Interviews & Reviews

Book Review – Besom, Stang & Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape by Christopher Orapello and Tara Love Maguire

February, 2019

Book Review

Besom, Stang & Sword

A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape

by Christopher Orapello and Tara Love Maguire

*A Special Opportunity:

Christopher and Tara will be teaching at Delmarva Pagan Pride Day on April 28th.

Location: The Green in front of Legislative hall in Dover Delaware

Info: FB page- https://www.facebook.com/groups/DelmarvaPaganPrideFestival/

There is a stirring within the community of those who identify as witches as what was old has been lovingly and carefully made new again by those who stand at the gates of modern witchcraft. Besom, Stang and Sword is a guide of practice that evolved from the reweaving of Traditional Witchcraft and adding just enough of the evolved form of that practice to create something unique, new and highly relevant to our times.

The authors have done due diligence in both the scholarly rationale and the grassroots approach to the practice of witchcraft and its newer derivative form of Wicca. What emerged was the creation of their own path called the Blacktree Tradition….. a modern, nonreligious form of traditional witchcraft that is rooted in each witch’s specific region. Instead of deities, it deals with the spirits of the land and the ancestors-no gods, many spirits…

Chapter 1jumps right into the discussion of what Traditional Witchcraft is at its roots. As the authors state there are many types of practice that have presented themselves forged from the essential of a practice that is steeped in cultural practices such as Shamanism, Seidr and Hoodoo and magickal traditions, such as Victor and Cora Anderson Feri and Cultus Sabbati. All of the usual topics related to a pagan path and in particular, that of witchcraft are given attention and perspective that pulls together some of the more disjointed pieces of a puzzle that is complex, rich and deep. The Devil and the negative connotation that has come to be associated with those practitioners of the craft is addressed and the reality of this beings energy as being neither good nor evil, but a necessary component in the natural order of a practice rooted in the land. Blacktree calls to the Devil as the Witch Lord, the Lord of the Paths and is considered the embodiment of nature itself. This is a perspective that takes us beyond the semantics and associations accumulated around these that prevent us from seeing beyond and more broadly as to the deeper meanings.

You will find within each chapter the basics of teachings that form a solid foundation for stepping onto the path of the witch. Spell work, Diviniation, the Sabbats, Lunations, Hedgewitchery and more complete this instruction. Each chapter rich with theory and magickal technique. For those who are familiar with a Wiccan or other path that is similar to the principals of witchcraft, you will see the variances in application and tools that are of prominence in traditional witchcraft that have often take a side place of importance more recently.

The title of the book, Besom, Stang and Sword give reference to these three tools being those closely related to the natural world. This is further evidenced in the premise of Traditional Witchcraft and its roots being tied to the earth and at a time when many of the manufactured ritual items that adorn our altars and work were not available. Use of the Besom and Stang takes us back to those cultural roots of witchcraft and making use of and empowering all that we were given from the land itself. We are also introduced to some lesser-known tools, their purpose and how they may be used or created.

The author’s statement in the introduction nicely sums up the treasures and value of this book..

..Our perspective anchors itself with one foot firmly planted in the lessons of the past and the other stepping into the boldest future, while staying focused on the natural evolution of the craft…

I would highly recommend this book as a required read for those new to the craft and more importantly those who consider themselves seasoned and working witches. My gratitude to Christopher and Tara for being able to in such an articulate and grounded way call forth the best of what was and the vision of a practice that evolves and grows in an organic and natural way that we have long forgotten the simplicity, complexity and beauty of.

For More Information about Blacktree Coven:https://www.infinite-beyond.com/blacktree-coven/

Besom, Stang & Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Book Review – Shaman Express by Beretta Rousseau

February, 2019

Book Review
Shaman Express
by Beretta Rousseau

Short review: I hated this book.

Let me say right off the bat that I am the wrong person to be reviewing this book. I am going to be fifty-nine this year; I am a die-hard radical feminist; I have been in recovery for almost thirty years now; I read the entire canon of Carlos Castanedas over forty years ago; I grew out of this kind of “using drugs to find spiritual enlightenment” bullshit before the age of THIRTY.

To be honest, I might have liked this book – a whole lot – when I was twenty-one or so – but that was many, many years ago. In my twenties, I had a great attraction for erotic literature and any book with lots of sex in it, whether or not it was necessary to the plot. This book is one of those books.

I was ready to throw it into the garbage after I read the first sentence. “I woke up sweating, alarmed, and with a painful erection.” So fucking what? Waking up with an erection is perfectly normal. This author acts like it’s some kind of accomplishment. I’m sorry but I don’t want to read this shit. I really don’t.

On page 10: “It took me some time to realize that the twelve-step program I had entered was a spiritual program.” Gee … how fucked up were you? Because all twelve-step programs tell you that right off the bat. But of course, they also tell us that some of us are more damaged that others. This author is obviously very damaged.

The thing is, “Beretta Rousseau” is actually two people – Omar Beretta and Bénédicte Rousseau – evidently a man and a woman – and they trade off chapters in the novel like John Lennon and Yoko Ono trading off songs on “Double Fantasy”. It makes for a very uneven novel (just like “Double Fantasy”). Rousseau is the better writer, in my humble opinion. I googled them separately and Omar Beretta is a travel writer – he looks to be maybe ten years or so younger than me but of course, looks are deceiving – and Bénédicte Rousseau is a Belgium writer born in 1980 – incidentally the year I first took LSD (I was twenty). I couldn’t find very much about Omar Beretta – or the correct Omar Beretta because it’s apparently a very common name and there were lots of them to choose from, from investment bankers to Uranium entrepreneurs to Argentine tax lawyers – but with a little work, I did find an interview with Berretta which is here: https://yacarevolador.com/omar-beretta-has-been-interviewed/. According to that article, you can access Berretta’s website here: https://yacarevolador.com/. It is in Spanish but can be translated easily into English. Rousseau has a website that you can visit here: https://www.benedicterousseau.com/. Rousseau is Belgium but her site is in English.

This book is labeled “A Novel” but I am not sure that it is. It really reads more like creative nonfiction – especially with all the quotes and the footnotes – but of course, that’s the trendy cool way to write novels nowadays – check out The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – but Diaz’s book is obviously a novel whereas Shaman Express is a novel only because it bends the barrier between fiction and non-fiction. In a way, it doesn’t matter at all if it’s a novel or not. It’s the story that counts – whether or not it’s factually true is beside the point.

