Friday, March 12, 2010

The Liiiiists!

(It isn't for everyone. But I like it.)
Books and Lists

Due to the length of this list, I'll be linking to librarything. You can link to Amazon or another bookseller from there, so it makes this process a bit faster for me.
General:
  1. High Magick I by Fr. UD
There's a lot to be said about this book. But suffice it to say that I think it's quite possibly the best introduction to various practices of magick that's come out so far. All of the techniques work. The commentary is highly valuable and enjoyable. I can't believe it's actually still in print or has a follow up.
  1. High Magick II by Fr. UD
I really wish I could say that I've done everything in this book. But the truth of the matter is, I haven't. I keep saying, “I'll get around to it.” Nonetheless: it's just as good as its predecessor and a must-have for everyone insofar as my mind is concerned.
Chaos Magick
  1. Condensed Chaos by Phil Hine
This work essentially supersedes Peter Carroll's Liber Null in my mind. It has just about everything there is to know, insofar as a beginner is concerned, about Chaos Magick. Hine discusses banishing, thoughtforms, sigils and more.
One of the principle issues that dogs the steps of the practice of magick is the perceived lack of rationality employed by those that practice it. Dukes tackles this subject head-on and presents practical solutions to arguments about a variety of concerns. This text is a classic in Chaos Magick circles and is probably one of the easiest to digest on this list. If you're concerned that you're about to throw rationality out the window by engaging your practices or attempts at magick, then buy this book.
  1. Postmodern Magic by Patrick Dunn
I don't think Patrick would mind if I lump this book in with the Chaos Magick sections. I consider it “pagan-friendly” Chaos Magick, anyhow. In any event, this work has discourses on semiotic webs (he expands his thoughts on this matter in Magic, Power, Language, Symbol which I also recommend), the Astral Temple, invocation and evocation, and a series of easy to follow instructions on the practice of magick. I'd actually recommend this book over Condensed Chaos now that I think about it...

A few moments to say a few words, if you would: people are always complaining about being a beginner. Don't. Enjoy it while it lasts. That open-mindedness you have when you first start making it (whatever you want to call the process: magick, mysticism, wankery, sodomy...) 'work' is something you won't ever get back later. You'll do things that you'll never be able to explain again, almost as if by accident. This is not to mention the thrill of the experiences themselves. The first time you make contact with a deity and realize that, no, it is very, very fucking real... The first time you screw up and find yourself actually having to hash it out with a spirit (I screamed like a little girl and ran inside the house after hastily warding my home)... People often forget that in the process of refinement, you lose some raw material. Something is lost for something gained. Those that claim “it's just psychology” are stripping power out of life-altering experiences, experiences that 'transcend' belief and lead to some form of 'understanding.' At least, I think that's the goal.

Ceremonial Magick
  1. Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon
St. Justin of the Holy Discordian Inquistion (who are always expected) insists I place this title on the list. I suck, and haven't read the work in question so I can't actually comment on it. But I cannot refuse the request of a fellow Profit of Eris and Saint of the Unholy Mysteries and Creepy Questions Asked In the Middle of the Night.
Despite all the complaints about this system, it still works. Furthermore and unlike reading Agrippa off Sacred Texts, you don't have to decipher archaic fucking English phrases and I actually consider that a plus. When I want archaic and weird English phrases, I'll read Austin Spare and look at his pretty pictures. Agrippa is lacking in pretty pictures. So Regardie it is.
  1. The Middle Pillar by Israel Regardie
Someone I know stole my copy. I want it back. Anyway: a complete discourse on the GD's Middle Pillar exercise, as well as the linkages between psychology and magick. This is one of the few places where I make an exception and recommend the book. Psychology is part of the formula, but not the whole of the equation.
  1. The Essential Golden Dawn by Chic Circero
Don't buy Modern Magick and give Donald Michael Kraig anymore money. Buy this book instead. The instructions are far more clear and comprehensive, the tone is easier to follow... And to be honest, I'm also biased against DMK.
  1. The Kabbalah Unveiled by S.L. Mcregregor Mathers
This is a personal bias of mine. I actually don't own many books on QBL, and I thougt I could just... avoid it... for a long time. But it turns out that I was wrong. I can't avoid it. It's too potent a magickal memetic. In any event, I dislike Dion Fortune. You can buy Mystical Qabalah by Fortune instead in all honesty.
I would add RO's book here, except I don't own it, and I haven't read it. So, I mostly suck. But I'm told it's great! I may pirate it in the future, however!
Hoodoo/Voodoo
(I don't know this subject matter well at all. I only own the following four titles:)
  1. Voudon Gnostic Workbook by Michael Bertiaux
This book is rumored to be one of the best for a self initiate, or so I was told in the Chaos days. It starts off in English that a six year old could read, and gives the bare basics of pantheons and religious thought. The exercises are simple, but I only did a few. After one of them gave me a raging migraine I suspected that perhaps the Loa didn't want to hang with a white-boy. So I pretty much left it alone. The latter half of the book, however, is ape-shit insane and always makes a great coffee-table discussion peace. Included are Shinto-tronics, giving yourself to Choronzon, and nuclear mutation... I think at one point the author raves about how he's going to mutate the human race using hybrid machine-magick technology. I'm never sure if I should be afraid that perhaps Michael Bertiaux can in fact, mutate the human race. It's a very disorienting thought, and I don't like having it.
This book, and the one to follow it, really speak for themselves.
  1. Divine Horsemen by Maya Deren
  1. Urban Voodoo by C.S. Hyatt and S. Jason Black
You should, uh, take this one with a grain of salt...

