The Common Sense Spell Book. A Book Review

Common Sense tea

The Common Sense Spell Book

By Debbie Dawson

140 Pages, Avalible in Paper and Ebook

Bookdepostory Amazon Xlibris Publishing

This book was written by a fellow Kiwi Witch, who lives in Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand, you know the place there was a couple few large earthquakes a couple few years back.  Anways, I have never meet Debbie in person for any length of time, I think we ran into one another at a festival maybe, but we have however spoken online and argued on line to, as to you.

Now the reason I mention that Debbie is a Kiwi Witch is because the book is very distinctly Kiwi Witchcraft in character and Kiwi Witchcraft in understanding of magic in general, and this was quite a surprise for me, because I had no idea that it was a thing, well I did, I am one after all, but I had not had it pointed out in such a way.  You know how when you are in the thick of it you often can’t see, a bit like how we can’t hear our accent.  So there is such a thing as Kiwi Witchcraft, and Paganism, and I suspect there will be a post on that at some stage. But for today this is a review of Debbie, a Kiwi Witch’s book.

Kiwis for the most part are very practical people, and it would follow that Kiwi Witches are also this way, on the whole.  And I can say that this book is very strongly Kiwi because the beliefs practices and understanding of how spells and magic works is very close to my beliefs and understandings.  But then given we are both of a similar age and both had access to the same source material, that was available in New Zealand, it is not that surprising.

Debbie writes in a very practical way with some no nonsense practical advice.  The book I believe is aimed at a person who has already read several introductory books and has a handle on seasons and what they mean and are now interested in some spell work to further their understanding.  Or for someone who has already had an unsuccessful bash at spell casting and is left wondering where it all went wrong, or why it didn’t work at all.

This book will help you to understand the sometimes complexities and other time simpleness of spells along with how, why and why not something worked or didn’t work, as well as some excellent penny dropping moments.

For those who are experienced in spell work, I would say that you probably know more of what this book contains, however as a reference book, to go over as you decided on what type of spell work will be suitable, or indeed if you really need to be doing spell work, this book would be an excellent resource.

If you are looking for a book full of spells, and or exotic kiwi spells then move along because this book is more about creating your own rather than following somebody else’s recipe.

My only disagreement with this book, and it’s not really a disagreement but more something that I would of emphasised more if I had written a book like this, I would of emphasised not to manifest in negatives.  I’m not talking about cursing, Debbie does a excellent job of covering that but more about how you phrase things.  Often words like don’t, won’t have or will not, actually draw what it is that you don’t want towards you, because you are naming it.   Once when I was teaching about shielding, I forgot to emphasis this well enough, and my students ended up with nightmares.  When I inquired they had all been using negative type phrasing, eg I will not have nightmares tonight, or similar, which in turn brought on the nightmares, as they had named them, which in turn draws that which you name towards to, or so the story goes.

Common Sense

Overall this book is something I would have devoured 20 years ago when I was first starting out, especially as I began looking for something that would take me that step further down the magical track.   I did enjoy reading it, and did get useful information and food for thought.  It reminded me of how much of a Kiwi Witch I really am, and has me thinking about what it is about Kiwi Witchcraft that makes it, Kiwi Witchcraft. It will also be a interesting insight for those who are interested into the Kiwi Witches mind, so to speak. .  It will be a book that I will use as a resource when I am considering any spell work as it has all the types and styles and why-fors, and it is often good to delve into a book like this when considering any kind of spell work, helps to get the creativeness of spell work going.   It is also going to be a book that I recommended to fellow Kiwi Pagans who are looking to take that step further.  There are not very many books written by Kiwi Pagans, and this I believe is the first written by a Kiwi Witch, and it’s a good one.. yay!

So I give this book, 4 cups of tea out of 5 and a healthy doses of practical Kiwiana.

Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival, A Book I loved and Hated

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Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival; A Magical Anthropology

By Melusine Draco,

Published by Moon Books  August 2013

So how do you review a book that you loved and hated, that you were given by the publisher and that you have not quite finished, but it is time to review it anyway??

In a word, Honestly.

Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival, by Melusine Draco is written by intelligent, critically thinking witch who is polemic, which means argumentative, but in a challenging way rather than in a troll in the dungeon way if that makes sense.  To put it plainly I get the feeling that Melusine would call a spade a spade and what’s more burry you with it if you crossed her.

This has created a book about the Pagan Revival that I loved and hated, a book that I agreed with and didn’t agree with.  I spent a lot of time yelling ‘would of it killed you to put dates of publication in your references’ combine with ‘oh that is an interesting way of looking at that particularly bit of history’ and ‘oh I didn’t know that, most interesting.’  Over all this is a book that challenged me and best of all, made me think which are the types of books that I enjoy reading and get the most out of.

Right from the introduction you very quickly get a sense that Melusine is a person who has very little time for the ‘love and light brigade’, nor fools.  So it is obvious to see where the author s’ filters are, how she sees the world is always useful to know, well I like to know this, as it helps with understanding the wider context of the book.  The down side to this is that there is a somewhat of a condescending tone in places, and some of what this writer says can be very challenging.  However having said that, I do enjoy having my assumptions challenged, in a way where I can see a new viewpoint and decided for myself which one I think is more accurate.  The upside though is that is not the over explained flowery prose that is sometimes found in other books.

The author has obviously had years of practical experience as well as being well read of the subject of Modern Paganism,  Magic, Witchcraft, History and a passion for the topic, which shows in her writing.  In the introduction Melusne sets out an interesting frame work of how she sees Pagan information, knowledge, wisdom and understanding, which she further breaks down into ways of approaching knowledge, wisdom and understanding, animistic, eclectic, syncretic and synergetic .  Like I said this book has much food for thought content and things that make you think about what you are reading.

traditional witchcraft and the pagan revival

Melusine starts out examining the roots of Modern Paganism and its revival, in a similar way to most other books on Modern Paganism, by starting in the ancient past.   And while she does reference the material she has used to paint this particular angle, there is a distinct lack publishing dates in the referencing.  There is not even dates of publication for the various source materials and books that in the bibliography. For me this becomes an issue because what was truth, several hundred years ago,  is no longer truth today.  Lets face it was once believed as truth that the earth was flat, and so things were understood with in that context until Galieo said no it was round and Collumbus and his ship did not fall of the edge of a flat earth, then the contexts changed.

This too is true of the Pagan revival, when Gardner first wrote Witchcraft Today, Wica and Witchcraft was an ancient fertility mystery cult with an unbroken line, whereas today we understand that it is not as simple as that.  Instead it is understood that the belief and practices of magic, in a variety of forms from folklore, and legend has always been about in various forms, and that there have always been people who have unexplainable gifts, all of which you can read about in Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival, just remember that it is missing the contextual giving dates.  See I told you I loved and hated this book.  Ok I will stop ranting about dates now.. *coughs*

Melusine writes an accessible book while not dumbing down the subject down so much as to make it twee.  She also challenges the reader and commonly held beliefs about Modern Pagan History, but again not so much that you are unable to disagree or come to your own conclusions. In several places the author provides several view points and opinions for the reader to mull over, and think about.  Which is most excellent.

Sprinkled amongst the pages are tantalising snippets of information, such as the idea/theory that it was the Black Death that instigated the change of approach the church to convert the population to a more aggressive plant, which ultimately led to the witch trials.  A most interesting theory that I would like to know more about.  And it is this snippet and others similar that temp the reader to further study into the history of not just Modern Witchcraft and Paganism but also historical Witchcraft.  It is this aspect of the book that I love.  I love books that encourage me to think, questions, and that challenge my strongly held beliefs and understandings of Magic, Witchcraft, History, and Paganism in General.

So do I recommend this book for purchase, yes, it is intelligent, well written, thought provoking and accessible.  Melusine, has researched her topic very well and come to some interesting conclusions regarding history and the Pagan revival.  Just remember that publication dates of source material give context and read it with a critical eye and questioning thinking mind.  I am also quite curious as to the authors other books in the Traditional Witchcraft series, to see what she writes like about a practical topic rather than a historical one, as she strikes me as someone who walks her talk, and doesn’t just write about it.

