Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews by our authors or about our authors

The Norse Shaman: A Review

A review by Frank Malone

It is remarkable what Evelyn C. Rysdyk has accomplished in her new book, The Norse Shaman: Ancient Spiritual Practices of the Northern Tradition. The rise of the shamanic renaissance is such that I stumbled across this volume at a Barnes & Noble (a Borders-like bookshop in the States). An immediate delight in reading Rysdyk’s treatise on seiðr (Norse shamanic journeying) is that it is unusually scholarly for the “spirituality/shamanism” genre. It integrates shamanism, archaeology, and anthropology with a feminist and ecopsychological lens.

Rysdyk herself is an American professional illustrator whose maternal grandparents immigrated from Norway. She originally trained with Dr Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman in the core shamanism model. Subsequently, she trained with indigenous shamanic teachers from the Siberian, Himalayan, and South American regions. A founding member of the Society for Shamanic Practice, Rysdyk maintains a practice in shamanism in Maine.
It must be noted that this book assumes the reader has been formally trained in shamanic journeying. That said, the first chapter, “Visionaries in Our Family Tree” contains (before the concluding exercise section) the finest introduction to shamanic spirituality I have ever read. It is a masterpiece of clarity and concision.

My gateway into Norse mythology was through my appreciation of Richard Wagner’s cycle of operas, Der Ring des Niebelungen. This led me to the original Nordic and Germanic sources to determine how Wagner had modified them to achieve his unified vision. Rysdyk gives an excellent overview of how the Norse and shamanic worldviews meshed, and summarizes what you need to know about Norse mythology. My subsequent entry into shamanism was through working and training with core shamanic practitioners. Part of my interest in this book stemmed from learning (to my surprise) from a shamanic practitioner that I have Scandinavian ancestry, later confirmed by DNA testing.

Further, as a psychoanalyst who is also trained in ecotherapy, I appreciated the addition of ecopsychology to her discourse. Originating in the 1990’s, it is the latest paradigm shift in psychology. My clinical profession has evolved over the decades from focusing on only the individual. It then moved to considering interaction with the family system, then with the culture, and now with the ecosystem. By introducing current ecological crises into her discussion, she gives contemporary and global relevance of these northern shamanic traditions, beyond personal spirituality work.
I especially enjoyed that the book is written from a feminist perspective. This framework allows Rysdyk to bring in anthropology to bear on issues that confound literary scholars concerning the Eddas. As an example, Rysdyk is able to bring understanding to the differential between the gods of Vanaheim (Old Europe matriarchal traditions) and Æsgard (Asian patriarchal traditions). One would never get this from purely literary treatments of this mythological material. Certainly in the recent English translation notes of the Eddas there is no comparable depth of insight.

Rysdyk masterfully displays for us what is known about Scandinavian shamanic practice, and how it can be used today. Chapters conclude with step-by-step exercises to help the reader experientially apprehend the discussions. Also helpful are pronunciation charts for the Old Norse letters and words. There is even an appendix on how to make your own seiðr hood to wear when journeying. In short, this book is a satisfying smörgåsbord of delights.

find out more about The Norse Shaman here – http://www.evelynrysdyk.com/bookstore.html

Cosmic Dancer recommends

Pagan book recommendations from Cosmic Dancer.

John Awen: Summerlands Pagan Death and Rebirth 2016

A very good book. Death as the author says is a taboo subject in today’s world, but the author manages to make it easier to talk about through this book. Making death seem not as morbid and dark as some would have you believe. It is something that will come to us all and this book makes it a little easier to understand and to not be as scared about, Well worth a read.

More about the book here – http://www.greenmagicpublishing.com/Products/Details/234

 

John Awen: Journey to the Summerlands. 2015

This is a brilliant short book that helps you understand the passing on from this world to the next, having had some bad news myself this book offers some comfort, as though the author was there chatting to me, and his description of being on a train and each stage of life is like getting off at a station, then as we pass to the next stage, getting back on the train, is brilliant, cannot recommend this enough.

More about the book here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Journey-Summerlands-John-Awen/dp/1512212520

 

Anna Franklin: Hearth Witch

5 stars in no way near enough for this book. I was gifted this, and I found it so hard to put down, it’s not often you find a book like this  that gives such detail, easy to understand follow, whether you are new to this path or have been on this a while, it’s an invaluable  reference book to have in your collection, the recipes are just great, and before I knew it I was out gathering things to try for myself, a highly recommended read, I cannot wait to collect the other books Anna has written.

