Announcing: The Leaf of Immortality by Dr. Aaron Cheak
As the leaves fall from the trees in the Southern Hemisphere, and new life shoots forth in the north, Rubedo Press is pleased to mark the shifting of the seasons with a handsome new release from Dr Aaron Cheak—The Leaf of Immortality.
The origins of this book stretch back a full decade in Cheak’s intellectual development, and in many respects this volume is an “anniversary” of experiences that strongly crystallised his relationship to the divine nature of reality. Herein, he deftly weaves his cunning skills in comparative religion, philosophy, and esotericism together with intensely personal accounts of formative experiences with entheogens. The synthesis of psychoactive substances that engender the “divine within” (en-theos) with years of scholarly research fuse together in a frenzy of insights that lap against the reader like a rising tide.
Here Cheak guides the reader through a tightly woven labyrinth of Nordic theurgy, Hermetic philosophy, and cunning linguistics to reveal a uniquely alchemical lesson: how to play with poison in order to find its hidden gift.
Through richly layered references to the sinister theologies of Loki, Hermes, and Seth-Typhon, Cheak shows how divine gnosis ultimately dissolves the duality between our inner and outer worlds. What we call “gods”, he remarks, “are living principles that continue to incarnate both in us and in the world around us in ways that elude rigidly theistic understandings”.
A taste of this short but zestful volume is provided below.
From: The Leaf of Immortality
“And then it sunk in. Hermes was clearly beckoning me. On a certain level this may seem obvious for someone who is a translator and scholar of Hermeticism and alchemy. Indeed, scholarship and translation in general, as well as alchemy and Hermeticism in particular, are arts placed specifically under the ægis of Hermes-Thoth. The Greek word for translator is hermēneus (whence hermeneutics), while Hermeticism itself encompasses the esoteric sciences of Hermes. To be sure, I had always been aware of such connections, but I never had any overarching affinity with him as a sentient entity, whether in his Egyptian, Greek, or Roman guises.
But now he was beckoning me. Not only that, he was beckoning me specifically in his invisible, chthonic form. And this is what struck me. This Mercury is different. He is darker. He is the classical trickster. And most importantly, he has much more in common with another entity who I do have an abiding connection with—a god who appeared to me, or rather through me several years ago, as the Nordic world-ender, Loki.
When I say Loki came through me I mean this quite literally. In the Antipodean Summer of 2006-2007 I had a kundalini-like experience in which my innate divine nature opened like lightning through the axis of my being, and I ‘became’ Loki. On one hand, this experience was simply the emergence of what was always present within me: a divine playfulness with a fantastically disobedient sense of freedom infused with cunning insight. On the other hand, it may also be seen as a form of theurgic ‘possession’ (mania) in which one is animated by a tutelary spirit, much as people are ‘ridden by the lwa’ in Haitian voudou.
As Loki, I was the enthused Bringer of Fire, inspired with the creative spirit of cataclysm in the careening world of flesh and intoxication. My attitude was one of ecstatic abandon and recklessness tempered with a zestful insight into the Heraclitean nature of reality. I could perceive every single thing in a two-fold way, both as an anabasis and a katabasis, a ‘path up’ and a ‘path down’. ‘Bring it on’ seemed to be my mantra, and the apocalyptic climate of Dionysian liberation in which this experience took place naturally saw that this attitude was extended to the Weltuntergang as a whole. And yet in the deeper ecology of this deity’s divine function, the ‘twilight of the gods’ in which we find ourselves is also the dawn.
I have written in detail on this experience elsewhere [in the present volume], but wish to highlight one particularly significant theme that speaks to the heart of the present piece.
At some point I felt a distinct physical sensation emerge—radiant, sharp, yet curiously pleasant—emanating ardently, humming from certain points on my exposed arms. I was being bitten by mosquitoes. The experience proved revelatory on numerous levels. First of all, and most immediately, I experienced no annoyance whatsoever in being bitten; I experienced the sensation in complete purity. I told myself “all they want is a little of my blood; in return they give me some of their poison”. And here the second Leitmotiv of the evening emerged: « the poison is a Gift ». Through these words, a vital attitude was crystallised into a bilingual pun that pivoted on the German word for poison: Gift. I realised that everything that happens to us is exactly like the mosquito’s bite: a poison and a gift, i.e. neither exclusively “good” or “evil” but merely what is given—an offering—a gift that poisons and a poison that gives.
Taken in a sufficient spirit of purity, the mystery of this bivalent gift comes to belie the counterpole of giving: knowing how to receive. For every act of Being, every thing that constitutes our nature, is a gift and a giving that invariably comes back to us, to be received in the manner in which it was given (a gift or a poison). Now, a palpable sense of karma permeated this realisation, which became all the more poignant upon recalling the seditious nature of Loki, the god whom the gods bound and tortured for his fatal deeds, his poisonous gifts. Once bound, a serpent was placed over his head to drip venom into his face. Loki’s recompense is poison.
The principle lesson imparted by the chthonic Hermes was in essence identical to Loki’s. The poison is a Gift. Retrograde actions, miscommunication, misdirection, delays, technical fuck-ups—all can be taken as gifts or poisons depending upon our conscious comportment. More than that, all are potentially revelatory experiences—if we can embrace the alchemy that engages and transmutes poison”.
The Leaf of Immortality
By Aaron Cheak, PhD
Rubedo Press, 2017
The first edition of The Leaf of Immortality is limited to 108 copies. Each copy will be personally signed and sent by the author from Rubedo’s Auckland office (New Zealand), and will include a collectable postcard designed especially for this release. [Update: The first edition is now sold out; second edition now available].
About the Author
Aaron Cheak, PhD, is a scholar of comparative religion, philosophy, and esotericism. Former president of the International Jean Gebser Society (2013–2015), he received his doctorate in Religious Studies from the University of Queensland in 2011 for his work on French Hermetic philosopher, René Schwaller de Lubicz. Outside the academy, Aaron has been trained in the preparation of spagyric elixirs (Paracelsus College; Spagyricus Institute), and is a practitioner within the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages of Vajrayana Buddhism. He presently lives in Auckland, New Zealand, where he maintains an active interest in tea, wine, poetry, typography, and alchemy.
Dr Cheak has appeared in a number of academic and esoteric publications, including Alchemical Traditions: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde (Numen Books, 2013), Clavis: Cipher and Stone (Ouroboros, 2014), Diaphany: A Journal and Nocturne (Rubedo, 2015), Heretic Magazine (Issue 6, 2015), Octagon: The Quest for Wholeness (Scientia Nova, 2016), and Lux in Tenebris: The Visual & the Symbolic in Western Esotericism (Brill, 2017).