The Witches’ Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic by Thomas Hatsis, has arrived at the Reading Room courtesy of the publisher Inner Traditions, under the Park Street Press imprint.
“In the medieval period preparations with hallucinogenic herbs were part of the practice of veneficium, or poison magic. This collection of magical arts used poisons, herbs, and rituals to bewitch, heal, prophesy, infect, and murder. In the form of psyche-magical ointments, poison magic could trigger powerful hallucinations and surrealistic dreams that enabled direct experience of the Divine. Smeared on the skin, these entheogenic ointments were said to enable witches to commune with various local goddesses, bastardized by the Church as trips to the Sabbat–clandestine meetings with Satan to learn magic and participate in demonic orgies.
Examining trial records and the pharmacopoeia of witches, alchemists, folk healers, and heretics of the 15th century, Thomas Hatsis details how a range of ideas from folk drugs to ecclesiastical fears over medicine women merged to form the classical “witch” stereotype and what history has called the “witches’ ointment.” He shares dozens of psychoactive formulas and recipes gleaned from rare manuscripts from university collections from all over the world as well as the practices and magical incantations necessary for their preparation. He explores the connections between witches’ ointments and spells for shape shifting, spirit travel, and bewitching magic. He examines the practices of some Renaissance magicians, who inhaled powerful drugs to communicate with spirits, and of Italian folk-witches, such as Matteuccia di Francisco, who used hallucinogenic drugs in her love potions and herbal preparations, and Finicella, who used drug ointments to imagine herself transformed into a cat.
Exploring the untold history of the witches’ ointment and medieval hallucinogen use, Hatsis reveals how the Church transformed folk drug practices, specifically entheogenic ones, into satanic experiences.” — back cover
The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales: The Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose by Bernard Roger, has arrived at the Reading Room courtesy of Inner Traditions.
“In his Mystery of the Cathedrals, the great alchemist Fulcanelli revealed the teachings of the hermetic art encoded in the sculpture and stained glass of the great cathedrals of Europe. What he did for churches, his disciple Bernard Roger does here for fairy tales.
Through exhaustive analysis of the stories collected by the Brothers Grimm, Perrault, and others, Roger demonstrates how hermetic ideas, especially those embodied in alchemy and Freemasonry, can be found in fairy tales, including such popular stories as Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood as well as the tales attributed to “Mother Goose.” The goose has long been an important esoteric symbol in the Western Mystery tradition. The stories told under the aegis of Mother Goose carry these symbols and secrets, concealed in what hermetic adepts have long called “the language of the birds.”
Drawing upon the original versions of fairy tales, not the sanitized accounts made into children’s movies, the author reveals how the tales illustrate each stage of the Great Work and the alchemical iterations required to achieve them. He shows how the common motif of a hero or heroine sent in search of a rare object by a sovereign before their wishes can be granted is analogous to the Masonic quest for the lost tomb of Hiram or the alchemist’s search for the fire needed to perform the Great Work. He also reveals how the hero is always aided by a green bird, which embodies the hermetic understanding of the seed and the fruit.
By unveiling the secret teachings within fairy tales, Roger demonstrates the truly ancient lineage of these initiatory stories and how they originated as the trigger to push humanity toward higher levels of consciousness.” — back cover
Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Sacred Rite of Magical Love: A Ceremony of Word and Flesh by Maria de Naglowska, translated with introduction by Donald Traxler, from Inner Traditions.
This slender volume is the third of Donald Traxler’s translations of the works of Maria de Naglowska, from her writings as a mystic and proponent of sex magic in Paris circa 1930. Its format is something of an inversion of the previous two volumes. Where those contain doctrinal instruction, with practical intimations in the form of fictional narratives about the initiation of a hypothetical candidate, this one is instead a murky pseudo-memoir, somewhat comparable to novels like Paschal Beverly Randolph’s Ravalette: The Rosicrucian’s Story or Franz Bardon’s Frabato the Magician.