Psychic Protection
This book supersedes Dion Fortune's Psychic Self Defense for the following reason: it does not turn average neo-Pagans into fear-addicts who are always worried about The Black Lodge Down the Street. While Fortune's work is a classic, it still has her internal bias coded right into the framework along with a hefty dose of paranoia.

Austin Spare
  1. Zos-Kia by Gavin Semple
Hard to find. But well worth finding... Just keep your eyes open for it and take my word.
This one fluctuates in and out of print sporadically. It should be sitting in the Chaos Magick section, but it always seems to transcend that limitation. It's a complete modernization of all of Spare's techniques, stripped down to bare-bones commentary with a few added essays over the previous editions. Included is automatic writing/drawing, sigilization, the Alphabet of Desire, the Death Posture, conjuration (psychological/Spirit model – he draws on both and combines them, which will be viewed dimly by some)... When you can catch it in print, you can buy it for about $19. When it's out of print it's sold as high as $350 on Amazon. It's just one of those books.
  1. Zos Speaks!: Encounters with Austin Spare by Kenneth and Steffi Grant, including Austin Spare.
Wicca
  1. A Witches' Bible by the Farrars
It's just one of those books you ought to own if you're interested in the subject.
  1. Wicca: Magickal Beginnings by Sorita D'Este & David Rankine
Take the above title, and combine it with this one and the framework is spelled out nicely. Both works make use of openly published documents, and together that's probably all I understand of Wicca.
I haven't read this title, and most likely never will. However, Kenaz Filan recommended it in a comment to my last post. It sounded pretty trustworthy to me.

Thelema:
  1. The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley
I actually burned my first copy of this book, just like I was instructed to by Nuit. I'm told that's rare. So I didn't have hardcopy of it again until I recently grabbed a copy of Gems from the Equinox. Gems is out of print, but I recommend it. In any event, this is the entire backdrop of the Thelemic system and religion. You can find it online here.
  1. Magick Without Tears by Aleister Crowley
Kenaz recommends this title and so do I. You can find it online at the link above.

Historical:
  1. Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton
Buy it.
Buy it. In fact, you can probably buy anything by Davies or Hutton and find something inside the books enjoyable.
  1. Witchcraft and Black Magic by Montague Summers
I take this book with my to local meetups just to freak out the White Lighters. But I think every single person with an interest should read a book by Montague Summers. VVF resisted for a long time, but finally the siren call of Mr. Summers dawned upon her and she recently glanced up at me and said: “This book... is perfect. Every single word... is perfect.” It really is...
I'll get an astrology-and-magick list from Austin Cappock after I take his class. Anything you think I'm missing? Ask or comment/add to it.

8 comments:

Fawkes said...

Thanks for such a detailed answer to my question. I think I’ll take the opportunity to rant a little bit and share my newbie opinions on a few things…

Curiously enough I had picked up Frater UD’s first book a few days before I even posed this question (apparently my instincts are worth following). I guess now it’s time to read, practice and see where it leads me. I can’t wait for the day when I actually get to meet a spirit :) even if it means running the risk of pissing it off.

I believe I’ll give Bertiaux’s work a wide berth for the moment, I think mutating humanity would be an overly ambitious project at this stage :) Not to mention that I keep hearing that esthetics matter and esthetically the image I conjure up when I think of voodoo just doesn’t work for me – then again maybe I just don’t know enough to even realize what I’m missing out on.

As for the ceremonial stuff (actually the Golden Dawn material) I have to admit that I just don’t get it. For an outsider it seems overly dependent on tools and décor not mentioning the convoluted instructions and unclear goals – again I could be making an ass of myself for saying this in front of people who actually do understand it but that’s the impression I got when I skimmed Regardie’s material.

I’ll definitely take heed of your suggestions and since I’ll definitely keep following your writings I will hopefully make more informed and interesting remarks on what’s being discussed :)

Thanks,
Fawkes

Jack Faust said...

@Fawkes:

Hey, no problem. It's why the formspring account exists!

Bertiaux's work is interesting and insightful (such as when you figure out what he's doing with the astral projection experiments he introduces), but easily avoidable for most beginners. It is also... expensive, even now that its back in print.

