Thursday, 25 October 2012

Secret Symbols of the Hellfire Club..

Sometime ago I was on the internet at the same time as the reviewer of the following post who contacted me. The latter invited me to give a talk on Multi-Dimensional Science in one of the "meetings" of the Hell Fire Club...but I declined as this did not seem to be suitable place to discuss such a subject!!


Review: Secret Symbols of the Hellfire Club

Secret Symbols of the Hell Fire Club: Considered from an Occult Perspective
by Eammon Loughran
Hell Fire Club Books, 2010
The Hell Fire Club. It’s a group that elicits responses ranging from horror to fascination to macabre obsession. It smacks of secret society rites, mysteries revealed and reveled in, hedonistic tendencies and laudanum-soaked dreams; yet the sensationalist image of the Hell Fire Club quickly pales in comparison to the description of the modern, continuing and resurrected tradition it has become in the hands of seekers wishing to preserve the teachings and symbols of the Club and who have at their hearts the desire for self-knowledge and truth. “Secret Symbols of the Hell Fire Club” takes the reader on a journey into the darkness of the caves in which the mysteries were originally given, and illuminates for those who wish to see the deeper meaning of the Hell Fire Club.
“The fragments of the Hell Fire Club’s inner teachings that are gathered here have come from all surviving streams, the names of the guardians of these truths are all but lost, only a strange heraldry remains: signs of Heart, Eye, Lamp and Anchor flaming vividly through the dark.” ~ pp. 29.
As a reader I began “Secret Symbols” knowing little about the original manifestation of the Hellfire Club, and indeed did not realize until picking up the book that the Club still continued today. I was immediately drawn in and fascinated. The author, Eamonn Loughran, begins with promises of revealing the secrets of the mysteries and occult symbols, and recommends that the reader take the journey themselves into that dark cave, to drink from the stream underground. It captured my imagination – and my thirst for knowledge – straight away, and I found it almost impossible to put the book down: quite a feat for a non-fiction work! Indeed, as I delved further into this book I realized that – very cleverly – the author had provided an initiatory text in itself, acting as the psychopomp on a vivid journey through the symbolism and truths of the Hell Fire Club.
I pause here to note that this is not a book for those only beginning to tread an occult path. This is something that would appeal far more to those who have been studying various occult traditions for some time, and who are already familiar with them. To those unfamiliar with symbolism from Kabbalah, alchemy, Tarot, the Eleusinian mysteries, and modern mystery religions, the work in “Secret Symbols” may seem like so much jargon. But to those familiar with even one of these – or others that I have nto mentioned due to my own unfamiliarity with them! – “Secret Symbols” is an absolute treasure trove of information and wisdom. I have never before read such a fascinating and tantalizing description of the mysteries as this, and as I read further into the book I began drawing parallels with the Roman cult of Mithras, Neo-Platonism, and Plato’s philosophy.
Just as fascinating are the frequent references in “Secret Symbols” to poets and writers that influenced the Hell Fire Club, such as Rabelais, Colonna, Blake and Whitehead. The poetry of Rabelais in particular inspired the symbolism and initiation ceremonies used in the Club, and reading “Secret Symbols” has given me a yearning to study Rabelais’ work thoroughly.
This work is made all the more invaluable by the copious images contained within, many of photos of West Wycombe and surrounding areas, but also historical documents and artworks that are viewable in public and some from the author’s collection. This make for great study alone, but accompanied by the text they allow the reader to unfold many mysteries.
Approaching this book from a mostly Tarot and Mithraic background, I personally found plenty of information that I could research and study further using the tantalizing tidbits contained in “Secret Symbols”. A comparison of this work with a decent pack of 22 Major Arcana would be in order, and would prove even more interesting if related to the symbolism of alchemy. And, whether this is intentional or through common links to the symbolism of Freemasonry or the general cultural milieu in which Thelema was born, I also saw a number of similarities between the initiations and mysteries of the Hell Fire Club and those of the Ordo Templi Orientis.
Overall, this book has made me all kinds of excited. It should grace the bookshelf of any serious occultist, and anybody with a penchant for mystery, initiation, and symbolism should read “Secret Symbols.” And when they do, they should visualize themselves as seekers descending into the caves of West Wycombe, stewarded into the darkness of the mysteries, and invited to throw a coin against the bottle of wine that tastes different to everyone. Trinc!

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