Tag: Wicca

Mabon, by Diana Rajchel

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Harvest apples, photo by Liga EgliteMabon, by Diana RajchelMabon: Ritual, Recipes & Lore for the Autumn Equinox, by Diana Rajchel Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-4180-2, 227 pp. (incl. appendix, further reading, bibliography, and index), 2015Reading Mabon: Ritual, Recipes & Lore for the Autumn Equinox brought my attention to Lewellyn's Sabbat Essentials series highlighting the eight sabbats celebrated in many Pagan traditions. The Wheel of the Year is common throughout many Pagan communities and creating literature for each season sets a great intent to understand them more deeply. As a career author and journalist with publications in Llewellyn's annuals, The Beltane Papers, Circle Magazine, Facing North, and SageWoman, Diana Rajchel (also the former executive editor of the Pagan Newswire Collective) has the chops for this title.Mabon has six chapters bookended by two sections. Following the series introduction, Rajchel dives into the topics of old and new ways, spells and divination, recipes and crafts, prayers and invocations, and rituals of celebration. The appendix of the book includes tables of correspondences for Mabon, a list of further reading, a bibliography and index. The book as a whole provides many ways to enjoy the autumnal equinox, regardless of the path one walks. Ritual leaders, festival-planners, school-groups, and families can all use this book to deepen their understanding of the myths and practices of Mabon, while also providing some great conversation starters for discussion groups. Solitaries will enjoy the many simple and home-based crafts, spells, and divinations. Read More

Brigid, by Courtney Weber

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Brigid, by Courtney WeberBrigid, by Courtney Weber Brigid: History, Mystery and Magick of the Celtic Goddess, by Courtney Weber Weiser Books, 9781578635672, 247 pp., 2015Courtney Weber is a New York based writer and teacher, Wiccan priestess, and tarot adviser. As her time in college studying theatre came to a close, Weber found herself seeking the guidance of the goddess Brigid to aid her with her creative work. In a bout of writer’s block, she prayed to Brigid for creative inspiration, and her appeals did not go unanswered. In return, Weber offered her dedication in the form of a book.Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess is as much a reflection of Weber’s experience in coming to know Brigid as it is a guide book for the beginner devotee of the great Celtic goddess. The book has a bit of everything; historical information, the re-telling of myths, personal narratives, and practical meditations and rituals complete with detailed instructions that often include photographs. I came to the title with little interest in Celtic deities, but a great interest in the feminine divine, and curious as to why so many witches devote themselves to Brid. As Weber notes in the closing of her book, she questioned whether her devotional choice was sincere or merely trendy. As her book reveals, Brigid’s complexity, depth, and reach as a goddess is responsible for her widespread worship. Read More

The Witch’s Oracle

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The Witch's Oracle, by Marla BrooksThe Witch's Oracle, by Marla BrooksThe Witch’s Oracle, by Marla Brooks, illustrated by Aunia Kahn
Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 978-0-7643-4931-7, 45 cards, 112 pp., 2015

Divination tools, be they card decks, runes, or pendulums, carry a certain resonance that an astute reader will feel as soon as they look at them, or hold them in their hand. This is largely how they decide to work with a particular tool. And so it was when I received The Witch’s Oracle.

As I opened the postal carton and looked at the box, it felt to me like Samhain. The box and the cards themselves are dark, velvety and deep, and reminded me of the richness of the traditional regalia witches wear on that sabbat. The red and black brocade card back becomes iridescent as the angle of light hitting it changes: quite stunning.

Card illustrations by Aunia Kahn are simple but not simplistic, depicting witch’s tools, symbols, and real and mythical beasts. Even if the cards were not labelled, you would not have to guess what they represent. The brocade used on the card back, in different colours, is used as background for some of the cards and works beautifully.

The box has a pull tab so there’s no struggling to open it, and the cards are small enough for easy shuffling. The booklet, with text by Marla Brooks, is small as well, as is the type size, which should have been bigger. Most of the pages have abundant white space, enough that some of it could have been used for easier reading.

