“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. Continue reading
The Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult, edited by Richard Metzger
Disinformation, 9781938875106, 352 pp., 2004, 2014
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “grimoire,” I think of dusty old tomes full of alchemical esoterica and glyphs in some cobwebbed book shoppe that smells of sandalwood, possibly helmed by a bearded man in a fez.
The Book of Lies, from the legendary Disinformation imprint, is a grimoire for the 21st century. It breaks the carbonite stasis of this kind of outmoded thinking, and zooms into the present. It’s a wonderful primer on postmodern magick, broken up into sections, from Magick in Theory and Practice, to Occult Icons to Scarlet Women, Secret Societies, as well as a section dedicated solely to the 20th century’s most infamous mage, Aleister Crowley. The Book of Lies is comprised of 40 essays from some of the occult underground’s leading lights, including Invisibles‘ author Grant Morrison; tryptamine consciousness from Terence McKenna; Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV alien Genesis P-Orridge; to leading chaote Phil Hine; biblical apocrypha from Boyd Rice; and anarchist activist Hakim Bey (Peter Lamborn Wilson). Continue reading
Yvonne Aburrow is one of my sister writers at the Patheos Pagan channel and she’s also the author of the newly published book All Acts of Love and Pleasure: Inclusive Wicca from Avalonia Press. I had the opportunity to catch up with her recently and I asked her about her practice and her new book: what inspired it, what drove it, and how it connects to issues that are currently hot topics in the Pagan community.
Sable Aradia: So tell those who might not be familiar a little about you. What is your background in the Craft?
Yvonne Aburrow: I was initiated into Gardnerian Wicca in 1991. The thing that made me realise that I am a Pagan was reading Puck of Pook’s Hill, by Rudyard Kipling. I was lucky enough to find a coven that was also interested in our connection to the land and local deities and spirits. I am also interested in Hinduism, Taoism, and Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Sumerian, and Roman Paganism, and my personal or household deities include deities from several different pantheons. I enjoy the earthy and sensual aspects of the Craft, and I believe that Wicca is a partnership with the deities, rather than them serving us, or us serving them. Continue reading
Voices of the Sacred Feminine: Conversations to Re-Shape Our World, edited by Rev. Dr. Karen Tate
Changemakers Books, 978-1-78279-510-0, 394 pp., 2014
Voices of the Sacred Feminine is a collection of 40 interviews and guest essays on Rev. Dr. Karen Tate’s Internet radio show of the same name. I’ve never listened to it, never heard of it until I reviewed this book, and wow, was I missing out! The book is a sampling of her shows over the past nine years, covering everything from sacred art to politics to archaeomythology. The book is divided into five sections: Deity, Archetype and Ideal; Ritual and Healing; Alternatives to Patriarchy; Sacred Activism; and a tribute to the late drummer Layne Redmond.
Each section is rich in its own right, and worthy of its own book review. Here, I’ll choose one conversation from each section to give a sense of what you might find in it. Continue reading
The Wheel of the Year has turned again and now Ostara, known secularly as the vernal equinox, is on the horizon. This is a time of celebration for many, because it marks the date when the day starts to become longer than the night.
Ostara, named after the Germanic fertility goddess, has been celebrated in many forms for hundreds of years. Spring is seen as the time of rebirth and fertility; it is a time of great celebration as the warmth returns to the Earth and the plants and animals flourish. Continue reading
As popular Wiccan opinion goes, the number one coven killer in existence is a dreadful little thing called divorce. We’ve all heard the stories; the High Priest’s and High Priestess’ relationship devolves, the marriage unravels, the trust is shattered and people inevitably pick sides. Much can be said about divorce and its effects on a coven and on an entire line by Gardnerians in the USA. But this article isn’t about the number one coven killer in America. This article is about another way that covens end; this article is about life. Continue reading