Six Ways: Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic
by Aidan Wachter
Red Temple Press – April 2018
I’ve been attracted to magic and witchcraft all my life. While I’m perfectly content to apply mundane effort to mundane problems, extraordinary situations need extraordinary tools. Learning that there’s a reality behind legendary and fictional magic is one of the reasons I became a Pagan.
Over the years I’ve developed my own magical practice and I write about magic occasionally. I’ve got a bunch of books on magic. What I haven’t had is a book I could recommend to beginners who want to know how to get started with magic the way I do it.
Now I do: Six Ways by Aidan Wachter.
I’ve never met Aidan Wachter. We’re not in any of the same Pagan groups or orders. But somehow the way he learned magic – and the way he teaches it in Six Ways – is very close to the way I learned it: a combination of energy work, spirit work, and sympathetic magic.
Six Ways is easy to read. It’s comprised of 33 short chapters on topics such as Gut and Bone, Trance, Divination, Raising Power, and Talismanic Magic. The Introduction contains Wachter’s magical philosophy – another thing we happen to share:
My approach is this: what works, works. That which does not work, or whose costs outweigh their benefits, should be discarded or modified until the balance skews more favorably.
Much of magic happens in non-ordinary reality. Wachter doesn’t try to define that liminal zone so much as he describes what happens there. And for those who like to say “it’s all in your head” he says:
There is to me a part of this work that happens “in my consciousness,” but there is a large-scale interpenetration that is “not me” as well. It is clear to me that while I set the stage, there are Other players involved! While I am sure some will argue “it’s all fantasy,” this is a largely irrelevant and unhelpful viewpoint from a magical perspective.
In the chapter “Sacred Fear” Wachter discusses the importance of respecting the persons and forces you’re working with:
Sometimes the fear is telling you “get ready, get into your power, this is a rough space and you need to be AWAKE” and sometimes it is telling you that you don’t belong, and you best get your ass home while it is all in one piece.
Wachter’s magic isn’t identical to mine. Many of his terms and some of his techniques are different. There are a few areas where I think he’s wrong, but only a few. Mainly, his is a non-religious approach, while mine is very religious. Either way, it works.
So yes, I can say the magic in Six Ways works because I’ve done it for years – even though I just now read the book.
The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might
by Courtney Weber
Weiser Books – November 2019
Paperback: $16.95, Kindle: $9.99
Now there’s a third: The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might by Courtney Weber.
This book begins with the question so many of us have asked: “who is the Morrigan?” Weber has no more definitive answers than anyone else. She is a Goddess, one of several Goddesses, and a title for a group of Goddesses.
“Welcome to the first great paradox of the Morrigan.”
The book covers Badb, Macha, Morrigu, Anu, Danu (who may or may not be one of the Morrigans), Nemain, and Fea. Weber covers the connection between the Morrigan and Morgan Le Fay and says “the two are not likely connected historically” – which is much gentler than I would say it.
Weber tells her own story of the Morrigan. Like so many, she attempted to keep the Great Queen at a safe distance – despite visiting Her home at Oweynagat, the Cave of the Cats. But at a difficult time in her life, Weber called on the Morrigan – and She answered. This book is the result of that on-going relationship.
The Morrigan is organized by the stories and roles of Herself in history and lore. Each section tells a story, offers a modern perspective on it, and gives exercises and rituals for working with the Morrigan in that particular way. It includes perspectives from other devotees, including a quote from my 2018 blog post The Morrigan Calls More Than Warriors.
As in her book on Brigid, Weber makes it clear that she engages with the Gods as individuals. But she leaves it open for the reader to decide for themselves if They’re individuals, or aspects, or archetypes, or something else. That does not reduce the usefulness of this book for polytheists – unlike some of the other Morrigan books which I do not recommend.
Ironically (or perhaps, appropriately) the first words inside the cover are from Morgan Daimler’s endorsement. Daimler says “Courtney Weber’s new book, The Morrigan, adds much to the experiential material available on the Morrigan.”
That, I think, is the perfect summary of this book.
For those who care about such things, I bought my copies of both of these books. I don’t review books differently based on how I get them – my responsibility in a review is to the reader, not the author or the publisher. This is my honest opinion. I rarely write about bad books, even if they’re written by friends or published by my publisher. I just conveniently forget to review them.