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Living Thelema: A Practical Guide to Attainment in Aleister Crowley's System of Magick [Paperback]

David Shoemaker
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Aug 2013

The system of spiritual attainment developed by Aleister Crowley is notoriously challenging in its scope. Adapted from the popular podcast segment of the same name, Living Thelema brings a welcome approachability to Crowley's material, without diminishing the depth of the system. The author focuses on the practical and experiential aspects of the path of Thelema, allowing the reader to grasp the true transformative power of the system.

Beginners and advanced practitioners alike will find much useful advice here, as Shoemaker brings his characteristic down-to-earth style to bear on topics such as ritual and meditation practices, sex magick, astral projection, psychotherapy for magicians, the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, and that pinnacle of attainment known as the crossing of the Abyss.

The author's background as a practicing psychotherapist allows an entirely unique fusion of esoteric wisdom and cognitive science. Living Thelema is an invaluable handbook for any modern magician.

Here's what other prominent Thelemic authors have to say about Living Thelema:

"Dr. Shoemaker's Living Thelema is in my opinion the most thorough and understandable exposition of the underlying theories and the practical applications of the spiritual disciplines of Thelema currently available to the public. Serious students of the magick of Aleister Crowley in general, and of the A.'. A.'. in particular, will not find a more masterful and authoritative work on the subject issuing from a post-Crowley commentator. My highest recommendation for this landmark work."

Lon Milo DuQuette, renowned author of The Magick of Aleister Crowley, Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot, and many other titles.

"In this entertaining and (dare I say it?) lively book, David Shoemaker reminds us that Thelema is not just a philosophy or a study, but a spiritual practice. From applied 'how to' advice to thought-provoking 'how about' posers, Dr. Shoemaker offers his personal take—informed by twenty years of walking the talk, along with his incisiveness as a professional therapist—on how to get the most out of the fundamental Thelemic practices of yoga and ritual, both inside and outside of the temple."

Richard Kaczynski, author of Forgotten Templars: The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis and Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley.


Part One: Tools for the Journey

An Introduction to the Qabalah
The Holy Guardian Angel
The True Will
Getting Started with a Basic Magical Regimen
The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
The Lesser & Greater Rituals of the Hexagram
Liber Resh vel Helios
Methods of Ritual Construction
Asana & Pranayama
Meditation & Visualization Practices
Astral Projection & Control of the Body of Light
Devotional Practices
Liber Samekh & the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel
Sexual Magick & Sexual Mysticism

Part Two: Perspectives on the Path of Attainment

The Methods & Tools of A.'.A.'.
Tarot & the Path of Initiation
Initiation & Tetragrammaton
The Chakras
The Role of the Ego in the Great Work
The Formulas of LVX and NOX
The Right Use of Magical Power
21st Century Alchemy
The Practical Use of Alchemical Symbolism

Part Three: Life Outside the Temple

Patterns & Cycles in Magical Practice
Qabalistic Coping Techniques
The Anima & Animus
Cognitive Therapy for Magicians

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Product details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Anima Solis Books; 1 edition (4 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0989384411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0989384414
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Dr. David Shoemaker is a clinical psychologist in private practice, specializing in Jungian and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. David is the Chancellor of the International College of Thelema (formerly the College of Thelema of Northern California) and the Prolocutor of its initiatory order, the Temple of the Silver Star. He is a long-standing member of O.T.O. and A.'.A.'., and has many years of experience training initiates in these traditions.

He is Past Master of 418 Lodge, O.T.O. in Sacramento, having succeeded Soror Meral (Phyllis Seckler), his friend and teacher. He also serves as a Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the order. David is the founding President of the O.T.O. Psychology Guild, and a frequent speaker at national and regional conferences.

David is a co-editor of the journals Neshamah (Psychology Guild) and Cheth (418 Lodge). In addition to his essays in these publications, his writings have been published in the journals Mezlim and Black Pearl, and his chapter on Qabalistic Psychology was included in the Instructor’s Manual of Fadiman and Frager’s Personality and Personal Growth, an undergraduate psychology textbook. He was the compiler of the I.C.O.T. publication, Jane Wolfe: The Cefalu Diaries 1920-1923, and a co-editor of the I.C.O.T./Teitan Press collections of the writings of Phyllis Seckler, The Thoth Tarot, Astrology, & Other Selected Writings, and The Kabbalah, Magick, and Thelema. Selected Writings Volume II. His popular Living Thelema instructional segments are presented regularly on the Speech in the Silence podcast.

In addition to his work in magick and psychology, David is a composer and musician. He lives in Sacramento with his wife and his son.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars at last an excellent opener to thelema 16 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this is the best book for anyone who wants to understand thelema and its path.setting out clearly what to do and .the various elements that a practioner of thelema must know.without any tricks or deception .honest strait forward very practical.but best of all free from all previously held macho loony attitudes that have held back and obscured thelema for so long and which crowley him self helped a different attitude towards thelema has at last surfaced and the path is there for all who wish to at least try.i wish you well in your path and i thank the pioneers who got us this far peace.
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5.0 out of 5 stars essential reading 18 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
the clear, no nonsense way in which mr.shoemaker delivers his methods and advice is a great starting point for any one interested in thelema. other new age or occult students will also find much to learn in this excellent book. highly recomended.
93. 93/93.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book 26 Jan 2014
By Darko
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'd recommend this book to every Thelemite and also to everyone else, who's interested into Self development.
93 93/93 Darko
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finest book on Thelema produced since Crowley 23 Aug 2013
By The Raven - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Once upon a time, I threatened to write a review about a book where I told people to throw away every book they owned on the subject of Thelema and buy the book I was reviewing. There are a lot of books on magick in general and Thelema specifically that are utter rubbish. And I do means lots.

