¶ Jake Stratton-Kent, the leading expert and practitioner working in the grimoire traditions, brings his experience to bear, placing the book in the context of Grey’s previous works and the current magical resurgence.
Peter Grey’s works are consistently challenging. His first, The Red Goddess, threw a perceptive light on possibly the only ‘home grown’ folk goddess in modern magic; Babalon. Her presence reaches far beyond organised Thelema, and a coherent ‘back story’ was long overdue and a great boon to the community. Passionate in conception and execution, appropriately, this work was well received and rightly so. Apocalyptic Witchcraft excited more controversy and would not have achieved its objective without doing so. Apparently exploring another aspect of modern magic entirely, the implicit continuity was visible to some. So too the author’s increasing mastery of his craft could be seen, and even more so in the current work. For, while independent of both, Lucifer: Princeps is an inevitable development of what has preceded it.
Grey’s Apocalyptic Witchcraft eschewed footnotes, justifiably considering that his telegraphed allusions to well known contemporary sources were common knowledge where it mattered and secondary where it did not. Although the bibliography covered all the necessary ground, and the flow of the book and its polemical tone was best served without, this was fairly widely criticised. With Lucifer: Princeps the subject matter requires and receives greater precision; since the erudition is of a different order of magnitude, notes are smoothly and helpfully provided. As we might expect, this is achieved without foregoing poetic and mythic priorities. Grey makes this look effortless, we may be certain it was not. A huge subject is opened with penetrating clarity; that it is a matter dear to his heart need not be doubted.
The topic is very well served, clearly presented and elucidated. The thesis makes a world of sense to me, and will certainly be well received in some parts of the community. Peter and Scarlet Imprint’s growing reputation should ensure a wider reading. This is well, for the title is his best yet, and its audience less ‘ready made’ than the two previous. Let there be no doubt, this book deserves to be considered far more widely than in grimoire and ‘Sabbatic’ niches alone. Yet I fear, when the legend of Lucifer and his fall is described as the foundation myth of Western Magic, incredulous eyebrows will probably be raised in some quarters. Grey’s overview of magic and its cultural role is visionary and ahead of the curve. Niche neo-paganisms and clunky scientific magical models have yet to respond to major reappraisals at the cutting edge. The central importance of mythic mechanisms in ritual magic is rarely discussed even by the savants. The very existence of a central myth in Western magic may very well seem alien to some.
This is what Grey’s greatest work to date addresses. Key themes are drawn out, their significance delineated. The fluidity of the text makes accessible a mythic narrative that is truly arcane; archaic yet timeless and potent. This is a dangerous book presenting a clear overview of what was formerly a difficult subject; clarifying its relevance to the very development of magic. The ‘spirit model’, of increasing importance to the community, clearly requires such a book. The head of the spirit hierarchy, whether in the grimoires, in folklore or culture shaping legend, is a figure we all need to understand extremely well. This the author achieves; a book both timely and ahead of its time. I await the promised sequel, Praxis with anticipation and impatience!
¶ Gordon White, chaos magician and practical sorceror at the respected runesoup.com.
This has been a challenging review to write for all the best reasons.
Most notably, I do not want to spoil the experience of having your personal conceptions unwound and rewound as you read through the book. Taking some of the more compelling, nay, astounding insights out of context risks doing precisely that.
So I read it. Then I thought about it. Then I contextualised some of the book’s assertions into my regular spirit work. Then I read it through again. And as I wrote when entreating you to come to the launch (and was subsequently word-for-word plagiarised)… you cannot unread this book.
One way or another, we all have a relationship with this form, Lucifer. It may be, as seems to be the case for the most stringently devotionalist of pagans, an echo ported over from your days in happy clappy mega-churches. It may be because you studied literature. Or it may be your muddled memories of Victorian folklorists. And then there is… rebellion itself.
‘Rebellion is a sign of the internal corruption which has led to the fall of the nation to a foreign enemy, in this case Assyria. Elsewhere in Isiah, the enemy is Babylon, as it is in Revelation and other apocalyptic works… This sense of an inner enemy weakening the state has been a constant political trope: the motif of the ‘fifth column’ re-emerged with the witch hunts in the early modern period; more recently we find the argument used in Weimar Germany by the nascent Nazi party, expressed in disproved notions of race and blood; by McCarthy, whose agents fingered Jack Parsons; and currently by the security state whose search is ultimately for ideological heresy.’
‘It is essential to understand the idea of rebellion in its traditional sense, rather than the glamourised or romanticised sense it has come to hold in our culture. The blind imposition of values is one of the most common errors made in reading the past. Rebellion, in particular, has come to be associated with the privileging of a particular pre-verbal emotional state, one that many are heavily invested in… Rebellion has become a marketing device designed to exploit the developmental stage of sexual awakening and differentiation in modern teenagers… It is part of a deliberate strategy to create consumers.’
The connecting behavioural thread running back from Lucifer: Princeps through Peter’s previous two books is witchcraft, magic, as oppositional to the teetering, paranoid, violent edifice of monoculture. Prior to reading this book, my primary relationship with Lucifer was along these lines…. as a sort of cosmic storehouse of the forbidden and even hidden or occulted. In a ritual sense, this manifested along Parzifal lines pertaining to the return of hermetics and esoteric astrology into European culture. (There is actually a lot more to my story with the Old Master, heading off in a crossroads direction, but for that you’ll have to wait for the book.)
What I had not realised before reading this book is the ‘forbidden storehouse’ function of Lucifer recurs backward through history. Peter traces it to the Ugaritic and even Sumerian levels, where it was already likely to be covered with the dust of ages, but is now lost to historical view.
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
Lucifer is styled as an upstart who seeks to set his throne in the place of Yahweh. This is not overthrowing order, it is an attempt to achieve parity with the divine. Apotheosis, the elevation to the status of a god, is the aim. This suggests a connection to a deeper strata of meaning, of an antecedent myth or myths.
Lucifer: Princeps will emerge as a cornerstone text in re-aligning or adjusting the contemporary practice of western magic back into its early modern Christian milieu by examining a sadly-under-explored vein of influence on the texts and beliefs that defined Europe for one and a half thousand years; encompassing the fall of the Classical World. the folkloric survival of the Dead in the Cult of the Saints, the witch trials and the grimoire tradition.
One of the angles absolutely ripe for magical exploration is the association of Lucifer -here a cipher for Dead Kings- and the Near Eastern/Eurasian concept of the Holy Mountain. Peter traces this to Zaphon, an archetypal World Mountain motif, sacred to Baal. This provides ready entry into any number of motifs that went into the creation/amalgamation that became Lucifer. It ties directly into notions of competing authority and the seizing of Kingship… as well as the role of the Dead.
Ah yes, the Dead. The Rephaim. The insights here are alone worth the cover price, and I want to tip-toe through them so as not to spoil their discovery. Peter wades into the highly polluted water of the Rephaim and the Annunaki and manages to emerge unblemished by flying saucers, reptilians, cone-headed Solutreans or any of that other jibber jabber. And the discovery which folds The Fall back into these earlier Near-Eastern ancestral practices is just so on point that I wanted to fist bump the woman sitting next to me on the bus when I read it. (You get looks when you read something with a title of Lucifer: Princeps on a bus. Especially if you are reading the big, beautiful, green hardback.)
Unfortunately, I have to leave it there because you really need to encounter the case Peter makes for yourself. But if you are in any way practically involved with angelology, ancestral spirit work or the grimoires -and I’m pretty sure that’s most of you- then read this section twice, Santa-style.
Of personal interest to me was the exploration of the scapegoat… because I am fascinated by the goat’s paranormal liminality and its status as a margin-dweller, and also because I think the magical community in general is absurdly naive when it comes to an hypothesis as to why we even have sacrifices or offerings. I think Peter is really onto something with his theories as to the origin of Azazel (as in “a goat for Azazel”). Two things fascinate me about the tribal thinking behind scapegoating. Firstly, that its earlier, shamanic origins are transparent: one cannot destroy evil or ill-fortune as it is a thing that exists in the universe and was created by God. One moves it along or sends it into liminal spaces away from the tribe. Lead never becomes gold.
Secondly, that this exact notion survives into early modern witchcraft and folklore. Recall the many apotropaic admonitions that the Devil or demon must ‘count all the leaves of all the trees’ and ‘all the grains of sand in the world’ before returning to a house or person. The existence of the Devil, of ill-fortune, is by the design of God. We cannot destroy it or even prevent it as the action of a being created by God is the will of God. We can redirect it, like the course of a river. I see the underlying Eurasian cosmology here at a time depth great enough to give the Near East this concept and the Far East Taoism. Keep digging until you find it.
To sum up, then. Reading this book is sort of like setting off a depth charge, or -more violently- dynamite fishing. It sinks into your unconscious and spectacularly rearranges what you thought was already well-arranged. I wanted to hold off on this review until I had pushed through enough spirit work to see if it materially impacted practices that predate its reading. And it does. For even the most modern of practices, a whole new context emerges -it yawns open behind your altar and fills your temple with hot winds blown down holy mountains and off forgotten deserts.
Absolutely well done. It is an Emerald in the Crown.
The review can be seen in the original context here: http://runesoup.com/2015/07/lucifer-princeps-review/
¶ Sef Salem, angel magician and stalwart of the English magical community who runs visiblecollege.co.uk
“Negative Evil is the thrust-block of Good; the principle of resistance, of inertia, that enables Good to “get a purchase.”
— Dion Fortune, Psychic Self-Defense
It has been a long road to escape dualism, for me. What started as a classic teenage rebellion from a High Anglican upbringing, has been accomplished at last by Peter Grey’s towering achievement, Lucifer: Princeps.
I do not say this lightly; my initial, bland understanding of “Angels good, Demons bad” was tempered by working with both in witchcraft, grimoires of such spirits, researching Biblical and Apocryphal texts, heavy amounts of meditation, pathworking, and experimentation; but still I was unable to free myself from the core concept of a Fallen Angel being in the wrong.
The understanding had been politely excused like a racist elderly relative, as if it were itself a necessary evil of working in such traditions, much as the quote from Violet above provides her own context for accepting evil entities. I have had the privilege of working with magicians from practices both within and without this mindset, from qabalist sorcerers to platonic hermeticists, witches and shamans of all stripes, yogis and chaos magicians, and of course Thelemites who eschew the idea of duality but for many it is still embedded in their secret centres.
The brave and no doubt harrowing process which Peter has put himself through for this work is to go back to the source material which many of us expect to be familiar with, but without context or koine as Peter puts it, cannot grasp fully. The temptation with any unfamiliar language is to accept that you’ll only hit every third or fourth word, but expect that to carry you and allow you to move on. This painstaking series of exegesis is thorough in a way that occult authors have seldom been- Stratton-Kent, Leitch, and a few others notwithstanding -and finally gives the most clear outline of the important figure of Lucifer, its origins in the earlier praxis and mythemes of more ancient civilisations than the Abrahamic Traditions, and how much relevance this still has to magical praxis today.
This cannot be stressed enough: Lucifer: Princeps is not a book which requires its next volume, Praxis, to commence your own workings from its material. Purely by reading and applying the most overt considerations from the text, your magick will change. Whether you are a Sabbatic witch, Luciferian High Priest, or devout angel-botherer, you will have a different apprehension of core texts in the foundations of the Western Mystery Tradition.
My own feelings on the matter are sealed; I wrote a longer and more personally-focussed consideration on how this will impact my praxis, but it disappeared into the aether. Suffice it to say, I will happily communicate my understanding face-to-face; but I can tell you that the key impact is the removal of duality from my basic programming, and without good and evil, the concept in the above quote does not lose impact, but gain it.
