… a thought making crooked all that is straight.

Ludlow Esoteric Festival

Ludlow Book-Feast and Bun-Fight

I had been looking forward to the Ludlow Esoteric Conference and Book Fair for several months. It did not disappoint, although the entertainment and lessons came in unexpected ways!

The Green Witch has given a very fair assessment of the lectures that day, including a good summary of the nasty little showdown at the end of Ken Rees’ lecture. I too have signed up for The Regency discussion group, and look forward to hearing more about it.

The research I did prior to the conference as background for the lectures oddly took some of the interest out of the lectures for me. The first talk on John Dee and Edward Kelley’s travels told me nothing new, although I enjoyed looking at the copious slides (even though one person said it was a poor excuse for showing the family’s holiday pics 😉 ). I think my stamina has waned in some respects and I find it quite tedious now to sit through a lecture unless the speaker is brilliantly interesting as Guy Ogilvy was last year (I could have listened to him talking about alchemy for hours and only felt more rejuvenated not exhausted by his speaking). And yet I can read for a day and always feel immensely satisfied; writers do not necessarily make speakers, and speakers do not necessarily do justice to their subject matter. Although I did enjoy Ken Rees’ talk – an entertaining, balanced and academic view – not something we see often in the pagan world. I will certainly attend more conferences (it’s good for my soul like metaphysical porridge and green tea!) but ultimately I shall always prefer a book which I can put down every now and then to make a cup of tea or cuddle the rat (that is not a euphemism, I do mean cuddle the rat!). As such I was happy to abandon the main part of the day’s lectures in favour of getting to know Arnemetia and Mereth better. This was personally a more valuable and nourishing experience than any lecture. I was overwhelmed that day by the care shown to me by my dear Green Witch, as well as Arnemetia and Mereth, who (although we have communicated for over a year) were meeting me in the flesh for the first time. I have rarely encountered such genuine kindness, and it did my spirit good. Apart from which, days out with the Green Witch are always Good Days.

It was interesting that my urge to protect myself psychically for the conference – an urge which had pestered me for a few days – was justified. There was one rather toxic lady there who was leaking nastiness. I sat near her at one point and spent a lot of my time shielding from her. The last thing I wanted was to draw her attention and thankfully I slipped under her radar. It’s always worth trusting your instinct and setting up protections – it’s better to be protected and not need it, than unprotected and covered in someone else’s psychic ooze!

One major highlight was the book fair. I heard one man say that the Ludlow Conference was his excuse to buy occult books for the year, and I can well understand why. Throughout the year I scan second-hand bookshop shelves for occult books of interest. Generally I buy what I find, but this book fair (a modest 5 stalls) was a collection of gems that made it difficult to choose. If I had found any one in isolation in a bookshop I would have been pleased, so to see so many in one room was utterly bibliorgasmic for me! My library on Egyptian magic/spirituality/mythology is expanding nicely. Once I have my core list of titles I shall be setting up an intense reading/re-reading schedule. The results will be formulated in my very own book of Egyptian Magic, a sourcebook for me to use and peruse. I can’t wait … well, actually, I can, because I know the journey is going to be just as enjoyable as the destination.

A very satisfying day in all. Some interesting ideas bandied around between the Green Witch and Mereth (which I hope come to fruition, to the benefit of us all). Next stop the Thelemic Symposium in Oxford and then Witchfest International!

© starofseshat 2008


Ludlow Esoteric Conference & Occult Book Fair

This post relates to the Ludlow Esoteric Conference & Occult Book Fair which is now in its fifth year.

Since some of my fellow attendees are pushed for time, I thought I would put together a few notes for us on the subjects that will be covered by the speakers, merely as a “heads-up” for what we can expect.

Hope it’s useful 🙂

 

Speakers:
Tracy Thursfield – Eliphas Levi & The French Occult Revival
Robin Cousins – The Travels of John Dee (Illustrated talk)
Julia Phillips – Madeline Montalban
Ken Rees – The Regency
Alan Richardson – W.G.Gray

 

 

Eliphas Lévi was born Alphonse Louis Constant in France, 1810 – 1875.

Lévi studied at a Catholic seminary where a lesson on animal magnetism and the devil, positing that the vital energy of the body is controlled by the devil, sparked his interest in things occult. He became a deacon in 1835, but not a priest, and was later excommunicated for his left-wing political views.

“Magus Eliphas Lévi” became his pen name and is a translation of his own name into Hebrew. He made a comfortable living from writing and giving occult lessons. His most popular work is entitled Transcendental Magic, originally translated by Arthur Edward Waite of the Golden Dawn.

