by Raymond Buckland
Llewellyn Publications, 1994
It’s not an easy task to review this book because the author’s concepts are not hard to understand, nor is the writing on a level that the average reader won’t be able to comprehend. I do not object because of anything that one can point to and say that it is not right. It’s simply that the concepts laid out in this book are not new.
Let me be clear, I will not sugarcoat this review in any way, nor will I call him the greatest author to ever walk the face of the Earth. Buckland is a good author in that he takes a complex concept, such as Wicca, and breaks it down so that just about anyone can understand the concepts presented. But, as I said, the concept of using color in Magick is not a new one.
He references, several times, other authors who have discovered this process, and used it to great success. Granted, in most cases, they are not writing for the metaphysical audience. They have discovered the psychological uses of color in various means in the workplace, school, in personal life, and so on. No, what Buckland does that is novel is to bring all this information together, and put it with magickal practices.
That’s all. Anyone of us could come to these same conclusions, and in some cases, I recommend doing so. However, this makes a good primer on the topic of color in the Circle and in Magick.
Once again, Buckland touches briefly on many different topics, giving a brief overview of using such different methods of using color as meditation, poppets, candles (covered very well in Practical Candle Burning Magick, also from Llewellyn), runes and numerology, and tarot.
Let me warn you now, this is not for beginners. Like many of Buckland’s works, the topics touched upon in here are brief. Just enough depth is given to let you know how to integrate them with the rest of the magickal work you are undertaking, but no more. The reader needs to have a firm grounding in the basics of the particular section of magick they are working upon before they move to incorporating color.
And in some areas of using color in workings, he does not go deep enough. In two cases, Color Meditation and Placket Magick, he assumes that one knows more than he explains. I know meditation, but in this book, Buckland introduces meditations processes that are completely new and innovative, but he does not go into any depth with these either. Granted, he makes a tremendous attempt to associate these new ways of doing things with what you may already know, but there is still a lack of substance. I get the impression from this that there is far more to these two areas than he goes into.
Conversely, his uses of Color in healing are exceedingly good. Color healing, gem healing, Choromotherapy and so on are old and known sciences in some parts, but no one, once again, has assembled everything together into one package before. I have used many of the techniques that Buckland lays out in this book myself, without knowing it and found them effective.
I think he stretches color therapy a bit far when he applies color to music, but I can see the point he makes in this section. Music can have a “feel” to it, and color definitely has a feel to it, so combining them will probably be more beneficial than using just one or the other.
Now, where I think Mr. Buckland falls down at: Firstly, I think it should be made clear that the techniques listed should be used by those experienced in using magick on a regular basis. I think that this book has the potential to create more “one book and I’m a magician” types that most practitioners of the Craft despise. Hopefully, though, when encountering some of the more difficult techniques, the prospective “Wiccabe,” as they are coming to be called, will find something more suitable for them.
Secondly, I believe that Mr. Buckland places too much stress on props in what he describes. If one were to follow all of his recommendations laid out in the book, one would have three ritual robes with hoods, multiple poppets, plackets of various colors (a placket is a pocket of two or one color that a picture can be slid into), along with a light studio for healings. This is extreme, but the point is made. Many of the things that are needed for some of the rites and rituals in this book are expensive and/or hard to get.
Thirdly, in the areas that are new, he does not give enough depth. Personal musings and techniques are fine, but he should give a bit more detail when bringing a new meditation technique into being, such as using color meditation and the charkas to fix yourself. He gives a good beginning, but not enough substance, and you know students these days. They are not patient in waiting for the reasons as to why. They want to know now.
Lastly, while color is a major portion of our lives, I feel that Mr. Buckland should have made it plain that one needs to take the introduction of color to your studies slowly. The impression is given that one should take everything he writes and incorporate it immediately into all aspects of one’s life. That much change so quickly would be worse than taking a shotgun out to kill a gnat. Adding color to one or two aspects of one’s life at a time, until they are comfortable with that change would be much better.
However, Mr. Buckland did an outstanding job on making and writing this reference. I would not recommend this book for someone completely new to the Craft, but I would recommend it to those who are fairly well studied as a supplement to their studies. As a reference, it is extremely good on it’s own. There is little wading through tons of esoteric information to find one nugget of good information, it’s right there and to the point.
Raymond Buckland did a wonderful job again in writing a book that covers a massive area of study, which could take a lifetime on it’s own, and breaks it down into pieces that can be absorbed, and implemented with a minimum of fuss. The references in the Bibliography are solid and informative, as well as the references cited in the text itself. I do think he should get away from referencing his own works so much, but that is to be expected, to a point.
This book is not useless, far from it, but neither can it stand on it’s own. It is a companion to your favorite magickal tradition, and in that, Mr. Buckland does an admirable job of not promoting Wiccan Magick over the Kabala or the Golden Dawn or Alchemy or what have you. He gives the information and shows you how it can be incorporated into your tradition.
As I said, I would recommend this to anyone to further their education, and advise everyone I know to put it on the shelves next to “The White Goddess” and other such works that one references from time to time. Out of five stars I give this book 3 ½ stars.
Addendum 8-5-2002: Well, I got the reissued copy from Llewellyn recently. I looked at it and found that while the text had not changed substantially from the first version, the layout and the illustrations were MUCH better. The cover was improved out of all recognition from what it had been, and it makes an impact. The book is slightly thicker overall, rather than the somewhat skinny looking pamphlet that it was before, so it fits snuggly next to the rest of one’s reference works. I do like the new layout it helps when one is reading it and is less of a strain on the eyes. I still think this work would be a good reference for anyone to have and own, even more so now since it actually LOOKS like a serious work, rather than something produced in someone’s basement.
Originally posted 2009-11-15 17:19:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter