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Sunday, 1 August 2010

Mastering Witchcraft

Mastering Witchcraft Cover

Book review: Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson

If you were only to own one book on the practice of Witchcraft (not the religion of Wicca) Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft is the reference you wold want. Not for the faint of heart and definitely un-fluffy this book is a grimoire unto itself and you could legitimately build your practice just around the information in these pages.

Huson’s Witchcraft is sort of a Paganization of a very simplified (and effective) Ceremonial Magic. There is a religious position taken in the book which may be uncomfortable for modern Neo-Pagans in certain respects and will offend Christians but for the Witch or Warlock interested in the practice of Witchcraft there is no better introduction or reference. One of the few books I’ve read that contains effective curses and bindings and it even has a section on running a coven, though the covens here are not your Wiccan covens of today.

Firstly it is an exposition of Witchcraft in the purely pre-modern sense of that word, as a Craft (Anglo-Saxon 'Craeft' -'Power, Skill, Force') and he comprehensively expounds the technical knowledge and applied methods by which this innate 'Power' can be methodically tapped and projected by the Witch or Warlock for various pragmatic ends. In other words the term Witchcraft here is used in the same archaic sense as one would find it used in say the 17th century astrological works of William Lilly or William Ramesey when they say that the 12th House of the Chart is the 'House of Witchcraft' - they were not referring to a wiccan-style cult or alternative religion but quite simply meant the exercise of magical power to 'bewitch'. It is in this original and authentic sense that Paul Huson's book is a genuine manual of 'Witchcraft', putting aside the modern meanings which have become attached to that word.

The author presents an immensely skilful synthesis of magical lore and techniques from the traditional Magic of the Middle Ages and imparts a very workable body of spells, invocations, astrological herblore, incenses, philtres and image-magic: he draws upon and weaves together elements from the Solomonic cycle of grimoires, the teachings of Cornelius Agrippa, the 'enlinking' techniques using archetypal images used by Giordano Bruno, the use of Cabalistic kamea in arithmantic invocations etc. For example the invocation to Saturn in the chapter on binding magic is actually a translation/adaptation of the 'Magical Oration to Saturn' from the mediaeval Moorish text the Picatrix(Ghayat-al-Hakim). He blends these learned Hermetic-Cabalistic-Astrological esoteric currents with the rural myhthos of country folk-magic in old England. This is acheived in a way which is both authentic and effective. Indeed Traditional Magic is not subject to contemporary notions of 'progress' or 'improvement': the 'Invincible Magical Discipline' as Agrippa terms it, is timeless, always characterised by a tenacious conservatism and adherence to paradigmatic forms and Paul Huson's book accordingly delivers magical lore which is substantially pre-modern and traditional in flavour.

Yet another minor strain discernable in this book is that of Hoodoo, as seen in the use of certain substances found usually in 'Rootworking' and the creation of sachets which are themselves basically the Mojo Hands or Pacquet Kongo used in Vodoun, derived from the Nkisi of Kongo Magic. Such is the author's consummate skill these cultural elements are harmoniously blended into the brew in a very effective manner.
Furthermore the author's 'voice' throughout is very enjoyable to follow and the book is a great read, lively and expressed throughout with intelligence, stylistic panache and humour.It contains many fine illustrations in an atmospheric woodcut-like style which add a great deal to the text.

In many ways this book was several decades ahead of it's time - it prefigured the contemporary return to authentic mediaeval and renaissance magical lore and technique and provides the reader with a great deal of stimulating and potent material to engage practically. Here is revealed in full detail the true Way of the Warlock for those intrepid souls who would dare penetrate the twilit demesne of mediaeval sorcery and attain to Nigromantic mastery of the Black Art. This essential book contains a wealth of material which will be invaluable to the magical practitioner at any stage of development and is greatly to be recommended.

Download Paul Huson's eBook: Mastering Witchcraft

Books in PDF format to read:

George Moir - Magic And Witchcraft
Paul Huson - Mastering Witchcraft