Author: Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki & J.H. Brennan
Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Publication date: December 2001
Price & More Info: Click Here
As both Delores Ashcroft-Nowicki and J.H. Brennan are respected writers in the ceremonial magick field, I've been looking forward to receiving a review copy of Magical Use of Thought Forms. It finally worked its way to near the top of my review pile, so when no one was looking I pulled it out of the stack and put it on top.
One thing almost all systems of ceremonial magick have in common is the use of thought forms created by the magician's manipulation of the astral plane. Many other forms of magick, such as Wiccan magick, use similar techniques, often under much different names. Magical Use of Thought Forms concentrates on this basic magickal task/technique.
The first third of this book talks about the nature of reality and introduces the astral plane through a variety of folklore, legends and science. While this section is very useful for the complete beginner, I found it somewhat repetitive and even a bit boring in places. The case studies are interesting, but really could have used some source references. The fourth chapter attempts to bring quantum mechanics and relativity into the picture. Unfortunately, many of their observations are drawn from an incomplete understanding of current quantum mechanical theories. I'm not faulting the book for this because about the only people who have a correct understanding of quantum theory are those physicists working in the quantum field.
The second part of Magical Use of Thought Forms discusses the astral plane from a magickal perspective. This part of the book begins the serious training one needs to successfully use thought forms. Those expecting shortcuts to power will be disappointed here. The authors are of the old school and believe that work, effort, and time are required to perfect skills. The authors intermix theory and practice nicely in this section.
The third section contains most of the material on actually using thought forms in magickal operations. Many readers will be tempted to skip ahead to this part of the book to read about all the interesting things like creating guardians, a memory palace, and an astral homunculus. However, those who do so will not be equipped to attempt these procedures successfully, unless they are already well-trained magicians.
There are a number of appendixes with their own magical procedures. These range from the standard Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram to a reconstructed ritual for creating a golem. The first appendix, "The Starborn," is code for a set of web pages designed to allow those with a computer to experiment with Brennan's idea that astral space and cyberspace are somehow connected. Pathworking via the web? It's certainly an interesting idea.
It's hard to summarize the Magical Use of Thought Forms. This book tries to take the reader from complete beginner to fairly advanced practitioner in about 250 pages. I'm not sure it succeeds. I'm not sure any single book shorter in length than the Bible could. However, this book covers a great deal of material in a competent and understandable manner. The understandable part is important as good books on this subject are often hard to understand. Despite a few flaws and problems (ignore the quantum mechanics, please!), this is a book that most beginning magicians could probably benefit from -- if they are willing to work for their success.
Reviewed by Randall