Archive for the ‘Red Wheel/Weiser’ Category

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 Sharman Caselli Tarot Deck

Part of me thinks I should recuse myself from reviewing this deck considering that Juliet Sharman-Burke is one of my favorite Tarot writers and was also one of the first I ever read decades ago when I first began exploring the Tarot.  In my mind, she can do no wrong.

I was eager to review this deck, however and very excited to get it in my hot little hands.  I am less familiar with Giovanni Caselli’s work unless you consider the other Giovanni Caselli – small factoid here – who invented the first fax machine around 1856.  

The deck is reminiscent of the many decks put out by Lo Scarabeo (which this is not) in that the majority of the figures in the cards are fairly expressionless and the color themes are mostly in pastels.   

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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.

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.

Lean Forward Into Your Life by Maryanne Radmacher

This is a lovely book full of inspirational stories intended to allow us reflection on our own situations that run parallel or otherwise to experience the losses and gains others have experience and we have not.

For me, it was a difficult book to read in many places for as much as it was inspiring and motivational, it was also illustrative of how often it is through painful and suffering and adversity that our inspiration and forward momentum is achieved.  Combining both literary references and personal experience, Ms Radmacher does a fine job of pulling together a nice balance between joy that will make your heart soar and pain that will make your spirit weep.

Unfortunately, I do not like for my spirit to weep, so while it was not my cup of tea throughout, others who are better able to move beyond the adversity and heartache some of the subjects of her commentary have experienced would likely enjoy the book much, much more.

Certainly, this is not a negative reflection on the author, but merely a personal preference on my own part.  The book is well written and quite thoughtful and would make a wonderful gift for the right person.

Magic When You Need It by Judika Illes

Jersey Girl, Judika Illes won my heart with her book Pure Magic, which is similar in nature to Magic When You Need It in that both are what are commonly referred to as “Recipe Books” full of spells for different occasions. 

While Pure Magic is more of a basic spell book, Magic When You Need It is a hard hitting one-two punch that brings high powered spell work to specific life arenas.  I love the approach Illes takes in her books of nothing being impossible or beyond the reach of a practiced Witch.  When working with her spells, particularly in this book, there is a strong feeling of flow and connect.  There is no wall to block the energy and the power of the words is almost palpable.

Clearly, she is an accomplished Witch and is able to convey the strength of her own practice through the written word in such a way that you almost feel as though she is right there working along with you at your side.  In this day and time, it is tough to find a Witch who will write a spell book that includes a ritual for Invoking The Dead and do so with a straight face.  That’s not intended to doubt the effective autheticity of the author’s work or to mock the intent whatsoever, but purely to illustrated that finding a true, balls-to-the-wall Witch is a rare and joyous experience.

When I read this book as a seasoned (and admittedly, sometimes bored) practitioner, I have to say my prevailing feeling was one of immense desire to get this lady into circle, crank up the drumming and knock a few roofs off some houses in the neighborhood.

Ms Illes shows us more of herself in this book than in her previous, and very worthy, efforts and the more I see, the more I like.