Monday, 27 July 2015

New books to check out!!

Pagan Portals - Nature Mystics, by Rebecca Beattie.



Tracing the Literary Origins of Modern Paganism. 

Pagan Portals –

Nature Mystics traces the lives and work of ten writers who contributed to the cultural environment that allowed Modern Paganism to develop and flourish throughout the twentieth century. John Keats, Mary Webb, Thomas Hardy, Sylvia Townsend Warner, D.H. Lawrence, Elizabeth von Arnim, W.B. Yeats, Mary Butts, J.R.R. Tolkien and E. Nesbit.



Absolutely delighted to receive a copy of the Shamanic Handbook so watch out for the review once I get through reading that. Looks fabulous.

The Shamanic Handbook of Sacred Tools and Ceremonies, Barbara Meiklejohn-Free, Flavia Kate Peters


The Shamanic Handbook of Sacred Tools and Ceremonies is the perfect companion book for all budding and well-practiced shamans, wise men and women who partake in sacred ceremonial, ritual and healing work.

It also serves as an excellent introduction into the practical side of earth-centred traditions. As you begin your path as a Shaman, of the 'One who knows', your journey will be one of remembrance as you connect with the oldest and most holistic traditions of the ancestors.


Thursday, 25 June 2015

Pagan Christian Planet Earth book review by JadeM

A Pagan/Christian
Conversation: First Steps in Inter-faith Dialogue 

  Pagan Christian Planet Earth would definitely appeal to students of Religion, practicing Pagans and Christians and anyone interested in dipping a toe in to some Spiritual traditions that they may not have previous knowledge of. The book is the result of a conference which took place at the Ammerdown Centre when a group of nearly forty Pagans and Christians were invited to take part in a ‘Conversation’ in a place dedicated to dialogue, reconciliation and renewal. The hope was that the participants could explore some of the prejudices and preconceptions, learn more about each other, and find common ground in ‘Celebrating Planet Earth’, as the event was called. 

  I found it a thoroughly engaging read with some brilliant concepts and grounded solutions for anyone looking to resolve any conflict they may have with the idea of bridging the gap between Paganism and Christianity. It is presented in chapters each written by influential folks who are currently living and breathing their faith, lovingly edited by Denise Cush.

  Contributions have been made to the book by; 

  Philip Carr-Gomm, Alison Eve Cudb, Denise Cush, Graham Harvey, Steve Hollinghurst, Simon Howell, Viannah Rain, Philip Shallcrass, Bruce Stanley, Tess Ward and Liz Williams

  What works for one person may not be ideal for another to follow lock stock and barrel but there could be hope for those who find they have a foot in two disciplines simultaneously, and during the course of reading this text it becomes clear that there are those who are actively encouraging this as a spiritual way. There is no reason why we can't ascend the same mountain but travel different paths to get there!

  There is some very interesting dialogue comparing key words associated with Paganism and Christianity in the fears and prejudices chapter. Overall a focus on shining a light on the similarities instead of the differences in the practices of Pagans, their connection with Nature and culture, and how important our human relationships are, and that the very act of talking and living together in a sacred space can bring faith into to the level of humanity. The contributors present the idea that regardless of individual personal beliefs we all share that common space of Earth. In the discourse into the Forest Church movement by its founders we are introduced to some of its concepts, connecting to nature, use of outdoor rituals, the language of birds, the necessary act of foraging and restoration of tired minds by spending time in nature.

  There is an exploration of Christianity and historical witchcraft having shared heritage, and a potted history of Gardener with an introduction to the background of the system of Wicca for those interested in its origins, a beautiful description of the roles of god and goddess and the form of spirituality which reconnects us with the world around us. There are also interesting discussion points about the links between fantasy literature and paganism, and the shared landscape of Britain.

