“This is the first book to explore the existence of a configuration of seven pre-Christian sites which formed the route of a pilgrimage of initiation used by Druids, Knights Templar and Christian mystics in their search for true knowledge and enlightenment. Beginning at Compostela in Spain, the voyage of discovery proceeds to Toulouse, Orleans, Chartres, Paris and Amiens, taking us deep into a mysterious world where hidden streams of spirituality flow beneath the surface of European history, profoundly influencing the evolution of Western thought. The journey ends at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, where the history of its founders, the Sinclair family, illuminates the revelations of Rosslyn and their significance for us today.” — back cover
The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s century, 1590–1710 by David Stevenson, a 2001 reprint of the 1990 first paperback edition from Cambridge University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“Freemasonry has always been a highly controversial movement. Yet inspite of the vast literature which has been produced on the subject its origins have remained obscure. The prevailing assumption has been that it emerged in England around 1700, but most of the evidence used to support this interpretation turns out on examination to relate to Scotland.
The Origins of Freemasonry represents the first attempt to study this evidence in the context of Scottish history. By doing this, and examining much new evidence in the records of early Scottish lodges, David Stevenson demonstrates that the real origins of the essential modern freemasonry lie in Scotland around 1600, when the system of lodges was created by stonemasons with rituals and secrets blending medieval mythology with a number of late Renaissance intellectual influences to create a movement which was to spread through England, across Europe and then around the world. The story of the emergence of this movement will be of interest to scholars of the Renaissance and of seventeenth-century history in general, to freemasons themselves, and to those seeking to understand the true nature of a movement which arouses considerable controversy.” — back cover
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.
Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden by Aleister Crowley has been published by Edda Publications, Sweden, recently in a new edition, edited and with an introduction by Vere Chappell, illustrated by Fredrik Söderberg, and available directly or, in the US, from Weiser Antiquarian and J D Holmes. The first 43 copies of 418 total is a limited edition slipcased volume, with a separate signed silkscreen print by the artist.
“While at his Scottish retreat Boleskine in 1903, Aleister Crowley decided to amuse his wife Rose and their friends by writing pornography – one new section each day. He concocted a tale that managed to be marvelously creative and utterly repugnant at the same time. No taboo escaped unviolated – sodomy, pederasty, bestiality, necrophilia, urolagnia, and coprophagia all figure prominently in the text. The protagonist is no less than an Archbishop, incorporating the grand tradition of anti-clericalism which had been a feature of popular pornography for centuries. Many contemporary figures were also made objects of satire, although they were also rendered “nameless” by the use of elision, or omitted letters. The overall result is more absurd than obscene, owing more to Cervantes, Rabelais, Sade and Apollinaire than to the run-of-the-mill pornography of the time. Writing a chapter a day, in the evenings Crowley read it aloud to the audience assembled in the household, with the exception of his Aunt Annie. Reportedly this had the intended effect of amusing Rose, and doubtless the rest of the party, especially since some of them and their old friends from Paris were featured characters. Poor old Aunt Annie even ended up having a role in the tale.
Lavishly illustrated in 38 images by Fredrik Söderberg. The book also contains an in-depth introduction by its editor, American sexologist Vere Chappell.” [via]
Since that was a while ago, and the show is now open, I thought I’d mention it again. This will run through Nov 3rd, 2013. See also Witches: from hideous hags to sexy sirens — in pictures for a preview. Further, there’s a more recent article at From Macbeth to the Wizard of Oz: New exhibition explores the erotic side of witchcraft; Images of witches have always had a sexual aspect, as a new show in Edinburgh vividly demonstrates [HT Judika Illes].
Glasgow’s Hidden Geometry: A Night of Psychogeographical Exploration is an event with music, film and more, including Hermetic Library anthology artist The Psychogeographical Commission, on Saturday, July 27th at Maryhill Burgh Halls in Glasgow, and tickets are available online.
“A Night of Psychogeographical Exploration in music from The Psychogeographical Commission and Glasgow sound artist Caroline McKenzie, with a showing of the feature film ‘The Devil’s Plantation’ by BAFTA winning filmmaker May Miles Thomas, with an Introduction to Psychogeography by Dr David Manderson.
