Tag Archives: secret chiefs

Omnium Gatherum: March 19th, 2014

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 19th, 2014

Thelema with Shane Gillen
Thelema with Shane Gillen [also], a magic show set in a secret location in central Dublin

 

  • Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600; from the distorted-world-view dept.

    “Equipped with ‘VI technology’ which combines a deep depth of field lens, CCD linear image sensor and high directivity LED lamp, SV600 is able to minimize unevenness in image quality and generate a smooth image even when scanning from a distance.”

    Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600

     

  • do-it yourself repro v-cradle for paper books — ereszet; from the v-for-victory dept.

    “Why a v-cradle and not a flat bed.
    For two reasons: First, you cannot spread the books flat and if you do, the quality of reproduced pages will be compromised. It is especially important if you plan to OCR the book. Second, you avoid light reflections. You need only one lamp with a diffuser just over the v-cradle (picture attached). Lighting is the most difficult part of reproduction. Over the years, I have tried various setups with my semi-professional Manfrotto repro stand and four lamps at 45 degree angle. It doesn’t come close to an overhead lamp and v-cradle. Avoid any other light in the room or take everything to your terrace and shoot at the sunlight with no artificial light.”

    ereszet DIY book cradle

     

  • Release 2.0 of the Standard Spiritualist and Occult Corpus (SSOC) Available” — Marc Demarest, Chasing Down Emma; from the knock-twice-for-yes dept.

    “The SSOC now clocks in at 2700+ titles: more than 1.3 million pages of indexed Spiritualist and occult non-fiction from the 1790s until 1940.

    Release 2.0 provides more than 500 new and updated titles, and marks the beginning of the re-indexing of the SSOC using a third-party embedded indexing engine superior to the Adobe Acrobat in-built OCR facility, for higher-fidelity searches.”

  • Ancient ‘Ritual Wand’ Etched with Human Faces Discovered in Syria” — Tia Ghose, livescience [Scarlet Imprint]; from the weirwood dept.

    “Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient staff carved with two realistic human faces in southern Syria.

    The roughly 9,000-year-old artifact was discovered near a graveyard where about 30 people were buried without their heads — which were found in a nearby living space.”

    Ancient ritual wand in Syria from Ibanez et al
    Photo: Ibanez et al, Antiquity, 2014

     

  • 800-year-old monk found poking out of cliff face” — Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph [via]; from the i-know-what-happened-to-jimmy-hoffa dept.

    “[Karl-James] Langford said a monastic community lived close to the area and the bones appeared to be from a man in his late 20s, in good health.

    ‘I would say they belong to a monk from the 1200s — due to previous archaeological digs in the past, the depth of the bones in the cliff and the history of the area.

    He would likely be buried with nothing except two shroud rings which would have held his burial shroud in place at the head and feet.'”

  • Nasir al-Mulk ‘Pink Mosque’ Of Iran Is Like Stepping Into A Kaleidoscope” — Yasmine Hafiz, The Huffington Post; from the whoa-that’s-a-full-rainbow-all-the-way dept.

    “From the outside, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, seems like a fairly traditional house of worship — but it’s hiding a gorgeously colorful secret.”

    Omid Jafarnezhad Nasir al-Mulk pink mosque
    Photo: Omid Jafarnezhad

     

  • Bagging a Witch in Ohio” — Chris, Woodyard, Haunted Ohio — [HT Richard Shepard]; from the so-logically-if-she-weighs-the-same-as-a-duck-she’s-made-of-wood dept.

    “Today’s post returns to a similar theme: Anti-witch remedies and witch-tests in early 19th-century Ohio. This story–half dire description of lunacy and half Monty Python sketch–comes from the village of Bethel in Clermont County.”

  • Siberian Police Stop Witch Burning” &mdash RIA Novosti, The Moscow Times [HT Judika Illes]; in the titus-andronicus dept.

    “In an unexpected incident worthy of the Spanish inquisition, a couple in eastern Siberia decided their acquaintance was a witch and attempted to burn her alive, though police stopped the impromptu auto-da-fe.

    The rescue came not a moment too soon, as the couple were at that moment forcing the alleged witch headfirst into a burning stove in an abandoned building, Zabaikalsky region police said Thursday.”

  • Wellcome MS373, f.87r — Sienna Lathan, via tweet; from the and-shoot-forth-venom dept.

    “Whosoeuer first in the morning drinketh garlicke and Cockes blood hee need not fear venome.”

  • Discordian Events List — Chasing Eris; what’s-up-chuck dept.

    “What Discordian events are near you?”

  • Embracing Questions” — Thomas Zwollo, Spiral Nature; from the soldier-and-the-hunchback dept.

    “Throughout his life, Crowley was asking himself questions, and he encouraged his students and readers to ask questions. This included questions about the things they read, the rituals they performed, the conditions of their magical work, and even to interrogate the entities they invoked. He embraced the method of science, and thus he embraced questions more than answers. I often challenge myself to remember this in my own work.”

  • What The Gnostic Pentagram Ritual Sounds Like” — The Blog of Baphomet [HT Spiral Nature]; from the and-sometimes-y dept.

    “Another group of occultists that we’re associated with had asked for some help with a demonstration of the vowel sounds (I, E, A, O, U) that Pete Carroll uses to build the various banishing rituals in his writing. As with many things in life it’s one thing to read a ritual text and another to see, hear and participate in it for oneself.”

  • Sock Magic” — Fire Lyte, Inciting A Riot [HT Sarah Anne Lawless]; from the sock-it-to-me dept.

    “Magical tools can be found in all sorts of strange places these days. From conversations about turning your potpourri warmer into a slow-burning witchy cauldron, to using your iPod as a divinatory device, people are getting witchy where they can these days. In bygone eras our witchy ancestry, so we’re led to believe, used what they had on handle — the broom, the cauldron, the sickle — because it’s what they had. Not because a broom is more magical or special than any other household object.

    And so, with all that very serious background, let’s make magic with socks!”

  • A Mystic, Magician and Theologian Talk to an Angel” — K Herschel, Star And System; from the july-like-a-dog dept.

    “The best way to get a feel for the Enochian entities is to look at Dee’s journals. What you see there are years of promises unkept. The angels promised power, the power that makes empires and tears down thrones. They also promised a complete system. They never delivered on any of it to Dee. After you have feasted on Dee’s disappointments, move on to Crowley’s The Vision and the Voice and the collected work of Benjamin Rowe. All else aside, what you will see is what Rowe realized very early on. The Enochian entities are very good at playing up to your expectations and saying precisely what you need to hear to keep you interested even when it’s not what you expect. This is a danger in magic in general, but the Enochian entities are masters of the genre.”

  • Null-A Mind Software” — seth, An American Mystagogue; from the possibly-maybe dept.

    “Two value logic (Ie, True or False) while a highly useful way of thinking manages to darken one’s view of possible alternate ways of thinking and perceiving the world around them. When we become habitually addicted to the categorization of all information as either Totally Existing or Totally Not-Existing we become sloppy, lazy thinkers who are prone to building a self-gratifying personal cosmology. When the two-value system is used in its right way it is simply a systematic approach to what I call ‘the cosmic binary’.”

  • Cultural production of ignorance provides rich field for study” — Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times [HT Wythe Marschall]; from the i-read-it-on-the-internet dept.

    “Robert Proctor doesn’t think ignorance is bliss. He thinks that what you don’t know can hurt you. And that there’s more ignorance around than there used to be, and that its purveyors have gotten much better at filling our heads with nonsense.”

  • Rethinking Gnostic Intellectuals? Categories as Weapons and History as Construct” — Philip L Tite, Bulletin for the Study of Religion; from the interprefacts dept.

    “As a social historian, I still like to think that we can know something about past cultures. However, if I’ve learned anything from my method & theory exemplars over the years, it is to appreciate the value of stepping back and ‘studying the study of.’ Indeed, this theoretical standpoint is a subtext in nearly all my teaching and much of my scholarship. How the past is shaped, directed, juxtaposed, and selectively presented is perhaps far more insightful to the student in religious studies than the actual ‘facts’ (events, persons, things, etc) – even if those ‘facts’ are not in dispute per se.”

  • The Gnostics Were Intellectuals” — April DeConick, The Forbidden Gospels; from the path-less-traveled dept.

    “So I have been working upstream most of my career, swimming against a current that is much stronger than I am. I guess I like the challenge, or I wouldn’t keep doing it. I have spent a lot of time within the Nag Hammadi texts, reconstructing the worlds of the authors, which are not crazy once you learn their references and points of view. The Gnostics from antiquity were anything but crazy, inconsequential or irrational. But they were different. And difference often leads to misunderstanding.”

  • Uncovered in Jerusalem, 9 tiny unopened Dead Sea Scrolls” — Ilan Ben Zion, The Times of Israel [HT Disinformation]; from the right-under-your-nous dept.

    “An Israeli scholar turned up the previously unexamined parchments, which had escaped the notice of academics and archaeologists as they focused on their other extraordinary finds in the 1950s. Once opened, the minuscule phylactery parchments from Qumran, while unlikely to yield any shattering historic, linguistic or religious breakthroughs, could shed new light on the religious practices of Second Temple Judaism.”

  • The Warlock and Truth-Breaking” — K Herschel, Star and System [HT Storm Faerywolf]; from the curses-foiled-again dept.

    “We might find, as well, echoes of the Warlock and Truth-Breaker in Aleister Crowley’s concept of the curse of the Magus. The curse of the Magus is that she must always lie. Having achieved a level of transcendence beyond the dualistic structure of the phenomenal universe, all things are both truth and false for the Magus. As such, language itself is inadequate to capture the understanding (Binah) and wisdom (Chokmah) that the Magus has achieved and so all linguistic statements and teachings are a lie. We are clearly dealing here with a discussion of the nature of the Magus on the mystical register. The experience to which she is privy is beyond the grasp of word or image, as is the case with most mystical experience.”

  • The Secret Chiefs and Academia, Ep 1 of The Lost Word, hosted by Greg Kaminsky, with Tony Silvia, from Gnostic NYC; from the master-chief-mischief dept.

     

  • Neuroanatomical Correlates of Religiosity and Spirituality” — Lisa Miller, et al., JAMA Psychiatry; from the gonna-set-me-up-with-the-spirit-in-the-sky dept.

    “A thicker cortex associated with a high importance of religion or spirituality may confer resilience to the development of depressive illness in individuals at high familial risk for major depression, possibly by expanding a cortical reserve that counters to some extent the vulnerability that cortical thinning poses for developing familial depressive illness.”

  • Majid Fotuhi quoted at “Is Religion Good for Your Brain?” — Sheila M Eldred, Discovery News; from the hippo-on-campus-would-stress-me-out-too dept.

    “One of the worst killers of brain cells is stress […] Stress causes high levels of cortisol, and cortisol is toxic to the hippocampus. One way to reduce stress is through prayer. When you’re praying and in the zone you feel a peace of mind and tranquility.”

  • Death Grips, with videos featured on this blog on occassion, will be on tour with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden.

     

  • On the occult, books, and the senses” — Brigit Katz, Bibliopaths; from the medium-is-the-message dept.

    “Occult revivals that are bubbling up in Brooklyn and in other pockets across the country have ushered in something of a Golden Age for small-press, metaphysical publishing houses. ‘That’s sort of the new wave of occult books: a re-evaluation of occult book as tome, and as talisman.’ [Phillip] English tells me. ‘Occultists or magicians, they tend to be collectors … They can appreciate the sort of art and magic that went into the work itself.’ Which isn’t to say that all members of the occult community buy into the idea of book-as-talisman. Phil Hine, a British occultist who has written several books on a practice called Chaos Magic, is among the witches and magicians who have questioned the value of ornately bound hard covers to magical rites. ‘Generally, I buy books because of the content,’ he writes on his blog. ‘Presentation is a secondary consideration.'”

  • Book Review: ‘Plato at the Googleplex’ by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein” — Colin McGinn, The Wall Street Journal; from the drown-me-in-the-shallow-water dept.

    “Rebecca Goldstein has written a timely book about our own age by taking us back to an earlier age—that of the ancient Greeks. She wants to know what the works of Plato can teach us about the life worth living, about politics, child rearing, love and sex, about knowledge and reality, brain and mind, truth, goodness, and beauty. Ms. Goldstein’s book is felicitously written, impressively researched, insightful, important, entertaining and glowing with intelligence. Plato is brought marvelously to life, and, as a welcome corollary, philosophy is vindicated against what Ms. Goldstein aptly labels the ‘philosophy-jeerers’—those who rashly claim that philosophy has no intellectual substance or future in this scientific era.”

  • ‘Son Of God’ Veers Toward Gnostic Heresy” — Joel Gehrke, The Federalist; from the heresy-gone-tomorrow dept.

    Son of God gives oxygen to a claim that early church leaders denounced as historically and theologically false because it contradicts the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life. The movie’s portrayal of Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples creates the impression that Jesus ordered Judas to betray him.

    They aren’t the first to do that. An ancient Gnostic sect known as the Cainites honored traditional villains such as Cain and Judas, praising the latter as the closest confidant of Jesus, according to the second-century church father Irenaeus of Lyons.”

  • Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?” — Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian’s Earth Insight; from the IDM dept.

    “A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

    Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that ‘the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.’ Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to ‘precipitous collapse — often lasting centuries — have been quite common.'”

  • Detection of primordial gravitational waves announced” — Matthew Francis, Ars Technica; from the bang-bang-that-awful-sound dept.

    “When the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced a press conference for a “Major Discovery” (capital letters in the original e-mail) involving an unspecified experiment, rumors began to fly immediately. By Friday afternoon, the rumors had coalesced around one particular observatory: the BICEP microwave telescope located at the South Pole. Over the weekend, the chatter focused on a specific issue: polarization in the Cosmic Microwave Background left over from the Big Bang. With the start of the press conference, it’s now clear that we’ve detected the first direct evidence of the inflationary phase of the Big Bang, in which the Universe expanded rapidly in size.”

  • Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun” — Dennis Overbye, The New York Times; from the bang-bang-my-baby-shot-me-down dept.

    “One night late in 1979, an itinerant young physicist named Alan Guth, with a new son and a year’s appointment at Stanford, stayed up late with his notebook and equations, venturing far beyond the world of known physics.

    He was trying to understand why there was no trace of some exotic particles that should have been created in the Big Bang. Instead he discovered what might have made the universe bang to begin with.”

  • The Remnants of Prehistoric Plant Pollen Reveal that Humans Shaped Forests 11,000 Years Ago” — Josie Garthwaite, Smithsonian Magazine; from the ancient-anthropocene dept.

    “A new study of pollen samples extracted from tropical forests in southeast Asia suggests humans have shaped these landscapes for thousands of years. Although scientists previously believed the forests were virtually untouched by people, researchers are now pointing to signs of imported seeds, plants cultivated for food, and land clearing as early as 11,000 years ago—around the end of the last Ice Age.

    The study, to be published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Archaeological Science comes from researchers led by paleoecologist Chris Hunt, of Queen’s University, Belfast, who analyzed existing data and examined samples from Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam.”

  • The Famished Road by Ben Okri [HT Literary Interest]; from the bring-me-a-dream dept.

    “We can redream this world and make the dream come real. Human beings are gods hidden from themselves.”

  • Hodges’ Constellation cards” — The World of Playing Cards; from the he-saw-stars-in-his-eyes dept.

    “The Ram, the Bull, the Heavenly Twins,
    And next the Crab, the Lion shines —
    The Virgin and the Scales,
    The Scorpion, Archer, and the Goat,
    The Man that Bears the Watering Pot,
    And Fish with glittering tails.”

    Charles Hodges Constellation cards at World of Playing Cards

     

  • Masonic Playing Cards” — The World of Playing Cards; from the know-when-to-hold-em dept.

    “This attractive pack commemorating the history of freemasonry has the Kings as masters of the lodge, the Queens and Jacks are other masonic officers while the Jokers are two operative masons. The deck contains two interpretation cards explaining the meaning of the Masonic symbolism.”

    Masonic Playing Cards at World of Playing Cards

     

  • Hermetic Library anthology artist Doleful Lions has a new release, Annotated Gilgamesh b/w Tearstreaked Monster.

     

  • Child’s illustrated garden of Satanic ritual abuse” — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; from the is-that-a-euphemism-in-your-pocket dept.

    “I want to go home. I already HAD the ‘magic surgery.’ They put a monster in me.”

    Child's illustrated garden of Satanic ritual abuse via Boing Boing

     

  • Ancient Egyptian Kitten Skeletons Hint at Cat Domestication” [HT Boing Boing]; from the curious-what’s-in-that-bag dept.

    “The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years.

Rant

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk.

Chuck Palahniuk Rant

First review: for those, who (like me) have previously followed Palahniuk’s work with great interest and have read several of his other books. This one is a winner. It does use the anagnoresis formula that he refined in his early novels, but it does so better than ever. It also involves the praeternatural dynamics of stories like Lullaby and Diary, but this time the approach is science-fictional rather than fantasy-occultist. The “oral history” conceit plays to Palahniuk’s strengths of idiosyncratic voices, unreliable narration, and epigrammatic punch. If you’ve read and enjoyed other Palahniuk books, you know you don’t want me to tell you the plot, but the key themes include epidemiology, perception of time, control in urban societies, and messianic mythopoeia.

Second review: for the uninitiated. This book will take you for a wild ride. If you want a nice linear plot development where each piece immediately makes sense by being added to the ones that have come before, don’t bother. In fact, the author exhibits the entire story on page four, in a sort of one-paragraph Shakespearean prologue replying to the question of how the speaker got such a good deal on an airplane ticket. But don’t get too comfortable in the first hundred pages, because when you leave the small-town setting, you won’t be in the world you had likely imagined. And you’ll have no idea what’s really going on until the last 20 pages out of over 300. What you will have is more sardonic humor, gutwrenching pathos, and profound ideas than you can shake a stick at. If you can take that sort of bewilderment, then by all means you should.

Third review: for my brother and sister Magicians. You never thought the Secret Chiefs could be like this! I’ll see your Mahatma and raise him a Phil Dick and two David Cronenbergs. “Sun and moon give time the form of day and night. Sushumna is the eater of time. This is declared to be a secret.” (Hatha Yoga Pradipika 4.17) [via]


The Equinox & Solstice Ceremonies of the Golden Dawn

The Equinox & Solstice Ceremonies of the Golden Dawn by Pat Zalewski and Chris Zalewski, part of the Llewellyn Golden Dawn Series, the 1992 first edition softcover from Llewellyn Publications, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Pat Zalewski Chris Zalewski The Equinox & Solstice Ceremonies of the Golden Dawn from Llewellyn Publications

“This book contains historically important material in the form of hitherto unpublished seasonal rituals of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and A E Waite’s ‘independent and rectified rite.’

But they are of more than historical interest. They are powerful instruments toward attaining higher consciousness if placed in the right hands.

They demonstrate the threefold nature of the tradition. That is: hermetic/intellectual, as represented in the Masonic type ritual elements; mystical/aspirational, as represented by their Rosicrucian allegiance; and elemental/geomantic, through celebration of the equinoxes and solstices.

And should we seek to re-work or re-phrase them, we need to maintain this threefold balance. For instance, to try to write out the Christian from the Mysteries of Christian Rosenkreutz would rather be like trying to make an omelette without the eggs! Or if we worked them in serious doubt about the existence of the ‘secret chiefs’ we would have no source of heat beneath our frying pan! Without these elements of faith the rituals would be worked without power. Would be no more than amateur dramatic performances of portentious sounding religiosity. A ritual only exists in its effective enactment, not on the page.

Yet if power is contacted by these means (as it sometimes can be, even inadvertently), it is hardly the type than can be ‘used’ for personal ends or convenience. One might as well seek to tap the power of a tiger by pulling its tail.

So if we seek to work seriously with this material we must look to our motives and true aspirations. These rituals have hidden power, and if we seek to find it we must be prepared for nothing less than personal transformation! These rituals place the keys in our hands. We only have to turn them.” — Gareth Knight, 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.

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.

