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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Life of Scott Cunningham

The Magical Life of Scott CunninghamThe Magical Life of Scott Cunningham by Donald Michael Kraig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mention the words Pagan or Magic and most likely these two names will pop up, Scott Cunningham and Donald Michael Kraig. Scott was Wicca and Donald was Ceremonial Magick. Donald and Scott became room mates after Donald had to leave his apartment because the land lord did a horrible job with the roof. Through an occult shop of sorts Donald met Scott Cunningham. For six years they were room mate and life long friends.

This mini-book which runs about 50 pages is broken into three sections. The section talks about their 6 years together as room mates, the second section talks about Scott's MAGIC techniques, and the third talks about Hawaiian Island magic and spirituality. The part that I found most informative was the first part that spoke about their years as room mates. I have been to Donald Michael Kraig's workshops and I regularly read his blogs. I knew most of it. But someone who did not would learn a lot. A couple things that stand out for me was the lesson of Scott being focused. When he was involved in a project he became so focused until he finished that he blocked everything out. That was the magical secret to his success. Before anything went into Cunningham's books Scott either experimented with it or made sure it was based on historical facts. Scott was dedicated to the truth. Scott also made Wicca available to non initiates who did not have access to a coven. He allowed people to learn the basic principles of Wicca and work it their own way. He did not put down the coven structure but he did present an alternative.

The second section was about his magical techniques. Now these technique are available in all of Scott's books. I read most of his books so all this stuff was review for me. It was a bit of a let down. I was expecting to learn something that I had never read about before. I guess if you are new to the whole what was presented in the second part would be rather informative and mind blowing.

The third section was about Hawaii spirituality and religion. During his last years even when he was struggling with lymphoma he made his way out to Hawaii a few times year to learn more. Scott loved Hawaiian spirituality and he wanted to learn as much as he could in a time when access to non Hawaiians was rather limited. Donald gives a good over view of the history. The Hawaiian gods are discussed and so are the miniature menuhune folk who are reminiscent to the Pict of the British Aisles. This third section whetted my appetite leaving a hunger to pursue Hawaiian spirituality more in depth. I think I will definitely buy Scott's book on the subject.

Scott Cunningham was a luminary who totally changed the face of Wicca. I was hoping for more even from such a short book and a great author as Donald Michael Kraig. Maybe Mr. Kraig can write a full length biography. Someone like me is beyond this teaser but for someone just getting started it is a good appetizer.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Entering the World of the Plants

The Plant Spirit FamiliarThe Plant Spirit Familiar by Christopher Penczak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Christopher Penczak is one of those writers I over looked for quite a while and now I find myself becoming quite the fan of his works. In this book Plant Spirit Familiar Christopher Penczak gives the reader and easy to follow program that starts from step one and goes all the way through. For each and every step he gives an in depth historical background and he will relate his experiences using the techniques that he has taught.

One of the hallmarks of the witch was what is called the "familiar" the familiar served as sort of a servant or helper to the witch, according to popular conception which can be rather distorted. The familiar was spiritual ally that helped the witch navigate the spirit world, helped the with achieve things or taught the witch knowledge of magic. The witch got her familiar either by working with a deity (the Christians call it the devil) or the familiar came to them or the witch created the familiar. Often time owls, cats an even dogs were thought to be familiars of the witch.

Shaman in Siberia and Latin America also had their allies and usually they were plant spirits. These plant spirits taught the shaman how to heal and perform other acts of magic. With the help of their ally they could traverse spiritual realms to gain the knowledge that they need. Shamanic cultures also worked with animal totem as well. At times it was thought that the tribe or family gave the tribe birth or that the animal spirit was the guardian of the tribe.

In ancient days when someone got sick the plant spirit came to the shaman and told them how to cure the patient or would cure the patient themselves by giving the sick patient the spiritual medicine or energy they needed. The author discusses such techniques as Homeopathy and Bachs flower remedies in performing modern day cures. He gives detailed instruction on how to craft mild healing solutions.

Pulling techniques from Shamanism, Traditional British Witch Craft and his own Wicca. Christopher Penczak give the readers techniques and rituals that help the reader make contact with the plant spirit realm further the relationship.

Whether the reader intends to follow the program or modify it or just read for interest believe me it will be a great read. Witches of old used to make a plant familiar from a Mandrake root. This helper could perform magical acts for the magician or assist. Such an ally is easily compared to the alchemical homonoculous or ceremonial servitor. Once again Christopher stips the outer illusion of difference bare and exposes the the essential similarity that all three are different versions of the same thing.

I would have given a full five star review but the author does advocate the use of certain baneful herbs that I feel is not proper for most people reading this book. Substances like Belladona,Datura and Henbane should only be used in the accompaniment of an experienced Shaman or witch. Some of the recipes do not give exact measurements which is something I find a bit on the dangerous side.

I got this book from the Kindle lending library. Bet your bottom that I am taking copious notes before I return it.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Spirits of the Land

Elves, Wights, and Trolls: Studies Towards the Practice of Germanic Heathenry: Vol. IElves, Wights, and Trolls: Studies Towards the Practice of Germanic Heathenry: Vol. I by Kveldulf Gundarsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an excellent little book for those who wish to understand the land and water spirits in Heathen/Norse mythology and of course those who would wish to get into the practice of Asatru. The book is scholarly and the author makes plenty of reference to source material all of which is cited in the back for further reference. The author himself has a PHD in in Old Norse from the Cambridge University.

What follows is an awesome book that makes things rather clear. First off to mention wights are spiritual being that are connected to the land. Going through Norse material it seems the lines are rather blurry when it comes to distinguishing between the various types of wights, whether they be alfs, dwarves, etins or giants. It seems that the main dividing line could be their relation with human beings as to whether they are harmful or helpful. Another key point worthy of mention is the comparison and contrast to the Sidhe or Irish faery folk. The Germanic or Norse spirits are rather by and large well disposed towards manknind where as the Sidhe or Irish faery folk can be somewhat hostile.

Etins or giants are not only large spirits but are ones that are deemed somewhat harmful for mankind.In some of the lore they harm humans on accident and other times on purpose. Jotuns and Trolls are also considered a species of giant. Trolls are rather ambiguous. It seems from some of the lore that Troll could be a form of magic or that trolls are revenants (formerly dead)

Land spirits seems to be the most positively disposed towards humans. They can give humans advise, healing knowledge of herbs and access to the world of the spirits. Once can also eat of their food and of drink of their beverages. It is no problem where as with the Irish Sidhe such an action would be deemed unwise. Some of the troll food and drink is rather dangerous to humans as it is too strong for human consumption. Some land spirits are Dwarves, light and dark alves, wood woses and etins. Offering were left for the land spirits in return for abundant harvests and protection from evil. One did not have to thank a land spirit and one had to accept any gift they gave or it would be an insult to them. They are also more easily offended then the gods.

Water spirits tended to be more harmful to humans, whether on purpose or on accident. Often times they would lure a human to the water and drown them. Some of them would eat humans as well. It would be worthy of mention that skelkies who were women in seal suits were known to marry men and bear offspring. There were times that they would stay and other times they would leave back to their original environment either because of a broken vow or because the skelkie found their seal skin and was able to return. Mermaids were female denizens of the sea who lured men in to drown them., They would sink ships as well. Marbendils are wights of ill omen. Water maids are well disposed towards humans and tend to foretell the future.

Elves or Alves are divided into light alves and dark alves the distinction not being all too clear. Sometimes dwarves are considered to be a dark alf. Light Alves will help humans by giving knowledge of cures. Dark Alves are a bit more menacing. Information about the alves written after conversion to Christianity tends to be rather negative. Alves are compared to demons and are often accused of taking possession of a human being similar to demonic possession. Elf shot caused sickness like possession and maybe meningitis.

Dwarves tend to live under the earth. they are for dwarves strictly and tend to live in small groups or alone. Not much mention is made of female dwarves but they are there. Dwarves are known at times to abduct human women for marriage. They hoard gold but are not attached to it. No less to take their stuff brings on a curse. Odin is connected to dwarves as is Loki. Dwarves tend to be blacksmiths.

A panoply of relations among the different wights is given thorough discussion. Their relations with the gods is both hot and cold. As etins will fight against the Gods yet at the same time will form alliances with them and even marry them. Changeling are discussed and rituals are given in the back for those wishing to work with wights.


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Monday, June 18, 2012

Traditon Renewed

Witchcraft: A Tradition RenewedWitchcraft: A Tradition Renewed by Doreen Valiente
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Doreen Valiente is a pioneer when it comes to Witchcraft. She got started with Gerald Gardener and Wicca and then moved on to join up with Robert Cochrane and the Clan of Tubal Caine. This book, however is not authored by Doreen Valiente but rather it is authored Evan John Jones. Valiente wrote the forward. Evan John Jones wrote a book about the Clan of Tubal Caine Witchcraft and made the teaching of Robert Cochrane available to the masses. Some Witches may decree this openness but he sees it as being the right time to reveal information so others can approach the Goddess and the Old Gods. It must be noted that not everything is revealed. Several things are held back as the reserve for the intitiate.

Old Witch Craft or Tubal Caine is not the light airy Wicca that everyone is used to. This is primal stuff with none of the modern unpleasantness edited out. No there is no human or animal sacrifice involved although that was a motif in the old days. And speaking of old day. The author straight up informs the reader that what he is practicing is not the old witchcraft unaltered for centuries. Witchcraft has indeed evolved it has had to. Much has been lost due to persecutions and being forced to stay hidden. Religions also have to evolve. What is practiced is based on the old ways.

