Book, film, tarot and oracle reviews.

Awakening Higher Consciousness, by Dickie

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Awakening Higher Consciousness, by Lloyd M. Dickie and Paul R. BoudreauAwakening Higher Consciousness, by Lloyd M. Dickie and Paul R. Boudreau Awakening Higher Consciousness: Guidance from Ancient Egypt and Sumer, by Lloyd M. Dickie and Paul R. Boudreau Inner Traditions, 978-1-62055-394-7, 246 pp. (incl. appendices, notes, bibliography, and index), 2015The ideas expressed in Awakening Higher Consciousness: Guidance from Ancient Egypt and Sumer are paradoxically both simple and multi-layered. It may sound strange, but when I started reading the book, my experience was of peeling back the layers of the proverbial onion, but without the tears!Lloyd M. Dickie and Paul R. Boudreau -- both of whom have backgrounds in ecology, biology and a deep interest in Egyptology -- have produced a highly readable book for those seeking to unlock their highest potential through myth and its symbolism. To that end, they explore the myths of several ancient cultures, with Akkad, Egypt, and Sumer being the main focus of their studies. The authors express quite complex and esoteric ideas in language that is accessible to the non-specialist. Dickie and Boudreau’s passion for their subject matter comes through quite plainly. They are academics, but I also suspect they are sincere seekers after illumination and truth. As the subject matter has been a lifelong interest of mine, I approached Awakening Higher Consciousness with a sense of excitement and curiosity. This is a book that needs to be read through once and then again to assimilate the symbols within your psyche. What the conscious mind appears not to take in, the subconscious mind will readily embrace. Read More

Brigid, by Courtney Weber

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Brigid, by Courtney WeberBrigid, by Courtney Weber Brigid: History, Mystery and Magick of the Celtic Goddess, by Courtney Weber Weiser Books, 9781578635672, 247 pp., 2015Courtney Weber is a New York based writer and teacher, Wiccan priestess, and tarot adviser. As her time in college studying theatre came to a close, Weber found herself seeking the guidance of the goddess Brigid to aid her with her creative work. In a bout of writer’s block, she prayed to Brigid for creative inspiration, and her appeals did not go unanswered. In return, Weber offered her dedication in the form of a book.Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess is as much a reflection of Weber’s experience in coming to know Brigid as it is a guide book for the beginner devotee of the great Celtic goddess. The book has a bit of everything; historical information, the re-telling of myths, personal narratives, and practical meditations and rituals complete with detailed instructions that often include photographs. I came to the title with little interest in Celtic deities, but a great interest in the feminine divine, and curious as to why so many witches devote themselves to Brid. As Weber notes in the closing of her book, she questioned whether her devotional choice was sincere or merely trendy. As her book reveals, Brigid’s complexity, depth, and reach as a goddess is responsible for her widespread worship. Read More

Jane Eyre’s Sisters, by Jody Gentian Bower

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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

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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

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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

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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

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