Mad About the Place

Still fascinating us after all these years!

Ronald H. Fritze. Egyptomania: A History of  Fascination, Obsession and Fantasy. Reaktion Books, 2016

From the publishers website: The land of pyramids and sphinxes, pharaohs and goddesses, Egypt has been a source of awe and fascination from the time of the ancient Greeks to the twenty-first century. In Egyptomania, Ronald H. Fritze takes us on a historical journey to unearth the Egypt of the past, a place inhabited by strange gods, powerful magic, spell-binding hieroglyphs, and the uncanny, mummified remains of ancient people. Walking among monumental obelisks and through the dark corridors of long-sealed tombs, he reveals a long-standing fascination with an Egypt of incredible wonder and mystery.

As Fritze shows, Egypt has exerted a powerful force on our imagination. Medieval Christians considered it a holy land with many connections to biblical lore, while medieval Muslims were intrigued by its towering monuments, esoteric sciences, and hidden treasures. People of the Renaissance sought Hermes Trismegistus as the ancient originator of astrology, alchemy, and magic, and those of the Baroque pondered the ciphers of the hieroglyphs. Even the ever-practical Napoleon was enchanted by it, setting out in a costly campaign to walk in the footsteps of Alexander the Great through its valleys, by then considered the cradle of Western civilization. And of course the modern era is one still susceptible to the lure of undiscovered tombs and the curses of pharaohs cast on covetous archeologists.

Raising ancient Egyptian art and architecture into the light of succeeding history, Fritze offers a portrait of an ancient place and culture that has remained alive through millennia, influencing everything from religion to philosophy to literature to science to popular culture.


A Very English Magic

An interesting new perspective of the traditional occult tarot. I am keen to see how John Dee is treated in this incarnation. Philip Carr-Gomm is the author of 'The Book of English Magic'.

Rex Van Ryn, Steve Dooley, Andy Letcher, Philip Carr-Gomm (Foreword) The English Magic Tarot: Book and Cards Boxed Set. Red Wheel/Weiser (25 Sept. 2016)

This captivating new tarot deck draws us into the vibrant but often hidden world of English magic, evoking a golden age of mysticism when the likes of John Dee was Queen Elizabeth's Court Astrologer, antiquarian John Aubrey began to rediscover ancient sacred sites, and even the great physicist Isaac Newton study alchemy. During this time of upheaval archetypal forces were very much at play. The monarchs and mountebanks, visionaries and fools, knights and vagabonds that shaped the world are all there in the tarot too, making this a perfect setting for the cards.

Brought to you by renowned artist Rex Van Ryn, colourist Steve Dooley, and writer Andy Letcher, this deck has a dynamic, graphic style. The cards contain a depth and movement more associated with graphic novels than the tarot, and accordingly this new pack offers a captivating way to take charge of the stories we tell about our own lives. Early Modern English magic was built on foundations laid down by the ancient stone-circle builders, the Druids, the Romano-British and the Anglo-Saxons, and readers will see traces of these throughout the cards. There are unique twists to some of the traditional images, with riddles, references and lore buried within them that will draw users ever deeper into the mystery and meaning of the cards. The first deck of its kind to draw explicitly on the English magical tradition, The English Magic Tarot opens up a rich new pathway into the cards that will delight novice and experienced tarot users alike.


The Monsters Among Us

Linda Godrey is the author of the interesting book Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America, reviewed here: http://pelicanist.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/real-wolfmen.html

Linda S. Godfrey. Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena. Tarcherperigee (11 October 2016)

Linda S. Godfrey -- author of books reporting on creatures such as Bigfoot, gigantic birds, and strange energy forms -- began to seek answers to the question of where these creatures are actually from. The common thread that she discovered was the reportage of mysterious doorways leading to other worlds. Godfrey here offers a comprehensive look at the mystical, legendary, and scientific angles of these portals, providing a broad sampling of modern day encounters and experiences, interspersed with her own field research and interviews with eyewitnesses. Meticulously researched and expertly written, "Secret Portals" is a fascinating look into worlds unknown that will challenge the reader's idea of reality.


