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A review of Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore
You probably know before you crack this tome open whether it's for you or not: a painstakingly detailed and researched 400-page biography of one of the most controversial figures in comics history. However, whether you're a fan of the man's work or not, any scholar of comics history will find this book indispensable (I learned more about British comics as a whole reading this one book than I've encountered anywhere else, for one), and for an aspiring creator, here's a textbook with many cautionary tales to be learned from: most notably that if you want respect from your publishers, you'll ...
To me, having two female main characters—even those whose lives are circumscribed by their homes and families—would not have made the book any less deep or important. In fact, it might have had the opposite effect. Luckily for all of us, what is considered worthwhile literary subject matter is changing (albeit slowly), and a book dealing complexly with a young woman’s feelings about missing out on college, being in an abusive relationship, and giving up a child for adoption would no doubt garner more respect today than it would have in, say, Virginia Woolf’s time. Not getting that close-up view of Patty Ann’s decisions feels like a too-careful choice by the author, and a loss for the reader.

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Book Recommendations for Witches

I’m often asked to recommend books on various topics, and really, these requests are extended exercises in frustration for me. Any book I read will almost certainly contain something I disagree with, and I worry that recommending one will give the appearance that I support it wholeheartedly. Even if it is a treasured book of mine (such as something by Judika Illes), I’ll likely find some issue with it, and it’s often not worth the trouble to recommend something and then need to qualify it. 

Still, I get this request often enough that I thought I’d make a list of the books I’ve read that I believe to be worth reading for witches and generally useful. As I’ve said, I don’t 100% agree with everything written in any of these books, and a lot of judgment is necessary for any reader, but still, they’re worth a look, in my opinion. 

Another note: I’ve limited myself to listing books useful to those practicing witchcraft. I’ve listed a few Thelema and ritual magick books, but only those that I believe are most relevant. There are lists I could make of books on various other topics (divination, or a more in-depth one for ceremonial magick), but I recognize that my readership is largely witches, thus this is what I’m putting up. Do expect future lists on other topics, though.

Basic Techniques

Protection and Reversal Magick, by Jason Miller. This gets a little woo-woo at times, but he gives good advice on how to avoid serious problems that can come up as you begin to practice. Take with a grain of salt, though - some of this has the potential to make you feel paranoid.

City Magick, by Christopher Penczak. If you’re at all interested in tech witchery, or just want to practice magick within an urban setting, do check this out. It is by far the best look at the subject I’ve seen, and his discussion of urban tutelary spirits is worth the price alone.

Composing Magick, by Elizabeth Barrette. A very general, but well-done, look at writing in a magical context. Some of the ritual templates are slightly specific to religious witchcraft traditions, but most information is widely applicable.

Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink, by Susan Pesnecker. Focuses both on the physical act of writing as a magical act, and the mental state associated with it. Highly recommended

Power Spellcraft for Life, by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. Nicely done, quite secular book providing basic beginner information regarding writing original spells and workings. It does fall prey to the trap of just listing correspondences with little information at times, but also contains a great deal of detail about ritual timing, raising power, and other topics essential for the beginner.

Energy Essentials for Witches and Spellcasters, by Mya Om. Though I balk at the use of the term “energy” to describe magical forces, this book is worth a look. It’s a bit like a workbook, with various exercises. Expect a lot of pseudoscience, though, and there are many religious references, but the techniques are solid.

Components/Correspondences

The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook, by Karen Harrison. I cannot praise this book enough for its concise and well-formulated approach to astrology, herbs, and magick as a whole.

The Weiser Concise Guide to Herbal Magick, by Judith Hawkins-Tillirson. This is excellent for anyone who’s interested in any kind of magick. Yes, the focus is generally herbs, but there’s a lot to be learned here about Kabbalah and other correspondence systems, as well.

Mixing Essential Oils for Magic, by Sandra Kynes. Fills a very difficult gap in published knowledge regarding the use of essential oils by discussing, in great detail, how scents interact with each other and how to create a formula that’s not only palatable, but evocative.

