A masterful account of Éliphas Lévi, one of the most celebrated Kabbalistic authors of all times.
The influence Lévi exerted on such esoteric movement leaders as A.E. Waite; Madame Blavatsky; Papus; Aleister Crowley; Rudolf Steiner; Max Heindel; H. Spencer Lewis; Paul Foster Case and others is explored as well as remarkable insights into Lévi's life and times.
One entire chapter, devoted to Masonic legend Albert Pike, analyzes Pike’s "Morals and Dogma" revealing entire sections Pike took verbatim from the works of Lévi.
This is a powerful and essential book by a respected Masonic and esoteric scholar.
Published by Cornerstone Book Publishers.
"The life and work of a 19th century occult leader may not seem a likely subject for a book by a Christian theologian but Ennis’ Dr. Robert L. Uzzel is an exception. Uzzel, pastor of Wayman Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, may be a minister but he’s also a scholar, and his new book about Eliphas Levi (1810-1875), the Hebrew-named French philosopher, author and mystic, goes a long way toward proving his expertise on religious history as well as his literary skill.
"Uzzel’s 'Eliphas Levi and the Kabbalah: The Masonic and French Connection of the American Mystery Tradition' was published this month by Cornerstone Books, and has as its theme the correlation of the Victorian teachings of Levi to modern day Freemasonry and other esoteric organizations.
"'Eliphas Levi’s writings reveal a great deal of relevance for an understanding of various theological, social and political developments during the 20th and 21st centuries,' wrote Uzzel. 'Despite changing emphases a basic unity runs throughout his works.'
"The first book to explore Levi’s influence on American occult thought, 'Eliphas Levi and the Kabbalah' does not pretend to be a definitive treatment of the legendary metaphysician. As Uzzel states, his study is intended to 'highlight themes and issues that will provide data and scope for further investigation and research.' Yet his book stands as a balanced and thorough treatment of a brilliant, if controversial, religious leader about whom fact has often been superseded by legend.
"Uzzel’s evocation of Levi’s world is both biographical and interpretative, giving the reader a portrait of the man behind the beliefs as well as an assessment of his broad impact on the cultural, political and religious tenor of his times.
Generally credited with the resurgence of popular interest in spiritualism in the 19th century, Levi has left a considerable legacy, according to Uzzel.
"'It is probable that a great deal of modern occult terminology and practice is indebted to him,' he claims in his book.
"Born Alphonse Louis Constant in Paris, he adopted the Jewish pseudonym 'Eliphas Levi' for his books on medieval Hebrew Kabbalah, ritual magic and other topics contrary to the orthodox Catholicism he rejected as a young priest. Considered a heretic by many, he left the Church to espouse clairvoyance, astrology, the use of tarot cards and the theory of astral light ('the life force and power source that fills all space and living things.')
"Uzzel presents Levi’s beliefs fairly, with equal light focused on how the man’s teachings influenced such movements as Theosophy, Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, and how more conventional Jewish and Christian scholars opposed them.
The author also makes a good case for Levi’s posthumous influence on literature and art, through the poetry of followers like the English writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton ('Owen Meredith') and in the paintings of the post-Deco surrealistic school.
"Wrote Uzzel: 'In all periods of history there have been seekers after light and wisdom who have believed that greater consciousness was possible and that such consciousness could lead to personal and social transformation. During the ‘heart years’ of the 19th century, Eliphas Levi was just such a person. His writings inspired many individuals and groups during his lifetime with the perception of such a hope and they continue to do so today. His approach to magic and mysticism has found a ready audience not only among occultists of various types but also among diverse groups, including social conservatives and American youth seeking liberation and expanded consciousness through counter culture activity. As long as the desire for esoteric spirituality remains in the human consciousness, Eliphas Levi’s life and work will endure.'
"Uzzel is the author of two other books, a biography of Blues singer Blind Lemon Jefferson and a history of Texas Freemasonry. A teacher of history and political science at Paul Quinn College, Uzzel holds a Ph.D in World Religions from Baylor University. A native of Waco, he is married to the former Debra Bass, has four children and seven grandchildren."
- Randy Bryan Bigham, Ennis Daily News