Review: “High Magick” by Damien Echols

“High Magick: A Guide to the Spiritual Practices that saved my Life on Death Row,” by Damien Echols.

Damien Echols has forcibly wrested the kind of superstardom of which most occult writers dream but never see. But then – has has paid a far higher price that any other magician – myself included – would ever want to pay, i.e. spending eighteen years on death row for a crime he did not commit.

Whereas most would-be occultists might want to cast spells for money, sex, power, and all the rest, Damien has been using his magickal skills for the considerably less frivolous ends of avoiding being executed; preserving his life, health and sanity; winning his eventual freedom; and coping with severe PTSD after having been released.

The blurb of this book describes Damien as having been initiated into a lineage of Zen Buddhism whilst incarcerated: however, almost none of this comes across in the present book. Instead, what we have is a number of Hermetic techniques, mostly drawn from the Golden Dawn, with a smattering of Franz Bardon thrown in for good measure.

Thus, what we get is: a number of Chi-techniques (thus placing Damien squarely within the Energy Model of magick). This at least shows original thought not present other books on magick. He goes on to give his own take on some well-known techniques of magick such as the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (sophisticated by the addition of Metatron and Sandalphon in “the column”), as well as the Middle Pillar Ritual. He proposes the Lesser Invoking Ritual as a replacement for the Golden Dawn’s Supreme Ritual, whilst describing practical techniques of creating thoughtforms, charging amulets and talismans, the magick use of tattoos, and intriguing thoughts on urban shamanism.

Most of the practical techniques function at the same level as “Neophyte” in the Golden Dawn. Hence a complete beginner to magick might profit from reading this book.

HOWEVER – and this is the biggest fault of the book – it lacks any kind of Bibliography or suggested reading list. So if complete beginners are indeed the book’s intended target audience, and they wanted to know where to go to find out more (as one naturally would), they would not find such information here. This is especially frustrating as Damien constantly mentions advanced concepts such as the Qabalah, the Holy Guardian Angel, Evocation, etc without giving further explanation. (A book such as Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magick, or John Michael Greer’s Circles of Power would serve better in this respect.)


High Magick: A Guide to the Spiritual Practices That Save My Life on Death Row by Damien Echols is available from Amazon in Hardback or on Kindle.

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