Taylor Ellwood an experimental magician and the author of Inner Alchemy: Energy Work and the Magic of the Body, Pop Culture Magick, Space-Time Magic and other books. He has also compiled three magical anthologies. A Magical Life is a collection of Ellwood’s web-blogs from 2008, 2009, and 2010, posted on his site (at http://www.magicalexperiments.com).

The blogs traces his personal spiritual and magical journey through these three years. Each entry is dated and generally focuses on a specific topic. Some topics come around for further discussion in later blogs. Ellwood discusses magic, spell-crafting, his relationships with deities and how he proceeds in developing a worshipful practice and greater understanding of the deities. He gives insight into lessons he’s learning, and things within himself with which he’s struggling.

Storm Constantine, the editor, explains in her introduction that she has chosen to leave the blogs in their (mostly) original state to reflect the author’s voice and the raw honesty of his day-by-day emotional processes. This leaves the reader with a mixed bag of pluses and minuses. On one side, the blogs are interesting because they reflect the incremental development of a practicing pagan. On the down side, some of the entries are nearly incoherent. There are run-on sentences, typos, and slap-dash remarks that the author and editor could have taken a few moments to polish up a bit for publication. This is a subjective matter that addresses the reader’s taste and temperament. Some may find the lack of editing a bonus; others may find it irritating. 

Taylor Ellwood shares his emerging philosophies on magic and spirituality, occultism, and gives updates on his magical experiments. He sometimes shares the books he is reading and how he views them; often his reading material is the basis of a blog or two. In fact, the writing is often at its most interesting when he gets on a rant for or against something and his feelings are strongly expressed.

Not everything in this compilation is interesting – the reader has to sort through the dross to find to the jewels. Three years of blogs adds up to over three-hundred pages of material, and this is a daunting slab of blogs to read through. The trick is pacing; the reader will do best to read through a handful of entries at a go, and return to read a few more a few days later. This is not a book you can sit down and read through in an afternoon.

There aren’t many magical diaries on bookshelves, and this does provide a glimpse of the nuts, bolts, and inner workings of a practicing magician-author who is striving to overcome personal issues and spiritual conundrums. It doesn’t tell the reader “how-to” do spells or be a pagan so much as it demonstrates what can happen while a person is exploring the process of spiritual development. From that standpoint, this is a unique contribution to pagan literature that provides an intimate snapshot of a magician’s life.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Author: Taylor Ellwood
Megalithica Books, 2013
344 pages. $21.99