My latest newsletter is live. It features my retelling of a Kabbalistic folktale and personal reflections around it. Please give it a read!
The Serafim or “Fiery Ones” are serpent-like fire angels of incomprehensible size with six wings and sixteen faces. There is one for each of the four winds and they are reborn each new day from the river of light that flows from the Throne of Glory. In Kabbalah they are the higher angels of the first created divine realm of Beriah where they continually burn themself up into nothingness. Image: Tamarah Hayardeni
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
Kaitar is a demon whose name may be derived from the Hebrew word for summit and is found around mountains and other high places. He serves the demons Magoth and Kore who are described in Mather’s edition of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage. Image: Eve Harms CC-NC-BY-3.0
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.
Depictions of dreams of a patients in Jungian analysis by M.A.C.T., 1970s. Source: Wellcome Collection
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
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)
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.
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
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