1979 & 1989 E.V.
Following the original review written is the review of a later edition of Mr. Godwin's book. The honest reviews were written with playful, teasing humour for I was already well acquainted with the author and we had been exchanging long and humourous letters for some time before these reviews had been published. David appreciated the sense of humour exercised, however, certain members of the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o., as is characteristic of them, missed the humour. They believed I was insulting David Godwin, which they themselves tried to do in earnest at a later date, and attempted to use these reviews to turn him against me. Amusingly, this was the very same thing that a Caliphate inept had falsely accused me of doing - claiming that I had tried to turn him against his "friends" when in fact I had only been kind enough to give him my personal and professional opinion of the Caliphate gang, his "friends" who have not spoken well of him, as a prelude to corresponding. It seemed only fair, the honest thing to do, however, genuine fairness and honesty is alien to the "fraternity" that falsely calls itself the Ordo Templi Orientis. Be that as it may, each time this book is revamped it is improved immeasurably ... and I am not just saying that because I consider David Godwin my friend. He knows how merciless I can be in voicing my professional opinions, and I know how merciless he can be. Honesty and all other aspects of genuine fraternity is something that both he and I understand.
I have just had a bad dinner and I have got to take it out on somebody. However, I cannot take it out on Mr. Godwin. While I think it is an exaggeration to call the book "A Complete Guide to Cabalistic Magick", and while it is certainly not great literature - and of course I am a very capable judge in such matters, ain't you read what I rote? - and while the book is not without its faults - and I am an expert in the matter of faults, ain't you read what I rote? - the Encyclopedia does add a bit more information to Aleister Crowley's Sepher Sephiroth, which is included at the end of Mr. Godwin's book.
One of the virtues of this book is its unpretentiousness. Mr. Godwin straight out says that he does not belong to a secret fraternity, the contents of the book are not great mystical secrets that have been nowhere else revealed, but simply that the book is a collection of words, their definitions and their numerical equivalents that he had originally collected for his personal research and was later encouraged to organize and present in book form for the use and benefit of others. He opens with some suggestions as to the usefulness, practical application and implication of gematria, apparently having as little love for the "game" of numerology as I have. Furthermore, Mr. Godwin pays the devil his due by giving Aleister Crowley the credit he so justly deserves.
However, Mr. Godwin, on page xxix of the preface wrote:
"But beware of errors and double-check Crowley's addition [in Sepher Sephiroth], for his work is not always 100% accurate. While on the subject, I feel I must disavow the cheap anti-Semitic sentiments expressed by Crowley in his preface to Sepher Sephiroth. In part, this defamation refers to an unfortunate essay ('The Jew') by the English explorer Sir Richard Burton, who should have known better."
Taking the last thing first, Mr. Godwin was obviously "covering his ass", as my Grandpap used to say, by taking the easy way rather than to set about to explain [if indeed he knew better at the time] that A.C. often spoke his mind truthfully and yet had a habit of not only expressing every possible point of view in the course of time, but in both praising and condemning everything and everyone, pointing out faults as well as virtues, as he perceived them, and although he did sometimes make anti-Semitic remarks, usually with tongue tucked firmly in cheek to tease, he had as much praise for the Jewish people, and, after all, it should be noted that he praised and heavily relied upon the Qabalah, which is Jewish mysticism. [The remarks made, in this case, were not Crowley's sentiments, but rather those of anti-Semitic idividuals that he was relaying with heavy sarcasm.] As for Crowley's inaccuracy at times, well, he was only human, which I trust is all that Mr. Godwin meant to imply, and some of those mistakes might be blamed upon those who contributed to the final product as well as to the printer. And the same caution should be applied to Mr. Godwin's book for we find on preface page xv, for instance, "ABRN, ruin", which is supposed to come to the numeration of 57. Now throughout the book English letters are used for Hebrew for the sake of simplicity and here A = Aleph, 1 + B = Beth, 2 + R = Resh, 200 + N = Nun, 50, which of course comes to the numeration of 253. Quite obviously it should have been ABDN, the Daleth, whose numerical value is 4, mistaken for a Resh. And interestingly, the mistake has a kind of odd echo in Sepher Sephiroth at the end of Mr. Godwin's book, on page 9, where the Hebrew word is erroneously translated as "Rim" rather than "Ruin". Oh why, oh why is everyone [except me] so imperfect!
Likewise on preface page xxi he tells us that "Grandpa" might be translated into Hebrew as "ab gaqen" or "AB GQN" [Aleph Beth Gimel Qoph Nun - please see the Key at the bottom of this page], the numeration of which is 156, and those who know that 156 is the numeration of BABALON in both Hebrew and Greek might, while scratching his or her head, gladly accept that "fact" given offhand. But don't. According to my vast knowledge of Hebrew [i.e. the Hebrew-English, English-Hebrew dictionaries in my library], AB GQN should be AB ZQN [Zayin instead of Gimel], the numerical value of which is 160. Fortunately nothing of importance hinges upon the proper spelling or numeration of the Hebrew word for "Grandpa". [Sorry. My awful dinner is having its effect.]
And looking at preface page xvi we find that "88 = PCh = Pach = 'Danger'." Likewise "Pach" is so translated on page 240, however, again according to that vast brain annex called a "library", I find the word translated not as "danger" but rather as "trap, snare; plate of metal, tinware", and while the first two words of this definition can mean basically the same thing, "danger", implied in the context of the preface, there is a point I wish to make here. David Godwin's book is arranged about as orderly as possible for simple reference, although I would have liked to have seen some references as to the source of his entries, and a good deal of information is added to that given in Sepher Sephiroth, but since nobody [with one possible exception, of course!] is perfect, it is necessary to double-check Mr. Godwin's work for correct spelling, definition and numerical equivalent before using the information gleaned from the pages of his book, just as it seems necessary upon consulting Crowley's book herein included. So it seems, after all, one cannot dispense with a library in favour of one book that has it all, because other books are needed to check that one book for errors! Ah well...
And finally, as I am about to close this review by saying that although I cannot say this is a great book, it is better than I had expected, useful, and I shall keep his book next to my copy of The Qabalah of Aleister Crowley, there is one final thing I must, by the dictates of my True Will, make mention of in regards to what he wrote upon page 351 in reference to Aleister Crowley, to wit:
"...it should also be pointed out that he was without doubt a pompous ass, drug-addicted, obsessional, possibly sociopathic, and at least severely neurotic if not 'quite mad.' Unfortunately, he found at the end of his life that all of the energy he had expended in his attempts to follow the Path (and to promulgate The Book of the Law and usher in the new aeon) have ended in nothing."
Personally I resent being called "nothing", and what of all of those individuals and groups out there attempting to carry on Crowley's work and be as Thelemic as possible, not to mention the charlatans and pseudo-o.t.o.s? What of all the artists and musicians, not to mention the men and women of science, as well as authors who have been influenced by Crowley and his work? What of people like David Godwin himself, who most probably would not have written his book, his one claim to fame, if it had not been for Crowley's work? Ended in nothing? What a silly thing to say of a World Teacher only little more than a mere forty-three years after his death and only eighty-seven years into the new ĉon that will last for thousands of years.
And, without a doubt, almost everyone is "a pompous ass" from time to time, and here, anyway, Mr. Godwin obviously accepted as pomposity blunt honesty upon Crowley's part, about others and about his own virtues, ignoring all the times Crowley referred to himself an ass.
Drug-addicted? For a relatively brief period of his life, to heroin, and then he beat the addiction, the drug proving to be very tricky, and he mastered it. The proof that he was not the burned out drug fiend so many claim he was is that he lived to be seventy-two years old, struggled valiantly to make some sense of the nonsense coming from the Pasadena, California Agape Lodge of the O.T.O. and try to get things in order while being separated by an ocean and poverty stricken, designed and supervised a very tempermental artist in the painting of the seventy-eight cards of the Thoth Tarot Deck, one of the finest pack of tarot cards ever produced, wrote The Book of Thoth, etc., etc.
Obsessional? In a manner of speaking, but not in a negative sense. Every great man is obsessed with an ideal. Abraham Lincoln was obsessed with the ideal of the Union of the States and the making of a powerful nation. Crowley was obsessed with the ideal of educating humanity and leading it out of the bonds of religious, emotional and intellectual slavery and on to the Next Step in human evolution. However, "obsessional"? No. Is that even a legitimate word? Maybe I need a new dictionary. [Got one! It is.]
Sociopathic, severely neurotic, "quite mad"? I must inquire as to where Dr. Godwin obtained his degree in psychology. Was Crowley "aggressively antisocial"? No. People who knew him found him to be quite charming and throughout his work, the very nature of his work, proves that he had a deep love for humanity, which was also the cause of a great deal of disappointment as people seldom live up to their potential, and this disappointment often, quite naturally, led to periods of anger and frustration. Furthermore, bluntly honest statements as Crowley was accustomed to making, casually throwing tact and diplomacy aside, often with tongue-in-cheek humour taken much too seriously by the individuals being teased, is often misinterpreted as hostility. [David, why I oughtta.....!] And certainly A.C. did not suffer from a neurosis for his nervous system seemed quite supurb, he was a very organized man, the only anxieties discernable were over money, or rather the lack of it, understandable in his circumstances and common to most of us, and possibly those momentary anxieties that spoiled his experiments with the homosexual aspects of "sex magick" - anxiety because, although sexual stimulation can be ... ah ... stimulating no matter what, Crowley was not by nature a "homosexual". And we come back to "obsessions" as another sign of neurosis, but Crowley did not seem particularly "obsessional" in any general way.
