Review of The Psychonaut Field Manual: Don't Judge a Grimoire by its Cover
If you were to tell me that the most useful book of esoteric information was a pdf file on a Deviantart page just a few weeks ago, I would have tilted my head. And I would have balked outright if you had told me it was made by someone who called themselves “Arch-Traitor Bluefluke” and unironically used the phrase “I'm the Juggernaut, Bitch!” as a section title. But that is the classism in the occult world speaking. I'm used to stuffy old books written by old white men appropriating cultures they are not part of. If you think magic has to come from spellbooks and proscribed rituals, rather than experimentation and flexibility, this book is not for you. For the rest of us though, I can think of no better introduction to magic on the market. Especially not for free, like this one is.
The Psychonaut Field Manual, created by one Arch-Traitor Bluefluke, is an instruction guide for the budding chaos mage. Bluefluke has created a pretty good down and dirty introduction to some basic foundational magical techniques, all while keeping it agnostic of any theology so that you can get started without subscribing to any particular dogma. It's also a lot easier to digest than some other books on the subject. There are instructions for summoning spirits, sigilization, creating a magic circle, banishing, and even befriending fear-eaters.
Being theology blind, the manual doesn't ascribe any philosophical meaning to where spirits come from or how magic exists. Instead, it attempts to explain it all using pop psychology and concepts from neuroscience, an approach with given my own hypothesis definitely appeals to me. If it has any flaw, it is that the information could stand a bit of updating to modern neuroscience. But for what it is, its still a handy little instructional guide. Certainly easier to digest than Libre Null, at any rate.
Though the information itself is theologically blind, Discordian imagery is used throughout the booklet. Golden apples appear everywhere, as does the Hand of Eris and the number 23. This may put people off of the book, but I've personally found Discordianism to be a good philosophy to work out of so I like this fearure. Not to mention the fact that the artwork itself is fantastic. A nice bled of Jhonen Vasquez, Mike Mignola, and the Gorillaz. Cartoony, punk, and kick-ass all at the same time.
To show you an idea of what I mean, here is one of my favorite parts of the ealy chapters of the booklet, a tarot spread based on the Hand of Eris:
Not only is the art here cool and evocative, but the spread is actually very good for a number of uses. For example, while it is primarily included in the manual as part of a method of sigilization, it can also tell you whether attempting a particular magical action is a good idea or not. If neither of the potential outcomes are good, or if one is significantly more negative than the other, don't do it. It's a good, simple, evocative spread.
Overall, rather than trying to hit the ground running with any other guide, if your need for chaos magic is real and you want to start practicing, download the pdf. It's free, and that's more than can be said for most esoteric works these days.