Tag: literature

Review: Cthuloid Dreams, by DJ Lawrence

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Cthuloid Dreams: A Collection of Occult Poetry, by DJ Lawrence
Chaosmagic.com, 115 pp., 2004

Inspired and influenced by the Discordianism, Lovecraft mythos and Setianism, DJ Lawrence has compiled a collection of poetry gathered over the years.

Often lyrical with delightful turns of phrase, Lawrence seems taken with decidedly darker themes, with titles such as ‘Bitter’, ‘Set’, ‘Death’, ‘Necronomicon’, and of course, the title-poem ‘Cthuloid Dreams’.

This is a neat collection of more than sixty short poems, whose evocative imagery would lend itself well to inclusion in darker themed rites.

Cthuloid Dreams
can be purchased exclusively from Chaosmagic.com’s online store.

Review: Kissing Darkness, by Carolyn Mary Kleefeld and David Wayne Dunn

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Kissing Darkness: Love Poems, by Carolyn Mary Kleefeld and David Wayne Dunn
RiverWood Books, 1883991838, 93 pp., 2003

In 1980 David Wayne Dunn first wrote to Carolyn Mary Kleefeld after reading her first book of book, Climate of the Mind, expressing his admiration. Over the next seventeen years, they continued their correspondence sharing poetry and gradually their more intimate experiences. The poems in this book were written between 1996 and 2002, which Dunn and Kleefeld wrote for each other.

This lover’s dialogue in poetry, Kissing Darkness, written over a five year period, expresses romantic and erotic ideals, conveyed in vivid metaphor.

The poetry in this collection is interspersed with beautiful illustrations, being Kleefeld’s bright and expressive series of paintings titled Immortal Letters and Dunn’s colour ink drawings.

Review: Aradia or The Gospel of the Witches, by Charles Godfrey Leland

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Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches, by Charles Godfrey, Leland, introduced by A.J. Drew
New Page Books, 160 pp., 2003

It is primarily in the Preface, Introduction, Commentaries, and “Final Word” that this edition differs from earlier copies. Basically, this is a reprint of Leland’s original publication.

Although many of the younger generation of Witches (and, I suspect, most of the Wiccans) will never have seen this book (or even heard of it), it is the second copy of it that I have owned. My first copy was produced by Hero Press with an introduction by Dr. Leo Louis Martello, well over a quarter of a century ago. At one time it was considered required reading for all students of the Craft. It forms the underpinning of much of the teaching and mythology of Strega (in fact, it was often the first exposure many of us had to that branch of the Craft).

The Witchcraft expounded in this small volume is not the White-light, politically correct Wicca of the modern world. Witches, in this volume, are encouraged to return good for good, but if someone slaps your face – punch his lights out! No meekness or mildness here.

Published originally in 1899 (that’s right folks, half a century before Gardner, Valiente, et. al.) it contains the essence of “The Charge of the Goddess,” which Doreen Valiente later reworked in Gardner’s Book of Shadows. It contains conjurations in both Italian and English, as well as commentaries throughout by Mr. Drew.

The Little Book of Vegan Poems, by Benjamin Zephaniah

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The Little Book of Vegan Poems, by Benjamin Zephaniah AK Press, 1902593332, 2000The Little Book of Vegan Poems, aimed at both children and adults, begins with a compilation of definitions from various dictionaries and encyclopedias before moving into the poetry. This little book has it all: veganism, animal rights, nature, limericks, hell, even vegan erotic poetry - some cute, some vaguely disturbing, many nonsensical, all eco-friendly, makes me wonder if this book was printed on recycled paper.There's a warning to meat eaters on the back and inside that the poetry might offend them, but the poem "Eat Your Words" ((p. 30)) pretty much sums it up with "And vegetarian poets / Make me nervous quite a lot."  Read More

Review: The Great and Secret Show, by Clive Barker

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The Great and Secret Show, by Clive Barker
HarperCollins, 0006472257, 1989, 1994

“Memory, prophecy and fantasy –
the past, the future and the
dreaming moment between –
are all one country,
living one immortal day.

To know this is Wisdom.

To use it is the Art. “

If you have never read Clive Barker before, prepare to be impressed. His books will be like none you have read before. It is hard to sum up his genre, it crosses from fantasy to horror to metaphysical wonderings. Each book, or series of books is different, yet they all share one thing, and that is Barker’s ability to create not just a new world of characters, but an entire system of beliefs and philosophies that create a story so deep you can almost believe it’s real.

This series (Books of the Art) is my personal favourite out of his books I have read so far. The ideas he puts forward in these novels are as well thought out and tenable as any contained in magickal treatise or religious text.

They concern The Art, while it is never really clarified as to what The Art is, Barker’s creativity and attention to every details convinces you it is real and attainable. These stories provide ideas about our world and race and that of worlds outside our own, of the way that life itself, our every essence of being relate to an overall scheme. Without wishing to ruin aspects of the story, it sets out a clear, and yet not so clear, paradigm of existence, with our world (the cosm) and an almost polar opposite (the meta-cosm) set opposing each other, separated by the dream sea ‘quiddity’ , the place where everything comes from. Our world and that outside our own both seem to be reflections of that which comes from quiddity and it is never perfectly clear what Barker is suggesting about the nature of reality, are we real and the enemy (Iad) in the meta-cosm mere creations of our minds or the other way around?

There are so many levels to this story, as people step up to take their rolls, people searching for The Art, people who know, people who don’t, people finding out, Barker sews together a million little threads seamlessly into one story.

In trying to write this review it became apparent to me how complex these two books are and how hard it is to sum up the plot. It is a series of books that just have to be read by anyone with any interest in different ways of thinking about how everything fits together.

Clive says he will start work on the long awaited book 3 of the art sometime soon, personally, I can’t wait.

Witches in Literature and Lore

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Fair is foul, and foul is fair,/Hover through fog and filthy air” WITCHES, “MACBETH,” ACT I SCENE i. Macbeth’s witches are three strong, female characters, puppet-masters, weaving complex webs of deceit, and then pulling the strings swiftly, strongly and subtly. Many other characters throughout literature and life are shadowed by these 3 sisters, and are shadows of them. Many others, too are made of the same mold, and yet are the opposite of these “rump-fed ronyons.”

“All the world ‘s a stage, /And all the men and women merely players.” Jacques, AS YOU LIKE IT. The three witches really take this to heart, Shakespeare must have wanted them to follow his own philosophies. They, mind you, are no players, but more, the directors. Another three famous “directors” in mythology are the Fates.

Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, the spinner, measurer, and the cutter of life, these three sisters controlled both man and god, their word was indisputable. Men were subject to being cut down at the whim of Atropos, and the happiness in their lives was dished to them by Clotho. They too, manipulated men to fit into their schemes, and cut short any whisperings of good fortune.

The Hindu goddess Kali, the demon form of Parvati, is another likeness to the three witches of Shakespeare’s. She, however, is not a methodical, controlling force, she is pure and utter murder incarnate. Like the weird sisters, Kali obliterates anyone in her path, literally. But the sisters take their revenge in more sly ways, the most cruel way of all. Macbeth is used as the pawn to make the sisters’ plans come to life, whereas Kali’s plan comes from the tip of her sword. She is as fearsome to behold as the sisters are to interpret.

The quote “Foul is fair, and fair is foul,” spoken by the witches applies also to the Greek demi-goddess Eris, or Discord. Most famous for starting the biggest war in Greek history, by throwing the golden apple into the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, she takes another of Shakespeare philosophies deadly serious. To her, mischief is a serious business. Riding in Ares’ chariot, she incites riots, quarrels, and general pandemonium. Calculation is part of her craft. She used greed, just like the witches, to make those around her play into her plans. Carving the words “to the fairest,”into the skin of the apple was a parallel to “All hail Macbeth! That shall be king hereafter,” ACT I SCENE iii. By offering something desirable to those avaricious enough, it is easy for these women to bend the entire world to their plans and desires.

