I like a good challenge, which might be why I play computers games based on solving puzzles rather than shooting creatures. But the test embodied within High Magic nearly defeated me. I therefore offer this review with a number of caveats so the reader can make her best decision.
First of all, while I am personally an eclectic Wiccan in my spiritual practice I feel I have a broad background in general Paganism and so can view the topic of magic from a number of vantage points. While clearly (and deeply educated in) magical theory, High Magic is distinctly ceremonial and essentially unrelated to any form of Paganism I have worked with or around. This is a very dense book, requiring a lot of reading, thinking, and working – for that alone I can recommend this book.
I am a teacher and am used to taking adults from diverse backgrounds and education and ‘growing them’ along a continuum until they have reached their personal limit. Here, however, the author repeatedly says that the book is for beginners, yet it feels absolutely daunting. Perhaps he is so deeply--versed in his knowledge he has forgotten how little a beginner truly knows? As a result, the reader may find it frustrating to follow the author diverges onto tangents.
Those who follow the ‘harm none’ ethical path may have a problem with an author of a radically different ethical path. (Remember, the basis of the ceremonial path is ‘Do what thou wilt be the whole of the law.’) As well, Frater U.D. disdains religion in general although he softens his stance by recognizing the usefulness of religion and how humanity seems to need them. In his opinion, however, religions are ultimately extraneous, and that what we call gods are merely forces we have decided to name.
In the end, I am pleased that a book like this is available to the magical community. It is well researched, thorough, in-depth, and generally well explained. There are numerous exercises with sound explanations of the theory behind them so that readers may eventually branch out into their own distinct forms of practice.
~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Author: Frater U.D.
Llewellyn Publications, 2005
pp. 422, $29.95