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Table of the Dawn
an esoteric cohort
Introducing Table of the Dawn: an esoteric cohort!
Starting this December I will be opening up an esoteric cohort based on a very early version of a course I have submitted for a New Hall Fellowship at the Graduate Theological Union. Translation: a course that the facility is deciding if they have done enough research, displayed the ability to teach effectively in Fall of ‘23, and Spring of ‘24 as part of the curriculum at the Graduate Theological Union.
But that is more aimed towards academics, thought leaders, or people doing the ontological work in the academy, or academy adjacent.
Table of the Dawn: an esoteric cohort, aims to be something more, less, and much more fluid than that, in simultaneity.
A place where believers in the Divine of any stripe can find value in what has landed in the waste basket of modernity.
Or as a person whose story has been firmly planted in this land, like my family since 1855, where do we go for our sense of mystical resistance in this empire?
For those who believe, or even insist that the revolution must have this important ephemeral, surreal, and perhaps ludicrous component, where do we go?
Where are historical and cultural narratives that are at least acknowledging the work of decoloniality, if not centered on that premise?
These were some of the starting questions of this PhD work I am becoming very proud of, for better or for worse. But they all come from an idea that little lenny had after sending off for both sets of Roscurcian lessons (FRC vs AMORC, it sounds like a rap battle but it’s the orgs “signatures”) and reading through them, then checking sources in the library, then discovering books about the “Invisible College”, a secret society of thinkers who saw the world for how it is, not how theology or politics demand it be, and a lot of other stuff that weird queer edge of puberty me was thinking of checking out at school. That made me a frequent visitor to the counselors office so she could “check in'' with me, and a lot of my peers just clown me, but through it all little lenny stumbled upon a theory that I may or may not have been playing out most my life.
You see, one night when pouring through the awful books available to middle school Black kids about alchemy, theories of the universe that physical science had written out of countenance, magic, angels and the idea that every people had their own unique messengers, a lot on pre-adamism, and similarly weird books I can't even get at my current student level (but exist nonetheless), one of those weird nights hunched under my covers hoping not to get caught reading all night again, it struck me.
These folks believed if they “conquered” or ruled the astral plane, or ethereal plane, or even just the major symbols that made people believe in those things, the rest of the world would unknowingly be ordered how they saw fit.
Now dear reader, of note here is this may just be a neurodiverse thing. This may be a hyperlexic kid who is two weeks into reading some weird stuff, their hypercognitive subconscious process through all that info onto the wall, and that's what I saw. I was 11? 12?
The ways in which I process information is if I read it, I can rip through it, and my short term memory doesn't grab much that I don't hyperfocus on, but my brain is processing it all and two weeks later once it’s in my long term memory it’s as if I have always known it.
Brains are weird.
Now I read more than enough books that noted these 15th and 16th century thinkers through the lens of the 19th century resurgence of esoterica and the occult to “know” that no one who was respected or “smart” could take these maniacs who drank mercury seriously. They couldn’t possibly colonize the astral plane, could they?
Stupid right? Right? Little lenny you strange bundle of possibility.
Because then I started tracing who these “maniacs” were. In other books about other fields, say, history, this was Francis Bacon. This is Sir Athur Conyan Doyle. This is President Lincoln. What do their sincere beliefs about the esoteric make up of the world, and how one could use it for power say about this country, and reframe the ways it is constructed in our minds?
I believe the magic, ase, mysticism, conjure, folk catholicism, straight up Pennsylvania witchery (I heart you PA), grand french interpretations of German Rosicrucian movement, hoodoo, voodoo, and the indigenous seers, medicine people, shamans , and leaders who taught so many of us what little we know of this land is a tool we must recover.
I believe we need the everyday world and cosmology of not just our ancestors, but our great ones. We need the tools of Ben Franklin, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, John Brown, and the hundreds of thousands those names represent. We need the power Hati used to bring Napoleon to his knees.
Anyway, I'm not sure this class offers all that, but it does offer the practitioner tools and perspective. Once a month we will gather on zoom, I will record it, and I will go through about 1.5 hours of practical, participatory, critical thinking, theory, and a decolonial counter narrative to what most people call western esotericism. Or simply put: a people's history of magic.
A people's history of magic is now a newsletter within this newsletter at $365 a year. Or a dollar a day. You still receive the newsletter this newsletter and ….
…..you will receive cohort exclusive updates, most reading materials via pdf—if not access to view original source materials—access to the Zoom class, the link to download the class for reference or asynchronous use, as well as any unique esoteric material or materials we co-create, and finally access to view every presentation I use during instruction.
For the everyday practitioner the value add is knowing plainly the roots of most the tools used come from, and why they are used the way they are today, and what else you may be able to do with them according to some of the earliest sources or traditions we know of in the americas.
First class is Saturday, December 17th, at 1:00pm PST, so sign ups now are appropriate. Prep for the first class should only take you 15-20 minutes, and every class thereafter you will have a month to explore the readings at your leisure. We will meet on the second Saturday of the month, every month, at the time above.
I am sorry dear sweet person who wants to be there, that's the best time for me. But I promise to provide as much asynchronous content as I can, knowing it does impact the ability for the consciousness of instructor and participant to be shifted by their experience.
A word about access, some of the materials are not in the greatest digital formats, so please reach out to me so we can accommodate you.
Here is the early draft of the GTU version of the syllabus intro, and apeek at the first two months:
A People’s History of Magic is a course designed to offer practitioners the opportunity to gain competency in the still-emergent field of what has been called “western esotericism,” and understand some of the major concepts, critiques, and debates in the field. It will simultaneously offer a counter narrative critical of past academic claims around the history and construction of esotericism as we know it in the Americas.
Critical study of this field is needed not just because of its resurgence in American culture, but also to challenge its overtly Western European worldview and roots as well as its entanglement in the Northern American political construct of “whiteness”.
In essence, Decolonial Counter Narrative Building is an attempt at a practical application of some principles from the vast body of work Decoloniality in Historical and Cultural studies of “New Religious Movements”, specifically American esotericism, and its roots.
Practitioners will be exploring dominant historical narrative and divergence of that same narrative through a critical analysis of the classic works of “western esoterica”, its core thinkers, great movements, and scholars.
This course takes into account in its power analysis class, race, gender, indigeneity as science, and world view in opposition to the colonial project while exploring the consequences of humanity’s severed relationship to land/space.
We will privilege the ontological reality, self reports, narratives, sacred art, epistemologies, theologies, mysticism, of Black practitioners of esoterica in the Americas, and center their experiences.
Instructors and students will look at the esoteric beliefs and systems that upheld the colonial matrix of power, their adherents' heartfelt beliefs that they could remake the world like post reformation Europe through magic, the project called “The Great Work”.
Practitioners will start to identify white supremacy’s deleterious effects in the constructs of “modern magic”, esoterica, and spirituality, while gaining a more critical lens of the thought leader industrial complex and cottage industry built around it, including the recent revival of interest in “plant medicine.”
Practitioners will identify modern esoteric practices in the Americas through artifact inspection, in class demonstrations of esoteric practices by instructor, guest practitioners, academics, and using the shared “glossary” as agreed upon language, common in modern esoteric practice in the Americas.
Class Flow for the day:
Greetings, small group first shared glossary activity:
Every week starting this class, practitioners will learn one term from the “Rocuscrician Glossary of Terms”, the glossary of “Alchemical Symbols”, and other items provided to be added to a classroom “Shared Glossary of Esoterica”.
First class will be facilitated in small groups, but starting January this will occur before the sacred encounter, and practitioners should be able to describe in their own language and terms the meaning of up to two terms, and their opinion of at least one that should be added to the “Shared Glossary of Esoterica”.
Participants may also challenge a term and have it removed because you feel it is a dead paradigm or concept during this time. If you win the challenge you may rewrite, or strike, or add a new term all practitioners must now use in group discussion.
Sacred Encounter: Honoring the Ancestors with Libations, ancestral work, and ancestral altar construction.
First topic: A People's History of Magic: Is Magic Real?
Break: Dance Party
35 minute Q and A.
Second Class- January 14th, 2023 1pm PST
Class Flow for the day:
Greetings, Check in’s, and Shared Glossary of Esoterica activity (Explained above.)
Sacred Encounter: Cartomancy: subversive epistemology of the poor.
Second topic: Hermes Trismegistus as African church father? Alchemist? Myth? Divinity? Corpus of stories, or the hidden master?
Break: Dance Party.
35 minute Q and A.
To sign up, go subscriptions and click the table of the dawn option!
Or for a monthly option of 33 a month: https://lennyduncan.substack.com/Tableatthedawn