I consider this list essential to any metaphysical study. It falls into two groups, the first being those books that deal with attainment through the Western Mystery System. The model for this is the Golden Dawn grade and ritual system oh attainment.
The second being those books that reveal the master symbol system of the Golden Dawn; The Tree of Life and the Qabala from which it sprang. These books are not directly related to any grade. They are an ongoing study at any stage of personal development.
Hall, Calvin S, and Vernan J. Nordby. 1973. A Primer of Jungian Psychology: New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.
This book is extremely valuable to understanding the transformation process you will go through, and provides a working model of the processes of the psyche. Chapters two, three and four are of special interest to metaphysical students. I consider this required reading. It is the first book you should read. It is written for the layman; an easy read.
Regardie, Dr Israel. Current edition. The Golden Dawn: An Encyclopedia of Practical Occultism: Saint Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications.
The Golden Dawn reveals the knowledge lectures, magical systems, and rituals of the Order. This is the core material of the Orders plan of attainment. There are two different publishers. Use this one as other writings use the pagination of the Llewellyn editions.
Fortune, Dion. Current edition. The Mystical Qabalah: York Beach, Main: Samuel Weiser, Inc.
This is the beginning point for your studies of the Western Qabalah and The Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is the master Mandala of the Golden Dawn. It has 32 paths which you should travel and meditate upon. Dion Fortune reveals the first ten, the Sephiroth. They appear as circles on the Tree. She did not reveal the other 22 paths since she was under an oath of secrecy at the time of writing.
I caution you about two things regarding this book. It was written over 70 years ago, and she at times gave her opinion about things which were understood back then. Read it all, but when you study, ignore her personal opinions. They do not pertain to today. Also you must read it several times to extract the knowledge she reveals in each paragraph. Her book is a gold mine for the beginner as well as for the more advanced.
Case, Paul Foster. 1981. The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order: York Beach, Main: Samuel Weiser, Inc.
This book covers what Dion Fortune omitted; the rest of the 32 paths of the Tree. It includes an exposition of the Fama Fraturnitatis and the Confessio Fraturnitatis, documents of the Rosicrucian Order, but not of any earthly organization. This system is one of personal initiation. His book completes the plan of the Tree of Life and the introduction to the Western Qabalah.
Crowley, Aleister. Current edition. The Qabalah of Aleister Crowley: New York: Samuel Weiser, Inc.
His book contains Gematria, Liber 777, and Sepher Sephiroth. The Sepher Sephiroth is an extensive list of symbols and attributes for the paths of the Tree. A fine research tool, however there are a few errors, but none that should affect your studies. After doing the work of 0=0 neophyte in the Golden Dawn system, you will have no trouble finding and correcting most errors in the literature you study.
The Study Method
The first step is to lightly read or peruse the five volumes to familiarize you with their contents. Next, begin a serious read of one section, and find similar information in the other books. Opening several books at a time is the best approach. This cross referencing will reveal new ideas and help you understand the nature of your subject.
In The Mystical Qabala, you may find yourself studying one paragraph at a time, since Dion Fortune packed so much in a few words. Select a subject and do an outline of the information in such a way that you could use it as a teaching guide. Be brief and concise. If you do not mind marking your books, making notes and highlighting will make it easy to connect the important points.
These five books are the core set for beginning your studies. There are others that will build on this foundation for more advanced work.
The Tarot as a Learning Aid
You will need an esoteric tarot and an exoteric tarot as part of your studies. For the esoteric
tarot (for to few; secret) I recommend The Classic Golden Dawn Tarot in black and white. It follows the written instruction for drawing and coloring the Order deck. The instructions were given to new Adepts by S. L. Mathers, a founder and chief of the Golden Dawn in England. Since this is now published it is no longer esoteric, but is accurate. It can be purchased on line at http://www.dandspublishing.com/ .
For the exoteric tarot I recommend the Mary Hanson Roberts Universal Tarot. This deck was published early on for use by one and all. The artist was Pamela Coleman Smith, under the direction of Sir A. E.Waite, a contributer and scholar to the Golden Dawn System. The deck is unique in that it depicts scenes in each of the minor arcana. This made it possible for those who new how, to associate the meaning of the card to a path on the tree.
There are three other Golden Dawn style decks that you may also use. One is the BOTA Tarot which is more or less a copy of the Waite deck, but with a different coloring system.
The golden Dawn Tarot by Robert Wang. It was first G D deck to be published. Wang worked under the direction Dr Regardie.
The last is the Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot by Tabatha Cicero.