The Pagan Heart of the West
Randy P. Conner PhD

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Embodying Ancient Beliefs and Practices from Antiquity to the Present
Vol I. Deities and Kindred Beings


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The Pagan Heart of the West:
Embodying Ancient Beliefs and Practices from Antiquity to the Present
Vol I. Deities and Kindred Beings
Randy P. Conner PhD
Format: Softcover/336 pp.
ISBN-10: 1906958874
ISBN-13: 978-1906958879
19.99 Pounds Sterling/US$28
Subjects: Paganism/Religious Studies/Spirituality



The Pagan Heart of the West challenges current academic notions that paganism died when Christianization occurred; that the transition from paganism to Christianity was a fairly easy, nonviolent one; that persons once pagan were happy to accept the new religion because it fulfilled them or because they viewed it as superior – as if the Inquisition never happened; and that all things pagan are in fact Christian prior to the mid-twentieth century, even though they demonstrate little or no connection to the Christian New Testament. Likewise, Pagan Heart challenges narrow conceptions of “the West.”

Applying Indigenous and decolonial theories, together with Michel Foucault’s conception of subjugated knowledges, Pagan Heart suggests that instead, paganism should be explored as an ancient and indigenous set of common beliefs and practices, at once ubiquitous and local, that includes the reverence of deities; the veneration of nature; rites celebrating the seasons and the life cycle; practices of healing, divination, and magic, often guided by ritual specialists; and arts and philosophies giving expression to pagan figures, concepts, and narratives.

In this first of five volumes, Pagan Heart focuses on the utilization of theories that contest absolutist language supporting the so-called death of paganism; and on the worship and veneration of ancient deities and kindred beings. Like the other volumes, this volume demonstrates that paganism has not only persisted over the course of millennia, but that it has also undergone metamorphosis and innovation.

Most importantly, Pagan Heart emphasizes that the ancient gods did not die when Christian authorities forbade their worship and sought, in N. Scott Momaday’s terms, to commit deicide, but instead that they continue to exist and thrive.

Randy P. Conner, Ph.D., is the author of several works on the intersection of gender, sexuality, mythology, and the sacred. He teaches Humanities, including World Mythology, in the Chicago area.

cover: Barthelemy d’Eyck, Emilie, Arcitas, and Palamon Praying to Their Respective Gods (c. 1465), illumination from Boccaccio’s Il Teseida delle Noze d’Emilia.

pagan/paganism

indigenous

gods

goddess

subjugated knowledges

earth-centered

Isis

Thor

ritual specialist

fairies

Heart Vision: Tarot’s Inner Path
Michael Orlando Yaccarino

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HeartVisionFrontcover


Heart Vision
Tarot’s Inner Path
Michael Orlando Yaccarino
Foreword by Rachel Pollack
Afterword by Normandi Ellis
Format: Softcover
ISBN 9781906958817
US$22/£13.99
Subjects: Tarot/Tarot Readings/Divination/Spirituality.

Click here for Kindle UK edition

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Heart Vision: Tarot’s Inner Path

Each of us is traveling upon an ever-evolving path toward greater illumination. The Tarot can provide deep awareness on many levels. Performed effectively, a Tarot reading encourages individual strengths, while proposing options to overcoming unhelpful blocks. Revelation unfolds within the open heart.

The mystical deck has fascinated both nonprofessional and paranormal scholar alike since its early development in the 15th century. Today, a myriad of books on using the cards to read for others is readily available. However, few works focus exclusively on the process of self-reading. Heart Vision: Tarot’s Inner Path is your in-depth, hands-on guide for a balanced path of discovery through the art of the solitary reading.

Highlights include card-by-card message interpretations; a special focus on self-contemplation; the step-by-step process of self-reading unique to this work; and a variety of simple yet powerful spreads utilizing no more than six cards original to this book, many illuminated by actual self-readings. World-leading Tarot authority Rachel Pollack provides an insightful foreword. Award-winning author and specialist in Ancient Egyptian spirituality, Normandi Ellis offers an illuminating afterword. In addition to the wisdom of diverse spiritual traditions, the text includes exclusive comments by a variety of contemporary luminaries in the realms of the mystical and magical. And acclaimed artists Scot D. Ryersson, Gary Lund, and David Palladini all contribute to the book’s stunning illustrations. Enriched throughout by the wisdom of diverse spiritual traditions, in these pages you will find an innovative pathway to inner transformation.

Front-cover art: Gary Lund
Back-cover art: David Palladini
Cover design: Scot D. Ryersson

The author has read, taught, and written about the Tarot for many years. He holds degrees in psychology and film studies from New York University. Previous books co-authored with Scot D. Ryersson include: Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati, The Marchesa Casati: Portraits of a Muse, and The Princess of Wax: A Cruel Tale. Also with Ryersson, he co-edited Spectral Haunts and Phantom Lovers.

Visit www.marchesacasati.com to learn more.

Visit the official ​Heart Vision​ website
marchesacasati.wixsite.com/heartvisiontarot

TAROT, DIVINATION & SPIRITUALITY

Deeper Into The Underworld
Death, Ancestors & Magical Rites
Chris Allaun

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Deeper into The Underworld
Death, Ancestors & Magical Rites
Chris Allaun
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 978-1-906958-82-4
£12.99/US$23
Subjects: Shamanism/Magic/Healing/Afterlife/Death Customs/Spirits Communication/Spirituality.

Deeper into the Underworld we go…

The Underworld is home to our beloved ancestors, those who gave us our flesh and blood and our breath. Their blood flows through our veins and contains great magick and power. They have the ability to help us heal old karmic wounds of the past and aide us in our spiritual development. They can teach us many things about the world of spirit. All we have to do is honor them. All we have to do is call to them.

The cycles of Life are sacred to our pagan and magical cosmology, but what of Death? As we honor life, so, too, must we honor the sacredness of death and dying. As we go further in our Underworld studies, we will learn about the Angel of Death and energetic process of dying. Death is not the end. It is a magical transition into the world of spirit where we are rejoined with our beloved ancestors. The Ancestors are our link to our past. We will learn to honor them and create a sacred shrine so that we may commune with them in a magical and healing way. By honoring the ancestors, we will strengthen our bonds with the spirits and learn to heal our family karma that began long ago and affects us even today.

By learning to work with the ancestors, we will learn to work with the spirits of the dead for magick and healing. We will learn how ancient cultures summoned the beloved dead to heal grief and say final goodbyes. We will also learn magical techniques to summon the shades of the dead and the Hidden Company; those powerful spirits that can teach us ancient wisdom of long ago that can help us tread our spiritual path to find balance and healing.

—–

Read Alanna Wright’s review of Deeper Into the Underworld: Death, Ancestors and Magical Rites, published in Spiral Nature Magazine
www.spiralnature.com/reviews/deeper-into-underworld-chris-allaun/

Deeper Into the Underworld: Death, Ancestors and Magical Rites
by Chris Allaun
Mandrake of Oxford, 9781906958824, 203 pp., 2018.

”Chris Allaun has released Deeper Into the Underworld: Death, Ancestors and Magical Rites as a follow-up to his first book Underworld: Shamanism, Myth and Magick. In this book, Allaun brings to life, or rather life after death, the powerful practice of ancestral spirit worship and highlights the immense spiritual benefits that come from learning to commune with the deceased. The theme of death runs strong through the book yet Allaun has presented the material in such a way that allows the reader to open to the power of Underworld forces in much the same way as shamans, witches, and magicians have for countless centuries — with the knowledge needed to access this realm, courage to face the reality of death and wisdom to tap into the spiritual power of this domain.

Written in a very straightforward and easy-to-read style, Allaun provides the reader with real-life experiential advice on how to work with ancestors as part of their magical practices. He explains,

“Honoring the dead is one of the most important parts of spirituality. We often honor our gods and goddesses and even nature spirits, but sometimes forget the most important spirits to honor; our beloved dead. Our ancestors are our family. They are our grandmothers and grandfathers and our grandmothers and grandfathers before that. They hold an energetic and magical link to us. We may not realize it, but there is a current of power that goes from us to our ancestors and from them back to us. It is strong. It is powerful. Is it the bond of family.”

In no way does Allaun skimp on ideas for how to establish and strengthen this connection to our ancestors. He offers a variety of methods that can be easily incorporated into one’s magic to help the reader open the channel to commune with their ancestors. Detailed is the way to set up an altar, created sacred space and maintain a daily devotional practice to honour loved ones who have passed on. Allaun highlights the importance of sustaining an ongoing relationship with our ancestors, rather than only honouring them sparsely through the year, as the way to truly bring them into your home and spiritual life. In this way, we can begin to communicate with our ancestors about day-to-day happenings and this in turn provides nourishment for them and us alike.

The reader is reminded this is not a one-way relationship as our ancestors benefit too from our offerings to them in the Underworld. Allaun explains, “On an energetic level, what is happening is that our prayers open our minds, energies and our spirits to our Ancestors and higher beings to establish a strong and powerful connection. Through the connection we make with the spirits, they are able to use this energy and power to help our Ancestors evolve to a higher state of being.” Later in the book, Allaun ties in how we also carry ancestral patterns that we can transmute and heal by working with ancestors in the Underworld directly.

Beyond ancestral knowledge, this book is a rich resource for information on death rites, rituals, and cultural perceptions of death that have been carried through the ages. Allaun provides insightful understanding of the way death is portrayed today in comparison to how cultures of the past understood working with the Underworld, death, and the ancestors. These include pages on Egyptian embalming and also the Eleusinian Mysteries of Ancient Greece. By going back in time, the reader comes to understand how human’s cultural relationship to death has been worshipped, revered, and also feared throughout time.

Throughout the book, Allaun provides many mythological stories that highlight the importance of the Underworld spirits and knowledge of how to navigate this tricky realm. These include the story of Baldur’s dreams in Norse mythology, Those Who Come From The Mountains in Japanese and Shinto mythology and Asclepius and Diana bringing back the dead in Greco-Roman mythology. Allaun does an outstanding job of providing many cross-cultural narratives involving death, so the reader has a widened perspective of a variety of spiritual understandings of the Underworld. This includes a passage of the Ghost Dance of Native Americans from the Plains region of the United States, where they were able to perform this dance to summon their ancestors and gain a personal sense of empowerment through the connection.

In sharing his personal experience, Allaun works to dissolve the fear commonly associated with death and the Underworld. A fantastic aspect of the book is the fascinating meditations provided that can be applied in a ritual setting to gain insight into the energy of death, access the Underworld, and work with ancestors. These meditations include performing a eulogy at your own funeral, graveyard meditations, tracing back family karma through lineage, and connecting with ancestors in dreams, and tapping into the blood. For those who practice traditional witchcraft, Allaun includes a ritual to connect with the Hidden Company to seek their spiritual knowledge and also Ritual of the Rose Castle to connect with the Goddess of Death.

Allaun focuses on sharing with the reader how the misconception of working with the dead became linked to evildoing with rise of Judeo-Christianity. Yet, he is honest about the association that has existed between necromancy and black magickdea intended to harm others. While he does not advocate using ancestors or magical connections made to the deceased in this way, he does acknowledge the existence and possibility of the misuse of spiritual power, which include bringing the dead back to life.

Above all, Allaun maintains that it is of the utmost importance to treat the dead with the kindness the reader would show any guest in their home. This means being welcoming and never making unfair requests. While the ancestors can be strong magical allies, Allaun makes it clear that we should never force our ancestors to do things for us. It is important that honour is always maintained, as the spirits can communicate, and being disrespectful towards an ancestor could hinder future relations.

The information in the book covers what the reader would need to know on all fronts to begin establishing a spiritual connection with their ancestors. Allaun stresses the importance of carefully selecting the spirits with whom you share energy. He acknowledges that certain spiritual entities many want to ask favours or cling on to the reader in order to gain energy. While this does not always happen, Allaun has given the reader techniques that can be used to make sure the reader remains protected and the sacred space clear of unwanted energy. The information provided includes numerous measures of protection that range from simple techniques to create clear energy to elaborate banishing rituals. It is obvious that Allaun has the reader’s interest at heart and wants to provide the most honest and accurate account of the possibilities that can emerge from working with the energies of the Underworld to ensure the reader is prepared.

There are only a few downsides of note in regard to Deeper Into The Underworld. The first being quite a few spelling and grammatical errors scattered through the book that can be distracting. The other is that there is no reference section or bibliography provided, leaving the reader to research and verify the information themselves.

Overall, Deeper Into The Underworld: Death, Ancestors and Magical Rites is a great read for anyone who feels a connection to working with the deceased. There is much to be gained from tapping into the Underworld and bringing the wisdom of our beloved ancestors into the physical realm. Consider this a go-to book from which anyone with an interest in ancestral worship or necromancy would gain something.”

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The Dionysian Spirit
Seán Fitton

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9781906958657b

Canadian Orders (includes $10 one off postal supplement on first item of your order)

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The Dionysian Spirit
Sean Fitton
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 978-1-906958-65-7
£12.99/US$22
Subjects: Ancient Greece/Greek Mysteries/Myths/Magic/Paganism/Spirituality.

For many people Dionysos is an obscure Greek god of wine and theatre. For others he is so much more.

The Dionysian Spirit examines, in an easy and accessible form, the essence of what Dionysos is all about, both as a deity and as a cultural and social force. It looks at the relation of Dionysos with his opposite number Apollo. The twin gifts of Apollos and Dionysos are ekstasis (ecstasy) and entheos (enthusiasm) and have informed and enlivened our lives and cultures from ancient times right to the present day and beyond.

The Dionysian Spirit – like the art of a good party – has always been with us and now, in many ways, we need it more than ever.

Contents: Devotional to Dionysos / The Visualisation / The Myths of Dionysos /
Dionysian Heroes / Dionysos Around the World / Dionysos Across The Millenium / Dionysos Goes Forth

Sacred Mountains
Michael Berman

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Sacred Mountains
Michael Berman
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 9781906958220
£10.99/US$22
Subjects: Shamanism/Spirituality/Myths & Legends.

On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

What mountains mean to me: in one word, awe-inspiring. Although we can measure them, our minds are incapable of actually grasping the very small or the very large things in nature: neither atomic particles nor astronomical distances. How big is a mountain, how much does it weigh? Our limited minds can only cope with subjective assessments such as how difficult is it to climb, how dangerous would an avalanche be? So the feelings it produces are awe, a little fear, and possibly exhilaration if and when we think that we have conquered the mountain – but in reality we never can.
~ Professor David Hunt

All the stories presented in this collection contain shamanic elements, so the obvious starting point is to explain what is meant by this. The term ‘shaman’ is a controversial one. Initially employed by early anthropologists to refer to a specific category of magical practitioners from Siberia, the term is now widely used to denote similar practitioners from a variety of cultures around the world. This application of an originally culture-specific term to a more general usage has caused problems with regard to definition, with disagreements among scholars over whether certain features, such as soul flight or possession, or certain types of altered states of consciousness, should or should not be listed among the core characteristics of shamanism.
(Wilby, 2011, p.252.)

Introduction
What are Mountains for you?
Soul Captivation on White Bone Mountain
The Magic Brush and the Golden Mountain
The Legend of Amirani
The Story of Jumping Mouse
The Children of Hamelin: A Shamanic Journey into Mount Poppenberg
The Crystal Clear Waters of Mount Elbruz
The Vision Quest, Mount Sinai, and a Dream Fulfilled
Mount Ararat
Mount Koya-san, the Hermit’s Cave, and Fujiyama
Sacred Towers
The Fool on the Hill and the Book of Mysteries
The Tobacco of Harisaboqued
The Princess of the Tower

Appendix:
The Baal Shem Tov –
Rabbi, Religious Formulator or Shaman?

***
cover photograph by Joe Page shows Rennes Le Château seen from castle of Rennes Les Bains.


Launch 17th of January 2012 at the Georgian Embassy the author will talk about this book and give a reading. Starting promptly at 7.30 pm. The event is free and Georgian wine will be served at no cost too. The address is 4 Russell Gardens, West Kensington, London W14 8EZ. The hall holds about 60 people and we are hoping for a full house.

*************************************************************************************
RESOURCES FOR THE SACRED MOUNTAINS EXPERIENCE
Arts & Culture, Folklore, Myths & Legends, Food & Drink.

*************************************************************************************

Tbilisi Opera & Ballet Theatre
www.opera.ge

*

Georgia Cradle of Wine
www.georgia.gov.ge/5225

*

TAMADA,
Authentic Georgian Restaurant,
122 Boundary Road, St John’s Wood,
London NW8 0RH, UK.
www.tamada.co.uk

*

A Contemporary Western
Book Of The Dead
An Anthology
Edited by Charlotte Rodgers
& Lydia Maskell

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A Contemporary Western Book of The Dead
An Anthology
Edited by Charlotte Rodgers & Lydia Maskell
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 978-1-906958-04-6
£10.99/US$18.99
Subjects: Death Customs/Spirituality.

‘I was musing on Singapore in all its affluent glory still having shrines for the dead on every street corner during ‘The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts’. Then I was musing on how the socially mobile of modern western society eschew death rites and grieving in the name of ‘holding it together’ and being progressive. I thought of which civilizations are falling and which are rising again, and wondered whether acknowledging death and the ancestors is a vital part of a maintaining personal identity and our place in society. I remember how my grieving father mourned for all the information he had relied on his deceased wife remembering; information which was now lost. I recalled Michael Crichton’s words ‘If you don’t know (your family’s) history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.’

Then I thought maybe someone should write about the cults of the ancestors and death, perhaps an anthology, perhaps cross relate experiences of loss to personal spirituality and magick and history. I know that years of working with the dead in the name of art and spirituality, didn’t prepare me for the death of my mother. What helped me was the advice of someone from a long tradition of working with the ancestors. I think that collecting the experiences of spiritual practitioners in their working with grief and death is part of a living and necessary tradition that will give respect to the dead and strength, identity and support to our own personal spirituality.’

Within this book are rituals, stories, traditions and experiences of magicians’ scholars and artists who work with death. Some of the contributors such as Nema, Mogg Morgan, Louis Martine and Nevill Drury (to name but a few) have helped define contemporary transformative spirituality. Others are less well known but just as learned. As there should be in such a collection there is comedy, anger confrontation and practicality. This anthology is about who we are, and where we come from. It is also about how we change. A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead contains voices and visions that acknowledge our past, feed our present and guide the direction of our future.

Introduction/Charlotte Rodgers
Loved One/Nema
All a Do about Death /Josephine McCarthy
Clans For The Memory / Sarah Grimstone
Learning About Death / Nevill Drury
A Thoughtful Wake / Louis Martinie
Break On Through To The Other Side /Louise Hodgson
Death the Final Frontier / Sue Fox
The Bardo Thodol – Bon Voyage / John Power
You Only Live Twice / Ode bi Tola
On Speaking with the Dead: The Cult of the Dead in Traditional Culture / Michael Clarke
Body / Mishlen Linden
The Great Western Hoax / Ode bi Tola
The Book of Gates: A prose arrangement / Mogg Morgan
Biographies of Contributors

Photographers:
Sue Fox, Ruth Kenyon, Ariadne Spyridonos Xenou (Cover: Gerald Hutton)

THE BLOODY SACRIFICE:
Charlotte Rodgers



The Bloody Sacrifice
Charlotte Rodgers
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 978-1-906958-30-5
£10.99/US$18.99
Subjects: Art/Counterculture/Spirituality.

Charlotte Rodgers is a non denominational magickal practitioner and an animist, and The Bloody Sacrifice is the story of her work with blood. It chronicles her use of road kill and blood in art, ritualised scarification and tattoo work, and the use of venous and menstrual blood in magick. Also included are Charlotte’s interviews with tattoo artists; priests from belief systems which utilise blood sacrifice; artists who use their own HIV positive blood as a medium; and those who use mortifications and body modification to effect changes in consciousness and self.

All here share a common bond of talent combined with an ability to articulate their beliefs. For example Louis Martinie, a priest in the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple. Martinie has integrated his Tibetan Buddhist beliefs into his Voodoo practice and in doing so shows how personal spiritual evolution can effect change within a syncretic religion. As a blood related illness affected various parts of Charlotte’s life, she was given a chance to explore blood ritual in a very different way. Documenting this part of her journey gives an understanding of AIDS, HIV and HCV, and its effect on spirituality and contemporary blood rites.

