Monthly Archives: February 2011

One in Essence, Three in Aspect

From the Art of Transformations study group, an exploration of the Emerald Tablet (using the Sigismund Bacstrom translation)

The Secret Works of CHIRAM – One in essence, but three in aspect.

It is true, no lie, certain and to be depended upon, the superior agrees with the inferior, and the inferior agrees with the superior, to effect that one truly wonderful work.

As all things owe their existence to the will of the only one, so all things owe their origin to the one only thing, the most hidden by the arrangement of the only God.

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Three Paths of the Magic of Light

Picture Credit: Golden-Dawn.Org

Responsibility is essential in developing society.  One of the most difficult responsibilities we’re faced with is the Socratic maxim to ‘know thy self‘.

In this Philosophical Dialogue titled “The Three Paths of the Magic of Light”, originally presented on V.H. Frater I.C.L.’s Tales of Abiegnus site, we find a wonderful way to begin investigating and understanding the responsibilities we are presented with by the  vocations we’re lead to through our innate inclinations.

Many thanks to V.H. Frater I.C.L. for allowing us to repost this helpful dialogue. 

***

The Three Paths of the Magic of Light

***

Kasmillos: In our Order their are many magicians, but I am beginning to discover that they do not all practice the Royal Art in the same manner.

Straphalos: Indeed, there are several ways to approach mastery of the self and the Spirit.

Kasmillos: But, we all learn the same techniques, we practice the same rituals, we endure the same initiations. Why is it, then, that we do not all walk the path in a similar way?

Straphalos: Our bond is in our destination. Our individuality is expressed in the manner of our journey. We are not like a church, we do not impose our personal enlightenment on all. Everyone’s Revelation is unique. The invokation of Spirit, Power and Light will reveal different things to different people.

Kasmillos: So we all start at the same place, greatly diverge and end up at the same point?

Straphalos: In a sense. Although, it is a mistake to believe that anything a person comes up with on this Path is automatically worthy and right. We all fall short at some point, usually at many points. That is why the Power of True Discernment is so greatly sought for and envied by those who see the most clearly on this Path.

Kasmillos: So how do we judge truly the manner in which we follow this Path?

Straphalos: Pray and invoke the Higher Light for the Gift of Discernment; you will need it.

Kasmillos: All well and good for when I do achieve it. But, what of until then?

Straphalos: Over the millenia of the Western Mysteries, it is clear that out of the many ways to pursue the Great Work, a few show themselves to be more effective and blessed than others. If you contemplate these paths and try them, you will not go wrong. Though, you may find that one is more right for you than that which you initially chose.

Kasmillos: What are these paths?

Straphalos: They are three in number: The Path of Active Invokation, the Passive or Internal Path, and the Path of the Practical Magician. All magicians who specialize in one of these three ways still work elements from the others, but their personal gifts, character, and motivation will distill out one path that particularly characterizes their journey. One that fits them better than the others.

Kasmillos: What is the nature of the Path of Active Invokation?

Straphalos: This is the most common way to pursue our Mysteries. It is characterized by the frequent use of our rituals for the general development of the powers of our souls. Those on this path are exhorted to “Invoke and Invoke often!” for this sets up a standing wave of vibration in our Sphere of Sensation that ever elevates our consciousness and powers until we stand in the presence of the Ancient of Days, interwoven with Light and in unity with our Higher Genius. This path is pursued by the frequent and reverential practice of developmental ritual magics.

Kasmillos: What, then is the nature of the Passive or Internal Path? Do they not also practice ritual?

Straphalos: Yes, they do, but their focus is different. Those who pursue this path are far more meditative. Their emphasis is on stillness of the body, while their conciousness is trained by internal practices to open up to the Infinite Spirit. They draw upon the ceaseless stream of splendor that descends to us from God. Where others merely put out their hands to sip from this treasury, the practitioner of this path reaches out with great vessels to harvest far more of the vast bounty that continually surrounds us. Outwardly, their life appears charmed and effortless. They are like a leaf blown by the Breath of God. Always they appear at the right time and place, always they possess what they need and plenty more to share with others generously. They learn, by their focus, to surrender to God’s Infinite Mind, and in so doing they find perfect peace. Instead of rising up the planes from strength to strength as the Active Invoker, they simply appear in God’s Presence, traveling through the realms between without moving.

Kasmillos: How then, does the Path of the Practical Magician differ?

Straphalos: This is a very useful and attractive path to those who still bear many mundane dreams, yet also desire to rise above the material in time. They are the clearest about their goals and desires and learn to focus their Magical Will most strongly. To them, the journey is not about a starting point and an end point with an epic adventure in between. Their path is characterized by a series of goals, accomplishments they wish to manifest in stages: smaller dreams in succession which add up to Greatness. These smaller accomplishments act individually as rungs in a ladder, each one propelling them forward to greater understanding of the world and themselves. Magicians on this path tend to focus on practical, as opposed to developmental, magics. Their work and practice is about manifesting specific things and conditions of a practical nature to their needs as well as for the benefit of others. Consequently, they tend to be the most relevant to the non-initiate, for their efforts improve mundane lives and make communities more prosperous.

Kasmillos: So the Practical Magician is the most service oriented?

Straphalos: All of them are, and all of them aren’t. A magician can be equally selfish or philanthropic in any of these paths. Active Invokers can be concerned only with their own empowerment, or they they can use their power to heal bodies and upflift souls. They have the greatest chance of showing the Divine Light to others and changing the spiritual direction of those around them. They are like a Light Shining in the Darkness. Followers of the Passive Path can isolate themselves like monks living in the world interacting rarely with those outside of themselves, or they can mingle with an open heart among the lost, welcoming those whom God brings to them serendipitously to comfort and guide. They have the greatest chance of bringing Peace Profound to the tired and world weary, and healing the wounded heart. They are like a Well of Living Water, that those lost in the desert of their own jaded nightmares stumble to and are refreshed and awakened. Practical Magicians can gather for themselves of the world’s good for their own consumption and gratifcation only, or they can turn and share their manifest bounty with those in need. They can raise up Temples and Hospices and liberate those enslaved by poverty and misfortune. They have the greatest chance of ensuring the continuation of the Mysteries for they have the means to establish the institutions and facilities that give permanence to things. And they provide the most tangible proofs to the non-initiated of the efficacy and relevance of our Path. They are like a Font of Prosperity blessing any community of which they are part.

Kasmillos: So none of these three Paths is greater than the other.

