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Review: Full Contact Magick, by Kerr Cuhulain (2)

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Full Contact Magick: A Book of Shadows for the Wiccan Warrior, by Kerr Cuhulain
Llewellyn, 0738702544, 2002

Kerr Cuhulain is a Wiccan police officer, based in Vancouver; he’s been in the field for the past 24 years, and a Wiccan for more than thirty. I’ve not read his first work, The Wiccan Warrior, so I can’t compare the two, but from what I’ve read in this book, I like his easy style, and the general applicability of what he writes.

It’s written as a guide to beginning your own Book of Shadows, to be worked through as you go along. It’s broken up into five parts, one for each element (Spirit, Earth, Water, Fire, Air – the reasoning behind the order explained near the end of the book). Cuhulain gives comprehensive explanations behind each point he brings up, which is a refreshing change, whether I agree with them or not. It shows that he has thought carefully about what he believes and I respect that.

Cuhulain states that one cannot be Wiccan if they do not adhere to the Wiccan Rede – I’m sure this will generate mixed reactions among readers. His explanation of karma isn’t terrible, and he does acknowledge the destructive tendencies apparently inherent in human nature and it’s purpose, noting the adage ‘In order to heal you have to be able to hex’.

He makes apt parallels between disciplines such as martial arts and magick, manipulating ki and ritual mindset, etc. bringing his style of Wicca and neo-pagan magick in line with an inspiring warrior tradition.

There are a couple minor things that are an annoyance more than serious problems. The first, incorrectly stating that Litha occurs on the autumnal equinox (page 176). The correct date is noted as being the summer solstice in the glossary, but those new to Wicca could easily become confused by this misrepresentation. As well, the anti-drug stance he takes toward magick and ritual is disappointing, but then again, he is a cop, so it’s somewhat expected.

There were a few little things that impressed well upon me, such as Cuhulain’s use of CE/BCE to refer to dates rather than the Christian date system, which is often paradoxically found in some Wiccan and neo-pagan texts. As well as his uses he or she throughout the book. I love that it has footnotes, and attributes quotes and information correctly. Small things, but they make a difference.

Though this is written as a guidebook for the ‘Wiccan Warrior’, many concepts and ideas presented within are applicable to magickians of any style. Overall, it’s an excellent start for any novice.

Review: Full Contact Magick, by Kerr Cuhulain

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Full Contact Magick: A Book of Shadows for the Wiccan Warrior, by Kerr Cuhulain
Llewellyn, 0738702544, 2002

To start with, I like Kerr Cuhulain’s writing style. His approach is very easy to read and understand. He doesn’t attempt to veil things in mystical mumbo-jumbo. Having said that, I have a major objection with this book. I’m sure most readers will not share this objection, however. And it is only fair to say that the only reason I even noticed it is because I had just finished his previous book, Wiccan Warrior, a few days before I started this one. There are entire paragraphs that have been lifted from that book and recycled into the current work. (At least Mr. Cuhulain can’t be accused of plagiarism, since he has lifted the material from his own work.)

Once again Mr. Cuhulain devotes far more time than most authors to using examples from outside of the “mystical” realm. He uses quotes from sources as varied as Bruce Lee and Albert Einstein’ from Longfellow to Robert Plant. He also devotes far more time and space to reminding the reader to make the information and techniques contained in this Book of Shadows a personal part of their life.

He shows the reader how to create and keep an effective Book of Shadows, without restricting the information to that which he presents. He is constantly reminding the reader to record his/her own impressions and the results of rituals constructed, dreams remembered, and meditations undertaken.

Perhaps the largest, and most important, portion of this work is dedicated to facilitating energy work. Let us make not bones about it this is probably the most neglected aspect of our religion. It is about time that an author takes the time and effort to explain it from beginning (which many authors do) through the mid-range (which far fewer do) all the way through to the higher levels (sadly neglected by most authors) in terms which anyone can understand.

On a “technical” level my only complaint about this book is that there are several typographical errors which are a little jarring when encountered, although they do not detract from the overall excellence of this work. They stand out to me only because Llewellyn has been in this field for so long, I expect more of their editors.

The Glossary contained in this book (comprising 28 pages) is one of the most in-depth examples I have seen in years. Containing a mere 55 words, it is none-the-less an invaluable addition to the book, and to a library.

I have a recommendation for those of you who are choosing between Kerr’s earlier work, Wiccan Warrior, and this one. Choose this one, since it is essentially an expansion of the earlier work. Without comparing it too closely, I feel that the vast majority of the earlier work is reproduced in this book. This book supersedes  Kerr’s earlier work, in my opinion. It would make an excellent addition to the library of any aspiring Witch.

Review: Wiccan Warrior, by Kerr Cuhulain

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Wiccan Warrior: Walking a Spiritual Path in a Sometimes Hostile World, by Kerr Cuhulain
Llewellyn Publications, 1567182526, 2002

Kerr Cuhulain makes a very important distinction between being a fighter anda warrior. If you are looking to learn how to use magick to win battles with others – keep on looking. If you’re looking to harness the power of magick to make yourself a better person – you have found a source to draw from.

He challenges many cherished Wiccan beliefs (at least, cherished by traditionalists) and, like all good teachers, challenges the student (reader) to make what he offers a part of day-to-day life.

He is not afraid to use examples of things that have worked from outside Wicca and show how they can be adapted to our unique circumstances. Adaptability is a characteristic that is constantly stressed in this work. Rigidity is connected with inability to survive. Examples are constantly drawn from the field of martial arts, as there are numerous parallels between the two fields of endeavour.

Mr. Cuhulain stresses frequently that each individual is unique, as are their experiences, and thus their growth and reality are also unique. It is not for anyone to act as judge for any but themselves.

He touches briefly on the early 2oth century history of the Craft in broad outline, and then refers the reader to sources which treat the subject in much greater depth

Mr. Cuhulain also includes a couple of rituals, one of which is radically different from the so-called “standard” ritual. It is a real pleasure to see rituals cited which are non-traditional. People normally cite the “standards” and then say something like, “Make whatever changes you need to personalize the ritual.” What Mr. Cuhulain does is to quote a non-standard ritual, then explain how it differs from the standard, but does not reproduce the standard ritual. He stresses spontaneity and creativity throughout the work.

One major difference between “The Witches’ Pyramid” as quoted by Mr. Cuhulain is that most versions have a base and three sides, while his has a base and four sides. He has added the very necessary ingredient of “Imagination” to the pyramid.

This book is, in my opinion, a vital addition to any Witch’s library. It doesn’t matter if the Witch is male or female, Witch or Wiccan. In fact it belongs in the library of anyone who wishes to learn to manipulate the forces of the universe, whether as a magickian (to use Mr. Cuhulain’s spelling), or simply as an individual who wishes to take control of his own life.

I would recommend that Mr. Cuhulain’s books be purchased and read by students everywhere. Teachers would also benefit from the advice that Mr. Cuhulain offers on the basis of his thirty years of experience as a Witch and twenty years as a law enforcement officer.