More than 40 years ago, a book came out calledÂ The Complete Magick Curriculum of the Secret Order G.’. B.’. G.’. by someone named Louis T. Culling. I purchased my copy from Gilbert’s, a bookstore just east of Vine on Hollywood Blvd. Israel Regardie used to hang out there near the occult books and listen to the silly things some people would say. (The store closed several years ago.) And when I saw the book I have to say I was surprised. This “complete” book was under 130 pages and included some very large photos. Regardie’s book, The Golden Dawn, was five times the size of this book. How could Culling’s book be “complete?”
My suspicions were correct. That slim book had what, to me, was just the barest outlines of a system, only a couple of rituals, and some descriptions about some ideas concerning sex magick. It was nothing. I put it away and, except for some of the descriptions of basic levels of sex magick, I ignored it.*
Some time ago, the head of Llewellyn, Carl Weschcke, asked me if I thought the book should be republished. I thought it would be a good idea if it was expanded with explanations and comments. At the time I didn’t know this was exactly his plan.
I have called Carl Llewellyn Weschcke the “Father of the New Age.” There may be some people who, philosophically, could claim that title, but when it comes to promoting the ideas that became the basis of New Age concepts, nobody has done more that Mr. Weschcke. I’m not going to list all of his accomplishments. Rather I want to point out that he has literally studied, practiced, and lived what is now called the New Age. Nobody I know of who is living today knows more theory, history and practice than him. That’s why he was the ideal person to edit, add notes, and make comments to the new edition ofÂ The Complete Magick Curriculum of the Secret Order G.’. B.’. G.’. And now, at almost three times the original size, this book really is complete.
The book begins with an extended section describing Culling. You’ll learn more about him and his background than anywhere else in the world. You’ll also learn about Weschcke’s background and history. Weschcke (pronounced “wesh-key”) really is Llewellyn, and the more you know about him the more you know about the company. Each chapter then has Culling’s original material with explanatory notes, when needed. This is followed by comments, discussion points, and definitions of terms used in each chapter. At the end of the book there is an extended glossary, the divinatory meanings of the I Ching hexagrams [Without this a section of the book is meaningless. It was not in the original edition.], and a modern bibliography. This leads us to the content of the book.
Why I Hated the First Edition
and Why Some People May Not Like This Edition
When Culling was first attracted to the GBG it was because it offered a “shortcut to initiation.” I was looking for a shortcut when I picked up that first edition, too. But it didn’t seem to offer that at all. It seemed superficial at best. In fact, however, it was only my understanding that was superficial.
Today, I have seen an increasing trend of people who seem to want everything, including spirituality and magickal abilities, without changing themselves in any way. If there is something about a particular spiritual system, especially Wicca, that they don’t like, rather than doing the introspection necessary to discover why they don’t like it, they simply leave the system and look for another or invent something that allows them to remain exactly as they are. If spirituality doesn’t change you, what good is it? Similarly, due to the appearance of magick in movies, TV, and novels, many people think they can simply mumble a ritual from a book and wave a wand to get results. Most become highly disappointed when they discover it doesn’t work that way. As I like to say, “Magick isn’t something you do. Magick is something you are.” The practice of exercises so you can do magick changes you. If you are unwilling to change, you will have very little luck with magick. If you are unwilling to change, if you are unwilling to do the work, you won’t like this book.
But, if you want to enhance your spirituality and empower your magick, and if you’re willing to do the work, this book can be an incredible guide. As Weschcke writes, “The founding concept is that the whole operation of Ceremonial Magick can be reduced to a few very efficient steps…[W]e may remove all excesses commonly found in other Magickal Orders and Esoteric Societiesâ€”those robes, fancy trappings, complex formulae, long drawn-out rituals and extensive speeches…” To many people this implies that there isn’t a lot of work to do. Rather, it means that you need to regularly practice a few basic techniques. As Weschcke comments, “The need for and value of regular and consistent practice will be emphasized again and again. It is regularity and recording that are the foundations of process…” As Culling puts it, “If one practices consistently, daily and regularly, then one should begin to see automatically why merely reading books about the theories and philosophy of magick and other phases of occultism is a sterile thing.”
If you’re willing to do the regular practice, you’ll get two benefits: the ability to do real magick and achievement of true initiation.
The Borderland State
The key to gaining these abilities is the conscious attainment of what is called “The Borderland State.” This is the state of mind similar to the period between being asleep and being awake. It is from within this state that you can create all of the phenomena of magick and spirituality. It is a blending of the conscious and subconscious. The difficulty is breaking down the barriers between them and uniting them.
To that end, the beginning work consists of seemingly meaningless exercises such as recording all of your dreams and learning to write backwards, forwards, and in a circle (both clockwise and counter-clockwise). These techniques break down the differences between conscious and subconscious. They challenge the mind to work in new ways. They break down your normal thinking patterns and open you to spirituality and magick. They’re also easy to do; but for effectiveness, they have to be practiced regularly.
A shortcut doesn’t mean less work. Taking a shortcut through a forest may be a lot more work than taking the well-worn path around the forestâ€”but it will save lots of time. If you are willing to do the work, you can save years worth of time.
But you have to do the work.
What follows next are several brief chapters on sex magick. The basic concept is that you must have extended periods of sexual activity and the ability to focus on the goal of your magick. The thing is, it doesn’t give you explicit and exact instructions on how to do this. Here is where you are given a wide range for individuality. You are told what you should accomplish and then given totally free reign to discover the best ways for you to accomplish it. If you are looking for the standard, Western concept of sex magick using an alchemical metaphor, this book presents it simply, effortlessly, and precisely.** But to what end?
Magick is Something You Are
The ultimate goal of the techniques in this book is for you to be able to achieve a magickal trance. This is not a shamanic or hypnotic trance. Rather, it is a term that means being able to live totally within a particular paradigm. For example, being able to see everything as beautiful. Culling writes, “I know more about Beauty per se than all of the books on the subject, lumped together, could ever reveal. Beauty, as with other trance subjects, cannot be definedâ€”not even divined; experience needs no definition, nor could tolerate it.” Achieving this state, a state of true initiation, is the ultimate goal of this book. It is being magick. It is being able to become one with any concept and bring it into your life. It’s something else!
I have stated that there are good hierarchiesâ€”ones that are open and through which people can move up and down depending upon their desires and capabilitiesâ€”and negative ones (that keep certain people in power). The former I call open or natural because even among groups that are against such vertical alignments, they naturally develop. Unfortunately, some people simply lump all hierarchies together and denounce them. Here you will find a strong defense of the value of natural hierarchies. If you are used to your leaders denouncing hierarchies (and don’t see the conflict in this), you will find this book challenges your beliefs.
In Modern Magick and other writings I have talked about the value of “vibrating” words of power. I have said that when focused within, your body (or a part of it) should feel that energy. Culling agrees: “The way that one feels when intoning the words should be a guide as to whether they are properly intoned. If one is not stimulated by the words, then it is not properly done.”
A True Shortcut
The Complete Magick Curriculum of the Secret Order G.’. B.’. G.’.*** is a true shortcut to magick, to personal discovery, to living a truly magickal life, and to initiation. If you’re willing to do the work entailed in this simple text, you will be highly rewarded. This book is a timesaver, not a work saver. It’s also ideal for people who are willing to challenge the status quo and take personal responsibility for their own futures. If you are such a person this book is highly recommended.