stellarmagicsm

Avalonia is proud to announce that STELLAR MAGIC by Payam Nabarz is now
available for pre-order from www.avaloniabooks.co.uk. This long-waited and very
practical Liber Astrum is being released on the Full Moon – 7 / 7 /2009.

More info & Order Information

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STELLAR MAGIC

By Payam Nabarz

Avalonia 2009, RRP £12.99

PB, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1905297252

The stars have influenced mankind with their magic from time
immemorial, as evidenced by Archeoastronomy; instructing astrologers
and priests, guiding sailors and inspiring poets. For millennia,
cultures all around the world have told their myths and legends
through the canvas of the night sky. Yet despite the immense
significance of the constellations and stars in the ancient world,
stellar magic has been largely ignored in recent centuries.

In this inspirational and practical Liber Astrum, the author draws
together material from ancient, classical and medieval sources;
spanning East and West, fusing modern poetry with ancient magic,
mysticism with myth and ritual with recital to lift our gazes back to
the heavens.

The author’s breadth of scholarship is seen in the spectrum of
material he weaves together, from sources as diverse as the Hymns of
Orpheus and Plato’s Timaeus to the Zoroastrian Yasht hymns and Persian
Pahlavi Texts, the Sufi works of the Ibn Arabi and Rumi; from the
Chaldean Oracles and the Greek Magical Papyri to the Books of Ezekiel
and Enoch, from the Picatrix and the Sefer Yetzirah to the works of
John Dee, Rudolf Steiner, Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley. The
poetic inspiration of the stars is also expressed through material and
ideas by such luminaries as John Milton, Gerald Manly Hopkins, Sylvia
Plath, Robert Graves and W.B. Yeats.

Through the enchanting words and ceremonies provided to lead the way,
timeless journeys to the stars are woven around the participants.
Included amongst the rites are ceremonies with the constellations of
Perseus & Andromeda, Cygnus, Orion, the Pleiades, the Great Bear,
Draco, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the star Sirius, the Moon, the
seven classical Planets, and the Stellar World Cave: the Mithraeum.

This is a highly accessible, succinct and practical book on a complex
subject, which will benefit anyone interested in the magic of the
stars, from the casual observer of the night skies to the dedicated
magician or mystic.

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http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/titles/stellar_magic2.htm

The Flowering Rod: Men and their Role in Paganismby Kenny Klein

reviewed by Herbwoman for the Esoteric Book Review

In recent years it seems men have had some catching up to do.  Confused with their role in Wicca and Paganism, many are working to overcome conditioning and accept the importance of the feminine, be it divine, in women, or in themselves.  Although some writers like Robert Bly with his Iron John story and accompanying tales have sought to define male spirituality positively within nature, it really needs practising pagan and Wiccan men to come forward and express their feelings and insights.  Enter Kenny Klein and this very enjoyable book.

This book clearly defines its aims and then fulfils them – a worthy goal for any book!  The book divides into four sections.   The first is the introduction, where he introduces himself and qualifies his perception of Wicca and paganism, laying the foundations for the book – essential for such a topic as this.  Then he moves into the second section, entitled Living in the Circle, which is a slightly misleading title, as it would have been more appropriate to call it something like Male Myths and Magic in the Cycles of Nature, which is essentially what this section is about, covering the legends and folklore of European paganism. From the oak and holly kings to antlers and barley, this is all good, solid, in the earth paganism.

Section three is entitled ritual, and journeys through the pagan Wheel of the Year with ceremonies for men to hnour the god, themselves and nature.  The ceremonies draw from the same European roots which Wicca grew from, and that is a real plus here, there is no culturally acquires Indian chakras or Native American chants, which may be nice but are simply not relevant.  The final section is called The circle Continues, and provides resources and appendixes as well as looking at the role of the gay movement in devleoping male pagan spirituality.  This information is relevant mainly to an American audience, as this is the perspective of the author.

