Anabasis II (Theriomorphosis and Theomorphosis) – Encyclopedia Hermetica: A Big History (Part 47)

Anabasis II (Theriomorphosis and Theomorphosis) – Encyclopedia Hermetica: A Big History (Part 47)

Welcome one and all to Encyclopedia Hermetica:
A Big History, Part 47. Today we’re going to be picking up where
we left off last lecture where we started talking about a motif which would become extremely
important in the history of Hermeticism, and that’s the motif of the ascent to the heavens,
or as I’ve been calling it, the anabasis motif. There’s all kinds of literature, in the
Corpus Hermeticum, in the Nag Hammadi Library – in late antique stuff that we can’t
get into yet – that is also concerned with this motif. So I figured it would be good to go on reading
and rambling about a great variety of precursors to this fascinating literary motif in the
mythology Ancient Mediterranean world. I think most of you know about Joseph Campbell,
and how in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces he talks about how the monomythical
so-called “Universal Hero” who inevitably passes through a stage of Apotheosis (that
is, divinization, attainment to godhood). Campbell associated this state with the expanded
state of consciousness which the archetypical hero experiences after overcoming chaos – it
could be you, it could be me, but the point is, it’s not everybody. A hero, by definition, is set apart from the
world on account of their Kleos, their glory. Now whether I agree with Campbell that there
even is such a thing as an Ur-myth, or monomyth, or Universal Hero, and that it’s not just
a case of him cherry-picking a reconstruction in accordance with his own pre-set ideals
– that’s another issue altogether (same goes with Frazer, Jung, Eliade, and the rest
of them). I just want to highlight that there are numerous
myths which do contain this apotheosis motif (and a lot more that don’t!), but it’s
worth giving some consideration to myths that do for the sake of context building in the
Hermetic Worldview. I think when most people think of ascension,
they think of Jesus in the book of Acts, or other examples in the Old Testament I described
earlier like Elijah, but it’s surprising how many more individuals have been described
as ascending towards their gods, whether temporarily or permanently. We’re going to focus more on Greco-Roman
pagan stories today than we did last time (though we did prematurely go through Scipio’s
Dream together last time). Then I’ll talk about a few observations
in the differences between Pagan and Hebrew or Judeo-Christian angles. OK so the first example of mine is one of
the most well-known examples in antiquity, and it pertains to Herakles, the son of God
– Zeus, that is – the god who cucked Amphitryon, the King of Thebes, by impregnating his wife. He was actually venerated as a full-on god
in numerous temples throughout Greece and Italy, and is best known for his 12 Labours
(killing lots of monsters, getting the “golden apples” of the Garden of Hesperides, going
to the underworld and back, etc.). During Herakles’ final adventures, he killed
the centaur Nessus for trying to rape his wife Deianira, but with his dying breath the
centaur told Deianira that his blood could serve as a love potion (…when in reality
it was basically acid, that is, the kind that melts your face, not your mind). Now, believing this love-blood would strengthen
her relationship, she smeared a cloak with it and gave it to Herakles as a gift. Then, the moment he put on the cloak, it grafted
to his skin and his flesh began to burn as if he’d been the victim of one of these
horrible acid attacks we’ve been seeing going on recently. Now since he could feel that he was dying
and wanted to end the pain, he asked to be taken to the tallest peak of the mount Oiti
(just above the city of Delphi) to be burnt on a pyre whilst still alive. So they get him on the pyre and burn him alive,
and sure enough his mortal body perishes, but it’s as if his higher spiritual self
emerges from the burning body and flutters up into the heavens to be taken up by the
gods. Now remember, most people just went to Hades. Not Herakles. Herakles was half-divine, he had a mortal
portion which suffered and died, and he had a divine portion, which escaped the body and
now dwells among the immortals. Well there would come a time, a time far removed
from mythic time, when this idea would be democratised. Its earliest inklings were probably in Egypt,
as the practices initially dedicated to conferring immortality to the Pharaohs began to spread
among the priests and other elites – though perhaps the idea was independently developed
elsewhere. Over centuries, this ‘democratization of
divinization’ trickled down and became the ‘inner divine flame’ or ‘spark’ or
‘soul’ in all mankind, as taught by the mysteries, the Platonists, the Gnostics, the
Stoics, and the Christians. …But in illo tempore – in mythic time,
in the time of Herakles, if everyone was special, nobody was special – and clearly there was
something about Herakles which set him apart from regular mortals, and that’s why he
got to go up instead of down like everyone else – so *wink wink nudge nudge* be like
