Reviews

Book, film, tarot and oracle reviews.

Jane Eyre’s Sisters, by Jody Gentian Bower

By | Leave a comment

Jane Eyre's Sisters, by Jody Gentian BowerJane Eyre's Sisters, by Jody Gentian BowerJane Eyre's Sisters: How Women Live And Write The Heroine's Story, by Jody Gentian Bower, foreword by Christine Downing Quest Books, 9780835609340, 256 pp., 2015Jane Eyre's Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine's Story is a wonderful and concise book exploring the Aletis, or wandering woman, who must wander off into the wilderness of the unknown to fulfil her ultimate destiny: being herself.Jody Gentian Bower's central focus -- the differences between the heroine's journey and the hero's journey, as related in Joseph Campbell's classic book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces -- takes into account both classic literature as well as more recent pop cultural standards, such as Toni Morrison's Beloved in a way that has something for everybody interested in the female experience, literary criticism, mythology, and mapping the hidden contents of our minds.The text examines mythical figures such as Inanna or Ishtar and Psyche, to literary figures such as Elizabeth Bennett and Lyra Belacqua, Bower explores the archetypal story of "The Wandering Woman," across time and culture. Read More

Bringing Race to the Table, ed. by Crystal Blanton

By | Leave a comment

Brining Race to the Table, edited by Crystal Blanton, et al.Brining Race to the Table, edited by Crystal Blanton, et al.Bringing Race to the Table: Exploring Racism in the Pagan Community, edited by Crystal Blanton, Taylor Ellwood, and Brandy Williams Megalithica Books, 9781905713981, 295 pp. (incl. author biographies), 2015A striking collection of essays, current and diverse, Bringing Race to the Table: Exploring Racism in the Pagan Community is a work of dedication and power. Crystal Blanton, author, editor of two previous books on the topic of diversity, Patheos blogger, Wild Hunt contributor and social worker -- in addition to a priestess and witch -- delivers a must-read text in conjunction with her two coeditors, Taylor Ellwood and Brandy Williams.Blanton does a stellar job showcasing voices from many perspectives. The diverse authors of the essays come from across the lines of gender, race, socio-economic class, spiritual practise, and education. Bringing Race to the Table makes room for many rarely discussed viewpoints, even in advanced circles or books. This makes for a full spectrum and undeniable look at the built-in mechanisms of discrimination that have followed so many of us from the overculture into Paganism. The calling-out and of racist, sexist, gendered, and classist behaviour is one string in the fabric Blanton weaves. Another is the choice to not perpetuate these actions in our own lives, but to turn toward the struggles many of our brothers and sisters live with daily. Read More

The Witch’s Oracle

By | 3 comments

The Witch's Oracle, by Marla BrooksThe Witch's Oracle, by Marla BrooksThe Witch’s Oracle, by Marla Brooks, illustrated by Aunia Kahn
Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 978-0-7643-4931-7, 45 cards, 112 pp., 2015

Divination tools, be they card decks, runes, or pendulums, carry a certain resonance that an astute reader will feel as soon as they look at them, or hold them in their hand. This is largely how they decide to work with a particular tool. And so it was when I received The Witch’s Oracle.

As I opened the postal carton and looked at the box, it felt to me like Samhain. The box and the cards themselves are dark, velvety and deep, and reminded me of the richness of the traditional regalia witches wear on that sabbat. The red and black brocade card back becomes iridescent as the angle of light hitting it changes: quite stunning.

Card illustrations by Aunia Kahn are simple but not simplistic, depicting witch’s tools, symbols, and real and mythical beasts. Even if the cards were not labelled, you would not have to guess what they represent. The brocade used on the card back, in different colours, is used as background for some of the cards and works beautifully.

The box has a pull tab so there’s no struggling to open it, and the cards are small enough for easy shuffling. The booklet, with text by Marla Brooks, is small as well, as is the type size, which should have been bigger. Most of the pages have abundant white space, enough that some of it could have been used for easier reading.

The booklet contains sections on clearing, consecrating and charging the deck; how to work with the deck, including a couple of simple spreads; and card meanings. The latter is broken up into some background about the card’s symbol, the meaning of the card and a rhyming incantation to activate its energy. All sections were short, but enough to get some insight into the significance of each card drawn in a reading.

To test the deck I drew a single card, Skull, with the meaning of “carpe diem” and a reminder to not overlook the simple things in life. True enough for me right now, and a reminder I’ve received through other divination methods.

