19 Book Reviews, by Pyramidatus

The Tarot of Ceremonial Magick, by Lon Milo DuQuette
Duquette is one of the rare few to both design and illustrate a deck. The technical details encompass traditional Tarot, astrology, I Ching, Enochian and Holy Thelemic sigils. Personally I think some of the illustrations are cartoonish, especially the Empress trump. I love the court cards, however. Not only is Duquette an academic of the Arts, he is also a practioner with experience in the Temple; this gives the deck sufficient depth to warrant inclusion on most shelves specialising in modern Magick. I am not sure if this review is appropriate as I have not had the opportunity to read any book, strictly speaking, that deals with the deck. But it is a pretty cool deck!

The Mystical Qabalah, by Dion Fortune
Many seminal books of occultism include 'The Mystical Qabalah' in their recommended reading list. It gives a basic, but beautiful account. Highly recommended for beginners it has most of the traditional RHP (Right Hand Path) correspondences such as the angels, Hebrew God names and colour schemes. Unfortunately the paths are only explained in a very basic way: their order! This is certainly not due to any lack of professionalism on Fortune's part but because at the time when 'The Mystical Qabalah' was published the occult fraternity were unsure how much the public should be allowed to know. You will now understand the unswerving discretion Dion Fortune exercised. In my opinion it is her best book but that is no doubt resulting from my intellectual lop sidedness regarding Qabalah. In a few decades it will be recognised as an enduring classic.

The Rider-Waite Tarot, by A. E. Waite & Pamela Colman-Smith
It was over five years ago when I bought the Rider-Waite Tarot. Although it is not my deck of choice presently I believe they constituted a pretty good 'initiation'. They were first made available to the public in 1910. At the time they instigated a revolution of sorts. They were one of the first decks to employ a 'story telling' Minor Arcana; that is not just geometric arrangements of the pantacles, swords, cups and wands but involved and dramatic scenes with landscapes, people and occult symbolism. They are the deck of choice amongst many, especially beginners. I can vouch that they are 'user friendly'. They are also one of the few decks available in many nationwide high street stores. In my experience a great deal of starter books on the Tarot employ them as illustrations, as well as other early decks using them as the model. One can also obtain many different sizes and colourings of the original. We are all aware of the 'Tarot renaissance' of the last two decades - if you want to see the root of all this then buy the Rider-Waite.

ightside of Eden, by Kenneth Grant
I bought this book for three reasons; a close friend recommended it, it was an elaboration of 'Liber 231' and because Grant was Crowley's OTO successor. After flicking through a few other books in the 'Typhonian Trilogies' I think it is, ostensibly, Grants most focused work. The main theme is the Tree of Death, the reverse side of

the Tree of Life. Previously the key Qabalistic diagram could be considered as a maze, complex enough for most (according to strict tradtion). Grant has raised the stakes significantly - he has broken the 'inviolable parameter' of the Tree and made something new. The Tree of Death is a labyrinth, dark, uncharted and sinister. The 'Tunnels of Set' are pretty heavy stuff. Unfortunately only half of the sigils in 'Liber 231' are discussed, but these are given colours and numbers. One does not have to seek far into separate manuscripts to obtain the full operative formulae. Seroius students should consult the 'Shadow Tarot' and its commentary by Soror Anahandana, the culmination of three generations of Magick exploration. A knowledge of traditional Qabalah is needed to enjoy this book. Also a superior intellect is required to maintain the thread of reasoning that is woven around such a plethora of seemingly foreign occult archetypes. All the Grant books I have come across are celophane wrapped, and for good reason! When I was in a famous 'occult' bookshop in London they were 'under the counter'. A serious book for serious readers.

The Secrets of Aleister Crowley, by Amado Crowley
I bought this purely because of Aleister Crowley and not Amado Crowley. I mean no disrespect to Amado who is an accomplished magician himself, but my main concern is with AC. I liked the childhood account of life in England during WWII especially. In the book Amado gives an example of one of the few actual paranormal phenomena his father showed him: levitation. This sounds strange, after all AC was a Magus however he never (as far as I am aware) claimed to do things completely impossible. The biographical account did give a new angle on AC, whether or not this was coloured by Amado's perception I think is irrelevant. If my father was as infamous as Crowley then I too would capitalise on the fact. I am aware of two similar books by Amado and when my reading schedule has relaxed then maybe another indulgence is in store. If you are a pedantic Crowley scholar or want a nice easy introduction to it all, then this is for you.

The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, by Aleister Crowley
Crowley confesses all. It does require a modicum of ambition to start a book of almost 1000 pages, but this autohagiography certainly has a magical moment or two. You may be surprised that it is not all about the Master Therion's magical career; it also details his mountaineering exploits, travels, philosophy, political intrigue, illnesses and upbringing. In the early stages one is shown Crowley's deep seated shcizophrenia (read it and find out!) if you will forgive the euphemism... I was most interested in the Magick contained and was not dissapointed. Crowley has not duplicated his efforts by detailing the rituals - these are adequately described in other books. The illustrations, although not in colour, are many. I do think it requires at least two readings to grasp; such is the level of its variety. See the life of the great man. Ironically the feeling I got from at the end of it was that Crowley was just an ordinary man, after all.

