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The Scarlet Letter
Volume II, Number 2 | October 1994
Book Reviews


The Golden Dawn Journal: Book I, Divination
Edited by Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero
Llewellyn Publishing 1994
[Find it at Amazon]

Review by M.D. MacGregor Rogers

What a very fine idea! The amorphous dispersion and multiplication of the Golden Dawn as an institution, and the recognized insinuation of its technologies into virtually every corner of the contemporary practice of ceremonial magic, have set the stage for a momentous publishing project.

The Golden Dawn Journal is presented as an ongoing series of book-length anthologies on diverse topics of interest to the praciticing ceremonial magician. The first volume concentrates on divination, and projected themes appear to include everything from Alchemy to the Z documents.

As a material artifact, it is a little disappointing. The softbound book uses flimsy paper and coverstock. The cover bears an attractive design with a very conservative graphic, designed (I suppose) to attract us stodgy ceremonialist types.

The editors preface the text with a fine essay on the general nature of divination and its role in ceremonial practice. I found myself getting annoyed that so many of the individual contributors then began their pieces with a reworking of the same generalities.

There is a wide mix of articles, though there is a predictable bias towards the Tarot among the available techniques. Any practicing magician is likely to find at least a couple of the 15 essays valuable.

The volume concludes with a "Forum" section, which appears to have been an interesting backfire. The concept was to get a variety of positions from the contributors in response to a single question on the topic. Instead, the query "Can a divination always be trusted?" elicited a high degree of consensus, broken mostly by semantic variations. That's not too surprising, since it's one of the few questions that I have not heard ever-contentious magicians disputing.

All told, the Golden Dawn Journal is an ambitious project with mixed results and great promise. I will be reading the next volume.


The Baphomet
By Pierre Klossowski
Translated by Sophie Hawkes and Stephen Sararelli
Forward by Michel Foucault
Marsilio Publishers, 1992
[Find it at Amazon]

Review by Geoffery Fulcher

This novel, with its appetizing title, is a brief-but-heavy excursion into and out of history. The prologue takes place in a commandery of the Knights Templar mere days before their arrest by the French authorities. But the story proper occurs in some sort of bardo inhabited by the disembodied "breaths" of Jacques de Molay, Theresa d'Avila, Friederich Nietzsche, and others.

The prose alternates between wild philosophical speculation and striking sensuous image. Klossowski uses the narrative form to advance the most original metaphysical notions that I have encountered in a good long while. He acknowledges the Gnostic notions of metempsychosis, Christian eschatological resurrection, and Nietzsche's eternal recurrence, and comes up with a component that they all missed.

I don't wish to say any more for a text that, in able translation, speaks so well for itself. Hail to the Prince of Modifications!

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