Dunwich’s Guide to Gemstone Sorcery, by Gerina Dunwich. Given the New Age fascination with all things shiny, it was quite a chore to sort through the myriad crystal books to find something with good information. While far from perfect and not exactly devoid of fluff, this book does give a level of detail about the lore surrounding gemstones not seen in many other texts.

Real Alchemy, by Robert Allen Bartlett. Excellent book, lots of history and detail. There’s a strong focus on tradition within the text, yet the author is quite accommodating of his audience and describes alternate methods that work better in a modern context.

Spagyrics, by Manfred M. Junius. With a highly-developed academic tone and attention to detail, this book is a meaty look at traditional alchemy. I recommend this more for intermediate practitioners due to the sheer density of information.

Dictionary of Ancient Magic Words and Spells, by Claude Lecouteux. Mostly a historical text, this book isn’t exactly practical or terribly useful. It is, nevertheless, incredibly interesting. It’s a bit difficult to navigate, but worth a glance.

Spellbooks

The Goodly Spellbook, by Dixie Deerman and Steve Rasmussen. The title sounds horribly fluffy, but this is a hidden gem. It explains obscure concepts like alternative alphabets and potential uses of musical notes, as well as plant lore and other bits and pieces. Definitely worth checking out. It’s way more than just “a book of spells.”

Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells, by Judika Illes. The title sounds trite to some, but it delivers. This book has spells from almost every culture and spiritual philosophy, as well as a very detailed formulary. I read it when I’m bored sometimes, too, just because I always learn some tidbit from it.

Ceremonial, etc.

Modern Magick, by Donald Michael Kraig. I received this as a gift several years ago. It is essentially a workbook meant to be completed slowly, step by step, and while the format will not appeal to everyone, it’s a good easy-to-read introduction to ceremonial magick.

My Life With The Spirits, by Lon Milo DuQuette. This is a memoir of a ceremonial magician, but it gives a good look at the magickal mindset in a highly developed form from someone who’s experienced quite a lot. I have major issues with DuQuette’s approach to Qabalah, but his memoirs are worth a read.

Liber Null and Psychonaut, by Peter Carroll. Classic book of chaos magick. I consider it required reading for almost anyone interested in the occult. Even if you have no love for chaos magick, do give it a read, just to understand how influential Carroll is, and why.

Hands-On Chaos Magic, by Andrieh Vitimus. Knowing some of the people involved in the creation of this book, I’m a bit biased towards it. That said, even if I didn’t know them, I would still recommend it. It’s especially interesting to read alongside Liber Null and Psychonaut in order to see how the chaos “current” has developed over the years.

History-Related

Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, by Judika Illes. Even better than the Weiser Field Guide to Witches - this book is huge and chock-full of information. It’ll explain in easy-to-understand language how the concept has developed throughout time, why witches do what they do, and different types of witches.

The Weiser Field Guide to Witches, by Judika Illes. This gives an excellent look at the historical lore concerning witches, from the perspective of a witch herself. It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek, but it does have some information that won’t be found elsewhere.

Triumph of the Moon, by Ronald Hutton. An inside no-holds-barred look at the history of Wicca and Modern paganism. Highly recommended. This is sort of the book that fluffbunnies don’t want you to read.

Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult, by Richard Metzger. Lots of facts and history of magick in the context of Postmodernity. This is different from the Crowley text of the same name, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you want to focus on his tradition.

The Place of Enchantment, by Alex Owen. This is a purely historical text that documents the occult revival within the context of Modernity. I remember it being very good, but please realize I haven’t really picked it up much since graduating, and it might just have served my mindset at the time.

