Category Archives: Esotericism

The nine worlds in nordic mythology

I remember yet the giants of yore
Who gave me bread; in the days gone by
Nine worlds I knew, the nine in the Tree
With mighty roots beneath the mold.
(Völuspa 2, translated by Ari Óðinssen)

This is the second verse from the Poetic Edda. “Nine worlds I knew, nine in the Tree”. The nine worlds come back in Northern mythology more often, such as in Alvíssmál 9 in which the dwarf Alvis says: “All the nine worlds I have travelled over” and also Vafthrudnir has travelled to nine worlds (VafÞrúðnismál 43). Because the concept is rather vague, it has been open to speculation what exactly these nine worlds are. Óðinssen writes in a note to the quoted verse: read more

The Balder play

The beginning of this tale is, that Balder dreamed dreams great and dangerous to his life. When he told these dreams to the asas they took counsel together, and it was decided that they should seek peace for Balder against all kinds of harm. So Frigg exacted an oath from fire, water, iron and all kinds of metal, stones, earth, trees, sicknesses, beasts and birds and creeping things, that they should not hurt Balder. When this was done and made known, it became the pastime of Balder and the asas that he should stand up at their meetings while some of them should shoot at him, others should hew at him, while others should throw stones at him; but no matter what they did, no harm came to him, and this seemed to all a great honor.
Gylfaginning 49, Rasmus Anderson translation read more

Cubic stones from the sky

Johannes Bureus (1568-1652) (about him and his system more in other articles) said that his “15 adalrunor [“noble runes”] [were] inscribed on a cubical stone which fell from the heavens as a sign of the powerfull divinity on the mediator between God and Man.” (Flowers 1998, p. 12). For Bureus, runes formed the most ancient, original and divine language and the many runestones that can be found in Bureus’ country (Sweden) were mediators between the world of men and the upper world. The fact that Bureus ‘chose’ a cubic stone that fell from the sky is interesting. read more

(Runic) magical formulae

I had never really looked at the subject of runic inscriptions, let alone magical runic inscriptions. Once I read a nice article on the Dutch website Ingwaz.nl about the magical words “Alu” and Laukaz” in runic inscriptions, my interest was caught by the inscription on a bone-amulet found in Lindholm, Sweden (see image above this article):

ek erilaz sa wilagaz hateka : aaaaaaaazzznn(n?)bmuttt : alu :

Similar inscriptions were found, such as “kk. kiiii. kkk” on the Ellestad stone, “ltlsssiiikutramsstltttll” (Nore stave church, Norway), “laþu aaduaaaliia alu” (Funen bracteate), or “þmkiiissstttiiilll” which can be read on both the Ledberg and the Gorlev stone. It is funny to read what interpretations can be given to these lines of runes. read more

The philosophical Renaissance in Italy

What we usually hear about the Renaissance is that it was a period in history that came after the Middle Ages with a growing economy, early investigations of the universe and an upliving (“rebirth”) of the classical antiquitiy in art and literature. The invention of bookprinting also resulted in a much faster spreading of new ideas to a wider audience. About these ideas many people don’t know much though.
In academic circles there have been available writings of or about for example Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) or Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), but it was mainly Frances Amelia Yates (1890-1981) who also wrote for a larger audience. Subjects of Yates include the early Christian Cabala, the Hermetic tradition, the named thinkers or “the occult philosophy in the Elizabethan age”. Later also writers such as Michael Baigent (1948-) and Richard Leigh (1943-2007) picked up such subjects, but they had a much more populistic approach. Because more and more texts, translations and information becomes available about this very interesting part of our history which seems to be coming after a still growing interest in Hermetism, Gnosticism and alchemy of recent times, I thought it would be a good idea to make you acquainted with the philosophical Renaissance. It began in Italy and reached the rest of Europe via Hungary. In this article I will focus on Italy, because there is enough to tell about that. The rest of Europe will come in a separate article. read more

The occult Renaissance

a word of advice: you may want to read my article about “the philosophical renaissance in italy” first to put things in a wider perspective and for background information.

