Hermetic Library Newsletter - Issue #59 (there's a chalice full of rum on the altar with a tiny bit of bread crumbled in it)



Hermetic Library Newsletter - Issue #59 (there's a chalice full of rum on the altar with a tiny bit of bread crumbled in it)
By John Bell the Librarian • Issue #126 • View online
This week I don’t care about qabalah. I’ve also got RADIO @ HRMTC updates, a new Occult Femme giveaway collaboration, merch, memes, updates, quotes, reviews, mail call, and more!
And, as always, I worked on various other things on website, blog, and more … Enjoy!

I don't care about qabalah
You don’t know me, really. But, let me tell you a little something.
Some number of years ago, more than a few, I was in conversation at a local body and the person I was talking with wondered if anyone at the lodge actually identified as “pagan”. I answered that I did. I also said, “I’m sure as shit not Christian.” Whether that label “pagan” is simply used, in the long tradition of doing so, for anything not-Christian, or something else in particular, might colour and nuance my first answer, but I’d still probably say, on balance, I still identify as pagan (At the very least, it’s a lot easier than explaining “militantly agnostic non-christian cosmopolitan mystic” or whatever word-salad I’ve settled on lately, after all), but I still and again will always be quick to say, “I’m sure as shit not Christian.”
Okay, so, I am not Christian. Never was, and never will be. I’m also not Jewish or Muslim. I have no interest in them except general intellectual curiosity. But, none of those systems are part of my personal life, and they never have been. I also don’t speak or read Hebrew, Aramaic, or Arabic, even if I might know a few words, and so on, here and there, from exposure, as you can well imagine.
Even so, it might shock you, especially considering the website I run, but I’m sure you can understand if you think about it, that I don’t actually care very much what the first, last, or any words in between are in any of the Christian, Jewish, or Islamic religious texts. I also don’t care what the letters in the languages of those texts add up to, or which words are equivalent to each other. It’s trivia and lore for the fandom, about which I might know and be familiar, but it isn’t my fandom of choice.
I’m happy to let people enjoy things, and absolutely have their traditions free from persecution, when they return the favour, but it’s not something that I enjoy, let alone care about for my own part.
Shocked? Would you require a Star Trek fan to get excited about Star Wars in order to be into Scifi overall? Or would you let them enjoy their things within the overall whole?
But, let me just say also that to the extent that Thelema is soaking in Christianity, I stop being interested. And, if you don’t think Thelema is, then you’re not paying attention or are a fish swimming in water they aren’t seeing. I’d say Thelema is moist with it, but it’s positively sopping wet. If Thelema were rum cake, and Christianity were the rum, there’s a chalice full of rum on the altar with a tiny bit of bread crumbled in it. Thelema is, in my view, quite obviously a Christian heresy. To paraphrase David Richard Jones, who exactly is it you think comes out of the tomb during the Gnostic Mass?
Heselton’s 2 volume biography Witchfather makes a cogent and coherent case that Gerald Gardner created a religion that was permissive of his particular romantic proclivities. I’ll suggest without going into it further, that one might also see Crowley wanted a religion that fulfilled his desire for the authoritarian structures familiar to him from his childhood but that was permissive and supportive of his own kinky AF and queer proclivities too. Maybe the two of them even talked about that when they met? We’ll probably never know, but I can speculate that they both got what they were seeking.
Even when Thelema isn’t positively Christian, it is Christian in its heretical opposition; because to be in opposition that circuit requires both cathode and anode.
This perhaps explains the shock of the organizer of a ritual I was at where one element was to trample on a cross. The organizer was shocked that so many present were willing to do it. Why were they shocked? Probably because the symbol still meant so much to them, even if in opposition, they assumed it meant that much to other people. Perhaps for some who did it the act was fraught with inner meaning over which they struggled. For me? Not so much per se.
However, I understood the act in the ritual, and the reason for it, but the actual symbol was not one I ever accepted or needed particularly to struggle over ritually rejecting as part of my life. But, for the ritual, in that space, for that moment, I trampled on that cross as a symbolic substitute for something else entirely in the spirit in which the act was intended, as much as I could embody the action for myself.
One of the questions a lot of people consider at one point in their esotericism or other is how they feel and think about the entities discussed and worked with in rituals and so on. This is the question of the psychological model (also, for funsies, here’s an article on a variety of models archived from Spiral Nature, not just the psychological one). Do the entities and structures in esoteric study and practice have “actual” existence, are they independent ontological phenomena? Or, are they maps for inner, psychological, epistemological experience?
Wherever you come down on that, let me respectfully submit that it doesn’t really matter in the end. There are times when in doing something it works best if you are fully invested in the belief in the actual existence of that thing represented by the elements in that working. When that’s the case, do your best to fully realize and accept the ontological existence of the elements you’re working with, at least as long as is necessary for the work.
But, after that point, be prepared to let that all go. Do anything you need to release that particular set of beliefs and certainties that aren’t in service to you, perhaps aided by physicalizing something as mnemonic triggers, like putting a particular ring on another finger or having other specific surroundings and trappings that can be doffed or stored away, for which the doffing and storing is itself a specific and ritual act.
This is like the process of a method actor, diving into embodying and living a role, who then, hopefully, returns to themselves after they de-role, or, you know, come back from the journey changed, ready to change the world, but come back to the world and don’t get lost in Chapel Perilous. Don’t become the kind of method actor, or practitioner, that is a cautionary tale.
So, believe in what serves you, for as long as it serves you, as strongly as you can, but then let it go when you’re done. For me that means that no one particular set of symbols and correspondences is the right one, the only one, certainly not for me, anyway. And, I’m furthermore free to not find myself drawn to any of them in particular, unless, for some reason, I find that useful for the moment.
As far as I’m concerned, you just need a rich symbol system with which your self can talk to yourself, and have a vibrant inner life. Find it, use it, enjoy it. Whether that’s qabalah, tarot, runes, or the complexities of inter-species sociopolitics in the Bajor Sector in the Star Trek Universe. Give yourself something deeply and broadly symbolic and open to interpretation so that your self can have complex and rich communication with you, whatever that something is. Pick a fandom that speaks to you personally, and that gives you the mythology worthy of the depth of your work.
Put that stuff in your brain, for as long as you like, whichever you like, and cook your noodle in that sauce until you’ve got something delicious. Then, grab a cookbook or recipe online for something else next time. Maybe you’ll find some dishes that match your palate and also some that don’t. You might try some things that you didn’t like again, just to see if your tastes have changed over time. Or you want to try to practice a particular cooking skill. Maybe even, sometimes, you’ll find that there’s medicinal value in stuff that’s unappetizing, so you’ll have that in spite of the taste.
I’m happy to let people have their preferences about useful symbol sets, but I also expect that others will be happy letting me have mine.
A: “Honey, please wake up our son.”
This week I introduced TALK RADIO @ HRMTC, a 2nd public, listener supported Hermetic Library Internet radio station dedicated to esoteric, occult talk radio, including new and archived podcasts, talk shows, lectures, book readings, and other spoken word broadcasts.
You can read more about that over on a public post at Patreon, with lots of details about the station and even a peek behind the curtain at some technical stuff about how I’m running these stations.
But, right now, the station is entirely filled with the old Thelema Coast To Coast podcast. I’ll add more stuff as time goes by. But, I guess I figured, what the hell. Why not just do it?
Also, I added in two new batches of stuff into general rotation on MUSIC RADIO @ HRMTC.
Occult Femme giveaway
This week I received a box with some more gifts from Femme Occulte [website, patreon, instagram, facebook, &c.] which arrived from the Czech Republic. As a reminder, they make an annual book from a magazine they create “quarterly focused on occultism, magick, mysticism and witchcraft” that may be of interest. They create this book over on their own Patreon and each one is “intended to include tips for seeking beginners, but more importantly a majority of articles for advanced practitioners who want a new, deeper experience.”
They graciously offered to send another set of magazines and ritual kits, so I could add them to the collection at the library, but also so I could mention them on social media and extras of each to do another special offer for Patrons.
Whilst this giveaway is for Patrons, and if you are one head over and check that out (or become one!), you can also gander at these on the Femme Occulte site, or check if there’s stock at Peculiar Parish. In particular this time around there’s Femme Occulte, Winter 2021 [Femme Occulte, Peculiar Parish], 2) Femme Occult, Spring 2022 [Femme Occulte, Peculiar Parish] and 3) Ritual Kit, Winter 2021. As of this writing, #2 has already been claimed, but the other two items are still on offer, on a first-come basis, to all Patrons.
Special thanks to Femme Occulte for the neat stuff for the library and for sending extras for this giveaway as thanks from us both to ongoing Patrons!
I posted a shop update about adding a selection of buttons, magnets, and stickers to the shop with the Cold Biblically Accurate Angel from my “If you’re cold, they’re cold. Be not afraid.” meme. The slickers and magnets are die cut around the shape. The buttons have the cold sky background. So check ‘em out!
Things to check out at Hermetic Library
And on the blog
Dithyrambs of Dionysus
Scourge of the Gods: The Fall
And, elsewhere
Mail call
Some mail arrived at the Reading Room! The envelope for Postal Exchange from Indiana got a bit roughed up, but let’s take a look inside!
The other item was the box from Femme Occulte which I talked about above already, but here’s me opening it!
So, the postal exchange stuff will be added in to the mix for the next mailing, which I’m hoping to get ready to head out soon, and the giveaway items will also be sent out to those who have claimed them, along with other various things, to Patrons with a postal perk and anyone who has sent stuff.
As a reminder, even if you aren’t able to become a Patron, you can get in on the fun. There’s a postal address at the end of each of these newsletters, but you can also find my current mailing address on the library’s contact page.
All you have to do is send me something and I’ll send something back!
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John Bell the Librarian
By John Bell the Librarian

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