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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in book reviews

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

“Our creations make doorways in the dark for others to slip out of the status quo and into the magic of greater possibility.”

—Lucy H. Pearce (Creatrix)

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

“In yoga class, I often remind my students that we can be peaceful and powerful, calm yet strong—all in the same breath. I think there is a peace to be found in the acceptance of all of these contradictory powers within us. Finding a way to stand within this unknown and unknowable. We are gloriously complex and contradictory in a world that loves boxes, snap judgments and 100% certainty. People may find this inability to define you uncomfortable, but this is a reminder that you do not owe anyone an explanation. Your rich inner world needn’t mean anything to anyone but yourself. A person can be called a witch for merely knowing, and for owning her knowledge. And to some, for strange reasons that may include fear, power, jealousy, a woman who ‘knows’ is dangerous indeed…Communicating *I am knowledgeable, powerful, and I can make choices about how I use these strengths…can be a real challenge to the status quo!”

—Sarah Robinson, Yoga for Witches (p. 93)

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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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Modern Minoan Paganism: A bunch of book reviews

I've posted a good handful of book reviews on this blog, and it occurred to me that it might be helpful to have them all in one place so no one has to sift through five years of blog posts (good grief, has it really been that long?) to find them.

These are in-depth reviews of books that I think you'll find helpful and interesting if you're exploring Modern Minoan Paganism. We also have a long, long book list over in Ariadne's Tribe of books we've all found helpful. But that doesn't include reviews, just simple descriptions. Some of the books I've reviewed below are now out of print, but they're well worth tracking down via interlibrary loan or the various online used booksellers. A good reference is a good reference, after all.

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“The Archangel Guide to the Animal World” by Diana Cooper

In my reviews, I like to feature books that are often overlooked by people interested in animal wisdom. Diana Cooper, a New Age Practitioner, has written about animals from her perspective.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Review of Horn of the Kraken

Set in the Fate of the Norns universe originated by Andrew Valkauskas, Horn of the Kraken by Stephen B. Pearl is the first in a new series within that universe. This is a universe full of magic and fantastical beasts, where the Norns choose human champions. Based on historical conversion-era Europe, featuring some historical figures such as Eric Blood-Axe, Horn of the Kraken is also set during Fimbulwinter, the prelude to Ragnarok. Fimbulwinter is the breakdown in the cycle of the seasons in which the sun never rises again and winter lasts until the end of the world. The world’s central problem is the mass failure of agriculture, and the world’s politics centers on the impact that would have if it occurred during the Viking Age. The villains, who are Christians out to convert the heathen and control the world’s economy and political structures, are using a mysterious new superweapon, the Horn of the Kraken.

Into this come five chosen heroes. Fjorn is a nobleman and a fighter/bard. Politics stalks him because of his bloodlines. Sigurlina is a seidhkona, a type of heathen witch with powers of necromancy and healing. She serves Freya and is sworn to avenge her family against Christian ruler Hakon. Audun is a rune master who has a near-death experience at the hands of the Christian enemy that echoes the story of Odin’s runic initiation on the Tree. Ragna is a thief. She tags along to get out of town ahead of trouble. Vidurr is a werewolf who serves Surtr, the king of the fiery underworld who is prophesied to fight against the gods at Ragnarok and destroy the world. Vidurr’s sole desire in life is to avenge his family against the Christian “crusaders.” Although those who serve Odin and those who serve Surtr are theological enemies within heathenry, they join forces against the outside threat of the Christians. Pearl knows enough about heathenry to portray both the Odin’s man and the Surtr’s man as having no god-based conflict with the Freya’s woman.

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Book Review: The Dawn of Genius - Minoan super-civilization?

I freely admit to reading pretty much anything I can get my hands on about the ancient Minoans, simply because there's not that much available. I began this particular book with a bit of trepidation, since its cover is full of hype ("The Minoan Super-Civilization and the Truth about Atlantis" is a bit much, I think). The author, Alan Butler, has previously collaborated with Christopher Knight to write some fairly controversial books such as The Hiram Key Revisited and Before the Pyramids, which didn't help my confidence. Fortunately, it appears that when he's writing by himself, Mr. Butler does an excellent job of collecting up known facts and strong evidence and drawing reasonable conclusions from them. The cover is the wildest thing about the book; I quite enjoyed the contents.

So what's the book about? The first section does an excellent job of organizing and explaining the things we know fairly surely about the ancient Minoans, including all the latest data that often gets left out of the articles that get passed around online so frequently (the book was published in 2014 so it's pretty up-to-date). Unlike many writers who rely on outdated references, Butler gets the timeline right: The Mediterranean island of Thera (modern Santorini) erupted in about 1628 BCE, dealing a heavy blow to Minoan civilization and creating a weakness that allowed the Mycenaeans to enter into their sphere and eventually take over (and ultimately, destroy Minoan culture since they don't seem to have been able to adapt well enough to wrangle Crete's stubborn native population into compliance). Minoan civilization itself officially ended about two centuries after the eruption, with the systematic destruction of all the major cities and temple complexes.

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