Mishkan ha-Echad

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Recommended Beginner Books

This is a common question I see on forums and receive in emails, PMs, IM, and so forth, and thus I believe it deserves a blog post. What are the best recommend books for a beginner to ceremonial magick, and the Golden Dawn system in particular? I've listed some of my recommendations below, in the various categories of interest:

Golden Dawn & Ceremonial Magick

Regardie's "magnum opus", this book gives an excellent introduction to ceremonial magick, if you can get over his difficult style of writing (he writes longer paragraphs than I do!). As ever, I recommend the Cicero edition for expanded material, images, and notes.

An excellent introduction to some of the basic rituals a magician, especially within the Golden Dawn tradition, should know, along with an exploration of the links between magick and psychology. Get the Cicero edition for expanded material and notes.

An excellent introductory text, complete with history, grade and syllabus structure, and some frequently asked questions and concerns by new students. You can find my review of it here.

This is the old "tome" that every student of this system should have. It contains most of the rituals, knowledge lectures, initiation ceremonies, and so forth.

If you're considering self-initiation, then this is the definitive work. However, it's also useful for temple initiates, as it expands upon and better organises the material of Regardie's book.

The Golden Dawn has quite a few tools and regalia to create, and this book is an excellent guide to doing just that. A new edition is available via Thoth Publications.

A relatively new magazine dealing with Golden Dawn and general esoteric topics. The fifth issue was released a few weeks ago, which you can download for $6, or you can get four copies (a year's supply [it's published at Equinoxes and Solstices]) for $20 (all funds go to the Cicero's legal fund). This magazine has some excellent material, including well-known Golden Dawn authorities like the Ciceros and Nick Farrell. I highly recommending adding this to your collection.

Qabalah

The standard text on Hermetic Qabalah, on almost everyone's recommended list. This can be reread several times to learn new material, and should be on every magician's shelf.

A great introductory guide to the Qabalah, including some material Fortune omits. I think this is easier to read than Fortune's book. I suggest getting the Cicero edited edition, as their notes are very useful, as well as their addition of pathworkings.

An excellent guide to both the Qabalah and Tarot, and how they interrelate.

Tarot

This is the traditional Rider-Waite deck with more appealing colouring. While not fully accurate to Golden Dawn material, it provides one of the best basic Tarot experiences, and, due to its wide use, is a good deck to begin with.

If you're studying the Golden Dawn system, then you need a Golden Dawn deck. I have both the Wang and Cicero decks, which I like and dislike for different reasons. The colouring of the Cicero one is beautiful and evocative (flashing colours are very powerful, so it's understandable why they were originally reserved for the Inner Order). The Wang deck includes different imagery, some of which is nicer than the Cicero one, while others are not so nice. These two decks are out of print, however, but you can get a black and white Golden Dawn deck here.

See above.

Case specialised in the Tarot, and his works on the Tarot are mostly of high calibre.

Astrology

An excellent resource for both constructing and understanding your natal chart. Not something you'd read from cover to cover, but highly recommended.
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