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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Getting Started with Sorcery

I’ve seen a couple threads in which people asked what you’d recommend people study, what skills you’d recommend people develop, and what books you’d recommend people read if they want to become sorcerers. Psychology often dominates, with some philosophy, mythology, anthropology and general fringe thought thrown in. Someone recently suggested UFOs and cryptids. Magic is oddly rarely the focus. In some of the cases where it is…it’s really random or bad books being recommended, or modern books of magic that approach magic as mysticism and psychology.

A lot – not all; of the above-mentioned subjects are good for magicians and sorcerers to study. Most of them are not what people need in the beginning. You can become a fairly successful sorcerer without those subjects. Psychology can help you understand yourself and other people, philosophy can help you learn to frame ideas, mythology, folklore, history and anthropology can give you access to deeper resources to understand more magical techniques and approaches. The main thing you need those is magic. These other disciplines won’t teach you magic, they won’t make you a sorcerer, but they are useful in support of sorcery.

So, if you want to get started with sorcery, and become good at magic, what should be in your library?

Books On Sorcery and Magic

These books are going to be our baseline. These will help instruct you in magic. You can use these and that can get you where you want to go. Go through all of these.

The Sorcerer’s Secret’s – Jason Miller
Charms Spells and Formulas – Ray Malborough
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic – Catherine Yronwode
The Sporting Life – Charles Porterfield
Old Style Conjure – Starr Casas  
Quimbanda – Danilo Coppini
Secret of the Psalms – Godfrey Selig
Living Spirits – BJ Swain

Notes regarding some of the books in this section will be provided in the end.

Establishing a Conjuration Practice

Conjuration doesn’t necessarily need to be a part of a sorcerer’s arsenal, but it can be a useful addition, and one which is popular these days.

The two books I’m going to recommend for beginning that process both present easy streamlined approaches but each with a slightly different focus. Both allow you to dive right in. You could try one or the other or both. Both work on simplified approaches to conjuring planetary angels and can be adapted to other spirits.

Seven Spheres – Rufus Opus

Seven Spheres should be your choice if you want to use conjuration work as a way of magically initiating yourself and introducing yourself to occult powers to expand your magic.

Luminarium – BJ Swain

Luminarium focuses on using conjuration for practical purposes and presents magical and sorcery techniques to prepare for conjuration and examples for using conjuration to augment a practice of practical sorcery.

Grimoires and Magical Working Books

You don’t necessarily need these but if you want to expand into the arena of conjuration or using a grimoire system here are some options. Some of these will also have spell options and inspirations in addition to what we typically think of as grimoire work. You could pick one of these or a handful or none. There are others out there two, but if I was going to pick from a limited selection it would be one of these.

The Fourth Book of OccultPhilosophy (for the Heptameron and the Arbatel)

Folk Magic, Cunning Work, and Inspiration for Spells and Magical Workings

Traditional collections containing magical spells and folklore are a must. Again, you don’t need all of these, pick the ones that speak to you.

Svartkonstbocker - Thomas K. Johnson
The Black Books of Elverum - Mary S. Rustad
The Long-Lost Friend - Daniel Harms
Angels Demons & Spirits - Daniel Harms
The Book of Saint Cyprian - Jose Leitao 
The Greek Magical Papyri - Hans Deiter Betz
Ancient Christian Magic - Marvin Meyer


Some method of divination is a must, and unfortunately divination is mostly something I’ve picked up as hodge podge catch as catch can kind of info since I was a small child, so it’s not something I focus on book-wise. So, I don’t have a ton of recommendations

The Book of Saint Cyprian – includes info on cartomancy
Cypriana: Old World – Jake Stratton-Kent has an essay included on Cyprianic cartomancy
Marseille Tarot – Camelia Elias


Malborough – I’ve seen people question some of the recipes in this book, but I’ve also seen people praise it. At a minimum it is a good introduction to the ideas and techniques and provides correspondences to use.

Yronwoode – Cat Yronwoode has been the basis of spreading the popularity of Hoodoo amongst magical practitioners today, there are some similar mixed views about her work and products but she collects a vast amount of sources and most visible Hoodoo practitioners are influenced by it.

Porterfield – Dr. Porterfield is a popular practitioner and teacher. There is some jarring appropriative use of “slang” and “lingo” in The Sporting Life. The recipes and techniques are worth it if you just skim past the attempt to establish a cultural setting for the book.

Casas -  Starr Casas is popular with a lot of very good magicians, but like most of the Hoodoo writers there is debate about her work. In my opinion the debate seems to be largely surrounding her being white more than it is about the quality of her content. There is a strange disconnect when reading because the way she talks about black ancestors and heritage it seems like she’s talking about her own ancestors and heritage, but I don’t know anything about her history or her family’s history in order to have any real judgment or comment on that.

Coppini – There are a lot of approaches to Quimbanda and debate on which sources present authentic forms. This book is not recommended with the intent of suggesting people pick up Quimbanda as a practice but the approaches, explanations, and techniques described can greatly aid in deepening and expanding a practice of spiritous sorcery.

Swain – my book will provide history, context, and a worldview which will add to the work you’re doing with these other books, in addition to explaining techniques and approaches. It will also give the grounding needed for some of the spirit work involved in the other books recommended in other sections.

Long Lost Friend - There is a lot of folklore that is not expressly magic in this.

Arthur Gauntlet - The transcriber elected not to include a table of contents and so the book is difficult to use for practical purposes

There are other books that might have made the cut that I just haven't had a chance to explore. Notably, Mallorie Vadouise's Honoring Your Ancestors, and Gordon White's Chaos Protocols and Pieces of Eight, or Aidan Wachter's Six Ways. They all have great reputations I just haven't read them. Patrick Dunn's Orphic Hymns would probably be useful too just didn't fit one of the above categories. Jake Stratton-Kent's Encyclopedia Goetica series would also be a sort of magical approach to history which would be informative depending upon the direction in which you choose to go. 

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If you’re curious about starting conjuration pick up my new book – Luminarium: A Grimoire of Cunning Conjuration

If you want some help exploring the vast world of spirits check out my first book – Living Spirits: A Guide to Magic in a World of Spirits

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