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Mon, Jan. 3rd, 2011, 10:30 pm
Manic Depression...

Rough day today, work was good, though difficult with my back being out. But after I got off work, I went and saw a chiropractor, who looked me over and just kept saying, "wow... hrm.... yeah, WOW!" Telling me that my back, and my shoulders and my hips are all out of alignment, measuring me and telling me that I way a full 25lbs heavier on my right side than on my left, and that he doesn't know if he can help me. But took a bunch of x-rays anyways and set me up for a follow-up appointment tomorrow.

Once I got out of there I went to drive home and my car wouldn't start. Luckily though my Mom was able to come get me, at first just for a jump, but when that didn't work, for a ride home. I haven't slept much since Friday with the back stuff, so my resolve is woefully compromised. Been fighting off depressing for most of the evening. Up and down, up and down.

Feeling a bit better now, than earlier. But still struggling.

Wed, Dec. 29th, 2010, 11:37 pm
Another "Arabic Hermes" brain dump...

It is unfortunate that this work doesn’t delve deeply into any of the actual texts attributed to the character known as Hermes Trismegistus; though, in the introduction the author tantalizingly alludes to a companion work titled “The Arabic Hermetica” which will in fact deal solely with THAT! This work however is titled “The Arabic Hermes,” and deals with the transmission of the much earlier Greek and Egyptian character of Hermes into first the Persian, then later the Islamic/Arabic culture.

I say that this is unfortunate, only because I am so incredibly intrigued by the later tradition of Hermes Trismegistus, which is apparently so different from that of the earlier Greek/Egyptian tradition. It appears, much more philosophic than the later Arabic traditions that are handed down, which deal with matters of science, of alchemy and of the “proper” instructions for gaining the favor of the starry abode. This particular work has so far called into question a great deal of what classical scholarship has known about the history of this so called Arabic Hermes, and where he comes from. As I posted the other week, the notion that Hermes came to Arabia directly from Greek translation seems to be in a great deal exaggerated. The Sarranian emperor Shapur I had a great number of Greek neo-Platonic, Gnostic and Hermetic texts transmitted into his burgeoning Persian geneology which later found their way into the post Islamic traditions.

The book is for the most part broken up into 4 parts, and introduction and biographical sketch for the study, broken into two parts, the above history, and the later history of the Sabians, or the Sabians of Harran, or another Iranian people, who, in order to maintain their faith, early on adopted the name Sabian to appease their new Islamic ruler. This being advantageous because the Sabian’s are a people listed as acceptable in the Quran. This second part of the biographical sketch was hands down the most difficult for me to grok. These people, from either Harran (in Turkey,) or from Baghdad, I forget now the difference we draw between the two, are said to have been Star Worshippers; Angel Worshippers; Hermeticists; and in the later Islamic Caliphate became, in many cases, court physicians, mathematicians, and astrologers. The claim to a Hermetic lineage appears to our author to be almost completely erroneous; at least based off of the evidence that has been used for years now to claim this heritage. The word Sabian, is used from the late 9th century onward to mean “Pagan,” in the broadest sense of the word, “Idol worshippers.” Many of the earlier authors or fragments rather, that speak of the Harranian’s particularly don’t ever call them Hermeticists, rather that they considered Hermes a prophet, along with many other pagan sages, and some contemporaries to their Iranian heritage.

This punches a good deal of holes in later historians claims that Hermes in part comes to Arabia from these so-called Sabians of Harran. There is much more to this history that I will have to hope to comprehend on my second pass, right now I have names, and dates and peoples all throughout the period swimming in my head.

From this study then, the author begins to tackle the story, apparently an Arabic invention, of the Three Hermeses, one an anti-deluvian (before the flood) Babylonian, one a sage in ancient Egypt, and one more of diverse identity sometime before the common era. I’ve been familiar with this story now for several years. I think I first came across it in the book, The Emerald Tablet by Hauck, who lists I believe the 3rd and final Hermes as Apollonius of Tyana, if I am not mistaken. This is a fairly brilliant study I found, explaining the evolution of the three Hermes from its earliest traditions naming only two Hermeses, one “ancient and one “Post-deluvian(?) who preserved the earlier’s knowledge of all sciences. Both identified at least as far back as the Ptolemaic “Book of Sothis,” and possibly earlier. I cannot find the reference for quote right now, but also it seems Plato makes a passing reference to a “more ancient Hermes” in his Timaeus. The author argues that the transmission of this history from its earlier manifestations in Babylonian and Egyptian chronologies comes into the Arabic lands by Christian/Alexandrian chronologists in the 4th century who, seeking to synthesize the Babylonian and Egyptian chronologies of the world with the Jewish and Christian canonical books, incorporate much of the earlier history of Hermes, as well as the anti-deluvian stories of I Enoch. There is even some speculation that these Christian Alexandrians may be the first authors to make the connection, rampant in later Arabic traditions that Enoch and Hermes are synonymous. From here, their chronologies meet up in the 10th century “Book of Thousands” by Abu Ma’sar, who is also, as far as we can tell the origin of the tale of the three Hermeses.

There isn’t ever a satisfactory answer as to where this third Hermes came from, but the author leaves us with the speculation that based off of his chronicling tendencies, Abu Ma’sar may have invented the tale to incorporate the Greek Hermetica dealing with Hermes’ lessons to his students/sons Asclepius, and Tat and the like.  Also, that this is done (adding the 3rd Hermes) to explain the appellation Trismegistus, or “thrice great.”

He also makes reference to another scholar’s study which speculates that the very name Asclepius is later expanded to become Apollonius of Apollonius of Tyana fame; though he refutes it in the same breath.

All in all, I am thoroughly enjoying the read, though I am having some serious difficulties comprehending and remembering the names, and stories. Not at all uncommon for me, I usually need at least a reading or two before things really sink in.

Sun, Dec. 19th, 2010, 12:48 am
The Arabic Hermes:

So, I picked up a new book yesterday, or rather, Sondra got me one for my birthday. It's called The Arabic Hermes, and its written by the Assistant Professor of Classics at USC. It is a very scholarly read that details, (as far as I can tell) the transmission of the writings known as the Hermetica to the Persian and Arabic world; the nations that would later transmit the knowledge of Hermes, and of many of the key western philosophic and mathematical works to a modern European audience.

Here is a link to the book:
http://www.amazon.com/Arabic-Hermes-Prophet-Science-Antiquity/dp/0195376137/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292740928&sr=8-1

I'm fifty pages in as of now, and it is an absolutely fascinating read! The author has drawn off of Garth Fouden's work, The Egyptian Hermes for much of the history of the Helenistic Hermetica, and its manifestations into the first few centuries of the modern era. I've not read this work yet, but have it on back order on Amazon. Arabic Hermes is the first work I've come across that introduces you to a potential precursor to the Greek writings of Hermes; an Egyptian fragment, dated to the late 2nd century BC. The fragment isdecidedly NOT Hermetic, but is written in the same style, that of Thoth, giving instruction to one of his disciples. The contemporaneous decline of the classical Egyptian priestly duties Alexandria, lead this author, and others to the conclusion that an Egyptian priestly caste was in some way affiliated with the later Hellenistic writings of Hermes.

From this preliminary speculation, the author then jumps ahead over 1000 years, to the rediscovery of the Hermetic Corpus by the agents of Cosimo Medici in the 1400s, and gives a more detailed account of the reception of these works, and the person who delivered them than I have read, anywhere else so far. He examines the transmission of the Greek masters as well, of Aristotle and Plato, and their transmission to the minds of pre-renaissance Europe, from their Arabic diaspora, and systematically breaks down the well trodden belief that the Arabic Hermetica, (and Gnostic writings, NeoPlatonism, Greek Masters, etc) were transmitted to the Arabic world from their Greek originals. He contrasts this with the much more modern view, that these Greek and Latin texts were transmitted instead by the Sassanid Empire; the Great Zoroastrian rival of the Roman Empire from the early 2nd century to the mid-6th. The early 2nd being the same time in which Neo-Platonism, and Gnosticism were coming to the fore throughout the West. 

