Religion and Spirituality

Opiate of the masses, marijuana of the lunatic fringe.

The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, by Nyanaponika Thera

By Gesigewigu's | September 15, 2014 | Leave a comment

The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, by Nyanaponika TheraThe Heart of Buddhist Meditation, by Nyanaponika TheraThe Heart of Buddhist Meditation: The Buddha’s Way of Mindfulness, by Nyanaponika Thera
Weiser Books, 9781578635580, 257 pp., 1954, 2014

This book is issued in the deep conviction that the systematic cultivation of Right Mindfulness, as taught by the Buddha in his Discourse on Satipatthana, still provides the most simple and direct, the most thorough and effective, method for training and developing the mind for its daily tasks and problems as well as for its highest aim: mind’s own unshakable deliverance from Greed, Hatred and Delusion.

The Heart of Buddhist Meditation is a classic of Western Buddhism from the ’50s, which Weiser has just republished on its 50th anniversary. It’s one of the first serious books on Vipassana meditation written for a Western audience. “This is the book that started it all — the book that, with great clarity and ardour, introduced Vipassana and mindfulness to the West.,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness for Beginners. Continue reading


Temple of the Drum, by Dragon Ritual Drummers

By Mike Gleason | August 4, 2014 | Leave a comment

Temple of the Drum, by Dragon Ritual DrummersTemple of the Drum, by Dragon Ritual DrummersTemple of the Drum, by Dragon Ritual Drummers
CD: Dragon Ritual Drummers, 12 tracks, 55:34 min., 2011

I am extremely grateful that a friend pointed me in the direction of Dragon Ritual Drummers a few years ago. In the intervening years, I have had the pleasure and opportunity to receive and review several of their releases and I have yet to be disappointed by the quality of the performances and production values. These folks know how to use their instruments to attain the best possible results.

Almost all of their music is written by members of the group, though they do include a few traditional songs to add a little extra flavour and variety — “Fanga” and “Shaharazad” are examples on this album. Perhaps the most striking thing about their performances is that they don’t use “studio tricks” to make their recordings: there is no sampling from other sources, no instrumental enhancements of any sorts. What you hear is all natural, although it is possible Continue reading


Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore, by Melusine Draco

By Mike Gleason | July 10, 2014 | Leave a comment

Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore, by Melusine DracoTraditional Witchcraft for the Seashore, by Melusine DracoTraditional Witchcraft for the Seashore, by Melusine Draco
O Books, 9781846944260, 159 pp., 2012

The majority of books I encounter on the subject of witchcraft and Wicca fall into one of two categories: they are written for rural witches, or for urban witches, as though those are the only two options. If you believe the stories of how things were in the “bad old days,” witches were seldom found in either of those two settings. They were most often found in the transitional (or “liminal”) areas – the last house in the village just before you entered the countryside, or the first house after such a point. They weren’t living in the wilds, but they weren’t comfortable in the daily to-do of the village centre either.

This book addresses another transitional space: the seashore. Continue reading


Advancing the Witches’ Craft, by Marcus F Griffin

By Mike Gleason | April 18, 2014 | Leave a comment

Advancing the Witches' Craft, by Marcus F Griffin
Advancing the Witches' Craft, by Marcus F GriffinAdvancing the Witches’ Craft, by Marcus F Griffin
Megalithica Books, 978-1-950713-54-7, 229 pp., 2011

This book is most definitely not a 101 guide. The author makes it abundantly clear that he is not going to spend time laying basic foundations for the exercises he details. If you don’t already know how to meditate, or move energy, or visualize things, you will want to give this particular volume a pass. It is about time, however, that a book like this comes onto the market.

Griffin is also not afraid to call it as he sees it. Just because something is the “accepted” way or view, doesn’t mean that he has to accept it. You should (almost) never cast a circle widdershins, right? Why? Energy is either positive (good) of negative (bad), right? Who says so? Continue reading


The Path of Druidry, by Penny Billington

By Mike Gleason | March 17, 2014 | Leave a comment

The Path of Druidry, by BillingtonThe Path of Druidry, by Penny BillingtonThe Path of Druidry, by Penny BillingtonThe Path of Druidry: Walking the Ancient Green Way, by Penny Billington
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-2346-4, 384 pp, 2011

When dealing with the topic of Druidry there are inherent dangers. One can present a scholarly look at the few remaining historical references to the Druids and the speculation which has raged around them, one can present romanticized imaginings and call them “ancient secrets passed down in an unbroken succession through the ages”; or one can simply say “Here is what we know and this is how we relate to it in a vastly different world.” The latter is the method I personally prefer, it allows one to start from a solid base and then modify as required by the needs of the 21st century.

The approach to Druidry which Billington espouses is that of a living, evolving religion, and that seems eminently reasonable and practical to me. It is one which will allow the individual to discover the truths which work for them, while still providing a base of knowledge which will be acceptable to many others who follow a similar path. Each individual, ultimately, follows a unique path and has a unique perspective on religion and the religious experiences encountered along that path. Continue reading


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