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This is the new Blog for Melusine Draco, esoteric author (fact and fiction) and spiritual teacher; dog person and countrywoman; writer and creative writing tutor.   Hopefully, it will make life a lot easier in keeping in touch on social media about work in progress, new titles and books off the back-list.  These are my mountains and this is my glen …

“Mélusine Draco, as her name suggests, has long been plugged into the powerful currents of traditional witchcraft and ritual magic. She is one of the real ones. Her provocative series of Tradition Witchcraft will show you how to move between the inner and outer worlds. Follow along behind her if you dare …” Alan Richardson, author of numerous esoteric titles including Priestess and The Old Sod, biographies of Dion Fortune and W G Gray.

Blog reviews …

DEATH & THE PAGAN: From time to time I will be introducing reviews for books that are complementary to traditional British Old Craft and the Khemetic Mysteries … or just because they contain their fair share of ‘magical truths’ that are pertinent to all Paths and Traditions. Wisdom isn’t confined to a single belief system and sometimes we can benefit from a different viewpoint … even if it’s not remotely connected to the Path we personally follow.

DEATH & THE PAGAN by Philip Wright & Carrie West

This useful little book was first published in 2004 and things have come a long way since then with regard to pagan funeral arrangements.  But it’s still a good way to introduce what is still a taboo subject – death!

Did you, for example, that once you are dead you have no legal control over what happens to your remains regardless of what instructions are included in your Will unless you go to great pains to appoint executors who will carry out your wishes?  The body of one of our coven elders was hijacked by the next of kin who were determined that a life-long practicing witch was to be buried according to Christian rite and as a result no one knew where the funeral was to be held or were the body was buried.

And it’s not just a matter of providing a ‘green’ burial site or finding the right ‘order of service’ because if the deceased belongs to a more traditional Path then the carrying out of the correct obsequies are essential to the safe passage of the spirit.  And what about the appropriate ‘de-commissioning’ or disposal of magical equipment and regalia …?

Death and the Pagan explores the different approaches to funerary practices that will not only be useful for the pagan community, but also for members of the caring professions and the funeral industry.  Published by Ignotus Press UK in e-book and paperback format. ISBN: 978 1 78697 067 1.

 

 

Blog reviews …

From time to time I will be introducing reviews for books that are complementary to traditional British Old Craft and the Khemetic Mysteries … or just because they contain their fair share of ‘magical truths’ that are pertinent to all Paths and Traditions. Wisdom isn’t confined to a single belief system and sometimes we can benefit from a different viewpoint … even if it’s not remotely connected to the Path we personally follow.  But it’s that time of year again …

CHARNEL HOUSE BLUES: The Vampyre’s Tale by Suzanne Ruthven

Is a view of vampire culture through the eyes of Lord Ruthven – the first vampire in the literary world from John Polidori’s The Vampyre. Written as faction, Lord Ruthven rarely appears in vampiric anthologies and has never been filmed – neither has he ever been vanquished!  So perhaps it was time to turn him into a fictional hero in the character of Alastor the Wanderer, and he makes his first appearance in Spartan Dog: The Vampyre’s Tale. Not only does his story reflect the trials and tribulations of the Old World, he also finds himself embroiled in a contemporary intrigue that runs parallel with his narrative and which threatens to expose him to the unknown dangers of the 21st century. Nevertheless, he has a powerful guardian in the beautiful, but long-dead Egyptian sorceress Amenirdis whose influence reaches out from beyond the grave to protect him.

But to return to his first factional incarnation …

Carys Llewellyn : Freelance writer and book reviewer
“Just when you think that everything’s been written about vampires, along comes Suzanne Ruthven’s ‘Charnel House Blues: The Vampyre’s Tale’ giving us the most autocratic, attractive, enticing, seductive, witty, literary and discerning revenant of them all. Lord Ruthven isn’t, of course, an original creation. He’s the result of that famous ghost story challenge from the Villa Diadoti but this author puts an up-to-date ‘faction’ spin on the story and introduces us to this undead (as opposed to ‘undying’) culture through the eyes the first vampire in the literary world.

We know from John Polidori’s description that his Lordship is handsome but on other matters we must allow him to speak for himself: “It’s a sorry fact, but vampires aren’t what they used to be. I should know because I’m the last remaining member of my species from the ancient world; although if I’m brutally honest, this longevity is as much the product of becoming the alter idem of that club-footed Casanova, George Gordon, the sixth Lord Byron than any fortitude on my part.”

He’s discerning to the point of snobbery often referring to the Eastern European vampire as ‘the Balkan bloodsuckers’: “For the true vampire’s taste, blood should be savoured like fine wine, which means of course, that we do not go on a nightly rampage killing indiscriminately. The prey should be carefully selected and stalked with a hunter’s eye – for who knows what trash that lithesome lovely may be using to pollute her body behind closed doors. An unspoiled Group A RH Positive should only be consumed once a month and savoured, whilst a weekly intake of an inferior drug or drink laced concoction would be the equivalent of binge-drinking courtesy of Oddbins!”

Not to mention highly seductive: “I was considered to be fascinating and exotic, and since the touch of the vampire allowed for seduction without dishonour, I was able to pleasure those young ladies of noble birth in secret. The vampire’s kiss is not always deadly, and the smallest sip can be likened to savouring a glass of fine wine, without the urge to consume the whole bottle.”

With bored, literary distain we are taken on a cloak-swirling tour of vampire fact, film and fiction and given some strange insights into the way an Old World revenant views itself and the modern vampire cult that keeps it alive and flourishing. I’d invite his Lordship to dinner any time!”

 Jan Malique | amazon.com and amazon.co.uk 
“Lord Ruthven is a vampire who is intelligent, worldly and terribly adult.

The vampire, or vampyre, has haunted the corridors of our collective unconscious for as long as humanity has existed. Or it seems that way. A “bad and dangerous” creature who has been dark muse to generations of writers and spinners of fantasy within the cinematic world in modern times. One might question the fervour of our desire where this entity is concerned. The emotions are complex and often conflicting, blood and sex inextricably wrapping us in an unending embrace. What of the voice of the objects of our attention? Many have spoken but in this offering the author has allowed an exemplar of an ancient lineage to further enlighten us about the true origins of his kind, correcting fallacies in laconic tones whilst doing so.

Lord Ruthven is a vampire who is intelligent, worldly and terribly adult. He is not without humour, commenting dryly that he has “now become a ‘genre’ which often causes me to smile.” Who else but a vampire to reveal the truth of the haunted creature hiding in the shadows. He invites us into a darkened library to sit and listen well, his erudite musings (and as such the author’s) covering a huge breadth of analysis, commentary and personal insights into the vampire as fact and fiction. This book is a veritable storehouse of information for the discerning reader, restoring the “Gothic” to its rightful place. The icon is stripped bare of the accretions of popular culture and clothed with finery and darkness. There is much that I had forgotten and this book was a timely reminder of why I enjoyed the gothic charms of the vampire. Enjoy dear readers!”

Charnel House Blues: The Vampyre’s Tale is published by 6th Books as fiction. ISBN: 978 1 78279 416 5 : Price UK£9.99 US$1695 http://www.6th-books.com

Book Reviews

Blog reviews …

From time to time I will be introducing reviews for books that are complementary to traditional British Old Craft and the Khemetic Mysteries … or just because they contain their fair share of ‘magical truths’ that are pertinent to all Paths and Traditions. Wisdom isn’t confined to a single belief system and sometimes we can benefit from a different viewpoint … even if it’s not remotely connected to the Path we personally follow.

