Reviews

Book, film, tarot and oracle reviews.

The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism, by Patrick Lepetit

By J Simpson | October 20, 2014 | Leave a comment

The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism, by Patrick LepetittThe Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism, by Patrick Lepetitt
The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism: Origins, Magic, and Secret Societies, by Patrick Lepetitt
Inner Traditions, 9781620551752, 544 pp. (incl. bibliography and notes), 2014

The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism symbolizes a reuniting of art, science, and mysticism: the head, body, and heart, all working together.

As an artistic movement surrealism seeks to “resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality” as a revolutionary act. From the outset, the surrealists declared war on rationality, which had allowed for the atrocities of two world wars to take place, causing French novelist Albert Camus to proclaim that “surrealism’s essential enemy is rationalism.” Devoted anarchists, the surrealists felt that “so long as revolutionaries confine themselves to certain specific aspects of social life without attacking the spiritual structure of society directly,” then they were doomed to failure. This caused poet Tristan Tzara to claim that “the love of ghosts, witchcraft, occultism, magic, vice, dream, madness, passions, true or invented folklore, mythology (or even mystification), social or other kinds of utopias, real or imagined journeys, bric-a-brac, marvels, the adventures and mores of primitive peoples and generally everything that did not fit into the rigid frameworks in which beauty had been placed to identify itself with the mind.”

The surrealists were interested in occult and metaphysical currents from the very beginning — as seen with the Vodou-ispired works of Cuban painter Wifredo Lam, or the explicitly Pagan paintings of Leonora Carrington — although often not in so many words, as they “ventured onto the terrain of mediumship stripped of its spiritualist clutter.” In the process the surrealists would become a kind of secret society and take a similar role to that of the Freemasons or Rosicrucians in the Enlightenment, illuminating and updating the age old mysteries with emerging schools of thought like psychoanalysis, quantum physics, and relativity. Continue reading


Grimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch, by Raven Grimassi

By Nicole Rain Sellers | October 13, 2014 | Leave a comment

Grimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch, by Raven GrimassiGrimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch, by Raven GrimassiGrimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch: Mastering the Five Arts of Old World Witchery, by Raven Grimassi
Weiser Books, 9781578635504, 240 pp. (incl. appendices and bibliography), 2014

Plant spirits appear in the most ancient practices of Witchcraft. These primal entities possess power and knowledge that aids the Witches’ Craft.

Grimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch offers the magickal keys to accessing the spirits of the plant kingdom. Decidedly gothic, with many allusions to roses, thorns and shadows, the book’s formal, atmospheric tone is sure to stir magickal memories in the blood of those called to read it.

From the ancient practices of old world witchery springs the Rose and Thorn Path, a system Grimassi manifested after he “fell back into the brewing cauldron from which all things emerge.” He continues, “When I surfaced my self-identity as a witch of any specific cultural expression of witchcraft had dissolved away’. As a grimoire (a traditional book of spells) this book does not disappoint. It presents a usable system of witchcraft based on instantly recognisable archetypes. I have read a few of Grimassi’s books and feel this is his best to date.

The “mastering the five arts” subtitle suggests the book is aimed primarily at serious witches with some level of magical experience. As such I would have appreciated a deeper exploration of the origins of Grimassi’s chosen symbols and plants, but he writes with such authentic wisdom this hardly seems to matter. Central themes are natural divinity and spiritualism — the book deals not so much with plants themselves but the spirits inherent in and attached to them. By showing respect for “Shadow” (the collective wisdom of the earth and ancestors) the green mysteries can be entered. Continue reading


Naked in Public, by Katherine and Patrick Andries

By Marcus Whelchel | October 8, 2014 | Leave a comment

Dreaming, image by TC MorganNaked in Public, by Katherine AndriesNaked in Public: Dream Symbols Revealed, by Katherine and Patrick Andries
Ozark Mountain Publishing, 9781886940499, 112 pp., 2014

There’s a well-known episode of NPR’s This American Life called “The Seven Things You’re Not Supposed to Talk About.” One of those things: dreams. Why? Because, as the main guest explains, “Nobody cares about your dreams.”

A bit harsh, maybe, but at the very least, dreams are a double-edged sword. To the dreamer, they may manifest as fascinating, glorious, terrifying, or even life-changing adventures. To the person listening to them, on the other hand (or reading about them), they are too often simply exercises in ennui and narcissism. After all, how often has somebody’s self-proclaimed “craziest dream ever” sounded merely banal to your own ears? If you’re anything like me and the folks at NPR, it’s happened a lot — which is why I was pleasantly surprised by the Andries’ dream glossary, Naked in Public: Dream Symbols Revealed, an utterly enjoyable and educational book that rarely thrusts the reader unwilling into the someone else’s tedious sub-psyche or allows itself to get bogged down by extraneous details.

The first thing you might notice about Naked in Public is that it is, unlike so many other dream compendiums, it’s quite light at just 112 pages, and not weighed down by the kind of overly academic psychobabble that pervades so much dream literature. This isn’t a book for someone with a PhD-like grasp of dreamology; it’s a book for the rest of us. Continue reading


Sun Sign Secrets, by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

By DragonHawk7 | October 6, 2014 | Leave a comment

Sun Sign Secrets, by Amy Zerner and Monte FarberSun Sign Secrets, by Amy Zerner and Monte FarberSun Sign Secrets: The Complete Astrology Guide to Love, Work, and Your Future, by Amy Zerner & Monte Farber
Weiser Books, 9781578635610, 260 pp., 2014

Sun Sign Secrets is packed with detailed information describing each of the signs. The 12 sun signs are determined by the sun’s placement in the zodiac calendar at the time of a person’s birth.  The dates for each zodiac sign are included in the descriptions helping the reader to decide which sign corresponds.  Using this information the reader can then learn how to improve their relations with others by better understanding the behaviours and attitudes that drive themselves and those around them.

Zerner and Farber designed the book in an easy to understand format.  The artwork by Zerner is in a simple, monochromatic style that helps the reader to understand the symbols and representations of the constellations that correspond with the different signs.

Each chapter is written in the same style for each sign, starting with the details, including the dates for the sign, correspondences, personal qualities, and keywords.  The authors then break down the meanings more thoroughly by going into detail on the symbolic meanings, including the positive and negative traits. Continue reading


Old World Witchcraft, by Raven Grimassi

By Mike Gleason | September 29, 2014 | Leave a comment

Old World Witchcraft, by Raven GrimassiOld World Witchcraft, by Raven GrimassiOld World Witchcraft: Ancient Ways for Modern Days, by Raven Grimassi
Weiser Books, 9781578635054, 272 pp. 2011

Raven Grimassi is a name familiar to those of us who have been reading books on Wicca and witchcraft for a number of years as to date he has authored 14 of them. His background is varied and extensive, running the gamut from Rosicrucian studies and kabbalah and various forms of “traditional” witchcraft. This background allows him to approach the subject from a variety of perspectives.

In Old World Witchcraft Grimassi is presenting his take on the argument that witchcraft is a survival of an ancient pre-Christian religion. One thing I am sure of is that this book has the potential to polarize the community because of Grimassi’s emphasis on the Goddess as the primary deity of early witches, with the God perceived as an invisible presence. This is not the only sacred cow he goes after, although I must emphasize that this is not a malicious attack, but merely an attempt to show how the Christian concept of witches and witchcraft coloured the perceptions of everyone — including both medieval and modern-day witches. Continue reading


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