Prometheus Rising: Introduction by Israel RegardieBy Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger
“Darling Alice, You really are a contemptible bitch!” -Israel Regardie to Aleister Crowley, 1937
A prime example of my hubris is that I am particularly proud of the authors who have influenced me; that I have, amongst all the race, have been blessed by Plan or chance to have been taught by the greatest minds across the gulf of time. In my blinding pride, I often forget many of the ever-looming teachers who also held sway over my development.
In many ways, I think of Regardie as someone who is a corollary to Crowley and Wilson rather than an influence in his own right. However, that is partially based on Regardie own subtle ingenuity: he appears at times to be an, admittedly invaluable, interpreter of the generally murky philosophies of the Ceremonial Magic, Thelema, and Reichian therapy. Thus he stands in the shadows, as a consigliere for these illustrious ideologies for young students. However, Regardie innovations in magic are as important to my development as any of the more “original” authors.
I muddled through his One Year Manual in my dorm room in rural WV which was decorated solely by an Austin Osman Spare print and his A Garden of Pomegranates is the textbook on Qabalah that clear up many of my uncertainties and helped me understand the perfection of the scheme. The Tree of Life, The Middle Pillar, Roll Away the Stone, How to Make and Use Talismans have all been housed on my bookshelves across many moves. His The Golden Dawn and Gems From The Equinox preserved and made available teachings that otherwise could have easily been forgotten. (Although his criteria for what went into Gems can be bizarre in certain instances, to say the least.) His biography of Crowley notably cottoned Wilson to the ideas of Uncle Al and he would later write an introduction for that book. One of Regardie’s most influential ideas is one of the most essential; before undertaking the serious study and practice of magic one should go through therapy.
This is all without mentioning the direct influence he had on the modern occult scene that, for better or worse, propelled and legitimized Grady McMurtry, Lon Milo Duquette, Wilson, Parfitt, and various other writers I am forgetting to their luminary status. So Regardie was a great man who seemed content to, instead of striking out further into the shadow realm of the occult like Kenneth Grant, stayed behind to guide the next generation.
Regardie’s talent is on full display as in the first three paragraphs of his introduction he makes you fall in love with Wilson all over again as he notes the breadth and depth of his mighty philosophy and his bubbling humor. I have been lucky to have such teachers. He manages to weave in some of his personal philosophical hobby-horses such as his extrapolation of Wilson’s “Third Mind” into the Qabalistic theory of balance, centered on the triad of Geburah, Chesed, and Tiphareth and eloquently ruminates over the unmatched metaphor of Indra’s Net.
His incredulity toward Wilson’s optimism makes him look all the wiser as we read the book decades after its initial publication. (I do wonder though if anyone, like myself, was swept up by Wilson’s hopes and words to the point that when they read Prometheus Rising the first time, and also almost believed in Utopia.) Regardie also says the only wise thing to say about Wilson’s Utopia: “However, I sincerely hope that Wilson is right in this case.” Regardie also notes that transformative periods in society are rarely, if ever, peaceable. Like birth, there is always implicit trauma. I know I have a tendency to bemoan the state of our world, but at least I’m honest. I hope that the turmoil that seems to be set up against the 2020s like a bowling ball against pins leads to some better arrangement. We shall see, I guess. Like the monk in the Zen vignette that Wilson relates in The Starseed Signals, perhaps the best thing is to take everything with a placid “is that so?”
So we proceed gently into the realm of "The Thinker and The Prover" which I’ll discuss in my next entry. I would suggest taking this time as we engage with Chapter One of PR to revisit Regardie’s writing. We are all lucky that he is one of the teachers in this book.