BRIGHT FROM THE WELL:

Northern Tales in the Modern World

By Dave Lee

Tales From The Cryptocculture

This 168-page paper pack came out in 2008 and was published by Mandrake. Within you’ll find five essays, five short stories, one poem about the Elder Futhark, as well as a handful of black and white runic-sigils (or servitors to be more precise). 

We Need to Talk About Covers 

This may be a product of its time, even if by 2008 we have started to see a shift towards more tasteful and well-designed covers in occult publishing. Those who remember the 90s for instance will know that it was a particularly bad decade for paperbacks releases covering topics of magick and other forms of esoterica. So I feel like this is sort of stuck in the past in that regard. Which isn’t doing the book any favors, so I’ve decided to do it a favor by not including a picture of it. Harsh, I know, but, spoiler alert, I think this book has some interesting and inspiring stuff in it. All that being said, some of Lee’s other books, like the classic Chaotopia! Sorcery and Ecstasy in the Fifth Aeon have what I consider a good look.

We Need to Talk About Loki

My dear readers, I’m sorry to have to break it to you, but there’s no historical evidence that suggests Loki was associated with fire. This is a relatively new misconception, probably stemming from the similarities between the name Loki and the old Norse word for fire; logi. The composer Wagner may have popularized this notion, being heavily influenced by the idea of Loki as a god of fire from Jacob Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie. Another factor is the Left Hand Path and/or the satanic influence that wants to cast Loki as a sort of Lucifer figure. I think this is hilarious, as they are very vocal about what they believe is a Christian corruption of some of the original sources (the Prose Edda for instance).

My point here is that there have been taken many liberties over the years when it comes to the interpretations of old Norse myths and legends. Usually, this is from people that have a political agenda or some other ulterior motive, and that has muddied the waters significantly. This book in particular isn’t even that bad in this sense, and I’m not trying to single it out, but a couple of its claims aren’t exactly historically or even culturally accurate, so please make sure you do your own research and come to your own conclusions. Think for yourself.  

Despite these misreadings and misleading information (comparing Loki to Prometheus for instance), I applaud Lee for pushing forwards in terms of how to tap into these powers. In my opinion, this is the way to go. Yes, we need to focus on the authentic understanding of the sources (which is rather limited, and we just have to accept that we know very little for certain), but we should try and make it into a living tradition again. We can update the system without basing it on an outdated code.

Chaos Dwarf (10 points of you get the reference!)

Cyberpunk, or Seiðerpunk, as I Like to Call it

This is a very weird book. Weird in a good way. It taught me that weird, or weirdness, is as good a definition of magick as any. Go look up the etymology up the word weird if you don’t believe me. 

Perhaps apart from Peter Carrol, Dave Lee is the only champion of postmodern chaos magic who aims at making it into a sustainable practice. This isn’t just concerned with magical tech, which seems to be the largest obsession amongst chaotes today.

For the independent magician, seeking to hack the operating system to better suit their approach, the short stories included here may serve as a great source of inspiration. They do a fantastic job of recasting and reframing old myths in a way that brings forth new insight and ideas. Still, for me at least, the essays were the most engaging and readable parts of this book. Being as varied as the content is thought, there’s something for almost everyone attracted to Northern myths and paganism, especially when looked at from a chaos magic perspective.

“Chaos magic is capable of demonstrating to each practitioner that, with sufficient precision and passion, you can use pretty much any belief to dance with the universe.” 

There’s also some good practical advice to be found in this book as well, like this: 

“From living experience of magical Selfhood, the magician can rebuild his self-complex. One way to do this is, is over a series of magical retirements — concentrated sequences of daily magical work lasting a few weeks — to create your own system of magic, your personal grimoire.”

Well, Well, Well, What Do Have We Here?

One might think that I’d be the perfect target audience for this, being both a practicing chaos magician and a Scandinavian, yet it felt that a lot wasn’t for me at all. As mentioned above, there are some inaccuracies in terms of how the Nordic mythology is presented within these pages. Now, that being said, this is sadly very common, and it’s extremely rare to find anything that deeply resonates with me in that regard. However, I do recognize that for many others out there, these things won’t bother them, so I still believe many folks especially outside of the Nordic countries will find lots of value here. 

It has real potential, and most of my gripes are very minor, all of which would be easily rectified. The cover, for one, definitely could use an upgrade, a better editing of the text itself too would elevate its overall impression, because I get the impression that it was hastily put together, lacking proper proofreading. Also, while we do get an index, it’s very incomplete, and missing several key references, and I found at least one mistake. Although, at this point, I’m getting used to filling out indices with a pencil on my own, and it’s almost become a fun game. I just wish publishers would make more room to make it easier for us to do this on our own. This might just be me nitpicking.