him, and maybe the same thing will happen to you, though let’s face it, not even Achilles,
who is also a demigod, gets spared from the black vault of Hades – so there must have
been something really special about Herakles to both the Greeks and the Romans from a very
early age. But we’ll see – he’s not the only one
who gets let up for similar reasons, and there are also plenty who get a ticket into heaven
for totally different ones. Alright, so being glorious to the point you
spill over into the divine world, that was one way of doing things. Now THE DIOSKOUROI (or Dioscuri in Latin)
were, to the Greeks, the twin star-crowned gods who manifested themselves to the eye
as a phenomenon called St. Elmo’s fire – this is a weird looking electrical discharge which
appears on the rigging of ships foreshadowing relief from a storm. I’ve even heard one theory that their origins
pertain to mushrooms due to some minutia in their mythology, but I don’t really buy
it. In any case, they were also known as youthful
gods of horsemanship and the guardians of guests and travellers under the protection
of Zeus’ Xenia (the laws which govern guest-host relationships). The myth has it that the twins, named Pollux
and Castor, were born as mortal princes. Now even though they were twins, Pollux (or
Polydeukes in the Greek) was the son of the Spartan queen Leda, who was impregnated after
having been raped by Zeus in the form of a swan, and Castor was the son of her husband
Tyndareus. Polydeukes, being a demigod, was at first
the only one offered the gift of divinity and immortality, but he insisted that it be
shared with his twin Kastor (Castor). Now, they were good kids and mighty heroes
both and all that, and so moved by his son’s love for his brother, Zeus agreed to share
the birthright, but in order to appease the Fates, the twins would have to alternate their
time in heaven and the underworld. If you know the story of Beren and Luthien
from the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (or the story of Aragorn and Arwen),
you’ll see some common parallels between the stories. There are quite a few stories about the theme
of immortality vs. mortality in Greek myth. But anyhow, the Dioscuri underwent apotheosis
and were also placed amongst the stars – again, in the literal sky – as the constellation
of Gemini (which just means the Twins in Latin). Now taking this into account, the division
of their time between the world above and the world below doubles as a reference to
the heavenly cycles, since Gemini is only visible in the sky for half
the year. Now here’s another little story about the
mytheme of the gods’ immortality versus human mortality. Now the goddess who destroys her mortal lover
is also a mytheme as old as written language itself. According to the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite,
Eos (that Rosy-Fingered Dawn Homer is always talking about) asked Zeus to make her mortal
lover Tithonus an immortal, and so he did, but she’d forgotten to ask that he also
be granted eternal youth. This is one of those “Be Careful What You
Wish For” stories. Tithonus lived forever, and I quote: “but
when loathsome old age pressed full upon him, and he could not move nor lift his limbs,
this seemed to her in her heart the best counsel: she laid him in a room and put to the shining
doors. There he babbles endlessly, and no more has
strength at all, such as once he had in his supple limbs.” In later retellings of this story, Tithonus
gets so old that he shrivels smaller and smaller until he shrivels into a cicada, eternally
living, but screaming throughout eternity for death to overcome him. So this is a warning story to those mortals
who would aspire to immortality or godhood – could you really handle it? If you weren’t born a god, would you just
go insane and shrivel into a gibbering insect in the presence of the gods? Probably. Eternal life was not for most Greeks – people
got tired, man. That’s why for many it was better to go
down in a blaze of glory than to live out your old age in peace and quiet – the old
Achilles vs. Odysseus debate. But I digress, let’s get back to some more
instances of divine rapture. Now here we’re going to get some literal
rapture going– remember, rapture, raptor, rape – all these English words come from
the Latin ‘rapere’ (to snatch away), and though there wasn’t intrinsically a sexual
connotation to it, in most instances pertaining to mythology, you bet there’s a violent
sexual dimension to it, or that there’s top-down coercion going on from incalculably
different positions of power. I don’t know what it is about the Greek
gods, but they are constantly raping, left, right, and center – male gods abducting
female gods, female gods abducting male gods, male gods abducting male gods, in various
animal forms, and so on and so forth – not only that, but they often end up killing
them for some reason or another. I don’t know what it is, but you get this
kind of stuff in the Semitic world as well in sources as early as the Epic of Gilgamesh
(when he rejects the advances of Ishtar/Inanna because she destroys all her lovers). Thing that’s weird is that it’s often
in the form of birds… which is not surprising because birds (especially the big ones) have
pretty violent sex lives, to say nothing of, say, eagles’ literal mode of foraging food
by snatching up animals and dropping them from great heights. I think the motif probably goes back into
the deep Indo-European and Pre-Indo-European past where you couldn’t just marry someone
in your immediate tribe, so most, if not all marriages were preceded by a kind of grab’n’bag
(or ritualized kidnapping – this kind of stuff even continues to happen to this day
in remote parts of Central Asia – go read about it, it’s called Bride Kidnapping). I can’t even begin to innumerate the amount
of examples that would support this hypothesis, but maybe it’d make a good project for someone
else’s dissertation someday, if it hasn’t already been done (which it probably has – Sub
Sole Nihil Novi Est). OK so GANYMEDE was a handsome Trojan (aka
Phrygian) prince who was snatched away to heaven by Zeus in the shape of an eagle. There he’s appointed as the “cup-bearer”
of the gods (which is, let’s say, a rather euphemistic term for a “boy-toy”). His name is literally a pun with the double
meaning “Gladdening Prince” and “Gladdening Genitals” based off Greek words ganumai
“gladdening”, and mêdon or medeôn, “prince” or “genitals.” I think everyone listening to this knows the
Greeks had a totally different conception of how homosexuality, pedophilia, and so forth
were culturally delineated, and this sort of relationship was not frowned upon or even
uncommon – but if you do a Google image search for Ganymede and Zeus, you might be
unsettled by some of the results; these would become the kinds of artistic themes that just
drove the Catholic Church wild for centuries, not that they’re innocent. But anyhow, Young Trojan princes are some
of the gods’ favourite objects of kidnapping, and I imagine it has something to do with
the emphasis that Thracian religion had put on ecstatic experiences, as perceived by the
Greeks (remember, Phrygians were of Thracian stock, hence why Greeks and Trojans were mutually
intelligible to one another). Ultimately, we again with Ganymede get this
apotheosis story where he becomes a literal constellation in the literal sky as Aquarius,
the water-bearer (near to him being his ambrosial mixing cup as the constellation Crater, and
the Zeus-Eagle as the constellation Aquila). Now, before Antinoous was a thing, Ganymede
was often depicted to symbolize a kind of god of homosexual love and as thus often appears
in art playing around with Eros (Erotic Love) and Hymenaeus (Marital Love). In sculpture and mosaic art, he’s usually
got a shepherd’s crook and a Phrygian cap. Another story I want to take a quick look
at is that of ARIADNE, who was abandoned on the island of Naxos by Theseus on his return
to Athens from Crete, after which she was abducted and made immortal by the god of ecstasy,
of out-of-body experiences, Dionysos. Now there are a handful of versions of her
story you can find spread throughout the extant classical literature, but I’m only going
to talk about one because it’s currently the most well-known one. In this version, Ariadne is the daughter of
King Minos of Crete, who betrays her father to assist the Athenian hero Theseus during
his quest to slay the Minotaur. She gives him her thread, and he uses it to
get back out of the labyrinth. In any case, he repays her by taking her aboard
his ship. They take a stop on Naxos, where she falls
asleep and Theseus abandons her. She wakes up, freaks out – I mean she’s
a princess who had everything and now she’s abandoned on a deserted island after betraying
her family for a man who didn’t give a shit about her. It was then that Dionysus came upon her and
quote-unquote “made her his wife.” This was a popular scene in classical art. Greek vases often depict Ariadne as the bride
of Dionysus, whether feasting with the gods of Olympos or in more rustic scenes surrounded
by raving maenads and satyrs. Now in a different version, in a parallel
universe, Ariadne is slain by Perseus, and Dionysus was to descend into the underworld
to rescue her and return her to Olympus, so we get this Orphic katabasis motif also intertwined
with this story. I’d like to take a second to speculate on
what this entails, however. What does it mean to be abducted by Dionysus,
the Zeus of Mount Nysa. Did she commit suicide? Did she ingest some plant trying to survive
and had a mystical experience? Did she lament her way into hyperspace? Or perhaps is this more a statement about
Dionysus? That he comes like a reaper to take away the
world’s dejected, lost, and abandoned. There’s definitely something going on under
this story that echoes the motif of the “sacred prostitute” who was ritually given over
to the “divine bridegroom” in numerous permutations of Near Eastern myth and ritual. But in any case, there’s a whole lot you
can read into a myth like this one, and it’s always hard to nigh well impossible to pin
down what it meant down to the Greeks, because even to them myths were polysemous, that is,
they were multilayered in their meanings, and not all meanings were evenly apprehended
by all. Like I said last lecture, there are numerous
layers of interpretation, and you can hardly get two people to agree on what, say, the
literal meaning of a myth is, what the allegorical meaning is, what the revealed meaning is,
or the Marxist interpretation, or whatever, so to some extent, myths like these will always
remain shrouded in mystery, but that doesn’t make them any less interesting as repositories
of a culture’s collective unconscious. Alright, lastly I think I’m going to discuss
ASCLEPIUS, because not only does he fit into this apotheosis mytheme, he also fits into
the grand narrative of Hermeticism – one of the most important texts in the Corpus
Hermeticum is called “To Asclepius” and it’s a dialogue between Hermes Trismegistus
and Asclepius about the nature of the whole cosmos – it’s the dialogue between the
Caduceus and the Asclepian Staff. In any case, Asclepius was the son of Apollo,
who as you know was the god of healing and plague, music, prophecy, and the Sun. Taking after his father, Asclepius was chiefly
venerated as a god of drugs and medicine, but also of dreams, prophecies, snakes, healing
springs, and that sort of thing. Asclepius’ mother had been the mortal Trikkaian
princess Koronis, who quote-unquote “died in labour” (i.e. shot by Artemis’ arrows). As her body was being laid out on the pyre,
Apollo (or in some other stories, Hermes) cut the unborn child from her womb, hence
the name Asklepios which means “to cut open.” Asklepios was raised by the centaur Chiron
who instructed him in the art of mixing drugs and medicines, what with being a forest dweller,
privy to all its lore. Asklepios grew so skilled in the craft that
he eventually found a kind of elixir of immortality by which he could restore the dead to life. And it was this crime against the natural
order that lead to his demise – I mean even Zeus has to ask permission from the Fates
to overturn death, and that was not in the cards for Apollo’s son, and so Zeus destroyed
him with a thunderbolt for his hybris. There isn’t a Greek tragedy about this incident,
but there should be, because the story has a real “Prometheus Bound” Vibe to it that
I really like. Now there were two traditions in ancient times
as to how Asclepius could return people from the dead – and for this too I’ve actually
heard some shroomy origin theories that I find (in these particular cases) interesting
based on my own knowledge (one theory from Carl Ruck, one from Terence McKenna) – according
to the one version (Apollodorus’), Asclepius had received Gorgon’s blood from Athena
(Goddess of Wisdom) which could bring people back from the dead – Carl Ruck seems to
think the whole gorgon-medusa thing has everything to do with mushroom cultivation rituals. According to another tradition, the one which
was discussed by Terence McKenna, Asclepius was shut up in the house of Glaucus (whose
name means Blue-Grey), whom he was to cure. While standing around one day, lost in thought
as to how he was going to cure Glaucus, there came a serpent which twined round his staff,
which he promptly killed. ***Another serpent, however, came carrying
in its mouth “an herb” (or fungi?) with which it resuscitated the other, and Aesculapius
henceforth made use of the same “herb” with the same effect upon men. Fearing lest men might gradually figure out
a way to escape death altogether, and getting complaints from Hades that there weren’t
enough newcomers coming on down, Zeus put an end to Asclepius’ mortal part. Now, after his death by bolt of glory, Asklepios
rose up to the stars and was immortalized among them as the constellation Ophiochus
(“the Serpent Holder”). Asklepios was often depicted as a kindly,
bearded Pythagorean-looking man holding a staff entwined by a single serpent, and although
he is largely absent from vase paintings, his statues are quite common, and even more
common are objects dedicated to him at his holy sites (so for example, if you broke a
leg, you’d of left a mock leg with devotional inscriptions on it, or hands, or eyes, or
whatever, in gratitude for having been healed by the god). Aesculapius was worshipped all over Greece,
and many towns claimed the honour of being his birthplace. His temples were typically built on hills
outside the town, out in the fresh air, and near wells which were supposed to have healing
powers. Asclepian temples were not just places of
worship, but were frequented by great numbers of sick persons, and may therefore be considered
the earliest hospitals in the world. The chief seat of his worship was at Epidauros,
where he had a temple within which no one was allowed to die nor to give birth. I kind of get a kick out of the idea that
you’re not allowed to die somewhere, but alright. Now these kinds of temples, especially at
Epidauros, were filled with living, moving, wriggling, slithering snakes, sacred to the
worshiper of Aesculapius. It’s often speculated it’s because they
were a symbol of wisdom and regeneration, but I would argue that it’s because snakes
were inextricably intertwined (in Greek Natural Philosophy, or just plain folk-knowledge)
with medicinal plants, to the extent that they thought snakes got their very own venom
from plants. This isn’t true of course, but it doesn’t
change the reason behind why even today our symbol for health care and pharmaceuticals
