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Friday, June 25, 2010

The Complete Book of Incence, Oils and Brews


An awesome book or making your own ritual supplies by Scott Cunningham. He tells you the process of making both combustible and non-combustible incense. To make a powdered incense that you burn with charcoal the process is relatively easy. All you have to do is grind up the herbs with a mortar and pestle and you are ready. You throw it on the charcoal and it burns. When making an incense you have to focus on the reason why you are making it. This means selecting the right herbs and focusing on our intent while you are making the incense. Fortunately for novices like me Scott Cunningham has included recipes for a variety of purposes. He also has a table that tells us what the different herbs are meant for.

Before using the incense you are supposed too charge it. Light a candle appropriate to the the purpose you want it for. Then hold the mixture in your hands and visualize yourself with a lot of money or falling in love with someone. Then tense your muscles from the feet up. and say by the sun and the moon I charge you to...feel free to make up your own words. To fit the situation.

Oils are also described. You will have to buy your own essential oils because to make them would bee very costly. To make your own ritual oil start off with base of an oil like safflower oil, sunflower oil,Coconut, Apricot Kernel oil, Jojoba, Almond, Hazelnut and Grape seed. You will need about 1/8 of a cup after that add in drops of essential oil to flavor it.

After a description of oils Mr. Cunningham decide to describe how to make ointments. There are several methods to making an ointment. The first is the shortening method. Take four parts vegetable shortening and heat it up and then add one part of your herbal mixture. Once the scent has permeated strain it through a cheese cloth in to a container. The next is the beeswax method. Put one fourth a cup of beeswax into a double boiler and add 1/4 cup of one of the above mentioned oils. Once melted remove from heat and when it begins to thicken then you can add your essential oils.

The author also describes how to do ink and tincture. Tincture basically involve soak herb in ethyl alcohol not rubbing alcohol. For this one would soak the herb and then strain into a container. Can be used much like an oil would.

This is a great book loaded with great information. In the back there is a substantial bibliography for further reference. Scott Cunningham culls his knowledge from a variety of sources. Anything by Scott Cunningham is a must read.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Witchcraze by Anne Barstow


The witch hunts rocked European society during the Middle Ages. Scores of women were wiped out on the accusation that they were witches. Author Anne Barstow examine this phenomena that hit Europe and America. Numerous studies on the Witch hunts have been documented by several authors and they have yielded up great information. This author takes a new twist the witch hunts were meant to oppress women. They were based on male hatred of women.

In most countries up to 90% of those accused of witchcraft were women. Very few of those accused were men. Only in Russia was the ratio reversed. Often times women were thee more vulnerable members of society hence it was easier to target them for witchcraft. Most of those accused lived in poverty, were elderly, widowed and somewhat outspoken.

The reasons behind the accusation beside the fear and superstition were complex. Sometimes after a dispute with a women someone's family member would all of the sudden become ill. The woman would be accused of witchcraft. Women who were single found them selves most vulnerable, especially if they owned land. If they were accused of witchcraft and found guilty the accusing party often ended up taking the land. Since women were vulnerable rival families would accuse each others women of practicing witchcraft. This would besmirch the family's name and harm the family.

Most women when accused of witchcraft were found guilty . Once accused women were often tortured until thy gave a confession. This could be done by head dunking, pin pricking, the stretching wrack and hot metal. Women were subjected to a body search where in they were stopped naked and had their body parts probed by males. One of the things they found was a witches teet. An area on the female body that was very numb. Supposedly that was where thee demon would feed off of her blood.

The church hierarchy itself felt threatened by the village healers. the wisewomen often served many roles in the village. They served magical needs, psychologist and healers. The priests also wanted to play psychologist and minister to mystical need. The wisewomen posed a threat. This threat was dealt with via the witch trials.

Often times witch trials had heavy sex connotation associated with them. Many of the priests and witch hunters once they had imprisoned a women gave her a full body search and tortured her. This gave a legal cover for these men to sexually over the women and have their way with them. Women were often raped while being imprisoned and many died. The witchhunts were by and large used to control women and keep them in their place.

There are some reasons why witch hunts increased in their intensity. One reason was economics. When economic times were hard job competition increased . Working women obviously posed a problem. Another factor in the increased intensity of witch hunts. Was the adoption of a Nationalized Roman law which focused on punishment. This superseded local village law which focused more on addressing grievances and restoring peace.

One more word about geography. In Germanic areas the persecution were the most fierce. On the periphery of Europe and in the Mediterranean they were less fiecre. In Germanic areas women were burned at the stake. In Ireland there were no witch hunts. In England torture was not allowed and those found guilty of witchcraft were hung. In Italy the death penalty was less frequent.

This book is good primer for those wanting to understand the basic of the witch trials.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"The Hebrew Goddess" by Raphael Patai


Many people may not know it but the Jewish religon through out it's history worshipped a Goddess or at least a feminine life force. First it started out with the worshiping of a Canaanite Goddess Ashera. THrough out the Bible there are constant references to the Israelite worshipping Ashera in the high places and at trees. THis was especially prevalent during Biblical times up until the the Babylonian Exile. THe Israelites have constantly had a debate about worshipping other Gods beside Yahweh. THe prophets have veighed against the worship of Canaanite Baals. However,Asherah cults were never persecuted like the Baals were. THe Israelites also paid Homage to another Goddess from the Canaanite Pantheon, Anattu. She was called Ashtoret in the Bible and reference was made to her in the book of Jeremiah. THe Israelites used to bake cakes as an offering to the Queen of Heaven. They blame their calamity on the fact that they discontinued their worship of Ashtoret. Goddess worship was first introduced into Jerusalem from his idol worshipping wife. Other kings brough it into the temple. The qwueen of Heaven was alaso worshipped in Egypt on the Elephantine Fortress.

THe idea of the femeinine divine evolved with the Cherubim in the Temple who were guarding the Ark of the covenant. Some reports say that the Cherubim were in a sexual embrace. THis would be emabarrasing for the Jews to admit. Their were Cherubim on the curtains of the temple. THe motif of two angels facing eachother is used in Northern Israelite art work, Egyptian ad Phoenicain. It is widely believe that the Israelites got the idea from the Phoenicains. One of the Cherubim was male and the other was female. THe Cherubim faced other when the Israelites were peaceful but when the Israelites engaged in sin the Cherubim faced away from each other. THwe Cherubim also represented the cloud of glory which their God rode upon. It should be noted that Baal was the storm God who rode on clouds. THese attributes later went to the Israelite God.

In Canaanite literature and mythology G Deities oftern had two names which would make for some confusion. Anattu was at time called Ashtoret. Ashera was also called Elath. Ashera was at times mistakenly called Ashtoreth and also took on characteristics of Anattu. Baal was called Hadad. THe Canaanite Gods and Goddesses also had counter parts and equivalent in other Far Eastern and Middle Eastern Religions. Annattue corresponded with Ishar and Isis from Babylon and Egypt. Inanna was her Sumerian name and Anahita was her Persian Armenian name.

Like other pantheons the ISraelites had what was called a tetrad or family of Gods. The sacred name of God called Yud Hay Vav Hay was broken apart when the Israelites sinned. yod hay were broken away from vav and hay. Yod corresponded to El the father god while the first Hay corresponded to Ashera. Vav qwas the son of the two and the second hay correspondded to the daughter. In most pantheon the mother and father Goddess bear offspring and then retreat into the higher heaven. Baal and Anattu then took over the direct affairs of the earth.

Even after the Israelites went strictly monotheist in ANcioent time it was realiozed that Ashera was the consort of Elohim. THe faemale life force know as matronite came together from the Kabballists. She was Anattu in another form the divine wife of Ball. In Kabbalistic terms she was called the matronite or mother. She could be warlike, wanton, mothering and viginal. She went with the ISraelites into their exile.

According to legend when the Israelite sinned excessively they were exiled. The Israelite God sent his wife away with them. Since she was sent away Samael the prince of evil ANgels captured hder and had his way with her. In the mean time God chose to take on a hand made an her name was Lilitith. To the end the exile the Israelites had to atone for there sins and bring the Matronite back to unity with the God Head.

