High Magic: Theory & Practice, by Frater U.: D.:
Llewellyn Worldwide, 0738704717, 422 pp., 2005
‘…Many modern-day magicians regard the ultimate goal of high magic to be the recognition of one’s own true will, or Thelema. If the will begins to sway, the whole magical operation automatically strays off track as well. That’s why mental training, or training of the will, always includes cognitive training and disciplining because every person is naturally inclined to act in according to the pleasure principle whenever he or she has the opportunity. Although there’s principally nothing wrong with this, it often leads to negligence and convenience. This kind of person is quite successful in avoiding the conscious pursuit of one’s own will’.1
You’ve seen it before, another book which attempts to encompass the entirety of occult technique and practice, ceremonial in particular, in a single volume. Impossible? Of course. Though this one does have the slightly distinguishing feature that it was written by Frater U.: D.:, generally known as a chaote.
Comprised of thirty-four short chapters, some only a few pages long, though the theory and work described are mostly ceremonial, it is written with a decisive chaote slant. This is clearly a book to be worked through in sequence, though while this book seems, at times, geared toward the complete neophyte, the descriptions are often brief and perhaps not as obvious or clear as they could be.
Further to the ceremonial-chaote theme, in addition to the standard ceremonial rituals one might expect, such as the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram with commentary, magical numerical formulas, etc., Frater U.:D.: also discusses magical warfare, sigil magick, and chaos magick.
While Frater U.: D.: states that he would like to keep book recommendations to a minimum (pg 64), he does suggest the odd title, including his own out-of-print and highly expensive Practical Sigil Magic (which I annoyingly still have yet to locate at a reasonable price).
Toward the end we find Frater U.: D.:’s essay on the four models of magick, which has been reprinted on the Internet freely (you can find it on Spiral Nature here: “Models of Magic“). Though this version is more expansive, and drops the bit about meta-models.
There are a few more or less minor quibbles, errors in the text, for example, on page 200 there is a reference to an illustration of a dagger not present, and on page 89 he makes note of a symbol described as a horned Taurus containing a dot, but neither the illustration on page 85, nor the one on 91 bear this dot. The text would have benefited from an index as well, while I understand that the text is meant to be worked through, for those who have read it and want to refer back to something, there will be much guessing and tedious page flipping. He quotes Crowley at length, especially Magick, and often.
Aside from the obvious chaote references of phases attributed to dead assassins, and the sigil work of Austin Osman Spare, additional chaote doctrine pops up amidst the ceremonial jargon such as this sage advice: ‘The magician should become familiar with various philosophies of life not only in theory, but more importantly in practice as well. Only then can one control every aspect of his or her own reality production’.2
All in all, it’s not a bad introduction to ceremonial work, presenting the attitude of a chaote with a ceremonial magician’s devotion to principles and practice. It’s content has been seen before many times (I’ve got a good half dozen similar on my shelves), but none presented in quite this flavour. If this should be your first introduction to the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and its like outside the Internet, you could do worse.Footnotes: