Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

Discussion on literature other than by the Star of Azazel.
Wyrmfang
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Re: Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

Post by Wyrmfang »

We could begin then! I can take the first chapter before June. I don´t think we need a schedule, there are only two or three of us and the chapters vary quite a lot in length. Krepusculum, please join at any moment you feel suitable.
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Re: Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

Post by Wyrmfang »

Hermes Trismegistus

First of all, it was good to read in the introduction by J.B Trapp that Yates herself did not believe in the "Yates thesis", that Rennaissance hermetism is to interpreted as nothing else than the precursor of modern natural science. It is actually with pretty much all the classics, both old and new, that narratives are too straightforward to capture what anyone has actually said.

Rennaissance hermetists assumed that Hermes Trismegistus was an actual ancient Egyptian teacher with profound wisdom, and they assumed that the philosophies of Plato, Pythagoras etc. derived from this most complete source. This was most understandable as the great church authorities Lactantius and Augustine had both assumed the reality of Hermes. Later studied have shown that the ancient Hermetic texts were in fact written during 1st-3rd centuries by mostly Greek authors, though some actual Egyptian influences are possible. During the time Greek philosophy was losing its sufficiency as it could not be empirically verified, and people were searching new ways to investigate the world, which included esotericism of Hermetic thought. In the Rennaissance, the Hermetic writings were interpreted as preceding the Christian religion, though Augustine had condemned magic as idolatry.

The Hermetic writings became known by the translation to Latin by Marsilio Ficino, who was even ordered to put his translations of Plato aside before Corpus Hermeticum (it was named after only one text in it, Pimander). It was the Rennaissance idea of priscus theologus, a primordial tradition behind all better known traditions, which made it important for example to Ficino to present Hermes as the ultimate origin in wisdom that came as continuous lineage to Plato.
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Polyhymnia
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Re: Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

Post by Polyhymnia »

I’m about halfway through the chapter, and I’m repeatedly having my mind blown. I’ve focused most of my studies on hermeticism over the past several years, but never once did I stop to look at the history.
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Re: Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

Post by Nefastos »

Hopefully I won't disturb your more disciplined going-through by inserting some stray thoughts?

The very first sentence of the first chapter is interesting, for it brings to mind the different approaches on the same line from Traditionalists, Theosophists, and even Satanists (in the secrets of seeming regression):

Yates wrote:The great forward movements of the Reneissance all derive their vigour, their emotional impulse, from looking backwards. (p.1)

What Yates says of the second century mindset towards philosophy is pretty much my own:
Yates wrote:Philosophy was to be used, not as a dialectical exercise, but as a way of reaching intuitive knowledge of the divine and the meaning of the world, as a gnosis, in short, to be prepared for by ascetic discipline and a religious way of life. (p.2, emphasis mine)

And the next emphasis brings to mind the later Rosicrucian current --
Yates wrote:Thus that religion of the world which runs as an undercurrent in much of Greek thought, particularly in Platonism and Stoicism, becomes in Hermetism actually a religion, a cult without temples or liturgy, followed in the mind alone, a religious philosophy or philosophical religion containing a gnosis. (p.3)

-- where manifestos were printed to give universal call for a universal esotericism practiced in the brotherhood in spirit. Academical thought has been stressing the Protestant aspect of the Rosicrucian movement, but as we see here, it is actually quite timeless hermetist approach.

And speaking of universal tendencies, the chapter discusses quite a lot the "pseudo-Egyptian" roots of Hermetism. But the one who has studied Bible knows that "Egypt" is much or more a symbol than it is a land. Egypt means practical magic, and initiates may well visit Egypt without setting their foot on the continent of Africa.

For to share my yearning, I'll include a picture I took from my last trip to Rome, unable to purchase a beautiful set of Bruno while embracing it nevertheless. Don't you hear their call?

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Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Polyhymnia
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Re: Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

Post by Polyhymnia »

Nefastos wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 3:33 pm


And speaking of universal tendencies, the chapter discusses quite a lot the "pseudo-Egyptian" roots of Hermetism. But the one who has studied Bible knows that "Egypt" is much or more a symbol than it is a land. Egypt means practical magic, and initiates may well visit Egypt without setting their foot on the continent of Africa.

