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Book Reviews
By: Donald Altman - Roundfire Books - $17.95

Description: Travelers is the story of a grieving psychiatristís life and career are jeopardized when a suicidal patient and mysterious pet therapist come to the psych ward.

Verdict: A Mysterious Traveler. A Sentient Canine. A Psychotic Patient. Grieving psychiatrist Ben Banks cant find a way to heal from loss. But when a mystifying, miraculous and mind-bending trio arrive at the psych ward, the Doctor is forced to confront his deepest fears and beliefs about the nature of consciousness and reality - even death.

With his marriage, career and life hanging by a thread, he faces demons both real and imagined, all the while being transformed forever in this inspiring story of hope, healing and renewal.

In what is a thoroughly engrossing book, from start to finish a written prose that builds into something, sooner than later, that quickly draws you in and never lets you go.

A fascinatingly beautiful read, Travelers is a quite wondrous adventure, moreover a journey, that unfolds page by page to reveal an uncharted world of shamanic visions, paranormal states and new dimensions of consciousness.

But donít think for one minute that there are no genuine, real life, experienced roots here within the prose, for author Donald Altman draws on his extensive experiences as a psychotherapist, former monk and spiritual seeker to bring us these delightful, and veritably compelling twists and turns.

Unearthing another layer of reality, chapter by chapter, the psychiatrist in question, journeys into his young patientís universe and when expecting to find phantom inner demons, actually stumbles into another reality where the phantoms are just that; and very, very real.

About the Author - Donald Altman, M.A., LPC, is a psychotherapist, international mindfulness expert, and award-winning author of over 15 books translated worldwide. Featured as an expert in The Mindfulness Movie and profiled in the Living Spiritual Teachers Project, he currently writes Psychology Todayís Practical Mindfulness Blog. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Quaker Quicks - Tending Sacred Ground
By: Pamela Haines - Christian Alternative - $12.95

Description: Navigate through the sacred, the impossible, and the unexpected in these hard-won reflections on parenting with humility, connection, resilience and joy.

Tending Sacred Ground: Respectful Parenting is a series of essays, each of which alights on the experience of parenting and is inspired by a Quaker perspective.

Pamela Haines shows how to cultivate respect, resilience, humility, connection, discernment, and joy while encouraging and inspiring a wider view toward inclusion.

Verdict: Quakerism holds a promise and a challenge for parents. The promise is that there is a way of living with and guiding children that can be intensely spiritual, that can broaden and deepen parents spiritual journeys.

However, the challenge is to follow the way once found, to put it into practice in those everyday events we all experience with children getting out of the house on time, being sure homework is done satisfactorily, knowing what adolescents are doing without being overly intrusive.

Ergo, Pamela Hainesí Tending Sacred Ground: Respectful Parenting is a series of essays, each of which alights on the experience of parenting and is inspired by a Quaker perspective.

The eight chapters contained are: Cultivating Respect, Cultivating Resilience, Cultivating Humility, Cultivating Connection, Cultivating Discernment, Cultivating Joy, and finally both Cultivating a Wider View and Cultivating Inclusion.

But to know where the Quaker perspective originates, one must know that common to them all is their never-floundering faith: that there is something more to life than what we can see and touch.

Thus, in naming that Divine, they speak with many voices. For some there is a God, a Divine Being who is guiding them. For others it is the belief that there is a Truth to be sought, an Understanding that may come to them through quiet, deep meditation.

Therein, Tending Sacred Ground: Respectful Parenting showcases a Quaker practice that suggests the methods for following these cultivationís, these testimonies, for creating the kind of family/community they wholly envision.

For using them, following them, and abiding by them (on both sides, for our children can be out teachers also, of course), they can work toward all manner of challenges, whilst constantly monitoring, as they live with and guide their children.

About the Author - A student of economics since childhood, Pamela Haines has spent a lifetime gathering experience, knowledge and perspective to speak with authority on how economic theories and structures shape our lives and challenge our values.

She has written pamphlets and magazine articles and lead workshops based on demystifying connections between economics and daily life, while challenging people to claim their power and act on their values. Pamela lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

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A Reason To Carry On
By: Vony Eichel - Psyche Books - $17.95

Description: Henry, a cockney arsonist and psychopath, was the catalyst to Vonyís enlightenment. Ironically, she started out as the teacher and ended up as Eliza Doolittle, the naive student.

Perhaps Henryís unwitting mission was to help others by telling their story. Angry at a God following the death of a sibling, Vony initially rejected religion. Eventually she realized that religion, science and philosophy are compatible; without investigating them all, the answer to a meaningful life would be incomplete.

As an exercise therapist teaching classes for psychiatric offenders, as well as in nursing homes for people living out their final furlong, Vony met Henry. In her work she encountered individuals of all ages with mental, physical and emotional disabilities in contrast to socializing with the rich and famous.

She sought to understand them all through a looking glass of behavioral psychology, Bible studies, philosophy, poetry, Eastern religions, spiritualists, psychics and astrologers. Whatever their weaknesses or limitations, everyone is similar at their core, and the same universal, simple truths apply to finding a meaningful life for them all.

Verdict: Opening with, as the author herself freely admits, is an accurate rendition to the best of my ability of how things played out for her, and that for reasons of confidentiality, she has changed all their respective names, yet underlining the facts that all the key events are undeniable, Vonyís A Reason to Carry On: The Meaning of Life is Within Each of Us to Grasp is one of those books that come the conclusion of every chapter, you just feel the tantalizing urge to keep reading.

A book that should act like a siren call to those struggling in life, whether they be in your household, your neighbors, random one-off offenders or even habitual offenders, what is on point here via the prose set down, are ways to get your life back on track, and moreover prepare on a more solid ground for what is to come.

For, and as is noted above, whatever their weaknesses or limitations, everyone is similar at their core, and the same universal, simple truths apply to finding a meaningful life for them all.

Not to go to deeply into the book, for that would most assuredly spoil the storytelling rhythm for you, but from the very onset of how Henry is found lying in the road outside a public house, continually refusing any help to get him up, not caring about himself or life, in general, whilst at the same time uttering statements such as, Whatís the point? Itís always the same thing. A hand pulls you up and you fall down again, like a yo-yo. Might as well starting fixing again until the end comes, your attention (heart and soul) is grabbed.

A man much like oh-so many others, that no longer has any idea what life is all about, people like Henry - who were born into a vicious cycle of pain, violence and misery - just donít seem to have had the luck most all of us had in life; and thus to whom this book is silently, and yet astutely dedicated to.

About the Author: Vony was born and bred in New York where she attended C.W.Post College of L.I.U., but lived all her adult life in London. She explored many careers; working as a Blue Badge Tour Guide, studied for the Stock Exchange and Finance Industry, Behavioural Psychology, Systems Analysis, but finally found her calling as an Exercise Therapist for the Elderly, Disabled, those with Special Needs and Psychiatric Ex-Offenders. Her passions are ballet and wild swimming. She lives on a beach in West Sussex, UK.

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The FBI War on Tupac Shakur
By: John Potash - Microcosm Publishing, $18.95

Description: Since the first day after the tragedy was announced, controversy has surrounded the death of rap and cultural icon Tupac Shakur.

In this work, preeminent researcher on the topic, John Potash, puts forward his own theories of the events leading up to and following the murder in this meticulously researched and exhaustive account of the story.

Verdict: This book is, and without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most compelling books that I myself have read in the past decade, and thus I honestly donít think that there has ever before been written, been documented, such a detailed and shocking analysis of the untimely death of one of the greatest musicians of the modern era.

The FBI War on Tupac Shakur: State Repression of Black Leaders from the Civil Rights Era to the 1990s, to give it its full title, not only contains a wealth of names, dates, and events detailing the use of unscrupulous tactics by the Federal Bureau of Investigation against a generation of leftist political leaders and musicians, but the book also features a stunning array of perhaps lesser-known information on issues that one would not be able to find in the mainstream media; or in sources that are only on the surface of everyday life.

A prose based on twelve years of research and including extensive footnotes, sources include over 100 interviews, FOIA-released CIA and FBI documents, court transcripts, and mainstream media outlets, it is evident from the very off that author John Potash most definitely had to dig deeper than the common realms that most are used to in order to gather some of the intriguing material that he now brings forth.

Beginning with the birth of the Civil Rights Movement in America, Potash illustrates the ways in which the FBI and the United States government conspired to take down and dismantle the various burgeoning activist and revolutionary groups forming at the time.

From Martin Luther King Jr. to Malcolm X to Fred Hampton, the methods used to thwart their progress can be seen repeated again and again in the ‚Äô80s and í90s against later revolutionary groups, musicians, and, most notably, Tupac Shakur.

In conclusion, and as much as I am sure there are still a whole host of facts/information/disinformation that Potash was advised (or politely suggested) to leave out, considering that there is just so much delicious information still included, he himself must have been fully away of his delicate handling of this oh-so sensitive material.

Thus, his prose is outstanding, it is enticing, it is generously sculptured, and, for the most part, is on point, no waffle, no filler; which for such an eye-opening experience, is something that I am proud to relay.

So buckle up for this winding, shocking, and unbelievable tale as John Potash reveals the dark underbelly of our government and their treatment of some of our most beloved Black icons.

About the Author - John Potash is the author and producer of the book and film, Drugs as Weapons Against Us: The CIAís War on Musicians and Activists. He previously wrote and produced The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders book and film. He has been featured in television appearances on C-Spanís American History TV, The Reelz Channel, Hollywood DC on RT, and in the A&Eís Who Killed Tupac?, as well as The Real News Network, where he discussed the politics of Tupacís life and assassination.

He has appeared on hundreds of radio programs in the US, England, and New Zealand, including Coast to Coast AM. He completed his graduate studies at Columbia University and has worked counseling people with mental health problems and addictions for over 30 years. He currently lives in Baltimore.

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The History of Miami Hip Hop
By: John Cordero - Microcosm Publishing, $16.95

Description: In the late 90s, the music scene in Miami was at the infancy of becoming the multi-million dollar cultural and artistic force that it is today. Musicians like Pitbull, DJ Khaled, and countless others staked Miamiís claim as the newest Mecca for Hip Hop heads and graffiti artists.

The book features never-before-seen photos of 1990s stars RZA, Ghostface Killah, and Method Man of Wu-Tang, Andre 3000 of Outkast, Black Thought of The Roots, Phife of A Tribe Called Quest (R.I.P.), Lilí Kim, Aaliyah (R.I.P.), and artists that achieved global celebrity in the 2000s, like Destinyís Child, The Black Eyed Peas, Timbaland, DJ Khaled, and many more.

Verdict: In the late í80s, South Beach was still mainly a retirement home with lots of cheap real estate and a large homeless population on Lincoln Road.

Just prior to that, the two decades of í70s and í80s found disco was giving way to freestyle, hip hop and bass music. All these sounds were coming together and influencing each other, as a new generation in Miami began to develop.

But things were beginning to change. Miami Beach was about to become the party destination we know today. Cheap real estate, an influx in models, and the emergence of Miami Vice all brought in tourists and new residents.

During this time, The Cipher was created. An independent newspaper that followed the scene and included reviews, interviews, essays, photos, and more, The Cipher was the choice source for discovering Miamiís underground.

The History of Miami Hip Hop: The Story of DJ Khaled, Pitbull, DJ Craze, and Other Contributors to South Floridaís Scene, to give it is full title, chronicles the ups and downs of this legendary rag during its short tenure.

Author John Cordero presents both a memoir of his time as one of the newspaperís creators, and an anthology of some of The Ciphers greatest hits. Both a love letter to The Cipher as well as 1990s Miami, this narrative is an essential chapter in the history of Hip Hopís third coast.

Built upon the story (or, at least, one of the stories) of how the then-18-year-old Khaled Khaled (yep, so good his parents named him twice!) came to work at Odyssey Records, a tiny store in the Carrollton Shopping Plaza in Mid-City New Orleans in 1993, we get to envision a skinnier, but not skinny, baggy clothes-wearing frame that kept fidgeting behind the counter.

During his early days there, which was owned and run by Gary Holzenthal, Khaled had been sneakily (or not, depends on who you talk to, I guess) using the office phone to contact record labels in New York.

Cut to the chase, and Holzenthal quickly discovered that it was indeed Khaled who was running up his phone bill, and so ended their professional relationship.

