Just submitted my first-ever Amazon review -- for my buddy Aaron Leitch's book Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires: The Classical Texts of Magick Deciphered. Thought you folks (some of you, anyway) might be curious to see it.
And, yes, he's a pal...but it's still a valuable book, serious one-stop-shopping for those curious about everything from grimoiric Magick to Wilson's eight-circuit model. I am perfectly delighted, but only slightly bedazzled, by his thank-you on its acknowledgments page. ;)
93 93/93 -- AJ
The long wait is over! I just got my copy from Amazon, and can't wait to tell you why you'll want to order one, too.
We tend today to think of religion, magic and science as three mutually antagonistic strains of thought, but that's not how they began. Each grew from a single impulse, indeed as a single enterprise: the fundamental need of human beings to figure out how the universe works, and make use of that understanding to better their lives. In particular, the authors of the classical "grimoires," from ancient until comparatively recent times, would scarcely have recognized such a distinction; the divine, the human, the cosmos itself, formed for them a single system, and "wisdom" meant learning how that system works, and applying that learning to inward and outward change. And let's face it, without "magicians" like (seminal mathematician) John Dee, and (astrologer and alchemist) Sir Isaac Newton, modern science would never have come to be.
In brief, then: whether you're a scientist who wants a better understanding of the roots of science, a religionist willing to approach the divine in a rational way, or a practicing "magician" who wants a better knowledge of his forebears, you're going to want this extraordinary book.
My own orientation is "magical" -- begun nearly thirty years ago on a Christian path, and for many years now a Thelemite -- so I'll finish with the value of this text for those undertaking the magical adventure. Aaron Leitch is an accomplished practitioner of Western Ceremonial within the Golden Dawn tradition, but he's so much more than that, and there's something here for everyone who cares about "Magick" (as it's usually spelled today, to distinguish the Great Work from parlor tricks): strong coverage of everything from primitive shamanic practice in multiple cultures to the modern insights of the likes of Robert Anton Wilson (e.g., a cogent explanation of the "eight-circuit model"), and everything inbetween. But the book's greatest strength lies in its coverage of the classical grimoires, so often neglected (or just unknown!) today -- not as dry academic exercise, but as living texts for both spiritual development and practical change. A very partial list of topics covered:
Brief survey of twenty-two of the classical grimoires themselves (from the Picatrix forward, and including all the major "Solomonic" texts), available noplace else that I've seen; discussions of ecstatic insight, from the shamanic through Biblical Prophets and Merkavah mysticism, down to the present day; the aforementioned modern stuff (semantics, metaprogramming, and the like)...and most of all, the long practical section which makes up the bulk of the book -- magical tools, angels, planetary spirits and hours, astrological dignities, you name it...all with an orientation to practical use. (And I'm not kidding, that was only a very partial list!)
My one warning: forget the notion of "grimoires" you got from the Saturday Matinee school of magic -- if you're looking for evile pacts wif de debbil, you'll probably want to look elsewhere (and indeed some louts may be offended by the constant Judeo-Christian element that runs through grimoiric magic, itself often composed by Christian clerics, of course). In fact, make it two warnings: this is not light reading -- though even then, it's easily worth the price if you just keep it on your shelf as a reference work, and use it at need.
In short, the serious student will want this book, period. 'Nuff said.
-- A.J. Rose
author of the Consciousness Cycle novels, and The C.'.G.'. Student Handbook: Mysticism, Magick, Thelema