Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Book of Azazel: The Grimoire of the Damned by E. A. Koetting


Nephilim Press 2012. 184 Pages. Octavo. Black and White Illustrations. Text in black & red.

Available in two editions:

Limited edition: Cloth-bound hardcover. Limited to 666 copies. Sold out at publisher.

Special Reserve edition: Full leather. Limited to 77 copies. Sold out at publisher.


The Book of Azazel is a quick but fascinating read. In some ways it reminds me of earlier grimoires in that it includes first-hand accounts from the author, including ritual preparation, magical results, and his relationship with spirits. Rather than being a simple laundry list of spells or tables of correspondences, the author includes a great deal of objective analysis of his workings. I found this to be remarkably refreshing. It is fairly common for occult authors to mention their magical successes and failures, and leave it at that -- like some kind of score card. Less commonly do authors dig deeper and analyze the mechanics behind their results to get a bigger picture of what is actually going on.


Mr. Koetting keeps a very open mind when discussing his relationship with spirits, particularly the spirit Azazel. I have found it is often temping for practitioners to become somewhat narrow-sighted when developing a relationship with a particular spirit. Some allow the spirit to become such a monumental part of their life that they slowly become slavish worshipers or begin to form unhealthy and parasitic bonds. The author comes close to the latter, but wisely steps away from the precipice before it is too late. This is most likely due to the authors experience and his overall philosophy regarding magic. Mr. Koetting appears to be from the "All is mind" school of thought. I believe this is a healthy perspective, as it allows the practitioner a clear and objective view of how he/she is linked to the cosmos; ergo, what seems to be outside phenomena may actually be a representation of an inner process. In contrast, those who believe in literal & external angels and demons are thereby forced to react to them within a literal framework. This can be somewhat limiting and problematic, to say the least.

The author wisely chooses to keep the concept of what is "real" very ambiguous. Mr. Koetting states, "The demon is given form by the ritual of evocation, and such a form is dictated by processes running as an undercurrent in the human consciousness." He believes, "there is no difference between the imaginal and the real, or the spiritual and the physical."



The Book of Azazel is in many ways a memoir detailing Mr. Koetting's dealings with the spirit Azazel, in particular the pact he made with said spirit. Like most memoirs, it includes a fair amount of personal details about the author's life and experiences. He presents his communication with Azazel in a particularly novel way: Throughout the book Azazel's words are printed in red. This lends a bit of a dramatic flair that seems perfectly suited for the tone and format of this work. Mr. Koetting describes the communication as being received telepathically, an almost instant impression on his mind of what the spirit is saying. I have heard numerous magicians describe spirit communication in a very similar way. Often words and images are flashed upon the mind in a brilliant instant, sometimes before the question is even finished, as if the spirit exists independent of time (which is likely the case). Some of Azazel's remarks are lengthy, so I can only assume the author is paraphrasing the spirit at times, unless he has a remarkable memory.


The midsection of the book, "The Grimoire of Legions", includes a list of demons along with their respective sigils. These are the spirits who work under Azazel and are divided between three houses: Anatel, Retzael, and Malkash. One part of the book that stands out in particular is the author's comment regarding how earlier grimoires seem to reflect the class structure of the times. For example, various demons have titles like 'Duke', 'Prince' or 'Knight'. Obviously this is an artifact of the Medieval mind, a hierarchical system that would have been familiar to them. The author postulates that said titles may not be very accurate -- more of a quaint relic -- as many believe that spirits operate within a dimension (or psyche) completely unlike our physical world. Thus societal constructs and terms like 'Archduke' seem ridiculous to the modern mind when applied to the realm of spirit. One can see similar hierarchies in Enochian magic. A modern practitioner may want to consider looking at spirits as being more fractal in nature -- each minor spirit containing all the information of the whole -- rather than a literal chain of command. The author, understanding this and seeking clarification, asks Azazel, "Explain the Infernal Hierarchy to me." 

Azazel responds, "The Infernal Hierarchy is as follows: The Operator; and everything else in existence."

This is a very post-modern perspective. It follows one of the main tenets behind Quantum Physics, that the observer is the key to decoding the universe so that it may be experienced or understood either intuitively or physically.



In the latter part of the work the author includes a number of ritual for working with demons listed and methods for preparing one's body for working with spirits. The author includes a number of personal accounts where he describes trying a number of mind-body exercise techniques. Some worked well for him, others not. He concludes that Ashtanga Yoga was the best method for him to prepare his body for direct spirit contact. 




