Reviews

Book, film, tarot and oracle reviews.

Holistic Tarot, by Benebell Wen

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Holistic Tarot, by Benebell WenHolistic Tarot, by Benebell WenHolistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth, by Benebell Wen
North Atlantic Books, 158394835X, 896 pp (incl. notes, appendices, and index), 2015

Holistic Tarot is useful as a tool for personal growth and study, with fresh ideas for tarot enthusiasts from a variety of backgrounds. Tarot practitioners can glean inspiration and find structure for instruction, spiritual and magical use, yet at the same time, an argument is made that much of tarot’s usefulness comes not from mysticism but from analytical psychology.

Including notes, appendices and index, Holistic Tarot is nearly 900 pages, and is chock-full of tables, spreads, and writing that is practical, comprehensive, and transformative. The book itself is more than a vast instruction manual for tarot practitioners from novice to skilled levels, Benebell Wen also encourages its use as a volume for teaching tarot. It includes information for numerous disciplines, giving a nod to the Tree of Life, astrology, numerology and the author’s roots in eastern thought, with the I Ching, a Ba Gua spread, and a sprinkling of the concept of qi throughout. Continue reading


Naga Magick, by Denny Sargent

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Naga Magick, by Denny SargentNaga Magick, by Denny SargentNaga Magick: The Wisdom of the Serpent Lords, by Denny Sargent
Original Falcon Press, 978-1-935150-59-6, 216 pp. (incl. glossary, bibliography, and resources), 2014

Naga Magick is an interesting find on many levels. Denny Sargent has written an erudite and fascinating glimpse into a world at once mysterious and paradoxical.

Naga Magick began life as a research project which then blossomed into this book. As a practicing tantric and historian, Denny Sargent can speak with authority about these mysterious and powerful serpent entities who have been the object of veneration for millennia in India and other parts of Asia. Serpents as an archetype and reality arouse both fear and awe in humans, they haunt the depths of our subconscious and manifest in many areas of human culture; a relic, perhaps, of a primeval fear from our ancient past. Continue reading


Jesus the Magician, by Morton Smith

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Jesus ChristJesus the Magician, by Morton SmithJesus the Magician, by Morton Smith
Hampton Roads Press, 97815747150, 309 pp., 1978, 2014

The historical existence of Jesus has long been debated with varying degrees of bias on any side of the argument. The problem in the quest for the existence of Jesus is not so much if he existed, but who and what he was if he did live: sorcerer, fraud, divinity in flesh, healer, prophet? Unfortunately the sources we have detailing his life are almost exclusively Christian, making harder to sort out the real man due to the fact that Christian sources would want to push a certain image of Jesus, so things might be shifted, added, or deleted from his life.

This is where Morton Smith comes in with this classic book reprinted after more than 35 years, for he attempts to analyze the Biblical and Christian sources, as well as the few non-Christian sources in order to parse out who Jesus was, and how he was understood at the time. Continue reading


The Book of Lies, edited by Richard Metzger

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DisinformationBook of Lies, edited by Richard Metzger The Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult, edited by Richard Metzger
Disinformation, 9781938875106, 352 pp., 2004, 2014

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “grimoire,” I think of dusty old tomes full of alchemical esoterica and glyphs in some cobwebbed book shoppe that smells of sandalwood, possibly helmed by a bearded man in a fez.

The Book of Lies, from the legendary Disinformation imprint, is a grimoire for the 21st century. It breaks the carbonite stasis of this kind of outmoded thinking, and zooms into the present. It’s a wonderful primer on postmodern magick, broken up into sections, from Magick in Theory and Practice, to Occult Icons to Scarlet Women, Secret Societies, as well as a section dedicated solely to the 20th century’s most infamous mage, Aleister Crowley. The Book of Lies is comprised of 40 essays from some of the occult underground’s leading lights, including Invisibles‘ author Grant Morrison; tryptamine consciousness from Terence McKenna; Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV alien Genesis P-Orridge; to leading chaote Phil Hine; biblical apocrypha from Boyd Rice; and anarchist activist Hakim Bey (Peter Lamborn Wilson). Continue reading


Magia Sexualis, by Paschal Beverly Randolph

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Magia Sexualis, by Paschal Beverly Randolph and Maria de NaglowskaMagia Sexualis, by Paschal Beverly Randolph and Maria de NaglowskaMagia Sexualis: Sexual Practices for Magical Power, by Paschal Beverly Randolph and Maria de Naglowska, translated by Donald Traxler
Inner Traditions, 9781594774188, 174 pp. (incl. notes, bibliography, and index), 2012

Paschal Beverly Randolph‘s Magia Sexualis has often been called the most influential book about sex magick ever written. It survives through Maria de Naglowska‘s French translation and adaptation in an edition of 1,007 copies published more than 50 years after Randolph’s death.

Pashal Beverly Randolph (1825-1875) was an African American doctor, and the occultist who introduced sex magick to North America. He began his studies with the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, and went on to author several books, founded the Brotherhood of Eulis, became a Rosicrucian, and was a rival of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. The Brotherhood of Eluis was an initiating group, which sought to examine “occult data in the light of contemporary science.” Continue reading


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