Thursday, April 28, 2011
Melissa Marr, Harper Collins
Melissa Marr ups the ante from her first book and takes the fae to a whole new level. modern faerie tales like the faerie tales of old were seldom pretty. This one gets down to the nitty gritty of high school life and throws the characters into a maelstrom of reality and believe me reality ain't pretty.
The new novel has the same old characters Seth, Aislin, and Keenan but they are not the center of the story. Rather the center of the story is friend of Aislin's and her name is Leslie. Leslie is a real survivor, her mother left the family and her father is a falling down drunk who we never really encounter and her brother Ren is a crackhead who brings his drugs home and lets his druggie friends and dealer have their way with Leslie. Leslie survive abuse, abandonment and molestation with a stern determination to leave Huntsdale behind and start a new life. But such experiences leave one filled with many negative emotion perfect candidate for the faeries of the dark court.
Irial takes notice of here and uses her as a conduit to feed off the negative emotions of humanity. Dark faeries like psychic vampires feed off of negativity. The connection is made by a set of faerie wing tattoos Leslie puts on her back. The ink is mixed with Irials blood. Aislin, Seth and Keenan try to thwart Irial's plan but it is ultimately up to Leslie to save herself. There are love triangles in this story, divided loyalties and surprise endings.
Melissa Marr has great plots and very compelling characters. she is taking modern faerie tales up to a new level and I rather enjoy it. she could develop her characters a little more and make them more complex. It would also do well to flesh out the description of the scenery to help us build a better impression in our mind of what the places look like. There are good elements of romance but to propel faeries to the level of Twilight there needs to be innocent romance and less focus on the darkness. Perhaps focus on feuds and the super natural. Over all great book for high school kids. 4.5 stars out of 5
Monday, April 25, 2011
Witches,Druids and King Arthur
Ronald Hutton,St Martin's Press
Ronald Hutton is a scholar who cuts through all the crap and gets straight to the truth. He doesn't mess around and he does not have time for biases. Most noted for his study of modern witchcraft in book "Triumph of the Moon" Ronald Hutton has drafted a book that is really a compilation of different essays on different subjects that are pertinent facets of modern paganism. This book is easily read and scholarly at the same time which serves to make it a very enjoyable read as well as informative.
The first essay talks about myths and how they are created. Often times a groups oral history maybe composed of myths. Myths are often legends composed around a certain event or monument. As the author shows myths are outright inventions meant to bolster ethnic pride and carry forth an idea much like propaganda would. The author gives several examples of national myths that clearly have no basis in fact. This could cover everything from battles and historical event all the way to monuments. Many monuments are not as old as reported and the stories surrounding them are equally untrue.
The next area of the author's study is King Arthur. King Arthur is rather a tough figure to pin down. There are several candidates as to who could be the real Arthur. no one knows for sure. Glastonbury Tor is an area often associated with King Arthur. supposedly it is the place where he and Queen Guenivere are buried. Further mythology connects it to Joseph Aramathea. Excavations show, however, that the earliest the building there could have been built was the 10th century ad and most likely they were built by Anglo Saxons. A bit too late for King Arthur.
Ronald Hutton through his research has come to the conclusion that Modern Paganism is not an extension of old paganism. He argues that once Europe adopted Christianity they stopped practicing their pagan religions. Modern Wicca tends to be duotheistic meaning that there are two deities, God and Goddess. Old pagan religions were pantheistic meaning they had a multitude of gods. Monotheism is a belief in one god. The Paganism of the late antiquity period before the onset of Christianity had a tendency to lean towards monotheism and that there was one main creator god and the rest of the deities were spirits under his command. Duo theistic ideas were present as well. There was a main idea that underneath the main creator god there was a female consort who had the responsibility of bestowing life and fertility to the life below on earth. At times this female deity would be called Natura, Venus or even Hekate.
There are other division to be noted with regards too modern paganism and the pagan religions of old. One such division was the use of magic. There is a difference between religion and magic. In religion the followers would worship the given deity and make request. In magic the magician could compel the spiritual entity to perfrom a certain task on their behalf. The Egyptians believed that one could use Heka or spiritual power to coerce a deity. in modern wicca on can perform magic by using their own energy and by asking the deity to lend them power.
It is to be acknowledged that many ideas of magic and religion flowed to Europe from the Middle East via Rome and Greece. Many of these ideas originated in Babylon, Egypt and Phoenicia/Canaan/Israel. The idea of a male God dying at winter and being resurrected is one such motif. Another motif that is found in ritual magic and Wicca, that came to Europe from the Middle East is casting the circle and calling the 4 elements. This played a big part in Greek and Middle Eastern ritual.Modern paganism inherited it from them.
Harran was a place in the Middle East located near what is considered northern Iraq and southern Turkey that was a surviving bastion of Paganism that survived as such until the 11th century ad. It survived and thrived under Islamic rule. Some say that pagan wisemen were transferred there after the Greco-Roman world became christian. it is know that the Muslim mystics known for the art of making amulets and talismans learned what they knew from the mystics of Harran.This would later come to Europe via the Muslims when they conquered Spain.
Two important things are salient with Harranian mysticism. Not only did they cast circle and call quarters but they also subscribed to Hermeticism and neo platonism.
The idea behind Hermeticism is that magic was performed to help one unite with the creator. neo Platonism taught that there was one God but that his many emanations allowed for the creation of different deity like beings. each being had control over a different astral body or planet. Inclusive of the sun and the moon . there seven total. each planet exerted some influence on different earthly matters. Associated with these planet were different stones, colors and herbs.
Mystics believed that planetery powers could be channeled into objects or amulets. neo Platomic ideas along with circle casting would make inroads into Medieval European high magic and Christianity. It often created much controversy.
The last four chapters cover ritual nudity in Wicca, Pagan ideas on two Christian fantasy writers and the rise of Modern druidry. Pagan thought and motif has always beenm a potent undercurrent in Europe. Norse mythology combined with Christian ideology influence a group of creative writers called the inklings. Two such writer from that group were CS. Lewis and Jrr. Tolkien. Their mythology is discussed at length. Ritual Nudity is practiced in some Wiccan groups to enforce equality and increase power. The author examine how ritual nudity was used in ancient times and in modern times and examines some reasons why it would be employed in modern Wicca.
Modern Druidry is not really related to ancient druidry but rather it is a recreation. The first groups to call themselves Druids were actually fraternal groups that offered support and friendship. late on they would develop in religious groups who's rituals borrowed heavily from Masonic organization and structure. This book get a 5 out of 5 rating.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Earth, Air, Fire and Water
Scott Cunningham, Llewellyn
The meat and potatoes of European folk magic, the actual craft the witches of old used to practice. This is pure spellcraft at it's finest. The book is backed by years of research and experimentation. This book continues where his first book ,Earth Power, left off. This book is a must.
Natural magic uses the four elements of the planet: Earth, Air, Fire and Water to perform your spell. There are no fancy complicated rituals or tools. Natural magic is all about combining your personal power with the power of the element to achieve your result. Natural magic does not require any ornate tools or altar and most of the spell can be performed any where. This is outdoor magic. Magic is using your will to influence reality in a way that you desire.
The rituals are relatively simple which is what I like. To perform your ritual you will need to gather your tools. Again they are not complex. They will be simple things like herbs, stones, candle etc. Things you can easily obtain or may be lying around your house. once your materials are gathered you will have to take a few moments and relax. While doing your ritual think only of soultions or desired outcomes. Your next step is to visualize your outcome and charge up your tools. Ussually when doing a spell, but not all the time, there is a rhyme or chant that you say over and over again. You will then build up your energy by usually tightening up all the muscles in your body chanting or rapid breathing. While doing this hold on to your elemental tool (stone, herb, water etc) with your receptive or non- writing hand. This combines your personal energy with the elemental energy. Once the ergy is built up and you can no longer contain it then you push it through your projecctive or writing hand in to an object. This releases the energy so it can do it's work. The spell can be done as many times as needed.
This great little book of folk magic is just that folk magic and not Wicca. In the following chapters Scott Cunningham list spells forr each of the four elements. There are also chapters on star magic, candle magic, ice magic, magnet magic etc. There is a spell for just about every need , everything from breaking addictions to money and love. The books closes off with a teaching on how to design your own spell. Contained with in the chapter are symbols associated with different goals along with colors, elements and herbs. Word to the wise do not use magic for negative purposes such as to harm people our influence their will. If you want to heal someone you have ton nask their permission.
At the end the of the book there is bibliography if you are intersted in researching more on spellcraft and natural magic.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Scott Cunningham, Llewellyn Publications
September 8, 2002
Scott Cunningham was not only a luminary for Wicca but in my humble opinion he was a luminary for spirituality in general. Ask any magical person and all they have is praise for Scott Cunningham. That is very rare.
Scott Cunningham was versed in all sorts of magic. His specialty was Wicca. This book continues were his book "Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner" left off. since many Wiccan and magical practitioners in fact have no access to an actual coven are reliant upon self teaching. The solitary practitioner will have to develop his or her own Wiccan tradition while sticking close to the original Wiccan foundation. Scott Cunningham gives the beginner a foundation with which to build there own tradition.
The solitary Wiccan will have to be self taught. Scott Cunningham give the neophyte the tools for such an endeavor. There are 4 basic tools for the lone practitioner. The first one is study. The lone Wiccan can read books to get their information. Books can take you pretty far as can a teacher or high priest but remember this eacch has it's limitations and both can only answer so many questions. The next tool is thought. Think for yourself and question everything. The next is prayer. pray to the God and Goddess for guidance when you are perplexed. Lastly experiment. Do the magic and see what works for you.
What about illness? Should you do your rituals when you are sick? Sickness affects individuals in a variety of ways. The common sense approach is to modify your rituals accordingly and if you are seriously ill enough you may have to skip out. As an individual practitioner you will read up on many things. Gonna have to weed through it and decide what works best for you.
I have taken a lot of material and wrote it down in my book of shadows. Some of it i have modified for my own personal use. Here a general outline for a self initiation.
2) Alter Set Up
3) Cast Circle and call quarters
4)Invoke Goddess and God.
5)Symbolic death of the old self
6)Pray to Goddess and God- a dedication
7) Cakes and Ale-Relaxation
8) Thank the Goddess and God and open the circle.
Many people will talk about learning Wiccan Mysteries and how most books do not teach the Wiccan mysteries. One does not need to be taught Wiccan mysteries directly. Simple observation of nature can teach you a lot. Watching an apple grow then fall from the tree and go through the process of decomposition and eventually sprout into a tree can teach us about the cycle of life and death. Scott Cunningham fills this chapter with plenty of examples.
The part I liked best about the book was the sections dealing with prayers to the God and Goddess. I have copied several items down and modified them for my own use. Scott Cunningham informs us that the Goddess and God dwell within each of us as they do without. We need to pray to the God and Goddess and regularly as well as leave offerings. We also need to leave regular offering as well.
This is my morning prayer partially modified.
Oh Goddess within
Oh God within
oh Goddess of the moon, waters and the earth
Oh God of the forests and mountains.
Remember our prayers need to be respectful.
Oh Goddess within
Oh God within
oh Goddess of the moon, waters and the earth
Oh God of the forests and mountains
i give thanks to you for all the wonderful
things in this life Job wife and health
Oh gracious Goddess
Oh Gracious God
Lend me strength, health and love during this coming day.
assist me with the challenges ahead. Share your divine wisdom teach me to respect all things.
Remind me that the greatest power of all is love
( I then light the candle)
I then start my second morning prayer
bless this day sun of Fiery Light
Bless this day prepare me for the night.
Fire growing , sun is glowing
growing and flowing down on me.
( I light candle number 2)
i then do my incense offering and here is the prayer
What I take I freely give, accept this offering great god and goddess.
Tis a symbol of my devotion. May it strengthen my bond with you.
(I now light my tea light to burn the rose water)
This is my prayer for the pendulum
Oh Goddess with in
Oh God with in
Oh Goddess of the moon , water and the earth.
Oh God of the forests and mountain
Oh shining ones of great wisdom
Guide this pendulum in my hand if you so please
Guide me please to discern the truth Help me if you will.
I have also included an outline for a simple rite that can be used if you are on the go or an ultra beginner.
1) Cast a circle
2)invoke the Deities
3) State you reason
4) state need and ask for assistance
5) Thanks Deities
6)close the ritual
Some valuable technique also include raising the energy. I have copied two method for my book of shadows
1) Visualize your need
3) release your energy
! Visualize your need
2) repeat like a mantra you need or desire saying it faster and faster as you tighten your muscles.
