Tag Archives: Lon Milo DuQuette

Ask Baba Lon

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Ask Baba Lon: Answers to Questions of Life and Magick [Amazon, Bookshop, Abebooks] by Lon Milo DuQuette.

DuQuette Ask Baba Lon

Ask Baba Lon is Lon DuQuette’s entry in the microgenre of occult collected instructional correspondence, following such classics as Eliphas Levi’s Letters to a Disciple and Aleister Crowley’s Aleister Explains Everything (published as Magick Without Tears). A significant difference is that Baba Lon’s book covers answers to a wider number and variety of correspondents than those addressed by Constant and Crowley. He does not even scruple to bar a little representative “crank mail.” 

Baba Lon boasts that he has improved on the format established by his predecessors, because he includes the letters from querents along with his own responses. He fails, however, to include the dates of his own letters. This information would be of interest because he has been teaching about magick for three decades, and he freely admits that his opinions change over time. What’s more, he repeatedly emphasizes that the virtue of magick (and freemasonry) involves the gradual improvement in the perspective of the effective aspirant.

The omission of dates is also significant in that the letters are not arranged in chronological sequence, but rather by topic. A peculiar feature of this scheme is the last section consisting of a single letter on the topic of “Reincarnation.” Although that arrangement may look a bit goofy in the abstract, the final letter itself is especially wonderful and deserves its privileged position. Besides, the various portraits of Baba Lon by his wife St. Constance of the Well demonstrate that looking a bit goofy is in fact part of his magical modus operandi.

While Baba Lon’s answers are not always the ones I would give (and I confess to answering questions at least as often as I ask them in recent years of occult correspondence), they all show the sort of wisdom and humanity that his readers and students have come to expect of him. “It’s funny because it’s true” so often here. Readers of this book who have not met Lon DuQuette or heard him speak should seek out one of the YouTube videos that show him in informal conversation, to get a sense of his voice and pacing, so as to be able to mentally construct the whole “Baba Lon” effect. 

I recommend this book heartily to all Thelemites, and to any sincere students of the occult. It provides constructive replies (if not always “answers”) both to questions we are repeatedly asked, and to those we should perennially ask.

Like the scientist, the true occultist learns by his own experience, built upon the recorded previous experience of others.

William Walker Atkinson and Lon Milo DuQuette, The Astral World [Amazon]

Hermetic quote Atkinson DuQuette The Astral World true occultist learns by his own experience built upon the recorded previous experience of others

The Pathworkings of Aleister Crowley

Randall Bowyer reviews The Pathworkings of Aleister Crowley: The Treasure House of Images by J F C Fuller, with Aleister Crowley, David Cherubim, Lon Milo DuQuette, Christopher S Hyatt, and Nancy Wasserman; in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews.

Fuller The Pathworkings of Aleister Crowley

This book contains 2 1/2 pages by Crowley, no pathworkings at all, and 57 pages of Really Basic Introductory Stuff – typical New Falcon pabulum. The main text is The Treasure-House of Images, being 90 pages of dreadful poetry by J.F.C. Fuller (who, you may notice, gets no credit on the title-page).

Like other books from these guys, this one seems to be written for either intermediate students or total beginners, depending on what page you read. If you’re advanced enough to create your own pathworkings but have not yet learned the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, then this book is for you!

The Magick of Thelema

The Magick of Thelema: A Handbook of the Rituals of Aleister Crowley by Lon Milo DuQuette, reviewed by Magdalene Meretrix, in the archive of Bkwyrm’s Occult Book Reviews. There is a newer edition.

DuQuette The Magick of Thelema

Love him, hate him, respect him, fear him…..no matter what the reaction to Aleister Crowley, it’s difficult to honestly deny his contribution to occult science as it is studied today. Potential students of Crowley’s writings are often put off by his obscurity, however. Even his “primer,” Magick Without Tears, is nearly unintelligible to the average person.

This is where Lon Milo DuQuette steps in. DuQuette has served as an officer in Crowley’s magical order, the OTO, for over two decades, studied Crowley’s writings for nearly three decades and was personally acquainted with some of Crowley’s top students. In this book of rituals, DuQuette explains Crowley’s philosophy as best as anyone could demystify a mystic and goes through all the major Thelemic rituals step by step, explaining the visualizations and symbology behind the words and motions.

The text includes lengthy explanations of many Thelemic words of power and the center section has sixteen photos of ritual stances. The entire text of the Book of the Law, the Thelemic holy book, is included as well as a Tree of Life diagram and many diagrams of various pentagrams and hexagrams with explanations of their meanings.

DuQuette writes with humor and more than a measure of self-deprecation, attractive in a man so obviously learned. The only negative comments I could make about this book are that I don’t agree with DuQuette’s stance of taking the sex out of sex magick and I wish the book were spiral bound since it is a reference book that the serious Thelemic magician will want to consult over and over again. Every copy of this book I have ever seen has either been unread or all the pages have come loose from the binding.

Low Magick

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Low Magick: It’s All In Your Head … You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is by Lon Milo DuQuette.

The world is full (and fuller all the time) of grimoires, technical manuals on one or another school of esoteric technique, and primers on beginning magical practice. To the credit of author Lon DuQuette, Low Magick is none of these. It is instead a brief collection of mini-memoires, true stories of occult practice that demonstrate the contexts and motives for magical operation, as well as their means and effects. As such, it is something of a sequel to his earlier book My Life with the Spirits, although it presumes no familiarity with the previous volume.

The “Low” in the title is not to distance the work detailed in this book from the ceremonial style of magick, of which it is a signal, if slightly unorthodox, demonstration. It is rather “Low” in order a) to embrace an indictment once leveled against him by his mentor (15), and b) to place his practical engagement in counterpoint to the theoretical “High Magic” of Alphonse Louis Constant, one of his spiritual ancestors (9, 16-17). The magick in this book is the sort that gets its (suitably consecrated) hands dirty, and doesn’t worry too much about what the neighbors think.

Consistent with his other recent books in the field, DuQuette here delivers both entertainment and sound instruction. This may be one of his best. [via]

What is of primary importance is that the master key to the initiatory method itself becomes a permanently installed fixture in the individual. Once we have learned the process of becoming something greater than we are, we can and eventually will, apply that same alchemy to ourselves to achieve the supreme attainment.

Lon Milo DuQuette, The Sons of Osiris: A Side Degree

The Sons of Osiris

Hermetic Library librarian John Griogair Bell reviews The Sons of Osiris: A Side Degree, curated and introduced by Lon Milo DuQuette, part of the The Magical Antiquarian Curiosity Shoppe series of ebooks from Weiser Books.

Lon Milo DuQuette Sons of Osiris

The idea behind this little ebook-only release is pretty awesome. This little ebook-only release is a fucking embarrassment. This ebook is part of a series Weiser Books put out a few years ago that was a combination of re-packaged, but notable and not readily available, public domain material selected by Lon Milo DuQuette and several Freemasonic side-degrees selected from a private collection, each with a little intro essay by DuQuette. But, it is completely plain that whomever was responsible for producing these at Weiser Books didn’t even bother to so much as glance at the text between simply running source pages through an OCR and quickly pasting the unchecked output into the template for the series.

I picked up several of these, mentioned them on the library blog when they came out, but I have not read any of them after slogging my way through a couple that revealed the trouble was endemic to the series, not just one book in it. I only made three highlights in The Sons of Osiris. Two were errors that made me laugh aloud, and the third was a particular point in DuQuette’s introductory essay that is of note. This specific book isn’t unreadable, but it is so riddled with enough errors that it hurts to read.

First off, they didn’t even fill in the placeholder text on the copyright page. I mean: they didn’t minimally put in even that much effort.

