Archive for the Book Review Category

Some quick thoughts on Welsh Witchcraft by Mhara Starling (2/22), now available for preorder

Posted in Book Review, Magick on December 1, 2021 by Occult Detective

The history of magic and witchcraft in Wales will inspire any modern-day witch. Written by a Welsh practitioner, this book shares the magical traditions of the land of the red dragon, exploring deities, fairies, folklore, charms, plants, and magic with dozens of exercises for hands-on practice.

Explore the history and terminology of Welsh magic and methods for honoring the land. Learn to connect with Cerridwen, Rhiannon, and other deities as well as fairies and mystical creatures. Discover how you can incorporate traditional Welsh folk magic into your modern witchcraft practice, with exercises for honoring those who came before, connecting with the spirit of your home, protecting against adversity and malignant spirits, changing the weather, and much more.

I get the feeling this is a book that a lot of readers new to witchcraft will find appealing. It’s got a scholarly air to it, especially to fresh faces, seemingly steeped in lore that feels ancient, while written in a very modern voice by a very modern author.

The book is packed with information and is dense at times, like the author is desperate to get all these little bits of knowledge out there. It’s a tad breathless, but its heart is genuine. The exercises and meditations are solid and personal. Which is true of the book as a whole. This is Mhara Starling’s personal journey and she has invited the reader along, offering her experiences as guideposts along the way.

This is both a strength and a weakness.

I like the cover. Evocative and simple. And I like the book, overall. It’s like a DJ Conway book on steroids. You remember those. Well, you do if you’re of a certain age.

Look, I wanted a book on Welsh Witchcraft. This is not that. Not really. It’s Wicca wearing a Welsh Hallowe’en costume, but you know what, the older I get, the more I’m okay with that. There is a place for these types of occult books. They are ideal for young people finding their way. I know I sure read a lot of them in the 80s. Right?

So, do I recommend Mhara Starling’s Welsh Witchcraft? Certainly. It is not for the seasoned student, nor for someone longing for a deep rooted connection to an ancient lore system. But it’s fun, informative, and there’s bits and pieces that you’ll find quite useful.

These sort of primers in cultural dress are a part of the scene. They sell. They’re safe.

Welsh Witchcraft: A Guide to the Spirits, Lore, and Magic of Wales by Mhara Starling will be available in February, wherever books are sold. It’s available for preorder right now, for less than 20 bones.

Lloniannau!

#Norsevember: Loki & Sigyn by Lea Svendsen (Available for Pre-Order)

Posted in Book Review, Norsevember on November 10, 2021 by Occult Detective

This captivating book takes you deep into the infamous legacy of Loki and his wife Sigyn. As a controversial and misunderstood figure in Heathenry, Loki is often approached with trepidation. But this book introduces you to his true self: a trickster, but a devoted husband and creative problem-solver, too. You’ll also learn about Sigyn, the often forgotten goddess of loyalty and compassion.

Join Heathen author Lea Svendsen on a rich exploration of these two Norse deities, together and separate. Discover their adventures in parenthood, their complicated relationships with other gods, and the entertaining exploits that only a trickster can accomplish. Learn how to set up an altar to each of them, what offerings they like, and how to perform rituals. You’ll also find insights on Loki and Sigyn from Pagan and Heathen leaders.

In February, 2022, Llewellyn will release Lea Svendsen’s Loki and Sigyn: Lessons on Chaos, Laughter & Loyalty from the Norse Gods. I received an Uncorrected Proof from the publisher a few weeks back, and I am happy to, finally, be able to release my thoughts on it. I’ve had some definite ups and downs of late, battling various infections from a cocktail of anti-and probiotics, and while still not over the proverbial hump, I didn’t want to put this off any longer.

The short of it is, this is a book you’ll want to digest, particularly if you are a heathen leaning pagan, although there is plenty in this book for anyone with a perchance for magick. I was, admittedly, unfamiliar with the author so cannot verify the authenticity of her biography, but it is certainly colorful.

The fact is, any book that deals with heathenry is fraught with peril. So very little of the culture has survived to modern times, and much of what is available to us has been tainted by Christian hands. Loki in particular.

The author does an admirable job of navigating these tumultuous waters. Where scholarship fails us, she intuits Loki and Sigyn’s roles. Svendsen’s relationship with the gods, and with Loki and Sigyn in particular, is front and center. She does not shy away from her attempts to connect and understand beyond what little academia has been able to bring to the table.

Her writing style is comfortable and relaxed. She writes with confidence, but in a very folksy way that comes across less of a teacher/student interaction, but more like a helpful neighbor. This, I think, is a strength in this particular work, where so little is known and in need of reconstruction with but the barest of bones to work with.

The book is short, but covers a wide breadth, from Lore to an exploration of American Heathenry and how conversion baggage lingers. You’ll also find chapters on clergy, rituals, and the like, all thoughtful (and largely speculative), but with a passionate air that defines the uncharted territory that we have been forced into due to the desecration of our ancestral faith.

I am waning. The medicines are taking their toll on me, so let me, in summation, acknowledge that I found Lea Svendsen’s work a valuable asset. And while I do not agree with her, whole-cloth, in terms of her interpretation of Loki, and to a lesser degree, Sigyn, I do appreciate her devotion and forthrightness.

Loki is a complex character, as tricksters tend to be. For a culture built on storytelling, how could he be anything less than everything to the skald’s who spin their yarns with him at the story’s core.

Loki and Sigyn: Lessons on Chaos, Laughter & Loyalty from the Norse Gods by Lea Svendsen is available for preorder for only $16.99, well worth the price of admission. It includes are Foreword by Mortellus, author of Do I Have to Wear Black?: Rituals, Customs & Funerary Etiquette for Modern Pagans which is an added bonus.

While I felt the book had its faults, I was honored to read it… and I think you will too.

#OCCULTOBER: My thoughts on Winterseer Animal Oracle by Siolo Thompson (@LlewellynBooks)

Posted in Book Review, Tarot on October 19, 2021 by Occult Detective

Gain the Wisdom of Long-Revered Creatures
from the Northern Climes

Experience Celtic and Norse lore in a brand-new way with this exquisite oracle deck. Winterseer Animal Oracle shows you how to deepen your divination practice through the wisdom of fifty-six marvelous creatures native to northern climates, from salmon and magpie to badger and bear. Featuring Siolo Thompson’s impressive watercolor illustrations, these cards bolster your readings with their stunning details, and the accompanying guidebook uses the mythology of bygone days to inspire your modern life.

I am simply in love with Siolo Thompson’s art and in Winterseer you get what I feel is some of her best work. Each of the 56 cards are lovingly crafted, with a wide variety of Northern European animal life that are emblazoned with an appropriate keyword. Within moments, without reading a single word from the nearly 200 page accompanying guidebook, I could easily intuit how this deck would work as an oracle tool. The cards, in and of themselves, are just a brilliant example of the fusion of art and magic.

As a complete package, I must commend Llewellyn. It’s a wonderfully constructed product, with a beautiful magnetic box that holds the guide and cards. This thing is a marvel. The printing is exquisite, with the rich, deep watercolors dripping off of card and page. The manual is gloriously glossy and easy to read…

Siolo’s writing is as soothing and inspiring as her art. The introduction is lilting and the direction concise and flawless. The focus is more on a gentle nudge toward divination, allowing for one’s own interpretation and sense of storytelling. I love this. The card descriptions are thorough and poetic and just simply lovely.

As a Heathen, this deck immediately spoke to me. Without question, I will visit it often, especially in the winter months. Having spent several days with it, I fell into Winterseer‘s charms quite easily. In no time, I developed a rhythm and narratives began to flow as I practiced one and three card spreads. I am experimenting with a nine card spread, embracing that number sacred to heathenry, and I think this is the path I will take with them.

