Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Over? A book about stuff
by Collen A’Miketh
reviewed by Nina Lazarus for the Esoteric Book Review

Let me start by saying this is an interesting book.  Although the title attempts (and fails) to be funny (WTF = What The F—k), and the cover tells us it is a humorous book in places, it did not make me laugh.  It did however make me nod with agreement in places, and gave me cause to appreciate the depth of experience and ideas that have been put into this work.  Put in simple terms, this is basically a book about the principles of chaos magic without all the pseudo-science that so often detracts from the underlying concepts.  The author encourages the reader to apply their magick as action rather than reaction, and from this premise the book evolves.
The discussion of paradigms, realities, data streams, sigils and personality modification make the chaos flavour of the book clear.  However refreshingly the discussion is much more accessible and less irritating than many other chaos magic books which are much less grounded in reality than this one.  Of course in true chaos magic style, other systems get a look in, like the ubiquitous Wheel of the Year, which seems to have become the workhorse of modern paganism, without people ever really doing much with it, and poker hands as a comparison with magick (classic pub discussion chaos magick there).
I also have my criticisms of the book, which are more niggles really.  I dislike the use of the term pentacle for the pentagram, a common terminology error these days, as is the inappropriate use of the term grimoire.  I also found the pathworking irritating and self-indulgent.  Nonetheless overall I have to say this is a worthwhile volume, and should be read by people after they have been studying for a year or two, to encourage them not to get too set in their ways early on their path.

Dedicant: A Witch’s Circle of Fire
Thuri Calafia
published by Llewellyn
PB, 342pp, US$19.95
reviewed by John Canard

This book joins the ever-growing collection of books for newcomers, the first in a series to work through the four stages of initiation up to third degree (the fourth book). I started working through the book with an open mind, not wishing to be prejudiced as there are some very good introductory books on the market, and I wanted to determine if this was one of them. It quickly became clear that this is a book of what I would call neo-Wicca, i.e. the religious version of Wicca that has moved away from its ceremonial magickal roots and embraced the accreted material of Robert Graves and others. This was demonstrated by the reference in the first chapter to the Greek goddess Hecate as being the archetype of the crone. Moving straight into the beginning of the second chapter, we find that wicca comes from the root “to bend or shape”, another inaccuracy found in books by people who haven’t done their research. And Gerald Gardner did not bring the word Wicca to light as the author claimed, it was widely used for many centuries prior to Gardner. I had hoped that anyone setting themselves up as a teacher would have got past this sort of rehashed mistake by now, but it seems there is still a lot of education needed in the pagan world.
The author also makes one of the most outrageous and offensive heterophobic remarks I have seen in a book for a while, though it may appeal to some politically correct types. The author claims that many or indeed most homosexuals and bisexuals are naturally more balanced in terms of male/female energy because being with people of the same gender can bring out a strong sense of the opposite within. She notes here that she is a lesbian/bisexual – which is nonsense, if you are bisexual and have a relationship with a person of the same sex, it doesn’t suddenly make you homosexual, it just means you are bisexual!
Moving on to the section ongetting started we are told “In the Burning Times, it was customary to keep the grimoire in your own hand of write”. Please! The Burning Times is a bit of nonsense propaganda which has been disproved numerous times by proper research, and the people usually espoused as being the poor persecuted witches were usually illiterate! This is followed by the chakras, an Eastern accretion that has now seemingly become standard Wicca. Likewise the appendix which reproduces the Rede of the Wicca with the statement that there are many forms of the Wiccan Rede is perpetuating more nonsense – there is one Wiccan Rede, and only one – An it harm none, do as ye will.
As a general introductory book, this book does cover all the basics, and would be suitable for somebody new to paganism who wants to follow the religious polyglot that Wicca seems to have become for many. It is a shame that there are some glaring errors based on the reproduction of old mistakes amongst the text, requiring a discrimination that newcomers will not commonly have. Hopefully such errors will not occur in the subsequent books in the series.

Divine Comedy of Neophyte Corax and Goddess Morrigan  by  Payam Nabarz  © 2008,  Web of Wyrd,   ISBN:  978-09556858-0-4  64 pages  Paperback Printed   £8.88 or £6.66 download.

Here are four reviews of this book:

1.  A Raven Review!4
A review from Amazon.com and Silver Star magazine By Robert C. Carey:

A very deep, funny and clever play involving the complicated relationship between the goddess and her reincarnating raven, and cheerfully exploring all the mythologies which have played through the history of the British Isles: Mithraic and Druidic and Christian, Norse and Shamanic and Qabalistic, Thelemic and Vodou and Tantric. Mystery plays once edified the illiterate populace, today we have bad movies… perhaps it is time for a change. Wit can actually make people think! Illustrated with a series of lovely photos by the author.

