The Aleister Crowley Manual: Thelemic Magick for Modern Times is the ultimate gateway into Thelema’s philosophy, practices, cosmology, and mythology. It is exceptionally written and excellently organized and provides a vast amount of information. Marco Visconti does an incredible job of making the book accessible to any level of reader, no matter if they are beginners or experienced practitioners. It perfectly balances Thelemic theory and practice so that the reader can integrate Thelema into their own lives instead of merely intellectualizing it. More importantly, Visconti reveals the practical and spiritual advantages of including the practice of Thelemic Magick into one’s life, including Thelma’s profound appreciation of the individual’s True Will and purpose while incarnated. Visconti’s passion and knowledge of Thelema pours out of every single page of this book, informing his personal perspectives, opinions, and insights.
Despite being named The Aleister Crowley Manual, what is particularly refreshing is that Visconti doesn’t hold the prophet of Thelema on a pedestal of worshipfulness like so many Thelemites often do. Instead, Visconti is honest, candid, and nuanced regarding Aleister Crowley being both problematic and progressive for his time, acknowledging and honoring his genius, importance of delivering the ideas and practices, and general contributions to magick, while simultaneously understanding that Thelema is more significant than its original messenger, who at the end of the day is still a flawed human being. Visconti also discusses the cultural appropriation issues in Thelma’s roots and with nuance and respect, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone address in books on Thelema.
The book is full of illustrations and diagrams, some of the clearest I’ve ever seen in books on ceremonial magick, including multiple vantage points of poses to give a complete idea of what the gestures actually are. I wish I had this book when I first started studying Thelma, and it is undoubtedly the book I’ll recommend to people who want an entry point into Thelema’s concepts and practices. It would have saved me many hours of study, research, and confusion if I had The Aleister Crowley Manual when first approaching Thelema and trying to make heads and tails of it. For someone who opened up by saying he doesn’t like to write about magick, he did a hell of a job doing so. I’m hopeful that he will write more books if this one is any indication of what might come.