Book review: The Grade Papers of the Magical Order of AMOOKOS
This book consists of the collected Grade Papers of the East-West Tantrik order, Amookos. These papers were originally published back in 1989, under the title of Tantra Magick which has been out of print for a number of years. This is a welcome re-edition for Kindle (and also available as an epub for Adobe Digital Editions), which contains some extra material.
Amookos emerged from the contact between Mike Magee and Leonard Miles (a.k.a. Dadaji). Dadaji was an early traveller to India who had arrived in India in the early 50s, pre-dating the hippy trail, and he was initiated into the Adi-Nath sampradaya in 1953. A fuller history of the sampradaya and Amookos can be found here. The book is a distillation of Mike’s experiences and Dadaji’s inspiration. It aims to turn the sometime obscurity of Tantrik material into something useful and usable. I think it succeeds admirably.
I first encountered this book when I was going through a phase of reading every occult book I could get my hands on. What caught my attention here was the simplicity and promise of the sensory exercises (week long exercises like “Try and perceive different shades of grey” or “Be aware that you have a sense of smell”) and the richness and evocativeness of the symbolism – beautiful Goddesses adorned with jewels astride the walls of the city of Shambala! I certainly hadn’t encountered anything like the sensory work before and it appealed to me as someone who has a tendency to be overly cerebral.
The Grade Papers are in 3 parts, the first is simple instructions in meditation and tantrik symbolism, and some notes on various psychic phenomena (siddhis). The second set of papers combines sidereal astrology with character types derived from the works of Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen, and the third has as its central focus a rite of Shiva, more complex work with astrology and time, as well as work with the kleshas (the kleshas being habitual blocks or obstacles, ways of thinking that cloud and contract consciousness – see A Closer Look at Kleshas for some further discussion). In addition, the book contains work on mnemonics, dreams, the I Ching and bodywork, and a dense breakdown of the symbolic themes in Tantrik material.
The additional material contains Mike’s translation of the Shiva Sutras, the Netra tantra and material derived from the Kaulajnananirnaya together with some notes on order administration and some very useful comments on the difficulty of keeping awake and aware in everyday life, and the process of change.
The themes of increased attention to the body and one’s senses run throughout, alongside a keen awareness of the ways in which we trap ourselves in habits of thought and identifications. The book is essentially a manual on deconditioning. The tantrik symbolism here, as it unfolds, reinforces and illuminates these themes. One gets a sense of the complex ways Indian thinkers mapped the body and consciousness (perhaps the most sublime expression of this being the Sri Yantra), giving these understandings a poetic and graphic expression that can fire one’s imagination.
Like a lot of training material, this is a collection of papers that was meant to be worked through with the aid of a guide. I still think this is how the book works best, and I confess some of the material herein (without this kind of context and explanation) baffles me. However, there is a tremendous amount of rich food here. I have found that working with this material can grant real shifts in perspective and make one realise, profoundly, one’s own limitations, and give approaches that challenge these. Real efforts to digest this material will pay profound dividends.