2. Review by Mike Gleason:

This is a strange little play, or series of plays, with a unique view of the Wheel of the year.  In a truly ecumenical spirit the protagonist is a Mithraic neophyte, the Goddess is Celtic, and the supporting cast is drawn from the animal world and the worlds of mythology in all its varied aspects. 

I have attended a number of mystery plays (in the religious sense) over the years.  I have read others.  This comedic offering, by a Persian-born member of the OBOD and the Pagan Federation is, without doubt, the most entertaining.  It does not skimp on symbolism, nor on knowledge revealed.

 It is easy to read, and thoroughly enjoyable on multiple levels.  You don’t need extensive knowledge of the associated mythologies (a sign of an effective mystery play).  Whatever you are looking for, you are sure to find it (and more), much as Corax discovers during his journey through the year.

This is profundity disguised as absurdity.  It is funny and enjoyable.  It is lightweight with serious underpinnings.  In other words, it is a good value.  Pick up a copy and enjoy it.

 

3. Review by Merry Meet Magazine issue 34, Autumn 2008:

This is an enjoyable and amusing comedic romp through the many facets of eclectic paganism in the form of “dialectic plays”, using the Greek method of “Socratic Dialogue” or the Irish “Druidic Colloquy”, according to the blurb.

The reader follows the metaphysical adventuring of Corax, who has the, shall we say, somewhat mixed blessings of being initiated by the Goddess Morrigan in the form of a raven (perhaps not for nothing is
the collective noun for an assemblage of the genus corvus referred to as `an unkindness’!

There is much hilarity in this satirical look at contemporary alternative spiritualities, which nevertheless is impressive in its grasp of the importance of exploring metaphysical approaches to life in an age when our planet is beleaguered with a mainstream orthodoxy so deeply routed in the `here-and-now culture of short term physical gain at the expense of future generations. I quote from a passage in which Corax is unwilling to be reborn innocently into another stage of earthly existence:

“What if this time, I forget your signs and do not recognise you goddess? What if I walked the earth without recognising the sounds of birds as the music of the heavens. What if I forget I ever had wings! What if I swim in the sea and forget it’s where all life on earth comes from or breathe the air and forget that every breath is god sent. What if I only saw a lifeless rock instead of the goddess Luna or a just nuclear reaction when I look at the sun? Instead of proclaiming your beauty, and remembering circular time, I might be
caught in the linear time, filled with greed to consume time. Take each grain of the sand of time and squeeze every atom out of it, consume everything in my path, dig mines deep into your body, and suck the black blood of our dinosaur ancestors to move my metal coffin, and pay for it in red blood of our distant brothers or sisters. What if I become a destroyer and enslave life, and follow a `one true way’ and slay anything that doesn’t conform to my `one way’ …The stakes are too high…”

An excellent book, though it would have benefited greatly from a far more rigorous regime of proof reading.

Recommended.    -Merry Meet Magazine issue 34, Autumn 2008.

4. Review by Bish, Druid Network:

I was tempted to keep the review short in order to match the book, which only runs to some fifty pages. But the quality of a work is not reflected only in its page numbers. The Divine Comedy (I shall, um, cut short the full title) is a play, generally between two protagonists, Corax and Morrigan – Corax being a seeker after the wisdom of the gods and Morrigan, of course, being such a one. The story runs through the traditional year, poking fun at Corax with some ‘in jokes’ and pagan related situation comedy as he attempts to gain knowledge from the goddess of war, death, change and justice.

The advertising for this work suggested a similarity with that of Terry Pratchett, but I suspect there’s more of a bond between it and the late great Douglas Adams (who of course was a playwright and radio scripter as well as an author). The lines work best when read out aloud than simply read, and it would indeed make an interesting play for BBC Radio’s 4 or 7. The layout is that of a traditional play, with scene descriptions and narration, and paragraphs for each actor’s lines………Some of the descriptions are very contemporary (does anyone still use Lynx body spray?) and the language is often that of the street, which will appeal to the younger reader – and this is where I think the play is aimed. Elements of many pagan traditions are brought into play (ouch, pun alert, sorry) and although a deeper understanding of some of the traditions will only help the reader, nearly everyone will be sufficiently familiar with the situations and players to get by.

It would not be fair to reveal much of the plotline in such a tale, but I did enjoy a scene entitled ‘an eclectic pagan’s near death experience’ which asked the question as to just where an eclectic ends up, and in the company of which gods?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.