When I get a new book written by Josephine McCarthy in my hands, I must admit that I am a bit positively biased. I have enjoyed everything that she published so far. And when I opened the Book of Gates for the first time I knew that this would just be another addition to the row.
The Book of Gates is an ancient Egyptian magical funerary text, related to the much better known Book of the Dead. But this one is meant at the same time for the living and for the dead, talking about a magical and mystical journey through the Underworld, thus transforming the soul for Adepthood. Strangely enough, this text was so far largely unknown.
I was expecting to receive a smallish book with illustrations, but to my surprise what I got is a full scale 22 on 29 cm hardcover with 350 pages full of interesting magical content. In fact, Josephine is not the only author. The ancient texts from Egypt were translated by Michael Sheppard, who did an excellent job in my view. Of course I would not be able to judge the quality of the translation itself, but what he has given us are texts full of inspiration, power and tenderness and the same time.
Josephine McCarthy has written extensive commentaries on the different sections of the translated original text, helping us to understand this world and its magical context better and leading us to use these texts for our own practice. Here she is doing again what she is unique in, linking ancient tradition to a consequently modern approach, making it clear that magic always lives in two eras at the same time: when it was conceived and written, and when it is practiced.
Last, but certainly not least, I need to mention the beautiful illustrations by Stuart Littlejohn. They add a very important aspect to the quality of the book and to me are more than just illustrations, but rather doorways for meditation on the texts. (Stuart Littlejohn happens to be the featured artist on the Thoth-Hermes website at the moment, so go and have a look here!)
Yes, Ancient Egypt has always been important to me, from history class to my magical work. So this book is definitely exciting for me. But it is much more than that. I believe it is at the same time interesting to practicing magicians, historians, lovers of deep lyrics, and almost everyone working and interested in the Western Mystical Path.
The Book of Gates was published by Quareia Publishing UK, that rather new venture that has also brought the excellent Quareia new school of magic for the 21st century to us. While I mention this, my friend Greg Kaminsky and I have recently interviewed Josephine McCarthy and Michael Sheppard about this course, so it might be a good idea to go and listen to that episode of Occult of Personality, which has been released just a few days ago.