An Enchanted Life – Patricia Telesco – May BBBR

An Enchanted Life: An Adept’s Guide to Masterful Magick
Patricia Telesco
New Page, 2002
224 pages

This is one of a number of books that have come out in recent years that have attempted to break beyond the paganism/magic 101 barrier. Rather than giving all the answers, Telesco instead works to give the reader a lot to think about–something that’s exceptionally important when moving beyond the basics.

There are dozens of incredibly useful exercises in the book. Some involve self-questioning and reflection; others provide the reader lessons in shifting perceptions. They’re much more in-depth than yet another pile of precrafted spells and rituals, and the reader who makes use of them won’t be disappointed. The first two chapters of the book deal mainly with perceptions and awareness, as well as working more with all five senses, not just sight, our primary sense.

The rest of the book is dedicated to four different archetypes–the Healer, the Teacher, the Warrior and the Visionary. Now, this is just a personal preference, but I’m not really fond of directing people towards specific roles. While I understand the reasoning behind promoting archetypes as templates of the self, the problem is that people have a tendency to lock themselves firmly into those archetypes, newbies especially. I think, perhaps, it would be wiser to offer up archetypes, but then encourage the reader to learn to take them all on, rather than sticking with whatever “element” or “role’ they feel they fit the most. IMO, the more advanced you get, the more adaptable you may need to be (even as you may have your specialties).

I wouldn’t call this an advanced text; rather, it’s intermediate-right-after-the-basics. It’s the kind of book you give to a person when they’re just beginning to branch out from learning about the Sabbats, and correspondences, and some of the more common deities and spirits. Despite my qualms about the archetypes, I do think it’s a great text for bridging the way between basic and intermediate magical work, and the wealth of information and exercises in the text is the real strength of this book.

Four pawprints out of five.

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Mercury Champagne – Dan Goodrich

Mercury Champagne
Dan Goodrich
Erie Harbor Productions
280 pages

I do like a good occult-themed novel. I gotta say, though, that this one’s a little on the weird side. Okay, a lot on the weird side–and that’s something, coming from yours truly! This one brings in slipping through multiple layers of reality, Jack Kerouac, and the magic of cigarettes and booze. In other words, not your average novel.

The book starts off with as much disorientation as the main character, Ed Derringer, is feeling. Having lost his job and gone on a bender, he wakes up the next day to find that his world has suddenly gone very, very wrong. An “assurance agent”, John Stanford, just wants “a moment of his time” in return for giving him a ride home. And this is where the story stops being relatively straightforward, and get dropped somewhere between The Twilight zone and the Illuminatus! Trilogy.

For reasons unbeknownst to Ed–or the reader–reality shifts violently, and Ed is suddenly sputtering in a freezing cold ditch in very rural Canada. From this point on, the storyline reels like a carousel with a half-broken axis, trying desperately to gain balance again. Ed ends up in the company of a pair of sorcerors and the ghost of Kerouac, and dives into an alternate version of reality where a Moment and a Dream are the most crucial things a sorceror can work with–and John, the assurance agent, wants his Dream back at any cost, even Ed’s life.

It’s a bizarre hero’s journey, quite worth reading. Be aware that this book may be really tough to get into because the first third of it is incredibly strange, and the background information is lacking. However, hang in there–it’s well worth it. I will say that the book doesn’t make sense until the last fifty pages or so, which makes this a good book for re-reading later on. But it was sufficiently interesting to keep my attention all the way through the first read over a two-day period.

If you want an original novel and don’t mind feeling a bit shaken up as you go along, then Mercury Champagne is a good choice. Personally, I’m hoping for a sequel, because I really appreciated how Ed developed over the course of the book, and I’d love to see where he goes next–and I don’t say that about a lot of characters. Goodrich has created a modern mythology out of his world, and more exploration would be lovely. On the other hand, even as a standalone novel, this is a superb read.

Five pawprints out of five.

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