Back To Basics

I’m thinking I need to go back and learn some of the basics I skipped when first starting out with magic. Some of the stuff I don’t know — it’s too embarrassing to go into. So I want to choose a beginner’s book and learn and actually do all the exercises. But I don’t want to waste my time. (And lest anyone suggest it, Donald Michael Craig’s Modern Magick looks very much like a waste of time to me.)

I have Frater U∴D∴’s High Magic, originally titled Practical Magic in German, but that name was already taken by a movie here in America. Craig’s book just isn’t practical enough for what I actually need and already practice. Practical magic is what I need. And I’ve heard U∴D∴’s book is good. So that’s one choice.

Then there’s Initiation Into Hermetics by Franz Bardon. A friend, Jack Faust, tells me I need to read, learn and actually do everything in this book. But I’m wondering if it would be like skipping ahead. In other words, is it basic enough?

Are there other books that aren’t too expensive that folks would recommend? Those are all I actually own that might fit the bill.

I do have Liber Null & Psychonaut — it was actually the first magic book I ever bought — but I really did all or almost all the beginner’s exercises in the first part (believe it or not, I have to blink and just can’t stare at something for hours without blinking several hundred times), and there’s just not a lot of actual magic in there. A lot of rhetoric about Chaos Magick, but I don’t need rhetoric.


When I began learning magic I was in crisis mode. I’d met a few spirits, and they had all been nice, or at least neutral. I had learned without knowing what I was really doing to astral project and twice a week I went exploring the Astral. I limited myself to twice a week because it was so much fun I knew I could get addicted to it if I didn’t exercise some control. Everything was sweetness and light. Almost.

The very first spirit I met … I was meditating in the woods, back against a tree, and she seemed a beautiful woman in white. I was so deep in some trancelike state that I couldn’t even tell when my eyes were open and when they were closed — the woods looked exactly the same either way. And she held a star in her fingers and put it in my mouth and I swallowed it like a pill. Then she took my hands and I stood up and we danced… Whatever was in that “star” she gave me instantly and completely cured the serious bout of depression I was suffering through at the time. Meeting her and being healed by her also left me with the Sight, and I could See for about a year before the gift faded away. That was amazing, but it was also … just too much all at once. Spirits everywhere, strange things I have no names for appearing at the most awkward moments. I started experiencing overperception as child psychologists call it and feeling some heavy duty stress just from Seeing too much too soon all the time.

And then, finally, I met a spirit that wasn’t friendly at all. In fact it attacked me in the gut with sheer terror and showed me a wide array of full-blown paranormal phenomena. Ectomist, time dilation, distortion of space, etc., etc. It scared the crap out of me. But then a few days later I decided I wasn’t going to put up with any more of that shit, not from any spirit ever again, and that I would learn magic and how to defend myself. So I plunged in, all alone, and taught myself any magic that interested me for several years. Being self-taught like that is great — it gives you the opportunity to do things you’re not even supposed to be able to do, things you may never be able to accomplish again in fact, after beginner’s mind has grown jaded, but it invariably leaves gaps in your education.

I took Jason Miller’s Strategic Sorcery course, but, amazingly great as it is, in my opinion and my opinion only it’s best to come to that course already knowing some basics, and the course seems, to me, optimally designed for people who already belong to a magical tradition and want to add some of the most mind-blowing magic anywhere to their repertoire. —No. Full stop. Let me rephrase what I just said. I should merely say instead that I was the problem. I was basically clueless at the time, and Strategic Sorcery is just going to be over the head of the clueless.

I know other fellow students who were beginners and thoroughly enjoyed the course and had no trouble with most of the lessons. None seemed as clueless as I did though. Eventually I got somewhat clueful, and Strategic Sorcery is still the basis of my praxis to this day. I’m still returning to the fifty-two lessons again and again. Jason Miller’s course is the best bargain in the magical world.

Anyway, what I did after the genius loci or spirit of place attacked me was concentrate on defensive and offensive magic first. I’ve since picked up a lot (a whole lot, if I do say so myself), but still I have these woeful gaps in my knowledge, like any autodidact. I call myself an autodidact even though I’ve taken the Strategic Sorcery course over the Internet because, well, I took it over the Internet. I have had no face to face training whatsoever.

Comments? Suggestions? Any and all will be very welcome.

Much love. —Rachel Izabella


6 thoughts on “Back To Basics

  1. justin says:

    I am pretty much a newbie in magic, but Jospehine McCarthy’s
    “Magical Knowledge Book 1: Foundations” is one of the better beginner’s books I’ve read. The kindle edition is only 6 dollars.

    • Rachel Izabella says:

      Hi Justin! Thanks for visiting and commenting. I don’t own McCarthy’s book, but I hear it’s worthwhile. Frater Acher at has extensively reviewed her works, so if I can I’ll go back and more than just skim what he says about her work. One thing I do remember him saying is that McCarthy has a non-linear writing style, so it helps to get and read all three books. That they clarify each other. Alas I don’t think I have the $$$ for that right now.

      Please visit and comment often! Much love, Rachel Izabella

  2. Roi says:

    I got stuck with the same question that you had about Franz Bardon’s initiation into Hermetics.
    It is quite a practical book, but maybe the book’s title says it; because I would translate it that the ‘initiated’ are the beginners in any practice.

    My comment has clearly come at a very later time, so maybe you’ve already figured it out. But I’m just making effort to be of assistance, ‘coz I was researching when I came across this.

    Your post is very interesting, I must say.

  3. Adam Beld says:

    What did you think of Frater’s “High
    Magic” as a book for beginners?

    • Rachel Izabella says:

      Hi Adam — It’s a marvelous book for beginners! The only thing I wish he covered which he doesn’t is energy work. But Israel Regardie’s The Middle Pillar or the many works of the Taoist Mantak Chia can more than make up for that lack. Not to mention the innumerable books out there about chakras. One good one that I know of is Anodea Judith’s Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System. Yes it’s a Llewellyn book but Anodea Judith is a wonderful and wise author. Otherwise UD’s High Magic and High Magic II cover just about everything a magician needs to know, from the ground up. If you practice them I hope you get a lot out of them.

      Much love — Rachel Izabella

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