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Friday, May 30, 2014

Interlude - Reading with Cats 1

While reading, my cat often joins me for reading. Here is from a while ago when we were reading Jovah's Angel by Sharon Shinn.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tik-Tok of Oz - L. Frank Baum

Return to the fairy land of Oz, where Queen Ann Soforth, ruler of Oogaboo, has decided to take over the whole world. However, with several officers at her disposal and only one soldier to do the work, she finds herself in many quandaries.

Betsy Bobbin of Oklahoma finds herself in a strange state when she and her mule Hank end up shipwrecked in Oz. With the help of the Shaggy Man, the Rose Princes, and Polychrome she hopes to find her way back. But between the aspirations of Queen Ann and the cruel Ruggedo, King of the Nomes, she is certain to have many troublesome adventures.

Children and parents alike will be delighted with Baum's continued imaginative land filled with magic and morals.

Recommended from the series:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Ozma of Oz
Patchwork Girl of Oz

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dreamgates - Robert Moss

In some religions, they are said to reveal the future; in others, they are said to reveal past lives. Some people believe dreams are alternate realities that we live concurrently. And many psychologists think that dreams can reveal our troubles in coded sequences.

Moss examines characters, scenarios, and objects to help readers understand their dreams. He contends that dreams can lead us to understanding many parts of our lives, including the things in our minds that our holding us back and the secret desires that would lead us to true happiness. He then shares ideas and shamanic techniques to assist the reader in using their own dreams them to the highest potential.

He also includes topics like encounters with ghosts, aliens, dead people, and past lives. When discussing these, he includes ideas on how analyze and use these to a person's advantage.

This volume contains insight and techniques that I think even some veterans of the topic will find useful.

Recommended Reading:
The Art of Shapeshifting - Ted Andrews
Shaman, Healer, Sage - Alberto Villoldo Ph.D.
In the Shadow of the Shaman - Amber Wolfe

Monday, May 19, 2014

Praying the Names of God - Ann Spangler

In the majority of modern translations of the Old Testament and the New Testament, there are only three names used to refer to God: God, Lord, and Father. But in the original writings God was referred to by a number of names and titles, which reveal the richness of His attributes.

Through this twenty-six week devotional, Spangler reveals the meanings of these names using cultural and biblical context. Using a brief portion of scripture, Monday's passage reveal the name. Tuesday through Thursday contains scripture passages related to the name, as well as personal relations to the scripture by the author. And Friday has a final parting prayer to ponder during the weekend.

The author provides guidance for meditation and prayer each day by providing five topics: Reflect on, Praise God, Offer Thanks, Confess, and Ask God. These can be used for both meditation and prayer for the reader to personally engage the mystery of the name.

The author begins in the Old Testament with the name of Elohim and ends with Abba from the New Testament. My favorite chapters were Yahweh Nissi (The Lord is My Banner), Yahweh Rei (The Lord is My Shepherd), and Ab, Abba, Pater (Father). I think many readers will find that the inclusion of the names of God will enhance their understanding of scripture.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Sibyl - Par Lagerkvist

After being cursed by a god, a Jew travels to the Oracle of Delphi in hopes of discovering more about his brush with the divine. Although he is sent away without resolution, he is directed to the home of a sibyl, one of the most adept oracles in existence. She lives in disgrace in a small goat hut overlooking Delphi.

Once he retells his story, she reveals her own cruel encounter with god. She begins with her plain childhood as a farmer's daughter and continues on to explain how she was chosen by god to be his oracle. She tells of the harrowing experiences under the influence of the laurel leaves and the smoke. But she also tells a story of love for a common man, a farmer, much like her own father. And finally, explains her disgrace of becoming pregnant and the horror of giving birth and caring for a god.

At first the conclusion of this story left me perplexed. When I pondered on it a bit more, I realized that this is simply a story of man's attempt to make sense of the world and the acts he attributes to god. Because it tells of the troubled times, many people may be able to relate to it with their own life experiences.

Recommended Reading:
Book of Job (Old Testament)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Altars - Denise Linn

Sacred space is an important part of life all around the world and in every age. People have been creating sacred space by gathering in caves and groves or creating piles of rocks, building humble temples, or massive cathedrals. These spaces have brought comfort, hope, and strength to people of cultures and religions all around the world.

Altars are often put together with purpose in churches or homes by using religious or spiritual icons. And in many cultures shrines are used to remember and honor family and friends who have passed on. But altars can also occur spontaneously when family heirlooms are brought together in a place in the house or when found objects are brought together during a walk in nature.

Linn provides a lot of good advice on how a person can create the altar with the best energy possible. The purpose of the altar should always be considered while creating it because the goal may change what one includes. For example, an altar to celebrate love may include flowers, while an altar dedicated to a job search may include objects related to the desired occupation. Altars for healing will probably work best when using cool colors (greens, blues, and purples), while altars for prosperity would do better when using hot colors (reds, oranges, and yellows). She also suggests using Feng Shui, symbology, and numerology to help manifest the best results. Along with ideas on what objects to use on an altar, Linn also provides a series of suggestions for using and cleansing altars to keep the energy healthy. The last few pages contain a short index for the reader to review with deities, symbols, colors, and more with accompanying meanings.

This short book is well-organized and easy to understand, while still containing a good amount of information. Readers who just want to learn about altars will get just as much use from this book as those who are looking to include altars in their daily life. This book is probably best for beginners as it isn't too detailed.

Recommended Reads:
Your Altar - Sandra Kynes
Soulspace - Xorin Balbes

Friday, May 9, 2014

Le Morte D'Arthur - Sir Thomas Malory

Many people are familiar with the story of King Arthur, the sorcerer Merlin, and Arthur's knights of the round table, but the story has changed many times as it is told and retold. The Death of Arthur is the quintessential collection of the most story of Arthur from his conception to his death.

Merlin secured the destined King Arthur's life through the lust of Uther Pendragon, who he disguised as the husband of the soon-to-be mother. Despite being raised as a regular squire to his brother Kay, Arthur managed to secure his place as king by pulling the sword from the stone. He used this sword in many battles, both important and foolish, during his time as kind. Guinevere and Lancelot's betrayal of their King was one of long felt love and not lust. And the search for the Holy Grail is a fascinating and exhausting journey that takes his knights all over Europe.

I enjoyed listening to the original stories of this popular legend, and I look forward to reading the complete version when I have more time.

Source Material:
Le Morte D'Arthur (unabridged) - Sir Thomas Malory

Recommended Reads:
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Anonymous
The Fall of Arthur - J.R.R. Tolkien

Recommended Viewing:
Excalibur

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

Humbert is a desperate who cannot find satisfaction in any part of his life, especially when it comes to women. His first love as a young man died one summer afternoon, which is where, he now understands his own heart may have died. He dated and fooled around. He even went so far as to get married, but his marriage predictably failed due to his lack of interest.

When he lodges with Charlotte Haze, he's nonplussed by her nature and her body. But when he discovers she has a daughter, a twelve year old, a nymphet living under her roof, he changes his mind. The lovely Dolores, Dolly, becomes his obsession. And when Charlotte confesses her love to Humbert he ceases the grand opportunity to capture Dolores, his Lolita, to do his bidding and satisfy his sexual desires.

I attempted to read this once before in text format, but stopped about a quarter of the way through because I couldn't get past the distracting unreliable narrative. In audio format, it felt more like stream-of-consciousness, making it much easier for me to follow.

Throughout the book, Humbert attempts to justify his horrific behavior to the reader by saying he was taking care of Dolores, putting her best interest in mind, and did his best to provide for her in every way he wanted. However, as the story continues, Humbert stops justifying and begins to explaining. Until finally, even he admits to himself that what he has done to his step-daughter has ruined her life in many ways.

I didn't enjoy reading this, but I can at least put it on the list of classics I've read.