In Christian legend, a military saint in northern Europe during the Middle Ages. Patron of Flemish brewers. Feast, 8 September.

The life of St. Adrian is found in The Golden Legend, a collection of saints’ lives written in the 13th century by Jacobus de Voragine. Adrian was a pagan officer at the imperial Roman court at Nicomedia. When some Christians were arrested he witnessed their strength and was converted, saying he was to be accounted with them. When the emperor heard this he had Adrian thrown into prison. His wife, Natalie, who secretly was a Christian, ran to prison and “kissed the chains that her husband was bound with,” according to The Golden Legend. She often visited her husband in prison, urging him on to martyrdom. When the emperor heard that women were entering the prison, he ordered the practice stopped. But “when Natalie heard that, she shaved her head and took the habit of a man, and served the saints in prison and made the other women do so.”

This state of affairs, however, could not continue. The saint was eventually martyred in the most gruesome way. The prison guards “hewed off his legs and thighs, and Natalie prayed them that they would smite off his hands, and that he should be like to the other saints that had suffered more than he, and when they had hewn them off he gave up his spirit to God.” Natalie took her husband’s remains and fled the city, settling in Argyropolis, where she died in peace, though she is included among Christian martyrs in the Roman church calendar of saints.

In Christian art St. Adrian is portrayed with an anvil in his hand or at his feet. Sometimes a sword or ax is beside him. His sword was kept as a relic at Walbeck in Saxony, Germany. Emperor Henry II used it when preparing to go against the Turks and Hungarians.

 

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The Tantric tradition in Hinduism has proposed the existence of an invisible and subtle human anatomy that both parallels the human body and exist in its same space.  That subtic anatomy consists of an energy system that flows through the human body much like the system of blood vessels or nerves.  The primary channel runs along the spinal column, from its base to the top of the head.  The primary channel is punctuated with seven essential psychic centers called chakras (also spelled charkas).  It is believed that a storehouse of cosmic energy exists as latent potential in most individuals and that this energy called kundalini, can be awakened in various ways, can travel up the spine awakening the various chakras as it moves, and upon reaching the crown chakra as the top of the head, can bring enlightenment.  Belief in the Tantric anatomy, kundalini energy, and the chakras was brought into Theosophy in the late nineteenth century, and permeated the groups of the Western Esoteric tradition throughout the twentieth century.

As developed within Hindu and Esoteric thought, chakras have come to represent different attributes and activities associated with human life.  For example, if a person’s lower chakras are activated (apart from the higher ones), the individual is believed to operate from lower motives — the sex drive, gluttony, avarice, and selfishness.  the Fourth chakra, associated with the heart, is seen as the most active chakra among religious people, accounting for a variety of actions flowing from compassion and devotion.  Spiritual healing is usually seen as an artifact of the heart chakra.

The sixth chakra, better known as the third eye, is said to be located in the center of the forehead and is associated with a range of psychic abilities.  After closing one’s eyes, one can usually see pictures at what appears to be a screen on the inside of the skull below the forehead.  This phenomenon is commonly suggested to be a demonstration of the third eye.  Attention to images that spontaneously appear on this inner screen while one is in a relaxed state (meditation) is an early step in most psychic development processes.

Some gurus (spiritual teachers) are credited with the ability to initially awaken the kundalini, a process called shaktipat.  Those who teach kundalini yoga will also advise different activities, including various forms of controlled breathing that will further encourage the rise of the kundalini.  Many practitioners of kundalini yoga claim to feel the rise of the energy during yoga exercises, and there are apocryphal reports of the sudden rise of kundalini doing physical damage to the body (though none of these stories have been verified).  Among the prominent twentieth century teachers of kundalini yoga was Padit Gopi Krishna (1903-1984), who claimed that kundalini was a biological force that could be studied scientifically.  While this initially interested some people with scientific training, no research results have been published that offer to prove Gopi Krishna’s claims about kundalini.

 

 

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Grimoires are books containing descriptions and instructions for performing magical rituals.  The earliest were written as expressions of a Christianized Esotericism in the Middle Ages.  As they were in essence heretical, grimoires existed as handwritten volumes carefully guarded by their owners.  The information any grimoire contained would be passed only to a few highly trusted colleagues or students, hence the tradition that young magicians carefully copy the grimoires lent by their instructor in the magical arts.

Among the oldest of the medieval grimoires to survive was The Key of Solomon, the manuscript of which (written in Greek) has been tentatively dated to the thirteenth century.  In the sixteenth century, in the wake of the relative freedom provided by the Protestant Reformation in Europe and the invention of moveable type, a very few grimoires (or portions thereof) were published although the average person remained ignorant of their contents or even their existence.

These earliest grimoires were written with an understanding of a world inhabited by a variety of supernatural beings, most prominently angels and demons.  The materials in the grimoires thus included a list of the names of the inhabitants of the supernatural world, how to contact them in relative safely, how to command them to carry out one’s wishes (the essence of the magical act), and how to banish them from one’s presence.  There were also details of physical objects necessary and/or helpful in conducting a magical ritual, including various seals that protected the magician should things go wrong.  Grimoires could be divided between those that centered on contact with angels and those professing contact with demonic forces.

The seventeenth and eighteenth century were marked by a changing worldview in which the ready ability to contact angels and demons by magical (or other) means was widely questioned, both by Protestants and by religious skeptics.  As a result, the popularity and knowledge of magical operations and the materials needed to conduct them declined markedly.  However, in the nineteenth century, a revival of magic took place.  The fountainhead of that revival was the publication of the English text of a demonic grimoire, The Magus, by Francis Barrett in 1801.  The book gave instructions in conjuring a variety of evil spirits.

A full half-century later, Eliphas Levi (1810-1875), the most important magical writer of his generation, published a number of books explaining magic in a post-scientific world, ascribing the success of magic to a cosmic power not unlike that described in the writings of the mesmerists, rather than placing demons and supernatural beings at the center of the action.  However, in his 1856 volume, The Ritual of Transcendent Magic, Levi discussed the several grimoires with which he had become familiar.  In 1889 Samuel L. MacGregor Mathers (1854-1918) published The Key of Solomon, which became the basis for constructing a whole new set of magical rituals for a group led by Mathers, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the most prominent of several ceremonial magic groups of the period.

The Golden Dawn’s most eminent scholar-member, Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942), surveyed a number of grimoires in his 1898 book, The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts, Including the Mysteries of Goetic Theurgy, Sorcery, and Infernal Necromancy.  Six years later, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the bad boy of the golden Dawn, all but destroyed the organization by revealing many of its inner secrets when he published a copy of The Lesser Key of Solomon (also known as The Lemegton), which he had acquired from Mathers.

Crowley, completed the psychologizing of magic, revamping it apart from the trappings of the medieval supernatural world and the Christian presuppositions assumed by the early grimoires.  Through the twentieth century, the grimoires were replaced by the instruction books published for use within the several magical orders, most notably the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), that emerged as the Golden Dawn declined.  A number of English editions of the medieval grimoires were published during that time, more as curiosities than as arcane texts sought by the slowly growing magical community.

In the last half of the twentieth century, another new generation of grimoires began to appear.  A few attempted to fit within the continuing tradition of post-Crowley ritual magic, such as Nathan Elkana’s The Master Grimoire of Magickal Rites and Ceremonies (1982), but most originated from a totally new branch of the Esoteric community, modern Neo-pagan Witchcraft, or Wicca.

Wicca emerged as a new religious movement in the 1950s, the brainchild of Gerald B. Gardner (1884-1964) and his early associates, including Doreen Valiente (1922-1999).  It is an attempt to recreate ancient Pagan religion with a focus upon worship of the Great Mother deity, her consort the Horned God, and a number of lesser deities.  The Goddess is evoked in a magical setting, and practitioners learn to make their way through life by utilizing magic to assist them in both their mundane and spiritual goals.  Gardner and Valiente put together a grimoire that contained ritual material for Wiccan covens, including instructions and rituals for the regular biweekly meetings (esbats) and the eight annual festivals (sabbats).  Variations on the gardnerian rituals (which were held in the nude) began to circulate in the nascent Wiccan community in the 1970s.

Very soon after the mergence of Gardnerian Witchcraft, in 1964, while information on the community was still a matter of intense interest by the tabloid press, a dissident member in England anonymously published the Wiccan rituals.  Through the 1970s, several variations of the rituals were published by members of the growing community who felt that keeping them secret was no longer important, most notably American priestess Lady Sheba (1972).  In recent years, a large number of new Wiccan grimoires have been issued, some as a means of attracting members to new Wiccan groups.  The publication of such books has provided resources for the large number of solitary witches, those who practice apart from participation in any coven.

The effect of the publication of all the grimoires in the late twentieth century has been to make all of the secrets of the worlds of ritual magic and Witchcraft available to the general public.  Those who continue to practice magic do so with an understanding that the true secrets of their craft are revealed not in the texts but in the practice, and thus the secrets of the esoteric realms remain just as hidden today as in centuries past.

 

 

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