Tag Archives: satanism

Omnium Gatherum: June 11th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 11th, 2014

Mihai Mihu Dante's Inferno Lust
Mihai Mihu’s LEGO diorama for “Lust” from Dante's Inferno

 

  • The Householder’s Guide to Form and Deed” — Scott David Finch (author of A Little World Made Cunningly), Spiral Nature

    “After putting myself in too many people’s shoes, and seeing the world through everyone else’s eyes for too long, I start to become a warped and weary alien to myself. I no longer recognize my own face and I need to recharge. This is when I head to my studio to sit.”

  • How to Become a Living Douche! The Impressively Embarrassing Occultism of EA Koetting” — Thad McKraken, disinformation

    “I have to confess that what I’ve found mindblowing about exploring the Occult is that the church has slandered it as being daemon worship, and because of that, a group of gothed out weirdoes have decided that they love the idea worshipping Satan. Even though the Occult doesn’t actually involve that (it’s about mastering your daemons and making contact with your Holy Guardian Angel), they’re just going to make it about that anyway because they’re just…so…hard.”

  • Dreamscripts in the Waking World” — William Kiesel, The Brooklyn Rail

    “One of the signs which has become a trademark of being in a dream is the inability to read the written word or at other times to decipher numbers on a clock face or elsewhere. Such figures most often appear to blur before the eyes. There are times when the oneiric traveller is blest with clarity of vision wherein the characters in the given instance are crystal clear, but such instances are typically rare. It is significant that there is a crossover between the experience of legible and illegible scripts in both the waking and dream worlds.”

    “With the use of oneiric praxis, sigils of the wake world can be brought to the dreamscape, as well as drawing the dream texts upon the waking consciousness. No doubt the viewing of sigillic devices could produce the atmosphere of the dream in the waking consciousness of one unaccustomed to seeing such scripts.”

  • Caveat Lecter” — Houghton Library Blog [HT Harvard Library]

    “Good news for fans of anthropodermic bibliopegy, bibliomaniacs and cannibals alike: tests have revealed that Houghton Library’s copy of Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de l’ame [The destiny of the soul] (FC8.H8177.879dc) is without a doubt bound in human skin.”

  • Earth’s backup: Sending religious texts to the moon” — Paul Marks, NewScientist

    “The first artefacts to shoot for the moon could be three religious and philosophical texts. The Torah on the Moon project, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, has been courting private firms to deliver a handwritten Jewish scroll, the Sefer Torah, to the lunar surface. If they succeed, later flights will carry Hindu scriptures called the Vedas and the ancient Chinese philosophical work, the I-Ching.

    Each document will be housed in a space-ready capsule designed to protect it from harsh radiation and temperature changes on the moon for at least 10,000 years.”

  • The Samuelson Clinic releases “Is it in the Public Domain?” handbook” – UC Berkeley School of Law [HT Boing Boing]

    “These educational tools help users to evaluate the copyright status of a work created in the United States between January 1, 1923 and December 31, 1977—those works that were created before today’s 1976 Copyright Act. Many important works—from archival materials to family photos and movies—were created during this time, and it can be difficult to tell whether they are still under copyright.”

  • Handbook to figure out what’s in the public domain” — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

    “This is probably the most esoteric question that normal people from all walks of life have to answer routinely; the Samuelson Clinic has really done an important public service here.”

  • Book of Soyga or Aldaraia sive Soyga vocor [PDF], edited and translated by Jane Kupin, Twilit Grotto [HT Joseph H Peterson]

    “Here begins the book Aldaraia in accordance with that which our authorities proclaimed to us; they were from God and from the celestial parts and it was revealed to them in the desert about celestial matters.”

  • The Self-Sacrifice of Our Own Individuality” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    “We perform our task correctly only when we don’t force our own mind into every ancient book that falls into our hands; but rather read out of it what is already there.”

  • The Anagogic Role of Sunthemata in the Sacramental Liturgy of Pseudo-Dionysius” — Jeffrey S Kupperman

    “The Neoplatonic writings of the 6th century writer known as pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite have influenced, and continue to influence, Christian theologians and esotericists, amongst others, to this day. Typically, a handful of Dionysius’ topics are discussed: his angelology, his sacramental theology, and his treatment of the divine names are on the top of the list. This paper treats one of these subjects, Dionysian sacraments”

  • Occultic and Masonic Influence in Early Mormonism” — Joel B Groat, Institute for Religious Research

    “The evidence of Joseph Smith’s close connection to occultism and Freemasonry, and how this influenced the origin and development of the LDS Church is not well known outside of scholarly circles. This article summarizes the evidence for Joseph’s personal involvement in both Freemasonry and occultism, and their influence on the Mormon religion.”

  • Christopher Lee makes heavy metal Don Quixote” — BBC News

    “Actor Sir Christopher Lee is marking his 92nd birthday by releasing an album of heavy metal cover versions.

    Two of the songs come from the Don Quixote musical Man of La Mancha, which was a Broadway smash in the 1960s.

    ‘As far as I am concerned, Don Quixote is the most metal fictional character that I know, the Hobbit star said.

    ‘Single handed, he is trying to change the world, regardless of any personal consequences. It is a wonderful character to sing.'”

  • Of course Thelema is satanic” — Thomas Zwollo, Spiral Nature

    “Thelema rejects all these notions that enslave humanity to a deity that would demand certain beliefs and actions and punish those who disobey. Satan represents the rejection of this belief system and the exultation of the individual. Is Satan central to Thelema? No. Is Satan mentioned in Thelema? Yes, frequently.”

  • On the ‘itch’ within the Witch” — Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, The Starry Cave

    “I believe Traditional Witchcraft is a poetic reality humming the nocturnal mysteries of Night. I believe the Witch is concerned with Solace and comfort, the same solace we find resting in the Night. I believe the Witch is a creature tied to the land whose heart is a crossroad where the fire of Need gushes forth from the fountain of the soul like a veiled spring of fiery droplets of gold and silver.”

  • The Rosicrucian Vision” — Christopher McIntosh, New Dawn Magazine

    “The word ‘Rosicrucian’ is one that most readers will have heard many times. Yet if I were to ask for a definition of the word I would probably be given a wide variety of different answers. I might be told that it was something to do with esoteric Christianity, with alchemy, or with Cabala. All of these things are part of the answer, but not the whole answer.

    So what is Rosicrucianism? For the time being let us call it a current of thought and ideas which has been flowing through history for at least three and a half centuries and probably quite a bit longer, sometimes underground, sometimes coming to the surface, but always pushing human beings towards certain goals. I say that we can trace the current back three and a half centuries because that was when it first came to the surface. So let us go back to that moment in history.”

  • Pagan God From Bronze Age Caught By Unsuspecting Fisherman In Siberia” — Yasmine Hafiz, The Huffington Post; from the it-has-the-innsmouth-look dept

    “Nikolay Tarasov was fishing in a river near his home in Tisul, in the Kemerovo region of Siberia, when he caught something unexpected—and very old.”

    “Museum curators dated the figure to over 4,000 years old. Carved in horn which was later fossilized, the Bronze Age figurine shows a pagan god.”

    Pagan God from the Bronze Age caught by fisherman in Siberia

     

  • Circumambulating the Alchemical Mysterium” — Aaron Cheak, Reality Sandwich; an excerpt from Alchemical Traditions: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde

    “Alchemy may be described, in the words of Baudelaire, as a process of ‘distilling the eternal from the transient’. As the art of transmutation par excellence, the classical applications of alchemy have always been twofold: chrysopoeia and apotheosis (gold-making and god-making)—the perfection of metals and mortals. In seeking to turn ‘poison into wine’, alchemy, like tantra, engages material existence—often at its most dissolute or corruptible—in order to transform it into a vehicle of liberation. Like theurgy, it seeks not only personal liberation—the redemption of the soul from the cycles of generation and corruption—but also the liberation (or perfection) of nature herself through participation in the cosmic demiurgy. In its highest sense, therefore, alchemy conforms to what Lurianic kabbalists would call tikkun, the restoration of the world.”

  • Plaidoyer for historical-critical Steiner research. Using the methodological example of Rudolf Steiner as a possible character in the Mysteriendramen.” — David W Wood

    “A main thesis of this paper is that one of the ways for Rudolf Steiner research to become more scientific is to proceed in accordance with a genuine historical and critical methodology. It attempts to show that even though some of Steiner’s chief critics support this method in theory, they often fall short of a historical-critical approach in practice. Using the example of the unresolved problem of whether Steiner could be a character in his own Mysteriendramen, the author provides a number of methodological, historical and biographical indications for approaching this problem. He tries to demonstrate the fruitfulness of this method by addressing the question of Steiner as a drama character from the new perspective of literary pseudonyms. In conclusion, he maintains that a scholarly historical-critical approach to spiritual science was advocated by Steiner himself.”

  • What Happens to the Brain During Spiritual Experiences? The field of neurotheology uses science to try to understand religion, and vice versa.” — Lynne Blumberg, The Atlantic

    “Since everyday and spiritual concerns are variations of the same thinking processes, [Andrew] Newberg thinks it’s essential to examine how people experience spirituality in order to fully understand how their brains work. Looking at the bigger questions has already provided practical applications for improving mental and physical health.”

  • Intolerance and Fanaticism” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti

    “Men find it very hard to apply a little criticism to the sources of their beliefs and the origin of their faith. It is just as well; if we looked too close into first principles, we should never believe at all.”

  • Paradise Found: The ideal(ized) vision of Paul Gauguin.” — Daniel Goodman, The Weekly Standard [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    “Gauguin’s art depicts Tahitians as they are sleeping, worshipping, and engaging in other quotidian activities. But whereas Cheever, Chekhov, Roth, John Updike, and other literary artists used their keen perceptive abilities in the pursuit of sober realism, Gauguin put his artistry to the purpose of imaginative proto-surrealism.

    Gauguin, who rejected European cultural and religious constraints, thought of himself as a savage in the eyes of the civilized world. Oviri (1894, his personal favorite amongst all his sculptures) and many of his other works were regarded as radical for a variety of reasons, not least because they subverted traditional, conventional ideas of feminine beauty.”

  • We need to talk about misogyny and sexism” — Psyche, Spiral Nature

    “Equality. That’s the secret agenda, folks. Feminism isn’t about women first, it’s about women too.”

  • Congo: A Group of Chimpanzees Seem to Have Mastered Fire” — World News Daily Report; from the fake-news-but-wouldn’t-it-be-wild-if dept.

    “It is however, the first time that a group of these primates develops some technical concepts as elaborate as these on their own. A few individual apes seem to have originally developed a rudimentary technique of rather poor efficiency, but the group gradually improved it through experimentation and observation over the last few months. They are now able to create and maintain a fire, which they have been using mostly to scare off predators and cook some of their food.”

  • On the Seventh Day, We Unplug: How and Why to Take a Tech Sabbath” — Brett & Katie McKay, The Art of Manliness

    “Taking a weekly Tech Sabbath allows us to step off this wheel of endless sameness. It’s a ritual that pushes us out of the norm, to pursue different activities, and use different parts of our brains. In so doing, it refreshes and rejuvenates our minds and spirit. It provides the motivation to unhook our wired craniums from the matrix of cyberspace and explore the pleasures of the real world.”

  • Kircher & Schott’s Computer Music of the Baroque” — Phil Legard, Larkfall

    “Here is a piece of music, which was composed with a sort of 17th century computer called the Organum Mathematicum, devised by Athanasius Kircher and fully described by his pupil and assistant Gaspar Schott”

     

  • Mihai’s Inferno: The 9 circles of Hell made in Lego” — The Brothers Brick [See also Boing Boing, MOCPages]

    “Mihai Mihu completed a series of creations depicting the 9 circles of Hell. While staying true to the theme of poetic justice served to the sinners, Mihai portrays the punishments through his own interpretations. The recurring architectural elements and portrayal of the sinners tie the scenes together in a way that’s easy for the viewer to transition through. In this short interview, the builder talks about his project and the individual circles of Hell.”

    Mihai Mihu Dante's Inferno

     

  • Techne: The State of the Art” — Damien Wolven [HT Joshua Madara]

    “If we really think that whatever kind of mind we generate from these efforts is going to be anything like us, then we’re probably in for a big surprise. We have to be prepared for—as opposed to scared about—the possibility that any machine intelligence will have vastly different concerns from us. “Occult Wisdom” means knowledge hidden from those who don’t know how to look for it and, without an understanding of how these new minds will experience our world, humanity will never know everything we might.

    As I’ve explored these ideas, over the years, I’ve found that the most valuable approaches have often come from the intersections that others might overlook. The intersection that’s been most useful to me is at the center of weird science, philosophy, religious studies, pop-culture, and magic. I’ve written articles, taught classes, and organized conferences arguing that “The Magical” is one of the most useful-but-underused tools we have for rethinking and understanding these ideas.”

  • The Flaw Lurking In Every Deep Neural Net” — mikejuk, Slashdot

    “If a deep neural network is biologically inspired we can ask the question, does the same result apply to biological networks? Put more bluntly, ‘Does the human brain have similar built-in errors?’ If it doesn’t, how is it so different from the neural networks that are trying to mimic it?”

  • We Aren’t the World” — Ethan Waters, Pacific Standard [HT Eleanor Saitta]

    “The potential implications of the unexpected results were quickly apparent to Henrich. He knew that a vast amount of scholarly literature in the social sciences—particularly in economics and psychology—relied on the ultimatum game and similar experiments. At the heart of most of that research was the implicit assumption that the results revealed evolved psychological traits common to all humans, never mind that the test subjects were nearly always from the industrialized West. Henrich realized that if the Machiguenga results stood up, and if similar differences could be measured across other populations, this assumption of universality would have to be challenged.

    Henrich had thought he would be adding a small branch to an established tree of knowledge. It turned out he was sawing at the very trunk. He began to wonder: What other certainties about “human nature” in social science research would need to be reconsidered when tested across diverse populations?”

 

If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.

Events at Treadwell’s through June, 2014

Here is a selection from the upcoming events at Treadwell’s Books in London for through June, 2014, which may be of interest.

Treadwell's Books in London

 

Surrealism, Satanism and Witchcraft
16 May 2014
Dan Zamani

Dan Zamani Surrealism Satanism Witchcraft at Treadwells

Surrealism celebrated Satan and the witch as powerful agents of social rebellion, and tonight’s speaker argues their inspiration came from Jules Michelet’s 1862 book La Sorciere, which was violently anti-Catholic as well as shockingly erotic. Some women Surrealists confidently cast themselves as witches, and the talk looks at three of them: Dorothea Tanning, Leonor Fini and Leonora Carrington. Dan Zamani is completing his PhD in art history at Cambridge; he returns to Treadwells by popular demand.

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

 

Crowley’s Liber Nu
23 May 2014
Bob Stein

Bob Stein Aleister Crowley Liber Nu at Treadwell's Books

Tonight a longstanding magical practitioner of Thelemic magic examines one of Crowley’s most magnificent ritual texts, Liber Nu (‘The Book of Nuit’, a rite for attainment of the Goddess Nuit) and relates the extraordinary experience of preparing and then performing the rite at Gosse’s Bluff in Central Australia. He goes on to interpret Liber Nu as Crowley’s “how to write and do a high magic ritual.” Bob Stein has been a member of O.T.O. since 1983 and has been involved with the organisation since then in a range of capacities.

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

 

Abraxas 5 Launch Party
30 May 2014

Abraxas issue 5 from Fulgur Esoterica UK

Please join us for to celebrate Issue Five of Abraxas, the journal of esoteric studies issued jointly by Fulgur Ltd and Treadwell’s. We will have fascinating people, art, poetry and short talks. This issue has contributors worldwide on surreailsm, the Fellowship of Isis, Platonism, spirit-summoning, David Blank of the famed Oracle Magazine, an occult manuscript, Peladan, Bertiaux, and the wonderful ancient gods Antinous and Glykon.

Free, but please RSVP to info@treadwells-london.com
Time: 7pm to 9:30pm. Short talks at 7:45pm

 

Elias Ashmole: London’s Forgotten Adept
2 June 2014
Ruth Clydesdale

Ruth Clydesdale Elias Ashmole at Treadwell's Books

Elias Ashmole (1617–1692) is famed for founding the first public museum, the Ashmolean, a fact that overshadowed his importance in the history of occultism. He was the astrological advisor to Charles II, an early freemason, an alchemical secret-holder. He collected rare esotericism texts and even saved a fellow astrologer from the gallows. Tonight revives him from obscurity, celebrating his secret life. Ruth Clydesdale is a writer and astrologer with interest in the history of astrology and its links to magic, alchemy and art.

