Wednesday, June 10, 2009
If people really were concerned about the mass migration it's not as if they couldn't vote for UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), which many did of course. But I suspect those who vote BNP actually quite like the whole whites only thing. The journalists seem convinced that it's all just a protest vote about MPs expences and has nothing to do with the Brits being jaded by the European Union thing.
Not that I'm carrying the flag for UKIP - but it seems a reasonable enough pressure group. In the current controversy I find it useful to ask myself, am I bothered by the people in my street? I guess I'm lucky where I live (East Oxford) which is very diverse but seems to work out OK - the mosque is next door but they seem like good people. I've never really known anything other than this kind of inner city - mixed race thing - I was brought up in Newport docklands - and in the 1960s can remember the first Asian family arriving in our street. If I ever did feel threatened it was always from the locals who could be a rough lot.
There are xenophobes in Wales as there are everywhere else, but they often come from the valleys where funny enough the migrant population is smaller - and therefore stranger maybe?
I feel a bit let down by the media and other experts. They just don't seem to be getting to the heart of the matter or giving me the facts I need to know. Is Britain being swamped or isn't it? Is it viable for "UK" (presumably minus Scotland, Wales and N Ireland) to return to days of empire or even some sort of fortress UK and still be as prosperous as once were?
Monday, May 25, 2009
Well for all the careful preparations by our "nanny state" reps on the Oxfordshire County Council - those who wanted to jump in the Cherwell found a way - simply waiting for the police and paid security to clock off early. So leader of the County Council Keith Mitchell - what was the point? In your arrogance you rode roughly over the feelings of the vast majority of East Oxford residents who were excluded from the festivities with a police blockade. The only thing you achieved was dividing the city on this most historic day? Isn't it time you listened to wiser counsel and started thinking about the cultural value of this ancient, interfaith event rather than burying your nose in spurious risk assessments?
I joined the several hundred relectant souls, including a goodly handful of merry Brooke's students on the St Clements side of the "Mitchell" wall. I would rather have been on the west side, where my friends were enjoying the Morris dancing and assorted folk bands. At the risk of sounding completely mazed - I must record that amongst our throng were two young and beautiful identical blond twins, dressed in yellow and gold - strangely appropriate for welcoming the sun on Beltaine.
Here is my first view of across the bridge:
Perhaps so as not to be accused of favouritism, the police, so I'm told, imposed an even more stringent barrier on the western side. And later, as if to find even more rationale for their expensive and unwanted presence, they sent "snatch squads" into the crowds, compelling them to be silent and then confiscating cans of beer and rather pointedly emptying them down a nearby drain. Strange this on a day when all pubs are given dispensation to open all night, or re-open at six am - perhaps they have a special agenda to clean up May Morning of its heavy drinking aspect - five hundred years of merryment is surely enough!!
I'm happy to say that direct action liberated the bridge - the crowds from the West surging through first - the Brookes students on the East being, to my mind, perhaps too well behaved to force things. Although one rather brave attempt to hoist a fellow student over the barrier went badly wrong when he was unceremoniously dropped on his head. He will live but is hopefully not suing Councillor Mitchell and his safety committee for its failure to provide airbags. I was one of the first to rush through from the East side and caught the end of the excellent folk concert. One grumpy policeman shouted at my "you are a credit to the citizens of Oxford" - presumably he was being ironic. I shouted back I thought him a waste of money and that the police budget was obviously too big if they could afford such a stupid waste of it. In these credit crunch days there is an obvious target for a cut. After all the devil makes work for idle hands - or in modern parlance "too big a budget leads to misssion creep".
There is a growing concensus that 2010 will see a return to the status quo and some common sense when dealing with one of Oxford's treasures. I hope so.
* Keith Mitchell is (was?) the leader the County Council
Judy Heathcoat is (was?) the chair of its so-called "safety committee".
PS: for something that looks refreshingly dangerous check out Gloucester Cheese Rolling
Sunday, May 03, 2009
366pp, £14.99 hbk
"The production of grimoires was an entrepreneurial enterprise that thrived wherever the influence of secular and ecclesiastical censors was restricted by geographical, educational or political factors. The opening up of America created just such an environment, and hucksters, quacks, astrologers, fortune tellers and occult practitioners of all shades thrived." p. 188
Which may indicate that the primary audience for this book might not be the "hucksters, quacks, astrologers, fortune tellers and occult practitioners" some of whom might even read this newsletter. Owen Davies has built a strong reputation for himself as author of the groundbreaking Cunning Folk: Popular Magic in English History re-branded with an eye to the MBS marketplace as Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History. Here again he has taken up a largely neglected topic with some verve and produced a page turning history of the grimoire.
OD's book is likely to be of special interest to those with some knowledge of the genre. Davies gives very few examples of a grimoire's actual content, so there is an assumption that the author has already read one or two. The small examples OD does give tend to underline his thesis that the grimoires are at best a debased form of ancient magick or worst cynical, gibberish. Modern magicians tend to approach the grimoire as an exercise in magical creativity but also as a possible source of Pagan wisdom and occult knowledge that has somehow survived the hands of Christian iconoclasts.
Academic authors are obviously quite keen for the practitioner community to read their work although they are less keen to read anything the practitioners write about the same subject. So you won't find much here of the contemporary magicians approach to the grimoire, apart that is from old chestnuts such as the Necronomicon and the Satanic Bible.
Even so, there is much in here of interest to the contemporary practitioner, once one gets over the slight disappointment at the absence of any mention of the "Goetia", the most popular example of the genre. There is also nothing of what surely be the most famous of all occult trials involving a grimoire, that of Gilles the Rais - Bluebeard. For those with an interest in Aleister Crowley, there is also very little in this book. Crowley of course, represents the way the practitioner community has reframed and rationalised the grimoire over the years. And Crowley penned what is considered to be the best and most cogent of all modern grimoires - Liber ABA.
However most of the book's contents were new to me - although one passage where I would take issue with the author is when he discusses the Theban Magical Library alternatively known as The Greek Magical Papyri or Greco Egyptian Magical Papyri. Davies tells us that these are somehow connected with the very first grimoires in the sequence - which would be my own intuition. But he then says that "There are distinct differences between the magic they contain and that found in the earliest magical inscriptions and papyri from the time of the pharaohs" (p 9) . I read that and thought that must be wrong and wondered where he could have found such a view amongst Egyptologists? My heart sank when I saw the reference to Geraldine Pinch's seminal work on Egyptian Magic, could she really be so out of step with all her colleagues? But there again what does Geraldine Pinch actually say (p. 160-1):
"The openly expressed malevolence of these spells seems un-Egyptian but similar desires may lie behind some of the earlier Letters to the Dead. These do no specify exactly how the akhu are to deal with the writer's enemies. . . Many spells in the Graeco-Egyptian Magical Papyri describe how to make a deity appear and answer questions. The appearance may take the form of a dream for the magician or a vision for the child assistant. These spells are the private equivalent of consulting a temple oracle, or of incubation - sleeping in the temple to receive a divine dream". (my emphasis)
In other words there is quite a lot of Ancient Egyptian religion in the PGM and I suspect the grimoires. Afterall doesn't it say in the Goetia that the spirits speak the Egyptian tongue?
These small issues of the beginning aside, Davies' study is soon on stronger ground after fifteen hundred years of development we arrive at the era of the printed book, when the grimoire really did make it big on the world stage. As the book's publicity confirms, "to understand the grimoire is to understand the spread of Christianity, the development of early science, the cultural influence of the print revolution, the growth of literacy, the impact of colonialism and the expansion of western culture across the oceans."
One tantalizing parallel between the PGM and later grimoires is the "Sixth & Seven Books of Moses" discussed in fascinating detail by OD. These books began circulating in Germany in the eighteenth century and were to become popular in USA. One could of course argue that given the well known existence of the first five, it is just human nature to want to supplement this with a sixth, seventh or even more; just as some bright spark penned a "Fourth" book of Occult Philosophy, a "Fourth" Veda or even "Fourth" chapter of Crowley's "Book of the Law". Interestingly no ancient edition survives of a "Sixth" and "Seventh" Book of Moses. The PGM jumps straight in there with "The Eighth" . There may never have been a sixth or seventh in classical Greco-Egyptian magic, none has so far been found. The explanation advanced for this hiatus is that the number "eight" has special symbolic resonance, perhaps connected with Hermes and the Company of Heaven .
OD calls these "modern" versions "pulp . . . to signify not just the quality of the paper but also the merit of the contents printed on it - worthless, pappy, throwaway literature fit only for those too intellectually limited to digest more serious fare. They were not the sort of publications that found their way into academic and public libraries. Yet their influence was such that, by the late 1930s, American educationalists were waging war on the genre." p. 233. Looking at the few examples of the contents given in OD's study, these would not be so out of place in the PGM - so I wonder where their real provenance lies?
If you want gnosticism and theurgy, one maybe needs to look elsewhere than in this study of grimoire. Owen Davies is revealing the dark underbelly of the magical tradition. I suspect he might even side with the shrinking minority of academics who still follow Frazer's division of magic and religion. Religion from this perspective, being all about social networking and rationality; magick the malign, irrational, solitary practice, bent on material gain. Drive a wedge between Egyptian religion and its magick, downplay the philosophical aspect of the grimoire and it all begins to look that way. It is in these areas that Davies book certainly has an colourful tale to tell. No surprise then that coming up to date, we venture into the explicitely fictional grimoires as instanced in H P Lovecraft's Necronomicon. The book concludes with a discussion of the huge popularity of Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible and the promise that, in case you didn't know it, the history of the grimoire is hardly likely to be over. "As we enter uncertain times . . . There is no sign of these books being closed for good. " p. 283
[Reviewed by Mogg Morgan with some assistance from David Rankine and Jack Daw]
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Review and critique previous approaches to the topic.
Will gain a new understanding of the modern view of Hermeticism.
Will re-assemble and re-member, the lost fragments of the ancient Egyptian magical religion.
(NB: This reading matter is designed to stimulate debate in the student.
It's presence here does not necessarily imply full or any agreement with the contents.)
Manly P Hall "Secret Traditions of All Ages" - short section on Hermes Trismegistos
Walter Scott "The Hermetica" - abridged edition published by Solos Press.
Publisher's introduction omitting the section on Edgar Cayce. Although even this illustrates some of the problems the student may encounter when approaching the topic.
This will be our core text and worth acquiring your own copy.
Essays and questions
1. Who was Manly P Hall. What are his influences, presuppositions and sources. What do you make of his approach to Hermeticism?
2. Who is Adrian Gilbert? What are his influences and sources. What do you make of his approach to Hermeticism.
3. Of the three, do you agree that Walter Scott is the most academic. Even so, try to address the same questions as above.
4. Is the universe of the Hermetica helio or geo- centric? Is this the same as Plato's Timaeus, with which it is often compared?
More advanced reading:
Walter Scott, Hermetica - complete edition
ANTOINE FAIVRE, THE ETERNAL HERMES - From Greek God to Alchemical Magus Informative on Greek and later aspects but little to say on the Egyptian sources.
G R S Mead, Hermes Trismegistos
Iamblicus, On the Mysteries
Athanassiadi, Polymia (1993) "Persecution and response in Late Paganism: the evidience of Damascius" JHS 113: 1-29
Kevin van Bladel, The Arabic Hermes: From Pagan Sage to Prophet of Science. Oxford Studies in Late Antiquity. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Pp. xii, 278. ISBN 9780195376135.
Griffith & Thompson, The Leyden Papyrus- An Egyptian Magical Book.
To be read in conjunction with Morgan, M "Supernatural Assault in Ancient Egypt".
Fowden, Garth, The Hermetica
Copenhaver, Brian P, Corpus Hermeticum. More up to date translation based on a better source text than Walter Scott although only covers the Corpus Hermeticum (CH) and Ascelpius. Very useful introduction.
"Libellus" (Little Book) I-IX inclusive of The Hermetica.
(c) Mogg Morgan
Guardian of the House of Life at Abydos
2. Corpus Hermetica in more detail
3. Magick and the CH
4. Egyptian background
5. Technical magick and the CH
6. CH and its Kabbalistic Parallels
7. More on magick of Greek Magical Papyri
8. Conclusions and issues
Hermetic Path II
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Monthly lectures first or second saturday of every month, live on the
virtual chatroom SecondLife.
1. 3rd January 2009: Pagans & Paganism
[Paganism] is "just a collection of ethnic polytheism whatever was not Judaism or Christianity, but given a name by the lazy cunning of Christian apologists, who could then use their most salacious material to discredit all their opponents at one go." Fowden, review of Lane Fox 1986, JRS 78 (1988) : 176 quoted in Frankfurter : 75
You may have read that “Pagan” was pejorative,
an insult meaning “rustic” or “country dweller”.
The funny thing is that when the early Christians of for example
“Roman Egypt” used this term – they had in mind high profile activists living in some of the biggest and most sophisticated cities of the ancient world.
“Pagan” and “Paganism” was actually early Christian slang, meaning “civilian”.
/Pagani/ were civilians who had not enlisted through baptism as soldiers of Christ against the powers of Satan. By its word for non-believer, Christian slang bore witness to the heavenly battle which coloured Christian’s view of life.
(Robin Lane Fox /Pagans & Christians/. Penguin 1986)
Its only in from our sixteenth century has the origin of the early Christian’s usage has been disputed.
“Paganism” too, is a Christian coinage, a word like “Judaism”, which suggests a system of doctrine and orthodoxy. So even the Christians recognised that Paganism had a doctrine.
"Paganism" came into being principally in the writings of Iamblicus.
Iamblicus was trained in the Ideas of the “Corpus Hermeticum”.
