Esoteric Book Conference 2014

Presenters  | Artists  |  Performances | Hosts | Photos

2014 Presenters:


2014 Presentation

Amodali will introduce some of the themes from her forthcoming book 'The Marks of Teth', which documents 25 years of research and practice within the sphere of sexual theurgy. As well as a being an exploration of female initiatory magical formulas and praxis, it is also an individualistic, passionate examination of the challenges of attempting and defining the sex-magical/alchemical 'Magnum Opus' as experienced through the female body. The phenomenological and metaphysical structure of the female 'magical body' as a psycho/etheric/physical map delineating female occult anatomy is often obscured and fragmented within western esoteric culture. The dominant narratives within mainstream religious and esoteric spiritual traditions have resulted in highly distorted perceptions of feminine spirit and sexuality. However, as a result of the 19th-century occult revival, women are now exploring esoteric sexuality as a defiantly independent spiritual path and a body-centred spiritual epistemology is slowly gathering force. The Marks of Teth proposes a post-thelemic interpretation of the goddess Babalon that enfleshes a feminine magical signifying language which is wholly erotic and evolutionary in nature. The book reinforces the primacy of embodiment as the foundation of multidimensional esoteric disciplines and enquiry, interpreting the occult anatomy of the female body as an autopoietic construction with its own defining initiatic imperatives. Amodali will discuss the metaphysics and praxis behind her sexual trance techniques and experimental, magical-corporeal language dedicated to the goddess Babalon.

Brian Cotnoir

2014 Presentation: The Emerald Tablet

Brittany Levi

Brittany holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ancient and Medieval History from the University of Calgary. During her studies, Brittany focused primarily on Greco-Roman religions and mythologies. Brittany also independently researches foreign cults in ancient Greece and Rome, medieval witchcraft, and occult symbolism in Renaissance art. Brittany currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is an editor for the University of British Columbia’s Undergraduate Journal of Art History.

2014 Presentation Living Thelema: The Eleusinian Mysteries and the Cult of Eleusis

The Cult of Eleusis was an ancient initiatic cult that lasted until the end of the 4th century AD. The cult was dedicated to the worship of Demeter and Persephone while also providing minor worship to Hekate and Hades. The myth of Persephone’s abduction by Hades, and Demeter’s subsequent search, was the focal point of the cult’s major annual rites, known as the Eleusinian Mysteries. The Eleusinian Mysteries were in two parts: the Lesser Mysteries and the Greater Mysteries. The Lesser Mysteries prepared potential members to become initiates of the Cult of Eleusis. One had to experience the Lesser Mysteries before experiencing the Greater Mysteries which were exclusive to initiates. The Greater Mysteries began on 14 Boedromion (Βοηδρομιών) in the Attic calendar and lasted for 10 days. This corresponds to September 9th-19th in the Gregorian calendar. This lecture will discuss the links between the myth and rituals of the Lesser and Greater Mysteries while also exploring the spiritual fulfillment the cult provided to its initiates.

Erik Davis

Erik Davis is an author, award-winning journalist, culture and media critic, and teacher based in San Francisco. His wide-ranging work focuses on the intersection of esoteric religion, media, and the popular imagination. He is the author, most recently, of _Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica_. He also wrote _The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape_, and _TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information_, which has been translated into five languages. He also wrote a short critical volume on Led Zeppelin. His essays on music, technoculture, and spirituality have appeared in dozens of books, including _Sound Unbound_, _AfterBurn: Reflections on Burning Μan_, _Zig Zag Zen_, and _Rave Culture and Religion_. Davis has contributed to scores of publications, including Bookforum, Salon, Slate, Artforum, Wired, the LA Weekly, and the Village Voice. He has performed hundreds of public talks and presentations, and has been interviewed by CNN, the BBC, public radio, and the New York Times. He explores the “cultures of consciousness” on his weekly podcast Expanding Mind. He graduated from Yale University in 1988, and is currently earning his PhD in religious studies at Rice University.

