Angels & Archangels
A Magician’s Guide
- 288 pages
- Published by Sounds True
Firstly, I personally do recommend that you read Echols’ previous book High Magick before this, unless you already are experienced and/or familiar with western forms of ceremonial magical praxis, the likes of Golden Dawn or Thelema for instance. Nevertheless, I predict that High Magick very likely might become THE modern classic “go to” beginners introduction to magick, quite possibly destined to replace Donald Michael Kraig’s venerable Modern Magick. Time will tell. Now onward to the actual review Angels & Archangels.
I think it’s safe to say that this is somewhat of an anomaly, at least as far as occult publishing is concerned, as you could consider this to be quite a popular release by a very high profile author. My point being that this has both the momentum and exposure to be getting A LOT of public attention and opinions from people all around the online sphere, which should provide you with plenty of opportunity to get nuanced reviews, preview and overviews. So after you search YouTube for some excellent interviews where mr. Echols’s talks about his book himself, you can just pop over to Amazon or audible if you feel you need to further explore wether this is for you or not (spoiler alert: I think it is even if you don’t ;))
MAKING ANGELS COOL AGAIN
To be a mass marketed and mass produced book, it’s actually surprisingly well made. I’d say it even feels like a step up from the production of the aforementioned High Magick. It’s to be commended that they’ve managed to keep the book a hardcover while still keeping the cost down. Maybe it won’t last as long as the expensive hand bound talismanic releases of other occult publishers you may have in your private library, but for this price you can buy two copies… I also think it’s a fair chance that this will remain in print for years, so you don’t have to worry about missing out of a copy. It should also be said that this book is very tastefully designed and laid out, which isn’t uncommon for the more niche titles by the more specialist publishers alluded to, but for such a high profile release, it’s not a given. Also, everyone knows how easy it is for angel aesthetics to fall into the tasteless, tacky new age awfulness. Not the case here, thank God.
What I deeply appreciate about Damien Echols as an author and teacher is that he’s not a gatekeeper or an elitist, at all. His humble approach comes across in all his writing. Perhaps this is partly due to his poor upbringing or the fact that he initially learned his craft alone (he was as you probably know, on death row, spending several years in solitary confident) in prison, where his resources were limited, and he also was far removed from the occult and magick community. This is the real deal. Not the spooky, dark, mostly for pretend armchair snobbery you’ll often see these days and which frankly is getting a little old (although, if you know me, you know I very much enjoy that esoteric literature as well). Echols’s genuine excitement and enthusiasm leaps up at you from the page and is quite contagious and inspiring.
TWO PARTS MAGICIAN’S GUIDE
Part one acts like a reference of various categorizations of angels and archangels and their respective correspondences to such things as the elements, the Kabbalistic tree of life, the zodiac and the tarot. This is an extensive list serving concise information over a generous amount of pages. Of particular note is the attention given to the Tarot, with one page dedicated to each of the Major arcana cards and two cards a page of the Minor arcana. Now, we only get the name of the card, the associated angel and a short sentence or two of what it applies to, but with the Rider Waite Smith deck now being in public domain, it’s reprinted in full, albeit in black and white. Very handy.
Part two contains the practices and rituals. Again, here you might possibly benefit slightly from either having read High Magick beforehand or having previous magical training. However, this really is no prerequisite, and you’ll get everything you need here, from basic meditation and mindfulness to the essential rituals like The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP) and ending with more advanced stuff like The Rose Cross and the infamous Shem Operation (AKA the ivocation of Seventy-Two Angels of the Shem Ha Mephorash).
ONE PART OF THE GREAT WORK
All in all this results in a very thorough source book as well as a practical work book, well deserving a place on anyone’s bookshelf. Informative without being dull and everything is eloquently explained making it extremely easy to follow. This truly is magick for all!
Although we do get a good list of book recommendations for further study and exploration, and a handful of sources mentioned in the NOTES section, we should have been given more clues as to where all this information came from. I know it’s not always possible trace down or even pinpoint where all your transmission came from, but certainly a guidebook like this could benefit a lot from being well documented. But at least we get an index!
Now I can’t wait until Damien’s next book is released, which I think I heard somewhere might be ritual compilation written as a collaboration with his wife, Lorri Davis. We’ll see. All I know is that he’s on top of his game, and seeing where he’ll go next will be interesting.