Telesmata In The Picatrix

David Myatt

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Telesmata In The Picatrix

Telesmata is from Greek τέλεσμα via the post-classic Latin telesma and is possibly the origin of the English word talisman, dating as that English word does from 1638.

τέλεσμα in Ancient Greek meant a payment, or an offering to offset a debt or for services rendered. According to my fallible understanding, in Hellenistic times it acquired the sense of an object intended as an offering to the gods, and to lesser divinities such as daemons, as a mark of respect or in order to seek their favour or ward off their wroth. Thus if a person had toiled to make the offering, the telesma, or had at the very least exchanged goods or money for it, it was believed that such labour or such an exchange revealed that one had earned their protection or their help. The more valuable the object, the more help or protection they might expect.

This belief in such offerings and their efficacy was an integral part of not only the diverse Greco-Roman paganus weltanschauungen but also of many other paganus weltanschauungen around the world, past and present, founded as such weltanschauungen are on the understanding, on the ancestral wisdom, or on the intuition that we mortals are part of a living cosmos with the gods (the divinities) and Nature considered as living beings (or as archetypes, manifestations of cosmic forces) who and which can affect us and who have affected us – as individuals, and as communities – in terms of good fortune and misfortune.

For such understanding, such ancestral wisdom, or such intuition included the insight that some mortal deeds were wise and some mortal deeds were unwise because wise deeds were those which aided or did not upset the natural cosmic balance and because unwise deeds – acts of hubris – did upset the natural cosmic balance and invited, sooner or later, retribution by the divinities, be such retribution personal (against the hubriatic individual) or against the family and descendants of that individual or against the community that the hubriatic individual was a part of. A pattern of hubriatic deeds which both Aeschylus and Sophocles so well described: Aeschylus in the Oresteia, and Sophocles in his Antigone and his Oedipus Tyrannus.

In respect of the Greek belief in such divinities and asking for their help there is of course that beautiful poem by Sappho [1]

ποικιλόθρον’ ἀθανάτ Ἀφρόδιτα,
παῖ Δίος δολόπλοκε, λίσσομαί σε,
μή μ’ ἄσαισι μηδ’ ὀνίαισι δάμνα,
πότνια, θῦμον,

ἀλλὰ τυίδ’ ἔλθ’, αἴ ποτα κἀτέρωτα
τὰς ἔμας αὔδας ἀίοισα πήλοι
ἔκλυες, πάτρος δὲ δόμον λίποισα
χρύσιον ἦλθες

ἄρμ’ ὐπασδεύξαισα· κάλοι δέ σ’ ἆγον
ὤκεες στροῦθοι περὶ γᾶς μελαίνας
πύκνα δίννεντες πτέρ’ ἀπ’ ὠράνωἴθε-
ρος διὰ μέσσω·

αἶψα δ’ ἐξίκοντο· σὺ δ’, ὦ μάκαιρα,
μειδιαίσαισ’ ἀθανάτωι προσώπωι
ἤρε’ ὄττι δηὖτε πέπονθα κὤττι
δηὖτε κάλημμι

κὤττι μοι μάλιστα θέλω γένεσθαι
μαινόλαι θύμωι· τίνα δηὖτε πείθω
μαισ’ ἄγην ἐς σὰν φιλότατα; τίς σ’, ὦ
Ψά]πφ’, ἀδικήει;

καὶ γὰρ αἰ φεύγει, ταχέως διώξει,
αἰ δὲ δῶρα μὴ δέκετ’, ἀλλὰ δώσει,
αἰ δὲ μὴ φίλει, ταχέως φιλήσει
κωὐκ ἐθέλοισα.

ἔλθε μοι καὶ νῦν, χαλέπαν δὲ λῦσον
ἐκ μερίμναν, ὄσσα δέ μοι τέλεσσαι
θῦμος ἰμέρρει, τέλεσον, σὺ δ’ αὔτα
σύμμαχος ἔσσο.

Deathless Aphrodite – Daughter of Zeus and maker of snares –
On your florid throne, hear me!
My lady, do not subdue my heart by anguish and pain
But come to me as when before
You heard my distant cry, and listened:
Leaving, with your golden chariot yoked, your father’s house
To move beautiful sparrows swift with a whirling of wings
As from heaven you came to this dark earth through middle air
And so swiftly arrived.

Then you my goddess with your immortal lips smiling
Would ask what now afflicts me, why again
I am calling and what now I with my restive heart
Desired:

Whom now shall I beguile
To bring you to her love?
Who now injures you, Sappho?
For if she flees, soon shall she chase
And, rejecting gifts, soon shall she give.
If she does not love you, she shall do so soon
Whatsoever is her will.

