The Sorcerer’s Secrets: Strategies in Practical Magick – Jason Miller
New Page Books. 2009. 224pp. 9781601630599.
With his second book Jason Miller sets out to “provide a field guide for working with magick, not just a massive collection of every ceremony, spell, and trick that I know” (187) specifically regarding what he often phrases as real magick, and practical magick. I’d say he does a pretty good job of this, he doesn’t discount magick as a tool for growth and insight as spiritual beings, in fact he encourages it, but he also stresses it can cause real affects here and now (9). The style of magick he synthesizes is largely drawn from Ceremonial Magick (pre-Golden Dawn mainly), Tantra and Bön; so not surprisingly it is a system I took to it quite well and enjoyed.
In some ways the book contains what you see in a lot of introductory magickal books, breathing exercises, gazing exercises, theories about how our reality is divided/shaped, basic meditations. While a few exercises were interesting, nothing in this part is really that new to a magickal practitioner, after that though he starts getting into more uncommon stuff. An example is a meditation ritual combining a Tibetan Elemental system within the body and a Ceremonial Magick Godname, the ritual I found interesting not just because of the combination, but the elemental order is different than what I’ve learnt in both systems, though he explains quite interestingly why this order of the elements works.
He deals with the practical use of divination in order to help you plan your magickal acts. The chapters in the second section of the book all contain good information drawing on the systems I mentioned along with hoodoo, European folk magick and other things. The chapters aren’t just instructions on magick, but contain sets of questions for the sorcerers to consider in order to help them with their work, basic yet critical topics of thought for the sorcerer to use to be successful. Miller emphasizes “success in magick depends upon working the magickal and the mundane aspects of every situation” (92). He balances magick with life planning, of course this division is a touch artificial, and he concludes with a similar thought. “Though there is certainly a lot of classical magick in the book there is also a lot of information that isn’t typically thought of as magick. I want my readers to stop thinking in terms of what is magick and what is not, and instead start thinking in terms of what is successful and what is not” (207).
The book is written in an order I think would be conducive to someone just getting into magick, and is structured that new or seasoned with magick we can easily find what we need to work with. His style of writing is easy to follow, his tone is rational and humorous and I challenge anyone to read about his binding and expelling of people without laughing at his method (in a good way). An aspect I found enjoyable was his use of references, and encouraging people to research more into the topics. He provides a very simplified method of dealing with a Goetic Demon, but then suggests to the reader that if they like the system and the results to look into how it is traditionally done. There is also a section on working professionally as a sorcerer/magickian. This is a topic too few authors (or even practitioners) are willing to broach so it was refreshing to see it. As someone who has worked doing the “magickal odd job” it was nice to see it addressed and get another outlook.
Miller walks a fine line between tradition and innovation which is hard to do. He encourages creativity and personal creations, but stresses the necessity of research, experience and results. While I don’t know under what category I’d recommend this book to people, I definitely see myself recommending it. Also for those interested Jason Miller runs The Strategic Sorcery Blog which I’ve found a provoking and enjoyable read.