Temple of Set Reading List: Category 3
Religion and Daemonology in Historical Perspective
Reprinted from: "The Crystal Tablet of Set" (c) Temple of Set 1989 CE Weirdbase file version
by TS permission by Michael A. Aquino, Ipsissimus VI* Temple of Set
Today's philosophical and religious climate derives from the interaction and competition of a great many schools of logic, superstition, science, and intuition throughout history. It is necessary for the Setian to acquire at least a working familiarity with such systems, as the information gained is often useful in the development of both Greater and Lesser Black Magical techniques. Furthermore, while the original Priesthood of Set did not survive the decadence and downfall of Egypt, many of its characteristics were either preserved by other cultures or independently discovered by initiates of other magical/philosophical systems.
The works selected for this category are intended to survey the more elaborate and esoteric concepts of intellectual elites throughout the ancient Mediterranean and Western European cultures. 3A. "Religion in Ancient History" by S.G.F. Brandon. NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1969. (TS-3)
MA: "This book is worth chasing down through a library. It consists of 25 essays on such topics as the soul, national religions, the Devil, life after death, Dualism, Jewish history to 70 CE, early Christian mythology, Time as God and Devil, origins of religion, the Akhenaten period, early Christian Gnosticism, and angels.
Author a Professor of Comparative Religions at Manchester University." 3B. "The History of the Devil" by Paul Carus. NY: Land's End Press, 1969 (paperback reprint 1974 by Open Court). (TS-1)
MA: "Still the standard reference work on the topic, containing chapters on the devils and daemons of many cultures from antiquity to the present. Included are many perceptive observations on the concept of 'evil' in human behavior. In his "Confessions" Aleister Crowley remarked: 'Carus had always interested me as being widely learned, yet understanding so little. After meeting him, I decided that I liked him for it.'" 3C. "Christian Mythology" by George Every. NY: Hamlyn Publishing Group, 1970. (TS-3)
MA: "Another in the Hamlyn mythology series [see #2A], updated & reissued in 1986 by Peter Bedrick Books.
It exposes the origins and adaptations of Christianity and includes a number of later legends quite at odds with the "Bible". The author's comments on the psychological need for specific myth-types are quite illuminating. The book is neither pro nor con - merely analytical. Hence it is an excellent source of data for dialogues with Christians; you can respond to theological issues on a historical rather than on an emotional, dogmatic, or aesthetic basis." 3D. "The Romance of Sorcery" by Sax Rohmer. NY: Causeway Books, 1973. (TS-3)
MA: "Better known as the author of the Fu Manchu novels [fun to read if you're into 1890's 'Yellow Peril' themes and heroines who faint a lot], Rohmer was also an initiate of the Golden Dawn who dreamed of writing an authoritative commentary on the occult.
This book was the result - an empathetic but not-uncritical profile of history's prominent sorcerers, including Apollonius, Nostradamus, Dee, Cagliostro, Blavatsky, and Francis Barrett. Written in 1913 and especially commended by Harry Houdini." 3E. "Secret Societies" by Norman MacKenzie (Ed.). NY: Crescent Books, 1968. (TS-3)
MA: "While not as extensive as #3F, this book has the advantages of being relatively current and attractively illustrated. Chapters on the Mafia, Ku Klux Klan, Chinese Triads, Freemasons, Knights Templar, Thugs, Rosicrucians, etc. Well-researched and very readable. Three initiatory rituals (KKK, Mafia, and Masonic) are appended." 3F. "The Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries" (two volumes) by Charles William Heckethorn. New Hyde Park: University Books, 1965. (TS-3)
MA: "Written in 1875 and revised in 1897, this remains the major work on the topic. It does full justice to its ambitious title. In addition to discussing the characteristics of secret societies per se, Heckethorn includes comments on the clandestine operations of supposedly above-ground organizations (such as the Jesuits). Literally hundreds of groups are covered. If nothing else, it will leave you with the impression that there have been quite a number of sneaky people around." 3G. "The Magic Makers" by David Carroll. NY: Signet #E-6556, 1974. (TS-3)
MA: "This little paperback covers somewhat the same ground as #3D and #4C, with the advantage of being less dated. There are chapters dealing with the reality of magic, the magical universe, the interrelationship of magic and science, and the national magical practices of Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Rome. Individual magicians profiled include Apollonius, Dee & Kelly, Cagliostro, Saint Germain, Agrippa, and Faust." 3H. "The Secret Societies of All Ages" by Manly Palmer Hall. Hollywood: Philosophical Research Society, 1928. (TS-4)
MA: "Available in a variety of sizes and pricetags, this book contains 45 chapters on just about everything remotely connected with the Rosicrucian/Masonic tradition. Hence there is considerable material on Egypt, the Pythagoreans, Atlantis, the Cabala, etc. It is admittedly a treasure-house of sorts, but the intelligent reader will note an abundance of unsupported speculation. There are no footnotes, bibliographical references, or documentary attributions. Accordingly this volume is best used as an introduction to interesting areas of study rather than as a definitive text concerning them. It [particularly the larger/more expensive editions] looks nice on a coffee-table. The biggest one (Golden Anniversary monster edition) is heavy enough so that you can bash a rat with it and be reasonably assured he's now a two-dimensional rat.
