Review – City Magick

City Magick –
Spells, Rituals, and Symbols For The Urban Witch

Author: Christopher Penczak
Foreword: Judika Illes
Weiser Books
2001, 2012
ISBN #978-1-57863-521-4

Being very much an urban dweller myself, and having been schooled in esoteric as well as mundane disciplines within that environment, I was very interested in seeing what Penczak presented in “City Magick”, and how he presented it. The tools that he works with – spells, rituals, and symbols – all lend themselves to being worked with in any environment (with just a little thought).

In her foreword, Illes talks about New York City’s skyscrapers being distinctive in both appearance and personality. Think about images you have seen of these buildings (or your own memories, if you have seen the buildings in person) – they each carry very vibrant energy, and each carry a very individual character. I loved the way she noted that Penczak opened reader’s eyes, and caused them to reconsider all facets of their environment. She also makes a very pertinent statement when she talks about “City Magick” challenging beliefs about what is magickal, and what isn’t. The cherished ideal is that of being one with nature, and literally performing magickal acts in that environment. If we look at the energy within an urban, city environment, and opens ourselves up to it, we will find that it is very supportive of our intentions.

In his introduction, Penczak talks about working for a major Indie record lable, and spending a great deal of time in cities like Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. Having learned his nature based magickal spirituality in the woods of New Hampshire, he struggled to integrate this practice into an urban environment. When he lost his job in the music industry he turned naturally to the direction of professional metaphysician, healer, and writer. This lead to his writing the first edition of “City Magick”. During his author tour for that book his visited several major cities, and got to “meet” their energies, and the spirits that resided there. From the book” You can’t look at Egypt, Greece, Rome, or even London without seeing the ancient cultures modern pagans draw upon today.”

Penczak talks about the city being a powerful landscape of magick, with prana all around it. I was a bit surprise that he noted that some people choose to put off studying a magickal path because they are living in the city. I have always found whatever I needed in the city. When I loved to the country, I simply maintained my same practices. He does note that it is important to know the flow of the city you are living in, so that you know where working energy is. He also notes that magick can be found in many forms, including meditation, introspection, and various alternative healing modalities, such as Reiki, acupuncture, herbalism, crystals, and past life regression.

Magick is defined as both a skill and a discipline, based on the three R’s: reality, rapture, and ritual. By understanding how these concepts work in a traditional sense, we can understand how to apply them to urban mysticism. Penczak presents a very credible, easy to understand explanation for each fo the three R’s, followed by exercises in meditation, color associations, energizing the chakra’s, spiritual protection, trance work with sound, and trance through movement. This is followed by instruction in Magick Circle Ritual. There is a very simple, usable table of correspondences for each of the four elements (fire, water, air, and earth) and direction, archangel, totems, and God archetypes.

There is quite an interesting section on city totems, including cats, dogs, rodents, squirrels, ants, cockroaches, spiders, crows, doves, ducks, finches, pigeons, and seagulls. He also suggests venues like the city zoo for finding totem animals. Exercises include totem journey, and banishing spirits. There is also a discussion of what Penczak terms mechanical spirits, such as those found in subways, trains, automobiles, airplanes, and streetlights. Penczak also presents an interesting section on urban archetypes – the city archetype, the building archetype, the construction archetype, the transportation archetype, the music and art archetypes, the electricity archetype, the television archetype, the computer archetype, and the medicine archetype.

Readers are also introduced to the “Makers” of magick, and to the concept that reality is mutable, with the physical world being illusion. He talks about the three worlds (Under World, Middle World, and Upper World), and the intriguing concept that a skyscraper can act to connect the three worlds. Each world is presented with its own exercise: the Visible City (Middle World) , with the exercise “Sidewalking”; the Sky City (Upper World), with the exercise “Travel To The Sky City”; and the Hidden City (Under World), with the exercise “Travel To The Hidden City”.

In his chapter on “Urban Magick”, Penczak talks about the elements, and where to find them in the city. Exercises include “Pranic Breathing”, “TV Projection”, and TV Scrying”.

In his chapter on “Tools of the Trade”, Penczak talks about designing your own rituals (with a nice table on elemental correspondences for the city), tools found within the home (including spices, food coloring, different foods, various oils, stuffed animals, and pots and pans), preparation of ritual oils, sacred space incense, prosperity incense, love oil, psychic oil, and a speaking easy charm. Various spells are included, such as a binding spell, a spell for removing career blocks, and a perfect job spell. He also discusses what he terms techno-shamanic tools, including drum machines, sequencers, and synthesizers. Exercises here include “Plant Speak” and “Stone Quest”.

“The Language of the Street” talks about the words and symbols of power in the urban world. Exercises include “Gaining Magick Words”, “Graffiti Sidewalking”, and “Creating A Protection City Sigil”.

Penczak goes into modern symbols, and how they represent us. He discuses items like the airplane, the answering machine, the arrow, the atom, the balloon, the boat, a brick wall, the car, the clock, the computer, and more. Exercises include “Runic Sidewalking” and “Rune Consecration”.

There is a very comprehensive section on the seasonal holidays – Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lammas, and Mabon. Included is information on what each holiday represents, as well as a template for ritual work.

What we consider to be a temple is opened up when we consider urban life. Penczak includes venues such as homes and offices, and nightclubs. He covers invocations, face painting, and glamours, with exercises including “Glamour”. “Riding”, “Dance Magick”, and “Psychometry”.

Techno Temples include search engines, web rings, and magickal mail. Penczak also addresses Magickal Netiquette, FAQ;s, flaming, sources, and asking questions. He also presents a template for creating a cyber temple- and why not … many of us spend a great deal of time in cyberspace! The exercise included here is “On-Line Ritual”.

At the end of the book is magick all of its own! The energy of different sections with a city, and the energy of several given cities, is presented. What better way to see in a very physical way all of the things this book has been talking about!

I highly recommend this book to anyone practicing magickal work in an urban setting , as well as to anyone contemplating doing so. Through description and the different exercises, the reader gets a very hands on feel how they can expand their world!

© September 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

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10 comments on “Review – City Magick

  1. JJ says:

    Bonnie, I would love to know who did the artwork on the cover behind the silhouette of the city. Is there a credit inside the book or on the book jacket for the illustrator? Thanks.

  2. […] Review – City Magick (bonniecehovet.wordpress.com) […]

  3. Lisa says:

    Love Christopher’s work, thanks for such a thorough review! My recent favorite of his? Plant Familiars – LOVE!! 🙂 Lots there that you don’t find usually anywhere else!

  4. Loved the review! Look up my new post pls, nominating you (to be published soon ;))

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