Bookviews Book Reviews
How Would It Feel? ~ Mary Beth Goddard - Illustrated by Anna Mycek-Wodecki
I always am surprised when I receive something from a publisher, in this case Bear & Company as Bear Cub Books, and at first glance it may be “off topic” but it turns out to be a sparkling gem that fits perfectly.
In this case the book appeared to be a children’s fantasy book. I was curious, however, because of the illustrations on the front cover. They appeared almost “magical” and, of course, I was hooked.
Mary Beth Goddard wrote this book specifically for her son, who has been plagued by ill health since birth. The book was originally a few verses that blossomed as she witnessed his strength and spirit.
The illustrations are breathtaking. Watercolors in very colorful earth based tones, they feature a little boy, in this case Ms. Goddard’s son, in some various adventures that work with the verses provided by Ms. Goddard.
While the child pictured is a boy, I found even a young girl would enjoy this book as well. I would consider this a "Read To" book, where you read the book to a young child who is not yet ready to read on their own, But I figure a first reader children will also enjoy it. I think parents will also be charmed and challenged by this book, as well as grandparents like myself.
The book is put together in two page spreads, with the verse on the left and an illustration on the right. There are some very magical borders tying each set of pages together.
The book is a journey, an adventure. And the theme of the book – very magical and very natural. From the first page that introduces the reader to the first steps of the journey, there are exciting aspects of the artwork for the child and adult to explore together. From the boat flying on a breeze, to dancing on raindrops, or traveling on rainbows, each verse suggests an adventure, each illustration offers exploration for a young mind's eye, and each concept explores an aspect of nature that is only limited by the boundaries of the parent and child’s imagination.
There is an exploration of lightning that could be a scary experience, but the images are such that the lightning has a friendly face and is holding the child comfortably. Nighttime explores the star lights in the sky as offering comfort in the guise of parental images. Gardens are seen as a place to hide and play, and the sun embraces the child in a warm and friendly manner.
The verses question the child, challenging them to fill the story with their own ideas. While the book seems short, the possible conversations between parent and child can make this an entire afternoon’s activity, encouraging conversation and quality time between parent and child. This would be a perfect book for a rainy afternoon spent in a comfy chair, where the parent and child share a seat, a book and many stories.
The book maintains a steady theme of exploration in a positive manner. The images are friendly, even when they are exploring something that might be considered scary. There is always a friendly face that could be associated with a parental figure, the child is always represented as having a good time and being kept safe and protected, yet the child is allowed to explore beyond the limits of his own living room. It is freedom yet it is secure.
The themes are from nature. It explores seasonal changes, goes from the depths of the ocean to the furthest reaches of the sky. It explores the natural world, yet it pictures everyday life such as buildings and neighborhoods, reminds the child of home, yet it also explores their home is part of an even larger place called the world.
Once the trip is done, and all the possible areas explored, the child is brought safely back to home, wrapped in a warm blanket of security in the arms of the moon, and returned safely to their bed.
Some books may tell a story and it may entertain once, maybe twice, but this book suggests there are many stories that can be explored in its pages. Each time the book is opened, there will be new aspect the child may want to explore, and new stories will be generated. Again, the only limits here are the boundaries of the imagination.
I would give an age to this book, but I was so enthralled with the material and how it works that age was not relevant to me. I do think this is a younger child’s book, pre-reading and first reader level. But I also think that it will last a little longer than that. Maybe to 7 years old, depending on the child.
I also want to comment on the quality of this book. This is hard covered, well bound, printed on quality glossy paper in beautiful color. There is also a dust jacket. The book has an introduction explaining the author’s reason for writing the book, and a note on the illustrator. The flap of the book contains some information about the author and the illustrator.
Run out and get this book for your little ones. Run out and get this book for yourself! Treat yourself to some quality time with your child, or with yourself, as you explore the never ending limits of your own imagination. See if you don’t agree with me this is a wonderful concept in children’s reading material that will delight again and again.
Reviewed by Boudica
Originally published in 1977, this little book was a gold mine of information for the new practicing crafts person back then. Anna Riva put together a little booklet of about 83 pages that collected various spells and information for less cost than any of the occult books at that time. It was a cheap source of Occult information. And while some of it is very accurate, some of it was all Anna Riva’s conclusions.
Ms. Riva put together many books like this one. You would find them on the shelves of the little Botanicas in New York City, or in the very few Occult shops at that time. Mostly you would find them advertised in the back of magazines that touched on the topic.
The book is not one that is particularly pagan, but rather covers many belief systems. None of her books are really “pagan” and not “Wiccan” either. From Christian Mysticism to Voodoo, Hoodoo and witchcraft all the material in here is from diverse backgrounds. It comes from a variety of mostly non-attributed or generally attributed sources, from various cultures and practices. Some of it is easily recognizable, some of it is obscure and some of it is Ms. Riva’s personal additions.
The back cover lists the table of contents, so the person in the bookstore can easily see what this book covers and make a purchasing decision. The book is meant to attract attention via the front cover, pique interest by the table of contents and entice the reader to buy.
But anyone purchasing this book will get more than their moneys worth. As it was then, it is still a book chock full of information that can be useful to the craft practitioner.
This book is not the usual “good spells only” books that you encounter today, but rather covers many different kinds of spell workings. The author uses the terms “good and evil”. Some of this was done to entice the buyer to purchase the book, but the truth is that spell workings walk both sides of the fence – they are both of order and of chaos. There is much truth to the old saying “A witch who can not curse can not cure.” This book works both sides to achieve a kind of balance, whether intentional or not.
I had to chuckle when I read the first page. I had this book many years back, and it got lost somewhere long the line. Knowing what I know now, and reading her “Ten Commandments for a Happy Life” I see the basic “Reiki Principles” – you know, “Just for Today” – reworked a bit and now much more interesting. Her style of writing is very basic, but sometimes her personality comes through in the material presented, and she seems to be a spunky lady.
The material offered here are the basics from which you build. Some of this information can be found in older grimoirs, some of it will be found in Religious texts. Some of it is supposition on the part of Anna Riva. There is some material in here that does not apply to everyone, and some of it may just be thrown in as filler. Depends on your own personal “Point of View”.
From Abracadabra and the Apostles’ Creed to Candle magic and poppet or doll magic, there are basic spell workings that anyone can do with a little practice. There are spells to remove “bad luck” and spells to get revenge. We have the magical properties of stones and we have ritual baths and soaps.
The book teaches you how to make “Conjure Bags” or spell bags or mojo bags, for love, luck, health, protection and hexing. It discusses the various uses of Graveyard dirt. And there is a discussion and table for “lucky days”.
There are black and white illustrations throughout the book. Some of them pertain to the topics discussed, some are very “dark and ominous” woodcuts from old texts, and these are well worth looking at. Actually, they are tidbits from older out of print texts that are incorporated into the book and only add to the mystique of the material presented.
As you read through the book, many of the items called for such items as “Fast Luck’ or “Uncrossing”, which are actually oils and cologne’s that are available at any “Occult” store or Botanica. So are coffin nails and other such items. Actually, Anna Riva has a whole line of oils, incenses and colognes that you can find on line, along with many more of her little books.
This is classic material. Some of this you will find has been worked into the Craft practices and some of it will expand and broaden your working knowledge base. Still other material may not apply to your personal path. And some of it is so much “speculation”. Yes, there are a few questionable bits, but they are obvious and are done, again, to sell the book.
This is an interesting little book, as I said, an older title, that, for the price, offers much information and is of a much broader working base than many of the other titles out there. Not for everyone, but is worth the price for those who are looking for something different.
Reviewed by Boudica
The 2-Hour Tarot Tutor ~ Wilma Carroll
I was interested in reading about another person’s approach to the Tarot, and gave this book a good looking over. There is some interesting teaching techniques here, and some that are not here. I have some very mixed feelings about this book personally.
The idea the author is examining is to be able to learn to “read Tarot Cards in two hours… without memorizing meanings!” Hmmm...
The technique is a good one. Sit down with the deck and a pad of paper, and go card by card through the deck, writing down your own impressions of the card, what you derive from the images, and use this as a basis for your readings.
There is merit to the technique, and is nothing new actually. Many teachers recommend you sit down with your deck, going through it card by card and meditating on the images and contemplating the meanings that come to your mind.
But I am not sure that this is an “instant” method as purported by the author of this book. Nor do I feel that the student would glean as much information as they could during an actual reading, had they the basics in the original and intended meaning of the cards. But those are my feelings.
I also believe that this book focuses on one deck, the Rider-Waite, and does not allow for the many other kinds of decks out there, and the interpretations of the artists and authors. Therefore, the nuances of the decks could be or are lost for the reader, again not allowing the reader to benefit from the additional information the reader could have from this valuable insight into the deck.
However, the author, to her credit, does cover the personal interpretations that a reader does have over and above the meanings of the cards. She does encourage personal insight and allows for those moments when we see "beyond" the meaning of the cards and into the situation faced by the client.
The book also includes worksheets to record your impressions and further develop your personal insights into the deck. In the back of the book the author also offers more possible meanings for the cards, on an individual card by card basis with illustrations of the Ryder-Waite deck.
Often through the book the author suggests that you do not look through the rest of the book or at certain sections of the book before you complete the first exercise, which is to set your own impressions of the cards before you read what someone else suggests. Again, I do understand what the author is trying to do, but in many cases I think the reader has already been there, done that, and is looking for an easier way to learn and probably has not already committed to memory any ideas by someone else. Don’t know if I would have gone that far but the author feels it is a necessary part of her method of reading.
