Friday, March 25, 2011
Debt of Bones
Terry Goodkind, Tor Publications
This prequel makes a nice little read and gives the reader a glimpse into the past. The background is set D'Hara invades the Midlands under the leadership of Panis Rahl. It is the final stages of the war and the forces of D'Hara have captured a small village. It is up to Abigail to venture to the wizard's keep and plead with First Wizard Zeddicus Zul Zorander. Abigail must wait in a long line to see the most important wizard of the Midlands. Of course not only does she want her village to be rescued but more importantly she want to rescue her husband, father and daughter. At first Zed refuses to rescue those lives and risk the whole Midlands is something that Zed does not want to contemplate. When Abigail shows Zed and the mother Confessor her mother's skull Zed is obligated and off they go.
The covers a lot of background in just under 200 pages. The prequel explains how the boundaries were set up between the MidLands, D'Hara and The WestLands. The West Lands is a realm entirely without magic. To create the boundaries Zed open a fissure in the surface realm that brings up the green light from the Keeper's realm of the Underworld. This brings up some inconsistencies because first off when Richard drives Darken Rahl to the Keeper it open a rift that threaten to get out of control. How come when Zedd opened a rift it did not get out of control. In the first book and other book Richard and Darken Rahl knock down some barriers that are better left up. Why can't Zed raise those barriers like before? Just some questions for the observant reader to consider.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
"Magic Of the Ordinary"
Gershon Winkler, North Atlantic Book
Gershon Winkler was a devout Jew living in New York with his several children and his wife. Then one day a change occurred. He is still a Jew and his spirituality is still Judaism, however , he has chosen to get closer to nature and live in New Mexico. He has since studied Native American Shamanism and I believe that it has strongly influenced this current book being examined.
Do not fool yourself into thinking that he has gone ahead and done a cheap combination and made up his own Native_American form of Judaism. Everything written in this book can be supported by such traditional texts as the Talmud, Tanach, Zohar and other books. This stuff is legitimate.
Many would never think of Judaism as being a Shamanistic religion. It used to be. Shamanistic religions are connected to the land. Judaism as practiced by the ancient Israelites was connected to the seasons and land of their kingdom. Being exiled away from their land has caused the Jewish people to lose their Shamanistic connection to the land and spirituality.
To find holiness or kedusha one need not astral travel to the heavenly realms in order to experience divinity. Divinity can be found in our every day lives right here in the earthly realm. In fact it is in the earthly realm that we are meant to find find God. Of course this has been long forgotten.
During their exile in Europe the Christian leaders oppressed those who followed shamanistic path. In fact if you were not Christian you would get killed or worse. As Shaman and witches and Jews were being persecuted the Jews silently shelved their mystical practices. Yet if one scours the Kabbalistic works and the Talmud carefully enough those mystical practices can be found.
In the succeeding chapters the author tells one how to make an altar with appropriate accouterments. Healing rituals are discussed and one is instructed on how too make their own circle. The author discusses the invocation of the four arch angels and it is different somewhat from the angel invocation of the Lesser Pentagram banishing ritual in Ceremonial magic.
Contained with in Judaism were totems and various symbology for different animals and their correspondences to the different tribes of Israel. Everything had a life force and everything could be used for healing including stones, herbs plants and animals. Judaism is replete with respect for animals and stressed numerous times the importance of treating animals in a humane fashion. Animals are holy.
According to the Kabballah there are four different world and we exist on those world simultaneously. The Worlds are as follows:
1. Atziluth (אֲצִילוּת), or World of Emanation. On this level the light of the Ein Sof (Infinite Divine or literally translated "without end") radiates and is still united with its source. This supernal revelation therefore precludes the souls and Divine emanations in Atzilus from sensing their own existence.
2. Beri'ah (בְּרִיאָה or alternatively בְּרִיָּה) or World of Creation. On this level is the first concept of creatio ex nihilo however without any shape or form. This is also where the Highest Ranking Angels are to be found.
3. Yetzirah (יְצִירָה) or World of Formation. On this level the created being assumes shape and form.
4. Assiah (עֲשִׂיָּה) or World of Action. On this level the creation is complete; however, it is still on a spiritual level. At a later stage there is the 'physical Assiah' comprising our physical Universe with all its creatures.
