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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ritual and Cult at Ugarit

Ritual and Cult at Ugarit (Writings from the Ancient World) (Writings from the Ancient World)Ritual and Cult at Ugarit (Writings from the Ancient World) by Dennis Pardee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Some how I was not so jazzed about this book. It was scholarly and well written but it was just too dry. It would be great for the scholar and to get anything out of the book you need good background knowledge of Canaanite Mythology. The book is based on finding of Ugaritic religious text uncovered or at Ras Shamra. Contained in this book are Deity list, steps for how to do certain rites, drinking or Marzihu rites along with incantations and Historiolae.

One major problem I found with the book was that the texts were far from complete. In fact in certain of the texts major chunks were missing. This is no fault of the author who is just trying to relay the information as he receives it. Perhaps a possible remedy was to include some background or filler information in layman terms that would make for informative and interesting reading.

One learns that there are several cults in Ugaritic religion not just one central religion. This work focused on the cult of the royalty. The religious text tells on what days certain sacrifices should be made and to what gods and what days they should be made. The king is told to bathe where to begin and when his responsibility his ended. The text does not tell where the sacrifices happen and from where the animal sacrifices should come from. It does not say to who it goes to either. It seems that sacrifices to male gods were more frequent but that part of the animal could be eaten. When the fewer sacrifices were made the entire animal was burned or part of it was given to the water.

The deity lists show heavy Babylonian influence and even have Sumerian words in them. This could be from the Amorites who preceded then in ruler ship of the area . The Amorites also assimilated Babylonian culture quite readily. While certain religious components show Babylonian, Hurrian and Hittite influence the Ugaritic texts pertaining to divination shown marked difference from Babyonian characteristic and that of the neighbors. Be it known that deity names and language from surrounding cultures had definitely seeped in.

Incantations were mentioned especially in a defense against snake bits and scorpions who were thought to have been sent by sorcerers. Ugarit Magic was geared primarily for defense against sorcerers and the evil eye. The evil eye in Canaanite magic is seen as a separate entity apart from the sorcerer. There are also defenses against incantation, familiars of sorcerers and companions of sorcerers. Lastly there is a defense against male impotence which was also thought ton be cause by a sorcerers magic.

Over all an acceptable book that is geared mostly toward the scholarly. If I was a layman I would enhance my knowledge elsewhere.



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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

An Ogham Wood

An Ogham Wood
Cliff Seruntine, Avalonia Publications
March, 2011


Sweyn De Seud is a sad somewhat broken man with great reserves of inner strength. He will need those reserves of inner strength for the adventures and fate that lie inwait for him. For Sweyn the sea and his boat have always been a way to escape his problem and worries and find serenity. One fine day Sweyn decide to take the Starry Sea his sailboat on a ride that will get him lost. And lost he gets as a violent storm takes his boat off course and blows him to an island somewhere off the coast of Canada.

Throughout the story Sweyn is constantly experiencing flashbacks. In his dreams he is back together with his deceased wife, who used to make heavenly teas drawn from her esoteric knowledge of herbs. But Sweyn never knows where she obtained this knowledge from. In fact he knows little about her past. She came from an island that she strove to get away from and never talk about. She owned a cottage on this island near a city called Man of the Sea. The cottage is called Dundobh.

As fate would have it this is the island that his deceased wife Eilwen escaped from and left behind. Being shipwrecked in his wife's former home Sweyn finds himself thrust into the midst of a society seeped in the ways of the old world. Pagan holidays like Beltaine and Samhain are still practiced and celebrated. Herb lore , cheese making and ale making are a fine art. Sweyn , however will find out that his more than just a visitor. Marrying Eilwen made him an O'Shee. A special fate or geas awaits him.

The past comes alive in this book both for Swayn and the people of Man of the Sea. They were a group of people dedicated to the old ways in cooperation with the faeries moved from place to place until Manan the Celtic god of the sea lead them to the island. Dylan O'shee was their leader. Coppin who takes care of Dundobh and Oak Peg rule in the absence of an O'Shee they are also the advisers.

While on the island Sweyn must contemplate a future that can either lead the island to ruin or salvation. The people of Man of the Sea need a laird and lady. Can and will Sweyn rise to the challenge.

Both the island and Sweyn have a tortured past. Seeyn a burned out psychologist, who being a born healer has had to go against his grain when dealing and with and helping criminal elements. Criminal elements that impacted his life with Eilwen. He is also a son who took a different path from his father.

Eilwen's famiy past also has ghosts in the closet and not so pleasant secrets. These secrets impact the history of the island and it's future. The story was perfect it was exciting, riveting and it kept you glued. It was also long enough as well. The story is seeped in fairy lore and wisdom. For those who have a love of the old Celtic ways then this book is a must read. I hope to see more from this author.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not even Goth or Craft 101

Goth Craft: The Magickal Side of Dark CultureGoth Craft: The Magickal Side of Dark Culture by Raven Digitalis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I guess I will take the position as the odd man out. Raven has gotten well literally rave reviews from some pretty big people in the craft world. Such like would include Raven Grimassi, Lon Milo Dugquette, Aaron Leitch and Christopher Penczak. The book has gotten a lot of 5 star rating with a smattering of 1's , 2's and 3's. I will be another three. I have read book on the darker side of magic and the craft and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading such authors as Konstantinos, John Coughlin and a few others. THey gave me something that I could use. This book has nothing that a newcomer to the craft can use. If you are new to magick and witchcraft let me steer you in the direction of Donald Michael Kraig's "Modern Magic" or Raymond Buckland and Scott Cunningham, these authors will have something you can use. Really Goth Craft????

I found the beginning of the book rather interesting. I enjoyed reading about how the term Gothic came about. Anyone with a slight knowledge of history will know that it refers to Germanic cultural concepts. The Goths were Germanic. In later times Goth became associated with horror. I found reading about the different types of Goths to be very interesting and intriguing. But then is this magic or witchcraft. I found this book very suitable for a teenager who is contemplating on entering the craft or Goth scene. I like the fashion tips and the inside view on the philosophy of Goth. Maybe he should have written a book on just Goth.

There is talk about Vampyrism both sanguinary and psychic which is all good and well but if you have done your reading then this is just a candy coated review. Raven does talk about blood magic and how powerful it can be and there are a few instructions on witch bottle. But this book does not discuss Sabbats or Esbat or even a Gothic way of going about it. Who are some of the Dark Deities that a Goth who does not shy away from death embraces? Where are some rituals that can be used.

In a nutshell Raven should have written it as a guide to the Goth world. There are techniques on how to apply make up and how to dress. Great stuff for someone new to Goth. Great lesson on how to interact with people, including outsiders and fellow gothers.

I took nothing out of this book. There are great books that discuss the dark side of the craft. I have mentioned them above. Try working Ceremonial Magick or Goetics. The book gives plenty of lead for further research and there is a good over view for those wanting to look at different forms of magic. But to me the book is very basic.




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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Lunar Huntress


Artemis: Virgin Goddess of the Sun & Moon--A Comprehensive Guide to the Greek Goddess of the Hunt, Her Myths, Powers & Mysteries
Sorita D'Este, Avalonia (September 22, 2005)




Sorita d' Este has a knack for writing informative books about her subject and making it both enjoyable, easy to understand and read. I breezed through it yesterday morning and after having learned a lot about Artmenis I was still wanting more. Damn good book if you ask me. Then again all of Sorita's books are damn good.

Artemis is the virgin huntress who roams the night time hills in search of animals to hunt like stags, boars and fish. She is the the daughter of Zeus and the Titaness Leto. Her twin brother is Apollo, the sun god and the poet. Zeus, her father, is rather lusty and tends to father lots of children with goddesses, Titans and humans. Hera gets rather jealous. In a fit of jealously she sends out a mighty python to pursue Leto. She gets know rest until she arrives on the island of Delos which was set us by Zeuss. Artemis has an easy birth but Apollo's birth is rather difficult. So Artemis helps. Hence she is the Goddess of unmarried virgins, midwife of the gods and the moon goddess.

Artemis has no need for love she never wants to get married or have relation. Those who choose to follow her must remain virgins as well. That goes for the priests at her temples too. Artemis is always surrounded by nymphs who are shorter then her. The maiden that choose to follow her make an enticing target for mortals and men I guess they want a taste of the forbidden fruit. Two thing happen when the maiden are pursued. If the man is successful and achieves his goal either through rape or seduction, Artemis kills or banishes the deflowered nymph or maiden. If a follower is running from a man they can count on being turned into a spring, river or reed instrument. Artemis can be rather vindictive and vengeful as is Nike.

Upon being born one of the first assignments given to Apollo and Artemis is to slay the python who pursued Leto. They kill the python and Apollo gets the Python's old temple and prophecies are issued forth from their. Anyone who insults Artemis or any of her colleague can be sure to experience her wrath. King Agamenon boasted he could kill more animals than she could. His fleet of ship was held up from an invasion until he made amends. He also had to sacrifice his daughter because a pregnant animal was killed in his kingdom he had to sacrifice his daughter. She would later become a priestess and then steal one of her wooden statues. Perhaps most famous is her incident with Orion who was unlucky enough to view her bathing naked in stream. He was turned into a dear and had his own hounds set upon him. Other versions of the story have Apollo tricking her into shooting an arrow at him when he swims in the Ocean. Adonis the one who loved Aphrodite was killed for boasting against her as well. This would make Artemis an enemy Aphrodite.

Artemis like all the Greek deities had her share of friends and enemies. Most notable would be Aphrodite and on this I could go into more detail but I will let you read the book. She has a love hate relationship with Zeus's wife where in one time she saves Hera and in another two times she is defeated by Hera. She has alliances with Ares, Dionysus, Pan and Hekate. Once again if you want to find out more read the book. There are two other virgin goddesses , Hestia and Athena.

Her favorite animals are the bear, boar, dog and dear among other. You can hunt them but do not kill her dancing bear or one of the females will have to take it's place. The story at Sparta is heavy. Two spartan one time had a fight at one of her abandoned shrines and for a certain time after that live sacrifices were required then the sentence was lowered to whipping a boy prior to the onset of adulthood and smearing the altar with blood. This carried on until Roman times.

There is more to tell for sure but dear reader you must take that journey yourself. I just wish the book was a bit longer. Perhaps if there is ever a reprint she could throw in a s sample ritual . Sorita is awesome. There is a great bibliography in the back and everything is well footnoted

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wyrd Working




Wyrdworking
Alaric Albertssson, Llewyllyn
2011


Alaric Albertsson has written som pretty fascinating material on Nordic Lore more in particular Anglo -Saxon lore which is coming from the Germanic tribes that settled in England. His first volume "Travels Through the Middle Earth" dealt ith the lore. This volume explains the magical part.

The author starts his discussion of with defining the difference between magic and spirituality. Recongize that often times there is over lap between the two. Spirituality deals with making ciontact with the Gods and serving them. Magic was making reality conform with your will. Magic put you in the drivers seat.

In discussing magic the anatomy of the soul must be discussed. It is dvided into 9 parts. 1) The Lic: Physical body 2) THe Hyge: Consious thought. 3) Willa: Will power or determination 4) The Wod : Inspiration or your passion which drives your will. 5) The Mod : self identity or self awareness.6) The Maegan: Spiritual strength refers to one who we say has guts or bravery. 7)The Hama: the astral body or aura. 8. The Myne : The memory most needed to memoprize formulas and chants. 9) THe Fetch: is your guardian spirit.This can travel to other ares during seetthing or astral projection.

The Anglo Saxon has a variety of tool with which to work with. A Myse is a table or spread that the sorcerer works with. It is basically their working space. The Telga is a wand and unlike in Wicca you can pick a branch off the ground or break one off a tree. Leaving an offering is optional but there is no asking the tree. Very prctical if you ask me. The sorcerer also has a staff, mortar and pestle, The Seax (knife) a cauldron.

The sorcerer from anglo saxon times worked also with a variety of chemicals otr elements although their primary elements were fire and ice. They would use their own spittle, Urine and blood. Lead was used for cursing. There were three areas of magic. The first area was Runewita or rune craft, the second area was galdor or spoken charms, the last area was wort cunning or working with herbs.

The book deals excessively with runes and rune craft. Anglo Saxon used Furhtorc rune for their runecraft. This was develeoped specifically in England and it has 29 active symbol which are used and who's mysteries are known from the "Rune Poem) the other four have unknown meaning and are not actively used. THe anglo saxons used Runes primarily for runecraft and did not use them for divination like is done now adays. Yet the author tells how to make them and how to use them for diviniation. You can throw them down and read the clumps or cast out different ones. For draawing them out one at a time the author gives forward the option of using a 1 card spread which is like the daily advice. The three card spread is the present, past and future. Then their is the Ygdrasil spread. THe autor also over the Wiccan Runes which are thrown down and read into clumps.

Both Futhorc and Wiccan Runes can be used in spellcraft. Bind rune and fune combinations can be used to have certain goals materialize. Runes can be used in Talismans of permanance or in charms that have temporary effect. There are other ways of spell craftng as mentioned earlier there is galdor or rhymes. The phrase you make for yiour magical goal can rhynme or be doen by using alliteration. Narratives are also considered very effective. THe last form of magic is wort cunning. The author has a few recipes and uses for various herbs.

Contained there in are sections on love magic, monetary magic and health magic. The advice that he gives is down to earth and wise. THe final section talks about anglo saxon Druids in comparisn tio the witch. I never knew there was an Anglo-Saxon Druid. I thought they were Celtic. Needles to say the Anglo Saxon Druid had more status and education and worked for the king and the community.

this book get 4 stars out of five.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oak King

The Holly King puts on his crown of leaves and at an agreed signal, the brothers Oak and Holly interrupt the chanting with an argument:

Oak Lord:

"Holly King! You are old, your time has passed, your rule over the land is ended. Brother, give up your crown and your throne!"

Holly King:

"Never! Younger brother, you are usurper; you are young and green and untried. Take my crown if you can, but I will never give it up for you."

Oak Lord:

"Brother, I would that we do not fight, that we shed not our blood. Give up your crown, for now the new Sun has risen and it is rightfully mine."

Holly King:

"Brother, it saddens me that you should wish to take from me that which I hold. Never will I give it up for you. Care of the land can only belong to he who wins it by right of might and strength."

Oak Lord:

"That which you hold is no longer rightfully yours. Brother Holly, I challenge you to battle, and our spilt blood will be taken up by the land, which is in our care."

The Holly King removes his crown and hands it to the Priestess, who will hold it and the Oak crown for the duration of the battle, with the Holly King saying:

"Then take my crown if you dare, if you can! Let us see to whom the land belongs!"

Everyone else should be moving away a little during this exchange, so as to give the two combatants room. As the battle is being fought the others should start by cheering on the Holly King, but switch allegiance to the Oak King near the end of the battle.
Once the Oak King has won, the Priestess call him over. He kneels at her feet and she says:

"Once again Holly and Oak have fought, and as is rightful at Yule, Lord Oak has won. Lord Oak I crown you, King of the lightening days."

She places the Oak Crown on his head and says:

"Hail and Welcome to the Oak King!"

Everyone except Lord Holly repeats:

"Hail and Welcome to the Oak King!"

Lord Holly steps forward and says:

"Victor of this day you may be, but my time will come again, and you will kneel at my feet once again."

The Oak King replies:

"But for now, kneel before me Lord Holly, for this is my time."
Lord Holly kneels and says:

"Hail, the Oak King."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wisewoman of Cornwall




Village Witch
Cassandra Latham-Jones, Troy Books
2011


She is now the wise woman of St. Buryan a village in Cornwall England. Her life is stable and happy in the cottage where she lives and works. But life was not always so serene for the village wise woman. She has had her share of trials and tribulations.

One could question whether a wise woman and or witch is born a witch or a wise woman or made into one. Cassandra has not completely made up her mind just yet. Currently she feels it is a bit of both. To called by the spirits is no joy ride. Those called by the spirits of the old ones are tried with many challenges. Those who are called are ordinary human beings but there are no gifts that go unearned. There is darkness and pain and sickness but there is also a great degree of self knowledge and intimacy with the old one.

Cassandra was adopted to her family on Halloween. She got introduced to the craft on the Lammas. Her adoptive family was rather unkind where the only physical intimacy was over a parent’s knee if they were unhappy with the child. Cassandra felt unloved where anything she did was never good enough. Her adoptive father suffered from violent episodes. Cassandra was used to walking in nature and becoming familiar with the spirits that dwelt there. She also used to escape into the other world. Cassandra used psychic skills in order to survive.

She experimented with Christianity and Buddhism both of which did not appeal to her for a variety of reasons. She was institutionalized at least twice and had a horrific traffic accident. Her trials also included scoliosis. From beingh a nurse and going through occupational therapy Cassandra decided to become a village wise woman at the behest of a social worker.

St. Buryan is very tolerant and accepting. Cassandra gets most of her instruction from the sprits themselves. Not one one to believe in dogmatism , rigidity or dependence. Casandra insists that her patients heal themselves and she just assists them. She also belive that rituals and spells should not be followed by rote but should allow for change. She listens to her clients and uses the tarot to diagnose problems. She also tells how she fights for the preservation of monuments and pagan burial sights.

Cassandra Latham Jones is very compelling. Too bad her book was not longer. I finished all to quickly in one weekend. From her story any aspiring witch can glean lots of information cause you have a general idea of what to do. Which is the real magic. She does have spells and recipes at the end of the book. But Cassandra misses the old days of covens and learning from elder and spirits and laments in away the do it yourself book and workshop trend. I would love to learn magic from her directly. This book gets five out of five stars

Monday, December 5, 2011

Abir Yaacob volume 2


Abir Yaacob
Chanoch Regal, Yeshivat Abir Yaacoob: Ohr Meir Simcha
2007

This is the second volume of a two volume work. It starts off with the Baba Sali the most known of this rabbinical line in modern times.Israel Abuchatzira was born in Tafilat Morrocoo and ended up taking the family to Budniv when his brother was murdered by the rebel Muhamad Mualy. In Budniv the Baba Sali set himself up. He was married to his wife for 12 years before he was able to have any children. The child born to him andd his wife was Rabbi Meir. His young life was almost cut short save by a prayer by the Baba Sali's brother the "Ateret Roshenu" The Baba Sali was the head of the Jewish community for a good number of years and was widely respected by both Jew and non Jew alike. The Baba Sali was highly noted for his blessing. His favorite technique was to bless a bottle of water. Many people who were ill turned to him when the medical doctors were unable to find a cure. His cures were miraculous. The Jews of Tafilat were saddened when the Baba Sali chose to make his home in Eretz Yisrael. The Baba Sali madde his home in Ashdod and Jerusalem. He was offered several Rabbinical posts many of which he turned down. He was mightily depressed by the sorry state of Jewish observance in the "Jewish Homeland" This disturbed him so greatly that he ended up leaving Israel. The Baba Sali's fame grew very wide in Israel after he banished a demon from a synagogue. Going back to Morocco he went through France. THe Baba Sali had a habit of always immersing in the mikveh even when it was freezing cold. The Baba Sali would even role around in the snow. THe Baba Sali was known for all his fasting and hardly ate anything. He only got a half an hour of sleep a night. He was constantly studying Torah. Modesty was especially important to the Baba Sali he would wear a hood over his head so he would not be able to look upon anything forbidden. When the Baba Sali left Budniv he turned over the reigns of control to his son the Rebbi Meir. Even when the Baba Sali returned he did not reclaim his seat of power but left it for his some.

Rebbe Meir was a Torah genius at a very young age. He grew up in his father's shadow which was the way he liked. At a young age the Baba Sali brought him to be tested by the Rabbinical court. The court did not relish the idea if testing someone so young but Rebbi Meir passed with flying colors.He was giving the position of head rabi in the town of Midelt. The tzaddik had firm control of the town. He caused the Jews their to prosper and with his ruling he caused the divorce rate to decline. He hads a very sharp mind and could pin point torah facts anywhere in the scripture. He was alos known for his miracle and blessing and used much the same technique as his father did by blessing bottles of water. Both Rabbis believed strongly that men should grow beard. The Baba Sali himself could not grow a beard until he was forty years old. Something which vexed him greatly. Both seemed to hve a psychic connection with each other.

Eventually both father and son would end up in Israel. The Baba Sali settled in the town of Netivot while Reb Meir settled in Ashdod. The Baba Sali's son passed away shortly before the Baba Sali did.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fragile Eternity


Fragile Eternity
Melissa Marr, Harper Collins
2009

Aislin is now firmly established on the Summer throne of the court. Keenan her king wants to turn the relationship into a romantic relationship, only one problem Aislin's heart still belongs to Seth her human lover. The arrangement that Aislin made with Keenan seems to be unraveling. Seth is getting jealous and being with his human turned faery lover is ratehr dangerous as everytime they touch Seth gets burned. It eventually dawns on everyone that eventually Seth will die as will all of Aislin's human friends and family. Seth and Aislin want to e together forever.

On the outskirts of the story awaits Bannanach the faery of war and Soercha tghe high queen of fay. Sorchaq has the power to change everything. Bananach is itching for war. Seth gets around the faeries rather well. Some faries want Seth killed but seth is protected by Niall the king of the dark court.

Finally Bananach lead Seth to the world of fairy. It is a wonderful place where humans who dwell there doing nothing but engage in artistic projects to please their queen. Seth will make a deal with Sorcha that will solve his problem but with a price.

Reading this story I can neasily ascertain that Melissa Marr has researched her mythology and fairy lore rather well. The story reminded me of how Demeter was taken down to Hades and of how she was rescued and what the conditions were. Enjoyable read that gets four stars out of five stars.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Laws of Attraction




The Secret
Rhonda Byrne,Beyond Words
November 28, 2006

It has been known by a select few since ancient times, they were the ones in power and they wanted to stay in power. So they kept the secret to themselves. Through out the ages various people like Leonardo DaVinci, Henry Ford, Abraham Lincoln and Einstein have all known about the secret. Yet they kept it to themselves.

Rhonda Byrne was facing some life changing difficulties and thing were falling apart until she discovered the secret. The Secret is called the "Law of Attraction" kn own by a select few sionce ancient times. I have difficulty with that statement because I remember reading a booked called " Creative Visualization" by Shakti Gawain back when I was in high school. So the secret was out even back then. There was also the Silva Mind control method even then which basically said the same thing.
Aleister Crowley the famous occultist said this much himself "thought are things" Every time you think is a magical action. Crowley also taught that we are gods in the making. We are stars.

The law of attraction states that what you think or hold in your mind comes to fruition in your life. Think about success and you will achieve success. Think about finding 100 dollars lying on the floor you will find it. This in reality is true especially if you believe in the "Law of Attraction" The Law of Attraction is no secret and the concept has been taught or available to the masses for a while now. Yet "Creative Visualizion" came out years ago and people need to have their memory refreshed especially the younger generation that has never hear of the "Law of Attraction" They need this book.

To the experience metaphysician or spiritualist this may seem a shallow treatment that lacks depth. Yet my wife who has never heard of the "Law of Attraction" was sold on it. The infection spread and so I advise reading it. The book has input from some great people like John Assaraf, a multi millinaire tycoon, Beckwith and other great authors also have input. The book is filled with stories and anecdotes of people using the "Law of Attraction" and achieving success. There is great input and great resources for further learning. This has started a journey.

Now some of us are into our own religions, some are into Magick and want to achieve results. This book while it is not an end all, will jump start your process. It will teach you how to improve your prayer technique and or magical technique to get results. If you believe in God or Gods remember ask, believe and recieve. Know you will get what you prayed for. The God or Gods will anwer you. Always focus on the positive and never on the negative. Throw away negative beliefs as the world will conform to what you believe. Stop complaining because the universe will always say your wish is my command.

I reccomend for further study Shakti Gawain's "Creative Visualization", Richard Bachs " Illusions" the first book will really give you strong technique in programming your minde to work the laws of attraction. The book does have different technique than other books I read. So I gave it a four although to be honest the"Law of Attraction" is really not a secret. Sh do not tell anyone.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Urban Primative

Urban Primitive: Paganism in the Concrete JungleUrban Primitive: Paganism in the Concrete Jungle by Raven Kaldera

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Many Pagans are striving to for the spirit of getting back to nature. Within the Pagan community the wooded area of nature is extolled over the vices of the city. Yet if you really think about it most pagans live in the city. In ancient times there Pagan temples developed in big cities not out in forests. This book written by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Shcwartzstein is a survival guide for poor and down on their luck pagans who live in the city. Besides who says cities are so bad after all they are vibrant filled with energy and with lots of people it is very easy for a Pagan to go by unnoticed.



In many ways this book functions as a sort of beginners guide for Pagans and magical workers. The first thing a pagan wants to learn about is spells. There are two types of spells one type relies upon your own energy and the other type gets assistance from deity. To do an effective spell you first generate energy. 2)Move the energy to where you want it to go. 3) bounce back effects from the spell.



With spell crafting there are two modes of thinking. One is that rituals items are not needed save only their value in unlocking the power from the unconscious. Tools are just props and their power is dependent on what they mean to the user. The second view it that ritual items do give their energy towards a goal especially if you are more ceremonial.



The viewpoint in this book is on practicality and tend toward the first mode of thinking in both instances. the authors are really into relying on their own juice to power up a spell. You do not have the ingredients needed for a magical working heck use substitute which they give you enough of.

Cannot afford expensive ritual items have no fear substitute can be found in trash dumps and garage sales. Plastic cups can be used for a chalice, plastic knifes for an athame, cigarette buts to represent fire. Salt packets for earth elements and cheap incense for air. Cities and areas within the city have their own spirit. These spirits can become your ally and the authors advise leaving offering. Different and ancient deities can be reached at various places in the city. Go underground ora subway to reach Hades, a library for Athena, Hospitals for Hesceplius. For Aphrodite you can give gift with the expectation of nothing in return to working girls.



Contacting the element is rather unique for air obviously leaving offering or requests in the wind can be efective. But their are mini rituals for using the telephone and stereo. For fire turn on a candle or gas stove. For water there are lake and Oceans but also running faucet and land is about anywhere.



Contacting the dead is risky business and they do not like to be disturbed. Not all dead people are nice and most of our beloved who have passed on have reincarnated in to another life. It is ok to leave offering for the dead and maybe we can ask blood relative who we had a good relationship with for help.



The authors talk plenty about body modification and tattoes. I have a personal bias against that unless done in a cultural context so that rather turned me off. At least they address safety concerns



The authors have developed a paradigm which can be effective in accessing the subconsious if not the super natural. Their totem consists of city animals and what their attributes are. I tend to see myself as a raccoon. They also have a triple Goddess and triple god. Once again their own paradigm. I will let you read more to find out.



I found the book interesting and I did pull some useful suggestions from it. Their path may not be for every pagan. Many of us {Pagans are not into body mod and feel that we would rather deal with traditional deities and leave offering in our home. After all Gods can be present anywhere no? Perhaps what I am learning from all this is that the power to change or transform our lives comes from within.



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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Rites of Hekate


To know Hekate is to love Hekate. Scholars David Rankine and Sorita d'Este do an excelent job of informing us about who Hekate is. This awesome book tells us the origins of Hekate and inform's us about the rituals that were dedicated to Hekate. The book comes fully armed with a bibliography and references.

Hekate the liminal cthonian Goddess was extrmely popular in Greece. There were several temples dedicated to her and shrines dedicated to her in Temples dedicated to Demeter and Persephone. A common sacrifice tyo Hekate was dogs. Dogs were not usually sacrificed to Greek born deities but were regualarly sacrificed to deities who came from abroad. Where was Hekate from origninally? THe fact that she was often depicted with lions might hint that she came from the Middle East? In fact she did come from elsewhre. Her origins are Thracian mostly from the city of Caria. She was considered a Titan that was allowed to remain after Zeus and cohorts asserted their supremacy over the Titans. She is mentioned in several different texts and their are several different accounts of her parentage. The most commonly accepted is that her parents are Parceles and Arestia. Parceles is the Persian sun God and Aresstia is the star Goddess.

He daughters or priestesses are Circe and Medea. They have the power the to draw lunar power from the sky. They also had the ability to work with Herbs and cast spells. In addition to these there were several pertinent follower, Emphedocles was a well known follower who urged vegetarianism as did several of his other followers. He is famous for having informed the world about the elements of air, fire,water and land in the use of magic. He also believed himself to be immortal and he tried to prove this by jumping into a volcano. He was never seen again and al that was left was a bronze sandal.

Porphrys was another follower of Hekate who was of Phoenician descent. He alos advocated vegetarianism and he even changed or improvised some of the rituals and sacrifices for Hekate. He turned the worship away from the use of animals towards the use of incense atr certain times of the day.

Hekate was usually invi=oked in loves spell and binding spells. Many spells involving her were used to call upon spirtits who had met a violent death. It was believed thpower for magic was extremely powerful. Poppets were used as were herbs. The withces of THessaly were often known for their root work and their devotion to Hekate.

Hekate was linked to many Goddess and she also aborbed many Goddesses. She aborbed Brimo and Baubo as lunar Goddesses and many times she was summoned using these name. In certain other works she is linked to Isis, Erishkigal, Selene, Cybil and Diana just to name a few. When linked to another Goddess she is called upon using a hyphenated name like Isis-Hekate.

Hekate is ofent called a three faced or three headed goddess. THe head in many of the illustrations were animals heads such as a dogs head,goat heador a snakle head to name a few. Hekate is also unique in that she is named in charms that invoke Hebrew names for deity and also angels and king Solomon. This is indicative of a crossover between Greek and Jewish Magic.

THis is one incredible book one that I stongly advise getting.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Rebirth of Witchcraft


Doreen Valiente is a household name among the practitioners of witchcraft. She was first initiated into the craft by Gerald Gardner in the New Forrest Coven. She would later rewrite almost entirely Gardner's book of Shadows taking out many of the Crowleyisms and making the speech of the craft up to date.

Valiente has worked with such greats as Gardner, Robert Cockrane and Leslie Roberts. She gives an insiders view into the rebirth and history of the craft. Up until 1952 the practive of witchcraft was illegal and the most recent trial was the trial of Helen Duncan for the crime of contacting the dead. This landmark case caused a landslide in popular opinion which lead to the repeal of the witchcraft acts. For amny years withcraft had been an underground sort of thing mostly kept alive in family traditions or very secret coven.

Valiente examine the role of such works gnerated by such author's as Charles Leland, William Frazier and their books on withccraft and the sacrificial king. Charles Lelands works bring some light onto the practive of withc craft that they worshipped the Goddess Diana and met monthly for their rite, mostly skyclad.

Interest in the occult was also simmering. Aleister Crowley made a splash in the media calling himself the great beast while Dion Fortune was famous for starting "The Society of Inner Light" Helena Blavatzky also found "THe Theosophical Society.

Incontrast to what others may think Doreen had a rather positive impression of Gerald Gardner. She believes his claim that he was indoctrinated into a working coven of witches. Gardner did meke changes by incorparating words and phrases used by Aleister Crowley and Leland. He also incorparated some elements of Masonism and he brought in several elements from Ceremonial Magic. She reports that withces used to draw their circles with wands or wooden branches rather than with athames. Witches never really had a "Book of Shadow" hereditary kinowledge of witchcraft was passed down orally as most witches back in the day could neither read nor write. Grimoires were used by Ceremonial Magicians. In Doreen Valiente's view Withccraft in it's true form is most akin to Shamanism an is very simple.

Doreen left Gardner's group over some sharp differences of opinioon over publicity. Gerald Gardner was a very flamboyant person and this lead to a lot of negative press. Doren would next work with Robert Cochrane. He was very different from Gardner. He worked robes as opposed to skyclad. He also used hallucinogens in his work and often times came close to endangering some of his followers with these hallucinogens. Cochrane has a militant attitude that was very anti Gardnerian. Valiente found many instances of dishonesty and false claims in Cochrane's claims and parted company with him as well.

Doreen Valiente continues to describe her experience with the likes of the reporter Robert Leslie. Some one judging from her description was too good hearted and nice that people drained off of him. Trends in withcraft point to an awkening of female consiusness and a shaking off of male dominated things. Her mediations tell thaat practitioner can work individually and do not need the validation of the coven. She c=encourages practitioner to learn theoru expereience and meditation as opposed to book and other riged learning style.

For those into Witch Craft this book gives and insiders view that is rarely affored. Enjoy your foray into witchdom.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Money Magick

The Witch's Coin: Prosperity and Money MagickThe Witch's Coin: Prosperity and Money Magick by Christopher Penczak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is one of the best books on magic and money that I have ever read. It covers a lot of ground by starting off in the area of most importance, our consciousness. Many people suffer from poverty consciousness and the only remedy for that is to develop prosperity consciousness. Mr Penczak takes us on a literal journey that embraces exercises, meditations and embracing and changing our self image. I have copied lots of stuff from this book and put it in my book of shadows.

What is exactly is prosperity and what is abundance? are the two the same? According to the author definitely not. Prosperity is having everything that we want and need along with the ability to accomplish what we set out to do. Abundance means just having plenty of something. Abundance does not address fulfillment or satisfaction.

Often times our biggest obstacle to prosperity is our mindset. Is the world rich and abundant or is the world limited in resources. The magical mindset strives to be in balance between the two. Often times our ability to earn wealth is affected by our self image or how we see ourselves. If we have a negative image that means we are tapping into a negative archetype. Such negative archetypes include, the starving student, the artist, the miser or the gambler just to name a few. What we want to do is to adapt a more positive image of ourselves and tap into the energy of a more positive archetype.

To change our consciousness we need to work with our seven chakras. In the book there are descriptions of the chakras and accompanying exercises to go along with them. These include gratitude and goal lists, getting rid of stale energy, self image work etc.

After this section the author discusses Karma and true will. Basically we are provided with what we need to carry out or true will which is development of the soul. Being poverty stricken is not a sign of spirituality. You cannot be spiritual if you are starving on the street. To help with wealth the book also tells us that nothing comes for free that there is a price. If you want success there are no shortcuts you have to put in the work and the effort. If someone does you a favor you have to be prepared to return the favor.

To address the magical aspect of prosperity you must first clear away the negative this could range from rituals used to banish negativity and uncrossing rituals for someones hex. The book has a very thorough list of Deities, herbs and stones that will assist you on your path to prosperity. THE BOOK CONTAINS recipes and many freestyle rituals to help you.

The final part of the book talks about ethics of making money for your magical services. After all if you are providing a service like a doctor does should you not be paid for it. The author brings in wisdom from many different sources including Astrology and Feng Shui. Don't check this book out from the library...buy it.



View all my reviews

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Codex of Aleppo



Crown of Aleppo
Hayim Tawil and Bernard Scheider, The Jewish Publication Society
May 12, 2010

The Crown of Aleppo the codex written in the Jewish town of Tiberias in the 10th century ad is considered the oldest surviving codex in existence. What exactly is a codex? A codex is written in book form and it has the entire biblical text along with pronunciation marks and how to sing the words. Such a codex is needed because the Torah used in synagogue is written on parchment in scroll form with now vowel or cantillation guides. The Codex was written by Aaron ben Asher and Scholar Ben Buya. Ben Buya wrote the text straight while Aaron wrote the vowel and cantillation marks. It was an interesting collusion as both were from different schools in Tiberias. Aaron came from the Ben Asher school as his name would suggest. Ben Buya came form another school and he was their star pupil. Tiberias at the time was the Jewish capital of Israel because the Romans and later Byzantine Christians would not allow them to live in Jerusalem. It was the Muslims who later allowed Jews back into Jerusalem.