is a serpent-entwined staff. For whatever reason, various kinds of tame
serpents, in which Epidaurus abounded, were kept in his temple ALL OVER THE PLACE, and
what you would do if you were ill was go to this temple for an “incubation”. From what I can gather, you would say down
on the marble floor in some corner of the temple, in a room full of free-roaming snakes,
you’d be given what I presume to be a preparation of opium, then you’d lay down all night
in an opium reverie with snakes crawling all over and around you, you would have all manner
of crazy visions (of the god in serpent form or otherwise), and that’s how you communed
with the healing powers of Asclepius. There were certain rules prescribed by the
priests to undertake this ritual, but this is how the remedies for diseases were discovered:
in a dream. This sort of stuff continues to this day with
shamanic healers. Those whom the god cured of their disease
offered a sacrifice to him, generally in the form of a cock. This is why when Socrates committed suicide
to spite the city of Athens, he said “I owe a cock to Asclepius” just before he
died, as if to say “thank you for healing me of the disease that is life.” These last words are what made Nietzsche despise
Plato… but I won’t get into this here. (Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography
and Mythology.) I suppose here would be a good place to talk
about some stark differences between the Greek and the Hebrew ideas of anabasis, going to
heaven, divine rapture, apotheosis, or whatnot. Now when it came to the pagan conception of
being brought to Olympus, to dine on nectar and ambrosia among the gods, it was either
because you were just overwhelmingly glorious, or because the gods wanted to… let’s say
“come upon you”. It’s almost a 50%/50% split, even though these
shouldn’t necessarily be thought of in mutually exclusive categories. Some individuals are thought glorious for
their deeds, others for their beauty. In any case, what’s obviously going on is
that there’s a certain propinquity one gets to the gods (in some category or other) and
that leads to a sort of rupture of planes – the interworlds rip open and the one who
is most like the immortals become themselves immortal. This sort of modality of thinking inspired
people to be godlike in their lives and deeds, and this is another reason there are so many
moralizing tales about individuals who thought themselves better than the gods (folks like
Marsyas, who gets flayed alive because he thinks he’s a better musician than Apollo,
or Arachne who gets turned into a spider because she thought she was a better weaver than Athena). It was a fine line to tread – as the Delphic
maxims go: “Know thyself” but likewise: “Nothing in excess.” The Greeks were highly aware of the concept
of Hybris. Now in the Hebrew tradition, especially with
the prophets in the Old Testament, having a revelation from God is all about their piety
and asceticism. When I say piety, what I mean is attention
and dutifulness to the Laws passed down by God. They are the only righteous men in a sea of
lost sheep (at least from their perspective). It’s their very denial of the world they
live in – their self-abnegation – that triggers their “rupture of plane.” Now note how these are the two extremes which
the Buddha ultimately rejects: extreme asceticism, and extreme aestheticism (please be wary of
the extreme differences between these two words, despite the fact they sound so similarly
– one has to do with rejecting the body, the other with enshrining it) – the Buddha,
however, was not after these kinds of experiences we’re talking about – to a Buddha, this
is all more Maya, more of the phenomenal world – gods are elevated beings (worthy of respect)
but they are ultimately trapped within samsara along with all the rest of us. Now something that I want to mention, is that
it’s this Near-Eastern tradition (the piety and asceticism one) that won over the West
– you can thank the desert fathers, you can thank Simeon the Stylite, you can thank
St. Augustine, or whoever you’d like, but with time, the pagan ideal of heroic apotheosis
was squashed and swept under the rug. The God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac didn’t
want to have sex with you. He didn’t want you as his quote-unquote
“cupbearer” – he wants you to become like Him – to deny desire, and to squelch
the animal natures in man. He didn’t reveal himself to great heroes
like Herakles or Romulus, but to humble cud-eating ascetics like Ezekiel. This is why Jesus is a carpenter, and not
a prince. No, the God of Abraham revealed himself to
the humble, to the lowly, to the slave, or the water-maid – to those who conceived
of themselves as a thread woven into some greater tapestry, not as a bright shining
ego. And for better or for worst (remember there’s
an infinity of ways we can look at this historical change), it was the meak who would inherit
the earth, because the strong had their day in the sun, and their time was over. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I don’t want to be talking about 4th-8th
century Anno Domini issues when we haven’t even come close to the period of said Dominus’
life. Still, as we approach the life of Jesus more