Enochian World of Aleister Crowley - Enochian Sex Magick, by Crowley
et. al. I do not claim to have a thorough understanding of the Enochian system, I will say that first of all. However, after reading a couple of books on Enochiana I found the 'Enochian World of Aleister Crowley' helpful, in comparison. It says it as it is and

using record breaking use of pages. Very clear. All the appropriate diagrams are there as well as the largest Enochian lexicon I know of. I do not think the subtitle of 'Enochian Sex Magick' is valid. Only one chapter is devoted to sexual Magick and this is not what I would call 'Enochian'. To see how important the Enochian system was to Aleister just remember that 'The Vision and the Voice', which he considered his penultimate work, was his subjective experience of the last 30 Enochian Aires. A great help in the pronounciation of the first two Aires will be found in the '666' CD of Crowley's speaches.... Nobody will learn this angelic system without time, effort and dedication but the 'Enochian World of Aleister Crowley' will give you the best possible start. BITOM!

The Book of the Law, by Aleister Crowley
"Who calls us Thelemites will do no wrong, if he look but close into the word. For there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." AL 1.40 'The Book of the Law' is the principal work of one of today's fastest growing magical scenes. Crowley unreservedly declared it his most important work. I personally rate it very highly. However it is forbidden to study it. To be honest the knowledge it contains profits not the body nor the mind - but it does something... Instantaneous connection with certain discarnate intelligences perhaps? For such a small work 'The Book of the Law' seems to say a great deal. It is about four years since I first encountered it and I do not think myself even close to decent comprehension. This is the Grand Prophecy from the Prophet of the New Aeon.... Love is the law, love under will.

The Book of Thoth, by Aleister Crowley
Most importantly small black and white pictures of the 'Thoth Tarot' are included as well as several full size colour prints. And, needless to say, the Tarot deck itself is required for a chance at full understanding. Readers should remember the book was written very late in Crowley's career and represents, in some senses, the culmination of his Magick. For those interested in the Qabalistic side of things, the 'Book of Thoth' can be supplemented beautifully by '777'. It is complex, even for Crowley. I am unsure if one could call it a reference manual or if '...perusal may be omitted with advantage.' as the introduction states. Of most of the people I meet, into Crowley, it seems to be the popular favourite.

Book Four, by Aleister Crowley
The first part outlines yoga very honestly and reflects brilliantly Crowley's personal experience of the art in Ceylon and elsewhere. Certainly he is being cruel to be kind and says it like it is. I was more keen to read part two, 'Magick'. Here we are given very precise instructions on the construction of the magical weapons and magical temple. And yes, here our suspicions are confirmed - to do so requires time, skill and most of all money. Even the gold pommel of the magical sword is in the four figures region. It is quite small though; I finished it, at leisure, within a week. The illustrations are sufficient to get the idea across. This book is the introduction of

'Magick' which some claim is THE Crowley text. If you are scared to dive in at the deep end perhaps this is the one for you.

Liber 777 and other Qabalistic Writings, by Aleister Crowley If you have anything less than a competent understanding of Qabalah this work will prove overwhelming. I remember staring at it in disbelief. But persist and you will be rewarded. '777' consists of three parts: 'Gematria', an account of Qabalah in general, '777', a voluminous collection of data lists (with just about enough explanation) and 'Sepher Sephiroth', a lexicon of important Hebrew. To all intents and purposes it is a reference manual of Magick, mysticism and mythology; a melting-pot of all traditions most would care to mention. Ideally one should supplement '777' with 'The Book of Thoth' and the 'Thoth Tarot' as you will find the Tarot frequently determines the rationale behind correspondences. I would not recommend that you read it through, cover to cover fashion (excepting 'Gematria') - it is not amenable to that approach. Dip in and out, enjoy yourself! Aleister Crowley 666 CD, by Barn Jehovi
For me, the main benefit of disc one (Crowley's words) is that it gives the precise pronounciation of the first two Enochian Aethyrs. The rest of the poetry is ok. However, I must say that the music is very scary indeed. The music 'grows on you' a great deal. It is also highly original (a new genre?) and uses electronically distorted samples of Crowley's voice. But for the price you cant really go wrong.

Diary of a Drug Fiend, by Aleister Crowley
'Diary of a Drug Fiend' was the first book of Crowley's that I ever read. At the age of 14 it did leave a romantic impression. It deals with the Crowley addicted to herion and cocaine (Peter Pendragon) and the Crowley who uses these drugs in a magical and responsible context (King Lamus) but in the same time frame. The last part is the earliest known account of the Abbey of Thelema in Sicily. One can sense the pioneer spirit of the day through the prose, almost by osmosis. By the time the book was published Crowley had been expelled from the country by Mussolinni. Unfortunately the only substances outlined are heroin and cocaine - I am certain the authour dabbled in far more... As you would expect the Thelemic ethos is outlined, an almost invariable occurence in Crowley's works - but this is only adumbrated and done tastefully. It is also a rather sweet love story.

