Moon Phases

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Modern Life of a Greek God

The Tales of Pan: Three in the WoodsThe Tales of Pan: Three in the Woods by T.J. Richmond
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not exactly primo literature or anything that will go down as a classic. But if you are a pagan or enjoy Pagan themes you may find this book enjoyable that is if you into strong erotic content. The actual story itself is about 26 pages long, shorter than most magazines.
Young Mary decide to go camping in the woods one night and nestles herself in the hollow of a giant red wood. In the woods she feels herself being spied out by several observing eyes, She believes elves o0r faerie folk are watching her. James another camper also spies her out. He approaches her with a ritual dance and what follows after ward is a feast of love making. All this gets observed by the Greek God Pan. He possesses James, observes and even joins in at one point. When the lovers are asleep he sprinkles dust on them to increase their feeling for each other. Later on his maenad Ava will join in.
The two end up spending several days in the forest. When they leave they take off in James RV but not before Pan gives them a gift. Reed flutes which can be used to summon him anytime. The story ends off with them leaving into the sunset.


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Friday, September 27, 2013

History of the Coptic Church

Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for ModernityMotherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity by Samuel Tadros
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mother Land lost gives the reader a broad yet very through history of both Egypt
and that of the Coptic Christians who dwell there . The histories appear to be
seperate yet intertwine at certain points.

Coptic history has been filled with sacrifice and martyrdom . Owing to
oppression from first the Catholic Church and then later Islamic fundamentalism
, the Copts have faced a long upward struggle for equality .

Christianity was brought to the city of Alexandria by the apostle Mark. he
stayed with a craftman named Athanius. Athanius and his family would later
become devoted Christian and set up an institution of higher learning. All this
happened during a period of intense turmoil between the Persians and the Romans.


Even when things were settled the Copts did not have an easy time of it. The
Arian schism and the Nestorian schism placed the Coptic church at odds with the
Roman Catholic Church and the Byzantines. This would lead to discrimination and
persecution by the Catholics when they had control over Egypt.

The advent of Islam saw the Arab conquest of Egypt. Some would say that the
Copts welcomed the Arab and others would say that at best they were ambivalent .
Under Islamic rule the Copts were granted a second class status if the Dhimmi.
This arrangement forced them to pay a special tax and limited the jobs
available. They also required permission to build a new Church or renovate and
old one.

Under Arab rule the Coptic church fossilized . They held administrative and
bureaghcratic positions as they were needed to run things . But as time
progressed there were more Muslims to take those positions. The Copts began
losing jobs .

As their material position began to decline so to did their culture . Many
forget Coptic and the church began having their services in Arabic.

The Copts were taxed excessively. The taxes were used to pay for military
adventures and enrich someone else's coffers. This would impoverish the Coptic
community and many would convert to Islam to escape the heavy taxes.

This would continue under Maneluke rule and Ottoman rule. The practice of Simony
developed where in the pope would take money or bribes for promoting bishops and
monks.

Under Muhammad Ali, a Turkish governor , Egypt would taste military defeat by
the French who would occupy the country for a certain length of time.

some Copts were favored by the French but to embrace the French to openly was to
court disaster. After the defeat Muhammad Ali began building factories in order
to make modern weapons . His drive for modernization would continue under Abbas
his Grandson and successors. They would also send Egyptian students to Europe to
study Euripean war technology . Copts were almost never selected.

As history progressed Egypt would have to deal with it's Coptic issue . The
Islamist wound say that the Copts were treated well and were part and parcel if
the Egyptian people. The Copts would have a different view of events.

With British intervention and the insertion of missionaries the Copts would face
even further challenges. The British did not favor the Copts in fact foreign
powers over looked then sometimes in favor of Armenians and Syrian Christians.

Protestant missionaries would pose another challenge of pulling people away from
the church through their modern education . Pope Kyrillos the fourth, Demetruous
and Kyrillos the fifth would deal with the Protestants . They would upgrade
Coptic infrastructure and education .

Along the way the clergy and the secular organization. Called the Milli would
vie for control over Church assets. It was a battle that involved not only lay
people but sometimes Egyptian authorities .