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

 

Walking Tour: Occult London
7 June 2014 (and again on July 5th)
Delienne Forget

Delianne Forget Occult London through Treadwell's Books

London’s secret occult history comes alive as you traipse the cobblestone streets of the West End, and you learn the secrets behind some of the area’s past magicians, witches and sorcerers: some famous, some infamous. Delianne Forget is a London registered Blue Badge Guide with a solid grounding in London history. A white witch herself, she also knows her cauldron potions from her good-luck charms. These tours return after a two year hiatus, due to popular demand.

Price: £10
Time: 2pm to 5pm, starting at a central London tube station. Look for the lady in the witch hat.

 

Aleister Crowley on Rock’n’Roll
19 June 2014

Gary Lachman Aleister Crowley from Tarcher / Penguin at Treadwell's Books

Join us for a summer party to celebrate the launch of Gary Lachman’s new book: Aleister Crowley’s influence on rock-and-roll giants from the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, to Black Sabbath and Blondie, of which Lachman was a founding member. Gary will give an informal talk for about 20 minutes at about 7:45, and as ever we give most of the evening over to socialising, book-signing and gentle revelry. Please join us.

Free, but please RSVP to info@treadwells-london.com
Time: Come anytime 7pm – 9:30pm. Short talk at 7:45.

 

Love Magic in Seventeenth-century England
20 June 2014
Alexander Cummins

Alexander Cummins Love Magic at Treadwell's Books

This talk explores the occult theories and magical practices which grasped both the divinity and madness of love. Al Cummins takes us into the world of elemental humours, psychological notions of the passions, and the spiritual and physical mysteries of the heart. We will delve into the love magicians’ toolkit, examining means of seduction: from aphrodisiac herbs to conjuring matchmaking spirits … and onto bindings, leashes, and “erotic malefic” workings. A vibrant speaker, Alexander Cummins recently completed his PhD from Bristol: he is an historian of early modern magic, astrology and the passion. He is also a professional poet.

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

 

And, Treadwell’s comes to New York!

New York City — The Night of the Witch
25 June 2014

Night of the Witch in New York from Treadwell's Books

Two illustrated lectures on witchcraft in a vibrant double-bill. Witch Pictures — Pam Grossman and British Witchcraft — Christina Oakley Harrington.

Witch Pictures — Pam Grossman

The witch burst into Western art in the late 15th century and never left: the likes of Durer, Fuseli, Goya, and Blake used the image of magical women to titillate their patrons or reflect their own anxieties — with results both grotesque and beguiling. Then in the 19th century women took up the brush to create works inspired by personal occult experiences, reclaiming the witch, and we see a female ‘witchcraft’ in action in Abstraction, Surrealism, Modernism, making a corner of art history where craft and Craft are one and the same.

British Witchcraft — the Fifties to the Seventies — Christina Oakley Harrington

British Witchraft revived in the 1950s and 1960s. To the horror and fascination of the English press and public, some of these witches gave interviews and even allowed secret rites to be photographed. They wanted the world to know a non-Christian basis of ethics, a radical concept of the sacred, and the power of altered states of consciousness. Both tradition-based and forward-thinking, they were paradoxical yet compelling. Tonight’s speaker comes from the UK Wiccan community, and brings these characters to life and shares insights into their vision of the Craft.

Pam Grossman is the Brooklyn-based guiding spirit of Phantasmaphile, and was co-host of the 2013 Occult Humanities Conference at NYU. Christina Oakley Harrington is founder of London’s famed Treadwells Bookshop and a former academic; she also co-edits Abraxas Journal and gives occasional lectures.

Venue: New York City’s META Center, 214 W 29th Street. The talks will be followed by an informal social at a nearby restaurant: all are invited.
Tickets through Brown Paper Tickets
Time: 7pm – 9pm

 

Omnium Gatherum: May 14th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 14th, 2014

The Magician from The Disney-D'Morte Tarot
The Magician, The Disney-D’Morte Tarot [HT Boing Boing]

 

  • Review: ‘Aleister Crowley’ explores the life and times of the notorious icon ” — Brooke Wylie, Examiner.com

    “Detractors of rock n’ roll have long called the genre, the ‘Devil’s music,’ so in some ways, it’s all too natural that Gary Lachman (known by his stage name Gary Valentine, to some), who is a founding member of Blondie, and has shredded with Iggy Pop, should eventually become an expert on mysticism and the occult. His latest work, Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World (available May 15) tackles not only the life and times of the illustrious figure, known by many as The Great Beast, but also the collision of Crowley’s legacy with popular culture.”

    The review includes this apropos and awesome typo (emphasis added): “Crowley’s word is a strange one indeed, and wrapping one’s mind around it can be a substantial challenge at times.”

     

  • Was Jesus a Magician?” — Helen Ingram

    “One of these lectures introduced me to the character of ‘Jesus the magician’ and the work of Prof. Morton Smith, who claimed that Jesus’ conduct within the Gospel material constituted a ‘coherent, consistent and credible picture of a magician’s career.’ The theory that the historical Jesus was actively practicing magic and that this behaviour is reflected in the Gospel materials was a very intriguing proposal and immediately stimulated a personal interest in this field of research. This curiosity culminated in the submission and acceptance of my PhD thesis …”

  • SATANIC BLACK MASS AT HARVARD, SATANIC MONUMENT IN OKLAHOMA” — Paul McGuire, NewsWithViews.com; from the RTFM dept.

    “But the software of God, which is the downloading of cosmic apps, should be understood as nothing more than a contemporary parable to explain in understandable terms the gifts and abilities that the Living God gives people on a natural and supernatural level, the gifts of the Spirit. Tragically, most of the modern Pentecostal and Charismatic movements which emphasized these gifts did so in a very distorted and degraded manner, so that these terms have become synonymous with hyper-emotionalism, crazy behavior and aberrant behavior. This is a degradation and improper use of both the software and the apps. They did not read the basic operating instructions provided in the manual.”

  • The Colbert Report on the Oklahoma Baphomet monument, including a call-in by Satan, Lord of Hell, himself [HT The Lost Ogle]

     

  • Real Satanists Don’t Send Press Releases” — Thomas L McDonald, God and the Machine

    “The modern so-called Satanists who make all the noise are not really Satanists. They don’t actually believe in Satan. Most are atheists who couch their so-called ‘Satanism’ in terms of resistance or philosophy. It’s not a religion, but a critique of religion, or somesuch blather. It’s all theater.”

    “The black mass emerged again in the 19th century in the salons, universities, and intellectual circles of Europe, which was the wellspring of modern occultism. Lacking much primary documentation, the upper classes mostly invented their version of a black mass influenced by literature and structured around a simple inversion of the Catholic mass. No real tradition directly linking medieval diabolism to modern so-called Satanism exists, which means horror movies, fiction, and imagination are at the root of most modern practice.”

  • God is dead—What next? Searching for meaning in the age of atheism” — Alasdair Craig, Prospect [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    “[Peter] Watson is more optimistic about the possibility of an emotionally satisfying atheism. His proposal is that we use art and literature to comprehend and re-enchant the world that science has made foreign. Science is one way of understanding the world; art and literature another, he seems to say. Science provides technology, medicine and abstract knowledge; art provides meaning, purpose and a different, more intimate and immediately relevant kind of knowledge. God’s death just means that we need to construct our own, non-authoritative narratives and art, replete with purpose and meaning. Instead of one unified story to which everyone subscribes, we should play around with a plurality of downgraded stories, which can form the basis of our day-to-day lives.”

     

  • Ancient Egyptians transported pyramid stones over wet sand” — Ans Hekkenberg, Phys.org

    “Physicists from the FOM Foundation and the University of Amsterdam have discovered that the ancient Egyptians used a clever trick to make it easier to transport heavy pyramid stones by sledge. The Egyptians moistened the sand over which the sledge moved. By using the right quantity of water they could halve the number of workers needed. The researchers published this discovery online on 29 April 2014 in Physical Review Letters.”

    “The Egyptians were probably aware of this handy trick. A wall painting in the tomb of Djehutihotep clearly shows a person standing on the front of the pulled sledge and pouring water over the sand just in front of it.”

  • Review: Limp Renaissance sex romp a poor Carry On indeed” — Rebecca Harkins-Cross, Brisbane Times

    Elixir is based on the escapades of Edward Kelley and John Dee, a famed occultist duo in Renaissance England who professed the ability to summon angels and to conduct alchemy. […] [Edward Kelley (Christy Hawkins)] concocts a cunning plan to unlock his colleague’s wife Jane’s (Naomi Takita) chastity belt and pacify the emperor simultaneously, convincing Doctor Dee (Stephen Weir) the elixir should be made from wizard seed and a cuckold’s tears.”

