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!

A Word on the “Temple of the Hermetic One” (and that word is “nope”)

I’ve made a few (usually firebrand) posts in the past regarding social justice. Suffice it to say that I’m an ardent supporter of social justice in all its forms, that I believe and commit to the idea that Black Lives Matter, that trans rights are human rights, and so on and so forth. Besides seeing these things as just being a logical consequence of basic human decency, I also find that these things are justified by the ethics and morality espoused by Hermeticism and any true and proper path of divinity. I want to reiterate that sort of opinion today, of course, but in a different way than I have before. This is a rant, and specifically a denunciation, against a specific group: the Temple of the Hermetic One.

As a rule, I generally don’t like being specific or engaging in call-outs of specific people or groups, but today I need to break that rule and get specific to let the broader occult community know of something rotten, and that something is the so-called “Temple of the Hermetic One” (TotHO). This is a religious community that was founded in 2019, and though they don’t appear to be particularly large (consisting of maybe a handful of leaders and at least some number of initiates), they do seem to have a physical presence in addition to an online one, and appear to have candidates for admission or initiation in multiple places across the world, and have about 2.6k followers on Facebook. They appear (or at least claim) to have a set of teachings and practices based on Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, and a variety of pagan and neopagan traditions.

I bring them up today because one of their leaders by the name of Trismejustus (not the leader, but one of the high-ranking members who appears to have a position of authority within the organization) joined the Hermetic Agora Discord that I participate (and am a mod) in, announcing himself effectively as a representative of that community and saying he’d be happy to take any questions. One of the other mods (specifically the Reverend Erik Arneson, my friend and also owner of the Arnemancy website and podcast) began looking into their website and noticed a trend of troubling tenets, statements, and beliefs they had. I began looking into their website as well as their Facebook page, and also noticed other such disturbing trends. To summarize, we found notions of:

  • Racism, xenophobia, the right of races to self-separate and exclude others from their traditions and practices, striving to uphold genetic/ethnic purity and identity, how we should remove “foreign aspects that were detrimental” from the practices of our ancestors, and statements against racial/ethnic mixing but with no according mention of notions of minority, oppression, or power structures
  • Paganism is, for them, “religiously inclusive but ethnically exclusive”, and kept citing the downfall of Hellenistic/Ptolemaic Egypt because of how corrupt it had become due to ethnic mixing
  • A support of theocracy and absolute rule of the few over the many, while also saying that democracy is a mistake and how Athens was great “in spite of their democracy”
  • Heteronormativity and puritanism, how only sex between men and women for procreation is moral, how philosophers like Plato “engaged in some nasty acts”
  • Anti-vaxx sentiments, how people should use religious exemptions to refuse mandatory vaccinations and how we should instead trust in nature an divinity, how “overcoming ailments naturally is the better option”, and how we should refuse scientific investigation and medical testing regarding the efficacy or safety of vaccines out of hand (notably with no encouragement for those who are willing or able to get the vaccine to do so)
  • Heated, passionate vitriol against anything and everything Abrahamic in any form, even to the point of saying that the Greek Magical Papyri aren’t worth studying due to all their Yahwisty bits (though for some reason being a supporter of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin, a well-known European grimoire, because it’s “not really Abrahamic”)

None of these views made us feel particularly sanguine about their group, so we posed a series of questions asking for clarification on these points in the server’s public chat to the TotHO member, who himself had found the Discord link on the /r/Hermeticism subreddit. After all, the mod team on the Hermetic Agora Discord does actually moderate the community to the point of curating its members, and we do strive to form a place where we can all engage in conversation and discussion on a level terms in a safe environment where we don’t make people feel uncomfortable, but given the tenets and stated beliefs of TotHO, we felt that an explanation was due to clarify, especially as many of these beliefs and stances are prevalent in the more extreme wings of our culture and occulture today using the same lines of thought and argument as what TotHO was appearing to use.

While waiting for their representative to get back to us, another member of TotHO joined the Discord server, since apparently the link was shared in their community as well. They began to answer the questions we posed to the leader who had earlier joined, and it did…not go well. In the course of trying to defend an ethnicity’s right to self-identify/separate/exclude, they also upheld the notion of preventing races from mixing in general while also not clearly answering questions regarding whether or not they supported racial supremacy to the effect that they showed that they did, indeed, support it. They were subsequently banned for not only engaging in racist dialog and ideology on our server, but also for disrespect towards some of our members (they cussed them out for raising a reasonable objection to some of the things this person was saying).

Shortly after this other member of TotHO was banned, the earlier representative of TotHO got back to the chat and began answering the questions we had posed. While defending the conduct of the earlier member, they refused to answer the objections we had raised regarding their statements on racial/ethnic purity or against racial/ethnic mixing. While using tokenism several times (“we have a black member!” “we have a gay member!”), also said some pretty awful stuff regarding queer folk, not just that:

Being gay, as a personal matter, is fine. However, we do have a big issue with the modern LGBT movement (as does this member im speaking of) because its a tornado of lust situated on disgusting and profane acts to the body. Thus, being gay should be a personal matter and not a widely socially acceptable faucet.

And yes, they are entirely degenerate and I will vote for any law that would restrict their operations.

Hilariously, they also said that:

Weak spined people are the reason Paganism, and even Hermeticism, gets laughed at. There’s a reason why you guys hang out in a discord all day and never accomplish anything.

I can tell by the mannerisms of this entire group that you all probably watched a few E.A Koetting videos and looked up Trismegistus on a quote website.

(Cute, right? I thought so, too. Strange that they’d end up mocking a server they only just joined of their own accord, but then, it’s a tactic that’s all too common by particular unsavory users on the Internet.)

When mentioned as a leader of TotHO (given that they stated that their position was as a magister), they said that they are “not the Leader” but that they “serve the Leader”, which is not just cryptic but also unsettlingly creepy. After many people in the server began raising objections left and right to the things they were saying and how they were saying it, they ended up resorting to the usual troll tactics of mocking, denying earlier statements made, and the like. Perhaps needless to say, they were banned.

Now, I’m not usually in the habit of telling people who or what organizations they should associate with, but in this case, I have to make it clear my thoughts on this “The Temple of the Hermetic One”. Based not only on their stated tenets and beliefs on their website and public social media presence but also on the stated opinions, actions, and behaviors of their members (both in leadership as well as non-leadership positions), this is not an organization I could ever recommend to anyone, and instead recommend all those to stay away from this group. We all know that the past few years have seen a strong surge in fascist, far-right, authoritarian, and conspiracy theory-laden groups obsessed with playing the victim as well as trying to take power for themselves, and it would appear that TotHO is another such group, which is unfortunately playing at pretentions of being a spiritual or religious organization and is making a mockery of the Neoplatonic and Hermetic virtues they claim to cherish so much. They inspire no confidence in me and, beyond this denunciation I make of them, are not worth the time or effort to speak of. I make this denunciation for the benefit of the occult community as a whole, given their inclinations towards some pretty shitty views and approaches to humanity, and would hope that none that I know would deign to be a part of them. And, likewise, I hope that any such members of TotHO who happen to read my blog reconsider their membership and what it means to be a decent fucking human being, and that I hope that anyone who would persist in maintaining or holding these abominable views on their fellow humans has anything they use from my writings blow up in their face until they learn how to be a better human being. After all—and I want to make this clear—I don’t make enemies out of others nor do I want or care to, but TotHO has made themselves an enemy to me and to the well-being of humanity as a whole. I hope for their hearts to be enlightened in wisdom and sense, and that they learn to move past the mistakes they’re making and to heal the hurt they’re causing.

I mean, hells below, I’d rather give the Kybalion a full license to appropriate the term “Hermetic” compared to whatever miasmatic bullshit this group manages to use it for.

TL;DR: stay the fuck away from this community of racist, homophobic assholes.
End rant.

EDIT: It’s not just me and Erik that have picked up on this, but others have as well. In a review left on their Facebook page on June 21, 2020, someone made the following remarks:

This page displays some knowledge of Orphic, Platonic and Hermetic texts and ideas. However, the authors of this page do not appear to be able to comprehend these texts in the original language in which they were written. Nor do they have an appreciation for the methods of Platonic Philosophy, which involve using dialectical logic to reach knowledge, and building on such knowledge using the same logic. This is what Plato did and what later Platonists did by building on the logic based knowledge provided by Plato using logic. Instead, the authors of this page rely on belief and dogma. These two deficiencies – apparently not understanding the language in which the texts were composed and replacing dialectical logic based knowledge with belief and dogma – lead the authors into misinterpretations and misrepresentations of the tradition they claim to uphold and present. The racialist/nationalist position this page promotes is one example of such an error.
One of the questions I posed to Trismejustus (which went unanswered) was what the qualifications were for him and his fellow leaders to start initiating people as priests, what scholarly or academic background they might have, whether they have had any formal training as priests by any external pagan community like Cherry Hill, or the like. Someone else I was in contact with on Twitter who knew the founder of TotHO noted that they were earnest, though young and precocious, and for them to leap to priesthood on their own appeared to be jumping the gun. All told, it just looks like this is a group that is not just racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and fascist, but also are woefully underresearched and unprepared to actually engage with the matters of philosophy and religion and mysticism in any serious way that they deserve. Again: just don’t bother.

