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Israel Regardie (1907-1985)

One of the foremost authorities on modern Western magic.

He was born in England, the son of poor Jewish immigrants but lived most of his life in the United States where his family moved (to Washington DC) in 1921 when he was 13 years old. Early on, he studied the theosophical works of Madame Blavatsky, yoga, and Hindu philosophy. Not long after, he found a Hebrew tutor and learned to read Hebrew effortlessly, an ability that would aid him enormously in his Kabbalistic studies. He applied for membership to the Washington College of the SRIA (Societas Rosicruciana in America) on February 18, 1926. He was initiated into the Neophyte grade on March 18, 1926, and advanced to the Zelator grade on June 2, 1927.

Also around 1925 or 1926, Regardie discovered a book which aroused his curiosity. The book was Part One of Book Four by Aleister Crowley. Regardie wrote to Crowley in Paris and eventually received a reply to his inquiry. Soon after, Crowley offered him a job as his secretary in Paris. The young Regardie saw this as a opportunity to learn magic from a published authority, and so in October of 1928, Regardie went to France to accept the job. For the next three years, Regardie tried to get his employer to teach him the magical arts. However, Crowley did not offer to teach Regardie either magic or yoga, and Regardie, a reserved and modest young man, did not pursue the matter. Instead he continued to study magic on his own, reading every magical book, article or manuscript that was available to him.

Regardie published two books in 1932, A Garden of Pomegranates and The Tree of Life. The first book contained Regardie's Qabalistic studies based upon his own research from various sources. The Tree of Life is considered one of the most complete and understandable texts on practical magic ever written. This text was essentially a restatement of Golden Dawn teachings. When The Tree of Life was published, it caused a lot of excitement among esoteric circles. Although the Golden Dawn had ceased to exist in 1903, it continued to live on in its descendant orders, the Stella Matutina and the Alpha et Omega. With the encouragement and assistance of Dion Fortune, Regardie joined the Stella Matutina.

His four-volume work, The Golden Dawn, is now regarded as one of the most important contributions to the magical field, which he published in 1937. This contained the bulk of the Golden Dawn's rituals and teachings in four volumes. Regardie made his reasons for publishing these teachings well known to interested readers:

"...it is essential that the whole system should be publicly exhibited so that it may not be lost to mankind. For it is the heritage of every man and woman-their spiritual birthright." ..."My motives have been to prove without a doubt that no longer is the Order the ideal medium for the transmission of Magic, and that since there have already been several partial and irresponsible disclosures of the Order teaching, a more adequate presentation of that system is urgently called for. Only thus may the widespread misconceptions as to Magic be removed." - My Rosicrucian Adventure (1936)

Throughout history, many courageous individuals have had to make difficult choices which effect great numbers of people. Regardie's choice was this: keep his oath of secrecy to those who were letting the Order lapse into a severe state of neglect, or publish them and suffer criticism but be assured that the system itself would survive. Because of Regardie's difficult and unselfish decision to break his oath of secrecy to a lethargic and dying Order, the valuable teachings of the Golden Dawn became available to all true seekers, regardless of their education, background, location, circumstances, or personal finances.

The second significant task carried out by Regardie was, as an Adept, to bring a valid branch of the initiatory lineage of the Golden Dawn to America the alchemical melting pot where the New Age was incubating. Such tasks are not always easy. A. M. A. G. waited here four decades until the threads of the pattern came together. Then, in one of those graceful synchronicities which often play midwife to significant magical events, a couple in Georgia were inspired-at that time scarcely aware of what they were undertaking-to build a Rosicrucian Vault, the powerful ritual chamber required to pass on the Adept Initiation, at precisely the time when two magicians (one on the east coast of the United States and one on the west coast), unknown to each other or to the Georgia couple, came to be ready to receive that Initiation. And A. M. A. G., with the right to confer the Initiation in such a Vault, was the connecting link among them. And so, in one remarkable weekend, Regardie presided over two Initiations into the Inner Order, the first and the last which he ever performed; and the Lamp of the Keryx was passed into American hands.

He was a personal friend of W E Butler and held the SOL Correspondence Course in high regard. Another book by Regardie is The Art of True Healing, which is used as a text-book in the SOL First Degree Correspondence Course.


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