Book Reviews

This is a collection of book reviews from works that I have read over the years. There is an “illuminations rating system” in place where the more illuminations above the title the more I recommend the product. I may eventually start reviewing products other than books. In most cases if you click on the book’s picture it will link you to the associated page on .

Rating System:

: Do NOT buy this book. Buying this book would be supporting an author and publisher that really shoulndn’t be in business.
: Not a great resource but may prove to be of some value to some people at some point in history.
: A good resource for the subject at hand and if you have the spare cash and the time to read it you should consider investing in it.
: A good resource that is well worth the money and study and a good addition to any occult library (or whatever the subject at hand is).
: A must-have for any occult library. Any book with this rating will probably expand your understanding of the subject matter by leaps and bounds.


Occult – Pagan, Druid & Other


Covencraft: Witchcraft for Three or More
Author: Amber, K
ISBN: 1567180183


Synopsis: Written specifically for starting witchcraft covens, it’s insight can also apply to starting just about any organized group of folks sharing a spiritual path. It takes you through just about everything the leader of these groups would need to think about before, during and after forming up. It spends a good deal of time on how to identify the right people for your group, how to deal with mundane issues like using someone’s home as a temple or how to get a separate temple area and ideas for dealing with the inevitable financial issues associated with any group. It even gets into fun activities that the group could get together and participate in. It’s a must-read for anyone planning on starting his or her own church / coven / grove.


Druid Magic: The Practice of Celtic Wisdom
Author: Maya Bagee Sutton & Nicholas Mann
ISBN: 1-56718-481-2


Synopsis: I simply cannot recommend this book more highly for anyone even remotely interested in what druidry is today. It’s an in-depth look at the mythological history of the druids from the perspective of modern druidry today.

The Celts
Author: Gerhard Herm
ISBN: 1-56619-218-8
Synopsis: This is quite possibly the most comprehensive book on celtic history I have ever read. The style of the book is a little dry but it has a great amount of detail and is told from the perspective of the celts in general. It’s intended as a history, and not a story and it serves this purpose quite well.


Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs
Author: Scott Cunningham
ISBN: 0875421229


Synopsis: An OUTSTANDING resource for metaphysical herbal uses. This is a great wealth of knowledge from a metaphysical standpoint however, it contains little medicinal knowledge. A must-have for any serious practitioner of the arts that wants to use herbs in the craft.

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic
Author: Scott Cunningham
ISBN: 0875421261

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Synopsis: This is pretty much the same as Cunningham’s herbal guide except it obviously focuses on crystals, gems and metals. Again, it’s a must-have if you’re interested in working with these materials in the craft.


A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year
Author: Ellen Evert Hopeman
ISBN: 0-89281-501-9

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Synopsis: This is one of the best herbal resources from the druid perspective out on the market today. You get a good dose of good old fashioned herbal knowledge along with some celtic and druidic tradition and some metaphysical stuff to boot. This is great for beginners and will have some new information for even advanced herbalists. Between this book and The New Age Herbalist listed below I seldom have need for any other resources. Every pagan should have this in their library!


Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today
Author: Margot Adler
ISBN: 014019536X

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Synopsis: This is an exquisite look at the pagan community and one of the mostly highly rated books of it’s kind that I know of. It’s literally a standard by which most pagans should learn about paganism in general; it’s quite comprehensive. I read this book when I was 15 and, though I have always been significantly intellectually advanced for my years, I had a very difficult time keeping up with the massive vocabulary. This book is defiantly written on an academic level but I believe if you can wade through the writing style it will greatly enrich your understanding of the pagan community by leaps and bounds. It’s also a bit dated. There are more up-to-date examples on the market.


The Book of Druidry
Author: Ross Nichols, John Matthews (Editor), Philip Carr-Gomm (Editor)
ISBN: 1855381672

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Synopsis: This book has specific ties with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I found this work educational but very dry. Some of the content was difficult to wrap my mind around and I’m well versed in much of druidic, general pagan and metaphysical philosophy. That being said, it’s not much of a philosophical read as I expected it to be. It’s much more about the roots of the rebirth of druidry around the turn of the 19th century. If you have a taste for dry history and aren’t looking for something deeply philosophical this might be beneficial to you. It’s always good to study your roots before you move on. It was simply not what I expected by the recommendations I had received and the summary on the cover. Good but not great.


The Healer’s Manual: A Beginner’s Guide to Vibrational Therapies
Author: Ted Andrews
ISBN: 0875420079

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Synopsis:Good stuff, basic to intermediate level healing techniques. The author does a great job of explaining (and proving) somewhat complex ideas related to hands-on vibrational healing. I’ve been involved with this field of study for a few years and I still learned a few things.


