Another glowing review for Divining with Animal Guides

March 8, 2019

In the March 1 issues of PaganPages, Susan Rossi writes:

” I was delighted to discover that Divining with Animal Guides is not a cookbook dictionary, concretizing the “meanings” of animal encounters. Author Hearth Moon Rising has created a manual for learning to observe and discern and ultimately, to shift our strictly human viewpoint. Only when we look at the context in which the animals offer us their messages are we able to fully understand their invitations and gifts. “

Read the entire review here.

Review: The Book of Plots by Loren Niemi

January 25, 2019

I picked up this book at the library and read it to the end, which is unusual for me for a nonfiction book I borrow from the library. I decided to write a review because it seems I’m the first person to crack the book since it was purchased by the library ten years ago. And it’s a useful book for people interested in storytelling.

The Book of Plots identifies nine plot forms which the author argues encompass all stories. Some of these plot forms are unique to oral storytelling; others can be used in writing or cinema. I identified one form that has the potential to be exploited through the Internet; I may write a story for the net someday using this form.

Plot forms are illustrated through stories of the author’s life and through a re-telling of the fable “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Each form structure is conveyed clearly and I had no trouble understanding the author’s logic. The pitfalls of the various forms are laid out, as well as the benefits of consciously choosing the best form for a particular story.

The book could have done with a better copy editor. Typos, word omissions, and grammar errors of the type missed by editing programs detract from the text.

I would recommend this book to anyone, not just professional storytellers, because we all tell stories, and stories are integral to our lives. We all can benefit from learning to tell a better story.

Indie Shaman Review for Divining with Animal Guides

May 18, 2018

Thea Prothero writes: “The book is brimming with wisdom and exceptionally well researched; this in turn guides the would-be diviner to access the natural world form a uniquely well-grounded and refreshing perspective.”

Indie Shaman is always a recommended read. The theme of this issue of Indie Shaman is “Shamanic Lands: The Otherworld,” and there are many in-depth articles about the worlds of the ancestors, from a breadth of perspectives and modalities. I have an article in this issue titled “The Weasel Underground.”

Isian News Reviews Divining with Animal Guides

May 4, 2018

Cover photo from Beltane 2018 issue of Isian News. Lady Olivia Robertson by Ishtar Klaus.

Review of Divining with Animal Guides in the latest Isian News, a Fellowship of Isis quarterly news magazine. Linda Iles says

The author, Hearth Moon Rising, is very attuned to the natural world and brings a clarity and dignity to the animals she writes about, that only comes from many years of observation, magical practice and a deep love of all beings, whether four-footed, winged, swimming, crawling or slithering.

The review is on page 13. Also of interest in this issue are articles about the goddesses Hestia and Sedna and an article about ley lines.

An In-Depth Look at Germanic Lore

April 20, 2018

The Norsemen: Myths and Legends, by H.A. Guerber.
First published 1908. (This review is from the 1994 Senate edition.)

I recently finished a cover-to-cover read of this book, which I have perused often over the past ten years. It’s a summary of information (in English) contained in medieval texts on Germanic mythology, as well as some of the work of the Grimm brothers. First published in 1908, it has a lot to offer in terms of comprehensiveness, organization, and readability.

First the comprehensiveness. Norse mythology is all the rage now, but twenty-first century authors, in an attempt to focus the massive unwieldy material, weed out the minor extemporaneous aspects. As in, almost all the goddesses and women. They also highlight the more interesting and exciting aspects of the mythology. As in, the violence.

Don’t get me wrong: Norse mythology is patriarchal and violent. It was recorded by early Scandinavian Christian men seeking to glorify their Pagan heritage in ways acceptable to the Church. But apparently twenty-first century audiences need more violence and more male dominance, though the part about sexy Freya sleeping with all those dwarves manages to slip in. Hence there is a need for serious students, seekers, and practitioners to move beyond selective texts, which almost always highlight and enhance a male focus.

Archeology suggests Norse culture, though violent and patriarchal, was less violent and patriarchal than portrayed in early literature. Most Norsemen were fishermen or farmers, not full-time warriors, and women were the custodians of the religion. Shamanic power was expressed more through magic spinning than through magic spears. If selectivity is to be used at all in presenting the Norse legends, it seems that it should bring the women’s sphere into sharper focus.

Next the organization. The chapters are well conceived, and they are divided into many sections that have titles across the top of the page. The index is quite detailed. I imagine most people use this book as a reference rather than reading from page one.

As for readability, here is an excerpt:

These three sisters, whose names were Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld, were personifications of the past, present, and future*. Their principle occupations were to weave the web of fate; to sprinkle daily the sacred tree with water from the Urdar fountain, and to put fresh clay around its roots, that it might remain fresh and ever green.

Some authorities further state that the Norns kept watch over the golden apples which hung on the branches of the tree of life, experience and knowledge, allowing none but Idun to pick the fruit, which was that with which the gods renewed their youth.

The Norns also fed and tenderly cared for two swans which swam over the mirror-like surface of the Urdar fountain, and from this pair of birds all swans on earth are supposed to be descended. At times, it is said, the Norns clothed themselves with swam plumage to visit the earth, or sported like mermaids along the coast and in various lakes and rivers, appearing to mortals, from time to time, to foretell the future or give them sage advice.

*Some consider this characterization overly simplistic.

(The chapter on the Norns runs for six pages.)

Problems? Sometimes I disagree with Guerber’s interpretation of a myth or deity, and occasionally so does feminist scholarship. She conflates deities and myths among European cultures in a way that was fashionable a century ago but is frowned on now. The text is not footnoted, and reviewers on Goodreads and Amazon complaining of errors seem to be unaware that there are multiple, sometimes conflicting, sources for the material presented. Sometimes she is simply wrong, but not often, and the same could be said for any work of this scope. A hundred years later, The Norsemen still holds up well.

Review: Every Day Magic

November 10, 2017

Every Day Magic is a brand new perpetual Pagan calendar with short daily meditations, spells, and rituals. There are longer entries for the major holidays. There are many contributors, which adds variation to the material. There is an entry for every day of the year. In addition to adding to your knowledge base, this should be a good resource for sparking your own ideas for celebrations and rituals. I love these types of books and have several on my shelf. This looks like one that will probably be well thumbed.

Every Day Magic is written by Moon Books authors and edited by Lucya Starza.

Review: Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess

October 20, 2017

Through essays, poetry, art, and ritual, this anthology addresses the ways we acknowledge the yearly cycle. It is fascinating heartfelt tribute to the Goddess of the Year by women who dedicate their lives to her.

Helen Hye-Sook Hwang explains the Mago calendar in detail, exploring its history, numerology, practicality, and theoretical basis. It’s a way of marking time that works well for perennial calendars. There’s a lot of food for thought here, but I will defer an in-depth exploration for another time.

There are two essays about the Cailleach (the Goddess as Crone). Jude Lally explains the meaning of Cailleach on the British Isles and Judith Shaw relates her personal experience with this goddess. There is as much emphasis on place as on time in this collection. Harita Meenee discusses the symbolism of the pomegranate and its relationship to seasons and folk customs. Glenys Livingstone ponders the meaning for feminists of Mary as Christian Goddess. Sara Wright relates her pilgrimage to Georgia O’Keefe’s haunts in New Mexico. Anna Tzanova shares her spiritual journey with food through preparation of a Korean sweet rice dish called Yaksik, eaten at the beginning of the Korean new year. Mary Ann Beavis narrates a set of photographs she took of a wild polar bear family in the Arctic Circle. This is just a sampling of what is offered. I also have several contributions to the anthology.

This anthology spans such a wide range of religions, places, perspectives, and spiritual mediums that I am having a hard time characterizing it, but it does fit together well. Most of the articles are short, and it’s the type of book you don’t necessarily read sequentially. The artwork is fabulous. I was impressed with many of the the artists’ use of color, as color is such an expression of seasonal change.

Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess is your gift book for this holiday season. It will delight any woman who enjoys reading about the Goddess.

iPagan Anthology Out!

October 13, 2017

A huge anthology of fifty-nine articles on various Pagan topics became available this week from Moon Books. There are five sections, on Druidry, Shamanism, Witchcraft, Goddess Spirituality, and contemporary topics. I have two articles in this anthology: one on scorpions and another on the self-help movement. iPagan is offered only as an ebook at this time and the price is right: only $0.99. Available online at Amazon and other places.

More purchase information here.