Author: Israel Regardie
Editors: Chic and Sandra Cicero
Trade Paperback, 513 pages
Publication date: December 2000
Price & More Info: Click Here
Additional books by this author
Whenever I read that a new "improved" edition of a classic book is being published, I cringe. All too often, modern revisions and additions ruin classics. I am pleased to say that Llewellyn's third edition of Israel Regardie's classic 1932 survey of the practices of the Western (ceremonial) magickal tradition, The Tree of Life, gave me no reason to cringe. The text is faithful to the original and the additions and changes are useful.
The Tree of Life is the introduction to the Western magickal tradition in its many forms and practices. It is a classic because it is readable. Many authors have tried to present this complex material in a manner that the average interested layman can understand without devoting a few years to magickal studies. Most have failed. Their works either require a great deal of prior knowledge (Crowley's Magic in Theory and Practice, for example) or they talk down to the reader.
Regardie was gifted with the ability to explain complex material well without talking down to the reader. While this is true in all of his books, he seemed to take special care with this book. If you have any interest in understanding the practices -- and even some of the basic theory -- of the Western magickal tradition, this is probably the best book to start with. This book will not teach you to be a ceremonial magician, but it will give you much of the background you will need to understand books by other ceremonial magicians. This book introduces the reader to magick and yoga, Qabalah, the microcosm and the macrocosm, the Gods, magickal correspondences and tools, the Will, scrying, astral projection, grimoires, initiation, alchemy, and more.
The editors of this third edition, Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, have wisely refrained from trying to improve upon Regarde's basic text. Instead these two adepts of the Heremetic Order of the Golden Dawn have expanded upon Regardie's material with:
- Informative annotations adding commentary and explanatory notes to the end of each chapter.
- an extensive (over 50 pages) glossary.
- many more illustrations.
- a bibliography and index.
The only change made to the actual text of the book is that the Askenazic Hebrew Regardie used in his early books has been translated to the more common Sephardic Hebrew. Regardie used Sephardic Hebrew is his later books, so I consider this change an improvement.
This edition of The Tree of Life is excellent, probably the best one I've seen. Not only is the additional content worthwhile, but the book is printed on heavy paper and seems -- for a paperback -- designed to last. I strongly recommend this book (and Regardie's A Garden of Pomegranates, an excellent introduction to the Qabalah) to anyone interested in learning about the Western magickal tradition. I especially recommend this book to Wiccans who are interested in understanding some of the material that Gerald Gardner understood and used when he created Wicca.
Many people dismiss Llewellyn as publisher because they seem willing to publish an almost infinite number of Wicca 101 books, some of which are very bad. If one looks beyond their Wicca/Witchcraft line, however, one will find that Llewellyn keeps an amazing number of good to excellent books on magick, astrology, and other esoteric subjects in print. This is one of those excellent books. The Tree of Life belongs on the bookshelf of anyone seriously interested in magick.
Reviewed by Randall
Additional Books by Israel Regardie