What is presented in the book will give anyone without access to a coven the ability to start practicing and enough knowledge to start their own working group or coven. After giving a philosophical over view of the craft the coven positions. They are as follows the lady, North, South, East, West, the man in black, the summoner and the hierarchy of membership . Within the Clan of Tubal Caine there are several oaths. There is the initiation oath upon entering the coven and then after a year and a day the initiate takes the full oath. Officers take oaths as does the lady. The Lady is the leader of the coven and of the clan. The clan consists of many covens. He time in office lasts for seven years.

Regalia for both the individual and coven are discussed in the book as well as how to cleanse and consecrate them. The working tool for the individual are the knife, cord, and stang. For the coven they are the coven knife,cup, stangs,besom, cauldron and skull. There are even directions on how to prepare the stangs for ritual use. At the final chapter the method of circle construction is explained as well. The four great Sabbats Candlemas (February) , May Eve (April 30th), Lammas (August 1) and Halloween ( October 31)

If there is a great short book in getting started in the Ancient Craft then this is the one.Excellent read go and get it.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Precious Water

From a Drop of Water - A Collection of Magickal Reflections on the Nature, Creatures, Uses and Symbolism of WaterFrom a Drop of Water - A Collection of Magickal Reflections on the Nature, Creatures, Uses and Symbolism of Water by Sorita D'este
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From a drop of water all life began. From a mere book about a drop of water there opened for me an exciting learning experience about one of the most over looked elements of magic and that is water. Kim Huggens put together an excellent compilation and Avalonia keeps putting out these excellent books.

Essays come from a great variety of writers. To mention a few Sorita d’Este, Payam Nabarz, Emily Carding and Kim Huggens herself. That only barely scratches the surface as there are many more authors who contributed . The subject covered are just as wide reaching and broad. The use of water and the deities connected to water are very thoroughly covered. Payam Nabarz covers the Persian Goddess Anahita who was seen in a vision by the Caspian Sea. Flanking her were two silver lionesses. She was the mother of all and is very connected to water. Temple dedicated to her are scattered throughout Iran, Armenia and other parts of the Middle East. Some of the rituals performed by her followers are still being performed by Muslims and Zoroastrians. Egyptian bathing of the pharaoh in his private chambers is discussed as he is convered with the waters of life by Thoth and Horus so he can be cleaned and invested with Godliness. The water is depicted with ahnks which mean life. The water of life baptism is still followed in the Christian and Jewish religions. Yemanya the African Sea Goddess is the mother of all. Before traveling over seas even if by plane one should pray to her for safe traveling and one should thank her upon arriving safely. Do not mess with her followers as she protects them well. She grants wealth, maternal beauty and stability. Her children are the fish of the sea.

Water itself is imbued with many properties. It is a giver of birth and at the same time a taker of life. It cleanses and it transfers spiritual energy. It is said that moon charged water is healthier for plants then no charged water. This was proved by experiments performed by scientists. Another experiment showed that water charged with positive or negative emotion changed reality to match those emotions when drunk or used. Many opf the deities and well guardians tend to be female by and large. Water is a feminine element. Celtic lore is filled with female water deities. Check out the mermaids, you do not see many mermen. In the olden days bodies of water were seen as portals to the world of the Fae or Underworld. The ancient Europeans used to throw offering into the rivers and lakes.

This book is wide as it is deep. Excellent job Kim Huggens and Avalonia publication.


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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's Always a Blessing

Hedgewitch: Spells, Crafts & Rituals for Natural MagickHedgewitch: Spells, Crafts & Rituals for Natural Magick by Silver RavenWolf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Hedge witch was always the wise woman who lived on the outskirts of the village in old but homey hut with herbs hanging all over the place and spell book scattered about. The Hedge witch was also able to travel to the realm of the spirits and receive knowledge which would be used on this realm. This book offered something completely different, yet positive none the less.I would hesitate to say that what is offered fit into the definition of Hedge witchery, a a term that bantered about quite regularly.

The first section of the book spoke of connecting to the spirit no matter which way you did it. This could be done via the faeries, your ancestors, wicca or even the Catholic Church. The point is being that you believe in it. The next thing is focusing on what you want. For example "I want a new car" This is an affirmation this is what you ask the universe for. The object is to focus on what you do want not on what you don't want.This is primal language. So it is not a good thing to say "I do not want to get an old car" the universe and the subconscious does not understand that. Later on you can add more adjectives to what you do want. You also have to clear out the old and unwanted stuff before you can receive the new stuff. In a nutshell if you want new clothes then clean out your closet of the old so that you can receive the new clothes. Most of this stuff is pretty basic and has been covered in other new age material. Actually a lot it was somewhat reminiscent of the "Secret" which was published before this book. To be honest I really have no problem with authors restating the obvious because more than not we tend to forget the obvious.

