Blog reviews

 

ELEN OF THE WAYS & FOLLOWING THE DEER TRODS 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 what we personally believe. 

ELEN OF THE WAYS by Elen Sentier

FOLLOWING THE DEER TRODS by Elen Sentier

Go … Look … Learn things’ appear to have been the watch-words that Elen Sentier and I shared when very young even though those childhoods were spent in different parts of the country.   And although I am what is known as a traditional British Old Crafter and she a follower of the British shamanic tradition, our Paths are remarkably similar in practice and belief.  I believe that what is known today as ‘Old Craft’ grew out of the animistic beliefs of our indigenous ancestors when the tribal spiritual leaders were responsible for the well-being of the community.

Animism is the belief that every object, animate and inanimate, has its own life-force, or energy. Taking this viewpoint into account, it is not unreasonable to surmise that Old Craft probably retains features of the native shamanic practices of the British Isles – so competently written about by Elen Sentier in her many interesting books on the subject. The term ‘shamanism’ describing the supernatural powers practitioners channel from the spirit world for healing, divination and the conducting of souls – all of which are the natural province of an Old Craft practitioner where it is viewed as ‘an isolated or peripheral phenomenon’, rather than the overt devotional practices often found in contemporary paganism.

As the authors says: “British shamanism has largely been forgotten: the reindeer goddess of the ancient Boreal forest is shrouded in mystery…follow her deer-trods to rediscover her old ways.   edit thisElen holds the Shaman’s Pathway for the Brythonic people. She is our mother goddess, the ancient matriarch who leads us along the quicksilver pathways that carry the spirit-blood of the Earth as the reindeer matriarchs lead the herds across the seasonal pastures. She is our fundamental way of reconnecting to the Earth here in the lands of the Boreal forest, the largest forest on the Earth that circles the globe above the 50th parallel to the tundra edge. This forest has covered the top of Britain as well as the upper part of Russia and Canada. Once Britain was called the land behind the north wind … Boreas was the Greek name for the god of the north wind … we were a part of this and places like the Caledonian forest are the remnants of this magical forest.”

Following the Deer Trods is a practical guide for anyone wanting to begin the old British paths and follows on from Elen of the Ways, filled with tried-and-tested exercises, journeys and experiential work for the reader to engage in.

   

 

Shaman Pathways: Elen of the Ways and Following the Deer Trods – the Ancient Shamanism of Britain by Elen Sentier are both published by Moon Books in their Shaman Pathways series. www.moon-books.net

The story behind …

THE TEMPLE HOUSE SERIES 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 TEMPLE HOUSE ARCHIVE SERIES

I was always a great fan of The Legacy, that Canadian television series from the 1980s, and although the rather bigoted ‘light is right and anything that comes from the shadows is highly suspect’ attitude was irritating it provided great entertainment.  What if … The idea festered for many years and there came along New Tricks and again the ‘what if …’ element reared its head for combining the esoteric with modern investigative procedures, together with the multi-casting storylines of the CSI series, the idea for the Temple House series was born. What if

If I’m honest the Temple House is pure indulgence – giving the opportunity to bring together all sorts of demons, degenerates and dire doings all under one roof and covering the realms of esoteric, suspense, horror and thriller. Where were these super-heroes coming from?  They had to have an authentic and credible historical background. What if …

… the Temple House was founded in 1586 in England during the reign of Elizabeth I as an off-shoot of Sir Francis Walsingham’s recently created intelligence service, inaugurated to investigate the growing popularity of esoteric learning that was occupying the interests of the Elizabethan intelligentsia. For this he recruited the descendants of the Knights Templar.  The Order remained surrounded by myth and legend ever since – and drawing on this veritable mine of esoteric knowledge and experience of international intrigue, the Temple House was established to combat ‘evil forces’ of a human or supernatural agency, and those who would use occult power for destructive purposes.

The current members of the Temple House, or ‘the Nine’ as they are referred to in memory of the original nine founder members of the Order, all had to be specialists and magical practitioners in the diverse fields of occultism and its relevant histories.  And it wasn’t easy to build up a team that were creatures of the modern world not throwbacks to a bygone age, although they all had a highly developed sense of honour and obligation to tradition.

The first thing that went was the location.  No gloomy Gothic exteriors, crumbling castles or dank caverns – the Temple House would be location somewhere light and airy – in a smaller version of my own dream home: Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous ‘Falling Water’ perched on the cliffs overlooking the ocean!

Yes, of course, the story-lines descend into darkness but the characters themselves are modern, forward thinking people who exist as a well-oiled machine.  House of Strange Gods conjured up a traditional demon from the Abyss with various different sub-plots including a homicidal link to the past but it also weeded out one of the characters who wasn’t up to scratch and had to be replaced.  Realm of Shadow weeded out a couple more as the story-lines acted out the process of natural selection.  This wasn’t my original intention but as any novelist knows, these things have a habit of developing a life-force of their own and whereas certain characters can’t cope with certain situations in real life, so the flaws are also exposed in a fictional world. They just don’t work!

To assemble the cast I used my tried and trusted trick of ‘casting’ – who would I get to play those characters if it were a film (regardless of age) – and to help with the creative process I gave the Temple House its own Facebook page.  The page keeps readers up to date on the progress of the team’s latest adventures and arranges special offers on Kindle e-books and discounted prices on all paperback versions ordered direct from the printer. It also gives readers the opportunity to interact with the characters, suggest story-lines for future titles, and enjoy reading the additional information on the background research involved for the next title which, hopefully, will appeal to writers as well as readers.  For more information go to: https://www.facebook.com/TempleHouseArchive/

House of Strange Gods, Realm of Shadow, and Hour Betwixt Dog & Wolf in the Temple House series by Melusine Draco are published by Ignotus Press UK in both paperback and e-book format.   https://www.facebook.com/IgnotusPressUK/

Blog reviews

PAGAN PORTALS: Blacksmith Gods by Pete Jennings

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 what we personally believe. 

PAGAN PORTALS: Blacksmith Gods by Pete Jennings

Smithing and horses are an important part of the old witchcraft traditions and I always have a collection of equine bits and pieces for magical use tucked away because these are extremely powerful ingredients for spell casting that can be found at the blacksmith’s forge. Such as:

  • Horse-hair: Perfect for binding spells
  • Cast horseshoes: For luck and protection
  • Thunder water: For magical spells and healing
  • Horseshoe nails (new and used): For cursing

Pete Jennings takes us on a whistle-stop tour of the ‘blacksmith gods’ and reveals the importance of the position the smith held in our ancient traditions whether we be Craft, Druid, or Heathen.  The smith was a worker with ‘fire and iron’ and therefore a magician; he was a healer, and often a dispenser of the law – these skills feature strongly in the myths and legends of the Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian and other Germanic peoples. The iron horseshoe – one of the typical products of the smith – is still regarded as a ‘magical’ symbol today and is hung on walls and doors to bring good luck (but only if the curved part is at the bottom, otherwise the luck ‘falls out’  – if you’re a Horseman, the reverse is true).

As the author comments: “Yet even at the basest level of the smith’s craft, a sense of awe, magic and mystery attaches itself. Little wonder, when those early workers of the Bronze Age and Iron Age obtained metal from rocks and turned it into tools and weapons. It was a world away from their stone implement ancestors. We hear about the magical ‘drawing the sword from the stone’ in Arthurian legend, yet that is what those early metalworkers actually achieved. No wonder they kept their trade secrets, making sure that they maintained a local monopoly on such goods. Of course, keeping their secrets from the general population (and working apart from them to prevent the spread of fire) would be bound to lead to an idea or suspicion that they were working some sort of magic; that is actions that could not be explained by other ordinary people. In some places even iron or other metals were imbued with an air of magic, good or bad, and consequently would not be used in ritual situations.”

