rev-SigilWitchery, Laura Tempest Zakroff, Llewellyn Publications Sigil magic of one form or another is a rather common and popular form of mystical expression within occult circles the world over, yet there appears to be few books devoted entirely to the subject. Mostly, one finds a brief chapter or two within a larger tome devoted to spellcraft, listing a couple of quick-and-easy methods for sigil creation that may as well be magical afterthoughts before carrying on about candles, colors or some other such aspect of the Witch’s arts.
Inevitably, this book shall be compared to those previously mentioned volumes focusing solely on the subject of magical sigilization. All of these tend to be many things: informative, clever, well researched, practical and instructive. By these rubrics, Sigil Witchery shall certainly hold its own, but it deserves an additional adjective: inspirational.
I challenge you to read this book and not draw sigils on whatever piece of chalkboard, tablet or scrap paper happens to cross your path.
Perhaps it’s the easygoing nature of Zakroff’s instruction, or her barely-stifled joy when describing the various mediums and tools one can use to craft sigils, but her excitement is frankly both palpable and infectious. Haven’t picked up a pen or pencil in a while? Start reading this and there’s a good chance you’ll be blissfully doodling halfway through.
Zakroff greatly enjoys breaking down symbols into their component parts, examining each glyph for what it says intuitively as well as semiotically, and then showing how to use these aspects to build and grow some stunning pieces of art. After the small bits have been dissected, examples of sigils for meditation, spellcraft and protection are provided and interpreted, giving plenty of great ideas and solid advice for even the most boorishly well-informed member of your Coven.
Esoteric Empathy: A Magickal & Metaphysical Guide to Emotional Sensitivity, by Raven Digitalis, Llewellyn. Some of us have been in the occult game for a long time, and have heard the word “empathy” so often it makes us twitch, especially when uttered by a nearby youngling who seems to be preening more than practicing, so to speak. However, if said youngling is referring to this book, rest at ease.
And be jealous.
Esoteric Empathy will leave many of us who began our occult training decades ago to wish a book like this had come out “back in the day.” Not only does it go over the simplest (but of course, most crucial) basics of dealing with esoteric and emotional sensitivity (as well as their darker manifestations such as addiction and dependency) but it is chock-bloody-full of exercises, meditations, spells and chants from various disciplines, each designed to hone and train the will and sensitivity of the practitioner.
Scientific empathy studies and mass-media concerns are folded and wedded with Buddhist and Hindu mantras, hand mudras, Qabalistic pathworkings, energetic shielding practices, sigils and correspondences a-plenty. It is kind without coddling and informs without judgement or dragging out a point. Esoteric Empathy is simply a psychic self-defense handbook par excellence. Recommended for preening younglings, twitching elders, and all practitioners in between.
Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas by Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch and Surendra Bahadur Shahi. An absolute tour-de-force! Generated from over eighteen years of research, this gorgeous hardcover volume gives an in-depth look at the customs, traditions, myths and legends of the Himalayan Shamans. The everyday lives of modern practitioners are respectfully examined and revealed with hundreds of high quality color and black-and-white photographs, detailing the many plants and tools of their traditions.
Fans of Muller-Ebeling and Ratsch’s previous effort Witchcraft Medicine will also not be disappointed. Chapter after chapter of this book imparts recipes for sacred drinks, incenses and smoking blends regularly used by the Shamans. Many of these are, of course, poisonous and/or psychotropic and commonly found within a Traditional Witch’s herb closet. As such, the authors compare and contrast the legend and lore of the Himalayans with that of the Western witches and wortcunners of old. Reading this book was like discovering a brand new world drenched in echoes of home.
Communing with the Ancestors: Your Spirit Guides, Bloodline Allies, and the Cycle of Reincarnation by Raven Grimassi. Communing with the Ancestors acts in many ways like a retrospective diary, drawing the reader into the personal experiences of Grimassi’s decades of occult practice. Throughout, his own accounts of spiritual contact are compared to the lore of various mystical traditions, from Huna to the Akashic Record and back again. As expected, the book deals extensively with concepts associated with ancient ancestor cults. However, Grimassi keeps it fresh and interesting by splicing these together with modern DNA theories concerning genetic memory. In addition, he intersperses the text with a variety of mystical exercises designed to enhance one’s own understanding of their place within an ancient chain of manifestation. A fun and interesting read peppered with snippets of wisdom.