  • Scientists Confirm Vampires Were Onto Something” — Maxwell Barna, VICE News

    “New research published this week by two teams of scientists confirmed what Bram Stoker and countless philosophers, scientists, and cannibals have long posited — there’s an indisputable relationship between blood and aging.”

    “‘When we added young blood, the older mice not only looked better, but they became cognitively better,’ Saul Villeda, the principal investigator at UCSF’s Villeda Lab, told VICE News. ‘It’s like we can turn back the clock on some parts of aging.'”

  • Footage of Orson Welles’s ‘Voodoo’ Macbeth” — National Film Preservation Foundation

    “It had long been assumed that no sound or moving images survived from Orson Welles’s legendary ‘Voodoo Macbeth,’ the Federal Theatre Project’s 1936 Harlem stage production of Shakespeare’s play, set in Haiti with an African American cast. But priceless historical footage can turn up within unlikely places. This long-forgotten record of the first professional play staged by Orson Welles was found in another film, the U.S. government-produced We Work Again, a Depression-era documentary on African American employment.”

  • Stonehenge Discovery ‘Blows Lid Off’ Old Theories About Builders Of Ancient Monument” — Macrina Cooper-White, Huffpost Science

    “Last October, [David] Jacques led an archaeological dig at a site 1.5 miles from Stonehenge. His team unearthed flint tools and the bones of aurochs, extinct cow-like animals that were a food source for ancient people. Carbon dating of the bones showed that modern-day Amesbury, an area that includes the dig site and Stonehenge itself, has been continuously occupied since 8820 B.C. Amesbury has now been declared the oldest continually occupied area in Britain.

    The finding suggests that Stonehenge was built by indigenous Britons who had lived in the area for thousands of years. Previous theories held that the monument was built in an empty landscape by migrants from continental Europe.”

  • Ancient Desert Glyphs Pointed Way to Fairgrounds” — Sean Treacy, Science

    “Seen from above, the jagged rocks strewn about the Chincha Valley desert in Peru seem inconspicuous. But stand in the desert itself and these rocks form lines that stretch toward the horizon. Researchers have found that these lines were probably ancient signposts for the Paracas culture more than 2000 years ago, guiding people across the desert to gathering places for the winter solstice.”

  • Astronomers Identify the Sun’s Long-Lost Sister” — Becky Ferreira, Motherboard [HT Slashdot]

    “HD 162826 is 15 percent more massive than our Sun, and is about 110 light years away in the constellation Hercules. It’s not visible to the naked eye, but it is bright enough to be seen through binoculars.

    Astronomers had been observing the star for almost two decades without realizing it’s the long-lost sister of the Sun.”

  • LGBTQ Tolerance in the Golden Dawn” — Alex Sumner, Sol Ascendans

    “Say what you like about MacGregor Mathers, but on one point he was resolute: he would not brook gossip about Fratres’ and Sorores’ lives — this being a matter purely between themselves and their God. […] Mathers’ firm stand has led to a progressive consequence: the Golden Dawn was the first magical order to adopt a modern approach to tolerance. However, the Western Mystery Tradition was almost derailed by the efforts of Dion Fortune.”

  • Aleister Crowley, aliens, owls and Jesus” — Mike Clelland, hidden experience

    “Little is known of the origin of the big headed entity known as Lam. All that can be known for sure is that this image was drawn by Aleister Crowley to depict a being that was summoned during a magickal ritual titled The Amalantrah Working. This sketch later hung on a gallery wall at Crowley’s Dead Souls exhibition in Greenwich Village, New York, in 1919.”

    “Things get weirder, when the image is reversed, an image of an owl emerges! Granted, I’m seeing owls everywhere I look these days, but still.

    Also, the name Crowley has OWL embedded right in it.”

  • Black magician Aleister Crowley’s early gay verse comes to light: Notebook of poems written by heartbroken occultist in 1898 to be exhibited at antiquarian book fair in London” — Maev Kennedy, The Guardian

    “In 1898 the Wickedest Man in the World was feeling thoroughly sorry for himself. The occultist Aleister Crowley’s first great love affair, with fellow Cambridge undergraduate Herbert Jerome Pollitt, was in ruins, and he took to poetry as his only solace.

    ‘When my sick body in his love lies drowned/ And he lies corpse-wise on me, nor will rise/ Though my breath shudders, and my soul be dead,’ he wrote — and much, much more — in a tiny notebook of unpublished manuscript poems which has recently resurfaced.

    The actor and rare book dealer Neil Pearson, who will exhibit the little book at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London later this month, concedes that this is not great poetry. ‘The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanise him — and God knows Aleister Crowley, more than most people, needs humanising.'”

  • Critical Thinking #5: Marina Warner: The critic and mythographer on fairytales, feminism, modern art, translation and the LRB” — Zeljka Marosevic, Prospect [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; this seems quite an interesting interview, but here’s a few excerpts that caught my eye

    “It’s often encountering the faith of others that I’ve found most disturbing. I don’t wish to scorn faith as it’s a universal part of human consciousness. But as such, it’s a deep puzzle, and I’m interested in its effects and manifestations. I worry about the effects of it, especially in our increasingly conflicted religious world.”

    “Grappling with myths has been my principal interest for years, even to a certain extent, my cause: to put the study of imaginative structures back into the frame when confronting important issues. Not to think of imagination and fantasy as merely childish, or to dismiss them as having no purchase on reality.”

    “Myth and fairy tale have definitely returned. First of all there’s a generation who have grown up on Dungeons and Dragons, Tolkien and Narnia, and now, Philip Pullman and Harry Potter. I haven’t read the Twilight stories so I probably shouldn’t talk about them, but I have watched one of the films, and it seems to me that it’s an example of the problem of attenuation: instead of getting richer, these stories are being told in a less rich way, and the vampires are being tamed!”

  • ‘I gather the limbs of Osiris’: Notes on the New Gnosticism” — Henry Gould, Coldfront

    “One way to think of the New Gnosticism, then, might be as the overturning of an analytical negation (Language Poetry). It includes, also, a reversal of the ‘old’ Gnosticism: which was itself a sort of skeptical deconstruction of canonical Biblical texts.”

    “The infinite starry realm of scribbling, scrambling poets every now and then produces a new galaxy, that is, a new movement or school. These emergent phenomena always generate a contradictory mix of enthusiasm and doubt.”

  • Do What Thou Wilt” — Brandy Williams, Star and Snake

    “The Law applies equally for everyone; each person, each creature, has their own will to do. It’s not my business to figure anyone else’s will out for them.”

  • Exploring Thelema and Chaos Magick, with Pete and Sef (Part 4)” — The Blog of Baphomet

    “‘Pure Will’ ‘unassuaged of purpose’ sounds like it can mean anything, everything, or nothing. I consider that people consist of the totality of what they do (which of course includes what they think). The idea of their having some sort of ‘being’ separate from their doing, or for that matter some sort of ‘will’ other than their total doing seems superfluous to me. I can however appreciate the idea that doing some things may tend to give better results than doing others, and to this extent I can understand ‘Do What thou Wilt’ as an exhortation to do the very best of what you can possibly do and love to do, as so many people settle for mediocrity and lousy compromises.”

  • Caesar by Plutarch and more, quoted at “Caesar’s reform of the calendar — some ancient sources” — Roger Pearse [HT Rogueclassicism]

    “2. For not only in very ancient times was the relation of the lunar to the solar year in great confusion among the Romans, so that the sacrificial feasts and festivals, diverging gradually, at last fell in opposite seasons of the year, 3. but also at this time people generally had no way of computing the actual solar year; the priests alone knew the proper time, and would suddenly and to everybody’s surprise insert the intercalary month called Mercedonius.”

    “5. But Caesar laid the problem before the best philosophers and mathematicians, and out of the methods of correction which were already at hand compounded one of his own which was more accurate than any. This the Romans use down to the present time, and are thought to be less in error than other peoples as regards the inequality between the lunar and solar years.

    6. However, even this furnished occasion for blame to those who envied Caesar and disliked his power. At any rate, Cicero the orator, we are told, when some one remarked that Lyra would rise on the morrow, said: ‘Yes, by decree,’ implying that men were compelled to accept even this dispensation.”

  • Phantom Time” — Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know from How Stuff Works [HT Wythe Marschall]

    “A few fringe professors have caused rumblings with their controversial claim that three hundred years of human history have been entirely made up.”

     

  • First life with ‘alien’ DNA: An engineered bacterium is able to copy DNA that contains unnatural genetic letters.” — Ewen Callaway, Nature News; from the either-way-more-boring-or-way-more-scary-than-it-sounds dept.

    “For billions of years, the history of life has been written with just four letters — A, T, C and G, the labels given to the DNA subunits contained in all organisms. That alphabet has just grown longer, researchers announce, with the creation of a living cell that has two ‘foreign’ DNA building blocks in its genome.”

    “‘What we have now is a living cell that literally stores increased genetic information,’ says Floyd Romesberg, a chemical biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who led the 15-year effort.”

  • Gay Witches” — Masha Mel, VICE; a photo gallery

    Masha Mel Gay Witches at VICE

     

  • Article about EyeWire at “Computer Game Reveals ‘Space-Time’ Neurons in the Eye” — John Bohannon, Science

    “Researchers have known for decades that the eye does much more than just detect light. The dense patch of neurons in the retina also processes basic features of a scene before sending the information to the brain. For example, in 1964, scientists showed that some neurons in the retina fire up only in response to motion. What’s more, these “space-time” detectors have so-called direction selectivity, each one sensitive to objects moving in different directions. But exactly how that processing happens in the retina has remained a mystery. […] Enter the EyeWire project, an online game that recruits volunteers to map out those cellular contours within a mouse’s retina.”

  • Katherine Harmon Courage on independently thinking octopus arms and the awful Evil Dead-like tragedy of octopus boredom

    “The octopus’s nervous system is a fascinating one. Some two thirds of its neurons reside not in its central brain but out in its flexible, stretchable arms. This, researchers suspect, lightens the cognitive coordination demands and allows octopuses to let their arms do some of the ‘thinking’—or at least the coordination, problem-solving and reaction—on their own.

    And these arms can continue reacting to stimuli even after they are no longer connected to the main brain; in fact, they remain responsive even after the octopus has been euthanized and the arms severed.” [via]

    “Octopuses are so smart they get bored. Aquarium staff have learned to be wary of a bored octopus because they’ve been known to break the monotony by eating their own arms. That tends to scare the kids.” [via]

     

  • The Art World is Too Safe Now: H.R. Giger has Died” — Glendon Mellow, Scientific American

    “The art world has become safer, less dangerous and less disturbing than it ought to be today. The giant in the night, H.R. Giger, has died, it is being reported. […] Giger is dead. His shadow remains cast over our future. The shadow moves.”

  • L. Rock Hubbard: Revisiting the curious career of the ultimate cult musician.” — Nathan Rabin, Slate Culturebox

    “Hubbard’s sonic space opera is, as you might imagine, a staggeringly strange piece of work, a bewildering cross between Queen’s Flash Gordon soundtrack (whose hero is referenced in the shameless opening track ‘Golden Age of Sci-Fi,’ along with Superman and Buck Rogers), an amateur radio play, and a campy audiobook that goes overboard with special effects and musical cues. If you have not recently read all 1,050 pages of Battlefield Earth or seen the film, the album is completely incomprehensible; if you’re familiar with the story, it’s mildly comprehensible.”

Sorcerers of Sodom

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Sorcerers of Sodom by Roger Elwood.

Roger Elwood Sorcerers of Sodom

The publisher’s blurb claims that this novel “graphically portrays how Satanism has infiltrated our culture through music, medicine, education, the media, and in many more subtle ways.” While the story clearly contains no objective facts regarding the Satanic conspiracy it alleges to dramatize, it does form an interesting case study in psychosocial projection. The Satanists are portrayed as focusing their efforts on raising a generation of indoctrinated drones, recruiting them from
· children whom their parents wanted to abort,
· Satanically-dominated day care centers, and
· Satanic infiltration of public schools.

I have yet to see any evidence of Satanism on those three fronts, but it does not escape my notice that evangelical Christians are perennially interested in those venues for the indoctrination of children with the worship of their Jehovah-Jesus caricatures.

Similarly, the Satanically-inspired New Age movement is supposed to be based on promises of “rebirth without a great deal of anxiety”—which is exactly how the individuals “saved” in the novel experience their conversions to Christianity. Oh, there’s anxiety about the Satanic hordes of course, but not about Jesus! Just desperate contempt transformed to insipid reverence.

Temple of Set founder Michael Aquino is an offstage presence in the narrative, invoked as “Martin Andreno…the top Satanist in the nation.” And the author, writing in 1991 e.v., assures the reader through the voice of a repentant New Age guru, “By the year 2000, they will have everyone who hasn’t become a Satanist living in moment-by-moment fear of their lives.”

Predictably, the Christian heroes of the text are given plenty of opportunity to express their abhorrence of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. In an unexpected piece of dialogue, the protagonist and an arch-Satanist discuss atheism, with the pastor-hero defending the moral sensibility of atheists, and the Satanist deriding them for “having no belief at all.” Author Elwood seems to have misplaced his Christian evangelical script, in which atheists are tools of Satan.

Bewildering indeed is the novel’s climax, in which a Native American, recently converted to Christianity and armed with a bow and arrow(!), serves as emergency reinforcements for the hero, in a pyrrhic attempt to rescue the Indian’s own son from crucifixion by Satanists.

Observing the commercial success of the Left Behind novels, I can only hope that the last two decades have seen improvements in the standard for pop-Christian evangelical paranoid fantasy stories. [via]


The Hell-Fire Clubs

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Hellfire Clubs: Sex, Satanism and Secret Societies by Evelyn Lord.

Evelyn Lord The Hell-Fire Clubs

I thought I was sure to love this book, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. The title offers “hell-fire clubs” as an organizational genre, but the study never does a very good job of delimiting what they were. Author Lord basically seems willing to give consideration to any membership society that fostered street violence, blasphemy, or clandestine sex, within the historical span of her study, which covers the entire 17th through 18th centuries, in the Anglophone world generally. She repeatedly invokes a hypothesis regarding “outlets for masculine energy” as though it were self-explanatory and evidently credible.

On p. 94, she writes: “The reason for painting Dashwood as a friar will never be known….” It seems to me rather that there are a variety of perfectly obvious motives: the pun on his given name, the reputation of friars for sexual misconduct, Dashwood’s role as the founding “Saint” of the Medmenham “Order,” and so on. She often seems to pose as a skeptic when she’s merely suffering from a lack of contextual information or insight. In general, I found her treatment of the Medmenham Friars—a necessary central feature of any book on this topic—to be less thorough and less perceptive than that of Geoffery Ashe, whose work she often cites.

She mentions Freemasonry in passing a few times, suggesting that one or another of the clubs that serve as the object of her study were aping or mocking it; but if she actually knows anything about the workings of Masonry, she doesn’t bother to explain how or why this verdict would be of interest.

The prose style is pleasant enough, and the photographic plates are excellent. The book is shorter than it seems: its 214 pages are in a generous font on heavy stock. A real strength of the book is the chapter on Scottish hell-fire groups, focused on the sex society of the Beggar’s Benison. The ending is abrupt and rather inconclusive. All in all, it’s not a waste of time for anyone genuinely interested in the topic, but it’s far from everything I’d hoped it would be. [via]


Satanism and Witchcraft

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Satanism and Witchcraft: The Classic Study of Medieval Superstition by Jules Michelet.

Jules Michelet Satanism and Witchcraft

Michelet provided a seminal treatment of witchcraft, influential on readers such as Gerald Gardner who went on to organize neo-pagan religion and influence modern ideas of occultism. In Michelet’s view, medieval witches were adherents of indigenous, pre-Christian religion, and they expressed popular resistance against the oppressions of church and state. Heretics, witches and satanists all reflect a measure of virtuous anti-authoritarianism, containing the seeds of rational enlightenment.

Although Michelet was a credentialed historian capable of meticulous research, his Satanism and Witchcraft was written in broad, romanticizing strokes for a popular audience. Thus it is highly readable, but not all that reliable in its details as a work of positive history. It found its market well enough, and it has stayed perpetually in print. [via]

Omnium Gatherum: Feb 26th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together …

The "Apollo" of Gaza on a Smurf blanket
The “Apollo” of Gaza on a Smurf blanket [via, also]

 

  • Denmark starts meaty argument over animal slaughter” — Leo Benedictus, The Guardian UK’s Shortcuts Blog; from the we’ll-meet-the-meat dept.

    “In most European countries, including the UK, the slaughter of an animal is considered humane only if it is stunned before having its throat cut. Muslim and Jewish rules, however, require an animal to be fully alive, healthy, and intact before being killed, and this is often interpreted to mean it must be conscious. Many Muslims and Jews insist the swift technique of ritual slaughter prevents the animal from suffering. But animal welfare activists and their supporters beg to differ. … This is far from the first flare-up over ritual slaughter.”

  • Hermetic Library fellow Sam Webster quoted by The Wild Hunt, via tweet [also]; from the party-foul dept.

    “A libation without a prayer is just a spilled drink.”

  • Crystal Blanton quoted by The Wild Hunt, via tweet; from the inconvenient-truth dept.

    “We sacrifice humans every day.”

  • Will Arizona Go the Anti-Gay Way of Uganda?” — Jay Michaelson, The Jewish Daily Forward; from the freedom-fries dept.

    “‘Religious Freedom’ used to be a shield, not a sword.”

  • The ‘Religious Liberty’ Campaign May Be Backfiring For Conservatives” — Ed Kilgore, Talking Points Memo’s Cafe; from the spare-tire-and-a-muffin-top-to-go dept.

    “On many fronts in the culture wars, the momentum has usually been possessed by those who can best identify themselves with the ambivalent attitudes of a mushy middle ‘swing vote'”

  • Lawsuit: Calif. Christian missions tortured mentally disabled with Bible ‘punishments’” — David Edwards, Raw Story; from the agape-has-left-the-building dept.

    “Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has filed a lawsuit against two unlicensed Christian mission homes for effectively torturing mentally disabled people if they refused to attend religious services, and forcing them to live in filthy conditions.”

  • “Zambia: Why Homosexuality Should Not Be Legalised in Zambia (part 4)” [no link because it’s heinous] — Charles Kachikoti, Times of Zambia via allAfrica.com; from the what-is-this-i-don’t-even dept.

    “[Reason #]17. Law and Order
    The mentality of homosexuals is anti-family and anti-marriage, which mindset is opposed to law and order.
    Aleister Crowley (October 12, 1875 — December 1, 1947), the father of modern day Satanism, who massively promoted Satan-worship internationally, and notably so among world music stars, spoke against family and promoted homosexuality.
    The mentality of his followers is therefore anti-family and anti-marriage.”

  • Witch hunting | Victims of superstition” — Ashwaq Masoodi, Livemint.com; from the she’s-got-huge-tracts-of-land dept.

    “These are women who are unsupported, either because they are single or widows. It is primarily connected to land. It happens with women who are economically well-off or self-sustaining.”

  • The Last of Us” — Frank Swain, Futures Exchange; so-logically-if-she-weighs-the-same-as-a-duck-she’s-made-of-wood dept.

    “They kept the [last Great Auk] tied up for three days until an ominous storm arose. Believing the bird was a witch responsible for their predicament, the men clubbed it to death.”

  • How Belief In Hell Directly Benefits The Elite — Matt Staggs, Disinformation; from the but-thinking-makes-it-so dept.

    “Just thinking about Hell makes people ill and out of sorts, and they don’t even have to think that it’s real. It’s worse for the true believers: Individual belief in what the researchers referred to as ‘supernatural malevolence’ (Coming soon to pay-per-view!) was associated with bad coping skills, low self-esteem and poor health resiliency.”

    “Hell isn’t just a religious idea, it’s a meme; an especially toxic one that we might be primed to believe in from birth — especially if you believe those studies that suggest we’re hardwired to believe in god. Hell is such a virulent, deadly little mind-virus that even secular minds have trouble fighting it off. And it seems that there’s a vested interest in keeping it strong.”

  • The Race to Save Mali’s Priceless Artifacts — Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian Magazine; from the operation-serapeion dept.

    “When jihadists overran Timbuktu last year, residents mounted a secret operation to evacuate the town’s irreplaceable medieval manuscripts.”

  • The Helgo Treasure: A Viking Age Buddha” — IrishArchaeology.ie; from the a-buddhist-a-copt-and-a-catholic-walk-into-a-viking-bar dept.

    Helgo treasure Viking age Buddha

    “Undoubtedly the most extraordinary find discovered during the excavations at Helgo was a small, bronze Buddha. This devotional figure dates from circa the 6th century AD … probably arrived in Helgo via Swedish merchants whose eastern trade routes were concentrated along Russian rivers such as the Volga.”

    “The Helgo crozier is probably of Irish origin and would have formed part of a bishop’s staff. Dating from circa the 8th century AD, it was most likely stolen during a Viking raid on Ireland and brought back to Helgo as booty.”

    “… a bronze ladle whose origins lie in North Africa, probably in the vicinity of modern-day Egypt. Decorated in small punch-marks, which define a Tree-of-Life symbol, the ladle was most likely used in ceremonies associated with the early Coptic church.”

  • When the Old Gods Died: A Note on Ragnarok and Evaporating Histories” — Jeremy D Johnson, Reality Sandwich; from the a-new-heaven-and-a-new-earth dept.

    “Yes, let’s build that Earth. Cast out the old gods and apocalyptic imaginaries as we work to build a new Earth, so desperately and agonizingly waiting, not for the passive, but for those ready to be born.”

  • New documents prove U.S. Army actively targeted leftist protesters, group says” — Scott Kaufman, Raw Story; from the every-breath-you-take dept.

    “New records obtained by the Defending Dissent Foundation prove that the United States Army used a multi-agency spy network to gather intelligence on nonviolent, antiwar protesters and to disseminate their findings to both the FBI and local police departments.”

  • How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations” — Glenn Greewald, The Intercept; from the secret-agent-johannes-dee-007 dept.

    “Using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world”

  • Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters” — Marc A Smith et al., Pew Research Internet Project; from the a-place-for-everything-everything-in-its-place dept.

    “Conversations on Twitter create networks with identifiable contours as people reply to and mention one another in their tweets. These conversational structures differ, depending on the subject and the people driving the conversation. Six structures are regularly observed: divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, and inward and outward hub and spoke structures. These are created as individuals choose whom to reply to or mention in their Twitter messages and the structures tell a story about the nature of the conversation.”

  • Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories” — David Comberg; from the e-stands-for-electricity dept;

  • The Shapes of Stories, a Kurt Vonnegut Infographic” — Maya Eilam; in-hoc-figura-vinces dept.

    The Shapes of Stories by Kurt Vonnegut by Maya Eilam

  • Atlas of Management Thinking by Edward de Bono, described on the Edward de Bono website; in the can-you-draw-me-a-picture dept.

    “Verbal descriptions of complex management situations are necessarily lodged in the left side of the brain. In order for us to be able to use the right side of the brain we need a repertoire of non-verbal images. That is precisely what this book sets out to provide. The images provided by drawings in this book enrich the perceptual map of the executive. The images allow him to add some right-brain thinking to his usual left-brain thinking. This makes it easier for the executive to recognise situations in a flash instead of having to build them up piecemeal.”

  • The Higgs Boson re-explained” — Jorge Cham, PHD Comics; from the hello-i-mass-be-going dept.

    “Without the Higgs Field, there would be no mass terms in the equations … and everything you know would disappear in a split second.”

  • Is the Universe a Simulation?” — Edward Frenkel, The New York Times’ Gray Matter; from the faith-trust-and-pixie-dust dept.

    “What kinds of things are mathematical entities and theorems, that they are knowable in this way? Do they exist somewhere, a set of immaterial objects in the enchanted gardens of the Platonic world, waiting to be discovered? Or are they mere creations of the human mind?

    This question has divided thinkers for centuries. It seems spooky to suggest that mathematical entities actually exist in and of themselves. But if math is only a product of the human imagination, how do we all end up agreeing on exactly the same math? Some might argue that mathematical entities are like chess pieces, elaborate fictions in a game invented by humans. But unlike chess, mathematics is indispensable to scientific theories describing our universe. And yet there are many mathematical concepts — from esoteric numerical systems to infinite-dimensional spaces — that we don’t currently find in the world around us. In what sense do they exist?”

  • An Introduction to Landscape Theology” — David Titterington, Reality Sandwich; from the my-hair-the-trees-of-eternity dept.

    “What is objective and universal may be called transpersonal, or ‘archetypal,’ in the Jungian sense; it is that more-than-human place we share with others, that ‘earthly ground of rock and soil that we share with the other animals and the plants’ (Abram 1996: 281). Merleau-Ponty: ‘My body is made of the same flesh as the world.’ Therefore, if we wish to look for the ‘real archetypes,’ we may want to pay attention to landscapes and their elements.”

  • Sleep’s Hidden Histories — Benjamin Reiss. Los Angeles Review of Books [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from between-a-sleep-and-a-sleep the dept.

    “Things that we do or experience in private, things we might expect to read about in novels or talk about in therapy, have now generated a hidden-histories boomlet. The best of these works not only make the familiar strange, but they make us think differently about history and its intimate relation to our own lives.”

