My friend from over at Weird Words & Brass Beats talked me into watching Netflix's A Dark Song. He said that it contained the most realistic portrayal of magic put to film. I was skeptical.
If you haven't seen it, stop reading this and go watch it. I may reveal some spoilers.
The movie was directed and written by Liam Gavin. I know shit about movies so that's meaningless to me. Anyway Liam centers the movie around the Abramelin working. A loose interpretation of it. Sophia Howard's (Catherine Walker) son was murdered by Thelemites... uh... I mean teenage hoodlums dabbling in the occult.... She is driven by one motive: revenge upon those kids who murdered her young son.
This is the type of tragedy that actually does bring people to magic. Desperation. Revenge. The decimation of all that they loved. That's what brought me. Magic provides the channel for a single phallic force of will poised towards the transcendent. Up! Up! The ruddy skies! I don't see the movie as dark or scary in the least. I thought that this was indeed a realistic portrayal of what draws people to meddling with "real demons and angels". Crisis of faith. Loss of identity.
Joseph Solomon (Steve Oram) is the wizard who agrees to guide neophyte Sophia through the Abramelin rite. I must say, I like this goatish fuck. He's an alcoholic, has no time for bullshit, and his motive for pressing into the "architecture" of the Universe is to acquire knowledge. Typical wizard archetype. This too in reality draws a lot of people into magic, including myself. To know, to will, to dare...
Sophia procures the perfect house for the Abramelin rite - which was exactly the reason Crowley bought the Boleskine House. The difference is Sophia actually fucking carries through to the end of the rite. Crowley never had the discipline to complete it. Anyway, I could see a lot of Crowley and even myself in Mr. Solomon. When there was a thing to do he was totally focused on the thing to do. He had absolutely zero patience, and demanded total loyalty, which led to him abusing that power with Sophia. I must say, seeing emaciated women do titty scenes is not something I find pleasant. It was uncomfortable and not sexy in the least, which was of course by design. There is no movie not manipulative.
Not to go into too much detail with this, but Mr. Solomon is knocked out of the picture and Sophia must carry through with her ordeals. In fact, she cannot extract herself from them. This too is what I deem a realistic portrayal of magic. In for the penny, in for the pound.
Through these ordeals long denied truths emerge from the Shadow self. As Mr. Solomon said, everything in magic has consequence, including his sacrifice.
Sophia undergoes yubitsume in the underworld - that is, dead people cut her pinky off. Hecate's dog stands watch.
At last, Sophia's will is defeated upon her submersion into the underworld. In one desperate cry, she releases her will to the True Will, the Divine Will. And at this moment, the Holy Guardian Angel appears. By the time this happens the woman who was Sophia has been completely dissolved and those dispersed elements within her have been coagulated into an integrated whole. The True Self. Union with the HGA. Transcendence experienced, realized.
And so then, I would agree with my friend Joshua, that even though I didn't like the movie, and even though it's not following Abramelin word for word, nevertheless it is the truest portrayal of magic that I have seen on film.