Back in the good old days of My Alchemical Bromance, we had our good friend Aaron Epperson on for a reverse interview. It was a delightful experience pretty early in my days as a podcaster. Now that I am a seasoned, salty veteran of the podcasting world, Aaron has returned to lift our spirits with another extra special appearance. Please join me, Reverend Erik, as I give Aaron his first ever Tarot reading, live on this episode!
For this reading, I used the Miniature Rider-Waite Tarot Deck from U.S. Games. I linked to the exact deck I use – it looks like there are some low-quality knock-offs of the miniature deck available, but mine is pretty nice. Since I had all of my podcasting equipment on the table, I had to use the tiny cards or there wouldn’t have been any room!
Please excuse the color correction on this photo. The Hermit was in a shadow and being the masterful photo toucher-upper that I am, I did what I could to make that card more visible.
Hypnerotomachia and Play with Ted Hand Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
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Ted Hand is public school teacher and independent scholar of Renaissance Magic. In this episode, he discusses the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and Atalanta Fugiens as influential Renaissance texts and the culture of images. Ted discusses in particular the concept of using these image-heavy texts as vehicles for esoteric or mystical play. He discusses in particular the Atalanta Fugiens as a multimedia text and the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili as almost an architectural handbook.
This conversation ends up being a deep exploration of the historical culture of the imagination. We discuss alchemy, the Rosicrucians, early Freemasonry, Robert Fludd, Giulio Camillo, image magic, forbidden knowledge, the Art of Memory, and building a relationship with meaningful texts.
One key bit in this episode is Ted’s explanation of why well-known Renaissance man and architect Leon Battisti Aberti was considered as a potential author of the Hypnerotomachia before scholars seemed to settle on Francisco Colonna.
Along the way, Ted and I discuss different definitions and approaches to meditation in the history of Western esotericism, and we talk about the role of imagination and visions in meditative practice. This in particular might be one of the greatest lesson
This episode is the second in a series on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and serves to help introduce the audience to the thinking, culture, and scholarship around this remarkable book and its lasting effect on our culture. Check below for show notes and for Ted’s recommended reading list.
Szonyi, György E. “Architectural Symbolism and Fantasy Landscapes in Alchemical and Occult Discourse: Revelatory Images”, in Emblems & Alchemy, Alison Adams, and Stanton J. Linden, (eds.), (Glasgow Emblem Studies, 1998).
Bolzoni, Lina. “The Memory Theatre of Giulio Camillo: Alchemy, Rhetoric, and Deification in the Renaissance”, in Lux in Tenebris: The Visual and the Symbolic in Western Esotericism, (Brill, Aries Book Series, Volume: 23, 2018).
The work of a magician is imaginal, taking place in a realm of phantasy and imagination. The Astral Temple is one of the core works of the magician. It is akin to a spiritual home base, a palace of memory, and an ever-present ritual space enabling the practitioner to perform ritual without physical tools and implements. The method of constructing and building an Astral Temple is powerful and something that every magician should begin developing early in their practice. This is a space created entirely in the imagination. From a magical perspective, it can be seen as existing in the realm of Yetzirah, the Kabbalistic world of formation. (more…)
Magician, fortune teller, and notorious swamp wizard Allen Drake joins me in this episode. We open with a discussion of various forms of divination and fortune telling, focusing primarily on Tarot and astrology. It doesn’t take long for us to dive into the Hellenistic astrology of Dorotheus of Sidon. Allen takes us on a wild exploration of really early approaches to astrological symbols, images, and meanings before we dive into the meanings of fate and fortune and why those words scare the heck out of people.
Dorotheus of Sidon was a 1st century CE astrologer, who probably lived in Alexandria and may have been from what is today Lebanon. His works are our oldest, best source for Hellenistic astrology and provide a fascinating window into the ancient practices that evolved into today’s astrology. By exploring the works of Dorotheus, Allen has developed a rich and rewarding approach to the stars that I think you will find fascinating and enlightening.
