As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport. Thunder again; words that proclaimed themselves true—truer somehow than truth itself.
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport. Thunder again; words that proclaimed themselves true—truer somehow than truth itself.
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
In the temporal cycle the solstices of summer and winter are the gates of the gods according to Hinduism. The gate of the gods is the winter solstice, in the sign of Capricorn; ancestors is the summer solstice, in the sign of Cancer.
We are badly made Gods. Gods cast out into a Hell of their making.
Kneel Downe, The Copper Cascade: A Virulent ChapBook
Accordingly, if we want to understand our current transformational patterns, we must try to discover the living myths of today’s world—the things we actually believe in—and the gods we truly worship.
“What can be said about the Gods that has not already been said or written? Humanity’s oldest surviving writings are about Gods and heroes. We haven’t stopped writing about them, telling stories about them, or otherwise being engaged with them, ever since. The presence of the Gods in magic and theurgy has been, until very recently, ubiquitous. And today, after the spread of monothesim for some 3,000 years, we begin to see a revival of old ways combined with new traditions dedicated to Gods that have sometimes not seen steady worship in hundreds of years.
This issue of the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition is dedicated to the eternal Gods, may they forever raise us to their presence!” [via]
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 19th, 2014
“Equipped with ‘VI technology’ which combines a deep depth of field lens, CCD linear image sensor and high directivity LED lamp, SV600 is able to minimize unevenness in image quality and generate a smooth image even when scanning from a distance.”
“Why a v-cradle and not a flat bed.
For two reasons: First, you cannot spread the books flat and if you do, the quality of reproduced pages will be compromised. It is especially important if you plan to OCR the book. Second, you avoid light reflections. You need only one lamp with a diffuser just over the v-cradle (picture attached). Lighting is the most difficult part of reproduction. Over the years, I have tried various setups with my semi-professional Manfrotto repro stand and four lamps at 45 degree angle. It doesn’t come close to an overhead lamp and v-cradle. Avoid any other light in the room or take everything to your terrace and shoot at the sunlight with no artificial light.”
“The SSOC now clocks in at 2700+ titles: more than 1.3 million pages of indexed Spiritualist and occult non-fiction from the 1790s until 1940.
Release 2.0 provides more than 500 new and updated titles, and marks the beginning of the re-indexing of the SSOC using a third-party embedded indexing engine superior to the Adobe Acrobat in-built OCR facility, for higher-fidelity searches.”
“Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient staff carved with two realistic human faces in southern Syria.
The roughly 9,000-year-old artifact was discovered near a graveyard where about 30 people were buried without their heads — which were found in a nearby living space.”
“[Karl-James] Langford said a monastic community lived close to the area and the bones appeared to be from a man in his late 20s, in good health.
‘I would say they belong to a monk from the 1200s — due to previous archaeological digs in the past, the depth of the bones in the cliff and the history of the area.
He would likely be buried with nothing except two shroud rings which would have held his burial shroud in place at the head and feet.'”
“From the outside, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, seems like a fairly traditional house of worship — but it’s hiding a gorgeously colorful secret.”
Photo: Omid Jafarnezhad
“Today’s post returns to a similar theme: Anti-witch remedies and witch-tests in early 19th-century Ohio. This story–half dire description of lunacy and half Monty Python sketch–comes from the village of Bethel in Clermont County.”
“In an unexpected incident worthy of the Spanish inquisition, a couple in eastern Siberia decided their acquaintance was a witch and attempted to burn her alive, though police stopped the impromptu auto-da-fe.
The rescue came not a moment too soon, as the couple were at that moment forcing the alleged witch headfirst into a burning stove in an abandoned building, Zabaikalsky region police said Thursday.”
“Whosoeuer first in the morning drinketh garlicke and Cockes blood hee need not fear venome.”
“What Discordian events are near you?”
“Throughout his life, Crowley was asking himself questions, and he encouraged his students and readers to ask questions. This included questions about the things they read, the rituals they performed, the conditions of their magical work, and even to interrogate the entities they invoked. He embraced the method of science, and thus he embraced questions more than answers. I often challenge myself to remember this in my own work.”
“Another group of occultists that we’re associated with had asked for some help with a demonstration of the vowel sounds (I, E, A, O, U) that Pete Carroll uses to build the various banishing rituals in his writing. As with many things in life it’s one thing to read a ritual text and another to see, hear and participate in it for oneself.”
