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Bookviews Book Reviews

 

 8-20-2006
 

 

Offering to Isis: Knowing the Goddess Through
her Sacred Symbols
by M. Isidora Forrest

 

 

M. Isadora Forrest has been a devotee to Isis for twenty years, is an initiated prophetess of the House of Isis and a priestess of the International Fellowship of Isis. Her previous works include articles in the Golden Dawn Journal, as well as a book on Isis Magic.

In the first part of her book, Ms. Forrest discusses “offerings”. From modern day Seattle and the unusual custom that has arisen from leaving daily offerings of food and such for a work of art called “The Seattle Troll” to ancient offerings of symbols left at the temples of Egypt, Ms. Forrest examines our curious habit of leaving bit of things for both the common place as well as Deities. We see how symbols are part of Egyptian Magic or Heka and how this can fit into a daily practice of offerings for Isis. There is much history covered here and Ms. Forrest has done the research to allow even the beginner to understand the idea of offerings. The reader comes to understand the use of Heka, or magic; that the word is the form, be it written or spoken and the offering of the word is the offering itself. 

Ms. Forrest goes into some details about Egyptian culture. She examines the day to day worship rituals, derived from the old and works them into our lives today. She gives reasons we would want to make offerings, and lays out the basis of a formulary ritual adaptable for a variety of offerings. This is “in depth” ritual, very specifically for offerings, and she provides a few rituals that can be adapted to our own purposes.  There is a simple everyday three-offering ritual, progressing to a more complex 24 hour offering ritual.  I found these rituals to be easy to follow and can be utilized and adapted by anyone.

The second part of the book is the discussion and description of the offerings themselves, the glyphs and the meanings of each. The research is well done, easy to understand and each symbol is followed by an Isis Offering using that particular symbol.

For the practitioner who is looking at devoting their life to Isis, this is an indispensable handbook. Those who would make offerings, be they once a day or for special occasions, will find themselves referencing this book over and over. The work is in depth but the rituals are easy to follow even in their most complex form.  The book will aid the follower of this path to make the most of their offerings and their connection with Isis.

The reader will also come away with an understanding of the meaning of the glyphs discussed in this book. They are pictured so the discussion of the glyph has a visual basis for the reader. You then copy the glyph that applies and use it in your own rituals. 

The appendices include a very shortened form of glyph “quick reference”, so you can quickly look up the symbol you need. There is also a bibliography for translation sources. And finally the book is indexed for quick reference.

This is a well presented book, offering much in the way of study for one looking at the Egyptian and Isis path. If you are looking at the practice and are looking for a single guide that will explain in depth the process and the rituals, this book is an excellent choice.  boudica

 

The Golden Secrets
of Mystic Oils

by Anna Riva

 

What oil would I use for “having my way with any man”?  What do I use St. Expeditus oil for?  What kinds of oils could I use in an “Uncrossing Ritual”.  What would be the best oil to use for a candle burning ritual if I want to achieve success in my project?

Anna Riva put together in one small book all the various oils used by many different spiritual paths, and gives meaning to the sometimes very vague names of some oils that you will find on the market.

Most of these oils are blended, and you will find many of them in stores lining the shelves.  But what would you use, say “Flaming Power” for?  Or is there an oil that I can wear to bring out the best in me.

Many of these oils have been available for years, but if you are not familiar with their names or purpose, you may have passed by a very powerful addition to your spells and workings.

Note that this book does not contain formulas, but rather names of oils and their usages.  There are also included some spells, prayers and Deities associated with these oils, so you can figure out how to utilize them in your own practices.

Anna Riva books cover a variety of spiritual paths, and are not limited to just pagan or Wiccan practices.  That is the beauty of these books; they are good for anyone who picks them up.

Expand your magical working knowledge database with this book and learn a few new spells from “outside the box".  I’ve been using some of these oils for years and it has done nothing but add to and augment my own practice.   boudica

 

Earth Magic:  Sacred Rituals for Connecting to
Nature’s Power
by Starhawk
-  
Audio Book in CD format

 

Here is a new format for our readers that provides quality material at a reasonable price for those who prefer a format other than written word.

Sounds True has a wonderful package here.  A 4 CD set that contains Starhawk’s book “Earth Magic”.  The book is actually spoken by Starhawk and is nicely boxed and presented.

First, the quality of the CDs themselves.  We have nice overall audio quality.  Starhawk comes across clear, with her rich vocal tones.  If you have ever heard her speak publicly, as I have, you will appreciate the quality here.  She has the same clarity and sound.  Nothing is augmented or strained.   And she does not drone, or annoy vocally.  So it is a pleasant overall listening experience.

There are some background sounds.  Drums and flutes denote the beginning and end of each disk.  They are small in proportion to the rest of the disk, but a nice touch.

I listened to much of this material in my car.  To be honest, it can be distracting in the car, as you are listening to some lessons and exercises in magical practice and your mind can tend to wander from your first focus of driving.  I ended up listening to some of this material over again in the comfort of my work area, and I found I could focus better on the material better.  So, a recommendation: don’t listen to all of this in your car.

But I do see the value of having this on disk.  Not just because it offers Starhawks material on disk for those who might be visually impaired.  That is the most obvious benefit of having an Audiobook.

But we are also looking at meditations, which Starhawk leads you through.  This format allows you to follow her guided meditation, and you can pause the disk, or give some thought to the material offered by Starhawk and then move on when you are ready. 

The material presented here is Starhawk’s own material.  This is her tradition, her way of working, and much of it is based on the teachings of the Reclaiming Tradition. 

So, the history presented on Disk One is taken from the Goddess movement aspect.  On this disk she covers the history of the Goddess religions dating back to the dawn of Goddess worship.  She leads us through the changes in religious practices as seen by the Goddess movement, and then bringing us back to Goddess worship today.

Disk Two looks at today’s practices of Goddess worship and magic.  She spends a lot of time examining magical practices through the Goddess as part of the Reclaiming Tradition.  She discusses her beliefs in ethics, male and female energies, spirit and nature and the elements.   She also examines life celebrations, festivals and cycles of change.

Disk Three moves into actual practices.  If you have ever seen her speak publicly you know her method of incorporating a small ritual into her teachings.  She does this again on this disk, discussing the Reclaiming Traditions way of working Ritual - incorporating the elements and what they mean.  Very nicely done, and it provides some material to contemplate as well.

The final disk examines Goddess in your workings, intent and how it affects your practice, as well as grounding and centering and a final summary. 

There is a lovely 21 minute drum meditation on Water.  A very nice presentation, and one which I think you will find interesting.  She even sings a little!  It is a healing meditation, so it will encourage you to look deep within yourself.

The last track sums up very nicely what the purpose of this recording is all about.  Starhawk discusses healing, from ourselves to the earth.  Healing – and magic, being very earth-centered.  This is Starhawk’s message these days, and she gets this across well in the final track. 

If you are a Starhawk fan, this is a great offering.  It is not read, it is spoken from her heart.  It gives us a really good look at the Reclaiming Tradition and its associated teachings, practices and philosophy. 

If your focus is Goddess spirituality, you will find this an excellent addition to your library and your practice.   Anyone who follows the Reclaiming Tradition will want to add this as well.  And for those of us who respect Starhawk and her years of working in the pagan community, this audiobook gives us a glimpse of the woman and her message.  boudica

 

The Aura-Soma Sourcebook:  Color Therapy for the Soul
by Mike Booth
with Carol McKnight

Color has been associated with many practical uses, including it’s ability to change moods in people, reflect their personality, set the pace for business and educational environments and create a healing setting for the sick.

Aura-Soma uses color to heal the soul.  The therapy uses bottles of dual-colored liquids, called Equilibrium bottles, that contain essential oils, extracts of plants and stones.  The properties of the oils balance the body and support healing of mind, body and spirit/soul.

The book lays out the practice very clearly and is easy to understand.  As I went through the material, I could see how the application of the oils and colors could sooth, relax and promot healing.

Included is a history of this alternative therapy, how it developed, and how it is an ever developing system.  It appears to be able to individualize it’s application to meet the needs of the client. 

While it may be a curiosity to many folks, the book explains yet another useful therapy in our arsenal of alternative therapies for whole body/mind/soul healing. 

