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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Dion Fortune

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Language of Serpents

In the dream, the whole coven is over for New Moon. We're discussing the writings of occultist Dion Fortune: in particular, a passage in which she writes that, after disincarnation, she will return as a golden serpent. We discuss whether or not this could actually be so.

It so happens that the long-time partner of one of us, a magician who sometimes attends our rituals, is himself conversant in the Language of Serpents.

As one, we turn toward the temple's snake-hole. (Since the days of Knossos, every good temple has had a snake-hole.) In the Language of Serpents, with his arms extended and palms turned down, M— delivers the invocation.

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Isaiah Berlin begins his famous essay The Fox and the Hedgehog by quoting the Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Berlin uses this saying to contrast two different intellectual styles: Hedgehogs “relate everything to a single central vision, one system,” while foxes “pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory ... seizing upon the essence of a vast variety of experiences and objects for what they are in themselves.” (Isaiah Berlin, The Fox and the Hedgehog: An essay on Tolstoy’s View of History, (Guernsey: Phoenix, 1992) 3)

In Pagan terms, Berlin’s approach presents an interesting way to think about what we mean by “eclectic,”  what it is that we’re contrasting eclecticism with, and the benefits and potential downfalls of both approaches.

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