Dancing with Spirits: The Festivals and Folklore of Japan, by Denny Sargent
Megalithica Press, 9781905713523, 120 pp., 2010
The religions of Japan are among the least understood by members of Western society. This happens for a number of reasons, most prominently because they are so much an organic part of the culture that even many Japanese don’t give them much thought. In fact, one often hears Japanese say that they are not religious, even as they are participating in some festival, or entering/leaving a shrine. The religions are simply a part of daily life, and thus not considered a separate religious aspect.
Generally, religion in Japan breaks down into one of two major types – Shinto or Buddhism – but that is as simplistic as saying religion in the West is either Christian or non-Christian; true to an an extent, but failing to capture the shear breadth of the religious experience. Each of the two groups has unique observances, yet commonalities exist. Continue reading
Loneliness and Revelation: A Study of the Sacred, by Brendan Myers
O-Books, 9781846943553, 165 pp. (incl. bibliography), 2010
Loneliness and Revelation is comprised of forty-five thought provoking meditations on loneliness; Myers takes a close look at what it is and what it means for the individual as an existential condition.
More than just solitude or isolation, loneliness gives rise to the thought that one’s life may be “utterly insignificant and meaningless“. We combat this through what Myers calls Revelation, ways of being in the world and asserting our presence here, both for ourselves and those around us.
He explores this theme through various friends, philosophers, world religions both major and minor, referencing myth and literature. In doing so, he surveys the various ways we stave off loneliness, while noting that loneliness is something we return to again and again. Continue reading
Witch Hunts: Out of the Broom Closet, by Kerr Cuhulain
Spiral Publishing, 9780975540367, 302 pp. (incl. appendices and bibliography), 2005
Kerr Cuhulain is a twenty-seven year veteran of the Vancouver, BC, Police Department. He has seen, first hand, the results of the misunderstandings, both unintended and intentional, regarding Pagan beliefs – lives ruined, families destroyed, and religious agendas advanced.
The first few pages of this book are enough to frighten even the most jaded among us. From several “official sources” he cites evidence of occult activity to be looked for such as jewellery, gongs, audio/visual recording equipment, music with an occult theme, candles, silver implements, incense, needles, oil, seashells, and the list goes on. Amazing! If you use massage oils and candles to enhance your lovemaking you too can be considered a Satanist. Continue reading
Gift of the Dreamtime: Awakening ot the Divinity of Trauma, by S. Kelley Harrell
Spilled Candy Books, 9781892718501, 146 pp., 2004
Gift of the Dreamtime is author S. Kelly Harrell’s account of her personal visionary experiences. Or at least we assume it is: we’re not given any context; there are no disclaimers or introductions. Harrell drops us right into the thick of it, beginning with her first visionary experiences, initiated by the drumming of a shaman (one whom we are never actually introduced to). After the initial exploration of her lower and upper dreamworld and an introduction to both animal and spirit guides, the shaman recedes from view; presumably Harrell undertakes the remaining journeys by herself.
This is an unusual book. It’s not a theoretical book. It’s not a how-to manual. It’s not a biography either. It’s a diary more than anything else. Harrell opens up to the reader; if she holds anything back it’s not obvious. This is the story of her pathway, the road she took to disentangle the complex ball of emotions generated by her incestuous childhood sexual abuse. Continue reading
Divine Duality: The Power of Reconciliation Between Women and Men, by William Keepin, Ph.D. with Cynthia Brix, M. Div. and Molly Dwyer, Ph.D.
Hohm Press, 9781890772741, 298 pp., 2007
Divine Duality is perhaps one of the most interesting attempts at a meaningful reconciliation of contemporary gender issues I have read in a long time. It asserts no certain formula or particular answer and so I cannot find any particular or certain fault with it. Abandoning the trite simplifications of popular self help models (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) which ultimately not only fail to address the deeply conditioned and limiting idea’s about gender (held internationally, regardless of social model, religious bias or cultural prerogative,) but most often shamelessly reinforce them.
Instead, Dr. Keepin attempts to provide guidelines for a compassionate deconstruction. Men and women are brought together and made to confront the realities and limitations of each other’s lives and perspectives. Continue reading