More about the book here – http://annafranklin.webplus.net/page29.html

 

Deborah J Martin: Herbs  Medicinal Magical Marvellous

This is just the type of book I’m looking for, not only does it list the herbs, but also gives the Latin name too, then it goes on to say what you can use each one for, medicinal and therapeutic what element that represent, and whether male or female, for someone who wants to make fresh incense this is a great book to use alongside your workings. Such a shame I cannot give it more than five stars.

(Editor’s note, Cosmic Dancer also reviews on Amazon, where of course stars are finite….)

More about the book here – http://www.moon-books.net/books/herbs-medicinal-magical-marvelous

Cosmic Dancer reviews the Druids

A Legacy of Druids, by Ellen Evert Hopman

A fascinating book that will lead to discussions, a lot of the posts by Druids I don’t agree with (as a Druid myself), but is that not the point of this type of book? To read it and then discuss the points with other readers? I did struggle with the American contributors as I struggled getting to grips with making it more of an organised religion with people being ordained and such but that’s my opinion. I think this is a book that if discussed at local moots would lead to a good night of debate and conversation. A book well worth a read even if it’s just to see if what the contributors were hoping for years ago has come to pass(and some have).All in all I enjoyed it and whether I agree with the pieces or not I respect all those that contributed to it. I do recommend it.

 

Spirituality without Structure, By Nimue Brown

Even though it is only a small book, it contains such a wealth of information and insight that it makes you question yourself, which as a Druid is always a good thing. When you question your belief you stop taking it for granted. I also found myself agreeing with a lot of the content and finding that my belief is not a million miles away from hers.
If you are thinking of leaving the mainstream religions or have left and are in a bit of a panic then this book is for you (it also mentions cake).

 

 

Let’s Talk About Elements and the Pagan Wheel, by Siusaidh Ceanadach

It is mainly aimed at children , but I do feel that adults will enjoy it just as much. Each section has some questions and challenges set for children. A must read for all children, who wish to learn more, I’m sure they will come back to it time and time again.

 

 

 

The Handbook of Urban Druidry, by Brendan Howlin

As an Urban Druid myself I can agree with most of the things that he says in this book. For some Druids the thought of doing “Druidry” in an urban environment can be a bit hard to get their head round, as most are more used to a forest or woodland setting, but this book helps you come to terms and find a way to be a Druid no matter where you are. Lessons and observations are laid out very well and it is not a complicated book that you could get lost in. I did find it useful and it was good to know that another feels the same way about the cityscapes as I do. All in all a good read for those just starting on this path or maybe just want to look at their town and live in the same environment as the author.

 

New Reviews Are Up!

The Pagan and the Pen Book Reviews is now posting on the 5th and 20th of each month. Reviews posted for May 5, 2010 are:

Reviewer Top Pick: Her Master’s Gift by Dena Celeste

Bogonoun’s Wonderful Songbird by John B. Rosenman

Firefly by Madison Night

Do As I Say by Penn Halligan

Letting Go by Michele Zurlo

Yule Fire by Lena Austin

 

Message forwarded from Rie McGaha.

 

Note: The Book Reviews have their own web site now. All links will open a new window to there.

 

AND A BIG BIG BIG THANKS TO THE REVIEWERS!!!!!

Book Reviews for the 20th

Announcement: There were so many that I wasn’t going to do a separate post for all. However, we do have a new site for reviews because now we have so many. In fact, reviews maybe posted more than just once a month.

 

To read review, click the link below.

The Pagan & the Pen Need Reviewers!

Well, while our list of Reviewers has grown, we still need more. Rie McGaha just signed on with three Publishing houses and we are slammed with books! While we are excited, we are also opening our doors again for Reviewers. Do you have to be a pagan to review for us? No…you can be whatever you want to be or nothing at all.

The only requirements are:

You have to love reading, be able to choose your own books of interest, give the said book thought, and write an unbiased review.

So, if you are interested, please contact Rie at : thepaganpen(at)gmail(dot)com

What are you waiting for????? Run to your emails!

Book Review: The Fallen Fae by Connie Wood

Title: The Fallen Fae
Author:  Connie Wood
Author Site

Buy Link

Publisher:  Freya’s Bower
Genre: Erotic Fantasy/Angels and Demons
Length: 55 pp 
Other:  M/F
Pagan & Pagan Elements: yes/yes
Card Rating:  4 Tarots
Reviewed by: Kim Clune
About The Book:

To read more about this book and the review, CLICK HERE. The Pagan and the Pen Book Review section got to be so big, we had to create them their own site!