Positive Magic: Occult Self-Help, by Marion Weinstein
sleeping wolf's rating:
I might buy it at a used book sale
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
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
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
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)
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
will likely get little use out of this book, however.