Ἑρμης mente figuratus. Manibus: sedens.
Ἑρμης per anum manibus.
(Hermes formed in the mind. Hands, sitting.
Hermes [imagined] in the anus [using] hands.)
Rewatching a bunch of the original 1963 first season of Doctor OHO about the magician that travels around in a box, set in the west of the temple, and emerges to enact a mass of wild sexy serial sci-fi adventures with his companions each week. Anyone else remember that old show?
“So shalt thou conquer Space, and lastly climb
The walls of Time,
And by the golden path the great have trod
Reach up to God!”
—Aleister Crowley, “Astrology” from Songs of the Spirit in Collected Works
The Operation was most orgiastic, but I formulated the God well and called aloud after his name. The Gluten of the Eagle was not very plentiful, and the Lion was not very thoroughly dissolved therein. Still, I think the Elixir was formed well enough.
This “warts and all” account of an American Thelemite’s personal quest also chronicles the axial development of the Thelemic movement in the second half of the 20th century, as well as the New York City occult scene of the 1970s. It reads very quickly. The prose is occasionally transparent as the factual condensation of diary data, but the honesty concerning events described is positively bracing. When I first heard announcement of this book’s impending publication, I knew I would need to have a copy. And now that I’ve read it, that knowledge is thrice-confirmed by the way that it ties together its fascinating matter through the integral experience of a true magician. Br. Wasserman doesn’t hesitate to relay his personal judgments of those characters — living and dead — with whom he has interacted, and in those cases where I have my own personal acquaintance with them, I concur with his verdicts. As rewarding as the text is, the many glossy pages of photos are especially gratifying. My Other Reader considered at least one of them “scandalous,” and they provide an important set of images to complement the narratives I have been gradually learning for the last two decades.
Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Living in the Sunlight: Making a Forgotten Meditation an Atomic Habit [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher] by Steve King.
This recent short instructional text from Australian OTO Grand Master Steve King concerns a specific practice documented in the writings of Aleister Crowley and Charles Stansfeld Jones, and attributed by them to the ingenium of Jeanne Foster (m.k.a. Hilarion). Br. King demonstrates a responsible and constructive approach to the study of century-old occult texts, as well as setting forth the technique in question.
The material has never been under any seal of secrecy in OTO, and it is practicable by non-members and even non-Thelemites. At the same time, it is relevant to the Order’s mysteries and especially pertinent for initiates of the Minerval and Magus of Light degrees.
The exposition here is quite vernacular, and it avoids occult jargon and magick technicalities. Experienced magicians should pick up on various quiet cues to how their knowledge will be useful in any effort to “personalize and develop” (42) the method given in this helpful book.
Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews For the Chance of Union: Proceedings of the Eleventh Biennial National Ordo Templi Orientis Conference, a selection of papers from the eleventh biennial NOTOCON of the United States Grand Lodge, in Orlando, Florida, 2017.
This slender sixth collection of papers presented at the National Conference of OTO USA includes facsimiles of the program materials for the conference and full texts of about a third of the presentations. The ones that are included are a diverse bunch, covering Thelemic culture, occult history, ceremonial ritual, and magical technique, among other topics. There are two papers on Enochian angel magick, one on the editorial history and infrastructure of the Goetia, the Grand Master’s address with reflections on religion and contemporary society, the Deputy Grand Master’s talk on the nature of “success,” Thelemic songs, theory of “magical gender,” and a review of the Crusades relative to Thelemic chivalry. The quality of content here is on a par with previous years, even if this volume has a lower page-count than average.
Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Fire of Motion: Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial National Ordo Templi Orientis Conference by Ordo Templi Orientis
This most recent of the U.S. Grand Lodge National O.T.O. Conference proceedings volumes contains some worthwhile and timely offerings. As usual, the book includes an apparatus that documents the biennial event at which the included papers were originally delivered. The program of events shows that fewer than half of the presentations were ultimately published in the book, and my understanding is that the authors did not submit them for inclusion, rather than that they were in any way disqualified. (At least one was restricted to initiated members, and thus not for publication.)
The papers “The Torchbearer in the Underworld,” “The 20th-Century Rosicrucian Conflict,” and “Aleister Crowley on Death” are all valuable contributions to Thelemic scholarship, as I hope my own “Secret Chiefs and the Interior Church” to be. The wine tasting event “Whores, Amazons, Witches, and the Grand Dames of Wine” appears to have been themed with a nod to Scarlet Woman Lodge in Austin, local to the conference site, and its documentation is an interesting glimpse of the weekend’s doings.
