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Bookviews Book Reviews


 5-30-2005
 

 

 

Witch Hunts: Out of the Broom Closet ~ Kerr Cuhulain

Our very own Wiccan Cop – Kerr Cuhulain – shares in this book decades of research into the myths and misinformation that have spread around the various communities about paganism in it's various forms, from Satanism to Wicca. 

This book is based on research Mr. Cuhulain did on various accusations and misinformation that have appeared in the general public and made it’s rounds from police handbooks on the occult and cults to religious bulletin boards on the Internet.  The research has been painstaking, and sometimes slow, but it is accurately documented and substantiated and recorded in book form for others to reference.

The bulk of this material was “serialized” on The Witches Voice website (http://www.witchvox.com) for the pagan community to read, reference and use when we are approached by others who question information they have been given.  Many times acts of discrimination and harassment have been justified or based on misinformation that has since been proven to be inaccurate or unjustified or unfounded.  The paperwork has been done by Mr. Cuhulain, and used by him to show various law enforcement institutions and government agencies the actual facts in many cases.

There are many stories that have sprung up about Wicca, most of them developed by fundamentalists of the hard core kind, some by cultists in their own rights, and still more as offshoots of hysteria and rumors, all of which have been spread by word of mouth in certain circles and has resulted in long, useless and harassing investigations by law enforcement officers on persons who do not deserve it.  The perpetrators of these legends cost our governments money in the time it takes to track them down and find the facts in the many cases.  Most of the time it is lies or fantasies made up by the perpetrators, and we have wasted many man hours of our precious law enforcement agencies resources.  Mr. Chulain examines some of these in detail and shows the checkered past and shadowed sources.

 The book covers a few “handbooks” that were published by government agencies in the 80s.  These handbooks carried much misinformation to the law enforcement agencies at that time because they were written by so called “experts” who did not do enough homework or drew conclusions based on little or wrong information.  These handbooks did a lot of damage on their own, and in some cases they continue to be present in the offices of many law enforcement agencies and government offices.  Mr. Cuhulain points out the obvious flaws, discusses the misinformation and substantiates his facts with proof.

Mr. Cuhulain carefully outlines What Wicca is.  Using the written material that came out of The Council of American Witches in 1974, he focuses on the positive aspects of who we are and what our beliefs are comprised of and what our practices are.  This section is carefully and clearly written out so that anyone can understand and appreciate it.    I would include this whole chapter in “required reading” for anyone approaching outsiders to our spiritual path and trying to explain it.  It is very well done and clearly stated.

The book covers well known Urban Legends, going to the source of the misinformation, naming names and dates and speeches or articles or pamphlets that outlined these lies or fantasies.  From the accusation that Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds, proclaimed he was a Satanist on a well known TV show to the logo of Proctor and Gamble being a Satanic Symbol, Mr. Cuhulain goes over the myths, examines the sources and documents the actual truths.  Yes, Mr. Kroc was on the Phil Donahue show, and Mr. Cuhulain documents what he actually did say vs, how someone interpreted what he said.  And regarding the logo on the P&G products, this was actually written up in an infamous boycott circular which states the president of P&G was on the Donahue show (again) and the Merv Griffin show claiming the company supported the Church of  Satan.  The 13 Stars and the man in the moon motif was finally changed 1985 because of the 15,000 phone calls about this each month, and yet… the rumor still runs rampant.

There are more incidents like this, from the erroneous stories of poison candy at Halloween to Chick Tracts, Mr. Cuhulain covers the material like a pro, providing written statements, stating sources and citing cases involved with the questionable materials. 

The book also covers Occult Crime “Experts”, those folks who claim to be experts in Occult Crimes and criminology who have mislabeled crimes and wasted taxpayers time and money.  There is discussion on Satanic Calendars, where dating of crimes, or making up of calendar events to substantiate false evidence or misrepresent actual crimes has also cost us time, money and manpower. 

The chapter on Symbols would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic.  It is amazing how everyone seems to find Satanic Symbols in the strangest places.  Mr. Cuhulain covers many so called “symbols” and also covers some of the actual meanings of words or symbols we use today. 

There is also a chapter on Demons.  Mr. Cuhulain writes:
There are three reasons that I’d like to include a chapter on demons in this book.  One is so that you can understand what some of these people that I write about believe (or perhaps, more correctly, one could say so that you can understand what they don’t understand).  The other is that showing you what these people have to say about this subject gives you a very clear picture of what their fears and motivations are. [ …] The last is that these people tend to classify many of the aspects of divinity that Pagans commonly use as either “demons” or “Satanic”.

