Accordingly, if we want to understand our current transformational patterns, we must try to discover the living myths of today’s world—the things we actually believe in—and the gods we truly worship.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 26th, 2014
“Unconditional Forecast. It is a Black Sun. 100% Certainty.” — Space: 1999, “Black Sun,” November 1975 [via]
- Professor Bergman in Space: 1999, “Black Sun” [HT Unmann-Wittering]; from the thin-blue-line dept.
“There is a thin line between science and mysticism.”
- Reginald Dalton in Blackwood’s Standard Novels, Vol X; from the gpoy dept.
“Suddenly the clock strikes twelve, and the Frater Bibliothecarius whispers, ‘Dinner!’ […] the western sun staining with admonitory glories the painted window over against the successful negociator, the sudden half-sorrowful, half-ecstatic departure.—There is a life and truth about the whole affair that must send their charm into every bosom and force, even from the man that prefers a book to a title-page, a momentary echo of, ‘I should like to dine with this Nongtong-paw.'”
- “Before the Garden Gnome, the Ornamental Hermit: a Real Person Paid to Dress Like a Druid” — Allison Meier, Atlas Obscura; from the we’ll-make-great-pets dept.
“The ornamental hermit vanished at the end of the 18th century. In The Hermit in the Garden, [Gordon] Campbell chronicles the remains in a ‘catalogue of hermitages,’ listing whether they are destroyed, extant, or never built at all. However, the humble hermit may not have left us entirely. As Campbell argues, ‘the garden hermit evolved from the antiquarian druid and eventually declined into the garden gnome.'”
- “The future of the library catalogue“, a presentation from Facet Publishing about Catalogue 2.0: The Future of the Library Catalogue, edited by Sally Chambers; from the met-a-data-for-drinks dept.
- Amy Brose quoting presenters at Library Tech Conference 2014, via tweet [HT Nancy Sims]; from the golem dept.
“if there is a theme from this conference it is the library should help the community create things.”
- “Black Mirror” — Arts University Bournemouth; from the get-to-the-art-of-the-matter dept.
“Black Mirror is a new research network based at the Arts University Bournemouth. The intent of the network is to explore the influence and role of enchantment, esotericism, the occult and magic in modernist and contemporary art. […] To document the project, a special series of peer-reviewed publications will be issued by Fulgur Esoterica.”
- “Vatican Library to digitise archives with Japanese support” — BBC News Europe; from the but-what’s-the-cocaine-and-condoms-for dept.
“The Vatican Library has begun digitising its priceless collection of ancient manuscripts dating from the origins of the Church. The first stage of the project will cover some 3,000 handwritten documents over the next four years. […] Eventually, the library says it hopes to make available online all its 82,000 manuscripts.”
- “Snowden At SXSW: Encryption Is ‘defense Against The Dark Arts In The Digital Realm’” — Ellen Rolfes, PBS Newshour; from the gonna-wash-that-horcrux-right-out-of-my-hair dept.
“‘We need to think about encryption not as black magic but as something that works,’ [Edward] Snowden said. “It’s the defense against the dark arts in the digital realm.'”
- Laverna — “Store your notes anonymously and encrypted”
- Loomio — “The world needs a better way to make decisions together.”
- Kardbord — “Fast, simple, real-time collaboration.”
- Hermetic Library anthology artist Galen Wade‘s Iconoclast
- Hermetic Library anthology artist The Implicit Order‘s It’s Hard To Tell The Singer From The Song
- “How to become a Mage (or Fairy): Joséphin Péladan’s Initiation for the Masses” — Sasha Chaitow; from the art-you-here-to-a-muse-me dept.
“Immensely prolific, discredited during his lifetime, Joséphin Péladan (1858–1918) constructed a vast, complex, yet coherent oeuvre with the purpose of demonstrating the transformative power of art by manifesting the highest ideals on the material plane, in response to the social decadence he perceived in in-de-siècle French society. Central to Péladan’s vision was his conception of artists as initiates: select individuals who could bring a small part of the divine into the mundane sphere. […] His goal was to inspire his readers to seek a more ideal existence through a form of self-initiation that he dubbed kaloprosopia, an art of transformation of personality through a life lived as a work of art.”
- “When did Thelema become the Westboro Baptist Church?” — Nick Farrell; from the thelemites-as-tourists dept.
“Where were the Thelemites who disagreed? If these three are wrong in their interpretation of the Book of the Law then why aren’t people pointing out their error? Why is it left to outsiders to be horrified that a modern religion can go this way? If they continue to permit this sort of anti-evolutionary thinking, they will end up in same position that Christianity is.”
- “Embracing Questions” — Thomas Zwollo, Spiral Nature; from the thelemites-as-scientismists dept.
“For instance, Crowley was quick to experiment with rituals, invent news approaches to magic and initiation, and challenge established structures and groups. Now we find advocates within the Thelemic community bristling at any kind of experimentation.”
- Richard Feynman quoted in “We need more scientific mavericks” — The Guardian Letters; from the where-is-your-science-now dept.
“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts”
- John Selden quoted at “Disputes in Religion” and “A Magnificent Feast” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti [also]; from the mind-your-own-business dept.
“Disputes in religion will never be ended, because there wants a measure by which the business should be decided. … One says one thing, and another another; and there is, I say, no measure to end the controversy. … It is so: it is not so: it is so: it is not so; crying thus one to another a quarter of an hour together.”
“How glorious soever the church is, every one chooses out of it his own religion, by which he governs himself, and lets the rest alone.”
- Ovid, Metamorphoses, quoted at “Bumblehive” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti; from the welcome-to-the-matrix dept.
“There is a place in the middle of the world, ‘twixt land and sea and sky, the meeting-point of the threefold universe. From this place, whatever is, however far away, is seen, and every word penetrates to these hollow ears. … Here is Credulity, here is heedless Error, unfounded Joy and panic Fear; here sudden Sedition and unauthentic Whisperings. Rumour herself beholds all that is done in heaven, on sea and land, and searches throughout the world for news.”
- And now, this important announcement from Mad Malik (aka Greg Hill) — Adam Gorightly, Historia Discordia; from the we-love-you-spider dept.
“In the event of severe political supression, a private communication system can still function for those who had the foresight to establish one. […] It requires little maintenance whether used or not, but the result is a large ‘spiderweb’ network.”
- “Learning Magic” — Ian Corrigan, Into the Mound; from the no-man-is-an-island dept.
“The new student should not plan on being a unique genius.
Instead, the new student should read traditional books and find a working teacher (that applies to learning magic, gymnastics or saxophone). Plan to spend a few years doing exercises and experiments, duplicating previous efforts, and building skills. Of course we all pursue our little personal schemes along the way, and eventually we get enough skill to actually try them.
There’s no short-cut. You can’t just ‘listen to your heart’. You have to listen to other people.”
- “Magicians are Opinionated Assholes” — Rufus Opus, Head for the Red; from the here-we-are-now-entertain-us dept.
“A group of powerful egomaniacs with really healthy levels of self-esteem are likely to behave a lot like we really do in real life.”
- “The Suitcase At The End Of The Earth” — Gordon White, Rune Soup; from the i-and-i dept.
“One of chaos magic’s least-used constructs is the possibility that you lack an authentic self. If you are so inclined, it provides you with a gringo, late-capitalist variant of Buddhist ‘non-being’. Seeing the world this way offers you supreme performative flexibility.”
- Interview with Jim Morrison by Lizzie James; from the take-a-mask-from-the-ancient-gallery dept.
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your senses for an act. You give up your ability to feel and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
- “A triangular book about alchemy” — John Coulthart, feuilleton; from the one-less-corner-to-land-on-your-toe-tho dept.
“from the Manly Palmer Hall collection of alchemical manuscripts at the Internet Archive, not only a triangular book but one where most of the pages are written in a symbolic alphabet”
- “Where were globally known Religious Figures born? [1850 — 1950]” — Pantheon: Mapping Historical Cultural Production, Macro Connections Group at MIT Media Lab.
- Mentions of keywords Aleister Crowley and Thelema in books from 1800-2008 — Google Books Ngram Viewer.
Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth by Gananath Obeyesekere.
Obeyesekere works through a project of “comparative structural interpretation” (354), using simplified and idealized models of the processes described by rebirth doctrines within and among various cultures. One of his goals is to demonstrate that reincarnation “eschatologies” are not unique to Indic religions, as is sometimes supposed. The societies that furnish Obeyesekere with ethnological data are Vedanta and Upanishadic Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism, West Africa, Trobriand, Northwest Coast Amerindians, Inuit, Tlingit, Kwakiutl, Classical Hellenism (as Pythagoreanism and Platonism), “Heterodox Islam” (as Druzes and Ismailism), and Bali. He omits the kabbalistic metempsychosis of mystical Judaism, as well as some Australian and Asian cultures of reincarnation, noting that he is especially interested in those who hold beliefs permitting cross-species rebirth of humans. This latter idea he ties to the notion of “species sentience” (his term) and relates structurally to vegetarianism, by means of an endoanthropophagy (cannibalism) taboo.
Obeyesekere distinguishes a “karmic eschatology” from the basic “rebirth eschatology” according to the presence of two features, which he groups under the process of “ethicization” of the reincarnation process. The first feature is a differentiation of post-mortem otherworld experiences based on the ethical status of the deceased. The second is the ethicization of rebirth per se, so that the ethical value of one life has the determinative effect on the identity and quality of the next life. (He notes that this latter feature correlates to a devaluation of animals, when compared to rebirth schemas that lack it.) Tied to this ethicization is the establishment of a salvation that lies outside the cycle of rebirth altogether. Obeyesekere also asserts a parallel process of “axiologization,” by which preexisting local values are conceptualized and universalized. While outlining his model of the “karmic eschatology,” he counters Western descriptions (or “inventions”) of Buddhism as essentially and originally “rational” (151 ff.).
