Sunday, June 13, 2010
The Book Game
Well, everyone is playing Gordons Book Game.
Since I already did a similar list of five books that I wish magicians who are already practicing would read and master I was going to pass on this. After re-reading the rules of the game, I think I will play.
Those rules, clipped from Rune Soup are:
How would you introduce someone to magic using only books? He or she has a month in a lake house and will read whatever you tell them in the exact order that you tell them to. Not even any peeking at other books on the list.
1. Fiction is allowed.
2. You have to specify what brand of magician you want to build beforehand. (Hermeticist, chaos, etc.)
3. You can’t tell the subject this.
4. You must include books from at least three disciplines. (This is to stop you just giving the Complete Golden Dawn and then declaring the subject a GD-style magician at the end.)
5. It’s only books. No guru teaching, no magical training. Just books. (It’s a book game.) Presume they will do the exact same amount of exercises out of the books that you did.
6. The subject goes into the house without any belief in magic. They are a smug, modern agnostic.
7. A maximum of ten titles. Trilogies count as three books
Its the bit about assuming the reader has no belief in magic that makes it interesting. The books I choose are not what I consider the best books on magic tech, but the ones that open the mind to the possibility of something more. They are the books can help serve as Morpheus to a young Neo, whispering in his ear:
"Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?"
As for the type of magician I am going to build, that is a distinction that I don't even really recognize in anything but the most neophyte practitioners. I am going to build a Sorcerer, which pretty well blows all those distinctions to hell.
I will add an Eighth rule to this for myself: I am going to avoid my own books. Obviously I think that they are good or I would not have written them. Since both Gordon and RO were kind enough to list The Sorcerers Secrets in their lists, I will let that stand as endorsement enough.
Now onto my list for opening up the magical universe to someone who hasn't been initiated yet:
1. Magic and Mystery in Tibet by Alexandria David Neel
There are a lot of inaccuracies in this book. I have mentioned the Theosophical bent that led to her misinterpretation of what a Tulpa is before on this blog, All that aside, with the hundreds of books that have been written about Tibet since her time there, none quite captures the flavor of Tibetan Magic like this book does. Tibet has spent as much effort on magic and meditation over the last 1200 years that we have on science and technology. The real masters that spend years at a time on retreat really can do the things that even most magicians think are impossible. I have seen these things with my own eyes. When I was first starting out, other books provided the tech, but this book provided the fire.
2. The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation with Demiotic Spells. Edited by Hans Deiter Betz
Ancient Greece was not all high philosophy, democracy, and mathmatics. There was a lot of magic going on that ranged the gambit from visionary rituals meant to carry ones spirit to the stars, to nasty defixiones tablets aimed at getting even with neighbors for stealing your wife or maiming a horse of the team you are betting against at the races. This collection has all that and more. Takes the sort of things that were talked about in the last book and moves it west.
3. Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon
A lot of books give the impression that magic is all about knowing the right rituals and spells. This book presents the idea of Magus as a person that possesses real power, not just knowledge. It also lays out a program of hard work needed to attain that power. One of my favorites.
4. Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson
One of the first books that I ever read presenting Witchcraft as a craft, not just a religion. It is perhaps a little over the top in its delightfully diabolical style, but it gets the juices flowing. It also is a great book for blending practical folk magic with some high magic principals. Reading this after Bardon will give an idea of the kind of variation that the world of magic has.
5. Unkle Setnnakt's Essential Guide to the Left Hand Path - by Don Webb
I reject the dichotomy that the Temple of Set makes between RHP and LHP so this might seem like an odd choice. It is however a great little book that demonstrates how magical skill needs to be blended with real world skill if you are going to get real results. I like his Gurdjieffian approach to liberation. The 90 day self initiation is also a great exercise. I would just advise against buying into the whole Prince of Darkness bit.
6. Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by catherine yronwode
An encyclopedia of Herbs, Roots, Minerals, and Zooligical items used in the practice of Hoodoo. She gives several spells for each. Two reasons for this book making the list. The first is for introducing a type of magic that relies primarily upon materia and prayer rather than energtic and psychic strength, this in turn gives a fuller understanding of the quintessence of the art. The second is that the biggest point of failure for most magic is an insufficient link. Hoodoo is all about exploiting the magical link. If you can learn to harness power from Bardon, and apply it through physical means like Hoodoo, you will be way ahead of most would be Sorcerers.
7. The Magicians Dictionary by EE Rehmus
This book is just an educational and entertaining romp through the occult world. Though a little out of date, our reader will walk away with a greater understanding of magic throughout the world, and have a million things to follow up on.
8. The Sacred Magician, A Ceremonial Diary by William Bloom
This is the diary of William Blooms undertaking of the Abramelin working. It is one thing to read Abramelin, it is quite another to read the account of a modern man that did the operation with success. This book more than any other, more than the book of Abramelin itself, inspired me to do the working.
9. Taoist Cosmic Healing by Mantak Chia
Chia has oodles of books, almost any of which could have gone here. I chose this one because it has a pithy overview of his system as a whole, presenting a view of the etheric body and use of energy that is more developed than almost anything in the west, yet is easily transported. The book also is chock full of some really cool and bombastic color diagrams that can seem silly at first, but will really drive home the tech.
10. Heartdrops of the Dharmakaya by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen commentary by Lopon Tenzin Namdak
To my mind, Dzogchen, is probably the highest form of spiritual practice on the planet and also the most suited to the modern day. Heartdrops is the ONLY publicly published text in English that covers the whole process of the Mengakide approach to Dzogchen, from Rushans, to Threkchod, to Togyal. For those that have an issue with being "Buddhist", it gets even better because heartdrops is not a Buddhist text, but Bon - the pre-buddhist religion of Tibet. This sets up the view of mind and reality that to my mind, a great Sorcerer will have.
There are a dozen other books forcing themselves forward in my mind, so I feel compelled to mention: Modern Angelic Magic by Frater R.O., Generating the Diety by Gyatrul Rinpoche, Demons of the Flesh by the Schreks, magica Hiera by Christopher Faraone, Cult of Tara Magic and Ritual in Tibet by Stephan beyer, Modern Ritual Methods and the Sangreal Sacrament by William Gray, Modern Magic by Don Michael Kraig, Cosmic Trigger by Robert Anton Wilson, Roebuck in the Thicket by Robert Cochrane and Evan John Jones, Ars Philtron by Daniel Schulke, Zoetic Grimoire of Zos by RO Spare, Liver Kaos by Peter J Carroll, new Avatar Power by Geoff Cobb, Practice of Magic and Advanced Magical techniques by Draja Mickaharic, and Grimoire Sympathia by Charubel.