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Review: Angels of Wrath by Gordon Winterfield

As promised in my previous post, here is my review of the second of two books from the Gallery of Magick which I have read recently. Angels of Wrath by Gordon Winterfield may be said to tackle the subject of what certain occultists on social media refer to as “Baneful Magick,” that is, the magick of cursing people, with death, injury, illness, or just unpleasant life circumstances.

But first I would like to digress – and address the subject of the Dark Fluff phenomenon.

Apparently this term was coined by Jake Stratton-Kent to refer to a trend in modern occultism which deals with dark themes such as demons, qlippoth, Satanism, Luciferianism, “the Adversarial Path,” etc etc etc, but which when subjected to critical analysis is found to be just as superficial as so-many badly written books by fluffy-bunny neo-pagans. Actually I wonder whether this is a generational thing? With the cooler, more serious – and older – occultists being cast in the role of Boomers, and the Dark Fluffsters playing the role of the Millenials?

But to return from my sub-digression to my digression. Whilst Jake Stratton-Kent was undoubtedly correct on the one hand, it would be a mistake to assume that it is a modern phenomenon. That is, if you go back through history, you will find “it was ever thus” – that Dark Fluffiness has always existed, not under that name, but as the idiot younger brother to serious occultism. Indeed, one of the worst perpetrators of Dark Fluffiness in modern times was in fact this man:

Arthur Edward Waite

J’accuse Arthur Edward Waite: perpetrator of Dark Fluff!

The evidence…

Yes indeed. Whilst to many Waite is responsible for pompous, ponderous texts which piously advocate mysticism whilst decrying magick, and which are so verbose one would think he was being paid by the line to write (I’ve seen some of his rituals which he had privately printed, so I can confirm he wrote that way for free!), yet he shamelessly and deliberately exploited the Dark Fluff phenomenon when he wrote The Book of Black Magic, in that he deliberately focused on the most lurid and notorious of the black magic grimoires. In so doing he managed to reinforce popular prejudice against ceremonial magick – and retard intelligent scholarship on it for almost a century!

Take for example the subject of making Pacts with spirits. In this book, Waite focusses on grimoires, such as the Grimoirum Verum, which imply that making Pacts necessarily involves selling your soul to a demon. Aleister Crowley, even though he never missed an opportunity to excoriate Waite on any other occasion, in writing himself about black magic unwittingly followed this trope without question – as did many other occultists of the twentieth century – because they knew no better.

We now know, however, thanks mainly to the research of people like Stephen Skinner and David Rankine, that there are and have been other grimoires which paint a much different picture – that a Pact is simply where you get an evoked spirit to agree that it recognizes the authority by which you have summoned it, and that it agrees to perform your instructions. The MSS for these grimoires were no more nor less accessible than those of which A E Waite made use when writing his Book of Black Magic, so why did he not refer to them at the time – to provide a more balanced view of the subject?

The answer can only be that lurid, sensational tales of Faustian pacts, satanic rites, and diabolical sorcery sell books, whilst works which are balanced and scholarly are, quite frankly, boring. Far from being the man of integrity as which Waite wanted to portray himself, he deliberately pandered to the salacious fascination of his readers, because he wanted to make money from his book. This is exactly the aesthetic for which Serious Occultists criticize the Dark Fluff movement!

There is a quite separate criticism of Dark Fluff, in that Supposedly Serious Occultists (to whom I shall refer as “SSOs” henceforth) claim that most of it is just made up. To which I would have to disagree. Some of Dark Fluff is not made up, but based on bona fide sources – it’s just presented in a manner which horrifies the SSO. So for example, people like E A Koetting – say what you will about his egregious marketing technique (e.g. like the fact that it’s egregious), but he does base much of his material on actual historical magick.

A large part of Dark Fluff is admittedly invented, but this is justified by the authors on the basis that is based on Chaos Magick, or their own magickal workings (and hence, UPG). The Simon Necronomicon is, of course, outright fiction, but is nevertheless defended by its supporters who claim that it works notwithstanding.

So for instance, “Angels of Wrath” – which was the original point of this blog post. It is a book intended for popular consumption, and it contains the influence of the author’s own methods of working which have little to do with the methods of the traditional SSO, instead aiming to get the reader able to practice the magick contained in the book as quickly and easily as possible. It is, however, based on some old kabbalistic sources, at least one of which, the Sepher Ha Razim, is reckoned to date to the fourth century AD, or almost contemporary with the Sepher Yetzirah. However, when looking at the Sepher Ha Razim, one quickly realizes that despite its kabbalistic background, it itself is a lurid sensationalist grimoire in its own right – in other words, it is a 1700 year old Dark Fluff book! However: one could just as easily take the view that it’s no more lurid or sensationalist as, say, the Greek Magical Papyri, or almost any other grimoire from any period in history.

One may therefore claim that Dark Fluff is not a new phenomenon, but may be defined as any (dark) magical practice which is literally Antithetical to the SSOs’ conventional wisdom at the time it is propagated. However, every good Hegelian ought to know what tends to happen “antitheses” eventually…

Incidentally, the Sepher Ha Razim demonstrates that in ancient times Angels were not looked upon as light fluffy beings at all. Kabbalistic Magicians did not have truck with Goetic spirits per se because actual Angels performed all the tasks of the Goetic spirits themselves! I have heard other Jewish sources speak ominously about Angels before (e.g. Z’ev Ben Shimon Halevi) so I wonder if the Angels-good/Demons-bad dichotomy is not a Judaeo-Christian idea at all but merely a Christian one: in other words, it’s not that one is good, the other bad, it’s that they’re all bad.

