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review 2020-06-04 12:37
The New Science of the Paranormal
The New Science of the Paranormal: From the Research Lab To Real Life - Carl Llewellyn Weschcke,Joe H. Slate

by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, Joe H. Slate


This book makes me think of the legendary Parapsychology Lab at UCLA in the 1970s. The qualifications of the authors are emphasized and the subject treated as serious study in the scientific realm.


A lot of what are considered 'new age' ideas are treated with a scientific approach, though it doesn't always succeed in a way that would convince a sceptic. Assumptions of belief in things like reincarnation might lose a few readers. By a quarter through it began sounding a lot like a self-help book and openly admitted that it was effectively re-branding the term 'parapsychology' as 'the science of the paranormal'.


Having said that, the book discusses aspects of what is considered paranormal in an unapologetic way that is refreshing and open. It oscillates between describing the methods and results of university studies to test for ESP, precognition and other abilities and defining those results in what might be called new age terms. As someone with an open mind in this area, I enjoyed the combined perspectives in a way that a serious sceptic might not.


I found the detailed accounts of studies performed rather tedious and repetitive to read, yet it was relevant to the objective study of psychic abilities. I did find the results of the dowsing experiments especially interesting.


The second half of the book progresses through discussing beliefs and how they affect results, religion and self affirmations. A glossary that covers both scientific and new age terms over about 30% of the page count.


An interesting resource for those who delve into alternative therapies and subjects and who wish to see results of scientific examination of these areas.

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review 2020-05-10 14:46
Llewellyn's Complete Book of Essential Oils
Llewellyn's Complete Book of Essential Oils - Sandra Kynes

by Sandra Kynes


After a substantial introduction telling about the author's personal history with essential oils, there is some well researched history of their use in various times and cultures. 


We are told how to differentiate pure from synthetic commercial oils and about their processes. One thing I really liked seeing was safety guidelines and specifically safety for children and pets.


Details are given about shelf life and how to choose and blend oils. Perfume notes are explained, which I haven't seen in other books on the subject.


It goes into basics in a clear and concise manner and then into 'remedies'. After aromatherapy and self-care, it gets a bit new age with chakras and magical uses.


There's an interesting balance of practical and woo. The profiles of individual oils are well-informed and would satisfy any academic. We finish off with conversions and two different glossaries. Over all a well-written and pretty thorough book on the subject.

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review 2020-05-10 14:38
Llewellyn's Complete Book of Ceremonial Magick
Llewellyn's Complete Book of Ceremonial Magick: A Comprehensive Guide to the Western Mystery Tradition - Lon Milo DuQuette

by Lon Milo DuQuette; David Shoemaker; Stephen Skinner; Dennis William Hauck; David Rankine; John Michael Greer; Brandy Williams; David Shoemaker; Sam Webster; Anita Kraft; David Allen Hulse; Randall Lee Bowyer; Aaron Leitch; Chic Cicero; Sandra Tabatha Cicero; Marcus Katz


There are some very familiar names among the authors of this work, though I don't recognise all of them. The work consists of several smaller 'books' written by people knowledgeable about the various subjects covered. It starts out with introductions by Lon Milo DuQuette (a well-known and respected occultist) and David Shoemaker (whom I haven't come across before). This is followed by a section on the history of magic by Sam Webster (a name I've seen before but don't know well) which touches on some key events but makes no attempt to be comprehensive in the short space allotted.


Next is a section on Kabbalah by Anita Kraft and Randall Lee Bowyer. It has an extensive history, but I felt it failed to get the real depth of the subject. Why would an occultist want to learn about this? I know the answer to that, but I didn't feel it was provided for the newbie reader.


This is followed by Planetary Magick by David Rankine. I've been wanting to read something by David Rankine for a while as he's someone I keep hearing about! Planetary Magick is basically astrology re-branded and this gave a history of it, rather than a how-to, which seems to be the theme of the book.


Then we have a chapter on Alchemy, written by Dennis William Hauck. Again, we got a good overview of history. I was pleased to see mention of the Greek occupation of Egypt, though I've yet to find a book that goes into Alchemy among the Ancient Egyptians compared to the Greek interpretation that is known as Hermeticism.


Demonology & Spirit Evocation by Dr Stephen Skinner comes next. This is one of those very familiar names. He explains the history of demonology and how the name 'Demon' got applied to a variety of pre-Christian spirits, both good and malevolent. Apparently he believes all magic comes from spirits, which many magicians might argue.


The Magick of Abra-Melin by Marcus Katz follows. I read the Book of Abra-Melin the Mage when I was in High School and fairly new to occult literature so I was a little surprised to see how steeped in Judeo-Christian religion this book actually is. The ritual to contact your Guardian Angel plays an important role and for that reason would be of interest to Thelemites. As with the other sections, this one gives a history and a general idea of what it's all about.


