Posted Under Paganism & Witchcraft

Witchy Update: Fall's Fruitful Harvest

Thanksgiving Items

As I told you last time, we have a TON of new fall books, so I had to find some way of categorizing them to make your browsing easier. Since Fall is the theme, I’m going to do a fruits of the harvest metaphor (or maybe it’s Thanksgiving). You’ll find easy links here to skip to the section that sounds most appetizing to you.

First, you’ll get “crispy fall goodies” – the yummy ones that, like the season’s first apple, you want to take a huge bite out of and let the juices run down your chin. These are the light, sweet books that are sure to refresh your mind and attitude.

Next are the “roasted, rich, and mellow” crop – think of a butternut squash, roasted beautifully and drizzled with brown sugar, or stuffed into ravioli sprinkled with toasted walnuts. These are books to be savored and devoured with a full-bodied red wine or a bracing mug of cider.

Then you’ll see “just out of the oven, warm and gooey” – an apple crisp, or a caramel-laden brownie. Something decadent and delicious. These are the books you’ll keep coming back to again and again because of their style and their substance; they are so rich you’ll want to work through them in small portions, though.

Finally, the "unexpected side dishes” – these are like broccoli florets steamed and sprinkled with lemon juice and Parmesan, or a cauliflower and apple puree. Maybe you didn’t want broccoli or cauliflower, but it looks too good not to try. Likewise, these are not your typical “Witchy Update” books, but maybe if they’re on your plate you’d like to try one.

Yeah, maybe you’re right—shouldn’t write Witchy Update when I’m hungry. On to the books! (Pssst…if you’re looking for Christopher Penczak’s new book, it’s in “just out of the oven.”)

Crispy fall goodies
Everyday Witch A to Z: An Amusing, Inspiring & Informative Guide to the Wonderful World of Witchcraft by Deborah Blake is everything the subtitle promises it will be. It really is a joy to flip through the pages and read up on topics that might give you new ideas or might just make you giggle. I think this review says it all when Diva Digest writes, “In my house, it’s quite a compliment to have a book relegated to the back of the toilet, although it seems it would not be. That’s where all the best reading goes for us and this one will be a constant bathroom companion.” Yes, it really is that good. Michael Gleason’s review suggests that this would make a great Yule gift, too. It has a really fun interior, full of purple pages and black cats—complementing a non-dogmatic, non-threatening exploration of Wicca and Witchcraft that is sure to go over well with family members and newbies alike. (October release.)

The Goddess Pages: A Divine Guide to Finding Love and Happiness by Laurie Sue Brockway is a friendly and accessible book on connecting with more than thirty Goddesses. Phyllis Curott calls it “engaging, inspiring, empowering!” Dozens of fun exercises and activities guide you in achieving a myriad of goals (pick or choose which ones you want to work on): strength, love, friendship, finances, protection, and more. Great for witches of all ages looking for self-empowerment. (November release.)

Roasted, rich, and mellow
The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction: 13 Prize-Winning Talesis truly a gift of the harvest; our friends at BBI Media (publishers of NewWitch, PanGaia, and SageWoman magazines) put just as much toil and effort into this project as we did here at Llewellyn. And that’s not even mentioning the authors! This book is the fruit of the first-ever Pagan short fiction writing contest, sponsored by Llewellyn and BBI Media. In it you’ll find the thirteen best stories, as judged by a panel including Diana Paxson, out of hundreds of entries. Representing a variety of genres (fantasy, realism, historical, sci-fi, and yes, erotica) as well as a variety of Pagan paths, the common thread is that in these stories, Paganism is real. Magic is real. It’s not a “vehicle” used by a fantasy author who is writing about magic as a bystander; all of these stories are infused with Pagan spirituality, ethics, choices, and viewpoints. Not to make it sound dull—it’s incredibly alive with human (and non-human) characters and strange situations. Read it, love it, recommend it—and hopefully watch for the next writing contest next year. (Click here to see a complete list of contributors. October release.)

