Tag Archives: Magdalene Meretrix

The Lives of a Cell

Magdalene Meretrix review The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher and The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher by Lewis Thomas in the Occult Book Reviews archive.

Thomas The Lives of a Cell

Thomas The Medusa and the Snail

These, Dr. Thomas’ first and second books, are timeless classics. Though Dr. Thomas is discussing science in his essays, his writing style has a mystic and poetic quality to it and his thoughts are inventive, unique and quirky. I imagine the late Dr. Thomas would be intrigued by alchemy and other hermetic disciplines though he might not take them seriously as being applicable to modern times. Still, there is a strong quality of magick in Dr. Thomas’ writing, particularly in his first book, Lives of a Cell.

For the scientist who enjoys a poetic view of nature or for the magician who tends to incorporate modern science into his world paradigm, these essays will be a delight. Some are sad, some will make you chuckle, all will make you ponder the universe whether on a large or small scale. I highly recommend Dr. Thomas’ essays to the intellectual reader.

Richard Hittleman’s Yoga

Magdalene Meretrix reviews Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan in the Bkwyrm archive.

Originally published in 1969, this book is a great way to begin a regular daily practice of Hatha Yoga. Using the standard asanas (postures), Hittleman introduces a few new postures every day and goes over the ones learned on earlier days, adding repetitions, new variations or length of time spent in asana to each one, creating a program that gradually eases you into the practices.

The asanas are liberally depicted in hundreds of photographs and carefully described in detailed text. My biggest complaint with this book is that I wish it were spiral bound so that I could leave it laying open while working on a new posture rather than fumbling with bookmarks or destroying the book by leaving it splayed open on the floor. After working the program for 28 days, you have theoretically laid the groundwork for a new habit. The book concludes with three programs of asanas, meant to be alternated daily. Unfortunately, I’ve found it far easier to work through the daily part of the book than to stick with the three alternating routines and so I have gone back to this book over and over, trying to build the habit again. Be warned that, despite Hittleman’s assurances, the hardest work begins when you’ve finished this book.

Find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s.

Modern Magick

Magdalene Meretrix reviews Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts by Donald Michael Kraig in the Bkwyrm archive.

Kraig’s background in the Golden Dawn tradition is readily apparent in this excellent beginner’s text on ceremonial magick. Kraig takes the novice through several basic rituals, step-by-step, and explains the moves, tools and words in very clear English. Each chapter ends with review questions and a bibliography of suggested reading.

Kraig tackles subjects that beginners often find overwhelmingly confusing – the myriad convoluted ways of drawing pentacles, qabbala, goetia, sex magick, charging and consecrating talismans, creating magickal weapons – and offers straightforward explanations in lucid prose.

Although I disagree with some of the author’s views, particularly his oversimplification of “white” and “black” magick, overall I have found this to be a very useful addition to my library and feel that Kraig offers valuable insights for beginner and seasoned practitioner alike.

Find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s.

The Magician of the Golden Dawn

Magdalene Meretrix reviews The Magician of the Golden Dawn: The Story of Aleister Crowley by Susan Roberts in the Bkwyrm archive.

Though this biography of Aleister Crowley is written in the style of a fictional novel, Roberts took great pains to avoid putting words in Crowley’s mouth. Roberts spent five years researching every available aspect of Crowley’s life. She interviewed Israel Regardie and Gerald Yorke. She read through the Yorke collection at the Warburg Institute – spending over five hundred hours reading the letters, diaries, typescripts and other unpublished materials contained in the collection. She travelled to Scotland to visit Crowley’s home, Boleskine. Finally she showed her finished product to Israel Regardie who wrote a foreword for her book, stating therein, “I am most impressed by Susan Robert’s portrayal of Crowley the man. It is an exciting book. Once begun, I rather fancy the reader will have considerable difficulty putting it down.”

I would have to agree with Regardie’s assessment. From the moment I picked up The Magician of the Golden Dawn I could do nothing else until I had finished the entire book. There were tender moments, embarrassing moments, victorious moments and tragic moments of Crowley’s life depicted in Roberts’ book. Robert’s writing style is captivating. I really felt as if I were reading about a living breathing human being.

Though Roberts writes in a novelistic style, none of the dialogue is manufactured. According to Roberts, “There is not a word of dialogue in this book that Crowley himself did not write or say.” In attempting to stay as close to the truth as humanly possible, Roberts portrays a man who was sometimes ‘saint,’ sometimes ‘sinner’ but always a genius. At times his genius seems to be masked by poor judgement, but never is he deified or vilified by Roberts.

Roberts even does a good job of explaining some of the basic tenets of Crowley’s philosophy, the Law of Thelema, in a manner comprehensible to the layman. To assist her explications, Roberts includes a short glossary of occult terms as well as a bibliography and index at the end of her book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a biography of Crowley that is not based on yellow journalism and sensationalism. Also, unlike Regardie’s excellent biography of Crowley, “The Eye in the Triangle,” this is a breezy read that the average reader should be able to finish in a week or less.

Find this book at Amazon, Abebooks, and Powell’s

Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek

Magdalene Meretrix reviews Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek, Book I by Maurice Balme &al in the Bkwyrm archive.

Ceremonial magicians often work in dead languages for a variety of reasons. Attic Greek, one of my favorites, tends to be very popular. Greek is one of the more difficult languages to learn, but I’ve found it to be very rewarding magically to learn a language rather than just to decode it or to parrot it mindlessly. Words have a great deal of magical power and knowing the sources and subtle nuances of a word often boost a working tremendously.

The Athanaze series is the best way I’ve found to learn Greek outside of a classroom and also happens to be the text most Greek professors choose for their lessons. Its lessons build vocabulary and grammar slowly, focussing on the many sections of text which start with extremely simplified but grammatically correct Greek and work their way up to Greek the way it was written in Pericles and Pythagoras’ time.

The backs of the books are filled with chart after chart of grammar paradigms and a small dictionary that not only translates Greek words into English but English into Greek as well, something most dictionaries of Ancient Greek do not. The pronunciation guide in the front of Book One and the dictionaries in the backs of both books are very helpful as well to those who do not wish to actually learn to read and write Greek but only to calculate Gematric values of translated or transliterated words. [via]