The Tree of Life: A Study in Magic [NOOK Book]


The most comprehensive introduction available to the Golden Dawn system of initiation. An ideal introduction to the numerous complex and obscure mystical writings of Aleister Crowley. Includes practical exercises for developing the will and theimagination.

The comprehensive introduction available to the Golden Dawn system of initiation.

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The Tree of Life: A Study in Magic

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The most comprehensive introduction available to the Golden Dawn system of initiation. An ideal introduction to the numerous complex and obscure mystical writings of Aleister Crowley. Includes practical exercises for developing the will and theimagination.

The comprehensive introduction available to the Golden Dawn system of initiation.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609254056
  • Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
  • Publication date: 1/15/1972
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 638,744
  • File size: 3 MB

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The Tree of Life

A Study in Magic

By Israel Regardie

Samuel Weiser, Inc.

Copyright © 1969 Israel Regardie
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60925-405-6


A common expression on the lips of many is the reiteration that mankind today with all its ills and aberrations, flounders blindly in a terrible morass. Death-dealing and with octopus-like tentacles of destruction, this morass clutches him more and more firmly to its breast, albeit with great subtlety and with stealth. Civilization, curiously enough, modern civilization, is its name. The tentacles which are the unwitting instruments of its catastrophic blows reach out from the diseased structure, false and loathsome, of the decaying social system and the set of values wherein we are involved. And now, the entire fabric of the social world appears in process of disintegration. The structure of national organization would appear to be veering from economic ruin to that final crazy lurch which may see it disappear over the gaping precipice to complete destruction. Rooted firmly in the fullness of the individual life, the hitherto stout bulwarks of our life are threatened as never have they been before. More and more impossible does it seem with the setting of each sun for anyone to retain even the slightest portion of his divine heritage, individuality, and to exert that which makes him man. Despite being born in our age and time, those few individuals who are aware with a certainty in which there is no doubt of a destiny propelling them imperiously forward to the fulfilment of their ideal natures, constitute perhaps the sole exceptions. These, the minority, are the born Mystics, the Artists and Poets, those who see beyond the veil and bring back the light of beyond. Included within the mass, however, is yet another minority who, while not fully conscious of an all-compelling destiny, nor the nature of its deeper self, aspires to be different from the complacent masses. With an inner anxiety it is restless to obtain an abiding spiritual integrity. It is mercilessly ground underfoot by the social system of which it is a part, and harshly ostracized by the mass of its fellows. The verities and possibilities of a reintegrating contact with reality, one which can be instigated here and now, during life and not necessarily upon the death of the body, are blindly ignored. The attitude, singularly unwise, adopted by the greater part of modern "intelligent" European humanity towards this aspiration constitutes a grave danger to the race. It has permitted itsel only too eagerly to forget that upon which it actually depends, and from which it is constantly nourished and sustained in both its inward and outward life. Avidly seizing upon the fluctuating evanescence of the hasty exterior existence, its negligence of affairs spiritual, as well as its impatience with the more farseeing of its fellows, is a mark of extreme race-weariness and nostalgia.

It is a well-worn saying but one none the less true and none the less worthy of repetition, inasmuch as it expresses peculiarly the situation now widely prevalent, that "where there is no vision the people perish." Mankind as a whole, or more particularly the Western element, has lost in some incomprehensible way its spiritual vision. An heretical barrier has been erected separating itself from that current of life and vitality which even now, despite wilful impediment and obstacle, pulses and vibrates passionately in the blood, pervading the whole of universal form and structure. The anomalies presented today are due to this rank absurdity. Mankind s slowly accomplishing its own suicide. A self-strangulation is being effected through a suppression of all individuality, in the spiritual sense, and all that made it human. It continues to withhold the spiritual atmosphere from its lungs, so to speak. And having severed itself from the eternal and never-ceasing sources of light and life and inspiration, it has deliberately blinded itself to the fact—than which no other could compare in importance—that there is a dynamic principle both within and without from which it has accomplished a divorce. The result is inner lethargy, chaos, and the disintegration of all that formerly was held to be ideal and sacred.

