Author: Kraig, Donald Michael
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Year Published: 1988
With Modern Magick, Kraig has put together a great introduction to ceremonial magick that combines equal amounts of theory with practical exercises to help aspiring magicians start practicing.
The book is broken into eleven lessons, each with several parts. Each lesson provides some background information on a particular topic, including kabbalah, understanding elemental magick, creating talismans and amulets, and how to evoke Goetic spirits. Each lesson is accompanied by plenty of homework – the practical stuff – to complete before moving on to the next lesson.
Kraig assumes you are reading this to practice ceremonial magick so he expects you to do the rituals, not just read about them. As the book progresses, he builds on previous lessons. By the time you work your way up to evoking Goetic spirits, you’ve already mastered the basics and have prepared yourself mentally.
Lesson 1 starts off with the basics – what is magick? His definition is
Magick is the science and art of causing change (in consciousness) to occur in conformity with will, using means not currently understood by Western science… magick is not supernatural.
From there, he goes on to explain white, black, and grey magick. In the practical application, he concentrates on tarot meditation, explains some of the tools ceremonial magicians use (wand, cup, altar, robe), and describes the banishing pentagram.
Lesson 2 starts you off with the basics to do the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP), something you will become very familiar with if you chose to practice ceremonial magick. It then goes on to explain ‘psychic attacks,’ which seem to be a common concern for newbies, and finally gives readers a crash course in kabbalah (as the modern occult practices it. There is a big difference between occult kabbalah and Jewish and/or Christian kabbalah of the Renaissance). Kraig closes out this chapter with a description of the next major ritual you’ll need to use, the Ritual of the Middle Pillar.
Lessons 3-6 focus on the elemental archetypes, with rituals to familiarize you with earth, air, water, and fire while lessons 7-8 discusses the differences between talismans and amulets, how to create your symbols, and how to charge them according to planet, day of week, and time of day.
Lesson 9 talks about evoking spirits into the astral plane using the ritual from the Goetia, how to create your black mirror, the differences between invocation and evocation, and cautions readers about some of the dangers of this type of magick. If you have any interest in Goetic ‘summoning,’ you should read this chapter!
Lesson 10 goes into sex magick, while lesson 11 finishes up with a discussion of having a positive attitude, behaving responsibly, moving beyond the teachings of this book.
Each chapter concludes with review questions to make sure you’ve picked up the essentials of the chapter. The answers are provided in the appendix so you can easily check yourself. Finally, there’s an FAQ of common questions Kraig has received from aspiring magicians where he clarifies some of the books’ contents.
If you’re looking for a pure Golden Dawn source book, this isn’t it. Though Kraig loosely follows their initiate process, he does deviate from their teachings somewhat. But then, it’s not like the Golden Dawn didn’t deviate from those that came before, so if you’re concerned with ‘accuracy,’ you’ll have to go back to Cornelius Agrippa and John Dee’s writings. (If you’re concerned with purist Golden Dawn stuff, you’ll be reading a lot of Israel Regardie and Aleister Crowley.)
Magick is very personal, so as you continue your studies, you’ll take bits and pieces from everything you read and learn and apply them to your own working system. One book cannot possibly teach you everything you need to know. Still, Kraig covers a lot of material in this book and I highly recommend it those interested in learning the foundations of ceremonial magick. This is a cohesive and quite readable introduction that any newbie will find valuable.