The holiday season is upon us! Hindus and Tantrics have just had Diwali. Of course Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are coming, as is the Winter Solstice and the coming new year (Wow! 2012 already). All of these festivals (and don’t forget Festivus!) have two thing in common: the concept of bringing in new spiritual light and the sharing of gifts.
For me, the best way to bring in light is to share something that brings new learnings. One of my personal mottos is “We don’t die when we stop breathing, we die when we stop learning.” Right now, the single most effective and efficient way to share in-depth information is through books. I can think of no better way to share new ideas than through the giving of books. Here are some of the ones that I think would be ideal for gifts this year, not simply because they have information, but because they have new concepts that can help readers move in new directions for the new year.
Modern Magick (the expanded and revised 3rd edition):
Okay, I’m sure you pretty much guessed that I was going to list this one! Even if someone already has a copy of the previous edition of Modern Magick, this is something really new. It’s filled with about 40% new material. Every chapter/lesson has new tips, ideas, suggestions, and art. Everything is explained more clearly. Plus, there is an entirely new chapter introducing basic concepts of chaos magick, postmodern magick, and a magickal path of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). This new sections includes new rituals and techniques that can be used within any magickal practice. This really is the Modern Magick for the 21st century.
Chaos magic has developed over the past several decades. It began by asking a simple question: what is the minimum amount of magical work necessary to get the maximum results? Most other books on chaos magic have been either theoretical and philosophical or assumed that the reader already knew a great deal of magical techniques and concepts. This is the first book I’ve seen that is comprehensive, easy-to-understand, and yet very effective. Chaos magic is currently far more popular in the U.K. and Europe. This book would be a perfect gift for anyone looking to supercharge their magic and try something radical, powerful, and new.
For many years, people have talked about Enochian Magick, the techniques revealed by Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn modified the work so it would function within their system. Several books have been published that also modified the methods or presented incomplete aspects of the system. It’s been called the most powerful system of magick in the world. Paul Foster Case, founder of the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.), basically copied what he had learned in the Golden Dawn (focusing on the Tarot) but stripped every vestige of Enochian from it, perhaps worrying about its potency in the hands of untrained people.
Aaron Leitch’s two-volume set is simply the clearest and most complete exploration of the history and practice of this system ever published. These beautiful, hard-bound books share Dee’s original system without the changes and alterations of later occultists. There is so much information that it had to go into two books. There is a new and growing interest in Enochian magic, and to add to your magickal techniques, nothing else is as thorough as these books. They would make a wonderful addition to any magician’s library.
If you haven’t read any of the books by Lon DuQuette, you’re in for a treat. They’re not only highly informative, they’re also very funny. Low Magick is a perfect gift for someone who might otherwise be looking for a light-reading fiction—it presents amazing events from Lon’s life. But the information in this book is also hand-on and how-to. There’s definitely enough “meat and potatoes” within the stories to help guide magicians with years of new techniques and help them move their magick to new levels. Because it’s so enjoyable and fun to read, it will be used over and over (an invocation to the tune of “Pop! Goes the Weasel?”). This book would be a fun and fantastic gift.
These two books by Patrick Dunn provide two of the freshest and most forward-looking approaches to magick I’ve encountered in years, so much so that I give an introduction to them in the new edition of Modern Magick! It seems as if every generation has its own approach as to how magick works. Past explanations have included the power of God, of spirits, of demons, via synchronicity, mind power, spiritual energy, etc. For the 21st century, perhaps the ideal model for understanding how magick works—and thus improving magickal effectiveness—is through the understanding of the most ubiquitous feature of this generation: the computer. Or more precisely, how computers work and the languages they speak. Dunn presents a completely new way of understanding magic based upon symbolism, language, and the latest theories of communication. But these two books aren’t merely theory and philosophy. They’re also filled with brilliant new ways of performing effective magick and enhancing the magickal techniques you or your gift recipient already practice.
I’ve met many hundreds of people who have Israel Regardie’s book, The Golden Dawn. Most of them don’t use it or don’t understand it. At best, they only use selected parts of it. If this book is so important, why do people have such trouble with it? The truth is, the book is simply a collection of documents that were not originally intended to be in a book. In fact, they’re basically just notes. They were designed to be fully explained to initiates by teachers in the Order. Trying to understand Regardie’s book, with little or no previous training, ranges from challenging and puzzling to nearly impossible.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. The teachings in there have helped many thousands of people on a magickal path. As more and more contemporary Golden Dawn groups pop up its use will become even more widespread. However, if you’re not near such a group, you can still get the basics to understand the information with The Essential Golden Dawn. Written by two senior adepts of the Order, it provides the missing information that makes Regardie’s book complete, such as the history of the Order, how the group functioned, and how to do the basic rituals. If you want to give a gift of knowledge concerning the Golden Dawn, I would suggest giving these two books in tandem. If someone already has Regardie’s book, but isn’t using it, give them The Essential Golden Dawn.
Speaking of the Golden Dawn, the Order used several divinatory systems. Many of you reading this are familiar with Tarot and astrology. They also used a very complex form of divination that combined Enochian magick with chessboards. Another system they used is known as geomancy. Geomancy involves the development of special figures through chance, similar to the way the hexagrams of the I Ching are made. But then, similar to the Tarot, the figures are placed in a spread. This pattern is based on a rectangular horoscope chart as is still used in India. The figures are interpreted based upon their position in the layout. Then, unlike either the Tarot or astrology, they were combined to give new and additional interpretations. Geomancy slowly became less popular in the 19th century, but as people rediscover it, the system is gaining new popularity.
Geomancy for Beginners is an excellent introduction to this ancient divinatory art. It’s a good way to see if you, or the person you’re gifting, want to delve more deeply into the system. Skinner’s Geomancy in Theory and Practice is the most complete and thorough book on the subject ever published. Beautifully hardbound (making it a great gift!), it explores the history and various methods used to become a powerful practitioner of geomantic divination. This book is already considered the classic on the subject, giving new life to a valuable mantic technique.
The Kabbalah forms the underpinnings of much of magickal theories and practice. When I first started studying the Kabbalah (thank’s for nothing, Mr. Waite!), I found it bizarre, complex, and difficult to understand. It was very frustrating. Then I found the first edition of this book. It was not only clear, but had practical rituals and exciting adventures. This is the book that helped me develop an inner understanding of the mystical Kabbalah.
This book, now in its third revised and greatly expanded edition, is better than ever. When people ask me which is the first book about the Kabbalah that I would recommend (other than Modern Magick, of course!), I suggest this one. If you know someone who’s interested in the subject, this would be the perfect gift for them. It can help people start in a new, more Kabbalistic direction. If you’ve read an earlier edition, you might want to gift yourself with the latest edition, too.
* * *
Well, those are my suggesting for great gifts. Every time someone who receives a book from you starts reading it, they’re going to think of you with gratitude. It’s a dozen books, and anyone spending a month on each would be well-versed in magick and occultism.