Traditional Brazilian Black Magic

Let’s give a round of applause to Destiny Books (an imprint of Inner Traditions) for shepherding Diego De Oxóssi’s book, “Traditional Brazilian Black Magic: The Secrets of the Kimbanda Magicians” to the American marketplace. I obviously don’t know every book that has ever been published, but it seems like Africa meets Brazil isn’t too prevalent.

De Oxóssi offers a history of Kimbanda that starts in the 17th century with the arrival of African slaves that were brought to Brazil up to modern times. Already having minimal knowledge of African magical practices and none of Brazil’s, Kimbanda was a fascinating first look at the spiritual and magical practices. Kimbanda encourages working with deities and embracing the dualistic nature of life. Light and dark, virtue and vice, male and female, etc. It is a rich tradition featuring seven realms with nine dominions, each with their own entities that reside within them and govern them. What I found of particular interest is that there is a branch of Kimbanda that is a synthesis of Western high magic and Luciferian traditions. This came about from the association of Goetian daemons with Kimbanda’s Eshus. It feels like a unique evolution.

“Traditional Brazilian Black Magic” by Diego De Oxóssi packs quite a punch in its slender 100ish pages. I picked it up expecting a quick read and instead found myself slowly reviewing each section due to the volume of information packed into each page. Not only is the book a great read if you’re interested in learning about this practice, but it will make a fantastic re-read when inevitably you’re pulled back in to learn more.

You can learn more here.

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The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching

Translations matter. Anyone with even a passing interest in the Bible could tell you this. My husband loves to drive this point home by saying he learned to read Greek just so he could read older versions of the Bible to then use to argue against judgmental Christians. The fact is most ancient texts have been interpreted and reinterpreted again and again by men. These were the kinds of thoughts that were going through Rosemarie Anderson’s mind when she decided to translate the Tao Te Ching, using the oldest version of the text she could find.

The Tao Te Ching is a classic Chinese text that has influenced Chinese philosophy and religion into modern times. It has been translated many times. I happen to own 3 different translations. Out of the three I own, “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” by Rosemarie Anderson is my favorite.

In her introduction, Anderson shares her journey that culminated with her sitting down and doing her own translation of the Tao Te Ching. She shares her genuine surprise at how overtly feminine the Tao was in her translation. After reading “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” I reached for my other two copies of the Tao, one from 2008 translated by James Legge and the other from 1993 that was translated by Man-Ho Kwok, Martin Palmer, and Jay Ramsay. And whoa yeah, there are many differences between the three texts. In the divine feminine defense of the other two, they both did translate some phrases in a more feminine way, but none to the extent of Anderson’s translation.

However, it’s not just the overtly feminine translation that makes “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” my favorite. Anderson’s presentation of the text is more poetic and lyrical than the others I read. It flows better when being read, and I suspect sounds wonderful read aloud. It lends itself nicely to being read repeatedly, and the Tao Te Ching is a text that is meant to be repeatedly read and reflected on.

All of this is to say, “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” by Rosemarie Anderson will be my definitive translation of the Tao going forward.

You can learn more here.

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Superstitions in the United States

Everyone has some superstitions. Depending on the culture you or your family grew up with, where you live in the world, spiritual beliefs, etc., they can vary greatly. So, when an odd press release came into my inbox regarding superstitions in the United States, my interest was piqued.

Turns out a clever publicist for the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino put together a little report about superstitions in every U.S. state as a tie in for St. Patrick’s Day. Sadly, my email filter shunted it to a spam folder, so by the time I discovered it, St. Patrick’s Day had passed. On the other hand, as I explained to the publicist, my readers would have an interest in this subject matter regardless of time of year. You are interested, aren’t you?

Yeah, you are. And although this is hardly scientific and certainly doesn’t cover all the superstitions out there (but does cover a lot), it is still an interesting read. According to their report, their methodology was:

Using the Google AdWords platform, we analyzed search volume trends for more than 200 terms related to superstitions associated with both good luck and bad luck. The results represent the most disproportionately popular terms in every state. In February 2021, we also surveyed 1,016 Americans between the age of 18 – 75 to ask them about their belief in superstitions. 60% were female and 40% were male and the average age of respondents was 38.

A brief overview of what they learned was the most popular superstitions in America are: throwing salt over your shoulder, bad luck comes in threes, lucky rabbit’s foot, Friday the 13th, and ladybugs being a sign of good luck. 65% of Americans are superstitious. 83% believe in good luck, 50% believe in bad luck. 37% of Americans believe Friday the 13th brings bad luck. 34% of Americans believe St. Patrick’s Day is a luck day. Nearly double that amount (60%) say they wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

You can see the full report here.


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Dark Goddess Tarot

In a spiritual practice that at best could be described as “hodge podge”, one of the only cohesive aspects is my adoration of the divine feminine. I’m particularly drawn to goddesses that are misunderstood or viewed as negative. Enter “Dark Goddess Tarot” by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, a deck that feels custom made for me.

From the introduction, “Dark goddesses are disturbing, fearsome, and beautiful. They can be shunned or overlooked, as they represent aspects of life that people find uncomfortable – sometimes only when those powers are in female hands. Powers of age and death, sex and sovereignty, ferocity and judgement. Of magic, mystery, and transformation. Of suffering and shadow.”

Lorenzi-Prince takes a female forward approach to the traditional 78 card tarot deck. A goddess or mythical female figure is featured on every card, including the minor arcana. Although the suits are changed to fire, water, air, and earth, with the court cards changing from page, knight, queen, and king into amazon, siren, witch, and hag respectively.

“Dark Goddess Tarot” first released in 2013, several years before inclusivity had become not just an idea, but a necessity in the spiritual space. Considering that, Lorenzi-Prince has done an excellent job representing multiple cultures in a respectful fashion. I’ll resist the urge to share every female from the deck, but there’s Kali, Isis, Ishtar, Baba Yaga, Santa Muerte, Tlazolieotl, Spider Woman, Tsonokwa, Baubo, and so many more. The artwork for the deck is noteworthy too, with Lorenzi-Prince not only creating the deck, but creating all the art for it too!

“Dark Goddess Tarot” by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince is an excellent exploration of the divine feminine. A noteworthy addition to any tarot collection.

You can learn more here.

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Witch Hunt

Several years ago, I featured the fantastic book “Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive” by Kristen J. Sollée on the site. I loved it so much, and frequently wondered if/when I would see the author’s work out in the world again. You can imagine how excited I was when flipping through the Weiser Books catalog and saw her name once again.

This time the book is “Witch Hunt: A Traveler’s Guide to the Power & Persecution of the Witch.” It is the perfect follow up to “Witches, Sluts, Feminists”. Where her first book followed much of the evolution of the persecuted female witch, her latest, “Witch Hunt”, Sollée literally travels that history. A personal memoir and travelogue, “Witch Hunt” shares the authors reflections and experiences in unexpected and widespread locales. Visit Italy and Vatican City, France, Germany, Ireland, England, and Scotland. In the United States you will learn more about America’s misadventures with witchcraft in Virginia, Delaware, Connecticut, New York, and of course, Salem, Massachusetts.

Sollée does everyone a huge favor by providing travel resources in the back of the book. Trust me, by the time you are done with “Witch Hunt” you are going to want to check them all out! “Witch Hunt” is a thoughtful exploration time and place, and the convergence of religion, spirituality, and gender.

You can learn more here.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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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