A central feature of the reminiscence of “Xenophanta” (the book’s speaker, and the byline of its original serialization under the name Xenia Norval) is her encounter with what certainly appears to be a personified Lucifer character — this, despite Traxler’s continued quotation of Naglowska’s injunction not “to imagine Satan … as living outside of us, for such imagining is proper to idolaters” (xiii). “Xenia’s” attraction to this Other put me very much in mind of The Story of Mary MacLane — and it is not impossible that MacLane’s 1901 confessions (titled in MS I Await the Devil’s Coming) had been accessible to Naglowska, perhaps even in French translation. (As a translator of P.B. Randolph’s work, Naglowska could certainly have read MacLane in the original English, though.)
An enigmatic diagram called the AUM CLOCK is drawn by Xenia under praeternatural inspiration in the course of the story, and it serves as the preoccupation of Naglowska’s explanatory preface. Traxler supplies an appendix in which he analyzes the contradictory details regarding this figure, and then proposes an abstruse astrological interpretation of it. His astrological reasoning leads him to identify certain dates as being indicated, but he doesn’t even go so far as to propose why any dates would be highlighted in this arcane manner.
Another appendix from Traxler investigates Naglowska’s sources. It is gratifying to see him expose the Joachimist bedrock on which her teachings rest, and he is doubtless correct about the influences of Eugene Vintras and Henri Bergson. It was a little disappointing that he omitted the French occult tradition of Sophianic mysticism stemming from the Eglise Gnostique of Jules Doinel, which was even more consequential than Vintras for Jean Bricaud, whom Traxler notes as a possible transmitter of Vintrasian ideas in Naglowska’s milieu.
As with Traxler’s other Naglowska books, this one is an important contribution to the literature of sex magic as developed in the 20th century. [via]
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 30th, 2014
“Afterlife With Archie” Issue 6 is a comic every Lovecraft fan will enjoy — Mike Davis, Lovecraft eZine
Here are some top gatherum posts from the BBS this week:
- The Baphomet Sculpture Hidden in Brooklyn — Jena Cumbo, Village Voice
“Lucien Greaves (a.k.a. Doug Mesner), one of the people who commissioned the sculpture, that now sits in a warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, asked the sculptor — we’ll call him “Jack” — to forgo the breasts. This Baphomet is smooth-chested and muscular, with thin, shapely lips and rectangular pupils. The sculptor based his physique on a blend of Michelangelo’s David and Iggy Pop.”
- ‘Join us in our ritual,’ beckons Cthulhu-based cryptocurrency — Adrianne Jeffries, The Verge
“Written in the voodoo cultspeak of futurist horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ the creepy Cthulhu Offerings may be the most confusing digital currency yet.
‘The time draws near, the return of The Great Old One is upon us,’ writes the developer. ‘Join us in our ritual.'”
- 70,000 Year-Old African Settlement Unearthed — Past Horizons
“During ongoing excavations in northern Sudan, Polish archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Poznań, have discovered the remains of a settlement estimated to 70,000 years old. This find, according to the researchers, seems to contradict the previously held belief that the construction of permanent structures was associated with the so-called Great Exodus from Africa and occupation of the colder regions of Europe and Asia.”
- The Occult Knowledge – Strategies of Epistemology in La Société Voudon Gnostique — Maria Liberg, a Bachelor thesis in Religious Studies at University of Gothenburg, supervised by Henrik Bogdan
“The academic research on Western esotericism in general and contemporary occultism in particular has been largely neglected in earlier scholarship and has only recently gained serious academic attention. This thesis examines how the contemporary occult group, La Société Voudon Gnostique, headed by David Beth and an organization under the general current Voudon Gnosis, legitimate their claims to knowledge, mainly through three discursive strategies of epistemology offered by Olav Hammer, namely: the appeal to (1) tradition; (2) scientism as a language of faith; and narratives of (3) experience. Since Hammer argues that these strategies can be found in esoteric currents in general, but only examines theosophy, anthroposophy and New Age as well as only examining “esoteric spokespersons” this thesis aims at examine them in relation to contemporary occultism as well as in relation to both the spokesperson and to “ordinary adherents”. In order do this, La Société Voudon Gnostique works as a case study in qualification of being a contemporary occult group that has gained no academic attention before.
The conclusions of this thesis are that the strategies are all prevalent, to a more or less extent, in La Société Voudon Gnostique and they are also used by the adherents. Besides the strategies proposed by Hammer, this thesis argues that the secrecy and elitist approach, which can be found in the texts, also can be seen as a discursive strategy of epistemology.”
- Christian Persecution: The Movie! — Scott Stenwick, Augoeides; about the forthcoming movie Persecuted
“Persecuted, is based on a laughably impossible premise that the audience is supposed to find threatening. In this case, it’s the government attempting to legislate religion, something Poor Oppressed Christians are totally for until they realize that religious freedom also applies to non-Christians. Then they go off the rails about how wrong and unfair it is that they aren’t treated as special and given more privileges than everyone else.”
- The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda — Mark Ames, NSFWCORP at Alternet
“Pull up libertarianism’s floorboards, look beneath the surface into the big business PR campaign’s early years, and there you’ll start to get a sense of its purpose, its funders, and the PR hucksters who brought the peculiar political strain of American libertarianism into being — beginning with the libertarian movement’s founding father, Milton Friedman.”
“That is how libertarianism in America started: As an arm of big business lobbying.”
- Aldous Huxley quoted at Reversed Alchemy — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
“Certain authors possess the secret of a kind of reversed alchemy; they know how to turn the richest gold into lead. The most interesting subjects become in their hands so tedious that we can hardly bear to read about them.”
- Ian Clark quoted at The Limits of “Unlimited” — Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed
“By speaking up, we are not only defending public libraries but the entire notion of public services. Silence is not how we defend ourselves against an ideological battle, it is how we surrender.”
- More Songs for the Witch Woman — John Coulthart, feuilleton
“It’s been a great pleasure in recent years seeing the welling of interest in Cameron’s work. In 2001 when I was compiling notes for an abandoned study of occult cinema, Cameron as artist, witch or mere human being was a shadowy presence about whom nothing substantial seemed to have been written; her art was impossible to see anywhere, all one had were fleeting references in books”
- Love Spells — Sarah Anne Lawless
“Love spells are black magic. Love spells to manipulate the body, heart, and soul. Love spells to dominate, to bind, to cause destruction and madness and pain.
Love spells are not about love, they are about the lustful eye and the selfish heart. Be honest with yourself about it and then move on to the work at hand.”
- Bible Stories for Newly Formed and Young Corporations — Tom the Dancing Bug, Boing Boing
- Stick-Gods — Inonibird
“‘Stick-Gods’ is the culmination of over a dozen years of fascination with Ancient Egypt—particularly, its mythology and deities. Whether you’re studying Egyptology, a practicing Kemetic or just a fan of myths, there should be something in there for you! I’m doing my best to balance informed content with a fair bit of silliness. …And puns. Lots of puns.”
- William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, by Marsha Keith Schuchard — Gesigewigu’s, Spiral Nature; a review of William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision from Inner Traditions
“Reading William Blake one cannot help but realize this is a man who is both religious and spiritually active, especially his poems known as the prophecies. The question is what was the nature of his spiritual life? What inspired Blake to create works that are both heavily Christian and at the same time antagonistic to many Christian ideals? The surprising answer is laid out as Schuchard leads us back into the complex religious web of mystical Christianity of the 17th and 18th century.”
- A Victim of Drunken Channeling — Scott Stenwick, Augoeides
“Aleister Crowley criticized spiritism as ‘a sort of indiscriminate necromancy’ because of a complete lack of formal magical procedures and protections, in which many mediums simply opened themselves up to whatever spiritual force happened to be present. Modern channelers such as Knight still employ essentially the same methods that Crowley was talking about. As such, there’s a real possibility that any channeling attempt could reach just about any spirit, like some sort of metaphysical Chatroulette.”
