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Book of Magic by Herbert Irwin

Book of Magic

by Herbert Irwin

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The Golden Talisman Award for 2015 Esoteric Book of the Year goes to....

The Society of Esoteric Endeavour's Book of Magic by Anon (Herbert Irwin). Three item set: Facsimile of Manuscript, Transcript and Talisman Folder.

There are plenty of books o the market about magic, but very few are magical; that is, not just about magic, they are magic. The latter may result from a number of methods: consecration, binding materials with symbolic meaning or magical correspondences, intense personal connection, spirit binding (the book becomes a home to a spirit), making the book actually do something -- essentially turning it into magical device, or through a most repugnant method: sacrifice (destroying the book) *shudder*.

Book of Magic falls into to the "magical device" category. The original manuscript (from 1874) is an instruction manual about how to make a magical book, hence the title Book of Magic and not Book About Magic. Now, after over 140 years, the book has finally migrated from the astral and has physically manifest. The book is essentially a tool for doing magic, not just reading about it.

For the most part, the content of Book of Magic is a collection of ceremonial magic techniques and Hermetic arts used later in the Golden Dawn tradition. There are also a few folk-magic inclusions like the magical use of a dozen drugs and herbs and how to make a dowsing rod. Interestingly, there is also a section on non-Euclidean geometry -- shades of H. P. Lovecraft's "impossible angles". It was the author's valiant attempt to graphically describe higher dimensions, with limited success. Occult architect Claude Bragdon did a much better job (visually) 56 years later in his book Four Dimensional Vistas (1930) and The Frozen Fountain (1932) through illustrations of hypercubes or tesseracts.

Book of Magic is yet another stunning release from The Society of Esoteric Endeavour. It is a talismanic book par excellence.
added by Sensei-CRS | editBalkan's Arcane Bindings (Jan 1, 2016)
Anon ( Herbert Irwin ). Book of Magic. [ England ]: Society for Esoteric Endeavour, 2014. First Edition. Boxed set comprising three parts in a cloth slipcase: a facsimile volume, a typeset transcription, and a folder of talismans. Size of boxed set: approx. 9 inches x 7 inches x 4 3/4 inches.

Part I) Facsimile: Hardcover. Octavo. 416pp (of which approx. half are blank). Full calf leather over wooden boards, with a talisman inserted into the inside front board and a black glass skrying mirror into the inside rear board. Raised bands and gilt titling to spine. All edges gilt, decorated endpapers. A high quality full colour facsimile of the manuscript of "The Book of Magic."

Part II) Transcript. Hardcover. Octavo. 416pp (of which approx. half are blank). Cloth. A typeset transcription of the manuscript, including monochrome reproductions of the illustrations.

Part III) A cloth folder containing a set of the talismans described in the manuscript. The talismans are printed in gold on vellum and can be dismounted from the volume. Hand-numbered limited edition. The exact number of copies to be issued is as-yet undetermined but is sure to be small. Each of the copies sold by Weiser Antiquarian Books comes with the publisher's bookplate, with a (different) aspirational Latin tag or motto entered by a skilled calligrapher, and with space for the purchaser to enter his or her name. The first publication of a manuscript completed in 1874 by Herbert Irwin, son of the noted nineteenth century British occultist F. G. Irwin. It comprises magical teachings apparently used by the British incarnation of the "Fratres Lucis" group, a magical/Rosicrucian order which was a part of the milieu that begat the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

The contents, as noted in the subheadings, include: Of the Invoking of the Spirits Angelic; Of the Angels of Spirits of the Spheres; Of Diabolic Evocation; Of the power of the Will in Relation to Magical Things; Of the making and of the using of Magical glasses, Crystals and Mirrors; Of the forming of Charms; Of Invocation of Spirits of the Sun, Moon and Eight Planets; Of the Signs, Pentacles, and Talismans of Spirits; Of the Philosophical Stone Of its making - and of its using; Further Experiments in the Hermetic Art - or revification and of Resurrection; Some Remarks on the Medical virtues of the herb Saffron; Of Talismans and of Signs By which to accomplish certain ends; Of the use of many things of sympathy of antipathy; Of the Nature of things Of the Divining Rod; The Book of the Secret Ritual of Invocation of the Brethren of [the swastika]; The Talismanic Science; A Talisman of Great Power;On the Making of Mirrors; Of Divination by Dust or Ashes; Of Charms; Of the Secret Alphabet of some famous Cabbalists; etc. etc.

Advance copies show this to be a superbly crafted set, arguably the most technically complex, and beautifully crafted of the volumes so far released by the S.E.E.
added by Sensei-CRS | editWeiser Antiquarian Books
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Publisher/Bookseller's Description: (http://www.caduceusbooks.com/descript...)

Anon (Herbert Irwin), Book of Magic, Society of Esoteric Endeavour 2014, 1st Edition.

Never previously published.

Limited edition consisting of three components held together in slipcase: [images on website]

Facsimile of Manuscript. Hardback in full calf leather binding incorporating skrying mirror. 416pp coloured pages (of which 209pp are blank) It is clearly stated to be the book of the Fratres Lucis and is bound to match the appearance of the book as Herbert envisaged and drew it in the frontispiece of the manuscript. All edges are hand gilded, thus avoiding the too shiny gaudiness of machine gilding. Leather joint, decorated endpapers. The front cover has a real satin silk doublure (a traditional bookbinding device, a panel of silk set into the inside of the boards). Inset into the doublure on the front board is a reproduction of a sigil from the book which features an eye within concentric circles. The actual eye itself if formed with a portion of paper from the original manuscript, so as to create a magical link with the original. In a recess of the doublure on the rear board is set a glass magic mirror, to facilitate the practitioner’s access to the mindspaces from whence this book arose. The black mirror’s convex design follows Herbert Irwin’s recommendations in the book. The full colour facsimile is a very high quality reproduction and is designed to have the same appearance as original manuscript, rather than modern shiny photographs of it. The manuscript was completed in 1874 and this facsimile utilises a specifically Victorian binding method called “gutta percha”, then used for upmarket art books. However, modern materials are used that solve the longevity issues that resulted in the binding method being discontinued in the early 20th Century.

Transcript. Hardback cloth binding. Typeset as in the original 408pp (of which 205 are blank), and also gives translations of the occasional Latin. It also reproduces all the illustrations so the text can be seen in context, but is in monochrome. There is no decoration to the cover, so visually it merges with the slipcase. Herbert Irwin’s handwriting is not always easily read. As can be seen from these images, the transcript overcomes this issue.

Talismans in Folder. Talismans from the manuscript. They can be removed from the recesses in which they are held, for ease of use by the practitioner. As with the transcript, for aesthetic reasons there is no decoration to the cover. When in position, the talismans are framed by a gilt border. The manuscript states that the talismans should be made either of pure gold or drawn on parchment. Inspired by this, these are blocked in pure gold on vellum (the terms vellum and parchment were used interchangeably in the 19th Century).


The roots of the Golden Dawn are complex and have been much debated, and will be much discussed in the future as new evidence emerges. It is undisputed, though, that Major F.G.Irwin was an important player in the pre-Golden Dawn occult milieu. One narrative* has it that Kenneth Mackenzie brought the Fratres Lucis to British shores founding Temple No.1. Major Irwin then headed the Hermanoubis Temple No. 2 in Bristol, and then Woodman, Westcott and Mathers founded the No.3 Isis-Urania Temple in London under the Golden Dawn banner, but with more complex rituals resulting from the input of Kabbalah, Egyptology and the Cipher Manuscripts. The very masonic rituals and historical narratives of the Fratres Lucis that have been published appear quite out of step with the profoundly magical nature of the Golden Dawn. It is specially interesting, then, that Major Irwin’s son Herbert should have scribed this Book of Magic which is, very explicitly, the book of the Fratres Lucis and is highly magical.

* See for example:-

Some Themes

Skrying using a magical mirror. Various procedures are described for using the magic mirror to view and communicate with spirits. One involves a surprisingly early description of the use of electric batteries for occult purposes. It is clear that working with the magic mirror is the source of much of the material of the book. The manuscript is highly visual using coloured inks and numerous diagrams and images, presumably recording visions received from the magic mirror. Herbert also talks of letting angels take over his body and guide his hand. One can spot some book sources (Barrett’s Magus, Key of Solomon) for some material but much is unfamiliar and is probably the result of such magical workings.

Contact with the Hidden Adepts was a crucial aspect of the Golden Dawn and its members employed various strategies, esoteric and exoteric, to contact the “Secret Chiefs”. In the Theosophical Society, and thence Crowley’s A.’.A.’. it was the “Great White Brotherhood” with whom communication was sought. Likewise in the Fratres Lucis as set forth in this Magic Book by Herbert Irwin. Communication with Rosicrucian adepts of the Order is embodied in records of earlier group magical rituals attended by Martinez de Pasquales, Lavater, St. Germain, Cagliostro and others. These may have been clairvoyantly perceived through the skrying mirror. Herbert writes of magically attending meetings. The Order also has inner plane contacts with Knights Templar initiates with two records of communication with the spirit of Jacques de Molay, one anonymous (probably Herbert Irwin) and another attributed to Thomas Vaughan.

Hidden Sun. In a diagram and associated text it is stated that the sun we see is not the real sun, but an imperfect and lesser reflection of the light that illuminates other universes beyond ours. This idea went on to become a dogma of the Theosophical Society (founded one year after the manuscript was completed) and then gain notoriety as the notion of the “Black Sun” current in neo-Nazi occult vectors. The Fratres Lucis, as described in this book, is synonymous with the “Brothers of the Swastika”

“Non-Euclidian Geometry” Some diagrams are suggestive of paper being folded multiple times in a manner that appears impossible to replicate in reality. This and three full page diagrams that share certain commonalities, pointing to Universes beyond ours and with compass points awry, is reminiscent of the “non-Euclidian geometry” imagined by H.P. Lovecraft.

Drugs & Herbs. In the discussion of herbalism a dozen herbs are dealt with, some very briefly as medicinal herbs but there is an extensive section on saffron which gives a lengthy and complex procedure for obtaining an extract, which is stated as being considered by Fraters of the Rose Cross the most wonderful and useful herb. The effects described are of an extreme form of rejuvenation, and also a gentle heat that pervades the frame and gives a sense of liveliness and strength. Modern users find relatively small doses of saffron akin to a low dose of Ecstasy, and recent scientific tests supports its psychoactive potential and also find that it does increase the effects of opiates, which the Victorians knew as it was a major ingredient of laudanum. Herbert also discusses the magical uses of opium itself, about which he is ambiguous, considering it potentially demonic. Never-the-less, he took opium to assist his skrying and died of an opium overdose. The original codex bears a bookplate added by his father, with the Fratres Lucis swastika, recording his death and making the book a memorial to his son. This bookplate, plus the Irwin family bookplate also present in the original, are reproduced and tipped in to the facsimile. He may have died whilst skrying mind spaces related to those that gave rise to this book which is, at least, poignant - and may also have significant esoteric implications.

An Astral Book made Manifest An illustration of the Book of Magic forms the very first page of the manuscript and the glyph of the magic book appears in a number of the subsequent illustrations. These probably record of visions received in the skrying mirror. This edition now makes manifest that astral book. Furthermore, with the eye in the motif set in the front cover being on paper from the original manuscript, it provides a magical link that is the basis for the magic mirror set in the rear board to act as the window by which the practitioner may access the same mind spaces that Herbert viewed to create the original manuscript. These mind spaces are of the same astral flux that found manifestation in the Golden Dawn and the Theosophical Society.

Complete List of Headings in the Manuscript

Book of Magic
Second Part
Of the Invoking of the Spirits Angelic
Of the dress of the operator
A Brief note of the qualities requisite in the Invoker of Angelic Spirits
Of the Angels of Spirits of the Spheres
Of the Necessary Conditions Rules and laws To be observed by the student of Spiritual and Angelic things
Of Diabolic Evocation
Of the power of the Will in Relation to Magical Things
Of the making and of the using of Magical glasses, Crystals and Mirrors
Charge for dismissing the Vision
Of the Consecration of Magical Mirrors and Crystals
Of the Virtue and Power of Signs
Of the forming of Charms
Of Invocation of Spirits of the Sun, Moon and Eight Planets
Of the Spirits of the Sun
Form of Dismissal
Of the Spirit of the Moon
Shapes familiar to the Spirits of the Sun
Of the Signs, Pentacles, and Talismans of Spirits
Of the Talismans of the Spirits of the Sun
Spirits of the Spheres
The sign of the good spirits of the moon
Of the Philosophical Stone Of its making – and of its using
Further Experiments in the Hermetic Art – or revification and of Resurrection
Some Remarks on the Medical virtues of the herb Saffron
Of the (vulgo Poppy)
The Herb Rue
Of the Herb Taraxacum
The Herb Vervain
Of the Marsh Mallow
Of the Occult Power and of sympathy
Of Attraction
Of the operation of casting into the Sleep
Of Talismans and of Signs By which to accomplish certain ends
Of the use of many things of sympathy of antipathy of the Nature of things Of the Divining Rod
Of Sympathy
Of the Cabbala
Of Divination by Marks
Of the Division and Government of the Human Race
The Book of the Secret Ritual of Invocation of the Brethren of [the swastika]
Form for the Invocation of Good Angels
Secret Ritual
Secret Ritual Invocation March 20th 1774
Of the Means of obtaining answers From the Inner world
The Talismanic Science
A Talisman of Great Power
Of Planetary days and hours and of the Angels
which govern them
On the Making of Mirrors
Of Divination by Dust or Ashes
Of Charms
Of the Secret Alphabet of some famous cabbalists
Invocated Spirit

Ordering and Limitation

This is a strictly limited edition. All copies are deluxe. The print run will be determined by the number of copies ordered WITHIN ONE WEEK OF THIS ANNOUNCEMENT. Sufficient copies will then be made up to supply those reservations

Reservations must be received by:-


Then the book will be declared out of print and no further orders will be accepted. Any subsequent enquiries will be forwarded to those trade customers who have purchased copies for resale. 

Bookplate recording limitation and provenance

The total number of the print run will be recorded by triangular bookplate blocked in pure gold with an eye (a significant symbol in the Book of Magic, related to the sun behind the sun). This will also give, in the hand of a professional calligrapher, the number of the particular copy. The number will, very strictly, record the sequence of actual sale, the first person who completes payment receives copy No.1, the second who completes payment No.2 and so forth.

The original manuscript bears the ownership inscription of F.L Gardner, an important member of both the Golden Dawn and Theosophical Society. In recognition of the potential importance of a particular books provenance the triangular bookplate will also give the name, magical name, magical motto or trade name of the purchaser written out by the calligrapher. IF YOU WISH THIS TO STATE “ANON” OR A SPECIFIC NAME/MOTTO PLEASE SPECIFY SO. Otherwise bookplate will record name of person or business ordering the book. The bookplate is designed to accommodate the names of subsequent owners so that, over time, the provenance of each copy may be recorded. Thus the facsimiles may continue that which commenced with the original manuscript.

The original bookplates, reproductions of which are tipped in the facsimile.


The patience of people ordering Society of Esoteric Endeavour books is truly appreciated. It is that support that has drawn books into manifestation. Whilst previous publications have been made in kitchens, conservatories, garages, offices and so forth, this publication will be largely made in a spacious, well equipped, bindery with many more hands at work under highly experienced supervision. Accordingly they will be ready far more quickly than previous publications. Ironically, there is some regret to be felt concerning this. These human resources and this specialist equipment and premises are available for this and future Society of Esoteric Endeavour publications for no other reason that because the British book industry is in ruins. The personnel, equipment and premises connect back to the origins of craft book binding in Leicester, the roots of which may be found in the Arts and Craft Movement.


In all, 196 copies have been ordered, so that is the number of copies of this book that shall become physically manifest, more than 140 years after the book was first conceived/perceived.

No further orders can be accepted.

However, some copies have been ordered by bookdealers for resale.
Please email me at ben@caduceusbooks.com for a list of these dealers
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