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Recommended with reservations.
on December 4, 2008
The author covers the basics of linguistics, touches on chaos magic, and briefly explores some older magical alphabets, particularly Enochian. There is little here that any language major or well-read layman hasn't encountered on alphabet formation, language families and history, and linguistic theory. Dunn revisits the elements of Jewish magic, skims the surface of Greco-Egyptian necromantic sorcery, and briefly discusses sigilization and its discontents. Metaphor is addressed, but a better understanding of how metaphor lies its way to truth may be better appreciated by reading Lakoff and Johnson's original work.
I have never quite understood why matching the letters of the Hebrew alphabet with the major arcana of the tarot is thought to be meaningful. The Judeo-Christian tradition held that Hebrew was both a language of divine revelation and mankind's original form of speech, hence magical. Neither claim could be entertained by any informed person, least of all a pagan. If the author enjoys doodling in Hebrew, so be it. Whatever works. For those with little or no interest in Hebrew, however, some sections of the book can be skipped. It is my guess that orthodox Jews invested so much energy in playing speculative games with the Hebrew alphabet because Judaism frowned on representational art. Obviously modern magicians labor under no such restrictions. Give me art over alphabet any day.
For those beginning to feel their way through the magical maze, this book offers some useful information and tools. Certainly our (mis)use of language deserves careful reflection and Patrick Dunn has many relevant if not particularly original observations to make on this subject. Since magic in the Western tradition is tightly language-bound, attention must be paid to the pitfalls. The book is therefore recommended with the above reservations.