The Red Church

By C.R. Bilardi

———–

~review by David Rankine (originally at www.ritualmagick.co.uk )

When most of the books you read are for research, it is always a pleasure to read a good book which increases your knowledge of an associated subject which you have not had time to study.  Chris Bilardi’s The Red Church is an excellent example of this.  Subtitled “The Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei”, this book is a fascinating study of Pow Wow, the American Christian folk magic which grew from German roots.

The first part of the book provides a detailed analysis of the different European (predominantly German) religious movements which fed into the Braucherei, setting the scene and providing the provenance for the material.  The historical analysis is a vital part of providing the context for magical systems, so it was a pleasure to see such a through treatise which covered all the ground whilst holding the reader’s interest.

As a tradition which draws on the grimoires and Qabalah as well as its Biblical core, the practices are heavily religious, and Bilardi is not afraid to emphasise the importance of being a good member of the local Christian community, something which was key to magical practitioners of the grimoires, cunning-folk and other traditions as well.  It is good to see the debt that the Western Esoteric Traditions owe to Christianity as one of the driving forces of modern magic being acknowledged.  It has become unfortunately trendy in some areas to ‘bash’ Christianity as being anti-pagan, whilst reflecting those same prejudices, and also ignoring the fact that there is an inherent magic in the Bible and Christian practice which continues to be one of the most powerful magical currents in the world.

However this book is not purely about hisotry and philosophy, it is also packed with numerous examples of the charms and practices of Braucherei, drawn from the old texts like The Long Lost Friend and also from practitioners, which show very effectively how quickly practices can evolve and change through personal use and experience.  (As an aside, Dan Harms is working on a definitive volume on The Long Lost Friend which should be a welcome addition to this field).

All in all this is an excellent volume which should be of interest to a wide range of people, from magicians to folklorists, healers to historians, psychologists to pagans.  Chris Bilardi is to be congratulated on producing such a fine work.

Avalonia is proud to announce the The Book of Treasure Spirits, edited by David Rankine, will soon be joining the other excellent books by this author in our catalogue.  It will be available for pre-order from later this month from Avalonia, you can also ask your local occult shop to order a copy for you, or order from Amazon and other such online retailers.

treasurespirites

THE BOOK OF TREASURE SPIRITS
With Introduction & Commentary by David Rankine

Conjurations of Goetic spirits, old gods, demons and fairies are all part of a rich heritage of the magical search for treasure trove.  During the Middle Ages and Renaissance the British Monarchy gave out licenses to people seeking treasure in an effort to control such practices, and this is one reason why so many grimoires are full of conjurations and charms to help the magician find treasure. 

Published here for the first time, from a long-ignored mid-seventeenth century manuscript in the British Library (Sloane MS 3824), is the conjuration said to have been performed at the request of King Edward IV, with other rites to reveal treasure, to have treasure brought from the sea, and to cause thieves to bring back stolen goods.  Conjurations to call any type of spirit are also included, recorded by the noted alchemist and collector Elias Ashmole, as is an extract on conjuration practices from the Heptameron, transcribed into English for practical use by a working group of magicians, before its first English publication by Robert Turner in 1655.

These conjurations demonstrate the influence of earlier classic grimoires and sources, with components drawn from the Goetia, the Heptameron, and Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft. The material includes spirit contracts for the fallen angels Agares and Vassago, and the demon Padiel, as well as techniques like lead plates for binding, and summoning into a glass of water, which hark back to the defixiones of Hellenistic Greece and the demonic magic of the Biblical world.

This material forms part of a corpus of conjurations all written in the same hand and style of evocation, linking Goetic spirits and treasure spirits with the archangels and planetary intelligences (Sloane MS 3825), and demon kings and Enochian hierarchies (Sloane MS 3821), making it a unique bridge of style and content between what are often falsely seen as diverse threads of Renaissance magic. 
 

