We hear this question as a complaint. People say there are mostly 101 books available and too few 202 and 303 books.
And as a publisher I agree with the question and the complaint. I want to see more advanced books. I want to read and study more advanced books. I want to sell more advanced books. I want our community to have more advanced books.
But it is a deep matter. We've published books that purported to be advanced that really were extensions of 101. And they didn't sell well. And we've published many "specialty" books on subjects of interest to anyone involved in the Occult (and let me use that word here to encompass all the subject matter variously called New Age, Metaphysical, Body-Mind-Spirit, and Spirituality, even Alternative Religion).
Yet, for the record, we are just publishing a series of three books that do qualify to advance from 101 to 202 to 303. These are Witch School—First Degree, Witch School—Second Degree, and Witch School—Third Degree. These three books provide a lot of information and a systematic program of study and practice. And, what about the books by Christopher Penczak? We've cataloged them as certainly being beyond the beginner level. I could name other titles as well.
And that leads me to a point: I'm an old guy, nearly eighty years old, and I've been publishing Occult books for fifty years, and I was a eager student for nearly twenty years before that—reading everything from Theosophy to Crowley, from Dion Fortune to Tantra, and not neglecting Jung, Kabbalah, and Mysticism. I'm well read in philosophy, history, science, healing, and alternative subjects. I was a member of the TS, AMORC, Inner Light, and later of Aurum Solis. I was initiated as a Witch by Lady Sheba and for years led a coven.
But what I do know is that, even though I am a book publisher and I want to sell lots and lots of books and believe in publishing good books, what counts is the actual experience of using the information you've been given. There is no limit to what a sincere practitioner of 101 can attain—if you do nothing more than meditate on the living experience of the ritual drama of Wiccan & Pagan Sabats and Esbats and the Initiations, even if you are a solitary and work in your imagination. And, I have to say, if you don't work in your imagination you will experience nothing no matter how many rituals you participate in with groups large or small, no matter how many degrees you may have, and no matter how many books—beginner or advanced—you read.
I sometimes tell stories. Way back in the seventies, there was a well-known author—a self-made celebrity—who toured the country to get initiated into as many covens as he could find. He was welcomed because he was a celebrity, and coven leaders had their photographs taken with him, all to be published in a book. I don't remember how many of these there were—maybe thirty, maybe fifty—but you tell me if all this made him an "advanced" initiate? Of course it didn't. And I think it was a bad reflection on everyone concerned. He also wanted to produce a calendar with twelve photographs of skyclad covens from this tour. I don't think it was ever published.
I said "I think" in that previous to last sentence because I don't express my personal judgment as a matter of higher wisdom from my elderly status. And I do not consider myself an "elder" in the Wiccan, Pagan, Occult community. I'm just elderly—and like other older people I feel like expressing opinions.
Now, I really want to ask our community what you want to read in "advanced" books, and not what you as potential authors want to write. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and lay it out as concisely as possible. Make real suggestions, not complaints. But, please, don't confuse things. "Advanced" books are not to be confused with history books, or memoirs. Those are simply history books and memoirs and can be very scholarly. "Advanced" books, in my personal opinion, are "specialty" books dealing with what I call "Esoteric Technology," and others have called "technology of the sacred," "techniques of ecstasy," "ascension," etc. All deal with "becoming more than you are" through an acceleration of a natural evolutionary process.
Gardner described "eight paths to the center" and included some techniques many people find objectionable—but he never said anyone had to practice them all. There are many paths, but only one center—and that is everywhere, because it is in you.
To me, Wicca is a religion and Witchcraft a system of practical magic—Wicca for the Spirit, the Craft for the Mind, and you are the Body. And Paganism is many things all based on seeing our Earth as our sacred mother. We need to care for our mother, for she is very old and has been abused by her children. At the same time she remains Gaia and is Life and we live in her and through her. And yet, as spirits, we also transcend the material planet and inhabit the whole Universe. There is no foreseeable end to the Ladder of Being that we ascend.
It is a Magical Journey that I invite you to share by writing and telling me about the advanced books you want.
Carl Llewellyn Weschcke
Carl Llewellyn Weschcke (Minnesota) was the owner and chairman of Llewellyn Worldwide, the world's oldest and largest metaphysical publisher. He played a seminal role in the rise of Wicca and Neo-Paganism in the 1960s and ...