Reviews

Book, film, tarot and oracle reviews.

Wiccecraeft, by Sinead Spearing

By Mike Gleason | November 12, 2014 | Leave a comment

Wiccecraeft, by Sinead SpearingWiccecraeft, by Sinead SpearingWiccecraeft: Shamanic Magic from the Dark Ages, by Sinead Spearing
Green Magic, 978-0-956188625, 184 pp. (incl. appendix), 2011

Over years of discussion with family members and other initiates, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the biggest problems faced by members of non-Abrahamic faiths is not opposition (both from within their own movements and from without), but the language we use to express ourselves. That is apparent twice within the title of this book. “Wiccecraeft” is bound to both confuse people (did the author mean Wicca craft or witchcraft?) and turn people away (if it is about Wicca, then witches won’t look at it, and if it is about witchcraft, then Wiccans might spurn it). Looked at another way, however, it is obviously intended to make people stop and think about the subject.

The second sticking point is the “shamanic magic” referenced in the subtitle. Purists will insist that shamans only exist with the extreme northern reaches of the inhabited work. There are other words to describe indigenous religious practitioners from other regions. “Shaman,” however, has been used within the academic community in such a non-specific way for decades, so its use is probably guaranteed for the foreseeable future.

The introduction serves to clear up any misunderstandings concerning the use of the word shaman, although the perceived differences between Wicca and witchcraft are not really addressed. Spearing makes it clear that she is aware of the fact that our perception of the world is very different from that experienced by our ancestors. While we may acknowledge this on some levels, it does not make it easy to shift to a more primitive perception. Continue reading


The Columbine Effect, by Beth Winegarner

By Nicole Pippin | November 10, 2014 | Leave a comment

Goth legs, by Bryan LedgardThe Columbine Effect, by Beth WinegarnerThe Columbine Effect: How Five Teen Passtimes Got Caught in the Crossfire and Why Teens are Taking Them Back, by Beth Winegarner
Lulu, 9781304431219, 249 pp. (incl. appendix, notes, and bibliography), 2013

Every generation of teenagers has grown a little wilder and a little more transgressive as society becomes increasingly complex. Teenagers are attempting to find themselves and a supportive peer group while navigating a society that is more socially active and integrated on levels we have never experienced before. Beth Winegarner writes a thought-provoking and well-researched piece highlighting teenage angst and shedding light on some of the occult practices that have been tarnished by bad media coverage on the heels of incidents like the Columbine shooting.

When the Columbine shootings occurred there was a competitive media frenzy that led to significant misinformation about the culprits, citing heavy metal music and musicians like Marilyn Manson as influences. There has been an element of this blame-shifting present in each school shooting and social tragedy since Colombine. If a pentagram was found in a culprit’s bedroom or adorning their school binder, then ideas of Satan worship and dark powers have been brought to the forefront as causation, often overshadowing the more realistic factors of personal loss, loneliness and depression. Because of media coverage like this occult practices have become synonymous with dark practices, and are surrounded by fear. Continue reading


Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth, by John Michael Greer

By Susan Starr | November 3, 2014 | Leave a comment

Haunted tree, by Ian SaneMystery Teachings from the Living Earth, by John Michael GreerMystery Teachings from the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology, by John Michael Greer
Weiser Books, 9781578634897, 140 pp., 2012

Reading Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth was a curious experience. I felt like I was reading two books at once: the first describing spiritual teachings we can derive from ecological laws; the second, how the mystery teachings are being misinterpreted and distorted by more modern spiritual movements.

Greer devotes much time to discussing why the belief that one can create one’s own reality is a partial truth and how popular spiritual movements promulgate that belief. He points out that this has been a corruption of the mystery school teaching that we are created by the reality that was here before us and that we always co-create with that reality. He nails it when he says: Continue reading


The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism, by Patrick Lepetit

By J Simpson | October 20, 2014 | Leave a comment

The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism, by Patrick LepetittThe Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism, by Patrick Lepetitt
The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism: Origins, Magic, and Secret Societies, by Patrick Lepetitt
Inner Traditions, 9781620551752, 544 pp. (incl. bibliography and notes), 2014

The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism symbolizes a reuniting of art, science, and mysticism: the head, body, and heart, all working together.

As an artistic movement surrealism seeks to “resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality” as a revolutionary act. From the outset, the surrealists declared war on rationality, which had allowed for the atrocities of two world wars to take place, causing French novelist Albert Camus to proclaim that “surrealism’s essential enemy is rationalism.” Devoted anarchists, the surrealists felt that “so long as revolutionaries confine themselves to certain specific aspects of social life without attacking the spiritual structure of society directly,” then they were doomed to failure. This caused poet Tristan Tzara to claim that “the love of ghosts, witchcraft, occultism, magic, vice, dream, madness, passions, true or invented folklore, mythology (or even mystification), social or other kinds of utopias, real or imagined journeys, bric-a-brac, marvels, the adventures and mores of primitive peoples and generally everything that did not fit into the rigid frameworks in which beauty had been placed to identify itself with the mind.”

The surrealists were interested in occult and metaphysical currents from the very beginning — as seen with the Vodou-ispired works of Cuban painter Wifredo Lam, or the explicitly Pagan paintings of Leonora Carrington — although often not in so many words, as they “ventured onto the terrain of mediumship stripped of its spiritualist clutter.” In the process the surrealists would become a kind of secret society and take a similar role to that of the Freemasons or Rosicrucians in the Enlightenment, illuminating and updating the age old mysteries with emerging schools of thought like psychoanalysis, quantum physics, and relativity. Continue reading


Grimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch, by Raven Grimassi

By Nicole Rain Sellers | October 13, 2014 | Leave a comment

Grimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch, by Raven GrimassiGrimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch, by Raven GrimassiGrimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch: Mastering the Five Arts of Old World Witchery, by Raven Grimassi
Weiser Books, 9781578635504, 240 pp. (incl. appendices and bibliography), 2014

Plant spirits appear in the most ancient practices of Witchcraft. These primal entities possess power and knowledge that aids the Witches’ Craft.

Grimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch offers the magickal keys to accessing the spirits of the plant kingdom. Decidedly gothic, with many allusions to roses, thorns and shadows, the book’s formal, atmospheric tone is sure to stir magickal memories in the blood of those called to read it.

From the ancient practices of old world witchery springs the Rose and Thorn Path, a system Grimassi manifested after he “fell back into the brewing cauldron from which all things emerge.” He continues, “When I surfaced my self-identity as a witch of any specific cultural expression of witchcraft had dissolved away’. As a grimoire (a traditional book of spells) this book does not disappoint. It presents a usable system of witchcraft based on instantly recognisable archetypes. I have read a few of Grimassi’s books and feel this is his best to date.

The “mastering the five arts” subtitle suggests the book is aimed primarily at serious witches with some level of magical experience. As such I would have appreciated a deeper exploration of the origins of Grimassi’s chosen symbols and plants, but he writes with such authentic wisdom this hardly seems to matter. Central themes are natural divinity and spiritualism — the book deals not so much with plants themselves but the spirits inherent in and attached to them. By showing respect for “Shadow” (the collective wisdom of the earth and ancestors) the green mysteries can be entered. Continue reading


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