Book Review: Magical Knowledge III - Contacts of the Adepts
I never thought a single book could contain an entire library. I never thought a single book could contain the actual workload, the depth of practical guidance that easily fills an entire lifetime as a magical adept. With the final part of Josephine McCarthy’s Magical Knowledge trilogy, however, this is exactly what you are holding in your hands.
For the traditional ritual magician the first two books of this liminal series opened gateways to a completely new type of magical technique and powerful practice. Step by step the ritual magician could learn how to move beyond the narrow confines of the magical circle and to engage with spiritual beings directly, stripped free of superficial structure and man-made overlays. Personally they taught me more than all of my magical practice during more of a decade before. Most of all, the first two books in the Magical Knowledge series taught me to rediscover and use my magical senses as the most powerful tools life or divinity had ever offered me.
Many magical traditions consider achieving what they call the ‘Magic of the Empty Hand’ as the final goal of the adept. It defines the point when the adept needs to bury, burn or give away all magical implements, paraphernalia and tools they ever created over their lifetime. It defines the point when the adept needs to return to the nakedness and plain awareness of being nothing but a human being. In this moment the serpent bites its tail and the circle is finally closed: We return to the simplicity of being empty handed and nothing but ourselves. We return to the point from where we started out years, decades or centuries ago. And nothing that we encountered or acquired on our path can stay with us, except for the marks, the memories and imprints they left upon us.
After the Great Work has been achieved in the alchemical Athanor one might think the metal oven is exactly the same as before. It is dark and cold, standing in the corner of the laboratory almost asleep just like it used to before... Yet through the touch of the contained even the container changed. And in the same way do we as magical adepts grow and learn and change over our lifetime - until we reach that point where we need to let go of all the things we thought we possessed.
It is this ancient paradigm of magic that the first two books of Magical Knowledge turn upside down. Here you start with the Magic of the Empty Hand, you start with learning that nothing of the objects, the beings, the angels and demons you encounter on your journey will ever belong to you. Not the spirit that enlivens your sword, not the guardian that watches your temple, not the warden that teaches you how to progress. They are all free spirits themselves offering their service whenever you are ready. And on your entire journey through the world of visionary magic, from beginning until end, you walk and stand empty handed, naked after all.
This is the power of the magical knowledge Josephine McCarthy has handed over to us. I am sure, it will take a few decades until its full impact will be acknowledged. Whenever something so substantial is revealed it takes time for it to find its place among the humans - to change the puzzle of life so that it can fit. I am deeply convinced that the next generation of magicians will discover these books as treasures worth entire occult libraries, wondering how true magical adepts ever were set free without them before?
And only then, once they have worked through all the foundations as well as the advanced techniques and visions, they will find the third book of the series: ‘Contacts of the Adepts’.
I hope by sharing the context above it became really obvious: There is no way you will be able to successfully work with or personally benefit from the third volume of the series without going deep and spending a substantial amount of time with the first two volumes in advance. I guess, it would be like pushing a baby into a wetsuit and pulling them 200 feet under the sea - without allowing them time to grow up first, to get to know the cold waters, to learn how to dive, to hold your breath, to appreciate the tides and to encounter all the beings that live in them.
You will understand that reading the third part of the series is indeed very hard work. It took me more than three month to get through the entire book; and that is not because I didn’t love it or I simply lacked the time. I read in the book almost every morning, three pages maybe, ten pages maximum. Reading this book is like exposing your eyes to a light that is so intense, you need to tread it gently. You are well advised to take your time.
Now, there is nothing enigmatic or mystic about why reading this book is hard work. It is actually quite obvious. Here are a few places ‘Contact of the Adepts’ will take you to as you embark on its many journeys:
- It will allow you to travel into the secret cave in the middle of the earth from where all volcanic power emerges and where it flows back into one.
- It will take you down into the Abyss where you will encounter the dwellings of many powerful beings sealed away by angels and ancestors.
- It will allow you to walk alongside the wondrous Metatron-Cube through a long stretched desert while power is veiled into shape as it flows downwards into Malkuth.
- It will help you climb the Jacob’s ladder and into the spheres of planetary beings where fate is formed and souls are beginning their journeys into life.
- It will put you at the threshold of the Abyss and show you the invisible bridge that is the angel Metatron - over which you can walk and pass into the mists of the Archon and the Aeon beyond.
Basically each place of the many this book will take you to traditionally is veiled in secrecy for good reasons: These are the places adepts used to visit for centuries in silence without leaving tracks; and now the doors are open.
Yet, these are also the places that protect themselves like no others. No encrypted language, no secret code or sigils are necessary to protect thresholds of power at this level. They simply guard themselves by being what they are: powerful, living beings that gradually filter out all conscious individuality. If you want to pass through them, you certainly can. Nothing is holding you back - even if you manage to find them and haven’t read and worked with the first two books of the series. But they will take their price. Not because of greed. But because that is how they work: they take away layer upon layer of individuality until nothing is left but pure, naked, unconditional consciousness - ready to merge back with divinity. If this sounds awesome to you and you can’t wait to get there, just be aware it means dying not only as a physical being but also as a spiritual one. If you have an appetite to truly discover what it takes to walk right into Nirvana - here is your ticket.
So this is why it is hard work reading this book, much harder than the first two of the series, and of course infinitely harder than any recently published velum bound and gold stamped Grimoire. Now, the good news is that going through all the motions and effort of reading this book will give you back something truly wonderful. What you will find yourself with once you close Magical Knowledge III is an almost complete map of the inner worlds - and more visionary work cut out for you than most of us will ever get through in an entire lifetime.
Because this is what happens when you read the visions in the book: your mind will shine a light into places that used to be veiled in darkness before. Your consciousness will be expanding literally just by reading the visions laid out in the book. These visions - even before you actively travel them, but only read about them - are teachers to your mind. They teach it about pathways and alleys through the desert, above the Abyss, underground and up in the stars. By the time you reach the back-cover of the book your consciousness will no longer be the same. It will now see trails and tracks to actual places that all lay hidden, dormant, almost dead, buried deep in sleep before.
So don’t rush to read this book and don’t rush to finish it. Go slowly, read slowly. Breath in, breathe out. Allow your mind to draw each image, each vision with the living colors that lay hidden behind your eyes. Allow for the line between magical practice and magical reading to blur and fade. Allow yourself to be taken on a journey from which you will never return.