Review: Maat Magick

Self Realization

Posted by Nathan Bjorge on April 19, 2000 @ 11:05 AM
from the vulture-culture dept.

Maat Magick
by Nema
Samuel Weiser, Maine: 1995. 256 pages.
ISBN 0877288275

I wanted to write a review of this excellent book, because Maat Magick is the sort of quiet movement that a lot of people are going to unjustly ignore, and/or feel the need to make ignorant criticisms of. We tend to be quick to talk about the need to develop one’s own system, but when Nema does just that (and well!), we can be just as quick to disdain it. A lot of stupid things have been said about Nema’s ideas over the years, and I want to do my bit here to set the record straight. This is perhaps more then a little because I used to be one of those critics, back in the days of yore. So pardon me while I play Saul made Paul for the next few paragraphs, because I’ve just read a good book.

Maat Magick was published in 1995, but is the quintessence of over 20 years of magical work by its author, Margaret Ingalls or Soror Nema. To understand the roots of this book, therefore, requires us to cast our comprehension back to the mid 70’s. In those days the Thelemic egregore was just beginning to emerge from the eclipse of Saturnus and become, really for the first time, an actual mass movement. One tip of this iceberg was in Cincinnati, where Nema was involved in an active magical community. One night in 1974 she had a vision, and that vision became the text of a new class A style reception document: Liber Pennae Praenumbra or, the Book of the Preshadowing of the Feather.

For some, the idea of people daring to have new revelations in the style of Liber AL and the Holy Books is a problem. Prophecy and Revelation are always open to abuse. This can be as harmless and annoying as having someone wave around a book with the gods saying stupid things in it. This can be as disgusting as so-called spiritual teachers ‘channeling’ messages to control and exploit their followers. Nevertheless, true spirituality requires the cultivation of a personal relationship with the divine, and this requires the channels of prophecy be open to all. Ultimately, I believe it comes down to a choice between Thelema being an ever renewing (and ever dangerous!) paradigm of magicians at play, or a cult of Crowley savagely blocking with its enforced mediocrity the very initiations its founder intended. This does not mean that someone’s sludge masquerading as class A can’t be respectfully slammed. It’s up to them to show its value, (as well as the reader to find its value). It also doesn’t mean that someone’s reception document will necessarily be appropriate to others. The complex relationship between personal subjectivity and any revelation is, well, complex. So then, what does Nema’s revelation say?

It does not, as occasionally stated, proclaim that the Aeon of Horus has prematurely ended so as to make way for the Aeon of Maat. Quite the contrary, actually. It is explicit that the Aeon of Horus is still in full swing. So why Maat? The major school of Nema interpretation, following Kenneth Grant, is that the Aeon of Maat runs somehow concurrently with that of Horus. Praenumbra doesn’t really state this, however, nor have I ever been satisfied that this is the best way of describing the phenomenon. My personal key to this puzzle was given to me one day quite innocuously by Frater HaLayL, who noted that as magicians it should be possible to access any Aeon’s formulae at any time. It then flashed upon me that I was being too clumsy and technical in trying to figure Maat magick out. An act of Magick is not like an event in physics. It is rather more like a work of art. (This analogy may be an identity.) The tools for evaluating and examining one or the other are radically different. In particular, an act of Magick, like a work of art, can be interpreted in many different ways. My interpretation, therefore, is that Maat Magick is about accessing the power of Thelemic eschatology. Most, if not all, religious traditions have a conception of a kind of totalizing future moment. A last judgement, the coming of a new messiah or future Buddha, a time when the tradition's mission will be completed, renewed, or transcended. In Thelema our future goal is the aeon of Maat, the aeon which 2000 years (now 1900 years) hence will replace and complete the process of the aeon of Horus. However, as magicians, we are not entirely limited by linear time. Therefore we can access the power of this potential future age and use it in the present, perhaps even paradoxically assisting this future age to come to be. This, for me, is what Maat Magick is about.

