Tag Archive: Books


Over on my other blog, I made a list of dance-related blogs that I follow and enjoy, and think my readers would enjoy, as well.

So, here’s the partner blog to that one:
Blogs You Should Follow, Non-Dance Edition.

Adventures and Musings of An Arch Druidess

Druid Life

Mama Sheri’s Blog

Fiona Grows Food (this is, actually, the blog that brought me to WordPress)

The Templar Night

Ozark Pagan Mamma

Weeping Into Dance

In the Garden 

Katrina Labra

The Dancing Professor

Cassie Being Cassie (note: this blog is no longer current, see next link)

Devil’s Advocate (Cassie’s new blog)

———

More bloggy goodness coming soon.

But not tonight.
I had a long, but awesome, night in the studio. I’m tired, sore, and kinda smelly.
And I need a beer.
Sprecher Black Bavarian sounds good.

Good night, friends.

A Short Story

Fawn sat in her rocker, sipping the lavender tea that Mazarine so diligently whipped up.

“A good herbal shouldn’t be too hot, nor should it be too cold.”
Mazarine scrunched her nose at the quip, as Fawn had often repeated it.

As Mazarine took her seat on the front porch of the cottage in the woods,  broke through the trees, sailing so quickly on the air that the flowers bent to the ground and leaves were ripped from their branches. She rushed into the cottage, a blur of pink. Mazarine and Cora worried that she may break the door again.

“What do you suppose has her worked up again, Mazzie?” Asked Fawn.

“Probably another dead-end prophecy. You know, sometimes I feel like she’s not happy unless the end of the kingdom is upon us.”

“I suppose there may be truth to that…. So many prophecies, it’s hard to know if any of them will come about in our lifetimes.”

Cora could be heard in the study, rifling through pages of tomes older than this forest – the women had seen this kingdom grow from seedlings, seedlings that they had planted.

“How long before she comes to sqwak at us?” Mazarine adjusted her shawl. It had been a gift from the land’s first queen, though she couldn’t remember her name. Oh, but she was quite talented with wool and dyes. The green was as vibrant as the day she was given it.

They both sipped their tea and rocked a bit, taking in the sounds of the birds and bugs and branches of their little homestead. At a glance, the cottage was much like any other – lumber and thatch and mud. A close look, though, would show that the cottage was not cut lumber, but was actually a hedge of bushes, grown so tightly together that the had woven themselves into walls, and the roof was a thick patch of mosses and mushrooms.

Cora burst out of the door, red-faced and panting, holding an aged book encased in a glass box.

“Do either of you remember how to open this damnable thing?!”

Fawn and Mazarine looked at each other, quite worried. That book was the oldest, most powerful, and serious in the collection. Even at her most panicked, Cora would NEVER reach for it.

Her voice shaking, Mazarine answered, “All three of us need to open it.”

“You better come inside.” Cora wiped the sweat from her brow – which was still quite furrowed. Fawn had often cautioned her that wrinkles would stick if she kept making that face, but today was not the day to warn Cora about her aging.

“Cora, dear, what is going on?” Fawn set her teacup down on a small stump that doubled as a side table. Mazarine did the same, and smoothed out her dress as they all walked into the drawing room.

“Ladies, we have a situation.
The darkness that we have feared has grown and is about to rear it’s ugly head.
We’ve known this day would come, but Heavens help me, I never thought it would happen so soon.”

Still a bit dazed, each woman set a hand on the glass case, focusing their special “talents”, as they liked to call it. Soft lights emanated from them – green, red, and blue – and the case seemed to melt away.

They looked at the book, sitting there on table. It was just so….  unobtrusive. There was nothing on the cover, no title on the spine. It was brown (which, frankly, they all agreed was an ugly color when it wasn’t out in the woods) and boring.

They all took a deep breath, hoping that which they feared would not come to be.

After a moment, they looked at each other, slightly relieved. The book just sat there.
Doing nothing.

“Well,” said Mazarine, “all that for nothing. You need to learn to rela—-”

A gust of wind blew through the cottage, flipping the pages of the book. When it stopped, Fawn’s heart sank.
Mazarine crinkled her nose, upset that she had spoken too soon.
And Cora…

Cora stared down at the page, a tear rolling down her cheek. It is as we have feared.

Before them was what amounted to a yearbook. Every witch, magician, wizard, and warlock to ever live would have a portion in the book. Some would have a paragraph, others a chapter. As new mages were born, pages were entered into the book.