The Holy Books of Thelema, by Aleister Crowley
The Holy Books of Thelema provided to Thelemites an anchor in the frequently turbulent ocean of Crowley's complex magical scheme. Included are most A.'. A.'. publications in Class A. 'The Vision and the Voice' is omitted due to it's size - a separate binding in this case was necessary. You will find here much inspirational material, proportionate usually to your level of formal initiation. This is, in my opinion, not a work to be read through like a short novel but cherished, savoured and treasured. Those still victim to the idea of Crowley as anything less than a thoroughly decent gentleman may profit by obtaining a copy. Also, those amongst you who are swamped by the amount of Thelemic material available might profit also by having a look at the wellspring of the tradition.

The Thoth Tarot Deck, by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris
1910 saw the introduction of the Rider-Waite tarot which was considered as revoloutionary, the Thoth came out about 35 years later and I think it was the next big step for all concerned with this divinatory technique. Not only is the deck supplemented with the Book of Thoth, and Crowley's Qabalistic magnum opus 777, it is artistically superb. Crowley is generally considered, even by his detractors, as the great Magical polymath of the 20th century. This tarot blends all of his Qabalistic, astrological, Hebrew, Thelemic and ceremonial concepts. When you see that Lady Harris was one of the main benefactors of the the last will and testament of Crowley you will understand the profound friendship they shared. This deck took five years to complete and several of the cards were repainted many times to satisfy Crowley's obsession with perfection. The Major Arcana is the best I know of, as are the deacons; and even though the Minor Arcana is lacking in the 'story telling' that is shown in the Rider-Waite it still excercises fascination. This deck is a must for all Thelemites and anyone serious about the Tarot. It simply cannot be ignored. Shuffle with care.

The Satanic Bible, by Anton LaVey
I read the Satanic Bible because it was recommended to me and the title was intriguing. A great deal of the book is sniping at the Christian church, which is to be expected but LaVey seems to be using this vague dichotomy as a crutch. All of his philosophical points are basically illustrated in contrast to what LaVey says is the 'White Light' Christian religion. The book is very small also; the last part fills the pages, a paragraph at a time, with LaVey's translation ... of the Enochian Keys. As far as Satanists go this work is very politically correct. There is very little in the way of shocking or obscene ideas. If LaVey had called himself a 'Witch' or 'Progressive Pagan' rather than a 'Satanist' I expect this work would have joined the obscure legions of most occult literature. In the book Lavey says the most expedient way of describing Satanism is the statement, "Satan represents indulgence rather than abstinence!". What a shame he did not 'indulge' in writing a bigger and better book. If Satan does exist I expect he is annoyed at being associated with this presumptuous pamphlet. Amen.

Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley
As a novel Moonchild is limited in terms of plot, and lacks the twists and turns you might expect from a more experienced writer. Crowley, although an enormously prolific author, used the story telling medium rarely. As with all his works he touts his Thelemic philosophy here and there. A great deal of the book is philosophy about Magick, the soul and so on. Crowley could not resist a smattering of Qabalistic imagery also. I did enjoy it immensely. Near the end it becomes almost incomprehensible, which is a shame. As his most famous novel it is a must read for all Crowleyites or Thelemites. Enjoy!

Liber ull & Psychonaut, by Peter J. Carroll
The book does have an allure when you first look at it. The contents page and the illustrations emit an intriguing fascination. However once you start reading this fades

away to become only 'interesting'. I had never heard of the IOT before. Both books make the almost pioneering step of not only mentioning the prime Magical dual (Black and White) but adumbrating techniques in both. Some of the material discussed is truly shocking. The author has ambitiously defined Magical terms (invocation, evocation, enchantment, sorcery and more) that the beginner would probably think of as synonomous. It is, from the standpoint of categorisation, a very fine work. Would I recommend it? To the beginner yes. However I feel the book lacks the quality of specialisation that even an intermediate Magician is after. It is more a work of philosophy than specific technique. To be honest I don't think I would read it again, but it has it's place on my book shelf.

ew Dimensions for the Cube of Space, by David Allen Hulse
This book is fantastic! It deals with the 22 cards of the Major Arcana (of the Tarot) as applied to various dimensions of the cube and the points of the compass. If you are already familiar with the Tarot (and especially as they connect with the Tree of Life) you will find this book refreshes and rejuvinates your previous comprehensions. As Hulse points out this Cube of Space may even be an older diagram than the Tree of Life! I read this book in a single day and found the correspondences easy to memorise; indeed Hulse lays out the positionings as a cosmic initiation of interconnected events. The Tarot deck used in the book is the one designed by Paul Foster Case and is still currently endorsed and used by the Builders of the Adytum. Unlike Hulse's The Key of it All, which details a plethora of different systems, this book deals purely with the Tarot as revealed by geometry.