I know that my year of studying ceremonial magic (particularly of the Golden Dawn and grimoire traditions) has been a whirlwind tour at best. How can one cover, in a year, the variations and culminations of two thousand (or more, depending on where you start counting) years of magical tradition and experimentation? At times I have felt like a child playing with forces I can barely comprehend.
Fuck: the fact of the matter is that I am such a child. We all are. I think that the best many of us—particularly those of us with families, jobs, and other “worldly” obligations—can ever dream of achieving is adolescence. Still, though, if I sit down and enumerate (as I did a bit in my previous posts on the subject) the things I’ve accomplished, it turns out that I’ve made respectable inroads.
In this final post on the subject I want to talk about the resources I accessed in order to make those inroads. It would have been impossible for me if I weren’t in college, for one: my access to top-notch internet; the moments of down time between classes that were too long to waste but too short to do any real homework; the intellectual ambiance (so radically different from the outside world) that treats spending weeks at a stretch with your nose in obscure data as healthy behavior rather than as dysfunctional. There’s also the thing about my relative economic privilege which has allowed me to amass (and hoard) my library over the last decade and a half.
Over the course of this project, in approximate chronological order (with some considerations for ease of citation [and comments]) I have read:
Du Quette, Lon Milo. Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford: Dilettante’s Guie to What You Do and Do Not Need to Know to Become a Qabalist. San Francisco: Weiser, 2001. [Gave me the courage to really dig into this project.]
–. Low Magick. Woodburry, MN: Llwellen, 2011.
Penczak, Christopher. Temple of High Witchcraft. Woodburry, MN: Llwellen, 2007. [Solid at first glance, but structurally unsound: lessons begin and end but don’t middle.]
Crowley, Aleister. Moonchild.
–. Book of Thoth. (*)
–. Book Four. (*)
Fortune, Dion. Sea Priestess.
–. Moon Magick. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1978.
Kraig, Donald Michael. Modern Magick. St. Paul, MN: Llwellyn, 1997. (*) [I see that there’s a new edition out, but it looks hardcore Llwellenized. Does anyone know if it’s been nerfed as bad as it appears, or if it’s actually still solid?)]
Turner, Robert. Trans. Arbatel of Magic
Frater Barrabbas. Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick Volume One: Foundation. Stafford England: Megalithica Books,2008 (*) [Explain to me again why people take this guy seriously?]
Agrippa, Cornelius. Three Books of Occult Philosophy. (*)
Trithemius, Johannes. The Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals. (*) [So … is he a cryptographer or a magician? Can someone more expert in these fields help me with this?]
Betz, Hans Deiter (ed.). The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation Including the Demotic Spells. (*) Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986. [I wish I had the brazen gonads needed to do half the magic in this book.]
Warnock, Christopher (trans.). Picatrix. (*) [Working with excerpts provided on his web page and via the Spiritus Mundi group.]
Greer, Mary K. Women of the Golden Dawn: Priestesses and Rebels. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1995. [Brilliant. You should read it.]
Books I didn’t make it all the way through are marked with an asterisk(*). Yes, there’s some novels on there. I apologize for those citations which are incomplete, especially to the owners of those works, I do not have the print volumes on hand for all the relevant publication data.
And, last but not least, I have been hip-deep in the blogosphere. Rufus Opus at Head for the Red and Polyphanes the Digital Ambler have provided me with a great deal of information on Hermeticism. The former operates in a decidedly Christian tradition, while the latter is somewhat more eclectic, and between the two I’ve really been able to get a better view of the mechanics behind the symbolism and ideologies. Also Aaron Leitch of Annael, who provided me a view of the (sane quarters of the) modern Golden Dawn, a recipe for Abramelin oil (and a process for extracting essential oils in general, which has been great fun), and a few other things. I should also point to Skyllaros of the Crossroads Companion, because he’s awesome and his work is more accessible to me than that of many other hermetic magicians, but I only discovered him late in the game.
Deserving of special attention and thanks is one mister Jack Faust, of Dionysian Atavism, who has helped me contextualize a lot of these ideas with his very post-modern thoughts on the subject, backed by wonderfully hard archaic sources. He also gave me a number of personal pointers over email and on G+, for which I am extremely grateful.
Thank you, all of you, for sharing your knowledge and experiences with me.