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The Temple of High Magic

Hermetic Initiations in the Western Mystery Tradition

Foreword by Gareth Knight

A practical guide to pathworking and other esoteric techniques from the ancient mystery schools predating Christianity

• Explains the dynamics of both group ritual and solo practice

• Shows that temples of high magic are not mere physical structures but inner edifices created by sustained meditative practice

• Explains why this practice is sometimes called the Yoga of the West

Before the advent of Christianity, early civilizations had, at the heart of their spiritual traditions, mystery schools that offered a corpus of training methods in what is now called magic. The persecution of heresies that followed the establishment of Christianity as Rome’s state religion, a persecution that reached its high point during the Middle Ages, forced the degradation and disappearance of this training system. While the knowledge of these mystery traditions--jealously guarded by secret societies--has begun to emerge, the actual techniques and practices of spiritual magic have remained hidden.

The Temple of High Magic provides the practical knowledge of these techniques for modern spiritual seekers who wish to incorporate the proven esoteric techniques of the magi into their lives. This book explains the dynamics of group ritual and solo practice as well as the critical role played by the kabbalistic tree of life--the key to inner knowledge. Ina Cüsters-van Bergen shows that temples of high magic are not mere physical structures but are the inner edifices willed into being by a sustained meditative practice and pathworking, using key symbols from ancient Hebraic and Egyptian traditions. Sometimes called the Yoga of the West, this spiritual magic is a system of esoteric development that seeks to create full union between the magician and the divine.

Chapter 2

Back to the Roots


The pathworkings in this book are not chosen at random. They are stories whose images are very carefully chosen, and whose images have been used in our culture for centuries: accidentally and deliberately, in fairy tales and folk stories, in mythological stories and in normal speech. These images have specific effects on the Inner World.
At the moment that you project yourself inside the story, your emotions and feelings will interact with the story. These movements in the Inner World have the goal of stimulating certain processes in the consciousness.
This form of meditation is specific to Spiritual Magic and affects the daily life of people. This meditation method is practiced with the symbols that are classically connected to the Sephiroth and the paths of the Qabalistic Tree of Life.

The Robe of the Magician

To give you an idea of the importance of the ritual clothing and the experience this gives, I will take you with me on a pathworking journey. First, prepare yourself for a meditation. Take care that you will not be disturbed during the exercise. Make sure that you are comfortable. First relax and stabilize your breathing into the rhythm of four counts in, hold two, four out, hold two. When you look toward the black of your closed eyes, imagine looking into the blackness of a starry night. In your mind, look downward, and you will see that your feet are standing on a floor with black and white tiles.
Now the floor appears to be moving. It seems to stretch out in all directions. You are highly impressed by the wideness of the landscape, and it only stretches itself out farther in all directions. It becomes bigger as you are aware of your own heartbeat. You see that, slowly, stars start to appear in the space above you and below you. Now you clearly hear the voice of a female guide:
“I will take you with me to a place on the Inner Planes where you will be clothed in Divine robes. It is important that you lay down your common clothes. Take off your clothes and cleanse yourself with the Waters that come down from Heaven.”
To your amazement it starts to rain softly. The black and white floor starts to change shape, and stairs develop in black and white. The water starts to reflect the starry heavens. You decide to undress yourself and bathe in the basin that forms at your feet. You decide to drench yourself in the basin.
When you come out of the Waters, it has started snowing. In spite of the white flakes that descend on your skin, you do not feel cold. Together with the white flakes of snow, a golden spider descends on a thin thread. The spider hangs before you, and she weaves the snowflakes into a pattern. To your amazement, the snow crystallizes on your skin into a silk robe that is decorated with the most beautiful ice flowers.
“I dress you in the purity of a winter night. This absolute purity is the state of your soul when you cleanse yourself in the primordial source of the universe. To take care that your core remains pure as long as possible, I will now weave a mantle of concealment for you. This I weave from velvet threads, black in color, which I will spin out of the starry night.”
You watch how the spider works: she tears threads out of the night and, where she pulls them out of the surface, little holes form in the velvet black depth. The spider tells you:
“Because I weave the mantle of concealment, an activity is generated. Everywhere that I take threads from the night, a void is created. This nothingness will fill itself. The cosmos always returns to its state of balance, and the emptiness that is caused because I weave for you your mantle of concealment will fill itself with fate. And now watch how the emptiness fills itself with star fire. In this way a horoscope is created. Do not fear, because fate will strengthen your soul and give it more splendor than ever.”
The spider finishes the beautiful black mantle that is woven from the starry night.
“Now we need the materials with which to fasten this mantle onto your white robe.”
The spider starts to work again, and she plucks fire from the stars of the Zodiac from the heavens, and attaches sparks of stellar fire on a brooch. The jewel radiates, and as you watch it you have realizations without understanding where they come from.
“See here, the jewel of wisdom,” the spider says. “This appears to me an excellent brooch to pin the mantle of concealment onto your left shoulder. Now we need another pin to fix the right side.”
The spider looks into the night sky and says thoughtfully: “The mantle of concealment will embrace you and protect you with the Understanding
of the Great Mother.” And promptly a supernova explodes in the dark night, a blood red explosion against the deep black background.
“Ah . . .” the spider says. “Of course! The mantle is pinned on the right side with a black rose with a blood red heart: the symbol of the Great Mother.” The spider takes the explosion out of space and weaves it into a brooch of black obsidian with a kernel of blood red star ruby. This she uses to pin the mantle at your left shoulder.
“You are now dressed in the regalia of the novice. All other pieces of clothing of the Heavenly Man are woven by me when you have earned them yourself. You need to create the warp of the threads by your aspiration, hope, and prayer. The woof you create by endurance, sound thinking, and sweat. The regalia of the Initiate are hidden in the secret spaces that you find at the sides of the road of the Ladder of Light.”

Ina Cüsters-van Bergen is the head of the Hermetic Order Temple of Starlight and was initiated by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki. She lives in the Netherlands and gives lectures and workshops throughout Europe.

The Temple of High Magic was described in ‘Wiccan Rede, Beltane 2007’as an ‘impressive book written by a lady who has earned respect as an expert in the field of esotericism and mystery traditions in the Netherlands.’ This book, now available in English, will impress English-speaking readers by its compactness and clarity. Dealing with a large range of subjects regarding the Western Mysteries, Ina has also included Pathworkings/guided visualizations and rituals making this not only a compendium but also a practical workbook. Highly recommended for everyone who is interested in (modern) Mystery religions.”

– Morgana, cofounder of Silver Circle Magazine and coordinator of the 2009 Pagan Federation Internatio

“This book will undoubtedly be regarded as the defining text for a solid basis in ceremonial magic. It offers a thorough explanation of what it really takes to open and enrich yourself with inner work. It is loaded with background information, methods, and techniques you can immediately use to practice. Ina Cüsters-van Bergen explains how you can reach a new and much higher level. She gives the answer of how to structure your magical practice so that you get the full benefit of your efforts. I fully endorse this book and the teaching it offers.”

– GardenStone, author of Germanische Magie [Germanic Magic]

The Temple of High Magic is a must-have book for those who want a clear insight of the modern magical path, either as seekers or those who have been traveling this road for some time. Rather than concentrate on just basic methods, it takes the student through an evolution of ever more advanced magical work.”

– Nick Farrell, author of Magical Pathworking

“The first thing that touched me was the pleasurable and clear style of writing from the author. On top of this I ascertained her true competence and expertise about this subject. Finally there is a competent and reliable guide that can help us obtain insight into the Western Mystery Tradition. I recommend this book wholeheartedly.”

– Daniel van Egmond, Ph.D., Dutch mystic and Kabbalist

“This book is really a must for everyone who wants to start a practical, theoretical, and historic study in the Western Mystery Traditions, Hermetism, Wicca, Magic, and Kabbalah. Ina Cüsters-van Bergen explains in clear words how ceremonial magic works and through the many exercises and Pathworkings the students will reach deeper knowledge in their inner worlds.”

– Anneke Huijser, owner of the metaphysical and esoteric bookshop in the Netherlands

The Temple of High Magic offers a clear and serious perspective on the work of the author’s school, the Temple of Starlight. We get to know what magic--more specifically spiritual magic--is. Ina Cüsters-van Bergen successfully uses the alchemical language as a symbolic language pointing toward inner transmutations.”

– John van Schaik, religious historian

“Ina Cüsters-van Bergen is able to elucidate complicated and ambiguous concepts. The manual you were always looking for has finally arrived.”

– Joke and Ko Lankester, Wiccan High Priests, authors of De Kringloop van het Leven [The Cycle of Life

The Temple of High Magic is an important work from someone who has earned her credits in the Mystery Tradition. It is a book of great size, which treats the extensive range of the Western Mystery Tradition without loosing clearness.”

– Merlin Sythove, Gardnerian witch

"Obviously I'm no expert on the Western Esoteric traditions, because let's face it, I'm not an expert on anything, but I will dare say that this is the best introduction to the subject matter I've ever seen, or possibly that's ever been published. . . . Bergen's book thoroughly answers the questions, "What are the Western Esoteric traditions all about?". . . . Bergen covers the roots that feed into the current practice of Mystery Traditions today, explains the significance of temples, tools, and robes, covers Tree of Life basics, Chakras, features loads of exercises and rituals, and more, more, more! . . . . buy this book and then buy a second copy to give to anyone you know with even a passing interest in the Western Esoteric Traditions."

– The Magical Buffet, August 2010

". . . the author has brought together a fusion of the art and the science of Magic at a high level, clearly based on her years of experience, yet with a light of touch, authoritative yet humane. . . . Congratulations to the translator too! I would recommend this book to seekers and initiates alike."

– Inner Light Magazine, UK, August 2010

"The Temple of High Magic provides the spiritual seeker with the practical knowledge and techniques used in ceremonial magic based on the Jewish Cabbala, Hermeticism and the Ancient Egyptian magical tradition."

– The Cauldron, September 2010

“Well cited, reference, and inclusive of a sufficient glossary for all but the complete novice. A welcomed treatise in the library of any occultist, magician, herbologist, horticulturalist, and historian alike. This tome will peak your interests, inspire your creativity, and challenge your perspicacity. A hearty concentration of and contribution to the Great Work! Enjoy.”

– Kris Kulish, Behutet, February 2011