The Four Powers is a primer for those interested in chaos or hermetic magic. Relying on works by Aleister Crowley, Ramsay Dukes and Peter Carroll, Graham condenses the essence of chaos magic into a short, easy to understand text. Graham’s book is separated into four sections, better known as the Four Powers of The Magician: To Know, To Dare, To Will, and to Keep Silent.

The first section, To Know, encourages the reader to learn everything he or she can about the art of magical practice. Here, Graham breaks down various thoughts on magical philosophy and theory.  He gives us his take on energy and how it works.  There is a brief description of the Kaballah, sigils and their uses, as well as discussions on various types of magical practices from around the world.

The second section: To Will, is a primer on the basic systems of chaos magic. Here the reader is introduced to various magical practices. Each practice focuses on various techniques such as psychological as well as cybernetic models.  Graham expounds on the power of sigils and their uses, instructs the reader on how to create his or her own, and provides experiments for the reader to explore various chaos magic techniques. The reader will find further interesting and fun experiments throughout each section of the book. 

The third Section: To Dare, outlines the concepts of illumination and enlightenment.  The type of enlightenment that Graham discusses in this text has nothing to do with what Buddha taught. This is a form of magical enlightenment.   Further, Graham gives the reader brief instructions on the practice of zazen, a form of Zen Buddhist meditation.

The final section deals with Keeping Silent and how it involves living a magical life.  Here, Graham discusses the pros and cons of the Wiccan Rede, and the Threefold Law.  He talks about morality in general as well as gives teenage practitioners advice on explaining magic to their parents.

Despite the title, I don’t’ recommend this book for beginners who are under the age of eighteen, unless the child has permission from parents as well as a skilled magical practitioner nearby who can assist if things get out of hand. Although most of these techniques are benign, some are dangerous, such as the hyperventilation practice, for example. Graham mentions in the text that hyperventilating is dangerous and can cause heart problems, however, I can easily see how an enthusiastic student would choose to ingnore such a warning. I was disturbed that the author chose to add this to the text at all, and found myself wondering about the safety of other practices and experiments mentioned in the text.

I’m not saying that no one should read this book, on the contrary. I found it interesting, especially the divination concept of ‘googlemancey.’  What I am saying is to approach the more controversial aspects of the book with caution. When in doubt, don’t do the exercises at all.

Recommended, but with caution.

~review by Patricia Snodgrass

Author: Nicholas Graham
Megalithica Books, 2006
pp. 128, $21.99