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Newbie with request for help

To: alt.magick
From: (Starlancer)
Subject: Re: Newbie with request for help
Date: Wed, 06 Mar 2002 11:58:30 GMT

On Sun, 3 Mar 2002 17:32:23 -0000, "Joe Grant" 

>Hey all,
>I'm just starting to get into magic(k) and am looking for some good books to
>start with.  A friend has recommended "Buckland's Complete Book of
>Witchcraft" and Laurie Cabot's "The Power of the Witch" to me.  I was
>wondering what people thought of these books and if anyone had any other
>I haven't lurked that long, so apologies if this post is somehow against
>convention, but I'll lose my regular internet access in a few days as I'm
>going home from university.  I've read the AM faq, but that didn't help too
>much, and I've done lots of looking around on the net, but didn't find that
>much useful info, apart from long suggested reading lists with little in the
>way of explanation/advice/reasoning, amazon reviews, and that Cunningham's
>"Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner" is meant to be good/popular,
>but I'm not sure on the wicca/magic thing -- I'm vaguely interested in both,
>but mainly the magic.
>One last thing: I've been reading this old book called "Magic An Occult
>Primer" by David Conway which was aimed at the UK as far as I can gather.
>Has anyone ever heard of this or does anyone know if it's worthwhile/any
>good, as I can find virtually no info about it on the net, and it's now out
>of print?

Gnome's recommendations give the classic approach and there's a lot to
be said for that. If you are mainly interested in Magick, then those
Wiccan books may not do that much for you, though you don't have to
limit yourself to either one or the other. I've done both over the
years myself.

As for the Conway book, as it happens I DO have experience with it. It
was one of the first books on "ceremonial magic" I found, in a local
university library when I was in high school.  It isn't bad. As an
introduction it's better than many. I have a few reservations and
comments on it:

1. Don't take too literally his description of the magical imagination
as resulting in the perception of the image imagined projected out
onto the world and seemingly real.  Doing that properly will take many
YEARS of practice, and is by no means necessary for successful magic
anyway.  It isn't bad or anything like that, as long as it does not
intrude on normal consciousness when unwanted, and that is a distinct
danger for some people if they push that kind of practice too far too
quickly. As he says, magic is about Will, not hallucination.

2. Likewise, his prescription of "oleum magicale" or whatever he calls
it, while giving some rather potent recipes. Some annointing oil is
fine, but you don't need some fancy unguant, especially not full of
potentially mind altering herbs. I don't recall all his ingredients
right off so the main ones may be pretty innocuous, but you don't need
them anyway.  If you want to use an annointing oil you can use a small
vial of regular cooking oil, consecrated and dedicated to The Work.
Oil of Abramelin is not too hard to make and can be purchased, but if
you use that be very careful not to get it in your eyes. See DuQuette!
;-)  Come to think of it, I'd recommend DuQuette's _My Life With the
Spirits_ anyway. It isn't a practice type of book, though he's written
some stuff like that too, but I think reading it could be a very good
thing. It's fairly short, entertaining, a quick read, often funny, and
for all that still worthwhile.

3. In the DMK book that Gnome mentions passing on, DMK says that the
Conway book contains "some of the worst Hebrew lettering in print."
Based on the copy I later picked up and my memory of it, since it's
been a while since I looked, I'd have to agree. Many of the sigils are
pretty mangled. If you use them, best to look them up in independant
sources. That's not a bad idea anyway. Don't get me wrong, using the
mangled ones won't cause some dread creature from before the dawn
o'time to materialize in your Fruit O'The Looms. They'd probably work
fine.  But its good to know what you are doing and why.

4. When he gives rituals in Latin or even Coptic and says they should
not be done in English, forget that. Assuming you are a native English
speaker, start out with English. Using a non-native language has its
advantages. That's one of the useful things about Enochian, for
example, though I suggest you leave Enochian alone for now.  But it's
certainly better to start doing ritual with your native tongue, IMHO,
or at least one you are already fluent with. I don't recommend trying
to learn the basics of ritual and a new language at the same time.


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