Tag Archives: symbolism

Yeats, the Tarot, and the Golden Dawn

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Yeats, the Tarot, and the Golden Dawn [Amazon, Local Library] by Kathleen Raine.

Raine Yeats the Tarot and the Golden Dawn

This slender monograph was developed from a paper presented in scholarly sessions on Yeats in 1968, published in 1972, and revised in 1976. In its closing passage, it refers to itself as “this most superficial study of Yeats’s use of the symbolism of magic acquired through the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” (74). Author Kathleen Raine appears to have been in the vanguard of academic research on the esoteric interests and activities of Yeats. She is the dedicatee (“to whom else …?”) of George Mills Harper’s much lengthier 1975 Yeats’s Golden Dawn.

Raine’s preliminary remarks on the historical sources and general applications of Tarot symbolism are sensible and well-informed. She follows these with a history of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, citing reliable sources from among those available in the 1960s and 70s, but here she makes a few odd blunders. For example, she takes the “Roseae Rubeae” and “Aureae Crucis” to have been the “two higher degrees” of the Inner Order (5), when the Inner Order in fact had three grades and “The Ruby Rose and Cross of Gold” was the name of the Order itself.

The 1976 second edition is very amply illustrated in black and white with images of Tarot cards and drawings from Golden Dawn ritual manuscripts. These are all fascinating and well chosen to support the text. I was especially intrigued by the inclusion of cards from the Tarot packs actually owned and used by Yeats and his wife, even though his was a quite conventional Italian deck and hers was the familiar Marseilles design.

At the outset of the second of the text’s two sections, Raine demonstrates that the Stella Matutina ritual for the Zelator grade includes conscious paraphrasing from William Blake (42-3). Her suggestion that pioneering Blake editor Yeats was then necessarily involved in the original composition of the ritual depends crucially on the rather dubious “if the passage belongs to the original text and is not a later addition.” As a general matter, her analyses are weakened by taking the Regardie exposures of the later Stella Matutina rituals as authentic texts of the Golden Dawn order in which Yeats had been initiated. She would have been better served, in fact, to work from Aleister Crowley’s exposures published in The Equinox as Book II of “The Temple of Solomon the King.”

Although Raine consistently disparages Yeats’s esoteric antagonist Crowley as an author of “bad verse” (46), she did find it worthwhile to include reproductions of many Frieda Harris Tarot cards with long captions quoting Crowley on the cards’ symbolism. She even surprised me by suggesting that Yeats’s The Resurrection (1931) may have had a debt to Crowley (47-8). However, I think she erred in pointing to Liber Legis III:34 as the influential text, when Yeats was quite evidently riffing on the Hellas chorus by Shelley (“The world’s great age begins anew”)–a text familiar and dear to Crowley, who used it for the solar benediction at the end of his theatrical ceremony “The Rite of Mars.” (A corollary question: Was Liber Legis influenced by Shelley?)

The most important element of Raine’s study, and one with which I take no exception, is her explanation of the relationship of Yeats’s magical training to his literary production. I am now perhaps sufficiently motivated to read Yeats’s A Vision, which has been on my shelf for decades.

But in this story, as in so many others, what we really discern is the deceptive, ambiguous, and giddy riddle of violence, passion, poetry, and symbolism that lies at the heart of Greek myth and refuses to be solved. An algebra too unstable properly to be computed, it is human-shaped and god-shaped, not pure and mathematical.

Stephen Fry, Mythos [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher]

Hermetic quote Fry Mythos human-shaped god-shaped not pure and mathematical

Symbol and the Symbolic

Symbol and the Symbolic: Ancient Egypt, Science, and the Evolution of Consciousness by R A Schwaller de Lubicz, from Inner Traditions, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

R A Scwaller de Lubicz Symbol and the Symbolic from Inner Traditions

“R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz spent fifteen years studying the art and architecture of the Temple of Luxor. In Symbol and the Symbolic, he explains that true progress in human thought can be made only if we call upon the ‘symbolizing’ faculty of intelligence, the faculty developed and refined in the Temple Culture of ancient Egypt and reflected in the hieroglyphs that have come down to us undisturbed. The mentality of ancient Egypt, argues the author, helps free us from our present intellectual impasse, while ‘symbolism’ must be recognized as the intuitive means of overcoming the limitations of reason.

Schwaller de Lubicz contrasts two opposing views: the analytic, mechanistic mentality of modern science and the synthetic, vitalist mentality of ancient Egyptian Sacred Science. He posits that only a symbolic mentality, like that cultivated in the Egyptian Temple, can think without objectifying and therefore can synthetically conceive the paradoxes inherent in the intimate life of matter, or nature in its ongoing genesis. Modern science has evolved to a new opening of consciousness confronted with paradoxes that reason alone cannot contend with. It will have to rise to a symbolic mode in order to integrate the complements in vital phenomena. Schwaller de Lubicz observes that in the past, fundamental and all-encompassing revolutions in the social, moral, and intellectual conditions of human life have coincided with the precession of the equinox. We are again in such a transition. If man does not destroy himself through premature application of principles belonging to a stage of consciousness that he has not yet fully attained—that is, through the manipulation of matter—modern science will be able to evolve into an analogue of Egyptian science. It will no longer seek knowledge through analysis but, with the expansion of consciousness, will evolve toward ‘direct synthetic vision.'” — back cover

The Tree

The Tree: A Jungian Journey: Tales in Psycho-Mythology by J Marvin Spiegelman, a 1982 paperback from Falcon Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

J Marvin Spiegelman The Tree from Falcon Press

“Henry Miller, the author of Tropic of Cancer and numerous other works of major stature, states:

‘For me it was like sailing down a stream whose shores and everything bordering them was as familiar to me as if I had dreamt it a thousand times. I say familiar, but not stale. Rather like encountering in your sleep old dreams which you knew by heart but had not dreamt for many and many a year. Therefore extremely vivid and exciting. Or I could put it another way and say it was like presenting the quintessence of all one’s spiritual experiences.’

Israel Regardie, the Western World’s foremost authority on occultism and magic, states:

‘Here is the whole Jungian corpus in a nutshell, spelled out brilliantly in the form of original stories, fables, myths and parables. Each is beautifully written, intriguing, commanding one’s full attention. Spiegelman is highly imaginative, a truly creative psychologist.

He deals symbolically with the process of individuation, the growth to be oneself, the movement Godward. As such, it is the story of the Great Work, the noblest story and Work of them all, told with simplicity and deep sincerity.'” — back cover


The Mysteries

The Mysteries: Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks, edited by Joseph Campbell, the 1990 fifth paperback printing of Bollingen Series XXX Vol 2 from Princeton University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Joseph Campbell The Mysteries from Princeton University Press / Bollingen

“Since 1933, the Eranos Conferences have been held at Ascona in southern Switzerland. Distinguished scholars from Europe, Asia, and America have been invited to a ‘shared feast’ (eranos) and have lectured on themes chosen by the Director of Eranos, the late Olga Froebe-Kapteyn. The lectures originally appeared in the Eranos-Jahrbücher (Zurich) and selections translated into English have been published in Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks, of which this is the second volume. Thirteen scholars—including C. G. Jung, C. Kerényi, Walter F. Otto, and Hugo Rahner—are represented in this collection, which is drawn from the years 1936, 1939m 1940–41, 1942, and 1944. The volume is edited by Joseph Campbell and translated by Ralph Manheim and R.F.C. Hull.” — back cover

Essays included are:

  • Paul Masson-Oursel, “The Indian Theories of Redemption in the Frame of the Religions of Salvation”
  • Paul Masson-Oursel, “The Doctrine of Grace in the Religious Thought of India”
  • Walter F. Otto, “The Meaning of the Eleusinian Mysteries”
  • Carl Kerényi, “The Mysteries of the Kabeiroi”
  • Walter Wili, “The Orphic Mysteries and the Greek Spirit”
  • Paul Schmitt, “The Ancient Mysteries in the Society of Their Time, Their Transformation and Most Recent Echoes”
  • Georges Nagel, “The ‘Mysteries’ of Osiris in Ancient Egypt”
  • Jean de Manasce, “The Mysteries and the Religion of Iran”
  • Fritz Meier, “The Mystery of the Ka’ba: Symbol and Reality in Islamic Mysticism”
  • Max Pulver, “Jesus’ Round Dance and Crucifixion According to the Acts of St. John”
  • Hans Leisegang, “The Mystery of the Serpent”
  • Julius Baum, “Symbolic Representations of the Eucharist”
  • C G Jung, “Transformation Symbolism in the Mass”
  • Hugo Rahner, “The Christian Mystery and the Pagan Mysteries.”


The Temple Legend

The Temple Legend and the Golden Legend, 20 lectures by Rudolf Steiner, given in Berlin between May, 1904–January, 1906, on Freemasonry and related occult movements from the contents of the Esoteric School, a 2002 reprint edition paperback from Rudolf Steiner Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Rudolf Steiner The Temple Legend and the Golden Legend from Rudolf Steiner Press

“In these unique lectures, give to members of his Esoteric School (1904–14), Rudolf Steiner’s main intention is to throw light on the hidden content of the picture-language of myths, sagas and legends. Pictures, he explains, are the real origin of all things—the primeval spiritual causes. In the ancient past people assimilated these pictures through myths and legends. In order to work in a healthy way with pictures or symbols today, however, it is necessary that one should first become acquainted with their esoteric content—to understand them.

At the time of these lectures Steiner was planning to inaugurate the second section of the Esoteric School, which was to deal in a direct way with a renewal—out of his own spiritual approach—of ritual and symbolism. he gave these lectures as a necessary preparation, to clarify the history and nature of the cultic tradition. he this discusses principally Freemasonry and its background, but also the Rosicrucians, Manichaeism, the Druids, the Prometheus Saga, the Lost Temple, Cain and Abel—and much else besides.” — back cover

The Serpent Myth

The Serpent Myth by William Wynn Westcott and Arthur Edward Waite, edited by Darcy Kuntz, Vol 9 of the Golden Dawn Studies Series, the 2006 third revised and enhanced edition published by J D Holmes, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

William Wynn Westcott Arthur Edward Waite The Serpent Myth

“An excellent treatise on this ancient symbol from the inner knowledge of the Golden Dawn system. First edition published in 1996. Revised with A. E. Waite’s paper on the Serpent Myth in 2001.” [via]

The Magic of a Symbol

The Magic of a Symbol by Florence Farr, edited with an introduction by Darcy Kuntz, Vol 6 of the Golden Dawn Studies Series, the 2005 second revised edition published by J D Holmes, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Florence Farr The Magic of a Symbol

“This book contains Florence Farr’s ideas on Symbolism, the Kabbalah, Egyptian Magic, the Vedanta, Rosicrucians, Alchemy and the Tree of Life. Edited with Introductory Note by Darcy Kuntz.” [via]

Secrets of a Golden Dawn Temple

Secrets of a Golden Dawn Temple: The Alchemy and Crafting of Magickal Implements (Llewellyn’s Golden Dawn Series) by Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, the 1992 paperback from Llewellyn Publications, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Sandra Tabatha Cicero Chic Cicero Secrets of a Golden Dawn Temple from Llewellyn Publications

  • Read the first book to describe all Golden Dawn implements and tools in complete detail!
  • See photos and drawings of almost 80 different tools
  • Learn the exact symbolism of each implement
  • Conduct new, never-before published rituals

A Must-Have for Every Student of the Western Magickal Tradition

From its inception 100 years ago, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn continues to be the authority on magick. Yet the books written on the Golden Dawn system have fallen far short in explaining how to construct the tools and implements necessary for ritual. Now, with The Secrets of a Golden Dawn Temple, you get a unique compilation of the various tools used, all described in full: wands, ritual clothing, elemental tools, Enochian tablets, altars, temple furniture, banners, lamens, admission badges and much more.

This was republished by Llewellyn in two parts as Creating Magical Tools: The Magician’s Craft (1999) and Ritual Use of Magical Tools: Resources for the Ceremonial Magician (2000). The first of these two appear to have been published again by a new publisher, Thoth Publications, in 2004, as far as I can tell without its mate, as Secrets of a Golden Dawn Temple, Book 1: Creating Magical Tools.

Sandra Tabatha Cicero Chic Cicero Ritual Use of Magical Tools from Llewellyn Publications

Back in the day, Half Price Books in Seattle had a veritable metric ton of the two volume edition from Llewellyn, and they hung around for quite a while before the first volume completely disappeared in what seemed to me a sudden surprising rush leaving behind the second volume to linger on for quite a bit longer on its own. For some reason I never pick up the first in time, but did grab the second before it too finally sold out. Of course, the first was the one I should have grabbed instead. Years later, I did pick up the original single volume complete edition so that I’d have the construction plans and instructions.

 

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