That Old 70’s and 80’s Magic

It’s the end of the year, which always spurs nostalgia and self-reflection. People are posting their top 10 books ever, top 10 of the year, most influential or inspirational people etc. I am extremely gratified to see my books and name listed a few times on these lists. In particular, I loved that Financial Sorcery was listed in someones list of best finance books.

Bro Moloch, put an interesting spin on the 10 book thing. He focused on what the 10 most influential occult books were at the beginning of his career. So with that in mind, and knowing that they are NOT the most influential overall, I made a similar list of 10 that made the most impact on my first two years of occult practice

1. The Magus by Francis Barrett. This is actually the first occult book I ever owned and bought it off a kid in my high school.
2. Modern Witches Spellbooks 1 and 2 by Sarah Lyddon Morrison: Helped me place spellcasting into context as far as real world application and modern life.
3. Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson: This is my original imprint an idea of what witchcraft really is. I still love it.
4. Man myth magic encyclopedia series: Opened a world of possibility from my high school library.
5. Magical formulary 1 and 2 by Herman Slater: Basics of Conjure Style magic.
6. Magical herbalism by Scott Cunningham. What can I say, it was my first intro to working with the green.
7. Modern Magic by Dinal Michael Kraig. The first book I ever worked from beginning to end. A good first training.
8. The Necronomicon. First stab at the planetary gates. I still gig it sometimes.
9. The Necronomicon Spellbook by Simon: Helped make the Marduk Names pretty damn easy. Was also good for putting the work in perspective.
10. Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft: Katheryn Paulson. Awesome cover. Contains a mix of conjurations from the Verum and Grand Grimoire that I was able to use with some success.

Nick Farrell had commented that it gets too embarrasing though at the beginning when you have no concept what is good and bad. I understand the comment. A few of the books above are reviled by the community at large. The Modern Witches Spellbooks, Mastering Witchcraft, and the Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft are hated by Wiccans for presenting a Witchcraft that is decidedly different than what they are trying to present. Mastering Witchcraft has found some traction among traditional Witches these days, but the other two are written off as crappy spell books.

I could add a few more books to the list from back then: Helping Yourself with White Witchcraft by Al Manning, Mystic grimoire by Frater Malak, etc. These were often cheesy presentations with obviously made up stories about the successes of each spell. But here is the thing: they presented a magic that differed from the rest of the pack in three respects:

1. They were simple, idiotic in some cases.
2. It was something that I could do with very little effort and on a high schoolers budget.
3. The spells were aimed at changing external events and other peoples behavior, not at purely mental or spiritual changes, and not at worship or religion.

Best of all, they worked. Not all the time, and not always in the way I hoped, but they worked about 80% of the time. When I later worked my way through Modern Magic, Initiation Into Hermetics, Crowley, and all the other stuff that people take more seriously I already had firmly established the knowledge that magic worked in the real world, and that I could do it without all the complexity and training. Learning and training made me better at what I do, but without those original experiences I would have lacked the certainty that external events and minds other than my own could be touched by magic.

So, really, I am not embarrassed at all. I still love those books. What books influenced you in your early years?

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15 Responses to That Old 70’s and 80’s Magic

  1. Kem says:

    Which three out of 10 should I buy right now (except Kraig which I have)?

  2. Ah, this takes me back. Love this idea.

  3. Pingback: Book List Meme | The Crossroads Companion

  4. Bruce Kroeze says:

    Interesting challenge!

    1) Spiral Dance – Starhawk
    2) Drawing Down the Moon – Margot Adler
    3) Enochian Magick – Schueler
    4) Magick in Theory and Practice – Crowley
    5) Liber Al – Crowley (I felt so *naughty* reading that, even more so than the Wiccan texts)
    6) Modern Magick – Donald Michael Kraig
    7) Mind Games – by I forget, it was a bunch of group pathworking rites
    8) Carlos Castaneda books
    9) A course I signed up to with a native american shaman, can’t remember the name
    10) Prometheus Rising – R.A. Wilson

    • Anna H. says:

      Mind Games was by Robert Masters and Jean Houston and is reportedly the inspiration for John Lennon’s song of the same name.

