The Book of Coming forth by Day, Negative Confessions
Self-effacing and self-regulating principles to follow in life to forge an alignment to ‘Truth’ that endures in death, where the journey continues in self-awareness. To know oneself is the key to the mission of all mystics. Reading through these affirmations of innocence is a reality check in a corrupt world where it is all too easy to lose all we strive for.
Thou shalt find to the left of the House of Hades a Well-spring,
And by the side thereof standing a white cypress.
To this Well-spring approach not near.
But thou shalt find another by the Lake of Memory,
Cold water flowing forth, and there are Guardians before it.
Say: "I am a child of Earth and of Starry Heaven;
But my race is of Heaven (alone). This ye know yourselves.
And lo, I am parched with thirst and I perish. Give me quickly
The cold water flowing forth from the Lake of Memory."
And of themselves they will give thee to drink from the holy Well-spring,
And thereafter among the other Heroes thou shalt have lordship. . .
The Mysteries are predicated upon this enigmatic principle of anamnesis – the process of remembering who we are, and how to serve the purpose of our being. Faith in this as a truism sustains us, drives us, and inspires us to self-realisation and the fulfilment of being.
See "Critical Appendix on the Orphic Tablets" contributed by Professor Gilbert Murray to Jane Harrison's Prolegomena to the Study of the Greek Religion, Meridian Books, 2nd printing, 1957, pp. 659-73
The Cumaean Sibyl, by Elihu Vedder
Blown hither by the winds of Fate, the Cumaean Sibyl flees censure clutching the remnants of Sacred Wisdom, the scrolls of the Sibylline Books, tricked by Fate, her legendary beauty diminished in Time until all we have left are her prophetic utterances, scattered by the winds that bore her knowledge to the West. Chthonic guide through the passage of death, the pilgrim must consult her sage words, or be forever lost.
What it means to be Human.
The Night Ocean: A Novel, by Paul LaFarge
It would be misleading to call LaFarge’s novel ‘Lovecraftian’ in the standard and accepted sense – the author’s work doesn’t revolve around the ever-evolving Cthulhu mythos, nor does it lurk in dank tombs or haunt the antediluvian backroads of New England. Instead, The Night Ocean is presented as a work of historical fiction concerning, amongst other notable literary figures, the personal life of H.P. Lovecraft and his young male lover. We uncover this narrative piecemeal through the research of an obsessed, modern-day biographer who believes to have found a credible source in an elderly man who claims to have known about the origins of Lovecraft’s intimate and explicit diary. Yet the truth is often elusive, and perhaps ultimately inconsequential—the beauty and achievement of The Night Ocean is in how it explores what our personal truths amount to, how we so readily build our own mythologies through storytelling, and whether any of it really matters at all. Is truth stranger than fiction, or fiction stranger than truth?
I always have my ears open in search of new forms of ritual music, and actually came across Phurpa quite accidentally when scanning through world music titles on a vinyl site (I saw that this album was released by a sub-label run by Stephen O’Malley of Sunn0))) and Southern Lord Records fame). That aside, the group is made up of a revolving collective of Russian musicians who are inspired by the Bön religion of Tibet and its ritualistic chanting. Trowo Phurnag Ceremony is a deeply hypnotic and transcendental experience, full of churning and guttural, drone-like chanting. It’s something I feel I’ll be returning to again and again.
Surreal, strange, and haunting. That’s how I might begin to summarize the work of Spanish artist Remedios Varo. Her compositions are often otherworldly, not so very distant from a style inextricably associated with Dali, but Varo also veers confidently and knowingly towards magickal and classical alchemical allegory (unsurprising, as she was purported to be a learned alchemist and naturalist herself). There is also a menacing undercurrent to Varo’s work, somewhat reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch, yet it is tempered with a feminine mystique that deserves careful interpretation. Interestingly, Varo was most prolific in the last decade before her death in 1963 – a consideration that implies a certain maturity and technical skill inherent in her paintings.
Dealing with an overconfident individual can be a trying ordeal in itself, but when that overconfidence is undeserved and bolstered by a fundamental lack of related skill, it becomes something entirely different. It’s a phenomenon you may have witnessed (or have even been guilty of at times—I know I have) in a creative, professional, or magickal setting, and it’s actually got a name: The Dunning-Kruger effect.
Named after David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the two social psychologists who identified a disconnect between individual confidence and skill, the Dunning-Kruger Effect identifies those who perform poorly, yet are unable to identify their shortcomings. Rather, they believe themselves to be experts. It’s a fascinating way to view the pitfalls of overconfidence, and a not-so-subtle reminder that humility is generally the best policy.