“Magical tools can be found in all sorts of strange places these days. From conversations about turning your potpourri warmer into a slow-burning witchy cauldron, to using your iPod as a divinatory device, people are getting witchy where they can these days. In bygone eras our witchy ancestry, so we’re led to believe, used what they had on handle — the broom, the cauldron, the sickle — because it’s what they had. Not because a broom is more magical or special than any other household object.
And so, with all that very serious background, let’s make magic with socks!”
“The best way to get a feel for the Enochian entities is to look at Dee’s journals. What you see there are years of promises unkept. The angels promised power, the power that makes empires and tears down thrones. They also promised a complete system. They never delivered on any of it to Dee. After you have feasted on Dee’s disappointments, move on to Crowley’s The Vision and the Voice and the collected work of Benjamin Rowe. All else aside, what you will see is what Rowe realized very early on. The Enochian entities are very good at playing up to your expectations and saying precisely what you need to hear to keep you interested even when it’s not what you expect. This is a danger in magic in general, but the Enochian entities are masters of the genre.”
“Two value logic (Ie, True or False) while a highly useful way of thinking manages to darken one’s view of possible alternate ways of thinking and perceiving the world around them. When we become habitually addicted to the categorization of all information as either Totally Existing or Totally Not-Existing we become sloppy, lazy thinkers who are prone to building a self-gratifying personal cosmology. When the two-value system is used in its right way it is simply a systematic approach to what I call ‘the cosmic binary’.”
“Robert Proctor doesn’t think ignorance is bliss. He thinks that what you don’t know can hurt you. And that there’s more ignorance around than there used to be, and that its purveyors have gotten much better at filling our heads with nonsense.”
“As a social historian, I still like to think that we can know something about past cultures. However, if I’ve learned anything from my method & theory exemplars over the years, it is to appreciate the value of stepping back and ‘studying the study of.’ Indeed, this theoretical standpoint is a subtext in nearly all my teaching and much of my scholarship. How the past is shaped, directed, juxtaposed, and selectively presented is perhaps far more insightful to the student in religious studies than the actual ‘facts’ (events, persons, things, etc) – even if those ‘facts’ are not in dispute per se.”
“So I have been working upstream most of my career, swimming against a current that is much stronger than I am. I guess I like the challenge, or I wouldn’t keep doing it. I have spent a lot of time within the Nag Hammadi texts, reconstructing the worlds of the authors, which are not crazy once you learn their references and points of view. The Gnostics from antiquity were anything but crazy, inconsequential or irrational. But they were different. And difference often leads to misunderstanding.”
“An Israeli scholar turned up the previously unexamined parchments, which had escaped the notice of academics and archaeologists as they focused on their other extraordinary finds in the 1950s. Once opened, the minuscule phylactery parchments from Qumran, while unlikely to yield any shattering historic, linguistic or religious breakthroughs, could shed new light on the religious practices of Second Temple Judaism.”
“We might find, as well, echoes of the Warlock and Truth-Breaker in Aleister Crowley’s concept of the curse of the Magus. The curse of the Magus is that she must always lie. Having achieved a level of transcendence beyond the dualistic structure of the phenomenal universe, all things are both truth and false for the Magus. As such, language itself is inadequate to capture the understanding (Binah) and wisdom (Chokmah) that the Magus has achieved and so all linguistic statements and teachings are a lie. We are clearly dealing here with a discussion of the nature of the Magus on the mystical register. The experience to which she is privy is beyond the grasp of word or image, as is the case with most mystical experience.”
“A thicker cortex associated with a high importance of religion or spirituality may confer resilience to the development of depressive illness in individuals at high familial risk for major depression, possibly by expanding a cortical reserve that counters to some extent the vulnerability that cortical thinning poses for developing familial depressive illness.”
“One of the worst killers of brain cells is stress […] Stress causes high levels of cortisol, and cortisol is toxic to the hippocampus. One way to reduce stress is through prayer. When you’re praying and in the zone you feel a peace of mind and tranquility.”
“Occult revivals that are bubbling up in Brooklyn and in other pockets across the country have ushered in something of a Golden Age for small-press, metaphysical publishing houses. ‘That’s sort of the new wave of occult books: a re-evaluation of occult book as tome, and as talisman.’ [Phillip] English tells me. ‘Occultists or magicians, they tend to be collectors … They can appreciate the sort of art and magic that went into the work itself.’ Which isn’t to say that all members of the occult community buy into the idea of book-as-talisman. Phil Hine, a British occultist who has written several books on a practice called Chaos Magic, is among the witches and magicians who have questioned the value of ornately bound hard covers to magical rites. ‘Generally, I buy books because of the content,’ he writes on his blog. ‘Presentation is a secondary consideration.'”
