Tag Archives: nature

Furthermore that I will perform all practical work connected with this Order, in a place concealed … that I will keep secret this inner Rosicrucian Knowledge … that I will only perform any practical magic before the uninitiated which is of a simple and already well-known nature, and that I will show them no secret mode of working whatsoever.

Ritual of the 5 = 6 Grade of Adeptus Minor, the Ritual of the Order of Rosæ Rubeæ Et Aureæ Crusis at Aleister Crowley, “The Adept” in The Temple of Solomon the King, Book II, continued, serialized in The Equinox.

Hermetic quote Golden Dawn Adeptus Minor Aleister Crowley Adept will perform work order place concealed keep secret inner Rosicrucian knowledge uninitiated no secret mode working

Epicureanism asks us to temper our insatiable desires for more power, wealth and possessions. But it also releases us from superstition and challenges us to know the world through science; to look deeply into the secrets of nature. To investigate.

Luke Slattery, Reclaiming Epicurus [Amazon]

Hermetic quote Slattery Reclaiming Epicurus epicureanism asks temper insatiable desires more power wealth possessions releases suspertition challenges know world science secrets nature investigate

The pleasure which escapes them changes itself for them into a long irritation and desire. The more murderous are their excesses, the more it seems to them that supreme happiness is at hand. … One more bumper of strong drink, one more spasm, one more violence done to Nature… Ah! at last, here is pleasure; here is life … and their desire, in the paroxysm of its insatiable hunger, extinguishes itself for ever in death.

Éliphas Lévi, trans Aleister Crowley, Liber XLVI The Key of the Mysteries

Hermetic quote Levi Crowley Liber XLVI The Keys of the Mysteries pleasure escapes irritation desire murderous excesses more drink spasm violence nature life paroxysm insatiable hunger extinguishes in death

Men like him cannot be happy as we understand happiness, for to be happy one must delight like nature in mere profusion, in mere abundance, in making and doing things, and if one sets an image of the perfect before one it must be the image that draws her perpetually, the image of a perfect fulness of natural life, of an Earthly Paradise.

William Butler Yeats, “The Happiest of the Poets” in Ideas of Good and Evil

Hermetic quote Yeats The Happiest of Poets Ideas of Good and Evil men like him cannot be happy delight nature profusion abundance making doing image perfect draws perpetually fulness natural life earthy paradise

Mind and Nature

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity [Amazon, Publisher, Local Library] by Gregory Bateson, forewords by Sergio Manghi and Alfonso Montuori.

Bateson Mind and Nature

Mind and Nature is Bateson’s last book, although two followed it posthumously, and in the colloquy with his daughter that closes Mind and Nature he discusses his ambition to write a volume called Where Angels Fear to Tread that would more directly treat concerns about consciousness, aesthetics, and the sacred. Mind and Nature is preliminary to that latter book (which became Angels Fear), laying out the epistemology and notions of organization and change that would underlie it.

This book treats the features that human thought (i.e. perception, ideation, logic, and explanation) has in common with biological change in individuals and populations (adaptation and evolution). Bateson characterizes these two fields (the “mind” and “nature” of the title) as the “Great Stochastic Processes.” Beginning with an emphasis on “the pattern that connects,” he introduces a kit of ideas with putatively universal application in what he calls — taking a cue from Jung’s usage in Septem Sermones ad Mortuos — the Creatura. He uses contemporary biology for his understanding of nature, but he uses philosophical materials and cybernetic theories in preference to the products of academic psychology.

I found this book a fast read, but it is not for the intellectually lazy. Although there is a glossary of particular words Bateson felt his readers might find alien, his general lexicon pulls no punches. He makes great hay out of Russell’s theory of logical types, metaphorically expanding its application to the whole panoply of hierarchical phenomena and systems. Most of the text is organized into long chapters containing sets of numbered theses, each treated in a few pages of discussion and example.

In some respects, the part of the book that most excited me on this re-read was the appendix “Time Is Out of Joint,” a memorandum circulated to the University of California Regents (of whom Bateson was one). In less than seven pages, Bateson sums up his most important arguments from Mind and Nature and applies them to the difficulties of governing an educational institution. The result is startlingly similar in content, if not in form, to Aleister Crowley’s early essay “Thien Tao: Or, the Synagogue of Satan.” Bateson and Crowley alike try to communicate the need for human striving to comprehend complementary poles, in order to progress by dialectical transcendence. It is a matter of enantiodromia, rather than compromise: not to say, “Light — Darkness — I am the Reconciler between them” like the officers of a Golden Dawn Equinox ceremony, but rather to say, “I am Light, and I am Darkness, and I am that which is beyond them” like the Crowned and Conquering Child in the utmost aire of LIL.

The essence of a Man and Woman—each being a Star or sovereign God poised in Space by its own act—is clothed in thoughts and deeds as is its Nature, hidden by them. This essence is all-worthy; adore it, and the light of all that may be shall be shed upon you.

Aleister Crowley, The Djeridensis Comment on Liber Legis, I, 9

Hermetic quote Crowley Djeridensis Liber Legis essence man woman star sovereign clothed deeds acts nature hidden all-worthy adore it light of all upon you

In being given the formal symbolic secrets the Candidate should reflect that he is receiving a first lesson in a long course of instruction of a private and occult nature; i.e., one not taught outside the Lodge, but hidden from public knowledge and intended to help him upon the path of his personal inner life. For having but just entered upon that path, it is proper that he should now be instructed how to tread it.

W L Wilmshurst, The Ceremony of Initiation, Part II

Hermetic quote Wilmshurst The Ceremony of Initiation formal symbolic secrets first lesson long course instruction private occult hidden public knowledge path personal inner life proper instructed

The Overstory

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Overstory [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Richard Powers.

Powers The Overstory

“To be human is to confuse a satisfying story with a meaningful one, and to mistake life for something huge with two legs.” (383)

The profuse blurbs in my copy of this Pulitzer-winning novel include one from Nathaniel Rich at The Atlantic, highlighting author Richard Powers’ anomalous work in a field where “literary convention favors novelists who write narrowly about personal experience,” and Powers himself has been quoted as complaining that “Literary fiction has largely become co-opted by that belief that meaning is an entirely personal thing.” None of which is to say that this book lacks vividly-realized characters with complex interiority. But it may perhaps account for why the comparanda that occurred to me when reading it were more science-fictional than “literary.”

Certainly the “cli-fi” element will put many readers in mind of the work of Kim Stanley Robinson, who has treated this large theme in many capable novels. I also observed a kinship to Ian McDonald’s River of Gods, where the forest in Powers’ book takes on the organizing and animating function of the river in McDonald’s. Both of these novels have a regard for artificial intelligence that de-centers it from the human perspective. Yet another book brought to mind is The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, a work of science fiction published as literary fiction. Mitchell’s “atemporals” have some of their role taken up by the trees in The Overstory, but more importantly his social and philosophical concerns and the way he illustrated them through personal situations seemed quite similar to what I found in this book.

In addition to beautiful prose and profound reflection, there’s a considerable amount of failure and death–both arboreal and human–in this novel. It is a sweeping tragedy that brought me to tears a few times. The final summation was a bit less intellectually honest than what I took away from Scranton’s Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, but I guess I would still call The Overstory good medicine for those willing to take it.

“And what do all good stories do? … They kill you a little. They turn you into something you weren’t.” (412)

A thing is not esoteric because it is secret or kept hidden. It is esoteric because its existence is in some sense unmanifest, private, and by its very nature not available for examination from the outside: it is only available to participation, not, ultimately, merely to examination. In other words, the realm of the esoteric is, before anything else, the realm of consciousness, of experience.

Earl King, Jr., Having and Keeping Secrets: Some Words About Silence and The Hermetic Art of Secrecy

Hermetic quote King Having and Keeping Secrets Caduceus not esoteric secret kept hidden because existence unmanifest private nature not examination only participation realm consciousness experience