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Sacramental Theurgy for Witches

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Member Reviews

I received an ARC from Netgalley

This book introduces the concept of theurgy, the operation of divine agency in human affairs. While interesting, some parts felt drawn out. Overall, it provided valuable information and a new perspective that will be useful in the future. Recommended for others to read.

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Thank you Net galley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book was pretty good, there was a lot of information to process and I found the book super useful.

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Book Review: Sacramental Theurgy for Witches by Frater Barrabbas
Note: I received a free unpublished proof of this book, for a limited time, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.
I first requested this book because I am somewhat lost on theurgy. A lot of people online seem to claim theurgy/deity work is a simple matter of “just talking to the gods”, which is unhelpful for a number of reasons.
The first reason is that in many frameworks, people are, in fact, worshipping the gods, or at least looking up to them with respect. Even in religions where it is common for people to perform magic, petition the gods for things, etc., there is usually a worship element. I realize not all modern witches/practitioners/occultists/pagans see it that way, and that’s fine, but given that many people *do* want to worship gods and want to do this in a somewhat formal and respectful way, this advice does not apply to everyone.
Another reason is that many religions and practices do have frameworks for prayer, worship, and talking to spirits, that are not necessarily informal or interchangeable. I am increasingly frustrated with the number of witchcraft books that give vague details on things and say “then do whatever you want!” because that’s not really how religion and spirituality work. Yes, witchcraft/paganism are less rigid than some religions that are based on very well-established rituals and texts, but that doesn’t mean they are whatever you want them to be. While there is certainly room to make your practice your own, you need to study a lot in order to understand the general concepts and methods of any particular practice, start practicing along those lines, and *then* work things out based on your own perspectives and experiences. You are not ready to “do whatever you want” after reading a few paragraphs mentioning that you can write your own spells, use herbs, and work with deities in witchcraft.
Lastly, people who are religiously and magically inexperienced do not necessarily know how to listen to gods or spirits. I’m not really sure how to tell if spirits are talking to me, because most things in my mind are running through my head for an identifiable physical reason, even if they seem kind of random, and except for a few notable instances there are not many supernatural occurrences in my life. Telling people to “just talk” doesn’t necessarily get them into a mindset to listen, focus, and open their mind in the necessary manner.
While this book is good for what it is, it unfortunately did not answer many of my questions.
From the start, a better title for this book would be “Sacramental Theurgy for Wiccans”. Yes, many Wiccans are witches. No, those terms are not interchangeable. The structure of everything in this book revolves around a Wiccan framework, which is highly ceremonial and involves a group of people. I suppose a group that is not truly Wiccan in the formal, initiated sense could use these methods, as they are based on the information about Wicca that is available in multiple published sources. However, an individual or someone practicing within a different framework that isn’t based around Wicca would not find much of use in this book.
It’s fine for the book to be aimed at Wiccans; I just wish that it was marketed as such.
This book is also a sequel to the author’s other books, so the author references those books instead of explaining all the background from Square 1 at certain points. While you should be aware of this going in, that’s not actually a bad thing. I am tired of books, especially witchcraft books, being repetitive. There are plenty of books which seem to say the same thing over and over again without going into much detail, or sequels that essentially repeat the same information. (Looking at *Living Wicca* by Scott Cunningham.) This is not one of them.
Furthermore, the author actually takes his book seriously as an instructional manual, with clear steps and instructions. It doesn’t just list a bunch of correspondences or descriptions of stuff you could try without any clear guidance. Again, this formatting is impressive in the world of witchcraft books.
However, there are some things about this book that are a bit confusing. For instance, the book refers to a deity called “the Dreighton” that is a combination of, or represents aspects relating to, both the God and Goddess in Wicca. I have never seen this term used anywhere else. The book also refers to the besom and the stang, which are more commonly used in Traditional Witchcraft (which I realize is a somewhat modern practice only loosely based on earlier practices, but is separate from Wicca in that it shares some of the same core framework but has, most notably, some different symbology). Unless you are part of a particular group/school of thought that works with all of these things, you might be a bit lost.
The first part of the book, “Introduction to Sacramental Theurgy”, is very direct and comprehensive. The first chapter is clear about what the book sets out to do and explains what the different sections are about.
The second chapter talks about the author’s approach to polytheism, which focuses on Wicca as a mystery religion and theurgy as a way to experience five specific Mysteries. (Again, I am not certain if this is a well-known thing or if this is the author’s personal practice/part of a specific tradition.) I also find it refreshing that the author acknowledges the limitations of a religious practice focusing on one male God and one female Goddess. The author does focus on the concept of the Dying God, which, while found in multiple cultures, can’t really be generalized as a universal archetype and the author’s approach to this topic borrows heavily from Christianity and Joseph Campbell’s Christian-centric approach to the Hero’s Journey. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with incorporating Christian concepts and themes into witchcraft; there are Christian witches and there are many practices that have elements syncretized from Christianity. It is also well-known that some aspects of Wicca and similar practices are very culturally-Christian and that is fine if you acknowledge and understand that. In fact, I’m glad the author somewhat acknowledges the Christian influence in his practice rather than presenting these ideas as his own invention. That said, I think that if we are going to be working with archetypes, we have to acknowledge that they are somewhat culturally-specific, and not necessarily universal, the way that Campbell and others have sometimes presented them. While the archetype of a Dying God can be used as a loose description, but deities should still be seen as individuals with their own particular traits and aspects. There are also many practices where this approach would be entirely inappropriate, so I really think this book should be directed at Wiccans and particularly those heavily influenced by Christian theology.
Chapter 3 talks about the ritual of godhead assumption in-depth. I like that the author jumps right into methodology, gives clear instructions, and helps manage readers’ expectations so they can discern whether they are doing it “right”. I think that more books should manage readers’ expectations, because many books don’t really touch on what readers should actually expect to happen as a result of their practices. As a result, some people expect things to be overly dramatic (think of really any teen fantasy movie), scary and Satanic (think “Dark Dungeons” by Jack Chick), or very easy to see/perceive, and end up disappointed when that’s not the case. On the other side of things, some people think that *everything* they are doing is a great success and might overinterpret something that isn’t actually relevant or go with what they want to believe rather than their actual perception. This section also discusses some element of theurgy that can be performed by individuals, but to my understanding this is still meant to take place in the context of a coven.
