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Author Topic: Jason Miller  (Read 317 times)

Aster Breo

Jason Miller
« on: June 09, 2018, 08:43:10 pm »
I've seen Jason Miller's name come up here and on my FB feed as someone whose writing on practical magic is worth reading.

Thoughts about that?

For those who recommend his books, which would you suggest starting with?

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Jenett

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Re: Jason Miller
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2018, 10:47:03 am »
For those who recommend his books, which would you suggest starting with?

I'd be one of those people who recommend him!

For a place to start, unless you have a strong need for one of the things he's done a complete book on, I'd recommend his Elements of Spell Crafting with one caveat, which is that the distilled information in there is excellent, but that if you're not somewhat familiar with the range of his other work, some of the examples will not make a lot of sense. It's basically a very very concentrated summary of much of his other work, divided into a series of key ideas, brief explanations, and a few examples of applications.

I think there's plenty of useful material in there without understanding the examples: he approaches it by explaining a concept, giving some examples that don't rely on knowing other references, and then including a few "This is something I've done with X and Y...." without really explaining X and Y.

In that text, it's very clearly a deliberate decision (and I think a sensible one) to keep the book tight and sharp, and you can likely pick up most of the context for all of his examples with a little searching on his blog. (By the way, here is his site, and here is his blog.)

If you want something with a bit more of the explanatory material included, start with his The Sorceror's Secrets

What I like about him:

- He is very practical. He talks about why there are fancy fussy things in magical systems, and what we gain by including them, and what choices we're making when we adjust them, rather than just being "Oh, you need to do that" without explanation, or "You can skip that" (both of which personally drive me up a wall.)

- I really like his approach to macro and micro enchantments - basically, how to approach different kinds of issues, and which ones are most amenable to different kinds of magical focus. The idea that you can't just do magic and have money fall out of a tree onto your head, that there needs to be some way for the thing you want to reasonably show up, is a huge one, as are his comments on time and things unfolding.

- He writes well, and clearly, and he assumes his audience are thoughtful intelligent people who want more than "Do this thing this way", but without making a ton of assumptions about where they're coming from - he's very deliberately talking about magic, not religion.

- He has done a significant amount of teaching about magic and consulting magical work for others, and it shows - he has a wealth of experiences to draw from, and he's been able to do a meaningful amount of 'if I explain it this way, people take this away from it' development that a lot of people don't bring to the table.

One thing that may or may not work for different people is that he's drawing from a number of different magical traditions. He does talk about that, when it's relevant (and in the case of the ones with initiatory or training requirements, he's put in the time himself in those traditions.) A lot of what he focuses on is not "You should do the same things I've done" but "If you invest the time in a tradition that does these kinds of things, here are some options for developing that" and providing a model of what that looks like for someone else.

(In other words, don't do what he did, but look at what he's done with his experience and training, and apply the useful parts to your own practice.)
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Aster Breo

Re: Jason Miller
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 02:01:06 am »


I'd be one of those people who recommend him!


Thanks, Jenett! Your recommendation speaks volumes about the quality of this author. I never have any reservations about resources you suggest.

Could you say a little more about the similarities and differences between the 2 books you mentioned?

I have a decent understanding of theory and a bit of practical experience, but it was a LONG time ago and not particularly successful. I think I'm looking for something more on the side of a "how to" manual, but with enough of the theory or underpinnings to help me understand *why* as well as *how*. If that makes any sense.

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Re: Jason Miller
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2018, 03:51:51 am »

Thanks, Jenett! Your recommendation speaks volumes about the quality of this author. I never have any reservations about resources you suggest.

Could you say a little more about the similarities and differences between the 2 books you mentioned?

I have a decent understanding of theory and a bit of practical experience, but it was a LONG time ago and not particularly successful. I think I'm looking for something more on the side of a "how to" manual, but with enough of the theory or underpinnings to help me understand *why* as well as *how*. If that makes any sense.

I've read all of Elements of Spellcrafting and much of The Sorceror's Secrets. The former is largely an overview of spell construction, while the latter delves more into specific magical techniques such as meditation. I find the organization and structure of Elements makes it easier and more engaging to read, but that might be personal preference, and anyway they both have their uses.
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Re: Jason Miller
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2018, 10:36:52 am »
I have a decent understanding of theory and a bit of practical experience, but it was a LONG time ago and not particularly successful. I think I'm looking for something more on the side of a "how to" manual, but with enough of the theory or underpinnings to help me understand *why* as well as *how*. If that makes any sense.

I think if you want more of why, and more background in general, I'd start with Sorceror's Secrets: I really really love the clarity and distillation of Elements of Spellcraft but I think it's probably more helpful once you have some grounding.

I'd also suggest wandering through his blog posts: probably a really good example of his style is his post on wallet magic. This was one of those things that made me go "OH!" and go and revamp a couple of things I was doing. And they give a reasonable sense of the range of approach and scope.

Also, to add to your possible reading list, one that's on my own to be read shelf (where obviously I haven't read it yet, but it came highly recommended by several people whose work I like) is Aidan Wacheter's Six Ways - it's again about distilling down to core principles.
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