Tag Archives: richard kaczynski

The Golden Dawn Source Book

A review of The Golden Dawn Source Book with introduction and foreword by Darcy Küntz, preface by R A Gilbert, with articles by Gerald Suster, R T Prinke, Ellic Howe, and Richard Kaczynski, part of the Golden Dawn Studies series; from Caduceus, Vol II No 4.

Küntz Gilbert The Golden Dawn Source Book

For all that the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is far and away the most famous of modern magical lodges, the basic documents concerning its history have not been easy to come by, except for those with personal access to the handful of private collections in which the bulk of surviving GD documents reside. While the outlines of the Order’s history have been traced by a number of useful histories, very little of a documentary nature has been available to those who prefer to draw their own conclusions from the evidence.

The appearance of this second volume in Holmes Publishing Group’s Golden Dawn Studies Series suggests that this unfortunate state of affairs will soon be a thing of the past. Like the first volume (reviewed in Caduceus’ Spring 1996 issue), which provided and translated the original Golden Dawn cipher manuscripts The Golden Dawn Source Book is likely to become an essential starting point for all further work on the subject.

The Golden Dawn Source Book has for its focus the origins and development of the Order, and brings together between one set of covers nearly everything that sheds light on this often vexed topic. Included here is the complete “Anna Sprengel” correspondence in its original English translation, relevant entries from W. Wynn Westcott’s diary, a wide selection of letters tracing the Order’s prehistory and history alike, the public letters and articles that announced the GD’s existence to the world, and a collection of published histories of the Order by a range of members.

In addition, the Source Book contains a collection of modern essays on the Order’s early history, including contributions from nearly all sides of the various disputes in which the interpretation of that history seems permanently mired. Notable among these are Ron Heisler’s “Precursors of the Golden Dawn,” a valuable study of earlier Kabbalistic societies in London, as well as several documents from the controversy over Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn including Gerald Suster’s incendiary critique of Howe, “Modern Scholarship and the Origins of the Golden Dawn,” and Howe’s amused response.

Finally, the Source Book concludes with a comprehensive, cross-referenced index of the names and magical mottoes of all known Golden Dawn members from the temples in England, North America and New Zealand, a crucial reference tool that has been attempted several times before with a good deal less success.

Series editor Darcy Küntz should be commended for a valuable and well-presented work. While it has little to appeal to the purely practical magician, the Source Book is a welcome addition to the still-limited library of sources on esoteric history, and students of the Golden Dawn and its antecedents in particular will find it a useful resource.

Success Is Your Proof

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Success Is Your Proof: One Hundred Years of O.T.O. in North America  by Richard Kaczynski, & al.

Kaczynski Success Is Your Proof

Success Is Your Proof is a collection of papers and essays commemorating two different anniversaries in O.T.O. organizing–both the centennial of O.T.O. in North America (dating from the local charter issued for Vancouver, British Columbia) and the thirtieth anniversary of the headship of Hymenaeus Beta. Although the book was grown out of a set of papers first presented at a scholarly conference, not all of the papers are scholarly in their emphasis, and some were not presented at the conference. The first chapter of the book is an encomium for Frater Superior H.B. from Grand Master Shiva X° of Australia, who is very good at this sort of thing.

My own contribution is one of a several here that are concerned with a seminal O.T.O. organizer in North America, Charles Stansfeld Jones, a.k.a. Frater Achad. My paper “Bizarre Sons” is one among multiple approaches I have taken to the same research materials from different disciplinary angles, and it does give a full accounting of the relationship between Jones and literary author Malcolm Lowry. I’m happy with how it is presented in the book, but there is one curiosity in the first footnote, where someone claims to be preparing a book by Jones for publication. In the printed footnote, it appears to be me purporting to do this work, but I am not and never made such a claim. The note must have slipped in from correspondence or comments among Success Is Your Proof‘s editors, one of whom was engaged with that project, I surmise. I’m flattered to have my paper appear in the company of other excellent Jones-focused contributions such as the research on the Universal Brotherhood by Frater Taos, Frater Iskander’s “Thinking Backwards,” and Richard Kaczynski’s “Panic in Detroit.” These three were also the editors of the book.

