Friday, June 11, 2010

That Ten Book Thing

Ok, everyone else is doing it...

But I just can't stand it. The rules are too stringent.  I get about halfway through and realize there's no way it can really work on 10 books alone. Ten web sites would work better for me, I think, Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Alchemy Website, and Peterson's Esoteric Archives are the very bestest resources for mages seeking power and Hermetic success.

But I'll take a stab at it. All the cool bloggers are doing it.

If the goal were to create a traditional Hermetic magician empowered to fully attain the heights described in the Corpus Hermeticum and to consciously realize and implement the process defined in the Emerald Tablet, I think the following books would be useful.

1. The Bible. I think to understand the things that subtly, culturally have impacted the magical traditions in the West over the last 5000 years, you've got to read this. And you have to read it from cover to cover, and without anyone telling you what it means. If someone tries to tell you what the Bible means (that's called Hermeneutics, which is a fun word to say), one of two things is guaranteed to be true: they are wrong, or you won't get it because you haven't figured it out on your own yet. Note: If you read Chronicles, you can skip the Kings, or vice versa, but really reading Leviticus is the only way to grok Paul's epistles for serious.

2. Prometheus Rising. I hate RAW. He fucked me in my brain for years. He'll fuck you too. With his dead dick. And it will help make you a better person. Reading this after reading the Bible will be good for you. This is the only RAW book I would read, if I were you. Everything else he wrote is just this stuff repeated over and over again. If you don't read this one, the Illuminatus! trilogy should be explored, but that's too many books for this list. RAW is a lot like Crowley. Everything he wrote was a joke, a prank, and it just happened to be true

3. Plato's Republic. So much of Hermetics began here. Seeing the influence of Plato, who wrote while the Bible was being written a few hundred miles away is important, and plus it's the only way to really understand soul mates, and the goals of the Hermeticists that came later. Magic isn't only about transforming the self, it is also about the State, culture, and the humanities. It puts things into perspective.

4. Plato's Timaeus - You can't be a priest-king of Atlantis (or queen) until you've read the original account of it sinking into the waves in context. Also, the Creation Myth is important to understand, it explains Crowley. Crowley read this shit, and if you haven't, you're missing all the best punchlines in his published works.

5. Iamblichus, On the Mysteries. Oh shit. Or maybe Plotinus' Enneads. One or the other, but probably Iamblichus even though he's not exactly accurate in my understanding. He was writing as the Hellenized Egyptian Priest-Magician on the practices that were based on Hermetics while the stuff later attributed to Hermes Trismagistus were being written. So important to read and understand.

6. The Divine Pymander, attributed to Hermes Trismagistus. Without this, you will never be a Hermetic Magician, no matter how much you paid for your GD initiations.

7. Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Gordon got to post Liber ABA as one book, so this counts too because Tyson's version is in one book volume, right? After reading the Bible and the Republic, Timaeus, the Enneads/On the Mysteries, and the Divine Pymander, you'll have the raw data that is necessary to grok the praxis of Agrippa.

8. The Arbatel. Perhaps the perfect Grimoire.

9. Postmodern Magic: Holds the keys to unlocking the Arbatel, really. And everything else. It was a toss up between this and Magic, Power, Language, Symbol: A Magician's Exploration of Linguistics.

10. Sorcerer's Secrets: Perhaps the best presentation of applied magic I've ever read. It's the book I would have written given the chance.

Although these books lay the foundation of information that have helped me a great deal, by themselves they are not sufficient to accomplish the stated goal. There needs to be a system of practice that allows the magician to conjure the spirits listed in the tables of Agrippa, for example, like the one provided in the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy, or the Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals.

Using this system, the magician needs to be conjuring the spirits and learning from them, receiving empowerments, intitiations, and direct instruction. That's the most important thing of all.

At the same time, they need to be in contact with other magicians who have gone through this before. I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am without the input and friendship of Patrick Dunn, Frater Servitor Lucem, Jason Miller, the Deputy Lodge Master of the local OTO camp, those I have attempted to teach (Chris and Victor and the Sianys, and all the members of the SA Course), and the people like Dee, Susanne, Theo, Suzanne, Gordon, Logan, the good Witchdoctor Joe, Lavanah, Kathy MacDonald, Aaron Leitch, Jake Stratton-Kent, Chris Warnock, and god, the list goes on. All my blogging friends who I agree with and disagree with, Kenaz, Jhonn and Jow and Jack, Miss Sugar and VVF and Spiderella and Justin and ... shit. Fr. AIT, Balthazar and Barabas, uh... and anyone else I haven't mentioned who has helped me that deserves a mention but I can't recall. And all the members of the yahoo groups who have helped me and argued with me over the years, they all contributed so much.

They've provided insight, or feedback, or mentorship, or simply a different point of view that made me think about things differently. Having friends and cohorts in different systems shows me more of the overall ... thing ... that we're doing and the methods we use, the shared goals and the different approaches. I've seen that we're all a part of a Cosmic Hierarchy, a Celestial Hierarchy that extends to the spirits, but is also embodied in the flesh. God speaks through my friends and fellow bloggers in ways that balance and ground the input from the spirits I cavort with.

Books are good, and necessary inputs to the foundations of what we do and what we are, but they are a third of the picture. Spirits and Other Magicians are equally important aspects that must be included if your'e going to get anywhere worth getting.


  1. I am stunned and flattered that you included my books in your top ten list. Stunned. And flattered.

    Thanks. Best compliment I've received in some time.

  2. Agrippa is totally allowed for the same reason I borderline-cheated. It's published as one damn book!

    I like that the last few paragraphs sound like your Oscar acceptance speech. Someone should really give you an Oscar. You don't tear up like Halle Berry. :)

    Fun fact: Your Plato focus reads very similar to my Auckland-based occultist friend's ideas of what the 'best 10 hypothetical starting books' would be.

    My disagreement triggered the debate which ultimately gave birth to the game. (PS - I didn't win the argument at lunch and I wouldn't win it now. Amazing list.)

  3. I'm catching up on a couple of these titles. I also recently wrote about the incredible power of the words of the Corpus Hermeticum and how they are instantly impacting to me. Given that, I've got some more reading to do. I feel I've missed out on some big things, and based on the weight of some of the things in this list, I'd say that's probably true.

    Show my blog some love sometime if you find a minute or two. I'm going through a really big process and you've had a big hand in that overall, realize it or not.

    And scratch that "attempted to teach", you've profoundly impacted me and I don't know if you see that. I do after all keep coming back for more, right?

    Hope all is well with you, or at least getting there.


Thanks for your comments, your opinions are valued, even if I disagree with them. Please feel free to criticize my ideas and arguments, question my observations, and push back if you disagree.