Monday, December 17, 2012

abstract from a paper on the Kabbalah of Rosenroth

"Dans le cadre de l’étude de la circulation des modèles et des savoirs en Europe, nous proposons de nous attacher ici à la figure de l’adam kadmon, littéralement « homme primordial », telle qu’elle apparaît dans la Kabbala denudata de Knorr de Rosenroth, à ses caractéristiques et au rôle qu’elle joue au sein du système mis en place par l’auteur. Œuvre composée dans le dernier quart du 17e siècle par le mystique et hébraïste allemand Christian Knorr de Rosenroth, la Kabbala denudata constitue, selon nous, une véritable charnière au sein du mouvement de la kabbale chrétienne et, plus largement, dans l’histoire de la spiritualité européenne. Publiée en 1677, l’œuvre est postérieure à la kabbale chrétienne classique et ouvre la voie à la reformulation de ses principes par l’ésotérisme moderne naissant.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Call For Papers - Celestial Magic

University of Wales Trinity Saint David
The Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture,
School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology

Eleventh Annual Sophia Centre Conference
Second Call for Papers


22-23 June 2013
Venue: Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, Bath, England

Keynote speakers

Prof. Peter Forshaw, Universitair Docent (Senior Lecturer/Assistant
Professor) for the History of Western Esotericism in the Early Modern Period
at the Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents,
University of Amsterdam.

Prof. Elliot R. Wolfson, Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic
Studies, New York University.

Conference Chairs
Dr Nicholas Campion, University of Wales Trinity Saint David,
Dr Liz Greene, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the University of

Conference Theme
Magic, loosely defined, is the attempt to engage with the world through the
imagination or psyche, in order to obtain some form of knowledge, benefit or
advantage. Celestial magic engages with the cosmos through stellar,
planetary or celestial symbolism, influences or intelligences. This academic
conference will explore the history, philosophy and practice of celestial
magic in past or present societies.
Topics may include:
Astronomy and magic in literature
Astral magic in the ancient world
Anthropological theory and astral magic
The use of astrology by magical societies
Astral divination and magic
Magical theory as a rational for astrology

The conference organisers invite proposals for papers of 30 minutes which
may deal with text, imagery, practice or theory. We welcome proposals on any
time period or culture. The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2012.

Please include an abstract of c. 150 words and a biography of c 100 words,
in the same document.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Alberti and Ficino

Leon Battista Alberti and Marsilio Ficino, though separated by twenty-nine years in age, had a close relationship as mentor and pupil. Concepts which can be found in Alberti's De Pictura (1435) and De Re Aedificatoria (1450) are infused in Ficino's De Amore (1469). The concepts include Alberti's theories of armonia, lineamenti, concinnitas, ornamento, and the pyramid of light in the theory of vision. In both Alberti and Ficino, harmonies shared by the body and music are manifestations of the harmonies of the soul. Beauty in body and matter is determined by beauty in mind (mens), that part of mind directed toward intellectus divinus, and beauty is made manifest in mind by the lineamenti, the lines in the mind which are distinguished from matter. Beauty is the internal perfection of the intellectus divinus, which is the good, which is a perfect harmony called concinnitas. Ornament is not beauty, but rather a physical complement to beauty.

Call For Papers: Grimoires at UT Austin

"Text, Context, and Non-Text: Grimoires and Ritual Magic in culture, literature, and art."
Location: TexasUnited States
Call for Papers Date:2013-01-15
Date Submitted:2012-11-29
Announcement ID:199149
Text, Context, and Non-Text: Grimoires in Central Europe
April 5th and 6th 2013
The University of Texas at Austin
Conference sponsored by
the Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies,
the Texas Chair for Czech Studies,
and the Departments of History,
Germanic Studies, and Religious Studies
This conference is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of a large corpus of magic texts that figure prominently in the cultural and intellectual history of Europe. Its focus will be grimoires, real or imagined, whose legacy has reverberated throughout European culture in the form of folktales, literature (Faust, for example), and graphic art down to the present, at times being among the few treasured possessions brought to the New World.
Abstracts are requested that address any facet of this cultural legacy, in any country and in any era:
· TEXT refers to the content of the grimoire, its images and words, and issues arising from these directly--analysis of meaning, new manuscript finds, translations, etc.
· CONTEXT refers to the total situation in which the grimoire exists, with a view to politics, arts and letters, religion, folklore, etc.
· NON-TEXT refers to any situation in which the grimoire as object or as idea is more central than its content--the evocative indecipherability of existing grimoires, the grimoire as an emblem, key, or symbol, etc.
Abstracts for twenty-minute conference presentations from any discipline will be considered. Please send the abstract as part of an email to: Abstracts should be no more than 500 words long and accompanied by a brief (250 word) biography suitable for an introduction at the conference. The conference language is English. All abstracts should be submitted by December 15th (Jan 15th extended deadline.)
We look forward to welcoming a variety of exciting keynote speakers from Central Europe:
Prof. em. Leander Petzoldt of the University of Innsbruck, author of numerous books and collections of folklore, including Magie: Weltbild, Praktiken, Rituale (Magic: World View, Practices, Rituals)
Dr. Susanne Hose of the Sorbian Institute in Bautzen, Germany, author of numerous works on the motifs of magic and magicians (such as Krabat) in the folklore of Lusatia.
Jason Roberts

Friday, November 23, 2012

Visionary Architecture

Champoux’s dissertation, “Visionary Architecture: Monastic Magic and Cognition in John of Morigny’s ‘Liber florum,’” is concerned with the 14th-century Benedictine monk who participated in ritual magic and had visionary experiences. Besides being fascinating reading, John’s text, says Champoux, has altered the study and classification of medieval religions.
“Through a detailed examination of John’s visions and the historical context in which they were written, I argue that magic unsettled medieval theological boundaries and imbued John with a degree of creative license that forced theological interventions from his more orthodox peers,” says Champoux.
Patricia Miller, Champoux’s adviser, says this kind of research is rooted in the latter-day work of Hélène Cixous—specifically, her concept of “productive exile”—and of Michel Foucault, whose study of utopias and heterotopias has changed our understanding of space and time. Miller also points out that Champoux’s research rocks the fractious scholarly field of magic at its “conceptual and definitional core.”
“She is intellectually bold to enter into these discussions,” says Miller, who serves as the Bishop W. Earl Ledden Professor of Religion. “I think her approach—which emphasizes the idea of what magic does, intellectually, rather than what it is—will make a real contribution toward de-essentializing this topic and enabling its study as a legitimate expression of religion.”

Monday, November 12, 2012

Renaissance Scholars and Their Demons - Ficino lecture

Society for Neo-Latin Studies: Annual Lecture
November 16th, 5 p.m., University College London
Dr Maude Vanhaelen (University of Warwick)
Renaissance scholars and their demons:
on Ficino and Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis

In 1486, Ficino suddenly interrupts his commentary on Plotinus’ Enneads and devotes three years to the translation of other Neoplatonic texts related to some of the most delicate doctrines of the time: pagan demonology, divination through dreams and theurgy. This paper examines the circumstances surrounding the production of these texts, and explores the ways in which they modify ancient and medieval doctrines of prophecy and divination. It also offers an overview of the immediate reception of Ficino’s translations: it shows that a network of humanists nourished a special interest in the doctrines revived by Ficino, prompting Savonarola to mount virulent attacks against his contemporaries’ revival of the pagan cult to malevolent ‘spirits’.

The lecture will take place in the Chadwick Building (G08), University College London, on Gower Street WC1E 6BT (

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bruno's "Renaissance Dream of Knowledge" in England

The Renaissance Drama of Knowledge

Giordano Bruno in England


By Hilary Gatti

Giordano Bruno’s visit to Elizabethan England in the 1580s left its imprint on many fields of contemporary culture, ranging from the newly-developing science, the philosophy of knowledge and language, to the extraordinary flowering of Elizabethan poetry and drama.
This book explores Bruno's influence on English figures as different as the ninth Earl of Northumberland, Thomas Harriot, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. Originally published in 1989, it is of interest to students and teachers of history of ideas, cultural history, European drama and renaissance England.

Bruno's work had particular power and emphasis in the modern world due to his response to the cultural crisis which had developed - his impulse towards a new ‘faculty of knowing’ had a disruptive effect on existing orthodoxies – religious, scientific, philosophical, and political.

abstract from the publisher's website

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Call for Papers: The Substance of Sacred Place

From:   Urban, Tim <>
Date:   October 29, 2012

Call for Papers

The Substance of Sacred Place:
An Interdisciplinary Workshop on Locative Materiality

organised by Laura Veneskey and Annette Hoffmann

20th/21st June 2013
Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut

The study of holy places has long been a central concern of not only the humanities, but also the social sciences. Much of this body of scholarship has focused on pilgrimage and sacred centers, either as theoretical constructions or as concrete places, such as Jerusalem, Mecca or Benares. These subjects have been explored, on the one hand, through the study of ritual and liturgy, and on the other, through various modes of representation, be they architectural, cartographic, iconic, or textual. Complementary to these lines of inquiry, we invite papers that explore the material and tactile dimensions of locative sacrality across religious traditions. How is a sense of place communicable through physical means? What can a consideration of matter tell us about the often fraught relationship between the tangible world and its representation?

We seek analyses of all materials evocative of a particular sacred milieu, not only earth, dust, stone, but also wood, metal, pigments, oil, or water. Presentations exploring either the substances and places themselves or textual and iconic depictions thereof are equally welcome. We invite papers from all disciplines on any locale conceived of as sacred, whether scriptural, pilgrim, monastic, ascetic, or cultic, between antiquity and the early modern period. The workshop is aimed at young researchers, and is intended to bring together graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and those in the early stages of their teaching or professional careers.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- Sacred landscapes (deserts, mountains, caves, etc.)
- The material dimensions of topographic representation (iconic or textual)
- Earthen, geographic, and locative relics
- Transportable versus site-specific sanctity
- The physicality of built environments and places of worship

Interested applicants should send a current c.v. and an abstract of no more than 250 words (for presentations of twenty minutes) to Proposals must be received by date 30th November 2012.

For questions and further information please contact:
Laura Veneskey (
or Annette Hoffmann (

Saturday, October 20, 2012

abstract of Blum's Introduction to Giordano Bruno

 "Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was a philosopher in his own right. However, he was famous through the centuries due to his execution as a heretic. His pronouncements against teachings of the Catholic Church, his defence of the cosmology of Nicholas Copernicus, and his provocative personality, all this made him a paradigmatic figure of modernity. Bruno’s way of philosophizing is not looking for outright solutions but rather for the depth of the problems; he knows his predecessors and their strategies as well as their weaknesses, which he exposes satirically. This introduction helps to identify the original thought of Bruno who proudly said about himself: “Philosophy is my profession!” His major achievements concern the creativity of the human mind studied through the theory of memory, the infinity of the world, and the discovery of atomism for modernity. He never held a permanent office within or without the academic world. Therefore, the way of thinking of this “Knight Errant of Philosophy” will be presented along the stations of his journey through Western Europe.

Pleasant Campania: Education Before and In the Convent
Fleeing into Exile—Northern Italy, Geneva, Toulouse: Astronomy as a Means of Earning a Living
Paris: The Power of Memory
Off to London: Satire, Metaphysics, and Ethics in Italian
God Is Not Idle: Infinite Possibilities and Infinite Reality
Religion and Ethics for the People and the Hero
Return to Paris: Challenging Mathematics and Aristotelianism
“Houses of Wisdom” in Germany: History, Magic, and Atomism
Off to Venice: The Trial of the Heretic
Afterlife: From Heretic to Hermeticist 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

abstract for a talk on textual sources of magic, epistemological problems

Giving a talk tomorrow for an interdisciplinary seminar series on pre-modern era research (before 1800) in Tartu, Estonia.

Jason Cronbach Van Boom

This talk discusses the use of textual sources in the study of medieval and early modern magic (1100-1650). Like other historical disciplines, the history of magic relies heavily on texts. When studying medieval and early modern magic, however, the historian uses two kinds of texts: texts about magic, and texts that were intended as tools for magical practices. The former category is extremely diverse with respect to content and ideological perspective. This category includes academic, legal, polemical, and popular texts. Academic and polemical texts themselves fall into different categories, mostly juridical, theological, and philosophical. Their authors come form a spectrum of learned opinion about magic, ranging from complete opposition to ardent defense. Grimoires and other magical texts comprise a distinct category. They address a limited audience (practitioners of magic) and are intended to be experimental handbooks rather than speculative treatises. Consequently, they pose some special epistemological problems. The talk will discuss four texts as primary examples: the De Mineralibus of Albertus Magnus, the Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, the De Occulta Philosophia of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, and a 15th century German necromantic manual (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 849) published by Prof. Richard Kieckhefer.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Call for Papers: Celestial Magic

University of Wales Trinity Saint David
The Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture,
School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology

Eleventh Annual Sophia Centre Conference
Call for Papers


22-23 June 2013
Venue: Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, Bath, England

Keynote speakers

Prof. Peter Forshaw, Universitair Docent (Senior Lecturer/Assistant
Professor) for History of Western Esotericism in the Early Modern Period at
the Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents,
University of Amsterdam.

Prof. Elliot R. Wolfson, Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic
Studies, New York University.

Conference Chairs
Dr Nicholas Campion, University of Wales Trinity Saint David,
Dr Liz Greene, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the University of

Conference Theme
Magic, loosely defined, is the attempt to engage with the world through the
imagination or psyche, in order to obtain some form of knowledge, benefit or
advantage. Celestial magic engages with the cosmos through stellar,
planetary or celestial symbolism, influences or intelligences. This academic
conference will explore the history, philosophy and practice of celestial
magic in past or present societies.

The conference organisers invite proposals for papers of 30 minutes which
may deal with text, imagery, practice or theory. We welcome proposals on any
time period or culture. The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2012.

Please include an abstract of c. 150 words and a biography of c 100 words,
in the same document.

Abstracts and biographies should be e mailed to Dr Liz Greene,

The conference is held in collaboration with the Sophia Centre Press.
Publication: selected proceedings will be published through the Sophia
Centre Press.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hebrew translation of Lull

Raimundus Lullus, Ha-Melacha ha-Ketzara. A Hebrew Translation of Ramon Llull's Ars Brevis, Turnhout, 2012.

 Éditeur : Brepols
Collection : Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis
ISBN : 978-2-503-54198-3 140 €
Ramon Llull completed the Ars breuis in 1308. This short but very popular work extant in over seventy manuscripts was a concise and much more easily digestible version of the much longer Ars generalis ultima, the final redaction of Llull's Art. In Senigallia in the March of Ancona in July or August 1474, the Ars breuis was translated into Hebrew and then copied twice over the next couple of years. The colophon of the extant copy shows that these Jewish students of the Ars breuis used the work to attain unio mystica. This seems to be a unique example of a Christian work, described as being ”short in quantity but great in quality”, knowingly being used by Jews for mystical purposes.

The translator and copyists seem to have read and understood Llull's work through the prism of Abulafian Kabbalah. Abraham Abulafia (d. ca. 1291), a contemporary of Llull's, wrote numerous works dealing with the divine names and the combination of letters. He believed that the whole Torah was the names of God, and by manipulating the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, one could have knowledge of the divine and created world. This Jewish circle seemed to have understood the letters of the Lullian alphabet and the various combinations and compartments of the Ars breuis as leading to true mystical cognition.

This volume presents the Hebrew edition together with the original Latin (based on a slightly revised edition of ROL 12 / CC CM 38) along with an English translation and detailed notes which show how the Jewish translator and copyists understood and used this work.

This edition was prepared under the auspices of the ERC project “Latin Philosophy into Hebrew: Intercultural Networks in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Europe”.

Harvey J. Hames is Professor of Medieval History at Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Israel).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Embryology+Astrology After Pico

3. “Renaissance Embryology and Astrology after Pico”
Hiro Hirai (Radboud University Nijmegen)
The traditional relationship between medicine and astrology was transformed during the Renaissance.A major factor of this change was the criticism formulated by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494). In his posthumous work Disputations against Judicial Astrology (Bologna, 1496), he rejected the divinatory aspects of astrology while accepting its physical dimensions, which can be qualified as “natural astrology.” According to him, celestial bodies produce their effects only by physical means such as motion, light and heat. The field of embryology received a direct impact from Pico’s new theory. This paper will take up the case of a lesser-known philosophical embryology published in Italy during the 1560s by Sebastiano Paparella who taught theoretical medicine at Pisa and Perugia. Under the strong influence of Pico, he tried to restore cosmic bonds, which could bridge the gap between heaven and seeds in animal and human generation.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Giordano Bruno's Definition of Magic

On Magic

First, the term ‘magician’ means a wise man; for example, the Trismegistes
among the Egyptians, the druids among the Gauls, the gymnosophists
among the Indians, the cabalists among the Hebrews, the magi among the
Persians (who were followers of Zoroaster), the sophists among the Greeks
and the wise men among the Latins.

Second, ‘magician’ refers to someone who does wondrous things merely
by manipulating active and passive powers, as occurs in chemistry, medicine
and such fields; this is commonly called ‘natural magic’.

Third, magic involves circumstances such that the actions of nature or
of a higher intelligence occur in such a way as to excite wonderment by
their appearances; this type of magic is called ‘prestidigitation’.

Fourth, magic refers to what happens as a result of the powers of attraction
and repulsion between things, for example, the pushes, motions and
attractions due to magnets and such things, when all these actions are due
not to active and passive qualities but rather to the spirit or soul existing in
things. This is called ‘natural magic’ in the proper sense.

The fifth meaning includes, in addition to these powers, the use of
words, chants, calculations of numbers and times, images, figures, symbols,
characters, or letters. This is a form of magic which is intermediate between
the natural and the preternatural or the supernatural, and is properly called
‘mathematical magic’, or even more accurately ‘occult philosophy’.

The sixth sense adds to this the exhortation or invocation of the intelligences
and external or higher forces by means of prayers, dedications,
incensings, sacrifices, resolutions and ceremonies directed to the gods,
demons and heroes. Sometimes, this is done for the purpose of contacting
a spirit itself to become its vessel and instrument in order to appear wise,
although this wisdom can be easily removed, together with the spirit, by
means of a drug. This is the magic of the hopeless, who become the vessels
of evil demons, which they seek through their notorious art. On the other
hand, this is sometimes done to command and control lower demons with
the authority of higher demonic spirits, by honouring and entreating the
latter while restricting the former with oaths and petitions. This is
transnatural or metaphysical magic and is properly called ‘theurgy’.

Seventh, magic is the petition or invocation, not of the demons and
heroes themselves, but through them, to call upon the souls of dead
humans, in order to predict and know absent and future events, by taking
their cadavers or parts thereof to some oracle. This type of magic, both in
its subject matter and in its purpose, is called ‘necromancy’. If the body is
not present, but the oracle is beseeched by invoking the spirit residing in
its viscera with very active incantations, then this type of magic is properly
called ‘Pythian’, for, if I may say so, this was the usual meaning of ‘inspired’
at the temple of the Pythian Apollo.

Eighth, sometimes incantations are associated with a person’s physical
parts in any sense; garments, excrement, remnants, footprints and anything
which is believed to have made some contact with the person. In that case,
and if they are used to untie, fasten, or weaken, then this constitutes the
type of magic called ‘wicked’, if it leads to evil. If it leads to good, it is to be
counted among the medicines belonging to a certain method and type of
medical practice. If it leads to final destruction and death, then it is called
‘poisonous magic’.

Ninth, all those who are able, for any reason, to predict distant and
future events are said to be magicians. These are generally called ‘diviners’
because of their purpose. The primary groups of such magicians use either
the four material principles, fire, air, water and earth, and they are thus
called ‘pyromancers’, ‘hydromancers’, and ‘geomancers’, or they use the
three objects of knowledge, the natural, mathematical and divine. There
are also various other types of prophecy. For augerers, soothsayers and
other such people make predictions from an inspection of natural or physical
things. Geomancers make predictions in their own way by inspecting
mathematical objects like numbers, letters and certain lines and figures,
and also from the appearance, light and location of the planets and similar
objects. Still others make predictions by using divine things, like sacred
names, coincidental locations, brief calculations and persevering circumstances.
In our day, these latter people are not called magicians, since, for
us, the word ‘magic’ sounds bad and has an unworthy connotation. So this
is not called magic but ‘prophecy’.

Finally, ‘magic’ and ‘magician’ have a pejorative connotation which has
not been included or examined in the above meanings. In this sense, a
magician is any foolish evil-doer who is endowed with the power of helping
or harming someone by means of a communication with, or even a pact
with, a foul devil. This meaning does not apply to wise men, or indeed to
authors, although some of them have adopted the name ‘hooded magicians’,
for example, the authors of the book De malleo maleficarum (The
Witches’ Hammer). As a result, the name is used today by all writers of this
type, as can be seen in the comments and beliefs of ignorant and foolish

Therefore, when the word ‘magic’ is used, it should either be taken in
one of the senses distinguished above, or, if it is used without qualifications,
it should be taken in its strongest and most worthy sense as dictated by the
logicians, and especially by Aristotle in Book v of the Topics. So as it is used
by and among philosophers, ‘magician’ then means a wise man who has the
power to act. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the word, when unqualified,
means whatever is signified by common usage. Another common
meaning is found among various groups of priests who frequently speculate
about that foul demon called the devil. Still other meanings are to be
found in the common usages of different peoples and believers.
Given these distinctions, we will deal generally with three types of
magic: the divine, the physical and the mathematical. The first two of these
types of magic necessarily relate to what is good and best. But the third type
includes both good and evil, since the magician may direct it towards either.
Although all three types agree on many principles and actions, in the third
type, wickedness, idolatry, lawlessness and charges of idolatry are found
when error and deception are used to turn things which are intrinsically
good into evil. Here, the mathematical type of magic is not defined by the
usually mentioned fields of mathematics, i. e., geometry, arithmetic, astronomy,
optics, music, etc., but rather by its likeness and relationship to these
disciplines. It is similar to geometry in that it uses figures and symbols, to
music in its chants, to arithmetic in its numbers and manipulations, to
astronomy in its concerns for times and motions, and to optics in making
observations. In general, it is similar to mathematics as a whole, either
because it mediates between divine and natural actions, or because it shares
or lacks something of both. For some things are intermediates because they
participate in both extremes, others because they are excluded from both
extremes, in which case they should not be called intermediates but a third
species which is not between the other two but outside of them. From what
has been said, it is clear how divine and physical magic differ from the third

To turn now to the particulars, magicians take it as axiomatic that, in all
the panorama before our eyes, God acts on the gods; the gods act on the
celestial or astral bodies, which are divine bodies; these act on the spirits
who reside in and control the stars, one of which is the earth; the spirits act
on the elements, the elements on the compounds, the compounds on the
senses; the senses on the soul, and the soul on the whole animal. This is the
descending scale.

By contrast, the ascending scale is from the animal through the soul to
the senses, through the senses to compounds, through compounds to the
elements, through these to spirits, through the spirits in the elements to
those in the stars, through these to the incorporeal gods who have an ethereal
substance or body, through them to the soul of the world or the spirit of the
universe; and through that to the contemplation of the one, most simple,
best, greatest, incorporeal, absolute and self-sufficient being.
Thus, there is a descent from God through the world to animals, and an
ascent from animals through the world to God. He is the highest point of
the scale, pure act and active power, the purest light. At the bottom of the
scale is matter, darkness and pure passive potency, which can become all
things from the bottom, just as He can make all things from the top.
Between the highest and lowest levels, there are intermediaries, the higher
of which have a greater share of light and action and active power, while the
lower levels have a greater share of darkness, potency and passive power.
As a result, all light in lower things, which comes to them from above, is
more powerful in higher things. And also, all darkness in higher things is
stronger in lower things. But the nature and power of light and darkness
are not equal. For light diffuses and penetrates through the lowest and
deepest darkness, but darkness does not touch the purest sphere of light.
Thus, light penetrates and conquers darkness and overflows to infinity,
while darkness does not penetrate or overwhelm or equal the light, but
rather is very weak compared to light.

text lifted from this excellent Philosophy of Magic Course Website

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lactantius on Demons, Hermes Trismegistus