  Simon Howells chapter offers lots of suggestions as to how we can in our modern age, evoke a naive spirit, one that promotes living harmoniously alongside each other regardless of our spiritual beliefs with the shared goal of reclaiming the gift of the imagination. I particularly enjoyed Philip Carr Gomm's chapter in which he emphasises appreciation of the diversity in beliefs and our right to choose a path. His is a very convincing narrative exploring the idea of being able to practice the two forms of Christian worship and Pagan worship simultaneously without the need to merge druidry and christianity.

  I really like the ideas presented in the text of interfaith ceremonies and ritual as performance as a way of Christians and Pagans coming to terms with the idea of magic ritual together. Towards the end of the book there are some beautiful descriptions of ritual enactments and of celebrations which occur during seasonal changes. There is a strong emphasis on the use of storytelling and myth in ritual and creating rituals using inspiration rather than rehearsing sacred text over and over, thus keeping the essence alive. Some great descriptions of harnessing symbols, creating ritual anywhere, ritualisation of symbols and a fabulous explanation of the uses of the circle in ritual.
All in all this title is a delight from start to finish.
JadeM
25th June 2015 

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Book of Destiny

The Book of Destiny


Authors Barbara Meiklejohn-Free and Flavia Kate Peters

Be it in your working, romantic or physical life, wise words of wisdom walk with you, to provide the answers. 

The Book of Destiny is a divination tool, incorporating common sayings with their meaning, a focus word, an image and a message for the reader. There are 111 messages all based on the original divination but in a context that will help the reader today, in their everyday life. Beautifully Illustrated, The Book of Destiny is like a portable 'oracle', always at the ready with wisdom for the moment in hand.

Paperback £9.99 || $16.95
May 29, 2015. 978-1-78279-945-0

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Do Angels really exist- if so what actually are they? By Marian Matthews



 Is our reality exactly what we have been taught it is? The answer is, of course, no. How do we know this? Because all around us are super clues to the way things really are. For instance, other beings or entities seem to be sharing our reality with us. Angels, aliens, elementals, and many other types of being are seen or said to exist by many people.

 Of all these, the most talked about seem to be Angels. They are a constant presence in Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions and a stalwart amongst many alternative thinkers and practitioners.  What do they look like? Well people see them in different ways. The Victorian image of a person in white with feather wings is what usually comes to mind to those of us who grew up in a Christian culture. Muslim Angels are different however. They are said to generally see them as energy, which is exactly what most “alternative” practitioners say.

Angels, of course, are special. They are entwined within our history and culture, both mainstream and alternative, but it is perhaps time to look back again at who and what they actually are and where they come from.

 The first question is, if they do exist, why we can rarely actually physically see them? Well, they are supposed to exist on a finer plane of vibration than we do. The questions are though, are they just a different branch of Earth or other planetary evolution, or are they messengers from a creator God designed and sent to humanity to help fulfil his purpose? Or something else completely different? 

What actually are they?

Theories about Angels

Talking to many people there are several different, sometimes contradictory, views on what Angels actually are;

*Some people believe that Angels are just a collection of beings responsible for the harmonious organization of the inhabited universe. They help mankind to promote this harmony. Where they come from is another matter.
*They may also just be an alien race helping mankind for its own purposes.
*Perhaps they are a separate species co-existing on Earth with us, whose vibrational differences mean that our eyes and equipment cannot usually detect them.
*Some people understand them to be the thoughts of God.
*Some people believe that some people return from an afterlife, in human form, to help mankind. (Earth Angels)
*Others believe that they were created by the Divine Mother spirit or our Christian biblical God to watch over and assist mankind.
* Their very name is a clue, Angelos means messenger -they are sometimes perceived to be messengers from our creator, working with a Universal Mind to help us raise our vibrational levels and link in with the bigger picture for the higher good of all.

Evidence

Until we really understand the big picture of reality we, as limited beings, cannot understand which, if any, of the above are wholly true statements. All I do know, though, whilst some people do doubt their very existence, is that some people do see, or work with, Angels. As they are beyond science we can only look at anecdotal evidence. The testimonies below represent what many people feel or understand.

