The Golden Thread of the Muses: How the Museum and Library Came to AlexandriaDavid Fideler, Ph.D.

The Philosopher Mathematicians of Alexandria: Euclid and HypatiaScott Olsen, Ph.D.

Geometry Lessons from the Great LibrarySteve Bass, M.A.

Nine Measures of Magic: The Papyri Graecae MagicaeLeonard George, Ph.D.

The Emerald Tablet of Hermes TrismegistusBrian Cotnoir

Alexandrian Alchemy and the Ascent of the Soul.Brian Cotnoir

The Hermetica: Wisdom of the IbisLeonard George, Ph.D.

Egyptian Ways of Initiation: The Path of Initiation in Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis and the HermeticaCrystal Addey, Ph.D.

Alexandria, City of the LogosDavid Fideler, Ph.D.

Alexandria and the PheonixAlan Cardew, Ph.D.

Alexandrian Allegory: Finding the SoulJohn Dillon

Synesii and Comparative ReligionJay Bregman

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of ThomasYasmin Hussein

The Red Book of C.G. Jung and the Lion-Headed GodRichard Noll, Ph.D.

Tarot as the Book of ThothEllen Goldberg, M. A.

Sufism in the Atmosphere of Alexandria: From Dhul-Nun al-Misri to the Brethren of PurityChristopher Bamford

The Church of the EastNicholas Goodrick-Clarke, D.Phil.

The Quest for Alexandria: G. R. S Mead’s Quest SocietyClare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.

The Golden Thread of the Muses: How the Museum and Library Came to Alexandria

David Fideler, Ph.D.

The Museum and Library at Alexandria were the first attempts to acquire and preserve all human knowledge and advance the development of knowledge in an institutional setting. This made Alexandria the world’s first “university town.” But little has ever been written about how the Museum and Library were actually founded. The surprising fact is that these institutions were founded by a member of Aristotle’s school, to advance the kind of systematic research that had begun earlier in Athens. This workshop will explore the earlier Greek “Academies of the Muses,” including Plato’s Academy, and how they led to the formation of the Museum and Library.

The Philosopher Mathematicians of Alexandria:

Euclid and Hypatia

Scott Olsen, Ph.D.

Euclid in his Elements brilliantly proceeds from point, line, and plane, to solid, culminating in Book 13 in the five Platonic “regular” solids.  Hypatia of Alexandria, “the woman philosopher of antiquity” who taught Synesius how to build an astrolabe, endured the most savage martyrdom, and can be considered to reflect the highest ideals and virtues of the divine feminine, beauty and “Sophia” or wisdom.

Geometry Lessons from the Great Library

Steve Bass, M.A.

The Library of Hellenistic Alexandria was the greatest repository of intellectual tradition in the history of the West.  Its leading writers and thinkers set geometrical patterns that were followed by philosophers and designers for almost two millennia. We will consider the work of some of the Library’s outstanding geometers such as Euclid, Ptolemy, Eratosthenes, and Hypatia, to reveal the Neoplatonic cosmological geometries that informed their mathematical imaginations. How was the radius of the earth measured with only a stick?  How did the Pythagorean Tetracktys transform into the Tree of the Kabbalah? And how did Ptolemy’s instructions for mapmaking lead to the Renaissance rediscovery of perspective drawing?

Nine Measures of Magic:

The Papyri Graecae Magicae

Leonard George, Ph.D.

According to an old Hebrew saying, of the ten measures of magic God gave the world, nine were delivered to Egypt.  Nowhere else in antiquity bore such magical repute as the land of the Nile.  A library of magical texts found in Thebes has given us an astonishing glimpse into the mentality of ancient magicians.  Known as the Papyri Graecae Magicae, these spell-books reveal that practitioners aimed not just at mundane goals like avoiding crocodiles and winning at love, or ritual practicalities such as gaining a spirit-helper and muting talkative skulls during ceremonies, but also at such lofty ends as communing with gods and becoming immortal.

The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus

Brian Cotnoir

The Emerald Tablet is a Hermetic alchemical text concerning the cycle of creation. This workshop will explore the origins and meaning of this short enigmatic text. To tease out its meaning, we will read several versions of the Tablet and compare it to early Alexandrian alchemical texts as well as to Gnostic writings from the Nag Hammadi library.

