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HomeReviews Before You Cast A Spell


Before You Cast A Spell

Erin

by Carl McColman
New Page Books, 2004 $13.99 US
ISBN 1-56414-716-9

Review by Daven

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

What can I say about a book on magic that has no spells in it, no rituals, no guided meditations and no instructions on how to cast magic on the cheerleader so she has warts?

I can say “Well done”. I can say “Bravo!” I can say a heck of a lot.

Carl takes the position of “teach a man to fish” rather than taking the safe course of “give a man a fish” that most current spell books take. It is not the recipe of the spell that you need to know, but all the discipline and knowledge behind the spells.

Many magical-training courses seem to take the fish giving stance; the Masons, the Rosicrucian and Wiccan covens for some examples. This book is what every book of spells in current publication attempts to do, but can’t given their space limitations. Instead, the current crop of spellbooks take the attitude of giving the reader what will sell and become, in effect, fishmongers. This book, by cutting out all the “recipes”, is able to deliver instruction that every student of the occult must have.

Those that hate the “k” on magic will be pleased, as Carl does not follow standard practice.

I could write a hymn of praise for this book, but there are actually some things that are problematic. My major concern with this book like many others of this type, is the author’s confusion of Witchcraft and magic with Wicca. Yes, there is the (by now) standard injunction that the Rede and the Threefold law apply to all magic. The author even states it applies even if you don’t believe in it. I am heartily tired of seeing this particular statement.

If one can ignore that, this is an excellent book. I like the chapter bursting the common myths of magic, like “magic will make you happy” and “magic is a shortcut to fulfillment”. There is a section on the “laws of magic” which would help someone who is just starting their studies and will help the student crystallize exactly what they want from magic.

The section on ethics focuses rather heavily on the Rede and Threefold law, but excepting that bias, everything else rings true. This is the kind of information I am giving in my classes to my students. Other than the gaffe with the Rede, the information in this book is in the above average class. It is needed, it is accurate, and it is excellent.

The author spends some time examining the two sides of occult practices, magic and mysticism. He believes and states that they are two sides of the same coin, and bear the same relationship to each other and to the practitioner that the Lord and Lady bear to each other and to the student. He also spends time talking about the Chakras and their uses in magic. He makes valid cases for his points and taught me some things about them. Carl states the Chakras bear a relationship to the forces in our life. The lower three are used when one wants to focus on money, sex and personal power. The upper four are the “higher” Chakras and as used in magic when one is focusing on romance, creativity, brainpower and intelligence and the magician’s connection to the higher planes. This is a connection I had not made in my practices, and one I WILL be using in the future.

Throughout this work there is common sense and a lot of home truths. If you can ignore the Wiccan bias in this, it’s an excellent work and sorely needed. In all, I’m giving this book 4 stars out of 5. The only reason it’s not a 5 out of 5 is that Wiccan Bias. Ignore that, and this is one of those works that will last well into the next century (and yes, I’m talking about 2100). I plan on adding this to my recommended reading resources for my magic class as soon as I can.

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