The full color pages examine the colors, their use and their applications.  These bottles are specifically blended and uniform.  This makes it easy for the practitioner to identify and apply to each client’s specific need.  The colors are blended to address specific ailments, emotional responses or spiritual needs.  They are identified by the practitioner and the client is given bottles that will help the client.  Some of these blends correspond to the Chakra colors, others to plant or mineral material.  The duality of the colors in the bottles represent the upper conscious mind and the lower represents the unconscious. 

There is much more to this practice than I have mentioned here.  I thought it interesting, and considering that color is used in many healing processes, this system takes it to another level and is very interesting in it’s use.  I think if you find color healing something that attracts you, this system may be something  you may want to add to augment your practice. boudica

 

21 Spells for Assured Success: A Magical Reference for the Astute Business Woman by Dark Willow

DarkWillow has been working as a Tarot Reader and Spiritual Counselor for years, and she finally got around to putting some of her best spells for success into a book.

The book is laid out as a collection of “case histories”.  Each client presents a situation which Dark Willow interprets, discusses with the client, and applies a spell working which she lays out for the reader.  The results are then given with a follow up to the clients case.

This format has been followed for many years, having been used in some of the early privately  printed we studied from.  While there are a few products that Dark Willow has put together herself and promotes in the book, the spells are tried and true formulas that work.  She goes into detail  as to how to work each spell.

The style of writing is simple, clear and analytical.  She discusses what the client wants to achieve, and if the client is qualified to achieve it.  The application of a spell is sometimes very magical, sometimes very spiritual and it promotes self examination, affirmation of self and builds self esteem.

The book focuses on women and success, much of it being business and job oriented.  Most of Dark Willow’s clients are women, but the material can be worked by either men or women.  The nature of her workings is not path specific.  She works with Christians as well as pagans and applies the appropriate spirituality to the situation.  She is a firm believer that nothing is impossible to achieve if you work with your Deity.

This is a self published book.  Which means it is custom stock bound with a comb binding, card covers in full color and acetate over cover.  Simple really, but attractive.  There are about 54 pages in the 81/2 X 11 in. book, printed on colors stock, and it has a few illustrations of symbols for your use.  And yes, she does promote her products in the book.  But she also show you how to use other products you may not have  been aware of.  I also see that you can substitute other products  for hers.

The cost is a little more pricy than the stock material you are accustomed to, but the quality of the written material more than makes up for the cost.  After all, you are buying the book for content.  And this book has plenty of good content and none of the filler you find in so many books.

She has a website:  Dark Willow’s Books, Products and Services.  I think she is still trying to get it put together.  But her book, and her card reading service is available.  I also have the book available for purchase in my eBay book store.

Good content, a good read and an easy to follow handbook on spells for success.  What could be better than that?  Everyone could use a little success in their lives. boudica

 

Be Blessed: Daily Devotions for Busy Wiccans and Pagans
by Denise Dumar
s

Denise Dumars offers her version of a pagan prayer book that is light and offers itself as a guide, a foundation, a place to begin when we are learning our spiritual path.

I read through this as suggested and found many basics that will enable anyone new to the path to get a good handle on the actual practice of personal spirituality.  I found it bordered on Wiccan, but it can be adapted to fit just about any personal path.

The material includes daily rituals and personal exercises for building self esteem. “Mindfulness”, a term I’ve heard used in other  belief systems, is introduced into the pagan concept and there is a good meditation on “being in the moment”.

There are also chapters on Deities, work, dealing with sickness and health, and working everyday magick.

This is a nice book, but is very basic.  The beginner will see it as a possible starting point.  boudica

 

The Mysteries of Druidry
by Brendan "Cathbad" Myers

Well, as a Druid myself I have looked at the texts out there on Druidism and been sorely disappointed.  At one end of the spectrum are the excellent works by such people as Isaac Bonewits, Philip Carr-Gomm and other such noted Druids.  They are packed full of information, dense with it, and as a result of that, they tend to lose the audience since most of they write about is beyond the average reader. 

At the other end of the spectrum are the popular books on Druidism which are good for use in paper-mache; works like 21 Lessons of Merlin and other such landfill fodder. 

There has not been a book to successfully bridge the two ends, making a good book that has lots of information which has the potential to become popular because of how that information is presented to the reader.  That is, until now. 

Make no mistake, I have known Cathbad from a list we were on together and I have spent many hours reading his articles on that list and off.

 He is an extremely knowledgable man and I consider him one of the contemporary masters of Druidism.  In this book, he brings his formidible knowledge to those who wish to know what he knows. 

What emerges in this book is a snapshot of what the Druids could be now, and might have been in the distant past.  He uses myth and story to construct possible rituals that the Druids could have performed.

He shows how the myths fit together and what principles the Druids and Celts could have lived their lives by.  He uses all this and then he admits that he is constructing from what he has been able to assemble in years of study, not that this is the only way or that this is THE way.  He is very clear in saying that this is only an extrapolation based on what we do know. 

But, oh boy, what an extrapolation.  I found myself amazed with the contents of this book.  Everything I had discovered through my studies with one group and on my own, things that I had thought were unverified personal gnosis (UPG's) and guesses, were upheld and expanded upon.  It was really an exciting revelation for me. 

But I was also able to learn a lot.  I have studied the myths of the Druids of Ireland, and I thought I understood them, but Cathbad was able to  reinterpret those same myths and give me a different understanding of what was happening and what the story meant.  He took me on a mythic tour of the seasons and explained those holidays with a sensitivity one would find only in someone who lived with the Land day in and day out as our ancestors did when they struggled to grow food for themselves.  Reading this I began to wonder where his time machine was. 

The ONLY quibble I have with this book is the text and typesetting itself.  The publisher saw fit to break each page into two columns of text, like a newspaper.  The problem here is that the size of the book doesn't justify doing this.  It's a standard "trade paperback" size, approximately 9 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches.  That gives a reading area of about 8 3/4 inches by 5 3/4 inches, and given that size, it is not a strain to read across the entire page at one time.  This is why this technique is normally reserved for large volumes, more than 15 inches tall and 9 or more inches wide. 

In fact, breaking this into columns made it harder to pick out the quotes Cathbad uses in his text.  Normally a quote is indented in the text about 5 characters.  Given that this layout mandated less than half a page of room per column, the quotes would be indented maybe 2 characters.  This is not enough of a visual difference for most people to notice that indentation, making the qoute look like part of the regular text.  I expected that the publisher would itallicize the quotes to set them off, but they don't.  And when a picture is dropped into the text, they plunked it down right in the middle of the columns.  This shoves the flow of the words to tiny little one inch space on either side of that picture, making it very hard to read. 

New Page would have done better to leave the text flowing across the page. 

But, for this work as a whole, I must give it 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

There is nothing like it on the market that I have seen.  There is finally a work on the market that takes a serious look at Druidism for the 21st centruy and teaches the old way in a manner that new Druids can understand and participate in. 

This book IMMEDIATELY goes on my "recommended reading" list.

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"

 

Spell Castings: Practical Magick for Daily Life
by Sister Moon

It's never a good sign when I can sit down and read and complete a review in two hours.  

Such is the saga of this book.  I picked it up and started reading it, and finished it less than an hour later.  How is this possible you may ask?  I skipped massive sections of this book, mainly because they were all the same as all others. 

Put simply, this is a spellbook.  It is nothing but a spellbook.  The subtitle on this book is "Practical Magick for Daily Life", but from the spells I read, it's not practical. 

Take for instance the spell "Bee Happy". 

    "Magickal Intention: This is a spell to cure the sting from a bee.

(If you are allergic to bees, seek medical attention immediately.)

    Time: Anytime 

    Tools:  One yellow candle, High Meadows oil, Healing incense, Tobacco chew in a can, and a Band-Aid 

    Instructions:  Anoint the candle with High Meadows Oil.  Light the candle and the incense.  Pull out the stinger if one is remaining.

Chew the tobacco and cover the sting with the tobacco, to the thickness of a quarter of an inch.  Cover with the Band-aid.  Recite the incantation over the sting.  If you find the bee, bury it near a tree so it can return to the earth next year. 

    Incantation:

    This bee that stings and leaves the pain
    I reject the poison of the slain,
    Chewed tobacco with spit and fire,
    Release the pain and swelling acquired
    So mote it be."    

Okay, got all that?  I started checking and apparently there is a whole complex recipe for the High Meadows Oil, and another for the Healing Incense, that is if you haven't made it before hand.