 Soon available from www.avaloniabooks.com

The Drums of Legenderry by John Orlando

Review by Herbwoman for the Esoteric Book Review

—————-

This book is available from http://www.legenderry.com where you can also find more information on the author, his writing and his drumming.

It took me forever to read this book, even though it has been sitting waiting for me to read I just didn’t for one reason or another.  So when I finally picked it up over the past weekend I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a very enjoyable and very much an unputdownable read!

The author’s style is quite naive in places, but that is part of the joy and besides this book is all about the story which is magical and mystical, mysterious and fun.

“The Rhythm Maiden bestows a marvelous gift upon the villagers of Legenderry, but mankind doesn’t seem to be ready.  Her son Jocco has special powers using illusions that he brings into play in resourceful ways.  Jocco’s brother, Shaedo, is a clever manipulator of shadows.  Together they trick people and also a destructive, young giant, but sometimes the tricksters get tricked themselves.  They ask Cornelius Pinty, a university graduate with a doctorate degree in elfin anthropology, to record the highlights of their adventures.  This written record, left in a time capsule, is the Drums of Legenderry”

This is a unique work of fiction which transports the reader into another world.  As such I would recommend it to all lovers of magical fiction!

DIY Totemism

By Lupa

Published by Megalithica Books

Review for the Esoteric Book Review by Nina Lazarus

“Are there totems beyond the Wolf, Bear and Eagle?” asks the author on the info on the back of this book.  Yes of course there is, any animal can be a totem and that is hardly a new idea.  We used to mess around with totems in the 1990′s from an indigenous to England point of view.  This book claims to be groundbreaking and it claims to go beyond the usual boundaries of working with Totems, so how does it measure up?  I like to test things against their claims to see if I can break them, so lets see.

In the foreword “Kelley Harrell” tells us that “lacking the grounding structure of a unified tribal tradition has set up a challing dynamic for the western seeker on an eclectic spiritual path”.  Yes indeed, and I would agree with Kelley here.  Many students seek a teacher, but because that is often a challenging path with difficulties in this modern world, they often end up turning to self-taught teachers who sometimes pass on misinformation and pop culture books, because that is a much easier option. 

The author starts the first chapter “Introduction” by drawing distinctions between “paganism” and “occultism” which are of course very different things and we agree with her.  Lupa goes on to say that it is her aim to reconcile these two philosophies.  Whether or not that is actually possible, I am not entirely sure, but that there is a middle ground to be achieved I would agree.  She is a very strong minded writer and that is clear from this book, and a strong mind and will is going to be necessary to bridge both these worlds, something I have only seen in a small group of magicians in my years.  And usually as they grow in knowledge in experience such people take one road or the other, learning that through specialisation they can gain a greater understanding of the world.

I like the clarity of definition in her writing.  She makes it clear early on in the book that it is a book about neopagan totemism.  This is great as it helps avoid confusion in the reader between the techniques, philosophies and ideas put forth in this book and the cultural totemism of some of the indigenous people of the Americas from which Pagans often draw for their ideas on these practices.

Her approach is similar to a group of Welsh Witches I know who research their animals themselves, rather than using “dictionaries” of animals and their meanings.  Something she advocates against (with the exception of the original book on this subject by Ted Andrews) and this is refreshing to see.

The approach to magic in the book borders onto Chaos Magick which was huge in the 80′s and 90′s making me wonder if Lupa is from that era, or whether she was born too late, or maybe that she is able to take the ideas behind it and run with it into the new millenium?  Certainly her approach is anything goes, try it and see – which I can live with.  She is also responsible in her approach, which is rare amongst some of the modern writers on magic, so for that I also applaud her.

DIY Totemism does what it says on the cover.  It is a new way of approaching the subject and as such I would recommend it to anyone interested in exploring the topic from a practical  perspective.   Likewise it would be a great introduction to the subject of working magic with animals for those new to the idea. 

A great find and a definite “keeper” which I hope to experiment with myself in the Summer.

