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Monday, July 30, 2012

Being Green on Greenwitchery

The Way of the Green Witch: Rituals, Spells, and Practices to Bring You Back to NatureThe Way of the Green Witch: Rituals, Spells, and Practices to Bring You Back to Nature by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lately there has been a new trend in the sphere of Witch Craft, it is called Green Witch Craft.
I am not sure exactly what old witchcraft looked like but this path maybe more akin to the wise woman at the hedge who had explicit knowledge of herbs. The path of the green witch is about connecting with nature and running in unison with her rhythms. The green witch is not such a ceremonial person, there thing is about being connected to the earth and the land. The green witch's objective is to connect to the world, humanity and her local natural habitat as best as possible.

This book comes in a line of many books written about this latest trend. People are not much into high ceremonies and the book gives them alternatives. The book does have some great points about gardening, harvesting herbs and running an indoor garden. Ann Murphy gives advise about watering in door plants and about composting to give your soil much valuable nutrition. Of course like all herb book this one has a section on recipes for incenses, teas and bath mixes. All great and well something which could be found in Scott Cunningham's book on herbology.

Yet there is also a deeper philosophy behind Green witchery. It is a philosophy that promotes harmony with the world and keeping in tune with her cycles. The author advises staying connected with the cycle in your area and growing herbs an such that are indigenous to the area. The path also tries to promote health in mind body and spirit. Herbs and plants have always been helpful in that respect and gardening is considered therapeutic by some. Love is the key, love of yourself, individuals and humanity. The work of the Green witch is for the benefit of all. Happiness is the pursuit of everyone. The Green witch wants happiness for herself and others. Peace, abundance and protection are other principles that are striven for.

The green witch has a variety of tools at her disposal. Most Wiccans will have the chalice, athame, pentacle and a candle, for the Green witch it is way more practical and down to earth. Without saying herbs and plants are one of the main tools of the witch. She used them in her spells and her healing. Next are the witches hands which harvest herbs and makes the preparation. The Journal is where the witch watches her progress. The cup is a tool and the mortar and pestle for grinding her preparations. Bowls, Jars and canisters are her kitchen tools. Knives and scissor are used for cutting. The staff is her walking stick yet it also represents the world tree which helps the witch travel through the different worlds. Cotton. Gauze are tools. Power bags which hold her objects of power.

The author also recognized the need to create sacred spaces. This can be done by creating a shrine or an altar. Some homes have four altars one for each element and one does not have to be dogmatic about the direction. To make your home sacred it is advised that instead of the usual adding that one look at what they have and remove that which they find that they do not need. A heavy emphasis on cleanliness is essential for magical practice. The Green witch will purify her area regularly.

One example is the broom purification.

1. Stand in the middle of your room
2. Take three deep breaths
3. sweep from your right to your left. Don't touch the floor
4. Turn you body left and move in a counter clockwise motion
5. Slowly widen your circle until you reach your door
6. End purification with Bright and strong flows the energy through my home. This room is purified

Recipe for a room purification incense.
1 part Frankincense
1 part Copal resin
1 teaspoon of Lemon Zest
3 pinches of dried lavender
glass jar and mortar and pestle.

I would say for those just embarking on the path of the green witch this would be a good starter book. Yet it is not the end all. Definitely explore the works by Scott Cunningham and others. thre are more in depth books out there. Anyone who has been through the various Wicca 101 books will find nothing new here.


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Friday, July 27, 2012

Witches and Herbs

Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden PlantsWitchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Muller-Ebeling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this book with some pretty high expectations.....A bit of a let down. All I can say is nothing new hear. The book gave a pretty basic over view of the intertwining history between witchcraft and herbalism. Those with a knowledge of Witchcraft 101 or higher I advise you to look elsewhere.

The forest or the wilderness was at onetime home for human kind and believe me Europe was covered with dense forests. Man was a nomadic hunter moving to this place and that place with the animals he hunted. In time man mastered agriculture and learned how to domesticate animals. With this domestication man began building his villages and becoming alienated from the forests. A hedge surrounded the forest and it was in the deep dark forest where all sorts of scary things dwelt. To keep himself safe man grew a hedge around his village to keep the forest out and his family safe inside.

The witch of the wise women used to live close to the hedge. They would communicate with the plant spirits and learn about different cures and how to work with the plants. The women were guided by the spirit of the plants. Wise women were respected and feared. To cure meant that one was able to poison.

The earth was considered the mother, Frau Holle, who later would become demonized as an old hag in faery tales. The Horned God was represented by the sun or the sky and was the one who ploughed the field and placed his seed. The mother gave birth and received the dead body after life was over.

The book does cover the mythos of witchcraft rather well. Christian Raatsch writes good chapters on Ethneogens and Hekate the Goddess of the witches. Reading his chapters did clarify things with regards to Hekate and her relation to the moon, Roman Diana, Prosperina and Artemis. I finally understood how Ayahuasca worked and the role of DMT and MAO inhibitors. Written throughout the chapters are lengthy descriptions of the herbs along with a wood cut illustration. I would rather see a photo.

Baneful herbs like Aconite, belladonna, henbane and others were used by witches to astral project and get to the realm of the spirits. The church would later ban these herbs for their association with witchcraft and possession was enough to have someone prosecuted during the burning times. Still these baneful herbs had many medicinal uses that are over looked.

The persecution started by the church and male dominated medical industry continues to this day. Backed by a staunch Christian mentality herbs like hemp, coca and a few others are outlawed despite the scientific proof demonstrating their health benefits. If someone does get intoxicated here and there like a drink after work what of it? It is wrong because someone chewed on a a coca leaf or smoked a joint. The witch scare continues under the form of a scare against drugs.

Despite the over all good view of history and uses of various herbs the book would have benefited the inclusion of some herbal recipes, especially flying ointments which seem rather hard to find. The book could have also added in more historical details.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Vampire History

The Secret History Of Vampires: Their Multiple Forms And Hidden PurposesThe Secret History Of Vampires: Their Multiple Forms And Hidden Purposes by Claude Lecouteux
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Undead have been among us for centuries if not millennium. Upon the death of a community member it was common practice to make sure that all the funeral rites were performed properly and that the dead were given their proper respect, or else they would come back. The Dead live even after their bodies stop functioning. A more generic term would be revenant, which was a corpse that came back from the dead.

The vampire is just another breed of revanent.Revants have been with us since prehistoric times. Now vampires are known for coming out only at night, drinking people's blood and shape shifting. but there is more to it. Who usually became a vampire upon their death. Legend and lore say that usually suicides, sinners, witches, werewolves and those born with a caul around them would become vampires when they died. Vampire are notorious for haunting their local village after they have died and usually they claim those that were closest to them. There were several ways of stopping the vampire or killing it. The most popular way was to cut off the vampire's head and place it at the feet of the corpse. Of course you would drive a wooden stake through it heart first. Some times the corpse would be burned and the ashes would be strewn into the river. Sometimes someone who had been victimized by vampire would need to drink the ashen water in order to recover.

There were several types of vampires. the summoner would call peoples name and those that were called ended up dying. The knocker did the same thing by knocking on your door and nonicide killed 9 people before stopping. The chewer ate his clothes and each time he ate his clothes someone would die. There is also the famished who was eternally hungry. Sounds a lot like zombies.

Fear of vampires was especially prevalent in the 18th century especially after the witch craze died down. The fear of vampires is alive even unto this day. People, especially in Slavic countries, will still nail coffins shut with iron nails, execute corpses and even dress themselves with garlic. One man in America even choked in his sleep on a piece of garlic. He kept garlic in his mouth to protect himself from vampires. To stop a vampire from rising from it's grave the village people employed a few strategies. One was to stuff the mouth with garlic or earth. Another such strategy was to bury the corpse face down. An old strategy was to cut off the head and leave it by the feet. When people went to destroy vampires they usually found them well fed, their blood fresh and the corpse really well preserved.

Scientists have looked for ways to explain the vampire myth. Mythologist have looked for answers in the myths. Th author makes the argument that the vampire or revanent is actually an astral double. The astral double explains the shape shifting ability and it's ability to get in through cracks and small places. It also explains why it leaves no reflecting. One way to stop a vampire was to plug up a whole in it's grave or in the house it was haunting.

This book is an excellent book for those who wish to learn about vampires. The author does a thorough investigation of legend and lore and explains it in simple terms to the reader. Very short and very thorough. I definitely want to read more of his works.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Left Hand Path of Indiduation.

Lords of the Left-Hand Path: Forbidden Practices and Spiritual HeresiesLords of the Left-Hand Path: Forbidden Practices and Spiritual Heresies by Stephen E. Flowers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Contrary to what you may have heard the left hand path is not about evil. In fact it is the ultimate in individuality. The purpose of the left hand path is to deify oneself and or recognize yourself as your own god. The goal is to survive as an individual entity sometimes even outside of nature. This can be done using a variety of means. Usually the means are antimonian which rebels against the standards of the community in which the magician lives. This could be performed by eating forbidden food and breaking all sorts of taboos. Antimonian actions can be classed as two ways. Dionysian and Apolloian. Dionysian means going over board and excess especially in terms of drinking, eating and sexual behavior. Apolloian is denial of pleasure which is more in line with the right hand path but could be used in the left hand path. The right hand path which is what Christianity, Wicca, Islam and Judaism would fall under tends to aim for annihilating the self identity and merging it with a larger identity.

Edred Thorson does a bang em up job of covering the left hand path which starts during the prehistoric times under the far eastern philosophies and kingdom. The Vedic priests invented their own gods and worshiped them. Interesting to note is that Far Eastern society had a left and right hand path but the right hand path accepted the left hand path right a long side them. Their practices included many meditations and chakra techniques along side many sexual magic techniques.

Going through Western European History we get most of our idea from the Indo_Europeans especially with regard to Iranian mithraism. There idea of a good god and an evil god filtered through the Norse culture and Greek and Roman culture after they learned it from the Iranians. Thing is the Iranians did not really have a left hand.

The author next discusses Gnostic philosophy. According to the Gnostic Christians the God who created this world was an evil god and that above him was a good god who wanted to liberate mankind from the material prison. Satan was sent down to liberate mankind. After all it was the serpent who had Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge. The Gnostic philosophy affected Sufi Islam , Yezidi fire worship and Manicheism. The Cathars who came off the Bogamils were a prime example of gnostic Christianity.

The idea of the devil has under gone many transformations. First he was evil and then he evolved into an idea of rebellion and freedom. The rebel would become a symbol of enlightenment. The left hand path would also go through many transformations. The author discusses many ideologies and personalities. Ranging from the founders of communism all the way to Anton Lavey. That is a whole lot of stuff.

Some of the modern day philosophers and magicians that are discussed is Aleister Crowley, Helena Bratslavsky and the Theosophists,Gudjieff, Ouspenski and Marquise De Sade. The author dedicates the largest chapter to Anton La Vey and his Church of Satan and Michael Aquino who founded the "Temple of Set" Michael Aquino and Anton LaVey are the most poignant example of being Master of the Left Hand Path.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Rites of Baal and Astarte

Seasonal Rites of Baal and AstarteSeasonal Rites of Baal and Astarte by Carroll "Poke" Runyon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an amazing book. For Pagans or neo-pagans their is a sad lack of books, material or groups working with Middle Eastern Deities from such Canaan or Mesopotamia. I was glad I found this one. The deities of Canaan Phoenicia have not been revered in quite a bit so the reconstruction is based in research and Ceremonial Magic.

Poke Runyon is a classic man of action. He has served in the military, mastered Ninjutsu and was a successful writer of fiction. His health problems involving his Gall Bladder lead him into an exploration into Hypnosis. Having tapped the power of the mind, Poke Runyon want on to explore Ceremonial Magic. His outfit "Ordo Templis Astarte" was stated back in 1974 and is the oldest running Ceremonial Magic lodge. It is now located in Silverado,California.

