Book review: “The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels” by Laura Tempest Zakroff
Anytime anyone thinks about witches, that person is most likely to focus on three very symbolic tools: The broom to fly, the book of spells and the cauldron for potions. Those may be used in fiction, but as for real witches, they all have a place in the altar and even house, and the most iconic is the third one.
I’ve been been found in ‘witchy readings’ as it is almost impossible for me to get any because of very personal reasons. However, and since I know there are certain things only book can teach, I decided that “The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels ” by Laura Tempest Zakroff, could be a good option to start with, and man how right I was.
Published on May 8th, with Llewellyn Publications, the author offers an interesting and integral look into what cauldrons really represent into the witch’s world and daily life, explores the different stories, myths around it, and even the uses it can have, many of them pretty innovative.
If anyone asks me, I consider the section on the different types of cauldrons, their materials, correspondences, advantages and disadvantages, was the juiciest, which, by the way, helped me to discover the perfect option to work with; I’m sure every reader will be able to do the same.
Also, there’s a generally accepted idea that cauldrons are feminine by nature, they are directly connected with the female side of the divinity. Tempest Zakroff takes this idea and buries it ten feet underground, demonstrating that the male divine has also an influence in the sacred vessel. This is just an example on how “The Witch’s Cauldron” makes us rediscover its real nature.
As with almost all of the other books, we will find a few spells, rituals and uses for it at the end of the text, along with a complete and very useful list of references and suggested readings, but this ones, after the long documentations and learning provided in the previous chapters, become more significant and with a sense of higher power.
What impressed me for real is that I expected this to be a heavy and complicated reading, hard to follow, filled with a substance and material, but it turned out to be the whole opposite, in the good way. The author is more than able to use a simple language, a great dose of humor and a light style, making it simple, easy and even funny to read.
I’m sure it was because of this that it took me less than a week to finish it, around three or four days, and we’re speaking about an almost 300 pages long book, taking as a reference the expected print edition and its comic-style cover; I prefer the ebook for this, as it is more mysterious, but all you can feel free to disagree with me.
As a reader, I prefer to take my time and absorb as much as I can in different sittings; good things take their own time and learning is one of the best ones. However, Laura Tempest Zakroff doesn’t respect this; she seems to grab your eyes with her own hands and glue them to her creation for as long as they can handle, turning you into an addict.
Taking a few steps back, the book layout and the inner illustration should be praised just as the content. I never expected them to come on the inside, and must admit that that was a nice touch: to summarize with the drawing what the text explained.
The quality and aesthetic presented are nothing to be amazed about, it is not that remarkable, and, personally, would have preferred to see a more elaborated style, maybe some photographs that matched the cover for digital editions, but still conserve the merit, nonetheless and goes well with the comic-cover for the print edition.
We could also describe this as a great introductory book on the subject; since it didn’t bother at all, the content is easily understandable and entertaining, but it also prompts you to develop an interest to investigate beyond this single reading, and even gives high quality information for your Book of Shadows or Grimoire, depending on the path you follow.
And even if you’re not into magic, or even religion, this represents a great source of inspiration for artistic concepts to work with. We artists are always searching for something that makes the muses sing into our ears again. If this is your case, there are many catalysts inside waiting for you to be discovered, developed and used.
I cannot finish this review without thanking the publishers for allowing me to read this book. Needless to say that I’m eager for something more from the author, topic and the same witchy vein if it comes from them.
The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels
Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (May 8, 2017)
Publication Date: May 8, 2017
About the author:
A practicing Modern Traditional Witch for over 20 years, her early days were defined by being a community leader and public spokesperson for Paganism. Laura was the Associate Editor of Crescent Magazine, A Pagan Publication of Art, Philosophy, and Belief from 1998-2004, founder of the Cauldron of Annwyn Pagan Society in New England, and the youngest attendee of the Pagan Leaders Summit in Bloomington, IN in 2001. After nearly a decade-long hiatus from being publicly active, Laura began to get involved again in 2014 – and now can be found teaching, performing, and participating at numerous events and festivals all over.
About the reviewer:
Bader Saab is a digital journalist and self-published writer; a solitary, eclectic wiccan interested in the darker side of magic and divination; a gothic guy that tries to educate whenever he cans. Hopefully, someday he will succeed in one of them.
The following is an excerpt from The Children of Roswell: A Seven-Decade Legacy of Fear, Intimidation, and Cover-Ups by Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt
Nightmare in the Emergency Room
From all eyewitness accounts, something suspicious was happening inside the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) hospital at the time of all the rumors about the crash of a flying saucer just north of town. Outside doctors and nurses rushed throughout the halls and into and out of rooms that had been designated off-limits to the regular staff. The normally assigned staff were relieved of their duties and sent back to their quarters until further notified. The wings of the complex, despite all of the commotion, were eerily quiet except for guarded whispers. Nothing was to be openly discussed without permission, as though those allowed to stay remained on auto-pilot to complete their clandestine work. MPs were positioned around the outside perimeter as well posted inside the main emergency corridor. Ambulance trucks would hurriedly pull up to the rear loading dock, which led directly to the emergency room. As First Lieutenant Rosemary A. McManus, a regular nurse assigned to the RAAF medical unit, described to us just weeks before passing away in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in 1994, “Something big had happened.” She declined to acknowledge anything more.
Lieutenant Colonel Harold M. Warne was a highly experienced hospital administrator who, as a doctor, had been exposed to the worst human atrocities during WWII. Even in 1947, planes would occasionally crash during training exercises, and bodies mangled and burned beyond repair had become all too common at the world’s first atomic base. But nothing in Warne’s medical schooling prepared him for this. Something big had happened, and it was not part of any medical journal. And what became especially insulting was that even though Warne was in charge of the RAAF medical unit, he was not cleared for this situation—a situation he personally knew not to be based on mere rumor. Therein may be the cause of his behavior as opportunities would later present themselves.
All military hospital administrators had their own executive secretary. Dr. Warne’s was a 27-year-old civilian woman named Miriam “Andrea” Bush. Bush was a graduate of New Mexico State College at Los Cruces, where she majored in business administration. During WII college campuses were principal recruiting centers for the FBI, and young women like Bush saw the allure of such a lifestyle. That lifestyle required one to be unmarried, in no relationship, and free to be assigned most anywhere in the country. According to Bush’s family, she specialized in intelligence, which would explain why she was hired by the military for a Top Security job at the RAAF after the surrender of Japan.
Now, one item of crucial importance needs to be emphasized here: The RAAF hospital in 1947 did not have a morgue. That is precisely why the base had a contract with a private mortuary: the Ballard Funeral Home. The city of Roswell did not have its own coroner at that time, so it relied on Chavez County to provide such assistance. All reports of extra security and the presence of outside medical personnel took place at the exact time of the purported crash of the flying saucer outside of town. If civilian fatalities were involved, they would have been sent directly to one of Roswell’s two funeral homes. The other was LaGrone, and both it and Ballard are still in business today.If there were military fatalities, they would have gone first to the base hospital and then to the private mortuary. Curious phone inquiries were made to the Ballard Funeral Home regarding the availability of children’s caskets. This was a rather bizarre request on the face of it, but even more so coming from a facility without a morgue—and, more importantly, no children were ever reported to have died from any cause on the base during the entire month of July 1947. Why the need for child-size caskets? Dry ice was called in from Clardy’s Dairy in Roswell during this same period of time. Subsequently, there were follow-up calls to the mortician asking questions about recommended embalming techniques that would be the least detrimental to biological tissue and bodily fluids. Something big had happened, and it appeared that the RAAF hospital had in its possession a number of bodies beyond the realm of standard and regulated state law. In any event, the absence of a morgue notwithstanding, the base hospital would have to temporarily serve for whatever “bodies” superseded legal protocol.
It was dinnertime one evening during one of the days highlighted by all of those strange circumstances when Miriam Bush arrived at her parent’s home from a rather unsettling day at the base hospital. She sat down to eat in the dining room with her mother and father, who was the first chiropractor to set up a practice in Roswell; her brother, George; and her sister, Jenny. Many years later, both George and Jenny recounted how upset their sister became as she pushed her food aside. She became panic-stricken as she started to weep uncontrollably and raced toward her bedroom. The entire family had great respect for her employment at the base. Did she lose her job? A close friend? George sensed something worse—more sinister. “Fear seemed to overcome her,” he said. Dr. Bush reacted immediately and he went to her aide.
