Tag Archives: hermetism

The Wine & The Will

The Wine and the Will: Rabelais’s Bacchic Christianity by Florence M Weinberg, the 1972 first edition hardcover from Wayne State University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Florence M Weinberg The Wine & The Will from Wayne State University Press

“In a solid contribution to the field of French Renaissance literature, this study follows the trends of criticism initiated by the revolutionary discoveries of Glison, Febvre, and Screech, focusing on two major emblematic aspects of Rabelais’s novels. Using primary Renaissance iconological material, the author reconstructs the processes by which Renaissance authors (and Rabelais) coded their teachings in symbols that were both entertaining and useful to the learned reader of the time.

The author investigates two major Christian and humanistic aspects of Rabelais’s novels which were meant to test the ingenuity of a learned audience. She takes into account Hellenic and Hellenistic traditions of hermetism—numerology and symbolic iconology in their medieval and Renaissance transformations. The study is designed to show how Rabelais, a Renaissance humanist, fuses comic popular and pagan traditions to convey an evangelical Christian message. It reveals hidden meanings of episodes in Rabelais’s work previously dismissed as simply amusing, and conveys how humor and irony combined in ‘folly’ becomes the vehicle for wisdom.

The symbolism of the wine and the will, explored and understood in all its theological and humanistic complexity, deepens our understanding of Rabelais’s work and Renaissance thought in general.”

 

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.

A Report on Current Magical and Esoteric Blogs

“A Report on Current Magical and Esoteric Blogs” by Laura Mitchell in the Spring 2013 issue of the Societas Magica Newsletter (PDF Link) includes mention of the Hermetic Library Blog. [HT Sarah Veale]

Societas Magica Newsletter for Spring 2013 (PDF)

I won’t lie: I’m in pretty good company on this short list.

When Mitchell writes that the library blog “is a combination of the more academic-minded and the experiences and thoughts of those engaged in esotericism as a living tradition,” I feel gratified that I’ve apparently been successful in trying to do my little part to bridge some of the traditional divides between town-gown and praxis-theory, and certainly I agree that my musings on the blog are not particularly academic, though I sometimes I do try a bit harder than others, that isn’t my goal necessarily for the blog itself, per se, as much as adding value to the canonical library site as well as having a place for some personal reflective practice, content curation and promotion, and, well … whatever else it is I do!

I’m grouped under the heading of “Hermeticism” along with the blog of the Ritman Library in Amsterdam. One might quibble about the variety of what people mean by “Hermeticism” as opposed to my intentional, personal use of “Hermetism” to generally differentiate between a former modern and a latter historical, or Latin, traditions; just as I’ve tried to be clear about carving out an even additional space for the use of the word “Hermetic” that is distinct, especially as used in the name, and thus prima facie mission statement, of the Hermetic Library; but, ultimately, using “Hermeticism” as the umbrella is fair, pretty normal usage, and certainly matches one aspect of the scope I cover on the blog and at the library, and either way I’m certainly quite flattered, pleased and proud to be included in the list.

You may want to check out Societas Magica itself as well as the other short list of blogs other than this one which are featured.

Mitchell discusses some of the advantages and benefits of the medium in general in the article:

“For those who are not already engaged with the genre, blogging has several advantages as a mode of exchange for scholars. Most importantly, academic blogging is much faster than traditional scholarly media, not only in terms of publishing speed (virtually instant), but also in terms of enabling quick feedback from the reading public. This can make it a good venue for advancing new theories and ideas as well as posting short pieces of the “notes and queries” type. Part and parcel of their greater speed, academic blogs tend to be informal in style, which makes them quick and easy to write, and can be more inviting for readers too. For me, blog posts have sometimes had unexpected professional benefits of various kinds. As a (fairly new) active participant in the academic blogging community, I have found that writing posts gives me a unique opportunity to test out new ideas or examine a subject that I might otherwise avoid because it falls outside of my area of expertise.”

