Saturday, December 7, 2013

Goetia Workbook by S. Connolly (book review)

One of the customs that most working magicians have been taught is the keeping of a magical journal, a record of one's magical experiments and experience. The custom goes back to Dee and Kelley--or at least, that is the point in history that the custom seems to originate from.
Most of us, including myself, just buy a blank composition book or a blank journal and proceed from there. A few suggestions on what to record have been published over the years. In my case, I was using a template that Donald Michael Kraig published in his Modern Magick book for a long time. (My template has moved away from his example, and now looks more like Dee's and Crowley's style than it does Kraig's example.)
Parts of the magical journals of Dee and Crowley have been published. In the case of Dee, there are large sections that are missing because Dee destroyed a lot of his journals to keep them out of the wrong hands (fortunately, some of the sections that he attempted to destroy survived, including a large hunk of the Enochian sessions). I have watched a couple of other working magicians destroy parts of their own magical journals; and over the years, some of my own records have been lost in various moves from residence to residence (it is what happens you do not move everything personally all by yourself).
Given the examples available to us and the cheap option of blank journal books, I never thought that I would ever give a shout-out to any blank magical journal--even a pre-formatted one, considering that the only viable publishing option is the print-on-demand route. (While a traditional publisher could print a pre-formatted blank magical journal cheaper, the truth is that a large part of the print-run would just sit in a warehouse, due to the extremely low demand for such an item...seriously, are there more than a thousand working magicians in the world at any given time?)
The Goetia Workbook by S. Connolly is a pre-formatted blank magical journal for those magicians working their way though the contact process with the Four Kings and the seventy-two Goetic Demons (or Daemons as Connolly prefers to call them--yes, they are a demonolator [daemonolator], one of those magicians who view the traditional spirits contained in the grimoires more as helper spirits than evil gone amok).
The pre-format is nice, simply for making sure that you remember to include all the important bits in your notes. And I like the fact that it has pages for each of the Four Kings and the seventy-two Goetic spirits (yes, I prefer the term "spirits"...which makes me a ?!?!). There is a space provided for any additional sigils that the spirit gives the magician, and a space to note if blood was offered (I personally use milk mixed with certain herbs as a substitute), et cetera. There is also a brief description of the powers and precautions for each spirit--my favorite being "Sitri is a lust demon and causes men and women to be passionate and get naked around one another."
But let's be honest the pre-formatting alone is not enough to justify a shout-out, so why am I suggesting that a working magician might want to consider shelling out money for something that they could do cheaper? The simple fact that you can get it as a paperback from Amazon and a hardcover from Lulu--the latter being what I would prefer. And why would that be important?
Quite simply because it has been my experience that the most important and significant encounter that one has with any given spirit is the initial contact. The basis of your entire relationship with a spirit can often be determined (typically with a lot of hindsight) from that first initial working. Therefore, with something like a run though the seventy-two Goetic spirits, one wants to make sure that the record of your working is going to be as permanent as you can get it.  
Yes, this shout-out is based simply upon the fact that I think that a working magician needs to ensure that their notes with certain operations, such as the initial contact with the Goetia, is set in as permanent form as one can accomplish. Did you really expect more from me? After all, I am a blogger who uses other people's work as an excuse to talk about things that I consider important (if you did not catch what this review is really about, re-read it again looking for the sole sentence that the entry is built around).
[This review is based on a preview file that the author lent to me.]

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