Come to me now to end this consuming pain
Bringing what my heart desires to be brought:
Be yourself my ally in this fight.

By the time the manuscripts of the Picatrix were written, as translations of a translation of an Arabic manuscript dating from some three or more centuries older, the concept of telesmata seems to have become somewhat divorced from its paganus origins since the Picatrix begins with a doxology to a singular God – Ad laudem et gloriam altissimi et omnipotentis Dei cuius est revelare suis predestinatis secreta scienciarum – echoing as it does the doxology to Allah, Al-Ahad, in that earlier Arabic manuscript and containing as that Arabic manuscript does several quotations from the Quran.

Thus, and again according to my fallible understanding, it seems to me that, given the importance attached in both the Latin and the Arabic text to telesmata – the locus has, despite such doxologies, moved away from the paganus understanding of mortals as an integral (Ciceronian) balancing part of the cosmos, as part of Nature and of their community and personally aware of the consequences of hubris, toward the εἶδος – the abstraction – of mortals as individuals who can by telesmata and other means achieve certain personal desires or bring about certain changes beneficial to themselves. Almost as if telesmata and other similar means have replaced the numinous, the paganus, awareness of our status as mortals who depend on the harmony that the older divinities represented, manifest as this awareness is in the phrase memento homo [2]. A phrase adopted by the Roman Catholic church in the form “memento homo quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris,” [3] and which church, despite its faults, perhaps for centuries kept alive at least something of the paganus understanding of the error of hubris, its awareness of our temporary mortal life and of our fallible mortal nature.

DW Myatt
2017

Note: This text is an edited version of a communication sent this year to someone who had enquired about the relation, if any, between the talismans described in the Latin text entitled Picatrix and Greco-Roman pagan beliefs.

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[1] My translation. The Greek text is that of Lobel and Page, Poetarum Lesbiorum Fragmenta, Oxford 1955.
[2] Although the use of a similar phrase about mortality in the Triumphus is disputed, there is evidence to suggest that during those victory processions in Rome the triumphant General was reminded by someone of his mortality, qv. M. Beard, The Roman Triumph, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007. p. 272f.
[3] “Recall, mortal, you are dust and you will revert to being dust.”


Article source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/telesmata-in-the-picatrix/


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A Pre-Socratic Fragment: Empedocles

David Myatt

A Pre-Socratic Fragment: Empedocles

Text

ἔστιν Ἀνάγκης χρῆμα, θεῶν ψήφισμα παλαιόν,
ἀίδιον, πλατέεσσι κατεσφρηγισμένον ὅρκοις·
εὖτέ τις ἀμπλακίηισι φόνωι φίλα γυῖα μιήνηι,
νείκεΐ θ’ ὅς κε ἐπίορκον ἁμαρτήσας ἐπομόσσηι,
δαίμονες οἵτε μακραίωνος λελάχασι βίοιο,
τρίς μιν μυρίας ὧρας ἀπὸ μακάρων ἀλάλησθαι,
φυομένους παντοῖα διὰ χρόνου εἴδεα θνητῶν
ἀργαλέας βιότοιο μεταλλάσσοντα κελεύθους.
αἰθέριον μὲν γάρ σφε μένος πόντονδε διώκει,
πόντος δ’ ἐς χθονὸς οὖδας ἀπέπτυσε, γαῖα δ’ ἐς αὐγὰς
ἠελίου φαέθοντος, ὁ δ’ αἰθέρος ἔμβαλε δίναις·
ἄλλος δ’ ἐξ ἄλλου δέχεται, στυγέουσι δὲ πάντες.
τῶν καὶ ἐγὼ νῦν εἰμι, φυγάς θεόθεν καὶ ἀλήτης,
Νείκεϊ μαινομένωι πίσυνος.

Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Diels-Kranz, B115

Translation

There exists an insight by Ananke, an ancient resolution
Of the gods, immutable and sealed by vows,
Regarding when one of the daimons – those whose allotted portion of life is long –
Has their own hands stained from murder
Or who, once having sworn an oath, because of some feud breaks that oath.
For they shall for ten thousand tripled seasons wander away from the beautified,
Begotten during that period in all manner of mortal form
And exchanging during that voyage one vexation for another:

The fierce Ætherials chase them to the Sea,
The Sea spits them out onto dusty ground,
Gaia hurls them to the burning light of the Sun
Who flings them back to those swirling Ætherials.
Moved from one to the other, all detest them.

I am one of those, a vagabond in exile from the gods
Who has to rely on strongful Disagreement.