Another movement that would revitalize the Coptic Church was the Sunday school
movement. This was a movement sort of started by Bishop Samuel. This brought
about a renewal and return to the roots and an accompanying explosion of Coptic
scholarship. It also brought in new resources to help infrastructure.

king Farouk tried to use an Islamic approach to unify Egypt. Upon his overthrow
Nasser would engage in Sicialism and pan Arab unity. This helped the clergy and
the pope . With Sadat who courted the Muslim Britherhood things would get worse
for the Copts. Pope Shenouda and the Copts were more assertive against this.
Sadat would banish Shenouda to a monastery. After Sadat's assassination by the
Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak would ascend and he tried to work with the Copts.
Following his ouster the Copts found themselves at the mercy of the mob . The
Copts are leaving Egypt and only the impoverished remain . The Muslim
brotherhood does not want to kill them they just want them to know their place.
Or so they say.






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Monday, September 23, 2013

Spring of Everlasting Life

Tuck EverlastingTuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wonder what it is like to live forever and be totally impervious to pain or destruction. The Tuck family knows all too well what it is like. They drank from the fountain of youth and now they are unable to die. Would you like it not to age? Sometimes I think I would but living forever…I do not think so.
Mae Tuck is going to pick her two sons up at the edge of the Treegap woods. The two brothers are out traveling the world, taking part in wars and other activities humans take part in. Remember that back then everything was horse and buggy and much like the wild west. Mean while at the Foster’s House young Winnie is growing tired of her life and all it’s rules. She wants to wander and see things. In her front yard musings she befriends a toad who she talks to and the toad does not answer back. A strange man appears asking her about the Tuck family. Thing is no one knows who the Tuck family is because they lead an isolated life out in the Foster’s wood.
It is while speaking with the grandmother, that the stranger hears a music box. The stranger knows the tune. The Grandmother thinks it is elves playing the music. She can remember it going back a way in time. Interesting to note that elves were known for playing music and making off with children.
The next day Winnie plucks up the courage to go exploring into the wood. It is there that she discovers the Tucks. She ends up going to their house somewhat against her will and being treated rather well. It is while spending time with the Tuck’s that she learns their secrets. The stranger causes some mayhem and Mae gets arrested for killing him. Of course she is immortal and cannot die. None the less Winnie helps her escape.
The short story ends with the Tucks coming back decades later seeing how the town has changed. They also visit Winnies grave stone. She died a devoted mother and grandmother. Bit sad of ending.
This edition was published by McDougal Little and is used for Middle School children. It has some cool essays in the back that discuss immortality and never being able to die including one by Ray Bradbury. After you read this you will realize that it is not fun to live forever.


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Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Nectar of the Gods

Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and HerbcraftPharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft by Dale Pendell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Poison have been used by seekers of wisdom for thousands of years. Ever since early prehistoric times the poison and the allies of the plant world have been teaching mankind sometimes directly and sometimes through animals. Dale Pendell has written a nice compendium of these poisons. Based on years of research and experimentation Dale describes the chemistry of these allies, how they are used by indigenous societies and how we may prepare them for today’s usage. The author also gives us associations connected with these plant allies that would jibe well with anyone who is interested in alchemy.
The allies are broken up into five allies and they are inebrienta,phantastica, excitianta,thanatopathia and Eurphorica. More than several allies are discussed many of which we are familiar with. Marijauna,wine, absinthe,mugwort,ether, laughing gas, opium and laudanum just to name a few. Read this book and you will get a glimpse into the history of these allies as well as an insight into their benefits and pitfalls.
The author uses poetic insight to inspire your imagination while you are reading. A huge plus and one factor that would encourage me to read the next two volumes of his work. While I am not sure I would wish to indulge in the poison path. As marijuana leaves me rather paranoid and reclusive. I hate being trapped in my own imagination. Ether and laughing gas do not seem a safe bet to abuse or use regularly. Forget about Opium and Laudanum as the poppy is not legal here in the states. Nicotine can be deadly with just one or two drops. It was used to generate a religious high. If I can try without smoking it hey I might be game.
Parts of the last section speak about The Greenman whose face it seems is on every cathedral and building in Europe some would call him Osiris or Robin Hood maybe even Dionysus. He is the god of revelry and intoxication. Highly recommended read.


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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Call of GodThe Call of God by Ex Preacher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do you hear the call of god?Can you hear his whisper in your ear ? Many have heard the call of god and they answered the call by engaging in service to their church . This can be done by tithing, missionary work or volunteering.

But what happens when a committed Christian, a formor preacher no less, doubts his faith and has questions . Usually he gets attacked and scorned . The faith he had was supposedly imperfect. Yet they totally did believe .

The preachers have bags of tricks to lure in the gullible . One is to go around visit churches and tell the home ministers son that he had been chosen by god to do something great.

For many Christians the real eye opener is when they experience hardship and call out to god.No one answers. God is testing their faith. But we cannot test God, despite that the church says we can.

If a parent were to behave towards their children the way God behaves toward us they would be locked up as abusive parents. The bible does not conform to scientific evidence . Christians are afraid of being separated from God. That is why they fear those who decinvert. The Church like all religious institutions is filled with hypocrisy and lies. Rapists and criminals are welcomed back into congregations while victims of abuse are shunned.

The short book is very convincing for those who want to leave the church or any other form of organized religion. Whether it shakes my belief in a higher power that is another question. Very good book.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Arabian Khazars

>The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam by Glen Warren Bowersock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is not well known but before the advent of Islam during a time of upheaval and war between the Persian Empire and the Byzantines, there was a militant Jewish Kingdom in Southern Arabia. This kingdom was called the Himyarite and it’s location was in Yemen. I have always been fascinated with Yemen and all aspects of its culture, including their own minorities the Yemenite Jews.
Across the Red Sea from this kingdom was Ethiopia, whose capital was in Axum. They were a Christian country. Back in those times most Christians were allied with the Byzantines while Pagan were divided. The Jews both in Israel/Palestine and Yemen were allied with the Persians. This Christian country would eventually over take the Jewish Kingdom of the Himyarites. It was these event that would help lead up to the ad vent of Islam. Seems that everyone back then was rather hardline.
Prior to full independence the Himyarite were dominated by the Kingdom of Axum. The reason why Axum left the Himyarites was that problems were brewing in Ethiopia. This enabled the Himyaarite to taste some freedom for a bit. But there was always Christian agitation, and the fomentation of rebellion. Christians acts of terrorism were occurring on Jewish Himyarite soil. So Joseph Dhu Nawwas retaliated by storming Najran and locking all the Christians in a Church and burning it with them inside. This sparked the Axumite invasion of Himyar.
The main account of this invasion was told by a travelling historian named Cosmas several years after the invasion and by then the Himyarites were pretty much history. King Kaleb king of Axum. Sat on a throne that was located in Adulis. Adulis was some 20 miles north of an Ethiopian harbor that emptied into the say and south from the capital of Axum. The throne had inscription that praised the king. The inscription were also in greek and had some documentation of Ptolemaic invasions of Palestine and and Mesopotamia. The Pagan Ethiopians prayed to a war god named Mahrem, a war god comparable to Aries. The inscriptions were in Greek. Apparently the Ethiopians were fond of these thrones.
After Kaleb took over Himyar he retired to a Monastery. Everntually Abraha would take over Himyar by force and he was not the best leader. In either case the Himyarites never regained control of their land.
Joseph Dhu Nawas fought back as well he could. Even erected a chain to stop the incoming ships. He would be last seen riding his horse into the sea. It is rumored that the Ethiopians were assisted by byzantine troops. Persian reinforcements never arrived to help their Jewish allies. Persia had control of it’s lands and some Arab tribes in the peninsula. Byzantium had Palestine, Egypt and their own territory. To bolster their control there was some assistance given to the new religion of Islam from the Byzantine.
All this set the stage for the coming of Islam. There was more then one hajira. The most well known is when Muhammad fled Mecca and went to Medina. The secend was when followers of Muhammad went to Axuman many remained there.
The book is short and scholarly. Most of the sources are in Syriac and are almost untrackable or too expensive to get a hold of. This does not detract from the scholarly value of the book. It is only 150 pages worth of information and over half the book is footnote. If you are expecting a long read you will be disappointed.


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Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Third Kingdom

The Third Kingdom (Richard and Kahlan, #2)The Third Kingdom by Terry Goodkind
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leaving off where the Omen Machine ended both Kahlan and Richard are severely wounded from their encounter with Jitt the Hedgmade. When her sown shut mouth was opened death escaped into the world and infected Richard and Kahlan. The clock is ticking they both must get to a containment field ASAP to get healed. Only one problem where is everybody else. Kahlan is unconscious and Richard is restrained and wounded. He is being held captive by two people who want to eat him. Richard does manage to get free and with the help of a neighboring village he fights off his attackers.
At the village, youn g Samantha a healer does her best to heal Richard and Kahlan but she can only do so much. While at the village Richard is attacked by two of the risen dead. Zedd, Cara and Nicci are being held in the third kingdom and Richard must go there and rescue them.
As much as this book is a sequel to the “Omen Machine” it is also a sequel to the ebook “The First Confessor” going back to the first war with the Old World it was emperor Saluchan who crafted the risen dead and the half people. The half people had no souls and wanted one so they would devour people to get one. It never worked and they got out of control. Of course that was long ago and Saluchan has been dead a while and the half people were imprisoned in the “Third Kingdom”
Hannis Arc is the mastermind of all the evil and he does have plans. While Richard and Samantha are in the third kingdom they are captured and it is Richard’s blood that is used to revive Emperor Saluchan. Richard is captured but he does find a a way to break free, Kahlan is captured but we all know that in the end Ricahard rescues her. As for the final battle between Richard, Hannis and Saluchan guess you will have to read to find out.
I have said earlier that they should let Richard and Kahlan live out the rest of their years in peace and quiet so a new seeker can take over but this book was really good. Engrossing read that takes you on a roller coaster ride from start to finish. Terry Goodkind’s writing has improved immensely. Keep em coming.
Talk of the walking dead and half people that devour people reminds me of zombies. Seems like Terry Goodkind has jumped on the Zombie bandwagon and incorporated it into his work. If it is not original then at least it is entertaining.


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Animal Magic

Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal MagicFang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic by Lupa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lupa writes a fairly simple to follow book about how to connect to the animal spirits. I like books that are easy to comprehend and do not go over the head of the reader. I also do not like it when it is so simple that you do not even learn anything. This fights right perfectly in the groove.
Lupa starts off with telling everyone that she is neo pagan and that she practices chaos magic. Chaotes or practioitioener of Chaos magic do what works for them. While being a neo pagan Lupa at the same time reminds the reader to be critical of neo pagan sources as they often have their facts mixed up.
She does learn from Paleo Paganism but then does her own things and advises the reader that it is ok to do this. Her form is the wolf. This is her primary totem that stays with her for her entire life. Her secondary totem is the cougar that comes when it is needed then goes away. The tertiary is one that is sought out. What is the origin of totems? Ancient may have thought that they descended from certain animals or that they contacted the master spirit who gives them luck hunting a species in return for recognition, honor and offering.
Lupa laments how misunderstood the wolf , a misunderstanding that has led to a genocide of the species and unfair hunting practices. When being chosen by a totem or looking for a tertiary one is advised to do research on the animals. Got to know what one is dealing with. Animal knowledge is especially crucial in choosing a familiar. A familiar is not the same as a totem. A familiar helps the wizard perform magical actions and gain spiritual enlightenment. Once can not coerce an animal to be a familiar. This must be in the animals will. Familiars can be spirit form, physical or even created much like a servitor.
Cryptozoology is the study of hidden species like big foot or the chupacabra. When cannot tell if they are in fact real or imagined. The fact that they have been created and used means they are powerful and useful. Bestiaries with dragons and unicorns may be fictional, real or an exaggeration. Non ethe less they can be used for magical action. It is questionable how much spiritual inofmration they can provide as they are not real and not from this real.
When looking for characteristics or working with energy can make up creatures or pull from ciftional sources. Remember that fiction is another form of myth used to convey truth. This section delves into Chaos and Pop Cultural magic.
The last part of the book tells about using animal parts for talismans. It is a rather detailed examination on how to clean and work with the parts and the spiritual ramification. Finally there is animal sacrifice. Once again that is up to you. They advocate neither way but tell the pro and con of the concept. This would have been an awesome book but there were no photos on the kindle edition. Where the photos should have been placed there was a crossed out camera. The publishers could have done better then that.


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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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