Laid down centuries ago, the doctrine taught by the Buddha commends itself to me as providing a possible reason for this divorce, chaos and decay. To the majority of people existence is inevitably bound up with suffering and sorrow and pain. Now although Buddha did teach that life was fraught with pain and misery, I am inclined to believe, when remembering the psychology of Mysticism and of Mystics, whose peer he undoubtedly was, that this viewpoint was adopted by him only to spur men forward from chaos to the attainment of a superior mode of life. Once the viewpoint of the personal ego, the outcome of ages of evolution, has been transcended man may see the iron fetters of ignorance roll away to reveal an untrammelled vision of supreme beauty, the world as a living thing and a joy for ever and ever. Is there not for all to see the beauty of the Sun and the Moon, the pageantry of the changing seasons in the year, the sweet music of daybreak, and the spell of nights under the open sky? What of the rain falling through the leaves of trees towering to the gates of heaven, and the dew in early morning creeping over the grass, tipping it with spear-points of silver? Most readers will have heard of the experience of the great German Mystic, Jacob Boehme, who, after his divine beatific vision, walked into the green fields close to his village, beholding the whole of Nature ablaze with so glorious a light that even the tender blades of grass were resplendent with a divine loveliness and beauty that never had he seen before. Great Mystic that the Buddha was—beyond perhaps any other within the knowledge of the average reader—and great his insight into the working of the human mind, it is impossible to accept on its face value his pronouncement that life and living are a curse. Rather do I feel that this philosophic attitude was adopted by him in the hope that once again might mankind be induced to seek the inimitable wisdom which it had lost, to restore the inner equilibrium and the harmony of soul, thus fulfilling its destiny unrestricted by sense and mind. Preventing this ecstatic enjoyment of life and all that the sacrament of life can give, there is one root cause of sorrow. In a word, ignorance. Because he is ignorant of what he really is in himself, ignorant of his true way in life, man is, as the Buddha taught, so beset with sorrow and so sorely afflicted with distress.

According to the traditional philosophy of the Magicians, every man is a unique autonomous centre of individual consciousness, energy and will—a soul, in a word. Like a star shining and existing by its own inward light it pursues its way in the star-spangled heavens, solitary, uninterfered with, except in so far as its heavenly course is gravitationally modified by the presence, near or far, of other stars. Since in the vast stellar spaces seldom are there conflicts between the celestial bodies, unless one happens to stray from its appointed course—a very rare occurrence—so in the realms of humankind there would be no chaos, little conflict and no mutual disturbance were each individual content to be grounded in the reality of his own high consciousness, aware of his ideal nature and his true purpose in life, and eager to pursue the road which he must follow. Because men have strayed from the dynamic sources inhering within themselves and the universe, and have forsaken their true spiritual wills, because they have divorced themselves from the celestial essences, betrayed by a mess of more sickly pottage than ever Jacob did sell to Esau, the world in this day presents a people with so hopeless an aspect, and a humanity impressed with so despondent a mien. Ignorance of the course of the celestial orbit, and the significance of that orbit inscribed in the skies for ever, is the root which is at the bottom of universal dissatisfaction, unhappiness and race-nostalgia. And because of this the living soul cries for help to the dead, and the creature to a silent God. Of all this crying there comes usually—nothing. The lifting up of the hands in supplication brings no inkling of salvation. The frantic gnashing of teeth results but in mute despair and loss of vital energy. Redemption is only from within and is wrought out by the soul itself with suffering and through time, with much endeavour and strain of the spirit.

How, then, may we return to this ecstatic identity with our deeper selves? In what way may this necessary union be accomplished between the individual soul and the Essences of universal reality? Where is the road which leads eventually to the improvement and betterment of the individual and consequently to the solution of the perplexing problems in the world of men?

* * *

The appearance of genius, regardless of the several aspects and fields of its manifestation, is marked by the occurrence of a curious phenomenon whose accompaniment is most always vision and ecstasy supreme. This experience to which I have reference is indubitably the hall-mark and essential stigmata of genuine accomplishment. Not to mediocrity is this apocalyptic experience vouchsafed. To the commonplace person, burdened as he is with dogma and an outworn tradition, there seldom comes that flash of spiritual light making descent in splendid tongues of flame like the Pentecostal Holy Ghost, radiant with joy and the highest wisdom, pregnant with spontaneous inspiration. The sophisticated, the blasé, the dilettanti—these are debarred by insuperable barriers from the merits of its benediction. To those having talent alone this revelation does not come, although talent may be the stepping stone to genius. Genius is not, nor has it ever been in years gone by, the result of merely infinite care and patience. But little importance I think need be attached to the oft-iterated definition concerning a certain very high percentage of perspiration plus a very small remainder of inspiration. No matter how great the value of perspiration, it cannot produce the magnificent effects of genius. In every field of endeavour in daily life, on every side do we see performed a vast amount of excellent work, indispensable for what it is, and the shedding literally of quarts of perspiration without in fact the evocation of a fractional part of a creative idea or exaltation. These outward expressions in genius—care, patience, perspiration —are simply the manifestations of a superabundance of energy proceeding from a hidden centre of consciousness. They are but the media by which the genius distinguishes itself, striving to make known those ideas and thoughts which have been hurtled into the consciousness and penetrated that border-line which successfully marks off and divides the profane from that which is divine. Genius in itself is caused by or proceeds concomitantly with a spiritual experience of the highest intuitional order. It is an experience which, thundering from the empyrean like a fiery bolt from Jove's seat, carries with it an instantaneous inspiration and an enduring uprightness, with a fulfilment of all the yearnings of the mind and the emotional make-up.

Into the primary cause of this experience, familiar to those rare individuals whose lives have thus been blessed from early childhood even to their lattermost days, I do not wish to enquire. Such an enquiry would take me too far afield, leading as it would into the realm of metaphysic and philosophic impalpabilities, into which I am for the moment unwilling to enter. Reflection however does yield one very significant fact. Those individuals who have received the title of "genius" and named by mankind as of the greatest, have been the recipients of some such inimitable experience as I have mentioned. A generalization it may well be, but it is one which nevertheless carries with it the seal of truth. Many another lesser person whose life has been gladdened and brightened in a similar manner has been enabled thereby to accomplish a certain life work, artistic or secular, which otherwise had been impossible.

