Recommendations for Beginners

Regardless of whom you ask on the topic, you're going to receive biased answers since everyone has his/her own view of what the best way to go about learning magick/occult topics is. I'm no different. With that in mind, here are some miscellaneous recommendations:

1. Before you do anything, ask yourself why you want to learn about magick and the occult. You need to know your motives (especially the hidden ones) for such work, due to the serious (and inevitably life-changing) nature of this type of work.

2. Some study of psychology (the works of C.G. Jung are helpful) will be useful for figuring out the very first lesson of most esoteric schools of thought. That very first lesson of study should be "Know Thyself." Knowing yourself is not an easy thing to do and although most people probably think they know themselves pretty well, most don't. It's surprising how much your subconscious can hide from you. People are extremely good at self-delusion when it comes to understanding the true motives behind their actions.

3. The study of magick and the occult is ultimately a study of one's self and the universe he/she lives in. Many people are fascinated by magick and wish to gain control over some aspect of their lives or manipulate others or gain power. This is an ego-based view and usually doesn't amount to a whole lot. The REAL power available is gained through non-ego based work. First, you learn about the 'self' and all your component parts (e.g. the parts of your psyche), and then by understanding those parts and how they fit into the broad scheme of things (e.g. the greater universe around and through you), you begin to accomplish the process of total self (re)unification. Most people function as a series of unconnected 'selves' within themselves. Their subconscious aspects are unknown to them (they can neither psychically feel nor understand the concept of various parts of their own spirit/mind), and the only frequency band available for their sensation is that of the physical realm. Magickians seek to broaden their awareness of self and how self is interconnected with the rest of the universe that they share with others. Interestingly, the more you know about yourself, the greater your understanding of the outer world. True power is gained this way as well, but usually only as a byproduct and not as a goal or end in itself (the danger implied there is that the balance of power would be more toward the human ego and less toward one's spiritual core - this would be as disadvantageous as a tree trying to cut itself off from its own roots - this undesireable state can be viewed clairvoyantly). The true magickian ignores such trappings and views the acquisition of skills (such as telekinetics etc.) as simply lessons and practice for greater spiritual awareness (non-ego related pursuits).

Note: the reason why a non-ego focus is constantly stressed on this website is due to the nature of the human ego. It is transitory, while the spiritual core (the true identity) is permanent. Since the ego gets its power from the spiritual core, it is therefore more desireable to make one's ego more like that core so as to bring its influence down into one's conscious awareness, and by linking the ego back to the core, extend one's consciousness beyond one's usual limitations. These aspects or components of one's self can be viewed clairvoyantly with accuracy and continuity across several practitioners/observers. Once you see first-hand how your components really do hook together, you wouldn't want to try to make the ego the king of all while ignoring the spiritual core within.

4. There is no one true way to go about doing anything. There are as many 'systems' for study as there are people in existence. All that matters is that you find a system that you feel compatible with when first learning (ultimately, you will end up creating your own 'system' of practice from bits and pieces of everything you learn over the years - that's normal and expected). I generally recommend trying to see through to the essence of every system, rather than getting trapped within the limited views of any one. For example, ceremonial magick has many variations in practice today. There are Golden Dawn, O.T.O., Thelemic, Solomonic, Qabalistic, Enochian, and Wiccan groups etc. Each has their own set of symbols and 'mythology', and I often notice quite a few people getting confused by such varying systems of symbolism - some of which seem to contradict other systems.

5. The best system or school of study that I've found (again, remember that I have my own biased views on this) is that of the works of Franz Bardon. My reasons for this viewpoint are simple. He doesn't waste time with convoluted symbolism (which is sometimes just a distracting device that some occult lodges use to cover up the fact that they don't know what they're talking about and possibly wouldn't know real magick if it bit them on the ass - I've seen lodges like this). His material concentrates on the essence behind all major magick techniques and practices. Rather than confusing you with a ritual without explaining how/why it works, he just has you practice spontaneous energy manipulation in full knowledge of what you are doing. The essence behind any ritual is the manipulation of energy and consciousness to cause change in conformity with the will, so he gets to the point and starts the student off with that - thus eliminating any ridiculous symbolic trappings and detours. (Many students have trouble with the works of Aleister Crowley. I personally do not recommend starting off with his writings as they can lead to much initial confusion for the beginner. If you can first obtain a firm foundation of the essence of Hermetic magick through other simpler texts, then his writings will make much more sense.) See if you can get a local bookstore to order "Initiation into Hermetics" by Franz Bardon for you, or order it directly through Amazon online at this website. It used to be only available in hardcover, which was rather expensive, but now there's a softcover version as well. I guarantee that you'll be much happier with the results of study in his system than in many others (especially if you want real results!) - it'll give you a great foundation of psychic practice and skills. Keep in mind, success will take years, but in my opinion, that text is by far the best. You can sample excerpts from it and commentaries by practitioners in Bardon's system online by following some of the links from my Links page. There's also a free version (1st translation - not as good as the current version in print) available in PDF format in the files section of the Real Magick e-list.

6. Don't waste time with Gematria (a.k.a. numerology). It's useful as a meditative exercise, especially if you're a student of Hebrew, but for the most part it usually just degenerates into mental masturbation. Real magickians (the ones who actually cause real change in the physical realm via spontaneous non-ritualized energy work a.k.a. raw psychic talent) rarely bother with it. Magick is, at its core, a purely psychic activity. It involves learning to sense and manipulate energy and (your own) consciousness to create change in conformity with the will. Of course, learning to sense things psychically in the first place will take time.