We are proud to announce …

hekate_liminalrites

HEKATE LIMINAL RITES
A Study of the rituals, magic and symbols of the torch-bearing Triple Goddess of the Crossroads

By Sorita d’Este and David Rankine

PB, RRP £12.99, 196 pages, ISBN 978-1905297238


Available for pre-order from http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/titles/hekate_liminalrites.htm

First published by Avalonia, May 2009At the crossroads of life, death and rebirth stands the Goddess Hekate. Honoured by men, women and gods alike, traces of her ancient provenance reach back through the millennia providing clues about her nature and origins along the way. Depictions of her as three formed facing in three ways, sometimes with the heads of animals such as the horse, dog and snake hint at her liminal nature, as well as the powers she holds over the triple realms of earth, sea and sky.

The sorcery of Medea and Circe, the witchcraft of the women of Thessaly, the writings of philosophers such as Hesiod and Porphyry all provide glimpses into the world of those who honoured her. Her magical powers were considered so great that even King Solomon became associated with her, she was incorporated into Jewish magic, and merged with other goddesses including Artemis, Selene, Bendis and the Egyptian Isis. Whilst for some she was the Witch Goddess, for others she was the ruler of angels and daimons, who made predictions about Jesus and Christianity.

Wherever you look, be it in the texts of Ancient Greece and Rome, Byzantium or the Renaissance, the Greek Magical Papyri or the Chaldean Oracles, you will find Hekate. The magical whir of the strophalos and the barbarous words of the voces magicae carry her message; the defixiones, love spells and charms all provides us with examples of the magic done in her name. She was also associated with the magic of death, including necromancy and reanimation; as well as prophetic dreams, nightmares, healing herbs and poisons. The temples dedicated to her and the important role she played in the mysteries of Eleusis, Samothrace and Aigina all provide us with clues to her majesty. The popular shrines at the doorways of ordinary people, offerings left at the crossroads and guardian statues of her at the entrance ways to cities and temples all attest to her status in the hearts and minds of those who knew her mysteries.

In this book the authors draw from a wide range of sources, bringing together historical research which provides insights into the magical and religious practices associated with this remarkable Goddess. In doing so they provide an indispensable guide for those wishing to explore the mysteries of Hekate today.

See http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/titles/hekate_liminalrites.htm for further information, including a Table of contents.


elementalsmThis review of “Practical Elemental Magick” by David Rankine and Sorita d’Este recently appeared in “The Equinox – British Journal of Thelema”  – so we thought we would share.  Check out The Equinox here

Practical Elemental Magick
Working the Magick of the Four Elements in the Western Mystery Tradition

By Sorita d’Este and David Rankine

“This is a very impressive book from two prolific and respected occult authors.  The concept of Elemental Spirits is encountered frequently in occultism, but there has been until now no comprehensive guide to working with them.  I say comprehensive advisedly, for one of the great virtues of this book is it traces origins and alternatives very thoroughly, rather than laying down dogmatic rules with no background.  At the same time as offering in-depth information the book also retains considerable clarity.  The range of sources consulted is astonishing, and the work thus provides an invaluable resource for further research by the individual reader.  The material is usefully synthesised into a thoroughly workable practical system of magic; while offering sufficient alternatives for the reader who is so inclined to evolve distinct methodologies based on their own preferences.”

Note* Practical Elemental Magick is a companion volume to “Practical Planetary Magick” by the same authors.  Both these books are available from Amazon (USA / UK etc) and directly from the publishers http://avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/titles/elemental_magick.htm

Dear All,

Now that snow is once again descending upon the British Isles, upon
layers of snow and ice which has not yet cleared from the blanket of
white ice which fell down about a week ago… it is very clear that
Angus isn’t doing his Job!

