Aleister Crowley

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The most common question that I am asked by people who are starting out in the study of magick is 'what are the best books for the beginner'. The past twenty years has seen an explosion in the amount that is published on magick but most of that is a rehash of older sources. Nearly all of the books that have been published on magick in the past century draw on a very small number of authorative sources. If I am pressed to it I would reduce the list to four books that everyone that wishes to learn magick should read, if not possess.

The first and probably the most vital of these is The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie. This book is the foundation of all study on the subject for a century and presents the complete system of Hermetic Magick in four volumes. This book is considered to be the encyclopedia of ceremonial magick and even classical volumes such as Crowley's The Equinox were little more than a slightly altered (but often identical) version of this work. The entire practice of magick is covered and there are extensive tables of correspondences and examples of ceremonies so that the practice can be easily adapted to any objective. In addition, the final books in the set are devoted to the Enochian system of magick that is based on the work of John Dee and Edmund Kelly and which is a complete and separate system of magick in its own right.

The second book that is vital to the study of ceremonial magick is The Kabbalah Unveiled by S L MacGregor-Mathers. This is the most magickally inclined translation of the Sepher Dtzenioutha or Book of Concealed Mysteries. In this book the practical applications of the Qabalah are outlined and explained. It is the standard reference on Holy Qabalah and if the student reads none of the other ancient texts on the subject such as the Zohar, he should at least read this.

The third book that every student of magick should read is Aleister Crowley's Book 4. This book comprises a four volumes that cover the basics of the magickal implements and the magick circle, some simple but essential yoga techniques and, most importantly, it has a volume called Magick in Theory and Practice which is arguably the most informative book on ceremonial magick ever written. In this masterwork Crowley explains the formula and the practical workings of ceremonial magick. Often hidden between the lines, Crowley's instructions in Magick in Theory and Practice are indispensible to every serious student of the occult arts.

Finally, the last book that is vital to the student of High Magick is The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage translated by S L MacGregor-Mathers. This classical grimier is a complete system of magick that outlines the essential purpose behind the practices of Hermetic magicians, the invocation of the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It also lists the entire gamut of classical magickal powers with a complete set of talismans to go with them and a full explanation of how to perform its ceremonies. Whilst it is not an entirely practical method for the modern day, the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage explains the purpose of magick.

There are of course a long list of books on magick that I could append to these four as being desirable to read. Magic Black and White by Franz Hartmann, The Magus by Francis Barrett or the Goetia, the famous Key of Solomon all come to mind but they are all secondary to the value of the first four to the work of the Novice. It is better in the end to focus on a few really good references than to pick up every new fad as it comes along and for most people there is enough to study in those particular four books to last them for quite some time.

Suggested ebooks:

Kenneth Grant - Aleister Crowley And The Hidden God
Thomas Voxfire - What Was Aleister Crowley

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