S01E04 – The Disruption Generator with Eric Millar

 
 
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There really is no Eric Conspiracy. It’s always been a myth. But in this episode, Eric Millar and I (Erik Arneson) meet up at COFFEE BEER in Southeast Portland to discuss The Disruption Generator and Eric’s other work. Eric is an author, writer, and publisher — the brains and brawn behind Outlet Press.

We use the Disruption Generator to read for the Arnemancy Podcast, and the results are … well, troubling. Let’s hope we don’t actually end up where it predicts! Eric tries to spin it better!

Also, an announcement: the first Arnemancy Podcast live recording is happening at Rose City Book Pub on Friday, September 13th! Click this link to sign up for updates and more details on the event!

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Secret Societies in AmericaSecret Societies in America: Foundational Studies of Fraternalism
Edited by William D. Moore and Mark A. Tabbert
Cornerstone Book Publishers, 2011
294 pages
Paperback $24.95, ISBN 978-1-61342-024-9

The magnitude with which fraternal organizations influenced American society and history is something that we hear a lot about through conspiracies, but not enough about from main-stream historians. It turns out that these organizations – including the Freemasons, Oddfellows, and other familiar names – are an integral part of the story of the United States of America. This book, Secret Societies in America: Foundational Studies of Fraternalism, is a collection of remarkable essays and studies that showcases this influence. Published from the 1890s through the middle of the 20th century, they illustrate not only that enormous influence but the changes that occurred within American fraternalism which may have contributed to its waning popularity.

Reading the articles in this book, I was surprised that I’d never been exposed to any of this material before. These articles are the original source of many claims about numbers, statistics, and basic information claimed by many modern secret societies. They paint a fascinating picture of fraternities and their place in American society in the 19th and 20th centuries. The articles range in style from sensational journalism to dry sociology and cover a variety of topics.

Changing Attitudes in Fraternalism

Many articles approach fraternal history from unexpected angles, presenting influences in our society that are almost entirely unrepresented today. For instance, there is a great deal of material about how the life insurance industry worked and developed in the 19th century, and how it tied into the fraternal boom.

Milton Lehman reported in 1949 that one well-known saying of Freemasonry was, “It’s an inborn instinct to belong to a secret society.” This is an attitude which has disappeared in the modern world. It’s fascinating to get a glimpse of how fraternal organizations were considered such an integral part of the American way of life.

Is Freemasonry a Secret Society?

The phrase “secret society” carries sinister undertones today, but was once the go-to phrase to describe a fraternal order. The oldest articles in this collection, written before 1910, use it to describe all sorts of fraternal orders. Learning about the evolution of the term makes the worn-out trope of the Freemasons sound obnoxious: “Freemasonry is not a secret society. It is a society with secrets.” In fact, Freemasonry is indeed a secret society, it’s just that “secret society” hasn’t always meant the same thing.

Anti-fraternal author J.M. Foster in 1898 wrote “[…] it is safe to say that in all there are fully 6,000,000 persons in this country held in the coils of Secretism.” He also states that membership in fraternal orders was growing at an astounding rate of 300,000 per year. Many of the earlier articles use the term “joiner” to indicate people who became members of secret societies. It wasn’t a derogatory term. In fact, at one point, 40% of the adult population of the United States belonged to at least one secret society. The numbers are sometimes surprising: In 1911, the Oddfellows were the largest fraternity in terms of membership.

Conclusion: This is a Good Book

I really enjoyed this book. The one article I had difficulty with was “The Sociology of Secrecy and of Secret Societies” by Georg Simmel, a German sociologist. It was too dense and verbose, the language too clumsy. I’m not sure if this is the fault of Simmel or because of the translation.

In conclusion, if you are interested in the history of Freemasonry and its place in society, you will find this book invaluable. If you are a conspiracy theorist, you will find the information in this book valuable, as well. Hopefully it can help enrich your understanding of history and the role fraternal societies have played throughout the unfolding tale of the United States.

An earlier version of this review was published in Vol. 66, №2 (Spring 2013) of Philalethes: The Journal of Masonic Research & Letters.
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I’ve made updates to my Patreon page! Here is a summary of what’s new.

Tarot Subscriptions

There are two new supporter tiers. The Tarot Subscriber ($30/month) gets one free 30-minute Tarot reading per month and is limited to 10 subscribers. The Tarot Super-Subscriber ($50/month) gets one free 60-minute Tarot reading per month and is limited to only 5 subscribers.

Moving Toward New Goals

I have updated my Patreon goals! Once we reach $200 per month, I will pay for one guest blog post every month! At $400, I will pay for two guest blog posts and hopefully have enough to hire copyediting help or podcast help.

You can help reach this goal by signing up at any support level! Become a Patreon supporter today!

