Practical Astrology for Wiccans and Pagans

By Ivo Dominguez Jr.
Weiser Books 2016

I’ll admit straight up, this book beat me. Mainly because I know nothing about astrology and this is not a beginners book. I knew this going in and assumed I’d be able to figure it out but no… I’d suggest being a bit familiar with charts and terminology before reading this book.

The book did come highly recommended to me by a very popular and well respected magician. If you are experienced with the basics there is quite a lot of information on offer. I just need a simpler introduction and then to reread this book.

My friend Morgan Drake Eckstein recently wrote a blog post on the importance of magicians learning astrology.

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Pomba Gira and the Quimbanda of Mbumba Nzila

By Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold
Scarlet Imprint 2011

This book has been on my radar for quite a while but as I have plenty of unread books here I always gave it a by. After several months of struggling to complete a couple of books I threw the towel in and bought a copy.

I can’t begin to describe what it is about Pomba Gira that attracts me. What little you find on the web does not paint a pretty picture, with epithets such as the Devil’s mistress and warnings about the uninitiated and untrained working with this spirit it should have put me off. Yet, like a moth drawn to the flame I kept checking this book out and regularly searching the web to see if there was anything that would satisfy my curiosity.

Unfortunately, there is very little about Pomba Gira or Exu in English on the Internet. If you can read Portuguese good, otherwise your choices are very limited. The daily Portuguese lessons from 15 years ago when I worked there are of little use now. I can just barely ask for specific tools and order a round of beer now in Portuguese.

First, I enjoyed Nicholaj’s writing style. Plain and direct which made it for me an enjoyable and easy read, unlike the previous 3 books that I gave upon. One reason I’ve not read anything and suppressed interest in ATR’s and regional variations is that in someway I didn’t want to be seen as some privileged white European jumping on the ‘bandwagon’. Nicholaj briefly touches on this in the book when he traces the influences in Catholicism, traditional European witchcraft along with roots in the Congo. Even highlighting similarities with Polish folk stories of vampires.

There is plenty of warnings throughout the book about doing any workings with Pomba Gira. Some simple workings are given but proceed with caution. It would be better to be introduced to Pomba Gira by an initiate of the cult and then build up a relationship with her first. Failure to do this could result in burnt fingers, or worse.

Quimbanda is not a system you can casually practice, there is a high level of commitment and involvement required. Again, there are warnings about this.

There is an extensive section in the book covering some of the more common manifestations of Pomba Gira, with her history, Pontos Contados and Ponto Riscado’s. There is also a brief Glossary with the translation and explanations of the Brasilian Portuguese terms used.

Despite my initial reservations about I really enjoyed this book and my only complaint was that it was over all too soon. There is a dearth of information in English on Pomba Gira and this book will leave you wanting more. When I worked in Basil 15 years ago I did not enjoy the country, now I’m hoping for an assignment there in the near future and might just dust off the old language course that I never did much with.

If you think Quimbanda is for you, a good starting point would be to have a consulta with Nicholaj.

My review is based on the PDF that Scarlet Imprint sends free with every book purchase. When I receive the book I’ll update the review with some additional pictures.

If you wish to read more, Peter Gray’s essay on Pomba Gira is excellent

Salvé Pomba Gira Rainha!

 

Pomba Gira and the Quimbanda of Mbumba NzilaPontosPontos

22 Paths of Imperfection

22 Paths of Imperfection (a flight manual for single winged angels) by Matt Laws

Hadean Press

This is a small format book with 119 pages. It’s perfect for dropping in a bag or stuffing in the back pocket of your jeans. Initially I wasn’t so sure of the small format as the binding is quite tight and I had to forcibly fold the pages back. After a few sections though it grew on me quickly and its actually perfect for what Matt intended with this book. After all a flight manual should be carried with you and used. Not left on a bookshelf.

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This book starts with a very personnel forward about the problems the author has faced in life. As somebody who considered suicide at least once a week for over 30 years this hit a chord with me and I instantly felt connected the the book and the author.

I can see myself constantly referring to this book every time I’ve got 10 or 15 minutes spare. Read about 1 card, refresh my memory on it and contemplate the story Matt presented. Perfect for the bus, train, stuck in traffic etc… This is exactly the book I’ve been needing on Tarot, though, this book just covers the major arcana. I hope there will be a follow up soon covering the minor arcana.