Mr. Cuhulain goes over the sources of this topic, giving the layman a very clear and easy to understand basis.  If anyone takes the time to read this through, he will come away with a very good understanding of the subject.  Again, well presented, clearly defined and simply written for those who have no background in this topic.

The final chapter is titled Coming Out.  This is more a guide for the individual looking to come out of the “Broom Closet” and contains some personal experiences and suggestions for the pagan considering this move.  There are cautions given, obstacles you can encounter, situations that may arise.  Offered here are “support groups” you can use to help you in your path.  The list is quite impressive, including not only local support groups or foundations, but sources of information as well as Religious Rights groups.  This is, again, a well written positive support section of the book and again, I would recommend this for anyone having a problem deciding if it would be right for them to come “Out of the Closet”.

There are footnotes on just about every page, the appendices provide a glossary of Wiccan terms, a brief history of Satanism, and there is a huge bibliography and an index. 

The Conclusion of the book poses some “food for thought” material about the attitude of the larger community towards the steadily growing community of the pagans.  It offers reflections on where we are now, and how we want to wander on our paths into the future. 

Mr. Cuhulain follows his own path of Wiccan Warrior in the name of the Wiccan community, assisting where he can to assure us of our right to Freedom of Religion. 

He is a veteran of 27 years on the Canadian police force working as a Hostage Negotiator, Child Abuse Investigator, member of the Gang Crime Unit and the Emergency Response team and now working with the police dealing with the community mentally disordered.  He is an author and an Elder in the Wiccan Community, public speaker, works with the Witches League for Public Awareness and the Preceptor General of the Officers of Avalon (Wiccans in the emergency services). He has earned the respect he is given by the community and he continues on his own path “To Serve" with honor and professionalism. 

This book is an excellent resource, very much needed in the pagan community and thanks should be given to Mr. Cuhulain for sharing his research and taking the time to compile this book for the pagan community.   A “must have” on the shelves of any community group or coven or grove, and excellent reading for the rest of the pagan community. boudica

 

 

Cakes and Ale for the Pagan Soul – Spells, Recipes and Reflections from Neopagan Elders and Teachers ~ edited by Patricia Telesco

The newest entry in the books "for the Soul” is a book of collected experiences, stories, spellworkings and comfort food put together by Crossing Press and edited by our own Trish Telesco.  The contributions are from some well known authors as well as some community elders. 

The book is divided into themed sections, each containing some articles or essays.  The topics covered are Path of Beauty, Wisdom of the World, Nature’s Advisers, Community: Honor, Respect and Gratitude, Rituals for Life and Healing, Spells and other Sundries.  These are all topics which would interest pagans of all walks of life and provide food for thought and meditation on our lives, our chosen paths and our world.

Some of the stories are personal experiences, crossroads in someone’s life.  Other stories are essays on our treatment of Mother Earth, the pagan community and the greater community of Humanity.  Some are advises for pursuing our personal paths, “how to” articles on working rituals, and the usual “love” spells, recipes for the pagan passion of food or a quick remedy for a common ailment.

Most of the articles are short.  This allows for mediation on the topic and some soul searching for inner truths if you are so inclined.  There are some touching stories here, there are some moments of meditation and awareness.  There is also some material here that begs for our attention and gives us some hard lessons. 

The opening introduction by Trish Telesco is more of a statement on Neo-Paganism than it is on the contents of the book.  There are statistics here that have no references to where they came from, while others seem to draw questionable conclusions.  While it is true that there are probably more pagans than we roughly estimate, that paganism is a fast growing culture, and that the pagan religions are drawing much attention from various sources, we cannot draw any population conclusion based on the number of witch websites in Google or how many people are registered as pagans on a website.  And while the actual numbers are unavailable and may spark some speculation, we need to remember that not everyone lives on the web.

However, it’s not the introduction we are looking at.  We are here for the content.  With contributions by such well known authors as Margot Adler, Starhawk, Selena Fox and Dorothy Morrison, it is hard to ignore this book.   The articles chosen fit the topics well, and while the articles may be short, they do provide much food for thought.  After some of the stories, there is a small “project box” containing some kind of instruction to further your involvement with the topic discussed.  After an article by Bonnie Jean Hamilton about Releasing your Fears there is a small spellworking to further your own personal work on fear.   After an article on Discovery Through Dreaming by Ann Moura there is a small box on keeping a dream journal. 

There are stories on personal tragedy, community ritual backfires, pagan protests, healing the healers, and more.  There are outstanding articles by the likes of Jessie Wolf Hardin, Kristin Madden and Ashleen O’Gaea.   There are also some gems by some lesser known authors like Ambrose Hawk and Precious Nielsen.

The stories cover the human community, the animals we love, the earth we cherish.  There is much here in the way of positive affirmations and comments on the human condition.  Personal responsibility, perfect love and perfect trust, and so much more that we hold dear are touched upon for our reflection.

There is appeal here for most folks following the pagan path who are looking for food for thought on their spirituality, their community, their lives and how interconnected this all is with our Mother the Earth.  There is fluff amongst the trees of wisdom here as well, but that is the general appeal of books like this; that they have something for everyone.  And I am sure if you pick up this book you will find a couple of articles or essays that will touch upon a particular string in your mind and it will harmonize with your own personal song.  I do recommend this book for it’s content, as it will also give you more of an insight into pagan spirituality and the pagan heart.   This is a good presentation and one which I think you will find challenging and intelligent as well as inspirational and heart warming.  boudica

 

The Hand from A to Z : The Essentials of Palmistry~ Judith Hipskind Collins

Ms. Collins is a professional palmist in Dallas and has been studying palmistry since 1967.  She is a lecturer and a teacher.

This book is a collection of her studies, and her experiences in reading palms.  Ms. Collins has put together a very in depth study of palmistry with this book.

Ms. Collins explains in the first chapter her system of completely analyzing the entire hand with all the lines and pieces together, not just as individual units.  She gives very good details of what she is referring to and how to go about doing it.  She also outlines all the interconnecting parts of the hand that you will analyze and gives you some very basic material to work with.

She covers some techniques for reading palms in her second chapter.  You can use The Psychic Approach which she seems to treat very lightly or The Book Approach where she goes into detail.  Her section on Why Palmistry Works is an interesting look at how Ms. Collins sees the hands as an extension of the brain and how they reflect our character and personality.

She also gives a chapter for self examination as to why you would be interested in being a palmist and the precautions associated with being a reader.  A good section filled with some very practical advices for anyone looking to go into a field where people’s lives could be shared and discussed in great detail.

Finally there is the meat and potatoes of the book, the examination of the various types of hands, lines and characteristics that are involved in reading palms.  Ms. Collins used a two handed approach in reading palms, using both hands for a complete picture of her client.  She then examines in detail the different types of hands, lines, finger structures, mounts, colors and so much more. 

There are 185 illustrations to help you clearly identify what Ms. Collins is discussing, which also includes a section with actual palm prints and readings for these palms.  In all there are 15 chapters covering what she considers the points to analyze when doing a palm reading.   Each chapter is very well written, covering a lot of information and examples.  The types of lines are discussed as well as what they mean and how to read them in association with other lines on the hand.  There are variations discussed, how these are either related or interact with other features on the hand.  I found this section to be very well executed and enjoyed Ms. Collins’ style of writing, with an exact approach to the process.

It is interesting to take a look at your own hand and use it for comparison against the illustrations as well as looking at the meanings and seeing if how your own personal life measures against the meanings given by Ms. Collins.  While not everything was “right on the money” for me, I was able to pick out particular traits and characteristics on my own palms and the meanings were a very good overview of my own self.  As an example, my head line touches my life line which indicates a good balance between caution and impulse.  I thought that was on the mark.  My head line also shows a writer’s fork which I thought was interesting as well.

The chapter on Interpreting the Whole Hand was a good wrap up of the entire process and the author did show a very good interconnectedness with the process.  The additional information on compatibility was also interesting as you can find some points that could suggest if two people would work well together in certain situations. 

There is a chapter in the back of the book called Dictionary of Traits which I thought was well put together and explained.  Based on the work of William G. Benham from 1966, Ms. Collins has included an overview of this in her book and is a good compliment to her own work.  There is a dictionary of terms used in the book and an actual dictionary of the lines, features, terms and descriptions all relating to palmistry. 

The last part of the book features three sets of handprints for which Ms. Collins has provided a basic overview and analysis.  Again, a very good teaching tool, allowing the reader to see how Ms. Collins extracts information regarding the palm print and allowing the reader to further explore the variations.  This section offers some insights into how Ms. Collins does her own readings, if you have never had the opportunity to have her read for you.

If you are curious about palm reading, this book will probably provide more than you wanted to go into.  However, if you are looking for a place to get started, this book can provide some no nonsense basics and some good information.  The reference material here is well documented, the illustrations are very helpful and Ms. Collins writes so that anyone can understand her method.  This is a good beginner’s book as well as being a good book those who already read palms and are looking for additional reference. boudica

 

The Egyptian Book of Days – The Calendar of Ancient Egypt ~ Melusine Draco

This book is an adaptation of authentic ancient  Egyptian calendars found in various museums and the calendar used today by a modern teaching order of Egyptian Mysteries.  Based on translations by well known Egyptologists, the calendar has been recreated for use by practitioners who follow the Egyptian pantheon.  It is a calendar of Egyptian Deities and their celebrations.

Much research has gone into this small handbook.  While based on a few Dynasties giving us written material and particular pantheons within the Egyptian Religion, it does give us a very good overview and snapshot of what the calendar of the Egyptians was and how Religion did influence the entire being of the Egyptian people.

The calendar of the Egyptians does not reflect any of the European calendars we are familiar with.  There were only three seasons:  Inundation- when the Nile flooded, Emergence – when the waters receded and the crops were planted, and Harvest.  We see the impact of nature and cycles and the growing season on the lives of the Egyptian peoples, same as we see in the European cultures, but the latitude and longitude dictates very different cycles and seasons.

Ms. Draco does include much history on the culture and religion of the Egyptian peoples.  Actually, one and the other are inseparable, as you can not separate the culture from the religion. 

The book follows the year according to the Egyptian calendar but also offers correspondences to our current calendar, making it easy to follow.  Starting with the flooding of the Nile in Dhwy or July (mid July) by our calendar, the cycle is followed and explained.

The author tries to cover all the major Deity events.  She covers many dynastic periods where various pantheons were prominent and certain Deities survived from one dynastic period to another.  Brief histories are given, certain Deities are covered, feast days are noted and Festivals are recorded.  All this information is gleaned from various documented sources, coming from actual recorded texts.  There is nothing here that appears to be added or included because of lack of clarity on the occasion or the translation. 

Samplings of the actual practice of the Religion are also included as quotes from prayers from various texts.  Prayers and invocations from such sources as the Unas funerary temple inscriptions, various versions of the Book of the Dead, or the Papyrus of Nefer-uben to name a few, offer insight into the culture and religious beliefs of the peoples of the time.

There is also discussion on various important items to the beliefs and culture of the people at that time.  The importance of cattle and how this fit into the religious beliefs of the people, the spread of the Cult of Isis of Egypt into the rest of the world and it’s impact on the other cultures, the craft of Basketry; there is a lot of miscellaneous information here that will add to your knowledge base of the Egyptian peoples as well as fill up your mind with some wondrous facts. 

Hieroglyphs are also explored here, one for each month, with the focus on how this glyph fits into the material discussed. 

Each day is also discussed in its relationship to the month, the worship of a Deity or even if it is considered a lucky or unlucky day.  Depending on events that occurred either in the Mythology or the history of the area, some days are labeled accordingly.  Again, the author provides more information that will add to your knowledge base of the Egyptian people.

Each day does have the corresponding date from our current calendars so the book is very easy to follow.  The material is not bogged down in details yet the information appears to be complete enough and contains all you need to know to have a general understanding of what is going on.  The facts are there and they are referenced so you can track them back if you want to check the references or do more research on the topic.  The book is also indexed.

Overall, this is a very informative book, and if you are a practitioner who follows the Egyptian Pantheons, or if you are just curious about the culture and religion of the peoples of  Egypt, you will find this little gem hard to ignore.  This is a good choice to augment your library on Egyptian Myths and Religions.  boudica

 

The Tarot of the Four Elements:  Tribal Folklore, Earth Mythology, and Human Magic by Isha Lerner and Amu Ericksen

Isha Lerner is a professional astrologer, a tarot consultant and a flower essence practitioner.  She has also provided us with some lovely tarot decks:  The Triple Goddess Tarot, The Inner Child Cards, and the Power of Flowers.  Amy Ericksen is the artist who created this deck, and is a member of the Petaluma Art Council.  She has several art credits to her name.

This deck explores the tarot in the association of the elements.  This deck is comprised of seventy-eight cards.  The “Minor Archana” four suites of the elements each having 10 numbered cards and four court cards.  The “Major Archana” has twenty-two cards. 

The art style is folk primitive.  This meshes with the focus of the Major Archana being a journey of the shaman.  The cards are very colorful, using mostly prime colors, and the background designs compliment the style of the art.

In the Minor Archana, the elements are represented by the traditional symbols; swords for air, cups for water, stars for earth and wands for fire.  The cards are also enhanced with designs representing the elements on each card; waves for water, flames for fire, green leaves for earth and clouds and blue sky for air. 

Some of the numbered cards include the number of symbols the card represents against a symbolic design, for example, each of the earth cards has the number of stars for the number of the card, five stars on the Five of Earth.  However, there are exceptions.  The Five of Air has five sword blades incorporated into a stylized bird image and there is the Seven of Fire, a Caduceus in flames to name a few.

The Court cards are stylized figures; page, knight, Queen and King.  Each card is clearly numbered for easy identification.  The Court cards are also clearly labeled as are the Major Archana cards.

