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Book Review – The Transformative Witchcraft: The Greater Mysteries by Jason Mankey

November, 2018

Book Review

The Transformative Witchcraft: The Greater Mysteries

by Jason Mankey

Repetition is a good thing, especially when the author infuses it with their own ideas and experiences. I believe that everything that we can do to make this information relatable to the broadest of audiences is a positive step towards bring greater awareness to the practice of Witchcraft and the work and dedication that is required to follow such a path. Such is the case in this new offering by author and editor of blog spot, Patheos Pagan, Jason Mankey- The Transformative Power of Witchcraft. Jason has authored several books on the craft, this one feeling more of a synthesis of the basics from start to finish.

The book is complete with history, ritual, creating sacred space, the work of self and more. There are three chapters devoted to the history of the craft and given that we are a spirituality based on the history, but crafted into a neopagan approach, having the solid foundation of what was, goes a long way into crafting what can be.

Chapters Four through Six focus on the “Cone of Power”, its creation, uses and theory behind its success. This information is presented in a thoughtful manner, offering options and adaptations, which I believe many newcomers to the path, are hesitant to interject on their own. Knowing how, when and where to direct energy is even more important now in the wake of global and domestic events and the working of witchcraft is a tool of change that, if wisely used can achieve amazing results.

I particularly enjoyed reading Chapters Seven through Ten, under Part Three’s Header of “Dedications, Initiations and Elevations”. For many, this topic alone is veiled in mystery and there are as many interpretations of what those semantics mean as paths of practice. Indeed, no one size fits all and as the author discusses, much depends on solitary, Tradition based, hereditary or other as to what these terms mean to the individual. Additionally, rituals are provided to be used as starting points or intact for the reader. I appreciate the detail that went into this section, particularly in preparing the seeker for the work required to be done, the preparation of self and the commitment that is undertaken when receiving any of these deeper connections to your path.

No book on witchcraft would be complete without attention to lunar working and Drawing Down the Moon as ritual and self-generator. Jason also covers the other types of Divine assumption, interaction and possession that may be encountered or experienced in the greater work. Chapter Thirteen provides all of the basics and information for the Ritual of Drawing Down the Moon.

The book concludes with discussion of The Great Rite and its ethical use in truth and physicality as well as metaphorical and representative approach. Each has its own specific reasons for selection, and in particular, when enacting The Great Rite as an offering of sex magick and potency, I believe it is important to know exactly why and where that option would be suitable and when it is used unethically as a means of control over the uninformed.

A glossary and bibliography is provided and the index makes it easy to zero in on specific topics.

This book is available for pre-order on Amazon with a publishing date of January 2019.

Transformative Witchcraft: The Greater Mysteries 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.

Interview with Author & Artist Lupa

March, 2018

Lupa is an author, artist, ecopsychologist, and naturalist in the Pacific Northwest.  She creates ritual tools and other sacred art from hides and bones, and is a prolific author of pagan nonfiction books.

The Tarot of Bones is a tarot deck that is inspired by natural history, and combines Lupa’s art and writing skills with her knowledge and appreciation of the natural world, adding the traits and habits of animals to the symbolism of the tarot.  

After reviewing Tarot of Bones last month, I was excited to catch up with Lupa and find out a bit more about this tarot deck and its companion book.

 

Raushanna: I know the natural world and the life and death of the creatures living within it have been a large focus for you for many years.   Your creative connection to the natural world has evolved in wonderful ways.  I admit to reading your Therioshamanism blog years ago, and was amazed at that time at the depth and breadth of your focus on the natural world, and your creativity within your field has blossomed since then. What circumstance made you first aware of this visceral connection between yourself and the natural world and its inhabitants?

Lupa: Honestly, it was early childhood when I first started exploring our yard and the various tiny beings in it. My love affair with nature has been a lifelong pursuit, and has taken many forms over the years. I discovered paganism in my teens, and the idea that there were other people who saw nature as sacred had me hooked from the start. Over the past two decades I’ve been a Wicca-flavored neopagan, a Chaos magician, and a neoshaman, though these days I refer to myself as a naturalist pagan. I don’t believe in supernatural things any more, and my path is firmly rooted in the physical world and ecology. I find my inspiration in the wonder and awe I feel at being privileged enough to be a part of this amazing universe for a few short years.

 

Raushanna: Tarot of Bones is a unique deck.  What were you hoping to offer to those using your deck for personal exploration?  What message or method were you trying to bring to a reader? 

Lupa: Honestly, I wanted to help people get out of the very human-centered approach we have to the tarot. Most decks, including the Rider-Waite-Smith, are almost entirely made of human figures and pursuits. Any animals, plants and other beings are there primarily as symbols for human meanings. The Tarot of Bones, on the other hand, has no humans whatsoever. The Major Arcana and Court cards all have very specific animal species associated with them, and while these have meaning to us, they are based on the animals’ behavior, not the values we associate with them as “good” or “bad”. It is especially important for those who claim to follow nature-based pagan paths to get their heads out of the human sphere and away from human priorities, and to see ourselves as just one of many equal species on a complex, life-supporting planet. The Tarot of Bones is one gentle nudge in that direction.

 

Raushanna: As a follow-up to the previous question, I would like to share how your Tarot of Bones affected my own Tarot practice.  These days, I tend to use the Tarot only for my own personal growth, and I only do readings through word-of-mouth requests.  I usually work with the Tree of Life, astrology and elemental dignities when working with the Tarot and its messages to me.  You have opened a new awareness within me of energy flows and entanglements occurring all around me that I knew existed, but never included in my divination interpretations before reading your companion book.  Because of your deck and book, I’m looking around at my surroundings and my Tarot cards with a new awareness, an awareness that is based on a combination of pure intuition and of “listening” to the plants, animals, people, and non-physical entities around me.  Thank you for that!

Lupa: That’s really cool—thank you for sharing your story! I hope you are able to continue deepening those relationships and understandings.

 

Raushanna: Your deck approaches the Tarot in a non-traditional way, particularly in the card images, and the companion book includes lots of useful information not usually found in a “LWB,” including your lists of inspirations for the assemblages.  The deck and the companion book in many ways reveal your inner self to the public (you state, rightly so, in the Introduction that this is a very personal deck) perhaps in some ways more so than your art because you explain to us all in writing why you chose the items in the images of the cards.  You created and self-published all this in a little over two years, not long at all!  Did you ever feel overwhelmed during the process of creating this unique deck and the companion book?  What kept you motivated to continue?

Lupa: Oh, so many times I asked myself “What have I gotten myself into?” It’s a hell of a lot of work, and I’m grateful that so many people hung in there with me, both in person and online. Being able to post the assemblages the deck was based on as I completed them helped me to stay connected with everyone, and motivated to keep going. Sometimes it seems absolutely unreal that I did all that, but I can look at the pieces hanging up in my home, and the boxes of decks and books, and think “Wow, I really did do all that!”

I have always been good at keeping myself on a task, even if things don’t always go according to schedule, and I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older. Now instead of one single project that I struggle to complete, I have a huge list of books and other projects I want to work on, and it’s just a matter of pacing myself as I work through each one.

 

Raushanna: You shared which card was created first, the card that led you into the process of creating and self-publishing the Tarot of Bones deck and its companion book.  Which card image was the easiest to create?  Which was the most challenging to get right?

Lupa: Honestly, they were all easy to some extent, because I was deeply in a creative flow for that year of 2015 when I actually made all the assemblages. The ones that were the most challenging were those that required more structural creativity; for example, trying to attach a full-sized bison skull to a small wooden door as its backboard took some manual labor that I wasn’t expecting. But in working with the spirits of the skulls and bones, and the tarot itself, I found it surprisingly easy to weave those threads of spirit and my own creativity together.

