The king is dead, long live the king: the demise and future of a Hermetic Discord community

The king is dead, long live the king: the demise and future of a Hermetic Discord community

Man, what a post to break a stretch of quiet around here.

No software engineer likes their name to be associated with buggy code, no civil engineer a collapsed bridge, no architect an imploded building, no mechanical engineer an exploded car.  To say that I am frustrated and dismayed would be an understatement, then, given the recent collapse of the Hermetic Agora (HA) Discord server that I have spent over a year promoting, building up a fantastic international community of over 1000 members, and in general trying to establish one of the most solid, respectful, and learned places to discuss Hermeticism and esotericism online.  And it all came crashing down today due to the actions of the server owner who wanted to nurse his injured ego over a damned politicized cartoon frog rather than continue that same work.

Here’s the TL;DR: the old server owner DanKadmos (who is was also the owner of a number of subreddits associated with Hermeticism or esotericism, but has since abandoned ship and deleted his Reddit account) decided to throw a temper-tantrum over having a Pepe the Frog emoji removed from the server emoji list while he was offline, a decision I made as an admin backed up by the rest of the other six mods, because it was requested that we stop using it due to this cartoon frog’s unfortunate politicization and appropriation by far-right, alt-right, Neonazi, or white supremacist groups to the point where even John Michael Greer wrote about it and its play in (ostensibly) getting Trump elected as the 45th president of the United States of America (it was a whole thing).  The server owner decided to throw a hissy-fit in the public chat and mocked the server member who raised the issue to the modteam.  The rest of the modteam called the server owner out on it, and we collectively tried our best to get DanKadmos to realize the problem he was causing and the hurt he was inflicting; after writing a thoughtful reply to the situation addressing him, he decided to double down in all sorts of deeply unfortunate ways.  After making further replies, the whole of the modteam trying to give him every reasonable accommodation and chance to make things right, he told us all, effectively, to get bent, and that if an exodus happens, the server would go down with him.

Seeing the cracks in the foundation, while DanKadmos was losing his shit, several of the mods messaged each other, and we collectively agreed to make a set of contingency plans: send Discord friend requests to as many people as we could to maintain connections should the server go down, make a backup Discord server to migrate to should we need to, and take backups of all non-casual discussion channel messages.  I spent a good few hours taking care of all these things, just to be prepared and to be kept in quiet reserve should anything happen.  It was my complete goal to keep anything drastic from happening and to keep the community together as best I would be able to, and I was willing to do anything that wouldn’t compromise either my own integrity or the safety of our members to keep the community I—we—had worked so hard to build up.  But…well, contingency plans are always good to have, I suppose, and it paid off for us all in the end.

Anyway, once DanKadmos gave his final reply to the mods, I immediately made the following announcement to the entire server:

Due to unfortunate and irreconcilable differences between me and the server owner/primary admin @DanKadmos#3527, I (polyphanes#0777) will be stepping down as admin and leaving the Hermetic Agora. It pains me to leave this place, but given the irresponsible and intolerable conduct of @DanKadmos#3527 with his recalcitrant refusal to recognize the problems he caused and continues to engage with, I find myself faced with a choice: to stay here and implicitly support his choices, or to leave and explicitly deny them. The only moral and ethical path I can take is the latter.

@DanKadmos#3527 wishes to hold himself above the community standards he himself laid down and enforced, and instead revert to hypocrisy and nursing his own bruised ego for being called out for immature, disrespectful behavior and the violation of a number of our rules (1, 3, 8, 11, 12). After the removal of the “Pepe the Frog” emoji, he has done nothing but remained unrepentantly and willfully unapologetic for his disrespectful, confusing public messages. Time and again @DanKadmos#3527 has doubled down upon and continued to refuse to admit error, apologize, fix the problems he started, or encourage healing from the harm he caused. For all these reasons, I find myself unable to participate further in this place of which he is the server owner/primary admin.

I have worked hard to help build this public community as one of the most solid, respectful, and learned for discussing Hermeticism and esotericism, and I am proud all the work we’ve done together as a community. I am honored to have met so many excellent people through this server, and I hope to maintain ties with many of you, whether on Discord or off. Wherever and however you plan to continue your own Great Works, I hope that the time you spent here has helped you with that, and that you find nothing but success in advancement in all your endeavors.

As my final administrative action, I (polyphanes#0777) approve this request that I submit to the modteam in accordance with our server rule #16:

I have started a separate Discord server to which I invite all members of the Hermetic Agora to join to continue the work started here with me. Though I profoundly dislike schismatic behavior and recognize that such a fine community as this deserves better than to be split apart, I would hope that many of my friends and colleagues here would consider joining me at this new server where we may continue to engage in fruitful discussions and studies regarding Hermeticism and esotericism apart and away from the unfortunate behavior and choices of the Hermetic Agora’s server owner. I assure you that you’ll already find several familiar faces there besides my own.

https://discord.gg/5vzhykvFuN

Needless to say, three things immediately happened:

  1. DanKadmos started trying to regain control over (what he had always wanted to be) “his” server and proclaimed:

    I am most probably going to delete the server in a few days. While @polyphanes ´s words are offensive to me, I am not easily offended like other people around here, so I will leave his message on so as many of you as possible will move to his community is you so decide. If somebody wants me to keep the server up, bear in mind that I don´t care about politically correctness, so there will changes that might potentially offend people

  2. A large number of people (many of whom had been basically holding their breath following DanKadmos’ blowup in public chat two nights earlier) immediately left, seeing what was happening.
  3. I was shortly removed from the server myself, and the above messages were removed as well shortly after that.

After that point, I don’t know what happened precisely or what was said on the old server, though I’m told that DanKadmos proceeded to go on a right-wing rant about liberals, how the server would be taking an anti-political-correctness approach, got rid of the gender/pronoun roles, and the like; immediately, the conversations veered into “swastikas are cool actually” and the server quickly devolved into another white supremacist, fascist online group, something that we tried our damnedest for so long to avoid and which we’ve called out time and time again (like with the whole ToTHO debacle).  Somehow, he didn’t anticipate that that would open up the floodgates to the stuff we had been battling against for so long, so he sent this final message before nuking the entire server (as was shared to me):

It was, in short, an awful end to a great place.  But at least the end was quick (less than 48 hours in the making), and we’ve already started to rebuild.

To make it clear, for anyone who was still there at the very end but didn’t see my messages: I do not approve of DanKadmos’ behavior, I stand as ever and as always against far-right/alt-right/Nazi bullshit, and I sincerely regret what has happened.  I tried what I could to hold the community together, but in the end, it was not in my power to do so.  I am frustrated and annoyed, not least at the loss of someone who was once a great colleague but now an obstinate asshole whom I can no longer associate myself with, but I am also determined to move on all the same.

As I mentioned before, seeing that a potential end was nigh, I and the other mods went ahead and made a new server, the Hermetic House of Life (HHoL), basically keeping the same channels, format, and style of the old server.  I’m going to go through my old posts and update any such reference to the old HA server (nobody could join even if they wanted to), and I’m also going to figure out in the near future how to make accessible the old server discussions I was able to back up; news for that will be going on the new server soon once I figure it out.  We’re already supported by a fantastic team of mods (basically all the old team), and we’ve already (as of this post) reached a quarter of the old member base (around 250 people) including virtually all of the usual faces and most well-acclaimed members, so we’re already getting by.  Hopefully we can continue growing at this new server and continuing the same Great Work we started elsewhere.  We might have changed houses, but this community is still our home, and I want to continue serving this great community as best as I can.

Plus, for those who are currently members of my Red Work Course or who are thinking of joining, I have a special channel set aside just for RWC-related discussions.  If you’re a current RWC member and have joined the new HHoL Discord above, send me an email with your Discord handle or send me a Discord PM with your email address so I can verify your membership, and I’ll grant you the role for that special channel.

Here’s hoping to see you at the Hermetic House of Life Discord server soon!

New ebook for sale: The Oracle of the Dominoes (also updated prices for my other ebooks!)

This is a project I’ve sat on long enough, I think, and it’s high time I get it out to people’s hands in at least one form I can manage.

While it’s been a long time since I’ve bothered—I fell out of it after it started feeling like a slog and a drain—I recall how my now-defunct CuriousCat account got quite a lot of attention, and was a great way to come up with post topics or other points for discussion and research.  Starting around May 2019, I think, people really started asking me about dominoes in quick succession, as if it were some sort of joke picking up speed on the way to be a running one or something.  It all started, I think, when someone asked about a connection between geomancy and dominoes.  After all, the geomantic figures are combinations of dots, and so are the pips on dominoes, so are they perhaps related? I mean, people can do divination with dominoes, too, right?