I also used the Witch’s Broom spread — a modified past, present, future spread — to explore the cards further. I drew Dreamcatcher to represent me; Spider to represent challenges I face; Owl to represent opportunities; and Triple Goddess, Ankh, and Chinese Dragon to represent the past, present, and future, respectively. The meanings of the individual cards relative to their positions — especially the Ankh card, representing the present — and the reading as a whole made sense to me.

The Witch’s Oracle is a good solid deck for beginners, either to the Craft or to working with cards. The cards are a fun way to learn about some classic witch symbolism and tools, just enough to whet one’s appetite to learn more from other sources. They’re straightforward enough and the spreads basic enough that someone just learning how to piece together a reading can receive useful information. And they’re pleasing to look at, with a real feeling of magick.

For someone serious about both the Wiccan path and card divination, I’d suggest starting with The Witch’s Oracle and then moving on to The Wicca Deck, which I previously reviewed. Between these two decks, one can gain a great grounding for further work with more intricate divination.


The Book of Primal Signs, by Nigel Pennick

By | Leave a comment

The Book of Primal Signs, by Nigel PennickThe Book of Primal Signs, by Nigel PennickThe Book of Primal Signs: The High Magic of Symbols, by Nigel Pennick Destiny Books, 9781620553152, 240 pp. (incl. bibliography and index), 2014Understanding signs and symbols, at least to some extent, can be an important part of many people’s practice. The Book of Primal Signs: The High Magic of Symbols by Nigel Pennick takes an in depth look at many common and uncommon symbols as seen in today’s modern world.The Book of Primal Signs is not a casual read. The tome is academic in nature, and, as such, the writing tends to be quite heavy and dense. There’s a lot of information contained in not so many pages. The text itself is only 200 pages long with an additional 30 paid to the bibliography and index. It hits on large, familiar symbols such like the swastika and the common runes while still paying attention to lesser known images like the checker. Pennick spends equal time discussing the history and usage of all symbols in both the magical world and in popular culture. Read More

Silver Witchcraft Tarot Kit, by Barbara Moore

By | Leave a comment

Detail of the Ace of Pentacles, from the Silver Witchcraft TarotThe Silver Witchcraft Tarot Kit, by Barbara MooreSilver Witchcraft Tarot Kit: The Ancient Wisdom of Tarot, booklet by Barbara Moore, artwork by Franco Rivolli Lo Scarabeo, 9788865273104, 78 cards, 160 pp. booklet, 2014Illustrated by Franco Rivolli, The Silver Witchcraft Tarot is a Pagan deck that focuses on the cycle of the year and feminine energies. It draws upon traditional Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (RWS) imagery as well as nature-based “magickal spiritual understanding,” says Barbara Moore.When opening the deck for the first time, its most striking features are the silver gilded edges and vibrant colours. The cards are easy to shuffle, riffling showcases the beautiful gilt edging, and the cardstock feels sturdy, but not too thick. The large box that houses the cards and booklet shows off the prettiest card in the deck, the Ace of Cups, and is great for storage, but a bit cumbersome for travel. Read More

Manual of Psychomagic, by Alejandro Jodorowsky

By | 4 comments

Alejandro JodorowskyManual of Psychomagic, by Alejandro JodorowskyManual of Psychomagic: The Practice of Shamanic Psychotherapy, by Alejandro Jodorowsky, translated by Rachael LaValley Inner Traditions, 978-1-62055-107-3, 243 pp. (incl. appendix and index) 2009, 2015In essence a self-help spellbook, Alejandro Jodorowsky begins Manual of Psychomagic with a brief introduction outlining his perspective. He believes that many of an individual’s problems (including physical ailments such as psoriasis, cancer, and infectious disease) stem from the effects of misguided parental actions and sociocultural restrictions on one’s unconscious. To allow one’s unconscious to release the tension it holds one must undertake a dramatic ritual. Through the ritual’s performance and the symbolic fulfillment of desires or release of bonds, the unconscious will be satisfied and one’s problems will dissipate.Jodorowsky’s method is as follows: he uses the tarot to discover and diagnose a consultant’s issue and then prescribes them an act to undertake. He states explicitly that psychomagic is not in fact magick, but acts directly on the individual’s psyche. Unfortunately Manual of Psychomagic suffers from a number of endemic flaws -- including one piece of critically misguided advice. Read More

Page 1 of 7012345...102030...Last »