The Scorpion God: The Forbidden Wisdom of Belial (Book Review)

Last month I was delighted to find a kind gift from author (and fellow Hekate devotee) Mark Alan Smith on my doorstep of a signed copy of his new book, The Scorpion God: The Forbidden Wisdom of Belial (On my birthday no less, not that he knew that. Still a nice touch). I thought, like I did with the other two, I would take some time to review it. I have to say, I felt very intimidated at the prospect of doing a review for this book, unlike the other two. First off, there are so many specifics where does one start? It’s HUGE. Second, as I will detail below I’m not a practitioner of his system at this time so it’s hard to write from personal experience. I still think I can give it an objective review though.

First off the obligatory disclaimer.

Disclaimer: Even though this book was a gift, I am under NO obligation to review it or give it a positive review. I’ve spent time reading it and have refrained from reading other reviews or listening to his interview on Witchtalk so that I could give it the thoroughness and objectivity I felt it deserved.

So first things first. His previous two books were published by Ixaxaar, and this marks the first volume published by his own publishing company Primal Craft Occult Publishing. The question that I think was on everyone’s minds is will the quality compare? I’m happy to say yes. The book (in this case the standard edition)  itself is gorgeous, bound in mahogany silk with a gold seal emblazoned on the front. As a matter of fact the book was delayed because the original quality of the seal did not meet Mark’s expectations and he sent them all back. I’m happy to say the final version is as beautiful as you have come to expect with the previous two volumes. As in the cases past each copy is individual numbered and consecrated by the author in his forest temple.

The illustrations by Namtaru Creations are the same high quality as in the past books as well and are dripping with dark Witchy goodness. (Here”s an interesting tip: try scrying the pictures. There are hidden gems there you won’t be able to get by just reading the text alone. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but just try it. YMMV.).

The book is the third in his series detailing his own system and revelation of left hand path Hekatean/Luciferian Alchemical Witchcraft. In case your unfamiliar with these books they represent a gnosis-inspired path of alchemy and soul transformation through those whom Mr.Smith describes as the Trident of Witchcraft, Hekate, Lucifer, and Belial. Each book has you questing for soul alchemy and self-deification, a different aspect of which is bestowed by each one of these three. This book continues the quest through the qlippothic realms where the other books left off. Much as The Red King (TRK) was twice the size of The Queen of Hell, this book is again almost twice the size of TRK. Here check them out all stacked up.

As you can see this book is almost the size of the other two combined. If you thought The Queen of Hell was complex, this book makes it look like pre-school in comparison. In short, it’s pretty densely packed.

This book in particular reveals Smith’s gnosis of Belial whom he equates with the symbol of the scorpion (thus the Scorpion God). He is the patron of this book, and it has a much more earthier, grittier quality than the other two books. Where as Hekate and Lucifer maintain some celestial aspects, his vision of Belial seems to be wholly chthonic and this is reflected in the content of the book. There is a heaviness and seriousness that pervades the book, and you can feel the influence of Belial coming through. It has a very different feel than the other other and it’s a lot darker in content and subject matter than the previous two. It will be taking you to deep places.

One of the first things the book has you do is undertake a trial of Belial to gain an astral scorpion form that serves as a protective armor through the, shall we say, less savory neighborhoods of the astral realm you will be traversing as part of your self-deification quest. I thought this was particularly interesting. He lays out the path on the astral landscape you will take through the crossing of forgotten deserts and making sacrifices at guarded altars and locked temples mentioned only in myth. You’ll be interacting with werewolf spirits and engaging in lycanthropy and meeting with vampire gods, and of course working with various chthonic spirits. Lots and lots of spirits.

Pretty cool stuff. This book is much less heavy on the physical crafts and acquisition of arcane materials than was represented in the first two books. This book is almost entirely astral journey work and ritualistic soul transformation. It also greatly fleshes out the Atlantean cosmology that he laid out in the first two books and firmly grounds these three entities within that Atlantean current. Here all is laid bare.

