Definitely more useful for the Hermeticist than for the Jewish mystic, although the Hebrew bits are very well done in both an easily readable native fDefinitely more useful for the Hermeticist than for the Jewish mystic, although the Hebrew bits are very well done in both an easily readable native font and multiple transliterations where there is doubt or conflict among sources. The prefatory and supplemental materials are quite good, though I do wish they had gone into more detail on some of the more abstruse topics collected in the encyclopedic entries themselves; e.g., the Tunnels of Set are referenced throughout, but only about one paragraph citing Kenneth Grant as the principle source of that material is given, perhaps because Godwin doesn't find it all that useful himself. It also could use more extensive descriptions on some topics within the entries to obviate the need for cross-referencing to other works, though admittedly that could well push the size of the work up to unmanageable proportions, given its existing heft. All that said, I'm sure I'll be sifting through this as a reference source quite frequently....more
Clearly, for anyone involved in the Western Mystery Traditions, especially magick, hermeticism, modern tarot,I find it difficult to review this book.
Clearly, for anyone involved in the Western Mystery Traditions, especially magick, hermeticism, modern tarot, or Thelema, this is foundational material. Yet Lévi comes off as conflicted between his occult interests and his ambivalent relationship to the Church of Rome. Moreover, Waite's footnotes are as often disparaging as illuminating, and his apparent disdain for the author leads me to wonder why he bothered completing the translation at all. It is high time for a new translation in a modern context less riddled with personal opinions.
Still, there is much to value here, as can be seen from the quotes listed here, at least one of which has greatly aided my own understanding of the practice of the Qabalistic Cross. The book overall improved my knowledge of the roots of ceremonial magick in the modern era.
Nevertheless, it is difficult for me to recommend it outright. So much of it is contradictory, or amounts to little more than a confusing attempt at a faux-medieval grimoire, or misquotes the luminary alchemists and practitioners of prior ages, that it seems to me like one would have to be quite well established on one's own path before this tome could do anything other than muddy the waters.
On a more practical note, the typeset of the 1972 Weiser edition (published under the same ISBN as the later edition pictured) frankly sucks, and the index is just this side of worthless. I suspect that those are the sort of problems that such a well-respected publisher may have rectified in the more recent reprint, but I have not seen it so I cannot say.
So my bottom line is: useful for the intermediate student of the mysteries, possibly essential to the advanced practitioner, and little more than a historical curiosity to anyone else....more
A handy resource for when you're trying to remember the difference between the Docetist and Manichaean heresies, but it's really only a starting pointA handy resource for when you're trying to remember the difference between the Docetist and Manichaean heresies, but it's really only a starting point. The articles, like the book, tend toward brevity except in a few major areas, such as Witchcraft or the Inquisition. Also, this compilation focuses almost exclusively on heresy from the point of view of the Roman Catholic Church prior to the Reformation, with some information given on overlapping topics, such as the Protestant adoption in some areas of the Malleus Maleficarum in the persecution of alleged witches. It nevertheless remains a good basic Who's Who of Gnostic and unorthodox religious thought from the Neoplatonists up to the earliest Protestants and their progenitors, and for that reason I will continue to keep it close by....more