Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review Wed: Green Hermeticism

Title: "Green Hermeticism: Alchemy and Ecology"
Authors: Peter Lamborn Wilson, Christopher Bamford, Kevin Townley, with intro by Pir Zia Inyat-Khan
Publisher: Lindisfarne Books, Great Barrington, MA 2007
Content: 206 pages including index, bibliography, notes, and appendix

I am going to start strong here for my review: If you are interested in Hermeticism in a modern context at ALL, you would be well served by reading this book. There. Now that I got that out of my system, on with the review!

Green Hermeticism is the most interesting modern Hermetic work I have read for quite some time. It approaches Hermeticism through it's Alchemical vehicle with a special emphasis modern practice, especially where the Alchemical world view impacts the modern ecological movement.

The book itself is a series five lengthy articles, two each by P.L. Wilson (aka Hakim Bey) and Chris Bamford, with one at the end on creating Spagyric tinctures by Kevin Townley.

We'll start at the end with Mr. Townley. His article is concise, accurate, and well spoken. It's a very good intro on the subject, and I think the best you can get in so short an amount of space. The space part is the only thing that bothers me. Spagyrics is a complex subject, and could have been taken in more depth, but he was very true to the title, "The Manufacture and Use of Planetary Tinctures". I am glad it was included, as it was the most immediately practical of any article in the book. Though it lacks the flavor of the other four, it ties them together into something you can do in a pop up home lab.

Now that we have the tail, we go back to the head with the first article: "The Disciples at Sais, A Theory of Sacred Earth". Written by the masterful Peter Lamborn Wilson, it launches into Alchemy as a Romantic Science, winding its way around the concept of the Romantic movement, and the foil it presented to Industrialism and the "Science of Death", as opposed to Alchemy, the "Science of Life". Presented through he lens of the Alchemist/Philosopher Novalis, it is one of the most moving pieces of Alchemical literature I've ever read. It fills the eyes full of stars and the heart full of hope.

In "One the All", Chris Bamford discusses Monism in Hermetics down from the highest Mind to the most manifest Matter. It's well written, understandable, and is more demonstrative.. it shows, it doesn't tell.

Next, in "Green Hermeticism" P.L. Wilson leads a very long, very meandering trail through the history of Hermeticism, into mycology, into Sufism and Iconoclasm, and on, and on. It's very twisty. So twisty it's hard to pin down, but that tends to be Wilson's style, especially when delving into Sufi topics. He is very much the wise/mad Dervish, and it shows in this piece.

Penultimately, Bamford hits us again with "Quilting Green Hermeticism", which is another long, winding piece (though not quite as winding as Wilson's) on Hermetic Philosophy. The path is long with many twists, and much like in the "Green Hermetism" article you manage to get the point very clearly without really being directly told.

That is a commonality with most of the works in the book. The picture is sketched around the edges instead of explicitly brushed.

If you dig Ecology and Spirituality at the same time, give it a read. It's quite refreshing, really.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this nice book review. I enjoyed it. I read book reviews on different sites, I find your review very genuine and orignal.

Jow said...

Thankyou Akash, that is very nice for you to say!

Robert said...

added to my list of "to buys"

Psyche said...

Great review! I reviewed it a couple of years ago, and also found it to be a great read.

Jow said...

Gorgeous review Psyche! One day, I swear I will review a book the year it comes out, however that day will doubtful come this year.