Magickware\’s Pagan Book Reviews

November 20, 2006

Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone

Filed under: Book Reviews — magickware @ 10:14 am

Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic by Lupa
Lupa tames the animal kingdom for magickal workers. In a no-holds barred manual, the author explores all aspects of utilizing animals in ritual and life works. She is a brave writer, not shying away from even subjects that are politically incorrect such as ritual sacrifice. In seven concise and informative chapters, the book takes the reader from the mildest form of animal magic – Totemism, to the most extreme and possibly controversial form – animal sacrifices.

For the most part the book is well written and to the point. I was fascinated by the recounting of the author’s own experiences of invocation while dancing in a wolf pelt. I often use found feathers in creation of magical tools so the chapter on using animal parts was also personally interesting for me. The author suggests deep communion with the animal spirits left behind in the parts, something I had never considered before. It does make sense to me, although nearly all the feathers I have worked with have been molted and as far as I am aware have little in terms of residual energy clinging to them. On the other hand, I have two turtle shells that I have been holding onto for years, not knowing what to do with them. Perhaps the ritual explained in this book to ask the original owners what they wish to have done with the remains would be a good avenue to pursue in this instance.

I have worked with animal imagery in the past both in forms of totems and animal nature. I often call animals to represent the Quarters when I cast circle. For a long time my favorite tarot deck was the Earth Medicine Deck, which features animals on most cards with some left blank for the reader to fill in as needed. But I never considered invocation of my totems into myself, never considered creating new animals to suit my needs and never tried shape shifting, either in my mind or in actuality. The author claims to feel “other” and to feel a kinship with her totems something I have never felt. This book contained many passages opening new ideas to me. Even if I fail to use their wisdom, I feel that my outlook when it comes to animal magic has been greatly expanded.

On the technical side of the book, I have two small issues. One was the page layout. I found the margins in the book to be too small forcing me to open the book’s spine more severely than I am accustomed to. In a hardback book this would not be an issue, but with a soft cover, I am afraid the binding will soon become cracked and damaged causing the book to have a short lifespan. The other thing I have issue with was the author’s attempt to be non-gender specific with her own word of “hir” replacing his, hers, him and her. It really is too bad that the English language has no gender-neutral words in these instances, but at best I found the replacement word to be distracting and at worst was that it was used inconsistently throughout the text. In places the common language of his and her was in evidence only to be replaced in the following paragraph by the “hir” usage.

In all this is an excellent book for people wishing to delve into the worlds of animal magics. It is far better than any other book I have read on the subject, avoiding the rote use of listing animal correspondences and getting down to the nitty-gritty of actual rituals and meditations fully accessible to even a novice.

November 10, 2006

Song of the Sea

Filed under: Music Reviews — magickware @ 12:11 pm

Song of the SeaSong of the Sea by Sharon Knight

This CD is a blend of traditional Celtic harmonies with the unusual and strong vocals of a true ballad singer. The instrumentation is made up of the expected Celtic sounds of pipes and whistles, drums and guitar as well as that of mandola, mandocello and violin.

Ms. Knights vocals are a rich alto with a soul-felt timbre.  I am not often a fan of straight Celtic music, finding most of it rather repetitive and expected, but this collection takes the basics and adds a measure of individuality that surprises and delights the listener.

The CD has 11 tracks totalling almost an hour’s worth of entertainment. The title track Star of the Sea begins with a siren’s tale that sets the tune for what’s to follow. The songs will delight Pagan and non-Pagan alike in their tapestry of melodies and layers of sound.

The case has a booklet with the lyrics for those interested in following along.  To be honest, it was several times of listening to the CD before I actually registered the words because I found the compositions so enchanting by themselves. This a nice addition to any musical collection.

November 9, 2006

The Mysteries of Druidry: Celtic Mysticism, Theory, & Practice

Filed under: Book Reviews — magickware @ 11:44 pm

Mysteries of DruidryThe Mysteries of Druidry: Celtic Mysticism, Theory, & Practice by Brendan Cathbad Myers

I was disappointed in this book. The promo material I received from the publisher has the lead line of ‘An ancient spirituality; a mystical order – crucial to healing the earth?,’ so I was expecting something along the same lines as Mr. Myers’ previous book. It just wasn’t so. Still, I suppose that’s the oversight of the promotions department at the publisher and not the author’s doing.

I found the author to be well versed and knowledgeable on his subject matter. The book is a well-done, scholarly accounting of Druidry, both historical and present day. The text is well annotated with footnotes to back up the author’s assertions and to help a reader place the many quotes from other scholars that frequent the pages. There are also many black and white photographs of places and architecture mentioned in the pages of the book.

There are many ritual enactments throughout the pages, allowing those who wish to delve into Druidic worship to jump right in. There are also retelling of classic Druid mythologies with thorough explanations of the whole cast of characters. If you ever wanted to know who’s who and what they did this is a good book to read.

Overall, as a relative neophyte when it comes to Druidry, (I have attended several workshop presented by Isaac Bonewits, who wrote the forward for this book) I found the book to be hard going and somewhat difficult to follow in places. I do not have any problems with the facts as presented, given the amount of research and experience the author has accumulated over the years spent in Ireland studying the Druidic culture and history, however the prose themselves are for the most part very dry reading. I feel a serious seeker of Druidic ways and knowledge will get a lot out of this book, but for someone like myself, with only a passing familiarity of Druidry, the book’s knowledge wasn’t as accessible as I would have liked.

Sirens – SJ Tucker

Filed under: Music Reviews — magickware @ 12:32 pm

Sirens by SJ TuckerSJ Tucker has presented her fans with yet another quality release with this newest offering of Sirens (Autographed copies available from magickware.com). The music starts off with an accappella song called The Drowning, which wonderfully displays SJ’s strong voice and breadth of talent. Ms. Tucker once again wows her fans with strong story telling qualities in her music. Unlike other artists she avoids a formulaic style and surprises with an abundance of new rhythm and unusual composition. The fourth track on this CD is my new favorite. Cold Sunshine is unlike any of her other music. I put it on repeat while working on paintings one evening, and my husband, another SJ fan, asked who was singing.

This collection includes the Wendy Trilogy, a retelling of the Peter Pan story from Wendy’s point of view. Only, instead of the timid, good girl of traditional childhood stories, this Wendy is a strong and proud lady pirate. The trilogy comprises tracks 5 (Wendy on Board), 8 (Red-handed Jill) and 11 (Green-eyed Sue/Sue’s Jig), leaving the listener on edge waiting for the saga’s chapters to roll around in between the other musical offerings. There are a total of 14 tracks with well over an hour’s worth of music.

The only thing I found lacking in this CD were the frequently funny comments and tales that SJ includes during her live shows. Not only is she a highly accomplished songwriter and performer, she is also a talented comedian and storyteller. Now, if I can only regain possession of my copy of Sirens. My daughter, a huge fan of SJ’s, has absconded with it. What’s a mother to do?

November 1, 2006

Ritual Craft by Amber K and Azrael Arynn K

Filed under: Book Reviews — magickware @ 4:11 am

Ritual Craft RitualCraft: Creating Rites for Transformation and Celebration

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