Azoetia: A Grimoire of the Sabbatic Craft, Third Edition by Andrew Chumbley.
Andrew Chumbley placed the Sabbatic Craft and Crooked Path Sorcery traditions on the proverbial map through this brilliant and inspired masterpiece. Melding Traditional Cunning Craft and Typhonian Gnosis, Sabbatic Rites and Zos Kia sigilscapes, he helped spearhead and in many ways revivify the modern Traditional Craft movement. This Third edition of Azoetia: A Grimoire of the Sabbatic Craft is just a downright beautiful book, from sigilized dustjacket to graceful typeface. This is especially appreciated as Chumbley’s style, though certainly resonant and poetic, is not known for its brevity. Xoanon’s newest layout allows the text to breathe in a way previous editions have been unable, giving this grimoire the perfect balance of readability, ornamentation and resonance.
Due to a perpetual pledge of quality over quantity, only a few thousand printings will be released at a time, limiting one’s chances of getting a reasonably priced copy after the initial have been purchased. If it hasn’t already sold out by the time of this review, I’d strongly suggest acquiring one.
Secret Medicines from Your Garden: Plants for Healing, Spirituality & Magic by Ellen Evert Hopman.
Mind-blowing! Hopman has found a way to pack a veritable treasure trove of herbal lore into a clear, precise and engaging volume. The contents are organized beautifully, starting with a primer on wildcrafting and the “doctrine of signatures” while following with a season-by-season guide to harvesting and utilizing nature’s potent healing energies. The first six chapters alone are worth the price of admission. The following ten will take one’s knowledge of natural medicines, both historical and modern, to dizzying heights. Wildcrafting, wortcunning, plant signatures, recipes by the dozen, Native American Animal Medicines, tinctures, poultices, formula theories as well as easy-to-read charts and glossaries make this book very difficult to put down for long. In addition, 96 gorgeous colored plates help you safely identify many of the more commonly used herbs. A wonderful addition to the library of any naturalist, herbalist, Witch or alchemist.
How to Use a Pendulum for Dowsing and Divination by Ronald L. Bonewitz and Lilian Verner-Bonds.
Always been interested in those lovely little pendulums at your local metaphysical shop but have no idea how to use one? This handy little kit may be precisely what the doctor ordered. In it, Bonewitz and Verner-Bonds have given the novice diviner a slew of meditations and spiritual exercises designed to enhance one’s intuition and spiritual sensitivity. In addition they cover proper hand techniques and various pendulum divination styles, mostly concentrating on a series of intuitive color drills that help guide the budding augur toward a more thorough understanding of subtle vibrations and resonances. Comes with a 160-page guidebook, pendulum and a series of fold-out color charts.
Icelandic Magic: Practical Secrets of the Northern Grimoires by Stephen Edred Flowers.
Those unfamiliar with Flowers’ (aka: Edred Thorsson) work will be glad to know he has a wonderfully breathable writing style, easily drawing one into the meat of the text without bogging them down with unnecessary digressions or superfluous language. Those familiar will find similarities to his brilliant Hermetic Magic, albeit with fewer pages and an obviously Northern focus. The first few chapters deal with the tale of how these fascinating Icelandic works evolved, highlighting the various Pagan, Catholic and Protestant influences found within. After the foundation is built, the reader learns about runic staves and sigilization methods drawn from and inspired by the Galdrabok, a grimoire Flowers translated and published back in 1989, as well as other lesser known and incomplete codices from the region. Don’t let the slenderness of this volume deter you. Like in most of his works, Flowers packs each page with scholarly tidbits, simultaneously teaching both history and occultism with clarity and ease. A must-have for any fan of Norse spiritual traditions, occult history or sigil magic.
Book Reviews Archive
Barbarian Rites by Hans-Peter Hasenfratz, Ph.D.
An exploration of the early religious cultures of the Germanic tribes, Barbarian Rites offers a scholarly look at the history of this ancient culture. It begins by asking what constitutes a Germanic tribe, then proceeds to answer that question by offering in-depth analysis of their social structures, cosmography, pantheon and so on. A wonderful and dense book for anyone interested in the ritual practices of ancient cultures.
The Book of Enoch the Prophet by R.H. Charles
A text many are familiar with yet few know. While well known concepts such as fallen angels and celestial warfare originated in its pages, the book itself has remained obscure. Now, with a new translation by R.H. Charles, The Book of Enoch is open to seekers of divine revelation. The text itself is enigmatic, but the reader’s comprehension will be greatly aided by R.A. Gilbert’s thorough introduction. Gilbert’s introduction traces The Book of Enoch across its circuitous travels through the centuries, discussing historical context as well as famous figures that were influenced by the text – from John Dee to Aleister Crowley. A new introduction by the occultist Lon Milo DuQuette implores the reader to remain open to the possibility of uncovering secrets long lost within the pages of this mystical text.
Diloggún Tales of the Natural World: How the Moon Fooled the Sun and other Santeria Stories by Ócha’ni Lele
Ócha’ni Lele describes himself not as the author, but the “transcriptionist and caretaker” of the stories contained in Diloggún Tales of the Natural World: How the Moon Fooled the Sun and other Santeria Stories. Anyone interested in the folk tales and oral traditions of other cultures should snap up this book? Contained within are charming stories of personified natural forces, foolish mortals and gods of all levels of power and wisdom. Think Aesops’s fables with a Yoruban twist.
The Book of Grimoires: The Secret Grammar of Magic. by Claude Lecoutreux
The Book of Grimoires: The Secret Grammar of Magic. by Claude Lecoutreux
Claude Lecoutreux has truly given us a treat with this treatise on grimoires and the magic found in them. With so many books on medieval magick available in this day and age, Lecoutreux has treated us to a glimpse into several. He begins his work with a detailed overview of the progression of various books magical before launching into the specifics of the practicality of sorcery. His approach has been to catalogue practice by type. Along with a fine detail of how to perform a given piece of sorcery, Lecoutreux treats us to facsimile drawing from many books. This book will benefit both the student of the occult that would like to compare and contrast, as well as the sorcerer who is looking for an out-of-the-ordinary working to perform.
Crystals, Jewels, Stones: Magic & Science by Isidore Kozminsky and
Crystals and the New Age by Stuart Weinberg
This is a compendium of knowledge and lore concerning what is classified by Hanne Finne in the introduction as the “mineral realm.” Ibis Press brings together two discrete yet complementary texts on the subject of precious and semi-precious stones’ role within a magical, mythical, and historical context. The first text, by Stuart Weinberg, is a relatively recent addition to the subject of crystals. Crystals and the New Age offers a clear introduction to the background systems needed to understand the significance of crystals as well as in-depth yet concise biographies of the preceding centuries’ preeminent channelers. The text also contains a comprehensive bibliography and suggested reading list for those interested in expanding their knowledge ever outward. The second text, a classic tome originally published in 1922 by Isidore Kozminsky, has been updated and modernized for an American reading audience while keeping the entirety of its original content preserved. Kozminsky writes in an effortlessly informative style that carries the reader easily through varied and complex information. Kozminsky is a scholarly storyteller delivering an enjoyable read while communicating a glut of information as multifaceted as the gems being examined.
A Magical Tour of the Night Sky by Renna Shesso
Ever get the feeling you are going around in circles? Renna Shesso wants you to know you are not alone. As A Magical Tour of the Night Sky explains to its readers, the whole of the cosmos is going ’round and ’round! From the spin of the earth to the rotation of distant stars, Shesso illuminates the ancient mysteries of the stars’ paths. Shesso uses a combination of mythology, modern astronomy and good old-fashioned star gazing to bring distant celestial bodies closer to the reader. Shesso encourages the reader to develop a personal relationship to the stars, particularly with the “learn by doing” section sat the end of each chapter. A wonderful book, perfect for the hands-on learner!
