Dear Readers,

We would like to welcome you to our new home here at https://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 “UnicursalStar” 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.

The Pop Culture Grimoire: An Anthology of Pop Culture Magic

Taylor Ellwood (ed)

Megalithica Books Publication

PB, £10.99, 160pp

 Reviewed by Nina Lazarus for the Esoteric Book Review

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I admit to being something of a purist, and pop culture magic is not a topic I am drawn to, as the term pop culture is one I associate with shallow and trivial superficialities.  From what I have seen, most of the time it just seems to be reinventing the wheel or getting excited about doing something many of us have known about for a long time. Rather than reinventing the wheel time could be better spent on looking at the sources and seeing where techniques and ideas came from.  Working through the eighteen essays contained in this work largely confirmed my views.  However it did also add another level of understanding, which is that much of the material within was just Chaos Magick by another name.  A ritual based on Narnia or worship of Marilyn Monroe or drawing down Elvis is not new, as such ideas were being bandied around in the 1980s on the Chaos scene.

I did consider going through the essays one by one, but a couple of them illustrate my points.  Break on Through to the Other Side is an entertaining short piece on the author’s decision to create what she terms a vampire godform based on the roleplaying game she was involved in that went bad, though to you and me this would be called creation of a thoughtform.  Popular Music as Ritual is essentially the author’s realisation that compilation CDs or tapes can be used to celebrate magickal occasions and states, something that many of us have been doing for decades anyway without calling it pop culture magic. For me the only really enjoyable piece in the collection was Nick Farrell’s The Alchemy of Bollocks: Turning Pop Culture into Something Useful, which was amusing and informative.  If ideas like using Pokemon characters or the addictive computer game World of Warcraft to develop your magick appeal to you, then you should buy and read this book.

 

Magickal Progressions

by Moonsilvered

Megalithica Books Publication

PB, £10.99, 160pp

Reviewed by John Canard for the Esoteric Book Review

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If you want another introduction to neo-paganism which pulls together bits from all over the place, then this may be the book for you. This is not a bad book, inasmuch as it encourages the reader to take personal responsibility and to work on a balanced and holistic approach to spirituality which includes physical exercise and diet. However there is not really anything new, and for me it is a bit too much of a mish-mash. I accept that chakras seem to have become standard material for many pagan and wiccan books now, but the current trend to try and assimilate the work of Carlos Castaneda in a similar manner seems like a step in the wrong direction to me. The three pages on Stalking and Warrior Work (fast becoming buzz words these days) follow a single page which skims over the concepts of astral projection and lucid dreaming. There is no explanation how to perform these latter techniques, which are actually key to the practice of Castaneda’s system. The appendixes at the back of the book are the usual stock standard stuff, although I would suggest the author researches angels more thoroughly – Auriel and Uriel are in fact the same being, and Raphael is not commonly associated with the element of Water. As I said earlier, this isn’t a bad book, and for a newbie pagan they could do far worse, though would-be magicians would be encouraged to look elsewhere.  I am passing this one on.

 

Devoted
Various
Edited by Alkistis Dimech
Introduction by Peter Grey
devoted devoted_pages

Devoted is an octavo book of 173pp, bound in saffron book cloth, black chalice stamped and finished with night black endpapers.

It is being prepared in a strictly limited and hand-numbered edition of 814 copies.

A copy can be yours for thirty-one English pounds plus postage.

Devoted comprises fifteen essays by fourteen writers on their devotional practice.
It is a bloody and passionate blend of primal gnosis and poetic expression.
These essays reveal and revel in powerful applicable magickal practice.
They are suffused with the living experience of the Spirit world.

Devoted
will enrich your own work, whether you are witch, magician, heathen, thelemite, or sorceror.
From possession work, to blood letting and fetishes, to sabbatic dance, there is a wealth of experience to explore within these pages.

Devoted
provides indepth essays on working with:

Babalon
Ishtar

Hecate
Lilith
Loki
Tiamat
Dionysus
The Yoginis
The Lwa
The Spirits of goetia

Our writers are a chorus of powerful new voices and established practitioners whose Work has often been overlooked:

Stephen Grasso, Peter Grey, Mogg Morgan, Jake Stratton-Kent, Richard Ward, Levannah Morgan, Ruby Sara, David Blank, Mark Smith,Charlotte Rodgers, Mordant Carnival, Tony Elliott, Alkistis Dimech,George Sieg.

