Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Where the Hawthorn Grows – review

Cosmic Dancer reviews Morgan Daimler’s Where the Hawthorn Grows.

I noticed from  reading a couple of pages, that this was  more of a personal journey. The author tells us this up front.. which I found very good.

Morgan has  brilliantly outlined and described how Celts and Druids practiced in the past. If you  yourself wish to learn these ways, or to place them into practice today in a more modern world.

Which ever path you may find yourself on, this is a book that is most  definitely an interesting book to have and one that I am sure you will read from cover to cover, and maybe time and time again.

It has a very interesting section on healing deities along with fascinating chapters on spirits of the land, ancestors, detailed celebrations, life passages , which I particularly likes  and which you don’t often see in books, and a section on Celtic magic, which I loved.  Community and sacred tattooing which is also  interesting to find.

More about the book here – http://www.moon-books.net/books/where-hawthorn-grows 

 

Review of Fairycraft – Following The Path Of Fairy Witchcraft by Morgan Daimler

Review by Mael Brigde

A sumptuous blend of traditional lore, excellent scholarship, and a rich and ethical modern practice in the Fairy tradition.

“Modern paganism includes a dizzying selection of paths and traditions, of which Fairy Witchcraft is but one. Some people may find the combination of neopagan religion and traditional Fairy Faith beliefs ideal; others may decide that it is not the path for them. Indeed, although it is a path with many rewards it is also a difficult one to walk and one that requires a great deal of effort to practice. Above all, it is a religion of risk, not something safe and secure to curl up in like a warm blanket, but rather a tough pair of boots that will take you off the beaten path and into the trackless woods.” p1

I am excited by this work. I liked it enough to order a second copy as a present for my niece.

If I hadn’t known Daimler’s work from books like Pagan Portals: Brigit – Meeting The Celtic Goddess Of Poetry, Forge, And Healing Well and Pagan Portals – Irish Paganism: Reconstructing Irish Polytheism, a glance at the cover would have led me to a wrong conclusion. Not because it is the wrong cover for the book—it’s lovely—but because of my own preconceptions. The cover image is of a pretty white woman wearing flowing robes and a flowery headdress, a book open in her hand, and the greenwoods blurring out behind her. Because of the sort of fairy-related things I have seen for years and years, I would have assumed that this was a light feast, possibly not very well researched, or at least, not covering topics that would be of much interest to me. I would have assumed it had an emphasis on a romantic, Victorian idealization of the Fair Folk, or alternatively was a Wiccan book: two things I was hugely drawn to in my younger days (first the one, and then the other), but which have been replaced by a love of the nuts and bolts details of the cultures, tales, and traditions that gave birth to them.

Luckily, this is my fifth nonfiction book by Morgan Daimler, and I would not keep coming back for more if I wasn’t very happy with what she has to offer. In all of her books she exhibits a careful and thorough scholarship in tandem with a genuine love of the traditions, both ancient and modern, that she is describing. There is a depth and breadth to her knowledge of the deities and culture of pagan Ireland, as well as a broader understanding of Irish, Scottish, Norse, and German spirit lore. She blends these with a deep personal practice and honest commitment to an ethical and full-bodied Polytheistic path. So when she tells me what she means by a “witch” in the first few pages, and when she says her term Fairy Witchcraft describes a modern Pagan practice that draws on the old Fairy Faiths, I am already sitting up and paying attention, eager to go on reading the book.

“A Fairy Witch is someone who has nurtured a relationship with fairy beings, who uses herbs magically, who uses divination, and who can identify and deal with different magical problems, whether they are caused by Fairies or by other magical people. Studying and understanding these older types of practitioner helps give us guidance on what we should do and how we should approach the magical side of our own witchcraft.” p 6-7

(A fairy is one of) “a wide array of Otherworldly beings and land spirits, which are not human and which may or may not be kindly inclined toward humans. Much as the word ‘animal’ includes everything from mice to bears, the word ‘fairy’ includes everything from tiny sprites to monstrous giants, from diminutive pixies to human-sized elves, from hags to water-horses.” p7

Although greatly interested in Irish deities and lore, I was not actually aware that there was such a thing as a NeoPagan Fairy path, so this book was an eye-opener for me in many ways. Daimler, herself a follower of Fairy Witchcraft, carefully explains to the unschooled like myself the basic principles of understanding and relating with the Good Folk, clarifying who and what they are, ways in which traditions agree and differ in regards to them, what types of offerings and principles of living please and annoy them, and so on. She discusses Irish, Scottish, Norse, and German fey, and offers her own experiences and insights, along with conclusions she has tentatively formed based on all of this. (The Norse material is in large part new to me, and it is useful to have it alongside the Irish.)

That is one of the things I like most about Daimler. I know where I am with her: is this information from the texts and traditions of old? Is it a modern idea? Is it her own reworking or new translation of an old text? Is it drawn from direct experience? She does employ all of these things, but she doesn’t mix them together higgledy-piggledy, so it is easier for me to decide what sort of weight to put on them. This is not an easy trick to pull off, and I am grateful to her for the effort she puts into it.

Daimler’s writing style is very readable as well. Many books of fascinating information are written in such a leaden way that it is hard for me to plough through them at all. Not so with her. The writing is idea-rich but clear; she is willing to give detail where needed, but doesn’t dwell overly long on each point. I always find myself reading longer than I intended to, because the book is so darned interesting.

A couple of random highlights from Fairycraft:

I am grateful, as I read “Chapter One – Beliefs” and try to get a sense of what Fairycraft is, for Daimler’s lucid, systematic presentation of her materials. She doesn’t neglect the most basic things: e.g. What are gods? How do fairy witches perceive them differently than in other branches of polytheism? How do they differ from fairies? But neither does she talk down to the reader; she is building a structure on a well-delineated base.

In “Chapter Four – The Other Crowd and Ancestors” I was particularly touched by her thoughtful exploration of how and why we might honour our ancestors. She addresses the temptation to cherry-pick who we will honour, and who to leave off, and does so in a way that both challenges us and is sensitive to our pain. This is one of the many examples of Daimler’s ability to think about a topic from many angles, and to ask us to live with integrity. Similarly, the insights in her discussion of what makes a space sacred (Chapter Five – Tools and Ritual Space) is a great part of what makes this book so special.

This is the longest of Daimler’s books I have read thus far, and it is a pleasure to see her unfold her subject in such detail. The slimmer Pagan Portals books are excellent introductions. Their brevity and strict focus is part of their strength. But in the longer form Daimler is able to stretch her wings, and I am very glad I decided to read a book that gives her that space.

For those who get a thrill from new insights into old ways, there is much to appeal in Fairycraft by Morgan Daimler.

Moon-books.net/Fairycraft

The Dictionary of Mystery and Magic

Reviewed by Cosmic Dancer

This is the sort of book I have been looking for for a long time, an absolutely  wonderful book full of information on Magic, its a very very  must have reference book.
I found that while looking through I was  making notes and then looking for other words… just to look up,
I also loved that there were dotted about, some Charms , Spells, Folk medicine, Tree Lore and Seasonal Celebrations. I got this book on kindle but will be making a  purchase for a hard copy, well worth having on your book case, you will use it time and time again. I just love they way Melusine writes too. Brilliant.

The Secret Key to the Tarot Interview

Reblogged  with the author’s blessing from https://siriusrising777.wixsite.com/

Occult Times interviews the author Sirius Rising about his latest book, “The Secret Key to the Tarot”.

Occult Times: This is the second book you’ve written about Tarot.

Sirius Rising: Yes, that’s correct. My first book is The Tarot and Sex Magick.

Occult Times: Why did you feel the need to write another Tarot book.

Sirius Rising: The Tarot and Sex Magick is really meant for the advanced Tarot and Magick student. The Sex Magick techniques in the book are based on the teachings of Aleister Crowley.

I never recommend that a student begins his or her journey into Magick with Crowley. He’s really a place to end, rather than a starting point. It’s true that I began my spiritual path with the inspiration of Crowley, but I wouldn’t advise that for everyone.

Also, the Tarot and Sex Magick book also looks into curses. That is not a popular subject these days. There is also a dark side to the Tarot not much understood by Tarot readers today.

Occult Times: Would you say that the rituals in the book, namely sex magick and curses are Black Magick?

Sirius Rising: Well, only in the sense that any rituals designed to achieve material gains are a form of black magick. Personally, I see little distinction between White and Black Magick. They are both about the subjugation of the magician’s Will. When the Christian, Muslim or Jew worships God and puts their lives in His hands, then they have subjugated their Will to God. That is what White Magick really is, and clearly a huge percentage of the world practices White Magick.

There is also a lesser known Middle Way Magick, which is known as Buddhism. But that’s a story to be told in another book.

Occult Times: So, would you say that your new book “The Secret Key to the Tarot” is an introduction to Tarot or Magick?

Sirius Rising: Well, both really. There have, of course, been many excellent introductions to the Tarot written over the past 100 years. Crowley’s Book of Thoth is a masterpiece in that it explains Tarot’s profound link with the Ancient Mystery Traditions  such as the Qabalah. Apart from “Magick without Tears”, Crowley never wrote in a simple manner as he assumed he was writing for his disciples who were already thinking in harmony with his philosophy.

