Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule

You might remember that I really loved Jason Mankey’s book “Witch’s Wheel of the Year”. If not, I loved it. I made sure to keep an eye out for what would be published from him next. When it turned out to be “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule”, I reached out to Llewellyn for a copy, even though I expected it to just be a repacking of the Yule stuff from “Witch’s Wheel of the Year”. I was wrong.

Considering how great “Witch’s Wheel of the Year” was, I should have known that Mankey wouldn’t just phone it in for “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule”. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer abundance of enthusiasm Mankey for all things winter holiday. Normally I don’t look at reviews or ratings for books I plan on reviewing, but I couldn’t help but notice that many readers were disappointed in the lack of laser focus on Yule. I suppose it’s a fair criticism, considering the title is “Llewellyn’s Little Book of YULE”, however, what some found a weakness I found a strength. Just like in “Witch’s Wheel of the Year”, Mankey is effortlessly inclusive, working to make sure all holidays from right after American Thanksgiving through the New Year. In a world of overlapping religions and traditions, “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule” does an excellent job guiding you in ways to incorporate as many, or as few, observances as you wish.

Honestly, don’t go into the holiday season without “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule” by Jason Mankey.

You can learn more here.

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Byzantine Intersectionality

Today we are talking about an academic work exploring the Byzantine empire that is an accessible read and incredibly relevant for today. “Byzantine Intersectionality: Sexuality, Gender, & Race in the Middle Ages” by Roland Betancourt is an eye-opening, thought provoking work.

Intersectionality is “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” (Oxford Dictionary) It was coined in 1989, but obviously marginalized identities existed before then.

Betancourt utilizes literature, religious texts, and art to examine lives of transgendered monks, sexual consent and the Virgin Mary, slut shaming of society women, race around the Ethiopian Eunuch, and same sex desire in the lives of monks and the story of Doubting Thomas. Medical texts of the time show that late term abortions and sex affirming surgeries were part of the era.

Honestly, this review is not doing the book justice. “Byzantine Intersectionality” by Roland Betancourt is a riveting read that made me view the past differently, and in turn, think more deliberately about our future. I think everyone should read this book.

You can learn more here.

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Pro-Life Evangelical Leaders Publicly Endorse Biden

On October 2nd, prominent pro-life evangelical leaders launched www.prolifeevangelicalsforbiden.com and are inviting other evangelicals to join in signing a public statement. They acknowledge disagreement with Biden on abortion but believe that Biden’s overall agenda is closer to what they call a “biblically balanced agenda” than that of Donald Trump.

Prominent signers include John Huffman, board chair emeritus of Christianity Today, (one of the most prominent evangelical magazines in the country), Richard Foster, author of the best-selling Celebration of Discipline, Jerushah Duford, Billy Graham’s granddaughter and Richard Mouw, president emeritus of Fuller seminary.

The signers are diverse: a Trump voter in 2016; a life-long Republican who refused to vote for Trump or Clinton in 2016; people who never before in their life publicly said how they would vote and never before endorsed a Presidential candidate until this year.

Their statement/petition, featuring some of the signers is as follows:

As pro-life evangelicals, we disagree with Vice President Biden and the Democratic platform on the issue of abortion. But we believe a biblically shaped commitment to the sanctity of human life compels us to a consistent ethic of life that affirms the sanctity of human life from beginning to end.

Many things that good political decisions could change destroy persons created in the image of God and violate the sanctity of human life. Poverty kills millions every year. So does lack of healthcare and smoking. Racism kills. Unless we quickly make major changes, devastating climate change will kill tens of millions. Poverty, lack of accessible health care services, smoking, racism, and climate change are all pro-life issues. As the National Association of Evangelicals’ official public policy document (FOR THE HEALTH OF THE NATION) insists, “Faithful evangelical civic engagement and witness must champion a biblically balanced agenda.“ Therefore we oppose “one issue” political thinking because it lacks biblical balance.

Knowing that the most common reason women give for abortion is the financial difficulty of another child, we appreciate a number of Democratic proposals that would significantly alleviate that financial burden: accessible health services for all citizens, affordable childcare, a minimum wage that lifts workers out of poverty.

For these reasons, we believe that on balance, Joe Biden’s policies are more consistent with the biblically shaped ethic of life than those of Donald Trump. Therefore, even as we continue to urge different policies on abortion, we urge evangelicals to elect Joe Biden as president.

