One of the more famous churches in Rome is a former temple dedicated to Athena or Minerva, which has been converted to a Catholic church titled “Maria sopra Minerva” or Mary over Minerva, celebrating Our Lady’s victory of the degenerate pagan goddess Athena.
While I had known that Our Lady was presented by early Christians as superior to the various goddesses that were venerated in the Mediterranean world, I was not aware of how great a contrast Our Lady has to the goddess Hecate–especially as read in the tradition of Neoplatonic magic.
Like Artemis-Diana with whom she is linked, Hecate, the goddess of the underworld and witchcraft was linked with the moon. She further had snake hair (a Gnostic symbol) and was adorned by fiery snakes. Finally, and most interestingly, Hecate was an image of the world soul, the “membrane” between the intellectual-spiritual world and the physical world. Thus, there is the connection with magic and witchcraft as those who mediated the power of Hecate could mediate between the spiritual and physical world, summoning demons and powers.
As a result, Hecate is a demonic mediatrix, a diabolical mockery of Our Lady.
Finally, it is weird how common the image of the veil or membrane between the spiritual and physical world is in everything from faerie tales with magic mirrors (remade by Walt Disney); to the Early Modern Chinese novel, The Journey to the West, to the poetry of Percy Shelley; to Stephen Spielberg’s 80s film, Poltergeist.
In fact, Hecate’s function sounds a lot like the screens of electronic devices that mediate the demonic world of the internet into our homes.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for us.
Marsilio Ficino famously writes in his book of natural magic De vita libri tres, “music is almost nothing other than a spirit [i.e., a demon.” This quote is especially interesting considering some music’s origins in shamanism and possession and the relationship between the contemporary music industry and occultism as well as how music has served as a catalyst in the recent mass shootings. Finally, many exorcists have noted the music can be a source of demonic infestation. One should thus be careful what he or she listens to.
One of the dominant ideas of Renaissance Neoplatonism and contemporary occultism is the belief that that prior to Plato there was a tradition of magi that included Pythagoras, Empedocles, and Zororaster in which a theological tradition was passed down called the prisca theologia.
While one might readily dismiss this idea as ridiculous fantasizing, several professional scholars have written on the idea that these mystery teachings do, in fact, crop up in Aristotle.
The father of this tradition was allegedly Orpheus whose myth has a number of shamanistic and magic elements in it, including the following:
- A marriage that was never consummated with Eurydice, his wife.
- A serpent that stings Eurydice (a memory of the serpent in the Garden of Eden)?
- A descent to the underworld and power via music over the demons in the underworld.
- The failure to bring his wife from the underworld.
- The power to enchant nature and animals and plants to do his bidding via ritual music.
- The creation of pederasty and sodomy (as possibly a cultic ritual) after failing to retrieve his wife.
- His own death and dismemberment and prophesied future resurrection by women who desired him (human sacrifice?)
All of these elements would later serve as the basis of later Western magic up until the present day.
Interestingly, in French cave paintings, this “Orpheus” shaman shows up as a shape changer (possibly a constellation) associated with animals and phallic activity as well as music (I could not find the cave painting of the musical shaman).
Neoplatonism is a funny word. It generally refers to the writings of Plotinus, the third century AD Hellenistic philosophy who crafted a mystical Platonism. Neoplatonism via Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola also is known as the philosophical underpinning of Renaissance art and culture. This Renaissance Neoplatonism mutated later into German idealism and Romanticism and its bastard child Theosophy and Occultism of the early 20th century and finally into the New Age Movement of today.
As your humble author has been uncovering, Neoplatonism after Plotinus took a magical form when Iamblichus and Proclus introduced Orphic teaching (already latent in some of Plato’s writing) but more importantly Chaldean (or Babylonian) and Egyptian magic known as theurgy.
However, while I had known that magic was taught in the Platonic academy, I have just discovered that the (Neo?) Platonic academy in the fourth century had the teaching of Orpheus (magical chants, etc.) and the Chaldean Oracles (chanting, shamanism, possession, meditation, etc) as the culmination of the schools curriculum. That is to say, it was not that magic had infected the Academy; rather, magic became the highest art and teaching of the school that had birthed Western thought.
