a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.
Subject: nagasiva's alt.magick FAQ
Keywords: FAQ, magic, magick, occult, occultism
Summary: This is a file of biased responses to frequently
asked questions in the alt.magick newsgroup.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (nagasiva yronwode)
Posting-Frequency: when desired
NAGASIVA'S ALT.MAGICK FAQ
01.01 how do I become a mage?
01.02 how can I learn about magic online?
02.01 what is "magick"? is it different than "magic"?
02.02 why is the alt.magick newsgroup spelled this way?
03.01 what is the difference between white and black
magic and how are they used?
04.01 where can I find (variable spell)?
05.01 can you prove that magic exists?
06.01 is the Necronomicon real and can magic be based on it?
06.02 ok, is there a Necronomicon?
06.03 yeah, ok, but could and does
a Necronomicon *exist*??
01.01 how do I become a mage?
the identifier 'mage' has become popular with the adoption of the term within role-playing games and comic books. it has had intermittent usage within the occult community, but typically other titles are used indicating association with mystico-religious traditions (e.g. witch, Magus, etc.) to indicate a proficiency with magical tools, principles, rites, or knowledge.
there *are* organizations which confer official designations upon those who wish to obtain them, usually in exchange for paying some fee and perhaps also for passing a test of some kind. the Universal Life Church gives out certificates conferring titles like "Magus", "Monk", "Shaman" and even "Angel". most require no test and can be obtained through Universal Life Books, P.O. Box 1406, Woodland, CA, 95776 or maybe through a search engine if they've retained a stable web site. besides the liberal religious orgs, you can also try the occult organizations. their participative requirement can be as simple as paying the dues and agreeing to their oaths within rituals of initiation (such as in the OTO, which you can reach at http://www.otohq.org/oto/otohq.html, whose second degree title of conferment is "Magician") or studying and earning sufficient respect for one's (typically Hermetic) achievements that one may qualify for the degree of 'Magus' in some organization like one of the Golden Dawn orders (you can find many of them online -- try starting at the GD REF, which is a reference document of the alt.magick newsgroup FAQ, and may be reached at
the heart of your question as I understand it, however, is not so much whether *others* consider you to be a mage or magician as much as how you might proceed to integrate magic as a real part of your life, if not suffusing yourself completely. there are as many ways to do this as there are people, and your reflection on the best ways that you tend to learn and remake your life would profit you greatly.
part of the variables encountered when answering this question include how to interpret the term 'magic' and whether some particular traditional or nontraditional style of magical practice would suit you best. without knowing you, that is rather difficult to know, and this seems to be the natural starting point for those who are completely new to occultism and want to 'become a mage': identifying what *kind* of mage you are likely to want to be. therefore the first step will be to study the subject in a general way so as to identify the most attractive style that will enthuse rather than dissuade.
the history of magic is such that two main categories of magic are discernable: theurgy and thaumaturgy. these are further broken down based upon the religious character and practical results of the magical style. theurgy is as diverse as is the field of religion, ranging from the penitent service to a single deity (e.g. priests in Roman Catholicism and its Mass transubstantiation rituals) to the glorious variety found within Neopagan, African, or other pantheons and the convivial interaction which the mage is likely to have as a channel or vehicle for the manifestation of the god/orisha/loa/et al). the objectives of the theurge tend to center around gods, spirits, angels, demons, or some other nonordinary entities. placating these beings or engaging them in a negotiated use of their presumed powers for one's own ends often takes the form of invoking them or their power for this purpose.
thaumaturgy is what might comparably be called 'natural magic' -- in that it includes the natural world as its components. here you'll find the typical significance of 'witchcraft', with its potions, philtres, and powders. the spells of the thaumaturge usually have quite practical ends as objectives, providing results or assistance in the pursuit of results that most of those who do not employ magic can well understand. most magic of this type seems to concentrate on that which concerns people: money, love, sex, antagonism, social or performance success, or the rectification of what is usually considered some 'adverse condition' (purification, removing jinxes, etc.).
these two are categories between which you may choose right now and assist yourself in making the best of your stylistic assessment. there is at times a great deal of antagonism between theurges and thaumaturgists, because of the preferences each has with regard to values, goals, and the methods of attempting to achieve these. those who prefer theurgy may enjoy African-diaspora, Hermetic or New Age communities. examples from these include Santeria, Golden Dawn, OTO, and Neopagan communities, as well as the Berkeley Psychic Institute, those affiliated with A Course in Miracles, or some Eastern groups such as the Hindu SYDA Foundation or the Buddhist Nichiren Shoshu.
be aware that all of these groups have prevalent cosmologies and moral standards, of variable requirement, which may or may not appeal to you, and they may not think of 'magic' in the sense that you do (for example, they may call it 'ebos' in Santeria, 'operations' in the Golden Dawn and OTO, 'workings' or just 'rituals' in Neopagan groups, 'siddhis' in SYDA, 'psychic abilities' in the Berkeley Psychic Institute, 'making miracles possible' in A Course of Miracles groups or 'medicine' amongst Neo-Shamanic groups). the common foundation of these is that they are interacting with or drawing from (a) god(s) or spirit(s) as an integral element of their magical practice. the mage of this categorical type may benefit from a penchance for dramatic ritual, prayer, meditation, and in many cases socializing and politics.
in comparison, those drawn to thaumaturgy may find that there are few resources of an organized nature that will supplement hir development, but there are numerous textual references (grimoires, spell lists: both online and off) that can provide for the self-starter a very good foundation in becoming a mage. these practical supplements (and often those who put them together) tend not to rely upon the acceptance of any particular moral, metaphysical, or contractual perspective in order to completely assimilate the working style.
cultural contexts sometimes envelope thaumaturgical data, or make it available to the interested student. you can find information about hoodoo, for example, or stregha, gypsy witchcraft, hexencraft, etc., without necessarily encountering these larger, religious, presuppositions. on the other hand, you may find any number of biases surrounding classical grimoires (e.g. Jewish, Christian and Hermetic notions of how and why magic should be performed). the mage of this categorical type may benefit from a penchance for botany, chemistry, craftwork, symbolism, librarianship, and solitary research.
it should be said that there are sincere and successful attempts to create or at least *appear* to fabricate a realistic fusion between theurgy and thaumaturgy. many of the styles mentioned above may actively promote magical spells without the need for gods, for example, even though their biases include them. magical approaches such as what is called 'Chaos Magick' may also appeal to those who are attempting to locate more fluid theurgic magical systems without traditional prejudices. syncretic magical traditions like hoodoo in many cases provide the best of both worlds, as they may draw material and ideas from classical theurgists yet have their foundation in natural magic and use herbs and minerals as essential ingredients for successful magical tools and spells.
ultimately the best assessment of whether someone is or is not a mage is based upon practical considerations, and particularly those which satisfy the conditions of the chosen significance of the term. as with all labels, the plasticity of identifying someone as a mage is prone to vary greatly, especially with some in the magical community associating any volitional act as an act of magic. proceed at your own risk.
consult the "Mage's Guide to the Internet" (MaGI). there's a nexus which will allow you to scout out your own torrent of information overload: elists with which to pelt your ebox, ftp sites to swim in until you overload your memory-quota, and usenet groups to overload your newsreader. the problem is not access to information any more (at least not once one has oriented and this doesn't take much time), it is sorting that in which we can find value from that in which we cannot. the MaGI is located at
a great part of the problem is that what's "authoritative" is somewhat relative to the individual who is doing the review. there are emotional and imaginative approaches, dry and intellectual affairs, those based on not much experience, those based entirely on it, those who prefer their magic in armchairs, those who prefer it in Hell, in Heaven, in Space, in the Dirt, some with connections to organizations (covens, lodges, grottos, pronaos, churches, temples, etc.), some to traditions (lineages, sects, etc.) and some way out there in weirdsville-whoknowswhere.
the first step in determining authoritativeness is to look INWARD. what sorts of questions do you find valuable to contemplate? are they pragmatic (how do I do X?), theoretical (what does X mean?), ethical (when is it bad to do X?), or some combination of these? if YOU were devising a test for students (don't bother that you may be one yourself), what questions would you put on this test (don't worry if you don't know answers!)? making up the test will assist you in beginning a comparison of knowledge-bases with others in the occult community online or off. continue to look at these questions. watch how your responses change as you meet people who approach the questions from different places. add to that list of questions and restructure them as you proceed in your self-education.
the second step in determining authoritativeness is to look INWARD. what are your TASTES with regard to occult subjects and practices? if you don't know, then EXPLORE! find out what tastes good. do angels and bunnies and light just turn you on? how about alien infestations from the horrid depths of space? strange words and weird mathematics? just swimming in cool ponds during autumn? there are many many different approaches to magic, even religious ones! (see Islam/Sufism, the forums dedicated to a discussion of Christian Magic, or the more eclectic Hermetic culture). explore as many as suits your taste. sometimes settling for what comes first is not the best means of attaining any goals you may have.