I think one criticism I’d like to address is that I’ve heard many people shy away from his books in fear that they are “made up” due to the fact that they are primarily gnosis derived and not part of any existing tradition.Mark makes clear his books derive from an Atlantean current which he is working to bring forth, not a pre-existing tradition.

In both reading his books and talking with him I’ve encountered an alarming number of synchronicity to my own gnosis. For instance, in one section I was stopped dead in my tracks to find the sigil of a new spirit that revealed itself to me a month previously that I have worked with to good effect. Even more interesting the name was almost the same (just spelled a bit different than I spelled it). I think Mark is doing important work, that is going out and actually meeting new spirits and bringing back with him information how to contact and work them and wrapping that knowledge up in a cohesive self contained system. Not many people are doing that right now and I think you’ve got to give him kudos for it. I think its important work, even if your not of a chthonic persuasion.

Notice however, that most of the book stays firmly on the left hand/chthonic path and involves heavy demon work. For a lot of people that won’t be a problem, probably a bonus even, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you liked his other previous books you’ll want this one for sure. I’m probably preaching to the choir here by now. If you did not like his previous stuff, you’ll definitely dislike this one too. Regardless you should not start with this one. That would be like trying to tackle a thesis in astrophysics before you learned basic algebra. If you’re new to his work you’ll need to hunt down a (now rare) copy of Queen of Hell. However those who are not interested in pursuing a path of soul alchemy and are simply interested in his gnosis and vision of Belial will probably enjoy it regardless. It is a fascinating read in it’s own right.

Image taken from Primal Craft Website. Rights belong to Mark Alan Smith and Namtaru Creations.

Personal Experience

In the past I have given my personal experiences. I can’t do that on this book because I’m not currently a practitioner of this system. In the past reviews I mentioned that although his system can be worked side by side your existing path for a little while at some point I felt that you would have to choose. We’ll I came to that point. This stuff requires a total commitment that I cannot give, as my direction lays elsewhere.

His work represents a very specific path of alchemical soul transformation. I myself have chosen a Hermetic/Celestial soul path through the 9 spheres that I believe is incompatible with this one. At least at the same time. Maybe once I go up I can head back down, but that will be many years down the line. You can only commit to one thing at a time, and I’m pretty serious about what I’m doing right now.

Further more at this point in my life (at age 38 with 3 kids) I don’t feel comfortable doing demon work any more. If I was a younger man without that responsibility I would dive head long into it enthusiastically, but for now that time has passed. I’m happy with my angels and nature spirits at the moment!

I still think he is doing really interesting and important work and I will continue to be interested in and supportive of what he puts out, but I can’t speak to personal experience on this book with any integrity right now. He has indicated there will be further works in the Primal Craft collection, and I for one can’t wait to see what’s next!

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16 Responses to The Scorpion God: The Forbidden Wisdom of Belial (Book Review)

  1. Robert Goode says:

    Smith rubs a lot of people the wrong way with his writings. Although he would probably deny this, his works are far more Satanic i than Luciferic(Third new word I invented this week). And not a lot of people think producing a book full of nothing but the author’s personal gnosis to be all that helpful, although that is something this trilogy has in common with Medieval grimoires. In this day, more people enjoy books that speak in more general terms and don’t give away all the answers. IMHO, bit like doing a math test with the answers written in by the teacher.Some find the “ancient, Atlantean current” thing to be the ramblings of someone who watched too much Stargate, although others would argue Atlantis is just another mystical world of spirits, such as Elphame. It sounds like you have enjoyed it though. If you want, I have a great book suggestion on Trad Craft herbal gnosis I can discuss with you about on the Book of Many Faces.