-Some people think that they are just figments of our imagination.

For instance - DR said, I do not believe in things just because they are said to exist or other people believe in them. There are a number of spiritual precepts that I can believe in because they have affected me or I have experienced them. However, I have never met an angel and, therefore, have a great deal of trouble believing them. Angels come from the deeper levels of the spiritual canon and fulfil a need that exists in people to feel that they are not alone or without some kind of invisible support. Belief, however, does not make things real other than for the individual. I would suggest that angels come from ancient mystical and spiritual traditions. The belief that they exist is and must be a matter of imagination."

-Some people think that they may exist, but are not what we think they are.
 For instance - JL said "We anthropomorphize mystical forces to give our lives meaning."
Anthropomorphize means- to ascribe human characteristics to things not human. Unless I have misunderstood, this acknowledges that there are mystical forces there in existence but, in the same way that we see pet behaviours and judge what they do in human terms, we may be putting a recognizable quasi human form on forces that are actually beyond our understanding. Interesting slant, he has a very good point.

-Some people do believe in their existence beyond doubt.
 For instance- SH definitely believes in them- in her own words “Years ago I would have been sceptical. I had never had any experience with them or even had an inkling to bring them into my life”

She now reports seeing the Angels as colours but often just feels and works with their positive energies. She feels that she is bringing people messages and healing energies from the angelic realm.
Her experience is not unique, many people discuss similar stories. The anecdotal evidence for theie existence is quite substantial. I have also had reported to me Angels gathering around people’s beds when they are suffering critical illness. There is also the old story, of course, of the Russian astronauts seeing Angels in the sky, but the story being suppressed at the time due to their governments not believing in them. None of this is provable of course, but many people have faith that they do exist in one form or another.

So, Angels, are they messengers from God or an intelligent designer of some sort? Could they be a different form of evolution, alien entities, or mystical forces that we have given shape as we be do not really understand them? What is the truth of the matter?
As ever, we will only really know the truth when we know the complete big picture.

Marian
www.marianmatthews.com






Thursday, 15 January 2015

Magic in Christianity - From Jesus to the Gnostics book review by Jade Moore

Magic in Christianity - From Jesus to the Gnostics  

by Robert Conner


Looking for evidence and research that the Church has ties to Magic? After reading this book I challenge anyone to argue with the ideas presented in it that Christianity is not rooted in Magic!  Yes everyone has heard the "it was stolen from the pagans" cry but to read this text presented so clearly was an absolute joy. Robert compares early Christian texts with its Pagan and Jewish counterparts and puts forward a very convincing discourse that Jesus was likely a practitioner of Magic and that the very name of Jesus itself can be, and has been, used like a magical spell to perform exorcisms and some other very interesting rites. What's in a name indeed? He tells us that Divine names have been strung together over the years creating a mishmash in a cultural cooking pot which resulted in the ideas that are prevalent today in Religion.

This fascinating text would appeal to students of magic, comparative religion and and those who want to get to the  beginnings of the Christian faith. It is an extremely well written book of extraordinary depth and clarity, and personally I have come away from reading it with a completely different perspective than I had beforehand.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter which presented the idea of the resurrection of Christ as a spectral apparition rather than a physical bodily sighting. Unlike some books in which the authors wax lyrical about their viewpoints without any references to other people's work in a similar field Robert's book has an admirable glossary from which the interested reader could investigate his ideas further. 

Is there a distinction between Magic and Religion? The core of the text that the author argues that there is no clear distinction between them and Magic is Religion for the Individual and the idea that Religion is Magic for the masses. That the Priesthood - Religious Seers, Soothsayers etc, their Odes are Songs which become incantations or spells that can enchant those under its influence.  He discusses the common place act of people being sacrificed so that their spirits may be used to carry out specific tasks.


Book review by Jade Moore 2015