Chapter 4 discusses the witches’ Communion and Sacramentation. Again, this is heavily Christian-influenced and designed to fit within Wiccan practice, but the author’s clear about that up front and is clear about where he got their basis for this practice. That said, this section also refers heavily to the stang, besom, and cauldron, which are not, to my knowledge, used in all Wiccan traditions.
Chapter 5 is a bit out of left field, jumping back to the Five Mysteries of Light and Darkness that the author uses in his practice. These Mysteries include the Diurnal Cycle of Day and Night, the Lunar Cycle and Phases of the Moon, the Solar Cycle and the Four Seasons, the Cycle of Life and Transformations, and the Nature of Deity Within and Without. However, the author doesn’t really tie back to the idea of contacting specific deities in order to experience these mysteries, and merely describes these concepts rather than explaining how we are supposed to apply sacramental theurgy to the mystery process and what we are supposed to be learning.
Part 2 begins with Chapter 6, which mainly discusses deity personification and how one might dedicate themselves to acting as a godhead for a particular deity over the long-term. While this process, in the context of this book, is dependent on being part of a Wiccan community, I do think there are some good “general ideas” in here about how significant of a commitment it is to dedicate oneself to representing a particular deity, as well as the tone with which to worship, honor, and communicate with deities in a serious way.
Chapter 7 goes into the use of the stang, besom, and cauldron as placeholders of the deity. Here the author finally explains the significance of the stang in Traditional Witchcraft. I still wish this had been explained earlier so that people unfamiliar with this concept wouldn’t be confused or thrown off. For those who don’t subscribe to the stang, besom, and cauldron as placeholders of deity, the author suggests the use of statues, busts, and icons of the gods. I think this idea is more in line with the practices of many polytheists who aren’t using Wiccan or Traditional rituals. However, the overall idea of “consecration” suggested in this chapter may or may not work depending on how one’s practice works.
Chapter 8 is about talismanic statue animation, or drawing the godhead into a statue. The ritual in this chapter is dependent on the reader’s knowledge of another ritual in one of the earlier books in this series. That’s not a bad thing, as they are meant to be read as a set, but alas, I, the NetGalley downloader of this book, did not know going in that there were other books. I think there should be something about the fact it is the fourth in a series on the cover if there isn’t already. Suffice to say this is a very advanced ritual that is only really applicable if you have a physical statue in a physical temple that you intend to use in deity work.
At this juncture, I have another minor concern about the title. Calling it “Sacramental Theurgy for Witches” doesn’t specify that this is an advanced Wiccan book. There is a subtitle of “Advanced Liturgy Revealed”, which implies that it is high-level material, but the “revealed” also kind of implies that this stuff is secret, when it really isn’t. I really think it *should* be “Sacramental Theurgy for Wiccans” or “Wiccan Sacramental Theurgy” so people who are totally new to the topic do not assume that the contents are applicable to all witches. While I don’t believe in “protecting” people from the contents of books and I do respect the reader’s intelligence enough that I expect they will, well, *read* what is in the book and engage with it critically, I know that this subject matter tends to attract a bunch of people who don’t know where to start and innocently assume everything will be exactly what it says on the tin. Frankly, the contents of this book will not be relevant to many of the people simply looking for books on “witchcraft” or even people with a bit of knowledge who are looking for more information on deity work. Particularly in this day and age where people are starting to pull away from the idea that Wicca and related practices having a monopoly on “witchcraft” and “witches”, the two terms can’t be treated as one and the same.
Chapter 9 is on the Magical Mass of the Great Mother Goddess. This chapter essentially applies the godhead assumption techniques to a particular Wiccan ritual that I don’t know much about. That said, it’s a good example of how the author expects people to use these techniques in a ritual framework beyond simply calling down a deity into someone’s body, and the instructions are clear, so that’s not a complaint. I’m just not really qualified to speak on how it compares to other sources on this topic.
Chapter 10 is on the ritual of the temple benediction; see above. Same format, and I have the same opinion.
Chapter 11 is on sacramental technology, including medicines, relics, and amulets. It is essentially about how to make objects into sacraments, making them sacred/blessed. This process works within the same framework as before, but the chapter goes into a bit more detail on different ways you could do this and why.
Chapter 12 discusses the Great Rite, or sacramental sexuality. Obviously this will be a touchy and controversial subject for people and some practices will not include this at all. The author is very clear that groups need to ensure that any ritual sexual activity is consensual and safe, and that whoever is in the role of the “godhead” should not be abusing that position for sexual gain. The author is also very clear that there is nothing wrong with embracing sexuality in religion and that it is a very positive and sacred thing when done in the right context, and can have powerful ritual uses. I agree with both those points and given that some authors have taken questionable positions on this topic in the past, it’s a good sign that this text evidences a levelheaded approach.
The third part is about magical mystery rites to be done via the same techniques discussed before. These can be boiled down to lunar rituals (Chapters 13 and 14), solar rituals (Chapters 15 and 16), sacred grove rituals (Chapters 17 and 18), and the Rite of the Grand Sabbat (Chapter 19).
In these chapters, the author is refreshingly clear on what is ancient, what is modern, what is based on Christianity, and what he came up with himself. He also takes a scientific approach to some aspects of the sun and moon, noting the differences between legend and proven fact, but emphasizes the importance of both in religious workings. These chapters also note the importance, particularly with regards to sacred groves, of working with what you have around you in nature as part of your ritual, rather than feeling the need to bring everything in from elsewhere.
The book ends with a conclusion where the author discusses his thought process and development of these methods a bit more. There are a bibliography and a short index. I wish that some more academic texts had been cited here and that more historical notes were explained, as this is a short bibliography for such a long book. Overall, though, it is a great deal better in this regard than a lot of what is on the market in this genre.
Normally, I don’t go over all the chapters of a book, but there was so much going on in this book, and so much of it was very specific, that I thought readers should know exactly what it covers. There is really nothing in here that is basic, general, or easy to describe in a few words that will give you a full sense of what the author is writing about.
I’m glad I read this book, as it has given me not only some more knowledge on Wicca and Traditional Witchcraft but more questions to investigate, particularly on how this sort of thing might have been done in other practices. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it due to its narrow audience, but if you are within that narrow audience I don’t think any of its negative aspects should necessarily dissuade you from reading it.