I have several Moon Books on my reading pile, now which I will be looking forward to reading, as this publisher is picking interesting and thinking authors to publish surely a boon to pagan publishing.. and what’s more they sent me copies of three books to review.. yay me..

This book gets 4 cups of tea out of 5, cause of not having the dates..  and you can pre order it at Amazon

cup of teacup of teacup of teacup of tea

The Māori Oracle By P.A Minnell a Review

Maori Oracle

Right from the start I will tell you that I know PM Minnell, and have known her for years, I know her as Polli with an I because I am Polly with a Y, I meet her at a pagan festival many many years ago and while we have not meet face to face very often we certainly hit it of and I consider her to be a friend.  I was thrilled to learn that she had created these cards and book and was having them published all professional like.. how exciting is that.  So as soon as they came out and I was able I ran of to my local metaphysical store and ordered a set.  I was very curious as to what they would look like in person, so to speak, I had seen several of the image on Polli’s face book and was intrigued.  And I have to say very attracted to the New Zealandness.

I was a little surprised that these cards and deck had been picked up by an overseas publisher, but also not surprised as New Zealand is in comparison to most other places a tiny county a very long way off from anywhere, and we have a considerably small population.  But I know that these cards will sell well on an international market as they are and will be for many exotic seeming.  To me they are not so exotic so much as homely.. If that makes sense? *ponders this*  What makes these cards standout is that Polli has strong Māori heritage so is speaking from experience and the way these cards are presented in the book people weather they use them for divination purposes or not will be learning some very interesting things about Māori language, spirituality, mythology, culture and customs, all of which is difficult to extract out in any single thing because they are very tied into the Māori world view and cosmology.  If you want to know more then you are just going to have to purchase the set and read the book for yourselves. My deck and book arrived just after the winter solstice, well into the season of Matariki, which is the Māori New Year and a very apt time of year to receive this particular deck.

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There are 58 Cards with pictures of native bird, plants, trees and Māori objects, so even if you never use the cards for readings just looking at the various pictures and reading the corresponding page in the 80 page booklet they come with, you will be learning new and interesting things about Māori Culture and New Zealand. 

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I really like the box these cards come in,  magnetic closure.  The box is designed to keep the cards in rather than just being packaging, and I have to say that is most excellent.

The Cards themselves are a good size for shuffling and they feel nice in the hands, they are glossy so strike me as being quite hardy and will last a long time with regular use, which I think is important for any oracle type deck.  The back ground of these cards is green with a lovely Māori carving motif also in green, which brings out the actual pictures of what the card is nicely.  I like the drawings of these cards, it looks like they were hand drawn on parchment paper and then digitised and made into cards.  This lends a very kiwi ingenuity feel to the deck while the artwork remains lovely and appealing to look at. 

The book is written in a very accessible way, with an excellent pronunciation guide, and sections on spirituality, ancestors, [tipuna] and a very detailed section on how to treat these cards, which I found very interesting, things that I am accustom to mostly, *smiles*.   Polli points out that you do not have to follow what she has written exactly, but instead points out that these cards and probably other decks of divination cards that you own are Tohunga, a sacred treasure and should be treated as such, whether you follow the Māori traditions as instructed in the booklet or you have your own way of honouring them, or use a tradition from you own ancestry, the important thing is to acknowledge that they are special, sacred, they are set apart from the everyday world.

I also enjoyed the various myths and mythology that is associated with each of the cards explanations and the brief but evocative bits of mythology found at the beginning of the book and through out it really.. it adds a nice mystical? Magical? And for me homey feel to it.

So reading these cards

“All Knowledge, in Maoirdom, is said to come from three baskets called Nga Putea Wananga” and it is a three card spread that is used with the Māori Oracle.  The first Card/Basket representing Knowledge of the physical world, the second Card Basket represent customs laws and what is right, and the third card/basket about magical and spiritual knowledge.  For me these will be a deck of cards that I use in situations when I need some very personal and gentle clarification, and or understanding, for when I needed some gentle but a deeper understanding of my own magical path, as a Witch in New Zealand. 