Notes

Ananke (Ἀνάγκης) is the primordial goddess of incumbency; that is, of wyrd – of that which is beyond, and the origin of, what we often describe as our Fate as a mortal being.

The usual translation of “necessity” – as for example by Copenhaver in section 1 of tractate III of the Corpus Hermeticum [1] obscures both the subtle esotericism evident in that ἱερός λόγος and what Empedocles wrote centuries earlier about Ἀνάγκης. [2]

Disagreement (νεῖκος) is – according to what we can adduce of the philosophy of Empedocles from the fragments of his writings that we possess – a fundamental principle, and one understood in relation to another fundamental principle, Φιλότης, expressive as they both are of the logos (λόγος) by which we can possibly apprehend the workings of the cosmic order (κόσμος). However, the common translations – of ‘strife’ and ‘love’ respectively – do not in my view express what Empedocles seems to be trying to convey, which is ‘disagreement’ and ‘fellowship’ (a communal or kindred working-together in pursuit of a common interest or goal). For while disagreement sometimes disrupts fellowship, it is often necessary as the genesis of productive change.

Thus, just as Odysseus had to rely on the support of Athena, who disagreed with how Poseidon treated Odysseus, so does the ‘vagabond in exile from the deities/the gods’ have to rely on disagreements among the immortals to end their own exile.

Which expression of how the immortal deities (θεοὶ) often differ and of how the Fate of mortals depend on those deities and, quite often on disagreements between them, exemplifies the ethos of Ancient Greece.

David Myatt
2017

This is a slightly revised version of a comment published in my 2015 translation of and commentary on the ἱερός λόγος tractate of the Corpus Hermeticum.

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[1] B. Copenhaver. Hermetica. Cambridge University Press. 1992.

[2] The Greek text of tractate III:1 is

Δόξα πάντων ὁ θεὸς καὶ θεῖον καὶ φύσις θεία. ἀρχὴ τῶν ὄντων ὁ θεός, καὶ νοῦς καὶ φύσις καὶ ὕλη, σοφία εἰς δεῖξιν ἁπάντων ὤν· ἀρχὴ τὸ θεῖον καὶ φύσις καὶ ἐνέργεια καὶ ἀνάγκη καὶ τέλος καὶ ἀνανέωσις. ἧν γὰρ σκότος ἄπειρον ἐν ἀβύσσωι καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ πνεῦμα λεπτὸν νοερόν, δυνάμει θείαι ὄντα ἐν χάει. ἀνείθη δὴ φῶς ἅγιον καὶ ἐπάγη <ὑφ’ ἅμμωι> ἐξ ὑγρᾶς οὐσίας στοιχεῖα καὶ θεοὶ πάντες <καταδιερῶσι> φύσεως ἐνσπόρου.

A.D. Nock & A-J. Festugiere, Corpus Hermeticum, Paris, 1972

In my translation I have endeavoured to express something of the classical mysticism which this tractate, in particular, embodies:

“The numen of all beings is theos: numinal, and of numinal physis.
The origin of what exists is theos, who is Perceiveration and Physis and Substance:
The sapientia which is a revealing of all beings.
For the numinal is the origin: physis, vigour, incumbency, accomplishment, renewance.

In the Abyss, an unmeasurable darkness, and, by the influence of the numen,
Water and delicate apprehending Pnuema, there, in Kaos.
Then, a numinous phaos arose and, from beneath the sandy ground,
Parsements coagulated from fluidic essence.
And all of the deities <particularize> seedful physis.”

My commentary on the text – in Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates, 2017, ISBN 978-1976452369 – explains my interpretations of words such as δόξα, νοῦς, σοφία, ἐνέργεια, and δύναμις.


Source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/empedocles/


Another Iconoclastic Translation

David Myatt

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DW Myatt: The Beatitudes
(pdf)

The document contains David Myatt’s translation of and commentary on The Beatitudes, {1} which part of the New Testament – Matthew 5:1–10 – is an iconic part of the Christian religion.

As with his other iconoclastic translations – such as from the Corpus Hermeticum {2} and The Gospel Of John {3} – he provides a new and refreshingly different insight into an ancient text.

However, readers should be aware that Myatt’s commentary on the Greek text of The Beatitudes relies heavily on his commentary on the Greek text of the Gospel of John {3} and on his commentaries on the Greek texts of the Corpus Hermeticum which he has translated {2}.

