Latin American Christianity: Colorful, Complex, Conflicted

It’s that time again! Although I don’t mention every issue on the site, when Christian History Magazine has a real stand out issue that I think would be of interest to you I like to give it a shout out.

Christian History Institute (CHI), publisher of Christian History magazine (CH), announces its latest issue, #130, titled: “Latin American Christianity: colorful, complex, conflicted.” The entire issue explores the formation of more than 20 Central and South American nations since the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and the continent’s conquest by Spanish Crown and Conquistadors (conquerors), and the emigration of various Europeans, Africans and Asians. This is the story of the Catholic Church acting as an arm of the powers of conquest, colonialism and oppression in Latin America and those who repeatedly opposed them. As in previous Christian History issues covering difficult topics such as the Crusades and US slavery, these stories demonstrate how Christians who made terrible mistakes inspire others to avoid mistakes of the past.

The articles contained within are:

Christianity converted by Brian Larkin – The initial encounters between Europeans and Latin Americans

Dancing sickness, ancient gods by Javier Villa-Flore – Religious traditions clashed in Latin America

A long road by Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva – Slavery and Christianity in colonial Latin America

Making faith their own by Matt Forster – Worship, devotion, and folk religion in Latin America

Strangers in a strange land by Joel Morales Cruz – Protestantism and power in nineteenth-century Latin America

“¡Llegaron los pentecostales!” by Carlos F. Cardoza-Orlandi – How Pentecostalism spread in Latin America and the Caribbean

Virgins, nuns, preachers by Evelmyn Ivens – The many roles of women in Latin American Christianity

“A new Pentecost” by Edgardo Colón-Emeric – The story of Medellín

Charity toward all by Charlie Self – Fascinating stories from 500 years of Latin American Christianity

Rooted and released by the editors with Justo L. González and Ondina E. González – Diversity and complexity mark today’s Latin American church

The best part is, it’s FREE to view online! Visit here to check it out!

Beyond the North Wind

When I requested a review copy of “Beyond the North Wind: The Fall and Rise of the Mystic North” by Christopher McIntosh I thought I was getting another general overview of the Norse religion and maybe some rune talk. What I got is so much more!

McIntosh discusses “the North” from every perspective imaginable. Its physical locales, its mystical realm, its past populations and current residents, and their belief systems.

“Beyond the North Wind” spends a lot of time discussing Hyperborea, a land from Greek mythology that was home to a race of giants who lived “beyond the North Wind”. The Greeks thought that Boreas, the god of the North Wind lived in Thrace, and therefore Hyperborea indicates that it is a region beyond Thrace. Unbeknownst to me, Hyperborea is much like Atlantis. There’s much discussion of whether it was a real place, if it is a real place, was it the same as Atlantis and/or other ancient mythological lands, etc. It’s interesting to see all the theories, far-fetched or not, about a land that’s entirely new to me.

McIntosh bookends the ancient past and mythological with a nice survey of the resurgence of the North in popular culture: television shows, comic books, music, and of course everything Thor. Not to mention the adoption of many of their spiritual practices among modern citizens around the globe. Vikings and runes of old, now new again.

Christopher McIntosh has presented a thoughtful overview of the North that I would encourage anyone to check out.

The author has a short video for the book you can watch below.

You can learn more here.

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Justice Howard’s Voodoo

Photographer Justice Howard decided to tackle the subject of Voodoo from her perspective for her latest work, “Voodoo: Conjure and Sacrifice”. Howard’s photos are striking, and not for the faint of heart. She dove deep in assembling her shots, using real human skulls, actual animal parts, and true human forms (which includes nudity).

Paired with her photos are the writings of New Orleans Voodoo Queen Bloody Mary, who some of you may recognize as the author of “Bloody Mary’s Guide to Hauntings, Horrors, and Dancing with the Dead”. Bloody Mary helps provide a frame of reference, a starting point if you will, for the art that Howard creates. Howard presents her interpretation of such Voodoo notables as Papa Legba, Baron Samedi, and Marie Laveau. She also pays artistic respect to Voodoo trappings like snakes, the Crossroads, and animal sacrifice.

Justice Howard’s “Voodoo: Conjure and Sacrifice” is complex visual piece. One moment it presents a beautiful, rich, dark landscape and at the next turn it’s vibrant and sparse. Her work makes you contemplate Voodoo and its relationship with the outside world (with you being the outside world, assuming you don’t follow the faith). It’s definitely not for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

You can learn more here.

Self-Love through the Sacred Feminine

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of goddesses, and so I’ll admit the main reason I wanted to check out Jo Jayson’s “Self-Love through the Sacred Feminine” was because the cover art was beautiful and the subtitle is “A Guide through the Paintings & Channelings of Jo Jayson”. I figured a book full of art like what was on the cover was worth a look.

“Self-Love through the Sacred Feminine: A Guide through the Paintings & Channelings of Jo Jayson” is a thoughtful exploration of what it is to identify as a woman. Jayson explores the lives/folklore and wisdom of Guinevere: The Queen, Mariamne of Magdala: The Magdalene, Brighid: Mother Goddess of Ireland, Isis: One Who is All, Mary: The Mother, Jeanne D’Arc: Maid of Orleans, Miriam: The Prophetess, Guan Yin: Mother of Compassion and Mercy, Morgan Le Fey: The Water Spirit, Artemis: Maiden of The Hunt, Kali Ma: The Dark Mother, Inanna: Star of Heaven and Earth, and Grandmother Spider: The Weaver.

First and foremost, the artwork is BEAUTIFUL! The book is hardcover with full color glossy pages, perfect for showcasing Jayson’s work. Each entry includes a brief history lesson and what we can learn from them. There is also a prayer and then some exercises you can work through. “Self-Love through the Sacred Feminine” is equal parts artbook, workbook, and history lesson. It’s wonderful book!

You can learn more here.

One Truth and One Spirit

Early on in my interest in magic and religion I was given the advice to steer clear of Aleister Crowley. Essentially that he, and his work, was not for beginners or dabblers. Since I am nothing if not a dabbler, I have basically remained mostly ignorant of Crowley and Thelema. I can say that “One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy” by Keith Readdy has changed all that.

Readdy approaches Thelema as a new religious movement, which may seem odd to those of us on the outside looking in, but he lays out a compelling argument for its inclusion as one. And as with all new religious movements, things always getting interesting after the passing of its founder, since this is when you learn if a religion is sustainable. That’s why “One Truth and One Spirit” focuses on the years following Crowley’s death in 1947.

Readdy quite adeptly summarizes Crowley’s Thelema in enough detail for the novice such as myself without getting too bogged down as to become tedious, particularly for those versed in the practice. He outlines the framework for the O.T.O and AA (two intertwined, sister organizations within Thelema). Readdy also takes on the daunting task of trying outline the succession and evolution of the O.T.O. and AA following Crowley’s death. He utilizes a myriad of sources including some previously unavailable to the public.

It should be noted that Readdy is a member of the O.T.O. The author makes it clear when he is expressing his opinion, and overall, I feel he offers a balanced look at the subject matter. Of course, those involved with the organizations may feel differently.

“One Truth and One Spirit” by Keith Readdy is an excellent introduction to Aleister Crowley, Thelema, the associated organizations, and their past and future.

You can learn more here.

Hail Satan?

I received a press release about a documentary that I definitely want to see! Check it out!

Chronicling the extraordinary rise of one of the most colorful and controversial religious movements in American history, Hail Satan? is an inspiring and entertaining new feature documentary from acclaimed director Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon). When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways. As charming and funny as it is thought-provoking, Hail Satan? offers a timely look at a group of often misunderstood outsiders whose unwavering commitment to social and political justice has empowered thousands of people around the world.

Hail Satan? will be in theaters April 19th! You can learn more and find tickets at https://www.hailsatanfilm.com/.

Joseph Campbell: Correspondence 1927-1987

I’d like to think everyone knows who Joseph Campbell is, but just in case, here’s the briefest of biographies. Campbell was probably the person most responsible for bringing the discussion of mythology into popular culture. He’s the author of “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” and the four-volume “The Masks of God”. His ability to find the universality in myth and religion and convey them to the average person makes him an individual who will always be remembered.

With that in mind you’ll understand why I was excited to read “Joseph Campbell: Correspondence 1927-1987”. This is a never before available collection of written conversations between Campbell and some amazing people, such as Alan Watts, Bill Moyers, Thomas Mann. These letters give insight into Campbell’s relationships, life, and influence on others. Alongside the correspondence are plenty of great photos.

Obviously, the correspondence is the star of the show, but it should be noted the introduction features a wonderful biography of Campbell. It provides all the background you need to understand and enjoy the letters that follow.

