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On Becoming an Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician [Paperback]

Catherine MacCoun
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Feb 2009
<p style="line-height: 150%;">Many regard alchemy as a metaphor for inner transformation. But this is only half the story. According to Catherine MacCoun, alchemy is no mere metaphor. It’s real magic. Transforming the inner world is, for the alchemist, a way to transform the outer world. Through studying the principles of alchemy, we can achieve extraordinary effects from ordinary actions by understanding how the world really works. We can perceive the hidden connections between the spiritual and the material worlds. Knowledge of these connections enables us to influence external phenomena through the powers of heart and mind alone. Yet alchemy is not, like some forms of magic, the exercise of mind over matter. It is the art of taking what already exists—whatever presents itself—and transmuting the harmful into the helpful, the useless into the valuable. <p style="line-height: 150%;"> On Becoming an Alchemist initiates us into these secrets, showing us how to think, perceive, and operate as an alchemist. It offers practical advice and exercises that will help the modern magician to:

● Understand and apply basic principles of alchemy
● Transmute setbacks, failures, and losses into sources of magical power
● Navigate one’s inner world with poise, confidence, and common sense
● Intuitively show up in the right place at the right time to benefit from magical coincidences
● Discover the potentials latent in any situation by awakening subtle perception

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Trumpeter Books; 1st Edition edition (1 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590306872
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590306871
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.2 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 513,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep, magical and transformational 25 Oct 2008
With 'On Becoming an Alchemist', MacCoun has achieved the seemly impossible - a book that is at once deep and richly transformational, and yet light and highly entertaining. The book reveals more and more of itself with each read (I'm on my fourth go), but it is almost as if the words themselves don't matter that much - just reading the book and exploring the ideas set forth has changed me - read it for yourself and you will understand why ('the hermetic network' and 'Night School'). Having read many books on personal development, self help, spirituality, magic, paganism, mysticism (I could go on!), nothing has affected me as much as this book - it is, quite simply, the very best of the best.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the zen of alchemy 13 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
You don't have to aspire to be an alchemist or magician to appreciate this book. MacCoun deals with profound stuff about life in a clear and down-to-earth writing style. Having read it once I now feel the need to return to the book to re-visit and mull over some of the ideas she explores. Full of learning and wisdom that is communicated in a zen kind of way, which is to say focussed, direct, and with a sense of humour, she's sort of an Osho of alchemy.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant treatment of the topic 19 Feb 2008
By John P. Plummer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have often been disappointed by books on alchemy which descend into complex discussions of laboratory work, or reduce everything to Jungian psychology. Catherine MacCoun has given us a rare, clear, and genuinely wise treatment of alchemy from the perspective of spiritual development and inner service. My only significant quibble is that I would like to see an expansion of her treatment of polarity beyond those dynamics which can fit into the masculine/feminine (or active/passive) box. At many points through the book, I found myself wishing someone had told me these things twenty years ago. Don't miss it.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, to say the least... 22 Mar 2008
By S. Michael Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Having read several self-help and personal-improvement books over the past few years, the recent trends are hard to ignore. Most of the books on the market covering these themes tend to simplify life changes and introspective reevaluation to the point of claiming it is as easy as saying `Yes I Can'. With the popularity of The Secret and guided imagery, even talking to yourself is taken out of the equation, and simply wishing or imagining personal improvements is supposed to be enough to bring about radical change.

So reading Catherine MacCoun's book, On Becoming an Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician, is a much needed breath of fresh air in what has always seemed a cliché and uninspired genre.

MacCoun's title and subject matter may at first put some readers off with its references to arcane alchemical arts and magical properties. But what she has actually managed is to offer a fresh perspective into how people make choices, perceive the world around them, and live their lives. She does so by introducing us to an innovative blend of spiritualism and psychology, in much the same way that Alchemy itself blends scientific observation with objective mysticism.

Granted, chapters like the one that uses scenes and terminology from Harry Potter to illustrate a point may take the magician aspect of the book a tad too far for some people. But the message within is much more grounded in reality than some of the `guided imagery' feel-good books cluttering the bookstore shelves these days.

The true test of any book of this nature is the ability of the reader to glean something constructive and useful from its pages, even if they do not buy into the author's overall message. Readers of MacCoun's latest will undoubtedly have no trouble walking away wiser and more aware, no matter their take on becoming a Modern Magician. And that, as they say, is magic.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Profound Book 10 Mar 2008
By Susan - Published on Amazon.com
I've actually been moved to tears a few times since beginning this book, out of gratitude. It has answered many questions and affirmed unspoken experiences. Using the principles of alchemy as her working basis, MacCoun names inner states and energetic patterns with breathtaking clarity and freshness. It's truly a thinking person's guide to magic, magic being the transformation of poison to medicine, of ignorance to clear seeing.

The first half of the book delves into principles of magic. The second explains the 7 non-linear stages that comprise the process of magic. The names alone evoke tremendous curiosity:


MacCoun's writing and reasoning are wonderful--deadly sharp (not sure why previous reviewer found it muddled), deep, and also funny. (Love her dry sense of humor.) While describing deeply spiritual experience, she retains admirable distance from her readers, allowing us tremendous space to encounter the material on our own. This book is equal parts profundity and friendliness--not a common combination.

Thank you Catherine MacCoun. You are giving me confidence and inspiration on my personal path. "On Becoming an Alchemist" is, as another reviewer described, a new classic.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look deeper into the subject of Alchemy. 5 May 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
The pseudo-science of Alchemy was centuries of ago viewed as a true science. However, in recent times, it is simply the stuff of legends and mythology, and by most, to call Alchemy a true science would be a joke. "On Becoming an Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician" disputes this widely held viewpoint, and offers real applications of the concept, transmuting the harmful into helpful and the useless into valuable. "On Becoming An Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician" will help aspiring Alchemists understand the basic principles of alchemy, navigate one's inner world with confidence and sense, discover the potential of any situation, among others. Written by an experienced alchemist in Catherine MacCoun, "On Becoming An Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician" is highly recommended for metaphysical studies shelves and any who would look deeper into the subject of Alchemy.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing writing, astoundingly wise 22 July 2010
By K. Ahn - Published on Amazon.com
I didn't realize what I was going through until I picked up Ms. MacCoun's book and read her vivid, intelligent writing. She manages to make complicated and dense topics accessible without diluting them or their meaning. Her writing style is clean, yet also lyrical. I've read this book over a dozen times, and like the best writing, every time I go back to it, I discover something new, both within myself and the text. I cannot recommend it enough.
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