Review of City Magick

I felt the need for this book in 1999, when I started practicing magic while living in a middle – sized city. I was certainly one of those who could tune in much better when I was around trees and green hills, or around natural waters. I gradually learned to sort out some signals from the overwhelming noise, generally by insulating myself from most of it in a dedicated space.

Chris Penczak took a different, braver approach. This book is about diving into the urban energy blast face-first and thriving in it. I doubt that anyone reading this needs an introduction to this author or his work, but there are the links if you do. I do not quite know how he has been able to pursue as many practices or write as many books as he has, but since I have had the pleasure of attending one of his classes when he visited Birmingham, I can happily endorse him as the real deal.

This is actually a general introduction to magical practice with specific applications for city dwellers. It was the author’s first book, so it is a bit less polished than his later efforts.

Some people might be put off by the fact that City Magick starts off with fundamental theory and basic exercises for meditation, trance work, casting circles, and so on. I have decided that basics are so important that I will always give attention to someone’s new or different approach to them (although I doubt I would buy another book with nothing beyond that to offer).

Beyond the basics of meditation and journeying, urban-style, there are a lot of suggestions for how to use the sights and symbols of urban and office life in a personalized system of magic. There is almost a Chaos Magic feel at times. This is really the heart of the book: a jumping-off place for a lifetime of experiments (or at least until you give up and move to a farm).

Among the basics covered, you will find some oil recipes. The method given uses essentially culinary amounts of common herbs steeped in oil. I think there are more effective methods, and probably better recipes. This is the only part of the book I would caution the reader about.

The present edition has new cover art and one of the coveted forewords by Judika Illes.

In general, this is good inspiration and reference for the urban magician, and highly recommended.

City Magick
Spells, Rituals, and Symbols for the Urban Witch
Christopher Penczak, Foreword by Judika Illes
ISBN: 9781578635214
Replaces ISBN 9781578632060
Book (Paperback)
Weiser Books
6 x 9
288 pages
August 1, 2012

About freemanpresson

Healer, Celto-Cherokee Pagan, Priest, Frater of the Church of the Hermetic Sciences, sometime writer, astrologer.
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2 Responses to Review of City Magick

  1. Elnigma says:

    Did you like his “Inner temple” books? I thought they weren’t even 101, and someone could get more from almost anyone else. I may really not be his audience.
    Some years ago I went to one of his seminars- he had traditional hypnosis without telling them the purpose in advance and without having that on the seminar description page – and he was telling people “if they wanted to opt-out to stay seated and quiet” instead of saying “come back later” while STILL not telling them in advance what he was planning to do and why. He clearly knew some people wouldn’t want to do it, but he still didn’t say what it was, like he was keeping it a surprise. So I sat, and I did not go under, and watched the rest go under for him.. it was awkward as hell as well as annoying. I know self-hypnosis which is self-directed,and not having someone else lead your trance. This was not self-hypnosis, this was Penczak in front with a pendulum, counting things down, and putting people asleep, having a pretty standard guided meditation in between after they were under, and then waking them up.
    I called the store the seminar took place in the following day – just politely asking they put information on their future seminars (also left a note on Penczak’s page, too) and got told this from the store owner (no response from Penczak) “Oh, hypnosis can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do”. I don’t know if that’s been studied thoroughly or not, and it could be technically the facts, but I’ll be honest, it didn’t feel right to me. And the store inadvertently told I was not the only person to call with a comment or complaint – they said there was some man who had, too, which means that someone who DID go under didn’t feel right about it.
    I don’t know.

    • The only “Temple” book I have is the Shamanic Temple, and that has a lot of good stuff in it.

      That is a pretty strange way to handle magical hypnosis in a group. I think it would be better to be explicit about it; yet hypnosis got a very bad rap in the 19th century, one from which it has yet to recover. You see things like the Golden Dawn oaths forbidding brethren from being hypnotized, Wayne Walker Atkinson (writing as Swami Panchadasi) bad-mouthing it, and so on. It is an extremely powerful tool in magic, and should be taught and used very widely (and wisely).

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