the third step in determining authoritativeness is to EXPERIENCE. *do things*. try out things and above all, FAIL MISERABLY. the failure is as important as is the success. the two are ultimately a product of warped thinking anyway. Socrates is reported to have said that the unexamined life is not worth living. it may be equally true that the UNEXPERIENCED life is not worth living. be imaginative. fly by the seat of your pants. take risks. do the FORBIDDEN.
the fourth step in determining authoritativeness is to REFLECT. see what people say in their words/actions/expressions which seems to conform to your experience of the world. when you can get a 'fix' on someone and you LIKE what they are saying, then compare these people with others who may qualify in a similar way. engage others and draw from THEIR experience and reflection. develop your own ideas as a result of critical thought ("question authority"!) and your own practice as a result of creative exploration.
the last step in determining authoritativeness is to PROJECT. just because someone says something about which you do not agree this does not make them idiots. they may have experience which you do not have and they could be representing a very important and oft-overlooked reflection. it is for this reason that it is quite difficult to be sure just who is and who is not an asshole without substance. along the path of wizardry we do not burn our bridges, even while we may place small signs near them which say 'Of Uncertain Value'.
the most important principle in determining authoritativeness is to develop it within ourselves. suckling at the teats of masters may be important at certain stages of our growth, yet eventually we must break away from the nest, we must try out our wings, we must take risks and become reservoirs of experience and wisdom ourselves. if nothing else, through such exploits we may become humble.
make it up as you go along. create your own style. this is how the current approaches appeared. explore the length and breadth of religious and magical disciplines and techniques if this suits your fancy. visualization? it is quite effective for those who don't have a need or resource for material tools.
look at all the divination systems available: astrology, qabalah, tarot, runes, etc., etc. look at the Spiritualist supply stores: ouija, rapping tables, ESP cards, etc., etc. look at the ceremonialist's shops: wands, swords, incenses, candles, cauldrons, etc., etc. look at the witches' broom closets: potions, philtres, powders, charms, talismans. check out primitive and modern religious practices if this draws you: drums, rattles, bells, lights, chanting, spinning, singing, etc., etc. check into the resources on natural highs and psychotropics. check into the billions of ways to become a sorceror (one who explores the realms of consciousness). magic may find its way to you.
limits? there is no limit to magic. it can infuse and encompass your entire life experience. you can click into the Wave Of the World and become the great Fool-Magus that attains to the Great Work and sets the world arights. you can retire to a humble country cottage and brew potions for friends and family. you can refashion the cosmos to your liking, become God, and do the Hokey Pokey!
02.01 what is "magick"? is it different than "magic"?
"magick" is a very particular and peculiar subject of study amongst the social groups clustered around Edward Alexander "Aleister" Crowley. most of the rest of the world teaches about magic as some system of symbolic manipulation of the physical world.
the typical assertion is that 'magick' separates stage magic from occult magick (usually ascribed to Crowley, who made it very clear he used it to differentiate his mystical magic from that of his competition, who used different means to achieve the same Hermetic goals). Crowley's usage was rather unique for his time period, and now many who use it after him only know about or practice ceremonial magic.
basically magick (and Hermetic magic as a whole) includes ritual ceremonies to achieve mystical objectives. its co-option of the term 'magic' toward this end should be considered a religious antagonism toward folk magic from the standpoint of a privileged European literati, who describe folk magic as 'Low' and present the subject in biased and skewed ways to serve their religious interests (their 'elevated' bias indicating their allegiance to the sky-gods of Western religious cults and the transcendental 'heavens' located beyond the terran gravitational sink from which they typically seek to escape -- comparable to some Eastern mystics, whose traditions they will also attempt to co-opt toward their ends).
for those interested in magick of this type, there are many of Aleister Crowley's writings available online, and one of the best introductions is "Magick in Theory and Practice":
those who want to read what Crowley had to write on occultism (alchemy, divination, and magic), stripped of his religious and mystical verbiage may find the following file valuable:
MAGIC, on the other hand, transcends these Hermetic goals and methods, and forms a part of occult study, along with systems of divination and alchemy. the predominant focus of magical lore is the association of spell elements with the desired results of the crafted spell. beyond this, traditional methods of spell-casting and spell-resolution, how nonordinary entities may relate to this process, and what conditions ensure the security of the mage and the reliability of the spell, form the major subject categories.
