2 Comments

Hermeticism and Me | The Principle of Polarity

Lethe

Lethe (Photo credit: Sasha Chaitow)

“Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.” — The Kybalion.

This is by far one of my favourite principles, because of its simplicity and complexity of duality, polarity and living your life through paradoxical means. This principle does not embody the idea of opposing factors that aren’t fully connected, but rather that these opposites need each other to function. They balance one another out, so in a way they are identical in nature, as mentioned above.

Exempli gratia, black and white. For the magician, black and white have highly significant connotations to ritual or qabalah. They are never seen as separate poles, as each physical pillar holds complex symbols that cannot be charged without the other. You can’t work one kind of magick, without being taught how to work another kind, you need both. The same goes for understanding both light and dark energies, as they are both needed to be understood in order to fully work one or the other. It’s lovely spending your whole life wanting nothing but the light, but you have had to experience the dark at some point in order to fully experience the light, or vice versa.

Think of polarity as a paradox: how can you truly indicate where happiness stops and anger begins? You can argue that in order to feel a shift from one emotion to the other, there is a halfway point, but there isn’t a true indicator of how and when you physically change. You merely stop yourself laughing, and then head down the other end of the pole, to anger, and vice versa. You are still on the metaphorical pole.

The principle itself presents the idea that instead of separating one thing from the other, you must realise and accept that they are in fact made of the same stuff, and they live coherently with one another. This is the beauty of old ideals, before the rise of modern religions separated good and evil. The night is always darkest before the dawn is one quotation I’ve grown up remembering. Wherever one element is, its polar (pole) opposite isn’t far away.

One way to put this into a magickal context, at least for my own study over the last decade comes from the idea of discipline. I have dedicated my life to living, and in order to do so I’ve had to make a lot of choices I wouldn’t normally like to think about doing. When I first started practicing I was doing the odd spell here and there, without really committing myself to a regular regime, and nor did I fully understand the implications of what I was doing. I was 11/12 years old after all. It took me another year, when I was 13 to stop practising spells and spend the year studying and writing. After that, I made it a personal mission to spend at least 50% of my time studying witchcraft, and 50% practising it. The benefits were amazing, and it was all down to be able to understand the physical nature of spiritual truth, and experiencing spiritual connectedness by understanding magick. I’ve stuck to that plan my whole magickal life, so you can imagine my shock when I came across the Kybalion and read this principle.

I guess all I can say about this axiom is, don’t spend your time trying to separate or runaway from something that seems wrong, especially as a lot of pagans are quick to judge those who follow “apparently” darker paths. You may need to experience the dark side once in a while in order to reap the benefits of the light. At the same time, practice and study, even when you don’t want to. If you put in the effort during those hard times, it will save you having to catch up later on, and you will be more blessed. Its polarity + common sense + discipline = ultimate flexibility.

In LVX and NOX, 93s

Past posts in the series:

I had a huge break as so much was going on at the time, and then I lost the rest of the  posts I was hoping to edit and publish. All will open in new windows.

Hermeticism and Me | The Hermetic Principles – August 2012

Hermeticism and Me | The Principle of Mentalism – August 2012

Hermeticism and Me | The Principle of Correspondence – August 2012

Hermeticism and Me | The Principle of Vibration – September 2012


5 Comments

The Tree of Life | Israel Regardie

Tree1

‘The Tree of Life – An Illustrated Study in Magick’

Published: 1932

3rd Edition: 2011

By far one of my favourite books written by Regardie. He really takes the student into account and does his upmost best to educate green minds. Some of the concepts within the book are already familiar to me, others presented in a manner that made you really aware of unknown or misunderstood forces around you. This book deepens the mind so much, or at least it did me, I have had to read the book again! This time making even more notes than before.  This book is wonderful. If you own the other books I have reviewed, including one title I won’t ‘How Make and Use Talismans’ you will be surprised by how much you learn from this one man. If there is any book I would recommend to anyone first it would be this one just to kick-start your Regardie education into Magick, Hermetic Qabalah and Alchemy.

This book is fairly thick, similar to ‘A Garden of Pomegranates’ but full of astounding knowledge, but the gift Regardie has is his writing. The expressive language he uses really draws the reader in, similar to the style of Game of Thrones author G. R. R. Martin – he just sucks you in, and before you know it you’ve read most of part one. Regardie talks briefly about the difference between magick, mysticism and witchcraft, and also includes his theory of “black magick” which is a theory I fully support. There is information on deity, and how to explore them with psychology and magick, and many other subjects expected of any magician. His theorising is explored in a manner that is ideal in this day and age; lot’s of precision, and I don’t think he knew how amazing he was.

I thoroughly enjoyed this title. Lots of people have enjoyed this book too.