The Major Archana follows the “Fools Journey” as a shaman.  This part of the deck is much more visual and the symbols are more defined than in the Minor Archana, and rightly so.  This part of the deck depends on images, and the images are very powerful here.  While some may present a more familiar appearance, like the palm trees on either side of the Priestess representing the columns of the more familiar decks, there are other images that suggest a more shamanistic or primitive or tribal association.  The Empress is much more the woman/mother/womb of the world, a more “Gaia” feeling to her than traditionally presented.  The Emperor is much more the male, more phallic, while the Priest is presented as tribal or shamanic figure rather than as a Pope or the traditional Hierophant.  However, the twenty-two cards do correspond to the traditional Major Archana, and are easy to follow.  Some attributions of the cards have been changed, such as Judgment is Realization, and World is Universe and the changes are easy to follow. 

The book, expertly written by Isha Lerner, goes into much detail as to how these cards should be interpreted.  As they are Shamanic cards, the play of numbers, the form or shape of the designs and colors are critical to interpreting these cards.  Ms. Lerner gives us a chapter on interpreting numbers, responding to the color associations on a spiritual level and there is a chapter on shape interpretation, symbols and some background on images and Archetypes.  There is also a card by card interpretation, with black and white images of the cards to allow you to read, meditate on the card and get a much fuller and deeper meaning that you will need to work effectively with this deck. 

The book enables us to understand the thought process and pattern of the changes suggested by the cards, and understand that the focus of this deck is very elementally suggestive and shamanic in its symbolism.  Ms. Lerner is quite good at making the correspondences for the Major Archana easy to understand and follow.  The card by card interpretations for the Major Archana are well written, explained and make it easy to meditate on the cards, find the meaning for ourselves and work with the deck.

The book also contains some basics on using the cards for readings, layouts, and spreads.  There is a lot of information in the book and it should not be overlooked when working with the cards.  Ms. Lerner has gone into detail here without being boring or redundant, and makes the book a perfect accompaniment to the deck.  I believe everything is here for the reader to get a good working overview of the deck.

My only note is the shape of the cards.  I found the cards to be wider than a normal deck and because of this the deck was a bit awkward for me to handle.  Maybe because of the shape of my own hands which are small and elongated, but I did find myself wishing the deck was a bit narrower.  A person with larger hands may find the deck a bit more comfortable.  This is a personal preference, but one which I consider important as handling the deck is part of the tarot reading process. 

However, the reading process itself was interesting; I came up with some very insightful and spiritually focused readings for both myself and a friend.  While different in appearance, the differences are not that vast and the deck can be used by someone with knowledge of the standard tarot deck without much of a learning curve.  The book is a great tool in working with the deck.

If your practice is more shamanic in focus and you have not found a tarot deck that is in sync with your form, you may want to give this deck a try as a fine tool for reading and interpreting.  This is a lovely deck from Ms. Ericksen, a different kind of a deck and beautifully executed.  Accompanied by the book from Ms. Lerner, this is a lovely presentation, well thought out and put together.  boudica

 

Tarot Plain and Simple ~ Anthony Louis with illustrations by Robin Wood

Anthony Louis’ background is in psychiatry which augments his study of various systems of divination.  He has authored the book Horary Astrology which he also lectures on as well as teaches.

This book explores the art of tarot.  You would think a book that is entitled Plain and Simple would be much smaller.  But this book of 322 pages covers much ground in the art of tarot.  The opening of the book explains Mr. Louis’ idea on writing the book as well as his approach to reading tarot:

The goal has been to remain close to the source and to let the Tarot speak for itself.  The content of this book is based on existing literature about the Tarot and on many years of recording my own experiences with the cards.

This book is a good beginners book.  Mr. Louis begins at the beginning with a brief history of the tarot, some background notes, and an overview of Jungian theory associated with the tarot.  It follows that a psychiatrist would  find Jung an interesting source for tarot.  He also adds some thoughts on the probability of chance, space and time and finally faith.  I found the authors lines of thought interesting, and his reasoning is sometimes amusing, sometimes makes sense. 

The author also goes into tarot spreads, and presents his own version of the tarot spread.  His approach is to allow the cards to “speak for themselves” and to try to not read into the cards but allow the cards to unfold their meanings to you.  Mr. Louis includes some of his own experiences with readings, showing some readings he did on particular days and associations with events that occur.  He goes into further discussion on getting to know the cards, caring for them,  doing spreads for longer periods of time, significance of cards that “jump out” during shuffling, and much more.  I found his notation of keeping a journal on your readings to be good advice for the novice.

