Breaking the Rules of Magick: A Review [EDITED]

[EDIT: I’ve thought about this for a while now. (Actually I did divinations too.) In my opinion or suspicion Breaking the Rules of Magick must’ve been published as it now exists without sufficient consultation of the author. I think it probably does not reflect his true intentions for the finished book. It’s just too rough. —Hence my review was overharsh and should possibly not be viewed as reflecting Mr. Miel’s full intentions for the book. This error, provided I’m right and an error has occurred, will hopefully be corrected ASAP. If Breaking the Rules of Magick was so good in a possibly flawed form, I keenly anticipate the final version. And so should you. I apologize to Mr. Miel for my enthusiastic but hopefully premature review. Please bear these words in mind when reading the review below.]

Whatever criticisms follow, remember that I view Breaking the Rules of Magick by Dante Miel as a cry — a war cry — from the heart and from the gut and the innards, the blood and the bones. It is a much  to be desired antivenin working against the hidebound, book-bound, rule bound nature of much of Western Occultism. Dante Miel even decries the dogmas of Chaos Magick (and they do exist) and the ridiculous notion of “belief shifting”. Intellectually and spiritually, many of today’s “big names” in magic and witchcraft and sorcery are trapped in prisons and systems of their own device. Thus they become prescriptive, they are quick to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. That that’s impossible because you haven’t received the proper initiations. Miel insists with vehemence and the utmost prejudice that such authorities are wrong. I do not agree with everything Dante Miel says, not by a long shot — I intend to break his rules too, as he in fact encourages those who would be utterly free to do. Despite the book’s flaws, despite wherever I disagree with the author, I love the spirit in which Breaking the Rules of Magick was written: the spirit of freedom, and of a heart and mind on fire with freedom.

First, Breaking the Rules of Magick is ragged around the edges and typo-riddled. None of the typographical errors impede the sense of the book, but they are many. The book is repetitive in places, sketchy in others. It needed the hand of a sympathetic and knowledgeable editor before publication, despite the fact that Miel states (perhaps on his FaceBook page, I’m sorry but I simply do not recall where) that the book was eleven years in the making. —Such an editor however probably does not exist, and that’s probably what accounts for the book’s roughness. Except for the typos, which are minor distractions, there is on the other hand something compelling and attractive about the roughness of this book. It reads as if you’d been handed by a warm but over-excited friend, who happens to be an adept, his very personal diatribe cum spellbook. Also as a work which rails against how-tos and is in fact titled Breaking the Rules of Magick., Miel could not with integrity present us yet another how-to and magical rule-book. That he does not do so accounts for the sketchiness, the vagueness found especially toward the end of the book. It’s also a mark of integrity. —The book is still very, very rough and ragged, despite its virtues.

Second, there are errors of fact. The most outstanding of these is Miel’s assertion that the Knights Templar were in the Congo in the 15th century, and that contact with the native sorceries of the region, in which the sacrifice of goats was in fact prominent, likely accounts for the pictorial appearance of Baphomet. In fact the Templars were finally and officially disbanded in A.D. 1312, while the Congo was first discovered by Europeans in 1482 by the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão, as stated by Nicolas de Mattos Frisvold in his Palo Mayombe: The Garden of Blood and Bones. According to Wikipedia (I admit, I used it as a source) many Templars did flee to Portugal while the remnants of the Order still possessed a few ships. No doubt a few of their descendants and heirs were amongst the slavers and the settlers in the Congo (which word then denominated a much huger area of Africa than the contemporary country Congo) were practitioners of magic and were influenced by Congo praxes and iconography. It’s more likely however that Portuguese who had nothing to do with the Templars or no memory of their Templar heritage were the one influenced by the sorceries of the Congo. There were after all a number of Creole kingdoms, which lasted for over two centuries, the elite among their populations neither accepted as Europeans nor as fully African, who were influenced by European witchcraft and the infamous grimoires, especially the Grimorium Verum. That the reverse process took place, that European sorcery and witchcraft was influenced by that of the Congo, cannot be doubted (Miel mentions the cauldron as an instance of this, a tool so prominent both in Congolese sorcery and European Traditional Witchcraft). —Still it was not the Templars who were so influenced nor who converted the Congolese kings to Christianity, as their demise was one hundred seventy years past when the Congo was first discovered, and thus Miel’s claim remains an egregious error of fact. —I go on at such length about it because the Templars are such a divisive and controversial topic to this day. (You might also note that even an error of Miel’s is so thought provoking.)