All of this is absolutely fascinating to me. I have been studying the Hermetica, and the Hermetic Thread form several years now, and through the tales of Christian Rosencreutz's travels,  to OTO, and their links with the Oriental Templars, I have been fascinated by the indebtedness that the Western Esoteric Tradition, and that Western consciousness as a whole seem to owe to the Arabic world; and how so few of the books I've read, or the histories I've begun to trace seem to give back to them.

The Sassanid Empire, under their second great emperor Shapur I, experiences a mighty growth, and a religious tolerance that sees the conquering of many of Rome, and other empires territories, and the collection of much of thier philosophic and scientific/magical works. It is written by later Arabic historians, (6th century) that Shapur was known for his religious tolerance, that he is interested in exploring the faiths of other people, befriending Roman philosophers, and Jews alike. In later centuries, the Jewish people will find an amazingly tolerant safe-haven in this empire, escaping Roman/Christian oppression. Details of how the religion and philosophy of these people developed is sketchy, for in later centuries, when they were conquered by the Muslims in the 6th century, their language, their religion, and their way of life is almost completely wiped out. Most of what we know comes from the account of other authors of the day, non-Persians, and from Arabic historians writing almost 400 years later. I am in the middle of the argument now, but it appears almost certain that Shapur calls for a codification of the Zorastrian/Persian religion, and, under the belief that all knowledge originated in the region of Persia, and Mesopotamia, sought to gather together the knowledge of the day, to translate it from it's Greek and Latin originals, and to begin assimilating what could reasonably be assimilated into a new understanding of their faith and history. It is around this same time period, I believe in the kingdom of Shapur's successor that a redaction of the Avesta is undertaken, and this current study has proposed the idea that the study of Gnostic/Hermetic/ and other texts all were considered for sympathy and inclusion.

One very striking argument comes when he compares the writing of Porphyry, a contemporary Neo-Platonic philosopher who writes against certain "new works" of Zoroaster, that are known to them to be modern works, and not authentically Zoroastrian, The question is raised of whether or not these works might have been commissioned by Shapur I, in his effort to unify his history and mythology, or whether he simply became aware of these writings, and finding them congenial to his aims, adopted them for his own. This really struck me as a possible answer to the question of the Neo-Platonic additions to the so-called Chaldean Oracles, something I've known about for years, but know very little about.

The Sassanid empire is the empire that Mani, the founder of Manicheism is born into, (or rather, a particular faith within this empire,) and the book has so far been throwing out some very tantilizing tid-bits about Mani's adoption of Hermes as one of his key profits, though apparently under a different name, that of the Prophet Enoch! I haven't cracked into this bit as yet. But will fill in the details as I can.

That about wraps up where I am at so far. Forgive me if my grammar is bad, or the writing convoluted, I've been up for two days straight, and just needed to get some of these thoughts out of my head. --bottom line: Good Fucking Book!!!

Sat, Oct. 2nd, 2010, 08:12 am
An Electrical fire in my kitchen!

So what the hell happened???

Sylan was cooking bacon, no differently than we've ever done before when all of the sudden there was a popping sound and a giant blue flame burst from the heating element on the stove and send red hot embers flying through the air. Sondra and Dylan were both there in the kitchen when it happened, Dylan was closer and ended up with a mild burn on her stomach from some of the embers.

When we viewed the aftermath, the top of the stove was pretty badly singed, the heating element itself? Holy shit it had been blasted in half!!! There are shards of sharp metal poking out where the electrical flame had burst forth! I got it turned off and unplugged and went to hear the story from Dylan and Sondra, apparently this blue flame appeared to burst straight through the pan of bacon she was cooking... this of course raised the question of whether or not there was now a whole in the pan... well, THERE WAS!!! A big ole hole, like someone had shot it like a blaster!!!

