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Some useful info but a bit fluffy for my taste
on 19 September 2007
Since everyone else seems to be raving about this book I thought I'd offer an alternative view. I find the whole thing a little fluffy and fuzzy, frankly. That's not to say that there isn't useful information in here, but I'm not sure that one couldn't dig that up with a little searching on the internet.
A lot of the information is either common sense magickal knowledge (he bangs on a lot about focusing on intent during preparation) or could be better found in a book of correspondances such as Crowley's 777 or similar. There were some new correspondances I wasn't aware of, however.
The recipes section is a little odd also. It may give you a recipe and then tell you to not even consider using it, presumably since it contains strong or dangerous substances - perhaps a symptom of a culture of litagy, but nevertheless I found it strange. A simple disclaimer at the beginning of the book would be sufficient, surely? What's more, the recipes don't really contain any information other than the ingredients. He never mentions his sources for these recipes and on occasion says - "I've never been able to find substance X so use a substitute", marking out a few recipes as being not his invention. Where traditional recipes exist it would have been useful for them to be marked as such, and likewise where a recipe is simply his own devising.
My final criticism is one that I would level at all Cunningham's stuff that I've read which is that I find his writing style a little irritating. He has a tendency to point out the obvious and for condecension, and he constructs arguments in a fuzzy manner. I find it a little weak and couched in too much new age fluffiness. Being used to reading Crowley, and being accustomed to that degree of mental alacrity, it is too large a step back to stomach.
All in all some useful stuff here, if you can stomach the presentation, but little that could not be found on the internet.