I am a little overstretched at present and have read so many good books recently that I am behind in my reviewing. So this is simply a quick stop gap, short and sweet reviews, to get folk interested in purchasing these lovely books. I plan to do more in depth reviews of a few later on. Let the fun begin
Stoning the Devil by Garry Craig Powell. Skylight Press, 2012
This is an excellent novel reaching far into the human experience. It is well written, deep and in some ways raw. Powell’s exploration of the themes of environment, culture, descent, distortion and ultimately redemption, are all wonderfully handled.
The book shows the best and worst of the human spirit. I loved the characterisation and the complex array of characters and their interactions is deftly handled. Powell avoids any tendency towards stereotyping and his personal experience of the terrain and culture of the Gulf and its people shines throughout, making the characters alive and real. The book takes us westerners into a different world, yet strangely familiar in its base themes and motives but hopeful in its capacity for change and the exaltation of the human spirit.
Overall, a brilliant novel and one which marks Powell as a writer of the highest class and deepest measure. Someone to watch, for sure.
Magical Knowledge Book, I Foundations: The Lone Practitioner by Josephine McCarthy. Mandrake Press, 2012.
This book is one of the better books on magic around today. It lives up to its subtitle and provides solid, real, practical foundations for magical practice, cutting across a range of traditions and methods. Its author’s authenticity and experience shines through on every page. There is nothing mock, cute, fluffy or unreal in this book, and anyone wanting to get a sense of the breadth and range of what magic actually IS, without adherence to a ‘system’ or ‘method’ will gain much from it. One of the wonderful things about this book is its honesty and its author’s inherent and respectful connection to the Land. Also, as shown by the foreword by a noted Christian ritualist, who is a personal friend, the author is very, open and respectful to anything and anyone real. Pretension, fakery or humbug however is not spared her witty demolishing.
Overall, a book that deserves to be on every modern magician’s bookshelf, whatever experience we have. Thank you, Josephine
Witchfather: A Life of Gerald Gardner, Vol 1 & 2 by Philip Heselton. Thoth Publications. 2012.
In these books Philip Heselton continues his work as an amateur historian revealing the origins of the Wiccan tradition. A testament to the power of the researcher outside the academy, Heselton once again has written a wonderful book. Engaging, deep and free of guesswork, these two volumes trace the life of Gerald Gardner, before and after his (re)creation of modern Wicca. The author is very clear and cites his resources well, noting when he is applying his own theory or assumptions. Hesleton combines an academic rigour with the heart of someone deeply touched by this tradition and approach to the divine. Essential reading for anyone interested in Gardner, Wicca or modern spirituality.
The Way of Magic by Gordon Strong. Skylight Press, 2012
Veteran magician , teacher and writer Gordon Strong takes on a big task in this slim volume. Presenting a guide and overview to the western mystery tradition, this book provides insights and linkages between the ‘multiple strands’ that make up the Way in the west. In doing so he shows how deep and wonderful the tradition is. However, the book is not really a survey, more an exploration from within the heart of the tradition, by a practitioner of experience and depth, that allows the tradition to speak for itself. The writing is easy, free and accomplished so the reader is at once informed and inspired. Experienced folk of whatever path will find recognition and ‘a-ha’ moments when links and overviews are made. Folk newer to the Western Way will not find a better, contemporary and living ‘introduction’.
Working with Inner Light: The Magical Journal of William G. Gray by William G. Gray (edited by Jo Clark & Alan Richardson). Skylight Press, 2012
This is an early work by W.G. Gray, one never intended for publication. Written shortly after his abortive involvement with Dion Fortune’s Society of the Inner Light, this book fairly hums with magic. As described by one of the editors, this is indeed some of the best written work Gray ever produced. Covering dozens of themes such as magical names, robes, tools, Qabalah, initiation and the otherworld, this book is a magical artefact in and by itself. There is so much in each page that I constantly had to pause and digest. It is as if all of Gray’s later work was already in nascent form back in 1965, condensed into a rich and deep source of light and life. There is much analysis here, but equally as much inspiration and inner force. This book will provide teaching and much wisdom for anyone within any arm of the western mysteries. You won’t want to put it down, but once you’ve finished it you’ll need to pick it up again
Losing It by Julia Lawrinson. Penguin Publishing, 2012.
A brilliant example of a new form of coming of age novel, Losing It, shines with humour, honesty and integrity. While the main audience is Young Adult, we can all enjoy this novel detailing the journeys of four young women. Set in and around the coming of age, meaning losing it, this novel is not just about sex and virginity. Its themes of honesty, fear, integrity, friendship and love are wonderfully and sensitively explored in depth. Ultimately it is about the power of young women to choose their own sexual path and exploration, their own identity and own connections in life. This is a message and a story deeply needed today and this novel should be read by any adolescent, female or male. This novel is a wonderful gift in today’s milieu of sexploitation. Thank you, Julia