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Book report: The Magician’s Workbook by Steve Savedow

Incognitus

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I am starting a re-read of The Magician’s Workbook by Steve Savedow and thought it might be fun to post about what each chapter was about, plus any thoughts I had. There will be a companion thread for a re-read of Magick In Theory And Practice by Aleister Crowley, because The Magician‘s Workbook has a list of other books you should read and that is obviously one of the most recommended. That list also includes things like The Lesser Key of Solomon.

This is heavily Goetia based. This author provides a ton of information, but we will also look at a lot of source material in separate book report threads. I’ll add a post to the thread for each chapter I finish. I’ll likely add the first few chapters to this thread tomorrow.

Heres the thing… I see a lot of posts from people interested in evoking demons. Many times it’s “I just discovered this and tried my first ritual”. It’s clear they did none of the groundwork or reading. They want to work in a system, but before they even learn that system they’re making changes and ignoring crucial steps. To put it bluntly: you should not be evoking demons if you’re too lazy to read a single book.

Do not be fooled: if you are looking to evoke a goetic demon, you are working in a very complex pre-existing system. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t other paths, but if you are evoking one of the demons from The Lesser Key of Solomon, there are specific rituals and other requirements. Some of those requirements may be modifiable, but you can’t do that if you have no knowledge of the source material.

So, let’s all put our money where our mouths are, so to speak. I’m going to start at the beginning again. I’m going to read through and post. I hope some of you join me.

I’ll be working from the 1995 soft cover edition of the physical book, but working with an ebook that contains all of the diagrams and pictures should be fine.
 

Incognitus

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Chapter 1 - Invocation and Evocation

This chapter starts, smartly, with a definition of invoke and evoke. This can be very confusing for many people. There are surely different definitions in different paths. This chapter includes a Ladder of Hierarchy diagram, which Human Beings in the middle, Angel, Archangel, Demi-God and God above Human Beings and Demon, Archdeacon, Demi-Devil and Devil below.

For our purposes, "invoke" is defined as making a request to a higher being in the hierarchy and "evoke" is defined as making demands to lower beings (demons, etc). That's why rituals involving the 72 Ars Goetia demons are evocation rituals. They are considered below human being in the hierarchy. If you're going to make a request of an angel, you would do an invocation.

This is, of course, overly simplified, but some of this book is intended for beginners.

It goes on to separate the art of Magick (the K added by Crowley to differentiate it from stage or illusionary magic) into high magick and low magick.

Low magick is used to produce effects on the material (or "lower") plane. Examples given by the author are love spells, money spells, healing, curses, etc.

High magick consists of invocations and evocations, that have results on the mental ("higher") planes.

The author goes on to explain that failure in ritual high magick can results in spiritual and emotional regression, mental issues, etc. Therefore students should undertake a preparation period (more on this later), which includes reading a list of source materials (such of the grimoires and writings by Crowley, Regardie, etc.

The author suggests a period of 1 year for preparation. I think this is going to be more depend on how motivated someone is and how much time they can spend on learning things such as banishing rituals, circle layout, etc. I'm sure some people could knock that out in a couple months. Others it may take years. Your milage may vary.

And that's chapter 1. Pretty straight forward.
 

Incognitus

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Chapter 2 - Ritual Construction

The author starts out by saying that high magick is composed of 4 steps ("periods of time" in his words): creation, preparation, the performance and the results.

Creation begins with the creation of the ritual or the discovery of an existing ritual by the practitioner. This is a creative period where all the details of the ritual are worked out and put down on paper (or, I suppose, this could now be done on a computer). This is fairly straight forward, but may include researching correspondences, etc.

The preparation period is where you find somewhere to do the ritual, gather the needed items, memorize the ritual (you're not supposed to be reading from a cheat sheet with these types of rituals, it should be memorized), and pick a date and time where astrological influences would benefit the ritual. The preparation period may also include fasting, sexual abstinence, etc. This period ends with the construction of the actual ritual area (creating the cicrle, etc).

The author includes the circle creation rituals from The Lesser Key of Solomon. There's no point in getting too worried about understanding it all. It's really here to show you the scope, and for this purpose refers to one of the original source materials (we're not looking at a Crowley interpretation specifically here). I won't repeat the creation rituals here, but suffice to say it's import to show the practitioner the actual SCOPE involved in evoking a goetic demon. Also included are diagrams of 2 magic circles (also from The Lesser Key of Solomon).