I guess I just didn’t care about the story.

So what is the story? That’s a really good question.

Part One is called “Alive”. Part Two is called “Dead”. Part Three is called “Awake”.

All three parts are written as diary entries. Each chapter is an entry – one written by Berretta and the next one by Rousseau. I found myself having to read chapters over and over again, since none of it made very much sense. It seemed that both Berretta and Rousseau were interested in “shamanism” and in finding evidence of European shamanism. Why they don’t do this in a scholarly fashion is beyond me. There are all kinds of scholarship on this very subject. I myself have been studying European shamanism – not that I called it that – since the mid-1980’s. But I guess if they spent their time in libraries, we wouldn’t have a novel to read, wouldn’t we. The trouble is – if you’re looking for “action” – there really isn’t any “there” there. Or – it’s there – but it’s all busyness with no real substance.

The “action” goes from Amsterdam to Brussels to Belsedere to Ulan-Ude back to Brussels and then to Lake Baikal and then to Bangkok – but during all this movement, there is so much hallucination and “guided meditation” that you wonder if any of this travel is actually happening at all or if Berretta and Rousseau are really talking to any of the people they are talking to or even to one another. It’s almost like they were sending emails to one another and the chapters don’t quite match up. On the other hand, the whole novel made me think of those story-games we played as children – one person starts the story and another person adds to it and it gets crazier and crazier with the telling. A version of this is in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, in the chapter “Camp Lawrence”. Since Berretta is a travel writer, this is eminently possible. He seems to be the one who is always on the move and Rousseau is always having to meet him at this or that place.

In one of the guided meditations, Rousseau meets her “spirit guide” who apparently is the god Apollo. She writes,

“…My spirit guide strokes my hair tenderly. I find comfort in this heavenly touch.

‘Your situation is simple, Benedetta. You must choose between life and death. You must hurry though…’

…This seems unreal to me. I am speechless. I am not even sure I am having this conversation.” (page 70)

So she chooses life. Well, of course she does. But that’s the end of the first part and like I said earlier, the section part is called “Death”. And believe me, it’s a small death just to get through it.

The end of the third part ends with: “Awake. Really?” and then, “One day at a time can lead to a glimpse of eternity.” (page 214) Which is probably the wisest statement in this entire book.

Again – I don’t want to diss this book entirely – some of you are going to read this and absolutely love it. I just didn’t.

One of the links on Rousseau’s website is entitled “Top Five Tips for Writing in a Literary Collaboration”. I highly recommend this for any writer, whether or not you write with other people – and let’s face it, most of us do collaborate with other writers, whether we are aware of it or not – and I liked #2, “Practice conversation”. If you read this book as a conversation between two people, it’s Rousseau’s voice that is the more engaging. I found myself rushing through Berretta’s chapters, just wanting to get them over with – they were oversexed and over-violent – so I could relax with the more soothing and reasonable voice of Rousseau. I was also wishing that there were a few more voices in this conversation. Maybe the teacher’s? Or a few other students?

The other thing I thought while reading this “novel” was that it was really a screenplay and the authors didn’t realize it. Perhaps it’s been optioned and we’ll all be watching the movie on Netflix at this time next year. I do think it will work better as a movie.

That said, I know there are plenty of people who will absolutely love this book. I am just not one of them.

References

Berretta Rousseau. Shaman Express. WA: Amazon Digital Services, LLC, 2018.

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. NY: Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, 1947.

Shaman Express on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Witch & Popcorn

February, 2019

Bright Blessings film lovers!

I’m reviewing a new show instead of a movie this time.

This show has made quite a stir on Netflix this week, and people are either celebrating it, or upset by the hosts suggestions. There seems to be no happy medium response. People either love this or hate it.

I watched a few Episodes of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Let me begin by saying I freaking LOVE this!

Smart business lady Marie Kondo hails from beautiful Japan, where she single-handedly started an organizing business based on clean, minimal living, only owning things you get a lot of use out of, and teaching a lifestyle of keeping things neat, in their place, and clean.

While I’m not going to have 30 books or less, as she recommends, nor will I fold every article of clothing I own into tidy origami-like parcels, as a witch, I appreciate her attitude, and approach.

The first thing Marie does when she walks into a house, after meeting the homeowners, is ask permission to “get acquainted with” the house. She then kneels, and looks to be meditating, and soaking in the home’s vibes.

If that isn’t magical practice, I don’t know what is.

The next thing she has the homeowners do is take stock of every item they own, and purge as much as possible. There is a lot of tears, a bit of tantruming at times, and a lot of resistance from some homeowners. They want an immaculately clean home, but they want it stocked full of junk, and things they squirreled away for years they forgot all about. In the end, the clients always say their whole lives are changed by the purge, reorganizing, and change to a lifestyle of cleanliness and simplification.

It’s just throwing things out, and reorganizing, right?

Well, it’s more than that.

Getting rid of things that are not useful, and are eating up space that could be better used otherwise frees up not only the space itself, but the energy. Every item we use, touch, and keep retains energy and memories. While some of us are consciously aware of all that, some people are not, but they still are not immune to the effects.

Some call clutter visual noise, but have you ever had a toxic roommate or live in lover and once they and all their junk was gone, you felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from your home and heart? Things hold energy.

The thing I saw in common of all the clients in the episodes I watched was they grumbled their house was not big enough- and stated they needed more storage space, but Marie knew better. She knew they had too much stuff!

She made them pile their clothes on top of the bed, and thin out as many clothes as possible before they did anything else. I think she gave them a week to do all of that. People had entirely forgotten about all of the clothes they owned. They said they never even liked certain articles of clothing, and seeing the mountain of clothes horrified them. One client remarked she was ashamed of herself for being so greedy about clothing when there are people who don’t have hardly any clothes.

Marie, in magical fashion, had people hold each belonging and only keep what “sparked joy”. She expected them to feel the vibes off things and keep only the things that had good vibes. Basic energy 101! She then told them to thank the object for allowing them to use it before discarding.

The process took forever with some people, but she taught them energy and appreciation for objects.

Magic!