Okay. We will take Mr. Godwin off the hook now. After all, he did begin speaking of Crowley on page 351 by saying that
"he was a brilliant, charismatic man with a great deal of influence on many aspects of modern life as well as occultism",
and it is my understanding that at the time Mr. Godwin originally put his book together he knew quite a bit less about Crowley and his work than he now knows plus he was at the time going with the popular flow of uninformed or downright hostile opinion, and that David Godwin is retiring to a Thelemic monastery where he will repent his sacrilegious statements about Our Father Aleister Crowley, being beaten daily with a used dildo and forced at night to sleep on dirty sheets in the wet spot left by a designated Thelemic priest and priestess after the sacred rite of "communion".
[1997 E.V. NOTE: Since the writing of the this review of Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia, a third and greatly improved edition was published in 1994 E.V., correcting errors and the statements about Aleister Crowley according to his new and better informed understanding of the man and his work. I am also told that a further improved fourth edition is in the works. As for the supposed anti-Semitic remarks attributed to A.C., see elsewhere on this site.]
[Encyclical Letter, Vernal Equinox 1991 E.V.]
In the Vernal Equinox 1991 E.V. Encyclical Letter I reviewed the first edition of this book, and while I found it to be useful and informative I did not quite approve of the entire work. The few errors I found were understandable in a book such as this, but the remarks about Aleister Crowley were quite unacceptable:
"he was without doubt a pompous ass, drug-addicted, obsessional, possibly sociopathic, and at least severely neurotic if not 'quite mad.'"
And so forth. As I concluded in that first review:
"it is my understanding that at the time Mr. Godwin originally put his book together he knew quite a bit less about Crowley and his work than he now knows and he was at the time going with the popular flow of uninformed or downright hostile opinion, and that David Godwin is retiring to a Thelemic monastery where he will repent his sacrilegious statements about Our Father Aleister Crowley, being beaten daily with a used dildo and forced at night to sleep on dirty sheets in the wet spot left by a designated Thelemic priest and priestess after the sacred rite of 'communion'."
Well, I am happy to report that David has apparently returned from the monastery better and brighter than ever, virtually a changed man, and to prove that he has found enlightenment the above statements made in the first edition of his book along with a few others of a similar nature have been removed. Furthermore, Mr. Godwin's preface in the first edition contained the following statement:
"I feel I must disavow the cheap anti-Semitic sentiments expressed by Crowley in his preface to Sepher Sephiroth. In part, this defamation refers to an unfortunate essay ('The Jew') by the English explorer Sir Richard Burton, who should have known better."
This has been amended in the new edition to read as follows:
"I feel I must say something about what appear to be cheap anti-Semitic sentiments expressed by Crowley in his preface to Sepher Sephiroth. In part, this defamation refers to an unfortunate essay ('The Jew') by the English explorer Sir Richard Burton, who, with his Sufi training, should have known better. As for Crowley, there is always some doubt as to whether he is serious. Elsewhere, he has praised Jews for having exceptional and admirable qualities. Perhaps the preface here was meant to satirize Burton and the readiness of the English upper middle class to believe the worst about the Jews (and just about everyone else). With Crowley, one never knows. In any event, it would have been dishonest to expurgate the preface from the rest of the work."
There are, of course, still errors to be found. The author himself pointed out some that he had discovered:
"'zayin' in its spelled out form (ZIN; Zayin Yod Nun-final) was not entered into either the Hebrew section or the numerical section. ABIV was left off of ChVRM ABIV [Hebrew characters used in original] in the numerical section (under number 273, but not under number 833). On page 505, '6T' should be 6 Leo [symbol used]. That's all I've found, but I'm sure there must be more. In the reprint, I did manage to add a bit of new information about Shekinah and Metatron, plus one new word, avir, 'ether.'"
I found a few errors myself. On page 46 "Bamratztag" is incorrectly spelled in Hebrew, a Shin where a Tzaddi should be. Such errors as this are more likely the fault of the printer than the author. I also considered it an error to mention the "golem" in his book but then fail to enter the word in the appropriate sections. F.Y.I. the Hebrew spelling is GVLM, Gimel Vau Lamed Mem-final, and its numeration is 79.
On page xxxii of the Introduction the number 431 should obviously be 43. And so it goes. However, I found very few errors, and the author himself advises the reader to always double check such things, whether referring to a work by Aleister Crowley or himself, for after all, one is only human.
The earlier edition of Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia sold for $15.00, but that was some time ago and in my opinion the latest revised and enlarged edition is well worth the higher price that is on the book today. Its cover is more attractive, the writing has been refined and greatly improved upon, and more importantly the book is better organized and now contains the Hebrew spelling in Hebrew rather than the often confusing approximations using English characters. The new edition is also handsomely illustrated and it still contains the complete text of Sepher Sephiroth - wonder how the Caliphate thinks about that?
"Master" Nanivartante [see The Sword of Horus] would probably disagree with me, but in my opinion David Godwin's book is well worth adding to one'slibrary.
[Encyclical Letter, Samhain 1994 E.V.]
[1997 E.V. NOTE: There is a chance that Mr. Godwin will revamp his book yet again for a fourth and further improved edition.]