Monday, 24 May 2010

Defences Against the Witches' Craft

Defences Against the Witches' Craft
Title: Defences Against the Witches' Craft: Anti-cursing Charms from English Folk Magick, Traditional Witchcraft and the Grimoire Traditions
Author: John Canard
ISBN: 9781905297184

No preaching, just practical ways of preventing and combatting curses and hexes. I only had one small quibble on a historical matter, but other than that a superb book that every witch should own.

Defences Against the Witches' Craft is a slim book packed full of useful information on charms, amulets and other ways of dealing with malefic magical forces; taken from history, but still used in modern times.  The author, John Canard, provides methods of preventing and combatting curses and hexes using a wide variety of English practices including herbs, poppets, special stones and other traditional tools.  The source of information is provided in all cases, most of which is very much rooted in England, but is supplemented by similar practices from other cultures, and a small bibliography is provided for the reader who wishes to explore further the historical uses of the various items mentioned in the book.  For the most part, it is assumed the reader has a working knowledge of magic, with step-by-step instructions provided only for a few methods.

The book is well written, in a friendly manner, and refrains from preaching on ethical matters.  I recommend this book and I am considering it as a birthday present for more than just one of my witchy friends.

Rating: 4½/5.

Friday, 21 May 2010

The Mark of a Druid

Rhonda R. Carpenter has managed to pack a lot into "The Mark of a Druid".  It features England, Ireland, the United States, the past, the present, druids, christians, sovereignty, shapeshifting, prophecy, reincarnation, past life regression, hypnosis, murder and drama.

I listened to the book in audio format via the free subscription at iTunes.  The story seems slow to start and jumped quite a bit, from past to present, and between characters but, eventually, I was hooked.  Towards the end, as all the elements started to come together, the pace quickened, but the author was careful to keep you waiting for the ending you knew just had to be.

One quibble I had with the podcast format was the Rhonda R. Carpenter's reading style.  Strange punctuational pauses were distracting as was the apparently inappropriate changes in pitch giving emphasis were it was not warranted.  After a while, I noticed it less and less, with only the occasional inner query arising.   Still, it was worthwhile listening to the audio version on my commute to and from work.

I will purchase a hard copy of "The Mark of a Druid", eventually, to re-read at my leisure. I would imagine it would be a great book to take on holiday as the story is broken down into small segments, as it alternates between the past and present, thus allowing the reader to pick it up and put it down at will.

Rating:  4/5.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Valhalla Rising

Watched "Valhalla Rising" last night. The director refers to his movie as Viking Sci-Fi in the "Making of ..." extra. The characters don't go into outer space, so much as inner space and it's a numinous but brutal film. I found it hard to comprehend at first and I had no idea where I was being led but the journey is intense.

Mads Mikkelsen, the Danish actor (King Arthur, Clash of the Titans), plays the central character, who is mute, referred to as "One Eye", but is listed as Harald in the credits.  Scottish actors fulfill the roles of the Vikings.

The one-eyed slave is kept by a pagan clan because he is a champion in fighting tournaments. After a vision[?], the enslaved warrior finds a way to escape his captors.  After an encounter with Christians seeking Jerusalem and its riches, the journey to the promised land/Valhalla/Hel begins.

The cinematography is darkly atmospheric and the director allows the uncompromising weather of the Highlands of Scotland to add to the intensity of the characters and storyline.  The beauty of the landscape however does little to counter the violence encountered in various scenes.

Valhalla Rising is definitely a film that requires more thought than it might at first appear.  I shall definitely be viewing it again.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Submissions Sought: Pagan Poetry Pages Summer 2010 Edition

The Pagan Poetry Pages are now accepting submissions for their Summer Edition. All writers of poetry and prose are invited to submit their work, either by posting on the fora at the Pagan Poetry Pages website, or by emailing the editor at editors(at)paganpoetrypages(dot)com.

Writers do not have to be pagan, but if the piece is pagan themed, or related to paganism in some way, please consider submitting your work for publication to the Summer edition of the Pagan Poetry Pages.