Enochian Vision Magick – Lon Milo DuQuette

Enochian Vision Magick: An Introduction and Practical Guide to the Magick of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley
Lon Milo DuQuette
Weiser/Red Wheel, 2008
262 pages

I think I must typify one of the target audiences for this book. I have no ceremonial background whatsoever, but I love getting at least a basic idea of paths other than mine. I start to fall asleep while reading Crowley and GD material, but I also don’t want to have to deal with overly fluffy, watered-down info. Here is a lovely compromise for getting a foot in the door with Enochian magick–or at least having an idea of what’s going on with all those angels.

As always, Lon Milo DuQuette has presented his information in an accessible, but solid manner. While it doesn’t have the amount of wit of the Chicken Qabalah, once again his writing has managed to help me understand a rather complex topic.

This isn’t just a book on theory, though the history of how Dee and Kelley obtained the Enochian system was appreciated for its context. Instead, DuQuette lays out what all those various charts and weird words are actually for, and then guides the reader through rituals to put them into practice. He draws heavily from the original materials, including some that have been unearthed since Crowley’s time, and I think many readers will appreciate all the sifting, organizing and slogging through primary texts that he’s done.

The really nice thing about this book, though, is that because he’s done such a good job of referencing these original items, and showing where they apply to the actual practices in the book. This means that if a reader wanted to trace things back to Dee and Kelley’s material, the road map is already in place. However, the text is also sufficient just for those who are curious, or who want to be able to practice but aren’t at a point where they’re going to dig through earlier material.

Five pawprints out of five.

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Return of the Bird Tribes – Ken Carey – March BBBR

Return of the Bird Tribes
Ken Carey
HarperSanFrancisco, 1988
252 pages

I bet you thought I forgot about this month’s Bargain Bin Book Review! Nope. I’ve just been pretty busy, but technically it *is* still March, and I do reserve the right to post the BBBR any time in the month. That being said, I will try to be a little earlier about it. But without further ado, here’s this month’s BBBR.

I was thrilled when I found this book on the bargain rack, since it was one that I’d been wanting to read for quite some time. I’d heard it was partly totemic, partly Otherkin-related, and so my curiosity was piqued.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the result. This is one of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of the New Age. The author claims to have channelled the entire work through communication with a “higher being” that watches over humanity, and is in fact one of a number of these higher beings. As is common among New Age channelling, the message is uber-positive, “love” and “peace” are thrown around like confetti, and the general message is “This generation is ever so special–time for you to realize your potential!”

Nowe, I have nothing against love, peace, and achieving one’s full potential as an individual and as part of a society. Gods know we need more of that. The problem is that this particular conveyance of that message is wrapped up in a bunch of cultural appropriation and seriously revisionist history. We have a Caucasian, New Age author supposedly channelling information about Native American cultures, everything from White Buffalo Calf Woman to Hiawatha and the Iroquois League (the entity he’s channelling supposedly was one of the main players at the forming of that treaty). It’s pretty much a cliche, and it’s a classic example of cultural appropriation. And, also in the style of the New Age, the channelling includes the idea that, prior to a point 2,500 years ago (conveniently at a time and place where we have no written history) the Native Americans were all peaceful and living in a virtual utopia–I’m surprised he didn’t try to claim they were all vegan. And all of human history has apparently been manipulated by these higher powers–apparently humans themselves can’t understand reality beyond a certain point; we have to have a higher spirit to help us.

Now, I have no issue with Unverified Personal Gnosis. However, it’s important to view any UPG, no matter how inspired, with constructive criticism. The fact that most of the material matches with New Age revisionist history rather than commonly accepted history should be cause, at the very least, for skeptical comparison. The entire work, though, is presented as genuine, without any critique or questioning whatsoever. No, it’s not romantic to analyze one’s meditations and question them. But it’s also not healthy to romanticize Native Americans as the “Noble Savages” while thousands are barely scraping by on reservations across the country.

This book would have been better off if the author had taken the results of his channelling efforts and distilled them into a direct critique of modern society, adding a grain of salt for good measure. He could have discussed the virtues of literal vs. metaphorical understanding of what he received. There are some good points in here, including the idea that a person can evolve beyond the basics of everyday life, and that the way we’re doing things now is a Bad Idea. However, they’re so wrapped up in apocalyptic fantasy, cultural appropriation and the basic assertion that we’re essentially being directed by higher powers (instead of by our own wills) that the lessons in here are all but lost in a sea of drek.

One and a half pawprints out of five.

