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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wisdom from the Depths of the Black Pearl

Pearls of Wisdom: Gems From the Journal Black PearlPearls of Wisdom: Gems From the Journal Black Pearl by James A. Eshelman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Back in the 70's and 80's James Eshelman launched a magixine called "the black pearl"
It contained article based on Crowley's Thelemic philosophy as revealed to him by Aiwass while staying in Cairo. Many of the articles are accessible for the neophyte and newbie as well as article geared toward the more advanced practitioner. This book is a compendium of articles taken from that period. The article are informative and enlightening and I plan on reading more of Eshelman's works.

The article inform the reader on the basics of philosophy regarding Thelema, instructions and history on how to perform rituals, Kabballah , sex magic. Tarot and personal anecdote .

This is a great book for both beginner and advanced. I will advice the newbie to Ceremonial magic to also read Modern Magic by Donald Michael Kraig. The more advanced can use this book as a launching pad into higher spirituality as it reveals thing never before revealed.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Book of 100 Names

Balthasar's OdysseyBalthasar's Odyssey by Amin Maalouf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The story starts off in Gibelet, which is a city located in Ottoman Syria. 19 years before 1865 A Russian pilgrim by the name of Evdokim pays a visit to main character's (Balasar) shop enquiring about a rare book called "Teh Book of the Hundredth Name" The story then juom,ps to 1865 ayear before the bfore the year of the beast. Balthasar's neighbor diies leaving him with the book. Shortly after recieving the book a French diplomat acciedentally finds it asnd wants to buy it. Balthasr cannot decline the Frenchamn's offer so he sell it to hiom for 1500 florins. Shortly after he regrets the transaction. So Balthar his two nephew and worker Hatem set off for Constantinople. Later on in their journey they link up with Marta who is supposedly a widow. On the way to Constantinopl;e he is almost knifed by a gang, hides out with muslim mystics and makes several enquiries about the reatre book al the while pretending that Marta is his wife.



In Constaninople Balthasatr and Marta enquire about her lonmg lost husband and Balthasar explores the local bookshops. WHile visiting a European owned bookshop a fire breaks out and everyone accuses Balthasar is accused by the town of starting the fire. He seeks refuge in the3 house of a Turksih nobleman who cons him out of alot of money. When he gets out the nobles man house he find out that he was not chared t=for setting the fire and that the Turks ripped him off.



In errant frustration he sets off for Smyrna where the legend is rampant of a Jewish Messiah named Shabbtai Tzvi. Thanks to this jewish Mesiah many people in the Ottoman empire have stopped working. Shabbtais influence on the Jewish community is far from positive. THe community is very divided about how to recieve this man.. Late he challenges the sultan by saying that the Syultan wil submit to his leadership, While in Smyrna they find out that Martta's husband is living like a king in Chios and made his money by being a bandit.



The next leg of their journey takes them to that island. Marta is under the impression that she is pregant for the two of them have definitely been together. When they find his houise the bandit king abducts her and Balthasr is arrested. Later he is freed and exiled off to Genoa where his family hailed from originally. A genoan named Grigoria takes him in and gives him the provisions that he needss. Grigoria also oferes the 40 year old balthasar huis 13 year old daughter in maraqige. His journey eventually taakes him to Lon don where the book is tracked down. He cannot read the book because darkness descend on every attempt. Finally a fire forces him to flee London with the book. As ffor the rest well you will have to read the book.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weapons of Malaysia

Keris and Other Malay WeaponsKeris and Other Malay Weapons by Gerald B. Gardner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Weapons of Malaysia

Gerald B. Gardner, the father of Modern Witchcraft, was stationed back in the day in Malaysia. Having worked on rubber plantations and Britsih customs in the far east he had the opportunity to interact with the indigenous people  and learn of the their ways.

One of his areas of study was that of Malaysian weaponry. By far the most popular weapon in Malayssia was the Keris. It is believed that the Keris may have originally come from India or Thailand as those two coutries sure had an influence on Malaysia. But in reality the Keris may have well came from Malaysia. THe tail of the stingray is believed to be the origin. It was straight with poisoned spines running along it. A handle was fashioned much like an umbrella hook or pistol hook which enabled for stabbing motions. The poison from the stingray could kill and the spines tended to be very sharp.

Early Keris's were most likely made of stone and then evoleed into bronze and other metals. THe first ones were rather straight and the later edition were wavy. THe Keris was made by smelting iron bars together and putting a young girls hair into it. THE holder was made by putting two pieces of steal together. THe Keris was also a magical weapon as it was supposed to be inhabited by a spirit and got stronmger with each killing. The Pawang, or witch would be the one to charge it. THe Keris could kill by stabbing or it could kill just by pointing it at someone.Legend about how pointing a keris in a certain direction to spare one's house from the flames of a raging fire. The word for soul is Sematag which comes from the pre hindu goddess Sema.

THis book written by Gerald Gardner also catalogues the various daggers, swords, spears, cannons and guns the Malaysians used. THeir battle gear is discussed at length as well as their attitude toward war. War to them was game where in there was never a full scale battle but rather limited attack on outposts . Often times the soldiers went to battle unpaid but took booty and women as their prize.  They often times dressed in their best finery. There were often agreements to stop fighting after a certain times and their was lots of room for negotiation.

THe Malys used lots of guerrilla warfare tactics as the jungles were very dense. They did not believe in fighting to the death but rather it was ok to flee a battle where you would die so you could fight back from the jungles. Pawangs could also charm people with invulnerability.  Mr.  Gardner never saw this in action.

Gerald Gardner gives a sobering account of Malay weapons by cutting through the superstition and giving us the straight facts. THe Malays did not have a very advanced culture and they got lots of things from Europenas, Indians, Chinese and Arbs. THe book also has a glossary in the back.

THe only drawbacks to the book are it's brevity and lack of additional resources for further research. Plus the information might be dated as this is an old book.

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Life and Times of Doreen Valiente

Ameth: The Life & Times of Doreen ValienteAmeth: The Life & Times of Doreen Valiente by Jonathan Tapsell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ameth

Most of the Pagan world knows her as Doreen Valiente. Mother of Modern Paganism and Midwife to modern Wicca.  Born in the south English town of Surrey to Edward Dominy, a civil engineer , her birth name was Doreen Dominy. Raised in a strict catholic background Doreen began having magical experiences as young as 12 or thirteen. One of her first spells involved protecting her mother from a co worker ago was constantly harassing her. The black crow would follow the employee around until she finally quit her job. Doreen would also ride around the street on a broomstick and have mystical experiences while staring at the moon. This disturbed her parents to no end so they enrolled her in a catholic school. Doreen left as soon as she could.

While in her young adulthood Doreen was constantly interested in the occult and studied heavily the Golden Dawn. So Inteense was her interest that she was able to get her hands on rare Golden Dawn books and pamphlets that only initiates had access to. She was known to haunt used bookstores to hunt down rare tomes.

The second worl war changed life for Europeans in general. It was during the second world war that she met and lost her first husband. His body was never found. It was also the world war that the witches were called upon to perform magic to stop Hitler's aggression . Also involved was Gerald Gardrner and Cecil Williamson.

After the world war Doreen would eventually become involved with Gerald Gardner and become initiated in his coven. She would later part ways with him over his excessive publicity stunts and reckless behavior. While Gerald's book of shadows had lots of Crowley material and other borrowings. Doreen would totally rewrite it.

After parting ways with Gardner she would work with Robert Cochrane for a bit. Yet his talk about a nightbof long knives against Gardner and use of psychadelic, Doreen would part wYs with him also. She then joined the coven of atho but then soon moved on.

After 1964 when her second husband died is when she really came into her own and began publishing her books. She was also known as the witch queen. It was during this time that she wished to push Wicca forward . She was against the degree system, felt a witch did not need to be initiated as the power came from within. She also advocated gay rights and felt gays could be strong ptactiiners of magic. She passd away in 1997 of diabetes and pancreatic cancer