Some 20 years later, Holzenthal turned on the TV and saw a very different Khaled Khaled. I donít know when he discovered where the switch was, but as soon as he found it, he flipped it and he turned on DJ Khaled.

Another stand out name is obviously the aforementioned Pitbull aka Armando Christian Perez, an American rapper and businessman who began his career in the early 2000s, recording reggaeton, Latin hip hop, and crunk music under a multitude of labels.

And not to go personality-by-personality here, but something else that I myself was also knee deep back in around that time, was Miami bass (also called booty bass) emerged around the 1980s as the new bumpiní kid on the block party.

Its sonic predecessors (reggae, old school hip hop, and electro funk) had paved the way for a welcoming party scene that would give Miami bass a home.

Notable founders of the genre The 2 Live Crew brought heart-pounding beats, sexual overtones, and hype man vocals in their tracks that are still dominant in clubs across the world today.

Indeed, they perhaps sum up the historic emergence of Miami bass best in their 1986 hit Throw the D; Thereís a brand new dance and itís coming your way / it was started in Miami by the ghetto DJs.

All this, and oh-so much more, information is brought forth here in John Corderoís quite magnificent book, and coming complete with some truly flashback-sumptuous, of-the-day photographs, there might not be a better book on subject matter to hand on the market today.

About the Author - John Cordero was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1977 and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1989. His family settled in Miami, FL in 1995, where he became immersed in the Hip Hop scene.

From 1998 to 2000, Mr. Cordero co-founded, edited, and published The Cipher: Miamiís Hip Hop Newspaper, an independent monthly publication that chronicled the emerging Hip Hop scene in South Florida. He is a US Navy veteran.

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Obsessed With Bass: Miami Bass 1985-1993
By: Aaron Nemec - Microcosm Publishing, $4.95

Description: Late one Miami night in 1985, Amos Larkins II was mixing Comminí In Fresh by Double Duce while also partying in the studio with a stripper. He was so distracted he forgot to review the levels before sending the track for mastering.

The next week at a flea market, he was horrified to hear the over-compressed bass tearing up the storeís speakers. But the other customers felt differently.

Thus a genre was born: Miami Bass!

Verdict: For those unaware, Obsessed with Bass: The Essential History of Miami Bass, 1985-1993 is #5 in Mircocosmís Scene History series and might well just be their best yet.

For nearly a decade, this accidentally-created Miami Bass, a DIY genre that enjoyed a massive mainstream popularity that nobody, and I mean nobody could have ever seen coming at the time.

Here in this thin, yet wholly-heartfelt, magnificently dedicated new reading, author Aaron Nemec explores this obsession in this fascinating, well, weíll lovingly call it little zine full of larger-than-life characters.

Detailing how Miami Bass (booty music or booty bass) was nothing more than a slither of a sub-genre of hip hop music that became popular in the 1980s and 1990s, where the use of drums from the Roland TR-808, sustained kick drum, heavy bass, raised dance tempos, and frequently sexually explicit lyrical content differentiate it from other hip hop sub-genres, itís no secret now that the underling characterizations of Miami Bass were the use of rhythms with a so-named stop-start flavor along with hissy cymbals, all completed by lyrics that reflected the language of the streets, particularly Miamiís historically black neighborhoods, et al.

Indeed, and despite Miami Bass never having consistent mainstream acceptance, early national media attention in the 1980s resulted in a profound impact on the development of hip hop, dance music, and pop.

Furthermore, Miami Bass - the new bumpiní kid on the block party - has long been historically noted as having been truly brought to the public fore by the some-would-say the true founders of the genre, The 2 Live Crew, for they brought forth heart-pounding beats, sexual overtones, and hype man vocals within their tracks that are still dominant in clubs across the world today.

Indeed, they perhaps sum up the historic emergence of Miami bass best in their 1986 hit Throw the D; Thereís a brand new dance and itís coming your way / it was started in Miami by the ghetto DJs.

All this, and oh-so much more, information is brought forth here in Aaron Nemecís little, yet dutifully compulsive zine, of which I urge you to go out and purchase today!

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Earth Spirit: Honoring the Wild
By: Irisanya Moon - Moon Books, $10.95

Description: Deeply rooted in environmentalism and activism, Honoring the Wild answers crucially pertinent questions while driving at lasting change.

From political demonstrations to personal calls, Irisanya Moon offers a collection of stories and lessons, as told by Reclaiming Witches from around the world, about the facts and fears, the confessions and collaborations within the Reclaiming traditionís own timeline of activism.

Verdict: In short, Honoring the Wild inspires and informs creativity and purpose while reminding us of all that has come and of all that is left to do. May the wild be blessed and healed by this spell of intention and inspiration.

But, delving a little deeper, as one always should, Reclaiming originated in 1979 in the San Francisco Bay Area, blending the influences of Victor and Cora Andersonís Feri Tradition of Witchcraft, Dianic Witchcraft as taught by Z. Budapest, and the feminist, anarchist, peace, and environmental movements.

As a whole, it is a modern witchcraft tradition, aiming to combine the Goddess movement with feminism and political activism (in the peace and anti-nuclear movements). Founded, as aforementioned, in 1979, in the context of the Reclaiming Collective (1978-1997), by two Neopagan women of Jewish descent, Starhawk and Diane Baker, in order to explore and develop feminist Neopagan emancipatory rituals, today, the organization focuses on progressive social, political, environmental and economic activism.

Guided by a shared Principles of Unity, a document that lists the core values of the tradition: personal authority, inclusivity, social and environmental justice and a recognition of intersectionality, priestess (and author) Irisanya Moon, not only teaches classes on Reclaiming around the world, but was herself initiated into the tradition in 2014.

So what we have here in Honoring the Wild: Reclaiming Witchcraft and Environmental Activism, to give it itís full name, is a collection, nay, an anthology moreover, of meditations on the Reclaiming Witchcraft tradition, where short, but at all times intricately imbued with real world mysticism, prose of recollections and advice are brought forth.

Instilling activism at its core at all times, the Reclaiming traditions brought out on these pages, are ones most definitely attune to the here and now, albeit with a late í70s slant at times, but one that never wavers in its proudly inspired magick.

About the Author - Irisanya Moon is a priestess, teacher, and initiate in the Reclaiming tradition. She has taught classes and camps around the world, including the US, Canada, UK and Australia. Irisanya has also contributed to a number of books including Elements of Magic, Naming the Goddess, and The Goddess in America. She is based in Santa Rosa, California, USA.

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Crimson Craft: Sexual Magic for the Solo Witch
By: Halo Quin - Moon Books, $16.95

Description: Rediscover the sacred nature of sex, pleasure, and the divine erotic in Halo Quinís Crimson Craft, a guide for sexual magic and a tool for personal healing, spell-casting, and devotional practices in witchcraft.

By theorizing the ethics of embodiment and pleasure within these practices, Quin provides exploratory exercises and tips for taking them further, and safely, with a partner.

Verdict: Believe me when I say that Crimson Craft is an introduction not only to archetypes, deities, and divine powers but also to the context and benefits of using kink in ritual and creative writing, inviting you - the witch and magic-worker - to deepen your understanding of sexual magicís possibilities and sweetness.

Led deep into the wilds of Wales by dreams and wandering words, author Halo Quin has been a practicing Faery Witch since, well, forever. A changeling child, she was away with the faeries for much of her childhood and discovered human magic in her teens, which, of course, was most enchanting.

Her magic has always focused on listening to the spirits, from the landwights to the gods and here in Crimson Craft: Sexual Magic for the Solo Witch, she guides, for want of a better term, the reader (albeit ever so gently) toward manifesting their own Red Witch (aka the Sexy Sorceress) through exercises and the overall sensuality of life.

A witch, devotee of the Faery Queen, storyteller, philosopher, and consummate writer whose pen is ever in the service of magic, the reader almost instantly gets an idea about the spiritual understanding of sex magick, but the book just doesnít run rampant down a one way street of information.

No, for what Halo does is not only willingly embody her teachings within her prose, but also the reader with the responsible foundations as they go (both mentally and physical), thus providing a tantalizing tale of both sex and schooling, so that you end up to be as attune to not only emboldening the Red Witch, but can also deepen yours, and your chosen fewís understanding of the sex magickís oh-so sweet possibilities.

About the Author - Halo is a practicing Faery witch and a lifelong lover of magic. She is a devotee of Freya and the Faery Queen, a lover of the Welsh gods, a storyteller, philosopher, and sensual witch working to (re)enchant the world. She lives in Aberystwyth, UK.

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Pagan Portals: 21st Century Fairy
By: Morgan Daimler - Moon Books, $12.95

Description: When people think of fairies they often picture beings who dwell in the wilderness, solidly anchored in the past. Yet the truth is that fairies are as present and active in the world today as ever, found as easily in cities as they are in wild places.

21st Century Fairy explores fairy beliefs and encounters in the modern world, framed by folklore, modern fiction and personal experience, to show readers the possibilities that are out there.

Verdict: In Pagan Portals - 21st Century Fairy: The Good Folk in the new millennium, author Morgan Daimler teaches us that fairies actually evolve and thus what a modern city in the fairy world might be like.

So, we have to be open to the possibility of tech fairies existing alongside fairies in nature and subsequently learn how they interact with human technology.

Indeed, and much like the human world, the fairy world is stunningly diverse and constantly changing, which means 21st Century Fairy is a qjuite fabulous guide to seekers who want a modern context for these ancient beings.

A veritable treasure trove of knowledge, research, and scholarship from one the most prolific authors of Celtic and Irish traditions and history (Fairy Witchcraft, A New Dictionary of Fairies, Fairy Queens, Living Fairy, et al), the book was brought together by Daimler as a result of many conversations she had with friends over the years.

Daimler also once taught a workshop on the subject, was asked if she had a book out about it, said no, thought about it, and then set to doing just that. Thus, Pagan Portals: 21st Century Fairy is laced with material sewn together from her workshops, blogs she has written, and the aforementioned years of conversations on the subject to hand, and which now she hopes will be a useful resource for people seeking to understand the culture of fairy and fairies in a modern day context.

The book, which is broken into seven chapters, complete with a Conclusion, is one of those reads where if you already know about fairies you will still get a fresh take on them here, but even if you go in not knowing what to expect, you will finish it in one go, close it, nod, be thankful for the time spent being educated, and, most likely, start to Google other Fairy-imbued things online to either watch or read.

About the Author - Morgan Daimler is a blogger, poet, teacher of esoteric subjects, witch, and priestess of the Daoine Maithe. Morgan is a prolific pagan writer, having published more than a dozen books under Moon Books alone, and she is one of the worldís foremost experts on all things Fairy. She lives in Connecticut, US.

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Pagan Portals: Breath of Spring
By: Melusine Draco - Moon Books, $12.95

Description: Possibly the most basic activity in our experience, breathing is also an important magical metaphor; A breath of spring air is a welcome change from the current situation.

Verdict: Candlemas/Imbolc is the re-awakening of the Old Lass within Old Craft belief and also coincides with the Roman Candelaria and Fornicalia - a spring corn festival celebrated in honor of Fornax, goddess of ovens, and observed by each ward of the city.

All this merging of primitive origins and rites, belonging to the European pre-urban agricultural culture, meant that it also commemorated the search for Persephone by her mother and the festival of candles symbolizing the return of the Light.

So it continued to be performed until the Christian era, when it was transformed into Candalmas in AD494.

In pre-Christian times, Imbolc observance began the night before 1st February, and celebrants prepared for a visit from Brigid into their homes by crafting an effigy of the goddess from bundles of oats and rushes. The clothed effigy was placed in a basket overnight, and the day was celebrated by burning lamps and lighting bonfires in tribute to her.

Traditions from both the pagan celebration and the Christian observance of St. Brigidís Day can be found in the modern Imbolc festivities - while celebrants sometimes make a Brigidís Cross out of reeds, as well as a Brigid corn doll or effigy.

As noted, a pagan holiday celebrated from February 1 through sundown February 2, and based on a Celtic tradition, Imbolc was meant to mark the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox in Neolithic Ireland and Scotland.

Our neighbors always used to celebrate Imbolc, themselves focused on celebrating Brigid, which they themselves would do by setting up an altar with the symbols of Brigid, like a corn husk doll, white flowers, a bowl of milk, and candles. Indeed, if there was a group gathering, they told us they might even cast a circle, and recite a prayer to receive a blessing from Brigid.