If you're not into the Golden Dawn material, chaos magick and its techniques have a lot to offer. The biggest trap I ever saw was it introducing the concept that "Chaos Magick was true magick" amongst some. It's easily avoidable if you keep your mind open. (I, uh, didn't. But then it got forced a bit wider, so...)

U.D.'s books are always good. If you're looking to avoid over-use of Temple structures and reliance on tools, I definitely recommend it. He'll have you building them toward the end, but until then the book is straight theory and practice. The Gaze techniques in particular are quite useful.

You might also want to see if you get grab a copy of Huson's "Mastering Witchcraft." You can sometimes find copies of it in used bookstores. Some of the techniues give folks the shivers, however. Saying the "Lord's Prayer" backward has a tendency to crack the unprepared if they have a hefty Judeo-Christian background. On the other hand, that's what the book is designed to do...

Fawkes said...

Faust,

It’s not that I mind the tools and other props (they’re shiny and fun) or the complex Golden Dawn technical descriptions but I really don’t : a) have the money for all that; b) the skill to actually “fashion” them as some books suggest (what year is this? 1299?) and c) Know how to translate ancient GD material into something relevant form me personally.

Do you use a temple structure and rely on tools? Or have you avoided it altogether? How do you make material that was written centuries ago relevant and usable? Am I asking too many questions? :) When it gets annoying do tell to stop :)

Jack Faust said...

Do you use a temple structure and rely on tools?

I can actually say that I have done both. I have worked with elaborate altar setups and temple setups; and, at 19, I had a Starbucks cup covered in sigils and some knife I bought at a Renaissance faire.

These days, I'm making more elaborate and expensive tools. But they haven't ever been as handy, or as useful to my activities as a laptop or a spiralbound notebook and a pen.

If it can be done with a sigil, I can probably proudly (or lamely, and shamefully) say that I've likely tried/done it.

Or have you avoided it altogether?

I avoided elaborate tools for a long time. I think my first hysterically weird experiments were at 15. Dion Fortune's Psychic Self Defense noted a technique for telepathy that "Black Magicians" used. My friends and I mused that we could put it to better use. Someone who should have known better volunteered and we used a picture of him as a link to send him impulses. It worked quite well and his entire behaviour... shifted a bit. But eventually we tired of it and went off to play Vampire: the Masquerade or something. The volunteer declared we were evil incarnate and had violated his internal desires. Lesson learned.

But my point in that is, all we used was a picture and concentrating on what we wanted the person to do. So image magick and sympathetic magick of a sort came first and foremost in the learning curve.

An 'astral temple' is something I've found unavoidable, but it travels with you... so you travel light.

On the other hand, I've taken to shaping and making more personal weapons to explore how the process works. It seems I was indeed lacking a bit of punch with my Starbucks White Cup and sigils, but also the understanding that crafting shit gives you towards manifesting what you want strategically. Or at least, that's how I see it.

"How do you make material that was written centuries ago relevant and usable?"

The most relevant material we have from the past was accessible to anyone with a basic understanding of ritual structure, and symbology. Myth helps, too. Peasants weren't theologans, but they payed a magicians wages. As such most of the technology we have from the past is precisely for producing meaningful results regardless of era: constraints upon enemies (or bringing about their harm), love or rejection, financial insurance, and divination.

But more important than that is to just focus on trancework and meditation. If you can use those to bring out your internal mojo or what-have-you, then it's far easier to tunnel into the rituals our ancestors left behind.

Not everything is elaborate, either. I demonstrated to someone once that I could call up an Unseelie Fae with nothing more than a child's rhyme and a bit of unearthly trance.

It also probably helped to be standing in a place rumored to be one of their courts here in CA. But nonetheless it was successful and my companion was rather startled. And we had to ask the thing to leave as it was... rather unpleasant, actually. I mean. I liked it at the time. But when it left I realized that I very much should avoid doing that anytime soon again.

(I should also note: some types of traditional initiations offered by some groups are... quite fun... and can produce extraordinary vision-trances and such that are worth having if you get the chance. Unfortunately, the luck of landing near such group always varies...)

Jack Faust said...

Oh, right!

"Am I asking too many questions? :)"

Not at all. I don't really mind. I often feel the desire to write a bunch of half-insane nonsense at 2 AM for anyone willing to read it. LOL.

Lady Scylla said...

Totally off-topic to your post, but... would you have happened to go by "Vonfaustus" in the past and been an associate of a gentleman practitioner named Fenix?

Jack Faust said...

@Scylla: I would be one and the same! Good to see you again!

V.V.F. said...

I have a confession to make.

When I was a girl, I was totally hot for the wizard on the cover of Kraig's Modern Magick. Not even gonna lie.

I was all like, "Yeah, initiate me, baby."