Yes, that is right. I laughed at a friend who went out in the snow to
celebrate the return of Bride, nearly got themselves pneumonia, and
admitted after the whole ordeal that it might have been a bit
premature. Of course it was premature! Like I said, Angus hasn’t done
his job this year (well not yet) and that it is about time that Pagans
everywhere start re-examining their lore. The festival of Candlemas,
which has been dubbed Imbolc and Bride by many of us, should probably
more rightly be in honour of the Blue Hag of Britain. Forgotten by
some, ignored by others, The Cailleach is arguably one of the most
important figures of British lore which has survived in one form or
another from antiquity through to the present day.

So what am I on about? Who is The Cailleach and who is this Angus?
Here’s the story…

During the cold harsh months of Winter The Cailleach Beira had been
keeping the beautiful Goddess Bride captive, and forcing her to wash
her brown mantle white. Angus is the son of the Cailleach, and he saw
Bride in a dream, falling in love with her at once. During the Winter
months, Angus lived on the Green Isle of the West, this is a place
where it is always summery and warm. Even though it was Winter, Angus
borrowed three days from the month of August and used it to cast a
spell on the land and on the sea, so that the Sun shone and the
weather would be fine. This is why the first three days of February
is traditionally better weathered than the rest of the month …

This year, it is clear that Angus failed. As these days were days of
snow and ice, without a doubt.

What Angus should have done during those three days, is search for
and rescue the beautiful Bride. The stories tell us that she is
usually hidden somewhere in Ben Nevis, and Angus is a “prince on a
white horse” in the most literal sense, who helps her escape on the
back of his magnificent white horse. The Cailleach Beira then in
anger strikes the Earth with her magic wand causing it to freeze over
again, sending out her hag servants to scour the land for both Angus
and Bride. The young couple however usually escapes to the Green Isle
where they are safe from the Cailleach.

Missing his homeland of Scotland, Angus can’t help himself and crossed
the sea many times to his homeland. Whenever he returned home to
Scotland the Sun would shine and the birds would sing, but his mother
would raise storm after storm to drive him away. The first wind is
the Whistle, a high and shrill wind which brings down rapid showers of
hailstones for three days and kills many animals, the second is the
Sharped Biled wind to prolong her winter, lasting nine days piercing
the land. Upon the third time that he returns the Beira raises the
Sweeper which tears through branches and rips flowers from their
stalks as it sweeps the land. However, with Angus’ help the Sun grows
strong and growth returns to the land.

But Mother dearest manages to drive Angus back to the Summer Isles
again. The next time it is the Gales of Complaint, which scatters
food and fodder, prolonging Winter’s harshness into March. But Angus
fights back and drives his Mother’s Hags North, Mummy retaliates by
gathering all her Hags together and rides forth smiting the clouds
with her magic staff, bringing the Black Tempest with them. Now it
seems that Winter would last forever, but even the Beira has to rest
sometimes. So she pauses on a cliff top and the land becomes calm.
She them borrows three days from Winter to balance the three that
Angus stole from Summer, these manifest as tempest spirits riding
black hogs, and the Beira sets them free to wreak their devastation.

These three days which are known as the Hog Days freezes the land,
killing much in their devasting and unexpected ice. But eventually
the Cailleach can no longer fight the rising tide of life in the land,
plants and animals and the next time Angus attacks the Beira’s Hag
servants are scattered to all the directions and the Beira is forced
to flee. She throws her magic wand under a holly tree (explaining why
grass never grows under a holly) and whilst fleeing she drinks from
the Well of Youth and transforms herself into a stone to escape,
returning again with the onset of Winter when her power can fully
manifest.

Now the traditional day for her to turn to stone is the 25th of March
(Latha na Caillich) – which means we still have some time to go!
Supposing that Angus hasn’t forgotten about us mortals this year, and
that he isn’t instead enjoying a few extra weeks with his lovely Bride
on the Summer Isles instead!!

