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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Appalachian Conjure

Candle and the Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern RootWorkCandle and the Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern RootWork by Orion Foxwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Orion Foxwood is a magickian par excellence. Well versed in Traditional Witchcraft and finally his native Conjure practice from the Appalachian Mountains. He learned conjure growing up in the South. Most of this stuff was practical magic meant to take care of practical concerns. There is no initiations or religious holidays per se and most of whom you work with are spirits. Of course they believe in God, the angels and the Saints you are free to choose to work with your own deities.
Conjure magic is taken from three cultural sources as the south was a mishmash of different cultures . These cultures are the Africans brought over as slaves, Native American practices and European Magic.

Some important philosophical lesson were learned from this tome. First is the important aspects of maintaining a good relation with your own spirit . Many try to get good relationships with other spirits except their own. Know thyself! The next is that is you stepped in something you best clean it off . You cannot go ahead with dirt on your soul. Much like stepping in something real time you track it with you where ever you go. Got to clean off the dirt before you can go forward . Connecting with the ancestors is real big concept in the Conjure traditions. They are the ones will help you.

This book is chock full of philosophy and is loaded with techniques to help you get started with conjure. There is a discussing how to set up your three platform altar. The book has techniques on how to cleanse yourself and your working area. Included is how to contact Daddy Death at the graveyard or contacting the Dark Rider at the crossroads. There are several entities like the Dark Rider, Daddy Death and a few others.

Orion has included instructions on how to work with the Lady of the River to boost your power and get rid of negativity. You. Learn how to tap the root and make your own gri Gris bag. I definitely want to get his next book on conjure. Roll up your sleeves and get down to work. If you ever want to get more information you should check him out when he gives reading and workshops at the Greenman in North Holllywood.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Witches of Wales

The Witches Ways in the Welsh Borders: Ethnography of Contemporary and Historical Customs of Cunning Folk MagicThe Witches Ways in the Welsh Borders: Ethnography of Contemporary and Historical Customs of Cunning Folk Magic by Tamzin Powell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tamzin Powel is a local of the border area between England proper and Wales. In the spirit of others before her she has joined a community of witches in order to do a field study. This study is different because she is not an outsider but rather a practicing witch who lives in the area. The main areas in question are the Wye Valley and the Dean Forest. This given area is home to druids, Wiccans, Wicans and Cunning Folk.
The area has long history of folk magic and hereditary magic that is passed down from the generation. Often times from mother to daughter or grandmother to daughter. Of course men can learn as well from family members. Hereditary member often work alone joining groups only occasionally. These folks and cunning folk often uncross people or heal them. Wicans are different from Wiccans in that Wican believe that Wica is magical force that powers things. They usually channel in their rituals rather than relying on prewritten ones. Their magical operations are much simpler than the Wiccan ones. Wica goes back much further in time, although it goes through changes. Wicca founded by Gerald Gardner is a Johnny come lately. Constructed by Gerald Gardner from many sources while Wica relies on folklore. Both have tools.

Tamzin describes her initiation and her experiences in the coven with which she belong and there is even discussing the origins of Wica going back to the Dobruni tribe and a subtribe called Hwicce. Sounds a lot like Wica. I found it pleasing to finally learn the Lord and lady of the forest. They are Cernunnos and Diana. Sometimes Cernunnos is changed up with the Green Man and other names. Diana is at times called Abundia. The symbolism of the Oak King and the Holly King are discussed. During the ritual the two will fight. End of winter and beginning of spring is the era of the oak king while the winter months go to the Holly King. The Holly king represent Saturn. Saturnalia was the revolving point of the New Year. Red and white represented blood on the snow. Saturn was some sort of reaper.
Witches do use path workings. Some believe that the path working helps the witch enter the Green world or the other side. Some believe it just helps you meditate. It should be noted that different witches and cunning folk work with different deities. Some work with fairies, while others work with elementals. One cunning man work with the leigh lines and he was a former Buddhist monk.
The traditions of the practitioner are varied. Some are neo pagans and other are heritary or hedge witches.
The book is very informative in that it examines older tradition from a rural area where people still do practice the old ways. The work is very academic at times and the appendices, especially the second are just brain numbing. The rest of the book was awesome. This is one I would strongly suggest reading.