in general, magic is the activity of trying to cause or assist the cause of change toward a desired end through symbolic means. its objectives and the elements of its practice vary from culture to culture.
the alt.magic newsgroup was created prior to the arrival of cyber-savvy occultists in usenet for the purpose of discussing stage magic. those who knew how to expand usenet's alt newsgroups were few or uninterested in occultism. those who did have such interest and knowledge were familiar with Crowley's writings and decided to create alt.magick as a forum for the discussion of occult magic, though the predominant focus of participants tends to be ceremonialism and Hermetic mysticism.
03.01: what is the difference between white and black
the principles of magic are roughly the same throughout the cultures of the world, though the aims, techniques and symbolic elements will vary from culture to culture.
when differentiations such as 'black' and 'white' are made between types of magic, the usual association is that 'black' is the forbidden and socially reprehensible, or that it is nefarious in its aims, design or components. depending on the culture these aims and so on will vary, but that which trespasses taboo will usually be castigated as 'black magic' and avoided by all except those who practice it and those who contract to have it done for them. the 'white' is usually societally-approved, supportive, integrative, usually acquisitive or mystical in focus.
with the development of modern Satanism the terms of arcane reference have as usual been arranged so as to flaunt the demonized from the position of the heroic, and 'Black Magick' (most modern Satanist occultists have been influenced by Aleister Crowley to some degree) has been lauded as a worthy pursuit within this subculture by such authors as LaVey and Aquino as having a 'Greater' and 'Lesser' variety. the former usually has mystical aims (Crowley's 'White Magick') and the latter may have materialistic aims (even simple deception and manipulation are described as 'Lesser Magick' in modern Satanism).
04.01: where can I find (variable spell)?
there is a newsgroup specifically intended for the discussion of and distribution of spells, called
which preceded the creation of alt.magick and alt.pagan.magick. people post spells to it all the time. for that matter, there have been spells posted to the alt.magick.* constellation of newsgroups for years! many of these have been compiled in "REF" (reference) files and are accessible via the newsgroup-created alt.magick FAQ at:
in fact, my wife, sri catyananda, has constructed a whole WEBSITE full of spells divided up by type, free to the reader! you can find it at:
if you appreciated this notice and create spells yourself, please post a spell of your own and mailto:email@example.com so that we can archive it for everyone's benefit!
love spells may be found at the following URLs:
http://www.luckymojo.com/femaledomination.html http://www.luckymojo.com/lovespells.html http://www.luckymojo.com/mojo.html http://www.luckymojo.com/mojocatspells.html http://www.luckymojo.com/spells.html
05.01: can you prove that magic exists?
the question is ambiguous, since the terms 'prove' and 'magic' (by any spelling) are contested as to their meaning, varying widely across the spectrum of esoteric and scientific study, from academic to popular social circles.
fantasy role-playing game types of effects (magic) visible to the video camera cannot be demonstrated (proven) to the skeptical inquirer. at best they may be achieved within the realm of imagination sometimes called 'the astral plane'. the childhood game of 'make believe' may play an integral role in how magic works. any extraordinary effects are considered below.
psychospiritual effects achieved through the use of ritual symbolism (magic) are very difficult to verify (prove), and it may be hundreds of years before a scientific approach to mysticism is ever achieved in any depth and the charlatanry is winnowed from the reality. for now, skeptical groups are forging standards based on the technics of illusion (stage magic) that serve to expose the charlatans more easily. cf. the key term 'skeptic' in what is left of the Gehennom Goo in nagasiva's Bookmarks at
a reservoir of energy that may be drawn upon to achieve supranormal or supernatural effects (magic) has never been demonstrated to exist (proven), though many mystical and magical cosmologies seem to rely upon it for their support (e.g. prana, chi, 'the force', etc.). in any case, the concept of something being 'supernatural' is illogical and based on quite limited ideas of what constitutes 'the natural world'.
systems of psychospiritual transformation (magic), whatever their success, can easily be demonstrated (proven) to exist, and their elements vary considerably based on the culture and time of their construction. often they are differentiated based on taxonomical or traditional labels (e.g. 'Solomonic magic' and 'Chaos magick').
esoteric philosophy designed to inspire the location and activation of the personal will (magic) is very easy to identify and comprehend (prove) by the diligent, though to what their application leads (ultimately a subjective effect of study and discipline) is still debated even in the occult communities dedicated to their study.