All these minor issues make the book feel a little cheap and not at all a labor of love, which is a real shame. Hopefully, after the print run is sold out there will be a possibility for a revised second edition. I think that would be super cool, and certainly would help the book reach a wider audience, and I really do believe that it has never been a better time than now for combining chaos magic and nordic paganism.   

I’ve got your back covered…

All in all, my take away and overall impression is that this is a good stepping (rune)stone towards a more futuristic and personal take on the old Northern Tales.

And I’m all for that!

We really are long overdue for a revival of good old Techno Paganism.

This is The Age of the Seidrpunk…

Review sponsored by Varda.

A BOOK OF STAVES:

Galdrastafbók

by Jesse Bransford

Aurora borealis in Winter Wonderland (Iceland)

This 11.75 x 9.75 inches (30cm x 25cm) big black clothbound hardback monograph, is released by the legendary pioneers of talismanic publishing, Fulgur Press, a name that should be very familiar to all connoisseurs of premium esoteric material. If you don’t know them, I urge you to check out their content, as they are one of the leading occult book publishers in the modern market. I mean, in a way, they (re)invented it!

All this preamble is just to note that the physical tactile quality of this particular book is of the highest standard, and almost in and of itself makes investing in a purchase of such a book worth it as a work of art all on its own.

Touching cloth? A hardback-cloth star! (Hey, two bad jokes for the price of one!)

Galdrastafir Sightseer

After a dedication and quote by Walter Benjamin, the book opens with A Statement from the Artist. This is a brief 4 pages of text, presented in both English as well as Icelandic. After this, we get stanza 144 from Hávamál, followed by an 8-page long essay by Robert j. Wallis titled ‘I Know Those Spells’: Staves for the Sayings of the High One. This too is given to us in the dual languages of English and Icelandic and includes an always welcome Bibliography. This constitutes the majority of the text in the book, but apart from the short description of the specific staves shown, there is the occasional other Hávamál stanza to break things up.

Making a statement. Or a… stave-ment?

The rest of the book is also broken up into four separate sections: Sayings of the High One, Moon Rituals, Small Staves, and Elements. In order, these sections include 18, 9, 8, and 4 staves each, which is a grand total of 39 staves.

After a lot of deliberation, I’ve decided not to comment much on the above-mentioned texts, and instead, I’ll focus mainly on the art. This is because the art is really the most important part of this release, and I believe it’s intended to predominantly be an art book, nothing more. Historical accuracy and authenticity are out the window, however, armed with an artistic license, this is the artist’s prerogative.

What, No Nábrók in This Galdrastafbók?!

I do have some criticism, but these are minors gripes, but let’s just get those out of the way first, before we continue to the best features, shall we? Ok, here we go.

It does come across a bit shallow, falling into the usual traps of romanticizing the Icelandic grimoire magic, and ignoring its relationships, connections, and inheritances with and from the medieval mainland European grimoire tradition. It falls for the illusionary spell of the Icelandic magic tradition being much more exotic than it actually is (or was?). While there’s little doubt that Icelandic grimoires have their own unique flavor and it of course most certainly has some extremely quirky characteristics that definitely makes it have its own twist. Yet the pagan heritage is not as prevalent as people these days tend to think.

Not sure why this fantasy has become the narrative that people chose to cling to… but it might have something to do with a deep-rooted fear of the so-called “Christian influence”. It’s time to get real people. You can’t escape Christianity here. You may try and recast the past all you want, but the fact is that this kind of magic has much, much more in common with esoteric Abrahamic-based practices than with heathenry. You just have to come to terms with this. There, I said it.

Elder Futhark snark.

Furthermore, the artist has chosen to use some runes from the Elder Futhark, which could once again be chalked down to the aforementioned “artistic license”, but I feel I need to point out that it would be more culturally appropriate to either use the Icelandic runes or better yet, the Younger Futhark. Although, it could be argued that runes shouldn’t really be used much, if at all, in Icelandic stave magic. Controversial, I know, right?

For a good book about the Elder, Younger and Icelandic Futhark, I warmly recommend RUNES: THE ICELANDIC BOOK OF FUÞARK.

Also, if you want a taste of authentic Icelandic magic, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Like the book Icelandic Magic which I’ve already reviewed here.

Ghost … Stave On, Stave Off… Gustav, is that you?

The Stuff That Dream Staves are Made of

Where this artbook shines is not in the historical accuracy, but in the reimagining and artistically reinterpreting galdrastafir. In fact, it really makes no claims of being anything other than this; artwork.

