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Perhaps one of the most elusive books on the occult market is Eliphas Levi's "Transcendental Magic: It's Doctrine and Ritual". Originally written in French with the title "Dogme et Ritual de la Haute Magie" (1855-1856, published in two volumes), translated literally as "The Dogma and Ritual of High Magic", revised to the current title by translator and commentator, the questionable Arthur Edward Waite.
"Transcendental Magic" is broken into two books, appropriately "Doctrine" and "Ritual". Both books are divided up into 22 chapters. While it seems evident to any occult student that they equate to the tarot deck and Hebrew letter/number system, A. E. Waite immediately rejects this as only coincidence by stating "that which emerges, however, is its utter confusion." Waite apparently had difficulty relating the first chapter, "The Candidate" to the Juggler (Waite was part of the Golden Dawn which alters various symbols from the O.T.O, A.'.A.'., and other occult schools). Furthermore, the second book begins with "Preparations", which Waite believes makes no correspondence to "The Candidate" or The Juggler. Waite who translated the book to a very readable and exciting version is too hung up on historical accuracy, which accounts for most of his confusion. Waite is trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
Eliphas Levi, a priest of the Catholic Church, although wrote about occultism, still maintained faith in the Church. As one reads his other works, such as "The Great Secret" or "The Mysteries of the Qabalah", you will see his faith in Christianity is still evident from his exposition on the Christian and Jewish myths. "Transcendental Magic", however, still stands as his most impressive and complete work, which, as well has touches of Christianity within its pages. Any honest occultist will recognize the value of Christian and Jewish mythology as the foundation of modern occult practice. As expounded by Levi a number of times, any good Church-going Christian will know what "The Seven Seals of St. John" is referring.
It may be evident immediately that a once read will not suffice in capturing the meaning of Levi's words. I found immensely valuable a dictionary of etymology and a Greek, Hebrew and Latin dictionary (Oxford I prefer for all). Levi employs many strange words that one will need to know on a continual basis to grasp entirely. These words are paradoxical in practical work: they serve to further understanding by decoding various names and they serve as symbols unto themselves that one uses to activate various states. The beginning of each of the chapters in the book of the Doctrine lists the title, a Roman numeral, a Hebrew character, and a few words in other languages outside of English. It is prudent for the student to study those words in relation to all that precedes and follows it. They don't make sentences, but they will make sense.
While at first I read it from front to back, but as I was studying it, I found it more effective to read the first chapter from the Doctrine and then the first chapter from the Ritual. Essentially what you are reading is the "philosophical attitude" one must take, and then a means in which to maintain or carry that attitude through. The most confusing aspect for modern occultists is the Tarot attributions. There are many people who buy this in hopes for a book on Tarot, but they will certainly be disappointed. In most decks, it is common to give The Fool the numerical attribution of "0", the world egg, the inner and outer, evolution and involution. What Levi does is attribute 21 to the Fool, "Dentes Furca Amens" - the serpent tongue, the forked tooth (ala Shin), or liar in our modern nomenclature. Levi, however, is not alluding only to lying, but also "slips of the tongue" as in a Freudian nature and also speaking without restraint of thought. This chapter is headed with "Divination", where a diviner does not listen to their thoughts or prejudge a situation. They let the words roll off the tongue. This perhaps confuses anyone studying Crowley or Waite's deck or any popular run-of-the-mill tarot (save the Hall/Knapp and Taviglione decks).
To think of this book purely as a guide to the Tarot is to misunderstand the work entirely. As Levi says in the first chapter, "The man who loves his own opinions and fears to part with them, who suspects new truths, who is unprepared to doubt everything rather than admit anything on chance, should close this book: for him it is useless and dangerous."
To the student who is persistent in challenge, willing to discredit his own knowledge will find this book to his advantage. It may also be useful to check up on some of Aleister Crowley's works as he was highly influenced by Levi, and his perspective may lighten things up. Specifically Magic Book 4 and Book of Thoth which discuss some of Levi's works.
Examples of the other materials available at www.TheOccult.bz:
Alchemy: Manfred M. Junius - Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy. Frater Albertus - Alchemist's Handbook. Jean Dubuis - Spagyrics
Astrology: Rosicrucian Fellowship - Astrology Course, Donna Cuningham - Selected Topics in Chart Interpretation, Judith Bennett, Evangeline Adams - Astrology Your Place among the Stars
Buddhism: Dalai Lama - The Art of Happiness, Jan Westerhoff - Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka: A Philosophical Investigation, Taigen D. Leighton - Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra, Bernard Faure - The Red Thread
Chaos Magic: Peter Carrol - Cthonos Rite, Phil Hine - Prime Chaos, David Michael Cunningham - Creating Magickal Entities: A Complete Guide to Entity Creation
Entheogens: Timothy Leary - The Delicious Grace Of Moving One's Hand, Mia Touw - The Religious and Medicinal Uses of Cannabis in China, India and Tibet, Terence McKenna - Alien Dreamtime, Philip H. Farber - Magick and Entheogens
Fourth Way: G.I. Gurdjieff - Beelzebubs Tales to His Grandson, P. D. Ouspensky - Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution, Keith Jarrett - Sacred Hymns of G.I. Gurdjieff
Grimoires: Abraham von Worms - The Book Of Abramelin, Andrew Chumbley - One - The Grimoire of the Golden Toad, Various Authors - A Picatrix Miscellany
Golden Dawn: Pat & Chris Zalewski - The Magical Tarot of The Golden Dawn, Pat Zalewski - Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries, Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero - Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition, Israel Regardie - The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic
Hinduism: Swami Vivekananda - Complete Works, John Dowson - A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology, T.S Ranganathan - See, Learn & Perform Sandhyavandanam
Qabalah: Kabballah Denning & Phillips - Entrance to the Magical Qabalah, Lon Milo Duquette- Qabalah for the Rest of Us, William Gray - Ladder of Lights
Lucid Dreams / Astral Projection: Tony Crisp - Lucid Dreaming, S. Laberge - A Course in Lucid Dreaming, Robert Monroe - Techniques for Astral Projection, Robert Bruce - Astral Dynamics
Rosicrucianism: Paul Foster Case - The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order, Frances Yates - The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, Jennings Hargrave - The Rosicrucians
Satanism / Left-Hand Path: Michael A. Aquino - Temple Of Set, ONA - Naos: A Practical Guide to Modern Magick, Fraternitas Loki - Satan is Dead, Anton Szandor LaVey - The Satanic Mass
Tarot: Paul Foster Case - Tarot Fundamentals, Lon Milo DuQuette - Tarot Kabbalah & Oracles, P.D. Ouspensky - The Symbolism of the Tarot
Thelema: Theodor Reuss & Aleister Crowley - OTO Rituals & Magick, James Eschelman - The Mystical & Magical System of the A.'.A.'., The Equinox
Wicca: Rose Ariadne - Mastering The Magick Of Witchcraft, Cassadnra Eason - A Practical Guide to Witchcraft and Magick Spells, Scott Cunningham - Wicca A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Yoga / Tantra: David Gordon White - Kiss of the Yogini, Swami Janakananda - Experience Yoga Nidra, David Coulter - Anatomy of Hatha Yoga