Marie might not identify as a witch, but she knows about moving energy and all about psychology. The initial shock of the mountain of clothes was all she needed to get people’s attention and wake them up.

I’m not saying there was no pissing and moaning from some clients after the realization. I’m saying it was the stab in the rear end they all needed to see they had done this, and they needed to dig their way out. One client aggravated me with her whining so much, I had to watch that episode over the course of two days, but in the end she did a great job and got with the program.

Our homes are supposed to be our sanctuaries, not places that exhaust us. When we junk up our homes, we are constantly swamped in the sea of trash, and it soaks into our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Purging helps us focus on what we want and need in our homes so we can control the focus of energy and the feel of the home.

I always wonder why so many people cannot understand this.

I am reminded of my first marriage. My ex husband collected junk- or just shoved everything in drawers and never bothered to take care of, or clean anything. He owned empty cardboard boxes from things he no longer owned, and even empty plastic bags that had been in the boxes he no longer had from things he also no longer had. He owned expired turtle wax and tried to fight to keep it. He had hundreds of empty wire hangers from dry cleaners in the trunk of his car which he refused to part with, and he cried when I threw them out. He owned broken golf tees he stated had no sentimental value, and he even had undeveloped photo film he said he had no plans to ever develop, but wanted to keep- because it was HIS. He had a three bedroom, two bath house with a full basement, and it was not large enough to house all of his junk and collection of thousands of books, CD’s, Cassette Tapes, eight track tapes, VCR tapes, and DVDs- a collection that was steadily growing. He did not understand that libraries are good places to nab media and books, and less is more. He owned books that were molded, having been rotting in the damp basement for over a decade, and had books he had never read, but continued to buy more.

His was an extreme case, and his inability to change his compulsive shopping and accumulating damaged our relationship. We were not married long enough for me to find out what his psychiatric issues were. I do not miss living with him. He found somebody who was okay with his lifestyle, and I am thankful he moved me out of the mess.

Getting out of that trash heap was a breath of fresh air for me. I can only imagine how awful people who have done this to themselves felt before Marie helped them.

On the show, Marie takes people who don’t show psychiatric problems. These just have a lot of unnecessary crap. They make excuses, and Marie does not buy it. She goes in every week for about a month, and teaches them how to clean out the whole house. By the time it is all done, the homeowners have done all she says, and my OCD is appeased.

I will say this show gives me appreciation for The Queer Eye. Somehow, the Fab Five manage to guide the people they are making over to NOT descend into self-pity, but they prod them to organization. I respect Marie’s philosophy that they homeowners will do their own organizing, and it serves to ensure they know how to keep it that way. There is just so much whining and complaining from some of the clients, you might want to slap them. They made the mess, they clean the mess, and Marie makes sure they do.

I am also appreciating the Hoarders shows, as the clients often are very open about their psychiatric issues that lead them to let their homes go to seed. The home is an outward manifestation of what is on the inside. And these organizing shows take the outside, use it to illustrate what is going wrong, and set the outside right first as a way to start inner work.

As magical practitioners, we know all too well that what we surround ourselves with influences us. If we are surrounded by repressed memories and buried pain, or even good memories, manifested by things we chose to keep although it is useless- we are working bad juju on ourselves.

Get rid of it.

Now.

Marie Kondo’s show might be viral right now, and she might be all the rage currently, but her approach, her attitude, and her techniques are old magical practice every witch can do without any spellwork.

Let’s just refer to this as space clearing on the mundane level, and it’s just as important as ritual banishing, and mundane house cleaning.

A good watch.

Happy Viewing.

Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.

Book Review – The Bardic Book of Becoming: An Introduction to Modern Druidry by Ivan McBeth with Fern Lickfield

February, 2019

Book Review

The Bardic Book of Becoming

An Introduction to Modern Druidry

by Ivan McBeth with Fern Lickfield

Ivan McBeth died peacefully at home on September 23.2016, and his name and work remains as that one of the penultimate Druids. Reading the introduction and the words of his partner, Fern Lickfield drew me into this book well before the actual meat of the book. And, the closing words of Orion Foxwood, completed a beautiful book of hope, teaching and wisdom in the way of the bard.

This is a book of beginnings that offers those new to the path of Druidry solid foundation in a style of mystery and magick that has survived and evolved into a modern practice that honors the earth that was, is and can be. This book is chockfull of visualizations, rituals and stories filled with the keys of understanding that will open the doors of personal experience.

A most endearing approach is that of Ivan offering his own stories of how he came to a path of Druidry, what it meant to him and how he wished to enchant the world with these teachings that emanate from a history that systemically wove the natural world and man into a dance of collaborative embrace and mutual support.

Ivan begins the teachings in Chapter One, entitled We Are One. A simple, yet profound statement that he continues to peel back the layers of in reminding us that we began inseparable from the Earth’s Mother and although we have recently lost our way, the choice is ours to return to that place of symbiotic union and relationship with everything.

We learn that there are three levels/grades of training that form the Druid Path, the Bard-the Ovate and finally the becoming of a Druid. This study and path is one of commitment, the early Druids training for at least twenty years and all of that training oral in its passing on. Nothing was recorded. That was the way of the ancient Druids. There have been revisions to this in keeping with the demands of modern society and the inability n most cases to devote all of one’s life and time to this training.

Part One moves smoothly and clearly through al that is required to begin the foundations of a Drudic practice. It is rich with visualizations, exercises, and opportunities to create your own experiences that will form the scaffolding of who and what you become as you evolve and grow in a natural and wholistic world. The mere telling of Ivan’s experiences is a mystical gateway filled with passkeys and inspired ways of practice. This style adds a personal approach and engages the reader into a palpable experience in the re-telling. This also exemplifies the ways of the Druids in past years and the power of their teachings handed down through storytelling and oral rendition. We are one and our stories all lead to the mysteries of who and what we are on this planet and in this time.

Part Two dedicates its chapters to the Elements and the role they play in the practice of Druidry. These are the cornerstones of the natural world and as such are held in the utmost sacredness to those on a Druid’s path. I particularly liked the way in which Ivan drew you in with experience and a very simple, yet rich in layers of meaning accounting of the energies.