- Mary Magdalene and the Gospel according to Mary — Kate Cooper; an edited excerpt from Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women from Overlook Press
“The argument between the four disciples seems to be our anonymous writer’s way of exploring the different positions being taken by the men and women of his own day on the question of an alternative tradition being handed down by women. But he is also expressing his concern that the Church is changing, and not for the better. In his eyes, Peter seems to represent the voice of a faction in the community which wants to ‘make rules or lay down laws other than the Saviour gave’ – in other words, a group that wants to develop an institutional structure to replace the more fluid and informal movement of the early decades. This was clearly a topical warning after the death of the disciples who had known Jesus. Levi thinks that the new rules are a way of drawing the community away from fulfilling its task of preaching the gospel. The anonymous writer seems to be using Levi to suggest that too much emphasis on authority from the ‘Peter faction’ is stifling the Church.”
- “Afterlife With Archie” Issue 6 is a comic every Lovecraft fan will enjoy — Mike Davis, Lovecraft eZine
“As the story begins, our heroine Sabrina Spellman is relating one of her eldritch dreams to her psychiatrist, Dr. Lovecraft. Sabrina has apparently been committed to an institution because after her aunts died in a house fire, she had a breakdown and couldn’t deal with the reality of their death.
But is that really what happened?”
If you’d like to participate in the Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS. You can check out all the other gatherum posts, like posts you enjoy, and even add your own posts with links to other things of interest, related to the subject matter of the library, from elsewhere around the Internet.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 16th, 2014
Hannah Kunkle’s Controversial Project Turns Kim Kardashian Into The Devil, The Virgin Mary And Even Jesus — Victoria Casal-Data, Beautiful/Decay
- The Dark Ages — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
“Perhaps in time to come the so-called Dark Ages may include our own.”
- Witch Deposits and Witch Bottles — Gillian Bagwell, Wonders & Marvels
“As I began to write my forthcoming novel Venus in Winter, I found an article about the practices common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of placing a shoe within a wall or of concealing other collections of items as ‘witch deposits’ that intended to deflect malevolent spirits or witches’ curses. Witch deposits might include ‘lucky’ items such as family heirlooms or objects associated with someone considered spiritually powerful. Another purpose for witch deposits may have been the desire of the householders to leave their mark after they were dead and gone.”
- The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, by Claude Lecouteux — Freeman Presson, Spiral Nature; a review of Lecouteux’s The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets: Tradition and Craft from Inner Traditions
“The priests inveighing against these charms were particularly intent on discouraging the use of magical characters (alphabetic or sigilic writing that conveys spiritual power). They sometimes waxed poetic: ‘The demon slithers in the characters like the serpent beneath the flowers.’ This ties nicely into his statement that ‘the unknown always inspires the Church with fear.’
Lecouteux summarizes part of this history thus: ‘Implicit in the background are notions of natural, licit magic and illicit black magic,’ ((p. 30)) after giving one of many examples of a churchman condemning the talismanic art as being an implicit pact with a demon, a pattern which, as he points out, is ‘commonly repeated throughout the sixteenth century.’ What this means to me is that the Faustian current which arose in early modern magick didn’t just appear without help. Apparently, it is as possible to call an egregore into being by constant execration as by constant evocation!
- ISIS threatens to destroy the Kaaba after capturing Saudi Arabia — Vestnik Kavkaza [HT disinformation]
“Representatives of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) stated that they will destroy the Kaaba after they capture Saudi Arabia, APA reports quoting Turkish media that ISIS wants to take control of the city of Arar in Saudi Arabia and start operations there.
ISIS member Abu Turab Al Mugaddasi said that they would destroy the Kaaba in Mecca: ‘If Allah wills, we will kill those who worship stones in Mecca and destroy the Kaaba. People go to Mecca to touch the stones, not for Allah.'”
