Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Occult in the Age of Enlightenment

from Twenty-first century Britain is a society in which the fascination with the ‘occult’ is flourishing. Paul Kléber Monod’s new book seeks to illuminate one phase of the convoluted history of this phenomenon: its fate and fortunes during the long 18th century. The period 1650-1815 is synonymous with the onward march of scientific reason and the onset of the Enlightenment. It is widely assumed that these developments consigned esoteric knowledge of the supernatural to the category of ‘superstition’ and undermined its credibility in educated circles. Solomon’s Secret Arts is a spirited challenge to this still influential narrative. It vigorously contests the view that serious intellectual interest in astrology, alchemy and ritual magic was a casualty of the rise of Newtonian science and rationalist thinking. Monod approaches the occult as ‘an old ritual garment, worked and reworked at regular intervals’, an ‘invented tradition’ that has repeatedly adapted itself to new cultural conditions. He sees it as a ‘hybrid plant’ comprised of two chief strands: a tradition of Renaissance thinking rooted in Gnosticism, Hermeticism and Neoplatonism and a set of practical techniques for accessing spiritual power.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Getting Started In The Western Mystery Tradition

from Getting started in the Western Mystery Tradition is a very exciting affair. It is full of intrigue, novelty, real magic and adventure. It is a rich and complex Tradition, very meaningful and deeply personal.

It is not surprising then, that the aspirant often jumps in impulsively! It is commendable that they are excited. However, with such a vast field of study, it is wise to begin with a definite plan of action. This is true of any venture one wants to succeed in, especially that of practical occultism.

The author of this text has at this point 11 years of experience within the Builders Of The Adytum (also known as B.O.T.A. ), and three years solitary practice of the Golden Dawn material. This fourteen years immersed in the Western Mysteries really is just a beginning, but it has given the author enough time and effort at examining his own experiences to have accumulated some observations about the Mysteries, and getting the most from them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Genesis Creation: Babylonian Enuma Elish?

from The Enuma Elish is a Babylonian creation myth that is named after its opening words, "When on high.” It was discovered in the ancient Royal Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (current day Mosul, Iraq) in 1849.  George Smith translated the text and released his work in 1876 in the book, The Chaldean Account of Genesis.

In an article entitled “Why Does the Universe Look so Old?” Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, counted the Enuma Elish among the “Four Great Challenges to the Traditional Reading of Genesis” (Acts and Facts, October 2010).  He writes, “As scholars began to study these documents, some began to see Genesis as just one more ancient Near Eastern creation story.”  Needless to say, the ancient myth has been the catalyst for much skepticism regarding the creation account in Genesis.

It seems that the discovery and research of the Enuma Elish has brought about at least two major claims against the Genesis account of creation.  First, because the Enuma Elish and Genesis creation account have many similarities, it is argued that Moses must have used the Enuma Elish as a source for his own creation account.  Second, because the Enuma Elish exists as a Near Eastern creation myth, along with a handful of others, it is argued that Genesis, being a Near Eastern creation account, must also be a myth.  Both objections are best answered by detailing the vast differences between the two accounts, and understanding that the nature of Genesis is far different than any of the ancient Near Eastern myths.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Importance of the Legend of Hiram Abiff

from The legend of "Hiram, the widow's son," is the foundation of Freemasonry's ritualistic drama of the third, or Master's Degree. While it would be improper to reveal the details of the drama as it is presented in the lodge room, or to make public the ritualistic secrets and symbolism which it contains, the story of Hiram is so well known and has been referred to in Masonic writings so frequently that it has become a part of the cultural heritage of civilized men everywhere.

Briefly stated, the Hiramic legend is as follows: When Solomon, King of Israel, under-took the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, he sent to Hiram, King of Tyre, for materials and assistance. In exchange for agricultural products like corn and wine and oil, King Hiram sent Solomon cedar trees cut from the forests of Lebanon and a skilled and cunning worker in metals. These facts may be found in the Old Testament, especially in Chapter 7 of I Kings and Chapter 2 of 11 Chronicles, where the skilled artisan, named Hiram, is referred to as the "son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali" whose husband was "a man of Tyre."

This much of the Masonic legend of Hiram comes from the Bible; but the story known to Masons has a tragically different development. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Devil's Dictionary

from Ambrose Bierce was published as The Cynic’s Word Book. It was Bierce’s preference that the book — a collection of satirical definitions which he had written for various newspapers “in a desultory way at long intervals” from 1881 to 1906 — be called The Devil’s Dictionary, but publishers had always been nervous about the anti-religious implications of the title. In 1906, American bookshelves were flooded with “a score of ‘cynic’ books — The Cynic’s This, The Cynic’s That, The Cynic’s t’Other,” to name a few.

As far as those other “cynic” books were concerned, Bierce added, “most” were “merely stupid, though some of them added the distinction of silliness. Among them, they brought the word ’cynic’ into disfavor so deep that any book bearing it was discredited in advance of publication.” As Bierce wrote his definitions for various newspapers columns over the years, they had appeared under a variety of names: The Cynic’s Dictionary, The Demon’s Dictionary, The Cynic’s Word Book. But no title was ever as satisfying as the one he finally demanded. One hundred years ago, in 1911, Bierce got his wish when the work was published as The Devil’s Dictionary.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Argos Panoptes – A 100 eye giant or something else?

from Argos Panoptes was one of the primordial giants of the Greek mythology. His epithet ‘Panoptes’ means the one who is all-seeing, which reminds us of the symbol of the ‘all seeing eye’ of God. However, Panoptes was an epithet that was also used for the god Zeus. Argos Panoptes was the son of Arestor, whose wife was Mycene from whom the Mycenaean civilization and the Homeric city of Mycenae got its name. Argos is described as having 100 eyes, according to the Greek mythology.

Probably this was a feature attributed to him in an allegoric way, showing his ability to perceive everything from any angle. Whenever he slept not all of the eyes would be closed, there was always at least one eye open. He is usually depicted with multiple eyes on his body (see image above). As we can see, even if he was mentioned as a ‘monster’ in reality he was a giant, a god, with super abilities.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Complex Life of Giordano Bruno

from Giordano Bruno was a 16th century philosopher, theologian, and monk who was an early supporter of Copernicus’s heliocentric model of the universe. He was also burned at the stake by the Catholic church in 1600 at the age of 42 after being found guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition. That combination of circumstances has sometimes led to him being portrayed as the first martyr for modern science at the hands of religion. The somewhat ominous-looking image of the bronze statue of the brooding Bruno that is sited at the location of his execution in Campo de’ Fiori in Rome has become iconic.