HEALING POWER OF CELTIC PLANTS: Dr Angela Paine

This is my kind of book … and ‘music’ for the eyes … having come from the land around Llyn-y-van-vach, that ‘small lake deep in the wildest part of Carmarthenshire’. This is not the usual fare for New Aeon introductions to one of the basic fundamentals of traditional folk-medicine and wort-lore but an erudite guide covering the history, myth and symbolism of twenty-five plants known to the British Celts and used by them medicinally. The author obviously believes that to fully understand a subject it is necessary to immerse yourself in the doctrines on Celtic medicine, together with a comprehensive study of the history and beliefs of the time. She has a BSc in Human Physiology and PhD from the School of Pharmacy, London University, in medicinal plant chemistry, has been on research trips to Africa and South America to collect plant material used as medicine, and collaborated with scientists around the world, publishing internationally in scientific journals. Immersed in the Celtic tradition, she runs workshops on Celtic Medicinal Plants and in ‘Healing Power of Celtic Plants’ reflects this tremendous depth of knowledge in a beautiful, evocative style of the bard.
“I found myself living, deep in the countryside in a green, leafy, watery place, overlooking trees, meadows and hillsides with badger sets, and the deep blue hills of Wales in the distance. I was surrounded by plants that had been used as medicine for centuries, plants native to Britain, plants with a history. This magical place with its sacred wells and standing stones was steeped in Celtic mythology. I was drawn in, absorbed and seduced by ancient traditions kept alive by poets and story-tellers.”
Intent on keeping her subject pure, Angela Paine consulted the twelfth century secular herbal, the book of the Physicians of Myddvai, which drew on ancient Celtic tradition. “As I began to collate my list of herbs from this early herbal I noted that not all of them were indigenous to Britain. Herbals of this period made frequent mention of plants imported to Britain by the Romans. No doubt the Celts had adopted many of these plants by this time but the ancient Celts probably would not have had access to many non-indigenous plants. I decided to concentrate only on plants native to Britain. From these, I selected those that we still use as medicine today, many of which have been extensively researched. This list of medicinal herbs was to become the body of the book.”
It is often said that Magic is a blend of Science and Art and ‘Healing Power of Celtic Plants’ is the perfect scholarly blend without ever being dry or academic. I’m always being asked by students to recommend a serious, magical book on wort-lore and finally I have one that I can – hand on heart – and have already added to the recommended reading on the Arcanum course.
Healing Power of Celtic Plants by Dr Angela Payne is published by Moon Books.

ISBN: 978-1-90504-762-8 Paperback £16.99 || $29.95

Book News & New Releases

Pagan Portals: Have a Cool Yule – How to survive (and enjoy) the Mid-Winter festival by Melusine Draco is now available for pre-ordering (24th November is the release date).

If you ever thought that pagans couldn’t celebrate ‘Christmas’ and enjoy it … think again. From a full-scale Yule-fest to a solitary pleasure this is Yule like you’ve never thought about it before.

Available from http://www.moon-books.net or Amazon in e-book and paperback.

 

Blog Reviews …

From time to time I will be introducing reviews for books that are complementary to traditional British Old Craft and the Khemetic Mysteries … or just because they contain their fair share of ‘magical truths’ that are pertinent to all Paths and Traditions. Wisdom isn’t confined to a single belief system and sometimes we can benefit from a different viewpoint … even if it’s not remotely connected to the Path we personally follow.

THE ROMAN BOOK OF DAYS by Pauline Erina

The Calendar of Ancient Rome

This is basically the old Julian calendar on which our own was built and it’s a valuable addition to anyone’s reference library. And although the Roman religion and civil calendar that spread across the Empire was closely aligned to the farming year in central Italy, it continues to influence our day to day living in 21st century Europe.  If we look closely, we will find that many of our old traditional folk-festivals are aligned with these ancient Roman ones.

Or as Marcus Terentius Varro, ‘the most learned of Romans’, commented in the first century BC: “The planting, promotion of growth, harvesting, storing of crops fall at their appropriate moment. February is given over to cleansing and March to decorating as the year ends and begins. December and January betray some signs of ‘festivals of light’, but generally the Romans seldom took their eyes off the ground to gaze at the heavens.”

 The Roman Book of Days: The Calendar of Ancient Rome was compiled by Paulina Erina, who described herself as an ‘enthusiastic amateur’ but as we can see from the following Amazon review, the results are far from amateurish …

“A lot of people, be they neo-pagans or amateur scholars or authors, trying to research have the same problem: It’s very hard to get good, concise information on the Roman Calendar. Even otherwise good books and websites only list the major festivals, and mention briefly that some days were dies comitialis, others dies fasti, and so forth and so on. Obviously this is of little help, say, when you want to know if the hero of your novel could press a lawsuit on the 20th of August, or what festivals are held on the 9th of June.