the usual 'proof' that people accept is based on what I call Stoplight Magic. the phrase Stoplight Magic derives from a deceptive trick that I used to play on my brother when riding in a car or on bikes, or when walking quickly, toward a red signal light. as he was younger and less worldly, I would often try to trick him into thinking that I was powerful enough to change the lights to green in our path, by watching the cross-traffic light and, when it turned yellow, expressing some kind of intentional gesture to immediately precede the change to green our way. I have played similar tricks on people in an attempt to see what kinds of attention are required to successfully carry out stage magic (even during occult or religious rituals!) or basic card tricks (in which I've had an interest from a very young age).
over time I found that others actually believed that they could achieve this feat, and I conjecture that they convinced themselves of it through a selective acceptance of their power and a restricted memory of success and failure. through this means they would 'try to change the light'. if successful, this would ACTUALLY be a type of telekinesis, rather than magic in any conventional sense. they would then dismiss a failure as a function of their unreadiness or lack of connection to the 'energy' they needed, and accept as a success whenever the light coincidentally (or properly-timed) changed to green for them. the timing might even develop over a period of time due to subconscious cues.
this system of selective success-building in tune with natural rhythms I have since called Stoplight Magic and do not think that it includes any unusual or transpersonal volitional phenomena.
the standards relevant to a truly scientific study of magic are intentionality and repeatability. one must be able to declare an intent to affect the world and be able to repeatedly take ritual and/or symbolic actions which are followed by the achievement of these effects.
there are practical limitations to what may be 'proven' to any given individual. one may always find a way to justify denying anything that what one wishes. there is no way around this kind of 'skepticism'. one may set one's blinders (or spectacles) at the strength one prefers and nobody else will be able to affect them until some set of criteria (terms of proof) are agreed upon by those disputing the matter.
06.01 is the Necronomicon real and can magic be based on it?
that all depends on what you mean by "the Necronomicon" and by "real".
there are several books with this name, but none of them appear to have the historical background provided. first we must consider what a Necronomicon IS OR MIGHT BE.
my aim here in part is to carve out a neutral ground with a reference document (on par with Kendrick Kerwin Chua's FAQ
but more succinct) that may go some distance in ending the noise between magicians and academics while challenging magicians to put their arcanum where their mouth is, so to speak. I would simultaneously push the point that by all accounts there are NO pre-Lovecraft Necronomicons.
the obsession with the Necronomicon is typically on the part of hyper-intellectuals (academics) whose knowledge and experience would otherwise preclude the belief in said object by virtue of their solid grounding in the sciences. one might compare the Lovecraftian scenarios involving the Necronomicon and "Cthulhu Mythos" with certain episodes of short stories or television series like "The Twilight Zone", "Outer Limits", "The Night Stalker", and, especially, "X-Files" (in its single, monster-episodes).
the Necronomicon is both cherished by supposed cultists who would like to assist the Old Ones or some other Lovecraftian entity to achieve its pinnacle of power ("when the stars are right"), often at the expense of the human species, and feared by conspiracy-buffs who are somehow clued to the nefarious cosmic interlopers ready to gobble up our little planet. this brings to light immediately the tendency of participants and converts to the ostensible goals of these extraterrestrials to be insane, mad, sociopathological, or twisted into shadows of their former human selves. those who research on the fringes of such cults tend to begin resembling that which they are studying (compare Mulder in the X-files and how he is seen in the FBI as a fruitcake).
in fact, the power objects such as the Necronomicon which may be used by Lovecraftian storytellers (whether between the pages of a book or in such interesting contexts as role- playing games) are usually coercive, corrupting of those who come into contact with them, and yet there is the promise, as with so many Cosmic Antagonists, of some future role of power as an underling to the New Aeon Rulers. sometimes the very experience of having contact with the book at all is sufficient to warrant its pursuit without regard for the possible consequences (compare how Dr. Pretorius and his assistants and obsessed followers react to his Resonator in the Lovecraft-inspired film "From Beyond": their search for extended human experiences and becoming a part of an ambiguous psychic conglomerate monster defies rationality).
the Necronomicon specifically contains the rituals and symbols needed to summon powerful entities who, if they don't decide to have hir for dinner, may (here is the lure) be beneficent to the spell-worker, no matter the price that one must pay for the ritual. this appears to be a kind of Faustian pact, untold short-term glories and promises of future shelter from a coming Apocalypse which one is helping to make happen exchanged for assisting antagonists to the human species in gaining a foothold (compare the corporate enterprise in films like 'Aliens' who try to keep and breed the alien species, yet in Lovecraftian stories assistance more often activates through ritual summoning, conversion of other cultists, or merely laying the groundwork for others to do likewise). some of the cultist conversion occurs through the dimension of dreams (as with Cthulhu, who is said to be contacting converts therein).
here is an egregore of the Book of Power, including grimoires such as "The Lesser Key of Solomon" or "The Goetia", the "Book of Shadows", which may be said to contain (at least access to) unspeakable power and a technological description beyond the bounds of ordinary scientific understandings. the Necronomicon falls into the coercive or destructive end of these books, which span from simple books of spells and formulae to cosmic formularies and tools of the Sorcerer Supreme ("The Book of the Vishanti" in Doctor Strange comics), to social contracts with deities ("Torah", "Old Testament", "New Testament", "Qur'an") of a presumed positive attitude toward humans and reservoirs of mystical power ("The Book of Five Rings", "Tao Teh Ching", "I Ching", "Diamond Sutra", termas of various sorts, cf. "Liber Grimoiris" by Frater Nigris at
next we must ask what benefit the Necronomicon is presumed to lend to its finders.
there are two levels from which to respond to this question:
(a) from the context of the stories associated with Lovecraft's constructions: the character's stated or implied motivations in encountering the Necronomicon or its class of magical item
(b) from the context of nonfictional usage of these kinds of magical items regardless of their fictional descriptions and reputations.
considering each in turn...
(a) there is no rational motivation for individuals, knowing what the reader knows, to pursue these books, determine their reality, or apply them toward nefarious and sociopathological ends. usually the characters 'fall under the spell' of the nefarious object, their curiosity leads them to an understanding of "what humans ought never know", their academic standards are abandoned in favor of their gradually increasing obsession with possessing and (usually merely providing a false veneer for) sheltering others from the horrible effects of the Book of Power.
the premise behind the fictional stories is usually that the character begins from a standpoint of radical disbelief, yet whose skepticism inspires hir to examine even what could seem flaky leads in a survey of whatever subject they happen to find compelling (esp. archaeology, anthropology, or similar sciences in which the alien might be discovered amongst general historical simian remains or cosmological traces).
the character cannot HELP but become convinced of the aweful horror that everything she knew about the world as presented from 'the scientific method' is WRONG, and that, lurking just beneath a filmy coating of conspiracy or occultism, such objects of power exist and would lead to catastrophes in both academic as well as existential human realms if the objects of power were to "get into the wrong hands".
(b) where this fits in with the world outside of fiction is of course the controversy surrounding the Necronomicon in its various versions promoted by post-Lovecraftian authors and "discoverers". how much one is willing to accept of the outlandish (and classic, for its genre) fiction Lovecraft penned determines immediately what one is to make of and to what ends one might find use for the book.
at the most intellectual and academic end of the theoretical spectrum, books in and of themselves do not contain power. their contents may make certain natural human experiences possible for those who choose to perform in the manner that may be described therein. the rituals or knowledge which is contained in the Necronomicon, being a reflection of the works of a fiction author, will never amount to much more than amusing entertainment or the basis for a peculiar kind of ceremonial magic (on par, possibly, with that which uses the medieval grimoires as its basis). at best one might use a Necronomicon to further one's spiritual development, at worse become lost in a fantasy world absent the discernment between fact and fiction, true power and insanity.
from the perspective of the most liberal-minded rationalist, books can contain configurations of information which may have transformative effects upon the people and cultures to whom they are exposed. fictional works like Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" contain believable theories (mixed with fiction) about how religio-magical texts may function as a kind of information-virus that can be instrumental in shaping entire societies, perhaps the whole of the human species. the Book of Power, from this more imaginative perspective, could catalyze personal and sociological changes undreamt by previous authors. while it might be a stretch to accept Elder Gods transported through time and space vying for the minds and souls of a hominid species on a speck of dirt circling a medium- sized star (the rationalist evaluation of many a science- fiction story), there is no arguing that certain texts have become the focus of intense human obsession, and may have some innate structural or conceptual content which makes possible what would othewise seem outlandish and unnatural.
