review

Book Review – Psychedlic Mysteries of the Feminine Edited by Maria Papaspyrou, Chiara Baldini & David Luke

July, 2019

Book Review
Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine
Edited by Maria Papaspyrou, Chiara Baldini & David Luke
Foreword by Allyson Grey
332 pp.
Park Street Press

In “Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine,” a diverse group of authors, artists, historians, scientists, ecologists, herbalists, shamans, poets, doctors, lawyers, and therapists deliver an interdisciplinary message of hope and healing for our traumatized and increasingly poisoned world. This book is a well-balanced collection of essays which draw on a large number of original sources and academia to explore the history of feminine themes in the tradition and usage of psychedelic pharmaka, from beer and cannabis to ayahuasca and LSD.

“Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine” is the product of several speakers and organizers for the Women’s Visionary Congress, an organization which disseminates harm reduction information and gathers women together from all over the world to discuss the role of psychedelics in their lives and our changing world. While the Women’s Visionary Congress (WVC) is mentioned several times, and the book includes one essay that is primarily about the WVC, the whole book is much more than just an advertisement for them or their core message.

The psychological narrative of the book includes discussion of Jungian archetypes of women as earth mother, goddess, medicine woman, and more, as well as exploration into what psychedelics can teach us about ourselves and our relationship to femininity (regardless of our gender identity, or assigned gender at birth). The historical context explains in short order how age-old expressions of patriarchal control of women intertwined with the attitudes of colonizers hell-bent on portraying indigenous peoples as savages, and how these factors (and others) also led to the vilification and feminization of psychedelics in the modern era in Western civilization.

Ritual work such as breath work, dancing, drumming, and meditation, along with newer types of therapies, are discussed in brief; these weave together the psychospiritual space of the shaman and the psychonaut, both today and historically, and assist in opening the gateways for energetic transformation, psychological breakthrough, healing, and vision. There is also some discussion of the threat presented by the psychedelic community to the very notion of gender: the psychonaut who peers behind the curtain of performative gender may find its value has depreciated upon return from the trip.

The problem of Western appropriation of indigenous cultures is of special note in the history of psychedelics, and several authors take time to explore these painful themes while exploring where we can go from here. Sadly, the Western tendency towards commodification and consumption, especially without a holistic template for healthy and balanced usage, also causes these drugs to be misused as a result of their lack of appropriate cultural context. As an example, most American citizens don’t have a cultural or social place where these types of pharmaka are accepted — let alone legal — so even though many Americans and American society as a whole would likely benefit from consciousness-expanding medicine and the spiritual messages that these pharmaka can bring, this will continue to be beyond our reach until we recognize and appreciate mystery, chaos, intuition, and femininity.

A few authors, discussing human rights, legal precedence, and the successes of other movements for radical social transformation, explore possible routes to affecting global legal and social change in tandem, while others talk about the growing cultural movement of psychedelic feminists and ecologists, and how these forces are coming together to affect new change and healing.

It’s difficult to summarize the main narrative themes of this book in a short article because throughout the twenty-three essays, there are hundreds of themes to choose from. There is the botanical and the herbal; the folkloric and the mythic; the emotional and the mental; the magic and the mystic; the political and the social; the historical and the traditional; the progressive and the contemporary. There is something for everyone and anyone who is interested in psychedelics here, and if there’s one thing this book makes clear, it’s that interested parties should pick a path and start walking, because there is a lot of work to be done on the path to a world which accepts and understands psychedelic experience as a healthy and illuminating.

Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine: Creativity, Ecstasy, and Healing on Amazon

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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

Witch & Popcorn

July, 2019

Bright Blessings, film lovers!

With massive amounts of rain this month in my home State, floods have been on my mind, and I was going to re-watch An Inconvenient Truth, but discovered Before The Flood was available on Netflix, and I just could not resist.

Lauded as a ground-breaking, engaging film addressing serious issues of our time, this film did not disappoint, and I want all of you to watch it if you haven’t already.

Here is the entire film on You Tube you can watch:

A National Geographic film directed by Fisher Stevens, it was narrated by Leo DiCaprio. It follows DiCaprio’s three-year journey that took him across the world, and had him interviewing countless scientists, experts on climate change, social activists, and even Presidents. The film earned Best Documentary from ‘The Evening Standard British Film Awards’, and also, ‘Hollywood Documentary Award’ through, The Hollywood Film Awards.

DiCaprio was named International Messenger of Peace on Climate Change by the United Nations, and he took it very seriously. He basically used the film to document things he learned about climate change.

These are some things he learned:

  1. He said people tune it out. It is difficult to accept that our way of life creates these devastating issues.
  2. We create extinction of animals with our pollution.
  3. Coal and natural gas power electricity, and create strip mining, deforestation, and pollute with spills of oil. All our current modes of transportation release carbon dioxide, which warms the planet. This in turn melts polar ice, which will flow into the sea, and elsewhere, and create floods, and damaging weather patterns. For example, hundreds of cubic kilometers of ice have melted and gone into the sea in Greenland. Greenland will disappear if this continues and parts of coastal cities like Miami will be under water as well.
  4. 20 years ago, the focus was on becoming more energy efficient, like using better light bulbs. Now, it is gone farther, and we need to do more.
  5. Miami started putting in electric pumps and building the streets higher, which is a project costing roughly $400 million- and it is projected to only buy them 40-50 years.
  6. The oil companies pay “experts” to insist climate change is not real because they would lose money if people stop using fossil fuels. They also donate a lot to politicians, making sure laws do not support laws to combat climate change.
  7. Electricity consumed by ONE single American at home is equal to usage of: 1.5 citizen of France, 2.2 of Japan, 2.6 of Germany, 5 of South Africa, 10 of China.
  8. Climate Change does not just change on land, but under the sea also. Like trees and forests, coral reefs help remove carbon dioxide from the environment, but they cannot cope with the massive amount of it we create with carbon emissions, so they are dying. We are killing our forests and coral reefs that create a stable environment to keep us breathing and alive.
  9. Certain products are worse for the environment than others. Palm oil, for example is a cheap oil and is in nearly everything. This particular industry devastates forests, and contributes to climate change.
  10. The Paris Climate Agreement is highlighted. After 25 years of talks, 195 Nations signed an agreement, pledging to keep emissions below a certain level, to reduce the risks and effects of climate change.
  11. The climate change will make sea levels rise and mean less food, as there will be less places to grow crops, and fights over land scarcity. Scarcity of clean water will be bad as well. Climate change does not just mean the temperature rises a bit. It will fall some places, which would devastate the ecosystems completely. It will create excessive amounts of rain and floods some places, but less than necessary rain elsewhere, and drought, and famine.
  12. We have to change our lifestyles or we are headed to disaster.

DiCaprio addressed the UN, and said “after 21 years of debates and conferences, it is time to declare no more talk, no more excuses, no more ten year studies, no more allowing the fossil fuel companies to manipulate and dictate the science and politics that affect our future. The World is now watching. You’ll either be lauded by the future perception, or vilified by them. You are the last best hope on Earth. We ask you to protect it, or we, and all living things we cherish are history.

The film listed solutions:

  1. Consume Differently.
  2. Vote for leaders who will fight climate change.

Discover your climate impact at:

Carbotax.org

Learn more about how to take action at:

BeforeTheFlood.com

Enjoy this eye-opening film.

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 – Travelling the Fairy Path by Morgan Daimler

July, 2019

Book Review
Travelling the Fairy Path
by Morgan Daimler

Travelling the Fairy Path is a fun and educational resource to guide you on the Fairy Witchcraft Path. If you are just curious about the “Good People”, or have been working with them all along, you will find insight from Morgan Daimler, although, I would not consider this a “Beginners” book. It is not a long text, coming in at 288 pages, however there is a multitude of information waiting for you. This includes a chapter length autobiography on Daimler, in which she introduces herself as well as some of her qualifications. This, in my opinion, is to demonstrate her expertise in the subject and ensure the reader/student, that they are in more than capable hands. It was quite impressive.

There are a lot of references to the Fairies by different terms. She refers to them as “The Good People”, “Themselves”, and “The Other Crowd,”. In my opinion, it would be a bit confusing to a newbie, at first. Whenever I am reading a book pertaining to the metaphysical, there are usually many references to other types of entities. It could be Gods/Goddesses, Angels, Creatures, and the Craft. So, for me to have them referenced so quickly by different names took a minute for me to adjust to. Especially since alongside this was the author’s trip to Ireland. If the reader is not familiar with Ireland and it’s landmarks this piece will be lost on them. I wish there was a touch of historic explanation to arriving in Ireland, and the sights they saw, places they went to make it a little more important, and impressive to those readers who don’t know the magick that Ireland holds.

Daimler personalizes the experience for the reader, by taking us along side her in her real time experiences on this trip, which is great. However, if you are not already versed in fairylore, you will not know what some of the things she talks about are. For example, she talks about a “fairy ring”, a “aos sí” and “si” by itself. Now, if this was the first book you picked up on Fairylore, you would have no idea what these refer to. I do wish she would’ve added some small educational definitions in to teach the reader just a bit, in case it was needed. However, that being said, her storytelling kept you going regardless. It was exciting and down to earth, while making you feel like you were right there with her.

The bulk of the text takes you through The Fairy Path. It follows a perfect sequence, starting with working with spirit, explaining what makes this path different, and how to educate yourself, and grow within this area of your path. It touches on what is important, and dangerous when working with the “Good People”. I especially like her focus on following your intuition, and the example of how doing so led Daimler to the most profound experience of her life:

“My intuition immediately told me that I needed to go down a different way even though I knew our guide was spot on with why everyone had to go down the way they’d come up. I could certainly have gone against my instinct– gone against that little inner voice – and it would have been much easier to do so quite frankly. But if I had done what I was told and not followed my intuition I would have missed out on the most profound initiatory experience of my life which began with that single choice to go down the mound the other way.”

Daimler goes through to briefly describe the different types of Fae, and what they are said to look like, while clearly stating that the subject is too broad and diverse for a simple, black and white answer. It is a very comprehensive list that gives great information. She touches on mythology and translations of it, so the reader can understand the fairy stories. For example, she goes back to a 19th century rhyme, calling the Fae by different names and Their reaction to it. She then goes on to explain their reasoning.

There is a great amount of information on the dangerous Fae including The Wild Hunt, which in my opinion is important. Many people seem to think that fairies are pretty and pink, sparkle and shine, and can be completely ignorant. Daimler takes the time to introduce and identify where and when to take caution.

There is a lengthy chapter on Ballads and Poems, and the information found within them, she does a great job of explaining each one and their importance. This chapter could haven been a small book by itself, in my opinion.

She covers interacting with the Fae through dreams, meditation, and trances, gives important advice, such as never accepting drink or food while in Elfland. “And what you’ve not to do is this: bite no bit, and drink no drop, however hungry or thirsty you be; drink a drop, or bite a bit while in Elfland you be and never will you see Middle Earth again.”

My favorite reference in this text is the use of the quote ‘There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.’ Daimler takes this from the movie the Matrix, and uses it perfectly. She uses this as the opening to her chapter “In Practice”. From offerings to oaths, this chapter takes you through the actual practice of “Walking The Fairy Path.” She is very specific and thorough; she even includes one of her own recipes for cakes she learned in a dream.

All in all, I found this book instructive and educational. This is not a text you skip the end notes in-they are fantastic. I think the story in the beginning establishes a relationship with the author, and leaves you wanting to understand the world the way Daimler does. If the reader finishes this text and truly wants to keep moving forward on this path, they are given a great background. I would definitely start with her other works.

Travelling the Fairy Path on Amazon

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About the Author:

Jade Perri is the owner and founder of Embrace Your Path. Jade is an eclectic Witch, who has been practicing for more than 10 years and offers guidance on an array of topics. She specializes in the art of divination. She is an enthusiastic teacher and offers classes and certification in many different areas. She also holds a special interest in animal communication and handmade custom poppets. She is an avid reader and her passion is the fantasy and British historical fiction genres. She is also the mother of two children, and likes to spend time with her husband.

Book Review – The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales: The Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose by Bernard Roger

July, 2019

Book Review
The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales
The Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose
by Bernard Roger
Translated by Jon E. Graham
Pages: 308

“Once upon time” immediately places the reader in a mythical, magical world. Like other often-used phrases, storytellers use it to transition to a place where anything is possible.

Classic as well as little-known fairy tales are ripe with hermetic teachings of alchemy and Freemasonry. In this book, The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales: the Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose, Bernard Roger, provides an exhaustive analysis to prove his point and deliver what the title promises.

Translated by Jon E. Graham, Roger demonstrates how hermetic ideas can be found in such popular fairy tales as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White, as well as the stories attributed to The Tales of My Mother the Goose.

These and other tales from around the globe contain symbols and secrets, concealed in “the language of the birds.”

The goose, he claims, hears the primal call of nature and was considered a messenger in multiple cultures.

Describing a legend as “the story of a fabulous ‘fact’ attached to a place – a nation, forest, lake, tree, spring, or stone – or historical figure,” Roger defines a tale as a “free traveler” found almost everywhere around the globe but having no clear date or place of origin.

“The Germanic Wotan corresponds exactly with he Scandinavian Odin, and he can also be compared to the Irish Baldor, king of the Fomorians, he of the dark powers who also saw with only one eye,” Roger wrote.

I am moved to pair that with something later in the book: “The woodcutter’s wife is a woodswoman, or wild woman, from the family of ‘wild men,’ ‘green men,’ and ‘woodsmen’ who were depicted in the Middle Ages as covered with hair and clad in leaves. This is a close relative to our probably tree-dwelling ancestors, whose instincts even today are probably responsible for the pleasure children feel when they climb trees, where they can dream for hours while sitting in the hollow formed by its branches – a secret world that adults have totally forgotten.”

To understand and appreciate this book, you must be very interested in the teachings and practices of the Freemasonry society, induction and alchemy, and have a basic knowledge of the concepts and practices. I was not prepared. Also, many examples Roger sites are from fairy tales I never heard of, and the pages are so thick with details, I sometimes found myself skimming.

There is still valuable knowledge for the beginner, such as how quests generally have happy outcomes as the seeker learns it’s the princess – and not the jewel, bird, key, flower or fruit – that is meant to be found, and that these quests correspond to alchemy practices

The six chapters cover the tales, the initiation, the stages, the door to the temple or V.I.T.R.I.O.L., the paths of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. and the ultimate success. There are sections on the forest, the castle, riddles, impossible tasks and fighting dragons. Readers will learn the four essential factors of fate (the cause of the quest, assistants offered to him along the way, the object of the quest, and the place where it is found), the ritual for the 18th degree of Scottish Freemasonry and much more in-between.

The book gets a 3.8 out of 5 by 5 customer reviews on Amazon.

The Initiatory Path in Fairy Tales: The Alchemical Secrets of Mother Goose on Amazon

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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.

Book Review – Pagan Portals: What is Modern Witchcraft?

July, 2019

Book Review
Pagan Portals: What is Modern Witchcraft?
Anthology

“What is Modern Witchcraft?” is an anthology written by some of today’s top pagan writers. It covers subjects from Modern Solitary Witchcraft, Modern Witchcraft and the Role of Activism, Cyber Witches, Kitchen Witchcraft, Old Craft for New Generation 21st-Century Witches, and a Celtic Perspective.

Morgan Daimler is the person they chose to open this book; I find her writing to be well-thought-out and well researched. Ms. Daimler’s writing makes her seem very approachable. I would love to attend a seminar where she is speaking.

Annette George, Philip J Kessler, & Amy Ravenson, all talk about cyber witchcraft, as well as traditional. In these chapters, they talk about using files on the computer to save rituals and using social media to perform rituals with people from around the world.

One of the more compelling chapters, for me, was written by Irisanya Moon. It is the chapter on Modern Witchcraft in the Role of Activism. One of the quotes that she has in this chapter is by Carol Hanisch, whose essay written in the late 60s early 70s entitled The Personal Is Political “Personal problems are political problems. There is no personal solutions at this time. There’s only collective action for collective solution.” Ms. Moon talks in this chapter about how to become an activist and how witchcraft can help you in that calling. I found this to be very moving.