The angels which rebelled acted not out of duty to do the dirty work of Yahweh, but out of a desire to lead, teach, and ultimately inspire, regardless of the danger to themselves. Perhaps they were the first boddhisatvas. Even if we feel personally unable to work with them, they have earned our respect, and we have a need to honour them and include them in our praxis when we are ready.
Peter Grey has reconnected the current from this original gesture by brave angels, and it has always been there to flow through those who commit to magick. Lucifer has never been some arch-fiend, but an arch-angel, and his message is potent, puissant, and perfect. Read this book, and listen for the signal.
The review can be read in the original form here: http://www.visiblecollege.co.uk/blog/2015/6/30/positively-fallen-a-review-of-luciferprinceps
¶ Atticus Hob gives the witch doctor treatment to Lucifer, writing at http://www.orphansalmanac.com
“… as lightning fall from heaven.”
For all my love of books, and the sheer delight they often bring me, I was unprepared for Peter Grey’s Lucifer: Princeps, the newest release from Scarlet Imprint.
Before I’d ever handled the book, I’d had the shivers put up me by the earliest photographs, and felt a peculiar combination of building eagerness and dread. Waiting for the book to arrive was like watching a storm gather; as beautiful as it is, you’re left wondering what will be left standing, once it has passed.
I’m no stranger to Mr. Grey’s previous work, having been moved in unexpected directions by The Red Goddess, Apocalyptic Witchcraft, and his assorted essays and talks. His scholarship and devotion have opened my eyes, over and over again. I fully expected Lucifer: Princeps to do the same.
I can only apologize for how little I understood.
Lucifer: Princeps is a spectacular work. It is meticulously researched, and flawlessly presented. It peels back unseen layers, just as its predecessors have, but thinking that I could anticipate its movements was sheer folly. I wasn’t braced for the weight of the antedilluvian echoes that stirred between the pages. Subtle as mice, insistent as the cries of carrion birds, the core of the story wound like a serpent, over and around and through the tangled mass of mythologies, to emerge like a burning star.
Defying what he refers to as “soft focus scholarship,” Mr. Grey plunges deeply into the Bible and its far-flung Apocrypha, into the far older stories that shaped them, seeking for the minute pieces, so often obscured by blind presumption, bland acceptance, eager duplicity, and simple ignorance. While the overarching purpose is always to focus in on the figure of Lucifer, some of the most profound moments are found flitting like shadows between the rough-hewn stones of the narrative. Brief asides and bits of information, sifted through like sand, yield stunning insights.
I could talk about Mr. Grey’s careful autopsy of etymology, theology, mysticism, and politics. I could get lost (again) in the study of the Fall(s), and the way those stories writhed and molted across the long years, leaving patterns in the sands of time that would indelibly mark religion, magic, and culture. I could describe the face of Lucifer, as it slowly emerges in the unwinding of the coils, but as Mr. Grey reminds us, “his identity is legion,” and any effort of mine would doubtlessly be found wanting.
More than a guide to the Fallen, Lucifer: Princeps is a guide for the fallen. It is a bell that cannot be unheard, a key that cannot be unturned, a shadow that cannot be uncast. It is a puzzle that must be taken up to be understood.
I’m eager to read it again, and I’m eager for what is to follow. Lucifer: Princeps carefully lays the stones of a foundation, upon which the coming second volume, Lucifer: Praxis, will be built.
The standard “Crowned” edition is a lovely book, bound in brilliant green silk, with both the cover and the cropped dust jacket bearing the title and crown emblem in gold. Often, as I was reading, I felt compelled to just set the book down, to look at it. Even as I write this, my hands itch to pick it up, to turn the heavy pages, to run my hand over the cover, or the embossed endpapers. Removing the dust jacket is as breathless a task as slipping off a lady’s stockings.
