Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Shem Grimoire by Nick Farrell

Table of contents page from the Shem Grimoire.
The first thing that a reader needs to know about this book is that this book is not for beginners. This is not a history of the Shem ha-Mephorash and the evolution of its associated angels, nor is it heavy on theory and philosophy. No, this is a grimoire with just enough history and theory to orient a Zelator Adept Minor (Z.A.M.) before turning them loose on actual working with the Shem Angels.

The second thing that a reader needs to know about this book is that it is meant to be used. One of its center pieces is a ritual to actually get in contact with a Shem angel (one of the 72 angels created from the so-called 72 lettered name of God...which actually has 216 letters in it, but who is counting?). There is also an interesting Middle Pillar ritual, complete with head movements inspired by Abraham Abulafia (a mystic of the Kabbalah bent).

(I might write a blog entry about the rituals contained in this book after I work with them for awhile. Or maybe is always hard to tell with me.)

Having worked with some of the Shem angels previously (using a combination of techniques grabbed from Golden Dawn, the Franz Bardon school, and ancient paganism), I mainly focused on the listings for the angels--the place I start with most books that list the uses and powers of spirits that I have previously worked with...because if they get that section wrong, then I have to wonder about the accurancy of the rest of the material.

Based on Nick Farrell's descriptions of the Shem angels, I am confident that he has actually worked with them. While there are minor differences in the functions of the angels as Farrell describes them compared to my own experiences, the differences are so insignificant that one can see that they are based on differences in perception of the operators involved, and not ignorance.

But one does not have to have extended working experience to double-check the general function of the angels. One of the things that I learned while working with the Bardon system was that the angels ruling the important positions of one's birth chart has a certain amount of influence over the individual. If one sits down with their birth chart and look at the position of their rising sign and their planets, one can often see how those planets and sensitive points of one's birth chart is colored by the influence of the angels that rule those astrological degrees. (This is a point that Farrell also mentions in his book--he suggests what order one might want to work with the angesl ruling one's birth chart.)

(Important note--remember to round up when doing this. For instance, Leo 20 degrees, 33 minutes is actually the 21st degree of Leo, not the 20th.)

Take for instance, the position of Mercury in my own birth chart, Leo 20 degrees, 33 minutes. This places my Mercury, the planet of communication and writing, in the section of the zodiac ruled by the Shem angel Meheshiiah (Mem-Heh-Shin-Yod-Heh). Given that I am one of the less evolved types, the influence of this angel tends to be more dubious and negative than positive. One of the things that Farrell says about Meheshiiah is, "There is little in the way of conciliation about him and Meheshiiah is unhappy to make a peace which does not involve total capitulation." Many people who have dealt with me will nod knowingly at this point, because I will not accept partial peace offerings, preferring to remain at war with people instead--a trait that often shows up in my writing.

I am giving this book five out of five stars.

The Shem Grimoire is limited to two hundred hard-cover copies, and is available from Lulu. 

[Disclosure: This review is based on a pre-proof stage file copy given to me by the author for review purposes.]

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What My Hierophant Should Have Taught Me (Nick Farrell)

One of my favorite sayings is "If you want to understand the behavior of Secret Chiefs and their human representatives, think of the Secret Chiefs as being cats." Many people think that I am merely making a joke--I am not. It is a statement that I make in all seriousness. I don't think that a lot of people get my point. But if anyone gets my point (and the real useful advice that goes along with my statement), I suspect that Nick Farrell is one of them.

Recently Nick Farrell wrote a limited edition book called "What My Hierophant Should Have Taught Me." It consists of a series of aphorisms applicable to the occult path, along with a commentary for each one. Some of the aphorisms are:

*Magic is not a religion
*You crave power
*Understanding symbols is a key to understanding the universe

and my personal favorite:

*When things go wrong, do not panic

(which I tend to lump in with my own personal aphorism--When working with Sister Amy, have a fire extinguisher ready...honestly, do not let her near any open flames.)

This book is filled with useful advice, some of which I wish I would have learned sooner than I actually did. For the most part, I agree with the advice given in this book. There are a couple of things that I am going to have to experiment with (or pay more attention to) before I make a judgment on--mainly technical advice on working magic.

I imagine that a lot of people are going to judge this book harshly. Some of the advice is about the warning signs that a group (or a group leader) is not on the up and up. It has been my experience that such dubious people turn nasty when they believe that someone is talking about them in a negative light; after all, someone might actually listen and not pay them the dues or accolades that they so richly deserve.

Farrell also mentions advice about how groups react when someone leaves a group (either willingly or not)--this advice falls under the category of "Gee, I wish someone would have warned me about that sooner."

Overall, this is a very useful book--one that I wish I had much earlier in my occult and esoteric career. I give it five out of five stars.

What My Hierophant Should Have Taught Me (limited to just a hundred copies) is still available on Lulu.

[Disclosure: This review is based on an electronic file version provided by the author for review purposes.]