Tag Archives: lilith

Used and Rare Books. September Miscellany, 2013

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of works by the great German mystic Jacob Boehme: Mysterium Magnum (1654) and his Fifth Book (1659); and an apparently unpublished typescript on the esoteric Tarot written by an unidentified author in Cambridge (England) in the nineteen-fifties: The Mystery of the Ancient “Egyptian Tarot.”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]

Descent into Hell

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Descent into Hell: A Novel by Charles Williams:

Charles Williams' Descent into Hell

 

Of Charles Williams’ six novels, Descent Into Hell has a special place, according to a number of reviewers. It is purportedly his best or most important. I will quickly agree that it is somehow different from the other three I have read. It is far more interior in its focus, and thus it reminds me more of Lilith by George MacDonald. (Interestingly, Lilith herself features by name in Descent, though the name is only in the title of MacDonald’s book.) Stylistically, this interiority sometimes leads to real stream-of-consciousness passages, and the prose feels far more “modern” than that in War in Heaven, for example.

The notion that Descent Into Hell is a cornerstone work exposing the author’s worldview is supported by the arrangement of characters. The playwright Peter Stanhope is clearly a Mary Sue or idealized authorial proxy for Williams, flagged by explicit allusions to that hoary Mary Sue, Shakespeare’s Prospero! In addition, Williams supplies an “Eram Eus” — an inverted Mary Sue to embody the culpable perversion of his own dearest virtues — in the form of the historian Lawrence Wentworth. Stanhope and Wentworth are alike defined by their relationships with female disciples, in keeping with a notable feature of Williams’ biography.

In addition to these and other polarities of character, the novel advances a dualist scheme under a metaphor borrowed from Augustine of Hippo. Where Augustine’s City of God used Rome as the contrast for the New Jerusalem, Williams uses Gomorrah as the pole opposite Zion. He explains his choice of the city by way of the vulgarly misconstrued “sin of Sodom” as homosexuality, with the “sin of Gomorrah” being the ultimate love of self to the exclusion of others (174). At another point, Williams offers and subsequently applies the idea that there are only four possible human responses to any circumstance: revolt, obedience, compromise, and deception (185). These options are presented with moral valences, and for all his evident psychological subtlety in this book, Williams seems unequipped to appreciate the wisdom offered by his elder cousin in esoteric initiation who wrote, “The Key of Joy is disobedience.”

In any case, there is but one character in this novel who descends to hell through “Gomorrah,” and while the terminus of that descent is the close of the book, that storyline is mixed with other, more hopeful passages. The universalization of certain Christian doctrines is carried out deftly; on the religious front, Williams may have been pious, but he was no bigot. As in all of Williams’ books, the focus is on characters who are immured in “bourgeois propriety.” But the author, who was himself of comparatively humble stock, offers some unusual (for him) glimpses of “The poor, who had created [the estate in which the story is set],” although they “had been as far as possible excluded, nor (except as hired servants) were they permitted to experience the bitterness of others’ stairs” (9).

On the whole, I enjoyed the book, and I would rank it within the author’s oeuvre next to Many Dimensions for insight, and probably a bit higher for its language. [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.

Lilith

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Lilith by George MacDonald:

George MacDonald's Lilith

 

This book has been aptly described by Aleister Crowley as “A good introduction to the Astral.” It is insulted by comparison to the didactic allegories of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, although they were strongly inspired by MacDonald’s work. Lilith is instead an imaginative portrayal of adult mystical realization, as adumbrated through the distortions of reason, desire, and memory that befall spiritual seekers in the mundus imaginalis. [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.

Lilith by Justin Ehrlich

The atmosphere vibrates with soft

Voluptuous mists risen from

Insincere poppies. As I sleep

She scans the dance of colours on

My eyelids and assumes the form

Of unattainable desires.

Wantonly twisting golden hair

She stitches images infused

With rapturous prescience.

I see my own reflection dazed,

Imprisoned by the painted edge

Of her abominable eye;

A coldness seizes my rib-cage

As I realise with bitterness,

She is the burden of my dreams.


Lady Lilith (with opium poppy), Rossetti, 1864-68

 

Justin Ehrlich writes from London, “I discovered this site a few years ago while I had a bit of a Crowley phase, and have since found it useful for reading the works of AOS, works I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.” You can find Justin over at Luminous Decay and this piece was originally published in Dark Gothic: Resurrected. You can find many Crowley works in the Libri of Aleister Crowley, and several selections of art and writing by and about Austin Osman Spare in another section of the library.