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Naga Magick, by Denny Sargent

Reviewed by Jan Malique

Naga Magick is an interesting find on many levels. Denny Sargent has written an erudite and fascinating glimpse into a world at once mysterious and paradoxical.

Naga Magick began life as a research project which then blossomed into this book. As a practicing tantric and historian, Denny Sargent can speak with authority about these mysterious and powerful serpent entities who have been the object of veneration for millennia in India and other parts of Asia. Serpents as an archetype and reality arouse both fear and awe in humans, they haunt the depths of our subconscious and manifest in many areas of human culture; a relic, perhaps, of a primeval fear from our ancient past.

At the very centre of the mythos surrounding the naga is the natural world: a place vast, beautiful, and luminous. As such, nagas serve as the guardians and protectors, and are fittingly ancient beings instilled with great wisdom and unimaginable power. Tibetan Buddhists see them as healers of the land and waters, able to cleanse and purify all that has been despoiled, and maintain the natural world. If this natural world is to be sustained in a pure state for all beings to inhabit, the naga must be approached in all humility, prayers offered and rituals performed to ask for their help. Collaboration and respect is the name of the game here.

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Mediaeval Monsters, by Damien Kempf and Maria L. Gilbert

Reviewed by John Rimmer

The various monsters and mysterious creatures described in this book need not detain cryptozoologists using Brian Parson’s excellent guide to monster hunting that was recently reviewed in Magonia, as these mystery animals exist only in the pages of medieval manuscripts, mostly from the British Library.

But in mediaeval times monsters also lurked in the far places of the earth. Writers like Pliny the Elder described the creatures which dwelt just beyond the edge of the map. Quite literally in the case of the British Library’s Psalter World Map, where the edge of Africa is lined with a slide-show of the imagined inhabitants of the end of the world: headless men with faces on their chests, people with four eyes, one-legged men, and a race known as the Panotti with ears so large they used them as blankets on cold nights!

Although totally fictitious, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville was one of the most popular books of the fourteenth century, and Columbus even took a copy of it on his voyages. Mandeville describes ‘pygmies’ who had no mouth or tongue, just a hole through which they sucked in food through a pipe.

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Notes from the Apothecary: Mint

By Mabh Savage

[Snip] Mint has been used for culinary purposes throughout the history of many different cultures. It is used in Indian food to counter balance spiciness or add depth of flavour. It is used as a fresh, sharp flavour in numerous cocktails and soft beverages. Mint was an ingredient of many recipes mentioned in Apicius, the Roman collection of recipes probably compiled in the 4th century AD. Mint has also been found in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians, and it is thought they prized the herb very highly.

I love the fresh smell of mint in the kitchen. You only have to slightly bruise the leaves to be rewarded with an aroma that is cooling and satisfying at the same time. Mint is one of those flavours that works well with both sweet and savoury dishes, and also with both hot and cold. Mint ice cream is very popular, and the Mojito is one of the most common additions to any self-respecting cocktail menu. For cold, savoury uses of mint think about raita, the cooling sauce served with Indian food, or tzatziki, the Greek equivalent.

Mint jelly has been the condiment of choice for many lamb dishes for years, but it also works with chicken, fish and even vegetable dishes. Mint sauce is much easier to make than the jelly; it doesn’t last as long but it’s so yummy, that won’t matter much! Mint sauce is just fresh mint, sugar, vinegar and water. Some people blend it but I prefer to finely chop the mint for a more textured sauce. Experiment with it- everyone’s tastes are different!

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Visualization for People Who Have Trouble Visualizing

By Tess Whitehurst

Think you can’t visualize? Not true. When you crave something—say chocolate—you strongly sense chocolate in your mind. Perhaps you sense it through taste, texture, or appearance…even when that chocolate isn’t anywhere in sight. When you’re looking for your cell phone, you hold an image of that cell phone or perhaps a tactile sense of what it’s like to hold it, even when you’re not actually looking at it or holding it. And how, exactly, do you know your house from your neighbor’s house? From an inner vision of what it looks like (or a sense of its general location) that you carry around with you wherever you go, naturally.

See what I mean? Everyone can visualize, and everyone is literally doing so constantly. For magical purposes, we want to learn to channel this inherent ability in a way that helps us resonate with that which we want to manifest. Because everything is vibration and like attracts like, this helps us draw our intentions into our life experience and essentially create the life we desire.

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Reign of the Demonologists

The Diabolist Logic of Torture Trials in Early Modern Europe

By Max Dashu

After 1560 the witch-hunters’ reign of terror escalated precipitously all over Europe. [Larner, 22] Even in the far reaches of Russia, the sorcery-obsessed tsar Ivan IV was mounting witch trials under repressive new laws. From 1560 to 1700 the persecution would ravage most of the continent. It flamed and burned, sank to embers, flared again, and again; climaxing, it sagged, then sharply reasserted itself, and slowly, at long last, waned. The climax of torture-trials and burnings varied from country to country, even region to region. Throughout, the church-generated doctrine of satanism governed the witch-hunters’ war on women.

The conflict between Protestant and Catholic occasioned a brief lull in the persecution. Then came “a massive resumption of trials,” beginning in the newly Protestant regions. [Monter, c 91]

Lutherans and Calvinists incited witch burnings in Germany and Switzerland from the 1540s on. In the same period, a big upsurge of witch trials swept England and Scotland in the wake of royal witch Acts. The Catholic reformation stepped up its own persecutions, affecting Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy and Spain. In the Spanish-ruled Low Countries, emperor Philippe II made inquisitorial methods official in 1570, defining sorcery as lèse majesté divine: “treason against god.” [Muchembled, 22]

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The Revolt of Remembering

By Rhyd Wildermuth

When we tell the story of modern Paganism, we tell a history as we understand it. But all history is only selective memory, a collection of what we choose to remember or what we know to include. The sum total of humanity’s experience cannot be recollected except by the sum total of humanity.

History’s an exclusion, as much as it is a narrative, and tells us more what we think about ourselves now than what happened in the past. To recount the tale of myself to you would take my entire life, and that life is not yet over. I do not know what will grow from seeds planted decades before, how actions in my youth will unfold into the future. It’s all guesses, all suspicions, all hopes and fears.

To tell the history of a people is more difficult. What we choose not to remember or include matters just as much as what we recount, and this is even more true when we speak of a religion.

We’ve become self-conscious, apolegetic sometimes for our subversive ideas and uncommon beliefs. Gods and the Dead speak to me, but I do not always tell this to people. I practice magic, yet explaining to those unfamiliar with such things isn’t an easy task, nor one I’ve the tools to prove to the Disenchanted world.

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The Sun-Wheel and the Pentacle

By Ian Elliott

The two most prominent symbols in modern Witchcraft are the Sun-Wheel and the Pentacle. The Sun-Wheel is the quartered circle, while the Pentacle is the circled pentagram or five-pointed star. I want to consider the relationship between them.

The Sun-Wheel stands for many things. As the Wheel of the Year, it maps out the Sabbats. The four quarter-points of East, South, West and North stand for the minor Sabbats of Ostara, Litha, Mabon and Yule, respectively. These are the names used most widely in the Craft for the spring equinox, the summer solstice, the autumn equinox, and the winter solstice. The major Sabbats fall on the cross-quarter points: Imbolc on the northeastern point, Beltane on the southeastern point, Lammas or Lughnasadh on the southwestern point, and Samhain on the northwestern point.

Why are the major Sabbats aligned with the cross-quarters? The importance of these points can be seen when the Sun-Wheel is looked at as a dynamic symbol, mapping out cumulative processes that occur in cycles, such as learning and spiritual evolution. The quarters stand for the phases in any development: east for knowledge, south for will, west for daring, and north for silence. In the east we formulate our aim, in the south we put it into practice, in the west we carry it to fruition, and in the north we let it continue on an unconscious level. This being so, the cross-quarters are the points of transition between one phase and the next.

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The Egyptian God Serapis

By Edward Butler

(Sarapis) Serapis has presented a riddle for Egyptologists. His worship originated among the Ptolemies, the transplanted Macedonian dynasty that ruled Egypt from their capital at Alexandria in the wake of Egypt’s conquest by Alexander the Great, and was subsequently adopted and promoted by the emperors of Rome. But Serapis remained, paradoxically, an Egyptian God worshiped in the company of other Egyptian Gods from one end of the Roman Empire to the other, but almost entirely by non-Egyptians. As the consort of Isis, Serapis became a fixture of the international Isis cult. In this role, Serapis displaced Osiris for many foreign devotees. Serapis is depicted in fully Hellenistic style as a bearded, robust man enthroned with the sign of a modius, or grain measure, on his head. The grain measure symbolizes allotting the portion deserved. Serapis is a God of miracles, destiny, healing and the afterlife, often fused with the Greek God Zeus or the Roman God Jupiter, extending the notion of sovereignty to include dominion over fate. Occasionally, for reasons unknown, a bust of Serapis sits atop a colossal right foot. Serapis and Isis may also be depicted as two snakes.

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Why Pagan Books Cost So Much (Part 2 of 2)

By Sable Aradia

[Snip] Printing

Deciding how many copies to print is probably a publisher’s biggest (and most risky) business decision. Every copy is an investment, but the more copies you print, the cheaper they are to print per unit. Most Pagan books are relegated by necessity to a small print run because it’s a small market. My first print run for The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power was 5000 copies. Relatively speaking that’s a pretty large run for a first time Pagan author. By comparison most sci-fi pulp novels run about 10000 copies. Keep in mind that Weiser/Red Wheel, while one of the three largest metaphysical publishers in the world (one of which, Hay House, doesn’t do Pagan books,) is still small enough that I regularly chat with the head of the company.

Two hard-copy proofs of the book are sent to me as the author review. If there’s a “stop the press!” kind of emergency, now is the time to act, though that’s definitely the exception, not the rule.

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Where the White Stag Runs

Boundary And Transformation In Deer Myth

By Ari Berk

[Snip] At this time of the year, the deer venture often into our realm. Last night in my front yard, a herd of deer—thick and wooly–looking with their winter coats—were feeding on fallen rowan berries. This morning, their tracks could be seen making spirals in the snow around the base of the rowan tree and wandering off down the street, marking their path back to the woods. Though deer are certainly not rare (especially here in Michigan), their appearance brings the feeling of wilderness close, reminding me that we are only ever a few paces away from the forest, from the wild, from the edges of the living storied land.

As long as people have lived or hunted alongside the deer’s habitats, there have been stories: some of kindly creatures who become the wives of mortals; or of lost children changed into deer for a time, reminding their kin to honor the relationship with the Deer People, their close neighbors. And there are darker tales, recalling strange journeys into the Otherworld, abductions, and dangerous transformations that don’t end well at all. But all stories about the deer share some common ground by showing us that the line between our world and theirs is very thin indeed.

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