The Healer’s Handbook: A Journey into Hyperspace
Author: Stewart Swerdlow, Peter Moon
ISBN: 0963188992

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Synopsis: The author has some very interesting and in my experience right-on descriptions of complex metaphysical concepts but these are few and far between. The vast majority of this book is a collection of “mystic” hyperspace symbols. While this might be appealing to some folks I don’t get into this sort of thing.


Witta: An Irish Pagan Tradition
Author: Edain McCoy
ISBN: 0875427324


Synopsis:Now, I enjoyed this book immensely though it is, in my opinion, quite feminist. I always strive for a balance and this appears to be a bit out of balance but if that’s your thing you may dig this book. It has a good narrative style with lots of things like recipes, songs and interesting bits of history scattered among the pages. I have heard some reports that “Witta” never really existed and the whole premise of the book is fabricated but that is unsubstantiated from what little I know. The book proposes that Witta was the ancient form or Wicca which is a total fabrication. Wicca isn’t even entirely Celtic much less as old as this book suggests. One of the outstanding authors on the topic of Wicca admits that it’s not much older than 50 years.


The 21 Lessons of Merlyn: A Study in Druid Magic and Lore
Author: Douglas Monroe
ISBN: 0875424961


Synopsis: This is actually the book that started me on the path to Druidry. There are core concepts presented in this book that are dridic to the bone and those ideas truly spoke to me. However, the author makes an effort to present this book as historical fact when it is purely a work of fiction. The materials in this book cite other materials as reference when the other materials have been proven as forgeries. The author also has a very unbalanced view of male/female relations which I find very disturbing. This book is required reading in my group but we also discuss it extensively to weed out the good from the bad. An excellent site to review in conjunction with this work would be Ellen Evert Hopman’s retort to the author. Lady Hopman is highly respected not only by myself but by much of the druidic community in general. She does a great job of tearing down the fiction from the truth in this work. This book is considered to be “romantic” druidry, that is based loosely upon facts about historical druids and more upon how the author thinks things should be. That’s an acceptable stance so long as the author states his work is not factual, this one fails to do that and presents himself as “the” authority.


The New Age Herbalist: How to Use Herbs for Healing, Nutrition, Body Care, and Relaxation
Author: Richard Mabey, Michael McIntyre
ISBN: 068481577X

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Synopsis: If you’re into herbalism in the least this book is absolutely and totally essential. It has full-color photographs of most of the major herbs in both their natural and harvested (dried/powdered) states. It also lists a wealth of information on each herb from it’s Latin name, common names, basic plant and chemical characteristics, homeopathic uses and quite a bit more. There are priceless reference charts in the back of the book with outstanding information about herb harvesting and cultivation in other sections. It’s a bit pricey but it’s full-color and WELL worth it. I NEVER loan my copy out. It’s that valuable to me.


Principles of Dowsing
Author: Dennis Wheatley
AISN: 0722540299

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Synopsis: This is one of the best books on dowsing I’ve read. The author gives you the theory and the practice side of things and covers all the basic dowsing tools and techniques. It’s a short read but that doesn’t mean it’s short of information. It’s not as complete or thorough as I would have liked in some areas but it’s a GREAT book on the basic principles involved. To pick up where this book leaves off on geopathic and earth energy dowsing try the Healing Sick Houses book listed below. It’s the perfect compliment.


Protected by the Light: The Complete Book of Psychic Self Defense; 2nd Edition
Author: Dr. Bruce Goldberg
AISN: 1587360047

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Synopsis: Not a bad book but out of print. I expected a bit more but I admit my expectations were a bit high given that the author is a psychologist. If you’re very new to psychic protection you might get some benefit but you’re probably better off with another psychic shielding book. That being said, there were a few good points and perspectives and the book uses actual case-histories to make it’s point which I always find interesting. If you find a cheap copy somewhere and you have the cash handy it might not be a bad read but don’t lose any sleep over it.


Healing Sick Houses: Dowsing for Healthy Homes
Author: Roy and Ann Proctor
ISBN: 0717129926

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Synopsis: This is my first serious book on dowsing and dealing with geopathic issues. Roy and Ann were trained by one the great healers and pioneers of geopathic work Bruce MacMahannan. Their book is well written and gives lots of real stories of their clients (I always love true-life examples) and basic techniques for dowsing for geopathic phenomenon. They also cover to a good degree the basic theories and concepts involved in geopathism in general. There are some great tips on dowsing with maps and some good lessons learned. If you’re interested in learning more about geopathism, especially if you would like to learn to dowse for it and get an idea of how to heal it check this book out. It’s been very influential in my work.