Blood Ritual, with all its history, baggage and dangers holds a power to create change. Whether this power is held within blood and how much impact is created merely by our perception is for the reader to decide. The Bloody Sacrifice is an honest, modern and thought provoking personal insight into an ancient aspect of our spirituality and creativity.

The Bloody Sacrifice. Charlotte Rodgers (Mandrake).
I opened The Bloody Sacrifice with more than a wee bit of trepidation. I knew I was not going to come across anything silly or self-indulgent, as the writer of this book is far too intelligent for that. What I found were open, honest and at times profound realisations that the author had come to through her exploration of blood, body, ritual and art. The interviews in the book are varied, relevant and very interesting. But, bar a couple of them, I wanted to hear more of the author’s voice, of her experiences and her conclusions. Rodgers is a natural priestess, regardless of what magical path she chooses to take or has taken; she has a natural capacity to connect deeply with inner world beings and learn directly, for both good and bad, from them. The main issue I was looking for, which would be guaranteed to show me if this person was switched on enough to actually truly work in this field, appeared almost immediately. Such paths into these areas are littered with unfortunate fools who have mired themselves in parasitical and low-life entanglements with inner beings, which effectively ensure that they go no further into the depths of magical realms. Not this author – she saw the traps immediately and neatly sidestepped them, learning naturally as she went deeper into the mysteries of power. Charlotte Rodgers has a powerful, clear and magical voice that I hope we will hear much more from in the future.
Highly recommended.
Josephine McCarthy – The Cauldron #140, May 2011.

Charlotte Rodgers Website
www.perdurabu.com

Merlin’s Mound
Nigel Bryant

(Magical Fiction)
(Arthurian Myths & Legends)





Merlin’s Mound
Nigel Bryant
Format: Softcover
ISBN:
£6.99/US$10
Subjects: Magical Fiction/Grail & Arthurian Myths & Legends/Spirituality.


“a wonderful book… in the same category as Alan Garner and Susan Cooper” Professor Ronald Hutton

‘This boy’s stupendous! He can see the past and see the gods. He’s seen the Lady of the Lake!’

A colossal Stone Age mound in Wiltshire is the legendary burial place of Merlin. When Jo’s father begins to excavate, Jo himself is drawn into an extraordinary adventure that unearths the mound’s true secret. It’s up to him to reveal it before it’s destroyed. And time is short.

‘A week ago he’d have laughed at this. Now he’s on the edge of a whole new world.’

This is a story for everyone with a taste for myth, visions and another reality…

About the book:
The Stone Age monuments at Avebury in Wiltshire are world-famous, attracting thousands of visitors each year. Two of the most dramatic are the enormous burial chamber known as the West Kennet Long Barrow, and Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe. Less well known is Silbury’s “sister” mound at Marlborough a few miles due east, but this is nothing less than the legendary burial place of Merlin.

These extraordinary sites are the key locations of the novel Merlin’s Mound, in which an adolescent is awakened in startling fashion to their meaning and original purpose. It will appeal to everyone from the protagonist’s age upward with a taste for myth, legend and visions [Marlborough is surely the only town in Britain with an Arthurian motto – WHERE NOW ARE THE BONES OF WISE MERLIN – and Merlin’s Mound will appropriately be published on June 20th 2004, the 800th anniversary of the granting of Marlborough’s charter by King John who, as it happens, makes a crucial appearance in the novel…]

REVIEWS

From Dragon’s Wood Magazine:
‘Meet Joel (Jo). He’s a nice lad. He likes football, he misses his mother (who is no longer with his dad), and he has the misfortune to have an obsessive and arrogant archaeologist for his father. Jo’s dad takes him on a dig in Marlborough Wiltshire to excavate what is locally known been as Merlin’s mound. Jo really doesn’t want to be there, he would rather be watching football or playing computer games. Indeed he calls Silbury Hill ‘another pile of prehistoric pointlessness’. Jo’s relationship with his father is fraught at best and certainly not helped by some of the comments his father makes to his son.

