Friday, December 5, 2008

Review: Advanced Enochian Magick by Frater W.I.T.

Years ago Gerald Schueler wrote a book for Llewellyn entitled An Advanced Guide to Enochian Magick as a followup to his first book, Enochian Magic. Schueler was one of the early authors to try and put together a set of books that would allow beginners to start practicing the Enochian magical system, but his work suffered from a number of significant flaws. The "Advanced" book consisted mostly of a recounting of Aleister Crowley's The Vision and the Voice along with Schueler's largely Theosophical interpretations of each aethyr vision. The book included some more complex rituals in the back which, I have to say, for the most part did not work. And yes, I started out working with Schueler's books, so I did try them out. Now Frater W.I.T., author of Enochian Initiation, has published a new similarly-titled book that is a real improvement over Schuler's failed effort. Entitled Advanced Enochian Magick, it is now available from Outskirts Press.

I wound up really enjoying the book, but there are a couple of things that put me off at first glance. The book is subtitled "A Manual of Theory, Training, and Practice for the Novice and the Adept." My first question was why an "advanced" book would include "novice" level material. It seems like a bit of a contradiction, though I've seen this sort of thing before, like with Jason Newcomb's introduction to the Goetia subtitled "A Simple Advanced Key." If it's simple, what's advanced about it? Furthermore, as I read through the early chapters of the book it pretty much felt like everything I was reading was material that I'd seen before - basic Golden Dawn rituals, Timothy Leary's eight-circuit model, the Qabalah, and so forth. But basically what is going on here is that W.I.T. is laying out the magical language that is necessary to understand the more complex rituals later in the book. If you already know this material, you can skip ahead.

The most valuable material in the early chapters is the set of recommended practices for both beginning and more advanced magical practitioners. It is not really new material, but I've seen few books that outline the practices so concisely or make it as clear that there really is quite a bit of work involved in being a magician. It's not a discipline where you can read a few books and then go around proclaiming yourself an expert without ever casting a spell or maintaining a daily ritual practice, which I've seen all too many people do. While I recommend a slightly different sequence of rituals based on my operant field model, the practices outlined by W.I.T. will work fine - and actually doing them will put you head and shoulders above about 90% of the people out there who claim to be magicians but in fact do little to no work.

It should be kept in mind that this is not a "novice" level book, despite the subtitle. The "novice"-level material is laid out with basic instructions, but there is little of the hand-holding that you tend to find in real beginner books. For example, you won't find a whole chapter dedicated to answering the question "Is practicing magick evil?" If you know nothing about magick and are picking this up as your first book you are likely to come away a little confused. You should probably read a few introductory books before you pick this one up if you're just starting out, but for people who are already practitioners looking to learn the Enochian system these straightforward explanations are nice. Given this, I think that W.I.T. oversells the potential power of magick in a way that is unnecessary for its target audience, people who are already practicing magick and understand its usefulness, though I do like seeing an author who doesn't shy away from advocating objective paranormal results.

It is the second half of the book that really shines, once it has covered all the background material and gets into the substance of the Enochian ceremonies. Here we find more material along the lines of the material covered in Enochian Initiation, a complex set of rituals accompanied by accounts of magical results. If every magician did this with the ceremonies he or she performs and published the results we would be well on our way to establishing a knowledge base for magick that is similar to what we find in the physical sciences, and in my opinion establishing such a knowledge base should be the goal of every magician. Secrecy about techniques and results helps no one, and does nothing to make the magick itself more powerful or relevant or meaningful.

Frater W.I.T. approaches Enochian magick from the Golden Dawn perspective as far as attributions and techniques go, much as Aleister Crowley did. I am not going to offer a line-by-line analysis of the rituals in the book simply because in my own Enochian practice I've eliminated many of the Golden Dawn elements and am more of a Dee purist, though I also use attributions from Crowley's The Vision and the Voice and incorporate Thelemic rather than Christian symbolism. I use the 1587 reformed Tablet for my model of the Watchtowers which attributes EDLPRNAA and RAAGIOSL to different directions, I don't use the truncated pyramids for the squares, use a different order for the Angelic Keys, and so forth. That being said, as far as I can tell the rituals follow the Golden Dawn model well and I do know a number of magicians who claim to get really good results with that system. Some of his ideas, such as evoking multiple angels at once, are actually more in keeping with the original Dee system, and as that's the way I usually work Enochian magick I can vouch for it as a very effective practical technique.

The self-initiation ceremony in the book's final chapter is a particularly interesting and powerful piece of magical work. A version of it was published in Enochian Initiation, but this new version includes some additional symbolism and I find it hard to believe that anyone could work through it without getting some sort of tangible result - at least if they've done the work leading up to it. Initiation ceremonies are one of the aspects of the Enochian system that appears to be missing when you work through the diaries and other source documents, and this ceremony or something very similar to it seems like a good way to fill that gap. I've heard of the occasional "Enochian Order" offering some manner of initiation, but as far as I know no groups of this sort have managed to last more than a few years or accumulate more than a handful of members. The Enochian system may just not be suited to such a group structure for some reason.

For magicians working with the Golden Dawn/Thelemic Enochian system (that is, probably most Enochian magicians these days) this is a good book to pick up, especially for the later chapters which show how to put together and perform large and complete Enochian rituals. Such rituals are rarely published anywhere and they serve as good examples for serious and involved practice of the Enochian system. Furthermore, working with multiple angels has proved to be very powerful in my own magical work and this is a technique that is not addressed or usually even mentioned in the books that I've seen on the Golden Dawn Enochian system. As with Enochian Initiation, I wish more magicians would publish this sort of material so that all of us could collaborate more effectively, and I congratulate Frater W.I.T. for his efforts along these lines.

Want to buy your own copy of Advanced Enochian Magick by Frater W.I.T.? Order from my Books and Media page and you can help support Augoeides.

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4 comments:

Knight of Pan said...

Is your operant field book any closer to getting published?

Ananael Qaa said...

Hard to say. Red Wheel/Weiser turned it down and now it's under consideration by a second publisher.

el oso said...

Ananael Qaa...
Read Frater W.I.T.s first book. Ordered his new one after reading your review. thanks
If you are familiar with Donald Tyson's directional order of the Tablets would love to hear from you in that regard (from his book Tetragrammaton & Intro to Enochian...). Also, what are your thoughts on Vincent Bridges as found in his Complete Enochian Handbook found at : http://library.syncleus.com/OldEnochian/enochian%20handbook%20by%20Vincent%20Bridges%20(graphics).htm

all the best

B R Mcewen
bmcewen@dotoloresearch.com

Ananael Qaa said...

If you are familiar with Donald Tyson's directional order of the Tablets would love to hear from you in that regard (from his book Tetragrammaton & Intro to Enochian...).

I'm quite familiar with it - I spent a year trying to make it work because it seemed logical, but unfortunately it just doesn't. Both the GD and Tabula Recensa do work, Recensa being the best according to the testing that I did on the various arrangements. So that's what I use.

As far as Bridges goes, I haven't really worked with most of his models and his explanations and expositions strike me as extremely speculative. His arrangement of the elements on the Great Table uses the modern microcosmic colors and directions rather than those specified by the angels, so right there that kind of undermines his work from a Dee purist perspective. The thing is, without extensive testing it's hard to say - I'm of the opinion that if something works it works, and I would hope that Bridges would have tried his stuff out before publishing it.