Hermes Trismegistus is the alleged writer of the numerous texts that created the philosophical religion called Hermeticism. Not much is known about his life because trying to define him as a single person or entity is widely debated.  One of the most common beliefs is that he was a representation of the Greek god Hermes combined with the Egyptian god Thoth. In both cultures, these gods were creative writers of magic and interpretation.  Both were also known as “psychopomps” that guide souls to the afterlife. According to Jungian psychology, a psychopomp is also a mediator between the unconscious and conscious realms and works as a sort of channel to past souls. 

“Trismegistus” literally means “Thrice Great” which is reportedly attributed to Hermes for several different reasons. One explanation is that he knows the three parts of the wisdom of the entire universe. This knowledge is the basis of a set of philosophical and religious beliefs known as Hermeticism. Other theories for the name Trismegistus include allusions to his possible lineage as a third son of kings or simply because he was referenced as the greatest priest, philosopher, and king.

The texts written by Hermes Trismegistus were highly important because of not only their content but their age. Found to be thousands of years old, the texts are said to encapsulate all the training of Egyptian priests. The texts are usually divided into categories of philosophical or technical instructions. The philosophical category is more about knowing and interpreting the wisdom of the universe through astrology. The technical texts explain using forms of practical magic such as written spells that may imprison the souls of demons inside of objects or how to use gems and herbs to communicate with angels and engage in prophecy. 

 
 
Although tarot cards have been in existence since the 15th century, they were not widely used for occult purposes until closer to the 20th century.  One of the first books on using tarot cards for divination was published in 1785 and written by a French occultist named Jean-Baptiste Alliette.  In English, it was called “How to Entertain Yourself with the Deck of Cards called Tarot.”  This was the first book to treat divination by tarot and assigned meanings to each of the cards and different “spreads,” or ways to lay out the cards to gather a reading. The work would be expanded upon by his followers over the years and culminated in 1909 with a further publication written by the renowned French occultist Papus.

At the same time, tarot divination was achieving popularity in England. S. L. MacGregor Mathers and A. E. Waite began to significantly develop and spread the use of Tarot as divination in Great Britain.  The two belonged to and were founders of an occultist group that practiced forms of magic and explored spiritual development called “The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” also known simply as “the Golden Dawn.”

Mathers published a booklet in 1891 entitled “The Tarot: Its Occult Signification, Use in Fortune-Telling and Method of Play” to be sold along with decks of cards.  In 1910, a smaller guide written by Waite would be published and bundled with cards under the title, “The Key to the Tarot.”  The most popular cards still in use today were originally produced as and are still called the Rider-Waite-Smith deck.  This is due to the cards being published by the Rider Company, explained by A.E. Waite, and illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith.  

Traditionally, fortune telling may be accomplished by asking the deck of cards questions and seeing what they reveal upon being spread out once shuffled. The order, reversal, and combination of the specific cards then reveal the impending future and fortunes of the one seeking this knowledge. Other theories suggest that the questions can be answered by a deceased spirit. This can be accomplished through cards by inviting a spirit to the reading and allowing them to guide the medium’s hands while choosing the cards.


 
 
Tarot cards have been in existence since the mid fifteenth century and have evolved throughout
history. Originally, they were used as playing cards in Europe (primarily Italy) and did not
become used or associated as occult tools for divination until around the 18th century. The
shift was mostly due to an unfounded publication written in 1781 by Swiss clergyman Antoine
Court de Gebelin. The publication was eventually found to have no evidence to prove the
mysticism surrounding tarot, but it effectively created a myth and mystique that would be
forever maintained for centuries.

Containing images and symbols from various sources, decks of cards were first hand-painted
and created in small batches. The hand painted cards were created for the privileged upper class
after being commissioned by artists of the time. Some of the earliest and most famous examples
were painted by Bonifacio Bembo between 1451 and 1453 and can be seen in selected museums
today. Tarot cards were only mass produced after the printing press was invented; thereby
making the use of tarot cards more widely known as they were distributed.

Since tarot cards' inception, they have been referenced everywhere from literature to pop culture
and even in psychoanalysis by Carl Jung. In Jung's opinion, the different cards describe types
of persons or situations already in the collective unconscious that are then identified by the
user. Today, there are several different designs that are suited to match almost any user’s needs
or purpose, and they can be used as both functional cards or art.
 
 
Even 18 years after his death, Kurt Cobain continues to be an intriguing celebrity with
ever-changing types of conversation. A new book written by his friend and a former
member of the band “Hole” (with Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love) Eric Erlandson wrote
“Letters to Kurt.” Although not a tell-all of his relationship with the famous grunge artist,
Erlandson penned a series of poetic essays that cover topics like music, fame,
relationships, and mortality using Cobain as his inspiration.

