Review of Imago by Robert Allen
"In his groundbreaking work, Robert Allen restores the image to its rightful place at the heart of the Western esoteric tradition. He argues that the careful relation of image, vision and understanding holds the power to opening the portals to a magickal practice which is both initiatory and transformative. Imago investigates the root of the magical tradition in early Neoplatonism, especially their use of images as magical symbols of transformation and shows how these ideas permeate the practice of radical avant-garde theater artists like August Strindberg and Heiner Müller. Drawing on the work of occultists like Aleister Crowley and Austin Spare as well as poets and radical artists, Robert Allen discusses the awesome power of the images and develops a practical step-by-step guide to vision magick as a foundation for all esoteric practice. Divided into chapters which themselves constitute a journey into how the magickal imagination can be rehabilitated, IMAGO is intended to function as a very real initiation into the nature of the imaginative process itself."
When I first read this description for Imago on Theion Publishing’s website, I knew right away this would be a book I would need to spend a lot of time with. Image and imagination are so important in my practice, and in my life, so it was wonderful to read in a book about exactly why this is. It was something I had thought about but not truly dissected. I’m still re-reading parts of this book and working through the exercises so there is not a lot I can express about the book’s impact on me just yet, but I wanted to share it here without delay, as it definitely makes an impact, and what it teaches works beautifully with all esoteric practices.
Robert has been a ceremonial magician for more than half a century, initially joining the Ordo Templi Orientis under the direction of Kenneth Grant, after he was given a contact address by Israel Regardie. (Both well known names in Western occultism and ceremonial magick.) He is a visual performance artist and teaches Performance Movement Magic – workshops about integrating theatre technique and magical practice. There is a lot more that can be shared about Robert’s accomplished career and talents which can be read about on his website. (Linked below.)
The images in the book are by Constance DuQuette
“The world of images, is that in-between world, between matter and spirit, [ . . . ] that’s the realm of Hekate. [ . . .] she’s the world soul. [ . . .] all images are there.”
- Quote from Robert in the podcast In Between Worlds, linked below.
Robert is speaking of liminal space, that space that is Hekate’s domain, and the place of all images.
Imago is a book about image and imagination, and based in the practice of astral projection. It first looks briefly at the history of the Western magickal tradition and examines what image is. Images are not just things which you physically see, but that which is imprinted on your individual experience.
The first three chapters Robert says, “are an invitation to discussion, not a dogma.” So if you find some of it a little abstract,( which I definitely do!) it does not matter at all in regards to the astral projection method Roberts lays out in the fourth chapter, which can be used as a foundation for visual magick. The book ends with an afterward in chapter five which Robert calls “something of an homage to a principal method of Neoplatonism, philosophical discourse.”
You can find some online courses to go along with the book on Robert’s website, as well as more information about him:
To buy the book:
A couple of podcasts Robert has guested on:
Between The Worlds: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3xzvi8cH6Y8JQTfqZscq8x
Thelema NOW: https://thelemanow.org/thelema-now-robert-allen
Originally published in the Covenant of Hekate's newsletter, Noumenia News: https://www.hekatecovenant.com/noumenia-news