Richard Mouw, President emeritus, Fuller Seminary

Ronald J. Sider, President emeritus, Evangelicals for Social Action

Brenda Salter McNeil, Reconciler, Professor, Pastor

Jerushah Duford, Speaker, author, Billy Graham’s granddaughter

John Huffman, Board Chair emeritus, Christianity Today

Roberta Hestenes, Former President, Eastern University

Claude Alexander, Bishop

Joel C Hunter, Faith community Organizer

Richard J. Foster, Author, Celebration of Discipline, Founder, Renovare

Myron S. Augsburger, President emeritus, Eastern Mennonite University

Ray Bakke, Professor of Global Urban Mission

David Black, President emeritus, Eastern University

Bryant L Myers, Professor, Fuller Seminary

Manfred Brauch, President emeritus, Palmer Theological Seminary

John Perkins, Founder, Christian Community Development Association

You can learn more and join these signers at: www.prolifeevangelicalsforbiden.com

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The Pagan Book of the Dead

Didn’t I just publish a review of a Claude Lecouteux book? Yes, yes, I did. There is already another book? Yes, yes, there is. Is it too much? No, no, it isn’t. Theoretically, you can have too much of a good thing, like fried food or sugar (not that I reign that in). However, when it comes to Lecouteux, you can NEVER have too much of a good thing, and his latest, “The Pagan Book of the Dead” is a very good thing.

“The Pagan Book of the Dead” explores the afterlife from a variety of cultures and sources and how it evolved. Medieval Christian depictions of the afterlife were apparently the English-speaking world’s first torture porn. I have trouble handling horror (movies or books) and dude, the crazy ways a soul could be tortured was/is messed up! Rarely did I see anything about heaven, occasionally I would read about forgiveness, but primarily, that afterlife is all about torture. And although medieval Christianity takes the taco for discussing afterlife as primarily torture, they don’t own the exclusive rights to unhappily ever afters. In fact, one of the biggest features of “The Pagan Book of the Dead” is that unlike most of Lecouteux’s books, which focus on English, French, and German texts, this book also has texts from Arab countries, Nicaragua, and Asia. Believe me, they can be just as judgmental and punitive.

Which highlights one of the things I loved about this book, which is not only its inclusion of other cultures, but other formats. Along with the traditional tales (fairy or otherwise) you have come to expect, Lecouteux also features Gypsy folktales and songs as sources. With these extra inclusions he crafts an even better tapestry of the interconnectedness of our stories and the universality of many of our themes and symbols.

I am not 100% certain, but “The Pagan Book of the Dead” MAY be my new favorite Claude Lecouteux book.

You can learn more here.

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The Satanic Temple’s Reproductive Rights Campaign

Press release from The Satanic Temple

The Satanic Temple (TST) has announced that its religious abortions during the first trimester are exempt from state regulations that hinder access to pregnancy termination services and serve no medical purpose. TST has expressed concerns about the opportunity for its members to perform certain voluntary religious practices, specifically its abortion ritual. Currently, those seeking to terminate a pregnancy around the country may be required to endure unnecessary waiting periods, mandatory counseling, unwanted sonograms, and may be given unscientific reading materials that are designed to elicit shame and sway their decision.

TST argues that these requirements, as well as other legal obligations, are not medically necessary, and insists that Satanists are exempt from these regulations if they undergo first-trimester abortions in accordance with TST’s religious ritual. The satanic abortion ritual involves the recitation of TST’s Third and Fifth Tenets, which celebrate bodily autonomy and the adherence to best scientific practices, along with a personal affirmation that is ceremoniously intertwined with the abortion.

TST bases its assertions of abortion mandate exemptions on the protections provided by State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA), which generally prohibits the government from substantially interfering with a person’s free exercise of religion. This law was famously affirmed in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, 573 U.S. 682 (2014). Hobby Lobby successfully argued that it did not have to cover the costs of certain contraceptives for their female employees despite being mandated to do so under the Affordable Care Act because its owners held a religious belief that the contraceptives were abortifacients.

TST’s reproductive rights spokesperson, Jane Essex, notes, “Many states have laws that interfere with our members’ ability to practice their religious beliefs. No Christian would accept a mandatory waiting period before they can partake in Communion. No Christian would tolerate a law that insists state counseling is necessary before someone can be baptized. Our members are justly entitled to religious liberty in order to practice our rituals as well.”

Essex adds, “The law is clearly on our side. If RFRA states do not want to recognize our rights, they will ultimately have to claim that our abortions are not satanic. Given that many people fanatically insist that all abortions are satanic, the states’ argument will be very unpopular. Not only will those who deny Satanists their religious freedom be denounced by defenders of liberty, but they will also be detested by those who demonize abortion. Hopefully, states will do the right thing and respect our legal rights.”

These kinds of hijinks that highlight hypocrisy are common of The Satanic Temple. They are probably best known for their work in attempting to get their statue of Baphomet displayed in states that erect monuments of Ten Commandments at court houses (in violation of the separation of church and state). This kind of declaration is all well and good, but it is when a member of the Temple tries to invoke it that the rubber meets the road.

About The Satanic Temple:
The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate for practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. For more information on The Satanic Temple, visit https://thesatanictemple.com/.

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How the Church Fostered Science and Technology

I like to think of my readers as a rather well-informed, open-minded bunch, so I feel it’s fair to share that Christianity once being a main propeller of scientific discovery isn’t a shock to you. Yes, the church that we now associate with rejection of science was one of the driving forces for science in the past. The latest issue of Christian History Magazine explores this with “Science & Technology – How the church fostered science and technology”.

According to Christian History, this issue “features a collection of in-depth articles chronicling how the Scientific Revolution, that unfolded in Europe between 1550-1700 in Christians founded universities, laid the groundwork for modern science. Over the past twenty centuries, followers of Christ pursued scientific and technological innovation with Christian motives and understandings, that were both productive and controversial.”

The articles included are:

Divine power, wisdom, and goodness by James Hannam
The medieval flourishing of natural philosophy in Christianity

Natural adversaries by David Lindberg
Has Christianity always warred with science?

The condemnations of 1277 by James Hannam
Debates over Aristotle’s role in scientific exploration

To make whole by Glenn Myers
Hildegard of Bingen, naturalist and apothecary

What is so great about Albert? by Michael W. Tkacz
The preserver of scientific riches

Understanding God through light and tides by Nicholas Jacobson

Faithful friar or scientific sorcerer? by Richard Oosterhoff
Roger Bacon on experimental science

Christian History Timeline: Faith and Science by the editors
A few of the highlights of Christian exploration of science that we touch on in this issue

The clergy behind science as we know it by Jennifer Powell McNutt
Enlightenment-era pastors didn’t oppose modern science. They helped advance it

Science vs. religion by James Ungureanu
What is really at war here?

A world of love and light by Edward B. Davis
Christian theology shaped modern science through the work of Johannes Kepler and Robert Boyle

The “religion of geology” by Edward Hitchcock & Edward B. Davis

Drinking from a fount on Sunday by Geoffrey Cantor
Michael Faraday’s experiments advanced the study of electricity

Freedom from dualism, by Tom Topel
On several occasions Maxwell indicated his view on the relationship between his faith and physics

“I know that my Redeemer liveth” by Jennifer Woodruff Tait
George Washington Carver sought to understand God’s creation and develop its benefits for others

God made it, God loves it, God keeps it by the editors and interviewees
We talked to four scientists who are believers—three with distinguished careers and one embarking on the journey.

Interested? Christian History Magazine is free to view online! You can explore all of this and their past issues too!

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10 Questions with Deborah Blake (with Giveaway)

This is an interview with Deborah Blake, author of The Goddess is in the Details, Everyday Witchcraft and numerous other books from Llewellyn, along with popular tarot and oracle decks. She’s also written the award-winning author of the Baba Yaga and Broken Rider paranormal romance series and the Veiled Magic urban fantasies from Berkley.

1. Considering the current situation, we cannot really start without me first asking, how are you doing?

I’m hanging in there. I feel very fortunate, all things considered. I live in a rural area that hasn’t been as badly hit as some, and no one I know has gotten sick. I have a nice house to hide out in and the cats for company. On the down-side, I am definitely feeling the stress, as most people are. It has made it hard to be creative. And I miss being able to hang out with my friends. Blue Moon Circle, my coven, finally got together yesterday for the solstice for the first time since February (outside, safely distancing, of course). It was lovely.

2. Your latest book is “Modern Witchcraft: Goddess Empowerment for the Kick-Ass Woman.” What made you decide to do a goddess-oriented book on witchcraft?

It just felt like the right time. So many women I know are struggling with feeling scared/worried/angry/frustrated/triggered, sometimes all at the same time. I think many of us feel helpless, no matter how hard we work for positive change. So I wanted to write a book that would help women (anyone who identifies as female in any way, really) feel empowered and heard instead.

3. “Modern Witchcraft” serves as a comprehensive introduction to witchcraft practice, which is a huge topic. How difficult was it to decide what to include?

Nearly impossible! On the one hand, I am writing for a new audience, and I’m assuming that at least a portion of them are coming to Witchcraft for the first time. On the other hand, goddesses are such a huge topic on their own, I didn’t want to spend too much time in the book talking about basic practices and tenets, instead of the focus of the book. Hopefully I managed a good balance.

4. Who are some of your favorite goddesses and why?

I often call on the goddess in a general way, rather than invoking a specific one. But I confess to a certain fondness for Hecate, who is both protective and kick-ass, and very witchy. If I have a personal deity, it is Her. I love Brigid for Her healing and creative aspects, and of course, Bast because cats are Her sacred animal.
5. Do you have any goddesses on your altar?

At the moment, I have a statue on my main altar of Brigid that was a gift from my daughter. She is standing in front of a cauldron and holding a sacred flame. On the altar in my bedroom, which is devoted to the spirits of my cats who are no longer with me, I have two very rough pottery statues of god and goddess in their more primitive, less specific forms.

6. In these times of upheaval, how can witchcraft help?

I think having a spiritual path—no matter what it is—helps to ground us during the tough times, and brings us a measure of peace we may not find in other aspects of our lives. For me, Witchcraft also allows me to connect with the gods on a daily basis and to do spellwork for protection, healing, and other issues that are so important right now.

7. In “Modern Witchcraft” you mention that you have a lot of books about goddesses. I consider myself to be a lady with a lot of books about goddesses. So exactly how many books do you have? Yes, I want to see if mine is bigger than yours. Goddess book collections, that is.

Ooh, it’s on! Let me go count… Okay, I have ten books specifically focused on goddesses, and lots more that have large sections about them. Plus, five different goddess oracles (I suspect you’ve got me beat).

FYI, I have 3 about specific goddesses, 8 about assorted goddesses, and 3 oracle decks based on goddesses.

8. You have mentioned on social media that there have been knock off copies of your tarot decks (Everyday Witch Tarot and Everyday Witch Oracle) online. How prevalent of a problem is copyright infringement in your industry?

It’s insane. Until I became an author, I had no idea how bad the problem was, and it seems to be exploding exponentially. I get alerts daily about free downloads of my books (which not only means neither the publisher nor I make any money on them, but usually the people who download them get free viruses along with their stolen books) and I’m starting to get constant emails from people complaining to me that they bought a copy of the tarot for four dollars (instead of the 25-30 it should cost) and wondering why it didn’t come with the printed guidebook, or why there are cards missing—and can I please fix it. No, no I can’t. It is incredibly discouraging to work so hard and then have that work stolen.

9. Do you have any upcoming projects you want to share with our readers?

I do! I am working on a new book with Llewellyn which will be out sometime early in 2022, I think. It is The Modern Eclectic Witch’s Book of Shadows, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. It is going to be in full color! I also have a new cozy mystery series coming out from Berkley, about a woman who buys a rundown animal rescue. It’s actually loosely based on the shelter I got my cats Diana and Harry Dresden from, and I’m planning to donate part of my sales to them when it comes out. (February 2021.) The first book is called Furbidden Fatality. There is a little black kitten in it that might remind you of someone you once knew.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

I always see you posting amazing pictures of the breakfasts you get at local restaurants. I’m a little jealous! Which breakfast is your favorite?

Here in Ballston Spa, NY we have A LOT of great places to eat, run by so many passionate people. There are many delicious breakfasts to be found, but the absolute BEST way we’ve been doing breakfast is ordering the Breakfast Fries from The Ribbon Café. Brace yourself, it is a pile of fries, covered in sausage gravy (using sausage that’s made in house), with bacon, ham, cheese, and topped with a fried egg. We get it to go. Then stop at Nomad Coffee and Crepes, where the owner roasts his own coffee beans. There I get their new Espresso Fizz, which is iced espresso, with elder flower tonic, orange, and orange bitters. The two go together so well, and I’m being socially responsible getting it all as take out!

About Deborah Blake:
Deborah Blake is the award-winning author of the Baba Yaga and Broken Rider paranormal romance series and the Veiled Magic urban fantasies from Berkley.

Deborah has also written The Goddess is in the Details, Everyday Witchcraft and numerous other books from Llewellyn, along with popular tarot and oracle decks. She has published articles in Llewellyn annuals, and her ongoing column, “Everyday Witchcraft” is featured in Witches & Pagans Magazine.

Deborah can be found online at Facebook, Twitter, her popular blog (Writing the Witchy Way), and www.deborahblakeauthor.com She lives in a 130 year old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with various cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.

Fun fact, Deborah Blake LOVES doing a giveaways! So, she has agreed to send one of my readers in the United States a free copy of her new book, “Modern Witchcraft”! As usual, I’m using Rafflecopter. The giveaway is open until 07/12/2020 11:59 pm eastern.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shop your local indie bookstore <---This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet

Medusa is My Homegirl

When you’re young in school studying mythology the only thing you learn about Medusa is that she was a monster whose gaze would turn living things to stone that Perseus killed for, reasons. And then Perseus chops off Medusa’s head and uses it as a weapon. At least that is as involved as it got when I went to school. However, there is more to Medusa than that. A complex background that I feel makes Medusa more of a martyr than a monster.

