Tag Archives: book review

Godforms of the Golden Dawn review

Pat Zalewski’s books on the Golden Dawn are always worth getting and reading.  Lately, he has not written that many, preferring to focus on this correspondence course, so his new one is a rarity.  I was going to write a review of it, and Pat asked me to “let him have it” so here goes.

Godforms of the Golden Dawn tradition is very much a Pat Zalewski book with similarities to his classic Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries.  When I read Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries (in the 90s)  his descriptions of the use of Godforms provided me with a link between the inner work which I was doing and the Golden Dawn.

This book looks at Zalewski’s approach to Godforms which are mostly based on the holographic theory and Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic fields.  That approach has a lot to offer, and Pat clearly explains them in the context of Godforms.

Like most Zalewski books Godforms of the Golden Dawn does not have to be taken in its entirety. There are stand-alone packages of information which unlock chunks of Golden Dawn information.  For example, Pat’s explanation of the godforms of the Enochian Chess pieces in the GD ritual is well worth it.

Pat also provides some of the Godforms of the elemental grades as used in Whare Ra with original pictures provided to him by Tony Fuller.  Dion Fortune said that illustrations like this were often the real hidden teaching behind a magic order and were often the key to connecting to the original order.  Certainly, there are rather a lot of Golden Dawn orders which do not use these godforms and yet claim to be linked to the Stella Matutina or Whare Ra.

Zalewski does not like the more modern approach of officers adopting individual godforms and prefers that the Hierophant generates all of them. He says that this is because the hierophant needs to be in control of the ritual.  I do a half-way house with the godforms being created by the officers but ensouled by the Hierophant who links them into the ritual’s network and contacts. This takes a lot of the pressure off the Hierophant without losing much in the way of control.

One thing I would have liked the book to contain was more ritual use outside the grade rituals and perhaps some proper techniques for ordinary rituals.  The book is quite short and could easily have been expanded in this direction.

My one problem with the book is the excessive number of introductions.  There is an excellent introduction from Tony Fuller which explains the work of Pat, and he did research the Whare Ra and Golden Dawn godforms.  However, there then follows two largely pointless introductions from the publisher Lenny Pedersen and Martin Thibeault which did not need to be there and said very little. When you have a book which is only 143 pages long wasting 14 pages before getting to the subject is a little annoying and did not need to be there.

Pat and Tony Fuller have some more books which are coming out using this publisher which, like this book, will be a welcome addition to the evolving corpus of Golden Dawn material. You can get your hands on Pat’s book here.

Book Review Communing with the Spirits

4150jvkr4jl-_sx322_bo1204203200_One of the big advantages of print-on-demand is that it opens up the field to practical magicians who are writing on subjects which are too daring for the commercial publishers, like working with spirits.

Martin Coleman’s Communing with the Spirits: The Magical Practice of Necromancy is a book written by a bloke who has a system and it works for him.  It comes with all the useful advice you need to work his system and gives some interesting insights into the whole business of working with the dead.

I want to make this clear that this is not a field of interest for me. When I work with the dead and ancestor’s it is an adjunct to my other work.  But it is fair to say that if I were going to specialise in necromantic work then I would take a similar approach.

Coleman starts the student working by invoking their ancestors and creating an altar. Then he moves onto a spirit of divination and then finally dead spirit. He warns you of the minimum time you are supposed to take on each stage and the challenges you are supposed to give each spirt to be sure that they are working correctly.

If Coleman is telling the truth his spirits are extremely effective and able to predict lottery numbers (amongst other skills).

If you were to follow a necromantic path this book has much to recommend it, however there are a few things that I didn’t like which need to be mentioned. The first thing is that there is an over whelming feeling of anti-intellectualism in the book.  Coleman warns you that anything dead which tries to teach you any great occult philosophy is almost certainly a “trickster” spirit.

While there is some truth in this, and lots of people are suckered by spirits who spout bullshit, it is not true of all spirits. It would seem a pity if you summon the spirit of Agrippa into your flat to ask him to act as your debt collector (which is one of the exercises in this book).  Coleman believes that you get physical instruction from a physical teacher while spirits get taught by spiritual teachers. I am not sure that is true. I know some people which get some good occult instruction from dead people… ok sometimes it has to be received with a pinch of salt but it is ok.  I think the question here is quality and provability rather than a blanket ban.

Speaking of salt, Coleman has some very practical advice which also should not work. He is particularly worried about salt which he says dead spirits cannot go near. He suggests that it is important to put a grain of salt in your food so that the spirits don’t think it is an offering. But that is only in some traditions. The Roman spirits used to get rather a lot of salt as all offerings were sprinkled with the stuff. It did not seem to do them any harm at all, and some of the intact ancestor’s shrines in Rome still have their dead spirits attached to them.

But what I think, irked me the most about this book was the lack of a philosophy behind it.  There were little explanations about what these spirits are and how they are like that. Coleman treats them in a similar way to the way people treat dogs.  You train them with food and if they don’t do what they are told you abandon them on a street corner. This might be the necromancer way, but it cannot really work like that. Even if you accept the spirits are “shells” of the dead, they are still human. If someone asked you, look I want you to do this for me and I will give you a small portion of cold rice (without salt) you would tell them to go forth and multiply. Coleman sees them, at best, as children which is a little sad.  If the afterlife is basically dead people squabbling over food they can’t actually eat, then the universe has got rather silly.

That said there is some very good advice about working with spirits which does not just apply to dead people and in some cases Coleman’s pragmatism is very useful.

For a number of reasons this makes this book important if you are working with any spirits.  His observation on thought-forms gave me a useful insight how spirits work.  Just be aware that it might be better at some points to come up with your own solutions.

 

·  Paperback: 192 pages

·  Publisher: Xlibris; 2 edition (March 10, 2005)

·  Language: English

·  ISBN-10: 1413484379

·  ISBN-13: 978-1413484373

·  Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches

Review: Ephesia Grammata

Diana_Versailles_LouvreReview: Ephesia Grammata: Ancient History and Modern Practice is a little book by P Sufenas Virius Lupis which is printed by The Red Lotus Library.

It is a little book (115 small pages) which covers the use of one of the more ancient magical spells which has survived to ancient times. For those who have never heard of it, the Ephesia Grammata spell is Ancient Greek “Aski, Kataski, Lix, Tetrax, Damnameneus, Aision.” The meaning of the words  had been forgotten by Ancient times.  Many commentators are a little too keen on leaning on Clement of Alexandria’s interpretation as being fact. Clement believed that the Ephesia Grammata meant shadow, shadowy, earth, seasons, sun and word. He thought they were the basis of an ancient belief pattern. But to do this Clement ignored the fact that Damnameneus was a Dactyl, or a God of the Storms.

In fact this was my first concern when reading this book, however Lupis does refer to a large number of ancient texts and comes to a conclusion which was more or less along Clement’s lines but with some interesting reasoning.

Ephesia’s Shadows

Following Lupis you end up catching a glimpse of something really important within the Ephesia Grammata which has been lost to neo-paganism. There is an edge to the spell which stimulates thoughts and beliefs in Hekate and Diana that reside in the back of the mind.

He suggests practical uses for the Ephesia Grammata, even a basic form of oracle using them and how different gods respond to the letters. If you are looking at pagan sub-lunar magic this is certainly a book which you need.

That said I wish there had been more of it. The author has clearly been working on the Grammata for some time (and has carried out workshops at Pagan Con). I felt he had much more to say about the philosophy and practical aspects of the Ephesia Grammata but didn’t. The book has shedloads of footnotes which can help you build up a good body of reference work on the system.