Is there one’s to confuse friends or cats too? No?

Perhaps the most interesting feature, which makes these staves truly stand out, is the use of color. I might even go as far as to say that it’s the overall best feature of this artwork. Not that color in and of itself is remarkable, however, in the context of staves, even sigils to some extent, it’s rare to see such bold use of color. It’s really refreshing, and in my opinion, elevates the experience and moves the tradition forward. And isn’t that what it’s all about? For me at least, this is the whole point, especially when it comes to actual praxis. I will go on and on about misinterpretation and misrepresentation about what is authentic or not, in terms of the real heritage and history, yet I firmly believe that it’s our job to update everything that has to do with occultism and magic(k). And this is where this shines. And shine it does, like bright stars in the northern night sky, with a hint of northern lights blended with paintings of Hilma af Klint.

The color out of place…

Stave In / Stave Out

In as sense, it would make much more sense if this was released as a set of cards, even if the dimensions of the original artwork aren’t all exactly the same. I still think it would be possible to edit this down to a nice deck of course. Perhaps for a future re-release? In any case, it would amazing to use it not only for spellwork but as a super-weird oracle deck! However, as it stands, this big coffee table book does the job wonderfully, and the presentation of these original staves as art is as good as it gets in this format. I have no complaints when it comes to this.

Stave search.

Are you looking for inspiration, either for your own occult art or for making your own staves or even sigils? Then I think you’ll find all that and more in these pages. I certainly found treasures here.

At the time of writing it’s on sale, which makes this book a total bargain! Oh, and once this goes out of print, the secondhand prices will skyrocket.

This review was sponsored by Varda.

ICELANDIC MAGIC:

Aims, Tools and Techniques of the Icelandic Sorcerers 

by Christopher Alan Smith

Icelandic Cat Magic?

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and I won’t do that, even if in this case it seems very uninspired and bland, almost to the point of being boring. I mention this only because the contents are far from being boring, and for what it’s worth, first impressions count. However, if you were to crack open my copy and flick through its pages, you would be met with a multitude of marginalia generously scattered throughout. I say that the amount of marks made by the reader, in some cases, possibly provides a much better method of judgment of the quality of a book. 

Pedantic Magic

First of all, this book is not at all as dry as the cover suggests. Even if it might tend to be quite dense at times, as the author is trying to cram a lot of information into a relatively small space, it never actually becomes dull. Especially all the references to Fart Runes provide lots of entertainment. Although I need to make it clear that Fart Runes were serious business, to the point of being deadly, as there are court documents of a Witch trial where a man got executed for using them against a woman. 

Various forms of fart runes (the Farthark?)

And I think this is as good a place as any to say that when it comes to witchcraft and grimoire magic, Iceland is weird, Very weird. Not just for the fact that there seems to be an inverse of who mostly practiced these “black” arts, which consisted of the lower class farmers and fishermen, but also because it runs completely counter to the narrative of it being predominately female “witches” who were persecuted for and accused of practicing witchcraft. You see, in Iceland, out of the 22 cases of executions, 20 of them were men, while just 2 were women. 

Another interesting fact is that accusations of so-called “diabolism” do not play any part at all in the Icelandic court cases. Although there is one case in 1685 in which Halldór Finnbogason is burned for reciting “ Our father who art in hell…” witchcraft isn’t even mentioned at all, and instead, his crime was that of blasphemy. What is perhaps just as fascinating, is that the grimoires themselves featured heavily in the trails, something that rarely appears in Europe at the time. Sadly though, part of the punishments often entailed the book being burned in front of the accused. 

Old Norse Whispers 

Grimoire magic in general is very little understood by the modern-day materialist witches, but especially Icelandic magical staves seem to be amongst the most misunderstood parts of all in this tradition. And it is part of a tradition, or you could say that is a part of THE tradition. Because this has very little in common with vikings and other proto-norse forms of witchcraft and / or shamanism. It most definitely belongs somewhere in the linage of the medieval European “Christian” grimoire tradition. Yet, this isn’t exactly “Christian”, but it’s not really pagan either? So what is it? It comes across as a strange whispered echo of an echo from the aforementioned  European grimoires, that along the way has turned into a twisted sort of mutation, incorporating long forgotten memories hailing from the pre-Christian collective memory. Once more of the actual Icelandic grimoires get transcribed, translated and studied in greater detail, I hope that this transformation process will become much clearer, but as it stands as of today, it comes very much across as being neither completely of the heathen persuasion nor heavily infused by Christianity, and more like its own fusion of both. 

Midsummer Magic

What also is very intriguing, is to see what people’s fears were back then. There’s a lot of magic concerning the prevention of theft. Iceland was a relatively poor country way back in those days, so any kind of tools, like farm or fishing equipment, would be expensive, not to mention the value of cattle. The book generously grants us some data analysed from the six grimoires, and tells at that more than half of the 383 spells are benign in their intent. Nearly half of these again are strictly meant for protection in some way, and while some are for specific events or situations, most are intended to have a long lasting effect. There seems to be a lot of concern about some form of evil or harm of unspecified nature, and many of the wards are focused directly on protection against this. Especially talismans that are explicitly intended to avert effects of magical attacks features prominently.

Ad-Hoc-us-Pocus 

It is really interesting to see the variety of magical operations and procedures covered here. Some of the spells/staves and workings are extremely ad-hoc, using common household objects featuring simple and basic instruction, while others again are surprisingly precise, utilizing specialized tools and have detailed steps including timing, location, and ingredients. This certainly isn’t sorcery for any kind of elite or even clergy for that matter, yet it shows a huge variety of complexity and sophistication. However, we can assume that along with these texts and drawings/staves, there came an oral transmission, which sadly has been lost, so we are missing the bigger picture. Probably there was a set of common knowledge, passed on from teacher to student, and since paper and writing equipment was scarce and costly, they only wrote down the parts that they were afraid of forgetting. 

Pens, Pencils & Passion Staves

As this truly offers glimpse into authentic Icelandic Magick, in a bizarre anachronistic way, it almost becomes a genuine grimoire in and of itself. Christopher Alan Smith goes through the various practices, granting insight into all the steps required, and while it’s certainly presented in the correct historical context, we occasionally get some examples form the author on how he has used this himself, as well as suggestions on how one might go about trying out some of the staves in general. The being said, this most definitely is not a how-to or step-by-step manual, even if it is possible to piece together how to perform magic in this vain by this text alone. It will only take you so far though, but for some it could act as a great springboard.  

Future Development 

In Icelandic Magic, Christopher Alan Smith draws from 5 manuscripts previously translated into English, in addition to one that he has translated as well as translations of folk tales and legends. 

This book balances the line perfectly between being academic as well as entertaining, which is something we can never take for granted. Thankfully we get a decent index, which helps a lot in looking up specific references. What I would have loved though, was an appendix with all the statistics presented. However, until more grimoires are complied and translated, such a feature still might be a little limited. 

Pull my finger?

I think this is the perfect sourcebook for anyone interested in an accurate portrait of Icelandic magic, whether it’s to supplement your own personal praxis, or if you are interested in obtaining some trustworthy historical evidence and information about real witchcraft for whatever creative project you are working on.

Varnar Stafur by Jeeltcraft

This review was sponsored by Varda

MAGICKAL PROTECTION

Defend Against Curses, Gossip, Thieves, Demonic Forces, Violence, Threats and Psychic Attack by Damon Brand.

Take cover!

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.

Recipes for Protection

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.

StarT with the Master Protection Ritual

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.

Talisman (is that a name of a superhero?)

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.

Square off!

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.

In Conclusion

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.

They’ve got your back covered!

The Gallery of Magick

Protection & Reversal Magick

A Witch’s Defense Manual – by Jason Miller.

Talk to the hand!

This has been on my radar, and on my wishlist, for quite some time. I’ve been very curious to see if I’d find any of it useful. Besides, I needed a quick detour from all the angelical content I’ve been consuming as of late.

However, this isn’t completely devoid of angels (what book on protection would be?), but they are far from the mainstay of the text. This release takes a broad approach to protective measures and reversal operations in general, which in turn makes it likely that you’ll find something that aligns with your own personal praxis. A good thing, I think.

A paperback to keep in your backpack.

Now, before we go any further, I like to point out that I actually disagree with the author on how common actual magical attacks, or curses, are. I truly don’t believe they happen that often at all, and I’d be very wary of books telling you that you are an easy target, because, in a roundabout way, they are “magically attacking” you, the target audience, subliminally suggesting that you need to buy their product. Even dubious “psychics” or other kinds of magic workers with questionable ethics might convince you that you are either cursed or under a magical attack, just so that they can in turn charge you money to lift said curse or attack. Be skeptical.

It would take a very powerful mage to make a big dent in reality and cause your real harm. Most people that have reached that level of potency in their craft wouldn’t even dabble in such petty activities as that anyway. They have better things to do and aren’t concerned with imposing on other’s will or do anything to you without your consent. If you are feeling that something is off, or that someone is after you, there’s a much greater possibility that something else is going on. Which this book discusses in its first chapter.