Rebecca Beattie writes a chapter on Urban Witchcraft; she talks about how hard it is to find solitude in an urban setting, finding sacred space, finding your tribe, and embracing your inner weirdo. It was that last part, embracing your inner weirdo, that spoke to me in this chapter (I’ve been known to walk into shops wearing unicorn horns to work that day doing readings.)

Arietta Bryant writes about Casting Your Own Circle. She talks about doing what feels right to you, whether that’s setting up an open circle, or book clubs, or anything that makes you feel like part of a tribe. This chapter also lists 11 jumping off points for creating your own set of Principles. (These reminded me of The Council of American Witches set of Principles of Wiccan Belief written in April of 1974.) They are great principles to guide your path forward.

Mélusine Draco’s piece is about Old Craft for a New Generation. She is another author who writes with authority and talks about matters in which she is well versed. She asks three times three basic questions that are the cornerstone of her faith. These are questions that I have to ask myself regularly because as I grow still in my craft, I learn more about the more profound the answers to these questions are.

I would say this is a book that is for anyone on the path of Paganism, not just Witchcraft. I feel that it is one that allows you to explore more of what is out there today for us compared to the old ones whose roots we grew from. I am happy that it was Trevor Greenfield who edited this book for us. But I am incredibly grateful for all those writers who contributed to this tome. Thank you for your insights.

Pagan Portals – What is Modern Witchcraft?: Contemporary Developments in the Ancient Craft on Amazon

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About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become a Reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page. If you are interested in a reading you can reach her on Facebook @eagleandunicorn.

Book Review – Shamanic Plant Medicine-San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom by Ross Heaven

July, 2019

Book Review
Shamanic Plant Medicine-San Pedro
The Gateway to Wisdom
by Ross Heaven

San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom is one in The Shamanic Plant Medicine series authored by Ross Heaven. Each book introduces a plant medicine teacher and medicine ally. This well-written, accessible book introduces us to the Cactus of Mystery, San Pedro, native to the Andes and used by Andean shamans in healing ceremonies.

Mr. Heaven, who died in 2018, has left us with a practical and nuanced introduction to San Pedro. The book gives us an overview of the plant’s history and the lore relating to its sense of mystery, which certainly drew me in to wanting to know more about it. Here are some of the fascinating bits of lore that Heaven provided: Legend has it that St. Cyprian was instructed by Jesus to hide the keys to Paradise from the Spanish invaders and Inquisition in a cactus under the watchful eye of St. Peter, keeper of the keys to Heaven– hence this entheogen’s name. It also has many nicknames, one of which is punku – doorway or gateway – for its ability to open a doorway beyond the world of illusion, as author Heaven wrote. Its active ingredient is mescaline and its healing and nurturing action has earned it another nickname: Grandfather. As Heaven wrote in a different book: “There is a sort of mystery surrounding San Pedro and a sense that knowledge of the plant must remain secret or at least be earned through preparation, participation and worthiness of those who drink it.”

Heaven provided a detailed chapter on why San Pedro’s medicine is sought after and descriptions of various ceremonies and methods of use by San Pedro shamans. Heaven also discussed various modes of preparation, while urging respect, safety and caution working with this teacher plant. While it is not a how-to, step-by-step manual, the book provides excellent guidance on what to look for when seeking someone to conduct and support a ceremony. The personal accounts of people who experienced San Pedro’s healing effects in ceremony with Heaven and other shamans are engaging, encouraging and worth reading.

The most fascinating and instructive section examines the effects of San Pedro on creativity. There is an overview of the early research with psychedelics in the 1960s, specifically with their effect on artists. Heaven equated the ability of the creative process – to “shift” the brain into perceiving and functioning differently – with the nature of the entheogenic experience. Both processes are “nonrational and nonverbal, the insights coming at an almost cellular level through the remodeling of the self. Trying to capture this experience in words is too limiting for those who have undergone it.” Heaven’s description of these processes is reason alone to read this book! A discussion of shamans as artists as they engage with the creative flow of energy in the healing process is also worth the read. There are also deeply engaging personal accounts of visual and musical artists who described the effects of San Pedro on their work and their search for self-knowledge.

Heaven ended the book with a chapter on working responsibly with San Pedro. There are in-depth recommendations regarding environment, introducing yourself to the plant with respect, what to expect during the work itself and legalities of possession and use of San Pedro.

If you are interested in working with San Pedro, or simply in learning more about entheogenic plant medicine in general, this book is a great place to start. It is an easy to read, well-researched and information beginning. I will keep it on my bookshelf as a good reference and already plan to read the other books in this excellent series from Moon .

Shamanic Plant Medicine – San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom on Amazon

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About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com

Open Channel Astrology: openchannelastrology.com

Book Review – Paganism in Depth: A Polytheistic Approach by John Beckett

June, 2019

Book Review
Paganism in Depth
A Polytheistic Approach
by John Beckett

Let me begin this review by saying that John Beckett is a down-to-earth and genuinely unassuming and likable man. And, he also is committed to his path of Druidry, but not at the expense of also being very thoughtful and receptive to many of the other paths that fall under the umbrella of polytheism. These statements alone, in my opinion, make his writing all that more interesting because you can distinguish the underpinnings of a sound personal practice that allows for exploration of “what could be”.

Paganism in Depth is separated into three Parts: Part 1-Foundations; Part 2-Practice; and Part 3-Challenges. Each offers a very thorough and as the title suggests comprehensive discourse on the nature of paganism in its multitude of expressions. The Introduction contained as a section of Part 1 provides the reader with John’s experiences as he moved through the hunger that many new pagans feel upon finding out that there is a different type of spirituality that asks much of its seekers and integrates the natural, mundane and spiritual worlds. We are reminded from the beginning that going deeper into the path we are exploring or have committed to requires much from us, but that the rewards are well worth the efforts.

Reading through Paganism In Depth is much like having a conversation with an old friend. You may think you know lots about the individual and then they surprise you with something new and unexpected. This alone changes the dynamics between you and the dialogue opens, your mind begins to process and questions arise that set you on a path of wanting to know more. And, all the while this interaction is being done in a very gentle way that feels neither threatening nor invasive of what you already believe to be true.

By and far my reading was Chapter 5: I like It Here-Why Do I Have to Leave? This chapter spoke to the nature of settling in and at times simply “just settling” when the experience could be so much more had we just reached a little further beyond our comfort zone. John asks the reader to learn to trust their experiences, and use this as an opening for deeper connection to Deity, the magick and all that comprises your chosen path…

…. Learning to trust your senses is an act of will. And like so many other parts of ourselves, the will is strengthened by exercise.”….

Supporting this concept of will as needing exercise, Chapter 6: Devotional Practice is the first statement of devotional practice beginning with a choice (will): a Deity to worship. How we proceed from that choice is integral to how deeply we will ultimately connect with deity at all levels. Choice of which deity (ies) we select to offer our practice to is another step that although it may feel or seem very simple, the angst that surrounds this often holds us back from simply making the choice to “experience”.

Meditation, magick, leadership and all of those pieces that construct a whole in what we choose to call our spiritual practice are given the care of first hand experience and suggestion of how to improve upon and make it your own. This style is prominent throughout the book with each topic being made that much more relevant through the sharing of John’s personal experiences. This creates a space of community through common ground and even if the reader disagrees with or has never had any similar experience, it makes the book readable and engaging.

This closing statement in the Epilogue: An Invitation to a Journey, beautifully sums up the entirety of the book and in this case, perfectly aligns with what John Beckett has accomplished in its writing…

…. the mission of Paganism in Depth. It’s a guidebook to going deeper into the forest, higher up the mountain, and further out to sea. It’s an invitation to join this sacred work, to go where there are no maps and find your way through careful practice and intuition,,, and then draw a map for those who come after you.”

Visit the author’s blog: Under the Ancient Oaks

Paganism In Depth: A Polytheist Approach 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.

Book Review – Celestial Watercolor: Learn to Paint the Zodiac Constellations and Seasonal Night Skies by Elise Mahan with D.R. McElroy

June, 2019

Book Review
Celestial Watercolor
Learn to Paint the Zodiac Constellations and Seasonal Night Skies
Written by Elise Mahan with D.R. McElroy
128 pp
The Quarto Group

“Celestial Watercolor: Learn to Paint the Zodiac Constellations and Seasonal Night Skies” is a book that does dual duty. On one hand, it’s as a beautifully illustrated and produced full-color coffee table-style book which is immensely enjoyable to flip through whether you read it or not. On the other, it’s a genuinely useful guide through the world of classic watercolor technique, with watercolor illustrations of the phases of the moon, astrological signs, and the seasonal night skies as examples. These examples come paired with corresponding texts that delve into some basic magical associations.

In the first part of the book, Mahan and McElroy lay out all the tools necessary to get the reader started with watercolors: papers, paints, brushes, pens, and pencils, with some basic recommendations of their favorite brands. They briefly discuss the techniques and effects used in the book, such as wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry watercolor; while these descriptions are not very detailed, they are more than enough to get an artist through the examples used in this book.

In the second part of the book, the authors walk the reader through the traditional Western zodiac, the phases of the moon and names of each month’s moon in different cultural traditions (which makes a really lovely addition, as many authors choose only one version of these names and omit the rest, but it’s enlightening to see several in one place), and seasonal landscapes and palettes to ground the celestial watercolors to the earth in full-color illustrations. Each of these sections is accompanied by a walkthrough of the process used to create the watercolors depicted, and an array of inspiring images for each sign, moon, or season. They are also peppered with descriptive lore and tradition about each topic. 

The goal of “Celestial Watercolor” is very focused, and the book accomplishes it well: there is a lot of inspiration, information, and technique here. While the lore is illustrative in its own way and adds greatly to the book, there isn’t enough astrological, lunar, or seasonal information for this book to be used as a thorough guide for a serious astrologer or magicians, but it really isn’t the point of the book, either. Instead, “Celestial Watercolor” gives a solid foundation for basic astrological information and a type of art that many witches would probably love to add to their journals, of Shadows, wall art, and more, with Mahan’s beautiful illustrations shining through for inspiration.

Celestial Watercolor: Learn to Paint the Zodiac Constellations and Seasonal Night Skies on Amazon

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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

Interview with Annwyn Avalon: Water Witch

June, 2019

Dancer, artist, author, witch, priestess; with this many titles and roles, it’s clear that Annwyn Avalon is kept busy. Fresh from a workshop at Pantheacon, Annwyn was kind enough to talk to Mabh here at PaganPagesOrg about her new book, Water Witchcraft, and other aspects of her work.

Mabh Savage: How would you describe the concept of water witchcraft to a complete novice?