£8/£6 (+ booking fee) from http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/398195
The Devil’s Plantation
A feature film based on May Miles Thomas’ BAFTA-winning website, The Devil’s Plantation promises an unforgettable journey into the hidden corners of Glasgow. It tells the true story of amateur archaeologist Harry Bell whose self-published book Glasgow’s Secret Geometry describes his obsessive search for a secret network of aligned sites traversing the city. The original work changed course after the discovery of an abandoned casefile belonging to ex-psychiatric patient Mary Ross whose long walks in the city mirrored those of Bell. Narrated by Kate Dickie and Gary Lewis, the film lovingly captures the spirit of the dérive (unplanned journey or drift) and like any good excursion arrives at a satisfying and surprising conclusion.
The Psychogeographical Commission
The Psychogeographical Commission are well known for high-concept recordings based around London (‘Genius Loci’), the psychological effect of the second half of a year (‘Patient Zero’) and the Occult origins of the Glasgow Subway System (‘Widdershins’). For this appearance they will be soundtracking a film based around two journeys through Maryhill, intertwining the past with what they found whilst walking.
Caroline has lived close to the River Clyde for just over a decade. In that time, she has crossed its bridges many, many times and 2 new ones have been built. For her set, she will be considering these bridges and the halfway point they represent; they are inherently transitional and yet we cross them without a thought.
“David’s remarkable debut novel, Lost Bodies (Kennedy & Boyd) has a rare quality which takes it into two camps that critics usually keep apart, it’s both a literary novel and a compelling page turner and well worth adding to your reading pile if, like me, you’re beginning to turn away from genre-defined fiction and looking at new ways of telling stories.In the Guardian Review last August in the pre-publicity surrounding Umbrella, Will Self generated a good debate about ‘the failure of modernist fiction’ and wrote about his anxiety in finding the right form. He ought to add Lost Bodies to his TBR pile.”
Bookrambler, Northwords Now
Witches and Wicked Bodies is a show at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, in Edinburgh, Scotland, that will run from Jul 27th through Nov 3rd, 2013. See also Witches: from hideous hags to sexy sirens — in pictures for a preview.
“Delve into the world of Witches and Wicked Bodies in this major new exhibition coming in summer 2013.
Discover how witches and witchcraft have been depicted by artists over the past 500 years, including works by Albrecht Dürer, Francisco de Goya and William Blake, plus pieces by 20th century artists such as Paula Rego and Kiki Smith.
Through 16th and 17th century prints and drawings, learn how the advent of the printing press allowed artists and writers to share ideas, myths and fears about witches from country to country.
Including major works on loan from the British Museum, the National Gallery (London), Tate, the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as works from the Galleries’ own collections, Witches and Wicked Bodies will be an investigation of extremes, exploring the highly exaggerated ways in which witches have been represented, from hideous hags to beautiful seductresses.
Supported by the Patrons of the National Galleries of Scotland.” [via]
“The Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition coming soon to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art explores how myth, legend and folk belief have shaped the depiction of witches over the past 500 years. Packed with sensuality and magic, these works show why witchcraft has cast a spell on artists for so long” [via]
“The video for a section of our Widdershins Project.
This recording documents the inner circle of the Glasgow Subway system which travels in an anticlockwise direction (widdershins), a constant banishing ritual performed daily upon the whole of the west side of Glasgow.
“Witch, Warlock, and Magician: Historical Sketches of Magic and Witchcraft in England and Scotland” by W H. Davenport Adams from 1889 was recently added to Project Gutenberg and might be something to check out.
“A National Theatre of Scotland production.
Alan Cumming gives an award-winning, tour-de-force central performance as Dionysus, the charismatic and dangerous god in this adaptation of Euripidese classic tragedy.
“My most memorable personal experience of the effects of black magic occurred when I was living in Scotland. The machinations of a degraded and outcast member of the Order caused my hounds to die, my servants to become insane. The struggle lasted until the recoil of the current of hated caused the luckless sorcerer to collapse.” [via, also]