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A Great and Informative Book

Frater Barrabbas states that this is his fourth book in the For Witches series, and that it represents all of the lore that he has developed, shared, and learned from others and is now sharing it with his readers.

He states that Theurgy is defined as a magical operation that induces the Deity to perform a paranormal operation to benefit an individual or a group or to refrain or block an occurrence that would cause harm. Additionally, he states that Sacramental Theurgy is a unique work that reveals all of these methods and techniques that I have used over the decades to direct and project the magical powers of my Deities into the material world to make changes, to aid, heal, and protect others, and acting as an agent for distributing their blessings, sacraments, and magical transformations.

The author discusses this book in two parts, which are:
1. Sacramental Magic:
2. Magical Mystery Rites

He discusses the each part of the book in great detail, from the Five Mysteries and Cycles of Change, which include:
1. The Cycle of Day and Night (Light and Darkness)
2. Lunar Cycle— 28 days within four phases and eight lunation stages
3. Solar Cycle— 365 days broken into four seasons and eight astrological points (called sabbats by Witches and Pagans)
4. The Cycle of Birth, Life, Death, and Individual Transcendence
5. Paradoxical Nature of Spirit, Deity, and the One

to the anatomy of godhead assumption, witches’ communion and sacramentation, the Five Mysteries of Light and Darkness, and many more aspects of advanced liturgy for witches.