Later persecutions and invasions by Mongolians and others would prompt the codex to be removed from Tiberias to Jerusalem, Ashkelon and later Fostat, Egypt. In Egypt the Codex was used by Rambam in his mishneh Torah. Later when he died and his son died, the grandson David Maimonides would move to Aleppo. It is believed that he brought the codex with him. How the Codex got to Aleppo is a mystery. Some people believe thieves brought it. In any case the Codex was there after 1492 definitely and was held in what was called "Elijah's Cave" behind an iron door and kept in a safe. Very few people were allowed to look at it and even then under guard and it was never allowed to leave the cave.

The Jews and the Codex lived safely in ALEPPO for many years. Political events and the Zionist enterprise in the Middle East lead to a deterioration the the Jewish position. This culminated in riots where in the entire Jewish quarter of Aleppo was destroyed. It is believed that people in authority collaborated with the rioters and assisted them in the endeavor. Fire truck came with benzene instead of water. Benzene is like gasoline. In this event the codex was believed to have been destroyed.

An interesting note about human relations, most Jews in Aleppo were non zionist and in fact many were anti Zionist. Why the Jews of Aleppo should suffer because of the Zionists is beyond me as they had nothing to do with it. Another interesting factor is that many Muslim neighbors risked their lives defending Jews or hiding Jews in order to protect them from the rioters. That speaks of a very noble character. Nazi thought and ideology was brought by a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, who wanted an Arab nationalism inclusive of Christians and Muslims but not Jews. This man brought over the antisemitic teachings and brown shirts.

Who and how the codex was speared total destruction is another mystery that has not been solved. There are seven different stories, however a man named Faham is central to all of them. He was also the one who brought the codex to Israel after 1957. After it's return to Israel where it is now housed in the "Shrine of the Book" More mystery and controversy were to follow. Most of the Aleppo community had been relocated to Israel at this point. Faham was told by Rabbi Tawil to bring the Codex to Israel and give it to someone who would properly care for it. It was given to Yitzhack Ben Tzvi. Members of the Aleppo community in Israel wanted it in their possession. Battle with the Bet Din raged.

Several pages were also missing. No one knows what happened. The codex was not damaged by fire and the pages were not carelessly ripped out as thieves of non Jews would do. It is believed for various reason members of the Aleppo Jewish community took them. Today the codex is housed in Jerusalem.

For a short book this one is really packed with great information. The authors give a great historical background to event that occur surrounding the codex. The author's also tell in detail the effort of the Jewish agency to remove with permission of the Aleppo community the codex to the safety of Jerusalem. Their arguments fell on deaf ears.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Walking the Tides


Walking the Tides
Nigel Pearson, Capall Bann
April 8,2009


If you are looking for a great book on the seasonal practices of natural crafter and traditional British Witchcraft then this book is for your. Author Nigel Pearson firmly believes in following the natural cycles of the year without using the crutch of the calendar. For each tide there is a corresponding season. The year starts off in November with the first cycle of winter. February starts the spring cycle, May the summer cycle and August the fall cycle. For each tide or cycle there are several sections. There are sections that tell about the star constellations that are visible along with the connecting mythology for each. There are great sections on which plants or herbs are active. Contained in this section is how to harvest them, magical uses and even medicinal uses. The author does caution the reader about which ones are poisonous and which ones are sacred to the faery folk. Ones that are sacred to the faery folk are best not messed with with. The fae are not too fond of the human beings encroaching in on their world. Mr. Pearson also includes seasonal dishes that sound delicious. Something I would like to try. Other sections include rituals to be done in the home and which animals are out and about at this time. This book is loaded with information yet the author makes it so interesting that it breezes through like a quick read of lighter reading. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and finished it in less then a week. This is a book that I will defintley reread and consult probably on a monthly basis so I can gather more information to keep in sync with the worlds energies.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Daughters For Life


I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity
Izzeldin Abuelaish, Walker & Company; 1 edition
(January 4, 2011)

During the Gaza siege Shlomi Eldar a news caster on Israeli television interviewed a fertility expert from Gaza. Live and on air the viewer had the window of opportunity to see and experience Palestinian pain. Live and on the air over a cell phone a doctor from Gaza recounted how an Israeli tank fired a shell that smashed through the wall of this doctor's house killing his three daughters and niece. Shlomi Eldar could not hang up the fun and excused himself from the newscast. Backstage he contacted the Israeli Defense Forces to get help for the his friend the doctor. The video is shown a over youtube.

Who was this doctor Abuelish that his home should be shelled by an Israeli tank? Was he a wanted Hamas terrorist? A Fatah soldier? Far from it he was a peace loving fertility doctor who treated both Israeli and Palestinian patients with equal care and professionalism. His Israeli colleagues spoke highly of him and admired his dedication to his profession and patients. Dr. Abuelish believed in peace, love, brotherhood and humanity. He believes in a two state solution and in equal honor and respect for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Izzeldin Abuelish was born and raised in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza. His family voluntarily left their native village in the Negev and settled in the Gaza strip. His father met his second wife on the way and divorced his first wife but left her well provided for. Izzeldin worked selling eggs and other good in order to make money for his family to survive. Before the first intifada broke out he held jobs working on Israeli Moshavs and farms building Chicken coops. It was while working in Israel that he formed relationships with Israelis and he found out they were not the monsters he had always believed they were.

While growing up his mother Dalal forced him to study and take his studies carefully. She was rather forceful about it and to this day the good doctor is greatful. Education was the key to escaping poverty. Dr. Izzeldin travelled abroad and received degrees both in Israel and abroad. It is through the medical profession that he sought to build bridges between Israeli Jews and PALESTINIANS.

Life in Gaza has always been a struggle especially after the second intifada. Dr. Abuelish describes his experience crossing over Israeli checkpoints and the degrading experience that many Palestinians receive at the hands of Israeli soldiers. Thaks to check points and searches journeys that should be not more than a half an hour end up taking half the day. Modern day life in Gaza is a prison with Egypt shut completely off and Israeli war ships monitoring the water a mile and a half off the coast nothing gets in or out without Israeli approval. Often times food and vital medicine is blocked and the only way to get this material is though smugglers tunnels which are routinely blocked or bombed. Trying to travel around is difficult for Palestinians and that is an understatement. Life in Gaza is one of deprivation. There is rubble and destroyed building everywhere. Open sewers flow through the streets and people are packed in quarters like sardines.

Izzeldin Abuelish was dedicated to peace before his daughters and niece perished in the attack and he remains dedicated to peace. His daughters attended peace camps in the US making friends with other Israeli teenager. The experience was profound, both Israelis and Palestinians learned to over come their trust issues and see the other as humans just like they are.

Dr. Abuelish has since formed an organization called "Daughters for Life" The organization is dedicated towards peace and bettering he life of Palestinians. I give this book five stars. Well written with great attention given to details. Dr. Abuelsih looks with a critical eye at both sides and objectively sees the flaws and good points within them both. He is truly a worker for peace.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ash, Birch and Willow

Old World Witchcraft: Ancient Ways for Modern Days

by RAVEN GRIMASSI, WEISER BOOKS

10/01/2011



Meditate for a few moments on the image of the witch. Tell me what do you think? Chances are it is one of two images, an old hag doing evil spells or a young pretty woman dedicated to the Goddess doing benificial spells with the blief of harm ye none. The Old Witch was nothing like that at all. Noted author Raven Grimassi for the first part of this book goes thorugh ancient historical text dating all the way to Greco-Roman Times to give us an accurate as possible mental picture of the ancient witch. Tracing a definition from the Greek work pharmokote which meant worker of plants. THe witch was someone who worked with the numen or life force of plants for various aims. THe opld withc was not bound by the three fold law or harm ye none creed. They could do good just as well as malevolent. It was not until the medievil times that the image of the witch became tarnished by the Christian priests eager for an enemy and to convert the population. Witches never called upon or worked with demons. In addition to calling on the spirit of plants they also called upon rather commonly on Goddesses such as Hekate, Diana and Prosperina. There is no direct mention of a male God. Witches also called upon stars adn planets for aid as well.




The second part of the book focuses on a new paradigm that is based on Ancient principle. From my observations it is a practical paradigm that seems to be informed from Traditional British Witchcraft in part. There is some Wiccan practices and concepts brought into the paradigm. THe God is called the o"One of the 'Deep Forest' and the Goddess is called she of the rounded white. THe tools employed are besom knifes, wands, cauldron, chalice and mortar and pestle. In the grimouire section there are rituals, spells and instruction on how to connect to the shadow and other realms. THe paradigm is called 'Ash, Birch,Willow". It is practical and useable.





