Archive for the ‘Llewellyn Publishers’ Category

The Woman Magician

By Brandy Williams
Reviewed by Katrina Rasbold, Editor

The Magia Femina.  Long has the role of ceremonial mage been male dominated with the role of the female mage often met with a smirking jest.  Ms Williams has yanked this patriarchal art, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century, successfully marrying the many judicious complexities of OTO (Ordo Templi Orienis) and Golden Dawn with both the ancient and post-modern feministic power that permeates Witchcraft.  She details traditional rituals of the ceremonial craft into which she was initiated, but then provides a personal experience section after each, owning her own discomfort with certain aspects of the ritual (the use of the Jewish Star of David and Latin, for instance) and specifying how she modifies the practice to fit in with her own beliefs.

Her knowledge of ceremonial craft is tremendous and her explanations of each ritual are understandable and reader-friendly.  Clearly, the author has a broad spectrum knowledge of pertinent aspects of history, philosophy, magic, theology and culture which blends seamlessly together into an explanation of the evolution of ceremonial magic over time and an understanding of the emergence of male and female roles and archetypes.  She then takes that educated understanding and stands it on its ass by integrating it beautifully into a vision of the science of magick through a feminist perspective. She goes backward through time and embraces all that we know, but shifts the lighting so that the power and presence of feminine empowerment becomes of greater focus and equal importance.  Basically, she shows us in exquisite detail all that we do know about the emergence of this form of magick and then flips the exposure and shows us all that we don’t know about it.  Her deft and masterful handling of the integration of magick and feminism is nearly breathtaking.

Ms Williams takes on gender roles in society and integrates that particular construct into a powerful guidebook for women who have felt drawn to the altar of ceremony, but once they arrived, could not adequately embrace their own femininity and personal strength due to the overwhelming masculine claim on the craft.  I highly recommend this book for any woman (or man) who would like to take their own practice and understanding of the gender aspects of magick to the next level.

The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook

By Shawn MacKenzie
Reviewed By Katrina Rasbold, Editor

(Llewellyn Publishers)

What does a dragon sound like?  Does a dragon need water?  Are there gay dragons?  How should you keep an incubating dragon egg at each stage of development?  What terrains are hospitable to dragon life?  What medical supplies should you have on hand for the care of dragons?  What do dragons eat?  What happened to the dragons of old?  What is the separation of fact and myth regarding dragons?

Shawn MacKenzie’s profound respect and love for dragons, their lore and their keeping permeates this exhaustive exploration of all things dragon.  Her labor of love is bound to be the treasure of any true dragon enthusiast as she details the finest point of “the care & feeding, life & lore of these fiercely splendid creatures.”

The author tracks everything from the dragon’s place over time in mythology, their hunting,mating  and sleeping habits and their behaviors through the seasons.  If you want a measure of the fine points of this book, there is even detailed instructions for the legal probate of dragon inheritance and how to properly transfer your dragon to its new legal owner upon your (expected) death (given their longevity).  There is literally no stone unturned in the exploration of the dragon experience.

Ms. MacKenzie’s writing style is extremely favorable and engaging.  Her dedication to and appreciation for dragons as a life form is tremendous and it is clear through every word of her writing that she possesses great reverence for these magnificent creatures and those who honor them.  This book is a must have for all lovers of these “most perfect beings.”

A Love Alchemist’s Notebook by Jessica Shepherd

Dear Jessica,  My deepest apologies for the delay in getting this review written.  I kept getting distracted by having mad hot sex with the guy who is the truest love of my life.  So…thanks!  :)

Oh Jessi, you vivacious minx!  How lucky can we get to have a hot red-headed astrologist who is married and living a (presumably) happy life out on the Bay to tell us how to draw love into our lives?  Usually it’s old women who have never had a lover and live alone with their cat in Nebraska.  Those who cannot do, teach… but not in this case!

