“The so-called 'Left-Hand Path' - that of Kaulas, Siddhas and Viras - combines the... Tantric worldview with a doctrine of the Übermensch 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 shvecchacarī, 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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Allegory of Philosophy - School of Albrecht Dürer (1504)

Here we have the Allegory of Philosophy engraving from Conradus Celtes, Quatuor libri amorum (1502). Sophia of course being the central figure, the laurel garland and vines shoots crowning her represent the different branches of knowledge she personifies. The four winds depicted in each corner are equated with the four elements and four humors; Eurus/Fire/Choleric, Zephir/Air/Sanguine, Auster/Water/Phlegmatic, Boreas/Earth/Melancholic. The medallions surrounding her represent the principal Hermetic traditions from antiquity to the time of the figure; Egypt & Chaldea, Greek, Latin, and Germanic. The letters inscribed or represented in the ray emanating from the heart are in all the languages of the wisdom tradition; Egyptian hieroglyphs, Hebrew characters, and Greek and Latin letters. The central figure of wisdom depicted as a mature woman holding the scepter and book may be iconographically derived from De consolatione Philosophiae of Severinus Boethius. She is surrounded by a wreath in the shape of the vesica piscies or mandorla, akin to that appearing in various iconographic representations of Phanes and Christ. It is easy to see the confluence of iconology and symbolism reflected in Trumps II. La Papesse, and XXI. Le Monde, in the Traditional Tarots of Marseille, as well as earlier Tarots emerging from a similar milieu. -- JDS.

Allegory of Philosophy - School of Albrecht Dürer (1504)

Nicholas Conver Tarot (c. 1760)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ars Memoranda & Rationarum Evangelistarum

I first came across these images in The Medieval Craft of Memory: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures ed. by Mary Carruthers and Jam M. Ziolkowski, University of Pennsylvania Press (2002), p.255-293. Their source cited is Ars Memorandi: A Facsimilie of the Text and Woodcuts printed by Thomas Ansheim at Pfroheim in 1502. Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Library, Harvard University Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, 1981.
These are coded mnemonic images used to recall specific passages of the gospels based on the symbolic images of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The symbols of the evangelists are derived from the Old Testament visions of Ezekiel and the vision of St. John in The Apocalypse. In the West, the beasts of St. John's vision are usually associated with the evangelists as follows: Matthew is represented by a man; Mark by the lion; Luke by the bull; and John by the eagle. These symbols often appear alone, in iconography and illuminated manuscripts, either with attributes such as wings, halos, and books, or without. They sometimes accompany portraits of the evangelists, or they are sometimes conflated with human figures to form anthropomorphic symbols.

These four animal/evangelist symbols will be familiar to students of Tarot iconography, where they are also associated with the four elements, cardinal directions, and astrological signs; Matthew = Man = Aquarius = Air = East; Mark = Lion = Leo = Fire = South; Luke = Bull = Earth = Taurus = North; John = Eagle = Scorpio = Water = West. These are typically pictured in the corners of the XXI Trump "Le Monde" or "The World" framing the Vescica Piscis, Mandorla, or Almond-shaped wreath framing in turn the figure of Christ (in early Marseille Tarots), or the Virgin (Anima Mundi).

Left: Tarot of Jean Noblet (c. 1650); Right: Tarot of Jean Dodal (c. 1701-1715)

Elsewhere Henri Bouchot and Anton Einsle write:
The Ars Memoranda, another xylographic work, of which the subject, taken from the New Testament, was equally well adapted to the imagination of the artists, had an equally glorious destiny. The work originally comprised thirty blocks, the fifteen blocks of text facing the fifteen engravings. The designs represented the attributes of each of the Evangelists, with allegories and explanatory legends. Thus, in that which relates to the Apostle Matthew:

#1 represents the Birth and Genealogy of Jesus Christ
#2 the Adoration of the Magi
#3 the Baptism of St. John
#4 the Temptation of Christ
#5 the Sermon on the Mount
#6 the Parable of the Birds

The angel that supports the whole is the emblem of St. Matthew the Evangelist.

Henri Bouchot & Anton Einsle: This mnemonic treatment of the Gospels proceeded from symbols of which we have no means of finding the origin, but which without doubt went back many centuries earlier... In 1505 a German publisher published an imitation of it, under the title of Rationarium Evangelistarum; and this time the copyist of the illustrations, although trying to retain the tradition of the first xylographers, none the less reveals himself as an artist of the first order, at least a pupil of Martin Schongauer.

Comparing these systematically coded images it is easy to see where the Tarot may have originated and/or served double duty as a mnemonic system.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Yamamoto Tsunetomo on the I Ching

From Chapter 10 of Yamamoto Tsunetomo's Hagakure (1716):

According to a certain person's story, "In the tradition of the I Ching, it is a mistake to think that it is something for divination. Its essence is non-divination. This can be seen by the tact that the Chinese character 'I' is read as 'change.' Although one divines good fortune, if he does evil it will become bad fortune. And although he divines bad fortune, if he does good it will become good fortune.

