Magical Power For Beginners: How to Raise & Send Energy for Spells That Work, by Deborah Lipp
Llewellyn Publications, 9780738751986, 336 pp. (incl. appendices), 2017
This is a really useful resource for anyone wanting to learn more about doing magick — for pretty much any occultist of any tradition. In Magical Power For Beginners, Deborah Lipp has created a wonderfully versatile and comprehensive guide that has lots of useful information. I think beginners will love this book, and experienced magicians are likely to find something here also — it’s just a concise and commonsense guide to magick. The author tells us at the outset that she’s not interested in distinguishing between “magic” and “magick.” She writes, “I don’t like purposely misspelling words to make a point. If you’re flipping through this book to learn card tricks, let the bookstore owner or librarian know it’s misshelved, and move along.”1 She takes care to introduce the subject of exactly what magick is, going as far as to challenge the likes of Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley. In the definition she arrives at, “the science and art of using occult and/or mystical and/or spiritual forces to cause change in accordance with will.”2
One gets the sense that Deborah Lipp doesn’t suffer fools, and her straightforward, no nonsense approach is refreshing in a magical primer. We need a confident guide in this volume, which covers a lot of territory! She also challenges the usual distinction between “high” and “low” magick, stressing that any magick, whether focused on spiritual or material matters, achieves results. It’s the results that she is interested in teaching readers to achieve. She starts by simplifying the magical process to five steps: focusing intention, creating connection, raising power, sending power, and finishing the spell. In the 10 chapters, she delves into these steps in detail. Chapter 3, “Time and Space,” addresses complex theoretical and physical issues that I haven’t seen covered in other basic magical texts. Lipp discusses physics and physical reality, and how magick is a tool that can be used to transcend limitations, time, and space. She discusses the development of skills like meditation, grounding, centring, and visualization in the chapter on intention — demonstrating how these skills build a magical mental tool box that can be brought into sacred spaces to make magick more effective.
What Lipp is teaching the reader through the chapters is how to make an effective spell. In chapter 8, she discusses the steps in depth, and creates examples for a work and a love spell. Of course, these spells can be used as is, but she has provided such a wealth of information so that by this time, the reader is probably feeling inspired enough to get creative. She clarifies at the outset of the book that, like recipes, spells can be found and used as is from a book, or online; or bespoked according to the ritual ingredients an occultist has at hand; or created from scratch to suit the ritualist’s unique purpose.
I can’t find a lot of fault with Magical Power For Beginners. One quibble is with language she uses in the chapter about sending power. She distinguishes two basic modalities for sending power once it’s raised alone or in a group setting. These are “sending in a burst” — “male” power sending, or “sending in waves” — “female” power sending. She attributes the distinction to the work of Druid occultist Isaac Bonewits (who is cited frequently in this volume, and who Lipp identifies as her ex-husband). Now, in each case she assures the reader that the conceptualization is not about gender, and describes methods used by either gender or by nonbinary magicians. Okay, unfortunately she goes on to tell the reader that the distinctions are meant to describe male and female patterns of orgasm. The male pattern (you guessed it!) builds steadily to a big finish, and the female sort of ebbs and flows and may not actually peak into anything at all. It’s a ridiculous and gender essentialist distinction to make, and when she got so close to clarifying that the modalities aren’t gendered, why persist with this reductive description of male versus female orgasm? Calling the two power sending formats simply the “burst” and “wave” is surely descriptive enough? It’s disheartening when occultists — typically often mindful of social justice ethics, liberal or progressive politics and gender issues — just don’t take their analysis far enough and stumble over outdated binary language that can undermine their otherwise excellent work.
Regardless, there are indeed bonuses here: lots of exercises throughout that help the occultist develop the skills necessary to create spells that work, and figures that help illustrate the text. It’s just a well thought out book in many respects.
The appendices are also excellent: table of correspondences, a review of spell basics, and of course some excellent recommended reading. Magical Power For Beginners is a valuable addition to my occult library, and one to which I will continue to refer. It achieves a wonderful balance of simple and comprehensive, and I recommend it to anyone interested in developing their magical skill set. As a side note, I’ve reviewed multiple volumes in the Llewellyn For Beginners series, and they are all excellent and worthy additions to any practicing occultist’s library.3 I like that this volume doesn’t adhere to a specific magical tradition, and seems very adaptable for the purposes of any adept.