Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic exhibits a soft spot I have for magick: the academic approach. This Ph.D. paper by Stephen Skinner is the latest of the his many works on the Western esoteric tradition, in addition to many books on feng shui. His clear grasp on the historical data and his academic lens make this paper-turned-book a highly educational though sometimes mundane read. There is no fluff here — just facts, charts, and the occasional historical backtracking. Yet, Skinner’s painstaking translation, organization, and interpretation bring to light many long-standing traditions’ origins in the magick of Late Antiquity. Skinner describes a snapshot in time when magick held reverence as part of a tradition tied to the mystery cults and religions of the day. Continue reading
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!
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
Techniques of High Magic: A Guide to Self-Empowerment, by Francis King and Stephen Skinner
Destiny Books, 0892813504, 228pp., 1976
This book brings together Francis King and Stephen Skinner to create what they believe is a beginner’s guide to High Magic. Their definition of magick was short and sweet; “the art and science of using little known natural forces in order to achieve changes in consciousness and the physical environment”. Though despite being a beginner’s book, they don’t discuss what magick can be used for, what reasons there are for magick, but after a bit of theorizing about magick jump right into it.
They discuss the first steps of magic on their path, which is Continue reading