on December 29, 1999
_Gems from the Equinox_ has probably been the most important item in my personal library, as well as the one most often used. _Gems_ is not only practical, but also highly inspiring in its collection of key Thelemic and A.'.A.'. class A-E documents. It contains all the major rituals: Resh, Star Ruby (pentagram), Star Sapphire (hexagram), Reguli, Gnostic Mass, Samekh (Crowley's version of the HGA invocation), and more. Liber LXXXIX vel Chanokh offers the basic components of the Enochian system (watchtowers, the SDA, the 91 governors & the Keys or Calls) and precedes the original "The Vision and the Voice" account of Crowley's scrying adventure into the 30 aethyrs. The instructional sections are a goldmine, as are the practical disciplines offered in Libers E, O, Nu, Had, Thisarb, Yod and others. The A.'.A.'. syllabus, One Star in Sight, Khabs Am Pekht, Liber AL vel Legis (the Book of the Law), De Lege Libellvm and more are also included in this indispensible compendium of magick. In my opinion, this is THE one book to have on the shelf, or better yet, on the home or temple altar, for daily reference and praxis in magick and mysticism. The only way to make it more complete as a reference work would be to add the material found in _777_.
(Note: The version I own is the 1974-1982 publication by the Israel Regardie Foundation in conjunction with Falcon Press. Very well bound and has held up to a great deal of stress and use; however, I am not at present in a position to comment upon the quality of physical construction of any newer version.)
on December 21, 2003
Let us tersely and conveniently sum up the virtues...
1. For Golden Dawn people, Regardie describes this volume as the companion to his 'Golden Dawn' collection, whether you prefer the Llewellyn, or the more complete New Falcon Press edition. He does so in his newer introduction to his 'The Tree of Life,' and in another book, no doubt soon to be reprinted, called 'The One Year Manual.'
2. Regardie saw 'Gems' as a permanent addition to the Golden Dawn students shelf. Along with Crowley's original 'Magick in Theory and Practise,' he saw these two volumes as containing an immense amount of worthy material that could take the student a lifetime to assimilate and use. He makes this observation at the beginning of a volume entitled 'Ceremonial Magic,' hopefully soon to be reprinted.
The new edition of Crowley's 'Magick' isn't quite what Regardie had in mind for the student. He used to recommend the inexpensive Castle Books edition of 'Magick,' which still occasionally can be found (there is also a smaller paperback Dover books edition floating around, currently out-of-print.) Regardie really wasn't interested in seeing sincere students 'loading themselves down with lots of expensive books.'
(Regardie also write a short introduction for an edition of the first 2 parts of the currently available blue covered edition of 'Magick,' back in 1969. I am unaware if this smaller book is still in print.)
(Part 4 of Book 4 was 'The Equinox of the Gods.' I am unaware of Regardie ever writing any introduction to this book, in any edition. Sangraal Press may have released one in the late 60s/ early 70s. In any event, Regardie does not seem to consider it absolutely essential to understanding the most useful parts of the Crowley corpus. Regardie mentions 'The Equinox of the Gods' but little in his writings.)
3. 'Gems' distinguishes itself, as is noted above on this web page in the 'Book Description,' as enabling 'the student to find his way through the maze more easily.' It does this by dividing the different materials from the original Equinox into seperate sectioned subject areas within the same volume.
4. It is to be noted that Regardie has pointed out that Crowley's personality (!) made his material difficult to properly assimilate for the beginning student - and perhaps for a few advanced students as well. One will find that, in many cases, this is also true for the way Crowley composed much of the magickal material in 'Gems.' Separating the fiery and uneven Crowley from his material becomes part of the difficulty of the project: 'herein the task, herein the toil.'
5. New Falcon, at one point in the 80s, reprinted 'Gems' minus a certain amount of Regardie's introductory material. I think this is a mistake. I hate to sound purist, but we ultimately have little enough Regardie material as it is. We are all thankful, however, for New Falcon's Regardie efforts. See my recent review for 'The Complete Golden Dawn' volume published by New Falcon.
6. Thelemites will no doubt find 'Gems' useful. The bulk of them, however, will probably opt, at least eventually, for the full set of 'The Equinox' volumes entire.
7. As he reprinted much of Crowley's work, Regardie was often consulted or referred to as a Thelemite. Regardie objected to this, and clarified: 'I'm a Golden Dawn man !'
8. Many will be glad to know ahead of time, that the version of 'The Vision and the Voice' reprinted in 'Gems,' is not the annotated one that was released later, both in a smaller Regardie edition with intro., and in the later, oversized Weiser Publishers edition ( probably with intro. by the OTOs Hymenaeus Beta.)
9. Finally, some of the magick material reprinted in 'Gems' is actually available in the back of the different editions of Crowley's edition of 'Magick.' This makes no difference, as 'Gems' will organize the material more effectively, in the long run, for many students.
The above should serve, along with the rest of the present reviews, in encouraging the Golden Dawn student to procure this book as soon as he can, and gradually study it as he would his 'Golden Dawn' material.
Remember : sorting out the material is the real challenge here, and gradually assimilating it. One shouldn't rush the process.
So, forewarned is forearmed! Get a copy !
on November 26, 2001
"He who knoweth little, thinketh he knoweth much; but he who knoweth much hath learned his own ignorance."
And so it is, those that don't understand him, fear him, and the very few of those that do understand him, also understand themselves, and thus ... they, the few, realize the GENIUS within the man, which is the soul of the many. Behold the master therin!
I bought this book a couple of months ago, and everytime I pick it up and begin to read it, another 'door' opens! This book is like a treasure chest, and until you advance enough to understand it, then much of it is enigmatic, BUT - Crowley doesn't leave us in the ocean without some driftwood - he gives the reader a list of suggested reading that one must utilize in order to understand him and likewise the deeper secrets of the "Magnum Opus" - thus one must follow that "golden thread" which runs through many celebrated works, where Crowley himself gained his intellect, and that make up the corner stone of all great wisdom 'available' for investigation. Therefore, it is not neccessary to read Crowleys other works before this one, in fact I for one believe It would be a waste of precious time, for this is, in my opinion, THE book on Crowley! Why buy second best? contemplate it and buy the books he reccomends (some of them are available free on i-net) and put the pieces together. Challenge those barriers that constrict you, strive for only the best, and the master will surely open the doors of the hidden sanctuary!
Concerning the contents of the book: Crowley's commentary on Blavatsky's "Voice of the Silence," is alone, worth what you pay for it, and with it you get his most famed instructions on Yoga, Magick, Sex Magick, not to mention a first hand story of one mans attainment of the 'Gem" and the difficulties he encountered, which is very revealing in itself. You also get the Enochian rituals, and the Book of the Law and the list just keeps going & going & going & going.
So, Go ahead! buy one of those watered down wanna be magick books if you must, but realize the guide to the real magick is within and Crowley points the way for all those that have what it takes to carry the torch of Thelema and awaken the sleepers from there agwanti.
"That shall end never that began. All things endure because they are. Do what thou wilt, for every man and every woman is a star."
on May 7, 2005
If you can only own three books associated with Crowley and his teachings, they would have to be "Magick: Liber ABA," "Magick Without Tears," and "Gems from the Equinox." This is a well organized synthesis of the most highly regarded contents of The Equinox. The reviews at the end are also good reading if you're looking for books on the occult or a good laugh.
Crowley's "Equinox" is widely regarded as the seminal modern treatise on magic, or "Magick" as Crowley preferred to call it (to distinguish it from stage magic). His innovative spelling may have also been motivated by the more favorable numerological signification resulting from addition of the "k." By the way, Crowley's preferred pronunciation of his name rhymed with "holy" (and "wholely") not "how-ly."
The original Equinos was more of a "magazine" of occultism than a normal "book" like Crowley's "Magick in Theory and Practice," and the original Equinox, from which this compilation is derived, was published twice a year for about five years to coincide with the solar equinox. Crowley actually got through ten issues despite money problems and World War I paper shortages (the one volume of the original set that I have has a "pasteboard" cover and a note that it complies with WWI rationing requirements) before it went into abeyance (which Crowley justified as a cycle of speech followed by a cycle of silence). Later publications given the "Equinox" designation (like the book of Thoth) were regular books and not the mixed bag of "magazine" articles that made up the original Equinox series.
Although merely a "magazine," Crowley used the original Equinox to print the Golden Dawn materials he had received as a member of that group well before Regardie stunned the occult world with the publication of his chapter's materials in the 1930's, and thus the Equinox remained the sole public (or semi-public) source of those rituals until Regardie published his own private papers in his famous "Golden Dawn" volume in the 1930's. Crowley's original Equinox went out of print for about 80 years until the Samuel Weiser publishing house undertook the enormous and expensive task (really a labor of love) to reprint it, and that set has itself gone out of print and commands very high prices when available.
It fell upon Regardie to undertake another labor of love and digest down the best parts of the original Equinox into this "Gems from the Equinox." Although some occult writers quibbled over some of his omissions (and the OTO, inheritor of Crowley's literary estate, issued "Holy Books of Thelema" as a result), most of us feel Regardie did his usual brilliant job of selection. So consider "Gems from the Equinox" as the best Reader's Digest version of a great work you are ever going to see.
IMHO, if you just stumbled on this book and these reviews by accident, an essential budding modern magician's library could easily be built around this one volume of excerpts, plus Regardie's "Golden Dawn," plus Regardie's "Tree of Life," plus Crowley's "Magick in Theory and Practice" since reprinted, with excellent annotations, by the OTO as "Magick: Liber ABA: Book IV." (The Tree of Life, btw, includes a fairly innocuous chapter spelling out the OTO's famous "secret" concerning amrita.) Of those three, the Tree of Life is the most essential reading. "Golden Dawn" has some very useful, true to their source, original "knowledge lectures" and concise occult basics, but is really a manual for group working. "Gems" is highly inspirational, but somewhat in the same category as "Finnegan's Wake" in terms of accessibility to the casual reader. Only "Tree of Life" is immediately useful for the solo practioner. Crowley's seminal work "Magick" is essential as you grow, and his "Thoth Tarot" is sublime.
