Tag Archives: review

Ritual Book of Herbal Spells

Anonymous review of Ritual Book of Herbal Spells: A Collection of Unusual Spells From the Hither and Yon, Incorporating the Use of Herbs. by Aima in the Bkwyrm archive.

This book has a simple cover, no frills, and is to the point. It’s a book written for the use of herbs during rituals.

It was written during the 1970’s which in itself, is not a bad thing. There are several well written and useful books published during that time, involving the Occult, the Craft, and spiritual matters. However, “Ritual Book of Herbal Spells” is not one of them.

Much of the information for rituals in this book was obtained from oral legends and interpretations of Voodoo Masters and Qabalists, as stated in the foreword, but alas, like many legends and oral rituals passed down from generation to generation; the original ritual or reading becomes garbled and the meaning lost, such as the King James version of the Bible. The majority of “Ritual Book of Herbal Spells” was meant for the “hexing” of someone, or the removal of “hexes”; using Voodoo and Qabalist rituals, which are seen throughout the book. However; there are a few useful passages on the uses of absinthe and the like, just not many.

If someone wanted a book involving rituals using herbs, I would not recommend this one, unless the reader was looking for a good laugh.

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Rune Magic

Ingeborg Svea Norden reviews Rune Magic by Donald Tyson in the Bkwyrm archive.

The author is a ceremonial magician, more at home with the Qabala than with anything Norse–and it shows in his book. Tyson’s rituals read as if he’d stolen them from a Judeo-Christian magical group and substituted Norse god-names for the originals. His interpretations of the runes also tend toward black-and-white thinking, more Biblical than Norse. (He translates Thurisaz as “devil”, saying that the rune “signifies a bad man or woman” in a reading.) The book also contains some rather poor poetry which Tyson supposedly channeled in an attempt to “communicate with each rune”.

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Runic States

Ingeborg Svea Norden reviews Runic States: a Shamanic Perception of Quantum Realities by Kevin Steffens in the Bkwyrm archive.

Steffens seems interested in making the runes relevant and understandable to a modern audience–which is a good thing in itself, although his approach isn’t. It’s hard to take the author of a magic book seriously when he constantly alludes to science fiction and pop culture; it’s also hard to accept someone who ignores some basic beliefs of the culture he draws on (like the moon being male and the sun female in Norse tradition). To make matters worse, Steffens makes some very sexist remarks about the role of women in both ancient and modern cultures; this alone will offend some female readers.

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Sacred Animals

Phil Hine reviews Sacred Animals by Gordon MacLellan in the Bkwyrm archive.

For many people, working with ‘animal spirits’ seems to be nothing more than fantasising about a ‘power animal’ encountered during a single pathworking, and seems to bear little or no relation to animals in ‘real life’. Fortunately, Sacred Animals demonstrates that there’s a bit more to it than that. In this immensely practical book, Gordon MacLellan shows us how we might form relationships with the animals of the Otherworld through stillness, masks, dance and dream. He also stresses the importance of becoming active in the world, as he so eloquently puts it “- action inspired by spirit.” Sacred Animals contains a wealth of practical exercises & hints for both individuals and people working in groups on a wide range of issues – from ‘Making Things’ to Conservation issues. This is a delightful book which I have no hesitation in recommending highly to readers.

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Scream for Jeeves

Julianus reviews Scream for Jeeves: A Parody by P H Cannon in the Bkwyrm archive.

P.G. Wodehouse created one of the great duos in humour fiction in the form of Bertie Wooster, the ultimate empty-headed British aristocrat, and his long-suffering omni-competent gentleman’s gentleman, Jeeves. Through eleven novels and 34 short stories they fell in and out of some of the most convoluted, absurd and delightful adventures in literature.

Now, imagine if you will that Jeeves and Wooster have been dropped into three stories by H.P. Lovecraft.

Worth the price if only to hear the line, “Most eldritch, sir.”

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Secret Texts

Julianus reviews Secret Texts: The Literature of Secret Societies edited by Mary Mulvey Roberts and Hugh Ormsby-Lennon in the Bkwyrm archive.

Looking at the title, one would expect this to be a collection of manifestos, instructions, rituals and other primary source documents relating to Masonry, Rosicrucianism, Illuminism, the Golden Dawn and other Western esoteric bodies. Naturally, in the great tradition of “blinds to deceive the profane,” this is nothing of the sort. What we have here is a collection of essays dealing mostly with history and literary criticism of authors who were somehow involved in esoteric movements– usually in the most tenuous fashion. As such the book is mostly an exercise in the academic practice of pontification by “authorities” who have no connection whatever to their subjects, and only the vaguest inkling of the complexities involved, mostly because they read each others’ flawed commentaries rather than the primary sources. Certainly they would never stoop to actually asking the advice of any modern secret societies.

That said, I must report that there are a few good things waiting here for the diligent reader. Ingeborg Kohn’s article on Joséphin [Sar Merodack] Peladan is an excellent introduction to this important figure in Nineteenth Century art and occultism, and Paul Rich’s study of Kipling’s interest in Freemasonry and its effect on his work (especially in Kim) is a real gem. These are balanced however, by such effluvia as R. A. Gilbert, who really must have a commission from the United Grand Lodge of England to make Freemasonry seem as dull and pointless as humanly possible. His piece on “The Golden Dawn in Popular Fiction” is a monument to the Art and Science of Missing the Point.

Sacramentally, dilucid, in fine, then, we must consider these texts to be, on the whole, extremely un-secret.

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Phil Hine reviews Seidways: Shaking, Swaying and Serpent Mysteries by Jan Fries in the Bkwyrm archive.

I must say that I found Jan Fries’ new book, “Seidways,” hard going. Not that this is any fault of Jan’s – but each chapter gave me so much ‘food for thought’ that I had to keep putting the book down to give my brain a rest! Once again, Jan Fries shows himself to be one of the most innovate and creative of contemporary magical authors, and Seidways is, in my opinion, his best effort yet. This is the definitive study of magical trance states – brimming with information on the use of trance in different cultures, as well as a very ‘hands-on’ guide to exploring the ‘seething’ techniques which Jan has demonstrated at the Oxford Thelemic Symposium – and much more. This is the best book on practical magick that I have seen for some time. I really admire the way Jan ‘dances’ across the paradigms, blending historical accounts with contemporary personal accounts of trance states, drawing together perspectives as diverse as Japanese Shamanism to Crowley, NLP to the Typhonian Current. His perspective on the Finnish & Nordic magical practices is fascinating, and his stance on the ‘seidr – seething’ debate is equally instructive. Whilst the purists pick over the shards of history, Jan Fries has given us a very practical body of techniques which any practically-minded magician will be able to use. Buy it, you won’t be disappointed!

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