Anthologies provide themed essays from a variety of writers, allowing the reader to sample an assortment of styles and opinions. Finding new writers can be difficult for the average person, there’s so much out there that’s useless, or worse. Anthology pieces always vary in quality, and are frequently contradictory when taken as a whole, but that can be part of their charm.
Generation Hex was released last year, edited by Jason Louv and published by the folks at Disinformation.com.
It’s a collection of essays written by magickians under thirty, several of whom I’m familiar with online, and some I’ve not spoken to for years. I found it a great nostalgic piece, despite the fact it was supposed to be cutting edge; it more reminded me where I’ve been, and where I’ve found others. It’s the kind of book you can read to know you’re not alone. Continue reading
The Pop Culture Grimoire: An Anthology of Pop Culture Magic, edited by Taylor Ellwood
Immanion Press, 9781905713226, 157 pp, 2008
My training in magick is of a traditional style; therefore I’m not entirely comfortable with some of the ideas advanced by the contributors to this anthology. Chapter Three, “Break On through To the Other Side” especially gave me pause. The creation of thought-forms for magickal working is an accepted action, but the creation of a “pseudo Orisha” seemed to stretch to me. Nevertheless, Continue reading
Real Energy: Systems, Spirits, And Substances to Heal, Change, And Grow, by Phaedra & Isaac Bonewits
New Page Books, 288 pp.
If you’re looking for a book that provides you a thorough examination of the basic concepts of energy work, in terms of both personal energy and environmental energy then you’ll find that this book is right up your alley. Phaedra and Isaac do a wonderful job of explaining energy and its connection with elemental energy, astrology, natural resources, Chinese belief systems, and more.
This book is theory intensive. They provide a few basic exercises so readers can work with the concepts, but their focus is more so on explaining the why and how of energy work. I would’ve liked to have seen more focus on practice, and particularly some intermediate and advanced energy work, but even without that the theory in the book can provide readers an opportunity to experiment if they are willing to take the concepts and run with them.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about energy work and what it involves. You’ll also get a dose of Bonewits humor, always good for giving you a moment to take a break and think, “Did they really say that?”
Philosophy of Magic, by Arthur Versluis
168 pp, 1986
This is a quick and short read. I liked some aspects of this book, but I’d also have to disagree with this author on a lot of his views. He tends toward a very mystical approach to magic, that its done mainly for spiritual purposes. He considers the use of it for practical purposes to deviate from the true goal of magic. The influence of Eastern mysticism is pretty apparent in this book. He also had a lot of inaccurate information on alchemy, trying to reduce to solely a symbolic activity. In this his book echoes the trend of a lot of authors that have attempted to reduce magic to pure symbolism.
It’s an interesting read for a mystical perspective on magic. Some people will like it better if that’s their approach.
Taylor Ellwood is the author several occult titles to date, and his latest work, Inner Alchemy, will be out later this fall.
This interview took place Saturday, May 20th, 2006 online.
Psyche: How do you define your spirituality these days?
Taylor Ellwood: My spirituality is defined in my drive to experiment and test the edge of magic and what it can do. My spirituality shifts as needed as I continue to experiment with a variety of paradigms and of course with the development of my own systems of magic. A large part of my spirituality is focused on internal alchemy and energy work, specifically working with the internal environment of the human body and consciousness.
P: How is this expressed in terms of your daily life?
TE: In my daily life I do a series of ritual workings everyday, primarily a combination of Far Eastern meditation, breathing techniques and some energy techniques I’ve developed on my own. However, my spirituality also expresses itself in my daily life through my boundless curiosity and interest in learning any and everything and applying it to my spirituality.
P: If you had to pin a label on it, what would you call it?
TE: *laughs* Oh that’s asking the impossible. Seriously if I were to give it and myself a label I’d just say experimental magician and my spirituality a label of experiment in progress.
P: Fair enough. How has pop culture influenced your work?
TE: Pop culture has influenced my work greatly, specifically because it is the contemporary culture I live in and I find it to be very rich and full of media and symbols and possibilities to play with. Pop culture was my initial foray into experimental magic and as such it still inspires a lot of my other forays into experimentation. I’d also say that pop culture, for me, is the embodiment of not just the contemporary world, but also an embodiment of where consciousness could take us, for better or for worse. Continue reading