  5. Diotima says:

    I had to laugh reading what you said about not being embarrassed, when I recall that my first introduction to Tibetan Buddhism back in the early 70s was…wait for it…Lobsang Rampa. I know, I know. :-) But his books did pique my interest and triggered some past life memories, and a few comparative religion classes in college raised my awareness and led to more appropriate reading on the topic.

    I recall Mastering Witchcraft well — still have my copy. It was one of the books my first priestess had on her required reading list years later, in the mid-80s, along with Manning and Slater and Morrison. It was quite well-thought of back then.

  6. Frater Benedict says:

    My reading habits in the occult field (in a wide sense), during secondary education in the 80’s, is in retrospect a very embarrassing list, indeed (Here in chronological order until I matured):
    1) Jörgen Peterzén: Magi: En resa i myt och verklighet
    2) Peter Cornell: Den hemliga källan: Om initiationsmönster i konst, litteratur och politik
    3) Poul Fersling: Naturligt – övernaturligt
    4) F. D. Graves: The Windows of Tarot
    5) H.C. Agrippa: Occult Philosophy, Book 1 (tr. Willis F. Whitehead)
    6) Den svarta bibeln: sjätte och sjunde Mosebok
    7) Derek & Julia Parker: Astrologisk handbok
    8) Sven Linde: Sibyllans hemligheter
    9) R. G. Torrens: Den gyllene gryningen
    10) Eliphas Levi: Transcendental Magic, and Eliphas Levi: History of Magic

    Some of the titles are in Swedish.
    No. 1 is a collection of journalistic essays about magic in history: superficial, but broad enough to inform ignorant readers about what Calvicula Salomonis, Abbot Trithemius, Paracelsus, Eliphas Levi, Golden Dawn and Wicca are.

    No. 2 is actually quite good, and show how magic influenced Symbolist and Surrealist artists in France, but it belongs to a very different genre than a practical manual.

    No. 3 is a sort of popular dictionary about alternative religious movements, but does also contain very basic instruction about astrology, divination and meditation. I once noticed an interview with the founder of the Swedish LHP-order ‘Dragon Rouge’, Dr. Karlsson, in which he told the interviewer that this book was the first he read about occult topics, so I assume that it influenced teenagers of a certain generation, despite how different currents these persons went to explore later in life.

    Tarot decks and books were not mainstream in 80’s sceptic-and-rationalist Sweden, so I randomly stumbled on No. 4 and the Grimaud Etteilla Deck. The combination was less than optimal, to say the least. I have remedied it later.

    Tyson didn’t re-translate Agrippas Occult Philosophy until the early 90’s, so what was available was a reprint of Whitehead’s 19th century translation, but only of the first book.

    No. 6 was a Swedish translation of the so called ‘Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses’. This book is a part of the Swedish folk magic (klokskap, lövjeri or signeri) legacy.

    I do not know the original title of the Parker couple’s Astrology-book, but it contained diluted Post-Leo Astrology (although reasonably good when it came to the mathematical craftsmanship part of the subject). These were the days before Robert Zoller and John Frawley popularised Traditional Astrology.

    No. 8 is a pop-divinatory book of the earliest 20th century about oneiromancy, cartomancy, rudimentary astrology, and divination by coffee-grounds, wax and melted tin. The sort of book 1910’s housemaids used to buy, but I later realised that Linde quoted Paul Christian now and then. I still like cartomancy, but in a more sophisticated style than Linde’s.

    No. 9 is again a Swedish translation of an Anglophone original, but since I do not own the book any longer, I can’t check the original title. Its subject is Golden Dawn, and contain matters I actually put into some sort of use.

