A little while ago while stumbling across Studio Arcanis and lurking on the boards I came across an entire subforum dedicated to a book called The Miracle of New Avatar Power by Geof Gray-Cobb. A few threads, Google searches, and scattered blog entries later left me a very perplexed witch. This 1974 book is even cheesier than a lot of the chakras-auras-and-energy-fields-oh-my paperbacks that I've seen around in used bookstores from the same decade. As if the cover page isn't corny enough, the actual insides contain more "if they could do it, so can you!!" anecdotes and infomercial-like blurbs than actual practical text! You really can't escape them; they're after every little chant and technique the book provides, breaking up the flow of the text to the point where while reading it I seriously considered just copying down the legitimate text into a Word doc to make for easier reading. In the end, generous usage of sticky notes was what helped me.
So, why is this out-of-print, ham-tastic little book one of the most popular members of the "modern grimoires" category? I asked around and the answers I received were pretty uniform: its system is simple and it works. In between those hilariously awful testimonials are super-short chants containing the names of spirits who apparently will really come through for you if you call on them. Make no mistake, the techniques really are super simple—in fact, they require no materials at all. Everything starts off with the New Avatar Power (NAP) ritual, which is a short relaxation/meditation exercise, and then you can go on to do what is basically the Golden Dawn Middle Pillar ritual, followed by circulating the power through your body from your head to your toes, and finally bringing it all up like a fountain. The book even gives the Kabbalistic Cross as an example of warding. Ultimately, however, all that is really necessary is the NAP ritual and the short chant of your choice afterwards, each corresponding to a different purpose and its governing spirit.
At no point does the book ever provide any substantial information about the spirit names; who they are, what they look like, etc. But apparently they really do listen. People have been getting fairly innovative on NAP discussion groups from what I've seen. Sigils have been produced, people have cross-referenced glimpses of forms and appearances with each other, incorporated elements of ritual offerings and hoodoo into their workings with the spirits, and so on. Reading through the book for the first time, the spirit names were the only things that really stood out to me initially. If you analyze the text, the whole system really derives its juice from calling on the names to perform the tasks for you, and having a good command over how you flex your personal power.
Some people had mixed success, as with all systems, but others spoke so glowingly in praise of the thaumaturgic powers of the spirits it was as if they were pitching an infomercial blurb themselves! I was still puzzled, but it's not like it was implausible for me to conceive of the author being in touch with a group of spirits who all agreed to assist people who would use the chants (and/or delivered the chants themselves to him) and happened to be pretty good at it too. The Strategic Sorcery community itself has an entire lesson revolving around a set of spirits that revealed themselves and agreed to assist those who learned how to call on them via the course. Isn't that the case of almost any system, lodge, group, and so on? The little sorcerous coven I belong to has its own dedicated spirit guardians and mentors too. So while the book's presentation may be pretty silly, the integrity and power of the spirit names can obviously be extremely potent—it's not as if the strength of incorporeal beings is contingent on how nice the presentation of a text a medium-author puts together for them is. The secondhand occult book market sure likes to think this is the case, though.
In all honesty, if I ever came across NAP somewhere I probably would have never even thought to pick it up, even at a bargain deal. Now that I had done my research, though, I decided I genuinely wanted to get to know the spirits behind it, say hello, and test out the magic for myself.
Initially, I read a scanned .pdf copy someone e-mailed me while I was still asking around about the work. My rule about pirated books is really simple: I don't work with material I haven't legitimately bought/someone legitimately bought for me. It's important to be fair not only to the authors but to the spirits, showing them that you value what you're doing and that you're willing to sacrifice for it. Even with books that are out-of-print and are selling for ridiculous prices on the aftermarket, I do my best to enchant for a better-priced copy; otherwise, I just won't work with it—after all, it's not like I need it when I have so much of my own regular practice on my plate. The only time I've made an exception is when an author, deeply unhappy with book scalpers, gave his readers his blessing to use the pirated copies available online on the condition that they would purchase gifts and tools for the spirits of the book's system totaling to the publisher's original asking price. That will do until the inevitable reprint.
So, since the .pdf had given me an understanding of what the material was like, I hit the aftermarket. Wow. I've paid a lot more for standard releases of books (ahem, Xoanon) than what the average asking price was, but... really? There was no way I was going to spend that much for a scratched-up copy that I only really wanted to experiment with anyway. It would have been seriously entertaining if I asked one of the NAP spirits in the pirated copy to assist me in enchanting for an affordable physical copy, but that would obviously go against my rule (though I met plenty of people who actually got theirs this way, so it seems like they won't turn you down for such a thing). Instead, I did my go-to ritual and the next day on Amazon I found my copy at a genuinely shockingly low price. The condition was excellent too, which was a great bonus.
Once I had it in my hands I went through its rituals. I wasn't expecting anything major, but at the same time I wanted to evaluate the system on its own. So I called on Nitika, "Genius of Wealth", and ensured not to do any additional wealth magic for the duration of however long it would take for them to fulfill my request. When the spirit arrived it passed all the tests I normally do to check if they are who they say they are and not some miscellaneous trickster, and then we just spoke. They were extremely considerate and open, answering all my questions to my heart's content and happily agreeing to assist me. I quizzed it on how it normally fulfills its tasks and made sure I wasn't accidentally restricting its ability to influence my life by being too cautious about having a sterile environment for the experiment, so to speak. Within 36 hours Nitika delivered quadruple what I initially requested. It's not that I wasn't going to take the spirit at its word, more that I just try not to expect much when working with modern grimoires I'm on the fence about, but I was completely floored. Subsequent workings with Nitika and other spirits in NAP have lead to similarly impressive results, in terms of speed, potency, or even both.
"Success be thy proof" indeed. I'm impressed with this odd little book. The spirits are highly cooperative and helpful. I've integrated my standard offering procedure with them after asking for their consent and input, and I've also decided not to alter the existing text in the book for working with them. Even though the NAP relaxation ritual had me raise an eyebrow the first time I read through it, I've found that it just doesn't feel the same if you omit it. I have and still do surround the ritual and the chant with other practices I bring into my own personal workings for an added boost, but I'm not going to take out what the book asks you to do. It's not as if it takes long to go through it anyway. There are other bits in the book that include astral projection, conjuring a servitor called the "magic mentor" and actually testing the efficacy of the psi abilities the work stirs up in you, but there was nothing there that was anything really new for me and/or that I hadn't tried or learned better techniques for.
In my experience, the heart and soul of NAP lies in the spirits who help you carry out the magic and the exercises that try to awaken and deepen your extrasensory organs, which in turn allow you to better communicate with those spirits—which is, of course, a standard formula for spirit work. And just like what you'd expect, it's the spirits that truly shine. In NAP's case, they are extremely responsive, considerate, helpful, and just all-around fun to be with. I am really pleasantly surprised and can definitely see myself calling on them again for future spell work, both on their own and, more likely, in conjunction with other efforts and spirits, as they seem to have a really easy time assisting other familiars and petitioned beings.