Tag Archives: Magdalene Meretrix

The Spiritual Sayings of Kahlil Gibran

Magdalene Meretrix reviews The Spiritual Sayings of Kahlil Gibran [Amazon, Abebooks, Local Library] in the Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews archive.

Gibran Spiritual Sayings of Kahlil Gibran

“The art of the Egyptians is in the occult.
The art of the Chaldeans is in calculation.
The art of the Greeks is in proportion.
The art of the Romans is in echo.
The art of the Chinese is in etiquette.
The art of the Hindus is in the weighing of good and evil.
The art of the Jews is in the sense of doom.
The art of the Arabs is in reminiscence and exaggeration.
The art of the Persians is in fastidiousness.
The art of the French is in finesse.
The art of the English is in analysis and self-righteousness.
The art of the Spaniards is in fanaticism.
The art of the Italians is in beauty.
The art of the Germans is in ambition.
The art of the Russians is in sadness.”

Kahlil Gibran, best known for his book “The Prophet,” was a great mystic and captivating writer. This collection of aphorisms, short-short stories and one short play is small but it packs a big punch.

Though Gibran falls into moralizing towards the end in pieces like “Your Lebanon and Mine” where he says to those who see only the political, warring side of Lebanon, “Remember that you are naught. But when you realize your littleness, my aversion to you will change into sympathy and affection. It is a pity that you do not understand, You have your Lebanon and I have mine.” or “Your Thought and Mine” where he says, “Your thought speaks of the beautiful woman, the ugly, the virtuous, the prostitute, the intelligent, and the stupid. Mine sees in every woman a mother, a sister, or a daughter of every man.” these forays into claimed superiority serve as veins in marble rather than blemishes. Moreover, Gibran tells us, “Our worst fault is our preoccupation with the faults of others.” thus confessing his humanity. Gibran is not a god to be worshipped, he is a brother toiling alongside one in the struggle for enlightenment and peace.

Gibran occasionally lapses into bitterness in his aphorisms though this bitterness mainly centers around being a man without a home or nation. This is entirely reasonable, considering that much of this book was written while Gibran was in exile from his country and excommunicated from his church.

Gibran has been called the Dante of the twentieth century. Orientals call him the Beloved Master. He has been compared to William Blake and to Rodin – in fact, he was commissioned to paint the latter’s portrait. Though born in and in love with Lebanon, Gibran is a mystic for all lands and all religions. As the Beloved Master himself said, “God made Truth with many doors to welcome every believer who knocks on them.”

The Sacred Prostitute

The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine [Amazon, Abebooks, Local Library] by Nancy Qualls-Corbett, reviewed by Magdalene Meretrix in the Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews archive.

Qualls-Corbett The Sacred Prostitute

Dr. Qualls-Corbett claims that modern people are wounded by our separation of sexuality and spirituality and suggests that the study of the ancient sacred prostitutes and sexually oriented temple priestesses will assist in a conscious “union of opposites,” restoring sexuality to its rightful place in spiritual and religious thought.

While her alchemical view of sexuality is firmly grounded in Jungian thought, Dr. Qualls-Corbett tends to use sources that are far less than reputable for her historical information – foremost among them, the dread Barbara Walker. In many places where Dr. Qualls-Corbett is more accurate in her history, she often provides rather unorthodox interpretations of historical items, places or writings. Overall, the author’s view of temple prostitution in the ancient world is obviously colored by the last few decades’ trend towards feminist pseudo-scholarship.

If her history is taken with a grain of salt, however, Dr. Qualls-Corbett has written a fascinating and useful book about aspects of feminine sexuality in a Jungian perspective. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to explore notions of sexuality from a stance that empowers both women and men as well as anyone who is considering developing ritual work in a sexual vein, especially rites of initiatory sexuality.