In keeping with the tradition of experience that is so richly laden within a Druid’s path, I am purposefully keeping this review brief. The greater worth of its information is to be found by your diving into its pages and immersing yourself in an ancient practice of cultivating awareness of all that is of this natural world; most importantly ourselves. This book is a treasure of wisdom for anyone on a spiritual path that integrates our responsibility as stewards of our planet and our inter-connectedness. It is a read I would highly recommend, not as encouragement of taking this path as your own, although you may find that resonance, but simply as a book dedicated to living in accord with the mysteries and magic of the Cosmos and how we may empower that work within ourselves.

The Bardic Book of Becoming: An Introduction to Modern Druidry on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Book Review – Santa Muerte: The History, Rituals, and Magic of Our Lady of the Holy Death by Tracey Rollin

February, 2019

Book Review
Santa Muerte: The History, Rituals, and Magic of Our Lady of the Holy Death
by Tracey Rollin

I have always had a great attraction for the image of Death. When I was eleven, I received a Dover coloring book of Medieval prints and a box of watercolor paints. Many of the pictures I painted and used in collages but the picture of “Death and the Maiden”, I put on my wall after I painted it and it has been on one of my walls of whatever house I have lived in ever since. Let this sink in – I was eleven in 1971 and I am now fifty-eight years old.

In my twenties, I followed the Grateful Dead. One of the highest points of that era was being backstage at the Barton Hall concert at Cornell University on May 16, 1981, just days before my twenty-first birthday – I met the entire band, including of course, Jerry Garcia, who had eyes that twinkled like Santa Claus. I bought this t-shirt at this concert and I wore it until it was at a rag but I still have it because – because of all the memories attached to it.

I went to Mexico in the mid-1990’s and while I saw mostly images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I do remember seeing the garishly painted skulls of what I now know were images of Santa Muerte in the markets that surrounded the resort town in which we were staying. I thought they were interesting but I was more attracted to the images of the Lady of Guadalupe. I loved the mosaics of Her that were built into the walls of the town. I took pictures of that and one of them I cut down into a small devotional picture. Later, I attached it to a magnet so I could put it on my fridge, where it is today.

And of course I know about El Dias De Los Muertos – the Day of the Dead. When I was young girl, I used to read Trixie Belden mysteries – they were competition to the better-known and more popular Nancy Drew mystery books. Originally written by Julie Campbell, the sixth book in the series, Mystery in Arizona – which was the last mystery Campbell wrote for the series – deals with the mystery of the Mexican workers leaving without a trace to eat “the dead” and “skeletons” and “skulls”. The one problem with this story is that it takes place over the Yule holiday and not during Samhain, which is when El Dias Los Muertos actually happens. But that was my first introduction to the term “the Day of the Dead” and the customs that surround it, even though there were many mistakes in the entire story.

I also am a suicide survivor. I have tried at least six times. The last time was April 6, 2004 and I celebrate that date every year now. I joke that “Death doesn’t want me” but of course the fact is, if it’s not your time, it’s not your time. And I know better than to try to die, even though I often long for Death in a most basic way. I know I just have to wait for my time.

I realize now that I was looking for Santa Muerte. I realize that my longing for Death is not an actual wish to die but is a longing for Our Lady of the Holy Death.

When I heard about Santa Muerte: The History, Rituals, and Magic of Our Lady of the Holy Death by Tracey Rollin, published in 2017 by Weiser , I jumped on the chance to read it. Because I had so many other books to read first, it sat untouched for nearly six months before I had the time to give it the attention it deserved. But once I cracked it open, I couldn’t set it down.

Of course I Googled Tracey Rollins. Her website is here: http://traceyrollin.com/ She looks to be about twenty or maybe thirty years younger than me – at any rate, she looks young enough to be my daughter. I mention this because on her website and in Santa Muerte, she talks about her Catholic childhood, and I too, was raised as a Catholic. But being older than Rollins, my Catholic childhood would have been a bit different – I remember the Latin Mass and when the “New” Mass was introduced – and we have a different background, since she was raised in New Mexico by a German immigrant mother and I was raised in Western New York in a predominantly German-Polish community; my personal ethnic background is German-Scots-Irish-French. But as I read, I could identify on so many levels that I felt that I was conversing with someone who had been down many of the same roads I had been. A soul sister, as they say on the streets.

I think one of the things I liked best about this book is that it is so well-grounded in history. Rollins talks extensively about all the roots of Santa Muerte – the Aztec roots, the European Pagan roots, the Catholic Sainthood roots, as well as the African Orisha roots. Like her better-known counterpart, The Lady of Guadalupe, Santa Muerte is definitely a New World goddess! There is so much to love about Santa Muerte. She doesn’t care who you are or where you are from. In fact, if you are poor, addicted, homeless, abused, on the run, living on the streets or in the shadows, working in bars, or in policework or EMT work, or doing construction work or any other kind of dangerous work, Santa Muerte is your guardian saint. How many times have you been in a terrible place and that scary face turned into the most caring person you ever met? That homeless person who shared her coffee with you or helped you find your way home? That’s Santa Muerte. She’s in the subways and the streets and the shelters. She’s the nurse who seems so tough but is the softest touch on the floor. She’s the old woman you never notice until you need her. She’s the face of the ultimate mother – Death.

There are seven aspects to Santa Muerte – seven colors for seven aspects. White is purity. Blue is daily living and relationships. Green is ethics, justice and law. Gold is wealth. Red is sex and passion. Purple is magic. Black is negation and dissolution. But Rollins points out that:

“Even within the seven colors of Santa Muerte, there is some variation and substitution. One common variation is to replace the gold aspect of Santa Muerte with a yellow or amber aspect that is primarily dedicated to healing. Some practitioners use pink version of Santa Muerte instead of the red aspect for spells involving love and affection instead of lust. There exists a brown version of Sante Muerte, chosen specifically for invention in earthly matters and for the manifestation of the practitioner’s desires. Some claim she is the mistress of all practical business matters, splitting this away from the blue aspect and this isolation its knowledge and empathy-enhancing qualities.” (Rollins, 82).

