Joscelyn Godwin

Joscelyn Godwin is our guest in podcast episode 121. A highly-regarded academic scholar of Western esotericism, Godwin co-authored The Forbidden Book with renowned novelist Guido Mina di Sospiro, and the novel was released by Disinfo.

The Forbidden Book

A multi-faceted mystery that incorporates the most serious and sensitive issue of our time: religious extremism. The evocative setting of Venice and the Veneto dominates the action, supplemented by vivid scenes in Santiago de Compostela, Provence, Washington, and the Vatican. Occult beliefs and practices fuel the action as the main characters become embroiled in an aristocratic sex magick plot.

While on one level The Forbidden Book is a murder mystery set against the conflicts of Islam and the West, the book also delves deep into esoteric knowledge and practice, thanks to Guido Mina di Sospiro’s extensive knowledge of Catholicism and Joscelyn Godwin’s authoritative studies of the western esoteric tradition. Underlying the fast paced action, the reader will find a profound treatment of moral and political dilemmas, the conflict of religions, and the frightening possibilities of the occult.

Santiago Matamoros

Godwin begins our interview describing his background as a professor of music history and his specialization in the analysis of Western esotericism. From a young age, taboo subjects fascinated him, inevitably leading to an interest in the occult and mysticism. Next, he describes how he co-wrote The Forbidden Book with novelist Guido Mina di Sospiro over the course of several years as a way to explore his creative urges and as a challenging departure from non-fiction books, for which he is so well known. The Forbidden Book explores themes of magick and symbolism juxtaposed with political extremism and violence. In addition, the novel is based upon a real “forbidden book” – Il mondo magico de gli heroi (the magickal world of the hero), a seventeenth-century Italian text by Cesare Della Riviera.

Il mondo magico degli heroi

Godwin shares his perspectives on fiction versus non-fiction, traditionalism versus liberalism, Eastern esotericism versus Western esotericism, and music and alchemy. Rather than attempt to summarize his views, I would encourage you to listen to the recording as Godwin is one of the most erudite and important scholars of Western esotericism in the world today. I will, however, praise The Forbidden Book as a wonderful novel that is realistic, widely-accessible, and a thrilling read. In my opinion, this is simply the best work of occult fiction that I’ve ever read and sets the standard for the genre. The finely crafted plot, nuanced characters, and realism with regard to magick, alchemy, symbolism, and political / religious extremism make this novel an exquisite read, with no suspension of disbelief required. If you enjoy this show, you’ll definitely enjoy The Forbidden Book. I highly recommend it!

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor

The Eudaimonia of Joscelyn Godwin

Guido Mina di Sospiro

The Forbidden Book by Guido Mina di Sospiro and Joscelyn Godwin

The Forbidden Book: An Interview with Guido Mina di Sospiro” by David Metcalfe

some relevant articles by Joscelyn Godwin:

also by Joscelyn Godwin: The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor: Initiatic and Historical Documents of an Order of Practical Occultism, Robert Fludd: Hermetic Philosopher and Surveyor of Two Worlds, Athanasius Kircher’s Theatre of the World: The Life and Work of the Last Man to Search for Universal Knowledge, The Golden Thread: The Ageless Wisdom of the Western Mystery Traditions, Harmonies of Heaven and Earth: Mysticism in Music from Antiquity to the Avant-Garde, The Harmony of the Spheres: The Pythagorean Tradition in Music, The Mystery of the Seven Vowels: In Theory and Practice, Arktos: The Myth of the Pole in Science, Symbolism and Nazi Survival, The Theosophical Enlightenment, Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions, and Occult Revelations, and The Pagan Dream Of The Renaissance

also by Guido Mina di Sospiro: The Story of YewMemoirs of a RiverOnce in a LifetimeDays in HeavenLeeward & WindwardHeroes AbroadExtemporaneous Love, and Because Being Here Means So Much

intro music by HipGnosis and Paul Avgerinos

outro music – “Maris” by Stellamara

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Michael D. July 28, 2012, 11:59 AM

    Great show! I will have to look into getting myself a few of Mr. Godwins books!

    • gkaminsky July 30, 2012, 11:03 AM

      Thanks Michael! If you do, I’m certain you’ll enjoy them since, like myself, you’re an avid student.

  • Eric July 29, 2012, 2:07 PM

    I check to see whenever a new podcast comes out and was delightfully shocked to see Joscelyn Godwin was on the show. You asked amazingly good questions Greg, and Mr. Godwin provided illuminating and provoking answers. I’d put this one in my personal top ten. Bravo!

    • gkaminsky July 30, 2012, 11:07 AM

      Thank you for your kind words Eric! Joscelyn made it easy and I was very impressed with his responses as well. Of all those I’ve interviewed, he is amongst the most learned and humble. My respect for him and his work is tremendous.

  • drew hempel August 1, 2012, 12:12 AM

    I’m glad there is new work from Godwin and this interview revealed more of his background. I got a reply from Godwin after I contacted him about my own U of MN masters thesis on music theory and paranormal alchemy (including also radical ecology). I basically am critical of Godwn but I don’t blame him. He says here that his focus is on the West due to his language training but that in his heart he wants to study the Eastern philosophy more.

