Book Review: Enochian Magic in Theory – Dean F. Wilson

I do not generally discuss Enochian matters in public. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, one is apt to find one self in the midst of heated discussions between intelligent, young male  magicians centred on the minutiae of a how a particular letter should be vocalised. In his excellent and very readable book Mr Wilson addresses this matter head on with his advice that within obvious limits,

…pronunciation appears to be less important than it would at first appear, with magicians getting results regardless of how they pronounce the words”. (93)

The second reason I tend to shun public Enochian discussions is also directly addressed by Mr Wilson:

The truth about Enochian magic is that you do not have to put quite the same effort into getting results as you do with, for example, the Qabalah or Goetia. Even those who just read one of the Calls or listen to a recording of it frequently report unusual occurrences soon afterwards.

As a young naive Pagan teenager I discovered this for myself. Returning home with a rare copy of the out of print Golden Dawn by Regardie, I sat down at my desk and idly opened the book, my eyes falling on the strange Enochian in the middle of the Portal ceremony. Fascinated, I simply mouthed the words, hardly audible at all. The effect was weird, energetic but not dramatic.

Later that night however, as I began my Pagan circle in the middle of my room there was a strange scratching noise in the wall my desk lent against. As I turned the scratching intensified and moved up the wall, across the ceiling directly towards me. As it got above me I the sounds increased and the ceiling bowed as something seemed to be trying to claw its way to me. Fortunately, I had a modicum of sense and had already learnt the LRP so started frantically performing banishing pentagrams at the source of the noise, which soon subsided. Afterwards I was shocked and sweaty with an appreciation and awe of Enochian. However, as Mr Wilson continues:

…the results one gets when the energy is not properly channelled are entirely chaotic. Results does not always mean good results. Energy bouncing off the walls of one’s temple does not mean success in terms of achieving a desirable outcome.

This last piece of advice, I feel is crucial and is subtly re-empathised by Mr Wilson throughout the book, and I am sure will be expanded upon in the upcoming Enochian Magic in Practice. This very sensible approach is continued when Mr Wilson, calmly and patiently with logic, care and precision addresses the common concerns that Enochian magic is dangerous. He writes:

After working with Enochian for many years I came to the same conclusion as many others that there are definite dangers with using the system. However, these dangers are usually dependent on how a person approaches the system, as most of the horror stories surrounding Enochian revolve around someone taking on too much and trying to rush through the system. If the proper protocols are followed, with plenty of rest between workings, then there should be no significant risks. (37)

The first sentence of this paragraph shows one of the great strengths of this book: the author is within it. Throughout the work the aura of Mr Wilson, not just his intellectual opinions, but his magical presence, is very strong. It is a personal book, created from years of experience, experimentation, thought and above all spiritual practice. This book is not the fruit of intellectual and mental gymnastics but of careful exploration, humble dedication and receptivity to the purpose and spiritual lessons of the Enochian Angels.

Another great strength of the book is that the author consistently presents the various sides of an argument or discussion point, always with sympathy, before giving his own views and explaining why he holds them. When he presents material derived from his communion with the Angels, he says so. And, joy of joys, when he does not know something, or has limited experience, he also says so. What a wonderful thing to find in an occult book. 🙂

Sigillum Dei Aemeth

Somehow in 378 pages Mr Wilson does give an exceptional overview of this almost endless spiritual tradition. Naturally, I do not agree with Mr Wilson 100 per cent of the time but in matters Enochian that is normal, and I suspect the way it is meant to be. If modern magic is exegetical, as I affirm, Enochian magic is doubly so. The Angels commune with us personally to create a new variant, a new rendition of their eternal song. They certainly do so with Mr Wilson.

The book opens with a review of the lives of Dee and Kelley. This is very well handled, as it would be tempting to present a quick word portrait or to get lost in a biographical maze concerning these two extraordinary fellows. Mr Wilson steers us between these two extremes and the only fault I can find is his description of Dee and Kelley as a Deists. English Deism did not develop until after Dee’s death, and Deism specifically denies the intervention or influence of a deity upon creation through lesser beings such as Angels. Dee and Kelly were certainly un-orthodox, and perhaps heterodox Christians, but their piety precludes them being Deists.

