Josephine McCarthy’s book Magical Knowledge Book 1 is just such a book. It is the type of book that you will be thinking about long after you have read it and you will be reading it a couple of times. And it will be well worth the second read. I have always like to reread certain books after I have had a revelation or period of new understanding and I suspect that Josephine’s books will be some of those that I reach for after such a time.
Magical Knowledge Book 1 is written plainly and accessible while not dumbing down the subject matter which is a rare and wonderful thing. This book is interesting and thoroughly thought provoking in places and it is obvious that the author is writing from a place of practice and experience, not just research.
I find it interesting that book two was released the year before book one, but having pondered writing a book on things magical and witchy I am also not surprised. Having seen what is out there in beginner books and knowing Pagans are yammering for more advanced texts it makes sense to write a more advanced text first, so to speak. Also writing the second book first would, in my mind, give a stronger focus for the first book. It can be difficult to write about stuff you did 20 years go and the balls-ups you made with the clarity needed for people just starting out or for those who take their magical path seriously. So by writing book two first, in my mind it would be clearer what would be needed for book one.
There are a few typos that I saw and given that I don’t generally notice such things that means that the editor needed to play closer attention. However this does not detract from the content. And over all I have to say this book is well written.
The first part of the book is essentially about the theology of ceremonial magic, focusing on understanding the practice for navigating the inner worlds, and meeting inner beings safely. Starting with what Josephine describes as the Void. The Void, as I understand how Josephine has described it, is a safe space between this realm and that of the abyss and other inner realms.
Josephine is certainly thorough while giving simple but valuable exercises that build up your inner muscles in order to be fit, both in mind and body to work magic on the inner planes.
Josephine also warns about becoming too focused on one path or theme. This I suspect would be because your vision becomes blinkered, like that of a cart horse. It is my opinion that spending time with and studying other magical practice and theory, gives you good insight and deepens your understanding of your own practice. It’s a contrast and compare thing, becoming focused too much on one thing can make it difficult to deepen the understanding of your own practice.
Does that make sense?
Chapter 4, Inner Contacts and Inner Beings threw me until it was made clear that it was ritual sex magic that was being discussed. I was having issues imagining the billions of beings popping into existence on this plane when people were engaged in shagging. It was, to say the least, blowing my mind. However, once I figured out the book was talking about ritual sex it made much more sense.
In the second half of the book, she writes about the more ceremonial types of magic and practice. And it is kind of here that the book and I part ways, but not because what she has written is not valuable or incorrect in any way, but more because I am not a ceremonial magician. Nor am I able to currently dedicate a room to create a temple space, as I live with two other flatmates. However, when I do set up a personal temple space I will certainly be taking into account some of what is discussed in the second half of Magical Knowledge Book 1.
Several times I have read about inner places, aka the Void and the Abyss, to discover these are places I have been before. Places I have accidentally been or fallen into. This book teaches how to access these places and their various beings with intent, by conscious choice and how to do so safely, without as Josephine puts it ‘blowing yourself up’. It could be said that I have a natural talent for such things. This book has given me pause and a way of traveling to these places by choice rather than accidentally. To essentially have more control over my natural abilities despite not being a ceremonial magician in any shape, way or form.
I have the second book and will be purchasing the third one once it is released, however I believe it will be some time before I crack the covers of either, as I intend to fully integrate and study the framework of the first. This is also one of those books that you will have to read several times, each time gaining new insight and knowledge, and I suspect that a second read will be done more slowly and with note taking.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is wishing to deepen their understanding of magic, how it works and safe ways to traverse the inner planes and meet inner contacts. This book is not just for ceremonial magical types but also very informative for those, in my opinion who are beginning or interested in spirit work, as it has a very solid framework. I have been using her void meditation in the mornings, and have found that communication with what I call a guide to be a lot clearer.
Overall I give this book 5 cups of tea out of 5 and recommend it for anyone who is past the beginner stage and looking to deepen and augment their own practice, whatever practice that may be.