Author: Kala Trobe
Paperback, 336 pages
Publication date: June 2001
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Books on the Qabalah (spelled in various ways) seem all the rage now. Many Qabalah books are confusing and impenetrable. Qabalah confusion is made worse because there are actually two Qabalahs: the original Jewish Qabalah (which requires a great deal of knowledge of Jewish religion, thought, and philosophy to even begin to understand) and the Hermetic Qabalah of the Western Magickal Tradition (which takes the "tree of life" from the Jewish Qabalah and greatly expands upon it, while generally ignoring the rest of the Jewish Qabalah). Most Pagans and non-Jewish Magicians are interested only in the Hermetic Qabalah, yet many books try to discuss both. Kala Trobe's Magic of Qabalah does not make this mistake. It limits itself to the Hermetic Qabalah.
Magic of Qabalah presents the Hermetic version of the Tree of Life as a series of visualizations. As most introductory books on the Hermetic Qabalah are filled with pages of dry textual description, Trobe's book immediately stands out as different. While this book seems to present less information than many other books on the subject do, the material is probably more accessible to the average beginner, especially for a generation used to seeing things via TV and film rather than reading about them.
Trobe's book is organized simply and directly. The first chapter introduces the reader to the Tree of Life and provides a brief overview of the ten sephiroth (spheres). Each of the next ten chapters covers one of those ten sephiroth in detail. Each of these chapters introduces the sphere and its associations, including its divinities. Next, the author describes the temple of the sephirah. Finally, a guided visualization leads the reader through the sphere firsthand. All sephiroth chapters except the first also discuss the path on the Tree of Life that links the previous sphere to the new one. A short chapter on Daath, an 11th sephirah used by the Golden Dawn, follows these. A chapter on the thirteen paths not covered in the chapters on spheres follows. Magic of Qabalah concludes with "A Qabalistic Tale," a short story based on the symbolism of the Tree of Life.
Magic of Qabalah is a nice introduction to the Hermetic Qabalah. However, it has a noticeable flaw. While it is far more accessible to the beginner than most books on the subject, it also seems less complete. This is particularly true with respect to the twenty-two paths between the sephiroth. Trobe admits in the introduction that she concentrated on the spheres more than on the paths between them. So long as one uses this book as a readable introduction to the Hermetic Qabalah instead of the final word on this subject, this should not present a problem. In fact, if you have other dense introductory books to the Qabalah that you've never been able to wade through, you will probably find yourself much better equipped for them after reading Magic of Qabalah. While it is a good book for complete beginners, if you have read and understood other books on the subject, this book does not offer much new material or new insights.
Reviewed by Randall