The most important part of this book, though, is the Grand Master’s address, which is concerned with the relationship of Thelema and O.T.O. to exoteric politics. It points out that “racism and classism are both rooted in fear,” and that “Opposing racial and sexual prejudice is a Thelemic value” (68-69). Two years after this address, we now see some anecdotal cases of attempts to identify Thelema with “alt-right” bigotries, and it is satisfying to have in print this authoritative statement to the contrary. It is also available online. [via]
Fr. Mesniu is to be applauded for his work in assembling this convenient and attractive collection of liturgical materials for the use of Gnostic Catholic clergy in the United States. The physical design and composition of the book are admirable, and his editorial introduction is clear and to the point. The title is Rites of Public Celebration, and yet the final text included, a “Last Rites” ceremony composed by Helena and Sabazius, is not one that would be conducted publicly in the vast majority of cases. Still, it completes the set of current “official” liturgical texts (i.e. those approved by the Patriarch and Primate for standard use), excepting only the ceremonies of priestly ordination (useful only to bishops) and consecration to the episcopate (private and officially secret).
The purpose of this book is to serve for study and aide memoire. It will suitably adorn any Gnostic Catholic Church sanctuary. With respect to Liber XV (the rule of the Mass), it should be noted that this edition is not “authorized,” and cannot settle disputes regarding the genuine text or instructions. I must admit that I am myself referenced as an authority in this book, but without any self-interest I encourage all EGC clergy to acquire it, both for its basic usefulness (and attractiveness), and because proceeds from the sale of the book benefit the operation of the Church.
At the same time, there are any number of small criticisms that occur to me. Fr. Mesniu disavows any attempt to interpret Liber XV in the document at hand, and yet there are several points where he tacitly does so. He has not noted any of the instances where there are variations among authorized editions, and in some cases he has muddied the water by dropping brackets that served to distinguish interpolated direction from Sabazius and Helena in their annotated version of Liber XV. (For example, “The PRIEST [hands the lance to the Priestess,] genuflects…” etc. on page 40.) As Sabazius and Helena note, “These bracketed [ ] stage directions are added for clarity. They reflect our experience and opinions, and do not represent definitive standards.”
The various art images and illustrative photos throughout the book are all attractive and well-presented, but there is at least one with debatable implications regarding ritual performance. The photo at the top of page 13, captioned “Raising the Lance,” actually shows the lance in a lowered position. Moreover, the manner in which it is lowered in that picture, while not uncommon, contradicts the practice described by Sabazius and Helena thus: “According to Agapé Lodge tradition, the Priest holds the Lance vertically upright before him with both hands, the butt end of the Lance on the floor, during the entire time the Priestess runs her hands up and down its shaft.”
Finally, while the verbal content of the texts seems to have been reviewed with care, and despite the overall beauty of the book, the typography fails to excel. The generous font size is suited to the book’s purpose, but the Times-style face betrays too obviously the cut-and-paste incorporations of the source texts, through such stigmata as the inconsistent appearance of straight and curly quote marks and double hyphens for dashes. Italics are used for rubrics in the supplementary rituals, but not in Liber XV.
As the reader can infer from the trivial nature of my objections, this book, while imperfect, is very good, and in fact the best yet of its kind. [via]
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 11th, 2014
“Those who embrace nostalgia excel at maintaining personal relationships and choose healthy social ways of coping with their troubles. When they feel stressed, for example, they tap into previously successful strategies, such as turning to a trusted teacher or parent. If I overcame adversity before, they tell themselves, I can do it again.
When they feel a lack of self-confidence, they remember when they felt valued and loved for who they were and not for what they achieved or earned.
And when they feel uncertain about the future, they wipe the cobwebs off their Ouija board.”