As to the book “Angels of Wrath” itself: I found that the preparatory exercise which the author proposes, “The Stillness,” to be an excellent meditation in its own right, very effective at inducing an altered state of consciousness, and possibly worth the price of the book by itself. However when it comes to the “baneful magick,” I run up against a problem. To my mind, the only way to ever get good at magick is to practice it repeatedly, and the kind of magick that is described in this book is not the kind that I want to practice even once. Hence this book would only be useful to a magician who is in constant fear for his or her life – e.g. because they live in a war-zone – or is a complete psychopath. Either that or they live in a third world country where the government positively encourages its citizens to defend themselves with deadly force – I suppose that with such a casual attitude to fire-arms, baneful magick must not seem so outrageous.

Angels of Wrath: Wield the Magick of Darkness with the Power of Light by Gordon Winterfield – available as a paperback on on Kindle from Amazon.

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Review: Mystical Words of Power by Damon Brand

Mystical Words of Power, by Damon Brand

This is the first of two books from the Gallery of Magick which I have read recently which I am going to review. Previous releases from the Gallery of Magick have been concerned with “low magick” – which despite appearances is not intended in a snobby way, but in the sense of mundane, everyday, material needs. I was therefore intrigued by the title of this book: Mystical Words of Power. Could high spiritual theurgy be seriously packaged in a book meant for mass consumption?

The blurb for “Mystical Words of Power” says:

Imagine using magick without any aim, desire or hope, without trying to solve problems, and seeking no gain. Imagine if this magick started to bring you all the things you want, and solved your problems.

This had me confused, as I first thought that magick without aim would not have a point to it. This turned out to be slightly misleading: it does have an aim – the aim is to improve one’s personal qualities – mental, intuitive, psychic or spiritual even – with the idea that good fortune will occur as a side-effect, or as an indirect result. The primary method by which it aims to achieve this is a series of recondite (from my point of view) techniques drawn from the Kabbalah.

Researching the derivation of these particular Kabbalistic techniques is a fascinating subject in itself, and has led me to adopt a new working hypothesis of the Kabbalah which could change the history of the Western Mystery Tradition. The previous or current paradigm is that the adoption of the Hermetic Qabalah is a legitimate and logical development from older versions of the Qabalah, which seems to be taken for granted by the pioneers of the late Victorian occult revival and traditions which derive therefrom. However, the new paradigm I propose is this:

From the time that the Kabbalah first became known amongst Gentiles – e.g. from the time of Pico Della Mirandola or earlier – it occurred to a number of Christians to attempt to Christianize it and hence weaponise it as a tool for the forcible conversion of Jews. Jewish Kabbalists, however, soon cottoned on to what was happening, and became deeply offended: they therefore decided – either by tacit agreement or just coincidence – to cease co-operation with Gentiles attempting to learn about the Kabbalah, and claim that everything about the Kabbalah had already been published – carefully denying the existence of any other Kabbalistic teachings. However, as time went on, Gentile occultists that gaps appeared when trying to use the Kabbalah as a workable system of ceremonial magick. Receiving no help from Jewish Kabbalists, they took the liberty of interpolating Hermetic teachings to fill the lacunae. Thus was born the Hermetic Qabalah. This state of affairs continued through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with people like MacGregor Mathers, Aleister Crowley, Paul Foster Case, Dion Fortune, etc all being none the wiser. In fact, many proponents of Hermetic Qabalah, instead of realising that the Hermetic elements were only late additions to the science, persisted in believing that they derived from ancient times, e.g. to Egypt or even to Atlantis.

The evidence which is now coming to light is that the knowledge required to fill the “gaps” had been in the unpublished and untranslated Kabbalah all along! However, because luminaries of the Western Mystery Tradition hadn’t heard of it, they had no idea it even existed! By “evidence” I am referring to books which have not been translated from Hebrew into English and published until comparatively recently, such as Shorshei Ha Shemot and Brit Menucha. (NB: although published these books are still very expensive to get hold of, so their full secrets may not be revealed for a few years yet).

Anyway, I digress. Back to “Mystical Words of Power.” I had a go at the rituals contained in this book, and I can confirm that when combined with meditation, they can indeed one into a deep spiritual state of consciousness. They gave me some insights which I personally found useful, although because they are subjective they wander into the territory of Unverifed Personal Gnosis, so I shall not say too much about them.

Mystical Words of Power: The Magick of The Heart, The Soul, and The Empowered Mind by Damon Brand. ISBN 1795382848 / 978-1795382847. Available in Paperback or on Kindle.

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Review: “Archangels of Magick,” by Damon Brand

I was surprised by how powerful the magick contained in this book actually was. I admit I have been wary of occultism contained in mass-market paperbacks, having had low opinions of Finbarr Books and Parker Publishing and the like. However: whilst reading this book, and especially examining the methods of invocation and evocation, I became convinced that the formulae which Damon Brand describes actually work. This may be because he describes them as being derived from “Shorshei Ha Shemot,” a very hard-to-come-by Qabalistic text, and other obscure tomes which only Masters of the Holy Name are said to be able to use.

In one sense I find it disturbing, because my first reaction is how can such potent magic be published in a book for public consumption? Is it not like giving babies nitro-glycerine with which to play? Nevertheless, me and a group of magicians have been adapting some of the rituals here for use in ceremonial magic, and to good effect. It also inspires me to go search out Shorshei Ha Shemot et al for deeper research, on the supposition that there is far more within the Hebrew Qabalah without having to go outside it to Hermeticism. Possibly not what Damon Brand intended, but for me it is a happy side-effect.

Archangels of Magick: Rituals for Prosperity, Healing, Love, Wisdom, Divination and Success by Damon Brand – available on Amazon.

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