Tag Archives: theory and practice

So much of what magicians have taken for granted this century stems from the work of the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley. Much of what will constitute standard magical theory and practice in the next century will derive from the state-of-the-art ideas and techniques currently under development in Chaos Magic.

Phil Hine, Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic

Hermetic quote Hine Condensed granted

Liber AL: an examination

Liber AL: an examination is a recent release from Conjoined Creation. Although not mentioned on the page for this book, it appears this being released by Marlene Cornelius and is in part an expanded reissue of material that appeared in the journal Red Flame, No 8.

Liber AL from Conjoined Creation

“Thelema, the religious philosophy of ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,’ began when Liber AL vel Legis was received by Aleister Crowley in April 1904. Liber AL, also known as The Book of the Law, is the central holy book of Thelema, and forms the foundation of Thelemic theory and practice. It has therefore been the subject of intense study by Thelemites for over a century.

The Book of the Law has been of interest to many people over the last century and has impacted innumerable lives. The research in Liber AL: an examination is of great importance to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Thelema’s foundational text, whether or not one is a Thelemite.

Liber AL: an examination brings together for the first time several scholarly expositions of different aspects of The Book of the Law, including a detailed review of its publication history and an exact transliteration of the manuscript with notations regarding changes made to it by Aleister Crowley during the course of his life. It also includes an exploration of a recent debate about whether the typescript as published by Crowley may contain a printing error that was never corrected.” [via]

Babalon, Enochian Magick, and Music with Lon Milo DuQuette on Jun 30 in Sacramento

You may be interested in “Babalon, Enochian Magick, and Music with Lon Milo DuQuette in Sacramento!” an event being presented by The College of Thelema of Northern California and the Temple of the Silver Star which will be a day with a couple lectures and a musical performance by Lon Milo DuQuette on Sun, Jun 30th in Sacramento, CA.

Babalon, Enochian Magick, and Music with Lon Milo DuQuette

“Sunday, June 30, 2013
at the Soror Meral Building
Sacramento, California

Schedule of Events:

1pm Lecture: Babalon and the Abyss: the Ultimate Attainment

Explore the mysteries of the crossing of the ‘Abyss’; and learn about the nature of Babalon, the Thelemic archetype of the all-encompassing goddess.

3pm Lecture: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Enochian Magick

Learn the basic theory as well as the practical tools necessary to begin work with this powerful system of ceremonial magick.

5pm Musical performance by Lon Milo DuQuette

6pm Reception. Lon will be available to sign his books, so bring your copies! A limited number of Lon’s books and related titles will also be available for purchase.

Lon’s lectures and performances are both thought-provoking and tremendously entertaining. It’s quite unusual to learn so much and have so much fun on the same occasion. Don’t miss this opportunity to see Lon in person!” [via]

Liber Nigri Solis

Liber Nigri Solis edited by Victor Voronov is available for pre-order from Theion Publishing in limited standard edition, although the deluxe “Auric” edition is already sold out.

Victor Voronov's Liber Nigri Solis from Theion Publishing

Liber Nigri Solis, edited by Victor Voronov, elaborates the occult, magical and initiatory work of two esoteric orders. Presenting the aeonic history, mythic imagery, and arcane aesthetics of the Black Sun along with its alchemical and astrological aspects and significances, this opus includes a concise though multi-faceted esoteric system in theory and practice suitable for work with the Black Sun on microcosmic, mesocosmic, and macrocosmic levels. It will enable solitary practitioners and occult colleagues alike to cultivate the Gnosis of the Sol Niger through self-initiatory workings, rites, and operations of sinister alchemy.

The reader will be provided with eighteen keys which open the nine Infernal Gates and the nine Gates of Radiant Darkness, ultimately leading to the vision of the Black Sun, which radiates twelve Crooked Paths that cross the nine Thresholds. The text also expounds significant concepts such as the Fivefold Unmanifest or the Grand Chymical Conjunction of the arcane Black Suns that unveils the fiery gates of the Inverse Opus. Beyond researches concerning the sunspot cycle and cosmological considerations pertaining to Indo-Iranian mythology, substantial theoretical and operative material concerning plague-magic and epidemics has been included.

Liber Nigri Solis is a truly controversial grimoire and whether one agrees or not with all of its antinomian gnosis and sinister strategies, the uniqueness, sophistication and otherworldly power of its system is undeniable.

Lavishly illustrated with artwork commissioned especially for this book, Liber Nigri Solis also features a fascinating, elaborate introduction by Dr. Eva Kingsepp of Stockholm University.” [via]

Carnal Alchemy

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Carnal Alchemy: A Sado-Magical Exploration of Pleasure, Pain and Self-Transformation by Crystal Dawn and Stephen E Flowers [also] from the closed Runa-Raven Press:

Crystal Dawn and Stephen E Flowers' Carnal Alchemy from Runa-Raven Press


What a title! That truly exquisite pairing of words raised expectations in this reader that would not be easily fulfilled. The more specific promise of the cover blurb is the treatment of “Sadomasochistic sexuality…combined with spiritual or magical aims.” The authors claim to be the first to offer a book-length study of the topic, and so far as I know, they did indeed break some new ground on the publishing side.

But perhaps there is a reason that this particular soil had been untilled. As the authors must frequently admit in various cautions to the reader, such experiences and techniques are best transmitted in the flesh, not on paper. So this text is happily devoid of cookbook ritual instructions. What it does attempt to convey are 1) an historical survey, 2) a magical theory; 3) a notion of the range of possible practice, and 4) leads for further study and practice.

The historical survey, while fascinating, is not a pinnacle of scholarship. Statements like, “The A∴A∴ did not fulfill its function as Crowley had envisioned it,” cast a shadow of doubt over other information presented by the authors. The theory and practice sections are in the manner of a primer, and will best serve those who are new to either magical theory or S/M practice. In general, the authors do not seem to be suggesting any departures from existing techniques of S/M, but simply stressing the addition of a magical sensibility to the work. The leads for further investigation include a couple of helpful bibliographies and listings of addresses for various groups and suppliers.

Running throughout the text is a thread of shameless self-promotion for the author’s own magical order, the Order of the Triskelion. This firmly traditional feature of magical writing culminates in a full manifesto appended to the book.

Overall, Carnal Alchemy seems to fall a little short of its goal of boldly defining a new field within current sex-magical practice. It could certainly be an eye-opener for those ignorant of such technologies, and it remains an intriguing curiosity for those already working with them. [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 Occult Mind

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Occult Mind: Magic in Theory and Practice by Christopher I. Lehrich:

Christopher I Lehrich's The Occult Mind from Cornell University Press


I’m so profoundly impressed with Lehrich’s The Occult Mind that I hardly know where to start reviewing it. Perhaps I should point out that the title (as contrasted with the borrowed subtitle Magic in Theory and Practice) is not much reflected by the contents. This book is not about psychology (“mind”), nor does the word “occult” appear in the text as a technical term, or very frequently at all. It is a book about magic as signifying the occult sciences, taking the early modern cases of Bruno, Dee, and Kircher as paradigmatic. But the operation performed throughout the book is theory (in a sense indistinguishable from the “practice” of intellectuals), and the Renaissance magi are treated as theoreticians on a comparative footing with their twentieth-century reader/successors Frances Yates, Mircea Eliade, and Claude Levi-Strauss.

Lehrich stares down and embraces the difficulties and necessities of comparativism and historicism, using these (and other) highly enigmatic and suspect figures as his points of exploration. In the process, his reflections on theory engage subjects ranging from Noh drama to tarot divination to musical composition. He does not (could hardly) claim to have delivered a new historical or comparative method, but only to have explicated his gropings towards one.

Among the book’s many other positive features, it deserves applause for harvesting theoretical perspective (and a piece of indispensable jargon) from the fiction of John Crowley. It is no casual read: prior familiarity with structuralist anthropology and Derridean deconstruction are useful, and it is hard to imagine it holding the attention of a reader unversed in any of the modern scholars with whom Lehrich enters into conversation. For those who are mentally equipped to consume it, however, it offers the nearest possible thing to proof that rather than being a history of “nonsense,” the legacy of the occult sciences is in fact a history of the sense of sense, a record of skilled attempts (however unproductive) to grapple with the very nature of meaning and its creation.

Superlative. [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.

A few preliminary prepared remarks for those early in their study of Esotericism

Occasionally, I am contacted by people who are interested in the Western Esoteric Tradition, but are overwhelmed by the daunting amount of information available. They’ve found the Hermetic Library because they’re looking for information, but sometimes it can be really difficult to know where to start.

Well, honestly, I always hesitate to suggest directions and such for anyone, let alone someone I’ve never met. However, I have over the last few years managed to put together some general ideas in response to these questions when they come my way. Here’s an example of a few remarks I currently have prepared, that I thought I’d share here now.


First, I point out that I have no idea what path someone else is on, what ‘current’ or tradition they work in. There are so many, and it seems to me that anything specific about one person’s practice is not necessarily useful or suited for another’s, even if under a ‘tradition’, a general label, for which I might share a similar understanding. With that said, I suggest people consider thinking about work developing two things: theory and practice.

For theory, of course, I encourage people to read through and engage the materials at the Hermetic Library site. (If one is interested in Thelema, a good place to start is by checking out Thelema for example.) There’s a lot there, to be sure. However, there’s plenty that is not there. One technique that I’ve suggested to people is to head to a good esoteric bookshop. I don’t recommend the big chains or the fluffy new age kind of shop, but there should be, somewhere local if not nearby, a shop with a serious selection. (If there isn’t one of those latter kinds of shops, then one can made do with one of the former.) Go into that shop and start checking out books. Flip through materials until something really grabs the attention, and that one feels an enthusiastic reaction about. Now, I want to be clear: I am not saying that the material creates warm and fuzzy feelings, though it might be. I suggest taking note of anything that gets one’s attention even if, perhaps specifically because, that is something that seems transgressive and edgy. For this purpose look for things about which there are energetic reactions of any kind. Once something like that has been found, read it. Repeat that process: follow enthusiasm!

