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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ritual and Cult at Ugarit

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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

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

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

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

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

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



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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

An Ogham Wood

An Ogham Wood
Cliff Seruntine, Avalonia Publications
March, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not even Goth or Craft 101

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


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

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

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

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

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




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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Lunar Huntress


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wyrd Working




Wyrdworking
Alaric Albertssson, Llewyllyn
2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

this book get 4 stars out of five.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oak King

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

Oak Lord:

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

Holly King:

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

Oak Lord:

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

Holly King:

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

Oak Lord:

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

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

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

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

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

She places the Oak Crown on his head and says:

"Hail and Welcome to the Oak King!"

Everyone except Lord Holly repeats:

"Hail and Welcome to the Oak King!"

Lord Holly steps forward and says:

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

The Oak King replies:

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

"Hail, the Oak King."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wisewoman of Cornwall




Village Witch
Cassandra Latham-Jones, Troy Books
2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Abir Yaacob volume 2


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

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

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

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

Baba-Sali

Baba-Sali
Holy Morroccan Sage engaged in Prayer

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