This time, books that have deeply influenced my magick, but are not about magick.
The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick – As a devotee of Thoth, this book is almost a sacred text to me. It explains so well how we communicate, and how everything is comprised of information. Where Peter J. Carroll uses the word mana or kia to describe the essence of the universe, I use information.
The Wayfinders by Wade Davis – Wade taught me why knowing magick may not only be personally empowering, but perhaps vital to our survival. Nothing can sum it up better that this quote:
“We have this extraordinary conceit in the West that while we’ve been hard at work in the creation of technological wizardry and innovation, somehow the other cultures of the world have been intellectually idle. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nor is this difference due to some sort of inherent Western superiority. We now know to be true biologically what we’ve always dreamed to be true philosophically, and that is that we are all brothers and sisters. We are all, by definition, cut from the same genetic cloth. That means every single human society and culture, by definition, shares the same raw mental activity, the same intellectual capacity. And whether that raw genius is placed in service of technological wizardry or unraveling the complex thread of memory inherent in a myth is simply a matter of choice and cultural orientation.”
Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha – This one sums up my reasons for being a follower of Babalon. It asks the question, are humans more like chimps or bonobos? My answer – we decide.
Nueromancer by William Gibson – One of the first cyberpunk novels, in it the main character exposes a philosophy that “the body is just meat.” I used to believe that’s true, but I still believe in the message that we create our own worlds.
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley – A wonderful retelling of the King Arthur story which includes the clash between the old Celtic religion and Christianity. The best part is how some of the characters realize that both can be right.
The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft – There are things that humankind will never comprehend, Lovecraft makes you confront that horrible truth head-on. Word to the Lovecraft aficionado: there are plenty of cheap editions out there because Lovecraft’s work is in the public domain, but if you want insight and the texts in their purest form look for anything edited by S.T. Joshi.
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers – I don’t think anything I can say will add to the well deserved accolades of Joseph Campbell, so once again, I will let the quote do the work.
“Half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies.”