Podcast 223 – McKenna: “Hermeticism and Alchemy” Part 1

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Guest speaker: Terence McKenna

AlchemistPROGRAM NOTES:

[NOTE: All quotations are by Terence McKenna.]

“Human beings are co-partners with deity in the project of being. This is the basis of all magic.”

“In a Christian context magic is heresy because it implies that man can command god to act. In other words that in some strange way the magician compels nature to behave as the magician desires.”

“The Hermetica actually refers to humanity as the brother of god. So it’s a completely different attitude toward being human. It’s an empowering attitude.”

“In the hermetical, magical view human beings are not tainted by Original Sin.”

“Western civilization, in a way, can be thought of as an accumulated series of misunderstandings.”

“Had Western Europe stayed in touch with the mystery religions of ancient Greece, Christianity would never have been able to force its agenda to the degree that it did.”

“Alchemy, and conjuration, and tailsmanic magic, and sympathetic magic, all of these things flourished, really, not as a throwback but as a kind of prelude to modern science. Modern science is an incredibly demonic enterprise.”

“[John] Dee is the last person to be able to unify into one world view science, and mathematics, and magic, and astrology all together.”

“Paracelsus was an interesting guy. He’s essentially the inventor of drugs because he was the first person extract herbs and to get this notion of the essence.”

Today’s podcast begins a newly uncovered lecture by Terence McKenna. His topic is “Hermeticism and Alchemy” and he begins this 1991 workshop in fine form, making statements such as: “Human beings are co-partners with deity in the project of being. This is the basis of all magic.” And, “Western civilization, in a way, can be thought of as an accumulated series of misunderstandings.”

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Posted in Alchemy, Culture, Hermeticism, Religion, Terence McKenna (mp3) and tagged , , , , .

6 Comments

  1. Paracelsus is credited with the creation of laudanum, which is not, as Terence asserts, “gum opium”, but tincture of opium. He is also regarded as a pioneer in the use of chemicals in “Western” medicine.

    Also, The Council of Florence had nothing to do with Plethon’s recovery and Ficino’s translation of ancient texts. Plethon was consulted by Emperor John VIII during the Council so the connection is extremely oblique and not relevant. Also, the Borgias had nothing to do with either.

    Vera, I’d be greatly surprised to find an elite theoretical physicist who could perform a banishing ritual or cast an astrological chart. I would also be surprised to find a practicing magician in the present day who could penetrate the obscure mathematics of String Theory and the like. One could cite Jack Parsons, to be sure, and there might be others who have a fairly decent grasp, but I would be pleasantly surprised to find anyone out there who is at the ~pinnacle~ of all of these disciplines.

    Stiofan, that would be “Steganographia”

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  3. I think the perception of magic highly depends on the magician. It doesn’t have to imply that “man can command God to act” by defying the laws of nature. Magic should be for entertainment not deception.

  4. It isn’t really just that man can command his God or creator, but that other forces of nature exist beneath God, that have known names. Since the Bible doesn’t name them, the implication is that you shouldn’t or couldn’t know their real names.

    “The Hermetica actually refers to humanity as the brother of god.” Of course, the word is derived from Hermes who is kabbalistically at the top of the tree, and rightly so, but, in fact, the idea of an equal partnership with a god or gods is probably more ancient than the first tarot deck or Kabbalah manuscript. Some would say we are the natural extension of the gods of nature or nature upon the earth, and therefore we easily share and manifest their diverse and changing will.

    “Western civilization, in a way, can be thought of as an accumulated series of misunderstandings.” Isn’t that a little uncharitable? It can be said of any civilization. Let’s instead investigate our heritage, and seek the pure luminous gems handed down, preserved and unchanged because of the ugly outer hard mud coating of superstition and ignorance that surrounds each specimen.

    “Modern science is an incredibly demonic enterprise.” Yes, in that it recognizes, names, and can command many natural forces. I’ll assume that isn’t a cynical remark.

    “[John] Dee is the last person to be able to unify into one world view science, and mathematics, and magic, and astrology all together.” He meant ‘first person’, yes? What are we, chopped liver? Ever hear of the work of modern physicists and the ‘grand unified theory’?

    The work of Paracelsus is easy to admire, but he was not the first to extract drugs. He was also a great innovator in his time, but we have to fairly award ‘first’ to the Polynesian Indians or Chinese whose pharmacopeia precedes him by thousands of years.

  5. This is from a fellow saloner who sent it to me via FB:

    Stiofan M.
    Hi Lorenzo,
    Here are my notes of the references TM made in Pt. 1 of the Hermeticism & Alchemy workshop. (Note, his dates and timelines got a little off-kilter from “Rudolph I” on to the end, if we can believe wikipedia at all.):

    Hermeticism and Alchemy Pt. 1

    – Jonathan Edwards: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”
    – Marsilio Ficino: “Man is the measure of all things”
    – Faust
    – Hermes Trismegistus
    – Meric (Isaac?) Casaubon
    – Giambattista Vico: Scienza Nuova
    – Rosicrucianism
    – Christian Rosenkreuz: Chymical Wedding
    – Hermetic Corpus
    – Asclepius
    – Council of Florence
    – Gemistus Pletho
    – Plato
    – Cosimo de’ Medici
    – Dame Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition
    – Book 9 of the Corpus Hermeticum
    – various passages
    – Fall of Eleusis
    – Neoplatonism
    – Plotinus
    – Porphyry
    – Proclus
    – Emanationists

    – D.P. Walker: Spiritual and Demonic magic: From Ficino to Campanella (“Hell of a fighter… Hello?”)
    – Lactantius (Patristic Writer)
    – Humunculus
    – Aristotle
    – Great Chain of Being
    – Darwin-Wallace Theory of Evolution
    – Mircea Eliade
    – Paul ? (Philoshopy Professor, Epistomology 101)
    – The Pymander
    – Trithemius, Bishop of Sponheim
    – Stenographica (Steganopgraphia?)
    – Giordano Bruno
    – John Dee
    – Sir Francis Drake
    – Sir Philip Sidney
    – Queen Elizabeth I
    – Edward Kelley (“polymathic”)
    – Shew Stone
    – A True & Faithful Relation (Dee, published by Meric Casaubon)
    – Rudolph I of Bohemia

    {Opium)
    – John Playfair
    – Paracelsus
    – Von Helmont “Dr. Opiatus”

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