ceremonial magick

Raising Hell: Subversive Spirituality, Insurrectionist Witchcraft and Black Magic
by Kali Black
reviewed by Nina Lazarus for the Esoteric Book Review

This book is not really about black magic, rather it is another offering about Chaos Magic dressed up with different thrills (or is that paradigms?).  The initial material on behaviour patterns and how to ensure you are not influenced unduly by the media and others is reasonable.  It presents an interesting précis of much that is worthwhile and gives many leads and insights.  However the terminology is clearly a sign of the times, as in the 80s we used to call the ideas portrayed here cultural terrorism.  The chapter arguing against the consumption of meat and promoting vegetarianism was heartfelt and the sort of thing more books on magic should discuss.  However none of this material is really black magic, it is simply magic!

The NLP material emphasises the author’s preference for deprogramming and taking control, which is never a bad thing.  However the Toontra and anarchashamanism material both indicate the chaos magic roots of this material.  It seems there is a trend with some writers to present the ideas of chaos magic as if they were something new, which they aren’t, and they weren’t when chaos magic first appeared wearing its new clothes and championing eclecticism.  For example, as this book and many others seem keen to declare, the principle of reduction sigilisation invented by Austin Osman Spare, a favourite of Chaoists – yet this technique may be found centuries ago in Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy.

So although this book is not really as radical or new as it would like to present itself, it is nevertheless worth reading, as it brings together a good range of ideas and material which should give the reader food for thought.

Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick Volume 2: Grimoire
by Frater Barrabbas
reviewed by Nina Lazarus for the Esoteric Book Review

The back cover of this book informs us that Frater Barabbas has almost four decades of practical experience of the occult arts.  I therefore assume that he is in his fifties, as anyone claiming to practice magick seriously before the age of twelve or thirteen in my experience is usually a deluded fantasist.  Let us continue with the outer cover. The subtitle of the book is somewhat misleading, as the use of the term grimoire here is indicative of the current trend to use the word to somehow validate books as being more genuine or of greater provenance, when they are in fact completely unrelated to the Medieval and Renaissance grimoires, which form a distinct tradition of their own.

So to the material contained within.  The book should perhaps have been called “Reinventing Wicca by making it more ceremonial with bits of Qabalah, psychology and the Grail thrown in for good measure.”  It is not terribly exciting, original or innovative, and in some places the material has clearly not been thought through, or is simply completely off the mark.

Considering the nine ritual components of the book, what is good or bad?  Well the first section on the consecration of the magick temple has a slightly revised version of Wiccan circle casting – salt and water, engraving of circle and summoning the four wards.  The latter includes the words “to manifest and appear” for the summoned watchtower guardians, which seems incredibly optimistic.  Then four emissaries of the deity are invoked, which seems somewhat superfluous, not to mention a little crowded!  Why do people always assume that spiritual beings want to come and watch their rituals anyway when they offer no incentive for them to do so, but I digress.  The proliferation of So Mote It Be’s in the opening and closing make the Wiccan origins of this material clear.

Then we come to the consecration of the magick grove.  This was of similar ilk, however summoning the spirits of the elements into the cakes, oil, milk and honey and wine, and then burying them in the earth and putting a stone over them is not in my opinion a very smart move.  Other elemental spirits will know you are the one who trapped their compatriots and have no desire to help you with anything – why should they?

The Pyramid of Power contains the first occurrence of the “Mantle of Glory”, which is a straightforward derivation of the Qabalistic Cross, minus the visualisations which actually empower it.  And the author also tells you to assume the Osiris position, not making it clear whether he means the Wiccan crossed arms or the actual position of Osiris on statues, which is holding the arms vertically upward and parallel to each other in front of the chest with hands in front of breasts.

