Books That Inspired My Path
I have had at least a dozen people ask me recently about my early days of Magick and the books that got me started. There are so many, I am not sure where to start… Here we go.
When I was in my early teens I was shipped off to Israel. I was not exactly the most obedient child and my father thought it might be a good idea to send me off to get myself “together”. It’s a long story and one I will get into in a future post if you are interested in that.
So off I go to Israel.
At first, I took it as a punishment, but it turned out to be the point in my life that defines everything I am today. It was in Israel that my universe opened up to the occult, I discuss some of that in another podcast, so I won’t get into that here. When my stint in Israel was officially over, my occult quest took off. They didn’t have occult shops in Israel at the time, at least not that I knew of.
One of the first things I did when I got back home was to go to the BEST occult bookstore ever, the Magickal Childe, Unfortunately, it is no longer in existence.
This place was an Occultists wet dream. I walked into the place with a bit of trepidation, but once I got a whiff of the dank, stale, but Witchy herb-laden air, I was hooked for life. They had it all, they even had a $500 silver-encased Necronomicon. How cool is that? I couldn’t afford it at the time, so I got the mass market paperback instead.
It was at this wonderful place that I discovered books that transformed me. Here are several that influenced me when I first entered the Occult fold. I may no longer agree with many of them today, I still recommend them to everyone.
Please note, these are the books that started me off, they may not be the same for other occultists. Some may take umbrage that I omit certain texts. This is simply what inspired me and may differ from others. I say this because I see many occultists badmouthing or denigrating other occultists because they don’t read the same books they read. I don’t have time for that ego-driven mania.
Ok on to the list. Let us start with books on Magickal practice first and then onto the more informational books. Most of the covers you will on see on Amazon are updated since many of these books have been updated and revised since I originally purchased them. The titles will be linked to Amazon. Some books I could not find on Amazon so those may not have links.
The first few authors are very well known, I will follow them up with lesser known but equally impactful authors. The list is in no particular order. I won’t be summarizing these books, but rather listing them with some comments. I hope you will research them when you get a chance.
Many know that I am not the biggest fan of Crowley, but I was early on, and I acknowledge that without him, modern occultism would be a shell of what it is today and therefore he is required reading.
The Book of the Law: This book was one of the only books of Crowley’s that I truly resonated with at the time. Its ancient Egyptian themes truly touched me, and it sparked a voracious appetite for all things Ancient Egypt.
777 and other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley: This was a very interesting one, this book comprises many interesting essays and essentially lays the groundwork for the Golden Dawns twist on the Kabbalah. This was a tad over my head when I first bought it, but in time I grew to understand it.
The Lesser Key of Solomon: This was the text that initially introduced me to the Lesser Key and I later ran with it and took it in a different direction. I do recommend it.
S.L. MacGregor Mathers:
The Grimoire of Armadel: This is the English translation of a French occult text. I enjoyed the imagery and the various detailed description of the entities in the book. As short as it is, it is quite comprehensive.
The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage: I was obsessed with this book and its Magical Squares. This book prompted me to study them more.
This book is one of the pillars of modern day occultism, I highly recommend it. There are some complicated chapters, but well worth the read.
Yet another classic book on Ceremonial Magick, I sat with this for a while. What I love about it is that it included many different aspects of Ceremonial Magick. It was in this book that peaked my interest in Cornelius Agrippa.
The Holy Kabbalah: This is quite a hefty book that puts many Kabbalistic teachings together. It has more of a Hermetic and Christian feel to it, thus making it more a book of Kabbalah with a Q and a C. It’s a great book nonetheless.
The Book of Black Magic and Pacts: This is in many ways similar to The Magus by Francis Barrett in the sense that it contains various elements of different ceremonial magical traditions. I have the hardcover from 1940. It is one of my prized posessions.
E.A. Wallis Budge:
Egyptian Magic: As the name implies, it is about Egyptian Magick. The book Is VERY dry, but it has some good information in which to adapt.
Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead: This is a must-have if you are interested in Ancient Egypt historically as well as Magickally.
Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm better known as The Picatrix: This is quite a long book, but well worth the reading. It is a book that deals extensively with astrological magic.
Complete Book of Witchcraft: This is a classic book on Witchcraft which influenced some of my early practice.
Pretty much all her books, the first one I read was “Secret of Magical Seals: A Modern Grimoire of Amulets, Charms, Symbols and Talismans.” This book exposed me to various Talismans of the Sage of the Pyramids which I do adore and one day will write about.
Magickal Formulary Spellbook 1: This book was written by the founder of the Magickal Childe, I had the opportunity to talk to him about his work in general. This book contains various spells. I never used it, but it did introduce me to the formulary aspects of Magick.
