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Book Review – Wicca, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need by Leanna Greenaway

April 1st, 2018

The cover states that the book is plain and simple and, also, the only book you’ll ever need. The forward of the book was written by Judika Illes, who is, also, an author and I quite liked it. The first chapter informs the reader about Witches and magic. She touches on the different types of Witches like Hedge, Traditional, Gardnerian, etc. It’s nice because she just does a quick little description of each, but it’s enough to give the reader a good idea of the differences between them. After that, she mentions Covens and how they were formed when Wiccans were persecuted so they had to worship in secret. Then she gets into Angelic Wicca right at the end and how she has personally chosen to follow the Angelic Wiccan path. It’s a great first chapter considering all that she mentions, but it doesn’t seem overwhelming at any point.

Chapter two breaks down Wicca and positive thoughts. “Life is like a big classroom. With each day, we learn and encounter new experience, and although at times the problems we face are hard, by going through the processes, we climb that spiritual ladder and evolve to a higher plane.” Has got to be my favourite quote from the book. It resonated to me as someone who has survived a lot of abuse and it made me feel like maybe my next life may be better due to the struggles I’ve already endured. She ends the chapter after going over some “Wiccan Ground Rules”

As with almost all Wiccan books, there is a chapter about Tools. That’s chapter 3 here. She gives a good list of typical items, touches on colour significance in the candle section and briefly talks about all the things you should have on your altar. This book lives up to its claim of being plain and simple, but in a good way. The way she just touches the tip of everything would make it a great book for a beginner.

Lunar magic is next. I think lunar magic should also be a pretty standard topic in Wicca, as a lot of what we do is based on the moon cycle. “The gravitational field of a full moon changes energy particles that reach the earth, influencing the way that we think and feel by changing the functions of our brain”. She informs the reader about the various cycles and the importance of each.

Chapter 5 is a very short chapter about initiation, specifically self-dedication and initiation, with just a few steps. The following chapter is about growing your own garden, the benefits of that and some ideas on which plants to grow and why. It’s one of the longer chapters of the book, and for good reason. She writes about what would be good for teas, tonics and superstitions, but again, in a user-friendly way with nothing being too complicated.

Chapter seven delves into animal magic. It’s another very short chapter that doesn’t get into much. I would have liked this section to be a bit better as half of the chapter is a personal story that is nice, but considering how much space if takes up, there isn’t a lot on animal magic itself. The tarot magic chapter is next, and that one is much better, with a lot of good information in a short amount of space and she writes about how “all tarot cards hold a magic of their own, and they can all help to bring about a positive result to your spells.”

I really liked chapters nine and ten. Chapter nine is about magnetic magic and chapter 10 is about the power of the pendulum. I, personally, use a pendulum all the time to help me with tough decisions and she suggested a great way to use a dictionary to help with divination, and the way she talks about the healing powers of magnets, I think a lot of readers would like it. She touches on some basic spells as well, which they are plain and simple again, so beginners can feel like these are spells they can do easily.

The rest of the book is spells specifically. There are spells for love, health, wealth, prosperity, happy families, career and willpower. All of the spells are user-friendly, and don’t need much for supplies. I am a fan of casting a circle before doing certain types of magic, but the author suggests just sitting and asking for protection. I personally wouldn’t feel safe enough to perform some of these spells without a proper circle, but I’m sure a lot of people would be fine with it. I think once a person has had experience with darkness, they are a bit more cautious.

The book overall is only 127 pages, and so it really is “plain and simple”, but she touches on a lot of different topics in those few pages. I would recommend this book to anyone starting out, but not really to anyone that has been practicing Wicca for a while. I still took some information out of it, as I do every book and I was really happy with it. The book is a quick and easy read, and I know if I meet anyone who is interested in Wicca I would for sure tell them about this book. I, also, think I will be looking into more of Greenaways’ books as it seems like she knows what she is talking about, and I love that she doesn’t over-complicate anything. I am happy I had the opportunity to read this book and write a review for it.

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Book review

The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 36

Water: Our Primal Source

Published by the Witches’ Almanac Ltd.

almanac

This almanac, founded in 1971, has become a traditional pagan reference. It starts with the beginning of the astrological year, running from Spring 2016-17. Its theme is water; the current year’s theme is air.

One of the parts I find most useful is the moon calendar noting the moon’s phases and place in the zodiac. I also enjoy the year’s astrological forecasts for each zodiac sign, beginning with the vernal equinox. Each two-page spread touches on highlights for the year, health, love, spirituality and finance.

Other reference information includes astrological keys, eclipses, retrograde planetary motion and how to plant by the phases of the moon. While all this information is available somewhere online, it’s nice to have it all in one place you can trust.

