Tag Archives: secret societies

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

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

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

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

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

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]


British Poets and Secret Societies

British Poets and Secret Societies by Marie Roberts, the 1986 first US printing hardcover from Barnes & Noble Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Marie Roberts British Poets and Secret Societies from Barnes and Noble Books

“A surprisingly large number of English poets have either belonged to one or other secret society, or been strongly influenced by its tenets. one of the best known examples is Christopher Smart’s membership of the Freemasons, and the resulting influence of Masonic doctrines on A Song to David; a study of this work in the light of Freemasonry has long been a desideratum. but many other poets have belonged to, or been influenced by (since in many cases membership is hard to prove) not only the Freemasons, but the Rosicrucians, Gormogons and Hell-Fire Clubs. This study concentrates on five major examples: Smart, Burns, William Blake, William Butler Yeats and Rudyard Kipling. A number of other poets are considered in the course of the book, among them Churchill, Goldsmith, Scott, Shelley and Wilde. The author asks the question why so many poets have been powerfully attracted to the secret societies, and considers the effectiveness of poetry as a medium for conveying complex secret emblems and ritual. She shows how some poets believed that poetry would prove a hidden symbolic language in which to reveal great truths. The longevity of such symbolism as a poetic theme, particularly in Freemasonry, is particularly illuminating. The beliefs of these poets are as diverse as their practice, and the book is an unusually stimulating light on several major poets.” — flap copy

 

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.

What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn

What You Should Know About The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie, with a foreword by Christopher S Hyatt, the fifth and enlarged 1988 printing of the paperback from Falcon Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Israel Regardie What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn from Falcon Press

Apparently, there’s also a 2011 ebook edition of this as well, which may be of interest, which includes at least some new material, from the 2010 New Falcon revised print edition, by Chic and Tabatha Cicero and Regardie’s 1934 Stella Matutina Enochian Examination from his personal archives.

“This fascinating book has been out of print and highly sought after for many years since its first publication as My Rosicrucian Adventure in 1936.

In this work Israel Regardie relates his own personal experience with those secret societies which have exerted such a great influence on the development of modern Occultism.

Regardie lifts the cloak of mystery which has shrouded The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, The Rosicrucian Fraternity, and The Masonic Lodge.

From his close personal association Regardie reveals the true nature and actions of such leading Occult authorities as Aleister Crowley, S.L. MacGregor Mathers, Dr W.W. Westcott, Dion Fortune.

‘Israel Regardie is the last representative of the great occult tradition of the late 19th century, whose major names include Madame Blavatsky, W.B. Yeats, MacGregor Mathers, A.E. Waite, Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune. Even in such distinguished company, Regardie stands out as a figure of central importance.’ — Colin Wilson”

 

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.

Used and Rare Books. September Miscellany, 2013

You may be interested in Weiser Antiquarian Book Catalogue #111: Used and Rare Books. September Miscellany, 2013.

“Amongst the more unusual items are an original sketch by Austin Osman Spare, two first English-language editions of works by the great German mystic Jacob Boehme: Mysterium Magnum (1654) and his Fifth Book (1659); and an apparently unpublished typescript on the esoteric Tarot written by an unidentified author in Cambridge (England) in the nineteen-fifties: The Mystery of the Ancient “Egyptian Tarot.” (1958). A selection of signed books includes a copy of British explorer and mystic philosopher Sir Francis Younghusband’s Within: Thoughts During Convalescence (1914); Michael W. Ford’s Shades of Algol: A Luciferian and Sabbatic Grimoire of Left Hand Path Witchcraft (2002); Helen Kruger’s, Other Healers, Other Cures, (1974); Louis Martinie’s Waters of Return: The Aeonic Flow of Voudoo (1992) and an odd fictional work based on the story of Lilith, Jane Speller’s Adam’s First Wife (1929). A number of works from the library of English Aleister Crowley collector and scholar Nicholas Bishop-Culpeper are also scattered throughout the catalogue. These include a small selection of books relating to the English decadent illustrator Beresford Egan – whose work is best known to Aleister Crowley aficionados on account of his striking dust jacket design for Moonchild, and another group of works by and about Arthur Machen, the Welsh writer of supernatural fiction who was briefly a member of the Hermetic Order of Golden Dawn before joining his friend and sometime literary collaborator Arthur Edward Waite, in the Independent and Rectified Order R.R. et. A.C.. Also from Nicholas’ collection, but mixed throughout the catalogue, are a selection of works, some serious, some silly, and some seriously odd, on Secret Societies. There are also several uncommon books by the incorrigible reprobate of twentieth century occult publishing Lauron William de Laurence, as well as a number of other genuinely unusual items, but we will leave it to the astute bibliophile to hunt them out.” [via]

Clavis Journal, Vol 2: The Cloister Perilous

The Cloister Perilous is volume 2 of Clavis: Journal of Occult Arts, Letters and Experience which is a collaboration between Ouroboros Press and Three Hands Press. This issue, due in October, is available for pre-order and will come in a standard as well as a limited to 125 copies deluxe edition, which last is bound in burgundy goat and comes with a lithograph by Carolyn Hamilton-Giles.

Ouroboros Press Three Hands Press Clavis Journal No 2

“CLAVIS Editions announces the second volume of Clavis: A Journal of Occult Arts, Letters, and Experience. Featuring an outstanding grouping of authors and image-makers, its nominative adumbration ‘The Cloister Perilous’ follows the apocryphal eponym ‘Of Keys, Locks, and Doors’ attributed to Volume 1.

Articles in this issue include ‘Our Lady Babalon and Her Cup of Fornications’ by Gordan Djurdjevic, and esoteric astrologer Austin Coppock’s paean to dark and baneful stellar emanation, ‘Death From Above’. Three adepts of the German magical order Fraternitas Saturni bring forth Gold from Lead, giving voice to the magisterial arcanum of Saturn in the article ‘Listening to the Voice of Silence’, accompanied by the artwork of Albin Grau and Hagen von Tulien. We are also pleased to include ‘Rite of the Graal Evolute’, a previously unpublished ritual and art by the late English magus and scholar Andrew D. Chumbley. Traditional witch Gemma Gary invokes Bwcca, the Cornish Witch-God, in arresting image, rite and magical exposition. Esoteric scholar Henrik Bogdan considers the esoteric role of Secrecy, the very flower of the Occult itself, as it relates to secret societies. Lloyd Graham writes of the magical talismans of Arabian magic, and Aaron Picirillo examines magical self-fashioning. Robert Hull examines the Qabalah of Quantum Physics in ‘Unity and Division’. Michael Howard’s essay ‘Masonic Mysteries of Tubal-Cain’ explores the role of the first artificer of metal in several occult orders. In addition, volume 2 includes several rare occult texts relating to cheiromancy, natural magic, witchcraft and the lore and magic of the Mandragora — the Shrieking Root of the sorcerers.

At 216 pages, CLAVIS Journal 2 features haunting and provocative visuals from many contemporary artists imaging the esoteric: by Madeline von Foerster, Richard Kirk, Carolyn Hamilton-Giles, Tom Allen, Jamie Sweetman, Billy Davis, John Kleckner, Carlos Melgoza, Joseph Uccello, Raven Ebner, Brigid Marlin, Timo Ketola, Ilyas Phaizulline, José Luis Rodríguez Guerra, and many more.” [via]

Time Samplers

Time Samplers from Paranoid American is a comic that may be of interest, written by David Pinckney, Erik Koconis, Thomas Gorence, and Nicolas Colacitti. Colacitti is also the artist.

Time Samplers, Issue 1, cover

“Two popular underground musicians (Lex & Cal) modify their electronic instruments and gear, allowing them to recreate any event in history. Through a combination of music, technology, particle theory, altered states, and a bit of the old ultra-violence, they begin to unravel the ugly truths of recorded history – proving that many ‘conspiracy theories’ are fact.”

“This project aims to make alternative history more accessible through interactive graphic novels, games, and more. The stories cover ongoing research into secret societies, mind control, government cover-ups, and corruption from both past and present, with each adventure reflecting a different conspiracy-theory corresponding to actual research.” [via]

Time Samplers, Issue 1, sample page

The Geometry of Art and Life

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Geometry of Art and Life by Matila Ghyka:

Matila Ghyka's The Geometry of Art and Life

 

This book is a genuine math book, not a mere popularization of mathematical ideas. Despite the fact that it has only 174 pages, of which 80 are dedicated to illustrative plates, full appreciation requires a slow “read” of formulas, equations, and tables — especially in the first half of the book, which treats the mathematical features of key proportions and the features of regular plane and solid figures. I was especially fascinated by the extensive discussion of Archimedean solids, which were new to me. The later chapters address the prevalence of such mathematical patterns in biological and artistic phenomena.

With respect to the “geometry of life” (which is treated before art in the book, contrary to the sequence in the title), this book shows its mid-20th-century age by being ignorant of fractal dimension and non-linear self-similarity. The mathematics of natural forms was revolutionized just one generation later than this book’s issuance. The later discoveries of Benoit Mandelbrot and others were greatly facilitated by automated computing. Still, Ghyka’s chapter on the topic is a concise summation of the earlier state of knowledge, and these concepts were not invalidated by fractal geometry.

The most significant portion of the “geometry of art” addresses the use of proportional canons in classical and gothic architecture, as rediscovered by modern scholars. Ghyka endorses a theory of the “transmission of geometrical symbols and plans” which implicates the ancient mysteries and asserts a continuity through medieval stonemasons to modern secret societies. There is no mention, however, of the further participation of isopsephy in the classical schemes. (For that, see David Fideler’s Jesus Christ, Sun of God.) The final chapter discusses conscious and unconscious applications of “symphonic symmetry” in modern art.

I enjoyed this little volume hugely, and I recommend it to anyone who shares my interests in mathematics, morphogenesis, and mysticism. [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.

The Secret History of the World

The Secret History of the World by Mark Booth, from Overlook Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Mark Booth's The Secret History of the World

At times derisory and ridiculous, at times cloyingly panderingly truthy, but, as Booth asks the reader in the introduction to approach this text “as an imaginative exercise,” this is a pretty much an amusing guilty pleasure summer read. At least it isn’t as abysmal as LIFE The Hidden World of Secret Societies, right? This made the New York Times Bestseller list, so as a sort of widely exposed, soft introduction for the novice, this might, maybe, be a book that could spark some conversations, and lead the reader to more serious material. This is from the same publisher behind The Book of English Magic, which I reviewed a while ago, and it occurs to me the latter could follow the former in a series for the YA or non-academic reader interested in such things.

“They say that history is written by the victors. But what if history—or what we come to know as history—has been written by the wrong people? What if everything we’ve been told is only part of the story?

In this groundbreaking and now famous work, Mark Booth embarks on an enthralling tour of our world’s secret histories. Starting from a dangerous premise—that everything we’ve known about our world’s past is corrupted, and that the stories put forward by the various cults and mystery schools throughout history are true-Booth produces nothing short of an alternate history of the past 3,000 years.

From Greek and Egyptian mythology to Jewish folklore, from Christian cults to Freemasons, from Charlemagne to Don Quixote, from George Washington to Hitler—Booth shows that history needs a revolutionary rethink, and he has 3,000 years of hidden wisdom to back it up.”

 

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.