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Bookviews Book Reviews

 

 05-20-2007
 

 

Natural Witchery
by Ellen Dugan

 

 

 

Author Ellen Dugan who has been practicing Witchcraft for more than 25 years and has written such books as Cottage Witchery, Garden Witchery, Herb Magic for Beginners and Elements of Witchcraft offers up a new book this spring entitled Natural Witchery from Llewellyn Publishing.  

What Ellen offers us here in this book is a practical down to earth approach to Witchcraft that tends to lean away from traditions, lineage and titles and focuses more on the personal aspects of Witchcraft and how to make these elements of Witchcraft more a part of  your every day life than just something you do on the Sabbats or the full moons once a month. Some may find this just a tad too unstructured for their tastes but I found it to be helpful and instructive in how a person either new to the path or someone that has been walking this path all of their lives can make Witchcraft something that is as much a daily part of their life as heading off to work in the morning is for most of us.  

I found Ellen's writing style to be personable and easy to read with a commonsense approach to most of the subjects covered in the book. The text is peppered with personal examples from Ellen's life of how many of the concepts she talks about have worked out in her own life and how they might work out in yours as well. While many of the subjects that Ellen covers have been dealt with in other books in one form or another it is Ellen's personal take on these topics that makes her book an easy read. She is not afraid to share some of her personal experiences in the workplace or as a mother to illustrate that just because you have decided to follow this path that everything will now be just as perfect as you please. Instead Ellen shows the reader how to use and develop some of their natural powers to smooth the bumps of life out a little and maintain a connection with nature so that you remember the path your on even when circumstances are working against you.  

The material in Natural Witchery covers an assortment of subjects including intuition and strengthening your psychic powers, personal magick development, living the life of the natural Witch, Witchery at work, practical magick and spiritual and personal advancement. This is not a complete list mind you but it does hit some of the highlights of the book. The book also includes a handy section in the back called the Book of Witchery which is pretty much a listing of basic correspondences, color associations and other handy info for creating spells and or rituals. This section also features a place to put some handwritten notes but I'm not sure how many of you out there actually write in books you buy rather than just using a separate notebook to jot down helpful hints and ideas about the text but for those who feel the need to write in this book space has been provided.  

My favorite parts of the book had to do with Ellen relating her experiences as an employee of  a fundamentalist Christian boss and how she coped with the situation and the story of how her lifestyle as a Witch and an out of the closet author affected her children. Both sections are told in a humorous writing style but with a distinct message that not everything is black and white when it comes to being public with your faith and how each person needs to evaluate what it means to be out of the closet for themselves and how it affects others in our lives. The other section of the book that I think readers will appreciate is the one that deals with personal spirituality and how to integrate that spirituality into your every day life. It is one thing to feel your spirituality on the special days of each year but it is also something that you need to acknowledge each day along the path in some way or another. This section of the book offers you some helpful ideas about what you can do to develop your spirituality if you have let it slide a little and it gives the reader some tips on how to make it something that is naturally a part of your daily life.  

All in all Natural Witchery will make a nice addition to your library and give you some helpful ideas about making Witchcraft more of a lifestyle than just something you do 8 times a year at the major festivals. While Natural Witchery does cover some basic topics it also offers the reader some advice from someone who has been on the path long enough to have seen some of the pitfalls and offers information on how to avoid them. I think you will find the book to be informative and laced with wit and humor which is a great combination for communicating ideas and making them stick in the reader's mind. Nice job Ellen and keep up the good work. Definitely recommended.  

Reviewed by Imajicka

 

Llewellyn's 2007
Wicca Almanac

by Various Authors

 

 

 

Even though Llewellyn's 2007 Wicca Almanac has been on the shelves since February there is no need to think that just because you've missed a few months on the calendar that you won't get much use from the book because Llewellyn's Almanacs are not just about the calendar and the major events of each month. Of course the almanac covers the essential information that will make it a little easier to plan your rituals, get togethers or celebrations such as full moons, new moons and major Sabbats but it also reads like a magazine with how to articles and helpful hints to make walking the Wiccan path an easier journey.  