    Not sure if you noticed Big R, but you ended up posting the entire point of ceremonial magick in your blog. 😉

    • Thank you for you observations Robert. I dont normally become involved in the blogsphere but felt that a little perspective was needed from my side in light of your view on personal gnosis. I dont deny the work to be dark .. but it isnt for the sake of it. It is the current of that realm and that era – but to the actual reader there are paths of stellar gnosis within the work (more so in QofH and TRK thanTSG). I do however feel that the word Satanic is as valid to the Christain era as Luciferic/Luciferian is to the last 3 decades – but hardly a valid description in this case. Some people follow the path that Richard is on, others follow different paths..It is one’s commitment that is viewed at soul level by the eyes of the Gods. My own path is – regardless of casual observation – one of true and and whole-hearted commitment and devotion to Hecate and those She brings forth to our communion. Each person has their own path and each their own role within that, if they are truly committed to their spiritual evolution – mine is to return knowledge that is no-longer with us. There is only one to way to do this and that is direct contact through the inner planes (or do we allow great gnosis to remain lost?). I think that if you were to read the work, though it may not be to your conventional taste, you would see that that it far from gives all of the answers and is in fact only an overlaying map from which greater paths of gnosis can be achieved. In fact it would be impossible to give all the answers such is the depth if gnosis within these inner planes. It would be an easier path for me to walk were I to translate a modern grimoire or pen a book on herb craft –either of which could be either supported (in the first instance) by the test of time and (in the second) by modern pharmacological findings. However, were it not for people willing to map the inner plane journeys and bring back personal gnosis then there would be no true grimoires or genuine spiritual books of any era to begin with (there would only be made up ramblings) and we would have no Traditions from which to work our Craft. All genuine spiritual gnosis comes in the interaction between man and Daemon/God/spirit and must/should as such be transmitted to text and shared with others. Very often the texts that are initially the most challenged are also the most ground-breaking (in terms of the depths of knowledge they bring forth) these are the ones that stand the test of time and are again translated centuries or even millenia later. To be contacted by so many people who are receiving powerful results and experiences upon their own personal paths through this work is in itself very rewarding and – as Richard points out – confirmation is a powerful thing. I leave the path to the individual’s choice and spiritual destiny. My advice to all who read this is to choose the path that is for you and walk it with full and committed heart and soul; for in walking your chosen path ( as oppose to merely debating it), whichever it may be, you will be actively engaging your soul’s evolution.

      I would like to thank you Richard for a very balanced and earnest review – I am thrilled that the book landed on such a special day for you!

      With blessings,

      In Nomine Hecate,

      Mark Alan Smith.

    • Seillean says:

      Robert and Mark,

      Thank you both for your comments my friends. I’ve enjoyed reading both of your perspectives here.

  2. Jack says:

    That looks like a heck of a birthday present even if you’re not going to work with it. I find modern spiritwork very interesting even if a lot of it doesn’t end up resonating with me, I may need to take a closer look at these books. Thanks for the review.

  3. Scylla says:

    Someone loaned me a copy of QoH not-that-long-ago – I enjoyed it thoroughly (Somewhere in my blog drafts is a review… I ought to dig it up and post it. ). Firstly, it mirrored my own experiences to some degree, and secondly I thought it was ballsy as hell to publish one’s personal gnosis and findings. I thought it was a leap forward from where we’ve been stuck in the occult writing world for the last few decades, and a return to where we had been prior to “(fill the blank) is whatever you want it to be” – The Spirits are Real, and Their Voices are Loud.

    That revelation came around the same time I had agreed to relent to spirit-pestering to write a book based on personal gnosis concerning Familiar Spirits and their corollaries. It’s slow going. It’s mind-numbing. The information the spirits are giving me are not suited for mass-market consumption, but it is absolutely suited for -someone-. Gently coalescing them into a book is hard, and knowing the inevitable backlash is hard. Knowing that they want me to hand-bind them… also not so easy. So, I have a great respect for people who do something bold, and different, and put themselves out for a rather large helping of scrutiny.

    • Seillean says:

      Scylla,

      I agree very much, I actually love reading others personal gnosis. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always like Mark’s work, that he’s not afraid to put it out there. Hell I have some weird gnosis myself!

      I can’t wait to read your familiar spirits book. i think there is a great need for that sort of book. When you decide to publish it, I’ll certainty be in line to buy it!

  4. geetar646 says:

    Recently SdE got into some pretty fierce on line debates in regards MAS. Most people do not ever encounter Sorita’s nasty side but she has one. Turns out she is a pretty vigorous MAS defender.