3)Release the energy
1) Visualize your need
2)dance clock wise and make it faster each time.
3) Collapse on the floor
To send the energy out you visualize your need and then direct it out with your athame
as you can see the book is comprehensive and loaded with information. It is simple and easy to read giving one a direct connection to the Goddess and God. He gives further information on what tools you will need and how to organize your book of shadow.
This book is an A+
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Harper Collins, April 29, 2008
We've all read enough about vampires lately and we have seen far too many tv shows and movies about vampires and werewolves. Faeries seem to be very popular and their popularity is rising. But will they have the same shot at fame as the vampires and werewolves do. Will this book be the one that breaks the barrier and puts faeries into mainstream consciousness like vampires are.
Melissa Marr has written a good little book on faeries. I found the book enjoyable, readable and face paced. The story line was intriguing enough to hold this adult readers interest. Melissa Marr has also done her research on the subject as evidenced by the quotations at the beginning of each chapter. It is an over all recommendation especially for young high school readers.
If the book has been longer it might have been boring. There is room for improvement in the way of character development. The plot could also use a bit more excitement and have a few added events that move the plot along at a swifter place. Melissa Marr has definite knowledge of the faerie real, and perhaps she could get a little bit more detailed in her work about the faerie realm. Although it is a good over view. While a very good book especially for a new author I do not think this is the book that will propel faeries into the mainstream consciousness to the extent that vampires are.
Aislin whether she has wanted to or not was born with the gift to see faeries. Her mother and grandmother were born with this gift or should I say curse. Aislin has to pretend that she cannot see them for to do otherwise is to bring a heap of trouble upon yourself. Aislin and her grandmother live in Huntsdale a city filled with iron and metal , far way from lush green forest like areas. Faeries grow week around iron. Aislin's grandmother also moves her around a lot to keep her safe.
Aislin is in a platonic relationship with Seth, a guy famous for one night stands and piercings. He lives in a train car and has not a care in the world. For Aislin this iron box is a safety zone. Seth and Aislin really dig each other but they never let on.
Then along comes Keenan, crown prince of the summer court. He must find a Summer queen if he is ever to break the curse of Beira his mother the winter queen. He has selected Aislin. Aislin is very reluctant to say the least as she is in love with Seth. All through the book Seth and Aislin try to evade the summer king. Beira the winter queen wants the world to remain in eternal winter. Donia one of the girls who tried to be the summer queen but was just not the one was turned into an ice faerie. She helps them as she wants to be released from the cold.
In the end they come up with a workable compromise and the good side always prevails. I will leave it to you to figure out.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling
Charles Godfrey Leland
Nabu Press 2/16/1923
This review serves as a double review for not only am I evaluating a book but I am also evaluating the device I read it on. I downloaded this book off the internet in PDF form onto a Kobo reading application put out by Borders. Sometimes PDF's can be rather difficult but I have read book on Ibook and Kindles. So far Kindle and I books are great. Ibooks did a better job handling PDF'sthen did Kobo. Kobo often times changed pages with being instructed to do so. Turning pages was also difficult with the device. That being said stick with the Kindle.
Not too much has been published with regards to gypsy lore and spellcraft. This is one of the few books available on the subject. Mr. Leland travelled to Europe and lived with the Gysies for a good length of time. While living with the Gypsies he was able to learn their history and their lore. I would say that although the book is dated having been first published in 1923, that it is an over all good book opn Gypsy lore.
Dated material often times does have some drawbacks. There have been a couple facts trghat encountered that are rather questionable especially with regards to the Jewish religion. But more on that later.
The Gypsies originated from India and ventured Westward into Europe. They are a wandering people that often live close to nature and apart from mainstream civilization in general. They are very knowledgeable about herbs and natural cures and how to read signs given by nature. Their spirituality or magick bears great closeness to the Hindu religion back in India from whwence they originate. A Hindyu sorcerer can request the aid of spirits to curse or help an individal much like a gyspy can. European witch craft and magick was most likely bborn from Gypsy practices.
Man always has a fear of evil spirits even in a darkened room the imagination will take over and create a sort of bogy man that must be placated. Many an early religion were centered on placating an evil bogy with gifts so they people would avoid coming into harm.
Gypsy magic has spells to cure headaches and other sicknesses. Often times these are transferred into a plant or a tree by spitting into and saying a magical incanation. There bare also spells for love and finding stolen objects in fact too many to be listed. Eggshells can used for divinations and to makle boats for witches that would enable them to sail across the sea. Gypsies even have faerie lore. Faeries of air tend to be very unfriendly towards mankind while those of water are ok with man so long as they are near land. Once water faeries get near water they can become dangerous. Land faeries are the ones who will help mankind.
To these Indo Europeans everything has a spirit. The hazelnut houses the spririt of the witch. In fact a necklace of Hazelnuts is used to ward off bad luck. Much like British witch craft the toad is a very important animal. They can be trained like other animals and can give their owners magical powers. Toad are often used in fortune telling. Some beliee that toads are human sould trapped in an animal body only to be set free when the purpose is accomplished . Such purposes could include a pilgrimage to a holy spot.
Gypsy magic is replete with simple rhymes that even children will learn. I have deduced a formula that going from 1-10 would make something larger. This could be used for luck or fortune. While counting backwards from 10 to 1 would make something decrease. That would be something negative.
Gypsies have a neutral view towards witches. Witches are gifted individuals in magic, what is importatnt is how they use this gift. The view towards Gypsies, witches and Jews in Europe has been one of hostility. Gypsies are oft persecuted and witches have been burned alive based on a mere accusation. Gypsies believe that many objects likes swords, rabbit feet and stone can have a conciousness and life force if attached to a person for a long enough time. A sword that has killed enough will aquire a spirit. Sea Shell sem to mean alot to gypsies as they are used to ward off eil. In fact they believe that they can hear supernatuiral; voices if they put the shell up to their ear.
The view seems to shared by others. Now we get to a point where I diverge from one of his statements. He seems to believe that Jewish kabbalists believe they could hear the voice of God in a shell. Good fine and well. But he then goes on to say that they had a ritual where they ritually prepared a child's head and skillfully manipulated the childs ear canals to hear a sound. I am not sure if he meant that tehy took the head of a child who had already been dead, killed a child or if the child was still alive. From my knowledge of Judaism I have never heard of this practice. It seems rather far fetched. The author does elucidate that Christians also sacrificed children and maids by building them into walls to make sure the building did not fall. They Europeans also burned many people alive.
I give the book 4/5 stars. Excellent material on Gypsy spellcraft. The work is dated and many points may have been refuted. There are some errors about other groups that I have noticed and there may be others that nhave slipped my attention.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard
Oberon Zell Raven Heart
Career Press, 2004
It took me a week to read this awesome book and let me tell you it was an adventure. Fact filled loaded with all sorts of information and mind you not just about magick but also information about science, history and mathematics. After all Magick is a science which involves forming hypotheses, experiments and recording your observations.
For anyone just getting started with magick this book is one of those that i would call perfect. It gives you an over view of a variety of magical systems. It covers Ceremonial magick, Wicca, Celtic, alchemy etc. I think you get the idea. The book does make a point of separating magick from religion. It is a book about technique and practice. The author may have written the book for teenagers but I find that iit is an excellent guide for adults.
Oberon Zell writes instructions in an easy to follow fashion. For the first time i now know how to consecrate my magical tool and even have followable instructions on how to engrave them. Awesome. For the first time I know how to plan and perform a ritual whether solitary or for a group. Oberon gives a very easy to understand outline along with concise explanations about what you are supposed to to do to carry out each step. The sigil making part was great any beginner in magic can read the section and know exactly what they are supposed to to. If there is magic then this book will show you how to do it.
The book comes loaded with table and comparisons of different mythologies, times, correspondences and Gods. Use these table as you will find them invaluable in doing your magick. I look forward to reading the author's follow up. Normally I would a summary of the book I read but the information is just too exhaustive. I will refer to this book again and again as I take my steps down the path of magical growth.
Not only is Oberon Zell Ravenheart a great author but his book also has contribution from such magical greats as Raymond Buckland, Donald Michael Kraig, Telesco and Raven Grimassi. This goes beyond any Wicca 101 book put oout by Llewelyn.
I give it a four star rating because despite the excellent content the publisher left out the appendices, index and bibliography. It was supposed to be there and the table of contents has it listed. I contacted the author and he said he would contact the publisher. I am waiting to hear from the publishers.
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