The fine, “Dawn Breaker” edition is, regrettably, sold out, but the excellent Bibliothèque Rouge paperback, and “Crowned” edition are available. All physical copies include a digital edition.
This is a book that cannot be unread. Proceed with care, for there are threads to be snipped, and knots to be undone.
The storm has come upon us.
Review can be read in the original context here: http://www.orphansalmanac.com/lucifer-princeps/
¶ Shani Oates, the Maid of the Clan of Tubal Cain.
Scarlet Imprint are one of the current leading occult publishers of fine quality volumes that are also beautiful works of art. Peter Grey has recently added another title to their increasing résumé of dazzling subjects. Currently hailed as a seminal work, Lucifer: Princeps breaks bounds across several occult modalities by collating together critical research, presented, perhaps for the first time, as a single volume.
It is essential reading.
Peter Grey’s Lucifer Princeps is a very well written and erudite exegesis on the personage both hailed and derided as Lucifer. However, the material presented is not new, nor ground-breaking in itself, though of course, Grey’s own anarchic style bleeds through to set his own dynamic pace and meter!
It is heartening to witness another’s passion for this ophidian current as Grey probes deeply and thoroughly along parallel areas of research to my own, covering much of the same ground therefore. Likewise, he is driven to reveal his own perspective on the figure behind myriad anomalies and masks, all attached to a primeval figure that has long fascinated so many of us. My own sensitivities and proclivities remain largely sympathetic to those Grey here presents, sharing on the whole a fairly definitive accord.
Where there is negligible divergence of opinion, it largely concerns Grey’s interesting foray into the fabled seduction of Eve via the fruit of passion and wisdom, offering a significant challenge to the few alternatives certain academics have proffered, my own included. I shall not give away that treat, but suffice to say, even though I do not wholly agree with Grey’s conclusion on this, there is much in it that makes sense.
Terms used throughout are quite selectively sought, and then applied with honed deliberation to suit the ‘agenda’ of this book. By way of another example (supplementing those used to persuade us of the ‘Fruit of Wisdom’ [Tubelo’s Green Fire, Mandrake of Oxford 2011]), Grey rigidly sticks to the concept of Tubal Cain as a ‘smith,’ a rather limited and much hackneyed view that drastically narrows his reality and his divinity. Many academics have shifted to the better and more accurate understanding of this personage as a Master Craftsman, polymath, artisan and Magus.
However, Grey’s exposition of the Flood, the Nephilim and the War in Heaven, is admirable and to be commended. For those interested in this section of the book, I cannot recommend enough Ashes of Angels by Andrew Collins and Genius of the Few by the O. Brians; thanks to their ground-breaking research, these tomes are solid foundational works for much that followed. I am also delighted and relieved to note Grey’s correct adherence to the rather ‘late’ arrival of Lilith to this feast of biblical characters.
Tenets explored relating to this vital catalyst for ‘inspirited’ evolution are: sin-offerings & atonement, sacred kingship, covenanted troth, holy writ, blood taboos, the harrowing of hell, sacred mountains and the complex issues of non-duality of duality regarding father/son, mother/daughter, even between consorts.
These quite specific keys are present a vital imperative to establish any magical ingress that will inculcate any understanding of the Craft and the occult world. To that end, these primal and primary topics have, to a greater or lesser extent, long seeded many hoary tomes. Certainly my own works have focussed extensively on them, most particularly with regard to the divine feminine as primal initiatrix of, and into ‘Sacred Kingship.’ These are best exampled in a unique exploration concerning the relevance of the Gate of Horn to The Stang [‘The Stang’ published in Star Crossed Serpent II, Mandrake of Oxford 2013; see also ‘The 4th Nail and Brimstone & Treacle’ (op.cit)]. Vital as these are for any true understanding of these mysteries, they infuse other more diverse areas of relevance throughout my works especially [‘Hekate, Dark Mistress of the Soul,’ ‘Dance of the Seven Veils,’ ‘The Hand of Fatima’ & ‘The Divine Duellists’ (Tubelo’s Green Fire, Mandrake of Oxford 2011)].
