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Before You Cast a Spell: Understanding the Power of Magic Paperback

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Before You Cast a Spell: Understanding the Power of Magic + Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner + Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft (Llewellyn's Practical Magick)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: New Page Books (October 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0849309042
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564147165
  • ASIN: 1564147169
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McColman argues that readers must understand universal spiritual principles before they attempt to go about casting spells, raising or directing energy, or performing other kinds of magical procedures. Especially directed toward neophytes, his book uses a chatty style, employing catchy phrases such as, "First of all, let's get crystal clear about something, straight up. Magic and spellcraft involve power-spiritual power." The author, a spiritual writer, teacher and speaker, takes readers through the myths of magic, laws of magic, ethics of spellcraft and concepts like the Goddess and the God. His approach is slow and precise, as he suggests, for example, that readers wait three days before casting a spell to make sure they really want the outcome. "Have you really tried every possible mundane means to achieve it?" he asks. McColman, who grew up Christian, believes the notions that magic is superstition or evil are "outmoded." His modern guide promises a careful approach to changing life through magic.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Following an unexpected and life-changing spiritual awakening during his teen years, Carl McColman has explored mystical and contemplative spirituality in a variety of ways. His books chronicle that unfolding quest, covering topics such as Christian mysticism, interfaith dialogue, Celtic wisdom, and the Goddess/Neopagan revival. His work is characterized by an optimistic, joyful understanding of spirituality that embraces the diversity of the world's wisdom traditions.

McColman studied the practice of Christian meditation at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, and received training in the art of spiritual direction from the Institute for Pastoral Studies. He is a professed Lay Cistercian -- a layperson under the guidance of Trappist monks. McColman regularly speaks, teaches and conducts retreats on contemplative Christian practice, and blogs at

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Landrum on March 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
What can I say about a book on magic that has no spells in it, no rituals, no guided meditations and no instructions on how to cast magic on the cheerleader so she has warts?
I can say "Well done". I can say "Bravo!" I can say a heck of a lot.
Carl takes the position of "teach a man to fish" rather than taking the safe course of "give a man a fish" that most current spell books take. It is not the recipe of the spell that you need to know, but all the discipline and knowledge behind the spells.
Many magical-training courses seem to take the fish giving stance; the Masons, the Rosicrucian and Wiccan covens for some examples. This book is what every book of spells in current publication attempts to do, but can't given their space limitations. Instead, the current crop of spellbooks take the attitude of giving the reader what will sell and become, in effect, fishmongers. This book, by cutting out all the "recipes", is able to deliver instruction that every student of the occult must have.
Those that hate the "k" on magic will be pleased, as Carl does not follow standard practice.
I could write a hymn of praise for this book, but there are actually some things that are problematic. My major concern with this book like many others of this type, is the author's confusion of Witchcraft and magic with Wicca. Yes, there is the (by now) standard injunction that the Rede and the Threefold law apply to all magic. The author even states it applies even if you don't believe in it. I am heartily tired of seeing this particular statement.
If one can ignore that, this is an excellent book. I like the chapter bursting the common myths of magic, like "magic will make you happy" and "magic is a shortcut to fulfillment".
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Sue Larson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
BEFORE YOU CAST A SPELL is the book every magical practioner needs to read first -- before they make some of the most basic mistakes. I love the way this book so clearly points out the most common myths about magic, and proceeds to explain what magic is really all about.
I especially love the way BEFORE YOU CAST A SPELL outlines the differences between magic, meditation, and ritual, and the way it describes how the way you interact with the chakras in your body make a huge difference in what happens in your life.
While BEFORE YOU CAST A SPELL doesn't teach how to practice magic, it is clearly the most essential guide book for anyone beginning a walk down the magical path. I give this book my highest recommendation!
Cynthia Sue Larson
-- author of "Aura Advantage: How the Colors in Your Aura Can Help You Attain What You Desire and Attract Success"
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By W. Martin on October 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Here is a book for beginners unlike any other. This small, entertaining and easy to read volume has the odd feature of not containing a single spell. Among the sea of Cast-a-Spell variety books that have little or no information in them about the "why" and "why not" of spell casting this book stands out like a diamond surrounded by coal lumps.

Mr. McColman quotes an old proverb that says, "Give a man a fish, and you've fed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you've helped him feed himself for a lifetime." In a few short chapters, the author explores the ethics of magic in depth, something that is sadly lacking in other Wicca 101 books. He explodes myths generally assumed by a newcomer and replaces the myth with reality.

In several chapters he talks about what magic can and cannot do for you. He also explains why ethical magicians do not cast certain types of spells. He explains what magic is, where it comes from and how it works. He carefully explains why some spells work and others simply won't. He talks about spirituality and a path to a magical life. And he talks about ethics, again.

The reader is given a strong foundation on which to base their magical work. Mr. McColman will give the most inexperienced Witch the confidence and skill necessary to apply magic to every area of their lives.

W. Lyon Martin Author/Illustrator of "An Ordinary Girl, A Magical Child"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. Steffes on November 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. It is written for people who are new to the world of magic, which the book clearly states. However, I've been involved in Wicca since I was 16, and the book raised some really good points for me. Most people who are new to the craft think that it's all about the spells. I made the same mistake when I started, I think most witches do. But it is about so much more!! If you have been in the craft for many years and have been happy and sucessful in it, I guess this book isn't a must buy. However, I think we all could get something out of it. In my opinion it's not at all "fluffy" to make sure that new witches are very clear about the law of return. It's about making choices and taking responsiblity, which the book does a good job of explaining. If you want to cast a spell on the evil slut who stole your boyfriend, I don't think the 3 days will change your mind. But I wonder how much sucess you'd have at it, since it's so negitive. But if you were clear about what you wanted to do and knew about the consqecuense, well, it's on you. I cast only a few spells a year, most are part of Sabbat rituals. I think that this book makes ethics and vaulues and responsibilty really clear, but the final choices are up to you (and the goddess).
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