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.

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.


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

The Drums of Legenderry by John Orlando

Review by Herbwoman for the Esoteric Book Review


This book is available from 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 …


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

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 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

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

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 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 – preorders will open soon, keep an eye
out for announcements on this list. (If you are reading this
elsewhere, join the mailinglist 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 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:


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