A Review of The Angels' Message to Humanity
(Originally posted to the Enochian-l mailing list)
With much trepidation, I girded my loins, put on my armor, and went out to do battle with Jerry Schueler's latest "Enochian" tome, The Angels' Message to Humanity (Llewellyn Books, $19.95, ISBN 1-56713-605-X).
My profoundly negative opinion of Schueler's works is well known. I cannot pretend to be an unbiased judge of his ideas; but he has no one but himself to blame for this prejudice. I didn't expect much better out of this new book than his previous ones, and most of the things that irritated me in his previous works are present in this one as well.
And yet...and yet... I think he has the germ of a useful idea, here.
Both the title of the book and the back-cover blurb are entirely deceptive. The book is not about messages from the Enochian angels; nor is it about sex-magick. Mainly, it is a massive grimoire that gives step-by-step instructions for invoking every part of every elemental tablet in a logical sequence. These instructions could have been presented in one-tenth the space; they are highly redundant. But the long-form presentation does no harm, except to jack up the price of the book.
The foundation idea of the book is the "Cube of Space" formed by joining the four elemental Tablets in a ring by their left and right edges. (Schueler takes credit for this "discovery" even though it is found in the Golden Dawn materials.) The Tablet of Union forms the top of the cube. Schueler adds a "Tablet of Chaos" as the bottom; it is just the Tablet of Union, but with the names read from right to left and from bottom to top. After unfolding this cube, each Tablet is modified slightly to form a "mandala", and the magician passes through and between these mandalas along a complex path, via the 80-odd invocations listed in the book.
As Schueler conceives them, these modified versions of the Tablets are not simply mandalas; they are actually fanciful "temples", constructed on somewhat more simplistic lines than my own "Enochian Temples". Each rank of angels or god-names within each tablet forms a "tier" or level within the temple, all of them joined by steps. Each tier is related to one of the elements: Servient angels to Earth, Kerubic to Water, Lesser Angle Crosses to Air, and the Great Cross of the Tablet to Fire. One enters into each Lesser Angle through a "gate" on one of the sides of the Tablet, and passes up each tier in turn, invoking an appropriate angel and assuming its form to pass through.
Schueler has numerous cabalistic attributes he applies to various parts of the temple/mandala; apparently these were given in one of his previous books that I did not read completely. Incorporating these into the visualizations makes this process a form of pathworking; more correctly, of "rising on the planes" along various lines of ascent within each Tablet's hierarchy of beings.
In principle, I see no reason why this technique should not be an effective method of making use of the Tablets for self-initiation. The basic idea is sound. But as usual, Schueler's implementation of the idea gives a great deal about which potential users should be concerned.
My greatest concern is that for each working, he supplies an "invocation" of his own devising in the angelic language, formed by assembling words found in the Calls, and a few from no source I recognize. My feeling is that we simply do not know enough about this language to feel confident of the effects of such improvisations. Oddly, he does not use any of the 19 original Calls in any of his workings; they are not mentioned anywhere in the book, save for a brief comment in Tyson's introduction. One would think that the Calls would be a more effective adjunct to these workings than Schueler's own concoctions.
Another concern is the rather erratic fashion in which he choses which angels to use in each working, and the way he assembles their names. As an example, in those workings that involve the "Servient" angels, he only uses one of these angels, rather than all four. And rather than use the normal version of the angel's name, he makes it a "god-name" by adding a letter from the Tablet of Union -- a practice that is not mentioned in Dee's diaries. But at the same time, he does not add a letter to the name of the Kerubic angel, even though the diaries do indicate that this should be done.
In some workings, Schueler also adds an odd collection of "magickal names" taken from Casaubon, apparently without understanding their nature. In Casaubon, it is stated explicitly that these names are the names of angels assigned to particular people, possibly their "guardian angels". One of the names read belongs to Dee, another to Kelly; the length of their lives is shown next to their angels' names. Yet Schueler treats them if they were of general power.
Another curiosity is the name of the "Goddess of the Element" that he uses in each working. Three of these are anagrams of "BABALON"; the fourth appears to be a misspelled anagram of that name.
Schueler incorporates a number of quotes from Casaubon into his rituals, as mottos above the gates of the mandalas. Nearly all of these are taken from sections of the diaries outside the period when the Enochian material was given, and there is no indication in the diaries that they have any connection to or bearing on the Enochian magick. For these and other bits and pieces, it seems as if Schueler just rummaged through the book looking for "quotable quotes", and assigned them to his mandalas without any concern for their appropriateness.
On the whole, this book seems to me to present a good idea, ruined by sloppy and careless implementation. A magician who knows the Enochian material better than Schueler could easily revise any of the 88 workings to eliminate the useless pieces and to be consistent with the known methods of using the Tablet names, and have an effective means of working with the angels.
Aside from the problems detailed above, the book contains Jerry's usual set of tricks: He takes credit for other people's ideas. He tries to give authority to his own ideas by saying that "Enochian magick teaches" them, when in fact there is nothing in earlier lore that connects with the idea in question. He quotes out of context to support his ideas. And so on.
-- Ben Rowe
------------------------ Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. -- John Lennon
Josh Norton (aka Benjamin Rowe) -- firstname.lastname@example.org