If magic continued as the culmination of or at least was a central aspect of NeoPlatonic teaching (and there is even some reason to believe that it was the culmination of earlier Platonic teaching), then all of the many references to magic in Renaissance thought and Romanticism (and they are many) are not simply literary allusions, but are indications of the direct and literal presence of magic in these works.
Thus Renaissance paganism and Romanticism (or at least certain currents in these schools of thought) acted as vessels for Egyptian and Babylonian magic, which were later opened and developed by occultists in the 19th and 20th centuries.
I recently been probing the ancient pre-Socratic pedigree of a Neoplatonic magic, also known as theurgy, or “god-working.” In his work, Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic, Peter Kingsley gives a few traits of theurgy that have roots in the magic allegedly practiced by the pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles. The traits are as follows:
- Control over the weather.
- Visions of gods in a glass, mirror, or by some other means.
- The use of magic amulets and symbols.
- The obtainment of immortality via magic after a process of death and rebirt
It is interesting to see how modern technology has the same traits.
- Weather modification via chem trails, cloud seeding, etc.
- Virtual reality, television, the internet, and AI.
- The proliferation of occult symbols in pop culture.
- The drive for immortality and the possible of resuscitation via cryogenic freezing
It is almost as if there is a 3000 year+ old occult tradition that has now finally broken free from the restrains of Christianity…
In my research of the Renaissance, I have come across some characteristics for determining whether a thinking was an adept of magic and/or part of the network of kabbalistic thinkers of the Early Modern period. If a thinker has one of the following characteristics, then it is possible that he or she deserves a closer look:
- Some association with the counsel of Florence and the influx of Eastern Orthodox thinkers into Italy.
- An attempt to synthesize Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
- Intimate familiarity of with the Corpus Hermeticum and Gnostic ideas.
- Slavish adherence to Plato and or NeoPlatonists as well as part of the effort to transmit. pagan thought from Eastern Orthodoxy into the West.
- Serves as a harbinger of Enlightenment scientific ideas.
- Familiarity with the Kabbalah and or Talmud and the promotion of Jewish magic and thought.
- Political and theopolitical ideas that later branched into liberalism and laid the groundwork for separation of church and state, ecumenism, and world government.
- Favoring the power of councils over the papacy.
This is not to say that all or even most people in the Renaissance who espoused these ideas was an active, conscious agent of evil. However, many agents of evil seemed to gravitate to these notions.
Nicholas of Cusa or Nicholas Cusanus (1401-64) has some of these qualities, and he should be reexamined as being something more than simply a late medieval philosopher. Called the “gatekeeper of the modern age” and “the first modern thinker,” Cusanus’s thinking influenced Copernicus, Kepler, Descartes as well as the notorious heretic and occultist Giordano Bruno. Cusanus also believed that the universe is infinite (an important idea for modern atheism) and was influenced by nominalism.
However, more than his interest in science, it is Cusanus’s interest in Gnosticism and magic that makes him so interesting. Praised by Abbot Trithemius of Sponheim, a notorious occultist, Cusanus was influenced by the NeoPlatonic Christian thinker Dionysius the Areopagite whom Nicholas of Cusa praises for having assigned God “many names” (an idea present in the occult and Islam as well as Joseph Campbell-esque New Age thought). Cusanus also traveled to Constantinople in 1437 on behalf of Pope Eugenius in order to invite Orthodox leaders to the council of Florence, bringing back NeoPlatonic writings with him. Cusanus further wrote of man as a “humanized God” and, drawing from the magician Hermes Trismegistus, called man a “second God.” These ideas clearly prefigure Pico della Mirandola’s “Hymn to the Glory of Man” and echoes ideas present in Gnosticism and the New Age movement.
Finally, in his work De concordantia catholica, Cusa argued for the power of councils over the papacy.
All of this is not to suggest that Nicholas of Cusa was an agent of evil or anything more than an erroneous teacher who had some bad ideas. There are impeccably orthodox Catholic thinkers who believe that Cusanus himself held entirely correct theological ideas. Nonetheless, whether or intentionally or not, Cusanus seems to have some role to play in the fermenting of Renaissance magic that gave birth to the modern world and brought about the decline of Christianity.
Hexagram diagram from Cusanus’s Opera.