Archive for the Book Review Category

My thoughts on Lon Milo DuQuette’s Allow Me to Introduce: An Insider’s Guide to the Occult

Posted in Book Review, Magick on February 4, 2020 by Occult Detective

allow me to introduceIt has been my utmost pleasure to immerse myself in Allow Me to Introduce: An Insider’s Guide to the Occult, the latest from Lon Milo DuQuette and Weiser Books. I enjoyed it so much, I read it twice before coming here to share it with you.

Released on the 1st of February, I received the book a few weeks beforehand, but life got in the way from me diving right in, and more’s the pity.

There’s a short but insightful Foreword by Brandy Williams (author of Practical Magic for Beginners) and an equally short Preface by the author.

What follows is a collection of Introductions Lon Milo DuQuette has written for dozens of books over the years, each and every one a treasure.

babalonDuQuette has one of those voices that is both comforting and erudite, while being filled with compassion, wisdom, and humor. He is self-depreciating in the most charming way, and DuQuette has the ability to make you feel that he is speaking to you alone, that you’re old friends, even as he is shining an illuminating light on the Western Mystery Traditions. It’s a gift that few have… probably because DuQuette is hogging all the best bits of it.

While I have read many of these Introductions before, there is nothing stale about them. And having them all collected together, in one place, is well worth the duplication, even if you possessed every book he’s been the harbinger of.

As for the book itself: I love the cover from a graphic design standpoint. The colors, fonts, and graphics are all brilliant. Inside you’ll find a comfortable typeface, easy on the eyes, which is becoming increasingly important to me.

There are a few typos. Nothing egregious, but they still pulled me out of my immersion. It happens, especially with dropped words. Spell-check doesn’t catch those. Believe me. I know all too well.

Look. It’s only February. Is this the best book you’re going to pick up this year? Probably. It’s worth every penny of the $19.95 cover price (and then some). If this book is not already on your bookshelf, it damn well should be.

Allow Me to Introduce: An Insider’s Guide to the Occult by Lon Milo DuQuette is available wherever books are sold, but as always, I recommend buying directly from the publisher (HERE) if you can. It helps to keep the publisher afloat and puts the most money in the author’s pocket. Always a good thing on both accounts.

Thoughts on A Modern Guide to Heathenry: Lore, Celebrations, and Mysteries of the Northern Traditions by Galina Krasskova

Posted in Book Review, Magick on December 16, 2019 by Occult Detective

I received a complimentary copy of A Modern Guide to Heathenry: Lore, Celebrations, and Mysteries of the Northern Traditions by Galina Krasskova from publisher Weiser Books.

Here’s how it’s described online, none of which I take issue with:

heathenryAn accessible yet in-depth guide to this increasingly popular pre-Christian religious tradition of Northern Europe

Heathenry, is one of the fastest growing polytheistic religious movements in the United States today. This book explores the cosmology, values, ethics, and rituals practiced by modern heathens.

In A Modern Guide to Heathenry readers will have the opportunity to explore the sacred stories of the various heathen gods like Odin, Frigga, Freya, and Thor and will be granted a look into the devotional practices of modern votaries. Blóts, the most common devotional rites, are examined in rich detail with examples given for personal use. Additionally, readers are introduced to the concept of wyrd, or fate, so integral to the heathen worldview.

Unlike many books on heathenry, this one is not denomination-specific, nor does it seek to overwhelm the reader with unfamiliar Anglo-Saxon or Norse terminology. For Pagans who wish to learn more about the Norse deities or those who are new to heathenry or who are simply interested in learning about this unique religion, A Modern Guide to Heathenry is the perfect introduction. Those who wish to deepen their own devotional practice will find this book helpful in their own work as well.

Now my thoughts:

I reviewed this book when it was originally published as Exploring the Northern Tradition back nearly a decade ago. I did not give it very high marks. Including UPG material in what I felt should have hewn to a more scholarly approach was one of my perceived transgressions, and I was not (and am not) overly fond of the author’s personal brand of heathenry. This colored my views, to be sure.

That said, giving it a fresh read, in a slightly revised edition, I am more accepting of the material, less protective, I suppose you could say.

The fact is, heathenry continues to evolve and grow. I accept that my own heathen beliefs are in the minority and I’m okay with that. All I can do is live my life and speak my words. Each man and woman will find their own path and the gods can take take care of themselves.

