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Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Book Dwarves

Root, Stone and Bone: Honoring Andvari and the Vaettir of MoneyRoot, Stone and Bone: Honoring Andvari and the Vaettir of Money by Galina Krasskova

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I have enjoyed previous works written by Galina Krasskova immensely. I might have enjoyed this one a little bit more had it been cheaper or longer. If I pay $16.00 for a book it should be at least 150 pages or longer. If it is 57 pages worth or reading material then it should bee priced at no more than $10. That being said there is not a whole lot of information about Andvari. There might be on or two references to him in surviving Norse Lore. What follows is mostly unverified personal gnosis of interactions between andvari and those who work with him. I have nothing against UPG's but hey if you are going to right a book get more experiences down. Or if there is not enough material on one dwarf then gather information on several other living being in Norse lore and write about them.



Andvari is a dwarf, of the race Duegar, which may not be human friendly but Andvari is human friendly. He lives beneath a mountain mining ore and making exquisite jewelery. The only story that he is mentioned in involves Loki the trickster God. Loki apparently steals from Andvari and Andvari does not so much as utter a complaint. He does warn Loki that the ring is cursed. I guess Loki did not listen. Loki was also involved with being the God Father top Narvi, Andvari's son. In an alternate telling Loki, a jotun, is seeking a nice wedding gift for Sygyn, foster daughter of Njord the sea god. He gets a ring and nice Jewelry after acting as the dwarf's wife a for a bit. They have children together.



Andvari is a dwarf yet some of the dedications to him call him a god. I never knew that a dwarf could be a god. I guess I have a bit to learn. Andvari is all about owning up to what is your your whether it be personal difficulties or issues. Andvari is also about earning money justly and spending it appropriately and not wasting it. Andvari is anti hoarding. This little known dwarf also wants you to put in quality performance on your job and earn your money rightly.



The book which is a smaller than most magazines would have benefitted from more personal stories. Out side of that it was concise information that readily got the point across. There are some great references in the back. Due to shortness of content I would not advise buying this book.





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Friday, March 23, 2012

The Octavo : Grimoire of the Round World

The Octavo: A Sorcerer-Scientist's GrimoireThe Octavo: A Sorcerer-Scientist's Grimoire by Peter J. Carroll

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Ever world has a secret grimoire that contains the magical secrets of the world. For the Disc world, Terry Pratchett’s creation, that Grimoire is called the Octavo. Thus far Earth’s or should I say roundworld’s grimoire is yet to be be discovered. In Discworld it is buried and guarded. Roundworld’s Grimoire has only been revealed in fractured or fragmented form.

Roundworld is much different from Discworld in many ways. To name but a few, Discworld rests on the back of a turtle and is supported by 4 elephants. The Roundworld is of course a round sphere but more on that later. In Discworld the speed of light is slower and there is less causality. That makes magic more effective and more relied upon. What follows is a definite scientific grimoire that is loaded with mathematical and scientific equations along with rituals of Chaos magic.

Chaos magic is hard to define. You have to read up on it. Every Chaos magian will have a different definition of what Chaos magic is. Peter J. Carrol is a foremost Chaos magician.
His view of the universe and the gods is clear concise and understandable. The physics and science part went way over my head. I think on a deeper level the two are interconnected. I tend to think that most magicians are not too mathematically minded.

I managed to jot down a few notes, perhaps several. The first chapter dealt with the developement of magic and the mental mapping of the world. The first map was the Shamanistic and it was no more than the sky above perhaps no deeper than the first few feet of Earth. Their vision went perhaps to the next valley over. Their magic which affected the crops was simple yet effective.

The Greco Pagans had better maps ones that we would call psychology. It was a map of the inner realms or the mind. They had their mystery schools and developed and grew along with the agricultural stuff. But too many schools of thought were hard to manage so in the age of empires came about monotheism. This allowed the physical map to expand at the expense of the psychological map. Everything was monochrome good and evil. The fourth era was atheism.. This gave us a map of an awesome universe. Believing in Gods or a God became more and more difficult. The fifth era a burgeoning of magical thought divorced from religion.