The book is divided into five major sections:

“The Goddess and her Virgin: Historical Background” examines evidence of the sacred prostitute in the ancient world. Though the history here is often shaky, this section still contains much of value if one chooses to read critically. “The Psychological Significance of Sacred Prostitution” examines the archetypes of the Goddess, the Sacred Prostitute, the Stranger who visits her, and the “Heiros Gamos” or Sacred Marriage.

“The Sacred Prostitute in Masculine Psychology” examines the male view of woman, anima and sexuality. Dr. Qualls-Corbett discusses the dreams of some of her male clients as well as the relationship between the Jesus character and the Magdalene/priestess character in D.H. Lawrence’s “The Man Who Died” in an attempt to demonstrate that the healing power of consciously regarding the sacred prostitute is not limited to women.

“The Sacred Prostitute in Feminine Psychology” first explores four of Dr. Qualls-Corbett’s female clients – three single women and one married woman – as they explore their evolving sense of Self and sexuality. Dr. Qualls-Corbett then links these four stories together by relating them to the D.H. Lawrence short story, “The Virgin and the Gypsy,” a story of lost innocence and overwhelming sexuality in which the male stranger, the Gypsy, plays the initiatory role to a young virgin in much the same way that the passing stranger would initiate a virgin waiting at the temple in ancient times.

“Restoration of the Soul” examines the whore/madonna paradigm of the feminine and attempts to integrate these two aspects by using Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary as personifications thereof. Dr. Qualls-Corbett also discusses the Black Madonnas found throughout Europe, suggesting that the image of the Black Madonna holds a key to the integration of the feminine.

The book concludes with a thorough bibliography (which also must be explored with a discerning eye since many of Dr. Qualls-Corbett’s sources, as discussed earlier, are shaky – if not intentionally deceptive – in their “scholarship”) and index.

Peppered with beautiful historical images of the Sacred Feminine, from Aphrodite to Sophia, this book is not difficult to read. It is written in a scholarly style but it typically defines any specialized vocabulary, making it accessible to those who have never read anything in Jungian psychology before.

“The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine” is book number 32 in Inner City Books’ series of “Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts.”

The Prophet

Magdalene Meretrix reviews The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Gibran The Prophet

This timeless classic of mystic philosophy, written in 1923, has long been a favorite for contemplations, weddings and funerals. The story, subordinate to the philosophy, is of a prophet waiting for a ship to arrive and carry him away from the island where he has been living for the last twelve years. His voyage is apparently an allegory for death.

The villagers have gathered to see Almustafa, the Prophet, off on his journey and while they watch his ship grow nearer, they take turns asking him to speak on love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion and death. Each of Almustafa’s responses to these questions is a chapter, a poem, a meditation.

Although the author uses the word “God” quite liberally, the text is not specific to any one religion nor is it intrusively preachy or pedantic. Rather it is uplifting and inspiring and even the spiritual atheist can find jewels of wisdom therein.

The Mysterious Stranger

The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain, reviewed by Magdalene Meretrix, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Twain The Mysterious Stranger

Twain’s final story, published posthumously in 1916, is, despite its obscurity, arguably one of Twain’s greatest works. In this story, Twain distills all the sarcastic religious views he expressed in “Letters from Earth” into a gem of gnostic thought. Though many modern readers will have already come into contact with the notions of a trickster god in a nihilistic universe that Twain depicts, he was far ahead of his time when he wrote these ideas into The Mysterious Stranger.

The Mysterious Stranger takes place in a small Austrian village in the late 1500s. Three boys meet a mysterious stranger. Is he an angel or a demon? The boys, and the reader, are left uncertain – though what is a demon, after all, but a fallen angel?

The story follows the events that transpire when this angel touches their lives and the lives of everyone in the village. The main character, Theodor, undergoes a painful and sorrow-laden awakening to the reality of the nature of the universe, humans, angels and god that will leave the reader contemplating these philosophical constructs and religious ideas for quite some time.

