Tag Archives: occultism

Witchcraft

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Witchcraft It’s Power in the World Today by William Seabrook.

William Seabrook Witchcraft

This 1940 work is a decidedly chatty melange of memoir, folklore, occultism, and parapsychology. Seabrook insists on his materialistic skepticism throughout, but towards the end provides powerful anecdotes to test it.

He compliments the laboratory parapsychologists for taking the matter seriously, while suggesting that they are unlikely to succeed with their clinical approach. He points to Sufism, particularly the Mevlevi Order, as a repository of disciplines which might lead to genuinely “supernormal” power. “Dervish dangling” becomes his shorthand for the inducement of visionary states through physical stress, which he observes in “games” with a girlfriend, and in a shamanistic eskimo ceremony.

The book provides eminently fair (some might say generous) sketches of three prominent occultists who were the author’s contemporaries: George Gurdjieff, Aleister Crowley, and Pierre Bernard. The chapter which covers this ground (ch. III of part three, “Our Modern Cagliostros”) is alone worth the rest of the book to read. Seabrook was personally acquainted with the first two, and his account of the I Ching elsewhere in the book shows traces of Crowley’s unacknowledged instruction.

There are some basic factual fumbles, like the “pentagram” that has seven points, or the “57 varieties of the mystical hexagram” from the I Ching (p. 147—even while the illustration on p. 148 shows all 64). Long pieces of text have been relegated to appendices, which seems like an odd choice in a book that is basically a topical survey without a sustained argument or chronology.

In any case, it is a quick and entertaining read, and Seabrook’s sincerity seems unimpeachable. It’s good amusement for anyone interested in the occultism of the first half of the 20th century. [via]


Songs for the Witch Woman

Songs for the Witch Woman by John Whiteside “Jack” Parsons and Marjorie Cameron, with commentaries by William Breeze, George Pendle and Margaret Haines, from Fulgur, is due to release on March 17th, 2014, in limited hardback and even more limited, 156 hand-numbered, deluxe editions, which will be of interest.

John Whiteside 'Jack' Parsons Marjorie Cameron Songs for the Witch Woman from Fulgur Esoterica UK

“There are few modern love stories as passionate and poignant as the relationship between rocket scientist Jack Parsons and his artist lover, Marjorie Cameron. At once a muse, occult student and primal force of nature — a woman he proclaimed as his ‘elemental’ in a letter to Aleister Crowley — Cameron fascinated, troubled and inspired Parsons.

Songs for the Witch Woman is a project born from this turbulent love story. A series of poems written by Parsons reveal his feelings toward his often absent lover. And beside these words are images from the hand of Cameron, illustrating and echoing the intimate themes.

After Parsons’ tragic death in June 1952 we find the notebook in which this work was recorded continues, as a bereaved Cameron keeps a diary of her magical working in Lamb Canyon, California. In the dark desert her words become a raw lament as she attempts to gain contact with her Holy Guardian Angel. And throughout the working, the memory of Jack is never far from her mind.

Now published more than sixty years after it was written, Songs for the Witch Woman stands as a testament to lasting power of love and loss.

This book represents a creative collaboration between two of the most important names in 20th century occultism. It includes:
· The poems, drawings and diary entries published together for the first time.
· A facsimile of the original 1950s notebook with text by Parsons and illustrations by Cameron.
· The texts have also been corrected and typeset alongside a second suite of pen and ink drawings that Cameron produced for the work after 1952.
· Contextual commentaries from William Breeze, George Pendle and Margaret Haines.” [via]

Events at Treadwell’s for November and December, 2013

Here is a selection from the upcoming events at Treadwell’s Books in London for November and December, 2013, which may be of interest.

Treadwell's Books in London

 

Treadwell’s Halloween Party
1 November 2013 (Friday)

Halloween Party at Treadwell's Books

Honouring the Feast of Samhain

Friends and customers are warmly invited to our pagan Hallowe’en party, to remember the ancestors, the sacred dead, and to celebrate witches and ghosts in the ancient way – with jollity, music and convivial gathering. Come along! We will have a toast to the spirits, along with a short attunement, at 8pm, and general merriment through the evening. One free drink to everyone who comes wearing a witches’ hat.

FREE but you must contact us to be added to guest list (phone or ring)
Time: From 7pm to 11 pm

 

Spare: One Man Play
21-22, 29-30 November 2013
John Constable

John Constable Spare - One Man Play at Treadwell's Books

London artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare (1886–1956) comes alive in this new one-man play. Set in the artist’s studio at the Elephant and Castle on the night of a Blitz bombing, it shows Spare growing old in poverty, yet fiercely committed to his vision. In the course of the night, a rogue sigil unleashes unpredictable consequences. This ‘play conceived as an act of magic’, performed by the author, is both an homage to AOS and a playful exploration of Constable’s own esoteric work to ‘set us free from ourselves.’ John Constable is a poet, playwright and magical practitioner best-known for The Southwark Mysteries, and for his acclaimed stage adaptation of Gormenghast. Previous solo shows include I Was An Alien Sex God (‘mind-blowingly weird’ The Independent). Premiere performances last Spring were sold out, and received acclaim.

Price: £10
Time: Doors 7pm, for a 7:30 start

 

Slenderman: Fight Fiction with Fiction
25 November 2013 (Monday)
Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent

Ian Cat Vincent Slenderman at Treadwell's Books

Slenderman is a truly modern monster. Born barely four years ago in an internet Photoshop competition, this suit-clad faceless entity rapidly spawned a complex mythology online, in photo manipulations, shared-universe videos and games. Terms like ‘tulpa’ (thought-form) were used, and soon people were reporting sightings in the real world. If this being truly is crossing over from the imaginary realm, how does one fight it? Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent is a lifelong student of the occult, interested in pop-culture symbolism as the ‘hyper-real’ mythology of our times. Tonight he talks about Slenderman as an ideal target for pop-culture and post-modern magical approaches. Cat is a Fortean journalist whose work is in the Darklore and Apocalyptic Imaginary anthologies, and is a contributing editor to Daily Grail.

Price: £7
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start

 

Remedios Varo: Magic and the Goddess
4 December 2013 (Wednesday)
Daniel Zamani

Daniel Zamani Remedios Varo at Treadwell's Books

Remedios Varo was a leading figure in the Surrealist avant-garde. But she was also an occultist interested in alchemy, astrology, tarot and the Goddess.Tonight we meet this remarkable practitioner, focussing on how Varo used Holy Grail imagery as an icon for female empowerment and pagan re-enchantment. Tonight’s speaker argues that we should recognise Varo’s contributions to 20th century female esotericism and to revived matriarchal goddess worship – and look deeply into into the messages in her art and life. Join us! Daniel Zamani is a doctoral candidate at Cambridge, working on on occultism and magic in Surrealism. In 2013, Dan was main editor of the Abraxas special issue and is currently co-organising a forthcoming major conference on occultism and visual culture.

Price: £7
Time: 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start

Visions of Enchantment at Cambridge on Mar 17th-18th, 2014

Visions of Enchantment conference 2014

Visions of Enchantment: Occultism, Spirituality & Visual Culture is an international conference at University of Cambridge on March 17th-18th, 2014 [HT Erik Davis].

Additionally, although there is very little time left, you may be interested in the call for papers still open through October 31st, 2013.

“This two-day conference is a collaboration between the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge and the Arts University Bournemouth and is organised in association with the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE).

It seeks to investigate the formative role that occultism and spirituality have played in the creation of both Western and non-Western visual and material cultures. The conference aims to provide a stimulating platform for the presentation of innovative research in this field as well as to encourage dialogue and exchange between academics with a specific research interest in art and occultism.” [via]

 

“This two-day conference seeks to investigate the formative role that occultism and magic have played in Western and non-Western visual and material culture. It aims to present original research in this field as well as to establish a productive dialogue between academics with a particular research interest in occultism and visual culture.

We invite proposals from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, provided that they present innovative insights into visual, symbolic or material aspects of the esoteric tradition, covering a broad spectrum of geographic regions and historical periods.

Acceptable topics may include, but are by no means limited to, the following areas:

* Alchemy and Hermetic symbolism;
* Astrology and astrological illustrations;
* Witchcraft, black magic and sorcery;
* Talismans, totems, fetishes and other apotropaic objects;
* Occult aspects of Jewish, Christian and Islamic art;
* Theosophy and modern visual culture;
* The visual and material culture of other occult movements;
* Surrealism and the politics of the occult;
* Spirituality and occultism in other avant-garde movements;
* Occult art, counter-culture and radical politics;
* Women artists and the occult;
* Gendered, sexual and ‘queer’ ramifications of esoteric art;
* Photography, spiritism, séances and automatism;
* The supernatural in avant-garde cinema;
* Occultism and magic in contemporary visual culture.” [via]


The Magicians of the Golden Dawn

Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order, 1887-1923 by Ellic Howe, with a foreword by Gerald Yorke, the 1984 second printing softcover from Samuel Weiser, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Ellic Howe The Magicians of the Golden Dawn from Samuel Weiser

“W.B. Yeats, Annie Horniman, Florence Farr, MacGregor Mathers, Fraülin Sprengel, Dr Westcott, Dr R.W. Felkin, Rev W.A. Ayton, F.L. Gardner, A.E. Waite, Aleister Crowley, et alii

The Golden Dawn story, with its cast of eccentric characters and its saga of faked documents, mythical ‘Rosicrucian’ adepts, ‘Secret Chiefs’ and bitter internecine quarrels, will delight amateurs of the unusual and fantastic. The Hermetic Order fo the Golden Dawn, whose heyday was during the 1890s, has an almost legendary reputation. Those interested in Ritual Magic and occultism suppose that it represents a preeminent source of authority and knowledge. A wider public has been intrigued by W.B. Yeats’ lengthy connection with the Order, also by the membership of his friends Annie Horniman and Florence Farr. Miss Horniman later built the famous Abbey Theatre at Dublin for him, while Florence Farr was G.B. Shaw’s mistress during her Golden Dawn period.

Ellic Howe is neither a magician nor an occultist but has an unrivaled knowledge of modern (post-1850) European ‘underground’ occult movements and sects. The Magicians of the Golden Dawn is based upon previously inaccessible contemporary letters and other papers. Mr. Howe has provided a most scholarly and detailed work. It is the first documentary study of this curious Order’s tangled and incredible history.”

 

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.

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography, edited by John Symonds and Kenneth Grant, the 1971 paperback from Bantam Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

John Symonds Kenneth Grant Aleister The Confessions of Aleister Crowley from  Bantam Books

This is the first paperback edition of the single volume redaction of the multivolume The Spirit of Solitude, “re-Antichristianed” The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, which still has not been published beyond the first two volumes, and, in spite of the ad copy, this is, indeed, still an abridgement of the sourcework. Publication of the complete Confessions might, maybe, finally begin with volume 1 available sometime in 2013.

“Complete and Unabridged—The Profane and Uninhibited Memoirs of the Most Notorious Magician, Satanist and Drug Cultist of the 20th Century.”

“Aleister Crowley called himself ‘Beast 666’ and was a self-proclaimed saint of the Gnostic Church. He became a ‘god’ in his own temple at the age of forty-five. By that time, he was infamous in several countries as a writer, poet, painter, chess expert, master magician, mountaineer, drug addict and satyr.

Born in England in 1875, the sone of a wealthy brewer, Crowley totally rejected the Victorian hypocrisy of his day and dedicated himself to a life of debauchery, evil, Satanic spells and writing, especially on such topics as sex, magic and occultism.

