Tag Archives: mythology

Hermetic Rebirth and the Cave of Initiation

 

Hermetism is often and wrongly confused with Gnosticism, which similarly originated in Egypt in roughly the same era. For present purposes, a few salient points of contrast will suffice. Like the God of Stoicism, the Hermetic God was omnipresent and omniscient through the material cosmos. In Gnosticism, by contrast, God was transcendent, and the physical universe was an evil place created by an evil Demiurge (van den Broek 1998). Hermetic ethics celebrated the divine within the world; Gnostic ethics were abstemious, ascetic efforts to escape from the world (Mahé 1998).

There were also differences in their valuations of visions. Jonas (1969) drew attention to the fact that the motif of heavenly ascension was originally intended, for example in Jewish apocalyptic literature, as an objective reality, but was subsequently transformed into an allegory of the mystical path. The mystical appropriation of the ascension motif was complete by the second century era of the Alexandrine Christian fathers, St. Clement and Origen (Danielou 1973).

The allegorical tradition was also present in the Gnostic literature of Nag Hammadi, although in a slightly different manner. Referring to experiences of visions in general, The Exegesis on the Soul 34 stated: “Now it is fitting that the soul regenerate herself….This is the resurrection that is from the dead. This is the ransom from captivity. This is the upward journey of ascent to heaven. This is the way of ascent to the father” (Robinson 1988:196). For the Gnostics, as for the Alexandrine fathers, ascension was one among several literary tropes that could signify mystical experiences of highly varied manifest contents.

So far as I know, the Hermetic system was the earliest in the West to propose a mystical initiation, consisting of multiple experiences, that is simultaneously a journey through places and a series of changes in the ontology of the self. Its ascension to the sky compares with Jewish and Christian apocalypticism; but its division of ontological states compares with Neoplatonic distinctions among sensibles, intermediates or divisible intelligibles, and indivisible intelligibles.

This sequence, which can already be discerned in Iamblichus, was eventually formalized by Proclus as three mystical stages of purgation, illumination, and union. However, the Hermetists slotted imaginals into the middle position that Neoplatonism limited to empirically demonstrable arithmeticals and geometricals.

This substitution brought Hermetism to a position on visions that differed from the reductive skepticism of Neoplatonism, which treated visions as ideas that were misrepresented by the senses in the form of images.

The Hermetic position also differed from the pure projections that Gnostics held visions to be. For Hermetists, the imaginal was not a projection whose ever various and impredictable content becomes increasingly pure as one’s mind purifies in its progress toward God. The imaginal was instead topographical, an actual and predictable itinerary in a visionary topos that had ontological integrity and coherence.

Although The Discourse was not transmitted to the West in the Corpus Hermeticum, the Hermetic concept of ontologically distinctive locations along an itinerary has been integral to Western esotericism for centuries. Because the Hermetic tradition survived without apparent interruption from late antiquity to be taught at least as late as eleventh century Baghdad, it is not surprising that a series of initiatory experiences were portrayed as an itinerary across nine mountains in Suhrawardi’s Treatise of the Birds (1982).

Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi (1154–1191)

To Suhrawardi, Sufism also owed the introduction of the ‘alam al-mithal, the “world of imagination” (Rahman 1964). The notion of an initiatory itinerary in the world of imagination was formalized, or at least made less esoteric, in the Sufism of Najm ad-Din al-Kubra (Merkur 1991:223, 234-35); and its passage from Islam to western Europe may be assumed.

Interestingly, Widengren (1950:77-85) demonstrated that the ancient motif of ascension to an audience before a heavenly god was replaced, in the Arabic Hermetic literature, by the motif of entering a subterranean chamber where Hermes sits enthroned, holding a book in his hand. Widengren suggested that the descent of Balinas (the Arabic Apollonius of Tyana) to acquire the Emerald Table of Hermes, along with variant narratives, blended the motif of an initiatory ascension with the motif, found in Egyptian and Hellenistic tales, of the discovery of a book in a subterranean chamber.

An illustration from an old collection of stories translated from Ancient Eyptian Literature. This scene depicts the character “Setna”, emerging from a tomb where he gambled to win a magical papyrus, known as the Book Of Thoth, the reading of which would empower him with all knowledge. Setna was based on a real person, Prince Khaemwaset, the fourth son of Ramesses II, who was a Holy Man of the highest order (Sem Priest) and credited as being a great magician. (It was this character from Ancient History that I give all credit to for embarking on my own Hermetic Journey – Jaq) Setna/Prince Khaemwaset

The motif of the cave of initiation, which found its widest audience through the tale of Aladdin in the 1001 Nights, may also have been influenced by Porphyry’s On the Cave of the Nymphs (Taylor 1969), in which a passage in Homer was allegorized as an image of the cosmos. Whatever its sources, the motif of an alchemical initiation by means of a subterranean itinerary is earliest attested in the writings of medieval Arabic Hermetists.

By this route, the motif of ascension in late antique Hermetism was likely historically antecedent not only to such celebrated European alchemical motifs as the Cave of the Philosophers, but also to the climactic encounters in Novalis’ Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1796) and Ferdinand Ossendowski’s Beasts, Men and Gods (1922).