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Earth Angels – Doreen Virtue

Earth Angels: A Pocket Guide for Incarnated Angels, Elementals, Starpeople, Walk-Ins, and Wizards
Doreen Virtue
Hay House, 2002
176 pages

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I picked this book up. I’d heard it was something kind of like Otherkin, but not using that term. I was a little leery when I saw that the author was a very popular, angels-are-all-sweetness-and-light New Age icon, but decided to give it a try anyway.

Talk about Otherkin Lite.

“Earth Angels” are basically people who are reincarnated “elementals” (read: therianthropes, elves and fae Otherkin), angels (read: angelkin), starpeople (read: aliens), Wise Ones (read: people who worked magic in a past life) and walk-ins. Okay, that’s not so very different from what a lot of Otherkin believe.

However, it’s how she explains the phenomenon of people who were not human in other lives that ruins the book for me. First off, the way you determine what type of “Earth Angel” you are is basically a 30-question “Are you like this? How about this?” quiz that would fit in perfectly on Quizilla–samples of questions are whether you’re overweight, if you dye your hair, if you’re of Celtic ancestry, whether you’re good at handling money or not, if you practice Reiki, or believe in magic. Supposedly these things tell you what type of Earth Angel you are (never mind that pretty much everything she asks about are things that are common among garden-variety humans, too).

Then, her information about each group is not only based on stereotyped behavior and belief patterns that are common among everyday humans as well as ‘kin, but it’s really, really, really white-light and saccharine. For example, she says that all incarnated elementals are major environmentalists, always happy (but prone to mood swings), and “physically robust”. And as far as the whole Wise Ones thing goes, a lot of it plays right into the Atlantean thing–the whole “Oh, magic isn’t for regular people–anyone who works magic must be at a higher vibrational level than everyone else!” thing as well as the Burning Times persecution complex. All walk-ins, on the other hand, supposedly walked in because they have some mission to fulfill.

And speaking of missions, according to this book, all Earth Angels are here for the purpose of Saving the World!

I don’t doubt that the author ran into a lot of people who, were they in the Otherkin community, would be considered Otherkin. However, this book shows a distinct lack of skepticism and self-questioning, things that are common in the Otherkin community. Instead, it tells readers exactly what they want to hear–“You love nature, so you must be an Incarnated Elemental!” or “You love helping people and often find yourself in codependent relationships–you must be an Incarnated Angel!” While the end of each chapter on specific types of Earth Angels does have some tips on how to counteract the negative aspects of being whatever you are, it’s assumed that by answering the spiffy little quiz at the beginning that you are an Earth Angel–there’s nothing on questioning yourself further, only how to fulfill your God-given mission!

If you think being other than human is a great way to feel special, feel free to pick this up. Otherwise, save your money.

One pawprint out of five.

Guardian Angels – Whitaker and Blanche – BBBR December 2006

Guardian Angels: Discover the World of Angels and How To Communicate With Your Guardian Angel
Hazel Whitaker and Cynthia Blanche
Barnes and Noble, 2000
80 pages

Well, here’s the very first Bargain Bin Book Review, straight from the clearance rack at Half Price Books! This is one of those cute little gift books that the major chain stores just adore. Less than 100 pages, hardcover, and full of bright pastel and shiny gold painted illustrations. In short, it’s a fairly typical New Age angel book, at least on first glance.

The authors did a pretty decent job of researching the history of angels, starting with angel lore in Zoroastrianism and later monotheistic religions, through Renaissance artwork and into today. Granted, they didn’t go into any great depth, but it was nice seeing a brief discussion on the angels associated with the various sephiroth on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.

Of course, the book does has plenty of fluff, too. The authors talk about faeries and devas in the same breath as angels, and paint them all with the same pink and sparkly brush. And although they do admit that angels (especially cherubs) weren’t always innocent, pretty things, they do persist in continuing to treat angels as innocent, pretty things.

The organization of the book is also lacking somewhat. The section on traditional angel magic seems to be out of place with its commands and controlling, surrounded by an angel love spell, how to talk to your guardian angel, and how to teach your children to talk to their guardian angels.

And, for the most part, there’s just no substance to it. It’s not even a 101 book. More like 001. Though I do have to give the authors credit for at least doing some research, and including their bibliography, which does have some good sources for the reader to check up on.

Overall, this is pretty much what you’d expect–a cute little gift book to give to an angel-obsessed New Age or Christian friend, but not something that serious magical practitioners or any sort would really be interested in.

Two glitter-encrusted pawprints out of five.

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