At first glance, Nocturnal Magic made me wince, for it tackles one problem I have with modern Wicca.
Most Wiccans I meet simply refuse to acknowledge the darker side. They shy away from the shadows and proclaim that you must never, ever do anything negative, or something “bad” will happen, three times over. My response to this is that you can’t have light without the dark, you can’t have positive without the negative. Much like the concept of “yin/yang,” both elements are necessary to form a proper balance.
That said, Nocturnal Witchcraft is the response to my latter complaint, and an excellent answer at that.
Nocturnal Witchcraft is a very straight-forward examination and exploration of the darker path. Author Konstantinos makes a point of stating that “dark” does not equal “bad.” An example of this would be a banishing. Banishments are regarded as a “negative” act; that is the result of the action is that something goes away, rather than drawn in. A banishment is appropriate for rituals involving cleansing, “clearing the air” after an argument, or even breaking a bad habit. Even a healing uses darker or destructive magics to cure a disease. I doubt anyone can assert that these examples of darker magics are “bad” or “evil.”
Konstantintos has a friendly and down-to-earth writing style that makes it seem like he is talking directly to you. His words are succinct and straight to the point, there is no flowery language that might confuse novice practitioners. His mental exercises are well-written and easy to understand and would be a boon to those just wanting to learn how magic “works.” He also dispels the notion that dark magics are all about waving your wand about and voila! -instant results. He emphasizes several times that magic is work, both physical and mental, and that it takes much practice to master both forms.
Some information is well known to the more advanced practitioners — what a Sabbat is, how to write a ritual, how to construct an altar, all presented in a manner which embraces the darker elements. For example, a traditional altar may use white candles and a light, clean incense. A nocturnal altar uses black candles and a heavier-scented incense. Small changes really, but important enough that they impact the outlook of the practitioner, completing the mindset for the magical work at hand.
What would make one want to walk the darker paths anyway? Some people just feel more comfortable and relate better to the darker deities — Hecate, Nyx, Hypnos, Anubis. Much like those in professions that most of us would have a hard time fulfilling; for example few would gladly become a forensic pathologist because of the subject matter involved, but it is a vital and necessary occupation, and only those very passionate about it succeed. Such is the case with the darker paths — they are not something that everyone wants, but the few who do are drawn to it for a reason. Forcing them to do or be something else would not serve their spiritual growth.
Nocturnal Witchcraft is an excellent book for novices and is highly recommended for those wanting to learn more about darker magics. It teaches the reader to not be afraid of the darker path, the one full of shadows, and ultimately, the one less traveled.