Mr Wilson then gives a wonderful overview of the system, its origins and expansion, addressing concerns and criticisms in his patient, careful and personalised way. It is obvious Wilson loves this tradition but is not above accepting criticisms and concerns when they are warranted. While addressing the fears that the Enochian angels are actually demons in disguise, Mr Wilson sagely comments:

I am of the firm belief, from personal experience and in-depth study of both the source and secondary texts, that they are indeed angelic beings, though, at times, some demons may be are “nicer” and easier to work with. (59).

The same methodical, open and careful approach is used when Mr Wilson examines the Enochian language and then the various aspects of the system. Each aspect is covered in depth with appropriate linking to other chapters. This is the bulk of the book and there is a lot here, which for the beginner could be overwhelming. However, the way Mr Wilson carefully and with precision explains the system is perfect. If one does not read ahead before they are ready, even the most inexperienced reader will gain a solid appreciation of the entire Enochian tradition before finishing the book. The book is therefore very useful for anyone wanting to learn about the Enochian system but not necessarily practice it.

Throughout the book Mr Wilson presents the various different approaches to the system, that of the Golden Dawn, the original Dee approach and others. This is another great strength of the book and will ensure its appeal to a wide range of practitioners. I am very, very grateful for this approach, as being taught and practicing a GD based for most aspects of the tradition, I was able to compare and learn a lot from the book. 🙂

Mr Wilson’s discussion on the use of the various tools is a great feature of the book. It is sensible, real and based on personal experience.

Personally I would recommend that a magician working with Enochian employ this ring. While the system will still work without it, every safeguard helps in producing the best results and avoiding any unnecessary complications relating to intruding entities or an over-abundance of Enochian energy. (110)

Mr Wilson’s personal insights are peppered throughout the book, making it not only an enjoyable read, but since he obviously is a magician of some standing, a wonderful store of insights and hints for our own work and practice. Discussing the Sons and Daughters of Light, he writes:

The fact that Stimcul is used twice means that it is the name of both a Daughter of Light and a Son of Light. This might mean that Stimcul is androgynous and could provide some insights into the mysteries of the union of the feminine and masculine. (129)

Writing about the reverse of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, Mr Wilson gives us his wisdom and writes:

The fact that this side of the Seal is so simple in comparison to the front suggest that it plays little role in the actual work itself. My own personal work has suggested that it is entirely designed to ground the energy, with the four sections relating to the four directions, elements and other correspondences that we find in Agrippa. (132)

The diagrams throughout the book are excellent. They clearly show the various tablets, letters, sigils, lamens, directions of reading and other essentials of the tradition. The drawing of them must have taken a lot of time and precision and they really make the book sing with delight and potency. They are some of the best Enochian diagrams I have seen and even the experienced Enochian magician of many years would be well served purchasing the book for them alone.

The inclusion of an Appendix on Enochian Gematria which details Mr Wilson’s  Enochian Order’s attributions is a great bonus to the book. This is followed by his own personal Enochian Dictionary in Appendix II, detailing the numerical value as well as the meaning of the words. A nice touch 🙂

Overall the book is an excellent new resource on one of the most intriguing and mysterious of magical traditions. I wish it (and its upcoming partner, Enochian Magic in Practice) had been around years ago; I would have been saved a lot of work and pain. For anyone interested in Enochian matters, the Golden Dawn or western magical in general, I recommend this book as an essential guide. In its pages you will find much to reward, intrigue, inform and delight you. It will not provide all the answers to all the questions, but for most it does and for the rest points us in the right direction. As Mr Wilson says, “it almost would not be Enochian magic” if mysteries were not pervasive throughout the system.

Enochian Magic in TheoryDean F. Wilson, Kerubim Press, 2012

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The Golden Dawn and the Gods

ctBeing fairly open about my magical and esoteric beliefs I occasionally attract criticism and disapproval. These come from two main sources; religious fundamentalists and secular atheists. The former believe I am practicing something evil and the latter something stupid, often characterizing the magical as a pre -modern medieval belief system. Now, I find this particular accusation very cute as contemporary magic with its emphasis on individualism, plurality and diversity is the epitome of modernity. This very evident in its view of the divine and the Gods, as seen in the following quotations:

Both Osiris and Christ are used in Golden Dawn ritual, but in different places and in different ways. Neither one is an object of worship…rather, Christ and Osiris both represent a pattern of forces – in the Order’s terminology, a formula – which is used to structure consciousness in various ritual contexts.’ ~ John Michael Greer,  ‘Osiris and Christ’, The Golden Dawn Journal Book IV.

