Archive for the Book Review Category

My thoughts on @BruteNorse’s Love Spells & Erotic Sorcery in Norwegian Folk Magic, ed. by Eirik Storesund

Posted in Book Review, Wyrd on April 26, 2022 by Occult Detective

Love Spells & Erotic Sorcery in Norwegian Folk Magic (translated by Eirik Storesund) is described as “A curated selection of charms, spells, and sorcerous recipes from Norwegian grimoires and vernacular tradition on the topic of love and eroticism. 50+ pages chock full of terrible ideas and (mostly) bad advice for your love life. A fascinating glimpse into the magically infused boudoir of pre-industrial Scandinavia.

Well, it most certainly delivers on its description.

Putting one in mind of German Folk Traditions found in works such as Der lange verborgene Freund and Hohman’s translation Pow-Wows; or, Long, Lost Friend, Brute Norse has delivered a sensational little pamphlet that is a must-read for those heavily invested in the study of cunning ways.

The book, slight and but 50 pages, is adorable and lovingly put together. The design sense is impeccable and I’m tickled senseless to have the thing. Simply put, it’s fun. A quick and entertaining read, it is easy to imagine these remedies handed down for countless generations.

Highly recommended, and at only $9.00, you’d be foolish to pass it up. Order here.

Speaking of foolish, many thanks to Foolish Fish for bringing Brute Norse to my attention.

My thoughts on Consorting with Spirits by Jason Miller

Posted in Book Review, Magick, Paranormal on April 25, 2022 by Occult Detective

Apologies for being quiet of late. It’s becoming a habit, unfortunately, but I have been having some minor health related issues and some weighty deadlines that have kept me from the blog. Again, my apologies.

So many things I should share with you: recent paranormal investigations, upcoming appearances, and a little matter of the occulture meltdown underway on social media, but let’s focus on something more prescient to our desires — book reviews! I have a couple I need to share, so let’s spend today with what is easily the crown jewel of 2022 thus far — Jason Miller’s Consorting with Spirits.

First, here’s what Weiser Books had to share —

“Working with spirits can be some of the most dangerous yet some of the most gratifying work a magickal practitioner can engage in. With Jason as your guide in this book, you are in some of the best hands out there when it comes to approaching and working with spirits. This is a book I wish I had fifteen years ago when I began working closely with spirits.” —Mat Auryn, author of Psychic Witch

Throughout history, humans have sought power and knowledge from spirits. Learning how to conjure, communicate, and negotiate with these unseen powers is one of the keys to success in magic.

Consorting with Spirits presents a detailed explanation of what spirits are, their different classifications, and how they exist in relation to the world we normally perceive. The reader will then learn a system of practices that will cultivate three main skills: The capacity to perceive spirits clearly, the ability to interact with them effectively, and the tools to deepen your relationships. It is this focus on deepening relationships and increasing clarity in communications that has been missing from much of the material about spirits.  

This book will teach you different ways of interacting with spirits, from offerings and invitations to forceful conjurations. With these tools in hand, you can work with your spirit allies to achieve any goal, from protection, to wealth, to vast knowledge.

Consorting with Spirits shares:

  • Proper training necessary for calling and conversing with spirits.
  • How to evaluate the messages you receive.
  • A full view of different modes of contact and what situations each mode lends itself to
  • Why the best sorcery is local.
  • The tools to establish and maintain a long-term relationship with spirits (consorting).
  • The 6 different manifestations of spirits and their corresponding magickal operations, qualities, benefits, and drawbacks.
  • The 4 methods of interacting with spirits: prayer, conjuring, compelling, and evocation.

Let me begin by stating emphatically, Consorting with Spirits: Your Guide to Working with Invisible Allies is an impressive work. On twitter I shared that I found it to be “a brilliant exploration of spirits in all their many & varied forms. A must-read for occultists & paranormal investigators alike.”

As I have stated many times, my introduction to the magical world as something distinctly real and vibrant as opposed to the stuff of fantasy, myth, and folklore was the book Unseen Forces by Manly Palmer Hall. I formulated many of my ideas about spirits from that treatise and slowly began to interact with those varied forms until a more clear (but far from complete) picture began to emerge.

What Jason Miller has done here is validate my own internalized beliefs (through UPG, trial and error, and theory and practice), and doing so by pulling back the veil and taking the reader on a fantastic journey.

Consorting with Spirits is an Unseen Forces Advanced Course, and it was everything I wanted and needed.

If there are negatives to this book, it is that it is a) too short, and b) not in a beautiful hardcover.

That said, it is an impressive volume in its trade dress. It sports a lovely and evocative cover by Wojciech Zwolinski and interior art by tattooist Matthew Brownlee. The font choices are easy on the eyes and tables and diagrams are crisp and well tended.

Matt Auryn delivers are terrific foreword, personal and professional at the same time, as all the best forewords tend to be. Mat has that certain air about him that is comforting and it really comes across here. He was an ideal choice to lure us further into the work.

But, let’s be clear, Jason Miller’s the star here. His narrative voice is erudite and instructive, but balanced in a way that makes the process almost interactive and collaborative. There is no doubt that this is a man who has indeed consorted with the sort of beings that are part and parcel to a man in my profession as it is in his.

Perhaps the greatest praise I can give in regard to this book is that you will learn from it, and you will be able to incorporate the lessons here into your personal practice. Miller delivers all the tools you need.

I had stated that this book is a must-read for occultists and paranormal investigators. Especially investigators. Too many of my colleagues are closed to the near infinite possibilities of the things they are interacting with. Consorting with Spirits would be the perfect mind opener for many.

Consorting with Spirits: Your Guide to Working with Invisible Allies by Jason Miller is available wherever books are sold as of the 1st of May. It is surely the ideal Beltane gift (especially to one’s self). This one needs to be a part of your library. Trust me on this one.

I’d rate it 6 out of 5 Stars.

My thoughts on Blackthorn’s Protection Magic & Brigid’s Light, available now from @WeiserBooks

Posted in Book Review, Magick on March 1, 2022 by Occult Detective

The world is on fire. It is times like these when we need the comfort of magic the most. Let’s face it, social upheaval, pandemic, and war are clear and present signs of transition, and magic is always at the fore as we realign ourselves for the age to come. For me, I find solace in well crafted esoterica, and I am thrilled to share with you today two books celebrating birthdays, both from the good folks at Red Wheel/Weiser.

A hands-on guide to protection magic using essential oils, incense, spells, and tarot from a beloved and trusted authority.

Blackthorn’s Protection Magic
guides readers through the realm of the green witch to a glade filled with options for your protection. Amy Blackthorn discusses spiritual, emotional, and physical security in an easy-to-understand way. The book provides an overview of what protection means to witches and then explores practices in more depth, including:

  • Essential oils for protection magic
  • The role plant allies play in both protecting and healing
  • What tarot can teach us about our strengths and weaknesses
  • Oracle spell work as a potent source of protection

As a witch who has worked in executive security for nearly fifteen years, Amy possesses the botanical spirit of an animist witch, able to see the inherent spirit in plants, as well as a keen eye on ways to make a home feel safer and more secure, on the magical and the mundane levels. For example, holly trees provide magical protection from lightning, but also make a prickly barrier outside the home to keep burglars from lurking in the shadows.

I love me some Amy Blackthorn. I spoke of comfort earlier, and Amy epitomizes comfort in all the best ways. Her books, while erudite and insightful, are also the literary equivalent of comfort food. Her latest, Protection Magic, is a timely read.

Divided into four parts, Blackthorn covers magical protection for the Mind (Psychic), Body (Physical), and Spirit (Emotional), with the final section delving into an info dump of miscellany and correspondences.

This is a lovely little primer that I feel is ideal for new practitioners, especially for women. Not that there aren’t new tricks to be found for us old dogs and of the male variety. The thrust, however, is practicality in every sense of the word. There are so many little tidbits that stand out as the author attempts to cover every situation, from identifying magical components (and weeding out fakes) to real world protection and defense in the physical sense.

This is a holistic approach that transcends mere occult protection, but impresses upon you the need to make magic a part of your being, utilizing it in all facets of your life.