Over all excellent book. Some of the rituals I am uncomfortable with as they require pricking the finger and using your own blood. That is my personal preference. Also in modern times it is difficult to find a crossroads or even do a ritual publicly at the crossroad. Later on the author does give you an alternative to finding a crossroad. Another ritual calls for bringing dirt from the crossroad and having it under your pillow for three night in a sack of course. My question is of hygiene. How safe is the dirt. The book could use a few more picture and illustrations especially of the stang and the staff for the Goddess. It give this book 4 stars out of five. Buy it as this one book you will definitely use

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Radiant Shadows




Radiant Shadows
Melissa Marr, Har[per Collins
February, 2011

Ani is half faery and half mortal daughter of Gabriel leader of the hunt's wolf pack. Her mother was supposedly killed when she was young leaving her a survivor along with her brother rabbit, and sister Tisha. As of late she has been living with Gabriel's hound who are not allowed to fall in love with her unless they can beat Gabriel in battle. Ani is going through changes, her faery blood is over taking her mortal blood. She feeds off of emotions like most of the faeries of the dark court do. But she also feeds off of skin contact. She get's energy from it.

Devlin is a product of Sorcha queen of the high court and Bananach queen of the Chaos court. He has both of their blood lines running through his veins. His past is connected with Ani's. He spared her life and kept it from Sorcha his sister/ mother. Devlin is also breaking out on his own and has a unique destiny that he will share with Ani.

Banach wants Ani for her unique blood. It can make the faeries more powerful. Devlin is sworn out of desire to defend Ani. The ending is pleasant and surprising. The wall between the fae and mortal is re established. Balance is restored as Devlin and Ani fiond their place.

This book is real good. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it not only for the excellent story but also for hints of mythology that shine through the cracks. THis author has done her research. Great book for adult, kids and faery lovers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fight Racism and Antisemitism Tooth and Nail

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION AND PASS THIS ON TO YOUR LISTS.

 

Anti-Semitic website

A website named "jewwatch" is now available on Google.  With 500,000 signatures we can have it removed. Its contents are disgraceful and should be taken extremely seriously:  I opened it and was sick.

 

http://www.jewwatch.com

 

Please go to

 

http://www.petitiononline.com/rjw23

and sign the petition NOW

 

If we each do nothing to make a difference, then the world will never change.

 

MANY THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ THIS AND PLEASE FORWARD THIS ON TO ALL YOUR CONTACTS.

 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Sages of Morocco


Abir Yaacov is a book that cover the lives of all the saintly patriarch of the Abuchatzira clan. The most noted patriarch of this Jewish Dynasty was Baba Sali who lived out his days in Netivot, Israel which is close to Beersheva. The family which hails from Tafilat Morocco had their roots in Jerusalem. The father of the dynasty Rabbi Shmuel Hatizira is the one who moved his family to Damascus Syria. He was well noted for his miracles. He could make a boat cruise across the mediterannean in a couple of hour. He was known for taking his magic carpet and gliding along side a boat. When he arrived in Damascus he would confront two sorceresses. One trapped him for a while and forced him to make carpet and another would way lay morners at a funeral.

Eventually the family moved to Morocco. The head of the family who was in Morocco helped a Jewish women divorce her husband. Later on the wife and the head of the family had a dream where the head of the family was told to take her as a second wife. From this second wife was born Yaacov Abuchatizira , better known as the Abir Yaacov" He would be the Saint of his generation. His miracles would revive the dead, heal the sick and save the Jewish people from calamity. He built his Yeshiva "Abir Yaacov" His miracle would continuen even after his death when enroute to the Holy Land he passed away and was buried in Diamanhor Egypt. To this day his gravesite is a pilgrimage for Jews and non Jews alike.

He left behind him four sons. R. Masud, R Aharon, R Yisthak and R. Avraham. Rebbe Massud would carry on leader ship of the dynasty while, Rebbe Aharon made sure that Abir Yakov's books were getting published. Rebbe Yitzhak was a heavy drinker but it helped him study torah. He could also command natural elements. Reb Avraham who paeed away at 52 was a rather reclusive doing many tikkunim.

After Reb Massud passed on. The crown of the dynasty fell in the quiet Reb David the Baba Sali's older brother. After his murder by a mudererous rebel the Baba Sali took over.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Magical Beginnings of Wicca

Wicca Magical Beginnings : A study of the historical origins of the magical rituals, practices and beliefs of modern Pagan Witchcraft.Wicca Magical Beginnings : A study of the historical origins of the magical rituals, practices and beliefs of modern Pagan Witchcraft. by Sorita D'este

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Do you want to get down to the roots of Wicca and understand the magic behind behind the religion that Gerald Gardner introduced/ invented in the early 1950's. If the answer is yes then this awesome over view is for you. Since the emergence of what is what is called "Wicca" in the 1950's there has been much controversy as to whether Gerald Gardner invented this religion or was initiated into it. The book covers the magical history of all the practices contained in Wicca, offering a different approach then Ronald Hutton who gives over a straight history of development.

Practice by practice the author's Sorita d'Este and David Rankine give the most recent history of each idea and then go back to it's most ancient historical practice. Starting with the emergence of Wicca the authors state the controversy of Wicca's beginning and then give you there hypothesis which sound rather agreeable. Gerald Gardner was initiated into a coven that practiced witch craft but when he released it to the public he added a whole bunch of stuff. Most of the material he added into his religion derived from the works of Aleister Crowley, Charles Leland,Key of Solomon and Frazier's Golden Bough. While many practices and chants were derived from these Ceremonial Magic sources.They also had antecedent many stretching back to Ancient Egypt and Babylonia.

The religion of Wicca may seem dubious for a variety of reasons. One is that Gerald Gardner himself made many false statements. The reasoning behind these false statements could be that Gerald Gardner was being unethical in trying to promote Witchcraft or was he merely protecting oath bound material.

What is the meaning behind Wicca? When was it used by Gardner? In fact he himself may never have used Wicca as a name for his religion, especially in his earlier works. The word Wicca goes back many centuries and the term "Wica" actually did mean witch or one who could bend reality. The meaning though was not positive as many societies even one that predated Christianity like the Norse and the Greeks had negative views of witches. Wiches were workers of evil. Something which Wiccans were not. big questions as to why he used the term witchcraft which carried such a negative connotation. If they had used a different term might Wicca have been more positively viewed. The practices of Wicca are more closely aligned to the practitioners in the Ancient Temple then they were to witches.

Charles Leland's book on Aradia was thought by many to be dubious and non scholarly. However, written works going back to the 14-15th century tell of witches dancing naked under the moon worshiping Diana at the shores of lake Nehme. In interesting side fact was that Diana was sometimes referred to as the "Queen of Heaven" and association given to many female deities from the Middle East most notable Ashtoret who was a Canaanite/Phoenician Goddess. Aradia was the name of a city founded by the Phoenicians in Tuscany before the Etruscans became a society. The influence can be most profound.

The idea of a mother Goddess who is all goddesses is nothing new. In Crowley's works there is Nuit the mother Goddess who came from Egyptians mythology. There is also Ashera from the Canaanite pantheon. The Shechina is god's wife in Judaism as Sophia is the Goddess of wisdom. In a work called the "Golden Ass" Isis is mentioned as the mother goddess of all. Then comes the question of a horned god. Most know of him as Cernunnos "The Horned One" the idea of a horned god was prevalent in many ancient cultures. Amon ra being a great example. In India there was a goddess and a horned god who died for part of the year and was reborn. Much like Cernunnos. In many Wiccan practices Cernunnos a Celtic deity is a paramour of Aradia, an Italian Deity. One wonders how this is possible. Yet archaeological evidence shows that Cernunnos had shrines in Italy.

This book is a profound addition to any collection on magical books. The reader will be blessed with an informative and very interesting read. The book is so interesting and written in reader lay person friendly manner that one will breeze through and be glad for the experience wishing it could go on longer. 5 stars out of five stars.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

An Investigation into Irish Witchcraft


I debated at first as to whether to give this book a three star or a four star review. I voted a four star and I can tell you why. The first chapter cuts through a lot of BS and myth. She tells you clear cut that there is a difference between being a Wiccan and Witch . There is also a difference between being a Pagan and a witch. Lot's of people call themselves Wiccans or eclectic Wiccans even when they practice is pulled to together from many different books and really does not even remotely resemble Wicca.

The Next dose of common sense is the importance of learning about the Irish culture and traveling to Ireland if you want to practice Irish Witchcraft. If you want to communicate with the Irish Gods and Goddesses then learn Irish or at least make the effort. They will appreciate you for it. The author advocates moving to Ireland at least for a bit. I must say that in this respect I agree with her wholeheartedly. If you want to practice this system then immerse yourself.

She goes through a list of all the Gods and and Goddesses and tells us what areas of specialty they are involved in. Dgda is a god of fertility. Morgana is a goddess of war and magic. It is important to study and know these deities if we want to work with them. She gives good sources at the end of the book for further research. Something I advise checking out.

The Section on faeries is heft and informative. They are not like Tinker bell at all and some could be rather vicious. treat them with respect and have your courage ready to over come any fear. Faeries do not like people who grovel. She discusses where faeries live and a few stories connected to faeries and how they tutored some humans in magic. Lora does a good job separating them from spirits of the trees, genus loci and the Sidhe. She gives some techniques on how to connect with the spirits of the trees.

I liked her personal anecdote of going into Morgana's cave. There is definitely a line between a true spiritual seeker and a tourist who comes to visit a faery site and pretends to get something out of it.Her encounter with Morgana was frightening and it is no light thing to dedicate oneself to a deity.

While the book is very common sensical I got the feeling that the book had a lot of Wiccan input regardless. I mean what exactly is Irish Witchcraft. The author states that her coven which used to be Wiccan is now more eclectic pulling from different sources such as Crowley's OTO. She says in the beginning of her book that she will not spoon feed the reader or give over any spells. I have nothing solid on which to base Irish witch craft on. No model technique. Do Irish Witches draw circles or is that up to the individual practitioner. I have nothing against freestyle magicians or sorcery whcih is really what the book seems to be save that she gave it the title "Irish Witchcraft" Every sort of witch craft and magical system has a set of techniques. We need sample so we can create our own in the spirit of Irish witchcraft.

That being said the author's Wiccan influence comes in strong and steady. Nothing wrong with that just label it as what it is. Wicca with an Irish twist. The initiation and degree system is Wiccan with the exception that they use Irish Terms. The book give a good over view for the non Irish into Irish culture which is definitely of value. The book is a starting point and definitely good for the beginner. For the more advanced they may wish to go a little deeper.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Divine Shekina


the Cosmic Shekina
Sorita d'Este & David Rankine
Avalonia Publishing, 2012

The divine feminine, it is contained albeit on a quiet level in all three of the major monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, although they are male dominated. In the kabbalistic works of Jewish mysticism this is commonly known as the Shekina, or the divine presence. In gnostic Christianity it is known as Sophia, considered the Goddess of Wisdom. In Islam the Shekina is called Sakina.

THe book traces the very beginning of the feminine divine from the early pagan goddesses of the Middle East all the way to the development of Sophia the Wisdom Goddess. The Hebrew God had a wife. Jewish theology developed from strains of influence stemming from surrounding cultures like the Egyptians, Sumerians and Canaanites. In the Canaanite Pantheon, El , the head Canaanite God had a wife Ashera. In the Hebrew bible God's wife was also called , Ashera.

Ashera would later give way to the Wisdom Goddess. The wisdom Goddess drew from such influences as Isis, Inanna, Maat and Ashera. They were Goddesses who taught mankind wisdom. The Wisdom Goddess would later transform into the Shekhina. The Shekhina drew primarily from the Near Eastern Wisdom Goddess. Many symbol associated with the Shekina were the dove, light, Trees, incense smoke and the burning bush. The Shekina is mentioned several times in Kabbalistic literature. By the way the authors make excellent references to the Kabbalistic literature and Near Eastern Sources.

An examinatination of Jewish sources show that there are two Shekinas, an earthly and a heavenly one. The heavenly Shekina is wrapped around the male counterpart like a blanket of fire. The Earthly Shekina hovers in the earth and is the planets soul. It is the earhtly Shekina that is in exile with the Israelites.

Sophia, the Christian divine prescence drew heavily from Greek, Jewish and other Christian souces in her creation. There was a concept of Gaia ingreek theology that was likened to the soul of the world. The Sophia was often equated with the Holy Spirit, The Virgin Mary and sometimes even Jesus himself.

The divine feminine is considered the mother of angels and planetary forces. The Shekina's role in creation is amply explained in the final part of the book. This final part gives an excellent over view on Kabbalitic mytholgy. This is the first book I have read by Soritia d'Este and David Rankine and I must tell you that I am thoroughly blown away by this book. It is excellent and understandable. I defeinitely plan on reading mkre book by this team of scholars.

The book has excellent sources in their bibliography for further research.. Everything is well documented. They make comparison to other Goddesses and give great background and periphery information. This book get five stars out of five stars.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Where's Merlin Now? He's Not There!

The Return of Merlin
Deepak Chopra, Harmony Books
March 1996





I normally love Arthurian fantasy and anything relating to the Celts and the Druids. This was sort of boring. Perhaps the reason behind the boredom was that the author was not focusing on storytelling but was rather using his story as a vehicle to transmit spiritual truths. The truths them self are not bad and it is most likely something we should listen to. According to the wizards way there is no reality and what we see is an illusion. Indeed that is correct but the salt shaker in front of me is still there no matter if it is composed of energy or a bunch of microscopic particle vibrating together at a slow rate. To look at reality is to see your reflection as reality is nothing but a mirror of our expectations. Evil is born from us when we stuff our negative emotions into the subconscious, this is how demons are born. To fight the evil you must realize that the source of evil is yourself. Nice truths!

Another draw back is that the characters Author, Lancelot, Mordred and company do not actually make but small appearances and when they do it is not in full glory. Some manage to come back only in spectral form. Merlin never really makes a formal appearance. Kind of a drag. The ending seems to be big deal do we see people living happily ever after? Well not really and only in the case of Tommy and Sis. What happens after that? a little conclusion about what happens please. Happily ever after.

I realize that Deepak Chopra is a specialist in Indian Spirituality and that many Celtic ideas may originate there, yet there is not enough cultural reference to Welsh and Celtic cultural and spiritual ethos. I would have liked to have seen more of that in the book. By the way this is a short coming of a good many books.

The story starts out with the discovery of a body lying by the side of a road in a ditch. The police arrive on the scene trying to figure out who it belongs to. When the body is placed in the ambulance it disappears. This leads to an investigation and the eventual suspension of Aurthur McCallum from the force. Tommy and Sis two orphans happen upon it as well. When they are sent back to school by Arthur one of the boys finds a dragon fly. The dragon fly is Merlin's apprentice who survive Mordered's take over of Camelot. The old man was not Merlin but rather Merlin using the body of Derek Rhees. The boys and Derek go on an adventure in the forest traveling through time, dodging Mordered and altering the past. Melchior is rescued by crows and then comes into Arthur's aunt's home only to go on an adventure with her to the court of miracles. The story telling is not to bad! but I would expect Merlin to at least return and the Aurthur's return to have more an impact.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

True Path of the Ninja


True Path of the Ninja
Antony Cummins and Yoshie Minami, Tuttle Publishing
2011


In the 17th century Natori a memeber of one of Japans elite Ninja clans wrote a training manual for Ninjas or Shinobis. The manual in Japanese was called Shoninki. Ninpo translates to way of the ninja and the ninja's way is not just martial arts and assassinations. Although, Shinobi warriors did engage in assassinations there is much more to Ninpo.

The way of the Ninja is all encompassing. Ninja's could be employed by there pay master or war lord to steal something from an enemy or to spy on an enemy and get information. To get to where they needed to go they would often times employ disguises looking like monks, priests, laborers etc to get through checkpoints and not be noticed.

A shinobi warrior could creep into a household but just as often they go in through the front door with an invitation. Pretending to be sick and asking for help was one way to penetrate an enemies defenses and get information. Shinobi warriors knew how to shmooze and butter people up. Regular townsmen were great souces of information as were servants working for the warlord who was targeted.

Shinobi warriors often times had to spend nights out doors. They learned survival skills and had pack with them so they could hunt and create fire to warm themselves. The book goes beyond the physical attribute of training and delves into sorcery and the psychology. For the ninja enthusiast this book makes a great addition written by a man who is not oly a master himself in Ninjutsu but also a samurai.

Being a Ninja is not so romantic as the movies and media make them to appear. The author disabuses the reader of this notion that Ninjas have supernatural skills. Their training was hard and Ninjas were first and foremost very independent workers who did better working alon then they did in pairs or groups.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fairy Folklore


Fairy Folk
Anna Franklin, Lear Books
June 16,2011

Ever question yourself as to what faeries look like? Most of you think of Tinkerbell but in reality many of them do not have wings and most of them look like dwarves and can be considered very unattractive. Most of the fey are size of young children which is about three feet. females are dressed in green while the men are dressed in red. There are several groups of faeries, aristocracy faeries appear in groups while regular faeries come individually. Aristocratic faeries tend to be larger and human size and tened to be more attractive.

Not everybody is able to see faeries. It is said that those born with the second sight can perceive faeries. To get this second sight usually it is given as a gift to the human by a faery. Of course not all of those with the second sight get it as a gift. If you are part faery then you will have second sight. People who are born in the night time tend to have it also. Those not having sometimes make ointments that help them see. However, it is best not to let the faeries know that you see them they are not to nice about it.

It is said that faeries live in faery mound and old ruins. Some say they even live in burial mounds. It is thought then that they live under ground in continuous day light.Some faeries live in trees and others like mermaid and selkies live in the water. Different faerie kingdoms have different rules about letting humans in. Some do it on the condition that nothing is taken while others let humans in with no conditions. Most will not let humans in.

Faeries seem to like breadhoney and milk.Other people say they sip nectar from flowers. Faeries also take toradh or substance from food but leave behind it's physical form. When visiting the land of the fey do not eat the food. To eat their food means that you can never return to the land of the living. Another opinion suggests that one will pine away thinking of the faery land. Sometimes faeries like to play tricks on people and what appears to be delicious food turns out to be nothing but leave or poison.

Elf arrow or dart can cause illness and or death. If you capture an elf bolt you can use it to ward off faery illness. Farm animals could be shot by elf bolts as well. Ussually a wise woman was called in to help with faery illness. Faeries get mad when the proper tithe is not left. their retaliation could be milking the cows dry, killing farm animals, stealing them and sucking the spiritual substance dry from crops and other foods.

For the money this book is an excellent buy. You can buy the amazon kindle for about 99 cents. I learned a few new things about faeries as well. The chapter on faery plants is exhaustive and thorough. There are no spells in this book but just general over all knowledge. In one chapter there are strategies for combating faery glamour and tricks. Items like iron, horse shoes and flax seeds can keep bad faeries out.

Changeling is another thing to watch out for. Faeries will take a child and replace the human with one of their own or a wooden replica. Magic makes you think it is real. A series of brutal test can determine if the baby is a faerie changleing. Once discovered the baby will flee and the original child will bee returned.

Let it be known that faeries do enjoy marrying humans and have been known to kidnap brides. They keep the bride for 7 years in which time she ages considerably. When the seven years are complete she is then returned but blessed with magic. Usually human faery marriages do not last forever. Such conditions as yelling at a faery or inadvertantly hitting them or breaking your word and revealing them wil cause them to leave. If you are the unlucky lover yuou will pine away thinking about them.

There is discussion about the origin of faeries. Some people think they were an ancient but small people who were pushed aside by larger people. Still others feel they are nature spirits or elemental spirits. They might even be former gods.

Interesting little book that will provide for a quick read. Hope you enjoy it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Witchcraft circa 1956


Witchcraft Today
Gerald Gardner, Citadel
2004

Consider that the book was written back in 1956 when the subject of witchcraft was relegated to the shadow and laws against witchcraft had recently been repealed. Gardner had been initiated into the coven in the 1930's. He writes as though he were a disinterested anthropologist yet he was a practitioner. What may have been an appropriate introduction back then is just a cursory view today. Gardner was the founder of Wicca or modern Wicca, so from that stand point the book has some value.
If one wants a more thorough view of Wicca and the Witchcraft "Revival" one would do well to read books by Raymond Buckland, Doreen Valiente and others.

Gerald Gardner writes his book to inform us that witches, though belonging to a dying cult, are still around. They have been around through the centuries and the worship of theancient God and Goddess has never died. Witches used to be rather influential and powerful often times they being the ones running things behind the scens and always for the benefit of mankind. The God and Goddess wanted only the best and though they were not all powerful they could use our help so they could in turn help us.

Witches have been toruted relentlesy by the Catholic Church so that now their meeting are held quietly in someones home. They met in groups of thirteen and they keptr their knowledge of each other secret. The Church spread all soprts of rumor that they were Satanic and their rituals made mockery of the Catholic services. All is lies.

Witches bliweve that it is wrong to harm other anhd so animal sacrifice is out of the question. Blood is not used in rituals despite it's extra power boost. Ceremonial magicians use their own blood. Sometimes Soecerer used the services of witches. The power of withc craft and psycghic abilities are al drawn from power generated with in. The dancing in the circle raises energy and to get results you need to whip your self up into a frenzy.

Gardner seems to believe that the religion is inherited from the pygmies that used to inhabit the British isles before the invaders came. These pygmies were the fairies and they were armed with poisoned darts and magical powers. After a while they inter bred with the invader and became normal sized. Their powers faded as well.

It is believed that the religion has Eastern origin possibly from Egypt. From Egypt part of the religion went into Europe and the other into West Africa. The book was designed it seems as a defense of Witchcraft. There are no spell or ritualsd denoted as that is all oathbound. TH books only value is that it is written by the father of Modern Day Witch Craft.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Stricken yet Crowned



Stricken yet Crowned
Michelle Spoden, Sakura Publishing
2011

Author Michelle Spoden writes about a traumatic incident that happened during her childhood an incident that would change her entire life. Born in Ohio to two parents who frequently had intense arguments that often ended up in physical abuse, Michelle Spoden has had a very difficult childhood. Her father had a gambling habit and succumbed to mental illness after her parents divorced. Michelle's mother would marry Valentino a man connected with the Mafia.

Years before the incident Michelle's mother was receiving a series of very bizarre phone calls. The phone calls were very sexual in nature. After an emotionally tense time with her step father Michelle retreated to her room. It was that night when someone broke in and the terrible incident occurred....she was raped. Everyone tried to blame the step father but it was not him. instinctively she knew who it was.

Years go by with the fear that the person who did this horrible deed is still out there. Michelle had difficulty sleeping and developed an alcohol problem. She was sent to a rehabilitation center at 17. She would eventually marry Mustapha and open a grocery store with him. The marriage ended in divorce. Michelle was never fully accepted by Mushapha's family and it was her husband that pushed her into getting an abortion.

Thirty years later after finding Christ Michelle sought justice. After thirty years the case was closed and the authorities would not pursue the matter. The victim was victimized by the system that was supposed to protect her. Her life is filled now with involvement in the Church and counseling others in need. She id dedicated to helping female survivors of rape and also documents countries were women are institutionally are abused

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Exlorations into the Realm of Shadow



Out of the Shadows : An Exploration of Dark Paganism and Magick
John Coughlin, 1 st Book Library
October 22,2002

Ever want to align yourself with the Dark Side of the Force? Ever find yourself being jealous of the villains because they could do what they wanted or because they had so much power? Well don't worry this does not make you evil. It might make you more of the independent sort. This is a great book for beginning and mid level pagans who are looking for something beyond the light fluff bunny new age paganism that is being peddled these day. True Paganism is about balance between light and darkness. Now there is too much focus on the light.

Dark Pagans and Dark Siders are drawn to darkness of night and tend to be more independent than dogmatic. They believe in taking responsibility for their own actions and they believe in thinking for themselves. Dark Siders tend to have more self knowledge and are in touch with their darker aspects. Of course this does not mean that they act upon their negative impulses, rather it means they are aware of it.

There are several types of people drawn to the dark side of life besides dark pagans. Many of these dark siders are involved in the LARP or role playing schemes. BDSM, the vampire scene are also dark siders. Each category is thoroughly discussed. Needless to say most people in the vampire scene do not beliweve they are vampires but there are a few out there who do have some unrealistic beliefs. Got to be careful in any situation.

Our darkside is our Jungian shadow. The shadow is parts of our selves and experience that we have shove away into our subconscious so that we could fit in to society. Many try to ignore the dark side out of fear but doing so comes at great peril, because the more you push it in the deadlier it becomes. Eventually we project our negativity onto others and we end up disliking those who we dislike or worse. The object is to integrate our dark and light halves and become a whole person.

Dark deities are discussed. War like Deities such as Aries, Sctach and Morrigan are discussed. Odin and his berserkers are given fair mention as are Lilith and Hecate. The discussion on dark deities is culled from various paradigms and the description is rather through. There is no discusion of demons as pagans do not really believe in the concept of evil. In nature there are destructive and constructive forces and they must be both embraced. Demons simply do not exist. The Demons maybe projections of our own inner darkness that we are denying.

Satanism, Temple of Set, Taosim and Chaos magick are some left hand paths one can explore. Satanism is not about the Christians devil. It is elitist and it does promote the idea that the individual is is his/her own god and must choose life as they see fit and taking the consequences as well. Taosims is about becoming one with the self and nature. While Chaos magic believes there is non ultimate truth while the practitioner frees themself from dogma and does what works for them. belief is a tool and it is belief that animate the system the magician is using even if it involves fictitious characters.

The author gives over some good common sense about magic. You must be willing to work for the objective you cast the spell for. Magic is not the easy road. It takes the path of least resistance. So if you wanna turn off a light switch get up and turn it off do not cast a spell. Magic also conforms heavily to laws of nature. In other words do not expect miracles.

I would like to finish off with a structure for raising magic along with techniques. The first phase of magic is getting yourself into a receptive state of mind. This is done by meditation, ritualized movement. Next your raise the energy with visualization ,breathing techniques and movement. Net you direct your energy into the goal and lastly you ground your self.

This is a great starting point for those interested in traversing the realm of shadow. The magical advice is common sensical and down to earth I like it,

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.
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