Secret, Wise and Cunning

Melusine Draco The Secret People: Parish-Pump Witchcraft, Wise-Women and Cunning Ways. Moon Books (September. 2016)

Much of what passes for 'witchcraft' today was everyday knowledge to our forebears, especially those who lived and worked in the countryside. Here were to be found practical household hints, remedies and family recipes that had been handed down from generation to generation, some still existing in the form of treasured journals and notebooks. There is, however, nothing fanciful or far-fetched about this information - in fact, The Secret People is a remembrance of times past and a preservation of 'parish-pump witchcraft, wise-women and cunning ways' adapted for use in the 21st century. It may also go a long way in helping those present-generation pagans in search of an identity and answer the questions: Who ...what am I?


Satanic Panic Revisited

An overview of a very disturbing episode and its consequences.

Kier-La Janisse, Paul Corupe. Satanic Panic. Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s. FAB Press (July 2016)

In the 1980s, it seemed impossible to escape Satan's supposed influence. Everywhere you turned, there were warnings about a widespread evil conspiracy to indoctrinate the vulnerable through the media they consumed. This percolating cultural hysteria, now known as the Satanic Panic, not only sought to convince us of devils lurking behind the dials of our TVs and radios and the hellfire that awaited on book and video store shelves, it also created its own fascinating cultural legacy of Satan-battling VHS tapes, audio cassettes and literature. Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s, offers an unprecedented and in-depth exploration of how a controversial culture war played out during the decade, from the publication of the memoir Michelle Remembers in 1980 to the end of the McMartin Satanic Ritual Abuse Trial in 1990.

Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s features new essays and interviews by 20 emerging and established writers who address the ways the widespread fear of a Satanic conspiracy was both illuminated and propagated through almost every pop culture pathway in the 1980s, from heavy metal music to Dungeons & Dragons role playing games, Christian comics, direct-to-VHS scare films, pulp paperbacks, Saturday morning cartoons, TV talk shows and even home computers. The book also features case studies on McMartin, Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth and Long Island acid king killer Ricky Kasso. From con artists to pranksters and moralists to martyrs, the book aims to capture the untold story of the how the Satanic Panic was fought on the pop culture frontlines and the serious consequences it had for many involved.


Seconds Out, Round One...

Rupert Sheldrake, Michael Shermer. Arguing Science: A Dialogue on the Future of Science and Spirit. Monkfish Book Publishing Company (16 Sept. 2016)

Two controversial authors debate the nature and methods of science, its dogmas, and its future. Rupert Sheldrake argues that science needs to free itself from materialist dogma while Michael Shermer contends that science, properly conceived, is a materialistic enterprise; for science to look beyond materialist explanations is to betray science and engage in superstition. Issues discussed include: materialism and its role in science, whether belief in God is compatible with a scientific perspective, and parapsychology. Michael Shermer is Editor-in-Chief of "Skeptic "magazine and the author of numerous books including "Skeptic." Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of ten books including his most recent, "Science Set Free," which challenges scientific dogma


Friars, Fairies and Flocks

Richard Firth Green. Elf Queens and Holy Friars, Fairy Beliefs and the Medieval Church. University of Pennsylvania Press. (September 2016)

From the publisher's websiteIn Elf Queens and Holy Friars Richard Firth Green investigates an important aspect of medieval culture that has been largely ignored by modern literary scholarship: the omnipresent belief in fairyland. Taking as his starting point the assumption that the major cultural gulf in the Middle Ages was less between the wealthy and the poor than between the learned and the lay, Green explores the church's systematic demonization of fairies and infernalization of fairyland. He argues that when medieval preachers inveighed against the demons that they portrayed as threatening their flocks, they were in reality often waging war against fairy beliefs. The recognition that medieval demonology, and indeed pastoral theology, were packed with coded references to popular lore opens up a whole new avenue for the investigation of medieval vernacular culture.

Elf Queens and Holy Friars offers a detailed account of the church's attempts to suppress or redirect belief in such things as fairy lovers, changelings, and alternative versions of the afterlife. That the church took these fairy beliefs so seriously suggests that they were ideologically loaded, and this fact makes a huge difference in the way we read medieval romance, the literary genre that treats them most explicitly. The war on fairy beliefs increased in intensity toward the end of the Middle Ages, becoming finally a significant factor in the witch-hunting of the Renaissance.