The use of the forty qualified powers is not a bad idea, though calling it the Concourse of Forces (another Golden Dawn borrowing) is not very original.  Basically this is the use of the Tree of Life through the Four Worlds to sub-divide types of rite and assign them to the 40 minor Arcana of the Tarot, being Ace to 10 of the four Suits.  Unfortunately the author’s knowledge of Qabalah seems somewhat rudimentary, and when I reached his attributions of the angels this was made very clear.  He has mixed the traditional grimoire orders of angels with the Qabalistic ones, resulting in some bizarre attributions and the introduction of new orders of angels not seen in either – the Benefactors and Intelligences!  The latter term is sometimes used interchangeably with Angels, as seen in the Planetary Intelligences, but that would not fit here.  Neither would the Aralim (should be Binah) with the Ten of Swords, Dominions should be Jupiter and Four, not the Three of Swords, and the list goes on.

The Rose Vortex Ritual brings in the Maiden Mother Crone with the Amazon/lover to make up four, for a bit of pagan chanting and fantasy role play (or internal psychological magick if you want to be generous), which will apparently enable you to “create a wave-form causality effect that is stealthy, ultimately potent and irreversible.”  You too can change the world with a bit of bad chanting (allegedly).  The Grail Spirit ritual continues more of the same flavour, and by this point you may wish to give up.  However, amongst all the patchwork of mismatched bits, suddenly there is a gem, when the author gives a very good discussion of assumption of godhead.  If the rest of the book were up to this standard it would indeed be a treat.  Sadly however it lapses back to the flavour already indicated.

I was slightly puzzled by the bibliography, where “The Qabalah of Aleister Crowley”, “Liber 777” and “777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley” were listed as three separate books, when they are basically all the same thing (ok Liber 777 doesn’t contain Sepher Sephiroth but that is a minor quibble).  However perhaps this is thrown in to see if you are still paying attention.

If the author wrote a book around assumption of godhead to the standard of that section I would buy it, however unfortunately the rest of the book is sadly lacking and likely to confuse rather than illuminate.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Over? A book about stuff
by Collen A’Miketh
reviewed by Nina Lazarus for the Esoteric Book Review

Let me start by saying this is an interesting book.  Although the title attempts (and fails) to be funny (WTF = What The F—k), and the cover tells us it is a humorous book in places, it did not make me laugh.  It did however make me nod with agreement in places, and gave me cause to appreciate the depth of experience and ideas that have been put into this work.  Put in simple terms, this is basically a book about the principles of chaos magic without all the pseudo-science that so often detracts from the underlying concepts.  The author encourages the reader to apply their magick as action rather than reaction, and from this premise the book evolves.
The discussion of paradigms, realities, data streams, sigils and personality modification make the chaos flavour of the book clear.  However refreshingly the discussion is much more accessible and less irritating than many other chaos magic books which are much less grounded in reality than this one.  Of course in true chaos magic style, other systems get a look in, like the ubiquitous Wheel of the Year, which seems to have become the workhorse of modern paganism, without people ever really doing much with it, and poker hands as a comparison with magick (classic pub discussion chaos magick there).
I also have my criticisms of the book, which are more niggles really.  I dislike the use of the term pentacle for the pentagram, a common terminology error these days, as is the inappropriate use of the term grimoire.  I also found the pathworking irritating and self-indulgent.  Nonetheless overall I have to say this is a worthwhile volume, and should be read by people after they have been studying for a year or two, to encourage them not to get too set in their ways early on their path.

It is rare to encounter a book amongst the many being published today which truly looks at a subject from a new perspective, with eyes wide open and with a passion which goes all the way to the core.  Stellar Magic by Payam Nabarz is one such book and I was honoured to be able to attend the launch party for this book at the Atlantis Bookshop in Museum Street, London and to have my copy signed by the author.  A copy which will be much treasured in years to come. The event was very well attended and I was greeted by the friendly staff and made to feel welcome with a glass of wine to boot!  Payam spoke about the book, giving little insights into each of the chapters and it was really good to be able to get a feel for his passion on the subject, something which is so evident in the book too.

Stellar Magic is a Liber Astrum, a book of the stars.  For those who have not been fortunate enough to encounter this new book by Payam Nabarz, who is well known for his work on Mithras, as yet details can be found at the Avalonia website.   I include it below for convenience and will be writing a review very soon!

