Tag Archives: magic

The Tao & the Tree of Life

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus review The Tao & The Tree of Life: Alchemical & Sexual Mysteries of the East & West [Amazon, Weiser Antiquarian, Local Library] by Eric Steven Yudelove, foreword by Mantak Chia.

Yudelove Chia The  Tao and the Tree of Life

Author Eric Yudelove is a practitioner of both Taoist internal alchemy and occultist Kabbalah, and this book sets forth his effort to synthesize the two sets of theory while comparing and harmonizing their techniques. It is written with accessible language and a sometimes irritatingly informal tone, occasionally coming across as rather credulous about the metaphysical bases of the two disciplines at issue. In addition, Yudelove is an “initiated shaman” (initiatory pedigree not supplied) who claims that a sort of generic shamanism forms the substratum of all historical mysticisms.

His Taoist internal alchemy credentials are impressive, as he was a senior American student and long personal associate of Mantak Chia, whose instruction and publications represent the most conspicuous and widespread sources of technical information on this school of practice in the late 20th century. At certain points in The Tao & the Tree of Life Yudelove says he is revealing internal alchemy practices about which Mantak Chia had never written in his books, and this claim is ratified in the foreword by Mantak Chia himself. Of special note are the astronomically-oriented mediations discussed towards the end of the book, which Yudelove identifies with certain passages from the Thelemic Book of the Law.

When writing about Kabbalah (his preferred spelling), Yudelove distinguishes between the Jewish Kabbalah, an esoteric religious tradition, and what he calls the “Western Kabbalah,” a syncretist mystical system. (I think “Hermetic Qabalah” is a more accurate and telling label for the latter.) He emphasizes the value of the Western Kabbalah in this book. Here he surpasses Perle Epstein, whom he cites as the only prior writer to intimate the parallel between Kabbalistic and Taoist mediation. She had merely set apart a “Christian Cabala” which she deprecated relative to its Jewish antecedents. Yudelove’s foremost cited authority on Jewish Kabbalah is Ariyeh Kaplan, and for the Western Kabbalah he is openly indebted to both Aleister Crowley and Franz Bardon. Possibly more important, although only cited for one title in the appended bibliography, is Israel Regardie, whose publication of the “middle pillar ritual” is so important to Yudelove’s understanding of Kabbalistic practice. When Yudelove writes that “the Cherubim are the Angels of Yesod in the world of Assiah” (161) he is using Aleister Crowley’s correspondences in 777, but Crowley–who followed Maimonides in this attribution–notes that authorities differ and “there are many other schemes” (note to Col. C).

An interesting feature of the book is the colloquial review of some relevant literature of sex magic and sex mysticism available in the early 1990s. Yudelove praises Ashcroft-Nowicki’s Tree of Ecstasy, and he amusingly dogs Fra. U.D.’s Secrets of the German Sex Magicians: “It just makes me wonder what the German sex magicians were doing before Chia began to publish?” (131) Still, he admits of his own book, “This is not a scholarly, exhaustive work” (159). It is a very broad, practical overview of its subject.

The exception to this wide focus is the detail afforded in the appendices, which represent language developed by Yudelove for in-person instruction in both Taoist and Kabbalist meditations. These are very good, although not flawless. In particular “Taoist Meditation 2” has a passage in which various “points” are addressed, and for each there is the symptom of the point’s “open” (good) and “closed” (bad) functioning, in that sequence. These should really be reversed, so that the sequence reflects and guides improvement rather than suggesting and possibly fostering deficiencies.

As far as I have been able to tell, this 1996 Lllewellyn book was Yudelove’s first. He went on to publish more in the same vein. In 2005, he furnished a minor headline for the New York Post when he was subjected to arrest and multiple criminal charges for altercations he seems to have initiated at the Hustler Club strip joint on 51st Street. To the extent of my knowledge, he is still alive and in good health, so perhaps his claims are sound for the ecstasy and immortality supposedly conferred by his practices. Still, his recorded behavior indicates they are no guarantee of wisdom or beneficence.

The book is useful enough on its own terms, although best read in conjunction with related literature, for which the author helpfully provides a competent biography.

“I’ve prepared a PowerPoint presentation that will cover the basics of what I wish to discuss with you,” Lucifer begins, opening up the ThinkPad. “Stop,” Billy says. “PowerPoint?” “It’s my preferred medium,” says Lucifer. “No,” Billy says. “Just no. You want to talk? We can talk. But I’m hungover, I’m annoyed, I’m still kind of losing my shit, I’m not watching a freaking PowerPoint presentation.” “PowerPoint is actually quite unfairly maligned,” Lucifer says.

Jeremy P Bushnell, The Weirdness: A Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Bushnell The Weirdness not watching a freaking powerpoint presentation

Well, that was the thing with humans. They liked to be around each other and cram themselves three or four in a den if they could, then cram their dens in together as close as house martin nests. Leave a human alone for too long and it would get weird and sad.

T Kingfisher, Minor Mage [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Kingfisher Minor Mage humans liked around each other alone too long get weird sad

“We’re all in this together,” she said, which was a typically Fifth assumption. The Ninth didn’t think anyone was in anything together, or if they were, they all had to disperse as soon as humanly possible to avoid splash damage.

Tamsyn Muir, Harrow the Ninth [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Muir Harrow the Ninth- in this together assumption disperse avoid splash damage

Aurum Solis

J S Kupperman reviews Aurum Solis: Initiation Ceremonies and Inner Magical Techniques [Amazon, Publisher, Local Library] by Osborne Phillips in the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition archive.

Phillips Aurum Solis

Osborne Phillips, former Chief of the Ogdoadic occult order known as the Aurum Solis, here reveals for the first time the initiatory ceremonies of that order, along with papers on their symbolism, the symbolism of the officers and some of the magical techniques and visualizations utilized in those rituals. The main symbolism of the Aurum Solis is Greek, though utilized with an hermetic understanding and with corresponding hermetic techniques. Officer titles in this degree include Hermes, the Initiator and Archmagus and Asklepias, the Assistant Adept. The third and final degree of the Aurum Solis combines Greek symbolism along with Egyptian and other ancient traditions. Aurum Solis provides a brief history of the Order and also discusses the initiatory pattern used by the Aurum Solis’ initiatory scheme known as the Fivefold Pattern of the House of Sacrifice. The book is then divided into two sections, the first dealing with the first two degrees or Outer Order of the Aurum Solis, the second concerning the third degree or Inner Order.

The Outer Order chapters, after the introduction, first discuss the temple set up used by the Aurum Solis, describing the placement of its furniture, banners and other symbolic “decoration”. Next the symbolism of the temple officers, their vestments or clothing and their pentacles or lamens is discussed. After this a ritual consecration of the temple space, along with explanations and visualizations is given. Finally the first and second degrees, called the Neophyte of the Great Work and Servitor of the Secret Flame, respectively, are given, again along with symbolism, descriptions of movements, magical techniques and visualizations.

The second section, concerning the Inner Order, follows a similar format as the previous section. First the Telesterion, the special temple or magical working space associated solely with the Aurum Solis’ third degree, is described. Next the officers and their regalia are described, along with their symbolism. The next chapter concerns the “Great One of Enchantments,” which is the name of the special Egyptian wand used in the third degree initiation, is described, along with its consecration ritual. Fourth the ritual of the third degree, called the Votary of the Sun, is described and explained. Finally there is a chapter called “The Bond of Light” that gives the consecration ritual for the Tessera; the symbol of the Work of the Aurum Solis.

Aurum Solis is an important addition to the already existing corpus of Aurum Solis materials. While it does not appear to provide the complete secrets of the Order’s initiation ceremonies on the level that Pat Zalewski’s Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries does, it does provide the beginning magician a framework to operate under and the experienced magician enough tools to fill in the blanks. It completes, as it were, the purpose of the Aurum Solis Magical Philosophy series, which previously gave its readers the important techniques and philosophies of the Order. The only drawback of the book is its complete lack of diagrams and drawings.