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Eliphas Levi - Transcendental Magic (18.9 MB)

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This is Eliphas Levi's (1810-1875) best-known book. This work arguably made Levi THE most influential writer on magic since the Renaissance. Originally issued in French, the English translator is A.E. Waite and it is doubtful that anyone else could have better captured the essence of Levi's work. The book is divided in two parts the first is theoretical, the second practical. This is a fascinating and often debated work involving a discussion that covers almost the entire realm of Ritual and High Magic.Perhaps one of the... More >>>
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Category 1:  Mystic and Occultism
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Author:      Eliphas Levi
Format:      eBook
This is Eliphas Levi's (1810-1875) best-known book. This work arguably made Levi THE most influential writer on magic since the Renaissance. Originally issued in French, the English translator is A.E. Waite and it is doubtful that anyone else could have better captured the essence of Levi's work. The book is divided in two parts the first is theoretical, the second practical. This is a fascinating and often debated work involving a discussion that covers almost the entire realm of Ritual and High Magic.

Perhaps one of the most elusive books on the occult market is Eliphas Levi's "Transcendental Magic: It's Doctrine and Ritual". Originally written in French with the title "Dogme et Ritual de la Haute Magie" (1855-1856, published in two volumes), translated literally as "The Dogma and Ritual of High Magic", revised to the current title by translator and commentator, the questionable Arthur Edward Waite.

"Transcendental Magic" is broken into two books, appropriately "Doctrine" and "Ritual". Both books are divided up into 22 chapters. While it seems evident to any occult student that they equate to the tarot deck and Hebrew letter/number system, A. E. Waite immediately rejects this as only coincidence by stating "that which emerges, however, is its utter confusion." Waite apparently had difficulty relating the first chapter, "The Candidate" to the Juggler (Waite was part of the Golden Dawn which alters various symbols from the O.T.O, A.'.A.'., and other occult schools). Furthermore, the second book begins with "Preparations", which Waite believes makes no correspondence to "The Candidate" or The Juggler. Waite who translated the book to a very readable and exciting version is too hung up on historical accuracy, which accounts for most of his confusion. Waite is trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

Eliphas Levi, a priest of the Catholic Church, although wrote about occultism, still maintained faith in the Church. As one reads his other works, such as "The Great Secret" or "The Mysteries of the Qabalah", you will see his faith in Christianity is still evident from his exposition on the Christian and Jewish myths. "Transcendental Magic", however, still stands as his most impressive and complete work, which, as well has touches of Christianity within its pages. Any honest occultist will recognize the value of Christian and Jewish mythology as the foundation of modern occult practice. As expounded by Levi a number of times, any good Church-going Christian will know what "The Seven Seals of St. John" is referring.

It may be evident immediately that a once read will not suffice in capturing the meaning of Levi's words. I found immensely valuable a dictionary of etymology and a Greek, Hebrew and Latin dictionary (Oxford I prefer for all). Levi employs many strange words that one will need to know on a continual basis to grasp entirely. These words are paradoxical in practical work: they serve to further understanding by decoding various names and they serve as symbols unto themselves that one uses to activate various states. The beginning of each of the chapters in the book of the Doctrine lists the title, a Roman numeral, a Hebrew character, and a few words in other languages outside of English. It is prudent for the student to study those words in relation to all that precedes and follows it. They don't make sentences, but they will make sense.

While at first I read it from front to back, but as I was studying it, I found it more effective to read the first chapter from the Doctrine and then the first chapter from the Ritual. Essentially what you are reading is the "philosophical attitude" one must take, and then a means in which to maintain or carry that attitude through. The most confusing aspect for modern occultists is the Tarot attributions. There are many people who buy this in hopes for a book on Tarot, but they will certainly be disappointed. In most decks, it is common to give The Fool the numerical attribution of "0", the world egg, the inner and outer, evolution and involution. What Levi does is attribute 21 to the Fool, "Dentes Furca Amens" - the serpent tongue, the forked tooth (ala Shin), or liar in our modern nomenclature. Levi, however, is not alluding only to lying, but also "slips of the tongue" as in a Freudian nature and also speaking without restraint of thought. This chapter is headed with "Divination", where a diviner does not listen to their thoughts or prejudge a situation. They let the words roll off the tongue. This perhaps confuses anyone studying Crowley or Waite's deck or any popular run-of-the-mill tarot (save the Hall/Knapp and Taviglione decks).

To think of this book purely as a guide to the Tarot is to misunderstand the work entirely. As Levi says in the first chapter, "The man who loves his own opinions and fears to part with them, who suspects new truths, who is unprepared to doubt everything rather than admit anything on chance, should close this book: for him it is useless and dangerous."

To the student who is persistent in challenge, willing to discredit his own knowledge will find this book to his advantage. It may also be useful to check up on some of Aleister Crowley's works as he was highly influenced by Levi, and his perspective may lighten things up. Specifically Magic Book 4 and Book of Thoth which discuss some of Levi's works.

About Author:

Eliphas Levi (the pen name of Abbe Louis Constant, 1810-1875), was a French occultist who is credited for reviving interest in magic in the 19th century. Levi's writings have been appraised as being highly imaginative but not very accurate. His first and probably most important work was The Dogma and Ritual of High Magic. It was followed by A History of Magic, Transcendental Magic, The Key of Great Mysteries, and other occult books. Levi "believed in the existence of a universal 'secret doctrine' of magic throughout history, everywhere in the world."

In The Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, Levi devoted 22 chapters to the 22 trump cards, or Major Arcana, of the tarot. He linked each to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and to aspects of God.

Levi also proclaimed a theory of astral light based on his belief in animal magnetism. In his theory, astral light was similar to either, a fluidic life force that fills all space and living beings. This concept was not original but held by others in the 19th century. Levi stated, "To control the astral light was to control all things; a skilled magician's will was limitless in power."

Levi stated he was influenced by an earlier writer and occultist Francis Barrett. In turn he influenced another writer and occultist Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, with whom he visited in London in 1861. Bulwer-Lytton wrote The Last Days of Pompeii and other occult books helping to make magic fashionable to the last of the 19th century. They both became members of an occult group, which perhaps Bulwer-Lytton may have organized, that studied scrying, magic, astrology, and mesmerism. In his popularity he drew a cult following, influencing others to write their own books.

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded in London in 1888, adopted much of Levi's magic. Aleister Crowley, a former member, was born the year that Levi died and claimed to be the reincarnation of Levi.

Levi is well know for four main books, The Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, A History of Magic, Transcendental Magic and the The Key of Great Mysteries, and other occult books. Levi "believed in the existence of a universal 'secret doctrine' of magic throughout history, everywhere in the world."
In The Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, Levi devoted 22 chapters to the 22 trump cards, or Major Arcana, of the tarot. He linked each to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and to aspects of God.
Levi's most well known work covers Transcendental magic which is a far more practical from text an occult perspective than Levi's other works. The work is split into two parts. Part 1 covers theory, and examines traditional interpretations of magic and religion. Part II covers the practical aspects of ritual magic.

His other works are:

- Clefs Majeures et Clavicules de Salomon
- Dogma et Rituel de la Haute Magie Part I
- Dogma et Rituel de la Haute Magie Part II
- Elements of the Qabalah
- The Conjuration of the Four Elements
- The Key of the Mysteries
- The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum.