Patterns of Magicity: A review of Defining Magic: A Reader (eds. Otto & Stausberg; Equinox, 2013) – part 1

Defining Magic cover Stausberg Otto[This blog post is a little milestone: it is the first official review of a book sent to me by the publisher for being reviewed directly at Heterodoxology. (Yes, publishers, I am open to suggestions like that!) Since the book was of great interest to me, and touches on issues that occupy me at the moment – and since the blog format allows me to say whatever I want and as much of it as I’d like – it has ended up more like a review article than a book review. Hence I will publish it here in three parts. The full pdf version (only slightly modified) is available from my Academia page. For convenience and ease of sharing. So on we go!]

Review: Bernd-Christian Otto and Michael Stausberg (eds.) Defining Magic: A Reader. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2013. 281 pages.

[Part 1 of 3]

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Hermetic feminism revisited

Yesterday I recommended Joyce Pijnenburg’s excellent discussion of Cornelius Agrippa and the Hermetic/Platonic/Kabbalistic influence on Renaissance feminism. Today, Sarah Veale of Invocatio added some reflections on what the ancient hermetic sources actually have to say about women. The argument is that the Hermetica had to be read rather selectively for Agrippa to find support for his proto-feminist project. In other words: here, as elsewhere, we must clearly separate the Hermetica from the hermeticists of the Renaissance. This point, of course, is always valid when we are dealing with reception, particularly in the case of normative projects in religion or philosophy. It’s little use  reading the gospels alone if one wants to  find out what various Christian denominations of today actually preach. And it’s foolish to expect contemporary ethicists who (sometimes) identify as neo-Aristotelians (say, Martha Nussbaum) to buy every detail of Aristotle’s doctrines of the soul, or indeed his views on women.

At any rate – nice to see a discussion taking shape online on esoterica and feminism, which is generally a very little studied topic.

Hermetically opened

Before Christmas, esoterica and hermetica aficionados in Holland and abroad got a nice present: The Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica opened again, after facing complete destruction for a year. Unfortunately I was hindered from attending the opening on December 16 due to teaching obligations, so I have no first-hand experiences to share this time. Apparently the library in Bloemstraat, Amsterdam, was packed full of people, and the new incarnation of the Ritman library got off to a good start. For now, the Ritman family is running the library on their own, keeping the doors open all weekdays as before. There is also a splendidly looking new website. While browsing it, make sure to read Wouter Hanegraaff’s opening lecture, published in the website’s new blog section.

Welcome back!

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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Buying back the Corpus Hermeticum?

Corpus Hermeticum first edition, previoulsy in the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, seen for sale in London. (Picture is of another copy).

As previously announced, much of Mr. Ritman’s collection of hermetica and rosicruciana is returning to Amsterdam. After settling some of the debt with Friesland Bank, everything except the ca. 300 most valuable items were returned to the collector of what used to be the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica.

Yesterday, Brooke S. Palmieri at the bibliophile blog 8vo  reported to have seen several of the BPH incunables at the Olympia Book Fair in London, where they were on display at the stand of Shapero Rare Books. According to Palmieri, among the books displayed was the previously mentioned gem of the BPH, Ficino’s 1471 first edition of (the Latin translation of) the Corpus Hermeticum. I have not been able to find the book in Shapero’s online catalog, and do not know whether any of the old BPH books were traded during the fair. Any news on this would be much appreciated.

Read the story at 8vo.

 

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This blog post by Egil Asprem was first published on Heterodoxology. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.