There are some books that are required reading for the serious tarot enthusiast, and this list represents my top five foundational books on tarot – books that will provide a solid historical, symbolic and esoteric foundation for any student.
1. Dogme et rituel de la haute magie (available in English as Transcendental Magic), by Éliphas Lévi (Alphonse-Louis Constant)
First published in 1855 as Dogme et rituel de la haute magie, it became a foundational text for the French occult revival. It was translated into English by Arthur Edward Waite in 1896 as Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual and gained wider recognition among English-speaking occultists on both sides of the Atlantic.
Dogma et rituel became the first occult text to weave elemental, alchemical, astrological and planetary theory with kabbalah, the tarot and ceremonial magick, synthesizing the first wholly integrated system of magick. It served and continues to serve as the basis for much symbolism found in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and various contemporary mystery schools. While lacking in historical accuracy, and allowing for many liberties taken with its symbolic integrity, Dogma et rituel remains an important historical work for this reason. Continue reading
Confessions of a Black Magician, by Nathan Neuharth
Original Falcon Press, 9781935150794, 191 pp., 2010
Our hero in this tale is the author himself, and as no occultist anywhere ever had but one name, he’s known variously as Nathan Neuharth, Frater Parsifal, and Natas, or Saint Natas.
The book opens with his initiation into the Golden Dawn, introducing a colourful cast of characters in his new fraters and sorors. Neuharth allies himself with Fater Azazel, a brother in the order who shares his affinity for Aleister Crowley and Thelemic magick. His experiments lead him to encounters with angels, and devils too, not to mention aliens and Atlanteans who offer him questionable messages.
Inspired by Jack Parson’s Babalon Working, Neuharth seeks to undertake a similar project he called the Babalon Isis Working. Various incarnations of Babalon appear as she is won, lost, regained and eventually walks out of his life. In the process Neuharth loses his wife, his kids, his job and very possibly his mind. Continue reading
John L Crow hosted the popular podcast Thelema Coast to Coast, and is currently pursuing a PhD. in American Religious History at Florida State University.
This interview was conducted on Saturday, September 4th, 2010.
Psyche: Thelema Coast to Coast was an excellent podcast running from 2005 to 2007, one of the first of its kind and I believe the first to be solely dedicated to Thelema. It’s been almost three years since your last episode. Do you miss it?
John L. Crow: Yes and no. The podcast was certainly a product of its time and filled a particular need within the Thelemic community. I miss the interaction with the larger community, the feedback and so forth. But I honestly don’t miss producing the podcast itself. It was a lot of work and now that I am in graduate school, I simply do not have the time.
I have been asked if I will ever resurrect the show. Continue reading
Art and Practice of Geomancy, The: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance , by John Michael Greer
Weiser Books, 9781578634316, 243 pp. (incl. appendix), 2009
Geomancy is a form of divination that reached the height of popularity and practice in the middle ages and renaissance. Ignored for centuries, it became part of the Golden Dawn’s teaching, but it never really caught on, and there is a chance this book will help change that.
Greer first places the reader Continue reading
The Weiser Concise Guide to Aleister Crowley, by Richard Kaczynski, edited and introduced by James Wasserman
Weiser Books, 978157634569, 126 pp. (incl. appendices), 2009
Richard Kaczynski is the author of the acclaimed biography, Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley (sadly out of print), and it’s not surprising that he is able to sketch the outlines of Crowley’s life so. Naturally, the book begins with a biography of Crowley, briefly describing his early life, his time at Cambridge, poetry, the Golden Dawn, the reception of Leiber AL vel Legis, the OTO and the A.’. A.’., the Abbey of Thelema and his end. The section concludes with an annotated list of twelve books of Crowley’s work as recommended reading.
Part I deals with “Mystical and Magical Societies”, specifically Continue reading