Book: Practical Solitary Magic by Nancy WatsonI found this book easy to read, understand, and use for practice. It is well written and gives easy guidence especially for those just beginning to explore magic. It is not limiting to one group or practice. This is a good feature for those who define their god or goddess slightly different from any other they have read or heard or seen. The author encourages the user to develop their own skills beyond mimicing those of others. She starts simply and leaves lots of room for expansion into complex spells and rituals. This book will especially touch those who are more logical and practical and doubt the powers of the universe. I have had a whole new world of happiness, power, and possibilities open up to me after completing this text.
Ms. Watson's book is a wonderful step by step guide to creating a ritual. There are plenty of annecdotes-always appreciated in occult books, where the author can come off as damn near godlike if they don't watch themselves. Her method is to use an architectural metaphor for magic, dividing it into Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical planes; Spiritual magic deals with gods, Mental with thoughts, Emotional with feelings, and Physical with physically acting out ritual. One may work on one or many levels at once.
Watson's reasoning is easily understood, and the exercises constructed in a logical manner. Overall, this is an exxelent book. There are however, 3 flaws that stuck out at me when I read the book. One is relativley minor, the other two could cause major problems if the reader is not aware of them before hand. First, the minor one. Watson's footnotes are in chaos. There is no regular pattern to their placement, and in one case they repeat themselves. It really very distracting. One of the major flaws is that Watson references the Chakra system, in one case relying heavily on it, without giving the reader an overview of the subject. She just jumps right into them, with only the barest idea given as to how the system works. I would recomend Anodea Judtih's Wheels of Light as a good introduction to a very complex system. The other problem is the personality test that gets quite a lot of mileage in the book. THe test itself is slightly confusing, and I often ended up picking the respnse that was closest to what I actually thought, rather than the one that resonated with my spirit. Many of the answers seemed to be the same anwser, in my opninion. While I feel that the assesment given by the test is more or less accurate, I don't quite trust it. Certainly not enough to base work with elementals on. And Watson is pretty clear about the dangers of working with elementals that go against your nature. Other than these tow considerations, the book is excellent. Anyone interested in ritual magic should read it at least once.
One of the best things about this book is that Watson fills it to the brim with autobiography. One gets far more about reading how a person discovered and used a technique in their life than from reading about the technique in the abstract.
Though Watson works out of a vaguely Golden Dawn-ish tradition, she is quite eclectic and encourages her readers to be. She makes the point that magic can be extremely simple -- nothing but writing down one's goal -- or extremely complex, and that a student of the occult should find for themselves what rituals, symbols, and gods they can work comfortably with.
Once again: an excellent work; I recommend it highly. Read it and it will give you a context for all the rest of the reading on magic you do.
Practical Solitary Magic
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