Thursday, December 22, 2011

Saint Jerome by Theodoricus of Prague (14th century)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Revised CFP for UC Davis ASE conference -- date changed!

ASE 2012 Conference Call for Papers

Association for the Study of Esotericism
Fourth International Conference
Call for Papers: Esotericism, Religion, and Culture
July 19-22, 2012 Please note date change!

The Association for the Study of Esotericism (ASE) is seeking paper and panel proposals for its fourth International North American Conference on Esotericism to be held at the University of California, Davis.

We are seeking proposals on topics in Western Esotericism, particularly related to themes exploring the relationships between esotericism, religion, and culture. Papers may focus on any one of these topics, or on a specific conjunction of topics, especially as it relates to esotericism, and we encourage papers that feature intellectual history or history of ideas. We invite proposals on magic, alchemy, astrology, ritual practice, mysticism, spiritualism, occultism, hermeticism, neo-paganism, contemporary esoteric movements and teachers, Asian influences on Western traditions, and other related topics.
In addition to the broad theme of culture—which includes literature, art, philosophy, and drama, as well as religion—we would like to feature a methodological discussion (Esotericism Across the Disciplines). We also are interested in panels specifically on mysticism. ASE regards esotericism as an interdisciplinary field of research and we invite scholars from all disciplines to share their research and writings in support of a cross-fertilization of perspectives. We welcome scholars from a wide range of areas, including anthropology, American studies, art history, history, intellectual history, religious studies, literature, philosophy, psychology, medieval studies, sociology—the full range of academic disciplines and fields.. In order to encourage graduate study in the field, we will offer a modest prize for the best graduate student paper presented.

Because of the schedule change for the conference dates, now July 19-22, our extended deadline for panel or paper proposal submission is 15 February 2012.

If you wish to submit a paper proposal or a thematically focused panel proposal (with three presenters and short descriptions included) for review and possible presentation at the conference, please send it by regular email to

No attachments, please: simply copy and paste your abstract into plain text email. Individual abstracts should be limited to one or two paragraphs, and must indicate academic affiliation and/or other academic qualifications. Independent scholars are welcome to submit proposals. Please note that our previous conference was at maximum capacity, so it is best to submit your proposal sooner rather than later. We hope to post a preliminary list of accepted proposals early in 2012. Possible venues for the publication of conference papers include the book series Studies in Esotericism (this will be the fourth volume in the series).

For more information on the ASE, see our website at
An additional announcement will be forthcoming on the 2012 ASE conference, with information on location, hotels, and conference registration for speakers and ASE members.

Registration fees will be $235, and $135 for graduate students. We will be posting hotel information and making conference registration available after January 15, 2012.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tweet Archive: Religious Studies, Philosophy, Renaissance Magic, methodology of Western Esotericism

Leo Catana on Giordano Bruno's "system" of philosophy and use of
"principle" in De Minimo+De Causa @EPButler read this?

Giving mad people what they want (i.e. care, information,
transactions) is a mad business.

a more secure historical knowledge of
esoteric texts will help people apply them to their own eso. practices

the initiation of influence

All the texts of "Hermetic" occultism since the 19th century have
spoken to an audience embedded in a specifically post-industrial worldview

19th century style "Hermetic" magic doesn't offer an authentic
experience of ancient magic. Arguably it wasn't intended to: modern

"Jung—who regarded himself as a scientist—is today remembered
more as a countercultural icon, proponent of spirituality outside

C.Hakim:‘meritocratic capitalist values...invite us to admire
people who exploit their human capital for personal gain

@_shrine_ unity isn't always worth trimming off all the edges of
difference. we can get unity w/o ignoring the otherness @EPButler

RT @EPButler " is important to downgrade comparison
ontologically: a fuzzy image instead of the identity prior to difference."

@Jinx_Disruption My own focus is on texts that are all in some way
post-Pico: Reuchlin, Agrippa, John Dee, Giordano Bruno, but resist groupn

@Jinx_Disruption my "research focus" has shifted too many times as I
dig problem w/"genres" like "Christian Cabala" "Neoplatonism" "Gnostic"

@Jinx_Disruption Now, granted, implicit in this critique of "Western
Esotericism" is that there's a problem/funny emphasis on which texts...

@Jinx_Disruption The texts that are listed in the canon of "Western
Esotericism." See Faivre, Stuckrad, Hanegraaff for key secondary texts.

@EPButler "Western Esotericism" is doing a totalizing project,
haunted by an allergy to the other, but thinks it is "respecting

@EPButler Yes! A healthy respect for the irreducible otherness and
distance of this material is all I'm asking for. Is that so much?

RT @EPButler It was no accident: there's an ideology that grabs for
the same in the different, then drops the book.

@EPButler A big part of the problem is that many of these fuzzy
comparitivist+universalist notions snuck into the umbrella w/o

If we can be more careful about closely reading the texts, with a
spiritual practice of confirming from evidence, we can take bigger risks!

The kind of methodological caution I'm advocating is not intended to
limit speculation, but rather a better assessment of hermeneutical risk

"Western Esotericism" needs to return to the texts. We need more
experts in the languages who can read them, critical editions, translations

RT @sgbrownlow: Therapy is two people sitting down and trying to find
out what the hell one of them wants. ~Milton Erickson

Rees:Pitfalls include a tendency to confuse our metaphors with the
act itself,difficulties attendant to discredited notions of introspection

The field of "Western Esotericism" has benefited greatly from the
myth of "Western Esotericism" but it needs to escape from problem methods.

The solution is as boring as ever. Work the methodology, but never
stop paying attention to the specifics of the texts. Difficulty is the ma

meta-historical projects studying how to apply Imaginative
Participation to historical problems must be careful not to get lost in

@narada314 My personal take is we should respect what the Mayans
actually thought about time, which can teach us a lot.

@narada314 It's easy to use the evidence to demonstrate that there
was never any reason for claims of Arguelles, etc.

Versluis, Voss, et al. are absolutely correct to criticize limitation
of academic methods, but without grounding in texts get too far afield

Too much of the scholarship based on Versluis/Voss style criticism
about academic limits fails to preserve what is good about academic care.

Imaginative Participation in esoteric texts provides phemonological
evidence better applied to one's own life than dubious historical claims

Any such imaginative participation shouldn't be limited in terms of
what imaginative results are valued/but these aren't historical evidence

The Historiographical Concept 'System of Philosophy': It's Origin,
Nature, Influence, and Legitimacy

It's all commedia dell'arte, a lazzi (sp?) of the ladder.

RT @helacious: @t3dy You're related to academia and arcana in a way
that doesn't, apparently, reduce you to cataclysmic giggling.

Statue of Egyptian king Amenhotep III found

"Put Out of Her Course": Images of the Monstrous in de Bry's
Illustrations of Atalanta fugiens

Hegel on Leibniz vs.Spinoza-existence for self, the monad, but the
monad regarded as the absolute Notion, though perhaps not yet as the "I."

The main endeavour of Bruno was thus to represent the All+One, after
the method of Lullus, as a system of classes of regular determinations.

...Hence in the manner of Proclus he specifies the three spheres."
Hegel on Giordano Bruno in The History of Philosophy

@helacious everybody wants to build systems out of triangles. "After
the bicycle, it always comes the tricycle." Adam Weishaupt

Hegel: "Since Bruno sought to apprehend this connection more closely,
he considers thinking as a subjective art and activity of the soul."

Hegel on Johannes Reuchlin "the Cabalistic
philosophy found a defender."

Hegel on Reuchlin: He endeavoured to reconstruct the Pythagorean
philosophy proper; but he mingled with it much that is vague and mysterious

Hegel on Pico della Mirandola (finds it worth
emphasizing that Pico took 55 conclusions from Proclus)

"...this metaphysic was killed, and its parts in their lifelessness
were separated and parcelled out." -Hegel on the Scholastics

Hegel on Lull (with trippy illustrations I

@17beowulf I hope to one day see annotated editions of Bruno's
magical+memory texts that explain WTF is going on...

I read in an Alchemy Dictionary that Michael Maier wrote of his
fugues that they were admittedly musically inexpert but reader could fix

@17beowulf I thought I heard a few years ago that Ingrid Rowland was
doing a translation of The Shadows of Ideas into English. soon come?

@EPButler I tend to be wary of sticking gnosis to things, the
category itself already being so unstable @Sababarbathioth @17beowulf

"His learning was generally understood to consist largely of magic."
-Hegel on Albertus Magnus

@cole_tucker most memorable concept for me was the "state of the
stone" lecture, I loved the picture of alchemical social involvedness

"To call him an enthusiast signifies nothing at all." -Hegel on Jacob
Boehme cc @erik_davis

@TheRoyalArt here's a teaser of a Kassell article on astrological
tables that might be of interest

Hegel on Kabbalah and Gnosticism

@cole_tucker What Greek/Roman scholarly stuff are you reading? I need
to go back to the PGM, Gregory Shaw and theurgy studies since.

@cole_tucker Kiekhefer is great, check out his "Specific Rationality
of Medieval Magic" he's good on Christian Kabbalah

@cole_tucker There's a lot of great stuff on Dee. My favorites are
Clulee+Clucas (whom I've partied with) Harkness, Szonyi, Hakansson,Leitch

@cole_tucker Walker's "Spiritual and Demonic Magic from Ficino to
Campanella" would def. be a good place to go, to follow roots of Couliano.

I agree with scholars like Versluis, who argue that we must
"imaginatively participate" in the texts to grok their magic. But only so

@narada314 Not knowing what a people predicted is never a good
argument in favor of some implausible speculation. Except on History

Geometry and Rhetoric: Thinking about Thinking in Pictures J.M. Rees

Arielle Saiber: Giordano Bruno indicated that mystical union is not

Nuccio Ordine on Giordano Bruno and the Philosophy of the Ass (something like The Fool of the Tarot?)

@kimcascone @hrmtc Lachmann's very useful too. His "The Dark Muse" is
like a sequel to Joscelyn Godwin's "Theosophical Enlightenment"

@hrmtc also very readable introductions: Secret History of Hermes
Trismegistus by Florian Eberling, and The Eternal Hermes by Antoine Faivre

@hrmtc I would refer people to Brian Copenhaver's translation of The
Hermetica (aka Hermetic Corpus) and Garth Fowden's Egyptian Hermes

"The angle is a symbol and a likeness, we say, of the coherence that
obtains in the realm of divine things.: -Proclus on Euclid IX.129

Methodological texts related to intellectual history

Bruno leads us through an excursus on Cusan negative theology Ash Wednesday Supper Introduction

RT @SheBlacksmith: Photo: The Harmony of the Spheres.

RT @ArtsBooks: Refiguring the Face of God: The Daphni Pantokrator
(Studies in the Visual Cultures of the Middle A... - Anthony Cutler ht ...

Frances Yates on Hermes Trismegistus

Giordano Bruno on God as First Principle in
Cause, Principle, and Unity

Philosophy of History of Philosophy & Historiography of Philosophy:
Selected Bibliography

Giordano Bruno: Theosophy's Apostle in the Sixteenth Century (1913)
By Annie Wood Besant

"Despite or perhaps because of his insistence on the impossibility of
evocation, on the incommensurable otherness of things..."

Giordano Bruno's "Degll Eroici Furori"+Elizabethan poets in the
context of 16th-century Italian Petrarch-commentaries. Clucas, Stephen,

Giordano Bruno and the New Atomism

Anima Mundi in Pathways to the Jungian World:
Phenomenology and Analytic Psychology

2011-12-03 08:46:55
t3dy: Boehme's Speculative Theology in Anima Mundi:
the rise of the world soul theory in modern German philosophy

Philosophy of Chemistry

The Medicinal Use of Plants by Chimpanzees in the Wild

some people can hallucinate colors at will

A Response to Robert Pasnau on Studying the History of Ph
ilosophy historical study is valuable in itself

Voynich Manuscript online via @avisolo

Robert Pasnau: "Aquinas explains human freedom without any recourse
to an uncaused, undetermined act of will or intellect... [1/2] if only an uncaused decision could count as a free decision."

