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Title - "The Holy Book of Women's Mysteries"
Author - Zsuzsanna Budapest
I wanted to like this book. I really did. This book helped found the tradition of Dianic witchcraft. I, therefore, expected a certain amount of man-bashing feminism but, hell, I could cope with that. I didn't expect the torrent of nonsense that spewed forth from its pages. The book describes Feminist Witchcraft and Feminist Goddess Sprituality. It is separatist feminism which is described and there is little or no attempt to find a place for men within it. Apparently she is opposed to teaching the craft to men until the equality of the sexes is realised (so, she hopes to achieve equality by establishing first another inequality) although she does now do "'Pan' workshops with men who have changed themselves into brothers," whatever that means. One of my major problems with it is its appallingly bad history. It would seem that if one calls it 'herstory' it's alright to write a load of rubbish and pass it off as history. I'm not just talking about the old 'myth of matriarchy' stuff which doesn't bother me that much as it can be accepted as having an element of truth in light of recent archaeological work in southern Russia which has uncovered some compelling evidence of the real Amazons who appeared to be, at least for a couple of hundred years or so, matriarchal. Failing that, it can be seen as an inspiring mythic history. Z describes this society at length with no boring old historical facts to hold her back. Did you know that rape was 'invented' by men who had been exiled from matriarchal societies and formed 'patriarchal hordes'? I didn't. Also, according to Z, Alexander (the Great, to you and me, "the Pig" to Z) burned down the great matriarchal library in Alexandria. If that were true he really did deserve to be called 'the Great' as he founded Alexandra (cunningly disguising that fact by naming the city after himself, clever, eh?) and there, strangely enough, was no library on the site. Well done Alex! There is also the problem of 'damn, I'd better say something about that God bloke.' In a book of some three hundred pages, the God gets a whopping two pages, followed by some guff about 'sacred sons.' I think that I would have had more respect for her if she had just ignored Him altogether than stick in a cursory nod in His direction. The book, in creating a particular type of witchcraft, also seems to have created the 'cult of Z'. The book is dedicated to herself, amongst others; she's so great. The followers of this cult have also decided that to criticise the book or its author is to commit blasphemy. I know, I've done it. She doesn't like it and makes the excuse that the book is nearly thirty years old. I feel safe in saying that thirty years ago, historians knew that Alexander the Great founded Alexandria, witches worshipped a god or gods as well as a goddess and that bad scholarship was not excused by shouting 'I'm a feminist'. One expects extremism in a movement such as Feminist Spirituality's origins which then levels out to a more practical, rational view. I thought that perhaps an edition published when the movement was better established would attempt to redress some of its more extreme ideas (just as Starhawk has done with the 10th and 20th anniversary editions of "The Spiral Dance" although it was never as extreme as this). Not so, Ms. Budapest. Despite all this, I am still hesitant to say "never, never read this book" because it was (and still is) so influential. I would suggest that you do your best, if you do want to read it out of curiosity, attempt to borrow it because you may regret paying for it (and thus funding it) as I know I do.
The book includes in each section several projects, suggested resources (although these are for the USA not the UK), suggested sources for alternative patterns and a reading list. I particularly found Chapter One - Spellwork and Needlecraft: A Basic Primer and Chapter Two - Magical Sewing: Assembling the Magic to be of interest. This interested stemmed not just as a witch interested in ritual but as a stitcher interested in the patterns, meanings and the general 'magic' behind creating something with my own hands. As Dorothy said "The Ancients flipped a switch and the cosmic lights came on " and so they did. I began to understand the creative flows in my life and the lives of generations of women before me who turned to needlecraft of many sorts to create quilts for their beds, curtains for the windows and clothes for their families. These same women were accomplished with the needle not just out of interest but out of necessity as they had to keep busy during long trips in covered wagons and because in many places it was too remote from others to visit on a daily basis.
Chapter one Spellwork and Needlecraft: A Basic Primer is just that - a basic primer for the beginner witch and serves as a reminder for the more experienced practitioner. Dorothy includes timing of spellcasting, creating a magical atmosphere, preparation and consecration of tools and cleanings the materials to be used. She also explains use of colour, the medium (that is embroidery, knitting, quilting, etc) and the symbology behind the different projects.
Chapter two Magical Sewing: Assembling the Magic explains why you should let fabric choose you, the energy of fabrics, the place of a sewing machine in magical needlework, and giving that magic touch to everyday 'mundane' items. The chapter starts off with some anecdotes about the superstition and folklore of needlework including a very practical explanation for the following saying. "See a pin and pick it up, and all the day you'll have good luck, See a pin and let it lie, before the evening you will cry!" And how many times have you stepped on a needle or pin that has been left on a floor?
Other chapters cover the 'magical meanings' of well-known and fairly basic patchwork and quilting patterns, embroidery stitches, crochet and knitting stitches and patterns. There are also chapters on dyeing, spinning and weaving; magical dates and deities and also some magical alphabets and symbols to stitch onto your next altar cloth or ritual robe.
I would recommend this book to any pagan who is handy with a needle or who wishes to be. This book provides the inspiration and know-how for creating quilts, dolls and cross-stitch samplers not just for your person, altar or room but for others as well. My favourites are the BOS cover (pages 75-77), the 'Blessed Be' sampler (pages 93-96) and the Goddess pattern (pages 106-108). I have already stitched and blessed a runic tag for my husband when he first ventured out on some long-distance cycle rides. We planned which symbols and colours were appropriate and I stitched the runes onto some cloth all the while saying a 'prayer' to the goddess to protect him from harm and to provide him with power and speed.
- this could be hazardous to your pocket and your social life, as these
crafts can become addictive! Now to get on with all those projects which
have been planned and are piling up.
Title:- Maat Magick
I want to have this book's babies and I don't care if I am a man. It's the bee's knees and the wasp's elbows. I'll try to calm down and explain. This book outlines a system of High Magick; magick aimed at exalting the magician to a higher spiritual level (next stop - Nirvana!) Traditional High Magick was systemised in Victorian/Edwardian times by mainly a load of blokes looking into the past to reconstruct the ancient systems of initiation. 'Maat Magick' has been formulated by a contemporary Priestess who knows modern art, science, thinking and attitudes. The difference in approach can be illustrated by comparing them to different schools:- the traditional High Magick approach resembles a public school (Eton, Harrow) which is formalized with a fixed curriculum and activities whilst the 'Maat Magick' approach resembles a progressive school ( Rudolph Steiner, Summerfield) which is more relaxed, has more freedom and is much more fun. Note that in either case you still receive a good education. 'Maat Magick' is based on Thelemic magick but this system is literally a new revelation. Of necessity, it covers the same territory but Nema's approach is more streamlined, her explanations more rooted in contemporary thought and culture rather than obscure occult lore. At the same time, working with this current of magick is more wide ranging. It can cover everything so you can decide to take a break from heavy ritual work and go off and explore Runes or Voodoo for example without feeling as though you are, somehow, skiving. It is all grist to the mill, after all. I would heartily recommend this book to anyone, especially those who are intrigued by the aims and wealth of practices that High Magick encompasses but are put off by the traditional approach.
Title:- Condensed Chaos
Author:- Phil Hine
My copy of this book is tatty and dog-eared, it's been read so much. The Chaos approach to magick tends towards examining thoroughly the way magick is done; keeping the best and ditching the rest. In a field of endeavor with more rules and formality than the State Opening of Parliament, it's a wonder that this approach is still comparatively new. 'Condensed Chaos' is playful, iconoclastic, witty, down to earth. practical and inspiring in a way that few books on magick are. Even if you don't wish to practice the system, it's worth buying for the wealth of ideas and approaches it has and to remind yourself that magick can and should be an interesting, inspiring and fun activity not a daily chore.
Title:- Teen Witch
This 'Teen Witch' book is, Imust say, one of the best wicca books I have read. It inspired me to go on with my wicca. Since I am only 13 years of age, I do not have much experience but this book feels like she is your friend and is helping you find your self. With each spell and chapter there is a small story.(a heart warming story) which I must say I enjoyed. Silver teachs you not only about spells but about being your self (being a wiccan).She lets you know the beleifs and not just the cool spells. This book is for any teen who wants to get off their feet and go forth into the wiccan world......
