Reviews

Book, film, tarot and oracle reviews.

Tantric Thelema, by Sam Webster

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Lotus detail, photo by smilla4Tantric Thelema, by Sam WebsterTantric Thelema: The Invocation of Ra-Hoor-Khuit in the Manner of the Buddhist Mahayoga Tantras, by Sam Webster
Concrescent Press, 9780984372904, 115 pp. (incl. appendices, and select bibliography), 2010

Sam Webster co-founded Chthonic-Ouranian Templars of Thelema in 1985, and is an initiate in the Golden Dawn, Wicca, and Buddhism, among other things, though he is probably best known for founding the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn in 2002. The OSOGD is based on the principles of open-source software, which allows users to modify and adapt programs as needed, and so it is in the Order.

It’s no surprise, then, that Tantric Thelema is an eclectic text. Webster acknowledges that he’s not a lama, that the practices described are based his own work and teachings, and these are provided to the student as tested material, but can be repurposed as needed. He describes his practices, notes their origins, and where the material deviates from ancient Egyptian, Golden Dawn or Thelemic custom, and it is very obviously a lived practice. Continue reading


The Sacred Rite of Magical Love, by Maria de Naglowska

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The Sacred Rite of Magical Love, by Maria de NaglowskaThe Sacred Rite of Magical Love, by Maria de NaglowskaThe Sacred Rite of Magical Love: A Ceremony of Word and Flesh, by Maria de Naglowska
Inner Traditions, 9781594774171, 122 pp. (incl. appendices, notes, bibliography, and index), 2012

Maria de Naglowska was a Russian-born writer, translator, and journalist living in Paris in the 1930s, and this is the third volume in the series of Naglowska’s books Donald Traxler has translated.

Unlike the first two books, The Light of Sex and Advanced Sex Magic, The Sacred Rite of Magical Love is an allegorical novella, possibly incorporating autobiographical elements. It was first published under a pseudonym, Xenia Norval, and serialized in her street newspaper La Fleche, organe d’action magique, from 1930-1931, and later rereleased as a supplement in the journal in 1932 under her real name. Continue reading


Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul, edited by Tara Miller

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Tree roots, photo by pink fuzy ratRooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul, edited by Tara MillerRooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul: Magic Practitioners Living with Disabilities, Addictions, and Illness, edited by Tara Miller
Immanion Press, 978-1-905713-91-2, 222 pp. (incl. introduction and bibliography), 2013

Tara Miller has compiled stories and interviews about Pagan spiritual practices and how these practices help practitioners cope with disability, chronic pain, illness, addiction and compulsive behaviour. The compilation begins with an interview with Dr. Kimberly Hendrick about her ground-breaking Pagan Health Survey that highlights the main issues within the health system and its intersection with a Pagan lifestyle. The survey sheds light on to the immense overlapping of the LBGTQ community (40%), the idea of Pagans viewing their health care more holistically (mind, body, spirit) and systematically rather than symptom by symptom, and the stigma of seeking out mental health services and having spiritual practices considered a mental health diagnosis. From the findings of the Health Survey, it seems Pagans have a model of self-empowerment in religious practices as well as health care. Continue reading


The Magickal Union of East and West, by Gregory Peters

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White lotus, photo by peaceful jp sceneryThe Magickal Union of East and West, by Gregory PetersThe Magickal Union of East and West: The Spiritual Path to New Aeon Tantra, by Gregory Peters
Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738740447, 177 pp. (incl. appendices, glossary, and index), 2014

Gregory Peters was a student of Phyllis Seckler (Soror Meral), and New Aeon Tantra, a system which merges Aleister Crowley‘s Thelema with Buddhism and tantra, was developed for the Ordo Sunyata Vajra, an order Peters founded in 1999.

Though the practices Peters outlines in The Magickal Union of East and West rely on a Thelemic framework, he clearly states that they are not tied to Thelema, and may be used by other practitioners. That said, this is not an introductory text — a background in ceremonial magick is assumed, and even a passing familiarity with eastern systems would go a long way.

Many of the introductory practices follow a typical yogic regimen: hatha yoga, surya namascar, lunar adorations, as well as selecting a goddess to work with. (Though Peters doesn’t go into detail about how one should either choose a goddess, or find a goddess who would choose the practitioner; in place he offers a brief list of popular goddesses and their mantras.) Peters’ notes on dietary considerations are refreshingly forgiving, as they allow the practitioner to discover and use a dietary model that best suits their body’s needs, rather than proscribe constraints. Perhaps this is in light of the axiom from The Book of the Law, which states that the word of sin is restriction. Continue reading


All Acts of Love and Pleasure, by Yvonne Aburrow

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All Acts of Love and Pleasure, by Yvonne AburrowAll Acts of Love and Pleasure, by Yvonne AburrowAll Acts of Love and Pleasure: Inclusive Wicca, by Yvonne Aburrow
Avalonia Books, 9781905297733, 276 pp., 2014

After writing “God, Goddess, and Other,” I felt skeptical that Wicca could be inclusive to the extent that I wanted it to be, and besides, I hadn’t identified as Wiccan for several years, so who was I to keep writing about it? In the end, I decided that my curiosity outweighed my skepticism, and went for it anyway. I had personal reasons as well. (Who doesn’t?) I miss certain aspects of Wiccan ritual, and am coming to the end of my resources as a solitary practitioner; I’m hoping to find enough common ground with the mainstream Pagan community to be able to join a coven or a grove. So, with these ideas and desires in mind, I began to read. Continue reading


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