Pagan Bookshelf: Raven and Bear, Pan, Elves and Dwarfs

The phrase “book-loving Pagans” may be redundant. With that in mind, here’s another edition of the Pagan Bookshelf – a roundup of recent releases. * Dancing with Raven and Bear: A Book of Earth Medicine and Animal Magic by Sonja Grace (Findhorn Press, 144 p.)

The Norse god Odin has his two ravens, Huginn (who represents thought) and Muninn (memory). Writer, storyteller and healer Sonja Grace, whose heritage includes Norwegian and Native American roots (Hopi, Choctaw and Cherokee), has her own ravens. “As a child I drew Ravens,” Grace writes in her book Dancing with Raven and Bear: A Book of Earth Medicine and Animal Magic.

Weschcke bio chronicles occult/New Age pioneer

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — In 2007, when Melanie Marquis was a solitary Pagan “who didn’t really know anybody else,” she began writing for the Pagan community. She decided to contact this Carl Llewellyn Weschcke guy for comments for an article, so she wrote to Llewellyn, the company that Weschcke had bought and transformed from a small publisher of astrology titles into a metaphysical/New Age/occult publishing juggernaut. “I didn’t know him at all at the time,” Marquis said by phone from her home in Lakewood near Denver. “I contacted Llewellyn and they told me ‘You know of course he really doesn’t do interviews and things like that anymore.

Photographer captures Witches in America

BROOKLYN – What if you discovered an ancestor was a judge at the Salem witch trials, and you also found out another ancestor, from the same period of New England history, had been accused of being a witch? No, it’s not some plot twist devised by the creators of Charmed, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or some other witchy TV series. It’s the true story of photographer Frances F. Denny. That striking discovery sparked her latest photography project, Major Arcana: Witches in America, which is on exhibit through Nov. 24 at ClampArt in New York City.

New books explore entheogens

TWH – When psychonaut Stephen Gray writes “What a long, strange trip it’s been,” he’s playfully referencing that Grateful Dead album with the same title. But Gray is after bigger game: The “trip” he’s actually citing is humankind’s “incredibly rich history of plant-entangled religion and magic,” as he writes in the forward to the book Psychedelic Mystery Traditions: Spirit Plants, Magical Practices, Ecstatic States by Thomas Hatsis. For Pagans who refer to their practice as an “earth-based spirituality” or “nature spirituality” (see circlesanctuary.org), those terms can carry various meanings. For Pagans whose paths include entheogens, “earth-based” is a very literal term. The website oxforddictionaries.com defines entheogen as “a chemical substance, typically of plant origin, that is ingested to produce a non-ordinary state of consciousness for religious or spiritual purposes.” The term dates only to the 1970s, and its Greek roots literally mean “becoming divine within.”

The Oxford site reports the word was “coined by an informal committee studying the inebriants of shamans.”

A psychonaut, by the way, is someone who explores altered states of consciousness — especially but not always through hallucinogens — for spiritual or scientific purposes.

Rowena Whaling, IPMA’s Best Female Artist, destined to be a singer

NASHVILLE – Rowena Whaling says her mother “was terrified I would become a nun, but I never really thought of that because I knew I was going to be a singer.”

Instead Whaling became a Wiccan high priestess and a singer, and an accomplished one at that. At the Second Annual Pagan Music Awards, held in Nashville in September and presented by the International Pagan Music Association, Whaling was honored as Best Female Artist for the second year in a row. Samples of her sometimes dark, sometimes mystical, sometimes erotic, rock-oriented music — from her CDs My Mother’s Song and Book of Shadows — can be heard on her website, rowenaoftheglen.com. While Whaling’s spiritual path meandered until, she says, she “came out of the broom closet in 1995,” her musical destiny was set early. “I was raised on the road 32 to 36 weeks a year because my parents were theatricals,” Whaling says.