Real Energy: Systems, Spirits, And Substances to Heal, Change, And Grow, by Phaedra & Isaac Bonewits
New Page Books, 288 pp.
If you’re looking for a book that provides you a thorough examination of the basic concepts of energy work, in terms of both personal energy and environmental energy then you’ll find that this book is right up your alley. Phaedra and Isaac do a wonderful job of explaining energy and its connection with elemental energy, astrology, natural resources, Chinese belief systems, and more.
This book is theory intensive. They provide a few basic exercises so readers can work with the concepts, but their focus is more so on explaining the why and how of energy work. I would’ve liked to have seen more focus on practice, and particularly some intermediate and advanced energy work, but even without that the theory in the book can provide readers an opportunity to experiment if they are willing to take the concepts and run with them.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about energy work and what it involves. You’ll also get a dose of Bonewits humor, always good for giving you a moment to take a break and think, “Did they really say that?”
Philosophy of Magic, by Arthur Versluis
168 pp, 1986
This is a quick and short read. I liked some aspects of this book, but I’d also have to disagree with this author on a lot of his views. He tends toward a very mystical approach to magic, that its done mainly for spiritual purposes. He considers the use of it for practical purposes to deviate from the true goal of magic. The influence of Eastern mysticism is pretty apparent in this book. He also had a lot of inaccurate information on alchemy, trying to reduce to solely a symbolic activity. In this his book echoes the trend of a lot of authors that have attempted to reduce magic to pure symbolism.
It’s an interesting read for a mystical perspective on magic. Some people will like it better if that’s their approach.
Secrets of Western Sex Magic: Magical Energy & Gnostic Trance, by Frater U.: D.:
Llewellyn Worldwide, 1567187064, 2001
Well worth picking up. Frater U.D. avoids being pretentious and expresses the concepts behind sex magic in a clear and coherent manner.
I particularly liked the exercises he included, which he made very accessible. His use of references gives him another bonus in my book.
I also liked that he presented sections of sex magic for people who aren’t heterosexual. It’s still relatively rare to see books that offer that for people who choose to live a different life
Ecstatic Ritual: Practical Sex Magic, by Brandy Williams
Prism Press, 1990
This was a rather interesting book on sex magic, that unfortunately is out-of-print. I got mine through Alibris. For someone who isn’t an experienced sex magician, this is an excellent book to read. As someone who has been actively working sex magic for a long time, I didn’t find anything new per se, though some of her approaches differed a bit from other books I read. I found the concept of sealing the chakras to be particularly interesting and useful.
Another thing I found very fascinating is that Williams spends a small, but significant section describing BDSM in magic. She describes the use of guided meditation in BDSM, as well as some other practices…and as far as I can tell is the first author to do so.
Well worth a read.
Ceremonial Magic & The Power of Evocation: A System of Personal Power, by Joseph C. Lisiewski
New Falcon Press, 204 pp.
This books is a paradox in that it is both an excellent reference book and tome and at the same time illustrates what happens when a magician becomes inflexible. Lisiewski makes some excellent points about the new age movement of magic and the problems that can occur if you only visualization. Also his point about being as faithful as possible to the grimoires you work with is well worth noting in terms of the build-up of magic and belief that can make an evocation successful, or not as the case may be.
I also found his magical axioms to be highly useful in terms of understanding the subjective synthesis and offering an explanation of why and how magic works. The axioms alone are worth reading and considering.
With that said I also found a lot of this work dogmatic and faulty. The need, for instance, to say a prayer to the god of your childhood faith because of the subconscious is rather odd, given his association with Hyatt. It is certainly possible to deconstruct such beliefs from the subconscious. Lisieweski also made some assumptions about evocation, such as what happens when an evocation fails which makes a generalized assumption about the success or lack thereof of evocation. Having succeeded and failed with evocations I will note that my failures did not produce the same results his did. Finally his subjective synthesis, while intriguing also has a lot of room for exploration beyond how he defined it and I’d suggest not limiting yourself to what he has to say about it.