"I'm not writing to (Cobain). I'm writing to myself and writing to that part of him in
myself, or however you want to look at it.” Erlandson also notes that he’d tried to write
the book several times before using different muses instead of Cobain, "But it didn't
work, and at some point it was like I was called to face the past and start dealing with
it...and not avoiding it and not hiding from it but facing it and trying to understand it and
bring clarity so I can move on and become a better person.”
 
 
Along with being one of the most celebrated and awarded singers during her lifetime,
recently Whitney Houston has also earned a posthumous entry into the Guinness Book of
World Records. Following her death in February of 2011, 12 of her tracks found their
way back onto the UK charts once fans began to purchase her catalogs once more. This
made her the record holder for most simultaneous hits on the British singles chart by a
solo female. The previous record holder was Amy Winehouse immediately following her
death.

The two record-holders were honored in a tribute by Lady Gaga at her London concert
over the weekend. Lady Gaga’s new song, “Princess Die” is a dedication to not only the
late Princess Diana of Wales, but the pop star also stated, “I swore if I ever had an
audience like this in London, I would take a moment to appreciate her... This is for her,
Amy Winehouse, Alexander McQueen, Whitney Houston and me.”
 
 
Published in June 2012, nearly a year after her death, Amy, My Daughter is a detailed and
intimate biography written by one who knew Amy best; her father, Mitch Winehouse.
Through this book, Mr. Winehouse separates fact from fiction and portrays Amy as he
knew her.

An uncomfortably close account of Amy Winehouse’s struggles with addiction, Mitch
Winehouse honestly describes her dependencies while still informing the reader of the
softer side of his incredibly talented daughter. Amy, My Daughter also goes on to dispel
some tabloid-fueled rumors surrounding Amy’s life, including specifics on her marriage
to Blake Fielder-Civil. The book is another tribute to her as an incredible artist that left a
lasting impression behind her in the music world. All proceeds of the book go to her
charity The Amy Winehouse Foundation.
 
 
Around the height of his career in 1984, Michael Jackson all but disappeared from the
public eye. He recognized that along with his growing empire and wealth, a backlash of
jealousy and negative media would inevitably follow. During this time of recluse
between 1985 and 1987, Jackson not only created a mystique and anticipation for his
return, but the record-breaking album, “Bad.”

Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, “Bad” was made to follow Jackson’s already wildly
successful and world-record breaking album, “Thriller”. Using brand new technology in
synthesizers, Michael Jackson and his team created uniquely-tailored sounds never heard
before. Combining this new realm of technology with Jackson’s original vocal additions
made a multi-layered and ideal 80’s pop album that still remains popular today. On
September 18th, 2012, “BAD25” will be released as a three disc anniversary production.
This will also include two collectible booklets and the first ever authorized DVD of his
1988 BAD World Tour performance at Wembley Stadium in London.
 
 
 
 
Our project is, in part, interested in the influence that the idols have even after death. While we reach out to provide a path to enlightenment, there is evidence of them reaching back in unexpected ways. Amy Winehouse’s early death has had a previously unseen positive influence beyond her music.

Winehouse’s album Lioness: Hidden Treasures was initially launched December 2, 2011, and contains songs and demos that were previously unreleased. Although notable because it features the last recordings of her great talent, the proceeds from the album are going to the Amy Winehouse Foundation. This foundation supports charitable activities that provide help, support or care for young people in need due to poor health, financial disadvantage, or addiction.  Recently, the foundation donated €25,000 to the LauraLynn House in Ireland which assists in children’s hospice care. Foundations such as these prove that many icons, despite a short lifetime, can provide a long-lasting positive legacy.

 
 
What would you do to own a part of your favorite idol? Many of us would perhaps listen to a song or go buy a favorite album, but of course there are more unlikely options too. Recently, a 1972 minivan was selling for the mere price of $24,701. This isn’t your run of the mill family van though. In fact, it features doodles from Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

The Melvan, nicknamed after the van’s previous owners the Melvins, came up on eBay at the end of August. Cobain, who was a roadie for the band, just happened to sketch the busts of Kiss. The Kiss members’ likenesses on the driver’s side of the van have been verified and were reportedly created with a stolen Sharpie pen.  Unfortunately, the bidding on the van has ended. For those of us who didn’t get the chance to own a piece of grunge rock history this time, we’ll just have to wait for resale!