The Book of Primal Signs: The High Magic of Symbols, by Nigel Pennick Destiny Books, 9781620553152, 240 pp. (incl. bibliography and index), 2014Understanding signs and symbols, at least to some extent, can be an important part of many people’s practice. The Book of Primal Signs: The High Magic of Symbols by Nigel Pennick takes an in depth look at many common and uncommon symbols as seen in today’s modern world.The Book of Primal Signs is not a casual read. The tome is academic in nature, and, as such, the writing tends to be quite heavy and dense. There’s a lot of information contained in not so many pages. The text itself is only 200 pages long with an additional 30 paid to the bibliography and index. It hits on large, familiar symbols such like the swastika and the common runes while still paying attention to lesser known images like the checker. Pennick spends equal time discussing the history and usage of all symbols in both the magical world and in popular culture. Read More
The Gift of Shamanism: Visionary Power, Ayahuasca Dreams, and Journeys to Other Realms, by Itzhak Beery Destiny Books 9781620553725, 237 pp. 2015Itzhak Beery is an internationally renowned shamanic healer and teacher. He had trained with many shaman elders throughout South and North America. Surprisingly, Beery became a shaman by “coincidence,” when he was in his late thirties and was initiated into the Circle of 24 Yachaks by a Quechua teacher in Ecuador. This book is a collection of his and his clients’ intimate experiences with the healings and initiations of shamanism.
I initially recorded them in an effort first to convince myself, and maybe others, that there are some universal phenomena whose origins we do not completely understand at this time, but nonetheless can have incredibly useful and practical value in our daily lives.Read More
Osogbo: Speaking to the Spirits of Misfortune, by Ócha’ni Lele Destiny Books, 9781620550984, 240 pp., 2014I loved Osogbo. I don’t say that often, or lightly; to earn such praise a book has to open up a whole new world for me, to change my point of view, to teach me something I can use daily. This is such a book.Ócha’ni Lele is a master storyteller, and he has rich material to work with: the oral traditions of the Lucumí religion of western Africa. He opens the book with the story of the twin brothers Iré, blessings, and Osogbo, misfortune, and how Osogbo came to be dominant in our world. Never before have I read an explanation of their relationship so elegant -- in the sense that mathematicians use the word, sensible and beautiful in its simplicity. I won’t recount it here; everyone reading this review should experience it through Lele’s words. Read More
A Druid's Handbook to the Spiritual Power of Plants: Spagyrics in Magical and Sexual Rituals, by Jon G. Hughes, illustrations by Damien Switzer Destiny Books, 9781620552650, 310 pp. (incl. index), 2014In the introduction, author Jon G. Hughes writes that he "began with the intention of comparing the plant-based preparations, rituals, and magic of the Welsh Druidic tradition with those of the broader and infinitely more documented spiritual traditions practiced all over the world." However, he continues, writing that he "came in contact with the works of ancient and modern alchemists," and his "fascination was spurred by the alchemical search for immortality and the involvement with sexual ritual, as both have their place in the Druidic tradition."In the first section, Hughes goes into detail about the history of Druidic practices and alchemy. He explains that each practice was created and spread in separate parts of the world, yet they are similar when broken down to their individual workings. Read More
Stones of the Seven Rays: The Science of the Seven Facets of the Soul, by Michel Coquet Destiny Books, 978-1594774331, 352 pp., 2012Stones of the Seven Rays contains two major parts: “The Esoteric Tradition of Stones,” and “Stones of the Seven Rays.” The latter catalogues the properties of the primary stones for each Ray. Within each section, substitute stones are listed (e.g., rock crystal for diamond), which expands the usefulness of the material.This edition is very nicely produced. It is printed on extra-gloss paper, and is full of excellent colour photos, mostly by the author. It gives a structured overview of gemstone lore associated with the doctrine of the seven rays.The model of the seven rays comes from Theosophy. The best source for anyone who wants more detail on the Rays and their natures would be Alice Bailey's Esoteric Psychology, Vol. 1: A Treatise on the Seven Rays. The rays are considered to be primary energies and intelligences emanating from the Source, as the archetype of all of our septenary enumerations (planets, heavens, days of the week, and so on), and as forces that condition the course of evolution by cycling in and out of prominence in a great cycle reminiscent of the yugas of Indian cosmology. Read More
Talking to the Spirits: Personal Gnosis in Pagan Religion, by Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera Destiny Books, 9781620550830, 320 pp., 2013This book is an excellent exploration of communication with the spirit world with material of interest to the curious, the absolute beginner, and the experience spirit- worker. While it is primarily informed by Northern Tradition Paganism, it draws first hand examples from a wide array of spirit-workers from a variety of paganisms, including Asatru, Heathens, Druids, Celtic Reconstructionists, Hellenics, Kemetics, modern Shamans, and more. It also does an excellent job reminding us that these communications take place in cultural contexts and in the broader context of the natural world itself.The book begins with an exploration of what personal gnosis is and what it feels like; and since much of the information we receive from the spirits can not be verified and may not be for everyone, how we can respond to what the gods, ancestors, and spirits are telling us. It explores why we want to cultivate more direct communication, what that communication might look like, and some of the risks and dangers along the way.The book frankly addresses delusion, scepticism, lies, and inflated egos in a way which is constructive - discerning without being overly judgemental. It also has an entire chapter addressing the relationship between spirit contact and mental health concerns, do so in a way which is supportive, sensitive and informed. Too many books on magical practices simply say that anyone with any mental health issues should simply avoid esoteric work; but that ignores the fact that much healing can be found in these practices and that some of the sensitivities that leave certain people vulnerable to mental illness can be the same sensitivities that leave some of the same people open to spiritual awareness. Managing these gifts and burdens together seems to me to be a far cry better than shutting everything down because some 'spiritual leaders' don't have the skills to mentor such individuals. Given that I work in the intersection of spirituality and mental health, I was delighted to see it introduced so well here. Read More