But, here, David Shoemaker pops out with Living Thelema and takes the cake, the field, the storm, the whole kit and kaboodle. Separated into three sections, David takes us on a journey through the whole foundation of theory and practice, pulls back the curtain to reveal some of the broader ideas on the Thelemic path, and wraps up with some practical advice on a number of real world concerns.

In the first section, there is some of the most basic concepts of Thelema explained in a simplistic manner but with a mature voice that neither speaks down to the reader nor waters down the material to the lowest common denominator of the intended audience. Common myths of the Holy Guardian Angel, True Will, sexual magick, and even meditation are explored and exploded with a sense of clarity and a lack of sensationalistic nonsense that preoccupies lesser works.

The second section talks about various concepts of initiation, the formula underlying much of the doctrine of Thelema, and touches base with many different aspects of the practices of the A∴A∴ The subjects are important--no doubt--but my interest level in some of the material is less than in others. So at no fault of its own here, this was an inconsistent read for me because of my inability to keep focused on what I consider to be very dry topics in the first place.

David finishes up the book with some exploration into practical applications into the realms of relationships, cognitive therapy, magical work, and all of it bound together with his expertise in psychotherapy. This is the shortest section of the book and I would have been pleased to see it twice the size and delving into other areas, but for a book of this depth, I think it was a good start.

While I would almost say that one should go ahead and toss all other books on Thelema into the trash, DuQuette's are full of too much humor and great wisdom to be lightly dismissed. If it wasn't for the need to reference Crowley's material throughout the book as well, his too might be regulated to a back burner of irrelevancy for a modern age. So, no tossing out whole libraries here. However, if you are looking for a serious approach to Thelema, a dedicated and mature exploration of the Thelemic path, you aren't going to find a better book anywhere.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem among the Rough 9 Oct 2013
By liberserpens - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
93 93/93
Dr.Shoemaker has produced the most brilliant work on the Thelemic path so far. What he has done is to strip away all the details which one does not need to know at an early level,(of course these more advanced details are available in Crowley's source works and online). He has made somewhat clearer the path to attainment. After reading and meditating on this book I have re-assessed the way I do my work and after only 3 weeks I feel the rewards, i am a sole practitioner. Quite literally I was doing rituals which I needed not be doing as yet, which was somewhat overworking my psyche. I feel clearer and fresher in the ones I am doing according to Dr.Shoemakers instructions. Of course he makes clear that if you are of a higher grade to which I am, not to change your regimen without talking to your superior. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in attainment in Aleister Crowleys system. Considering the author is a practicing Clinical Psycologist the wording is very easy to fathom. He could have blinded our senses with science, but that was obviously not his intention. Grab yourself a copy, I am sure you won't be disappointment ! We need more balanced Thelemites out there to carry the flame which "burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star". Yes, that is each and every one of you,(who is called). An extremely admirable work! I might finish by saying that there are no rituals(there is a sample), but there are several very useful exercises throughout, which I am sure you will find interesting and educational. Thank You Dr. David Shoemaker!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars While wish this book existed when I first started I am still perfectly happy to read it now 12 April 2014
By Jure Sren - Published on
This would be an astronomical help to me when I first started the training by myself. It would solve a bunch of 'mysteries' and mysteries that floated around at the time. It would show me what is important and what not....
But.. the past is the past and I am still here. So I bought the book as soon as it came out of print. And I am not disappointed! It includes many of those little things that I was missing otherwise in my practice. They include but are not limited to the procedure of Liber Resh, the Elemental Hexagrams according to the position of the Winds and even the examples of construction of rituals.
This book will help the beginners with its lessens but also the rest of us by filling the many blanks that appeared through our practice and were never solved.
The person who wrote this book has visibly wrote the book from experience. So, no, this is not just another book with republished Liber O in another form. It is a book written for Work.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have 19 Sep 2013
By Stephen A. Scott - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A complete and easy explanation and guideline for anyone. The author makes it interesting to follow not only the system but the principles and practice
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and Insightful 27 Jun 2014
By Don J. Webb - Published on
Shoemaker avoids the two common snags about writing about the First Beast. He does not have a smug or snarky sense of humor. He does not assume that Crowley is the high water mark in all fields of human learning. What he does do is the following:

1. He explains the components of the practice, how each supports each
2. He explains this is hard work (really you thought t5he Word WILL would be easy?0
3. He stresses Balance and sustainability -- both ideas lacking in many Thelemic discourses.
4. He makes no grandiose claims of Magick, but does not dismiss it as mere psychology
5. He explains what you need to do, and WHY you need to do it
6. He relates magickal development with modern ideas of psychology
7. He does not shy away from the religious dimension nof the Work
8. He does not waste a reader's time in Crowley biography, apologia or fawning
9. He discuss the Work from a point of view of a student, not as someone explaining (or worse regurgitating) Crowley's words

When I write my next book on magickal practice, I will use the best aspects of this book as a model.
Don Webb
Overthrowing the Old gods
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