Monday, April 28, 2014

‘Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman’

More great programming at the School of Practical Philosophy. No need for me to even say anything. From the publicity:

The American Transcendentalists:
Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman

Saturdays, May 10 through June 28
(except May 24)
10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street

In the Spring term, join in an exploration of the spiritual and intellectual legacy of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, America’s greatest visionaries who can inspire our own work toward self-realization. The Transcendentalists are revolutionary and reflective, and their call is to spiritual insight and universal consciousness. Their writings proclaim and celebrate the need for self-reliance, and a love of freedom and brotherhood—each essential for humanity.

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he, who in the midst of the crowd, keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

Click here to register.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

‘The Fine Arts Inspiration of Rosicrucianism’

Transfiguration, by Raphael, oil on wood, 1516-20.

It’s back to Centerpoint next Wednesday night for David Lowe’s long-awaited lecture on how art can communicate the inestimable meaning of deity via the finite artistic expressions of man. From the publicity:

The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci, fresco, 1494-8.

The Face of Christ: The 1400s from Giotto On
Presented by David Lowe
Wednesday, April 30 at 7 p.m.

Anthroposophical Society
138 West 15th Street

How to paint the face of a god become human? Through the 1400s, Europe’s painters sought answers, with dramatic changes during the Renaissance from Giotto onwards, in particular the depiction of Christ Jesus in Leonardo’s The Last Supper, Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment, and Raphael’s Transfiguration. Their solutions lead us deep into the origins of Rosicrucianism, and to what these artists laid down for the future evolution of humanity and the Earth.

The Last Judgment, by Michelangelo, fresco, 1536-41.

David Lowe of Yorkshire, England, studied at Oxford, and at Emerson College. In his thirties, he followed Goethe’s Italian journey with painter Simon Sharp, from which they wrote Goethe and Palladio. He organizes study groups and workshops at Steiner House in London.

On Saturday, May 3, he will lead a gallery walk at the Met, beginning at 2:30 p.m. We’ll meet at the information desk, and enjoy discussion and tea after. A donation for David is requested.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

‘Hieroglyphical Key’

An unsolicited commercial endorsement—hey, I just like the company:

Ouroboros Press has announced its publication of Nicholas Flamel’s Hieroglyphical Key: Being an Explication of Alchemical Figures, Together with His Summary of Philosophy and His Testament.

As always, gorgeous bindings, endsheets, etc. A miracle anyone does that kind of work anymore. From the publicity:

When SOL, the emblem of the Royal Arte, moves into the Sign of the Ram it is considered the perfect time to begin the Alchemical Opus. This is the season when the cold crust of winter is broken through by the budding seeds buried deep in the earth. The energy of life expresses itself with fresh and robust growth offering a new beginning of Nature’s cycle. Ouroboros Press takes this opportunity to release a classic text by Nicholas Flamel, one of the alchemists purported to have succeeded in making the Philosopher’s Stone.

Nicholas Flamel’s Hieroglyphical Key is offered with two additional texts: Summary of Philosophy and his Testament. The quality of the emblematic engravings in the Ouroboros Press edition are exquisite and are reproduced in crisp offset printing. As with other trade editions produced by us, the Key is wrapped in a letterpress dust jacket. A few very special Cambridge style bindings are being bound up by Michael Atha of Restoration Books, and full leather scarlet bindings will be available from Ars Obscura.

The press has always been an advocate of the alchemical art and several of our publications reflect this. Celebrate the Spring by adding these classic texts of Hermeticism to your library or laboratory.

Courtesy Ouroboros Press

There are three editions from which to choose:

Brazen Serpent – Full leather hand bound in a Cambridge style binding with hand marbled endsheets. Includes a folding plate of the Hieroglyphical Figures.
Limited to 26 copies only. $345

Libri Rubaeus Edition – Full scarlet leather with raised spine bands gilt title and ornamental device. Handmarbled endsheets and silk ribbon bookmark.
Limited to 72 copies only. $175

Trade Edition – Full cloth with gilt title and Rose Cross device. Letterpress printed dust jacket.
Limited to 679 copies only. $40

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

‘The Wisdom Within’

Friday night was my first class at the School of Practical Philosophy. Located in a gorgeous townhouse on the Upper East Side, clearly it was a private home generations ago, just a stone’s throw from Central Park. We assembled in what had to have been the family library, replete with mahogany walls adorned with Victorian carvings and with glass-enclosed bookshelves. It is an impressive neighborhood; just a few doors up is the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America headquarters, and directly across the street is the first Waldorf School established in North America. I’m impressed with our teacher (they’re all unsalaried, doing what they love), with the course syllabus, and with the group—about 25 people who were engaged through more than two hours of discussion. In introducing himself and the course, our Mr. Primiano made it clear that there are no “right” answers to the questions that typically arise during philosophical discussions, and that the only difference between him and us is the simple circumstance that he stands before the group leading the discussion. (This is how you know you’re in capable hands for this kind of thing.)

