A kind of prophet of the imagination, Michael Parkes fills his paintings with beasts and landscapes that, like dreams, seem too real to be fantasy, and too fantastical to be real. In his worlds, one can find the most intense conversations happening on tightropes and ledges, in skyscapes that hearken to the artistic styles of Maxfield Parrish and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Here, pompous gnomes with pointed shoes watch over tiptoeing dancers, while eyeless jesters strum silent melodies on violins. Each artwork is an adventure; each figure a wormhole into an ocean of chimeric secrets. Continue reading
Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic exhibits a soft spot I have for magick: the academic approach. This Ph.D. paper by Stephen Skinner is the latest of the his many works on the Western esoteric tradition, in addition to many books on feng shui. His clear grasp on the historical data and his academic lens make this paper-turned-book a highly educational though sometimes mundane read. There is no fluff here — just facts, charts, and the occasional historical backtracking. Yet, Skinner’s painstaking translation, organization, and interpretation bring to light many long-standing traditions’ origins in the magick of Late Antiquity. Skinner describes a snapshot in time when magick held reverence as part of a tradition tied to the mystery cults and religions of the day. Continue reading
During my thesis year of college, I was completely and utterly stuck. After three years in art school, working within the bounds of assignments, all I wanted was to let loose and create what I wanted. But I had no idea what that was; I kept reaching into my idea-place and pulling out nothing. This thesis needed to be perfect, a representation of myself as a person and an artist, so I had to figure out what made me tick, and fast. The thing is, I had some repressed, unresolved trauma. And when you put someone like that in a room by themselves for a month and tell them to think about themselves, interesting things happen.
Little flashes came to me — thoughts, memories, emotions — but nothing I could use, because I couldn’t explain what I was thinking or why I felt the way I did. At that point I just needed a thesis topic, and during a desperate search for ideas I suddenly felt a presence near me, followed by the sensation of hands resting gently on my shoulders. I felt a message then, in the back of my mind. “Spring is here. It’s time to leave.” Over the next few days, I was bombarded with pomegranate imagery. I took it as a sign. Continue reading
What comes to mind when you hear the word necromancy? Do you think of ghoulishly gruesome grave robbing under the light of the full moon? Do you picture only sinister sorts enslaving the deceased and making them do their bidding? Well if so, then you only know of the sordid past of the ancient practice known as necromancy. But what of this arcane art in these modern times? Do people still revere and utilize the death current in occult operations? They most certainly do. While necromancy does indeed have roots in many ancient cultures, this sector of the occult sciences is far from dead. Continue reading
The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets: Tradition and Craft, by Claude Lecouteux
Inner Traditions, 264 pp. (incl. appendices, notes, bibliography, and index), 2014
The first part of The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets goes into the traditions related to amulets and the natural magic thereof, and also examines the tension between established Christianity and the long-standing tradition of magick, especially of the apotropaic (evil averting) sort. One is strongly reminded of the generations of priestly execrations of goddess worship in the Bible, which similarly told us how long the practices persisted, and some details of them which we would not otherwise have had.
The priests inveighing against these charms were particularly intent on discouraging the use of magical characters (alphabetic or sigilic writing that conveys spiritual power). They sometimes waxed poetic: “The demon slithers in the characters like the serpent beneath the flowers.” This ties nicely into his statement that “the unknown always inspires the Church with fear.”
Lecouteux summarizes part of this history thus: “Implicit in the background are notions of natural, licit magic and illicit black magic,” ((p. 30)) after giving one of many examples of a churchman condemning the talismanic art as being an implicit pact with a demon, a pattern which, as he points out, is “commonly repeated throughout the sixteenth century.” What this means to me is that the Faustian current which arose in early modern magick didn’t just appear without help. Apparently, it is as possible to call an egregore into being by constant execration as by constant evocation! Continue reading
The Theban Oracle, by Greg Jenkins, PhD
Weiser Books, 978-1-57863-549-8, 237 pp, (incl. appendix and bibliography), 2014
There are effectively three books within The Theban Oracle: an introduction to what the author calls “Medieval Metaphysics,” including the few references to the Theban alphabet; a method for divination using the alphabet and correspondences created by the author, which requires the reader to make a casting set using the instructions included; and examples of spell-casting with the support of the Theban letters. Continue reading