Grimoire 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: 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: 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: 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
Osogbo: Speaking to the Spirits of Misfortune, by Ócha’ni Lele
Destiny Books, 9781620550984, 240 pp., 2014
I loved Osogbo. I don’t say that often, or lightly; to earn such praise a book has to open up a whole new world for me, to change my point of view, to teach me something I can use daily. This is such a book.
Ócha’ni Lele is a master storyteller, and he has rich material to work with: the oral traditions of the Lucumí religion of western Africa. He opens the book with the story of the twin brothers Iré, blessings, and Osogbo, misfortune, and how Osogbo came to be dominant in our world. Never before have I read an explanation of their relationship so elegant — in the sense that mathematicians use the word, sensible and beautiful in its simplicity. I won’t recount it here; everyone reading this review should experience it through Lele’s words. Continue reading