The booklet contains sections on clearing, consecrating and charging the deck; how to work with the deck, including a couple of simple spreads; and card meanings. The latter is broken up into some background about the card’s symbol, the meaning of the card and a rhyming incantation to activate its energy. All sections were short, but enough to get some insight into the significance of each card drawn in a reading.

To test the deck I drew a single card, Skull, with the meaning of “carpe diem” and a reminder to not overlook the simple things in life. True enough for me right now, and a reminder I’ve received through other divination methods.

I also used the Witch’s Broom spread — a modified past, present, future spread — to explore the cards further. I drew Dreamcatcher to represent me; Spider to represent challenges I face; Owl to represent opportunities; and Triple Goddess, Ankh, and Chinese Dragon to represent the past, present, and future, respectively. The meanings of the individual cards relative to their positions — especially the Ankh card, representing the present — and the reading as a whole made sense to me.

The Witch’s Oracle is a good solid deck for beginners, either to the Craft or to working with cards. The cards are a fun way to learn about some classic witch symbolism and tools, just enough to whet one’s appetite to learn more from other sources. They’re straightforward enough and the spreads basic enough that someone just learning how to piece together a reading can receive useful information. And they’re pleasing to look at, with a real feeling of magick.

For someone serious about both the Wiccan path and card divination, I’d suggest starting with The Witch’s Oracle and then moving on to The Wicca Deck, which I previously reviewed. Between these two decks, one can gain a great grounding for further work with more intricate divination.

The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power, by Lady Sable Aradia

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The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power, by Lady Sable AradiaThe Witch's Eight Paths of Power, by Lady Sable AradiaThe Witch’s Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft, by Lady Sable Aradia Weiser Books, 978-1-57863-551-1, 275 pp., 2014Lady Sable Aradia has been a practicing witch for a quarter of a century. Being a third degree initiate in the Star Sapphire and Pagans for Peace traditions, she has a depth of experience and knowledge of Wiccan practices that are of value for initiates and veterans alike. Her aim in this book is to explore the concept of the Eightfold Way. This term refers to a Wiccan practice that was introduced by Gerald Gardner in the 1960s. It involves eight steps on the path to developing magical abilities. Lady Sable Arcadia provides a compelling and contemporary view of this Wiccan tradition.The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power is written in clear and concise language that is both informative while holding the readers’ attention. The book begins with an explanation of the very foundation of magick: intent. Aradia details the importance of forming an exact and precise intent in order for a practitioner to will it to happen. For beginners who are struggling with the concept or the practice, the chapter outlines several exercises that can help improve creative visualization, facilitate meditation, and raise conscious awareness. The next two paths deal with the trance -- developing a state of consciousness in which to gain insight, heal, seek knowledge, and the Craft -- the practice of ritual magick. Read More

Did Freemasonry invent modern Paganism?

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Masonic temple, photo by Andy Chase“The Yggdrasil-Tree is a beautiful symbolical representation of Freemasonry,” says Daniel Sickels in his General Ahiman Rezon. The book, which was intended to be read by Freemasons who wanted insight into their fraternity and its rituals, was published in 1868. Yggdrasil, says Sickels, “illustrates the character of Masonic secrecy.” Yet this was, of course, the world tree of pre-Christian, Norse mythology, and Sickels, who also speaks of the norns (the female figures who predetermine the fates of men), is certainly well aware of its character.Sickels’ work appeared more than 85 years prior to the publication of Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today -- which initiated the birth (or, as some would maintain, revival) of the Pagan religion of Wicca -- and just over a century prior to the “revival” of Asatru, the Germanic-inspired, and rune-based Pagan religion which emerged during the 1970s. Yet, some other Freemasons of the 19th century were inspired by northern European, pre-Christian mythology, and absorbed some elements into Masonic, or “fringe Masonic,” ritualism. Read More

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