Guest Column: Three Books You Need To Read By Agiel’s James Taylor

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Guest Column

In our undying efforts to bring you engaging columns you won’t find anywhere else, we’ve reached out to the metal world seeking submissions for a new subject: Three amazing books you have to pick up and devour.

Seeing as you read this blog everyday, we went out on a limb and assumed you’d maybe want to get some decent book suggestions from some of your favorite bands, too. So today, we continue this series on rad, must-reads with an entry by Agiel’s James Taylor.

In my life, I’ve devoted a lot of time to trying to understanding the nature of our existence as spiritual beings. I spent the better part of my youth skipping school and immersing myself in books on occult philosophy and ritual magic. It’s such an integral part of our humanity, but for the most part it gets white washed out of history. The modern age has embraced a rigid superstition that there is nothing beyond the physical world. The spirituality that has remained has been completely perverted into a mechanism to instill obedience and limit free thought. I believe that this invasion over the sovereignty of individual thought is one of the greatest threats to our civilization. For that reason I’d recommend anyone to read these three books.

“Liber AL vel Legis” or “The Book of the Law” by Aleister Crowley
Because of the use of his image by pop culture through the 60’s and 70’s as well as the superficial interpretation of his writings, the truth contained in Crowley’s work has become lost in favor of a watered down caricature. If looked at casually it all might seem a bit cliché, but there are valuable insights that can be gained from reading this book with an opened mind.

Crowley claimed that the book was dictated to him by an entity, but that is almost irrelevant when looked at in context of the message within the book. What that message said is that there is no law that can restrict free will and that the exercise of will without encumbrances is the supreme expression of spirituality.

In today’s society many readers may find it hard to get past the occult trappings of the book. The text is saturated by occult imagery and symbolism that is far removed from our modern age. It’s worth the effort to read though if only to get yourself to realize most of what we think, say and do with our lives is directed by forces other than our own will; including our concepts of self. The book espouses a perilously ambiguous morality, but it also offers a liberating perspective on reality.

“Liber Null and Psychonaut” by Peter Carol
If ever you were looking for an all-encompassing text on the history, theory and practice of ritual magic — this is it. In a little over 100 pages, Peter Carol manages to create a powerful foundation from which to understand the purpose and psychological underpinnings of ritual magic. The book had a direct impact on me and my understanding of the occult actually is. What’s even better is that this book is available under open source license on archive.org.

Most people are attracted initially to the visual trappings of the occult. These images do serve a very important purpose, but Carol is somehow able to demystify and at the same time deepen your appreciation for the symbolism. I recommend this book because after having read it I understood that ritual magic, like free will, is not constrained by any type of rule or dogma. It’s something fluid and malleable and is there to serve the will of the practitioner.

“The Occult: A History” by Colin Wilson
The book is a massive 800 page exhaustive look at occultism in its entirety. Unlike the other two books I recommended this is not a grimoire, but instead looks at the subject from an academic perspective. In order to fully appreciate something like the collected works of Aleister Crowley it’s necessary to understand the historical context in which they were written.

It’s important to remember that any spiritual text you might read was written by human beings and all humans interpret their reality through context. Without understanding that context it’s very easy to misinterpret the meaning of esoteric concepts which are already shrouded within layers of symbolism.

One of the marvels of modern society is the ease with which we can access almost any piece of information that has ever been recorded. For those interested in additional texts I’d recommend searching both archive.org and Gutenberg.org as many of the best occult resources are also under public domain license.

Additionally I’d recommend checking out these compelling works as well.

• “Three Books of Occult Philosophy” by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
• “The Book of Lucifer” by Anton LaVey
• “The Book of Pleasure” by Austin Osman Spare
• “Surrealist Manifesto” by Andre Breton

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