Enochian Magick: Volume I, The Best of the Equinox by Aleister Crowley
This republishing of selection from The Equinox, Crowley’s magical journal in print at the turn of the century, offers Crowley’s own synthesis of Enochian magic, based on the work of Elizabethan magicians John Dee and Edward Kelley. Previously difficult to find, Enochian Magick will make a welcome addition to the well-informed occultist’s library. Complete with an introduction from Lon Milo Duquette (US Deputy Grandmaster General of the OTO) which offers context and background to Crowley’s synthesis, Enochian Magick will help satiate those who continue to hunger for more doorways into Crowley’s worldview.
Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon: The Septrionic Order and the Naipes Cards by Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Phd.
Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon: The Septrionic Order and the Naipes Cards is a wholly unique book about divination and the power we hold over our own future. Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Phd., is a medical anthropologist who, while studying in Peru, encounters a divination system similar to Tarot with centuries of history and a surprising record of accuracy. But its practitioners, members of the mysterious Septrionic Order do not just observe the future, they actively shape it. De Rios finds herself pulled into the world of the Naipes cards and the mysticism of the Septrionic Order – first as an observer and then as a practitioner. Part memoir, part introduction to the techniques of managing the future, Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon is written with the scientific mind of an anthropologist and the spiritual heart of a shaman. A must read!
Gods of the Runes: The Divine Shapers of Fate by Frank Joseph
Frank Joseph’s Gods of the Runes: The Divine Shapers of Fate is a charming and unconventional introduction to runes. Joseph explores the celestial origins of the runes by revealing the major myths of the twenty-four Norse Gods and Goddesses on which the runes are based. Each rune’s God or Goddess is introduced with an engaging story displaying their personalities and key attributes. Ian Daniels provides stunning illustrations of each God or Goddess, including eight full color illustrations. Deepen your understanding of this ancient art.
The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook by Karen Harrison
Karen Harrison’s The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook is an introduction to the medicinal and magical properties of herbs. From the explication of planetary influence to an extensive Appendix of herbal materials, tools, and recipes, The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook is easy to follow while still dense with information. Learn to harness planetary and elemental energies, create custom oils, and expand your relationship to botanica.
The Hollow Bone: A Field Guide to Shamanism by Colleen Deatsman
The Hollow Bone: A Field Guide to Shamanism is a spiritual way of life older than recorded history and surviving till the modern era. A spiritual practice based on healing and balance, shamanistic ways have a lot to offer our modern lives so often based on material achievement rather than spiritual health. Colleen Deatsman, an experienced Shaman, strives to introduce the reader to this most ancient practice in the hopes that, like her, the reader will be set down a path to a whole, healthful being.
The Light of Sex and Advanced Sex Magic by Maria De Naglowska
Available for the first time in English, The Light of Sex and Advanced Sex Magic represent two of the most interesting and until now, hard to procure books on the spiritual aspects of sex. A Russian mystic and “Satanic Woman” of 1930s Paris, De Naglowska’s work focused on unifying the dark and light powers of the world through reconciliation of masculine and feminine ideals. De Naglowska uses the Trinity as a basis for her occult teachings, reimagining the three aspects of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – as Head (reason), Heart, and the Feminine ideal, or Sex and the coming of a new enlightened age. These books are a fascinating historical read and an important part of occult history, but be advised – the techniques described are potentially dangerous; there is even a warning posted before the bulk of the text.
Magia Sexualis: Sexual Practices for Magical Power by Paschal Beverly Randolph and Maria De Naglowska
Though the authorship of this influential text is somewhat in doubt (Maria de Naglowska claimed to have only translated a manuscript by Paschal Beverly Randolph, but evidence suggests she contributed much more to the final result.), its lessons remain vital. Magia Sexualis conceives of sexual intercourse as a prayer, a tremendous force of nature that can be harnessed to accomplish certain feats. Magia Sexualis spends a significant amount of time laying the groundwork for a complete spiritual, mental, and physical understanding of the sexual act before even introducing the subject of sexual ritual. Magia Sexualis is recommended for those interested in the historical occult, magical potential of sexual energy, and those interested in improving their corporeal experience.
Moon Phase Astrology by Raven Kaldera
This thick tome is a complete introduction to developing and understanding a personal relationship to the phases of the Moon. Kaldera walks with the reader across the varied path of the Moon as it glides through all of its 96 incarnations. Besides simply understanding the celestial path the Moon takes, Kaldera shows the reader how the moon is a metaphor for our own lives, our personal relationships, and our general disposition towards the world. Kaldera brings a great sense of storytelling to his explanations of the Moon’s place in our lives.
Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth , by John Michael Greer
Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth is an attempt to counter common modern misconceptions regarding mystery teachings. Most conceive of mystery teachings as the idea that by manipulating the laws of attraction one can coax any number of positive outcomes from the universe. The theory goes that simply by replacing negative thoughts and actions with positive ones, good things — money, material wealth, increased social status — will materialize. Greer points out that not only is this concept not representative of mystery teachings, but they simply do not work; it assumes that whatever we want is ours for the taking while ignoring the fact that we are but part of a much more complex whole. Greer turns to ecology — the study of whole systems in nature — to correct our misguided understanding of seven fundamental principles from the mystery schools. Each principle is explored using examples from the natural world. Each principle is also accompanied by a meditation, an affirmation, and a theme for reflection. These interactive features help bring the mystery teachings directly into the reader’s daily life: “where they become keys to meaning, wholeness, and power.”
Neolithic Shamanism: Spirit Work in the Norse Tradition by Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova
Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova designed Neolithic Shamanism to serve as an introduction to Northern Shamanistic practices for the uninitiated novice. For those compelled to study shamanism yet unaware of where to begin, Northern Shamanism offers the equivalent of the first year of training in this tradition ( though as the text is quick to point out, there is no real substitute for a human teacher). Northern Shamanism promotes an ancient understanding of shamanism as the maintenance of relationships with elemental, plant, animal, and divine spirits (which manifest literally rather than metaphorically) for the high purpose of survival. Shamans were intimately involved in protecting and aiding their communities through communication with various entities. Northern Shamanism is about reclaiming shamanistic traditions regardless of direct inheritance and becoming grounded once again in the world of the Real.
The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook by Kenaz Filan
The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook is about so much more than Voodoo. Using Voodoo as the lens through which the city of New Orleans if viewed, Kenaz Filan weaves a tale equal parts history, tourist guide, and introduction to Voodoo as unique as the city itself. Filan touches on topics as diverse as the evolution of race relations within the city and the proper use of ritual oils. If you are planning a visit to the city or just want a fresh perspective on a fascinating American city, pick up this book
Norse Goddess Magic: Trancework, Mythology, and Ritual by Alice Karlsdottir
Combining traditional research on folklore and the Eddas with trance work and meditation techniques, Alice Karlsdottir was able to rediscover the feminine side of the Norse pantheon and assemble working knowledge of thirteen Norse Goddesses for both group ritual and personal spirit work. Detailing her trance work journeys to connect with the goddesses, the author reveals the long-lost personalities and powers of each deity. She explores the Norse Goddess Frigg, the All-Mother wife of Odin, along with twelve other Goddesses that are associated with her. Alice provides detailed instructions for invocations and rituals to call each Goddess forth for personal and group spirit work. She also offers a comprehensive guide to ritual trance working, to allow anyone to directly experience deities and spiritual beings and develop spirit work relationships with them.
A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book by Ceisiwr Serith
A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book is the sequel to A Book of Pagan Prayer. This sequel focuses on prayers as part of ritual, prayers that help one encounter the divine. Serith presents theories of prayer and ritual structure as well as offering a wide array of modern prayers. Serith offers his own ritual prayers but also guides the reader through the process of creating their own. A great book for anyone searching for a deeper understanding of prayer in the Pagan context.
Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghostly Processions of the Undead by Claude Lecouteux
Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghostly Processions of the Undead by Claude Lecouteux
“Once we have set foot upon the shores of folk mythology, we must remain conscious that its banks are shifting and ever changing – and are deceptive, because the accounts are never firsthand.” So begins Claude Lecouteux’s fascinating exploration of the phenomenon known as “the Wild Hunt,” a ghastly nightly procession of demons, witches, the undead, and all other manner of supernatural beings. Bringing a scholar’s eye for analysis to a centuries-old phenomenon, Lecouteux seeks to unravel various source material to get at the heart of the mythology: why has this myth endured for centuries, and why is it important?.
Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune Dion Fortune
Dion Fortune offers practical instruction on protecting oneself from psychic attack. Part psychological case study and part manual for fighting invisible but omnipresent forces, Fortune draws from her personal experiences to arm the reader against malignant paranormal encounters. However, Fortune does not simply advocate arming oneself for battle against these forces; rather, she brings the reader to an understanding that it is our own ignorance of these forces that comprises our biggest threat.
The Qabalah Workbook for Magicians: A Guide to the Sephiroth by Anita Kraft
For those of you who have wanted to plumb the Qabalah in an experiential way, Anita Kraft has given you the perfect balance of understanding the concepts combined with a very practical approach. After providing a very brief overview of the system, Anita launches into a detail of each of the Sephira, explaining the principle behind each and how to set-up an altar for Sephira. This is not a book for the armchair occultist; a roll-up your sleeves approach dominates this work. This 166 page tome is a great starting point for those who would rather experience the Qabalah, rather than spend all of their time in their head.
Runecaster’s Handbook by Edred Thorsson
Edred Thorsson’s Runecaster’s Handbook is a practical guide to runecasting as a system of communication with both the physical and cosmic realms. Thorsson offers a myriad of ways to start or enhance your runic practice, taking the runes beyond the common understanding of simply a fortune telling device. Thorsson casts runes as a means of accessing hidden truths about the future, yes; but more importantly, about your own relationship to the gods.
The Secret History of Poltergeists and Haunted Houses: from Pagan Folklore to Modern Manifestations by Claude Lecouteux
Once again Claude Lecouteux produces a thoroughly researched, eminently readable and delightfully entertaining text that blends scholarly ethos with respect for the unknown. Lecouteux turns his attention to the phenomenon of poltergeists and other ghostly haunting, taking care to scrupulously trace first-hand accounts and second hand analyses from medieval through modern times. Lecouteux is meticulous in his approach, paying particular attention to establishing the proper definition of deployed terms. Readers with a casual interest in the supernatural will find their knowledge greatly expanded and their curiosity provoked even further. Those already adept in the subject will nonetheless find much to mull over.
The Secrets of Doctor Taverner by Dion Fortune
In some ways, The Secrets of Doctor Taverner is a novelization of Dion Fortune’s own life; Dr. Taverner is based on her own mentor, and his assistant, Dr. Rhodes, is taken to be Fortune herself. In other ways, the novel is a psychological mystery and Taverner is an occult Sherlock Holmes. Taverner is an eccentric Doctor treating patients taken to be hopelessly insane by the medical establishment. Where most doctors see hopeless cases of mental defect, Taverner accesses occult knowledge — from past lives to misplaced souls — to free his patients from psychic distress. A rollicking good read!
Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic: The Essential Ida Craddock by Vere Chappell
Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic: The Essential Ida Craddock explores the life of an extraordinary woman decades ahead of her time. Part biography, part introduction to her most influential works, Sexual Outlaw introduces Ida Craddock to a modern audience perhaps unaware of her contributions to women’s rights, sexual freedom, occult spiritualism and social progress. Her amazing story is laid out in a fluid academic tone right alongside Ida’s ideas in her own words. An essential read for anyone interested in social justice and the history of sexuality.
Weird Ways of Witchcraft by Dr. Leo Louis Martello
Originally published in 1969 by Dr. Leo Louis Martello, Weird Ways is an important historical document. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of Witchcraft, particularly of the treatment of Witches in America. Written at a point in history when all kinds of minority groups began to rise up and demand equal rights, Weird Ways is a manifesto for the modern Witch. Combating negative stereotypes, demanding reparations from those institutions that have sought to oppress “crafters,” and celebrating the individuality of the practice, Weird Ways is an absolute treasure!