In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Prospero, Duke of Milan, is ousted by his brother and exiled to an island. With the help of a friend, Prospero manages to take with him his beloved library.
Prospero, like his creator, lived in a time when boundaries between disciplines were not as rigid as they are today. Prospero's books would have dealt with the cosmos—spiritual and material, inner and outer—as a whole.
Prospero was a Hermeticist, probably modeled on the English magus John Dee. As the anonymous author of Meditations on the Tarot wrote, Hermeticists quest for "the communal soul of religion, science and art."
In this blog, I try to do the same. I'm not Prospero, just a student rummaging through his library and writing in the margins. Prospero's Books is about seeing the world as a whole, by looking at
Welcome! Please join the conversation.
—Kenneth W. Davis
(Note: Although I admire Peter Greenaway's film Prospero's Books, this blog is not directly about that film. )
John B. Sanford: The Invisible Partners: How the Male and Female in Each of Us Affects Our Relationships
Excellent introduction to Jung's concept of the anima and animus, our inner feminine and masculine.
Barbara Black Koltuv: Solomon & Sheba: Inner Marriage and Individuation
With a storyteller's style, a Jungian view of the great Biblical story.
Lawrence Kushner: Honey from the Rock, Special Anniversary Edition
A wonderfully written, typographically beautiful introduction to Jewish mysticism.
Anne Baring and Jules Cashford: The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image
A rich and compelling survey of the Sacred Feminine from the Paleolithic Age to the present.
John R. Van Eenwyk: Archetypes & Strange Attractors: The Chaotic World of Symbols
A monograph on how chaos theory can illuminate Jungian psychology.
Bernard Haisch: The Purpose-Guided Universe: Believing In Einstein, Darwin, and God
An astrophysicist's embrace of the Perennial Philosophy.
Darryl Reanney: Music of the Mind: An Adventure into Consciousness
A microbiologist and biochemist explores "another way of knowing."
Willis Barnstone: The Restored New Testament
My Lenten reading--a beautifully poetic translation of the New Testament, including the "Gnostic" Gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene, and Judas, and with all personal and place names in their original Aramaic, Hebrew, and other ancient languages. The experience is one of reading the books for the first time.
Joscelyn Godwin: The Golden Thread: The Ageless Wisdom of the Western Mystery Traditions
Sixteen brilliant short essays on the Western esoteric tradition, from the ancient Middle East to the 21st century.
Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
A thrilling read. Who'd have thought?
Tobias Churton: The Invisible History of the Rosicrucians: The World's Most Mysterious Secret Society
A fascinating and well-grounded look at the movement within its historical and philosophical context.
Umberto Eco: Foucault's Pendulum
An almost overwhelming novel of secret societies and those who become lost in them.
Karen Armstrong: The Case for God
An incredibly rich survey of conceptions of God in prehistory and history, making the case that the God-as-a-being attacked by the New Atheists has never until recently been the mainstream view.
Gordon Strachan: The Bible's Hidden Cosmology
An entertainingly odd, beautifully printed volume on the quadrivium--arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy--of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles.
Brian Swimme: The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos: Humanity and the New Story
A brief overview of cosmology, with astonishing experiments for the reader--experiments that make our knowledge of the cosmos visceral.
G. R. S. Mead: The Hymns of Hermes
An essay on "hymns" extracted from the larger Hermetica, and on their similarity to Gnostic Christian writings.
Lon Milo DuQuette: The Key to Solomon's Key: Secrets of Magic and Masonry
A romp through Masonic history and myth, with an amusing suggestion of what the real Masonic secret is.
William Fix: Lake of Memory Rising: Return of the Five Ancient Truths at the Heart of Religion
An enumeration and exploration of five beliefs shared by ancient mystery traditions, with odd but intriguing sidetracks into reincarnation and sacred number.
John H. Westerhoff: A People Called Episcopalians: A Brief Introduction to Our Peculiar Way of Life
A good short introduction to the Episcopal Church, with an emphasis on its basis in scripture, tradition, and reason.
Jay Kinney: The Masonic Myth: Unlocking the Truth About the Symbols, the Secret Rites, and the History of Freemasonry
An excellent introductory survey, second only to Chris Hodapp's Freemasons for Dummies, but with greater attention to Freemasonry's esoteric stream.