Engraving from Baro Urbigerus Besondere chymische Schrifften, 1705.

Source: Stages of Ascension in Hermetic Rebirth

The Discourse on the 8th and 9th

The Corpus Hermeticum

Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi (1154–1191)

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Tree Folklore: Birch, the Lady of the Wood – Jo Woolf

All images © 2016 Jo Woolf

(from Tree Folklore: Birch, the Lady of the Wood – #FolkloreThursday)

Beith’ or birch is the first symbol of the Ogham alphabet, representing the letter ‘B’, and ancient birch woodlands are immortalised in many Gaelic place names: examples include Glen an Beithe, Allt Beithe, and Beith in Ayrshire; the old name of ‘birk’ also appears in many parts of Scotland and England. It’s interesting to note that a fungus known as witches’ broom (Taphrina betulina) grows on birch trees, causing dense clusters of short twigs that look like untidy birds’ nests. Having stimulated this sudden growth, the fungus then feeds on the new shoots without inflicting too much harm on the tree itself.Birch with witches’ broom fungus.

Traditionally, birch is said to be full of the light of the warrior-god Lugh, and the old belief in its power to drive out evil is strong and persistent: even in Victorian times, naughty schoolchildren would find themselves on the wrong end of a birch switch; and ceremonies of ‘beating the bounds’, many of which have survived into the present day, involved the ritual tapping of local boundaries with staffs of birch or willow. Cradles made from birch were believed to protect new-born babies from malicious spirits, and in the folklore of the Highlands, it was said that a pregnant cow herded with a birch stick would bear a healthy calf; and if the animal was barren, she would become fertile.

In Norse mythology, the birch was sacred to the goddesses Frigg and Freya, who are believed by some scholars to share the same origin; and in Welsh legend, the tree was linked with Blodeuwedd, the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes – interestingly, the Welsh equivalent of Lugh. The Irish warrior Diarmuid and his lover, Grainne, slept on beds of birch twigs when they fled from the wrath of Fionn mac Cumhaill, to whom Grainne had been promised in marriage. “The birch has always been associated with the spirits of the dead and with those that mourn, for, in sympathy with the sorrowing, ‘weeps the birch of silver bark with long dishevell’d hair’.” Trees and How They Grow by G Clarke Nuttall, 1913.

Birch can mark the threshold between this world and the next: in The Wife of Usher’s Well, an old ballad which appears in Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, a mother grieves for the loss of her three sons whom she had sent “o’er the sea” – perhaps to find their fortune in war. Superstition decreed that the dead should not be mourned for more than a year and a day, or else their restless spirits might return to haunt the living; but the woman took no heed of this advice, and in the depths of winter the ghosts of her sons appeared, wearing hats of birch to protect them from the physical world which they had left behind

Jo Woolf

  • All images © 2016 Jo Woolf

More at the Source: Tree Folklore: Birch, the Lady of the Wood – #FolkloreThursday

The Turning Sky | Lapham’s Quarterly

“The god Horus is a falcon (the word for which in hieroglyphs is qhr, the falcon’s cry). In the third surviving column of text, remarkably, the falcon is marked with a triangle, the hieroglyphic designation for the star Sirius. As if it were a mathematical proof unfolding before my eyes, I saw that if the falcon marked by the triangle is Sirius, the fire is the light of dawn in which the gods—the things marked holy by the hieroglyphic prayer flags—are stars. The baboon’s penis is in actuality a familiar sight: the Sword of Orion (the three stars under Orion’s belt), which rises directly before Sirius on the path of rising stars. The hieroglyphic lines on the wall express an immediate, visual moment in the physical world: the dawn rising of Sirius signaling the rising of the Nile, the key moment of the Egyptian agricultural year. The clear, repetitive, and simple hieroglyphic lines read not as a magic spell but as a finely machined poetic riddle: The Sword of Orion opens the doors of the sky. Before the doors close the gate to the path over the fire Beneath the holy ones as they grow dark, As a falcon flies, as a falcon flies, may Unis rise into this fire, Beneath the holy ones as they grow dark. They make a path for Unis. Unis takes the path. Unis becomes the falcon star, Sirius. That this was the case was borne out by the text as I translated further. Beautifully constructed verses presented one vivid astronomical reference after another: Taurus (“Would that the bull break the fingers of the horizon of earth with its horns. / Come out. Rise.”), the full moon (“the face, the head, the eye”), the North Star (“the axis at the center of the wheel”), the Dippers (“the arms of night”), the Milky Way (“the ladder to heaven”). The verses of the Pyramid Texts map the night sky as a detailed seasonal clock reliably predicting the most critical resource of all: water. Egyptian civilization came out of radical climate change—cattle herders whose grazing land was rapidly becoming desert as the water dried up in the climate shift of the Neolithic, much as is happening in Texas and around the world today.

The verses present a sequence of poetic images in which the human body is transformed back into its elements in the visible universe of the turning sky. The remnant essence of a human life rises as a star in the east: “moses” (the hieroglyphic word for infant) in “the field of rushes” (the eastern stars at dawn). The infant star is the child of “she who gave birth but did not know it” (the sky). The sky is a flood of cool darkness across which sail the stars: Sirius and its evil twin, “the detested wild dog Set,” the second brightest star in the sky, Canopus, the rising of which signals the autumn rains with their deadly flash floods and thunderstorms. Through this glittering wetland of stars wanders the golden calf, the golden crescent horns of the moon.

This extraordinary convergence of poetry, science, and religion resides not only in the writing but in the pictures within the words themselves. Osiris is a phonetic rendering of a hieroglyphic rebus: the seat of the eye, the universal corpse in which resurrection is not a religious mystery but an inevitability of nature. In the Pyramid Texts, hieroglyphic vocabulary is rich with images: The body is a tree. The snake is the life in it. The fruit of the tree is the eye. What is being expressed is the intelligence of nature itself in the ongoing process of creation: the death, decay, and rebirth of plant and animal life in the cyclical year. One familiar religious trope after another appears not as literal historical fact used to proscribe, threaten, and dictate the parameters of human life but as poetic imagery used to bring to life the awareness of our fragile and beautiful world. The richness of these images is echoed in the Book of Job: “As for the earth, out of it cometh bread, and under it is turned up as it were fire. The stones of it are the place of sapphires, and it hath dust of gold.” The Pyramid Texts are not magic spells or religious prescription any more than this. Instead, the text takes up a key question: Where shall wisdom be found?

…over the fire
Beneath the holy ones as they grow dark,

As a falcon flies, as a falcon flies, may Unis rise into this fire,

Beneath the holy ones as they grow dark.

They make a path for Unis. Unis takes the path.

Unis becomes the falcon star, Sirius.

 

Would that the bull break the fingers of the horizon of earth with its horns.

Come out. Rise.

Poetry and religion arise from the same source: the perception of the mystery of life. Early Egyptian writing belongs to this eternal language. The vehicle at work is associative thinking, in which metaphors act as keys to unlock a primeval human sense of the integrated living world. The meaning may not come across on the pedantic level, but on the poetic level it is transparent.”

Source: The Turning Sky | Lapham’s Quarterly

Susan Brind Morrow

Susan Brind Morrow’s translation and analysis of the Pyramid Texts, The Dawning Moon of the Mind: Unlocking the Pyramid Texts, was published in 2015. She received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship in 2006.

Eos – The Light of All-Seeing Dawn

T19.12Helios

 

Eosphoros, god of the morning star, Venus, leads the procession of the day: the chariots of Eos, the dawn, and Helios the sun. Eosphoros is depicted as a handsome young winged god with a shining aureole upon his head. Helios and Eos likewise appear as aureole crowned youths, each driving a four horse chariot (quadriga). Beneath the chariot wheels are dancing fish and dolphins, to indicate their dawn rising from the sea.

“The light of all-seeing Dawn (Eos).” -Theogony 404f“

When the young Eos (Dawn) showed again with her rosy fingers.” –Iliad 1.477

“The goddess Eos drew close to tall Olympos with her message of light to Zeus and the other immortals.” –Iliad 2.48-49

“Dawn (Eos) the yellow-robed scattered over all the earth.” –Iliad 8.1 & 24.695

“Eos rose from her bed, where she lay by haughty Tithonos, to carry her light to men and to immortals.” –Iliad 11.1

“Eos the yellow-robed arose from the river of Okeanos to carry her light to men and to immortals.” –Iliad 19.1-2

“Eos (Dawn) comes early, with rosy fingers.” –Odyssey 2.1, etc. (repeated many times)

“The goddess Eos, who had slept beside Lord Tithonos, was rising now to bring light to immortals and to mortals.” –Odyssey 5.1

“When Eos of the braided tresses had ushered in the third day.” –Odyssey 5.390, 10.144

“Forthwith came Eos in her flowery garment.” –Odyssey 6.48

“Eos appeared in her flowery cloth of gold.” –Odyssey 10.540, etc

“The ship [of Odysseus] in due course left the waters of the river Okeanos and reached the waves of the spacious sea and the island of Aiaia; it is there that Eos the early-comer (Erigeneia) has her dwelling place and her dancing grounds, and the sun himself has his risings [so therefore must be located in the far East]. We came came in; we beached our vessel upon the sands and disembarked upon the sea-shore; there we fell fast asleep, awaiting ethereal Dawn.” –Odyssey 12.1-6

“That brightest of stars appeared [Eosphoros] that most often heralds the light of early-rising Dawn (Eos Erigineia).” –Odyssey 13.93

“Eos in her broidered robe as she rises from the streams of Okeanos.” –Odyssey 22.195

