Book Review – How to Become a Modern Magus: A Manual for Magicians of All Schools by Don Webb

Book Review

How to Become a Modern Magus:
A Manual for Magicians of All Schools

by Don Webb

Publisher: Destiny Books

651 Pages

Release Date: January 17, 2023





One question I hear a lot when I talk about spirituality or “being witchy” is “How do I learn magic? How do I start practicing?” I usually try to explain, in as few words as possible, that it’s a feeling, an intention that we put into the universe. In life, we tend to overcomplicate things and let the fear of doing something wrong intimidate us into doing nothing at all, so it’s wonderful that I now have one more book to refer to those people.

One book will never be enough to teach someone everything they need to know about being a witch, but this new book, How to Become a Modern Magus: A Manual for Magicians of All Schools, goes a long way to providing solid information broken into digestible pieces, on a reasonable schedule that allows you to read, understand and practice, one step at a time. You’ll build a foundation of skills and understanding, each lesson a little more in-depth than the one before. It’s like having a teacher in your home that’s working with you on your timeline.

How to Become a Modern Magus opens with a very personal preface, which is less about the book and more about the how and why Don Webb went down the path of being the author of this book. He brings you to a level of realness that sets the tone for a relatable book. And when it comes to magic, we all know that we learn more when we feel like it’s attainable. Don does that before you even get to his detailed Introduction to Magic chapter.

The intro of this book lays out the clear reason for this book: a year-long training manual, accessible to anyone willing to put in the work. I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the entire book, because I truly want to experience it as it’s intended. I’m going to give you the birds-eye view from the perspective of someone like you, the reader for reading’s sake.

A lot of people beginning to learn magic worry about the same things. Is it dangerous? Do I need to spend a lot of money? Is it bad or good? Don covers these questions, and more, in the intro, which states that the book is based on a similar formula: The past plus the present creates a possible future. This book is full of possibilities, and in reading it, so are you.

Another quote that resonated with me is his “The magician can learn to see and affect the past, beckon a greater variety of possibilities to the present, and make more choices about the future This book will get you there, if you are willing to practice.”

And practice is what it teaches you – after a quick chapter on the dangers of occultism. Those aren’t what you think, and this chapter is illuminating, touching on both stereotypes and things you may not have considered but probably should. Aunt Edna, “assholism”, divine addiction, imbalance, they’re all very real possibilities when you enter the world of magic and learning to deal with and/or avoid is going to make your journey easier.

The book is organized into large chapters, each with one common theme, starting with Janus, which you may know as related to the month of January. (This does not mean you need to start only in January, but it’s interesting learning some facts that will help when that month does roll around.) Each chapter is broken down into things to achieve during the month, such as theory, practice, training, magical feats, spells and then questions to ponder.

In those subcategories is the meat of this book. Let’s use chapter two, Agni, as an example. It focuses on the elements. If you aren’t familiar with the name, Agni is the first invoked God in Hinduism to make the sacrificial fire. It gets philosophical about how our universes don’t operate in a vacuum; what I do in mine can affect someone else’s, and our attention shapes reality. Anyone who has practiced any sort of magic, at any level, knows that intention is everything, and what we pay attention to can shape our intention.

The chapter’s practices include meditation studies, which lead into the theory of fire, which I found fascinating. The practices for the month include consecrating a candle, doing weekly and daily mental training, as well as emotional training, strengthening what you’ve learned. Without sharing the whole chapter here, it’s hard to show the correlation accurately, but the practices involve making sure you’re not jumping to conclusions and being more aware of your actions and behavior. That’s critical in today’s world. There is even guidance on fire gazing and practical magic with physical objects. This book dives right in, not a single page wasting your time or efforts.

Each month involves some journaling to help cement your skills, as well as helping self-realization. Sometimes we don’t know what we know until we see it in writing. Chapters are quite detailed and full of a mix of stories, tips and exercises that will keep you busy for the month if you do it as directed. You may have a favorite month, and there may be a few stories and/or exercises you can give a nod to and go on. (I’m not uncomfortable with sexual discussions but one story in the Freya chapter is a head-tilter.)

Overall, this expansive book opened my mind up to many different avenues of thought. I’ve only had it for a few weeks, so I haven’t progressed beyond chapter one as I’m doing the months’ worth of work. I’m excited to get to the chapter called Isis, where the topic of karma is prominent. How to Become a Modern Magus is an eye-opener, pulling from many different subtopics to become a wraparound of sorts. It’s a noteworthy manual, one that will certainly inspire you to consider things you hadn’t before; in the very least, you’ll learn a lot about spirits, meditation, and gods.

It’s a lot of philosophy with a mix of practical use, and a great addition to your magical bookshelf. I give it a positive recommendation. Read it with an open mind, taking copious notes. If you’re like me, it will encourage you to further your reading into new spiritual areas to expand your spiritual interests and education.

About the author:

In his own words:

I have been nominated for and not won very prestigious awards. Last year alone I lost both the Shirley Jackson Award and the International Horror Critics Award. I am hoping to not win other awards of note in coming years. I had been cited in Best American Short Stories (as well as 70 other citing in one “best of the year” list or another).

I have had 12 books and about 400 other items published — ranging from poems in Chinese, trucker fiction in Truckers USA, a story in an honest-to-god Norton Anthology, a book on the Greek Magical Papyri, more Cthulhu Mythos stories than Lovecraft himself, a story in a Norwegian anarchist magazine. I have guest-curated at an art museum, shot fireworks professionally, been the head of a pagan religion, and worked in a corndog factory.

I was born on Walpurgisnacht (April 30), 1960 in Amarillo, Texas — a town whose major industry was the assemblage of plutonium enriched parts of atomic weapons. My mother’s family had share-cropped at the first ranch in the world to use barbed wire. My work has been translated into 12 languages. In 1988 I watched a documentary entitled “Satanism in America” — a cheap piece of yellow journalism that promoted the (now debunked) myth of “Satanic Crime.” I was impressed with the calm logical answers of Dr. Michael Aquino and sent him an approving letter. My letter noted that I did not understand how “Working in a group could strengthen individuality.” Dr. Aquino humorously challenged me to join and explain it to them. Eight years later I became the High Priest of Set and a Magus (V*) of the Temple. My major Initiator was Dr. Stephen E. Flowers, and I have written four books on Left Hand Path topics for Flowers’ Runa Raven Press. In addition to my prose, I have published a volume of poetry, written lyrics for rock-n-roll songs, and been in a documentary about his home town, _Plutonium Circus_.

My formative teachers include Paulea Patterson, who taught Latin at Tascosa High School in Amarillo, from whom I gained a love of classics, a high school counselor who told me that because of his ever dyslexia he should not ever even think of becoming a writer, and Bruce Sterling, Austin Science Fiction writer, who founded the important writers’ group Turkey City. I teaches a variety of on-line creative writing classes for UCLA.


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About the Author:

Donna Biroczky 

Donna is a long time professional writer who blames her love for vocabulary and unique interests on being an avid reader since childhood. She is a mom of four, “Grammy” to two, and a furmom to two dogs, as well as an entrepreneur owning two businesses while residing with her husband in the suburban foothills of SoCal. She has spent time over the last few years rekindling her interest and intuition in the mystical and spiritual side of life, growing her witchy library and outgrowing her shelves with her colorful crystal selection. Her favorite room of the house is the kitchen, but you’ll often find her fireside with a book in her hands or in her yoga room practicing inversions. When at all possible, she’s traveling or enjoying nature in any form she can find it.