The stars have influenced mankind with their magic from time immemorial, as evidenced by Archeoastronomy; instructing astrologers and priests, guiding sailors and inspiring poets. For millennia, cultures all around the world have told their myths and legends through the canvas of the night sky. Yet despite the immense significance of the constellations and stars in the ancient world, stellar magic has been largely ignored in recent centuries.

In this inspirational and practical Liber Astrum, the author draws together material from ancient, classical and medieval sources; spanning East and West, fusing modern poetry with ancient magic, mysticism with myth and ritual with recital to lift our gazes back to the heavens.

The author’s breadth of scholarship is seen in the spectrum of material he weaves together, from sources as diverse as the Hymns of Orpheus and Plato’s Timaeus to the Zoroastrian Yasht hymns and Persian Pahlavi Texts, the Sufi works of the Ibn Arabi and Rumi; from the Chaldean Oracles and the Greek Magical Papyri to the Books of Ezekiel and Enoch, from the Picatrix and the Sefer Yetzirah to the works of John Dee, Rudolf Steiner, Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley. The poetic inspiration of the stars is also expressed through material and ideas by such luminaries as John Milton, Gerald Manly Hopkins, Sylvia Plath, Robert Graves and W.B. Yeats.

Through the enchanting words and ceremonies provided to lead the way, timeless journeys to the stars are woven around the participants. Included amongst the rites are ceremonies with the constellations of Perseus & Andromeda, Cygnus, Orion, the Pleiades, the Great Bear, Draco, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the star Sirius, the Moon, the seven classical Planets, and the Stellar World Cave: the Mithraeum.

This is a highly accessible, succinct and practical book on a complex subject, which will benefit anyone interested in the magic of the stars, from the casual observer of the night skies to the dedicated magician or mystic.

Available from The Atlantis Bookshop, other esoteric and occult shops and directly from Avalonia.

ps. There are some photographs of the event available at the Avalonia WordPress Blog.

Israel Regardie & the Philosopher’s Stone: The Alchemical Arts Brought Down to Earth by Joseph C. Lisiewski

reviwed by David Rankine for the Esoteric Book Review

Joseph Lisiewski is an author people tend to love or hate.  I am in the former category, as I respect his refusal to pander to any sort of fashion, and his insistence on excellence over mediocrity in all things.  His manner of writing is as precise as his scientific background, and does not take prisoners; rather he reports with a clinical objectivity, even when describing his own involvement.  And this is where the book is unique, for Joseph Lisiewski was in the unique position of forming a triumvarate with Frater Albertus and Israel Regardie for many years, united through a shared love of alchemy, arguably the most esoteric of the magical sciences.

This book has four threads running parallel through it, all interwoven and linked to each other.  Those threads are the relationships between Regardie and Albertus, Regardie and Lisiewski, and Ablertus and Lisiweski, as well as the complex alchemical work they undertook to explore some of the most obscure and challenging areas of alchemy.  This final thread challenges the reader by exploring the way that both scientific and mystical competence are required to achieve successful results in physical alchemy.  The scientific detail here may go over many people’s heads, but I suspect for any neophyte alchemists it will be invaluable as a guide to good practice.

Israel Regardie’s involvement with alchemy has not been widely publicised, rather it has been almost entirely eclipsed by his publication of the Stella Matutina Knowledge Lessons and Ceremonies in his most famous work, The Golden Dawn.  Regardie’s dissatisfaction with much of the magical community and its practices is somewhat better known, but it is still fascinating reading to see how such a significant figure viewed events, both in his own life and in the developments around him.  Regardie’s passion for alchemy unfortunately resulted in him twice poisoning himself with antimony, a risk to the practising alchemist, and a reminder to always be careful.  Regardie bemoaned his lack of a scientific background, but it was his spiritual confusion more than anything which caused many of his experiments to fail, despite the passion, time and energy he put into them.  Yet his dedication and encouragement were also obviously factors in encouraging the author on his path, so perhaps this is an example of Regardie’s magic in action, not inward, but outward in catalysing those around him.

