The Octavo comes hot on the heels of The Apophenion and represents another salvo in Pete Carroll’s assault on the unenchanted reality of modern physics. The Octavo is a new map for the new aeon (or Pandaemonium as Carroll terms it). The logic runs that in the old days magicians built maps of reality based on simple cosmological architecture; you had your 9 worlds of the Germanic sorcerers, your 10 worlds of the Qabalist, your 12 signs of the astrologers and so forth. In The Octavo the author seeks to create a full blown model of reality that both describes and supports the practise of magick. Enter some fairly simple, though at first daunting, equations and some humorous parallels that are drawn between the way reality appears to be in Terry Practett's Discworld and our universe (aka 'Roundworld' – hence the subtitle) .The cartography of the magickal map in the modern age requires us to understand and describe the basic forces (rather than plotting territories or regions) that hold reality together. Carroll does an excellent job of this in ways that may even be amenable to scientific testing. More importantly for me (as an occultist) he shows what this map could mean for the use of practical magick.
Those who have been following Pete’s oeuvre will not be surprised. In the Octavo we see the distillation and indeed computation of many of the ideas sketched out in The Apophenion. Once more we invited to explore the model of a universe that exists as a vorticulating hypersphere and not as the (increasingly unlikely looking) big bang/big crunch conjecture of the Standard Model. Panpsychism, magical links and more are discussed. Also important in this work are the conjectures about the limits to magick, where the author analyses how and why magickal effects can be very tiny and/or capricious.
Don’t read this book if you want a list of how-to instructions about casting sigils or whatever, but if you want to see the work of someone who’s really trying to examine the wiring under the board of how and why esoteric techniques work, then this book is a must. Personally I feel Pete’s analysis could do with a dash more psychology or phenomenology. After all magick isn’t just a science it’s also an art and that requires a different, though complimentary language to describe it. However all magicians should strive to be technicians of the sacred and with The Octavo they may finally have the first-steps towards a manual for the operating system of the universe.