RDM Crew
June 2018

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{1} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/the-beatitudes/

{2} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/corpus-hermeticum/

{3} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/gospel-according-to-john/


Book Review: Western Paganism And Hermeticism

odal3

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Regarding Western Paganism And Hermeticism
(pdf)

The book, available as a gratis open access pdf document, is comprised of nine essays by various authors which deal with or which review David Myatt’s translations of Hermetic texts and his two recent books Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos and Tu Es Diaboli Ianua; plus – as an appendix – a reprint of Myatt’s relevant article Concerning ἀγαθός and νοῦς in the Corpus Hermeticum.

In her Preface, the editor – authoress of one of the essays in the book – succinctly expresses the raison d’etre of those Myatt books and translations of Hermetic texts, and also of the included essays, writing that

“Myatt’s thesis […] is that Western paganism is essentially the classical paganism of Ancient Greece and Rome and represents the ethos of the culture of the West, which ethos the Hebraic religion of Christianity supplanted. It is our view that those translations, the associated commentaries, and such books enable an insight into, and thus the evolution of, Western culture.”

She also quotes from one of those essays – Re-discovering Western Paganism – whose authors wrote that Myatt’s translations of classical and hermetic texts “when studied together enable us to appreciate and understand the classical, pagan, ethos and thence the ethos of the West itself.”

Collectively the essays present a decidedly new view of Western paganism which is contrary to that of Western neopagan revivals (sometimes described as contemporary Western paganism) and which neopagan revivals mostly devolve around ancient named gods and goddesses, such as those of Viking or Germanic mythology or those associated with Celtic legends of ancient Britain and Ireland. In addition, such modern revivals often involve romanticized rituals and ceremonies such as those now associated with the self-described Druids at Stonehenge during Summer Solstice sunrise at Stonehenge.

As the authoress of the eighth essay – A New Pagan Metaphysics – explains, referencing Myatt’s books Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos and Tu Es Diaboli Ianua as well as his essay From Mythoi To Empathy, this new view of Western paganism is an evolution, a move away from perceiving paganism in terms of mythology and legends to a modern philosophical, ethical, and rational understanding of it. This understanding is of καλὸς κἀγαθός – of nobility of personal character – and which Ancient Greek expression, according to Myatt, represents the ethos of not only Greco-Roman culture but also the non-Christian West. As Myatt notes in his Tu Es Diaboli Ianua, it involves

“an awareness and acceptance of one’s civic duties and responsibilities undertaken not because of any personal benefit (omni utilitate) that may result or be expected, and not because an omnipotent deity has, via some written texts, commanded it and will punish a refusal, but because it is the noble, the honourable – the gentlemanly, the lady-like, the human – thing to do.”

The book therefore takes us on a journey to a different – and for many of us to a new – world, far away from the religious attitudes of the old world as evoked, not only by Christianity, but also by neopaganism with its rituals, mythologies, polytheism and – in some manifestations – ‘magical’ spells, charms, and beliefs.

This new world is, as the authoress of the seventh essay – Suffering, Honour, And The Culture Of The West – makes clear, one where personal honour reigns manifesting as it does what is ethical and noble and ineluctably Western.

The book is highly recommended.

Kerri Scott
March 2018


Myatt’s Translation of Sappho

Sappho, depicted on Attic red-figure kalathos, c. 470 BCE. Provenance: Akragas (Sicily) and currently in Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich

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Myatt – or rather, his translation of some of the fragments of the poetry of Sappho as recorded by Mr Richard Moult et al under the titles Sappho: Poetic Fragments I, II, III – gets a mention in a chapter of the book Orienting Feminism: Media, Activism and Cultural Representation published by the academic press Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. The chapter in question (pp.137-153) is by Siobhan Hodge and titled Sappho in Cyberspace.

For the curious, here is a copy of David Myatt’s translation of Sappho: https://regardingdavidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/sappho-poetic-fragments-v1.pdf

For the even more curious, the recordings by Moult et al are available (as of March 2018) at (i) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdAVliim57c and (ii) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uARVfV7mngs and (iii) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHKfNVzKSkc


Image credit:
Sappho, depicted on Attic red-figure kalathos, c. 470 BCE.
Provenance: Akragas (Sicily) and currently in Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich


Myatt And The Renaissance of Western Culture

odal3

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Western Paganism And Hermeticism:
Myatt And The Renaissance of Western Culture

A printed version of the Third Edition of this 2018 work, edited by Rachael Stirling, is now available: ISBN-13: 978-1986027809.

A gratis Open Access pdf file of the Third Edition is also available:

Western Paganism And Hermeticism
(pdf)

The following “politically incorrect” quotation, from the chapter titled Re-discovering Western Paganism by R. Parker, sets the context for the contents of the book.