A notorious pleasure-seeker, Crowley truly was the hippie of his age, ‘doing his thing.’ He was banned from Italy and was forced to leave other countries, always under mysterious circumstances. Crowley was a constant user of heroin, cocaine, opium, hashish and peyote, and early in his life earned a reputation for indulging in wild sex and drug orgies which he combined with his so-called religious rites.

his reputation followed him everywhere as he traveled from country to country, practicing witchcraft and black magic with his strange group of mistresses and eccentrics.

Colourful, feared, despised and admired, Crowley brought excitement and evil with him wherever he went. He was the author of several books, treatises and poems, many of which are widely read and appreciated today.”

“Aleister Crowley was poet, painter, writer, master chess player, lecher, drug addict and magician. his contemporary press called him ‘the wickedest man in the world.’ The most bizarre and notorious figure of his age, Crowley’s own story is now available in paperback from the first time.

But The Confessions of Aleister Crowley is more than just the autobiography of a man. It is also the portrait of an age. Everything is set down just as Crowley experienced it.

In addition to being a famed magician, Crowley also had a well-deserved reputation as a writer. his flair for literature and his gusto for life elevate this books several levels above the ordinary ‘confession’ type of literature prevalent in his day.

His writing is crisp, witty and amusing and always fascinating. Crowley believed that he could do anything he set his mind to. And he’ll make a believer out of you.”

 

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.

Events at Treadwell’s Books for October, 2013

Here is a selection from the upcoming events at Treadwell’s Books in London for October, 2013, which may be of interest.

Treadwell's Books in London

 

The Lairs of Cthulhu II: The Hollywood Years
30 September 2013 (Monday)
Dr James Holloway

Treadwell's Books in London - The Lairs of Cthulhu II

Tonight archaeologist and Cthulhu buff James Holloway explores archaeological concepts found in Lovecraft’s mythos, turning to look at how these concepts of land, history and the past are reformulated in Lovecraftian-based films which have come out in the decades after the author’s death. A riveting and intelligent speaker whose ideas always invite new questioning, this lecture is a sequel to his now-famed 2009 Treadwell’s Lecture. Dr James Holloway studied archaeology at Cambridge University, where he received his doctorate, and returns to Treadwell’s with a warm welcome.

Price: £7
Time: 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start

 

Hocus Pocus: Witches in Film
9 October 2013 (Wednesday)
Judith Noble

Judith Noble- Hocus Pocus at Treadwell's Books

Judith Noble is a noted film scholar and expert in Western occultism, and tonight she examines critically the portrayal of witchcraft in feature film. Bringing together expertise in the subjects of modern pagan witchcraft, Western esotericism, popular culture and film-making, she offers new insights and raises new questions. A former producer who now lectures at University of the Arts in Bournemouth, she is a gifted speaker who returns to Treadwell’s at our invitation. It’s a lively, illustrated lecture for everyone.

Price: £7
Time: 6.45 for 7pm start

 

Alchemy: Symbols of the Rubedo
24 October 2013 (Thursday)
Paul Cowlan

Paul Cowlan Alchemy at Treadwell's Books

Alchemist Paul Cowlan lectures on the symbolism of each of the famed phases of the Work, the alchemical process of perfection. Tonight he unlocks the Rubedo, the final reddening stage, the Rising Dawn, the attainment of the Philosophers’ Stone. We learn what it looks like, how it can be ‘multiplied’, what its powers are, and what its dangers. We will also meet some of those who claim to have made or used the Stone, and will glance at both ancient and contemporary evidence for the reality of the Lapis. Suitable for everyone, this illustrated lecture will rock your world. Paul Cowlan has been practising spiritual alchemy for over twenty years, and is a popular speaker visiting from Germany.

Price: £7
Time: 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start

 

On Liber Nigri Solis
26 October 2013 (Saturday)

On Liber Nigri Solis at Treadwell's Books

An Afternoon Event
This modern astrychymical grimoire was published anonymously in 2004: an instant sensation. Theion Press’s new expanded version prompts a day exploring and unpacking it. Dr Eva Kingsepp from Stockholm University speaks on the history of the Black Sun symbol, from alchemy to Romanticism to German Naturphilosophie — to modern right-wing misappropriations. Andrew Vee, an author of the LNS, gives the second lecture, on gnosis of our solar system Black Suns and relevant fictive points, with the book’s applied workings and sigils. The event concludes with a “rite inscendence on a contra-solar journey starting from Casimi and finishing at piercing the Apex.” Drinks follow. Theion’s David Beth will be with us on the day.

Price: £15
Time: 1.45 for 2pm start, runs till 5.30

The Dark Lord

The Dark Lord: H.P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant, and the Typhonian Tradition in Magic by Peter Levenda, from Ibis Press, may be of interest.

Peter Levenda The Dark Lord from Ibis Press

“One of the most famous — yet least understood — manifestations of Thelemic thought has been the works of Kenneth Grant, the British occultist and one-time intimate of Aleister Crowley, who discovered a hidden world within the primary source materials of Crowley’s Aeon of Horus. Using complementary texts from such disparate authors as H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Parsons, Austin Osman Spare, and Charles Stansfeld Jones (‘Frater Achad’), Grant formulated a system of magic that expanded upon that delineated in the rituals of the OTO: a system that included elements of Tantra, of Voudon, and in particular that of the Schlangekraft recension of the Necronomicon, all woven together in a dark tapestry of power and illumination.

The Dark Lord follows the themes in the writings of Kenneth Grant, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Necronomicon, uncovering further meanings of the concepts of the famous writers of the Left Hand Path. It is for Thelemites, as well as lovers of the Lovecraft Mythos in all its forms, and for those who find the rituals of classical ceremonial magic inadequate for the New Aeon.

Traveling through the worlds of religion, literature, and the occult, Peter Levenda takes his readers on a deeply fascinating exploration on magic, evil, and The Dark Lord as he investigates of one of the most neglected theses in the history of modern occultism: the nature of the Typhonian Current and its relationship to Aleister Crowley’s Thelema and H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon.” [via]

 

The Legend of Aleister Crowley

The Legend of Aleister Crowley by P R Stephensen and Israel Regardie, the 1970 paperback edition from Llewellyn Publications, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

P R Stephensen and Israel Regardie's The Legend of Aleister Crowley from Llewellyn Publications

“PROPHET OF A NEW AEON vilified as THE MOST EVIL MAN IN THE WORLD

Who and what is Aleister Crowley that he should be the original of a legend of infamy without parallel in the modern world?

Here is the evidence of a campaign of personal vilification unparalleled in literary history.

Here, too, is Crowley himself — through his own words, his books, his life.”

“Aleister Crowley was an outrageously libelled and slandered man in his time. He was variously called ‘monster’, ‘degenerate’, ‘traitor’, ‘evil’, ‘criminal’, ‘pornographer’, ‘devil worshipper’, and on without end.

but he has also been called, by people who knew him and by those who have studied his works, ‘genius’, ‘prophet of a New Aeon’, ‘the greatest occult scholar of this century’, ‘one of the finest poets of the 20th century’, etc.

Crowley was a mystic, a magickian, a scholar, a poet, a climber of mountains, and probably a true prophet. He certainly became a ‘legend in his own time’ and will probably attain real recognition for his many talents only after we of lesser minds have had time to digest what he taught and the world has had a chance to catch up with the vision he had.

This book, and “The Eye in the Triangle’, will probably long remain the most valuable and honest appraisals of the real Aleister Crowley, and can be read as factual rebuttals of the popular slander of the several biographies written by non-occultists. Without a knowledge of Magick, no one can appreciate or understand Crowley. Without ‘The Eye in the Triangle’ (published by Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, 1970), it is difficult to understand modern occultism.”

 

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.