If you are not familiar with the Llewellyn Wicca Almanac let me give you a brief description of how the book is laid out. In the center of the book easily found by paying attention to the grayed page edges you will find the complete Wiccan calendar that covers the time span from Spring 2007 to Spring 2008. Within the calendar you will find much useful information including but not limited to phases of the moon from full to new, you will find astrological signs associated with the days, you will find the color associations for each day of the week, and of course the Sabbats that comprise the Wiccan yearly calendar such as Samhain, Beltane and Midsummer to name a few. As you move through the wheel of the year you will find yourself reaching for this volume again and again to make sure that your rituals and magic are performed at the most effective time to make sure that you are in harmony with forces that ebb and flow throughout the year. 

Many times I have been guilty of not reading the entire almanac but using it just for the calendar, dates and associations. I have on occasion selectively read articles from each almanac that I purchased but never quite got around to reading it from cover to cover and then continue to use it for the dates from month to month. This year I challenged myself to read the book from cover to cover and then write a review to share with my readers what I found there. The articles that comprise the almanac cover a wide range of topics and are presented by 18 authors who offer a diverse perspective on the practice of Wicca and paganism.  The articles are well written and even though they are compact in comparison to the topics that they attempt to expound upon they do manage to focus on what they wanted to communicate during the course of the article and drive that point home.

And of course with 18 different authors and 18 points of view and 18 topics you have a lot to choose from in regards to your reading for the entire year. And of course you don't have to do like I did and read through all of the material outside the calendar at once. You can ration the articles so that they last you the entire year and challenge you with new ideas and tips right through until the next one is published in 2008. It all depends on how you like to absorb your information. In one big bite or nibbling on it all year long. The topics you will find range from pagan blogging, personal male power, reclaiming the divine, drawing closer to your deities, and of course a little humor in an article entitled By the Book by author and friend Link.  

If you don't read the almanacs all the way through during the year then why not give it a shot this year. This edition offers up some great reading from a nice assortment of authors and will not only inspire you to spend time looking at and contemplating your spiritual path but it will also spur you on to see if there are some areas that you might be able to improve during the coming year in the way that you approach/practice your spiritual path. Any way that you look at it you can't go wrong with a copy of this almanac and even if you don't like each and every article there will still be a few that will move you to act on some aspect of your spiritual life that could use a little tweaking. As always it is a book that I would recommend without any hesitation.

Reviewed by Imajicka

 

A Field Guide to Otherkin
by Lupa

 

 

 

Okay, let's get something out of the way before I get into this review. In the past, I had considered myself Otherkin. It was during a time of exploration and self discovery, and while I still consider myself a Therian, I no longer truly consider myself to be Otherkin. And yes, I am quoted in this book. 

Now that that is out of the way, I want to say that I think this book should be on the shelf of almost everyone who is interested in Otherkin, Animals and Shamanism or weird subcultures. Lupa does an outstanding job with this book.  

I can't really say much more than that. You must be willing to suspend your disbelief a lot when you read this book simply because the concept is pretty "out there". I know that when I first encountered the concept of Otherkin, I was thinking to myself "Wait, there is a group of people who believe they are descended from  human-like animals and dragons who really think that they aren't  human?"  

It is a hard concept to grasp initially. Listening to the stories the Otherkin tell, however, and you get a picture of a group who passionately believe this, who are sincere in their quest to discover themselves. 

Unfortunately the Otherkin who are normally encountered in chat rooms and on various boards tend to be those who are into the Otherkin subculture for the shock value, not the ones who are on a sincere personal quest of self-discovery. Because that is normally the case, the Otherkin community tends to have a bad reputation.  

So when reading a book similar to this you must simply accept that Otherkin exist and that most are sincere in their personal quest. If you can get over that mental hurdle, this is an outstanding book describing the different types of Otherkin, what they believe and how they see the world through their unique perspective.  

There are many many quotes in this book, taken from various questionnaires that Lupa put out in the process of researching this book. Personal stories and anecdotes, quotes and items that will encourage contemplation.  

Truthfully? I had a hard time putting this book down.  

But, there is some layout problems that I will note. I can't critique the content because the critiques I could give were not in the author's control. It could have used more variety in the persons responding to the survey, but given that there were only 131 surveys collected, I fear that would be asking far too much from such a small sample.  

I did note that in many places the text runs on top of itself. This makes reading very hard. It looks as though in places text was dropped in from a document that was formatted to a half character spacing rather than the full character spacing and this happens throughout the book. The chapter headings are the same size as the section headings, making transitions from chapter to chapter difficult unless you are really paying attention.  

I DO have to compliment Lupa on the bibliography as it is about as complete as it is possible to be. I believe  that this is probably the definitive list of Otherkin books and websites as well as the best listing of resources relating to Otherkin. The quibble I have with that section is that the listing is broken up by personal commentary on the site or book itself, and that commentary is not indented to keep the alphabetical listing easy on the eyes. Also the paragraph formatting seems to change from paragraph to paragraph, indented here, and not indented in the next paragraph, single space between paragraphs here and double spaces there. That tended to happen around the quotes however.  

I did note that in the section where she is talking about Otherkin symbols, she uses a term I'm not familiar with and she never explains it. This is in relation to the seven pointed star. The illustration shows a septagram and assumes that you know what an obtuse septagram is, which I didn't. There is no illustration of it.  

As a point of interest and nothing more, I will warn readers that there are a number of references to her own work, as well as her husband's works throughout this book. If that bothers you, you may wish to skip those parts. It is not obtrusive, but it is prevalent.  

With my formatting and layout objections considered, I give this book 4 stars out of 5. I think this is an exceptional work and with just a few slight modifications in the second printing, that it would be a perfect book. I believe that this could be the definitive work for some time to come.  

Daven

Copyright:  "Copyright Daven http://davensjournal.com   All rights reserved.  Permission granted to reprint this review as long as the entire article and this copyright statement are kept intact.  Contact him at daven (at) davensjournal (dot) com"

 

Oberon Zell Presents Gargoyles
By Susan "Moonwriter" Pesznecker

 

 

 

The very first thing I thought upon receiving this book was "you have got to be kidding me." The next thought was "Well, it's a different author, it might be good".  

This is not going to be a good review. I took all kinds of time with it, trying to pick out the least loaded words I could to encourage the author to continue her efforts, but this is not a good book.  

The subject matter would have made an outstanding essay. Twenty or thirty pages on Gargoyles would have been wonderful. There are many people who would have been thrilled to see a work like that and it would have been of use.  

But what this book actually contains is scattered information on gargoyles and grotesques (defined as any carved figure that does not have a drainpipe) in various paragraphs, sandwiched in between multi page digressions that would have Odysseus going "Where are we again?"  

I could not get into this book. I really tried, truly. I hate it when I can't get into a book I'm reviewing. So I worked at it. And it was a labor. I fail to see, however, what the relevance is of Medieval Guilds in Europe and their connection to a carved figure. Or, I can see the connection, but I am left wondering just why it is included in this book.  

Truthfully, this looks like it's padding out a short manuscript. Or the author is suffering from the "I suffered for my art, now you can too" problem with most writing. (This is a syndrome in which the author of any work generally does a lot of research and it ultimately doesn't make it into the finished book. Because of the length of time and the scope of the material it is included in the book for no particular reason other than the author doesn't want to have wasted that time.)  

About half way through the book I was left wondering what the title of the book was again. I looked and couldn't see anything to do with Gargoyles in the section I was reading. Digressions on the Heads of the Celts, the ways churches were built, the structure of a town in the 1000's, Myths of the Medusas, Harry Potter and a Disney Cartoon named "Gargoyles" were all included in this book.  

Frankly, I had to stop. 

I am absolutely certain that if the reader can work their way through all the extra information, that there is data of use on gargoyles in here. I even found facts I didn't know about. And the rest of the data that is included is well researched, you can tell that the author did her homework.  

But there is SO MUCH that doesn't belong. And once again it is a textbook for use by "The Grey School of Wizardry" in their segment on creatures.  

No further commentary. I've made my feelings plain. There is a wealth of information in here; it is simply that most of what is here isn't on Gargoyles at all. My score: 2 stars of 5.

Daven

Copyright:  "Copyright Daven http://davensjournal.com   All rights reserved.  Permission granted to reprint this review as long as the entire article and this copyright statement are kept intact.  Contact him at daven (at) davensjournal (dot) com"