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Each card is presented over a couple of pages though some cover more than others, such as the High Priestess which is 7 pages long. Initially you have a story on the card and its path on the Tree of life, then the Hebrew letter associated with that path and further discussion on the symbolism and and how one mingles with the other. It works brilliantly for me, I remember things better if there is a tale associated with the information. For example, Matt describes the High Priestess a bit like a rollercoaster ride. It can be fun or terrifying yet at the end everything is okay. The Hebrew letter Gimel is associated with the High Priestess. Gimel is the Camel, and a Camel travels from one good place to another, often through harsh conditions and terrain. However, the Camel has his built in water supply so he can survive the journey and face the hardships along the way. This use of allegory just hits the spot triggering all the right synapses in my brain to help me remember.

I was expecting to read this book in one sitting however the information is presented in such a way that I’ve found myself reading about each card and then putting the book down while I digest it.

I can’t rate this book highly enough. I’ve 5 books on Tarot here but none of them have really helped me in the way this one has. Sure I’ve learnt something from each of them but at times it was a dry hard slog. This little book is a gem and one that will never find a home on my bookshelf. If its not on my desk, it’ll be in my handbag.

The Hermetic Tablet, Journal of Ritual Magic

The Hermetic Tablet, Lulu 2014/15

Journal of Western Ritual Magic

Edited by Nick Farrell

A different review, this is of a bi-annual journal. To date there has been 4 issues of this journal. The first being published at the Autumn Equinox 2014. Subsequent issues roughly follow the solstices (Winter 2014, Summer and Winter 2015). The journal is available in paperback or hardcover.

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Writers and articles in Volume 1…

Jake Stratton-Kent – The Conjuration of Nebiros
Mike Magee – Kenneth Grant and the Serpent of Fire
Sandra Tabatha Cicero – Beloved Isis: Invoking the divine famine in the Golden Dawn
Aaron Leitch – Michael Workings
Christine Zalewski – Ritual timing and preparation
Nick Farrell – Theurgy
Jayne Gibson – A Ritual evocation of Isis and Nephthys and the 19th path on the tree of life
Harry Wendrich – Manipura and the opening of the third eye
Alex Sumner – Non-divinatory uses of the Tarot
Carman Lawrick – Cerberus: Guard dog from Hell
Steve Nichols – TSAKLI – the totemic Tibetan Tarot
Cynthia Caton – What is done cannot be undone
Jorge Quinones – Commentary on the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram
Dr Alfonso Rica – An ancient Hittite ritual for abundance


Writers and articles in Volume 2…

Jake Stratton-Kent – What is Goetia?
Mike Magee – How Western magic went wrong with Tantra
Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero – Consecration of a Mercury talisman
Aaron Leitch – Magical offerings in Western Occultism
Christine Zalewski – Beyond the Grave
Nick Farrell – Dark Gods
Jayne Gibson – The four elements and their implements
Samuel Scarborough – Ars Suffimentum: The art of Incense
Harry Wendrich – Anahata: The investigation of perfection
Michael Straw – Kernunnos: The horned one
Cynthia Caton – Profile Josephine McCarthy
Angela Seraphim – Online occultism: Social media and secrecy
Eric V. Sisco – The Alpha et Omega ceremony of consecration of a temple and Ceremony of installation of the chiefs


Writers and articles in Volume 3…

Jake Stratton-Kent – Other magicians and the Goetia
Mike Magee – The beginnings of AMOOKOS
Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero – Consecration of a Venus talisman
Aaron Leitch – Restoring the Enochian heptarchia
Nick Farrell – The return of the fates
Jayne Gibson – Consecration of a Cabalistic Talisman
Tony Toneatto – Hekate: Compassionate goddess of the highest mind
Michael Straw – Traditional Wicca as a spiritual path
Samuel Scarborough – A Golden Dawn healing ritual: the Rosicrucian art of healing
Tony Fuller – Golden Dawn a small part of a solution
Wynn Westcott – An essay on the ancient mysteries
Ina Cüsters-Van Bergen – The shield of Heracles: The spiritual task of the ego
Morgan Drake Eckstein – Evocation of the four sons of Horus
Carman Lawrick – The lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram and the great work
Christine Zalewski – Calvary crosses and their influences within the Enochian tablets