Master List of Lesbian & Bi Women Books Recommendations

Classics

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall (review)

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (review)

Orlando by Virginia Woolf (review)

Fiction:

Nevada by Imogen Binnie (review)

My Education by Susan Choi (review)

Missed Her by Ivan Coyote (review)

Drag King Dreams by Leslie Feinberg (review)

Just Girls by Rachel Gold (review)

Painting Their Portraits in Winter by Myriam Gurba (review)

When Fox is a Thousand by Larissa Lai (review)

The Collection edited by Tom Leger and Riley Macleod (review)

Lost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey (review)

Hero Worship by Rebekah Matthews (review)

Hymnal for Dirty Girls by Rebekah Matthews (review)

Lizzy & Annie by Casey Plett (review)

(You) Set Me On Fire by Mariko Tamaki (review)

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

Historical Fiction:

The Last Nude by Ellis Avery (review)

Miss Timmins’ School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy (review)

Prairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi (review)

Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

Poetry:

Sisterhood by Julie R. Enszer (review)

Bodymap by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (review)

When I Was Straight by Julie Marie Wade (review)

Young Adult:

Starting From Here by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (review)

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (review)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth (review)

Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole (review)

The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George (review)

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin (review)

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan (review)

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan

Under Threat by Robin Stevenson

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (review)

As I Descended by Robin Talley (review)

The House You Pass On the Way by Jacqueline Woodson (review)

SFF Young Adult:

Love In the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (review)

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (review)

All Good Children by Dayna Ingram (review)

Adaptation by Malinda Lo (review)

Inheritance by Malinda Lo (review)

Natural Selection (Adaptation 1.5) by Malinda Lo (review)

Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce (review)

Sci Fi:

Tierra Del Fuego, Colony Ship: Parting Shots by Caron Cro (review)

Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi (review)


Fantasy: 

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey (review)

The Narrows by m. craig (review)

Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica (review)

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older (review)

The Last Mango by Shira Glassman (review)

The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson (review)

Falling In Love With Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson (review)

Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks (review)

Hellebore & Rue edited by JoSelle Vanderhooft and Catherine Lundoff (review)

Horror/Zombies/Vampires:

Fist of the Spider Woman edited by Amber Dawn (review)

The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez (review)

Eat Your Heart Out by Dayna Ingram (review)

The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (review)

Daughters of Darkness: Lesbian Vampire Stories by Pam Kesey

The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan (review)

Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon (review)

Romance & Erotica:

The Long Way Home by Rachel Spangler (review)

Macho Sluts by Patrick Califia (review)

Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica edited by Sinclair Sexsmith (review)

Comics:

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (review)

Darlin’ It’s Betta Down Where It’s Wetta by Megan Rose Gedris (review)

100 Crushes by Elisha Lim (review)

On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin (review)

Revolutionary Girl Utena manga by Chiho Saito (review)

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters

Supermutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Jem and the Holograms by Kelly Thompson and Sophia Campbell

Charm School Book One: Magical Witch Girl Bunny by Elizabeth Watasin (review)

War of Streets and Houses by Sophie Yanow (review)

Memoirs/Biographies:

Two or Three Things I Know for Sure by Dorothy Allison (review)

The Family Tooth by Ellis Avery (review)

When We Were Outlaws by Jeanne Cordova (review)

Prairie Silence by Melanie Hoffert (review)

First Spring Grass Fire by Rae Spoon (review)

Gender Failure by Rae Spoon & Ivan E. Coyote (review)

Before the Rain: A Memoir of Love & Revolution by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa (review)

Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family and Identity by Candace Walsh (review)

Nonfiction:

Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme edited by Ivan Coyote and Zena Sharman (review)

Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire by Lisa M. Diamond (review)

Inseparable: Desire Between Women In Literature by Emma Donoghue (review)

Queers Dig Time Lords edited by Sigrid Ellis and Michael Damian Thomas (review)

Aimée & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943 by Erica Fischer

Kicked Out edited by Sassafras Lowrey (review)

The Whole Lesbian Sex Book by Felice Newman (review)

Dear John, I Love Jane edited by Candace Walsh and Laura Andre (review)

Why Do People Care About The Kindle Oasis?