I don’t need to mention my own disagreements with Breaking the Rules of Magick. After all, I could be the one who’s wrong. And, as told, I myself plan to break the rules of Breaking the Rules…

So what can be so great about a book so riddled with flaws? This part of my review must perforce be personal. My lived experiences are — or used to be — my guideposts, and I’m no authority of any kind. Having strayed from my original path and onto a path so very much less satisfying because it’s so much less genuine and authentic, not originating from my heart but my head, I have no right to tell you what to think about this book. I can only tell you what I think and feel.

Simply put, Breaking the Rules of Magick is a trumpet blast to wake me up out of my stupor, to cease being so concerned and all a-dither with the rules and the how-to’s and the prescriptions contained in the magic books that I constantly read. Miel implores at my heart and soul to get out of the godsdamned house and back into the woods. His words beg and rail at my brain to get out there, re-engage with the Spirits — whom I met first by chance in the woods, who have attempted to initiate me into the ways of the Invisible Worlds, who taught me so much when I first began meeting Them and They gave me so many gifts and lessons, some of them beautiful and beatific, some of them hideous and terrifying — me, all inadvertently, an unbeliever, and at a comparatively late age. I in my own small way, like Austin Osman Spare (one magician whom Miel can and does praise), can truthfully say It was the straying that found the path direct. And Great thoughts — experiences, in my case — are against all doctrines of conformity. This is essentially the central message of Dante Miel’s Breaking the Rules of Magick. But I have become like the Hanged Man of the Tarot: I have for far too long seen the world upside down. I have become comparatively timid and afraid — oh Gods! the crazy, frightening, stupid and wise way that was once my way though… Miel’s book represents for me a chance to return to my roots, to my original path, without abandoning all that I’ve learned in the interim that just works, if only I heed his words. He has made me remember.

A very few samplings from his book will suffice now and will conclude this review.

The path I describe herein is not for the followers of anything.

Once certain doors are opened on this path, they can never be shut. Trying to merely ignore the fact that these door have been opened can result in unimaginable consequences.

Make no mistake. It is a very beautiful path, and it is a path that you can introduce yourself to…

Magic is very fluid. It flows through existence as easily as water over rocks and down a stream. It rolls like waves over the ocean of our experience. It whispers sweet secrets into our ears when we least expect it; awakening the muses of creation within us and expressing itself in our hearts and minds. It is the advent of a new horizon at the crest of a skyline that urges us to see beyond the horizon through new eyes. It propels us out beyond the stratosphere of our strongly held preconceptions forcing us all to see a glimpse of the other side. Magic is the dark new horizon that burns like a black flame with passion and substance. The mind is pried wide open, and our eyes pulled wide awake. Magic forces our consciousness to expand itself beyond the limits it has placed upon itself. This is a constant process and a cycle of self-renewal. Magic is the mystical ethos of the mind. It is the substance of creation and the motivating force behind manifestation. Magic is the metaphysical ether through which our intentions are manifested. It is all of these things and so much more…

Are you going to follow someone else’s path that they have lit up for themselves? Or are you going to veer away from them and carve your own path in life that you can light up for yourself? This the the path of the true self-empowered individual.

Apart from the flow of the book, these excerpts seem weak to me, compared to how Breaking the Rules of Magick reads as a whole. I cannot express it better than I have attempted to. If you don’t have a Nook, there is emulation software available. You can read this book without the proprietary Nook. I wish I could express the gist of this book better than I have. I recommend you read it for yourself.

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