Tag: Reviews

The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 33

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The Witches' Almanac, Issue 33The 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), 2013Reading 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: 9x6-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." Read More

Neolithic Shamanism, by Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova

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Neolithic Shamanism, by Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova Neolithic Shamanism: Spirit Work in the Norse Tradition, by Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova Destiny Books, 9781594774904, 342 pp. (incl. index, plus 8 pages of colour plates), 2012The title, Neolithic Shamanism, may be a bit misleading as there is not a lot careful exploration of the stone age, but the sub-title, "Spirit Work in the Norse Tradition" seems closer to the subject of the book.  The book instead serves as an introduction to the Northern Tradition - which the authors use to refer to a specific modern tradition, not simply the hearth cultures of Northern Europe and the modern practices derived from them. However, by looking at the natural rather than cultural aspects, they seem to be trying to go back to the bare bones of the matter.  Regardless, much of the information is generalizable and the book can be read in this broader light, so long as the reader understands that this is not its primary purpose or intention. Read More

3 Great Esoteric Anthologies

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Anthologies provide themed essays from a variety of writers, allowing the reader to sample an assortment of styles and opinions. Finding new writers can be difficult for the average person, there's so much out there that's useless, or worse. Anthology pieces always vary in quality, and are frequently contradictory when taken as a whole, but that can be part of their charm.Generation HexGeneration Hex was released last year, edited by Jason Louv and published by the folks at Disinformation.com.It's a collection of essays written by magickians under thirty, several of whom I'm familiar with online, and some I've not spoken to for years. I found it a great nostalgic piece, despite the fact it was supposed to be cutting edge; it more reminded me where I've been, and where I've found others. It's the kind of book you can read to know you're not alone. Read More

The Candle and the Crossroads, by Orion Foxwood

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The Candle and the Crossroads, by Orion Foxwood The Candle and the Crossroads: A Book of Appalachian Conjure and Southern Root-Work, by Orion Foxwood Weiser Books, 9781578635085, 234 pp., 2012At first glance, I was expecting another introductory magic book with a bit of southern flair. On this front Orion Foxwood's book does not disappoint, as it does provide a number of important basics in a clear, easily understood, and practical way. However, what really makes this book compelling is that in addition to the basics of Conjure, there are a few other interesting strands in the fabric of this book. These include auto-biographical elements, auto-ethnographical elements, and a sense of spirituality that goes beyond the use of magic as a simply occult means to practical ends.Biographically, Foxwood opens a window onto his life growing up in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and his later move to Maryland. He tells us about conversations with his mother and mother's midwife, both practitioners of Conjure. His lived experience is an effective vehicle to introduce us to both Conjure and the culture it comes from.Ethnographically, we are introduced to the magical side of southern culture in an engaging and accessible way. We see a world where African, European, and Native folk magic have come together to make a uniquely American, and uniquely southern system of magic. It is syncretic and eclectic, yet coherent and profoundly grounded in the land and the history of the people who live there. Read More

10+ books to a new magician

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Over at Rune Soup Gordon introduced a book game with the following guidelines:
How would you introduce someone to magic using only books? He or she has a month in a lake house and will read whatever you tell them in the exact order that you tell them to. Not even any peeking at other books on the list.
It's a good game, for the full list of rules and to participate, click here. You can see Gordon's picks here. I offered my response in the comments section, but I thought I'd share it here too, with a little more about why I chose these books in particular.My aim was a little different than Gordon's, I took the game as a chance to create a new magickian from a complete skeptic, not to create a mini-Psyche - that would have been a different list altogether. Perhaps a project for another day.Without further ado, here's my list: Read More

Words of the magi: An interview with Alan Chapman and Duncan Barford

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Altered States, photo by H Koppdelaney
Alan Chapman and Duncan Barford of The Baptist's Head and Open Enlightenment were kind enough to answer several questions I put to them.
Did you formulate the Core Practice techniques immediately after attaining the Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel [K&C], or did it follow your successful crossing of the Abyss? ALAN: I attained the K&C using a free-form ritual technique, but I came to develop a simpler method based on Father Thomas Keating's centred prayer as I persisted in invoking the HGA through the years.The bare-bones Core Practice described in Alan's essay bears a strong  resemblance to vipassana meditation, and Duncan has mentioned a long-standing interest in Buddhism. In your work, each of you pay homage to Daniel Ingram and his fantastic work. At what point did you pick up the links between wisdom traditions and decide to adopt vipassana into your regular practice? Read More

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