Illuminating the Obscure
  • Rejected Religion

Day 1 of Trans-States: The Art of Deception Conference — Some Reflections

As it is very difficult to post a lot of text on social media, I’m putting this here on my blog. More posts will follow about this conference!

Continuing with Day 1 of Trans- States of the parallel panels I attended, titled "Historicial Perspectives on the Esoteric" (chaired by SHWEP’s Earl Fontainelle) covered various interesting topics!

John-David Kelley gave a deeply engaging talk about the complex relationship between the astrological signs of Mercury and Jupiter, as seen in the figures of Hermes and Apollo. Very informative and full of new ideas and concepts, such as the tension/balance between the chaotic energy of Mercury and the ordering energy of Jupiter, and how their relationship is contingent on performance and re-negotiation. Lots of food for thought. I especially liked the way John-David went deeper into the material.

Free Frame discussed an interesting theory about the alchemist and magician Edward Kelley - that Kelley was perhaps using psychotropic substances (he allegedly had an apothecary background) to trick the nobility into thinking they were communicating with angels. Personal letters and other writings seem to indicate the use of (among other things) an ointment that caused Kelley to have a 'fire in his head'. There's certainly more space for research here, but these findings are intriguing.

Aaron French discussed the influence of Steiner on the astrophysicist J. Allen Hynek, who was involved in Project Sign, run by the US government, to investigate UFOs. I've been interested in this topic for many years, and it was fantastic to see a scholar examining the esoteric/occult history behind the ideas surrounding this phenomenon. The connection between groups such as the Rosicrucians, Steiner & Anthroposophy, and Theosophy and contemporary figures within the "high strangeness" phenomena are not well known (plus we must not forget the stigma attached to anything related to this area), so I truly hope that Aaron will keep digging!

Harper Feist have a fascinating talk about two ritual objects, called the iynx and the strophalos, and how these have been conflated with each other. I had never heard of either object, so I was curious to know more. (The iynx is a 'spinning toy' that was used in ancient love spell/curses. The strophalos was used in rituals.) Harper was also focusing on the suggestion that the objects were used for conjuring or coercing deities, something she asserts never happened in the past. As this information was all completely new to me, I'm unable to give any particular personal insights here, only to say it was a pity that there wasn't time to see the demonstrations of these objects!

As I was so completely enthralled with these presentations, I completely forgot to make photos! Will try to do better today. 🙂


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