Medusa was once a mortal woman. In one story, Medusa was a beautiful woman that the goddess Minerva feared was more attractive than she. To assure her status, Minerva turned her into a creature with hissing snakes for hair. Once Perseus was done with Medusa’s head, he gave it to Minerva who put it on her shield. In an even more messed up version, the beautiful Medusa was raped by Poseidon in a temple dedicated to Athena. This so enraged Athena that she turned Medusa into the snake-haired monster whose gaze turned living things to stone. No matter which way you slice it, Medusa was a victim.

Eventually, we get to Perseus, the guy who slew Medusa. King Polydectes sends Perseus to retrieve the head of Medusa because the King wants to marry Perseus’s mother, which is some royal logic I don’t understand. Some versions mention Medusa laying waste to the country. A country that branded her a monster because she was punished for being attractive and a victim of rape. In case all of this isn’t messed up enough for you, some of these stories say Medusa was pregnant with Poseidon’s child when she was killed. It’s all good though, because Medusa’s blood produced the Pegasus, a mythological creature I can never look at the same with this knowledge.

I hope this has caused you to reconsider Medusa’s place within the divine feminine. If you don’t want to include her in your divine pantheon, I do hope you will at least no longer consider her a monster.

If this article moved you, I encourage you to check out my “Medusa is my Homegirl” line of merchandise! You can find it all here.

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The Midnight Gospel

If you know me, or follow me on social media, you know that I am a lady that loves herself some “Adventure Time”. What is there not to love? A cast of loveable characters, having quirky adventures, and underneath the humor, topics like love, loss, friendship, family, and the nature of evil are examined. So, obviously when I heard the creator of “Adventure Time”, Pendleton Ward, had a new animated series for adults coming to Netflix, I was all in.

I knew nothing about the series, “The Midnight Gospel”, before I watched it, other than it was animated and Pendleton Ward was a part of it. This show did not just meet expectations, it blew any expectations right out of the water. Buckle up, it’s an amazing ride!

What is “The Midnight Gospel”? A question more easily asked than answered. It follows spacecaster Clancy, as he drops into various alternative Earth simulations via an illegal multiverse simulator, to interview beings he finds. It turns out the show is based off Duncan Trussell’s podcast “Duncan Trussell Family Hour”. Ward is a fan of the podcast and thought of the idea of animating it. What happens when you smoosh Ward and Trussell together? A mind blowing, psyche changing, legitimately magical experience.

Trussell interviews a who’s who of people Buffet readers know, or should know: Caitlin Doughty, Ram Dass, Damien Echols, Anne Lamott, and more. They discuss topics such as magic, forgiveness, death, drugs, and yes, more. Every episode is magic, but it is hard to deny the power of the episode “Mouse of Silver”, that features an interview Trussell did with his mother, Deneen Fendig, as she was dying of cancer. All of this is paired with Ward’s dreamy, psychedelic art that is so rich with symbolism that you’ll want to watch it again and again.

I know all of this may sound like a downer, but to the contrary, it is seeded with humor and overall, a life affirming experience. I am definitely not an expert on magical media, so this is just my personal, limited experience, opinion. “The Midnight Gospel” is one of the most magical, and magickal, things you can view on a television screen. Watch it now. Then watch is again.

“The Midnight Gospel” is available on Netflix.

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Green Egg – Laid Again!

Yesterday I received an exciting press release I thought I should share with you.

GREEN EGG, the Church of All Worlds’ legendary journal of the Pagan community, has returned from hiatus as a seasonal quarterly in digital format. The longest-running and most highly-awarded Pagan publication of all time, the current issue (Spring 2020) is the 171st since the magazine was founded by Oberon Zell at Spring Equinox of 1968.

With articles, art, photos, essays, fiction, poetry and letters, Green Egg is a global record of the ever-growing Pagan religious and spiritual world.

Paganism, with its Nature-centered and deeply loving ethos, is one of the fastest-emerging religious movements of this century, and is poised to increase in influence as humanity faces the global challenges of environmental degradation, climate change and human evolution.

Founded in 1962 and incorporated in 1968, Church of All Worlds, the first and oldest legally-recognized Pagan Church, represents a unique form of Paganism: originally inspired by a science fiction novel, futuristic in Vision, and headed by a renowned practicing Wizard, Oberon Zell.

The next issue of GREEN EGG is Summer 2020 and we welcome contributions!

https://greeneggmagazine.com/

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