Review: Low Magick – Lon Milo DuQuette

Low Magick: It’s All In Your Head… You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is – Lon Milo DuQuette
Llewellyn. 2010. 206pp. 9780738719245.

“Stories are magick.” (1) With that simple idea Lon Milo DuQuette begins to draw the reader into another wacky, hilarious, and insightful journey of magick and life. I will be frank right off the bat and discuss my problems with this text. I spend a lot of time on public transit reading and this memoir had people on the bus eyeing me like I was a bit crazy. Lon is quite simply a funny guy and at many points in his stories I found myself laughing- sometimes at him, sometimes with him, sometimes because a crazy idea seemed too much like me. Unfortunately when someone suddenly breaks out laughing (especially if that laugh has a tinge of mad scientist to it) people in public don’t know what to do. If you don’t mind odd looks you can read this in public, otherwise read it at home.

The humour is a great drive in the book it helps keep the stories from being too serious and not being a dry biography. Sometimes the asides and comments are just so random and funny that I couldn’t help but laugh such as the mention of nachos and guacamole as “the fast-food favorite of California magicians whose wives are out of town.” (73) That line was right in the centre of a fascinating story of a ritual spanning a few days involving Lon, the Tarot of Ceremonial Magick, and the various spirits tied to the deck.

Now this memoir isn’t just a stroll down memory lane, there is “a great deal of theory and technical information within my nonchronological narratives.” (2) So there are stories, there are laughs, and there is actual information. What I enjoyed what not so much how Lon did certain rituals but his discussion of why he did certain rituals and why he did them certain ways. When discussing a curse on a friend, rather than just using some standard ritual to undo it, or to just say what he did, Lon leads you into his head (and it is all in his head) to show why he decided to use A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the foundation to remove the curse.

Lon goes back and forth from discussing magick in a very traditional ceremonial sense and something more free form. The stories flow from Goetic demons to invoking Ganesha to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel,” from the Hermetic Rose Cross to gorging on quiche for astral adventures. The book covers so much in a great tone. On one hand Lon is confident about his experience and information but knows where his limitations are, and yet the book never has the tone of a magician who thinks too highly of himself. The book discusses success and failure, brilliant ideas and not-so-clever ones.

The title of the memoir is from an early work and it is a statement that I’ve seen people toss around both for and against DuQuette on various email lists and message boards. In this text he goes into more detail about it. “This is not to say, however, that I believe magick is purely psychological. What I am saying is there is more we don’t understand about the human mind than we do understand.” (133) In true DuQuette fairness he discusses this just before describing two stories where the magick and the results seem so removed from him that understanding it as being in his head is quite a challenge, even to him. Whether you agree or disagree with the idea, Lon does show through his experiences where his logic for this idea comes from. A strength of Lon’s writing is his ability to lead you into his understanding, so even if you disagree him you can understand why he thinks a certain way.

This is a hilarious book, filled with great insight into the world of magick, and into the head of one wise and wacky wizard.

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