 

Raushanna: You have mentioned you worked with the Tarot before.  You offer some detailed card meanings in the companion book.  Has the process of creating the card image and/or writing the entry in the companion book that describes the meaning of the assemblage and the card itself caused you to re-write your own understanding of a particular card?

Lupa: Absolutely. My understanding of the tarot when I first started using it in the 90s was very much “by the book”. I revisited all that when I began the Tarot of Bones, combining traditional tarot meanings with more nature-based interpretations of the archetypes and concepts in the cards. So really I had to re-learn each card individually, especially as I hadn’t used a proper tarot deck in over a decade when I started the project. But that’s also why I wrote each card’s book entry as soon as I completed its assemblage, because the meaning was still fresh and raw in my mind.

 

Raushanna: Creating a Tarot deck is, I am sure, a transformative process.  What unexpected and surprising result(s) did you experience as you worked with both the natural world and the symbolism attached to the Tarot?

Lupa: I think I was surprised at how much of myself was still in the deck as I created it. I wanted to allow nature to speak for itself as much as possible, but it’s necessarily biased because I am the person communicating those messages. We all have to experience the world through a human filter because each of us is working in a brain formed by millions of years of primate evolution, and a mind that is influenced by the society and culture each of us comes from. So there’s probably a lot that gets lost in the translation when I try to speak what I learned from nature, and that’s why it’s so important to experience nature firsthand, without an agenda, for yourself. Don’t go into the woods expecting to find fairies and spirits or to have a vision quest or other journey. Instead, just quiet your mind and open yourself to the land itself, without overlaying it with human meaning. It will tell you what’s most important.

 

Raushanna: What role, if any, does this deck play in your life now that it is completed?  Do you have any other favorite decks?  Are there other divination tools or systems that resonate for you?

Lupa: Well, it’s the deck I do daily one-card draws for the public with, as well as one of my main decks for professional readings. The only other one I use on a regular basis is the Ted Andrews Animal-Wise deck, which I got when it first came out in 1999 and which I’ve been using for totem readings ever since then. I, also, like bone-casting, and there’s a simple set I’m working on getting ready for release, hopefully this spring. Really, any divination system is just a tool to help me focus my thoughts and intuition, and since I created the Tarot of Bones it’s a pretty tight fit.

 

Raushanna: You have a recommended reading list in the Tarot of Bones companion book that is Tarot-focused, and you mentioned that, at least in part, through your creation process for this deck you have reinitiated your connection to Tarot as a divination tool.  What processes and/or exercises do you recommend for a novice reader who is drawn to your deck?

Lupa: I like the idea of working with each card individually to really get to understand your relationship to it and understanding of it. That’s basically what I did as I created each assemblage. Study each card, both my version of it and other artists’; read the book, and other tarot books; study the animals that I profile in each of the cards, and the meanings and roles of each bone I use for the Minor Arcana suits; and create your own meaning and understanding of each card based on those things.

 

Raushanna: Your website, thegreenwolf.com, lists your own books; which of your book(s) would you recommend to a Tarot enthusiast who has become enamored with your natural world inspirations shared in the Tarot of Bones companion book, and who wishes to learn more about combining divination and nature?

Lupa: Well, right now the only other book I have specifically on divination is Skull Scrying: Animal Skulls in Divinatory Trance, which is a booklet on using a real animal skull for scrying. Beyond that, I recommend my book Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up: Connect With Totems in Your Ecosystem as a book for helping you deepen your connection with nature itself. I really feel that a lot of people are lacking in their nature literacy, even those who know a lot about tarot and other divination, and so boosting your experiences and knowledge of nature is important. And I don’t just mean things like “I know the four Wiccan elements”. I’m talking about knowing your bioregion in detail, where your watershed is, where your drinking water comes from, what sorts of fungi are in mycorrhizal relationships with the trees in your area, etc. Take away the supernatural and symbolic, and just get your nose in the dirt.

 

Raushanna: What is next for you?  Any plans for an Oracle of Bones as a companion to the Tarot of Bones?