Grey likewise places great emphasis upon the divine son: “as the result of the Hieros Gamos in the underworld, between the King as ruler of the dead and the Goddess who is the gate of birth and death.”
Grey moves effortlessly to draconian lore, working through the Seirim to the Bride of Yahweh, noting in particular, the symbol of his sacred office, his holy staff, being no less than the Asherah pole [See ‘The Stang’ (op. cit)]. Transformed as the gnostic premise of a Sophianic Serpent in the garden, this Grand Matrone of all Craft, is the Initiatrix of Eve, thereafter Sacred Hierodule of all initiatory magics. He also deftly alights upon her sacred girdle and charming arts. She is the Serpent seducer, the virginal initiate and Holy Bride, but also the Grande Matrone, as Mother of All, including Herself.
In my own exegesis of Lucifer, to establish the religio-political reasons for all associations of the Morning Star as Venus as Lucifer as the Devil, it was imperative to prove them erroneous. This generated an intensive exposition of divine and priestly ‘Kingship:’ Shahar is the rising/resurrected Sun, Lord of the Morning, being Lucifer, the divine son, the Torchbearer of El, holding the seat of Baal. Of relevance to this nomenclature of legerdemain in classical astronomy, particular attention was paid to the celestial misappropriations in pre and post exilic biblical history reaching back to the Anunnaki, Creation myths of the Enuma Elish, Atrahasis, of Kingu, of blood sacrifice, of thunder gods, spittle & semen, tenets that have long engaged my works. [‘It’s All In a Name, Lucifer: An Ancient Heresy & Sin Eating’ published in The Arcane Veil, 2012.]
Grey takes up and expands upon this vital catalogue of topics to further en-flesh and mold them to his own vision and fruition. Then, in his scant and rather pithy reference to these rather fundamental areas of research, Grey posits a greater divergence of opinion, so makes the following assumption:
Some pagan writers have proposed that this is part of the stealing of Venus and in doing so, played its part in the demonization of the Goddess. I find this too simplistic a reading, the extent complex of ideas around the Morning Star, or dawn light, refer to Kingship and should not be seen exclusively as an attack on the Goddess: a quite modern interpretation betraying contemporary neo-pagan concerns.
I would have to agree, that would be too simplistic a reading, hence, to address this under sight, I must quote the following:
…the King of Babylon is contemptuously portrayed as dazzling heir to a corrupt and glamorous Kingdom, ruled in the name of the Great Whore – Ishtar, Bride and Mother of God. He, the Bright Light of Dawn, is ‘son’, ‘born of’ the Morning Star – Venus, the despised symbol of Babylon itself. A King ruling through the aegis of a Goddess is the worst slight possible against Isaiah’s God (El), thus would be setting himself higher than El……… any king ruling in her name (via the rule of sovereignty) was understood to receive the latent qualities of Her mythical son (by El/Anu) aspected in the daily rising of the Sun – Shahar/Baal, the resurrection of his Father, just as Horakte was to Ra.
For myself, Lucifer will always be:
the hermits lamp, the fool’s star, the smith’s fire, all focusing upon the eternal flame, the inextinguishable Light of the Universe, ‘Lux Mundi’ – Light of the Rising Sun, having the power and might of the creator as psychopomp, guiding enraptured souls toward gnosis and enlightenment. Of course, in the absolute Platonic sense, as an emanation from the One, the Void, the ineffable Creatrix, it has no physical form, remaining an absolute principle. In the sense of a sentient angelic force prevalent within the atavistic manifestations, this is another mystery altogether. [Ibid.]
Grey concludes a similar vision.
Lucifer: Princeps should be read by anyone serious about their Craft.
Lucifer: Princeps is available in standard hardback and a bibliotheque rouge paperback edition here »