book review: hermes, guide of souls by karl kerenyi

Hermes is connected with the fourth day of the month and the number four, in general. July 4th is a very special day for the West, as it represents the crowning achievement of the Enlightenment and Western thought; the founding of The United States of America. Ideas of democracy have always been connected to the culture of Greece, and the marks of that ancient culture are all over the place in the U.S.A., from the eagle of Zeus atop our flag, the neoclassical architecture of Capitol Hill, and to the murals of Greek and Egyptian ideas in the Library of Congress. 

Chemistry, in the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, by Walter Shirlaw, 1898

I’ve been searching for second year curriculum books in anticipation of our membership launch this coming August, which will lead into first year material in March of 2018 for the foundational elements leading up to Mutational Alchemy material which will be presented in the third year. (Yes, it is that involved.) So, naturally I went out and acquired every book on Hermes possible. It’s so difficult finding the perfect book for the job, in any branch of the Hermetic arts.
       Few books on Hermes himself have been quite as lovely and thoughtfully written as Karl Kerenyi’s Hermes, Guide of Souls. Even though it goes over common material like the Odyssey, Kerenyi reveals himself as a crack researcher who notices every little detail Homer instilled in his masterpiece, and manages to reveal Hermes in a way that few other books are able to. Many, like The Egyptian Hermes by Garth Fowden, are very insightful, yet they miss the essence of Hermes as he interests Hermetic Alchemists. 

Instead of focusing on the obvious, Kerenyi “hacks away the inessentials” to reveal the true Hermes, even touching on the mysterious and sinister titanesque nature of the Prince of Thieves, in his thirst for flesh and blood and devotes an entire chapter to his connection to the night.
   It’s definitely an interesting, worthwhile read, and while I would like to say it is the *best* book on Hermes (who has been experiencing a spike in popularity on Reddit’s Occult sub) I haven’t yet passed through 50% of the Hermes books I’ve been reviewing.  It is much less dry than Garth Fowden’s “The Egyptian Hermes” which is an incredible window into the ancient world of Graeco-Egyptian life and packed with useful information, but might leave many readers yawning throughout some of the more technical bits.
      That being said, both books are worth a peak if you love Hermes already. I’m not sure it’s for every pagan and occultists out there, but it is at least both represent scholarly, careful work.  
      Kerenyi explores the works of many other writers such as the classical philologist Walter Friedrich Otto, who influenced him deeply:

Danger lurks everywhere. Out of the dark
jaws of the night which gape beside the
traveler, any moment a robber may emerge
without warning, or some eerie terror, or the
uneasy ghost of a dead man–who knows what may 
once have happened at that very spot? Perhaps
mischievous apparitions of the fog seek to 
entice him from the right path into the desert
where horror dwells, where wanton witches dance
their rounds which no man ever leaves alive.
Who can protect him, guide him aright, give
him good counsel? The spirit of Night itself,
the genius of its kindliness, its enchantment,
its resourcefulness, and its profound wisdom.
She is indeed the mother of all mystery. The
weary she wraps in slumber, delivers from care,
and she causes dreams to play about their souls.
Her protection is enjoyed by the unhappy and 
persecuted as well as by the cunning, whom
her ambivalent shadows offer a thousand 
devices and contrivances. With her veil she
also shields lovers, and her darkness keeps
ward over all caresses, all charms hidden and
revealed. Music is the true language of her
mystery–the enchanting voice which sounds for
eyes that are closed and in which heaven and
earth, the near and the far, man and nature,
present and past, appear to make themselves
understood.

But the darkness of night which so sweetly
invited to slumber also bestows new vigilance
and illumination upon the spirit. It makes
it more perceptive, more acute, more enter-
prising. Knowledge flares up, or descends like
a shooting star-rare, precious, even magical
knowledge. 

And so night, which can terrify the solitary
man and lead him astray, can also be his friend,
his helper, his counselor.

– Otto, The Homeric Gods

Kerenyi himself was a friend of Carl Jung and a famed mythographer and classicist. The book is 149 pages and was first published in Switzerland in 1944 in the German language. 

Featured Image: The Souls on the Banks of the Acheron by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, 1898

anonymous disclosure & forums worth registering at: rigorous intuition.ca

I’m not sure why occultists are so afraid of conspiracy theories. I think they imagine they might become infected with whatever it is Alex Jone’s followers have if they veer too close. Having observed Alex Jones evolve from his classic Bohemian Grove stakeouts in his early days to the bewildered Trump darling he is today, I can only say that he went where the money is – the dumb and gullible. Not that I don’t think he is presenting plausible theories at times, but certainly that style is not one occultists usually go for. Most of the time they’re trying to avoid remembering the real world exists.

 We always have a good time talking about UFO’s and fringe topics on Abrahadabra Forums, and with AF gone private (at least until our membership launches) some lurkers may have been left floundering about for entertainment until Game of Thrones comes out. For those of you unafraid of a little JFK and ufology you might enjoy the site rigorousintuition.ca.

It’s run by some smart people who have interesting things to say, on some fascinating topics, without all of the heckling and jeering you find on other conspiracy theory forums, an experience, for example, on one forum I won’t mention, (*cough* godlikeproductions *cough*) that is a bit like sifting through pebbles of dried dogshit to find good topics wrapped in wet garbage.

I found myself spending a good three hours there happily sifting through topics and outside links, something I rarely find myself doing on any occult forum these days, unless I’m trying to dig something up in the AF archives.

As I said before, I am still not sure why some occultists shun conspiracy theories, but one certainly doesn’t have to entertain any of the speculative stories on the forum as reality. It is a spooky world, however, and tales of what might be going on in the halls of the Kremlin or in underground ritual palaces are often just as entertaining as the latest Mothman sighting or Sigil technique. 

It also seems to me that occultists have begun to grow up a little bit, philosophically and politically. The scars of Salem burn into our subconscious a fear of the irrationality of the Trump administration. “In Democracy, you have to be a player” said Hunter S. Thompson. If occultists don’t wish to read the Washington Post, at least they can pick up a few useful things from this forum while sifting through Kubrickian pedophile governments and Even More JFK assassination theories. 

Enjoy posts such as:

“French judge goes on rampage with Masonic sword

“Wolf Chases Man on Motorcycle in Canada

Modern Art is a CIA Weapon

 

And so on…

 

Image Credit: Beauty by Sweetbananadreams

 

space marines about to become an actual thing, apparently…


Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers has introduced a solution to our military’s sluggish responsiveness to space exploration, colonization and defense matters: the Space Corp. The Space Corp would be a division born out of the Air Force to eventually become its own branch of the military, exactly the way the Air Force emerged from the Air Force Corp limb of the U.S. Army. 

Although it is just in the planning phase at this point, kudos to Congressman Rogers for addressing this massively critical issue when it seems nearly all branches of government have turned a blind eye to our lack of efficacy in space. NASA itself is outdated and has been due for a complete overhaul over three decades.

A hearing titled, “Reopening the American Frontier: Promoting Partnerships Between Commercial Space and the U.S. Government to Advance Exploration and Settlement” will be held after the July 4th recess in Washington D.C., lead by Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Space-X, Relativity, Nanoracks and NASA will have representatives present.

“In 1962, President John F. Kennedy laid down a marker for space exploration that inspired a generation of Americans to reach for the stars, recognizing that the race to the heavens was nothing less than a crucial front in the battle between freedom and tyranny,” Cruz said, and “We should once again lead the way for the world in space exploration”

Senator Cruz has more recently been on a campaign intending fix the problem of suppression of free speech on campuses across the country. (I couldn’t find any reason to disagree with the man myself. People make fun of Ted Cruz all the time in some very funny and clever ways but he’s actually well-spoken and thoughtful, and doesn’t take himself waaay too seriously like some members of the administration. Plus his family dresses up for Samhain.) It will be interesting to see how he positions himself regarding critical space exploration issues after independence day. 

 

lapel pin design and membership update

We’re still working on memberships. Me, Catalytic Subterfuge and MythMath are hashing out launch details. New members will have to undergo a six month probation before training starts – so expect that curriculum packets and books to be available in December. Depending on the factory membership packets may be available as soon as the end of July.  

      Here’s our lapel pin design!

occult space people: “rocket rider’s prayer” from free fall & other delights

by Steve Savitsky
Cecilia Eng (vocals, guitar)
Kristoph Klover (vocals)
Ernie Mansfield (bass, clarinet)

I’ve been working every hour of the day on the membership launch which requires much musical fuel and Eve Online in the background. I ran across this little ditty in the midst of a few dozen space shanties and figured the pagans in the crowd would enjoy it. I still can’t understand why the pagans in the community aren’t excited by space. Too close to the gods perhaps? I dunno. 

Finity’s End and Other Songs of the Station Trade
Off-Centaur Press – 1985 – OCP-45
Out of Print – Company Defunct
Producer: Teri Lee
Sr. Engineer: Jeff Rogers
Engineers: Teri Lee, Scott Prather

“It is not piracy. It is salvage.” –Filk Zombie

Over half the ships in Eve online, a space simulation, sport Occult and Pagan names. This is the way forward for humanity, have some fun while you’re sucked into the future, it’s going to happen no matter what anyone wants. I just can’t imagine teaching people about Mutational Alchemy without also knowing they are on board with the whole Man-in-space thing. Sorry if that sounds restrictive or annoying or anything, it’s just the way it is.