Full details can be found here:
www.scarletimprint.com

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

Enochian Vision Magic

An Introduction and Practical Guide to the Magick of Dr John Dee and Edward Kelley

by Lon Milo DuQuette

Published by Weiser Books, 2008

reviewed by David Rankine (see David Rankine )

Lon Milo DuQuette has an ability to explain complex subjects in a simple manner, a real gift when it comes to magick, and especially when applied to a mind-boggling system like Enochian magick.  In this book he moves step-by-step through all the basic strands of Enochian magick, weaving them together into a coherent whole which enables newcomer and experienced practitioner alike to navigate the difficult morass of material which can cause a lot of head scratching and heartache.

So why should you buy this book rather than any other?  Well apart from the thorough grounding it will provide, it is revealing to see that such authorities as Stephen Skinner and Geoffrey James applauding the work, and Clay Holden writing the foreword.  DuQuette quotes from the original material where appropriate, and also the Golden Dawn take, and is not afraid to move the material on, something it has been needing since it reached a hiatus with the Golden Dawn.  All-in-all an excellent introduction and very useful addition to a field whose lure often appears like fool’s gold – now the real thing is more in evidence!

Tantra Sadhana

A Practical Introduction to Kaula Magick

By Mogg Morgan (Sahajanath)

Published by Mandrake of Oxford

Review by Nina Lazarus for the Esoteric Book Review

“A Sadhana is an instrument that leads to a particular goal.  In Tantra, it is a technical term denoting worship or spiritual practice.  Tantra Sadhana is a collection of related instructional papers designed to aid the aspirant through a foundation Sadhana.  Some say effective Sadhana requires an initiation (dikshi) from a qualified guru.  This book is designed to act as a taster and to provide a short body of work suitable for the period of about one lunar month…”

So when I read this I decided to set about to try and use the book as it was intended, a workbook with exercises for a month.  The author, Mogg Morgan writes well, but the book would have benefitted from further editing, there are minor typos (including an unfortunate one in the last paragraph on the back) but we all make typos so that is no major issue.

I have to be clear that I had no previous experience of the practices in the book prior to starting this, so my views may have become riddled with mistakes where I may have misunderstood the author.  This is my journey through Tantra Sadhana:

The book starts with a Guide to Pronounciation.  This is useful, though it would have been useful to have a more complete guide, though this one page guide to Sanskrit sounds did help to at least formulate the sounds in my mind and for chanting.

The Preface starts with a story about a guru taken from another book by the author “isis in india”  which seeks to prove a point I believe about the interconnectedness of the world and its mystical teachings.  At least that is what I got from it.

The author gives some good introduction and definitions, he explains Tantra as “traditionally applied to a group of hindu and Buddhist mystical texts which, along with numerous other topics, deal at length with the spiritual value of carnal knowledge, which taken literally means that gnosis obtained through the whole body.”  He goes on to explain all the various terms which are used, such as Kaulas (I first saw this written and thought it had something to do with furry creatures in Australia!), Ganesa and also gives some ideas on Siva and Shakti, before plunging into definitions for terms such as Sadhana and Puja, Dhyana and Mudra.   He also explains that the sect he is involved with AMOOKOS (which stands for Arcane and Magical Order of the Knights of Shamballa) is a sort of east meets west type group with lineage back to someone whose name I wouldnt try and say going back several hundred years.   So that was the first chapter.  To be honest, I thought that being a Tantric newbie I would learn more, but in fact I found that I already had a good understanding of almost all the terms used through my interest in magick in general.  Here are just many more words of a Sanskrit nature which looks impressive, but at this point I was still wondering why a westerner would bother writing about the practices of a tradition which some practice since birth?  The readinglist given at the end of Chapter 1 was impressive, though to be honest most of the books seemed to be self-indulgent Western magick, such as the books by Jan Fries.

However, from Chapter 2 onwards the book becomes more practical and I perservered with the prescribed practices.  I am not going to give it all away, but I would recommend this book to those with an already good knowledge of Yoga (which as a qualified teacher I do) as many of the exercises given involves yogic warmups which might be difficult for those who have no previous experience.  This was good to see as books on magick so often focus on head stuff, when magick is so rooted in the physical world that I often feel that the connection is completely lost to the physical world and that the astral becomes a venue for escapism.

So am I going to run off and join AMOOKOS?  I doubt it, but this book did open some interesting possibilities for me to explore and I may well invest more time in studying related practices in depth.  A good practical introduction to the subject for students who want to incorporate East and West.