A note on audio quality: The COVID-19 shelter-in-place situation has forced me to make a lot of changes in how I record lately, so Allen’s conversation happened over the phone. I’m working hard to make sure audio quality is better in future episodes.
Introducing the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili Hypnerotomachia Poliphili
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This is a solo episode about the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, the most beautiful book in Venice. This mysterious volume was printed in Venice in 1499 by Aldus Manutius, with a typeface created by master punchcutter Francesco Griffo. Illustrated with 172 amazing woodcuts, it was written in a strange combination of Latin, Greek, and Italian. The illustrations also contain Hebrew, Arabic, and invented hieroglyphs. Nobody knows who the illustrator was, nor who wrote the book, but most scholars agree that it was Venetian Franciscian monk and priest Francesco Colonna.
In this episode, I discuss the history of events leading up to the book, the nature of the book itself, and also possible influences the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili may have had on later European art, literature, and occult currents. Some of the topics I touch on are the 17th century Rosicrucian movement, the Renaissance Art of Memory, and 18th century Freemasonry.
My research in this episode relies heavily on the previous work of two people. First, Joscelyn Godwin, musicologist, author, historian, and translator. He translated the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili into English for the first time in 1999, and was the translator and commentator of The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, which I reference in the show. Second is Efthymia Priki, Ph.D. in Byzantine Studies from University of Cyprus, who did extensive work researching the influences of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili on works that came after it.
In this episode, we’re joined by The Word Witch, Claire Burgess! Claire (pronouns they/them) is a queer and non-binary Tarot reader, teacher, writer, and illustrator. They’re the host of The Word Witch podcast and the creator of the Fifth Spirit Tarot deck, both of which explore and re-imagine Tarot through a queer and intersectional lens. They teach Tarot at Portland Community College and, soon, online!
We discuss how gender works in Tarot and how modern Tarot creators are working to introduce non-binary ideas into new decks and artwork. We also have a great conversation about Claire’s creative process with the Fifth Spirit Tarot. This is a great deep dive into deck creation and we can all learn a lot from their experience and learning process!
The Fifth Spirit Tarot is being featured in the online course, Tarot for the Wild Soul. Make sure to check it out and use Claire’s affiliate code FIFTHSPIRIT in the “Add Coupon” spot at checkout to get a complimentary Fifth Spirit Tarot deck/altar cloth!
Alexx Bollen returns to the podcast to talk about Wyrm’s Addition, a new comic book project he’s working on with Eric Millar of Outlet Press. The story takes place in an eponymous fictional Portland neighborhood based on a real neighborhood called Ladd’s Addition, which those familiar with Portland will undoubtedly recognize as that weird 45°-tilted neighborhood in inner Southeast. What’s up with that place? Well, Alexx and Reverend Erik discuss the weirdness of Ladd’s Addition and how it influenced the theme and plot of Wyrm’s Addition, and then go on to talk about how comic books and writing are a form of magic.
Make sure to check out Alexx’s new comic book in the links below! There are both digital and physical copies available.
Travis Lawrence is an artist, printmaker, explorer of symbolism, meddler in metaphor, and allegorical adventurer. In this episode, guest co-host Coleman Stevenson of the Dark Exact joins me to dive into Travis’s history with art, the method behind his creative vision, and some of the mysteries behind his amazing work.
We explore Jungian psychology and esoteric influences including Hermetic Qabalah, Alchemy, and Freemasonry. Travis reveals the meaning behind a mysterious phrase that shows up in some of his art, and we ponder carving my front porch into a woodcut of its own.
In March of 2020, during the COVID-19 shutdown of pretty much everything, many Masonic Grand Lodges in the United States and Canada cancelled all lodge meetings and Masonic functions. While necessary, this was disappointing, particularly because I had several lectures lined up at various lodges on a number of topics. In addition, both Esoterika Lodge №227 and Research Lodge of Oregon №198 had a joint meeting planned with some pretty incredible lecture topics lined up. (more…)