A placard, large enough to read from the back of the room, stood at the front with this printed:

To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically.

Henry David Thoreau

Athena in bronze relief
greets you at the school.
It was a pretty wonderful meeting, an introduction to practical philosophy. The emphasis is on practical, meaning how to make philosophy part of one’s lifestyle, and not just something to talk about. Unsurprisingly, the class adheres to the Socratic Method: Discussion commences with a question. (The following is a summarized paraphrasing of the group discussion.)

What is philosophy? Literally—from the Greek—it is love and wisdom. Or love of wisdom. It raises awareness to enable us to see things as they are by training our capacities to discern certainty, direction, and clarity, thus leading to the satisfaction of our desire for truth.

Why study philosophy? It encourages us to step out and see the big picture and ask the big questions, but philosophy is not just about the mind. It also is a question of being, to help bring about a greater depth of experience. Plato teaches that wisdom, a Cardinal Virtue, is innate, but that the other Cardinal Virtues are learned. We know mental exercises are needed to awaken and sharpen our abilities.

Introduction to two very practical exercises in awareness.

1.  When facing a quandary, ask “What would a wise person do now?” This is an exercise. Practice this twice for two minutes every day.

Neither accept nor reject what you hear, but instead test the truth of it. If it works, trust what you have found.

2.  In addition, a mindfulness exercise was imparted. I was very pleasantly surprised by this as it fits with my Rosicrucian work and with the overall reason for being of the Mindfulness Project at NYU, which I try to visit when able. Its steps are summarized here:

The Exercise

(Take time to experience and enjoy each element of the practice. Resist the urge to move ahead.)

Find a balanced, upright and comfortable posture from which you need not move.

Become aware of where you are right now.

Feel the weight of your feet on the ground.

Feel the weight of the body on the chair.

And the play in the air on the face and hands.

Feel the gentle pressure of the clothes on the skin.

Without looking around, welcome color and form; light and shadow.



Observe the breath as it enters and leaves the body.

Now open the listening.

Receive all sounds as they rise and fall without comment or judgment of any kind.

Let the listening run right out to the furthest and gentlest sounds, embracing all.

Now simply rest in this greater awareness for a few moments.

I think the time and place of your exercise is important, but do your best.

Class 2 on Friday night is titled “Levels of Awareness,” and we will discuss, among other topics, how wise people lead lives governed by principle.

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

‘The Hero’s Return’

The Joseph Campbell re-releases keep coming. The professor’s biography, originally published in 1990—and has been in and out of print half a dozen times since—has been revised for a new paperback printing. The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work is out now. Amazon offers it for $15.

From the publicity:

New World Library and the Joseph Campbell Foundation are pleased to announce the release of a newly revised and reformatted paperback edition of The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work.

In this volume, Joseph Campbell reflects on subjects ranging from the origins of myth, the role of the artist, and the need for ritual, to the ordeals of love and romance. With poetry and humor, he recounts his own quest and conveys the excitement of a lifelong exploration of the mythic traditions that Campbell called “the one great story of mankind.”

This paperback edition is more “user friendly”—and less expensive—than the oversized, hard to find, hardcover volume.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

‘The Odyssey as Spiritual Quest’

The School of Practical Philosophy in New York City will host David A. Beardsley next month for a lecture on one of the cornerstones of Western literature that also just happens to be an allegory of a journey of a soul. From the publicity:

Along with the Iliad, Homer’s Odyssey is the wellspring of Western literature. It offers a glimpse into the lives of humans and gods in ancient Greece, and a rousing adventure story with evil monsters, beautiful goddesses, and narrow escapes. But it’s also an allegory of a soul journeying from multiplicity and strife back to unity and love. Overcoming trials and temptations, including a visit to Hades, Odysseus casts off his warlike persona and learns to restrain his senses and desires. In this presentation we will trace his return from darkness to light, his reunion with his family, and his reclaiming “my very self,” the rightful ruler of “my native land.”