    Basically the Pythagorean esoteric truth is hinted at by Godwin but still covered up because the West is based on Plato covering up the real truth from Pythagoras. So the truth is very simple yet very radical and it’s that the Tai Chi symbol is the same as the Pythagorean Tetrad which is the same as the “three gunas” of India and the original Bushmen 1-4-5 music trance alchemy intervals. This is what I discovered after I finished my masters thesis, “Epicenters of Justice.” It’s very very radical but also very simple.

    I recommend studying the book “Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality” translated by Charles Luk.

    The interview asked about music healing and Godwin admitted he had not really studied music healing. Western science is limited to the extent of the understanding of the scientists and the subjects they are testing. I have translated the nonwestern training back into Western science to the extent that it’s possible with a free download book — “The Alchemy of Rainbow Heart Music” 725 scholarly footnotes based on reading one scholarly book a day for 10 years after I finished my masters thesis.

    This interview with Dr. Bradford Keeney is based on his music kundalini experience that he now focuses on training with the original alchemical culture — the Bushmen who practice trance music training as the heart of the original human culture for 90% of human history — back to 100,000 BCE. So this truth is described by Keeney in terms of “shaking medicine” from music that breaks the Western boundaries.

    It’s most helpful to get the energy transmission from a real nonwestern master like Chunyi Lin — you can get phone healings. I met him first in my “spiritual healing” class for my masters degree — a class taught by one of my master thesis advisors, a Jesuit priest academic. is the type of training Chunyi Lin did — a month of full lotus yoga meditation with no food, no water and no sleep the whole time. So real energy masters are very rare – Effie P. Chow in S.F. is another one.

    So again I’m thankful that you have delved into deeper dialog with Godwin. I have exposed the detailed problem with NeoPlatonic Western alchemy based on music — the error started with Archytas. My research was corroborated by math professor Luigi Borzacchini who got his research published entitled: “Incommensurability, music and continuum: a cognitive approach.” (English). Arch. Hist. Exact Sci. 61, No. 3, 273-302 (2007).

    In other words Western math, the spine or structure of logical reasoning, is based on a “pre-established disharmony” as math professor Borzacchini calls it. Also math professor Joe Mazur encouraged me to further my research and then asked me to submit it to the most read math journal. But again I was critiquing the very foundation of Western math — it goes to the time-frequency uncertainty principle in quantum physics. I have an ATS thread on this which clarified my thinking as so many people tried to challenge my research. haha. So it’s a long thread and it does change a bit — called “The Devil’s Chord: The conspiracy to open the portal of consciousness and mystery of the octave,”

    • gkaminsky August 5, 2012, 5:45 PM

      Drew – You’re most welcome. I’m also grateful for the dialogue with Joscelyn and that others appreciate it as well. Thank you for your lengthy and thoughtful commentary. You’ve given me / us quite a lot to think about and digest. I certainly don’t feel qualified to respond to the individual points you raise, but look forward to reading your writings.

      However, I have read the Taoist Yoga book you mentioned and in regard to that, I only wish I had read the end of the book before going through the entire thing. The final practice(s) and their result are not quite what I expected, but that’s often the case…

      Thanks again!

      • drew hempel August 22, 2012, 11:27 PM

        Ah yes — I’m glad you’re interested in my links. On the “Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality” ending — of course this is a lifetime’s worth of work. I got to about chapter six to nine in terms of the book being used as a practice alchemy text. I was taking the classes from Chunyi Lin so I got regularly shakti or Taoist shen transmissions from and he also quoted directly from the book while I had it in the class (hidden in my bag). I mean Chunyi Lin can see inside people’s bodies – just check out the healing testimonials they have — and the external energy verified by the Mayo Clinic “randomized controlled” research!

        Anyway so the end of Taoist Yoga book is based on the chi electromagnetic energy as the key to powering the astral body in its holographic travel. So bilocation or creating the “yang spirit” as another physical body — this can be done without conscious awareness — it can be done directly from the Emptiness or “eternal nature” as it’s called in the Taoist Yoga book. So I asked Chunyi Lin if he had created a yang spirit and he confirmed that others had seen him physically outside of his house when he was inside his house in deep meditation – in China. He also said how he levitated up 9 feet once when he was in full lotus deep meditation in the mountains in China. He said he knows masters hidden in the mountains in China with the golden aura described in the Taoist Yoga book.

        Master Nan, Huai-chin and Bill Bodri criticize the Taoist Yoga: Alchemy and Immortality book by stating that even if a master can create a “yang spirit” or bilocate another physical body there is still the danger that their conscious awareness of this is attached to the ability to do so. On the other hand the Mayahana Buddhists like Master Nan emphasize that supreme complete enlightenment depends on the conscious awareness of the spiritual powers even though they manifest from the Emptiness. So there must be this integration — even though this is not at all required by the Advaita Vedanta lineage. For example Poonjaji, or H.W.L. Poonja, the master disciple of Ramana Maharshi, Poonjai bilocated six other physical bodies at the same time as detailed in the amazing biography of him by David Godman — “Nothing Ever Happens.” Again according to Mahayana Buddhism this is still limited because Poonjaji wasn’t consciously aware that he had created this six other physical bodies at the same time.

        Yep some of the deeper paradoxes to ponder for a lifetime.

  • Matt Synborski October 25, 2012, 3:52 PM

    Great interview/conversation. Mr. Godwin is a very interesting fellow, and very pleasant besides.

    • gkaminsky October 25, 2012, 3:54 PM

      Thanks Matt! I couldn’t agree more…

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