This is a reply to a letter that was sent to me via my youtube channel. The person who wrote to me wants to know where to start in magic and occult practices. Her focus, as it seems from her letter is on magic and demonology.
“I want to get back to the way that I was and I think that starting my own compendium of knowledge well get me back to that. I was wondering how you started out building your research materials. I know that I need to re-read a lot of books that I’ve been just letting sit in my personal library, but I have no idea where to start into the more detailed things like specific demons and magical practices.
I also wanted to know if it would be alright to print off copies of your essays on your website to put them in a binder for reference materials. I would really appreciate your insight.”
You are more than welcome to print out my writings and use them for reference, as long as they are for your own use. Remember, though that I keep my pages updated and I am always researching new ideas, so my pages go through changes and edits over time.
My first books that I bought in 2004 when I started my new adventure into Satanism, was the books that I felt would be the foundation of my practices. These were The Satanic Bible The Satanic Rituals & The Satanic Witch[LaVey], which taught LaVey’s basic philosophies. And just for fun, I got The Necronomicon [Simon]. I wanted to make sure that my collection would start with these books. I think these basic books belong in a satanic library, especially the Satanic Bible because it is the Satanist’s primer.
So, how did I build my research materials? I lived two blocks from downtown at the time, and there was a shop called ‘Abraxas Books’ , a used bookstore that had a very large section of metaphysical books. Every week I would make a trip there, and I would always find something that would spark my interest. One of the first books that I got from that place was The Book of Black Magic and Ceremonial Magic [A.E. Waite]. This was a book that had listings and interpretations of Grimoires. I also got a copy of The Black Arts [Cavendish]
Some books I got for reference, and others I got so that I could try what was in them and experiment with different things. Books on demonology that I found to be useful were the Dictionary of Satanism [Baskin] and the book, A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels [Carol Mack]. These books had a realistic interpretation of demons. Other books that ive seen on demonology were Christian based and weren’t really as historical about the origins of demons as they could have been.
How did I know which books to buy? I didn’t. my only intention was to find books that focused on the things that I liked, and at the time it was demonology and black magic, summoning, and witchcraft. Along the way I learned what was useful for me, and what wasn’t.
I started a ‘book of shadows’ and I kept a magical diary in spiral notebooks. I was living alone at the time so it was convenient for me to pay attention to recording what happened for me [magically, spiritually], what i was doing, why i was doing it, how I was doing it, and the results. my book of shadows had things like the runes/magickal alphabets, the elements, the planets and other correspondences, and things that I had found useful in magic.
The idea was to have all the information in one place. You can see an example of this early work at my video -> My Research Materials. I am not very organized by nature, so at the time it was a challenge and it really kept me focused on my goals, and I learned a lot along the way.
I also got into tarot reading, because I had a desire to increase my intuitive abilities, and I wanted to learn a form of divination. So I got the The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck.. When I was learning it, I wrote down the names/correspondences of the cards. i found that by writing it was easier to learn each aspect, plus it helped me to have a reference that i could refer to when i was learning how to read tarot.
At the time,  I had my cat, my computer, my ritual items and books, my clothes my art supplies..and that was about it! because of my background as an artist, I have always been the type to avoid ‘materialism’. There were only certain things that I felt that I needed. For years, I only had my clothes, and my art supplies, and not much else *by choice*, because all I cared about was my art, and living as an artist. living as an artist meant that I spent most of my time and money on my art, and art materials, and really I didn’t care about much else.
when I had my apartment, I really limited the things that I bought, that didn’t have anything to do with what I needed. this means that i had no tv, and it was great! i could basically fit all of my belongings into a few boxes. This was not unusual for me. it helped me to focus on why I was really there, and what i was doing and I was able to spend a lot of time in study and practice. I wasn’t completely isolated from society, though, of course – I had my job, and the hours allowed me to maintain my lifestyle as I needed.
Along with reading things that interested me for specific reasons, and building and maintaining my ritual space, i also spent a lot of time in meditative practices. I studied Initiation into Hermetics, [Bardon] so that i could learn about elemental magic. I also spent time with meditation and mind control. I explored the use of crystals so that I could get used to feeling energy. I worked with chakra meditation to get in tune with my body and my intuition. i never studied anything specific, but I did experiment with different practices.
So, I had my ritual space, my books, my ritual tools, my spiritual practices, and my tarot reading. I also had my book of shadows and my magical diary. All of these things helped me to stay focused. the point is to immerse yourself into practice, along with study. I am not going to recommend one single book as the absolute way to go, because there is no such thing. There are many different practices and you have to find what suits you, and then do it.
You could always get into a specific practice, however. You mention demons and magic. For that I recommend the practice of demonolatry. there is a website called ‘OFS Demonolatry‘ that has lots of information on demons, and magic, and they have published several books on demonolatry. You will find that they also focus on hermetics and elementalism as a basis for demonic magic. Some of their books, such as Goetic Demonolatry [Ellen Pursewell] and The Complete Book of Demonolatry [S. Connolly] are workbooks for demonolatry magic. I do not like the book ‘demonolatry’ by Nicholas Remmy, it was writ in 1595 and it is medieval witch hunt material.
The keyword is dedication, I would have never gotten as far as I have without being dedicated to learning and experimenting. and nobody showed me the road, i had to make one for myself. I am glad that I have, because as an independent satanist I would have it no other way.
If you want to get motivated and inspired, I encourage you to take that step to begin today. And, if you would like to join my discussion group, visit the HISS [Horde of Independent Satanists]
See Also: Good Books for Beginners
The Book of Black Magic by Arthur Edward Waite (Weiser Books)
The Necronomicon by Simon (Avon)
The Satanic Rituals: Companion to The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey (Avon)
The Satanic Witch by Anton Szandor LaVey (Avon)
The Complete Book of Demonolatry by S. Connolly (DB Publishing)
The Complete Book of Demonolatry Magic by J. Thorp (DB Publishing)
Lessons In Demonolatry by S. Connolly (DB Publishing)
Demonolatry Rites by S. Connolly (DB Publishing)
Goetic Demonolatry by Ellen Purswell (DB Publishing)
A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirits
by Carol K. Mack (Holt Paperbacks)
Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon (Merkur Pub Co.)