Our universe is made up of three level. The first level is the microcosm which is obvious. The next is the Midocosm which is our level of things and lastly the macrocosm which is the heavens above. Our previous maps of the universe and its creation were wholly inaccurate. It is neither, flat, round or ever expanding. Rather it is in the shape of a hyper sphere. The entire universe is made up of hyperspheres that are spinning. Some in the same direction and some in the opposite. The ones that spin in the opposite direction manage to cling together. The book contains eight spells.
The author includes Chaos versions of banishing rituals and it’s view of the Gods. by the way it may be of interest to note that the author poses forward that the Gods are all imaginary but are effective tools for magic. The universe contains certain amount of randomness that can be alter and manipulated. Don’t expect miracles magic takes time on round world. Perhaps my favorite part of the book is the appendix which tells how to invoke different imaginary deities in the enochian and other languages. Enjoy the Chaos it is liberating.




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Monday, March 19, 2012

High Magic's Aid

High Magic's AidHigh Magic's Aid by Gerald B. Gardner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Gerald Gardner was the founder of Modern Wicca. Prior to his releasing the knowledge of Wicca he wrote a book under the pseudonym "Scire" which was supposedly his magical name or craft name. The book convers primarily Ceremonial or Solomonic ritual in a fictional context. It may not be the highest form of literature but it was a quick entertaining read which I found inspiring and pleasurable.



THe story starts off with Olaf Bonder bound in a triangle just outside a circle. Since he is a virgin he is more able to recieve signals from the spirits. The spirits tell him to find a certain Witch, The Witch of Were. Olaf is Jan's younger brother, and Jan is the one who want top reclaim his grandfather's estate and become a lord again. Thur their mentor is the town leech and a magician of sorts.



Together they group off to find the witch of were who is infact a priestes of the old religion. When they find her in a malnourished state they are somewhat disappointed, especially Jan. THe group barely escape with their life. THey travel into London and wonder at the marvels their.



Jan is slow to convince, Olaf sems preconvinced. Thur and Morwen work together casting spells, charging sigils and seals all with the effort of helping Jan retake his stolen inheritance. Along the way they are doged by church officials and a very controlling mother.



The reader is treated to front row seat of several rituals of both witch craft and high magical workings. THe book is a product of it's time and deals more with Ceremonial magic. The Old religion is mentioned but the Goddes so central to Wicca is hardly mentioned. Janicot the God is mentioned plenty. For those who are into Gerald Gardner and Wicca I reccomend this book to you. THose who like this genre should get teh book as well.



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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Crafting Wiccan Traditions

Crafting Wiccan Traditions: Creating a Foundation for Your Spiritual Beliefs & PracticesCrafting Wiccan Traditions: Creating a Foundation for Your Spiritual Beliefs & Practices by Raven Grimassi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Since the 1980's the face of Wicca has changed greatly. During the 60's and 70's much of it was coven based and the publications on Wicca were rather rare. In the next millennium most Wiccans are solitary and practice the religion by themselves. Solitaires will perchance attend workshops and public celebration. Most of their knowledge comes from book. Scott Cunningham, one of Raven's students, helped bring about that change. Author Raven Grimassi recognizes and validates this change at the same same time he recognizes and validates the older traditions and roots of the craft. Surely Wicca is changing. I for one have no access to a coven and many people find covens to require to much involvement. Some of us want a group so we can band together and grown together. It is never a good idea to go through spiritual growth in isolation. Many people are now forced into creating their own tradition, something I consider very valid inlight of how Gardner invented or created his tradition and from what I have read while studying chaos magick theories.

I took some notes while reading this book. I was rather taken off guard when I learned that there are many Wiccans who are eschewing the practice of magic and keeping Wicca to just a spiritual religion. No less I did take a few notes on this book. Gnome= Earth , sylphs= air
Salamander = fire. Undines= water.

Watchers or guardian are a race of spiritual being that watch over man kind.

