Religion and Spirituality

Opiate of the masses, marijuana of the lunatic fringe.

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 One can present a scholarly look at the few remaining historical references to the Druids and the speculation which has raged around them, one can present romanticized imaginings and call them “ancient secrets passed down in an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


Kissing the Limitless, by T. Thorn Coyle

By Gesigewigu's | December 4, 2013 | Leave a comment

T Thorn CoyleKissing the Limitless, by T Thorn CoyleKissing the Limitless: Deep Magic and the Great Work of Transforming Yourself and the World, by T. Thorn Coyle
Weiser Books, 9781578634354, 268 pp., 2009

“This is a book of deep magic, of high magic, of magic for our hearts and souls. The potency of this magic rests deeply within us, and the universe supports its unfolding.”

This isn’t your standard book on magick. This book is about the Great Work, union with the all, the divine, the cosmos, the limitless, and that is a refreshing change. Do not misunderstand me, I enjoy and see value in magical books that provide us techniques to go the way of our wishes and to help us succeed in life, but it is nice to see a book on magick that puts that aside in favour of Union.

That being said this is more or less a beginner’s book, while we might often think of the Great Work as the ultimate quest for the experienced mage there is no reason why it cannot and should not be started earlier, and Coyle makes a good case for that. Though as with more goal and desire oriented magick the Great Work can be dangerous for those unready. “There are too many people who enter this work only partially prepared and walk around spiritual and magical communities with shattered auras or egos puffed up out of proportion to their beings or great ‘powers’ they use to manipulate others.” We’ve all seen these people, and while this is just one book Coyle does set out to help them, and help minimize this occurrence. Continue reading


The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 33

By Freeman Presson | November 20, 2013 | 2 comments

The Witches' Almanac, Issue 33The Witches' Almanac, issue 33The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 33 Spring 2014-2015: The Mystic Earth, edited by Andrew Theitic
The Witches’ Almanac Ltd., 9780982432396, 208 pp. (Incl. letters, ads), 2013

Reading The Witches’ Almanac is like going to a favourite restaurant and ordering all of the appetizers and two desserts for dinner: you get a dazzling array of different tastes, but with no single dish too filling.

The Almanac has been steadily growing over the years. Early issues were 90 or so pages, stapled in soft card covers like the typical Farmer’s Almanac; recently it has graduated to a typical trade paperback: 9×6-inch, 208 pages, perfect-bound, glossy cover. This helps make their front-cover motto, “Ever a Keepsake,” realizable.

This year’s theme is “Mystic Earth,” returning to the theme of no. 30, though this time from a different angle. Unfortunately the cover art, with the Earth seen from space in a palette of greens, blues, deep-space black, and incongruous cream text-box backgrounds, ranks as the least-appealing in a long time, although I like the idea of doing something modern occasionally.

Inside you’ll find 65 articles with a good mix of folklore, practical advice, and esoterica. “A Witch’s Garden” looks at planning and planting an herb garden in a reverent and inspiring way. Several short features on herb lore and other earthy topics from respected Druid Ellen Everett Hopman carry the theme into the rest of the book. The closest thing to a single article that matches the theme, though, is Jimahl di Fiosa’s “The Magic of Camping,” which, like the one above, is full of hints for doing this common activity mindfully and reverently, as well as in a safe and organized manner. He’s not Pollyanna about his topic though, in the last paragraph he advises, “If it all goes terribly wrong, then at least you can say you’ve tried it.” Continue reading


Talking to the Spirits, by Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera

By Brian Walsh | November 5, 2013 | 1 comment

Talking to the Spirits, by Kenaz Filan and Raven KalderaTalking to the Spirits, by Kenaz Filan and Raven KalderaTalking to the Spirits: Personal Gnosis in Pagan Religion, by Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera
Destiny Books, 9781620550830, 320 pp., 2013

This book is an excellent exploration of communication with the spirit world with material of interest to the curious, the absolute beginner, and the experience spirit- worker. While it is primarily informed by Northern Tradition Paganism, it draws first hand examples from a wide array of spirit-workers from a variety of paganisms, including Asatru, Heathens, Druids, Celtic Reconstructionists, Hellenics, Kemetics, modern Shamans, and more. It also does an excellent job reminding us that these communications take place in cultural contexts and in the broader context of the natural world itself.

The book begins with an exploration of what personal gnosis is and what it feels like; and since much of the information we receive from the spirits can not be verified and may not be for everyone, how we can respond to what the gods, ancestors, and spirits are telling us. It explores why we want to cultivate more direct communication, what that communication might look like, and some of the risks and dangers along the way.

The book frankly addresses delusion, scepticism, lies, and inflated egos in a way which is constructive – discerning without being overly judgemental. It also has an entire chapter addressing the relationship between spirit contact and mental health concerns, do so in a way which is supportive, sensitive and informed. Too many books on magical practices simply say that anyone with any mental health issues should simply avoid esoteric work; but that ignores the fact that much healing can be found in these practices and that some of the sensitivities that leave certain people vulnerable to mental illness can be the same sensitivities that leave some of the same people open to spiritual awareness. Managing these gifts and burdens together seems to me to be a far cry better than shutting everything down because some ‘spiritual leaders’ don’t have the skills to mentor such individuals. Given that I work in the intersection of spirituality and mental health, I was delighted to see it introduced so well here. Continue reading


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