Radio Free Golgotha

Radio Free Golgotha is a semi-regular podcast of the occult and esoteric ramblings of Al Cummins & Jesse Hathaway Diaz, and their guests.

Upcoming Talks, Conferences and Classes

July 2018

July 10th, 17th, 24th, & 31st (Tuesdays): Geomancy Foundation Course  |  Speaker: Dr. Alexander Cummins
Location: Online Webinar Series through Wolf & Goat

Geomancy is made up of just sixteen Figures: The Gain, The Loss, The Joy, The Sorrow, The Greater Fortune, The Lesser Fortune, The Red, The White, The Dragon's Tail, The Dragon's Head, The Way, The Crowd, The Boy, The Girl, The Crossroads, and The Cell. From this simple vocabulary comes a complex and highly nuanced system of contextualized divination- one that many modern magicians know about, but many might like to know further.

At its height in the Renaissance, geomancy was one of the most popular and well-regarded forms of divination. It was the preferred oracle of monarchs and sages. Occult philosophers swore by it as one of the most accurate and insightful oracles available. While geomancy’s earliest origins lie in Arabic traditions, it swiftly became popular across Europe in the late medieval period, and bears many similarities to West African geomantic traditions of divination, and has spread all over the globe in various forms.

One of the foundations of Western Magic, the art and craft of geomancy has often been overlooked- and here Dr. Alexander Cummins will break down the values and virtues of this system to students of all abilities and experience. It offers tips, tools and techniques for learning and improving skills in divination, and is a vital expression of the Western magical concepts of the Four Elements, Seven Planets, and Twelve Houses of Heaven.

Geomancy examines the roles of the planets in our daily lives, and while it utilizes the language and expression of astrology, is not dependent on astronomical measure. Our questions are answered in this familiar language of the stars, showing how these titanic forces are playing out in our lives. It is not a replacement for astrology (rather, its "Sister" oracle), although many of the terms will be familiar to an astrologer. No previous knowledge of astrology or sorcery is needed to take this course, on the other hand, the Good Doctor's explorations and presentation of the art should refresh and enliven those already familiar with these crafts and even geomancy itself.

Geomancy is a versatile oracle, and can be be consulted using simple pocket tools such as dice, coins, or sticks; or by scribbling on paper; as well as in formal rituals of marking in sand, dirts and dusts. In addition to methodology, the figures, and interpretation, this course lays the foundation for future seminars expanding upon these fundamentals.

This webinar will be taught in English.

The same information will be covered in each 'section', and the price is for a complete unit (either the two Saturdays, or the four Mondays). The information will build upon the previous session, so commitment to all the dates of a given section is important.

Cost: $100 for the four 2-hour Tuesday sessions.


July 18th: Cat Magics - The Feline in Religion, Witchcraft, Ritual, and Sorcery  |  Speaker: Dr Alexander Cummins
Location: Catland, Brooklyn. 

The cat is one of the most prominent and iconic of witch's familiars. An emissary of several pagan goddesses, ethereally aloof, effortlessly diabolic - they have long been considered to be potent magical agents in the worlds of both matter and spirit. 

In this illustrated talk, professional diviner and consultant sorcerer Dr Alexander Cummins will take us through some of the many ways cats have played a role in human spirituality and magic. From records of Bast and cat-headed sun gods in the religion and sorcery of the ancient world, to their appearances, uses and meanings in medieval grimoires of both high ceremonial ritual and everyday folk magic. And from the Black Cat of African-American Conjure for works of gambling and fortune - that is, feline sorceries of luck and the stealing of the luck of others - to the Cat Sidhe of Irish legend, and the King of Cats in European folklore. And of course the appearances and actions of witches' familiars in trial records, and how they were worked with in order to - amongst other things - bring curses upon enemies...

Cost: $16, tickets purchasable here.


July 28th & August 11th (Saturday Section) or July 18th, 25th, August 1st, & August 8th (Monday Section): Intro. to Brazilian Quimbanda Seminar |  Speaker: Jesse Hathaway Diaz
Location: Online Webinar Series through Wolf & Goat

Devils and Whores, Murderers and Thieves, Clerics and Sorcerers. These are the 'Good People' of Quimbanda, the spirits of earth and fire that stir lust and desire, grant luck and vengeance, and protect those who serve them. Statues and iron tridents covered in palm oil and blood, the air thick with tobacco and the smell of cachaça and gunpowder in the air- what *is* Quimbanda? 

Quimbanda is a spiritual system born in and because of Brazil itself: a child of West African magic and world-view mixed with Indigenous plant and spirit lore and some glossings of European witchcraft and sorcery. Originally a possession cult focusing on spirit contact and pragmatic workings, it has become a complex system incorporated into Umbanda and some lineages of Candomble, as well as surviving as its own practice. It has gained increasing popularity in the past few years due to material now available in English, but initiates are few and far between here in the States. 

Drawing from his knowledge and experience as a Tata Quimbanda, Tata Apokan will explore the worldview and spirits of Quimbanda, going into the various Exus and Pomba Giras that find their home here at the crossroads of Fire. We will discuss its history and influences, and the nature and qualities of the Seven Kingdoms and how to approach them. We will discuss the importance of possession and divination, and showcase a few workings of traditional Quimbanda- everything from love and binding spells to protective and aggressive magics. Finally we will look at the day to day of the terreiro (temple) and as well as the tools, technologies, and initiatic rituals of this rich magical system.

This webinar will be taught in English.

The same information will be covered in each 'section', and the price is for a complete unit (either the two Saturdays, or the four Mondays). The information will build upon the previous session, so commitment to all the dates of a given section is important.

Cost: $121 for either the 2 three hour Saturday sessions, or the 4 one-and-a-half hour Monday sessions

August 2018

August 14th, 21st, & 28th (Tuesdays): Sourcebook Course: Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy |  Speaker: Dr. Alexander Cummins
Location: Online Webinar Series through Wolf & Goat

The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy is, in fact, several treatises. Attributed to the authorship of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, it was presented as the addendum of "practical magic" to accompany the "theoretical" side of his encyclopedic Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Such attribution has been disputed since the demonologist Johannes Weyer, one of Agrippa's students, vigorously denied his former master would write something that so explicitly taught black magic and became thus so useful for magical practitioners. Historians continue to debate which of the six main texts of the Fourth Book may have indeed been written by Agrippa.

What is certainly true is that, in the years after his death, Agrippa began to develop a sinister reputation; shifting from famed occult philosopher to infamous black magician. Rumours circulated from the mid-sixteenth century of a book by Agrippa "teaching nigromancy". In France and elsewhere, any book thought to contain potent devilish material began to be referred to as "an Agrippa", and we have records of many cunning-folk and other folk magical practitioners being accused of owning and using such dangerous tomes. Having circulated in furtively-copied manuscript form for a century, it was finally "English'd" and set to print by the botanist and alchemist Robert Turner, whose other publications included Paracelsian treatises on amulets, metallurgy, and medicine.

Certainly the Fourth Book contains a great variety of explicit early modern material on the conjuration of spirits; offering instructions, practical considerations, and explanations for working with holy angels, planetary spirits and unclean devils. It even has a "spotter's guide" to the forms these spirits might take. It presents operations of necromancy, rituals and regulations for incubating oracular dreaming, and detailed instructions concerning how to make and use a Liber Spirituum - a personal grimoire which acts as a repository of daemonic pacts and indeed a tool of office for exorcising and commanding spirits.

Most particularly, the Fourth Book concentrates on astrological magic, offering two complete systems of summoning and directing aerial spirits of the planets: the incredibly popular Heptameron, offering means of communing with the seven planetary archangels and the spirits that obey them; and the Arbatel, a handbook combining axioms concerning magical conduct and cosmology with instructions for working the so-called "Olympic" planetary spirits. Combined with its two short instructional texts on geomantic divination, it is clear why this book was so influential, infamous, and indispensable to early modern magical practitioners; that is, by both "low" folk magicians and cunning-folk as well as "high" ceremonially-minded magi.

In this course, students will be led through this early modern "one-stop-shop" of a compilation-guide of useful magical texts. We will delve into the historical contexts of the component parts, examine the approaches to spirits and working them, and - crucially - assess how such material is still thoroughly relevant and helpful for modern magical practitioners.

Cost: $100 for the three 1.5 hr Tuesday sessions 


August 22nd: Raising the Dead: A Class on Early Modern English Necromancy    |    Speaker: Dr Alexander Cummins
Location: Raven & Crone
, Asheville, North Carolina

The early modern age of 1500-1700 was a period of European colonial expansion into the so-called ‘New World’, civil wars, famine, and plague: life could indeed be ‘nasty, brutish, and short’. Amidst such fragile mortality, people prayed for their deceased, petitioned elevated Christian martyrs, witnessed ghosts, and whispered of black magic in midnight graveyards.

This talk investigates the roles and powers of the dead in Western occult philosophy and magical practices: from magical funerary customs to corpses as spell components, and from the exorcism and summoning of ghosts and spirits to early sensationalist reports of the customs of various indigenous peoples of the Americas. 

Finally, this talk will investigate the diabolical associations of necromancy and “nigromancy” with witchcraft and demonology, offering analysis of a number of pre-modern rituals and techniques involving shades of the dead.

Cost: $30 (refreshments provided)


August 23rd: Tattoo Sorcery     |     Speaker: Dr Alexander Cummins
Location: Sky People Tattoo, Asheville, North Carolina

Tattooing can be a fundamentally magical process. From vision, to collaboration with the ritual artist, to the sitting and the manifestation, to the healing and integrating. But what kind of particular occult philosophy or sorcerous practices might help us make the most of this fundamentally magical process?