Revamping the Neophyte Role

I’ve made some updates to the Neophyte support level ($5 per month) to more accurately reflect what I’m able to offer. The most important change is that starting in August, those at Neophyte and above will get to help me select topics for articles and other content. Join me by signing up as a Neophyte-level supporter!

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S01E03 – Pico and Dick with Ted Hand

 
 
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Teacher and independent scholar Ted Hand joins me in this episode for a deep dive into the angelology of Pico della Mirandola, followed by a crazy romp through the gnostic world of Philip K. Dick. It’s a dense episode, and (hold on to your hat!) it’s all connected! We follow Pico’s adventures through the Florentine Renaissance as he encounters translating superhero Marsilio Ficino, the mad monk Savonarola, and tragically doomed king Charles VIII, but our journey doesn’t stop there. In the late 20th century, our trip through gnosis and mysticism continues with PKD information that left me speechless! You’ll need your podcast safety glasses for this one, dear listeners.

As a bonus, we also discuss Ted’s upcoming Philip K. Dick Tarot!

Also, here’s where I was wrong: The Popes that Pico had to deal with are not Pius II and Alexander VII like I said, but instead Innocent VIII and Alexander VI. Who remembers their Popes? I’ll bet you don’t! Give me a break.

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S01E02 – Cartomancy and Sortilege with T. Susan Chang

 
 
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As the entire Internet already knows, T. Susan Chang has incredible oracular powers, so when I tell you that she’s here on the second episode of the fledgling Arnemancy Podcast, it’s probably a sign that we’re building great things. Susan is co-host of the incredible Fortune’s Wheelhouse podcast and the author of Tarot Correspondences: Ancient Secrets for Everyday Readers, released by Llewellyn at the end of 2018. She is a Tarot expert, and the kind of Tarot expert that an uncanny grasp on how the cards connect to each other and the complex web of correlations and associations that tie the cards into nearly every other aspect of Western occultism.

Tarot Correspondences: Ancient Secrets for Everyday ReadersWe dive into everything, from Agrippa to the Picatrix decans to planetary Tarot associations to Kabbalah to working magic with Tarot. We talk about psychology, divination, sortilege, and symbolism. When I invited Susan on the show, I promised that we could go full Tarot nerd, and we did. Full Tarot nerd.

Susan also answered listener questions, including a great explanation of The Devil card. We also get into sewing, and discuss my creation of a magical robe.

Buy Susan’s book and listen to her podcast. If you like Tarot, you will love her work.

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Rosicrucian Trilogy: Fama Fraternitatis, 1614; Confessio Fraternitatis, 1615; The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz, 1616
Trans. Joscelyn Godwin, Christopher McIntosh, and Donate Pahnke McIntosh
Weiser Books, 2016
184 pages
Paperback $22.95 USA, ISBN 978-1-57863-603-7
Hardcover $45 USA, ISBN 978-1-57863-609-9

The Rosicrucian movement began with three mysterious documents published in the early 17th century in Kessel, a city in the center of modern-day Germany. It was a movement that sprang from the Reformation, and it was steeped in esoteric lore, alchemical legends, and hope for a brighter and more rational future. The would-be Rosicrucians did not get their desired glorious future, however. The 17th century saw the eruption of the Thirty Years’ War and the death of millions through religious persecution, famine, and disease. However, the Rosicrucian legend survived and continues to have political and religious repercussions today.
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S01E01 – Cartomancy with Alexx Bollen

 
 
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Introducing the Arnemancy Podcast! Following on the heels of My Alchemical Bromance, this podcast explores esotericism, Tarot, magic, and the occult. In the inaugural episode, I visit Alexx Bollen of the Alexxcast in his foam-walled podcasting dungeon to talk Tarot. I do my first ever reading using Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot and the results are surprising!

(You’ll have to excuse us as we figure out some microphone stuff right at the beginning that I forgot to edit out.)

Erik's First Thoth Reading

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The magician in his robe is a timeless image. From ancient wizards like Merlin to medieval conjurers, all the way up to modern depictions such as Gandalf and Harry Potter, the robe is the magician’s expected uniform. Even various schools and traditions of modern occult study emphasize the importance of wearing a robe. It is practically required that any modern occult practitioner has at least one robe – unless you’re Meredith Graves, and then you can get away with a magical jumpsuit. I asked her about her ritual jumpsuits.
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This post doesn’t represent a completed project, but is rather the beginning of one. While leading a discussion group on the Sefer Yetzirah recently, I was struck by many of the astrological details in that ancient text. This led me to start seeking information on the use of astrology in traditional Kabbalah. This has been a frustrating search with many dead ends, but I have found some good clues and interesting places to start digging.
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The Western Mystery Tradition, Western esotericism, occultism — what are all of these things, and why are so many people talking about them? It can be tough to wrap your head around how much of our culture is steeped in ideas we call occult. Everything from religion to pop culture to (gasp!) science are heavily influenced by esoteric, occult traditions that have waxed and waned in dominance in the West.
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