Poke Runyon's Paradigm combines years of research ,as he has a masters in anthropology from California State Northridge University, and Ceremonial and Hermetic theory. This book covers the the four main seasonal rites. The rites themselves take place in the solstices not the equinox. The rites celebrate Baal who is the original Greenman, the God of fertility and life giving rain and his relationship to Astarte who is both his sister and consort. The author gives a full script of the rites and preceding that he has one of the members write about their experience of the rite. The first rite takes place in the Spring and is called "Nuptiae" It celebrates the marriage of Baal to Astarte. The second rite is called "Adonia" which commemorates Baal's death at the hand of Mot, who is the Canaanite God of Death. The next rite is the Autumnal Solstice called the 7 Gates where in Astarte descend to the Netherworld to rescue Baal. She ends up defeating Mot in the underworld to retrieve Baal. The Last rite takes place in Winter and it celebrates Baal's Defeat of Lotan the big water dragon. To defeat him Baal has to answer a riddle and he almost forgets save for the fact that Taanit the Moon Goddess reminds him of the answer.

I have read quite a bit on Canaanite lore and at first I was rather disturbed by the differences I encountered when reading this work. First off Baal's original consort was named Anath. Big difference in name. There is some confusion as to who Astarte is. Is she Ashera the consort of El the father god or is she another name for Anath. Or is she a Goddess unto herself? At one point in time Baal took El's place and became Asherah's consort. Each city state had their own take on things. Another issue was with how Anath resurrected Baal. In the ritual, which borrows heavily from Sumerian mythology, Astarte goes into the under world and as she passes each level she leaves off some clothing. At the end she throws a black cloth over Mot's head and defeats him. For ritual purposes the borrowing from Mesopotamian lore does not concern me too much. However the original story is different. Anath finds Baal's body and resurrects him with the help of Shapsu the sun goddess. She does defeat Mot and scatter his remains to the ground by cutting him up into pieces. The battle with Lotan was way different in original Canaanite Lore. First off Lotan was called Yam and he was the God of the Sea. Anath and Baal got together and defeated the Sea God's minions and the battle was bloody. In the end Yam was killed. In the ritual, Lotan is about to defeat Baal unless he can answer a riddle. Taanite the Moon Goddess of Cathage helps Baal solve the riddle. First off it was Baal and Anath who defeated Yam the moon deities were not even involved. The original mood deites were Yarikh, the moon god and his wife Nikkal. I knew from the outset they were doing some change over with Taanite an I have no issue with that. Astrological bodies and even angels do not have to be specific with regards to gender. Throwing in Astarte's descent into the underworld, a borrowing from Mesopotamia was cool because both stories are similar and the Canaanites may have gotten their tale from the Mesopotamian in the first place. But the battle with Lotan left me concerned.

At the end Poke Runyon answered my concerns. He retell the story of the "Bow of Aquat" The original story was uncovered with lots of gaps. He filled those in. Poke Runyon knows his stuff.When he alters things there is a reason. For anyone wishing to follow the Canaanite path this is a great place to start. You will have to have a strong background in Ceremonial Magic to do these rituals properly. For a more complete understanding of the Canaanites the author has put a good bibliography together.


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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Instant Magick

Instant Magick: Ancient Wisdom, Modern SpellcraftInstant Magick: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Spellcraft by Christopher Penczak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Frankly I am getting tired of Wicca 101 books. Fortunately this book book is not one of them. I would never have bothered reading this book had it not been for the public recommendation of author, Donald Michael Kraig. You can check out what he has to say about in his blog ( http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2012/05... )

This book takes magic back to where it really happens, in the mind. The result are in the real world. My first book on magic was I read was called "Creative Visualization" by Shakti Gawain and believe me there were no tool like wands or dagger. Just proper visualization of the desired goal. This book, Instant Magick, gives the magic worker the ability to perform a mental ritual on the spot when tools and what not might not be available. If you are like me tools make something that should be simple more complicated.

To do magic you need altered consciousness, raised energy and then you got to direct that energy somewhere. The first part of the book gives the reader an exercise that alters their consciousness that is real easy and quick. Then the author gives forward an exercise that develops intent and will. In all the book has 19 exercises. After giving three exercises the author discusses the the different paradigms that you can align your magic with. Pick one as you got quite a few. You elemental magic, planetary magic, chakras etc. After explaining the different paradigms the author gives the readers different exercises that help draw the desired energy from the desired paradigm into the practioner's to get them aligned.

Chapters 4 and five deal with spells directly. Chapter 4 being a list of spells. Chapter Five telling you to construct your own. The book continues on with instruction on how to construct your magical circle and you inner temple. Why the author even tells you how to locate your spirit guide. The book has exercise from the disciplines of Wicca, Yoga, Sufi meditation, visualization, ceremonial magic and some Hindu meditation. The book discusses healing, ethical behavior and how to contact higher selves inn order to determine if they really want healing.

Great book for the beginner and intermediate practitioner. This is the pure essence stripped of the extras. Mr Penczak great job. I think I need to get more of your books.


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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Where Witchcraft Lives

Where Witchcraft Lives 3rd EditionWhere Witchcraft Lives 3rd Edition by Doreen Edith Valiente
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

During her younger years Doreen Valiente, considered by many to be the mother of modern witchcraft, did na investigation of Witchcraft practices in Sussex, England. She went in not as a witch but as a scholarly investigator. She identified herself as a student. This was done primarily as a ruse to save her mother from any potential embarrassment as her mother was a member of a prominent church. This book has garnered enough attention to cause Ronald Hutton, author of "Triumph of the Moon" to write a short introduction. Doreen's work was praised as scholarly and her techniques at finding information were very scholarly as well. The book in his opinion should have garnered even more attention and publicity as it was a valuable source of information. Doreen never attempted such work again. The book's impact was limited in part because Doreen embraced a theory put forward by Margaret Murray which stated that at one time the entire European continent worshiped the Goddess and her horned consort.

Witchcraft practices still survive or at least did when Doreen wrote this book. Bits and pieces survived in modern folk practices and cures. People still throw gifts to the rivers and wells in order to pray for good luck and fortune. Although they may call out to the saints back in the day it was to water spirits or deities. the Christian church did it's utmost to demonize witchcraft. Most witches were followers of Diana, Roman Moon goddess. There are depictions of her battling the saints and trying to set a ship on fire with her cursed oil. Of course a priest was able to abolish her plot. The horned god was turned into the devil. But even until quite recently the horned God was honored in folk dances and countryside revels.

Doreen Valiente also discussed witchcraft trials. It was always easy to say that someone blighted your crops or was haunting you in the night. Name the person and they would stand trial and most likely they would be found guilty. One story involved two families the Stroppers and the Bennets. Apparently four spirits revealed themselves at one of the women's bedside and told her where a treasure was. Mrs' Bennet a local witch told Mrs. Stroppers that if she found it she could have part of it as the treasure was really part of Mrs. Bennet's lost inheritance. Two ladies were questioned by the mayor and later condemned to death for cavorting with witches and spirits.

Witches are often associated with the moon. So are rabbits and so is water. Witches are said to be able to turn into different animals and one of those animals is a hare. The hare has associations with fertility and the moon. It is also associated with Artemis the moon hunter goddess who is by the way the Greek version of Diana. Witches it should be noticed have what is called a fetch or an astral body wich projects out when the witch is in a trance. The astral body leaves no shadow yet if it receives and injury so to will the witch. Hares are considered back luck for sailor. As the moon controls the oceans and is associated with the Witch Goddess so goes the Ocean is also equated with the witch. Witches are said to have some control over the ocean and water.

Three other areas that are discussed are White Witchcraft, Black magic and surviving rite and covens. White witchcraft can be used to cure, heal and help find love. Doreen gives a few examples of how a woman can get love or use divination on how to find who her future husband will be. Some remedies for warts are included in this as well. Black magic still survives. Doreen gives a couple of stories on how people come across public desecration of Christian holy places, secret altars and people who are abducted and forced to join in occult activities. Doreen is against harming other and black magic yet magic itself is a force that can be used for good or bad. Secret covens still exist their are circle dances in former pagan sights. Coven masters still conduct seances in back rooms. The persecution may have taken their toll but they cannot eradicate the followers of the Goddess and her horned consort.


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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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