Chemical Serpents: The Symbols of Illumination, by Anton Channing, illustrations by Janice Duke
When Illuminated Press, 978-1-909279-01-8, 100 pp. (incl. appendix, bibliography), 2013, Silver First Edition
I started falling in love with this book as it came out of the packaging. It’s tight, and has good, heavy cover stock and glossy high-quality pages. The cover art (an interpretation of Baphomet within an ouroboros) is a feast for the eyes and mind. The notebook-sized format, 8.5 x 11″, gives plenty of room for the text and lavish illustrations throughout its 100 pages. The print is done with accent colours, which takes a little acclimatization, rather like one’s first time playing poker with four-colour cards, but then the effect is pleasing.
The plan of the book is Pythagorean, in the sense that it starts with serpent symbolism, including the ouroboros, as the one, moves into egg-and-serpent and other generative symbols for the dyad, then has sections on the trinity, the four elements of the manifest world, then the pentagram, hexagram, and heptagram in the section on the microcosm and macrocosm before synthesizing in the long chapter on world trees, and ending in a Gnostic lecture on illumination. Continue reading
LeMulGeton: Goetia and the Stellar Tradition, by Leo Holmes
Fall of Man Press, 105 pp. (incl. bibliography), 2013
The title LeMulgeton combines the titles of two older books, Lemegeton and MUL.APIN. Written in the 17th century, Lemegeton, otherwise known as The Lesser Key of Solomon, contains a list of 72 demons with sigils and instructions for how to summon them, how each of them appears and their relative strengths. MUL.APIN, on the other hand, is the name of a Babylonian compendium on astronomy and astrology that dates back three thousand years.
When LeMulGeton arrived in my home and I unpacked it, I immediately noticed both its small size and beautiful presentation. It comes in a black card box showing the stars of the constellation of Orion in silver and a red wax seal. Inside we find a plain black paperback book with the full title, LEMULGETON: Goetia and the Stellar Tradition written simply on the cover in a bright silvery grey. Simple, but stylish. The box with wax seal adds a touch of unique style. Continue reading
Pisces, by Joanna Martine Woolfolk
Taylor Trade Publishing, 9781589795648, 90 pp., 2011
This book takes an in-depth look at the sign of Pisces and what it means. Woolfolk stresses early in that sun sign descriptions are often too perfect and too cookie-cutter, and she wants to show the range of Pisces expressions. She does this by looking at Pisces in several ways, starting with how people perceive the Pisces, and how the Pisces person feels about themselves. Simple, but this is an important distinction, because it is easy to dismiss a sun sign description because it isn’t how you (want to) view yourself, so Woolfolk gives both sides.
Getting more involved, she looks at the decanates, cusps, and individual days, giving a more precise view of Pisces. Continue reading
The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, by Joanna Martine Woolfolk
Taylor Trade, 9781589796539, 2008
The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need is an updated and revised edition of the 1982 text, now including more depth in the meaning of the signs, relationships, and includes “the latest information about new discoveries in astronomy.”
Let’s tackle this book based on the title, is it really the only astrology book you’ll ever need? It is a fairly comprehensive text. It covers all of the basics of modern astrology that you’d be looking for: sun signs, decanates, moon signs, ascendants, the planets, the houses, and how to read a chart. All of these sections are well written and informative, though I feel a bit of expansion would be helpful for those with less of a background in astrology, especially near the end of the book when everything was being drawn together in chart interpretation. That being said I found the descriptions of the different concepts fairly reliable and more precise in wording than a lot of current astrology books. Usually the language is a bit more cloudy and vague in an astrology book, here the language is more exact and specific, which is refreshing to see an astrological author willing to put their money where their words are because it’s a lot easier to be wrong when you’re specific rather than hedging with vague language. Continue reading
Stones of the Seven Rays: The Science of the Seven Facets of the Soul, by Michel Coquet
Destiny Books, 978-1594774331, 352 pp., 2012
Stones of the Seven Rays contains two major parts: “The Esoteric Tradition of Stones,” and “Stones of the Seven Rays.” The latter catalogues the properties of the primary stones for each Ray. Within each section, substitute stones are listed (e.g., rock crystal for diamond), which expands the usefulness of the material.
This edition is very nicely produced. It is printed on extra-gloss paper, and is full of excellent colour photos, mostly by the author. It gives a structured overview of gemstone lore associated with the doctrine of the seven rays.
The model of the seven rays comes from Theosophy. The best source for anyone who wants more detail on the Rays and their natures would be Alice Bailey’s Esoteric Psychology, Vol. 1: A Treatise on the Seven Rays. The Rays are considered to be primary energies and intelligences emanating from the Source, as the archetype of all of our septenary enumerations (planets, heavens, days of the week, and so on), and as forces that condition the course of evolution by cycling in and out of prominence in a great cycle reminiscent of the Yugas of Indian cosmology. Continue reading