This book is such a fun mix of anecdotes and quips that you can easily overlook the fact that it his positively filled with wisdom, both inherent and scientifically based.  I can come at this from many different angles and since A) it’s Friday and B) my alternative to doing this review is to get up and start cleaning my funky house and C) it’s my website and I am the boss and I can do whatever the fugsticks I want to, I am going to do just that.  If you would like to put off cleaning your house or washing your dog or looking at your cat and wishing he was a man or some other depressing project, just hang with me and read about how great this book really is:

Magically  – I have lived and worked in the magical field as a magical person for, wait, have to count, around 25 years.  That’s right.  A quarter of a century.  I’m no Laurie Cabot, mind you, but I’m not slouch either.  The energy that is instilled into this book is tremendous.  It is very positive in nature and extremely empowering.  After you read this book, you will wonder why you aren’t sleeping with you more often.  You will love yourself and thereby become absolutely fascinating and irresistible to everyone around you.  Since you are – if you are reading this book likely – a magnet for situations that cause you to feel “less than” or unworthy, make sure you read this with a stack of bookmarks and a big, fat highlighter because you are going to need to go back to certain parts over and over again, using them for affirmations until they become a natural part of the way you think.  The book in and of itself is kind of a spell.  There are, in fact, spells inside it and I can personally endorse each and every one as being a winner. Stock up on candles of all sorts.  Just do it.

Literarily: Is that a word? I mean “in the literary sense.”  I am a voracious reader. I am a writer.  I worked for many years as a librarian.  I am an editor for several major websites. I am a freelance writer and journalist.  I’m no Dorothy Parker, mind you, but I’m not slouch either.  This book is infinitely readable.  It has a flow and cadence to you that will suck you in within a few paragraphs and honestly, you will find it hard to put down for the read itself.  Ms. Shepherd’s writing style is engaging, fun and tremendously interesting.  She is obviously well versed on many levels and it shows in her writing.

Practical Application:  I am big on advice that works.  I’m no Heloise, but I’m no slouch either.  So often in a book on how to attract a mate, the advice that is given is either so saccharine that you can’t take it seriously or else is not applicable in any way to “real” people living  a “real” life.  Not so with this book.  You can feel the authenticity when she writes about the pitfalls of attracting a true love and how we get in our own way.  You can imagine that she has been through the humbling process of having a worthless guy camping out on her sofa asking for a beer and has come out of the tangled web of dysfunctional relationships and regrettable encounters and lived to tell the tale (and do better).

Scientifically. I don’t know crap all about science and I’m no Carl Sagan, so I guess I am a slouch.  The ideas the author presents in this book are in tandem with recently applauded concepts such as “The Laws of Attraction.”  Even Dr. Phil says things like “What you fear, you create.”  This book tells you how to fall in love with yourself and bring to life a glowing self-confidence that activates those pheromones and sends out all of the right signals to the people you want to attract into your life.

The bottom line is that this book will work.  The back-of-the-book blurb remarks that the author is called the “Carrie Bradshaw of astrology.”  Carrie Bradshaw only wishes she could be as cool as Jessica Shepherd.  In fact, so do I.  (I’m 3 hours from the Bay, Jessica.  Call me.  We’ll hang out.)

This book is published by Llewellyn Publishers can may be purchased on their website or through Amazon.com (it can also be Kindle-ized).

Jessica Shepherd’s lovely website is here.

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.

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.

One Witch’s Way by Bronwynn Forrest Torgerson

This lovely volume is a quick read full of delightful stories and rituals to take the reader through a full year of fun.  Ms Torgerson is engaging and magickal, letting her words dance across the page like carefree elves.  The poetry that is peppered throughout the book is tremendously cute, especially “Two Little Girl Frogs,”  and there is just not even one page on which even the most cynical spirit will not find a smile.

My favorite line in the entire book comes in the telling of an experience the author had while in medative counsel with The Goddess.  “I had never heard The Goddess swear before.”  I had to chuckle over that one due to my own experiences with the bawdy and dynamic side of Female Deity.

Just read it.  You’ll love it.