He found his daughter lying on her bed as she continued sobbing. Finally, her father was able to calm her enough to learn what was distressing her so terribly. The story she would confide was told between tears and near-shock. It all would sound like a bad dream, but her emotional behavior was all too real. It was something she was never prepared for. None of them were. This nightmare was for real. Slowly, she was able to verbalize exactly what the cause of it was.
She had been performing all of her regular duties at the hospital earlier that day, but grew more and more curious about all of the additional personnel who seemed to be relieving the regular staff. So when her boss, Dr. Warne, took her by the arm and led her aside, she expected either an explanation or that she, too, would be dismissed for the day. Instead, whether out of frustration from being left out of all the commotion or merely just the human desire to share all of the excitement with one of the few local staff on hand, Warne cautiously walked her to the examination room. Upon entering, surroundings that otherwise would have been quite familiar to Bush demonstrated something she did not anticipate. She was immediately taken aback to observe a number of bodies on gurneys in the middle of the room. But something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong. At first she quietly cried out, “My God! They’re children!” But she soon realized that their body size was the only child-like quality. Their skin was grayish to brown in tone, and white linens covered most of each figure. But the heads—the heads were too large. And those eyes, those large eyes that wouldn’t shut. “Those staring eyes,” she cried. Panic started to quicken her heart rate, and then it happened: “One of them moved!” All her father could do was hold her and listen in total disbelief as she wept. He was aware of all the talk in town about the crashed spaceship outside of town and the crew of little men. But now it had touched his own family, and there was little if anything he could do to remedy the pain in his daughter’s mind. Eventually she would cry herself to sleep, though one might argue whether sleep would serve as any respite. Mental exhaustion was more likely reason.
Mornings can be a blessing or a resumption of the same pain experienced the night before. Miriam’s professional training tried to engage and, with little thought, her fear grew more and more into anger at her boss. “Why did he have to show me something so upsetting?” became her primary motivator for returning to confront Dr. Warne. But just as important, the entire town of Roswell was abuzz with all the talk about the crashed flying saucer and the small men who piloted it. Only the base south of town could provide the answers, and only the hospital knew the whole truth. The morning newspaper carried headlines about all the excitement being over some old weather balloon. How silly, she thought.
Much had taken place overnight while Miriam played the same scenario in her mind over and over again. Maybe she imagined that the next time all that disturbed her would somehow magically change. Base personnel, who had forgone sleep, dealt with the reality that commanded their full attention: A temporary morgue was hastily set up, a full-scale recovery operation was taking place at another site further to the northwest of town, and another body site was located. Most all of the clandestine activity at the hospital was on hold at least for the time being—as though nothing big had ever happened. The day was Wednesday, July 9th, and Miriam’s fate for the rest of her life was about to be sealed.
As did so many others who were merely performing their duties at the RAAF, Miriam immediately became suspect. Any base personnel and employees who saw anything out of the ordinary had to be warned of the consequences of speaking out of turn, and the traumatized secretary was no exception. Her brother, George, somberly described to us her demeanor that evening, as she said, “I am never to say another word about what I saw. None of you ever heard me say anything about it,” she chided them. According to her brother and her sister, Jenny, she displayed all the symptoms of being subjected to heavy-handed threats. She would become more and more paranoid about the entire ordeal. Yet she couldn’t share even her worst fears with the very family who also knew the truth. There was nothing any of them could do and certainly nothing any of them could prove. The entire situation became rather hopeless. Best to do just as the military sternly advised—never to say another word, as though it never happened. In many ways Miriam could then try to convince herself that it was nothing more than a nightmare. Unfortunately for her, the images of what she witnessed in that examination room were etched in her very psyche, and those who observed her realized she wouldn’t let it go. She would need to be watched.
