Book Review: Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Brigid’s Day by Carl F. Neal

Book Review: Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Brigid’s Day by Carl F. Neal Review by Dawn Thomas 240 Pages Publisher: Llewellyn Publications Religion and Spirituality, Sabbats This is another installment of the Llewellyn Essential Sabbats series. The chapters are similar to previous books starting with a trip through the wheel of the year. This book is well written and easy to follow. The first chapter discusses the old ways and the author provides a history of the sabbat. Before reading this book, I did not know the differences between the terms Imbolc and Candlemas with the exception that Candlemas was the Christian version. Most books use the terms interchangeably. Imbolc is a time for new beginnings. Mr. Neal discusses the importance of sheep and their reproductive cycle. The ancient people knew spring was near when the ewes began producing milk. The rest of the chapter is dedicated to different cultures including Celtic, Roman, Native American, Egyptian, and Asian. The next chapter discusses new ways to celebrate Imbolc. The author explains how some Neopagans may feel disconnected with Imbolc because of geographical locations. This chapter describes how people honor Brigid by tending flames and wells in her honor. Mr. Neal…

Book Review Yule Rituals, Recipes and Lore for the Winter Solstice by Susan Pesznecker

Book Review Yule Rituals, Recipes and Lore for the Winter Solstice by Susan Pesznecker Review by Dawn Thomas 240 Pages Publisher: Llewellyn Publications Publication Date: October 8, 2015 Religion & Spirituality, Sabbat This book is the next installment of the Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials. In the first chapter, Old Ways, Ms. Pesznecker discusses how the winter solstice was observed in the past. I love her analogy of Mother Earth going quiet in the winter. She also discusses the importance of hibernation. The author also explains the difference between Yule and the Winter Solstice. The mythological cycles of Yule are included in this chapter with references to gods and goddesses associated with the season. The next chapter, New Ways, describes how different cultures observe the solstice. These include Japan, Mexico, Iran, and China. The customs of Pagans, Druids, Witches, and Heathens are also discussed. Mummering, Wassailing and burning a Yule log are a few activities covered in this chapter. The author details the symbols of Midwinter. She also discusses the benefits of having a live Yule tree. The chapter on spells and divinations discusses the importance of timing. The author gives a list of questions the reader should answer before undertaking any…

Book Review: Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween by Diana Rajchel

Book Review: Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween by Diana Rajchel Review by Dawn Thomas 264 Pages Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. Religion & Spirituality, Comparative Religion, Wicca & Witchcraft, This is the next installment of the Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials series. It is an excellent book on the Samhain season. The author does an excellent job researching and presenting information about the Sabbat. The first chapter covers the old ways. Samhain, pronounced SOW-in, is the last spoke in the wheel of the year. To most this signals the end of summer. Ancient Celts considered Samhain a fire festival. Fire festivals are also known as cross-quarter festivals. The author describes the Christian influence, how Halloween traveled to the new world, and the reassertion of Samhain with the rise of Paganism. The second chapter discusses the new ways the holiday is celebrated. The author discusses the modern themes and elements associated with Samhain. She debunks several Halloween stories including razor blades in apples. The author covers the different traditions within Paganism. The list includes Wicca, Celtic Reconstruction, Druidry, Stregheria, Heathen, Hellenic, Feri and Reclaiming traditions. She then explains other festivals celebrated around Samhain. These include All Soul’s Day, All Saints’ Day, Dia…

Book Review – Mabon: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Autumn Equinox by Diana Rajchel

Book Review – Mabon: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Autumn Equinox by Diana Rajchel Review by Dawn Thomas 240 Pages Llewellyn Publications Publication Date: July 1, 2015 This is another book in the Llewellyn Sabbat Essentials series. Mabon is another name for the Fall Equinox or Autumnal Equinox. It is one of four solar festivals divided throughout the year. This is a celebration of the second harvest. A point of balance where the day and the night are equal. The book has the following chapters. The chapter “Old Ways” discusses the history and lore of Mabon. The theme for Mabon is to celebrate harvest, sacrifice and survival. Astrology of the Fall Equinox is also included. The author explains how the Autumn Equinox got the name Mabon. There is a section about James Frazer’s research from The Golden Bough. The chapter “New Ways” explains how modern Pagans celebrate the sabbat. The author explains why not all Pagans celebrate Mabon, however many do participate with the largest celebration in the world: Pagan Pride. Different traditions have their own ways to honor the equinox. The modern Druids celebrate the equinox as Alban Elfed and Heathens celebrate Winter Finding. There is also a…

Book Review: Lughnasadh: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Lammas by Melanie Marquis

Book Review: Lughnasadh: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Lammas by Melanie Marquis Review by Dawn Thomas Pages 240 Llewellyn Publications Publication date: June 8, 2015 Religion and Spirituality This is another book in the Llewellyn Sabbats Essentials series. Like the other books in the series this one also covers topics related to the Sabbat. The author describes different feasts and celebrations for this time of year. The book begins with a recap of the wheel of the year and a short description of each Sabbat. The book ends with a list of correspondences for the Sabbat. The section Old Ways describes how people celebrated the holiday in different regions. Lughnasadh gets its name from the Celtic deity Lugh. It was a time for harvests, partnerships, fairs and games. In the New Ways section, the author reminds us of the difficulty associating the first harvest to our modern lives. She states that although many of us do not plant and harvest all of our food the food doesn’t magically appear. Someone must tend to the crops in order for us to buy them. She also includes ways modern pagans celebrate the season. In the section Spells and Divination, the author provides…

Book Review: Ostara by Kerri Connor

Book Review: Ostara by Kerri Connor Review by Dawn Thomas Publisher: Llewellyn Publications Release date: January 8, 2015 208 pages Sabbats This book is a part of the Sabbat Essentials and begins with a tour through the wheel of the year. The author also explains the difference hemispheres. The book is divided into six chapters. The first chapter is called Old Ways. She describes how the equinox is calculated. She also includes a timeline for the connection of Eostre with hares and shows how a tradition was born. She continues this chapter with descriptions of sacred sites that mark the Equinox. She includes the Celts, Druids, Malta, Mayans and Angkor Wat. The author also includes the relationship between Ostara and other holidays and deities that are honored by various religions. She also describes how Ostara was thought to be the celebration of the New Year. The second chapter is New Ways. The author describes the newness of the season, the symbols of spring, and seasonal activities. She mentions kite flying is a perfect activity to honor the season. Other activities involve eggs like egg rolls, hunts and races. She continues the chapter by detailing the different ways Pagans celebrate Ostara….