Whatever you do during these cold weeks, please make sure that you
stay safe and that you enjoy the warmth of those whom you love! Here
at Avalonia we are working towards the completion of a few projects,
which have been delayed by a few weeks due to a few personal matters
which had to take precedence during the last couple of months. Hence
the lack of a newsletter for the last couple of months too!
::::: Helene Hodge Obit
Regular readers of the Avalonia Newsletter may be interested to know
that Helene Hodge (PeacockAngel Incense) passed from this world in
December 2008. Helene was quite well known in London Pagan circles
for her enthusiasm about all things Goddess related, as well as for
her wonderful passionate zeal and love of all things “pongy”. There
is an obituary with a bit more information to be found at
http://www.peacockangel.com for those who remember Helene from events
in London, including regular attendance at Lapis Companions.

:::: Forthcoming from Avalonia in the next couple of months are:
1/ Visions of the Cailleach by Sorita & David Rankine – a little book
exploring the mythology, stories and magic of this British Hag Goddess
2/ A Collection of Magical Secrets, with introduction by Stephen
Skinner & David Rankine – this book contains spells, recipes and other
magical workings which formed a “Book of Secrets” bound with the MSS
which Skinner & Rankine published as part of their “Veritable Key of
Solomon”. The material should be of interest to both those interested
in the grimoire traditions, as well as those with an interest in
Traditional Witchcraft and “Kitchen” and “Hedge” Witchery, as the
overlap is phenomenal. The text was translated from the original late
18th Century French by Paul Harry Barron.
More information on the above can be found on
http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk – preorders will open soon, keep an eye
out for announcements on this list. (If you are reading this
elsewhere, join the mailinglist
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/avalonia_news/ to be kept up to date)
::::: Ludlow Esoteric Conference

The great news is that Stephen Skinner has just been confirmed as a
speaker for this year’s conference. Stephen is of course one of the
most reknowned and amazing modern occult writers, who published his
first book in the 1960′s and has not really stopped since then. (See
http://www.sskinner.com for details of his work). In recent years Stephen
has been writing with David Rankine, producing the “Sourceworks of
Ceremonial Magic” series of books, with classics such as the
“Practical Angel Magic of Dr John Dee’s Enochian Tables” and the
recently released “The Veritable Key of Solomon”. He also co-produced
books such as The Enochian Dictionary, Techniques of High Magic and
The Search for Abraxas. He rarely makes public appearances, so this
is very exciting stuff!

The Lineup for the Esoteric conference 2009:
Stephen Skinner… The Key of Solomon.
Nigel Pennick… Runes and Magic.
Sorita D’Este… Gerald Gardener and the Book of Shadows.
David Rankine… Demonology and the Grimiore Tradition
Geraldine Beskine… Progradier and the Beast.
Philip Heselton… Mothers of Wicca.

Tickets are expected sell out, and is great value for money at just
£15 for all six speakers! Free admission to the Book Fair (with many
occult bookshops and dealers, selling a plethora of new and second
hand, including rare and hard to find titles).

Here’s how to book a ticket (and this is the old fashioned way, no
online bookings available!):

Esoteric Conference and Occult Book Fair, which will be held at the
Assembly Rooms, Ludlow, Shropshire, on Saturday, 30th May 2009, 11am
to 6pm.

Tickets are £15 each available from:

P.O. Box 82, Craven Arms, Shropshire, SY7 8WG

Cheques payable to Verdelet please.

FFI email the online conference co-ordinator at: keltsrus@hotmail.com

::::::::::::::::::::::

Well lovely people, where ever you may be, I wish you a wonderful week
to come –  and if its here in the UK, a nice and warm one! Oh and when
you go out in this snow, please make nice with The Cailleach, make an
offering to her, or whisper something honouring her – and also please
encourage the Prince of the Summer Isles to bring us those three days
of Summer, so that we may see Bride released again and the hope of
Summer return to these Isles!!

