Pagan Reader

Posts Tagged ‘review

51OHQFp-m2L__SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I bought this at The Works a few months ago.  When I thumbed through it, I struck at how familiar the contents was.  I wondered where I had read this book before.  Then I remembered.

As a teenager I had my eye on a book in a discount book shop; it a had a deep red and gold cover with a picture of a wizard (an bearded man with a pointed hat) embossed on the cover.  I remember asking my parents to buy it for me since at that time they bought most of my things for me but they never did.  But one of my classmates who, like me was inclined towards the occult, did buy it themselves and would occasionally let me read it during morning break when he brought it in.  I remember he brought in this tiny little vial of what looked like ashes.  He told me that he had made it using the instructions  from the book.  Reading through the chapter dedicated to Alchemy, it was probably sal salis (“salt of the salt”), which is a water-soluble salt created from wood ash; and is the first step in creating a planetary tincture (a liquid imbued with the cleansing and fortifying powers of one of the planets, as far as I understand it).  I never actually learned which tincture he was making.

Before I really read the book I didn’t really understand what they meant by they referred to High Magic.  After skimming through this book, I’ve come to understand it as an umbrella term that encompasses practises like as Angel magic, Astrology, Alchemy, and so on.  Like most of the magical arts, there is usually some form of ceremony in the magical traditions, and the practises depicted in this book are no different.  Not only are there western rituals there was also a subchapter dedicated to several Far Eastern practises, mainly Buddhist.  While the practises depicted in this book are a bit too complicated for me, it’s still a fascinating read.  And it has given me a few ideas for my creative writing.

Though it’s an almost brand new book, it smells like an older one which is one things that I love about it.  I have to admit I prefer the old cover but I suppose that the new cover would appeal to a younger audience.  A lot of the illustrations are in a slightly different style than what I remember in the old edition, but the diagrams are pretty much the same.

Its author, Frances Melville is, according to the blurb at the back of the book, a “student of theology and a practitioner of medical alchemy”.  She has also written Defence Against The Dark Arts (another book I own a copy of) and other books on magic and myticism.

At the end of the book, there is a bibliography of sources that Melville used to write this book, if readers wished to read further on the subject.

Conclusively, The Secrets of High Magic will make a great addition to any occult library, especially as an introduction to High Magic.

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Though not my favourite book on magick, The Little Book of Pocket Spells is a convenient size to carry around, particularly when you’re travelling and don’t want to drag a large volume like the Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells  around with you.  It’s easy to slip into your handbag, or pocket.  My copy is worn and bent from the many times that I’ve taken mine with me on holiday, or just out with friends or family.

Because it’s such a small book,  The Little Boof of Pocket Spells summarises a lot of what is written in the larger books into one or two pages, such as the correspondences, the lunar cycle and candle magick.  However the spells aren’t categorised in any sort of order, which makes it bothersome to find the spell you want.

Most, if not all, of the spells within this book are quick and easy to perform, provided that you have the necessary ingredients.  And if you feel it necessary, you could add to these spells to make them more personal to you.

This would also make a great beginner’s book on magic and witchcraft.  Also, the little cat printed in the corner of each right-hand page that wags its’ tail if you flip the pages like a flipbook is a nice touch, particularly for slightly older children from around twelve years.

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Now available as an eBook on Amazon. Click here.

Another wonderful volume from Judika Illes-this would make a wonderful addition to any library, whether pagan or non-pagan, for research or ritual work.  The Encyclopedia of Spirits compiles many of the major deities and spirits from around the world, from both present and past cultures, such as China and Ancient Greece.

A lot of the spirits, I have never heard of, mostly because I have never read or taken an interest in the cultures that they are part of.

Each article for each spirit has been well researched and well presented with clear description.  The profiles include their titles, alternative names, their place or culture of origin and rank within their pantheon (if there are), the different versions of the most well-known stories they are featured in, specific dates, places , plants and animals that are sacred to them (this only applies to deities), their manifestations, attributes and celestial bodies associated with them, as well as objects that would make appropriate offerings to them.  Although, not all profiles include all of the things mentioned.  At the end of each profile, Illes give names of deities or spirits associated, whether linked by familial connections or in stories.

