The Shamanic Witch, by Gail Wood
Red Wheel/Weiser, 978-1-57863-430-9, 244 pp. (incl. Glossary, Notes, and Bibliography), 2008
The Shamanic Witch is targeted at introducing practicing witches to neo-Shamanism. As such, the first two thirds of the book introduce and instruct one in beginning a neo-Shamanic practice, and the last third is directed at incorporating Shamanic elements into a pre-existing Witchcraft practice. Even if one is not a witch, the introduction to neo-Shamanism is well written, accessible, and assumes no prior knowledge. It would be unwise to pick up this book with the intention of beginning witchcraft, although a reading list is provided at the end of the book.
The first two chapters introduce the concept and context of Shamanism and provide the reader with some expectations as to what the experience of journeying will be like. Wood includes a number of exercises to prepare the reader: becoming comfortable with their own style of visualization, connecting with drumming and non-ordinary states of consciousness. The third chapter is dedicated to introductory journeys, following what seems to have become standard practice for neo-Shamanism: journeying to the lower world to meet a power animal and then journeying to the upper world to meet a guide or teacher. Wood writing is casual and approachable. She draws directly from her own experiences both as teacher and student, presenting components of her own personal journeys but also alerting the reader that their own may take very different forms. Continue reading
Night of the Witches: Folklore, Traditions and Recipes for Celebrating Walpurgis Night, by Linda Raedisch
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-2058-6, 238 pp., 2011
This is a book which is dedicated to one specific observance (May Eve). It is not intended for the active practitioner or even for the individual striving to learn about Witchcraft, rather it is aimed at the individual who has no background in folklore. It is set against a backdrop of European custom and beliefs, which makes sense, because of the dominant European derivation of modern witchcraft beliefs. Continue reading
Near-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story: What They Teach us About Living, Dying, and Our True Purpose, by P.M.H. Atwater
Hampton Roads, 9781571746511, 288pp., 2011
Phyllis Atwater is a well known researcher and author in the field of near death experiences, in fact she is one of the first researchers in the field and Near-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story is her final book on the subject as she’s retiring. As someone with a few NDE in my past and an interest in the subject I was very excited for this book. I was worried that it would be a rehash, like many books on the subject tend to be, but I was not disappointed and in fact this book exceeded my expectations. This book contains “forty-three years of research involving nearly seven thousand adults and children” and while some of it is familiar, there is a lot of new material as Atwater is retiring she “finally say[s] things [she] never dared to say before.” Continue reading
Bridging the Gap:Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society, by Crystal Blanton
Megalithica Books, 9781905713431, 146 pp., 2010
Those of us who have been in the Pagan “community” for any appreciable amount of time are well aware that the topic of this book is one which in of vital concern as Paganism becomes more acceptable in the world outside our Circles, Groves, and Covens. From the very beginnings of the public existence of Paganism in the modern world there have arisen situations which needed to be addressed, but which frequently were shuffled to the side with a “We’ll deal with that later” attitude.
The past decade or so has seen the rapid rise of both “solitary” and “eclectic” segments of the Pagan community. This has led to even more destabilization of the overall community, since there appears to be a high level of distrust, if not outright antagonism between these segments and the more “traditional” groups which exist. Continue reading
Zen: Simply Sitting: A Zen monk’s commentary on the Fukanzazengi (Universal Guide on the Correct Practice of Zazen) by Master Dogen, by Philippe Coupey
Forward by Lee Lozowick, Translator’s preface by Marc Shaver
Hohm, Press, 1890772615, 114 pp. (incl. notes, glossary and index), 2006
Zen: Simply Sitting is a book in two parts. The first is the text of the Fukanzazengi , written by Master Dogen (1200-1253) in 1227, and later revised into its final form in 1242-1243. It is the final version, the Rufubon, which is reproduced here. As we learn, fukan means “recommended for the people”, meaning that the text is intended for laypeople, not only monks and priest.
The Fukanzazengi is extremely brief, only a few pages long, and it deals with the practice of zazen, seated meditation. Master Dogen describes the correct posture and attitude one should maintain while sitting. His prose is sparse and direct, with clear guidelines on how it should be done. Continue reading