“The so-called 'Left-Hand Path' - that of Kaulas, Siddhas and Viras - combines the... Tantric worldview with a doctrine of the Ɯbermensch which would put Nietzsche to shame... The Vira - which is to say: the 'heroic' man of Tantrism - seeks to sever all bonds, to overcome all duality between good and evil, honor and shame, virtue and guilt. Tantrism is the supreme path of the absolute absence of law - of shvecchacarÄ«, a word meaning 'he whose law is his own will'." ― Julius Evola, The Path of Cinnabar.

“It is necessary to have “watchers” at hand who will bear witness to the values of Tradition in ever more uncompromising and firm ways, as the anti-traditional forces grow in strength. Even though these values cannot be achieved, it does not mean that they amount to mere “ideas.” These are measures…. Let people of our time talk about these things with condescension as if they were anachronistic and anti-historical; we know that this is an alibi for their defeat. Let us leave modern men to their “truths” and let us only be concerned about one thing: to keep standing amid a world of ruins.” ― Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World: Politics, Religion, and Social Order in the Kali Yuga.

“We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who died at his post during the eruption of Vesuvius because someone forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one that can not be taken from a man.” ― Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics: A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Magicians of the Civil War

Currently there is an exhorbatantly priced rebound volume of the first edition of Francis Barrett's THE MAGUS (1801) for sale on ebay. The interesting thing about this particular copy of the book is that it is inscribed (pre-war), along with an interesting occult drawing, by Union General Ethan Allen Hitchcock.

The seller's description reads thus (including horrific spelling/punctuation errors):
THE MAGUS 1801 LACKINGTON IMPRINT BY FRANCIS BARETT bound in black pebbled cloth with split calf backstrip and corners quartered off.Old bookplate chalice and athame by member of R.C. no doubt and ceremonial magician affixed inside pastedown.Magic squares corrected in dead hand.Library circular stamp effects hand colored plates of Demons that includes the famous INCUBUS illustration seen in all scholarly and non scholarly compilation works of magic.The volume lacks plate BOOK OF SPELLS that does not appear to have been bound into this copy from inspection in gutter.It is however re produced by me on teh final blank/endpaper  in pen and inks and hand colored.A loosely inserted leaf from the Weiser edition facsimile is provided as well as a well printed example on glossy paper from a work on magic that referenced this work of magic and provided rare examples from illustrated specimens of the 1801 edition.Corners are nice and square.A very clean book with no damping, tide marks,silverfish,mold and unpleasant things that can mare such a rare volume of Historic significance. The MAGUS was used by the likes of Eliphas Levi and likely used as a hot topic in subterfuge by Lord Lytton who may have based ZANONI on the mysterious F.B.  It is also known to have been a sourcebook of the great HERMETIC ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN that instructed the likes of William Butler Yeats and the father of modern magiK ALEISTER CROWLEY.While the VICTORIAN WOMAN in this order had been great socialites ,poets , and actress and lovers of great authors and philsophers .Florence Farr to name but one beauty of that once great temple of the Muses.  and THE MAGUS stands as a fountain of that Order and others.The work makes use of Agrippa and other authors of magic but puts it into a system geared toward the art MAGIA by a practicioner.Francis Barett is considered a Rosicrucian and as such the work is Christian kabbalah and mysticism. This copy does have the long S that resembles a f thus a TRUE FIRST EDITION.It also contains the foldout of hebraic characters yet another point of first edition.Other than Circulat stamp on demons aquatints it is a superb copy. On a interesting note; The founding father of Mormon Joseph Smith is believed to have used a talisman from this book .The MAGUS does in fact give instructions on how to communicate with angelic beings and the inverse orders known as Demons.Joseph Smith communicated with Angelic beings who inscribed upon Gold Tablets the book that is known as Mormon.  together with a unique work with American Provenance as it was owned and is signed by GENERAL ETHAN ALLEN HITCHCOCK and is signed with respect to WARREN CHASE- ST LOUIS ( VIEW PICTURE OF SIGNATURE ) The inscription is on a blank endpaper that has imprint assignation on the reverse by publisher.

Hitchock's biographical details can be read here:
"Ethan Allen Hitchcock (May 18, 1798 – August 5, 1870) was a career United States Army officer and author who had War Department assignments in Washington, D.C., during the American Civil War, in which he served as a major general..." 

Worth noting:
Known as the "Pen of the Army," Ethan Allen Hitchcock was recognized by his contemporaries as an avid reader of philosophy and a published scholar. By the time of his death, Hitchcock had amassed a large private library of philosophical texts, including over 250 volumes on the subject of alchemy. This collection was widely regarded as one of the finest private holdings of rare alchemical works and is preserved by St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Through Remarks upon Alchemy and the Alchemists and other writings, Hitchcock argued that the alchemists were actually religious philosophers writing in symbolism. In Problems of Mysticism and its Symbolism, the Viennese psychologist Herbert Silberer credited Hitchcock with helping to open the way for his explorations of the psychological content of alchemy. Hitchcock was a Rosicrucian and a member in Washington D. C. club along with Lincoln.

I'm wagering the "Warren Chase" that the book is inscribed to is Warren Chase (1813-1891) :
One of the first apostles of Spiritualism in America. Born in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, Chase began to study mesmerism in Southport, Wisconsin, by 1843. He was street commissioner and road master at the time, and discussed both this subject and Charles Fourier's scheme of socialism in the local lyceum through that winter. The result was a socialist settlement in May 1844 in Fond-du-Lac County. The Wisconsin Phalanx, as the community was known, lasted for six years. It was the only one of the experiments that yielded, at the time of dis-solution, substantial profit to its members. After the dissolution Chase began to take a more active part in politics, became a senator in Wisconsin in 1848, and was nominated for governor the following year.
The philosophy of Andrew Jackson Davis made a deep impression on him, and when the Spiritualist movement was born, he became its untiring apostle for over thirty years. His Spiritualist experiences are embodied in his Forty Years on the Spiritual Rostrum (1888) and his socialist activities in The Life Line of the Lone One, an Autobiography of the World's Child (1857).