Annwyn Avalon: Water Witchcraft, simply put, is Witchcraft that uses water as the main modality for their magic and/or they may use water related items, work with water spirits and deities and perform many of their spells or rituals with, on, or near water. A Sea Witch is a very popular example, but it goes beyond just the ocean. It is a draw to the natural watery world, the subaqueous realms and all the water on the surface of the planet. Many of us have our own favourite body of water and they range from small springs and creeks to lakes, rivers and oceans. A Water Witch will often choose to cleanse with water rather than smoke, and may choose a cauldron, cup or bowl over a candle or ritual knife. They may work with gem elixirs, teas, sacred baths and many, many other types of watery magic!

MS: What first inspired you to write the book, Water Witchcraft?

AA: This is a long and complicated answer so I will try to keep it short. It was a combination of being drawn to the water, loving water, an obsession with folklore surrounding water and the major lack of information there is out there. There are so very few books that focus on Water Magic and some of them are very well done while others feel very rushed, but there remains only a small number of books on the subject. They also seemed to only focus on one body of water, the ocean or sacred wells. Water is so diverse and there are so many types that I wanted to put something together that would not only cover all types of water, but that was full of information that would be useful to everyone. This actually ended up starting as a 9-month course on water magic and by the time the book was in full swing it was being narrowed down to focus specifically on Brythonic magic.

MS: And what initially drew you to the magic of water and watery beings?

AA: I have always been a very watery person. I was born under Cancer with a Pisces moon, I grew up in Florida and spent many days in the fresh water springs, swamps and along the sea shore. Water has always been a strong presence in my life. Later, I was intensely drawn to Pre-Raphaelite paintings and literature many of which feature watery women and faery women. I realized later that it was the strong draw to the water, the water nymphs, mermaids and other watery creatures that was part of the draw. The other was the feminine form, a call to remember the Goddess.

MS: Is there a water spirit, being or deity you feel closest to?

AA: Yes, I think the most prominent spirit in my life at the moment is Sulis, the Thermal Springs Solar Goddess whose temple is found in Bath, UK. However, I work with other Goddesses and Watery Faery Women such as the Gwragedd Annwn, Morganna, Melsine, and Aphrodite. I also honor the masculine in the forms often found near sacred springs such as Belenos, and Gwyn ap Nudd, who is honoured at the White Spring in Glastonbury. Sulis and the Gwragedd Annwn have been with me since I was a child. I have always been deeply connected with Springs and the spirits that dwell within.

MS: What are the benefits of deepening our connection to water?

AA: Right now, our waters are in so much danger. Each day it is polluted and contaminated, and more atrocities are done by oil companies, over-farming, and the dolphin slaughter. When we deepen our connection, we wake up to these horrible things that are happening, and we are called to take action; to help form a better, cleaner, more awake world that understands how precious these natural wonders are. We are 70% water, which means that we must protect the water of this planet or we ourselves will become endangered and poisoned, much of which we are already beginning to see. Beyond that, water is the element of emotion and it urges us to connect deeply with our emotions and often works as a mirror showing us how to refine and conquer our shadow. It also lends wisdom, and the power of immense change.

MS: Who is the book aimed at? Who will get the most out of it?

AA: There are many people that are watery natured, drawn to the water or are called by water spirits, mer-folk and deity to connect with the water. This book is for them, but also any witch or magical practitioner that may wish to connect with water, wish to use water in their practice or has a mission to protect and get closer to the natural world. If your practice involves activism, and a deep connection to the Genius Loci, then there will be much value in this book for you!

MS: You do several courses as well as mentoring. What’s your favourite course that you teach and why?

AA: I offer several classes on my Water Witchcraft website, as well as through my tradition Triskele Rose and I am currently working on 2 more that will release in 2019-2020 on the Water Witchcraft website. However, if I had to choose a favourite it would be the 9-month Water Magic course. I think this course offers a good introduction to my own personal practice and really offers so much to the student that everyone regardless of path, location or ability gets a really good heaping handful of information. Everyone walks away from the course with so much knowledge and experience; it really bursts my heart open to see people work so hard and become so passionate about water and the magical practices that surround it.

MS: When did you discover that you had a passion for teaching? How did this come about?

AA: I think I have always been a natural teacher. As a teen, I was always teaching younger children. I spent several years in my late teens and early twenties learning to belly dance, and after I became proficient I had an opportunity to start teaching it to others. This is where I truly began to blossom as being able to provide a space for my students to explore and learn was so fulfilling for me. In my own experience I have learned that when I teach something, I become so familiar with it that while I significantly deepen my own connection with the material. I have also discovered that working with students one on one provides me with options and experiences from other perspectives that I learn to deepen my own knowledge, experience and mental reach on the subject. Not only that, not everything works for everyone and so I am able to work with students to adapt things to help make it work for them and future students. There is so much joy in this for me, making these practices accessible to those that may have never had the experiences before, watching the insecure witchling blossom into a powerful, confident witch; there is nothing better than that!

MS: You’re also an oracle- tell us a little bit about what this means.

AA: I was given my first tarot deck when I was 19, it didn’t take me long to learn how to read them and to find out I was quite good at it. Over the years I practiced and read for friends, then I began to branch out and read for everyone I could. While living in Arizona, I worked for a party planner and was able to do large gigs for corporate events. They were quite fun actually and I read for many, many people in one night. I don’t do this anymore, but I still love to read. Currently I run a monthly special, and have several types of readings available on my website. I also do Live Stream Water Witch Wednesday which happens every Wednesday 11:00 am PST on Instagram Live (@annwynavalon). I am on for about an hour, we talk about Water Magic, have Q and A time and then I take small prayer/spell requests as well as pull oracle or tarot cards to deliver messages from the water spirits to those that tune in and ask. I really enjoy this because I get to interact with many people and offer free readings for those that usually couldn’t afford to have a private appointment or take classes. While my time is important to me, I really value getting the messages that the water spirits want out into the world for those that need it regardless of transaction.