What the hell happened?! What would have caused that to happen?!

I have a message into my manager, I'm obviously not going to use this stove again, and I need to have the wiring in the house looked at now.

I am so glad the girls are okay, Dylan got a mild burn from a few of the embers falling on her shirt, but she doesn't think she was hit by the electricity, and judging by the whole in the pan, I think we'd know if she was hit by the flame itself.

On a completely unrelated note: Sondra was working on carving the design for her magical Pantacle right before she started cooking. O_o


Thu, Sep. 16th, 2010, 11:59 pm
Here are the notes on Gunther's chapter "Christeos Lucifitas"

So, after talking with a friend who comes from the same lineage as Gunther I decided to give what I considered the most convoluted of his chapters a second reading. What follows below is really a summary of each point of the chapter to the best of my ability.

The results of this study has made me think twice about my earlier assessment of Gunther's work. I have just gone through an evening chock full of some of the strongest "Aha" moments I have experienced in a long, long time:

The One Star: "that shines above all others in magnitude..."

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Wed, Sep. 15th, 2010, 08:47 am
On second thought...

It doesn't often happen that I have occasion to get less then a 24 hour turn-around once I've made a decision about somthing, at least not when I am in the wrong. Typically I am way too stubborn and self absorbed for that.

After a conversation with a friend and brother last night I decided to give what I felt was the most convolutted of Gunther's chapters: "Christeos Luciitias" another read on the way to work this morning. I must admit that I was too hasty in my initial assessments.

My brain is swimming right now with more than a handful of insights about key chapters in the Book of Lies, and some of the Holy books, strange personal confirmations about Mercury and Christ that I've experienced in my studies and practice of the Gnostic Mass... there is a hell of a lot in that little chapter alone.

So yeah, got my squeegie ready for another pass.

To the friend I spoke with last night: Thanks!

Tue, Sep. 14th, 2010, 09:45 pm
:P

And yeah, I don;t think I'll ever figure out these damn LJ cuts.

Tue, Sep. 14th, 2010, 09:40 pm
Initiation in the Aeon of the Child:

So far so good. It is a decent read. Much better than I was expecting from the conversations I had with folks about it up to this point. Till now, every conversation I had about it, (and I am fully aware of how limited those interactions were) went something like this

Me: "Have you read Initiation in the Aeon of the Child."
Them: "Yeah! OMG, its AMAZING!!!"
Me: "Really? It's that good? What do you like about it?"
Them: "It's just so full of new information, it's like nothing I've ever read before, it's really changed my thinking."
Me: "Wow, that's awesome, what about it? What has it changed?"
Them: "Oh I don't know, there's just so much you know? He talks about the Egyptian stuff, and Tzaddi, and its just really, really well researched and you can tell he knows what he's talking about. Did you hear what HB and Wasserman had to say about it?"

and so on...

So I didn't have much hope going in. I thought what I would run into would be another rehash of either Crowley or others materials in a new shiny package; something for the masses who can't or wont struggle with the source materials.
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I'm about two thirds in at this point, and while I can't back up Wasserman or HB on their assessments of the works import, I think for those with an interest into a sometimes new look on the progression of the Aeons, the experience of Knowledge and Conversation with the HGA (so far the most worth while part of the book) and some interesting interpretations of many of the Holy Books, there are some real gems.

In the final analysis, I guess I am just not too interested in other peoples interpretations of the path of initiation. I don't think Gunther says anything new or different than what Crowley himself said in often less eloquent terms, but if some folks get some real value out of the read, and if Gunther has discovered, or rather re-discovered a path that has worked for him. More power to him.

I should be done with her by tomorrow morning. I'll let you know if I get any other worth-while impressions.

Oh!!! MY FAVORITE PART OF THE BOOK: is in one of the early chapters when Gunther makes reference to Johannes Reuchlin and quotes from his works. Reuchlin is one of my personal hero's as one of the main sources for our inherited Christian-Kabbalistic tradition, and it's so refreshing to finally see someone in the Occult world paying some homage to the research the scholarly world has offered to our heritage. --Thanks so much for that!

