Hermetic Tablet: Journal of Western Ritual Magic (Vol. 2: Winter Solstice 2015)

Hermetic Tablet: Journal of Western Ritual Magic has just completed it’s second print cycle. The journal is a bi-annual publication available in hardback and paperback. Many have posed the question whether the modern occult world needs yet another publication – to them I would counter that Hermetic Tablet isn’t like other publications with consistently good material from seasoned magicians from a variety of traditions and experiences it can boast of being one of the few good ones. Unlike many New-Age self-help magazines this is a journal which is worth procuring as you can always return to articles.

Hermetic Tablet: Winter Solstice 2015
Hermetic Tablet: Winter Solstice 2015

Volume 2: Winter Solstice 2015 has been printed with contributions from Jake Stratton-Kent, Mike Magee, Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Aaron Leitch, Nick Farrell, Jayne Gibson, João Pedro Feliciano, Tony Toneatto, David Nez, Tony Fuller, Ina Cüsters Van Bergen, Morgan Drake Eckstein, Christine Zalewski, Wynn Westcott and Cynthia Caton.

The Winter Solstice 2015 edition has so much to offer and while it may be tempting to limit this journal aimed just toward Hermetically inclined magicians as always this publication offers both historical and practical information to seasoned and beginner students of modern occultism.

Some of the highlights include: “Following the Dawn: The Magical Life of Christine Zalewski” by Nick Farrell which examines the unique path to the Golden Dawn and the need for an experiential pursuit of magic. Christine Zalewski offers “Jack Taylor: The Colourful Magus”, which is a wonderful insight into Zalewski’s time training with Jack Taylor, who himself trained in the ‘Whare Ra’ Temple in Havelock North, New Zealand. Indeed, upon reading both of these articles one really begins to understand that the question for magical orders in the twenty-first century really is: What next?

The answer to that question lies somewhere in the works of the other writers. In her article, “Spiritual Development of Paranormal Talents”, Ina Cüsters Van Bergen ponders on the nature of psychicism and extrasensory perception in magic. At what point can we trust in the visions of our magical work? Van Bergen suggests that what the modern magician needs is to heed the words above the Temple door, “Know Thyself”. This may sound like she is recommending flights of fantasy but in truth fantasy is the doorway, the poet and playwright, W. B. Yeats knew this through his visionary work on A Vision (A & B) with his wife George Yeats. One has to be pragmatic about what happens as Van Bergen points out any spirit guide/contact will be content to offer earthly context for the communication.

Almost as though creating a dialogue between the various contributors, two more articles offer a discussion on spirits; “House Gods” by Mike Magee and “Familiar Spirits” by David Nez. What Hermetic magicians are doing with House Gods and familiar spirits may seem like a bit of an oddity as most readers tend to associate those discussions with Traditional Wicca or Witchcraft. However, making snap decisions would be rather unfortunate as Magee discusses the Hindu concept of Gods subduing the chaotic forces to form a safe space for the hearth and home. Magee clearly places the House-Gods in connection with the Sphere of Sensation and the celestial forces which are reflected therein.

Nez’s article, “Familiar Spirits”, looks more comprehensively at the re-emergence in working with familiar-spirits and the often complicated relationships between the shaman, witch or magician. As a piece in Hermetic Tablet, Nez’s article offers an interesting counter-perspective to the more mystical or subjective interpretation of Magee’s House-Gods, here we see an evolving relationship to the Spirit World or Astral World. Between these two views stands Van Bergen’s counsel “Know Thyself” or to check in with oneself on the nature of the experience.

Cynthia Caton’s piece, “Death is for the Living”, explores the very personal relationship to the fantasy of death and the means by which we as magicians tend to encounter death. What becomes interesting from reading Caton’s piece is the power in knowing the stories of the past and the ability to build memories of the past as she describes connecting the matrilineal links to the hearth and home despite many of these dwellings being supported by patrilineal figures. It stands that our links to loved ones become something a little more than just the connection to that one individual.

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Follow this link HERE to see purchasing details for this issue of Hermetic Tablet as well as previous publications. All monies raised for Hermetic Tablet go toward charitable causes.

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The Hidden Path Behind Initiation: The Crata Repoa Decoded by Nick Farrell

Crata Repoa Decoded - Nick Farrell (2014)
Crata Repoa Decoded – Nick Farrell (2014)

The Hidden Path Behind Initiation: The Crata Repoa Decoded (2014) by Nick Farrell is the latest offering in a limited edition print run from Lulu.com. Over recent months Farrell has been busy producing a variety of texts on magical techniques and disciplines including; a review of the Vault of the Adepti over the years in his book, Magic Machine, along with the long awaited Shem Grimoire, a magical text offering advice and guidance for working with the angels of the Shem ha-Memphoresh.

Setting out to place The Hidden Path Behind Initiation in a certain category can prove difficult because it doesn’t quite fit into the genre of historical work, yet the historical value from a cultural perspective surely cannot be denied. Farrell comments that he set out to prove that the Crata Repoa was “an example of an esoteric allegory” written to illustrate the path of initiation to other esoteric experts. The Crata Repoa is squarely placed within the Western Mystery Tradition being ascribed to the work of two 18th Century magicians, Karl Friedrich von Koppen and Johann Wilhelm Bernhard von Hymmen. As such, Farrell approaches this dichotomy by viewing the allegory as a syncretic fantasy or history, i.e. not to be taken literally but rather figuratively.

Undoubtedly, Nick Farrell’s strengths as an author lie in his approach to writing materials on magical techniques and why wouldn’t this be the case? Farrell, is a magician of years of experience after all and brings a strong sense of direction and understanding about when writing from this perspective. In more recent years Farrell has ventured into the historical works with books such as Beyond the Sun (2013), King Over the Water (2012), Mathers’ Last Secret (2011), et al. I’ll be the first to admit I have mixed feelings when Farrell diverges from looking magical work to historical work, mainly because it can be tough work reviewing from a practical and experiential level historical aspects and it usually means an author is going to either let down the historians or the magicians (and they don’t always know which is which themselves to start with!), yet with The Hidden Path Behind Initiation I feel that Farrell has found a comfort zone and his voice adds to the various readings that can be offered up nicely.

Farrell opens the book my quoting the Circeros on initiation and the process of opening to the Divine which sets out the preamble of the book nicely. Fundamentally, this book explores the nature of initiation and how it effects, or affects, the initiate. Interestingly, and without giving too much away Farrell immediately sets out to destroy any delusions we might have concerning the historical origins of the Crata Repoa in Ancient Egypt with a nod to the fashion of the time having a keen interest in all things Ancient Egyptian. As Farrell notes we have a dialogue established which never really gets a satisfactory answer; when the two authors, Karl Friedrich von Koeppen and Johann Wilheim Bernhard von Hymmen, who were not prone to flights of fantasy authored this text. Farrell posits that this is because Crata Repoa was never intentioned to be a historicalisation but rather an allegory. Fundamentally it is up to the reader to grant validity to Farrell’s idea, but I will state this, many modern occultists and magicians do tend to become overly focused on historicalisation ignoring the cultural and personal impact that the magical process of initiation can have.

Much like the process of initiation itself, Farrell brings the reader through the nostos of the ceremonies first, neither informing nor ignoring the reader as the reader comes to grips with the themes and motifs of the Crata Repoa ceremonies. I call this nostos because while there is no promise of a return home per se the Crata Repoa (as does Farrell) makes it clear that the Candidate is being confronted with the realities of life. Nick Farrell remarks throughout the book that the path of initiation is not a nice path but one of shadows and hardship, yet the promise of skills to help them become more effective belies this process.

The second part of The Hidden Path Behind Initiation goes into more depth concerning the impact of Crata Repoa on modern magical orders with a particular focus on the Golden Dawn system of magic. However, I can’t help but ignore the impact for other systems and traditions. While many readers might prefer more detail on the dress and temple layouts for the ceremonies I think that at this juncture Nick Farrell has presented a deep yet approachable level for many readers to begin a deeper discussion concerning the Crata Repoa and the process of initiation with it’s common landmarks familiar to all. Unfortunately, aside from the intellectual stimulus I struggle to find what a reader might gain who is not and does not have any intention of pursuing initiation.

I started this review before I’d finished reading Morgan Drake Eckstein’s review over on Gleamings from the Golden Dawn blog, and find it interesting that both he and I struggled to make recommendations. The Hidden Path Behind Initiation is the ideal companion to any practitioner on an initiatory path as it begins to offer, what I firmly believe to be a vital question of allegory and meaning behind many systems of esoteric thought. It also has some serious ramifications for modern teachers to ask themselves “what if this is all fantasy?”, indeed one of the scarier questions for any practitioner of any system is what if this isn’t as old as I believe and I also found myself asking if the hypothetical Canidate in the text had to wait so long between advancements do I really have a right to demand certain things from my teachers? Its a matter of perspective, no one wants to constantly have a carrot dangled before them and never reach it and we can be all consumed with making the most from life that we forget the motivations of such practices.

This is certainly a book to inspire questions, some deeply rooted questions. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be getting a cheat-sheet for your own magical path though because Farrell and the authors of Crata Repoa are very clear, you will face hardships on your magical path. Though if you listen and learn well you will stand firm by the end of it all.

Review: Magical Imagination

Magical Imagination: The Keys to Magic By Nick Farrell

Review by Níall MacSiúrtáin

Magical ImaginationMagical Imagination offers greater insights into the techniques of imagination in magic which Farrell previously examined in his book, Magical Pathworking: Techniques of Active Imagination. In Magical Imagination, Farrell draws on his own experiences as a magician and teacher within the Golden Dawn and the use of these techniques to build up a strong and reliable magical practice for the individual. The book looks at the continued use of pathworkings from a multitude of perspectives and functions. Farrell’s skills as an author are really brought to fruition in this text as he manages to successfully draw the reader into the right mind-frame in which to engage with the material presented.

Magical Imagination takes a more contemporary view of pathworking as a form of magic rather than the psychological experimentations of Farrell’s earlier work. The industry is already heavily populated with so-called “self-help” books and New Age techniques and so it can be difficult for occultists to find material they can actively work with. Reading the book I’m fascinated with the layers of self-discovery presented before the reader and find myself highly enthused with the material presented here. The book is really well formatted presenting areas of personal space to be explored in one’s own “Inner Kingdom”, following on to mapping out safe techniques that can be developed for clairvoyance and astral projection (though the book stays on topic and provides only a peripheral idea of rising in the spirit vision or astral projection. More time is spent towards the latter half exploring the creation of Inner Temples and working with inner plane contacts. The author is highly skilled in this area with case studies on hand to illustrate from personal experience what an individual might encounter along the way offering sage advice.

Holding so much promise I must confess I did fear that the book might result in being a re-hash of what was in Magical Pathworking; and yes there are some aspects of Magical Pathworking skill in Magical Imagination, however, I found that Farrell wove his various elements quite successfully into a very effective and yet approachable book. While one might notice some common themes in Nick Farrell’s writing the author is always a delight to read and explore the various tropes of the work presented.nick-farrell

Upon reflection, I’m compelled to recommend this book to anyone seeking, either to begin their magical path or to develop it on a personal or indeed a group level. Regardless of one’s background there is much on offer within this book for the sincere student of the Western Mysteries. Everything from the clear writing style, to the formatting and presentation of the techniques is accessible to the reader and having bought by fair share of books with guided meditations and pathworkings on offer over the years this is by far not an easy feat to achieve.

Magical Imagination: The Keys to Magic is published by Skylight Press. The book is available from various retail outlets such as Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or direct from the Skylight Press website.

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What Exactly do You Mean by “Golden Dawn Community”?

From the blog of Aaron Leitch on the processes behind the “Golden Dawn Community” as authors to the new Commentaries books brought forward by Kerubim Press.

As for my own 2cents worth, well those that were – either through process of elimination or through simply not being in reach – excluded, they seem to miss a vital element to both writing books and to being part of a community. A Community doesn’t operate simply with having the same everywhere and if all GDers were writers and scholars the community aspect would be in serious doubt. As it stands the GD Community seems to be heavily populated with writers and scholars and academics (ironic given my chosen career trajectory right now!) but I’m certain that this work will inspire more creative projects for members and practitioners of the Golden Dawn to come and some of those may be in direct response to the Commentaries book.

During Dublin Pride over the last weekend I was astonished to see kids jumping in to the march and singing and dancing and generally showing very little regard to the so-called order of proceedings and whats more this wasn’t just some passive following of young people in the parade they were all wearing TENI – Trans* Equality Network of Ireland t-shirts. It was then my line of view began to notice how the audience started to react to the spectacle as more and more people began to wave back and cheer and generally break down the constraints of self-comportment for a short wee while at least. The Golden Dawn Community as well as the Occult/Esoteric Community as a whole could learn a thing or two from this in seeking not to stifle creative developments in art for the community but to allow inspiration to begat inspiration.

Ananael (The Secrets of Wisdom)

Greetings Golden Dawners!

Apparently, a little bit of controversy has been stirred up by the new Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls – specifically over the “author” of the book:  the “Golden Dawn Community.”