The answer was, and still is, a clear and flat “no”; there is no historical connection between dominoes and geomancy, or at least none that I have ever found in any text or discussion in any medium whatsoever.  If there ever was a connection, it’s long been forgotten or was never developed in a way that was preserved.  However, just to make sure, I did some simple research on the history of dominoes, and it turns out that dominoes were just coming onto the scene in Europe around the time geomancy was pushed off to the side in the 1700s CE.  Dice (which are in many ways similar to dominoes) are old, to be sure, and geomancy is also old, but Western-style dominoes are a relatively young thing, whether they arose from six-sided dice or were somehow descended from Chinese dominoes (骨牌 gǔpái, 牙牌 yápái, or 蒱牌 púpái).  And, just to be even more sure, I started some very brief research into reading about domino divination, just enough to confirm my suspicions; as I suspected, there was no connection between geomantic divination and domino divination.

But in the process of that research, something snagged my interest, and hard.  Maybe it was a spirit of mine, maybe it was just some latent desire to get good at this thing I had never before considered or even knew much about, but for the entirety of that summer I became obsessed with learning how to do domino reading and divination. What few books I could find—heck, most of the information was just a few pages in a handful of books.  I did as much research as I could, going back as far as I could with what resources I had available to me, a combination of using digitized records or buying antique copies of books barely held together anymore from the 1800s and scrounging around on websites in a variety of languages and crosschecking it all together to see what matched and what didn’t.  I ended up compiling dozens upon dozens of pages of notes on technique and interpretations, sorting out what seemed useful and what seemed to be coming out of left field.  Heck, I even ended up coming across the supposed connections between domino reading and orisha divination—which is very much not a thing, as I’ve mentioned before in the strongest of terms (that post came out of this research).

It was out of these notes and this research that I ended up putting together a whole book’s worth of knowledge, lore, and technique on how to read the dominoes as a form of divination and fortune-telling (which I immediately put to practice for myself, and whew does it work better and clearer than I thought it would).  I’ve been sitting on releasing this for a while, I admit, but I figured that I may as well just push it to PDF ebook format, since I know I’m not likely to get involved in formal publishing anytime soon (if ever).  After all, the more people who learn domino reading and take it seriously, the better off we’ll all be, I think, whether someone takes it as their one-and-done system or as an adjunct to other systems like card reading or geomancy.

To that end, I present to you my newest ebook: The Oracle of the Dominios, available through my Etsy store or my Ko-fi store for only US$10!

The Oracle of the Dominos (a title that isn’t in Latin for once!) is a 178-page (US Letter-sized) PDF text in English that summarizes basically all the research I was able to do on domino divination, combining what I could gleam from over 50 different texts going back to 1862 across five languages.  A combination of both technique and reference, there’s over 100 pages alone of just details on what each of the individual bones of a traditional set of double-six dominoes means, split out into areas like work and career, money and finances, love and romance, family and friends, health issues, spiritual guidance, general advice, and other notes.  In addition to detailing the traditional approach of reading the dominoes, I’ve also included much more modern ways like using spreads or alternative ways that use the dominoes for specific situations like determining names, numbers, times, and the like, as well as introducing a little astrological symbolism to the dominoes (which I’ve never otherwise encountered) to expand the meanings to also include predictions regarding people’s temperament, character, appearance, and the like.  Having learned and practiced this form of divination since I started learning about it, I can personally attest to how brilliant this lore is when it comes together under the bones—if not outright punchy and blunt at times just to make a point!

Not gonna lie, I did originally intend to find a publisher for this and have it go to press, but honestly, that’s a lot more headache and hassle than I want to deal with (on top of my own personal thoughts and opinions regarding the state of occult publishing as well as perceptions around publishing in general), and that was frankly an impediment to me getting this sort of project out at all.  For those who wanted something like this in print, I apologize; I’d rather self-publish through PDF ebooks than keep this as a file that I’d never otherwise get out publicly.  Still, I’m fully aware that there are those who, despite the increasing popularity of e-readers and the like, still prefer to have an offline and non-digital copy of such things; for those purposes, as with all my other ebooks, I highly encourage my readers to please print these things off on their own for their own private and personal use, either just on plain printer paper shoved into a binder or whether done more professionally through something like Lulu or CreateSpace.  It’s also one of the reasons why, despite the time and resources I poured into a text like this, I’m pricing it how I am—and, for that matter, why I’ve priced my other ebooks how I have, because it’s just a digital file that I’m providing, which (I hope) allows those who wish for something more tangible to spend a few extra dollars on their own to have things printed out in a format and style they themselves prefer.

To that end, I’ve also dropped the prices of three of my older ebooks (Secreti Geomantici, Preces Castri, and Preces Templi) from US$18 or US$16 down to US$10.  I consider the two Preces books to be some of my crowning achievements when it comes to some of my prayer-writing and research, and Secreti Geomantici a fantastic text about a nascent field of magic in Western practice that stands to be developed greatly by the geomantic community, and I also consider this new ebook on domino divination to also be up there, especially given the time and resources I had to pour into it to get it researched and written.  It’s not that I don’t want to make money—money, though it isn’t everything, is damn useful to anyone—but I also want to be fair to people while also not wanting to be unfair to myself, especially in this time when there are so many people out there going through such hard times when something as simple as learning domino reading or having a new set of prayers for ritual practice could give them a necessary edge to make things so much better for themselves and others.  Given how printing things out on one’s own is an extra cost, I figured I may as well just standardize my ebook price to US$10 across the board rather than having things that are comparatively more expensive, especially since US$10 is already a fairly reasonable price for many print books already out there—and authors of such books in print generally get much less of that total cut than what I get (which is almost everything after a few fees towards PayPal, Etsy, or the like).    For those who have already bought these ebooks at the previous price, I give you my sincere thanks and hope you have found them useful enough to be worth the cost; for those who have not yet bought these ebooks, I hope the new price will encourage you to buy them and get some use out of them!

Anyway, what are you waiting for?  Head over to my Etsy store or my Ko-fi store and get yourself a copy of The Oracle of the Dominoes (or my other ebooks!) today, and learn a new predictive skill for yourself that can give you an edge in life!

I was back on the Coffee & Divination podcast, this time talking about grammatomancy!

Back in April last year, I made an appearance on the inaugural Coffee & Divination podcast.  It’s a great show, run by the fabulous Joanna Farrer (musician and high priestess of the North Wyldewood Coven), and I was more than happy and honored to be the guest for the first episode.  Apparently Joanna’s audience enjoyed our talk, so over a year later, I was invited back to talk again about divination—this time, about grammatomancy (the divinatory art of using the letters of an alphabet, specifically the Greek alphabet, about which I’ve put out an ebook for you to consider plus plenty of other posts exploring how to use this neat little system of Greek “runes”).  It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, and which I’ve involved in plenty of stuff with my (on the back burner) Mathēsis project and which I spoke about as well at the Salem Witchcraft & Folklore Festival last year.  In addition to just that, we also get into some fun bits about Hermetic magic and a few other fun topics, as well!  It was, as ever, a great time to chat with Joanna, so I hope you enjoy the chat, as well (whether or not you like coffee).

To listen to the podcast, you can find the interview on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and other podcast platforms, as well as on their Vimeo channel.  And, if you’d like to support her show, please consider throwing some coffee money her way over on Ko-fi!

I was on a two-part show on the “What Magic is This?” podcast!

Well, that certainly was fun!

I trust you, good reader, will remember that I’ve been on a handful of podcasts as a guest before, and if you’ve forgotten (or if you haven’t been around long enough to hear about that), you can check the About page of this website to see a list of what shows I’ve been on before.  It’s always a pleasure and a treat to be on someone’s show, and although I live in constant fear that I’ll make an oafish ass of myself and make the good host waste their time and bandwidth on me, apparently the shows I’ve been on tend to be well-received for one reason or another.

As it turns out, I was was invited back by Douglas Batchelor over at What Magic is This?, this time not as the sole guest but with the good Rev. Erik Arneson (of Arnemancy) as my friend and colleague, the two of us answering Doug’s questions about Hermeticism, both classical and post-classical, from all sorts of angles.  It was a great talk, and because the discussion was so expansive (it’s hard not to be when talking about 2000 years of development and wiles in all sorts of ways!), it got broken out into two separate episodes.  Take a listen, whether on YouTube, Spotify, Libsyn, or your other preferred podcast listener!

Part I (June 17, 2021), focusing on classical Hermeticism

Part II (June 25, 2021), focusing on post-classical Hermeticism

If you’ve enjoyed these talks (I certainly hope you do, and I certainly enjoyed being a part of them!), do consider supporting both Doug and Erik on their respective platforms, subscribe to their shows, donate to their Patreons, and the like!