Book Reviews

Book Reviews Nov-Jan 2018

Book Review: Seasonal Occult Rituals by William G. Gray

In Seasonal Occult Rituals, Gray lays out the structure of 4 occult rituals that can be done for the seasons and explains the methodology behind the rituals. Just as importantly, Gray also provides readers an opportunity to build their quarter cosmos for each season and for each quarter of the circle. whether you do the rituals or not, you’ll learn a lot about how to build your cosmology from reading this book.

Book Review: A whole new mind by Daniel Pink

In this book, the author explore right brained thinking and how the job market is being defined by right brained thinking. While this book was written a while, the premise that the author has shared has only become more true since the book was written, and its worth reading the book because it provides readers a way to understand how the modern world is changing and being defined by right brain thinking. The author also provides some useful exercises that can help you apply right brain thinking to your life.

Book Review: Playback: The Magic of William S. Burroughs by Ashe Journal

This is a collection of essays and poetry about William S. Burroughs. The essays touch on some of Burroughs spiritual interests and one addresses his magical work, but for the most part this collection doesn’t do justice to the magical work of Burroughs and that’s disappointing. There’s a lot of magical concepts in Burroughs work and it would be good if there was an actual book that explored his magical practices. This collection isn’t it.

Book Review: Evoking the Primal Goddess by William G. Gray

Evoking the Primal Goddess was the last book Gray wrote. It’s an interesting book which explores the divine feminine and Gray has some interesting theories and ideas. At times the book wanders a bit and I would take some of what he shares with a grain of salt, but its worth a reading and pondering because as always Gray makes you think.

Book Review: The man who lied to his laptop by Clifford Nass and Corina Yen

This is a fascinating book which explores how people relate to technology by attributing human behavior to the technology. The authors share some experiments that were conducted that demonstrate that people often view their technology from an anthropomorphic lens. They then transfer their observations over to human behavior in general, showing how these lessons can be applied to your everyday interactions. Worth a read if you want to understand how to relate to people (and machines) better.

Book Review: Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

This is another excellent book by Brene Brown which explores how to apply the principles of her work to team settings in workplaces, but can also be applied to your personal life. I particularly found the story technique helpful, as well as the value exercise, but the entire book has excellent perspectives that can help you become a better communicator with yourself and others.

8 Book Reviews

Book Review: Lessons Learned from Occult Letters by William G. Gray

This gem of a book was recently republished and it features letters William G. Gray received from one of his mentors, as well as commentary from Gray about the contents of the letters. For that reason alone this book is valuable because it offers a bit of history and perspective. But what else makes this content so valuable are the insights hidden in the letters and commentary. For someone new to magic they are extremely important, but even the seasoned practitioner will get a lot from the book. It's certainly a book I will read again and again and each time I have no doubt fresh perspectives and insights will yield themselves. 

7 Book Reviews

Book Review: The Physics of Angels by Mathew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake

This is a fascinating book which explores the mythos of Angels and relates the description of Angels to contemporary Physics. I enjoyed learning more about the mythology of Angels, though I did find the physics metaphor to be a bit of a stretch. Thankfully they focused mostly on them mythology of the Angels, and specifically in regards to three classic perspectives on Angels via Dionysus the Areopagite, St. Augustine and Hildegarde of Bingen. I found the quotes and commentary to be interesting in relationship to understanding Angels, but would note that the focus of this book was Christiancentric and didn't really represent any other perspective on Angels from Quabalah or Islam. That said, if you're interested in learning more about Angels, this is a useful book to read.

Book Review: Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Do you ever feel like life is too complicated or like you're going in too many directions at once? If so, you need to read this book. The author does an excellent job of portraying the discipline of the essentialist, the person who only focuses on what is essential and eliminates the non-essential in the process. In this book the author shows what the difference is between the essential and non-essential and provides suggestions on how to implement essentialism in your life. I've found it to be very helpful in my own life as I've been undergoing changes, and I recommend this book to anyone who feels like life is overwhelming and complicated.

Book Review: The 7 Secrets of the Prolific by Hillary Rettig

The 7 Secrets of the Prolific is an excellent book for writers who have writer's block or have troubles with procrastination. The author does an excellent job of exploring what stops people from writing and helping them figure out what actions to take. Even for someone who is prolific, this book will have some valuable insights. I found it helpful for recognizing some behaviors that have stopped me from being as productive with my writing as I'd like. She also does a good job of exploring the realities of being a published author and how to think of your writing as a business. If you want to be more productive with your writing check this book out. 

Book Review: Western Inner Workings by William. G. Gray

This is another excellent by William G. Gray that explores the inner workings of Western Mystery traditions. It's as comprehensive book that explores a number of salient issues, such as sacred kingship, the function of ceremonial tools, mediation and ties all of them together in a way that enables the reader to go deep with Western Mystery traditions, while also developing their own cosmological models. I've found this book to be very useful in some of my own ongoing work and would recommend it as well as Gray's other books to anyone serious about developing their magical practice.