ISBN: 978 1 78279 627 5 :  published by Moon-Books :  110 pages: Price £6.99

The story behind …

The Story Behind …

 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 …

Traditional Witchcraft and the Path to the Mysteries

This was the six and last book in the Traditional Witchcraft series and came about from the questions being asked by members of Coven of the Scales who were working towards Initiation and was not originally intended for publication.  It was a way of going over old ground, much of which had already provided the basic material for the first four books in the series – although I have been asked if reading the whole series qualifies the reader as being an Initiate!   Err … n-o-o!  Preparing for initiation is a long and torturous process and it is necessary to re-visit old lessons and path-working to view them from a different perspective and Traditional Witchcraft and the Path to the Mysteries was my way of bringing all those elements together.

Lucya Starza very kindly wrote of the book on her Bad Witch Blog: “More and more often these days I get asked what books would I recommend for solitary witches who have gone beyond material aimed at beginners. The truth is, there aren’t that many. The Deep Heart of Witchcraft, by David Salisbury, is one I’ve recommended in the past. Now I’ll be adding Traditional Witchcraft and the Path to the Mysteries by Mélusine Draco.

The journey that is described within its pages is both symbolic and literal. It advocates embarking on a walk from where a great river meets the sea, back along its course past the estuary and urban sprawl, through water meadows, dark woods, and up into the hills to the original source. You can read the book and visualise the journey – but it would be far better to travel out into the real environment and experience nature in the raw. The book explains what the different kinds of environment can symbolise and also how different types of geology and environment can affect us psychologically and spiritually. As Melusine says: “Observing Nature is an equally valid expression of spirituality as meditation within the Circle.”

There are exercises to do, meditations to perform and questions to answer along the way. However, the only answers you will get are the ones you find yourself as you search for your own path and your own truth about the inner mysteries of witchdom.  Although Traditional Witchcraft and the Path to the Mysteries is aimed at traditional witches in the style of British Old Craft, I would say that the lessons offered within its pages are applicable to witches of other schools too. I am an eclectic Wiccan, yet I would happily recommend this book to other Wiccans training towards their second degree or even beyond. Reading it has certainly given me the urge to embark on a Great Walk – using a term from the book On Walking – travelling lightly on foot along a river from sea to source.”

For those who have not made a serious study of traditional British Old Craft the content will not anything new but those who have come to it well-schooled have come away with the idea that the book was written for them personally.  I doubt if this one will ever hit the best-seller lists but at the end of the day it was decided it was a title that needed to be written because it might be a guide for those who want to understand what will be expected of them should they choose to begin the journey.

Traditional Witchcraft and the Path to the Mysteries is published by Moon Books as part of the Traditional Witchcraft series.   For more information go to www.moon-books.net

 

 

 

The Story Behind …

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 important as the published book itself …

Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival

 The idea for Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival: A magical anthropology was originally sparked off by that old in-joke of the late Michael Howard’s concerning the ‘Celtic Potato Test’ in which he highlighted the number of pagan publications that repeated the myth that the one of the Celts’ sacred plants they brought to Britain was the potato!  Over the years it became evident that these historical inaccuracies were permeating contemporary pagan publishing and perpetuating mis-information for the generations to come.

Witchcraft has a fascinating history but no-one can trace their antecedents back to the Stone Age, and at best what we have now is a watered-down version of primitive shamanism that is nevertheless often easily recognisable from ancient European cave paintings.  Witchcraft and shamanism probably ran in tandem with the developing culture of these islands and would have reflected (but not controlled) the beliefs of the indigenous population.  As anthropologist Francis Pryor explained in Britain BC:

It is my contention that the influences of British pre-Roman cultures are still of fundamental importance to modern British society … The six millennia of insular development gave British culture a unique identity and strength that was able to survive the tribulations posed by the Roman Conquest, and the folk movements of the post-Roman Migration Period, culminating in the Danish raids, the Danelaw and of course the Norman Conquest of 1066.

And it was his subsequent comment that according to his research, all the Romans can take credit for was wiping out a 10,000-year old island culture quite unlike any other in the ancient world, which gave me food for thought.  So … just as not all members of today’s Church are members of the priesthood, not all of the indigenous peoples were witches; and just because something is ancient doesn’t mean to say that it was viewed as ‘sacred’.  And burial sites were not necessarily places of worship. Yes, there are many tenuous strands that reach back into the mists of time but more often than not if we give a good tug, the threads come away in our hand.

