Greater Feast of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, died May 8, 1911 at London, England
Greater Feast of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, died May 8, 1911 at London, England
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 18th, 2014
“Moon, clouds, smoke, skeleton hunt in the air” from Restoring the Lost Sense: Jun 12, 2014 — Craig Conley, Abecedarian
- The Beast is Back — Erik Davis and Maja D’aoust interview Gary Lachman, Expanding Mind
“Thelemic visions, magickal texts, and the tedium of transgression: a talk with occult historian Gary Lachman about his new biography Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World (Tarcher).”
- Theosophical Attitudes towards Science: Past and Present — Egil Asprem
As is typical for esoteric movements of the modern period, the Theosophical current exhibits a deep ambivalence towards the professionalized natural sciences. Active in the middle of the so-called “clash” between science and religion in the latter half of the 19th century, Blavatsky and the early Theosophists sought a critical reconciliation, guided by the quest for esoteric “higher truth.” The negotiation with science and religion was clearly present from Blavatsky’s first major work, Isis Unveiled (1877), which dedicated one volume to a criticism of each, and has continued to twist and turn in various directions until the present day.
“Science” is, in short, a centrally important yet ambiguous “Other” for the entire Theosophical current.
- Opting Out of the System — Inominandum, Strategic Sorcery
The “system” is a house of cards that is perpetrated by force and fraud. I think that taking a stand against that in terms of magic and lifestyle is a worthy thing. But just like I say to people that reject materialism as anathema to spirituality: You must really live that view for it to have meaning.
It is not a matter of your values and your magic being in line. It is a matter of making your life be about something.
- Where the Occult & Pagan Community Lost the Plot — Nick Farrell
The occult community is doomed to be hijacked by right-wing nut-jobs and other idiots because it has become paralysed by its own desire to be “spiritual.”
- Theater as Plague: Radovan Ivšić and the Theater of the Weird — Jon Graham, Weird Fiction Review
Like its counterpart in fiction, the theater of the weird exists on the margins of mainstream culture, where its deadly accuracy when targeting the shibboleths of the cultural consensus can be safely muffled before its subversive potency does any visible damage.
For Ivšić, theatrical space offers the ideal spot for opening that space within the spectator that allows experience of individual singularity not as a rupture, but as a vitally essential difference that makes it possible for the world to breathe. He saw the play as the result of a dark conspiracy between the world and the individual, who intentionally withdraws from this relationship in order to return by means of the Trojan horse of fiction.
- D&D Yoga — swi in collaboration with Sarah Dahnke and Eric Hagan [HT Erik Davis]
D&D Yoga can be played in many ways. The varying flavors range from that of a guided narrative while people do yoga to a far more interactive experience where players are in conversation and play a more active role in the campaign. For the first trial, we thought it would be wise to veer closer to the guided narrative side of things. Players still made decisions and rolled dice to dictate a few directions that the story took but generally we wanted to see how the experiment would play out and then build from there. As we proceed into future events we are building more interactivity into the game.
- Appeals Court Finds Scanning To Be Fair Use — NewYorkCountryLawyer, Slashdot
scanning whole books and making them searchable for research use is a fair use
the creation of a searchable, full text database is a ‘quintessentially transformative use’, that it was ‘reasonably necessary’ to make use of the entire works, that maintaining four copies of the database was reasonably necessary as well, and that the research library did not impair the market for the originals.
- «Dracula è sepolto a Napoli, ecco dov’è la tomba» — Paolo Barbuto, Il Gazzettino
«Il conte Dracula è morto a Napoli, è stato sepolto nel cuore della città ed è ancora qui»: c’è un gruppo di persone che da settimane percorre strade e vicoli a caccia del segreto.
E non sono ragazzini sognatori, fanatici, esaltati, ma serissimi studiosi dell’università di Tallinn in Estonia. Sono convinti di ciò che fanno, sostengono di avere già in mano i documenti che provano la verità, così hanno avviato una campagna di ricerche sul territorio.
“Count Dracula died in Naples, was buried in the heart of the city and is still here”: there is a group of people who for weeks along the streets and alleys in search of the secret.
And kids are not dreamers, fanatics, exalted, but very serious scholars of the University of Tallinn in Estonia. They believe in what they do, they claim to have already got the documents to prove the truth, so they launched a campaign of research in the area.
- From Algernon Charles Swinburne’s Songs Before Sunrise at “Save His Own Soul He Hath No Star” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
His soul is even with the sun
Whose spirit and whose eye are one,
Who seeks not stars by day, nor light
And heavy heat of day by night.
Him can no God cast down, whom none
Can lift in hope beyond the height
Of fate and nature and things done
By the calm rule of might and right
That bids men be and bear and do,
And die beneath blind skies or blue.
- “Two giant planets may cruise unseen beyond Pluto” — Nicola Jenner, NewScientist; from the where-is-your-astrology-now dept.
The monsters are multiplying. Just months after astronomers announced hints of a giant “Planet X” lurking beyond Pluto, a team in Spain says there may actually be two supersized planets hiding in the outer reaches of our solar system.
When potential dwarf planet 2012 VP113 was discovered in March, it joined a handful of unusual rocky objects known to reside beyond the orbit of Pluto. These small objects have curiously aligned orbits, which hints that an unseen planet even further out is influencing their behaviour. Scientists calculated that this world would be about 10 times the mass of Earth and would orbit at roughly 250 times Earth’s distance from the sun.
Now Carlos and Raul de la Fuente Marcos at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain have taken another look at these distant bodies. As well as confirming their bizarre orbital alignment, the pair found additional puzzling patterns. Small groups of the objects have very similar orbital paths. Because they are not massive enough to be tugging on each other, the researchers think the objects are being “shepherded” by a larger object in a pattern known as orbital resonance.
- ‘A Funny Kind Of Relationship’ Alan Moore On Iain Sinclair — Nick Talbot, The Quietus
Whilst not quite a household name, instead occupying a liminal status maintained by a principled refusal to be involved in any Hollywood adaptations of his work, Moore is widely regarded as the finest writer in the medium, and it is difficult to imagine how the comic book landscape would look without the enduring influence of his exceptional work. But it is equally difficult to imagine how From Hell (1989), his first major work beyond the costumed vigilantes and superheroes genre, and also his Magnum Opus, would have looked had he not discovered the work of Iain Sinclair. A quintessential writer’s writer, Sinclair is a Hendrix-cum-Kevin Shields of the English language, mixing scholarly historical research, formal training and technical linguistic virtuosity with a wildly impressionistic, stream-of-consciousness prose-poetry delivery that is dazzling, dizzying, and for those with literary pretensions, frankly dispiriting in its apparently effortless genius. Sinclair’s subject is predominantly London, most often East London, and the relationship between its history, its continually shifting cityscape and the psyche of those who inhabit it. Sharing similar concerns, themes and stylistic flourishes with Peter Ackroyd, both with works appearing in the eighties and nineties, this uniquely East London-focused micro-genre came to be dubbed ‘psychogeography’. Soon complemented by Will Self and others, the movement could be interpreted as a response to the corporatist regeneration of London’s East End by the Thatcherite Conservative government in the 1980s. The spatial and historical density of London allows for an unusually potent and apparently limitless store of inspiration, but what marks out Sinclair in particular is his ability to see patterns, sigils and correspondences where perhaps the rest of us see dog shit, broken fencing and inane graffiti.
- “Eating Flower Spirits” — Sarah Anne Lawless
Summer flowers are brought inside, painted the colours of sarees and gypsy vardos, and fill tea pots and canning jars. Nighshade, poppies, red clover, comfrey, daisies, sage flowers, and foxgloves. Some from the yard, some escaped from gardens into the neglected back alleys of the old neighbourhood. I know that by taking them home I am consuming them, making their already short lives even shorter, but I try my best to ask sweetly for their blessings before I snip off their heads and bring them home. I try my best to let them know why and what will be done with their beautiful sacrifice – their souls burned up like incense to be eaten by my own beloved spirits – eaters of flowers.
- “What Athens Has Got To Do With Jerusalem: The Marriage of Greek and Jewish Themes in the Apocryphon of John” — Dan Attrell
This paper presents a summary overview of how the Apocryphon of John, an apocalyptic work drawn from the Nag Hammadi Library, is explicitly the product of an syncretism between Greek language/philosophy and Jewish mythology/mysticism in the 1st century CE.