That’s the wondrous thing about the versatility of the deck. The keywords are profound, the artwork compelling and thought-provoking… It allows the reader to develop their own chronicle with Winterseer as a guide and tool.

Beyond its value as an oracle, I can also see a veritable treasure trove of other uses, in writing fiction and interactive storytelling.

At less than $30 US, Winterseer Animal Oracle by Siolo Thompson is the deal of a lifetime. If you have not yet purchased it, make haste. You want this deck. You need this deck. Trust me, I believe you’ll fall in love with it every bit as much as I have. Recommended? Oh, without hesitation. Available at your favorite bookstores and online outlets. Here’s an Amazon link for good measure.

#OCCULTOBER: The Magic of Tarot by Sasha Graham (@SashaGraham / @LlewellynBooks)

Posted in Book Review, Occultober, Tarot on October 12, 2021 by Occult Detective

I have read a lot of books on Tarot and I own dozens of decks. I’ve been studying and reading Tarot for more than forty years now. When a book like Sasha Graham’s The Magic of Tarot comes along, I am beyond thankful. To deliver something fresh and exciting in the sphere of Tarot is no easy feat. Graham has more than succeeded in this task. What a terrific journey she took me on… I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough.

The author begins by addressing something that I have held near and dear to my heart, something that is at the very core of my being. Allow me to quote from the Introduction —

“Tarot is storytelling. It’s what we do when we read the cards. Telling stories imbues us with supernatural power — the power to change your story.”

This. All of this. Nothing could be more true, especially if not confined to Tarot. Magic, with or without the ‘K’, is about storytelling. Plain and simple. I have been preaching this for years.

Sasha Graham gets this and it shows throughout The Magic of Tarot. Before I dive deeper, let’s see what the publisher had to say about the book:

Bring Enchantment and Luminous Energy into Your Readings

Tarot is more than a card trick. It’s a chance to empower your intuition, dive into your dreams, and get to the heart of the matter. The Magic of Tarot is a fantastic guide to creating your own marvelous and magical practice. With her irresistible charm and straightforward guidance, Sasha Graham shows you how to craft a divine, sparkling destiny using spreads, exercises, spells, and prompts.

The Magic of Tarot opens your eyes to a richer, more enlightened style of divination. Sasha encourages you to flex your intuitive muscles, confidently use tarot magic and rituals, and perform readings for other people. She also walks you through every card meaning, introduces you to dream and shadow work, helps you interpret colors, numbers, and patterns, and so much more. This book lets you fearlessly jump in and enjoy magical experiences that you’ll never forget.

This is an ideal book for beginning Tarot students. Graham delves into the heart of the practice over the course of its 360 pages, and she delivers wondrous insights as she takes the reader on a complete and intimate tour of all facets of Tarot methodology.

Not only is a detailed description of each card presented, but Graham covers rituals and spells, dream and shadow work, and a wealth of various interpretations all enhanced by a focus on developing your intuitive and storytelling powers.

For those of you who, like me, have been at this for a number of years, you’ll feel comfortable with the author’s expressiveness and forthright narrative. Graham offers fresh new ways at looking at things, particularly in regard to spell and shadow work. There are some intriguing ideas that I am eager to experiment with.

One of the more enchanting things about the book was the author’s bio, written as a Tarot card description. Clever.

As for the book design, it’s more than adequate. It utilizes Pixie’s Waite Tarot illustrations throughout. Further artwork is spartan, but the diagrams of card layouts are easy to follow for the novice. While there is no flash in the design, this was probably on purpose. The prose itself is flashy enough.

I love the cover art by Abigail Larson and wish she could have contributed to the interior as well to add more symmetry. I adore her work.

The Magic of Tarot: Your Guide to Intuitive Readings, Rituals, and Spells by Sasha Graham is a tremendous value at less than $20. Available wherever books are sold, I highly recommend you purchase directly from the publisher, Llewellyn, or from your local booksellers. We need healthy publishers and bookstores. Where we spend our money matters.