Chapter xv.-Of the Corruption of Angels, and the Two Kinds of Demons.
When, therefore, the number of men had begun to increase, God in His forethought, lest the devil, to whom from the beginning He had given power over the earth, should by his subtilty either corrupt or destroy men, as he had done at first, sent angels for the protection and improvement206 of the human race; and inasmuch as He had given these a free will, He enjoined them above all things not to defile themselves with contamination from the earth, and thus lose the dignity of their heavenly nature.207 He plainly prohibited them from doing that which He knew that they would do, that they might entertain no hope of pardon. Therefore, while they abode among men, that most deceitful ruler208 of the earth, by his very association, gradually enticed them to vices, and polluted them by intercourse with women. Then, not being admitted into heaven on account of the sins into which they had plunged themselves, they fell to the earth.  Thus from angels the devil makes them to become his satellites and attendants. But they who were born from these, because they were neither angels nor men, but bearing a kind of mixed209 nature, were not admitted into hell, as their fathers were not into heaven. Thus there came to be two kinds of demons; one of heaven, the other of the earth. The latter are the wicked210 spirits, the authors of all the evils which are done, and the same devil is their prince.Whence Trismegistus calls him the ruler of the demons. But grammarians say that they are called demons, as though doemones,211 that is, skilled and acquainted with matters: for they think that these are gods. They are acquainted, indeed, with many future events, but not all, since it is not permitted them entirely to know the counsel of God; and therefore they are accustomed to accommodate212 their answers to ambiguous results. The poets both know them to be demons, and so describe them.
Hesiod thus speaks:-
"These are the demons according to the will of Zeus, Good, living on the earth, the guardians of mortal men."
And this is said for this purpose, because God had sent them as guardians to the human race; but they themselves also, though they are the destroyers of men, yet wish themselves to appear as their guardians, that they themselves may be worshipped, and God may not be worshipped. The philosophers also discuss the subject of these beings. For Plato attempted even to explain their natures in his "Banquet; "and Socrates said that there was a demon continually about him, who had become attached to him when a boy, by whose will and direction his life was guided. The art also and power of the Magi altogether consists in the influences213 of these; invoked by whom they deceive the sight of men with deceptive illusions,214 so that they do not see those things which exist, and think that they see those things which do not exist. These contaminated and abandoned spirits, as I say, wander over the whole earth, and contrive a solace for their own perdition by the destruction of men. Therefore they fill every place with snares, deceits, frauds, and errors; for they cling to individuals, and occupy whole houses from door to door, and assume to themselves the name of genii; for by this word they translate demons in the Latin language. They consecrate these in their houses, to these they daily pour out215 libations of wine, and worship the wise demons as gods of the earth, and as averters of those evils which they themselves cause and impose. And these, since spirits are without substance216 and not to be grasped, insinuate themselves into the bodies of men; and secretly working in their inward parts, they corrupt the health, hasten diseases, terrify their souls with dreams, harass their minds with phrenzies, that by these evils they may compel men to have recourse to their aid.
Chapter xvi.-That Demons Have No Power Over Those Who are Established in the Faith.
And the nature of all these deceits217 is obscure to those who are without the truth. For they think that those demons profit them when they cease to injure, whereas they have no power except to injure.218 Some one may perchance say that they are therefore to be worshipped, that they may not injure, since they have the power to injure. They do indeed injure, but those only by whom they are feared, whom the powerful and lofty hand of God does not protect, who are uninitiated in the mystery219 of truth. But they fear the righteous,220 that is, the worshippers of God, adjured by whose name they depart221 from the bodies of the possessed: for, being lashed by their words as though by scourges, they not only confess themselves to be demons, but even utter their own names-those which are adored in the temples-which they generally do in the presence of their own worshippers; not, it is plain, to the disgrace of religion, but222 to the disgrace of their own honour, because they cannot speak falsely to God, by whom they are adjured, nor to the righteous, by whose voice they are tortured.  Therefore ofttimes having uttered thegreatest howlings, they cry out that they are beaten, and are on fire, and that they are just on the point of coming forth: so much power has the knowledge of God, and righteousness! Whom, therefore, can they injure, except those whom they have in their own power? In short, Hermes affirms that those who have known God are not only safe from the attacks of demons, but that they are not even bound by fate. "The only protection," he says, "is piety, for over a pious man neither evil demon nor fate has any power: for God rescues the pious man from all evil; for the one and only good thing among men is piety." And what piety is, he testifies in another place, in these words: "For piety is the knowledge of God." Asclepius also, his disciple, more fully expressed the same sentiment in that finished discourse which he wrote to the king. Each of them, in truth, affirms that the demons are the enemies and harassers of men, and on this account Trismegistus calls them wicked angels; so far was he from being ignorant that from heavenly beings they were corrupted, and began to be earthly.

Book IV. Of True Wisdom and Religion.
  Chapter vi.-Almighty God Begat His Son; And the Testimonies of the Sibyls and of Trismegistus Concerning Him.
God, therefore, the contriver and founder of all things, as we have said in the second hook, before He commenced this excellent work of the world, begat a pure and incorruptible Spirit, whom He called His Son. And although He had afterwards created by Himself innumerable other beings, whom we call angels, this first-begotten, however, was the only one whom He considered worthy of being called by the divine name, as being powerful in His Father's excellence and majesty.  But that there is a Son of the Most High God, who is possessed of the greatest power, is shown not only by the unanimous utterances of the prophets, but also by the declaration of Trismegistus and the predictions of the Sibyls. Hermes, in the book which is entitled The Perfect Word, made use of these words: "The Lord and Creator of all things, whom we have thought right to call God, since He made the second God visible and sensible. But I use the term sensible, not because He Himself perceives (for the question is not whether He Himself perceives), but because He leads25 to perception and to intelligence. Since, therefore, He made Him first, and alone, and one only, He appeared to Him beautiful, and most full of all good things; and He hallowed Him, and altogether loved Him as His own Son."  The Erythraean Sibyl, in the beginning of her poem, which she commenced with the Supreme God, proclaims the Son of God as the leader and commander of all, in these verses:
"The nourisher and creator of all things, who placed the sweet breath in all, and made God the leader of all."
And again, at the end of the same poem:-
                                        "But whom God gave for faithful men to honour."
And another Sibyl enjoins that He ought to be known:-
                                        "Know Him as your God, who is the Son of God."
Assuredly He is the very Son of God, who by that most wise King Solomon, full of divine inspiration, spake these things which we have added:26 "God founded27 me in the beginning of His ways, in His work before the ages. He set me up in the beginning, before He made the earth, and before He established the depths, before the fountains of waters came forth: the Lord begat me before all the hills; He made the regions, and the uninhabitable28 boundaries under the heaven. When He prepared the heaven, I was by Him: and when He separated His own seat, when He made the strong clouds above the winds, and when He strengthened the mountains, and placed them under heaven; when He laid the strong foundations of the earth, I was with Him arranging all things. I was He in whom He delighted:  I was daily delighted, when He rejoiced, the world being completed." But on this account Trismegistus spoke of Him as "the artificer of God," and the Sibyl calls Him "Counsellor," because He is endowed by God the Father with such wisdom and strength, that God employed both His wisdom and hands in the creation of the world.