“Rebecca Goldstein has written a timely book about our own age by taking us back to an earlier age—that of the ancient Greeks. She wants to know what the works of Plato can teach us about the life worth living, about politics, child rearing, love and sex, about knowledge and reality, brain and mind, truth, goodness, and beauty. Ms. Goldstein’s book is felicitously written, impressively researched, insightful, important, entertaining and glowing with intelligence. Plato is brought marvelously to life, and, as a welcome corollary, philosophy is vindicated against what Ms. Goldstein aptly labels the ‘philosophy-jeerers’—those who rashly claim that philosophy has no intellectual substance or future in this scientific era.”
“Son of God gives oxygen to a claim that early church leaders denounced as historically and theologically false because it contradicts the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life. The movie’s portrayal of Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples creates the impression that Jesus ordered Judas to betray him.
They aren’t the first to do that. An ancient Gnostic sect known as the Cainites honored traditional villains such as Cain and Judas, praising the latter as the closest confidant of Jesus, according to the second-century church father Irenaeus of Lyons.”
“A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that ‘the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.’ Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to ‘precipitous collapse — often lasting centuries — have been quite common.'”
“When the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced a press conference for a “Major Discovery” (capital letters in the original e-mail) involving an unspecified experiment, rumors began to fly immediately. By Friday afternoon, the rumors had coalesced around one particular observatory: the BICEP microwave telescope located at the South Pole. Over the weekend, the chatter focused on a specific issue: polarization in the Cosmic Microwave Background left over from the Big Bang. With the start of the press conference, it’s now clear that we’ve detected the first direct evidence of the inflationary phase of the Big Bang, in which the Universe expanded rapidly in size.”
“One night late in 1979, an itinerant young physicist named Alan Guth, with a new son and a year’s appointment at Stanford, stayed up late with his notebook and equations, venturing far beyond the world of known physics.
He was trying to understand why there was no trace of some exotic particles that should have been created in the Big Bang. Instead he discovered what might have made the universe bang to begin with.”
“A new study of pollen samples extracted from tropical forests in southeast Asia suggests humans have shaped these landscapes for thousands of years. Although scientists previously believed the forests were virtually untouched by people, researchers are now pointing to signs of imported seeds, plants cultivated for food, and land clearing as early as 11,000 years ago—around the end of the last Ice Age.
The study, to be published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Archaeological Science comes from researchers led by paleoecologist Chris Hunt, of Queen’s University, Belfast, who analyzed existing data and examined samples from Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam.”
“We can redream this world and make the dream come real. Human beings are gods hidden from themselves.”
“The Ram, the Bull, the Heavenly Twins,
And next the Crab, the Lion shines —
The Virgin and the Scales,
The Scorpion, Archer, and the Goat,
The Man that Bears the Watering Pot,
And Fish with glittering tails.”
“This attractive pack commemorating the history of freemasonry has the Kings as masters of the lodge, the Queens and Jacks are other masonic officers while the Jokers are two operative masons. The deck contains two interpretation cards explaining the meaning of the Masonic symbolism.”
“I want to go home. I already HAD the ‘magic surgery.’ They put a monster in me.”
“The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years.
The Testament of Cyprian the Mage book launch for the new volume from Jake Stratton-Kent and Scarlet Imprint at The Atlantis Bookshop on March 1st, 2014 at 7pm may be of interest.
“The Testament of Cyprian the Mage is a two-volume work by Jake Stratton-Kent, comprehending The Book of Saint Cyprian and his Magical Elements and an elucidation of The Testament of Solomon. It is approximately 600 pages endowed with charts, tables and seals and is punctuated by specially commissioned pen and ink illustrations by Oliver Liebeskind.
This work draws upon these texts to create a clear understanding of the practice of grimoire magic, not as a discrete or degenerate subset of ceremonial magic, but one which is integrated with folk magic and witchcraft. In particular we discover a shared dramatis personae, the infernal pact, and a common terrain of Wild Hunt and Sabbat.
Within the text we encounter the Chiefs, Kings and Queens of the grimoire tradition; the magical role of the Decans and their stones and plants; lunar magic and magical animals; the gods of Time; the Sibyl and the Hygromanteia; Asmodeus and Oriens; Angelology, Theurgy, Conjunction and the Pact, the Angelic Vice-regent and thwarting Angels; Asclepius, Iamblichus and Neo-Platonism; Paracelsus and the Elemental Spirits; Necromancy, and the principles of spell work.”