“Rosy-fingered Dawn (Eos) when she appeared might have found them still in melting mood, but Athene of the gleaming-eyes turned her thought to another stratagem. She held back the night to linger long at the horizon, checking Eos of the broidered robe at the edge of Okeanos and bidding her not to yoke as yet the rapid horses that bring men light, Lampos and Phaithon, the young steeds of Eos … When it seemed to her [Athene] that Odysseus had has heart’s content of both love and sleep, forthwith she roused up Eos (Dawn) of the broidered robe from Okeanos to bring light to mankind again.” –Odyssey 23.244f

“There was an assembly on snowy Olympos, and the immortals who perish not were gathering after the hour of gold-throned (khrysothronon) Eos.” -Homeric Hymn IV to Hermes 326-328

“As when descends Eos (Dawn) from Olympus’ crest of adamant, Eos, heart-exultant in her radiant steeds amidst the bright-haired Horai (Hours).” -Quintus Smyrnaeus 1.48

“[Eos] Phaesphoros Erigeneia (she who brings Light to the world, the Child of Mists of Night) … began to climb Heaven’s broad highway.” -Quintus Smyrnaeus 2.185

“From Okeanos then uprose Eos (Dawn) golden-reined: like a soft wind upfloated Hypnos (Sleep) to heaven.” -Quintus Smyrnaeus 5.395

“Rose Eos (Dawn) from Okeanos and Tithonos’ bed, and climbed the steeps of heaven, scattering round flushed flakes of splendour.” -Quintus Smyrnaeus 6.1

“For Helios the Sun’s lot is toil … from the moment rose-fingered Eos (the Dawn) leaves Okeanos and goes up into the sky.” –Mimnermus Frag 12

“Lady (Pontia) Eos .. golden-armed (khrysopakhos).” -Greek Lyric I Sappho Frag 6

“Golden-sandaled (khrysopedillos) Auos [Eos].” -Greek Lyric I Sappho Frag 103

“Hesperos, bringing everything that shining Auos [Eos] scattered, you bring the sheep, you bring the goat, you bring back the child to its mother.” -Greek Lyric I Sappho Frag 104

“Lady Auos [Eos].” -Greek Lyric I Sappho Frag 157

“Rosy-fingered Eos.” -Greek Lyric II The Anacreontea Frag 35

“For the Pleiades, as we carry a plough to Orthria (Goddess of the Morning Twilight), rise through the ambrosial night like the star Sirius.” “I long to please Aotis (Dawn-goddess) most of all, for she proved the healer of our sufferings.” -Greek Lyric II Alcman Frag 1

“When white-cheeked Aos [Eos] climbs the heavens, early-born (Erigeneia).” -Greek Lyric III Ibycus Frag 284

“Aas [Eos], leaving the waters of Okeanos, drew from the sky the moon’s holy light.” -Greek Lyric IV Corinna Frag 690

“Gold-armed (khrysopakhos) Aos.” -Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides Frag 5

“On a dark-blossoming sea Boreas rends men’s hearts with the billows, coming face to face with them as night rises up, but ceases on the arrival of Aos (Dawn) who gives light to mortals and a gentle breeze levels the sea, and they belly out their sail before Notos’ breath.” -Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides Frag 13

“The lovely light of immortal Aous.” -Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides Frag 17

“White-horsed Aos as she brings light to men looks down.” -Greek Lyric IV Bacchylides Frag 20C

“Eos’ horses went racing up the sky today, bearing her all rosy from Okeanos’ bed.” -Theocritus Idyll 2.145f

“When Ge learned of this, she sought a drug that would prevent their [the Gigantes] destruction even by mortal hands. But Zeus barred the appearance of Eos (the Dawn), Selene (the Moon), and Helios (the Sun), and chopped up the drug himself before Ge could find it. ” -Apollodorus 1.34-38

“Radiant Eos with her bright eyes beheld the towering crags of Pelion [ie the mountain was touched by the light of Dawn].” –Argonautica 1.519

“At the hour when bright-eyed Eos comes up to light the eastern sky, and all the paths stand out and the fields glisten with dew.” –Argonautica 1.1280

“Eos (Dawn) arrived, showing herself betimes above the snows of Kaukasos.” –Argonautica 3.1224

“Eos’ (Dawn’s) celestial beams chased black Nyx (night) from the sky.” –Argonautica 4.1170

“And while the daring boy [Phaithon] in wonder gazed, Aurora [Eos], watchful in the reddening dawn, threw wide her crimson doors and rose-filled halls; the stars took flight, in marshalled order set by Lucifer [Eosphoros] who left his station last. Then, when Sol [Helios] perceived the morning star setting and aw the world in crimson sheen and the last lingering crescent of the moon fade in the dawn, he bade the nimble Hours go yoke his steeds.” –Metamorphoses 2.113f

“Aurora [Eos] rising with dewy hair.” -Metamorphoses 5.446

“When on his milk-white steed Luciferus [Eosphoros the Morning-Star] rides forth, or when, bright harbinger of day, Aurora [Eos] gilds the globe to greet the sun.” –Metamorphoses 15.88

“Tithonus’ wife [Eos] drops dew from her saffron cheeks and drives the time of the fifth morning.” –Ovid Fasti 3.403