2014 Presentation:  Illuminating Pulp:
Robert Anton Wilson's Paperback Esoterica

In his 1975 _Illuminatus!_ trilogy, written with Robert Shea and largely completed in 1971, Robert Anton Wilson wove Discordian, psychedelic, and occult themes into a prophetic conspiracy fiction written with a satiric and willfully “pulp” sensibility. At a time when the occult revival had flooded the market with esoteric books of all manner of provenance, _Illuminatus!_ was esoteric in deeper sense. _Illuminatus!_ was full of esoteric references and occult information, but that material was folded into the fictional and meta-fictional play of the novel in way that served an initiatory function for many readers.

Curiously, however, the book’s peculiar magic seems to have leaked into its own authors life. Wilson relates these experiences in his 1977 book _Cosmic Trigger: Final Secret of the Illuminati_. Describing a remarkable series of synchronicities, insights, and robust altered states of consciousness—and with apotropaic doses of irony—Wilson narrates a widening paranoid web of significance that involves the number 23, Leary’s 1973 “Star Seed” communications, Horus, and other arcana. From July 1973 until October 1974, Wilson came to inhabit a “reality tunnel” in which he was receiving telepathic messages from an extraterrestrial intelligence linked the double star system Sirius. His conspiratorial fictions, in other words, had bled into his personal reality, producing a profound and sometimes paranoid disorientation that he called “Chapel Perilous.”

This talk, which is drawn from my current dissertation project, will attempt to understand how Chapel Perilous is constructed. That is, what enables the book that Wilson and Shea produced to stage such synchronistic openings? The answers will touch on a number of matters of interest to writers and readers of esoteric books: the role of the paperback and the literary industry in the occult revival; the self-referential “networks” of esoterica, fantastic fiction, and RAW’s own work; and the way that the "conspiracy" of reading and writing help analogically stage and generate esoteric experiences, especially synchronicity.

Gerard O'Sullivan

Gerard O'Sullivan, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of English and Theological Studies at Neumann University in Aston, Pennsylvania, is the author of "The Continuing Quest for Montague Summers" which serves as a prologue to a critical edition of Summers's "The Vampire, His Kith and Kin" published by Apocryphile Press in 2011. He is also author of a prologue to a new critical edition of "The Vampire in Europe" edited by John Edgar Browning and shortcoming from Apocryphile in 2014. In 2008 O'Sullivan recovered and cataloged the archives of Montague Summers, which had been missing since the writer's death in 1948. In 2009 he published "The Manuscripts of Montague Summers, Revisited" in "The Antigonish Review" (159, Fall 2009, 111). He has published numerous other articles and reviews in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, Postmodern Culture, Criticism, The Scriblerian and elsewhere. O'Sullivan's first encounter with Montague Summers (through a terror-stricken reading of "The Werewolf" in his early adolescence) inspired a life-long fascination with the writer. He is among the world's foremost collectors of Summerseana and is regarded as an authority on Summers's life and writings. He is currently working on an introduction to Summers's unfinished early novel "The Bride of Christ" as well as a new foreword to a reprint edition of "The Gothic Quest." The Summers archive was recently acquired by the Georgetown University Library.

2014 Presentation:  Searching for Montague Summers:
Anatomy of an Obsession

Who was Montague Summers? Gerard O'Sullivan has tried to answer this question, and with limited success, since his first terror-stricken reading of Summers's "The Werewolf" in early adolescence. In this presentation O'Sullivan recounts the genesis of his obsession with Summers and his work, which lead him to a dogged pursuit and eventual recovery of the writer's lost papers, missing since August of 1948. In this presentation O'Sullivan will address questions which continue to linger about Summers, the "disreputable clergyman" who lived from 1880 to 1948 and whose influence and legacy in esoteric and literary circles persists to this day. Was Summers really Father Summers, a duly ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church, or was he — as some maintain — an independent Catholic cleric or bishop? And despite his public abjurations of witchcraft and magic was he, in fact, a practicing occultist himself?

Jesse Bransford

Jesse Bransford is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work is exhibited internationally at venues including The Carnegie Museum of Art, the UCLA Hammer Museum, PS 1 Contemporary Art Center and the CCA Wattis Museum among others. He holds degrees from the New School for Social Research (BA), Parsons School of Design (BFA) and Columbia University (MFA). An associate professor of art at New York University, Bransford's work has been involved with belief and the visual systems it creates since the 1990s. Early research into color meaning and cultural syncretism led to the occult traditions in general and the work of John Dee and Henry Cornelius Agrippa specifically. He has lectured widely on his work and the topics surrounding his work and in 2013 he co-organized The Occult Humanities Conference in New York. His work can be seen extensively documented on the website, a site he has operated and maintained since 1997.

2014 Presentation: On the Hieroglyphic Monad of John

John Dee’s Hieroglyphic Monad is easily his most accessible work, and yet little published material exists regarding its structure and intention. Part scientific treatise and part emblem book, the work’s twenty four theorems invite a close study that can form a daily verbal-visual meditation, easily completed in a month. Artist Jesse Bransford has worked with the text in a variety of formats for over 10 years and has made several insights into the text, some trivial and some seemingly deep. The personal relation one can form with this small work (and many others like it) is the notion at the heart of this lecture and will open the text to multiple viewpoints both as a scholarly, scientific, mystical and magical text.

Ken Henson

A Curtis G. Lloyd Fellow at the Lloyd Library and Museum, Ken Henson is the author of Alchemy and Astral Projection, Ecstatic Trance in the Hermetic Tradition. He recently collaborated with the Philosophical Research Society to revise and reissue Manly P. Hall and John Augustus Knapp's Revised New Art Tarot. Ken's article on J. A. Knapp will be published in the fifth issue of Abraxas, International Journal of Esoteric Studies. Ken is an Assistant Professor at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He has his M.F.A. in Painting from The University of Cincinnati, and his B.F.A. in Painting from Eastern Kentucky University. Combining drawing, painting, and writing with dreamwork and meditation, Ken's art is driven by magic and mysticism.


2014 Presentation
Alchemy and Astral Projection

This presentation is based on Ken Henson's treatise Alchemy and Astral Projection: Ecstatic Trance in the Hermetic Tradition, which is the result of the research he conducted as a Curtis G. Lloyd Fellow at the Lloyd Library and Museum, 2013-2014. By investigating how Renaissance alchemists and magicians discussed astral projection, and by offering fresh ways of interpreting and using the old alchemical symbolism, we can explore alchemy's potential as a system for achieving astral projection, the willful projection of the astral body into the astral plane.

In this presentation, Henson examines passages by Trithemius, Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Heydon to make a case that alchemy was in large part a system for inducing astral travel. He also looks at how their philosophical predecessors from ancient Greece plainly discussed astral projection and related experiences. The seven basic stages of alchemical transmutation and their corresponding symbols are explored as contemplation tools that enable mystical alchemists to gain access to the Macrocosm (the Astral Plane).

Richard Kaczynski

Dr. Richard Kaczynski is the author of Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley (2002; 2010), deemed by many to be the definitive biography of the Beast, and Forgotten Templars: The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis(2012), which is considered a landmark in the history of Western esotericism.  He has also recently contributed to the anthologies Tarot in Culture (2014), Mathematics in Popular Culture (2012), and Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism (2012).  He is also the author of the The Weiser Concise Guide to Aleister Crowley (2009), Panic in Detroit: The Magician and the Motor City (2006), and Perdurabo Outtakes (2005), and a contributor to several books (A Concordance to the Holy Books of ThelemaThe Golden Dawn SourcebookRebels and Devils) and the magazines (High Times, The Magical Link, Neshamah, Cheth, Mezlim, Eidolon, Different Worlds). He co-edited with Hymenaeus Beta The Revival of Magick and Other Essays (1998), and performs editorial/typesetting duties for the NOTOCON proceedings books and Neshamah (journal of the O.T.O. Psychology Guild). He appeared in the television documentaries Secrets of the Occult (2006) and Aleister Crowley: The Beast 666 (2007).  Richard has written and lectured internationally on these and related topics since 1990.   By day, Richard is a social psychologist, biostatistician and research scientist whose 1993 doctoral dissertation examined metaphysical beliefs and experiences among occult practitioners. He lives in Maryland with his wife and their two cats.

2014 Presentation:

Breaking down the Temple Door: Aleister  Crowley's Reinvention of Cermonial Magick throught The Rites of Eleusis

“Having learned magick through the formulae and structures of the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley broke into new territory by cultivating freeform and ecstatic approaches to ritual that sprawled across several ceremonies to form a large-scale Working.  Elements of this approach appear in The Vision and the Voice, The Paris Working, and The Amalantrah Working, but Crowley’s explorations of the magical use of poetry, music, dance, and drama crystallized in The Rites of Eleusis, a series of seven performances originally staged in London’s Caxton Hall in 1910.  Join us as we look back—and forward—to recall his reinvention of modern magick.”

Stuart Südekum

Stuart Südekum is a writer and educator currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. He is the co-founder of Feast of Fools, an educational event series on the art and science of mysticism. He has spoken at the New York School of Visual Arts (SVA) and written for Heathen Harvest, a periodical described as "one of the leading online magazines for post-industrial music." He is a specialist on the life and work of Arthur Edward Waite, and is presently preparing an annotated edition of Waite's seminal "Pictorial Key to the Tarot."

2014 Presentation

Drinking from the Haunted Well:
A mystical exploration in the Fairy Land of A. E. Waite

Golden Dawn alum Arthur Edward Waite is commonly remembered for his long and technical tomes of scholarly mysticism. It might surprise many modern readers to learn that his body of work also contains a beautifully interwoven mythos of esoteric Romances, set in a visionary realm of fairies. Waite carried this secret kingdom in his heart throughout his life, even into his late, post-Golden Dawn work.

Stuart Südekum will serve as a mystical tour guide to this forgotten realm, exploring how Waite's fiction, drama, and poetry can be used to better understand the challenging concepts we encounter in his "Holy Grail," "Holy Kabbalah," and other non-fiction works.

Trevor W. McKeown

Inaugural speaker to the Canadian Acadamy of Independent Scholars in 2005, Trevor W. McKeown's work has been published in The Traveller Magazine (2007), Martial Arts of the World, An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation (2010) and Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (2009). In 1996 he created what has become one of the most comprehensive and widely cited websites on Freemasonry, His onscreen appearances have been limited to a brief appearance in Riddles in Stone (2007) and the occasional interview for CBC TV.

As library and museum curator, a position he has held since 1996, he has created a comprehensive cataloguing system and programme for the display and preservation of the masonic collections in British Columbia and Yukon. Grand Historian for the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon since 2005, he is also currently the chairman of the Grand Lodge Library and Archives Board of Trustees. His contributions to masonic research were recognized in 2011 with his election as a full member of the premier lodge of masonic research, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, in London, UK.

2014 Presentation

Masonic Print Culture,1723 to the Present

Freemasonry's origins are based on oral traditions and modes of communication within individual lodges. With the evolution of a larger administrative structure after 1717, two conflicting schools of thought developed, one wishing to maintain that oral tradition, and the other wishing to freeze in ink, not only the words of the rituals, but the gestures and movements as the degrees are conferred. The history of this conflict is the history of the "Art of Masonry" — memorization — versus the realities of evolution as well as the history of misunderstanding by non-masons. Initiatory rituals, once committed to print, both in type and illustration, take on a life of their own. Masonic print culture is made up not only of these printed rituals — as well as the many histories and commentaries by Freemasons and non-masons, all products of their time and place — but also the medium they are printed on, from Moroccan leather bound limited edition engravings to mass produced paperbacks.

Trevor W. McKeown explores this history, creating a context and rational for three hundred years of the most unsecret secret society that ever existed.

2014 Artists:

Anima Nocturna

Sanctuary for the sacralized experience of multi media artist Carlos Melgoza.
Art as ritualized digestive process of experience; whether philosophical or occult.
Photography, the medium most often used to describe reality, appropriated to reify magico-mystic experience.
Evidence as praise to the Absolute.
Most recently a featured contributor to Clavis Journal Volume 2 on the subject of occult photography.



Kim Schwenk

Kim Schwenk is a rare books librarian and archivist at UC San Diego, Special Collections & Archives, devoted folk herbalist, and artist. Her areas of research include Northern European and nomadic peoples’ history and medicine, early medieval botanical illustration, and folk mythology. In every facet of life, her interests of art and ecology mirror the critical need to archive and use folk medicine traditions and document our knowledge. Her paintings and block prints depict mythical and occult themes, as insight into the whimsical and spiritual aspects of nature. She also operates an online herb shop, Of Oak and Ash Botanicals, and distributes education about herbalism through the printed word.

Kim Schwenk’s blog and art and research portfolio.
Herb shop: Of Oak and Ash Botanicals.

Ken Henson

A Curtis G. Lloyd Fellow at the Lloyd Library and Museum, Ken Henson is the author of Alchemy and Astral Projection, Ecstatic Trance in the Hermetic Tradition. He recently collaborated with the Philosophical Research Society to revise and reissue Manly P. Hall and John Augustus Knapp's Revised New Art Tarot. Ken's article on J. A. Knapp will be published in the fifth issue of Abraxas, International Journal of Esoteric Studies. Ken is an Assistant Professor at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He has his M.F.A. in Painting from The University of Cincinnati, and his B.F.A. in Painting from Eastern Kentucky University. Combining drawing, painting, and writing with dreamwork and meditation, Ken's art is driven by magic and mysticism.

Liv Rainey-Smith

Liv Rainey-Smith is an artist specializing in hand-pulled xylographic prints. Her imagery draws primarily upon historic sources, folklore, dreams, and esoteric traditions. Rainey-Smith's woodcut process incorporates a mixture of traditional and modern tools as well as a blend of European and Japanese printmaking technique. She prints her own fine art prints in small editions on both paper and animal parchment. Recently she has begun altering her prints with natural mineral watercolors, and gilding.

Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo DaGinen

Mambo Patricia Scheu was baptized into the Haitian Vodou faith in 2002 and initiated as a priest in 2003 in Haiti. Her father, Bon Houngan Fritzner George – Bo Houngan Dye ki Don – was assisted by her godmother, Bon Mambo Marienne Ti-Bobban of Cyvadier, and her Mama Hunyo Philomen Dieu – Mambo Fos Fe Yo We Daginen of Jacmel, Haiti. Papa Fritzner and Marienne Ti-Bobbin were initiated by the reknown Houngan Marc Elie Desir of Jacmel, Haiti. Papa Marc now resides with the ancestors in Ginen. With proper respect given to Gran'n Met-La, Primye Met 'Bitasyon, and tout Gran Sosyete L'Afrik Ginea, Mambo was crowned Bon Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo daGinen (Old Bones Commands with a Strong Hand of Ginen).

Timo Ketola

Timo Ketola was born in Helsinki in 1975. Since 2005 he has lived in central Italy where he works in book design and general illustration, as well as exploring traditions such as woodcarving, bronze casting and fine-art prints. His latest work is a series of original witchcraft images for Hands of Apostasy, a witchcraft anthology forthcoming from Three Hands Press.

2014 Performers:

Eleusyve Productions

The Esoteric Book Conference is very excited to announce their collaboration with Eleusyve Productions for this years Saturday night entertainment portion of the conference.  The evening will commence at the Richard Hugo House and will include a guest speaker, Dr. Richard Kaczynski,  who will speak about Aleister Crowley’s Rites of Eleusis prior to the theatrical performance, The Rite of Mars, a rock opera.

Aleister Crowley’s The Rite of Mars, a rock opera

Eleusyve Productions is pleased to be staging the fifth in our series of musical adaptations of The Rites of Eleusis.  Written by Aleister Crowley, one of the most important and influential figures in the Western Occult Revival over the last 100 years, these planetary rituals reflect his deep knowledge of classical Greek arts and culture to produce seven works, and each centered upon one of the seven planets of antiquity.  Crowley intended them as a vehicle to entertain, instruct and to generate interest in the A.:.A.:., his magickal teaching order.  More than a century later, interest in Crowley’s occult knowledge and methods continues to grow, and we are excited to have the opportunity to present his work to new audiences.