There are some interesting spreads in the back of the book, some which look a bit complex for her simplified system of reading. But she also provides some basic spreads that would work well with this system.
There is also a question and answer section on the Tarot and Tarot readings. Again, there is some good information in here, and some that I would not necessarily agree with. I believe the take on this section would be very dependent on your personal belief system.
While I see the merit of this system and it’s exercises, I do not believe that this system alone would allow a person to make the most of the Tarot and all it’s many facets and enable a person to pick up this book, do the prescribed reading and exercise for two hours and be able to give accurate and exact readings for any client. I am a firm believer that the actual system does require further study and that the actual talent of the reader will be more of a factor in determining the readers success with clients. I see this technique as a point of study but not the entire learning.
But what I do believe is that this is a good tool to assist in honing your tarot skills, giving you some quality time with your deck and allowing you to focus and connect with your specific deck. It can be applied to any deck you may pick up if you forgo the pictorial in the back and focus on the actual cards you have. Read what the author and artist had in mind and go forward to examine the cards and see what they say when they “speak” to you.
I give the author points for working out a good system for personal exploration of the tarot, and for creating worksheets that you can use to record impressions. I would say that if you use these in conjunction with the intended meanings of the deck as expressed by the author and artists, you will come away with a very good overall image and understanding of that deck of cards. This is a good learning step in working with any Tarot Deck.
But it is not the only process you will need, nor will you come away from this as an expert. While it does not take so many years to learn to read with Tarot cards, there is more to it than just your impressions. And while the author does emphasize your personal talent, getting in touch with that talent is just as important as the cards and their meaning.
This is a good book on a technique, but again, not the only piece to the working and I would recommend further study in addition to this to hone your talent and become a really good Tarot Reader.
Reviewed by Boudica
The Life & Works of Marie Laveau: Gris-Gris, Cleansings, Charms, Hexes ~ Raul Canizares (Original Publications; 2001)
A nifty little chapbook that goes into the alleged history
of the famed New Orleans Voodoo Queen
Raul Canizares is initiated into Santeria, Palo and a Petro
branch of Haitian Vodu - and why he like
so many feels the need to yet go and study another system is beyond me! - but
he travels to Louisiana and ends up meeting Willie Glapion
There are some interesting gris-gris formula in the book For
instance, To Drive Someone Mad it says: "Prepare a soup using plenty of
fresh vegetables and a rat
There are some talismans in the book that are somewhat like
the veves offered in Robert Pelton's Complete Book of Voodoo and IF what Willie
Glapion says is true about copying this material from Marie's own books, then
Pelton's veves may very well be the work and result of a different non-Haitian
The book also includes a chapter on creating your own
gris-gris charms by giving lists of ingredients which are in sympathy with
particular desires such as love, lust, money, etc
All in all, I found the book to be filled with much useful
information for the practicing Sorcerer
I rate this book 5 out of 5 possible stars
Reviewed by Moloch
Book of Shadows ~ Migene Gonzalez-Wippler (Llewellyn; 2005)
This is a foray by a celebrated author of Hebrew Qabala & Santeria into the neo-Pagan world of Witchcraft. Ms. Wippler has written some handy reference books on Qabala (Kabbala For A Modern World) as well as several books on Santeria (The Santeria Experience, Rituals & Spells of Santeria, Powers of the Orishas), as well as her own version of the Sixth & Seventh Books of Moses replete with anecdotal material. Now Ms. Wippler is taking us into the murky world of Witchcraft....
Essentially you'll find the typical Llewellyn Wicca fare in the first half of the book. If you've read this once, you've read it too many times. Same old stuff, different author.
Pages 36 to 41 discuss the Moon's energy aspects while it transits the different signs of the Zodiac. This is rarely discussed in Wiccan material and is of more importance than merely stating working during a waning, waxing, new or full lunar phase. I highly recommend studying this chapter if this material is unknown to you.
Up to page 92, we're given the typical 101 Wiccan fare. But then we begin to get into part two of the book, The Book of Shadows: The Magic of Witches (spooky music interlude). Here is where the author begins to share anecdotal material. Her stories of her experiences.
The first chapter is on Familiars and it's roughly 2 & 1/2 pages long but she does share an interesting anecdote about her totem the wolf. This is what Migene is famous for - sharing her own real world stories. Something that's quite missing from 99% of the Llewellyn books. In fact this is what endeared Migene to me all these years. The first book I obtained by her was Magical Spells, Rites & Ceremonies (also a Llewellyn offering) and it contained a fascinating account of how she summoned the Archangel Raphael by using a copy of the Sixth & Seventh Books of Moses and the result which wasn't pleasant for her.
In other words, Ms. Wippler doesn't P-R-E-A-C-H; she gives her foibles along with her lessons!
On pp. 138-139, she gives incense recipes for the Zodiac signs which is rare outside of Cunningham. Kudos to the author for this inclusion as well.
On pp. 155-160, Ms. Wippler discusses the Levanah Nectar in which thru a series of recipes, she divulges Lunar lore to the reader.
Sadly the remainder of the book is watered down Wicca. Even the To Overcome An Enemy spell (*gasp!*) was quite worthless. A red candle for doing in an enemy? I can see where she gets the "passion" for her candle attributes on page 162 but if I were to use a red candle, it'd be to invoke the powers of Mars and the Spirits under the control of Mars to go to war.
She ends the book with lyrics from a song by the late Blues singer Screamin' Jay Hawkins.
I was left feeling kind of "blah" about the whole affair. I guess I expected MORE anecdotes and personal experiences as befits this author's status.
The information looks as if it could fill the spot for a 101 Novice but if you're past that stage, you may want to reserve your monies and go with several other more complete or in-depth texts on the subject.
All in all I rate this book 3 out of 5 possible stars. Again its' good for an abject Novice but for the Intermediate + students, for more meatier materials.
Reviewed by Moloch
The Master Grimoire of Magicakal Rites & Ceremonies ~ by Nathan Elkana (Finbarr Book Promotions; 1982)
Rare is the occult book you’ll find these days that offers little more than a lot of theory & ethics. In fact, most of those books get bought out quick and run into out-of-print status. For some reason, mainstream publishers insist on rehashing the same old theory & ethical diatribes that are so prevalent with mainstream publishers. Thankfully Finbarr is not of that mindset.
This is a rare text from a United Kingdom publisher who happens to focus on “chap books” - short booklets of about 40-50 pages, softcover and saddle stapled. This book is quite large and printed on fine, heavy paper. The cover hearkens back to the late 70’s when spooky photos appeared all over the place in gothic books with a lit candle in an empty wine bottle (dripping of course), a chalice of wine, a small crystal sphere on a wooden base and some Tarot cards fanned out. The back cover is a plain tan color with the single image from the solar pantacle of Shaddai from the Key of Solomon. The binding is glue the likes of which appear in all mainstream publishing because it’s cheap.
Nathan Elkana is a pseudonym for another Finbarr autor who I’m guessing is none other than Basil Crouch because Crouch owned several successful healing centers in the United Kingdom and was rumored to have his hand in some businesses over here in the United States as well. Truly Crouch was one of those Occultists who used his abilities to make himself quite wealthy. While I have no proof that Elkana was Crouch, it is a good solid guess.
The book starts off with some dark philosophy and even quotes Anton LaVey as “self-styled black pope” but this is more to help you come to terms with the fact you’re going to be summoning and controlling some very strong powers - most of which will not be the fluffy bunny type of powers. Elkana is spot on with the philosophy of the classic Finbarr book - keep it simple and straightforward and make the information practical.
In this modern day grimoire, you’ll find all sorts of rites, ceremonies and spellworks to get you to where you want to go in life. Elkana seems to have razed old Khemetic manuscripts for spells such as the “Ancient Egyptian Prosperity Rite” on pages 64 & 65, but he includes three gold candles in a triangle shape - for manifestation - and the incantation to be recited. Then in the chapter of Egyptian and Cabalstic Magic, Elkana offers the “Cabalistic Power & Domination Rite” on pages 80-81.
Elkana shifts gears and dabbles in the making of amulets and the designs appear like Magic Squars but using letters instead. These are hand drawn and are nicely done on page 86. One is for defeating enemies and the other is for protection. Like a real workbook, Elkana offers “Master Study Points” at the end of each chapter - presumably for those who’re using the book as a textbook of Magic.
The next chapter lands us smack dab in the middle of love and romance. Elkana provides some ideas on keeping your love with your partner free from outside influences. Something 99% of all mainstream New Age books totally miss. They’ll give you all sorts of recipes and what-not for trying to land that lucky guy or gal BUT fail to tell you how to keep him/her once you ensnare them. Not so here. One interesting spell on page 104 is to get a total stranger to compel themselves to talk to you. I have tried this ritual and it does indeed work. However it does go without saying that your body language SHOULD appear open and non-threatening to the other party for the spell to work.
In chapter six, Elkana offers you a whole plethora of advice on the Making of Talismans. This is an important study of this rare Occult Art. Here you’re shown various pantacles from the Key of Solomon and from The Black Pullet and instructed on their individual uses, how to make them, when to make them, how to empower them and how to use them with semi-precious stones. In fact there’s instructions on choosing your semi-precious stones included.
He then takes you thru Psychic Defense and how it’s done. There’s an awfully good ritual on pages 155-156 called the “Ancient Psychic Attack Dissolving Ceremony”. Even though I highly doubt any “ancient” dude called this ritual by this name, still it serves a useful purpose. There’s a hint of Hoodoo as you’re instructed to use a lavender candle with the incantation given and the cleansing part seems to be a bit New Age-ish BUT the rite works because I have tested it both on myself and with clients. In fact, on pages 164 & 165, Elkana includes a full scale Uncrossing ceremony that I have yet to try but it looks quite functionally accurate.
Now in chapter eight, he begins to get really esoteric on us. Here you’ll find discussion about old beliefs of invisibility & so-called magic carpets. Elkana points out that you can achieve BOTH of these objectives by learning to use your own powers of ‘Astral Projection’. He makes quite a case though what he is calling astral projection is in reality OBE - Out of Body Experience. Astral Travel has more to do with delving into your own internal universe whereas the OBE is all about stepping outside of your body and walking around, flying, spying on neighbors, etc. Each has its own merits.
Finally there’s a couple of chapters on Health & Beauty but the final chapter is most interesting. Here you’ll find the Master Techniques to triple any spell’s or ritual’s power on pages 211-213. It’s a short but concise chapter on using these techniques and why you should perform them every time. Then he ends the book with an Occult Glossary for the magician.
All in all, I found the book to be highly informative, easy to use and understand and concise without the usual preachiness found in so many modern Occult books. I rate this book five out of five possible stars. It is worth every penny you’ll spend on it. You can obtain the book at http://www.molochsorcery.com
Reviewed by Moloch
The Wealth Magick Workbook or Buddy, Can You Spare A Paradigm? ~ Dave Lee (IOT Books; 1994-2006)
First off let me begin by saying that I rarely ever read let alone review Chaos MagicK books merely because I find most of them full of psychological techniques such as NLP, repetitive information (re: sigilization, Gnosis instructions, etc.) or controlled substance related ideas. Further, many of the Chaos MagicK devotees seem (to me anyways) to fall into that crack in the cosmic egg whereby they're touched in the head to the point they make little sense. Thankfully, not all Chaotes are that far gone and Dave Lee seems to be one of the few worthwhile Chaotes to learn from.
With that said, this is a chapbook. It's saddle stapled and totals a mere 41 pages. It has a stiff cardboard cover with simple type on it. My copy's cover is hunter green and at first glance it looks very unassuming. WMW's table of contents is as follows:
Part 1: Money Magicks and this covers Money Technique 1: Discs & Desires; Money Psychology;Money Sorcery.Money Technique 2: Stalking the Money Spirit; Money Symbolism;Money Shamanism;Money Evocation.
Part 2: Wealth Magick Again with The Hierarchy of Freedom; The Cost of Money; Enchanting for Possessions; Wealth Magick Illumination and Invocation.
Part 3: The Bigger Picture and we find The Money Spirit And Economics; Wealth and Time.
Appendices 1. Discovery Writing. 2. The Percentage Budget. 3. Well Formed Outcomes. 4. A Retirement. 5. Evaluation of Wealth and Money Magick Techniques.
Lee makes an important distinction on page 2 in his Introduction where he discusses the difference between Wealth & Money. He states, "It should not have to be said that money and wealth are not the same thing. However, people both poor and rich do mix them up, so I'll say it anyway: Money does not constitute wealth." Well said, Mr. Lee. He further states, "Wealth is abundance where and when you want it....Money is a parameter, whose value is arbitrary..." If you ONLY get one thing out of this book, I would highly suggest you read this two page introduction over and over and over until you burn it into your psyche. Why? Because this is Lee's fundamental groundwork that the rest of the book falls back on. Consequently by learning these distinctions, Lee is giving you the keys to help you to be able to make ANY future money or wealth (Occult) techniques work for you.
For a mere 41 pages, there is an abundance of useful information within this little book! Lee has added various techniques from Evocation of Money to the shamanistic paradigm of Money as a Spirit that can be touched upon. Then there's the Lord Ganesha Pathworking (aka guided meditation) Lee also touches upon enchanting for possessions and this gives the practitioner an opportunity to think about something that few so-called authors of the Occult rarely ever discuss. The idea of determining how much crap you want to own in your life versus the freedom from desire to want so much. And by focusing on only those things you truly want, you can gain tremendous momentum to your efforts, not to mention the fact that by focusing on an object, you stand a much better chance of success than trying to focus on the exact amount of money to obtain it.
While stretching creativity but remaining well grounded, Dave Lee has distilled and synthesized a number of useful platitudes, attitudes and techniques that should assist any Occultist in obtaining a better lifestyle for themselves. However I'll quote Dave again from his Introduction, Why Money Magick? where he says: "The First Circuit trance is concerned with biosurvival; money is a set of tokens or that basic security." This makes perfect sense. Mazlowe's Hierarchy of Needs does indicate that at our basest instinct, survival is number one. Money helps with that.
Sadly, however, Lee recognizes that money is usually linked to our own insecurity whereas wealth is linked to our desires. He offers plenty of ideas and techniques for the layman practitioner to work his way thru and refine one's own attitudes about Wealth & Money. Personally,I can't agree more. Overcome the first major stumbling block to your own financial success by examining and editing your very own inner beliefs about Wealth & Money, because if you do not do this, all else for gaining more of these two is for naught.
Overall I found the book to be direct, to the point, and not preachy. This is truly a Sorcerer's guide to financial magics and will offer even the most advanced practitioners something new to chew upon. I highly recommend this book for you to get, study and practice. In fact, I've begun my own course of action using Dave's methods in here for my own wealth management program.
I rate this book five out of five possible stars.
Reviewed by Moloch
Finally, a Western Ceremonial Magical text from Llewellyn that delivers! Well all I can say is "It's about damn time!"
Aaron Leitch, aka Khephra, is a practitioner of grimoiric Sorcery as outlined in the Book of Abramelin the Mage, Key of Solomon, Lemegeton and others. I first learned of Aaron from a friend who suggested I visit Khephra's website. There I discovered a young lad who was keen on digging into the old books to learn how they did it back then. I discovered his more inner musings on various Occult lists on the Net and struck up an acquaintance with him. His significant other is a practitioner of the African Traditional Religions and this has helped Aaron learn more about how Medieval practitioners may have conducted themselves.
The book itself is not your typical Llewellyn fare. Unlike many of their CM authors, Llewellyn allowed Aaron to put forth his hypothesis concerning the true nature of many of the classical texts of Sorcery such as mentioned in the previous paragraph. While this text is scholarly, let it be known that it's not coming purely from an academic's point-of-view for Aaron is an admitted Occultist. He has performed the six month long rite of Abramelin as outlined in that Medieval text. Further he has created pantacles found in the Clavicula Solomonis aka the Greater Key of Solmon which is also a Medieval text on making talismanic pantacles used to gain wine, women and song. Thus Aaron is knowledgeable on how these books work and that is what he outlines in this work of his.
Secrets goes into a vast array of subjects including: Shamanism, Biblical Prophets, Magical Timing, Elective Astrology, Finding Obscure Ritual Items, Purifications, Creating Invocations, Ritual Bathing, Theurgy, Natural Philosophy & Goetia Conjuring. Each section offers you quite a lot of footnoted material that Aaron has cross referenced where available.
The finding of obscure ritual items is quite handy as the author discusses the pitfalls of finding a virgin to spin your wool, metals for the pantacles, blood from winged creatures, and the like. He offers you some alternatives yet explains the need to go the distance to obtain such ritual items and how that impacts your grimoiric workings.
In the chapter on Magical Timing, Aaron shows the pros and cons of using such a thing even though the debate over its effectiveness has raged for years. Though he settles it with elucidation from a passage found in the Clavicula Solomonis and offers some anecdotal thoughts on its relation to the practitioner as well.
Is this a 'how-to manual'? No it isn't. The scope of the book is more scholarly and digging to help you understand the fundamental reasons of HOW & WHY the classical texts were written the way they were. Further, Aaron offers you modern parallels where applicable in an effort to make things seem clearer and less fuzzy.
Even though this isn't a cookbook, the theory & ideas presented in this text should make picking up a classical grimoire much easier to comprehend and understand. That alone, causes the value of this book to remain high. I dare say that with this book and an English copy of the clavicle, one could easily make a pantacle that would be a smashing success or learn to summon an entity from the Goetia without fear of reprisal.
All in all, the book is an extremely handy reference. While Aaron could not hope to cover every topic, he has done a fine job in those areas in his book. I for one am grateful he has published this material as it gives me a deeper understanding of the traditions and mindset of the Medieval Magician.
I rate this book 5 out of 5 possible stars and highly recommend it to any serious student of either Evocation or Devotional Magics.
Reviewed by Moloch
I had a VERY hard time reading this book. Why? It's not a typical 'how-to' Occult book written the straightforward manner many such modern books are. This is written from the storyteller view. Meaning it's written like a story book is or a lengthy diary however with all of the missing pieces filled in. Thus for the sake of clarity, I classify it as a novel. Now why was it such a drudgery for me to slog thru it? I'm not one for novels and when I do, I prefer mine to be high fantasy, not reality of modern life.
According to the biography, the author is a graduate of Brown University and she's also a practicing attorney and a Wiccan priestess of 20 years. Okay she's smart. It takes quite a brain to make it thru an Ivy League school so I'll give her that.
I personally found the book to be slow going. It took forever for it to make it to the spell details. While I realize when you're dealing with people and you're allegedly coming from a storyteller's perspective, the details are important. However personally I feel the book could have been far shorter and hopefully one day there will be an abridged version coming forth.
It seems Gotham spared no expense giving away copies as there are some notable people who's names are staples in the neo-Pagan and New Age community who hail this book such as Janet Farrar, Dorothy Morrison, Ray Buckland, Sirona Knight, & others.
Do I recommend it? Yes. Why? Mainly for those who are constantly trying to win someone's affection with "Love Sorceries", this book will give you an idea of the complexity involved in performing this sort of Sorcerous task. It's not really a "wham bam thank you ma'am" sort of spell as many think it is. However what's even more important is the consequences of the spell you cast - especially of all "love" - is important since you're trying to cleave yourself to someone (hopefully) forever.
The novel is graphic - meaning it is sexually explicit. Phyllis pulls no punches here and some may be prudish to the point of saying that this is softcore porn. Perhaps it is however there is a market for this type of material and the author has an underlying message so it's worthwhile to read it just for that.
$25 for a paperback book - especially a novel - is quite extreme when compared with all of the fiction books out there in paperback selling at under $10. I would say it's worth the price if it were half of the cover but to spend such a chunk of change on a novel - even if it is true which I have no doubt it is - seems to me a bit steep.
Starting on page 337 and ending on page 347, there is a collection of love spells offered by the author. These are Wiccan in nature and perhaps that's why it took so long for the "love spell" to manifest. Had Sorcerous methods & tactics been used the length of time - and subsequently the page count - may have been much shorter.
The brief bibliography offers plenty in the realm of "erotic" type literature. From a magical perspective, she has listed the books by the very same authors who wrote recommendations for it. Hmmm. Though I give her props for recommending Slater's Magical Formulary but there aren't any other Sorcerous texts mentioned, just the typical watered down New Age material.
All in all, I rate this work at 3 our of 5 possible stars.
Reviewed by Moloch
It took me forever to pick this up and read it. I just could not see myself reading (yet) another book on sexuality & the Occult. Oy vay already! One of the things that I just could not fathom was reading an introduction by a (former?) porn star by the name of "Annie Sprinkles".
This book just didn't appeal to me. Mind you, I'm the furthest thing from a sexual prude and many of my friends will wholeheartedly admit that, however I found the book trying to offer sexuality as both clinical and flirty in the same manner. And that's what doesn't click for me like it may for you.
While it may be a great marketing gimmick to get "Ms. Sprinkles" to write (I didn't know Porno stars needed to know how to write!) the forward but for those folks who're into porn, this may get them to at least crack the book open.
The audience for the book is obviously "Wiccan" though she denies it, LaSara claims she is not Wiccan. She claims her's is "intuitive based" which comes across as "I've never been formally trained nor initiated". Though in the forward by Ms. Sprinkles, it's said LaSara is able to fly around on a broomstick. Hah! That'd be interesting to see.
As someone who practices more serious Occultism, I believe this to be the biggest stumbling block to the book itself. The author goes for the typical Llewellyn format and it just didn't seem to give me any sort of useful information that I could make use of except in a couple of the following places.
First off on page 214, Firefox uses the following: "The Most Obnoxiously Option-Oriented Ritual Outline You Have Ever Seen!" and boy howdy she wasn't kidding! Though in fairness this outline is intended for those working in a GROUP setting. But the tongue in cheek humor was there.
Secondly, I did rather like the way she emphasized certain things in the book by using marginal notes. These are handy spots that will help one not only learn and apply new material but recall which page something is on. Though the purist may be put off by the fact the author & publisher has taken it upon themselves to give what they feel is critical to the reader. Nevertheless I liked it.
Finally I did like Appendix 3 "Informational Resources" as it offers quite a bit of material that may help the reader learn to accept themselves better and thus move on with emotional stability. Too many look to the Occult as a panacea of quick self-help techniques. Far from it though one should have a good solid self-esteem to make any sort of Sorcery work.
What I didn't like about the book is the overdone use of obnoxious terminology such as listed in a Marginal Note on page 46 "A Magickal Thought: Pussy worship has been around forever." Okay is there a reason to be crude? We can't use "Vaginal"? Must we bow to the Hustler magazine mentality and excuse crudeness for reality? Okay for some but I dislike it. Personally though I feel the author & publisher allow this sort of thing for shock value. Page 229 has "Ritual 3: Pussy Power!". Along this line, I noticed a lack of "My-Dick-Is-A-MagicKal-Wand" types of spells too.
Another thing I absolutely detest is the relegating of the Gods to mere "psychological archetypes" which is precisely what is done in the Western systems of Occultism. Rather than revere the Gods for who They are, it seems Llewellyn authors have to look at their concept of Deity as pure psychological instead of revering them as real beings. Sad.
