I have been asked many times what magicians do on a daily basis. My usual response is, "They go to school and go to work. They participate with their families. They go out and enjoy time with friends. And they do rituals." But that's only part of the story. Performing rituals is important for magicians, but so is study.
One of the difficulties with learning magick is that beginners often meet failure, even when they do everything they read in a book or were taught. The reason for this is the vast number of variables that can have an effect on a ritual. Everything from the weather to whether you are in a good mood can have an effect on the results of a ritual. The more a magician knows, the more he or she can apply to their magical work. So what do magicians study?
Some magicians read books of fiction and myth. Some seek new rituals to perform. I think that after you know the basics of rituals, it is of greater value to learn information you can use within them. Books with this type of information are magical references, and every magician should have several such books.
Reference Books You Should Have
One of the important aspects of magick is a technique of numerological equivalency known as gematria. The basic idea is that every letter has a numerological value, and words or phrases with the same value have some sort of relationship. In Sepher Sephiroth, Crowley gives a long list of words with their numerological equivalents. It's a wonderful dictionary of gematria.
A far superior resource, in my opinion, is David Godwin's book, Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia. It takes the concept of Sepher Sephiroth and vastly expands upon it. Let me give you an example of how it can be used to plan a ritual.
A basic form of numerology equates each English letter with a number like this:
So A, J, and S equal one while B, K, and T equal two. If you were doing a ritual for friendship, the letters of that word equal 6 + 9 + 9 + 5 + 5 + 4 + 1 +8 + 9 + 7, which totals sixty-three. Look up this number in Godwin's book and you'll find it is related to the ancient Philistine fish god, Dagon. Double the number and you get the deity Keveq, the thirty-fifth name of the famous Shem Hamphorash. Double that and you get the name Naberius, one of the spirits of the Goetia. So if you are doing a ritual for friendship, you get the names of three entities you could work with. Should you work with any or all of them? That's up to you. But Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia is a valuable resource. It includes Sepher Sephiroth as an appendix.
Keys to Language and Magick
Language is one of the first things anyone learns, and it deeply influences the way they think throughout their lives. Therefore, to really understand the magick of any people, you need to be able to think in their language—or you need to have someone explain those inner thought processes to you.
That's why I'm so very pleased that two books are back in print, David Allen Hulse's The Eastern Mysteries and The Western Mysteries. Each book looks at the magic and spirituality of several cultures, using language as a key to understanding. The Western Mysteries focuses on Greek, Coptic, Runes, Latin, Enochian, and English. It also focuses on the Tarot as a key to Western magick. The Eastern Mysteries looks at Cuneiform, Hebrew, Arabic, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese. It also includes the entire I Ching. I know of no other books that go into as much detail on these topics. These two books are not brief summaries; they are large, in-depth studies that will provide you with information for decades of magical work. I consider them a must for serious magicians and should alert you to the fact that these two volumes have limited print runs, so you should get your copies right away.
Practical References from a Gentle Soul
Scott Cunningham was one of my best friends. For several years we shared a two-bedroom apartment in San Diego. He passed over to the Summerland on my birthday, March 28, in 1993.
One of the reasons I really respect Scott is because of his research. Some of you may realize that some writers include concepts that are "channeled," made up and untried. I saw Scott personally investigate an amazing number of herbs and stones. Our apartment was often crowded with the results of his rituals and magical practices.
He wrote two amazing resources on these subjects. They are based entirely on his investigations or research in classic and rare texts. The first is Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. It features the magical properties for over four hundred herbs. And if you're studying magical herbal formulas from various cultures, it includes a folk name cross-reference that makes this book a must for anyone using herbs in their magic (Scott didn't like using the "k" at the end of "magic," so you won't find that in his books). The second is Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic. It includes the magical uses for over one hundred crystals, gems, stones, and metals.