Walking the Twilight Path: A Gothic Book of the Dead by Michelle Belanger is the perfect book to mull over during the dark, introspective Samhain season. In fact, I can’t think of a better Samhain book, as this book explores the edges of life and death, the veil that separates them, and more importantly, how we can bring a safe taste of death into our lives in order to live more fully. This book teaches you to be a walker between worlds; to bring back what you learn on the Other Side in order to heal your wounds and those of others. It’s beautiful, poetic, and embellished with black and white cemetery photography. It also has a lot of heavy-hitting exercises, including separate visualizations for burial in the earth, at sea, by cremation, or the “sky burial” (still practiced today) of having one’s corpse pecked apart by birds. As you can see, it’s not for the faint of heart, but if you feel this is your journey to take, I couldn’t recommend it more. (October release.)

Just out of the oven, warm and gooey
Dedicant: A Witch’s Circle of Fire is the debut book of Thuri Calafia, and I promise you, you’re going to like her right away. This is the first volume of a new series of books based on Thuri’s Circle method of teaching. After many years of being a self-taught witch, she couldn’t figure out what her “degree” equivalency was in terms of traditional covens with first degree, second degree, and third degree levels. She went about talking with as many people as she could as to what are requisites to each degree, filling in her gaps of knowledge, digging deeper and synthesizing all her knowledge. She came up with a straightforward curriculum that anyone can follow to make sure they’re getting the most thorough magical education possible. Dedicant is a book for those who are ready to dedicate themselves seriously (not dabblers) to the path of the Witch; you’ll start with a self-dedication and, through monthly lessons following the Wheel of the Year, you’ll work your way towards initiation. For the truly serious student who knows that he or she wants to follow this path, this has got to be the best 101 book I’ve ever seen. It has serious homework assignments: reading several other books besides this one, considering ethical problems, doing pathworkings and meditations, and much more. It’s also beautifully and warmly written. Future books include Initiate, Adept, and Master. (November release.)

The Living Temple of Witchcraft, Volume One: The Descent of the Goddess by Christopher Penczak is the fifth book in his critically acclaimed and award-winning Temple of Witchcraft series. The Living Temple of Witchcraft focuses on the three Ms of "Mysteries," "Ministry," and the "Magickal Life", which covers so much ground it had to be divided into Volume One, focusing on the Goddess, and Volume Two (next year!) focusing on the God. "Mysteries": think about the ancient mystery schools—what was the unspoken initiation they went through? How can the modern seeker begin to parallel that? Well, in this volume we explore the Descent of the Goddess as she passes through seven gates to the underworld, leaving one sacred symbol of herself at each entry, we go along with her and learn to associate each gate with a chakra and its teachings for us. This is a true and relevant mystery teaching that you have to experience for yourself. "Ministry": this is the point in the series where Christopher begins to teach us about serving our communities, what it means to stand up and become a High Priest or High Priestess, and what kind of commitment, responsibility, and love that requires. "The Magickal Life": we learn to infuse magick into every aspect of our beings. This, my friends, is one cool book. If you tape-recorded yourself reading it, it would be silence punctuated by a thousand “aha!”s. This is where all the disparate threads of knowledge you’ve acquired come together and weave a beautiful tapestry in your mind. Highly recommended—and don’t forget the CD companion with meditations as well. (November release.)

Unexpected side dishes
For the mages in the crowd: High Magic II by Frater U∴D∴ expands upon the lessons learned in High Magic. Very hands-on, very practical, very intelligent. (October release.)

For the angel lovers: Azrael Loves Chocolate, Michael’s A Jock by Chantel Lysette is not your mom’s angel book! Chantel bravely brings the angels into the 21st century—some of them kicking and screaming, but most of them enjoying the ride. Read her interviews with twelve archangels to see what really makes them tick (and what really ticks them off) and learn how to contact them yourself. (November release.)

For the ghost hunters: The Psychic Adventures of Derek Acorah is available for the first time in the US through Llewellyn. If you’re into ghost stories, especially against the dramatic backdrop of these United Kingdom locales, this one’s for you. (November release.)

For the tarot readers: Rachel Pollack’s Tarot Wisdom is the long-awaited follow up to the classic Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom. Where to begin? It covers everything from art history to psychology to magic. (November release.)

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