    “Sleep, on the other hand, assassinates the person who might think about it. It’s not just that it’s a stretch to imagine how our sleep connects us to other times and places; it’s that we’re not even there when it happens. Dreaming is a possible exception, since it’s sometimes recoverable by our waking selves — which is part of why dreaming has a much longer historiography than the other 85 percent of the sleep cycle. But the other aspects of the sleeping self — characterized by non-productivity, maddening lumpishness, and obliviousness — are about as unavailable to us as is being born or dying.”

  • The Church of the Paranormal” — Shannon Fischer, Pacific Standard [HT William Thirteen]; from the i-want-to-believe dept.

    “Don’t be shy. Depending on your poll of choice, anywhere from a third to nearly half of you either believe in ghosts or are pretty sure you do. And if not ghosts, then aliens, mediums, or astrology, for which belief has either held steady or risen over the last couple of decades. More than two-thirds of Americans hold at least one paranormal—unsanctioned by religion—belief, according to the Baylor Religion Survey. That’s more than voted in the 2012 presidential election.”

  • Arnold Toynbee quoted at “Roadmap to an unstoppable strategy” — Stephanie Van Hook; from the i-love-it-when-a-plan-comes-together dept.

    “Apathy can only be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an idea that takes the imagination by storm; and second, a concrete, intelligible plan for putting that idea into action.”

  • The War on Reason” — Paul Bloom, The Atlantic [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from the let-me-hear-your-body-talk dept.

    “In a contemporary, and often unacknowledged, rebooting of Freud, many psychologists have concluded from such findings that unconscious associations and attitudes hold powerful sway over our lives—and that conscious choice is largely superfluous. ‘It is not clear,’ the Baylor College neuroscientist David Eagleman writes, ‘how much the conscious you—as opposed to the genetic and neural you—gets to do any deciding at all.'”

  • Does Reading Actually Change The Brain?” — Carol Clark of Emory University, Futurity [HT Disinformation]; from the i-can-go-twice-as-high dept.

    “‘The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,’ Berns says. ‘We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.’

    The neural changes were not just immediate reactions, Berns says, since they persisted the morning after the readings, and for the five days after the participants completed the novel.”

  • The new theory that could explain crime and violence in America” — Scott C Johnson; from the taking-over-the-family-business dept.

    “When the analysis was complete, Meaney saw an intriguing pattern. For the most part, the brains of suicide victims had similar receptor levels to those of people who had died in accidents. But in the samples from victims of childhood abuse, receptor levels were lower — just as with the rats. When he homed in on the cause of the difference, things got even more interesting. Meaney discovered that the gene for the receptor was covered by a chemical blanket that effectively silenced it — exactly the same silencing mechanism as seen in the rats that suffered poor maternal care.

    The implication was significant: an abusive childhood might turn the volume down on this vital stress-response gene, leaving the abused vulnerable to stress, and perhaps suicidal impulses, later in life.”

  • Your Ancestors, Your Fate” — Gregory Clark, The New York Times’ Opinion Pages; from the upstairs-downstairs dept.

    “The notion of genetic transmission of ‘social competence’ … may unsettle us. But studies … support this view.”

  • Jim Jarmusch: how the film world’s maverick stayed true to his roots” — Jonathan Romney, The Observer; from the if-you-look-like-you-could-be-then-you-are dept.

    “The word ‘hipster’ invariably crops up in discussions about American film-maker Jim Jarmusch, not least because he looks the part. He is tall, lean, often wears shades and has a famous shock of hair that started turning silvery grey in his teens; his basso drawl completes the uncanny resemblance to a certain Hollywood great, which inspired Jarmusch to found a jokey secret society, The Sons of Lee Marvin.”

  • The Song of the Land: Bioregional Animism” — Sarah Anne Lawless; from the lay-of-the-land dept.

    “It is hard to care deeply about something without any personal knowledge of it. Walking this road can start as simply as purchasing a regional field guide and going for a lot of walks with it, photographing and recording what you find. It can be as fun as taking an identification and foraging course with knowledgeable locals who will teach you ethics and proper stewardship as well to make sure you don’t damage or destroy the natural resources you’re learning to identify and use. Go camping, go travelling, go exploring, go on adventures in your bioregion. Walk the trails, canoe the lakes, explore the beach, climb the trees…

    When you’re surrounded by nature, sit still, watch and listen.”

  • Teju Cole, via tweet; from the thank-you-no-thank-you dept.

    “You don’t decide to be a prophet. It happens to you, ruining your life, comforting distant people you’ve never met who may never thank you.”

  • Jenna Lilla, via tweet; from the i-roam-around-around-around dept.

    “The heroes are usually wanderers … a symbol of longing, of the restless urge which never finds its object of nostalgia for the lost mother.”

  • Magic and Your Lizard Brain: The Mind Tricks Behind Conjuring Ghosts” — Elizabeth Harper, Atlas Obscura; from the i-make-the-blue-cars-go-away dept.

    “Your lizard brain is so reliably persistent that knowing how the trick is done doesn’t stop the effect from working.”

  • Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?” — Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from the sesquipedalian-tergiversation dept.

    “Academic prose is, ideally, impersonal, written by one disinterested mind for other equally disinterested minds. But, because it’s intended for a very small audience of hyper-knowledgable, mutually acquainted specialists, it’s actually among the most personal writing there is. If journalists sound friendly, that’s because they’re writing for strangers. With academics, it’s the reverse.”

  • PantheaCon and the Growing Significance of Conventions as Spiritual Pilgrimage” — Crystal Blanton, The Wild Hunt; from the i-want-to-go-to-there dept;

    “Nikki Jardin states ‘A spiritual pilgrimage is a physical journey toward a place of sacred or religious significance.’ This definition fits with how many Pagans, Wiccans, and Polytheists have come to revere Pagan conventions and festivals: As yearly spiritual pilgrimages for transcendent and communal enlightenment.”

  • Sheep reproduction is beautiful.” — Sunshine and Bunnies!

    Sheep reproduction is beautiful

The Satanist at Pharaoh’s Court

The Satanist at Pharaoh’s Court by Walter C Cambra, a monograph, has arrived at the Reading Room courtesy of the author.

Walter C Cambra The Satanist at Pharaoh's Court

“Although some fool, over a dozen centuries beyond the setting of our story, pontificated that you cannot serve two masters, namely, God and Mammon (Matthew 6:24) the character in our story did so—and with flare!”

“I am speaking about that adept in the Occult Arts, namely, Joseph the Satanist at Pharaoh’s royal court! One may question labelling Joseph a Satanist — however, I do not!”

Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, ed. Henrik Bogdan and Martin P Starr, from Oxford University Press:

Henrik Brogdan and Martin P Starr's Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism from Oxford University Press

 

Oxford University Press has published a groundbreaking collection of academic studies concerning Aleister Crowley and his place in modern intellectual and religious history. The component chapters of Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism had been written at various points in the last twenty years, and taken together they demonstrate the considerable breadth of relevant subject matter.

The Alex Owen chapter that follows the editors’ introduction is an earlier version of a paper that was eventually incorporated into her constructive monograph The Place of Enchantment, which provides a revisionary perspective on modern occultism. In this version, she seems to be at lesser pains to make Crowley out to be a villain against liberal ethics, but she has the same uninformed regard for his later career, using one or two references to conclude that he was broken and failed after his Algerian operations of 1909. The simple fact is that his most enduring and successful work was done after that: writing Magick in Theory and Practice, reforming O.T.O., designing the Thoth Tarot, and so on.

Marco Pasi provides a valuable primer for academic readers regarding Crowley’s ideas about magic and mysticism, elucidating a tension between the materialist theorizing of Crowley’s early work and the more metaphysical concessions of the fully-initiated Beast. Pasi rightly distinguishes between the Cairo Operation of 1904 and the subsequent attainment of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel that Crowley claimed in 1906, observing that the identification of Aiwass as Crowley’s personal genius was a later development. He errs, however, in speculating that the equivalence was formulated as late as the writing of Magick in Theory and Practice in the 1920s. In fact, it is a feature of Crowley’s 1909 vision of the Eighth Aire in The Vision and the Voice.

Volume editor Henrik Bogdan’s contribution is a solid paper that fills a lacuna in the literature on Thelema by pointing out the positive contribution of the Plymouth Brethren dispensationalist doctrine to Crowley’s idea of magical aeons. While acknowledging the contemporaneity of occultist “new age” concepts (contrasted as largely pacifist vis-a-vis the martial Aeon of Horus), Bogdan does neglect to point out the important symbolic grounding of Crowley’s hierohistory in the Golden Dawn Equinox ceremony. (For that in detail, see my web-published essay “Aeons Beyond the Three“.)