Straphalos: Indeed none. And, further, elements of all three must be learned by all who would call themselves “Magician of Light”. But, one will fit most naturally with you and become the way in which you best and most efficaciously interact with the Spirit and the World.

Kasmillos: How can I choose which one to follow most closely?

Straphalos: Invoke often, meditate in stillness, and discern your goals clearly so that you may pursue them by the combination of conscientious magic and worldly action.

Kasmillos: In otherwords follow all three paths?

Straphalos: Indeed, and in so doing God, by your Holy Angel, will Light your Way.

***

V.H. Frater I.C.L. is an alchemist and adept in the Golden Dawn Tradition. A teacher of Ceremonial Magic and Alchemy for 14 years, he has been a student of Magic, Alchemy and Metaphysical Healing his whole life.

A Greater Snake Than the One in Hand – Serpent Handling, scripture and the narrow path of union

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

– 1 Corinthians 3: 1-3

“Now, O Father, thou hast put me to silence for ever and all my former thoughts have quite left and forsaken me, for I see the greatness, and shape of all things here below, and nothing but falsehood in them all.”

– The words of Tat to his Father from the 7th Book of the Corpus Hermetica

The extremity of the serpent handling practices of some Holiness congregations has been the cause for dismay amongst judicial representatives of both the state and religious orthodoxy. These practices represent not only the literal interpretation of certain scriptures, but also the solidification of these scriptures in physical practices that prove the scripture through the successful completion of ritual.

In order to achieve the ignification of the astral light, namely the transformation of fluid mercury (spirit) into manifested mercury (spirit), some chains use forms of violence (e.g. dervishes, flagellants), while others employ orgiastic forms, or a  combination of both…In Saudi Arabia, in order to reach a certain degree of exaltation and supreme fixation, at the center of chains that are prepared with a crescendo of progressive rhythms and movements of the head and torso, the fluidic vertigo is taken on and dominated by an action of the Head of the chain, who, in a state of absolute lucidity, pierces the his body with a sword. Since he is in a state of magical equilibrium, it leaves him unscathed, and shows no signs of entry wounds or blood.

– Introduction to Magic, UR Group

Disapproval from secular authorities is quite understandable. Since they don’t believe in the ritual in the first place, all of this seems like a lot of nonsense that could get someone killed. Religious disapproval is often based on similar grounds. Contemporary religion is, for a good portion of  its adherents, no more than mythically oriented ethics and self affirmation, secular thought dressed in divine clothes to beef up its authority. When people start picking up snakes and drinking strychnine to prove the power of the Spirit things become a bit too real for those who are more comfortable hearing sports metaphors used to describe Sacred teachings.

Not all of the members of the snake handling congregations take up serpents, it is only done as the Spirit calls and marks proof of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. However, proof is not the only outcome of this practice, traditionally the purpose of asceticism has always been unification with the Divine, and with unification comes participation in the power of the Divine as well. In Holiness congregations this comes in the form of prophecy, healing and successful prayers.

Most Protestant critiques start with “do not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7) as their refutation of choice for such practices. Such critiques based on seeing things in terms of hubris miss the opportunity for a deeper understanding.

This split between the physical and mental expressions of belief are common in all religions and philosophies. Pierre Hadot, a classical scholar who studied the ‘spiritual exercises’ of the philosophical tradition, sees this as an inherent problem with the Western world. The gradual shift from philosophy as a way of life to philosophy as a means of discourse has left us with a crippled tradition. Radical practices such as serpent handling present the opposing pole of this split between physical practice and mental abstraction. They are physical demonstrations of Metaphysical truths that often lack the deeper understanding that move these truths to a higher level.

As impressive as they are, these practices remain in the carnal realm, they are the milk that Paul talks about in light of the meat of further Faith leading to absorption in Gnosis. When Protestant critiques use something like Matthew 4:7 to dispute the validity of snake handling they merely flip the pole back to the discursive and deny the validity of the Signs (prophecy, healing, and answered prayers) which are clearly present to the snake handlers. This dance between opposing poles continues to conflate the problem, keeping things at the carnal level, without ever coming to a point where both sides meet in the middle and move up the Ladder to a higher realization.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

– Luke 10:19-20

This verse does not deny the power demonstrated in something like snake handling, in fact it gives it even greater credence, however it ends in an active admonishment that moves the understanding to a higher level. To rejoice is an activity, the active power over Death is given validity, but the disciples are given the further charge to accept with humility the physical signs of their Faith in light of the greater gift of participation in the Divine.

Shaykh Ahmed al-Alawi presents a similar (and topical) reconciliation in a recollection recorded in Martin Lings’ A Sufi Saint in the 20th Century.

My first leaning [in the direction of Sufism] was marked by my attachment to one of the masters of the ‘Isawi Tariqa who impressed me by his unworldliness and evident piety. I made every effort to comply with the requisites of that order [known for its practice of wonderworking], and this came quite easily to me on account of my youth and the instinctive attraction for wonders and marvels which is a part of human nature. I became proficient in these practices, and was well thought of by the men of the order, and I believed in my ignorance that what we did was purely and simply a means of drawing nearer to God. One day when God willed that I should be inspired by the truth we were at one of our gatherings and I looked up and saw a paper that was on one of the walls of the house we were in, and my eye lit on a saying that was traced back to the Prophet. What I learned from it caused me to give up what I had been doing in the way of working wonders, and I determined to limit myself in that order to the litanies and invocations and recitations of the Quran. From that time I began to extricate myself and make excuses to my brethren until I finally gave up those other practices altogether. I wanted to drag the entire brotherhood away from them also, but that was not easy. As for myself I broke away as I had intended, and only retained from that contact the practice of snake-charming. I continued to charm snakes by myself or with some of my friends until I met Skaikh Sidi Muhammad al-Buzidi….

One day, when he was with us in our shop, the Shaikh said to me: “I have heard that you can charm snakes, and that you are not afraid of being bitten.” I admitted this. Then he said: “Can you bring me one now and charm it here in front of us?” I said that I could, and going outside the town, I searched for half the day, but only found a small one, about
half an arm’s length. This I brought back and putting it front of me, I began to handle it according to my custom, as he sat and watched me. “Could you charm a bigger snake than this?” he asked. I replied that the size made no difference to me. Then he said, “I will show you one that is bigger than this and far more venomous, and if you can take hold of it you are a real sage.” I asked him to show me where it was and he said: “I mean your soul which is between the two sides of your body. Its poison is more deadly than a snake’s, and if you can take hold if it and do what you please with it, you are, as I have said, a sage indeed.” Then he said: “Go and do with that little snake whatever you usually do with them, and never go back to such practices again.

