Tag Archives: hermeticism

Chemical Serpents, by Anton Channing

By Freeman Presson | April 29, 2014 | 1 comment

Chemical Serpents, by Anton Channing
Chemical Serpents, by Anton ChanningChemical Serpents: The Symbols of Illumination, by Anton Channing, illustrations by Janice Duke
When Illuminated Press, 978-1-909279-01-8, 100 pp. (incl. appendix, bibliography), 2013, Silver First Edition

I started falling in love with this book as it came out of the packaging. It’s tight, and has good, heavy cover stock and glossy high-quality pages. The cover art (an interpretation of Baphomet within an ouroboros) is a feast for the eyes and mind. The notebook-sized format, 8.5 x 11″, gives plenty of room for the text and lavish illustrations throughout its 100 pages. The print is done with accent colours, which takes a little acclimatization, rather like one’s first time playing poker with four-colour cards, but then the effect is pleasing.

The plan of the book is Pythagorean, in the sense that it starts with serpent symbolism, including the ouroboros, as the one, moves into egg-and-serpent and other generative symbols for the dyad, then has sections on the trinity, the four elements of the manifest world, then the pentagram, hexagram, and heptagram in the section on the microcosm and macrocosm before synthesizing in the long chapter on world trees, and ending in a Gnostic lecture on illumination. Continue reading


The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 33

By Freeman Presson | November 20, 2013 | 2 comments

The Witches' Almanac, issue 33The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 33 Spring 2014-2015: The Mystic Earth, edited by Andrew Theitic
The Witches’ Almanac Ltd., 9780982432396, 208 pp. (Incl. letters, ads), 2013

Reading The Witches’ Almanac is like going to a favourite restaurant and ordering all of the appetizers and two desserts for dinner: you get a dazzling array of different tastes, but with no single dish too filling.

The Almanac has been steadily growing over the years. Early issues were 90 or so pages, stapled in soft card covers like the typical Farmer’s Almanac; recently it has graduated to a typical trade paperback: 9×6-inch, 208 pages, perfect-bound, glossy cover. This helps make their front-cover motto, “Ever a Keepsake,” realizable.

This year’s theme is “Mystic Earth,” returning to the theme of no. 30, though this time from a different angle. Unfortunately the cover art, with the Earth seen from space in a palette of greens, blues, deep-space black, and incongruous cream text-box backgrounds, ranks as the least-appealing in a long time, although I like the idea of doing something modern occasionally.

Inside you’ll find 65 articles with a good mix of folklore, practical advice, and esoterica. “A Witch’s Garden” looks at planning and planting an herb garden in a reverent and inspiring way. Several short features on herb lore and other earthy topics from respected Druid Ellen Everett Hopman carry the theme into the rest of the book. The closest thing to a single article that matches the theme, though, is Jimahl di Fiosa’s “The Magic of Camping,” which, like the one above, is full of hints for doing this common activity mindfully and reverently, as well as in a safe and organized manner. He’s not Pollyanna about his topic though, in the last paragraph he advises, “If it all goes terribly wrong, then at least you can say you’ve tried it.” Continue reading


Real Alchemy, by Robert Allen Bartlett

By Psyche | July 10, 2009 | 2 comments

Real Alchemy: A Primer of Practical Alchemy, by Robert Allen Bartlett
Ibis Press, 9780892541508, 178 pp. (incl. appendices and bibliography), 2009

“…alchemy is not a smooth monolithic system, but rather a journey full of contradictions, false turns and dazzling insights into the worlds of creation.  At times it seems to defy a single definition. But, in its most general, all-encompassing form, we can say with some degree of confidence that alchemy is the art and science of bringing something to its final perfection.”

– Brian Cotnoir, from the first Preface

To most people, alchemy conjours images of ancient bearded men in dimly lit rooms hovering over various malodourous substances connected by an arcane network of tubes, beakers bubbling away, struggling in earnest to produce gold from lead. Those more familiar with Jung’s work might imagine that all this fancy is well and good, but, of course, it’s all allegorical, beneath which is philosophy deeply concerned with transforming the alchemist hirself. Bartlett argues that, for modern alchemists, there’s truth to both images. Continue reading


Green Hermeticism, by Peter Lamborn Wilson, Christopher Bamford and Kevin Townley

By Psyche | January 31, 2008 | 2 comments

Green Hermeticism: Alchemy and Ecology, by Peter Lamborn Wilson, Christopher Bamford and Kevin Townley
Lindisfarne Books, 9781584200499, anti-copyright 2007

In 2003 Peter Lamborn Wilson gave a lecture titled “The Sacred Theory of the Earth” at a conference held in New Paltz, New York. This talk inspired a series of lectures and the coining of a new term “Green Hermeticism.”

The lecture given at the first conference became the first chapter of the present work, “The Disciples at Sais: A Sacred Theory of Earth.” Here he discusses the work of Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg), an early Germanic Romantic poet and philosopher, and contextualises him in terms of defining a new spiritual ecology linked to alchemy and hermeticism.

In “One the All,” editor in chief of SteinerBooks and Lindisfarne Books, Christopher Bamford, discusses creation myths, though I found his overview of alchemy more enlightening. He writes: Continue reading