Rollins tells you how to choose a color for properly resolving your problems but she also advises getting a Santa Muerte statue that displays all her seven colors, at least for your first statue, especially when you are setting up an altar to Her. Chapter Six is dedicated to the art of creating a proper Santa Muerte altar. Anyone who has set up any kind of altar will be familiar with many of the aspects of altar-building; however, there are a few details to remember when you are working with Santa Muerte. First of all, she likes Florida Water. I always thought Florida Water was a brand of cologne that you bought in Florida – my grandmother always brought back a bottle when she went to Florida every winter – but it’s the name of a scent formula that was first produced in 1808 and has always remained popular (Rollins, 99). For some reason, the spirits of the death love the scent of Florida Water. Rollins includes a recipe for making your own Florida Water on page 100. Most of the ingredients can be found in any major supermarket or pharmacy.

Of course you need candles – it is possible, nowadays, to find Santa Muerte novena candles in the Goya aisle of your supermarket with the other novena candles – I thought they were just happy skull candles for El Dias De Los Muertos, but now I know better. The next time I go to the large Tops supermarket on the West Side of Buffalo, I am going to get myself one. But if you can’t find a candle with the image of Santa Muerte on it, you should be able to find one with the seven colors. I’ve seen those for several years now and I just didn’t know what they meant. I’m going to get one of those, too – and do a seven-day novena, meditating each day on each aspect of Santa Muerte.

Other items commonly found on a Santa Muerte altar are apples, aloe, butterflies, a black mirror, a bowl of dirt, a bowl of salt, a bowl of water, and a censor for burning incense. Santa Muerte likes the scent of rosemary incense, myrrh and sweet grass. And naturally she wants candy – sugar skulls if you can get them

You will want a statue of Santa Muerte but if you can’t get one, a picture of her will do (Rollins, 104).

The next two chapters are about two rituals that are commonly associated with Catholics: praying the rosary and a novena. Within the Catholic Church, these are specific kinds of prayers that produce powerful results if done with the proper devotion and dedication; however, these kinds of devotional prayers are not exclusive to Catholics, as Rollins points out:

Meditation beads are actually a common spiritual accessory. They have been used for thousands of years by people following a variety of spiritual beliefs worldwide. For instance, many Buddhists, Hindus, and
Sikhs employ a long 108-bead strand of prayer beads referred to as mala beads. They are often used to count repetitions of short prayers called mantras, or the names of gods or saints…Muslims also use medi-
tation beads, called misba?ah. These beads are used to recite the ninety- nine names of Allah. Catholics use chaplets and are famous for their use of the rosary, but the use of meditation beads has spread to some
Protestants denominations as well. (Rollins, 137).

Like most Catholics, I can’t remember actually learning to pray the Rosary. It seems like I have always known how to do it, although when I was very little, I used to pray the “Our Father” to start it off instead of “The Apostle’s Creed”. By the time I made my First Communion at the age of seven, I was praying it properly like a good little Catholic girl. My mother instructed me to pray the Rosary whenever I was angry or upset with one of my brothers or sisters and that seemed to be most of the time. She also told me to pray the Rosary when I was unable to sleep, since I have been an insomniac since a young child. I was usually able to fall asleep within chanting a few decades of “Hail Marys” but some nights, I prayed through the entire circlet and stared into the darkness.

When I decided that I had enough of patriarchal religions and really threw myself into learning everything I could about Goddess religions, Wicca and Paganism, one of the things I really missed was praying the Rosary. I rewrote the prayers to reflect my new views. “The Apostle’s Creed” became a recitation of the names of my favorite goddesses. The “Our Father” became “Our Mother”. “Hail Mary” remained pretty much the same, although I changed “the Lord” to “the Lady” and left out the name of Jesus after “blessed be the fruit of thy womb”. The “Glory Be” uses the Maiden, Mother and the Crone, instead of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. It took a while to get used to saying these prayers like this but now I’m so used them like this that I can’t say them any other way.

Rollins has alternate prayers for the Santa Muerte Rosary as well. All the prayers have been changed – not one is in any way, form or shape like its original. They are all dedicated to Santa Muerte. Here is an example of one, meant to take the place of the “Hail Mary”:

I call upon Santa Muerte, the Holy Queen of Death,
Who commands all influence and authority.
Please grant me your power and your protection,
Blessing me and keeping me now and always.
Amen. (so mote it be, etc.) (Rollins, 149).

Rollins recommends using rosaries that are dedicated to Santa Muerte. I found them easily when I Googled “Santa Muerte Rosary”. There’s a lot of them on Etsy. The most popular colors are red, white, and black, or rosaries with all seven colors. They run anywhere from $10 to $40.

The next part of the book concerns novenas. Novenas are a set of prayers that are said over a certain amount of days – nine days, twenty-one days, forty days, even fifty-four days. Rollins writes, “The purpose may be something as simple as praying for the souls of the dead or something more specific such as asking a particular saint for help.” She continues, “Performing a novena is actually an ancient, pre-Christian habit…Although the term originally (and correctly) refers to prayers over nine days, it has also become more generalized to mean a series of prayers said every day for an extended period.” (Rollins, 151).

Novenas to Santa Muerte are said over the course of seven days, instead of nine days, focusing on each of her colored aspects each day as a gift of Death. For instance, perhaps on day one you focus your prayers on Niña Blanca, Sweet Sister Death, your prayers will help with purification, illumination, initiation, cleansing and protection (Rollins, 172). Rollins lists favorite offerings of Niña Blanca, which are incidentally all white: white candle, flowers, and candies. And then there are three whole pages of prayers for Niña Blanca. Rollins repeats this for every aspect of Santa Muerte – Niña Violeta, the Royal Queen, Niña Azul, the Gracious One, Niña Dorada, Lucky Lady Death, Niña Roja, Queen of Passion, Niña Verde, the Just Judge, and Niña Negra, the Mother of Tears.

I would think that finishing a novena to Santa Muerte – reciting all these prayers and meditating fully on the aspects of all these Queen Mothers – would bring an enlightenment to the practitioner that is quite powerful. Although I have never been a devotee of Santa Muerte, I plan to start a devotion to Her. Her promises are persuasive. There’s no “fluffy bunny” bullshit with Santa Muerte. If you want it, you can get it with Her – no matter what it is. The motive doesn’t matter. Rollins writes. “Santa Muerte is notable because she is not concerned with the underlying motivations driving the requests of the devotees.” (Rollins, 3). While we should always be concerned with our own motives, it is refreshing to discuss a deity who doesn’t care about human motivation whatsoever and does whatever She wants to do because that’s what She does. And when you think about it, when does Death care about human motivation or about anything that humans do anyway? Death laughs at humans.

In closing, I have to say that I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s wonderfully researched, beautifully written, and without a doubt, a book I will be referencing and reading again and again in the months and years to come. I am so glad that Santa Muerte: The History, Rituals, and Magic of Our Lady of the Holy Death by Tracey Rollins was sent to me and I had the chance to read it and write about it. I hope everyone reading this goes right out and finds it in their local library, bookstore, or orders it online.

Brightest Blessings!

Santa Muerte: The History, Rituals, and Magic of Our Lady of the Holy Death on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Book Review – The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils and More by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

February, 2019

Book Review
The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils and More
by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
Published by Adams Media
Copyright 2017
Pages: 235

If you are starting down the path of a green witch, you will appreciate this complete introduction to the natural magic of herbs, flowers, essential oils, gems and more.

This book is a slightly edited version of her book, “The Way of the Green Witch: Rituals, Spells, and Practices to Bring You Back to Nature,” published in 2006, also by Adams Media.

The information is easily understood and put into practice.

Arin Murphy-Hiscock describes the path of a green witch as “intensely personal,” driven by individual strengths and talents, and aligned with the climate of the geographic location and the energy of that environment. That makes each path individual, as green witches seek harmony between nature and humans in an ongoing celebration of life.

“The practice of the green witch doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, fancy tool, or complicated rituals. Perhaps more than any other path of witchcraft, the path of a green witch rests on your philosophy of living and how you interact with the world around you,” Murphy-Hiscock states.

“Like kitchen witchcraft, green witchcraft emphasizes practicality and everyday activity. There are no special words, no unique prayers, no uniforms, no holy texts, no obligatory tools, and no specific holidays … unless you create them for yourself. While the green path is very much the art of daily practice, it isn’t set apart as sacred. It recognizes the sacred in everyday life. The path of a green witch is sacred – very much so – but not isolated from the secular. The secular life itself is what is sacred to the green witch.”

Green witches descended from folk healers and practitioners of folk magic: the village herbalists, midwives, healers and wise women. The book explains the differences between other practices, noting a green witch opens to nature’s energies and works with them subtly, rather than other practices where energy is raised, directed and released.

The book touches on ethics, personal energy centers, making a home a sacred space, environmental energy, the power of the seasons and astrological influences. There are pages covering the magic of trees, the energy of flowers, powers of herbs, and using stones and crystals. One chapter covers gardening and another is on healing.

Some recipes are provided for incense, spell bags, teas and foods, and suggestions for ritual are also included.

It is well written and informative, and while it is not in-depth enough for the advanced practitioner, new seekers will find it a valuable foundation of knowledge.

Many of those leaving comments on Amazon noted the book covers nature’s magic in an inclusive manner, so those of any faith, culture or tradition can embrace the practice and experience a deeper, more magical connection with nature while moving through daily life.

The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

The Sober Pagan

February, 2019

The Universe Has Your Back … and More!

One of the gifts I received at Yule was a set of meditation cards entitled “The Universe Has Your Back”. Beautifully designed by Gabrielle Bernstein, with artwork by Micaela Ezra, these are some of the loveliest cards I have ever seen. I was first going to review them for “Seeing the Signs” but after looking through them thoroughly, I realized that they weren’t divinatory in the classic sense but rather meant just for mediation. Not that Tarot cards, Lenormard cards and Oracle cards can’t be used for meditation – we all know that all these cards can be used very effectively as meditative tools! But “The Universe Has Your Back” belongs to a class of cards that are only for meditation. For this reason, I thought they were perfect for reviewing in The Sober Pagan.

First off, these cards are beautiful. Everything about them – the box, the back of the cards, the card stock itself, the feel of the cards. They are top-quality all the way.

The inside of the box has this little message.

This is the back of the cards. I really like this. Even before you get to any of the meditative messages, there’s this lovely image that begs for its own contemplative consideration. It’s as simple as haiku but every bit as effective.

For the past few weeks, I have used these cards in my everyday mediation session. Instead of using a Daily Mediation book, such as Twenty-Four Hours A Day by Richmond Walker or Each Day a New Beginning by Karen Casey or one of the many other AA-approved books, I decided to simply pull one card from the pack and meditate on it. I’m not shuffling the pack or doing anything like that – I’m just taking the cards as they come – one card at a time – one day at a time. Each card is beautiful. I find myself looking forward to seeing what the card is going to be each day!

So far, these are my favorite cards:

One thing I’ve noticed is that any one of these cards could make an awesome poster. Maybe I’m an elderly hippie but that’s what I think.

So who is Gabrielle Bernstein, the creator of “The Universe Has Your Back” cards? She is the author of The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith, published by Hay House. I have not read this book and the reviews were all over the place in terms of good versus bad.

To find out more, I Googled her and found her website. Here is the link to it: https://gabbybernstein.com/ There are links to lessons on how to “Detox” yourself from being judgmental and how to pray for surrender. There’s another one for a “cord-cutting meditation”. There’s a link to her blog and a link to a place where you can “shop” for all kinds of stuff, including “The Universe Has Your Back” cards.

But of course, Gabrielle Bernstein is only one-half of “The Universe Has Your Back” card team – the artwork is by Micaela Ezra. Here is her website: http://www.micaelaezra.com/ Do yourself a favor and check it out. Although her artwork is based in Jewish philosophical thought, it is universal in its beauty and truth. I read a few of her blog posts and I look forward to taking the time to read them more closely when my surroundings are properly quiet enough for study. And as a craftswoman, I especially love her work with textiles.

So I am quite pleased with this particular Yule gift! Not only did I receive the gift of the cards themselves – and their meditative messages – but I learned about the creator of the cards and the wonderful artist of the cards. And every day – one day at a time – I have a very valuable sober tool with which to work!

I very highly recommend “The Universe Has Your Back” cards.

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

References:

Gabrielle Bernstein and Micaela Ezra. “The Universe Has Your Back”: A 52-Card Deck. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2017.