Sarasvati, Queen of the heavens, is the Hindu embodiment of wisdom. She sits on her lotus throne, is personifies spiritual knowledge and mastery of the arts. She is a foil to the sisters. She has the same level of intelligence as the sisters, the same wit and she sees the same depth past the surface as do the weird, but she uses her wisdom to help people, not to harm them. Sarasvati achieved a place in the sky as the Queen, where the sisters are left to crawl on the earth like the snake of Eden. Sarasvati commands the same kind of results as the sisters, only she instills peace, love, health and loyalty in those whom she touches, and everything the sisters manipulate withers away.

Nyai Loro Kidul, a mermaid goddess in the waves of the Pacific Ocean, is like to another face of the Scottish sorceresses. She is a goddess of desire and temptation. She, much like the Greek sirens, lures men to her with the promise of unspeakable beauties, and when the are finally drawn close enough, drunk with their own desire, they are drowned by the illusions she has shown them, and sink to the bottom of the sea. The Wyrd obviously use the same tactics, only, as stunningly portrayed in the movie “Macbeth,” they proffer not personal physical attraction, but they lure prey into their intricate web using promises of greatness and power.

Each of the three sisters seems to have no personality their own, they are all the same, cruel, manipulative, sadistic bitches. This seeming oversight on “Big Bad Bill’s” part is part of what makes the witches so intriguing. To have these three connected so closely by being the acting, thinking the same, being the same, its adds more to the mystery surrounding them throughout the play. The reader knows nothing of the plans of these hags, their backgrounds, or their ulterior motives, and this makes them all the more interesting. We do know, nonetheless, that whatever it is they have in mind, it is unanimous between them what the fates around them shall be.

Very few characters in Shakespeare’s works are strong females, and the witches don’t really count as women, but as something more. Lady Macbeth, as heartless and driven as she was, was no match for the witches. A small foray into their world drove her insane and killed her, and look at how ambitious she was. The witches are by far stronger than her, even stronger than the male parts in Shakespeare’s plays. King Lear broke down, and railed against the rain, and even before the death of his daughter, he was gone. Macbeth himself was easily driven over the edge, all the while the sisters calm, collected and unwaveringly dedicated to their chosen path. It takes pure gall to sit back, and ruin an entire country without the least bit of remorse, or regret. Dedication of that lustre takes a spine, and theirs were unbreakable steel spines. The potion they make, without ever flinching at what’s inside of it is a salute to their hardness and fidelity to their mistress, and their mission, whatever it may be.

Fair is foul. What is good is evil. There are innumerable interpretations to this line, but the one most consistent with the persona of the witches is that playing the fair route, sticking to morals and principles instead of having a little initiative is rotten, weak and putrid to them, whereas “what is foul is fair,” creeps into believing that pushing others to get to the front of the line is perfectly justifiable. This glimpse into them is very small, and also very large. The faithful reader never learns much about the witches, but this reveals much of what is exposed to us. This line also identifies them to other personalities, gives them the flavor that is similar to other characters in history.

Calling Macbeth and Banquo like sirens, with the cunning of Eris offering them the riches of Nyai Loro Kidul, their Kali-esque drive and backbone urge them into caves within the earth, hiding from the sky, and those like Sarasvati, the witches are complex, unique characters. They share traits with many, but there are none that are their equal. Perhaps another “fair is foul and foul is fair,” is that their infamousness is greater than millions of people, goddesses, characters and demons will ever see. Their sadism won them higher notice than any of the people they shadow, and that, though foul, is fair. “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, but the real stench is in the bowels of Scotland.

Grapes of the Silver Moon

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