The author outlines the seven steps or stages to the sacramental rite that follows a successful Drawing Down rite as follows:
1. Votive Veneration and Adoration of the Deity
2. Offertory: Offerings of food, drink, amulets or tokens, and requests or petitions to the Deity.
3. Consecration: Items offered are blessed and charged with the sign, touch, and breath of the Deity.
4. Communion: Sharing of blessed and charged food and drink. 5. Blessings, Oracles, and Magical Sponsorship
5. Thanksgiving
6. Departure

This is a must have reference book for anyone deeply involved in sacramental theurgy for witches, the well adept witches as well as beginners desiring to master witchcraft.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I admit, I will have to read it again to get a better understanding of the content. This book will definitely become a major reference item in my physical library. I highly recommend it for all practitioners wanting to become more aware of Sacramental Theurgy.

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This was a very informative, well-organized, and accessible manual to esoteric ritual and other practices to convene with deities. I enjoyed that many sections were split into step by step instructions.

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"Sacramental Theurgy for Witches" by Frater Barrabbas is a compelling guide that seamlessly weaves together ancient magical practices and contemporary witchcraft. Barrabbas skillfully explores the intersection of sacraments and theurgy, offering a fresh perspective on how these concepts can enrich the magical practices of modern witches.

The book delves into the esoteric aspects of witchcraft, providing practical rituals and ceremonies that empower practitioners to connect with the divine. Barrabbas's writing is clear and accessible, making complex ideas digestible for readers of all experience levels. He combines scholarly research with personal insights, creating a well-rounded and engaging read.

One of the strengths of the book is its emphasis on the transformative power of ritual. Barrabbas encourages readers to approach magical work with intention, fostering a deeper understanding of the sacred within the craft. Whether you're a seasoned practitioner or a newcomer to the magical arts, "Sacramental Theurgy for Witches" offers a valuable resource for enhancing your spiritual journey through the marriage of tradition and innovation.

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A fantastic book for Wiccans (and Wiccan adjacent practitioners) looking to move from beginner to intermediate in their work with their Deities. However, for other types of Polytheists, like myself, who are not Wiccan nor hold those exact world views there wasn't much to glean from these pages, making the premise of it slightly misleading.

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What I loved
-Already being familiar with this teacher/writer's writing style made it easy to get right into the learning mindset
-Focus on Gods and their place in an active ritual practice
What didn't work as well for me
- some sections can feel particularly repetitive or overly technical.

Who I would recommend this title for
Sacramental Theurgy for Witches is a good read for active practitioners looking to go deeper into working with divine forces .

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I have read several books by this author now and each one is more intriguing and educational than the next. Barrabbas’ latest entry is absolutely enthralling. Connecting with Deities and working with them in your practice. There is always so much to learn from Barrabbas and whether you want to incorporate your deities into your practice, or just want to read about how others do, you will find this book absolutely intriguing and educational.

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Sacramental Theurgy for Witches, authored by Frater Barrabbas, enhances your spiritual journey and introduces captivating dimensions to your witchcraft practice. This profound work not only enriches your spirituality but also unveils exhilarating avenues within the realm of witchcraft.

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Learn theurgy. Study about the gods and how to get them to help in your practice. This is a very comprehensive book. It's very detailed and specific. I don't think it's best suited for the beginner. I think for a more advanced practitioner. I found it to be very enlightening and helpful in furthering my studies. I'm definitely adding this one to my personal library.

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Before reading this book I had never heard of theurgy. Theurgy is the operation or effect of a supernatural or divine agency in human affairs. I found this book to be interesting but also felt a bit drawn out. I did learn a lot and got a different perspective. There is a great amount of information in this book that I feel will come in handy in the future. I’m glad I read it and I would recommend it to others.

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Theurgy is a practice that has its roots in antiquity. There are Theurgic rituals for many pagan gods from the late Roman Empire and earlier. Frater Barrabbas has written a theurgic ritual manual for the pagan who wants to focus on Wiccan traditions and practice Theurgy today. This book is a how to manual for the many operations that bring Gods to life in present time to be experienced and encourage personal devotion/ I am not a theugist but this book is so very interesting and covers so much possibility that I think most any person interested in theurgy or its practice will want to give this a read and put into practice.

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If one wants to learn more in theory and practice about the presence of deities in witchcraft rituals then this book is an essential text about that. One will recognize actually much deeper involvement of God and Goddess in such rituals that was in most cases somehow hidden and not very well understood. Yet I would love that text explains about possible "negative" characteristics of deities and how to deal with them, about so called "aspecting of Gods" though there is some information in For Witches series part one and in other texts about "god-assumption". An amazing book with top-notch illustrations which will give you a great boost.

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This scholarly and comprehensive book concerns sacramental theurgy in witchcraft. Sacramentation refers to making sacraments or alering the essence of deities. Discusses the cultic practice of the manifested deities and magical mysteries rites.. I found this book rather turgid and overly detailed and of interest to the advanced practitioners of witchcraft. Bibliography.

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