Daemonic Magick (No link): Seleneicthon is a lesser known author. I recall seeing this book on the bookshelf of the Magickal Childe and it screamed out to me. It is more of a pamphlet really, but it is very good. This book is where I was exposed to the notion of offering an egg to entities. It changed my practice completely. I have since adapted the egg offerings in most of my work.
Now on to Informational books:
Manly P. Hall:
The Secret Teachings of all Ages: This is a HUGE book, but very much worth the read. It took me forever and a day to finish it, but I learned so much. The wisdom contained in this book still inspires me to this day. If you want a good foundation in Hermetic knowledge and more, this is the book to read.
The Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece: The title says it all, this book puts together various Hermetic ideas and makes them more cohesive.
Hermes Thrice Great:
The Divine Pymander: This is in many ways the bible of Hermetica. It was spiritually ahead of its time and has informed a large portion of occult practice throughout the years. This book is a good starting point when studying Hermetica.
Isis Unveiled: Say what you will about Madam Blavatsky and her ilk, you’ve got to admit, her work is quite impressive. In this two-volume work, she goes into great detail on religions and how they changed from their earlier forms. It is a quintessential book on the Theosophical school of thought.
The Secret Doctrine: This is in many ways an expansion of Isis Unveiled with many other interesting ideas. This is where some of her rather controversial views are itemized on race and the like.
A Dictionary of Angels: This book has come in very handy, my copy is in tatters. It is by far my favorite dictionary of Angels, I still use it to this day. Don’t let the title deceive you, this book covers A LOT more than angels.
Sri Aurobindo is one of the deepest teachers that I have come across. His work is complex. His goal in all his work is to unite spirit and matter in an individual.
Autobiography of a Yogi: This is a classic in spiritual literature. I can’t say that it was always easy going, but it was a wonderful introduction to his work and it truly gives you an idea of who he was as a person and the mystical powers he developed from his many years of practice.
God Talks to Arjuna – The Bhagavad Gita: Yogananda’s translation and commentary on the Gita is by far the best I have read. I know many prefer Eknath Easwaran’s commentary, but I found Yogananda’s to be deeper and more practical in my opinion.
The Power of Myth: This Television series and book truly opened my eyes to mythology and its deeper meaning. He also introduced me to Carl Jung. His work deepened and, in many ways, changed how I approach certain elements in my practice.
Man and his Symbols: This book is a very accessible work that deals with archetypal images in dreams and other interesting aspects of the subconscious mind. This book has wide-ranging influence on the occult even if many do not know it directly.
Memories, Dreams, Reflections: This is Carl Jung’s autobiography, I truly enjoyed this. Not only does it give you glimpse into his own mind, but also gives you a nice timeline as to how his theories developed over time.
Ken Wilber: Ken Wilber has a tremendous influence on my ideas about psychology and spirituality in general. I highly recommend the following books. When I first bought these, they were way over my head, but within 3 or 4 years, I was at a point that I could start integrating them into my general world view.
The Spectrum of Consciousness: My all-time favorite of his. In this book, Wilber attempts to integrate the often-disparate ideas of western religion, science and psychology with that of the East. It’s a great read and still informs my ideas to this day.
No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth: This is an interesting and detailed guide on the diverse types of psychological systems and therapies that are available in the eastern and western traditions. He does a good job at bridging some of these differences.
The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development: This book is very speculative in its approach. It offers an interesting view of human development from a transpersonal perspective. He uses Buddha and Jesus as prime examples of how this has and may unfold.
A Sociable God: Towards a New Understanding of Religion: Ken attempts to bring an integral dimension to sociology. Much of it uses the theories he proposed in the Spectrum of consciousness.
As you can see, I am a huge fan of Ken Wilber.
Rabbi Isaac Luria:
Although he himself did not write much on the Kabbalah, his teachings were put to paper by his student Rabbi Chayim Vital. The most important work and complicated as hell is Etz haChayim or the Tree of Life. It’s essentially his entire Kabbalistic teaching in one text.
The Ben Ish Chai: He was the leader of the Jewish Baghdad community in the mid 1800’s. He was known for his great miracles and understanding of the Kabbalah. The book that made an impact on me was his book on the Halachot or jewish laws which is a book on Jewish law but with a Kabbalistic bent. It was very interesting.
Rabbi Yaakov Culi
Me’Am Loez: The Me’am Loez is a comprehensive commentary on the Old Testament, some of the best I have ever read. I still read from it often. In fact, two months ago I purchased several volumes to complete the set. I did not read them all, of course, but they were and are instrumental in my studies of the Old Testament.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov:
He was one of the foundational Rabbis for me. His teachings showed a wonderful progressiveness for his day. You can find an english rendition of his great work, LIKUTEY MOHARAN.
Alright, there you have it, there are a few more I can think of, but these were truly the ones that lit my path.
I hope you enjoyed this podcast. I do hope you look into some of these books if you haven’t already, they can add tremendously to your knowledge.
Speak to you soon.
So Mote it be,