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The Tree of Life: An Illustrated Study in Magic Paperback – Illustrated, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Tree of Life presents a massive amount of material that brings together ancient wisdom and modern magical experience." -- Bodhi Tree Book Review, Winter 2001/Spring 2002

From the Publisher

Have you ever heard of Elbert Hubbard? After being a soap salesman he founded the Roycrofters (part of the handicraft movement) and the Roycroft Press, which printed magazines and books filled with inspiration and information. He was popular in the early 1900s. Most people today have never heard of him.

On the other hand, you've probably heard of Israel Regardie. About his book, The Tree of Life, famous occultist Dion Fortune wrote, "…it is going to be one of the classics of occultism." She was right.

The Tree of Life was a book of its time. And just as poor Elbert is pretty obscure today, so, too, are many of the references in Regardie's book. It was time, not to change the book, but to update it for modern readers.

The ideal people to do this were Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Senior Adepts of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and respected writers and lecturers. The actual changes they made were few — they Americanized some British spellings and carefully turned the transliterations of Hebrew into the modern system that Regardie used in his later books. But that was just the beginning.

Next, they made numerous explanatory notes for each chapter so that everyone can now fully understand the book. Then, to make it easier to use and more valuable they added a glossary, a bibliography, an index, and information on each chapter for the contents pages. To show its importance, they included a biographical preface giving information about Regardie and the book. And finally, to make it even more attractive, they've added over 100 illustrations. Now, this classic from the year 1932 is again a classic for the 21st century. Elbert Hubbard may be forgotten, but this book is fresh and lively. Again, if you get a book on real magic, this should be it!

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 552 pages
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Publications; 3rd edition (2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567181325
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567181326
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Worthen on September 23, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read the material contained in The Tree of Life a hundred times in a hundred other books. Those books are a but a shadow of this one. Each of those others list this one in their bibliography while they try to re-tell it as well. None have succeeded. Those other books have their place, but this very well written tome is at the foundation of modern magick.

There are a couple of things I might mention to the potential reader. Though containing a good explanation of the Qabalah, contrary to the title, the book is really about Ceremonial Magick in its many forms. At times, Regardie approaches the subject as an apologist arguing around Blavatsky's Theosophical Society's tenants, which were the fashion at the time of the writing. The debate is mostly lost on modern readers but doesn't detract from the work and is completed in the early chapters.

Regardie's only stumble, in my option, is his chapter on alchemy, the last "narrative" chapter of the book. Here Regardie describes the art of alchemy as a spiritual process only and doesn't delve into the possibility of an actual chemical practice. Regardie's book The Philosphers's Stone carries on this narrow interpretation that the author later admitted, I believe, didn't wholly encompass the craft.

As for the Ciceros' contribution to the work, I can't comment since I'm unfamiliar with earlier editions. However, I found the pictures, footnotes and corrections meaningful and helpful for the most part. Where they weren't helpful, I ignored them. Feel free to do the same.

It's also good to see a Llewellyn book not printed on paper-towel quality stock, but durable bonded paper. A book this good should last. A hard copy would be the only improvement upon the printing.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an absolutely brilliant introduction to the study of white magic or theurgy but the Cicero's have unfortunately corrupted it with their editing and with illustrations not even found in the original
edition. If you want a real edition, get a second revised edition published by Weiser books, from 1971 or the same thing, just paperback, published by Weiser in 1991, tenth printing. Many books published after Regardie's death are corrupted, virtually all the editions put out by Lllewyn are corrupted (but not the one's published before his death in 1984).

It is wrong to associate Regardie with Crowley, he was an apprentice of the man at one time but he eventually broke off his relationship from him when he took a turn for the worse (at one point Regardie calls some of Crowley's new writing "deplorable"). He praises Crowley's early work, such as the original Equinox (notes on the Kabbalah)and Magick (I've never seen it in print). If you want to know why Regardie left the Golden Dawn read his "What You should know about the Golden Dawn" and also read the uncorrupted version of the Tree of Life.
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Format: Paperback
Bravo to the Ciceros for making Regardie's classic text even more usable for the 21st century reader. I'm glad they changed Regardie's old spelling of Hebrew words like Sephiros to Sephiroth to make them conform with the way modern magicians say these words! Sure, you can still buy the old Weiser edition, but if you do, you won't be getting over a hundred illustrations, great footnotes, a table of contents that you can ACTUALLY read, a 50+ page glossary of magical terms, and a comprehensive index. I know which edition I use more often, and it isn't the Weiser one!
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Format: Paperback
This book is absolutely amazing, after reading it I went out and bought several of Regardie's books. This is definitely the best introduction to magic that I have read, and it definitely seems to be a major source that many contemporary introductions to magic are based on. I would, nevertheless, recommend people approach this book with: 1) a bit of familiarity with the basic premises of the Qabalah and Tree of Life (Dion Forutne's "The Mystical Qabalah" is a great place to start), and 2) an ability to decipher long and wordy sentences.
Other reviewers have complained about Regardie's writing style. I definitely agree the first chapter is a bit over the top, but throughout the rest of the book I fell in love with his style. It makes readers use conscious effort in order to gain understanding, because Regardie wraps many layers of meaning into what he writes. After the first chapter, I found the writing style extremely poetic and beautiful, although I definitely feel it could be simplified. Regardless of the writing style, Regardie's treatment of the topic is straightforward and clear... especially considering the veil of secrecy that cloaked discussion of magic in previous centuries.

The book is divided into two major sections. The first is basically more theoretical, covering the theory of the Tree of Life... a topic that perpetually reveals more and more depth intricate layers. The second (and much larger) part is more practical, though it really deals with the theory behind magical practices. This section really helps to demystify the meanings behind magical practice, and has helped give me a more clear direction in my own path.
Particularly valuable are the treatments of WILL and IMAGINATION, the two key ingredients in practical magic...
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