Finally, much is made of Crowley's self-designation as the "Great Beast," i.e. that creature from hell in the Book of Revelations, but it would do well to keep in mind that the English of his time tended to refer to any bad behavior on the part of children as "beastly" and the perpetrator a "right little beast," so I think Crowley was having the ultimate word play on his readers by taking this English pejorative and mixing it up with his cosmology while thumbing his nose at the Puritan establishment he grew up with. A man as beastly as the press portrayed would not have counted among his friends and supporters the large number of upper class English men and women that he did.
BTW I agree with the other reviewer that the original facsimile reprint of "Magick in Theory and Practice" makes a much better (smaller, lighter) travel companion that the bulky annotated edition mentioned above, but be aware that there are some typos and other errors in the original edition that the OTO corrected in their annotated edition.
This review is specifically a comparison of the New Falcon 2nd Edition, 1st Printing of "Gems" to other printings and editions. Those of us who invest in our books want and need comparisons of publishing facts and flaws. Please see other reviews regarding the most excellent content of this book-- I presume the reader has some familiarity Mr. Crowley, and has some idea of his body of work: this review is for bibliophile collectors.
The 2nd Edition, 1st Printing is not the edition pictured, pictured is the 2nd or 3rd Printing. The 1st Printing has a canvas spine and cardboard boards-- very durable. The 1st Printing is Smythe-Sewn, the 2nd and 3rd Printings are glue-bound-- this is to say that the backing/spine of the 1st Printing is very durable where the 2nd & 3rd Printings have a tendency to split at a point that is multiply opened, whereas the Smythe-Sewn edition will lay flat and open. the 2nd and 3rd Printings (pictured) have a non-flexible cardboard spine.
The 3rd Edition Gems from the Equinox: Instructions by Aleister Crowley for His Own Magical Order falls somewhere between the 1st Edition and the 2nd Edition 1st Printing in quality and durability. It is a burgundy red leatherette hardback, flexible spine and Smythe-sewn, durable and very affordable for the new student.
The edition that most collectors will eventually find that they want is the 1974 Llewellyn Red Leatherette; it's eye-popping red color and silver leaf on the spine and cover makes is a beautiful edition and can be found here: Gems from the Equinox: Instructions by Aleister Crowley for his own magical order. It is also Smythe-Sewn. This 1st edition is often a little more expensive; The New Falcon 2nd edition is not as pretty but it is just as durable.
Be careful which edition you choose. Compare prices. Compare sellers. Ask for photos. There are some bargains to be found in this title, choose carefully: This is *one* book on Magick that you will want to keep the rest of your life-- careful selection of available editions and printings will ensure you'll find a copy that will last you that long.
(Please add any suggestions to the comments section below and vote if you liked this review and/or found it helpful. Please note that the Reviewer has no control of the edition that Amazon.com chooses to run with this review.)
on March 5, 2008
Aleister Crowley devoted several years to blending the Aim of Religion with the Method of Science, publishing his findings in a ten-volume series Equinox from 1909-13. While his complete production is rarely available, this thick one-volume GEMS FROM THE EQUINOX gathers some of the most important writings from the set, reproducing them for new age collections serious about Crowley's writings. Regardie, Crowley's one-time secretary and biographer, provides an authentic and serious tone to over a thousand pages of writings perfect for beginners as well as advanced Crowley students and any student of Golden Dawn or Occultism.
Diane C. Donovan
on November 2, 2005
The greatest thing happened when Israel Regardie selelcted these papers from the original Equinox- he made available the most important magickal writings of that enormous first volume of ten installments to the student in one comprehensive collection.
This is sort of a textbook of the Magickal Orders AA and O.T.O., as many of these teachings apply to both orders. Although the author assumes the reader to have a good familiarity with some of these topics, ideas, and practices, much is to be gained in these writings for the complete beginner. A few of the many subjects include basic yoga postures and breathing techniques, various ceremonial rituals, meditations, an Enochian Magick Primer and a guided tour of the Thirty Aethyrs, The Book of The Law and various papers surrounding it - the list goes on. There is something here for every student of Occultism, Mysticism, Magick, Comparative Religion, Theosophy, ad infinitum. This book belongs in the library of every student of the Western Tradition.
on July 11, 2001
This book contains a lot of information and is IMHO not the first book of Crowley one should purchase. Book 4 of Crowley (the latest version which in fact contains book 1 - 4) contains maybe even more info but makes it for the not-so-advanced-practizioner with its invaluable explanatory notes a better start. If you are willing to pay (price) and have to choose between Book 4 and Gems of the Equinox, Book 4 is a better start.
on March 24, 2002
The important texts from the Equinox, Assembled in one book, by Israel Regardie, for a price that makes it accessible. I think that sums it up and justifies the Five Stars!