Book Review: Arcana Mundi; Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds.

Arcana Mundi; Magic and the Occult in the Greeek and Roman Worlds – A Collection of Ancient Texts Translated, Annotated, and Introduced by Georg Luck.

Image result for Arcana Mundi; Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds - A Collection of Ancient Texts Translated, Annotated, and Introduced by Georg Luck.

This book is contains pieces from 130 ancient text ranging from the eight century BCE to fourth century CE. Georg Luck has arranged these text in to six categories: Magic, Miracles, Daemonology, Divination, Astrology, and Alchemy. He gives introductions to each category and explaining its importance in the ancient world. The texts he uses illuminate the migration and acceptance of ideologies from outside cultures like the Egypt and Persia.  Most of these text give first or secondhand accounts of the various subjects and how the impacted everyday life in Ancient Greece and Rome.

In his selection and presentation of these text Georg Luck tries to show how peoples attitudes toward magic evolved. The epilogue takes the reader in to the lingering legacy of ancient magic in the middle ages, particularly in the church. If he had an agenda in this book it was to illustrate where these church practices originate. He does so in a rather scholarly way that I feel doesn’t  bash pagan or Christians. He includes a very interesting Appendix article titled Psychoactive Substances in Religion and Magic that hypothesis that both the Old Testament and the Early Church used incense with psychoactive substances to enhance their religious experience.  There is also a glossary of Greek and Latin words that are relevant to the subject of ancient magic.

I think this book is a great research tool for anyone wanting to delve deeper in to the subject of magic learning where traditions started and how they were practiced.  This book is also great for anyone studying early Christian history along with ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian cultures. I enjoyed the read, personal I feel the older the source materials are the closer we are to understanding how our ancestors thought. Learning the evolution of  cultures helps us not only understand our past, it helps us see where humanity is possibly heading.

Advertisements

Book Review: ‘Hellenismos Today’, and ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Hellenismos’

Hellenismos Today by Timothy Jay Alexander is a book about Hellenic Reconstructionism, or in other words a a modern pagan religion based off ancient Greek religion. It is a hard polytheist moment  based that to quote the author ” focuses primarily in the public or popular religion of ancient Greece.” I feel like the author spends a lot of the book trying explain how it is not like Wicca / neo-paganism and poring out watered down Greek history and philosophy.  While an it is an interesting way to consider worshiping the Greek Pantheon it is just one way at looking at Greek reconstructionism.

Chapters

  • Introduction
  • Polythestic Reconstructionism
  • Ancient Greek Religion
  • Gods and Goddess
  • Cosmology
  • Ethics -(these are based off the Maxims of Delphi)
  • Role of Clergy
  • Rituals & Rites of Passage
  • Holidays & Festivals
  • Divination
  • Magick & Mysticism
  • Appendix I: Works and Days of Hesiod
  • Appendeix II: The Theogony of  Hesiod (note: both copies of Hesiod’s work presented in this book were translated by Hugh G. Evelyn White 1914 and edited by Timothy Jay Alexander)
  • Appendix III: The Emperor Julian’s Oration to the Sovereign Sun (translated by Taylor Thomas in 1793 and edited by Timothy Jay Alexander)

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Hellenismos  by Timothy Jay Alexander is the complementary book to the Hellenismos Today. As you can tell from the Chapter list below there is a lot of copy paste from the previous book, although the Appendix offer greater variety and complement the ones provides in Hellenismos Today. This book places an even bigger emphases on orthopraxy than the previous one did but offer little profound insights.

Chapters

  • Preface
  • Intro to Hellenismos
  • Theology
  • Three dimensions of Worship
  • Prayer & Hymns
  • Offerings
  • Rites and Ritual
  • Festival Calendar
  • Mysticism
  • Temples, Shrines, Statues & Images
  • Afterthoughts
  • Appendix I: Sallustius : On the Gods and the Cosmos (translated by Gilbert Murry 1925, edited by Timothy Jay Alexander)
  • Appendix II: The Emperor Julian’s Oration to the Mother of the Gods (translated by Taylor Thomas in 1793 and edited by Timothy Jay Alexander)
  • Appendix III: The Homeric Hymns (translated by Hugh G. Evelyn White 1914 and edited by Timothy Jay Alexander)
  • Appendix IV: Epithets of the Gods
  • Appendix V: A Glossery of Greek Words

Overall I felt Booth books fell a little flat for my taste. If you don’t already have a decent grasp on neo-paganism ideas and language the average reader may get lost. and the historical reverences and examples could really use some more fleshing out. In general I would say if you want to read these books get a copy from the library cause it is not really worth the purchase.

Spring Fever

Well everyone is buckling down and freaking out about winter storm stella and I’m over here sipping a cup of tea patiently waiting for spring. I can’t wait to get outside and play in the dirt and plant some seeds. Last week’s temperatures were in the low 70s what a tease, but the weather gods in Ohio are bat shit crazy.

So what is a witch to do while the storm brews outside? Research plants and garden plan of coarse. I’ve read two different herb books (reviews coming soon) and about to start reading a third book on the native plants. Herbology is a subject I’ve rather neglected in my studies over the past 19 years. I focused most of my spiritual studies on history and magic theory, but now I’m trying to round out my education and spend a little more time connecting with nature.

I must confess I am far from a master gardener, this is only my third year doing it. My biggest battle have been with invasive wild strawberries and remembering to water. The Second biggest battle is with mosquitoes and what ever the hell keeps eating my cabbages. One year it was roly polys a.k.a pill bugs and last year it was cabbage moths.

Image result for cabbage guy avatar

 

 

 

Book Review: Everyday Witchcraft

Today I am reviewing  ‘Everyday  Witchcraft; Making Time for Spirit in a Too-Busy World’ by Deborah Blake. I should start by saying this is the first book I have read by this author so I came at it with no set expectations. I had bought it on a whim from Amazon because it had been a while since I had read any books of the subject of modern witchcraft (been focusing more on the historical research).

I felt it to be a refreshing read that over all left me feeling more centered. Deborah Blake has a easy going writing style that comes across a friendly conversation. The book has 11 chapters that are full of wonderful and simplistic suggestions on how to incorporate your spiritual path in to your everyday life. While a lot of her advise seems like common sense it gently reminds the reader how to take a step away from daily grind and nurture  your spirit. Personally ‘Chapter 3 Making Time for Spirit in a Too-Busy World‘, and ‘Chapter 9 God and Goddess in Everyday Life‘ were the most useful to me. Chapter 3 is short but it reminds the reader the importance of making time for your faith and the positive effect it can have on your outlook. Chapter 9 is full of insight in to building a better relationship with the Divine.

While this book may follow and use a Wicca format I want to stress this is not another Wicca 101 book, but it is great supplemental reading for anyone following a neo-pagan path whether it be Wicca, Witchcraft, Druid or Reconstruction. I give it 2 thumbs up.