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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Methodist Murder and the Cunning Man

Murder, Magic, Madness: The Victorian Trials of Dove and the WizardMurder, Magic, Madness: The Victorian Trials of Dove and the Wizard by Owen Davies
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One thing I like about writers like Owen Davies is that they give you the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A true story documented during Mid –Victorian times in Leeds, England involving a murder case. Nothing unusual bout a murder case except this one involved religion and the presence of a wizard or a cunning man.

William Dove was the son of a well to do Methodist currier named Christopher Dove. The family was quit well known in the community and they had solid reputation to bank on. William was sort of a black sheep of the family. Showing signs of erratic behavior at an early age, he would torture animals and kill them in extremely painful acts of torture. He was would inflict sadistic pain on other people. His father had tried to help young William in a variety of ways but William performed poorly in school and he never listened to the teacher he was apprenticed under. When people spoke with him they swore they were speaking with a dim wit. As a last ditch measure his father rented him a farm in hope of finding some salvation for his wayward son.

William did a horrible running the farm and he made a series of crazy and erratic decisions. The farm did not make money . During his time for running the farm William met Harriet and married her. Despite William being unstable the family felt it was a good match to be united with the Dove family. Harriet was prone to fits of hysteria especially after her brother died. Her years with William were not easy. Often times he was cruel to her , he had a drinking problem and he did not maintain stable employment. Since the farm was not making money the owner of the farm decided he would not renew the leas with William Dove.

It was at this point in life that William fell in with cunning man or bitterly known as a wizard. Back in those days Wizards would call themselves doctors or dentist as back then any fool could do so as there was no regulation. Many people would subscribe to cunning folk owing to desperate life situation. Many of the better educated felt that Cunning –Folk were deceiving and dishonest people who took advantage of people. Some phrenologist even stted that the part of the brain responsible for honesty and noble behavior was smaller in cunning folk then it was in normal people. They were master deceivers. Henry Harrison convinced William tht his magic would save the farm, predict his fathers death and also revealed that Harriet his first wife would die and he would later remarry and be happy.

The first predication did not come true. The second one did The third ….. William used strychnine to poison his wife. He believed he could get away with it. He did not. Prior to being hung he confessed his guilty and tried to spin some o the guilt on Henry Harrison. William Dove was tried I a time of transition for Great. Britain. Debate swirled over insanity pleas, the effect of religion and the humaneness of using the death penalty. Henry Harrison would later get his come uppance after being accused of rape . He was sentenced to prison but not death. After that he faded into history.

For those wanting to study witchcraft or magic it would be well to note that many of these magicians were not Wiccan with the reed “Harm Ye None’ In fact they took advantage of vulnerable ad desperate people. These guys were shady con man and they did not worship the lord and lady nor did they work with the old gods. In fact several called on new testament figure including the devil himself.


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Monday, May 25, 2015

The Witch was the Church's Best Friend

Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of BeliefDemon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Belief by Walter Stephens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Perhaps we should ask ourselves , who loves demons more the Church or the witches ? It was during the end of Medieval times that the Church was having a crisis in faith. Many were questioning the reality of the spiritual world. The only way it seemed to sustain belief was to hunt out demons. The proof of demon meant proof of the spiritual world. When the Church could not answer questions then what could prove to be a better scapegoat then the devil himself or his demons.

The churches view of Demons, Witchcraft and women went on a continuum. Going from less extreme to the more extreme as science became more advanced. Interviewing witches and asking them about demons was the church's way of gaining insight into the other world spiritual reality. Demon at first were thought of strictly as being with a body made of another substance, a spiritual substance. There was no way it could interact directly with the earthly plane. They did not have solid bodies. Of course they could possess people but that was rare. They could also possess animals. As time went by the demons, or church members , found other ways the demons could interact with our plane. Some said that it was entering into the human imagination, later on they could materialize bodies by collecting different particles but it was not a real body. toward the end of the burning times They did in fact have a body of their own. Demons came from the name Daimon which was an intermediary between the gods and men. So demons became a more solid reality as time went by.

At first it was believed that demon could not mate with humans but then as time went by the demons could make their own body and steal denial fluids from a man and use it to impregnate a woman. Finally it came down demons being able to procreate with human beings. This was all gleaned from church father interviews with suspected witches. Might we keep in mind that torutre was used and often times the church fathers themselves added details of their own imagination .

The witches sabbat was another witchcraft demon thing that got blown out of proportion. At first there was not a single mention of it. Later on witches were able to fly in their mind to meeting rot a sabbat. Things always got more elaborate . legend abound about a flying ointment that made witches cirtually able to fly through the air. At the first it was thought that demons tranported them or used transvection. Legend than stated that witches themselves flew there. Scientific experimentation revealed that the witches never even left the area when they anointed themselves and the witch hunters stood watch. THe witch hunters of course made some excuse as to why the witches did not fly on that particular occasion and the belief of the sabbat stuck.

The subject of witchcraft itself was not so bad. At worst it was thought that maybe someone of a week mind would engage in such practice. Many church fathers thought that witchcraft did not even work. Later on it would a ssume a much more siinister meaning. In the beginning men and women would be accused of witchcraft and then things centered on the women. The witch hunts got more anti female.

Witches were also thought to have killed children to obtain their power. This was achieved by turning into cat or a wolf sneaking into a house and drinking a babies blood. Dead baby fat was supposedly used for an ointment that gave witches more power. They would also use illusions to stamp out male viritilty. If someone could not conceive a witch was to be blamed.

As we see witches like Jews, alternative Christian sects and witches proved to be excellent scape goats. If something went wrong you know who to blame. If chidden die mysteriously then you know who's fault it was. All these groups were accused of dancing naked for the devil. All the groups were accused of stealing sacrament and using it's power for negative magic. After all baptism and other sacrament meant that one had god's protection from demons unless a human agent got involved, be it Jew, witch or heretic.

The Church needs to the devil in order to survive. Without it no onee would be afraid.



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Friday, May 15, 2015

Finnish Galdrcraft

The Pre- And Proto-Historic Finns, Both Eastern and Western, with the Magic Songs of the West Finns (Volume 2)The 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

Part two of a rather dated two volume work. Where as the first book covered the history and archaeology of the pre historic Finns as well as their biology and prevailing customs of the time. This book goes straight into the meat of the matter and discusses the songs used in order to invoke magic. This book has more value for the anthropologist studying up ion the subject mater then it does for the aspiring magician or someone who really wants to practice magic. Not many modern practitioners will have read this work, buit they may want to.

The current work in no way shape or form mentions anything about what herbs they used in conjunctions with the songs nor was there any mention of candles. So one can assume that the songs were sung just as they were in regards to the situation at hand. However, you might be able to add to it.
This book is definitely not Wiccan.

Most of the songs invoke old Finnish deities along with Jesus, his Mother Mary and a few angels. For many these song spells will not address modern day needs. There are no money spells and there is very little cursing of enemies. Plenty of the songs deal with helping crops grow, protecting those crops and protecting farm animals. There are spells for healing burns, wounds and even such maladies as pleurisy and pneumonia. After several of the song spells there are origin stories about everything under the sun andd then some. Most of the spells operate on a story telling motif. Guess this would be a use of sympathetic magic. The book relies on galdercraft which is spoken magic and stories do have their magical power.

If baltic paganism is your thing or if you just want to study old magic system then this book might be worth c

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Strange Tales from the Arabian Sands

Tales of the Marvellous and News of the StrangeTales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange by Malcolm C. Lyons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here comes another set of tales originating from the desert sands of the Middle East. Written along the lines of 1001 Arabian Nights, comes a collection of 18 tales found in Istanbul. The stories were written in Arabic and may have been written before the Arabian Nights collection. The stories themselves were incomplete in certain cases. Prior to launching into the tales the author or translator gives a little bit of a painfully long scholarly dissertation that analyzes the stories you will read.

The author/ translator notes that women are portrayed in a rather cunning trickster like manner . The Jews and Christians while having their religion as praised as decent are themselves written about in both positive and negative characteristics. Several of the stories feature Harun Hrashid , looking for a tale in Baghdad. He does drink and go about on his river boat in the Tigris and Euphrates River. Some of the tales feature beggars both as victims nd con men. Jinn feature larges in this set of tales as do travels by ship to islands on the Indian Ocean. Some of the tales take their travelers all the way to far out places like China and India.

