is the prerogative of every critic of art, drama and literature
either to approve or disapprove, agree or disagree; it is his or
her duty to express an honest opinion and—to state facts, when
possible, in support of the opinion.
Some books reviewed have been
approved, endorsed, recommended, in this magazine. Two were
recommended in the last issue, and the recommendations have been
appreciated by a great number—a host in fact—of our members and
Now two books are to be
criticized and condemned. May the same wide and sincere
attention be paid to this expression of opinion.
Many books come to the office
of the Imperator in the course of a month which fall under very
close scrutiny. All are turned over to the Supreme Lodge Library
for all to read, like and duplicate for their own private
libraries if they wish. It is not the province nor the wish of
the Imperator to forbid the reading of any book. Thus, some
books pass by without comment.
To be able to judge every
book—even those on the varied subjects within the domain of our
Order—is a task and requires such ability that not even the
highest authority on Rosaecrucianism would claim to exercise.
But what every Rosaecrucian can do, and should do, is to condemn
pretence and fraud commercialized; and when books come under
such classification, it is our duty to warn others.
The foregoing is inspired by
a careful study and examination of what seems to be a rather
recent book (published without date) on the title page of which
“The book of the GOETIA or
the Lesser Key of Solomon the King. From numerous manuscripts in
Hebrew, Latin, French and English. BY THE ORDER OF THE SECRET
CHIEF OF THE ROSICRUCIAN ORDER. The best, simplest, most
intelligible and most effective treatise extant on CEREMONIAL
MAGIC. This book is very much easier to operate than the
so-called ‘greater’ Key of Solomon. Now for the first time made
accessible to English Adepts and students of the mysteries.”
Naturally the title attracts
attention. That is why it has so long a description and tale.
The Bible, greatest selling book of all, is dignified with a
short title. It needs no alluring promises of revelations to
make its title appeal to seekers for truth. But this book is to
attract the credulous seeker who believes and is always ready to
demonstrate that belief, that the great secrets of God, nature
and man are to be purchased for a few cents in book form.
As a matter of fact this
book, so far as misleading, false, deceptive title and inane,
absurd and preposterous contents are concerned, should be
classed with those other two obsequious monuments of fraudulent
literature, namely, “Morgan’s Exposé of Freemasonry,” and “The
Sixth and Seventh Book of Moses,” both of which nobody takes
seriously before they are read but the purchaser, and after they
are read, but by the seller who smilingly pockets the excellent
For brazen misrepresentation
no claim can hardly equal that of “By the Order of the Secret
Chief of the Rosicrucian Order.” It sounds alluring to the
uninitiated, but let it be known now that there is no “Secret”
head or “Chief” of the Rosicrucian Order. Nor would any
executive or officer of the Rosicrucian or Rosaecrucian Order
think of publishing SUCH a book or using such a title.
As far as any Rosaecrucian
matter is revealed, contained or even hinted at in the book, the
closest scrutiny fails to make any revelation at all—ah, yes,
except that in two or three of the 150 or more ridiculous
scrolls and puzzle-pictures called “symbols” and “diagrams”
there appears the Rosaecrucian symbol of the inverted triangle,
seemingly put there merely by accident by the “artist” to fill
The author not only assumes
the alluring dignity of “Secret Chief,” etc., but appropriately
hides his identity under various catches, but leaves several
means open for the inquirer to get in touch with him through the
always mysterious “Editor” of the book, in case the inquirer
proves gullible enough to wish to spend more money and “get in
touch” with the Rosicrucian Order.
But, in the popular phrase of
the day, one could safely say: “Come out into the light, Mr.
Aleister Crowley—we recognize you and your black brotherhood.”
Crowley, whose reputation in English circles, French and German
Rosaecrucian Lodges, and Egyptian records is not enviable,
admits having written some parts of the book, by discreet
footnotes. But a careful comparison of the language and the
illustrations in this book with those in the London publication
Called “The Equinox” (bearing the design of the Rose and Cross),
which are accorded certain space on our Library shelf, show that
the same master hand was concerned with the writing, editing and
illustrating of this book. For while the illustrations have the
same frenzied, puzzle-diagrammatic scrolls and are meaningless,
the language is just as unprintable in good literature and just
as degrading as in those London publications which forever
prevented Crowley from joining or having anything to do with the
A.M.O.R.C. anywhere in the world.
No true Rosaecrucian, no
seeker for truth, no clean, moral minded person will read or
encourage the sale of such a book.
[ . . . ]
But why do otherwise sensible
and rational people buy books which claim to be the “Rites,” the
“Mysteries” or the “Secrets” of a long established, well
guarded, secret organization? Perhaps only men like Crowley,
Jennings and Clymer, with their well-filled coffers can tell—but
they will not!
American Rosae Crucis, October 1916.