The Most Dangerous Thing in Magick
What is the most dangerous thing in magick? Some of the ritual components? Some of the gods you may work with? Some of the PEOPLE you may work with? Maybe the knives etc involved?
It’s simple, really. None of the above. The most dangerous thing in Magick is bad information. Bad information can lead you to use the wrong ritual component, use a ritual component the wrong way, or gods forbid use the wrong ritual component the wrong way (swallowing hemlock anyone?). Bad information can also make you call upon the wrong deity/force for the wrong task, to which they can respond…shall we say negatively. And of course, bad information can make you work with people you wouldn’t have normally trusted, perhaps in ways you wouldn’t have normally worked with them.
I bring this up not, as some might think, because of my dislike of King Kevin Carlyon. No, he actually has little to nothing to do with this subject (despite being the biggest face of bad information in the entire magickal world). I bring this up because of a book which came into my possession about five years ago. This book is the single greatest source of bad information I have ever come across. I dare not get rid of it, lest it fall into the hands of someone who doesn’t recognize it as such, and I have a personal objection to burning books (I once told my fiancée when she jokingly said she’d burn a book of mine that I didn’t much care for that I would leave her if she did.). So there this book sits, in the back of my closet in an unassuming box which I open rarely if ever. Collecting dust, hopefully to befall some happy accident in the future. This book reads like a cult leader’s doctrine and details curses which, if they work, would create quite the karmic backlash on the caster (To force a man to love you without feeling guilty about it for example). As if that weren’t bad enough, it gives recipes for certain ritual components (that it claims have been in use for hundreds of years) which include narcotics or hallucinogens. The author claims members of her coven are King Arthur reincarnate and Jesus Christ reincarnate, that her coven has existed since Arthurian times (in service to Arthur no less), and that her mantle of office (a strange necklace looking object) will strangle anyone not meant to wear it. What book could I possibly be speaking of? It’s title is The Grimoire of Lady Sheba.
What else can I say about this horrendous book that I haven’t already discussed? I don’t normally speak ill of the dead (Jessica Wicker “Lady Sheba” Bell died March 20th 2002) but in her case I think I’ll make an exception. Let me perhaps put it this way. We have established that King Kevin is awful. After a few chapters of this book I think he must have learned some of his tricks from this vile woman.
In the first couple chapters she claims that “power shared is power lost.” Which, if that were true, would render anyone who ever taught anyone Magick absolutely useless in ritual. Not to mention that this sets up for a systematic forgetting of the ancient arts (to jealously guard “power”). I wonder if anyone pointed out to her that, by publishing her book of shadows, she lost all that “power” by her own teachings? Moving on to the section where she details a “lost witch’s alphabet” and the Norse Runes. Because of these two pages (they’re listed as an alphabet with the English letter below it) I spent almost a month using letters that didn’t exist (this was remedied when I bought a book about the runes and an actual rune set). I can’t attest to the accuracy of the “lost witch’s alphabet” but I imagine it’s just as inaccurate.
I think I’m going to stop here, lest I be tempted to pull the book off of its secluded shelf and out of its box to debunk everything it teaches. I will conclude with some advice.
When buying metaphysical books, and I know this will be old news to some of you, use your instincts. If the book seems like it might be a little hokey, wrong, full of crap for teenage girls, etc. It probably is. My friends and I talk about something we all a “ping”. Others will refer to it as “calling to you” or similar terminology. The best way to describe this feeling is that when you see it on a shelf or in your hand (or, in the case of components and equipment, in the shop) and you feel like you absolutely HAVE to have it. But it goes deeper than a simple want. You feel that particular book or item was created specifically for you or will work perfectly for what you need or…well I hope by now you get the picture. A “ping” or “call” is a lot like love. It can’t be adequately described but you’ll know it when you see it.
If all else fails, bring along a friend who is also Pagan when shopping for metaphysical items. Two minds and two senses are better than one. Especially when it’s your first time buying. The more knowledgeable the friend the more likely they’ll be able to point out bad information.
EDIT: After thinking about it for a while I took the book down and looked through it again. The “Witch’s Alphabet” she shows is the Theban Script. I verified that she transcribed that, at least, correctly except for the addition of the three “confusion” letters. The runes were as bad as I remembered and it took me a good half hour to restore the proper order, shape, and meaning in my head. Also, the “magic strangling necklace ™” is not only a symbol of her office as head of her coven (only able to be worn by her daughters) but supposedly means she’s supposed to be queen of camelot too. She also includes pictures of herself in various “magickal poses”, for what reason I have no idea. So I reiterate, AVOID THIS BOOK AT ALL COSTS! If your curiosity demands you know more, there is a good in-depth review of the book (with pictures of and from it) here.