“When Pallantis [Eos the dawn] next gleams in heaven and stars flee and Luna’s [Selene the Moon’s] snow-white horses are unhitched.” –Ovid Fasti 4.373

“Memnon’s saffron mother [Eos] arrives to view the widening earth on rosy horses.” –Ovid Fasti 4.713

“Hyperion’s daughter [Eos the dawn] expels the stars and lifts her rose lamp on the morning’s horses, cold Argestes (the North-West wind) will caress the topmost ears of corn.” –Ovid Fasti 5.159

“Aurora [Eos] had chased from heaven the dewy darkness, was carrying the sun’s torch far and wide over the earth.” –Aeneid 4.12

“And now was Aurora [Eos], leaving the saffron bed of Tithonus, beginning to shower upon earth the light of another day.” –Aeneid 4.585

“Tithonus’ bounteous wife [Eos], ruffling the sea with the new-born sunlight.” –Valerius Flaccus 1.310

“The fires of the maid Pallantidos [Eos daughter of the Titan Pallas] grow faint in the east, the land lightens.” –Valerius Flaccus 2.72

“Tithonus’ bride [Eos] dissolved the chill shadows and uncurtained the heavens.” –Valerius Flaccus 3.1

“And now Aurora [Eos the Dawn] rising from her Mygdonian [her husband Tithonos’] resting-place had scattered the cold shadows from the high heaven, and shaking the dew-drops from her hair blushed deep in the sun’s pursuing beams; toward her through the clouds rosy Lucifer [Eosphoros, the morning-star] turns his late fires, and with slow steed leaves an alien world, until the fiery father’s [Helios the Sun’s] orb be full replenished and he forbid his sister to usurp his rays.” –Thebaid 2.134

“The bright consort of Tithonus [Eos the Dawn] had shown in heaven her toil-bringing car, and Nox [Nyx, night] and Somnus [Hypnos, sleep] with empty [sleep-inducing] horn were fleeing from the pale goddess’ wakeful reins.” –Thebaid 6.25

“It was the time when Phoebus’ [Helios the Sun’s] fiery sister [Eos the Dawn], hearing the sound of his yoked steeds and the roar of Oceanus’ cavernous abode beneath the gathering dawn, collects her straying beams and with light flick of whip chases the stars away.” –Thebaid 8.271

“Not ye had the wakeful dawn put all the stars to flight from heaven, and Luna [Selene the Moon] was beholding the approach of day with fading horn, what time Tithonia [Eos the Dawn] scatters the clouds in hurrying rout, and prepares the wide firmament for the return of Phoebus [Helios the Sun].” –Thebaid 12.1

“Eos (Dawn) in her car was just speeding back from Okeanos in the East and marking great space of sky with slowly brightening light, dispelling night.” –Tryphiodorus 670

“So oft hath Tithonia [Eos goddess of the dawn] passed by my groans [from lack of sleep], and pitying sprinkled me with her cool whip [the dewy whip with which she chases away the stars].” –Silvae 5.4.1

“Aurora [Eos the Dawn] with her crimson trapping brandished her rosy arm and began to driver her chariot across the sky.” –Apuleius 3.1

“[Zeus to Helios:] ‘I will hide you and the daughter of the mists [Eos] together in my clouds, and when you are covered Nyx (Night) will appear in the daytime..” –Dionysiaca 7.280

“Eos had just shaken off the wing of carefree sleep and opened the gates of sunrise, leaving the lightbringing couch of Kephalos.” –Dionysiaca 27.1

“Farshooting Eos (Dawn) with crimson face leapt up sending forth her light.” –Dionysiaca 34.124

“The Wind [Euros the East Wind] left the rosy chamber of Eos (Dawn) his mother.” –Dionysiaca 37.70

“But when morning, the harbinger of Eos’ (Dawn’s) dewy car, scored the night with his ruddy gleams, then all awoke.” –Dionysiaca 37.86

 

Labyrinths and Ritual in Scandinavia

Labyrinth-Danmark-747x1024“In Västergötland, Sweden, a similar type of labyrinth game was reported in 1933: Here, people used to draw labyrinths in the snow on the ice during winter. The paths would be wide enough to skate on. In the center was a girl placed, who was called the “Bride of Grimborg”. Grimborg is a medieval legendary hero well known from many parts of Sweden. According to the song of Grimborg, the hero forced his way through fences of iron and steel in order to reach the beautiful daughter of a king. He had to fight the king´s men three times before the king allowed him to marry his daughter. In the skating labyrinth, a guard, like in the legend, would stand to protect the “castle” – that is, the labyrinth. The guard would try to mislead and stop the young man playing Grimborg, who was trying to find his way to the bride.” http://freya.theladyofthelabyrinth.com/?page_id=356

with thanks to David Metcalfe https://twitter.com/davidbmetcalfe

 

 

 

The Sabians and their role in the development of astrological, alchemical and magical traditions

“In what is now southern Turkey stand the remnants of a city called Harran. Part of long ago Babylon, Harran was once the site of the Temple of the Moon god-Sin, one of seven temples in seven cities sacred to the seven classical planets.  Unlike the other great celestial temples, though, the Temple of the Moon in Harran continued to host astral rites long after the coming of Muhammed. From the 6th until the 11th centuries C.E., a wild Hermetic syncretism bloomed, tended carefully by a people who called Hermes their prophet, and themselves Sabians.”