Illes also uses examples from modern popular culture, particularly when it comes to spirits from Japan, as they are often used as inspiration for popular cartoons and comic books, such as Inuyasha and Yu Yu Hakusho.  Some of the most well-known American television dramas also use spirits that are notorious for hauntings and creating mischief, both harmful and non-harmful.

Some of these articles also include historical or cultural notes, particularly if deities were originally people who were ‘deified’ after death.

Whether you a writer of fantasy or horror, a pagan or witch, or just a follower of the paranormal and supernatural, the Encyclopedia of Spirits is an absolute must-have.

I purchased the 2008 edition of the The Witch’s Almanac from a charity store last month.  I paid for less than a third of the original price, so I was quite happy with it.  It didn’t matter that it was an older edition.  I had thought to purchase a newer edition, whether for 2010 or the 2011 one later in the year, thinking that the contents would change every year.  But I happened to see a copy of the 2010 edition of the Almanac when I was browsing around in WH Smith a few weeks later, and decided to have a quick look through it before deciding whether or not I should purchase it.  And thank goodness I did, as I was disappointed  by what was in it.  It was practically the same as the 2008 edition.  The only thing about the almanac that changes are the dates, and the rhythms of the moon, sun and planets and the cover.  It has all the same spells, rituals and information, and poems.  (Each section for the months has a poem at the end of it).  Even the illustrations are the same.

One would be better off, just buying one edition of the book, and buying a Witch’s Calendar, which has the rhythms on each day, and special dates marked.  Any other days important to your specific Path you can just add yourself.  For that, I would recommend The Witch’s Calendar published by Llewelyn.

Though the title gives the impression of a fictional book, it’s subtitle more than corrects you on that note–‘How to live and work by natural cycles in the everyday world’.  Now, the word pagan,  actually comes from the latin word paganus, which means ‘country-dweller’.  Nowadays it is a generic term used to describe those who practise pre-Christian ideals, particularly those who live in countryside.  Going to university in Central Lancashire, which is to the North of England and considered more rural, I did notice that paganism seems to be more widely accepted than in the South where I live with my parents.

When I first started reading and learning about paganism, I thought it was a religion albeit an informal one, but after reading this book, it made me realise that it was also a way of life, or rather how you choose to live your life.  A philosophy of life in other words, much like Taoism in a way.

The language that the author, Cassandra Eason, uses is easy to understand with none of the flowery language you often see in mainstream pagan texts, and uses examples from everyday life.  The author also gives alternative suggestions to things that may not be possible given the lifestyle of the reader, such as if one cannot create a magical hearth (which requires either a grate or a brazier if one doesn’t have a hearth) , the alternative is to create a sacred place (which can be a coffee table that you decorate to your tastes). 

Like any other pagan text you find on a chain bookstore shelf, it does include rituals that one can do, the Sabbats and some basic information on crystal healing.  There is also a little about divining with water and the clouds.  However, unlike other books I’ve read, Pagan in the City also explain in depth the pinciples of paganism.  A couple of them are similar to Wiccan beliefs, but life many religions in the world, there are some similarities in how they view things.  Eason also makes a few references to Asian cultures, to which I was disappointed that there were not more of them.  As this is a book on living in the city as a pagan, Eason gives pointers on creating a harmonious home and workplace.  The latter is stated as being more difficult to keep the harmony, mainly due to work colleagues.

Because this was mainly written from the writer’s own experience’s as pagan living in a city, one doesn’t have to completely follow the ideas and suggestions in this book, but adapt them to suit your own lifestyle.  So it is more of a guidebook than an instruction manual on how to live your life in a certain way.

While reading, it would be  good idea to have a notebook handy to jot down anything in the book that appeals to you, so you can incorporate them into your routine or just use them to make an anniversary or party a little extra special.

Eason has also included useful contact information for pagan groups and organisations, as well as lists for further reading on subjects mentioned in Pagan in the City.  Eason has included her own contact information ( her website), and the titles of some of her other works.