Esoteric Eden

Engravings of hybrid monsters from Opera nela quale vi e molti mostri de tutte le parti del mondo antichi et moderni or “Work in which there are many monsters from all parts of the world, ancient and modern” by Giovanni Battista de’Cavalieri, 1585. Image: Wellcome Collection

Permalink

In Malay and Indonesian mythology, the Langsuyar is the vampiric reanimated corpse of a woman who died while pregnant or giving birth. Described as beautiful women with ankle length black hair, green robes, and incredibly long hands and nails, they feast on the blood of newborn children.

Permalink

The Antikamnia Chemical Company created these morbid calendars in the late 19th century and early 20th century to promote their pain killers to druggists. While their products were effective, they were revealed to contain a banned—and poisonous—ingredient, acetanilid. Images: Wellcome Library

Permalink

Catacomb saints are the lavishly decorated bodies of early Christians that were exhumed from the catacombs of Rome by the Vatican and placed in towns throughout Europe between the 16th and 19th century. The bodies were covered in gold and precious stones and acted as relics. Images: Neitram, Dalibri & Dbu (wikimedia commons)

Permalink

The Hand of the Philosophers is an alchemical symbol first appearing in Isaac Holland’s Die Hand der Philosophen, 15th century. Each feature of the hand corresponds to a quality, element and/or ingredient of the alchemical process. The thumb features a crown & quarter moon and represents the chemical saltpetre, which Holland calls “The King & Lord of all salts.”

The index finger features the star with six points, the meaning of which is only available to initiated alchemists, and the salt Roman Vitriol. The middle features the Sun, and represents Sal ammoniac. Above the ring finger is a lantern, representing alum. The little finger represents both the lock and key of the “hand” as well as common salt. In the palm, the fish represents Mercury, and the fire is just fire.

Images: Sammlung Alchymistischer Schriften, 18th century, Die Hand der Philosophen, 15th century

Permalink

Woodcuts from Des Circkelsz und Richtscheyts, Heinrich Lautensack, 1618. This book was meant as a guide for painters, sculptors, stonemasons, goldsmiths, and others to better understand perspective and the human form. Source: Embassy of the Free Mind

Permalink

Engraving from Speculum Sophicum Rhodostauroticum (“The Mirror of the Wisdom of the Rosy Cross”), 1618, an early manuscript on the esoteric order of Rosicrucianism by Theophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, a likely pseudonym of the alchemist, physician, and astronomer Daniel Mögling

Permalink

Faust’s Höllenzwang, known as The Book of Hell’s Charms, is a legendary book kept in a church in Zellerfeld. If you’re unlucky enough to be able to read it, it summons the Devil. If he is summoned, pray that you’re able to read it backwards or he may take your soul.

Permalink

The Ancient Egyptians believed that the soul was comprised of 9 parts, one being the human body that was left behind. This is partially the reason for mummification, to preserve this piece of the soul and act as conduit to deliver offerings to the rest of it. Photo: Gary Todd (modified)

Permalink