All in all I found the book lacking any sort of real substance and it had a strong feminine bias to it. Thus if you're a woman who's hetero, bi or gay, this book may appeal to you. For a guy, there's little in here worthwhile to read. I didn't see much in the way of depth of knowledge but rather just plain surface knowledge which anyone could glean from a number of sources.
I rate this book 1 out of 5 stars.
Reviewed by Moloch
QBL or Qabalah, Qabla, Caballah, Cabballah, Kabala, etc., a simple word with multiple spellings, is a Jewish practice that has recently come out of the closet & into the mainstream since people like Madonna, Roseanne & other Hollywood Hypes have publicly announced they’re studying the QBL. Of course what many of these Hype types are studying is traditional QBL which has more to do with reading the Jewish Torah and observing Jewish customs and laws. Oy vay. That’s NOT what this book is about.
This QBL presented in this text is “ESOTERIC” Qabala and has more to do with Occult practices than merely praying to Yahweh’s already overinflated ego. In fact, this Qabala is geared as a foundation for Western Ceremonial practices such as the Golden Dawn, Aurum Solis, Ordo Templi Orientis, Builders Of The Adytum, and other such esoteric groups work with.
The book is a spoof of a “Rabbi” teaching you the basics of QBL. It reminds me of Carlos Castaneda’s don Juan but even so that the main character is fictional - which DuQuette leaves no doubt - it’s still a fun way of learning something that’s quite complex. Often the good Rabbi is witty and irreverent but that only makes the book appeal to you all the more.
I found it overall to be somewhat insightful but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before. For a beginner or budding Qabalaist, the book would be a welcome addition to learning this dry, Jewish system from a bygone era. Gods know that the Victorian magicians certainly did little to elucidate on this subject other than to further obscure it from open minds.
Consider this work to be a “primer” that you or a student should read several times. Especially the chapter with the “Command-Rants” as they will give you plenty to consider and sow within your own consciousness. The Foreword and chapter on “Who Was Rabbi Ben Clifford?” are a must read purely for the sport of it. DuQuette has a sense of humor that is poignant without the painful thrust which often accompanies such a treatment of a sacred text. (If only Jesus were this funny!)
Overall I give it 3 out of 5 possible stars as there were a couple of things I found lacking. One of which was DuQuette’s holier-than-thou statement where he feels it’s cowardly to use Magick in any sort of revenge situation. How trite & typical. A martial artist is supposed to NEVER use his knowledge to defend themselves in a fight. Ridiculous. Still the book has many high points and enough that I give it a fair 3 out of 5 stars.
Reviewed by Moloch
Okay do we need yet another Northern Traditions or worse Runic studies book? Why do I take this stance? Well the problem is that the authors of such books tend to approach the subject from a scholarly standpoint. They are wont to cite chapter and verse of archeology and sites where full blown evidence is to be found to support their theories. And since there is only so much evidence available the various authors tend to repeat the material over and over and over again. It becomes as boring as reading a basic Wicca book!
Unfortunately, I really didn’t find anything new in Krasskova’s offering. Not that I’m out any money - for if I were I’d definitely be perturbed with her - but rather once you’ve read and studied the “Suggested Reading” as found in her book, you wonder WHAT someone like her has to say on the subject that’s truly unique. Because what she gives as “suggested reading” can be found in a dozen older sources which I read years ago and then did my homework then.
While I am Germanic but not Asatru by any stretch of the imagination, I’d like to see more creativity going on in the proto-Norwegian fold. Unlike the Germanic Armenan lodges, the Norwegian practitioners tend to rehash the same basic information over and over again. In fact, the Norwegian Futhark scholars remind me of Christians who revere the King James Bible swearing to maim anyone who tries to apply it to their own way of thinking. The Armenan lodges aren’t so stuffy and in fact they tend to encourage creativity and self-expression thru Runic practice.
Sadly the same formula holds true for the Heathen folk customs as it does for the Futhark. Blot, blot, blot. Ugh. Show me something conventional. Something unique and modern that is built upon what was done in the past. Maybe that’s why I’ve never felt the need to join the Rune Gild or Asatru in that they’re “living in the past” and remind me of S.C.A. types who recreate Medieval and Renaissance settings. Bah. I don’t want to live in the past. While I enjoy learning from the past, I live in today.
The best part of this book is her chapter on Wyrd. This is often a relatively difficult subject to explain to most non-esoteric people due to the fact much has to be accepted rather than proven. And that’s due to it being heavily metaphysical rather than rational. Overall the chapter is one of the better ones I’ve read on the subject.
Overall I gave this book 1 out of 5 stars as it just did not have enough anecdotal material to personalize it nor does it have anything even relatively new to ponder. It’s simply a rehash and been-there-done-that sort of thing. I hope her next offering has more to bite and chew on than this.
Reviewed by Moloch