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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Diary of a Slave Girl

Harem Girl: A Harem Girl's JournalHarem Girl: A Harem Girl's Journal by Mariyah Saalih
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fictional Diary of a Slave

DId not see too many reviews for this, in fact on Amazon I say none at alll. THe book has been out for several years. I would call this work entertaining. Set in the time period around the turn of the twentieth century, and taking place in Tunisia and Arabia this is partly erotica along the lines of Anne Roqulelures Sleeping Beauty series, Story of O and 50 Shades of Grey. Seriously I thought there would be more S & M in this but there was plenty of sex. Edward Said would be turning over in his grave. THe West often times imagines the Arabic world to be what their fantasies conjure up. I am not sure how realistic this book is but look at it as serious entertainment.

Young Maariya started off in life as the daughter of a french woman and an Arabic father. He worked in the foreign service for France. At around 14 Maariyah starts to like boys.  Not much later she marries Jamal, an Arabian horse trader. After years of a barren marriage and not much love she produced no children. Jamal takes a second wife, who does bear him children. The relationship between Maariyah and Jamal starts to lose momentum. Along comes Ahmad, a slave trader among other things. Maariyah wants to check out life in the Harem but that is forbidden unless she is a slave or a concubine. Secretly she asks Ahmad to get her into one, disguised as a French Tutor. Ahmad and the Jamal agree. But she is tricked by Ahmad. She becomes a slave and word is out that she dies in a desert storm. Ahmad shaves her completely and annoints her with a foul smelling ointment that makes her real smooth. He also rapes her that night and whips her. She is  then loaned to slave master Ali for a certain period.

Ali trains her or at least has his Eunuchs and senior slaves train her. Eunuch love to use implements of  torture as did Ali's father. But Ali is different and more humane. HE refuses to use whips and  beating to keep  his slave girls in line. Maariyah enjoys life in the Harem. After things get boring she suggests to Ali that he bring things in from the outside to nurture the minds of  the slave girls. He also is convinced to let them out of the Harem. Soon Ali respects herand starts to solicit her opinion. Along the way he does share her with other masters, and he ven loans her out to a British Arms dealer. Eventually though after his brother's death, Ali frees his slaves and marries Maariyah. I will let you read the tale to find out more details.

Needless to say I found the book entertaining, and not bad for erotica. It did not go over the top in terms of erotic description like the "Sleeping Beauty Series" It is apparent that some research went into this. Yet having been to the Middle East myself and having married a Middle Eastern girl I know that no Middle Eastern Man would marry a woman who used to be a sex slave and has slept with more than one man. THey like to marry virgins. MAybve the book was a little bit romanticized. Maybe we project our views on the Middle East when really those views apply to the parts of our society that  we would not like to see.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

OPeration Nemesis: Armenian Vegeance for the Genocide

Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian GenocideOperation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide by Eric Bogosian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Year 1915 was the year of the great Genocide against the Christians who were living in the Ottoman Empire. Three groups in particular were affected: The Armenians, the Assyrians, and the Greeks.  Since the Armenians lost 1.5 million of their people to the Genocide carried out by the Turks, the Armenian Revolution Federation decided to cary out justice against those who planned the Genocide, the Young Turks.

THe book starts out by the author, Eric Boghosian, telling about the experience of growing up in AMerica and hearing stories that his grandfather told him about life for an Armenian under the Turks and about the Genocide. Mr. Boghosian thinking himself and American gets a bit uncomfortable .

None the less Mr.  Boghosian delves into Armenian, Turkish and World History. THe brief sketch of Armenian history gives one a taste of such warriors as Vartan Mamikom who fought to preserve Christianity among the Armenians or Mesrop Mashtots who invented the Armenian alphabet. In 301  the Nation adapted Christianity. THe Turks on the other hand came from an area near Mongolia. First the Seljuks took over and then the Ottomans. THe Turkish sultans loved to live lavishly and often had several wives whgo were slaves. THe oldest son was next in line for succession. The other sons we're killed or sequester in another part of the castle. THe world itself is important to learn about as many nations besides the Turks engaged in killing off large amounts of people. Most notable would be the European powers who colonized different parts of the third world. THe invention of weapons like guns and howitzers made killing lots of people really easy.

THe major thrust of the book focuses on Soghomon Telirian and how he planned and succeeded in Killing Talat Bey. Talat Bey was the interior minister at the time and was the leader of the Triumviarate. The other two young Turks were Enver Pasha, and Dejedved Bey. Soghomon Telirian was considered to be a young physics student studying in Berlin, who had happened to be very shaken by what he saw during the Genocide and about how his family was killed. The truth is that the ARF cobbled together a team to take out the young Turks. Soghomans real story is that he left Trueky before the Genocide and lived with his father and brother in Servbia. When World War 1 rolled out he joined the ARF as a medic but also saw action in Turkey. When he got to his village he saw that it had been all wiped out. THe images of death haunted him. He had to take action. When he caught he told the whole Genocide story. He was declared innocent and allowed to go free. 

Eric Bohosian does an excellent job of giving the reader the behjjiod the scenes look at the politics of what went on during that time andd the3 background of the people who carried out operation nemesis. THe images of what the Armenians had to endure are haunting. This book is a must read for anyone studying that period of time.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fevered Vampyre Dreams in New Orleans

Fevre DreamFevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vampire they have been roaming he planet since before the dawn of man, they are the top of the food chain . They have hunted men and animals ever having to build a civilization. They they learned from humans their primary source of food. Rumor has it they had a city undeground where thy never had to to look Te sun,

Coming from the pen Gsorge RR Martin most famous for his Game of Thrones series comes of vampire story that takes place on the rivers of Louisianna during the year 1857. His take in vampires is rather unique and a lot more realistic . Vampires are a different species that is related to mankind. They are anatomically different. Sometimes they live forever. Women give birth to children but die in the process. They are sensitive to the sun but they cannot turn other people into vampires. Garlic does not phase them . According to legend they had an underground city that the pale king would lead them back to.

Captain Abner Marsh lost most of his steamboats to a bad winter. His business is about to collapse. But the portly captain with a warted face is save by a bizzAre proposition by an enigmatic Joshua York. Joshua is suave and debonnaire. Together they build the Fever Dream. His salvation for vampires. Soon Joshuas strange behavior arouses suspicion and rumor. It trouble Captain Marsh and challenges their relationship . Eventually Captain MRsh hears the whole truth.

Joshua York is challenged by an ancient vampire with different plans. For a while DMon Julian and his wicked crew hold sway. The story concludes in 1870 when most everyone is dead. Joshua,and Captain Marsh must confront Damon Julian and his wicked crew.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Welsh Folk Tradition and Peasant PRactices

Cambrian Superstitions, Comprising Ghosts, Omens, Witchcraft, Traditions &C.to Which Are Added a Concise View of the Manners & Customs of the Principality & Some Fugitive PiecesCambrian Superstitions, Comprising Ghosts, Omens, Witchcraft, Traditions &C.to Which Are Added a Concise View of the Manners & Customs of the Principality & Some Fugitive Pieces by William Dean Howells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A rather dated book but sometimes dated materials are the most pristine [rue and accurate. The author is clearly of a modern bent for his time. From the style of his writing and that way he describes some of the superstitions you can tell that he is protestant or a member of the The Church of England. While looking down at several of the superstition , he is also quite prould of his Cambrian Welsh heritage and the impact it has had on European mythology.
The book covers several areas ghosts, omens, witches, faeries and customs.

The author himself does not believe in ghost and seems to feel that it is only the week minded that are the ones to perceive ghosts. There are three types of sprits that in habit a person and upon burial each goes to a different place. The first part of the spirit goes to Heaven, the second hangs around the grave of thee body,  the third part descends to the underworld. Usually a ghost will appear to a person when it wants to show them treasure or it wants them to do something for them that they the ghosts cannot do.

Omens are like telling the future through certain signs like if a dog or vervain animal appears in your path something will happen. Some feel that seeing a crow at a certain juncture could pertain to a future death.  There still was a belief in the Banshee, the ghost whose scream means that someone is going to die.

WItches are known for their spell casting. and blighting peoples crops. Back i the authors time almost every village had a wizard or cunning man that used magic to heal or retrieve things. Witches were often perceived as being able to harness an animal and ride it to their celebrations. THey also visited babies in the night and drained their blood or energy. This was after all how they fed themselves. THey could also assume the shape of cats, rats or anyn other animals. THey did this in addition to having familiars.

Faeries are another factor in Welsh mythos.  THe author is not sure if faery lore of England and by extension that of Europe was strongly influenced by Middle Eastern or Iranian sources. He believes that much of European faery lore is informed by Welsh Faery Lore. Faeries are of many different types of species. There are sylphs, elves, dwarves and trolls along with your average pixies. THe fae are vicious warriors when provoked. IT is said that some live on an island and that they used to let people visit during certain holiday times. Once when someone stole a golden leaf the privilege was revoked. THere are several accounts of people chancing upon  a faery ring and then joining the dance. SOmetimes it seems like they are dancing for ever and yet they come back only a moment later. Other times the dance lasts for well over a  100 years and when the mortal returns everything has changed. Moments after returning thug the mortal turns to dust.

THe last chapter discusses verious Welsh customs for marriage and holiday . The author takes pride in discussing Welsh bravery and hospitality. In particular he writes about their love for freedom and how they will fight like devils to keep it. THey used to practice archery, quarter staffs and fencing.
A nifty little book.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Enter the Temple of Set

The Temple of Set IThe Temple of Set I by Michael A. Aquino
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enter the Temple of Set

Going backward in order to further the cause of evolution. Michael Aquino founder of the Temple of Set having frown frustrated with the Church of Satan decided along with other members of the Church to branch off and found a new organization. This book by Michael Aquino documents why he left the Church of Satan and went on to found the Temple of Set. THe book outlines differences between the two organizations and why The Temple of Set is the step in the next direction of evolution.

The Church of Satan, which started on Walpurgis Night 1966 lasted until 1975. It promoted an atheistic and hedonistic style of life. As much it was based around the colorful personality of Anton Lavey. The Church itself was filled with contradiction and Anton Lavey dealt his organization the death blow when he decided to sell priesthoods and degrees for financial contribution instead of having them do the hard work to earn those degrees.
The Church itself had many contradictions. In one it claimed that after we died that was it , we were gone. It also claimed that there were no deities and the rituals were just for psychodrama . The contradiction was that privately it was taught that Satan was the master of darkness and to a great extent personal freedom.

After 1975, Michael Aquino founded a new organization which he documents quite thoroughly in this book. A detailed account that sometimes reads like meeting notes. One problem with the image of Satan is that it was tided up in Judeo-Christian imagery and cabalistic coding. THe Temple of Set tried to get away from all of that and get back to an earlier image of the prince of darkness. after all in Christian myths Satan is destined to lose. So they chose Set. Personally I like Set.He is bad ass.THE temple of Set went back to the beginning, Egypt. THE Temple of Set does believe in life after death and have adopted the seven parts of soul according to Ancient Egyptian Religion and a history of Egypt. Set was not always the bad guy, in fact he was called upon to defend Egypt and many Pharaohs were named after him. It was the priesthood of Osiris that demonized him.

Going from the organization of the temple , the author gives us a surgery of Setian beliefs. What follows is an adventure into Greek Philosophy, Egyptian mysticism, Mesopotamian legend, Ouspensky, and Gurdjieff. Discussion focus on wakefulness versus psychic slumber. Michael Aquino also discussed topics such as the subjective universe versus the objective universe. Very informative and very enlightening. He also compared and contrasted the degree system between such magical orders as the Golden Dawn, Church off Satan and Temple of Set.

Next is a discussion on Right Hand Path and LEft hand path. THE Right hand path which seeks to dissolve our seperate identity into the greater whole is thought by Setians to be naught but illusion. We were meant to be seperate from the Objective Universe. The LEft Hand Path strives to enhance our individuality.

MAgic, there are four type of magic. White magic is like prayer, you pray and it enacts the alpha wave making one very open to suggestion . It is a form of delusion . Lesser Black Magic uses natural laws to manipulate the Objective universe. Much like a stage magician or a crafty sales person. Greater Black Magic aims at using our personal pawer to manipulate ourn subjective universe so we can apply that to the objective universe. The Medial Black magic is a combination of the two. THE best way to describe it is like the witch Angeliqe in that well known movie where if she wishes to do a magical action she merely lights a candle or stares out into the moon and states her will. So it happens simplicity is the key and complex rituals are for people who need training wheels.

For your ritual you will need to prepare the chamber. Make it dark minimal candle. Dress for your workingn in a way that is most comfortable and one that is appropriate for the direction of your working. Ring your bell 9 times in each direction. Light your black flame and invoke Set.

Invocation

In the name of Set the prince of darkness. I enter into the realm of creation to work my will upon the universe. O majesty of set hear me look upon me and go with me on my hourney. Enfold me with the powers of darkness let them become as one with me as I becomeOne with the Eternal Set whose seat is behind the constellation of the thigh As I stand forth my most exalted and sublimee self armpit within the pentagram of Set and the scepter of Tcham that it may defy all constraint , dismay challengers and cast doown all that is moved to appear against it.

Leet then my eyes become the eyes of Set, My strengths become the strengths of Set My will become the Will of Set AS a fire in the darkness I am become as air in the sky. I am become as Earth in Space I am become as warted in the desert I am become. I dwell in the fane of the flame Time bows before my will I am the lord of life, Death and life in death, HErar then this doom which i pronounce and beware the ka which now comes into being tour the art which is mine to command

Drink from the grail. Summon the elements, do the working, Extinquish the flame, ring the bell say "Son it is done"

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Monday, November 30, 2015

The Sirius Mystery

The Sirius Mystery: New Scientific Evidence of Alien Contact 5,000 Years AgoThe Sirius Mystery: New Scientific Evidence of Alien Contact 5,000 Years Ago by Robert K.G. Temple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sirius Mystery

“It’s aliens I tell you?” Yeah Yeah we have heard it all before. Zecharia Sitchin hypothesized that aliens came from a planet with an extreme elliptical orbit around our sun called Nabiru. The planet comes into contact with ours supposedly every 3,600 years and that aliens cam to our planet and spliced our genes. Now this is based on his reading of Sumerian, Egyptian and biblical scripture. Robert Temple has a more realistic theory and demonstrates his knowledge of pagan mysteries by elucidating Egyptian, Sumerian and Greek mysteries.

The ancient Egyptians used to connect the Sirius star with Isis. It would disappear for about 70 days and then reappear bringing with it a flood on the Nile. The African tribe of Dogon also worshipped the Sirius star and they knew before modern science caught on that there was a Sirius B Star and a Sirius C star. Robert Temple revealed this knowledge in his book and the scientific community did not take him seriously in fact many big time organizations gave him a real rough time. His basic thesis is that several thousand years ago Aliens came from a planet that was from the Sirius star system and visited the planet Earth. They were amphibious in nature resembling the appearance of mermaids. It is from them that we get some of our earliest achievements, like building the pyramids and mapping the Arctic Circle before science even knew what it looked like without ice. These amphibious aliens existed in the water at night and then returned to their water chamber at night.

Looking at some of mankind’s achievements it becomes clear that some form of higher intelligence was at play here. We cannot duplicate some of this stuff today.. Some would speculate that it was all Aliens, some would say that we are not giving ancient man enough credit. Others would say that there were human civilizations going further back in time than we realize. Some would say that Atlantis was such a civilization and then it was destroyed by some cataclysm. Robert Temple rejects all that. He has his own theory and it does sound pretty plausible especially when he shows you direct quotes from Ancient Historians that describe the merman like nature of Oannes , who came from the sea and enlightened mankind.

Whether or not I buy into his theory is a big question, but I do know there are lots of planets, galaxies an star systems out there so there is a good possibility that there is life on other planets an it certainly is possible they have contacted mankind. It still need to see more proof. Could it have ben that these mermen were natural inhabitant of this planet, an in between phase between amphibian and mankind.? Could be . Robert Temple does not claim that his theory is 100 percent correct as it is just a theory. I will tell you one thing though , he has found a way to show his reader that all these ancient philosophies and religions come from a common source and he draws those connections extremely well.

Whether you are into Ancient Alien theories or not this is one awesome book,

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Elder Witch's Grimoire

Liber Nox: A Traditional Witch's GramaryeLiber Nox: A Traditional Witch's Gramarye by Michael Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ever wanted a good primer on how to delve into the Arte of the Witch? Need some ideas for a ritual? This book covers a gambit of information starting with some history, theology, holiday explanations and sample rituals for almost all of them. Great nifty book to get you started by a man who has since gone to summer land , he was a shining light .

This book is about the rites of the craft andd how to get ready for them. Chapter one is about the different tools of the craft you will need for your rituals. THe most important tool is the Stang. Normally a pole made of as he wood or oak, it has horns on top  a cross of arrows in the center and a metal base to stand on. It represents the horned god but could also represent the axis mundi or the world tree. The Axis Mundi connect all the different worlds. There is also your black handle knife for magical operations in the circle and there is the boline. The boline is a white handled knife used for cutting herbes. There is also the scourge, or cat o nines as most people know them. The besom or the broomstick is used for riding to other worlds and for spiritually cleaning the area of your working. The cauldron or chalice is used to represent the womb of the goddess. Swords are used as are different stones to implement magic in your circle.

The next chapter talks about initiation in the craft. Not everyone has access to a coven and history is appearing to show that most witches worked solitary. SOmetimes you get imitated by a coven. Other times someone from the opposite sex will teach you and initiate you. sometimes these one on ones can get intimate. Once can also do a self dedication. The author hold that all are equally valid. 

The third chapter is about casting the circle. It is a bit more complicated than wicca as it is spherical and they have cross directions like north east, south west etc. Each direction has it's own meaning.  The next section deals with a discussion of the major holidays in the craft. Note I did not use Sabbats as they are different from Wicca. The holidays in the Wheel of the Year are as follows in order of explanation ; Candlemass , Lady Days, May Day,Midsummers Day, Lammas Tide, Michaelmas, All Hallows, Yule and the Twelfth Night. After the section that describes the holidays there is the section that has the actual ritual. THis maybe adapted to fit your needs .

This book has thorough explanations of the craft and the history and mythology behind everything . He touches upon both modern and past. A great book for getting started.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Walking the Path of the Goddess

Walking an Ancient Path: Rebirthing Goddess on Planet EarthWalking an Ancient Path: Rebirthing Goddess on Planet Earth by Karen Tate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you ever pondered the possibility of embracing Goddess spirituality? Are you searching for even to go to ? Organizations to align yourself with.?This book is a great place to start. FRom what I gather authoress Karen Tate , a follower of Iisis, has composed a great book for you to read.

Starting from the North she covers goddess spirituality from the persective of the elements and their directions. North pertains to the land and she coverers all the places she has made a pilgrimage to. As a follower or devotee to Isis she takes many trips to Egypt visiting many Temples that were dedicated to Isis. Her trips also take her to Turkey, Italy and other places of Europe. She does not only visit places connected to Isis but she also visits shrines to other Goddesses. In Ireland she visits places devoted to Brigid and several stonehange like sites. In Clonedgal Ireland she goes through an intiation to serve the goddess..

Moving widdershins she then talks about water which faces to West. Aphrodite is the goddess of love. There is some talk about Aphrodite but also about relationships in general . This section is filled with information on howw to find the right lover and how to conduct a healthy relationship. If it will not get healthy sometimes it is best to let it go.

Fire is the element of the south. This is the passion that drives people to succeed. Fire keeps us going or trudging though. FIre also burrns away things . Sekhmet is the noted goddess of fire. She is the one who eliminates the injustice and fights evil . SHE IS ALSO a protectress. We next go to the east where in that is the direction of intellect or intelligence. Dawn is the beginning of a new dawn. Finally there is spirit.

I liked this book despite my previous misgivings. There are great rituals, and prayers to the deities. I counted at least a few good meditations. The end of the book solicits opinions about building Temples to the Gods or keeping it more informal. Discussion about God spirituality is also discussed by several people. Great book.




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Monday, November 9, 2015

A Night out with Jim Morrison

Burn Down the NightBurn Down the Night by Craig Kee Strete
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be part of the Rock and Roll party scene in the 60’s and 70’s? This is when Rock and Roll was just emerging and the parties were excessively wild. Filled with revels of late night parties at Venice Beach, excessive drug use and very free sex. Author , Craig Kee Street , takes us into the heart of the bitch Goddess Los Angeles in what I think is his fictitious romp with Jim Morrison, perhaps before he became the lead singer for the doors.

Stete captures the essence of Jim Morrison perfectly in this work. Written in first person, Craig bumps into Jim while trying to hit on some chick at a party in Venice Beach California. Jim just sort of appears speaking in rhymes an stealing Strete’s girl. The two later on wander off to the beach,drive Craig’s car to the Valley. Picking up two girls, on e fat and one pretty, they romp and head off of another party . Craig passes out in the bushes only to be awakened by a poodle pissing on him.

Craig later on goes into his background, growing up as an adopted child who is soon no longer wanted as his adoptive parents sire their own child and leave him neglected. Drifting into a life of crime, Craig later on ends up killing someone in a break in. A rock and roll band takes him. Working as a roadie he ends up in California.. The work keeps him out at nights where he gets to party and fool around all without his girl even knowing. Several times they get together write poems, pick up on women and take mass amounts of drugs..Their trips take them to Rock and Roll shows, getting drunk with married women in a cemetery.

Not only capturing Jim’s essence rather well but also giving incite into the party scene of the sixties. It was a free for all love in at several parties with hippies mixing in with gang members. Violence is a plenty as jealous boyfriends threaten to pulverize their womens for fooling around behind their back.. Lots of fights , trashed houses and women getting beat up. Most of the violent scene involve someone literally getting their head smashed in against pavement. I am not sure if such violence occurred regularly at parties but then hey was not there. The end is tragically sad , a warning against infideleity.

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Primet for New Teachets an Essential Guide to Hands on Learning

An Essential Guide to Hands-On Learning: Learning Plans and Learning DiversityAn Essential Guide to Hands-On Learning: Learning Plans and Learning Diversity by Renée Berg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Looking for the perfect gift for a new or beginning teacher? Well I think I have one for  ya! I got this book off of my Amazon prime membership and had it for month on my kindle.For someone getting into teaching or at the start of thei career this would be a little nifty book for them to have. During their first several years of teaching they are sure to refer to it often.For me most of the material that was covered in this book was stuff that I had learned while pursuing my credential and my 15 years of teaching. Nothing new for me here nor for more experienced teachers. 

When I first read the title I was expecting a book that was loaded with hands on projects that I could do in the classroom. Well the book has guidelines and is loaded with other information that a teacher would find useful but no project. THe title threw me off a bit. It is the other information that I found useful plus there were resources and references that a beginning teacher could use for later in their career.

One of several things i liked about the book was the positive philosophy put forward by the author. Her opinions on teaching to the test resonate real strong with me. It depersonalizes learning and it is not fun. Each individual is a unique individual with his or her own learning style which is just as unique as their DNA. The term she uses are more positive as well., Remember that words for our reality. You are not teaching someone a lesson, that has a negative connotation. Instead you are creating a learning experience for them something that is low anxiety and very enjoyable. Remember chgildren learn best in a positive environment.

One of the greats is the numerous links to awesome websites. Among the websites are enchantedlearning.com and the turnthepage.com. These websites have downloadable activities and children's books. This is most likely put up by teachers and new teachers remember no one is as smart as us put together. Collaboration yields great results. There are also resources where teachers can get supplies or borrow supplies. As teachers you will have to pull from a variety of sources including recycling or reusing stuff like show boxes and plastic bottles. Here are some great websites childaware.org and discountschool supply.com

One thing that is really important for youngsters is fostering independence. Don't do things for them rather let them figure it out, at first. If the youngster gets real frustrated then help them out. Of course when introducing new material a teacher should alway give the needed instruction.  When children get into disagreements get them to work out the solution. When children are expressing themselves get them to use their own words. THis is very valuable when dealing with acting out behavior. Get them to express it in words. 

When generating your learning plan (aka Lesson Plan) preparation and  planning is everything. Have several activities lined up in case the main one you planned did not work out. The author gives several models of lesson plans and systems of evaluating work. When you submit your lesson plains they will have an objective, alignment to state standard and will target one or more learning domains. These domains are emotional development, social development, cognitive development, physical development and creative expression. Emotion pertains to feeling and how to express them, social is how to get along and interact with other,cognitive is developing academic skills,physical is developing physical skills and coordination while creative is stimulated by art and creative writing. THere are also several different types of learner. The word normal is really obsolete. You have gifted learner, wswho being smart may have social deficits and will require more challenging projects that use investigation., you have ell English Language learner, AUtistic Spectrum, Add/adhd,  learning disabilities etc. All these are explained in full and in the book it is loaded with accommodations. Neww teachers take note.

Remember keep learning positive. Process over product, mistakes are part of the learning  process.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Paranormal Pennsylvania

Supernatural Lore of Pennsylvania: Ghosts, Monsters and MiraclesSupernatural Lore of Pennsylvania: Ghosts, Monsters and Miracles by Thomas White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pennsylvania is land or state deeply entrenched with the supernatural. Founded by William Penn, the state was open to followers of all faiths and many people came from Europe to settle there. Coming from places like Ireland, Scottland, Deutschland etc. these people brought with them not only material goods but also many folkloric beliefs. This produced in some cases a folkloric religion and in other a set of legends.

Penn state is home to many supernatural oddities, some like ghosts can be found elsewhere while others like the squonk are found only in Pennsylvania. THE state is home to ladies in white, ghosts, werewolves, sea serpents and and perhaps a few others. Pennsylvania is also the home of some spiritual practices as well. Most noted are thee practices of pow wow, more properly called brucheria, and it is the home to a practice called letters from heaven.
Letters from heaven were sup[posedly letters from saints, angels or even Jesus Christ himself, usually filled with biblical phrases and quote it is meant to ward off negative things like illness and lawsuits. Pow wow is a faith healing where in the healer will put hands on and quote from the bible in order to effect a cure or remedy. Sometimes they even write out a charm. For more information one should read "LOng Lost Friend" by George Hohman. A drive through the Pennsylvania Dutch country one will see Hex signs painted all over their barns.

In Pennsylvania the supernatural reaches out in a variety of ways. It could be someone having a dream about where two lost children maybe found after wandering away from home. It could be miners chancing upon illustration etch in mine wall which depict scenes . Mess with those illustration and you are courting disaster. Some miner trapped inside a mine reported seeing every strange sight. Were wolves wil wander about sometimes attacking livestock and sometimes attacking people. When werewolves are shot often times later in the day one will hear about a person who was injured in the same area the werewolf was shot. Ghosts will haunt mines after they were killed with burning slag. Ape people live in the forest. Squonks ugly dog like creature though harmless will turn into a puddle of tears in order to avoid capture  . Ghosts will haunt libraries searching for lost lovers and seeking vengeance from wrongs committed while alive on this planet.

Editor Thomas White has done a good job collecting work from a variety of contributors. He offers good explanations about the historical aspect of each phenomena talked about and the essays have sources for further reading and research on the back of each essay. quick easy read and very informative. Very enjoyable .

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Magic of the North Europeans

Practical Magic in the Northern TraditionPractical Magic in the Northern Tradition by Nigel Pennick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With Nigel Pennick everything always goes full circle and everything interconnected. For anyone wishing to practice North European magic this book is an excellent resource. Most of the magic is based on the Norse gods and germanic methods that came over to Britain with the wave of Viking and Norse warriors who came over. There is reference and some techniques that come over from the Celtic side of British heritage. Nigel also does a greater job of cross referencing gods of the Norse with those from other Pantheons further south like Greek and Roman. THe book is geared toward intermediate practitioners.If you want to work with this book I would advise getting to know the Norse pantheon really well. This stuff is defiantly not Wicca although there are similarity. More authentic and more British, although Wicca too was born in Britain.

THe author starts off with the circle. The circle is round with 8 different directions or airts. So in addition to North, South, East and West there is also North West, North East etc Each one with different significance. The circle represent the time of the day and the cycle of the year. Runes are another subject discussed. The author is frank about this subject . Due to persecution from Christians the practice was driven underground and a lot of knowledge was lost. Many would claim to be practitioner but were in fact naught but frauds. Runes can be used for Talisman and or amulet. Talismans can protect as well as attract and they are made and activated in a ritual where in the author gives over the steps. Like Wicca enegery has to be transported in the object so it can charge. Other amulet that are discussed are the witch balls which reflect back negative energy and switch bottle which lure negative engeRGY way frm the owner of it. Herbs are discussed as well as are the uses but most of it seems to be for protection. THe runes can also be placed on the circle and have their proper place. So do the major festivals like Beltane, Samhain, Llamas, etc. The author goes into tools of the trade as well and they are more extensive than the list Wiccans have to use. WHen Nigel discusses the the festivals not only does he tell you what they mean buty he also give over some ideas for ritual and prayers so that you can plan your own celebrations. He is against memorizing scripts and wants everything to come from the heart. The path of the craft is individualized to the practitioner.

Great book from a practitioner who live in the land where the craft is born and raised. His practice does have similarity with Wicca as Wicca sees magic as transferring oar working with energy. Even elemental spirits could be described as beings of energy and consciousness. I liked his discussion on the European martial arts and the shapehsifting wolf, bear and pig warriors. I am a fan of Nigel's work

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Outsiders

The OutsidersThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'll cut it quick to the end, "Paul Newman and a Ride" , the story is filled with hope and yet also sorrow. Growing pains suck especially when you live on the wrong side of the tracks. This classic is about the greasers and soc's in small town America. THe greasers wear tuf leather jackets and gel back their hair. Being poor they have few opportunities, Ponyboy's parents have died leaving him to be raised by his brother Darry. Dallas is a tough as nails thug who helps out his neighborhood friends when needed. Johnny is unwanted by his parents and has to crash at other peoples houses when the going gets rough. Many of the kids and parents are hooked in tobacco and booze. The soc's seem to have a great life and get a lll the breaks but underneath the veneer of fancy cars and nice clothes are a set of problems that bedevil soc's even though we never see it.

The story starts out with Ponyboy Curtiss walking home from a show. He is different from other greasers as he likes to read and watch movies. He narrowly escapes getting beaten up. Greasers always have to look out for being ganged up on by soc's. When he gets home there is some friction between him and his older brother darry who raises him now that booth mother and father have expired. Pony boy is best friends with Johnny and he is good friends with Dallas, the neighborhood thug. It ids at the drive in where they encounter Cherry Valence. DSally is rude and Ponyboy is nice. Johnny sticks up for Cherry and her friend when Dallas harasses them at the drive in. From there things progress when Bob Randall on ere of the soc's gets angry that greasers were hanging around with his girlfriend . Bob is really drunk and that is one thing that Cherry cannot stand about him.

THe anger boils into Johnny and Ponyboy getting jumped by the Soc's. Johnyy has been beaten badly by the soc's before and wary of having a repeat experience . As the fight breaks out one of the soc's holds Ponyboy's head underneath a fountain. Johnny in an effort to save his friend pulls out a knife and kills Bob Randall. Both boys flee with the help of Dally, and go to town called Wendrixville. In a small town they both hide away in an abandoned church. After a week Dally comes and gets them. While they are gone the Church catches fire and all three boys rescue some kids trapped in the burning building. Johnny gets the worst of it.

When they get back home there is a huge rumble between the soc's and the greasers, but fighting changes nothing regardless of who wins. Like all violence it will never stop unless some people get sick and tired of fighting. In the end not everyone makes it and some people do die. Loss is a part of life. Ponyboy comes out of the experience changed. In the end it is your education that is the most important things.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

A Hsitory of Morocco and It's Jews

Jews Under Moroccan Skies: Two Thousand Years of Jewish LifeJews Under Moroccan Skies: Two Thousand Years of Jewish Life by Rapha'el Elmaleh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a land far far away on the North West coast of Africa there exists an exotic land that is filled with beauty excitement and coexistence. For thousands of years Jews and Muslims have lived side by side with respect and dignity. This would pose a bold contrast to what we see today in the news with Jews and Muslims fighting in Israel and Palestine.

The Jews have been in Morocco for about two thousand years and maybe more. It is rumored that the first Jews came to Morocco along with Phoenician traders. Together they built colonies and formed settlements. The Jews were traders and the Phoenician were ship builders.Upon their arrival they formed alliances with the local berbers. THey intermarried and many Berbers converted to Judaism. More Jews would arrive in successive waves through out various periods of time mostly to escape persecution. Jews also came along with the Romans and helped settle Roman colonies there as well. Of course when the Romans were quelling the Jewish revolt many more Jews would arrive. When Muhammad's armies were marching across the Middle East many Jews fled and went in the direction of Morocco. Eventually the Muslims armies would arrive in Morocco but things would be better for the Jews there then they were in Christian lands. Another wave of Jews came after 1492 when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella forced them to adopt catholicism, leave or die. Many Jews went to Morocco

Queen Dahina, a queen priestess of possible Jewish/Berber origin died trying to fight against the Muslim armies In the end they took over and her two sons converted to Islam and joined the victors. Over the course of time Berbers joined the Arabs and other Jews in cases and adopted Islam. Over the years the Jews and the Muslims would live side by side as neighbors. THey would go over to each others houses and places of worship during religious holiday . It was true brother hood in many instances. There were times of turbulence. THe Almodad of the twelfth century were puritanical Muslims who wanted to convert everyone else or kill them. Much like ISIS today. After them came the Almravids who were more tolerant towards the Jews. Once the Almohads were gone the Jews could return or revert to their old religion. Most political leader protected the Jews and found them to be assets. One leader named Yazid hated the jews and persecuted them mercilessly but once he was gone the new ruler was good to the Jews.

While most of the time people were good with the Jews. At times due to the fact that Jews were favored by an unpopular ruler there would be backlash. This would be cause for the formation of Mellahs or Jewish Ghettoes. THe political leadership would often entrust certain economic matters entirely to the Jews. When foreigner came and conquered parts of Morocco the Jews would benefit as go betweens, trader and even helping the occupiers. This would rebound against the Jews and cause them to bee persecuted.

Morocco gained Independence from France in 1956. THe leader at the time was Muhammad the fifth he protected the Jews during World War II and stated that in Morocco there were no Muslims or Jews just Moroccans, THe Jews were equal with the Muslims. Tensions with Israel and the Palestinians did make several Moroccan Jews feel unsafe and some Muslims attacked the Jews for what went on in Israel. during the 60 and 70s many would leave to AMerica, israel and Europe. Now only a tony remnant remain. Yet some of them are retuning either to retire vacation or live there permanently.
It is a chapter that is not yet finished. What happens in the next few years could be pivotal.

The book has many good points. One is that you get the feel of how closely inter wined Muslims and Jewish live were in Morocco. THey shared the same foods, many customs and Muslsim would even revere certain jewish holy men. It also went vice versa. After many Jew left it was Muslims who maintained and looked after the deserted holy places. Both groups could be very superstitious believing in Witchcraft and the evil eye. THe book at the end does discuss some rituals and specific holidays particulaire to Moroccan Jews. Some times Jews and Muslims got along better then Jews got along together. In Morocco there were two groups of Jews. Toshavvim were there before 1492 and the Mogasharim were the new arrival. The two communities never intermixed. The only drawback with the book is that they did not stick with the timeline but rather jumped back and forth which made it confusing. The authors did an excellent job documenting the Jewish history region by region. Great book and simple to read and understand .

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Queen Makeda's Kiss

Kiss of the Virgin Queen (Kiss of the Jinni Hunter Series)Kiss of the Virgin Queen by Sharon Buchbinder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A long time ago an Ethiopian princess named Makeda, aka Queen of Sheba, heard of a very wise king named Solomon. Hearing of his looks from Tamrin her trusted friend and confidant she decides to make the journey over to the Holy Land. After a long journey she makes her way there, her coming foretold by the hoopoe bird. Amidst her arrival there is plenty oif fan fare and plenty of intrigue. Solomon's chief officer heard rumors regarding Queen of Sheba that she was part Jinn. Such a fact would be revealed by gazing at her feet to see if they were animal feet. Naamah, king Solomon's Amnonite wife and her son Rehoboam are not happy with the new arrival either. At his command Solomon has many jinnis and shapeshifter under his command. One in particular does not like Makeda and he is thus forced to put the jinn into a bronze container. This battle with the Ifrit has lasting consequences that riple into modern times.

Eliana Solomon who is half Ethiopian Jew and half Moroccan Jew, is caught up in the epic battle between wolves and Jinn. Reprising her original role as someone working for Homeland Sewcurity it is her job to monitor Jinn  and werewolf activity . After all America cannot afford to have Jinn terrorists. Eliana's assignment takes her back east to another werewolf clan being attacked by Jinn. This time it involves the Adalwolfs clan and five of their children have been attacked and killed. One survives who is pregnant with a Jinn wolf baby. So Eliana and her partner take on the the Ifrit causing this. The ifrit has radiation that infects everyone . Similiar to the death of her mother when the doctor ask is her mom worked with radiation. Seems there is a plague of radiocactive genies about. Everything comes to a head in old Theiss's winery. All is revealed and all is resolved.

I am hoping this authoress will generate more books about Eliana Solomon and her shapeshifting psychologist persian husband who can turn into a lion and gobble up Jinn. THe story could use a bit more build up or suspension build up as it all seems to happen so fast. Stil I liked it . Well researched and the book proved to be a very enjoyable read.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

THe Classic Account of the Evil Eye

The Evil Eye: The Classic Account of an Ancient SuperstitionThe Evil Eye: The Classic Account of an Ancient Superstition by Frederick Thomas Elworthy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have never encountered a book about the evil eye before this one. I bought this treasure several years ago when Borders Books were still in business. Yeah it took me this long to get around to reading it. I am glad i got around to reading this book, although dated it had great information on the evil eye and several remedies to help combat the evil eye. It is a survey that covers remedies from all the major religious traditions and even some remedies going back to Euro-Pagan times. The book covers a lot for 429 pages and sometimes the details were just painful to slog through . Now some may say the book is dated but where else will you find such information of the evil eye.

I myself do not believe in the evil, but my wife does. THe concept behind the evil eye is that if you are driving around a nice car and someone gives you a look of envy it will cause you to have some bad luck. THe evil eye can be passed by a look, touching and even bodily fluids . Belief in this is widespread going all the way from Europe on through to India.

To combat the evil eye the ancient ones from times gone past have devised several means to protect themselves. Most important of these strategies was the use of amulets, which were designed to drive things away. Often times these amulets were worn or displayed out in the open and in other cases the amulet was concealed on the person. The third option is a scripturaL PHRASES written out and placed on the person.

Belief in magic is one of those tradition that will never ever die out because there is someone who believed in it. Sympathetic magic was the magic where in if an action imitated another action then it was more likely the desired outcome would occur. The Egyptians did this with their burial magic by arming their pharoah with food and servant or representation there of. THE Chinese give the deceased paper funeral money in hope that they can spend it on the other sides.Voodoo makes use of this by taking someones hair, belonging or body part and using it in a spell. Taking a cow heart and puncture it saying a charm that indicates it represent the heart of another person.

One of the most important defences against the evil eye was the hands. There were several gestures that someone could do to dewfend themselves against the evil eye. Most widely known is mano Cornuta, the devil horns. Flash them upwards to deflect the gaze of the evil eye. THere is also the mano fica where in you puit your thumb against the index and middle finger.It is a phallic symbol and phallic symbols represent the sun king and ward off evil. Last is the mano pantea where in you hold up your two longest fingers and thumb. I one time reinvented this wheel before I even knew it existed. Remember that touching is a great way to pass along the evil eye.
These hand signs can be done with the hand or made into amulet.

Spoken prayers were another form of protection against the evil eye. Included are various kabbalistic formula for protection and driving away disease. THE cimaruta is another defense against the evil eyes.It consists of rue and other suymbols. Many of the symbols have their origins in pagan times and are linked with pagan gods. If you are pagan you will enjoy this book because it discussed lot of pagan origins for certain charms. If yuou interested in the evil eyes this book has tons of information. This review cannot encapsulate all the information contain in this book. Get it and read it.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Yezidis : Followers of the Peacock God

The Yezidis: The History of a Community, Culture and ReligionThe Yezidis: The History of a Community, Culture and Religion by Birgül Açikyildiz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before a year a couple of years ago many people had never heard of the Yezidi, now people know of them because they were victimized by the radical group, ISIS.  Now they have been driven from their homelands and their women and you g girls have been sold into white slavery . Most people do not know anything more about these people . Which makes this book great because it discusses their origins, history, religious observances, societal structure and material culture. In the introduction this Kurdish woman from Turkey discusses the challenges of traveling to the different areas where the Yezidis live.

Those with a slight familiarity with the Middle East know that many people have mistakenly called the Yezidis devil worshippers. The peacock has been conflated with the devil. It was the peacock that lead Iblis  into paradise so he could deceive Adam and Eve.
In Zoroastrian mythos the wicked god Angra Mainyu made a peacock to display that he could make something good. The peacock is also a metaphor for Satan, decked out in colorful attire yet his feet are totally ugly. The peacock has even more meaning . The peacock was also a symbol for Tammuz , the Greenman of Mesopotamia.

According to Yezidi mythos. God created created the world as as giant pearl and then place it on the back of a bird that he created called Anfar. Later he sent the Melek Taws and the heptad of angels to break the earth apart and make it come to life. According to one legend of the Yezidi Melek Taws was the head angel, like Lucifer and since he refused to bow to man God chose him to lead the planet Earth. According to another legend Melek Taws rebelled against the creation of man but then later repented and god accepted his repentance.

The first records of Yezidism are in the twelfth century ad when a sufi mystic from Baghdad went to the Kurdish Mountains to lead a contemplative life. Sheik Adi came with his follwers andf lived among the Kurds of Lalish where he built his sanctuary. They combined with the Shamsanis who practiced and Ancient Iranian religion. This syncretism gave rise to Yezidism. It should be noted that there were Sufi mystics who revered Iblis. After all he was a true monotheist who refused to bow to anyone but god. The style of building sanctuaries was modelled after an opponent of Sheik Adi, a man named Lulu. He is known for building mosques with an umbrella shaped crenelated dome that was used through out Shia Islam. Lulu was in fact a former Armenian slave who convertted to Shiite Islam. The style of building was taken from the building style of central asia. Armenians churches are much like Yezidi shrines. Basicallyh they got it from the Armenians.  The sanctuary at Lalish, was thought to have been a Nestorian or Assyrian church until Sheik Adi took it over.

The Yesidis used to be bas weed in the cities of Lalish, Sinjar and Sheikhan. But since the 15th century they were persecuted and divided often times siding with the Turks, Iranians or Arabs against their enemies.  THe Baathist in modern times destroyed their town and some of  their shrines. THe Yezidis were also persecuted  along with the Armenians and Assyrians and are now spread out all over the world. MAny are in Syria, Armenia, Iraq andn  Turkey.THeir culture is in danger of being wiped out by ISIS fundamentalist and by the challenges of modern society where many Yezidi have fled to.

This review is far from complete there is a lot more information. I advise  you to read this book as you will find it informative. THe chapter on their material culture was rather long and painful  but other than that good read.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Early Civilization: History of Medicine

Early Civilizations: Prehistoric Times to 500 C.E. (The History of Medicine)Early Civilizations: Prehistoric Times to 500 C.E. by Kate Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mankind started out as hunter gatherer and nomads. Moving place to place with tier animals it would take a god many a years before they settled down into sedentary farmers. With the establishment of civilizations along such rivers as the Nile, Indus River, Mesopotamia and others mankind was getting exposed to more and more pathogens. This was cause by lower amounts of protein in the diet an higher carbs for one. But also with people being so close together and the fact that people knew very little about hygiene it would come as no surprise that diseases could wipe out entire populations. Also the close proximity to animals and their manure also brought about the increase of sickness.

Since man has been plagued by sickness and disease, man has tried to find cures for what was ailing him. Many thought that the gods were upset and so they sent a sickness to punish the man or society. Gradually their healing techniques would become more scientific based and less mystical. At first healing techniques were thought to come from the spirit world and shamans would go into a trance to find out cures for all that ailed the tribe. Most healing relied upon herbs and natural remedies but the ancients did in fact employ surgery. Paleopatholigist, people who study ancient diseases and their treatment have been able to determine how people died and what treatments were used. Trephiniation or making the hole in the skull was one such example.

Bodies that have been preserved in bogs and mummies have presented the best specimens for archaeologists to examine. The first group of people discussed was the Egyptians. They did not know much about the body but they did know about herbs.and how they could be used to heal people. Surgery was not done regularly and the dead body was never allowed to be dissected for medical reason or autopsies. They could submerge a body in the river and as the water eroded away the skin the doctors could see what was going one. The most qualified doctors were taught in the temple’s medical school.

The next group discussed were the Chinese. They believed that the body was composed of five main elements. Fire, Water, wood, earth and metal. They has to be in a balance in for their to be health. The main emphasis was on the holistic balance between the yin and the yang. The whole body has to be strong.

The Ancient Indians were also discussed, They believe in moderation and right living. They would use herbs to help the body. They used yoga to regulate and nourish the mind and the body. Ayuvedic medicine was based on restoring a balance. The Indians believed in prana or energy. Much like the Chinese belief in qui. The Greeks held belief in good diet and exercise plus the balancing out of humors in the body. The Romans were to emphasis bathing and hospitals. From the era Hippocrates and Galen were best known. Nifty little book.


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Friday, October 2, 2015

Untamed Witches

Craft of the Untamed: An Inspired Vision of Traditional WitchcraftCraft of the Untamed: An Inspired Vision of Traditional Witchcraft by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is definitely a tribute to the dark ones. definitely not a fluffy safe version of the craft and this is definitely not Wicca. THe author is a student of many traditions and he pulls from such sources as Traditional British Witchcraft , Voudou, Hoodoo, Goetia, Santeria and perhaps several others that I may have missed . The rending is poetic and inspirational , a reading that will definitely transport you to the Emerald Castle in the North. I should be as poetic.

In the early days mankind was close to nature and it's spirit aligned with that of the forest. Taboos against sex were not yet instituted by the all powerful Christian Church , which enclosed the continent of Europe in a bloody grip fog terror in order to force upon it the ways of the cardinal and church fathers. After Christianity became established anything that was wild and free was considered dangerous and evil. Instead of everything being thought of as one it was not a dichotomy of good and evil something which they defined. THe witch saw everything as interconnected and the more connecting a goal to a thing the more likely it was about to manifest. The gods of old were equated with the devil or other demons. Such inspiration for the devil came from HErmes, Baal and Mithras. But really who is the devil? Are Satan and Lucifer the same entity.? Some would say yes and others would say no. Satan means opposer while Lucifer was a light bringer. Light bringers such as Prometheus often brought knowledge to mankind, often at great cost to  themselves. THe author covers this much in depth.

Discussions go into the nature of the dark goddess and her many faces. Lilith, Hecate, Circe are all discussed as well as wondering in the night ffor it is from darkness that hidden knowledge is revealed and our unmanifest desires become manifest. Fairies, Jinn and other spiritual creatures are discussed as is their interaction with mankind. What is the3 nature of these beings? Read and find out. As the question as to what makes  a witch is discussed there is talk of faerie blood and human spirit interaction in the creation of witch blood. THe book has some recipes and several rituals.

FOr those wishing toi pursue the old traditional craft this is one good book to have in your collections. I would advise reading some of Michael Howards materials along with Paul Husson to get a complete picture and develop your practice.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Traditional and Innovative Witches

What Thou Wilt: Traditional and Innovative Trends in Post-Gardnerian WitchcraftWhat Thou Wilt: Traditional and Innovative Trends in Post-Gardnerian Witchcraft by Jon Hanna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wicca was introduced to the world by Gerald Gardner since then it has grown and new traditions have sprung up around it. This has given some rise to debate. The debate stems over new practices versus old practices. Traditional Wiccans don’t change much and look askance at some of the new practices. Check out some of the book and websites the debate is raging. This book covers the debate and does a thorough job to boot. Some of the ground is covered in other such books as Drawing Down the Moon and Triumph of the Moon.

While Traditional Wiccans may keep to the way Gardner has done it, the Innovative Witches are putting together their own tradition and practice. This has some unique causes and consequences. Let us look at causes. Most innovative will study books and pull their practice form those books. They may also pull from different strains of witchcraft and other religions to put their practice together . Innovative may also just come up with stuff from Unverified personal Gnosis. Let us not forget that public lectures, workshops and rituals are now becoming the norm as opposed to traditional covens. Take a look at witchvox and the number o books available. Some Tradtional Wiccans have crossed the line and become Innovative Witches.

Finding covens is rather hard, so if you cannot join a coven you have to learn this stuff and practice this stuff on your own. That means if a witch or wannabe wants to practice the craft they will not have access to the coven initiation. Some options they may pursue are self dedication, or self initiation. How valid these self initiations are remains a hot burning controversy.

The increase in Innovative Witches has led to some profound changes in the craft. One of several differences revolves around the Wiccan Rede which states harm ye none. Not all the Innovative buy into this. Many feel that if someone harms you or means you harm then it is ok to use magic against them that may harm them. Another difference is in the tools. Innovative which are more flexible in which tools they use an do not use. One controversial tool is the scourge. While it has been used in the past, many are denouncing it’s use because the tool could be abusive. This attitude is permeating the Traditional Wiccans as well. The Five Fold Kiss an the great right are not so up their either. It is too explicit especially for public rituals.

There are similarities though. Both groups are challenging the feminist view of history that has been taught, especially with the exaggerated accounts of the Burning Times which put the death toll at 9 million when the number was really much smaller and many of those killed were not even witches. Another historic item that is challenged is the view that humans were once matriarchal and worshipped one Goddess. The lack of solid proof and academic enquiry has lead less to believe in this.

Thanks to innovations witchcraft has become more accepting of gays, same sex coven and the craft has politicized around issues of human rights and the environment.. Remember that Witch craft and magick are practices an what you believe its not as important.


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Reading the Face Chinese Style

The Wisdom of Your Face: Change Your Life with Chinese Face Reading!The Wisdom of Your Face: Change Your Life with Chinese Face Reading! by Jean Haner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What's in a face you say? Perhaps plenty. Looking at the features of someones face could tell you lots about them. Are they nice?kind? mean? dependent? or Independent? THe Chinese used to look at the face the way gypsies used to look at your hand in order to tell what your futre and fortune would be like. Jean Haner, Feng Shui specialist, married into a chinese family and learned this stuff. Obviously she cleaned it up to make it more in tune with the times and more realistic. In other words a lot of the superstitions were thrown out.

THis book was basically written so you could look at your face and tell exactly who you are. You can also look at the face of other people and tell what they are like. A bit of modern wisdom is thrown in where in the author tells people to compare faces to the same racial types to get an accurate reading. She also tells us that we are all different and approach things rather differently,that is cool seeing that all of us are different.  We must be true to ourselves and allow others to be true to themselves.

Now I cannot go to deeply into details but I can cover a few basics and if this seems like a book you would like then by all means check it out from the library or buy it. First off Chinese philosophy or medicine is based on 5 elements. Those elements are water, wood,fire, earth and metal. We all have a bit of each in us at least. Some of us are strong in a few and weak in others. Most of us will fit into a certain type though.

Water personalities tend to be more dreamy and enjoy their sleep . Water hangs around in the caverns below Earth and it flows in the seas and river. It is a soft hidden power. People like this often like to sleep late and enjoy theirr dreams and tend to be rather creative. To read water features you would look at the Ears, hairline, forehead, under eye area, philtum and chin.