Magical ability itself is a very tenuous skill that needs to link to its own original roots to work successfully; we need to be able to tease the strands from the tangled skein of history to trace the power back to its source.  So began a fascinating journey back into our pagan past to discover where the various different threads became woven into the magical chain.  Yes, it took a long time to write but in the process it was possible to correct many of the misconceptions, dis-information and downright deliberate inaccuracies and restore some sort of form of magical chronology to the beliefs of our Craft forebears.

Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival is published by Moon Books as part of the Traditional Witchcraft series.   For more information go to www.moon-books.net

Blog Reviews …

PAGAN PORTALS: CANDLE MAGIC by Lucya Starza

From time to time I will be featuring reviews of books by other authors that are complimentary to traditional British Old Craft and the Khemetic Mysteries, and which I feel are recommended or essential reading material.  For example:

PAGAN PORTALS: CANDLE MAGIC by Lucya Starza

It would be easy to say this is a delightful little book for beginners – but Lucya Starza packs so much information into 25,000 words that it qualifies as a ‘must-have’ introduction to the fascinating subject of candle magic. I particularly like the down-to- earth, chatty approach that reads like a casual conversation around the kitchen table – by candle light, of course. Candle magic is one of the simplest, yet one of the oldest, most powerful forms of spell-casting and an essential addition to any witch’s toolbox of tricks – so if you want to discover more about the glittering, shimmering, flickering, dancing world of candle magic then this is the book for you.

Since its publication I’ve also added it to the list of recommended reading in the Coven of the Scales Arcanum course, and often refer to it in my own books as the best treatment of the subject since the late Michael Howard’s Practical Candle Magic, which is now out of print. Lucya Starza often hosts candle magic sessions in London and if you want to find out more about this fascinating aspect of witchcraft go to her Bad Witch blog … see cover picture above.

ISBN: 978-1-78535-043-6 :  published by Moon-Books :  112 Pages: Price £6.99

The Story Behind …

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 important as the published book itself …

Traditional Witchcraft for Woods & Forests

As I’d already published Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore (ignotus press), which had said everything I needed to say about our native trees, it was extremely difficult to come up with a new slant for the Tradition Witchcraft series. Woodland was where I first had my first mystic experiences and there was no shortage of information if I came at the idea from a more esoteric standpoint. Therefore the fourth in the series was written as Traditional Witchcraft for Woods and Forests: A Witch’s Guide to the Woodland with Guided Meditations & Pathworking.

Woodland is a world that provides endless doorways and portals into Otherworld and since ancient times, woods have been places of sacred groves and nemorous temples. In fact, woods and forests have played a mystical role in all cultures where trees once dominated the landscape, so it’s not surprising that these sylvan worlds provide a fascinating backdrop for traditional witchcraft.  And yet many witches are not comfortable when the trees close in around them should they wander too far from the path.  Tree-lore is an integral part of a witch’s stock in trade since trees provided food, warmth and shelter – and there is nothing more evocative that the smell of burning wood and leaves that accompanies the fine veil of misty blue vapour that hovers between the trees in the autumn.

Or as a friend with whom I’d shared many of those woodland walks, wrote: “Took the dogs to the woods yesterday and the bluebells are out; the perfume and the rippling blue haze was absolutely gorgeous. I love the woods; they still hold that scary, unpredictable magic feeling. What might be lurking behind the next tree? The movement of the branches causing a flickering dappled sunshine effect. All in the imagination … until in the silence a pheasant suddenly goes up and you nearly pooh your pants!”

Being a creature of the Wild Wood, the author does not reflect the modern ‘theme park’ attitude to the woodlands and hopefully, this book will encourage a new generation of witches to have the courage to follow the age-old observances (in spirit if not in practice) and help return power to the genius loci of the forest.

Traditional Witchcraft for Woods and Forests: A Witch’s Guide to the Woodland with Guided Meditations & Pathworking is published by Moon Books as part of the Traditional Witchcraft series.   For more information go to www.moon-books.net