    When I look back, I realise that the books I read about Zen-inspired Christian meditation at the same time (Willis Jäger Style), during secondary education in the 80’s, have formed me much more than the newbie-occultist books on the list. If the list had contained an eleventh (or twelfth) book I should have mentioned Gershom Scholem’s ‘Kabbalah’, my first ‘real’ book about Esotericism.

  7. Christopher says:

    1. Path Notes of an American Ninja Master by Glenn Morris. It opened my eyes to the world of Chi Kung and esoteric martial arts and unlike most books is filled with humor and wit. :)

  8. Lonnie says:

    Let’s take a stroll down memory lane …

    My first foray into our wonderful world of the Occult happened when I was 15. Was that really 21 years ago? Ouch. What hurts more? Confessing the first book that formed this demented and beautiful mind was none other than Celtic Magic by D.J. Conway. It had a great cover, but the content is dreadful. I didn’t know any better.

    Books 2 and 3 were a step in the right direction, but still too much about religion. I present to you …Wicca For The Solitary Praticioner, and Living Wicca by Scott Cunnigham.

    My 16th birthday introduced me to some new friends getting their hands dirty. I had the Magus by Francis Barret, but it didn’t move me. The Ceremonial Hermetic material still doesn’t move me.

    The Satanic Bible and The Necronomicon were the books that got my blood moving. They were the first two that got me really excited. They were also the first with material that got me results …probably because they got excited me.

    I came into my present current of thought and exploration at 17. A friend of mine in The Golden Dawn gave me Liber Null and Psychonaut for my 17th birthday. He called it disgusting, strange, and arrogant. So he thought I would love it. He was right!

    That was also the year I got my hands on Futhark by Edred Thorsson. Chaos Magic and Runes at the impressionable age of 17.

    I was a broke kid. I had a lot of others piling up that we acquired through not so honest methods. Most of them went unread or unfinished. The ones I listed were the real influences on my young mind.

  9. Anna Greenflame says:

    I still like the books that were formative to me, even if I’ve absorbed what they taught me and moved on. But that’s just me: I still like the music, fashion, and culture of my youth, despite having expanded my likes in those areas, too.


    (1) Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein. The first book, early ’90s, to tell me that my thoughts and words, in alignment with the Divine, could change my life. And she was right. Her “Words of Power” are still powerful.

    (2) Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner. Actually, I’m one of, oh, two or three people on the face of the earth who do NOT like this book and never did – no offense to Cunningham, but even then I remembered thinking, surely there’s more to witchcraft than this? But it’s what was available, and I used it to crabble together my first circle-casting, in a public park in Geneva, Illinois, using a willow stick and a few items I’d brought with me on a business trip. The first time I ever felt magick, too. And it worked.

    (3) Awo Falokun Fatunmbi’s series of booklets on the Orishas. I let witchcraft go for many years and did other things. Coming back into Paganism, I encountered these, which beautifully articulate theology that can apply to many forms of Paganism.

    (4) Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson. This book felt like the Real Deal.

    (5) Not a book, but Robin Artisson’s “Meadows of Elfhame” original website. The Ancestors lead me there, and it transformed my and my husband’s practice. First time we encountered “traditional” witchcraft in the Cochrane vein.

    (6) A Witches’ Bible by the Farrars. Stewart Farrar was such a gifted writer, and it had much more real magick than so many other books on Wiccan-style witchcraft.

    (7) The Living World of Faery by R. J. Stewart. Rocked my world and led me to his Underworld Initiation and several other of his books, and then books by John and Caitlyn Matthews, and much more.

    (8) The Tree of Life by Israel Regardie. First introduction to Kaballah.

    (9) One of Silver Ravenwolf’s little spellbooks. Can’t remember which one, but it was a decent “recipe book” and taught me a lot about how to “cook.”

    (10) The New Encyclopedia of the Occult by John Michael Greer. I’m a compulsive encyclopedia reader, and his short entries on people I’d never heard of, such as Paschal Beverly Randolph and Anna Kingsford, enticed me into exploring areas of magick that I’m investigating.