Other world is place of elves and faery races while the underworld is abode of the dead awaiting rebirth. Much like Summerland. Gods have there own dwelling place.

Two types of magick. Raised Magick is generated from within and drawn magick comes from outside the material realm.

Astral realm is where thought are transformed into material. A thought form is etheric substance bound to thought. A strong will, empowered visuization draws Astral substance to itself.

Thought forms once completed travel to the elemental realm which consists of earth, fire, water, air. Once absorbing qualities needed then it heads to the material realm.

Space between the worlds occurs when circle Is cast. Is between spiritual and material realms.

Outside of my notes which covered magic and Wicca in general, the author gives the reader vital information on how to get started in building their own tradition. The importance in finding a theme with which to build your paradigm which could include agricultural themes, other worldly themes etc. Raven also tells us to research the different mythologies ie Greek, Celtic, Mesopotamian, Egyptian so we can choose one to work with. He advises against matching deities across different mythologies as this may short circuit any action we are doing. Plus the deities themselves are known not to like such things. It even wise to be careful how you pair up deities from the same tradition. There is a full overview of tools and what their symbolism is along with a full complement of correspondences regarding herbs and stones. This books gives you the building blocks for creating your own tradition along with how to construct your own book of shadows.

The appendices are great. They have sample sabbat and lunar rights in both group and solitaire format. Definitely a great book. Raven Grimassi always produced top notch stuff.




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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Violent War Goddess

The Goddess Anat in Ugaritic MythThe Goddess Anat in Ugaritic Myth by Neal H. Walls

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Goddesses like Anat of the Ugaritic Pantheon are bad to the bone tough and very independent. This kind of girl is threatening to most males, especially ones from the ancient middle east. I did her though. She does what she wants, rants and raves until she achieves what she wants to achieve. Most of us could use that kind of quality which is why I dig her so much.

Neal H. Walls gives us a scholarly treatment of this Ancient Ugaritic Goddess that is both thorough and readable. Not too many books qualify and enlightening and enjoyable. This book does it. Not only did I learn about the Goddess Anat but I also learned a lot about Ancient Mediterranean attitudes toward women, other goddesses and different ways of looking at Anat.

Ancient culture was primarily male dominated with women being forced to stay home and watch the family. Men did the hunting, politics and made all the major decisions. Women had no control or say. A woman who did not get married and have children was deemed threatening to the fabric of a male dominated society. Three types of Goddesses were viewed as threatening, virgin goddesses, warrior goddess and erotic goddesses. One reason , they could not be controlled.

Goddesses like Artemis lived outside the pale. Artemis lived in the woods and hunted and did masculine sorts of things. Men viewed her a threat, in fact when men made advances toward here they often died. Virgin goddesses did not give their power away rather they kept it and held onto it. Another example which Anat is compared to is the Indian Goddess , Durga, who is the virgin who fights the demon Mahissa. She never gives it up and death to the man who tries to entice her.

Anat is compared to Kali and Inana. Kali the Indian Goddess is violent, chaotic and considered an an aspect of Shakti. She fights her opponents drinks their blood and decorates her body with hands and heads of her opponent. Kali comes complete with fangs and even drinks blood like vampires. Inanna/ Ishtar is a bipolar, liminal goddess of love and war. It seems one time she was Inanna the Goddess of love but then became conflated with Ishtar the Goddess of War. Anat is most often compared to Inanna/Ishtar but the two are not the same despite similarities.

Scholarly opinion has often looked through a fertility paradigm when analyzing the Baal Ugarit Cycle. Neal H. Walls does not feel this is correct. The myths stand on their own and must be viewed in proper Ugaritic context. Neal H. Walls examines the story almost line by line and gives the reader different scholarly opinions on how to interpret the text. For the purposes of the review that subject nor in depth analysis of the stories can be provided.

Needless to say Anat has been called the virgin goddess of love an war. What exactly does virgin mean. The author gives over the interpretation that it means young teen age maiden who is ready for marriage. At times Anat is called a Damsel. Different opinions call her the mother of peoples, progenitress of heroes and warriors or perhaps to a certain tribe. Every year a maiden was supposed to be selected to represent Anat which is where the relationship could come from. Her relationship with Baal is rather a challenge to define as well. At times she is referred to as his sister, at other times it appears as if she is his consort or lover. The revealed texts never quite show them in an erotic relationship. Although Anat does assist Baal in his battle and she does advocate for his cause to help get his own castle built on Mount Sapon in Lebanon. Exactly who Baal's father is remains to be solved. Everyone is quite sure that Anat is the daughter of El and Astarte, Baal is a different story. Is El his father or is Dagon, the God of Grain his real father. This of course impacts his relationship with Anat. Who is Baal's mother? Something never answered.

Anat can get real violent and kick but. She slays the God of Death, Mot, and used him as fertilizer. She slays Baal's foes and decorates her body with their hands and heads. She kills Aquat to get his bow and he turns down her request. Virgin are seen as taking a males masculinity which is represented by the bow. Anat also threatens El , the king of the Gods with bloodshed and tells him to build a castle for Baal or else. Some say that El is rather frightened other interpretations give that El is indulgent of a rebellious adolescent female.

Anat is the perennial adolescent. Youthful vigorous taking what she wants, assertive and independent. She is also very liminal and hard to define. Her character trait are androgynous with her dressing half like a man and half like a women. She is even described as having a beard. Hard to define. Have fun with this I loved the book and I love the Goddess Anat.



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Friday, March 9, 2012

Making a Sigil

Practical Sigil Magic: Creating Personal Symbols for SuccessPractical Sigil Magic: Creating Personal Symbols for Success by U. D. Frater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Frater UD is one of the premier Ceremonial Magicians in Europe. He is a master of Ceremonial and he is also a Chaos Magician. Many who are unfamiliar with him might be familiar with a concept he invented called "Ice Magick" .



Sigils or pictographic symbol of what we desire to obtain was first developed by Austin Osman Spare. He was an artist and he was educated by a witch at an early age. Being a bit of a rebel he tended to be a free thinker who definitely did not believe in conformity. He practiced practical magic that was free from dogma and tended to be about what work for the magician.



Sigil making is one of the corner stones of Chaos magick. The most common technique is to write out a statement of intent. IT is beneficial to start your state words like it is my will, this is my will or my desire is. You write out your statement and then cross out every other letter. Take the remaining letters put them together and make design. Once that part is completed you objective is to stare it in either a heightened state of frenzy or exhaustion so it can slip into the subconscious. After that you then destroy it by fire or by tearing it up



There are two other types of sigils. The second type is the picture sigil. THis involves taking known glyphs and combining them to make a new design. There making and execution is the same as the first type of sigil. The third type of sigil involves taking a statement of intent crossing out the duplicate letter and then making a new gibberish phrase or some word of power. This said aloud and over and over again until it makes no sense or produces a sense of stupefaction. Then it dissolves in your mind.



Frater UD goes further into Austin Osman Spares philosophy by discussing he alphabet of desire. This involves letting the subconscious take control of your hand and allowing it to tell you it's symbol for words and concepts. After a while you will have your own well built up dictionary.



There is also discussion on Kabbalistic Kameah and the prevailing view of the subconscious, the sensor and the conscious. Your power comes from the subconscious. In parting I like to say that the magicians two major tools are the will and the imagination.





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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Defrense Against the Witches

Defences Against the Witches' CraftDefences Against the Witches' Craft by John Canard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Like the book's title says it is about how defend yourself against a curse using techniques taught to him by an English Cunning person. THe material is derived from Folk traditions and grimoires. Of course over the centuries there has defintiely been crossover as the cunning folk used material learned from Grimoires as they did their roots.



John Canard brings it down to the basics and he does it in a real common sense way. The first things he talks about is the feeling you have been cursed. If you feel you have been cursed as it is easy to feel so especially if things start going wrong then you should take soem anticursing measures and defend yourself. The state of mind if you don't may ultimately do you harm. This helps to get control ofthe situation.