Perhaps the most valuable part of this book is the thirteen part self improvement program. It involves affirmation, herbs, and actions. In this section Silver Ravenwolf give explicit and easy to follow step towards self improvement.This is a program that I myself could use and plan on using in the very near future. After going through the thirteen part self improvement program there is an initiation or self initiation.

Silver Ravenwolf gives and excellent discussion on herbs. Her chapters on how to grow and maintain your herb garden are tops. They are simple and easy to follow. Useful! The recipes given in the book are great as are the various crafts involved. These spellcrafts are easily done and effective. This is Silver Ravenwolf at her best. She brings to play not just elements of Hedge witchery or Wicca but also her extensive background in Pow Wow magic and Hoodoo. I love this stuff and so did my wife.

The appendixes at the end were valuable. I especially like the haggling and the journal keeping. What is wrong with haggling to get the best price? I think it is fine and what a better way to get craft items then at a fair price. Journal keeping helps you keep track of what you learned over the course of the gardening. Did I not mention that I loved the part about the scarecrow.

When it comes to folk magic of old Silver Raven wolf is one of the tops.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pathways of the Runes

Odin's Gateways: A Practical Guide To The Wisdom Of The Runes Through Galdr, Sigils And CastingOdin's Gateways: A Practical Guide To The Wisdom Of The Runes Through Galdr, Sigils And Casting by Katie Gerrard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To receive the knowledge of the Runes Odin hung upside down for 9 days and had one of his eyes pecked out by a raven. At least that is how the legend goes. In reality the Runes were developed by the Northern Europeans and spread over the England. Three Runic alphabets developed Futhark, Futhork and Elder Furthark. This book focuses on the Elder Futhark.

Author Katie Gerard had worked with the Runes for well over ten years before she decided to write this book. At the books beginning there is a brief description of the history. After discussing the history she discusses some of the giants in the Rune world. Most notable are Freya Aswynn, Edred Flowers and Ralph Blum. The author gives some time to the debate of the blank Rune which Ralph Blum is a proponent of. After giving some back and forth over the issue in the end the reader is left to make the decision for them self. Katie also believes that the spiritual seeker should allow the runes to convey their own meaning and lessons rather then relying on so many books.

The meat of the book deals with the Runes themselves. This section is very concise and to the point. It is also very thorough. Each rune is given ample explanation of it's meaning, life lesson and how to use it in spellcraft.The reader is also given guidance in how to pronounce the rune as well. This is something that can be referred to many times over.

The final part of the book give over information on how to make runes, use bind runes and some specific spells. Any material can be used for making runes. One can use clay, wood or stones. The actual rune letters should be painted in red. In ancient times they were painted in blood. Now a days you can just add a drop of your own blood if you find that really necessary.

This most like one of the best books on the runes that I have read. It is simple and to the point like Norse Magic itself.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dark Assassin

The Dark PathThe Dark Path by Luke Romyn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book seems to garnered some very positive reviews. In fact many a positive reviews and I can see why as the over all story is a good story. Vain other wise known as the Darkman is the most feared assassin in the underworld. Rightly so as he is downright effective at what he does and he enjoying torturing and killing people. His main informant is the "Squirrel" a homeless down and out former wallstreet investor with a knack for picking up information. The Dark man used him to track down Dante a underworld figure he kills off rather easily. The story starts picking up after he is tracked by a young girl and knocked unconscious. Vain wakes up to find himself tied down to a bed in a hospital like setting by the priest and Tobias. It is during the conversation with the priest that Vain gets his mission, redemption and for the reader an opeing as to who Vain really is and why he became evil.

His job is to protect the Avun Riah, or the Babylonian equivalent of the savior. For this generation the boy's name is Sebastian and he is being pursued by a cult called "Souls of Sordarrah" The Cult is lead by Empeth a former guardian to a former Avun Riah. Empeth is assisted by the 4horseman of the apocalypse. In Rome Vain finds out about the Glimlocke a powerful talsiman that will give him the power to fight against Sordarrah. It is in Rome that Vain loses Sebastian to the dark ones. What follows is a battle of both wits and meddle as a mere mortal takes on the most evil forces of the universe.

Great story but heck the author could have covered more ground on the Sumerian and Babylonian mythology. The dialogue at times seemed cheesy and had nothing to do with the story but seemed to dwell on the trivial. There was also a lack of segue leading from one event to another. The reader would be in one place and then all of the sudden would find himself in a another scenario. The writing could use a bit more work on details so the reader could have a picture in their mind as to what the scenery really looks like.

I hope the author keeps writing and I hope he continues to improve his writing skills. He has lots of potential.

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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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