Religion & Spirituality

Opiate of the masses, marijuana of the lunatic fringe.

Avalon, by Heather Dale

By Brendan Myers | March 31, 2014 | Leave a comment

Avalon, by Heather DaleAvalon, by Heather Dale
CD Baby, 19 tracks, 2010

It’s clear that the musical and mythological world invoked by Heather Dale’s new album Avalon is the world where the artist feels most at home. Arthurian mythology provides a rich field of inspirational stories, and so they have been rendered into music many times before; in that respect Dale’s musical project is ambitious and challenging. Can she do something with the mythology that has never been done before? My answer is Yes. Dale’s album accords to the stories the space to reveal themselves in their own way, as if she is working in true partnership with all the various writers who contributed to the literary sources. At the same time one also hears the unique and unveiled sound of her heart. Continue reading


The Path of Druidry, by Penny Billington

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

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 One can present a scholarly look at the few remaining historical references to the Druids and the speculation which has raged around them, one can present romanticized imaginings and call them “ancient secrets passed down in an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

Kissing 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, 9781578634354, 268 pp., 2009

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“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 magickal 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 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


Sacred Sounds of the Female Orishas, collected by Raul Canizares

By Mike Gleason | November 12, 2013 | Leave a comment

Sacred Sounds of the Female Orishas, collected by Raul CanizaresSacred Sounds of the Female Orishas: Rhythms of the Goddess, collected by Raul Canizares
Destiny Recordings, 1-59477-071-9, 60 mins., 2005

Raul Canizares, who collected and produced the recordings which are the basis for this CD was the head of the Santeria Temple Orisha Consciousness Movement in Manhattan, and the author of Cuban Santeria, as well as the producer of another CD , The Sacred Sounds of Santeria.

The emphasis of this collection is the female aspects of divinity. It helps to know some of the stories associated with these strong female images, although it isn’t absolutely necessary. The liner notes give a little sense of the strength of these goddesses. There are no shrinking-violets in this collection. Even the orishas associated with love are strong, independent figures. Their songs convey this as well. The rhythms are forceful and compelling. You can feel their presence and power as their songs are sung. Continue reading


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