as a demon-summoner, the Necronomicon appears to be the apex of challenge to the adventurous, and symbolizes, if not functioning as, the mechanism by which one might bring into one's personal sphere of consciousness that alien element, forgotten and displaced by the development of civilization and higher "education".
from the perspective of the religious, the Necronomicon must seem the epitome of evil, surely the comparable Shadow of the Bible to Christians, a textual Satan that can only result in doom and the demise of human concerns at the expense of faint promises to a deluded few. its very existence or fable must be denied and rejected so as never to give rise to human behaviours that replicate the cruel and insane outcomes depicted in Lovecraft's fiction.
the general attraction of the Necronomicon is not that it contains secrets of parapsychology, E.S.P., telekinesis, or precognition, but that it affords allegiance with potent and dangerous entities whose fictional basis is disputed by many of those who make a study of gods and spirits with the intent of communication and pact-making.
all of that said, I have constructed a text whereby the summoning and encounter with Lovecraftian monsters could form an important part of one's magical enterprise. in a nutshell, one may use the discordian experiences of such encounters as ballast against the rigidifying and orderly experiences to which one is likely to be subject as part of any human mystical regimen (because they all appear to be extremely structured and disciplined). you can evaluate this text yourself at
whether any particular Necronomicon might assist one in this can only be determined through trial and error, the review by magicians of these texts being the most important criteria by which they ought be assessed. posts to alt.magick, therefore, which detail one's personal experiences in using a Necronomicon should clearly identify which one is being used and how, what one's intent is in the rituals or spells, and what results have been obtained. continued wrangling about whether any particular volume is "fake" or "worthless" just wastes all our time.
it should be noted that just because a Necronomicon is a hoax for having made a false claim of origin, this does NOT mean that the book is necessarily a 'fake' in its entirety and its contents should ALSO be evaluated from the standpoint of a comparison with Lovecraft's criteria. any hoax (originating post-Lovecraft while laying claim to more ancient origins) may contain elements that a 'real' Necronomicon can be said to have, despite its inherently falsified premise of creation.
I know this last point may not sit well with academics of library science, but it constitutes a rational means of evaluating a Book of Power mentioned by an author of fiction which emerges from human consciousness as a magical text (grimoire). historical origins are only ONE facet of a Necronomicon assessment, one that has unfortunately obsessed both sides of those who engage the debate.
one might create a book which conformed to all of Lovecraft's descriptions without making a claim that the book is pre-Lovecraftian or derived from physical historical sources (as compared to having been received from the astral plane as a text which conforms to the character and content of what Lovecraft imagined, having the quality of having been written by Alhazred, during that time period, containing references and magical content almost believable to the academic and definitely believable to the student of Cthulhu mythos).
Lovecraft obtained at least some of his information about the text in DREAMS, so the details are likely to be hazy. we should identify which details are consistent and certain, which are inconsistent and certain, which are uncertain, and which are single-mentions that do not fit in with the rest. out of this batch of data we can arrive at a criteria for rational assessment of Necronomicons without regard to hassling with the academic and mystical soap opera arguments about physical origins, extending outward from Lovecraft's knowledge-base.
the smallest possible construction of a Necronomicon would contain the quotes from Lovecraft's works on pages numbered appropriately, whether or not they pertained to a numerological sequence. the book would also conform to Lovecraft's general description also, and its content would resemble in character the historical influences that Lovecraft described in certainty. any ambiguity in HPL's data would allow some variation, and the rest would have to conform to the minimal standards constructed.
of those which I am currently aware, here are important features (I'll add more as I become aware of them through my studies of as I'm informed by those more scholarly than I):
* physical historical origin -- since we know that Lovecraft dreamed up the name and concept of the book, any presentation that claims what is offered is the historical referent to Lovecraft's ideas should of course be considered a hoax until and unless documentation on such an historical existence was presented for review (unlikely in the extreme and it would reveal that Lovecraft was actually lying about his having created the concept).
* scholarly features in content -- the Latin by Wormius would need to contain a prefatory note indicating that the Arabic original was lost.
* ideal presentation -- the best rendering of a complete "Al Azif"/"Necronomicon" would be a presentation comparing Arabic (the supposed written language of Alhazred), Greek, Latin, and the language of sale, side by side for comparison by the interested academic.
since people have taken to calling the FAQ I edited for the usenet newsgroup alt.magick "nagasiva's alt.magick FAQ", I have created this admittedly biased file of responses to questions that I have seen come up over and over in reply. this file is a direct proof contrary to these false claims.
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