This question came to in from Richard Phantastica of Phantastica Bricolage:
I was wondering about a general magical ref text… specific emphasis on symbolism (alchemical, hermetic, qabbalistic, etc.) Any recommendations? I was looking at The Complete Magician’s Tables by Stephen Skinner and The Magician’s Companion by Bill Whitcomb. Any idea regarding those? Feedback would be most appreciated!
I’ve not read The Magician’s Companion, so I can’t comment on that, but it really depends on what you’re after as there are several books which might be suitable. Continue reading
Technology is supposed to improve our lives by making things easier and more convenient, and save us time, freeing us to do more meaningful things. Yet I have not seen a lot of in-depth analysis of the ways technological advances have impacted the occult student.
It’s been suggested that binaural beats can act as a shortcut to years of disciplined meditation and yogic techniques, and while I derive massive benefits from a formal sitting meditation practice, I have found that it is not always the most suitable for preparing you for real life. Your mind may be a still clear pond when perched upon a zafu in a temple setting, but that serenity can fly right out the window the first time you get stressed out at work, or get in a fight with your significant other. Continue reading
The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets: Tradition and Craft, by Claude Lecouteux
Inner Traditions, 264 pp. (incl. appendices, notes, bibliography, and index), 2014
The first part of The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets goes into the traditions related to amulets and the natural magic thereof, and also examines the tension between established Christianity and the long-standing tradition of magick, especially of the apotropaic (evil averting) sort. One is strongly reminded of the generations of priestly execrations of goddess worship in the Bible, which similarly told us how long the practices persisted, and some details of them which we would not otherwise have had.
The priests inveighing against these charms were particularly intent on discouraging the use of magical characters (alphabetic or sigilic writing that conveys spiritual power). They sometimes waxed poetic: “The demon slithers in the characters like the serpent beneath the flowers.” This ties nicely into his statement that “the unknown always inspires the Church with fear.”
Lecouteux summarizes part of this history thus: “Implicit in the background are notions of natural, licit magic and illicit black magic,” ((p. 30)) after giving one of many examples of a churchman condemning the talismanic art as being an implicit pact with a demon, a pattern which, as he points out, is “commonly repeated throughout the sixteenth century.” What this means to me is that the Faustian current which arose in early modern magick didn’t just appear without help. Apparently, it is as possible to call an egregore into being by constant execration as by constant evocation! Continue reading
What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn, by Israel Regardie, forward by Christopher S. Hyatt
New Falcon Publications, 1561840645, 233 pp. (incl. appendix), 1936, 2006
More than 70 years on, Israel Regardie‘s works remain a principal source of information regarding the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He believed that the Golden Dawn was “the sole depository of magical knowledge” and “the only Occult Order of any real worth.” While this may seem slightly exaggerated, it certainly was at the forefront of the scene at the time.
While Regardie may have believed in the order’s practical and mystical methods, he no longer believed the Golden Dawn was the ideal medium to transmit this knowledge. As others (primarily Aleister Crowley) had already disclosed some of it, he thought it prudent to reveal all its teachings to the public to ensure its preservation. Continue reading
In the course of exploring the possibilities of new, more efficient techniques of magic, I was struck by the fact that a structuralist view of the history of magic to date might prove helpful. After all, magicians have always aspired to restate the theory and practice of magic in the language of their times, i.e. in different models pertaining to current world views.
There is, however, some risk involved in such an approach: models do not really explain anything, they are only illustrations of processes, albeit rather useful ones. What’s more, over-systematization tends to obfuscate more than it clarifies and one should not mistake the map for the landscape anyway, a fallacy a great many kabbalists seem to be prone to.
Thus, the following five (or rather: four plus one) models of magic should be seen as a means of understanding the practical possibilities of various magical systems rather than as definitive theories or explanations of the way magic works.
It has proved effective in practice to view magic under the following categories: Continue reading