This is a very pointed example due to the fact that it comes from Sufism where Quranic authority is usually relied on to dispute unorthodox practices, yet here again we find an active reconciliation that goes beyond verbal or doctrinal refutation. Skaikh Sidi Muhammad al-Buzidi redirects the active energy that Shaykh Ahmed al-Alawi was putting into a physical manifestation of his devotion into a higher level of practice.

Discursive arguments lend themselves to the possibility of misinterpretation, however activity is proven by results. The end to which the action lead to are the measure of their worth.  In our devotion we can either take on the snake in hand, or the snake in Spirit, either way Death will prove the results.

Note: Thanks to Charles Upton of Sophia Perennis for pointing me to the passage in Martin Lings’ A Sufi Saint in the 20th Century, and to Bibliodyssey for the illustration from Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises.

See also: Of Snakes & Sufis for more analysis of the serpent handling holiness tradition – Click Here for the article.



Alchemical Invocations of Vox Populi – Leland’s Aradia & the Creation of the Folk

“If the lawful order (κόσμος) hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

If ye were of the lawful order (κόσμος), the lawful order (κόσμος) would love his own: but because ye are not of the lawful order(κόσμος), but I have chosen you out of the lawful order (κόσμος), therefore the world hateth you.

Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. “

– John 15:18-21

Most reading the charming reprinting of Charles Leland’s Aradia, Gospel of the Witches easily forget how far we are from rural Italy in the 19th century,  from the world inhabited by those who remember the Ancient Ways, perhaps more telling, how far we are from the lives of the dispossessed in our own time.  Leland’s disarming erudition of Margherita Taluti’s information lulls us into gentle repose, arrested only by the sudden bursts of light when the reality of Margherita’s world sneaks through our contemporary dream.

In those days there were on earth many rich and many poor.

The rich made slaves of all the poor.

In those days were many slaves who were cruelly treated; in every palace tortures, in every castle prisons.

Many slaves escaped. They fled to the country; thus they became thieves and evil folks. Instead of sleeping by night, they plotted escape and robbed their masters, and then slew them. So they dwelt in the mountains and forest as robbers and assassins, all to avoid slavery.

An educated Western audience may find it uncouth that such things would be spoken aloud, but they aren’t spoken aloud, they are passed in secret, sub-rosa, in silence. Leland’s passion for various groups on the fringes of the society of his day, the Romany, the Native American, American Voodoo and European witches, gave him a strong sense of Romanticism for the struggles of the people, and provides him with the raw materials for an invocation of this struggle through his writing.

This is not the genteel voice of an educated Marxist lamenting capitalism, nor the hopeful philosophies of Utopian sustainability, this is Lex Talonis, justice driven by the Left Hand under the auspices of Divine Right. This is the uninhibited outcry of those who labor, live and die without ever seeing the fruits of their work, and watching daily while an uncaring elite sit in abstract control over their destinies.

During the Haitian Revolution in the late 18th century, escaped slaves met in the mountains and gathered strength while plotting to overthrow the Colonial French. During a ceremony in the northern mountains at Bois Caiman, which has since passed into a national myth, the freedom fighters called on the gods of their homeland to give them strength, protection and the vigor to overthrown their oppressors.

According to accounts of the ceremony “a woman started dancing languorously in the crowd, taken by the spirits of the loas. With a knife in her hand, she cut the throat of a pig and distributed the blood to all the participants of the meeting who swore to kill all the whites on the island.”

History of Haiti and the Haitian Revolution

An interesting thing about Leland is that he’s writing from a place of experience. He was active during the American Civil War, both as a propagandist and journalist for the North and as a soldier, and was in Paris during the French uprising in 1848 where he participated in street fighting against the Royalist supporters.

In all of these revolutionary moments, however, we must be honest and recognize that the people do not stir on their own cognizance.  Even the Haitian revolution was spurred on by educated Haitians who invoked the power of their traditions to stir the people.  It takes someone to spark the collective consciousness, and that someone is more often than not a sympathetic member of the literati.

The tradition that Leland invokes in Aradia is an idealistic tradition of the people.  Unbound by the historical accuracy or literary criticism through the character of Margherita Taluti, who is herself unbound through the mask of Aradia, he attempts to give voice to a deeper current of thought running through the cultural narrative. Just as the African Diaspora Traditions easily slide between Christian saints and African gods, Aradia presents the picture of a living tradition that invokes the Spirits by their Signs without regard for any cultural designations.  These are not the civilized gods of Empires, but the unrefined forces of Nature herself.

Despite the hesitation of some contemporary pagans over the use of the name Lucifer in the text, the marriage of Lucifer and Diana is not necessarily an amalgam of Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions. In Latin Lucifer can be interpreted as “Light Bearer” an epitaph for Apollo (also called Φοίβος, Phoibos, “radiant”) who is the brother of Artemis, Artemis being another name for Diana.  With Italian being so close to Latin, it may be that the use of Lucifer actually predates the Christian tradition.

Another appellation given to Apollo is “born of the wolf”, and in pre-Hellenistic times (as Jake Stratton-Kent points out in his work Geosophia) Apollo had a definitive role in Cthonic (underworld) rites. The designation given in Aradia of Diana’s husband with “one who of old once reigned in Hell,” may be a subtle clue that it is this Cthonic Apollo, the Oracular Apollo, who is being called upon.

The Invocation to Aradia hints at this when it says, “may there be  one of three signs distinctly clear to me: the hiss of a serpent, the light of a firefly, the sound of a frog” The Serpent was sacred to Apollo, and the connection of the firefly to the “light bearer” is self evident, the frog is sacred to Hekate, a Cthonic Greek goddess who, like Diana, is connected to magical rites and nocturnal pursuits.

If this seems a bit academic for folk wisdom, it may very well be. Leland’s recounting may be every bit as free as his critics contend. In his work English Gipsy Songs he laments that none of the Romany he spoke with  could give an adequate representation of their tradition.  “Not finding what I wanted, I had given up the intention of forming such a collection, when the perusal of a few excellent Rommany ballads by a friend who may fairly claim to be among the ” deepest” of the deep in the language, as well as others by Professor Palmer and Miss Janet Tuckey, suggested to me the idea that poetry, impressed with true Gipsy spirit, and perfectly idiomatic, might be written and honestly classed as Rommany, even though not composed by dwellers in tents or caravans. The experiment was made, great care being taken to avoid anything like theatrical Gipsyism, or fanciful idealisation.”

There are many correspondences in Aradia to beliefs common to European and early American folk magic which Leland would have been familiar with through his extensive reading and passion for the “occult.” The Charm of the Stones Sacred to Diana is surprisingly similar to the seer stone used by  Josepth Smith for treasure hunting and scrying while dictating the Book of Mormon. Leland’s niece recounts that he, “not only studied witchcraft with the impersonal curiosity of the scholar, but practiced it with the zest of the initiated,” so it would not be surprising if a bit of his own practice seeped in to the reworking of Margherita’s account of Italian witchcraft.

In fact Leland, in his memoirs, tells of his own ownership of such a stone, only he calls it a “voodoo stone,” and based on the timing of the tale he tells (at the end of the Civil War) his possession of it predates by many years his time in Italy:

“Now, to-day I hold and possess the black stone of the Voodoo, the possession of which of itself makes me a grand-master and initiate or adept…”

Memoirs, Charles Leland

Similarly the Conjuration of Diana which calls for water, wine and salt, bears resemblance to invocation techniques used by folk magicians discussed in George Oliver’s book from 1875, The Pythagorean Triangle: “It appears that in the time when conjurers could profitably exercise their art, they used to raise spirits within a circle nine feet in diameter, which they consecrated by sprinkling with a mixture of holy water, wine, and salt; that they might be protected from any onslaught of the fiend.

This combination of ingredients is found in Christian exorcism rites practiced by the Catholic church, or more pointedly rites which would have been found in the Episcopalian tradition that Leland adopted during his time at Princeton:

These four—water, wine, salt, and ashes—were the ingredients of the Exorcising Water to expel the enemy from a Church at its consecration ; the water symbolising the outpouring of tears, and so penitence ; the wine, exultation of mind ; the salt, natural discretion or wisdom; and the ashes, the humility of penitence.

– The symbolism of churches and church ornaments, Guillaume Durandus

And these three can also be equated in alchemical terms to Mercury (water), Sulphur, (wine) and Salt, which in the Paracelsian tradition are the three essential elements that form the basis of reality prior to the four elements of fire, water, earth and air. The rectification of these three also forms the basis of the Philosopher’s Stone. Leland was well acquainted with Paracelsus by the time he wrote Aradia, we find him discussing Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism at Princeton while still a student:

When (Professor Dodd) asked me how it was that I had renegaded into Trinitarianism, I replied that it was due to reflection on the perfectly obvious and usual road of the Platonic hypostases eked out with Gnosticism. I had…learned…that ” it was a religious instinct of man to begin with a Trinity, in which I was much aided by Schelling, and that there was no trace of a Trinity in the Bible, or rather the contrary, yet that it ought consistently to have been there…For man or God consists of the Monad from which developed spirit or intellect and soul; for toto enim in mundo Ivcet Trias cujus Monas est princeps, as the creed of the Rosicrucians begins (which is taken from the Zoroastrian oracles)…and it is set forth on the face of every Egyptian temple as the ball, the wings of the spirit which rusheth into all worlds, and the serpent, which is the Logos.”

– Memoirs, Charles Leland

Here we see the core of Leland’s belief, “there was no trace…yet…it ought consistently to have been there.” Aradia is a classic work of Pastoral poetry, the work of an educated Romantic who longs for the Golden Age of Nature. Through the use of vox populi he takes the unrefined elements of folk culture and, in an alchemical moment of myth building, creates what “should be there.” He separates out the dross of true poverty and seeks the essence of hunger, desperation and wisdom that exists in the lives of the dispossessed.

Leland takes what the common people already know, but have no chance to define, and  shows them a reflection of themselves. Reworking their traditions with the purpose of returning to them the freedom that they already have, while undermining the bonds of control that have been put on them by social conventions that laud ostentation while rejecting the simplicity of life.  It is therefore no surprise that Aradia has had a foundational affect on contemporary witchcraft, that was the very purpose of the book.

Margherita Taluti’s information alone could not complete his vision, but it provided the ground and reality from which he could perfect the Work. It contained the Prima Materia missing from his own experience and provided the Key. Leland’s practice is no different than Ovid, Homer, Chaucer, Boccacio, Shakespeare, or any of the great Traditional Poets who took the popular mythologies and legends of their time and re-veiled them.

As he remarked to one of his fellow folklorists, “I am proud to be a first pointer-out – just as I am of having been acknowledge to be the first discoverer of Shelta…also of Italian-Latin witch lore and mythology, which latter has not as yet been credited to me, but will be some day.

Through an alchemical invocation of the popular voice Charles Leland created a vision for the dispossessed to lay claim to. His ‘gospel of the witches‘ was the ‘good news‘ of the free spirit, the reclamation of the Edenic purity of Humanity that “shall dance, sing, make music, and then love in the darkness.”  It is the message to the establishment that “the true God the Father is not yours; for I have come to sweet away the bad, the men of evil, all will I destroy!” It’s a mark of success that Leland’s work has been reviled by the Academy, he wasn’t writing it for them, he was writing it for the People.

Note: The folks at Red Wheel/Weiser were kind enough to provide a copy of Charles Leland’s Aradia, Gospel of the Witches for research and review. Check out Bob Freeman’s review of Aradia and  Freeman Presson’s review as well.

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n in e te e n th
c e n tu ry .

Handler’s Tail

“There is something about Chicago that paralyzes the spirit under a dead weight of formalism dictated by hoodlums…everywhere the smell of atrophied gangsters, the dead weight of those dear dead days hanging in the air like rancid ectoplasm…You suffocate in the immediate past, still palpable, still palpable, quivering like an earthbound ghost…Here the dream is suffocating, more real than the real, the past actually, incredibly, invading the present. It’s almost like you could reach out and have your youth over again, so solid, nostalgia taking solid form and face…But the fraud is immediately apparent. And the horror, the fear of stasis and decay closes round your heart.”

– from Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs

There’s a certain feeling in the Midwest that’s not readily captured by images of Detroit or Chicago.  If our major cities were the mark of Midwest culture the Manhattan Project would never have gotten off the ground. Despite the international mystique of the University of Chicago, it was in the prairies West of the city that Argonne and Fermi Lab were built. In that open air and golden landscape the seeds of the 21st century were sown by metallurgists and physicists working on a project that changed everything about the way we look at life and death, international relations and the power of applied science.

A park near where I live sits on an abandoned missle silo that used to protect Argonne and Fermi during the Cold War, but most folks around here just go their to play baseball. It’s called Nike Park, first in honor the missiles once housed there, and second after the Greek goddess of victory.

The Congregationalist Church down the street from me was one of the first churches built in the area in 1833.  In 1955 Rev. Eugene Kreves broke with the church and founded the first Unitarian Universalist congregation in DuPage County.  The current church congregation still remembers the “heretic pastor” and blames him for bring the Devil to Dupage. When the church steeple was destroyed by lightening awhile back they saw it as a continuation of a curse on the building.

Drive a half hour out and you end up in corn fields, but that only gives you the perspective to see industrial factories on the horizon. About an hour south of here you hit “Armory Road” where a giant gas refinery sits all flashing lights and grey smoke. Lew Welch summed up the feeling in his Chicago Poem:

“I lived here nearly 5 years before I could
meet the middle western day with anything approaching
Dignity. It’s a place that lets you
understand why the Bible is the way it is:
Proud people cannot live here.

The land’s too flat. Ugly, sullent and big it
pounds men down past humbleness. They
Stoop at 35 possibly crining from the heavy and
terrible sky. In country like this there
Can be no God but Jahweh.”

I live in the suburbs, heading into the city by train it looks as though Chicago sits at ground zero of it’s own sociological atomic bomb.  Everything surrounding the city is dead and crumbling, a rotting infrastructure that no one cares to rebuild.  Head away from the city and you’re met with the plastic facade of suburban development, go out farther and you hit small semi-rural towns were the memories of farmers hold fast in the midst of economic collapse.

At night the metallic howl of the freight trains cuts through the constant hum of highways and the electric hiss of high tension wires. I think of  missile silos, government laboratories, lightening struck churches and factories squatting fat on once fertile farmland. I get together with friends, we pick up instruments as folks have always done, and tell our tale in the minor key:

“This Summoner bore to him a stiff burden …
A voice he had as small as hath a goat.
No beard had he, nor never should have;
A smooth it was as it were late shave.
I trowe he were a gelding or a mare.”

Josh Stockinger (HorseThief) – Bass, Electric Mandolin, Drums, Guitar
David Metcalfe – Guitar, Keyboards, Thermin

That Great Atomic Power

And the flame truly sprang upwards at the place and time prescribed, energy did indeed burst forth from what, to ordinary perception, was inert, non-inflammable matter. Man at that moment found himself endowed not merely with his existing strength but with a method which would enable him to master all the forces surrounding him. For one thing he had acquired absolute and final confidence in the instrument of mathematical analysis which for the past century he had been forging. Not only could matter be expressed in terms of mathematics, it could be subjugated by mathematics.

Perhaps even more important, he had discovered, in the unconsidered unanimity of the act which circumstances had forced upon him, another secret pointing the way to his omnipotence. For the first time m history, through the non-fortuitous conjunction of a world crisis and an unprecedented advance in means of communication, a planned scientific experiment employing units of a hundred or a thousand men had been successfully completed. And very swiftly. In three years a technical achievement had been realized which might not have been accomplished in a century of isolated efforts. Thus greatest of Man’s scientific triumphs happens also to be the one in which the largest number of brains were enabled to join together in a single organism, the most complex and the most centrated, for the purpose of research. Was this simply coincidence? Did it not rather show that in this as in other fields nothing in the universe can resist the converging energies of a sufficient number of minds sufficiently grouped and organized?

Thus considered, the fact of the release of nuclear energy, overwhelming and intoxicating though it was, began to seem less tremendous. Was it not simply the first act, even a mere prelude, in a series of fantastic events which, having afforded us access to the heart of the atom, would lead us on to overthrow, one by one, the many other strongholds which science is already besieging? The vitalization of matter by the creation of super-molecules. The re-modeling of the human organism by means of hormones. Control of heredity and sex by the manipulation of genes and chromosomes. The readjustment and internal liberation of our souls by direct action upon springs gradually brought to light by psycho-analysis. The arousing and harnessing of the unfathomable intellectual and effective powers still latent in the human mass. . . . Is not every kind of effect produced by a suitable arrangement of matter? And have we not reason to hope that in the end we shall be able to arrange every kind of matter, following the results we have obtained in the nuclear field?”

From Some Reflections on the Spiritual Repercussions of the Atom Bomb, Pierre Teilhard De Chardin

Having been well cured in the after glow of the first nuclear tests at Trinity, it’s rare today to find those who fully appreciate the weight of those discoveries. In Teilhard De Chardin’s analysis, written in 1946 shortly after the terrible events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, humanity has discovered a sure sign of it’s unlimited potential. Rather than an end point, he sees the atomic bomb as just the beginning of a new stage of evolution in which Humanity is crowned with the glory of knowledge and comes full face with the roots of existence.

We know today that this discovery is not so easily contained, each of the categories that he discusses are attended by an endless stream of ethical questions that seem insurmountable within the present state of society. Genetics is in the hands of corporations, pharmaceutical companies and a limping Academy, the issues that surround disposal of nuclear waste have stopped development of any far reaching use of nuclear power, and the reactors that have been built are currently decaying under a lapsed economy that cannot support heavy infrastructure maintenance.

We also face an aging population of scientists who have the skills and knowledge that have maintained these reactors up to this point. The physicists, metalurgists and chemists who designed, built and maintained these sites are getting older, or have already passed on, and due to the focus of the Academy on providing ‘thought leaders’ and technicians who are ready to ‘face the future,’ we have left behind much of the knowledge necessary to keep up with what we have.

Some foresaw the tragic potential in this exploration of the inner sanctum of Nature. Writing in the 1930’s the anonymous Adept Fulcanelli discusses a less democratically optimistic view of these advances:

God the Father holds in his hand this globe, surmounted by the fiery sign. The four great ages— historical representations of the four ages of the world—have their sovereigns shown holding this same attribute. They are Alexander, Augustus, Charlemagne and Louis XIV.3 It is this which explains the inscription INRI, exoterically translated as lesus Nazarenus Rex ludeorum (Jesus of Nazaredi, King of the Jews), but which gives to the cross its secret meaning: Igne Nalura Renovatur Integra (By fire nature is renewed whole). For it is by fire and in fire that our hemisphere will soon be tried. And just as, by means of fire, gold is separated from impure metals, so, Scripture says, the good will be separated from the wicked on the great Day of Judgment.