The final section includes a series of evocation techniques designed to make spirits visible. By "visible" the author means in the 'mind's eye' or through the assistance of thick incense and imaginal thinking. As many reading this will know, this is an age-old technique. The theory is that entities can use the smoke to enshroud their forms (or energy fields) making them slightly visible. Parapsychologists use a similar technique using Van de Graff generators to super-charge a room with ambient energy to theoretically provide energy for an apparition to manifest -- ghost fuel, one might say. 

The other theory is that forms are seen via the brain's imaginative power, a process called 'matrixing' -- basically interpreting recognizable shapes in clouds. Either way, it is a valuable method for tapping into one's subconscious, or Jung's idea of collective unconsciousness.




Now for the book itself:

In this review I will be commenting on the 'Special Reserve Edition'. This edition is the first deluxe edition published by Nephilim Press. While is it a relatively modest production, it is nevertheless an impressive start for the publishing house. Subsequent deluxe editions from Nephilim Press have been even more impressive, such as the Funerary Templar edition of Keys of Ocat by S. Connolly, which is beautifully bound and includes a bag of bones for divination.  

The Book of Azazel is bound in full black leather (bonded leather, I believe). The leather is very smooth, with only the faintest grain, lending a very sleek and contemporary presentation. It has no noticeable scent. The cover is appropriately blocked in gold with the symbol known as "The Goetic Circle of Pacts", aka, "The Circle of Demonic Pacts" from The Grand Grimoire. Unfortunately, the spine is left blank and without title or publishers mark, a feature I feel would have benefited the book greatly. When one has a number of books on their shelf with blank spines it becomes difficult to locate particular works. It should be noted that subsequent deluxe editions from Nephilim Press have included titles on their spines. Endpapers are solid black, as are the head/tail bands. The book includes a red ribbon bookmark. Pages are light cream colored (a nice shade that is easy on the eye) and of moderate weight. Type is clear and sharp, including the aforementioned red text. Stamped limitation number.





Now for the most interesting and unique part of this book...  

From the publisher:


"The internals of the Special Reserve Edition are the same as the Limited edition but there is also something extra. Information has been distributed throughout the pages of the book that is invisible to the human eye. It can be seen, but the owners of the book will have to figure out how to view it. This was done for two reasons. The information is hidden to prevent those who would try to use it without truly understanding its power from causing harm to themselves and, as this book is talismanic, to prevent the book itself from being corrupted by “things” that would seek to use its inherent power against the owner."


Indeed there is hidden information within this book. Read below to find out how it can be accessed. Or if you prefer to discover the book's secrets on your own stop reading here.

*spoiler alert*



Additional information has been cleverly added to The Book of Azazel through the use of invisible ink that can only be seen under a black light. Each copy has a dozen or so pages spaced throughout the book containing hand-drawn astrological symbols, Hebrew letters, and various sigils. Some appear to be planetary hours for evocation. Others I will leave to the reader to decipher their meaning. I should note that because of the ghostly nature of the ink, some symbols can be a little difficult to read.


Black light box (short and long wave)
I used a black light box (see above photo), but any black light should do the trick. My apologies for the poor quality of the low-light images.








In conclusion, The Book of Azazel is a striking example of a post-modern grimoire. It is my hope that elements of this book will serve as a model for other contemporary works of magic, particularly the willingness to experiment and attempt something that has never been done within occult publishing. The use of invisible ink is truly a wonderful idea. It continues a long tradition of hiding knowledge in plain sight. In the past, secret knowledge was protected via intentional blinds or coded within symbolic imagery. Today we have invisible ink to hide it from the eyes of the profane. I hope this book inspires other writers and publishers to push boundaries and experiment with what the 21st century has to offer.



12 comments:

  1. The descriptions here regarding spirit communication match my experience as well. As for the longer quotes, they come as a channeled feed. He doesn't have to memorize them.

    I envy you a copy of this book! I should pay more attention to my Nephilim emails.

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  2. "Either way, it is a valuable method for tapping into one's subconscious, or Jung's idea of collective unconsciousness."

    Ummm ... no. It's a method for establishing contact with objectively existing non-physical beings, and pseudoscientific theorising about a "subconscious" or "collective unconscious" as if this offered a more "rational" explication of the matter than the traditional belief in the reality of spirits smacks of irony.

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    1. An interesting point of view, though it is not one the author of this book shares.To quote Azazel (p. 45) "Reality is far from objective ... You ask if I am real. I am as real as the world around you, which is not real at all."

      This statement reminds me of Lon Milo DuQuette's oft quoted phrase, "It's all in your head -- you just have no idea how big your head is."

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    2. Exactly correct Boris, objective reality itself is not real in the way 'common sense thinking' dictates. If magic teaches us anything it certainly teaches that nothing is as it appears to be.

      Jung's idea of collective unconsciousness is not 'pseudoscience' or any kind of science. Science is a limiter, methodology based upon reductionism and logical positivism, the Collective unconscious is much broader than that

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  3. Rending the Veil would welcome a review copy. Contact admin@rendingtheveil.com if you are interested.

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  4. A comprehensive review Mr Balkan, and to the point. The grimoire shows some promise. I do very much like the idea of the invisible ink and the highlighted dialect from Azazel. The book seems to be one of Mr Koetting's better works. It is then, a sad irony that Mr Koetting chooses to collaborate with the person running the sacred magick website, they are business partners, upon which over 500 books have been showcased as pirated, read for that stolen, pdfs. The books and their authors are too many to mention but among them are the entire works of ixaxaar's temple of black light, the works of daniel schulke and andrew chumbley, paul huson, llewellyn, michael cecchettelli, david rankine etc etc. None of these people have given their permission for this, many of them just would not indulge in such a practice. More to the point the site is charging sums of money for these stolen copies in the form of membership credits... x amount of credits purchased allows x amount material to download. All of the links at the top of the site lead to become a living god, they are hard coded to the site itself and they all lead to Mr Koettings become a living god website. Further to that is known that Mr Koetting is not only in business with the person running this site but cares not that his fellow authors' work is subject to such prostitution. Mr Koetting shares 50% of all monies with sacred magick that balg receives from this site. Interestingly enough there is but 1 of Mr Koetting's books on this site! Apart from being a disgusting practice for a so called occultist to be involved in it does bring into question the claims made by Mr Koetting regarding his power. A true magician would be able to manifest his needs without selling out his fellow authors in this field. A very sad realisation is dawming upon many of us who were initially drawn to Mr Koetting's writing and work. Mr Koetting is showing us that everything he does is purely about money. It is for reasons like this that I opted not to purchase this book that has been so carefully and thoroughly reviewed.

    Sincerely,
    Peter.

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  5. Thank you for your comments, Mr. Jackson. I was aware of Mr. Koetting's 'Become a Living God' website, but I was not aware of the more nefarious connections you mentioned. This brings up a good point: Should we judge books (or art in general) by the conduct or personality of the writer/artist? Or should we separate the two? Should a book be judged on its own merrit? Truthfully, I can appreciate both sides of the argument. For example, I am a great fan of the late fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft. In life he was racist, anti-Semite, and arguably a misogynist (judging by the roles women typically play in his works -- what little there are). Was he simply a product of his day? Was this a common attitude for someone around the turn of the century, and if so, is this an excuse for holding such distasteful beliefs? It's hard to say.

    On the extreme end of the spectrum, I admire the poetical works of German poet, Gottfried Benn, even though he was a Nazi doctor. Somehow I'm able to separate the works from the man, even though I find his actions as an individual abominable.

    Many people (myself included) are also fascinated by the art of the insane. Some works are brilliant, even though the artist may have been a murderer, as in the case of Richard Dadd and his masterpiece, 'The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke'.

    So it begs the question: Should we be surprised when authors of so-called 'black magic' books end up embodying some of the diabolical ideals they write about? In fact, unless their work is just for show, why should we expect anything less?

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  6. Thank you for your response Mr Balkan. You are clearly well versed and well read in the literal world, indeed even that of art. I enjoyed perusing your the examples given in your response. To the matter of whether or not a book be judged on its own merit. Well, a book written by the person in question above could well be judged on its own merit. My point questions the methods and funds though which said works were published. It is a fair question So yes, I also question the person behind it. As I have said more and more of us are becoming aware of this participation by Mr Koetting in this money scheme involving the theft of other people's work. Because thats what the sacred magick site hosts Mr Balkan, theft, work stolen from the books of other authors. Mr koetting does not showcase his own work on that site though! There is only one of his book up there, the least popular, a token effort to impossibly disguise his involvement - though this is now common knowledge among many practitioners as well as xoanon llewellyn and many others.

    I can see your logic and enjoyed your examples in the first three paragraphs. But people such as the many authors whose books you review so very well are going to be asking themselves: Do you Mr Balkan, condone Mr Koetting's practice in ripping their work off? Because I am myself now asking this. In fact in order to understand your own stance on this and in order to reply to your last paragraph, which I hasten to add, I strongly disagree with, I looked back through your posts particularly to the one made about Grimoire Scalping on feb 14th 2012 in which you describe certain instances of this practice in this way,

    "This is mercenary book scalping at its worst."

    In reply to one financial justification for selling grimoires at over infalted prices you state a very correct magickal axiom,

    "This is a rather feeble justification for extortion. Skilled magicians can create, exercise will, and improve themselves without doing it at the expense of others; in fact, they benefit others."

    The same can and indeed must be said in reply to your comments within the 4th para questioning whether or not we should be surprised by this practice. The fact is that there is no correlation between spiritual and magickal endeavours and the type of practice that Mr Koetting is involved in on the sacred magick website. In fact stealing the hard work of others and converting it to pdf for profit is not only a breach of copyright it is is outright mercenary theft! There is no excuse for that save for the lack of magickal skill to manifest said monies and outright greed.

    To your last rhetorical question about these works being only for show, I would ask does this imply that the work of Messers Schulke, Huson and Rankine, among others, is purely for show simply because they hold to a certain self discipline and virtue, thereby not seeking to profit through theft and piracy?

    In one respect you are correct, we should not expect anything less from people such as Mr Koetting as this is clearly his nature. However we are as custmers, followers and in many cases, practitioners of magick are entitled to a better example from such people than that of underhand theft of the work of their peers.

    I do appreciate your point of view Mr Balkan but it has raised questions over your stance on a matter that is plainly and simply a matter of stealing. Would you feel so philosophical on this matter if it were your own work, or a book collection perhaps? For my own part I have chosen to give a wide berth to a man I once felt had promise in the occult because he has shown himself to be an idol whose feet are made of clay.

    Sincerely,

    Peter.

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    1. A wonderful discussion, Mr. Jackson. To answer your central question regarding the theft of copyrighted material, for it appears I was unclear: my stance on is as it has always been, that is, I believe it is clearly wrong. Period. I have stated as much in past posts (as you have pointed out). However my main point was not whether ripping off other's work is bad or not -- it is without question a shameful practice -- but rather that I wanted to point out that there are occult writers who believe otherwise or who simply do not care (except when it comes to their works of course). They state as much in their angry little manifestos festooned with horned skulls.

      You see, there are a number of authors who write books on so-called "black magic" in which they espouse and promote a self-centered philosophy, or ego-centric path. Books of this sort usually encourage readers to claw their way to wealth and power with little regard for those they may step on along the way. I thought this line of thinking had gone out of vogue with Anton LaVey, but it appears to still be kicking. Authors and practitioners of this breed would certainly have little regard for something like a copyright law. Nor would they care how their actions affect others.

      I do not consider the respectable authors you mentioned (Messers Schulke, Huson and Rankine) to be in this camp at all. Their work is far more spiritual based and generally more concerned with the attainment of wisdom than the attainment of monetary riches. My conversations with Mr. Schulke have shown that he is an honorable man of his word. His work, and the work of the others you mentioned, are of very high caliber. It is not their work that I decry -- far from it; it is the pseudo-Satanic pablum that is being passed off as occultism that draws my ire.

      There are a number of the latter that make me wonder how sincere the writers are. I suspect a few of these are written to be used as props, or perhaps they are intentional hoaxes, like the Simon Necronomicon.

      As for Mr. Koetting, I do not know enough about the man personally to make any sort of comment or judgement outside of what his body of work provides. Clearly you have done more investigation into his personal dealings than I, thus I can only take you at your word. Still, I did check out the website and noticed the links to Mr. Koetting's site you had mentioned. I admit the whole thing looks rather sketchy.

      You stated, "However we are as customers, followers and in many cases, practitioners of magick are entitled to a better example from such people than that of underhand theft of the work of their peers."

      I wholeheartedly agree. Though sadly, whenever one deals with anything of a spiritual nature there will always be false gurus ready to take advantage others. When seeking enlightenment of any sort, one must always be vigilant. Thanks again for the insightful comments, Mr. Jackson.

      Sincerely,
      B. Balkan

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  7. My thanks also to you Mr Balkan, both for your clarification and stance on such an important matter. I too have enjoyed our exchange, and am very pleased to see such matters addressed by people I consider to be integral to the occult fraternity.

    Sincerely,

    Peter.

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  8. o/ i must say i have been looking around for information about azazel lilith and other obscure variations of history needless to say im intrested however i need to know one thing before i buy this book does it provide a way to communicate with azazel like a ritual or spell please reply as soon as you can thank you for your time

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  9. I don't deal with $$ i deal with blood and souls what do you want for this book and i'm not taking no for a fucking answer, basicaly you can trade it to me or it will disapear from thee -cinobub

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