THE MAGICAL RECORD OF NEMA (1975-1977): AN INITITORY JOURNAL FOR ADMITTANCE INTO THE TYPHONIAN ORDER by Nema (2015, Black Moon Publishing)
To properly review The Magical Record of Nema, I must explain my own relationship with the book.
It’s 1983. I’m living in Southwestern Ohio, back to my ancestral home because my job opportunities didn’t pan out (story of my life until I became a professional writer). A friend recommends this amazing book called Drawing Down The Moon by Margret Adler. I find it at the local library. Adler claims there is this vast underground network of alternative neopagan religions and occultists just waiting for people to come and sign-up. After failing to find any trace of them in my town, I discover there is a place called Aquarius Books in Cincinnati, which stock all manner of mysterious grimoires. I head down one cold fall Saturday to it and meet the owner, a very warm fellow named Patrick. He who shows me the vast literary and mystical stock his bookstore carries. And I find this little magazine called The Cincinnati Journal of Ceremonial Magick. I buy several issues of the CJCM because I realize this is the good stuff.
I take it back home, am blown away by what’s in it and write a letter to the editors. Less than a week later, which before the Internet was light speed, I receive a letter from the author of much of what was in the journal. It’s from a lady named Nema and she answers all of my questions. Over the next year, I visit with her and the other adepts in the area. I learn much from them.
The Magical Record of Nema has three introductions: one from her husband of the past thirty plus years, one from a Black Moon publisher, and a college from those days described in the book. Each give their perspective on the material contained within it. The design work is outstanding. There is an afterwards by her husband and a copy of the Librea Penn Penumbra, a document she received which put her on the path. There is even a photograph of her from this time period on the cover. It is a large format journal that is over three hundred pages in length, including an index and supplemental material.
Above all, this is a diary. She applied for membership in Kenneth Grant’s Ordo Temple Orientalis and, since he lived in England and she in Cinti, require her to keep a record of her workings and daily practices for the next nine months. Grant’s OTO would later become known as the “Typhonian” OTO after the legal battles concluded in 1984 over who was allowed to be the legitimate successor to Aleister Crowley’s Original OTO. The group out of California triumphed and Grant’s organization would become known as the “Typhonian” order in later years, thus the subtitle of the book. At one point, she writes of another group in Nashville who claims to be the “true” OTO, which I can only surmise was the Brazilian OTO headed by Marcello Motta.
Most of the entries are a record of her spiritual workings, poetry, random writings and daily life. She follows in the footsteps of other occult writers, like Crowley, who left an extensive set of journals and letters after he passed on in 1947. If you want to have a look at the daily life of an adept from the mid-seventies, that era between the Age of Aquarius and the birth of the Neopaganism movement in 1979, this is the book for you. I’ve always had a desire to read about religious, esoteric, or occult history, so I devoured this record.
As for her poetry, I feel that poetry should be read aloud to be experienced and not described. Here is a sample of her writing so you man experience it and judge for yourself:
The Egg is shattered,
Naked do you lie
Upon the sands at foot of the Mountain. (Page 195)
What makes this book priceless is the description of the daily life of an adept. You see someone striving for illumination while dealing with the realities of the need to earn a living, raise her family, deal with an ex-husband and the other people in her life. I will say everything she writes about and describes rings true to my limited memory. Others may be scratching their heads about the references.How is the “Aleph Cabal” different from the “Bate Cabal”? Much of what she writes about is particular to Cincinnati in the mid-seventies.
There are many sexual encounters. Most to achieve a particular spiritual function. Unless you are familiar with Nema’s choice of words, you may be confused over her terminology. For instance, when she talks about alchemical work in her temple with a partner, she doesn’t mean reflux condensers. Again, the descriptions are very matter of fact and to the point, but she gets the idea across. Most of the time it’s coded in the numerical terms: eighth, ninth and at least one incident of eleventh degree. For instance, it helps to have read many of her writings to understand what Nema means when she talks about “assuming the role of the bee”. I was dumbfounded by the men who just assumed they could bed her because of a causal friendship. Several times she has to tell men no, I am not interested in you and will you please not ask again.
One thing about this journal is that it describes the daily lives of working class ceremonial magickians. No fancy meetings with rock stars. No summoning of goetia angels from the top of Swiss Alps. She talks about her ceremonial work on private farms and solo practices while camping. There are no jet flights to Asia, but she does fret about her problems at finding a job and selling the house. Toward the end of the record, she seems to be on the verge of realizing her dream of buying a farm.
Therefore, if you are looking into the glamorous gothic life of someone who lives in a Black Forest castle, this is not the book for you. It is a sober revelation that the people who work the hardest to achieve spiritual enlighten seldom eat smoked caviar. But if you want a book which shows the joy and sorrows of a spiritual pilgrim, this is the book for you.
Click on the image below to go to the Amazon page for it: