The Mystical Qabala by Dion Fortune                            Review by Michele Jackson
This is probably the best introduction to the Qabala as used by the Golden Dawn available.  Difficult concepts are explained in an easy to understand manner, yet each concept is covered thoroughly. The author starts off slowly and then builds on previously discussed concepts, unlike many books on the subject, which seem to assume some previous knowledge or which oversimplify. 
Fortune was a member of the Golden dawn and herwriting suffers at times from the elitism of that group in her day, but she should be forgiven for these minor lapses as they are rare and it is obvious that she wanted her book and this information to be available to anyone who was interested. 
Fortune starts her book with some background information on the Qabala and its influence on the Western Esoteric Tradition. She goes on to give a simple overview of the system as a whole and
then describes the individual components. A chapter is devoted to each Sephirah with the first chapter being quite long and detailed and each succeeding chapter building on the one before it. Upon completion of this book you will have an excellent understanding of the Tree of Life. My only disappointment is that it did not go on to discuss the Paths. Fortune stated that she planned to do this in another book, but she never did.
Fortune does mention Tarot in the book. Each chapter has at least a paragraph discussing the cards that are assigned to the Sephirah being discussed. Since the book is limited to discussing the Sephiroth, the tarot discussion is limited to the Minor Arcana Ace through Ten. Fortune does throw in some observations on the Tarot, such as her views on the correct purposes of a reading (not for silly questions) and whether one should charge for readings (per Fortune, one shouldn’t). 
Overall this is an outstanding book that should be in the library of anyone interested in Esoteric Tarot.
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One of the least understood things in Christian philosophy is the problem of evil; and one
of the things least adequately dealt with in the Christian ethic is the problem of force, or
severity, as contrasted with mercy and mildness. Consequently Geburah, the Fifth
Sephirah, which has for additional titles Din (Justice) and Pachad (fear), is one of the least
understood of all the Sephiroth, and is therefore one of the most important. Were it not
that the Qabalistic Doctrine explicitly lays it down that all the Ten Sephiroth are holy,
there are many who would be inclined to look upon Geburah as the evil aspect of the Tree
of Life. Indeed the planet Mars, whose sphere is the Mundane Chakra of Geburah, is
called in Astrology an infortune.
The four fives of the Tarot pack are all evil cards, each according to its type. In fact the
whole suit of swords, which is under the presidency of Mars, represents contentiousness;
for its best aspects are “Rest from Strife” and “Success after Struggle”, and where a
sword card is associated with a Sephirah whose Mundane Chakra is one of the astrological
infortunes, the result is disastrous, and we find the Lords of Defeat and Ruin in this suit.
From the Mystical Qabala, pages173 - 174 , 186

The Mystical Qabala
Author: Dion Fortune
ISBN: 0877285969

Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson