THE RITUAL MAGIC WORKBOOK: A Practical Course of Self-Initiation
The Ritual Magic Workbook is much more, and to some much less, than the title promises. On the "more" side this really is a valuable introductory workbook to a serious student of ritual magic. On the "less" side, those who seek a cookbook of many spells will be greatly disappointed. In this case, that is entirely the intent of the author, who seeks to provide lone seekers with a way to get themselves well along the path of magical working, and to sort out the student who is not so committed in short order.
Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki is well known in magical and occult circles. A student of W.E. Butler, Ashcroft-Nowicki stands as publicly as a true initiate in the lineage of the Golden Dawn. Well trained and very experienced in the ritual arts, she is emminently qualified to craft this year-long course on building one's temple and using it to both gain experience and work the art of ritual magic. Along the way, the reader/novice magician works with increasing levels of ritual, imagery and self-mastery, which as any student of the occult knows go hand in hand.
The Foreward by J.E. Brennan and introduction by Ashcroft-Nowicki could stand alone as excellent introductory writings on one's approach to any of the magical paths. Brennan's self-revelations offer the reader a good chance of seeing some of his or her own faults without blame or recrimination, rare in these politically correct times. Almost as an afterthought Brennan recommends the book's author and content, and it is not until later that the reader might realize Brennan's highly engaging Foreward is in fact the first of many lessons before the lessons.
The author's introduction holds the qualifiers for the bulk and purpose of the book. The aim of the book is clear: to provide lone individuals, or very small groups, with no-nonsense instructions and exercises necessary to get them through the beginnings of the ritual magic path intact, stronger and fit for the next phase of training. With the recognition of modern life's tendency to intrude more and more on one's personal time, the author offers many insights and methods into incorporating a life of training and study into almost any outer life. Her humor is both genuine and painless, not giving in to either self-deprecation nor off-color remarks, providing both pleasant breaks in the thought-train and moments of possible introspection. The introduction is clear and concise: if the reader accepts the challenge, they commit to first six months of magical training, study and practice, then re-commit for another six months if still interested. She frankly advises anyone not so interested to put the book down and seek other entertainment.
The body of the book is broken into twelve chapters, one for each of these twelve months. Each chapter stands complete as a series-lesson in developing and using one's outer or physical temple, and one's inner temple. Dealing with the flaws that one inevitably finds in one's own makeup is handled very appropriately at each step along the way. While some pop psychologists might want softer treatment at some points, the author correctly distinguishes between malaises that are mere self-indulgences and those that indicate real problems, and offers appropriate advice for dealing with each. A wide variety of topics are touched upon in various levels of depth, including Egyptian, Celtic and other forms of magic, incense making (offering several excellent recipes), elemental temple working, scrying, and pathworking along the Tree of Life. A very well-rounded curriculum indeed.
I was especially fond of her straight-forward remarks about dealing with ghosts, spirits and other such distractors of the novice's attention. Far too many modern books give too much glamor to these subjects at times when the novice needs to be worrying more about their own thought patterns and temperaments. At the same time, she pokes fun where it is due and does not exaggerate her points, permitting her reader to be intelligent and discerning in their own minds.
In short, if you are looking for an excellent guide through the first stages of ritual magic training, and cannot find a worthy teacher nearby to study with, by all means investigate this excellent course-in-a-book. Those willing to commit to the challenge will find themselves well placed on the magical path, and will indeed attract the attention of real teachers. For those looking for a cookbook of insta-spells or self-gratifying puffery, my advice would be to spend your money elsewhere.
Reviewed by Mike Hammer
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