#OCCULTOBER: The Sacred Herbs of Samhain by Ellen Evert Hopman

Posted in Book Review, Occultober on October 4, 2021 by Occult Detective

I had the pleasure of reading Ellen Evert Hopman’s The Sacred Herbs of Samhain: Plants to Contact the Spirits of the Dead. Here’s what the publisher had to say about it —

A practical guide to using the sacred herbs of Samhain for healing, divination, purification, protection, magic, and as tools for contacting the Spirits

• Explores the identification, harvest, and safe practical and ritual use of more than 70 plants and trees sacred to the Celtic festival of Samhain, the origin of Halloween

• Details the most effective plants for protection from the mischief of Fairies, herbs for releasing the Dead, and visionary plants for divination and shamanic work

• Provides instructions and suggestions for a traditional Dumb Supper, offerings to the Land Spirits, Samhain rites, and recipes for the sacred foods of Samhain

The ancient Celts separated the year into two halves, the light half and the dark half, summer and winter. The festival of Samhain, from which the modern holiday of Halloween originates, marks the transition from summer to winter, the end of the Celtic year, a time when the barriers between the physical and spiritual world are at their most transparent. The herbs most characteristic of this time have specific magical and healing properties that echo the darker aspect of the year and offer potent opportunities for divination, contact with ancestors and Land Spirits, and journeys in the Otherworld.

Presenting a practical guide to the sacred herbs and trees of Samhain, Ellen Evert Hopman details the identification, harvest, and use of more than 70 plants and trees in healing, divination, purification, magic, and as tools for contacting the Spirits wandering the landscape at this liminal time of year. She explores the most effective plants for protection from the mischief of the “Good Neighbors,” the Sidhe or Fairies, as well as herbs for releasing the Dead when they are trapped on this plane. Identifying visionary plants used to induce ecstatic trance, Hopman explores how herbs have been used for millennia to aid in psychic travel and shamanic work and shows how one might safely use plants to take a voyage to the Otherworld. Drawing on her knowledge as a master herbalist, she also includes cautions to prevent harm and misidentification, along with advice on basic etiquette and common sense approaches to herb magic.

Detailing the history, rites, and traditions of Samhain, Hopman explains how to make an offering to the Land Spirits and provides instructions for the traditional Samhain ritual of the Dumb Supper, complete with recipes for the sacred foods of Samhain, such as Soul Cakes, Colcannon, Boxty bread, and dandelion wine. Woven throughout with mystical tales of folk, Fairy, and sacred herbs, this guide offers each of us practical and magical ways to connect with Nature, the plant kingdom, the Spirits that surround us, and the turning of the year.

REVIEW

This is exactly the book I was hoping to read as Samhain drew near. While I had certainly heard of the author, I had never read any of her work. That will now change. Ellen Evert Hopman writes with confidence and warmth, leaving no doubt of her sincerity and breadth of knowledge. She is in her element here as she takes the reader on a magical journey through the season, introducing the various plants and herbs to be used for salves, poultices, tinctures, homeopathic dilutions, and teas. Littered throughout are spells, charms, lore, and offerings that takes the reader from the printed word to actual work. All the information is gently delivered and it all feels very intuitive.

The book deserves a hardcover edition, which is the only fault I find. Lavishly illustrated, the book’s design is a treat in and of itself. The cover alone made me want to purchase the book, but as one should not judge it by such standards, let me assure you, the content is the real treasure here.

This a teacher’s guide, with Part One concentrating on those sacred plants to protect oneself and those which aide in communicating with spirits. Part Two is more whimsical, addressing edibles, rituals, and offerings.

This should be a part of every paranormal investigator’s tool kit and I learned a lot. I look forward to putting this new knowledge to the test in the coming weeks.

The Sacred Herbs of Samhain: Plants to Contact the Spirits of the Dead is a book that should have a home on the bookshelves of every serious student of Witchcraft, Magick, and Religion. Available wherever books are sold, I recommend ordering directly from the publisher, Destiny Books, to ensure we continue to get more titles such as this.