Back in Medieval times Jews were known to be sorcerers par excellence with expertise in occult matters. The most obvious manifestation of Jewish Occult power is the creation of the Golem. Even back in Talmudical times these human like figure were created from clay but since they were not full humans they were unable to speak. They were created with incantations and the writing off the word emett on on their forehead which meant truth.Erase the aleph an the word became meant dead. The Golem would disintegrate after that. The most famous Golem was the Golem of Prague created by Rabbi Loewe to protect the Jewish people from persecutions.
Jewish occultism recognized that the spirits of the dead could be ccontacted and that there were obviously angels but what about demons? Most people think that shedim are demons. In reality they are half human and half spiritual. Some are good and some are bad. King Solomon harness them and used them for his own purposes. When working with shedim one had to be careful.
Chanting a mantra or even a different name of god or an animal using a vibrational tone was essential in unlocking the spiritual power of that name. Vibrations in geeneral unlock powers. This underscore the power of speach and words. Abracadabra means as I speak I create.
Read this book and enjoy creating your own spiritual harmony with God. The book is a good starter but certainly not the end of your journey. There were a couple of flaws with the book. One was the author's alternative translations of certain human words. I realize that he is trying to get us to think differently but he would have done well to include translations and meaning that most reader are familiar with. Some times it seems that he is trying to make a native American version of his faith. I would give it a good recommendation and a 7.5 out of 10.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Peter Berresford Ellis
Running Press , 4/10/2002
The Druids were an Indo-European people who migrated out of the Danube River area and settled all over Europe. Their realm extended all the way from Ireland to Galatia in Turkey. The word Celtic meant “ The Hidden ones” Their language Gaelic was related to Sanskrit another Indo-European language. In fact it could well be said that many of their religious customs are similar to customs held in India.
In Hindu society there were the Brahmin who were sort of like the priestly caste or the intellectual caste. They were the judges, lawyers, philosophers and doctors and sometimes wizards. THe Celts, who name meant the hidden ones were indo -Europeans and as Indo Europeans they have a caste system. The equivalent off the Brahmins for the Celt were the Druids.
Not much is known about the Druids as they left almost nothing behind in writing. Writing their holy texts was something they shunned for a variety of reason. One such reason is that if the information were to fall in the wrong hands it could be used against them. The Druids also used to memorize their religious texts verbatim. To commit religious texts to writing would cause them to rely less on their memory. There is also a third reason why nothing is left. Celtic written sources were all destroy by invaders whether they be Romans or the British.
What is known about the Druids is writing left behind by the Romans and the Greeks. Much of what was written about the Druids is biased against them. Most of the writers did not observe the Druids first hand but relied upon the observation of others such as Poseidonous. Often times Roman writing used to depict the Druids as being barbaric and cruel with their human sacrifices. Truth be told the Roman and the Greeks both practiced human sacrifice and such a practice was rare in Druidic society.
As mentioned earlier the Celts were spread over Europe. They were known as fearsome fighter and since they had learned how to use Iron they had advanced weapon and were able to conquer anyone they went against. There were several battle and wars in which they victorious over the Greek and Roman Armies. In fact Celts were such good fighters that often times they were used as merceneries and saw action as far a field in the Middle East. In fact the Celts helped the Phoenician Hannibal to fight against the Roman.
Anyone could learn to be a Druid male or female. In Celtic society both had equal power and equal rights. There were even women warriors. Kings were selected by vote and did not have absolute rule. Kingship was not automatically handed down from father to son. The Druids ruled over cases , cured people, and ran Druid universities. The Druids were also expert astronomers and knew the stars and had their own system.
The Celts claim descent from the Goddess Danu and her consort Beleni. Dagda was their son. Danu was represented by a river and Beleni was represented by a Oak Tree. The Druids supposedly could conjure mist and shape change. This book is a must read for those who wish to learn about the Druids and Celtic society.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Violent Goddess : Anat in the Ras Shamra Texts
Arvid S. Kapelrud, Universitetsforlaget; 1 edition (February 1969
Everything you ever thought about Middle Eastern women as being meek, submissive and totally obediant to their male counter parts you can just throw into the trash. It is ain't real. Middle Eastern women can be tough, in charge and down right feisty. They are fighters, sometime even more so than the males.
Anat was the Goddess of love and war in the Canaanite pantheon. She is usually partnered up with Baal Hadad, the god of rain and fertility. The Violent Goddess although dated is informative, readable and interesting.
The Goddess Anat is analyzed and compared to a variety of different Goddesses who stood for war and love in the Middle East. Ishtar, Isis,and Inanna are compared to her and there are several characteristics in common. Yet none is as violoent, passionate and warlike as Anat. Anat was worshipped all the way from Anatolia to Egypt. Her worship never really spread into Mesopoatamia but Ishtar the Assyrian Goddess of love and War became increasingly like her.
It is hard to seperate the different Goddeses of the acannaite pantheon because so many times the lines between them are blurred. Ashera was the mother Goddess of all life, Ashtoret was another Goddess of love and war and often confused with Anat. Then there was Anat. All three had seperate identities. The Old Testament tends to blend them due to a variety of reasons.
THe author investigates the origins of Anat and after exhausting all possiblilities comes to the conclusion that Anat was orf Amorite origin. Her worship did not have extensive inroads into southern Canaan. Ashtoret and Anat were incorporated into the Egyptian pantheon as protectors of the Pharoah and Rah the sun god.
Anat is called the etrernal virgin. She is a young lady who is filled passion. She is no virgin in our sense of the word. But rather a young woman of marriageable age. It could also be that her virginity gets renewed as the yearly cycle progresses.
A second investigation was launched by the author into her exact relation with Baal. She is refered to as both his sister and his mate. In one scenario they do copulate and produce a child. The author deduces that for the most part they are husband and wife.
It should be realized that Baal was not the baddest of warriors. His wife was the warrior of the family. She represent the will of Baal by fighting his battle and delivering messages for him. They fight a series of Gods including Yam ,the sea god , and Mot , lord of the underworld. Baal does the fighting for sure but without the help of Anat he would be a goner. Anat muzzles dragon and kills Mot herself. She is a goddess who takes the initiative and is determined to get what she wants. In a nutshell she is impetuous.
In the Aquat story she kills the son of the king Danel in order to get a bow. Aquat refused to give it to her, so she had Yatpan her loyal soldier kill him. She does anything to get what she wants. She is an advocate for Baal, demanding that Ilu giove permission for Baal to build his castle and Mount Sapon. She threatens to kill Ilu and lay him to waste. Ilu relents as does Ashira. They are afraid of her and know her violent nature. When her palace is attacked she goes out and fights without a thought and then uses the body parts of her slain foes to adorn herself like jewelry. She even washes in their blood. Later she puts on makeup and acts as if nothing ever happened.
She is an initator and she is domineering. Ashera maybe the figure head but Anat is in charge and running things. Even when Ilu initiates the mourning for Baal and the Earth becomes unfertile it is Anat who takes the active role of finding Baal's body and having Shapsu the sun goddes resurrecting him. After the Baal is resurrected the two mate and give birth to a cow.
This book is a great archaeological read. THe Canaanite deities have a lot to teach us. For women she is a great role model because Anat is assertive, brave and always ready for a fight. Funny I think some men could learn from her.
Some of my Wiccan friends can learn from her as well. The horned God descend to the world of the dead every winter and is brought to life again in the spring. Baal is the Middle Eastern Horned God and Anat is the goddess who helps resurrect and then mates with him. It was all part of the feertitlity cycle in the middle east. But more importatntly both are shape changer. At times they are bovin creatures at other times human. Anat will appear as a bird and at other times she is like a fairy that sprouts wings and is ready to fly. It is quite imaginable that Anat can be invoked from courage and strength in a confrontation or for help in matters of love and fertitity.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Terry Goodkind, Tor Publication
Judging from the readers reviews this series is losing some major steam as it progresses. Of course it was written 5 years ago and had I read it back then I would have said , wrap up this fight with Jagang and the Imperial Order, we the readers are getting tired of it" Mr Goodkind should learn from JRR Tolkien and keep his series contained to three book. A good story has a beginning, middle and end. This one drags on.
It is not a bad read by any means but there are some pretty major flaws. First off the novel are way too long. Reading fiction that goes beyond 700 pages for me is a turn off. Perhaps keep it around 500 pages and people like me would be more eager to read it up. Some phrases that describe the eyes inherited by members of the Rahl family are over used. I do not want to keep hearing about "raptor eyes or raptor gaze" enough find some new words. One thing I cannot stand when reading a book is having the history rehashed over and over again. Ok i read this back in the last book. I do not need a refresher course. If anyone is lost then maybe they should just break down and buy the earlier books.
