Contributors (Alchemical Traditions)

Drawn from international ranks (Europe, the Antipodes, the Americas) and cutting across disciplinary boundaries (Egyptology, Classics, Sinology, Indology, Tibetology, philosophy, religious studies, Renaissance studies, history of science, art history, critical theory, media studies), the contributors to Alchemical Traditions include some of the most gifted investigators into the world's esoteric lineages. 

Table of contents
Praise for Alchemical Traditions
Introduction to Part One: Circumambulating the Alchemical Mysterium
Quotes, images, extracts

Aaron Cheak

University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles

Dr. Cheak studied classical Sanskrit, German, Greek, religious studies, philosophy and classics at the University of Queensland. His research interests encompass the phenomenology of consciousness, nondual currents in eastern and western philosophy, and the traditional hieratic sciences (magic, theurgy, alchemy, tantra). For the past seven years, Cheak’s research has concentrated on the deep interstices between integral and hermetic philosophy, focusing on the lives and works of two of the twentieth-century’s most neglected phenomenologists of consciousness: French Ägyptosoph, René Schwaller de Lubicz, and German Kulturphilosoph, Jean Gebser. Despite a strong academic background, Cheak believes (with Suhrawardi) that philosophy must go hand in hand with higher modes of experiential apperception, and in this respect he is devoted to the cultivation of nondualistic epistemologies within the academy. Cheak has also been trained in the preparation of spagyric elixirs at the Paracelsus College in Victoria, and is currently undertaking training within the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages of Vajrayana Buddhism. He presently resides on the eastern coast of Australia, where he maintains an active interest in tea, wine, poetry, typography and alchemy. He has appeared in Khthonios (2003), Thunderbolt (2003-4), Journal for the Academic Study of Magic (2004), Occult Traditions (2012), Alchemical Traditions (2013), Heretic (2014), and Clavis (2014).

Algis Uzdavinys

Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Lithuania

Algis Uždavinys (1962–2010) was a prolific Lithuanian philosopher and scholar whose work pioneered the hermeneutic and comparative study of Egyptian theology, Greek philosophy, and Neoplatonic theurgy (to include their innate affinities with Mesopotamian religion, Indo-Tibetan metaphysics, and Islamic esotericism). Uždavinys was Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Culture, Philosophy, and Arts, Lithuania; Associate Professor at the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Lithuania; Research Associate at La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia; and member of the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies and the Lithuanian Artists’ Association. His books have been published in Lithuanian, Russian, English and French, including translations of Plotinus, Frithjof Schuon and Ananda Coomaraswamy into Russian and Lithuanian. He contributed regularly to journals such as Sacred WebSophia and Eye of the Heart. In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth: From Ancient Egypt to Neoplatonism (Prometheus Trust, 2008), Philosophy and Theurgy in Late Antiquity (Sophia Perennis, 2010), and Ascent to Heaven in Islamic and Jewish Mysticism (Matheson Trust, 2011). He is the editor of The Heart of Plotinus: The Essential Enneads (World Wisdom, 2009) and The Golden Chain: An Anthology of Pythagorean and Platonic Philosophy (World Wisdom, 2004).

Rod Blackhirst

La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia

Dr Blackhirst has over fifteen years experience as a tutor, lecturer and supervisor across the Humanities. The focus of his teaching is in philosophy and religious studies, with deep interests in traditions having their geographical locus in the ancient Levant and Mesopotamia. His doctoral dissertation, Myth in the Timaeus: the Mythological Underpinnings of Plato’s Cosmology, explores the roots of Plato’s cosmology and natural science in Greek mythology and in the religious cults of ancient Athens. His wider research interests encompass the monotheist religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam (with an especial emphasis on Islamic mysticism and metaphysics); Islamic/West relations; the Gospel of Barnabas; Early Christianity and Biblical texts; Religious art, architecture and iconography; Plato, Platonism, Pythagoreanism and the Timaeus; Ancient Egypt, Hermeticism; the premodern sciences; and the perennialist perspectives in religious studies and comparative religion (Guénon, Coomaraswamy, Schuon, Burckhardt, Nasr et al.) with particular attention to traditional cosmology. His personal interests include organic gardening, old world roses, doves, Mevlevi Sufism and the spirituality, music and culture of Islam. In addition to numerous scholarly articles, Dr Blackhirst is the author of Primordial Alchemy and Traditional Religion (Sophia Perennis, 2008).


David Gordon White

University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

David Gordon White received his PhD from the Chicago Divinity School in 1988 and is presently the J. F. Rowny Professor of Comparative Religion at Santa Barbara, California. He holds the distinction of being the sole foreign scholar to have been admitted to the Centre d’Études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud, Paris, where he has been an active research fellow since 1992. White is the author of the following highly acclaimed works: Sinister Yogis (University of Chicago Press, 2009), Kiss of the Yogini: ‘Tantric Sex’ in its South Asian Contexts (University of Chicago Press, 2003), The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India (University of Chicago Press, 1996) and Myths of the Dog-Man (University of Chicago Press, 1991). He has also edited two anthologies for Princeton University Press: Tantra in Practice (2000) and Yoga in Practice (2011). White has been the recipient of several research fellowships and grants, including a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2007-2008) and three Fulbright Research Fellowships for India and Nepal. A panel to honour his scholarship formed part of the program of the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (Chicago 2008).


Kim Lai

La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia

Kim Lai’s work derives from several decades of personal and academic research into the Kālacakra Tantra. Within  that great Tibetan esoteric encyclopaedia he finds a compelling interest in its approach to the traditional sciences, especially the unique symbolic language of ‘correspondence astronomiae’ (rtsis rig). These esoteric fields range from yoga and medicine to liberative alchemy; from macro-microcosmic correspondences to their unifying reality; from anatomy and meta-physiology to psycho-anatomy; from mandala art and ritual to theurgy and siddhi; from astronomy and astrology to redemptive astronomiae; and from the distinct epistemologies of reason and direct-perception to non-dual meditative gnōsis. Kim has studied with Tibet’s leading astronomiae professors, and learnt much from contact with the Kalacakra vajra-masters from several lineages. He practices a form of Buddhist astronomiae that recognises its original role as a traditional science of the psyche. Valued in Tibet as the ‘marriage partner of medicine’ this astronomiae’s objectives are primary therapeutic and redemptive. He is presently completing his doctoral dissertation, The Astronomiae Correspondences of the Kālacakra Tantra: A Vajrāyana View of Dependent Arising, under the supervision of Rod Blackhirst.


Sabrina Dalla Valle

University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles

Sabrina Dalla Valle, MFA was born just before winter, and just after midnight on a Pacific Ocean coastline. She received her undergraduate degree in Linguistic Anthropology from Reed College and her MFA in Writing and Consciousness from New College of California. Her greatest interest is in the poetic imagination as an aspect of both phenomenological perception and authentic integral expression. Her experimental writing and academic research aim to explore the ‘arational’, what is understood as ‘living thinking’ free from both irrational faith and rational certitude. Sabrina lives in Los Angeles, California where she teaches writing and consciousness studies. She is the author of the award winning 7 Days and Nights in the Desert (Tracing the Origin) (2013, Kelsey Street Press, previously published as a chapbook in 2012 by Mindmade Books, and anthologised in Best Poems of 2012 by Kore Press). Her poetry and book reviews have been published in many journals.



Mirco Mannucci

Dr. Mirco A. Mannucci, is, in his own neologism, a holomath, i.e. that special breed of polymath who ceaselessly strives to link the tangled threads of his multifarious interests into an compact whole. A mathematician, a writer, an inveterate traveler, a practitioner of the internal arts, a Waldgänger, an ascetic hedonist, he has rejected the artificial borders of so-called education to reach that twilight zone where the Great Work begins.

Christopher A. Plaisance

Centre for the Study of Esotericism, University of Exeter, United Kingdom

Christopher Plaisance is presently a graduate student at the University of Exeter’s Centre for the Study of Esotericism. His principal research interests revolve around the history of Neoplatonic philosophy and theurgy, with an emphasis on Iamblichus. He has contributed chapters to Daimonic Imagination: Uncanny Intelligence (2013), Occult Traditions (2012), and is the chief editor of the Journal of Contemporary Heathen Thought. He resides in Southeastern Pennsylvania with his wife, children, and cat.

Angela Voss

Canterbury Christ Church University; University of Exeter, United Kingdom

Angela Voss was a lecturer for ten years in the Theology and Religious Studies section at the University of Kent, UK, teaching on the MA in Mysticism and Religious Experience, and directing an MA programme in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination. From January 2014 she will be teaching on a new MA programme at Canterbury Christ Church University: Myth, Cosmology, and the Sacred. Angela is an honorary lecturer for the MA in the Study of Esotericism at the University of Exeter, a tutor for Community Arts and Education at Canterbury Christ Church, and a practising astrologer and tarot reader. Her research interests centre on the role of the symbolic imagination in the Western esoteric traditions, and she has published extensively on the astrological music therapy of the Renaissance magus Marsilio Ficino. Her website is


Hereward Tilton

Dr. Hereward Tilton is a lecturer in Reformation history and early modern esotericism at the University of Exeter in England. He holds degrees in the history of European esotericism and the psychology of religion, and he has published work on Rosicrucianism, alchemy and magic, most notably his book The Quest for the Phoenix: Spiritual Alchemy and Rosicrucianism in the Work of Count Michael Maier (1569-1622). He is currently researching occult influences upon Carl Gustav Jung’s Red Book, and is also studying high-grade manuscripts of the Gold- und Rosenkreuz, the employment of entheogens in angelic communication, alchemical motifs in Renaissance magical literature, and the relationship of European esoteric practices to Indo-Tibetan Tantrism.


Paul Scarpari

La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Paul Scarpari is a scholar and graduate of La Trobe University (2009), residing in Melbourne. Upon completion of an honours thesis focusing on Henry Corbin’s concept of the mundus imaginalis in the œuvre of William Blake (supervised by David Tacey), Scarpari has gone on to examine a wide range of eclectic subjects and interests within the domains of history, ontology and metaphysics. He has recently spent the last few years closely exploring the philosophy of Georges Bataille and his views on transgression, sovereignty and the sacred, which underpin Bataille’s entire Weltanschauung and reveal significant ontological concepts pertaining to self-deification and the metaphysics of being. Scarpari’s main scholarly interests include esoterism, theurgy, Gnosticism, hermeneutics and phenomenology; and the writings of René Guénon, René Schwaller de Lubicz, Julius Evola, Henry Corbin, Friedrich Nietzsche and Georges Bataille. His other private interests and passions are classical music, poetry, gothic novels and fin-de-siècle occultism. At present, Scarpari is preparing research towards a book on the ancient Egyptian god Seth-Typhon and his Messianic role in early Gnosticism.


Leon Marvell

School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

Leon Marvell is an Associate Professor at Deakin University, teaching film and cultural studies. For many years he was an active member of the Surrealist Group in Australia, contributing to interventions, exhibitions and supporting a general disdain for the prevailing misérabilism of the times. His interest in alchemy and esotericism began early in his wayward youth, and has resulted in at least one scholarly treatment of esotericism, Transfigured Light: Philosophy, Science and the Hermetic Imaginary (Academica Press, 2007).


Dan Mellamphy

University of Western Ontario, Canada

Dan Mellamphy, Inaugural Visiting Fellow of the Center for Transformative Media at Parsons: The New School for Design, is Adjunct Professor of Interdisciplinary Theory and Criticism in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Information and Media Studies at Western. He studied comparative culture and ethnographic techniques with Santa Cruz’s Roger Keesing at McGill University, comparative literature and oulipology with Ann Arbor’s Ross Chambers at the University of Toronto, comparative literature and interdisciplinary theory with the Rotating Faculty of Western’s comparative literature and interdisciplinary theory programs, as well as modernist theory and practice—poetry, prose, plays and philosophical ruminations from W.B Yeats to Eliot and Beckett—with Ian Balfour, Art Redding and Christopher Innes at York. His work has appeared in journals such as Modern Drama; Foucault Studies; Deleuze Studies; Dalhousie French StudiesContre-Attaques; Symposium: International Journal of Continental Philosophy; Paideusis: International Journal in the Philosophy of EducationCollapse: Journal of Philosophical Research and DevelopmentJanus Head: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature, Continental Philosophy, Phenomenological Psychology and the Arts; Glossator: Practice and Theory of Commentary (forthcoming); Ozone: Journal of Object-Oriented Studies (forthcoming); and in anthologies such as Leper Creativity, (eds. Ed Keller, Nicola Masciandaro and Eugene Thacker), Imaginary Apps (eds. D.J. Spooky/Paul Miller and Svitlana Matviyenko), and the present one (ed. Aaron Cheak). He is also the co-founder of the annual Nietzsche Workshop @ Western (NWW), co-translator of Gilbert Simondon’s treatise On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects (coming soon c/o Semiotexte/MIT Press), and editorial board-member at Punctum Books.