The simple truth is, there is value in this book, if you are new to heathenry. It is a fine introduction to modern perspectives on an ancient faith that is still clawing its way back to relevancy.

I can see in this book shadows of my faith, like reflections on a pool of water at night. I trust that those shadows are enough to call people to the gods, if their hearts and minds are open.

A great emphasis on ancestral worship is greatly appreciated as I see it as the most important aspect of the faith.

If you are unfamiliar with heathenry, then I recommend this book to you. Here, the door is opened, just a crack, for you to glimpse the faith in all its glory. This book can be a stepping stone for you, out an across still, moonlit waters, where the gods lurk in the shadowy recesses, calling you home.

My thoughts on Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult (New and Expanded Edition)

Posted in Book Review, Magick on December 5, 2019 by Occult Detective

ualevendaIn June of 1979, Peter Levenda flew to Chile―then under martial law―to investigate claims that a mysterious colony and torture center in the Andes Mountains held a key to the relationship between Nazi ideology and its post-war survival on the one hand, and occult ideas and practices on the other. He was detained there briefly and released with a warning: “You are not welcome in this country.” The people who warned him were not Chileans but Germans, not government officials but agents of the assassination network Operation Condor. They were also Nazis, providing a sanctuary for men like Josef Mengele, Hans-Ulrich Rudel, and Otto Skorzeny. In other words: ODESSA.

Published in 1995, Unholy Alliance was the first book in English on the subject of Nazi occultism to be based on the captured Nazi archives themselves, as well as on the author’s personal investigations and interviews, often conducted under dangerous conditions. The book attracted the attention of historians and journalists the world over and has been translated into six languages. A later edition boasts the famous foreword by Norman Mailer.

How did occultism come to play such an important role in the development of Nazi political ideology? What influence did such German and Austrian occult leaders as Lanz von Liebenfels and Guido von List have over the fledgling Nazi party? What was the Thule Gesellschaft, and who was its creator, Baron von Sebottendorf? Did the Nazi high command really believe in occultism? In astrology? In magic and reincarnation?

This is a new and expanded edition of the original text, with much additional information on the rise of extremist groups in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the United States and the esoteric beliefs that are at their foundations. It is the first book in a trilogy that includes Ratline and The Hitler Legacy. This is where it all began.

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I remember picking this book up in the mid-90s shortly after it was released. I was working at Waldenbooks at the time, seasonal help at Christmas. I’d been tasked with opening boxes in the back storeroom and as soon as I laid eyes on the Avon cover it went straight to the stock shelves where employees kept the stack of things they wanted to buy with their company discount. I took it home with me after my shift and read it straight through the night.

So, here we are, nearly twenty five years later, and I’ve just read the “New and Expanded Edition”. Firstly, Ibis Press continues to impress with their production and design skills. They put together beautiful books and Unholy Alliance is no exception.

As for the book itself, I’m not sure any of the added material is overly warranted, but it doesn’t detract from the original text. It is still a fascinating deep-dive into occult conspiracies and the Reich’s maddening obsessions.

I’ve always been rather fond of Levenda’s writing. For one, he’s a smart guy and one helluva researcher, and it often seems like there’s so much information bouncing around inside his head he has a hard time staying focused. It reminds me of nearly every occult study group I’ve belonged to. There’s always that one guy, too smart for his own good, talking a mile a minute, trying to get all of his thoughts out there.

You’re also never really sure when he’s pulling your leg a bit.

I used to recommend Unholy Alliance unconditionally and I am more than happy to do so again. It’s a subject entirely engrossing and Levenda leaves no stone unturned. I’ve read his complete trilogy now and they are all compelling reads that I endorse fully.

Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult (New and Expanded Edition) by Peter Levenda is available wherever books are sold. Here’s the link to the evil empire wherein it can be purchased with grace and ease, and possibly delivered from the sky by drones.

My thoughts on The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might by Courtney Weber

Posted in Book Review, Magick on October 21, 2019 by Occult Detective

31 day blog challenge

weberIn what is Courtney Weber’s best book to date, we are taken on a fascinating journey into the realm of the Mare Queen, the Morrigan.

Celtic Mythology is a tangled web, and no holy power more so than she who is sometimes called the Phantom Queen. Oft misunderstood, and the subject of much debate among scholars, linguists, and esotericists, the Morrigan is largely a mystery.