- Readymake: Duchamp Chess Set — Scott Kidall and Bryan Cera [HT Boing Boing]
“Readymake: Duchamp Chess Set is a 3D-printed chess set generated from an archival photograph of Marcel Duchamp’s own custom and hand-carved game. His original physical set no longer exists. We have resurrected the lost artifact by digitally recreating it, and then making the 3D files available for anyone to print.
Inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s readymade — an ordinary manufactured object that the artist selected and modified for exhibition – the readymake brings the concept of the appropriated object to the realm of the internet, exploring the web’s potential to re-frame information and data, and their reciprocal relationships to matter and ideas. Readymakes transform photographs of objects lost in time into shared 3D digital spaces to provide new forms and meanings.”
- Carl Jung’s Surreally Illustrated “The Red Book” Documents The Therapist’s Psychospiritual Journey — Jené Gutierrez, Beautiful/Decay; about C G Jung’s The Red Book
“This journal chronicles a deeply personal voyage of self-discovery that Jung did not wish to be published while he was alive for fear that the book could ruin his professional and personal life, and that people would think him mentally unstable. However, it’s the belief of Jungian scholar Sonu Shamdasani that Jung intended for this work to eventually be published. Shamdasani points to the fact that Jung’s journal is addressed, ‘dear friends,’ and that that he would often lend the journal to friends and patients during his lifetime. After Jung died in 1961, his heirs were reluctant to release the contents of the book, and kept it stored away in a bank vault in Switzerland. It took Shamdasani 3 years to convince his heirs to allow The Red Book to be published, and an additional 13 years for the entirety of the calligraphic text to be translated from German to English.”
- How to plan a pilgrimage — Jarred Triskelion, Spiral Nature
“In this technological age, there are few places that cannot be reached in relative ease and comfort. For a pilgrimage, however, the journey is as important as the destination. […] You gain much by connecting with the environment through which you are travelling. It lends context to the site you are visiting as well deepening the sense of achievement felt at the end.”
- Oldness — Ian Corrigan, Into the Mound
“As I usually say, if one is lucky, one gets old. One of the goals of traditional magic has always been to extend life. For a Vedic yogi ‘immortality’ meant a lifespan of 100 years or more, as average lifespans of 40 or 50 years rolled on by. For many of my generation, and many more of those just following, 100 years will be achieved by the magic of modern culture and scientific medicine, far more effectively than it was ever managed by sorcery or alchemy.
But, as they say, ‘Eat right, achieve wisdom, die anyway.’ Our spans are not determined by our effort, but by the capricious (or sneaky) cutting of the thread, the song ended in a half-measure, the nail-flick of a passing giant. To this annoyingly unfair reality, we can only respond with resignation. Our fate is not in our hands.”
- Collective Nouns and Medievalist Collectivity: A Poem — Jonathan Hsy, In The Middle
“During the conference banquet, some of the conference participants were wondering if there’s a collective noun for Gower scholars, and Brian Gastle joked that it should be called a ‘recension of Gowerians.’ On the last day of the conference I expanded Gastle’s joke on twitter and Facebook and other people began submitting their own suggestions for other collective nouns for medievalists.”
“A troop of Anglo-Saxonists
A roundtable of Arthurians
An orientation of cartographers
A compaignye of Chaucerians
A gathering of codicologists
A circle of Dante scholars
A Swerve of Shakespeareans
A fellowship of Tolkienists”
- Haunting Knitted Animal Pelts Draw Attention To the Plight Of Endangered Species — Ellyn Ruddick-Sunstein, Beautiful/Decay; from the now-I-can-cosplay-Aleister-Crowley-guilt-free dept.
“Stretched and bound over wooden frames, the animal pelts of Australian artist Ruth Marshall are so utterly realistic looking that it is difficult to believe that they are not in fact fur and hide. Constructed out of knitted yarn, they compel us to consider the endangered species killed and skinned by poachers and collectors.”
- Agnostic and Gnostic — Troy W Pierce, The Path of Gnosis [HT disinformation]
“One of the common misunderstandings when you tell people that you are a Gnostic is that they hear the more familiar word ‘Agnostic.’ (This becomes quite amusing when they mishear ‘Agnostic Priest,’ or ‘Agnostic Eucharist.’) This becomes a good opportunity to elucidate one of the truisms of contemporary Gnosticism: You have to be an Agnostic before you can become a Gnostic.”
- Everything is Sound and Light, Plus Sigil Generation Technology — Thad McKraken, disinformation
“What I love about this is whereas what I do is essentially translating mystical concepts for a generation of kids raised on crap like VICE and stoner comedy, he takes a vastly more scientific approach.”
- Manifesting An Other World — Rhyd Wildermuth, Wild Hunt
“Perhaps it might seem strange to some that I wasn’t seeing this all in a Wiccan shop or Occult store. Perhaps where I found these things may seem even more strange: an Anarchist café in Seattle.
But this shouldn’t sound strange at all. Paganism and its beliefs mirror the struggle of Anarchists, and the indigenous activists who host ancestor prayers at that same cafe, and the queer trans* folk who hold meetings and organize protests against corporate pride events or the killing of a man who didn’t have correct fare on the light rail.”
“They are fighting against hegemonic control of existence, the limiting of human life itself; against the structures which displace people from the earth, disconnecting them from the strength and influence of spirits and ancestors, and turn humans into consumers and producers and subjects of hegemonic control of the powerful. And particularly, they are all fighting against the crushing oppression wrought upon the world by Capitalism.
We should be too, if our beliefs are more than mere opinion.”
- Golem: a Pagan view of Corporations — Hermetic Library fellow Sam Webster, Wild Hunt
“Like a Golem, a corporation is made by words; its articles of incorporation once signed and seal by the Secretary of State bring it to life. At one time ‘life’ might have seemed like hyperbole, but living in the age of the Citizens United ruling, corporations have personhood before the law and with it ‘human’ rights. It will continue doing what it was set up to do unless commanded or forced to stop. This can be very hard to do when those with the power of command are benefiting (making profit) from the creature’s actions. It is effectively immortal, only to stop functioning when it runs out of cash or credit, its life blood so to speak. It can only ‘die’ if it is disbanded by sale, in which case it continues in another form, or experience ‘true’ death by the revocation of its articles of incorporation, which will actually end it. Like the Golem, it will only stop when its words of creation are ‘erased’.”
- Where has all the light in the universe gone? Astrophysicists mystified after noticing 80 per cent of the light in the universe appears to be missing — Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph; from the my-soul-is-wandering-in-darkness-seeking-for-the-light dept.
“The universe is a pretty dark place – but according to astrophysicists it is much too dark.
Scientists have been left scratching their heads after noticing there is a huge deficit of light.”
- Public Priesthood: Big Fish in a Small Pond — Hermetic Library anthology artist T Thorn Coyle, Numinous Concrete
“Some have written much about whether or not professional clergy is useful to Paganism. Others have written to deride or uphold ‘Big Name Pagans.’ I’m not going to do any of that. What I want to do is talk about the reality of my life. And some hard numbers. I’m offering this to give people a better idea of what we might actually be talking about in the midst of these conversations.
People have asked how I planned my career trajectory. What did I do to end up where I am? My first response is surprised laughter at the question.”
- Second 4,000 Year Old Timber Circle Revealed — Past Horizons
“In the late 1990s two remarkable Bronze Age timber circles were discovered on Holme Beach, Norfolk (East England). One of these popularly known as – ‘Seahenge’ – was excavated in 1998 and 1999.
Since the excavations the second circle has been monitored and evidence of damage by coastal processes has been recorded. In the last year dendrochronological (tree ring) dating has shown the timbers used to build this circle – ‘Holme II’ – were felled in the spring or summer of 2049 BCE, exactly the same time as those used to build ‘Seahenge’ and places the construction of both circles early in the Bronze Age.”
- Intersectionality isn’t just a win-win; it’s the only way out — Henia Belalia, Waging Nonviolence [HT disinformation]
“This question of intersectionality isn’t the first time that science is playing catch-up to traditional knowledge, and it won’t be the last. As Pachamama Alliance’s accompanying blog explains: ‘Scientific research is bringing knowledge of the natural world full circle, offering biological and theoretical authority to the enduring truth of indigenous wisdom.’ Yet, among all of these enduring truths, intersectionality is one of the most central. ‘Perhaps the most universal indigenous perspective is the idea of a world inextricably interconnected, on all levels, and across time,’ the Pachamama Alliance wrote.”
- Cognitive bias in software development considered harmful — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; introducing Cognitive Biases in Software Engineering by Jonathan Klein
“In an excellent 2013 article, Jonathan Klein lays out the many ways in which cognitive biases undermine the software development process. Whether it’s fundamental attribution error (‘my bugs are easily excusable mistakes, your bugs are the result of unforgivable sloppiness’); confirmation bias (‘that’s enough testing, we know that this works!’); bandwagon effect (‘Bob’s the bull-goose devops person, it would be silly to doubt his views on this software’); hyperbolic discounting (‘a shortcut that saves me a day’s work now is OK, even it costs me ten days’ fixing in a year’) and negativity bias (‘the last time we did this it was a huge pain in the ass, screw it.’)
But more importantly, Klein also suggests ways that you can mitigate these universal biases in your own software development practices — procedures that you can follow to make sure that when your stupid brain tricks you, you can spot the slight of mind.”
- We love to laugh at modern prophets – but we’ve forgotten how much they matter — Lionel Laborie, The Conversation [HT Sarah Green]
“Each age has its visionaries, and the 21st century is no exception.”
“Prophets are by definition those who provide insight into the future. Whether they are secular or religious, all claim superior knowledge and spark either interest, laughter or hostility. They find legitimacy in persecution; but they also deliver messages of hope, justice and the promise of a better future.
The very fact that their predictions leave no-one indifferent points to our subconscious fascination with them. The dominant attitude in our Western societies is generally to dismiss prophets as fools and impostors, relics from the most obscure times in our history. Yet we often forget that new religious movements also appear every year.”
- How to Make Sense of Conspiracy Theories — Rob Ager [HT disinformation]
“Today conspiracy theories are a staple aspect of academia, entertainment and politics, though the term conspiracy theory isn’t always applied. There are thousands of conspiracy theory claims made across all forms of media distribution. The vast ocean of information on these subjects is far too great for any individual or even any government to fully absorb.
On that basis, it is crucial that any person or group wishing to explore such matters should begin with a set of reliable information filters and organising principles. You will already have filters and organising principles of your own, but it’s likely that many of those perceptive habits are unconscious. It’s also likely that you have picked up those habits in non-conspiracy theory contexts.”
“However, the type of scepticism we naturally hold unconsciously in our daily interactions with strangers tends to veer towards the idea that some people are simple opportunists trying to make a buck here or there or in some other way take short term advantage of us. We tend to be less adept at defending ourselves against society’s more cunning manipulators, especially the more intelligent ones.”
- The Shortest Path to Happiness: Recommending Beautiful, Quiet, and Happy Routes in the City — Daniele Quercia, Rossano Schifanella, Luca Maria Aiello [HT Gizmodo]
“When providing directions to a place, web and mobile mapping services are all able to suggest the shortest route. The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant. To quantify the extent to which urban locations are pleasant, we use data from a crowd-sourcing platform that shows two street scenes in London (out of hundreds), and a user votes on which one looks more beautiful, quiet, and happy. We consider votes from more than 3.3K individuals and translate them into quantitative measures of location perceptions. We arrange those locations into a graph upon which we learn pleasant routes. Based on a quantitative validation, we find that, compared to the shortest routes, the recommended ones add just a few extra walking minutes and are indeed perceived to be more beautiful, quiet, and happy. To test the generality of our approach, we consider Flickr metadata of more than 3.7M pictures in London and 1.3M in Boston, compute proxies for the crowdsourced beauty dimension (the one for which we have collected the most votes), and evaluate those proxies with 30 participants in London and 54 in Boston. These participants have not only rated our recommendations but have also carefully motivated their choices, providing insights for future work.”
If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.
The Book of Primal Signs: The High Magic of Symbols by Nigel Pennick, from Destiny Books, an imprint related to Inner Traditions, has arrived at the Reading Room courtesy of the publisher. This is a 2nd edition of Primal Signs: Traditional Glyphs and Symbols from Spiritual Arts & Crafts. Inner Traditions has a preview of the book online as well.
“From ancient rock and cave art to the contemporary brand logos of politics and business, human beings have always created symbols to denote specific ideas, groups, or important objects as well as to convey deeper information than can be communicated in words. Many glyphs have retained their meanings over millennia whereas some have modern meanings vastly different from the original connotation. In this study of symbols, Nigel Pennick explores glyphs as agents of higher consciousness and ports of access to the collective unconscious, acknowledging the continuity of tradition, both deliberate and not, as well as how interpretations of some symbols, such as the swastika, have changed dramatically.
With more than 300 unique woodcuts, drawings, calligraphy, and photographs—many never before reproduced—Pennick examines ancient and enduring glyphs in detail, such as the circle, cross, eye, pentagram, fleur de lis, tree of life, and horseshoe, as well as several families of symbols, such as craftsmen’s marks, runes, symbolic beasts, human heads and skulls, and the sigils of Mammon. The author explains the multiple forms and uses of each from ancient times to the present day, reflecting their roots in the Western Mystery tradition. He explores the symbols of high magic such as the glyph of John Dee’s monad, those of folk magic such as the traditional cock on the weather vane, and the creation of modern glyphs such as the peace sign and the anarchy symbol.
Contrasting the hi-jacked use of power symbols in modern advertising with the vital role of symbols in traditional arts and crafts, Pennick reveals how symbols link the cosmic with the terrestrial and allow us to infuse the mundane with the numinous.” — back cover
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.
Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin: Art, Sex, and Magick in the Weimar Republic by Tobias Churton, a new hardcover volume from Inner Traditions, has arrived at the Reading Room courtesy of the publisher.
“Gnostic poet, painter, writer, and magician Aleister Crowley arrived in Berlin on April 18, 1930. As prophet of his syncretic religion “Thelema,” he wanted to be among the leaders of art and thought, and Berlin, the liberated future-gazing metropolis, wanted him. There he would live, until his hurried departure on June 22, 1932, as Hitler was rapidly rising to power and the black curtain of intolerance came down upon the city.
Known to his friends affectionately as “The Beast,” Crowley saw the closing lights of Berlin’s artistic renaissance of the Weimar period when Berlin played host to many of the world’s most outstanding artists, writers, filmmakers, performers, composers, architects, philosophers, and scientists, including Albert Einstein, Bertolt Brecht, Ethel Mannin, Otto Dix, Aldous Huxley, Jean Ross, Christopher Isherwood, and many other luminaries of a glittering world soon to be trampled into the mud by the global bloodbath of World War II.
Drawing on previously unpublished letters and diary material by Crowley, Tobias Churton examines Crowley’s years in Berlin and his intense focus on his art, his work as a spy for British Intelligence, his colorful love life and sex magick exploits, and his contacts with German Theosophy, Freemasonry, and magical orders. He recounts the fates of Crowley’s colleagues under the Nazis as well as what happened to Crowley’s lost art exhibition–six crates of paintings left behind in Germany as the Gestapo was closing in. Revealing the real Crowley long hidden from the historical record, Churton presents “the Beast” anew in all his ambiguous and, for some, terrifying glory, at a blazing, seminal moment in the history of the world.” — flap copy