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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Way of the Mossad

Spies Against ArmageddonSpies Against Armageddon by Dan Raviv
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Going back to the pre-state days of the Hagganah the Jews of Israel have had an intelligence agency. After Israel became a state the intelligence branch of the Hagganah morphed into what is today three ore four agencies. The most infamous is the famed Mossad which spies on other countries. The Shin Bet is Israel’s version of the FBI. They spy on internal domestic enemies. There are two others. The first is Aman and they spy on foreign militaries , gathering secrets about the milititary and sometimes stealing weapon secrets . Lakam spies on the technological details of other countries and try to get it for Israel.

During Israel’s early years the state was run by the Labor or Israeli left. They did not trust the right wingers very much. That would change over the years with Yitzhak Shamir becoming head of the Mossad. The intelligence agencies often gained information by compromising or making an agent out of someone working for the enemy. They would either pay them or coerce them. The Mossad and other spy agencies have made their share of mistakes. Such mistakes would include getting caught spying on an ally or getting your agents caught using the passports of other nations. Those nations did not like that too much. Israel bungled an assassination attempt of aa Hamas operative in Jordan and this caused a real flap between the two nations.

The book recounts all the intelligence agencies operations from the states beginning all the way to the present. This includes some pretty major screw ups and some major victories. If you have followed up on Israel’s history then most of this will not be new to you. There are a few tidbits in the book that even surprised me. Perhaps that is what makes the book worth reading.

In the end you realize that whether you think Israel is good or bad we are all just humans willing too do nasty stuff in order to survive. If you are not up to date on Mossad history then I recommend this book.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

The Way of the CIA

The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine ServiceThe Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service by Henry A. Crumpton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book gives you an insiders view of how the CIA works. Starting off the author explains to the reader the ultimate value of intelligence. Without intelligence you can not win a war and if you are not winning wars then you cannot defend your country. The founding fathers knew the value of great intelligence and espionage.

Today’s policy makers have forgotten the value of good intelligence and espionage. The public does not understand the value,. Oft times the CIA has their budget cut or they are overly scrutinized for what they do. Their are constraints as to what they can do all based on the current politics .

Hank entered the service after three tries and he had no military experience. He had lots of travel experience and had gotten into several fights while abroad. He was lucky to get in.

After training on th farm he was stationed in Africa. Most agents there are very independently and kind of knowledgeable eccentric. Working in Africa he learns what it means to be a case manager and run contacts. He discusses how he vets and grooms people to get info about their government. He talks about the difference between handling a case and be a liaison with different government where in the share information.

Hanks biggest claim to fame was taking down Al Quaida. After Al Quaida bombed two US Embassies. Hank to work with the FBI on investigating Al Quaida and who bombed the Embassy. Hank would end up working for the FBI and he explains the different operating procedure between the two organizations. Later in his career he would lead the CIA against Al Quaida. Ultimately it was another unit the brought down Bin Laden.

The book will open your eyes to the flawed view of our politicians who underestimate the threat that Al Quaida posed. The CIA understood it and had they been listened to it might have been avoided. The Department of Defence is locked in a rigid mentality of state to state war. Now things are much different. If you want the truth about espionage this book is it.

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Friday, September 7, 2018

Stalking the Werewolf

Devil in the CountrysideDevil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are looking for the devil in these pages of historical fiction you won’t find him. What you will find is people acting on base instincts. After all it is people who make the worst monsters.

Set in Germany in the town of Bedburhg there is growing tension between to religious communities. Germany was beset by a civil war between the Catholics and the Lutherans . This civil war lasted from around 1866 to the 1880’s . It was a time when both communities were hounding each other and hurling accusation of satanism and the practice of witchcraft. Some were even accused of being a werewolf. This lead to persecution and unfair imprisonment.

Bed burg had been terrorized by a so called werewolf for decades. The murder of a local girl named Dorothea prompts an investigation. Hans, an investigator goes their to find the werewolf or the killer depending on who that might be. Upon finding the body our investigators question a local farmer named Achterberg about things. The investigation leads to him investigating several farming families and what uncovers is a very complicated web of intrigue

There are broken promises of marriage, false accusations and suspicions. The catholics run the country and it is a crime to be a Protestant. Many Protestant hide under the guise of being Catholic to avoid persecution. Fathers sell their daughters up for personal gain and political ambition. Clergy men engage in the worst of crimes and heinous behavior.

Then there is the mystery of who is the werewolf. The body count racks up. It is mostly Protestant who are disguised as Ca holiest who end up dead. Hans meets a hunter named George who helps kill a wolf and assisted in the investigation. In the end we do not really know who the werewolf really is or even if he exists. Read the end carefully though and I may give you a clue.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Summoning Jinn Made Simple

Jinn Magick: How to Bind the Jinn to do Your BiddingJinn Magick: How to Bind the Jinn to do Your Bidding by Baal Kadmon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book running at 66 pages is more like a pamphlet then a book. Being such as is it the book is a concise instruction guide on how to summon the Jinn and bind them to do your will. One thing I liked about this book is that it entreats the reader to treat the Jinn with care and to be courteous with them. The Jinn are many ways like us. They have a lifespan, although their’s is longer. They have free will and they have bodies. While humans live for maybe up to 100 years the Jinn may live up to thousands. They have bodies of smoke and fire while ours are made of clay. They live in their realm and we have ours although there are times that they intersect.
The Jinn used to be masters of this world. Like us they were very warlike and almost destroyed the planet much like we are doing today. Alah’s angels came in to clean house and isolate them on certain islands. After that mankind was allowed to take over. When Allah created mankind, they were made of clay. Allah had all his angels bow down to the man and everyone did except for Iblis, who was the king of the Jinn. Iblis was allowed to hang out in heaven with the angels and that was a big honor. But he lost that honor and has vowed to vex mankind until judgment day.
The Jinn have different religions as well. Some are Muslims while others are Christians or jews . A few might be pagan and others can be evil Sometimes humans and Jinn have gotten married and produced offspring. Jinn tend to live in abandoned areas, toilets and caves. Jinn have psychic powers and can move real fast. Sometimes Jinn are shape shifter and like to appear as a black dog or cat. There are different classes of Jinn. The first type is the Efrit. These first type are quite wise and are conniving and manipulative. These were Solomon’s Jinn.
The second type of Jinn is Marid or rebellious one. They are large with an imposing presence. They like ritual that involve bodies of water. Wishfulfillers. The third type of Jinn is a ghoul which means to seize. These guys are monsters and one would not wish to deal with them. The fourth type is a Vetala, these guys possess dead people and reanimate them. The last type is a Sila, these guys like us and are quite ready to help.
The Jinn are ruled over by 7 Jinn kings each one corresponding to a day of the week and each one is asked for a different thing. For Sunday it is Al-Mudhib, For Monday it is Murrah al Abayad al Harith, For Tuesday it is Abu Mihriz, For Wednesday it is Barquan Abu al-Adyab, For Thursday it is Shamhurish, For Friday it is Abu Nuh Maimun.

Alter normally consists of at the front a mirror, closer to the operant is a black and white candle one on each side. Then comes your incense and your crystal. For these ritual you do not need a whole of stuff. At the end there are instructions for releasing the Jinn.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Scourge of the Blibd God

The Shadow Crucible: The Blind GodThe Shadow Crucible: The Blind God by T.M. Lakomy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gripping story that grabs you and won’t let go until you are through with it. Taking place in Europe the story serves as a crossroads to various streams of spirituality. At he heart of the story is sort of a three way spiritual war between God, Samael and Lucifer. Each one vying for their own position of kingship.

A major pawn in all of this is Estrella or Tsura. She is of twilight people, gifted with special magic abilities, they also follow the old gods. Estrella is a countess who owns a family manor. Back when she was a little girl her family was killed at the same time a certain little girl was . Estrella took her place . Up until now the ruse worked.

In comes Mikhail, a Templar night from royal birth, who acts as a guide and protector for Tsura. Love can complicate things and it sets up a sort of triangle between Mikhail, Tsura and Antariel. Antariel is a fallen angel. In the midst of this war Everyone is after her and her abilities. The church is capturing and torturing the twilight people in order to obtain their gifts, the church has been taken over by Lucifer.

Tsura goes on many adventures to escape the clutches of these demons. Plenty of action and suspense. Story line could use some Improvement and the ending was a bit flat.

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Baba-Sali

Baba-Sali
Holy Morroccan Sage engaged in Prayer

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.