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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rise of the Jewish Pirates

Jewish Pirates of the CaribbeanJewish Pirates of the Caribbean by Edward Kritzler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the last 10 years or so many stereotypes about Jews are being broken. Most people would never suspect the Jews of having been capable of being pirates. It is only recently that people are coming to terms that Jews have been and continue to be capable of being great warriors.

The history of the Jews in Spain is well known. In 1492 they were given a choice to convert to Catholicism, leave Spain or die. Many Jews converted to Catholicism and a small number of those may have practiced their Judaism in secret. Many went over to Portugal and a good number perished at the hands of the Inquisition. In 1391 the Jews could have seen this coming as that was a year of a gigantic massacre of Jews.

Just prior to the proclamation of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabelle Columbus (maybe a Jew ) himself was giving a right and resources to explore a way to India. In this endeavor he was assisted by several well placed jews who knew that this might afford a way out for the Jews once the edict would be issued.

So Columbus traveled first to Hispaniola and then next to to other island. A good number of Jews went with him. Most cartographers and pilots were Jews as they were the onlyn ones with enough education to read a map. From this point on many Jews made their way to the new world to etch out a living for themselves. But soon the Inquisition would catch up to them their as well. As a result many Jews fled to Amsterdam to make a living and live as open Jews. Jews were often the merchants and credit lenders.

Jews were also pirates. During those turbulent times Spain was at war with Holland, England and France. These warring countries gave privateers to the right to engage in piracy against enemy countries provided the pirates shared some of the loot. Jews were eager to join in this endeavor.

In the Mediterranean Sea , A Jew, named Sinan joined up with Barbarossa the pirate known as red beard. Sinan was expelled from Spain thanks to the inquisition. So in siding with pirates he helped the Turkish empire secure many gains and a whole lot of loot. Things came to a head when the Turks controlled Tunisia and had it wrested from them by the Spanish. Sinan and Barbarossa got away.

Another famous pirate was Rabbi Samuel Palache. This rabbi’s son studied Talmud in Morrocco. Later he would move to Amsterdam and wheel and deal between the various governments all to work against Spain. So Jews were pirates and if they were not involved in Piracy they would fund the Corsair and share in the profits oft times selling back the good to the New World.

The Jews also helped the Dutch find and settle Brazil. After several battle with the Portuguese the Dutch lost it. A merchant company called the Dutch West India Company was given the right to do business and raise an army outside of government circles. With this the Jews were influenctial playing a big part in liberating Brazil from the Portuguse a second time. From their under Abraham Cohen they would gflee to other Dutch held land or into England and other properties held by her. Jamaica would become a refuge or jews and pirates alike. Taken over by the British this provided a safe haven for Jews until an Earth Quake destroyed Port Au Prince. But the Jews would still use their pirating skills to help America against Britain in the war for independence.


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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chant to the Canaanite Gods

Chant to Illu Chant to Ilu Ilu Ilu Ilu Ilu Baniyu Banuwati Baniyu Banuwati Baniyu Banuwati Baniyu Banuwati Ilu latsipani Ilu latsipani Ilu latsipani Ilu latsipani Abu Shanima Abu Shanima Abu Shanima Abu Shanima Ilu Ilu Ilu Ilu Thoru Thoru Thoru Thoru Ilu latsipani Ilu latsipani Ilu latsipani Ilu latsipani Abu Adami Abu Adami Abu Adami Abu Adami Ilu Ilu Ilu Ilu Chant to Ashera Ashera queen of the universe queen of the Canaanite Pantheon mother to all the Gods, Goddesses and all of mankind I light this candle to invite your presence into my life into my household and into the lives of family member To safeguard our coming and our going and to guide us in all of our ways to protect from accidentally tripping over the stone that lies in the middle of the road and to protect from the serpent that is coiled and ready to strike. Please continuee to watch over the upbringing of my children Give them the discipline needed to in order to study hard and be successful Let them have good jobs and marry good wive let them cleave to the path of the righteous and let not the yetzerhara have mastery over them. And so with this candle I illuminate all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

European Religion Prior to Christianity

A History of Pagan EuropeA History of Pagan Europe by Prudence J. Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nigel Pennick and Prudence Jones have done exhaustive research and reading to bring the readership this volume. A survey of Pagan religion ideas starting off first with the Greeks and the Cretan then going into Roman Paganism and then giving full survey of Celtic and Norse Paganism, finally ending up with Baltic and Slavic Paganism.

The idea of the Goddess and her consort come to life in the discussion of Minoan Crete. THE Minoans were an agrarian people who were very peaceful and lived in unwalled cities. This all changed with the Mycenaean’s who tended to be more war like and less pastoralists. They changed things to walled cities which were like fortresses and built them on top of hills. This continued into Greece mainland. Later came the Dacians and with their military conquests came the Olympian Gods we all know and sometimes love. Of course what this book lays out it that ancient paganism was not so simple an monolithic. Sometimes different regions each had their own gods.

The Etruscans of Northern Italy may have come from the Middle East or Anatolia. They were an advanced civilization that built elaborate temples, water ways and roads. The Romans would later learn from them. In fact the Romans were once governed by them and this contact influenced how they dressed and behaved. The Etruscans had a form of divination that was very similar to the Mesopotamian way of dong things and their skills were in demand even after they came under the control of the Roman. They used to have three deities Tinia (God of boundaries), Uni (nighttime goddess) and Minerva (War and Wisdom). The Etruscans also believed in fate and destination.

The Romans were Latins who established Rome on three hills. They learned from the Greek colonies in the south and the Etruscans in the North. There original deities became Grecianized and melded to the Greek deities. Using what they learned they became bent on conquest. They also allowed for any religion to be practiced, especially private ones in the place of your own home. Some cults that came from abroad were the cults of Isis and Serapis and Mithraism from Persia. As the Romans pressed forward they would leave behind documentation of the cultures they conquered and they would spread Roman ideas and religion as well.

The Romans conquered many people but the first spoken of were the Celts. Much like the Romans the Celts had different spirits who were connected to the land, well of tree. They did not worship in temples or buildings but rather in groves. Triple goddesses like the Miorrigan were prevalent of course this could have been a borrowing from the Greco Roman civilizations with who they came into contact with. The Celts were reported to engage in human sacrifice and using the sacrificial victims for divination purposes. The women also fought and some famous warrior queen were female. The deities were also male and female. But the priesthood by and large was male with a few exceptions where all the Druids were females.

What we would call the Norse or Germanic Tribes was something more complex then what we thing. They had many deities and many different religions in their areas.
Christianity became the continental religion. Sometimes via agreement like in Celtic Lands sometimes by a mixture of persuasion and force like in the German lands. Finally in the Baltics they held out until the bitter end. The authors finish off with touchng in the resurgence of modern paganism. Europe seems to have been ridden with massacreds and holocaust especially after the advent of European Christianity. There is no paganism in the Muslim world as they made no concession to previous pagan customs. Would be interesting to learn more about Middle Eastern Paganism and how it was impacted by Islam.

As a finishing note I would like to add that the Middle East especially thorough the Phoenicians had a major impact of European ideas and Paganism. A further review would encompass this subject matter.


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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Persuasions of the Witches Craft

Persuasions of the Witch's Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary EnglandPersuasions of the Witch's Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England by T.M. Luhrmann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was back in the 1980’s that Ph.D candidate Tanya Luhrman left her home in the United States and went to Great Britain in order to study up close the magical communities of England. She lived and practiced magic immersing herself into the environment of the magician. She told them what she was up to and she was accepted although she only rarely brought in a tape recorder, often times jotting down notes after the ritual or mediation or teaching. Among the orders or covens that she was with were Marian Green’s “Green Circle”, the Hornsby Group, Gareth Knight’s group and the Glittering sword.

While she herself did not believe in magic she did have healthy dose of respect for those who did. She went in as an anthropologist seeking to live the life of the community. Her study does not cover paganism per se or devil worship just magic. I am glad that she kept that line very clear. There are some magicians who work with Aruthurian mythos, others with angels and some with planetary powers.

Most of those involved in magical groups tend to be middle class or upper middle class and have a great deal of education under their belt. They are usually employed in the computer industry where creativity and deciphering things can be of use. Some are teachers and others are therapist. What leads them to magic is often a search for more control in their life or some deeper spirituality without joining a new religion or a cult. Many people are led to the magical path after reading fantasy book written by JRR. Tolkien, CS Lewis, Ursula Leguine, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Need I forget to mention that many computer geeks and magi are involved in the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons?

Of course doing a ritual or spell or any other act of magic for that matter puts one in a different world or a different plane of reality. Entering different realities oft times involves spiritual practices like pathworking, mediation and certain breathing exercises. But also included in the techniques are using different names and casting a circle.

While for witches the purpose of magic maybe to alter reality according to their will. Ceremonial magicians are using magic to help evolve humanity. Since the Ceremonial outlook is judeo Christian there is an emphasis on ritual and moral purity. The practitioner should be sinless. In witchcraft no such moral compasses are present.

How to tell if your ritual or spell was effective? That is a good question that often times involve adjusting how you view reality. You can alter your view of reality to make magic look like it worked. This view is very subjective of course. To feel if a ritual is working you might feel your body temperature rise or fall, time might stand still and the watch your are wearing might speed up and tell the wrong time. Sometimes you might see series of coincidences as meaning that your ritual was only partially effective. If your ritual did not work then usually it meant that you did not do something right not that the ritual did not work
Let me finish off by saying that this book though meant to be a study on magic helped clarify where I stood on the issue. It opened my eyes to be aware of self deception and know what magic is really being used for these days. It seems that one viewpoint of magic is that it is supposed to change you not your situation. Of course the only way to change your situation is to change yourself. Perhaps I need to change my self but any non-magical spirituality can do that as well as any self help program. Finding out what is most powerful for me seems to be drawing the power from within like witches do yet the keys to that power lie with the Egyptian deities and Kabballah. I plan on practicing magic for the near future. But now I know the path upon which I must tread.


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The Renaissance Faire and it's Impact on Society

Well Met: Renaissance Faires and the American CountercultureWell Met: Renaissance Faires and the American Counterculture by Rachel Lee Rubin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once could say that the whole concept of the Renaissance Faire, which has become so popular, started out as a dream Ron and Phyllis Patterson. Phyllis had been involved in education and the arts back east working with Middle School and adolescent kids. When they moved out here to California they moved to the Laurel Canyon area. The concept started out as kids getting dressed up in costume and performing. They would go about on a wagon loaned from one of the many entertainment figures living there. She worked at children’s center in the area. From there the idea sort of took off.

The first faire which happened in Southern California was done in connection with KPFK and Pacifica Radio. The first faire was a fund raiser. Now back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s the entertainment figures and residents of Laurel Canyon were involved with liberal causes and were often under scrutiny from the conservative establishment. KPFK was a liberal radio station oft times being accused of being communist. The first faire was a resounding success. The faire also attracted hippies and would be an influence on society at large.

The second faire was held in Ventura County. The first weekend went off well but the establishment was doing it’s best to thwart it. First the sheriff’s office was requiring al the vendors to get fingerprinted. Then the Ventura county zoing board managed to get the faire banned on the second weekend. This caused the vendors to lose lots of money.

After that the faire got it’s own place in Agoura Hills. The cultural watershed was both an influence and influenced by the pervading hippie culture. The fare helped inaugurate an interest in hand crafted goods as opposed to the mass produced plastic goods. Glasss blowers off made a show of what they did. The Pattersons would also travel to communes and communities where hand crafts were made. They would serve as a market for these goods and help boost their popularity. In this sense the faire served as a bastion or refuge away from the captitistic society that was all encompassing.

The spirit of free love and relaxed boundaries in the realm of relationships found a home in the faire where people could live out this lifestyle or different lifestyles as the faire community was tolerant and accepting of both. Such an attitude was maintained and preserved even up to the present day. Music was also changed. It became more ethnic and eventually more historical incorporating more element of Celtic and Middle Eastern. Had it not been for the faire one could wonder if we would have such a wide variety of interest in international music.

The faire has it’s own community of vendors who travel from faire to faire living in their own moving neighborhoods and culture. These vendors travel in small mobile homes living out of the vans they house their good. Cadres of children grow up together and are homeschooled.

The faire has been about for some time going through many changes. Atfirst being a refuge and countercultural activity. To becoming an activity more obsessed with historical accuracy. Now it has become corporatized yet element of the past still remain.


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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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