No one ever questioned Miriam’s truthfulness, and she refused to ever discuss the incident again. Her fear and paranoia were two-sided: both the haunting images of what she experienced and the concern for government reprisal. But it had also made a lasting impression on her brother. When George married Patricia, it was one of the very first private pieces of family history he confided to her. Sadly, no one in Miriam’s immediate family was able to penetrate the wall of silence built around her. Whatever she saw in that hospital examination room in 1947 tormented her relentlessly. She would marry within a year—someone she had just met—move to California, and try to forget the unforgettable.
After nearly 40 years of a loveless, childless, “arranged” marriage, she would finally file for divorce in 1987. A tremendous weight was lifted off her shoulders; she was not distraught or depressed about the failed relationship. Ironic that she was casting aside part of her past—which all began in a Roswell hospital room back in 1947. Such was the distinct impression from her sister-in-law, Pat, who spoke to her over the phone on a regular basis. Within months of the marriage breakup, Pat sensed a subtle change becoming the focus of each new conversation: Miriam was becoming increasingly paranoid, according to Pat. She was deeply concerned about being watched and followed, which, to Miriam’s sister, Jenny, all seemed to be connected in some way to 1947 and the objective of a 40-year marriage to a gay man. It appeared that shadowy figures had taken his place, albeit from a distance.
During December 1989, Patricia Bush would receive another phone call from Miriam, but it would be the last time anyone would hear from her. She had become obsessed with the fear that someone was spying on her day-to-day activities. Nothing Pat could tell her would alleviate her dread. Still, no one in the family suspected that time was about to run out for Miriam.
The very next day, Miriam registered into a motel just north of San Jose, California, in the small town of Fremont. If she had no intention of drawing any attention to the family, she mistakenly checked in using her sister Jenny’s name. She was unaccompanied, and no one saw her again until the next morning. The coroner’s report concluded that she had taken her own life by wrapping a plastic bag around her head, a rather prolonged and gruesome way to commit suicide. In fact, statistically it is seldom done in that manner. What was not publicized was that there were fresh scratches and bruises all over her arms. Other suspicious details, such as no prearrangements with her insurance providers or a suicide note, were not considered by investigators. Jenny believed that her sister was sending a message by the use of her name. “Something was not right, and it was her way of letting us know,” she remarked. Miriam’s own suspicions and fears may not have been totally unfounded. The truth she possessed about Roswell died with her—death being the ultimate silencer.
Within a few years of Miriam’s death, investigator Victor Golubic tracked down Dr. Jack Comstock, who had served as the RAAF chief surgeon in 1947. Not only didn’t Dr. Comstock have any memory of the unearthly patients, but he also had no memory of former hospital associate Miriam Bush—denial being the second greatest silencer.
© Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt. Excerpt is printed with permission of the publisher New Page Books. ISBN: 978-1632650191 List Price: US $16.99.
This work includes a newly released excerpt from the million-year-old manuscript widely known as the Book of Dzyan. The book was originally written in Senzar, a Sanskrit-like language, and was translated by Dr. Zinovia Dushkova in 1995.
Far back in the 19th century, the Great Masters of Wisdom permitted Madame Blavatsky, the world-renowned founder of the Theosophical Society, to study the most ancient manuscripts secretly stored in Tibet. Her highly influential works based on those sacred texts have received praise from numerous prominent individuals including Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and even Elvis Presley. In 1889 Helena Blavatsky stated, “During the last quarter of every hundred years an attempt is made by those ‘Masters,’ of whom I have spoken, to help on the spiritual progress of humanity in a marked and definite way.” Blavatsky, who has made accurate predictions in advance of many scientific discoveries, was correct once again.
A century later in 1995, the Masters of Wisdom allowed Dr. Zinovia Dushkova to translate twelve new stanzas from the mysterious Book of Dzyan. However, unlike the nineteen stanzas of Dzyan published in Blavatsky’s masterwork, “The Secret Doctrine,” the new excerpt is translated in simple and understandable language accessible to those who are unfamiliar with theosophy.
The twelve stanzas included in “The Book of Secret Wisdom” embrace not only the past, but also the present and future of both humanity and Earth. Furthermore, this new material shines light on the development of the solar system and the universe as a whole. Thus, these stanzas, supplemented with exclusive material available in the book, enable the reader to find answers to questions such as:
- What is behind the processes currently affecting our planet, which manifest daily in anomalous weather, global warming and natural disasters around the world?
