Manual of Psychomagic: The Practice of Shamanic Psychotherapy, by Alejandro Jodorowsky, translated by Rachael LaValley Inner Traditions, 978-1-62055-107-3, 243 pp. (incl. appendix and index) 2009, 2015In essence a self-help spellbook, Alejandro Jodorowsky begins Manual of Psychomagic with a brief introduction outlining his perspective. He believes that many of an individual’s problems (including physical ailments such as psoriasis, cancer, and infectious disease) stem from the effects of misguided parental actions and sociocultural restrictions on one’s unconscious. To allow one’s unconscious to release the tension it holds one must undertake a dramatic ritual. Through the ritual’s performance and the symbolic fulfillment of desires or release of bonds, the unconscious will be satisfied and one’s problems will dissipate.Jodorowsky’s method is as follows: he uses the tarot to discover and diagnose a consultant’s issue and then prescribes them an act to undertake. He states explicitly that psychomagic is not in fact magick, but acts directly on the individual’s psyche. Unfortunately Manual of Psychomagic suffers from a number of endemic flaws -- including one piece of critically misguided advice. Read More
Journals are one of the most useful tools in a magician’s temple. Writing down events, ideas and progressive achievement can prove to better ones skill in any category. While memory is powerful, it would be foolish to assume that we remember everything all the time. Our journals can serve to remind us of our goals and aspirations while simultaneously serving to bring them to life.Writing is the physical manifestation of thought itself. If mind is the ultimate force of creative energy, then transcribing its contents serve to shape reality to the mold of its beholder. When we use the symbols given to us through words to align thoughts with our creative insight, something very powerful happens. That correspondence between mind and matter serves to create a resonance within an individual and the once ephemeral thought becomes a tangible substance. Where there was once nothing, there is something. 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
Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism: A Beginner's Map Charting an Ancient Path, by S. Kelley Harrell Soul Rocks Books, 1782794336, 148 pp. (incl. resources and references), 2014S. Kelley Harrell, a veteran shamanic teacher and practitioner, has written a fine book on shamanism – but not necessarily for teens. I was excited to come across this title for review, because, to my knowledge, no other book on shamanism exists aimed specifically at teens. Although Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism contains much useful information I feel it lacks the “grab” factor needed to draw today’s teenager in.I believe the problem may simply be one of organization and voice. “Our Wise Young,” the first chapter, describes Harrell’s early years and how she came to shamanism, along with a discussion of animism. The first chapter of part one is a rather pedantic discussion of its history – a necessary topic at some point, but not one that teens might be dying to read first if they don’t have a clue what shamanism is. I love Harrell’s voice in her preface, where she speaks directly and simply to the reader, without jargon or academic-sounding prose. I sincerely wish she had kept it up throughout the book. Read More
Wiccecraeft: Shamanic Magic from the Dark Ages, by Sinead Spearing Green Magic, 978-0-956188625, 184 pp. (incl. appendix), 2011Over 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. Read More
The 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), 2013Every 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. Read More