Tag Archives: travel

The Sign and the Seal

The Sign and the Seal: The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant [Amazon, Abebooks, Bookshop, Local Library] by Graham Hancock, reviewed by Julianus in the Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews archive.

Hancock The Sign and the Seal

Much as I enjoy Hancock’s other books on ancient history, I still find this to be his best, not least because of the personal significance his quest assumed. To say that Hancock was searching for the lost Ark of the Covenant of the Israelites is a little inaccurate. Hancock started by learning that the Ethiopian Church claims to possess the Ark in the city of Axum and then trying to establish a) if they are right and b) how it could have gotten there. The first question remains unanswered since no one is allowed to examine the Ark, but the second question took Hancock all over the Middle East and Africa in a fascinating quest with all the unexpected twists you could wish for. It will come as no surprise that the Knights Templar and Freemasonry wind up playing a crucial role here, and I will assure the reader that they were certainly not tacked on to fullfil a conspiracy-hunter’s agenda. Over the course of the book Hancock builds an excellent circumstantial case for the Ethiopian claim and provides some remarkable insights into early Judaism, which was very different from its modern form. This is required reading for anyone interested in the subjects covered.

Journey home in the rain

Journey home in the rain” is a travelogue field recording with music track added by Mphillips71 in the Hermetic Library audio pool.

 

The Hermetic Library audio pool is a participatory place for sharing sounds and music of a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to submit your work for consideration as part of the audio pool, head over to the Hermetic Library audio pool or contact the librarian.

More on the Copiale cipher and the revealed rites of a secret society of Oculists

I’d posted previously about the success made cracking the Copiale cipher, and that the text revealed the ritual of a previously lost German secret order called the Great Enlightened Society of Oculists, at “The Book of Law of the Venerable Secret Order of the Eye“. Today I noticed that over on Danger Room, there’s a nice long-form piece by Noah Shachtman about this that offers quite a bit of narrative and more information at “They Cracked This 250 Year-Old Code, And Found a Secret Society Inside“. There’s also images of several items used by the society to gander at there as well, such as a blindfold with lenses and more, including the personal narrative by Shachtman of traveling to see the trove of materials first hand.

“The master wears an amulet with a blue eye in the center. Before him, a candidate kneels in the candlelit room, surrounded by microscopes and surgical implements. The year is roughly 1746. The initiation has begun.

The master places a piece of paper in front of the candidate and orders him to put on a pair of eyeglasses. “Read,” the master commands. The candidate squints, but it’s an impossible task. The page is blank.

The candidate is told not to panic; there is hope for his vision to improve. The master wipes the candidate’s eyes with a cloth and orders preparation for the surgery to commence. He selects a pair of tweezers from the table. The other members in attendance raise their candles.

The master starts plucking hairs from the candidate’s eyebrow. This is a ritualistic procedure; no flesh is cut. But these are “symbolic actions out of which none are without meaning,” the master assures the candidate. The candidate places his hand on the master’s amulet. Try reading again, the master says, replacing the first page with another. This page is filled with handwritten text. Congratulations, brother, the members say. Now you can see.” [via]

“It was the fall of 1998, and Schaefer was about to leave Berlin to take a job in the linguistics department at Uppsala University, north of Stockholm. Hock announced that he had a going-away present for Schaefer.

She was a little surprised—a parting gift seemed an oddly personal gesture for such a reserved colleague. Still more surprising was the present itself: a large brown paper envelope marked with the words top secret and a series of strange symbols.

Schaefer opened it. Inside was a note that read, “Something for those long Swedish winter nights.” It was paper-clipped to 100 or so photocopied pages filled with a handwritten script that made no sense to her whatsoever:

Arrows, shapes, and runes. Mathematical symbols and Roman letters, alternately accented and unadorned. Clearly it was some kind of cipher. Schaefer pelted Hock with questions about the manuscript’s contents. Hock deflected her with laughter, mentioning only that the original text might be Albanian. Other than that, Hock said, she’d have to find her own answers.” [via]