Sunday, April 21, 2024

How to Become a Modern Magus by Don Webb

So, way back when I first sparked an interest in Western esoteric traditions, I cut my teeth on Aleister Crowley (might as well jump in the deep end, amiright?) way back in the early 2000s and also the Donald Michael Kraig classic Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts, which would be interesting to revisit now years later. Lately, I've become a huge fan of the writings of Don Webb, who not only is a fantastic author of weird fiction, but his writings on more esoteric subjects take an approach that appeals to me. He is both wise and funny (a rare combination), and is in possession of a vast cornucopia of knowledge that makes me wonder if he doesn't have a clone helping him parse all that information. I've learnt much from him over the years, and have enjoyed such titles of his as The Mysteries of the Temple of Set and Overthrowing the Old Gods: Aleister Crowley and the Book of the Law. Don brings to the table a healthy dollop of common sense with plenty of the strange in a way that inspires seekers of the mysteries to engage in magical play. When I went through a period of magical stagnation a few years ago, it was Don's writing, in conjunction with a timely reading of my friend Ramsey Dukes' Ssotbme Revised – An Essay on Magic, that rekindled my puckish delight in all things magical.

In any case, I can most likely gush on endlessly, so let me rather get to the point of this review. With all the literature on the topic that's out there, with more traditions and luminary figures in the esoteric world than you can shake a wand at, what I truly appreciate about Don Webb and his writing is that he's so gosh darned accessible and approachable. But whether you meet him in person, communicate via email, or open one of his works, I get the idea that he's big on communicating clearly, with a healthy side order of mischief that will shake you out of your comfort zone. I approve of mischief. It causes you to look at the world slantwise, which is perhaps a much-needed skill these days.

I'm approaching Don Webb's How to Become a Modern Magus from the perspective of someone who's spent years reading a pile of literature. I consider myself quite au fait with many of the approaches and concepts, and I'm glad to say that for me How to Become a Modern Magus succeeded in making me reconsider many of the core concepts of the Western esoteric systems from a fresh perspective.

Don combines his own experiences (and those of people he's encountered) with the knowledge that he's garnered over the years in a book that's not only a fascinating read to gain an appreciation of the work of a modern magician, but he also pulls together a wonderful structured curriculum that will benefit those who are new, as well as those for whom this is not their first rodeo. If you're comfortable in your own practise, it can be useful to follow a 'how to' course that may well highlight areas in your own life that require some honest self-reflection and work. Shake things up. Dance to a slightly different tune from what you're accustomed to.

In this book, you'll most certainly be challenged to step outside of your comfort zone, to not only consider discrete aspects of Self and how they relate to concepts such as the Elements (earth, air, fire, water) but also be presented with core concepts of ritual work, while also engaging in the kind of magical thinking that Ramsey Dukes so delights in (those of you who're au fait with Dukes' tone will be on familiar turf).

When I did my first read through How to Become a Modern Magus, I found myself highlighting so many little paragraphs that are worth a second look – but it's beyond the scope of this review to reproduce them all. You'll really need to go look/see for the ones that resonate with you. What I do take away, even as I work through the book month by month now, is that this is about getting to know aspects of your Self; it's about discovering what it is you truly want; it's about engaging with Mystery; and it's about projecting your Long Desire out into the world and figuring out how to take those steps that will bring you to what you want. As in what you truly Desire. (Thank you, Lucifer... IYKYK.)

Okay, so that's my paltry attempt to try to encapsulate this book in a nutshell. I don't think it's possible, actually, since everyone who does embark on the journey of working through this book is going to have a very different, individual experience. Honestly, this title has come at a good time for me when I've wanted suggested periods of focus on different aspects of Self – a magical boot camp, as it were. And whether you're a rank beginner or a seasoned practitioner, if you engage with this book sincerely, you're in for quite a journey.

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