Book Review: Welcome to your World by Sarah Williams Goldhagen

Welcome to your world is an intriguing book which explores how the environment we build around us affects us, as well as how we navigate that reality. What I find really fascinating is how the author integrates cognitive and bodily experiences into the book so that we're not just looking at the environment, but also our own place in space. If you want to understand space, building designs, or how you navigate the world around this is an excellent book to read because it provides you a way to look at your environment from a unique perspective and consider how you situate yourself in the world around you as well as how bring good design into your life and improve your circumstances as a result.

Book Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is a must read book for any artist, writer, musician or creative. What I like about it is that author walks you through the life of being a writer, the challenges and the joys and reminds us that any creative act is really a communion with the divine, with the writer as the mediator. Reading this book helped me re-examine my writing practice in terms of how I approach and appreciate the ideas that come to me. I would highly recommend this book to any successful and aspiring writer.

3 book reviews for your spiritual path

Book Review: The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely

In this book, the author provides further social experiments where he explores irrational behaviors and shows why people make the decisions they make based off emotions and other factors that aren't rational. It's a fascinating book which explores human behavior and provides insights and glimpses into why people behave the way they do. The author also explores how irrational behavior can benefit us, in the right context. If you're interested in understanding human behavior, this book will provide some fascinating insights that you can apply in your life and work.

Book Review: Rising Strong by Brene Brown

In Rising Strong, Brene Brown explores how to reset your life when you've experienced adversity. This book was very timely for me to read because of some tough experiences I've had n this last year. Reading through it gave me valuable techniques to draw on as I work through those experiences. It's helped me work through some tough emotions and behavior patterns and provided me a way forward. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with some life changing struggles, who needs some guidance on how to move forward, but also to anyone who wants to improve how they work through difficult situations.

Book Review: Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

In Braving the Wilderness, The author explores the topic of belonging and how to discover true belonging with yourself, as well as how to brave the wilderness and stay true to your journey and message instead of trying to fit in. Reading this book has been timely for me as I've gone on my own metaphorical journey into the wilderness with my business and life. I particularly found the idea that I belong to myself and that I can give permission slips to myself to be helpful, because its allowed me to look at my life and give myself the necessary breathing space I needed as I made some tough transitions. I highly recommend this book as a guide to help you brave your own wilderness and find true belonging. 

Book Reviews and a meditation on Emptiness

Book Reviews: Grammar for the Soul by Lawrence Weinstein While not a typical book that one might associate with spiritual techniques, this book proved rather intriguing because the author examines how punctuation, tenses, clauses, passivity, etc is used in language to communicate and also empower an individual. As someone who consistently is interested in exploring the connection between language and spiritual techniques, I also found this book useful for considering how I could not only improve my writing, but also improve the efficacy of my magical workings when it came to using language.

Each chapter is only a few pages long, but the author manages to include a lot of information as well as samples for how grammar can be used to empower and communicate, as well as create personal change. The author's narrative is friendly and approachable. I didn't feel lost in a sea of grammar rules. If anything, I felt that I could easily navigate grammar's laws and use them to my benefit, both for my writing and my sense of self.

If I have one quibble with this book, it's that the author didn't include exercises for the reader. While the examples he used were illustrative of how to improve one's writing skills as well as how to use writing to effect personal change, the lack of exercises can keep the reader from realizing the book's full potential, unless they are already active writers. That said, I'd give this book a 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: The Mind and the Brain by Jeffery Schwartz and Sharon Begley

This book was probably the most fascinating book I read about neuroscience and that's saying something since I find all of them fascinating. In this book the author explains neuroplasticity and how it continues to work in the brains of an adult as well as a child. The author also reviews many of the neuroscience experiments and projects done by various people as well as how those projects have confirmed the efficacy of mindful practices in controlling our habits and thoughts.

What I found really fascinating was how the author's work with OCD patients help them overcome that affliction by learning how to rewire the thought patterns. Equally interesting is the focus on how we can deliberately change our brains not only to heal, but also to continue sharpening our skills. For people interested in the intersection of neuroscience and magic, this book is a must read. 5 out 5

*******

A Meditation on Emptiness

Last night, while at the Deacon X fetish event, I again felt myself feeling empty...I think it was a continuing realization that with everything going on there, I had a sense of loneliness, a sense of not feeling satisfied...a realization, again, that this emptiness is not something that can be cured by the presence of anyone person...that it is something that can be ignored or sometimes not felt, but it is still a fundamental part of life. I felt a moment of anger and frustration...part of me wanted to walk out and just keep walking...but instead of doing that I sat down, and start a Taoist breathing meditation, opening myself up to that feeling of emptiness, accepting it. As I breathed I circulated my energy into that feeling of emptiness and felt my emotions swirl into the energy until I felt very calm. And I felt the emptiness reach out and start teaching me something I could do with the circulating energy to not only calm myself, but direct the emptiness I felt. I directed it into my hands, which I would later put to good use at said event ;)

Still what I came away with is that emptiness can be worked with...not just felt but worked with, which will make the oncoming elemental year very interesting indeed.