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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,

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Freestyle Sorcery



The Pseudonomicon
Phil Hine, The Falcon Press
2009 , Fourth Printing

A short read that breezes you effectively into Chaos magick. I should warn you however that this book may shake your foundations and give you a different view of magic then what you are used to. Getting to know the deities of the Ctullu mythos is a process that may well lead to madness. But then again why practice magic if you are not ready to have your visions of reality challenged and deconstructed. To fully know the gods is to let their madness was over you. Ctullu is a giant octopus being that dwells in the deeps of the ocean in a city called Ryeleh. When he opens one of his eyes from his sleep it send a psychic ripple across the planet. But if you read HP Lovecraft's Dunwich Horror or Mountains of Madness you would realize that these deities care not a whit for human kind and you may ask yourself why you would wanna work wit such entities?

Phil Hine is a leader in the Chaos Magic community he launches into a short pamphlet sized book on some ways you can work with these deities, advantages and who these deities are. The cool thing I like about Chaos magick is that it is a form of freestyle magic that is based on using techniques that work for you and totally throws out the dogma. Who needs dogma and since when does it bring success or liberation. Most successful people have broken away from dogma and done their own thing. Freethinking.

Working with Ctullu mythos is uncharted territory no one has written extensive works on how to work with these deities. So there is plenty of room to experiment and find what works for you. While it is not said in so many words workibng with the mythos is really about self transformation and change. By merging with these deities into their world you cast spells to change yourself and evolve. To reach these deities you have to go to lonely desolate places usually out there in nature. This is not like the Golden Dawn Temple where you need to practice indoors for best results. Reaching and working with these deities may well involve using means of achieving ecstasy to reach gnosis. Several techniques to reach gnosis are discussed. Techniques include words of power, shape shifting, dream control, slipping into fear and personality deconstruction. Practice this and it will change your life.

Who are these deities in the Ctullu mythos and who would want to worship deities that are in reality fictitious and are the product of HP Lovecraft's imagination. The first being discussed is Yog Soggoth. He is the gate keeper of the Great Old Ones.He is your first experience when dealing with the old ones. Coming into contact with this being may invoke fear and it is this phase that is called "Fear The Beast" It is essential that one try to feel their fear and ananlyze every detail of it. In other words feel it 100 percent. Azazoth is called the blind idiot god. Comparable to a blob with an eye in the Middle. He takes on many forms and then slips back into formlessness, He churns the surface and forms the shapes. This entity challenges us to foranm inner vision and not stay with any form permanently. Azazoth is an experience. Nyalerthrop is the man dressed in black who attends the witches sabbat. He is the gate way to the gods and work with him develops your magician self. Ctullu is already described. Shub Niggurath is the goat of the woods and very reminiscent to pan the goat god. He is the genius loci of the local wild place. Now why work with fictitious deities? A systems effectiveness cannot be measured solely in terms of inner coherence but effectiveness is increased the more one believes in the the system. belief is the central factor. believe in it and it works.

This is a fun book that will help lead ti radical change if adhered to properly which means do what works for you. Most of us use banishing rituals before and after. This sets the mood for a magical working yet one can use other means for entering into the magical mind set. For example silence of soft music can be used to enter into the state as well as to exit the state. Yet what if the magic is still lingering maybe you do not want to banish it right away maybe you wanna discuss or find a less abrupt means of banishing it. It is freestyle magic you do what works for you even if you cannot fully communicate what you have experienced because it is for you only. I enjoyed reading the Feat of ghouls. I will not go into descritptions save that you will wanna check this out yourself. The Most powerful mind cling to the fewest fixed principles.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Middle Eastern Magic


Semitic Magic: It's Origin and DevelopmentSemitic Magic: It's Origin and Development
Thompson, R. Campbell, Bibliolife
1908

The book like it's cover suggest cover the magic of the Middle Eastern population. It focuses primarily in Mesopotamian culture, Hebrew Bible and Muslim religion. Middle Eastern magic focuses primarily on spirits and their ability to do individuals harm. Middle Eastern Wizards had three classes. The first one was the priest who could banish evil spirits in an official capacity.The next two were village healers and shamans. There was a fourth class a black magician who put hexes on people and maybe dealt with love philtres.

In the Middle East there were three classes of spirits who would do wrong to humanity. The first type was the spirit of the deceased. Usually they were disturbed because they were not properly buried or because their relatives were not leaving food and drink offerings. This is prevalent through out all three cultures discussed. Even in Muslim tradition animals would be slaughtered by the grave their blood smeared at different points. In Mesopotamian mythos offering of food and drink were left by the grave so spirits could derive nourishment.

The second type of spirits was the half man half spirit type. Born from the union of demon and human they were said to have inhabited the spirit world.In the bible Asmodeus was example of this. He is mentioned in the book of Tobit as interfering with a marriage as he laid claim to a human female. Tobit burned some foul incense which drove him away. Lilith was another case in point. She was a species of vampire spirit that cohabited with men and drained their life force. She was also conceive children with them. This species had a male and female gender. Ubartu spirits also mated with human being.

The third type was strictly spiritual. They were called Sheidim in Hebrew and were often described as goat like in appearance. Islamic and Mesopotamian mythology mention these jinn or demaons. They inhabited rivers, lakes , abandoned areas and desert wastelands. One had to avoid such areas in order to avoid harm. When building on new land or moving into a house sacrifices were made to the spirits living their so as not to offend them. Interesting that Iron and loud noises are also offensive to them. Very similiar to faeries.

When someone was plagued by the evil spirits the remedy was often to transfer the demon to another object. The object could be water, clay figures or animals. Transference was used to treat illnesses and possessions. The Demon would be driven into the object and would either be imprisoned or destroyed. Water and salt were agents of cleansing. Much like European witchcraft circles were cast to protect practitioners and secure a magical working space.

Demon usually assaulted people and their homes when they were offended by someone. This could be because a human being broke a Tabu or prohibition or something that was they were not supposed to like marry a human that a demon was love with or touching a corpse. Cleansing rituals were performed and sacrifices were made. Sacrifices were supposed to take the place of the victim.

The last part of the book talks about the sacrifice of the first born. Usually when a first born male is born an animal is sacrificed. The first born belong to the gods. This maybe a carry over of a time when the first born children were actually killed in a sacrifice. Maybe they were even eaten.

Scholarly book with lots of good information. It include models of incantations that were used to ward off harmful spirits but no full rituals are included. The book is dated and often times indigenous populations are referred to as savages.

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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