Lupa: Again, I have a bone-casting set I need to put the finishing details on. I’d also love to do a Lenormand of Bones someday, maybe as a limited run since it’s not as popular as tarot. But right now my big project is Vulture Culture 101: A Book For People Who Like Dead Things. It’s a book about collecting hides, bones and other animal remains, including how-tos, advice, and other resources. I’m currently in the middle of the IndieGoGo to crowdfund printing and other costs, looking at a Summer 2018 release. That IndieGoGo can be backed at http://igg.me/at/vultureculture101.

 

I’d like to thank Lupa, very much, for this interview; it was nice to be able chat in more depth about her work!

For more about Lupa you can visit her site at: http://www.thegreenwolf.com/

For Amazon Information Click Images

 

 

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot reader and teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journey To Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

For Amazon Information Click Image

How I Came into Witchcraft

September, 2014

I became interested in Wicca and Neo-Pagan Witchcraft early in 1994, when my mother had just been diagnosed with unlocalizable cancer and given three months to live. When a loved one will shortly die, your feelings about the future are compromised. You want her to live as long as possible, without suffering, but at the same time you feel guilty for wishing the grey pall hanging over everything were lifted. Many will take up a new interest at such times, one which can be projected indefinitely into the future, lending it a little color. That was the immediate cause impelling me to investigate this new-old religion. But the choice of something new was uniquely mine. My brother Jim, for instance, simply resumed smoking. My half siblings began attending St. Matthias, our mother’s Episcopal church. I was attracted to Wicca because it appeared to combine my two main interests, pre-Christian cultures and their polytheistic religions, and exploration and change of awareness.

I came by these two interests at widely different times. As a boy my early enthusiasm for reading was encouraged with a series of “All About” books, as well as a subscription to the Children’s Digest. One book was called The Exploits of Xenophon, 1 a simplified and colorfully illustrated version of the Anabasis, describing the expedition into the interior of the Persian Empire undertaken by a Persian satrap, 2 his native troops, and, at the outset, about 13,000 Greek mercenaries. I loved the pictures in the Household edition, and was fascinated by the accounts of sacrifices and taking the auspices before battle, then the cries of “Zeus Savior!” and “Heracles Captain!” uttered by the Greeks as they charged. The swashbucklling freedom enjoyed by the mercenaries appealed to me in particular, opening horizons on my boyhood that were giddy and glorious. But above all, I was fascinated by the gods and wanted to know what it felt like to really believe in them.

After Xenophon I enjoyed the first ten books of Livy’s history of Rome, dealing with the legends of the regal period of the first seven kings. These were dual-face Loebs, with Latin on one side and English facing it. The fact that separate parts of each volume were designated ‘Book I,’ ‘Book II,’ etc., intrigued me no end. I had no idea at the time that these indicated separate scrolls; I was just charmed by their reddish gold beauty and neat appearance. Additionally, the fact that the library would not lend the Loebs to me personally (I was 11 at the time) but my mother had to check them out instead lent a special feeling of proprietorship to my handling of the little red volumes. I felt I had a secret right to them, unrecognized by society at large.

When I was sixteen, we had moved to West Hollywood and were not far from a branch of the municipal library, built next to a neighborhood plunge. My athletically-inclined and newly-acquired stepsister chalked up laps in the pool while I investigated the library. I had decided, at my ripe age, that I had exhausted all my intellectual interests up till then and felt my way along the shelves, eyes closed, choosing books at random. I only did this twice. The first time I put my hand on Habakari Hankin, by Lewis Bush, an American ex-patriot living in Japan early in the twentieth century. Habakari is Japanese for outhouse, and Hankin was an international connoisseur of outhouses, especially favoring the traditional Japanese design of a stream passing beneath one’s nether extremities. The book was a delightful collection of short stories and sketches which I have virtually forgotten.

For my second selection I worked my way around to the other side of the bookcase and put my hands on A Study of Gurdjieff’s Teaching, by Kenneth Walker. This introduced me to the notion of change of consciousness, something which had never occurred to me in my sixteen tender years. Gurdjieff taught people how to wake up. I had always assumed I was awake already, as most people do; now awareness acquired windows and doors, with the possibility of going through them into an entirely different world. Both interests which would eventually be satisfied by modern witchcraft were now awake in me.