Chapter ix.-Of the Word of God.
But the Greeks speak of Him as the Logos,60 more befittingly than we do as the word, or speech: for Logos signifies both speech and reason, inasmuch as He is both the voice and the wisdom of God. And of this divine speech not even the philosophers were ignorant, since Zeno represents the Logos as the arranger of the established order of things, and the framer of the universe: whom also He calls Fate, and the necessity of things, and God, and the soul of Jupiter, in accordance with the custom, indeed, by which they are wont to regard Jupiter as God. But the words are no obstacle, since the sentiment is in agreement with the truth. For it is the spirit of God which he named the soul of Jupiter. For Trismegistus, who by some means or other searched into almost all truth, often described the excellence and majesty of the word, as the instance before mentioned declares, in which he acknowledges that there is an ineffable and sacred speech, the relation of which exceeds the measure of man's ability. I have spoken briefly, as I have been able, concerning the first nativity. Now I must more fully discuss the second, since this is the subject most controverted, that we may hold forth the light of understanding to those who desire to know the truth.

<a href="">from The Divine Institutes</a>

Thursday, February 23, 2012

CFP - Conference on Contemporary Esotericism

***Call for Papers***
1st International Conference on Contemporary Esotericism

Deadline for abstracts: March 30, 2012
Submit abstracts to:
Conference website:

Department of History of Religions, Stockholm University, Sweden. August 27-29, 2012

Keynote speakers:
- Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, University of Amsterdam)
- Christopher Partridge (Religious Studies, Lancaster University)
- Kocku von Stuckrad (Study of Religion, Groningen University)
- Jay Johntson (Study of Religion, University of Sydney)

Conference organizers:
- Egil Asprem (Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, University of Amsterdam)
- Kennet Granholm (History of Religions, Stockholm University)

The academic study of Western esotericism has blossomed in recent years, but there is still a major gap in scholarship on esotericism: very little research exists on contemporary phenomena. While some present-day phenomena related to esotericism, such as ‘New Age spiritualities’ and (neo)paganism, have been the focus of scholars in other fields, such developments have been largely neglected in the field of Western esotericism. While most scholarship in the field has had a focus on early modern phenomena and has been predominantly historiographical in its approach, serious attempts to develop sociological approaches to the study of the esoteric/occult have been made in recent years. The fundamental challenge is that the study of contemporary esotericism requires new definitions and methodologies, apart from those developed for the study of Renaissance and early modern esotericism. Studying contemporary phenomena poses intriguing possibilities, such as the opportunity to study esotericism in lived contexts, which unavoidably also introduce new problems.

*Suggested Topics*
The conference has two primary goals: to place contemporary phenomena on the map of esotericism-research, and to explore new theory and methodology required for the study of specifically contemporary phenomena. We thus welcome papers dealing with contemporary and recent developments in “classic” esoteric currents – e.g. within Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, esoteric secret societies, and ritual magic – as well as new esoteric developments of particular relevance today – e.g. Chaos Magick, Satanism, ‘New Age’ religion, (neo)paganism, and broader ‘occultural’ developments. We also strongly encourage papers dealing with theoretical and methodological issues that are particularly pertinent to the study of contemporary esotericism, as well as papers dealing with the societal, cultural, political, religious etc. contexts of esotericism today. The conference should function as an interdisciplinary meeting place where scholars from a multitude of disciplines and with different approaches and perspectives can come together to learn from each other.

* Suggested Thematic Areas *
- Esotericism and Gender
- Hands-on Research: Anthropological and E-Anthropological (online research) Approaches to the Study of Esotericism
- Esotericism, Media, and Popular Culture
- Esotericism and Sociology; including Sociological Approaches to the Study of Esotericism, - Esotericism and Social Change, The Social Grounding of Esotericism

*Additional information*
The conference will function as the launching party for Contemporary Esotericism (Equinox Publishing,, the first volume specifically dedicated to the study of esotericism in the present day. In addition, The conference is arranged in conjunction with the 2012 EASR conference, also arranged in Stockholm, Sweden (at Södertörn University, August 23-26). Panels on esotericism are planned for the EASR as well, thus providing the opportunity to engage in extended discussion on these subjects, and of course lessening travel expenses.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Answer to "what did people call the subconscious in the Renaissance?"

Renaissance people didn't have the concept of the subconscious, but rather a much different psychology. It's difficult to understand, let alone explain, the post medieval, proto-modern theories of mind that they were working with, but you have to start with Aristotle rather than the 19th century psychologists.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Timeline of texts that play an important role in Renaissance Magic

Plato - Timaeus
Aristotle - Metaphysics
Plotinus - Enneads
Iamblichus - On The Mysteries
Proclus - Platonic Theology
Sepher Yetzirah
Pseudo-Dionysius - Celestial Hierarchy
Al Kindi
Maimonides - A Guide to the Perplexed
The Zohar
Abraham Abulafia
Joseph Gikatilla - Gates of Light
Ramon Lull
Marsilio Ficino - Three Books on Life, Platonic Theology
Pico della Mirandola - 900 Conclusions, Oration
Giambattista della Porta - Natural Magic
Johannes Reuchlin - De Verbo Mirifico, De Arte Kabbalistica
Lazarelli - Crater of Hermes
H.C. Agrippa - De Occulta Philosophia
Trithemius - Steganographia
Heinrich Khunrath - Ampitheater
John Dee - Preface to Euclid, [Angelic Conversations]
Michael Maier - Atalanta Fugiens

Friday, January 27, 2012

Call for Abstracts: Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition conference

Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
2012 Conference
July 14-15, Milwaukee, WI USA

Call for Abstracts

Since 2001, the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition (JWMT) has worked to publish diverse perspectives on the occultisms, magical practices, mysticisms and esotericisms commonly known as the “Western Mystery Tradition.” The JWMT is expanding the work of the web journal through its first conference.