Three for Thursday? How about 10 #Occult Books that got me through the pandemic

Posted in Book Review, Magick on September 16, 2021 by Occult Detective

PAN-DEMIC READS EDITION

For today’s Three for Thursday, I thought I would make a list of the occult/spiritual books that were released during (or just before) the pandemic set in that have helped me get through it. Who knows, maybe you missed some of these and could use a little pick me up? Let’s face it, the pandemic is far from over. Best settle in with a good book and live inside your head a bit.

HONORABLE MENTION
The Dictionary of Demons:
Names of the Damned
Tenth Anniversary Edition
by Michelle Belanger

TEN
Angels & Archangels:
A Magician’s Guide
by Damien Echols

NINE
The Four Elements of the Wise:
Working with the Magickal Powers of
Earth, Air, Water, Fire
by Ivo Dominguez Jr

EIGHT
The Morrigan:
Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might
by Courtney Weber

SEVEN
Psychic Witch:
A Metaphysical Guide to
Meditation, Magick & Manifestation
by Mat Auryn

SIX
Elemental Witchcraft:
A Guide to Living a Magickal Life
Through the Elements
by Heron Michelle

FIVE
The Witch’s Path:
Advancing Your Craft at Every Level
by Thorn Mooney

FOUR
Lost Teachings of the Runes:
Northern Mysteries and the Wheel of Life
by Ingrid Kincaid

THREE
Beyond the North Wind:
The Fall and Rise of the Mystic North
by Christopher McIntosh

TWO
The Wanderer’s Havamal /
The Saga of the Volsungs
with The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok
by Jackson Crawford

ONE
Allow Me to Introduce:
An Insider’s Guide to the Occult
by Lon Milo DuQuette

Another Wyrd Wednesday: Preorder This Book Now — Elemental Witchcraft by Heron Michelle

Posted in Book Review, Magick on September 15, 2021 by Occult Detective

Following in the wake of the last two reviews, Elemental Witchcraft: A Guide to Living a Magickal Life Through the Elements by Heron Michelle is a breath of fresh air. Before I dive in, here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Elemental Witchcraft shares a wholly unique esoteric approach to developing partnerships with elemental allies and deities and ultimately merging with the Divine Mind. Author Heron Michelle provides dozens of rituals, meditations, spells, and journal reflections as you explore the principles of Hermeticism and the magick of the four classical elements―earth, air, fire, and water. On this journey, you will discover how the chakras and the magickal pentacle correspond to the five bodies: mental, emotional, will, physical, and spiritual. You will also explore how the astrological cycles and the wheel of the year relate to the elements and the witch’s tools as well as to the paths of power, truth, sovereignty, and completion. Opening the elemental gateways and developing relationship with the goddesses and gods can be profoundly transformative work―this book guides you through this subtle path as you learn to balance the magickal elements and construct your own astral temples at the crossroads of the Self.

Alright, first, go pre-order this book right now. You want it on your shelf. Trust me, there are ideas and thought processes that, while I might not swallow all of it, makes one think. And that is always a good thing. Heron Michelle is bringing something fresh an innovative to the game. That takes courage. And I like a lot of it.

Yes, it sort of leans toward that 21st Century psychobabble that generally turns me away from such, but the author’s presentation is sincere, honest, and intelligent. Her heart is in the right place, and her fresh perspective on magical practice will hopefully engender you to look at your own work and help you to express yourself in new and exciting ways.

There are some things I disagree with, such as her stance on entering and exiting magic circles, but even in this, when she warns against cutting through with an athame, her argument is presented reasonably. This is a woman that has explored her Craft and has made it a personal process outside of traditional auspices.

There are quite a number of exercises and spells throughout, and I would encourage you to take them to heart. You will enjoy the work she leads you through and find them comfortable and intuitive.

