Pythagoras through the AgesJoscelyn Godwin, Ph.D.
The World Soul: From Pythagorean Italy to the Gaia HypothesisDavid Fideler, Ph.D.
Into the Volcano: The Teachings of EmpedoclesLeonard George, Ph.D.
Sicily: The Land Speaks Its StoriesDouglas Kenning, Ph.D.
Archimedes and the 13 Semi-Regular SolidsScott Olsen, Ph.D.
Muslim SicilyLeonard Chiarelli, Ph.D.
Sufism in Italy During the Medieval PeriodAlessandra Marchi, Ph.D.
Prophetic Kabbalah and a 13th Century Rabbi’s Mission to the Pope:
In the Footsteps of Rabbi Abraham Abulafiya
Paul Fenton, Ph.D.
East Meets West: The Intriguing Court of Roger II of SicilyKaren Ralls, Ph.D.
“The Wonder of the World”: Frederick II of Hohenstaufen and his Sicilian CourtChristopher McIntosh, D.Phil.
Supernal Secrets and the Greenness of the World: The Visionary Life of Hildegard of BingenClare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.
Food and Festivities: Sicily’s Classical HeritageMary Taylor Simeti

Pythagoras through the Ages
Joscelyn Godwin, Ph.D.

Pythagoras stands like a prophetic oak at the dawn of the Western Esoteric Tradition, dropping acorns from which saplings have sprouted ever since. Every age has had its own image of him, and made its own use of his discoveries, doctrines, and legends. If a single theme runs through all of them, it is the reconciliation of spirituality and science.

The World Soul:
From Pythagorean Italy to the Gaia Hypothesis
David Fideler, Ph.D.

This illustrated presentation explores the ancient idea of living nature, how it went into eclipse, and how it is now re-emerging through new scientific discoveries. For most Greek philosophers, the universe was seen as a holistic, living, and intelligent structure, a vision that persisted in different ways from the ancient world through the Renaissance, and helped to maintain a harmonious relationship between human beings and the world in which we live. With the Scientific Revolution, nature came to be pictured as a dead, inanimate machine. This worldview helped humans gain power over nature, but it also led to a crisis in which human beings became spectators in a world now devoid of life, intelligence, and creativity. Over the last century, every underlying premise of the mechanistic worldview has been proven to be false (This presentation will be given in recorded form).

Into the Volcano:
The Teachings of Empedocles
Leonard George, Ph.D.

Empedocles of Akragas was a shamanic figure, renowned for prophecies and healings. He promised his students the power to rescue departed souls. Empedocles taught that we are spirits, endlessly reborn, caught in a vortex of Earth, Water, Air and Fire. This doctrine permeates later esoteric thought. It was said that Empedocles leapt into Mt. Etna so that he would be remembered as a god, not a man. But the tale may symbolize secret rites of Hekate.

Sicily: The Land Speaks Its Stories
Douglas Kenning, Ph.D.

Classical allegory and myth describe our lives: its archetypes inhabit our dreams and our art museums. Visitors to Sicily are fortunate to experience myth where it was born and has lived for millennia: they can know it through the stony, dry, tangible Mediterranean realities of place. Sicels, Elymians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, all felt the land and sea to be alive with story, and through myth they maintained a sacred relationships to them. How do we listen to these ancient sites?

Archimedes and the 13 Semi-Regular Solids
Scott Olsen, Ph.D.

The great Archimedes of Siracusa, Sicily, is recorded by Pappus in his Collectio of mathematical works as having discovered the thirteen Semi-Regular Solids. Eleven of them are formed by truncations (cutting) of the vertices of the famous five Regular Platonic Solids. The mathematical ratios present in the thirteen Archimedean and five Platonic solids are the scaffolding upon which Nature and the Cosmos itself are built. For example, the truncated icosahedron (or soccer ball) has led to important discoveries in quasi-crystals and the treatment of the HIV virus. By examining the underlying resonances of these famous solids, rooted in the Golden Ratio or Divine Proportion, we can put ourselves in resonance with the inner working of Nature herself.

Muslim Sicily
Leonard Chiarelli, Ph.D.

The years of Arab rule had a far-reaching impact upon the island’s ethnic and social character. The peoples who came to Sicily in the 10th and 11th centuries reflected the inhabitants that comprised the Muslim world from Spain to Persia. Where did the Arab and Berber tribes that settled on the island establish themselves? What kind of religious, literary and scientific culture did they create? How did Muslim rule impact Italy during the Middle Ages? This talk will report on this inheritance, the areas where it has remained in the consciousness of Sicilians, and how it has affected modern Sicilian literature from Pirandello to Camilleri.