The information in this book is also handy for confusing [equates to impressing] Masons and Rosicrucians whose cages you want to rattle. [If YOU want to understand what Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism are all about, your best bet is #3E.]" 3I. "Encyclopedia of Occultism" by Lewis Spence. New Hyde Park: University Books, 1960 (originally published 1920). (TS-3)
MA: "There are three 'occult' encyclopaedias on this reading list, the others being #4E and #4F. Although dated, this one is extremely well researched, objective, and thorough. Its companion volume, Nandor Fodor's "Encyclopedia of Psychic Science", is less likely to be of interest or practical value. Before acquiring a copy of #3I, consider whether #4E, which reprints extensively from it, will suffice for your needs and interests." 3J. "The Occult Sciences in the Renaissance" by Wayne Shumaker. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972. (TS-3)
MA: "Shumaker is Professor of English at U.C. Berkeley. This definitive work includes sections on astrology, witchcraft, White Magic, alchemy, and Hermes Trismegistus - painstakingly footnoted and with thoughtful critical analyses. 'The analyst does not take for granted the necessary existence of truth, much less of profound, forgotten wisdom in any of the systems, but treats them objectively as historical efforts to understand the world in which man is placed and to use his knowledge for human purposes.' [See also #3N.]" 3K. "The Dark Side of History: Magic in the Making of Man" by Michael Edwardes. NY: Stein & Day, 1977. (TS-3)
MA: "A fascinating investigation by a Professor of History and Political Science into the roles of magic in major social movements of history - from Mesopotamia to the French Revolution to Maoist China. This might be considered a reflective essay rather than a documentary analysis, but Edwardes' work is a commendable effort towards bridging the gap of ignorance/embarrassment that usually separates magic from the social sciences.
Not as much fun to read as #4B, perhaps; but one doesn't feel quite so far out on a limb either." 3L. "The Western Mystical Tradition" by Thomas Katsaros and Nathaniel Kaplan. New Haven, Conn.: College & University Press, 1969. (TS-3)
MA: "A very good history of mysticism from Hellenic Greece onwards. Offers the 'mystical perspectives' of many of the philosophers whose more materialistic concepts are treated in tomes such as #16A." 3M. "A History of Magic and Experimental Science" by Lynn Thorndike. NY: Columbia University Press, 1923 (eight volumes). (TS-4)
MA: "Frazier's "Golden Bough" - which would seem to be an inevitable component of a reading list such as this - was ultimately not included because its focus on mythology as such (i.e. as an essentially anthropological phenomenon) offers no thesis which is usable by magicians. 'Magic,' said Frazier in an oft- quoted passage, 'is science that doesn't work.'
Since Black Magic as defined by the Temple of Set does work, and since we are not interested in variations that don't work, we seek more illuminating histories to trace its development. Thorndike's is one such. In this massive work he shows the complex interrelationships between the magical, the scientific, and the philosophical from the time of ancient Egypt to the 17th century CE - after which the influence of materialism and logical positivism acted to suppress both magic and philosophy in favor of an all-embracing scientific method. Like the unabridged "Golden Bough", Thorndike's opus is usually to be found only in major libraries. You should be aware of its existence for advanced research purposes." 3N. "Pythagorean Palaces: Magic and Architecture in the Italian Renaissance" by G.L. Hersey. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1976. (TS-4)
MA: "According to Pythagorean philosophy, numbers and proportions possess quality as well as quantity, and the elements of architecture approach excellence as they maximize incorporation of these elements of quality.
In this book Hersey, Professor of Art History at Yale University, analyzes several Italian Renaissance buildings according to the Pythagorean standards employed by their architects. [See also category #12 in general, as well as #3J. See also #6O for observations concerning architecture which is conspicuously lacking in Pythagorean excellence.]" 3O. "A History of Secret Societies" by Arkon Daraul. NY: Citadel Press, 1961. (TS-3) (CS-3) AL: "A fine essay on the subject, with objectivity and much attention to detail."
MA: "This survey includes chapters on such groups as the Order of the Peacock Angel (Yezidi), Knights Templar, Assassins, Sufis, Gnostics, Castrators, Vehm, Rosicrucians, and of course the Masters of the Himalayas.
Used by the early Church of Satan as a source document for appropriate magical and ritual material. No documentation is offered, so this book is best considered at face value." 3P. "Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic" by Edred Thorsson. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1984. (TS-3) (OT-1)
MA: "Quite simply, the most authoritative and accurate introductory work on Runes and Rune magic. "Futhark" culminates the author's ten-year study of Germanic religious and magical traditions. Included are Rune history & lore, mystical and metaphysical analyses of Rune concepts, complete definitions of the 24 Runes of the Elder Futhark, and the etymology, phonetic value, and interpretation of each Rune.
