Tag Archives: will

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a Dream by Francesco Colonna, translated by another fellow Joscelyn Godwin [also] from Thames & Hudson:

Francesco Colonna and Joscelyn Godwin's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili from Thames & Hudson

 

For half a millenium, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili has been one of the great literary enigmas of the Italian Renaissance. This book, the title of which is translated as “The Strife of Love in a Dream,” was written by the Dominican monk Francesco Colonna in the late 15th century. It consists of the amatory adventures of one Poliphilo, who dreams of a search for his love Polia among spectacles of ancient buildings, sculptures and gardens frequented by the gods of pagan antiquity.

Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia does in fact constitute a “missing link” between two critical antecedents of Aleister Crowley’s Thelema: Saint Augustine and Francois Rabelais. Augustine, who wrote “Love, and do what thou wilt,” proposed that the spiritual trinity within the human soul was composed of memory, understanding, and will. In the Hypnerotomachia, Poliphilo represents memory, and he is given two guides: Logistica (understanding) and Thelemia (will). Eventually, when forced to choose between their counsel, he follows Thelemia in deciding upon the path of erotic fulfillment over the options of worldly glory and ascetic contemplation. Florence Weinberg has suggested that Rabelais, who certainly read Colonna and explicitly acknowledged him, was inspired by Colonna’s Thelemia in assigning the name Theleme to his utopian abbey.

The Hypnerotomachia was written in a curious and largely impenatrable “pedantesca,” supplementing the Tuscan vernacular with many Greek and Latin neologisms. One partial translation into English by “R.D.” was published during the Renaissance, when it was also translated into French. The book aroused the most interest in French readers of the 16th and 17th centuries, who usually understood it as an alchemical allegory. Anglophone scholars tended to concentrate attention on the innovative woodcut illustrations, rather than the text. Since 1999 Joscelyn Godwin’s complete and lucid English translation (now available in a more economical second edition) has made it available to readers in a new and powerful way. [via]

 

 

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In Nomine Babalon, XCV

XCV

The queen on her throne by the waters so still,

The unbroken surface reflecting her will.

Peaceful and tranquil is her illusion,

I raise up the cup and adore Babalon!

In Nomine Babalon: 156 Adorations to the Scarlet Goddess

 

The Hermetic Library arts and letters pool is a project to publish poetry, prose and art that is inspired by or manifests the Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to submit your work for consideration as part of the Arts and Letters pool, contact the librarian.

Reflection

Hermetic Library fellow Beth Kimbell has posted about sacrifice necessary to follow one’s bliss at “Reflection“.

“As Thelemites, it is incubant upon us to seek that, and when we find it, to do that thing and not the myriad other amusements that tempt us from our path. We spend years in self-reflection trying to determine what this bliss is, sometimes catching glimpses, impressions, or feelings of that next step which will bring us closer to our goal.

In all that time, have you asked yourself what price you are willing to pay? Will you sacrifice the love and companionship of friends or family that actively work against your goal? Will you spend the years of effort, eschewing the quick and easy rewards, for your ultimate goal? Will you cast the dice, gambling your comfortable existence to answer the call of your soul?” [via]

What’s Wrong with the Movies? by Aleister Crowley in Vanity Fair, Jul 1917.

“But his successors have not his willpower. To-day every inartistic man in a movie production must needs have a finger in the artistic pie. Some of their suggestions may possibly be good, some bad; but the unity and coherence of the author’s conceptions are lost, and the outcome is a muddle. Ne sutor ultra crepidam. Too many cooks spoil the broth.” [via]

The question of “Why English culture is bewitched by magic” keeps coming back to Aleister Crowley

The question of “Why English culture is bewitched by magic” keeps coming back to Aleister Crowley in “Why English culture is bewitched by magic” from Damien Walter’s weird things at The Guardian.

 


Exerting influence … Aleister Crowley. Photograph: Hulton Getty

 

“English occultist, bohemian and author Aleister Crowley defined magick as ‘the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will’. Crowley’s will was aided by the inheritance age 11 of a tidy fortune, and took him on a hedonistic ride through a life of sex, drugs and occult practice. Member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, founder of the mystery religion of Thelema, self declared spiritual master and Magus and, significantly, accomplished chess player, Crowley revelled in his notoriety as “the wickedest man alive”. The Great Beast’s polyamorous lifestyle would barely contend for such a title in today’s more liberal and permissive world, and the philosophy of ordering your world in line with your will is one that seems entirely accepted in our individualist society.”

“No writer today is more associated with Englishness and magic than Neil Gaiman. Aleister Crowley makes a caricature appearance in the very first issue of The Sandman, as the magus Roderick Burgess, whose failed attempt to summon Death herself launched Gaiman’s comic series.”

“Magic seems to live at the heart of English identity, as much today as millennia ago if the hordes reading Harry Potter are any indication. But even if we assume, as most rational Guardian-reading folk no doubt will, that magic is nothing but hokum, poppycock and superstition, it’s interesting to ask why it has such a profound hold over our popular imagination. Perhaps Crowley, magus and chess master, provides a possible answer. As any good player knows, the strategies of chess are as relevant in the real world as on the playing board, and many a politician has studied that game to understand the larger games of politics and power.

Perhaps magic is another kind of game, where the symbols and theatricality of the occult mask metaphors for power to help us understand the ‘science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will’. No wonder we English, living with the lingering ghosts of Empire, an unreformed class system, and the complexities of a post-industrial economy, find such fascination in it.”

Egyptian Magic in Egyptian Magic by Florence Farr.

“Rituals or Ceremonies now simply regarded as a waste of time by those who have to assist at their celebration, had a potent effect when the symbolism of each action was fully recognised, and when the imagination was extended and ultra-sensitive, and the Will concentrated firmly and repeatedly, on the object to be accomplished.” [via]