Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review: Crossed Keys

Ok, since Conjureman Ali and Gordon posted their reviews, I figured I'd better get my ass in gear and post mine as well.

Judging the Cover

I think I got a better edition than Gordon did. Mine's covered in cloth, with the crossed keys imprinted on the cover in gold. You can see where the gold has rubbed off on my copy, but that was my own fault. I was looking at how they had printed the gold on the fabric, and I ran my thumb across it, flaking off the ink or paint. If you get the cool version, don't rub it!

See the little yellow ribbon poking out the bottom? That's right, it has a bookmark. Very cool. Mine is set to page 83 at the moment, where as Gordon noted, Michael mentions me.* The book is printed on good thick paper, using a heavy ink. Scarlet Imprint makes quality books, that's for damned sure. I'll need to read through it a lot to get it broken in.

Which won't be a problem, I assure you.

The Review

The introduction puts the reader in the perspective of the author, which I enjoy a great deal. I get more out of a book when I can identify with the author. Set and setting of the work reveal a lot about the nature of the Genius of the work, giving insight into the purpose behind the manifestation of an Idea.

Alright, so as you may know, Crossed Keys is two grimoires, the Black Dragon and the Enchiridion of Pope Leo III. These are the two Keys referenced in the title, and they are crossed because they are on the surface oppositional approaches to magical influence, one demonic, the other holy by Christian theology. They represent two ways of getting the same kinds of things that magicians are usually after, health and health maintenance, sex, and wealth, not necessarily in that order. And divine wisdom in various forms, but mostly to get stuff, to stay safe, and to feel secure in an unsafe world in spite of the many and brutal forms of death and suffering we face daily.

The Black Dragon

The Black Dragon is clearly laid out in this edition. You have everything you need to be able to establish a quick and ready access to the Demonic Kings of Hell.  Mr. Cecchetelli presents the information clearly and concisely. I love the anecdotes he provides, it's the best thing magician-authors can do for their readers to get a comprehension of the magic they're talking about. It makes the magic real, and sets the expectations of the readers so they know whether the results they're getting are typical or if they're failing. He doesn't exaggerate the results, and his experiences with the spirits is consistent with my own. I'm left knowing, as a magician who's worked with demons and angels, that Mr. Cecchetelli's experiences are real.

And, well, risky. It's demon magic. There's a risk. Be careful. This magic is intended for those who are magically mature, experienced, cautious, and wise. Don't do demon magic when you're scared, stressed, freaked out, or angry as hell. Don't do demon magic without giving proper constraints. Don't conjure up deadly entities without a circle of protection and the prescribed talismans that keep you safe, and you should be fine.

So did you hear me? I WARNED you. Demon magic is dangerous. Ok?

Good.

That said, this grimoire is fucking awesome. The Conjuration of the Book that it starts out with is great. There's a place for the Mark of the Spirit of the book. I can see it there, waiting for me to record it in the physical realm, waiting for me to conjure the spirit and go exploring the realms with it. Man. Tempting, I tell you, tempting as all hell. I'd like to see Scarlet Imprint publish this with another hundred or so blank lined papers to use in recording the images, names, seals, and characteristics of the other spirits you'll meet if you use this. The Black Dragon Spiritus Libri edition, bound in black leather embossed with the seals...

Heh.

The Enchiridion of Pope Leo III

As you may expect, I spent a lot more time going over this part of Crossed Keys in more detail than I did with the Black Dragon. Christian Hermetic Magician attending a Catholic Church, what? Yeah. That's me. This grimoire was made for me.

The Psalm magic is awesome. The Orison magic is awesome. The spirit names are fascinating, and I have their seals, and you can bet I'm going to be conjuring them. There's a handy quick and easy conjuration rite outlined too. I'll be including some Trithemian methods in my approach, but I'll go over it in detail as I go along. I'm really interested in a lot of the applications of the rites.

This grimoire has three sections, Psalm magic up front, the Orisons with a quick reference guide for what to use them for, and then a more detailed section on applications of the Orisons. Comprehensive instructions, and really good insights. It's just the kind of thing that I need to have on hand to get me thinking of new ways to do things. I'm loving it a lot. It's the kind of magic you need to know if you're going to be a magician. You should go through each of the Orisons some time and evaluate the purpose of each one. Ask yourself if you have a method of accomplishing the same goals, and if you don't, ask why not. I found out a lot in a few short hours that confirmed some of my practices, and encouraged me to pursue additional ones.

Conclusion

Altogether, Crossed Keys is definitely one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. I highly recommend it to everyone. There's something for all kinds of conjure magicians to be found. I wish all the grimoires were as easy to understand and came with the kinds of anecdotes he provides.

* Can I tell you how really good it feels to be mentioned like that? I mean, really really good. It's an honor, as they say, a weird sense of humbleness and pride at the same time. I may brag about it in the future.



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