“In alchemy, Jābir ibn Hayyān was known to have spent time among the Sabians, and his work displays the unique fusion of astrology, Neo-Platonism, Hermeticism, Aristotelianism and Galenic medicine developed in Harran.  Jabir’s work hugely influential work spawned a plague of pseudonymous books, and more than 3000 texts have come to be attributed to him.”

Jabir_ibn_HayyanJabir ibn Hayyan was a prominent polymath: a chemist and alchemist, astronomer and astrologer, engineer, geographer, philosopher, physicist, and pharmacist and physician. Born and educated in Tus, he later traveled to Kufa. Jābir is held to have been the first practical alchemist.

As early as the 10th century, the identity and exact corpus of works of Jābir was in dispute in Islamic circles. His name was Latinized as “Geber” in the Christian West and in 13th-century Europe an anonymous writer, usually referred to as Pseudo-Geber, produced alchemical and metallurgical writings under the pen-name Geber.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C4%81bir_ibn_Hayy%C4%81n

 “The Sabians of Harran played a crucial but often under-recognized role in the transmission and development of astrological, alchemical and magical traditions. Harran acted as a crucial bridge for the Hermetic arts and sciences, ferrying them from the decay of Byzantine Rome all the way to the shores of Medieval Europe half a millennia later.  Many all of the greatest Arabic astrologers, alchemists and magicians can be shown to have spent time in Harran.  Without them, astrology would not have survived the West’s dark ages, nor would the complexities of alchemy or the high cunning of astral sorceries have been passed on.

800pxlunaralbiruni

Harran hosted what were perhaps the sole inheritors and practitioners of Babylonian astral magic at a time when both the Christian and Islamic worlds were being steadily purged of them.  Yet the Sabians were not pagan fundamentalists.  Hellenistic influences abound in what record we have of the Sabians’ practice.  They embraced the metaphysics of Neo-Platonism, the experimental philosophy of Hermeticism and the science of Hellenistic astrology, forging a sophisticated framework for the Babylonian astral magick they inherited.  The Gayat Al Hakim, also called the Picatrix, a legendary planetary grimoire, emerged from this elegant syncretism, and may testify to its intricacies best.”

For full article at Clavis Journal, see here: http://clavisjournal.com/the-shadow-of-harran/

Rosarium Philosophorum; when you make the two into one..

10_detail_moontree17_detail_suntree

When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter the Kingdom.

    Gospel of Thomas, 22

18_Lion_2 10_Hermaphrodite_217_hermaphrodite_2

(images: Rosarium Philosophorum)

The combination of substances and the union of opposites is a key element in the alchemical process. This is often represented as a mystical marriage of the lunar element representing the feminine, Sophia (wisdom) and the solar element, the male, Logos (knowledge/reason). These two opposing elements meet and are joined in what is known as the ‘chemical wedding’. This union creates something bigger and more powerful than the individual parts – the perfect integration of male and female energies – the hermaphrodite.

The Trows of Orkney Folklore

Trows are fascinating creatures found only in the folklore of the Orkney and Shetland islands. Yet, describing them accurately is difficult because sources are not always clear.

Folklorists have long insisted that the word “trow” is a corruption of “troll,” and that Orkney’s Trows descend from their Viking ancestors’ stories of Trolls. Sigurd Towrie, author of the comprehensive website covering all things Orkney (Orkneyjar.com), disagrees with this assessment. He believes there may be a connection with a different creature from Norse mythology, the Draugr. This connection stems from both creatures’ affiliation with burial mounds. The Draugr were undead tomb guardians who harassed any trespassers, whether human or animal, who dared to come too close to his mound. In Orkney folklore, Trows also had an association with mounds. Further, “trow” is pronounced to rhyme with “cow.” Towrie believes “trow” evolved from a now extinct Orcadian word “drow” (also rhymes with cow) which relates to Draugr.

http://www.medievalists.net/2013/06/26/orkneys-terrible-trows/

Emperor Julian – To Apollo and The Sun

JulianBust

The Sun’s resplendent deity I sing,
The beauteous offspring of almighty Jove,
Who, thro’ the vivifying solar fount
Within his fabricative mind conceal’d,
A triad form’d of splendid solar gods;
From whence the world’s all-various forms emerg’d
From mystic darkness into beauteous light,
Perfect, and full of intellectual goods.
Hail! Supermundane king of light divine,
And fairest image of the unknown good:
For, as the light proceeding from the one,
The god of gods, and beauty’s matchless flower,
Intelligibles, with deific rays
Occult, illumes; so from Apollo’s beams
Exulting glorious through harmonic power,
The mental world with elevating light
Is fill’d exub’rant: and th’ apparent Sun
Largely diffuses thro’ the world of sense,
Light, all-prolific, beautiful, divine.
To thee, as bright Apollo, it belongs
All multitude in union to collect,
And many natures generate from one;
With vigour in thy essence to convolve
The diff’rent ranks of secondary forms;
And thro’ one fair hyparxis tocombine

