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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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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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