    I will admit to approaching these works with real trepidation. I started out having real misgivings as to what appeared to be very strident abandonment of the Hellenistic bearings of Hekat and then the whole unverified personal gnosis thing left me very skeptical. It was at this time that a friend suggested I go back and take another look at my favorite author of all time: HPL. In particular, Donald Tyson’s remarkable biography on the latter’s own unverified personal gnosis. It was at this time that I reconsidered MAS in the light he very probably is: something of a very unwitting oracle. To the extent that anyone questions that ascription I would direct them to Mark’s short, but horrifying vignette, in Her Sacred Fires.

    I believe in due course we will re-examine MAS more as a man of letters than an occultist, at least one with any historical or traditional sympathies. In short, like HPL might now be viewed, as bluntly a guy who never quite new what he was unleashing upon the world. This is as much true of MAS the author, as MAS the intrepid: the survivor of Kosovo and myriad and sundry which, if not for the new battles within, would his life not suffer for want of meaning?

    • Seillean says:

      Greeting Geetar646, thank you for your well written and insightful perspective. i didn’t know that Sorita was a defender of Mark’s work. I’m not sure if I should be surprised or not! I know she greatly values historical accuracy over gnosis, but on the other hand she is fiercely loyal to those she considers friends I’ve noticed. I have the utmost respect for her personally!

      I shared your trepidations. I think it’s good to approach Mark’s work with trepidation. it would be foolish not to! Jumping right in with out consideration… well I wouldn’t want to see the results. From the beginning I’ve been somewhat afraid of his work, but it keeps drawing me back no matter how hard I try to leave it behind. I sometimes get the feeling that I have no choice in the matter. (Just as an aside I think the Hellenistic Hekate is just the tip of the iceberg of her, at least from what she has shown me).

      What you said about HPL makes sense. Did you listen to Mark’s Witchtalk interview on this book? He mentions amorphous tentacled clawed beings that are the blood and guts of the gods. The first thing I thought of was Lovecraft. In my opinion he has tapped into something truly primal.

      From what I have gleamed in talking to him, i think he definitely fits the description of an oracle. I think he would probably agree.

      I don’t think his work is for everyone. It’s scary powerful stuff! For those who attempt it though I think the rewards will be worth it. I think people can debate about it until they turn blue in the face. The proof is found in the work if they attempt it.

      My best, and the best of luck to you sir!

  5. Hi Geetar,

    Thank you for the observations – However I must point out that I am an occultist first and foremeost ( as am I devotee before anything else) and not a man of letters – a nice view but not me I feel. I must also say though that the work that is released/unleashed is anything but unwitting. I work almost everyday/ night in some form of possession or ritual environment to bring forth this gnosis. I also work my own material ( to varify what I receive in the realms of all that I am able to ) nor follow any other path ( practice what you write etc)… But to express the possibility of me as viewed as more a of man of letters than an occultist is to sell Hecate Herself short on the work that I have been given to put forward. To be honest I dont really see myself as a writer – it is simply one of the mediums through which I am able to convey this current. On occasion when I am able I also travel and I teach/ assist in person, though I am select about that I do admit; one has to be a little guided with the students that are brought forth. I leave my email open so that the people who perform this work have someone who can advise them when the Alkhemy gets rough ( as it inevitably does before the balance returns) The oracular work is very purposeful and it is because of this work – that has initiated and fuelled my own path- that I began to write. As for my life suffering for want of meaning were it not for whatever supposed reason – errrrr no! Please get to know the man better before casting such an aspersion.