Our choice to use this particular phrase has given rise to some questions, such as what exactly makes up such a community.  That is, how are we defining this “community” as opposed to any other community, and what makes one either a member of it or an outsider to it?  Nick Farrell recently addressed this issue rather well on his blog.  So, if you’ve been asking yourself these same questions, I recommend you head over there and see what he has to say on the issue.  🙂

Meanwhile, a somewhat different question has come to my attention via a private email.  It would appear that a few people out there feel the Commentaries book is…

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Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls

flyingrolls-front-200x300The Golden Dawn system of magic was first formed in 1888 by William Robert Woodman, Samuel Liddell “MacGregor” Mathers, and William Wynn Westcott and while much attention has been given to the personal dynamics of the founding members of the Order and to the rituals the little known documents collectively known as the ‘Flying Rolls’. These documents were written by high grade adepts within the Inner Order based on their experiences and study of the tradition. For the first time ever the Flying Rolls documents are coming under review by a variety of modern day magicians within the current incarnation of the tradition. As a collaborative endeavour it provides a variety of views on some rarely seen material. As author and blogger Peregrin Wildoak commented, “Too Pagan for all this ceremonial nonsense?! You’re wrong. Beloved  mother of Wicca, Doreen Valiente, learnt some magic from these rolls, and made her own notes  on them. So can you!” Below is a copy of the press-releases from the Ciceros and from Kerubim Press which was shared on Aurora Aurea Hibernia

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“This book is a cooperative effort between members of various Golden Dawn orders and temples who wish to make the teachings of our beloved tradition more accessible to the public. Each of these essays, on the Flying Rolls of the original Golden Dawn, were chosen by various practitioners in the wider Golden Dawn Community to provide a commentary. Some of the commentaries clarify the material while others expand it into new, fresh horizons. Each of these commentaries capture the flavor, insight, and the approach of their respective author.” – “Foreword to the Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls” by Chic and Tabatha Cicero

KERUBIM PRESS has announced the imminent release of its latest esoteric title, Commentaries on the Golden Dawn Flying Rolls by the Golden Dawn Community (ISBN 978-1-908705-07-5), due to launch on 14 June 2013. The book weighs in at 440 pages, packed not only with all 36 Flying Rolls (including rare material), but with additional magical teachings, historical insights, and commentaries from members of a variety of modern Golden Dawn orders, including well-known authors like Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Aaron Leitch, Nick Farrell and Peregrin Wildoak. Anyone working with the Golden Dawn system of magic, and, indeed, anyone working in the Western Mystery Tradition as a whole, will find this an indispensible addition to their bookshelves. flyingrolls-back-200x300Check out the back cover description:

This book contains the 36 pivotal papers given to Adepts in the original Golden Dawn order, providing key insights and instructions into the theory and practice of magic, from theurgy, imagination and symbolism to clairvoyance, divination and telesmatic images. For the first time these texts are brought together in a single printed volume, along with some rare administrative versions that were all but ignored by modern eyes. In addition, extensive and insightful commentaries from modern Golden Dawn magicians from a variety of orders are here provided, adding to the corpus of teaching provided in the Flying Rolls themselves.

The contributors to this book include: Frater A.M., Frater AR, Deanna Bonds, Christopher Bradford, Chic Cicero, Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Ian Cowburn, Morgan Drake Eckstein, Nick Farrell, Paola Farrell, Lauren Gardner, Jayne Gibson, Frater Goya, VH Frater IOV, Aaron Leitch, Liza Llewellyn, Joseph Max, Frater Philomancer, VH Soror QQDAM, Samuel Scarborough, Eric V. Sisco, Rachael Walker, Sam Webster, Harry Wendrich, Peregrin Wildoak, Frater Yechidah, Frater YShY The book will retail for $29.99, £19.99, €24.99, or AU$29.99. It will be available through all major online bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository. Bookstores are welcome to contact Kerubim Press to inquire about wholesale options.

Lora O’Brien’s “A Practical Guide to Irish Spirituality – Slí Aon Dhraoi”

A full review will be forth coming as I have some work to continue to prep this blog and organise some other web commitments before returning to Limerick on Tuesday.

The book is “A Practical guide to Irish Spirituality Slí Aon Dhraoí” by Lora O’Brien, it is published by Wolfpack and is available HERE. The premise of the book is an interactive workbook style that the reader diaries their experiences of working with the exercises. O’Brien has included a variety of questions to help propel the reader in their own journey through their relationship to the the world around them. 

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It opens with, “You don’t have to be Pagan, or New Age, or Magical, or Spiritual, to read this book. You don’t even have to be Irish. To get the full benefit, you do have to be open minded, willing to learn something about yourself, about Ireland, and maybe even about your place in this land”, a bold claim to make but amongst those of us who have attempted to work with the Irish Traditions makes a little more sense. Simply put we are talking about Irish Traditions, plural, and so from the perspective of the modern seeker, or cuardóir to borrow from O’Brien’s first book, Irish Witchcraft; the exercises in the book don’t merely describe the semiotic and symbolic relationship we have with our spirituality but brings the reader on a journey throughout it with meditations beautifully crafted.

It is packed full of thinking points and questions, many of which you will answer about yourself, offering many personal, unexpected and wonderful insights as well as the ones provided in the book by the Author.