How To Read Alchemical Texts – Adam McLean (2011)

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During my early days on the internet I had an interest in all kinds of things esoteric. I soon found Adam McLean’s Alchemy website which he started in 1995. McLean was mostly known for coloring alchemical drawings that most knew only in black and white. This was but on small part of the alchemical investigations that McLean has undertaken since the 1970’ies (!).

The website still looks pretty much like it used to. An html website with images for navigation. Now I see that the author gives urls on his website in his many books, I get an idea why that never changed.

For many years I forgot about McLean and his website even though I do buy an occasional book about Alchemy. Recently I thought to see what books are available and I noticed that there are several study courses. Some somewhat expensive, but this particular one is well-priced. read more

Acta Macionica volume 28 (6018)

Ars Macionica

The latest edition of Acta Macionica saw the light a couple of months ago, but I do not think I saw any announcements anywhere and it is not listed on the Ars Macionica website yet. When time comes I guess. If you are interested, just send them an email.

For quite a couple of volumes, the Acta is an impressive book. As we got used to, it contains a variety of essays in three languages. Most are in French, several are in Dutch and two in English. Since most are in French and that is not really my language, I fairly rapidly went through the 600+ pages.

There are a couple of very interesting texts, but also texts that are less of my interest. Most notable are the texts of Koenraad Logghe, Jan Snoek and Roger Degol.

Mushrooms, Myth & Mithras – Ruck, Hoffman, Celdrán (2011)

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This book is frequently referred to in “Alchemically Stoned” which is about the entheogenic origins of the symbolism of Freemasonry and which also looks at Mithraic symbols in Freemasonry. The current title is the other way around.

The authors of the present title are of the opinion that experiences with mushrooms and other mind-altering substances form the basis of the mysteries of Mithras. Mithras with his Phrygian hat (red and spotted) is actually a mushroom. The torchbearers stand on one leg for the same reason. Other symbols are looked at from the same perspective. The results are amusing, but seldom really convincing.

The also has large parts which have little to do with entheogens. Some theories about Mithraism are dealt with and, for example, the -to me- fairly credible ideas of Ulansey are debunked quite convincingly. read more

The Trickster And The Thundergod – Maria Kvilhaug (2018)

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Without knowing I bought the companion to, or second part of, The Poetic Edda. In both books Kvilhaug made her own translations of the famous texts. In the previous book “Six Cosmology Poems”, the current title is (obviously) about Loki and Thor.

The texts are from the Gylfaginning, Skaldskaparmál, Haustlöng, Harbarðsljód, Þrimskviða and Þhórsdrápa.

As in the previous book, Kvilhaug translates most names, sometimes her translations in general are different from what you are used to, but what I really appreciate is that in the notes you can often see the reason of the particular translation and often Kvilhaug notes the subtleties of the original words. I would have preferred to keep the Original names and give translations in the notes, but that is just a choice the translator read more

Nightside Of The Runes – Thomas Karlsson (2019)

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Karlsson’s books have the habit of going out of print and becoming very expensive. His first book from 2002 Uthark, Nightside Of The Runes is one such work. The German translation Uthark, Schattenreich der Runen from 2004 is more affordable, but it appears that the author wanted to make the English text available again. This makes the first part of this book.

The second part is Karlsson’s book about Johannes Bureus which has been published in Swedish (2005), German (2007) and Italian (2007). Now finally, this book has been made available for people who do not master these languages. That also means that this is the most extensive information available about Bureus in English.

“Uthark” refers to the theories of Sigurd Agrell (1881-1937) who theorized that there was an exoteric and an esoteric rune row. The first stats with the F-rune, in the second, this F-rune is placed at the end. To this he connected numerological and esoteric explanations that Karlsson finds convincing enough to create a magical handbook based on the system. This has a bit too much of a ‘Flowers-feeling’ to me. read more

Doors Of Valhalla – Vincent Ongkowidjojo (2017)

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I found this book because it has an introduction by Maria Kvilhaug (a title of herself I have yet to read). The author does not have a very Norse-sounding name and yet it did not ring a bell. This is even more strange, because the author seems to live not too far from where I live, just across the Belgian border.

The book is subtitled “an esoteric interpretation of Norse myth” and it is soon clear that this ‘esoteric leaning’ is a Theosophical one. This brings the book in line with The Masks of Odin and Between Wodan and Widar the latter being a more Anthroposophical (and better!) interpretation.