The rest of the 206 pages are a collection of ancient lore and legends, trivia and wisdom. Among this issue’s lineup of obscure topics are “Waynaboozhoo: The Great Flood Story of the Ojibwa – A traditional tale of good and evil,” “The Margate Grotto: A Mystery Spelled in Shells,” and “The Singing Tower and Spook Hill: A Sacred Journey though Old Florida.”

The almanac’s short articles present a mix of perspectives and traditions; with more than 40, there is sure to be something of interest to you. Black-and-white images appear on nearly every page.

If you use the moon at all in your practice, you’ll be reaching for this again and again.

 

This is a lovely little book, one that can easily fit inside a woman’s bag, or a man’s briefcase.

It is broken down into two parts – The Foundations of Worship and Building Rituals.

Part One is broken down in “Prayer” and “Rituals”. It describes how, yes, pagans so pray, a description of prayer and how to write your own.

Part Two is all about Rituals

— How to Begin

— Home

— Callings

— Praise

— Thanksgiving

— Consecrations & Blessings

— Separate sections for Time of Day/Month/Year/Lore

— Endings

The last section is “Petitioning the Gods” and includes, requests, offerings, healing and society and land.

The book is chock-full of prayers for all occasions. For those who prefer to use the words of others in their rituals and daily offerings, there is much here to choose from. For others, many of these can be the base from which you craft your own prayers.

For myself, I tend to just speak from my heart in my daily prayers. However, I can definitely see myself referring to this book again and again in composing more formal rituals.

This little book would make a nice addition to your occult library.

 

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About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

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Review of Sasha Fenton’s Secrets of Chinese divination: A Beginner’s Guide to 11 Oracle Systems

As readers of this column know, I have been a fan of Sasha Fenton’s for years so it was with great delight that I opened this new (to me) book about Chinese divination.

Just under an inch in thickness, this richly colored volume is filled with the wisdom of the ages. As Fenton explains in the first chapter, there are links between the various divinations – they share common ideas, such as the “root concepts” of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements (page 2). In addition to this, many of the major divination systems cross-reference each other in many ways. As I read the book, I would become confused and have to refer back to this or that chapter and refresh my memory – sometimes I would have to skip ahead to some other chapter to find some other reference! But as the Buddha said: “Confusion is good!”

The first divination system Fenton covers is the Ming Shu or what we know as Chinese Astrology. If you are aware that you are born in the year of the Horse or the year of the Rabbit, then you know a little about this complicated system. And it is complicated! If it was just a question of the year you were born and whether you were born in a Yang (Active) Year or Yin (Receptive) Year and the Element of your year – that would be enough. For instance, I was born in 1960 – that makes me an Active Metal Rat. In general, Rats are intelligent, tenacious, artistic and they hate to be rushed – much like the Taurus sign under which I am also born. A Metal Rat is “idealistic, deeply emotional, clever with money…they suffer from jealousy and envy.” (page 16) She continues to explore the influences of the elements. Metal Rat women are “very demanding. They pursue the man they fancy, and the guy must toe the line or suffer the consequences.” (page 52). And how!

Fenton says there are ways to forecast with Chinese Astrology, but again, it’s a different concept than how it’s done in the West. There are “Active” years, “Harmonious” years, and “Difficult” years, and these depend on the element of your sign as opposed to your animal. So as a Metal person, I am active in Metal year. My harmonious years are Earth and Waters years. Alas! This year, 2018, is a difficult year – it is a wood year! Fire years are also difficult for Metal people. But I would imagine that going through fire would make metal stronger, wouldn’t it? Like molten steel?

This chapter is filled with charts and lists, all designed to help the beginner diviner become adept at drawing up a horoscope for her- or himself or for anyone. If you take your time and read carefully, any confusion you may have will soon be gone.

The next chapter is about Face Reading. This was quite interesting. I liked the concept of the “Three Zones” of the face, as well as the “Thirteen Divisions”.

Each zone and each division of the face has a name and a meaning – as well as the eyes, the nose, the jaw, the ears, the forehead – every part of the face! I have admit, though – as I was reading this chapter – it seemed to me that much of the information here was medical in nature. The meaning of moles and brown spots on the skin and yellow eyes and so on. But – in the East as in the West – the witches in any village were the original doctors, so this makes sense. You’d find divination was often just medical advice.