Mystic Dreamer Tarot – by Heidi Darros & Barbara Moore

Penned by Llewellyn’s new “Go To” girl for Tarot writing, Barbara Moore, this deck takes the traditional themes of Tarot decks (based on the Pamela Coleman Smith designs from the Rider-Waite deck) and brings them to life using actual photographs of real people modeling the scenes inherent to the cards.  It truly is like stepping into a dream filled with various imagery and symbolism.  Each card warrants a careful study to quietly take in all that the card says and represents. 

Although this deck, especially given the easy to follow instructions provided by Moore in the 200+ page accompanying manual, would be completely suitable for a novice reader, it is equally appropriate for the seasoned professional Tarotologists due solely to its evocative and complex imagery.  Unlike many in this time of mass marketed Tarot decks, The Dreamer’s Tarot appears to be the result of an artist who took their time to carefully consider what the pictures would reflect. 

I love the format of the book on a purely aesthetic level.  It’s very pretty and has the look of a personal journal.  Ms Moore gently nudges the reader with special sections at the end of each interpretation titled, “Use Your Intuition,” that encourage interpretation beyond the written word and classic meaning, instead pulling from the reader’s own experiences and impressions.  This is a practice I wholly endorse for those who wish to study the Tarot.

While certainly not a flippant deck that one would use to toss out a simple reading, it is entirely suitable for readers of all skill levels provided they are able to relax into the complexities of the deck and allow their own subconscious to come forward and become an active participant in the reading.

Everyday Witch A to Z by Deborah Blake

Two words:  How Fun!!  Admittedly, having been a Witch for a couple of decades now and a book and product reviewer for 6-7, I have to say that it takes a mighty impressive push to get me excited.  This book is marvelous, plain and simple.  In my house, it’s quite a compliment to have a book relegated to the back of the toilet, although it seems it would not be.   That’s where all the best reading goes for us and this one will be a constant bathroom companion.  It is just chock full of clever tidbits, all neatly alphabetized in a magnificent mishmash that joins together like a patchwork quilt of Pagan entertainment.  From spell work to rituals to stone and herbal guidance to jokes and stories, this book has it all.

In Paganism, an adage is that we “live the ordinary life in an extraordinary way.”  With all of the many tired and true (of course I mean “tried and true,” silly me!) newbie instructional manuals on the market, I say with a great deal of praise that Ms. Blake has written the ordinary beginner manual in an extraordinary way.  That is not to say there is not a plethora of useful and entertaining information in here for the experienced Witch.  Certainly, a practitioner of any level would find this book to be extremely worthy and enjoyable to read.  As a beginner’s book, however, it sneaks the information in on you before you even realize you are learning. 

I would definitely add it not only to the required reading list, but to the required having list as it is destined to become a dog-eared, highlighted, bookmarked classic.

Enchanted Oracle Review – by Jessica Galbreth & Barbara Moore

As a long time fan of the artwork of Jessica Galbreth, I was tremendously excited to hear of an oracle deck featuring the work of this wonderful artist.  I was more intrigued to know that the text of the accompanying manual was written by Barbara Moore who penned the book for The Mystic Dreamer Tarot, also distributed by Llewellyn. 

True to my hopes, these ladies teamed up to make a lovely divinitory kit.  The 36 card deck does not attempt to play off as a Tarot deck in disguise, but does an apt and appreciative job of standing alone as a card-based oracle.  The art work is definitely some of Galbreth’s finest and each card features a title that is evocative and inspirational, leading the reader to draw upon their own psychic and stream of consciousness impressions.  Alone, the cards would still be a very effective tool for gaining insight into the self and situations. 

Barbara Moore has outdone herself with the text, however and like the deck, it is highly enjoyable as a stand alone product.  The interpretations and explorations of each card are just long enough to be engaging and interesting without belaboring the discussion as so many books are wont to do.  It’s a challenge to find the comfortable space between verbose and minimalist, but Moore has done so perfectly. 

Some of the accompanying interpretations contain exercises and spellwork after the explanation, which is a lovely touch to flesh out the 217 page volume.  In both the text and the card illustrations, the underlying theme is Pagan/Wiccan, which will speak to a broad range of consumers.  This would be the perfect gift for a burgeoning seer or a very personal addition to a Witch’s library, experienced or novice.  It even comes with a precious little fairy pendant.