Positive Magic: Occult Self-Help, by Marion Weinstein

sleeping wolf's rating: I might buy it at a used book sale.
Special note: The 1981 edition was reviewed. Changes may have been made in later editions fixing some of the problems, but I doubt all of them have been fixed.

This book wasn't bad so much as lacking in my eyes, and perhaps it all stems from the title and subtitle. If a book is about magic, I expect certain things, particularly a discussion of active techniques. While there was some discussion of such techniques in the form of Words of Power, it was left to the end of the book in favor of divination. Astrology, Tarot, and the I Ching all find a place in this book, in chapters that treat them in an introductory fashion. The Words of Power (in this case, a form of affirmations rather than barbarous names) section is excellent, but it glosses over the (or perhaps her might be a better word) theory behind it.

Chapter 3, The Ten-Foot Pole department was a good thing to include, discussing the ethical and danger factor concerns that seem to be glossed over in many beginner-oriented books. But, I still felt this section was flawed. I will agree that not all branches of magical practice are well-advised, but her comments on Goetia seem to be based on only the most cursory glance at it. In a fluffy bunny manner, she seems to shun darkness of any sort -- those who follow the left hand path are evil in her eyes, while witchcraft is of the right hand path persuasion, because nature is all sweetness and light.

I also had an issue with her treatment of payment for services rendered. She says it's ok to pay $50-$100 for an astrological consultation, and never mentions learning how to do it yourself, but says it's best not to pay for a Tarot reading. The taste left in my mouth about why one should pay an astrologer rather than learn how to do it oneself was "Math is hard." Admittedly, her attitude is reflective of the Pagan community's dislike for involving money in things mystical (as long as they're intangible).

She also makes some claims that seem a bit leaky to my perspective. She repeats the claim that Wicca is a continuation of an ancient religion (which I would hope has been revised since the edition I read). Also, the text seems to have a Pollyanna view that the Aquarian Age (which we should be in now) will be a time that fixes everything. Second Law of Thermodynamics, anyone?

Despite the flaws, this book is a reasonable introductory book, especially for someone who might get the oogies with a book that examines actual ritual. This makes it a good book to show other people, since it is as inoffensive to mainstream sensibilities as a book on this topic is likely to get. Those with good ethical compasses and some experience in the occult will likely get little use out of this book, however.

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