However, these were still intellectual interests. It wasn’t until I turned 22 that a personal crisis led to my finding a way to open the window of awareness, a method which has been my companion ever since in life. It was really quite simple; I simply began attending to background sounds and looking at things usually ignored, especially things seen out of the corners of the eyes. I found these exercises promoted a quiet mind, and from a quiet mind one can proceed to explore the mind itself and whatever it can apprehend.

This was 1968, and Carlos Castaneda’s Teachings of Don Juan had just been published. I have no doubt that it had an influence on my exercises, but it wasn’t until the appearance of his second book, A Separate Reality, in 1972 that I became aware of a connection. The explorations of consciousness in his third book, Journey to Ixtlan, came closest to the trips I was taking with peripheral awareness. Thereafter his later books remained interesting but there was less overlap with my practice.

I had long since ceased to be a believing Christian, and my minor in college, Religious Studies, was leading me into non-mainstream religions. I had had a love affair with modern Vedantic Hinduism since leaving the church in 1963, but the monotheistic emphasis in their books, employed in part as an accommodation to western readers, was beginning to irk me. When I read Walter F. Otto’s The Homeric Gods; the Spiritual Significance of Greek Religion, the notion that polytheism inevitably ‘developed’ into monotheism was exploded for me, and I became intellectually converted to the gods. Thereafter, while I could hold with Brahman, the impersonal Absolute, I rejected his personal aspect, Ishwara. I no longer sought a personal relationship with a supreme being, regarding such, indeed, as a form of presumption. If all proceeded from one source, that source remained impersonal and unapproachable for me. I no longer bother with Brahman, but I still feel that way about Fate or dark matter/energy.

A few years later I made offerings, first to Aphrodite and later to Hermes, both of which were granted in a week’s time. The first led to a relationship with a married lady (it was an open marriage) which I found very liberating. The second was made in error; I needed another job and thought Hermes was the god to ask for employment. In a week’s time I received a windfall which I did not have to repay for ten years. Subsequently, I learned that Hermes governs luck!

By 1994, when I first looked into witchcraft classes and groups, I already had a way of changing consciousness, and I was thoroughly ‘converted’ to polytheistic paganism. All that remained was to find a group to interact with and a paradigm for expressing the energies I was experiencing.

To those who know the difference, however, it will be seen that my preference was for heathen rather than pagan gods. The gods of the ‘barbarians’ living outside the Roman Empire were not immortal; for many peoples (and for the heathen Udmurts who remain to this day), the gods sleep during the winter. They are natural, not supernatural. They simply surpass us in power, wisdom and greatness of soul, but they are not infinite in any sense. Odin will die at Ragnarøk.

I became aware of witchcraft classes and groups operating in my area, and dedicated myself to the Craft (having read some books by the Campanellis and Farrars) at Imbolc, which I celebrated on February 2nd, 1994. 3 My peripheral exercises had quietened my mind and liberated energies I could only characterize as magical. Among other things, I was able to recover viewpoints and flexibilities from early childhood, and even had inklings of far memory. I decided I wanted to make use of this energy in a structured context with others. For that reason I sought out a coven, followed by two or three others when I moved back down to San Diego County.

I found I was able to contribute energy to the raising of the cone of power. Because of my bookishness, ritual circles generally chose me to ward the East, which is associated with air and knowledge. In time I got together with my magical partner Wendy and we founded a coven of our own in Vista. A descendant of that coven is still going strong in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and while I live retired in Norway, I maintain close contacts with them, talk to them on Skype, and will be providing them with a student later this year.

That, briefly, is how I came into witchcraft.

 

Footnotes

1 The Exploits of Xenophon, by Geoffrey Household, Random House, 1955.

2  Provincial governor.

3  My mother passed away at the end of March of that year.