“Crowley had little concern with Reuss’s treasured image of spiritual descendants of an imaginary body of medieval male Templars sharing secrets of a yogic sexual magic (transmitted from late antiquity) manifesting in the twentieth century as a new Gnostic Catholic Church. For Reuss the Oriental Templars’ great secret was that Jesus Christ and his ‘Beloved Disciple’ had been practicing adepts; Jesus’s semen being held to manifest magical, sacramental power: ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him’ (John 6:56). Reuss consolidated the doctrine that consecrated sexual fluids constituted effective agents of magical, spiritual transformation through contacts established in Paris with French Gnostic Catholic Church clergy Jean Bricaud, Gérard Encausse and other Martinists when Reuss issued Encausse and his associates (including René Guénon) with a patent to administer the Rites of Memphis and Misraïm in 1908; it is believed that in return Reuss received ‘authority’ as a legate or bishop of the Église Catholique Gnostique in Germany. Reuss’s belief that the OTO’s originators were Christian Gnostics did not sit altogether well with his rather general approval of The Book of the Law. Despite this potential disparity of outlook, all might have progressed quite nicely were it not for the inconvenient interruption of World War One.”
“After the war Reuss described the OTO as a body of New Gnostic Christians who rejected the anti-German, that is anti-brotherhood, betrayal of the Versailles Conference and looked for a transnational movement. Crowley did not attend Reuss’s international Freemasonry conference organized in Basle in 1920 for kindred fringe-Masonic representatives worldwide. Thinking about the invitation while in retirement in Cefalù, Sicily, the Beast wondered if he had it in him to combine such a collection of what he considered nonentities into a force.
But what really got Crowley’s goat was that while paying lip service to aspects of The Book of the Law, Reuss was obviously putting distance between himself and his supposed colleague. The reasons for this soon became apparent. Reuss was seeking financial support from AMORC-founder Harvey Spencer Lewis; Reuss offered Lewis an OTO diploma as an inducement to affiliation.”
“The devil continues to be as useful for the modern church as he has been in the past, when he bolstered the case for the burning of heretics. The concept now provides a dramatic way to underscore the dangers of a godless society. The organiser of last week’s course, Dr Giuseppe Ferrari, argues that a rise in the number of people abandoning religion and dabbling in the occult has increased Satan’s power. As head of the Gruppo di Ricerca e Informazione Socio-Religiosa, a Catholic organisation concerned with the threat posed by cults and sects, Ferrari says good exorcists are needed more than ever, since: ‘We live in a disenchanted society, a secularised world that thought it was being emancipated, but where religion is being thrown out, the window is being opened to superstition and irrationality.’
This seems like an extreme position, but it is in perfect alignment with Francis’s views, which go further than his brief mentions of the devil last week suggest. In his very first homily as pope, delivered in the Sistine Chapel on the day after his election, Francis bluntly quoted the French author and Catholic convert Léon Bloy: ‘Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.'”
“Iran’s state broadcaster, known as Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, has never been the country’s most dignified institution. But even by its own standards, the network plunged into a fresh abyss of superstition and fear-mongering with a recent broadcast in which Valiollah Naghipourfar, a cleric and professor at Tehran University, discusses the use of jinns, or genies, in public life.
‘Can jinns be put to use in intelligence gathering?’ the presenter asks ingenuously, as though dragons can also serve as defense ministers and we’ve all entered the realm of the Hobbit.
The cleric nods, as though speaking about a species of exotic elf: ‘The Jew is very practiced in sorcery. Indeed most sorcerers are Jews.'”
“Such paranoia and fear of the other, of course, is typical among the ultra-orthodox of any religion.”
“When I first told friends I was going to a meeting of the New York Ordo Templi Orientis branch, called Tahuti Lodge, the general consensus was that I should try not to die, and I should avoid sexual contact. […] As it turned out, neither of my friends’ concerns proved necessary.”
“One of the key questions I explore in the book is why Crowley remained a pop ‘icon’ – apologies for using a much abused and emptied-out term – long after other esoteric figures taken up by the 60s counter culture, like Jung and Madame Blavatsky, no longer were. The answer to that is that Crowley’s philosophy of excess – ‘excess in all directions’, as his friend Louis Wilkinson called it – is purpose built for rock and roll and the pop aesthetics that followed it.”
did you know: contracts with satan are null and void if signed with a genuine fisher space pen® – space pen® the anti-superstition choice
— rstevens 3.01 (@rstevens) July 7, 2014
“In a new study, a Yale Law School professor, Dan Kahan, finds that the divide over belief in evolution between more and less religious people is wider among people who otherwise show familiarity with math and science, which suggests that the problem isn’t a lack of information. When he instead tested whether respondents knew the theory of evolution, omitting mention of belief, there was virtually no difference between more and less religious people with high scientific familiarity. In other words, religious people knew the science; they just weren’t willing to say that they believed in it.”
