Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual

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Eliphas Levi

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2011 Reprint of 1958 London Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. This is Levi's first treatise on magic and was translated into English by Arthur Edward Waite as Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual . Its famous opening lines present the single essential theme of Occultism and gives some of the flavor of its atmosphere: Behind the veil of all the hieratic and mystical allegories of ancient doctrines, behind the darkness and strange ordeals of all initiations, under the seal of all sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the crumbling stones of old temples and on the blackened visage of the Assyrian or Egyptian sphinx, in the monstrous or marvelous paintings which interpret to the faithful of India the inspired pages of the Vedas, in the cryptic emblems of our old books on alchemy, in the ceremonies practised at reception by all secret societies, there are found indications of a doctrine which is everywhere the same and everywhere carefully concealed. ( From the Introduction) . Lvi's version of magic became a great success, especially after his death. That Spiritualism was popular on both sides of the Atlantic from the 1850s contributed to this success. His magical teachings were free from obvious fanaticisms; he had nothing to sell, and did not pretend to be the initiate of some ancient or fictitious secret society. He incorporated the Tarot cards into his magical system, and as a result the Tarot has been an important part of the paraphernalia of Western magicians. He had a deep impact on the magic of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and later on the ex-Golden Dawn member Aleister Crowley. He was also the first to declare that a pentagram or five-pointed star with one point down and two points up represents evil, while a pentagram with one point up and two points down represents good. It was largely through the occultists inspired by him that Lvi is remembered as one of the key founders of the twentieth century revival of magic.


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