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Transcendental magic, its doctrine and ritual, Unknown Binding – 1910

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  • Unknown Binding: 420 pages
  • Publisher: de Laurence, Scott & co (1910)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0008707R6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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WHEN a philosopher adopted as the basis for a new apocalypse of human wisdom the axiom: "I think, therefore I am," in a measure he unconsciously altered, from the standpoint of Christian revelation, the old conception of the Supreme Being. Read the first page
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Lee on 25 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
Transcendental Magic was first published in 1856 under the title "Dogme et Ritual de la Haute Magie". It is one of Eliphas Levi's best works and definitely his most influential. Noted admirers included Aleister Crowley and S L Mathers. The book is made up of two parts. The Dogma and The Ritual. In part one Levi delves into the theory of magic. Lots of important information is revealed here but the modern student of magic must be warned that Levi left many intentional blinds and red herrings in this work. The most obvious of which is the false attribution of the Hebrew letters to the trumps of the Tarot at the head of every chapter. Levi also uses many terms that the modern student might not immediately recognise. Despite this and the fact that some of what Levi says must be taken with a large pich of salt the diligent reader will find much of value in this book. This book is a facsimile of A E Waites translation and also includes his extensive notes. Most of which can be ignored. Although he does shine light on one or two points his notes more often than not just confuse the issue.
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By Mr. Nm Burns on 22 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
A great text, certainly a derivative text of many famous oculists. Though the translation of Levi's work is poetic and easy to read, the actual notations made by Waite are distracting, irrelevant or out of date/ plain incorrect.

I found Aleister Crowley's Book of Thoth extremely helpful, as Crowley more often than not gives an excellent overview and explanation of Levi's work. This is an excellent text, recommend it.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Eliphas Levi has written a confused yet interesting account of magical theory in Transendental Magic but anyone seeking practical insight would be well advised to look elsewhere, for example Crowley's Theory and Practice, or any of Dion Fortune's works.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 24 reviews
55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Transcendental Magic Gets You High 2 Dec. 2002
By rareoopdvds - Published on
Format: Paperback
Perhaps one of the most elusive books on the occult market is Eliphas Levi's "Transcendental Magic: It's Doctrine and Ritual". Originally written in French with the title "Dogme et Ritual de la Haute Magie" (1855-1856, published in two volumes), translated literally as "The Dogma and Ritual of High Magic", revised to the current title by translator and commentator, the questionable Arthur Edward Waite.
"Transcendental Magic" is broken into two books, appropriately "Doctrine" and "Ritual". Both books are divided up into 22 chapters. While it seems evident to any occult student that they equate to the tarot deck and Hebrew letter/number system, A. E. Waite immediately rejects this as only coincidence by stating "that which emerges, however, is its utter confusion." Waite apparently had difficulty relating the first chapter, "The Candidate" to the Juggler (Waite was part of the Golden Dawn which alters various symbols from the O.T.O, A.'.A.'., and other occult schools). Furthermore, the second book begins with "Preparations", which Waite believes makes no correspondence to "The Candidate" or The Juggler. Waite who translated the book to a very readable and exciting version is too hung up on historical accuracy, which accounts for most of his confusion. Waite is trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
Eliphas Levi, a priest of the Catholic Church, although wrote about occultism, still maintained faith in the Church. As one reads his other works, such as "The Great Secret" or "The Mysteries of the Qabalah", you will see his faith in Christianity is still evident from his exposition on the Christian and Jewish myths. "Transcendental Magic", however, still stands as his most impressive and complete work, which, as well has touches of Christianity within its pages. Any honest occultist will recognize the value of Christian and Jewish mythology as the foundation of modern occult practice. As expounded by Levi a number of times, any good Church-going Christian will know what "The Seven Seals of St. John" is referring.
It may be evident immediately that a once read will not suffice in capturing the meaning of Levi's words. I found immensely valuable a dictionary of etymology and a Greek, Hebrew and Latin dictionary (Oxford I prefer for all). Levi employs many strange words that one will need to know on a continual basis to grasp entirely. These words are paradoxical in practical work: they serve to further understanding by decoding various names and they serve as symbols unto themselves that one uses to activate various states. The beginning of each of the chapters in the book of the Doctrine lists the title, a Roman numeral, a Hebrew character, and a few words in other languages outside of English. It is prudent for the student to study those words in relation to all that precedes and follows it. They don't make sentences, but they will make sense.
While at first I read it from front to back, but as I was studying it, I found it more effective to read the first chapter from the Doctrine and then the first chapter from the Ritual. Essentially what you are reading is the "philosophical attitude" one must take, and then a means in which to maintain or carry that attitude through. The most confusing aspect for modern occultists is the Tarot attributions. There are many people who buy this in hopes for a book on Tarot, but they will certainly be disappointed. In most decks, it is common to give The Fool the numerical attribution of "0", the world egg, the inner and outer, evolution and involution. What Levi does is attribute 21 to the Fool, "Dentes Furca Amens" - the serpent tongue, the forked tooth (ala Shin), or liar in our modern nomenclature. Levi, however, is not alluding only to lying, but also "slips of the tongue" as in a Freudian nature and also speaking without restraint of thought. This chapter is headed with "Divination", where a diviner does not listen to their thoughts or prejudge a situation. They let the words roll off the tongue. This perhaps confuses anyone studying Crowley or Waite's deck or any popular run-of-the-mill tarot (save the Hall/Knapp and Taviglione decks).
To think of this book purely as a guide to the Tarot is to misunderstand the work entirely. As Levi says in the first chapter, "The man who loves his own opinions and fears to part with them, who suspects new truths, who is unprepared to doubt everything rather than admit anything on chance, should close this book: for him it is useless and dangerous."
To the student who is persistent in challenge, willing to discredit his own knowledge will find this book to his advantage. It may also be useful to check up on some of Aleister Crowley's works as he was highly influenced by Levi, and his perspective may lighten things up. Specifically Magic Book 4 and Book of Thoth which discuss some of Levi's works.
30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
So Misread! 29 Aug. 2003
By A. Farbouti - Published on
Format: Paperback
This enigmatic book presents the Great Arcanum of all mystical traditions in such a beautiful, rich way, but yet it will remain inaccessible to those who are as yet uneducated in the true Secret Path. This knowledge was NEVER given publicly until 1950 when "The Perfect Matrimony" was written by Samael Aun Weor. Regardless, once you know the keys, Mr. Levi's book becomes a priceless gem, filling the heart of the reader with endless wonder at the incredible truths of the Secret Doctrine. Unfortunately, very few have such keys, so most read this book and forget it, or they form an opinion based on their own point of view and hawk that as the truth. Few realize that the Secret Doctrine is a firm and unwavering Law, into which opinion cannot enter. "The Law is the Law and the Law will be fulfilled." As Mr. Levi states in the first chapter:
"The man who is enslaved by his passions or worldly prejudices can be initiated in no wise (meaning he can never be initiated); he must reform or he will never attain; meanwhile he cannot be an adept, for this word signifies a person who has acheived by will and by work. The man who loves his own opinions and fears to part with them, who suspects new truths, who is unprepared to doubt everything rather than admit anything on chance, should close this book; for him it is useless and dangerous. He will fail to understand it, and it will trouble him, while if he should divine the meaning, there will be a still greater source of disquietude. If you hold by anything in the world more than reason (as opposed to superstition), truth and justice; if your will be uncertain and vacillating, either in good or evil; if logic alarm you, or the naked truth make you blush; if you are hurt when accepted errors are assailed; condemn this work straight away. Do not read it; let it cease to exist for you; but at the same time do not cry it down as dangerous. The secrets which it records will be understood by an elect few and will be reserved by those who understand them."
For those who understand the true nature of this work, it is highly recommended that you study "The Initiatic Path in the Arcana of Tarot and Kabbalah" by Samael Aun Weor. Herein you will find explicit what Levi only sketches.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Theory is fascinating, ritual is vague 2 Aug. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Levi is extremely eloquent, clear, penetrating, and evocative in his writing of theory. Unfortunately, although his ritual is often sound, he does not write it with the same precision of expression or fullness of explanation, which could lead to confusion or unintended results.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Primer of Western Occult Tradition 11 Dec. 2011
By JE Farrow - Published on
Format: Paperback
TRANSCENDENTAL MAGIC stands out as the premiere post-18th century treatise on Western/Judaic magic and the occult. It has inspried such occult practioners as A.E. Waite (who translated the book from french to english), Helene Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley (who penned a commentary on the contents of TRANSCENDENTAL MAGIC). Even today the book is reguired reading for a number of occult societies & organizations.