MS: Where is your most sacred place, or the place that means the most to you in terms of your magic?

AA: This is hard. If I am speaking locally then it would be the little space in my yard that I have set aside for a water temple. I am lucky enough to have a creek that runs through my property and there is a little waterfall, hawthorn and hazel trees, and a little secluded place where I have my outdoor altar. However, if you are asking about worldwide then it would be Scotland or England especially around Glastonbury, Cornwall, and Sulis’s temple at Bath as they have all had profound impacts on me and where I feel most connected to the land, spirits and the cultural practices. England has always held a piece of my heart and soul and I try to make it back as much as I can to visit.

MS: You’re also an accomplished artist. What is your favourite piece that you’ve created to date?

AA: Oh, this is hard because I really like all the art I release to the world! However, there are two paintings, one of my best friends and one of Sulis that I made for her, she owns both the original pieces, but they are my favourite because they were done with love and passion. Of the paintings I still have in my inventory I recently did a painting of Thalassa that I really like as well as a painting of a Water Priestess that I believe was channelled from an ancient past life. While it is not the most technically correct piece, there is something about it that makes my heart sing.

MS: And what’s your favourite piece of art by another artist, and why?

AA: The Lady of Shalott by J.W. Waterhouse remains by far my favourite painting of all time. Though there are many more by him and other Pre-Raphaelites that also capture my heart. The Lady of Shalott has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a very young girl, through the various paintings by Waterhouse and others to the poem by Tennyson as well as sung by Loreena McKennitt. La Bell de Sans Merci is a close second as well, in both painting by Waterhouse and poem by Keats.

MS: Do you have a favourite season or festival?

AA: Yes! The fall by far is my favourite, especially that period right between Samhain and Yule when it’s getting darker and colder. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spring as well, but if I had to pick between the two, the cooler darker days, the fall leaves and all the festivals and celebrations really make me happy, especially after all the heat of the summer. This dark mysterious time is most welcome. I am obsessed with flowers though and so spring time comes in so very, very close; it is hard to choose!

MS: How was Pantheacon this year? What did you enjoy most about it?

AA: Pantheacon this year was great! I love this event and look forward to it each year. I think my favourite part was reading in the Weiser Suite. It was a bit surreal to be there next to people whose work I have admired for such a long time. I was also blessed to have presented several times this year and was able to share information I am very passionate about as well as promote the call to action to pay attention and to sacredly attend our waters. I am looking forward to next year!

MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2019?

AA: There are several things I am looking forward to in 2019. I will be lecturing at Mystic South followed by a trip back to North Carolina to dance, teach and make magic! I am also working on a few secret watery projects that I am really looking forward to spending in creation mode getting them ready for release. I also find myself in a place of having more time on my hands and so I am looking forward to having time to spend painting and playing in my garden.

You can find out more about Annwyn and her work on her YouTube channel, her website, and via FaceBook. Her book, Water Witchcraft, is available now.

Water Witchcraft: Magic and Lore from the Celtic Tradition on Amazon

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors & Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Learning Lenormand Reviews – The Fairy Tale Lenormand Deck

June, 2019

The Fairy Tale Lenormand

This is one of the most adorable deck of cards I have ever seen in any form – be it Lenormand, Tarot, Oracle, or just a deck of playing cards!

Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. (www.usgamesinc.com), with artwork by the very talented Lisa Hunt and with a booklet written by Arwen Lynch, this set of Lenormand cards is sure to delight any level of practitioner. As someone who is still at a beginner’s level (I admit it), I think it would be great for someone who is learning the basics of Lenormand or who is just beyond the basics.

And I love the little tin. I love little boxes of all kinds and I collect them.

Winner of the 2016 Tarosophists Award for Best Lenormand Deck, the cards measure no more than 2 ¼ inches by 3 ½ inches (5.5 mm x 8.5 mm) and they are made out of standard card stock with a glossy finish on them which makes them easy to shuffle and handle. They are just a tad smaller than a standard poker deck. I can well imagine elves and fairies sitting around a toadstool table dealing out the cards to see what their fortune will be today!

I grew up loving Fairy Tales. My beloved grandmother MacDavid, “Gramma Mac” was a skilled storyteller and she lived not very far from the home in which I lived with my parents and my brothers and sisters. I – along with my brothers and sisters, and my cousins, who lived next door to my grandmother – spent many happy days at her home, which was where she grew up as well. A day was not complete without at least one storytelling session and usually there was more than one. I personally loved Fairy Tales but she would also tell stories about our family history and about the neighborhood. She also brought the Fairy Tales into our real life. For instance, there was an old shack across the creek – my father, who had been an Eagle Scout, said it was where the Boy Scouts met back in the 1940’s – but Gramma Mac said it was where the Wicked Witch of the West lived! At least in the warm months. In the winter, she lived in the cellar! What my grandmother called “the dungeon”! – the drained cistern that was beneath the house and was attached to the herb cellar. When she went down into the cellar in the winter – to get a jar of pickles or some other canned item – she would knock on the walls to “let the witch know she was coming”. In the spring, when the snows melted and the creek overflowed its banks, the cellar would flood and, remembering how Dorothy melted the Wicked Witch with a pail of water, we would ask about the witch. “Oh, she’s alright,” my grandmother told us. “She’s already gone back to the shack in the woods. It’s spring.”