In my article “The Philosophical Renaissance In Italy” I have written about the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy focussing on the philosophical side. In this article I will leave Italy and since especially in other countries there came a more esoteric side, I will speak some more about that. In the mentioned article I told about the humanist tradition as starting-point for Renaissance-thinking. Ironically enough, humanism outside Italy has brought forth two very opposital movements. One is the more occult movement, the other led to the reformation and the coming up of Protestantism. Initially the two weren’t too hostile towards each other, but later there came friction and when the Catholics started to win back territory (the so-called counter-reformation) occultism was completely not-done. I will leave the reformation for what it is and go to the second offspring of humanism here, but of course the two can’t be taken apart entirely. read more

Steganographia vs Theurgia/Goetia

In my article about Angel Magic I very shortly compared the Steganographia of Trithemius with the second book of the Lemegeton: Theurgia/Goetia (T/G). In this article I will make a slightly closer investigation of the differences and the similarities of the two writings. For this purpose I used the Latin Steganographia and the English T/G from Esotericarchives.com and the translation of the T/G by S.L. MacGregor Mathers that can be found online on several pages. Later I also checked the English translation of the Steganographia by Adam McLean (it is still available, but very expensive, so I went to the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica to see it). read more

The Monas Hieroglyphica of John Dee (1527-1608)

However the best-known work of Dee, his Monas Hieroglypica is by far his most mysterious and difficult one. Other writings are accounts of his conversations with angels, the Monas was written through direct inspiration by God in a trance-like state. In a preface and 24 ‘theorems’ Dee wants to “revolutionize astronomy, alchemy, mathematics, linguistics, mechanics, music, optics, magic, and adeptship” to quote Joe Peterson in the short intro of his online version of the text.

Dee starts to explain that the circle and the line are the first forms in creation and therefor come back in the hieroglyph. The point in the circle is the earth and the circle the sun (a circle with a point is also the Egyptian symbol for the sun), the crescent is of course the moon and adds to the idea of the sun. Together they are day and night, the first day of creation even. read more

“The stanzas of dzyan” and “the sifra di-tseniutha”

“There can be little doubt in my opinion that the famous stanzas of the mysterious Book Dzyan on which Mme. H.P. Blavatsky’s magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, is based owe something, both in title and content, to the pompous pages of the Zoharic writing called Sifra Di-Tseniutha. The first to advance this theory, without further proof, was L.A. Bosman, a Jewish Theosophist, in his booklet The Mysteries of the Qabalah (1916) p. 31. This seems to me, indeed, the true ‘etymology’ of the hitherto unexplained title. Mme Blavatsky has drawn heavily upon Knorr von Rosenroth’s Kabbala Denudata (1677-1684), which contains (vol. II, pp. 347-385) a Latin translation of the Sifra Di-Tseniutha. The solemn and magniloquent style of these pages may well have impressed her susceptible mind. As a matter of fact, H.P.B. herself alludes to such a connection between the two ‘books’ in the very first lines of Isis Unveiled (vol. I, p. 1) where she still refrains from mentioning the Book Dzyan by name. But the transcription used by her for the Aramaic title shows clearly what she had in mind. She says: “There exists somewhere in this wide world an old Book… It is the only copy now in existence. The most ancient Hebrew document on occult learning-the Siphra Dzeniuta-was compiled from it.” The Book Dzyan is therefore nothing but an occultistic hypostasy of the Zoharic title. This ‘bibliographical’ connection between fundamental writings of modern and Jewish theosophy seems remarkable enough.” read more

Edda & Hermetica

For a long time I have wanted to read the myths of the North, but it was only until recently that I got so far. As you may have noticed in the book reviews section, I have gotten myself the poetic Edda and some other famous sagas. Also do I have one of these cheap-bookshop-books about Viking mythology. When I read the short version of the Viking tale of creation, I was struck by the likeness it has with some of the Hermetic creation-myths that I gave in my “Hermetic concepts” article. I couldn’t place the information of John Grant’s little book in my own library though. A quick investigation proved that most of the Northern mythology that we know comes from the so-called prose-Edda, also younger Edda (and the poetic Edda the older Edda) or Snorre/Snorra-Edda. This prose-Edda is the famous work of the Icelander Snorri Sturluson (1178-1241) with much more information than the later compiled (!) poetic Edda. For some reason this more important Edda is not available in my native language, BUT, I found two translations in English on the internet (see bottom of article) in order to make me able to make the correct references. read more