Mike Gleason


A Dragon’s Valentine by Ciaran Corby © 2009 Mystic Moon Press ISBN 978-0-9823251-9-3 61 pages eBook $2.49 (U.S.)

Over the past few years I have slowly been convinced that e-Books are ALMOST as good as their paper and ink counterparts. They are more environmentally friendly, for sure. And it is obviously easier to find a “publisher” for a shorter work, such as this one. And they are obviously less expensive, which is an excellent point in view of the economy as it now stands. The only major disadvantage, from my point of view, is portability (not being able to afford a laptop, I am confined to my desktop PC).

I have reviewed several e-Books by Ciaran Corby and have thoroughly enjoyed all of them. This one is no exception. It is a fairly basic story which moves along at a good pace. There isn’t a lot of character development and background, but that’s not surprising given the length.

There is a certain amount of character overlap in Ciaran’s books, as the WestCraven family figures at least peripherally in every one I have read. The books are targeted for the Young Adult or teen market (at least as far as I can tell). I would enjoy seeing them all collected and published as a collection of short stories and available as a physical book (Have I mentioned that I prefer the portability of an ink and paper book?)

Even though this book is not part of a chronology (at least as far as I can see), I finished it with a sense of anticipating the next offering of these authors. Their work is easy to read and enjoyable. You really can’t ask for more in the entertainment genre. The plot resolution was a little simplistic. But then, in a short offering such as this, that is pretty much a foregone conclusion.

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.


The Rainbow of My Soul by Katie C. Scott © 2009 Available as a download for $1.25 366 pages Paperback $16.85 (U.S.)

This is an expansion and revision of Katie’s previous work, Wisdom of the Woods. The original collection of poems numbered a bit more than 80, while this offering contains nearly four times as many in a book which is three times the length. Not all of the original poems made into this collection, although I’m not sure why.

I freely admit that I often avoid poetry (especially modern poetry) since I often fail to “get it”. Some poets, in my opinion, lost sight of their potential audience and produce poetry strictly for their own consumption. Ms. Scott is not one of those poets, I am happy to say.

Ms. Scott makes an effort, at the very least, to appeal to a variety of readers with varying viewpoints, and covers everything from earth and animals, holidays and love, among other topics. Most of the poems are short (some are extremely short), which may make them more appealing to some readers. She also introduces each section with a few remarks so you can get a feel for her thoughts.

Due to the relatively high cost of printing and shipping a book to me, I read this as an eBook and found that the only drawback for me was the limited time I had each day to read it (I share a computer with my son [anybody got a spare laptop lying around?]). It would have been nice to have a hard copy by my bedside for late night reading.

I know that poetry can have a limited appeal (I admitted as much earlier), but I really do like Katie’s style and presentation. The only “flaw” I found was the arranging of the Table of Contents alphabetically rather than sequentially, and that is simply a matter of personal taste and nothing more.

My review of the original edition was very short (in fact, this review is already longer that it was), but it hit the high points nicely. I found this collection of poems to be thought provoking in some instances, and a pleasant relaxing interlude in others. There is a little something for everyone in this collection.

I would recommend buying the physical book (again, personal preference), but if you opt to go for the eBook, I recommend backing it up so that if you have a computer mishap you don’t lose this enjoyable little gem. I have no hesitation recommending it to folks who enjoy traditional forms of poetry.


Living Temple of Witchcraft, The Volume 2 by Christopher Penczak © 2009 Llewellyn ISBN: 978-0-7387-1478-3 480 pages Paperback $23.95 (U.S.) $27.95 (Canada)

I reviewed the CD Companion set to this book recently and found it to be, as is usual with Christopher’s work, excellent. It was, as I noted then, not a substitute for this book however. There is so much more to the training which he offers, outside of the meditations and other verbal exercises.

This book is the final entry in a series of books which has, potentially, exposed the reader to a variety of ways of viewing Witchcraft. It, and its companion, is designed to help the reader function as a High Priest/ess (as much as any printed source can). There is no substitute for experience, but these books help to explore some of the depths which are so seldom explored in most books on the market.

As noted previously, Christopher and I come from very different backgrounds (both magickal and mundane), so we don’t always see eye to eye. While our perceptions may vary, our goals are very similar – to help everyone (including ourselves) to be the best individual possible.

This volume, the final one in his “Temple of Witchcraft” series is less about a different approach to the religion and more about the function of a High Priest/ess and culminates in a ritual sealing the commitment of the individual to fulfill that function. It is meant to be used in conjunction with the previously issued Volume 1.

He walks you through a variety of experiences which will help you to expand your perceptions of the actions of divinity in your life; the relationships between astrological signs and divinity; and how these things relate to your actual life and relationships to others.

Although any of the six books in the series can be studied as a “stand alone.” You would derive more benefit from reading and experiencing all of them. The CD Companion sets are also a worthwhile addition to your library. The entire series is designed to provide an overview of Christopher’s five degree system of Witchcraft training.

This volume exposes the reader to twelve astrological/archetypal god-forms and shows some unexpected correlations. It also addresses a number of “real world” issues which are often ignored (or at best, downplayed) by other writers, including the place of children in our religion, interfaith communications, the use of psychoactive materials, and other topics.

Christopher has always attempted to make his material both understandable and useful, and he has once again succeeded. This final volume in his series succeeds in going well beyond the basics, without leaving the reader confused. His writing is crisp and clear, his focus sharp, and he has the potential to be one of this generation’s pivotal writers. This book (and indeed, the entire series) deserves to be in your bookcase.