Initially Ongkowidjojo’s book appears to have the flaws of Titchenell’s, being too easy with his sources. He names Frigg a Vane for example and drops names that do not ring a bell and cannot even be found in Simek, even though this is one of the sources.
It is also obvious that the author knows his sources and has an eye for detail. Perhaps for forgets to double check sometimes.
Besides Theosophy there is also a thick layer of psychology in the book and the author uses magical sources such as the books of Aleister Crowley.
read more

Occultism and Traditionalism – Christian Giudice (2016)

gupea.ub.gu.se

A thesis delivered at the department of humanitarian studies at the university of Göteborg. That bound to be one of these preposterously expensive academic publications, right? Well, not this time. The book is available for free as a PDF from the university’s website. Click on the cover.

The book caught my attention because of the subtitle: “Arturo Reghini and the Antimodern Reaction in Early Twentieth-Century Italy”. Reghini (1878-1946) was a Freemason, Traditionalist and is probably best known in the English speaking world for having been acquainted with Julius Evola. In spite of the relative popularity of Evola and the tremendous influence that Reghini supposedly had on the man, it is strange that close to nothing of or about Reghini has been translated to English. Giudice made a firm first step to change that.

Being a thesis, the book has a lot fairly annoying academic style-forms. Pages filled with text for people who probably will not read the entire work. The first quarter of the book is filled with introductions to the subject, about the methodology, etc. Then every chapter is again summarized before it starts and ends with a conclusion (usually another summery). Of course there is a load of notes, references and a lengthy bibliography. read more

Al-Kimia – John Eberly (2004)

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The title and description of the book give an idea that the book does not live up to. The subtitle is: “The Mystical Islamic Essence of the Sacred Art of Alchemy” and the description suggests that the book presents a Traditionalistic approach to shed light on the Islamic history of alchemy. As I said, that is not exactly what the book delivers.

The book is only 136 and already on page 65 the appendices start. Up until then you mostly get biographies of Sufis. All of them undoubtedly had something with alchemy, but Eberly’s book reads more like a book about Sufism (or rather: Sufis) than a book on alchemy. The biographies are mostly just that, they give an idea of the lives of the men, but not too much about their thoughts. This may be interesting in a way, but not what I hoped for.

One appendix is an alchemical recipe, then follows the Emerald Tablet and after that a lengthy glossary of Islamic mystical and alchemical terms. This is actually a nice extra, but I would have preferred it had the book stayed closer to the subject. read more

Alchemically Stoned – P.D. Newman (2018)

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A fun thing about Masonic symbolism is that you can look at it with different approaches. Some see only Christian or Jewish symbolism, others will compare it to the mysteries of Mithras while yet others see Northern mysteries in them. Here we have an author who has found “The Psychedelic Secret of Freemasonry” as the subtitle for this book goes.

The author had extensive experience with entheogens before joining a lodge. Entheogens are psychoactive substances found in plants and fungi. He recognised Masonic symbolism from his previous experiments and wrote this little book (180 pages) about his findings. This leads to some interesting suggestions.

Newman found several kinds of Acacia that contain entheogens giving a new meaning to the symbol of the Acacia in Freemasonry and perhaps even a suggestion as to how “Cassia” later became “Acacia”. 
In a similar vein Newman explains the strange double meaning of the second degree password which feels forced with the normal explanation, but which makes perfect sense from ‘an entheogenic point of view’.  read more

The Nine Doors Of Midgard – Edred Thorsson (2016)

I have mixed feelings about the writings of Stephen Flowers / Edred Thorsson. Often they are wildly interesting. The subjects he finds and the way he works them out. At other times they are mildly interesting. The latter ‘category’ usually includes Thorsson’s ‘system’ and working for his Rune-Gild organisation.

The Nine Doors Of Midgard is a book that you have to work through and report on when you want to join the Rune-Gild. I guessed it would say a lot about the Rune-Gild system, symbolism, etc. and it sure does! The Nine Doors have been revised a couple of times and if I am not mistaken, the 2016 edition is the last one. The “doors” refer to sets of practices and exercises. These often involve meditation and visualization exercises, chanting, runic postures and the like. The book is supposed to form a path to allow the practitioner first to be able to join the organisation (after two or three doors) and later expand his/her magical abilities. The exercises mostly have to be performed for many days, which makes a period of several years to work through the entire book. The Rune-Gild certainly is for people with perseverance only!

As I know from other practical books of Thorsson that I read, his system is not for me. Pretty soon after starting the book, I started to quickly read through the exercises and see if the more theoretical parts would be of more interest. Here and there they are, but also in these parts, Thorsson is often not my kind of thinker. read more