Magical Ritual Methods

Magical Ritual Methods
William G. Gray
1980, Weiser Books
4 out of 5

William G. Gray, as I’ve said many times before, is one of the unsung heroes of modern occult literature. Magical Ritual Methods is his magnum opus to be sure. Where one of his later books, Inner Traditions of Magic, presents a “high school education” in the construction and use of magical rituals, MRM provides a veritable college-level course.

Gray shines in his exposition; he makes very clear the essentials of ritual design in a manner which makes the presented exercises immediately useful. The exercises themselves are brilliant. They are useful on their own, but build one off of the other to form a synthetic method of ritual design. The universality of the book lies in the fact that Gray does not present a system, his own or anybody elses, except by way of an example to be easily followed. He makes use of Kabbalah and Hermetics as concrete displays of powerful and practical ritual construction, but always insists that the topic at hand is one of global application for both groups and individuals.

While I do not agree with every detail presented, I can find only two flaws in Magical Ritual Methods. First of all, I must take issue with his frequent condescending attitude toward shamanic, aboriginal, and folkish systems. While his ritual design techniques are plainly workable within any such system, he makes comparisons between the “primitives” and the “moderns” and almost universally sides with the latter in everything from theology to ethics to simple matters of cultural presentation. If the reader can ignore this fact, the book will provide food for thought for years, even decades to come.

The second flaw is perhaps less obvious and really less vital. Gray does not cite his sources. While he only directly references a handful of books, he never lets the reader in on which books those are! It is clear that nearly all of the material in the book is from personal experience, but a bibliography of books which he himself took as inspiration and education may have made MRM more complete.

Despite those two flaws, William G. Gray remains one of the greatest occult authors of the modern age with Magical Ritual Methods standing apart as his most important book. No magician of any system can be said to have a rounded occult education without it.

Published in: on September 12, 2007 at 11:32 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Hey, good stuff 🙂 I’ve added this to my blogroll of other reviewers. Yay, bibliophilia!

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