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From the booklet I get the impression that these cards are designed for personal work rather than being a deck that is pronominally used to read for other people.  This is not to say that they can’t be used to read for others. It is also important to note that while the author has very strong suggestions about how to treat these cards, and work with them, Polli does go on to say that these are just suggestions what I understand about what is empathising is about treating these cards as special, sacred, and about how you can connect with your ancestors.  About the only thing I can see wrong or wish about this book and deck is that I wish the book was longer.. I enjoyed reading it, there was much food for thought.

All in all I have enjoyed reading the book and having a little titu [play] with the cards.  Like I said I will be using these when I am looking for some clarity on specific problem solving, they will not be an everyday kinda deck, they feel too special for that.  These cards will live in their lovely study box, along with a reading cloth, because that feels right.  These cards are also going to be most helpful as I begin research into something called Kiwiana, and its magical applications? But that is for another post.

Like the back of the box says these cards and booklet will be useful for anybody in any culture, and along the way you will lean some unique things about Māori Culture and spirituality and a little more about Aotearoa ♥

I give this oracle deck 5 cups of tea out of 5!  A most excellent oracle deck!

cup of teacup of teacup of teacup of teacup of tea

This review was written during a swarm of very rattling earthquakes 

here in Wellington.. just so you know.. O.O

Kissing The Hag: Book Review

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Kissing the Hag: The Dark Goddess and The Unacceptable Nature of Women
By Emma Restall Orr 2009

Kissing The Hag

Often books come into my life when they are needed, and other times I by a book and it takes me several months or years before they get read.  This one is a little of both, I knew of its existence,   when it was first published back in 2009 but never really felt the need to buy it until recently and it is one that I pretty much started to read straight out of the box.

This book is not a how to book, nor does it have rituals, rites, spells or seasonal correspondences, and despite its content and title with the Dark Goddess in it, is not strictly a pagan book either, but then it also is. ..  given that it is written by a practicing druid priestess.   I am also reluctant to call this a self-help book, as it is not telling you that you are broken so much as helping you to more fully experience the different aspects of who you are, as a woman.

This book is about the often unspoken aspects of woman’s nature both the powerful and dangerous sides to the often unacceptable nature of women.  Emma writes about these unacceptable natures in the form of Dark Goddesses, I guess you could class them all as Hags in one form or another.  Emma also uses coarse language in places, using it as an effective tool to get you away from your indoctrinated thinking, and start thinking about difficult topics from a completely different angle.

I have to admit that when I first started reading this book, I was several pages in when I stopped and asked. “ What the blazes is this weird incomprehensible drivel?” however after a few more pages I was beginning to understand that it was not incomprehensible drivel but rather, it is more theological psychological and spiritual in nature.  Emma writes about concepts that will both enlighten and challenge how as a women you understand yourself, and I suspect as a man how you perceive and understand women.  She also writes about  The Bad and The Ugly as society has taught us it is, and how confidence, power and sense of self can be found within the different aspects of these various Dark Goddess types, which are so often seen as The Bad and The Ugly, so to speak.

The Blood, The Virgin, The Whore, The Mother, The Bitch, The Witch, The Old Bag and The Hag these Goddesses of both Light and Dark, as they have aspects of both can been seen in each of us as we go from birth, living, and on towards Death.  Emma posits that they are not always tied up with ageing as we can be pretty much any of them, but she also posits that they do represent women as we do age.

All in all I am very glad that I stuck with this book and have read it, it has certainly been timely, and has given me some spot on concepts and understandings to work through in my own life. I want to recommend this book for all women, but also for pretty much all genders.  I also want to say that it is not a book that should be read quickly, as it can take some time and quiet contemplation to unravel each sections meaning and how that relates to you.  And another  thought, I wonder how a trans-woman would find this, if it would be useful in opening them up more fully to being a woman, embodying the various goddesses both dark and light?

So no this is not a heavy magical occult tome, but it is magical and has an energy that challenges but also comforts.  Kissing The Hag  is a book that will make you think.  It is a book that will confuse you in places and it is a book that will definitely challenge you in interesting and somewhat unusual ways.  Part of me wants to say not for the faint at heart, but you know what, if you are faint at heart, read this book because it will help you understand how to be strong of heart.