The Creek

Sometime in the early 1970’s, the shack burned to the ground – some teenagers torched it – I remember being there before it burned and seeing evidence of partying. I was only twelve but I didn’t think the witch drank Genny Cream Ale and smoked Pall Malls (but honestly, what did I know?). Of course, by then I was getting a bit old for believing in the Wicked Witch of the West. At least – in a literal sense. In a few years, I would be discovering the Goddess and a whole new way of looking at witches and fairies.

When I first opened up this pack of cards and looked at the images, all the lessons I learned from hearing fairy tales from my grandmother and reading them on my own came back to me. Using fairy tales as a metaphor for the concepts within the Lenormand (or the Tarot) is nothing short of brilliant. In my humble opinion, anyway!

Lisa Hunt is the artist who created the Fairy Tale Tarot and five other divination decks. Her website is here: Lisa Hunt Gallery. There’s a lot to see, so plan to spend some time here! She’s a fabulous artist. I personally would love to get the Fairy Tale Tarot someday – I have always loved it. Not to mention that using Tarot cards and Lenormand cards in the same reading is quite the rage nowadays (see: https://www.cafelenormand.com/combine-tarot-lenormand/ and http://learnlenormand.com/combining-lenormand-with-tarot/) so having the Fairy Tale Tarot along with the Fairy Tale Lenormand would be a great way to access this trend! But right now, let’s just focus on the Fairy Tale Lenormand.

The little booklet – and it is small! – was written by Arwen Lynch. Her website is here: Tarot by Arwen. The Forward in the book is written by Donnaleigh de LaRose and I highly recommend that you read it carefully. I know that lots of you skip over forwards and introductions but don’t do it this time. There’s a ton of important information in these eleven pages. I have to admit that I didn’t know who Donnaleigh de LaRose was before I read this introduction but I checked out her webpage and I hope you all do, too. There’s a wealth of knowledge here.

This booklet differs from other Lenormand booklets in that while it gives the meanings of the cards, using the Fairy Tale story of the image to fully illustrate the concept, there are no double meanings. Usually Lenormand booklets will give you basic examples, such as Clover + Letter or Dog + Man. However, this booklet is so tiny that those kinds of examples might have been edited out for the sake of space, which is understandable. And honestly – I can attest this for myself – you don’t get that kind of linguistic understanding of the cards by reading it in a book. The only way you get it is by using the cards every single day. Practice makes perfect – I must have heard that a hundred times as a kid – but ya know what? It’s true. And if it doesn’t make you perfect – at least it makes you competent.

At the end of the book, there are several spreads, all based on the Fan Spread. I used that spread for several days – with several different questions. Here are the results.

First question: Will I hear from C. soon? This was the other day, although I am once again waiting to hear from C. Here are the cards I pulled:

From this, I saw that C was still at work (36, Cross, burdens) but he would soon be texting me (27, Letter) with good news (9, Bouquet). Which is exactly what happened. I hope it happens again!

Yesterday, I went out to lunch with my cousin Rose. Rose was one of the cousins who lived next door to my Gramma Mac; she called my Gramma “Auntie”. Rose was born two months before I was – I have no memory of life without Rose – she is my oldest and dearest friend. We went to the Saigon Café and had lunch and caught up. Before I met with her, I asked the cards (rather rhetorically, I admit), “What will we talk about?” Here is the answer:

Both Rose and I have dealt with a lot of death in our families these past few years – in the last ten years, she has lost both her parents, her older brother (whom I adored) and her husband. In the past year, I have lost my father, my beloved aunt, my yellow lab, and a troublesome but loved uncle. We talked about how these deaths affected us and our loyalty to our dead loved ones but also the brightness of the future, as we explore new relationships and new experiences. It was such a wonderful lunch!

This morning, I got a call from an ex-boyfriend. He’s off work today and do I want to hang out with him today? Do some fishing?

Of course, my first thought is NO. But I go to the cards, right? And this is what I pull:

Okay, setting aside that the cards are practically in order – believe me, I shuffled! And it’s not like they were in order to begin with! – I am first struck at how the Lady and the Gentleman are facing away from each other! Doesn’t that say it all! But there’s the 30 Lilies card and there’s a definite sexual attraction between the two of them – or is there? Is the Lady looking somewhere else? And where is the Gentleman looking? The focus is the 31 Sun card so maybe they get it together – as an old Crone, I’d say that’s a very big maybe.

But hell! I haven’t been fishing in a very long time! And it’s a beautiful sunny day! Perfect fishing weather!

I have to say that I absolutely love this deck of cards. It’s my new favorite divinatory method – I’ve been using it every day. I might actually learn the Lenormand with this fabulous deck! I can’t recommend it enough! If you purchase it or get it as a present, I hope you love it as much as I do!

Until next time, Brightest Blessings!

References:

Lynch, Arwen & Lisa Hunt. Fairy Tale Lenormand. Stamford, CT: US Games, Inc., 2016.

Lisa Hunt Gallery

Tarot by Arwen

Donna Leigh

Cafe Lenomand: Combine Tarot – Lenormand

Learn Lenormand: Combinging Lenormand with Tarot

Photograph of “the creek” from my own personal collection.

The Fairy Tale Lenormand on Amazon

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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.

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