Gabrielle Bernstein. https://gabbybernstein.com/

Micaela Ezra. http://www.micaelaezra.com/

The Universe Has Your Back: A 52-card Deck on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Book Review – Psychedelic Mystery Traditions: Spirit Plants – Magical Practices – Ecstatic States by Thomas Hatsis

February, 2019


Book Review
Psychedelic Mystery Traditions
Spirit Plants – Magical Practices – Ecstatic States
By Thomas Hatsis
271 pp. Park Street Press

Although it has been the subject of great speculation and demonetization by various religious and political bodies, psychedelic mystery tradition remains one of the great buried seeds of Paganism, hidden under mythology, misinformation, and religious and political oppression — not to mention suppression of information. In “Psychedelic Mystery Traditions,” Thomas Hatsis uncovers a vast history of psychedelic spirit plants in Western tradition and ritual, focusing especially on Greco-Roman tradition and the early days of Christianity.

From the earliest prehistoric discoveries of psychedelic plants and their spiritual potential to the conflation of their use with Satanic witchcraft, Hatsis delves deeply, weaving together the political scenes in which each stage of pharmaka* use developed, while following a coherent narrative through the years. For those who were hoping for a more international subject matter, it’s useful to note that Hatsis doesn’t verge far from the focus of Europe and the Near East — you won’t find information here about the use of ayahuasca in Peru, or psilocybin mushrooms in China.

What you will find is an extensively-researched, academic approach to a controversial subject that synthesizes herbalism, ethnopharmacology, entheogenic practice, ritual, mythology, politics, religion, and linguistics. This may make the book a bit slow going for those who lack the context for the work, but anyone with a good familiarity with Western mystical traditions, herbalism, early Christianity, or mythology will probably find something to enjoy here.

The book boasts a treasure trove bibliography. Hatsis occasionally cites and refers to his other book, called “The Witches’ Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic,” where the subject matter overlaps, but he also taps an impressive number of primary sources, as well as many modern authors. In a few cases, he points them out only to call them out, diverging at several points to argue some misconceptions, such as the popularized idea that ergotism poisoning is similar to the LSD experience (it’s actually much more dangerous, poisonous, and unpleasant), or that the origins of Santa Claus lie in the historical shamanic use of Aminata muscaria (a popular theory for which there is little evidence). It is clear that Hatsis has great love for this subject, but he also preserves respect for the academic process. In exploring the controversy surrounding the historical use of pharmaka, he has an even hand and doesn’t play favorites on the basis of his own bias, pointing fingers not only at those who dismissed or vilified these spirit plants, but also at those who misused and abused these plants for nefarious purposes, such as poisoning, manipulation, and rape.

This rare glimpse into the mechanisms and mythology of mystery traditions is also peppered with humorous observations, as Hatsis refers to bad trips as “what we would call a bummer,” relates amusing historical anecdotes, and makes the occasional pun. But where the book shines the most is in those poetic moments when Hatsis explores the narratives of mythology and ritual that weaved together the experience of pharmaka by exposing and bestowing new cosmological understanding. In these stories, the relationship between humans and spirit plants takes on a life of its own, illuminating both the dark recesses of the human psyche, and the strange roots of spirit plant practice.

Psychedelic Mystery Traditions can be found on Hatsis’ website, https://psychedelicwitch.com/, along with many other writings and YouTube videos as well.

Psychedelic Mystery Traditions: Spirit Plants, Magical Practices, and Ecstatic States on Amazon

[*An all-encompassing Greek term for the various plant-derived substances whose uses included theogenesis, medicine, recreation, aphrodisiac, poison, and more.]

For those whose interests are primarily herbological, here’s a short list of some of the spirit plants and pharmaka mentioned in this volume: 

Aconite, amanita mascara, barley, cannabis, haoma, hash, hemlock, henbane, kykeon, laurel, LSD, mandrake, mushrooms, opium, solanaceae (including but not limited to Atropa belladonna), and wine.

***

About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

Book Review – Son of Chicken Qabalah: Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford’s (Mostly Painless) Practical Qabalah Course by Lon Milo DuQuette

February, 2019

Book Review
Son of Chicken Qabalah: Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford’s (Mostly Painless) Practical Qabalah Course
by Lon Milo DuQuette
Published by Weiser
Copyright November 2018
Pages: 235

This book is a sequel to “Chicken Qabalah” published in 1997. The prologue states this book can stand alone, but it was written assuming the reader has read the first book or is at least “generally familiar with the elementary Qabalistic principles included in that work.”

It is a work of fiction about the teachings of the controversial Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford from the first book, who is finally determined to be dead 21 years after his unexplained disappearance. His unorthodox teachings continue because his previously unknown notebooks, ritual scripts and an assortment of documents were discovered in a storage locker. Lon Milo Duquette draws from this an initiation process “not so much a matter of ‘educating the unawakened student,’ but of ‘awakening the student to be educated.’”

He adds a second subtitle: “The Secret Initiation Ceremonies, Exercises, and Meditations of a (probably completely fictitious) Qabalah Initiatory Society.”

Not having read the first book, it took me a while to appreciate this one, written as a script, complete with stage directions, notes, meditations and instruction that add up to serious teachings.

It helped to listen to a December 28, 2018 podcast with Thelma Now! in which DuQuette related the backstory. He explained “Chicken Qabalah” was a collection of the fundamentals and gags he used for the Monday night magic class he taught at a Lodge of Ordo Templi Orientis in Costa Mesa, California.

“Qabalah can be really boring,” he said in the podcast.

He realized people remembered information better when it was attached to a gag, joke or a funny illusion. So every year, he said he made his teaching techniques goofier and goofier. His was pretending to be teaching like an ancient Qabalist teaching at a prep school.

During one class, a man became angry, and sputtering, called DuQuette’s Qabalah teachings “chicken.”

Rather than taking it as the insult it was intended to be, DuQuette realized “an angel of God” had just given him “the name of the kind of Qabalah that I teach.”

DuQuette continued, “I just wanted to say to him, ‘Well you know, my rabbi says that there is no such thing as correct Hebrew pronunciation’ or ‘My rabbi said they probably didn’t even speak Hebrew the way we think.’ … I wanted to say that, but I didn’t have a rabbi to refer him to, so I thought I would make up my own rabbi and refer to myself. That way I could call my rabbi a genius.”

What the rabbi teaches in “Son of Chicken Qabalah” through the materials he left behind is a handbook that will enable readers to create their “own personal Hierarchy of Heaven.”

