Monday, January 13, 2014

1874: Black Rosicrucians, Officiating Ladies, & Magic Mirrors*

 “When he talks of initiations, ‘officiating girls’ and ‘strange oaths,’ we may infer that he held meetings of some kind, but I have failed to obtain particulars.”
- Arthur Edward Waite, On Paschal Beverly Randolph's Rosicrucian Rooms.

“I studied Rosicrucianism, and found it suggestive, and loved its mysticism. So I called myself The Rosicrucian, and gave my thought to the world as Rosicrucian thought…

Nearly all that I have given as Rosicrucianism originated in my soul; and scarce a single thought, only suggestions, have I borrowed from those who, in ages past, called themselves by that name – one which served me well as a vehicle wherein to take my mental treasures to a market, which gladly opened its doors to that name, but would, and did, slam its portals in the face of the tawny student of Esoterics.”
– Paschal Beverly Randolph, Eulis! The History of Love. (1896 Edition; P. 47.)
“One night – it was in far-off Jerusalem or Bethlehem, I really forget which – I made love to, and was loved by, a dusky maiden of Arabic blood. I of her, and that experienced, learned – not directly, but by suggestion – the fundamental principle of the White Magic of Love; subsequently I became affiliated with some dervishes and fakirs of whom, but suggestion still, I found the road to other knowledges; and of these devout practitioners of a simple, but sublime and holy magic, I obtained additional clues – little threads of suggestion, which, being persistently followed, led my soul into labyrinths of knowledge themselves did even suspect the existence of. I became practically, what I was naturally – a mystic, and in the time chief of the lofty brethren; taking clues left by the masters, and pursuing them farther than they had even been before; actually discovering the ELIXIR OF LIFE; the universal solvent or Alkahest; the water of beauty and perpetual youth, and the philosopher’s stone…”
- Paschal Beverly Randolph, Eulis! The History of Love. (1896 Edition; P. 48.)
A couple of years ago, I compiled a short list of Paschal Beverly Randolph's works together in an entry titled similarly to this one. It also, however, contained a long-winded and largely unnecessary rant about Blavatsky and the notions regarding “black magicians” she and the Theosophists (as well as a few other Victorian occult authors) have contributed to. When I decided to recompile links to Randolph's works, I felt it was necessary to also dissect my complaints from the materials themselves. Even if my opinion regarding such matters is correct, no justice is done to the man's work by including links to it beside an easily misunderstood rant. As such, that entry has been booted back into a 'draft' format, and this one exists to replace it as well as rectify my previous failings.

My interest in Randolph and his work was first sparked by John Michael Greer, who corrected my misguided notions regarding Aleister Crowley being the innovator of sexual techniques in western magick. He quite correctly pointed out that P.B. Randolph's work predated Crowley, and went on to extol the many virtues of America's “Rosicrucian.” The information sat in the back of my mind until – while creating my own Fluid Condenser recipes and attempting to figure out what the Hell I was doing – I was finally forced to look into Randolph's work. Subsequently, I found that I quite enjoyed what I was seeing and a few years later, my intent to study Randolph and his work remains as firm as ever.

It also helps that most of his work is available as public domain works, which also negates most concerns regarding piracy when it comes to the books. At the same time, it can also be quite dated, and some of his language is archaic. There are still a few volumes I'm looking to get my hands on, but this compilation of documents should give those interested plenty to experiment with or simply take a look at.**

Not included is: Paschal Beverly Randolph: A Nineteenth Century Black American Spiritualist, Rosicrucian, and Sex Magician by John Patrick Deveney – but is probably the best documentation of Paschal Beverly Randolph's life and thoughts available to the public. My copy is through Google books, and was purchased as a digital edition for around $15 – $20.

In the event I come across those books that have escaped my Sigilized “nets,” I will be sure to include them in updates to this entry in the future. Initially, I planned to upload some of the harder to find works to Mega to avoid the ephemeral nature of the 'net – however, it looks like most of them are now available on, thus making that action unnecessary. Should that change, let me know and I'll upload them to my cloud storage and add links.

Paschal's Magical Literature:

Seership! The Magnetic Mirror: Archive.orgGoogle Books.
Contains some of Randolph's thoughts on magic mirrors, clairvoyance, & etc.

Eulis! The History of Love: Archive.orgGoogle Books.
Contains Randolph's thoughts on sexual theurgy, as well as some of the key autobiographical details that Deveney fleshes out his wonderful book. It also includes his disclaimers regarding his own brand of Rosicrucianism.

Sexual Magic (Robert North translation):

Contains Randolph's core techniques (Volantia, Decretism, & Posism), as well as his instructions on Fluid Condensers, the creation of “magical mirrors” for scrying and evocation, and his thoughts on sexual magic. My understanding is that North's translation of the text has been surpassed by the recent re-translation by Donald Traxler – which expands on which areas of the text are contributions by of Maria de Naglowska, who had the French manuscript in her possession. I debated linking this work, but it is among the most useful available to those seeking to understand Randolph at this time. Given that Mr. North passed away several years ago, I don't think linking it is hugely problematic. However, if I discover that this is not the case, I will remove the link. If you want to make sure someone gets due credit and $$$ for their work, buy a copy of Mr. Traxler's translation. 

The Rosicrucian Dream Book:

Contains Randolph's thoughts on dream interpretation, and a rather lengthy list of interpretations regarding symbols in dreams. I laughed
hysterically when I looked up what hashish signified...

The Unveiling: Or, What I Think of Spiritualism: Archive.orgGoogle Books.

Probably the least useful and least “magical” of those linked so far. However, it details Randolph's break with certain factions of the spiritualists, and includes references to the thoughts of certain German Mesmerists that he was influenced by.

The New Mola:

Another of Randolph's works on clairvoyance. Admittedly, I haven't spent as much time with this book as I probably should have. I intend to finish reading it in the next few months.

Other works by Randolph: 

The Wonderful Story of Ravalette: Archive.orgProject Gutenberg.

Tom Clark and His Wife: Archive.orgProject Gutenberg.

Dealings with the Dead:

After Death: Or Disembodiment of Man: Archive.orgGoogle Books.

Some of the above are narrative stories, and fictional, but contain elements of Randolph's magical thought. Dealings with the Dead and After Death both include his descriptions of what the “world's beyond our own” are like, in which he applied his experiences as a trance medium to help aid the fiction. Tom Clark and His Wife has some of my favorite prose that Randolph ever penned, and... I haven't read Ravalette yet.

In addition to the above, he had several “pamphlet” style works that I've yet to discover, but don't feel too terrible about failing to have on hand. In any event, hopefully the blog readers that have put up with me rambling about Randolph over the years will find these works useful.

* In 1874, Randolph re-established his Rosicrucian Order in San Fransisco. It doesn't look like it had a ton of members, but it certainly existed.
** I am still looking for The Book of the Triplicate Order, and The Guide to Clairvoyance. The Guide to Clairvoyance was re-worked by Randolph into Seership!, which is included, but had appended to it a “special paper on the uses of hashish” that I hope to hunt down in the next year.