Posts Tagged ‘the occult’
May 29, 2014 | by Benjamin Breen
John Dee and the occult in California.
Working summers at a Northern California health food co-op brings you into a constellation of eccentrics. The one that stands out in my memory, at a remove of more than a decade, is the old man who dressed as a wizard. His was not some flimsy Halloween affectation—it was a lifestyle, with accessories to match: thick robes of purple velvet stitched with golden stars, a silvery beard, and a hefty wand topped with a crescent moon. In our sole interaction that summer, he entered the co-op around closing and cornered me as I struggled to replace a roll of receipt paper. Peering out from under his pointed hat, he hit me with an intense stare and asked, “You ever done DMT, kid?”
Dimethyltryptamine, you might recall, is a highly potent, short-acting psychedelic alkaloid. It’s the stuff in the bitter Amazonian brew known as ayahuasca, and it’s the reason people lick the backs of Mexican toads to get high. The question surprised me at the time, but it shouldn’t have. Wizards have been asking questions like this for about four hundred years now.
Merlin has long occupied point position in pop culture as our archetypal sorcerer. But John Dee of England, born in 1527, the astrologer to Queen Elizabeth and advisor to Sir Walter Raleigh, was the true founder of the wizardly iconography and mythos. A skilled mathematician, geographer, and inventor, Dee also delved into grimoires, kabbalah, alchemy, and Biblical prophecy. He believed he’d been chosen by God to receive a new divine revelation—angels were sending him a new set of Biblical texts from heaven. And he had a sidekick: Dee believed the ultimate conduit was not himself but his servant, a mysterious ex-con named Edward Kelley, who spoke with the angels through a glass orb that the two called a “shew-stone,” or crystal ball. Read More »
March 24, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- That wild pope of ours—what’s he up to this time? Why, he’s hiring a Japanese tech firm to digitize the whole of the Vatican Library’s archives, of course! It’s almost as if this pontiff wants to make the world a better place.
- Victorian occultists believed in a kind of synesthesia, “the theory that ideas, emotions, and even events, can manifest as visible auras.” Fortunately for all of us, they made many terrific illustrations to support this theory, too.
- A landfill in New Mexico may contain truckload upon truckload of the worst video game of all time: Atari’s 1982 E.T. tie-in.
- After years of trying to sweep him under the rug, atheists are finally talking about Nietzsche again.
- Turkey’s Twitter ban has spawned a new Web site, Mwitter, which is semantically pretty fascinating. (Look for Elif Batuman in the comments section.)
September 6, 2012 | by Amie Barrodale
I have never said anything quite like that before. Now, I have unconventional beliefs. I believe when others tell me they have seen a ghost, particularly if they have details—say, a long nose and a tuxedo, or a suggestion from an old lady that we “touch now, dearie.” But it still sounds like crazy talk. I am aware of that.
“You’re right,” he said.
Then we were both afraid to turn out the light. We were in the Rajmata Suite, where the woman who lived in the hotel used to sleep, back when it was a home. Actually, the correct word is palace. When you turned out the light it was pitch black in the room. In that darkness, I felt—briefly—a unique dread. It was not a menace. Just a funny intimation. To put it into words is to coarsen what was fine: an intimation that one day I would die.