Book Review of the first book by VIKKI BRAMSHAW, entitled “Craft of the Wise” ~ ‘A practical guide to Paganism and Witchcraft’.

By Agrotera, Mistress of the Wild Animals and Beasts

I wasn’t really in the mood for reading yet another book on Pagan Witchcraft and ‘spirituality’ so when I was given this book for review it remained at the bottom of my pile of ‘to do’ for some time!  It is endorsed by all the big names in Wicca, including the Queen of the Witches Maxine Sanders and teachers Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone.  Of course Janet Farrar was one half of a very dynamic author partnership with her late husband Stewart Farrar too, so she would know what works and what doesn’t.  Janet and Gavin said “There are very few good primers on Wicca out there.  We are pleased to say this one of the best ones we read”.   So a good endorsement and a good start then!

The book itself contains 16 chapters, these include chapters introducing The Craft of the Wise, Ritual and Magic in history, the Revival and the Tools.  Then there are all the usual things one would expect in a book on Wicca, and this is where I wished the author wrote about what she was actually passionate about, which seems to be a more natural and intuitive approach, rather than rehasing the same old, same old Gardnerian and Alexandrian material from the Book of Shadows for use in a different format with different words.  Likewise all the material before we get to Chapter 5 “Giving the Gods a name” might as well have been skipped, its nothing too exciting, a basic overview of magical and wiccan history, important for a newcomer, but not something I would want in a practical book either.  My other critisism is the authors mixed use of terminology, the cover says its the Craft of the Wise, practical paganism and witchcraft and then when you get down to it most of what she writes about is Wicca.  Something which is highlighted by the endorsements given to this book by Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone.  “Primers on Wicca”.  This is a primer on ecletic pagan Wicca, for those who want to go it on their own without a teacher or coven.

What is clear is that the author has a better grip on the concepts than what she herself is aware of at times, from which perspective I hope that she finds a good middle ground in her magical writing and steps her research and experimentation up.  I was very impressed by the grip she had on the concepts which are often times totally overlooked or ignored by other authors on the subject.

A better title for the book would have been “Crafting Wicca for Solitaries” or something like that.  Craft of the Wise yes, but I expected less of the Neo-Pagan.  A good introduction all the same and one I will, despite my reservations, recommend if I felt someone wanted something very general to introduce them to the key concepts of Wicca and Pagan Witchcraft.

Craft of the Wise, published by www.o-books.net and RRP of £14.99

Dear Readers,

We would like to welcome you to our new home here at http://esotericbookreview.wordpress.com – you may have found us by following a link to our old website, or maybe your browser redirected you here.

The Esoteric Book Review was created by the occult author Sorita d’Este as part of her Avalonia website which was founded in 1997.  It moved to its own seperate website about two years ago during some reorganisations of Avalonia by Sorita.  At that time she appointed me as the Reviews Editor and with her help I have been able to learn more about internet technology and gain the confidence to be able to now take on the massive task of administering this website by myself.

The Esoteric Book Review is a peer review.  The reviews you will find here have been written by people who have many years worth of experience as practitioners of magick, devotees of the old gods, readers of tarot and weavers of the webs of sorcery.   They include amongst them esoteric scholars and academics, authors, writers, teachers of wicca and members of large and prestigious magical organisations and traditions.   They share their genuine opinion on the books they review, good or bad.  They are volunteers who share a passion for the occult, for magick, paganism and spirituality, for witchcraft, voodoo, root magic and the old gods.

So if you are with us now, in the words of Aleister Crowley:

“Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us.”

156, 93, BB, LVX and all the fraternal and sororal blessings

Nina Lazarus

 

PS. Please note, the reviews previous to the this message have all been imported from the original reviews website.  They are all posted as “Avalonia LuxNox” though they were written by a variety of authors over the last few years.  In most instances the name of the author is contained within the message body itself.

We know that Hekate Liminal Rites is one of the best books on the subject, and we know that it is a book that will continue to spark debate, discussion and exploration of the mysteries of the Goddess Hekate.  It is therefore a great thing to know that others are also enjoying the book, especially when they are such discerning readers such as the editorial team at The HedgeWytch Magazine – www.sothisstar.co.uk, here is an extract of what they said, to read the full magazine which includes articles by Pete Nash, Isobella Faye, Michael Hower, Shani Oates, Bill, G Nottingham, Chattering Magpie and many others see the website for subscription details.  The review is from issue #47:

“For all of you who are drawn to this most fascinating liminal goddess, Hekate, you will not be disappointed.  And for those of you who wish to explore and learn more about Hekate, then this is certainly for you.  Drawn from historical sources, the reader is taken on a journey from Hekate as Phosphorus (light bringer) and liminal goddess of the gate through the exploration of some of her most well known titles from (in alphabetical order) Chthonia (‘earthly one’) to Trioditis (‘of the three ways’).  Just this list of titles will draw the reader in.  ….  ….. ….. …. A highly recommended read for all.”

hekate_liminalrites

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

Dear All,

 

Can you believe that it is nearly Lughnasad again!  This day is named for the Irish God Lugh (pron. ‘Loo’) who is the son of Ethne (the daughter of Balor) and Cian (son of Dian Cecht) and it is celebrated on the 1st of August.  Lugh means ‘shining one’ and he was fostered with the smith god Goibniu who taught him all crafts, and he gained the name ‘Lugh Lamfada’ (Lugh of the long arm).  Lugh is the god of all crafts and when challenged at the gate of Tara, he replied that he was a builder, a smith, a champion, a harper, a warrior, a poet and historian, a sorcerer, a physician, a cupbearer and a brazier.  Ceasar equated Lugh with the Roman god Mercury, and the reasons are easy to see considering that Mercury is also considered to be a highly skilled god.