and more with every lecture, we’re getting to see the historical context of his life
fleshed out more and more – particularly the competing attitudes, especially between
the Hellenic and the Judaic modes, of “doing religion.”  
Alright – so finally, I need to close with an announcement that some of you may have
heard, though most of you probably haven’t. I’ve just been accepted into PhD program
in History, and that’ll be starting in September 2017. My official fields so to speak will be “Early
Modern History” (i.e. Renaissance, Reformation, etc.), “Medieval
History,” and the “History of Science” – with any luck these specialties will come
in handy looking for a job later on in life, but in any case, if I want to study Hermeticism
formally, these are the subjects I would want to take anyways. Remember, Hermeticism was largely a phenomenon
pertaining to its reception, particularly during the Renaissance. Now, here’s a part of my proposal which
I had sent in to describe what I want to work on… My purpose in applying to the this program
is to advance my study into how the recovery and translation of the Hermetic texts from
Late Antiquity into Renaissance Latin played a role in shaping the evolution of Humanism. Hermeticism is an amalgam of Hellenistic,
Persian, Babylonian, and Egyptian natural and religious philosophies which survived
among the eccentric fringes of the European and Arabic intellectual traditions throughout
the Middle Ages until taking on its most sophisticated form following the translations and interpretations
of the Italian Renaissance intellectuals Marsilio Ficino, Ludovico Lazzarelli, Francesco Patrizi,
and Giordano Bruno. As a loosely defined system of thought, Hermeticism
incorporated a handful of ancient sciences such as alchemy, astrology, medicine, and
theurgy. These sciences, despite some of their epistemologically
naïve assumptions about the physical nature of reality, stand in retrospect as major stepping
stones on the path toward modern science. In so far as alchemy was a laboratory-bound
practice centered upon the manipulation of base metals into higher states, it was the
direct antecedent of modern chemistry. Astrology, keeping judgements aside regarding
its modern uses and abuses, is likewise the forebear of contemporary astronomy, horology,
and mathematics. The same may even be said of ancient magic
or theurgy, which – in as much as it was concerned with mapping and altering consciousness
– was in a sense the predecessor of modern depth psychology. With all teleological presumptions aside,
however, these unique phenomena were vital, in and of themselves, to the intellectual
richness of the ancient, medieval, and pre-modern world and are thus worthy subjects for deeper
historical inquiry and contextual analysis. Hermeticism straddled many civilizations across
time and space spanning from Egypt and Greece, to the Roman Empire, the medieval Arab world,
Renaissance Europe, and beyond. It was a field of research carried out in
many languages, and it has been a subject of special interest to many key thinkers throughout
history, from Zosimus of Panopolis to Paracelsus and Isaac Newton. It was modern research into Hermeticism which
was so critical in revealing the fundamental interconnectedness of all pre-modern science,
philosophy, and religion, and the gradual changes which slowly disentangled each of
these disciplines from one another over the centuries. So that’s the gist of what I’ll be studying
over the next 4 years or so, in addition to the usual kind of stuff (coursework, TAing,
or marking, or whatnot); now what this means for this Encyclopedia Hermetica series is
that it’s going to be put on hold indefinitely – now that doesn’t mean I’m going to
stop making content, it just means it’s going to slow down and become much tighter
and more rigorous. Here I tend to just use a few books from my
shelf or some websites as quick references then write a script up as if I were just talking
off the cuff – I’m more like a librarian than anything – and that’s definitely
not how I operate within the academic world, where everything I use is either primary source
material, or material taken from peer reviewed journals or monographs printed strictly by
University Presses – no digressions, no speculations, no dives into hyperspace, just
the story that the sources can corroborate… Now this news may come as a disappointment
to some, but alas, it is what it is. I’ve been working toward this my whole life,
and I’m happy to see it finally working out. I don’t want to rule out new material entirely,
of course, it’s just unlikely to be Encyclopedia Hermetica stuff on account of my many new
responsibilities working in a university department. Obviously I’ll be doing a lot more reading
and writing, so when I get back at it, I’ll have more to share on the history of Hermeticism,
I’ll have books published, and I’ll be on firmer footing to take up where we left
off. And with that ladies and gentlemen, you’ve
been listening to Encyclopedia Hermetica: A Big History, and I’m Dan Attrell.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. I can't seem to find the artist for the artwork by doing a reverse google image search, so if anyone knows, please post…