“We will be celebrating the launch at The Atlantis Bookshop on Saturday 1st March and you are most welcome to attend. Please RSVP to this email if you are able to join us. If you cannot attend, but would like an Inscribed copy, please drop us a line and we will happily arrange that for you.”
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]
Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many by Erik Hornung, translated by John Baines, the 1996 first edition paperback from Cornell University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“In 1970 Der Eine und die Vielen was published in German. The book was intended to stimulate renewed reflection on the nature and meaning of the gods both within and beyond the confines of egyptology, and to help overcome the bewilderment that is felt by many people in the face of the ‘abstruse’ figures of gods ‘invented’ by priestly schools. These aims seem to have been achieved, but the book’s influence and critical analysis have been confined mostly to German-speaking countries.”
“The debate about the foundations of Egyptian thought and Egyptian ontology, which has been taken up by Jan Assmann in particular, is still in progress. I therefore thought it best to leave my text on these questions as it was, so that it can serve as a starting point for further discussion; any modification or extension of it would have been much too provisional. I hope that the debate will be continued and clarified further in the English-speaking world. There is no end to the question of the gods and their meaning.” — Erik Hornung, Preface to the English Edition
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.
ALL the hot summer I lay in the darkness,
Calling on the winds to pass by me and slay me,
Slay me with light in the heat of the summer;
But the winds had no answer for one who was fallen
Asleep by the wayside, with no lyre to charm them,
No voice of the lyre, and no song to charm them.
Late as I lay there asleep by the wayside,
I heard a voice call to me, low in the silence,
There in the darkness the summer called to me:
“thou who art hidden in the green silence,
Let a time of quietness come now upon thee.
Lay thine head on the earth and slumber on her bosom:
Time and the gods shall pass darkling before thee.”
There in the silence I lay, and I heeded
The slow voice that called me, the grave hand that beckoned,
That beckoned me on through the hall of the silence.
There in the silence there was a green goddess,
Folden her wings, and her hands dumbly folden,
Laying in her lay, as though asleep in the darkness.
Then did I hail her: “O mother, my mother,
Syren of the silence, dumb voice of the darkness,
How shall I have speech of Thee, who know not Thy speaking?
How shall I behold Thee, who art hidden in the darkness?
Lo! I bend mine eyes before Thee, and no sign dost Thou vouchsafe me;
I whisper love-words before Thee, and I know not if Thou hear me,
Thou who art the darling of the Night and of the Silence;
Yellow art Thou as the sunlight through the corn-fields,
Bright as the sun-dawn on the snow-clad mountains,
Slow as the voice of the great green gliding River.
Calmly in Thy silence am I come to rest me,
Now from the world the light hath slowly faded;
I have left the groves of Pan that I might gaze upon Thee,
Gaze upon the Virgin that before Time was begotten,
Mother of Chronos, and the old gods before him,
Child of the womb of the Silence, whose father
Is the unknown breath of the most secret Goddess,
Whose name whoso hath heard is smitten to madness.
“Now do I come before Thee in Thy temple,
With offerings from the oak-woods and the breath of the water
That girds the earth with a girdle of green starlight;
And all the austerity of the brooding summer,
And all the wonder of the starlit spaces
That stare down awesomely upon the lonely marshes,
And the bogs with sucking lips, and the pools that charm the wanderer
Till he forgets the world, and rushes to sleep upon them.”
And still there was silence, and the voice of the world swept by me,
Making in mine ears the noise of tumbling waters;
But two voices I heard, and they spake one to the other:
“Who stands with downcast eyes in the temple of our Lady?”
And the answer: “A wanderer from the world who hath sought the halls of silence;
Yet knoweth he not the Bride of the Darkness,
Her of the sable wings, and eyes of terrible blindness
That see through the worlds and find nothing and nothing,
Who would smite the worlds to peace, save that so she would perish,
And cannot, for that she is a goddess silent and immortal,
Utterly immortal in the gods’ eternal darkness.”
And the first voice cried: “Oh, that we might perish,
And become as pearls of blackness on the breast of the silence,
Lending the waste places of the world our darkness,
That the vision might burst in the brain of the seer,
And we be formed anew, and reborn in the light world.”
But the other voice was silent, and the noise of waters swept me
Back into the world, and I lay asleep on a hill-side.
Bearing for evermore the heart of a goddess,
And the brain of a man, and the wings of the morning
Clipped by the shears of the silence; so must I wander lonely,
Nor know of the light till I enter into the darkness.
OMNIA VINCAM (Victor B Neuburg), Equinox I iv
(Obtained in invocation, June 9–10, 1910 O.S.)
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.