Reviews

Book, film, tarot and oracle reviews.

Marseille Tarot, by Camelia Elias

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Marseille Tarot, by Camelia EliasMarseille Tarot, by Camelia EliasMarseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading, by Camelia Elias
EyeCorner Press, 9788792633422, 197 pp. (incl. references), 2015

It was Camelia Elias’ tarot blog, Tarotflexions, which first drew me to her work. Her observations there are smart and incisive, and her approach to tarot is quite different from mine, which means I’m always learning something new. Her essay in The Magiculum was one of the strongest in that collection, and I was excited to see a more focused effort on tarot, and this book certainly delivers.

Marseille Tarot focuses on Elias’ preferred deck, Carolus Zoya’s Tarot de Marseille, a deck created in Turin at the end of the 18th century. The book includes numerous full colour images, and the deck is based on a common Marseille pattern, so while this particular deck is unavailable for purchase, the insights provided here can easily be applied to any Marseille deck, or even other tarot patterns. Continue reading


Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic, by Stephen Skinner

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Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic, by Stephen SkinnerTechniques of Graeco-Egpytian Magic, by Stephen SkinnerTechniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic, by Stephen Skinner
Golden Hoard Press, 9780738746326, 388 pp. 2014

Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic exhibits a soft spot I have for magick: the academic approach. This Ph.D. paper by Stephen Skinner is the latest of the his many works on the Western esoteric tradition, in addition to many books on feng shui. His clear grasp on the historical data and his academic lens make this paper-turned-book a highly educational though sometimes mundane read. There is no fluff here — just facts, charts, and the occasional historical backtracking. Yet, Skinner’s painstaking translation, organization, and interpretation bring to light many long-standing traditions’ origins in the magick of Late Antiquity. Skinner describes a snapshot in time when magick held reverence as part of a tradition tied to the mystery cults and religions of the day.  Continue reading


Toastar!, by Francis Breakspear

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Toastar!, by Francis H BreakspearToastar!, by Francis H BreakspearToastar!: Further Adventures in Chaos Magick, by Francis H Breakspear
Hidden Publishing, 9780955523748, 122 pp., 2009

Francis H Breakspear was the pseudonym of the academic chaote Dave Evans, who passed in 2013. This was his third book in under this name, following Kaostar! and If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It! (As Breakspear, Evans seemed inordinately fond of exclamation points.)

Both a scholar and a practitioner of the occult, Evans was a founding editor of The Journal for the Academic Study of Magic, and co-editor of Ten Years of Triumph of the Moon (with Dave Green). He was also the author of The History of British Magick After Crowley and Aleister Crowley and the 20th Century Synthesis of Magick. Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, he was also an occasional contributor to both Spiral Nature and Plutonica.net, and a good friend. Continue reading


The Gorgon’s Tarot, by Dolores Fitchie

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The Gorgon's Tarot, by Dolores FitchieThe Gorgon's Tarot, by Dolores FitchieThe Gorgon’s Tarot, by Dolores Fitchie
Schiffer Publishing, 9780764345906, 79 cards, instruction booklet, 2014

The Gorgon’s Tarot is an unusual deck: the cards are round, and the images are predominantly black and white. “Gorgon” appears to be a nickname for Dolores Fitchie herself, and also serves as the patron creature presiding over this deck, in particular, Euryale, the gorgon who defied the gods, seeking knowledge and truth.

The cards began life as a graphic project, not a divinatory tool, and The Gorgon’s Tarot was more than 10 years in the making. The black and white design is deliberate and is intended to remove colour symbolism, which Fitchie finds distracting, and has no interest in. There are two cards that contain splashes of red: The Blind Gorgon and the Devil. When they appear, the bright flashes of red make these cards seem all the more startling. Continue reading


Liber Nox, by Michael Howard

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Liber Nox, by Michael HowardLiber Nox, by Michael HowardLiber Nox: A Traditional Witch’s Gramarye, by Michael Howard
Skylight Press, 9781908011855, 217 pp., 2014

Liber Nox is subtitled “A Traditional Witch’s Gramarye” in order to distinguish it from various forms of Wicca and contemporary Paganism, and to emphasize that it’s not in those traditions, but dealing with something older.

The book covers what one might expect from a basic text of witchcraft: the deities, the tools, initiation, circle casting, and the Wheel of the Year. In this regard it’s a good book, and if you need another guide to the Wheel of the Year and the mythology and rituals behind it, or the tools of the craft, then Liber Nox can get you started. Continue reading


Holistic Tarot, by Benebell Wen

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Holistic Tarot, by Benebell WenHolistic Tarot, by Benebell WenHolistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth, by Benebell Wen
North Atlantic Books, 158394835X, 896 pp (incl. notes, appendices, and index), 2015

Holistic Tarot is useful as a tool for personal growth and study, with fresh ideas for tarot enthusiasts from a variety of backgrounds. Tarot practitioners can glean inspiration and find structure for instruction, spiritual and magical use, yet at the same time, an argument is made that much of tarot’s usefulness comes not from mysticism but from analytical psychology.

Including notes, appendices and index, Holistic Tarot is nearly 900 pages, and is chock-full of tables, spreads, and writing that is practical, comprehensive, and transformative. The book itself is more than a vast instruction manual for tarot practitioners from novice to skilled levels, Benebell Wen also encourages its use as a volume for teaching tarot. It includes information for numerous disciplines, giving a nod to the Tree of Life, astrology, numerology and the author’s roots in eastern thought, with the I Ching, a Ba Gua spread, and a sprinkling of the concept of qi throughout. Continue reading


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