My book looks at the Tarot as an initiation ritual that many call the Path of the Fool. It’s an initiation that we all take in our own lives. They are rites of passage in life, which are the way markers and sign posts. Unfortunately, most people get hopelessly lost on the journey of life. This ends in confusion, resentment and ultimately despair. The Tarot is the perfect spiritual road map. I have little doubt, as Crowley did, that Tarot was carefully formulated in Ancient Egypt by the priest class as a gift to their fellow human beings.

Occult Times: Can you sum up the Path of the Fool?

Sirius Rising: The first half of the new book examines the Path or journey that all of us take. It consists of an outbound and an inbound journey. The Path of the Fool is the Major Arcana. The first 11 cards from the Fool to the Wheel of Fortune describe the outward journey. This is really the descent of the young and seeking soul from her blissful state of rest in the Great Mother’s womb into the chaos and chance of the material world. If you like, it’s the same descent from Kether to Malkuth in the Tree of Life.

The next 11 Major Arcana describe the inward journey back to the beginning point of the next life. All of us take our experience from this life and feed it back into our collective unconscious state ready for the next reincarnation. But as I said, the journey can be a lot less confusing with a tool such the Tarot to guide you.

Occult Times: You describe the book as an introduction to Tarot. Does that include how to use traditional spreads such as the Celtic Cross?

Sirius Rising: Yes, most certainly. After the card descriptions and how they relate to the Path of the Fool, I examine three different readings from real life by using three different spread techniques. When I say from beginner to advanced user, I mean that not only will the student be able to read the cards for themselves or for a client, but they will be approaching the readings from a magical or occult perspective.

Occult Times: What is your next book about?

Sirius Rising: I’m working on a book that shows the Path of the Fool from a Buddhist point of view. Again, with Tarot being used as a tool to illuminate the Buddhist teachings. This is what I referred to as the Middle Path of Magick.

Occult Times: I look forward to interviewing you about that book.

You can find The Secret Key to the Tarot here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Key-Tarot-beginner-advanced-ebook/dp/B07BPCZ6YQ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= 

Pagan Plant Books, reviewed

Cosmic Dancer reviews these three plant books from Pagan publishing house Moon Books.

This book was not what I expected, not only was the book very informative, but I found it enlightening. I was unsure about the bio-dynamics side , but this is fully explained, but its described in such outline that a total beginner can understand, I love the way Elen writes her books, warmth and clarity, about subjects that are fascinating to me and others, For this book even if you don’t have a large garden, you can implement some of the techniques for the smallest of gardens. Total garden magic here.

More about the book here – http://www.moon-books.net/books/gardening-moon-stars 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book is totally fantastic, for me. I totally love the way the herbs are described and then full colour photographs of some of the herbs, It’s easy to use for those who wish to go out foraging for them too, not only does it tell and show you where to source then but what some are used for, and excellent reference book and a must for those into herbology.

More about the book here – http://www.moon-books.net/books/herbs-of-the-northern-shaman 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me this is a great little book.  I use herbs a lot and this not only gives the history of the herbs, but habitat and the seasons in which each herb is grown. It goes in to detail of what you can use the herb for and what part can be used safely,and the chemistry of the herbs as well. This is defiantly my kind of book and a perfect reference one. I have read this book and found that I keep going back to it time and time again,

More here – http://www.moon-books.net/books/healing-power-of-celtic-plants

A Review of Merlin: Once and Future Wizard by Elen Sentier

Reviewed by Frank Malone

Elen Sentier’s latest book continues the fabulous Pagan Portals series from Moon Books. These brief volumes constellate an author’s accumulated wisdom on a specific subject. From my perspective as a psychoanalyst, I had heretofore approached Merlin as an archetypal image of the Wise Old Man. Amongst other things, Sentier is trained in transpersonal psychotherapy. She has opened my eyes so that I can begin to see the depth and complexity of Merlin. Furthermore, Sentier teaches us that Merlin is available to us now for relationship.

To my surprise, Sentier shows us that Merlin is the spirit of the land of Britain – and Brittany to boot! She thus explains the many (apparently) contradictory places in Britain and the Continent associated with Merlin in the legends. As spirit, he is far older than the figures in the stories. Sentier takes us through the divers guises of Merlin in literature. This includes, inter alia, the Green Man. The author discusses the light that these incarnations shed on Merlin as spirit.

Sentier is also one of the awenyddion (Celtic shamans). I was fascinated to learn about the Celtic way of journeying to the Otherworld. The trance-induction is different from the auditory-driven induction used in core shamanism, which is my training and practice. The author draws contrast between these two shamanic approaches. Additionally, the Celtic journey process described is, as she observes, “far closer to what Jung calls ‘active imagination’. It was also interesting to read how she integrates shamanic knowledge with her practice of psychotherapy.

I was delighted and grateful for her chapter on Nimue/Vivian. This was the most satisfying treatment of the topic I have seen. I enjoyed as well the integrated biographical material woven throughout the book. I appreciate authors who can be genuine and not hide behind an intellectual defense. The book is also infused with her gentle good humour. Sentier’s book is fun and informative, and I shall keep it around to refer to for years to come.

More about the book here – http://www.moon-books.net/books/pagan-portals-merlin

New Pagan non-fiction

I’ve been approached to shout out so many new Pagan books this month that I’ve had to split them into two groups. You can find the new Pagan fiction here. We’ve also got a new resident reviewer, do check out frank Malone’s review for The Norse Shaman.

Flower Face: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Blodeuwedd

By Jhenah Telyndru

Blodeuwedd. Flower Face. Keen-Eyed Hunter in the Night. Dwelling for centuries in darkness, flying on owl wings along the liminal boundary that straddles superstition and sacred symbol … this world and the Otherworld … archetype and Divinity… the essence of all that is Blodeuwedd is venturing once more into the light of consciousness. Simultaneously Flower Bride and Owl of Wisdom, Unfaithful Wife and Lady of Sovereignty, this complex figure holds many lessons for those who seek to know her, and through her, learn to shed the fragile petals of illusion wrought by the expectations of others, in order to birth the authentic Self that is able to see Truth with owl-wise eyes. Whether she is simply a legendary figure from Medieval Welsh lore, or is in truth a Sovereignty Goddess once worshiped in Celtic Britain, there is no doubt that Blodeuwedd is celebrated and honored in modern times as a Divinity in her own right.

Find the book here – https://www.amazon.com/dp/0978904591/

 

Celebrating The Seasons with Children
By Helen Royall

Celebrating The Seasons follows the seasons of Mother Earth. This wonderful treasury of stories enthuses children with the beauty of nature, engages them in creative activities and offers soul food for the imagination. Helen Royall describes vividly the ancient festivals of Samhaine, Imbolc, Beltaine and Lammas, each with fascinating stories, crafts, food and songs for us all to enjoy. She brings the ancient Goddesses alive, relating them to each season. Topics include: – The Celtic Festivals and Seasons – The Goddesses – Nature tables and crafts for the seasons – Year round rituals and rites of passage – Nurturing health, self respect, creativity and spirituality.

Find the book here – http://www.lulu.com/shop/helen-royall/celebrating-the-seasons-with-children/paperback/product-22966233.html

 

Mountain Magic : Celtic Shamanism in the Austrian Alps

By Christian Brunner

“Mountain Magic: Celtic Shamanism in the Austrian Alps” explores the traces the early Hallstatt Celts (and even older people) have left in lore and tradition in the Eastern Alps. This is a leisurely stroll through the mountains, building bridges to and finding parallels with lore found on the British Isles, and giving the reader ideas on how to weave these old traditions into modern magical practice.

Find the book here – https://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Magic-Celtic-Shamanism-Austrian/dp/131299519X

 

The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels (The Witch’s Tools Series)

By Laura Tempest Zakroff

Explore the spellbinding history, tradition, and modern uses of the Witch’s cauldron. From blessing and using your cauldron in ritual and divination to practicing kitchen witchery with it, this easy-to-use book provides essential information for Witches of all ages and skill levels.

The Witch’s Cauldron shows you the ins and outs of one of the most iconic tools in Witchcraft. Learn about the cauldron’s role in lore and mythology, its development through the ages, and old-world witchery. Discover how to choose, personalize, and care for your cauldron, and find unconventional ones already in your home. This entertaining book also features advice and spells from well-known writers, helping you delve into the endless possibilities for using a cauldron in your practice.

Find the book here – https://www.amazon.com/Witchs-Cauldron-Magick-Ritual-Vessels-ebook/dp/B01LWKJSZA/

 

The Path of Paganism: An Experience-Based Guide to Modern Pagan Practice

By John Beckett

Paganism is a way of seeing the world and your place in it. It means challenging the assumptions of mainstream society and strengthening your relationships with the gods, the universe, your community, and your self. The Path of Paganism provides practical advice and support for honoring your values and living an authentic Pagan life in mainstream Western culture.

Discover tips for establishing or deepening a regular practice. Explore how your spirituality can help you deal with life’s inevitable hardships. Learn the basics of leadership roles and other steps to take as you gain experience and move into more advanced practices. With questions for contemplation as well as rituals to help you integrate new concepts, this book guides you through a profoundly meaningful way of life.

Find the book here – https://www.amazon.com/Path-Paganism-Experience-Based-Modern-Practice/dp/0738752053