Having constructed the model of Buddhist rebirth ideas, with reference to those of “small-scale societies,” Obeyesekere compares it to other cultures under his consideration. He also discusses instances of deviance from the model within Buddhism (e.g. 132), and variability within the other cultures. None are presented as static or uniform, but the structure(s) described by Obeyesekere serve(s) as a strange attractor around which the instances group themselves, according to “expectability” and its circumstantial thwarting. He emphasizes (e.g. 139) that “popular” features durably contradicting “pure” doctrines are as likely to be survivals from the religion’s first codification as they are to be “contaminations” from a subsequent, alien source.
He explains that his methodological goal is to demonstrate that while cultures as wholes may be “incommensurable,” comparison of important aspects or dimensions of culture can be undertaken productively. Although I found plenty of his more specific arguments questionable (often provocatively so), I think he succeeds on this most general plane of his ambition. [via]
Aristotle’s Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages by Richard E Rubenstein, a 2003 hardcover from Harcourt, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“The astonishing story of revelation and transformation in the Middle Ages. When Aristotle’s lost works were translated and available once again, the medieval world was galvanized, the Church and the universities were forever changed, and the stage was set for the Renaissance.” — back cover
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.
“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 Mysteries: Rudolf Steiner’s Writings on Spiritual Initiation, selected and introduced by Andrew Welburn, the 1997 hardcover from Floris Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“Rudolf Steiner wrote and spoke extensively on the lasting value of the ancient Mysteries as an essential source for understanding the Christian experience. His view was that modern rationality did not banish the deeper patterns of spiritual initiation but was rather, in the very foundations of our thought, a transformation of early Mystery structures and processes. We should therefore look to the Mysteries for an illumination of our spiritual, intellectual and religious history as well as for insight into our evolutionary future.
This collection of extracts from Steiner’s books and lectures includes his account of the mystical and mythical patterns of the ancient world, the pre-Socratic and the Platonic philosophers, the initiation Mysteries of Egypt and the Orient, and finally his commentary on the Apocalypse of St. John. Around this collection, Welburn examines the Mystery school against the background of their time, and their relevance to Christianity and the world today.” — flap copy
In my reading of Red Mars, the first of Robinson’s Mars books, I detected an esoteric infrastructure for the saga of the First Hundred, cast according to the pattern of the gods of ancient Egypt and their legendary deeds. The esotericism of this sequel is alchemical, as openly signaled in the first of its ten parts, but carried through in more subtle details as well as the overarching structure. Ann Clayborne reflects at one point on the nomenclature of areography, which is remarkably alchemical when Robinson translates it into English, not that Ann notices:
“Only on Mars did they walk about in an horrendous mishmash of the dreams of the past, causing who knew what disastrous misapprehensions of the real terrain: the Lake of the Sun, the Plain of Gold, the Red Sea, Peacock Mountain, the Lake of the Phoenix, Cimmeria, Arcadia, the Gulf of Pearls, the Gordian Knot, Styx, Hades, Utopia….” (121)
As with the first book, the novella-length components alternately follow different principal characters, most of whom are still members of the original expedition, now well into their second (terrestrial) century of life. These characters accordingly are driven to reflect on memory, both in actuality and theory. The two new focal characters are Nirgal (a native Martian of first Hundred parentage) and Art Randolph, an new immigrant sent as a liaison to the Martian underground from one of Earth’s metanational corporations.
This middle book of the trilogy is a tale of transformation that describes the accomplishment of the Martian biosphere and political independence. As with the first, it is replete with political and scientific meditations, anchored in the travails of admirable but credibly fallible central characters. The lore of Big Man and the little red people of Mars (272-274) also acknowledges the vital presence of a fantasy dimension, that is nevertheless not deeply explored. The end of the book is clearly only the beginning of a story, although it does deliver some satisfaction in its own right. [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.
Apollon, qui pleurait le trépas d’Hyacinthe,
Ne voulait pas céder la victoire à la mort.
Il fallait que son âme, adepte de l’essor,
Trouvât pour la beauté une alchimie plus sainte.
Donc, de sa main céleste il épuise, il éreinte
Les dons les plus subtils de la divine Flore.
Leurs corps brisés soupirent une exhalaison d’or
Dont il nous recueillait la goutte de l’Absinthe!
Aux cavernes blotties, aux palais pétillants,
Par un, par deux, buvez ce breuvage d’aimant.
Car c’est un sortilège, un propos de dictame;
Ce vin d’opal pale avortit la misère,
Ouvre de la beauté l’intime sanctuaire
— Ensorcelle mon cœur, extasie mon âme!
Apollo, who mourned at Hyacinthe’s demise,
Refused to concede this victory to Death.
Much better that the soul, adept in transformation,
Had to find a holy alchemy for beauty.
Thus with his celestial hand he drained and crushed
The subtlest harvest of the garden goddess,
The broken bodies of the herbs yielding a golden essence
From which we measure out our first drop—of Absinthe!
In lowly hovels and in glittering courts,
Alone, in pairs, drink up this potion of desire!
For it is sorcery—as one might say—
When the pale opal wine ends all misery,
Opens beauty’s most intimate sanctuary—
—Bewitches my heart, and exalts my soul in ecstasy!