Tag Archives: man

the American version of representative government assures that such qualities of intellect and ethics as might equip a man to lead a powerful nation responsibly are precisely the qualities that would prevent him from subjecting himself to the debasing performances of vote begging and delegate swapping. It is a truism of American politics that no man who can win an election deserves to.

Trevanian, Shibumi: A Novel

“A pretty pickle,” Madam Snickasnee kept mumbling. “Me, the smartest, cleverest witch this side of the Rockies, to allow mere men to get the best of me—and one of them a man by the name of ‘Beanpot,’ too. Ugh!”

Anna Elizabeth Bennett, Little Witch: 60th Anniversary Edition

No man can show to another the light if the latter is incapable to see it himself; but the light is everywhere; there is nothing to hinder a person to see it, except his love for the darkness.

Franz Hartmann, In The Pronaos of The Temple of Wisdom

Omnium Gatherum: June 4th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 4th, 2014

Justin Ng digitally composed star trail photography
Stunning Digitally Composited Star Trail Photos [by Justin Ng] of the Night Sky over Singapore” — EDW Lynch, Laughing Squid

 

  • Transtheism or Numinalism” — April D DeConick, Forbidden Gospels Blog

    “I am continuing to think about this word that we don’t yet have to describe a religious point of view that sees all conventional religions as inadequate human constructions, that have not been able to communicate the experience of an ultimate reality that transcends us. […] I am thinking now about these possibilities: 1. Transtheism […] 2. Numinalism”

  • Free” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    “Be not of any Faction: A wise Man is always free.”

  • ‘Muslim Gospel’ Revealing the ‘Christian Truth’ Excites the Da Vinci Code Set: Jesus Christ on a Cross: Not.” — Annette Yoshiko Reed, Religion Dispatches

    “For [John] Toland, this was not just another apocryphon. From this ‘Turkish Gospel being fathr’d upon Barnabas,’ he claimed to have been led to recover “the original plan of Christianity” as centered on Jewish-Christian beliefs that ‘Jesus did not take away or cancel the Jewish Law in any sense whatsoever.’

    This, Toland argued, was the very oldest form of Christianity, only it was lost to history when ‘converts from the Gentiles… did almost wholly subvert’ it. On the basis of the Gospel of Barnabas, Toland characterized the most ancient Christianity as harmonious with Islam as well: its account of Jesus, after all, was perfectly conformable to the traditions of the Mahometans [i.e., Muslims], who maintain that another was crucified in his stead; and that Jesus, slipping thro’ the hands of Jews, preach’d afterwards to his disciples, then was taken to heaven.”

    “At least from the evidence now at hand, there’s little to support the theory that the GBarn is authentically ancient. The question, rather, is why this possibility continues to arise again and again despite the paucity of evidence. Why is the idea of this gospel—and speculation about its possible suppression—so compelling to modern readers? How has on-line speculation about a Syriac manuscript of an obscure apocryphon risen to the status of e-Rumor, spreading widely through social media and persisting for years?”

  • Virginia County Board: Followers Of ‘Pre-Christian Deities’ Forbidden To Deliver Opening Prayers” — Matt Staggs, disinformation

    “… I’m assuming deities contemporaneous with Christianity are just fine, so grab your Pope cards and take the next flight to Chesterfield, Subgenii: These folks clearly need ‘Bob’ and his redeeming message of Slack.”

  • Leonardo Ulian’s Technological Mandalas Signify Worship of Technology” — Sara Barnes, Beautiful/Decay

    “Artist Leonardo Ulian offers another interpretation of the mandala with his assemblages of electronic components, copper wire, and more. The intricate, finely detailed works radiate the innards of what makes technology tick. Ulian crafts smaller geometric patterns within a larger, more general shape that become more impressive once you see close up shots of his handiwork.”

    Leonard Ulian's Technological Mandalas

     

  • Inside the Church of Scientology’s New $14 Million Compound” — Nelson Groom, VICE

    “The outside of the building melds surprisingly well with its surroundings. However, this all changes when you walk inside. As soon as you step through the entrance, the vibrant lighting and futuristic decor make you feel like you’re on the set of the latest terrible sci-fi dystopian flick. It’s prompt validation that this is not your average church.”