He covers the basics of card spread and reading well.  The most basic beginner will have no trouble following the directions and advices given here.  It is all spelled out for you step by step.  Discussion include reversed cards, selecting a significator, choosing a spread, associations of suits and signs, as well as a good overview of the Major Arcana.

The bulk of the book is comprised of a card by card description of the cards and their meanings.  The artist or publisher decided to use black and white prints of Robin Woods deck, which is a good middle of the road choice.  While not as archaic as the  Rider Waite deck, it is a lovely deck that follows the original Rider Waite correspondences. 

The author also follows the traditional “Journey of the Fool” through life format of the Major Arcana, giving the progression for each cards as you read through the Major Arcana.  He provides key words for meanings, situations and advices for each card and gives a people association for each card.  He then lists the reverse meaning for the card with the same information.

I found his interpretations to be sound, and while not totally traditional, very close to it and not out of line.  His people association is insightful, and his situation and advice appears to be sound.  I enjoyed going through his material, it was well written, very clear in his meanings and easy to read.  He does not revert to obscure symbolism on the cards, but rather takes the route of looking at the overall picture and allowing it to give you the meaning, part knowing the intent of the card and part intuition I thought. 

The Minor Arcana is grouped according to the numbers rather than the suits.  We are given a different vantage point here, where we examine the numbers while giving the meaning of the suite an overview.  There is good introduction to the suits at the start of the section, exploring the elements, the various names of the suite (swords/spades etc), a seasonal association and again key words and phrases. 

We then dive into the numbers, going from aces to twos to threes, etc.  Again, a black and white picture from the Robin Wood deck accompanies each card examination, along with key words and phrases, a Corresponding Major Arcana Card  for the numbers, situations and advice and a Personal Year for the numbers and a people overview.  We are also given a reverse meaning for each card.

Again, I found this too be an interesting variation, and found myself comparing the different suit numbers to each other to see the variations.  We are so accustomed to comparing the cards within the suit, this is a very insightful process and one to explore. 

There is also a section on Astrology and Numerology in the Tarot.  Again, interesting reading for the beginner and seasoned reader.  There are some original insights that are out of the ordinary. 

The book has an interesting bibliography and is indexed. 

Overall, the book is a good overview of the tarot reading process.  The material is very basic which is good for the beginner but also offers some insights and variations that the seasoned reader may find interesting if not useful.  If you are looking for a good handbook to guide you through your first steps into reading tarot cards, you may find this book a good starting place.  If you like to compare your methods to other professional readers and see how others interpret the cards, this book offers yet another persons insight into the art of tarot reading.  boudica

  

Madame Endora’s Fortune Cards ~ featuring artwork by Christine Filipak

Are you a fan of card oracles for your divination but sick and tired of the complexity of Tarot? Perhaps you, like me, enjoy the Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling deck but feel the artwork sucks? Well here’s where both worlds meet and mesh quite well!

Fortune Telling cards are merely oracles like the Tarot or I Ching, Dominoes, Astragals, etc. Unfortunately when I first got into the Occult, there seemed to be a snobbishness attached to Tarot as the “true” way of divination by the Wiccans I had met. Everyone seemed to eschew the “fortune telling” path and snubbed it as “the way of the Gypsy” which was somehow beneath them. Funny though how many Ceremonial Magickians such as the late Israel Regardie disdained using Tarot as an oracle of the future. Oh well the cycle of snobbery continues....

When I got into serious study of Sorcery, I began asking the others who I considered to be Sorcerers what they used to divine with. Most said they used regular playing cards. I met a couple who swore by the oracle “Gong Hee Fot Choy” which is based loosely on a regular cards meet Chinese symbology system. Then there was the little old lady who insisted she got the finest results with Murray Hope’s “Way of the Cartouche” which is symbolism based on Egypt. So I purchased these systems and enjoyed them but nothing really clicked with me. Oh you’ve never had that feeling have you?

Then I met another colleague in Sorcery who got some really good results using the “Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling” deck. He insists on using this on all his clients and for every reality check he needs. Thankfully my ex gave me hers and I used them for some time after that. It was okay but just didn’t really click with me.

I even tried the Creative Whack Pack deck developed by Roger Von Oerch also the author of “A Whack On the Side of the Head” and the follow up “A Kick In the Seat of the Pants”. Using this deck to help me solve some creativity issues, led me to read his accompanying booklet and I discovered you can use this deck for divination too. LOL

It wasn’t until I bought the “Answer Deck” at Barnes and Noble that fortune telling decks made a lot more sense to me. No need to learn loads of complex symbolism here. The meaning of the cards is quite self explanatory and you merely read them in relation to where they lay.

Then when one of my colleagues mentioned she bought the new Madame Endora’s Fortune Telling deck, I was hooked. The artwork by Christine Filipak is vivid in detail! The colors are striking and easily catch the eye.

