The Goddess Path Myths, Invocations, & Rituals — by Patricia Monaghan

This is a beautiful book, in more ways than one. Physically, it is beautifully designed. The cover shows a ripe and burstingThis
is a beautiful book, in more ways than one. Physically, it is
beautifully designed. The cover shows a ripe and bursting pomegranate,
evocative
of the yoni, with gold embossing at the borders. The chapter
illustrations by
Nyease Sommersett are wonderful. After encountering the first one in my
reading, I couldn’t resist pa
ging ahead to look at them all. All the
drawings are in the round … am I the only one who looked at some of
them and said, “wow, that would make a great tattoo!”?

The beauty of the book is more than superficial, however. This is a finely

crafted, thoughtful, engrossing work. I thought I’d never finish the book;

each chapter begged to be examined in depth. After the introductory chapters

on the basics of goddess spirituality and ritual, the book has twenty

chapters, each devoted to one goddess. Her myth and meaning, her symbols,

and her celebrations are explained, and then Monaghan gives some suggestions

of how to work with that goddess individually. The chapter ends with a list

of questions best explored in a journal writing session.

The first two chapters in particular spoke volumes to me in my life at this

time. The first one was about Gaia, the creator goddess who feeds us all

from her bounty. The journal work for the chapter revolves around hunger

issues – what we hunger for, how we satisfy that hunger, what we fear we

will never have enough of in our lives, etc. The day I started working on

this chapter was the day after I had joined Weight Watchers and had begun

dialogue with the other folks in my WW group about these issues. I lingered

on this chapter for at least a week – examining on my own, and processing

with my group members. It was extremely revealing, and very helpful as I

started to explore how to feed myself without binging on food.

I had a similar reaction to the second chapter, which focused on Athena,

the protector goddess of the Greek cities. The journal work for the chapter

centered around protection – how we react when threatened or challenged,

experiences with physical assault and martial art forms, etc. The day I

started on this chapter happened to be the day after I had been walking with

my partner near a pond, and we were surrounded by four men determined to mug

us. I was able to deter the attack by screaming “Police! 911!” but the fear

I had felt was still ringing in my body the next day as I read this chapter

and started the journal work. Again, this was a chapter I lingered on for a

long time.

The next chapter focused on Hera. I put the book down for a long time,

dreading that if I started reading that chapter, I’d find out about some

secret affair my partner was engaged in! But eventually I did pick it up

again, and I found the rest of the book spoke more to events in my past than

the first two chapters did. (Much to my relief!) And I found them all just

as interesting, and revealing, and helpful.

This is a wonderful book. I love the fact that the ritual ideas for each

goddess was not a completely scripted rite, but simply an outline for the

reader to flesh out as she sees fit. I loved the ritual poetry to each

goddess that started each chapter, and I’m glad that Monaghan quoted her

sources for these invocations. I highly recommend this book.

Witches’ Night of Fear Witches’ Chillers Teen Mystery Novel Series — by Silver Ravenwolf

This novel is the second in the author’s Witches’ Chillers series of teen mysteries. I reviewed the first one in the series, Witches’ Night Out, for Spiritualitea a few months ago, and was promptly criticized in the Forum for my negative review. So why did I even pick up the second one in the series, you might wonder, if I gave the first one a no-star rating?

Well, chalk it up to idle curiosity. I am fond of series books; I like to see how an author develops her characters from title to title. So when I spotted this book recently, I couldn’t resist sitting down with it for a few hours. It’s written for teens and pre-teens, so it’s short (less than 300 pages) and easy to devour.

I am relieved that I won’t have to write another no-star review for this┬ábook. I had been quite disturbed by all the cursing in the first book, and this sequel didn’t have anything like that in it. Bethany Salem, the heroine of the story, does disturb someone else’s spell, though, with the deliberate intent of interfering with the spell’s purpose. But at least there’s discussion about the repercussions of choosing to interfere, before Bethany acts on her decision to interfere. And she did choose to interfere because she thought the spell was blocking someone else’s safety and well-being. So there’s definitely some signs that our heroine is maturing in her magickal knowledge from the first book to this one.

The story lines are absorbing, and deal with aspects that many teens can relate to: first love, a widowed father starting to date someone his daughter doesn’t trust, not getting enough attention from a parent, and bullies in school, for instance. The author has created a circle of friends from many backgrounds and races, which is nice to see in a world of mostly white book characters from other authors. And Bethany is having potent visions and is doing rituals and spells with her coven and teacher that could make this book interesting and meaningful to a young witch.

I wish the author had been more careful in the final editing of the book,

though. There are several clues that are laid out that go undetected by the

reader because of bad editing. I don’t want to give away any of the story

line, so this is not the real clue but a similar example. At one point in

the story, a “yellow ball” is introduced as a clue. In the final twist and

turns of the story, a “green ball” leads to an identity, and Bethany bemoans

the fact that she didn’t put two and two together earlier about the “green

ball” connection. Too bad nobody in the editing department at Llewellyn

noticed the original “yellow ball” reference in the text should have been

green!

I wish some of the dead-end clues had been explained too. In one scene,

one character refuses to go to a place where she would meet up with another

character, leading one to conclude that there is some fear or bad blood

there. In reality, it is revealed that they are good friends and on good

terms with each other. So why go through all that drama in the first place?

RavenWolf never offers a theory.

I wonder what teens will pick up about Wiccan practice from this series.

Bethany’s teacher is a French-Creole black woman who gets her spiritual

supplies from a botanica. While the author doesn’t say the woman practices

Santeria or Vodou, she seems to imply it with these details. Yet the

French-Creole woman teaches Bethany and her friends Wiccan practices. Is

RavenWolf trying to say that Santeria and Vodou are Wiccan? Similarly,

there is a Native American character in the story that they want to get into

the coven; since he is Native American, goes the thinking, he’s already

familiar with Wiccan practice. Adults who have studied Wicca for a while

will be aware that Native American practices are not Wiccan, and Santeria or

Vodou is not Wiccan, but will the teen audience of her novels know that?

So, while I found this book to be entertaining for a few hours, I don’t

think I would recommend it to a teen unless it was someone who had read a

lot about Wicca already and could discern between the good and the dubious

in this book. I think there is definitely a need for teens to get good

information on Wicca and its practices, but I hope they will not be turning

to these books to get that information.

Dancing With Dragons by D.J. Conway

Dancing With Dragons book cover

This 300 page tome is chock full
of dragon lore, magical principles and knowledge gleaned from author
D.J. Conway’s 25 years of metaphysical experiences and, of course, her
own magical workings with dragons.

Books by D.J. Conway:

  • The Celtic Dragon Tarot

  • Moon Magick : Myth & Magick, Crafts & Recipes, Rituals & Spells
  • By Oak, Ash & Thorn : Modern Celtic Shamanism
  • The Celtic Book of Names

  • As I understand her premise,
    dragons are creatures of the Astral Plane related to Elementals. They
    and/or their potent energy may be summoned and used by magicians (if
    approached in the proper manner) to enhance magical workings. This book
    explains how it all works and provides rituals, spells, correspondences
    and heck, even the kind of music and dance that dragons prefer. A whole
    cosmology is described down to the minutest detail. Overall, it’s
    really well written and researched (the “Dragons in Myth and Legend”
    chapter is great!) and the Appendices provide good general witchy info.
    But really, is there an audience out there for dragon-centered
    spirituality?

    A book like this would have made
    any self-respecting Dungeon Master back in the seventies drool, but I’m
    sorry to say it’s not my cuppa (Spirituali)tea. Sorry, DJ Conway fans.
    I mean no disrespect. I actually like dragons, which is why I chose the
    book to review. I was born in the year of the Dragon. I rooted for
    Smaug in the Hobbit. I’ve collected dragon stuff over the years. Old
    boyfriends have called me Dragon Lady..uhm, anyway, as I said I don’t
    wish to offend but I really don’t know who I could recommend this
    volume to. Then again, if you like DJ Conway’s other works or you are a
    practitioner of dragon magic yourself, this book is certainly worth a
    look.

    The Shining Tribe Tarot Deck and Book Set by Rachel Pollack


    When I first opened The Shining Tribe Tarot
    I was immediately enthralled with the cards themselves. Each card
    brings to mind images of Native American stories and mysticism. In
    fact, the artwork is said to be drawn from Stone Age rock art, Native
    American and African shamanism, Australian Aboriginal art, and the
    Kabbalah. It is no wonder, as each card stirs feelings of ancient
    wisdom that continue to hold truth and value in our modern day lives.
    The cards are different: instead of the expected Minor Arcana Wands,
    there are Trees representing the Fire element. Rivers, Birds and
    Stones, stand in for the usual Cups, Swords and Disks. Personally, I
    enjoy the use of such elemental symbols, drawn straight from the
    natural world, for it seems to touch a more ancient place within
    myself, a place more tribal and rooted in the Earth.

    The
    deck comes with a superb guidebook, with each card carefully explained.
    The book is very easy to read and follow, even for a newcomer such as
    myself. At the end of the book, Rachel takes time to suggest possible
    spreads and includes a glossary, as well as an index of name changes
    she implements in these cards. For instance, the 12th Major Arcana card
    is named “Hanged Woman,” rather than the more traditional “Hanged Man,”
    which may also account for my strong appreciation of these cards, for I
    tend to enjoy cards that are more woman-centered and woman-identified.
    I would certainly recommend this deck and accompanying manual to anyone
    who is searching for a slightly different tarot and/or a deck that
    reaches into the ancient times where mysticism and symbols were more a
    part of everyday life and taught all the lessons.

    Gardening With the Goddess : Creating Gardens of Spirit and Magick by Patricia Telesco


    In the dark time of the year, there’s no more enjoyable reading for
    me than garden and seed catalogs. This new book by Patricia Telesco
    was an ideal supplement to my catalog reading and my sketches and plans
    for my spring garden in my new home.

    This was a fun book to spark ideas in even the most experienced
    gardener. She offered suggestions for gardening by the moon cycles,
    gardening with crystals, and blessing the land. She also gave
    tips on fertilizers and companion plantings for those with little or
    no gardening experience.

    The bulk of the book described specific gardens designed for a
    particular goddess. She included historic and cultural information
    about the goddess, suggested plants that the goddess held dear,
    patterns in which to lay out the garden to harmonize with that goddess,
    colors, stones, and decorations that honor that goddess, how to
    orient and adapt the garden to fit your garden and its location, and
    what to do with the harvest afterward.

    She selected goddesses from many different cultures, which was a
    welcome sight to me. And I enjoyed reading her suggestions, which were
    creative and evocative. I was disappointed that she did not include
    drawings for any of the gardens, to see how she’d suggest grouping the
    plants to be visually appealing and practical. And I wished she had
    footnoted her information so that I could read more about a particular
    goddess. For instance, I didn’t know the Egyptian goddess Kefa before
    reading here about a garden dedicated to Her. It would have been
    helpful to have the Kefa chapter footnoted with a resource or two
    specifically about Her, rather than going to the bibliography at the
    end of the book and guessing which might be the one to explore(Most
    of the bibliography was about gardening and herbology, not mythology).

    But despite these quibbles, I still think the book offers some
    wonderful ideas and is worth the purchase. Enjoy your own dreams of
    spring!

    Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives by Michael Newton, Ph.D.

    The
    progression of the soul after death is a mystery that has been
    contemplated since ancient times. In Destiny of Souls, Dr. Michael
    Newton shares his work with and case studies of past life regressions
    to reveal the spiritual realm beyond death.

    Dr. Newton holds a doctorate in
    Counseling Psychology, is a certified Master Hypnotherapist and is a
    member of the American Counseling Association. He describes himself as
    a traditional hypnotherapist who was initially skeptical about the use
    of hypnosis for metaphysical regression. He subsequently stumbled upon
    past life regressions in his practice and over the years embarked upon
    a path of research which enabled him to construct a model of the spirit
    world and its processes.

    In this book Dr. Newton gives us
    a view of the afterlife as an orderly and loving place of regeneration,
    learning and progress in-between incarnations. His case studies review
    the process the soul goes through after death beginning with some of
    the therapeutic techniques recently departed souls use to aid the
    grieving processes of the living left behind. He also explores the
    concepts of Angels or Heavenly Hosts, Spirit Guides, ghosts, and nature
    spirits as reported in his regression sessions with clients and their
    relations to the myths and legends of Earth.

    He goes on to explore and
    describe the process souls go through to recover from their
    incarnations before they are able to rejoin their collective soul
    groups. His subjects describe the greater soul community extensively
    as a loving and orderly place/existence where souls are guided to learn
    from their past lives so that they may be enabled to move on to new
    incarnations and so learn new lessons.

    He gives in great detail
    descriptions of the progression of levels souls go through on their way
    towards growth and enlightenment, their access to their Akashic
    records, aura color associations and much more. In like manner, Dr.
    Newtons case studies also describe the evaluation process a soul
    encounters, as well as the appearance and composition of the Elder
    beings, which evaluate it. Some of his more interesting studies cover
    the idea of soul-mates as well as groups of souls that incarnate
    together over and over.

    I found much of Dr. Newtons book
    to be quite interesting, however, some of the case studies became
    rather tedious, especially as similar information is often repeated.
    Despite the many excerpts from his case studies, his overall message is
    one of hope in that as we grow in awareness of the true meaning of
    perfection, so too will the quality of existence expand to encompass
    that awareness.

    I would recommend this book
    especially to the reader who is engaged in pursuing some of the more
    contemplative questions of the meaning of life and death. Whether or
    not you accept Dr. Newtons view of life after death, he does bring up
    stimulating theological and ethical issues which engage the reader in
    deeper thought.

    The Seven Sacred Rites of Menopause by Kristi Meisenbach Boylan

    “Do not judge a book by its cover,” it is said. This

    would have been good advice for me. From the cover, I

    had expected this to be a book of croning rituals. But

    it really wasn’t.

    So what was it? The author identified seven stages

    of transition that a woman goes through as part of the

    menopausal process, and suggests ways for women to

    move most easily through those transitions. She

    doesn’t create formal rituals for these milestones,

    but she draws parallels to various scenes in Marion

    Zimmer Bradley’s “Mists of Avalon” to illustrate the

    menopausal transitions with them.

    For instance, the first rite of menopause is

    “summoning the barge.” Our biological clocks indicate

    that the time has come, and our inner timekeepers

    summon the vessel to take us to the next step. She

    sees this stage as a deliberate act by the life force,

    not a haphazard occurence. While women may be

    surprised by the appearance of the barge, the author

    believes most women welcome it. The vessel takes them

    from an outward life self-denial, career, family, and

    self-discipline into a life that is more focused

    inward. Their souls called for the barge, needing the

    emotional and spiritual nourishment of developing

    their own selves.

    There are no scripted rituals for each rite. What

    the author points out are the things that will come up

    for each woman at that stage in the journey, and makes

    suggestions as to how to handle or approach each one.

    The last rite of the seven, the crowning of the crone,

    does have a suggested ritual to be done with a

    community of adults and children. It’s not scripted,

    but it has a clear outline to follow if you were to

    write one for yourself or someone else.

    The appendix has a good glossary of hormones and

    remedies, and affirmations for each of the seven rites

    of menopause. I appreciated the affirmation section of

    the glossary, as I do think they are very powerful

    tools for personal transformation, and I think the

    author did a nice job in creating these particular

    affirmations.

    In summary, this book was a short but valuable

    addition to a woman’s library on menopausal resources.

    I have not yet gone through menopause, but I am sure

    that when I summon my barge, I will give this book

    another reading.

    Exploring Celtic Druidism by Sirona Knight

    Exploring Celtic Druidism book coverCeltic Druidism has been a path steeped in mystery with a power at one with the earth and as ancient as the land from whence it comes. In her book, Exploring Celtic Druidism, Sirona Knight gives the reader a look into the history, mythology, beliefs and practices of Celtic Druidism. Sirona Knight is trained in a form of Celtic Druidism known as Gwyddonic Druidism, a Welsh tradition. In enchanting detail Sirona reviews the myriad aspects of the Goddess and the God, their connection to and expression of humanity’s link to everything or Oneness. As she puts it, “when you struggle with your world, you’re struggling with yourself”.

     

    Sirona takes the reader on a step by step journey which enables those seeking to start along the path of Celtic Druidism. Some of these steps range from gathering and consecrating one’s magical tools or working with divine teachers and choosing a craft, totem and secret name. She tells about initiation as a rebirth and a promise to work in harmony with Oneness.

    Sirona teaches the basics about Celtic Druidic altars, circle casting, rituals and Celtic Druidic philosophies. She also writes about the Wheel of the Year with its associated lunar and solar festivals. Sirona tells about the Druidic Five Magical Works or little works as they are also called. These are the art of creating and utilizing talismans, pentacles, binding, healing and the cone of power as a means to “attain magical goals and create a positive life pattern”.

    I found this to be an interesting book with many similarities towards Celtic and American Wicca. This book would be a good starter book for those with an interest in Druidic beliefs and even to those who are started along the Wiccan path. While much of the information seemed to be basic in comparison to in-depth studies which can be required or attained in some traditions, I found reading it to be a re-affirming experience. The continuing trend towards reconnection to the old ways and the feminine aspect of the godhead are movements which I personally hope this book enables onward. I hope that other readers are able to find the sense of reflection and peace which I experienced while reading Sirona Knight’s book. Blessed Be.