Join us to explore this eternal masterpiece. Light refreshments will be served.

School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street
Saturday, May 10 at 7 p.m.
$20 per person

Please Note: Special Events tend to sell out quickly. It is suggested that you register well in advance to secure a seat. Lecture and event registrations are non-refundable and not transferable to other events/lectures.

That’s no mere boast about tickets selling out quickly. Last night there were 66 seats up for grabs; a minute ago there were 50; and right now there are 49 because I bought mine. Click here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

‘The Sacred Circle: Ancient and Modern’

The Rosicrucian Order has planned a week’s worth of discussion on how we Westerners, and Rosicrucians particularly, divide our time. From the publicity:

The Sacred Circle of the Year:
Ancient and Modern
Monday, April 21 through Friday, April 25
Nightly, from 6:30 to 7:30

Rosicrucian Cultural Center
2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard

As this week falls between the Christian celebration of Easter (this time coinciding on the same date for the Eastern and Western churches) and May 1 (May Day), we will explore the inheritances of the calendar we follow today in most of the Western world from the ancient Pre-Christian European Calendar’s Eight-Fold Cycle of the Year, and their parallels. In particular, what is the Rosicrucian approach to these cycles and this inheritance.

Attendees are invited to share their own experiences of the Cycle of the Year during this participatory workshop, and also their own expertise in other yearly cycles from all world cultures.

Since the Rosicrucian Year began on the Spring Equinox (March 20), our journey of exploration will begin with this Festival, and proceed around the Sacred Circle of the Year.

The facilitator of this workshop, Steven A. Armstrong, is a professional historian, philosopher, and teacher based in the San Francisco Bay area. He serves at the Grand Lodge (San Jose) in Membership Services. He is an active member of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC and the Traditional Martinist Order, and has served as an officer in both.

His current areas of interest include how the Primordial Tradition permeates all world traditions, and the way in which the Rosicrucian and Martinist paths provide a unique and unifying viewpoint on those traditions. Author of more than 30 published papers, articles and podcasts, and a lecturer for the RCUI, he is no stranger to New York City, as he received two of his Master’s Degrees at Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

‘2014 Alchemy Conference’


The 2014 Northwest Alchemy Conference is scheduled for later this spring—Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 8—at Venusian Church-Long House, located in Redmond, Washington. Sponsored by the Northwest Chapter of the International Alchemy Guild, the conference will bring to its podium more than a dozen speakers to discuss various esoteric, spiritual, practical, historical, and other insights into Alchemy, that vexing ancestor of chemistry. It is far afield of the Magpie’s usual orbit, but I mention it here because the brilliant, sagacious, and darned handsome Steve Burkle will present “The Practice of Alchemy by the Secret Societies from the Gold und Rosencreutz, to the Golden Dawn, and into Modern Times” on Sunday afternoon. You may know Steve from a variety of print and digital media, and if you know him personally, you realize Alchemy is not a mere curiosity in his life and work. The man knows his business.

Steve Burkle at Rose Circle, 2011.
The other presenters will be great too. Click here to read about them. I’m sure some of those headshots are no cause for alarm whatever!

Makes me wish for a Northeast Conference. The Guild has chapters in Pennsylvania and New York. Maybe some day.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

‘Rosicrucian book sale’

Let’s break out of the New York City area for news from California. On Saturday, a book sale will be hosted at Rosicrucian Park to benefit the Rosicrucian Research Library.

Books on mysticism, art, history, science, and other subjects will be available.

This will take place in front of the Rosicrucian Research Library on Randol Avenue, between Park and Chapman avenues, in San Jose. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

‘Full Moon Meditation next week’


Full Moon and Autumn Flowers by the Stream, by Ogata Gekko , c.1895.
Color woodblock print at Art Institute of Chicago.

“Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams; 
I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright; 
For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams,
 I trust to take of truest Thisby sight.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

There will be a full moon next Monday—Moon Day—so there will be a Full Moon Meditation at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center that evening. From the publicity:

Join us at the Rosicrucian Cultural Center for our Full Moon Meditation.