This book may sound a bit indigestible - a manual on Rune Magick written by a German bloke- but its actually one of the best books on rune magick I've read. Hell, it's one of the best books I've read, period. For those new to this, the Runes are a sacred alphabet, which can be used in divination, magic and range of other techniques. The word Rune translates as "Mystery". They are a major part of what is sometimes called the Northern Tradition, the ancient Magickal Practices and Spiritual Traditions of Northern Europe. I think that Rune Magick, especially as presented in this book, has unique feel to it. I have rarely come across a system that makes you feel that you are starting to get to grips with it from day one, and that you can keep learning from indefinitely. It is neither too simple nor too intellectual and doesn't necessarily come along with a ton of ideological baggage. It is also very adaptable, so you get to try a good range of techniques. Jan Fries often writes with a sly sense of humour and a streak of good sense. His writing contains an infectious energy, which actually makes you want to get off your backside and do something (not a feeling I experience very often, believe me). His instructions on performing the techniques of his magical system are some of the most user friendly I have seen in any book. The system of Rune Magick he presents is quite shamanic in feel, so you are not required to obtain a full temple setup to start working. This system does involve a bit of rune yoga, so you can get to make strange shapes with your arms whilst making weird noises. This tends to happen in magical ritual at the best of times, but I think rune yoga is more fun. Many other techniques and exercises are also discussed (meditation, divination, sorcery etc.) This book is quite scholarly in parts but never in an overbearing way. It's also a bit more freeform than many books, encouraging you to keep working away at things yourself and to make your own judgements. Because of that, if you are new to this you may prefer a more structured approach. On the other hand, this is a reasonably easy book to work from and you may prefer to give a more freestyle approach a go. In any case it's a book you may wish to own, even if you are not particularly interested the runes, as books on magick rarely get this good.
Title:- Call Of The Horned Piper
Author:- Nigel Jackson
Quite simply, the most intriguing and inspiring book on witchcraft that I have read. This book is one of the few which outline a strand of the craft with a separate lineage to Gardiner and Sanders. Whilst sharing many of the basic features of Wicca, this feels miles away from most modern books on the subject. The author not only presents a very workable system but his exploration of archaic European folk beliefs is fascinating. Finally the illustrations by the author are excellent.
Title:- Triumph Of The Moon
Author:- Ronald Hutton
Why spend £25 on a history of Witchcraft when you have read it all before right? Well, no...not really... you have not read it like this. Tracing British attitudes to Paganism, Magick and Witchcraft from the 18th century through Gerald Gardiner, Alex Sanders and others right up to the present, this is a very comprehensive history. The author, a trained historian, has a genuine sympathy with his subject but does much to debunk the myths surrounding the modern emergence of Witchcraft. A state of the art history and damned readable too.
Title:-Liber Null and Psychonaut
Author:- Peter J. Carroll
These books, bound together in one volume, are Classics in the genre of Chaos Magic. The author, Pete Carroll, is credited as one of the most important figures in the formation of this method of working. A slight historical detour is needed to explain the role and importance of chaos magic. The mainstay of the Western magical tradition today is the system used by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn . This system essentially includes almost everything these Victorian magicians could lay their hands on - it's a vast amalgam of cabala, Egyptian rites, freemasonry etc, all put together in a highly structured way. Aleister Crowley based his own system on it and it continues on to this day. This is great in theory but by the 1970's the interpretation put on this system had become so hidebound that people had arguably dropped the magic altogether. The emphasis seemed to be on self psychoanalysis and spiritual development rather than anything, well, interesting . The Chaos approach, as laid out in these books, was to put a different emphasis on the process of doing magic. Not content to gently drift in rarified psychic spaces, the chaos magician was expected to produce results in the real world (all terribly unspiritual!). Long winded and tedious rites were cut down to an minimum. Chaos threw out the mystical rulebook and described the processes of doing magic in simple and straightforward terms, with great emphasis on altered states of consciousness. The former (oh so) sacred mysteries that had been pampered and preened for so long were given industrial strength lyposuction and forced to go on a ten mile run. The result was leaner and meaner. Carrols worldview seems to be shot through with humor but if he sees anything nice or comforting about the world, he doesn't usually care to let it show. This is not a book which is gentle with its readers - I think the audience it is written for was already well versed in the theory and practice of magic. Some of the psychological exercises given would probably get you committed if you were to discuss them with a psychiatrist. This, presumably is all part of the fun. Even the first few pages of meditation type exercises baldly demand levels of effort which make you feel that perhaps you should leave aside this magic milarky and go off for a nice, gentle snooze . It is fascinating, however, to compare the coverage of magical methods in this book with the more traditional explanations - can they really be described that simply or treated in this way? Others have thought so. This book is not really a primer for those getting into magic, but is invaluable for the way it treats the subject.
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