- Coincidentia Oppositorum: Exploring the Dialogue in the Recent Historical Literature of Medieval and Early Modern European Alchemy — Dan Attrell
The study of alchemy has posed a number of complications for historians. Among historians of science who wrote as late as the mid-20th century, alchemy was perceived to be a mystical philosophy, an obstacle to the progress of „rational‟ chemistry, and even a pathology of the mind. This rather out-dated tendency toward knee-jerk dismissals has, however, been recently curtailed as the wider community of medievalists and early modern historians began to understand alchemy on its own terms, having placed it firmly within in the context of an ‘alchemical worldview.’ The recent dialogue among historians concerning alchemy in Europe has chiefly been directed toward (a) understanding of what ‘alchemy’ actually meant to the people who lived amongst it or practiced it themselves; (b) determining to what extent alchemy was interrelated with the religious consciousness of its practitioners; and most noticeably (c) reconciling or collapsing a number of exaggerated, artificial, and misleading dichotomies within our modern perceptions of medieval and early modern alchemy. Was European alchemy a ‘theoretical’ or a ‘practical’ art? Was it a ‘spiritual’ or a ‘material’ pursuit? Was it a ‘medicinal’ or a ‘metallurgical’ practice? How and when was ‘alchemy’ differentiated from ‘chemistry’? Were they ‘on the fringes’ of learned society, or were they at the cutting edge of knowledge as defined by traditional institutions? Were alchemists outright ‘frauds’ (Betrüger) or misguided ‘fools’?
These are all questions which a handful of historians have recently tackled and shown to be somewhat misguided. Such dichotomies arose from the dialogue of recent centuries wherein scholars and theorists from various disciplines began exploring and reconceptualising alchemy and its history; each angle, each discipline, each perspective offered some rather rigid model for understanding alchemy, and many of these models crystallized into opposing camps. Alchemy, however, was never a static or monolithic pursuit and thus eludes any attempt to give such simple definitions. In response to this problem, it is this paper’s goal to flesh out the most recent scholarly dialogue – to outline and synthesize the most pertinent points made in the recent historical literature concerning alchemy. What I hope to show is how the most recent historical research tells us that ‘alchemy’ meant many different things to many different people at many different junctures in history, even among the relatively isolated practitioners of Europe. With no source of official authority such as the Church or the University to govern alchemy as a branch of knowledge, the art was free to take on and accumulate a number of its practitioners’ idiosyncrasies. Free as it was, as a model to explore and communicate features of the known universe, European alchemy was a rich and dynamic practice which contained within itself all of the artificial polarities mentioned above.
- Rewilding Witchcraft — Peter Grey, Scarlet Imprint
We have mistaken social and economic change for the result of our own advocacy. Marching in lock-step with what used to be called mainstream, but is now mono-culture, we have disenchanted ourselves, handed over our teeth and claws and bristling luxuriant furs. I will not be part of this process, because to do so is to be complicit with the very forces that are destroying all life on earth. It is time for Witchcraft not to choose, but to remember which side it is on in this struggle.
- “London’s calling: the city as character in urban fantasy” — Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent, Spiral Nature
Each of these series draws on what I would say are the main characteristics of London’s soul. It’s old – continually inhabited since before Roman times; it’s powerful — but nowhere near as much as its past as the heart of an empire; it’s stubborn — enduring centuries of hardship and prosperity, adapting to huge changes in population and traumas ranging from plague to fire to Nazi bombs to the very modern stresses of wealth inequality. London changes — it has to — but there’s some core of its personality that always remains.
Of course, London as a whole is the sum of its parts, none of which are quite alike — the genius loci of Camden differs greatly from those of Catford and Chelsea. But each also touch the greater gestalt of the place. Inevitably, the best way to grasp the specific psychogeography of a place is to walk its streets.
- Weekly Apocryphote: June 8-14 — April D DeConick, Forbidden Gospels
You have not come to suffer. Rather you have come to escape from what binds you. Release yourself, and what has bound you will be undone. Save yourself, so that what is (in you) may be saved … Why are you hesitating?
If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.
Maroney’s book has much to offer any serious student of occultism. His historical essay on H.P. Blavatsky and her successors packs a remarkable amount of information and insight into less than sixty pages. The book is published under a curious aegis; the Chaosium game company has issued it as part of their series of Cthulhiana. Accordingly, Maroney details horror fantasist H.P. Lovecraft’s attitude toward Theosophy and his interest in The Book of Dzyan. As an appendix, the book includes a “suitably abridged” text of the Hodgson report, an investigation of Blavatsky’s Adyar operations that was commissioned by the Society for Psychical Research in 1884. The report proved to be extremely damaging to Blavatsky’s credibility.
