Sunday, June 12, 2011

Opuscula Magica Volume I: Essays on Witchcraft and the Sabbatic Tradition by Andrew D. Chumbley

Three Hands Press  152 pages.  Illustrated.  Octavo.

Standard Edition:  Cloth, limited to 726 copies
Deluxe Edition: Quarter black morocco with felt-lined slipcase, ribbon bookmarker, limited to 242 copies

 The current volume marks the first (of a planned 4) in the Opuscula Magica series by Andrew D. Chumbley.  Each volume is a collection of essays and artwork written and created by Chumbley over his tragically brief magical career.  Many previously appeared in occult journals from 1990 - 2003, such as The Cauldron.  The book also includes a few previously unpublished essays.

Table of Contents
A Short Critique and Comment upon Magic
The Heart of the Sorcerer
The Question of Sacrifice
The Hermit
The Secret Nature of Ritual
What is Traditional Craft?
The Golden Chain and the Lonely Road
Initiation and Access to Magical Power within Early Modern Cunning-Craft and Modern Traditional Craft
An Interview with Andrew D. Chumbley
Notes on Texts:  Volume

Many of Chumbley’s magical treatises have a very poetic / stream-of-consciousness style. His works often strike me as having the flavor of ‘received’ books in the manner of Crowley’s Liber AL or James Merrill’s The Changing Light at Sandover. Chumbley’s insight, vision, and passion set his works apart from other contemporary texts on witchcraft. However, his essays are strikingly more concise, sacrificing poetic license for clarity and scholarly rigor. The reader gets the impression of having been granted a rare glimpse into a tradition that has little resemblance to popular modern witchcraft. Fluffy ‘harm none’ New Agers need not follow. The essays range in theme, are gathered chronologically, and have a moderately cohesive flow.

The Deluxe edition is a fitting tribute the late Magister of the Cultus Sabbati.  The book is a quarter bound in luxurious black morocco and charcoal gray cloth.  An emblem of a duel-headed Horus is embossed in black upon an otherwise somber gray cloth cover.  It’s a subtle yet stylish design somewhat reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley's decadent illustrations.  The title is stamped on leather spine in gold leaf along with Three Hands Press’ iconic ‘shin’ logo.  The felt-lined slipcase is covered with matching gray cloth.  Upon opening, one encounters textured, jet black, art-paper endleaves embossed with a leather-like look.  The text is printed on very high-quality, crisp, satin white paper.  I might have preferred a shade of very light cream, as the pure white pages seem just a tad stark under good lighting.  Generous text margins are provided.  Within the text we are treated to a few of Chumbley’s pen & ink drawings and symbolically layered designs.  The book also comes with an attractive royal blue ribbon bookmark adding a vibrant splash of color to an otherwise darkly toned book.  Limitation hand-written at the rear.  Overall the quality of the binding is magnificent, as has become the standard of Three Hands Press.

Volume II of Opuscula Magica is scheduled to be released in just a few weeks.1

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