In this talk, professional diviner, consultant sorcerer, and historian of magic Dr Alexander Cummins takes us through pre-modern ideas about the intrinsic magic of image making, of glyphs and marks, and of embodiment. Amongst other things, we will explore how divination can help finalise designs; how the use of various incenses, anointing oils, and asperging waters can help ensure a consecrated ritual space; how a variety of astrological timings can be observed to best infuse particular energies and virtues into the process and final piece. And we will of course also discuss the use of sigils, seals, pentacles, and other magical glyphs in tattooing as forms of "inked spell-craft".

So join us for a class dedicated to the magic of tattooing and the tattooing of magic!

Cost; $25 (register by calling Sky People Tattoo at 828-424-7316)


August 26th, September 2nd, 9th, 16th, & 23rd: Advanced Geomancy Course: Sixteen Spells     |     Speaker: Dr. Alexander Cummins
Location: Online Webinar Series through Wolf & Goat

Systems of divination divide the universe and its events between various sets of icons of power and potentiality. The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac, the Sixty Four Hexagrams of the I Ching, even the Seventy Eight Cards of the Tarot. The Sixteen Figures of European Renaissance geomancy are no exception. Yet, once conditions are represented by these potent heraldries, so too can these situations be sorcerously managed and even manipulated. That which represents a thing can hold and excite the virtue of the thing represented.

From these fundamentals of image magic develops an approach to the figures and spirits of geomancy. For the sixteen geomantic figures and their sigils hold a somewhat unique place in Western occult philosophy. As Agrippa says of the sixteen figures, 'ascribed both to the elements, and also to the planets and signs, which are called geomantical… under the dominion of their planets and signs, do conceive the virtue and power of images; and these figures are as a middle betwixt images and characters.' They behold their meanings as both pictographic images and glyphed 'characters' imbued with something more essential, more magically fundamental.

This Advanced Geomancy course offers teachings on geomantic spellcraft, beginning with the fundamentals of employing the elementary formations of the sixteen geomantic figures themselves in operative sorcery. Thus we present Sixteen Spells, magical workings with the figures of geomancy.

Here is where we may more fully engage with geomantic magic, and where we come to the very heart of this course, which will take students through a spell-working for each of the sixteen geomantic figures. This will include exploring each of the sixteen figure's different magical materia and methodologies, techniques of consecration, deployment, and options for developing deeper relationships with that figure's spirits and occult virtues.

So we will explore - among others - works of attraction and increase with the Jupiterian figure of generous Acquisitio, operations for summoning new opportunities through the Head of the Dragon, magics of protection through valiant Puer, rites of liminal Conjunctio down at the crossroads, and the slow steady blessings of success from Fortuna Major. These workings combine elemental, planetary and zodiacal powers and processes, and offer foundational guidance for those new to spell-craft, as well as collegiate advice for seasoned sorcerers eager to explore the rich vistas of geomantic magic.

You must have taken the Geomancy Foundation Course and have approval of the instructor to take this course. Email or to purchase or for further inquiries.

September 2018

September 17th-19th: Living in a Magical World: Inner Lives, 1300–1900 Conference   |   Speaker: Dr Alexander Cummins
Location: S
t Anne’s College, Oxford

An international conference organised and funded by the Leverhulme Trust research project Inner Lives: Emotions, Identity, and the Supernatural, 1300–1900, with generous additional financial support from the University of East Anglia, the University of HertfordshireUniversity College London, and the Society for Renaissance Studies#InnerLives18 

Dr Cummins, Charting the HeartExploring Love in Early Modern English Divination 

Divination was a popular practice with early modern English peoples, from village cunning-folk discovering lost property to courtly magi advising on matters of state. However, the most ubiquitous matter for divination at all levels of society was undoubtedly romance. Astrology, scrying, and geomancy were all employed to navigate the affairs of the heart: from future marriage prospects, to whether a love was "true", to dealing with the erotic melancholies of love-sickness, and beyond.

The astrological endeavours of Elias Ashmole to understand "rough patches" of his marriage - through detailed analysis of his and his wife's nativities along with various horary charts in his encyphered magical journals - offer insights into occult emotionology and the reflexivity of early modern magical practitioners. William Lilly's magical autobiography accounts scrying operations for offering visions of future spouses, highlighting the recourse to visionary magic by many different classes of peoples.

The patient case notes of doctors Simon Forman and Richard Napier present the usages of geomancy to deal with the repeated inquiries of their apparently love-struck clients, as well as married couples seeking domestic harmony. Attention to popular geomantic handbooks and treatises, especially the works of Robert Fludd and John Heydon, also foregrounds fascinating insights into the ritual of divination itself for receiving accurate information. Specifically, analysis of the evocation of angelic spirits and the invocatory meditation upon the movements of the spiritus mundi reveal significant details concerning diviners' interiority, affective states, and ways of knowing, while also complicating the typical animosity to spirit possession found in early modern European occult philosophy and magical activity. 

This paper will thus explore how love was mapped and understood in terms of personal identity and the occult emotional repertoires encoded and attested in early modern forms of divination.