The titled feature of the volume is a set of extracts from Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine, particularly those which claim to directly recount the contents of the Stanzas of Dzyan, from a fabulously ancient manuscript which Blavatsky cited as the source for her central theses regarding cosmogony, prehistory, and evolution. The first section, “Theogenesis,” is decidedly metaphysical. According to Maroney, Aleister Crowley claimed that his own “Liber Trigrammaton” was comparable to the Stanzas of Dzyan, and if a parallel were drawn from Crowley’s book of trigrams, it would be to this “Theogenesis.”
“Anthropogenesis” is the second section of the Stanzas of Dzyan; as Maroney notes, it “reads like the outline of a Lovecraftian weird tale, peopled with magical characters and broods of terrible monsters.” (p. 64) The volume of The Secret Doctrine devoted to “Anthropogenesis” might be most easily compared with P.B. Randolph’s Pre-Adamite Man (1888): both are concerned with an esoteric pre-history and its historical consequences. In Crowley’s writings, the closest approach made to this topic is the “aeonic” historical model of Isis, Osiris, and Horus.
Maroney writes that Crowley “regarded his own system, Thelema, as the child of the Golden Dawn and Theosophy.” (p. 47) The Aeon of Isis can reference the Theosophical Society as the province of the Matriarch Blavatsky, whose Isis Unveiled was her great doctrinal debut. On those lines, the Aeon of Osiris would be the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn under the Patriarch Mathers, with its Hierophant taking the god-form of Osiris. Then Crowley’s Thelemic organizing would be the Child Horus of these parents.
I recommend The Book of Dzyan as a fascinating study in the creativity of Blavatsky and her heirs. [via]
Lords of the Left-Hand Path: Forbidden Practices and Spiritual Heresies by Stephen E Flowers [also] has arrived at the Reading Room courtesy of Inner Traditions.
“Examines the left-hand path and reveals the masters of the tradition
• Explores the practices and beliefs of many left-hand path groups, including the Cult of Set, the Hell-Fire Club, and heretical Sufi, Zoroastrian, Christian, and Muslim sects
• Investigates many infamous occult personalities, including Helena Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley, the Marquis de Sade, and Anton LaVey
• Explains the true difference between the right-hand path and the left-hand path—union with and dependence on God versus individual freedom and self-empowerment
From black magic and Satanism to Gnostic sects and Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way, the left-hand path has been linked to many practices, cults, and individuals across the ages. Stephen Flowers, Ph.D., examines the methods, teachings, and historical role of the left-hand path, from its origins in Indian tantric philosophy to its underlying influence in current world affairs, and reveals which philosophers, magicians, and occult figures throughout history can truly be called “Lords of the Left-Hand Path.”
Flowers explains that while the right-hand path seeks union with and thus dependence on God, the left-hand path seeks a “higher law” based on knowledge and power. It is the way of self-empowerment and true freedom. Beginning with ancient Hindu and Buddhist sects and moving Westward, he examines many alleged left-hand path groups, including the Cult of Set, the Yezidi Devil Worshippers, the Assassins, the Neoplatonists, the Hell-Fire Club, the Bolsheviks, the occult Nazis, and several heretical Sufi, Zoroastrian, Christian, and Muslim sects. Following a carefully crafted definition of a true adherent of the left-hand path based on two main principles—self-deification and challenge to the conventions of “good” and “evil”—the author analyzes many famous and infamous personalities, including H. P. Blavatsky, Faust, the Marquis de Sade, Austin Osman Spare, Aleister Crowley, Gerald Gardner, Anton LaVey, and Michael Aquino, and reveals which occult masters were Lords of the Left-Hand Path.
Flowers shows that the left-hand path is not inherently evil but part of our heritage and our deep-seated desire to be free, independent, and in control of our destinies.” [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.
Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality by Gary Lachman, who also authored Swedenborg: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas, through by Tarcher, has recently been published and which may be of interest.
“Pioneer. Visionary. Provocateur. Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky—mystic, occult writer, child of Russian aristocrats, spiritual seeker who traveled five continents, and founder (with Henry Steel Olcott) of the Theosophical Society—is still being hailed as an icon and scorned as a fraud more than 120 years after her death. But despite perennial interest in her life, writings, and philosophy, no single biography has examined the controversy and legacy of this influential thinker who helped define modern alternative spirituality—until now.
Gary Lachman, the acclaimed spiritual biographer behind volumes such as Rudolf Steiner and Jung the Mystic, brings us an in-depth look at Blavatsky, objectively exploring her unique and singular contributions toward introducing Eastern and esoteric spiritual ideas to the West during the nineteenth century, as well as the controversies that continue to color the discussions of her life and work.” [via]