The Red Church

By C.R. Bilardi


~review by David Rankine (originally at )

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.


Gateways to Health series

Secrets of Meditation: Simple Techniques for Achieving Harmony by Philippa Faulks

Secrets of Rejuvenation: Zen Warrior Exercises by Martin Faulks

Self-Healing Reiki: Healing for Mind, Body and Soul by Brian Cook

The Five Healing Tibetans: Simple Exercises for Rejuvenation and Health by Jason Gyre

reviewed by John Canard for the Esoteric Book Review

These small books are tasters, or perhaps more correctly, primers, which give the reader an introduction to the techniques contained within.  The material is largely accurate, though in some places it seemed to me to be too simplistic even for a primer, e.g. in the secrets of Meditation, the page on the chakras tells you briefly about them and that you can focus on them.  The investment of anothe rpage with a meditation would have been worthwhile here.  Nevertheless the rest of the book is good, as are the others.  They would make ideal gifts for people who are new to a spiritual path, or not rigidly following a particular way, and who want to focus more on their subtle energy and being more balanced and healthy, which is the underlying theme running through all of the books.  I particularly enjoyed Secrets of Rejuvenation, as for me this struck the greatest chord of balancing the information about the technique with the practice, making it a very lucid guide.  All in all an interesting read, and worth looking at if you are doing any energy work.

The Healing Energies of Trees
Patrice Bouchardon

A delightful book of the “get in there and try it” variety! I enjoyed this book tremendously.

It is practical, and looks at the roots of paganism, inasmuch as it covers ecology, healing and nature. The material is well covered and presented, and the photographs should help anyone be able to identify the trees when they encounter them.

The book contains a wide variety of practical exercises, and useful information on the trees, such as folklore, healing effects and beneficial ways to work with them. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone looking to find out more about trees and practical ways of working them.

Leechcraft: Early English Charms, Plantlore and Healing 
by Stephen Pollington
Anglo-Saxon Books

Reviewed by David Rankine

An unequalled examination of every aspect of early English healing, including the use of plants, amulets, charms, and prayer. The book also looks at the practises of Anglo-Saxon witchcraft, shamanism, tree-lore, omens, dreams, runes, Gods, Elves, Dwarf, and theories of magick which were held at the time. The author also brings together the smaller details such as the ingredients used in magick, with careful referencing showing the sources.
Significantly the book also contains transcriptions of three of the most important Old English manuscripts related to magickal practise: The Lacnunga (sometimes called the Spell Book), The Herbarium Manuscript, and Bald’s Leechbook. Again the author exceeds all expectations with his careful analysis and conclusions on various ingredients and methods, based on his knowledge and research into the subject.
This book would make a truly wonderful addition to your collection, and all with an interest in English and Saxon magick and healing will benefit from making a careful study of the material therein. Both academically sound and filled with material which can be used today.