Things start to happen…

Jo meets Dag, Gareth and Mort, three enigmatic characters who will play an interesting role as the story unfolds. Joe starts to realise that things are happening, things that he has no explanation for, things that will cause him to question and wonder. As time goes on Jo is more and more against the excavation of the Mound. He ‘knows’ that below the ground something or someone is still in residence. Is it Merlin? His father is convinced that the Marlborough site is a burial mound of someone pretty special and that somewhere in the mound four and a half thousand-year-old treasure is waiting for him to get his grasping hands on. He doesn’t subscribe to the Merlin theory however. Jo on the other hand becomes more and more convinced that digging the mound is the wrong thing to do. It becomes his mission to reveal the true secret of the site and time is running out. What is that secret and ce of will Jo succeed?

Published by Mandrake of Oxford, Merlin’s Mound is listed on their website under the ‘young fiction’ genre. Certainly the content of this book will appeal to teenagers. However that should not deter older readers. I found this both entertaining and interesting and certainly some light relief from all those other heavy books we pagans tend to read.

The author Nigel Bryant, whose involvement with Arthurian matters is long-standing and obvious from the way he writes, brings the reader a lively contemporary tale which often challenges our ideas on modern archaeology. I was left wondering whether or not digging up the past is always the right thing to do. This is the type of story that is great for us oldies to read on lazy summer afternoons in the back garden. Youngsters will no doubt identify with the often anxed adolescent that Jo is and I highly recommend it to anyone from about 15 years old. ‘

More reviews

Druid Network:
This is a book aimed at a ‘teenage’ audience, and it’s easy to see the central character appealing to many a surly teenager! But this the tale of a special teenager with special gifts, which link everyday events and archaeology – the never ending search for scientific ‘truth’ and knowledge – to the sacred within and around us all, and to the sacred landscape of Wiltshire.

But it is a work that can be read and enjoyed by any age, the story a timeless tale, one that holds the reader spellbound, fully involved with events and engaged with the participants. The monuments of Avebury and Merlin’s Mount at Marlborough come alive on the pages, and the less well known mound of Merlins Mount is central to the whole story, as the title suggests!

The tale is well written and flows beautifully and evocatively, pulling the reader in and giving real involvement with what is happening, and how the mystery will unravel. Highly recommended.

NIGEL BRYANT v DAN BROWN
MERLIN’S MOUND author Nigel Bryant appeared on ITV’s much-publicised programme The Grail Trail (25.9.05) to attack the vision of the Holy Grail in Dan Brown’s THE DA VINCI CODE.

“It may seem strange,” he says, “that I laid into Brown for using the Grail as a symbol of the womb, of the sacred feminine, when that very thing is central to MERLIN’S MOUND. But the difference is that I’m using it knowingly as a symbol. And I don’t claim that MERLIN’S MOUND is anything more (or less) than a story.”

“The trouble with Brown’s book is that it’s a prime example of a dire new literary genre of pseudo-fact. Unfortunately, in THE DA VINCI CODE Dan Brown has swallowed hook, line and sinker the central thesis of a best-seller of two decades ago – The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail – which can be demolished in 30 seconds. ”

“The theory depends entirely on a mistake caused by astonishingly sloppy scholarship. The play on words by which the SANGREAL (the Holy Grail) is supposedly a code for SANG-REAL (‘royal blood’) – leading on to the hilarious notion (after all, let’s just stop and think about it for a second) that a child born of Jesus and Mary Magdalene was the start of a bloodline which kept going in secret for 2,000 years – simply doesn’t work. Dan Brown lists a series of ‘facts’ at the start of his book; well here’s a fact he doesn’t mention: the spelling SANGREAL doesn’t exist in any French work. It’s a pun that works only in French, but no French writer ever used it. In French it’s invariably written SAINT GRAAL. The only person who ever did write SANGREAL was the 15th-century Englishman John Hardyng whose French wasn’t very good, so he heard ‘saint graal’, didn’t know how to spell it, had a guess and wrote ‘sangreal’. And on that simple mistake, almost akin to a typing error, is the whole wild theory based.”

“I’ve no problem with it, actually – the Mary Magdalene / bloodline of Christ idea’s a fun story – but claiming it (and other supposed ‘facts’ in Dan Brown’s book) to be ‘true’ is sad in the extreme. We’ve got to be able to distinguish fact from fiction. Pseudo-fact does no favours either for fiction or for history or, for that matter, for the world of symbols.”