Egil Asperem notes with amusement that this is a round-up of blogs in a newsletter. But, I have to be honest and say the most amusing part for me is when Mitchell says that my blog is “run by an anonymous practitioner (who refers to him or herself as ‘the librarian’)” … which boggles me a little bit, since I think it’s pretty clear who it is behind the mask, so to speak. But, as I have been identified at various times as anonymous, enigmatic and of indeterminate gender as well as being an egotistical self-promoter (based on the same evidence natheless!), I clearly and definitely now have accumulated the necessary mystique and hidden-in-plain-sight misdirection to carry off a double life as both the mild-mannered alter-ego as well as the caped mastermind known as The Librarian. Well, it’s time for me to be off and start that League of Evil now, I suppose! Work, work, work …

Network for the Study of Esotericism in Antiquity

You may be interested in Network for the Study of Esotericism in Antiquity, a brand new thematic network associated with the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE). This new group “aims to bring together scholars who specialize in esoteric phenomena in antiquity, regardless of discipline, in an effort to create a dialogue about shared issues and research while providing the necessary resources to facilitate further study.”

There are a number of people involved in the group, but of those whom I’ve mentioned on occasion previously elsewhere I will mention specifically April DeConick, one of the founding members, and Sarah Veale, the website coordinator. The NSEA coordinator is Dylan M Burns of University of Copenhagan and you can check out more about the founding members on their about page.

Network for the Study of Esotericism in Antiquity

“AncientEsotericism.org is the website for the Network for the Study of Ancient Esotericism (NSEA), a thematic network associated with the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE). NSEA specializes in the study of esoteric phenomena of the ancient period and provides contact for specialists of ancient esoteric thought, history, and literature.

This website is intended as a resource for scholars and students. While the ancient sources (Gnostic, theurgic, Neoplatonic, Hermetic, etc.) of Western Esotericism possess enormous importance for the development of esoteric currents from the fourteenth century onwards, there remains only a minimum of interaction between the antiquity experts and their (proto)-modern colleagues. The Network therefore is intended to 1) introduce scholarship on ancient esotericism to students of Western Esotericism, 2) serve as a forum in which to exchange ideas, notes and references, etc. outside of other professional bodies which are not concerned with esotericism per se, 3) to coordinate study and workshops with other working groups on the subject, such as the Society of Biblical Literature’s Section on Esotericism and Mysticism in Antiquity, and 4) (and most importantly) to provide a junction of the many resources online that can serve as aids in the study of this fascinating and difficult material (dictionaries, textual corpora, blogs, etc.).

Founding Members of the NSEA include:

Brian Alt (University of Indiana)
Dylan M. Burns (University of Copenhagen)
April Deconick (Rice University)
Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta (University of Groningen)
Nicholas Marshall (Aarhus University)
Joyce Pijnenburg (University of Amsterdam)
Lisa Emma Pizzighella (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)
Kocku von Stuckrad (University of Groningen)
David Tibet (Macquarie University)” [via]

 

“The Network for the Study of Esotericism in Antiquity (NSEA) is happy to announce our new website, AncientEsotericism.org. With continually-updated online resources news, and conference announcements, AncientEsotericism.org is intended to be a one-stop location for scholars and students of the field.

What is esotericism in antiquity? This is a broad term that governs the use of secrecy, concealment, and revelation to talk about the really important stuff—from the true identity of the creator of the cosmos (Gnosticism) to the keys to the heavenly palaces (Hekhalot literature) to how to talk about the indescribable One (Neoplatonic mysticism), etc. So if the subject involves arcana celestial and subterrestrial, it’s ancient esotericism. Scholars in various disciplines have struggled to describe a spike in “secret revelations” in Hellenistic and Late Antique religion (Hengel) or the trend towards mythology in the “Underworld of Platonism” (Dillon)—what all this diverse material has in common is an interest in secrecy and revelation for dealing with the divine, and a common reception-history in “esotericism” in the modern era, ranging from Renaissance Platonism to the New Age.

The website is intended provide a guide to the wonderful, but dizzying, online resources available for the study of this vast and difficult body of literature. My goal (in collaboration with Sarah Veale) was to create the website I would have died to see when I was an undergraduate and just starting to get excited about this material, but totally confused about how to go about studying it, what scholarship was already out there, and, most importantly, where to find the most useful primary sources and reference materials on the web. A lot of the resources gathered here will be familiar to you—but perhaps not to your students, or colleagues in an adjoining field, or a friend. So, if someone has come your way who is starting to get into Nag Hammadi, or Iamblichus, or the apocalypses, etc. and asks you for some guidance to what’s out there, please consider making this one of the links you pass on to them. We will do our best to make it worth your while.

We encourage those interested in these fields to submit calls for papers, workshop notices, conference announcements, and other pertinent news and resources for inclusion on the website. You can submit by email or through our online submissions form. Those wishing to get involved with NSEA are invited to contact us for more information.” [via email press release]