Don’t be fooled by that Ankh on the spine: Magical Hearth is actually a Llewellyn book in disguise. It combines two popular Llewellyn genres, the witchier homes-and-gardens genre (The Magical Household, etc.) and the Wiccan-family values genre (The Pagan Family, etc.), with a pronounced emphasis on herbal tea. The author displays the erudition characteristic of some Llewellyn authors, too: she writes “who’s” when she means “whose,” “imbibe” when she means “imbue,” and–my personal favorite–“Cabala” when she means “Sephirah.” It’s all so sad that I cried in my tea.
This is a fun little story of sorcery in the Middle Ages. The fact that it often reads like advance-promo for Bro. Gardner’s later books on Wicca merely adds to its charm and interest for the student of occultism. The plot involves a fairly unlikely alliance between a Pagan Witch and a Christian Mage (yeah, right again), and just maybe a few too many sneers at the Church (or maybe not), but it’s still fun. Although it is. married throughout by, erros of punctuation and of orthografy; typical of Bro. Gardner. Or perhaps a pour jab ov edithing on teh pert of Samael Wiser.
Then again, since we are dealing not with an ordinary novelist but with an Initiate, we must not rule out the possibility that these are “Qabalistic Mistakes” which secretly point to mighty arcana. For example, on p. 268 a spirit is conjured through “HIM who half created all things.” The casual reader will giggle at the obvious misprint of “half” for “hath,” but the Qabalist will ponder deeply: if HIM half-created all things, then who created the other half? Perhaps HER? The Torah tells us that ELOHIM is the author of Creation, so we can conclude that if HIM created half, ELO created the rest. This interpretation is supported by the Scripture, for we read that the Creation is two-fold – “In the beginning ELOHIM created the Heavens and the Earth.” And ELOHIM perfectly expresses this two-in-one idea of Deity, as it consists of the feminine Eloah with the masculine plural ending -im. But I digress…
About two-thirds of the book is devoted to Dee, Kelly, and things Enochian, with a good mix of historical background and actual Enochian Magical Stuff. Unfortunately, though, Turner follows the tradition of writers on Enochian magic: after mocking other writers on the subject and implying that he’s the only one who’s ever had an inkling about Enochian, he presents a text marred by simple errors of fact (e.g., on p. 17 two important dates are off by thirty years) and internal contradictions (e.g. on p. 4 he states emphatically that Liber Logaeth “contains not a vestige of text,” while on p. 22 he describes the contents of that text!). His work looks fairly sound overall, but such howlers make it impossible to trust him completely. One might adapt one of Turner’s own opprobria by suggesting that he displays the A.E. Waite brushmarks only too well.
The remainder of the book briefly discusses four other Elizabethan Mages, of whom one (Robert Turner, no relation, it seems, to the modern R.T.) was born some fifteen years after the death of Elizabeth I, and another (Thomas Jones) is considered a mage just because he was a cousin of Dr. Dee. The chapter on Turner is very interesting despite the anachronism, but that on Jones appears to be mere “filler.” The chapter on Robert Fludd is annoyingly brief, and barely mentions Fludd’s major works. I was delighted to read about the adventures of Simon Forman, a necromancer who amassed a considerable fortune as well as a considerable number of mistresses: he provides a refreshing contrast to pure-and-holy types like Fludd and the younger Turner.
Randall Bowyer reviews Commentaries on the Holy Books and Other Papers: The Equinox (Equinox, Vol 4, No 1) by Aleister Crowley Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, J. F. C. Fuller, and Charles Stansfeld Jones in the Bkwyrm archive.
Such proofreading! Such artwork! Such a spiffy cover! And hey, the contents are even interesting. This number of The Equinox does for the A∴ A∴ what vol. III no. 10 did for the O.T.O., collecting in one book a variety of articles which students of the A∴ A∴ system will find very useful and informative. Even if you’re not interested in the modern manifestations of A∴ A∴ , you may enjoy the previously-unpublished material, especially Crowley’s “illuminated MS” text of Liber DCLXXI vel Pyramidos.
Just as The Equinox vol. III no. 10 served as an important propaganda tool in establishing the legitimacy of our “Caliphate” O.T.O., the new number supports (though not as overtly) one of the several “lineages” of A∴ A∴ . The book opens with an anonymous Praemonstrance impugning some of the competitors; while no names are mentioned, it’s fairly obvious which faces are being slapped.
The big disappointment of the book is that it ignores the old editorial plan of The Equinox. Crowley only abandoned the original mixture of occultism with literature of all sorts (and those saucy book reviews!) when he ran out of money. I was very pleased when vol. III no. 10 returned to the original recipe, and I had hoped the trend would continue.
This over-priced and under-edited essay starts off with fifteen pages of goofy misconceptions about Satanism, Ceremonial Magick, and Wicca, then contrasts these three with Chaos Magick. Briefly, the author states that Chaos Magick is a free-form synthesis of Eastern religion and Western Magic, with a special emphasis on the techniques of Austin Spare. This may sound fairly typical of contemporary neopagan eclecticism, but we are assured that Chaos Magick is far superior to “the man-hating mouthings of the maxi-matriarchal Wiccans,” the gross stupidity of the Satanists, and especially the Ceremonial Magicians, who are too busy “licking the toes of their Aleister Crowley statues.” Sure, whatever. [via]