You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit mikesententia.com.
I first reviewed Scott Stenwick’s Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy (MtMH) earlier this year. At the time, I was a few chapters in. Today, I’ll review the rest of the book.
I came into this book knowing very little about Enochian. I knew it was a complex ritual style, that it was supposed to put you in contact with Angels, and a bit of the history. I could disguise my ignorance a conversation, but I couldn’t really participate in a conversation about Enochian intelligently. After reading MtMH, I feel like I know enough of the history and the details of Enochian to have an intelligent discussion on it, which was one of my main goals.
When I first started reading MtMH, I thought about trying Enochian as a way to connect with more traditional mages. At this point, I don’t think I will. MtMH has made me less interest in practicing Enochian, which sounds like a slight, but really the book was just doing its job: It gave me a much clearer picture of what Enochian magick entails, which let me decide that Enochian isn’t for me. But trying to explain that I really do like the book, even though it makes me less likely to practice its subject, is challenging for a writer, and it’s a lot of why I’ve put this article off.
5 Things I Liked About MtMH
Scott has a great, detailed description of setting up the temple (the ritual space). It includes sigils for you to photocopy. Personally, I would be much more likely to practice the style if I don’t have to draw or carve all of these complex shapes. He also suggests using brass rings instead of gold, and other ways to get a quick and dirty temple up and running.
Seeing the details of the temple laid out gave me a much better feel for what ritual magick is about. I mean, I knew about correspondences before, but seeing Scott work through them as he reasoned about which metals to use for the temple gave me the feel of working with them, which is really useful for understanding what other mages are talking about.
Most chapters open with a blog-post-like discussion. Scott covered secrecy in magick (he’s against it), the different banishing and invoking rituals (LBRP / LIRH = Operant field), and other topics. They’re like more-polished blog posts, and even though I encountered the ideas on his blog, reading them again in book form (maybe with more editing?) made the ideas clearer. It was fun to get some of the ideas that hadn’t quite connected before.
I skipped most of the actual rituals, but from what I did read, they are quite detailed, with good diagrams. I believe I could correctly perform the rituals from just the written instructions, which isn’t true of all books. So if you do want to practice Enochian, I think this book will do a good job of it.
Beyond that, MtMH teases apart the now-standard Golden Dawn version from the original Dee-Kelly version. I can’t say which is better, but I’d sure want to know which I was using. This seems like an important distinction, and one that I wasn’t even aware of before reading this book.
Here’s where I ended up on the book:
Enochian isn’t for me. But that has very little to do with MtMH, and everything to do with what Enochian is actually about.
If you want to practice Enochian, this seems like an excellent book. It’s slim (150 pages), includes sigils to photocopy, and has quite detailed instructions for actually performing the rituals.
For me, I just want to be able to have an intelligent discussion with traditional ritual mages, and this book helped get me there. It gave me a much better sense of what’s involved in setting up a temple and performing the rituals, enlightened me on some distinctions in the history of Enochian and the Golden Dawn, and explained the difference between a lot of the standard rituals (LBRP, LIRP, LBRH, LIRH). And it did all that in about 75 pages, which is awesome. (Remember, I skipped the rituals.)
I’d recommend Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy for anyone wanting to practice Enochian, along with anyone looking for a quick introduction to what Enochian magick is all about.
Here’s a link to buy the book on Amazon: Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy.If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.
Tags: Book Review, Enochian
Thanks for the continued review. I’m sorry that in the end you decided Enochian magick was not for you (I suppose, really, it wouldn’t be – conjuring spirits kind of defeats the purpose of your direct magick method), but I’m glad that you enjoyed the book nonetheless.
Actually, there’s been a question on my mind ever since reading the book. Let me lay out a couple things I think I know about your style of magick:
1. You believe that there’s no inherent meaning in symbols, and that instead, it’s just whatever meaning the mage associates with that symbol. So, I could train myself to associate a symbol with “shielding,” you could train yourself to associate the same symbol with “invoke an angel,” and it would work for both of us (to do what we expected the symbol to do).