"Confucius' saying, 'By setting myself to the task for many years and in the end learning change [I], I should make no big mistakes,' is not a matter of learning the I Ching. It means by studying the essence of change and conducting oneself for many years in the Way of Good, one should make no mistakes."

☰ ☱ ☲ ☳ ☴ ☵ ☶ ☷

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baron Julius Evola im Jahr 1968, Aufnahme: Stanislao Nievo

Baron Julius Evola im Jahr 1968, Aufnahme: Stanislao Nievo

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rotting Corpses in Japanese Buddhist Artwork

Rotting Corpses in Japanese Buddhist Artwork.
Jane Schroeder

The Kusōshi emaki is a hand scroll from early fourteenth century Japan which graphically depicts the nine stages of decay of a female corpse. This theme, called kusōzu, appears frequently in Japanese Buddhist artwork. The scroll is composed of ten narrative illustrations. The first is a pre-death portrait of the subject. She is depicted in aristocratic attire, with long black hair, a voluptuous figure, and red lips. The portrait suggests that this woman relished her beauty and wealth (Kanda, 25). In the second illustration the woman is newly deceased, lying on a raised mat and adorned with ornamental trimmings. Her undergarments are brushed aside and her right breast is exposed (Chin, 381).
The following eight illustrations show a shockingly frank and gruesome depiction of the corpse's decomposition. The lack of a background makes the rotting body appear all the more stark and isolated. The artist did not hold back at all; he confronts the viewer almost aggressively with the image of bodily decay. In fact, the precision of the anatomical depictions, which show the precise sinews of the muscles and the complete skeletal structure, suggests that the artist was painting an actual observed corpse (Kanda, 26).

The stages of decay proceed as follows: (0) pre-death portrait; (1) newly deceased corpse; (2) swelling; (3) rupture of the skin; (4) oozing of blood; (5) putrefaction; (6) discoloration and desiccation; (7) consumption by birds and animals; (8) skeleton; and (9) disjointing (Kanda, 26). The contrast between the first two illustrations and those that follow is significant. It seems as if the first two, which accentuate the sensual and feminine attractiveness of the subject, are meant to arouse desire in the viewer, making the lesson delivered by the following eight illustrations all the more poignant (Kanda 26).

To add insult to injury, the subject in the painting is not an anonymous woman. She is the ninth-century poet Ono no Komachi, known as one of the “six poetic geniuses” of Japan (Chin, 296). Perhaps not so coincidentally, Komachi's poetry is generally very physical in nature. She often refers to her physical body and uses some sexually suggestive imagery. Furthermore, her poetry frequently returns to the theme of fading female beauty (Chin, 300). The misogyny apparent in the use of this historical figure seems fairly obvious.

As Gail Chin points out, the symbol of the cadaver is significant to Buddhist thought because the corpse was one of three sights that prompted Siddhartha to seek the path of enlightenment. Paintings such as this one are meant to remind viewers of the impermanence of human existence and the repulsiveness the human body, especially the female one. They are meant to encourage renunciation of the body and to discourage sexual temptation and desires, specifically for Buddhist monks (Chin, 278). A similar use of the female cadaver as a symbol is seen in the literature of some early Indian Buddhists, who considered sexual desire identical to necrophilia since the female body secretes fluids comparable to the putrefaction of a corpse (Wilson, 60). However, the visual depiction of this theme is a specifically Japanese adaptation.

Modern scholars have generally interpreted the exclusive use of female corpses in the kusōzu genre as a testament to the prevalence of misogyny in Japanese Buddhist thought. Gail Chin denies this claim by arguing that because the female body is used to teach one of the most important Buddhist lessons, it must be inherently valued as representing Buddhist truth (Chin, 311). I however tend to agree with Bernard Faure, who criticizes Chin’s interpretation as being “overly charitable” and points out that the type of contemplation encouraged by this scroll, the “contemplation of the impure,” was intended exclusively for men (Faure, 276).

Source: http://japanesereligions.blogspot.com/2009/02/rotting-corpses-in-japanese-buddhist.html

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dent Myers: lesser-known American occultist and Confederate magician.

Dent Myers, lesser-known American occultist and Confederate magician. This guy was doing his thing, including amassing an incredible collection of rare occult books before most of these Golden Dawn/OTO-reenactment types parents had even met. He still runs a shop selling Confederate and KKK relics in Kennesaw Ga.

Found this on my hard-drive, archived (fortunately) from this original site, no longer up: http://www.thelema.nu/archives/171
Lunch with the "Wild Man"
Aug 4th, 2007

This afternoon I had the opportunity to have lunch with "Wild Man" Dent Myers. We were joined by Marjorie Lyon, who works with Dent, and John Cooke, long time friend of Myers. Dent is a well known, enigmatic figure in the local North Georgia area. He owns and operates a civil war history and memorabilia store in the heart of Kennesaw, Georgia. Often maligned for his political views about race and government, few people know that Myers was an early investigator and practitioner of Thelema and magick. In fact, the O.T.O. archive has four pages of correspondence between Myers and others cataloged. He corresponded with the Germers, both Karl and Sascha, Somerset Maugham, John Symonds, and had a large correspondence with Israel Regardie throughout all the 1960s into 1970. Since Myers was such an early figure in the magical revival in the 1960s, I thought it would be important to meet with him and spend some time learning about his past, how he became involved with occultism and in particular, Thelema and Crowley.

Dent Myers was born in White County, Georgia on January 29, 1931. (It may be just an interesting coincidence, but White County, Georgia is also where Peter Davidson, of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light, tried to establish his commune based on the ideas of the HBL and Max Theon.) Nevertheless, the son of share croppers, Dent grew up in rural Georgia attending school up to college where, for two years, he attended off campus courses from the University of Georgia in the field of abnormal psychology. His interest in the occult started in high school where he started purchasing books about spells and magic from Johnson Smith & Company out of Detroit, Michigan. As Myers matured, he purchased other books about occultism and it was in a John Symonds book that Myers first read about Aleister Crowley and Thelema. In particular, it was Liber AL vel Legis that really caught Myers attention. After that, Myers began corresponding with the authors and figures he read about in attempts to acquire the very scarce Crowley books available at the time. Many of the books were very difficult to acquire, but Myers feels that Crowley himself wanted him to have the books and assistend him in getting them. Some of the books he had were first editions of the Book of Thoth, and the tarot cards made Germer. Myers purchased as much as he could from all the Crowley publishers in the states and England. He told of the time that Samuel Weiser sent him the whole first volume of the Equinox unannounced and then allowed him to make payments on it as the upfront cost for the set was considerable, even at that time.

Myers also told me of a time that during a ceremony he placed his girlfriend of the time into a mesmeric state. He instructed her to contact Aleister Crowley directly which she did. She described the environment as a library in the netherworld filled with volume after volume. In it sat Crowley in a white robe. An aspect Myers stressed was that while there Crowley was appearing to decrease in age. The reason for the meeting was that Myers wanted a particular book that was hard to come by. Crowley told him how to get it. After the ceremony Myers followed Crowley's instruction and was, indeed, able to acquire the book.

Being that the active and serious Thelemic/occult world was relatively small in the 1960s and 1970s, Myers had the opportunity to correspond and meet many figures considered historically important today. Also, having started collecting the books and material in high school, Myers had an extensive collection that many early occultists admired. One of the figures eager to meet Myers and see his book collection was Led Zeppelin guitarist and Crowley collector, Jimmy Page. Myers has a number of photographs with him and Page in front of his massive book collection.

Myers tells of how the meeting came about. As the Crowley collecting community was relatively small, his collection came to the attention of Jimmy Page and while performing a Led Zeppelin show in Atlanta, Page called Myers and asked to see the books. Unfortunately the timing was not right; Myers was just leaving to attend a gun show. The next stop for Zeppelin was in Florida so Page made arrangements to fly back to Atlanta after the show so he could peruse Myers' collection. Myers and Page stayed in contact over the years. Myers showed me postcards and letters sent to him by Jimmy Page wishing Myers well and hoping to be able to visit Myers again in the near future.

Once very nice example is a large format, black and white card with an Austin Spare print on the front and in the inside, hand written is: "Dent, Many moons since I saw you. Should be in the U.S. in perhaps January & February. We could meet. With the Seasons Greetings, Jimmy Page."

The cards has "Jimmy Page, Plumpton Place, Plumpton, Sussex" printed at the bottom. In addition to the Crowley collection, Myers also had other books like a first edition Abramelin the Mage, first editions of Regardie books, and more. Myers even stated that Regardie used to send him manuscripts to review before publication.

Myers also showed me a curious letter from Eric Hill sent on May 13, 1974. Hill was a friend of Page's who with Page opened Equinox Books (if I recall correctly) in London. The letter states that they wanted a Confederate flag "for obvious reasons of heritage" for their shop.

Another person who knew Myers and was also involved with Crowley collecting was Michael Bertiaux student and William Breeze teacher, Jack Hogg. Concerned about the welfare off the collection after a flood nearly destroyed his home, Myers contacted Hogg who, with the help of Breeze and another, probably Anthony Iannotti, took Myers' Crowley collection along with a few others books and letters and added them to the Ordo Templi Orientis archive. The items turned over to the O.T.O. archive also included a pipe Myers had that was previous owned by Crowley.

Since then Myers has continued to practice, but not in a ceremonial fashion. He stated that once you start in occultism, it is hard to leave and that once you have been practicing a long time, it becomes part of you and you no longer have to perform a ceremony, you can simply will things to happen. Myers said that this is how it is with him and he joked that he has to make sure he does not lose his temper or else he loses control and things just happen!

The afternoon was informative and entertaining. Myers has a great sense of humor that comes from a life filled with adventure and mishaps. While I don't share many of his political views, I do think his story is worth knowing and preserving. I think there are a lot of early occultists and Thelemites from the 1950s through the 1980's that all have important and interesting stories and these should be recorded and documented. I hope to continue the discussion with Myers over the next few weeks before I leave for Amsterdam and learn more about the early days when the magical revival was just starting.

Photo source: http://mikenalleyphotography.blogspot.com/2008/09/two-oldies-but-goodies.html