The JWMT conference is a two-day event open to scholars, students, practitioners, and the public. The keynote speaker is the Journal’s founder and publisher, Dr. Jeffrey S. Kupperman.

The study of western esoteric practices has risen greatly over the last decade, focusing on Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Modern magical practices and beliefs, outside of the realm of modern Paganisms and the New Age, have received little attention. Further, practitioners have had little opportunity to present their work, either as papers or in the form of ritual practice, outside of the internet or small groups. The focus of this conference is the movement of contemporary western esotericisms, loosely construed as the “western mysteries,” and their transition from the 20th to the 21st century. The Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition Conference 2012 is seeking abstracts for presentations, panels and practices centered on this broad subject.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
Esoteric traditions such as Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Martinism and chivalric organizations,

Ritual magical practices from organizations such as the Golden Dawn and the Aurum Solis and modern initiatory Paganisms,

Esotericisms from earlier periods, such as alchemy, Gnosticism and Neoplatonism, the magical work of John Dee or the medieval grimoire traditions, and their re-emergence and relevancy to modern praxes,

Theoretical, paedogogical, and methodological approaches to the study of the western mysteries,

The relation of the esotericisms to orthodox and mainstream practices and society at large.
We welcome presentations, panels and practices focusing on methodological and theoretical issues in relation to the contemporary study and practice of the various western esoteric currents. The conference encourages an interdisciplinary approach and welcomes perspectives from the disciplines of religious studies, theology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, history, political science, as well as active practitioners. Papers should last 20 minutes, with time for questions and answers. Panels and practices will be scheduled for up to an hour, with time for questions and answers afterwards as necessary.

Please submit abstracts (approx. 200 words), proposals for a themed panel (with three presenters, moderator as necessary, and short description) or proposals for a ritual practice and discussion to Deadline for submissions is April 15, 2012.

No attachments please; copy and paste your abstract or proposal in plain text into the body of the e-mail. Submissions are not limited to academics or professional scholars. Include a brief (no more than one page) CV listing any qualifications, academic or otherwise, relevant to your proposal.

The conference will be held at the Best Western Plus Milwaukee Airport Hotel and Conference Center. More information on the conference, registration, fees, accommodation, etc. is available at

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Call For Papers - Medieval Space and Place

Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies

Special Call For Papers for Issue on Medieval Space and Place


Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies is a refereed
journal devoted to the literature, history, and culture of the medieval
world. Published electronically twice a year, its mission is to present a
forum in which graduate students from around the globe may share their
ideas. Article submissions on the selected theme are welcome in any
discipline and period of Medieval Studies. We are also interested in book
reviews on recent works of interest to a broad audience of Medieval
Studies scholars.

Recently, place and space theories have manifested themselves in Medieval
Studies in a number of ways, from analysis of specific spaces and places,
such as gardens, forests, cities, and the court, to spatially theorized
topics such as travel narratives, nationalism, and the open- or closedness
of specific medieval cultural areas. Over an array of subjects, the
spatial turn challenges scholars to re-think how humans create the world
around them, through both physical and mental processes. Articles should
explore the meaning of space/place in the past by situating it in its
precise historical context.

Possible article topics include, but are not limited to:

Medieval representations of spatial order
The sense of place in the construction of social identities
Mapping and spatial imagination
Topographies of meaningful places
Beyond the binary of center/periphery
Spatial policies of separation: ethnicity, religion, or gender
Travel and the sense of place
Creating landscape
The idea of place in medieval religious culture
Intimate space, public place
Liminality and proximity as social categories

The 2011 issue of Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval
Studies will be published in May of 2012. All graduate students are
welcome to submit their articles and book reviews, or to send their
queries, via email to by March 1, 2012. For further
information please visit our website at

Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Campanella Cutup

On the World and Its Parts
The world is a great and perfect animal,
statue of God, which praises and resembles God:

Immortal Soul
Within a fist of the brain I dwell and I devour
so much that all the books that the world contains
could not satiate my profound appetite.
and the more I understand, the more I do not know.
So I am the image of the immense Father
only he who becomes Him and is born in Him is certain and blessed.

The Way to Philosophize
The world is the book in which the eternal Intellect
wrote His concepts, and a living temple
where, painting the exploits and His own example,
He adorned with living statues the depths and the heights;
so every spirit here should read and contemplate
art and government, so as not to become impious
and be able to say: “I fulfill the universe,
and by contemplating God internalize all things.”

City of the Sun

excerpts from
Selected Philosophical Poems of Tommaso Campanella: A Bilingual Edition
Tommaso Campanella; Edited, Translated, and Annotated by Sherry Roush

images from Google Image

see also Campanella article at SEP