Chapter Five is about Feng Shui, which I personally never thought was about divination. But if you want to create harmony and balance so that you are able to properly meditate and use your divinatory gifts, Feng Shui is all-important. One thing I read that I hadn’t heard before was: “a straight path that leads directly to the front door is simply asking for bad spirits to zoom in.” I had never thought of that before. This is not an issue where I now live but if it is an issue where you live, Fenton suggests breaking up the path with some tubs of plants that tumble over the path – anything that breaks up the straight line. (page 80).

The next chapter is about Hand Reading. Fenton reports that the Chinese categorize types of hands by element. Apparently, they also link it to the I-Ching, as seen by this diagram:

In her explanation of each section of the hand, she links back to Western hand interpretation but that really doesn’t make much sense to the reader, unless they’re already acquainted with Western Palmistry. Looking at the diagrams of both systems, I personally think the Chinese system is much simpler and easier to use.

Quite naturally, a chapter about the I-Ching follows the chapter about Hand Reading. I have written about the I-Ching before – it is one of my favorite methods of divination and I use it quite often. I throw pennies, as opposed to yarrow sticks (I always have pennies on hand). I like the simplicity of her explanations of the trigrams – I think I will be using this book as a reference the next time I throw the I-Ching.

Next comes a chapter called the Lunar Oracle. I am not sure at all if this is any use at all. But at the end she mentions that the Lunar Oracle “seems to show particularly strong links to the Tarot” although she personally “would opt for ancient Egypt” as the source of the Tarot (page 151). I have to add my own two cents – given the names of the days of the Oracle – they could easily be an influence for the Lenormand as well!

Chapter Nine is entitled Mah Jong Reading. As someone who has played numerous games of “Mah Jong Solitaire” on my I-Phone, I was instantly curious to know how Mah Jong could be used in a divinatory fashion. But of course – the tiles have suits, just like cards, and those suits have meaning. There are also “Honors” tiles – Winds, corresponding to the four directions, and Dragons, also four in number – and the Guardians – Flowers and Seasons – also four apiece. Like the Tarot, you think of a question as you shuffled the tiles and then you pick out thirteen tiles. You place them into a spread:

Naturally, each direction has a meaning and which tiles land on which direction determines the outcome of the reading.

This is really interesting and I am definitely going to look for a Mah Jong set so I can actually do a reading and report back to all of you about this.

The next divinatory system she reviews is called The Four Pillars of Destiny and she admits that it is so complicated that she didn’t think she could “only get it across in person” but she included it in the book because a book about Chinese divination wouldn’t be complete without it. (pages 169-70). I read through this chapter and I have to admit that it made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. I knew what the basic concepts were about but that was IT. It made me think of that first day in calculus and opening up the text book and seeing all those numbers and letters and symbols and knowing that I knew what they were – because I’d had algebra and trig – but beyond that, I was lost. The Four Pillars of Destiny are just like that.

Lo Shu is a numerology system based on the magic square. It’s also known as the Nine Star Ki but apparently that name is Japanese.

Like so many of the Chinese divinatory systems, this looks easy at first but then it opens up into a roomful of mirrors and suddenly – it’s all confusion. I have to say – this chapter – like the Mah Jong chapter – deserves a posting all of its own. I am going to definitely look into finding out more about this system of divination. Just for my own edification! But of course – whatever I find out, I will share with you!

Weighing the Bones is something completely different. I am not even sure where the name comes from. It has nothing to do with bones or weight. You have to look up your date of birth – year, month, day and time – on a series of charts and then add up the corresponding numbers. Mine all added up to a “3” which meant “A life a hard work and much travel” (page 219). Well – I can’t argue with that!

The last chapter is called The Chien Tung: Yarrow Stick divination and I always thought that yarrow sticks were used for the I-Ching – you used yarrow sticks or you used coins. But although Fenton concedes that yarrow sticks are used in I-Ching divination, she says she would “like to take yarrow stick divination into a unique direction” – she suggests connecting Yarrow Stick divination and the Tarot. For this, of course, you have to have seventy-eight sticks, numbered 1 to 78, each one meaning a card of the Tarot. There’s a chart for the correspondences:

Personally, I think this is a stretch. Ok – on one hand, I admit it’s cool, connecting the two divinatory systems – but on the other hand, the whole point of Tarot cards are the pictures on the cards. What are you supposed to do here – imagine the picture? Or just be so adept at the Tarot that you just know the concept when you draw the yarrow stick or sticks? Honestly – it really doesn’t make all that much sense to me. But to each their own!

At the very end of the book, there is a glossary.

All in all, I think Secrets of Chinese divination: a Beginner’s Guide to 11 Ancient Oracle Systems is a very fine book and I am glad to own it. I plan to use it quite often and I guarantee you that some of the topics reviewed here today we will be revisiting in the near future!

