Amber K,
True Magick: A Beginner's Guide
(Llewellyn, 1991)

There are many books on magick on the market today. The "k" added to the end of the word denotes the use of spiritual and natural energies as opposed to the sleight of hand of Doug Henning, et al. Most of the covers of these books look more appropriate for fantasy novels than for serious metaphysical study. This book is not very different with its cartoon art cover, but do not let that fool you. Inside is one of the best works on the topic that I have ever read.

Most authors in this genre spend a lot of time on long, questionable histories of Wicca, provide list after list of required tools and gimmicks, and focus more on the proper placement of the athame than its purpose. Unlike these, Amber K's book is a solid look at the topic that is fit for any religion and practitioner who is looking to make use of his or her natural talents. She covers the topic from the beginning with a definition of what magick is and is not. She also spends some time attempting to point out that magick is not a miracle cure, nor is it for those seeking power over anyone other than themselves. Not enough books, in my opinion, make sufficient effort in this area, but Amber covers it very well.

She also covers choosing a teacher, learning with books and when paying a fee is appropriate. There is also a listing of many varieties of magickal systems that are in use today. Her descriptions are excellent, proving once again that short need not equal inadequate. She lists famous real and mythological magickans throughout time, followed by some very astute observations on their practices.

From this firm foundation, she moves smoothly into the area of how magick works. The theories are sound and well explained. Only then does she move into the preparation of the practitioner.

There are instructions on centering preparing oneself mentally and spiritually for the use of magick, but she also includes a section on taking responsibility for one's actions which is another all-too-often overlooked topic. Her preparations do not stop there. For total balance, she discusses the need for proper diet and exercise and the avoidance of addictive substances. Physical health is necessary, she states, for the best results.

Nor is she yet ready to let the reader go at it. She is still preparing her audience by explaining the techniques for raising energies, channeling them, and taking on a magick name to differentiate the practitioner from his or her mundane self. From here she moves back into theory.

At this point, she looks at death, change, and its connection to magick. All of her book is well written and enjoyable to read, but here she excels even her own fine standards. Her explanations are not only well thought-out and insightful, but they are also surprisingly balanced with the somber subject offset by humor that is subtle and appropriate.

Only then does she cover the topic of ritual and tools. She dispenses with the bells and whistles and gives definitions and explanations that are in-depth and comprehensive. She also covers what is really necessary and what is not.

At this point, she looks at ritual. Her coverage is commendable as is her handling of magick. It is only in this chapter, over halfway through the book, that she approaches the subject of the beginner using magick. This makes her not only a thorough teacher, but also a highly ethical one. If only all writers took as much care with preparing their audiences, there would be a lot less misinformation and confusion concerning the topic of magick use.

It is after this chapter that she includes a short listing of spells that are sensible and ethical. She emphasizes the need to personalize the spell instead of simply following a recipe. Nor does she make fantastic claims for instant love and great riches that many charlatans have made. As a matter of fact, ethics are high on her list of priorities. She covers not only the need to harm none and why, but she also looks intently at the dangers involved in the mishandling of magick to the practitioner and others. Only after having provided the reader with all this information does she discuss learning magick from nature and the need for practice and experience.

This book is as highly recommended for the experienced practitioner as it is for the beginner. It explains in easy to understand terms the sometimes complicated theories that back the use of magick. It also warns the beginner not to make the mistakes so common to the first time users. Amber K's book should be the first one read on the subject and then reread again and again. Very few books are as solidly written and as valuable as this one.

[ by Debbie Gayle Rose ]

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