Bringing them back together was the Job of the Israelites and they had a strategy called Yichudiim. This basicaly was bringing the masculine and feminine aspects of Godhead togthere again. This could be done by doing good deeds or saying an intention that you act of dvinity was designed to bring the Godhead back to unity. Yichudim also had otrher functions. One was an exorcsims to drive away Dybbuks who possesed people. Even a husband and wifen coupling in holiness could be a yichud.

Lilith herself has a long history dating back into Sumerian times. She was part of a demon race called Lilin which had both male and female demons. Theywere vampiric and vistied people in the night. From these unions came demon offspring. Her treehouse was destroyed by Gilgamesh and she fled into the desert.

In Hebrew mytrhology she started off as Adam's wife. Supposedly she was created before him and from inferior elements. She refused to submit to Adam caliming herself as equal. She later went into the desert and coupled with demon and animals. All sorts of perverted offspring came of that union. She later forced Adam against his will. In other legend she came back as the queen of Sheba and tried to trcik Solomon.

Other aspects of femeione divinity are the Sabbath who is the odd day out. Every other day is coupled wioth another day. The Sabbath is coupled with the ISraelites. THE Ethipion Jews give the Sabbath a seperate consoiusness and save those sinner who at least keep the Sabbath. In Safed religiousd men would greet the Sabbath quenn and then couiple with their wives.

In conclusion it must be said that real or not the feminine went into exile and guarded the Jewsih [people during their exile. Some times mystics heard her in mediations and dreams dreams. Other times she hung out in Babylonian synagogues. Even in art work it was expres often times borrowing motifs from surrounding idolatrous religions.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Other Zions by Eric Maroney


Jewish history has been viewed by two paradigms. The Jews with in their own land enjoying political independence and Jews living in the Diaspora under the yoke of a gentile government. What has been neglected is Jewish state craft outside the holy land. Jews living in communities outside of Israel have often lived in autonomous communities. They would run their day to day affair while religious authorities governed religious life. The community would pay its taxes and be left to run its affairs. The Jewish courts and religious leadership was run by the Rabbis. Rabbinical Judaism eschewed political power. None the less it provided the Jewish people with a model for self governance.

The ten lost tribes of Israel, their disappearance is mystery where did they go to. There were many legends that stated the Israelite Tribes had powerful Kingdoms somewhere further to the East. The Red Jews where supposedly locked up by Alexander the Great behind some big mountain and would one day reappear to wreak havoc on Christian Europe for all the trouble they caused their Jewish minority. Other stories abound about an Israelite Kingdom just beyond the Sambatyon River that roes with stones and only stops on the Sabbath. They are so powerful that Pester John has built fortifications along the river to stop any military advance. To the non-Jews this evoked fantasies of the Israelites taking vengeance or possibly helping them take the Holy Land from the Muslim. For the Jews who were powerless and dispossessed it was a fantasy to be relished.

Eldad Ha Dani was a dark skinned Jew who showed up in Europe according to him around 4 tribes had held dominion somewhere in Africa. They lived under no gentile yolk in the mountains and people paid them tribute. It is questionable how much of what he says is real.

Never the less there was a sort of Jewish autonomy in Ethiopia. In the hill country of Lake Tana there was a tribal federation of Jews that was independent from the king. The big question is where did these Jews come from? Some thought they were from a Union of Queen Sheba and Solomon, other say they were from the Tribe of Dan still even other say they came from Yemen and Elephantine in Egypt. Ethiopian Christianity and Judaism follow many commandments from the Old Testament. The Ethiopian used a language called Geez and they had no Hebrew document or history of using the tongue. They also hired Christian scribes to write their holy books.

Ethiopian Jews had very little in common with Rabbinic Judaism. They had monastic practices among other differences. They sprung from Ethiopian Christian in defiance to political authority. None the less they immigrated to Israel because a Rabbi said they were from the Tribe of Dan.

The most famous example of Jewish state craft outside of Israel is the kingdom of Khazaria. They were located around the black sea in Russia. There are various legends as to their origin and how they became Jewish. Hasdai Ibn Shaprut wrote to them and was in contact with the King named Joseph. The King and al the Noble were Jewish. King Bulan was the first king to adopt a simple version of Judaism. It is said that he had dream from God and from that Dream he chased out all the Wizard and Shamans. It was King Obadiah who brought the Kingdom up to date with Rabbinical Judaism. There are questions as to how Jews the Kingdom was. Some sources say that the entire kingdom was Jewish but Arab traveler like Ibn Fadlan said that Khazaria had a mix of Christian, Jews and Muslim, along with Pagan. They had a court much like a Sanhedrin which was comprised of members of all faiths. Bulan also staged debates between the three main monotheistic religions in order to determine which one was best for the Kingdom.

Another legend says that a group of Jews fled from Armenia due to oppression by idol worshippers. They had their Torah scrolls hidden in a cave. When the Jews came to Khazaria they melded with the population and their Judaism became watered down. Back then they had warlords who took command when the country was under attack. Once such warlord was Sabriel, a Jew. After being militarily victorious he fond the scrolls and was elected king. From that point on he re Jewifies the country.

The Hazards would later fall to the Russ Vikings.

Other examples of Jewish state craft took place in Arabia. In Northern Arabia the Jews many who fled from Roman oppression adopted to the life style of the Arabs. Some Arabs became Jewish and /or borrowed Jewish customs. In Northern Arabia there were city-states that were founded by Jews. Medina and Khaybar are such examples. These Jews were powerful and wealthy. Muhammad and his introduction to Islam would change all that.

In Medina their were three Jewish Tribes and two non Jewish tribes. Their were alliances and conflicts. Muhammad was known as an astute judge. Some how the table turned and Muhammad turned against the Jews. The first two tribes were made to leave and they went to Khaybar. The last one chose to fight. They were defeated by Muhammad’s forces after putting up stiff resistance. All the men were killed and the women and children were sold into slavery.

Khaybar son would fall as well. Expected help would never arrive and their were induced in to platitude by Muhammad's delay of invading them. Eventually he did attack and the Jews of Khaybar put up stiff resistance. Eventually they surrendered and had to give up half their crop in tribute. This impoverished the Jews. Many chose to convert to Islam to escape the heavy tax burden. Eventually the community melted away. There were rumors of Jewish Tribes wandering around Arabia even up until modern times.

further to South the Himyarite Kingdom came to fruition. This was located in Yemen. They became a powerful kingdom and had an impact of Arabian society in general. King Tuba went to wage war on Medina the Jewish city state. Instead of invading he ended up meeting two Rabbis and became so impressed with their sagacity that he ended converting to Judaism. Eventually the Whole kingdom became Jews. He took on Jewish wife and had several children. Joseph Dhu Nawas either an offspring or grandchild completed thing and brought the kingdom up to speed with Rabbinical Judaism.
However thanks to Wars against Ethiopia and Christianity that kingdom was soon over run. A puppet king ws installed and Ethiopian soldiers took advantage of the Land. eventually there was another Jewish uprising against the rule.

Another example of Jewish State craft was the State of Adiabene located i Northern Mesopotamia i the Parthian Empire which was at odds with the Roman empire. The Roman Empire was oppressing the Jews of Judea. Josephus has a story that two Jews came to a province in Parthia and usurped the area and made it their own. The King of Parthia two busy to do other things reluctantly agreed to it.

Another version has king Monzabus marrying his sister Helena and having a child with her called izates. in a dream it was determined that he was destined for great things. Monzabus began practicing Judaism or a primitive form of monotheism. When he died Izates took the thrown. At first he did not formally convert due to fear of alienating the populace. Helena and Izates would later on be influenced to do a full conversion. They were noted for their scrupulousness in observance of Miztvot.

The final hope for a homeland was in Russia and it was called the Jewish Autonomous republic. On paper it is still there. In reality not many Jews live there. It was designed to be a buffer state between Russia and China. It never really took off due to antisemitism and primitive living condition. Yiddish was to be it's official language. In Europe at the Time there were three trend regarding the Jewish problem. One was assimilation, another autonomy and the other Zionism. We obviously know who won the

e day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Happiness Bears no Relation by Adina Hoffman


Taha Muhammad Ali a poet from Nazareth, perhaps you have never heard of him or his story. Had it not been for this wonderful book by Adina Hoffman, an AMerican Jew who made Aliya to Israel, I would not hhave known about him either. When one thinks of Palestinian poets one thinks of Mahmoud Darwish, Samih Quassim or even Rashid Hussein.

Taha started out in the small largely unheard of village called Suffuria. A Palestinian village build on the biblical village Sephoris. It has been inhabited since Canaanite times and the people who dwelt there may well have been related to ancient Canaanites. Before Taha was born his mother and father had several children die during child birht. Most were males and the mother and father had named or at least tried to name them Taha. Finally this one survived. Taha always had good busines skills. He would convince a merchant to give him some eggs, usually on credit and at the end of the day after Taha had sold them he would pay back the farmer. He was in away the bread winner of the family. He later expanded into sellig candies and sodas. Village life was rather nice until world political winds finally blew in on his town.

Once while tending the families sheep four Israeli war planes flew over his village and bombed it. The whole village pretty much fled and taha's family went to Lebanon. It was there that they lived in Tents but even their Taha's busines acumen came in handy. He ended up selling rations and was profitabl up to the point that while they were in Quarone they were able to rent an apartment. Later on the family would return to what is now called Israel.

The ISraeli never did allow the residents of Saffuria to return to their village. Instead many chose to live in Reina and other surrounding villages. For along time they were not permitted to own id and technically were not allowed inside of Israel. THose caught without IDs wold be expelled to Jordan. This happened to Taha one time and he just snuck back in. Eventually they were given ids but the palestinians in the North were subjet top conmsant curfew and travel restircitions. Up until 1966 they were living under Martial Law. THe Shin bety would often harrass poets and ohter intellectual members of the poetic resistance. Mahmoud Darwish later left as a result.

For most of his life Taha ran a souvenir shop in Nazareth. Writing poetry and publsihing his works did not come until; later let us ssay he started getting big at around 57 years old. As he got bigger he started traveling and people enjoyed his poetry. He was niether bitter about his past and his poetry was not the poetry of resistance. Rather it was down to Earth and human. THe 1947 Nakhba cause untold pain to many people. AMira Taha's intended had to remain in Lebanon. They never got married. THE residents of Saffuria got a fraction of the land they used to own.

Adina is one of many American/ ISraeli Jews who are informing the public about the plight of the Palestinians.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind

Richard Cypher aka Richard Rahl has defeated his evil father by using the Wizard's First Rule and having him open the wrong box of Orden. But all is not well. The veil between the living and the Underworld has been torn and the Keeper wants to take over our world. THe story opens in the People's Palace of Dhara. Richard is the new emperor but he is reluctant to assume the throne. In fact he is with the Mud people. Zed the wizard, Chase and his newly adopted daugthter are in the people's palace when a vile creature from the underworld called a Screeling is let lose in the people palace. It kills many people and injures them as well. It is is finally killed when Zed heats up the water and somehow freezes the Screeling. Only then can it be killed. After this episode Zed realizes that the has to travel all the way to Aydindril.

Kahalan the mother confessor and Richard end up with the Mud people. Scarlett a red Dragon flies them their. Richard can call upon the dragon any time. Scarlett hated Darken Rahl. While hanging out with the Mudpeople Kahlan and Richard formulate wedding plans. These get scuddled when the sisters of light show up offering Richard a way to deal with his heaqaches caused by his newly emerging subractive and additive magical abilities. THe headaches he is told could kill him. Wedding plans scuttled and Richard is collared with a Rada Han. Sister Verna escorts him through the lost desert, the land of the Majendie and Du Chaillu's land. Richard is rebelious at having to where the collar and fights it every step of the way.




Zed meets with his own adventure. He hooks up with an old freind Adie and both are attacked by a creature from the underworld called a Skrin. The bite makes them sick and the cure causes them to forget who they are. THey wont recover their memories untiol they reach Adydindril.

Kahlan after setting Richard off to the Palace of the prorphets heads to Aydindril. Along the way she must battle a new threat, the new inperial order wghich ravages any city that resists it. Kahaln and a stalwart army take the battle to the New world order but once in Aydindril kahlan is in for a surprise. She is accused of treason and murder and is publicly executed in front of everyone, or so they think. Richard eventually gets free from the Palace and the ending I wil leave to you to read.

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Baba-Sali
Holy Morroccan Sage engaged in Prayer

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