I have had some interesting conversations with some insightful magicians, discussing the phenomenon of the dark night of the soul, and the feelings of desolation, despair and deep depression which can occur to anyone who is following the initiatory path of magick. There seems to be consensus that all magicians at some point retire from the world (and, in a sense, renounce it) to undergo the mystical rigors of the dark night of the soul while seeking union with the One.
Strangely, I seem to be one of the few who takes issue with this. I think that it has more to do with a mystical approach to the godhead than a magical approach, and there are also the issues of chronic or situational depression, isolation and despair that have really nothing to do with spiritual ascension. In clinical depression, removing oneself from the world is a common symptom, and strong feelings are often replaced with a feeling of numbness, stasis or apathy.
The real question then, is whether or not mystics and magicians experience the iconic dark night of the soul in the same way. Continue reading
Gnostic Healing: Revealing the Hidden Power of God, by Tau Malachi and Siobhan Houston.
Llewellyn, 9780738719832, 178 pp. (incl. appendices), 2010
Most of us are familiar with systems of energy healing such as Reiki, or magickal healing of various traditions, but is there a parallel in Christianity? That’s what Gnostic Healing sets out to teach and explore. Over all I was impressed by this book and the teachings, but several parts of the book left me annoyed. I’ll voice several of my complaints before moving into why I enjoyed this book.
“The Sophian lineage has been, up until the last few years, a wholly oral tradition, which probably had its origins around the seventeenth century as part of the ‘Rosicrucian Enlightenment.’” Nowhere in the introduction or the rest of text do the authors offer any proof for what to me is a rather incredulous claim of an unknown oral lineage of spiritual healers surviving for a few hundred years under the radar, and we’ll see later why this is even more unlikely. Personally I think the content of the book is good enough that it doesn’t need a mythic history to give it credibility. Continue reading
The Gnostic Faustus: The Secret Teachings behind the Classic Text, by Ramona Fradon
Inner Traditions, 9781594772047, 370 pp., 2007
This is not a book for the casual reader. Without a basic understanding of Gnostic literature, alchemy and/or the Faust legend you will rapidly find yourself playing catch-up.
This book is predominantly a comparison, section by section (and sometimes line for line) between the original “Faust book” (Anonymous, circa 1570) and major Gnostic and alchemical writings, many of which were known only by reputation until the late 19th century and later. Each chapter is introduced with a short overview, and then the reader is left to read the document (in a series of side-by-side columns) and to make his own comparisons and draw his own conclusions. Continue reading