Defend Against Curses, Gossip, Thieves, Demonic Forces, Violence, Threats and Psychic Attack by Damon Brand.
Confession: I think I have a sort of love-hate relationship with The Gallery of Magick books. Big emphasis on love, and hate is of course a too strong of a word, yet I do have some issues with the way they present their material, which I’ll talk about below. That being said, these books are intended for practitioners, not scholars nor armchair magicians (even if you can do all this comfortably from your armchair. More on this further down). As such, this review is done from the perspective of actual use and experience with the book in question, rather than snobbish occult theoretical elitism.
The book is kind of split into 4 major parts. First off you have the introduction to why, how, and what of banishing. Right away this will tell you which sections of the book will be most useful to you and what they recommend you do. It describes 3 different scenarios.
Most people will fall under scenario 1, which covers general protection. This basically consists of learning an easy banishing ritual (The Sword Banishing) to be performed at least twice a day, then after you are comfortable with that, you supplement it with a Master Protection Ritual. This last ritual is done once a day for thirty-three days, and then you’re done, but continue with The Sword Banishing.
Scenario 2 is more or less the same as scenario 1, and scenario 3 is for when you need urgent help, and is a lot more involved. You don’t need to follow any of these scenarios, but they offer a good guideline for how to approach the content of the book. Some may just be interested in specific rituals, and you can of course pick and choose as you see fit.
One of the main features (or maybe I should say best features?) of this book is The Sword Banishing ritual. It’s worth buying the book just for that I think. However, we are not granted too much information about it, apart from being told that it was developed between 1982 and 1988, then refined in “more recent years” (original publication date was March 11, 2015), and that it’s the Gallery of Magick’s own preferred banishing ritual. Armed with the knowledge that this ritual has a history, reaching back 38 years (at the time of writing), does add to the effectiveness in my opinion.
Also taking into account how popular these Gallery of Magick books are, means that probably quite a few people do use this technique too, which lends further “power” to the tradition. It’s what I personally use now, and I highly recommend it as an easy, yet effective alternative to the more complicated and time-consuming Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (aka LBRP).
Banish in your head – Banish in your bed!
“It’s all in your head — you just have no idea how big your head is.”Lon Milo Duquette
Arguably, almost all magick (with a k at least) CAN be done “in your head”. What specifically sets The Sword Banishing from most other rituals, is that it’s almost designed to be used entirely “in your head”. I say almost because it’s certainly encouraged to intone the angelic words/names, but it’s not absolutely necessary. You can just whisper or say the proper incantations internally.
Again, arguably all magick can, to some extent, also be done in bed, or lying down. So my point here is that this particular banishing ritual is very suited for disabled and/or bedridden persons. The author described how he uses this banishing in bed himself, and while I usually do mine sitting down, I have done this as well, with great results.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Ok, so I’ve hopefully covered a lot of the good aspects of this book above. And there really is quite a lot for a release that’s just about 100 pages long. So from a strictly practical point of view, this is gold! However, there’s a lot of room for improvement, and while this might just be my own personal taste and preference, I feel it’s important to address.
I own quite a few of The Gallery of Magick’s publications. Some of them I’ve used A LOT since it’s all practical magick meant to be used. And let’s just say that the physical quality of the books themselves don’t hold up too well. Meaning the covers will shed their plastic (?) coating and just get damaged a lot in general. Now, this isn’t all bad, as these paperbacks are dirt cheap, and being working books, I don’t feel too bad about covering the pages with my notes and markings in the margins.
The blank pages in the back of this book for instance are great for keeping track of dates of when rituals are started and for how many times you’ve done them.
Furthermore, the internal layout is not the greatest. Mostly in the sense that it’s not very aesthetically pleasing, but also because clearly, a more thoughtful presentation would help a lot with how the information is delivered. Unfortunately, it can be a bit messy and you get a lot of unnecessary back and forth.
This last issue could perhaps have been solved with a good editor. But I get a feeling and an impression that they don’t spend a lot of money on production and that they sometimes go for a quantity over quality mindset. But as we all know, there’s not a lot of money in occult publishing, so from a business perspective, I get it. But it can make the overall impressing seem a bit cheap.
What’s really inexcusable though, is their lack of source citations and clues about how they’ve come to choose various names, symbols, and procedures. At a minimum, we should at least have a bibliography, as all this stuff has come from somewhere, whether it’s old obscure Kabbalistic texts or arcane (or not as well known) grimoires. You can gather some information by searching online though, and on their website.
To end on a positive note, there is a very handy pronunciation guide at the very end of the book. Maybe we’ll get treated with more material like this, indices, bibliographies, and appendices, if they ever decide to revamp their release in the future? At least we can hope for that.
Aleister Crowley infamously said that “magick is for all”, and all in all, this is just that. It’s all you need to begin, and as such, I believe this could potentially be a good place to start for many neophytes.
This isn’t hard to do at all, in fact, at times it’s even deceptively simple. However, not everyone might be comfortable or want to deal, for whatever reason, with all the angelic names and such. And even if this book also uses genius spirits, the angelic beings are inescapable and as far as I can tell, integral to most everything in here.
Despite some of its flaws, which most likely won’t bother others as much as it does me, it’s worth checking out, even just for getting the Sword Banishing Ritual.