Mustering Magic

A review by Frank Malone

The latest book by Philip Carr-Gomm is Lessons in Magic: A guide to Making your Dreams Come True.  I always look forward to his publications as Philip is also a psychologist, and shares a common quest: for a spirituality that is more psychological and a psychology that is more spiritual.  Highly accomplished, amongst other things, he is head of The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids – the world’s largest order of Druidry.  Psychology and Sprituality meet in the book, which displays Philip’s considerable skill at integrating the two.  Similar to the Pagan Portals series from Moon Books, this is one of those brief works (52 pages) that manages to boil down a lifetime of developed wisdom on a specific subject.

In his introduction, Philip states that, “real magic, powerful magic, good magic is concerned with serving something more than yourself, as well as yourself.  Real magic helps you make a difference in the world.”  From psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut’s Self Psychology perspective, this view of magic could be said to meet the selfobject idealization need.  This universal need begins in infancy and persists throughout the lifespan.  It is the need to feel part of something bigger than oneself.  Further, to “make a difference in the world” is one of the indices of growth that we look to see in our patients in psychoanalytic treatment.  I had not thought of it in these terms before reading this book: psychoanalysts anticipate that our patients will become magicians.

I appreciate the personal style which Philip deploys in the text, including history material from his childhood.  Of course that is gratifying to my psychoanalyst self, and the part of me that loves personalia about inspiring people.

Asserting that “magicians give birth to dreams” Philip organizes the treatise into five sections.  The Arrow of Darkness concerns finding your dream.  Nourishing the Seed considers how to suckle the dream.  Here he wisely teaches us to “focus on being first.  Seek contentment, fulfillment, inspiration, and wonder first.  Then focus on doing what you love.”  Jumping Off the Cliff and Finding You Can Fly shows us how to ask spirit friends for help.  The Daring Adventure is an excellent discussion of how to think about objectives and obstacles.  He notes that psychological studies of highly self-actualized people show them “to use both their cauldrons and their wands – their abilities to be both open and focused.”  The Harvest reflects on how to live our dream in a way that facilitates a flow of further inspiration.

Lessons in Magic achieves Philip’s aim to seamlessly blend psychology and ancient wisdom.  It is recommended with enthusiasm to anyone who wishes to dip into the subject of magic, regardless of spiritual path.

Find out more about the book here –


(I’m always open to guest posts, and providing a platform for people who don’t have blogs.)

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

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