Superior Beings

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Superior Beings. If They Exist, How Would We Know?: Game-Theoretic Implications of Omnipotence, Omniscience, Immortality, and Incomprehensibility by Steven J Brams:

Steven J Brams' Superior Beings

 

The plural “Beings” in the title of this book is a little misleading. The text is not a discussion of polytheistic deity, angels, praeterhuman extraterrestrials, or hidden adepts. It is instead an application of game theory mathematics to the issue of relationships between a hypothetical person (P) and a “superior being” (SB). Moreover, the “superior being” postulated is of the sovereign type common to Abrahamic monotheism. In creating his preference rankings for applying various 2×2 game matrices to relations between SB and P, Brams uses interpretations of biblical narratives as justifications. My own esoteric interests had me coming to this book with curiosity about its conclusions relative to mahatmas or secret chiefs, but I find that its models are far more relevant to relations between an aspirant and his personal genius, or Holy Guardian Angel.

“Superior being” seems to be a deliberate weakening of the “supreme being” used in Western theological parlance. Brams is interested in modeling relations with a being whose powers and horizons immeasurably exceed the human, but he is not concerned with the traditional and trivial paradoxes of rigorous omnipotence. By positing an SB that submits to the calculus of the games in this book, he suggests that the answer to the question “Could God create a rock so big that He couldn’t lift it?” is certainly yes. And he accurately points out the fact that some passages of the Bible indicate a God of vast but finite power.

Still, the dependence on biblical notions of divine behavior is awfully limiting for anyone with a genuine philosophical interest in “superior beings.” The author seems to admit as much when he refers to a game schematic “which seems to offer a generic representation of God’s retribution in the Bible — and maybe elsewhere” (139). (Even so, the notion of the Biblical God as the national genius of the Hebrews makes these game representations reasonable on a certain level.) Brams does provide some interesting challenges to Pascal’s Wager, and he concludes with a novel perspective on the Problem of Evil.

The book is also an engaging introduction to the mathematical techniques involved in game theory analyses. Brams presumes no prior experience in game theory on the reader’s part, and provides a rich context for examining these logical tools. [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.

Secret Agent 666

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult by Richard B Spence, from Feral House:

Richard B Spence's Secret- Agent 666 from Feral-House

 

Secret Agent 666 is a terrific read. Author Spence is no kind of expert on occultism, and seems basically unperceptive on even such related topics as Freemasonry. But he does have useful expertise on British espionage in the first half of the 20th century. Although Spence has documentary support for Aleister Crowley’s status as an asset of the British intelligence apparatus, he also uncovers evidence of apparent “scrubbing” throughout the archives of various UK and US agencies. Much of the narrative he presents, then, is admittedly speculative.

The best-supported details for Crowley’s career as a propagandist agent provacateur are those for the World War I period, and perhaps as much as half of the book focuses on that interval. Spence’s references are far-ranging, and include sources of dubious value, but the conclusions he draws from them are still credible, and framed with appropriate caveats. His most important source throughout is Crowley’s Confessions (and not just the published version), to which he brings vast amounts of missing context by identifying the political allegiances and intelligence activities of Crowley’s many associates.

The presentation refrains from any attempts to interpret Crowley’s “Secret Chiefs” as his superiors in espionage. In fact, his supervisors were more likely to appear in the form of his A∴A∴ pupils, such as Gerald Yorke. Still, anyone interested in the intersection between occultism and international politics would be well-served by placing this book on a reading list just next to K. Paul Johnson’s works on the Theosophical Masters.

Spence is in no hurry to make Crowley either a villain or a hero. He does opine that the Beast was always a loyal Englishman, who relished clandestine intelligence and propaganda work, and had a long history of doing such work. Also, he disclaims any reductionism with respect to Crowley’s occult activities: The fact that a particular magical retirement might have have been opportune for a certain spy operation does not mean it wasn’t also a genuine spiritual undertaking. For those already familiar with Crowley’s general biography and magical accomplishments, the result is the restoration of missing pieces of the mage’s career, with reasonable explanations for many previously-murky travels and initiatives. [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.

I Make Myself Invisible in Articles by Aleister Crowley.

“I then went to Egypt, and—to my intense surprise—was summoned by the secret chiefs of the Order. I was commanded to return to England, there to reconstruct the system of organisation, as the outer form of the Order had broken up through the fall of its chief ambassador to the world ‘without the Veil,’ and to put the secrets in writing.” [via, also]