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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Book Review

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Note to Reader:

I thought that I'd posted this one years ago, but--if so--I can't seem to find it. So here's a repost, following the news of Kingsnorth's recent reception into the Orthodox Church.

 

Paul Kingsnorth, The Wake (2015). Graywolf Press

 

If you read only one novel this year, let it be Paul Kingsnorth's The Wake.

The emergence of post-apocalyptic narrative in early “twenty-first” century fiction, cinema, and television is an intriguing and suggestive phenomenon, offering rich possibilities for satire, cultural critique, and reflection on direction for possible futures.

But of course, as every heathen knows, when it comes to Apocalypse, we've already been there and done that. In human history, Ragnarok comes again and again. This is how Kingsnorth can characterize his novel, now newly released in the US and currently long-listed for the prestigious Booker Prize, as “a post-apocalyptic novel set 1000 years in the past.”

Imagine that you've lost everything: your property, your possessions, your family, your culture itself, even your gods. This is the tale that Kingsnorth tells in The Wake. The year is 1066.

Buccmaster, the novel's protagonist and narrator, is a sokeman—an independent, landed farmer—in the Fens of northeastern England's Danelaw, on the eve of England's most cataclysmic event: the long echoes of which, as Kingsnorth judiciously notes, are still to be felt in our day. A millennium after the Norman Invasion, 70% of land in England still belongs to 1% of the population. 1000 years after Hastings, you can still look at my friend David and I and say: that one's the Norman, that one's the Saxon.

I've withheld some important information about our hero. He's also heathen.

it is like my grandfather saed to me like what I saed to ecceard to these wapentac men this hwit crist he lies. it is hard to sae these things they moste be saed in thy hus only if thu is hierde the preost and the thegn and the gerefa and the wapentac they will tac thu down. but it is lic my grandfather saed before the crist cum our folcs gods was of anglish wind and water now this ingenga [inganger = foreign] god from ofer the sea this god he tacs from us what we is. there is sum of us saes my grandfather still cepan alyf the eald gods of angland efen in these times and he wolde spec to me of these things when my father was not lystnan a thrall was he to those who wolde tac from him what macd him man (Kingsnorth 23).

The language of this tragic and compelling novel is, as you can see, a time-travel English, an English entirely Anglo-Saxon, lacking French vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation: what English might have become had Hastings never happened.

As a boy, Buccmaster's grandfather took him to the drowned grove where the old gods once lived.

and the gods he saes the gods them selfs waits still beneath these waters for us to cum baec and when angland is in need if we call them they will cum all of them from the old holt [grove] below this fenn mere and feoht again with anglisc men agan any and heaw [hew] them down (Kingsnorth 54)

In the face of the death of his culture, Buccmaster cries out:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Old Books Part 1: Ravenwolf's Hex Magic

Having stacks and stacks of boxes of books that Tom had had in his box storage room, I have decided to read some older books for the first time. My professional book reviews are of brand new books, and I won't be going into the same kind of detail on these older books here on my blog that I do when I review a new book for a magazine. These reviews will be shorter and more casual.

First up is Silver Ravenwolf's Hex Magic. It's full of spells I do not recommend anyone actually try, because she has taken traditional Penn. Deitsch spells and Wiccanized them in odd ways, and if one wants to learn that type of magic I would recommend learning from Urglaawe magical folk of whatever kind, hexmeisters or whatever. However, Urglaawe wasn't on the net ready to teach people at the time her book was written, and a lot of the personal stories are fascinating snapshots in time.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Thanks. Hadn't heard that story. I haven't thrown any review copies into the garbage but I did throw one across a hotel room once
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I actually have that book in my collection. I like your phrase "seeing the world through Wicca tinted glasses". Mark Stavish who
Inspired Reading: Seasons of Moon and Flame

Several years ago I wrote a post that was inspired by reading a book by Danielle Dulsky entitled, Woman Most Wild: Three Keys for Liberating the Witch Within. It came at a time when I needed a reminder of the power of the sacred feminine and acknowledgment of the wilder, less sweet nature of the feminine polarity. 

Now, in the midst of COVID-19 and the uncertainty and lack of power that many fear, another of Danielle's books has made its way to my door and into my life. This title-Seasons of Moon and Flame; the Wild Dreamer's Epic Journey of Becoming gave me pause to reassess much of what I have taken for granted as part of my nature and the pressures of moving at lightning speed. The back cover speaks to what lay inside the pages of this book....

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Chasing the Minoan Sun Goddess: two book reviews

Modern Pagans are used to pantheons that have a Sun god and a Moon goddess. But it hasn't always been that way. Some of the oldest and earliest religions in the world have a Sun goddess. When we went looking for the Minoan deity who was associated with the Sun, we found not a god but a goddess. We call her Therasia.

How did we find her? Two books were very helpful, as was the author of one of them. Until I read The Ancient and Martial Dances by Arlechina Verdigris, I had no idea that dance ethnography could be such a powerful tool for teasing out bits of mythos. Ms. Verdigris's study of Mediterranean folk dance shows clearly that it still holds layers that go back at least to late Minoan times, and probably much earlier, giving glimpses of not only a Sun goddess but also a grain goddess and the Mountain Mother who rules over the crafts that use her substance to create beautiful objects: pottery and metal-smithing.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Avi—Dude—You're Gay; Figure It Out

 Reading Avi Steinberg's The Lost Book of Mormon: A Journey Through the Mythic Lands of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Kansas City, Missouri

(In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Proposes Marriage—Well, Kind Of—to a Man He's Never Met)

 

Avi Steinberg is on a quest. He's in search of his identity.

Well, there's nothing more American than that. Jewish, born in Israel, grew up in Cleveland...oh, an intellectual, and a writer. Of course he's in search of an identity.

Where better than to look than among the Mormons, right?

Avi's marriage (to a woman) isn't working, and he's running away from it by going on his quest. The good news: in the end Avi actually does manage to find his identity. The bad: I'm not quite sure that he realizes that he's found it.

I love Avi (me, I'd marry him any day), I love his writing, and I love his book. The book's central (really rather belabored) metaphor: writer as prophet, book as scripture. Who better to act as Dantean guide than that all-American prophet/shyster-cum-novelist Joseph Smith himself, with his fake Bible of gold plates, the Book of Mormon?

It's a quest, it's a romp, it's a meditation on the re-enchantment of landscape. Avi signs up with a Mormon tour group to see the “original” locations of the Book of Mormon events in Central America and Mexico. Then he travels to Palmyra, New York for an abortive appearance in the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant. Last of all he ends up in the Mormon Eden of Kansas City, Missouri.

I started to wonder during his account of the casting of the pageant, with its breathless descriptions of beefcake.

I kept wondering through his description about stripping down to his briefs along with his fellow actors.

But I was sure when I got to the epilogue.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Book Review: Aspecting the Goddess

I hadn't intended to review Jane Meredith's book Aspecting the Goddess on this blog. But then I read her tale of Ariadne, and I just had to.

The book is both a how-to manual of methods for connecting with the divine and a recounting of her own experiences using those methods. Her writing is poetic, touching, and inspiring - and just to be clear, the methods can be used to develop relationships with gods, goddesses, land spirits, and other non-human beings.

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Book Review:  The Akashic Records by Ernesto Ortiz

Published by New Page Books, 2015

The Akashic Records: Sacred Exploration of Your Soul's Journey Within the Wisdom of the Collective Consciousness, by Ernesto Ortiz

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