Gordan Djurdjevic’s paper presents “Aleister Crowley as Tantric Hero” in a morphological, rather than a genealogical sense, stressing the notion of functional parallel between Thelema and Tantra. He makes a sound point about the confusion over Crowley’s Tantric bona fides originating in the secondary materials of biographers and students, rather than Crowley’s own claims. But he fails to address the younger Crowley’s derision of Tantra (“follies of Vamacharya [debauchery]” in The Equinox), and omits to observe that while the older Beast claimed to have studied “numerous writings on the Tantra,” he conscientiously referred aspirant Kenneth Grant to David Curwen for sounder Tantric instruction than the Prophet of Thelema could supply.

In Richard Kaczynski’s chapter, the heroically thorough Crowley biographer provides a somewhat exhaustive exposition of a specific range of Crowley’s own sources, presenting Crowley as a synthesist of Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and phallicist theory of religion. These are certainly the ingredients that most saliently inform the O.T.O., and thus Crowley’s social/institutional legacy, and this chapter amounts first and foremost to a bibliographically-dense essay useful to readers interested in understanding precedents for Crowley’s work with O.T.O.

The Tobias Churton piece on “Aleister Crowley and the Yezidis” is admittedly speculative and conjectural, and terribly sloppy even so. Churton recklessly juggles the historical Crowley with the “‘Aleister Crowley’ of popular imagination,” while his comparisons to Yezidism are nearly all in the subjunctive. The paper goes from bad to worse as Churton provides a long concatenation of mixed-together quotes from Thelemic and Yezidi source material, distinguished from each other only in the endnotes! And then in a big wrapup, he writes like an episode of Ancient Aliens, letting loose a stream of absurd hypotheses in the form of questions (e.g. “Are Yezidis prototypes, or long-lost cousins, of Thelemites? … Was Crowley a Yezidi Prophet?”), and bashfully disdaining to answer them. As an “alternative history” video host might say: “Could these things be true??? The answer is: yes.” But they probably aren’t.

The “Frenzied Beast” paper by Matthew Rogers is excellent, but too short. The author’s conspicuous good looks are absent from the printed page, and the article would have been improved by adding further materials on Crowley’s orientation toward Neoplatonism. In particular, the augoeides doctrine in Crowley’s works should have been given more exposure in connection with the source material in Iamblichus, and there should have been a comparison of “astral travel” in Crowley’s modern occultism with its classical antecedents. Rogers is obviously aware of these features, and if he had known how long it would take this book to get to press, he probably would have expanded the scope of his paper to address them in greater detail.

Martin Starr’s chapter was first written for the prestigious Masonic research journal Ars Quatuor Coronati, and in it he attempts to explain Crowley’s relations with Freemasonry (originally to an audience composed of Masons who jealously assume the priviledged status of the United Grand Lodge of England and the “regular” bodies in its network of recognition). The chapter certainly presents a credible narrative to account for the development of Crowley’s distaste for and derision of Freemasonry. Since its original publication in 1995 however, this paper’s judgment of Crowley’s Masonic standing has received a considered rebuttal from David R. Jones, who also explains some of the technical terminology of Masonic organizing that Starr’s piece takes for granted. The relevant features of Crowley’s American period have been fleshed out in Kaczynski’s Panic in Detroit: The Magician and the Motor City.

The real opinions and motives in the relationship between Aleister Crowley and Arthur Edward Waite are a considerable enigma, and the chapter by Robert A. Gilbert provides as complete a picture of their interactions as one could reasonably expect on the basis of the surviving evidence, which makes for very interesting reading. Unfortunately, the closing paragraphs expose Gilbert’s hostility toward Crowley, offering condemnation in a nonsensical comparison with Waite. Supposedly, Waite left (in his writings?) a real means of attainment to later generations, while Crowley did not. And Gilbert derides the contemporary O.T.O. in terms that have had debatable applicability in earlier decades, but are certainly false now. Or is Gilbert here tipping his hand as an exponent for some survival of Waite’s Christianized “Holy Order of the Golden Dawn”? In the end, the matter is no clearer than the true sentiments of the dead occultists.

In another of the collection’s older papers, Massimo Introvigne offers a few startling errors about Crowley (e.g. claims that Crowley hated his father, that Leah Hirsig was his first Scarlet Woman), but none of them have much bearing on his fascinating central topic of Crowley’s admiration for Joseph Smith and Mormonism. Of the various papers in the volume, this is one of those which touches most directly on a larger theoretical issue of scholarship, in exploring the distinction between religion and magic in the inspiring and organizing of new sects. Sadly, Introvigne simply assumes the “magic” character (by his own definitions) of the revelation of Liber AL vel Legis, without any actual inquiry into or discussion of the Cairo working. In this chapter, Crowley ultimately serves as a hostile witness for the defense in an effort to exonerate Mormonism against accusations of having a magical basis. Not that Crowley was hostile to (his own notion of) Mormonism, but he would have wanted to see it convicted of magick!

In Ronald Hutton’s book The Triumph of the Moon (2000) he provided in one chapter what was at that time the most fair and thorough study of Crowley’s influence on the origins of modern religious witchcraft. His chapter here does not merely rehash that material, but updates it with new findings and perspectives. Unlike Introvigne, Hutton does perceive the properly religious character of Crowley’s 1904 revelation and consequent activities. However, he wants to dismiss the religious dimension of Thelema on the (somewhat justifiable) basis of the magical-rather-than-religious orientation of many latter-day Thelemites. It is an understandable position for him, in defense of his slogan touting Wicca as “the only fully formed religion that England has ever given the world.” (In light of the patently and confessedly religious nature of O.T.O., I would suggest a different gambit to Hutton: The revelation in Cairo to the globe-trotting adventurer Crowley, the German roots of O.T.O., and the subsequent formation of the first durable Thelemic communities outside of Britain indicates that Thelema isn’t so much a product of “England” as it is an inherently intercultural, cosmopolitan synthesis.) As in The Triumph of the Moon, Hutton is here focused on English witchcraft, especially as formulated by Gerald Gardner. He consequently gives no attention to the witcheries of American Jack Parsons and Australian Rosaleen Norton, both strongly influenced by Crowley themselves, and not via Gardner’s work.

The case of Norton is taken up in a study by Keith Richmond, who does her full justice. Adding nothing substantial to the reader’s knowledge of Crowley, Richmond instead illuminates Norton’s regard for and understanding of Crowley. She seems to have been friendlier to Crowley’s work in private than in public, which is understandable, in that she had no need to borrow notoriety!

Hugh Urban’s chapter treats Crowley’s possible influence on L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. Urban does some contextual violence to various Crowley quotes from Magick in Theory and Practice, but his readings may be consistent with the way Hubbard approached the material, so for immediate purposes there’s not much point in arguing about them. The chapter’s thesis is the conclusion that any dispassionate observer should reach: Hubbard was influenced by Crowley, but Scientology incorporates so many other elements — some others of which have come to predominate while the ones rooted in magick have faded — that it would be false to simply view it as some sort of crypto-Thelema.

The final chapter, contributed by Asbjørn Dyrendal, is an assessment of Crowley’s influence on two of the seminal organizers of contemporary Satanism: Anton LaVey and Michael Aquino, of the Church of Satan and Temple of Set respectively. Although there is a little confusion of the distinct notions of “black magic” and the “Black Brotherhood” in Crowley’s work, this examination is conducted with great care and accuracy on the whole, pointing out both debts to Crowley and explicit rejections by Satanists of some of his teachings. It is interesting to contrast the Satanists’ criticisms of Crowley with Urban’s appraisals of him, since they come to such different conclusions. (While I differ with their ultimate valuations, I think the Satanists are more accurate here.) Although Dyrendal touches briefly on LaVey’s successor Peter Gilmore, he keeps the discussion very focused on the two Satanist founder figures, and it would have been interesting to bring in some of Don Webb’s outspoken opinions on Crowley, for example (he wrote a short monograph called Aleister Crowley: The Fire and the Force), thus demonstrating Crowley’s direct effects on the enduring Satanist milieu.

With a few minor exceptions, the level of scholarship in this volume is impressive. More than that, the papers tend to be lively and challenging reading. As Wouter Hanegraaff points out in his foreword, the caricature of Crowley as a quasi-medieval Doctor Faustus conceals a figure who is quintessentially modern, and to give the Beast his third dimension places him in the same space that the reader inhabits. [via]

 

 

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