Francis Israel Regardie died in 1985. He was perhaps the last and most important link between modern occultism and the powerful occult revolution, which began in nineteenth-century France and, for all practical purposes, ended with WWI and the European Flu epidemic that followed the “war to end all wars.”
As a young kid, Regardie’s books were truly magickal to me. Much of his writing reminded me of Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley, ranging in style from contemporary to archaic Victorian. As a result, to ferret out the concepts in Regardie’s works, I had to read them repeatedly. The books didn’t really have traps as you might find with some other writers, but the style required interpretation. It was like reading a foreign language, and I was left with many questions.
Eventually, I was able to communicate with Regardie, receiving polite and precise answers to my young questions. Then, one day, I received a call. I was invited to drive from my home in San Diego to the home of a friend in Los Angeles and actually meet the man himself! I was so excited I couldn’t believe it. Even though I hadn’t met him before, I had studied his work for so long that he seemed like a second father to me. Naturally, I dressed up in a suit and tie to honor him and show my respect.
When I finally met him, I approached almost tentatively. He was small in stature and elderly. Small hoses from an oxygen tank ran to his nose (for his asthma), he was drinking a martini (long before it became a “hip” drink), and he peered at me from behind thick glasses. Shaking, I held out my hand to shake his. “Hello, Dr. Regardie,” I said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“What’s this ‘Dr. Regardie’ crap?” He responded. “My name is Francis.” Except he didn’t use the word crap, he used a different word that I won’t repeat here. That broke the tension I was feeling. Off came my tie. Off came my jacket. We talked for a long time. We continued to write and met several times more. He moved from LA to Sedona, Arizona, and he invited me to visit him. Unfortunately, events prevented me from doing so, and he died there. He is buried at an LA cemetery beneath a tree with a trunk that splits in two directions. I always thought this was appropriate, as Regardie was always of this world and the spiritual world.
Regardie Is for All
If you have any interest in magick and the occult, studying Regardie’s books is not an option, it is a must. In his works are the philosophy, theory, and practical techniques of the Western Esoteric Tradition, especially the path of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Once, while talking with Regardie about his early mentor, Aleister Crowley, he told me that he’d rather discuss the methods of the Golden Dawn. “I’m just an old Golden Dawner,” he said.
One of the things I’ve consistently stressed about the importance of the Golden Dawn is that they were able to synthesize a wide variety of occult systems into one massive (albeit complex) occult path. The Golden Dawn has directly or indirectly influenced virtually all Western spiritual traditions. Whether you practice Wicca, Witchcraft, ceremonial magick, Thelema, Chaos magick, or another Western magickal system, there is a Golden Dawn influence in your spiritual past. That’s why reading and studying Regardie is essential.
But as I wrote above, understanding Regardie’s writing style can be difficult. References to books and people from the 1920s–1940s may be obscure to people today. Unfortunately, even for well-educated readers, understanding Regardie requires specialized knowledge, interpretation and explanation.
Regardie’s classic books were published by Aries Press of Chicago, and the rights to those bookswhich were out of print by the 1960swere purchased by Llewellyn, republished and have been kept in print ever since. But to make Regardie’s books accessible to today’s occultists, Llewellyn called on two of Regardie’s personal friends and experts in both the theory and practice of the Western Magickal tradition, Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero.
The Ciceros spent long hours creating footnotes and comments to the original works by Regardie. That way, each book gives you the complete original along with the information necessary to let the mystical and magickal secrets in Regardie’s books be usable by anyone following any magickal path. Not only that, but the Ciceros have expanded the books with voluminous new and added information, making these books more desirable than ever.
The Middle Pillar is more than the most complete examination of that specific ritual ever published. I have seen versions of it performed by ceremonial magick groups, Pagan groups, and even groups with an Eastern mystical orientation. You may be familiar with this exercise, but few people realize the extent to which it can be used. It is far more than just circulating or raising magickal energy, and the book shows how the various exercises that are collectively called “The Middle Pillar” can be used to bridge magick, the chakras, and psychology. The Ciceros’ notes and added information include further meditations, exercises, and rituals.
In A Garden of Pomegranates, Regardie provides a classic introduction to the mystical Qabalah, a subject that is still gaining popularity all over the world. Unlike some books on the subject that seem to go on and on while saying little, this classic book is concise and filled with explicit information that is immediately usable. In this volume, the Ciceros have added a score of notes to clarify for a modern audience Regardie’s complete original writing, and have re-drawn all of the original illustrations for clarity and added insight. Also included are a bibliography, a glossary and an index. They have virtually added a complete book to this volumemore than three hundred pageswith information about scrying on the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life was the first modern book (originally published in the early 1930s) to clearly reveal the secrets of real magick. In it Regardie describes the nature of magick, the tools of the magician and methods of evocation, skrying, astral travel, and even sex magick. This book was decades ahead of its time, but the Ciceros have managed to improve it. They added over one hundred illustrations, a glossary, an index, a bibliography, and extensive annotations in every chapter. Famed occultist and author Francis King called this book “the best introduction to practical occultism that has ever been written.” Thanks to the Ciceros, it is even better.
MagickNot Hero Worship
Back when I first became involved with magick, most of the people I metPagan and ceremonial mage alikewere only repeating what was in books. They were not expanding the science or doing anything original. This met their needs at the time, but I was disappointed that people were not going further.
Even today, much of what people do is merely repetition. But a few brave souls do more. They base their work on solid experience and practice and move ahead, just as people such as Regardie, Crowley, and Mathers did before them.
One such advancementthat I think would have pleased Regardieis The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot by the Ciceros and Bill and Judy Genaw. Let me explain what I mean.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawnthanks to a book published by the Theosophists in the 1890s entitled Nature’s Finer Forces by Rama Prasadadded the Eastern concept of the Tattvas to their magickal system, forever changing Western magick. This involved the magickal elements and symbols that were made for them of geometric figures such as the triangle, square, and circle. They also featured elements within elements. Thus, you could have the watery aspect of fire and air, commonly called “water of fire” and “water of air.” In this new deck, the authors and designers take the process one step further, giving the possibility of such things as “water of fire of air” or “fire of air of air.” Using this symbolism gives entirely new entries for skrying and divining the future, as indicated on the eighty colorful cards.
This is also a two-sided deck. On the other side of each card is one of the truncated pyramids from the Enochian system, with many added symbols to make interpretation easy. A 432-page book is included to teach you this ancient, yet new, system of magick, divination, and skrying.