Two of the papers in this book are not so much about O.T.O. itself as they are about A∴A∴ and its relationship to the Oriental Templar Order. Of these, the better is the one by AISh MChLMH, which includes a focus on C.S. Jones, and emphasizes the intersection of the two systems in the material of the Major Adept Grade of A∴A∴ and the Sanctuary of the Gnosis of O.T.O. I found the paper by Phanes X° of Italy disappointing. It advanced some misrepresentations with an out-of-context misreading of a statement from “One Star in Sight,” and with a tendentious and necessarily unsupported allusion to language in O.T.O. confidential ceremonies.

Although Vere Chappell’s article on the pre-Thelemic A∴A∴ and O.T.O. falls a little outside the supposed scope of the collection, it is still a valuable contribution for its well-documented clarity on an often-overlooked aspect of Crowley’s magical organizing. Likewise, the fascinating research on Leila Waddell by Cynthia Crosse has “America” in the title, but only briefly sojourns in that continent in the course of a more wide-ranging biography. Decisively outside the “North American” scope is Clive Harper’s account of the development of O.T.O. in the UK during the 1980s, but this paper contained many details I was grateful to learn. James Wasserman’s distinctive Thelemic Americanism is exhibited in his paper on “The New Aeon in the New World,” which is more polemic than scholarship. It is good to have it in this book, though, given its relevance to the topic and Wasserman’s own key involvement in the revival of the American O.T.O. 

Lita-Luise Chappell’s “Historical Overview of the Rites of Eleusis” seems to demonstrate that the majority of the work with these Crowley-authored ceremonies has been done in North America, although I’m sure that wasn’t her primary purpose. While I enjoyed the pictures and the first few pages regarding the origins of Crowley’s plays and their early revivals in the US, much of the remainder is just concatenated data that could have been more simply and easily appreciated in tabular form, so it’s not surprising that she refers to a still-growing spreadsheet where she archives this information. I did see only a glancing mention of what were certainly the most ambitious and sustained presentation of the Rites to date: Scarlet Woman Lodge in Austin produced them as full theatrical pieces for the paying public, in integral month-long seasons featuring all seven rites, every year for seven consecutive years.

The book is a materially beautiful production designed by Studio 31, with a frontispiece portrait of Hymenaeus Beta by Australian artist Robert Buratti. None of the pieces in this varied mixture of scholarship, homage, and advocacy is at all boring, and taken together they exhibit important intellectual trends in Thelema today. I certainly recommend it to those interested in the history of O.T.O. and the Thelemic movement.

Forgotten Templars

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Forgotten Templars: The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis by Richard Kaczynski.

Kaczynski Forgotten Templars

Readers of Richard Kaczynski’s Crowley biography Perdurabo will not be surprised to find that his history of the origins of O.T.O. Forgotten Templars is similarly exhaustive. This volume is not for the casual reader: it is intended for institutional libraries (every O.T.O. lodge should have one!) and discriminating collectors. As a material item, it is an impressive hardbound folio with heavy gloss paper and illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs and document facsimiles.

The start of the book is slow going, with a large section dedicated to the biographical backgrounds of the four principal founders prior to their collaboration. In particular, the two chapters on Henry Klein, the most obscure of the four, are likely to merit skimming for readers who don’t share the author’s special enthusiasm for the history of music publishing and Victorian musical automation. Two appendices even provide a full musical bibliography of Klein’s work as a composer and a publisher. Most readers will doubtless enjoy the details supplied on the three Oriental sages who informed Order founder Carl Kellner’s inquiries: Bheema Sena Pratapa, Soliman ben Aissa, and Agamya Paramahamsa. The last of these was especially outrageous, in no way exaggerated by the unfriendly portrait painted in Crowley’s Equinox (“Half-hours with Famous Mahatmas”). I was surprised and intrigued to discover that the Moroccan Sufi Soliman was supposed to have been a hereditary sheikh of the Aissawa tariqa, the same school of initiation as that professed by Aleister Crowley’s Muslim instructor in Cairo in 1904.

Things start to warm up with the next set of chapters, concerned to address the cultural and institutional background to the formation of the Order, with discussions of German Freemasonry, Lebensreform, Theosophy, the Cerneauist Scottish Rite and other freemasonic hautes grades, and the intellectual career of John Yarker. But it’s not until the middle of the book that the account reaches the actual organization of the nascent O.T.O., and it’s only in the final pages that the organization takes on that name.