Brilliant stuff, and the book cover is lovely to boot. The interior is spartan, with newsprint-like pages. At times the font-size runs a tad small in some of the subsets, but nothing to overly concern yourself with. It’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend, especially for those in the early stages of their craft.

Blackthorn’s Protection Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Mental and Physical Self-Defense by Amy Blackthorn is available today, the 1st of March, wherever books are sold. Here’s a link to Amazon.

Stories, spells, rituals, and recipes celebrating the worldwide influence of this beloved Celtic goddess, with contributions from Amy Blackthorn, Laura Tempest Zakroff, Courtney Weber, and many others

This anthology celebrates Brigid, an ancient and mysterious Celtic spirit who ranks among today’s most popular modern goddesses. Venerated in many forms including as a saint and a goddess, Brigid has traveled the globe alongside the Celtic diaspora. Once a goddess with a narrow territory, she is now an internationally beloved presence. While acknowledging her origins, this book also explores Brigid from the perspective of those outside her original Celtic homeland.

Editors Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella have gathered art, poetry, stories, spells, rituals, recipes, and traditions as an homage to the worldwide influence of Brigid’s magic and lore, especially among the descendants of immigrants to the Americas. In compiling these individual works, Cairelle and Laura have given voice to those traveling ancestors by showcasing a rich and beautiful heritage manifested through embodiments of devotion by their descendants, as well as others touched by Brigid.

Are you looking for inner healing, something to help take the weight of these past few years off your shoulders, even if it’s just for a brief respite? Brigid’s Light is what you’ve been waiting for. This book is a celebration and I assure you, it will lift your spirits and fill you with light and hope.

Past the powerful cover art by the talented Stuart Littlejohn you are treated to wonderful examinations of the Brigid Spirit. It begins with an insightful foreword by one of my favorite people to chat with, Judika Illes, then the anthology becomes a spiritual journey through the many facets of the character of Brigid, through ritual practice, poetry and essays, recipes and spellwork, and more.

I was thrilled by all of the contributions, but especially Courtney Weber’s A Ritual with Brigid — “I crave. You crave. We crave.” — and Lucia Moreno-Velo’s Brigid’s Place, which really caught me off guard.

Even without a personal connection to Brigid, you will find the warmth of the words inside a sublime comfort, which seems to be the theme for today.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly. I think you will love it. It’s light and passionate, and we can all use a little bit of that in our lives right now.

Brigid’s Light: Tending the Ancestral Flame of the Beloved Celtic Goddess, edited by Cairelle Crow and Laura Louella is available wherever books are sold. Here’s a convenient link to its Amazon listing.

My Thoughts on @LlewellynBooks’ Norse Divination: Illuminating Your Path with the Wisdom of the Gods by Gypsey Elaine Teague

Posted in Book Review, Magick, Wyrd on February 10, 2022 by Occult Detective

Journey into the Norse Pantheon to Uncover the Secrets of Your Past, Present, and Future

Reveal your life’s path in a brand-new way with Norse Divination, the only book designed around the Nordic gods themselves rather than the Futhark. Through concise yet enlightening analyses of these deities and their relationships to each other, you’ll unlock answers to your deepest questions and find more happiness and success.

An excellent primer on Norse mythology, this book teaches you how to easily create your own thirty-six-piece divination set and use it to explore the gods and goddesses’ beliefs, customs, loves, and deaths. Each deity, along with important mythological items, has a dedicated chapter outlining who they are, what their role is, and how they can help you divine the best course of action in any scenario. Featuring clear and thorough instruction on how to read all thirty-six pieces in their past, present, and future positions, Norse Divination helps you harness hidden knowledge and forge a unique practice.

Let me be honest right out of the gate: this is not the book I was expecting. Now let me explain why that’s not a bad thing.

I suppose I should first interject my obligatory apology for being late to review this. By now, you’re well aware of my bout with the plague. But that’s behind me now and we’ve one last book review to make good on, in this case, something that enters into the magical realm I am most connected to and enamored by — Northern European Heathenry — via Gypsey Elaine Teague’s aforementioned book, Norse Divination.