The “Corpus Hermeticum” is an ancient summary of Pagan doctrine.
You can buy edition of this handy little books ranging from the cheap and cheerful (edited by Adrian Gilbert) to the expensive but Copenhaver.
“Paganism” is an eucumenical tradition based on the Chaldean oracles .
It valued all major theologies, especially Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek.
The early pagan "clans" called themselves –
They were persecuted by state and the mob for several centuries.
When the Athenian academy was forcibly closed, they took refuge in Alexandria, Aphroditopolis and finally the open city of Haran in Persia.
Here these ideas eventually flowed into the heterodox traditions of early Islam.
When the fanatical Christian emperor Justinian began to really turn the screw, he was stopped in his tracks by the Treaty of Haran, which stipulated that the local philosophical pagans (Chaldeans) be allowed to continue their studies.
In fury Justinian lashed out at the sanctuary of Isis at Philai, in Upper Egypt.
(see Polymnia Athanassiadi "Persecution and Response in Late Paganism - the evidence of Damascius", Journal of Hellenic Studies 113 1-29)
I feel a personal desire to remember the struggles, sacrifices and often martyrdom of those "intellectual pagans" of the late classical world. They, like the modern pagans, were ecumenical and eclectic, hence we should be proud to number ourselves amongst their number.
2. 7th Feb: The Astral Temple or ‘Theatre of Memory’
Every style of Magick has its own particular astral temple.
In Kabbalah it’s sometimes called the Malkuth temple,
and its description is based upon the mystical drawing called the Tree of Life.
In Chaos Magick it is the Chaos Sphere,
In Greek Magick is the Tetratis.
In esoteric Hinduism and Tantra the basic design for the temple is the famous Shri Yantra.
The Renaissance magus Giordano Bruno coined the term 'Theatre of Memory' for this concept.
This was a very important discovery.
GB could use this technique to memorize the relationship between very complex groups of symbols.
Even just thinking about an occult building can have an effect on your consciousness. You can be changed by them and can also discover new things.
You may already be familiar with some of these techniques –
Even so, I wonder if you have considered using a “real” temple as
basis for your psychic explorations?
You can also combine this with real time visits to sacred sites – which may not be suitable for on site voyaging but you can revisit later in the astral.
Dion Fortune recommends that one “sleeps” in your astral temple.
In my own work I was drawn to the Temple of Sethi I at Abydos.
Next time I’ll say a bit more about this important temple and its connection with the Cult of Osiris
(c) Mogg Morgan & Mogg Morgwain
3. 14th March 2009
More on Path working and its relationship to the Mysteries of Abydos
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
04 March 2009
Time: 20:00 - 23:00
Devereux Public House,
20 Devereux Court
City of London, United Kingdom
The importance of lunar mysteries in Ancient Egypt is often downplayed or even denied. MM has over several books revealed much new material on this topic. What began as an exploration of the Myth of Horus & Seth as waxing and waning moon, expanded to include a secret key to the Ancient Egyptian Magical Religion.
Apart from published work, Mogg Morgan is currently exploring this themes online via www.thepaganactivist.com (Golden Dawn Notebook) and his "Golden Dawn Egyptian Gnosis" lecture series for Secondlife and RL venues. Details on request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Robin Lane Fox, "Pagans and Christians", 1986: 126
Actually "for they shall _be_ god" would be more accurate, which shows the shortcomings of some research and the pitfalls of not allowing a philosophy to speak to us in its own words.
Hermetic Prayer of Thanksgiving (revised)
Having come forth from the sanctuary, they began their prayers to God, looking to the south; for when a man wishes to pray to god at sunset, he ought to face south, just as at sunrise he ought to face east. . .
"We thank thee, O thou whose name none can tell,
but whom we honour by the appellation "God".
Because your alone are master, and blessed by the appellation "creator",
Because you have shown in acts toward all humanity and in all things, loving kindness and affection such as a parent feels and more
you have bestowed on us mind, speech and knowledge,
Mind that we may apprehend thee;
Speech that we may call upon thee;
And knowledge, that having come to know thee, and found salvation in the light thou givest, we may be filled with gladness.
We are glad because though hast revealed thyself to us in all thy being;
Glad because, while we are yet in the body, though hast made us gods by the gift of your own eternal life.
We thank you by learning to know you.
Brightly shining light of the world of mind;
True life of the life of man.
All prolific womb, made pregnant by the creator.
Eternal constancy, unmoved, yet makes the universe revolve.
We adore thee,
who alone art good, and crave nothing save knowing, loving,
and to continue in this blest way of life. "
Who is God in the Hermetica? Is it Thoth Hermes or is he acting as guide or messenger of something beyond himself?