Now let us be fair my high school aged son enjoyed these books and totally read them up. I blow through them in about a week. If it was boring I would never have been able to read it that fast. So it is enjoyable.
Lord Rahl and company now joined by Freidrich, Jensen and Tom are leaving the pillars of creation behind and are on their way back to Dahara. Of course there is a new threat flying right above them. Black racer, predatory birds keep following them and circling them. There are even a few skirmishes in which several of the birds are killed. Why are the birds attaacking? Simple a "Slide" named Nicholas can steal peoples souls and control them. He forces his captives into the bodies of birds and other animals. A "Slide" was created by the sisters of the dark for Jagang's use. Of course this slide has plans of his own.
Along the way they are met by Owen who come from the Bandarak Empire. The Bandarak Empire was sealed away by a great wizard long time ago. The denizens of Bandarak are the pristine ungifted. they have no magic and cannot be affected by magic. They also adhere to a philosophy of non violence and will not fight back against the tyranny of the Imperial Order. They want Richard to do it. They poison him to do it. So Richard joins their fight in order to get the antidote. Along the way he educates these people on how important it is to fight for freedom and that passivism is not effective in dettering aggressors.
At the battle front Zed the wizard get captured and rescued. Magic will kill a multitude of Jagang's men but what does he care he has plenty. Need less to say we all know the outcome, Richard is victorious until the next book. Mr. Goodkind seems to use his books to promote the idea that it is good to fight for freedom even to kill for it should someone strive to take it away from you. He also seems to be a firm beliver in capitalism. Is he using his book to indoctrinate. To this democrat he seems to have some very solid republican views. But I do think it is noble to resist oppression with force.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Aradia: Gospel of the Witches
Charles Leland, Easy Reads LLC
In Northern Italy there are vestiges of an ancient faith that maybe still practiced by the common people. It is a vestige left over from the ancient Etruscan religion. The Etruscans lived in Tuscany, Italy. The main Goddess for the practitioners of this faith is the Goddess Diana. She is the Goddess of the moon, queen of the fairies and protector of the down trodden. She is also the goddess of witchcraft.
Charles Godfrey Leland traveled to Italy in the Mid to late 1800's and gather all this material about the ancient Etruscan religion.. It was gathered from local sources and he was helped by a young female. In Northern Italy there are Strega or Italian witches who still practice Etruscan magic and are expert in it's ways.
The book is very simple to read filled with stories and some rather easy to do spells. The spells are not at all complicated and there is no circle casting as one would find in Wicca or Ceremonial Magic. Usually a spell is something as simple as making an invocation to the goddess and leaving an offering. For example take the family that is poor and is in need of money. They leave an offering to Diana of flowers and leaving them by her statue. The family becomes wealthy as a result. many of the invocations also threaten the deity if there request is not met. This seems to be a common motif even in Italian Christian practices. Much different from Wicca. If one wants a fuller representation of the Italian witch faith then one can read further in the author's other works such as "Etruscan Roman Remains" and "Legends of Florence"
Aradia who is called the Queen of Witches was sent down to help the suffering people of Italy who were oppressed by the nobility and the clergy men. Often time they were forced to work as slaves and their property was confiscated arbitrarily by the Church of oppressive noblemen. The people were not strong enough to fight back so Aradia taught them magic witchcraft and the use of poison to counter the oppression.
Aradia was also the daugher of Diana and Lucifer (not to be confused with Satan). The elder gods created Diana and from her other half came the sun god Lucifer. In Roman legend he is called Apollo. After separating from Lucifer Diana suddenly has a longing for him. She tries to persue him but he only succeeds in evading her. Finally while down on Earth she couples with him by disguising herself as a cat. From that union came Aradia.
The Witches gather together monthly on the full moon, their celebration a sabbat. There is feasting on wine, moon cakes and their is ecstatic gathering and breaking of the overly strict laws of modesty.
For those looking for a more simple magic to follow this book maybe a start to something that you are looking for. To do Stregeria all one needs is intent, invocation and then maybe the offering or spellcraft. Many people like me get swallowed up in the long complicated rituals and lose focus of the objective.
The book is also a window into the lost world of Etruscan, Roman magic and religion.
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