This post will serve as a primer for studies in magick at the beginner level. This post will not replace study in magical systems, nor will it replace study in philosophical schools of thought. This post will, however, guide you on the right path to get you started in magick. It will also explain what magick is and is not, from my perspective. This post is dealing with “black” magick specifically, but can be applied to any shade of magick with some adjustments.
Preparing the Mind
First of all, one should not charge headfirst into anything one isn’t prepared for. Magick is something that requires a strong code of ethics and a hard and fast worldview. Therefore, it’s necessary for a magician to rid themselves of any unwanted or unfounded beliefs and/or values one may hold.
For most westerners, due to the huge Christian bias we have in our culture, the most practical way to neutralize the mind is through Satanism. Satanism can serve as a hugely freeing framework, due to its ability to help the individual rid themselves from worthless views and beliefs. Because of this, it can also work as a source of power for magick, due to its ability to cause catharsis and its hugely emotionally charged imagery. This can be quite helpful starting magicians, as you may find through experimentation. To be clear, I’m in no way saying that Satanism is only good for this part of the process, if the imagery is meaningful to you, by all means, stay a Satanist. Nor am I saying that everyone should be a Satanist at some point of the process, Satanism has just shown itself to be quite useful in this way.
For anyone who’s still in an “earlier phase”, meaning anyone who hasn’t gone through this process of elimination and stratification that I call the Satanic phase, I would suggest reading the Satanic Bible and the Satanic Rituals (obviously), as well as the works of Nietzsche (especially Anti-Christ) and various writings from Church of Satan members(former or active), such as Peter H. Gilmore, Nikolas Schreck, Boyd Rice and Anton LaVey (of course) as you see fit. There are a number of articles and other writings available on the Church of Satan website. I’d also suggest checking out some interviews, especially with Nikolas Schreck and Boyd Rice (the interviews with Bob Larson are actually quite good).
Building a framework
This is an important step in the initiatory process. It enables the magician to build a strong worldview that both protects and empowers the magician. Especially for former adherents of any of the dogmatic faiths (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.), due to the sheer amount of indoctrination involved in such worldviews. It’s paramount to thoroughly go through this step before moving to a more serious magical system. I can’t tell you exactly what to do here, because I can’t dictate to you what you should and shouldn’t believe, but Uncle Setnakt’s (Don Webb) reading list is one of the best starting points that I know of, mainly the first tier for this step. A good rule of thumb is to get a nice overview on all of the major subjects (philosophy, psychology, history, science… you can figure it out) and then move over to subjects you’re personally interested in.
Learning a magical system
Some left-hand path practitioners argue that a magician should pay no mind to any of the various systems out there, but I disagree. I think it’s important for a magician to be familiar with at least one (traditional) system. The main reasons for this are to in a way introduce the initiate to this world of thought and to give him something to build upon. A magical system allows the initiate to have some rituals to begin with (allowing the initiation process to move faster) and have something to contrast their own system with as well as help him learn the necessary skills to successfully work with any magical system (from meditation to mnemonics). To be clear (and fair to my adversaries) it’s quite necessary to ignore this acquired knowledge when it comes down to creating a system of your own. One should not be influenced (too much) by the works of others.
Popular choices for this type of system include: the Golden Dawn, Thelema (Crowley is appreciated in general), certain types of Hermeticism and even the Luciferianism of Michael W. Ford (a controversial figure, but I like his work to an extent, I suggest starting with Dragon of the Two Flames if interested). Some books to look into: The Seven Faces of Darkness, The Golden Dawn (Israel Regardie), The Left-Hand Path (Tapio Kotkavuori), Futhark: Handbook of Rune Magic, The Nine Doors of Midgard, something by Peter J. Carroll and Egyptian Magic (Wallace Budge). To sum up a list of authors: Crowley, Don Webb, Stephen E. Flowers (=Edred Thorsson), Lon Milo DuQuette, Israel Regardie (trying to be objective here) and Michael W. Ford. I would start out with those and see where that takes me (my thoughts here are processed through a Finnish perspective, but I tried to make this as wide as possible). Many of these have very good bibliographies, so those and your personal preferences should guide you further. (I suppose my Setian aspects are quite clear here, but I tried to be as objective as I could.)
These are the major steps in the starting of the process of initiation. This is a path most will choose not to walk. Many of those who step on it, will shortly abandon it. The path demands much of the initiate, one must be always working to achieve that which one most desires. If you are one of the few who wish to walk this path and stay on it, I welcome you as a brother. If you step on the path, but then choose to leave it, I respect you for your bravery and honesty, I don’t hold those on a different path to be inferior. If you through investigation choose to never step on the path and desire to pursue another path, this goes for you as well. However, if you condemn the path without trying it or researching it, you are worthless for me. You have the intellectual curiosity and tenacity of an earthworm. May all of your workings be futile.