As stated above, I expected something quite different from this one, something more akin to an exploration of the runes. This is not that. I have read Gypsey’s work before, having read, reviewed, and enjoyed her work on The Witch’s Guide to Wands. I should have known by that work that I would be getting something fresh, unique, and wonderful.

That’s how I found Norse Divination. Teague knows her heathenry and has a special connection to the gods. As a scholar, she acknowledges the scant information we have on the people and faith that sprang out of those ancient climes, but through this connection that has blossomed over time and space, with so many being reunited with these godforms, Gypsey is able to bring the past in line with the present to deliver a remarkable system of divination that honors the roots from which it springs.

Utilizing 42 symbols, Gypsey has developed from her rune work a system that brings the gods into the mix. It is very intuitive, and I created for myself makeshift disks, burning the symbols into the wood. What I found was a very natural and insightful set of divination tools that fulfill their promise.

As always, I find Gypsey’s words meaningful and comfortable and believe you will find them the same. As for the book itself, well, it’s a thing of beauty. The interior design and layout is wonderful, but the star of the show is that magnificent cover. I could stare at that one all day.

If you’ve a love of divination, this book is for you and demands a place on your library shelf. For many heathens, well, this might be too outside the box for them, but I do hope they would be open-minded enough to not dismiss it out of hand. I lean toward more traditionalism as well, but found this to be inspired and worthwhile.

Norse Divination: Illuminating Your Path with the Wisdom of the Gods by Gypsey Elaine Teague is available wherever books are sold. I encourage you to bring this one home.

My thoughts on Kelden’s Witches’ Sabbath

Posted in Book Review, Magick on February 2, 2022 by Occult Detective

As I write this, the morning after Imbolc, I await Winter Storm Landon’s arrival. Rain is pelting the canopy over the back door, evolving ever so slowly into sleet, before the increasing eventuality of voluminous snowfall that threatens a visit to these haunted climes.

It seems a good time to share with you my thoughts on The Witches’ Sabbath: An Exploration of History, Folklore, and Modern Practice by Kelden, especially in light of recent events.

I was riding a high after watching the latest episode of Kindred Spirits featuring paranormal investigators Amy Bruni and Adam Berry, which presented a ritual, The Shroud of the Revenant, from Greg Newkirk of Hellier fame. I love that kind of innovation. But that high was soon soured by Travel Channel’s latest paranormal entertainment series, Vampires In America, which is the very worst sort of sensationalist garbage that damages the entire paranormal community. Couple that with the gods awful documentary, The Book of Secrets: Aliens, Ghosts, and Ancient Mysteries, and, well, my resolve was all but shattered.

So, writing this review is, in many ways, cathartic —a way to rekindle my faith in the magical community, and a reminder that there is a wealth good to be found there. It just requires a bit of digging sometimes.

First, allow me to share Llewellyn’s introduction:

Discover the Hidden Depths of the Sabbath

Take flight for a mesmerizing exploration of an event long shrouded in fear and mystery―the Witches’ Sabbath. Kelden presents an in-depth examination of the Sabbath’s historical and folkloric development as well as its re-emergence within the modern practice of Witchcraft. From discussions on the folklore of flight and the events of nocturnal gatherings to enchanting rituals and recipes, you’ll find everything you need to not only understand the nature of the legendary Sabbath, but also journey there yourself. Offering impressive research and compelling stories from across Europe and the early American colonies, this book is the ultimate resource for discovering an oft misunderstood and overlooked aspect of Witchcraft.

Includes a foreword by Jason Mankey, author of The Horned God of the Witches

I received an advanced copy of The Witches’ Sabbath in mid-December just as my bout with the dreaded plague was sinking its tendrils into me. This book was a gift from the gods as it was a welcome distraction from my discomfort. While the book was released in the US in January, its February release in Canada and the UK helps alleviate some of the guilt I feel for not reviewing this book sooner.

Beyond addressing the book’s content, can I first gush over Tim Foley’s gorgeous woodcut that graces the cover? I love the colors, the stark blacks, and the otherworldly imagery that takes me back to my childhood, when I first took those fateful baby-steps into the world of witchcraft. Delicious by all accounts.

