One of the mistakes many people make when they consider magick—the ability to make desired changes in their lives—is to consider it as something "supernatural." The first half of that word, super, is from the ancient Latin, meaning "above" or "beyond." So many people believe that magick is something that is beyond what is natural.
This has resulted in an excellent excuse for condemnation by those who are themselves fearful of the unknown or who want to use their supposed authority to prevent others from working magick: "It’s not natural. It’s beyond natural. Don’t touch it!"
The truth, however, is that magick is one hundred percent natural. There is evidence that the earliest humans used magick to assure they had good hunting and fertile crops, safe births and healthy children. I guess it must have worked, because we’re here and you’re reading this!
Magick began by looking to understand the subtle ways in which the universe actually works. Magick is powerful and useful because it works with nature, not because it is above or outside of it. It works with the herbs and the elements, the breath and the Moon, the stones beneath our feet, and the sounds and words that come from our mouths. What could be more natural than that?
Indeed, I contend that magick is our birthright! Just as you have the right to work at a job and earn money to improve your lot in life, you also have the right to work magick to achieve the goals you want. To not do this is to abandon everything that is normal, everything that is truly human.
As cities developed and people had more time to experience things other than daunting dawn-to-dark work raising crops and animals, magick practitioners searched for more magickal skill and precision. This was a necessity, for if things don’t evolve, they die out. Various magicians—in contact with non-physical spirits and their own higher selves—helped develop the basics of magick as it’s practiced today.
So no, today we aren’t working magick exactly as was done by our ancient ancestors. We have evolved, and magick has evolved with us. This is more than a good thing, more than a necessary thing—this is absolutely great! It means that magick is alive and continues to thrive. When I first started practicing magick, there were far more people studying and talking about magick than actually performing magick. I firmly believe that there are more practicing magicians today than at any time in human history. We are reclaiming our magickal birthright!
Errors Creep In
Unfortunately, all human endeavors are colored by personal experience. People find that some magickal technique works for them and assume it should work for everyone. People make changes to what worked for aeons in order to "improve" it, and practitioners keep struggling to make accidents and errors regularly work. When they don’t, some people, disappointed, turn from the magickal path. In my opinion, the solution to this problem is best explained by one of my teachers, who said:
"Learn from the past.
One way to make your magick more successful, then, is to learn from our predecessors and take those learnings into the present and future. That’s one of the reasons I’m so happy that Llewellyn is distributing books from Golden Hoard Press.
Live in the present.
Create your future."
Golden Hoard is publishing some of the books that were used by the teachers of the teachers of the teachers who are teaching magick today. Whether you are a Pagan, a member of a Golden Dawn group, a follower of the Aurum Solis, a Thelemite, a chaos magician, or a student of any other system of magick, the Golden Hoard books are the sources of what you’re doing. Learning from them, and seeing how practitioners have helped the systems evolve, will allow you better perform magick and help magick continue to evolve into the future.
The Golden Hoard books are invaluable to magicians everywhere! If you did a lot of research, you might be able to find some of the original texts, but they could be incomplete or in another language. Golden Hoard not only makes the originals available but puts them into understandable English and includes commentaries and explanations by some of the world’s leading occult scholars. You can click on the name of Stephen Skinner, the publisher of Golden Hoard Press, to see some of the amazing books they are offering to the world through Llewellyn. I’d like to mention just three of their most recent contributions, three books I consider of inestimable importance and value to all magicians.
- Liber Lunae—Book of the Moon
& Sepher ha-Levanah (Transcribed, Edited, and Introduced by Don Karr; English Translation by Calanit Nachshon
One of the most overlooked aspects of magick are the Mansions of the Moon. Although I mention one version of them briefly in my Modern Magick, there is much more about them that can be learned.
The basic idea of the Mansions is that there are powerful links for each day of the month associated with each day of the Moon relative to the Moon’s cycle. Thus, the first day after the full Moon is the first mansion, the second day the second mansion, etc. This may be based on the old Nakshatra system found in the ancient astrology of the pre-Hindu people of India, as there was communication between India, Europe, and the Middle East. This makes the Mansions one of the most important links between ancient astrology, modern astrology, astronomy, and practical magick.
Liber Lunae is a composite text containing three major sections:
- The Mansions of the Moon: This section describes the operations of the twenty-eight constellations of the lunar zodiac, their magical virtues, and their names.
- The Hours of the Day and Night: This section describes the operations of the planetary or magickal hours, where you divide the time between sunrise and sunset (and from sunset to sunrise) into twelve equal parts, or hours. Each one of these magickal hours is more fully revealed here than anywhere else, including their names, virtues, talismanic images, and angels to invoke.
- The Figures of the Planets: This section describes each planet’s magic square, virtue, suffumigation, magical directions, and inscription.
This book is fully transcribed from a sixteenth-century English manuscript, annotated, edited, and supplemented by modernized English versions of "The Hours of the Day and Night," "The Figures of the Planets," and "The Mansions of the Moon," integrating information from both Liber Lunae and Sepher ha-Levanah.