Needless to say, there was a good amount of detail that was new to me in this book. Still, the broad outlines were the ones I had been able to discern through the variety of sources I had already studied on this topic. I was especially grateful for the wealth of detail and analysis regarding the 1906-7 scandals plaguing the rites governed by Theodor Reuss and his associates. I found it strange, though, that while the appendices include the full text of the hostile 1905 article “The Manifesto of the Grand Orient of the Scottish, Memphis and Mizraim Rite” by Robert Fischer, they don’t supply a translation of the brief actual 1903 manifesto by Kellner and Reuss (published in the Oriflamme in 1904) of which the article was a criticism.

As the book progresses, it increasingly focuses on the questions that loom largest to students of the topic. Where did the founders of O.T.O. get their “supreme secret”? What was the relationship of O.T.O. to the H.B. of L.? Did the haute grades that Reuss had organized persist in any way outside of O.T.O.? Kaczynski offers a frank discussion regarding the possibilities involved with Crowley’s alleged accidental exposure of the chief O.T.O. secret in The Book of Lies. He does not touch on the peculiar and enigmatic timeline regarding the publication of the book and Reuss’ prior visit to induct Crowley into the O.T.O. Sovereign Sanctuary (see Magick Without Tears, chapter 25). My own longstanding view of this conundrum is that Reuss had access to a pre-publication copy, either directly from Crowley as an “application for the X°” or though Yarker’s agency. The study concludes with Crowley’s reform of the O.T.O. rite in Mysteria Mystica Maxima, preserving its integrity and concentrating its effects, while distancing it from its Masonic origins.

I strongly recommend this book to serious readers interested in the real history behind the establishment of one of the most provocative of modern initiatory societies. [via]

Forgotten Templars

Hermetic Library fellow Colin Campbell reviews Forgotten Templars: The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis by Richard Kaczynski.

Every so often, I am reminded what a crap writer and researcher I am. Those times often, and justifiably, coincide with Richard Kaczynski publishing something. Did he really have to put out a second edition of Perdurabo just to rub it in, though?

Just released is a new title, Forgotten Templars: The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis. For the most part, people equate O.T.O. with the most famous of its members, and second Grand Master, Aleister Crowley, but beyond that knowledge of the founders drops off precipitously. In fact, Crowley was not even a founding member, though it is argued that he really did “get the ball – pun intended – rolling” as it were. Those more familiar with the history might be able to come up with Theodore Reuss, but fewer still would be capable of listing out names like Klein, Hartmann, Kellner, or Krumm-Heller.

Like Perdurabo, this book has a lot of information, is meticulously researched, and contains a great number of pictures from both modern day and the relevant time period to help set the visual setting for the underlying events.

As the book began as a research project on Henry Klein, it begins with this man’s own journey through his life in the music business and eventually into esoteric Masonry in the heyday of rite-swapping that invariably connects with the likes of John Yarker (given no short mention in the book). Reuss, Hartmann, and Kellner are subsequently covered in greater detail than I have seen elsewhere at any time, and I found it especially helpful to have the additional context of their personal lives apart from their strictly Masonic work.

From the detail of the individual personages comes an exceptional exposition of the nascent origins of OTO and its basis in the various extant (worked or otherwise) rites circulating at the time. This, for me, was the most fascinating part, as you can see the groundwork laid toward the gradual development and emergence of OTO pre-Crowley, whereas most literature has focused on post-Crowley. In fact, only in the final chapter is Crowley’s association and subsequent contributions (not inconsiderable, given that he re-wrote the initiation rituals) covered: and they are that much better for having the detailed background leading up to his involvement.

Forgotten Templars is exceptionally well researched, well organized, and equally well written, and without a doubt should adorn the shelf of anyone with an interest in the historical context of the OTO. Kaczynski has done an amazing job. Again. [via]

Unheard-of Curiosities at Alexander Library, Rutgers through July 3rd, 2014

Unheard-of Curiosities: An Exhibition of Rare Books on the Occult and Esoteric Sciences is an exhibition at Alexander Library, Rutgers University, through July 3rd, 2014 and may be of interest, especially as it includes two of Hermetic Library figure J F C Fuller‘s paintings.

“The Rutgers University Libraries invite members of the Rutgers community and the general public to view “Unheard-of Curiosities”: An Exhibition of Rare Books on the Occult and Esoteric Sciences, the new exhibition in Alexander Library. The exhibition will showcase rare books from Special Collections and University Archives that illuminate the enduring popular interest in a diverse constellation of “occult” topics from the sixteenth century to the present day.