All-various essences and fertile powers.
‘Tis thine, from multitude exempt, t’ inspire
In forms subordinate, prophetic truth;
For truth and pure simplicity are one:
And of preserving unpolluted power,
Thy liberated essence is the source.
Fam’d mystic bards of old, in sacred song,
By thee inspir’d, as th’ arrow-darting god,
Constant invok’d thee, with resistless sway,
Because thy vig’rous beams like arrows pierce,
And totally, whate’er of measure void the world
Inordinate or dark contains, destroy.
And last, thy revolution is the sign
Of motion, harmonizing into one
The various natures of this mighty whole.
Thy first bright Monad hence, illustrious god,
Enunciates truth and intellectual light;
That light, which in the essence of the gods,
Subsists with rays uniting and unknown.
Thy second, ev’ry thing confus’d destroys:
And from thy third, the universe is bound
In beauteous symmetry and just consent,
Thro’ splendid reasons and harmonic power.
Add, that thy essence, ‘midst the mundane gods,
A super-mundane order is assign’d;
An unbegotten and supreme command
O’er all the ranks of generated forms;
And In the ever-flowing realms of sense,
An intellectual dignity of sway.
Progression two-fold, hence, to thee belongs,–
One in conjunction with the mundane gods,
The other supernat’ral and unknown:
For when the Demiurgus form’d the world,
He kindled in the solar sphere a light,
Unlike the splendour of the other orbs,
Drawn from his nature’s most occult retreats,
A symbol fair of intellectual forms;
And openly announcing as it shines
To ev’ry part of this amazing whole,
The essence solitary and arcane

 

Of all the ruling, supermundane gods.
Hence too, when first thy beams the world adorn’d
The mundane gods were ravish’d at the sight;
And round thy orb, with emulative zeal
And symphony divine, desir’d to dance,
And draw abundant from thy fontal light.
‘Tie thine by heat apparent to exalt
Corporeal natures from the sluggish earth,
Inspiring vivid, vegetative power;
And by a nature secretly divine,
And from the base alloy of matter free,
Inherent in thy all-productive rays,
Thou draw’st to union with thy wond’rous form,
Exalted souls, that In dark Hyle’s realms
Indignant struggle for the courts of. light:
All beauteous, seven-rayed, supermundane god!
Whose mystic essence secretly emits
The splendid fountains of celestial light.
For ‘midst the ruling, super-mundane gods
A solar world, and total light subsists;
A light, which as a fertile monad shines
Superior to the three corporeal worlds.
By sacred Oracles of old, ‘tie said,
Thy glorious orb beyond the starry sphere
And in the last etherial world revolves.
But in thy course, harmoniously divine,
Thy orb, quadruply intersects these worlds;
And then twelve powers of radiant gods displays,
Thro’ twelve divisions of the zone oblique.
And still abundant in productive might,
Each into three of diff’rent ranks divides.
Hence, from the fourfold elegance and grace
Of times and seasons, by thy course produc’d,
Mankind a triple benefit receive,
The circling Graces’ never-failing gift.
All-bounteous god, by whom the soul is freed
Prom Generation’s dark corporeal bands,
Assist THY OFFSPRING, borne on mental wings,
Beyond the reach of guileful Nature’s hands
Swift to ascend, and gain thy beauteous world.
The subtle vestment of my soul refine,
Etherial, firm, and full of sacred light,
Her ancient vehicle by thee assign’d;
In which invelop’d, thro’ the starry orbs,
Urg’d’ by the Impulse of insane desire,

 

She fail’d precipitate, till Lethe’s shore,
Involv’d in night, unhappily she touch’d,
And lost all knowledge of her pristine state:
O best of gods, blest dæmon crown’d with fire,
My soul’s sure refuge in the hour of woe,
My port paternal in the courts of light,
Hear, and from punishment my soul absolve,
The punishment incurr’d by pristine guilt,
Thro’ Lethe’s darkness and terrene desire:
And if for long-extended years I’m doom’d
In these drear realms Heav’n’s exile to remain,
Oh! grant me soon the necessary means
To gain that good which solitude confers
On souls emerging from the bitter waves
Of fraudful Hyle’s black, impetuous flood.
That thus retiring from the vulgar herd,
And impious converse of the present age,
My soul may triumph o’er her natal ills;
And oft with thee In blissful union join’d
Thro’ energy Ineffable, may soar
Beyond the highest super-mundane forms;
And in the vestibule supreme survey,
Emerging from th’ intelligible deep,
Beauty’s transcendent, solitary Sun.