This page was one of many; it was filled with legends, stories from around the world, of great evils. It hadn’t always been this way, there were many pages of wonderful things.
Melody had such promise. She could speak to the wind and rain; she could heal the land and help crops grow.
She had helped create this kingdom.

The fairies recalled the dark day when things changed.

A wizard, quite mad, had come upon their little cottage. He demanded that they teach him how to manipulate the Earth.
Trying to explain to a madman that you do not manipulate, but simply ask nicely, was impossible.

So he burned it to the ground – all of it.
Cora guessed it was because he wanted to see a new cottage spring forth from the remains or some such nonsense.

Melody was devastated. She had spoken to the walls. She knew every animal and insect that burrowed within the walls and floors and roof.
She could feel the ones that did not make it out. She tended the ones that barely did.

And then she tracked him down.
The forest was angry, and she began to feed off that anger.

Rage boiled in her blood.

Her once shimmery, lavender aura blackened. Her hair twisted and knotted as burnt branches.

And when she found him, she devoured his magic – which she found quite appealing. The power flowed through her, and she could harness it.
He was a shape-shifter…. dragonkind.

She gave his wasted body to the ground, where a small rose bush rose up. The thorns were quite large and very sharp.
Here, she grew her fortress.
Never again would the forest, her forest, be ravaged by men.

Cora, Fawn, and Mazarine had tracked her for months; the tower of thorns had become impressive.

They found her, dirtied and bloodied and burned. Tears had caked the mud to her face.
Fawn tried to hug her, to heal her, but she recoiled.

“Don’t come near me; I fear I will devour you, too.”

“Let us help you.” Fawn sang gently.
“We’ll get you cleaned up and back home.” Whispered Cora.

Before Mazarine could speak, Melody stood up.

“There will never be a home for us. These humans no longer revere us; they fear us. They attack for no reason, they kill without regard, they burn and chop and destroy. Just like the mad wizard.

Now leave, before I take your powers, too.”

“Take our powers?” Mazarine trembled, astonished at what she heard.

“I have been threatened, beaten, and bruised. But in the end, I am strong. Warlocks and druids have come to me, seeking to destroy me. I am a threat, they say!

And they are right. I drain them of their magic and throw their bodies to the rose bushes. My tower feeds and grows.”

Cora dropped her gaze a bit. “Sweetie, you know that it’s wrong to take another’s power.”

“I was defending myself!”

“It’s still wrong, and we can’t let you do it. Come home with us. The trees miss you. The chipmunks are in a tizzy.”

“NO! Now leave!”

Melody was so angry, so sad, so frightened, that she hadn’t noticed the three fairies weaving their spell. The faint lights from their hands wrapping the room like ribbons.
By the time she realized what was happening, it was too late – she was trapped.

Mazarine stepped forward.

“We took you in as a child because you had such potential, such love. We taught you everything we could about kindness and generosity.

You know this is wrong, and it is our duty to stopped you if you cannot stop yourself. You’ve lost control.”

She straightened her skirt and continued, “There will come a day when you are clearer in your head. When that day comes, you will free yourself from this prison. Until then, know that we love you, and always will.”

Fawn looked to her.
“The birds and animals will see to your well-being. Do not worry.”

They left, hearts filled with sadness and regret.

Looking in the book, Cora saw what they dreaded: A dragon, slain by a magic sword. They knew she had the power to free herself now, and they must put things in motion.

“Mazzie, you hop next door and make sure the blood line continues. We’re going to need a prince in a few years.

Fawn, get us an invite to the baby’s party.”

“What baby, what party?”

“Oh, I took care of that last night.” She smiled wryly. “Just get us in the good graces of Their Majesties. Now, go, the both of you! I have work to do.”

When Mazzie and Fawn had left the cottage, Cora got straight to work. This would be the most beautiful sword ever created. It’s powers would remain dormant until the right prince at the right time needed to battle a dragon.

“Maybe I should leave it lodged in a stone somewhere. Only he of pure heart can draw it or some such nonsense…. No, that’d never work.”

“Sleeping Beauty” by Thomas Spence

 

This is an awesome resource!

Metal Gaia

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I cannot lie

I needed to share this, especially since I’m finishing up a Lawhead series (the Raven King series – an historical retelling of Robin Hood). They are by no means small books. 🙂

Adventures and Musings of an Arch Druidess

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I’m in a bit of a mood… It’s been a rough couple of days.


