Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Art of Conversation with the Genius Loci


Author: Barry Patterson
ISBN: 1861631693

I don't know why it took me so long to finish this book. I do know that my bookmark kept falling out, which meant I often re-read whole sections with a very deep sense of déjà vu, which was frustrating.
I liked this book - a lot. Its a great introduction to connecting with the world around us on a more profound level. The author includes several exercises, in the form of guided meditations, and these should be helpful to anyone starting out in magic or broader pagan practices. The author states he is buddhist, and although I did not agree with a small number of his views, overall I liked (and understood) his reasoning for behind the ideals he put forward; agreeing with him far more often than not.

The content of the book clearly demonstrates that Mr Patterson practices that about which he writes. He often includes personal anecdotes to illustrate a point. This is not someone trying to set themself up as a master (and he states this himself), but rather provide clear guidelines for those just starting out. In fact, this book excels in that regard and, in future, I will not hesitate to put in on recommended reading lists for those new to the pagan or witchcraft worlds.

Mr Patterson writes so that his ideas are easily absorbed and he also provides an extensive set of appendices including list of various organisations and a bibliography for further information. He has also taken the time to incorporate some of his prose and poetry, which is helpful in understanding the concepts discussed.

I have to say it is one the most sensible books I’ve read about outdoor practices in a very long time. He speaks of not taking anything from sites but memories and what constitutes a suitable offering (as opposed to crystals blasted from mines, etc.). In my opinon, Barry Patterson is a breath of fresh air in the beginner’s guides.

It was a unique read for me in that some of the places explored are quite near to my own place of residence and it was interesting to hear the insights of another who had visited those areas. Having an experience of the same locations made for interesting connections whilst reading the book. I was able to put myself in the author's shoes on occasion and this was somehow comforting.


I have to admit my favourite chapter was the first where we learn of his experiences on a solo trip in the Outer Hebrides. Having visited the area, I immediately understood the nature of his experience. Even so, the rest of the book is a joy, and a must to read. I certainly learned a few things, and there are a few people out there I believe need to read this book and should read this book.

The book loses a tenth of a point in ratings solely because of the extra blank pages disrupting some of the chapters. A fault with the publishers I feel.

Rating: 4.9/5

Barry Patterson does have his own website at: Red Sandstone Hill if you wish to learn more about the man behind the book.

3 comments:

Geraldine Moorkens Byrne said...

A very interesting review! I think this has to go on my list.........

WM said...

Thanks for this review, sounds worth a look. Getting back to basics for pagans is always a useful reminder. Finally managed a link to your blog on mine - sorry it's taken so long! (I'm inept ;-))

lee said...

will have to get hold of this one then i think, based on your review

:)