A previous version of this post appeared on my Patreon.
Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts by Donald Michael Kraig.
What’s most fun is that I read this book years ago, after having practiced witchcraft for a while but before getting into Faery, and again recently. The main reason I bought it in the first place was because a student asked me about the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and I had to say I’d never done it, so…I more or less picked up the first book I found that had it in it. This would have been early 2002.
Funny story: I was Anti Angel then. I had spent a little too much time being the sole Pagan among a bunch of New Agers who were all about the light. And angels. They were very into angels, and also very tiresome. Plus, I thought, angels were way too Judeo-Christian for me and also far too patriarchal. Who needed angels? Not me. Pfft.
The LBRP, you may have heard, involves invoking the Archangels. And I was not into angels, but that’s how you do it and I am a Capricorn. I didn’t expect much, but I was going to do the thing the Right Way…
AND SUDDENLY THERE ARE ARCHANGELS ALL UP IN MY LIVING ROOM. I mean…when you invoke Somebody, and they very definitely show up? Like that.
THEM: “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN???”
And that’s how I started working with angels. Mostly Michael. But the book itself, which I read through, I didn’t really pick up much after that. I can’t remember what I didn’t like about it; I have a vague impression that I found it boring and pompous.
I now have a more nuanced, mature assessment. Which is that it’s lively and not at all pedantic if you’ve read Regardie and those guys first, but otherwise…yeah. I don’t agree with his statements about black magic, white magic, and grey magic AT ALL, which should shock no one. (I may devote an entire post to that). I get why he describes making the tools, etc the way he does (to keep it accessible) but I still find it a little hokey. There’s less philosophy, theology, and intellectual depth than I would prefer. The exercises worked for me, though I don’t know how some of them would work for a less experienced person. I really liked the suggestions for a magical journal…to record the phase of the moon (I added what sign the moon was in and sometimes my personal transits), the weather, the location and other circumstances, and how you felt….and kind of wished I had picked up on that the first time I read the book.
I honestly haven’t worked all the way through the book yet, because I don’t want to make magical tools and abandon them and I still feel this stuff, at least done precisely this way, isn’t really for me. Or else I want to know more about it in context before I follow his directions. I did come up with a magical name in the form of a Latin motto, because of course I did. It has two literary allusions and a pun. In Latin. Because this is who you are dealing with. I decided to move on to other books in my to-read list and come back to this one later.
Update: Some members of my Introduction to Witchcraft class have decided they want to work their way through this book, so I may be revisiting it again in the near future. Taking my public classes at Phoenix and Dragon is a good way to get hooked up for this sort of thing. I have So Many Books that I could do this kind of walk-through with.