Writers and articles in Volume 4…

Jake Stratton-Kent – Necromancy
Mike Magee – House Gods
Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero – Found perfect before the gods: Osiris and the Golden Dawn
Aaron Leitch – The Holy Guardian Angel
Nick Farrell – Following the dawn: The magical life of Christine Zalewski
Jayne Gibson – Through the power of the sun with a winter solstice ceremony
Tony Toneatto – Athena: Goddess of Hermatic gnosis
Tony Fuller – A small Golden Dawn war
Wynn Westcott – The Devil and evil spirits according to the Bible and ancient Hebrew Rabbis
Ina Cüsters-Van Bergen – Spiritual developments of paranormal talents
Morgan Drake Eckstein – The four royal stars
Cynthia Caton – Death is for the living
João Pedro Feliciano – Hermetic liturgies: Agathodaimon
David Nez – Familiar Spirits
Christine Zalewski – Jack Taylor: The colourful Magus


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As can be seen just from the list of authors and articles it is very varied with many leading occultist’s and a range of topic’s. Each edition is 250+ pages, often many more. Several editions also contain reviews of recent books. I just couldn’t do just to the 1095 pages (yes, I counted them) of excellent writing in 1000 words (over half of that listing the contents, so I’ll stick to just basic’s. I have many favourite authors in the list, such as Aaron Leitch, Jake Stratton-Kent, Nick Farrell, the Cicero’s etc… but I also discover new authors with each edition.

Paper

The quality of Lulu’s hardbacks (perhaps somebody else with the paperback editions could comments on the binding?) is good with the journals being solidly put together and feel like they will last many years. From the image you can see however that the paper stock used does vary quite a bit. Normally its a cream/ off white coloured paper but one edition I received has a bright white paper.

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The typography and layout is typical of Nick’s books with a flair for decoration similar to books from the late Victorian period. For the subject matter at hand I think it suits the work. There is many diagrams and illustrations throughout the editions that the authors have included with their articles, whether it’s describing a layout of a working, images of deity’s to work with or diagrams of tools used etc…

A recent article that I enjoyed was by Samuel Scarborough on the art of making incense. Samuel included tables with his article and an extensive bibliography. Also, Tony Toneatto’s article on Hekate, a Goddess that I’m very interested in. However, there is many more articles that I’ve enjoyed. The Hermetic Tablet is something I pick up again and again. I deliberately do not read each edition through but pick out articles that interest me, read them, probably read them again, this time taking notes and then notice other topics that have piqued my interest and schedule a quite hour to go through them. Reading the journals this way keeps me going back to all 4 of the journals and discovering gems a new or rediscovering one’s to reread and new practices to incorporate into my daily practice.

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I’m sure you can see that I highly value the work of the authors along with Nick and Paola for editing and creating each volume. If your savvy you’ll wait for a good discount code from Lulu but even without that I’d buy these journals.

Icelandic Magic, Aims, Tools and Techniques of The Icelandic Sorcerers

Icelandic Magic, Aims, Tools and Techniques of The Icelandic Sorcerers by Christopher Alan Smith. Avalonia 2015

First, this is not a book on practical magic. The author examines six manuscripts and discusses the workings and history of magic in Iceland.

Despite my disappointment of not learning some new ancient and arcane magic the book itself was an extremely enjoyable read. The first book in over 20 years I’ve completed in one day.

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To preserve the symbols the author has taken the unusual step of providing facsimiles of the staves and runic script’s used. There is however some staves that could be used today, such as *ÍB 383 4to* from the **Huld** manuscript, where the two staves are to be written down and worn over the left breast as an aid to focusing the mind. Or the ‘terror’ stave from the same manuscript.

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Clearly, most of the magic in the book relates to the time (approx 1500 AD to 1900 AD) when the manuscripts were written and the the circumstances of the people. Prior to the 16th century Iceland had been a Catholic nation after the forced conversion imposed in 1000 AD. The Catholic church seems to have taken a liberal view of the ‘folk’ practices as long as it did not harm the church. With the change to Lutheranism in the 16th century ‘witchcraft’ and practitioners of the old ways were persecuted.

Unlike magic in the Western Tradition that has very specific guidelines for workings, timings and implements this is rarely present in Icelandic magic. If anything, it seems almost too simple. Carve a couple of staves and your done! However, Christopher makes no attempt to make this a practical book on Icelandic. However, in Chapter 9 he does gives some examples, not that many of them are very practicable in todays world.

What was obvious in this book is that the magical practice of Iceland is very different from Europe. No circles or other devices for protection were used. No demons or angels called upon. Very few special implements were required, with most workings requiring no special tools. It appears that purely the magical stave, an incantation (most of the magicians own making) and his will power were all that is required.

Terror Stave

It’s an area that has had little research done but the author is working on a further book where he hopes to catalogue the magical staves and possibly discern a common thread amongst them so that new workings may be devised.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. A nice way to enjoy a quiet Sunday and learn something new.