Tag Archives: ritual magic

The Spectrum of Ritual

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Spectrum of Ritual: A Biogenetic Structural Analysis by Eugene G D’Aquili, Charles D Laughlin Jr, John McManus, et al.

d'Aquili et al The Spectrum of Ritual

This book is an attempt to create an integrated, multi-disciplinary “explanatory model” (p. 41) of ritual behavior. Besides being undermined by a problematically vague definition of ritual (p. 29), the writing is generally inelegant, and often seems to be cloaking commonplaces in sesquipedalianisms.

My original motive for picking it up was to follow up on the recommendation of Barabara Lex’s chapter “The Neurobiology of Ritual Trance,” which was the subject of great enthusiasm by Robert Mathiesen in his paper on the Sworn Book of Honorius included in Claire Fanger’s collection Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Ritual Magic (1998). As it turned out, the Lex piece was fairly unenlightening and mostly consisted of tallying systemic theories of neurobiology with possible ritual stimuli in order to support a hypothesis of neural “tuning” as the functional basis of ritual. It seemed odd that Mathiesen would reference the Lex paper in his discussion of a “ritual to obtain the Beatific Vision,” since Lex subordinates ritual functionality in both individuals and social systems to the goals of homeostasis and therapeutic change.

For my comrades in the Church, however, I would recommend the penultimate chapter of The Spectrum of Ritual, by G. Ronald Murphy, S.J. (that’s Society of Jesus), “A Ceremonial Ritual: The Mass.” Although it purports to be an applied exemplification of “the major concepts presented in the first six chapters,” it contains a lot of interesting reflections in no way dependent on the structural models of the rest of the book. Murphy’s analysis of the Roman Mass demonstrates the kind of reflection on the magical mechanics of a eucharistic ritual canon that I have rarely seen outside of Leadbeater’s Science of the Sacraments. On the strength of this paper alone, the book is worth borrowing from a school or public library. [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.

Music, Mysticism and Magic

Music, Mysticism and Magic: A Sourcebook by Hermetic Library fellow Joscelyn Godwin, the 1988 paperback from Arkana, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Joscelyn Godwin Music, Mysticism and Magic from Arkana

“‘At the highest levels of music little changes: it is always the same vehicle for voyages to another world, the same revelation of divine and cosmic laws, the same powerful tool for self-transformation, as it was in ancient and even in prehistoric times’&mdask;from the Preface

This anthology brings together over 2,000 years of the perennial wisdom associated with music—its spiritual, philosophical, mystical and magical dimensions—in writings spanning the ages from the ancient world to the twentieth century, from classical, Judaic, Islamic, Christian and secular civilizations.

The writers range from composers, philosophers and novelists to monks, Kabbalists and astronomers. Plato and Plutarch, Kepler and Chateaubriand, Balzac and Gurdjieff, Schopenhauer and Stockhausen, Wagner and Schumann, Rudolf Steiner and George Sand are only some of the distinguished names included. Yet the common ground they share is astonishing: the power of music to awaken the spirit and trigger magical and mystical experience recurs throughout their writing.

From Cicero’s account of the music of the spheres and the medieval hermit Richard Rolle’s mystical experience of canor—a continuous state of song which welled up in him unbidden—to the utopian socialist Fourier’s use of music in a recipe for ritual magic, this sourcebook leads us far beyond current limited views of music as mere entertainment or emotional stimulus.”

 

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 Legacy of the Beast

The Legacy of the Beast: The Life, Work, and Influence of Aleister Crowley by Gerald Suster, with foreword by Francis X King, the 1989 paperback from Samuel Weiser, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Gerald Suster The Legacy of the Beast from Samuel Weiser

“Tracing the roots of Crowley’s ideas and demonstrating their enduring relevance, Gerald Suster has produced a much-needed reappraisal of the ‘Great Beast’ and his continuing influence, as well as fascinating exposition of a supremely practical spiritual discipline.

Casting a critical but sympathetic eye over Crowley’s writings, the author reveals a man of enormous and original intellectual gifts, whose contributions to the understanding of the occult sciences are matched only by his daring experiments in the development of human consciousness. Crowley’s own magical system encompassed Buddhism, ritual magic, the Qabalah, Yoga, the Tarot and Taoism, though its most original element derived from the personal revelations Crowley received in Cairo in 1904 and which formed the basis of his most important work—and perhaps the most important occult work of the century—The Book of the Law.”

 

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 Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley

The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley: Tunisia 1923 edited, with additional material, by Stephen Skinner, the 1996 paperback from Weiser Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Stephen Skinner's The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley from Weiser Books

“The complete diaries of Aleister Crowley cover his entire career in magic, from his initiation into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1898, to his death in 1947. These diaries record the development of Crowley’s synthesis of traditional Western ritual magic with Eastern yoga, tantra and sexual magic—culminating in the creation of Crowley’s ‘Thelemic Magick.’ The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley: Tunisia 1923 show one year in Crowley’s life. This particular year was a major turning point in his life—he and his followers has just been banished by Mussolini from their beloved Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu, Sicily. It marks a time of introspection for Crowley. In it he fully records his magical acts, the internal and external influences surrounding these acts, and their results. Also included are references to the commentaries on the Book of the Law, passages detailing drug use, the practice of sexual magic, descriptions of how he derived Qabalistic meaning from his works and life, interpretations of ‘Yi King’ (I Ching) divination, and other thoughts of a philosophic, religious, and magical nature. In these candid glimpses into Crowley’s mind the reader can see both the egocentric, self-aggrandizing ‘Beast 666’ and the doubts and misgivings of a man dedicated to the spiritual path.”