Occult – Ghosts, Hauntings & Investigations


An Exorcist Tells His Story
Author: Galoriele Amorth
ISBN: 0-89870-710-2

Rating: Not Yet Rated

Synopsis: I’m currently reading this book. Looks to be quite interesting but I have yet to get into the meat of the matter.


The Black Hope Horror:
The True Story of a Haunting
Author: Ben Williams, Jean Williams, John Bruce Shoemaker
ASIN: 0425139107
Synopsis: The fine line between documentary and dream is almost eradicated in this “true” haunted-house tale set in the Deep South. Ben and Jean Williams have “uneasy feelings” about their new Texas home the moment they discover ants invading their dishwasher. Soon, their toilets self-flush, knickknacks dance, “freakish storms” hover over them, flocks of crows attack, pet cats and gerbils go mad, and friends and relatives are stricken with fatal diseases. In relating their ordeal with “ghostly forms,” the Williamses get help from free-lancer Shoemaker, whose matter-of- fact, third-person narrative is so clinical and terse it sounds downright funny, if not apocryphal. The most effective concession to “reality” occurs when Ben and Jean attempt to sue their realtors for “Abuse of Corpse” after they discover that their house was built on a graveyard for black slaves whose angry spirits have apparently raised hell. However, the Williams family is in a “legal Catch-22” since they can’t prove the graves exist unless they break the law and dig them up. The fact that the book is being pitched as following “the tradition of The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist” demonstrates how effective such “real” accounts can be when they imitate art. (Synopsis from Site)


Grave’s End
Author: Elaine Mercado , Hans Holzer (Foreword)
ISBN: 0738700037

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Synopsis: A fascinating and compelling true story written in the first person by a registered nurse about a true haunting with a home her family purchased. This is on-par but not quite as good as Black Hope Horror. Given my experience in the field I can testify that the events covered in this book are very typical of true hauntings. One of the better haunting story books out on the market.


Hunting the Dead
Author: Brian K Roesch
ISBN: 0595193102


Synopsis: The only reason this isn’t a 0 is because I laughed my ass off while reading it. I’ve never seen such rubbish in print in my life. I hope this guy wrote the book as a joke. It seems like he’s taking himself seriously though. It’s written on a sixth-grade level if not lower and the advice consists of “if someone bothers you while ghost hunting just be rude and offensive.” It’s absolute dribble, especially for serious ghost hunters / parapsychologist.


Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits
Author: This is a compiled reference
ISBN: 0-8160-4086-9

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Synopsis: I have owned this book for several years. It’s an OUTSTANDING resource and any serious ghost hunter or paranormal investigator should have one


The Paranormal Investigator’s Handbook
Author: Val Hope (Editor), Maurice Townsend (Editor), Valerie Hope (Editor)
ASIN: 1855857030


Synopsis: I’ve been doing paranormal investigation for a few years now and have definitely taken my skills beyond the average novice ghost hunter or “paranormal investigator”. I have read MORE than my fair share of books on the subject and am the primary co-author on my group’s own investigation procedure handbook. I can safely tell you that this is book is absolute rubbish. I’ve never EVER seen anything advertised this well that’s gotten such rave reviews by others that turned out to be such utter nonsense. It will in no way prove to be of any use to you aside from the small bits of paranormal trivia listed in the sidebars of the text. Don’t waste your money. Do NOT encourage these people by sending them your money! Look at Troy Tailor’s Ghost Hunter’s Guidebook for something that the novice investigator can really get some useful information from.


The Ghost Hunter’s Guidebook
Author: Troy A. Taylor
ISBN: 1892523043

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Synopsis: This is an outstanding general-purpose ghost-hunting guide. It covers all the basics from procedures to equipment and it’s general use. It’s by no means a compete guide but it will certainly jump your novice-level ghost hunting experience up a few notices. It’s required reading in the paranormal investigation group I run.


Ghosts, Spirits and Hauntings
Author: Patricia Telesco
ISBN: 0895948710


Synopsis: I have to honestly say that this is a quaint little book that’s basically a compiled list of one lady’s experiences with ghosts. It’s entertaining at times but I honestly expected much more. Overall I was pretty dissatisfied. If you get it as a gift then consider reading it but I’m not sure I would drop my own money on this title.


The Field Guide to North American Hauntings: Everything You Need to Know About Encountering over 100 Ghosts, Phantoms, and Spectral Entities
Author: W. Haden Blackman
ISBN: 0609800213

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Synopsis: This isn’t a bad book at all. It’s got a lot of general information and legends on a lot of different hauntings throughout North America. There are some interesting photographs as well. I would have liked a bit more detail in a lot of the listings but considering the scope of the project I think the author did quite well. I would consider this more appropriate for someone who doesn’t want the serious info on hauntings, they just want the general idea and the basic story/legend.


The Art of Investigative Interviewing:
A Human Approach to Testimonial Evidence
Author: Charles L. Yeschke
ISBN: 075069808X

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Synopsis: If you are interested in conducting serious and professional investigative interviews this is one of the first books you should pick up. It talks about numerous interviewing techniques on how to extract vital information from the person your interviewing without asking “leading questions”. I got over 5 pages of notes out of the first few chapters alone.


Professional Hypnotism Manual: Introducing Physical and Emotional Suggestibility and Sexuality
Author: John G. Kappas
ISBN: 0937671533

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Synopsis: An outstanding reference for novice and professional hypnotists alike. This book has the most up-to-date techniques on hypnosis and includes several methods of induction and some very practical scripts for conducting hypnotherapy sessions ranging from weight-loss to stopping smoking to dealing phobias and traumatic experiences. It even covers getting individuals to recall blocked memories or increasing the level of detail recalled in memories. This is written from a very professional clinical perspective. Several tests and evaluations are also given to test what type of hypnosis your subject is most susceptible to.

Aikido, Martial Arts & Zen


Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere: An Illustrated Introduction
Author: Adele Westbrook, Oscar Ratti
ISBN: 0804832846

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Synopsis: I have this book in my personal library. If you’re new to the art of aikido or just curious about it this is a great book for you. The authors use a simple style to convey their depth of knowledge in the form of words and exquisite illustrations as well. Even the experienced aikidoka will likely find this book useful and informative.


Aikido and the Harmony of Nature
Author: Mitsugi Saotome
ISBN: 0877738556

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Synopsis: This was one of the first books I purchased when I began my journey of study into this art. I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend it. Saotome is one of the few individuals who actually studied with O-Sensei. He details several accounts of working with the founder both in and out of the dojo. He also gives a unique spiritual interpretation of many of the major techniques used in the art and references forces in nature and the universe for comparison. Well written and well founded. A must-read for any serious aikidoka.


Complete Aikido : Aikido Kyohan : The Definitive Guide to the Way of Harmony (Tuttle Martial Arts)
Author: Roy Suenaka, Christopher Watson (Contributor)
ISBN: 0804831408

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Synopsis: This is another great work. Sensei Roy Suenaka gives a no-nonsense narrative of his history with aikido as well as basic technique and training tips. There is also reference to Seunaka’s friendship with one of the founders of the Shorin Ryu style of karate and Suenaka’s experiences with Sensei Saotome. Great history, Great technique advice and overall entertaining reading.


Brewing and Mead Making


Mad About Mead : Nectar of the Gods
Author: Pamela Spence
ISBN: 1567186831

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Synopsis: This book has been described as a “Frothy Pagan Rant” and that’s really about on the mark but if you’re into that sort of thing it’s probably right up your alley. The author is a pagan and a bee keeper so she knows the practical business of making mead right out of the comb. She’s also a bit easier to understand than other authors. She includes sample rituals as well as many recipes (including one for pumpkin) and goes a bit into the legal aspects of home brewing. A good book for pagans that want a well-rounded education when it comes to mead. Non-pagans might find it a bit over the top though. Hell, I’m a druid and I think she needs to take a chill pill too.


Making Wild Wines & Meads: 125 Unusual Recipes Using Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & More
Author: Pattie Vargas , Rich Gulling
ISBN: 1580171826

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Synopsis: Very Very little in this boon on the how-to of wine making but if you’re an experienced wine maker and you’re looking for a recipe book for mead and wine this is the one to get. Tons of stuff.


Making Mead Honey Wine: History, Recipes, Methods and Equipment
Roger A. Morse , Mary A. Scott (Illustrator)
ISBN: 1878075047
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This one is for a serious beginner to intermediate brewer. The author is a professional mead and wine judge with a wealth of experience and a few tricks that surprised me especially for the small size of the book.


Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation
Author: Stephen Harrod Buhner

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Synopsis: Outstanding book. Plenty of recipes and history and actual medicinal uses for brewing. This is a good bridge between herbalism and brewing. It puts both disciplines in a different light.


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