April 14 from 8 to 9 p.m.
2303 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard
New York City

The Rosicrucian teachings suggest that each of the celestial bodies, including the moon, has a particular influence on our consciousness.

Each Full Moon we will meet to reflect on this influence and attune our consciousness with it.

Everyone is welcome!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

‘Red King and White Queen’

This just in from the indefatigable Mark Stavish: A daylong program next month at the Institute for Hermetic Studies in Pennsylvania on the practical side of Alchemy, and other topics.

From the publicity:

The Wedding of the Red King and White Queen:
Psychic and Physical Regeneration
in Alchemy and Magic
Planning Your Practice: The One-Year Manual,
The Middle Pillar, and Attaining Illumination

Saturday, May 3
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Congregation
of Wyoming Valley
20 Church Road
(near Francis Slocum State Park)
Wyoming, Pennsylvania
Tuition: $60

The Wedding of the Red King and White Queen:
Psychic and Physical Regeneration
in Alchemy and Magic

This class will examine, in a very concentrated form, the theory and practice of psychic and physical healing, longevity, and rejuvenation in Alchemy, magic, and Rosicrucianism. Practical methods will be given as they have been passed down in both written and oral forms. This class is concerned with operative methods and the theories behind them.

Topics will include:

Spagyrics: Theory of the Ens and Why Even Simple Plant Work Matters

The Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir or Life: Do They Exist?

Psychic Centers: The Physical Body as Alchemical Laboratory

The Red and White Mercuries as They Relate to Energies of the Physical Body

Is 80 the New 40? The Energetic Body and Turning Back the Clock

Angelic Invocations, Ritual Offerings and the Energies of Renewal

The Importance of Retreat: Why Retreat and Renewal Are Important

Planning Your Practice: The One Year Manual,
The Middle Pillar, and Attaining Illumination

This class will examine the importance of The One Year Manual by Israel Regardie and what it means to both beginning and intermediate students of magic. The methods presented in this classic text on spiritual discipline, training, and development can provide a powerful foundation for any practice regardless of tradition. When combined with the methods of meditation and ritual presented in The Middle Pillar, any student can find a complete and self-sufficient system for personal unfoldment for either solitary or group practice.

References to The Tree of Life – A Study in Magic and Ceremonial Magic by Israel Regardie also will be made, with what is commonly referred to as “The Oath of the Neophyte,” and “The Oath of the Adeptus Exemptus,” and their role in the Path of Return.

Topics will include:

Is it Really Meant to be Done in a Year? How to Proceed at Your Own Pace.

Distilling the Essence – The Art of the Magical Diary and Being Your Own Teacher

The Middle Pillar: Psychic Centers and the Universe Within You

The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram: How to Use It, and Not Abuse It

Year Two: Where To From Here? Solitary Practitioner or Group Member?

Why These Few Books Are All You Will Ever Need

To register and payment information contact: esoteric777(at)

To ensure a successful program preregistration and payment on your part is encouraged as we reserve the right to cancel without notice.

Mark Stavish, M.A., has more than thirty years of experience in traditional spirituality and is an internationally respected authority in the study and practical application of Alchemy, Qabala, and Astrology. Stavish is the author of four best-selling books on traditional Western esotericism: The Path of Alchemy – Energetic Healing and the World of Natural Magic, Kabbalah for Health and Wellness, Freemasonry – Rituals, Symbols, and History of the Secret Society, and Between the Gates – Lucid Dreaming, Astral Projection and the Body of Light in Western Esotericism.

Mark Stavish
Stavish has published hundreds of articles, book reviews, and interviews on the various traditions of Western esotericism, and has been translated into nine languages; and has been a consultant to print and broadcast media, including documentaries produced by the BBC, A&E, History, and Animal Planet channels. He is the founder of The Institute for Hermetic Studies and The Louis Claude de St. Martin Fund, a non-sectarian, non-profit fund dedicated to advancing the study and practice of Western esotericism.

Stavish’s education includes BA degrees in Theology, and Mass Communications, with a Master’s in Counseling. He comes from a family tradition of German folk magic, and in addition, has been an officer of several organizations focusing on Rosicrucianism, Martinism, and regular Freemasonry, and studied and collaborated extensively with several leading figures in modern esotericism, including Jean Dubuis, Dr. Joseph Lisiewski, Dr. Peter Roche de Coppens, and others.