Here is a brief sample of material covered in TRANSCENDENTAL MAGIC:
The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic
The Pentagram
The Great Work
Black Magic
The Ritual of Transcendental Magic
The Conjuration of the Four
The Sabbath of the Sorcerers
The Book of Hermes
& more.

People unaquainted with the popular writing style of the 19th century may find this book problematic. For example, basic sentence construction tended to be much longer than it is today, and requires more concentration. Also bear in mind that we're referencing to a time when reading really WAS popular. I neither condemn or recommend the style.

In way of alerting readers to Levi's particular writing style, I quote the opening section of chapter 12: The Great Work:

"The Great Work is, before all things, the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full & entire conquest of his faculties and his future; it is especially the perfect emancipation of his will, assuring him universal domination over Azoth and domain of Magnesia, in other words, full power over the Universal Magical Agent. This Agent disguised by the ancient philosophers under the name of the First Matter, determines the forms of modifiable substance, and we can really arrive by means of it at metallic transmutation and the Universal Medicine. This is not a hypothesis; it is a scientific fact already established and rigorously demonstratrable. Nicholas Flamel and Raymond Lully, both of them poor, indubitably distributed immense riches. Agrippa never proceeded beyond the first part of the Great Work, and he perished in the attempt, struggling to possess himself and to fix his independence."

The Great Work is central to the western magical tradition. Levi reveals its inner secret in a semantically shrouded form. Aleister Crowley did as well in BOOK 4. Perhaps they felt safe in revealing the secret because only Initiates could understand?

If the subject interests you, and perhaps even more importantly, if you can wade through Levi's particularly difficult form of 19th century prose--by all means obtain the book.

It may lead to other interesting things.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Into Another World. 21 Aug. 2000
By kiel price - Published on
Format: Paperback
" the name of Micheal, the invisible arch angel, I call thee N___ into this circle!" There are plenty of spells and charms taught in this book...the one above is a conjuring spell, call any spirit in a circle made of twigs. There is some dazzling magick in here which requires material you can find in your kitchen (Love Spells) and there are some which are more eccentric but would be well worth it (Magic Carpet Spell), and yet there is some...well, you don't want to play with (Death Incantions). You can't say your a magician unless you have this book. It is the most informed book I know of, and I know of lots. Teaches you love spells, lust spells, necromancy, conjurations, incantions, see angels in a regular bathroom mirror, candle spells, scrying and over 450 pages of more tricks and charms. If your interested in this mystic subject, below is a list of similar books:
*Grimoire of Armadel *Goetia *6th and 7th Book of Moses *Key of Soloman *Red Dragon-The Grand Grimoire
The books above are fine but Transcendental Magic is the best I know of. Warning: Not to be played with, this is the real deal!
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