Thursday 25 May 2023

Books: The Aleister Crowley Manual: Thelemic Magick

I absolutely love this cover: bright scarlet, big picture of Baphomet and the words The Aleister Crowley Manual in big letters. The book does what it says on the cover too - it's a no-nonsense workbook teaching Thelemic magic in straightforward and relatively easy to follow steps. I say relatively easy to follow, because mastering Thelemic magick takes a lot of time and effort, as author Marco Visconti states very clearly. At least, I believe him when he says that as I wouldn't in any way claim that I've mastered it myself. In fact, I've barely begun. 

Each chapter details things to learn and to do in regular practice over the course of a month (or more), so it would take a good year at least to work through the entire thing. I've only done the practical work in the first chapter, but I didn't think Marco would want me to wait until I'd completed it to write a review, and I have read the book from cover to cover, so here goes: 
"This is a brilliant book. If you're interested in learning how to do Thelemic magick, go out and buy a copy."
OK, that's a bit too short and sweet, isn't it. But I really did like it. It's well-written with plenty of diagrams to make quite complex rituals look easier than they are. The exercises build up gradually. The very early ones are largely memorising things you'll need to know by heart later on, as well as guided visualisations using the Thoth tarot. I was pleasantly suprised to learn Thelemic magick is quite heavily based in Qabala, which I have a basic knowledge of. I'd say that kind of prior experience is useful. The book also touches on Western esotericism and hermiticism. 

Interestingly, The Aleister Crowley Manual doesn't go too heavily into the theory behind Thelema until near the end. The idea behind this is that it's best to do the exercises to see how they work and what insights you gain through repeated practice. Once you've seen for yourself what can be achieved by regular rituals, the rest of it will supposedly make more sense. Basically, if you think of the well-known Crowley quote about doing what you will, then it seems appropriate that an experiential approach is more helpful in learning to understand your place in the universe and what you actually want than someone putting you in your place and telling you what Crowley said you ought to want.

But yes, it's a brilliant book. Even if you don't want to learn how to do Thelemic magick, buy a copy and carry it around with you just to show off its eye-catching cover. I know I have...

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