Monday, September 5, 2016

Brandy William's Time Machine (a book review)

Those dirty guys at Amazon won't let me post this review right now, so you'll get it here first.  :o)

I know I haven't posted for a long time.  I'll remedy that situation soon, as we are planning some interesting ritual work here at Castle ROHF soon.  Meanwhile, my review for Brandy William's book, to be released later this week:

In preparation for an interview that I recently performed for the Ordo Templi Orientis U.S. Grand Lodge podcast, “Thelema Now,” Ms. William’s publishers, Llewellyn Publications, sent me a pre-release copy of her book “For the Love of the Gods: The History and Modern Practice of Theurgy.”

I have enjoyed this book in several ways.  I expected a high level of scholarship, and was delighted at the engaging way in which stories were told relating the practices of theurgy throughout the ages.

In a history that begins in Egypt before the Common Era, and moves into our temporal backyard with Theosophists and modern occultists, we are taken into the lives of those who have studied and practiced these techniques. In the stories that compose the first portion of the book, we are projected into stories generated around historical fact that transport the reader into the lives of those who sought personal relationship with deity.  The tales illustrate the techniques of theurgy, the teaching mechanisms employed, and the relationship between the theoretical and experiential aspects of the tradition, the importance of ritual.

The final portion of the book introduces the reader to studies, practices and rituals adapted from historical sources and tailored for today’s reader. This part is the praxis to bring the theory and history uncovered beforehand to life.

In short, this book is a time machine.  In it, we receive an almost familial sense of continuity between ancient practitioners and those people who are stalking direct encounters with divinity today.  A quote from the text (p 257): “Theurgic ritual is performed today.  To a Witch, Ceremonial magician or Pagan student of history, the rituals performed by Hellenistic era magicians two thousand years ago seem very familiar.  The spells in the papyri are strikingly comprehensible.  Our world is contiguous with the world in which these rituals were created, and there is a traceable connection through the literature of Neo-Platonic philosophy, so it should not be surprising that the rituals themselves expressing this philosophy are understandable to us.”

Thanks to Brandy Williams for a readable, enjoyable and rigorous history of theurgy and its practices, and thanks also to Kat Sanborn at Llewyllen for providing me with a REAL BOOK to read, and not teasing me about my allergy to reading electronically!