I recently gave an interview for the Podcast Healing From Within with Tony Valen, and it is now available for your listening pleasure. :)
I had a wonderful time discussing the Golden Dawn, Hermeticism, Spiritual Alchemy and much more. The guys who run this show are wonderful and I had a blast talking with them. They had never heard of the Golden Dawn before, so this was my chance to explain what the GD is all about, what we do, where we came from, etc.
I also talk a little about the grimoires toward the end, and even talk some about Ochani Lele and his influence on me. :) Starts at about 29:00.
You can listen to it now:
Healing From Within – Aaron Leitch Interview
UPDATE: I just learned that this episode had 682 total listeners – which is a record for the Healing From Within show. Awesome! :)
To All in the Western Mystery Tradition,
A shinning star of the modern occult movement has faded away. :( Donald Michael Kraig not only changed my life with his book Modern Magick, he changed the face of the entire occult community. Whether you are a Pagan, a Ceremonialist or both, whether or not you’ve read his work, you or someone you know has been affected by his work. Most occult authors – any authors, really – only dream of having that kind of impact!
And, you know what? The man accomplished his life’s work without ever resorting to politics or hostility. No matter who you are or what tradition you follow, you knew Don Kraig had your back. That’s a significant achievement for anyone in any field!
Donald Michael Kraig
August 17, 1951 – March 17, 2014
We Love You, Don!
My occult career didn’t truly begin until a friend handed me a copy of ‘Modern Magick’, and I decided to follow Don’s course. A couple of decades later, it all came full circle when Don and I both hosted workshops at the same festival. (It was Green Song Grove, right here in Florida, in fact.) I got to attend his workshop, and he attended mine. :) :) :)
Godspeed, Frater! You have left a legacy and achieved immortality. Great Work!
If you are one of #DonsKids, use the hashtag! :) And, please, continue to donate to the fund raiser. Let’s make sure Holly is taken care of through this difficult time!
I’ll be making two lecture appearances this fall – and the first will be this Saturday at GreenSong Grove’s Samhain Festival. Make sure to click the link to register! Or you can write to them at Council@greensonggrove.org. Or give them a call at (727) 804-9370.
This year, I’ll be giving two lectures:
1) Secrets of the Girmoires:
Explore the history of the “Old Magick”, from anceint shamanic traditions, to the medieval Solomonic grimoires and into the modern occult revival. The Old Magick – a line separate from the Golden Dawn, Thelema and much of the modern Neopagan movement – has been a lost art in the West for hundreds of years. But now it’s coming back, and this lecture will explore how it got from its primordial origins to those of us following the same path today.
We will cover topics associated with famous grimoires such as the Key of Solomon the King, the Goetia, the Heptameron and the Book of Abramelin. We will disucss related systems of folk magick such as Witchcraft, Hexcraft and Hoodoo – as well as various African Traditional Religions. We will talk about the people and places that gave rise to the Solomonic grimoires, and we will talk about how the Old Magick is enjoying a massive resurgance in today’s occult communities.
Bring your thoughts, as this will be an open discussion!
2) The Old Magick in Today’s World (or ‘How to Make Your Magick Really Kick!’):
The term “Old Magick” is a blanket term to describe ancient and indigenous forms of occultism and folk magick around the world. Many cultures, such as those in the East, the Mid-East, Africa and South America preserved their old folk traditions even after Christiainity moved in. But here in the West, we lost touch with the Old Magick sometime around the Age of Enlightenment.
But the Old Magick isn’t gone from the West! It has survived in writings on tablets and parchment and early books. It has continued in New World folk practices like Hexcraft and Hoodoo. And it is currently enjoying a revival in today’s movements of Solomonic practice, conjuring, sorcery, etc.
Most students of magick are well versed in the material descended from the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner. But it has become more important than ever for us to look beyond these uniquely modern forms of occultism and revisit what the ancients knew. This class will talk about some aspects of the Old Magick that are sorely lacking in most modern traditions, and how we can incorporate the ancient secrets into what we are doing today. Take this class to heart, and watch your magickal results increase significantly!
At the moment I am unsure what times these lectures will be held, but they will both be given this Saturday, October 12. Come on out and enjoy a day of Samhain fun, and we can have a chat! :)
Stay tuned for the announcement of my next appearance (at Florida Pagan Gathering), in just a couple of weeks!
Greetings, Faithful Readers!
Since I got caught up in the blogosphere, I’m afraid I’ve been sorely neglecting my old Writings webpage. (How old is it, you ask? Check the link below and you’ll see the URL is called “indexaol.html” – because it was originally my old AOL homepage! LOL Now it’s on Tripod, where it has been for what seems like eons…) That is where you can read most of my published essays and book reviews, listen to/read my interviews, find links to my books, etc.
Today, I finally took the time to do a massive update to the page – bringing the list of published material pretty much up to date. I think I included everything that has been lacking – but if you know of anything I’ve missed, please don’t hesitate to let me know!
Greetings, history buffs!
Nick Farrell just posted a blog about a rare painting of Edward Kelley that recently sold at auction in the UK (pictured above). I had mentioned this on Facebook back when it was first sold, but didn’t bother to blog about it. The reason I’m doing so now is because of the fascinating discussion that Nick’s post has generated about Kelley’s actual appearance (and to some extent his personality).
As Nick points out, the above painting was certainly made long after Kelley’s time, and was at least partially based on the woodcut of Kelley created for Meric Casaubon’s True and Faithful Relation… (see below). That, too, was made decades after Kelley’s death and based entirely on how the artist thought Kelley might have appeared. (Specifically fitting his – likely erroneous – reputation as a rogue and con-man.) Yet there are some differences between that woodcut and the above painting that suggest there might have been some “local knowledge” at work in the creation of the later image. Note that the painting shows him older, dignified and even on the heavy side – while the below engraving shows him gaunt, with a shorter scraggly beard and shifty eyes.
Probably not what Kelley looked like
What really inspired me about this subject was a reply on Nick’s post by Vincent Bridges, where he quotes from his own work An Alchemical Enigma: A Short History of the Rise and Fall of Sir Edward Kelley. It’s just three short paragraphs, but they contain more insight into what Edward Kelley really looked like – and something about his personality as well – than I have ever read anywhere before. In fact, it is so fascinating I’m going to reproduce the comment here. Enjoy!
For example, we have no clear idea what he even looked like; the only portrait was done from “reputation” a good 60 years after his death by the Dutch engraver Franz Cleyn. It shows a gaunt, long-faced, bearded man, wearing a fur-trimmed cloak and a four-cornered hat like a cleric’s biretta. However, this image is at odds with the few details we do have from contemporary sources. An English visitor in the fall of 1593 commented that he was “fat and merry” and another noted that he was a “weighty” man. He walked with a stick, notoriously mentioned by Dr. Dee in his account of Kelley’s altercation with one of Laski’s guards on the morning of his first visit with the Emperor. In the angelic sessions, his difficulty in kneeling is mentioned, and most revealing of all is the Papal Nuncio’s characterization in 1586 of Kelley as Dee’s hunch backed, “il zoppo,” companion.
And then there is the question of his ears, or lack of them. Simon Tadeas Budeck, a Czech alchemist and occult tattletale, of whom we will hear more, describes Kelley as “having no ears.” Budeck however did not know Kelley, his manuscript comments are from 1604, and so are somewhat unreliable, though it seems his report is partly correct. The best documented evidence is from a letter, dated in Prague, 20 July 1593, in which an Englishman named Christopher Parkins reports being interrogated about Kelley by one of Rudolf’s councilors. Among the questions put to Parkins was “if I could give any account of the diminishing of one of his ears, or of his good or evil behaviour in England.” Parkins knew Kelley, he is the source of the fat and merry comment; therefore it seems likely that Kelley had had just one ear notched. The alchemist Budeck also describes him as being “long-haired,” perhaps to conceal the disfigurement.
If we see Kelley as a long-haired, bearded, heavy-set man, with a sense of humor and a taste for the good things in life, and with a bent or twisted back that required a stick for support, it helps not only to humanize the legend, but perhaps also provides a few clues to his personality. This of course does not take away from Kelley’s predilection for violence, his hysterical rants, or his talent for insulting people. But it is very different from the Faustian, demonic deluder of legend. Yet, this aura of unpleasantness makes his success even harder to understand. What was it about him that held so many in his spell?
Notice how this new vision of Kelley as a “weighty” man better matches the painting of Kelley? It is quite possible the artist was drawing on these descriptions of Kelley while also taking the woodcut into consideration.
Greetings, Dear Readers!
The Four Philosophical Elements
Most of you are likely familiar with the four Elements and their association with the four cardinal points of the compass. The usual pattern in most modern traditions places Air in the east, Fire in the south, Water in the west and Earth in the north – an arrangement often attributed to the “four winds” of the earth-plane. A more stellar arrangement (based on astrology) places Fire in the east, Earth in the south, Air in the west and Water in the North. (See later in this post for more on that.)
I just had Ravin Digitalis ask me if I was aware of any tradition that assigns Air to the north and Earth to the east – and if such a tradition could be traced back to 5000 BCE. In my response, I cover many different associations of Elements to directions and where they (or where they likely) came from. I think you might find it interesting:
To my knowledge, there are no systems of correspondences of Elements to directions that go back to 5000 BCE. The earliest such correspondences could have arisen would have been in cultures that developed astrology – likely going back no further than Babylon. Not even Egypt had such correspondences that I know of – though they did have the four Sons of Horus as the pillars of the four directions (associated with the arms and legs of Nut), I’ve never seen any Egyptian text that associates them directly with four Elements.
From astrology we have Fire in the East (Aries), Earth in the South (Capricorn), Air in the West (Libra) and Water in the North (Cancer) – an arrangement that still existed when Agrippa wrote his work (see Three Books of Occult Philosophy – Scale of the Number Four). Another, perhaps sidereal, version would use the fixed signs: Leo in the East, Taurus in the South, Aquarius in the West and Scorpius in the North.
I’ve never found anything definitive on where the Air in the East arrangement – common in the Golden Dawn, Thelema and thus Wicca – came from. However, the GD was very into Ezekiel’s vision – which shows God’s Throne supported by the four Kherubs whose faces are Man (Aquarius) in the front, Eagle (Scorpius) behind, Lion (Leo) to the right and Bull (Taurus) to the left. If you face the Throne Eastward, and assume that “right” and “left” are from the perspective of the Throne itself, that gives the usual arrangement of Elements to the directions: Air-East, Water-West, Fire-South, Earth-North.
However, there is some ambiguity here. In Ezekiel’s vision (approximately 600 BCE), the Throne is not facing the East – he describes it as coming out of the North and facing/moving Southward. That would put the Man (Air) facing South and the Eagle (Water) facing North. If we still assume Ezekiel’s mention of “right” and “left” are from the perspective of the Throne, that would put the Lion (Fire) facing the West and the Ox (Bull) facing East. That would give you Earth in the East, but not Air in the North.
BUT – if we assume Ezekiel was referring to his *own* right and left, the two Kherubs would be reversed so the Lion would face East and the Bull would face West. But that doesn’t give you Air in the North or Earth in the East…
The only other example I know of (off the top of my head at least) is from the Key of Solomon, where directions are given for the construction of a magick carpet. There, one is told that Michael (Fire) is in the East, Raphael (Air) is in the North, Gabriel (Water) is in the West and Muriel (Earth) is in the South. This one gives you Air in the North, but not Earth in the East. lol
So I don’t see any traditional source for the arrangement [you mention] – and sure as hell nothing going back as far as 5000 BCE! lol Good luck!
If anyone knows of other associations and their origins, feel free to reply below and share with us. :)
UPDATE: Looks like Alex Sumner can tell us where the Golden Dawn got its “Four Winds” (aka Seasonal) attribution of the Elements to their directions. In the same blog, he reveals something fascinating: the “ADNI Formula” (as opposed to the better-known “YHVH Formula”). Awesome!