Sufism in Italy during the Medieval Period
Alessandra Marchi, Ph.D.

The Arab/Muslim conquest of Sicily and the south of Italy began as early as the 7th century, and the Islamic presence continued for centuries, giving Sicily the appearance of a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural state. The question of how Sufism in particular penetrated Sicilian culture and habits is difficult to answer precisely. This talk is an investigation of how Sufism was known in the Middle Ages, and how it passed through Sicilian and Italian culture in mystical traditions, literature and poetry.

Prophetic Kabbalah and a 13th Century Rabbi’s Mission to the Pope:
In the Footsteps of Rabbi Abraham Abulafiya
Paul Fenton, Ph.D.

This lecture is a biographical account of the strange saga of Rabbi Abraham Abulafiya, one of the most fascinating figures in the history of Kabbalah. His search for the legendary Sambatyon River brought him from Saragossa in Spain to Messina in Sicily, where, impelled by an "inner voice", he wrote a number of mystical essays before proceeding to Rome in 1280 to confront Pope Nicholas III. Imprisoned and condemned to death, he miraculously escaped the stake and fled to Sicily, where he announced the onset of the Messianic era.

East Meets West: The Intriguing Court of Roger II of Sicily
Karen Ralls, Ph.D.

Medieval Sicily was a land of three or more civilizations, Greek, Arab and Latin, often held under a single ruler. The Norman Roger II (1095 – 1154) was the first King of the Two Sicilies. He regularly entertained at court the renowned Arab geographer al-Idrisi and the Greek historian Nilus Doxopatrius, creating one of the most stimulating courts of the 12th century, one that was unusually tolerant in religious and intellectual matters. Intellectual life in Sicily was greatly rejuvenated with new Islamic impulses under his rule. Were there also connections with the Knights Templar, the early Knights Hospitaller, and other 12th century knightly and esoteric influences?  Roger united all Norman conquests in Italy into one kingdom, thus leaving a fascinating legacy.

“The Wonder of the World”:
Frederick II of Hohenstaufen and his Sicilian Court
Christopher McIntosh, D.Phil.

We will go back in time to the amazing court of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1194-1250), known as “Stupor Mundi” (wonder of the world), one of the most dazzling and remarkable monarchs in European history, who spoke six languages and was equally brilliant as a scholar, falconer, poet, ruler and military commander. He ruled mainly from his Sicilian kingdom, which he made into a thriving center of art, science and learning, embracing Islamic, Jewish and Christian culture. Like Rudolf II in Prague four centuries, later he brought to his court at Palermo a galaxy of artists, architects, musicians, poets, mathematicians, astronomers, alchemists and occultists. Among the latter was the legendary Scottish magus Michael Scot. Frederick played into the millenarian prophecies of the age, acting out the role of the sacred monarch who would usher in a new era. As part of this role he crowned himself King of Jerusalem and commissioned his troubadours to sing of the Holy Grail.

Supernal Secrets and the Greenness of the World:
The Visionary Life of Hildegard of Bingen
An Illustrated Talk by Clare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.

The 12th century saw an effloresce of mysticism among women, and Hildegard of Bingen, known as the ‘Sibyl of the Rhine’, was perhaps the most extraordinary amongst them. Her beautiful pictures, sublime musical compositions, and her medical practice all drew upon her mystical visions which combine the Christian ideal of love, and the Platonic world described in the Timaeus. Her visions of Power, Wisdom and Love as instruments of creation convey an ideal that came to be reflected everywhere in the art and architecture, literature, mathematics, and music of the period, and went on to influence both Trithemius and Paracelsus. Her work was intended to stimulate the inner imagination of the fiery soul and so lead the individual deeper into the heart of the spiritual mysteries and the great universal love from which they spring.

Food and Festivities: Sicily’s Classical Heritage
Mary Taylor Simeti

Sicily was sacred to Persephone, and the seasonal rhythms of agriculture which her myth represents still exert a strong influence upon daily life on the island. Cold, wet winters alternate with long months of heat and drought according to a palimpsest of calendars – agrarian, classical and liturgical. Propitiation, harvest and thanksgiving follow one upon another, fundamental moments in the Sicilian year. The rites and ritual feasts concerning food and food production, so deeply essential to sustaining life itself, are conservative and often impervious to change, and thus it is here that the influence of Sicily’s classical past lingers most visibly.