Tag Archives: books

Master of the Fearful Depths

Julianus reviews Master of the Fearful Depths by Patrick H Adkins in the Bkwyrm archive.

This book, along with its sequels “Lord of the Crooked Paths” and “Sons of the Titans,” form an attempt to translate Greek myth into fantasy fiction. They cover the reign of Kronos as ruler of the Gods and end with the boyhood of Zeus. The thing I really like here is that Adkins is actually writing about the Gods as the Greeks understood them rather than trying to explain them away as space aliens or mutants or some other such nonsense. While these books aren’t really great literature, they do a pretty good job and are worth picking up. It really is too bad the series ended prematurely since the next book would have to cover the War between the Olympians and the Titans, a great subject for a book if there ever was one.

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All of Austin’s ambitions, his hopes and dreams for the future, drowned in the fear that he would never escape this forest.

Matthew Lowes, Old Growth

Mastering Witchcraft

Bkwyrm reviews Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks & Covens by Paul Huson in the Bkwyrm archive.

One thing that ought to be made abundantly clear before any discussion of this book’s merits is that this is not a book about Wicca. It is not a guide to mastering the Wiccan religion. As surprising as it may seem to some people, Wiccans are not the only ones who practice witchcraft. This book is for those of us (whoops, gave myself away there) who practice witchcraft, but are not Wiccan.

Stewart Farrar really, really doesn’t like this book. He’s referred to it as “that amoral book”. And he’s right, in a way. This really is an amoral book. It talks about things that you won’t find in Silver RavenWolf’s introduction to Wicca materials. It covers love spells, destruction spells, curses, hexes, necromancy, initiation rituals, the various powers of a witch, and psychic protection. Definitely not for the faint of heart or easily frightened.

Frankly, this book is a great antidote to the sugar-dripping “white light” texts that seem to weigh down the bookstore shelves these days. It’s a very practical book, with very little sweetening, about what witchcraft is – as a practice, not as a religion – and what witches do. Well, what some witches do. This book really is amoral – it doesn’t presume to teach the reader any kind of magical ethics. And I like it all the better for that fact. Book after book rolls off the presses with magical ethics presented like the Ten Commandments – you can almost see Charlton Heston as Moses coming down off the mountain top, booming “An it harm none, do as thou wilt”. Arrrgh. Mr. deMille, I’m ready for my close-up. Huson isn’t interested in morality. He’s interested in witchcraft. In the foreword is the statement “We take no responsibility for the results you achieve, good or bad. Witchcraft is witchcraft. The seeds of success or destruction lie within you and you alone.” Mr. Huson is not kidding.

The book covers quite a lot. There’s information on the first steps one must take to become involved in witchcraft, with plenty of information on preliminary preparations and first steps. A chapter on divination, while not the best I’ve seen, is certainly adequate for a book not devoted to the topic. After the divination comes the no-hold-barred material: the love spells, and a section on countermagic and protection that gives Dion Fortune’s Psychic Self-Defense a run for it’s money. Vengeance and magical attacks are also covered in detail, which is where the reader is required to actually think about their own morality and form their own magical ethics. How horrible! A book that actually presents readers with information and tells them to make their own decisions! *Gasp* [sarcasm off]. The chapter on covens is really nothing new – how to find one, how to form one, how to avoid getting sucked into one you don’t want to join. It has two appendices – one on the planetary hours, and one on terms that may be unfamiliar to the “layman”. It also contains a short but scholarly bibliography with works from the sixteenth century on to modern times.

All in all, I was pretty impressed with this book. It’s occasionally hard to read, and a little dense. It does contain step-by-step instructions for those readers who choose to do certain spells and workings. The instructions are clear and easy to understand. I’d recommend this book pretty highly, if only to get a fresh view of witchcraft from the perspective of a non-Wiccan witch who actually knows what he’s talking about most of the time.

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Mr Spencer’s scones are legendary. Their ingredients are mixed in such perfect harmony that eating them obliterates all the obstacles to love that exist within one’s soul.

Mike Russell, Nothing Is Strange

The Magician of the Golden Dawn

Magdalene Meretrix reviews The Magician of the Golden Dawn: The Story of Aleister Crowley by Susan Roberts in the Bkwyrm archive.

Though this biography of Aleister Crowley is written in the style of a fictional novel, Roberts took great pains to avoid putting words in Crowley’s mouth. Roberts spent five years researching every available aspect of Crowley’s life. She interviewed Israel Regardie and Gerald Yorke. She read through the Yorke collection at the Warburg Institute – spending over five hundred hours reading the letters, diaries, typescripts and other unpublished materials contained in the collection. She travelled to Scotland to visit Crowley’s home, Boleskine. Finally she showed her finished product to Israel Regardie who wrote a foreword for her book, stating therein, “I am most impressed by Susan Robert’s portrayal of Crowley the man. It is an exciting book. Once begun, I rather fancy the reader will have considerable difficulty putting it down.”

I would have to agree with Regardie’s assessment. From the moment I picked up The Magician of the Golden Dawn I could do nothing else until I had finished the entire book. There were tender moments, embarrassing moments, victorious moments and tragic moments of Crowley’s life depicted in Roberts’ book. Robert’s writing style is captivating. I really felt as if I were reading about a living breathing human being.

Though Roberts writes in a novelistic style, none of the dialogue is manufactured. According to Roberts, “There is not a word of dialogue in this book that Crowley himself did not write or say.” In attempting to stay as close to the truth as humanly possible, Roberts portrays a man who was sometimes ‘saint,’ sometimes ‘sinner’ but always a genius. At times his genius seems to be masked by poor judgement, but never is he deified or vilified by Roberts.

Roberts even does a good job of explaining some of the basic tenets of Crowley’s philosophy, the Law of Thelema, in a manner comprehensible to the layman. To assist her explications, Roberts includes a short glossary of occult terms as well as a bibliography and index at the end of her book.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a biography of Crowley that is not based on yellow journalism and sensationalism. Also, unlike Regardie’s excellent biography of Crowley, “The Eye in the Triangle,” this is a breezy read that the average reader should be able to finish in a week or less.

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the drugs they use to control my pain and mood sometimes make me see things.

Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay