As with many of Llewellyn's authors, I frequently travel to give workshops and lectures. Over the past few years I have been to New York and California, Florida and Washington State, and to many places between. I've given workshops in Hawaii and Switzerland. As I write this I have most recently given workshops in Connecticut and northern California.
One of the most common questions I receive when I'm on the road concerns what books I recommend for people to have in their personal collections. There are actually many books I recommend, ranging from books of English literature to theology and philosophy. In my opinion, a broad education is valuable to all magicians. But the truth is, many people aren't looking for that answer, they want to know which magickal books they should have. Here, then, is a selection of books I recommend as well as why I think they're important. I don't think these are the only books for a personal magickal library, but they are a good start.
Another book to include here is Color Magic for Beginners. It's a delightful introduction to the concept of correspondences, an important part of ceremonial magick practice. When you understand how different colors correspond to different gems, chakras, flowers, numerology, etc., you'll have a good start at understanding magick. By the same token, it is also important to understand the use of symbols. Magical Symbols of Love & Romance gives information on historical and modern symbology. I like both of these books because they cover both theoretical and practical use of these concepts.
I also think it is important to understand the history of magickal practice. Unfortunately, there are many books that describe magickal history but are not very practical. For those of you who are interested in a practical look at the ancient magick of northern Europe, I suggest Northern Magick. If you want to learn about our African magickal heritage, The Way of the Elders is a great (and at times, rather shocking) resource. The Lost Books of Merlyn shares ancient Druidic wisdom and magickal techniques from the British Isles. All three books have information you can use.
The first, of course, is my own Modern Magick. It is literally a step-by-step training manual of ceremonial magick, covering most topics you need to know. Everything from astral projection and meditation to evocation and sex magick is covered. Other topics include instruction in the Kabalah, the Tarot, magickal tools, visualization, talismans, banishings, and much more.
A great complement to this would be True Magick. It covers some of the same topics, but from a different point of view. It also adds information on topics such as forming or joining a magickal group, how to plan rituals, etc. It started out as a wonderful small book. Now it has been greatly expanded and revised, making it better than ever.
One of the important aspects of magick is the use of visualization, often to a far greater degree than you find in books on the subject. One book that goes into extreme detail on the subject is Magical Use of Thought Forms. It gives intense training in how to build correct astral images.
A similar book is Familiar Spirits. It reveals a modern form of working with visualization to create spirits that can be in your service to achieve your goals. The technique is very powerful and is a version of techniques used by some very powerful contemporary magicians.
One of the things I like to tell people is that once you've really learned magick, you don't need robes, wands, candles, incense, tools, etc. So why do I use them? Because I like them! They add to what I do and what I feel. But I don't want to become addicted to them or feel powerless without them. That's why I like the following two books. The first is Portable Magic. It shows you how you can use a simple Tarot deck for your altar, tools, and more. This is ideal for traveling, as it is easy to carry a deck in a bag or purse.
The second is Instant Magick. It shows how once you have learned magick you can do it anywhere without any altars, tools, or other paraphernalia. All you need is the power of your own mind.
An important aspect of magick is the discovery of the importance of the astral plane. It is simply this: whatever is created on the astral plane must eventually manifest on the physical plane. Therefore, learning to work with the astral plane, and even consciously visit it, can be of tremendous value. In Dancing with Dragons you'll learn about some entities you may encounter on the astral plane and how to work with them.
Spellcaster is focused on how to increase the power of all your magickal practices. Seven occultists wrote it so you'll get different approaches and find a wide variety of concepts and techniques you can use.
The second presents a system that is based on the past but looks toward the future. In the past, people have looked at magick from a spiritualist paradigm or a psychological paradigm. In Postmodern Magic, you'll see what may be the first modern understanding of magick based on an information transfer paradigm, a view that is closely related to the way computers work in our civilization. It will give you many new ways to look at and approach magick.
The answer, of course, is nothing. Being a scholar is wonderful. But there is an enormous difference between being a scholar and being a practicing magician. In my opinion, several books have been published that have been written by scholars who base their ideas on theories and beliefs rather than practical work.
If you wish to be a scholar, then may all the gods and goddesses bless you! But to my mind, information is useless unless it is put into action. If you get some or all of the books above—and I think you should—I deeply suggest that rather than just reading them, you should start practicing what is in them. After all, there is no difference between not practicing what you know of magick and not knowing magick at all. Yes, it is great to have scholars. But it is my hope that many of you will be magicians, too.
Donald Michael Kraig graduated from UCLA with a degree in philosophy. He also studied public speaking and music (traditional and experimental) on the university level. After a decade of personal study and practice, he began ...