The reader is shown how to perform chants and rituals using Runic energy, magical tools, and attire; how to sign and send Runes; and how to employ them for meditation. Thorsson (Stephen E. Flowers) is a Magister Templi IV*, Grand Master of the Order of the Trapezoid, and founder of the Rune-Gild. He holds the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Comparative Mythology and Religion from the University of Texas, and is fluent in German, Old Norse, and Old English dialects. [See also #3S & #3U.]" 3Q. "The Lost Key to Prediction: The Arabic Parts in Astrology" by Robert Zoller. NY: Inner Traditions, 1980. (TS-3)
MA: "The first part of this book is an exacting examination into the philosophical and metaphysical bases for astrological theory, resulting in the author's postulate that the true astrologer deals 'with the material globes in astrology only insofar as they are used to time the movements of the inner "planets" and "stars" that lie hidden at the center of man's being'.
Part Two consists of Zoller's translation of a 13th-century Latin astrological text by Guido Bonatti. In Part Three Zoller applies Bonatti's concepts to the construction of horoscopes. One of the most sophisticated conceptual studies of astrology yet penned. Reviewed in detail in "Runes" #III-1. The excellent bibliography is supplemented by extensive notes. The author is an ex-Adept II* of the Temple of Set and a practicing astrologer. [See also his review of #3T, described in that entry.]" 3R. "Larousse Encyclopedia of World Mythology" by Pierre Grimal (Ed.). NY: Excalibur Books, 1981. (TS-3)
MA: "As the title indicates, this is the 'mythology' volume in the Larousse series of encyclopaedias. 550 pages - in fine print - jammed with information. Note that this book focuses on mythology, not on occultism, so it is more descriptive of systems [from an archaeological/anthropological/sociological point of view] than analytical concerning their various merits, drawbacks, substance, etc. The editor is a Professor at the Sorbonne in France." 3S. "Runes and Magic: Magical Formulaic Elements in the Older Runic Tradition" by Stephen E. Flowers. NY: Peter E. Lang (American University Studies/Series I: "Germanic Languages & Literature", Vol. 53), 1986. $57.00. (TS-4) (OT-4) Flowers: "The purpose of this study is manifold.
First, it represents an attempt to place the problem of runes and magic in the context of the most recent ideas on the problem of magic in general. Here magical theory will be approached from the viewpoint of a 'linguistic model' and as a representation of a communicative relationship, rather than from what have become barren ideas of nebulous numerological computations and the like. The possible relationship between runes and magic is evaluated on the foundation of linguistically and formally based formulaic models, all of which have been material problems of runology over the past hundred years. Sound runological evidence has been the standard basis through which magical or operant aspects have been approached. Second, any rune-magic which might be deduced is placed, as far as possible, within the context of a general understanding of 'magical thought' in the Germanic world.
Third, an attempt has been made to develop an explanation of the runic phenomenon which takes into account the social realities of those times. The social context of the runic tradition - as nearly as we can determine it - may yield information which is useful in order to ascertain the nature of that tradition, as well as that of the society in which it thrived. Fourth, I have made a final effort to evaluate the possibilities for the establishment of a general theory of the use of runes in magical operations." [See also #3P & #3U.]" 3T. "The Serpent and the Rainbow" by Wade E. Davis. NY: Warner Books #0-446- 34387-0, 1987. (TS-3)
MA: "This is the book explaining the Voodoo system of Haiti and the manner in which zombis are actually created - not by supernatural means, but by the secret use of poisons.
The book is based upon field research by the author, who holds undergraduate degrees from Harvard University in Ethnobotany and Biology, and more recently a Ph.D. in Ethnobotany. #3T is reviewed in detail by Adept Robert Zoller (author of #3Q) in "Scroll of Set" #XII-3, June XXI." 3U. "Runelore" by Edred Thorsson. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1987. (TS-3) (OT-3) Flowers: "This book is intended to supplement the practical material found in my Futhark (#3P). In these pages the more intellectual aspects of the runes - their history and development and their esoteric lore - will be investigated. It is hoped that through this work I can begin to dispel most of the misconceptions fostered by recent books that purport to explore the runic tradition. "Runelore" incorporates into a system of living philosophy and practice the latest and best scientific scholarship of runologists from all over the world. The method used in the present book is essentially one of intuition firmly based on hard scientific data.
This is a method that I hope will continue to find wide acceptance. As it stands, "Runelore" is the basic textbook for members of the Rune-Gild, but I trust it will strike a responsive chord in all who seek to unravel the riddle of the runes." 3V. "The Books of the Beast" by Timothy d'Arch Smith. London: Crucible (Aquarian Press/Thorsons Publishing Group, 1987. (TS-4)
MA: "This is a 126- page, high-quality paperback collection of essays on Aleister Crowley, Montague Summers, Ralph Nicholas Chubb, Francis Barrett (author of The Magus, the book which revived an interest in sorcery & ceremonial magic in 19th-century England), Florence Farr (author of #10I), and the British Library's catalogue of erotica. This collection is cited here because of some interesting anecdotes it contains re Crowley, Summers, Barrett, and Farr. If you are interested in one or more of them, you might enjoy this book as a 'casual read'. But I would not consider it essential."