Until next month, happy divining! Brightest Blessings!

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References

Fenton, Sasha. Secrets of Chinese divination: A Beginner’s Guide to 11 Ancient Oracle Systems. Charlottesville, Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., 2003, 2018.

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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.

 

The Enchantment of Candles

 

candle1

 

With a hushed prayer, I light the sacred candle of Hekate. The flame leaps to life, casting ghostly shadows upon the temple walls. In silence, I meditate upon the day, reflecting on the blessings that I have witnessed and contemplating the challenges I faced. I thank the Queen of Shadows for the light She has provided, awakening to the illumination of lessons learned. I softy blow out the candle—hallowed gratitude upon my breath…

Simple yet effective, candle magic is a central focus of enchantment in my home. The creating of candle centered spells is both relaxing and invigorating. The choosing of the color, shape and scent of the candle is magic in the making. I can spend hours in a candle shop, relishing over all the vibrant color combinations and exotic aromas. The rubbing on of oils and rolling in enchanted herbs sends my senses into a whirlwind adventure into worlds of alluring charm.

candle2

 

One of my favorite forms of candle magic is the creation of artistic offerings. The picture above is a hallowed offering to the Nature Spirits and Faery. The fashioning of this work of art is a scared act and the magic emanating from it can be felt every time I light the candle. I have many of these around my home filled with all kinds of found objects from nature. They are like mini altars and can easily be disguised as a center peace on the kitchen table or coffee table.

candle3

 

For fast and easy candle magic, tea lights are the way to go. By adding a drop oil and a pinch of herbs appropriate for the spell, this simple charm is for those of us with busy lives. You can even carve some runes onto the top of the tea light with a toothpick or right out a charm of paper and place beneath the candle. If the scent of the burning herbs are overwhelming, sprinkle less herbs on the candle or simply sprinkle them around the candle. Make sure to burn this candle on a heatproof dish, the herbs and oil can catch fire.

 

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I found this lovely candle of Hekate on etsy. When you burn a tea light behind it, the wax figure glows. It was scented in oil and I occasionally anoint the wax with more. This is a beautiful way to show devotion to the Goddess of the Flame and each time I light the candle I ask Hekate to bless my home with happiness, health, and harmony.

While there are many forms of candle magic, these are my favorites and ones that I use on a daily basis. Be creative with this bewitching art form, the beauty that comes from the making of candle spells will bring enchantment into your home and life.

*There are many lists of the appropriate candle colors to use in magic as well as herbs and oils. I like to use my intuition on the making of many of my charms and spells. What one color says on a list may be different from how that particular color makes you feel.

 

Book Review: Love Magic: Over 250 Spells and Potions for Getting It, Keeping It, and Making It Last

 

 

by Lilith Dorsey

Published by Weiser Books, 2016

Paperback; $12.15 at Amazon

This connection between magic and eroticism is an obvious one. They both encompass absolutely every sense. We lose and find ourselves in magic and love, if we are lucky.”

So begins the introduction to this 275-page book, which seems especially appropriate for Beltane.

The first chapter presents spells for self-love and happiness.

These are the root of your magical success,” she wrote in the introduction.

That is followed by chapters on romantic, marriage, fertility, universal love and erotic adventures. As diverse as situations can be, so are the magical traditions from which the spells are drawn.

There are spells and potions for finding love, keeping love, and healing yourself so that you are ready for love. The book includes rituals for invoking goddesses of love and for love gone bad. There are even recipes for foods such as Simply Sensual Flower Fudge and Oshum Seduction Salsa, because, she writes, “Seduction is best begun at the table.”

Dorsey distinguishes between spells for a general dose of universal love and those intended to connect specific individuals, and provides spells and formulas for each. She also stresses the importance of ritual cleansing – such as baths, smudging and using magical floor washes –as “one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your home.”

Along with cleansing spells, she recommends divination and healing work, regardless of the problem, and offers a variety of each.

In addition, she discusses the ethics of love magic, and provides information about sacred botanicals and crystals, and ends with six chapters from the Book of Psalms and some recommended reading.

Dorsey is a spiritual practitioner and has been a professional psychic for more than 20 years. She is also an anthropologist, which prompted her to include historical spells. Magically, she is dedicated “to many different spiritual traditions, including Santeria, which is more properly known as La Regla Lucumi. In that religious tradition, I have been deemed, through divination, to be a daughter of the goddess (Orisha) Oshun,” she writes. Shun’s domain, Dorsey adds, includes love and marriage. “She is intimately acquainted with all facets of love.”

Dorsey wrote the book to share her knowledge and experience.

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