My first awareness of Hitchcock was via Manley P. Hall's reprint of The Red Book of Appin which I still have in my library. The Hitchcock collection of Alchemical books and manuscripts at the St. Louis Mercantile Library can be found here:

With the following description:

M-108: The Ethan Allen Hitchcock Alchemy Collection

HISTORY: For over a millenium, the field of alchemy gathered to it strands of religion, the occult, chemistry, pure science, astrology and magic to form a broad world view that was, quite apart from the stereotypical image of the charlatan gold maker, concerned with the formation of a basic knowledge on all aspects of life’s great mysteries. Alchemy was a beacon for centuries for those looking for a philosophical basis to the better understanding of life and its philosophical underpinnings. Over the centuries, certain individuals stand out for their authorship of vast texts in this philosophy; others as collectors of a literary genre.

Ethan Allen Hitchcock showed both of these tendencies as author and collector regarding the subject of alchemy. Born in 1798, this soldier, the grandson of Ethan Allen of Revolutionary War fame, and military tactical expert and instructor at West Point, continued to collect and author treatises on his true avocation, a deep interest in alchemical philosophy. Hitchcock lived intermittently in St. Louis, reached the rank of Major General, and produced a valuable set of memoirs concerning his life on the frontier and in service during the Mexican War. At the time of his death, he had amassed over 250 volumes on the subject of alchemy, which his nephew, Henry Hitchcock, a St. Louis attorney, presented to the Mercantile Library on July 17, 1884.
The collection, originally numbered item by item, has been virtually preserved as the day acquired. During the past century, the Hitchcock collection served to attract related books to the Library, and these materials were added to the collection from stack holdings as the collection was studied and catalogued in the 1980s to modern bibliographical standards under the terms of a grant for this purpose given by National Endowment for the Humanities.
SCOPE: This significant private library is a fascinating testament to the tastes of the remarkable individual, E.A. Hitchcock, who was so involved in important military and political events of his day. Not only Hitchcock’s philosophical interests, but also the history of science to his time is represented in this collection, which spans the Renaissance and early modern period, to the nineteenth century.
HOLDINGS: 350 bound volumes of early manuscripts and printed books, some illuminated.
ACCESS: Special Collection M-108 has been catalogued and fully described on OCLC. A published calendar exists, A Guide to the Ethan Allen Hitchcock Alchemy Collection in the St. Louis Mercantile Library, (1990). Some of the collection may be photocopied, digitally scanned or photographed, depending on condition.

Barrett's The Magus "borrows" wholesale from Aggrippa's The Three Books of Occult Philosophy, to a degree akin to the borrowing from Eliphas Levi's Transcendental Magic by Confederate General Albert Pike in his Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Scottish Freemasonry.

I have not fully researched if there is any explicit evidence that Pike (or Hitchcock for that matter) actually practiced ritual magic, but it is interesting to note that two generals who fought in the Civil War were substantially familiar with the works of Francis Barrett and Eliphas Levi.
Some information on Gen. Pike can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Pike
Albert Pike (December 29, 1809–April 2, 1891) was an attorney, Confederate officer, writer, and Freemason. Pike is the only Confederate military officer or figure to be honored with an outdoor statue in Washington, D.C. (in Judiciary Square) mostly due to his masonic connection with President Andrew Johnson, who pardoned Pike for treason after the American Civil War.
...Pike was faced with charges that his troops had scalped soldiers in the field. Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman also charged Pike with mishandling of money and material, ordering his arrest. Both these charges were later found to be considerably lacking in evidence; nevertheless Pike, facing arrest, escaped into the hills of Arkansas, sending his resignation from the Confederate Army on July 12. He was at length arrested on November 3 under charges of insubordination and treason, and held briefly in Warren, Texas, but his resignation was accepted on November 11 and he was allowed to return to Arkansas.
...He first joined the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 1840 then had in the interim joined a Masonic Lodge and become extremely active in the affairs of the organization, being elected Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite's Southern Jurisdiction in 1859. He remained Sovereign Grand Commander for the remainder of his life (a total of thirty-two years), devoting a large amount of his time to developing the rituals of the order. Notably, he published a book called Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in 1871, of which there were several subsequent editions. Pike is still regarded in America as an eminent and influential Freemason.

The famous portrait of Gen. Albert Pike by Matthew Brady:

There has been an ocean of garbage written about the Levi/Pike textual relation that I won't bother reiterating it here. It is sufficiently interesting that the cornerstone works of 19th century western occultism were well known to individuals in high places in the USA prior to the founding of the Order of the Golden Dawn, which through the writings of its members would nearly eclipse everything written prior on the subject. Magic had a solid presence in the Americas, as has been documented by Owen Davies in chapter six of his excellent book Grimoires - A History of Magic Books published by Oxford University Press, although Pike and Hitchcock are outside the scope of his narrative and not discussed at all.  (Although I think he does mention the Joseph Smith/Francis Barrett connection).

Hitchcock was from Vermont and wound up in Missouri. Pike was from Mass. but lived and traveled in Missouri, Arkansas and other places before and after the war. I have not researched enough to find out of Hitchcock and Pike had any interaction or knowledge of one another.

An interesting chapter in the history of the venerable Occult-Military-Intelligence Complex.


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