I have been a very fortunate person. As a result of writing Modern Magick, I’ve had the opportunity to meet incredible people, travel around the U.S. and Europe, and experience remarkable things. Part of my good fortune is that I was able to share information in Modern Magick in just the right way and at just the right time. As a result, it has remained popular. For that, I’m extremely grateful.
Some people have called Modern Magick a classic. I don’t concern myself with that. Besides, I’ve already updated the original edition twice, so I certainly don’t think it should be set in stone. The important aspect is that it’s presented information in a way people can relate to and use. With it, people can learn the basics of magick and apply that information as is or use it as a basis for understanding any other magickal system. It’s a path, not a goal.
Several years ago, a young man asked me how I felt knowing that decades from now people will still look at it as a classic. My response to him was, “I hope not!”
That may sound strange, but as I’ve said, I’ve already made improvements in content and language twice. I would hope that the field of magick evolves enough so that the first edition of my book remains practical or at worst becomes historical rather than some sort of end-all or be-all of magick.
The Key is in the Language
The English language is like the mythic version of the “Wild West.” It’s open and wild and people can do anything with it. Sure, our teachers in school were grammar police, but once you understand how language works (and graduate school), you can use it as you will with the hopes that the reader will understand your communications. Famous examples of people ignoring the rules of grammar include the “stream of consciousness” writing by James Joyce’s in his classic, Ulysses and the eccentric punctuation found in the poetry of E. E. Cummings (which is often presented as e.e. cummings).
So the purpose of language is to communicate ideas, but the use of language evolves. The English language of 150 years ago still mostly has the same rules, but the way they’re used (or ignored) has evolved. If you want to communicate, your language has to change with the times. And for writers, that’s the challenge.
My parents listened to music from the 1930s and ’40s all their lives. My older brother listened to music from the 1950s and early 1960s. Most people today listen to the popular music from their late teens through early thirties. Even though people may listen to music from outside of that period of their growth, most people have so many memories attached to the music of that time that the music becomes “their voice.” It speaks to them. Because it’s so meaningful it becomes difficult to think outside of the paradigm of those styles of music.
Wonderful music that you first hear from before your teens or after your thirties may not appeal to you because it doesn’t strike home and may seem as if it’s foreign. The same is true of the use of language. Some people don’t like Shakespeare because his use of language is outside of what was spoken during their teens through thirties. Great informative writing may not appeal to you simply because the way the words speak to you, the “voice” of a book, doesn’t sing in your heart. I think both Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley may have instinctively understood this and in their fiction tried to break out of the old style of writing. They didn’t fully succeed. Instead, they jump back and forth between Victorian and contemporary writing styles.
Reading the Tarot
When I first started to study the Tarot I read everything I could find. Over time I discovered I could meld all the concepts from the books I had read into a cohesive whole. However, there was one exception: The Tarot by Mouni Sadhu. In the edition I have, the book is composed of numerous brief (a few pages or less) chapters. You can read a chapter in a few minutes and think about it. Well, I’d read a chapter, then another, then another. Each would make sense to me for a bit, and then I’d realize I had no idea what Sadhu was writing about! Over the years I’ve tried to read this book many times, but always turned away puzzled and disappointed.
I am sure that there are many people whom this book speaks to. I can’t really critique the book because I’ve never fully read it. It just doesn’t speak to me.
And that’s one of the reasons I love magick books. For example, there’s a new book by Shawn Martin Scanlon called Everything You Want to Know About Magick But Were Afraid to Ask.
This is a great book that covers the basics of magick. It covers questions such as:
- Does magick really work?
- Is magick dangerous?
- Where does the power come from?
- Can I learn to perform magick myself?
It will also help you learn how to:
- Understand the Hermetic language
- Acquire self-confidence and magnetism
- Increase your psychic and astral senses and abilities
- Perform sex magick
- Create rituals for wealth, health, love, creativity, or any other purpose
- Learn how to prepare your temple
- Safely work with angels or demons
In short, this is a great book that gives you excellent basic training in magick. I’d certainly recommend it as one source for anyone wanting to learn magic.
Wait A Minute…
By now you may be thinking, “Isn’t that an awful lot like Modern Magick? Why are you talking so nicely about the competition?” There are three specific answers to those questions.
- Yes, some of the material is like what you find in Modern Magick. Any basic book on magick needs to cover certain similar concepts. But much of the information in his book is unique and not found in my book, while much of what is in my book isn’t found in Scanlon’s. There is necessary overlap, but the books are hardly the same.
- This book has an entirely different approach than mine. The approach is not in conflict with the concepts I present, it is simply a different way of looking at the material and approaching it. It is written in a “different voice,” and I applaud it.
- Most importantly, occult books don’t compete! This is because of a basic rule I’ve learned: nobody buys just one occult book. Mr. Scanlon’s book (and indeed, many other magick training books) don’t compete with Modern Magick, they complement it. If you read his book and like it, you’re more likely to get mine. And if you study my book, you’re more likely to add to what you know by getting his. You not only get different approaches to the same topics—which can help you understand root concepts—you also get different topics that expand on each other.
If you haven’t read any books on the basics of magick, I’d encourage you to read Mr. Scanlon’s. The more you find it involving the more you’re likely to want more and get my book. Or get my Modern Magick. The more you like it the more you are likely to get Mr. Scanlon’s book.
But whichever book(s) you get and start to read, there is one thing that is even more important: