As my time as a 0=0 Neophyte of Lyam Thomas Christopher’s (LTC) “Kabbalah Magic and the Great Work of Self Transformation” draws to a close, I feel like I can share my perspective. The first tip I want to share is the order in which I would recommend reading the required literature. It is as follows:
- The First Knowledge Lecture – Textbook
- Z-1: The Enterer of the Threshold – Textbook
- Z-3: The Symbolism of the Initiation of the Candidate – Textbook
- The Sacred Magic of Ancient Egypt, by Rosemary Clark
- The Mystical Qabalah, by Dion Fortune
- The Tree of Life, by Israel Regardie
The Textbook (Regardie’s “The Golden Dawn” 6th Ed) excerpts are listed first because these will allow you to begin outlining the Neophyte ritual (One of this grade’s written assignments) and committing the first knowledge lecture to memory as soon as possible. The memorisation of the first knowledge lecture was the original ordeal of the Neophyte that would then permit them to the following grade, so although LTC doesn’t list it as a requirement for progression I still think it’s something the Aspirant should seek to acheive. Outlining the Neophyte ritual I think is the most difficult of the tasks given in this grade and so you’ll want a head start. Further, if you were going through the lodge system you’d have already undergone this ritual prior to this battery of work. Not starting this assignment at the beginning of the grade was one of the mistakes I made and is the last thing I have left to complete before I can progress to 1=10 Zelator. I didn’t realise till coming to this assignment how much it would widen my perspective of what the Golden Dawn system really is, and I would have liked to have begun integrating that knowledge sooner.
Following on from the Textbook I recommend reading “The Sacred Magic of Ancient Egypt”. My reasoning here is two-fold. Firstly, this will allow the Aspirant to begin their Compendium of Gods (another of this grade’s written assignments), which is also no small feat. Secondly, Rosemary Clark’s book is by far one of the hardest reads I have ever endured. The structure is so dry and she insists on using the less well known “Egyptian” names of the Egyptian deities as opposed to their Hellenic versions, forcing the reader to constantly translate their existing knowledge. In addition, I did not find the book particularly informative, it focuses strongly on the Egyptian temple and ceremony structure whilst paying little attention to the mythology and allegory of the Egyptian pantheon. Leaving the long arduous liturgies of this book till last may stall an Aspirant’s progress whilst they muster the will to pick this book back up day after day. Instead, placing it earlier in the order will draw upon the natural motivation the Aspirant has from starting a new endeavour, and presents the Aspirant with a light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of the subsequent far more gripping reads.
Next, I would advocate the Aspirant reads “The Mystical Qabalah” (TMQ). Most people who have swum in the pool of western esotericism prior to undertaking this curriculum have heard of this book and it is for good reason, TMQ does a brilliant job presenting the reader with a whistle-stop tour of the Qabalah. This information will help augment the Aspirant’s theoretical and ritual work massively, helping bring a solid foundation to your process. LTC talks in the curriculum about theory work being the skeleton on which ritual builds, continuing this analogy I think this book is the spine of the grade. I would place this book earlier in the list if it weren’t for the fact I think doing so would greatly protract the duration of the Neophyte grade.
I’ve elected to place “The Tree of Life” (TToL) as the last book in this order. Although it is an enjoyable and informative read, Regardie covers alot of occult topics that do not directly pertain to the curriculum. This is great for the nascent Aspirant, providing a broader perspective and helping to fill in some gaps that other esoteric literature may elude to. It makes sense, therefore, to place TToL last, allowing the Aspirant to make speedy* progress and providing a nice rounding off of their foundational occult education.
*it is important to note, I am not advocating that anyone tries to complete any of the grades as fast as possible, instead, I am just trying to preventing any unnecessary obstacles to growth. Everyone should undertake these grades at a pace that allows them to integrate their expereinces fully.
For those of you, who like me, are avid readers or if you simply take your time to go through the Neophyte Grade I would recommend two additional books, on top of the required reading “Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt” (MaSiAE) by R.T. Rundle Clark and “The Chicken Qabalah…” (TCQ) by Lon Milo DuQuette. Now in truth, both of these recommendations are a bit of a cheat in their own respects. MaSiAE is actually a book LTC recommends in lieu of the much more rare and expensive “The Sacred Magic of Ancient Egypt”. Having read both the aforementioned books on Egyptian mythology I do not think it will surprise anyone when I say I much prefer MaSiAE, the structure and style is much easier to follow. Moreover, the content I believe pertains more to the Neophyte ritual and the wider Golden Dawn context, particularly its very large exposition of Osiris’ Passion.
With regards to TCQ, I have to come clean and admit I did not read the book. Instead I listened to the cheesy yet comical audiobook. The audiobook does, however, come with an indispensible PDF containing all the diagrams from the original text. I can wholeheartedly recommend this lighthearted and thoroughly entertaining book. Its humour keeps you engaged, but does not detract from its contents. The book fills in some of the more practical applications of Qabalah omitted by TMQ. Further, it drives home a message, that as a self-initiate I am quite fond of, your Qabalah is your Qabalah. Don’t let the prissy armchair occultist tell you what’s what (who cares? you’re a Chicken Qabalist).
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