Was she a single goddess, or three sisters? The Morrigan is the foreteller of death, who watches over the battlefield with foresight, often inciting bloodlust in warriors and aiding them in victory. The Morrigan encourages bravery, preys on the fears of her champions’ enemies, and is said to wash the bloodstained clothes of those whose death is fated.

The Morrigan bears many names and wears as many faces. She is a harbinger of death and a protector of life.

In Weber’s latest work, The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might, the author mirrors the complexities of the Goddess by delivering a book difficult to pin down. It is equal parts academic and practical, as Weber combines historical research with her personal gnosis and the application of both research and discovery into practice.

I found the book to be thought-provoking and insightful. Weber weaves gracefully between foundational research and speculative conflation to produce a work that is alternatively prose, poetry, and pedantic.

morrigan

There is depth to the narrative within these pages that will inspire you to greater study and to seek a personal connection with the goddess herself in all her many guises.

Weber brings them all to life, drawing the reader along and making them a part of the journey.

This is a book perfect for beginners, but there are plenty of insights for those of us longer of tooth.

The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might by Courtney Weber is highly recommended and available wherever books are sold. And at just over $12 on Amazon, an absolute steal.

 

My thoughts on Lost Teachings of the Runes: Northern Mysteries & the Wheel of Life by Ingrid Kincaid

Posted in Book Review, Magick with tags , , , , on October 17, 2019 by Occult Detective

31 day blog challenge

I have had the pleasure (and I do mean pleasure) of reading Ingrid Kincaid’s Lost Teachings of the Runes. Before I delve into my thoughts on the book, here is Weiser Books description:

Lost Teachings of the Runes is an unexpected adventure into the hidden meanings and profound lessons held in these simple markings that are the signatures of ancient beings.

kincaid runesLost Teachings of the Runes invites the reader to journey to the realms of past and future that exist hidden beyond the horizon and beneath our feet. Using an engaging blend of stories, meditations, and ancestral knowing, author Ingrid Kincaid explores Northern Mysteries from the center of the Wheel of Life. Kincaid demonstrates ways the Wheel can be used to connect ancient wisdom with modern life, and offers tools and teachings that may be used on a daily basis to enable readers to reclaim their personal power. Lost Teachings of the Runes presents a life-affirming, death-honoring approach that returns the runes to a place of balance, to light and dark, to order and chaos, and to the roots and branches of the world tree.

kincaidKnown as the Rune Woman, Ingrid Kincaid is an author, educator and workshop facilitator with over 45 years of experience. She is a staff-carrying wise woman in the Old Norse tradition and her connection with the runes is ancestral. Ingrid teaches throughout the United States and Europe. Visit her at http://www.ingridkincaid.com.

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I was quite surprised by Lost Teachings. I was expecting this to be another modern examination of the runes with that New Age slant you so often get these days, but instead a discovered a very vibrant and thoughtful poetic journey that mirrored for me how the runes are alive and a visceral part of religious experience.

I felt very connected to the author’s word, in a way that’s difficult to explain, and I think it’s because they speak on many levels, the most important being to that deeper, primordial essence that connects us to our Northern European forebearers.

There is true magic of the north within these pages. You will feel them echo in your bones. She writes, as the book closes, “Sometimes all that needs to change are the meanings we attach to the stories we tell.” Very insightful and true.

Lost Teachings of the Runes is a journey. I am reminded of the guided meditations I used to take part in back in the late 80s, when the world was still fresh to me and I had so many questions (and yet thought I had all the answers). Lost Teachings led me to that long ago place and connected it with an even greater expanse, back to my ancestors, and made me feel at peace.

These words came to me just as I needed them.

I obviously recommend this book to all seekers of knowledge and understanding. One need not be a practitioner of a northern faith to gain insight and benefit from the lessons here.

You can find Lost Teachings of the Runes: Northern Mysteries and the Wheel of Life by Ingrid Kincaid wherever books are sold, though I recommend one purchase directly from Weiser Books. The more money that finds its way into the publisher’s pocket ensures many more books from them in the future.

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wolfecroweMy next book, Descendant: A Novel of the Liber Monstrorum, will be available in trade paperback and ebook in just two weeks, dropping Hallowe’en, October 31, but you can preorder the kindle version right now via amazon.com.

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