Alexandrian Alchemy and the Ascent of the Soul.

Brian Cotnoir

Alexandrian alchemy is an active meditation on creation and the ascent of the soul. It sees substance and process as symbol. This workshop will examine actual alchemical processes and the materials used and, through reading selections from alchemical texts, gain insight into this intriguing worldview and its possible meanings for today.

The Hermetica: Wisdom of the Ibis

Leonard George, Ph.D.

The ibis was a common shore-bird of the Nile, often seen on the murky strand between solid earth and flowing water.  So it proved an apt symbol for Thoth, Egyptian god of liminality – the space between certainties.  Thoth was also lord of writing and magic.  It seemed natural, then, in the Greco-Egyptian cauldron of ideas that was old Alexandria, that Thoth would merge with the Greek Hermes, also a deity of trickery, messages and marvels.  This fusion gave rise to the writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus.  The Hermetic tomes laid out a path of esoteric remembrance and rebirth that has wound through the centuries to the present.

Egyptian Ways of Initiation:

The Path of Initiation in Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis and the Hermetica

Crystal Addey, Ph.D.

In the Late Antique period, Greek and Egyptian philosophical, religious and spiritual practices became deeply intertwined in a syncretistic blend of cultural and spiritual praxis. Alexandria was the greatest example of this blend of spiritual cosmologies, mythologies and religious practices.  Initiation was absolutely central to ancient religious and spiritual praxis within Egyptian, Greek and Roman contexts and mystery cults.  It has long been recognized that some of the dialogues of the Hermetica deal with an initiatory path thought to culminate in a profound philosophical and spiritual gnosis. Less well known is the initiatory aspect of Iamblichus’ dialogue with Porphyry recorded in his work De Mysteriis.

Alexandria, City of the Logos

David Fideler, Ph.D.

The central concept of Logos holds all the ancient spiritual traditions of Alexandria together, but its meaning has been lost to the modern world. While often translated as “Word,” the actual meanings of Logos are much deeper, referring to the cosmic intelligence present in both the cosmos and the human soul. We will cover the origins of Logos in the most ancient sources, and discuss its importance in the Hermetic Writings, Philo of Alexandria, Alexandrian Christianity, Neoplatonism, and Plotinus. We will also discuss how the Logos was symbolized in myth and sacred writings, including selected parables in the Christian New Testament.

Alexandria and the Pheonix

Alan Cardew, Ph.D.

Since its foundation, Alexandria has always had a secret connection with the Phoenix. The city is associated with obliteration – its ancient library burned, its philosophers cruelly dismembered – but destruction has always been followed by rebirth on a higher level. Now, the great library of the ancient world has been resurrected in the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina, The rebirth of the greatest center of culture and knowledge of the ancient world is the supreme symbol of the life of the mind purged and purified by the fires of destruction. For this reason, from ancient times the city was also symbolized by the Phoenix, the golden bird which was reborn from its own ashes and was for centuries a symbol of the redemption and enlightenment of the individual soul, the conversion of lead into gold and recovery of spirit out of matter. This workshop will explore these profound connections and will give special attention to the alchemist Zosimos of Panopolis and the philosopher Hypatia whose work aimed to rekindle the brilliance of the soul.

Alexandrian Allegory: Finding the Soul

John Dillon

We will take a number of representative passages of the great Jewish and Christian teachers Philo and Origen on the exegesis of the Old and New Testaments and consider how they illustrate a distinctive approach to the text.  The written text before us is merely the ‘body’, while allegorical exegesis, proceeding according to certain fixed procedures, is that which finds the ‘soul’. In this way we can see a distinctively Alexandrian approach to the discovery of meaning.

Synesii and Comparative Religion

Jay Bregman, Ph.D.