For to share my yearning, I'll include a picture I took from my last trip to Rome, unable to purchase a beautiful set of Bruno while embracing it nevertheless. Don't you hear their call?

What a beautiful set! I would love to go to Rome one day. I've actually never thought about Egypt as a symbol, and I think your insight will lend itself to a much greater understanding for me in my studies,

I've been revisiting the very first book I ever picked up with occult intention, Theurgy or The Hermetic Practice by E.J. Langford Garstin (1930), and this line stuck out to me from page 15:

Among the un-canonical books Enoch and Wisdom are helpful, and apart from these Semetic writings, the so-called Egyptian book of the dead, the works of many of the Greek Philosophers, the Gnostic and Hermetic fragments, expositions of the Mysteries, especially Iamblichos, and almost all the Alchemical writers, are full of illumination.

It makes me wonder how Garstin et co. would have felt to read this offering from Yates had they lived long enough to see it published.

It was very interesting to see an account of magic through the ages, and how renaissance magic was seen as this pious version of something that was considered vile and evil for literally centuries, all thanks to Ficino translating the Corpus Hermeticum with urgency so that Cosimo could read it before he died. And speaking of Egypt as a symbol, what a symbol it is! The fact the Hermetica needed to be translated before the Platonic texts really speaks to its power.
"Limited love asks for possession of the beloved, but the unlimited asks only for itself." -Kahlil Gibran
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Re: Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

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Yates wrote:There is a great omission in this book, namely the influence on Bruno of Ramon Lull which I have hardly mentioned, nor have I used his many works on Lullism. Here again a study of Bruno and the Lullian tradition is needed which one day I hope that I may be able to produce. (Preface, x)

Yesterday I started reading Yates' "Lull & Bruno (Collected essays volume I)" and it seems exceedingly interesting; I would encourage taking a look on this whether taken together with GBatHT or as a standalone text.

I remember trying very hard to get my hands on texts of Lull, but it was pre- (or rather, too early) internet era, and that proved to be impossible (expect the poems I used for one of the mottos of Magna Mater). I'll add a picture to give, ah, a picture what we're talking to, & how entranced to the point of agitation Yates herself was about him.

(In case you prefer, just a word, & I can take Lully out from this discussion to be his own thing.)


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Polyhymnia
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Re: Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

Post by Polyhymnia »

Hmm very fascinating! I’m afraid I’ve found myself in a rabbit hole with this chapter, manically reading my copy of the Hermetica side by side with Yates’ retelling of it. I’ve also found myself starting Poimandres: The Etymology of the Name and the Origins of the Hermetica, Kingsley, P. (1993) so I will bookmark Lull and Bruno for when my rabbit hole lessens some or I’m afraid I’ll never finish this chapter by the end of the month.
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Re: Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

Post by RaktaZoci »

Dear All,
sorry to dip my fly in your ointment, but I happened to notice that this book actually exists in my shelf as well. On which chapter are you currently on and what is the general pace here..? :geek:
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Re: Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

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It´s the second chapter Polyhymnia takes up next. Welcome if you want to join us! At least so far we don´t have a schedule, because there are not many participants and different chapters require very different amount of work.
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Re: Reading circle (Frances Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition)

Post by RaktaZoci »

I've read through the first chapter now and Wyrmfang's earlier summary pretty much adds up the story behind it. Not much to add to that. It is interesting to note, though, that with this assumed connection to Egypt, wasn't there something similar mentioned in Secret doctrine (or possibly some other HPB text) about the origins of the theosophic movement coming from the Brotherhood of Luxor or a similar entity? Anyways, it seems that Egypt was the safest bet with most tradition to claim authenticity, so to speak.

Another thing that came to my mind, in connection to the apparent revolt of Augustine against "the demons", in many hermetic texts, and kabbalistic ones especially, it is mentioned that the temple of Solomon would have (most likely) been built by these kinds of "demons", i.e. malevolent spirits who worked "without hammer or chisel", but that this malevolence would have been governed by the Will of the Magician (Solomon, in this case). But maybe in this case the idea is that all spiritual entities are considered evil or "bad", in the Christian eyes of the author? But isn't this incident (the building of the temple) still mentioned in the bible? Or perhaps there is a contradiction between the old and the new testament (I'm not an expert on biblical history)?
die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug.
-Hegel
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