- Why does it seem that more and more evil is appearing every day, manifesting itself through growing conflicts all over the world?
- What really happened in 1999 and 2012?
- What is the great event expected to occur in 2017, and how does it depend upon the collective will of humanity?
- What awaits humanity in the immediate future?
- Why does it seem that time is speeding up?
- What is the famous Philosopher’s Stone?
- Why people are dying, and is there a chance to be immortal?
- When will Armageddon happen?
- What is the mission of our planet and of every being in the universe?
Dr. Dushkova encourages readers to examine the evidence presented and then listen to their own heart alone. She states, “When you feel the words which are voiced here in the depths of your own soul, you may listen to yourself and trust what is said.”
“The Book of Secret Wisdom” is set for an October release by Radiant Books, and will be available for sale to retailers in the United States, the United Kingdom and worldwide through Ingram Content Group.
Zinovia Dushkova, Ph.D., is an award-winning author, poet, philosopher, historian and traveller who has devoted more than twenty years to the acquisition of the secret wisdom underlying all known religions and philosophies. Her research has taken her to remote Buddhist monasteries and sacred abodes hidden within mountains and deserts in Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia and India, where she has studied ancient manuscripts inaccessible to Western researchers. Dr. Dushkova has written approximately forty works of spiritual and ethical content published in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and France. For more information, please visit her website at: http://www.dushkova.com/en.
A lifelong practitioner and teacher of magic and strategic sorcery, Jason Miller has added to his bestselling titles with a new guide, Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic.
Miller draws upon his training in Eastern and Western mystery schools to produce a frank, comprehensive exploration of sexual sorcery as it relates to spirituality. Readers will learn how to use the moment of orgasm as a gateway to spiritual enlightenment:
- The use of sexual elixirs in alchemy and practical sorcery
- Working with sexual spirits and gods
- Dangers & delights of sex magic: fetishes, bondage, discipline, submission
- Breath work, energy work & physical postures to perform high level sex magic
- A grimoire (textbook) of sexual spells and rituals
- Gay vs. hetero sex acts
Using Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic, readers will find that sex will become their most potent and pleasurable gateway to the primordial and the divine.
From the Tantric mysteries of Hinduism and Buddhism and the inner alchemy of Taoism, to the sacrament of the bridal chamber in Christianity and the traditions of Western magic and witchcraft, sex pervades the highest and most secret and sacred teachings. This daring and tantalizing book throws provides the keys to the sexual magic that has been hidden behind these secret orders and arcane terminologies, until now.
Drawing upon his training in Eastern and Western mystery schools, Miller looks back through time at spiritual groups who have used sex in their practices.
Miller said, “It was in Nepal that I crossed the abyss and underwent the initiations I would need to do sorcery the way that I knew it could be done. A practice that integrates training for the mind/body/spirit with influences of key spiritual powers, a practice that sent me on a journey to the deepest and highest planes and states of being, and gave me the power and the mojo to change the waking world for the better. This is what my life has been about for nearly 30 years, and I want to share it.”
About the author: Jason Miller has devoted much of his life to traveling the globe to study practical magic in its many forms. He studied hoodoo in New Orleans, witchcraft in Europe and tantra in Nepal, and he is a regular contributor to Behutet, a journal of magick.
Miller is a member of the Chthonic Ouranian Temple, the Ordo Templi Orientis and the Sangreal Sodality, as well as an initiated Tantrika in the Nyingma and Bon lineages of Tibet. He is the founder and teacher of the Strategic Sorcery Training Course and Strategic Sorcery blog.
Miller is the author of Protection and Reversal Magick, The Sorcerer’s Secrets: Strategies in Practical Magick and Financial Sorcery.
About the book
Title: Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic
Pub Date: November 2014
Author: Jason Miller
Publisher: New Page Books, a division of Career Press
Format: Paperback, 6 x 9 inches, 15 illustrations
List Price: U.S. $15.99 (Can. $18.95)
Distributors: New Leaf, Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Bookazine, Brodart, Nutri-Books, Partners Book Dist.|
Information: www.newpagebooks.com, www.warwickassociates.com
Subject: Mind, Body, Spirit, Magick, Sex