Whatever one has to say about Christ, all will agree that His Name evokes a powerful current or force that fills us with the receptive principle, something akin to the Yin of Chinese metaphysics. This principle of receptivity is one that is needed, for when we invoke it, we pave the way for other forces, fused together, to enter our sphere of sensation. The Christ-like energy will then pacify and control it, so that it conforms to our will and can be directed for many different uses. ~ Pat Zalewski, The Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn.

And then there’s this reply to a post by Golden Dawn magician Nick Farrell who was “looking for an angel with which to do some material wealth magic”:

What happens is that archetypal angels are taken for living beings instead of the mechanical structures they actually are… ~ Kate.

These ideas – and they are not simply theories as we are talking about magicians performing rituals based on these principles – would not be possible in a pre-modern mind. And if uttered in medieval Europe could well have seen the authors becoming intimate with various ingenious tortures dreamt up by pious Dominicans and others. While in no way extolling pre-modernism, I find myself uncomfortable with the cavalier attitude towards angels, Gods and the divine taken by many modern magicians. This is not to disparage the authors above who are lovely people who have done a lot for the broader GD community. It is just that I think certain attitudes stem more from individualism and the modern vanity of encompassing knowledge than is helpful or healthy. Of course my training was by very traditional Christian magicians and so I see things a little differently.

angelThere is a core belief, shared by most Golden Dawn folk, in an underlying divinity within the universe which is given expression and manifestation through the world’s various religious and spiritual systems. All religions are seen as valid and as methods to connect with this divinity, however it may be expressed: as Jesus, Buddha, the Great Goddess or simply the divine within. This belief stems from its popularisation by the Theosophical Society and was incorporated into the Golden Dawn, where repeated mentions of ‘God’ and ‘The Lord of the Universe’ in the texts were clearly viewed as poetic expressions, not as an indication of Christian monotheism. Throughout the GD ceremonies and rituals a great many non-Christian deities were invoked, but not worshipped. Similarly Christ, or His essence, was often invoked but not worshipped per se. This view was summed up in the order’s ‘Fourth Knowledge Lecture’:

In true religion there is no sect. Therefore take heed that thou blaspheme not the name by which another knoweth his God. For if thou doest this thing in Jupiter thou will blaspheme YHVH (Jehovah): and in Osiris, YEHESUAH (Jesus).

Modern magicians, including those outside of the GD tradition, do not see this is not an attitude of simple religious tolerance and ecumenicalism, but rather a profound realisation of the mystic truth behind various religious forms.

This approach to the traditional deities of the various living and ancient religions is undoubtedly seen as blasphemous by some. However, modern magicians in their quest for the underlying spiritual unity beyond all form, would argue they are engaged in an act every bit as sacred and valuable as Christian communion or Islamic pilgrimage. Thus many modern magicians have a tendency to utilise, and often conflate, different religious and spiritual iconography. Now while this irks me like fingers down a blackboard it is not a situation unique to the Golden Dawn and is a core characteristic of the loose ‘new age’ movement.

gendergoddessWhat is often not discussed however are the problems inherent in such a world view and outlook. At its worst the divine and the Gods are psychologized, becoming complexes, forces or archetypes. Once this occurs the transcendent aspect of the divine is lost or marginalised. And once we have reduced the Gods to interior psychological states or aspects of the collective unconscious, the individual human being becomes the highest authority.We then end up with such monstrosities of misinformation and disrespect as the once popular “Goddesses in Every Woman” and weekend workshops to discover our various Inner Goddesses of pleasure and sex.  If the Gods are within me, then by definition ‘I’ am greater than them.

For this reason transcendence is essential within the Golden Dawn and all magic, though it seems many people and many Orders are throwing it out the window. If we cannot see something larger and more divine than our selves, even our interior selves, then we risk ending up with subtle ego inflation and distortion. This may seem alarmist but it is the traditional point of view which we can accept or ignore as we choose.

As I type I hear people around me at work, some whom I know reasonably well, others only partially so. Could I reduce or express any of these people as a formula? Could I express the courier who came this morning and I saw for 30 seconds as a formula? Of course not. The best I could do would be reproduce a stereotype which expresses nothing new, nothing alive and vital, nothing real. Could I reduce or express you as a formula? I think not. So, if we cannot express humans with our rich tapestry of love and pain, longing and subtleties as a formula, how can we ever express a God like this?. Can Osiris, a god with countless aspects, titles and epithets be expressed in such a way? Can Christ? At best we can reduce their transcendence and immanence to a narrow beam from the limitless light they give to us. Within magical practice this is useful in certain limited contexts, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in a single aspect of their blessings. As a theory or worldview it robs us of the ineffable majesty and glory the Gods freely offer us.

The utilitarian approach to Gods, where we Golden Dawn folk ‘use’ them as formulas by which we do magic is therefore a risky sport. It encourages us to see the gods in very flat, one dimensional terms, barely getting to know them at all. Most of us know our work colleagues better than, for example, Axiokersa from the Practicus Grade, yet we call upon his blessings and power to help initiate someone, to change and transform their lives. Would we invite a human acquaintance we hardly know to enter our temple and do that? What would our initiates think if they discovered someone we hardly knew was invited to help initiate them?

jesus-smallPat’s assertion that all of us agree that Christ’s name fills us with the passive, receptive force is unfortunately not true. Try telling this to my Quaker friends who literally put their body on the line in political activism through the inspiration of Christ. My point is not that Pat is ‘wrong’ but only that the modern magical viewpoint tends to limit our views and relationships with the Gods and the divine. Christ of course inspires both passivity, action and much more besides. Note how Pat goes on to describe how useful the Christ energy is in helping us to get the synthesis of invoked energies to conform to our will. This of course is the Holy Grail of modern magic; conformity to our will. A religious approach would be seeking our conformity to Christ’s will. Using Christ in this manner within esoteric traditions stemming from and using Christian esotericism is fraught with difficulty that most Golden Dawn people and Orders seldom examine. We cannot easily cut of from the egregore of traditional rituals, symbols and practices that were created by and for Christians.

My traditional training specifically included the injunction to form a relationship with every God, symbol, Name, letter we used in ritual or magic. This requires, like any relationship, time, effort, openness, intimacy and work. We were instructed never to simply use any being or any symbol without first forming this relationship. So we did not pick up books and find an Angel or being corresponding to our willed intention and construct a ritual to avail ourselves of its blessing. We first approached, related with and finally worked in alliance with the being under the presidency of the One to bring about the required intention. The difference is quite marked and stems from the view of the Gods and other beings mentioned and the start of this post. If we view, as Kate does, Angels as mechanical structures then we can use them for our ends. We can simply discover them one day and use them in a ritual that evening, just like any mechanism. If however we view these beings as alive, independent of humanity with minds and purposes beyond what we know, then we cannot. We need to relate with them, work with them, share and grow with them. My experiences and the presence of these beings in my life leads me to the latter view.

The Angelic Art by Alex Sanders or ‘the Occult Secrets of the Moon’.

I have finally got around to digging out some more material from the Simon Goodman collection of Witchcraft and related material which is held at Murdoch University in Perth.

When I first started cataloguing this collection all those years ago I noted a number of items with labels like “For Bone Fide Scholars Only” or “Not for Distribution”. Naturally enough I copied those items first, guessing I was in for some esoteric treat or other.

Sadly, there is nothing new under the sun – my own youthful naivety was as common as most of the material I found. However, there were some interesting bits and pieces, some of which I have already posted. And here’s another – ‘the Angelics’ by Alex Sanders

There was, and perhaps still is, a great deal of interest in these pages now let loose in unsuspecting cyberspace. I’ve known Wiccan High Priests who would give – well, if  not their own goolies, certainly somebody else’s for a copy. Writing on ‘the Angelics’, Simon says that after Alex Sanders’ death he asked his widow, Maxine what material could be made generally available and Maxine “specifically excluded” these teachings.

The big mystery for me is why – to my mind they are an incomplete example of standard astrological magic from the Renaissance onwards. Of interest though is the inclusion of Uranus (discovered late 18th century if me noggin serves me well) and not the other transpersonal planets (whoops, really planet singular now that poor Pluto has been downgraded). This could show an early 19th century provenance for the system. Or it could be the result of Alex himself, who was known to spend the odd evening getting pissed in a pub with a mate and a dictionary of Medieval English making up ancient laws and rituals that sounded great. Since these notes are a summary by Simon and Joanne Williams textual analysis, alas, is pointless.

Anyway, if you are a Wiccan and into these things – why not go study some proper Angelic magic? But if you’re a Wiccan interested in history or believe these Wiccan adaptations of tradition have power, beauty, truth or something I’m missing, then enjoy. In any case it’s now out of the library and into the net. 🙂