First let me say that I have, as many students have done, poured over the Mathers edition of "Sacred Magic" and for the better part of my life, took for granted that I was well versed in the Art of Abramelin, planning only to wait until my kids were grown to see it through to completion. It was well I waited, as the translation of the original German texts show where the French version Mathers worked with, was lacking in more than a few places.
The underpinnings remain the same. The ultimate goal of Abramelin's Art is to gain direct conversation with your Holy Guardian Angel. There is also the book Abraham writes to his son, as an explanation of how the Treasure and the Art came into his hands. Anyone familiar with the Mathers version will also recognize the last book. It consists of magical squares that produce sundry effects by way of the spirits that are bound to them.
If it sounds like too much is the same to bother purchasing this book, let me counter by listing the things that are different.
* There is a fourth book, in addition to the three Mathers translated from the French edition. This book deals with what Abraham calls the "mixed kabbalah". It is in effect a formulary of folk cures, charms, and nostrums that are not to be found at all in the Mathers edition.
* Instead of six months, the operation detailed here, is a much more complex 18 months.
* The squares from the final book that mesmerize so many students are completely different in the original German, than they are in the manuscript Mathers had worked from. Instead of 242, mostly incomplete squares, the German manuscripts show 251 squares, and every single one of them is completely filled in. That is to say, the Mathers version gave not only an incomplete list of squares, but out of the ones that are listed, two thirds are not completely filled in. What lines in the squares are filled in, you quickly discover, are misspelled, out of order, and almost wholly in disagreement with the original sources the present author uses.
In addition to the above, the author goes to great lengths retracing the steps of Abraham, making a case for his historcal reality, as well as the hermatage of Abramelin the "old father" himself.
In all, I am very pleased with this addition to my library. If you are familiar with the original Mathers translation, you owe it to yourself to take a second journey with Abraham to Egypt, and look anew at the teachings of Abramelin the Mage.
This Art takes a loftier place in Western Tradition than most tomes of its time and kind. Rather than idols, pentacles, and babarous names, the Operation draws its power from the exercist being virtuous. That is, god-like power is granted on the condition of piety. It is important to note that there is an 18 month initiation involving fasting, prayer, study of the Holy Books, and doing good deeds, culminating in a union between the prospecive Magi and the Divine, completing both in the process.
This is just one example of the Western Tradition aspiring to lofty spiritual goals, usually thought of as Eastern in nature. Another good book along that same line is a book discussing the art of Mandala Meditations in the west, also edited and compiled by mathers. "The Grimoire of Armadel "