Many of the books in the exhibition were collected by the late Rutgers Professor of English, Clement W. Fairweather, Jr and predominantly focus on astrology and early astronomy from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries including works ranging from Arati Solensis Phaenomena et Prognostica (1569) to William Lilly’s Starry Messenger (1645) to the colorful Astrologer of the 19th Century and intriguing Raphael’s Witch!! Other titles featured explore topics such as prediction and prophecy, demons and the devil, witchcraft and magic, and the mysteries of ancient Egypt. The exhibition also highlights the exquisite illustrations of the tablet of Isis in the Mensa Isaica (1671), the whimsical The Magic Mirror of Nostradamus, and Book Four (1911), the work of the infamous Aleister Crowley.”

Apparently there was also a colloquium, on Jun 23rd, on “The Soldier and the Seer: J.F.C. Fuller, Aleister Crowley, and the British Occult Revival” with Henrik Bogdan, Christian Guidice, Gordan Djurdjevic, Richard Kaczynski and Robert Stein; and that probably would have been of great interest, as it relates to both J F C Fuller and Hermetic Library figure Aleister Crowley and their interrelationship, if I’d been able to post about it before it was too late to attend.

Occult on Sep 26-28, 2014 in Salem, MA

OCCULT is a “weekend long Esoteric Salon honoring, exploring and celebrating the intertwining vines which feed both Magick and Creative Art” in Salem, MA on September 26th – 28th, 2014 with presentations, workshops, an art exhibition, and more; including participation by Richard Kaczynski, Sasha Chaitow, Greg Kaminsky, and K Lenore Siner.

Occult art salon in Salem MA 2014 poster

Sept 26th – 29th 2013, Salem, MA.

“Science arose from poetry—when times change the two can meet again on a higher level as friends.”
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A weekend long Esoteric Salon honoring, exploring and celebrating the intertwining vines which feed both Magick and Creative Art.

Mission and Vision: To recognize that, especially together, both Magick and Art are greater than the sum of their parts, and each in dwells the other; they are rooted together. To raise consciousness, challenging false perceptions of separation between these so-imagined opposed sorceries. Through art as entertainment has its place and time, this Esoteric Salon moves us well past materialist commercialism. We recognize the power of Art to create spiritual movement and full expression to the divine Will—dancing, singing, painting, acting, sculpting,filming, poeting the ineffable. We confront the notion that the meaning and content of Art is not as important as its form and materials. With OCCULT, we seek to challenge old beliefs through the juxtaposition of beauty and magick, of art and ritual, blending the ingredients to make an event of highest harmony, a conjunctio of non-opposites.

“All Art is Magick…There is no more potent means than Art of calling forth true Gods to visible appearance.”—Aleister Crowley, Liber ABA, Part 3, Chapter X.

We answer the call of each of the planetary archetypes, and they inform us as to the achievement of best balance. Each offers a gift:

Luna: The co-creation of community, care for our sisters and brothers. A safe and challenging space to open and express.

Sol: Full expression of the Will! The Hero/Heroine’s Journey.

Mercury: Authentic communication and free expression. The co-creation and strengthening of network. The androgyne as symbol of inner wholeness.

Venus: Aesthetic beauty for its own pleasure. Sexuality as holy sacrament. Movement beyond mere adoration of the Feminine, to include Her co-sovereignty as well.

Mars: Fire. Passion. Blood pumping through the veins. Warriorship. The challenging of the Old Aeon, and the dare to fully embrace the New.

Jupiter: Philosophy, higher learning, expansion of thought and ideas.

Saturn: The honoring of the world of form, through artistic structure, Time and Space, and the expression of the invisible realm into the material one. The letting go of that which no longer serves.

Uranus: Innovation growth and change. Experimentation. Electrifying our minds, bodies, hearts. Dynamic movement.

Neptune: We honor The Dream. The ineffable, mystical force of Love and Soul that moves through the Artist and Mage alike. Spirit. Glamour. The Present Moment.

Pluto: We continue to Rebirth ourselves into this New Aeon. We shamanically honor the Shadow, and receive what the dark has to teach. We see the Luminosity in that Darkness.

“Magic in its earliest form is often referred to as ‘the art’. I believe this is completely literal. I believe that magic is art and that art, whether it be writing, music, sculpture, or any other form is literally magic. Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words, or images, to achieve changes in consciousness.”—Alan Moore

Richard Kaczynski at Atlantis Bookshop on May 19th, 2014

Richard Kaczynski will be presenting “Two Agnostics: Victor Neuburg and J. F. C. Fuller, B.C. (Before Crowley), During, and After”, a talk about his research around three Hermetic Library figures: Aleister Crowley, Victor Benjamin Neuburg and John Frederick Charles Fuller, at Atlantis Bookshop in London, on May 19th, 2014 starting at 7pm, £10, and they have requested that you RSVP to book a place.

“We are very pleased to welcome Richard Kaczynski back to The Atlantis Bookshop on a flying visit and for one night only, to talk about his current research on Victor Neuberg and JFC Fuller, both heavily influenced by Aleister Crowley.” [via]

The Drug

The Drug by Aleister Crowley is the fifth new edition from 100th Monkey Press, available in a hand-bound limited edition.

Aleister Crowley The Drug from 100th Monkey Press

‘The Drug’ was originally published in Great Britain in the January 1909 issue of The Idler, an illustrated monthly magazine that printed various light pieces and sensational fiction.

This work is one of Aleister Crowley’s earliest published short stories and highlights his power as an author of fiction as well as poetry.

It has been said that this short story is one of the first, if not the first fictionalized account of ingesting a hallucinogenic substance. Crowley certainly experimented with a wide variety of mind-altering substances throughout his life, and it is not too far-fetched to consider the possibility that this story may be based, at least in part, on personal experience.

‘The Drug’ may be based on Crowley’s experiences with Anhalonium Lewinii, a now obsolete name for Lophophora Williamsii, commonly known as the peyote cactus. The active constituent of peyote is mescaline, a well-known alkaloid that can produce hallucinogenic effects when ingested.

References to Anhalonium Lewinii by Crowley are found as early as 1907. Crowley’s diary entry for 12 March 1907 seems to indicate that he was using a commercial preparation of Anhalonium Lewinii. He writes that he has taken 10 drops of the preparation and will take no more since this was the maximum dosage mentioned on the label. Crowley also seemed to have had a relationship of some sort with Parke-Davis and even mentions an October 1915 visit to the company in his confessions:

‘They were kind enough to interest themselves in my researches in Anhalonium Lewinii and made me some special preparations on the lines indicated by my experience which proved greatly superior to previous preparations.’

According to Perdurabo, Dr. Richard Kaczynski’s excellent biography on Crowley, the Abbey of Thelema’s copy of Diary of a Drug Fiend contains a marginal note by Crowley stating that he had conducted numerous experiments on people with Anhalonium Lewinii in 1910 and afterwards. These experiments may have formed the basis for Liber CMXXXIV, The Cactus, described as ‘An elaborate study of the psychological effects produced by Anhalonium Lewinii (Mescal Buttons), compiled from the actual records of some hundreds of experiments.’ Unfortunately The Cactus was never published and is now considered lost to history.

Whether ‘The Drug’ is truly a fictionalized account of the use of peyote is, of course, open to debate, but, the story does stand on its own as a very early piece of psychedelic literature. [via]

Fifth International Conference of the ASE on Jun 19-22nd, 2014 at Colgate University

The Fifth International Conference of the Association for the Study of Esotericism on June 19th–22nd, 2014 at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. The conference schedule has recently been posted and you will find quite a few presenters and presentations of interest including a couple by Hermetic library fellows:

· Mark Stavish, Israel Regardie and the Theory and Practice of the Middle Pillar Exercise
· Joscelyn Godwin, Esotericism in a Murky Mirror: Strange Practices in Central New York.

Do check out the whole schedule, but a selection of the other presentations, that catch my eye, includes:

· John L Crow (Thelema Coast to Coast), The Theosophical Shift to the Visual: Graphical Representations of the Human Body in the Literature of Second and Third Generation Leadership in the Theosophical Society
· Simon Magus, The fin de siècle magical aesthetic of Austin Osman Spare: Siderealism, Atavism, Automatism, Occultism
· David Pecotic, Building Subtle Bodies — Gurdjieff’s esoteric practice of conditional immortality in the light of Poortman’s concept of hylic pluralism in the history of religions
· Richard Kaczynski, Inventing Tradition: The Construction of History, Lineage and Authority in Secret Societies
· Wouter Hanegraaff, The Transformation of Desire in Machen’s & Waite’s House of the Hidden Light
· Sarah Veale, Disenchantment of the Vampire: Balkan Folklore’s Deadly Encounter with Modernity
· Gordan Djurdjevic, “In Poison there is Physic”: On Poisons and Cures in Some Strands of Esoteric Theory and Practice.