The Magick of Thelema

The Magick of Thelema: A Handbook of the Rituals of Aleister Crowley by Lon Milo DuQuette, reviewed by Magdalene Meretrix, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews. There is a newer edition.

DuQuette The Magick of Thelema

Love him, hate him, respect him, fear him…..no matter what the reaction to Aleister Crowley, it’s difficult to honestly deny his contribution to occult science as it is studied today. Potential students of Crowley’s writings are often put off by his obscurity, however. Even his “primer,” Magick Without Tears, is nearly unintelligible to the average person.

This is where Lon Milo DuQuette steps in. DuQuette has served as an officer in Crowley’s magical order, the OTO, for over two decades, studied Crowley’s writings for nearly three decades and was personally acquainted with some of Crowley’s top students. In this book of rituals, DuQuette explains Crowley’s philosophy as best as anyone could demystify a mystic and goes through all the major Thelemic rituals step by step, explaining the visualizations and symbology behind the words and motions.

The text includes lengthy explanations of many Thelemic words of power and the center section has sixteen photos of ritual stances. The entire text of the Book of the Law, the Thelemic holy book, is included as well as a Tree of Life diagram and many diagrams of various pentagrams and hexagrams with explanations of their meanings.

DuQuette writes with humor and more than a measure of self-deprecation, attractive in a man so obviously learned. The only negative comments I could make about this book are that I don’t agree with DuQuette’s stance of taking the sex out of sex magick and I wish the book were spiral bound since it is a reference book that the serious Thelemic magician will want to consult over and over again. Every copy of this book I have ever seen has either been unread or all the pages have come loose from the binding.

The Lives of a Cell

Magdalene Meretrix review The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher and The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher by Lewis Thomas in the Occult Book Reviews archive.

Thomas The Lives of a Cell

Thomas The Medusa and the Snail

These, Dr. Thomas’ first and second books, are timeless classics. Though Dr. Thomas is discussing science in his essays, his writing style has a mystic and poetic quality to it and his thoughts are inventive, unique and quirky. I imagine the late Dr. Thomas would be intrigued by alchemy and other hermetic disciplines though he might not take them seriously as being applicable to modern times. Still, there is a strong quality of magick in Dr. Thomas’ writing, particularly in his first book, Lives of a Cell.

For the scientist who enjoys a poetic view of nature or for the magician who tends to incorporate modern science into his world paradigm, these essays will be a delight. Some are sad, some will make you chuckle, all will make you ponder the universe whether on a large or small scale. I highly recommend Dr. Thomas’ essays to the intellectual reader.

Richard Hittleman’s Yoga

Magdalene Meretrix reviews Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan in the Bkwyrm archive.

Originally published in 1969, this book is a great way to begin a regular daily practice of Hatha Yoga. Using the standard asanas (postures), Hittleman introduces a few new postures every day and goes over the ones learned on earlier days, adding repetitions, new variations or length of time spent in asana to each one, creating a program that gradually eases you into the practices.

The asanas are liberally depicted in hundreds of photographs and carefully described in detailed text. My biggest complaint with this book is that I wish it were spiral bound so that I could leave it laying open while working on a new posture rather than fumbling with bookmarks or destroying the book by leaving it splayed open on the floor. After working the program for 28 days, you have theoretically laid the groundwork for a new habit. The book concludes with three programs of asanas, meant to be alternated daily. Unfortunately, I’ve found it far easier to work through the daily part of the book than to stick with the three alternating routines and so I have gone back to this book over and over, trying to build the habit again. Be warned that, despite Hittleman’s assurances, the hardest work begins when you’ve finished this book.

Find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s.

Modern Magick

Magdalene Meretrix reviews Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts by Donald Michael Kraig in the Bkwyrm archive.

Kraig’s background in the Golden Dawn tradition is readily apparent in this excellent beginner’s text on ceremonial magick. Kraig takes the novice through several basic rituals, step-by-step, and explains the moves, tools and words in very clear English. Each chapter ends with review questions and a bibliography of suggested reading.

Kraig tackles subjects that beginners often find overwhelmingly confusing – the myriad convoluted ways of drawing pentacles, qabbala, goetia, sex magick, charging and consecrating talismans, creating magickal weapons – and offers straightforward explanations in lucid prose.

Although I disagree with some of the author’s views, particularly his oversimplification of “white” and “black” magick, overall I have found this to be a very useful addition to my library and feel that Kraig offers valuable insights for beginner and seasoned practitioner alike.

Find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s.

The Magician of the Golden Dawn

Magdalene Meretrix reviews The Magician of the Golden Dawn: The Story of Aleister Crowley by Susan Roberts in the Bkwyrm archive.

Though this biography of Aleister Crowley is written in the style of a fictional novel, Roberts took great pains to avoid putting words in Crowley’s mouth. Roberts spent five years researching every available aspect of Crowley’s life. She interviewed Israel Regardie and Gerald Yorke. She read through the Yorke collection at the Warburg Institute – spending over five hundred hours reading the letters, diaries, typescripts and other unpublished materials contained in the collection. She travelled to Scotland to visit Crowley’s home, Boleskine. Finally she showed her finished product to Israel Regardie who wrote a foreword for her book, stating therein, “I am most impressed by Susan Robert’s portrayal of Crowley the man. It is an exciting book. Once begun, I rather fancy the reader will have considerable difficulty putting it down.”

I would have to agree with Regardie’s assessment. From the moment I picked up The Magician of the Golden Dawn I could do nothing else until I had finished the entire book. There were tender moments, embarrassing moments, victorious moments and tragic moments of Crowley’s life depicted in Roberts’ book. Robert’s writing style is captivating. I really felt as if I were reading about a living breathing human being.

Though Roberts writes in a novelistic style, none of the dialogue is manufactured. According to Roberts, “There is not a word of dialogue in this book that Crowley himself did not write or say.” In attempting to stay as close to the truth as humanly possible, Roberts portrays a man who was sometimes ‘saint,’ sometimes ‘sinner’ but always a genius. At times his genius seems to be masked by poor judgement, but never is he deified or vilified by Roberts.

Roberts even does a good job of explaining some of the basic tenets of Crowley’s philosophy, the Law of Thelema, in a manner comprehensible to the layman. To assist her explications, Roberts includes a short glossary of occult terms as well as a bibliography and index at the end of her book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a biography of Crowley that is not based on yellow journalism and sensationalism. Also, unlike Regardie’s excellent biography of Crowley, “The Eye in the Triangle,” this is a breezy read that the average reader should be able to finish in a week or less.

Find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s

Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek

Magdalene Meretrix reviews Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek, Book I by Maurice Balme &al in the Bkwyrm archive.

Ceremonial magicians often work in dead languages for a variety of reasons. Attic Greek, one of my favorites, tends to be very popular. Greek is one of the more difficult languages to learn, but I’ve found it to be very rewarding magically to learn a language rather than just to decode it or to parrot it mindlessly. Words have a great deal of magical power and knowing the sources and subtle nuances of a word often boost a working tremendously.

The Athanaze series is the best way I’ve found to learn Greek outside of a classroom and also happens to be the text most Greek professors choose for their lessons. Its lessons build vocabulary and grammar slowly, focussing on the many sections of text which start with extremely simplified but grammatically correct Greek and work their way up to Greek the way it was written in Pericles and Pythagoras’ time.

The backs of the books are filled with chart after chart of grammar paradigms and a small dictionary that not only translates Greek words into English but English into Greek as well, something most dictionaries of Ancient Greek do not. The pronunciation guide in the front of Book One and the dictionaries in the backs of both books are very helpful as well to those who do not wish to actually learn to read and write Greek but only to calculate Gematric values of translated or transliterated words. [via]