  • ‘Be Here Nowish’ is a Queer, Spiritual Comedy from the Creators of ‘Every Woman’” — Liz Armstrong, VICE

    “Be Here Nowish had a soft launch last month and now emerges in its entirety, picking up where the main characters, fuck-ups in their own right, left off, finding themselves in Los Angeles among a group of freaky devotees of a guru played by Kyp Malone from TV on the Radio.

    Adam, are you personally involved in any of the kooky spiritual stuff that’s going on in Los Angeles?

    Adam [Carpenter]: Does Pilates count?

    No. Sorry.

  • How to achieve altered states of consciousness” — Jarred Triskelion, Spiral Nature

    “Entering altered states of consciousness has a dramatic effect upon a ritual. Everything becomes more profound, from the smell of the incense, to the colour of the candlelight, to the feel of your wand in your hand.”

  • An interactive Enochian resource from Keep Silence: Spirits of the Great Table

    Keep Silence Spirits of the Great Table

     

  • Abolish the Week! It’s unnatural. It’s unnecessary. Why the seven-day week has got to go.” — Ben Schreckinger, Slate Culturebox

    “But whence the week? Throughout history, human societies have found it useful to divide time into groups of days shorter than a lunar month. One of the most common uses of this cycle has been to establish a regular market day, though just how regular varies. At one point, the Basques evidently employed a three-day week. For centuries, China, Japan, and Korea employed a 10-day week. Other societies have employed four-, five-, six-, eight-, and nine-day weeks.”

  • Vampires, Ghosts, and the Legacy of Antiquity” — Sarah Veale, Invocatio

    “So were vampires ghosts? Were ghosts vampires? These days most of us can easily distinguish between a vampire and a ghost and would consider them two very different phenomena. Examples from antiquity, however, suggest a blurring of these distinctions which lasted until the modern era. This overlap in the supernatural has caused much consternation among scholars who study the undead, complicating what would otherwise be neat categories.”

  • Ayn Rand’s Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone” — Mallory Ortberg, The Toast [HT Rob Bricken]

    “‘This is really more of a question for the Economics of Potion-Making, I guess. What time are econ lessons here?’

    ‘We have no economics lessons in this school, you ridiculous boy.’

    Harry Potter stood up bravely. ‘We do now. Come with me if you want to learn about market forces!’

    The students poured into the hallway after him. They had a leader at last.”

  • Restoring the Lost Sense: May 29, 2014” — Craig Conley, Abecedarian

    “How consciousness bends the body: an illustration from The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception by Max Heindel, 1911.”

    Craig Conley Restoring the Lost Sense May 29 2014

     

  • Taliesin Gilkes-Bower quoted at “Lighting a 7-Day Candle for Saint Google” — Max Pearl, Cluster Magazine; see also “St. Google Prayer Candles

    “You know, Saint Isidore of Seville was declared the patron saint of the Internet and computers by the vatican. You can imagine confession as the ultimate data-mining and blackmail tool. The church had to coerce people with the idea of infinite hell to get them to confess, and they could still lie if they wanted to! Now we just give away access to every single piece of ourselves for free. So the need for protection from Saint Google is very real.”

    Taliesin Gilkes-Bower St Google prayer candles

     

  • A footnote about the publishing industry” — Charlie Stross, Charlie’s Diary

    “But the trouble with disruption is that it’s dangerously close to detonation. You can end up destroying what you sought to shake up and take over.”

  • Burning the MRA Playbook (Or, #YesAllMRAs)” — Chuck Wendig, terribleminds

    “We get flicked in the nuts by a badminton birdie we’ll double over for 20 minutes, moaning and rocking back and forth. Our balls are like little yarn-bundles contained in a thin, wifty sack of outlying flesh. They unspool like bobbins of delicate thread when damaged. Women on the other hand push entire people out of their lady-realms like divine fucking beings.”

  • Post-Culture Review, via tweet

 

If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.

Vril

Vril, the Power of the Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1986 second printing from Spiritual Fiction Publication / Gerber Communications, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton Vril from Spiritual Fiction Publication / Gerber Communications

VRIL, mankind’s occult power of the future, and the kind of life and society created by its use in the interior of the earth, is the vivid picture presented in this book. Written 100 years ago by Lord Bulwer-Lytton, famous English Rosicrucian, statesman and author (see: Zanoni, a Rosicrucian Tale another Steiner-book), VRIL, his last book, stands as stern warning and reliable witness to his profound concern for the future welfare of mankind.

VRIL made today’s science-fiction books possible and interesting, but VRIL itself was a serious and prophetic testament that man today must pay heed to, if he is to survive, and become MAN.” — back cover


Excerpt from The Argument That Took the Wrong Turning

Here’s an excerpt, pages 1–8, from The Argument That Took the Wrong Turning: A Vindication of Priest/ess and Queer Gnostic Mass in Reply to T Polyphilus by Michael Effertz, which is offered at the Reading Room courtesy of the author. While you may have had a chance to read T Polyphilus’ review previously posted and heard various other responses about Priest/ess, unless you have had access to one of the few privately printed and distributed volumes, this may be your first glimpse of Effertz’s argument, as well as the tone and tenor, as it appears in the book; and unless you have acquired one of the new editions with which it is offered this may be your first chance to read some of the substance contained within the new pamphlet.

Michael Effertz's The Argument That Took the Wrong Turning from Luxor Media Group

I thank E.G.C. Bishop T Polyphilus for his critical review1 of my book, Priest/ess: In Advocacy of Queer Gnostic Mass. Polyphilus kindly prefaces his critique with the observation that “significant expense and care” went into the production of what became an “attractive little book.” In writing and designing the private edition of Priest/ess, I resolved to evince the same commitment to quality that Crowley once stressed in a letter to Frank Bennett, writing that “it has always been a point of honor with us to make our publications physically worthy of their contents.”2 The Bishop may not share my estimation of Priest/ess’ contents, but his praise is nevertheless well received. It is for this reason that I have endeavored to ensure that the trade edition, handsomely bound in hardcover and released in both a standard and deluxe edition, will likewise please the reader in form.

With this supplementary essay, I offer a reply to Polyphilus’ review in the same spirit as the arguments given in Priest/ess. As such, I will neither speculate as to Polyphilus’ motives nor ascribe to him any ill will in criticizing my work. I cannot say with certainty, and so will not assert, whether the errors in his review indicate an accidental or a willful misunderstanding of my arguments. I will, therefore, focus on the content of the review itself, checking its claims against the facts of each case rather than dwelling on the character of the author or his possible intentions. Where a misunderstanding is evident, I lay the fault squarely on my own deficient exposition; this will require the occasional reiteration of points originally made in the Priest/ess, in which I anticipated several of the criticisms made in Polyphilus’ review.

In his brief review, Polyphilus makes a series of claims about Priest/ess, the Gnostic Mass, and related subjects, which I will address seriatim. These include the claims that:

  1. I am wrong about the purpose of E.G.C. clergy,
  2. Nobody has the generic right to ordination or to serve as an ordained member of the clergy in the performance of E.G.C. rituals,
  3. Clergy do not have the authority to impose their own interpretation on the Gnostic Mass, because it is not a vehicle for personal expression,
  4. I obscure and misrepresent E.G.C. policy concerning private and public celebrations of queer Gnostic Mass,
  5. For public Gnostic Masses, E.G.C. policy requires Priests who are socially masculine in their life outside the temple and Priestesses who are similarly feminine,
  6. Restricting queer Gnostic Mass to private celebrations enhances it, and
  7. Prohibiting public queer Gnostic Masses does not “closet” queer personal relationships.

In addition to these explicit claims, Polyphilus insinuates that there are still more issues at stake and criticisms to be made, but opts not to specify in the course of his review what those issues are beyond alluding to their magical and doctrinal nature. E.G.C. policy, he argues, is constructed with a view toward assuring the simultaneous fulfillment of three effects or purposes of the Gnostic Mass (magical, communal, and doctrinal), even when individual celebrants do not consciously comprehend all three. Polyphilus directs the reader to his essay “Discourse on the Sixth Article,” wherein he elucidates his views on these three purposes of the Mass. The essay genuinely rewards study. Contrary to settling the question of queer Gnostic Mass against its acceptance, the three purposes of the Mass proposed by Polyphilus provide us with fertile ground for defending the propriety of its public celebration. While we cannot scrutinize his reasons for dismissing queer Gnostic Mass on magical, communal, and doctrinal grounds, since those reasons are not divulged in his review, we can make our own assessment of the merits of public queer Gnostic Mass as it might pertain to these matters with reference to the wealth of published and publicly available writings by Crowley on the Mass, the Eucharist, the O.T.O. and its various degrees, magick, sex and gender, and other kindred subjects. As Polyphilus’ review is consciously informed by his concept of the three purposes of the Gnostic Mass, we turn first to an evaluation of the magical, communal, and doctrinal considerations at the heart of his critique.

The Magical Purpose of the Gnostic Mass

Polyphilus cites magical issues as under the purview of the E.G.C. in the oversight of its clergy, which issues motivate and guide the construction and enforcement of E.G.C. policy in prohibiting public celebrations of queer Gnostic Mass. In so stating, Polyphilus implies, without evidence or explanation, that public celebrations of queer Gnostic Mass could not fulfill the magical purpose of the Mass. Presumably, the problem of magical bankruptcy is evaded through private celebration.

Of the magical purpose of the Gnostic Mass, Polyphilus writes:

The Magical effect for the individual
Is the one that Crowley explains in Magick in Theory and Practice:
The communicant is gradually made divine,
Being brought swallow by swallow
Towards Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel
And to the ultimate attainment that lies beyond.
And this effect is secret in the sense that it is utterly ineffable.3

We may then reasonably infer Polyphilus to contend that communicants in a public celebration of a queer Gnostic Mass could not be “gradually made divine, being brought swallow by swallow towards the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel and to the ultimate attainment that lies beyond.” Such a suggestion is contradicted by Crowley’s teachings concerning magical ritual and the Eucharist, as documented in his diaries and other works. For example, in defining the universal object of magical ritual, Crowley instructs the magician to use ritual to confront weaknesses in his understanding and offers sexual identity as one such area for exploration:

There is a single main definition of the object of all magical ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; or, in the language of Mysticism, Union with God.

All other magical rituals are particular cases of this general principle, and the only excuse for doing them is that it sometimes occurs that one particular portion of the Microcosm is so weak that its imperfection or impurity would vitiate the Macrocosm of which it is the image, eidolon, or reflection. For example, God is above sex; and therefore neither man nor woman as such can be said fully to understand, much less to represent, God. It is therefore incumbent on the male Magician to cultivate those female virtues in which he is deficient, and this task he must of course accomplish without in any way impairing his virility. It will then be lawful for a Magician to invoke Isis, and identify himself with her; if he fail to do this, his apprehension of the Universe when he attains samādhi will lack the conception of maternity. The result will be a metaphysical and—by corollary—ethical limitation in the Religion which he founds. Judaism and Islām are striking examples of this failure.4

Ritual offers the magician one avenue for symbolically uniting diverse elements within his being, though it is by no means the only method for achieving such union:

The doctrine here put forth is that the initiate cannot be polluted by any particular environment. He accepts and enjoys everything that is proper to his nature. Thus, a man’s sexual character is one form of his self-expression; he unites Hadit with Nuit sacramentally when he satisfies his instinct of physical love. Of course, this is only one partial projection; to govern, to fight, and so on, must fulfil other needs. We must not imagine that any form of activity is ipso facto incapable of supplying the elements of an Eucharist: suum cuique [Lat. “to each his own”]. Observe, however, the constant factor in this enumeration of the practices proper to “hermits:” it is ecstatic delight.5

The actual or symbolic union of the self with another, or even of different aspects of the self within oneself, is characterized by Crowley as the key to preparing the Eucharist, which process may be carried out through methods proper to the nature of each individual. This notion resonates alongside the previous passage with Liber A’ASH, which proclaims:

All holy things and all symbolic things shall be my sacraments.6

Among those Gnostic sacraments is semen, which Crowley says may possess different potencies depending upon one’s point of view:

Semen itself is mercury, the river of life flowing throughout the generations. That is fluid mercury. What is (from the point of view of life) waste, is knowledge. Hence the opposition between knowledge and life. One is homo- and the other heterosexuality. Those are reconciled in Mercury, who is wisdom.7

As with all opposing points of view, it is the work of the magician to reconcile these contradictions in a higher understanding. In this “fluid mercury” Crowley finds one resolution to the “opposition between knowledge and life” in a single Eucharist, which may elevate the communicant to divinity. Crowley provides us with an unambiguous illustration of the transformative power of this type of Eucharist in his notes to the Cephaloedium Working, which sacrament was prepared initially by two men together:

[…]
(7) Make Iacchaion God, by Ether. 

(8) Sacrifice him to the Beast, who thus becomes God. Use here the accendat & the right Mantram, the Tu qui es & the Quia Patris.8 

The “accendat,” “Tu qui es,” and “Quia Patris” all refer to the Grimorium Sanctissimum, ritual instructions for a mass along analogous lines to that of the Gnostic Mass (e.g., the consecration and dressing in ritual vestments of the “priest” by the “maiden,” speeches from “The Ship,” etc.) Another queer interpretation of the mass formula given in Grimorium Sanctissimum is provided in the Paris Working, during which Crowley assumed the role of “maiden” to Victor Neuburg’s “priest.” Throughout his diaries and instructions, Crowley evinces an understanding of the Eucharist that reconciles heterosexuality and homosexuality, life and knowledge, in one transcendent wisdom.

Polyphilus’ implicit contention that a Eucharist produced by a queer pairing cannot lead one “swallow by swallow” to Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel seems especially strange, given Crowley’s description of the relation between the Adept and his Angel:

In a secret code the Adept affirms that he is of the same sex (so to speak) as his Angel. It is not a union of opposites to produce a tertium quid [Lat. “third thing”], but a realization of identity, like the return to consciousness from delirium, whose ecstasy bears no fruit involving new responsibilities, new possibilities of sorrow, but is all-sufficient to itself, with neither past nor future.

The “peeled wand” is the creative Energy of the Angel, stripped of all veils, pointing to the Zenith, ready and eager to act. The Adept exclaims with joy that he has aspired to unite himself with this Idea, and has attained.

Thus concludes the description of the relations of the Adept and his Angel so far as the element of Earth, the concrete and manifest aspect of Nature, is concerned. The whole illusion has been destroyed; the bread has become the body of God.9

As was delineated above, the sacrament by which bread is transmuted into the “body of God” may take any of various forms. Heterosexual union, whether actual or symbolic, is a commonly cited formula for effecting this transmutation. In Liber Aleph, Crowley provides commentary on “the ultimate attainment that lies beyond” and the manner in which homosexual formulae are efficacious in achieving this attainment:

O my Son, behold now the Mystery and Virtue of the Silver Star! For of these Four Works not one leadeth to the Crown, because Tetragrammaton hath His Root only in Chokmah. So therefore the Formula of the Rosy Cross availeth no more in the Highest. Now then in the Pentagram are Two Lines that invoke Spirit, though they lead not thereunto, and they are the Works of Hé with Hé, and of Yod with Vau. Of these twain the former is a Work Magical of the Nature of Musick, and it draweth down the Fire of the HIGHER by Seduction or Bewitchment. Shall I say Enchantment? Shall I say Incantation? It is Song. But Bewitchment is a Work opposite thereunto, whose Effect formulateth itself by direct Creation in the Sphere of its Purpose and Intent. But there remain yet Two of the Eight Works, namely the straight Aspiration of the Chiah or Creator in thee to the Crown, and the Surrender of the Nephesch or Animal Soul to the Possession thereof; and these be the twin geodesic Formulæ of the Final Attainment, being Archetypes of the Paths of Magick (the one) and Mysticism (the other) unto the End.10

If we agree with Polyphilus and assert that the magical purpose of the Gnostic Mass is to lead one to the “Final” or “ultimate attainment,” then one may reasonably maintain that the formula of the Gnostic Mass must be, by that fact, robust and flexible enough to find expression in “the Works of Hé with Hé, and of Yod with Vau” as well as those of Yod with Hé and Vau with Hé.

Though it remains unclear why, from the standpoint of E.G.C. policy and its hierarchy, a private celebration of queer Gnostic Mass could adequately fulfill the magical purpose of the Mass while a public celebration could not, a thorough survey of Crowley’s writings on the subject of the magical effect of the Mass, as Polyphilus describes it, offers decisive evidence in favor of the efficacy of queer Gnostic Mass, public and private.

 

1. T Polyphilus. “Priest/ess.” The Hermetic Library Blog. The Hermetic Library. 20 Feb. 2013. <http://library.hrmtc.com/2013/02/20/priest-ess/>.

2. Crowley, Aleister. The Progradior Correspondence: Letters by Aleister Crowley, Frank Bennett, C.S. Jones, & Others. Ed. Keith Richmond. York Beach, ME: 2009. 84.

3. T Polyphilus. “Discourse on the Sixth Article.” Vigorous Food & Divine Madness. The Hermetic Library, n.d. 22 Feb. 2013. <http://hermetic.com/dionysos/art6.htm>. [Formatting and emphasis as in original].

4. Crowley, Aleister. “The Principles of Ritual.” Magick: Liber ABA, Book 4. 2nd ed. York Beach: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2004. 144. [emphasis in original].

5. New Comment to AL, II:24, Magical and Philosophical Commentaries on the Book of the Law. Symonds, John and Kenneth Grant, eds. Montreal: 93 Publishing, 1974. 200.

6. Liber A’ASH Vel Capricorni Pneumatici, 20. The Holy Books of Thelema. 1st ed. York Beach: Samuel Weiser, 1983.

7. “The Paris Working.” The Vision & The Voice with Commentary and Other Papers. Boston: Red Wheel/Weiser, 1998. 363.

8. “The Cephaloedium Working.” The Hermetic Library, n.d. 22 Feb. 2013. <http://hermetic.com/crowley/cephaloedium.html>. [emphasis added].

9. “Commentary to Liber 65 – Chapter I.” Commentaries on the Holy Books and Other Papers. York Beach, Samuel Weiser, 1996. 98-99.

10. “On the Four Major Operations of the Microcosmic Star.” Liber Aleph. York Beach: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2003. 107.

Liber AL vel Legis

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Book of the Law: Liber Al Vel Legis by Aleister Crowley:

Aleister Crowley's The Book of the Law

 

“FRATER PERDURABO composed His talisman by invoking His Holy Guardian Angel according to the Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage. That Angel wrote on the lamen the Word of the Aeon. The Book of the Law is this writing. To this lamen the Master Therion gave life by devoting His own life thereto. We may then regard this talisman, the Law, as the most powerful that has been made in the world’s history, for previous talismans of the same type have been limited in their scope by conditions of race and country.”

This book “is the Interpretation of the Secret Will of Man on every Plane of his By-coming.”

P.S. “The study of this Book is forbidden.” [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.

We know that on some summit, far away

We know that on some summit, far away

Within the Soul, a beacon-light uplifted

Makes on the mountains round eternal day;

By its bright beams the clouds beneath are rifted,

And for awhile is glorified the grey

Life-sea, whereon so long mankind hath drifted;

That single will oft new strength create,

And then the Spirit conquers time and fate.

 

To all at times these golden glimpses come;

The clouds roll back; the deep, supernal blue

Is arch’d above those mountains like a dome;

The revelation of the great and true

Comes with those glimpses from the Soul’s far home,

And the Soul knows her lineage and her due;

But most have striven to reach the source in vain

Whence come those beams, or bid their flash remain.

 

Yet for life’s fever and the mind’s disease

The only refuge for the world is there;

Before they reach it none can taste of ease,

There all are sphered beyond the range of care;

Wrecks toss’d in scorn upon the scourging seas,

Our sails are set to find a haven fair,

But, from those mountains shrinking, still we strive,

And drift for ever where the winds my drive.

 

We dream of islands lapp’d in amber light,

Of pleasant groves and wilding woodland bowers,

Where morn unclouded follows starry night,

And starry night on evening’s pensive hours;

We see no beauty in the frowning height—

That awful altitude the mind o’erpowers;

Yet the Soul’s home is in its purer air;

Soul-glory, majesty, and might are there.

 

But there are many, could they see their way,

Who would the summit by their toil attain,

Who not in vain would pour their lives away,

Achieving conquests for their brethren’s gain;

But whom doubt weakens, who in tears delay,

And contemplate life’s spectacle of pain;

Who to do something yearn, yet pause and ask

Some high encitement to so hard a task.

 

And therefore have we written, O man, for thee

The book that follows, here its plan proclaim—

Help for thy Soul—help that the soul may see

In evil days her best, her noblest aim,

And ever faithful to that end may be,

Though faith should fail, though truth her hope disclaim.

And, ‘mid the general lapse from light, may find

No impulse left for the exalted mind!

 

What inspiration from the heaven came down

To fill the brain? What angel bade us write?

Oh, in the green fields, in the crowded town,

And in the sunshine or the starry night,

Those thoughts descended which in Soul are sown,

And ripen’d in us, as the flowers in light—

Their strength supports us, from the ample store

We scatter; may they number more and more!

 

Oh, may this book, by our own heart created,

Be life in all to whom its dream is told—

To draw the world up God’s steep path be fated,

Till all the splendid prospect shall behold,

And on those heights all Souls be reinstated,

From which perchance they lapsed in days of old;

Or those attain whose altitude till then,

Though dimly dream’d, was never known by men!

— A E Waite, “Proem” from Azoth, or the Star in the East

 

The Hermetic Library arts and letters pool is a project to publish poetry, prose and art that is inspired by or manifests the Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to submit your work for consideration as part of the Arts and Letters pool, contact the librarian.

The Essence of Religion

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Essence of Religion by Ludwig Feuerbach, translated by Alexander Loos:

Ludwig Feuerbach's The Essence of Religion trans. Alexander Loos

 

This edition of Feuerbach’s The Essence of Religion is abridged by translator Alexander Loos: three only out of the thirty lectures appear under this cover. This text is the earlier, denser, and more “philosophical” exposition of views that are enlarged upon in the later Lectures on the Essence of Religion. The abridgement is not divided into three lectures according to its source, but simply presented as a continuous text of fifty-five numbered sections.

In contrast to the author’s earlier books on Christianity, this one takes a wider, more comparative approach, and consequently offers two complementary theories regarding the nature of religious thought, which is nevertheless always a confusion of subjective and objective phenomena. The Christian type takes the subjective human ideal as an objective cosmic force, while its earlier and less “sophisticated” complement, as is found in ancient Greek pagan cults, attires the objective powers of nature with the human sort of subjectivity.

As always, Feuerbach demonstrates the sane approach to the simple fact that There is no god but man. He writes of the “spiritual” sort of religion championed by Christians: “As the life to come is nothing but the continuation of this life uninterrupted by death, so the divine being is nothing but the continuation of the human being uninterrupted by Nature in general—the uninterrupted, unlimited nature of man” (63, ital. in original). He also exhibits his rancor and contempt for the theological enterprise. He he shows theology straining at gnats while swallowing camels, when it tries to remove the supernatural element from sacramental rites, while retaining the supernatural in stories of cosmic origin. “But it is in the world of theology just as in the political world; the small thieves are hanged, the great ones are suffered to escape” (58). [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.