Considering that there are something like 50 separate oils and about 25 or so incense recipes.  Now, what is the likelihood that you will have this stuff on hand should you happen to need it?  I would say not likely. 

So, you just got stung by a bee.  So now you run into the house, pull out the stinger and set up your altar.  Then you anoint the candle with the oil you might have (and if not you have to make it which requires specific times to "brew" them) and light the incense (see comments for the oil).  Say, it's been about 20 minutes or so.  Then pull out the tobacco and chew it and put it on the sting and cover it with the band aid. 

Cool.  So it took about 20 to 25 minutes to use the folk remedy of putting the tobacco on it.  Then you repeat this incantation, about 18 minutes after you should have already had the tobacco on the wound drawing out the poison. 

So here is a ritual that is so overly complex as to be useless. 

Now, this is just one sample.  There are literally hundreds of spells in this book.  Average is about one spell every page and a quarter.

There are 239 pages.  Which equates to about 200 spells or so (no I didn't do the math on this one, I'm saying approximately).  All of them are this brief, this descriptive, and all of them require materials that may or may not be on your shelf.  About an eighth of the spells are for quick use like this one is supposed to be.  The rest are the type you can prepare for ahead of time. 

The chapters are "color coded" to help you determine which spell to cast.  And the associations to the colors do tend to follow the classical associations, red for passion and sex, green for money, white for cleansing and purity, black for negativity, so on and so forth.  There's even a quick appendix telling you what your spell's color is. 

At the back are the appendixes, all six of them.  The first four are just a page or two, short additions to the text.  The fifth and sixth are the large ones, the recipes for the oil and the incense respectively.  No where does it say how to make these recipes or what process there is to blend the ingredients, it is just a listing of what goes into each oil and incense.  The implication is that one must cook the oils or the incense (it says "time to brew" in the text, telling you when the appropriate time to make this would be).  So in order to make these, you would need instructions from another book.

In fact, in the "How to use this book" it says "You can always make your own incenses, oils, and such, but that's a book in itself."  She never references a book on how to do this.  In fact, there are no references in here whatsoever. 

The Introduction is three pages.  On the first page was my VERY first objection to this book; the classic injunction that ALL magick is subject to the Wiccan Rede and the Law of Three.  This statement made me want to throw this book across the room.  Then there are "The seven laws of magick" which imply things, instead of stating them as a Law should.  Things like "The Law of Perfect Balances which implies that you should not be overly invested in one thing", or "The Law of Devotion which enables you to embrace your craft and life purpose while honoring your Deities". I read these and went "Say what?"  I've never heard of these suggestions and ways of acting and being as laws before. 

Two pages later we start the spell section.  So we have 5 pages of author notes that are supposed to tell us how to use this book and explain the book, give us instructions for taking the rituals and ceremonies in the book and applying them in our lives, and then we have 224 pages of spells with little context or instructions for use. 

However, this could be a useful book to a Witch who has been practicing for a while.  One who knows that the God is not required to do these relatively simple rituals and who understands the principles behind spellcasting and can automatically add those elements to these spells.  One who can see that even when the spell is somwhat devotional and the God must be called upon, that she does not have to call upon the three faces of the God (listed in this book as  the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit.  Yes, I checked this three times).  There have been times I didn't want to have to write up a spell from scratch to catch a thief or to help me get a raise.  So from a convenience point of view, it could be useful. 

But my fear is that some new practitioner is going to buy this book without any other and be totally and utterly lost as to what to do.  I know when I first started out I bought a spellbook or two and didn't understand all the stuff I had to do behind the scenes to cast a spell, and this book forcibly reminds me of those books.

Correspondences, planetary hours, recipes for potions, folk remedies which are mixed in with chanting and theatrical nonsense (in my opinion) all combine to make me think this is the modern recreation of "The Complete Book of Magic And Witchcraft". 

Because of this, I'm only giving this book 2 stars out of 5.  I did not grade it lower because it may be of use as a reference work for those who have been doing this for some time, and who can ignore the bias and inaccurate information in the beginning of this book.  I don't think this is a book that anyone with less than 2 years in active witchcraft practice should be using, only because it is incomplete and misleading and would confuse them.  So while there are many other books out there that does what this book does and does it much better, it may be something an experienced Elder would want to have on their shelf.

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"