Saturn Rising by J. T. Kirkbride, is a grimoire of the truest of kinds, more so then you normally see in this modern time. Featuring a good mixture of experiential and researched knowledge, all filtered through years of practice and analysis, one comes out of reading it feeling like they were brought along an authentic voyage of academia, personal Gnosticism, and a perfect amount of synthesis between the two. Much like grimoires of the old times, this isn't a book that you can probably should pick up with no prior knowledge and understanding of what's going on. What you're going to get is a book covering a wide variety of subjects (including numerology, Kabbalah, Goetic evocation, astrology, and Enochian magic) rather broadly, synthesizing the most essential elements of information, and presenting them through a Saturnian death-cultist perspective, all while ordering them in a ritualistic format for in which best for the reader to interpret. While things aren't as vague as one would expect from an older grimoire, there is a level of understanding expected from the reader, not one that's unreasonable by any means. And references to many of the concepts that are not original to his own are attributed to their appropriate authors (often with mention to the specific book in question), so realistically if one is willing to go and do some side-reading everything is rather graspable.
The book is divided into three distinct sections, one complimenting into the next. The first is called Theory, the second Practice, and the third Rituals. Theory details the core elements of the Saturnian current and explores some extremely interesting information (ranging from personal, to historical, to esoteric) gained while perusing his journey through Saturnian gnosis. Every chapter presents itself as an individual essay, covering a topic of interest. Some of them are extremely personal, and relating to the authors own journeys through depression, acceptance of death and Saturn, and the new outlook it's given him. Others touch upon more traditional esoteric subjects like numerology and sacred geometry. One of the more important elements of this section that particularly relates to the practical elements of the later sections is the list of correspondes of Saturn. The list is extensive, probably the best and most thorough you'll find in one place, and covers some things you wouldn't think of.
The second section starts to get a lot more practical, with in essence a complete rundown of his philosophy & approach to magickal practice. Providing his usually thorough and multi-faceted explanations which tie in together various sources and modes of thought to create a well rounded and seemingly well backed method of ritual, Kirkbride offers the reader an intimate view at his own inner esoteric workings. Admittedly based around his own synthesized approach, the system still manages to keep all the traditional elements one will be familiar with, mostly expanding more so then creating radical diversions or exceptions. And with this tone going forward, the book looses a lot of it's more casual tone, while still retaining a bit of the earlier books more traditional essay structure, the book tackles things on a very practical level. All of the ritual tools one needs for working are covered, with any notes on specifications to working with the Saturnian current given, an understanding to the Saturnian perspective to the Watchtowers is given (which is rather grounding), a unique theory (once again based around science and numerology) is provided on which is the best approach to dealing with planetary hours (something that made a lot of sense to me), as well as several chapters are provided on the very act of ritual and magickal service dedicate to Saturn. The last section of the book continues very much with the theme of the second, but disperses of any introductory or essay material and provides nothing but (as the title of the section suggests) rituals for practical use.
As you read chapter after chapter, it seems to channel into a consistent current that explores the realms of Death and Rebirth in a way unlike I have seen presented before. Much like I've come to expect from Aeon Sophia Press' authors this book keeps a cool head grounded in rationalism and metaphor and symbology that has historical and practical relevance. And, much like I mentioned above, the ordering of approach to the book isn't something haphazardly thrown together. While each chapter stands on it's own, they also (especially upon first read) seems to link into the next, providing a very consistent tone and reading experience, with the information from each previous chapter effectively reinforcing the topics in the next. The things that I really admire about this book are it's tendency to approach things from a highly skeptical and intellectual approach, all without being convoluted by pragmatism. Much of his theoretical basing have both tracing to religious/spiritual applications and scientific theories. However, he doesn't do this in an attempt to dismiss the paranormal nature of reality. He does believe everything can be described by science, but what is science but observation and description of results? In that sense, all true magickal practice is a form of science, and just because all the mechanisms aren't full understood at this present time, doesn't mean they will not be. And so for that I highly appreciate the rigorous attempt to merge the scientific method with the magickal method,all without being dismissive of one or the other. And, as I mentioned he doesn't delve into pragmatism, which is something I see almost all other attempts at such a synthesis leading into. The mystery to the practical and observational elements of magick is not denied, and isn't attempted to be washed away. If anything he described specifically how we have taken far to much away in our attempts to rationalize things in a modern attempt to translate old magickal text. Another key important point addressed in this book that I think needs to be listened to. Honestly, I could not agree more with him on his dedication to the scientific approach towards both research and practice, as well as his openness to the fallibility of our understanding and to our need to look past what we can "explain" in our traditional views of things, and I truly hope to see more of this attitude from other authors in the field of esoteric study.
Overall, the book was of high value and importance to my own esoteric studies. Many of the concepts while being described in other texts I have read before, were never articulated so soundly, with such interesting connection, and in such an obvious manner. Despite the requirement for pre-knowledge, after reading this book that "pre-knowledge" you had will become so much more clear in understanding and depth, even beyond a Saturnian perspective (particularly in Numerology, there are several fascinating correspondences his makes throughout his essays which have definitily illuminated my understandings of certain things I took for granted). Also anyone who is either a Capricorn (the sign ruled by Saturn), or particularly interested in Death Worship, or engaging in rituals with Saturn, this book is an ESSENTIAL read. Even as someone who is not a Capricorn, not a Death Cultist, and doesn't regularly (at this point and time) engage in rituals with Saturn this book was a very fascinating read, and has made me far more interested in incorporation Saturn in greater amounts in my own future ritual practice.
The book can be purchased in several different format at Aeon Sophia Press...