Originally published as (or excerpted from) [insert original author, title, publisher, and year]

In the introduction, which I presume was not written for this book specifically, and vaguely recall appears as the introduction in another side-degree issue in this series, Lon writes:

What is of primary importance is that the master key to the initiatory method itself becomes a permanently installed fixture in the individual. Once we have learned the process of becoming something greater than we are, we can and eventually will, apply that same alchemy to ourselves to achieve the supreme attainment.

Now this has to be a curious statement that has stuck with me and percolated. The suggestion here seems that it isn’t the Mysteries, the specific content of an initiation, that matters so much as the experience of mystery and the internalizing the overall initiatory process as a lesson. It’s not the content, but the experience of the structure; and internalizing that meta-level of initiation. Lon said something in one of his in-person classes that struck me similarly as an odd thing when, I don’t have my notes at hand at the moment to be more clear or to phrase this how he said it, he suggested that learning the Kabbalah was about getting the ego self out of the way with busy work so it didn’t get in the way of the Work. That and this seem to me to be similar. Isn’t it odd in ostensibly extolling Kabbalah in a class about Kabbalah, Lon says learning Kabbalah isn’t about Kabbalah per se and in talking about initiation Lon says initiation isn’t about the initiation or the particular symbol and meaning system internal to the initiation per se; rather, both are about the meta-level effect of either giving the self busy work so it doesn’t get in the way or of having the experience of the initiatory method which one can internalize. The latter reminds me of something I’ve been known to say about the initiation experience being a way to become comfortable with the uncomfortable experience of not knowing, meaning that there’s a meta-level benefit to the experience (which, I’ve suggested, one wouldn’t get from just a reading of the script or, moreover, ever get from the experience if one read the script beforehand); but, there’s more to this that that. If I ever do an interview for the library with Lon, this will be something I’d love to discuss with him. But, it’s something, if even the only, I’ve felt was a great takeaway from this book and I’ve had in my thoughts ever since.

Then, buried under the bulk of not-at-all amusing textual and formatting errors, I still laugh when I think about Zeus and his “frank incense”.

ZEUS.—“Now spray him with the frank incense of the gods.”

I see and hear Laurence Olivier in full Clash of the Titans costume booming this line out and it just totally cracks me up. Another thing that I imagine from this is some awesome Rocky Horror style audience participation in these side degrees. There’s a little voice in the audience of my imagination that calls back “Don’t laugh!” or “Don’t call me Frank, Shirley!” or something each time I recall this mistake in the text.

Weiser Books hasn’t even corrected a mistake in the Amazon detail text, and this ebook was released in 2012. It’s been like that for years. Obviously, no one has looked at this either, so, you know, par for the course.

Lon Milo DuQuette Sons of Osiris Amazon detail

Apparently no one gives enough of a crap to fix even that, flapping in the wind for all who might otherwise be tempted into purchasing the book to see, let alone to have done it well in the first place. Furthermore as far as I can tell there’s never been an update to the text of the book itself either. A quick glance at the current “Look Inside!” for this book displays this exact same error I highlighted still on the first pages. I can’t bring myself to look further lest I relive the horror because, it turns out by page one of the preview text, it’s even worse than I remember. They didn’t even fill in the copyright year placeholder for their own cover!

Lon Milo DuQuette Sons of Osiris look inside

This is just an awful disappointment, and as much as the source material could be of fun for people to read; there is no way I can recommend this book to anyone. And, unfortunately, this is not the only book I read in the series with egregious errors. There’s another book in the series with many more errors than this one. I’m embarrassed for Weiser Books and embarrassed for Lon Milo DuQuette as his name is attached to this series.

Wish I had access to the source material, in the private collection from which this was curated, so I could put it up on the library because I’d actually proofread it. These side degree rituals are actually of interest both in and of themselves but also something that local bodies of Whatever∴ Whatever∴ & The Other Thing∴ could put on for fun and enjoyment in a local body or something.

But, no. Don’t bother with this edition unless you’ve a strong stomach for dealing with extremely distracting copyediting errors.

I made only 3 highlights, all mentioned above, and submitted 60 corrections.