Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Second Day at the ASE Conference

I didn’t get a chance to blog last night as I was too busy “conferencing” (which looks a lot like drinking but is actually different…).

On Saturday, I attended the morning sessions on “Modeling Esoteric Spiritualities” and “Alchemy.”

The first had a paper by Carol Mattews on J.J. Hurtak’s new age synthesis and vision called “‘Prophetic Exegesis’ and Temporal Alchemy in J.J. Hurtak’s Pistis Sophia”, which was quite good. The other paper given was by Lee Irwin and it was “Esoteric Paradigms and Participatory Spirituality in the Teachings of Mikhael Aivanhov.” I thought Lee’s paper was one of the best that I heard at the conference and most the compelling for me personally. It was a fourteen page version of a forty-five page paper and he has promised copies of it to those of us who are interested from the conference. I found his enunciation of an approach to participatory spirituality to be quite new and something that both allows one to study esotericism without removing the validity of the subject for those that practice it. It was obviously based off of a line of thought that I hadn’t heard before but my friend, Mark, was conversant with the overall paradigm that Lee was working within so I am sure that we will discuss it at some point since he is local to me now. The Alchemy session had a presentation by M.E. Warlick on the evolution of the feminine in Alchemy that was interesting but didn’t really grip (nor did the other papers there).

Following lunch at a local middle eastern place, Ali Baba, we came back for the two afternoon sessions. The ones that I attended were “Esoteric Figures and Movements: 19th and Early 20th Centuries” and “Importing the East into Western Esotericism.” The first had a presentation by Gerald Leek on Albert Pike’s theology and esoteric connections in his Morals and Dogma, which I enjoyed though I had read much of it in my own research. It was good to see someone else (also a Mason) working in that area.

The panel on Importing the East was especially fun. Marsha Shuchard discussed the aspects of the origins and connections of William Blake’s eroticism, especially in the context of spiritualty. She has recently finished her book entitled “Why Mrs. Blake Cried”, which I plan to run out and get immediately. Imagine someone who is probably your grandmother’s age, looking very prim and proper, discuss and showing illustrations of the very explicit sexual images and concepts circulating in England and Europe at the time and cracking off-color jokes. It was impressive, audacious and very well done. Gordan Djurjevic, who had come all of the way from Bosnia, did a presentation on “The Great Beast as a Tantric Hero: The Role of Tantra in Aleister Crowley’s Magick” which was also very well done. He covered a lot of ground and I thought he presented some interesting data.

Following the last session, instead of having the ASE business meeting, we were freed for the night. My friends from the previous day, plus a few others, all went to dinner at various places and then reconnected at “Sophia’s Thai Kitchen” (the name seemed appropriate), which is actually a cocktail bar for half of its space. We stayed there for a few hours discussing many esoteric topics and telling amusing tales. A bit before midnight, we all went off to bed because the Sunday session was scheduled for 8:30 AM…