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April 22, 2009 12:36 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend an authoritative beginner's text on occult/mystical Kabbalah. Perhaps with emphasis on the techniques of gemetria and correspondence to non-Jewish mysticism.

After reading lots of RAW, I've decided to study the occult. Not that I think I can summon the angel Gabriel or whatever, but I'm intrigued by the non-rational, allegorical, metaphorical code in which the occult authors write. (In contrast to the strictly rational, unambiguous, literal code by which I make my living.)

Most of the occult authors, however, assume their reader's literacy of Kabbalah. I've bought a translation of the Sefer Yetzirah, as well as, uh, Hebrew for Dummies. But, while I'm finding this fascinating (and stimulating), it doesn't include the associations and symbols added after the fact by non-Jewish mystics. For instance, while I'm lead to believe that there's a supposed correspondence between Hebrew characters and Tarot cards, it goes without saying that the Sefer Yetzirah does not include any mention of Tarot.

I'm specifically not even kinda looking for books about the modern Kabbalah Centre.

So, what book or books can you recommend to jump-start me on my way? Or, do I really just need to go join the ∴∴?
posted by Netzapper to Religion & Philosophy (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My favorite go to is Dion Fortune's The Mystical Qabalah.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 5:23 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Colin Low's Kabbalah pages are a good resource for this kind of thing.
posted by Drastic at 6:18 AM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: OMG, you all but perfectly described The Chicken Qabalah by Lon Milo Duquette. He has a really wonderful way of infusing his writing with humor that is a vast improvement from the inscrutable, dust-dry tomes I run across elsewhere. There are sections in the book specifically dealing with Hebrew, Tarot, the four qabalistic worlds, gematria, magic, etc. etc. They may have it at Barnes and Noble, depending where you live.

Duquette is a bigwig in the OTO and you can look him up on myspace too. I've found that he is receptive to answering questions about his work.
posted by hermitosis at 6:45 AM on April 22, 2009

Best answer: Paths of Wisdom by John Michael Greer is a great book to start off with. It's very easy to read and understand. Covers principles and practices of magical Kabalah with lesson plans. Also purchase the Thoth deck since you enjoy RAW. It's a must. On the deck you'll see correspondences to hebrew, astrological and alchemical symbols. That's a nice way to see patterns and relationships in symbols, because really, it's all about the symbols when it comes to occult matters. It might be a good idea to purchase Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopia too. And if you don't have a copy of Crowley's 777 get one.
Another book would be Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig. Don't knock it because it might have a silly cover, it really covers the material well, and has a great bibliography for you to maybe expand your search.
On preview hermitosis is right about Lon Milo Duquette. Good stuff
posted by alteredcarbon at 7:26 AM on April 22, 2009

For broader context and integration of Kabbalah into a system, Israel Regardie's Golden Dawn is a good bet.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:19 AM on April 22, 2009

Dani Antman's might be a good resource. She is primarily a healer but there are a couple of informative articles on the site.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:43 AM on April 22, 2009

I'll second the recommendations for Dion Fortune and 777. Also:

A Garden of Pomegranates
- Regardie
The Middle Pillar - Regardie
The Tree of Life - Regardie

For background on the evolution of the Kabbalistic angel magic that spawned Western esoteric usage of the Tree of Life, I cannot recommend Dame Frances Yates' Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition highly enough. It, and her other works, are truly in a class by themselves in the realm of magical history.

It wouldn't hurt to familiarize yourself with actual Jewish Kabbalistic mysticism for the sake of historical foundation, as well. For this, Perle Epstein's Kabbalah: Way of the Jewish Mystic is seminal, and Leo Schaya's The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah
taks this to the macrocosmic level.
posted by Roach at 10:31 AM on April 22, 2009

Seconding Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia, which has an extremely insightful introduction.

i used to really be into all of this stuff.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:21 PM on April 22, 2009

Eponysterical attempt ^^^^^?

I laughed.
posted by Roach at 2:51 PM on April 22, 2009

Response by poster: I've bought the books in the answers marked best.

I've also finished reading The Chicken Qabalah. It was exactly what I needed as an overview. I've just started on The Mystical Qabalah... the rest of the books should be showing up soon.

And apparently the Thoth Tarot is out of print right now.
posted by Netzapper at 1:09 AM on April 24, 2009

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