  10. Lacerti says:

    1-“The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield
    Not really magic-related, but it was the book that opened my awareness to the reality of subtle forces surrounding us. I was around 14 at the time.

    2-“21 Lessons of Merlyn” by Douglas Monroe
    3-“Dancing with Dragons” by DJ Conway
    These two volumes began my path in magic when I was 16. I still remember coming across them on a shelf in a bookstore. I was so excited to learn that magic could be REAL.

    4-“Earth Power” and “Earth, Air, Fire and Water” by Scott Cunningham
    Nature magic and druidism ruled my paradigm of what true magic is for the longest time, but I loved these books for the simplicity of the workings presented therein.

    5-the Llewellyn annual almanacs
    I loved reading about different perspectives and styles of practicing magic. Looking back, though, most of the articles were written in some style of Wicca or another, which suited me just fine at the time. I had grown wary of the Golden Dawn and ceremonial magic in general, naively believing them to be cults. My young impressionable mind was no-doubt influenced by the media and that whole Hale-Bopp/Heaven’s Gate incident.

    6-“Grimoire of Shadows” by Ed Fitch
    My original copy was lost but I bought another one just to have access to the last 50 pages of the 230 page tome. The book teaches the rituals used by some Gardenarian Wiccans, which never really resonated with me, but the last section is on magical training and eventually lead me to Franz Bardon’s works. As it turned out, the training presented is a modified version of Initiation Into Hermetics.

    7-“Initiation Into Hermetics” by Franz Bardon
    Still my favorite book for magical development, though I’ll admit its long process and a few tedious exercises have kind of turned me off from fully working through the program. I still hope some day I can muster up the discipline to follow through, as I hear it’s very rewarding. Originally I read it online but I now have a physical copy to call my own, along with his “Practice of Magical Evocation”.

    8-Robert Bruce’s Treatise On Astral Projection
    This was circulating for free (and legally) online when the internet was still very much in its infancy.

    9-Necronomicon by Simon
    Something else I downloaded. I only bothered to read the Mad Arab’s testimonies and got so scared I deleted it immediately. A couple of years ago I bought a copy and read it cover to cover. Like my fear of the Golden Dawn, my fear of the Necronomicon was unfounded. I regret having been so cowardly.

    10-“The Magician’s Workbook” by Donald Tyson
    Not among my first books, but I still considered myself new in the subject when I got a hold of this book in the early 2000’s. It had been a few years since I had practiced anything seriously and it seemed a safe way to dip my toes into ceremonial magic. Awesome book. It rekindled my interest in the occult and opened the doors to styles of magic I was too cowardly to explore in my teens. This book is the reason I continue to practice and expand my knowledge on the subject.

  11. 1. Self Suggestion – Max Freedom Long
    2. The Spiral Dance – Starthawk
    3. Drawing Down The Moon – Margot Adler
    4. Rune Games – Ostrander & Longland
    5. Liber Null & Psychonaut – Peter J. Carroll
    6. SSOTBME – Ramsey Dukes
    7. Earth Power – Scott Cunningham
    8. Mastering Witchcraft- Paul Huson
    9. The Book of Results – Ray Sherwin
    10. Stealing the Fire From Heaven – Stephen Mace

  12. Stone Dog says:

    Let’s play then. My early years were the 90s though, LOL

    In chronological order:

    1 – Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier – The Morning of the Magicians

    2 – Malcolm Godwin – The Lucid Dreamer

    3 – Michael Talbot The Holographic Universe

    4 – Draja Mickaharic – The Practice of Magic & Magic Simplified

    There were of course many, many others, but these are my milestones, my phase-defining titles.

    (1) showed me for the first time how highly debatable mainstream science/worldview was; it showed me that some grown-ups would challenge it too (I must have been 12-13)

    (2) was one of the most influential books of my teenage years. For the first time, someone was showing me that not only were there strange worlds waiting to be explored, abilities to be developed, but there could actually be a METHOD to this.

    (3) is the single most important book in my personal history of looking for answers and ways to do things different from the ones defined as possible from the authorities (school, university, religion..).
    I was in my early twenties, about ten years ago.
    This book took everything I ever read or heard about the paranormal and put it in a new, enlightening perspective. It was a treasury of inspiration and information. This was the book that led me to Swedenborg, astral travel, remote-viewing, near-death experiences, and even to Henry Corbin and his Spiritual Body, Celestial Earth.
    Perhaps more mysticism than magic, but it slammed open the gates of my acceptance, it allowed me to believe, to dream wildly. If THESE things are possible, I thought, well THEN…

    (4) When I finally got around to actually experiment magic, I was already very much aware of how diverse, confused, and potentially dispersive the literature was. I was looking for a book that would give me the basics and that I could take as a starting point to further explore the field. Mickaharic’s “Practice” did a great job at that, and “Magic Simplified” gave me what I craved most: not recipes, but regimens. It was not about spells; it was about the abilities required to cast them.
    It was Mickaharic’s books that showed me that an eclectic approach would not only be possible but actually more practical and effective than any of the more narrow approaches by themselves.

    Next step up was Jason’s Strategic Sorcery, which I sense will keep me interested for a looong time.

  13. M.G. says:

    1) The Bible – I no longer identify as Jewish, but I went to a religious day school. Gematria was part of the daily instruction, as was a very Bibliocentric belief in quite literal Divine Intervention leavened by a fairly practical worldly attitude cognizant of life’s inequities.

    2) Prometheus Rising – Honestly, a lot of Robert Anton Wilson’s writing seems a bit simplistic to me now, even like stoned ravings, but this was a great starter book which taught me a decent beginner’s paradigm for understanding the occult in a witty, informed way.

    3) Path Notes of An American Ninja Master – Glen Morris had a huge ego, no doubt about that, and certainly loved swinging his kundalini prowess around, often in badly informed ways – anyone who’s actually ‘opened’ the kundalini can tell you that its not synonymous with Buddhist enlightenment, Morris’s claims notwithstanding. Those little caveats aside, this is a fun read about the fruits of advanced energy work which certainly piqued my youthful curiosity.

    4) The Cult of Tara – Pretty decent information about Buddhist Tantra and its occult side.

    5) Liber Null and Psychonaut – I now think Peter Carroll is wrong about almost everything, but in consistently interesting ways.

    6) Modern Magick – Good workbook if you like the Western Ceremonial approach.

    7) Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic – One could probably use this as one’s only grimoire and do OK.

    8) The Merlin Tarot – I found this lying around in a laundromat when I was a student and it led me to take a serious interest in the occult. There’s a million tarots and I’m sure many are great, but this one started me on the path.

    9) Secrets of Western Tantra – Has nothing to do with Tantra, and I don’t remember any secrets in it. I found Hyatt’s writing style pretty adolescent even when I was barely out of adolescence. That said, I picked up a copy of this book a few weeks after finding the Merlin Tarot and encountering Robert Anton Wilson, and I spent over a year diligently practicing the breathing exercises therein, which are quite effective, almost drug-like in their ability to induce altered states and release deep tensions.

    10) The Teachings of Don Juan – I read this in high school and came away thinking that if there was anything to occultism at all, it was basically just a matter of ascribing narratives to altered states and hallucinations. I then lost all interest in the topic for ten years or so. Just because something influenced me doesn’t mean that it helped me.

  14. Dakkel kur a says:

    Could you tell us or put together a video or article explaining in details your workings, insights and some context from your perspective of the Simon necronomicon. It has been quite an obsession but I’m still not sure what is set out to do, and how it cohesive whole fits the idea of spiritual liberation. The ancient ones, what are they, what they represent? Thanks for your time. You can write to me at afeliciano555@

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