The Shamanic Witch, by Gail Wood
Red Wheel/Weiser, 978-1-57863-430-9, 244 pp. (incl. Glossary, Notes, and Bibliography), 2008
The Shamanic Witch is targeted at introducing practicing witches to neo-Shamanism. As such, the first two thirds of the book introduce and instruct one in beginning a neo-Shamanic practice, and the last third is directed at incorporating Shamanic elements into a pre-existing Witchcraft practice. Even if one is not a witch, the introduction to neo-Shamanism is well written, accessible, and assumes no prior knowledge. It would be unwise to pick up this book with the intention of beginning witchcraft, although a reading list is provided at the end of the book.
The first two chapters introduce the concept and context of Shamanism and provide the reader with some expectations as to what the experience of journeying will be like. Wood includes a number of exercises to prepare the reader: becoming comfortable with their own style of visualization, connecting with drumming and non-ordinary states of consciousness. The third chapter is dedicated to introductory journeys, following what seems to have become standard practice for neo-Shamanism: journeying to the lower world to meet a power animal and then journeying to the upper world to meet a guide or teacher. Wood writing is casual and approachable. She draws directly from her own experiences both as teacher and student, presenting components of her own personal journeys but also alerting the reader that their own may take very different forms. Continue reading
Night of the Witches: Folklore, Traditions and Recipes for Celebrating Walpurgis Night, by Linda Raedisch
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-2058-6, 238 pp., 2011
This is a book which is dedicated to one specific observance (May Eve). It is not intended for the active practitioner or even for the individual striving to learn about Witchcraft, rather it is aimed at the individual who has no background in folklore. It is set against a backdrop of European custom and beliefs, which makes sense, because of the dominant European derivation of modern witchcraft beliefs. Continue reading
Bridging the Gap: Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society, by Crystal Blanton
Megalithica Books, 9781905713431, 146 pp., 2010
Those of us who have been in the Pagan community for any appreciable amount of time are well aware that the topic of this book is one which in of vital concern as Paganism becomes more acceptable in the world outside our circles, groves, and covens. From the very beginnings of the public existence of Paganism in the modern world there have arisen situations which needed to be addressed, but which frequently were shuffled to the side with a “We’ll deal with that later” attitude.
The past decade or so has seen the rapid rise of both solitary and eclectic segments of the Pagan community. This has led to even more destabilization of the overall community, since there appears to be a high level of distrust, if not outright antagonism between these segments and the more traditional groups which exist. Continue reading
Where Do Demons Live?: Everything You Want to Know About Magic, by Frater U.’. D.’.
Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738714790, 187 pp., 2010
In Where Do Demons Live? Frater U.’. D.’. assumes the persona of “Aunt Klara”, an agony aunt for occultniks, delivering lectures on magickal combat, magickal musick, the models of magick (with a focus on the elusive cybernetic model) and answers questions about Freemasonry, witchcraft, the Golden Dawn, the OTO and Satanism.
The result is many ways reminiscent of Aleister Crowley’s Magick Without Tears, in that it represents in a collection of brief essays on a wide variety of topics, though in a vein all his own. Much like Frater U.’. D.’.’s previous works (Practical Sigil Magic, Secrets of Western Sex Magic, High Magic I and II), the advice and recommendations given by Frater U.’.D.’.’s alter (altar?) ego are refreshingly direct and matter of fact. Continue reading
The Three Rays of Witchcraft, by Christopher Penczak
Copper Cauldron, 9780982774304, 205 pp., 2010
This is the first offering from a new publishing venture, Copper Cauldron. The idea of publishing an offering from Christopher is a good one. With over a dozen books and a half a dozen CD sets under his belt, Christopher is not only prolific, but knows how to convey his information without talking down to his readership.
Christopher presents a triple-themed approach to his subject, which is less about Witchcraft and more about the relationships between the three main branches of evolutionary development as he sees it – the divine, the human, and the devas or demigods. Whether you agree with his approach or not, you will find yourself challenged by his writing. It is, in many ways, the antithesis of much modern “occult” writing, which tends towards obscurity and density. Christopher writes clearly and makes no attempt to appear superior to his readers. The information is conveyed clearly and succinctly. Continue reading
Fire Child: The Life & Magic of Maxine Sanders ‘Witch Queen’, by Maxine Sanders
Mandrake, 9781869928780, 309 pp., 2008
I have been waiting for this book to be written for years, if not decades. As I have said in previous reviews, we need more autobiographies (as well as biographies) concerning those people who helped to bring our religion out of the broom closet. We already had Gerald Gardner: Witch and King of the Witches: The World of Alex Sanders as well as several books relating the life and works of George Pickingill, Doreen Valiente, Sybil Leek, and more modern practitioners such as Fiona Horne. The Internet has made it easy to find out about individuals’ actions. Their motivations, however, may not be so easily determined.
One of the things I enjoyed Continue reading