Protection Recognition

With all the being said, there’s no doubt that some people will stoop very low, and try to get revenge or just wish bad luck upon you. We all know the type. Those fueled by jealousy and unresolved anger issues can sometimes project their own self-hatred onto you. Most of us will come in contact with them in one way or another throughout our lifetime. Even if this varies a lot cross-culturally, these attacks or curses might not even be intentional. Factor in the fact that you’re practicing magic and/or witchcraft, which attracts all sorts of astral entities and energies, and things can get weird. Fear not, this book has got you covered!

To fast forward a bit, and cut straight to the chase, what Mr. Miller advocates, is a regular practice of meditation, banishing rituals, and offerings. This aligns 100% with my own beliefs and experiences, and just for the information on this alone, I highly recommended this book as a starting place if you don’t already do these three things regularly. I’ll even go one step further and say that in most cases, all you really need is a daily meditation practice, as that will take care of most of the interference that comes in your way, on every level, from physical to the etheric and auric planes.

M.O.B. – Meditate, Offer, Banish.

While I certainly enjoyed reading this book and found plenty of helpful advice, I have a few issues. First and foremost, Dion Fortune’s influence is seemingly downplayed, and she was only mentioned once in Chapter 1 and in its belonging footnote in the Notes section. Dion Fortune’s book Psychic Self-Defense, albeit terribly outdated in parts (as well as Fortune being somewhat problematic as most, if not all, magicians of the past tend to be), is regarded by many as the go-to primary sourcebook for magical protection.

What’s also curiously missing is a dedicated bibliography, although we do get a decent list of suggested books for further study, as well as an index. The latter is always welcome, even if in this case it’s a little on the short side, and I found the two things I actually looked for in it, Angels, Dion Fortune, and Florida Water, was not included (but there were luckily room for me to pencil it in in my own accord, so problem solved).

Room for improvement.

Furthermore, although I understand that each case of attack or curse etc. is unique and requires countermeasures specifically tailored to accommodate it, I personally feel this could have benefited a little from being more specific in places. You’ll also find that a lot of the included material is heavy on the Hekate side. Even if in most instances this is used just as an example and a way of demonstrating how to put rituals in practice, the inclusion of deity-neutral alternatives would be a better option in my opinion. And I’m saying this as someone who does work with Hekate.

First released in 2006, most of the material holds up, but I think an updated and revised second edition would be awesome. All of my criticisms can be considered to be minor, yet many areas could be improved upon, perhaps making this one of the newer go-to books for protection and reversal magick.

All in all, a good manual to have at hand should you find yourself being the victim of a magical attack, or just want to your protection game, or. This book should prove to be a useful resource in times of need and will be a very handy book to have a future reference. I keep finding myself referring back to it a lot, looking things up, well after I finished reading it.

Lastly, a huge thanks to Laura for giving me this as a Christmas gift!

Angelarium Oracle Deck

The cards are on the table…

Angelarium: Oracle of Emanations

I had intended to post this mini-review a while ago, however, I managed to either delete or misplace my original notes (I’ve looked and looked but they’ve mysteriously disappeared, and I have no idea what happened…).

The good news is that because of this mishap I’ve had time to digest my thoughts about the deck itself. I feel like most people tend to be too quick to post reviews, walkthroughs, and “first impressions” of products anyway, and I’d like to at least once in a while go against that trend. To offer more nuanced thoughts.

I believe it’s doing both the community and the deck creators a disservice to not give something that’s intended to be used practically the proper attention it deserves. Experienced cartomancer will know how much the experience of working with a deck can change over time, and this doesn’t always seem to be accounted for. With that lengthy introduction, let’s get down to business (cards)!

Not Your Typical Angel Oracle

Ground Control to Major Arcana!

Angel oracle cards have a notoriously bad reputation for being very tacky and tasteless. Apart from a handful of notable angel-themed tarot decks, this certainly still seems to be the case. Thankfully, Angelarium truly is a much welcome exception. Here the angel archetypes get a much-needed aesthetic visual overhaul that actually does inspire reverence. These giant, almost alien, beings are simultaneously arcane and high-tech, as if existing outside of time and space.

Peter Mohrbacher captures the surrealism as well as mythic qualities of angelic visions perfectly with his skilled art style. Even if it leans heavily towards fantasy, these depictions do highlight the sense of “otherness” and even androgyny that we so rarely see illustrated when it comes to angels in the “mainstream” these days.

Strange Angels

Da’at boi – “I’m so exquisitely empty”

11 of the angel cards are easily identified and simply maps onto the spheres of the Tree of Life. Despite that, ever since I got my hands on this deck I have been puzzled by the other 22 angel cards and could not see how they fitted into the bigger picture. You’d think it would be obvious how they correspond to the 22 paths and consequently the Major Arcana. But in my knowledge, albeit limited as it may be, it didn’t make sense (and it still doesn’t). Sure, some of the angel names I recognized and were familiar with, yet others deluded me.

Although I tried my best to do some research, I came up short. That’s until I saw Foolish Fish’s video overview of the very same deck in question. There he points out some of the possible sources of the names of the Angels which you can view at your own leisure here:

https://youtu.be/et7fcynwq18

Spoiler alert: It’s Neon Genesis Evangelion!

I will add that I agree with his opinion that the attribution to these 22 cards feels very much like UPS or Unverified Personal Gnosis. This is perfectly fine in and of itself, but it’s not ok to not mention this anywhere, as it comes across as disingenuous. But since the guidebook tells us nothing about the sources or reasoning behind anything, it might as well be arbitrarily, which is even worse.

“One magical movement from Kether to Malkuth” — David Bowie (Station to Station)

Face Like an Angel

All that being said, I absolutely love and adore the artwork! And considering how cheap this box of cards is priced, then that almost makes it worth it just on its own. Because the art truly is top-notch and breathtakingly beautiful.

Even if I think it sort of misses the mark as a practical and working oracle deck, I still find a use for at least the 11 Sefirot cards, either as study tools, inspiration, or contemplative meditation. It might not be “my go-to” deck, but it’s a keeper nonetheless.

For those that aren’t as concerned with Kabbalistic associations and magical theory as me, and basically just want a cool deck to look at or supplement either their tarot reads or compliment an oracle deck collection, then this might be for you. And trust me, this is no tame and boring angel deck at all.

The included guidebook could have been improved by being fleshed out just a tad bit more, however, it’s translated into multiple languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German), which I actually think is a nice touch. This makes it even more accessible and useful for a broader audience, and perhaps it will help in restoring the coolness of angels where they belong!

Lastly a shout out to my good friend Carol for gifting me this deck! Thank you!

If you enjoy my reviews and work in general, and want to be an awesome supportive person, you can buy me coffee here or treat me with something off my Amazon wishlist. I’ll happily return the favor in form of a tarot read. And if you buy something off my list I’ll review it.

Odin isn’t Santa Claus

Odin certainly is associated with the old celebrations of “jul” in Old Norse culture, however, no evidence points to him being the precursor to Santa Claus. Dr. Jackson Crawford explains these misconceptions well in the video below:

Never too early to start busting these kinds of myths in my opinion. For anyone interesting in authentic nordic Paganism, I endorse all the material produced by Dr. Crawford. The most historically accurate information readily available that I know of.

Enochian Vision Magick

A Practical Guide to the Magick of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley by Lon Milo DuQuette.

Enochian on heavens door.

This was a surprisingly quick read for such a complex subject. As someone who’s quite familiar with DuQuette’s other writings, this perhaps shouldn’t have come as such a big surprise, since he’s very likely simultaneously both the clearest and most entertaining author of occult books… EVER!

However, at first glance, this book, with all its tables and diagrams and a page count of 304 pages, seems way longer and dryer than it actually is, which we will get into below.

Fear Enochian

Very content.

Before you get into the meat of the book you are treated with not just one, but two forewords, a preface and both a prologue to the prologue as well as a prologue! This all means that there is already a lot of material to go through ahead of its main content. Nonetheless I urge you not to skip any of it, as there’s plenty of gems in there and a considerable amount of good advice to be gleaned along the way. Hidden away inside here you’ll also find one very amusing alternative take on the purpose of Dee’s manuscripts, but I leave that little nugget for you to discover on your own.

After reading all the introductory texts, you really shouldn’t be too spooked by all their warnings, because from now on uncle Baba Lon will safely guide you through this system, putting all your concerns at rest.

Transmission Magick

Dr. John Dee – The First Enoch-a-naut.

John Dee was of course the original 007, a well known fact you likely posses already, as it’s almost certainly amongst the first things people will tell you about him. Followed closely by how he was an advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, which included duties as a spy as well as being a royal court astrologer (he choose her coronation date for instance). Oh, and we’re not going to go into the infamous wife-swapping incident instigated by the angels themselves, except to mention that all the involving parties had to sign a nondisclosure agreement.

Side note: When will someone dramatize these events and make it into TV series? It’s ripe with juicy details and hilarious happenings. This is an untapped gold mine!