To fight against a curse the author usually indicates that is someone you usually know. He tells you how to find them out using some very magical and various mundane ways. It is really logical. He gives the reader a thorough list of herbs that are helpful in fighting curses. In this book are techniques as to where the person who cursed you would place their curse. There are technique on how to contact the dead to assist you and how to get some angelic assistance as well.



The instructions on making charms are thorough and complete and in many instances there are illustrations that show you whast the final product is to look like. This a real strength as there are many books out there that totally lack illustrations and step by step instructions.



The author makes it very clear how to make holy water and how to ward and protect your house. At the end of the book he tells you how to send the curse back to the person who cursed you. After all if they choose to victimize you then why should you not feel free to respond in kind. turning the other cheek does not work. The author is no Wiccan. If someone harms you then harm them back.



I learned a lot from this book and hopefully there will be more from him. The techniques are effective and very simple to use. A huge plus.



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The Secrets of the Phoenicians

Phoenician Secrets: Exploring the Ancient MediterraneanPhoenician Secrets: Exploring the Ancient Mediterranean by Sanford Holst

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I read the author's first book on the Phoenicians a few years ago and thought it was great. I learned a lot about the Phoenicians and their contributions to the development of the Mediterranean that I never knew before or could even imagine. When I bought this book I was expecting to learn something new. Short I was in the expectation of this book continuing where the other one left off. You can well understand my disappointment when I thought to myself while reading this book that hmm I read this before. I was read a few more chapters into the book it dawned on me that this was the same book just a different title.

As I read further on I realized that there was up to 30-40% new information. An update of an older work. Would have been nice if they kept the same title. Then again I might now have invested in the book. The book is a great read for the lay man. It is not burdened with overly academic language and vocabulary and it is very understandable. Such easy reading is refreshing. There is one drawback though and that is the lack of footnotes. I want to track down some of this information. Some of it I have questions about and want to make further inquiries, a bit difficult if the footnotes are not in place. In short I would advise getting this book as opposed to the older one. In fact the author's website is advertising this book not the old one. Very telling.

The Phoenicians are a fascinating group of people. The book give a great surface over view of that. The group started out in Byblos, a city by the sea. At first they were fishermen who made their living from the sea. Their first boats were made from dugout Cedar logs. Eventually their boat building became more advanced and they began trading with distant villages. The result what a rising standard of living. They hit the jackpot with Egypt. Egypt bought lots of timber for their Temple dedicated to Horus in Hierankopolis. The First Pharoah to unite the divided land was their best customer. The author has some new information here detailing the rise of Egypt from the Scorpion king, Aha Menas etc.

The Phoenician expanded their base of trade to the Mediterranean Sea basin and the Aegean. They traded with Cyprus, and founded colonies in Santorini, Malta and Gozo. They brought wares from different places and traded them all over their network. They kept their sources a secret. Secrecy was one of their principles. The Phoenician found a race of people who built nice temple to the Mother Goddess. The Phoenicians being great middle men introduced them to the Egyptians who hired them to build their pyramids. Strange that one day all the inhabitants of the island disappeared. The Egyptians may have taken them enmasse to build their pyramids.

The Pheonicians were of Canaanite stock but they were way different from the other Canaanites. For one they worshiped mother nature an eventually added in a horned god. The Canaanite were more warlike and had a pantheon of gods. One of the Phoenician secrets was to negotiate rather then fight. They also blended in with the others so it was hard to tell the difference. Women were also treated equally and their input was valued.

When the Amorites continued in conquering their main city Byblos rather than fight they made for themselves a new home. They packed up and shipped off to Crete.In Crete they blended in with the locals and formed the Minoan empire. Prior to the Minoan
Empire the Phoenicians set up up other Cities along the Lebanese coast. Cities like Sidon, Arwad and Tyre. As they settled Crete many would leave Tyre and Sidon and those areas were abandoned for up to 500 years after.