The first three are emperors, the fourth is only a king, the Sun King, thus indicating the decline of the star and its last radiation. This is dusk, the forerunner of the long cyclic night, full of horror and terror, ‘the abomination of desolation.

Mystery of the Cathedrals, Fulcanelli

In alchemical terms this discovery was not the achievement of the Great Work, but the discovery of just one more False Light held up as a distraction and trap. Rather than find the Secret Fire which is attendant to the perfection of the Philosopher’s Stone, they merely encapsulated and unleashed the deadly potential of the Central Fire, whose positive symbolic form is the Fire of Life and thus in polarity the Fire of Death. Following the Traditional philosophy of Cyclical movement, Fulcanelli foresaw this exemplary act of hubris in the form of technological advances that outpace the moral,  intellectual and spiritual advances necessary to maintain them.

In Hindu mythology, the four equal sectors of the circle, formed by the cross, were the basis of a rather strange mystical conception. The entire cycle of human evolution is figured there in the form of a cow, symbolizing Virtue, each of whose four feet rests on one of the sectors representing the four ages of the world. In the first age, corresponding to the Greek age of gold and called the Creda Yuga or age of innocence, Virtue is firmly established on earth: the cow stands squarely on four legs. In the Treda Yuga or second age, corresponding to the age of silver, it is weakened and stands only on three legs. During the Touvabara Yuga, or third age, which is the age of bronze, it is reduced to two legs.

Finally, in the age of iron, our own age, the cyclic cow or human virtue
reaches the utmost degree of feebleness and senility: it is scarcely able to stand, balancing on only one leg. It is the fourth and last age, the Kali Yuga, the age of misery, misfortune and decrepitude.

The age of iron has no other seal than that of Death. Its hieroglyph is the skeleton, bearing the attributes of Saturn: the empty hourglass, symbol of time run out, and the scythe, reproduced in the figure seven, which is the number of transformation, of destruction, of annihilation. The Gospel of this fatal age is the one written under the inspiration of St. Matthew. Matthaeus, Greek  Ματθαῖος, comes from Ματταθίας, which means science. This word has given μελέτη, μνημονικός,  study, knowledge, from μάθετε, to learn. It is the Gospel according to Science, the last of all but for us the first, because it teaches us that, save for a small number of the elite, we must all perish. For this reason the angel was made the attribute of St. Matthew, because science, which alone is capable of penetrating die mystery of things, of beings and their destiny, can give man wings to raise him to knowledge of the highest truths and finally to God.

– Mysteries of the Cathedrals, Fulcanelli

There is a Loretta Lynn song titled “Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die,” that speaks very plainly to the issue at hand. Every one wants the advances of technology, but too many lack the humility, the ego transformed in death, to truly benefit. Worse, those who are actively pursuing development in these areas have proven time and again that their quest is based on idle curiosity, vainglory or envy.

I spoke of the Spirit of the Earth. What are we to understand by that ambiguous phrase?

Is it the Promethean or Faustian spirit: the spirit of autonomy and solitude; Man with his own strength and for his own sake opposing a blind and hostile Universe; the rise of consciousness concluding in an act of possession?

Is it the Christian spirit, on the contrary: the spirit of service and of giving; Man struggling like Jacob to conquer and attain a supreme center of consciousness which calls to him; the evolution of the earth ending in an act of union?

Spirit of force or spirit of love? Where shall we place true heroism, where look for true greatness, where recognize objective truth?

It would take too long, and it is outside the scope of this paper, to discuss the comparative worth of two opposed forms of adoration, the first of which may well have attracted poets, but only the second of which, I think, presents itself to the reflective mind as capable of conferring upon a universe in motion its full spiritual coherence, its total substance beyond death, and finally its whole message for our hearts.(Witnesses of that experiment in Arizona found, in the anguish of the last instants, that in the depths of their hearts they were praying. [Official Report: appendices.])

What does matter here is to note that Mankind cannot go much further along the road upon which it has embarked through its latest conquests without having to settle (or be divided intellectually on) the question of which summit it must seek to attain.

In short, the final effect of the light cast by the atomic fire into the spiritual depths of the earth is to illumine within them the over-riding question of the ultimate end of Evolution — that is to say, the problem of God.”

– From Some Reflections on the Spiritual Repercussions of the Atom Bomb, Pierre Teilhard De Chardin

Both Teilhard De Chardin and Fulcanelli saw the end point of these advances to be a meeting with the Divine, with the end point of Being. What Fulcanelli has pointed out with more honesty is that such a meeting is always attended by a trial, and that the quest for Illumination requires a sacrifice. Despite the title of his Reflections leading one to think that they explore the Spiritual repercussions of the atomic bomb, Teilhard De Chardin’s analysis remains firmly rooted in the physical sphere, blind to the full implication of Igne Nalura Renovatur Integra (By fire nature is renewed whole,) and lacking the realization that Actaeon, upon his vision of Diana, was devoured by his own dogs.

As Ira and Charlie Louvin sing so sweetly:

Do you fear this man’s invention that they call atomic power. Are we all in great confusion, do we know the time or hour, when a terrible explosion may rain down upon our land, leaving horrible destruction
blotting out the works of man?

Are you ready for that great atomic power? Will you rise and meet your savior in the air? Will you shout or will you cry when the fire rains from on high? Are you ready for that great atomic power?”

Note: This post is dedicated to Zac Odinn who has been instrumental in introducing me to the many mysteries of Almagordo.

Initiation, Art and the Inner Ontological Shift

An Interview with Sasha Chaitow, Academic Director of the Phoenix Rising Digital Academy:

In our technologically ravaged age we often lose sight of the inner resources necessary to fully express our creativity and intellect. With the ease that comes with digital art, the deeper connections that the creative process requires and engenders is something that can be passed over in the lust for immediate results.

Studies in the humanities are facing strained support from the mainstream Academy. As scientism increases its stranglehold on our culture we hear the continuous hum of critique that philosophy, poetry and literature have had their day, it’s time for more practical concerns.  In this environment it has become more important than ever for serious scholars to seek outside the Academy to create institutions that support and encourage society to continue seeking a deeper understanding of life that goes beyond corporate interests or shallow scientific discoveries.

Sascha Chaitow is director of the Phoenix Rising Digital Academy, an online initiative to “to reinstate appreciation and scholarship of philosophy and culture.”  Phoenix Rising allows scholars a place to continue to address the depth of culture, and, through digital communications, presents a new avenue for these discussions to happen on a global scale.

The potential of the Esoteric Renaissance is well represented by individuals who embrace the full spectrum of our times. As an artist, scholar and innovator, Sasha has embraced the potential of technology to explore areas that many futurists neglect in their forecasts.  In the following conversation Sasha discusses her artistic practice and provides insight into the interstices of art, culture and Tradition.

***

What inspired you to pursue painting?

Synaesthesia and music. I’ve always been synaesthetic – a quality (aka condition!) meaning that I associate sensory input from one sense with that of another. In my case, it means that I visualize images, colours and shapes, when hearing sound or reading text.  It all began with Jim Morrison’s poetry when I was 14, and I later traced his sources and drew inspiration from the Beat authors, then moved to Blake, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and John Milton. This led to an enduring interest in the Fallen Angels mythos and Gnostic cosmology, which was also essentially my lead-in to the study of esotericism. I quickly reached a point where the images my mind would generate when reading poetry in particular would form in a constant cascade, which I felt compelled to bring into reality. I have always accompanied my paintings with excerpts from the texts or poems or song lyrics that inspired them because for me they are an integral part of the work itself.

How can the artistic process aid in initiation?

In its most simple form, initiation is an inner ontological shift – one which I conceive of as an ongoing, immanent process. Traditionally (within the Western Esoteric Tradition), initiation for the individual is supposed to be a process of understanding, connecting and uniting body, mind and spirit so as to produce a very special kind of perception of the world and our own existence – something that Patrick Harpur calls “a different way of seeing” which Joseph Campbell also describes beautifully in Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Now, the creative process leads to several leaps of faith and a lot of inner work, whether one is esoterically minded or not. The process of creating anything is an extremely powerful one, which demands that the artist (or musician or poet or writer) reach past his/her very self into that invisible realm of Ideas that Henri Corbin termed the Imaginal mesocosm. It requires a very specific frame of mind and way of seeing the world – one which I believe artists of all kinds do naturally. For it to become an initiatory process however, the artist needs to consciously examine the thought processes that s/he follows when “visited by the Muse.” This inevitably leads to soul-searching questions, many of which are difficult and which I suspect lie at the heart of the “tortured artist” stereotype. Yet if one persists, one becomes conscious of being a part of the creative impulse within Nature itself – one comes to understand the imagination quite intimately, and in the process, learns a lot about oneself.

Initiation has become very strongly embedded within formalized ritual in a good number of esoteric systems, but to my mind the act of creating an art-form is a ritual in and of itself, even if the motions of that ritual involve laying out the tools of one’s trade, creating an atmosphere appropriate for working in, tuning one’s instrument, rather than what we would traditionally consider ritualistic acts. Hence, following a number of esoteric thinkers over the centuries, I am quite convinced that the creative process is a powerful, if not a supreme, initiatory vehicle for anyone with a predisposition to explore it, and I also believe it is also open to everyone, regardless of talent and artistic bent; hence its healing power as witnessed in the various art therapy systems. It is not the technical result which is important, but conscious engagement with the creative process.

What inspires your art?

Symbolism, wordplay, double entendres and palimpsestic meaning.  Or, put another way, anagogical thinking (See Angela Voss’ excellent essay on the topic). I am far less interested in exploring visual techniques than I am in finding new and surprising ways to communicate layered meaning so as to surprise and engage the viewer.

I see visual art as a language and draw heavily from the emblematic and esoteric symbolic traditions in order to tell whole, layered stories –  through a painting. I like dealing with uncomfortable or equivocal meanings that somehow relate to central esoteric concepts; the question of evil for example, or that of initiation itself. A number of my more recent paintings deal with the initiatory journey itself, and I have made use of a number of ancient and archetypal symbolic conventions presented in portrait form. Even if the viewer does not consciously comprehend each of the symbols, it is my belief that in some way they resonate with the unconscious mind.

Are there specific art movements that focus more heavily on the “artist as initiate” than others or is this a common theme in art?

Although it has appeared a number of times as a source of inspiration, I don’t think I would go as far as to say that it is a common theme as such, though I would be surprised if the sensations and thought-processes I have mentioned above are not familiar to all artists, regardless of the technique or philosophy they choose to express. Looking back in time there are artists whom we may consider initiates on account of their depth of esoteric insight, yet they may have considered themselves tradesmen or artisans, or something else entirely.

Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Poussin are some such examples. Artistic movements that show a clear awareness of this concept make their appearance in the 18th century, as part of the early counter-Enlightenment, and those aspects of Romanticism that were most influenced by Illuminism. It was widely discussed by Fabre d’Olivet, Saint-Martin and elaborated by Novalis, Schlegel, and Pierre-Simon Ballanche. The poet was respectively seen as “the recipient and transmitter of revelation and a divine universal language,” “a priest who will lead humanity to its eschatological fulfillment by relinking the world here below and divine transcendence,” while “poetry is the intuitive faculty of penetrating the essence of beings and things. 1

In addition, the 19th century French Symbolist movement was almost entirely inspired by this concept as put forward by Josephin Peladan, an eccentric and greatly misunderstood figure in the history of both esotericism and art. Peladan’s work and vision is in fact the topic of my PhD thesis, in which I hope to rehabilitate his image, to some extent at least!

Who are your favorite “artist initiates”?

To answer that it depends how strict I should be about defining the term “initiates”, as I believe that all artists are initiates, whether they realise it or not,  not only restricted to those movements which consciously attempted to utilise art to such ends. They would certainly include the Renaissance Masters, especially figures such as Gustave Dore, Bosch and El Greco, the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood (Rossetti in particular), and a good many figures from the Symbolist movement,  such as Jean Delville, Gustave Moreau, Carlos Schwabe, Nikolai Konstantin Kalmakoff, and Nikolai Roerich.

One cannot leave out the poets such as Rimbaud and Baudelaire, nor the musicians and dancers, such as Stravinsky and Nijinsky. Then, of course, there is Wagner, who, controversies aside, was also an immensely influential figure for the 19th century symbolist movement and whose theories Peladan developed.

Are there any contemporary artists that you think elaborate on this idea?

Indeed, though there are different categories: those artists who may have no knowledge nor interest in these concepts, yet whose art communicates breathtaking insights, artists who deliberately seek to use their art as a mode for communicating these ideas, and those who go as far as to incorporate art and ritual as well as to develop these concepts still further.

Some wonderful contemporary artists who depict overtly alchemical and other esoteric themes include  Laurence Caruana, Eleonore Weil, Vincenzo Marano, Karena Karras, and Madeline von Foerster, among many others. I think this concept is also at the heart of the performance art so frequently found in occulture and pagan festivals in recent years.

How are the visual arts like alchemy?

Although there is a danger of oversimplification in terms of historical and cultural relationships between the two, nonetheless both art and alchemy have immense transformative powers, and both require the uninterrupted input of the active imagination (see Dr Voss’s article linked to above, as well as the seminal article by Henri Corbin – Mundis Imaginalis ), which in turn,  they both enrich.

Both art and alchemy are processes of becoming, of manifestation and of metamorphosis, which only yield as much as is put in. Both of them are acts of Poïesis (creation or manifestation), and the supreme act of love, according to Socrates, is “a begetting in the soul which strives for the Forms, the only way to possess immortality and true happiness.” 2 In this sense, they are alternative routes to the same end, making use of the same driving force (Eros) in order to reconcile dualities and imperfections in matter and in Man, and a means to achieving immortality, whether in the form of an image which by its nature is timeless, or of the Philosophers’ Stone, which in this case is a clearly symbolic and philosophical end in itself.

Do you think that today’s alchemical practitioners have the view of becoming “conscious (intermediaries) in the process of redeeming dualities between man and nature, matter and the divine.”?

I daresay that depends on the practitioner! That particular process could be described as being the epitome of medieval and Renaissance alchemical practice, wherein it would be unthinkable to separate theory and practice, and those who did focus on practice for material gain were disdained as charlatans of the lowest order!

In modern times, the opposite seems to have occurred, as thanks to Jung the spiritual aspect of alchemy has by and large been isolated and cut off from its practical side. The reason this is misguided, even though it has its own value as a spiritual-psychological way of seeing the world, is because Nature – material nature and her correspondences with both Man and the Divine – are at the heart of alchemical work.  To truncate that means that one is no longer practicing alchemy, but a form of spirituality inspired by alchemy.

Is it possible for art to have the same effect?

I firmly believe that it is, with one major caveat, as expressed above. The artist is always in danger of losing touch with material reality, and many artists do truly suffer from the “tortured poet” syndrome. One esoteric explanation for this relates to the effect of the spiritus mundi: expressed beautifully by Franz von Baader:

“[E]very true poet or artist never escapes a doubled affect or emotion. Each yearning after the manifestation or incarnation of the Idea [Sophia] in any case has the complementary effect of pain and even anger against the refracting Substance.”

Baader is referring to both the imperfection of the manifested image compared to the Idea, as well as the ‘labour pains’ experienced in the conflict with the spiritus mundi, explained by Arthur Versluis as corresponding to “the demiurge of the ancient Gnostics: the power of selfishness, of acquisitiveness and of power-over.” 3The manifestation of this effect is the dark, melancholic, Saturnian  side of art, abounding with ‘metaphysical despair,’ or ‘incandescent melancholia’ explained in modern terms as ‘the expression of the attitudes, the feelings and the ideas of a man who has left static mechanism but has not yet arrived at a reintegration of his thought and art in terms of dynamic organicism. 4 Its alchemical correspondence is of course the nigredo phase of the prima materia – so necessary and brimming with potentiality which can be manifested once the dark night of the soul (allegorical, figurative, or literal) can be overcome.

  1. 1. Antoine Fabre d’Olivet, La langue hebraïque restituée, (1815-1816) F. Schlegel, Novalis, Athenaeum (1798-1800)
  2. 2 Robert Cavalier, “The Nature of Eros ,” http://caae.phil.cmu.edu/Cavalier/80250/Plato/Symposium/Sym2.html
  3. 3 Franz von Baader, ‘On a Lasting and Universal Spiritual Manifestation Here Below,’     in Arthur Versluis ed., trans., Wisdom’s Book, pp. 241-247 (p. 245) – Arthur Versluis, Wisdom’s Book, p. 16
  4. 4 Morse Peckham, ‘Towards a Theory of Romanticism,’ repr. in. Gleckner and Enscoe, Romanticism: Points of View (Detroit, 1962) p. 242 cited in Wouter Hanegraaff, ‘Romanticism and the Esoteric Tradition,’ Gnosis and Hermeticism, pp. 245-7 (p246)

Sasha Chaitow is the founding director  of Phoenix Rising.

Sasha Chaitow  is a graduate of EXESESO MA Western Esotericism (Exeter) and MA English Literature (Indianapolis-Athens).  She is assistant professor in Religious Studies at the University of Indianapolis Athens, and also an artist, writer, and events organiser. Her research interests include art and esotericism, mind and consciousness, ritual and initiation, and Modern Greek Masonic history.She is also an artist, painting portraits on commission and alchemically surrealist-symbolic images on inspiration. Sasha directed the 1st International Phoenix Rising Conference entitled “A Dying Society or a Renaissance for the 21st Century, ” which took place on 6th & 7th November 2009, in Athens, Greece. She was also coordinator for Greece for the 2008 Esoteric Quest Conference, on the theme of Ancient Greek Mysteries and Philosophy, hosted by the New York Open Centre and which took place on Samothrace, Greece.

Phoenix Rising Digital Academy

Online courses in Western Esotericism, Philosophy and Art are made globally available by an international faculty of accomplished scholars seeking to reinstate appreciation and scholarship of philosophy and culture.

This independent academic initiative is a direct response to the closure of many university programmes in the Liberal Arts across Western universities, and to the perceived need for better academic representation of neglected aspects of Western Esoteric Traditions outside formalised academia. Phoenix Rising Academy is the first such initiative globally to combine serious scholarship of these topics at entry-level with digital learning technology. For 2011 the Academy offers 39 courses covering numerous topics across the spectrum of Esotericism and the Arts, ranging from introductory courses in Esoteric topics to Occultism in pop culture and more.

In a time of cultural crisis and widespread misinformation, this Academy’s purpose is to offer accessible and accurate information on a broader scale, with an active interest in bridging the widening gap in the humanities. Online and live events and intensive seminars are in planning for various locations in the UK and Greece.

Visit www.phoenixrising.org.gr for full course listings and detailed information about the Academy’s philosophy, structure, faculty and activities.