The Rite of Mars is an exploration of war, culture, conflict and renewal.  The subject matter is challenging and the presentation is intended to inculcate victory and loss, gain and sacrifice, triumph and tragedy in equal measure.

Eleusyve Productions is a theater group of actors, dancers and musicians based in Seattle, Washington, whose primary current purpose is the presentation of the seven plays comprising Aleister Crowley’s Rites of Eleusis (originally presented as a series in London in 1910) as modern musical theater pieces, using music, light, dance and drama to enhance the poetry and symmetry of the original works.

2014 Hosts:

Catamara Rosarium

Catamara Rosarium is an Alchemist, Master Herbalist, and Ritual Artist. She has been a student and practitioner of various Western and Eastern traditions over the past 15 years. Her current studies and practicum include Alchemy, Tantra, Spagyrics, Wortcunning, and Cunning Craft Sorcery. She is the sole proprietor of Rosarium Blends a business dedicated to concocting various alchemical creations to enliven the senses.

Her continuous passions lie in esoteric arts, with an emphasis on cross diversification, working to cultivate networking and community based events wherein diverse belief systems and traditional practices may be shared and to offer deeper understanding and education through these communal experiences.

Rosarium Blends On Facebook

Joshua Madara

Joshua Madara designs ritual magic with digital media. He makes digital-ritual artifacts, installations, and performances; writes, lectures, and teaches. His most recent project,, is the world's premier resource for robotic magic. A member of the Illuminates of Thanateros, Joshua is a practicing Chaos magician of many years, and sponsors Seattle's longest-running Chaos magic meetup. His occult influences have included witchcraft, Hermeticism (especially alchemy), Antero Alli's Paratheatre, Philip Farber's Meta-Magick, and psionics and radionics.

hyperRitual Oneirodyne Systems

Kaitlin Reeves

Kaitlin Reeves is the fleshbot behind FORM & FUNCTION [ web production ] and the official web mistress of the EBC. She has had the honor of developing websites for many fine esoteric endeavors and individuals, including Ouroboros Press, Rosarium Blends, Xoanon Limited, Fulgur Esoterica, Abraxas Journal, Anima Nocturna, Austin Coppock and Clavis Journal. Select upcoming projects include Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab,, Treadwell's bookshop and Liv Rainey-Smith's new website.

Kaitlin's background is in feng shui, astrology and hypnosis, all of which inform her design aesthetic, communication style and the selection of launch dates for new websites (which mostly means avoiding mercury retrogrades, which she tries to sleep through in their entirety). She has also helped typeset numerous titles for Three Hands Press and the first Clavis Journal, in addition to designing Austin Coppock's yearly astrological almanac.

Liv Rainey-Smith

Liv Rainey-Smith is an artist specializing in hand-pulled xylographic prints, and is the official art show liaison of the 2013 Esoteric Book Conference. Her imagery draws primarily upon historic sources, folklore, dreams, Enochian, and Qlippothic workings. Rainey-Smith's woodcut process incorporates a mixture of traditional and modern tools as well as a blend of European and Japanese printmaking technique. She prints her own fine art prints  in small editions on both paper and animal parchment. She is also published by Three Hands Press and recently illustrated Arcanum Bestiarum by Robert Fitzgerald with over 50 new woodcuts.

Visit Liv’s Website Become a Fan on Facebook

Patricia Cram

Patricia Cram works in the esoteric and political. She is a writer, designer, event curator, and performance artist. She is also the hostess of the Sunday night EBC after-party.

Patricia’s Website

William Kiesel

William Kiesel is a historical and practical researcher in the field of western esotericism with a particular focus on symbol systems. He is director of Ouroboros Press, an editor of CLAVIS: Journal of Occult Arts and the founding administrator at the EBC. In addition to publishing the complete and corrected edition of the Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum under his own imprint, his most recent book, Magic Circles in the Grimoire Tradition was released by Three Hands Press.

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