Meyrink begins this 1921 novel by making some startling claims for the reality of its clearly mythic protagonist Christopher Dovecote. The tale alternates among biographical narrative, visionary episodes, and didactic explication of the latter. It offers little in the way of resolution, but rather ends with the intensification of and insistence on its central enigmas.
There’s no physical adventure: everything (material) takes place in a small Bavarian town. A form of occultism is taken as the necessary complement of Christian religion, with allusive Freemasonry as the most exoteric reflection of the occult, and a nebulous (Taoist? the jacket copy thinks so) form of Asian adeptship as its origin. The account reviles Spiritualism as a deception by malign powers, and Charismatic Catholicism as no better.
Science fiction author John Clute introduces the Daedalus/Ariadne Press edition, with some fascinating information about Meyrink, and the situation of The White Dominican in the author’s total oeuvre. Clute does provide some “spoilers,” and can be skipped at the first pass by those who fear such things. He also spends a little too much attention on the fact that Meyrink’s tale doesn’t fit neatly into Clute’s ethics of gender.
This brief novel is sure to be savored by serious occultists in general. The fact that it was not available in English until 1994 may account for its not being as well-known among contemporary magicians as it deserves to be. As a Thelemite, I found it intriguing with respect to possible interpretations of Liber Legis I:30 and II:44. [via]
The Legacy of the Beast: The Life, Work, and Influence of Aleister Crowley by Gerald Suster, with foreword by Francis X King, the 1989 paperback from Samuel Weiser, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“Tracing the roots of Crowley’s ideas and demonstrating their enduring relevance, Gerald Suster has produced a much-needed reappraisal of the ‘Great Beast’ and his continuing influence, as well as fascinating exposition of a supremely practical spiritual discipline.
Casting a critical but sympathetic eye over Crowley’s writings, the author reveals a man of enormous and original intellectual gifts, whose contributions to the understanding of the occult sciences are matched only by his daring experiments in the development of human consciousness. Crowley’s own magical system encompassed Buddhism, ritual magic, the Qabalah, Yoga, the Tarot and Taoism, though its most original element derived from the personal revelations Crowley received in Cairo in 1904 and which formed the basis of his most important work—and perhaps the most important occult work of the century—The Book of the Law.”
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.