 

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.

Sorcerer

Sorcerer: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth’s Alchemist by Geoffrey James, from Grand Mal Press, arrived at the Reading Room courtesy of the author.

Geoffrey James' Sorcerer from Grand Mal Press

 

“Based on actual diaries and historical accounts, Sorcerer: A Novel of Queen Elizabeth’s Alchemist breaks the barrier between fantasy and historical fiction, recreating a long-hidden real-life world of death, sex, politics and ritual magic.

The year is 1584. John Dee, the greatest scholar of his age, has turned from reputable science to forbidden magic. In partnership with a visionary rogue, an ex-nun and a court beauty, he’s flees across Europe, dogged by the Inquisition and a relentless assassin.

Finally, Dee’s magic seems to yield fruit. Angels (or are they demons?) promise to reveal the secret of transmuting lead into gold. There is only one hitch: Dee and his companions must first commit an unforgivable sin.” [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.

Clavis Arcana Magica

You may be interested in Clavis Arcana Magica, a previously unpublished manuscript by Frederick Hockley, with an introduction by Alan Thorogood, published by Teitan Press and currently available through Weiser Antiquarian.

Clavis Arcana Magica is an unusual text for Hockley in that it is largely concerned with what might be considered “black magic.” As Alan Thorogood describes in his Introduction, it gives instruction for the performance of a number of magical workings, the details of which were said to have been obtained for Hockley via his seer Emma, during a series of scrying operations undertaken between 1853 and 1856. The workings are preceded by instructions including the form of the “call to the crystal,” the exorcism and the discharge. The first working outlines a method to call the spirits of five material substances or organisms for the purpose of receiving cognate visions, the second is a variety of praestigia for the revivification of animal as well as plant species, the third outlines the construction of a talisman which permits the operator to enter the “spirit state” while asleep, and the fourth is necromantic ritual said to be “of marvellous power and force.” This first publication of the text comprises an Introduction by Alan Thorogood, followed by a typeset transcription of the text of the manuscript, with explanatory footnotes, etc., and a facsimile of the original Hockley manuscript.

Frederick Hockley (1809-1885), was an occultist and freemason whose interests included scrying, ritual magic, alchemy and spiritualism. In later life was associated with the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia. Hockley’s peers considered him to be one of the great occult scholars of his time in fact he was held in such high regard by one of the founders of the Golden Dawn, W. Wynn Westcott, that he posthumously claimed Hockley as one of the Order’s most outstanding Adepts.” [via]

The Blood of the Earth: An essay on Magic and Peak Oil

The Blood of the Earth: An essay on Magic and Peak Oil” by John Michael Greer is available for pre-order from Scarlet Imprint, and is their first title for 2012.

“The Blood of the earth: an essay on magic and peak oil. Industrial culture is in collapse. There is no infinite growth on a finite planet and oil, our most critical resource, has passed peak.

We have entered a period of radical flux, and magic must respond to the world in which it operates, or it is nothing but empty escapism.

The Blood of the Earth is a challenging and radical book. It fuses hard physical science with an adept’s understanding of magic. It is a smart, articulate and devastating piece of writing. You could call it a polemic. You could call it a prophetic work.

We believe it is essential reading for the modern magician.

Magic, like peak oil, is the voice our civilisation has failed to heed. Greer argues passionately that the answers to our darkening age are to be found in the practice of magic, provided we understand what it can and cannot do. He gives a lucid explanation of how magic works and crucially, where it does not.

His vision of the future covers the dangers of political thaumaturgy and the threats of new dictatorships in an increasingly unstable world. Neither does he shy away from a critique of the mind control antics of the black magicians of the advertising industry. Cautionary examples of UFO cults, mysterious assassinations and fake science are all grist for his mill.

Whilst attacking the failures of scientific materialism and the empty technological utopias he does not spare the New Age. Instead he presents a tour de force of occult philosophy covering Neoplatonism, Theurgy, Ritual magic, and thinkers as diverse as Aristotle, Giordano Bruno, Joseph Peladan and Rudolph Steiner.

He presents the highly practical mental training methods of magic for countering the tyranny of dualistic thinking. Clearly written and accessible, The Blood of the Earth is part of the fusion of deep ecology and deep paganism we continue to champion, and is equally relevant to heathen, druid, magician and witch. By reading this book you will have a far clearer understanding of the unfolding future. More than that, it will give you clear and direct strategies to break free of the mind forg’d manacles.”