by

Mike Gleason

 

Soul Wide Open CD by Katrin Roush © 2009 10 tracks www.katrinrocks.com approximate running time: 40 Minutes $15.99 (U.S.)

I had never heard Katrin’s music before I received this disc (this is her third release). I don’t get a chance to listen to many new artists (or even old, established artists, for that matter). But I am glad I had the opportunity to sit down and listen to the engaging lyrics and compelling music presented on this album.

The songs are universal in their appeal with a strong country/blue flavor. Even if you don’t think you like that style of music (it’s not one of my personal favorites) you may be surprised to find yourself tapping fingers or toes as you listen. The words and music kind of creep up on you and guide you subtly into Katrin’s world.

There is something here which is sure to resonate for you. Whether it is the overcoming of misfortune (“One Year’s Time” or putting your life together from many little things (“Steppin’ Stones”), or any other number of life experiences, Katrin offers her take on it and shows an appreciation of those components of life.

Ms. Roush’s debut album was released in 2001, her next came out in 2005, and this third one was released this year, so it looks like I will have a four year wait for the next release (I really hate waiting), so it seems I will have to scrape together a few dollars and get the earlier releases to add to my musical library.


The Secret of the Dread Forest: The Faire Folk Trilogy by Gillian Summers © 2009 Llewellyn ISBN: 978-0-7387-1411-0 281 pages Paperback $9.95

According to other reviewers this is a Young Adult “chick fantasy” series. Unfortunately for me, this is another series I discovered by accident and long after it started. This is the final book in the current trilogy (the Scions of Shadow trilogy will continue the story).

This book (and the series, from what I can gather) is intended purely as entertainment, which is a good thing, as some of the imagery is wrong. At one point Keelie, the young heroine, refers to the Salem Witch Trials as ending “…in a barbecue.” Actually, they ended with hangings, but since this is not intended to be a factual book, this is a minor point.

While I would hesitate to say that this is a classic work, it does incorporate some classic ideas of fantasy literature: the juxtaposition of mundane and otherworldly characters and locales, the opposition of good and evil, and the redemption of “evil” by the compassion of the protagonist.

It is an enjoyable book which, while requiring a suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader, can be easily understood (even by “muggles”) and read without arousing a lot of “What’s that?” moments. I wish I had found this series earlier so I could have read it from the very start.

The story of Keelie Heartwood (daughter of a Tree Shepherd) will continue through at least another trilogy (Scions of Shadow) which sound as if they may have a slightly darker emphasis (or is that my personal reaction to “Shadows”?). In any case, I am sure she will grow and mature. She will also learn of her multiple heritages (elf, human, and fae).

If you are a parent looking for a fun summer read for your child, this series may fit the bill. While the central character is a teenage girl, even the guys should enjoy this story.


 

Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick Book 1: Foundation by Frater Barrabbas © 2008 Immanion Press ISBN: 978-1905713202 Paperback 204 pages $21.99 (U.S.)

Ordinarily, I don’t read other reviewers’ comments before I start reading a book, but the author alerted me to a review which had panned this book, so I took a look to see what had caused the dislike. The gist of the comments amounted to the fact that this book was confusing. While this may have been true, it is somewhat expected for two reasons. First, this is a book of Ritual Magick, which is slightly different from the more common Ceremonial Magick. Second, this is NOT a “101” book, but is designed for intermediate (at least semi-experienced) practitioners, so it makes certain assumptions.

Perhaps that reviewer’s confusion arose from the fact that she was expecting a basic exposition of Ritual Magick, since the book is the foundation of a trilogy. Since Frater Barrabbas assumes a working knowledge of Ritual Magick to begin with he begins in the “deep end of the pool.” This is most certainly not a beginner’s work. If you are a novice you will be confused. You might want to buy this series and put it aside until you are ready for it.

Another potential problem regarding the other reviewer (in my opinion) is her youth. She is not yet out of her twenties and may (potentially) not have enough magickal and life experience under her belt. To an extent, this is evident since she dismisses Frater Barrabbass’ non-amplification of statements without realizing that they were more fully covered in his previous work (The Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick). He consistently refers readers to this earlier work, and to attempt to understand the current work without having read it is like trying to understand advanced college courses without having covered the prerequisite material.

Although I am not a practicing magician on the level of Frater Barrabbas (I have not dedicated the requisite time or energy necessary to work at that level), I have enough exposure to those kinds of workings to recognize the essential truths of his work. While the reviewer referenced earlier found reason to disagree with almost every aspect of this work, having had more exposure to magickal workings (I have been working low level magick longer than she has been in this incarnation), I recognize that disagreement about technique and attitude does not invalidate the workings of others. Like the previous reviewer, I don’t entirely agree with Frater Barrabbas. Unlike her, I took the time to read his earlier work and thus had a basis to understand his positions.

Keying off the title of this series (“mastering the Art of Ritual Magick”), I would not expect this to be a beginner’s book, since mastery of a subject does not come at the start of one’s studies. This is obviously intended as an intermediate series of works, designed to prepare the reader (and encourage them) for further independent, unguided studies and practices.

Expectations can color one’s perceptions. If you tackle a subject expecting to find a simple answer, it is easy to be confused. Conversely, if you expect deeply profound insight, you may miss simply stated truths. Go into this book only if you have clearly defined your own expectations and be prepared to give it more than one reading. Do your preparation (Read The Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick), and your homework, and you can expect to gain new insights and benefits from your magickal workings; attempt it unprepared and unwilling to work at it, and you will come away (at best) confused and/or disappointed.

 

Magical Bride: Craft an Interfaith Wedding for a Goddess by Clea Danaan © 2009 Wyrdwood Publications eISBN: WYRDWOOD-0017 e-Book 194 pages $6.99 (U.S.)

As a member of the Craft, and as a reviewer, I have read a lot of information on how to create a handfasting and/or an interfaith ceremony. Almost all of them have concentrated on the symbols involved and the writing and performance of the ceremony itself. It would be fair to say that I expected more of the same from this book. I WAS WRONG.

That’s not to say that this type of information isn’t included, because it certainly is. It’s just that this offering is AT LEAST as concerned with the nuts and bolts of a wedding – finding appropriate (for the individual) attire , setting budgets, locating the ideal site for the ceremony, and all the rest of the details that will make or break your memories of this wonderful day.

By the time I was half-way through the book I had only encountered a few pages on the meanings of colors, stones and metals. And most of that was couched in thoroughly mundane terms. This truly is a book which is appropriate for the bride- or groom-to-be at every level of Craft knowledge, from merely supporting you new spouse in their path to full-blown initiate.

Clea provides some very basic information on deities associated with marriage and family life scattered throughout the book. Each box of information is kept short and very general. Again, the idea is to be appealing to the widest possible readership.

This book is aimed at real world brides and grooms. Amongst the best advice she gives is to be organized (even though she admits to her own shortcomings as time grew short for her own ceremony) in your planning and to remember to have fun and be realistic (i.e., keep you expenses to a reasonable level. There is no reason to start a new life deeply in debt).

It is about making your guests comfortable as they share your big day. Your dear Aunt Martha and Uncle Tom may be good Methodists, but there are ways to help them appreciate why you chose THAT particular candle color, or why you chose a song including names from Greek mythology without compromising your own beliefs. By the same token, your coven-mates need not feel they have been forced to endure something which causes shivers. You can be inclusive and accommodating without compromise if you follow some of the suggestions put forth in this book.

If you have a wedding, handfasting, or commitment ceremony of any kind coming up, this inexpensive little offering is well worth the price. In fact, it is worth far more than its price, if only for the common sense reminders contained within it.