Translated by Thomas Taylor (1793)

The Roman Emperor Julian (331-363 CE) suceeded Constantius in 361 CE. He shocked the empire by renouncing Christianity, which earned him the title ‘the Apostate’ by Church historians. He issued an edict of religious freedom, rebuilt the Pagan temples, ended banishment of religious exiles, and eliminated special privileges for Christian officials. He founded the Neo-platonic school of philosophy. Julian spurned the decadant Byzantine palace; he dressed simply, studied philosophy, promulgated tax reform, and fostered study of the humanities and arts. However, his reign lasted only twenty months; he died in June of 363 in battle with the Persians, possibly at the hand of a Christian.


The Rose of The World – The Metaphilosophy of History by Daniel Andreev

364px-Gamaun

Gamayun is a prophetic bird of Russian folklore. It is a symbol of wisdom and knowledge and lives on an island in the east, close to paradise. Like the Sirin and the Alkonost, the Gamayun is normally depicted as a large bird with a woman’s head.

In his esoteric Christian-Buddhist cosmography Roza Mira, Daniil Andreev maintains that Sirins, Alkonosts, and Gamayuns are transformed into Archangels in Paradise.

Wiki tells us “Roza Mira (Full title in Russian: Роза Мира. Метафилософия истории, literally, The Rose of the World. The Metaphilosophy of History.) is the title of the main book by Russian mystic Daniil Andreev. It is also the name of the predicted new universal religion, to emerge and unite all people of the world before the advent of the Antichrist, described by Andreev in his book. This new interreligion, as he calls it, should unite the existing religions “like a flower unites its petals”, Andreev wrote. According to Roza Mira, there are no contradictions between different religions, because they tell about different aspects of spiritual reality, or about the same things in different words. Daniil Andreyev compares different major religions to different paths leading to one and the same mountain peak (which is God). Andreyev names five world religions, which are Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. Andreyev believes in the Trinity of God, but the third hypostasis, instead of being the Holy Spirit, is claimed to be the Eternal Femininity.”

Daniel Andreev, was a Russian poet and religious thinker of the middle of the XX century. His best known book “Roza Mira” (“The Rose of the World”, “Роза Мира”)  is about religion in the modern world. Along with world religions such as Christianity, he also considers mythical revelations of different cultures which together compose the “religion of total”, the Rose of the World. For Daniel Andreev, the Rose of the World is a spiritual flower whose roots are in heaven: each petal is an unique image of the great world religions and cultures, and the whole flower is their joint co-creation with God.

It was while in a Soviet prison that Daniel Andreev wrote the first drafts of The Rose of the World, as well as Russian Gods –a collection of poetry -and The Iron Mystery — a verse play. He had been arrested in April 1947, along with his wife and many of his relatives and friends. He was sentenced to twenty-five years of prison (by some chance the death sentence had been temporarily suspended in Soviet Union around the same time) and his wife was given twenty-five years in a labour camp. All of his writing done previous to his arrest was destroyed.

The Rose of the World and Andreev’s other works had a tremendous impact on contemporary Russian society, with its thirst for a spiritual approach to life. The Daniel Andreev foundation was founded in 1992, and numerous small groups and societies have formed in connection with his works.

In the Introduction to this work he writes:

THIS BOOK WAS BEGUN at a time when the threat of an unparalleled disaster hung over the heads of humanity—when a generation only just recuperating from the trauma of the Second World War discovered to its horror that a strange darkness, the portent of a war even more catastrophic and devastating than the last, was already gathering and thickening on the horizon. I began this book in the darkest years of a dictatorship that tyrannized two hundred million people. I began writing it in a prison designated as a “political isolation ward.” I wrote it in secret. I hid the manuscript, and the forces of good—humans and otherwise—concealed it for me during searches. Yet every day I expected the manuscript to be confiscated and destroyed, just as my previous work—work to which I had given ten years of my life and for which I had been consigned to the political isolation ward—had been destroyed.
I am finishing The Rose of the World a few years later. The threat of a third world war no longer looms like dark clouds on the horizon, but, having fanned out over our heads and blocked the sun, it has quickly dispersed in all directions back beyond the horizon.
Perhaps the worst will never come to pass. Every heart nurses such a hope, and without it life would be unbearable. Some try to bolster it with logical arguments and active protest. Some succeed in convincing themselves that the danger is exaggerated. Others try not to think about it at all and, having decided once and for all that what happens, happens, immerse themselves in the daily affairs of their own little worlds. There are also people in whose hearts hope smoulders like a dying fire, and who go on living, moving, and working merely out of inertia.
I am completing The Rose of the World out of prison, in a park turned golden with autumn. The one under whose yoke the country was driven to near exhaustion has long been reaping in other worlds what he sowed in this one. Yet I am still hiding the last pages of the manuscript as I hid the first ones. I dare not acquaint a single living soul with its contents, for, just as before, I cannot be certain that this book will not be destroyed, that the spiritual knowledge it contains will be transmitted to someone, anyone.
But perhaps the worst will never come to pass, and tyranny on such a scale will never recur. Perhaps humanity will forevermore retain the memory of Russia’s terrible historical experience. Every heart nurses that hope, and without it life would be unbearable.

I’ve only copied a brief passage of the introduction, but the remainder, and the full English text can be found here: http://www.roseofworld.org/book_eng.htm