This book isn’t so much a guide to ritual magick, but a guide towards building your own workable system of ritual magick. Those who pursue these Arts need to have it work well for them and not every system in every book will do that. Most of the time we end up picking and choosing what we like anyway. Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick doesn’t make you do that. Instead, it puts forth the tools for you to do it for yourself, sort of like giving you the bones and allowing you to flesh out the rest.
Not only that, its one of the few ritual books out there which attempts to bridge the gap between Wicca and Ceremonial Magick. I found enough pagan and Wiccan elements to make bits of it applicable to my own workings, especially the explorations of the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water and their associated tools of the Patten (or Dish), the Wand (Staff), the Blade, and the Cup (Chalice).
There are chapters about using breath techniques, trance, gestures and body positions, visualization techniques, and creating a magickal personality–something that Dion Fortune also talked about in her writings. Despite that, this is not a “how-to” book, even though it does have some exercises, as it addresses the why’s and wherefor’s and underlying occult structures rather than giving you a series of guided meditations and the like. It pre-supposes that you already know your way around the world of spirits and magick and are now looking to build upon and deepen your own practice.
The second part of the book deals with a hero’s journey (akin to that which my own hero, Joseph Campbell, talks about) and how it relates to the Tarot and the Tree of Life. I’m not a big Tarot expert so I can’t speak to that, though I found the concept intriguing all the same.
I don’t agree with everything in the book, but that’s part of the point. It gets you thinking about what you do believe and how that fits into your magickal worldview and so your goals and workings. This is, apparently, the first work in a trilogy and I look forward to seeing the rest.
© 2009, Veronica Cummer, author of Sorgitzak and Masks of the Muse.