Book Review – “Ouroboros: A Grimoire” by Ray Sherwin (2017)
|For those interested in new-age thought and philosophy (although many would argue that those terms are misnomers), Ray Sherwin’s latest book “Ouroboros: A Grimoire” presents a fascinating, albeit somewhat brief read.
For those not familiar with Sherwin, he was one of the founding members in the 1970s of a loose group that came to practice a series of rituals known as “Chaos Magic”. Despite the hysterics of the various established religious institutions, the precepts of belief and ritual remain similar with one key difference… as the practitioner, you are responsible for your system. If you want to worship of trinity of Thor, Buddha, and Cthulhu then you go for it. Belief and conviction are the core precepts, and after that, then it’s down to you. Ok, that’s an over-simplification, but you appreciate where I’m coming from.
The practice has certain noted influences, such as those of Crowley and Osman-Spare, as well as the techniques that seem more likely to yield positive results – such as sigiliziation.
Whereas most will hold up Peter Carroll’s “Libre Null” as the Chaos Bible, many found it too dense to fully comprehend. Ray Sherwin’s first effort was the well-received “Book of Results” which demystified much of the arcane language, and subsequent work such as “Theatre of Magick” and “The Cardinal Rites of Chaos” did much to build on the burdegeoning philsophy, as well as influencing the likes of the great Phil Hine and others.
And that brings us to “Ouroboros: A Grimoire”. The initial chapters are almost Discordian in humour as Sherwin details his misgivings about the orders that he has been associated with, and there is a degree of lamentation of the ego-battles that seemed to have marred the 1980’s, to the point where many groups appear to be practically defunct.
Yet is from the ashes of the personality-battles that Sherwin finds hope and begins to reshape both ideas and modern philosophy. The concepts aren’t necessarily new but the angle from which they are considered are both bold and innovative without straying into pretention. Quite the opposite, there is much in here to do away with the hubris of glamour.
Ouroboros is perhaps not the best place for an apprentice. There is less on how-to-do, and more on how-it-can be done. That distinction is a fine line, but there is a requirement of imagination and lateral thinking on the part of the practitioner, rather than being a slavish devotee.
If you want to be hyper-critical, this is a slim book, and at 110 pages it feels that there could have been greater discourse both in philosophy and practices. Personally, I would like to have seen much great discussion on the methods of entering gnosis outside of the tired staples of drugs and sex, but that is just me.
For that minor complaint, there is much here that is worthy of re-reading with concepts that will no doubt keep you awake until the small hours.
Final verdict: 5/6