Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Qabalah Workbook for Magicians: A Guide to the Sephiroth by Anita Kraft, from Weiser Books:
“Qabalah” means many things to many people. The title Qabalah Workbook for Magicians might mislead a reader to think that this book contains pen-and-paper exercises in the study of the literal qabalah, that arsenal of isopsephic and anagrammatic techniques involved in mystical Judaism and occultist hermeneutics. Not so! This “workbook” is not arranged so as to be written in. Author Anita Kraft exhorts the user/reader of the workbook to keep a journal of the work, but the work consists of laboratory operations with altars and symbolic objects intended to orient students to the valences of the heuristic qabalah, that kissing-cousin of the literal qabalah that Aleister Crowley famously described as a “filing cabinet” of personal experience.
The introduction by Lon DuQuette (one of Kraft’s own teachers) is predictably funny and wise, even if it is more about Lon himself than the book at hand! DuQuette’s Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot is referenced regularly throughout The Qabalah Workbook for Magicians, and a full undertaking of the course of study set forth by Kraft will require access to that volume as well, not to mention DuQuette’s Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford, which had been used as a textbook in earlier courses on qabalah designed by Kraft.
The workbook is carefully structured so that a student can work through from start to finish, following instructions to experiment and research before proceeding to the next section, and with little or no need to refer back to earlier instructions. For someone reading it straight through without doing the exercises, this design feature (an advantage for the methodical beginning students to whom it is addressed) makes much of the text seem repetitive and even redundant. Still, any aspirant willing to apply the book’s method of study for ten months is likely to gain a better grounding in qabalistic correspondences and intuitive power than would ordinarily be achieved through several years of haphazard reading in the usual sources of occult instruction on this topic. [via]
The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.