The first story talks about two kingdoms owned by the same king . His son travels to th second kingdom and finds himself imprisoned wrongly by the vizier. The vizier gets his just deserts when the prince is free. The second tale is about the son o a quadi who parties away his inheritance and has to sell his beloved slave girl to survive . Later he wants her back and goes through all manner of adventure to retrieve her. The third tale tell the plight of six unfortunate beggars and how the sultan redeems them for telling a tale. The strange stories go on and on.

Several titles were missing and so they just use the first line of the story as a title. Almost all the stories strt with a prayer to Allah the most compassionate. While most of the stories had value and were entertaining some were really hard to follow sometimes switching scenarios with out warning and all of the sudden you are dealing with different characters and different scenes. The dampened my enjoyment of the tales. As all of you know giving a summary of a collection is rather tedious and difficult so if reading about the Jin and their world of the desert sand you may well find that this book is written for you.




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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Theban Runes

The Theban Oracle: Discover the Magic of the Ancient Alphabet That Changes LivesThe Theban Oracle: Discover the Magic of the Ancient Alphabet That Changes Lives by Greg Jenkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Magic with the Theban Runes

No one knows where the Theban Runes originated but they were used by Honorious to write a grimoire. The secret alphabet was meant to conceal from church authorities the real contents of the grimoire. The grimoire itself was compiled by number of popes and magi. The grimoire itself consists of 7 book and 93 chapters. The book is meant to be passed down to a worthy successor. The complete work is not in tact but rather in bits of pieces.

The book itself is simple in outlay. The first part consists of relaying the history. The second part informs the reader on the different types of spreads. The meat of the book deals with the symbols and their divinatory meaning. Connected to each symbol is a historical personage along with meaning and the meaning of the stone in reverse.

The latter half of the book deals with some simple spells and the progresses into correspondences. Finally it covers cleansing and making your tools.

The book is an easy pleasurable read that makes following the instructions rather easy. The spells are easy to perform and understand. What I am not sure of is how accurate the divinatory meanings are. There are good sources listed at the end and the author is well educated. Now is the info based on research or is it based on unverified personal gnosis?





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Thursday, May 7, 2015

In the Shadow of Empires

In the Shadow of EmpiresIn the Shadow of Empires by Sir Jens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The facts around Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler are scarce indeed with not much too go on for the researching scholar. Contrary to popular opinion Dracula was not a vampire, he was considered by some to be a brave warrior who fought for his people and his land. Others considered him a demon or a devil and that depended on whether you were friend or foe. Sir Jens who is a history buff rather then a scholar renders to the reader a good skeleton of Vladimir Dracula's life. There are no sources mentioned in the book, nor is there a bibliography which is a must for any book of research.

There are a few not well known facts about Dracula's life or should I say family that are not mentioned in other works, at least which I have seen. Vlad's grandfather was a Viovode of Wallachia. Like his grandson he too would fight against the Turks and would in the end turn out paying tribute and sending Wallachian boys over to be Janniseries. THe grandfathers name was Mercia. Vladimir the second or Vlad Dracul ,me weaning Vlad the Devil, was Mercea's first son. A boy of a more diplomatic bent he was sent to be raised in HUngary far from the court intrigues of Tirgovaste , the cpaital of Wallachia. He learned the art of diplomacy an throughout the gift of tongue was able to resolve many disputes diplomatically and rendered such services to Hungary. Vald the second while belonging to the Orthodox Church, converted to Catholicsim and joined "THe Order of the Dragon" which was dedicated to preserving Christianity and fighting the Ottoman Empire. For practical purposes Vlad converted to Catholicism but returned tro the Orthodox Church upon assuming power with the Viavode of Wallachia. He paid tribute to the Ottoman's and one would say that he was the epitome of real politik. As a matter of policy and a show of loyalty to Murad the Second Vald Dracul left his son, Vladimir the Third and Radu.

Vlad was born in the Hungarian town of Sighiousorsa in the year 1431. As hostages to the Ottomans they were raised as Ottoman. learning war and customs they were allowed to keep their religion. Life by and large was comfortable at the court although there are stories of cruelty . One was was that the boys could be used sexually. Vlad stayed their until 1448 and in hsi 17th year the Ottomans helped him reclaim his throne with a small force of Ottoman soldiers. His reign did not last long . Driven out by rival boyars , someone from the Danesti throne was put into power. For a good number of years he dwelt with his uncle Bogdan and son Stephan rulers of Moldovia. They did not hold to thir throne that long either . Seeking refuge in Hungary, Stephan would find refuge while Dracula's fate was more precarious, Janas Hunyadi was a powerful personage in Hungary and he had been the one for responsible fo the death of Dracula's father and older brother Mecrcea.

Yet it would be Janos Hunyadi that would be instrumental in helping Dracula reclaim his throne. First he allowed Dracula thje right or privilege to be the protector governor of Transylvania. Janos Hunyadi would later die of plague after holding the Sultan Moorad off from over taking Belgrade. This opened the way for Dracula to reclaim his throne.

The reign of 1456 was his second and most noted reign. Must be noted that neither the Otoman's nor Hungary wanted Wallachia as that would be a border with the two empires. Better for both if they could install a puppet ruler who served their interests. Some of Vlad's achievement was the cowing of the Saxon Merchant towns who could sway the balance of things and hold undue influence in the Wallachian court. He also supposedly wiped out the Boyar as they were a destabilizing element and made thing rather turbulent. He also killed off all the beggars and indigent. Now how far he went is up for debate. His actions are compared to the death camps in Europe where undesriable were eliminated. He mentions Gypsies, handicapped and metally ill but he fails to mention that Jews were the main victims. What is with Sir Gens? What other important details did he leave out?

THe second reign is when Dracula challenged the Sultan by refusing to pay tribute , torturing Ottoman emissaries and fighting the Turks as they came across the Danube. Ultimately Dracula lost and had to flee to Hungary while Radu too the throne. But there was a lot of back and forth. While in Hungary Dracula would be a political prisoner and get married. Eventually he did reclaim his thrown but only briefly. Having died in battle his hdedad was displayed in Ottoman Turkey.

Vlad is both a hero and villain depending on your perspective.Catholic monks and Saxons vilified him. The Romanians look to him as a savior. Bram Stoker's novel did not help clarify things. I know that some of Sir Jens material is somewhat slanted and biased and I question hopw much research he has done. A BETTER BOOK TO GET WOULD BE "DRACULA :PRINCE OIF MANY FACES" by Radu Florescu.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

The Dragon King

Vlad Dracula: The Dragon PrinceVlad Dracula: The Dragon Prince by Michael Augustyn
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The Dragon Prince

Since the release of the movie "Dracula :Untold" the real story about Vladimir the Impaler has been slowly getting out. Yet this story like others does have him turning into a vampire at the end. Taking place circa 1450-the 1470's when Dracula's three reign s occurred in Wallachia, not Transylvania , as teh legend would have you believe. The story stick pretty close to the truth of what was going down historically.

The Ottoman Empire, Hungary and the smaller states are set in war against each other with the little states choosing sides in greater battle while trying to maintain their independence as best they can. With in this greater conflict are several micro conflicts . The Orthodox church is vying for it's interest in Wallachia as are the aristocratic boyars, the kings and the Church. Dracula's rule is constantly being undermined and that is something that he will have to deal with. Not only is there a clash of religions but there is also a clash within religion. Islam vs Christianity, Orthodox Church versus the Roman Catholic Church. Different European powers competing against each other with some signing separate treaties with the Turks.

Dracula was the second sone of Dracul. Growing up as a hostage in the Sultan Murad's court, Dracula finally returns to take his rightful crown. In a bloody seige against Tirgavoste, Dracula retakes his throne with the help of Turkish military. Upon conquest the Turks rape pillage and plunder the cityu much against Dracula's will but he cannot do anything about it. His hold over the kingdom does not last long. Joining up with relatives in Moldavia he fights on their side building up alliances and skill. He takes his kingdom back a second time.His second time is the most famous reign. It is when he cleans up the kingdom from vagabonds, greedy boyars and other internal enemies of state. THe second reign was when he stood up to the Turks and took the battle to them. Dracula ultimately failed and his brother took teh throne to run it for the turks. The third eeign was short live. Undone by treachery of allies more so then Turkish military might. Dracula is captured in the end and destine for his ultimate demise.

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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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