GOLDEN DAWN JOURNAL IV: THE MAGICAL PANTHEONS
A fitting sub-subtitle would be "The Ciceros Do It Again." This, the fourth volume in their Golden Dawn Journal series, offers the reader both excellent reading and valuable knowledge along the path of wisdom. Most series tend to peter down over time; we can only hope the Ciceros can continue with the level of quality they've presented thus far.
The Golden Dawn Journal series professes to present the reader with information and teaching along the guidelines of the Golden Dawn tradition. The Golden Dawn was established in the 1890s and trained many well-respected figures in Western esotericism, including Dion Fortune and W.E. Butler, and several personalities such as William Butler Yeats and Alestair Crowley. The teachings were based in the Jewish kaballah, Greek mysteries and several magical texts translated by S.L. MacGregor Mathers during his time at the Britsh Museum. Alestair Crowley finished the training of Israel Regardie, who in turn taught the Ciceros, so the authors can lay a valid claim at the door of the Golden Dawn tradition.
The Golden Dawn taught respect for all religions, urging their students to realize that all religions stem from one truth, perhaps presenting it differently or just accenting one aspect. As part of their training, a student was required to learn and interact with the pantheon of gods for two different religions. Many students were said to choose the Egyptian and Greek systems, while some chose among the Celtic, Norse or another pantheon. The aim was for the student to realize, through their own study and experience of the "different" gods, that all gods were the same god(s) simply seen through different cultural and belief points of view. Many documents were generated that showed relationships between the different pantheons which showed that perhaps there weren't so many faces of God as there were simply ways to behold the divine countenance.
The Magical Pantheons offers the reader an overview of several pantheons of gods, some very compelling articles showing correspondences between some of the pantheons and some good critical analytical articles. Like the other volumes in the Golden Dawn series, each chapter is also a stand-alone article by a different author. In this collection the articles combine to form a very nice whole, prefaced by a good introductory piece by the Ciceros and ending on the immortal question "Do The Gods Exist?" This last, by Donald Michael Kraig, starts off as a philosophical exploration of the question and ends with a magical exercise which Kraig feels proves to the student, though perhaps not to anyone else, that God does indeed exist. While this reviewer did not take the month or more to perform the exercise, past experience indicates it would be an excellent experience for newcomers to the magical path.
Unfortunately, space prohibits a full exploration of all the articles, so a few highlights will have to suffice. This reviewer thoroughly enjoyed Kisma Stepanich's article "The Ancient Ones of the Irish Faery-Faith." Having no exposure to this pantheon previously, I felt the author did a wonderful job of providing background and showing this faith as worthy of serious study. And though more within the realm of the reviewer, James Eshelman's article "Hebrew Hierarchical Names in Briah" still presented a new and exciting feel to the words of power of the creative world of the kaballah. As Eshelman points out, very few kaballah students delve deeply into some of Crowley's work, perhaps due to prejudice associated with Crowley. (Personally, this reviewer feels Crowley's work contains many gems while requiring careful sifting by a critical, reflective mind.) Rewards come to those who strive, and Eshelman definitely strove to present this material in good form. The student would do well to do their part with the results.
In a nutshell, another excellent effort by the Ciceros. May all their work continue in this fashion!
Reviewed by Mike Hammer
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