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I am what I am. I would tell you what you want to know if I could, for you have been kind to me. But I am a cat, and no cat anywhere ever gave anyone a straight answer.

 

Darn books bein’ all…. learny and stuff.

 

Malala Yousafzai shot this week for defending her right to an education.
This 14-year-old girl has become a global icon, as well she should, for her courage and strength.

Adventures and Musings of an Arch Druidess

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The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries – Book Review, Part 3

Chapter 3: Celebrating the Holy Days of the Earth

This brief chapter covers Sabbats and Esbats.
For those readers who are not familiar

For those of you not familiar:
There are 8 Sabbats that make up the Wheel of the Year. The Sabbats are solar, seasonal and represent the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. These days are Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltain, Litha, Lughnasadh, and Mabon. Sabbats usually correspond with modern Judeo-Christian holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween.

Esbats are the celebration of the 13 full moons that occur every year. The Esbats are lunar and represent the Goddess at her height of power. These are the times when Her magick is more potent than on any other day of the month.

Back to the book…

Since this is a fairly short chapter, I’ll keep this short.
This is a great chapter. Simple, eh?

This part of the book is just what I expected and quite useful. As a Solitary, it is difficult to find teachers, mentors, etc. to help in learning rituals. I now have a fairly comprehensive how-to on celebrating important Pagan holidays.
Boom.

You can clearly see how each of these corresponds to a modern Judeo-Christian holiday.

The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries – Book Review, Part 2

“The Dianic Tradition and Rites of Life”
I was really, really hoping for something more in-depth on the Dianic Tradition. There are, maybe, 4 or five pages of this 70-some page chapter devoted to any sort of history or tradition. Even then, it’s all speculation. Some of the info is based on some archeological evidence. However, it reads more like an extremist-feminist (read: penis-hating) view on how the world should have begun.

I am beginning to get the idea that some Dianic groups just don’t like dudes.  :/

The rest of the chapter is interesting, though. It touches on old and new rites that can be performed.
Rites for marriage, birthdays, death, the passage into womanhood, and seasonal changes… they’re all in there. There are modern rites, as well, such as a ritual for after an abortion or miscarriage.
I was most struck by the Ritual of Self-Liberation. It is a strong, empowering way to love oneself; I believe everyone should perform this.

I have to say, so far I am not completely ok with some of the messages in the book. I am all for women’s empowerment.
I am not for empowerment at the expense of men.
We are equal.
No, we are not the same, That’s the way I feel it is supposed to be. But we are equally as important in The Wheel, and each gender deserves respect.

Overall: Low points for history, high marks for in-depth rituals/rites. This chapter would be a great resource for those folks looking to celebrate most any occassion.

In my last post, I shared that I had joined a Dianic study group and that we would be reading and discussing “The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries”.

For me to be able to intelligently discuss anything, I usually have to do some thorough research and then write a short essay-like journal to keep track of my thoughts. You see, even if I am really excited or interested in something I still get distract— Ooh, shiny!

See what I mean?

According to the back cover of the book:
“In the early 1970s, pioneering witch and teacher Z Budapest and her Susan B. Anthony Coven self-published a little red paperback called The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries. More than thirty years later this now-not-so-little bookcontinues to educate, entertain, and enlighten, providing a treasure trove of information and rituals for modern pagans, witches, and other women looking to bring a little magic into their spiritual practice.”

Reading that, I have a certain expectation that I will learn at least a bit about the history of  paganism and witchcraft. I should also find humorous, dramatic, and/or romanticized snippets that should delight me and keep me reading.  And I should walk away from this book feeling like I have learned something about the people in the book, paganism in general, and quite possibly myself.

That is an awfully tall order to fill.

I won’t go too much into the forwards and introduction. I read them because I knew this is a newer edition of the book and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Let’s get into this; shall we?

Chapter 1: Feminist Witchcraft
This chapter is broken up into 13 small sub-chapters (a few paragraphs to a few pages), beginning with…

“The Politics of Women’s Religion”.
I expected something of a short essay on women’s use of religion governs their daily lives. And while it wasn’t an essay, the attitude was what I expected.
This section reveals the manifesto of the Susan B. Anthony Coven. It is a series of statements reflecting the groups outlook on attitude and commitments to their craft, their sisters, and themselves. As a whole, they are strong and powerful statements. Calling this the “politics of women’s religion”, though, is a bit of a stretch. It’s a view of the group’s own religious beliefs, and not an all-encompassing thing.

