Review: Qabalah, Qliphoth and Goetic Magic – Thomas Karlsson

Qabalah, Qliphoth and Goetic Magic – Thomas Karlsson

Ajna bound.  2004-2009.  230pp. 9780972182010.

“The light side represents an ideal order in religion and myths, while the dark side represents the wild, overgrown infinity that hides beyond the limits of order” (17).

Most magickians in the West at very least know of the Qabalah, some may know of the Qliphoth -the dark mirror of the Tree of Life- but few understand and engage these forces.  Karlsson has produced a rare book dealing with these forces, very academic, well read, and balanced with personal insight and experience.

The book starts with Karlsson’s collection and interpretation of various models of the Qliphoth, presented as information not dogma.  The reader gains insight into several different how, why, and when theories for the Shells and their formation.  Along the way Karlsson is gracious enough to include citations for those looking to personally research this oft overlooked aspect of Qabalistic magick.  He covers a variety of topics related to the Qliphoth; the nature and origin of Evil, the nature and role of Satan and Lucifer, the Kings of Edom, and Solomonic Magick.

Through the presentation of the models of the Qliphoth the reader comes to understand -regardless of origin- the primal, chaotic, and potentially damaging forces they represent and Karlsson freely notes that this “dark path does not claim to be for all” (19).  He is right to make such a claim; it is rare to see such a path, so very much of the Left-Hand, expanded upon.  The path he lays out, based upon personal and group experience, truly involves the magickian turning from “the light,” away from the process of Divine Creation, and to descend into the subversive wasteland reality “beneath” our own to find power and enlightenment there.  It is a path fraught with challenges and risks, not for the faint hearted, and I am delighted to see such a work.  Books dealing with the darker paths in my experience have tended to be apologetic or sensationalizing the “awesome uberevilness” they represent, and Karlsson falls into neither of these categories.  He doesn’t shy away from the darkness of reality and he doesn’t try to sell it to horror and evil thrill seekers.

He doesn’t offer a “complete” path, as such a goal is too much for any book, and he reasonably explains that “[t]he Qliphoth above Thagirion are too abstract for the magician to be able to work with without experienced guidance” (142) and in an odd way it is nice to see a book that is willing to recognize the limitations it has as a printed medium.  The Shells and Tunnels are discussed, as well as a form of Goetic magick more appropriate for the Qliphotic magickian, all explained with a rational tone and rich visual depiction.

I definitely took a lot of theory from the book, and many resources for the next time I’m researching the Qliphoth.  It is greatly pleasing to see this book reprinted, as I wasn’t able to get it when it first came out, and after reading the book my pleasure is only increased.  Really this is a phenomenal and unique read, especially for Qabalistic magickians, or anyone taking a Left-Hand path.


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