I am really cynical about anything to do with Qabala, especially the new era variations. So I knew that I would really have my work cut out for me when I received my copy of Helen Kirkby’s The Brazen Serpent. I know Kirkby’s work fairly well– she is one of the most innovative modern occultists out there. I also know that the world doesn’t need “more” Qabala books — it needs GOOD ones.
Is it a good one? YES!
I liked this book a lot because it takes an intuitive approach and lays out concrete theory without pretense. I found none of it to have the shortcomings of other well-regarded books. Namely, it didn’t obfuscate claims underneath a layer of self-reported gnosis or a ton of glass-bead game word-play (I can think of several “big names” in the occult as a whole, and various schools of Qabalistic practice, whose books are written from those positions).
Another aspect I appreciated a whole lot is that this isn’t written for one specific market. I feel that a traditional audiences (the ones who feel that the Zohar is the first place to go on Qabalistic matters) will find refreshing insights in Helen’s work and return it again and again. And, of course, the more eclectic practitioners amongst us will find a book that is both practical as well as rigorous, both applicable in their own-going work as well as a challenge to take their own work to a deeper level.
It is incredibly thorough and I feel that it both stands well on its own, or as a compliment to more traditional study. What it isn’t, however, is fan service or a cult of personality project, which is, at the risk of repeating myself, very refreshing indeed.
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