Concerning the second book, this volume also features a facsimile of A. W. Greenup’s 1912 edition of Sepher ha-Levanah, a Hebrew version of Liber Lunae. You get the full Hebrew version and a full English translation of Sepher ha-Levanah prepared by Calanit Nachshon. There are also editorial links to other magickal concepts and ideas, making this the most thorough book ever published on the subject.
There have been a few books published on the magick of the Moon. This is one of the oldest, and is probably the source for those other books. Once the contents were rare and impossible to find. Now, thanks to Llewellyn and Golden Hoard, you can enhance your magick and use the ancient traditions. This book is beautifully hardbound with a dust jacket and will be a welcome addition to your personal book collection as well as a practical book you’ll use often.
- The Magical Treatise of Solomon or Hygromanteia (Translated and edited by Ioannis Marathakis, Foreword by Stephen Skinner
One of the most popular forms of magick today is called Solomonic. It uses sigils of spirits combined with evocations to actually communicate with various spirits who, in turn, can bring information or perform tasks that can help you in your life. Often, when we think of someone performing ceremonial magick, we have the vision of a Solomonic magician. Today, one of the key books in this practice is the Goetia, part of the Lesser Key of Solomon. I reveal a modern means of doing this form of ritual in my Modern Magick.
The Key of Solomon, however, did not simply appear from nowhere. It evolved from previous works and practices. Now, Llewellyn and Golden Hoard present, for the first time ever, the true ancestor of the Key of Solomon, the Hygromanteia. I know, it sounds like some sort of book on water divination, and has successfully hidden that way for centuries. However, this is the original Greek book of magic that was the source of the Key of Solomon, and, in turn the ancestor of most of the grimoire-based ceremonial magic practiced in Europe and the U.S. today.
It is the first time (outside of a handful of pages in academic works) that the full Greek original of the Key of Solomon appears in English.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Key of Solomon was not translated from a Hebrew original. During the gradual decline and fall of the Byzantine Empire, this precious text, along with many others, was taken to Italy. This may even have happened when Constantinople was sacked in 1453. It is quite likely that it was taken to Venice, where parts of it were translated into Latin and Italian.
Abridged Latin copies entitled Clavicula Salomonis circulated in Europe, going through many changes, languages, and versions to become the Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon as we know them. Now, for the first time you can read the whole, original text (large portions of which were left out of the Latin translations), finally arranged clearly in the order in which it was meant to be read. This is the version that really makes sense.
Quite simply, this is the single most important book of Solmonic magick ever published. It has all of the missing information and greater depth and information for every aspect of magick than what you may have read in any of the modern versions of the Keys. If you are interested in the history of magick, the evocation of spirits, or any form of Solomonic or Goetic magick, this hardbound book, with full color and black and white illustrations, is a must.
- Dr John Dee’s Spiritual Diaries (1583-1608): Being a fully revised, reset and edited edition of a
True & Faithful Relation of what Passed for many Yeers between Dr John Dee...and Some Spirits...
(Preface by Meric Casaubon, edited by Stephen Skinner
So far I’ve described important books on the Mansions of the Moon and Solomonic magick. The third book I want to tell you about may be the most important of the three. In 1974, Steven Skinner, through Askin Publishers, released A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed for Many Years Between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits. This massive and highly desired book now can sell for more than $450.00…if you can find a copy. It arguably is one of the books that is responsible for the modern interest in Enochian magick. Now, one of the most important books in the history of Enochian magick returns, and it’s better than ever.
This book was originally transcribed and prefaced by Meric Casaubon in 1659. Now edited by Stephen Skinner, it includes a detailed introduction, appendices, extensive footnotes, supplementary texts, additional illustrations, and a Dee timeline.
Its importance is matched by its size:0 9" x 13" and with 666 hardbound pages.
This book contains John Dee’s Spiritual Diaries for twenty-five of his most productive and magickal years (1583-1608). For any scholar or practitioner of magick, easy access to Dee’s Enochian system is one of the most important parts of the modern Western Esoteric tradition. This book covers:
- Dee’s invocation of the angels
- His reception of their Enochian system of magic
- His experiments in alchemy, and
- His experiences in the courts of the crowned heads of Europe.
This book has been totally re-set, re-formatted, and updated, incorporating corrections from the original notes of Meric Casaubon, Elias Ashmole, and William Shippen, with reference to the original manuscript written by Dee. Sections that were originally missing from Casaubon's edition have been added. Angels, spirits, people, places, dates, and times have been fully footnoted, and many of Casaubon’s errors corrected. This is the first organized and readable form of one of the most important magickal books in history, making the system accessible to many for the first time.
If you have ever wanted to venture into Enochian magick but found that modern authorities differed too much in their presentation, now you can read the original sourcebook for Enochian magick. No Enochian magician—indeed, no practitioner of magick—should be without this book.
Okay, to those of you who have read this far, I’d like to make a bit of an apology. If it sounds like I’m being over the top in my praise of these books, well, I want to remind you that my name is at the top of this article and I would not put it there if I did not believe and support what I have written. I’m excited about these books and I own them. So I apologize if you equate my excitement over these important—these vital!—books for every practicing magician. There are very few volumes that have been published in the last hundred years that are as important as these books. This is the way I feel, and if you find my exuberance to be "over the top," I apologize. And yet, it’s really the way I feel. These books should be in every magician’s library.