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.

Dear Readers,

We would like to welcome you to our new home here at – 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 –, 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.”


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

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 –


:::  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 and for further information on this book.  Some photographs from the launch and signing can be found at


::: 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 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 – 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 for details.  You may also find “Servants of the Lightbearer” on facebook of interest –    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


::: Pan’s Picnic

For those of you in London, you may want to check out Pagan Federation London’s Pan’s Picnic – details at  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.





Sorita d’Este


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


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.


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