The most interesting thing about Foundations of Magic is also the most distressing: it is a completely secular guide to doing magic. For me, and for many within the alternative spirituality community, the two are inextricably entwined. The act of magic arises from our inner Divinity and so it is impossible to manifest new realities without acknowledging the God/dess within and without.

O’Neill is well-grounded in both NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and Gestalt Therapy, and while I don’t agree with his theory about Magical Psychology, there are some positive points about having a working knowledge of NLP that will help magickal practitioners. I especially recommend his writings on self-hypnosis, “The Law of Pretending,” and “Designing a Well-Formed Intention.” Achieving a trance state is one of the basic skills we need to manifest our magic, and O’Neill’s techniques can make a profound difference in our work.

The spell section is thorough and adequate, but I can’t seriously recommend it. (Granted, I’ve been biased by my recent reading of The Goodly Spellbook.) It’s a primer, and although the range is broad, it lacks sufficient explanation and background for why this, and not that. As well, I strongly suspect that the spells themselves are mostly untried, given the author’s stated lack of desire to spend a long time becoming an adept (from the Introduction, pg. 3). The Appendices were useful, however, starting with an outline of the steps to induce self-hypnosis and going through the steps to form an intention, design a spell, and practice it. The last two appendices (making an incense burner and talisman) were out-of place.

I recommend this book, with reservations for the lack of awareness or and appreciation for the role of the Divine in our lives. If that doesn’t bother you, this is likely a great resource; if it does, you would still gain value from it, but you would be wiser to make it an intermediate book rather than a beginning.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author:  O’Neill, J.F.

Llewellyn Publications, 2005

pp. 2409, $16.95

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