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, those terms can carry various meanings. For Pagans whose paths include entheogens, “earth-based” is a very literal term. The website 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, 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.

“Charmed” reboot is set to debut Oct. 14

TWH — The Power of Three is meeting the power of the reboot as Charmed returns to small screens on the CW network at 9 p.m. eastern time on Sunday Oct. 14. This time around the series about three sisters who discover they are hereditary witches will have the power of – gasp! — a real-life witch in the writing room. The new drama has also spawned, well, some drama: A Witch war – OK, maybe a Witch tiff – broke out when cast member Holly Marie Combs of the original series, which was created by Constance M. Burge and aired from 1998-2006 on the WB network, became miffed that the originators were not asked to be a part of the reboot – or to do the reboot.

Divination roundup: Sibyls of Africa, Child Tarot, New Era Elements

TWH – North African sybils, Zen-like art, and pan-cultural perspectives infuse new tarot/oracle decks. Here’s a look:

The Sibyls Oraculum: Oracle of the Black Doves of Africa by Tayannah Lee McQuillar, artwork by Katelan V. Foisy, 44-card deck and 148-page guidebook (Destiny Books). The Sybils, writes Tayannah Lee McQuillar, “were women of the ancient world who were reputed to possess the powers of prophecy or divination . . .

Pagan Music Awards honor artists, public service

NASHVILLE – A hammered dulcimer and flute duo from Crete, an operatic-trained rock singer, and a singer/guitarist/keyboardist who calls his music “folk with fire” won honors at the Second Annual Pagan Music Awards. Belthain, the Crete duo composed of Erik Belenos on vocals, hackbrett (hammered dulcimer), bass, and percussion, and Samaela on vocals, flutes, and percussion, won Best Group for 2018. Singer-songwriter Rowena of the Glen (Rowena Whaling) won Best Female Artist for the second year in a row. Singer/guitarist/keyboardist B. Willie Dryden won Best Male Artist. The awards, which are administered by the International Pagan Music Association, were presented at an awards ceremony and concert held Sept.