Friday, April 4, 2014

‘Flashback Friday: Cosmos Becomes Man’

This might as well count for Flashback Friday, as I just realized that I haven’t written about the January 11 lecture at Anthroposophy yet, and tomorrow night is the continuation of that lecture series.

Part three of the lecture series titled “In the Midst of Life: Understanding Death in Our Time.” From the publicity:

Life Against Death
Presented by Eugene Schwartz
Saturday, April 5 at 7 p.m.
Anthroposophy Society
138 West 15th Street

Eugene Schwartz explores Rudolf Steiner’s often surprising and sometimes counterintuitive indications about life after death and the Dead, and how they may help us face the challenges of modern life.

In this lecture: As the proportion of elders grows, issues of aging and dying loom larger. Prolongation of life, even eternal life, is the expressed goal of some technocrats and biologists. The infirmities of extreme old age make grim statistics and cofound hospitals, economists, and politicians. Between Luciferic defiance and Ahrimanic fear, what is the mission of death?

$20 admission for non-members.

Anyway, back to Centerpoint on Saturday, January 11, for “Cosmos Becomes Man,” the second of the four lectures that are Eugene Schwartz’s series based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Anthroposophical Society. I missed the first lecture, and, still being unfamiliar with Steiner’s philosophy, I was in for a ride stepping into this lecture cold. The publicity described it thusly: “This lecture will focus on the ‘second half’ of our life after death, beginning with what Rudolf Steiner termed the ‘Midnight Hour’ and ending with our new birth. As we examine this lengthy descent into matter, Steiner grants us insights into such issues as heredity and individuality, love and gender, and karma and human freedom.”
Mr. Eugene Schwartz

I did take brief notes this time, but remember any errors and omissions are attributable to me, and not to Mr. Schwartz. Also, you should know that audio recordings of these talks are being made available online. The first lecture, “Man Becomes Cosmos,” from December 7, is posted, and this second discussion is too. You should listen to those rather than read this, so click here.

Our lecturer began with a quick recap of that first talk, explaining how Steiner taught how human afterlife involved a cosmology that saw a transition of a person’s entire being—the physical, the etheric, the astral, and the ego—into the universe for a period of reflection when the impacts upon others of one’s thoughts, words, and deeds were assessed. Invoking Sartre, Beckett, and Ionesco, he spoke of life in this material world as a place with no exit, a theater of the absurd. “What happens on earth, stays on earth.” But through the use of the techniques of Karma, he explained, we free ourselves from this world. It’s actually something Schwartz attributed to the Jews of antiquity, whose concept and practice of atonement marks the birth of this thinking.

Thus begins existence in the Midnight Hour, the subject of this second talk.

Our spirit, somewhat incarnate in the forms of cherubim and seraphim, are at the most important moment of every human biography—that time when we set about preparing for the eventual return to the physical world, a journey of 500 years. We pass this time giving form to the bodies of those to whom we will be harmonically connected; it is an act that ensures we become social beings, and has the added benefit of resulting in uniquely formed beings (as opposed to a race of nothing but beautiful archetypes, which would happen if everybody could choose their own looks).

This sort of ethereal matchmaking is not a totally unknown concept. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream also speaks of supernatural beings playing matchmaker, albeit with humorous results, but I digress. So, to make a not very long story short, the 500 years pass, and thus the spirit drops down to the physical world, and just happens to make a right angle as it descends the grades of the arc, depicted in this not very clear photograph I shot of the blackboard:

To hear Mr. Schwartz’s explain this himself, with the added benefit of visual aids, click here.

Lecture four is scheduled for May 24.

Anthroposophy NYC maintains a very active and full calendar of events, and I have to point out that I do not mention all—or even most—of them on the Magpie. For that, please sign up for its newsletter, which comes via e-mail monthly, and its other reminders. Click here.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m., David Anderson will continue his 10-part lecture series “Spiritual Beings and Their Work.”

And I very much look forward to April 17, when Anthroposophy NYC will host its Passover-Easter Presentation titled “The Last Supper Transformed for Our Time,” described thusly:

Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples was a Passover seder, which in Judaism celebrates the Exodus from Egypt. Jesus tells his disciples that the wine shall be His blood, and the unleavened bread His body and, to restore all humanity, the Lamb of God replaces the Pascal Lamb of the Exodus.

Today a seder based on this understanding invites a commitment to eradicate all forms of enslavement everywhere. We will celebrate this extraordinary metamorphosis with traditional symbolic items from the Passover Seder plate, and imagine what we would place on it today. Feel free to bring something with you to share in this way.

Starts at 7 p.m. No admission fee, but donations are welcome.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

‘We are thinking about God’

I don’t know how many Magpie readers pay any attention to the scores of links listed along the left side of the page, but one of them brings you to The Seforim Blog, a website concerning writings on Jewish faith, tradition, law, and related subjects. The blogger’s post yesterday addresses something near and dear to me: pipe smoking. His angle specifically is tobacco smoking as a spiritual aid, preparatory to prayer even.

Some of the wares available at the New York Pipe Club show last month.

The name of the old Craftsmen’s Calumet Club was selected, in part, because American Indians employed pipes (calumet) and tobacco in their faith and practice. I’m a member of a different tribe, and it delights me to no end to have found this information via The Seforim Blog. A copy of the book in question is destined to reach my reading chair – next to my smoking stand.

Here are a few excerpts. Read all about it here.

1)  References in literature to the use of tobacco by hasidic Jews are numerous. Although there is little direct evidence to indicate how widespread it was, the references suggest it was fairly extensive. Let us examine some of these. In his autobiography Solomon Maimon (d. 1800) describes a youthful visit to the court of Dov Ber of Mezhirech, the founder of the hasidic movement. Maimon remarks:

‘Some simple men of this sect, who saunter about idly the entire day, pipe in mouth, when asked what they were thinking about, replied, “We are thinking about God”.’

2)  There do not seem to be any references to tobacco in the classical hasidic works of doctrine, the hasidic Torah. Their absence from these sources may be because aids to contemplation (such as tobacco) were considered irrelevant to the ideal itself, although contemplation was clearly important in hasidic thought. Rabbi Phinehas of Koretz (Korzec) (1725-91), an associate of the Baal Shem Tov, reportedly observed:
These excerpts come
from this book.

With regard to imbibing tobacco, anything the body requires for it to be healthy is the same for all men. Therefore, since not everyone imbibes tobacco, it follows that it is not a permanent feature in creation, but only has healing powers for some. It has no healing power, and can do harm, to the majority of men, since it dries up the [bodily] fluid.

3)  Rabbi Abraham Judah Schwartz (1827-83), a prominent non-hasidic Hungarian rabbi, was eventually won over to Hasidism. In the biography written by Dov Beer Spitzer (Schwartzs grandson), we read:

From Pipe and Pouch.
My grandfather, of blessed memory, used to smoke tobacco (including cigars) to the extent that, occasionally, when he was engrossed in his studies and also when he taught his pupils in the beit midrash, it was as if he stood in the midst of a cloud so that it was impossible to come near to him. His son Naphtali Hakohen, of blessed memory, repeated in his name that the zaddikim intend great tikunim and have the following in mind. The pipe is made of clay, which is a mineral. The wood stem represents the plant. The bone mouthpiece comes from an animal. The smoker is a speaking creature [medaber, a human being, and fourth among the categories of mineral, plant, animal, and human] and he elevates all the stages beneath him (mineral, plant, and animal) to the stage of the speaking creature. For the zaddikim never carry out any empty act, Heaven forbid, but have their hearts concentrated on Heaven.

It is also reported that Rabbi Henikh of Olesko (1800-84), son-in-law of Rabbi Shalom Roke’ah of Belz (1779-1855), would take his snuff-box in his hand and inhale the snuff on Friday nights when he recited ‘Kegavna,’ the kabbalistic prayer. He would sing certain tones as he inhaled, and if any people were present who were ill or possessed by a dybbuk, a wandering soul which enters the body of a human being as a refuge from the demons which pursue it, they would begin to dance and move while the rabbi inhaled the snuff. Those close to him realized that it was an especially propitious time. Further, Rabbi Eliezer Zevi of Komarno (d. 1898) was reported to have said that the letters of the word tabak have the same numerical value (112) as those of the word yabok, which stands for yihud, berakhah, kedushah (‘unification,’ ‘blessing,’ and ‘holiness’) and also ya’anenu beyom korenu (‘He will answer us on the day we call’). Thus, he believed that tobacco helped the zaddik to achieve union, bestow blessings on his followers, and raise himself to greater heights of holiness, as well as predispose God to answer his prayers.