Back in June, I did a quick book review of Ninevah Shadrach's Magic Squares and the Tree of Life: Western Mandalas of Power. At the time, I gave it a split rating: one for beginners and one for more advanced magicians (as always there is that question of who I am really writing for).
The review was based on first impressions. Occult books are not easy to review, especially if one wants to remain in the zone of timely. To do a proper review, one that would be suitable for including in a journal (peer-reviewed, rewritten, fact-checked, etc.), one would actually have to work their way though an entire occult book, doing the work, researching the writer's sources, and waiting for the results.
All reviews of occult books are well below journal-level, with the possible exceptations of reviewers who got the privilege of working with the rough draft of a book (more time spent with the book equals a better review). You can look at the sections that are similar to the techniques that you have experience with and estimate what is going to work and what makes sense, but beyond that you are just guessing. Even blurbs on the back of the books are suspect (there is economics involved here).
So when I did my review of MS&TOL, I stated that I was going to reserve the right to revise my opinion after working with the hundred celled square for awhile. Well, it was a long summer (my schedule was not exactly under my own control) and an even longer university semester; I am just now getting to the point of starting to create the magic square.
Now, I will admit that I agreed with some of the comments I got on the review that I should have only focused on clearness of the instructions and the power of the squares themselves. But to do a timely review required a quick guess of what your average occultist was willing to do. It is only now that I have time to construct one of the squares to work with it.
(An interesting side-note is that some people believe that you should only do timely book reviews, and never do some of the types of reviews I do----this completely ignores one of the most profitable sections of the occult book market: the used book section. It also ignores the fact that there is now a thriving pdf library of old, out-of-print occult works, including a massive pdf of a 666 page book; personally I would like to know if a book is worth downloading and reading before doing so, for more than one reason.)
Now that I am preparing to create one (or more) of these massive squares, I am having thoughts about the book I did not have before.
The primary thought that has been obsessing me for the last few days is: Where I am going to find a piece of paper big enourgh to do this square which is still light enourgh that it can be folded down into a reasonable size? There is also the matter of clearing off a workspace for the project.
I have a piece of poster board. It is not light enourgh for my purposes. And even if it was, it is still not big enourgh.
Yes, I said a piece of poster board is not big enourgh. At least, not for me.
It is only 55 centimeters across. Kicking it down to 50 centimeters because I do not own a yardstick (meterstick) with fine enourgh markings to deal with smaller units, that leaves me with a cell of only a half centimeter.
At this point, anyone who has worked with me in lodge, or who has seen my handwriting, knows that I need a bigger piece of paper. There is no way I am going to be able to write some of these numbers into a half centimeter by half centimeter cell.
The only solutions that I can think of at the moment (outside of wondering if there is not a coded version of the personal sized square) is to wonder if they make rolls of paper the width that I need. (I thought of doing it on fabric [silk maybe], but budget constraints and my lack of fabric painting skill will make it a non-possibility at this time.)
There is also the question of how thick this will be when it is folded. For those who did not do the extra credit in mathematics, a piece of paper rapidly becomes impossible to fold. Paper also becomes extremely thick when folded repeatedly. I do not want to wear a fannypack to carry around a magic square. I am not sure that they make onion-skin paper in the size I need.
Note: None of this was a glimmer in my mind when I did my original review of this book. I wonder how many average magicians would even consider proceeding once they discovered this particular problem.