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Moon in the Month of Leo

alas I am bereft of wisdom Let me sound my bell 9 times for though I would rather sound it out a thousand time. I walk around in counter clockwise circles driving away the evil and disease. Once complete I shall take the light of the stars a d seal it all shut. So my circle is caste much that of Honi the circle maker. Safe with in I can now summon the ancient ones and pay them their due. In tired angst I turn toward the airy wind of the east. I know Rafael stand guard while Hermes the winged messenger whisper words of inspiration in hart. So I welcome the sprites and their retinue. Come forward friends. To the south with it's burning flames I turn. The angel Michael calls me this evening to face an eternity of passion. And the flames of passion they are buring high. To the West the water world of Venus. Where lovers roam walking hand in hand. Love is the language of her. And Gabriel is there standing guard Ready to take on any who would interfere with love's quest. At last to the north I turn, Frozen cold wasteland home of the crone guarded by Uriel. Come forewards gnomes keep not your treasure hidden forever the old crone is the benevolent grandmother taking care of all our ills. Invocation Dear mother filled with child. Belly full as is the moon above. I light a candle in your honor. In many places you are called by many names. They change throughout time yet you are known in all the worlds for you bare the mother of us all. You identity all encompassing, for you are both the sun and the moon. Mistress of magic, temptess, doting mother bestower of good will to all. ANd when the moon and sun goes dark that is when you come to reclaim our souls and melt us down in your cauldron of inspiration. By the moon so full I stand in my prime. By your grace fair lady I shall  not go before my time. So the candle is lit. By your leave sweet lady I burn the incense offering before your silver stare. Hail the moon and hail the sun Let the spring come in and the winter begone. Bring prosperity and wealth to all  the children who know you. Chase away the poverty an bring us forth riches and gold. (Continue with mediation and that dismiss the elements)

Monday, February 2, 2015

THe Ancient Finns

The Pre  And Proto Historic Finns, Both Eastern And Western, With The Magic Songs Of The West FinnsThe Pre And Proto Historic Finns, Both Eastern And Western, With The Magic Songs Of The West Finns by John Abercromby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Prehistoric Finns

You might find it laughable that I found this book in a collection on Witchcraft and Magic. The only part of the book that really discussed magic and religion was at the end. Now if you are big on anthropology and archaeology then this book might have something for you. It is a bit dated I believe.

The first part of the book addresses the unity of the Eastern and Western Finns. There is a discussion of the different Finnish groups like the Mordvins and their relations to their neighbor like the Teutron, Lapps and even Turish and Iranian tribes.

THe book renders a thorough discussion on skulltuypes, habits, tools and customs of the Finns. A bit dry and boring for me. Some  of the customs included buying a wife or abducting here if the price was too high. THe husband could also live with the wife's family if he could not pay off the bride price all at once. There was no rule against polygamy and a sun could inherit his fathers wives.

The Finns came from somewhere in Asia and by and large they were forest dwellers. THey were quite primitive until they came in contact with Iranians traders who taught them how to farm honey from bees and get fur from animals. Their religion underwent a radical transformation after they came into contact with Turksih tribesman who taught them about fasting, religious purity and monotheism.  ALthoughnthe Finnish religion was by and large Christianity albeit after quite a late date. THey were also civilized under the tutelage of trhe slavs.

Magic for the Finns did not consist of spell craft and intricate ceremonies but rather it consisted of a Shaman contacting the spirit world and finding out why someone was afflicted with an illness or experiencing misfortune . There were healing works for many affliction.

SHamans were , as described by the authors and the research they explored , as somewhat eccentric characters prone to strange behaviors and even eplictic fits. THe position was handed down from father to son. To be a good Shaman one had to be a good mimic. But how was someone magically ordained. Well some say that milk was fed to a child that was stolen from the underworld. Other say the baby was washed on a rock with water stolen from the underworld  . Or a baby could be held in the lap of a sorceress from Lappland.

THe ancient Fins had a variety of Gods. Ukko was the sky god. Usually aloof called on only in emergencies and was not offered regular sacrifices. Illmarien was another version of the sky god but he had a smiths anvil and hammer and from him would come sparkes that gave mankind fire and lightning. Vainomen was a god of magic and song. Most finnish magic was in fact song driven. Tapio was the forest god. THE forest god had a beard of moss and would protect livestock and help the hunters with game. It was not good to encounter him in the forest. He had a wife who depending on her mood could be a lady of light and a fiend of darkness. It is believed that she had a hollow bloodless back. THe Lempos were devious forest spirits that tried to mislead travelers. Elves could come out of water and grow really fast. Brownies cam out and helped under certain condition and giants were just plain mean. Water spirts would kill you.

The Ancient Finns believed in propitiating spirits that were closest to you as they would be most helpful. The Gods especially the sky gods were not so helpful due to their distance away from humanity. Usually familiars or family guardian spirits were offered such things as blood smeared fat, food, salt and groat.

When someone died their spirit lived for 4 years until the body finally decayed. THE sky god had three wives the most well  was mother Mother Kave who could be called on to help in cases of illness .

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Baba-Sali
Holy Morroccan Sage engaged in Prayer

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.
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