Lévi believed there was a universal secret doctrine of magic spanning all parts of the world, traceable back through history.

To some he is best known for his work on the alleged deity of the Knights Templar, the Baphomet, the image of which usualy fronts Transcendental Magic. Lévi‘s Baphomet (a goat-headed man/woman) was a symbol for him of the absolute, an expression of dualistic nature in the combination of both male and female qualities.

His writings had a big impact on Arthur Edward Waite, S.L. MacGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley (who claimed to be the reincarnation of Lévi and gave a nod to Baphomet with his moniker The Beast).

Interestingly, he was apparently the first to incorporate the goat-headed face of Baphomet into the inverted pentagram, attributing evil to this “new” symbol, and separating the pentagram’s meaning into upright as good, and inverted as evil.

 

You can download free books by Eliphas Lévi at:

Occult Underground

 

References:

Templar History

Contravorscial [sic]

Mystica

 

John Dee 1527 – 1608

English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I and suspected government spy with the code name “007” (later assumed by Ian Fleming for his character James Bond).

The latter part of his life he devoted almost exclusively to magic, alchemy and Hermetic philosophy. Specifically he sought contact with angels through a scryer (as he himself found contacting spirits too tiring). His greatest success was through Edward Kelley whose prolific angelic contacts dictacted several books including that of the Enochian or angelic language.

The relationship between Dee and Kelley broke up not long after Kelley’s pronouncement that Uriel had ordered him and Dee to share their wives! Dee orginally obeyed this command as coming from God but eventually the strain of the situation took its toll.

Dee was a Christian, preluding the angelic communications with much praying and fasting. He believed that numbers were the key to knowledge and that creation is an act of numbering; consequently his kabbalistic angel magic and practical mathematical work were one and the same for him and posed no opposition to each other.

His popular work The Monas Heiroglyphica was a discourse on a symbol created by Dee believed to be the ultimate symbol of occult knowledge.

Dee was accused of being a wizard in 1604 and sought protection under King James I. This suspicion was long harboured as shown by the attack on his home by a mob in 1583. The mob destroyed an extensive library and occult instruments.

He died in poverty aged 81.

 

You can download free books by John Dee at:

Occult Underground

 

References:

Mysterious Britain

Wikipedia – John Dee

 

I haven’t been able to find much information on Madeline Montalban, inspite of her apparent importance.

Also known as Dolores North, she was one of the 20th century’s most significant female magicians.

She knew Aleister Crowley and mixed with other occultists of the 1930s but formed her own path of magic. She founded the Order of the Morning Star around 1945. To this day it still offers correspondance courses; a large part of the curriculum focuses on angelic magic. In her teachings, she emphasized that magic is a practical tool, and that results would follow in the wake of applying her methods.

She wrote monthly articles on Tarot (her speciality) in a publication called Prediction.

She died in 1982.

 

Reference:

Sheridan Douglas

The Regency was a magical group working in the 1960s and ’70s in which Ken Rees, the speaker, was involved.

Robert Cochrane was a practising witch apparently initiated into an entirely different hereditary lineage to Gerald Gardner. He formed his own coven called the “Clan of Tubal Cain”. Also known as the Royal Windor Cuveen, it was this group that disbanded after Cochrane’s apparent ritual suicide at Samhain in 1966 and reformed under the leadership of Ronald White as The Regency. The group also included Doreen Valiente. The group’s rituals were often more dramatically pagan than formalistically high ritual magic. They operated for over twelve years and disbanded finally in 1978. This secretive group was important to the development of Wicca, although unheard of by most.

 

Reference:

History of Wicca by Julia Phillips

 

William G. Gray (1913 – 1992) was a British occultist and founder of the magical order of the Sangreal Sodality, a magical association, founded on the Western Mystery Tradition. Their rituals appear very Christianocentric. Quoting Witchvox:

“There is one noteworthy distinction between the type of sacrifice offered by members of the Sangreal Sodality in their Mass and the sacrifice offered by conventional Christian services. In Christian practice, bread and wine are either regarded as being transubstantiated into the actual body and blood of a Redeemer Figure or they are used to memorialize symbolically the last meal shared by that Redeemer and his personal disciples. Within the Sangreal Sacrament these elements signify the body and blood of every person sharing the sacrament either directly or in spirit alone. The life forces of Sangreal Sodality Initiates are offered up to the Divine Entity they invoke and invite among them during their Rite of Light.”

Witchvox

Gray placed high value on the use of magic for personal development. He viewed contact with higher beings as a way to pursue good and avoid evil in the world.

For more information on the Sangreal Sodality:

Sangreal Sodality