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 1-09-2005
 

 

The Whimsical
Tarot Deck
by Dorothy Morrison

 

The Whimsical Tarot approaches the reading of cards from a completely different aspect... by associating with childhood images and fairy tales.  This deck allows us to connect with our "inner child".  Although the name may suggest this is a less than serious deck, this deck is a very valuable tool in discovering our inner selves and helping us reconnect with those simple things that give us joy.

The images on the cards do not obviously correspond with the imagery from our experiences with the Rider-Waite style of decks.  Gone are the confusing "Quabalah mystery" symbolism that we pondered and studied in order to interpret the meanings of those older decks.  This is the use of simple and obvious imagery that gives us instant insight into the meaning of the cards.

The images are drawn from well known fairy tales and are familiar to just about anyone.  The art work of Mary Hanson-Robert is clean.  She gives us very colorful images that attract attention but are not obtrusive.  The art work is not distracting, but is lovely to sit and reflect upon. 

As we explore the deck, we find some familiar tarot references.  We do have a Major Arcana comprised of 22 cards, all clearly marked with the number of the card in its order, and the name of the card.  There is no mistaking the card's association.  The Fool - 0 - is the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.  If you look at the tarot as a personal journey of the one who begins as a fool, this association is very obvious.  We have the symbolism of the yellow brick road, we have Toto and so much more.  The Magician is Puss in Boots, the High Priestess is the Fairy Godmother.  There are some very interesting associations, as with The Emperor being Father Christmas, the Old Woman in the Shoe for the Empress, Judgment using The Cricket from Pinnochio, Glinda for The World, Goldilocks being discovered as Justice.  The images are so obvious in some instances, yet they challenge you to use your own judgment and personal insights.

The Minor Arcana is numbered one through ten with the court cards being page, knight, queen and king.  There are four suits: rods, cups, pentacles and swords. The cards are clearly marked with the name on each.  However, the suits symbol does not necessarily appear in the graphic on the card.  As with the page of Cups, we see a crystal ball supported by golden fishes with morning glories growing around the ball.  The meaning is clear... we are looking to the future.  What we are looking for is what we must answer or ourselves.

Each card gives us the same kind of feeling.  We see the familiar, what we have grown up with and are very aware of.  What we need to do is examine why this card is speaking to us - what is it that we can associate with ourselves in this card.

I also find myself drawing on my own knowledge of the tarot and associations when I am using this deck.  While someone who is not familiar with the traditional meanings of the tarot will find this a very easy and fun deck to use, those of us who are trained in the traditional meanings will not find this  "foreign" as there are familiar associations here.  When we look at the "Two of Cups", the traditional meaning being a lesser "Lovers" card, it's association is still retained with the story of the "Owl and the Pussy Cat", so we are not totally out of familiar grounds.  Pentacles still retains its meaning of material matters while cups still reflects inner emotions.  The "Ten of Swords", a card of chaos and mistakes, shows the story of Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall.  The traditional meanings are not told in the mysterious symbolism but in very obvious and well thought through imagery.

There are small details on the cards that also attract attention.  In the "Seven of Cups", a card traditionally of choices, we see a divided road, presumably the yellow brick road from Oz, forking off in many directions, with a multi-sign post.  If you read the little signs, we see choices like Emerald City, To Market To Market, Rabbits Hole, Ginger Bread Lane, Rapunzel's Tower, McDonalds Farm and the Castle.  The associations with these choices leave one with much to ponder.  It is details like this that allow special reflection and a good look at one's inner self.  And these special touches make this a remarkable deck.

There is the usual box that is provided by U.S. Games, and a small booklet with some quick references for interpretation.  However, I would highly recommend that you get the book that accompanies this deck, as there is much here that you should dwell upon, and look into.  I have not seen the "Box Set" that is supposed to be available, with the deck and book sold together and I bought the book and the deck at the same time even though they were sold separately.  I have reviewed the book as well, under the book's listing.

I love this deck for personal contemplation.  And I do not mean this as being a deck you should use only for yourself.  I have used this deck for clients who wantedto examine their own personal feelings and issues and it has provided much insight.  It works as well with clients as it does with personal readings.

I would also like to suggest that if you have a youngster who is interested in tarot cards and readings, that this would make a perfect first deck.  As our children watch us using the cards, they will also want to explore the path with you, as all children look to their parents for guidance.  This deck is so perfect for the younger apprentice that I couldn't think of any deck more perfect for the "almost teenager" or the "First Deck" gifting.

If you are looking for something that is perfect for a holiday gift, or someone just starting, or the "first deck" give this deck a viewing and see if you don't agree this could be the deck for you.

 

The Whimsical Tarot Book

by Dorothy Morrison

 

This book accompanies the Whimsical Tarot Deck.  While there is supposed to be a gift box set, I have only seen the book and decks sold separately and when I purchased the deck, I also purchased the book.  I have reviewed the deck under it's listing.

The book's layout is easy to follow.  It begins with an introduction to the purpose and style of the cards, use and care of the deck, discussion of various layouts of tarot readings and then meanings of the cards as designed by Dorothy Morrison.  The Major Arcana is first, followed by the Minor Arcana in order and each card has a black and white graphic rendition of the card so it is easy to visualize and follow.

