He (Regardie) is incorrect in saying that Crowley did not reveal Mathers’ system till after his death, for the Equinox began to appear in 1909, and Mathers died during the influenza epidemic, which occurred toward the end of the war (“at the end of 1918”). He is also incorrect when he says the “Golden Dawn” is defunct; it has broken up into various scattered units, of varying degrees of efficiency. But I know, personally, of four functioning lodges, all of which have got the full set of rites and teachings; and there are quite likely to be others of which I do not know, for people did not always take McGregor Mathers seriously when he cursed them and flung them into outer darkness, as he did pretty freely, but carried on with the system which they had found to be effectual for putting them in touch with the Secret Chiefs.
After all, the test of the validity of a lodge or order is its power to initiate successfully, not to its legal right to a charter, given or withheld at the personal judgement of individuals. Initiation is like vaccination, if it takes, there is an unmistakable reaction.
Crowley and I drew direct from Mathers “Golden Dawn,” and Regardie from Crowley’s A:.A:. Crowley and Mathers quarreled. Exactly why, I do not know; (see Equinox #3, P266 for Crowley’s account) incompatibility of temperament was probably the fundamental cause, whatever the actual occasion of their break may have been. Crowley then started the publication of his magazine, the Equinox. In the magazine Crowley deliberately gave away all that he possessed of Mathers’ secrets, including some of his rituals, and tore Mathers’ character to shreds. I have never met either of the persons concerned in this dispute but it appears to me that the abuse Crowley heaped on Mathers in the page of his magazine is far more likely to reflect on himself than it is upon Mathers. In his criticism of the manner in which Mathers conducted his organization, he is, I think on surer ground, for I found exactly the same problem confronting me when I myself joined it some years after he left.
I was at first inclined to quarrel with him for giving the Banishing Ritual of the Lesser Pentagram, for one feels instinctively that a formula which is messed about by all and sundry will not long retain its value for anybody. But on second thought I am inclined to acquit him. It is this formula which is given to the student immediately on initiation long before he is taught any practical working, in order that he may protect himself in case of Astral trouble. If Mr. Regardie is justified in drawing back the veil at all, then he is, undoubtedly justified in providing the necessary protection against anything untoward that may come through the veil.
The Lesser Pentagram is of the nature of a fire extinguisher, and it is very necessary to have some such device handy when one ventures into such highly charged levels of the unseen as are contacted by the methods he describes.
Now what is going to be the outcome of this general disclosure of the secrets of the mysteries? As in most drastic happenings the results will be mixed; but it is my belief that the good will outweigh the evil. That some folk will burn their fingers experimenting with that which they do not understand I have no doubt, but on the whole the gain to serious students will be inestimable. Mr. Regardie has done his work admirably, both in the Spirit and in the letter.
The Tree of Life is a book, which it would be difficult to praise too highly. It is going to be one of the classics of occultism.
It is not advisable, however, for persons with no experience at practical occultism to make their first experiment with no other guidance than that of a book. Preliminary training is necessary, also a guide with a rope in case of difficulties.
But those who have already passed through the Outer Court and stand waiting between the Pylons will find, in Regardie’s books, the keys they need.
Ceremonial Magic Unveiled
Occult Review Jan. 1933