Archive for the ‘**Reviews – Books’ Category

A Guide to Pagan Camping by Lori Dake

Lori Dake starts her book on Pagan camping with a quote by Clark Griswold from the “Vacation” movies, “Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half  the fun. You know that.”  So why aren’t you flying?  This book will make you want to hop on your broomstick and get going!

From basic camping manners to food storage to planning to all sorts of other helpful tips, this comprehensive guide will have you well prepared for any Pagan outing, large or small.  I have personally tried some of her camping appropriate recipes and they are fabulous.

Literally, there is no earth stone left unturned and no corner of festivals left unexplored.  I highly recommend this book for those who are novices to Pagan festival touring and particular to those who will be vending at these events.  The common sense wisdom the author provides is priceless and speaks from years of experience.

Whether you are traveling solo, with your family and/or with your Covenmates, you will likely find your every question answered in full in these pages.  This book is certainly a worthwhile addition for any Pagan library and truly, if everyone followed these guidelines, Pagan festivals would be much more fun to attend.

The Book of English Magic – By Philip Carr-Gomm & Richard Heygate

By Katrina Rasbold

Much can be derived from the dedication of this delightful book which reads, “To all the magicians of England, who have allowed us to understand, and sometimes experience, the extraordinary ‘other’ world in which they live.”  Drawing from the magical world of the Motherland that brought us  J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett, and J.K.Rowling, the authors take us on an extensive exploration of the many facets of English magic with tremendous honor given to the ancestors and pioneers who brought magic to the recorded world.

As a practitioner of the arts for nearly three decades, I can truthfully say that there is very, very little about magical practice that is not addressed at some point in this book.  Although magic of the past is explored (and quoted) at length, the applicability to today’s Craft is also made very clear and the authors do a fine job of linking the past to the present.

One of my personal favorite sections is a discussion on the distinction between different kinds of Witches in Chapter Five, “Skin-Turning and Spellcraft,” primarily because the writers distinguish themselves as being extremely educated and reliable in their historical accuracy.  Whereas many modern day writers still cling to the clearly (and definitively) disputed and disclaimed notion that Wicca is an ancient, secret religion that survived the dark ages of persecution to flourish, reborn, in modern society, Gomm and Heygate dive right into the factual side of history by labeling Wicca as a new religion Gerald Gardner created.  They go on to herald it as [paraphrasing slightly] an offering to the world of a way of spiritual celebration that was admirably suited to an era dedicated to throwing off the shackles of sexual repression, validating the tremendous value of Gardner’s contribution while deftly sidestepping the inflated mythology that previously surrounded the path he created.

Of course, there is far, far more to English magic beyond Wicca, but the above segment aptly conveys the objectivity and respect with which the entire book is presented.  Too often, a book about magic that is primarily factual in nature lacks personality and warmth as it relays a dictionary-like listing of every line of rhetoric the author can dredge up from the work of others.  I am pleased to say that such is not the case with this beautiful collection of interesting and useful information.  It is extremely readable and one can easily leaf through any of the pages and find a mesmerizing bit of info that will keep you intrigued for much longer than you originally intended.

The Book of English Magic makes a wonderful reference material or personal submersion into the world of magic.  You will learn more than you ever imagined possible and sometimes have to literally put the book down for a few minutes to process what you have just read.

Having spent 3 years of my life living in East Anglia where British magic is as thick as the fog in Autumn, it was extremely enjoyable for me to revisit bits of information I’d forgotten and learn plenty I’d never known.  My children are arguing over who is going to read the book next and to me, that is as high of an endorsement as I can offer.

Many thanks for the opportunity to review this lovely piece and to the authors for their no doubt exhaustive dilligance in creating such a lovely collection of fascinating and intriguing information.

The Goddess Pages by Laurie Sue Brockway

 

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Wow!  What an amazing book!  The tag line is “A Divine Guide to Finding Love and Happiness,” which makes it sound like something along the lines of a quick fix Wiccan spell book.

This book is, instead, a guide to life; specifically, the living of the magickal life every day in every situation.  If more women would read this book, internalize the very wise lessons and embody the Goddesses as they are represented here, we would surely rule the world (and find love and happiness as well).

Thirty-six Goddesses or so are divided up into categories such as “Love and Romance,” “Work and Finance,” “Family Life and Friendships” and such.  The choices of Goddesses represented span many different pantheons and are a perfect mix for imbibing Average Woman with grace, self-respect, compassion, independence and just about every other attribute we should be expressing into the world.  Each section has an entry detailing who the Goddess is, how to invite Her into your life and how to keep Her with you.

This book is a must-read for women and a beautiful copendeum of information about the Female Divine.

The Shamanic Witch – By Gail Wood

Based on the research and experiences I have had with Shamanic Craft, along with basic gut reactions, my impression is that it is a more Earthy, grass-roots, no-frills form of Paganism that is experientially seated in explorations and encounters both in the physical worlds and the worlds beyond.  

It has long had an appeal for me as I tend to operate as a “no frills” Witch.  I brought this optimism and interest into the reviewing of this book and overall, I was not disappointed.

One stumbling block I encountered as I read the book is the feeling that Ms. Wood confuses the paths of Wicca and Witchcraft when it would have been very easy to include a very brief discernment between the two.  Clearly, she herself is a Wiccan and a Witch, but on a very broad level, this is not usually the case.  Many Witches do not indentify themselves with Wicca and the words seem to be used interchangeably in several places in the book, which I feel lends unnecessary confusion and misrepresentation.

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Trance-Portation by Diana L. Paxson

 

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Often, when a work is labeled as “ambitious,” it is a tounge-in-cheek way of saying that the author aimed for a high mark and missed or wandered off in the Land of Verbosity, never to be seen again.

In this case, the author does neither.  Instead, my impression is that she shot high and hit the mark dead on.  To be specific, in almost 30 years of paranormal and magical study, I have never encountered a more complete and fully applicable instruction manual for trancework and astral travel, as well as many other considerations that come into play when we begin exploring words beyond our own physical landscape.

The book is appropriately cautious without being paranoid.  It is instructional without being condescending or lecturing.  It is never dry or overstated.  Thoroughally examaning all aspects of working on the inner plane, the reader will be very well prepared to begin this sort of adventure without fear of unexpected or dangerous experiences.

The Ultimate PCOS Handbook by Colette Harris & Theresa Cheung

For those suffering in spirit, body and mind from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, I cannot imagine a more complete and useful reference being in existence.  The authors have assembled an exhaustive concondance that will answer literally any question a person could have about the condition, including herbal remedies for many of the accompanying maladies and an assessment of the effects of natural intervention such as acupuncture, reflexology and aromatherapy.

The balance between natural treatments and contemporary medical break throughs in addressing this condition is aptly reached, making this volume a near-mandatory reference for those with PCOS to have on hand.  It is easy to read and easy to navigate, so reading only the sections that specifically apply is also an option.  I can’t imagine anyone putting this book down once they have started reading it.  There is much more valuable information included than one would ever imagine they need to know…until they find it.  It is truly a treasure.

The Book of the Bizarre by Varla Ventura

You simply will not find a more fun book to read.  For those of you who were fans as a kid of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not series (As I was!  *Hand proudly in the air!*), you have found a happy home in this fantastic collection of “freaky facts & strange stories.” 

Did you know that after all of the battling, Atilla the Hun died of a nosebleed?  On his wedding night?  That chimpanzees have been recorded as using up to 13 different herbs medicinally?  That Aldous Huxley and C. S. Lewis both died the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated?

This is bathroom reading at its very finest and trust me, that’s a compliment.

Hedge Witch by Silver RavenWolf

Oh well, typical Mama Silver.  By that I mean INCREDIBLE!  I think Silver actually has a psychic link into my life, Goddess bless her sweet little Witchy Diva heart.  When I was a newbie Witch reading Z Budapest and Buckland and the Farrars and such, she released “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” and won my undying allegience for her no nonsense, thrift store, laugh at yourself/not with yourself, joyful living take on the here-to-fore, stodgy, “DON’T LIGHT THAT CANDLE LAST!!!” dogma filled world of Wicca.  She was one of the first to suggest that perhaps the Emperor (or Empress) had no clothes on and that we did not have to be afraid of stepping outside of the stringent dictates of the classic traditions and doing our own thing as an Ecclectic Witch.  She paved the way for many others to come who would embrace the joy and light-heartedness of Craft and enter into it with fun and openness rather than with fear and control. 

As she released her follow up books To Light a Sacred Flame and To Stir a Magick Cauldron, it followed precisely my own progression through the degree levels.  She released Hexcraft right when my interest in the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions came about.  Teen Witch heralded my daughter’s coming of age as a Witchling.  Now, Hedge Witch follows my own progression out of Wicca and into that sacred place I call “That Which Cannot Be Defined,” a.k.a. “Hedge Witchery.”  It is a practice beyond the typical labels that takes you deeper into the belly of Craft to find your Witchy roots and move past the pomp and ceremony of Wicca. 

This book is full of practical and clever spellwork and knowledge and also is, incidentally, a delightful read because of Silver’s engaging way of speaking.  The observations and revelations she shares, particularly in the first part of the book, strongly reflect the growth and wisdom she has developed as an evolving Pagan.  I am delighted that she put this information out into the world and I eagerly look forward to her future books.  Many thanks for the time that she took to compile this enjoyable read. 

As a practitioner of a couple of decades, you get to the point where you wonder if there is anything new under the sun any more.  The next time I feel that way, I’m betting Silver will put out a new book.

Tarot Wisdom by Rachel Pollack

*sigh*  I’m such a groupie it’s not even funny.  Eileen Connolly, Nancy Garen and Rachel Pollack were the names on which I cut my little newbie Tarot teeth back in the deepest, darkest 1980′s when I first began reading cards.  With the subtitle of “Spiritual Teachings and Deeper Meanings,” I could not wait to get my hands on this book.

Overall, it did not disappoint.  If I’d phoned up Ms. Pollack and said, “Rache, write a book and tell me everything you know and every thought you’ve had about each of the 78 classic Tarot cards” and she answered, “OK, no problem,” this is the book that would result.  Her writing style is still as engaging and easy as it was 20-some years ago when I first started reading her work.  It is just as informative and impressive as “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom.“  My own complaint:  I did not care for the illustrations. 

I would say that this book almost presents too much information to take in except that I am a “hit the ground running” kind of person with the subject of the Tarot and like to lick up just about every bit of insight I can find about different ways to read the cards and new considerations regarding the classic illustrations.   For me, there isn’t a point of “too much information” and I enjoyed every word of this book. 

I fully expect to go back over it again and again, just as I do with the Tarot, each time picking out something new and seeing a paragraph or sentence in a new light.

The Wicca Handbook by Eileen Holland

Well, truth be told, you know you’ve hit the big time when Raymon Buckland (Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft) does your foreward.  It is fitting that Buckland would introduce the book to set the tone for what is to come since this is a classic beginner’s manual for Wicca.  Although my impression was that there was not anything particularly new offered in the book, it definitely compiles a strong and extensive collection of material all in one place that would be both useful and delicious for the fledgling Wiccan newbie.  I would say that “compendeum” would be the most appropriate term for this book as it provides nearly all the information that a first level practitioner would need to know before entering into the world of Craft.  I would definitely recommend it for newcomers who want “one stop shopping” for all of their entry level Wiccan informational needs.