft
“Our witchcraft, nay, our very being must become more wild, more intuitive, and more accepting of nature’s amorality and our inevitable demise if we are to make any difference at all. If we are to preserve what we’ve left behind of the earth in our destructive wake, and if we are to survive in any number as a species, we must rewild ourselves and learn how to live outside of civilization. We must lose our faiths, our religions, our meaningless attachment to nitpicketity details only we as individuals and not a whole care about. We who are importers of foreign magics and alien gods. We must become a different kind of witch. Something that needs no definitions, no boundaries, and no expectations. Something more primal and raw than our current incarnation. Something small, something just outside your door…”
- The Hammer of Thor — Past Horizons
“A small hammer dating to the 10th century was found recently on the Danish Island of Lolland. Over 1000 of these amulets have been found across Northern Europe but the pendant from Lolland is the only one with a runic inscription.”
- A Peek Into The Mystical Lives And Rituals Of Urban Peruvian Shamans — Justina Bakutyte, Beautiful/Decay
“Italy-based photographer Andrea Frazzetta gives us a little glimpse into the lives and rituals of modern healers from Lima, Peru. His project called ‘Urban Shamans’ peeks behind the doors of the rear private shops where shamans, or the so called curanderos, perform their traditional mystical rituals which are not subject to the laws and orders of today’s world.”
- Hannah Kunkle’s Controversial Project Turns Kim Kardashian Into The Devil, The Virgin Mary And Even Jesus — Victoria Casal-Data, Beautiful/Decay
“Brooklyn-based artist Hannah Kunkle puts Kim Kardashian on the altar, literally. Kunkle delivers Kardashian as the Virgin Mary, Medusa, the devil and even Kleopatra. With a flashy net-art inspired aesthetic, the artist takes Kim’s iconic, worshiped image and puts it to work, naturally, with religious/cultish iconography. The controversial juxtaposition is rather riveting as its subtle insights perfectly captures the absurdity of our nation’s obsession with Kardashian and celeb idolatry in general. ‘We have accepted her into our lives via television screens, memes, and Instagram feeds’, she says. ‘If Jay Z is the father and Yeezus is the son, then she is the ever-present holy ghost of pop culture.'”
- Quantum state may be a real thing: Physicists summon up their courage and go after the nature of reality — Chris Lee, Ars Technica [HT disinformation]
“At the very heart of quantum mechanics lies a monster waiting to consume unwary minds. This monster goes by the name The Nature of Reality™. The greatest of physicists have taken one look into its mouth, saw the size of its teeth, and were consumed. Niels Bohr denied the existence of the monster after he nonchalantly (and very quietly) exited the monster’s lair muttering ‘shut up and calculate.’ Einstein caught a glimpse of the teeth and fainted. He was reportedly rescued by Erwin Schrödinger at great personal risk, but neither really recovered from their encounter with the beast.”
- Satanic Feminism – A Soundtrack to Per Faxneld’s Book with Music by Christian von H, Patrik Hultin, Tondurakar, Jesper Erwik Johansson and Kristian Pettersson discussed at Per Faxneld’s Satanic Feminism: A New Approach to the Dissertation? — Sarah Veale, Invocatio
“This is a really creative presentation of the dissertation, one which certainly challenges new scholars to consider the life of their work beyond the written page. It is great to see how this topic has been re-imagined into a totally different context, one which allows the audience to experience the milieu researched by Faxneld in an accessible and immediate way.”
- Fantastically Wrong: Why the Egyptians Worshiped Beetles That Eat Poop for a Living — Matt Simon, WIRED
“And this makes it all the more incredible that humans once revered the dung beetle, from the ancient Egyptians to a 17th-century Jesuit who compared Christ to the bug. These folks got a whole lot wrong about the dung beetle and made some pretty fantastical assumptions, but it turns out that their reverence was totally justified. The dung beetle may live its life in crap, but it’s actually a far more remarkable creature than you think.”
If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.
Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication by Van Cleef & Arpels is a, quite frankly, obscenely expensive watch [HT Celestial Ladies]. But, it’s also a planetarium. Strangely, I didn’t find anything about this particular watch on their website, but I did find information about it elsewhere, which may be of interest.
“For the SIHH 2014, Van Cleef & Arpels once again celebrates celestial orbits by drawing inspiration from the historic tradition of planetariums with the Midnight Planétarium timepiece. This new Poetic Complication™ timepiece provides a miniature representation of the movement of six planets around the sun and their position at any given time. Painstaking attention has been given to selecting the stones, then sculpting the discs and spheres in order to give form to this animated tableau, with its combination of jewelry and watchmaking savoir-faire.” [via]
“Its piece de resistance was the Midnight Planetarium Poetic Complication that one can set in accordance to the solar system. It will document the tracks of the six planets while a gold shooting star on the face of the watch communicates the hour of the day.
More specifically, the Poetic Complication gives the movements of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn around the dial of the watch according to their actual rotation around the earth (Jupiter will take 12 years to make it around the watch; Mercury 88 days; Earth 365 days, etc.) while the rotating bezel allows the wearer to select special days under which to align the earth and that special star as a sign of good luck.” — Hannah Elliot, Forbes [via]
“A highlight of the annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), held every January in Geneva, is seeing the various brands compete against each other in the very technical and artistic ends of the market with creations that have never been seen before—often with prices that are equally out of this world. One of our favorites from this category from 2014’s SIHH is the 44mm Midnight Planétarium from Van Cleef & Arpel’s Poetic Astronomy series. In addition to telling time by way of a shooting star that rotates along the outmost area of the face, the watch more prominently features an accurate rotation and representation of the Earth and the five other planets visible from here around the sun—Mercury in 88 days, Venus in 224, Earth in a year, Mars in 687 days, Jupiter in 12 years and Saturn in 29. It’s a very complex watch and a true display of supreme watchmaking. But as complicated as the piece is—with 396 parts to the movement—it’s also beautiful.”
“On top of the already extravagant design, one of the more standout features is the ability to set any of the 365 days in the year as a “lucky star,” an additional element in this magical cosmos. When your day arrives the lucky star is located just above the Earth on the dial.” — Evan Oresten, Cool Hunting [via]
Also, check out a video by the makers showing the watch and its features at “3D video of the Midnight Planétarium Poetic Complication™”
The Earth, The Gods and The Soul — A History of Pagan Philosophy: From the Iron Age to the 21st Century by Brendan Myers is due in November 2013 from Moon Books, and may be of interest.
“Philosophy was invented by pagans. Yet this fact is almost always ignored by those who write the history of ideas. This book tells the history of the pagan philosophers, and the various places where their ideas appeared, from ancient times to the 21st century. The Pagan philosophers are a surprisingly diverse group: from kings of great empires to exiled lonely wanderers, from devout religious teachers to con artists, drug addicts, and social radicals. Three traditions of thought emerge from their work: Pantheism, NeoPlatonism, and Humanism, corresponding to the immensities of the Earth, the Gods, and the Soul. From ancient schools like the Stoics and the Druids, to modern feminists and deep ecologists, the pagan philosophers examined these three immensities with systematic critical reason, and sometimes with poetry and mystical vision. This book tells their story for the first time in one volume, and invites you to examine the immensities with them. And as a special feature, the book includes summaries of the ideas of leading modern pagan intellectuals, in their own words: Emma Restall Orr, Michael York, John Michael Greer, Vivianne Crowley, and more.” [via]
Worship and praise to the Victorious Queen,
Empress of earth in Your garden so green
With clovers and roses and snow-white swan;
I raise up the cup and adore Babalon!
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.
“Baruch Spinoza and Giordano Bruno both viewed the universe as divine. Their ideas were broadly pantheistic. The implications of the idea that the universe itself is divine are explored by Sam Webster, who prefers immediacy to immanence. The universe is a theophany, the manifestation of the Divine. The implication here is that everything is sacred, and we should take care of the Earth and other beings; we certainly don’t have dominion over them.” [via]