Occult Literature

You are not supposed to read these books. That would too much like hard work. But it is vital to give the impression that you have read them. It is enough to know just the name and the briefest description of the contents to carry it off. For example saying "War and Peace is about Russia" shows about the right level of competence.

Should you feel rash enough to attempt to tackle any on the list there is a particular way to read occult literature which you would be better to know.

For a start never read the first five chapters. There are two theories why these chapters are always totally unreadable. One says that this is a form of protection to ward off the profane or casually interested, who will give up after reading four chapters of unintelligible nonsense.

The other one says that the writers cannot normally keep up the obscurity level and let some facts slip through by accident. You are therefore pretty safe to quote something from chapters three or four of any of the following books since even if the first five chapters have been read, they will not have been understood.

The Book Of The Dead

A collection of Egyptian invocations and spells which were used to do the most unlikely things. It was written between 1500 B.C. and 250 B.C. which just shows that the Egyptians were very slow writers. It was created at the time when eternal life was being democratised - i.e. it was no longer just the Pharoah who got heaven. The pharoahs immediately started looking for somewhere better to go. This gave the Egyptian-in-the-street a few problems he hadn't had to face before he got a chance at eternal after-life. For instance he suddenly became very interested in spells to stop Crocodiles eating him in the Underworld.

Possibly the best sounding spell is the one 'to become Ptah, eat bread, drink beer, purify the hinderparts and live in Heliopolis'.

The Golden Asse OfApuleius

Often mentioned as an early classic of magical literature and a definitive study of shape-shifting. A rather banal fairy story about a witch changing a man into an ass. Not as interesting as Little Red Riding Hood and just about as informative.

It really seems to have gained popularity when its name was changed from 'The XI Bookes of the Golden Asse Conteininge the Metamorphosie ofLucius Apuleius, enterlaced With sondriepleasaunt and delectable Tales'. So you see dyslexia was a real problem even in 1566.

Originally written in Latin and translated into English by Adlington although it is difficult to tell which is which at times, it was much admired by Crowley, presumably because he thought he was the only person with a copy.

The KeyOfSolomon

This is the grimoire that is always being used by powerful Black Magicians in popular occult fiction. About the most interesting thing they could do from this is to exorcise a bat (after which you sacrifice it and collect its blood).

Most people presume that there is only one pentacle - i.e. the Pentacle or Seal of Solomon. In fact there are dozens of pentacles and The Key lists them in monotonous detail, along with what they do, and the names of the angels or spirits connected with them. Ideal bed-time reading.

The Key's method of making sure that you cannot complete any exercise properly is to insist that you do everything on a day ruled by a certain planet and at an hour ruled by another planet. For example if you want to make Magic Garters you must kill a hare on the 25th of January. The 24th or 26th would be no good at all.

Magic garters, by the way, allow you to travel in any

Piven direction at great speed - a sort of magical orsche. If it wasn't for the problems of getting the dates right they would probably be compulsory fashion wear already.

Actions With The Spirits (Dr John Dee)

This book is interesting because it's big and bound in leather. It is not what you would call a blockbuster exactly. First published in 1659 it was reprinted in a limited edition in 1974 (due only to sustained public demand). Levi borrowed from it extensively when evolving his Ritual Magic and naturally Crowley devoted a few years to it, and sorted it all out once and for all (at least as far as he was concerned). It is impossible to read due to the fact that Dr Dee seemed to be confused between the letters 'S' and 'F', but it does look impressive.

Malleus Mallificorum (The Hammer of the Witches)

A handbook for witch trials and a real bestseller. It was first published in 1486, just when Torquemada was winding up to the Inquisition and every printing thereafter seemed to coincide with an outbreak of witchcraft and the resulting spate of witch trials. It was favourite reading for King James I who would read it by the light ofa burning witch.

It was knocked up by comedy duo Kramer and Sprenger, two jovial Dominican monks, and starts off in a pretty uncompromising way by pointing out that to suggest that there are no such things as witches manifestly savours ofheresy.

It is packed with interesting details like Whether witches may work someprestidigitary illusion so that the male organ appears to be entirely removed and separate from the body' and handy practical hints like 'Remedies prescribed for those who by prestidigitary art have lost their virile member or have seemingly been transformed into the shapes ofbeasts.'

A must for all serious witch finders.

Qabalism

Virtually everyone has written a book on Qabalism so it is pretty safe just to say "Have you read Levi/ Crowley/Waite/Blavatsky/Barbara Cartland (delete as necessary) on Qabalism?" with the utmost confidence. But don't ever write this down as they all spelt the word differently.

Of course despite the fact that they all say they are writing on the same subject you wouldn't guess it to read the books, so don't get into too much detail.

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