“Women’s Religion, As in Heaven, So on Earth”
Here’s my problem with some all-female pagan groups – They completely discount the importance of men in the very same way some Christian faiths discount the importance of women. It is hypocritical and frustrating.
As I read this section of chapter 1, I found myself clenching my jaw in anger. While I follow the ideal that there is no all-powerful male deity controlling our lives, I also don’t believe there is an all-powerful female deity doing the same.

“The Turning of the Tide: How We Lost It”
There are some great anecdotes about ancient civilizations, their once-female dominated spirituality and the loss of their power by greedy, power-hungry men. It creates an overwhelming alarm in me, as in most women I expect, about the injustice brought upon our ancestors.
I’d like to do a bit of research into the Greek hierarchy and it’s origins to see if what the author says is even close to truth, or if this section of the book is and exaggeration of history. Maybe it’s both. That is the beauty of history, isn’t it?

“The Slothwoman as Ancient Magician”
I really enjoyed this sub-chapter. The idea that our ancient, instinct-driven brain still controls some of our daily life is fascinating to me. Deep down, engrained in our long-forgotten memories there is a force, a beginning that never ended… astounding, don’t you think?
Slothwoman is a term coined by Budapest. I’m not particularly fond of it, but I don’t think I could have come up with anything better. The author believes that we can appease her – this simple creature – through song, poetry, dance, and pretty shiny things. Slothwoman is our base instinct and needs to be loved and honored. In turn, she can provide us with ancient knowledge and guidance.

“Dangers of Magic”
For any woman who practices magic, this section is a pretty important read. It’s a short, 8-paragraph note-to-self guide to not getting an ego. It’s a sort of “How To Not Be a Jerk” section.

The rest of this chapter includes sub-chapters on tools, setup and spell-casting as well as sources for herbs, oils, and incense. This is a helpful resource for women who choose to follow that path of pagan spirituality.
The Slothwomen section of chapter 1 was really the only part that had me interested. And I truly appreciated the resource section. Though I don’t practice traditional spell-casting, I do use aspects of it in prayer and meditation. I don’t feel like I need to burn candles or incense, but having a poem or song to sing to myself helps me feel centered and clears my mind of worry.

I am excited to read chapter 2, as it looks to focus on Dianic tradition and rites. I am a big fan of religious histories, so this should be right up my alley.

Until next time, everyone; stay safe, stay happy.

Well… It has been a while, hasn’t it?

Sorry about that; it’s been a crazy time around here. And I really didn’t have much inspiration to write.
That’s not to say that I have a ton of inspiration to write right now, but I felt like I was neglecting you all.

Instead of my usual “this thought popped into my head” kind of post, I’ll do a sort of book report… thing.
I’m reading some new books for a Dianic study group that I recently joined. Not, like, an academic report, mind you. More like a journal of the thoughts I have as I read the book.

This group, to clarify, is not a coven or anything like that. It’s a group of women who honor feminine mysteries and wish to learn about our traditions together. We believe it’s paramount to growing the next generation of Daughters of the Moon. Society is so outside of the Sacred nowadays and we seek towards bringing us all back to sacred living in every moment.

While I am not a follower of Diana, as you know, I find the parallels between Dianic legend and that of Brigid intriguing.

First up: The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries by Z. Budapest.
“This book is not about reinstating a matriarchy or tearing down patriarchy; it is about women’s spirituality and its relationship with politics and lifestyle.”

It just arrived, so as I start reading it, I’ll update – probably by chapter – my thoughts and feelings. I expect I will dislike some things and may agree with others. I am particularly interested in the history and traditions, and not so much on the spells and witchcraft. It’s not that I have an issue with spell casting and whatnot, but I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of physical magik/magic/etc.

See, I look at spell “casting” as a type of prayer. I don’t necessarily believe that we can manifest control or change over the earth. My biggest concern, I guess, is the thought that some arbitrary thought can create superficial things. I see these “blessings” or “curses” that some folks are selling online. This makes my head hurt. How to you sell a blessing? What price do you put on a curse?

I do believe in the transfer of positive and negative energy to the world around you. But, do I believe that such energy can affect things like wealth or one’s love life or job status? No. Do I believe that the good thoughts of those around you can affect your state of mind enough to give you confidence to get the things you desire? Absolutely.

I digress…
Time to start reading.