Best wishes & Wintry Blessings,

Sorita d’Este
Monmouthshire, Wales

http://www.avalonia.co.uk
http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk
http://www.sorita.co.uk

Review: Rootwork: Using the folk magick of black america for love, money, and success
By Tayannah Lee McQuillar

Review by Kim Huggens

Rootwork (otherwise known as Hoodoo) is a subject that is quite difficult to find decent books about. A lot of the available literature is amateur and brief, giving the budding rootworker very little by way of intellectual resources. Sadly, “Rootwork” by Tayannah Lee McQuilllar is a prime example of this.

Numbering 141 pages and split into three sections, it took me just under an hour to read, so at least it wasn’t too much of a waste of my time. Luckily the book is also written in an easy, simple and approachable style, so “Rootwork” can be read without too much concentration. The three sections of the book are “Rootwork Basics”, “Elements of Rootwork”, and “Understanding Spells for Love, Money, and Success”. The first section deals with the history and development of Hoodoo, the nature of magic (yes, note my insistence on the lack of a ‘k’ at the end of the word…), and the beliefs of rootworkers. It is this section that I have the most problems with – firstly, McQuillar’s so-called history leaves much to be desired. She continually reminds the reader how important it is to understand the roots of Hoodoo and how it developed, yet only touches upon it briefly, giving absolutely no references for further reading or study. This leads me to believe that the historical account given in this book is over-simplistic and possibly inaccurate. McQuillar’s explanation for how magic works will also turn many a reader blue:

“No form of magick is based on logic – if it was, it would cease to be magick. There is no explanation for why spells work, but they do. All that is needed to work successfully with spells is patience, confidence, and faith. It is a completely illogical process that must be allowed simply to be. As soon as you try to analyze it, its power is lost.” ~ pp.11

Well, I read this paragraph to an Hermetic magician and he just laughed out loud. I have no doubt any magic practitioner from a wide variety of other traditions would have a similar reaction. I also have no doubt that another Rootworker would have a similar reaction. By virtue of the very fact that McQuillar has managed to write a book on the practice of magic in the Hoodoo tradition, she has contradicted her own statement! If it were a completely illogical process, it would be impossible for her to give the tables of correspondences that later form the second section of the book. And don’t even get me started on the nature of sympathetic magic – I have an overwhelming desire to beat McQuillar over the head repeatedly with the unabridged version of Frazer’s Golden Bough, not to mention the vast array of excellent studies on the nature of magic throughout history that highlight the logic in which magical practice moves. It is true that magic does not work in the same logic as science, but it nevertheless possesses its own very unique kind of logic.

The second section of the book, “Elements of Rootwork”, may come in handy for some people, depending on how much they already known about Rootwork. It covers the main items used in the practice, splitting them into the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. As such, some of it will undoubtedly be familiar to those who have spent some time working in the Wiccan tradition or Hermetic tradition – subjects such as using coloured candles, incenses, and moon water are covered and seem to be the basic stuff of $ilver Ravenwolf books. However, there are certain things covered that I found very useful and interesting: the use of earth taken from various locations (graveyards, courthouses, prisons, mountains…), how to interpret the flame of a candle as it burns, and (perhaps the most useful part of the whole book) recipes for various waters and baths.

This section also includes a list of commonly used talismans, herbs, and miscellaneous objects in Hoodoo practice, and – of great interest to me – the use of substances from the human body in magic. Such a practice goes back to the earliest examples discovered of a spell (ancient Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BCE), so it was extremely interesting to read how this is used in Rootwork. I was also surprised to find how similar the practice was to that as it was used originally all those centuries ago. Finally, divinatory methods of Rootworkers, including cartomancy, are covered, as well as communicating with the spirits of the dead and ancestors.

The third section is more of a grimoire than anything else – it gives dozens of Hoodoo spells for use by the reader. They are simple, and McQuillar says they have been slightly modified to better suit the lives of those who will be reading the book. Luckily she hasn’t dumbed the spells down, and they seem pretty traditional in most places. There are a couple I raised an eyebrow at, however, such as the “Pay Me Now!” spell to get back money owed to you. The effect of this spell is that the person who owes you money will lose things until they give that money back to you. Now, surely their losing items precious to them will do nothing but aggravate the cause of their not returning your money?!