Sun, Aug. 29th, 2010, 03:48 pm
The scariest night of my life...

Friday August 27th 2010 was the single scariest evening of my life.

My sister Carnegy was in from North Carolina, and we hadn't seen eachother in almost 5 years. We've been working for the same company for the past year, and so we decided to go out with some of our co-workers. We went out to this cute lesbian bar in downtown Phoenix called zGirl Club. It was great, we each had a few drinks and some jello shooters and her and her girlfriend danced, showing more movement in 1 hour than I think I've seen either of them move in the time I've known them. It was great to see, they were having so much fun, and I was really enjoying myself. So far, so good.

Then we leave the bar and head to one of our co-workers homes. One of my friends had some "spice" on them, a smoking substance similar to marijuana, only legal. So we all smoked some. Carn and her girl both stated that they didn't smoke very often and Carn specifically that she never enjoyed it when she did. I did some persuading and she agreed to give it a try.

Man, I have never felt worse about a decision before. Within fifteen minutes of smoking this stuff Carn's girl turned a very pale grey and passed out on us, falling back on herself. Carn and I put her feet up, and made her drink some sugar. She came around fairly quickly, and we all breathed a sigh of relief, when the fun really began. Carnegy's head falls back, and she starts drooling all over herself. I run over and start trying to get her to come around. She's not breathing, my friend checks her pulse and we've got nothing. Panicking I start to dial 911, when she snaps back saying "I'm okay, I'm okay..." not able to say anything else. Her neck continuously falling back on itself and slipping back into unconsciousness, not breathing. We are all in panic mode. We put her feet up, my friend gets on the line with her friend a nurse practitioner who has us pour several glasses of juice infused with sugar down her throat, cramming soggy bread down her throat trying to induce vomiting... grabbing ice packs out of the freezer and icing down her chest, her back, her face, her privates, anything to get a reaction from her.

She kept getting a little bit better, but her heart seemed to be stopping, and her breathing was stop and go... I had my finger on the trigger for 911, and the nurse practitioner was on her way so I held back... I was terrified, so fucking afraid that my sister was about to die on me. It took about 5 hours total, the most stressful 5 hours of my life to get her well enough that we could move her inside and get her on a bed to lay down. Me and her girl stayed by her side for several more hours to make sure she was still breathing.

She didn't want to go to the doctor the next day, convinced that it was just the Spice she was reacting to. I've never seen anything like that before... I'm still shaking two days later.

Sun, Jul. 25th, 2010, 03:00 pm
Further readings on Agrippa...

...since my post last night, I've read Nauert's description of the 1510 edition of Three Books of Occult Philosophy, before Agrippa's trip to Italy, and its difference from the later 1534 edition.

One would have seriously expected the book to have been lacking in Neo-Platonic and Hermetic writing and sources before this period, but no apparently Agrippa was already well read in the Hermetic Corpus, and in the writings of Pico and Ficino on the other Prisci Theologia. What did change apparently, from one edition to the other is the advent of some deeper understanding of Cabala, but Nauert claims the main source for this is the 1517 (?) edition of Reuchlin's "De Arte de Kabbah." Through and through Reuchlin seems to be Agrippa's source for his Christian Kabbalah. What was he specifically studying in this period? His correspondences show him constantly seeking new texts and sources, and studying amongst an ever growing network of friends, but of what the actually studies were, we appear to be, a little in the dark. At least for now.

I would agree with the assessment that Reuchlin supplied the framework for Agrippa's kabbalah, based on the readings I've done of Reuchlins and Agrippa, both men seem o focus on the power of the 5-fold name to unlock the power of the scriptures. The deeper question of Agrippa's angel magick in book 3 is a bit of a problem for me. At some point in the near future I should read the Stenographia and other writing of Trithemius, to see if that is a source for him. Three books is not a manual for Magic the same way that much of the writings we have on Occultism today would be, but there is a definitive system, based on a very particular understanding of the Universal Order.

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