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Book Review: “Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick” by Frater Barrabbas

October 12, 2009

Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick: A Beginner’s Introduction to the High Art
Frater Barrabbas
2007, Megalithica Books
10 out of 10

Frater Barrabbas is a friend of mine. He had a lot of materials for publication when I first met him a few years ago, including a rather massive volume on intermediate-level ritual magic which had, up to then, been nigh unpublishable due to the occult and Neopagan community’s general desire for more and more and more books for the absolute beginner. More advanced books are still often hard to come by, and generally do not appear in your average book store, nor do they sell well when they do. This fact was lamented all over the Internet, at Pagan festivals, and in discussion groups around the country: there isn’t enough intermediate-to-advanced material on magic out there, and it certainly isn’t widely available. Thus, the time seemed ripe for something more, something accessible yet credible, to feed the folks who were hungry for it.

Barrabbas decided to pave his own way: begin at the beginning, as it were, and present a solid introduction to the principles of ritual magic as he has learned and practiced it over several decades so that he might have a ready-made audience for his intermediate-level work after he had rewritten it for publication. And so arose Disciple’s Guide.

Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick is a dense read, as far as beginner’s books go, but not for any difficulty of language; the book is absolutely packed with information from page 1. Beginning with the basic ideas which undergird his system, Frater Barrabbas provides a thorough grounding in ideology and technique useful to any budding magician. The real meat, however, comes in the form of rituals. Barrabbas’s rituals are classic in structure, based firmly in the Golden Dawn and Aurum Solis traditions of Hellenic-Egyptian and Judeo-Christian occult philosophy and the Neopagan traditions of British Traditional Wicca.

Something which makes the rituals of Disciple’s Guide really stand apart from the crowd of other books on the so-called Western esoteric tradition are their use of Arthurian heroes, goddesses and symbolism. The wealth of power in these figures, and the cultural force of romance, adventure, power, prestige and pathos which surrounds them makes these rituals live and breathe like few other ritual systems really can. Even reading through them systematically can be a power-filled experience, as you visualize the proceedings step by step and imagine yourself within them. And this from somebody who doesn’t even care much for the Arthurian legends! I can only imagine how intense these rituals would be for somebody who was very much grounded in those particular myths. I imagine that these rituals alone could be made to constitute a rather complete liturgical system as well, if a person were so inclined.

One of the real beauties of Barrabbas’s “beginner’s manual” is that, while definitely suited to beginners, it has much to offer even the intermediate practitioner. Old ideas are examined from new angles, and ritual structures are used in novel ways. A beginner on the path of ritual magic will find this book a true blessing. I imagine that the book will take a dedicated student about a year and a half to work through, but could easily be the effort of half a decade of diligent, deep practice and study. Any good training system should be so; an author who promises you instant spiritual or magical gratification is playing to your ego, not to your real sense of purpose.

I must admit that my rituals are very little like Barrabbas’s rituals, though he has served as a major influence upon me. I have trained primarily through the works of Franz Bardon, Draja Mickaharic, and the Unknown Friend of Meditations on the Tarot. Still, if anybody, Christian or Pagan, comes to me asking how to learn ritual magic, Disciple’s Guide will be at the top of the list. Take it home; study it; put the rituals to the test. You will not be disappointed.

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