This is the preliminary module to the Western Witchcraft I: Fundamentals and Doctrinal Basis online course. Learn more about that course and how to enroll by clicking here.
DOWNLOAD LECTURE NOTES:
- Preface (pdf)
- Chapter 0: Introduction (pdf)
- Chapter Structure of Doctrine and Ritual (pdf)
- About Eliphas Levi (pdf)
- Once you’re an enrollee and have the complete 363-page workbook, flip through the pages of your workbook cover to cover and skim, to get a sense for the landscape of the chapters and have a road map
- Skim and flip through the supplemental text, Clavicula Salomonis and Collected Studies on Solomonic Magic (which will be referred to in short throughout the workbook as simply Key)
From the 2019 Dec. 12 Newsletter:
Eliphas Levi, this guy, wrote this Thing, which is subdivided into two parts, Part I: Doctrine and Part II: Ritual.
Here is the unnumbered first chapter of Part I: Doctrine, which I’ve taken the liberty to number as “0.”
I’m working off A. E. Waite’s 1896 English translation, but constantly referring back to the original French. The smaller column to the right of the main text is where you’ll find my annotations.
When I got to that reference to the Key of Solomon (Levi calls it the Clavicles of Solomon) on p. 11 of the PDF you just downloaded, I decided to skim ahead and that’s when I realized for myself that the Key of Solomon needed to be a prerequisite to working with Doctrine and Ritual, because the Doctrine and Ritual text is constantly referring back to the Key of Solomon. Not only that, but pretty much every major text on Western ceremonial magic refers back to the Key of Solomon in some way, even if indirectly.
That’s how Key of Solomon and Collected Studies came to be. You can download that 560-page PDF text for free here (though read through that blog post first, so you know what the heck the text you’re downloading is all about):
See, Key of Solomon and Solomonic magic generally is a sort of ground zero when it comes to ceremonial magic and witchcraft everything West of the Middle East, and that’s including the Middle East. (What’s more, there are exact parallels and strikingly similar ritual structures to Eastern Taoist magic, which is just eerily uncanny, though I’ll reserve that discussion for a future update.)
I wouldn’t expect anyone new to occult studies to actually try anything out in Key, but I think reading the ritual instructions, getting a sense of how the incantations are constructed, the lists of ritual tools needed, initiatory rites, etc. will give you much needed context for when you start studying Eliphas Levi, Golden Dawn texts, Waite, Crowley, Israel Regardie, and so on. Even Wicca will make more sense in terms of what it’s a legacy of once you’ve skimmed through the Key of Solomon.
By the way, Waite’s footnotes in his English translation of Doctrine and Ritual is some of the best free entertainment you can get.
Like, you read three pages of Levi waxing poetic about the Kabbalah, and then arrive at one of Waite’s footnotes: “No account of Kabbalism could be more egregiously irrelevant.”
You’ll read a passage about Levi extolling the Talmud as philosophy. Then Waite just has to insert himself and include a footnote: The Talmud is not philosophy.
Okay, in fact, here’s what Waite said: “A writer who terms the Talmud philosophy—occult or otherwise—has certainly not read the Talmud.”
Me: sips my tea.
Mr. Waite, I’m telling you, was a drama queen. His word choice is spectacular. “Egregiously irrelevant” appears multiple times, not just once.
Plus, he’s constantly talking about how he’s “rectifying” the errors of occultists past, of false historic narratives, and if you enjoy watching drama channels on YouTube, then go pop that popcorn, curl up with anything by Waite, and just read what he has to say about, well, everybody else. Literally anybody but himself.