    I agree that my experience of Hecate is no-more Hellenic than it is medieval ( were I to rigidly follow one of those aspects and not the other I am sure that someone would be keen to point out any differences and similarities between the two.. I wont bother listing Thrace etc as I am sure the point has been made) it is the experience of a Goddess whose presence has been here since before man himself, in many civilisations and with many different guises – But, the whole gnosis, that of the ALL, is fragmented; it has been for a very long time – this is why people are still squabbling about whose view of Hecate ( or whichever God/Goddess) is the most genuine/accurate etc instead of getting on with their own spiritual evolution. In the same vein, anything that threatens the so-called set order of things is initially challenged by those who cant or are unable/ too afraid to think or wander outside of their comfy established set of rules box ( a box that isnt really that established, founded correctly or even old in the grand scheme of things). Hecate is a very real and powerful being that ante-dates man himself; She is not owned by a piece of geography or history simply because She was worshipped there at a certain time. Perhaps thats why Hecate wants the ALL restored – it was never going to be an easy task for anyone, but it is now coming to fruition — the question of unvarified gnosis does crop up from time to time and is very simple to answer: ALL gnosis of all faiths and magickal spiritual work etc was unvarified at one time — those with the devotion and courage to perform this work, as oppose to they who only summise about it, bring forth (for me, in the instance of the one who was chosen to return it, the confirmation) the actual verification when they perform the work..and this number of people with very powerful resutls is growing rapidly. Put simply the proof is in perfroming the rites and the spiritual evolution within. Any spiritual gnosis is unvarified no matter what one hears from others, until it is personally performed – hence the gnosis i.e. the Knowing that this work is causing the necessary change and creating the required DIRECT connection to source. They who do this are the people that are chosen by Hecate and Her kin, those who feel drawn to this work and who then undertake the task of soul evolution that lies woven within it. In the passage of time Geeter, I believe that I will be long forgotten but this work and that which now srpings from it through the work of other devotees will still be there; viewed from the occult, not the literary, perspective — time will tell all.

    I enjoyed your brief appraisal of Baptism of Fire – that about summed the darker aspects of that process up – granted there were the Stellar aspects, but given as whole the Rite of the Phoenix put me through the mill ( the lessons that I had coming and all that I had of course asked for, no less ) — was it really that horrible –er, yes.. but its effects are tailored to the individual to break apart and re-biuld how SHE wants them for the work that She has for them! Was it worthwhile – definately, it was not just life changing it was soul path changing! Would I do it again? — Absolutley, every week if She asked me to ( but hopefully She wont 🙂

    If you do become more curious about the work I can be found on my primalcraft email.

    Have a nice weekend.

    In Nomine Hecate,

    MAS

    • geetar646 says:

      Dear Mark,

      I am honored by your reply. Your books are truly objets d’art and need no defense to my admittedly negligible criticism.

      I would add that you are obviously a brave person physically as well as intellectually because you do not offer your works for review to sycophant critics. An artistic risk and one to be recognized and honored.

      So, quickly, just an explanation of my observations so far in working through the Trident:

      As to “man of letters,” if true adherents to your path don’t show up (perish the thought), the works carry on in their own merit as literary creation. In this, the Spaniard’s illustrations help the creation much; I remember W.S. Blake’s own first editions in this regard. These are lasting editions to be valued, passed on to future generations and prized.

      As to “no battles left to fight,” please consider it a compliment. In this regard, you have some pretty good company: Samurai poets and the anonymous authors of most of the Upanishads.

      As to UPG, I will leave the criticisms up to a fiercer critic and one of your more zealous supporters who’s better looking than us both in any event, and now has a YouTube on the subject — inspired in no small part I suspect by your breathtaking authorship.

      I conclusion, our differences petty, my resounding Bravo and Encore still stands.

      • Hi Geetar,

        Thank you for your reply sir. Actually my partner has informed me that I read your post the wrong way – so I feel I must apologise here.. I can be a little tetchy after 3 Atlantean rituals in one week ( catch up time with the work for future books, but it takes its toll for a short while). Having re-read your post I can see the actual compliments in there . ..not initially taken in by my own literary shortcomings today – so again my apologies.

        I am however, thrilled that you view the books in this way and I shall pass your comments on to Irene DM of Namtaru Creations as I know that they will be very well received ( she loves Blake, for obvious reasons) – Irene has the ability to actually channel the current without performing the rites and is thus capable of transferring my visions into artform – it has been said that working with me is not the easiset task so she does deserve credit for that alone.