The Latin Aristotle

Robert Pasnau on Philosophy of Mind and Human Nature (contrast with Pinker)

Robert Pasnau, “Metaphysical Themes: 1274-1671″

"...and the resultant proliferation of wild metaphysics was the price
they paid."

Mind and Hylomorphism

"Divisions of Epistemic Labor: Some Remarks on the History of Fideism
and Esotericism"

Pasnau: “Aquinas usually refers to the soul as subsistent, and only
occasionally speaks of it as a substance.”

review of Pasnau on Human Nature in Aquinas

"The discipline of philosophy benefits from a serious, sustained
engagement with its history." -Robert Pasnau

Robert Pasnau - A Letter to a Graduate Student interested in studying
the History of Philosophy

"Philosophers today have largely given up on the project of
categorizing being." -Robert Pasnau @_shrine_

Robert Pasnau - “Form, Substance, and Mechanism,” Philosophical
Review 113 (2004) 31-88.

the latest on stonehenge recognized as a sacred
site earlier than previously thought

Sasha Chaitow reviews the AAR Western Esotericism meeting

Language is not just a window into human nature but a fistula: an
open wound through which our innards are exposed to an infectious world.SP

did religion evolve to help us develop self-control cognition? via @ken_homer

Robert Pasnau on Averroes, "The Islamic Scholar Who Gave Us Modern

John Donne, "Love's Alchemy" via @ColorsTease

RT @EPButler "Strangest to me is circle: how to distinguish from
hexagon? Hexagon obviously just assemblage of triangles for #Bruno."

RT @EPButler "A triangle, e.g., is the communion of three minima;
could be three monads of any kind whatsoever."

RT @EPButler "figure has an utterly new meaning for #Bruno, the
strictly geometrical no more privileged over "metaphorical" usages."

Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica opens again!
perhaps the world's greatest collection of Alchemical texts

Athanasius Kircher's Planetary Music Theory

Joscelyn Godwin on Rejected Knowledge

Kepler and Kircher on the Harmony of the Spheres
Joscelyn Godwin

"Science is always discovering odd scraps of magical wisdom and
making a tremendous fuss about its cleverness." -Aleister Crowley RT @hrmtc

RT @hrmtc: Photo: › Athanasius Kircher, Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae

RT @walters_museum: Art of the Day: Magic Wand Depicting a Procession
of Deities

"The newly empirical tendencies of the seventeenth century owe a
strong and surprising debt to the alchemical literature." William R. Newman

Newman: [b/c of demon connection] legitimacy of alchemical claims
acquired an importance that it would otherwise probably not have had.

Newman: Scholastic theologians+philosophers...appropriated alchemy as
a point of reference for determining the power of human art in general

The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Alchemy in
an 1843 American Romantic short story

The Magic and Myth of Alchemy - The Alchemists
at the Lloyd Library

@eglinski excerpt from Newman--From Alchemical Gold to Synthetic
Humans: The Problem of the Artificial and the Natural

@eglinski [on the homonculus] start with this article by William R. Newman and see also his book Promethean Ambitions

interesting alchemy/art/psychedelia blog in Italian

Theosophy and Gnosticism: Jung and Franz von Baader

@17beowulf depends on what you mean by gnostic. I'm not a big fan of
"gnostic" as a universal category across traditions.


Fludd interprets kabbalistic "two appearances of Aleph" as alchemical
transmutation of dark prima materia into luminous Philosophers' Stone.

Khunrath's understanding of the Kabbalah... was largely derived from
Pistorius' compendium Artis cabalisticae.

RT @mocost: Ralph Steadman’s illustrations for a 1967 edition of
Alice in Wonderland

Habermas on Myth and Ritual (video lecture)

Kripal's Introduction to Adi Da, The Knee of Listening

"Yahweh is presented in the Jewish Bible as stateless and nationless.
He can’t be used as a totem or fetish in that way." -Terry Eagleton

"The scandal of the NT—it backs what America calls the losers...has
been replaced, particularly in the States ,by an idolatrous version" -TE

Eagleton: the whole movement to see religion as literature is a way
of diffusing its radical content

Kripal talks about his Esalen book

Francis Ford Coppola has made Eliade whole again. Kripal reviews "Youth without Youth"

"interpreting across cultural, religious+historical distances is
always vexed, requiring great sensitivity+openness..."

Interpreting Ramakrishna: Kali's Child Revisited

Dr. Jeff Kripal Offers a Fresh Perspective on the Nature of
Consciousness "it always, always, always expresses

Jeffrey Kripal on Coast to Coast

For me, "depressing" is not a mark of truth.
Jeffrey Kripal introduces himself and his work in an essay

Umberto Eco on the Advantages of Fiction for Life and Death - podcast

Review - The Cambridge Companion to Plato's Republic by @epbutler

Review - Ancient Philosophy of the Self by

"There's little in Jacques Derrida's self-satisfied antiessentialist
metaphysic that Fort didn't do first...with a lot less fuss+pretension"

...when Derrida philosophizes, he is not in his body.

RITE AID - DEMON YOGA via @_Shrine_

on bibliography dumping via @kerim @zunguzungu

Keynes concluded that much of our business cycle is driven by
fluctuations in “animal spirits” (neuroecon

"there must be something which makes a voice within us ready to
recognize the compelling force of destiny in the Oedipus." Merkur/Freud

Merkur:Freud suggested that mythology consists of projections onto
the environment of what are actually divisions w/in the psychic apparatus

quote below is Freud, quoted on page one of Merkur's Psychoanalysis
and Myth.

Can you imagine what "endopsychic myths" are? The latest product of
my mental labor. The dim inner perception of one's own psychic apparatus

RT @fritzbogott: @t3dy Notes from Hollow Earth

@fritzbogott Notes from GrokLow

notes from undergrok

RT @DeenOverDunia: “How can it (the heart) travel to Allah when it
is chained by its desires?”
— Ibn Arabi

William Burroughs, Thanksgiving Prayer

The New Alchemy: To Turn You On by Osho/Rajneesh

" historians, alchemists were continually concerned about
funding." -Jenny Rampling, Alchemy and Patronage in Tudor England

Jenny Rampling on Alchemical Patronage

"practitioners from a range of backgrounds were nevertheless
concerned to
present themselves as heirs to a single unified+ancient

Jenny Rampling: "for all their personal diversity individual
alchemists often adopted similar styles of self-presentation"

"Alchemy was not a monolithic entity." -Jenny Rampling

is Fama Fraternitatis anti-alchemical-immortality? "their souls could
not trespass CERTAIN points of dissolution."

History and Iconography of the Occult

December 25th is associated with the birth of many pagan gods...and
that's what Christmas is about, Charlie Brown

RT @fadesingh: Raphael Bousso on the universe as hologram:

"When a poet's mind is perfectly equipped for its work, it is
constantly amalgamating experience..." T.S. Eliot

Alchemical Metaphors have much to offer music theory (slightly

Mary McCarthy: On a level usually thought to be “harmless,”
addiction to platitudes and commonplaces is global.... [1/2]
...To Burroughs’ ear, the Bore, lurking in the hotel lobby, is
literally deadly. [2/2]

William Burroughs literary criticism

INT: Do you think [a science of association blocks] will destroy the
magic? WSB: Not at all. I would say it would enhance it.

"Beckett wants to go inward. First he was in a bottle and now he is
in the mud. I am aimed in the other direction—outward." -Burroughs

"In one sense a special use of words and pictures can conduce
silence." -William S. Burroughs

"what has been damaged in pain is, of course, the image" -WSB

"I've had all the interesting effects I need, and I don't want any
repetition of those extremely unpleasant physical reactions." -Burroughs

"more a hallucinated viewpoint than any actual hallucination"

Burroughs interview--"altering what we call reality, which I would
define as a more or less constant scanning pattern."

"I didn't feel compelled. I had nothing else to do. Writing gave me
something to do every day. I don't feel the results were...spectacular."

McLuhan letter about Burroughs from 1964

Marshall McLuhan: Notes on Burroughs

crowdsourcing the multiplication of the philosopher's stone

Is anybody using alchemical metaphors (other than the co-opted
homonculus) to describe problems in philosophy of Mind? Such strange

Alchemy has much to offer music theory--theorizing by means of colors
and subtle changes, attention to time, geometry, measurement generally

Alchemical metaphors can be used more or less effectively. I find
them most useful in concrete, hands-dirty grokking of science and/or art.