Lisiewski does not shy away from showing us the darker sides of his friends (and himself), and in doing so he provides a fascinating glimpse into what drives an alchemist, and how powerful those forces can be, not only in pursuing a goal relentlessly, but also in causing friendships to explode, as was the case between Regardie and Albertus.  Lisiewski remained friends with both men, and acted as the bridge between them, refusing to forsake either.  This was to serve him well, as they effectively counterbalanced each other, with Regardie providing the voice of calm to prevent him being carried along by the drive and enthusiasm of Albertus when it was not in his best interests.  The events between the men and the workings of the Paracelsus Research Society make for an engaging and thought-provoking read that is hard to put down!

The actual alchemical work, which resulted in the production of miniature creatures and a homunculus (which died during the process) are a testament to dedication and scientific thoroughness which many occultists would benefit from studying.  This is not a light read, it is magic at the cutting edge, both in the practices and the people within.  This is an excellent book which you absolutely should read if you are serious about your esoteric interests.

elementalsmThis review of “Practical Elemental Magick” by David Rankine and Sorita d’Este recently appeared in “The Equinox – British Journal of Thelema”  – so we thought we would share.  Check out The Equinox here

Practical Elemental Magick
Working the Magick of the Four Elements in the Western Mystery Tradition

By Sorita d’Este and David Rankine

“This is a very impressive book from two prolific and respected occult authors.  The concept of Elemental Spirits is encountered frequently in occultism, but there has been until now no comprehensive guide to working with them.  I say comprehensive advisedly, for one of the great virtues of this book is it traces origins and alternatives very thoroughly, rather than laying down dogmatic rules with no background.  At the same time as offering in-depth information the book also retains considerable clarity.  The range of sources consulted is astonishing, and the work thus provides an invaluable resource for further research by the individual reader.  The material is usefully synthesised into a thoroughly workable practical system of magic; while offering sufficient alternatives for the reader who is so inclined to evolve distinct methodologies based on their own preferences.”

Note* Practical Elemental Magick is a companion volume to “Practical Planetary Magick” by the same authors.  Both these books are available from Amazon (USA / UK etc) and directly from the publishers http://avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/titles/elemental_magick.htm

The Encyclopaedia Goetica Volume 1: The True Grimoire

grimorium verum pages

The True Grimoire
by Jake Stratton-Kent

The True Grimoire is a substantial octavo book of 280pp.
The text is profusely illustrated with characters, sigils, magic squares, and pontos riscados.
It is bound in verdant green book cloth, bloody endpapers and stamped with a rubeus memento mori.

This is a volume with presence, as befits one housing so many spirits.

It is released in a strictly limited and hand-numbered edition of a thousand copies.

A copy of the Death’s Head edition can be yours for thirty-five English pounds plus postage.

The True Grimoire is a major contribution to the practice and study of Goetic magic.
The neglected Grimorium Verum has been
restored to it’s rightful place as a potent and coherent system of Goetic magic.

Jake Stratton-Kent has reconstructed a working version from the corrupted Italian and French versions of this important grimoire. As a practicing Necromancer with 37 years of experience his Verum is a clear exposition of how to contact and build a relationship with the spirits.

The True Grimoire springs from the source of Goetic magic, enabling us to unlock the secrets of the other grimoires. We are given insights into the Dragon Rouge, Key of Solomon, Lemegeton, Abramelin, Honorius and the Black Pullet. This is a treasure trove for the student of magic.

The True Grimoire lets us experience a grimoire tradition with links back to the Graeco-Egyptian Magical Papyri and the necromancy of the original Goes. It also places Verum within a living tradtion, one which has taken root in the New World, finding expression in Quimbanda and the Legion of Exus, the ‘People of the Cemetery’ who have clear Verum equivalents.

This is a constistently illuminating text. The copious notes of a working magician, combined with a scholarly attention to detail, enable us to use this text for it’s original purpose. The hierarchy of Verum and Goetic spirits is restored, the nature of Astaroth is definitively set down. The planetary hours are explained, as are all the ritual requirements and preparations.


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