Tag Archives: gnosis

Apocalypse of the Alien God

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Apocalypse of the Alien God: Platonism and the Exile of Sethian Gnosticism [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Dylan M. Burns, part of the Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion series.

Burns Apocalypse of the Alien God

The “apocalypse” in the title of this book refers to both a genre of religious writings and to the more fundamental unveiling or revelation of the “alien God,” who is the Great Invisible Spirit of Sethian Gnosticism. Not only was this godhead metaphysically alien to the created world of matter, it was culturally alien to the Hellenistic society of intellectuals gathered around the Neoplatonist philosopher Plotinus in third-century Rome. The latter framing is the point of departure for this study of a specific school of ancient Gnosticism in its social context.

Author Dylan Burns perpetrates careful scholarship, and the early chapters offer a fairly slow start with orientation to the cultural factors involved in the historical scenario that he uses the final chapters to set forth. He avoids anachronistic conceptions of Christianity and Judaism. For example, he doesn’t see the unorthodox or even negligible jesuschristology (my ad hoc coinage) of the Sethians as a reason to distance them unnecessarily from the phenomena of early Christianity.

The theme of alienation is present in a sort of holographic manner in this study. Burns points out the religious trope of valorizing exile under the figures of the sojourn and the stranger as a peculiar attribute of Sethian Gnosticism that it held in common with many Christianities, some Judaisms, and virtually no Hellenism. Among the several sections of the book concerned to elucidate Sethian doctrines on the basis of the surviving writings, the one treating this theme was the most interesting to me not only for its socio-cultural implications, but for the disputable value of the actual religious ideas concerning the sojourn.

The study concludes that the floruit of Plotinus ultimately represented a “closure” of dialogue between Hellenic Platonism and the Gnosticisms rooted in Semitic scriptural traditions. This event is the second sense of the “Exile” in Burns’ subtitle, as the Sethians were exiled from the Roman Platonist milieu. Platonist dialectic withdrew from engaging Gnostic apocalyptic and vice versa. Still, he suggests that some forms of sympathy persisted, with the theurgy of Iamblichus as a notable possible instance.

Some attention to the possible practices at stake in Gnostic texts leads to helpful discussions of baptism, “angelification,” and the rite of the Five Seals (but not the Bridal Chamber, which seems not to have figured in Sethianism). I was interested in the implications of the designation of “Perfect Individuals” in the Protophanes Aeon of Sethian eschatology. “Perfect” is a conventional translation of a Greek term that can also mean “initiated,” and I inferred that the mode of transmitting knowledge through secret initiatory ceremony might have been another barrier between the Sethians and their Platonist peers.

On the whole, this book makes real demands on the attention of a serious reader, and it is not addressed to the idly curious. But it demonstrates that work in this field can advance beyond the wrangling over definitions and categories that has been a preoccupation of recent decades, and illuminate more of the historical realities regarding these ancient religious phenomena.

Events at Treadwell’s Books for October, 2013

Here is a selection from the upcoming events at Treadwell’s Books in London for October, 2013, which may be of interest.

Treadwell's Books in London

 

The Lairs of Cthulhu II: The Hollywood Years
30 September 2013 (Monday)
Dr James Holloway

Treadwell's Books in London - The Lairs of Cthulhu II

Tonight archaeologist and Cthulhu buff James Holloway explores archaeological concepts found in Lovecraft’s mythos, turning to look at how these concepts of land, history and the past are reformulated in Lovecraftian-based films which have come out in the decades after the author’s death. A riveting and intelligent speaker whose ideas always invite new questioning, this lecture is a sequel to his now-famed 2009 Treadwell’s Lecture. Dr James Holloway studied archaeology at Cambridge University, where he received his doctorate, and returns to Treadwell’s with a warm welcome.

Price: £7
Time: 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start

 

Hocus Pocus: Witches in Film
9 October 2013 (Wednesday)
Judith Noble

Judith Noble- Hocus Pocus at Treadwell's Books

Judith Noble is a noted film scholar and expert in Western occultism, and tonight she examines critically the portrayal of witchcraft in feature film. Bringing together expertise in the subjects of modern pagan witchcraft, Western esotericism, popular culture and film-making, she offers new insights and raises new questions. A former producer who now lectures at University of the Arts in Bournemouth, she is a gifted speaker who returns to Treadwell’s at our invitation. It’s a lively, illustrated lecture for everyone.

Price: £7
Time: 6.45 for 7pm start

 

Alchemy: Symbols of the Rubedo
24 October 2013 (Thursday)
Paul Cowlan

Paul Cowlan Alchemy at Treadwell's Books

Alchemist Paul Cowlan lectures on the symbolism of each of the famed phases of the Work, the alchemical process of perfection. Tonight he unlocks the Rubedo, the final reddening stage, the Rising Dawn, the attainment of the Philosophers’ Stone. We learn what it looks like, how it can be ‘multiplied’, what its powers are, and what its dangers. We will also meet some of those who claim to have made or used the Stone, and will glance at both ancient and contemporary evidence for the reality of the Lapis. Suitable for everyone, this illustrated lecture will rock your world. Paul Cowlan has been practising spiritual alchemy for over twenty years, and is a popular speaker visiting from Germany.

Price: £7
Time: 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start

 

On Liber Nigri Solis
26 October 2013 (Saturday)

On Liber Nigri Solis at Treadwell's Books

An Afternoon Event
This modern astrychymical grimoire was published anonymously in 2004: an instant sensation. Theion Press’s new expanded version prompts a day exploring and unpacking it. Dr Eva Kingsepp from Stockholm University speaks on the history of the Black Sun symbol, from alchemy to Romanticism to German Naturphilosophie — to modern right-wing misappropriations. Andrew Vee, an author of the LNS, gives the second lecture, on gnosis of our solar system Black Suns and relevant fictive points, with the book’s applied workings and sigils. The event concludes with a “rite inscendence on a contra-solar journey starting from Casimi and finishing at piercing the Apex.” Drinks follow. Theion’s David Beth will be with us on the day.

Price: £15
Time: 1.45 for 2pm start, runs till 5.30

Voudon Gnosis

Voudon Gnosis by David Beth, with an introduction by Michael Bertiaux, the 2010, revised and enlarged, standard edition hardcover from Fulgur Limited, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

David Beth Michael Bertiaux Voudon Gnosis from Fulgur Limited

“There exists a tradition of Gnosis and Sorcery which is unique in contemporary Esotericism. Unfolding from within an exotic lineage of initiatic Haitian Voudon, empowered and enriched by a variety of occult and Gnostic systems, the ever evolving world of Esoteric Voudon, or Voudon Gnosis, has intrigued and unsettled magical practitioners, scholars and artists for decades.

This book is the first comprehensive treatise of the fascinating spiritist realms which constitute the highly practical system of Voudon Gnostisicism. From sexual magic to fetich sorcery, from the qliphotic realms on the Tree of Death, to Esoteric Love and Time-Travelling. David Beth leads us towards making contact with the darkest levels and most ancient forms of consciousness and power.”

 

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.

Liber Nigri Solis

Liber Nigri Solis edited by Victor Voronov is available for pre-order from Theion Publishing in limited standard edition, although the deluxe “Auric” edition is already sold out.

Victor Voronov's Liber Nigri Solis from Theion Publishing

Liber Nigri Solis, edited by Victor Voronov, elaborates the occult, magical and initiatory work of two esoteric orders. Presenting the aeonic history, mythic imagery, and arcane aesthetics of the Black Sun along with its alchemical and astrological aspects and significances, this opus includes a concise though multi-faceted esoteric system in theory and practice suitable for work with the Black Sun on microcosmic, mesocosmic, and macrocosmic levels. It will enable solitary practitioners and occult colleagues alike to cultivate the Gnosis of the Sol Niger through self-initiatory workings, rites, and operations of sinister alchemy.

The reader will be provided with eighteen keys which open the nine Infernal Gates and the nine Gates of Radiant Darkness, ultimately leading to the vision of the Black Sun, which radiates twelve Crooked Paths that cross the nine Thresholds. The text also expounds significant concepts such as the Fivefold Unmanifest or the Grand Chymical Conjunction of the arcane Black Suns that unveils the fiery gates of the Inverse Opus. Beyond researches concerning the sunspot cycle and cosmological considerations pertaining to Indo-Iranian mythology, substantial theoretical and operative material concerning plague-magic and epidemics has been included.

Liber Nigri Solis is a truly controversial grimoire and whether one agrees or not with all of its antinomian gnosis and sinister strategies, the uniqueness, sophistication and otherworldly power of its system is undeniable.

Lavishly illustrated with artwork commissioned especially for this book, Liber Nigri Solis also features a fascinating, elaborate introduction by Dr. Eva Kingsepp of Stockholm University.” [via]

Dr.Hans first physical album

You may be interested in helping Hermetic Library anthology artist and audio pool contributor Dr.Hans kickstart his first physical album, which he hopes to do on coloured vinyl with bunches of extras.

“I’m ready to create my first physical album, on coloured vinyl, packed with stickers and a limited run, custom art print. All signed!”

“The project is to create a physical album, as all of my preliminary releases are all digital. I want to create an artistic project, so my idea is to create an aesthetic launch for Dr.Hans. I will be creating a coloured, art experience of a vinyl including unique stickers and a limited run of a commissioned artwork, ‘Passage’, collaboratively designed by Dr.Hans and a (yet to be chosen), phenomenal artist. You can expect dark soundscapes and music fit for meditation and imagination, creating a magickal environment, so we all may visit the void, and return with gnosis. ” [via]

Louie Lingam, Part II

A couple of couplets by T Polyphilus over on his blog today at “Louie Lingam, Part II“:

“I am not an Agnostic in your sense of the word: your god-idea is too vacuous for any theologian to lie about it.
I am not an Agnostic in your sense of the word: fancy ignorance held up as prudence!
As long as there are metaphysical cobwebs passed off as luxurious silks, I am against Agnosticism, and for the Gnosis.
The ‘wisdom’ of any suspended judgment is less estimable than the folly of experience.” [via]