Mishkan ha-Echad

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Book Review: By Names and Images


Peregrin Wildoak's first book, By Names and Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life, is an aptly-titled exploration of the Golden Dawn system of magic from a unique perspective. It delves into the inner workings of the rituals and techniques utilised by the Order and provides an accessible guidebook and manual for working with and within the Golden Dawn tradition.

At 371 pages this is a comprehensive text, exploring many of the important teachings of the Order in some detail, with chapters on purification, meditation, divination, aura control, invocation, evocation, inner plane work, and initiation. The material on auras and dramatic invocation is particularly good, showing a wealth of experience and insight in this area.

I do not always agree with some of the things Wildoak suggests, such as drawing up the light from the Earth in the Qabalistic Cross, but it is interesting to see another approach to this thriving magical tradition. There are also a couple of Hebrew errors, but these are relatively minor and do not detract from the overall quality of the work.

Perhaps the biggest strength of this book is the fact that it highlights the importance of the inner workings that actually make the Golden Dawn rituals and ceremonies operate effectively. The original Order left behind a wealth of material, but there are definite gaps in the system which need to be filled by modern adepts. While many of Wildoak's suggested inner workings are not strictly traditional, they do provide a workable system for enhancing ritual practice and show how other magicians can instil more life into their magical work.

By Names and Images is more than just a theoretical text, however. It is, in many ways, a detailed manual, giving step-by-step instructions for the performance of ritual magic. This is primarily aimed at solitary magicians, but temple members can equally benefit from seeing how a fellow Frater does things. Instructions at the end of the book for connecting with the Golden Dawn egregore provide a workable alternative or supplementary material to existing approaches of self-initiation.

This book was supposed to be released many years ago, but a delay at the previous publisher means that this material has only now come to light. This is a pity, as I can see how beneficial something like this would have been to aspiring magicians several years ago, but it is good to see small publishing companies like Skylight Press ensuring texts like this are made available.

Wildoak's passion for the Golden Dawn and spiritual growth pervades this work, which constantly affirms a connection to the divine, something that cannot be accessed by just going through the motions in our ceremonies and rituals. We might know the names and images that are used in Golden Dawn work, but Wildoak highlights some of the inner work that really brings the system to life.
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