For practice, consider starting a daily practice that includes both ritual and journaling. Don’t think of the specifics of daily practice as a life-long commitment. Think of daily practice as general container for a varied series of specific experiments about which to record results in a journal. Pick a specific practice and make a commitment to do that for a month. See what happens. Record the experience, the ongoing results. Then, pick something else to do for some period of time. And remember that for experiments it’s actually the failures from which one can learn the most interesting things, so don’t self-flagellate about the particular experience and results. Just do the experiments, and if they fail half way through so be it, record that a journal as something to learn from. Experiment, experiment, experiment.

Also, for practice, consider checking the local area for groups that are actively doing public ritual of some kind, and attend those events. At that previous good esoteric book shop, look for their newsletter, bulletin board or website for notices and a calendar of events. Get to know people doing these activities and talk to them. See if they are people that seem both interesting and grounded or not. Attend a variety of events in the local area and see what they are about, and how you feel during and after the ritual they celebrate; compare them and see what seems to be the best personal fit. Then, when there is some group doing active ritual that seems compelling, start to participate.


So I suggest that people follow enthusiasm and experiment, experiment, experiment. Do a personal daily practice and participate in the community. I personally think doing some combination which works toward all those things will help people find their people and more fully follow their path, and perhaps more importantly have a strong relationship with themselves and a strong personal practice either way, from which to take next steps.


I hope these remarks offer some help, even if only a little bit. Of course, each individual’s milage may vary, and so on. If you have comments or suggestions about these remarks, do consider contacting me. If you take the advice offered, consider letting me know how it goes, if you like!


In conclusion, I find these Cole Porter lyrics to be so completely spot on that I cannot but recommend them to everyone when I get a chance: “Experiment” by Cole Porter

Before you leave these portals
To meet less fortunate mortals
There’s just one final message
I would give to you

You all have learned reliance
On the sacred teachings of science
So I hope, through life, you never will decline
In spite of Philistine defiance
To do what all good scientists do

Experiment, make it your motto day and night
Experiment and it will lead you to the light
The apple on the top of the tree is never too high to achieve
So take an example from Eve

Experiment, be curious
Though interfering friends may frown
Get furious
At each attempt to hold you down

If this advice you always employ
The future can offer you infinite joy
And merriment, experiment and you’ll see


So, Joshua Madara, over at hyperRitual, is trying to start up something with robots and magick. You might be interested in helping get robomancy, um, you know, up and running!

Robomancy Teaser from Joshua Madara on Vimeo.

“One of the major themes I explore in my work at hyperRitual is the mediation of magic, especially through digital, electronic, and new media. Magicians often employ various artifacts to express their intentions or alter their states of consciousness: wands, cups, daggers, pentacles, drums, bells, incense, candles, cards, stones, and many other things might be interacted with in the context of a magic ritual or to communicate a magical idea. I believe we can interact with robots in these contexts, and that their animated and responsive natures allow for novel ritual designs and magical experiences. Here is an example that I recently exhibited.

So, here is my pitch: I want to write a book about robotic magic (robomancy). The first that I know of. Actually, more than that: I want to create a community of robomancy enthusiasts. I don’t want to write something people will read and say, “Wow, this is cool, but I don’t know how to build or program robots.” I want to make something that inspires magicians to make robots, and inspires roboticians to make magic, and that uniquely shows how to do each in the context of the other.

Now, while I love fine occult books, and have friends who write and publish them, I want to make a living, online book that needs not wait for a second edition because it is continually updated with new information, ideas, and designs. A book with (embedded, not auxiliary) multimedia including HD video; hyperlinks; file downloads; interactive programs; and integrated social media so readers can discuss and share their own ideas and works, all within the same cyberspace.

Thus, Robomancy.com, in two parts:

Robomancy in Theory and Practice (A TalisManual of RobotiCraft) will feature reflections on and applications in robotic thaumaturgy and theurgy including a variety of magical and ritual designs involving astral, virtual, and mechanical robots, and techniques for blending magic and robotics to help you create your own designs. In order to appeal to a wide audience including novices to robotics, the book’s examples will use free, open-source, and/or affordable technologies popular with amateurs and hobbyists. The book will be rife with links to supplementary resources, and will observe the principles of Open Sourcery while conserving some of the aesthetic, curiosity, and mystery of talismanic books and the grimoire tradition. All content will be licensed under Creative Commons to encourage re/distribution, adaptation, and, most of all, participation.

The Robomancers’ Guild will be an integrated social network including discussion forum, robomancer blogs (you can have your own!), and access to member swag, exclusive content, and special offers as a way of showing gratitude to participants.

The site is expected to go live at the end of this year (December 2012).” [via]