Tag: ethics

Yoga Morality, by Georg Feuerstein

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Yoga Morality: Ancient Teachings at a Time of Global Crisis, by Georg Feuerstein
Hohm Press, 1890772666, 292 pp. (incl. bibliography and index), 2007

“The idea current in some circles that spirituality has nothing to do with morality is an unproductive and even dangerous will-o’-the-wisp. If spirituality is not embodied here and now, it is nothing at all.”

In the preface Feuerstein writes that “Yoga is not to be measured by the glamour of its spectacular physical postures or fabulous states of meditation.” Instead he notes that yoga is a spiritual tradition “concerned with personal growth and the goal of self-transcendence to the point of perfect inner freedom.” As such, this book as little to do with the yoga we’ve become familiar with, no postures, no exercises. Instead, Yoga Morality focuses on the ethical side of things, as Feurerstein sees it. Continue reading

Review: The Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, by Gerald del Campo

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The Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, by Gerald del Campo
Megalithica Books, 9781905713189, 434 pp. (incl. bibliography and recommended reading), 2008

“If a Holy Book were to be taken literally, there would be no point in studying magick or the Qabalah – no mystery…no excitement of the chase, and not much of a holy book either. Thelema is not a religion for the intellectually lazy.”

The Heretic’s Guide to Thelema is comprised of three books in one. The first, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, was first published by Llewellyn in 1994,  while New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed was published in 2003 by Luxor Press.  The third book, The Ethics of Thelema, has never before been published and is original to Megalithica Books.

New Aeon Magick was written for Continue reading

Review: The History of British Magick After Crowley, by Dave Evans

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The History of British Magick After Crowley: Kenneth Grant, Amado Crowley, Chaos Magic, Satanism, Lovecraft, The Left Hand Path, Blasphemy and Magical Morality, by Dave Evans
Hidden Publishing, 97895523700, 435 pp. (incl. appendix, bibliography and index), 435 pp. (incl. appendix, bibliography and index)

I’ve known Dave online for a number of years, so I was excited when he said his book had finally been published, and looked forward to reading it. His doctoral dissertation in history forms the basis for The History of British Magick After Crowley, and as such it is structured in an academic format, opening with a detailed explanation of his methodology, and his involvement with both magick and academia.

Magickians are not known for strict adherence to objective truths and much of the tradition is oral or relies on in-person contact. The academic approach taken with his work may seem threatening to some, challenging myths and records which have endured simply because they’re oft repeated. Evans has done an admirable job sifting through the available data to bring us what can be verified, and provided a detailed record of his sources.

This is a study in magickal thought in the sixty years since Crowley’s death. Evans writes that “…although Ronald Hutton makes the excellent point that in the last 50 or so years Britain gave Wicca to the world, I would add we also gave it Chaos magick and Thelema.” Indeed, chaos magick, a more recent current which emerged about thirty years ago, and the philosophy behind seems to subtly inform much of the work – not terribly surprising as Evans comes from this background.

Elusive figures are tracked down and put into perspective, such as Evans’ exploration of what’s known of the life and works of Kenneth Grant, and devotes a significant amount of time to critically examining the claims of “Amado Crowley”, self-proclaimed son of Aleister Crowley. Though in the latter case the space dedicated seems excessive, and indeed it sounds like there is enough to be a book’s worth on its own, and may have served better elsewhere, as Amado’s contributions to modern magick have been, to be generous, negligible.

In conclusion, Evans writes “I trust that this work has performed several tasks, not the least that it shows the utility of investigating such a subject, which although a minority activity, informs many wider beliefs and societal activities, such as interests in folklore, the urge to religious belief in general, superstition and in the realm of self-understanding, we live in a society and culture in Britain which is steeped in magical history, and to understand more about the nature of magic allows us to understand more about our own histories, our own culture, and to a large extent, our own selves”. In this he has succeeded well.

The stylistic inconsistencies can sometimes be confusing, but do not detract from the text. It is also repetitive at times, but for those not familiar with the characters involved, this may be helpful.

Evans, that strange and rare combination of magickian and historian, has produced a useful source book for students of both disciplines.

Ethics: More than just right and wrong

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Beer sampler, photo by Quinn Dombrowski


The following is a piece on ethics and morality. Many of my works tend to be in the area of applied ethics, such as on matters of vegetarianism, peace, sexuality, and abortion. However, these are issues in the realm of applied ethics.

That is to say, they are the application of an ethical base — how an idea of “right” and “wrong” applies to the real world and the issues that confront us. For example, one ethic might be: “Any action that causes suffering is immoral,” and the applied ethics of this would be that to oppose euthanasia is immoral, that the abortion of an unconscious fetus is not immoral, that to eat meat and promote agribusiness’s murder of animals is immoral, among other things.

This essay differs from my other essays in this one aspect: I am not dealing with ethics as it is applied to our real world, but rather with ethics as it exists in its “primal form.” However, like my other essays, I can only hope that it is informative and not a drag to read.

Desire and action

It is not an uncommon incident to hear a person attempt to justify their actions with, “But I was drunk,” and it is not rare to hear someone similarly attempt to justify their actions with, “But I was under the influence of drugs.” In both situations (of which they are not very much intrinsically different), a person is trying to explain why they did something, whether it was something that embarrasses them or is immoral. Whether it justifies an action will vary on who you ask. I am not trying to question whether it is “acceptable” or “unacceptable” for such occurrences to take place. But the reason why a person will make such statements about their inebriated state is because it’s an explanation as to why they did what they did, and in a very sincere way, a sort of way of saying that no punishment should be given — or at least, if a punishment is given, that it is given with extreme lightness. Continue reading

Review: Before You Cast a Spell, by Carl McColman

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Before You Cast a Spell: Understanding the Power of Magic, by Carl McColman
New Page Books, 1564147169, 143 pp. (+ appendices & index), 2004

I’ve read some of Carl’s books before and enjoyed what I read. He tends to say exactly what he means. And he lets you know early on where his books are going. On page 9 of this book the first paragraph tells it all: “This book does not contain any spells, or any specific instructions on how to cast spells, raise and direct energy, or perform any other kind of magical procedure.”

Carl’s intent is to focus on the spiritual principles of magic. Unlike many books today, this one aims to make the reader do some mind stretching exercises. If you are looking for fluffy reading, this is not it, even though it is less than 150 pages. Continue reading

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