For Westerners (which, admittedly, I am), working with other languages like Hebrew, Greek, etc, may be difficult, especially since during ritual those "power names" should be vibrated, not sung or spoken. This is an important distinction in my mind. God, Devil, angels, demons, these aren't necessarily referring to Christian ideology. When you're vibrating the name of Raphael, for example, it's not the Christian name "Refael" that's the point here. It's the energy created by the vibration of the names. Vibrations have real world energy. Consider Ella Fitzgerald breaking glass with her voice (or if you're younger, there's a Mythbusters episode dealing with the same thing).

The author admonishes that prerequisites from the Lesser Key should be followed. The performance should be theatrical, it should be dramatic, almost as if you're acting in a play. It should be powerfully performed, in Savedow's words. The performance period ends with the banishing ritual, and traditionally ends with a single rap on the top of the altar with the butt of the ritual dagger.

The last period, results, begins once the ritual is complete. The author suggests you not concentrate on what you actually want to happen. You've done the preparation, the performance and all prerequisites. "Let it go", in a simple way of putting it. Your own expectations can hinder or alter the results of the ritual.

I think this chapter, other than setting out the different periods, is to show the scope of what a ritual takes. I didn't dwell on the specifics just now.
 
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Frater Dag

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Savedow was talked about on Poke Runyon's podcast a long time ago I think. I also remember reading about it years ago on one of the forums I used to be a part of. Runyon and a few others claimed that Savedown had a major breakdown after an evocation of one of the kings. Apparently he was never the same afterwards and gave up practicing the occult for quite a long time.
 

Incognitus

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Savedow was talked about on Poke Runyon's podcast a long time ago I think. I also remember reading about it years ago on one of the forums I used to be a part of. Runyon and a few others claimed that Savedown had a major breakdown after an evocation of one of the kings. Apparently he was never the same afterwards and gave up practicing the occult for quite a long time.
I'll have to look for that podcast. I'd be interested in taking a listen.

This is my entire reason for these threads. Sometimes even if you know what you're doing, you come out damaged after a ritual, and yet we have chuckleheads encouraging people to forgo things meant for the practitioners protection. It's clear they have not actually read any source material, or if they have they either don't take it seriously or didn't actually understand. I am hoping some people new to these concepts take the time and learn.
 

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Chapter 3 - Preparation for the Ritual Magician

In this chapter, Savedown talks about required preparation for perform evocations.

The Magician should be physically fit, and have enough stamina to perform the ritual in its entirety. There's a lot work involved, you will need to at times hold your arms and hands up to perform specific actions and positions. He states that the practitioner should be able to run a mile "briskly without keeling over". He includes a height/weight chart, and I'm going to go ahead and disagree with the author here.

I know you skinny people think fat people have no stamina and can't do shit. Let me tell you, you're wrong. I know skinny people that couldn't walk a mile without dying, and personally Jaide and I have hiked mountain peaks while overweight. Some skinny people have no stamina, and some heavy people have a shit ton. I think it's more important to say that you need to have enough energy and stamina to make it through the many phases of the ritual. If that means you're 250lbs, so be it. Obviously, you should try and be as healthy as you can be, not just for ritual, but for life in general, but if you don't meet his height/weight chart, don't fret. I'm 6" and I've literally never been 185lbs, and I've summited mountains.

Savedown goes on to say that ritual magick combines science with art. Artistic factors are things such as the writing and performance of the ritual, creation of the tools, making talismans, usage of colors, smells and sourds, etc. Scientific (yes, yes, I know) factors are things such as studying correspondences, astrological surveys, study of ancient philosophy, chemistry, etc.

He mirrors Crowley here by saying that while results will appear to be miracles to those "not in the know", the magician knows these are simply acts of nature, based on specific laws.

And finally, the author lists a ton of required reading. Required are:

Book 4 and Magick In Theory And Practice by Crowley
The Book of Black Magic and Pacts by Waite
Transcendental Magic by Eliphas Levi
The Magus by Francis Barrett

He also recommends you keep a notebook which you can use to record important information, experience with ritual, etc.

The author goes on to provide a larger list of reading material, which I won't reproduce here. Of course, that includes most of the grimoires (The Lesser Key, 6th & 7th Books of Moses, The Arbatel, etc).

He cautions that rituals shouldn't be practiced until all the source materials are read and understood. That's a long process and some of these materials are very hard to understand for someone WITH experience, and may seem like gibberish to those with no experience at all!

In Chapter 4, we start getting into actual rituals, such as banishing rituals. I'll likely post about that chapter tomorrow.
 

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Chapter 4 - The Middle Pillar and Banishing Rituals

There's 2 primary pieces to this chapter.

The first part is some visual help as far as where chakra's are located (for the Middle Pillar ritual), pictures demonstrating the positions for the signs of the portal and elemental gods, and specific guides on how to draw (in the air) the invoking and banishing versions of the pentagram, the Rose Cross, etc. I really appreciate the visual guides here. Some (if not all) the positions are also included in Magick in Theory and Practice by Crowley.

The second part contains the 5 rituals that need to be learned and practiced. The 5 rituals included are: The Middle Pillar, The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, The Banishing Ritual of the Serpent and The Star Ruby. Savedow recommends beginning with the Middle Pillar Ritual by taking some time to memorize it. Once memorized, copy it into your personal notebook (call it book of shadows, or diary, or whatever you want) and then practice it twice a day for a month. During that month, you should read and memorize the next ritual (Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram), and after a month, put this in your notebook and practice for a month, learning the next, and so forth and so on. If you aren't able to practice twice a day, even once a day would be useful. The idea here is to learn these rituals enough so you don't need to refer to any written notes.

The Middle Pillar and Lesser Banishing Rituals of Pentagram and Hexagram are of Golden Dawn descent. The Banishing Ritual of the Serpent was written by the author, and I think most people know The Star Ruby was written by Crowley.

The author points out here that certain words in the rituals should be vibrated, not spoken. Vibrations are a physical force (see: Ella Fitzgerald or the Mythbusters episode), so it is fairly important to get pronunciation right. It's not about "praying" or merely speaking the words, it's about the physical effects caused by the vibration of each letter. Every sound of every letter should be vibrated, flowing into the next letter. I know there are people who may not think this is important, as they look at this more like a religion and the intent in their mind is more important than the sound itself, but this is really physical (vibration), not religious (say what you want as long as your intent is there).

Once again, I need to clarify that I know there are different paths and different approaches, much in the same way that to write a video game you can choose from dozens of programming languages. All will accomplish the same task, with differing levels of difficulty and success, but if you're programming in C++, you follow the rules of C++. You're not going to get very far if you try to shove Perl script in a C++ application (at least without an embedded Perl interpreter).

The author points out that when using a dagger for banishing, a double edged blade with a black handle is traditional.

Not much else to say by way of reporting. This single chapter represents several months of work, longer than 5 months if it takes longer to memorize the rituals.
 

Incognitus

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No update for this book today. I'm going to listen to the podcast episode Frater Dag referenced instead. Tomorrow Chapter 5 will deal with meditation, and I'll likely report back on thoughts about the podcast episode.
 

Incognitus

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The Runyon podcast episode, which is from 2011, is located here:
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There is a video interview from Feb of 2021. This is much more in-depth.
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Lots of good information. One thing that was interesting is that Savedow believes that Goetic demons have an actual body in another dimension, and the ritual basically sucks their spirit out into the triangle. He said they were pissed off, and I guess that would be for obvious reasons. Jason Newcomb certainly asks hard questions and doesn't shy away from putting Savedow on the spot. Savedow's son interrupts a bit, but it's not too bad.

William, if you're watching this thread, I highly advise watching that video.

He also said that as you're binding a demon, you're also binding yourself to that demon. Eventually the full ritual isn't needed because of that connection.

It's interesting that Savedow primarily does magick in the astral plane now, and does folk magick. He doesn't really do Goetic magick anymore.

I'm not sure if he was half asleep during the Runyon interview or what. Runyon did mention they had to redo the interview because the first time the audio was terrible.

Highly recommend watching the video. Good to see Savedow is still alive and kicking and still willing to talk about all of this. I think there's a lot of advice to not do these rituals just for the sake of doing something, and Savedow has said that the rituals he did had a negative physical effect on him.

Anyone know the details behind the OTO expelling Savedow?
 

Incognitus

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Also discovered my copy of Goetic Evocation is worth quite a lot. Too bad I don't want to get rid of it!
 

Incognitus

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Chapter 5 - Meditation

Most of this chapter is a basic walkthrough on how to meditate. Savedow says that meditation is the silencing of the inner voice that's almost constantly rambling in a person's head. Probably no real reason to reproduce the method here, but includes common things such as bathing before meditating, use no candles or incense, sit on the floor facing east, breathe in through nose for 10 seconds, breathe out through mouth for 10 seconds, and etc.

I am not good at silencing the inner voice. I'm going to start working harder on meditating a couple times a week. Maybe it'll help with my work-related rage.

I like that the chapters are relatively short and focus on a single topic, unlike Crowley who crams so much into a few paragraphs that it frankly gets confusing.
 
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