Readings and consultations on indefinite hiatus

So this may come as a bit of an unpleasant shock to my readers and clients, but things have been heading in this direction for me for a bit, and there’s no need to mince a lot of words over this, so I won’t: I’m not going to be offering readings or consultations for the foreseeable future until further notice.  If you have an outstanding reading or consultation from me, I’ll work with you on getting it done or working around it as I can, but beyond that, I won’t be taking any new requests for the time being.  The Services page, the listings on my Etsy shop, and the commissions on my Ko-fi page have been updated/deactivated/closed accordingly (though you can still get my ebooks through Etsy or Ko-fi, of course).

Honestly, y’all, I’ve just been burnt out and running on fumes as of late, and for longer than I’ve realized.  While I know I’m good at what I do and I know of the good results that come about from what I do (or at least, so people tell me, which is genuinely appreciated), I find myself with less and less energy to take care of readings and consultations for others with everything else on my plate: rituals, writing for my blog, writing my planned books, studying for my own benefit and continuing education, community involvement online and offline, my actual job, my household, et cetera et cetera.  And, worse, whenever I’ve gotten a request for a reading or consultation, while I’m honored that people choose me over the abundance of other great readers and consultants out there, I have to admit that I have an increasing sense of dread and unwillingness to do the work—and that’s a problem, no two ways about it.  There’s no reason that the very act and practice that got me to where I am today to elicit such a response from me, since I do enjoy the work; I just haven’t enjoyed actually doing it for some time.  I thought that taking a break or two earlier this year would help, and they did, but not nearly enough for me to get to where I want and need to be to handle this work appropriately with the attention and diligence it deserves—heck, what you deserve as my clients and querents and readers.  Not wanting to do this kind of work reluctantly and halfheartedly, or with any hint of bitterness to cloud my mind or heart in the process, I figure the best approach is to just not do it at all until I’m at a place where I can handle it again, and instead give myself more time and energy to do so.

I’m not planning on going anywhere, of course, and will still be around to share my thoughts and ideas and research (whether by blog or by email or by chat or by tweet), but until I can find the desire and energy to take on the work of divination again, this isn’t something I’m going to do.  Instead, I’d rather recommend the following readers for you all to go to instead:

I’ve been mulling over making this choice for a while, and would rather not deal with these feelings of fatigue and reluctance while taking on more client work that I arguably shouldn’t right now.  I know at least some of you were hoping to get a yearly forecast in the coming weeks for the coming year, but I’d instead advise one of the excellent readers above for your needs along these and other lines, instead.  There are others I might recommend, too, I’m sure, but these are some of the ones who sprang to mind first whom I would personally recommend.

I thank you all for having been so kind to me, and I appreciate your patience and understanding in this.  I look forward to offering these services (perhaps even others!) in the future once I’m able to again, and when I do, you’ll know where to hear about it.  In the meantime, I’m going to take this opportunity to build myself up and my other projects some more.

New ebook for sale: Preces Templi!

Not that long ago, I put out an ebook, Preces Castri or “Prayers of the Castle”, being a prayerbook consisting of over a hundred prayers for a variety of devotional and ritual purposes, ranging from blessings of various ritual implements and supplies to invocations of the planets to general prayers and meditations on the divinity of God.  In many ways, I consider this to be a compendium of many of the things I’ve written, compiled, or composed based on existing ritual, grimoiric, and religious texts as part of my own spiritual work.  The thing is, however, that this text is…arguably not for all of my readers.  Not that this is a particularly advanced text—it’s definitely not by any stretch of the imagination—but the flavor of these prayers is largely Abrahamic in nature.  To be sure, I still consider all these to be solidly Hermetic in their foundation, but the word “Hermetic” can be used to mean any number of things, really, given how it’s been so mixed and remixed time and time again over the past 1500 years across so many religious traditions, Christianity and Islam notably among them.  As a result, many of those prayers in Preces Castri have a heavy Islamic, Christian, or otherwise Abrahamic monotheistic flair to them, which may not be so tasteful for all of my readers.  But, as I hinted when I published that text and on some of the more recent podcasts I’ve been on, that’s not the only kind of Hermetic work I do, not by a long shot.

