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

 

The story behind …

Pagan Portals: By Spellbook & Candle 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 Spellbook & Candle Cursing, Hexing, Bottling & Binding

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.

The subject concerning the morality of cursing regularly raises its head in discussion and under what circumstances can we challenge the established ways of thinking and ask ourselves: Can cursing ever be justified? And if we hesitate for just a moment, then we must ask the next question: Is cursing evil? The Christian priesthood obviously felt their cause was just and as a result, the Church’s curses are so virulent that it’s not just the ‘victim’ that suffers but their offspring in successive generations. And in the cursing stakes (pun intended) the Catholic Church can out-gun any menopausal witch for sheer spite, malevolence and cruelty.  Surprised?  It’s a fact …

Another aspect that is often overlooked is that it takes a long time to lay a successful curse and often may take several days before the sender has raised this dark energy by stoking up tightly controlled emotions in order to make the magic work. Many people confused binding and bottling and, although similar in preparation, the long-term outcome is often employed for different purposes. Neither carry the finality or strength of a full-blown curse and, unlike the curse, both can be ‘undone’ should it become necessary to negate the spell for whatever reason.  We should also bear in mind a ‘price’ often exacted on those laying a curse, because if it should ‘misfire’, it will inevitably rebound on the sender. Think things through beforehand and do not fling a curse if a bottling or binding will do the trick.

Curses, in the long term, are usually counter-productive and self-defeating, since few people who throw a curse bother to concern themselves with the far-reaching implications. Binding and bottling give a far greater ‘control’ over the outcome and if, at the end of the day, you decide it’s really not worth the effort, then the bottling or binding can be undone … a curse cannot.  So … can cursing ever be justified? Is cursing evil? Do curses even work? My answer is always – ‘Harm my dog and find out!’

Pagan Portals: By Spellbook & Candle – Cursing, Hexing, Bottling & Binding by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in e-book and paperback versions.  ISBN: 978 1 78099 563 2 Price: UK£4.99/US$9.95

Blog reviews …

 

Shaman Pathways: Trees of the Goddess by Elen Sentier

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. 

Shaman Pathways: Trees of the Goddess by Elen Sentier

Or everything you wanted to know about ogham but didn’t know where to look. And as the authors says in her introduction: ‘There are twenty British trees that work very comfortably with the goddess and link to humankind. Over the ages people have brought them together in what we know as the ogham. Some say they are just an alphabet, a means of writing, but they are far more than that and far older, too, than many give them credit for.’

For those who follow the old traditions, trees have a very special place in our psyche, folklore and magic.  Their roots are the spiritual anchors in our landscape and for those who follow these old paths, the death of a tree – either by felling or falling – can cause a physical pain that takes a long time to heal, especially if that particular tree has been a daily part of our lives.  Elen Sentier introduces us to the spiritual energy of the ‘goddess’ trees and step by step reveals the symbology and metaphor that underlies each of the ogham staves while teaching you how to create a magically imbued alphabet for yourself.

As Steve Andrews, author of Herbs of the Northern Shaman, said:Any book by Elen Sentier will reflect her very individual yet spiritual approach to the subject and will include her specialised knowledge and intuition. She has been a teacher of Ogham for many years and knows what she is talking about so a book about this written by her will be both authoritative in the truth of the information in it and educational in the true sense of the word!”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!”

Shaman Pathways: Trees of the Goddess by Elen Sentier is published by Moon Books in both e-book and paperback format.  ISBN: 978-1-78279-332-8 Paperback £6.99 || $10.95

The story behind …

THE SECRET PEOPLE 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 …

 The Secret People by Melusine Draco

Parish-pump witchcraft, Wise-women and Cunning Ways

 Much of what passes for ‘witchcraft’ today was everyday knowledge to our forebears, especially those who lived and worked in the countryside. Here were to be found practical household hints, remedies and family recipes that had been handed down from generation to generation, some still existing in the form of treasured journals and notebooks. There is, however, nothing fanciful or far-fetched about this information – in fact, The Secret People is a remembrance of times past and a preservation of ‘parish-pump witchcraft, wise woman and cunning ways’ adapted for use in the 21st century. It may also go a long way in helping those present generation pagans in search of an identity and answer the questions: Who am I? What am I?

Over the years I have also incorporated a great deal of this country lore into my books on witchcraft with a view to preserving the knowledge for future generations. Much of what even my grandparents’ generation once knew is now lost because it was never recorded for posterity.  The Secret People is an autobiographical and nostalgic trip back into the past where the things I’ve written about were still everyday happenings when I was growing up.

“The Secret People is all about the kind of practical folklore our grandmothers and great-grandmothers would have used in their daily lives when planting a cottage garden, foraging for herbs in the hedgerows, treating family ailments and making the most of what was around the house. It is also about the secret folklore they would have known, from love charms and fortune-telling to protection spells and magical cures. The book is both really useful and a delight to read. Mélusine said that it would take me on a trip down memory lane, and it certainly did.” Lucya Starza, author of Pagan Portals: Candle Magic and witch

“I’ve so looked forward to this book. It high time our old ways came to light again so that we can all remember and use them. Draco writes in a style that is easy to read and her knowledge of the old ways is enormous. Anyone who wants to get back into the old customs and traditions of Britain will find this book a source to be treasured.” Elen Sentier, author of Shaman Pathways: Elen of the Ways, shaman and wise woman

True there are numerous pagan books written about similar subjects but it is obvious that a large number of them don’t have the countryside in their blood and fail to reflect the magic and mystery of growing up in an unspoiled rural environment.  Strangely enough, these sentiments are often viewed as some form of elitism but I prefer to go back to the roots of learning than consult something that has been cobbled together from different popular titles without any true grounding in country lore.  Nevertheless, although The Secret People reflects traditions and customs that were usually thought of as a natural part of rural life, much of it can now be identified as integral elements of contemporary Wicca…but there is nothing in this book that cannot be transported into the towns and cities in order to make the urban witch’s quest for his or her pagan identity a little easier and more enriching

 Pagan Portals: The Secret People by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in e-book and paperback format.  ISBN: 978 1 78535 444 1 226 pages : Price UK£13.99 US$22.95