Posted by: Nyxks | August 17, 2007

Companion to the Apprentice Wizard

Companion to the Apprentice Wizard
by Oberon Zell- Ravenheart © 2006
New Page Books
ISBN 1-56414-835-1
261 pages plus paper crafts and biographical data
Paperback
$18.99 (U.S.) $29.95 (Canada)
reviewed by: Mike Gleason

This is the second in an ongoing series of books intended to convey the knowledge of true wizarding. It is not inspired by, or affiliated with, the Harry Potter universe. The one point of similarity to the Harry Potter universe is the division of Oberon’s “Gray School of Wizardry” (www.GraySchool.com ) into seven “year levels.” Even that, however, hearkens back to the medieval concepts of seven being a sacred number (.e.g., seven planets, seven days of the week, etc.); where do you thin Ms. Rowling got her idea? It is intended to be a modern-day equivalent of the old, handwritten grimoires of the medieval times, brought up to date and rendered more easily accessible. Therefore I was not surprised (although I was a little disappointed) to run into errata even before finishing the Foreword. After all, the old grimoires contained their share of mistakes. Of course, the old writers didn’t have the advantage of modern spell-checker programs.

This book is filled with numerous illustrations, including some at the back of the book which are intended to be photocopied and made into some of the tools every competent wizard needs to own.

Oberon and the faculty of the Gray School have divided wizardry into various specialties and assigned colors to each specialty. Thus each article in this book is identified by author’s name and the color of their specialty.

This book is not about lessons and teachings, but about practical exercises and projects to make. This is a book about doing, not thinking. We are reminded that while magick and wizardry form part of many religions (from Christianity to Wicca) it is, in and of itself, NOT religious in nature. Consequently, anyone can become a wizard, if they are willing to devote the time and energy required to develop the skills needed.

As with its predecessor (Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard) and its upcoming successors (Grimoire for the Journeyman Wizard [and its Companion], Grimoire for the Master Wizard [and its Companion], and Grimoire for the Adept [and its Companion]) there are numerous contributors to this volume, all of whom bring their own unique strengths to the mix. They occasionally present multiple viewpoints on a given topic or exercise.

In the third section of this book (Practice) you will find numerous simple spells and incantations covering a wide range of topics from blocking ill-wishes to consecrating your tools to attracting prosperity. It also includes candle magic (including directions for dressing your candles), hints on performing magick unobtrusively in public and a variety of other topics.

I did notice at least one glaring omission in this book. On page 65 there appears the statement: “Indeed, there’s an entire set of cut-out runes in this very book, as well as a very effective listing of their divinatory meaning!” Oops, no such set or listing appear in this volume.

Perhaps the most disconcerting errors in this book (and there are many physical errors) is the frequency of spacing errors. There are way too many instances of dropped spacing (i.e., “sheis” for “she is,” etc.). Please Note that I am referring to production errors, not errors of fact in the text. While it is not possible to verify every statement by every contributor, the information contained between the covers of this book is invaluable for the purpose of learning wizardry. Also, you need to be aware that there are references to “performance magic” (so-called “stage magic” or “illusionary magic”) in this book. And that is a valid part of wizard training. Belief on the part of non-wizards contributes to the energy available for “real magick.”

Each of the sixteen chapters (or Departments) contains some of the basic background information you need to know as well as practical advice, exercises and experiments designed to further your knowledge and experience. However, and this is a big however, each of the sections is designed to be an expansion of material contained in Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard. Thus it is expected that you will either have read that book first, or that you will have it at hand to read concurrently.

Oberon says he wanted to call this book Practi***** for the Apprentice Wizard, but was overruled by the publishers who felt that readers wouldn’t pick up such a book. They were probably right, although the original title has a better “flavor” in my personal opinion.

In the old days wizards were among the best educated members of any society. Especially in Western societies they were among the few literate members. Therefore, following in that tradition, the Gray School and its faculty stress the importance of a well-rounded education. As well as learning wizardry in general the students are also expected to have more than a passing knowledge of Beast Mastery (Animal Husbandry) and Mathemagicks (Mathematics). Do not think that this is all about the esoteric. Even the section on Alchemy has practical (as well as delicious) applications.

There are occasional religious rites in this book. After all, theurgy (“god-work”) is a part of wizardry. The rites are given in “Department XIV: Ceremonial Magick,” right where you would expect them to be. They include some purely Ceremonial Magick rites (The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram; the Qabalistic Cross; and the invocation of the Archangels) and some more Wiccan/Pagan rites (Drawing Down the Moon and a Full Moon Dedication ritual). Still, this forms only a small part of a wizard’s necessary training.

Oberon is well aware of the need for modern-day wizards to receive the best training possible, which is why he has assembled such a diverse staff for the Gray School and as contributors to these very valuable additions to the curriculum of wizard education. And this is why the curriculum covers as many diverse topics as it does – Wizardry, Nature Studies, Practice, Metapsychics, Healing, Wortcunning, Performance Magic, Alchemy, Lifeways, Beast Mastery, Cosmology and Metaphysics, Mathemagicks, Ceremonial Magick, Lore, and Sorcery. Some of these topics have long been neglected (except by specialists) and will definitely enrich the modern wizard’s education.

My only quibble with the set-up is putting it into seven “year levels.” And that is merely a personal disagreement, as I feel that it might make readers feel that it is no more real than Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. This is much too valuable an education to risk it being dismissed out-of-hand.

It looks at this point in time as if there will be at least six more books in this series. I fully intend to pick up copies of each as they become available and add them to my personal library (and if you knew how cheap I am, that statement alone speaks volumes).

By all means, if you are interested in wizardry, add this book to your library. More than that, read it and do the work you need to. You will certainly reap the benefits of it.

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