The reason why I named that ebook Preces Castri, “Prayers of the Castle”, is given in the introduction to it.  Some time ago on Twitter, I gave some thought to how my own spiritual practice might be termed beyond simply “Hermetic”, and decided to use the ancient Egyptian city of Thēbes as a basis for naming it.  After all, Thēbes is the source for many of the papyri that form the collection we today call the “Greek Magical Papyri”, and was one of the two ancient capitals of Egypt, conveniently located in the middle area between Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt.  Although many Hermeticists might find that Alexandria to be the Egyptian source of so much of our tradition, I would rather give that to multiple cities throughout Egypt, with Thēbes at the top of the list.  Of course, Thēbes was just the usual Greek name for the city; towards the end of the classical period and into the Islamic one of Egypt, there were two other names for the city, one of which is still in use today:

  • Pape, from Coptic ⲠⲀⲠⲈ (earlier Egyptian p’ jp.t), meaning “the adyton”
  • Luxor, from Arabic al-`Uqṣur meaning “the castles”

It’s from these two names that I derived the terms “Papetic” and “Luxoric” to refer to the two styles of spiritual work I do, “Luxoric” referring to the more Abrahamic and monotheistic approach and “Papetic” to refer to the more pagan, Greco-Egyptian, and polytheistic approach.  Mind you, this is entirely a distinction I make for my own convenience, mostly for the purposes of organizing rituals and chaining prayers together (I find the whiplash from going between one to the other to be too jarring at times for myself), and is meant solely for the purposes of practical approaches rather than anything deeper regarding cosmology or syncretism without making use of the problematic terms “Abrahamic” or “pagan” to describe what it is I’m doing.  Still, all that being said, Preces Castri is a good example of the Luxoric stuff I do and have written about.  But what of the Papetic stuff, then?

Well, I’m happy to announce a new ebook for sale just for that: Preces Templi, or “Prayers of the Temple”, available through my Ko-fi store or to my Etsy store for US$18!

(Yes, I did basically reuse the ring design from the write-up I did of the Royal Ring of Abrasax ritual from PGM XII.  I had a hard time trying to make a companion frontispiece like the one I used for Preces Castri, and opted for a different approach.  It makes sense in the context here, trust me.)

As with Preces CastriPreces Templi (extending the meaning of “the adyton” to “temple” more generally) is a prayerbook that I’ve written, both from scratch or composed from existing sources (mostly the Corpus Hermeticum, the Stobaean Fragments, the Nag Hammadi Codices, and the PGM), or otherwise compiled from other sources (e.g. Stoic and Neoplatonic hymns or Egyptian votive texts).  Unlike Preces CastriPreces Templi is much more pagan and polytheistic in its outlook and approach, with a heavy Hellenistic (though not necessarily Hellenic) and Greco-Egyptian flair, and may be more fitting for those who eschew purely monotheistic or Abrahamic approaches to Hermetic magic and devotional work.  To be sure, I’ve certainly shared a few such prayers on my blog previously (like here, here, or here), but again, there’s much more in here (well over 100 prayers total!) that I haven’t shared publicly before:

  • Various prayers and hymns to God from or based on the Hermetic texts or other attestations of the prayers and invocations of Hermēs Trismegistos
  • The “Epitomes of the Divine”, a series of 21 ten-line stanzas on Hermetic doctrine for use in contemplation as well as daily recital across the three ten-day decans across a single sign of the Zodiac (or across the three decamera of a lunar month) and the seven-day weeks
  • General prayers for ritual work
  • PGM invocations to Aiōn as the god of the gods
  • Hymns to the various gods of the Hellenistic/Greco-Egyptian world, including original prayers to Poimandrēs, Ammōn, and Asklēpios-Imhotep
  • Invocations of the 36 decans
  • And more!

This prayerbook is intended to be used by anyone who operates within what might be termed a “syncretic Hellenistic approach”.  Consider the overall outlook of the various rituals of the PGM: it’s an incredibly mixed bag of stuff, calling on Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Jewish, Christian, Gnostic, and other powers using at least as many ritual forms from such traditions, switching between what we might consider to be monotheistic, polytheistic, or henotheistic, sometimes even in the same sentence.  As opposed to a more monotheistic or Abrahamic approach, this prayerbook is more geared towards those who are more freewheeling, open to syncretism, or outright polytheistic (though, at least for the “pure Hermetic” stuff, with a focus on a hierarchical single-god-above-the-rest-of-the-gods) approach.  Again, this is only a collection of prayers, not of rituals, but those who have even an ounce of ingenuity will be able to construct or adapt these prayers to their own ritual needs, perhaps augmenting what they already have or making new rituals with them.

This prayerbook is one that I’m really proud of and one that I’m genuinely happy to have put out—so what are you waiting for?  Head over to my Ko-fi store or to my Etsy store and get yourself a copy today, and I hope that these prayers serve you well in your own Work!