The Magical Knowledge series by Josephine McCarthy is awesome and I wish that I had copies of these books when I was first properly starting out on the path. I feel that her work builds upon the writings of occultists such as WE Butler who place an emphasis on "work" and "service" rather than treat the occult as a joyride. Sadly today we are seeing a rise of alleged "black magic" books which are telling students that they can act as they please. Happily books such as this by Josephine McCarthy act as a sane counter to such misguided nonsense.
Book One: Foundations, is broken into two parts a more theoretical first part and then a more practical second part which really gives one all the lone practitioner (or small group) need to get going. Both sections are well written in a practical down to earth way which puts you at your ease straight away. Josephine comes across as an experienced no-nonsense writer who has years of hard one experience and this is exactly the attitude needed when on the path. Part one is vital and does more than just "set the scene" regarding walking the magical path. It goes deeply into how the occult fits into society today, helping the student to avoid the pitfalls and skirt around the fads which shape any practice. However these initial chapters go deeper than this and also introduce the reader to concepts such as inner work, the inner library and contacts.
The second part really jumps in with some practical exercises. Josephine's approach revolves around vision magic so we start early on with the vision of the void which is very much the heart of the practice. From here one can retreat into the void to ground and balance oneself, as a jumping off point to other locations such as the desert etc. The exercise is simple but will repay dividends a million fold for anyone taking the trouble to practice it.
This section then goes into each of the tools used by a magician such as the altar, sword, shield etc. Discussing what they are used for and how they work. We then go through the consecration method to use with these implements making them ready for the work. This moves naturally on to creating a consecrated space and then bringing in the contacts, which really are key to this work. From here in theory one has all the information one needs to get going - although there is plenty to learn and it is easier to follow a good well written book such as this (and subsequent volumes) to gain a rich picture of working as a practical magician.
A lot of information in Josephine's books has never before been published and whilst it can be argued that this information is dangerous and so should not be published, I disagree with that view - in this day and age there are students who work alone and really need this information to help them open their inner perception. It is actually very difficult to harm yourself using occult means unless you have been developed enough to be able to make it work - ie learned to meditate, have reasonably clear inner vision etc. Anyone at this point should really have learned enough common sense to not do stupid things.
Finally there are a number of appendices which go into tarot reading, consecration of salt and water and making a talisman. These serve perfectly to round off the starter who having worked with the book needs a few basic skills in readiness for the next step.
The Magical Knowledge series of books are sane, balanced and brilliant. I would be happy to place a bet that 100 years from now these will be occult classics standing rightfully next to works by WE Butler and Dion Fortune as guides along the path which will enrich and help generations of students to come. I shall be placing reviews of the subsequent books here on Amazon as they become available.
I really cannot recommend this book highly enough and reiterate that I wish so much that I had this book in my hands years ago when I was starting. From reading this I have come to realise that whilst I still had so much to learn I am lucky that experienced magicians such as Josephine have written such works which are invaluable to starters and more experienced people alike.