 

The spear of Lugh, which is one of the four treasures of the Tuatha de Danann, ensured that no battle was ever won against whoever held it in their hand.  Lugh was highly skilled in the magical arts, assuming the corrguinecht posture whilst reciting a charm to encourage his troops in the Cath Maige Tuired.  He is also often identified as both a solar and underworld god, and is later linked to the Gallic goddess Rosmerta as her consort. Representations of Rosmerta found at Bath and at other continental healing water sites suggests that she may have been viewed as a healing goddess, though her key attribute is that of the ‘Great Provider’ (which is also the meaning of her name) and she was associated with wealth and plenitude. Lugh is also of course the father of the hero Cu Chulainn, whom he helps by healing him and fighting in his place whilst he is badly wounded.  Like all good gods, Lugh was assimilated and canonized into the church as Saint Lughaidh.

 

It has been a while since I did the last Avalonia Newsletter, so much has happened since then!  Hekate Liminal Rites, a historical book on the practices associated with the Goddess Hekate written and researched by myself and David Rankine was published; as was Both Sides of Heaven (anthology, various contributors) and Stellar Magic by Payam Nabarz.  Details of these can be found below, or on the Avalonia Books website – http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk

 

:::  STELLAR MAGICK by Payam Nabarz

This past Friday, 24th July 2009 we celebrated the launch of ‘Stellar Magic’, the new book by the author Payam Nabarz at the Atlantis Bookshop in London.  This book which was published by Avalonia, is both a practical and scholarly work on the magic of the Moon, Planets, Stars and Constellations.  It draws from a wide spectrum of material and ideas from different cultures, bringing it all together in a valuable work which is already establishing itself as the principal text on the subject.  If you haven’t yet, have a look at http://www.stellarmagic.co.uk and http://avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/titles/stellar_magic2.htm for further information on this book.  Some photographs from the launch and signing can be found at http://avaloniabooks.blogspot.com/

 

::: BOTH SIDES OF HEAVEN with various contributors

This collection of 18 essays by some of the foremost esoteric writers, occultists and magicians from around the world is a great introduction to the world of angel magic for those who have not ventured into this area of study and practice yet.  The essays explore different subjects of study, as well as different traditions – providing the reader with insights into subjects, some of which are rarely discussed.  Essays include works on the Archangels, Fallen Angels, Legends of the Fall, Enochian Magic & Dr John Dee, Madeline Montalban, Azazel & Shemyaza, Lucifer, The Sidhe, The Green butterfly, The Goetia, Demons & Devils, Pacts, Grimoires from a Pagan perspective, The Thwarting Angels, Lilith, Holy Guardian Angels, Greco-Roman Winged messengers and Zoroastrian Ahuras and Daevas.  Contributors include authors such as Aaron Leitch, Dan Harms, David Rankine, Emily Carding, Jake Stratton-Kent, Kim Huggens, Michael Howard, Payam Nabarz and Stephen Skinner. See http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk/catalogue/titles/both_sides_of_heaven.htm for further information.

 

::: THE GOETIA OF DR RUDD by Stephen Skinner & David Rankine

The ordinary hardback with dustwraper edition of this title is now SOLD OUT for the UK, as it has been in the USA for a while.  It has been brought to our attention that copies of the ordinary edition is in some instances exchanging hands for more than the deluxe (full leather) edition of this book, of which we have still got a handful of copies available for sale.  Information can be found at http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk/sourceworks/goetia.htm – including costs, shipping and if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, a photograph of what the deluxe edition looks like.  We also have copies of the half-leather collectors edition of the Veritable Key of Solomon, as well as Book I & II in the Sourceworks of Ceremonial Magic series available. 

 

:::  INVOKE HEKATE – New Project

We are in the process of creating a small website featuring invocations and artwork related to the Goddess Hekate.  If you would like to contribute, please email sorita11@gmail.com for details.  You may also find “Servants of the Lightbearer” on facebook of interest – http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=85463831214&ref=ts    I will be hosting a private celebration in honour of Hekate in September this year, if you are interested in attending please get in touch.  It will be held in the Powys / Hereford area.

 

:::  Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle, USA

This is a new annual event being organised by Ouroborus Press’s William Kiesel and brings together a number of speakers and publishers from around the occult world.  As such this event should appeal to all Occult Bibliophiles out there!  Check it out at http://esotericbookconference.com/2009/

 

::: Pan’s Picnic

For those of you in London, you may want to check out Pagan Federation London’s Pan’s Picnic – details at http://www.pflondon.org/html/major_socials.html  It is in a couple of weeks time and will be taking place in the Queens Wood.

 

 

“Crystal is ice through countless ages grown

(So teach the wise) to hard transparent stone,

And still the gem retains its native force,

And holds the cold and colour of its source.

Yet some deny, and tell of crystal found

Where never icy winter froze the ground”

By Marbodius, circa 12th cent.

 

:::

 

Blessings,

Sorita d’Este

http://www.avaloniabooks.co.uk

http://www.sorita.co.uk

 

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.

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.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.