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Author Topic: Any recs for books that focus on core skills?  (Read 471 times)

TsundokuTeaTime

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Any recs for books that focus on core skills?
« on: April 20, 2019, 01:37:11 pm »
I've hit a point in my studies where I'm being told that I need to go back to the basics. Having read a few 101 Wiccan and non-Wiccan books, I feel they didn't quite cut it for me since they were more of a sampler platter of magical miscellany. I would greatly appreciate any recs, no matter the medium!

On a side note: I've read about Jason Miller here on the forums and would like to know your thoughts on his works. Was curious if they had the same tone as the blog he maintains? I'm interested in all his books, but I'm wondering which one to start with.
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Allaya

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Re: Any recs for books that focus on core skills?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2019, 03:13:27 pm »
I've hit a point in my studies where I'm being told that I need to go back to the basics. Having read a few 101 Wiccan and non-Wiccan books, I feel they didn't quite cut it for me since they were more of a sampler platter of magical miscellany. I would greatly appreciate any recs, no matter the medium!

On a side note: I've read about Jason Miller here on the forums and would like to know your thoughts on his works. Was curious if they had the same tone as the blog he maintains? I'm interested in all his books, but I'm wondering which one to start with.

Depends a lot on what you consider to be 'core skills', as that varies quite a bit between the assorted flavors of faith/practice.

For example, what I'd consider a core skill would be something like being able to look at the silhouette, flying characteristics, or flash of wing pattern on a bird and consistently identify at least what Linnean family or order to which it belongs. (Example: Small, rotund bird that isn't on the ground and only makes little "pew" noises? A bullfinch, herald of yuletide.)

What sorts of things do you consider to be core skills? Or, failing that, what sort of flavor of practice or faith do you find yourself coming back to as you study?
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TsundokuTeaTime

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Re: Any recs for books that focus on core skills?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2019, 06:00:30 pm »
Depends a lot on what you consider to be 'core skills', as that varies quite a bit between the assorted flavors of faith/practice.

For example, what I'd consider a core skill would be something like being able to look at the silhouette, flying characteristics, or flash of wing pattern on a bird and consistently identify at least what Linnean family or order to which it belongs. (Example: Small, rotund bird that isn't on the ground and only makes little "pew" noises? A bullfinch, herald of yuletide.)

What sorts of things do you consider to be core skills? Or, failing that, what sort of flavor of practice or faith do you find yourself coming back to as you study?

I see your point. This is a place with a lot of diversity. I'll make sure to be more specific in the future.

Your study of birds sounds absolutely fascinating. I guess what makes defining my core skills a bit difficult is the fact that I'm seeking right now. For a while, I was doing mostly energy work based rituals/spells. I also work with a few deities. While I still do that, I'm adding a layer and breaking into necromancy.

When I was practicing communication with the spirits I got told quite blatantly that I needed to work on "core skills". I envisioned more or less protective spells/rituals and the more basic type of things like cleansing space or things of that nature. Not to mention better honing a focus on spellwork to make more use of it in the everyday context. Perhaps I need to think of it in a more necromantic context, though?
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Klaw

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Re: Any recs for books that focus on core skills?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2019, 06:18:36 pm »
I've hit a point in my studies where I'm being told that I need to go back to the basics.

To me the most basic core skill is meditation and if that isn't the answer then it should lead to it.

Ashmire

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Re: Any recs for books that focus on core skills?
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2019, 06:22:02 pm »
When I was practicing communication with the spirits I got told quite blatantly that I needed to work on "core skills". I envisioned more or less protective spells/rituals and the more basic type of things like cleansing space or things of that nature. Not to mention better honing a focus on spellwork to make more use of it in the everyday context. Perhaps I need to think of it in a more necromantic context, though?

If I got an instruction like that, I would be thinking more in terms of needing to actually practice the skills, rather than just read about them.  There's only so much "how-to" about basics that can be written in a book.  Are there things you used to do regularly that have fallen by the wayside as seemingly too basic or too time-consuming to bother with, that might be worth revisiting from a more experienced perspective? 

Of course, you know best what the exact message you got was, but that's how I would think about it first.

Jenett

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Re: Any recs for books that focus on core skills?
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2019, 09:21:22 am »
I've hit a point in my studies where I'm being told that I need to go back to the basics. Having read a few 101 Wiccan and non-Wiccan books, I feel they didn't quite cut it for me since they were more of a sampler platter of magical miscellany. I would greatly appreciate any recs, no matter the medium!

On a side note: I've read about Jason Miller here on the forums and would like to know your thoughts on his works. Was curious if they had the same tone as the blog he maintains? I'm interested in all his books, but I'm wondering which one to start with.

This is one of the things where it's going to depend what you mean by core (I'd utterly fail Allaya's, for what it's worth...)

I've got a bunch of intro articles on my website about things I consider some core places to start for religious witchcraft (which are not meant to be full 'how to do this' but at least a 'this is a thing you maybe want to learn about if you're doing this stuff' starting place). That's basically the Doing index page.

Beyond that, books I'd particularly recommend on the applicable to religious witchcraft side:

Diana Paxson's Trance-Portation - it's rather dense, and a lot of people bounce off it, but there's nothing as thorough out there about trance and pathworking types of meditation, or that has nearly as much troubleshooting material

Twelve Wild Swans (Starhawk and Hilary Valentine) is unusual in that it takes a bunch of core skills and ties them into larger arcs (three arcs, one a basic 'getting started' approach, and two others with different kinds of focus.) I find it really useful for looking at how to build things on each other.

A book not out yet, but I'm pretty sure will fit this category nicely, Briana Saussy's Making Magic (coming out in June). I've done other things through her, and she's got a real knack for breaking down what she refers to as sacred arts, in a way that is very accessible to different religious practices.

And some additional resources over here, which get a little more specific.

Jason Miller
If you've read the other threads about Jason Miller, you've already seen my comments there. I like his stuff, and he's exceptionally deft at distilling specific things down to something that makes a big difference in practice. He's also got significantly deep roots in a couple of magical traditions he doesn't talk much in detail about in his books (because they're not things he can pass along via book...) This sometimes makes his books come across in a slightly odd way, because he's looking at other more accessible practices in comparison to those traditions, and if you don't realise he's making those connections, it's a bit scattered at times.

I'd suggest either starting with a topic that is particularly on your mind (I've found his Financial Sorcery really helpful), or either Sorceror's Secrets (if you like more digressive examples) or Elements of Spell-Crafting (if you want something that's much more a distillation, and will likely require some further reading/investigating on your part: he gives a number of examples, but some of the examples don't get a lot of expansion if you haven't read his other stuff/done a blog search/etc.)

The reason I recommend him as much as I do is that reading his stuff (his approach in general, as much as 'try this specific thing this way') made me take a big step forward in terms of efficacy of magic and other workings.
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MadZealot

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Re: Any recs for books that focus on core skills?
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2019, 11:27:23 pm »
To me the most basic core skill is meditation and if that isn't the answer then it should lead to it.

This, and visualization. I like the exercises laid out in C Penczak's first Temple of Witchcraft book. The accompanying CD set is also quite useful.
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Allaya

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Re: Any recs for books that focus on core skills?
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2019, 06:51:51 am »
This, and visualization. I like the exercises laid out in C Penczak's first Temple of Witchcraft book. The accompanying CD set is also quite useful.

I myself would steer people away from his Temple of Witchcraft series. He's rather grabby (as in GIMME GIMME MIIINE) in that he's cobbled together his tradition from a lot of uncited sources and tends to avoid coughing up where he's taken things from.

If I had to choose a Penczak title to recommend, it would be The Mystic Foundation. The book is comprised entirely of exercises in what he considers to be core skills.
Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.  — Shirley Chisholm
No doubt the truth can be unpleasant, but I am not sure that unpleasantness is the same as the truth.  — Roger Ebert
It is difficult to get a person to understand something when their livelihood depends upon them not understanding it. — Upton Sinclair (adapted)
People cannot be reasoned out of an opinion that they have not reasoned themselves into. — Fisher Ames (adapted)

TsundokuTeaTime

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Re: Any recs for books that focus on core skills?
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2019, 03:41:57 am »

Apologies for not replying sooner. Currently trying to play catch up with some coursework and my health. I've been reading the replies here and have been reflecting on them. I wanted to take the time to thank all of you for giving me a lot to think about. Sometimes I get caught up with endless reading and forget to DO stuff. XD Gotta make mindfulness and meditation a daily thing again, but I've been struggling with this. Will have a more detailed reply soon, hopefully. Thanks again!
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