Wood personalities are the doer. They get up on time and are always actice on some project or other. They tend to be rather industrious. To read someone's wood features you would look at the eyebrows, browbone, temples,jaw and stature.

FIre people are those who lie to be in the limelight and have very showy personalities. They tend to be rather excitable and even bubbly in terms of personality. To read someones fire features you would look at their eyes, types of hair and tips of features. 

Your Earth folks tend to be very nurturing and friendly. They are  quick with hugs and if you visit their house they will have some milk and cookies for you. They tend to be very helpful and tend to want to do good. To read someones earth features you would look at their mouth, upper eyelids, bridge of nose, area above the upper lip, lower cheeks near the mouth.

Metal folks tennd to be the ones who refine things. They also like to stay to themselves and need their personal space and boundaries. To read someones metal you would look at their nose, cheeks, Fa Lin ines, eyelids and upper brow plus any moles.

THE face be divided into two or three different zones. THe right zone is where we place or public persona, the left side our hidden parts. If you do the three zones then recall that the top part is our analytical zone, the middle zone is our practical zone and the bottom is our emotive zone.

I found the book to be quite entertaining and author quite knowledgeable. I found out a bit about myself and will find such information useful in dealing with other peoople. Because if you want to help or work with others yu have to be able to read them.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Philosophical Look into the European Martial Arts

The Power Within: The Way of the Warrior and the Martial Arts in the European TraditionThe Power Within: The Way of the Warrior and the Martial Arts in the European Tradition by Nigel Pennick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The term Martial Arts normally conjures up visions of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris or some other practitioner of Asian Martial Arts. The terms is usually applied to Karate, Judo, Kung Fu etc. Martial means war and it comes from  the Roman God of War Mars. Now If I were to say Nigel Pennick you would most likely think of witchcraft and magic. Well now you have an occultist writing books on European Martial Arts.
 
This book provides real enjoyable read that is both informative and exhilarating. I read through the book rather quickly and learned several things I might not have known and ti top it  off it was written in a way that is easy to comprehend and  easy to retain the information.
 
The first part of the book covers the metaphysical underpinning of the European Martial Arts. Man was considered a microcosm of the universe. His body was supposedly consisted of four humors and when these humors got out of balance wee then that is when we got sick. Face reading was also covered . This was based primarily on Greek philosophical knowledge.
 
The author takes us to the age of a hunter gatherer where men hunted sometimes more than they needed. Heroes or super hunters would slay wild animals or pack of wild animals that were guilty of making things difficult for mankind.  From this evolved the hero warrior. Also hunting cults developed from this as well.
 
Cults dedicated to Odin would live out in the wilderness and hunt or harass enemies in packs. These people were your ulfredrs or wolf hunters. By donning the wolf skin they could take on the characteristics of the wolf. Wolves operated in packs. Berserkers were bear warriors who operated alone. There were also boar warriors and dog warriors. Oft times the skin was believed to be magically warded against swords.
 
As the fighters became Christianized they lost their connection to nature and adopted the code of chivalry. The code of chivalry obligated the night to behave in a courteous manner, be kin to women and stick up for the weak. The book discussed  the process of a young nombe boy becoming  knight.
 
There was also a preview of the different shields, swords and other weapons the knights used to use. There is some discussion on how they trained. After the intervention of gunpowder and the end of the use of bow and arrow the interst I warrior arts waned. After all any fool could pull a bloody trigger.
 
Over all if you are interested in the history of European martial arts or learning the techniques of such this book may at best be a primer or a good place to begin. I am not sure any bone pagan groups used all the things he describes. After all the heathen Norse mst likely did not know too much about Greek medicine.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Initiating an Era of New Gods

Overthrowing the Old Gods: Aleister Crowley and the Book of the LawOverthrowing the Old Gods: Aleister Crowley and the Book of the Law by Don Webb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Don Webb is a magus of the Left Hand Path, an official in the Temple of Set. I have read some of his earlier works and was quite impressed with his erudition. The meat of this current work is the examination of Crowleys great revelation "THE Book of Law" . Now many  Thelemites have told me that Crowley would not discuss the book of law because it was written for each and every single one of us and it is a revelation meant fort each invidual that reads it. Don Webb has written his own commentary on and has published Michael Aquino's commentary on it as well. At first I found the work somewhat questionablee because I am not so sure how much either of these authors spent in either the Golden Dawn, Order of Thelema or Ordo Templis Orientalis.

I know Anton Lavey did not nor did Michael Aquino. No less Aleister Crowley influence the entire generation. No Crowley no sixties quite literally. Crowley's influence went well beyond the occult world.  There has been question has to whether Crowley was a right hand path person or a left hand path person. Crowley wanted one with diety, yet he said he did not want followers or slave but he wanted an army of strong individuals to spread the word he also told people not to blindly rely on him but to come up with their own revelation.

Find their own revelations many people did. Gerald Gardner the father of the Witchcraft revival was a member of OTO and worked a lot with Crowley. But Crowley also influenced Anton Lavey, Timothy LEary, L Ron Hubbard, Jack Parsons, Kenneth Grant, and slew of writer and other great thinker. His students did blaze their own trail and thanks to Crowley's inspiration a whole new Aeon was ushered.

The Aeons of Isis and Osiris are over with and it is now the aeon of Horus.
traveling thorough Egypt in 1904 Crowley and his wife Rose held a ritual where in Crowley came into contact with Aiwass and wote down his revelation. Finding a steelae he named the main god and goddess Nuit and Hadit, next to them was Hrous.

THE Aepon of Horus is likened to the age of Aquarious where man is free from societal restraint to pursue his will and live in accordance with the desires of his soul. Recall that every man and woman is a star meant to live out its destiny while at the same time being respectful of the other stars out there in the sky.

In addition to commentaries Webb informs the reader of the influences of Crowley. His father was a member of the austere "Plymouth Bretheren" they had a strong work ethic and were strict. Crowley's mother called him the great beast and he went on to live up to that title. Crowley was also influenced by far eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Tantra and Nietze. remember Nietze believed in thee will to power and Crowley was about will.  After the commentaries the author discuses several philosophical under pinning of Crowley's philosophy.

Be honest I liked most of the book with the exception of the commentaries . I felt that they did not increase my understanding all that much. The first part of the book and the last part were features of the book that saved it or redeemed it.  Whether you are an occultist or not you may have something to learn from Crowley.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Disappearing Religions of the Middle East

Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle EastHeirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East by Gerard Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For countless centuries the Middle East has been home to a variety of religions that do not fall into the mainstream. People will find it hard to believe that non Muslim minorities could survive so long in the Middle East. Fact of the matter is that the Muslim Middle East was more tolerant than Christian Europe . That does not mean that life was easy for non Muslims in the Middle East, as these minorities have undergone persecution.  Islam bespeaks tolerance and protection for people of the book ie Christians, Jews and sometimes Zoroastrians and Samaritans. Many of these minorioities survived by hiding out in hard to reach places like high mountains or marshlands. These minorities have also been tenacious.

Now things are changing. In ancient times the Muslim governments did not wish to route out followers of other faiths, after all Muslims profited from the extra jizya tax. THe Muslim governments did not have the power to get at people in those hard to reach places. Now they do. While life in the past was relatively stable, modern times has proven lots more precarious.

In Iraq you have the Mandaeans and Yazidis.  THe author Gerard Russel is a British Diplomat who decided to travel and visit these people who are holding out and clinging to their traditions. In the south he visited the Mandaeans. THe Mandaean liv e in the sourthern marshland of Iraq and Iran. Thanks to blind fanaticism and the fact the that the marshlands are no longer a safe haven, many of the Iraqi Mandaeans have let their native Iraq. The faith of the Mandaeans is a gnostic faith. This means that the material world was created by an evil deity meant to imprison souls. THe Mandaeans hold that they are descended from Seth , Adam's third son. John the baptist is the Messiah and Jesus was a rebel against the order. They are most known for having baptisms for every occasion and their sign is a cross dressed in a white sheet.  The white sheet stands for purity and the cross symbolized four directions. THe evil Goddess Rouha created the world to trap souls. Mandaean thought had an impact on Manicheism. 

THE second group in Iraq live in the Northern part of the country. Many live in Sinjar, while others live in Qunitra. In the past the Yzidi have been much left alone. Now things have changed with the onslaught of ISIS. Many have fled to Lalish the place  where a founding member is buried. Many do not know the fundamentals of  their faith. There is a learned group and an unlearned group. Most Yezidis fall into the unlearned group. Yezidis have been thought of as devil worshipper. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Much like earlier legends, Satan or Melek Taus, was God's head angel. The head angel loved god but refused to bow down to man. For that he was flung into Hell.But while in Hell he repented. His tears quelled the fires from Hell. He tasted redemmpfion and he rules the the world. AS GODS  lieutenant he is revered along with the sun and the moon. It is believed that there were 7 peacock made only two survive. 

THe third group takes us to Iran, coincidentally enough to the Iranian city of Yazid. This is the central place  of their faith. Their number are in decline because of increased persecution. Zoroastrianism was the official
 Iranian religion prior to accepting Islam.  Islam had a debate as to  whether Zoroastrians were people of the book. While maintaining a belief in monotheism they do believe in a dualistic world. Ahura Mazda is the god of life and light while Angra Mainyu was the evil god always going against him. It should worthy of note that all thrtee faiths discussed thus far read the stars and allow their dead to be eaten  by birds before being buried.

The next two groups have a presence in Israel. They are the Druze and the Samaritans.  The Druze live in three countries and they are Lebanon, Syria and Israel. On principal they fight for the county they live in. Druze get a lot of their ideas from Pthagoras. They believe in the Universal mind which gave rise to the Universal Soul and Intelligence. THey also believe in reincarnation and that all Druze will bve born into the body of another Druze. Sometimes they have souls that go to  China. Much like the Yazidi  they have two groups of people, the learned and the unlearned. The Druze religion is not a very demanding religion.

The Samaritans live in Colon, Israel and in the Palestinian city of Nablus upon the hill of mount Gerizim. THe Samaritan are very similiar to Jews. In fact they claim to be remnants of the Lost Tribes of Israel left over from the Assyrian conquest. THe Jews in the past have thought that they were descended from settlers transferred to Northern Israel by the Assyrians. THe two groups have not always gotten along and in New Testament times they were at each others throats.  THe Talmud says contradictory things about the Samaritans. Now relation are improving and the Samaritans might be a bridge between the Palestinians and the Israeli Jews. But Samaritan number are dwindling. IN terms of history it is only recently that they  have allowed wives from outside the community to convert into  the Samaritan society. Every year at Passover tourists flock to  the Samaritan celebration.
Lately  the Samaritans have opened up even more. Now they are putting out literature for those who want to live the Samaritan way. This may help bolster their decreasing numbers. I  think they should allow men to convert into their community for marriage just like they do for the women.


THe final two groups that the author visited are the Copts and the Kalasha. The Copts are located in Egypt and were introduced to Christianity via the apostle MArk. For centuries they were tolerated but recent history has shown that things are turning against them. unbar Pasha increased many of their opportunities and allowed for  them to have positions in the government. This pretty much happened under King Farouk. With the over throw of Farouk the era f Sadat was ushered in .Under his leadership the Muslims brotherhood got increased power. This was bad for  the copts. Increased fanatical presence on university campus has led to aN ISLAMIFICATION of curriculum. Christianity is not taught at all. Also it has been harder since Sadat to build neddw churches or repair  the older ones. under Mubarak things went on like before with few improvement . Mubark still worked  with the Brotherhood. Since things have gotten bad many Copts  have choses to get closer to the church . It must not be forgotten that Muslims and CHristians   helped overthrow Mubarak and that Muslims and Christians formed human chains to prevent the destruction of CHurches. in the  south the fanatics are a lot more ruthless. Then again the Copts are more numerous in the South and have the ability to fight back.

The Kalasha live in the Hindu Kush mountain bordering in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. They worship old gods from Pagan times. they have solsticee celebrations for Spring and and Winter as do  the Zoroastrians. The author arrived in the winter. The Kalasha have their pantheon o0f gods and they get on with their Muslim  neighbors. Like many Middle Eastern groups women during their  menstruation have stay separated .There are also laws that demand ritual  purity that only they can do.

THe book finished in Detroit where in discussion venters on how emigres  from the Middle East are coping. Many do not know their religion so it is hard to maintain the faith. assimilation is a problem and each group is trying to come to grips with it. Many Christians find that they are befriending and even marrying Jews. Several Palestinians have. In a lll this is a timely work. It does not include all of  the minorities in the Middle East. A good book to complement this work is "Minorities in the Middle East" by Mordechai Nissan.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

reincarnation in Ancient Egypt and Britain

Mistress of the TempleMistress of the Temple by Yvonne Harlech
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

would hesitate to call this book a classic that will be remembered for generation to come, yet this work has several redeeming features. The first feature that stands out is that the author has done extensive research in oder to write this book and there is a rather extensive bibliography at the end of the book for those who wish to do further research.  I found that there was lots of information on Ancient Herbs the way the Egyptians use them. There is also extensive information on life in the Egyptian Temples. One gets a good insight into what life was like in Ancient Egypt.

The core characters are real people as well. King Seti was an actual Egyptian pharoaqh, Bentreshy was a devotee to Isis in the city of Abydos. When the story jumps into modern times Dorothy is a real person and she wrote several books. None the less this is a fictional account of their lives with several incidents put in to fill the blanks. THe main characters of the story are Bentreshy and Dorothy and both in this story are incarnations of the same soul.

What the this tale lacks is a story structure. IT comes off as being a diary of a soul that has been twice incarnated . There is no rising action, or climax in the story.THere is a setting, time and place clearly indicated. Despite the lack of plot you will find yourself glued to the book or reading device just waiting for what comes next.

Bentreshy is the daughter of an Egyptian soldier, who sends her to the temple of Isis as he can no longer properly care for her. In the temple she learns the healing arts of Egyptian herbs, spells of Isis and beauty secrets of Ancient Egyptians. While she grows up in the temple she befriends Nubiti, a songstress, Kebi, a snake charmer and Inhapi a healer. While growing up in the temple she witnesses the mummification of her friend, interacts with Anubis and deals with a sadistic priest. Later she becomes a dedicant to Isis and does not marry, yet she meets King Seti who is definitely not married. 

Dorothy her incarnation in modern times lives through world war I. Her interest in Egypt sets her apart from all the other British children her age. Starting with an accident when she  was young, Dorothy exhibit strange behavior and has visions of ancient Egypt. In her quest to learn more about Egypt she devours books on the subject and learns how to read hieroglyphics. Her skills in Egyptology lead her to a museum which houses relics from Egypt. Together with E . Wallis Budge, a famous scholar, they translate documents and make awesome discoveries. THe world war and Egyptian bombing leads her to the country side. To make a long story short her destiny will lead her back to Egypt.

IF Egypt is your thing then this  book is for you to read.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

A Sample of Tantra

Tantra Sadhana: A Practical Introduction to Kaula MagickTantra Sadhana: A Practical Introduction to Kaula Magick by Mogg Morgan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What comes off as a book dedicated to Ghanesha turns out to be be more about the over all picture of Tantra. THe first sections of the book are definitely about Ghanesha but the book later veers into the legends of Ghanesha and then turns into the history of Tantra. At the end there are some notes on politics within the different organizations spreading the word of tantra.

First thing to consider is the definition of Tantra. Tantra are basically religious texts from both Hinduism and Buddhism which places a value on carnal knowledge or gnosis obtained through whole body sensation. Sadhana is the practice of Tantra. THe practice has five main exercises. THen first is a the matra where in a typical phrase is repeated over and over again. Words have power. Mandala or Yantra is a holy design set up behind the alter. It represent the deity. Good tool to focus on. Mudra are hand gestures. Nyasa is the installing of diety power into their mandala. Dhyana is meditation. Puja are physical rituals. Lat but not least ios Diksha which is being initiated into an order. Tantra speaks of liberation through the breaks of social taboos. Tantra contains magic for results and and for personal betterment.

There are schools of tantric though that maybe available in the west. Among them are AMOOKOS which brings over traditional tantric practices but also realized that the system was highly compatible with the working of Crowley. There is also the International Order of Naths. There are five schools in the far east.

To effectively practice Tantra one must be initiated. Which is where the two previous organizations come in. THe book outlines some practices that one could do on their own in the mean time. Practices like praying to Ghanesh or certain mediations like creating your own astral temple. THer are also some ritual samples.

Tantra according to the author are the religious praqctices of the Indian population prior to the coming of the Hindu Aryan. THe ARayan were warrior who over road India bringing with them their religion. At the outset Hindus venerated warriors. Later things would morph into being more priest centered. The demons of Tantra were the Gods of the previous siciety. Vrious  lingustic proofs can attest to this.

Ghanesh has two legends surrrounding him. Firswt he was created by Shakti. Acting as a guard she gets his head severed. Shiva finds him another one donated by an elephant.Another version has him being born of Shiva and Shakti. A magician states at Ghanesh and kills him. An elepjhant head is used to revive him. Ghjanesh is a god for money and removing obstacle.

The book over all is rather good. The authorr gives to the reader an over all good view if history and background in an easy to understand format. Some of the working are good as well and will give the beginner something to work with both as a sample and as a tide over until initiation. I did not like the last part about the politics of the International Order of Naths and AMOOKOS. I do not care for politics when reading spirituality.

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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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