I think it’s agreed upon that Dr. John Dee was conceivably one of the most, if not THE most learned man of his time, at a time where it might still be possible to know everything there was to know. He was the proud owner of the largest library in England, and undoubtedly was the perfect candidate to be the recipient of a multiplex magical system downloaded directly from an angelic source. A case definitely can made of him possible being the only person capable of making any sense what was picked up on and communicated to him by angelic entities via his scryer Edward Kelley (a dubious and unstable yet immensely psychically gifted individual).

Inside this paperback tome you get related all the important and significant circumstances of how those operations took place, with the added benefit of being presented with the actual information of which they got their hands on. All done in a remarkably understandable and entertaining manner.

Don’t Try to duplicate the Magick Dee and Kelley Did to Receive the System— Just Use the System They Received!

Lon Milo DuQuette

Although the above quoted maxim is a sound recommendation, the author does intentionally contradict himself, suggesting that, in a way, you should imitate at least some of the original circumstances and procedures used by Dr. Dee and Kelley. So to a certain extent, it can be said that this manual acts as a provisional self initiation into all things Enochiana.

The angelic alphabet.

Which brings us to a highly important point, which is that not all of Dee’s manuscripts have survived after his death, making it evident that we sadly don’t have access to the complete system. Still, that’s not to say that this release in and of itself isn’t complete, because it is, and you basically get all you need to start practicing, and more. It’s just necessary, in my humble opinion, to know that some of the data given here is reconstructed and of newer developments. Mostly based off of teachings from The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley, amongst others.

Furthermore, we can’t even know for sure that what’s in the available manuscripts even was the final version of Enochian! Especially considering that Dee’s diaries has ample evidence showing us that the angels relatively frequently updated and revised their previously delivered information and material. Sometimes even years later, with the last documented transmission entry leaving an extremely essential piece of the puzzle. I postulate that there’s a high probability of further experimentation and research done on later dates (presumably with other scryers) yielded profound revelations that unfortunately have been all but lost. Unless they mysteriously manifests one day. Stranger things have happened. Especially where Enochian magick is concerned… I’m just saying…

I also believe that it’s crucial to note that the dear doctor did indeed promise the angels “never to disclose these Mysteries”! We actually don’t even know where Dee’s final resting place is…

Enochiana Jones

Wicked Angels & Strange Angles.

This is magick for the Dungeons & Dragons geeks that love long exhausting lists, diagrams and tables chock full of rules. Enochian is a gloriously elegant and remarkably coherent system of vision magick. If you take pleasure in such beauty, then this surely is the book for you. And trust me, it’s way simpler than it looks on the surface.

All that being said, beware, several schools of thought exists, and there’s a ridiculous amount of disagreement on what is proper and not proper forms of conduct. There really is no consensus in this field. Be that as it may, you can do much worse than to start here, as as far as I’m concerned, this is possibly the best guidebook available for those that want to embark upon their own Enochian adventures. That is, if you are willing to put in the hours of preparation and assembly required to become a bonafide Enoch-a-naut. Which is no small feat mind you, but armed with the knowledge contained inside this book, you’ll be more than ready, and you’ll have all the instructions you need readily available at your fingertips.

Of particular use is the incredibly generous amount of appendices, the handy bibliography and thorough index (yay, index!).

End of Program

Go back to the future by reprogramming yourself utilizing this magical manual.

In closing I’d like to take a brief moment to discuss the changes made between the 2019 and 2008 editions of this title.

This book was first published in 2008, under the same name, but with one additional word in the subtitle (highlighted below in italics); a word which I’m curious as to why they decided to drop… It was as follows:

An Introduction and Practical Guide to the Magick of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley.

In my opinion, retaining the introduction part would make much more sense, as that is what the majority of the book actually is (the practical parts, albeit great, are not really given to us until almost the end).

Aside from that, the main difference between the two editions is the cover (the new one is so much cooler and tasteful), and that the 2019 release has a brand new foreword by Jason Louv, a new preface by the author himself and it includes a revised bibliography.

To be completely fair though, the only revision of the bibliography that I can spot is the addition of three books. I mean, that’s not a huge number of new content, and layout-wise, there’s room for at least one other book listed in said bibliography. So let me, completely free of charge, seize the opportunity to mention a couple of books worth investigating (that is not mentioned in the bibliography) if you are more interested in just doing the Magick, rather than understand all its history and theory:

Success Magick by Damon Brand and Liber Chornozom by A.D. Mercer.

Both of which I plan to review sometime further down the line.

Stay tuned.

Special Edition Saturn Cloth and Chapbook

such saturnfaction

Written by Meredith Graves with illustrations by Coleman Stevenson.