All in all an enjoyable and very useful read, which I thoroughly recommned to anyone wanting to explore and develop their perceptions of men and the masculine in paganism.

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.


Dear All,

We hope you are having a fantastic Walpurgis Night!

Of course this is one of the oldest festivals in the British Isles, which was originally one of the great Druidic feast days. An idea we touched upon in our book “Wicca Magickal Beginnings” when we were looking into the origins for the eight festivals which are now usually referred to as “The Wheel of the Year”:-

“Although Murray attributed these Sabbaths to witches’ celebrations, in fact they were originally linked to druids. Robert and William Chambers recorded an early occurrence of the celebration of the four great festivals in their 1842 work, Chambers Information for the People:

“Cormac, bishop of Cashel in the tenth century, records that in his time four great fires were lighted up on the four great festivals of the druids – namely in February, May, August, and November: probably Beltane and Lammas were two of these.”

This is an extremely significant reference which seems to have been largely overlooked. The text the Chambers are referring to is in fact the late ninth century Irish Psalter of Cashel, which contained reference to the four great Sabbats being celebrated by the druids as a cycle. This then gives us a clear precedent for celebration of the cycle of the four great Sabbats more than one thousand years ago by the Irish druids.”

[ Wicca Magickal Beginnings, Sorita d’Este & David Rankine, Avalonia, www.avaloniabooks.co.uk ]

So if you are doing something to mark this festival you are treading a path of celebration which is truly ancient. Many of the folk traditions were preserved through folk customs, such as beating the bounds, dancing the maypole, divinations for love, many stories of phantoms and faeries (hinting at the thinning of the veils at Beltane, as it does at Samhain. Many customs celebrate using greenery and flowers – such as the many Jack in the Green and Green Man festivals. This year (weather permitting as we have a toddler!) we will be making our way to the Green Man of Clun Festival – http://www.clungreenman.org.uk/ for details. It looks like it will be great fun and certainly we have heard great things about it from friends who have been.

I will also be going out in the morning to gather herbs and dew to use in magical workings during the coming year. Fingers crossed for a sunny morning as the fields around here are all very muddy with all this rain already!

This year the Ludlow Esoteric Conference is also taking place in May, albeit later in the month, it is essential for those of you haven’t yet booked tickets to do so now as it is all done the old fashioned way – ie. Sending in a letter and cheque. Details can be found at http://esotericconference.wordpress.com/ – This will be first year that I will be speaking at this great event – other speakers include both David Rankine and Stephen Skinner – so this is an event which is a must for those of you who are seriously interested in the grimoire traditions. Details of other speakers and the topics can be found on their site.

Speaking of websites, we have been very busy this month at Avalonia. Our latest title “Visions of the Cailleach” has been received with great excitement all around the world by lovers of Celtic Mythology and spirituality, as well as those who are wise to the wisdom and magic to be found in the stories of the Crone Goddess of the British Isles. Details of this book can be found at http://cailleach.avalonia.co.uk – including a couple of extracts from the book.

Some of you may remember us announcing the release of “Priestesses Pythonesses & Sibyls” back in December. This book which contains essays by more than twenty modern day priestesses of a variety of traditions is already being adopted as a standard text by many covens and groups who practice trance and mediumship. Someone made a comment to me earlier this week about the sheer quantity and quality of the experience contained in the book and inspired me to work out an estimate of the combined number of years the ladies who wrote for the book had between them. Its only an estimate as you never ask a lady her age of course (if you read Visions of the Cailleach you will know why!) …. but the total is an estimated 500 years! (YES FIVE HUNDRED YEARS!!! HALF A MILLENIUM, FIVE CENTURIES!) Maybe that is one way of expressing the sheer level of knowledge contained in this incredible anthology? Details of the contributors, with biographies can be found at http://pythoness.avalonia.co.uk

Of course we continue working hard at fulfilling our aims of “Expanding the Esoteric Horizons”. In the coming months we are releasing several exciting titles. This includes a very exciting book on the Goddess Hekate, entitled “HEKATE LIMINAL RITES”. This book brings together evidence for historical rituals, ceremonies, spells and devotional workings which were performed in Hekate’s name. As such it is unique amongst the books published to date about this popular Goddess of Crossroads and Sorcery. Details will soon be available.

We all love bargains – and just until the end of this weekend we are offering three of our titles at huge discounts in celebration of both Beltane and our fourth year of publishing – see http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk/beltane09.htm for details. Its a good excuse to try something new that you may otherwise not have done – and Beltane is a great time for trying new things.

Well, its getting late and I have to get up early in the morning!

Enjoy yourselves in the coming days, and remember to honour the union of opposites in yourself, as well as in the world around you – through doing that you can manifest wisdom, harmony and love for yourself and your loved ones in the coming year!

Blessings,
Sorita d’Este

http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk

Wiccan Mysteries: Ancient Origins & Teachings

Raven Grimassi

published by Llewellyn

PB, 294pp, $16.95

reviewed by John Canard

When I started to read this book I resolved to keep an open mind, even though the author quoted some expert sources like Robert Graves and Marija Gimbutas, the former being a notorious revisionist, and the latter also known for her agendas and tendency to rewrite the evidence to suit her theories.  He then begins by explaining that Wicca was essentially a mystery tradition derived from the Celtic religions, though often this passed down as oral (and thus conveniently unprovable) teachings.

Sadly in his eagerness to prove his point Grimassi makes statements which are quite frankly wrong and can be easily disproved with a minimum of research.  E.g.  he informs us that the ancients called the elementals by the names now commonly used, i.e. gnomes of earth, sylphs of air, salamanders of fire and undines of water.  In fact most modern concepts of elementals, including the ones he expresses, are derived from the classic work by Paracelsus, The Book of Nymphs, Sylphs, Pygmies and Salamanders and Kindred Beings, published in 1616.  The words Undine and Sylph were certainly not used in the ‘ancient world’, where there was no concept of the elementals beyond the elemental daimons suggested by Proclus.

The book does have some interesting ideas, and Grimassi clearly wants to expound on the theology and philosophy of Wicca as a mystery tradition, which is to be applauded.  However his tendency to rely on unreliable sources, and then start bringing in ideas like chakras and ley lines as being relevant due to their presence in mystery traditions, means this becomes a case of sorting out the wheat from the chaff, of which sadly there is quite a bit.

The chapter on the Magickal Arts has some interesting snippets, discussing ideas like odic force and informing, though his attribution of reduction sigils to the twentieth century magickal artist Austin Spare is a few centuries out, as they can be found in Agrippa’s sixteenth century Three Books of Occult Philosophy.  It is a shame that this tenth edition, published in 2008, did not take advantage of work that has been published since the book was first released in 1997, such as Triumph of the Moon by Hutton, Wicca Magickal Beginnings by d’Este and Rankine and Hidden Children of the Goddes by Clifton.  The research contained in such volumes does invalidate much of the material in this book, which is a shame because I wanted to like it, and could see that there are some good ideas in amongst the misinformation presented within.  The reason to read this book would be to test your ideas and knowledge, and provide a sounding board as to where you are at, with a few ideas that might be helpful thrown in, but for the beginner the level of faulty information means it should be avoided.

Priestesses, Pythonesses & Sibyls is the latest anthology to be released by Avalonia Books.  It is already causing a lot of excitement, so we are pleased to be able to include this announcement here on the Esoteric Book Review.

Priestesses, Pythonesses & Sibyls
Edited by Sorita d’Este, with 20 Phenomenal Women and modern day Priestesses

Available for order now at Avalonia Books (free P&P worldwide)

Priestesses Pythonesses Sibyls lifts a veil to reveal the mystery of trance as experienced by female magickal practitioners today. Through happiness and sorrow, myth and legend, art and poetry, through ritual and dance each woman expresses her own unique and personal transformative experiences of trance. Whether through trance possession, mediumship, Drawing Down the Moon, oracular or mantic states, dance, dreams or formal ceremony the experiences and knowledge gained during trance states can bring dramatic changes to one’s life. The practices represented in this volume are drawn from the experiences and research of more than twenty women from around the world, each providing a unique vision of their own experiences of the Divine.

