A few thoughts on The Theban Oracle by Greg Jenkins, PhD

thebanI have to admit, it took me some time to get through The Theban Oracle. Even longer as I chose to read it twice. This had the potential to be a great book. In the end, it wasn’t. Not great, I mean. It was good enough. That’s almost worse than being an abject failure. Before I toss off a few thoughts on the book, let’s look at what the publisher teases us regarding the book’s contents:

Based on the ancient magical writings of 14th-century magus, Honorius of Thebes, the Theban Oracle is a codex employed for centuries as a means of devotion and divination. Used by such masters of the occult sciences as Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, Dr. John Dee, Francis Barrett, and later Gerald Gardner, it has remained relatively obscure and elusive to the modern practitioner. Until now.

In this book, author Greg Jenkins, PhD, offers both the complete history of this medieval magical system and a working manual for the modern mage to utilize it. In these pages, you’ll find:

*How to make and care for your own set of stones.
*A variety of methods for divination, from using just one stone to using nine stones and more.
*How to use the Theban stones for spellcasting, including love and purification spells and Theban incense and candle magick.
*A complete lexicon of the Theban alphabet with a who’s who of Theban history along with divinatory meanings and how they relate to the modern world.
*A quick reference to the sacred herbs and angelic orders associated with each symbol.

Prepare yourself to discover the hidden mysteries of the ancients and the magick within you.

The Theban Oracle: Discover the Magic of the Ancient Alphabet that Changes Lives… to which I respond, poppycock.

I had written a very detailed and scathing review of this book and then, after careful consideration, deleted it. I’ve not been feeling well of late and I’m rather out of sorts. I think perhaps my critique of Mr. Jenkins’ work was colored by this fact. That being said, what bothers me most is that there is a great book in here trying to get out, but in the end, it falls into the “new-age” trap, almost from the outset.

So much of this is modern invention, and far too much speculation is presented as fact. For all the positive techniques and spellwork found within these pages, it’s really hard to get past the obvious wink-wink, nudge-nudge. I just don’t see this as a book for the serious student. This is another pop-culture sleight-of-hand shelf-filler that takes up far too much space in bookstores both great and small.

That being said, there are things to be gained from reading this book. Trouble is, you have to weed through much disappointment to get there.

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9 Responses to “A few thoughts on The Theban Oracle by Greg Jenkins, PhD”

  1. Arcane Obscure Says:

    Thank you for the review. You just saved me time and money and I appreciate that. I hope that in the future someone will give this subject the proper treatment. :)

  2. I just now read this, following my own dictum about not reading other reviews until I have mine written. Having only seen the first couple of lines of yours, I was concerned that you had let this one off easy. I needn’t have worried. As you’ll see when my review goes live on spiralnature.com, I wrote that detailed and scathing analysis you deleted, but allowed that the actual divination method looked pretty cool, rather like you did.

    We could have collaborated on this one!

  3. Thanks for the review, and having read it twice!

    Sadly, the “New Age Trap,” is spot on, and a seemingly necessary trap for selling books of this nature today. I also miss the more scholarly tomes of yesteryear, especially University Books, a splendid publisher that covered far deeper aspects of this discipline. Yet, today I fear the quick and easy approach is the most desired by publishers as it’s meant not for the scholar, in this case the occult scholar, but rather those who have a base interest in such things, but don’t committed to the time and reading necessary to grasp even the rudimentary basics. To that end, even those books that appear to cover the more colorful aesthetics of such topics are simply regurgitated from earlier works, leaving a sense of the arcane, without having to possess a particular knowledge of such wisdom, nor have to be a solid member of a mystery school, for instance. No, the Theban Oracle is simply an introductory to one’s own “magick,” if you will, and not meant to be on the shelves alongside the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, the Aurea Catena Homeri oder, Eine Beschreibung von dem Ursprung der Natur und natürlichen Dingen , the Hygromanteia or Hygromancy of Solomon or the Grimorium Verum. No, the Theban Oracle should rest respectfully betwixt Ralph Blum’s Rune Stones and Simon’s Necromomicon. It’s meant to be quick for “potentially” limited attention-spans, (meaning those who are in a hurry and do not what to spend too much time reading the same articles over and over again), and for those seeking a positive, self-help feel regarding the occult/new age.

    Originally, I had intended the work to be a part of a kit, whereby the player would use either stones or cards to play. That was ousted at the last moment, and rendered into the book you have now. It was written in a brief way to serve the original purpose, thus forcing me to remove far too much information that could have created a much meatier book, for sure. Nonetheless, if it brings a little self-reflection and even joy to a select few, then I’m happy. After all, magick is unique to the beholder; some will like it, and some not.

    I’m cool with that.

    Again, thanks for the review!

    Greg Jenkins

    • Thanks for shedding some light on the process and for not taking personal affront to the review at hand.

      As a writer myself, I understand the publishing machine all too well.

      It’s why I stick to ‘fiction’, mate, elsewise I’d go mad. Not to say I’ve not reached that point just the same.

  4. Many interesting reviews here, though a bit tainted. I own this book and found it quite entertaining and well written. I have spent much time at the British Library, specifically reviewing the Sloane collections, and found Dr. Jenkins’ research accurate, though, as American’s like to say: Dumbed-down for the masses. In retrospect of these reviews, however, I must say that little original thinking has gone into them. Are these comments relevant in that no one can make their own judgments on their own behalf, without simply taking one man’s word on the subject?

    Perhaps the book should be taken for what it is: Several hundred years of subject matter combined with personal introspection upon that subject, and then designed for the “average” reader to a worthy introduction of that subject mater. Having been a professor of both psychology and English lore for close to 43 years, I can only support Jenkins’ book and divination system as relevant and proper for the student of the occult process, primarily Western traditions. Moreover, his attempt to regulate such high traditions within a common voice is most admirable. My only suggestion would have been to add a medium, such as ‘stones’ or other item with the product. That, I have no doubt is not the fault of the author. Finally, I can offer only this advice: Rather than take one person’s opinion as the only truth, and then taking that as fact alone, take the chance and read the book for yourself. You might find that your own judgment is in fact better than the one offering the opinion.

    Cheers!

    Johannes McAddam

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