I had not planned on posting two reviews in a row, however I decided to strike while the iron (pun intended – see below) was hot and share my thoughts on these things.

“Saturn’s pretty cool, and that was one of the first ones that we discovered, that humans discovered, so there’s, like, a lot of cool ancient myths about it and stuff. “

Mandy (2018

Yeah, Saturn’s pretty cool, and so is this set; ie. both pretty and cool. I absolutely love the clean and minimalist design of the 16 page chapbook, titled An Abbreviated Discussion of Some Possibilities Towards A Theory of Saturn Symbolism and Its Practical Application. If you ask me, this is worth it just for that amazing title alone!  The whole presentation sort of reminds me of those old occult pamphlets that used to be popular in the early 1900s. Why aren’t these things back in style yet? Is it because blog posts like these, and the ease of posting stuff on social media or other creator curated platforms like Patreon for instance?

Anyway, I’m digressing, and stalling by writing filler sentences and paragraphs like this because I don’t want to spoil the content of the leaflet. It’s a quick read, but offers a lot of food (plants) for thought as well as some practical instructions of how to make sigils using Saturn’s planetary square.

all black everything

The cloth itself is made out of a very nice quality material, and my edition is the one printed using a special lead ink which shows up as a dark charcoal grey. Personally I think it lends an even more mystical quality to the already enigmatic Saturn. However, some might prefer the version printed in white for ease of readability. Depending on how you acquire it, due do packaging, some ironing is probably required.

The product listing mentions a number of uses for the cloth, like the fact that it can plainly/fashionably be worn (very useful at this time of writing), used as an altar cloth, a deck wrap, saturnine meditations or to simply use the square to draw your sigils. I’m sure you can come up with a whole host of other interesting uses, but I will leave you with this idea:

Make your own Saturn themed spread! Assign meaning to each of the nine images and use them as card positions.

  1. Symbol of Saturn
  2. Air
  3. Earth
  4. Number square
  5. Datura
  6. Foxglove
  7. Horsetail
  8. Rosemary
  9. Hellbore

I only have one question: Where or when can we get the unabbreviated version of the text? 

If your question is where to purchase this, then the answer is here:

https://www.etsy.com/no-en/listing/852268624/special-edition-saturn-cloth-and

The Enochian Magick of Dr. John Dee – A Review

The Enochian Magick of Dr. John Dee, with the gloriously pompous subtitle; The Most Powerful System of Magick in Its Original Unexpurgated Form. Edited and translated by Geoffrey James.

This is an oldie, but a goldie, as they say… or at least that’s what I say…

First released in 1984, then again as an updated version in 1994 by Llewelyn. It came to light at a time when there wasn’t that many books on this subject, at least not as far as I am aware (Fun fact: I was born the same year the introduction was written), and so in many ways it was then perhaps ahead of its time. If that’s the case, then supposedly it might have been a substantial influence on other authors books that came out in its wake. Now, I think it’s safe to say that a lot has happen throughout the years this niche field since its publication, yet I dare to say that this is still a rather interesting book, that also looks surprisingly well design-wise for its age and format (paperback – second printing 1998), with its pretty presentation being of particular note. I personally bought my copy right around the year 2000, and it’s held up quite nicely, and although it has gotten slightly yellowed pages over time, that just kind of adds to the charm and makes the experience so much richer and more immersive.

The yellow pages?

Here Dee’s Enochian magick is gathered together and put forth as a neat little grimoire, pulled from the good doctor’s own manuscripts. Complete with a sort of “pseudo history” to comply with the standard practice of ye olde arte of the grimoire tradition. All this makes for a very curious and compelling paperback artefact. It certainly has its unique glamour, and I’ve seen it described as the Key of Solomon of Enochian.

I think just the preface itself is worth reading for it’s sober take on wether or not this system was a complete fabrication of Edward Kelley. Then in closing we are also kindly blessed with a great set of appendices, which serves as the icing on this tasty delicious angelic cake of a book.

Grim dark grimoire noir.

However, it’s not without its flaws.

It’s been criticized for not being written by a practitioner, but that shouldn’t be such a big deal, since it’s merely mostly a presentation of the original source material. Although, I’m not even sure if it’s valid criticism, since the author doesn’t say he’s NOT practising this form of magick in the preface. Furthermore, some of the Latin translations are said to be less than favorable, but does anyone even know of any good translations of Dee’s Latin passages in his diaries? If so, please let me know.

Rereleased as The Enochian Evocations of Dr. John Dee. Out of print it in physical formats, but still obtainable digitally if you are so inclined.