We need alchemy as a metaphor to understand the bizarre and terrible
magic of chemistry. Science is a monstrous, transformative power.

I worry that alchemical metaphors have lost their power in being
diluted in support of all these vague, weak occultisms.

RT @etominusipi: @t3dy we should do more to celebrate Giordano Bruno.
his cosmic vision was superb. his treatment particularly shabby.

RT @SSRC_org: RT @immanentframe: “Where religion comes from and
leads us” – Steven Tipton on Bellah’s Religion in Human Evolution:

RT @irarchaeology: BBC News - 'Earliest' evidence of human violence

Brill (publisher of Dictionary of Gnosis+Western Esotericism) teams
up with Credo Reference to provide online research

AAR Western Esotericism panel

RT @PhilosophyQuotz: Let parents bequeath to their children not
riches, but the spirit of reverence. Plato

rt @EPButler "in Stoicism the I becomes object, dissolution of

RT @17beowulf: @t3dy Downloadable PDFs of C. G. Jung's alchemy &
related books: They're in order by title.

Collection of Tweets on Alchemy, Renaissance Magic, Esotericism

Collected Tweets on Neoplatonic Theurgy--Iamblichus, Proclus,
Chaldean Oracles, philosophy, religious study/scholarship

RT @EPButler Speaking of Roman Stoics, my review of a book on same:

Seneca's Turn to Self

Veyne:“Stoicism has become, for our use, a philosophy of the active
turning in on itself of the I…It was nothing of the kind in its own day"

Seneca: Only virtuous action is free in the sense of being fully
reasonable,while other actions spring from irrational movements of the mind

"Seneca envisages us as judges, passing judgment over what we should
be doing, and issuing commands to ourselves"

ancient atomism

RT @tedfriedman: Zizek: "Jung is the skeleton in Deleuze's closet."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gift ideas from my esoteric studies bookshelf

books on my esotericism shelf

Trithemius and Magical Theology

Eros and Magic in the Renaissance

The Art of Memory

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment

Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition


Spiritual and Demonic Magic from Ficino to Campanella

Making Magic: Religion, Magic, and Science in the Modern World

Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion

Jacob Boehme (Western Esoteric Masters series)

Robert Fludd (Western Esoteric Masters series)

Athanasius Kircher's Theater of the World

Three Books Of Occult Philosophy

On the Art of the Kabbalah

White Magic, Black Magic in the European Renaissance

The Egyptian Hermes

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jenny Rampling podcast on Alchemy and Patronage in Tudor England

I met Rampling in Philly at the CHF conference in 2005 and I was very impressed with her work on alchemical emblems. We should be grateful to have somebody like her working on this era, the Ripley scroll, and the alchemical illustration in general. Check out the second podcast on this list.
(from this link you need iTunes, but it's free)
or use this direct download link provided by Anechoic (look at it in a video player to see the slideshow of the images she's discussing)

here's a partial transcription of the first minute or so

in talking about alchemy today, I want to stress variety. When we think about alchemy we think about transformation and change... specifically the transmutation of base metals gold... As I hope to convince you today, there's a little bit more to alchemy than that... variety in the goals and pursuits of alchemy, in the occupations of its practitioners, in the way way that its mysterious processes were interpreted... Alchemy was not a monolithic entity... practiced by courtiers and artisans, physicians and priests, merchants and scholars... practitioners from a range of backgrounds were nevertheless concerned to present themselves as heirs to a single unified and ancient tradition of privileged knowledge... for all their personal diversity individual alchemists often adopted similar styles of self-presentation... by appealing to long-established conventions, not only of technical writing, but also poetry and art...
like historians alchemists were continually concerned about funding

and here's another lecture from Rampling - The Mirror of Alchemy:  Images and Reflections of the Medieval Alchemical Cosmos, including examples of work by the fifteenth-century English alchemist George Ripley and the Elizabethan mathematician and astrologer, John Dee.