Recently I finished reading Advanced Magical Arts by R. J. Stewart (see below for the review) and one of the questions I ended up asking is what defines advanced magic? As I read the book, what I took away from it wasn't necessarily what I'd consider to be advanced magic, but I recognized that the context of the material, i.e. how it would be used and who would use it would necessarily inform the perception of it being advanced magic. In other words, because the material is part of a specific magical tradition, for people in that tradition it would be considered advanced magic. However, out of that context the material wouldn't necessarily be advanced magic, and this made me consider that advanced magic is something which can be hard to define, because what one person considers advanced magic another person won't.
I posted an article on the literacy of magic, which I feel illustrates this issue, because a given literacy of magic is similarly hard to define, especially when you consider that different people from different traditions have varying ideas about how important magic is or isn't to their spiritual practices. So where then lies advanced magic and what makes advanced magic advanced? I think that part of what makes a given magical practice advanced has more to do with the practitioner than the techniques. What amount of time and practice has the person put into magic? How has that practice shaped him/her and his/her experience of the world?
Magic is a personal experience as much as its a spiritual force to be worked with, and I think that advanced magic is similar really. All the books, tools, artifacts etc., are not in and of themselves advanced magic. They just serve to provide insight on magic, but ultimately you are needed to experience whatever advanced magic is. You are the ultimate component and your work with magic is what makes it significant to your life. You could read my books, R.J.'s or any other author's book and what you'll see are collections of techniques and practices, but what makes any of it come to life is you, more so than anything else. It's good to remember that, because then you recognize the ultimate authority in your spiritual isn't some author or tool or deity. The ultimate authority is you and what you do with magic speaks more to its significance and the advancement of your spiritual path than any words I or anyone else could offer. At best, whatever influences your practice hopefully inspires you to continue developing your spiritual practice, but you will know you are an advanced magician when you can take hat you've learned and make it your own, while also developing your own practices.
Book Review: Advanced Magical Arts by R. J. Stewart
In this book the author shares a number of rituals and walks the reader through the mechanics of each ritual, as well as explaining the underlying process that informs the ritual. These rituals are specific to the magical tradition the author is part of, so what makes this an advanced book on magic has more to do with the tradition itself, and how the rituals in this book contribute to a person progressing through that tradition. Beyond that particular facet, the book doesn't necessarily lead to a more advanced understanding of magic in general. A lot of what the author shares can be applied across tradition, in terms of the mechanics, but you'll find similar instructions in those traditions. With that said this is a good book to have in your magical library if you are interested in western esotericism and in particular with utilizing magic for spiritual work.