“This book is the answer to that problem. It lists every day of the year, and what happens on that day; festivals, lucky and unlucky days, and the character of the day (fasti, nefasti, etc). If you want to know what happens on 20th of August just look up that day, and you’ll see that it’s a dies comitialis where citizen committees can vote on criminal and political matters. It’s very useful and a great relief for someone who’s been tearing their hair out looking for this information. “I wasn’t sure if it should get four or five stars, since it is fairly short and only gives an abbreviated explanation of each feast day. However I’ve decided on five stars since the information you find here is virtually impossible to find anywhere else, and believe me I’ve looked. More to the point once you have the name of a festival, or the type of day, it’s very easy to find any additional information on the internet. Thus five stars and a book that’s very highly recommended!”

The Roman Book of Days by Pauline Erina is published by Ingotus Press UK in both e-book and paperback format and available from Amazon. ISBN: 978 1 78697 151 7

 

 

 

The story behind …

Pagan Portals: By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root by Melusine Draco

 Every book has a story behind the story of how it came to be written. It may be about a life-long passion, a personal journey, the need to share an experience or knowledge. It may have been fermenting in the brain for years, or sprung fully formed from a blinding epiphany.  Whether it be fact or fiction, sometimes the story behind the story is almost as interesting as the published book itself …

 Pagan Portals: By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root

The shadow world of plants and their poisons

by Melusine Draco

Elsewhere I’ve likened the Pagan Portals (and Shaman Pathways) series published by Moon Books as the equivalent of the ‘Ladybird’ books we had as children and which, more often than not, were the titles that sparked our life-long passion for nature, history and travel.  Weighing in at just 25,000 the author has to make every magical word count and cram as much information as possible into the hundred or so pages to whet the appetite of the pagan seeker after knowledge.

By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root The Shadow World of Plants and Their Poisons was written as a companion title to By Spellbook & Candle – Cursing, Hexing, Bottling & Binding since both are generally glossed over by contemporary pagan writers on the grounds that witches don’t curse and don’t poison people. Nevertheless, in classic books on Craft there is always the heavy emphasis on both as being the province of the witch and often used as proof of their ‘guilt’. Like cursing, however, when we really start to dig deeper into the subject, we find that most of the famous poisoners had no connection with witchcraft.

All magic is dangerous, especially when coupled with poisonous plants and therefore it would be fool-hardy for any beginner to think themselves capable of handling such powerful and unfamiliar energies merely on the strength of reading a book on the subject. Although the study and knowledge of poisonous plants is an integral part of witch-lore, it is important to fully understand what we are dealing with both magically and medicinally. Needless to say, ‘leave well alone’ is the watch-word when studying poisonous plants, and while learning to recognise them, a careful washing of the hands should be an automatic response if handling them.

And yet it should be evident that although there are a considerable number of poisonous plants in the witch’s store cupboard, every one of them have both medicinal as well as magic uses, in addition to their toxic qualities.  It would have been a very unwise witch indeed who administered herbal healing and not made sure the dosage was correct – because the newly emerging profession of physicians were waiting in the wings, ready to denounce them to the Inquisition if and when anything went wrong.

Anyone it seems, could acquire natural poisons on the pretext of needing its medicinal properties; the fallacy of witchcraft and veneficium being synonymous with each other points to a blend of fact, fiction and fabrication, aimed at discrediting genuine practitioners of the Craft. In truth, long before the Romans came to Britain, traditional knowledge of healing plants was extensive; in Wales, medicine was a highly-regarded skill.  The venerable traditions of the native priest-healers, from whom it is believed witchcraft descended, dated back to a thousand years before Christ.

So … witches as history’s poisoners? …  I think the jury’s still out.

Pagan Portals: By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in e-book and paperback versions.  ISBN: 978 1 78099 572 4  Price: UK£6.99/US$10.95