Mind blowing

My rating: ★★★★★

tree2


3 Comments

The Middle Pillar | Israel Regardie

midd1

‘The Middle Pillar – The Balance Between Mind and Magic’

Published: 1938

3rd Edition: 1970

 

This book puts a lot of emphasis on the meaning of magick, similar to Crowley’s theory from Book 4, and how our bodies and minds need to be clear of clutter in order to manipulate it at its best. Regardie goes into detail about psychology, fads within the world of magick and how to avoid them as a student and lots practical tips to start the process of allowing the body to start afresh, and connect with the divine. Before you learn how to perform the Middle Pillar exercise, he takes you through a few rituals and methods so you can really appreciate the ritual itself.

This book became personal for me, especially within the first few chapters of part one titled, ‘The Middle Pillar’, where I actually started questioning what I believe and what I hope to gain as a student. I have spoken to others who own the book and they have told me how good it is too. Mr. Vamp recommended this title to me and I must say how much I cherish it. Another friend told me has bought three copies in total as his precious two copies don’t look very neat anymore; a well loved book. Now, this book deals with the psychological aspects of magick, especially with Jung’s theories, and that can seem daunting to folks who aren’t familiar with these theories, but one friend did say she read this book and got the gist early on, even though I recommended this book to her back in January.

Regardie manages to be on point, honest and very blunt about his ideas, which leads you to questioning your beliefs and the systems available, even today; clearly a book written well ahead of its time.

My rating: ★★★★☆

midd2


2 Comments

The Golden Dawn | Israel Regardie

Golden1

‘The Golden Dawn’

Published: 1937

6th Edition: 1989

Packed to the brim with a detailed insight into the workings and mystery that was the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. There are so many valuable lessons in each short chapter, deep with symbolism and intrigue ranging from the various sacred alphabets and their symbolic meanings, colour scales, codes and blinds and the various rituals that are to be performed for each adept at each grade. This compendium details ceremonial magick at it’s been from the late Victorian era through the industrial right up to pre-WWII. Full of theories, instructions and notions this book will give you two things, insight into the life and thoughts of these magicians and hopefully inspiration to create your own magickal workings. Some say this book is a wonderful back bone edition that teaches you the very basics of Hermeticism theoretically and practically, but also a book that many found inaccessible. It’s up to you how you would use it. For me, I have had success with many practices and meditations I have put together myself using various tables of correspondence, and this book inspires me enough to delve deep into old mysteries, and even ancient ones too.

As for the H.O.G.D this book is great for the reader to understand their methods, and I believe a lot of the information within is still being performed and taught today by current orders. I found a lot of parallels with modern magick and witchcraft with the current authors being heavily inspired by this book and its methods. A rather chunky tome it can be a bit too bulky for your average handbag, but it is valuable. The front cover design is simple yet meaningful with the hexagram within the circle engulfed by fire and water (red and blue) – colour correspondences’ are detailed within.

There are lots of subjects that covered in each chapter, ranging from the spiritual and psychological study of tarot, Enochian magick, Qabalah, Hermeticism (obviously), Rosy Cross theory and ritual, Qabalistic Cross and the LBRP, altar set ups and much more.

I will score it a three out of five because of how amazing this collection is, but if you aren’t well versed in magick, high magick, Qabalah, Hermeticism or ceremonial magick this can put you off a little. A few folks I know have copies, but have yet to read them and one has told me he wants to cover the basics before tackling this tome. I love this book,  I have used it to create my own simple rituals, so secretly I’ll give it a personal 4.

My rating: ★★★☆☆

Golden2


4 Comments

The One Year Manual | Israel Regardie

‘The One Year Manual – Twelve Steps to Spiritual Enlightenment’

Published: 1976

1st Edition: Weiser pub. 1981 (my copy 1992 third printing)

One Year Manual

One Year Manual

This book opened me up to the many ways that would keep me focused on my journey. One part I loved most were the Four Adorations, a tiny variant of Liber Resh, without the strict time keeping which is perfect for me as a newbie. The adorations themselves have only this week been part of my weekly regime. Many of the exercises included in the book are easy to learn, once practiced they are also very quick. Each lesson is supposed to take a month each, as you develop through the year. Considering how quickly I read this book (two hours) I can really see it as a top recommendation to anyone who needs a fresh take at some of the meditations required of any magickal practitioner and Thelemite. I have only just got my hands on this book, even though I was recommended it quite a few months back, and it is an amazing companion to building a regime to follow for a year.

The development side will be incredible; especially the discipline and structure. The Four Adorations are fast becoming a way of life for me. The fluidity of the language is easy to grasp, and really brings a smile to your face, or at least it did me. Regardie really paid a lot of attention to detail with the upmost care and love. In the beginning of the book Regardie details the feelings and troubles he had when he wrote the manuscript in the first place, and I found that quite moving. The One Year Manual is a small and concise book with a lot of punch.

My rating: ★★★★★


5 Comments

Garden of Pomegranates | Israel Regardie

Garden of Pomegranates, ‘Skrying on the Tree of Life’ – exactly as it says on the tin.

Published: 1931-32

2nd Edition (edited with notes by Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabatha Cicero – Llewellyn): 1970

Garden of Pomegranates - Contents

Garden of Pomegranates – Contents

This book is theoretical, but in Regardie style he gets you thinking and putting the theory into practice. The first part of the book, titled “A Garden of Pomegranates – An outline of the Qabalah” deals with magick, Qabalah and understanding. Each chapter deals with important aspects of history, the Sephiroth and the philosophy. He also includes the odd lesson here and there on the Hebrew alphabet and the spiritual meanings behind each letter and word, considered to be important to Qabalah. You get an all round view, or introduction, to the world of Qabalah, with current editions that include pages of endnotes and further knowledge. The second part of the book, titled “Skrying on the Tree of Life” – A textbook for practical work with the Qabalah” is full of practical information with visualisations, meditations and skyring (known today as ‘pathworking’). Each of the 32 paths on the tree and the ten Sephiroth, are dealt with particular lessons to aid further understanding. He includes the spiritual aspects of various deities from Zeus, Horus, Pan, Hermes, Khamael and many others. I’m still working within lower third of the tree myself, and I am benefitting a great deal. Regardie prepares you before hand with a small list of materials you will need to start Skrying. As with part one, in which he arms you with deep knowledge, with this part the knowledge creates a spiritual understanding and reverence. A truly exciting book, and just like the back page quotation states “The Best Single Introduction to Qabalah for Magicians”.

If you are looking to understand the Qabalah, and how to apply it to your daily meditations or practice this book is ideal as a start point. It arms you with so much deeper understanding, which makes the whole experience of living as a magician or spiritual individual all the more intimate and personal.

My rating: ★★★★★

Just a little insider goodness

Just a little insider goodness


8 Comments

Book Reviews | Israel Regardie

Israel Regardie

Israel Regardie

Israel Regardie, is slowly becoming a beacon within the world of publishing and magick again. I couldn’t tell you how valuable his essays have been for my development within the last year, and even more so as the genius himself died in 1985. Like many writers, he is one those rare lights’ that doesn’t quite go out, and even years after they pass into the otherworld they still help to ignite their readers’ inner flame. I guess from my own understanding, and partly due to being introduced to him years back, and partly picking up his books last year for the first time, I felt he was a severely underrated writer and magician. A friend and student of Crowley for many years, one friendship I have recently discovered to be one of paramount respect and tension (like any true friendship is, at least in my world), Regardie went about teaching outsiders about magick, Qabalah and mysticism – sometimes with support, other times not so much (publication of the Golden Dawn series was a step too far according to Mathers). I love Regardie, and I often find his thoughts run parallel with my ‘yet-to-be-trained’ mind. It’s nice to know, my old ideas and theories have already been solidified thanks to his works – he comes from a line of distinguished magicians, similar to my training as a witch, and that has helped me pull on the most important aspects of my past to a head. The post of my theory of black magick (two or three posts back) actually stemmed from my old journals and his Tree of Life, and boy did it cause issue – to be fair, a lot of the feedback I got, especially on Tumblr was incredibly positive, so it stays.

I have recommended Regardie to a lot of my friends and followers from all paths, whether they are pagans, occultists, witches, Qabalists’, yogis or atheists etc. Most of them have come back to me and said how wonderful his teachings are, simple, mind blowing and practical. I couldn’t agree more. A few have been honest and said they only took aspects of his theories whilst disregarding the rest of the titles, stating they don’t think he is their cup of tea as far as their magick is concerned. He is open, honest and straight talking – maybe that’s just the Londoner in him, we don’t keep unnecessary shit. Some of his theories and claims can shake the reader, but in a beautifully crafted and positive manner. They way he writes can be exhausting to those who don’t have a great use of wider vocabulary, but you should be able to get the gist once you start reading. He has helped me see the world differently as a practitioner.

Now, I’m not sure what other people think of him, that is down to them and their reasoning’s, but I have been cornered a few times about my ideas, theories and practices by strangers and folks close to me, but if there is one thing that has kept my backbone strong it’s magicians like Regardie, Valiente, Mathers and Crowley who have taught me a lot. If their magick and theories worked for them, they may work for me too. They weren’t considered controversial or thought provoking for nothing! Clearly.

Over the next few days I will publish short reviews of the titles I have, the first one ‘Garden of Pomegranates’ will be published within an hour or so. Enjoy =]