        I have to admit I have been compared to a few things in my time ( mostly when in the Paras) but never a Samurai poet – that has made my evening. Thank you!

        I havent seen Sorita’s posts or the U-tube channel – if possible could you please post them or even drop them into a quick email at primalcraft@gmail.com as my curiousity is peaked now.

        Well we shall see what the future holds with the 4th book – I resisted Hecate on this because it is not a current or path that I wanted, despite its obvious and tremendous power, but I was given it for that very reason — so the critics will have plenty of gasoline to throw on the fire with that work .. still at least the forums wont be quiet and Hecate’s work is is out there, along with that of Her kin

        Nice to meet you,

        Have a really great weekend!!

        In Nomine Hecate,

        MAS

  6. geetar646 says:

    Thanks again, Mark.

    Over the weekend, I tried to compose a balanced critique of your work which flows from your recent observation to Karagan on Witchtalk, namely, that the Trident may be approached by a practitioner and/or by those who view it as having intrinsic literary merit.

    I fall into the latter category with occasional nods to the former. In any event, should my review (which I view to be balanced and a far cry from any fawning here over anything) serve you in any way, particularly in regards the seemingly less-recognized perspective that the Trident possesses real literary and surrealistic merit, please feel free to use my review in anyway you see fit.

    Thanks again for undertaking these very unusual and imaginative writings.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A1ZMU6B1FGDQZZ/ref=cm_pdp_rev_title_1?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview#R38TF9EGPXT0MN

    • Seillean says:

      (which I view to be balanced and a far cry from any fawning here over anything)

      Perhaps it’s my turn to not be sure if I should be offended or not! By “here” are you referring to my review? I should be greatly distressed if you perceived it as fawning! I went through great pains to be impartial and fair in my judgment of the work.

      Either way, your opinion is always welcome here!

      I enjoyed reading your own review that you linked to. Well done! I also enjoyed the resulting conversation between yourselves here. It is a pleasure and rarity to see conversations on potentially controversial subjects being conducted in a gentlemanly manner on the internet!

      My sincerest best to you.

      • Hi Rick,

        I rather read it as here-over ( i.e. not in reference to your review but in reference to my work under review in this particular (Geetar’s review)instance.

        Geetar I have to say that I am thrilled with the overview. I will use this as it illuminates the books from angle that I had not yet myself perceived.The work now has a positive response from 3 very intelligent individuals. I give the work to Richard because of his link to the balanced aspects of the Craft and all that is encompasses ( whilst knowing full well that if he doesnt like it he will make that clear) and to Asenath Mason because of her vast experience and devotion to the Draconian current ( that lady is all about the work and again, is someone who will only say it how she perceives it and no other way). To now have the work looked at from a literary perspective in this way – something that I had not even considered let alone expected – is truly wonderful ..and each review by a person who has plain speaking values. It really is wonderful for the work – may thanks to all of you. I must add though, that true credit goes to the source, not the author, for without their voices and power – my own would be nothing let alone even heard. To that end I believe that the words In Nomine Hecate best express my inner feeling.

        In the Shadow of the Trident,

        Mark.

      • geetar646 says:

        Dear Sir:

        I present my observations in regards the occult-reading public in general, e.g., Karagan, Indigo Astraya, and various in the blogosphere. MAS’ work is not belles letters and deserves to be recognized as such.

        There is a trend, even endorsed tragically by Sorita d’Este and some of the bloggers you have listed below, e.g., Sarah Lawless, to adopt the perspective that “if I disagree with the criticism let’s merely delete it.” Apparently, it takes a military man to have the guts to resist that trend which, I have asserted in my review, is inherently unscientific.

        I am not familiar with your blog and have not addressed my comments to anyone in particular. I intended only to make clear that I do not know MAS, am not friends with him on any personal level, nor do I participate in any “on line occult scene.” I wish to recognize and honor, if only in a small way, his courageous search for that truth as he himself as experienced it and has thereafter defended it, openly and without reserve or prior restraint, against his many critics.

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