To learn more, visit here.

Gods and Monsters

I am a sucker for packaging and formatting. Because of this, I am a sucker for Rockpool Publishing’s Supernatural Series. You may remember that in 2017 I reviewed “Witches and Wizards” by Lucy Cavendish, and in that review, I said, “This book is going to last, and better still it says, ‘The Supernatural Series Book One’ at the top. This hopefully means I can look forward to a shelf full of these attractive and interesting books.”

I now have two more attractive and interesting books from the series! These two have much in common with “Witches and Wizards”. Both are in the compact hardcover format that I loved with the previous book. Both have beautiful cover art and nice black and white illustrations throughout them. And both are big picture, general overviews, of subjects that could have books devoted to just one entry.

First up we have “Monsters and Creatures: Discover Beasts from Lore and Legends” by Gabiann Marin. This sucker discusses just about any creature you can think of! You’ll find well known creatures, like dragons, mermaids, werewolves, and centaurs. Marin also has loaded “Monsters and Creatures” with tons of lesser known creatures, such as kappas, pookas, kinnaris, and drop bears. (I would tell you about them, but shouldn’t you just buy the book?) At 196 pages it doesn’t go in depth with any of them, but “Monsters and Creatures” offers a great starting point.

The other book, “Gods and Goddesses: The Rise of Divine Mythologies”, also by Gabiann Marin, follows a similar format. Marin discusses deities with origins in Greece, Egypt, China, Rome, and more. However, she doesn’t just discuss deities of the past, but their existence in modern times. Again, it doesn’t go into great detail, but it’s a fabulous starting point.

If you’re looking to learn more about these books, visit here.

The Heart of the Goddess

“The Heart of the Goddess: Art, Myth and Meditations of the World’s Sacred Feminine” by Hallie Iglehart Austen was originally published in 1990, but Austen felt the time was right to bring it back.

She’s right. In this time of #resistance, Austen’s look at universal spiritual feminism is right on the mark. Respect for the earth, community building, and reclaiming the power womanhood all blend together in “The Heart of the Goddess”. Instead of your typical who’s who of female deities, Austen discusses each goddess from the perspective of a piece of artwork featuring the deity. This allows for a discussion of the origin of the art (geography and date) and with it, the history and culture surrounding the goddess.

To make “The Heart of the Goddess” a spiritual journey for the reader, the deities are collected into 3 parts: Creation, Transformation, and Celebration. Along the way Austen presents meditations, prayers, and thought exercises with the goddesses.

Regardless of how many books you own or have read about goddesses, I guarantee you that you’ve never encountered anything like this. Informative, spiritual, and filled with art pieces from antiquity to contemporary times, “The Heart of the Goddess” is, and will remain, a classic.

Learn more here.

The Real Witches of New England

I’m nosey. I’m super interested in people’s lives, particularly spiritual leaders and magic users. So, you can understand why it was impossible to resist Ellen Evert Hopman’s latest book “The Real Witches of New England: History, Lore, and Modern Practice”. It is a big ol’ book of interviews and biographies of modern-day witches and people who were accused of being witches in the still too recent for comfort past.

The first part of the book is dedicated to the history of witch persecutions. It’s a concise round up of who was targeted, why there was witch paranoia, where there was witch hysteria, and what actual witches were doing during this period. This next part is truly inspired. You can find loads of books with biographies of people accused of witchcraft, however what Hopman has done is not only provide you with their biographies, but also includes interviews with their modern-day descedants. She asks them questions such as were they always aware they were descended from an accused witch, how do they define witchcraft, and do they practice themselves.

Lastly, and my favorite part, is a whose who of contemporary witches of New England. There are some big names, such as Raven Grimassi, Christopher Penczak, and Christian Day, and many that were new to me. Hopman conducted email interviews with 25 different people. By asking a relatively consistent set of questions of each person it gives you a unique perspective of the various ways people define and practice witchcraft. I do have one question though, she interviewed Christopher Penczak and Adam Sartwell, two of the three founding members of the Temple of Witchcraft, why not also include Steve Kenson, the third founder and all around magical bad ass? Seriously, his absence totally stuck out to me. (What can I say, I’m a ride or die Kenson girl!)

I can’t imagine who wouldn’t love “The Real Witches of New England”. Hopman has managed to put all New England’s witchcraft history, and its future, into one enjoyable book. I only hope she does more books like this focusing on other geographic areas.

To learn more, visit here.