“I’m seriously interested in the medieval Grail stories – hence my book The Legend of the Grail [Boydell & Brewer, 2004], which brings together the eight great French grail romances of the 12th and 13th centuries and creates from them a single, coherent narrative. Womb imagery is nowhere to be seen. But that doesn’t mean I can’t use the Grail’s potential symbolism and work it into a story of the sacred feminine in MERLIN’S MOUND. But I’m not going to do a Dan Brown and claim it to be ‘true’ in the sense of being a ‘fact’. Let’s all grow up a bit. The Grail doesn’t exist and never did. But it’s there even though it’s not there. It’s absolutely ‘true’, profoundly ‘true’, when you take it as a symbol.”

The Wanton Green
Edited by Gordon MacLellan
& Susan Cross


The Wanton Green
Edited by Gordon MacLellan & Susan Cross
Format: Softcover
ISBN:
£11.99/US$23
Subjects: Contemporary Pagan Writings/Paganism/Spirituality.

As our relationship with the world unravels and needs to take a new form, The Wanton Green presents a collection of inspiring, provoking and engaging essays by modern pagans about their own deep, passionate and wanton relationships with the Earth.

“Where do we locate the sacred? In a place, a meeting, memory, a momentary glimpse? The Wanton Green provides no easy answers and instead, offers a multitude of perspectives on how our relationships with the earth, the sacred, the world through which we move are forged and remade.” – Phil Hine.
 
Contents: Foreword (Graham Harvey) ,”She said: ‘You have to lose your way'”(Maria van Daalen), Fumbling in the landscape (Runic John), Finding the space, finding the words (Rufus Harrington),Stone in my bones (Sarah Males), A Heathen in place: working with Mugwort (Robert Wallis),Wild, wild water (Lou Hart), Facing the waves (Gordon MacLellan),The dragon waters of place: a journey to the source (Susan Greenwood), Catching the Rainbow Lizard (Maria van Daalen), The rite to roam (Julian Vayne), Places of Power (Jan Fries), Natural magic is art (Greg Humphries), Pagan Ecology: on our perception of nature, ancestry and home (Emma Restall Orr), Because we have no imagination, (Susan Cross), The crossroads of perception, (Shani Oates), Devon, Faeries and me, (Woody Fox), Lud’s Church, (Gordon MacLellan), Places of spirit and spirits of place: of Fairy and other folk, and my Cumbrian bones (Melissa Montgomery), A life in the woods: protest site paganism, (Adrian Harris) We first met in the north, (Barry Patterson), Museum or Mausoleum (Mogg Morgan), Hills of the ancestors, townscapes of artisans (Jenny Blain), Smoke and mirrors (Stephen Grasso), America (Maria van Daalen), Standing at the crossroads, Meet the authors .

About the editors:

Gordon MacLennan is a shaman, storyteller and artist whose work sets out to find ways of celebrating the relationships between people, place and wildlife. Gordon’s books include Talking to the Earth, Sacred Animals and Celebrating Nature (all with Capall Bann), StarMatter and the Piatkus Guide to Shamanism.

Susan Cross is a poet, heritage and environmental interpretation consultant and occasional pirate. About a decade ago she realised that she has probably always been some kind of animist mystic and since then has endeavoured to make that a more conscious, clearer and brighter part of her life.

The Wanton Green: Contemporary Pagan Writings On Place. Edited by Gordon MacLellan and Susan Cross (Mandrake). Since the 1970s modern forms of pagan witchcraft (Wicca) and the neo-pagan movement have defined themselves by an engagement and involvement with ecology, the environment and ‘green’ politics with their adherents claiming to be following a ‘nature religion’. This is a collection of essays on the genii loci, or ‘spirit of place’ in the natural world written by various Wiccans and neo-pagans including Shani Oates, Rufus Harrington, Emma Restall-Orr, Melissa Montgomery, Jan Fries, Julian Vayne, Barry Montgomery, Barry Paterson, Susan Greenwood, Mogg Morgan and others. The contents range from an experience of the faery folk in Devon to a psychogeographical guide to ‘occult London’. If you are interested in the non-traditional neo-pagan approach to nature and the environment then this book is recommended. – The Cauldron #144, May 2012.