Greater Feast of Jacob Boehme, died November 17, 1624 at Görlitz, Germany
Greater Feast of Jacob Boehme, died November 17, 1624 at Görlitz, Germany
Greater Feast of Saint Jacob Boehme, died November 17, 1624 at Görlitz, Germany
Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The ‘Key’ of Jacob Boehme by Jacob Boehme, translated by William Law, with an introduction by Adam McLean, part of the Studies in Historical Theology series from Phanes Press.
This later work of Jacob Boehme (1575-1624) was written to serve as a short introduction to his larger corpus, explaining his peculiar terminology and outlining his system of ideas. It is reissued here in the translation of 18th-century Behemenist William Law. While brief, it is far from simple. The alchemical vocabulary is difficult enough in any case, but this Key involves some further willful obscurity, alluding to non-textual transmissions of esoteric knowledge. Such allusion is evident, for instance, here:
“Yet where Life consists in venom, and has a Light or Brightness shining in the Oil, namely in the Fifth Essence, therein Heaven is manifested in Hell, and a great virtue lies hidden in it: this is understood by those that are ours” (47).
In my academic studies of Western Esotericism, I was assured by generally reliable scholars that Boehme’s thought was not grounded in the Hebrew kabbalah, but editor Adam McLean thinks otherwise. After reading this volume, I’m inclined to agree with McLean. Even though Boehme avoids the Hebrew terminology, his emanationist concept is so similar to kabbalistic versions that I could not help using my knowledge of the kabbalistic Tree to understand it, and, in fact, it helped me to realize some new things about the kabbalistic schema.
Appended to the Key is a brief Behmenist work by Dionysius Freher: An Illustration of the Deep Principles of Jacob Behmen, consisting of thirteen full-page esoteric diagrams, with explanatory captions on the facing pages. These are set in a sequence, from “The Unformed Word in Trinity without all Nature” to “fallen and divorced Adam’s Reunion with the Divine Virgin SOPHIA.” These seem to come at Boehme’s ideas from a rather different angle than the Key does, being more narrative and Neognostic in character, with more reference to angelic hierarchies, and less to alchemical principles.
The cover of the book is a colored version of Freher’s Plate V., which shows how these engravings as printed have not yet reached their full expressive potential. (Although credit isn’t given, I believe the color is by McLean.) [via]
You may be interested in Weiser Antiquarian Book Catalogue #111: Used and Rare Books. September Miscellany, 2013.
“Amongst the more unusual items are an original sketch by Austin Osman Spare, two first English-language editions of works by the great German mystic Jacob Boehme: Mysterium Magnum (1654) and his Fifth Book (1659); and an apparently unpublished typescript on the esoteric Tarot written by an unidentified author in Cambridge (England) in the nineteen-fifties: The Mystery of the Ancient “Egyptian Tarot.” (1958). A selection of signed books includes a copy of British explorer and mystic philosopher Sir Francis Younghusband’s Within: Thoughts During Convalescence (1914); Michael W. Ford’s Shades of Algol: A Luciferian and Sabbatic Grimoire of Left Hand Path Witchcraft (2002); Helen Kruger’s, Other Healers, Other Cures, (1974); Louis Martinie’s Waters of Return: The Aeonic Flow of Voudoo (1992) and an odd fictional work based on the story of Lilith, Jane Speller’s Adam’s First Wife (1929). A number of works from the library of English Aleister Crowley collector and scholar Nicholas Bishop-Culpeper are also scattered throughout the catalogue. These include a small selection of books relating to the English decadent illustrator Beresford Egan – whose work is best known to Aleister Crowley aficionados on account of his striking dust jacket design for Moonchild, and another group of works by and about Arthur Machen, the Welsh writer of supernatural fiction who was briefly a member of the Hermetic Order of Golden Dawn before joining his friend and sometime literary collaborator Arthur Edward Waite, in the Independent and Rectified Order R.R. et. A.C.. Also from Nicholas’ collection, but mixed throughout the catalogue, are a selection of works, some serious, some silly, and some seriously odd, on Secret Societies. There are also several uncommon books by the incorrigible reprobate of twentieth century occult publishing Lauron William de Laurence, as well as a number of other genuinely unusual items, but we will leave it to the astute bibliophile to hunt them out.” [via]
You may be interested in Weiser Antiquarian Book Catalogue #107: From Black Magic and Mysticism to Serpent Gods and Voodoo.
“The catalogue starts with signed copies of a recent book that has caused evoked quite some excitement amongst those interested in Hermetica, Occult Traditions by Damon Zacharias Lycourinos. This is followed by the usual eclectic mix of recent arrivals. Amongst the more unsual items are a Charming Eighteenth Century Manuscript Copy of the work of parlour divination that was published under the title Pratique Curieuse, ou les Oracles des Sibylles, sur Chaque Question Proposée in 1694; one of the final nineteenth century revised editions of Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal (but published anonymousyly under the title Dictionnaire des Sciences Occulte (1846/1848 & 1852); an inscribed copy of George Frederick Kunz’s richly illustrated study of the myth and lore of jewels, gems and stones, and their religious, magical and talismanic use: The Magic of Jewels and Charms; a superb copy of Jean Philippe Vogel’s handsome study of the divine or deified serpents (Nagas) whose presence permeates Hindu and Buddhist lore, Indian Serpent-Lore, or the Nagas in Hindu Legend and Art (1926) and a signed first edition of Arthur Edward Waite’s Strange Houses of Sleep, a book on which Arthur Machen collaborated. There is also a good selection of works on magick, including an internally clean – but externally rather rough (and priced accordingly) first edition of Austin Osman Spare’s The Book of Pleasure (Self-Love) The Psychology of Ecstasy, 1913; the second and best edition of Arthur Edward Waite translation of Éliphas Lévi’s The History of Magic. Including a Clear and Precise Exposition of its Procedures, its Rites and its Mysteries, 1922, and his The Mysteries of Magic: A Digest of the Writings of Éliphas Lévi (Second Edition) 1897; signed limited editions of Mark Alan Smith’s Queen of Hell and The Red King; E. A. Koetting’s three volumes: Evoking Eternity, Works of Darkness and Baneful Magick. “Groupings” of books include a collection of the magnificent Watkins edition of works by and about Jacob Boehme, a group of Grimoires and other works published by the “International Guild of Occult Sciences”, and a selection of works on Daoist Magic by Jerry Alan Johnson. Other works of note include Robert Surieu’s superbly illustrated study of the erotic in ancient Persian art Sarv-E Naz: An Essay on Love and the Representation of Erotic Themes in Ancient Iran (1967); the leather-bound Antonine Publishing / Golden Dragon Press edition of Meric Casaubon’s A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between Dr. John Dee …. and Some Spirits …. (1974) and a rare 1967 limited edition printing of S. L. MacGregor Mathers’ The Secret Workings of the Golden Dawn Book “T”, the Tarot; to name but a few. ” [via]
“He had learned from Jacob Boehme and from old alchemist writers that imagination was the first emanation of divinity, ‘the body of God,’ ‘the Divine members,’ and he drew the deduction, which they did not draw, that the imaginative arts were therefore the greatest of Divine revelations, and that the sympathy with all living things, sinful and righteous alike, which the imaginative arts awaken, is that forgiveness of sins commanded by Christ.” [via]