Melusine Draco originally trained in the magical arts of traditional British Old Craft with Bob and Miriam Clay-Egerton. She has been a magical and spiritual instructor for over 20 years with Coven of the Scales and the Temple of Khem, and writer of numerous popular books including Liber Agyptius: the Book of Egyptian Magic; The Egyptian Book of Days; The Egyptian Book of Nights; The Thelemic Handbook; The Hollow Tree, an elementary guide to the Qabalah; A Witchís Treasury of the Countryside; Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore and Starchild: a rediscovery of stellar wisdom.

Thus, author Melusine Draco, as her name suggests, has long been plugged into the powerful currents of traditional witchcraft and ritual magic, which is then why this book is not only so compelling, but moreover notably compulsive reading.

Broken down into five chapters - Candlemas, Equinox Turbulence, Ostara, Beltaine and An On-going Celebration - this fourth book in the series brings forth (no pun intended) not only engaging prose on how to obtain other accessible information on the subject matter, but tells us stories of festivals in Spring, whilst also ensuring that this highly enjoyable read is grounded in a cocktail of mythology, poetry, history, whilst at the same time, sprinkling in a recipe or two!

About the Author - Melusine Draco is an Initiate of traditional British Old Craft and originally trained in the magical arts of traditional British Old Craft with Bob and Miriam Clay-Egerton.

She has been a magical and spiritual instructor for over 20 years with Arcanum and the Temple of Khem, and has had almost thirty books published. She now lives in Ireland near the Galtee Mountains.

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Others: A Very Short Book About Beliefs
By: Martyn The Very Revd. Professor Percy - Christian Alternative, $10.95

Description: Do we really understand others and their beliefs? Martyn Percy believes that if we better understand the people in our churches, in our communities and in our societies, then we might cultivate more ease in the 21st century, not only in local and national politics but also in international politics.

Verdict: Others: A Very Short Book About Beliefs takes a curious, anti-prejudiced look at some weird and wacky beliefs. And although odd beliefs are wryly observed throughout, its subversive subtext aims to challenge people not to write off others beliefs as irrational, weird or daft but to invite the reader to reconsider others in the light of what we donít know.

And as Martyn The Very Revd. Professor Percy himself says in the opening of his book, one on prejudices and beliefs, he almost wrote it anonymously, fearing his name/title would immediately cause some readers to prejudice the text within.

And therein sums up why this book is so needed in todayís society, for the book, which is basically one long essay, is designed to hopefully make you think outside the box.

But it doesnít really matter at all if you are religious, or even spiritual in any way, shape or form, open-minded, close-minded, a deeply-rooted atheist, or just one really stubborn SOB (my words, not his), for the book is more about airing a better understanding of peopleís beliefs, to get to understand them better, to delve into why they believe such things, et al.

Therein, Others: A Very Short Book About Beliefs, is what some might well call a life-changing piece of writing ... [Rev. Ian Markham, PhD], but being that this very same senior cleric re: Martyn The Very Revd. Professor Percy, who fought an epic three-and-a-half-year battle over efforts to oust him as head of Christ Church, Oxford, and who recently announced he had quit the Church of England, is himself going through a life-changing period of existence, well, what better source would you desire to write such a meaningful, and dedicated prose?

About the Author - The Very Revd Prof. Martyn was the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, where he lives. From 2004-14 Martyn was the Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon. Martyn writes on religion in contemporary culture and modern ecclesiology, and taught for the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford.

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Now and Forever
By: Tilman Baumgartel - Zero Books - $29.95

Description: Elvis Presley and Karlheinz Stockhausen. The Beatles and Andy Warhol. Terry Riley and Ken Kesey. What all these artists have in common is that loops have played a significant role in their work.

The short sequences of sounds or images repeated using recording media have proved to be an astonishingly flexible, versatile and momentous aesthetic method in post-World War II art and music.

Today, loops must be counted among the most important creative tools of postmodern art and music. Yet until now they have been largely overlooked as an aesthetic phenomenon.

Now, for the first time, this book tells a secret story of the 20th century: how a formerly inconspicuous basic function of all modern media technology gave rise to complete artistic oeuvres, musical styles such as minimal music, hip hop and techno, and, most recently, entire scenes and subcultures that would have been unthinkable without loops.

Verdict: Everything remains the same, only the appearance changes - Anton Webern. Repetition, they say, is the mother of skill, but itís also the mother of music production (well, mother may be a bit of a stretch, but itís certainly important!). From the repetitive structure of electronic music and looped samples, to repeated melodic ideas and delay effects, repetition is a key part of music production in many ways.

Here in Now and Forever: Towards a Theory and History of the Loop, author Tilman Baumgartel comprehensibly explores the many ways that repetition has been incorporated in music production over the decades.

Drawing on real examples from classic tracks, along with diving into other loop forms inherent to technical media, such as film, we quickly discover that loops have been more prevalent in postmodern art, film and, of course, music down the decades than you could have ever imagined.

With a drop tag line of A Secret Acoustic History of the 20th Century, the book explains how the loop has an absolute staple of music production, and in ways that you might truly have never envisioned.

In the í60s and í70s the idea of looping a bar of audio for a whole track was frowned upon by many. The popular mindset was that you should record every element in full for the entirety of the track, otherwise itís not real music. More creatively minded artists provided to be exceptions of course, The Beatles famously experimented with tape loops on their later projects.

Since the late í80s and early í90s, the rise of sampling in music production made looping the norm, and nowadays platforms like Loopcloud have made the whole process easier than ever. Genres defined by this technique are hip hop, house, disco edits, and modern pop.

Indeed, if we wish to get technical, which I wonít bore you with too much now, but a Micro Loops is a technique thatís often used in electronic music and is simply the taking of tiny snippets of audio files and looping them. These snippets are referred to as grains and using them in sound design is termed granular synthesis.

Furthermore, when you get down to the granular level these tiny parts of samples just act as oscillators and so can be used in a granular synth as any waveshaped oscillator would be.

But, I digress, and so getting back on track, what Tilman Baumgartel aims to do here in this plush, lush, hefty and chock full of heartfelt passion for the prose, is showcase how we have been living with loops in all forms for as long as we, and even our parents, and their own parents, can possible recall.

Indeed, Baumgartelís own introduction to this phenomenon was when he himself purchased his very first Commodore 64, itself embedded with its own BASIC programming code within, and of which after he was prompted on screen to type in certain commands, found that moments later the program did nothing but type the word Hello on the monitor over and over (until he physically ended it); meaning that this was his own, personally created, virgin loop.

As for aforementioned, versatile and momentous aesthetic method in post-World War II art and such, well, one has to look no further than the terms web, skein and, of course, loop, which are all terms usually associated with textiles; but are also surprisingly common referents for the formal qualities of a wide range of art created over the past 60 years.

Furthermore, these words are particularly apt for describing the linear, gestural painting of American Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, whose work gained critical acclaim in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Their calligraphic abstractions were meant to convey the direct process and expression of the artist, an idea borrowed from Surrealists who emigrated to the United States before and during World War II.

The Surrealists commitment to automatic writing - allowing the unconscious to guide the creative process - was extremely influential. The artistís gestures, whether handwriting or larger movements of the body, became the vocabulary of personal self-discovery and revelation of his or her psychological states.

But then some artists eliminated the emotional and individual references in their work by reducing their compositions to basic geometric elements, such as Robert Mangoldís looped compositions of the 1960s and 1970s; of simple shapes drawn within polygons.

People have asked down the years, is it cheating to be looping so much in recordings, but I think the industry believes that as long as youíre making an effort to use the loop in a way that feels unique to your sound, thereís nothing wrong with having them in your songs.

Ergo, there are many approaches to making repetition in music fresh and interesting, but perhaps taking the best bits from each to develop hybrid techniques that better suit your very own, and unique style, is the way to go.

About the Author - Tilman Baumgartel (PhD) is a writer. He lives in Berlin and teaches media studies at Hochschule Mainz. Previously he was a professor at the University of the Philippines in Manila (2005-2009) and at the Department of Media and Communication at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (2009-2012).

He has written or edited nine books on various aspect of media culture, including internet art, computer games, the aesthetics of loops and the director Harun Farocki. Schleifen. Zur Geschichte und ästhetik des Loops is his latest publication.

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