Now it is a more or less logical postulate, one which follows as a direct consequence of the preceding premise, that were it possible by a species of psychological and spiritual training to induce this experience within the consciousness of various men and women of to-day, humanity as a whole could be exalted even beyond the highest conceptions, and there would arise a mighty new race of supermen. In reality it is that goal whither evolution tends and which is envisaged by all the kingdoms of Nature. From the beginnings of time when intelligent man first appeared on the scene of evolution, there have existed technical methods of spiritual attainment by means of which might be ascertained the true nature of man, and by which, moreover, genius of the highest order developed. The latter, I might add, was conceived to be but the by-product and terrestrial efflorescence of the discovery of the orbit of the starry Self, and at no time, by the authorities of this Great Work, was in itself considered to be a worthy object of aspiration. "Know thyself" was the supreme injunction giving impetus to their high endeavour. If the creativity of genius followed as a result of the discovery of the innermost self and the tapping of the sources of universal energy, if inspiration by the Muses ensued or a stimulus in the direction of some art or philosophy or lay occupation, so much the better. At the outset of training, however, these Mystics—for so these authorities came to be known—were completely indifferent to any result other than a spiritual one. Self-knowledge and self-discovery—the word "self" being used in a lofty, noetic and transcendental sense—were the primary objectives.

If the arts have their origin in the expression of the Soul that listens and sees where for the outer mind are silence and the dark, then evidently Mysticism is one and perhaps the greatest of the arts, the apotheosis of artistic expression and endeavour. Mysticism by some sweet ordinance of Nature has been always and at all times the most sacred of the arts. The Mystic indeed bears within his bosom that tranquillity which oft-times is registered on the quiet face of the priest uplifted to the altar. He is a recognized intermediary and mouthpiece, the dual keys being laid in his hands. He is, both the ages and his fellows in the other arts admit, more directly admitted to the Sanctuary within and more immediately controlled by the psyche. It is for this reason that his successes are a success for all men at all times. But bitterly reprobated, as almost a new ruin of Lucifer, are his quite frequent failures. A bad poet or a bad musician is but a reproach to his particular art, and his name soon perishes from the memory of his people. A charlatan or an imposter-magician, however, imperils the whole world, casting a heavy veil over the translucent light of the spirit which it was his principal duty to bring to the sons of men. It is for this reason also that he is only for the very few in every age; but likewise he is for all the few in all ages. Glorified with the beatitudes of all the artists and prophets of all the ages, he suffers ignominiously with their vilification, for they like himself are Mystics. He is lonely. He has drawn away into the subjective solitudes. Where he is gone —whither few can follow him unless they too have the keys—he is eulogiously acclaimed with song and dithyramb.

Not a theoretical knowledge of the Self is it that the Mystic seeks, a purely intellectual philosophy of the Universe—although that too has its place. The Mystic seeks a deeper level of acquaintance. Despite their rhetoric as to the absoluteness of reason, the logicians and philosophers of all time were inwardly convinced of the fundamental inadequacy and impotency of the ratiocinative faculty. Within it, they believed, was an element of self-contradiction which nullified its use in the quest for supreme reality. In proof of this the whole history of philosophy stands as eloquent witness. It was the belief of those who were Mystics, and experience repeatedly gave confirmation thereto, that it was only by transcending the mind, or that into the mind emptied of all content and made calm like a lagoon of still blue water, could a glimpse of Eternity be mirrored. When the modifications of the thinking principle had been stilled or transcended, when the constant whirling which is a characteristic of the normal mind has been quelled, and a serene tranquillity substituted, only then could there occur that vision of spirituality, that lofty experience of the ages illuminating the whole being with warmth of inspiration and profundity and a depth of imaginings of the highest and all-embracing kind.

Excerpted from The Tree of Life by Israel Regardie. Copyright © 1969 Israel Regardie. Excerpted by permission of Samuel Weiser, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents



PART ONE          

Chapter One          

Chapter Two          

Chapter Three          

Chapter Four          

Chapter Five          

Chapter Six          

PART TWO          

Chapter Seven          

Chapter Eight          

Chapter Nine          

Chapter Ten          

Chapter Eleven          

Chapter Twelve          

Chapter Thirteen          

Chapter Fourteen          

Chapter Fifteen          

Chapter Sixteen          

Chapter Seventeen          


Tahuti—The Patron of Magic          

The Tree of Life          


A Magical Circle          

Four Tattva Symbols          

The Pentagram Sigil          


Circle and Triangle          

The Hexagram of Solomon          

Harpocrates on the Lotus          

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2002

    Excellent Book of Magik

    Deeply emotional book. The chapter on religous persecution in Eastern India Touched my deeply. I cried, I won't lie. It was just so motivationg. Read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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