Enochian Magick and Mystercism by Aaron Leitch is about Angel Magick and provides some interesting history about the Elizabethan era and especially about John Dee. The Golden Dawn by Chic Cicero & Sandra Tabitha Cicero, authors I've heard of for years, follows. This one started out sounding like a recruitment advert for the Golden Dawn, but settled into history after the initial burst. I think this one crammed too much history of Western esotericism into one chapter. If I hadn't already been familiar with half of the history, which covers far more than the role of the Golden Dawn, I would have been lost. Ironically all that history fits into a fifteen year time frame in the Victorian era and emphasises that much of what we know as Western magic(k) is based in 19th century Christian mysticism. They didn't mention that the original GD members believed in celibacy, even between married couples, but it did point out that women were included and even influential in the Order.


Thelema & Aleister Crowley by David Shoemaker was no surprise as Crowley would have to turn up in a book of this nature. He was mentioned briefly in the previous chapter, but there was more focused attention on his magical influence in this one. The only thing that niggled is lack of information about the actual origins of the concept of Thelema, which is written about in Plato and the Bible.


Polytheistic Ceremonial Magic by John Michael Greer I found a little confusing. It started out with a welcome overview of magic(k) preceding the Christianisation of various systems, then suddenly I was reading passages from a couple of other authors. Perhaps some extracts needed introduction. It then goes into the authors own amalgamation of Druidry and Golden Dawn format ritual instruction as well as a couple of well-known rituals like the LBRP.


We wrap up with Magician's Tables by David Allen Hulse, something important to any book about Ceremonial magick, then The Future of Ceremonial Magick by Brandy Williams, which was, shall we say, abstract and more about the future of our world than specifically about where magick is going.


The author information, placing them both in the Caliphate OTO, explains the lack of mention of Kenneth Grant or of Austin Spare and the rise of Chaos Magick from the 1970s. Despite that, for someone completely new to magic(k) of any kind, the book does provide a lot of interesting history and context for a lot of practices still prevalent today. It would make a good companion book to go with the old texts mentioned throughout the book.

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review 2020-05-10 14:21
Llewellyn's Little Book of Life Between Lives
Llewellyn's Little Book of Life Between Lives - The Newton Institute

The Newton Institute


I have to admit that the first few chapters of this put far too much emphasis on belief. Maybe it's because I've read other books on this subject matter but I feel that someone who takes the trouble to read about it has already become at least open to belief and the 'exercises' in the first few chapters seem redundant and amount to quiet contemplation of the sort of things that will have already led the reader to pick up the book, like being attracted to certain places or eras.


As the chapters went on I had hoped for something more, but the 'exercises' continued to be more suggestions for things to think about rather than guidance for self-hypnosis as I've seen in other books. There were references for going between lives but no real instruction about how to accomplish that.


All of the 'evidence' presented was completely subjective accounts. No examples of evidence that got confirmed by historical records or surviving relatives of the previous person as I've seen elsewhere.


When it began talking about a council of elders, the book pretty much lost me and it went further into new age territory after that. To be quite honest, if this were the only book I had ever read on reincarnation, I would be writing the topic off as total fantasy. The writing itself is good, but there is nothing to convince the questioning reader that any of it is any more than imagination.

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review 2020-04-16 13:03
Beltane: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for May Day - Melanie Marquis,Llewellyn

by Melanie Marquis


I liked that the series introduction acknowledges the differences in the northern and southern hemispheres and how they fit into the wheel of the year. There's some really good comments about various beliefs in entities that made me expect good things from the book.


This book is well researched, but a little dry and academic. Sometimes it feels like a list of historical information bytes. Before I read the author's history in the back, I had no sense of her having any personal experience or connection to ritual.


She seems unaware that traditions like Morris dancing are still widely practiced in England and much of the information was very much from an American perspective, especially the 'denominations' of Paganism that might practice Beltane. What I found most 'off' in this section was the explanation of Eclectic Witchcraft, which the author seems to connect specifically with sex magick. In my experience, sex magick is more often practiced by magicians and Eclectic Wicca is just a name for those who borrow rituals and traditions from a variety of sources.


There's a section on festivals, but none of the really well-known ones like Starwood seem to have been included.


This seems to be directed mainly at beginners. There are a few simple rituals, which are pretty elementary, and there is a section on recipes and crafts. No traditional Honey Cakes, but the 'Sun cakes', which are basically orange cookies, sound nice. There are instructions for wand and crown decorating that many may find useful.


There's a section called Prayers and Invocations which provides some rituals of celebration, but they put too much emphasis on deity for my personal taste. Also given are Correspondences for Beltane, which is basically a collection of lists.

Further reading is also suggested, which included material from Ron Hutton which I would certainly recommend.

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