Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hermes the prophet of science

"Hermes the prophet of science is a combination of "ancient Judaean lore" concerning the biblical Enoch with Hellenistic astrology, including stories of heavenly ascents in order to receive science from the angels. from a review of The Arabic Hermes

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Armstrong on Festugiere

The present volume is divided into two sections, ' Le Dieu Inconnu' and ' La Connaissance Mystique de Dieu '. In the first Festugière demonstrates, in my opinion convincingly, that the idea that God is incomprehensible and ineffable has a good Greek philosophical pedigree and is not, as Norden thought, contrary to the ' Greek spirit ' and the result of Oriental influence on later Greek thought. The chapter (v) in which he traces the idea back to Plato will no doubt be vigorously criticized by many Platonic scholars. My own impression is that he makes out a good case for his interpretation but would have done better to leave the Parmenides out of the argument (he does not rest too much weight on it). But even if his derivation of the doctrine from Plato is seriously challenged the main part of his argument remains intact. It cannot be denied that there are a number of passages in Plato which can be interpreted in this sense, and that they were so interpreted and that a doctrine of the transcendent First Principle beyond being, inaccessible to ordinary knowing and only attainable in rare flashes of intuition, was current among Platonists from a very early period in the history of the school; it seems now to be pretty well established that Speusippus held this doctrine (cf. Merlan, From Platonism to Neoplatonism 86-118, and the Speusippus fragment in the newly published Latin translation of the ' lost' end of Proclus, In Parmenidem, Plato Latinus III, 40). It was certainly common doctrine among the Platonists of the second century A.D., as Festugière shows in his next chapter, and he also makes clear that the Hermetic doctrine of the unknowableness of God does not differ from the Platonic.

In the second part of the book Festugière deals with great clarity and penetration, and a very commendable restraint about passing judgment on the experiences recorded, with the mystical knowledge of God according to the Hermetic writings. The first section, ' La Mystique par Extraversion,' includes an extremely valuable section on the development of the idea of Aion as a divine power in later Greek religion. Here again Festugiere tries to provide the idea with a wholly Greek pedigree ; but it does not seem easy to account for its development completely from Greek philosophical sources, and it does not seem to me impossible that it may have been influenced by the Persian Zrvan akarana, though I should agree with Festugière that no satisfactory proof of such an influence has been produced.

from rev. by A. H. Armstrong, Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 45, Parts 1 and 2 (1955), pp. 188-189

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gift ideas for magicians and/or historians interested in Renaissance Magus John Dee

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Massive edition of Dee's notes on his angel magic methodology and experiences.

Readable, useful scholarly study of Dee's Angel chats, inspired my MA thesis.

Pioneering study of Dee through a postmodern cultue-history lens.

Scrupulous history of science study of John Dee's mathematics and physics.

Exciting collection of articles: cutting edge research on Dee's grimoire magic.

Detailed exploration of the sources of Dee's visionary magical imagination.

Dense but fascinating exploration of Dee's non-magical influence as intelligencer.

Paracelsus on the Signatures of Things

Hakannson p.292 In De signatura rerum Paracelsus states that each occult art devoted to the the reading of natural signs has its own particular stars, and that these stars “sign” terrene things “in a supernatural manner.” Thus, the stars that produce marks in the earth “sign or impress their marks on terrestrial bodies of the whole world in many and various ways”, not only by producing earthquakes, hills and valleys, but also by bringing forth De signatura rerum “gamaheos on bare shapes and images having remarkable powers and potencies.” Paracelsus never discusses these remarkable powers,however, confining himself to the remark that they are received from the seven planets just as a target receives a thrown bullet or spear.

from De signatura rerum

“Hinc enim multae aliae quoque artes prodeunt, ut Geomantia,Pyromantia, Hydromantia, Chaomantia, & Necromantia, quarum quaelibet suapecularia astra habet quae astra modo supernaturali ita signant. Et sciendumest, astra Geomantiae signa sua signare seu imprimere in terreno corpori universi orbis, multis quidem ac variis modis.Nam & terram mutant, & terrae motus ac hiatus pariunt, gignunt colles& valles, multa nova crescentia paturiunt, proferunt Gamaheos nudis figuris& imaginibus, insignes vires & potentias habentes, quas quidem aseptem planetis accipiunt, non secus acorbis seu scopus glandem aut telum accipit a iaculatore.”
see Waite p.191 for this passage English’d

here's Waite's rendering of this passage and a little further

The four arts of Geomancy, Hydromancy, Pyromancy, and Necromancy are thus noticed: Spirits which are (normally) unable to communicate visibly with men, have by lying arts invaded their imagination, and have raised up therein Geomancy, Pyromancy, Hydromancy, and Necromancy, arts not invented from the light of Nature or of men, but instilled by spirits, who, by their frauds, after they had descried some one or other discoverer suitable for their purposes, then added fitting disciples to these, namely, cultivators and admirers of the said arts. The first discoverers were obsessed by the devil, and sought out through his power and instigation arts of this kind. There are some, indeed, who, hiding the matter, affirm that they have been revealed from God ; but they are deceived, for God is not the author and teacher of inquiries into the future by means of such devices. He in no wise created us that we might devote ourselves to the investigation of what is to come, but ordered rather that, directing His attention to His commandments, we should seek out the knowledge of Himself and His manifest will. It is, therefore, a false pretence that these arts proceed from God when they emanate from spirits alone. It is, indeed, true that the spirits extracted them from God, not from the devil. But we on the earth derive them from spirits, not from God. Now, communication with such spirits is forbidden, though they themselves neglect the mandate. It is equally forbidden to the spirits to teach these arts, but here, also, they pay no attention to the command. And this is the reason why they are silent and tell lies when it is least becoming to do so. Thus, in order that man may act disobediently towards God, and plunge into superstitions they have devised the four above-mentioned methods for inquiring into the future. Geomancy is the art of points, having sixteen signs and figures, which they have arranged according to their property. To these they added translations, creta (sir), form, points, and similar things, and have taught the erection of the whole figure, fixing certain rules by wbich each figure could be understood each recognised in its own hou>e. with a sufficient und necessary interpretation,

Gift ideas for Hermetic enthusiasts

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The most current translation, by an excellent scholar.

A more affordable translation, aimed at a popular readership, the practitioner.

A surprisingly erudite popular treatment from the former Blondie guitarist.

Essential scholarly treatment of the socioreligious world of the ancient Hermetists.

Pioneering study of translations of Hermes myth into Arabic, with alchemical innovations.

Concise scholarly survey of varieties of Hermeticism by an expert in 18th century varieties.

Earlier scholarly translation with facing page greek or latin text. Older, but reliable.

Origin of 19th century interpretation of "spiritual alchemy" (which led to Jung's)

Foundational 1931 manifesto of anti-modernist Tantric Hermeticism. Alchemy as Yoga of Power.

Introduction to Jung's alchemical writings, with excerpts and explanations.

The best collection of alchemical emblems from the 17th century.

Useful collection of alchemical, astrological, kabbalistic and mystical imagery.

Classic 1964 study that introduced the scholarly world to Renaissance Hermeticism.

Metaphysical and magical texts of Giordano Bruno, the greatest hermetic philosopher.

Pioneering study of Renaissance magic as applied psycho-sociology. Magus as Ad-Man.

Festugiere was one of the first great scholarly authorities on the Hermetica.

Expensive but indispensable scholarly edition of The Book of Thoth. Translation, essays.

Mark Delp on The Immanence of Ratio in a medieval Hermetic text

Mark Delp "The Immanence of Ratio in the Cosmology of the De sex rerum principiis
in Hermetism from Late Antiquity to Humanism
Some of the most interesting movements in twelfth-century philosophy involved attempts to describe divine immanence in cosmological terms. In contrast to predominantly theological approaches in which divine operations were usually conceived of as acting "upon" nature, mostly under the aspect of the miraculous, or of the salvific power aiding the human spiritual flight from materiality, early twelfth-century philosophy began to conceive of divine operations as acting from within nature, determining in the recesses of the elemental qualities themselves their various modalities in celestial and terrestrial regions. Most important, perhaps, for the methodology of the new theological cosmologies was the fascination with the expansiveness and physicality of pagan attempts to bridge the gap between an immaterial summum bonum and the material cosmos by means of hierarchical orders of hypostases, divine and quasi-divine.
the Platonic tradition of deriving the cosmos from a divine source by means of a series of hierarchical principles is still evident

(unfortunately it's very expensive, but can be found in good University libraries)