There are some books that are hard to judge properly; David Griffin’s book, The Ritual Magic Manual: A Complete Course in Practical Magic, is one of them. The problem lies in the very format of the book.
This book is not a regular book; it is not meant to be read cover to cover. Instead, it is a set of instructions for several rituals with all the possible variations for them written out, so that the student does not have to work them out for themselves.
This format has resulted in a lot of bad book reviews for The Ritual Magic Manual. I must admit that I was disappointed when I brought the book sight unseen in December 2001. Most of the time since then, the book has set on the bookshelf gathering dust.
But does the book really merit such bad reviews? Perhaps, perhaps not. To say that I have mixed feelings about the Ritual Magic Manual is an understatement.
Part of the venom in other reviews of this book may be directed more at the author than the book itself. David Griffin is the Head (Imperator) of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis, Alpha et Omega; this Order has been one of the parties to a rather nasty set of legal and internet battles.
So is this book really bad? If you are looking for a book to read about ritual magic, this is not the book for you. As I stated it is a set of instructions for several rituals dealing with elemental, planetary, zodical and sephirothic energies.
The idea behind the book is to get people to do the rituals, and the author believes that more people will do so if they can just open up a book to the desired ritual without having to learn all the possible variations first. Unfortunately, during my first perusal of the book, I noticed several rituals that had flaws in their instructions (hexagrams and pentagrams with their lines of direction drawn wrong, etc.); if the book is judged on this standard, it must be given a failing grade.
Because of this, I must ask what the real purpose of this book is. As it stands, the student needs to double check all the ritual instructions; one must treat the book like it is “blinded.”
Yet the ritual instructions are worth having provided that one knows enough to be able to spot the occasional error. Even so, the book is not worth the amount that some profiteers have tried to sell copies of The Ritual Magic Manual on the internet for.
Overall, I have to say that the book only merits two or maybe three stars out of five. As I stated treat the book as if it is blinded if you do decide to get it; double check everything; of course, if you know all the information necessary to do that, then you definitely do not need this book.
The Ritual Magic Manual: A Complete Course in Practical Magic by David Griffin (1999).