As of October 8th, Timothy Roderick’s second year-and-a-day course has been on the shelves of fine booksellers around the nation…or at least in Amazon warehouses readily awaiting shipment.
When I first learned about “Roderick Round 2”, I didn’t think I’d be all that interested in working through a second year and a day. As much as I enjoyed going through the first book, it did take an awful lot of time to thoroughly journal, and time is thin on the ground for me at the moment. In addition to the new job, I’m working with a new coven, and they take their training super seriously. While little I am seeing in Round 2 would conflict with what I know about this new coven’s tradition, I think its best that I focus exclusively on the coven teachings for awhile.
That being said, I think I am going to put Round 2 on my horizon. Flipping through the pages, I realized how much I’d missed the direct, concrete practices. Most of the exercises are a page or so and incredibly approachable. As the queen of the procrastinators, I appreciate anything that makes me think, “I can do this. Let’s do it now!” and Roderick’s presentation definitely delivers on that. I truthfully think it is his greatest strength.
There’s more to love in this version. In Round 1, the book was organized by topic. You moved through several days on a particular topic, then did not really ever return to that topic. I completely understand why that organization is useful in an introductory text–the neophyte needs time to taste and savor the major concepts before they can internalize them and use them in context. After all, I don’t teach my writing students to do everything all at once–that would confuse them beyond measure! Round 2 begins this complication. The book is organized in a series of thirteen lunations, which are further divided into waxing and waning stages. Here’s my description of the various stages:
- First Lunation Waxing: Preparation and execution of the first degree initiation.
- First Lunation Waning: Developing relationship with patron deities.
- Second Lunation Waxing: Air elemental work in knowing and wondering.
- Second Lunation Waning: Solomonic magic with Saturn.
- Third Lunation Waxing: Fire elemental work in willing and surrendering.
- Third Lunation Waning: Solomonic magic with Jupiter.
- Fourth Lunation Waxing: Water elemental work with daring and accepting.
- Fourth Lunation Waning: Solomonic magic with Mars.
- Fifth Lunation Waxing: Earth elemental work with silence and resonance.
- Fifth Lunation Waning: Solomonic magic with the Sun.
- Sixth Lunation Waxing: Affirmation.
- Sixth Lunation Waning: Reactive karmic clean-up.
- Seventh Lunation Waxing: Responsibility and vows.
- Seventh Lunation Waning: Exorcism.
- Eighth Lunation Waxing: Unity and tree magic.
- Eighth Lunation Waning: Drawing Down the God
- Ninth Lunation Waxing: Bounty and generosity.
- Ninth Lunation Waning: Samhain and Yule
- Tenth Lunation Waxing: Imbolc, Spring, and Beltane
- Tenth Lunation Waning: Summer, Lammas, Autumn
- Eleventh Lunation Waxing: Impermanence and Ancestors
- Eleventh Lunation Waning: Unpleasantry and planetary Condensers
- Twelfth Lunation Waxing: Planetary condensers and the five points of fellowship.
- Twelfth Lunation Waning: Five points of fellowship.
- Thirteenth Lunation Waxing: Magic squares.
- Thirteenth Lunation Waning: Magic squares and preparing for elevation.
As you can see, there is some necessary “topic grouping,” but when looking at any unique exercise, you will see skill bleedover, so the whole year feels more cohesive and purposed.
I was also pleased to see that almost every exercise is to be lingered on over two days, which makes everything far more manageable. For example, there’s an exercise that teaches how to image transfer a printed image onto a candle. Having done this before, I know the whole process can take 2-3 hours, depending on the fiddliness of one’s printer, how many times the tissue paper rips, etc. Life is much more manageable when you divide up the project; for example, printing the image on day 1 and transferring it to the candle on day 2. On other exercises, you can take care of all the mundane preparation on one day and practice a dry run on day 1 in order to really sink into the exercise on day 2. It’s very simple and subtle change from Round 1, but it makes the whole year far more manageable.
My largest criticism at this point is that Roderick persisted in his exotic oils list. Now, I love essential oils. I have a whole drawer full of them, and use them frequently in my magic. Roderick does ask for several oils that you can readily find, though some will be very expensive–jasmine, lemongrass, rose, cinnamon, clove, pine, myrrh, sage, sandalwood, frankincense, geranium, patchouli, cassia, cinnamon, and lemon dominate this list. But he also asks for some oils that are difficult to find (if not impossible) or beyond expensive–musk, amber, dragon’s blood, gardenia, iris, lily of the valley, meadowsweet, violet, heather, apple, pear, ambergris, water lily, balm of gilead, storax. Musk and ambergris I’m frankly shocked to see maintained–the proper version of these come from animals that ought not to be killed. Amber and copal come from fossilized resins, which to my thought, are better used as resins than forced to yield tiny amounts of tarry oil. Apple and pear literally cannot be found at all; 100% of oils under these names are synthetic. And some of these oils are not essential oils at all. Dragon’s blood, for example, is dragon’s blood resin chunks whizzed through industrial blenders with a carrier oil.
There is something undeniably witchy about mixing oils, and an amazing blend is pure magic. But unless you’re going through a perfumery course, there is no compelling magical reason to knock yourself out trying to find heather oil when other correspondences will have the same effect. (And if it’s a Scotch connection you’re seeking, just invest in a nice bottle of Glenmorangie. You’ll enjoy it more, I promise.)
I’m also a little disappointed in how much Roderick glosses over in the Solomonic magic sections. I was not expecting a doctoral dissertation’s worth of breakdown, but The Key of Solomon is an incredibly dense text that is utterly inaccessible to most. Some attempt at a stronger explanation of what exactly has been cherry picked for this instructional year would not have gone amiss.
That being said, I continue to think that Roderick compiles a great training course, and one that honors traditional witchcraft well. I look forward to working through the book myself.