We can speak of “Synesii”, “mirror images” of the philosophical bishop Synesius who developed a wide ranging Syncretism. These include Neoplatonists Ficino and Pico in Renaissance Florence with their interests in Platonism, Kabbalah, and Hermeticism; the seventeenth century Cambridge Platonists in England; nineteenth century Romantics such as Coleridge; and the American Transcendentalists (Emerson thought Synesius “magnificent”). In the twentieth century, Mircea Eliade did much to academicize this outlook, and syncretist Joseph Campbell helped to bring it to a broad audience.

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas

Yasmin Hussein

The Gospel of Thomas is one of the 52 manuscripts written in Coptic and discovered in 1945 in Egypt. It comprises an anthology of 114 logia spoken by Jesus and collected by Thomas. The text is regarded as part of the Gnostic knowledge based on the evolutionary development of consciousness, and raises various questions. Can Gnosticism be “taught” to others, and if so, what is the role of the “Savior”? Which path would lead the disciple to enter the stage of living experience? What could the role of Didymos Judas Thomas have been in this process of “Teaching the Unteachable”?

The Red Book of C.G. Jung and the Lion-Headed God

Richard Noll, Ph.D.

In his visionary diary known as The Red Book, C.G. Jung lost his soul and found it again through the intercession of entities associated with the Gnostic cosmos of Alexandria. Jung’s profound experiences lead to the question of how does one find one’s soul? Jung’s apotheosis as the Leontocephalos – the lion-headed god, a variant of Abraxas – gives us clues to the perennial path open to all who seek understanding.

Tarot as the Book of Thoth

Ellen Goldberg, M. A.

Thoth, the Egyptian God of wisdom, writing and magic, was recognized by the Greeks to be analogous to Hermes, and their synthesis became Hermes Trismegistus. The Tarot is a compendium of this tradition – a river of wisdom into which the streams of Kabbalah, Alchemy, Pythagorean mathematics, Astrology and Hermetic philosophy flowed.  Both lecture and experiential journey will be used to explore themes of the Hermetic Tradition as they are expressed in the Major Arcana of the Tarot. Our quest for Self-realization can be radically enhanced by engaging with the archetypal images the Tarot.

Sufism in the Atmosphere of Alexandria:

From Dhul-Nun al-Misri to the Brethren of Purity

Christopher Bamford

Our focus will be on the legendary Sufi saint known as Dhul-Nun al-Misri (796 -859 CE) who was an alchemist, a thaumaturge, a reputed reader of hieroglyphs, and a

Hermetic/Neoplatonic philosopher, called by Suhrawardi “the leaven of

the Pyrthagoreans.” Dhul-Nun is regarded by many as the founder of Sufism, and is credited with introducing the concept of Gnosis into Islam. We will also explore the transmission and absorption of the wisdom of Alexandria — including Platonism, Hermeticism, Alchemy, and Pythagoreanism — in the Sufi and mystical Jewish traditions. We will end our quest with the Brethren of Purity, who were possibly

a medium of transmission of this wisdom back into the West.

The Church of the East

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, D.Phil.

History as taught today tends to forget that once the largest and most influential Christian churches existed to the East of the Roman Empire, with a reach extending to Central Asia, China and India along the Silk Road. Often dubbed Nestorian, they played an important role in the dispersal of Hellenism to Islam. In Syria and Mesopotamia, Hellenism was a continuous and powerful cultural force, and Muslim theology, philosophy, and science grew on soil saturated with Hellenistic culture. In due course, Constantinople would declare the Churches of the East heretical, but they essentially mediated Hellenistic and Christian thought, alchemy, science and medicine to the Arab culture in these lands.

The Quest for Alexandria:

G. R. S. Mead’s Quest Society

Clare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.

During the 1890s, G. R. S. Mead (1863-1933) set about translating works of Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, and early Christianity, revealing a rich, but hitherto almost unknown, metaphysical literature stemming from Alexandria.  In these texts there could be discerned, Mead believed, a common metaphysical ground from which to promote the reconciliation of religions. Mead’s works sparked a minor revolution in art and letters. His Quest Society and Journal attracted many eminent intellectuals, including the mystic Evelyn Underhill, Rumi scholar Reynold Nicholson, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Martin Buber, Gustav Meyrink, and a circle of writers in London including Laurence Binyon, W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, and the composer Gustav Holst.