The book begins with “Ecstatic Histories” a section of three scholarly essays. The first, Mantic Voices by Sorita d’Este provides an overview of the role of mantic priestesses in the major oracles of the ancient world, with a consideration of the resurgence of the role of the priestess in the modern Western magickal traditions. This is followed by Caroline Tully’s The Pythia exploring the history and role of the Oracle at Delphi and Kim Huggens’ Silent Priestesses which looks at female priests and prophetesses in early Christianity.

Then in “Sacred Utterances”, the second part of this anthology, eighteen modern day Priestesses, Pythonesses and Sibyls share their own personal experiences, wisdom and research on the practice of trance. These women come from a wide spectrum of magickal and pagan traditions, including Goddess Spirituality, the Western Mystery Tradition, Thelema, Wicca, Candomble, Voudou and Seidr. Sharing, sometimes for the first time, deep spiritual experiences and insights gained through the work they have performed as Priestesses serving in their own unique way, they provide the reader with insights into their practices which could not be found anywhere else.

This section includes essays by authors such as Janet Farrar, Naomi Ozaniec and Vivienne O’Regan, Wiccan Priestesses Galatea, Diane Champigny, Yvonne Aburrow, Emily Ounsted and Sorrell Cochrane, and Priestess of Avalon Jacqui Woodward-Smith. It also includes Seidr practitioner Katie Gerrard, Priestess of Apollo Bolina Oceanus, Cathryn Orchard a Priestess of the Gnostic Catholic Church, Voudou hounsi bossal Sophia Fisher, Healer and Psychic Medium Kay Gillard, Orixa devotee Andrea Salgado-Reyes, Teacher and Priestess Connia Silver, and dancers Mariëlle Holman and Nina Falaise.

Unique, powerful and insightful, this book expresses the liminal world of trance in an accessible way for the first time.

Available now from Avalonia Books

Beyond the Broomstick
Thoughts on the philosophy of Wicca
By Morgana

Introducing major concepts such as Polarity, the Triple Goddess, the God and the Elements; Morgana has presented Wicca in a friendly, easy-to-read manner.

This is an excellent primer for beginners but is also a handy source of information for the already interested, to learn more about what Wicca is rather than what it isn’t.

‘I remember writing the series with great enthusiasm, and I hope this enthusiasm continues to inspire newcomers to see the truly life-changing possibilities Wicca can offer. As a ‘religion of self expression’ I wish everyone an inspiring quest on this path called Wicca. I can only say – it is worth it!
Blessed be, Morgana.’

Morgana: Beyond the Broomstick * 100p. softcover
To order visit: Saga Whyte Press

Morgana is a Gardnerian Wiccan High Priestess and the International Coordinator of the Pagan Federation International, an international Pagan organisation. She is British and has lived in the Netherlands since 1974.

Over the years, she has facilitated a variety of Gardnerian Wiccan groups. She is co-editor of the international and bilingual magazine Wiccan Rede, which was launched in 1979, and together with Merlin, runs Silver Circle, a Wiccan network in the Netherlands.

Morgana travels extensively giving workshops. She represented the PFI at the World Parliament of Religions in July 2004 in Barcelona, Spain. In cooperation with the National Coordinator for PFI Turkey, she lead a PFI delegation in a cultural visit to Turkey in September 2005. She also gave workshops in Uppsala, Sweden, and Milan, Italy. In 2006 she visited Hungary and Bulgaria and represented PFI at the EU conference Intercultural Dialogue, Best Practices in Brussels, Belgium. In 2007 she presented Wicca Intensives in Turkey and Hungary, and lectured in France & Germany.

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