2. The Enochian work you wrote about has incredibly intricate symbols and a labor-intensive preparation phase, along with rituals that take a long time to perform.
These don’t add up for me. If you’re just training your mind to respond to symbols, why not train it to respond to much simpler symbols? Why bother with the official Enochian sigils at all? If the meaning of a sigil is just whatever the mage associates with it, shouldn’t the book be all about what to think about as you train your mind to make those associations, rather than demonstrating the standard sigils that most other mages associate with this type of magick? Do you see what I’m getting at?
And thanks for an interesting book, and for taking the time to answer my questions on it.
The reason they don’t conflict is that (1) and (2) represent different things. From a microcosmic perspective (1), you can use any symbol you want to represent anything as long as you train your mind to respond to it. However, when you’re working with macrocosmic spirits those entities have their own controlling names, requirements, and so forth that exist within their separate spheres of consciousness. You need to “speak their language” to at least some degree in order to approach them, and the best information about what the Enochian entities want those requirements to be are found in the Dee diaries – because the angels explained it.
Keep in mind as well that there’s a school of Enochian magick derived from the Golden Dawn system that eschews most of the temple equipment and so forth. I’ll be comparing and contrasting that system to some extent with the more grimoire-based methodology that I use in the second book of my Enochian series, which will be on the angels of the Great Table. The magicians who work with that system attribute many of the angels differently, use the Angelic Keys differently, and view the system as having this whole other level based on nineteenth-century Hermetic Qabalah. I started out working with that system too, but found my probabilities shifts got a lot better when I switched over to the grimoire model.
All that being said, there are magician who work with the GD system and claim to get good results. So clearly the spirits are able to accommodate some variation in the methods used to conjure them. They are as far as I can tell independent, sentient beings. I’ll also add that at one point I did some experiments with a faster “stripped down” version of Enochian that substitutes simple Angelic phrases for some of the conjurations and so forth. You can find that article here: http://ananael.blogspot.com/2007/01/enochian-fast-casting.html
In fact, one of the things that keeps me skeptical on the “ethereal software” idea (as opposed to working with external, sentient spirits, which I do all the time) is that magical rituals can be changed around a lot and still work. I would think, for example, if there’s a piece of ethereal software that’s “the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram” (beyond the macrocosmic godnames and angels, which I believe are conscious separate intelligences that the ritual calls upon) you would think that everyone would have to do the ritual exactly the same way to get results – change a piece, and your results would go away at once. But that doesn’t happen – generally speaking, ritual magicians adhere to the names of power and the basic structure, but beyond that there are numerous variations on the ritual. All of them seem to work so long as they don’t diverge from several key elements.
The same is true of just about every ritual form out there. The whole “follow the grimoire to the letter” movement that has a strong presence online these days is quite a recent movement, really only becoming prominent in the last five years or so. Prior to that, most ritual/ceremonial magicians worked off systems like Crowley’s or the Golden Dawn and modified a lot of their rituals as they saw fit, or combined them in new ways to see what would happen. That’s what I was doing when I came up with the original operant field concept, and that’s still what my working group mostly does to this day with a lot of our ritual series.
Anyway, this is probably getting to be too long a discussion to have here. Hopefully it’s helpful to you in getting your book put together, since in a number of ways I’m a tougher audience than most. ;-)
Thanks for taking the time to explain all that. I was totally unaware of the movement to follow grimoires to the letter, or the other movement in the opposite direction. And that makes sense about the sigils: The angels themselves insist on the proper sigils.
Also, thanks for explaining why you’re dubious about ethereal software. You are a tougher audience than most healers, but if I want to build magick into a mature field, you’re far from the toughest audience I’ll have, so it’s good to learn these things now. I’m working on a post to explain the “some spirits are projections of ethereal software” part of my model better, focusing on my experiences and testing that make me believe it’s true. I’m eager to hear your take, once it’s done.
[…] can read the whole review here. So far everyone who has reviewed the book has enjoyed it, and if you haven’t picked up your […]