Throughout the book there are references to black heritage and culture, and the author often refers to “we” and “our ancestors” from black Africa. “We are the descendants of the strongest [black African slaves], the ones that made it.” No, I’m not. I’m as white as they come, English, with fair hair and green eyes and I probably don’t have an ounce of black blood in me. I just happen to be interested in Hoodoo. I appreciate that we should understand the cultural heritage of the magical traditions we work with, but I really would also appreciate it if the magic was taken in its own stead, not simply as a way to big-up one’s heritage and oppressed culture. You don’t see books on Runelore and Seidhr magic talking about blonde haired, blue-eyed Aryans and the blood that we share with them, do you?

I also found there to be a great deal of conflicting information given in the book. On one page, for instance, we are told that when interpreting candle wax we should base our interpretation on our own personal feelings about the symbol – that it should not be interpreted by anybody else for us. Yet on the very next paragraph McQuillar recommends using a dream dictionary for symbol meanings, and on the next page gives a list of interpretations for the “ten most common” symbols!

Overall, I found this book extremely disappointing. My skepticism regarding it is heightened even further by the worrying minimalism of the bibliography – a grand total of four books grace the list. I greatly value the recipes for the waters and baths given in the book, and have no doubt that some of the spells and mojo bag recipes will come in handy, but frankly I could have got them for free off the internet. Which I hope is NOT what the author did.

Reviewer Bio:

Kim Huggens is a 24 year old Pagan Tarot reader and PhD student in the Ancient History Department of Cardiff University. She is the co-creator of “Sol Invictus: The God Tarot” (recently published by Schiffer Books) and the forthcoming “Pistis Sophia: The Goddess Tarot”. She has had recent work published in Horns of Power, edited by Sorita D’Este, and is the Editor of online Pagan magazine Offerings. When not getting orgasmic about ancient voodoo dolls and Sumerian cunieform writing, she works in a vetinary clinic, plays Dungeons and Dragons, and practices Vodou.

Review: The Enchanted Oracle by Jessica Galbreth
Llewellyn Publications, 2008
ISBN 978-0-7387-1410-3

Review by Kim Huggens

Anybody who’s been around the Pagan community for a while will probably be familiar with the fantastical, bewitching artwork of Jessica Galbreth. If not, you can check it out at her website. In Galbreth’s artistic vision,

“An enchanted place awaits, filled with gossamer fairies and haunting deities.
A place where enchantresses weave their spells beneath the light of the full moon, and faeries dressed in their finery stand pensively before gothic arches and twisted trees.”
(from the artist’s website.)

A great number of people love her artwork, so it should come as no surprise to discover that Llewellyn have this month released an oracle deck filled with it: The Enchanted Oracle. Sadly, most of the artwork for the deck was created well before the deck was even a twinkle in its creator’s eye, with only a couple of pieces being painted specifically for it. For me this is an instant turn-off in a Tarot or oracle deck, though less so for an oracle since there is less traditional symbolism and meaning to work around. However, as soon as I picked up the deck I realized that whilst the cards were beautiful and sumptuous, filled with beauty and splendour, they just weren’t speaking to me. I could sit and stare at “Celtic Witch” for ages and not get any divinatory meanings from the image or the card title. Luckily, Llewellyn’s stock-in-trade Tarot companion book author, Barbara Moore (also the author of books for the Mystic Faerie Tarot, Gilded Tarot, and Mystic Dreamer Tarot) has written an accompanying book. In this book she really squeezes symbolism out of the card images:

“The orange jewel of her headpiece is attached with many cords, showing that she intentionally weaves enthusiasm and joy through her life.”
~ pp.100, “Gypsy Rose”

The 36 cards of this deck don’t explicitly deal with the main areas of life like most other oracle decks do. Instead, they are given exotic, mysterious names that ooze fantasy: Dragon Witch, Dark Enchantment, Gothic Rose, Crimson Moon… The images are pretty, the titles very cool, but this deck really requires the book to read effectively.

From taking a quick look at the cards it is clear who the target audience of this deck is. There are no fat people, no old women (even in cards where crones should probably be present), and very few men. Every single faery, sorceress, and gothic mermaid is young, stunningly attractive, with huge breasts that defy both gravity and anatomy. These faeries may indeed weave their enchantments in a magical realm, but they’re doing it with extreme back pain. And here we have a supreme example of “fantasy artwork”.

As a set this deck would make a wonderful gift, especially for the younger female who is still in the dabbling phase of witchcraft and Paganism. The book is really an asset to the deck in this way: every card is accompanied by an enchantment, charm, journalling exercise, visualization, or spell. They are the kind of small magics you’d find in a teenage witch spellbook, with titles such as “A Little Glamour Never Hurt”, “Healing Waters”, and “What Colour is your Karma?” They are mere curios to a serious student of magic, but would be fun and positive for somebody just beginning. They are also all aimed at putting the power to change in the hands of the reader – again, something that can only be seen as positive.

The set comes with an “enchanted faery pendant” that can be (apparantly) used as a pendulum or charm. What it actually is, is a tiny metal pendant of Disney’s Tinkerbelle, with pink glittery wings. The deck is also accompanied by a silvery-grey organza bag for storage, which adds to the set’s beauty as a gift.

Overall, the Enchanted Oracle is very pretty, and is a great showcase of the artist’s work. It’s not a serious deck for study however, or for anybody with an allergic reaction to faery princesses. However you may criticize it for being too “fluffy”, though, we have to bear in mind that to do so would be akin to going to Burger King and ordering a Double Bacon Cheeseburger, then complaining because its’ not haute cuisine.

Reviewer Bio:

Kim Huggens is a 24 year old Pagan Tarot reader and PhD student in the Ancient History Department of Cardiff University. She is the co-creator of “Sol Invictus: The God Tarot” (recently published by Schiffer Books) and the forthcoming “Pistis Sophia: The Goddess Tarot”. She has had recent work published in Horns of Power, edited by Sorita D’Este, and is the Editor of online Pagan magazine Offerings. When not getting orgasmic about ancient voodoo dolls and Sumerian cunieform writing, she works in a vetinary clinic, plays Dungeons and Dragons, and practices Vodou.

Qabalah

The Book of Enoch

The Book of Watchers

With Introduction by Steven Ashe

Available from www.glastonburybooks.com – Lore of the Fallen Angels

Review by Soror Chamos for the Esoteric Book Review

This is a standard Book of Enoch with a short introduction by the author Steven Ashe.  It is produced as a paperback in quite a large font, making it easy to read.  At a RRP of £7.77 this is a value for money modern edition which will provide a keen student with a readable copy of the book.

For those who are unfamilar with The Book of Enoch, here is the description from Glastonbury Books’ website:

The Book of Enoch, written during the 2nd century B.C.E., is one of the most important non-canonical apocryphal works and probably had a huge influence on early Christian beliefs.
208 pages/size – 6″ x 9″

The Book of Enoch describes the fall of the Watchers who fathered the Nephilim. The fallen angels then went to Enoch to intercede on their behalf with God. The remainder of the book describes Enoch’s visit to Heaven in the form of a vision, and his revelations. The Book of Enoch, written during the second century B.C.E., is one of the most important non-canonical apocryphal works, and probably had a huge influence on early Christian, particularly Gnostic, beliefs. Filled with hallucinatory visions of heaven and hell, angels and devils, Enoch introduced concepts such as fallen angels, the appearance of a Messiah, Resurrection, a Final Judgement, and a Heavenly Kingdom on Earth. Interspersed with this material are quasi-scientific digressions on calendrical systems, geography, cosmology, astronomy, and meteorology.

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