Take note publishers, name dropping works. Months ago I received a review copy of “The Temple of High Magic: Hermetic Initiations in the Western Mystery Tradition” by Ina Custers-van Bergen from Destiny Books. It had a not entirely exciting cover and was authored by a woman I had never heard of. However, I noticed the forward was by Gareth Knight and that the author was initiated by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki so I knew that this book had to be something special. And boy howdy was I right.
Obviously I’m no expert on the Western Esoteric traditions, because let’s face it, I’m not an expert on anything, but I will dare say that this is the best introduction to the subject matter I’ve ever seen, or possibly that’s ever been published. My introduction to the subject matter was the book “Magick for Beginners” by J.H. Brennen, which I still highly recommend to anyone looking for a tiny taste of Western Occult practices. In writing him a letter (yes, I liked the book so much that I wrote the author), he suggested looking at Dion Fortune and Israel Regardie. Fortune and Regardie are both respected pillars of the ceremonial magic community but their works are dense and difficult for a beginner to wrap their brains around, or at least for this beginner they are. If only “The Temple of High Magic” had been available then!
Bergen’s book thoroughly answers the question, “What are the Western Esoteric traditions all about?” Seriously, if some random person I met on the street that I had never seen before in my life went, “Hey stranger I’ve never seen before, what is all this Western Occult/Mystery stuff like?”, I would say not a word and put “The Temple of High Magic” in their hands.
This book is only 383 pages including index, bibliography, glossary, and table of correspondences, and yet it answers any question you could possibly think of as a beginner. Better still, this book despite being translated from Dutch speaks clearly and goes light on jargon. Bergin covers the roots that feed into the current practice of Mystery Traditions today, explains the significance of temples, tools, and robes, covers Tree of Life basics, Chakras, features loads of exercises and rituals, and more, more, more!
This is the book I should have read before attempting to tackle Regardie’s works, or slowly suss out Fortune, and it is definitely a book for someone looking to learn about these traditions but isn’t looking to necessarily actively participate in them. In other words, this is probably the only book a generalist like me would ever need. That said, this book could easily be the springboard for someone with some interest in the topic to become someone looking to actively begin serious study and practice. I guess what I’m trying to say is, buy this book and then buy a second copy to give to anyone you know with even a passing interest in the Western Esoteric Traditions.