  2. 7:47 minutes in: Dan denies a theory about psychedelics.
    Might as well buy a lottery ticket now, the universe is adrift.

  3. Congratulations on the doctoral program!

    Lots to ruminate upon here, as always…

    I got a hold of your book, and have read it. I have some questions, but perhaps they'd best be addressed via e-mail.

  4. Congratulations on being accepted into the PhD Dan. All the best moving forward! Thanks for all your efforts so far and I look forward to seeing how things will develop from here.

  5. Love it dude. Keep going.

    When you finish the series you should write a book and re-recorded an abridged version of the audio. I would for sure buy it as a set.

  6. Yes, congrads on your PhD program. Too bad that so many books remain unaccesible to public. It is exciting embarking on such study; I read a popular book which had alchemy related stories" The White Road" by Edmund de Waal. he follows porcelin history to many countries; I am amazed really , that many of these hermetic books survive. Well, of course those books are not in english…so !?!? I'm glad you can read them. So many old languages…. It's a great lecture, this! thank you.

  7. Though I am happy to hear you are properly following your intent; your regular infusions of wisdom will be sorely missed. Never have I found such a young man with such a wizened outlook. I appreciate learning from you. My best to you in all your endeavours. I look forward to the future Mr. Atrell rising as a phoenix from his doctorate to continue his education and the education of those so inclined. Bravo, Sir.

  8. Congrats Man. I made it to the end of all of these. Thanks again for all of your efforts. The Million Dollar question is do the psychodelics allow you to see what's already there? Or is it all just chemicals and your mind creating the phenomenon? I know it seems real. Are we even ment to know. Still this work is so valuable because real or not it still shapes are reality.

  9. Thanks on your work for "Encyclopedia Hermetica" – almost too bad you're going to Academia that will force you to regurgitate the "allowed" knowledge and stroke the "lies agreed upon" known as official history

  10. I'm sad. 🙁 I listened to this whole playlist in like a week.. </3
    Good thing you have many other things on your channel.

  11. I enjoyed these talks so much, I felt a bit wistful they were coming to a close. (Fortunately for me, there's still other content coming out and playlists I have yet to hit). I am so appreciative of the time you take to make these and that you make them available for people like me to find. I value your insights and thoughts on these fascinating subjects and time periods. It has been of great help to me and a pleasure. I have a crush on what I have glimpsed of your mind…

  12. Amazing lecture, thank you. But, I would like to say that you've forgotten a very important myth's figure: Tiresias. Although we can't say he was subject of proper deification, he is immortal and blessed by Juno Avernal. He is One in the house of Many. Whit him, we can say that wisdom can lead us to salvation, to immortality, to dwell with the Gods, not in the Olimpos or in the Island of the Blessed but somewhere else. Later on, people would surely believe that not only righteousness and piety leads to salvation, but wisdom above all.

  13. Beautiful lecture series, Dan. Congratulations on your acceptance, and I hope all is going well right now. Looking forward to the next entry in this important series. I must admit it’s changed my perspective on many aspects of my life like few other things have. Will continue enjoying other content you upload.

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