If you have drawn pentagrams in the air and a circle of energy around yourself, chances are it is thanks to Francis Israel Regardie. His book (originally a four volume set) The Golden Dawn, has inspired Ceremonial Magicians, witches, Wiccans, and all manner of magical people since first published in the late 1930s.
He led a varied and interesting life, and through it all, seems to embody what kind of adept many of us aspire to be. His circle of magical friends, associates, and successors includes many of the movers and shakers of modern occultism, across the globe.
He worked briefly as secretary to Aleister Crowley. He had written the Beast after reading one of his many books, and joined Crowley in France. While Crowley seemed to be a large influence in Regardie’s life, it doesn’t appear that Regardie received much magical training, and they parted ways. He edited several of Crowley’s books, often with very necessary comment, in particular Gems From the Equinox.
Regardie corresponded with Dion Fortune after she read his book The Tree of Life. She had been a member of the Golden Dawn, and of course, went on to found the Fraternity of the Inner Light. She wrote several foundational books on Magick, and the Horned God Invocation ICS uses in our Sabbats is based on her “Great God Pan” hymn.
He was initiated into the Stella Matutina, which was a successor of the original Golden Dawn. While its rituals and practices clearly made a huge impression on him, he was dissatisfied with the leaders and felt the information was too good to be kept secret, or to wither away with the secret Order. So he left, and published many of the Order documents. Yes, he had taken an oath not to do any such thing, but thank the Gods he did! The impact this big book has had on Magick, the Occult, Witchcraft, Paganism, et al. is inestimable.
He trained in Chiropractic, and Psychology, which after serving in the US Army in World War II, became his profession. He continued to write, edit, and practice magick. Many of his writings represent the psychological explanation of magical practice, making it seem less supernatural, and more of a benefit for all who put the time and effort into it.
He initiated Chic and Tabatha Cicero, who have written some of the best books on the Golden Dawn available. They also head the Order and craft incredible tools, and accessories, which they make accessible for practitioners like us, which was impossible in the recent past. They have truly carried on Regardie’s tradition of excellence.
In LA, he trained and initiated Dr. Christopher Hyatt who started Falcon Press, headed a branch of the Golden Dawn, as well as the Thelemic Order and Temple of the Golden Dawn, later the Thelemic Golden Dawn. This was co-founded and headed by Dr. Hyatt’s initiate David Cherubim, who was also a prolific writer , and a Thelemic and magical musician.
Grady McMurtry, who rescued the OTO from the grave and made it the grand Order it is today, was also a friend of Israel Regardie’s. Grady had known Crowley during WWII, been initiated by him, and took over OTO after finding out about Crowley’s successor’s (Karl Germer) death. It is interesting to note, Regardie had sent McMurtry a “get well after your heart attack” letter only six days before his own, and fatal, heart attack. http://www.astrumargenteum.org/en/gallery/israel-regardie/
He wrote in a style that is relatively easy to understand, putting Golden Dawn and Crowley’s teachings within the grasp of many of us who lack the benefit of direct Order participation. My favorite is the Portable Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, published by New Falcon Press, and I highly suggest it to anyone interested in Ceremonial Magick, or interested in the roots of Thelema and Wicca.
Israel Regardie’s legacy is massive. Golden Dawn magic is still being practiced all over the world thanks to him. His books represent a lifetime (or several) of learning, his audio recordings are exceptional, and his efforts have surely paid off in the many groups and people that look to his work for inspiration and wisdom.
New Falcon publishes many Israel Regardie books, especially the Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, as well as many hard to find Regardie books:
A very good biography of Israel Regardie: http://israelregardie.net/about.html
Letters, Golden Dawn exams, and other papers of interest by Israel Regardie: http://www.hermeticgoldendawn.org/hogdframeset.html
Inner Circle Sanctuary
Inner Circle Sanctuary is a school for traditional style Wicca and holds eight sabbat festivals every year.