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Image Within/ Image Without: Iconography, Symbols, and the Psychology Reflected Therein - A Discussion of Historical and Modern Divinatory Practices with Dr. Al Cummins and Jesse Hathaway Diaz
Morbid Anatomy Museum
Brooklyn, NY
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Image Within/ Image Without: Iconography, Symbols, and the Psychology Reflected Therein - A Discussion of Historical and Modern Divinatory Practices with Dr. Al Cummins and Jesse Hathaway Diaz
Date: Monday April 18th
Time: 7pm
Admission: $15
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, 11215 Brooklyn

For the third installment of the series Psychoanalysis, Art & the Occult, we welcome Dr. Alexander Cummins and Jesse Hathaway Diaz, as they speak from varying albeit intersecting positions about image magic, iconography, divination, the passions and the psychology reflected therein.

The end of the early modern period marked the beginning of the modern notion of the emotions, as distinct from pre-modern notions of the passions. Against this background, many occult philosophers and magical practitioners from various socio-economic strata sought to map, manage, and manipulate states of and proclivities towards such passional affectivities, for both medical and sorcerous goals. One means was through image magic. Such images ranged from icons for contemplation to astrological-magical sigils (a term much later popularized via Austin Osman Spare by modern Chaos magicians) cast at elected times to store and radiate astral influence.

These images utilized occult principles of cosmological organization (in the use of ontological astrological categories such as the 4 elements, 7 planets, 12 Zodiacal signs and 36 decans) as well as principles of operation  such as reflection, similitude, signature, and sympathy. They also represent a series of fascinating and historically fruitful micro-studies into the deeper epistemological turn of the early modern period involving shifting comprehensions of vision, doubt, phantasy and the imagination as demonstrated in tracing developments of faculty psychology, Christian cabala, and wider occult philosophy of affect and emotionology, which Cummins will explore.

Where these classifications come most into play in many other traditions is in the unique purvey of the Diviner. The need to understand and create metrics describing the tendencies of behavior and personality is far more pervasive than the more widely accepted vocabulary of modern Western psychoanalysis. While the immediate benefit of these revelations are best contextualized within their culture's pervading cosmovision, a survey of how this translates as practical information outside of a given culture or system of belief is possible. Hathaway Diaz examines this interplay between Diviner and Divined within traditions such as Cuban Santeria and Ifá, Brazilian Quimbanda, and Meso-American Indigenous Astrology, drawing upon experience as a diviner and initiate. First examining the root impulse and principle drive, often deemed an independent being or spiritual source in sympathy with the person being read, the manifestation of this impulse is guided through an active wrestling with many forces, and certain patterns become identifiable and possible outcomes examined in foresight. Some forces are considered permanent, others passing, but all reveal a complex insight into the makeup of the complex of souls in these different traditions, often providing a resolution and advice in manifesting the more positive side of these seeds of action. Here on the Diviner's mat, in the Calendar keeper's analysis: demons are consulted, gods go to war, and we manifest destiny through prescription and proscription.

This event is part of a series exploring the intersection, integration and application of psychoanalytic theory, the arts, and the occult, curated by psychoanalyst, Dr. Vanessa Sinclair. Throughout the series, Sinclair hosts a variety of psychoanalysts, psychologists, artists, writers, and occultists from a wide range of backgrounds and theoretical orientations. Presenters discuss their work, personal experience and areas of research interest, opening up a dialogue between practitioners in fields of study that rarely have a chance to engage with one another yet often operate in similar and complementary ways.

Alexander Cummins, Ph.D. is an historian of magic and the passions, whose research focuses on early modern folk magic, grimoires, necromancy and love magic. He has written for occult publishers Scarlet Imprint and Hadean Press, as well as various academic anthologies such as the Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic series. His first book, The Starry Rubric: Seventeenth-century English Astrology and Magic, was released in 2012.

JESSE HATHAWAY DIAZ is a folklorist, diviner, artist and performer living in New York City. With initiations in several forms of witchcraft from both Europe and the Americas, he is also a lifelong student of Mexican Curanderismo, an initiated Olosha in Lucumí, and a Tatá Quimbanda. He is a member Theatre Group Dzieci, an experimental theatre group based in NY exploring the sacred through the medium of theatre. He is also half of Wolf & Goat, wolf-and-goat.com, a store specializing in Occult Art, Materia Magica, and Esoterica from Brazilian Quimbanda to Traditional Witchcraft and Conjure.

Vanessa Sinclair, Psy.D. is a psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City. She is a founding member of Das Unbehagen: A Free Association for Psychoanalysis, which facilitates psychoanalytic lectures, classes and events in and around New York City. She contributes to various publications including The Fenris Wolf (Edda Publishing), DIVISION/Review: A Quarterly Psychoanalytic Forum, and the Brooklyn Rail.

Image: Wolf and Goat


Morbid Anatomy Museum (View)
424 A Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
United States




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