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Hermetic Magic: Postmodern Magical Papyrus of Abaris [Paperback]

Stephen Edred Flowers
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
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Book Description

15 Feb 1996
The Egyptians worshipped their own gods with particular rituals. This translation of The Magical Papyrus of Abaris shows modern seekers how to perform their own ritual celebrations of life.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser (15 Feb 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877288283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877288282
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.8 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 779,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The kind of magic philosophy we now call "Hermetic" is most clearly seen in documents dating from the first four of five centuries C.E. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Regarded as a pioneer within the field of Runic Studies and semiotic analyses of the Northern Mysteries (Northern European and German proxemic regions), Stephen Edred Flowers has delivered a powerful holistic view of magical practices in the Eastern Mediterranean region. His research is based on over twenty years of academic study, including a PhD from the University of Austin, Texas. Flowers has singularly defined the cultural trajectory of Runic studies through a vast output of books, pamphlets, and research papers, as well as developing several institutions for praxis and cultural/memetic propagation.
The book is far more authoritative than many 'New Age' volumes by jettisoning the usual simplistic studies of runes by other authors, and being extensively cross-referenced to other literature.
By referring extensively to source texts and adopting a creative postmodern worldview (which is compared to Traditional and Modernist approaches), Flowers is able to outline the complex Hermetic theories, cosmologies, and symbolic systems (notably the Greek alphabet and Egyptian hieroglyphics).
The value of this work for the contemporary magician, memetic engineer, and Spiral Wizard, is that Flowers has re-constructed psychological and cultural DNA, devising conceptual tools and rituals that can be used for Self-change within everyday life.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consider this a rebuttal 4 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The review below makes some rather unfortunate statements, the most striking being the idea of this book having an Anti-Semetic tone. That the Kabbalah has its origin in Greek Culture is hardly a new or controversial standpoint to anyone other than an Occultist, and to take this to be Anti-Semetic is just foolish.
This book stands as one of the few books written to the Occult audience with a strong historical background and top-notched scholarship. It is an excellent companion to the Greek Magical Papyrus in that it removes much of the coding and allows for a more Post-Modern outlook.Brooklyn
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Thought Out and Presented 21 Jun 2003
By Stone Mirror - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found this to be an excellent introduction to Graeco-Egyptian magic of the sort documented in the Greek Magical Papyri.
Flowers takes the Greek Magical Papyri as a starting point for a pretty thorough investigation of how one might construct a consistent and coherent system of personal magical practice. This is more than simply a canned reworking of a bunch of ancient spells, but a well-constructed and systematic walk through the development of a system of magical cosmology, theology, theory and praxis.
This isn't a beginner's book. A decent grounding in ceremonial magic theory is definitely recommended. Better books in that vein might be Crowley's "Magick", or Regardie's "The Golden Dawn". For a practitioner with the necessary background, this is potentially an extremely valuable book.
Another review makes a number of loose assertions, particularly that Flowers has wilfully mistranslated the spells in order to put some sort of "Satanic" spin on them. Flowers helpfully provides full references to the Greek papyri throughout this book, and I've verified that there is no substance to the other reviewer's claims. I went so far as to email him to see if he had any rebuttal to make, but haven't ever received a response. The references back to Betz are consistent and complete; it's trivial to verify that there are no "tricks" in the translations.
I recommend getting a copy of Betz' book as well, not only as a cross reference, but for access to a wealth of other related material which Flowers did not incorporate. Flowers has included a variety of useful tables and diagrams of relevant material, including details of several writing systems used in the source material.
Highly recommended.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide to the World of the Magical Papyri 2 Dec 2009
By Jason Hurd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Flower's Hermetic Magic was something I took a chance on. I was somewhat interested in the Greek Magical Papyri as an example of authentic pagan magical practices of the Roman Imperial Era and Flower's book promised to provide a guide to them and the milieu of ancient Hermeticism.

Every review I found online was utterly unhelpful as they tended to center on the author, Stephen Edred Flowers, who is controversial due to his membership in the Temple of Set and being a founder of several Ásatrú groups (See his Wiki Page for more information). A good portion of the reviews of this book are more or less rants & character assassinations while another good portion exists to defend/praise Flowers. Very few reviews actually discussed the book in any detail.

Taking my chances, I decided to get the book and I was presently surprised as it seems to be an excellent introduction to the Greek Magical Papyri from a practical standpoint and provides a good background and jumping off point for further exploration. It however has some distracting features such as Flower's Setian background showing through in parts along with controversial opinions bleeding through and treated as fact - which I will point out later in my review.

The book is presented in several sections: History - which takes a quick look at the cultural streams present in the Papyri (Flowers identifies Hellenic, Egyptian, Iranian, Gnostic, Semitic, and Christian streams). In the 'Theory' section Flowers takes a look at the Cultural beliefs and practices of all the identified cultural streams and provides among other things an excellent look at Egyptian & Greek views of the parts of the Body (both physical and metaphysical), various cosmologies, the writing systems (which includes a short lessons on Hieroglyphics, Hieratic, Demotic, Coptic, Greek, and Semitic systems - an appendix also includes a pronunciation guide to the Greek of the Era), Greek Gematria, Iamblichus' Numerology, and a lot of really good nuggets of information intended as a jumping off points for deeper study - which Flowers heavily encourages.

The Praxis section is composed of a description of the most common tools used in the Papyri,a suggestion of frame rituals, and a collection of some of the more accessible workings from the Magical Papyri - Flowers strongly recommends getting Betz's The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation (I have a copy).

Throughout the text Flowers promotes a post-modern approach to Magic that is very similar in some respects to Chaos Magic but Flowers tends to stress a more syncretistic approach over eclecticism. He urges the reader to experiment and incorporate more streams into their practice (with the ancient material as a guide) based upon what works. He also has a great call for rationalism in Magic which I have reproduced below:

"Rationality in magic must be rehabilitated. It must be restored to its rightful place as the foundation of magical development, but not as its essence. Modernism has split would-be magicians into two impotent camps - those who have rejected rationality all together (and have become so disorientated as to be virtually insane) and those who have embraced rationality totally (and have become virtually paralyzed as magicians)" (pp. 140-141)

Flower's book is not all wonderful however as in some instances his Setian background barges through and may alienate some readers such as his dislike of the 'decadent' Osirian Cult due to its increasingly demonetization of Set over time in later eras Ancient Egyptian civilization or his view of the historical Jesus being a libertine gnostic - granted that you can really say anything about Jesus given that the only non-religious source we have amounts to a mention but most of the earlier texts depict him as very faithful to the spirit and principles of the Torah and I tend to see the very late gnostic libertine view as an extreme long shot as a guide to the historical Jesus' character. In addition Flower's 'Left Hand' views (which are mostly centered on individualism and self-reliance) are evident in a couple of instances (where he clearly stating an opinion) that may alienate some readers but they are not really large obstacles.

Overall, it still it has more than enough good practical information about Greco-Roman-Egyptian Magic and the syncretistic world of late antiquity to make it well worth reading and an excellent springboard into further study and understanding (which is the intention of the book in the first place).
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction to True Hermeticism 20 July 2010
By Christopher Warnock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was definitely prepared to dismiss this as another frothy New Age production with the term "hermetic" used as a synonym for esoteric, occult or simply "cool". Instead Flowers does a good job of outlining the true history of classical Hermeticism, explaining its mixed Greek and Egyptian roots, its subsequent history, cosmology, Hermetic gematria and the operative magical use of Hermeticism in the Greek Magical Papyri.

I'm not wild about the term "postmodern" which already has a current definition that to my mind doesn't fit how Flowers uses it, because postmodernism is still atheistic/materialistic. On the other hand, what should we call the worldview that is necessary for astrology, alchemy and magic? A bit of a conundrum! Flowers is entirely correct, however, in pointing to a change from the modern worldview as a prerequisite for true contemporary Hermeticist.

I also wasn't wild at first about the "Epistle of Abaris" which is Flowers' own creation of a Hermetic text. Then I realized that this was totally traditional! Flowers' epistle is certainly within the mainstream of Hermetic thought and one would not balk at it if it was part of a newly found ancient Hermetic manuscript.

Ultimately, I realized that basically any problem I had with Hermetic Magic stemmed from bad vibes off of the "postmodern" title. In point of fact, this is a very good introduction to the history, theory and practice of magic within classical (1st to 4th centuries AD) Hermeticism. Flowers points to all the key sources, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Greek Magical Papyri, which you can then read in the original. Ultimately, I think that Flowers' approach, seeing the origin of Hermeticism in synthesis and then immersing oneself in pre-modern Hermeticism and then finally producing a new synthesis, within this tradition, is the correct approach.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consider this a rebuttal 4 Jan 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The review below makes some rather unfortunate statements, the most striking being the idea of this book having an Anti-Semetic tone. That the Kabbalah has its origin in Greek Culture is hardly a new or controversial standpoint to anyone other than an Occultist, and to take this to be Anti-Semetic is just foolish.
This book stands as one of the few books written to the Occult audience with a strong historical background and top-notched scholarship. It is an excellent companion to the Greek Magical Papyrus in that it removes much of the coding and allows for a more Post-Modern outlook.Brooklyn
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A guide to a complete system of magical praxis 23 Sep 2000
By "quantanephilim" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Out of the mire of Rosicrucianism, Thelema, and Chaos, S.E. Flowers, the leader of the Rune-Gild and Magus of the Temple of Set has truly distilled a quality work on the magick of greco-roman egypt and the Hermetic gnostics. Translated directly from the magical papyri, Flowers has created a book free of complicated Qabalah, eastern "additions", or modern fantasies- a true book of ancient ritual practice. Whether you're a Hermetic, a Setian, a Gnostic, or even a Chaos Mage, this book is worth at least a read.
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