Friday, June 11, 2010

The Book Game

On the Rune Soup (Adventures Beyond Chaos Magic) blog, there's a cool notion posted, that several magic-bloggers have been doing. Here's the link of the post with the rules, scroll down at: general, the notion is that you have ten books to teach a student a specific kind of magic. Each is assumed to be read in turn, with no other influences. Just a thought experiment, but an interesting one.

The Book Game
Target mage-type: Celto-Germanic sorcerer (emphasis on spellcraft and seership). This ain’t easy – most of the good books are still being developed, but I think I can make it make sense. The hard part is to stay focused on magic, and not drift off too far into Celtic cultural realms. I agree that moving the agnostic indifferentist into open-minded readiness is the hardest thing – could require ten books of its own. The job is harder still when you have to introduce an unfamiliar mythology.
1: Cosmic Trigger – Robert Anton Wilson
I must agree with Gordon that there is no better easy text for inducing doubt concerning the standard rationalist paradigm.
2: Cunning Folk & Familiar Spirits- Emma Wilby
Introduces basic shamanistic concepts in a western historical context, and makes a great case for how modern people could come to perceive relationship with the spirits.
3: The Way of Wyrd – Brian Bates
This scholastically reasonable historical novel is specifically built to lead from a more modern perspective into the ancient ways. Wish it was Irish and not Saxon, but oh well.
4: Ancient Irish Tales – Cross and Slover
There are many summaries and retellings of the lore – this one is a good, fairly direct translation – a good secondary source. (others might have been Ellis or Markale)
5: Celtic Heritage – Rees & Rees
Where C&S provide the raw materials, R&R offer comparative mythic analysis that breathes some spirit into the old texts.
6: Sacred Fire, Holy Well – Ian Corrigan
Yes, I wrote it, but it does both re-summarize Gaelic myth after the massive data load of the last two books, and provide a work-ready ritual and practical magic system that isn’t warmed-over post-Wicca. (Other choices might have been Aed Ruadh or Blamires)
7: Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom – Erynn Rowan Laurie
Combines real scholarship on the ogam with real Pagan sensibilities. Not much about spellcasting, plenty about divination (opposite of my book) but alternatives in ritual that fit the imagined system.
8: Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition – Nigel Pennick
Germanic lore fills in many gaps in Celtic material, and vice-versa. This is an excellent one-stop body of lore, informed with a practitioner’s notes and methods.
* the ninth and tenth are hard… many good choices… Kaldera, Huson, even Artisson. No other novel leaps to mind, but this whole system is full of story…
9: Galdrbok – Practical Heathen Runecraft, Shamanism & Magic – Johnson & Wallis
A Norse dark horse. Packed with Norse lore, but firmly focused on sorcery and results magic. Excellent poetics too – those of us who speak English have a natural tool in Germanic poetic meters.
10: Mastering Witchcraft – Paul Huson
Ok, so this has little to do with celtic anything and only a little more with Germanic. However Huson’s eye for spellcraft and sense of atmosphere remain unmatched, and his stripped-down instruction on how to make a spell operate through the rousing of passions is totally accessible. By this time the student will be able to separate wheat from chaff, and this will be very valuable. (Could have been Inominandum, but I have a soft spot.)


Gordon said...

For my money, you've laid that out very well.

It never occurred to me what you could do in this hypothetical situation if you finished the game on Mastering Witchcraft.

Nice one! You may have just built a very skilled hypothetical spellcaster. :)

Auberon Draenen Wen said...

I must ask why nothing on the Runes?

Thorsson's runic trilogy would be good in this reguard along with a book on Norse myths to fill out the Germanic side.

IanC said...

The Galdrbok has a good section on the runes, and I did want to emphasize the Celtic angle. Also 10 books isn't many...