Tag: Reviews

Chemical Wedding

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Chemichal WeddingI’m just back from the late-night regional premiere of the new Crowley-based film, Chemical Wedding, here in England. Much anticipated, this film is the brainchild (or should that be Moonchild?) of Bruce Dickinson. He is apparently a long-time Crowley fan, and will be better known as the screaming front man of perennial stadium heavy-metallers Iron Maiden. Apart from a few peripheral references in recent mainstream film (one of the Hellraisers, Razorblade Smile, etc.), Crowley hasn’t really been touched on for decades - you have to go back to the often appalling sixties’ Hammer Horror stuff, based on Dennis Wheatley’s books, or the 1950s classic Night of the Demon.The prospects here looked good, with a prominent Shakespearian/Dickensian actor (Simon Callow) in the lead role instead of some unknown no-hoper. The plot encompassed some science fiction angles (the film Weird Science from the 80s immediately sprang to mind) and it is set in a modern-day Cambridge University, with a chaos-mathematics/quantum physics slant on to proceedings. Crowley is essentially called back to life via virtual reality technology, and possesses the body of an elderly and befuddled professor, who suddenly becomes the Beast renewed (in a rather natty purple velvet suit). Sounded like a great premise, and the online trailer, released ages ago, was simply fabulous.Well, now I’ve seen the film... Read More

The Starry Rubric, by Alexander Cummins

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The Starry Rubric, by Alexander CumminsThe Starry Rubric: Seventeenth-century English Astrology and Magic, by Alexander Cummins Hadean Press, 9781907881213, 166 pp., 2012Alexander Cummins is a new name in the field of historical research, but you will hear more of him in the future, I hope. This review is based on an electronic copy of the work, but having seen the quality, appeal and sheer tactile beauty of Hadean’s previous output, buyers of the physical book are in for a treat; the production standards and quality of materials in use are both extremely high. These books are going to be around for centuries, which is pleasing.Both (some) academics and lay readers might ask “Astrology? A load of old nonsense isn’t it?” Maybe, but it still has a power to influence behaviour and beliefs in the 21st century (for example I bet you can tell me your star sign, without even pausing?) when we are all supposed to be rational scientific thinkers. Imagine the added power, then, of a system that was so all-encompassing, some four centuries ago, before the advent of mass literacy, TV and the internet. Wisely this book does not delve deeply into whether the systems in use ever worked, instead this worthy book concentrates more on the history and social function of how believing that it did work affected how people acted, what they did and believed, and what they thought, and said, and wrote. That is definitely fertile ground for the researcher, and this book plants many seeds in that ground. The harvest is exceptionally interesting, with chapters covering both prophetic and propaganda uses of astrology, and the personal, the societal, the political and the practical implications for those who consulted astrologers in those times (and, indeed by implication, those who do so now). Read More

Moon Phase Astrology, by Raven Kaldera

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Moon Phase Astrology, by Raven KalderaMoon Phase Astrology, by Raven Kaldera Destiny Books, 9781594774010, 354pp., 2011It’s always nice to see an astrology book that isn’t simply another introductory rehash. In Moon Phase Astrology, Raven Kaldera decides to narrow the focus of the book to just the Moon.The book has the necessary section on how to find out what phase your moon is in, and the difference between the astronomical, astrological, and natural methods of calculating the moon phases. An issue pops up here though, for when discussing the rulerships of the signs not even a mention is given to classical attributions, only the modern are worked with in this text. To spend an entire book on the Moon Kaldera explores the eight phases and twelve Zodiac signs, meaning there are 96 different moons to work with. Read More

Thoth, by Lesley Jackson

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Thoth, by Lesley JacksonThoth: The History of the Ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom, by Lesley Jackson Avalonia Books, 9781905297474, 225 pp., 2012This is a rather unique book in that it does not attempt to be anything other than an attempt to show how Egyptians through the millennia related to Thoth. It isn't designed to detail the hymns and rituals associated with Thoth, although they do figure into the account. It isn't about his priesthood or his temples, although they also enter into the accountThere are numerous books which relate how the dynastic families of ancient Egypt related to Thoth, but very few which give any indication how commoners saw their interaction with the God of Wisdom in his various functions of scribe, messenger of the gods, protector, and psychopomp . While the average Egyptian might expect that they would never encounter the majority of their gods, Thoth was their guide in the afterlife, and everyone – no matter how high or low their status – would meet him during their transition between life and afterlife. Read More

A Circle of Stones, by Erynn Rowan Laurie

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A Circle of Stones, by Erynn Rowan LaurieA Circle of Stones: Journeys and Meditations for Modern Celts, Second Edition, by Erynn Rowan Laurie Megalithica Books, 9781905713776, 124 pp., 2012It may be showing its age a bit, even the author admits that there have been advances in the archaeological underpinnings of the work, and increased knowledge of the language and culture of the Irish Celtic people. In spite of that, or perhaps because of it, this remains an easily understandable book, and a good source for those who wish to walk the Celtic Reconstructionist path of Paganism.There haven't been a lot of changes made since it was originally issued. There have been a few improvements in the translation of Irish words, and the illustrations have been redone, but the information is essentially unchanged.There are numerous suggestions for several rituals, as well as guidelines for the creation and maintenance of altars – including suggestions for turning your entire living space into a sacred environment. One of the great things is that she emphasizes the need for the altar to work for you: it doesn't have to be a certain size or shape, it doesn't have to be kept overly neat and tidy, and it doesn't need to be particularly artistic in its arrangement. It should, however, be a place which you visit frequently, thus alleviating the necessity for dusting it. After all, if you are interacting with the altar constantly, things will not remain static for very long.  Read More

The Hidden Master and the Unspeakable Evil, by Jack Barrow

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The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil, by Jack BarrowThe Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil, by Jack Barrow Winged Feet Productions, 9780951532911, 286 pp.What do magicians really do? Is Blackpool really the centre of evil for the UK? Is there a magical spell to make a car start? These and many other questions are asked and answered in this worthy first novel by Jack Barrow, who has written several magical theory and practice books in the last 20 years or so.  Read More

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