Pagan Studies - Reviews
Inner Paths to Outer Space:
Journeys to Alien Worlds through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies
RICK STRASSMAN, M.D., J. SLAWEK WOJTOWIC, M.D., LUIS EDUARDO LUNA, PH.D., AND EDE FRECSKA, M.D.
PARK STREET PRESS, 2008.
It’s been over forty years since Carlos Castaneda introduced a mainstream Western audience to indigenous spirituality and shamanism, in no small part through sensationalizing his interest in the ceremonial use of peyote. He was building on the pioneering work of ethnobotanist Robert Schultes and philosopher Aldous Huxley, who began writing about the spiritual dimension of “psychedelic” mushrooms and other entheogenic plants in the early twentieth century. Given the subsequent work on this topic by Terrance McKenna, Wade Davis, and others, and the suspicion and disapproval this line of inquiry usually meets, is there anything new to be said about the spiritual dimension of psychedelic plants?
According to doctors Strassman, Wojtowicj, Luna, and Frecska, there is plenty left to be said. These medical researchers bring years of experimental and experiential data together to paint a compelling picture of worlds undreamed of. Inner Paths to Outer Space presents a cogent and exhaustively supported synopsis of the cutting edge of consciousness research. Focusing on the psycho-integrator drug DMT, and its botanical source, ayahuasca, Strassman et al lay out the current science as a strong foundation for a new model of consciousness that begins to look a lot more like science fiction than science fact.
Dreams of the Magus:
Where Angels Fear to Tread
G. Peter Madstone, CreateSpace, 2009
One word: paradox. I have only read a handful of books that explore the often-overlooked “divine dichotomy” of spiritual paradox; the force that upholds and maintains all of reality. Magicians, Witches, and innumerable other spiritual path-walkers so often quarrel over details; in my eyes, one must step back from the smaller bits in order to see the bigger picture.
Where Do Demons Live?
Everything You Want to Know About Magic
Frater U.:D.:, Llewellyn 2010
In Where Do Demons Live? Frater U.:D.: assumes the persona of “Aunt Klara”, an agony aunt for occultniks to deliver lectures on magickal combat, magickal music, and the models of magick (with a focus on the elusive cybernetic model). The twenty-eight mini essays presented here originally appeared as a part of “Aunt Klara’s Temple of Solace”, a column written for the German periodical Anubis, collected here in their entirety. The result — reminiscent of Aleister Crowley’s Magick Without Tears — is a collection of refreshingly direct advice on all things magickal.
The Octavo (Roundworld Edition):
A Sorcerer-Scientist’s Grimoire
Peter J. Carroll, Mandrake, 2010
Peter Carroll’s latest book pays further tribute to the creative genius of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld while continuing Carroll’s synthesis of magic and physics. The Octavo’s eight chapters tell how our “Roundworld” universe is constructed in ways corresponding to magical operations. Many familiar ideas from Carroll’s previous works are represented along with fresh insights encountered by the author in recent years. Appendices include a sort of field manual for the Knights of Chaos, a Chaos magic activism initiative; the Mass of Chaos E (for Eris); and rules for Sorcerer’s Chess, which replaces the rooks’ pawns with assassin pieces able to move in “real” or “virtual” space. Matt Kabryn’s excellent digital illustrations are unfortunately too dark in print to show many of their fine details.
Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick
Volume One: Foundation Frater Barrabbas
Megalithica Books, 2008
Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick, Volume One: Foundation provides readers with an intense and deep deconstruction of high magick ritual practices. Frater Barrabbas believes that his book gives a magician the tools to “write from scratch a complete system of ritual magick.” That, in fact, is the goal of this book — the ability to create one’s own magickal craft. The reader is then taken through nine topics that, when put together, should help aspiring students to create their own systems. These topics are: the Divine Tetrad (four elements), magickal power, magickal persona, mind control, sacred space, ritual structures, ritual performance, transformative initiation, and mysteries. The rest of the book dedicates one chapter to each one of these nine topics.
WEATHER SHAMANISM: HARMONIZING OUR CONNECTION WITH THE ELEMENTS
BY NAN MOSS AND DAVID CORBIN, BEAR & COMPANY, 2008
The weather, as you may have noticed, is getting pretty intense. Tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, blizzards and ice-storms all have been rocking our communities worldwide over the past few years, and they show no signs of diminishing. With some notable (and ridiculous) exceptions, most people now acknowledge that global climate change is partly responsible for this increase in climate disasters and intense weather events. Those of us who practice a spirituality that calls for authentic relationships with the elements of nature are seeking ways to dance with these changes and find ways to strengthen these relationships. It is more than timely now that Nan Moss and David Corbin present us with Weather Shamanism, a book geared towards the spiritual understanding of weather and inspiring others to communicate with the neglected and intensely powerful spirits of sky, wind, cloud, rain, hail and snow that rule our lives in ways we have forgotten how to understand, or even acknowledge.