The discussion in the beginning of the book focuses on children reading Tarot.  This may sound surprising to some but to those of us who have our kids around us all the time, the curiosity of child is only second to how persistent they can be to know about things that attract their attention.  Ms. Morrison offers assistance in helping us introduce the tarot to our children.  From examining the cards to blessing and handling the cards, it is a basic handbook for introducing our children to simple, basic divination. In the layouts section, there are suggested layouts for use by kids, and it is grouped by ages, from very simple one card readings to more complex spreads for the experienced older child.

There may be questions as to the card's subject.  If we are not familiar with all the fairy tales that Ms. Morrison has included in this deck, this book will help you out with that.  For example, the Queen of Rods, while looking very queenly, is actually Cinderella.  If you look her up in the book, the association is clearly laid out. "No matter how dire her circumstances or how horrible her treatment, she never let it get her down.  She just kept on working, kept on smiling, and kept on with the business of living.  In the end, she prevailed and won her heart's desire:  a charming prince with a gentle heart, a fast horse, and all the love she could ask."

Ms. Morrison is very clear in her meanings; nothing is hidden and nothing is  left open and mysterious.  This is the plain English Ms. Morrison we know and love.  She even gives details of how she designed the cards.  To continue "Dressed in the yellow and green of creative growth, the Queen of Rods is the eternal cheerleader.  She loves everyone and everything."  While this is very insightful for the reader, it also gives us insight into how Ms. Morrison is guiding us along as we search for answers in our own lives.  Very clear, very easy to understand and so insightful, this handbook is a guide as well as a companion to using the deck.

She also offers some advice and insights into what this card may mean if it shows up in your readings.  Again, referencing the Queen of Cups, Cinderella:  "When the Queen of Cups graces your spread, it's time to look at life with a loving eye."  Further down, she adds "Remember that love is a gentle, kind, and nurturing emotion that carries with it many responsibilities."  She goes into what she means by this and you are left with much food for thought as to how it can reflect in your own life.

The book is the signpost to be used with the deck which presents the road as we are walking down it today.  These roads change as we make decisions which affect our future.  When we use these tools, we look for ones that we can relate to, that can be easily interpreted by us and also provide some enjoyment when we use them. 

There is a small bibliography in the back of the book, and a good table of contents, but this book is good on it's own for ease of use.  I believe Ms. Morrison has provided us with a great companion book to her delightful deck as well as solid advice and practices if we wish to introduce our children to the basics of tarot.

 

Teenage Witch's Book of Shadows

by Anna De Benzelle and Mary Neasham

 

A "Book of Shadows" is a handbook by a witch of her learnings, experiences and spells.  From the beginning of Wicca, these handbooks have been hand written, passed on from teacher to student, and expanded by the individual as they grow and mature in their own paths.

Anna de Benzelle and Mary Neashman are from the Suffolk park of England, and this book reflects the traditional English way of addressing "The Old Ways" as well as having some truly English words being used that may send some of us looking them up.

However, that is not detrimental to this book in any way.  This book is a basic overview of witchcraft that is meant for the teenage audience.  There is nothing in this book that is explored very deep or specific to any one path here.  It is a thin book of only 94 pages.  However, this can be very good for the starting teen that has some interest and is looking for a very general overview.  This also can be a useful overview for anyone who is not looking to walk the witchcraft path but is looking at what it is, like a parent of a teenager who is interested in this path.

The book starts with a general introduction to witchcraft.  Please keep in mind this book is written by British authors and the material is definitely of the older British traditions.  But it is still good, basic information. 

The book then goes into what I believe is a really well thought out and very well developed "13 Steps to Becoming a Witch" which is geared towards the youthful teenage practitioner.  Very self empowering, very positive in it's message and just a wonderfully worked out grouping of ideas and ideals to strive for as you walk the earth based spirituality path.  It is chock full of good advices, common sense and words of wisdom.  Under "Self Respect" we have "It is very important to like yourself as a witch."  Under "Traditions" we have "Explore traditions.  Have a good hard look at all the many pagan paths that are open to you".  And under "Essentials (Kit)" we have "Listen very carefully:  you need nothings.  Now read that again.  You might however like the idea of acquiring some tools."  These thirteen ideas are a good basic primer for any teen, or adult for that matter, looking at any kind of path in the pagan traditions.

The topics covered lightly in the rest of the book range from the Sabats, Moon Magic, color correspondence tables, candle magic, spells, incense, trees, sacred places, The Green Man (specific and special to the authors and they cover him here as a God figure), Faerie Magic, a section on Ritual eating and drinking (some very good advice on drinking in general aimed at the teen practitioner) divination including tarot, crystals, and Ancient British Festivals.  The last section is a collection of pagan information website URL's (some of them are gone as this book was written in 2001) and a list of suggested reading.

All these topics are skimmed over briefly, and this may not seem substantial to the teen practitioner who wants to seriously pursue this path.  But to the beginning teen, this may be all they need to get a good rounded out idea of what the pagan path is all about, and it will definitely help mom and dad understand what their teenager is looking at.

The British take on the material provided will also appeal to the British and Australian teen reader, and it will give a good rounded background to the American teen as well. 

This is a fine little introduction to the pagan path for the curious.  It would not make a good reference book to anyone taking this path as a serious life calling, but sometimes basic information is all we need. 

 

Yule

by Dorothy Morrison

 

This book, published in 2000, is a look at the holiday of Yule, as a celebration of the Sun God, the return of Light and the joyous celebration we have come to know today.

Ms. Morrison starts out by presenting us with the origins of Sun-welcoming from its days in ancient Egypt as the festival of Horus and moves us through time to present day celebrations of light.  Included in this are brief descriptions of the origins of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Yule, all which honor in some fashion the return of the days of light and/or the aspect of God.  This is not a study of the origins of Yule or Christmas, but an observation of the commonality of the various holidays that cluster around the Winter Solstice.  There is also a brief overview of how many other countries celebrate this time of year when the God is honored and/or the change in the season is celebrated.

The rest of the book covers these celebrations, with discussions ranging from omens and superstitions, to food and drink, to crafts and gifts that make this season special.  

We look at lore regarding animals, monsters, food and gifts, the traditions of hanging stockings over the fireplace and those wonderful weather words of wisdom to mention a few. There is also Yule trivia and facts.

The second part of the book gives us the crafts, recipes and Dorothy's wonderful spellworkings that help to celebrate this time of year.  She covers preparation for the holiday, decorating ideas and traditions, a little history/mythtory about the obligatory tree and it's decorating and some ideas for holiday cards.

Then there is the "Gifting, Feasting and Festing" which includes ideas for home made gifts (bath salts to potted plants), party preparations and unique ideas (from setting up the guest list to planning party games) and, of course, the food.  And many are graced with some ideas of how to make each "magically special" with Dorothy's well known spellworkings.  Make birdbaths with terra cotta flower pots and add a special spell for the birds to safely enjoy them.  Make a "floating holiday centerpiece" with candles, a punch bowl and assorted items and include a holiday blessing for all those who will sit at the table.  These are but a few of the delightful items included in this book for your holiday pleasure.

The book is easy to read and use.  There are illustrations that make this book a celebration in print, not to mention the stellar cover art all by Kate Thomsson.  And, of course, what would this book be without Dorothy's wonderful recipes and words of wisdom.

This book is not about the origins of or any one particular holiday nor is it about any specific path.  This book is a celebration of a season.  It presents us with many traditions, many ideas and a really good reason to have a darn good time during a season when we take the time to relax, enjoy our good friends and family and need to feel the warmth of companionship on cold winter nights.

 

Earth Divination Earth Magic

by John Michael Greer

 

Since I'm both a fan of Greer and of Geomancy, I have to say I really enjoyed this book. For most of you not in the know, Geomancy is a form of divination that came from the Arabic countries and was first talked about in Peter de Abano's "Heptameron" which is often attributed to Henry Cornelius Agrippa who compiled the mammoth work "Three Books of Occult Philosophy".

Geomancy is related to the "Earth". It was traditionally used by drawing a box in the sand or loosely tilled soil with a stick. Then the diviner would focus on the question and make random stabs with the stick inside the box. Depending on if the total stabs was an even or odd number, a Geomantic figure was being created using a series of four lines of dots. And this same procedure would continue fifteen more times until a total of sixteen rows of dots had been tallied. If you think THAT's tough, then the manner in which the Geromantic characters are made will baffle you.

The first sixteen lines were split into groups of four and thus you had the Four Mothers. Then you took the top line of dots of each Mother in order & from that you get the Four Daughters. Then you add the Daughters to get the Nephews. (Still with me?) THEN you add the Nephews to get the Right and Left Witnesses. Finally you add the Witnesses together and you got the Judge.

Actually once you've created the dots and all the figures two or three different times, it becomes rather simple to remember how. Complicated? Yes. Easy to do? Yes with repetition. The tricky part is how you apply the Geomantic figures to the Medieval Astrology chart. This is a square chart where you take each figure and place it according to the outline in the book. This is standard procedure and it too becomes rather easy after five or six times of making a chart.

Now you might ask, "Well if the Judge is the final outcome, why go to the bother of putting the figures in specific houses of the chart?" Because thru the use of Astrology and it's Aspects (squars, conunctions, oppositions, trines, sextiles, etc.) you can gain a LOT of useful information about the question and questioner that you may otherwise overlook.

Actually Geomancy is a LOT easier to use and learn than the standard 78 Tarot cards! There's only sixteen standard Geomantic figures too. Plus the fact Geomancy is related to one particular element and all it governs: Earth. This includes careers, employment, physical health, home, love, real estate & land holdings, wealth, money, jewels, fame and fortune, etc. These areas are governed by the Gnomes of whom Ghob is the Elemental King.

So why haven't people made more use of this system? Well the complexity for one thing. It's quite daunting at first but if you persevere, you'll see it's quite easily used. Unfortunately however this form of divination does take time to perform thus it does not lend itself so easily for those who'd like to use it at a Psychic Fair.

Greer offers some tips on making the castings quicker but he really shines when he shows you how to construct a box with a lid to put in sand or loose crumbled dirt for your divination. Plus he offers you some excellent ideas for using Geomancy together with Magical workings.

I've read almost all of the books dealing with Geomancy over the years and I have to give credit to Greer for making this book easily readable and quite usable. I rate this book five stars on a five star scale for it's treatment of a particularly confusing subject and the versatility of the subject matter for other things aside from divination. It does include a pretty decent bibliography as well as a handy index which is always helpful.

Review by Moloch for TWPT

 

Magical Pathworking

by Nick Farrell

 

While I'm not an overt fan of "pathworking", I have to say it does have its objective uses. Typically I've found pathworkings to do little on the physical or Astral planes regardless of which author is claiming otherwise. Pathworking is a fancy name given to a guided meditation. The main difference is that a pathworking is usually constructed along Qabalistic lines of thought and uses more often than not Hermetic symbols whereas a guided meditation can be a simple affair to get you to realize you snore in bed.

From an inner psychology aspect, the usage and implementation of a well executed pathworking can help you to acknowledge misplaced feelings and to challenge your own fears and phobias. This is done by objectively linking the fear or phobia to a symbol and then learning to deal with the symbol's energy or using Alchemy to transmute it into something more constructive in your mind.

This artform is nothing knew as Dion Fortune's crew have used pathworking as a main focus since the beginning of the 20th century. Others such as Dolores Ashcrowft-Nowicki have authored books on the subject as well and these would make good reading in addition to Farrell's book if you're of the notion to explore this time honored practice yourself.

In all fairness I should clarify that what you experience on the inside landscape of your mind's pathworking can alter your perceptions and insights on the outside. It's just that a normal pathworking event will not alter a dignitary's way of thinking just because you imagine it so. That would involve you having to do a ritual/spell and empowering it in some way. Still if you sufficiently alter your own psyche strongly enough, you'll find plenty of changes on the outside of yourself for you to experience.

Farrell offers a simple but fun experiment he calls "The Five Dollar Experiment" on page 21. It's a variation on his "Basic Visualization" lesson from the previous page. He's giving you advice on how to manifest $5 from an unexpected source to prove to you this works. After you've mastered this, he offers a technique taught to him by David Goddard and it is to help you from ever having to be in financial need again. Well thought of advice! One of the things I like about Farrell is that he's not ashamed to tell you that he learned a technique or idea from someone else to which he gives credit. THAT is rare in an author these days!

Then Farrell offers you some practical advice on building your own inner kingdom. This is a terrific idea as it can be a springboard for a variety of creative ideas during your life. And these don't have to be all "metaphysically" oriented either. One can certainly use their inner kingdom to bounce ideas off of such as talking to other dignitaries or intelligent magical beasts for advice. In the new age circles, there has been the art of creating a magical laboratory where you go to shut out the world to give yourself some time to think, plan and get your creative juices flowing. Farrell gives you much the same and offers plenty of advice on creating this inner world for you to romp around in at your leisure or when you absolutely MUST have an answer.

Another great chapter in this book that I highly recommend you read several times over is how to use your imagination to change your psyche. While it's true that's the fundamental focus of the whole book, here Farrell points out in specific detail an outline of steps on using your psyche to make majore changes in your life. He even discusses using this technique for helping someone who's been abused all their life. While not a panacea per se, this section can have life altering affects. However Farrell is wise to point out that no pathworking is completely 100% safe and especially where those involve altering your perceptual patterns to such a degree.

All in all, I have to rate this book a four star manual. It's offering a lot even though it's coming from an ultra reserved esoteric order-ish background. Of course there's a bibliography and unfortunately no index. Thus make sure you have your highlighter and Post-It-Notes handy so you can mark those particulars that you find helpful for later finding.

Review by Moloch for TWPT

 

Corporate Magick

by Bob Johnson

 

Dare I say this is a practical book on Magic that *gasps* that does not devote a section to Karma??? I can hear the fluffy bunnies exploding all over the place. Be that as it may, Bob Johnson offers some fine advice in this work.

While a couple of parts are hokey, such as the "Corporate Magick Cabal - a group of magicians, psychics, and experts who will be telepathically connected to the readers of this book twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to bolster spells and help with all types of magick." That is mere hyperbole and a confidence booster.

That aside, the book is well done in its own right. He offers you practical spells from various traditions such as Wicca, Santeria, Voodou, as well as Magically oriented advice using Astrology and Qabala. Frankly I don't think the author has practiced the religions of Santeria or Voodou, rather he offers cases of people from those religious beliefs and how they chose to conquer a challenge using what they knew from their faith.

For those of you who're Magically challenged, there's a primer in chapter 2. Chapter 4 discusses talismans and the use of your everyday tools at work for Magical results. Some of his herbal knowledge in chapter 9 seems to have come from a variety of sources. Where he got Lovage to use in Sales is beyond me. Possibly the idea is to induce an agreeable personality to the prospect and thus gaining stronger rapport? However his use of Devil's Shoestring Root for employment is spot on as this is a southern Rootworker remedy.

My favorite chapter is number 8 about the practical use of the Qabala (or "Kabbalah" as the author spells it). Typically in books dealing with this deeply mystical subject, far too often the practical aspect of it is overlooked in favor of reserving it solely for the use of Spiritual aims. That's all well and good if you're a heir to a throne or receiver of some large endowment being given to you or a trust fund baby. However for the rest of us, we gotta work and eke out a living and it's no one's business to tell us if we can make use of a Spiritual discipline for our own personal needs and wants.

Johnson does not go into great depth in any chapter of the book. Frankly I feel he offers the right amount of theory which is just enough for a basic understanding. Then he gives you scenarios to consider and even offers up "case studies" for you to read and digest. Then of course, there's the spells and rites that make up the rest of the book. The meat of it that offers you some ideas on how to deal with difficult situations at work and out in the field.

Nothing is really underhanded or manipulative in here so don't presume it's all about climbing the corporate ladder while stomping on toes and fingers of other climbers. Rather Johnson seems to allow the mature reader the opportunity to judge what to use and when to use it rather than giving tired old platitudes of "thou shouldn't..."

The book includes a nice bibliography of the typical new age authors out there - ho hum. And it also offers a pretty decent index to help you find those passages that caught your eye earlier when you couldn't find your highlighter. My copy was obtained at a rate of fourteen dollars and ninety-five cents and I rate it a full 5 stars due to its overall completeness. Again it is mainly targeted for those in the world of business but you could adapt some of the spells and ideas into your own personal practice without much difficulty.

Review by Moloch for TWPT

 

Making Talismans

by Nick Farrell

 

Gotta tell ya, if you enjoy crafting Magical items and talismans just happen to be one of them, then you'll want to get this book.

While I have been recently delving back into the pre-Rennaissance talisman making processes, I have to say I have great respect for the author of this work. Why? Well first off he's innovative. At least as for what he's penned in his book and where he obtained that knowledge, I can't say for certain. He's a member of the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn (EOGD), the Society of Light (SOL) and Builders of the Adytum (BOTA). Thus he could have picked up varying levels of techniques from many sources and teachers and then again he may have invented much that is new.

One thing I highly dislike about Llewellyn authors is their need to always have to go back to the beginning. Chapter two is about "A Brief History of Talismans" - brief my eye! That lasted from page 13 all the way to page 44! Ugh! Just what everyone wants to learn, history lessons from yet "another" Llewellyn book author. Then his chapter three is "Names of Power" and we get more of that until page 60! You see, if Llewellyn wasn't worried about page count, they could trim off 36 pages!

The next chapter delves into something a little more meaty and that's "Neo-Pagan Talismans". Talk about something you just don't see everyday listed in a table of contents! And this is a terrific chapter up until Mr. Farrell get's to page 73 where he starts in with his own version of how the Gods from various pantheons line up to each of the seven major planets. Sorry folks but if you're just using it as a basis for talisman making, then fine adopt it but do NOT think that the Egyptian deity Ra equates exactly with the Greek Apollo or Norwegian Frey. This is typical new age author shoddy information giving! Each God/dess must be studied in its entirety and weighed on its own merits.

There are aspects between these three Gods that more than likely would cause them to openly war with one another should you introduce them. So just because they share a single planetary rulership does not mean they're exactly alike. If you doubt me, then do some research on your own and learn about the Gods from other non-Occult sources.

Chapter Five is weak because it's on "Angels and Talismans" and frankly most of the offered information here can be found most anywhere else in Ritual Magic literature.

Chapter Six is called "Snaring the Power of the Planets" and it too is somewhat weak. He does show you how to plot the seals of the Spirits and Intelligences of the Planets on the Magic Squares that belong to each Planetary power. If you've never seen this before, you may want to read that chapter pretty heavily. The last thing in this chapter is *yawn* Planetary Hours - again found in hundreds of other books too.

Chapters Seven and Eight are well worth your time to read. Here he gets into color and coloring thoughtforms. The section of Flashing Tablets should be read but again this information can be found in any number of other texts on Ritual Magic. Eight gets into drawing the talisman and here he really shines! He discusses shapes as well as new ideas such as layering the talisman and using the lightning bolt from the Four Worlds. Plus he offers up some traditional symbology you can make use of for your own talisman.

Finally chapter Nine is about "Consecrating the Talisman" and it's standard Ritual Magic procedure though with a couple of fine twists to it. And Chapter ten is all about how to determine if your talisman is indeed working!

Review by Moloch for TWPT

 

Practice of Magic

by Draja Mikaharic

 

What a gem! If you have not read this introductory book on practical Occultism, let me tell you to run out and buy a copy NOW!

Mikaharic is one of those unsung heroes in the Occult who has not only successfully practiced what he preaches but also has developed his own system of practical Occultism (like yours truly!;o)  Unlike a lot of the authors out there who play follow-the-follower when it comes to writing about Occultism be it Witchcraft, Vodu, Ritual Magic, etc., Mikaharic does his own researches, formulates his theory, tests his theory and then doing this over and over again after which THEN tells you what actually works.

Born in rural Bosnia prior to WWI, Mikaharic he immigrated to the US in the late 30s and made his living practicing Occultism and passing himself off as a "witchdoctor".

The book covers many subjects from Religious Ritual to learning Natural Magic and much in between. Ritual and Ceremonial Magic, Elemental Magic, Candle Magic, etc. However you may ho-hum the book and say "Been there, read that!" and probably you have. Yet the author gives personal anecdotes and experiences that are typically NOT found in your average "new age practitioners" book that you spent 1 to 2 times the amount of money to get. (My copy retailed for only nine dollars and ninety-five cents).

The exercises while basic in content and form offer some truly unique results if the dedicant perseveres enough. He even relates how his first teacher admonished him after he sent Mikaharic away with the command to practice the art of relaxation. After four months of diligent practice, Mikaharic went back to his teacher only to discover he had not mastered this subtle but necessary art fully. Thus he was told to not come back until he had done so. After another six months of diligent practice, he was ready to continue.

There are other exercises sprinkled throughout the book that you can make use of after you've practiced and mastered them. Under the chapter on Deific Magic, the author discusses the forces at present in the objective universe and how many devotees of magico-religious systems learn to grow under the tutelege and guidance of such powers.

There is a nice Bibliography and a worthwhile Index for you to use. If you know of a beginner who really wants to do it the right way, THIS is one of the better primers you'll be able to lead them too. It should be required reading in all covens, lodges and temples regardless of the path. I have recommended it to my students in my Sorcery tradition as well. And yes I practice the exercises dutifully.

I rate this work 5 stars as it is complete, touches on a wide variety of topics and is not preachy but guiding. The author has chutzpah and practices what he preaches. He's also the author of two other essential books that you may want to look up and obtain as well.

Review by Moloch for TWPT

  

Ceremonial Magic

by Joseph C. Lisiewski, Ph.D

 

This book has been causing a much needed rift among the practitioners of the Ritual Magic community that in reality is a long time coming. The premise of the book is that the Spirits listed in the old grimoires are not "parts of your brain" as the frustrated- psychologists-come-magicians would have you believe, but rather independent beings of great power and thought. Now I have sided with the latter argument for some years now maintaining that these Spirits want and need interaction with us as much as the help we want and need from them. Though I part company with the author in several places in his book. Oh and FYI, this is a book about manifesting the Spirit to VISIBLE appearance right dead in front of you!

First off Lisiewski feels it's necessary to put that "Ph.D" right out in front there as if it's a badge to impress you with. His doctorate is in the field of physics and it is interesting that a scientific physicist practices the art of summoning demons and devils from the underworld. Another thing I disliked is his constant name dropping of his "teacher" - from his descriptions of their contact, it seems they were phone acqaintances more so than an eye-to-eye student-teacher relationship - the late Dr. Francis Israel Regardie. (If you don't know who HE is, then use a search engine and look him up!) Joe seems to find it necessary to link himself to Regardie early on probably to establish in your mind that he's got some lineage or validity behind him. Then he brings out that he was a student of the late Frater Albertus who was not only a Ritual Magician but also had a course in Alchemy that Lisiewski claims to have taken.

Lisiewski does a fine job of explaining that the roots of real Hermetic Occultism does not belong to the Golden Dawn as so many have believed but rather to older sources which have been recently (last 50 years) revealed thru Greek papyrii. Lisiewski does his damndest to take cat-o-nine-tails to the modern New Age authors - which he doesn't name but you're sure he's talking about Poke Runyon, Don Kraig, Nelson White, Konstantinos, William Gray, Dion Fortune, etc. - for their ill conceived notion that the Spirits of the infamous grimoires are nothing more than aspects of our own subconscious minds.

Now in all fairness, Lisiewski does mention on pages 87 & 88 where he asks if there is a psychological basis related to the Spirits from the grimoires and if by transferring this subjective basis from the mind of the practitioner to the magic triangle, ordering it to behave and then re-assimilating, is the practitioner doing some self-psycho-analyzing. Lisiewksi states "I don't know". And it appears he and Regardie (a trained psychiatrist)

had words on more than one occasion about this very subject and that they disagreed. He goes on to say that by viewing the Spirits as objective Entities, it is from a purely pragmatic point-of-view. I agree.

Now as a practitioner of Sorcery who has successfully practiced the art of Evocation since 1988, I take umbrance with the author on two very important issues he raises.

First off is found in his "10 Axions for Success and Survival" - which the word "survival" I found to be little more than trite sounding. In Axiom number 9 where he admonishes you bt saying

"Do not to reject the religion in which you were raised as, nor the commonsense found in what religionists call The Commandments of God. The use of these precepts is crucial in devising an effective subjective synthesis and producing a corresponding coherent, integrate subconscious belief system. It is also the one fundamental axiom every Practitioner of magic rigourously avoids, which accounts for more magical failure than is realized."

I feel his use of the word "reject" is incorrect, rather he should say "despise" as rejecting something and despising it are two totally different views and there is nothing wrong with rejecting your childhood belief system however it's all well and good to not despise it. In essence, don't blame the Buddha, Yahweh, Jesus, Mohammed or any other Deity for your parent's and culture's screwups. The old adage "Jesus save me from your followers" gives rise to this idea.

The next bone of contention I have with this otherwise very worthwhile book is how the author speaks with a forked tongue. On one hand he's telling you that to get the results you want, you must follow the grimoire to the letter and he uses the Heptameron as an example because it requires the fewest amount of implements, tools, sacrifices, and etc. He makes it very clear that you cannot expect to get something for nothing and really takes the New Age Magicians to task for this aspect!

THEN he explains how he gets the Spirit to do his bidding. In essence he fills his head with the power of "God" thru invocation and wrestles control with the Spirit itself. Why wrestle you ask? Well because he believes these Spirits are antagonistic toward him and don't really want to do anything to help him. Once control is maintained, then he charges the entity to do his bidding. The charge has to be worded almost like a court approved legal contract lest the Spirit find some loophole in it and screws him over.

But what is Lisiewski really telling you here? Yes, that he acts like a bully and forces the Spirit to do his bidding without any hope of reward! Now if this atittude was prevalent among Paleros or Santeros in the African Traditional Religions, they'd get Jack Squat for results and abused & slapped around by the Orishas and Nganga Spirits for such insensitive greed.

Here Lisiewski telling you that you can get something for nothing. He offers the Spirit NOTHING as compensation for helping him. Then he goes on to discuss - at boring length - his viewpoints on the dreaded "slingshot effect" and how to avoid it. This is totally unnecessary IF the practitioner asks the Spirit what sort of reward it would like for its services from the get-go. Obviously he never read the classic grimoire "Le Dragon Rouge" because in it the practitioner summons Lucifuge Rofocale & then barters/ negotiates with the Spirit for its help.