DuQuette said the book grew out of the course he taught to a small group of competent mystics in China over the course of a year, broken into four three-day seminars held on the solstices and the equinoxes.

Because of the language barrier, DuQuette worked to get across his message in as few words as possible. To help his translator, he scripted everything. Those materials formed this book.

The book presents detailed initiation rituals for the rabbi’s secret society whereby a Holy Teacher and a Worthy Guide lead initiates through a three-degree Qabalah Mystery School. Each degree covers a group of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each letter is a path on the Tree of Life.

The first three – Mother letters – create space with the directions up and down, right and left, and front and back. Motion in that space creates time.

Next are the seven Double letters, where light is broken into seven layers of the color spectrum and sound is broken into seven vibratory musical notes.

The third section introduces the twelve Simple letters that are the keys to unlock the Twelve Gates to the City.

At each stage, the letters’ meanings are given and explored on multiple levels to embed them into the initiate’s mind. In addition to scripted initiation rituals including music, images and tasks, there are study programs and assignments. It provides a multi-sensory approach that includes mudras, a pitch pipe, flashing colors and mandalas.

The appendix contains a reference library, end notes and a summary of each of the 32 Paths of Wisdom.

In the podcast last year, DuQuette explained, “Instead of teaching Qabalah and memorizing stuff, I thought, ‘I am just going to initiate them; I’m going to implant the Hebrew alphabet systematically step by step: three Mother letters, seven Double letters, twelve Simple letters. I’m going to implant them using the psychodrama of the initiatory process.”

Considering each chapter was presented in a long weekend with a detailed script and precise rituals, and then students had ninety days to complete the exercises, I did not get well enough into this book to get anywhere near internalizing the entire Hermetic Qabalistic universe, let alone be able to it in magical practices.

However, there are enough details and simple explanations that would bring a group or individual on a creation adventure.

DuQuette closes the book writing, “As a matter of fact, using your mastery of the Hebrew alphabet, you could (right now) set to work to create your own personal and unique names from Hebrew letters enumerating to numbers that have eight as a conspicuous factor. Your knowledge of the proper colors reveals what these angels look like; your knowledge of their elemental, planetary, or zodiacal makeup reveals their specific powers and gifts.

“Think about it – your own private hierarchy of spiritual beings – immediately and intimately linked to you, because they are your creations. That’s the kind of thing grown-up Qabalists do! That’s what Qabalah is about! … Create your own angels! Create your own personal Hierarchy of Heaven. Think of it as an exercise, or think of it as your Great Work!”

I glanced way ahead for that, but it convinced me to add this to my collection of magic books. And, should you care about ratings, the five reviews it book got on Amazon are all fives.

Son of Chicken Qabalah: Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford’s (Mostly Painless) Practical Qabalah Course on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Review – Find Your Happy Daily Mantra Deck by Shannon Kaiser

February, 2019

Review

Find Your Happy

Daily Mantra Deck

by Shannon Kaiser

Healing, Wellness and Self-Empowerment are a few of the buzz words we seek in our ever-changing and highly challenging world. This neat little 56-card and 144pg. book is all that you need to begin a practice of bringing healing, change and positive direction into your life. Ms. Kaiser uses the modality of Mantras as a tool for creatively changing how you think, respond and react to whatever life throws your way.

What I particularly liked about this self-help tool is that the author has the necessary knowledge of psychology, personal experience and an Eastern Perspective which makes this set one that can be used and appreciated by a variety of philosophical and spiritual beliefs.

…”Ms. Kaiser has been named Top 100 Women to Watch in Wellness by mindbodygreen.com and is the founder of Playwiththeworld.com-named as one of the “Top 100 Self-Help Blogs”. Her work has been recognized across the globe by media giants such as HuffPost Live, Spirituality and Health Magazine, Australian Vogue and Entrepreneur Magazine.”…

So, when I say this is a well-respected voice that has established a presence in a market that is overrun by those who pull from the ether, this statement comes from one who has explored a plethora of self-help books, media and more. If you visit Ms. Kaiser’s website you’ll find this statement…..

..”.I spent years at war with myself and the world. I felt unworthy and unlovable. Life was an uphill battle”….

…which seems to be the pivotal point of creation of the Happy Deck, as well as her other books. The deck is meant to be used in an affirmative way and each of the 56-cards is highlighted in the accompanying book giving suggestions about use, possible interpretation and a question around the card’s message that leads to further contemplation and self-exploration.

A very nice integration of Mantra and divination (work to reveal answers through the use of a variety of tools laden with specific symbology) allows for the reader to be very mindful of the interpretation given and how the cards may be used beyond simply a daily or weekly activity. There are five ways of engaging the cards- Single Card draw-Relationship Draw-Three Card Draw-Weekly (Seven Card) Draw and for the more ambitious and committed a Year In Overview (Twelve Card) Reading.

Each card is numbered and has a specific Mantra written in beautiful script on a background of color and pattern. Mantras are an ancient Eastern practice of repetitive statement, much like a short prayer or affirmation, that in the repeating of them gather energy around the vibration of the words and a meaning that imprint on your psyche. The more the Mantra is used the deeper the inroads that are energetically created in how and what you out-picture of yourself. These Mantras may have any goal in mind, but the magick in their effectiveness lay in the intention you are forming around each statement, each repetition and the belief you are generating in hearing and uttering these words of power.

I chose a single card pick with the intention of how I could keep myself more present in the moment. The card chosen was:

Gratitude is the Life Force of Everything

I sat with this message for a bit and then turned to the appropriate page for the number of the Mantra I had selected. The meaning assigned reminded me that I may be turning my focus and attention towards things that are not productive (and not keeping me in the moment authentically. And, that …”by turning your focus to gratitude, you will open up to new opportunities.”. More to think about! There was another affirmation that could be used that expanded on the idea of gratitude and a final question: “In what area of my life can I be more thankful?” That final question is one I will carry with me every day.

Pretty simple stuff, yet in the simplicity I think we all could use an effective and enjoyable way to find our happiest and joy-filled self. And, I would say that this deck of beautifully crafted cards fills the bill quite nicely.

Visit the author’s page: https://www.playwiththeworld.com

Find Your Happy Daily Mantra Card Deck on Amazon

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About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

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