To start off, I must say that I am incredibly surprised that Amazon even bothered to create another product after the spectacular failure (http://www.wired.com/2015/01/amazon-fire-phone-always-going-fail/) of the Amazon Fire phone. Nevertheless, they did; Amazon has managed to create yet another super expensive yet extremely booklike Kindle. The Kindle Oasis boasts to be the thinnest Kindle yet, but the design lacks finesse: Amazon created an asymmetrical Kindle with one side having a large lump, which holds the battery and functions as a handle. To add the option of having a smoother back, Amazon developed a case that slots into the Kindle (making it flat). According to Amazon, this case also extends the battery for eight weeks if it is used for thirty minutes a day. Amazon also added buttons to flip the pages, in addition to its touch screen. Now, these things all sound great, but Amazon stupidly decided to make the cheapest version of this new Kindle cost $289.99 with additional features such as the cover or 3G compatibility, bumping the price up to $379.99, drastically more expensive (and overpriced) than previous releases. All in all, it’s not a terrible product, maintaining its signature bookish feel. However, the ridiculously high price makes it a little hard to justify all the hype surrounding it, making the answer to why the hell people care about it, one of the unexplained mysteries of the universe.

-Austen

Ad Astra Per Aspera

Book Review: Journal 3

Ah, Journal 3. One of the biggest mysteries of Gravity Falls was who wrote the Journals. Now we all know who it was and with the show ending, the Journal has been brought to life and will be available 7/26/2016 wherever books are sold with a suggested retail price of $19.99. However, if you are attending SDCC this weekend, you have a chance to get the Journal a few days early. Lucky you!

The first thing you’ll notice is it’s size. This thing is hefty. Approximately 8" x 10" and 2 LBs, this is no cheap cash-in. Alex and the group at Disney had the right idea to put a dust jacket on the book containing all the things books need to sell, like UPC codes, company logos, reviews, etc. This dust jacket can be taken off and it reveals a pretty sweet poster on the back.

Once you take of the jacket, you see a beautifully untouched Journal. The gold accents are glossy so they shine in the light and the damaged areas are matte so you can feel the changes as you handle the book. Inside, the pages feel akin to parchment, unlike the Curse of the Time Pirates’ Treasure’s smooth pages. There’s also a gold ribbon to save your place in the book. It’s no monocle on a chain, but it works just fine.

The Journal starts with familiar pages like the June 18th passage followed by Flying Eyeballs, Gnomes, etc. The difference between what we’ve seen in the show and what we now hold in our hand, is that every passage is now legible. You can read about all these oddities in full. The pages seen in the show make up only a fraction of whats in this Journal and it doesn’t contain every page we’ve ever seen, specifically those seen in Journals 1 and 2. While one could dream this means the other two may eventually get a full release, it’s probably not likely. However, Alex and his crew filled this book with almost 300 pages full of information, with many of those pages created just for this book. This is a final loving tribute to the show and it definitely shows.

Reading through the book is like reading an actual journal. Time progresses linearly. Ford recounts his times in Gravity Falls, sometimes flashing back to his past, then continues up until the point where he buries the Journal. From here, Dipper takes over, with the occasional page by Mabel, and we get a full recount of their adventures in Gravity Falls. Almost every episode appears as an entry in chronological order. Once Ford reappears from the portal, it switches back to his perspective and his entries as he catalogs his return to our dimension before recounting his 30 year journey on the other side, Weirdmageddon, and it’s aftermath.

The book answers several questions fans may have (what happened to Blendin, why are the Journals still intact, who stole the capers, etc) and I’m sure will cause several more to be asked as people ponder over all the information within. On several pages, you’ll also notice some familiar symbols that have been decoded in the past as well as newer ones yet to be deciphered. Are you, and the internet, up to the challenge?

So to sum up. If you are a fan of Gravity Falls, this is an absolute no brainer. Just like Guide was a necessity during it’s release, this is the single most important item you could have as a fan. The lore inside, the attention to detal, and a reasonable price make it a must buy for every single person out there.

This is TheMysteryofGravityFalls, signing off.

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