Praenumbra was by no means unique as a new Thelemic reception document, or even the first of its kind. (Parsons had received The Book of Babalon a generation earlier.) Yet somehow it became the most famed. Of all the new class A documents from this period it was the one that everyone was still talking about years later. Kenneth Grant’s promotion of it in his books was a factor in this, but the real reason was that people who read it found the book of value. It was a constructive and coherent reception document that had interesting, important and useful things to say about Magick. Never really widely published, but instead quietly and widely circulated, the text receives its due finally as presented in Maat Magick.

As the title indicates, however, and as my review so far has not, Maat Magick is about far more than pumping the message of a particular scripture. Although the central section of the book (only about 20 pages) is devoted to a discussion of Liber Pennae P., the majority of the text is a collection of essays and rituals by Nema, presenting in overview a complete system of Magick. Nema’s own banishing rituals, HGA invocation, and a magical vortex rite are here, as well as a bunch of other useful and original spells. The essays are organized into a discussion of ten levels of ‘density’ of the universe, corresponding to the ten sephirotic layers. So, for example, the level 9 essay is about how to do astral work, and the level 6 essay is a discussion of the HGA. All of the writing is very direct and straightforward.

This brings up a very important feature of the book: its deceptively simple style. I say deceptively, because the light prose to a casual reader can at times act to conceal solid understanding of Magick. I must admit that this is one of the most unpretentious books I’ve read in a long time. This is refreshing, as humility is not a virtue often emphasized in modern Magick.

I highly recommend this unpretentious, experienced, and very wise book.

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The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.

Re: Review: Maat Magick
by Michael Sanborn on Wednesday April 19, @02:05PM

I often think of Nema's work, particularly Maat magick, as being the perfect antidote to Aleister Crowley's limitations. It encourages open-mindedness, self-examination, and a commitment to the truth, even when the truth isn't flattering.

(Old occult codger voice:) I remember back in the old days, before you could even get Maat Magick in a paperback book, yep, back when we had to pass around beat-up copies of The Cincinnati Journal of Ceremonial Magick just to work with the stuff. An' we knew we had stumbled on to somethin' special, too!

Seriously, there was a group of us in New Orleans practicing Maat magick around '85-'87, doing pretty much every Maatian practice in The Cincinnati Journal, which is about 90% of the stuff that eventually made it into Maat Magick. And to this day, I count it amongst the most powerful, transformative, and meaningful material I've ever worked with.

One of the things I really appreciated about it was that it seemed to provide a bridge between Crowley and the Fourth Way teachers (such as Gurdjieff; a bridge that I currently see being provided by A. H. Almass). I said as much in my one fan letter to Nema. Her response was something like, “How nice. What's the Fourth Way?” So I guess it wasn't intentional.

There's a lot of original Thelemic work that seems as if it's driven just by a desire to do something new and interesting with the symbol set. I experienced Nema's Maatian magick as being grounded in genuine insight, and constructed in such a way as to communicate that insight with great effectiveness.

Re: Review: Maat Magick
by <Simon> on Friday April 21, @10:01PM

(old occult codger voice) or Mandragore…

I have to agree with you on this book. I've also worked this current for years. I was extremely pleased to see the book come out: now everyone who didn't know what they were missing has access to this material, if they so will.

You can pick it up at my bookstore, Ibis Books, this link leads to books by Nema at our US site, this link to books by Nema at the UK site.

Re: Review: Maat Magick
by Mordecai Shapiro on Thursday April 20, @12:15PM

An excellent review by Mr. Bjorge which is sure to interest many people in the phenomenon of “Maatianism”. One reason that Liber PP has had such effect is that it is actually a piece of good writing. Unfortunately, most of the received “fourth chapters” of the Thelemic movement are rather turgid disasters of composition (see the “Book of Coming Forth by Night” for an example of this) which as a rule impress only follower-types. Liber PP on the other hand has inspired a number of creative and individualistic reactions (for instance, the marvelous Maat Mass of our own Frater Xnoubis and Soror MS, or was it SM?). One quibble with Nathan (of course!): it isn't necessary to historicize aeons into the standard 2000 year paradigm (which perhaps only dates to Joachim of Flora after all). Whether they run concurrently or consecutively is pretty much up to the sentencing judge. Maatreya lives!

Fra. HaLayL

Re: Review: Maat Magick
by Nathan W. Bjorge on Friday April 21, @12:57AM

I wouldn't go too hard on Aquino's reception document. Don Webb has a really excellent article on the subject called 'Concerning the Book of Coming Forth by Night' on the Temple of Set main website. Highly recommended.

Speaking of Maitreya, it seems that whenever the central asians would invade China and set themselves up as a ruling dynasty, they would endorse Buddhism as the state religion, as Buddhism had the concept of a 'world conquerer'. The idea they were trying to communicate was that their karma was so perfect that they were entitled to be emperor. They would also invariably set up Buddhist shrines with Maitreya statues in them whose features looked suspiciously like their own.


Frater Ama Omnia ('Love Everything')

Re: Review: Maat Magick
by Michael Sanborn on Friday April 21, @09:35AM

The Webb article strikes me as thoughtful. More thoughtful, really, than The Book of Coming Forth by Night itself. It's also good to see that their organization undergoes self-examination and restructuring.

But I have to say: I first ran across the Temple of Set back when they delivered a rather arch review of Equinox (III, 10) to every OTO body, along with an information packet regarding themselves. I was quite intrigued at first. But that all ended as soon as I read TBoCFbN, and I've never looked back.

Re: Review: Maat Magick
by Mordecai Shapiro on Sunday April 23, @01:13PM

93 all,

I certainly never intended to dis Setians or even Maj. Aquino, but just to indicate my own literary opinion. It is a matter of taste after all. Still, I don't find that most “fourth chapters” come anything close to the literary quality of Liber CCXX and I thought that Liber PP deserved special commendation because I consider it quite well-written. As I say, this is all a question of taste, I've heard many people express the opinion that the Book of the Law is turgid and poorly-written. I don't share that view, but it doesn't bother me. I also hope that lovers of the BOCFBN aren't bothered by my opinion.

93 93/93 Mo

Re: Webb's article on BoCFbN
by <Marfiza> on Sunday April 23, @02:00PM

I found the section of Webb's article containing this quote especially interesting: “If one treats the book as a Divine Communication like Right Hand Path religions treat their scriptures, one is lost.” – “the book”, in this case, meaning any “Communicated Text”. His attitude toward the Setian received text is a healthy one which it might behoove some of us to adopt toward our own received text.

For all of that, though, much of his writing still rings with the kind of pretensiousness I find irritating in any magico-religious system, ours included, notwithstanding the stated requirement for “a sense of humor” in aspirants to their Adepthood. I think I'll stay put for now, thanks.\

Re: Review: Maat Magick
by Aion 131 on Sunday April 23, @11:44PM

Mr. Bjorge's excellent review has spurred me to post an interview I did with Nema about Maat Magick when she came to Seattle. Look for it elsewhere on Beast Bay.

The work outlined in Maat Magick is ever expanding and any interested in exploring the 'Double Current ' of Horus/Maat further should check out the Horus/Maat Lodge:

I personally have been working with Maat Magick since the mid 1970s and found it at lease an amazing 'turbo-thruster' to 93 magicks- but in fact, much more as well.

One specific comment- M. Bjorge mentions, in reference to MM that “An act of Magick is not like an event in physics.” here I kinda disagree- it is very much an act of *quantum* physics- this also explaining how the energies of ALL Aeons are available to all magi who wish to work 'outside the box' here and now. If all time (whatever that may be) is simultaneous, as quantum physics declares, then Maat is NOW as are all other aeonic energies….

Io Pan! Ipsos!


Re: Review: Maat Magick
by Michael Sanborn on Wednesday April 26, @12:50PM

Many magicians may feel that an act of magick is like an event in physics, but I doubt that many physicists feel that way.\\
I think it was Ken Wilbur who pointed out that spiritual people generally don't do themselves a favor when they adopt scientific models for their experiences, because scientific paradigms are always in flux.

Instead of appropriating language from another discipline that requires many years of hard work to properly understand, I think we occultists would be better off working hard for many years refining our own language. Which is not to say that the scientific paradigm of the month can't offer some beautiful metaphors for magical experience . . .

Re: Review: Maat Magick
by <Violet> on Monday April 24, @02:48PM


I checked out Nema's book some time ago after having had a very powerful experience with ISIS during a ritual and a vivid astral encounter with the Hall of Maat.

My thought's at first inspection upon Nema's work was that I respected her vision and the Class A status of the channeling. Like Nathan, I concur that Thelema would be a dead edifice if it did nothing in the way of supporting the individual attainments of its magicians and the invention of their own Word, in accordance with the Word of the Magus and of the Aeon.

I think that Nema's work does this but I have to say that my first reading of it left me a bit confused. The Class A material enclosed therein is insightful and inspirational. No doubt, this is why K.G. found it useful to support her in further promoting and promulgating this material. However, the inclusion of an entire formulary of spells, incantations, and rituals designed to be a cohesive system, left me with an odd flavor in my mouth. I said to myself… “is this just way too much?” I thought that maybe she was trying to convey herself a self-styled Magus after one very successful invocation. :-)

Recent online discussions have brought this book back to my mind after I dismissed it sometime ago. Some more in the know than me (knowing Nema personally) have articulated that her book is merely a glimpse, watered down and “mainstreamed” for public appeal… and that the real body of the work is extremely cohesive and well-worth the investigation. Hmmmmm. I got intrigued. These recent discussions of her work and this book “Maat Magick” are making more sense then. Yes, if the public version is packaged for a general audience, but the “real work” (unpublished) is of a different callibre, I can understand why she might have won the affections of those more closely affiliated with her. I'm interested to see this more “real” work…

Regarding the “Current” or Aeon of Maat… my own meditations upon ATU XX – THE AEON have done more than make me a believer in the “coming Aeon” of Maat. What I see is something quite different in the card.

At first glance, you see the Child, Harpocrates (Hoor-Pa-Kraat) standing self-revealed admist the form of Ra-Hoor-Khuit (in the background) and Nuit overshadowing. The winged disk of Hadit in the lower-center portion of the card. Now, upon closer examination, it becomes obvious that the figure of Nuit is bent over the wings of Hadit, forming the glyph of the astrological sign of LIBRA. The Child seems to be emerging from this union (Nuit-Hadit-RaHoorKhuit).

Now, look again…

What has been the common explanation of the appearance of the LIBRA symbol in the card has been articulated as the foreshading of the Aeon of Maat which is to come. See Crowley, _The Book of Thoth_, pg 116.

Now, Maatians have articulated that this Aeon of Maat, it's linear inception being at some time “in our future” is available via its 'magickal current' concurrently (much like how we view the 93 current, I guess) and, with time and space not being flat, but curved, and holographic, all things that ever “was, is, will be, is here now…”. This makes some sense. BUT

What IS the Hall of Maat?

Is she not Libra, Adjustment, Justice, Truth? Is she not Lamed? Is she not part of the secret formula and the Key of it All? (The Hall of Mysteries wherein the Truth is Revealed???)

I see Maat more as like a time capsule (like the Egg depicted in the card)…

The fact that this card replaces the card of the old aeon… the card called “Judgement” is relevant.

