Icelandic Magic

Not too long ago I finished reading “Icelandic Magic: Practical Secrets of the Northern Grimoires” by Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D. and it was a truly fascinating work, a wonderful blend of scholarly and practical. (For those of you who consider working magic practical.) “Icelandic Magic” is divided into two books. The first part is history and basics of Icelandic magic and the second part is referred to as “Gray-Skin”, which is a reference to a famous magical book of semi-legend and in this case a book of magic in traditional Icelandic form.

The history of magic in Iceland is interesting as their magical and religious interactions with the influx of Christianity were more intermingling than in other regions. It makes their magical practice come across as a pragmatic, get the job done, kind of school. The first section also discusses lore and legends of Iceland’s magicians, which I loved! I adore reading about magic users and this was hands down my favorite part of the book for me. Before you get into the nitty gritty of the second half of the book, Flowers gives you a rundown of equipment you’ll probably want or need and the basic ritual format.

Then, if you’re ready, willing, and able you can venture forth with workings. These cover the categories: Wisdom, Power, Protection, Control, Prosperity, Love, Reception of Luck and Release of Blessings, and Sleep Magic. The groundwork laid down leading up to this point makes the workings easy to understand if not simple to master. You’ll also find useful appendices that include runes and magical letters, the names of Odin (hint, there are many), and the “Our Father” prayer in Latin.

“Icelandic Magic” is great for those interesting in learning about magical theories, history, and/or practice!

Icaros: A Vision

A film is making its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and I thought I’d give you the heads up because I thought some of you might find it interesting. The film is “Icaros: A Vision” and it’s directed by Leonor Caraballo and Matteo Norzi and stars Ana Cecilia Stieglitz, Filippo Timi, and Arturo Izquierdo. Here’s a synopsis:

Looking for a miracle, Angelina (Ana Cecilia Stieglitz) lands at a healing center in the Peruvian Amazon where shamans minister to a group of foreign psychonauts seeking transcendence, companionship, and the secrets of life and death. Her perceptions altered by the ancient psychedelic plant known as ayahuasca, she bonds with Arturo (Arturo Izquierdo), a young indigenous shaman who is losing his eyesight. In their hallucinogenic journeys together they attain a different sense of their destinies. She learns to accept her fears while Arturo, in turn, realizes that he will be able to see in the dark and sing his ceremonial healing songs, the icaros.

Icaros Poster
Icaros Poster

You can learn more at: http://www.icarosavision.com/

Glens Falls Brewfest 2016

Guess who is finally back? Granted, my ass is dragging and my head is aching, but that’s a whole other post. For now I’m back and I bring you beer! That’s right, I went to Glens Falls Brewfest 2016!

Let me tell you people, this little lady drank! There were a bunch of hard ciders represented and I don’t care what anyone says, hard ciders are great. Despite their wide representation at the event I overheard more than one attendee say, oh, they just do cider, and walk away from a booth. That’s just more cider for the rest of us! This worked out great for me because it meant lots of hard ciders and short lines. Hard cider drinkers of the world unite! I guess I should tell you what I drank, huh?

Champlain Orchards Cidery – Vermont Hard Cider – Heirloom: This was refreshing because it wasn’t overly sweet. According to their website their Heirloom “is pressed, fermented, and crafted from old and new world cider varieties.” I could see serving this to people who like hard ciders but also wine drinkers.

Elf’s Farm – which is maybe also the Adirondack Cider Company, it was all very confusing – the cider itself was…..cider. It was good. I’d gladly drink it again, but other than the cute name of Elf’s Farm, it wasn’t a superstar.

Downeast Cider House – Cranberry Blend: Seriously, just drink it. Drink lots of it. The tartness of the cranberry combined with the sweetness of apple combined with booziness is what makes life worth living.

1911 Spirits – Ciders – Founders’ Reserve Hopped: I noticed an alarming trend of adding hops to hard ciders while at Brewfest. I am not a fan of hoppy beers and so at first I was quite concerned seeing ciders, now with HOPS! However, the addition of hops to this cider added no bitter after taste and I found it to be a pleasantly sweet sip.

Naked Flock Hudson Valley Hard Cider – Draft: What made me pick this one was that it’s fermented with Belgian Trappist Ale yeast and used maple syrup. I wish I could say that I was all like, man I can really sense that Trappist Ale yeast, but honestly, it was just a tasty hard cider.

Awestruck Ciders – Lavender Hops: This bad boy wins for originality and taste. A great balance of sweet and dry. The scent of lavender is pervasive and I’m not sure what lavender tastes like, but I think this cider tastes faintly of it, and that it tastes good! It was so unusual it took a few sips for me to definitely decide I liked it, but once I did, I was telling everyone I saw to give it a try. Delicious!

Just as an aside, McKenzie’s Hard Cider and Doc’s Draft Hard Cider were both in attendance as well, but I’ve tried both of their ciders before so I skipped them. They both make some tasty and pretty widely available hard ciders.

And yes, I did have a couple of beers too.

Smuttynose Brewing Company – Amber (?): At the event my husband jotted down that what we tried was called Amber. It was pretty great. Very smooth and a touch sweet up front with an almost too bitter for me finish, but as I mentioned earlier, I’m a hops wimp. When I go to Smuttynose’s website I can’t find “Amber”, so who knows what I really drank?

21st Amendment Brewery – Toaster Pastry – India-Style Red Ale: How can you resist a brewery called 21st Amendment? You can’t. This was good. I wish I had something intelligent to add but all I’ve got was, it tasted good and I liked it.

This other one I found rather amusing. I work in an office, so when I see Avery, I automatically think office supplies. In fact, I and my friends were sipping our Smuttynose beers making fun of a brewery that would call themselves Avery. “I can’t do it,” I told them, “I can’t drink a beer with the same name as an office supply company.” But then I was like, “How can I NOT?”

Avery Brewing Company – Joe’s Pils: I’m not ashamed to say I like Pilsners and I’ll be damned if Avery doesn’t make a fine one. My friends had one of their stouts and were pleasantly surprised that the office supply company did a good job there too. And thus ended the office supply company jokes and instead we admitted we would just have to be content with enjoying their beer.

I also have to give a shout out to the awesome hometown heroes of Shmaltz Brewing Company. They were at the event as well but there were only two of their brews I really wanted to try, because I haven’t yet, Slingshot (American Craft Lager) and She’brew (Triple IPA) and they didn’t have those with them. But they’re a great bunch of guys so I wanted to give them a shout out!

If that wasn’t enough, there was food! Sadly demand was greater than what most vendors brought so by the time we got over there everyone had packed up except for The Queensbury Hotel, from which I tried some great corn chowder and a soft pretzel stick, and SUNY Adirondack Culinary, who provided a taste of suckling pig with a cauliflower puree. Delicious!

Glens Falls Brewfest 2016 was a great event and I had a lot of fun. I’ll probably be going next year.