And that’s what I find so enthralling about Michelle’s Elemental Witchcraft and the Pentacle Path as she presents it, it’s comfortable. It feels warm and inviting. She writes with passion, but reservedly, like a teacher. This is easily one of my favorite esoteric reads of the past couple of years, what I’m calling Pandemic Must-Reads, falling just behind Thorn Mooney’s The Witch’s Path and just ahead of Mat Auryn’s Psychic Witch. I’ll be posting that list on Thursday, September 16.

Oh, and as for the book itself — just look at that cover. Gorgeous. You’ll also find the graphic design and layout equally pleasing, with smart, eligible fonts and chapter headings. The real kicker for me is the art. I adore the illustrations throughout, some by Heron Michelle herself, with other work by Llewellyn’s Art Department and Mickie Mueller.

So, there you have it. Elemental Witchcraft: A Guide to Living a Magickal Life Through the Elements by Heron Michelle. Pre-order it here and devour it this coming Yule. You won’t regret it.

Wyrd Wednesday: Book Reviews (Part I)

Posted in Book Review, Magick on September 15, 2021 by Occult Detective

Normally I post book reviews on Mánadagr, but man, this week has been a real bear. I lost a friend to cancer over the weekend, another friend announced on Monday that he has been placed in hospice and does not have much time left with us, and I was, in a word, distracted. That’s the thing about getting older — the longer in the tooth you get, the more people you have to say goodbye to. We comfort ourselves in the knowledge that we are eternal beings, enveloped by flesh and bone. Our soul and spirit, once released from this plane of matter, embark on new adventures throughout the multiverse — those dimensions that intersect with this material plane. This knowledge does little to alleviate the sadness. I feel deeply for their family and friends. It is an enduring cycle of grief that subsides only when we become the one grieved for.

Hm, maybe these thoughts would have been better suited for a Monday.

How about we look at not one, not two, but three books today? I’ll split these into two blog posts, with the main focus being on the second blog. The first, which you’re reading now, will cover two books, but, also, will not really be a review of either, but rather my gut impressions. To be fair, I ended up skim reading both in the end and neither will find a permanent home on my bookshelves.

Beginning with the lesser of the two, I read Rise of the Witch: Making Magick Happen Your Way by Whiskey Stevens and it was… not good. I don’t like to write bad reviews. I’d much rather lead you to a good book than to dissect a book that doesn’t work for me. Sort of the “if you’ve got nothing good to say” approach. This one, however, stuck in my proverbial craw a bit.

Here’s what the publisher had to say about it:

Rise, Witch, Rise

It’s time to claim your magical power and build a practice that is wholly yours―one that spiritually fulfills you and reveals your purpose. More than a how-to guide, Rise of the Witch is a deep exploration of the inner workings of witchcraft and your integral role in creating magick. Whiskey Stevens provides a comprehensive look at both the basics and more advanced topics, taking you from the history of the Craft to shadow work and everywhere in between.

Rise of the Witch teaches a wide variety of magickal skills, such as creating and casting spells, harnessing powerful energies, and making sacred space. Whiskey also empowers those who are hesitant to come out as witches or need to keep their practice secret. Packed with guidance on the elements, tarot, intuition, and more, this book helps you fully embrace your unique brand of magick.

Includes a foreword by Panda Bennett, creator of Stardust Soul Oracle and host of the YouTube series “Witch Hunt”.

Look, I don’t want to beat up on the author too much. That’s just not my thing, but there’s nothing new in this book. Nothing. It’s just a rehash of ideas by far better writers. There are no interesting takes, no fresh or interesting divergences or developments. There are no innovations.

She has chapters on initiation, tarot, shadow work, and more, but she never comes across as an authority. She’s comes across as young, inexperienced, and someone who is playing dress-up.

But that’s my two cents. I would not recommend it.

The second book, Paganism for Prisoners by Awyn Dawn is far better, while still falling a bit short. It has a terrific introduction by Christopher Penczak, which gave me high hopes for what was to follow. The thing is, there is almost a great book here. Like Rise of the Witch, it treads very common ground, but I felt the author lost focus.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

After being incarcerated for her struggles with drug addiction, author Awyn Dawn began to actively look for her spiritual side―and she found it in Paganism. By developing a profound relationship with the gods, Awyn gained greater clarity and a deep sense of peace. You can, too, with help from this empowering guide to starting and strengthening your spiritual practice.

Providing dozens of easy-to-use exercises, Paganism for Prisoners shows you how to embrace Pagan teachings and learn from deities, ancestors, and spirits. Explore the power of meditation, self-reflection, rituals, and devotions. Meet the gods and goddesses of Celtic, Norse, Greek, Roman, and other mythologies. You’ll also discover the power of the elements, the moon, the Wheel of the Year, and your own intuition. Through this book, you’ll manifest amazing change within yourself.

Her journey is amazing, and I am thrilled that magick helped her find her way, both in and out of prison and addiction, and if the book would have stayed in that lane, then I would have been shouting from the rooftops about it. Unfortunately, for me, it strayed too far from this premise.

I guess the crux of the matter lies in that I wanted so much more from this book. I wanted it to feel more personal. The author has a comfortable writing style. There are a lot of positives here that she can build from and I would certainly read something from her in the future.

While Paganism for Prisoners did not deliver for me personally, I do feel like there is an audience for this book and I hope it might work for you. Give it a look here.

My thoughts on A Cosmic Encounter by Stewart W. Bench, available soon from @LlewellynBooks

Posted in Book Review, Investigations on August 17, 2021 by Occult Detective

A Fascinating Firsthand Nuts & Bolts Analysis of the Grays

When an alien craft stalled Stewart Bench’s truck on a backcountry road, he tried his best to just forget about it. But then they came back and made it personal. In A Cosmic Encounter, for the first time, Stewart tells the incredible true story of being encountered and then abducted by aliens. As an engineer, Stewart uses his technical experience to describe the specifications of the alien craft, their technology, their communications, and their mission.

You will discover the details of the alien device implanted in his nose, the telepathic communication displayed by the aliens, and a wealth of information about the layout and operation of their vehicle and equipment. This is a highly detailed, close-up look at how aliens infiltrate our airspace and conduct experiments on humans―without any official acknowledgement―as well as the personal toll these encounters have on the abductees.

I was fascinated with UFOs as a child. To be fair, anything strange and unusual caught my attention: Bigfoot, the Lost City of Atlantis, Oak Island, the Bermuda Triangle, and the like. I don’t suppose things have changed much. I read mountains of UFO comics and magazines, pored over paperback books by Jacques Vallee, Frank Edwards, Irving Greenfield, Erich Von Daniken, Ralph Blum, George Adamski, and so many more, and I clipped articles from National Enquirer and other newsrags to keep track of all the unnatural phenomena out there I could. Man, the mid-seventies were a great time to be alive.

I’ve told the story, many times, of how several of friends and myself were allowed to test out of fifth grade math and were given a classroom in the attic of the old Converse High School Building to study UFO Phenomena. This would have been 1976. We had a huge rotating bulletin board with a map of the United States on one side and the world on the other that we stick pinned the hell out of with every UFO sighting we could uncover. We developed a theory and presented before the school. I even made money on the side by recording myself reading eyewitness accounts and selling them to my classmates.

All this to say, I am the audience for Stewart W. Bench’s A Cosmic Encounter: A True Story of an Alien Abduction. It is further subtitles: An Engineer’s Analysis of Extraterrestrials & Their Technology. Not only am I the audience, but with UFOs so prominent in the news, with government “revelations” making the rounds, this is the perfect time to immerse yourself in just this type of read.

As an eyewitness account and retelling, Bench’s tale is very personal and exacting. At times, it almost reads like a diary. It is sometimes sad, sometimes confusing, and you really feel for the man and his family, and the conclusion is a heartbreaker in many respects.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, Stewart Bench is no Bob Lazar. The engineering aspects, told in journeyman detail, all sounds very solid, and oddly mundane. It also doesn’t feel right to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Bench’s narrative is a little flat, a little too phlegmatic.

But it is a narrative worth inspection.

Did I come away from A Cosmic Encounter believing Stewart Bench? No. I’m sorry, I can’t say I was convinced. But there is a story there, and it’s one I valued reading. I saw a bit of myself in young Bench.

While I would not fall all over myself recommending A Cosmic Encounter by Stewart Bench, I do think it’s worth your time, especially if you’re interested in UFO Phenomena and Abduction narratives. The book drops September 8th, and it’s sure to cause a stir in the UFO/UAP Community. It will be available wherever books are sold. You can preorder through Amazon.

Magick Monday: Thoughts on @LlewellynBooks’ Ozark Folk Magic by Brandon Weston

Posted in Book Review, Magick on August 16, 2021 by Occult Detective

.:.

Discover the Healing Power of Plants and Prayers

Bring traditional methods of healing and magic into the modern world with this impressive book on Ozark folk magic. Providing lore, verbal charms, healing plants, herbal recipes, magical tools and alignments, and more, folk healer Brandon Weston sheds light on the region’s secretive culture and shows you how to heal both yourself and others.

Ozark Folk Magic invites you to experience the hillfolk’s magic through the eyes of an authentic practitioner. Learn how to optimize your healing work and spells according to the moon cycles, zodiac signs, and numerology. Explore medicinal uses for native Ozark plants,
instructions for healing magical illnesses, and how modern witches can feel at home with Ozark traditions. Combining personal stories and down-to-earth advice, this book makes it easy to incorporate Ozark folk magic into your practice.

Includes a foreword by Virginia Siegel, MA, folk arts coordinator at the University of Arkansas

While I was born in the hinterlands of the Hoosier State, my roots stretch back to the Ozarks. Both of my parents were born in Arkansas, as were their parents, and their parents before them. They came from towns like Poughkeepsie, Evening Shade, Batesville, Jonesboro, and the like. I spent my summers swimming in the Strawberry, hiking the foothills and backwoods (with the snakes, ticks and chiggers), and even, in my later years, tracked dogmen through the Ozarks. I had great-grandparents who still maintained stillhouses. They were all dirt poor. My dad was born in a dirt floor shack. My mom picked cotton, barefoot, until they moved north when she was a teen. I grew up on a farm here in Indiana, but the Ozarks were in the blood of my folk and they passed a lot of that on to me, especially the folk tales.

I guess that was a long winded way of saying that I was excited to read Brandon Weston’s Ozark Folk Magic: Plants, Prayers, & Healing. I’ll be honest with you, if you’re looking for traditional Ozark Folk Magic, such as found in Ozark Magic and Folklore by Randolph Vaughn, this may not be the book for you.

Vaughn’s book is a tougher read in many respects, but it captures that mountain spirit. As it should. It was written in 1947. I am lucky enough to own Isaac Bonewits personal dogeared copy, and it has been a cherished favorite.

That said, if, as I suspect you are, looking for a bit of that old school mountain magic that has been drug into the 21st Century, that blends the old and new because it’s a living tradition and not some stale and stagnate anthropology lecture.

Folk Magic is a living and breathing art by its very nature. Weston really grasps this and you see that evolution in his writing and exploration of those Ozark charms. I suppose most people are more familiar with that Appalachian flavor, but the magic of the Ozarks is every bit as potent and flavorful as anything you’ll find out east.

Settlers, bringing their folk ways with them from across the ocean and the wilds of these new lands, incorporated native lore along the way, and the indigenous peoples of the Ozarks, like the Caddo and Osage, were teachers before they were forcibly removed by the advance of American expansion.

Weston does an admirable job of dissecting the traditions, presenting them with reverence and with a respectful interpretation of yesterday, while bringing it forward, showing the evolution of it as a practice and an art.

I am really thrilled to have had a chance to immerse myself in this, and to see its growth. It’s comforting to know that traditions of my ancestors are alive and well, and in such good hands.

Ozark Folk Magic: Plants, Prayers, & Healing by Brandon Weston, released in January of this year, is available wherever books are sold. I recommend it highly.

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