In the latter half of the book, he takes you thru the Heptameron grimoire and discusses what you'll need and how to get ready for the event. In this he is superb. His notes are well done and his thought processes are clearly understood.

Frustratingly there is no index and that seems to be a common trait for New Falcon publications. The Bibliography is good and concise. Over all the book is recommended if you're versed in this type of practice. I wouldn't recommend it to a beginner though. I obtained it from Amazon for sixteen dollars and ninety-five cents cover price. I give it four out of five stars.

Review by Moloch for TWPT

 

Creating Magickal Entities

by David Michael Cunningham with contributions from Taylor Ellwood & Amanda R. Wagener

 

I received my copy of this work when I purchased it in conjunction with another text on Evocational Magic. It's an easy read and frankly way too basic for my taste however I'll give you my standard Pros & Cons.

First off the cover is interesting. I like it. A Spirit is emerging thru a sigil and thus gives you an idea of what to expect inside. However don't judge a book by its cover. In typical New Age fasion, the three authors offer up a cook-book styled manual on the creation of thought-forms. The book is not easy to follow along as I would have liked it to be.

In the Disclaimer, the authors state: "It is not the purpose of this book to reprint all the information that is otheriwse available to readers but to compliment, amplify and supplement other texts." They go on to recommend the listings in the bibliography which include your standard New Age texts by Konstantinos, Kraig, LaVey, the Pajeons, etc., and throw in some Phil Hine and Stephen Mace for Chaos Magic and Voila! you have the gist of their text.

So why do I label this yet another "New Age" work? Pages 27 thru 31 is all about Karma, Cause and Effect, yadda-yadda-yadda. Oy vay can we give it a rest all ready? Hunh?

Most of the book was boring to me. Why? The writing failed to hold my interest and the depth of the subject matter just did not meet my requirements. The authors seem to cover the basics as found in the other texts they so try to not do. I had hoped in the chapter entitled "Feeding Time" that they'd have offered up some new and unique ideas on how to feed your entities. Alas my hopes were dashed. Then the chapter on Housing for the entity had a couple of ideas I thought were good but nothing really mind jolting. So what's the most interesting part of the book? In the appendices where the case studies are to be found.

In all fairness, if you're truly new to the Occult scene and know Diddly-Squat about creating entities such as this, then this book would be an acceptable primer though there are many other resources out there that go into much greater depth than here.

Finally the book includes a nice index and how to contact the authors themselves. The publishing company is based out of Perrysburg, Ohio and I find it ironic that I've lived here for since 1991 and haven't heard of this publisher prior to this book.

I obtained it at sixteen dollars & ninety-five cents and since I ordered it by mail thru Amazon, shame on me if I feel the book is highly over-priced. It really could sell better for nine dollars and ninety-five cents but this new publishing house obviously wants to cash in on the current trend to sell mildly entertaining esoteric works for far more than they are worth to the intermediate or experienced practitioners ignorant enough to pay their asking price. Wait til you find it in the close-out bins at B&N or some other discount bookstore.

I rate it two out of five stars. If you're experienced in this form of Magic, then skip this book entirely.

Review by Moloch for TWPT

 

Polarity Magic

by Wendy Berg and
Mike Harris

 

Ye Gods! What a hard road the first half of this book was to get thru! Why is it every British Occultist of the "Western Mystery Tradition" has to bore us with their lineage whether it's back to Crowley, A.O.Spare, S. L. McGregor Mathers or as in this case, Dion Fortune? What should have tipped me off from the get-go was the fact that they are students of that pompous windbag Gareth Knight.

Frankly I had hoped the book would be better than what I found it to be and that's an over-rated, pompous b-o-r-i-n-g! I hate trashing another author's book but damnit why do so many make it so easy too? Do we need yet another book that has to take a huge portion of the book to discuss Egyptian pantheons, myths, religions, etc.? Pages 29 thru 57 was somewhat tolerable but when you hit pages 59 and read thru 134 about Qabala, Judaism, Yahweh, the Torah, Menorahs, Tabernacles, you get the edgy deja vu feeling of "been here, read that".

Even the section on the Celtic myths was way to anal-yzed for my taste. Why is it Western Esoteric Magicians seem to have to over-anal-yze every myth, symbol and detail? Perhaps they're frustrated psychologists who couldn't hack it in the university environment? I dunno but it's irritating to spend hard earned money for more of this "Magic-is-all-psychology-and-here's-our-take-on-the-subject" crapola. Nothing new here in that respect, folks.

The book's premise is the "creative use of Myths coupled with the Polarity aspect of priesthood and sexuality". Wow. That's no secret tradition I know of. Sexuality is a large part and parcel of every religion, philosophy and creed out there since the day people became aware that procreation caused pregnancies not Spirits.

The practical section starts off with the discussion of sexual partners working thru the myths and rites together. It's quite factual and gives you some things to consider. What the authors are trying to do with much verbosity is blend the Hermetic and Orphic pillars of the Qabalistic Tree of Life. The left hand pillar (path) is the Hermetic and that is one of study and disciplined ritual whereas the right hand pillar (path) is the Orphic and is where creative drama and ecstasy is found. Either side can take you to Kether but the authors seem to want to blend both sides together while delving into rites based on myths.

There's a complete index and full bibliography with the token names in Occultism listed. The endnotes really didn't help me much (but in all fairness I fought boredom to finish the book!) The asking price is typical Llewellyn fare at nineteen dollars and ninety-five cents. I rate it two out of five stars. Look elsewhere folks.

Review by Moloch for TWPT

 

Portable Voodoo

by Voodoo Lou

 

For some odd reason I found this book in the New Age section at my local B n' N store but after reading it, I plan on telling the manager they need to stick this thing under the section of "Humor" because you simply cannot take this literally.

Okay so why did I buy it? First it was in the New Age section and I was rushing on my lunch break to find something interesting to read. Second, it's printed and prettily illustrated. Third it sort of reminds me of the "Dr. Snake Voodoo Spells" book which itself isn't great but not all that bad either. And finally, there is a "voodoo doll" that's set into the front cover thus the concept of "portable" voodoo.

After I began reading it at home is when I realized this is a farce. The author, Voodoo Lou aka Lou Harry, is more of a third rate hack comedian who's trying to ca$h in on the name of a Haitian magico-religion than anything. For the record let me say that the book is nicely put together. No qualms about that. It also includes a small package of "magical spell pins" (pause for the low Oohs and Aahs) inside a little packet just inside the front cover. Now I thought that was cute but come on really now. Lol

The spells inside can't be taken seriously either. They're written much like someone who's pulling your leg would tell you how they practice. The artwork is pretty but that's the only saving grace in the book outside of Lou's blatant humor.

If you're looking to learn, save your money and look elsewhere. The price I paid twelve dollars & ninety-five cents and that was horribly disappointing. However if you're looking for a gag-gift, this book is pretty cute and that's the best rating it'll ever get! If you wanna get rid of the idiot that keeps nagging you to teach him something about Vodu then you can give him this book and perhaps he'll merrily go off sticking the pins into the front of this book harming nobody.

Overall the book's humor is worth three stars but since I found it listed in the New Age section and it's intended to be amongst the serious books, I rate it one star. Sorry Lou but try writing something a little more substantial without the tongue in cheek approach and maybe it'll fare better next time.

Review by Moloch for TWPT

 

Circles of Power

by John Michael Greer

 

Probably Greer's best work to date. I have to say I'm a fan of Greer's even though I have disliked a couple of his other works but this book should be read and studied by those who're interested in working ritual magic. I say should be because every ceremonial magical text is generally suggested to be obtained and read by the novice if you take a look at the average website on this topic. Sadly though many of those sites don't mention this book and I'm not sure why.

The book is from a straightforward Golden Dawn approach to the Western Mystery Tradition & ritual magic. Oh I hear the groans now but let me say that the rites are pared down to their core and stripped of all that ballyhoo traditionally associated with the G.: D.: material! That alone is worth the time to read thru this manual. Also like Kraig's

"Modern Magick", "Circles of Power" is intended to be a manual used by the solitary practitioner though it can be adapted easily enough for group workings.

Is there anything in here that's not covered elsewhere? Not really and yet he does touch on some interesting aspects regarding the Telesmatic Imagery techniques usually only mentioned in other works. Also he does a nice job of explaining the rituals and why they're used instead of just saying "practice this three times a day for the next two years" and leave it at that.

One of the best things about this book is the simple language the author uses to express his views and understanding of the subject which in most cases one has to really struggle at first to get the gist of. Not so here. For instance, on page 109 under the heading of "Contemplation" Greer writes: "The central factor in contemplation, and the only aspect of it that can be called a 'technique' at all, is bare intention." Nicely said. Now if you read Israel Regardie's book on the Golden Dawn, it's not written as simply as that. Why? The style evoked by Regardie - and sadly other ceremonial magical authors - is one of the snooty scholar. "Either keep up with me or give it up" tends to be their way of weeding out those who aren't worthy of the "many petaled lotus". For a novice student, Greer's simple language is a God-send. Had I had this book back in 1988 when I started my inquiries into Ritual Magic and G.: D.: material, I think I'd have made a lot more progress.

One thing I wasn't happy about is the lack of detailed analysis of the Sephiroth's correspondences. For instance there's no mention of the scents listed for each sephira. So if you had only this book at your disposal, you wouldn't know that tobacco is the traditional scent used for the sephira of Geburah. I have to wonder if the author's intention was to use this book in conjunction with say Regardie's "Golden Dawn" manual.

Another oddity offered in the book is the line drawing of the magical sword. On page 206 a trident is shown but it is referred to as a sword. Why I haven't a clue. Perhaps the company made an error in line drawings, I don't know. The trident is normally used in ritual magic and is rarely mentioned outside of the Solomonic grimoires so its inclusion here leaves a mystery to be answered by the author.

In the chapter about Evocation under the heading of "Dealing With Spirits", the author provides some excellent advice on dealing with the Spirits. Pages 243-247 should be read several times before the novice runs off casting his circle of power to summon the Spirits of Riches and Wealth. Mind you Greer does not give you duck billed platitudes on ethics unlike some of the other authors on this subject, rather he gives you some good, solid, clear ideas to think about regarding dealing with the Spirits themselves.

Finally I give him five stars on this effort. This is a subject that is very difficult to digest into one simplified work as this but Greer has made some strides doing so. I highly recommend this book to all who're interested in the subjects of Ritual Magic, Evocation or the Golden Dawn.

Review by Moloch for TWPT