“My arrival to a neo Platonic stance on this issue came initially through my interest for behaviourism and the realization of how an organism can be conditioned to nearly whatever and how inconstant and changeable the human mind and heart is which grew these ideas of dualism solely being a heuristic and not a reality. Later when I studied Advaita philosophy and Renaissance philosophers both from the European and Arabic renaissance a qualified monism took shape and got over the years sharper and sharper. Quite simply if we view everything in terms of polarities we also become more inclined to understand the tension within the fields of being and find the bridges of understanding that widens our horizon and in this the tension between the poles are also experienced less severe. For instance in the thoughts of Ibn Al Arabi we find the concept of Iblis being the limit of divine enfolding – and thus our experience of this concept is one of resistance and opposition, but in truth it serves a quite different function in defining the field of possibility for unfolding.”
“Most people believe that the persecution of ‘witches’ reached its height in the early 1690s with the trials in Salem, Mass., but it is a grim paradox of 21st-century life that violence against people accused of sorcery is very much still with us. Far from fading away, thanks to digital interconnectedness and economic development, witch hunting has become a growing, global problem.”
“We are walking into the heat scorched arms of summer this weekend, and as some of us keep our heads toward the earth, watching for signs and faerie rings, others are looking skyward again to that opulent display of rocket-fuelled magic.”
“The background setting is chiefly about the decline of humanity’s ability to survive as a species over the coming 100 years or so. The matter is doleful, sobering and utterly important.”
“Our witchcraft, nay, our very being must become more wild, more intuitive, and more accepting of nature’s amorality and our inevitable demise if we are to make any difference at all. If we are to preserve what we’ve left behind of the earth in our destructive wake, and if we are to survive in any number as a species, we must rewild ourselves and learn how to live outside of civilization. We must lose our faiths, our religions, our meaningless attachment to nitpicketity details only we as individuals and not a whole care about. We who are importers of foreign magics and alien gods. We must become a different kind of witch. Something that needs no definitions, no boundaries, and no expectations. Something more primal and raw than our current incarnation. Something small, something just outside your door…”
“A small hammer dating to the 10th century was found recently on the Danish Island of Lolland. Over 1000 of these amulets have been found across Northern Europe but the pendant from Lolland is the only one with a runic inscription.”
“Italy-based photographer Andrea Frazzetta gives us a little glimpse into the lives and rituals of modern healers from Lima, Peru. His project called ‘Urban Shamans’ peeks behind the doors of the rear private shops where shamans, or the so called curanderos, perform their traditional mystical rituals which are not subject to the laws and orders of today’s world.”
“Brooklyn-based artist Hannah Kunkle puts Kim Kardashian on the altar, literally. Kunkle delivers Kardashian as the Virgin Mary, Medusa, the devil and even Kleopatra. With a flashy net-art inspired aesthetic, the artist takes Kim’s iconic, worshiped image and puts it to work, naturally, with religious/cultish iconography. The controversial juxtaposition is rather riveting as its subtle insights perfectly captures the absurdity of our nation’s obsession with Kardashian and celeb idolatry in general. ‘We have accepted her into our lives via television screens, memes, and Instagram feeds’, she says. ‘If Jay Z is the father and Yeezus is the son, then she is the ever-present holy ghost of pop culture.'”
“At the very heart of quantum mechanics lies a monster waiting to consume unwary minds. This monster goes by the name The Nature of Reality™. The greatest of physicists have taken one look into its mouth, saw the size of its teeth, and were consumed. Niels Bohr denied the existence of the monster after he nonchalantly (and very quietly) exited the monster’s lair muttering ‘shut up and calculate.’ Einstein caught a glimpse of the teeth and fainted. He was reportedly rescued by Erwin Schrödinger at great personal risk, but neither really recovered from their encounter with the beast.”
“This is a really creative presentation of the dissertation, one which certainly challenges new scholars to consider the life of their work beyond the written page. It is great to see how this topic has been re-imagined into a totally different context, one which allows the audience to experience the milieu researched by Faxneld in an accessible and immediate way.”
“And this makes it all the more incredible that humans once revered the dung beetle, from the ancient Egyptians to a 17th-century Jesuit who compared Christ to the bug. These folks got a whole lot wrong about the dung beetle and made some pretty fantastical assumptions, but it turns out that their reverence was totally justified. The dung beetle may live its life in crap, but it’s actually a far more remarkable creature than you think.”
If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.