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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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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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