Finally finished going deep into this lovely tome, and I have to say that it is very impressive. I've not worked the Black Dragon (grimoire) or done much with the Enchiridion before, so this was a double joy for me. I'm going to break the review into a couple of sections, make it easier to order my thoughts.
Mr.Cecchetelli has done something that I think will start to become a standard for modern grimoiric Magicians who choose to write--whether they are re-approaching a classic or communicating their own Grimoire. He's included a sample of his own working journal that notes his results and observations in the work, including preparations he takes before beginning the work. This part is invaluable I think, to both experienced and newb magicians. This ain't my first rodeo, as it were, and reading Mr.Cecchetelli's journal was useful for me because his results told me that he'd actually done the Work.
He wasn't bullshitting; I've spoken with some of these entities and experienced some similar things (like their absolute hatred of the traditional Threat-based evocatory incantations) and so I find that I trust his work and value it. Trust is important in this case, because he's provided re-worked and improved versions of some of the mangled Seals. Lot easier to jump right in and do some work when you know the research involved in it's creation has been done by an actual practitioner.
Another interesting thing you get by delving into his journal, for the beginner, is an understanding of how communication with these entities is supposed to work. When I was young and first beginning, I had no idea how this was supposed to go. Would I hear them audibly? See them in the glass or scrying bowl? Would it be within my mind's eye, or on the scrying medium itself? Will I get my guts ripped out if I summon a bunch of demons? You know, the standard stuff one thinks about when first delving into work with the Grimoires. I would have loved this book when I was first starting out. I love it now.
I grew up in the Catholic Church. These grimoires seem like they were made specifically for me; un-surprisingly so, because they were likely utilized by clergy and the like. The Orisons in the Enchiridion and the incantations in the Black Dragon all make copious use of Catholic Saints (who are the Christian version of the Heroic Dead) and the Holy Trinity and Blessed Mother. This all works just fine for me; my various initiations within the Church (baptism, confirmation, communion, etc etc) leave me feeling that I have a right to call upon the Catholic pantheon, regardless of my opinion of the structure of the public version of the religion.
This probably creates a lot of cognitive dissonance for a number of modern magicians, many of whom have developed a strong anti-Christian streak. (I feel that they are only robbing themselves of power by ignoring the most powerful stream in Western civilization; babies and bathwater...you don't have to approach this current in the way any of the churches tell you to.) There is a point in the book where Mr.Cecchetelli discusses that the entities arrive under the power of the Kings, and not of Yeshua. That's one hundred percent true in my experience as well.
In my personal opinion, the practical role of working with Yeshua in Evocatory magic is different and more subtle than the obvious (making the Magician, who is probably a Priest and likely fearful of dire consequences for working with Demons, feel good about what he is doing.) I think that in truth Yeshua serves as a key between the spiritual world and the mundane--his personal descent into hell in the mythology of Christianity give him precedent for serving in a Hermes-like role as Psychopomp. Clothing oneself in heavenly authority is one of our oldest tricks as magicians, and many of the old Christian magics require we do exactly that. The invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel is common nowadays, but there is plenty of precedent for the role the HGA plays for modern magicians--protector and advisor when working with the world of Spirit--being carried out by Yeshua, who is often directly invoked with the Holy Spirit and called upon to protect and glorify the magician in our traditional grimoires.
An understanding of how Christian magic works is important to getting the most of these Grimoires. The grimoiric tradition is, in many ways, the reality of practical Christian magic. It is a Christian Tradition, to be frank. Written by priests and performed by priests. The people doing this magic weren't heretics or outsiders, they were the folk who administered the religion.
That isn't to say that you need to be a Christian to do any of this! However, if the roles of the Christian entities called upon for protection and authority are to be kept intact, you can't revile them. The exoteric religion and the entities aren't the same thing. Yeshua was a Jew, along with most of the disciples. It isn't about the religious structure, it is about the current that powers the thing.
I mention all this because I find the use of Psalms in the Enchiridion to be incredibly interesting; I wonder what power the words themselves have without connection to the current? They feel powerful and meaningful to me--would they be of the same use to someone who grew up outside of the Church? I'm no Christian in the modern sense of the word--I give no authority over my spiritual practices to any church, and I don't take any of this evangelical business seriously either. I do, however, have a relationship with Spirit, with various Saints and with Yeshua. I just cut out the middle-man, haha. Be interesting to hear peoples experiences.
Some of these entities in the Black Dragon, regardless of whether they were "demonized" and are not actually entirely historically malefic, will still work you over if you don't have any sense. This isn't the entities fault, of course. No one working with cthonic-type entities should be surprised that they work for their own interests. They are old and strong, and they aren't our slaves. They are honored and powerful entities, and need to be respected...and part of that respect is knowing that they can be dangerous. They may want you to do something a certain way--that doesn't necessarily mean that you should. I would have liked to see Mr.Cecchetelli delve deeper into the nature of blood-offering, and how that works in the context of these grimoires. I also would have loved to see a chapter written that explored why he differed in personal practice from the plain instruction of the grimoire in the areas where he did.
His results as communicated are outstanding. Through his journal he shares what worked well and what didn't for him, and that alone makes the book a treasure.
This is an excellent, well written book that brings new light into the grimoiric magical tradition. You can buy it at Scarlet Imprint. Damn thing is beautiful; great work, here. Mr.Cecchetelli also writes here, make sure to follow him.