The Hall of Maat is the Double Hall of Maat, or two truths. She is at once the Hall of Wisdom or Learning, as well as the Hall of Equidistance… all things being equal = naught. Hence there is no real expression time, since there is no real distance, in the Hall of Maat. Yet we know that Saturn (being Lord of Time) is exalted therein.. and that it takes Time (linear execution) to _experience_ Life and the learnings therein (hey, I almost said “yearnings therein”) ;-).

IMO, Time is but a vast illusion within the Hall of Maat, yet it is here that we perform our rituals, our invocations, our prayers, as we come to pass throughit, knowing the true nature of ourselves (leading through the Abyss – see also the Babe in the Egg depicted in the card).

That's why she's also called the Hall of Initation.

The current aeon reverses that charge of the previous one wherein Death was seen as the final gateway leading past the “the Door” (interesting, if you read the Egyptian Book of the Dead… the Initiate must name all the parts of the Door (Daleth) to pass through the Hall of Maat – and who but is the ruler of Libra, but Venus (the Empress, attributed to Daleth=door).

Therefore, the gateway through life is death and the through death is life… “no dread hereafter.” (compare THE AEON to previous versions “JUDGEMENT”).

To me, then, Maat is not necessarily a “Current.” Nor would I, if you asked me personally, articulate it as much as a “future” Aeon. (Although who knows what might happen in 2000 years?) But I would absolutely consider it be an essential part of Reality… the Nature of the Universe… Something which we exist “within” or “inside of.”

Seeing the Aeon Card in this manner has made me more aware of “timelessness” and the ever-present-moment, something which I think is inherent in the card, and maybe that's what the Maatians are referring to. But then that would always have been so… since the “dawn of time.”

I think the great sages throughout time have always been aware of this… and that's what our mysteries are based upon (this knowledge).

I, for one, am greatly impressed with this Card; I feel that it revolutionizes common impression of the Tarot and often goes without the full attention it deserves, with common interest in the Thelemic community being placed upon the Emperor-Star correspondence.

As far as “support” of Nema's work, I think that THE AEON card, upon careful meditation, provides some congruent reflection upon the validity of her work.

Love is the law, love under will.


Re: Review: Maat Magick
by <Teitan> on Sunday May 28, @11:34AM

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

I first saw this book and a giggle burst out, I was a standoffish Mottaite and Ma'at was such a ridiculous concept in my eyes. Within months I found myself growing and taking a second look at Ma'at Magick and even Kenneth Grant. I had a vision the day I picked up the book. The vision had very strong Ma'atian imagery. I had not read the book before, having only looked at it. The vision and Nema continue to affect me to this day.
As a result of this vision I began to become a part of the Typhonian current. I recieved a very important text that discussed nonmobile becoming before having read the Wisdom of S'lba and had much Typhonian Imagery.
I am glad to have found this book and Nema and suggest that everyone should find it as well, not simply read it.


Re: Review: Maat Magick
by <Teitan> on Sunday May 28, @11:35AM

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

I first saw this book and a giggle burst out, I was a standoffish Mottaite and Ma'at was such a ridiculous concept in my eyes. Within months I found myself growing and taking a second look at Ma'at Magick and even Kenneth Grant. I had a vision the day I picked up the book. The vision had very strong Ma'atian imagery. I had not read the book before, having only looked at it. The vision and Nema continue to affect me to this day.
As a result of this vision I began to become a part of the Typhonian current. I recieved a very important text that discussed nonmobile becoming before having read the Wisdom of S'lba and contained much Typhonian philosophy.
I am glad to have found this book and Nema and suggest that everyone should find it as well, not simply read it.


Re: Review: Maat Magick
by Analyzah Druim on Friday June 09, @04:27PM

Very much enjoyed the comments on the book. I agree wholeheartedly!! The judgement awaits..and so does the croc!

by <someone> on Saturday July 07, @01:16PM

I was wondering what some of this stuff was about.. and I saw this picture.. So if N'aton sorta looks like David Bowie, why not just go straight to that brilliant source?

Love :-)

a huge Bowie Fan