The Myceneans were the ones who would change things for the Phoenicians. They were aggressive and warlike. Eventually they would storm the island of Crete. The Phoenicians would simply pack up and leave when negotiations failed them. They ended up resettling their old cities. Things still started looking down for the Phoenicians. Their trading partners, the Egyptians got more and more aggressive. The Hittites rose to power and were hostile as well. The volcano on Santorini exploded destroying numerous Phoenicians colonies in the Aegean. New trading centers arose like Ugarit who offered stiff competition.

Salvation would come in the form of the Kaska people who lived near the Black sea area and were oppressed by the Hittites. The Phoenicians made friends with them and let them to have use of their ships. This provoked in an invasion of the Sea Peoples and they would storm the Aegean and the entire Middle East. All the obstacle the Phoenicians faced were obliterated. Everyone experienced conflict save for the Phoenicians.

Things went great for while until the Greeks started expanding out. They were rather aggressive. They would expand out under the Alexander the Great. Alexander sacked the entire middle east those that surrender were treated mercifully cities like Tyre who put up great resistance for 9 months faced horrible consequences. Tyre was an island city that held out against the Assyrians for 13 years before their leader finally gave up. The other cities just joined in and Hellenized.

Once colony that was immune to all of this was Carthage, set up by wealthy Phoenicians they engaged in farming and became a regional power. Later on Rome would go to war with them in a series of wars called " The Punic Wars" Hannibal became famous from all of this. Eventually Rome won out and Carthage fell. The author believes the Phoenicians still live on. They might. You will have to read the book and find out for yourself.




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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Culture of the Modern Witch

Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in AmericaWitching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America by Sabina Magliocco

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sabina Magliocco is a professor and California State University Northridge, the school from where I received my teaching credential. Before that she taught back eat as an associate professor. Once might say that certain event in her life cause her to embrace the path of Neo-Paganism. Her first ritual was with Starhawke.



After getting through a rather tedious introduction that almost put me to sleep I got into the main body of the book. The first chapter gave an over all history of neo paganism starting back to the interest I the noble savage and the desire to reconnect with nature and the borrowing over from Masonic rituals and Ceremonial magic. It offered a critical look at the accepted history from an insider view who still appreciated that mythologized history was needed for a mind set appropriate for the Neo Pagan. The first chapter got me hooked. Doctor Magliocco’s work was informative, interesting and easy to read.



Chapter two covered the loose and fluid boundaries of Paganism. Paganism differs from today’s religion in that boundaries are not so clear. Some Pagans belong to multiple groups and tradition. Some people are pagan for a short period in their life and then move on. Most Pagans are solitaires attending big group rituals for the eight sabbats as part of an outer court and getting most of their information from book and workshops. Most Pagans are more educated than most and tend to come from the Middle Class. They strive for employment that enables them to be of service and money is not that big a deal to them. Jokes with in the Pagan community are not only for humor but also serve to help identify who is part of the in group.



To be a witch or a Pagan, two terms which do not necessarily mean the same thing as witches practice magic and not all pagans are witches or practice magic. To be a Pagan puts one in the role of a rebel or someone critical of society. Pagans are critical of the rampant materialism and often identify with the underdogs. Many witches will identify with the victims of the burning times and the victimhood of other people. They see themselves as being oppressed by the Christian majority.



Magic and ecstasy are also discussed some see magic as transforming the world the better. A good example of world repair magick would be Starhawkes “Reclaiming Tradition”. Other see magic as changing the individual or their perception of things. Ecstasy could sometimes mean being put into a trance and being able to receive messages or travel spiritually to other dimensions. Possession and aspecting are also discussed. Aspecting is when you let a deity or spirit take over your body temporally and aspecting is bring the deity out from their internal niche within.



The Last chapter addresses ‘Cultural Appropriation” which is taking element from other cultural paradigms and applying to your own or a hodge podge system. Many form of magic and religion share the same characteristic and often times when cultures come into contact with each other they borrow elements. Some see this as theft or as leaving the Deity with out a context. Others see borrowing as natural and deities communicate no matter what the language. Excellent book.





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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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