Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil, by Liz Greene
Weiser Books, 9781578635078, 196 pp., 1976, 2011
It’s hard to say 25 years later how good of a book Saturn really is. Some books it’s easy to tell how they’ve aged, but this isn’t one of them. My problem in discerning how good the book is stems from the fact that throughout the book, the foreword, the blurb on the back it talks about how revolutionary and ground breaking this book is, yet nothing in it is new to me, in fact every book I have on modern astrology agrees with it. So either this book really was prolific in that sense, or it was overly hyped up.
The basic premise of this work is two-fold: Saturn is this misunderstood force and can be beneficial, and astrology has to be taken out of the realm of dictatorial fate.
Tackling the first part, this “New look at an Old Devil” this is where I have trouble seeing what makes this book special. If it was the first book to engage with Saturn in a positive light, then it has done its job, because all my modern astrology books mention some of the good side of Saturn, and when I was apprenticing my astrology teacher showed me both sides. Continue reading
Runecaster’s Handbook: the Well of Wyrd, by Edred Thorsson
Red Wheel/Weiser, 9781578631360, 129 pp. (incl. glossary and index), 1988, 1999
Runecaster’s Handbook is a concise volume, targeted at providing the reader with just enough information to go about making and casting the rune-lots. As such, it touches briefly on a great many subjects, constantly referencing and referring the curious reader to Thorsson’s other works: Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic, and Runelore: A Handbook of Esoteric Runology.
Thorsson begins with a chapter on the history of the runes, followed by a chapter on divinatory theory. His approach to history is scholarly rather than the wishful thinking commonly found in Occult or New Age books. He clearly outlines which associations and practices have been documented historically and is explicit in presenting interpretation as interpretation rather than fact. Continue reading
Qabbalistic Magic: Talismans, Psalms, Amulets, and the Practice of High Ritual, by Salomo Baal-Shem
Destiny Books, 9781594773587, 470 pp., 2011
There are books aplenty on magic and its many side paths, but there are only a few of which I can truly say, ‘this is unique, this is something you must have on your shelf, this is a book you will turn to again and again.’
- Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki
Ashcroft-Nowicki is right, this is just such a book and it’s very refreshing to see. What makes this book on Qabalistic magick so different? No lengthy tables of associations for the Spheres and Paths, no cross-pollination or paradigms, no Christianization; this book is about the Jewish Qabalah, rather than the altered form more popular in Western Magickal Traditions. Continue reading
Foundations of Magic: Techniques and Spells That Work, by J F O’Neill
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738707430, 253 pp. (incl. appendices and index), 2005
Reviewed from an uncorrected proof
Foundations of Magic is presented as an introductory course to non-denominational magic. It has been written with the absolute beginner in mind, even, or perhaps especially, the sceptical beginner. O’Neill’s goal is to teach the reader what he regards as the basic skills required for successful magical workings and provide a mini-grimoire of spells that the student can undertake for their own benefit and to demonstrate that magic does in fact work.
The book is organized into two parts. Part I comprises three chapters, covering the definition and description of Magic, the Psychology of Magic, and lastly, the actual process of casting spells, including a practise spell. Continue reading
The Light of Sex: Initiation, Magic, and Sacrament, by Maria de Naglowska
Translated by Donald Traxler, Forward by Hans Thomas Hakl
Inner Traditions, 9781594774157, 125 pp. (incl. appendices, notes and index), 2011
Maria de Naglowska (1883-1936) was born as Mariya Naglovskaya in St Petersburg. She left Russia for Berlin before settling in Geneva; lived in Rome, and later Paris. The rumours surrounding her fly: she may have known Rasputin, she may have had a love affair with Julius Evola, she may have been a member of this or that secret society. We do know that she was a journalist, a poet, and she has several books to her name.
Today de Naglowska may be best remembered for her “translation” of Paschal Beverly Randolph’s Magia Sexualis, which, as I learned from the Donald Traxler’s introduction, seems to have included much of her own material, as well as that from other sources. Though with this new translation of The Light of Sex – the first time it has appeared in English – and several other translations of her work forthcoming from Inner Traditions, her renown is likely to grow.
In Paris de Naglowska earned the nickname La Sophiale de Montparnasse” for her teachings on “Satanism” and sex magick. Though she called herself a “Satanic woman”, her views on Satanism were not based on traditional Christian mythology. She equated god with life, and Satan with the negation of life, and both aspects are a necessary part of being human. Continue reading