As for Kelden’s work, it is a wonderful read. A bit disjointed, perhaps, with an odd narrative, but I sort of like it. Kelden’s writing style matches the theme and tone of the book, which is both a concise and comprehensive exploration of the Witches’ Sabbath, in folklore and in practice today.

This is the place of wild magic, beyond myth and fantasy, where the shadow realm thrives outside this earthly realm and awaits for initiates to discover its location. Kelden does a masterful job of invoking the essence of its true nature, of presenting it through solid academic research to give it substance, but also through fanciful examination of legend and lore to expand upon its majestic presence beyond the veil.

The Witches’ Sabbath is whimsical and fantastic and wholly enchanting. It is a promise, an affirmation, if you will, of all that is wonderful and magical and dangerous about the world of witchcraft. So much of this has been lost in the past few decades. It’s nice to see the satanic majesty of it all reaffirmed.

Beyond the academia, you will find a wealth of practical exercises and spellwork to align yourself for visiting the Sabbath, should you fain to do so. While I found some of the exercises somewhat lackluster, overall it’s an ambitious undertaking, and I recommend it on many levels.

I see this work as imagination fuel. While the path may not be exactly the one you wish to travel, the very idea of it can lead you toward the proper trail where fancy becomes reality.

A delightful read that I recommend without hesitation, Kelden’s The Witches’ Sabbath: An Exploration of History, Folklore, and Modern Practice is available wherever books are sold. You’ll certainly want this one in your home library.

My thoughts on Elemental Powers for Witches by Frater Barrabbas (spoiler alert — it’s terrific)

Posted in Book Review, Magick on January 28, 2022 by Occult Detective

I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things after my bout with the plague. I found it hard to concentrate on reading for any real length of time during the height of it, but I did find that in those moments when I could wrap myself up inside a book, it was an important part of the healing process.

One of the books I found solace in was the latest release from Frater Barrabbas, an author I have been keen on approaching, particularly his book Spirit Conjuring for Witches. So, when offered a chance to read Elemental Powers for Witches, I was more than eager to do so.

Before I give you my brief thoughts on the book, let’s hear what Llewellyn has to say about it:

Bring Element-Based Ceremonial Magic into your Modern Witchcraft

What was once only available to ceremonial magicians can now be yours with this guide to advanced elemental energy work. Frater Barrabbas presents a ritual system that uses the forty qualified powers as well as the sixteen elementals―paired elements, such as earth of water, that create a more articulated expression of magical power. A companion to Spirit Conjuring for Witches, this book covers working with your own energy, uncrossing mechanisms that remove internal blocks, and a variety of magical tools, including sigils, pentacles, and crystals.

Featuring numerous illustrations and diagrams, Elemental Powers for Witches teaches you how to use specialized ritual energy patterns that are more effective than the regular witch’s circle. Frater Barrabbas walks you through exciting new rituals he has developed over the years, including the eight-node magic circle, invoking and banishing spirals, Western and Eastern gateways, the Rose Cross Vortex Rite, and more. From using the tarot as a Book of Shadows to calling upon elemental spirits, this book helps you enhance your practice while staying true to your primary tradition of the Craft.

First, I really appreciate what Frater Barrabbas is looking to accomplish here — to offer up alternative practices through a systematic, yet simplified exploration of ceremonial magick. It is ambitious and well plotted. If ceremonial practices are not your thing, this book may very well be for you. Afterward, I suspect you’ll change your tune.

While I found some of the text a bit rambling in parts, Barrabbas has ultimately created a terrific system of magick, synthesizing a veritable smorgasbord of occult practices all under one umbrella, from yoga to tarot to sigil magic and more.

For someone new to magick, or with little experience, this is a superb primer and initiatory starting point. It is elegant at times and insightful, with a lot of knowledge and background all in its core, creating a firm foundation from which to build on. It puts me in mind of some of Donald Tyson’s work in the late 1980s.

All in all, a book I highly recommend, for those new to ways of magick and those more seasoned. I certainly found some very useful practices within. As a magical system, steeped as is in the western tradition, it’s solid, inspiring, and most important, it’s useful.

You want to do more than learn about magick? Do you want to practice the art? Well, you really need look no further. This book will set you on a path from which you can grow and prosper from.

Elemental Powers for Witches: Energy Magic Simplified by Frater Barrabbas is available wherever books are sold. I give this one my highest recommendation.

Today I’m taking a look at three #tarot / oracle decks from @LlewellynBooks and @loscarabeotarot

Posted in Book Review, Tarot on January 18, 2022 by Occult Detective

As you know, I collect Tarot and Oracle Cards. I love getting my hands on a new deck, wrapping my head around the art and test driving them through a couple of weeks of divinatory practices. I’ve been at this a long time. Over thirty years ago, it’s how I made my money for deviant extracurricular activities. I still read for small gatherings, parties, and the like, and I have done daily readings for myself for nearly forty years.

I have three decks I’ve been meaning to comment on, all I received before COVID came to visit for the holidays. While I’m still not 100%, it seems like the right time to share these with you.

Goetia – Tarot in Darkness

This deck is a masterpiece of deep art inspired by the esoteric lore of the Lesser Key of Salomon. Teeming with demons and spirits and rendered in a subdued palette of greys and blacks, this stark imagery pierces through to the innermost spirit of the reader. Designed to show that darkness is nothing if not a path to the light, the Goetia―Tarot in Darkness also reveals that the unconscious is nothing if not a mirror of your true conscious self.

Boxed deck (2¾ x 4¾) includes a 78-card deck and instructional booklet.

♠♠♠ — The artwork in this deck is simply amazing. Easily the most impressive, and as a student of Goetia, I marvel at the amount of work that went into bringing this to life. There are some minor quibbles, however. The print in the booklet is abysmally small. I ended up reading most of it with a magnifying glass. Also, some of the cards are a little too dark. But all in all, a delight to own. This is not a deck I would use lightly. It is definitely a deck for “special occasions”.

Goetia – Tarot in Darkness is priced at just $26.95 though I see that it is currently out of stock at Llewellyn and Amazon, so you may need to track it down through secondary markets, or patiently await its restocking.

Manara Erotic Oracle

An oracle for those choosing to believe in sex, not as a myth, but rather as an experience. Following the long-standing success of the Manara Erotic Tarot, these oracle cards combine the enticing art of the famed Milo Manara with astrology and chakra to create surprising and insightful readings, especially on very complex subjects.

Boxed deck (4 x 5¼) includes a 35-card deck and instructional booklet

♠♠♠♠ — Milo Manara is a talented artist of erotica and I believe that if you are a fan Milo’s art, or of sensual art in general, you will not be disappointed here. These are fantastically illustrated and I found as an oracle, surprisingly insightful. Very intuitive. Personally, these cards would not find their way into any sort of public rotation, but this is a deck that will certainly serve me at home. I recommend these highly.

The Manara Erotic Oracle is priced at 19.95, a real bargain, and readily available through Llewellyn or Amazon.

Folk Cards of Destiny: Antica Cartomanzia

Harkening back to an era when divination was conducted with playing cards, the Folk Cards of Destiny is sure to occupy a unique and privileged position in any collection. Reflecting the whimsical, everyday scenes and motifs found on some of these early divination cards, this deck provides a fascinating reading experience. Based on an eighteenth-century deck by renowned printer Dondorf, the artwork brings a deep sense of imagination and nostalgia for a style of divinatory reflection that may just open a new chapter in your own contemporary spiritual quest.

Boxed deck (2¾ x 4¾) includes a 36-card deck and instructional booklet

♠♠♠♠½ — I’ve saved my favorite for last. I can’t quite explain it, but I really connected with these so-called Folk Cards of Destiny. I love the artwork. Every reading was a treat, with a true sense of wonder, discovery, and insight found. I’ve always had a fondness for traditional cartomancy decks, and this fits the bill. Of the three decks I’m sharing today, this is the deck that will be revisited often.

Best yet, the Folk Cards of Destiny are priced at a mere $18.95. Available at Llewellyn or Amazon, you definitely want this deck in your collection.

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.

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