The allure of this deck over the previous ones mentioned is that the colors and symbolism touch me thru my love of the ages gone past. The Answer Deck is a simplistic black/white/red color scheme with symbolism that is from modern times. This doesn’t touch the esoteric side of me as well as Madame Endora’s deck does.

The cards are rich in detail and cover many things such as the four elements but also uses Egyptian and Celtic symbols. Yesterday I did a divination using it & the Four Winds Spread and got Fortune, Earth, Water, Hourglass and Sphynx. The Sphynx was in the East - place of what is to come - and the meaning of the Sphynx is “be cautious of your word choice”. Very appropriate in consideration to the question I used to get my reading.

I just do not use the shuffling method they suggest in this deck. I prefer to shuffle several times and then speak my question out loud and while face down slide thru the cards until I reach one that is impelling me to pull it out from the deck and lay it still face down in the appropriate location of the spread. Sometimes I fan the cards out in a straight line all face down and then choose the cards while my hand hovers over certain spots while my mind focuses on my question. Once the cards are situated in the spread, then do I turn them over and read them.

I have to give Madame Endora’s Forunte Cards a solid five out of five stars! They are awesome! You will love them. Get them from www.monolithgraphics.com and tell them Moloch sent you. ;). moloch

 

The Answer Deck
by Nicholas “Nicky” Zann

If you tire of verbose oracles that feature gads of symbolism which only overloads your subconscious, then perhaps you should try a simplistic oracle like this deck.

The Answer deck is designed for the modern individual as all of its symbolism is more or less art noveau in a black & white on red background.

The pros is that the deck is inexpensive at only eight dollars and ninety-five cents with a mat that lays out and shows you where to the lay the cards you draw from the deck. Then there is the accompanying booklet that spells out how to use the cards. Not much is said about interpretation because you’ll make up your own mind as to what the cards are telling you.

The cons are the deck is very small and if you have big hands this can be a problem. The cards don’t shuffle well for me. And the color scheme is quite bland but it’s supposed to be that way. Coloration can filter your subconscious mind to believe something is otherwise what it’s position is indicating.

For a beginner or someone who tires of the traditional Tarot laden with his symbols, this deck is a welcome choice. Use it for all of your day to day questions and revelations. I rate it a solid four out of five stars only because of the cons I listed above. If the cards were a little bigger and had more than three colors, I’d be ecstatic over them.

You can get the cards directly from www.runningpress.com so enjoy. moloch.

 

Becomng Magick
by David Rankine

Rankine is interesting to say the least. He seems to be at least in his forties because he's speaking about practicing for several decades. He's also written articles for UK magazines under the pseudonym of "Jack Dracula".

Part of the book had me enthralled and other parts left me dry. If you happen to be a practitioner with a flavor of old Khem, then all his Maat/Nuit stuff will be to your liking. (Same holds true for the Crowleyites).

Some of his material reads like a Chaos practitioner wrote it especially chapter 5 the "Angle Webs" section. This is a technique to create a sigil on top of a sigil. The web it seems is used to help dispense the power of the original sigil itself. Though on page, Rankine suggests making an Angle Web of the Hiroshima Blast to draw in its power. For what purposes I haven't a clue as he does not discuss this.

What really caught my attention was his discussion on the "Prime Qabalah" beginning on page 41. In essence it is his version of Gematria for the English language. The instances he cited such as "Beast", "Desire" and "Sex" all add up to 152 which not only HE found fascinating but I did as well! Then on page 45, Rankine offers some ideas about using some Hebrew Qabalah techniques like Temurah and others with his Prime Qabalah Gematria. I found the exercise to be stimulating and enjoyable.

Then on page 49, he begins with the Mysteries of the Hebrew Alphabet. Um hasn't this been hashed and rehashed before? I didn't see anything worth my time in reading this and besides I tend to shy away from the Hebrew material since I'm not Jewish and don't really feel the connection to it.

Page 61 is where he will lose Zad, myself and others because he begins discussing the Kalas as discussed by none other than that toady old gent from England's OTO, Kenneth Grant. Essentially these are little more than rays from the Yoni of Kali but there are 16 in Rankine's system and frankly I wasn't impressed with them. Rankine did say he attributed the Kalas to the five elements and eleven Astrological Planets traditionally used in Magick. The author further explains that the Kalas are charged sexual fluids used in a Microcosmic manner.

Everything up to page 121 to me was boring as it fed upon his discussions with the Kalas. The Trans Uranian Squares was an attempt to expound upon the seven Kameas of the Planets with adding Earth, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto to the fold. Instructions in using them were included.

The brief chapter on Creating Thoughtforms did nothing for me. Same old schlock with nothing new added. The last chapter on "Making Misery Magical" was simply how to conduct inner rites while you suffer from delirious symptoms of influenza and other such viruses.

Pages 135-157 are some Prime Qabalah numerical correspondences. While helpful, I found it of little value as I prefer to use such techniques for my own words and sentence structures.

The book does include a Bibliography and Index which is always helpful. I have no clue as to what the price of the book is because of the lack of a printed price on the cover or in the book. Mandrake's website is: mandrake.uk.net so if you want to check it out and maybe order a copy, do so there. I gave the book 2 out of 5 possible stars overall. David's original but the subject matter is highly entrenched in the Thelemic/Maat style of "Magick" which I personally find boorish. Again if that's your bag, then you'll probably love this book. moloch

 

Primal Rhythm 1 
by Sue Balaschak

Sue Balaschak is a terrific percussionist. She’s got talent, style, rhythm and soul. I chance met her at a Bealtaine festival I attended down in the hills of southern Ohio in the heart of Amish country. (Boy those Amish don’t know what they missed!)

I came over to the table where Sue’s CD’s were and then noticed the drums she had brought. Having brought my own dumbek to jam with whomever, we struck up a quick conversation. Unfortunately aside from pleasantries, someone else standing nearby took the initiative to interrupt us and my conversation was at an end. *sigh* I had only a short time to attend and then had to leave. Such are the happenstances that occur at pagan events. Yeah I could have told her I wanted to interview her but I’ve found when I do that, people don’t act like themselves. They get all cautious and guarded on everything they say. So I threw out the idea of an interview and left the event.

And even though I didn’t get to interview Sue, I did enjoy listening to her CD one the way home. Later I popped her CD into my home stereo and upon twisting up the volume, I grabbed my djembe and jammed along with her in spirit.

The first three tracks are more geared towards beginner percussionists and drummers. She gives you different timing speeds with the first track being 115 beats per minute and then track 2 is 120 bpm and then track 3 is 120 bpm. The next track is Spirit of the Ashika with her pounding out a terrific simplistic rhythm pattern on her Ashika. Next is Agogo Song and then Four Legged Rhythm which is one of my favorites. Fire Dance is really a get up and dance rhythm and if you like to dance around a bon fire, this is a rhythm for you.

Mother Speaks is the last rhythm and it’s a doosie. There’s a lot of heart and soul in Sue’s hands. She’s very mellow in person but you can tell she pours her heart out in her playing. Even if you play rattles, claves, bells, cymbals, deer antlers, or just thump your hands on a table top, you’ll enjoy her offering here. If you just like drumming music as background Muzak for ritual, then by all means, get a copy. At only ten dollars for the CD, it’s a steal. I have to give her a solid five out of five stars for this fun and lively CD. moloch

 

Necronomicon ~
Nox Arcana

I first heard about this group, Nox Arcana, thru a postcard advertisement I got from Monolith Graphics when I ordered their Fortune Telling deck (see other review).

Are you a fan of the Lovecraftian Cthulhuian Mythos as I am? If you are, you’ll want this CD. Or possibly you’re into the RPG (role playing game) “Call of Cthulhu” (by Chaosium Games)? If so, you’ll want this CD. Or perhaps you’re into disturbing, nightside Magical rituals including guided meditations or pathworking the Dark Side of the Tree of Life? Then you too will want this CD!

Nox Arcana (www.noxarcana.com ) is a menagerie of talent of two guys: Joseph Vargo who provides the haunting and whispering invocations and William Piotrowski who is all of the music. Together they weave a disturbing tapestry horror music. This music will give you the perfect setting for flesh crawling reading of the Mythos stories or a demented guided meditation or your Kenneth Grant inspired magical rituals or just plain ol background muzak for your horror RPGs.

Thankfully it is instrumental as lyrics can oftentimes cause disturbances in one’s concentration during Magical Workings. This is not a slam against Vargo’s poetic recitations at all rather his lyrics are placed in key strategic places that allow one to travel their own path while listening to the music and embracing the Mythos as it was meant to be.

One method I’m sure will probably become quite popular is to slide in your favorite DVD or VHS tape of a Lovecraft movie such as The Dunwich Horror then turning down the volume of the movie and cranking up this musical CD on your surround sound system and watching the chilling effects this CD will evoke from your primal fears.

I rate this CD an outstanding five out of five stars! The ten dollar price tag is far and above worth its asking price especially in light of the fact that most musical CDs are now fetching upwards of eighteen dollars plus. Contact Monolith Graphics at www.monolithgraphics.com and tell them Moloch sent you! moloch