Kinesic Magic: Channeling Energy with Postures & Gestures, by Donald Tyson
Llewellyn Publications, 0738764132, 272 pages, August 2020
Integrating our bodies with our magical practice — there’s nothing I love more! But sometimes it’s hard to find a systematic way to do this (aside from watching The Magicians and seeing how the characters use their hands to cast spells, which I absolutely have incorporated into my own workings). I’ve occasionally found books on mudras for the astrological signs, and I am also familiar with the correspondence between body parts and zodiac signs, but never had I discovered a method to blend it all together. This is why I absolutely love Kinesic Magic: Channeling Energy with Postures & Gestures, in which Donald Tyson has created a comprehensive guide that shifts the practice of magic from complex rituals in arcane grimoires to the bare essential of one’s body. The techniques, despite being surprisingly simple, are a powerful way to work the fundamental energies of Western magic.
Tyson is a prolific author and expert in Western occultism. During his studies, he noticed a gap between Eastern and Western practices due to the exclusion of the body in most occult systems in the West. Eastern traditions include the practice of yoga as a method of transforming energy and connecting to energy of the Universe. Therefore, Tyson, who had alluded to how one could use their hands in magical works in his previous book The New Magus 1, decided to create his own system. A reader should be aware this is something Tyson created on his own based on his extensive experience and knowledge, but in no way does this detract from the effectiveness of these practices.
For those of you who may not know, the definition of kinesic is, “the study of body movements, gestures, facial expressions, etc., as a means of communication.” 2 In Kinesic Magic, most of the focus is on body movement and gestures, rather than facial expressions. The first chapter, “The Twenty-Four Postures,” is the fundamental postures used in this system (the rest of the book focuses on hand-gestures). These postures are essentially the foundation of the workings one may be doing, including invoking, banishing, projecting, channeling, binding, and manifesting. Every posture has a hand-drawn image of a man in the posture along with a written description and information on how it can be used.
It’s worth spending time familiarizing yourself with these postures since they are the basis of all the workings in the book. I found it to be quite an informative experience to feel my body in these different postures. Purposely integrating my focus, will, and body was harder than I thought it would be, but with practice, the postures became more intuitive. It took me about a week to learn these foundation postures before continuing on with the book. One could absolutely keep on reading without them memorized, referring back to them when needed, but I wanted to have truly mastered the postures before I went more deeply into the following chapters.
There are three types of hand gestures covered in the book: elemental, planetary, and zodiac. Tyson believes these forces are at the heart of Western occultism and also the first teaching that initiates of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn receive, which is one of the most influential systems of ceremonial magic. Every section is packed with information that offers the reader a thorough overview of these topics, in addition to the gestures of how to work with the energies.
Chapter two, “The Five Elements,” dives into the history of the five elements of the Universe: fire, air, water, earth, and spirit. Discussed is how philosophers Aristotle and Plato perceived the elements, including diagrams and vivid descriptions of the properties of the elements and how they interact with one another. Next, there is an overview of the Medieval medical concept of humours that asserted people’s disposition was dependent upon their dominant element. Then Tyson details the elemental spirits as well and includes workings you can do to connect with them.
This pattern of giving a detailed overview of the topic, going through each energy that has a gesture, then explaining the glyph of the energy is also done in the chapters “The Seven Planets” and “The Twelve Zodiac Signs.” These sections are filled with astrological information, and I found them to be more detailed than many beginner astrology books. I feel everyone will certainly get what they’re seeking due to the multiple angles Tyson uses to educate the reader about these energies, ranging form color and chakra correspondences of the zodiac signs to the works that fall under the domain of each planet. These sections are overflowing with creative ideas on how to work with these energies using postures and gestures, including meditations to simply connect with the energies without any elaborate working.
Though I have to tell you, there are SO MANY innovative workings Tyson offers to the readers. Here are some the ones I’ve personally practiced working: To Channel an Element3, The Planetary Spiral4, Meditation on Mars5, Ruling Planets6, Zodiac Squares7, and Invoking the Birth Sign8. I’ve filled up my notebooks journaling about the experience and meditations that have come from using the technique of working the postures and gestures for these purposes. For instance, using my body and mind to create a connection to the zodiac squares was a whole new perspective in understanding how the energy flows between each sign. It’s very neat to be able to embody these abstract concepts and relate to them through not just the wisdom of our intellect, but the wisdom of our bodies as well.
Overall, Kinesic Magic: Channeling Energy with Posture and Gestures is truly groundbreaking (trust me, I wrote my master’s thesis paper on the use of kinesthetic intelligence as a form of education, and the resources are few and far between on this method of learning). It’s a book brimming with exercises that can greatly enhance one’s magic working by including the body. There is so much information in it, one would be able to dedicate months, possibly even an entire year to experimenting with the workings. This is a must-have for anyone who has an interest in further integrating mind, body, and spirit. Tapping into the body’s wisdom has greatly expanded my awareness of possibility. Plus, all the workings in the book can be done without needing to collect or purchase anything at all. The simplicity is a reminder of the magic inherent within us, especially when we connect our will with our body.
Alanna Kali is an astrologer, numerologist, and pioneer spirit that loves to explore life through the lens of depth psychology. She has a passion for studying the humanities and social trends. Her academic work is centered upon reuniting body, mind, and spirit through eco-psychology. She loves reading, spending time in nature, and travel.