Remember those wonderful kids books of old such as The Golden Book of Chemistry, since deemed too dangerous for our over-protective times? In recent times, our yearning for those daring days has seen success for the rather non-risky 'Dangerous Book for Boys' series.
The occult equivalent of the Golden Book of Chemistry might just be How to Make Magic, a 1974 book that showed kids how to perform a little stage magic, and oh SUMMON THE DEVIL HIMSELF. Thankfully, this classic tome has been rescued from obscurity by @Cavalorn, who has posted scans of the book to his blog, with commentary.
The book seems to begin innocuously enough, with some neat little 'stage magic' tricks to mystify your friends and family with. Although, like the Golden Book of Chemistry, the book is happy enough to recommend a child go and purchase some volatile chemicals. As Cavalorn reminisces: "Oh for the lost days of our youth when a small boy could come skipping out of a chemist's shop with a manual of witchcraft in one hand and a bag of bomb ingredients in the other."
But really, what could go wrong with some of the juvenile stage magic tricks in the book, as long as there are clear directions to ensure the safety of the child? I mean, really?*
(* Full disclosure: I once did the 'pencil up the nose, out the mouth' magic trick in front of a 12-year-old. Minutes later they staggered out of their room screaming with blood pouring from their nose)
But of course, these were different times, when we didn't fixate on little details that might be harmful, given the unlikely scenario of a bunch of unfortunate circumstances combining. So let's not castigate the authors for well-meaning passages that....wait, what's this?
Witches used to make wax or wooden dolls of their enemies and stick pins in as a spell to hurt them. Has your teacher, or a friend, made you a little angry lately? Here's what a witch with a sense of humour might do.
That's right, a magic book for kids recommended making a voodoo doll if friends or teachers had "made you a little angry". We've obviously left the stage magic section well behind now, although I shudder to think what the recommendation is for anyone that's made you really angry...
Head on over to Cavalorn's blog for plenty more occult tuition for juniors, including such gems as:
"Ask your parents if you can bewitch a corner of your garden at home. The centre piece should really be a tree around which you should plant a circle of white flowers - snowdrops or daisies, perhaps - in honour of the moon goddess"
"Of course, this is no ordinary cat but a 'familiar' sent by the Devil himself to lend a helping hand"
"Be careful not to put the pentagrams upside down because they look a bit like the Devil with his horns and you don't want him turning up"
That last pearl of wisdom comes from the spread in which young children are taught to construct a circle to conduct ritual magick in. I would totally have made this book my personal bible if I had ever come across it in my own youth.