“While laudable, the attempt in recent times by some Europeans to rediscover the pagan ethos of their ancestors – exemplified in certain (but not all) neopagan groups and weltanschauungen – and thus distance themselves from Hebraic spirituality, is not and never can be, in our view, effective in reconnecting us to the ethos of the West for two reasons. First, because such attempts (at least so far) do not exemplify, do not manifest, the spiritual ethos of the West, founded as that is on the culture and spirituality of ancient Greece and Rome. Second, because they generally do not take into account how the ethos of the West has itself been distorted by a Hebraicism that is not only spiritual but is now, and has been for over a century, cultural.

This cultural Hebraicism is a mode of thinking and action in which Hebrews – ancient and modern – and their beliefs, and those of their followers and disciples, are taken as the type, the moral ideal, to be aspired to and lauded. In the case of ancient Hebrews and their beliefs, the type, the ideal is evident in the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), and in latter-day interpretations of the Bible. In the case of modern Hebrews and their disciples, the type, the ideal, derives from (a) the dogma of ‘equality of races’ – ultimately derived from Marxism, sociology, and what has been termed ‘social anthropology’, with the belief being that all ethnicities have the same abilities, intelligence, potential, and human character – and from (b) the religious-like remembrance of and compulsory teaching regarding the Shoah, together with a hypocritical championing of ethnic awareness and ancestral traditions for all ethnicities except native European (‘White’) peoples, which ethnic awareness of, and its promotion among, native European peoples is considered ‘hatred’, ‘racist’, ‘extremist’ and is increasing censored and outlawed in the lands of the West with the Hebraic reasoning being that such ethnic awareness of, and its promotion among, native European peoples gave rise to colonialism, to fascism and National Socialism and thus to the Shoah – which must “never be forgotten” – with no Western country ever allowed to again make ancestral European beliefs, and the Western ethos, the raison d’être of a nation-State.

In respect of rediscovering the pagan spirituality of the West a fundamental problem has been a lack of knowledge among those interested in what, exactly, that spirituality is. A problem exacerbated by pre-existing translations of some of the ancient works knowledge of which is necessary in order to understand that spirituality. Works such as the Oedipus Tyrannus and the Antigone by Sophocles, the Agamemnon by Aeschylus, and the mystical texts of the Corpus Hermeticism.”

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Contents:
Preface
Re-discovering Western Paganism.
An Insight Into Pagan Mysticism.
Regarding Myatt’s Hermetica.
The Divine Pymander.
Myatt’s Monas – A New Translation of Corpus Hermeticum IV.
On Native Egyptian Influence In The Corpus Hermeticum.
Suffering, Honour, And The Culture Of The West.
A New Pagan Metaphysics.
Appendix I – Concerning ἀγαθός and νοῦς in the Corpus Hermeticum.
Appendix II – A Review Of Myatt’s ‘Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos’.


A Different Perspective

odal3

The essays which make up the document titled Regarding Western Paganism And Hermeticism {1} seem to me to point to a truth which is both relevant and controversial.

The document is relevant because of how our Western culture is mis-understood even by many native Europeans, and also because that culture is under attack by those – now often government supported – advocates of a ‘multi-cultural society’ with public advocacy of one’s own native culture being (if, that is, one is of European descent) frowned upon and even in some European lands outlawed because deemed by certain governments to be “hate speech”.

The document is controversial because it describes a culture which most modern political advocates of Western culture – of Western ‘civilization’ – will be unfamiliar with, fixated as so many of such political advocates seem to be with the mistaken belief that Christianity is the embodiment of that culture.

However, as described in that document – and in the texts referenced therein – Western culture is essentially pagan and derived from the culture of ancient Greece and Rome with Christianity thus understood as a Hebraic intrusion.

The document thus provides an entirely new – perhaps even a heretical – perspective on Western culture as well as referencing texts, such as David Myatt’s Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos and his Tu Es Diaboli Ianuas which, with their focus on such things as καλὸς κἀγαθός, metaphysically evolve Western paganism beyond “mythoi and anthropomorphic deities (theos and theoi) to an appreciation of the numinous sans denotatum and sans religion.” {2}

There is a cultural revolution in the truths embedded in Regarding Western Paganism And Hermeticism and in the texts referenced therein. But whether such truths can replace the prevalent and mistaken belief that Christianity is somehow the embodiment of Western culture remains to be seen.

June Boyle
2018 ev

{1} The work is available here: Western Paganism And Hermeticism (pdf).

{2} David Myatt (2018). From Mythoi To Empathy. The essay is included in https://regardingdavidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/two-essays-v1a.pdf


This work is issued under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) license
and can be freely copied and distributed, under the terms of that license.