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Witchy Book Review Series #1: The Magick of Influence
Welcome to the first installment in my Witchy Book Review Series! I get a lot of questions from newcomers to the craft about where I learn things, and what I'm reading. In general, my approach to the craft is 60-percent doing, 40-percent learning. You can spend hours combing the Web for magickal resources, but not all content is equal. While there is certainly a lot of bunk to be found in books on witchcraft, there are plenty of gems as well. As a writer, I don't usually review books I didn't find helpful (or finish them, for that matter), so if I have taken the time to review something here, it's a book I enjoyed and think others in the craft would find useful as well!
Book to Review: The Magick of Influence by Corwin Hargrove
The subtitle of this book is "Persuade, control and dominate with the forces of darkness," which grabbed my attention immediately! While a bit on the shorter side, this book definitely lived up to the cover! To be fair, it's short because the author doesn't go on the same rambling diatribes that are unfortunately common in the occult instructional genre today. There is a brief overview of the magick, the theory behind it, the author's take (which is always a good way to get a feel for the perspective that's going to be shaping the work,) and then it's straight into the magick.
The book is divided into three major sections, including the introductory material, Part 1 (The Magick of the Calls) and Part 2 (Demonic Influence.) I'll cover what I found helpful in each of these sections.
First, let's discuss the theme of this book, which is influence. Why would you want to influence anyone? While a lot of magicians and witches focus on changing things, they neglect to realize that the human will is the driving force in reality. Magick is exerting that will on reality to change it, which is a concept that Hargrove explains well and succinctly. If you can change someone's opinion of you, you will change the way they treat you. The rituals are pleasantly simple, but the applications are endless.
Note: This is obviously not a book for those who feel it's wrong to use magick for "selfish" reasons, but you all know how I feel about magick. It's all shades of gray, and we attempt to influence people on a daily basis, anyway. The mechanisms presented here are just different.
The Magick of the Calls
This section deals with gods and angels who can be called on for the purpose of influence, which is what the book is all about. As someone who is all about angel work, I appreciated the author's acknowledgment that they are not fluffy beings sitting on a cloud. Angels are powerful beings that do not conform to human conceptions of morality and, in this witch's opinion, any occultist worth his or her salt will give them the reverence and attention they deserve. The Magick of the Calls discusses the angels, gods and other spirits who can be called on during certain days and hours for a specific purpose, ranging from changing a person's mind about something in general to making someone care about your wellbeing and creating loyalty. These are straightforward rituals with pronunciation included, but I recommend reading through them once or twice before you begin the actual working. And pay attention to the purification methods listed earlier in the book! So often, when people ask me why a spell didn't work, I reply with, "Well, how did you prepare?" Their response is usually a big, "Huh?" Prep work is a huge part of any working. It sets the ritual stage, even if it's only in your own mind, and while this book strips ceremonial magick down to the basics, it hits on all the key prep work you need to do in order to maximize your chances of success.
This is admittedly the first section I skipped to before reading from cover to cover, as I'm always curious what approach a new-to-me author will take to the Goetia. I found the rituals presented here to be an ideal middleground between the uber-simplicity of chaos magick (which the author mentions as well) and high ceremonial magick with all the trappings. Yes, I'm sure there are people who will argue that you need all of those things, but all magick is will exerted on the material world. In that sense, it only matters that the magick works. Each ritual here includes a brief set of instructions to follow after purification and protection (a concept that was presented in a refreshingly simple way and without the too-spooky nonsense I find in a lot of these works!). Read the section on protection, use it and supplement with your own practices as needed, but as the author mentions, going into Goetic magick with confidence is going to go a long way. If you go into it trembling and fearful like a helpless waif, you're going to have a scary experience, because that's what you manifest. (And, honestly, how is a spirit supposed to resist a bit of fun with a practitioner who acts like they're starring in a horror movie?)
In any case, each ritual features the sigil of a Goetic demon, a mention of what that spirit can help you accomplish, a straightforward summoning, a customizable transcript of how to make your petition, and a brief dismissal. It's refreshingly simple and easy to follow. Each ritual follows the same format to different ends, but there is flexibility in simplicity, and that's a concept the author communicates well.
Practical Application/My Experience With a Ritual
The first ritual I tried in this book was the "Make Somebody Shut Their Mouth" entry in the Demonic Influence section. I wanted something stronger to use to keep someone from harassing me than a simple binding or freezer spell, as this person was very persistent, but I didn't want to hex them, just to influence them not to speak of or to me. Zagan (ZAH-GAN, according to the pronunciation guide) is the demon who is called on in this ritual, and he is very efficient at silencing gossip and making loud people less, well, loud. This is influence magick at its finest. I was not contacted again, and a specific date passed when I knew this person would usually try to bother me, yet they went on their merry way and left me be completely, so I consider this ritual a resounding success.
I give this short but sweet book on influence magick the Modern Alchemyst seal of approval. If you're offput by Goetic magick, angels or ceremonial magick, this is not for you. If, however, you want a no-nonsense practical guide to some highly effective influence magick that condenses ritual magick to the least you need to generate actual results, and are willing to forego the full evocation experience, you really should pick this up. It's become a favorite in my collection, and I've heard the author has another book out, so I'll be adding it to my to-be-read list.