Tag Archives: legends

The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick: How a Spectacular Hoax Became History [Amazon, Abebooks, Local Library] by Peter Lamont.

Lamont the rise of the indian rope trick

I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud so many times reading the front matter of a history book. Peter Lamont is witty as hell. 

His history of the Indian rope trick traces the modern legend from its 19th-century origins through various 20th-century controversies, and also offers an epilogue-cum-travelogue which brings the subject into the present. Along the way, he offers a wild assortment of historical tidbits, including Charles Dickens’ turn as an Orientalized performing conjuror, the origins of the pay toilet, and Chicago newspaper wars. He also highlights the contexts provided by stage magicians’ guilds, the Society for Psychical Research, and the Theosophical Society, as well as the overarching dynamics of Western disenchantment and the British Empire.

The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick is a very fast and enjoyable read. Lamont’s attitude toward his historical subjects is strongly skeptical, but richly humane. I recommend the book to anyone with an interest in its topics: the history of magical performance, modern rumors and controversies, and the Western appropriation of Asian culture.

CULTUS ARBORUM OR Phallic Tree Worship.

You may be interested in Cultus Arborum by Anonymous, a newly released book, available via Project Gutenberg:

CULTUS ARBORUM

OR

Phallic Tree Worship.

 

CULTUS ARBORUM

A DESCRIPTIVE ACCOUNT OF

Phallic Tree Worship

WITH ILLUSTRATIVE

Legends, Superstitions, Usages, &c.,

EXHIBITING ITS

Origin and Development

AMONGST THE

Eastern & Western Nations of the World

FROM THE EARLIEST TO MODERN TIMES;

 

WITH A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WORKS UPON AND
REFERRING TO THE PHALLIC CULTUS.

From the preface:

THE present volume forms a companion to three already issued on “Ancient and Modern Symbol Worship,” denominated severally, “Phallism,” “Ophiolatreia,” “Phallic Objects and Remains,” and “Tree Worship,” they all form parts of one whole, and constitute a Series on the various forms and phases of what is known as “Phallic Worship.”

The subject is an extensive one, and there still remain sections of it which have not yet been dealt with, but which may be exhibited in future volumes. Although in the compass of the present work it has been impossible to treat the subject in anything like an exhaustive manner, a great deal of matter has been incorporated in its closely-printed pages which, attentively perused, will enable the reader to form a just opinion of what is included in the title.

At the end of this volume we have endeavoured to give the student of Ancient Faiths a Bibliography of works on or connected with Phallism.

Being the first attempt of the kind, omissions will doubtless be found, although there are nearly five hundred references given, yet even as it is, it will prove of great use and advantage to those making researches. It is divided into two classes—Phallic works, and books bearing more or less upon the subject.

“I had picked out Boleskine for its loneliness. Lord Lovat and Mrs. Fraser-Tyler, my nearest neighbours, were eight miles away, while Grant of Glenmoriston was on the other side of Loch Ness. Besides, Boleskine was already the centre of a thousand legends.

Even before I came there there was a fine crop of the regular Highland superstitions.” Chapter 44 Confessions by Aleister Crowley

Here’s another post, over at The Wild Hunt about this: “For the True Aleister Crowley Fan/Thelema Devotee“. And, there’s a slideshow embedded in that post.