I give this book 4 cups of tea out of 5

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Emma’s Website  Druidnetwork Bio   Book Depository

Dancing the Sacred Wheel, By Frances Billinghurst

Dancing the Sacred Seasons 013Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats
By Frances Billinghurst
TDM Publications, 2012
300 Pages

There is a certain style of writing about the various topics of witchcraft and magic that I look for when reading books about, well, Witchcraft and Magic, which is difficult to pinpoint exactly but I can tell you that several of the books I have been reading lately have it. It is something to do with how they make you think about the topic at hand, and how they provide you with further things to think about, or as I like to call it food for thought.  It is important for not just books but podcasts as well.. .. but I digress.

I am very pleased to say that Dancing the Sacred Wheel by Frances Billinghurst also has this quality that I enjoy in good pagan themed books.  Which is most excellent as it can always be tricky to review a book of someone that you kinda know.  I met Frances way back in 2003 at a Pagan festival here in New Zealand, and needless to say we got on like a house on fire, in the pavilion of judgement, and at the table of dissension.  *coughs*.  There is now a seat of sarcasm, but that is a different story from a different Festival.

Dancing the Sacred Wheel is a book about the Pagan Seasonal Wheel as it is celebrated in South Australia, along with information about Aboriginal seasons for the different temperate climates of Australia.  This should be interesting to anybody who practices in a country that is not England.  I do not mean this to insult people from England, but instead to encourage those who have been asking ‘why do the seasons in the country where I live not fit the Pagan Seasonal Wheel I read about in all of these books?’, even if you live in a Northern Hemisphere country.  This is because this book will give you a new perspective with which to perceive the seasons in the reader’s own country.  Hell, I live in New Zealand, just to the east of Australia also in the Southern Hemisphere where we cast our circles anti-clockwise and have Christmas in the summer, just like Australia, and I gained a deeper understanding of how to honour the seasons where I live.

Frances is also careful about including both Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere dates for the Sabbats.  In some ways it is a little ‘compare and contrast’ with an excellent explanation as to why we here in the southern hemisphere cast our circles starting in the east then north then west then south.  It follows the path of the sun, as our sun rises in the east, like everywhere in the world, but then tracks north, not south.

What I like about Frances’ book is the combination of historical, mythological and traditional information about each season. It is well researched and referenced, which is engaging and interesting. It encourages the reader to celebrate and practice their craft, not just read about it.  I also enjoyed the excellent referencing, so that if the reader is interested in any aspect of what Frances is writing about, finding further reading material can be done with a quick Google search, or by searching their library or online bookstore and from the bibliography at the back of the book. This is not something that you find very often in modern Pagan books…  just saying.

As well as history, each Sabbat chapter has a section on mythology and traditions. There are examples of how Frances and her coven honour the season, and an example of what they do.  This is not in the form of the infamous ‘Ritual Script’ as in other books, but done in a reflective style that the reader can gain inspiration from.  Again this encourages the reader to actually do something rather than just read.  Perhaps the subtitle for this book should be ‘The book that gets you to read and practice.’?

Intertwined in each chapter as you follow the season are several traditional myths, such as the Oak King and the Holly King, and the descent of the goddess. These lead into the section about inner work for each Sabbat and season, again encouraging the reader to actually do things.  At the end of each chapter are correspondences for the relevant season which include colours, candles, scents, and items that are traditional to have on your altar for that season — a most helpful reference for the beginner and adept alike.

All of this combined in an excellent book becomes not just about the seasons as Frances and her coven celebrate them, but more about helping the reader to figure out the season where they live and the land they live in and how to honour and celebrate them.

I give this book Five cups of tea English Breakfast tea! and very worth the read no matter which hemisphere you are from.

You can purchase you copy from Frances’s website here

Edit: Alternatively you can Email Frances Directly for details of this account if you reside in New Zealand and would like to purchase a copy of my book. hooray


Magical Knowledge Book 1 Foundations, Book Review

Magical Knowledge Book 1 by Josephine McCarthy

Pagans and Magical folk have for years been crying out for advanced texts on magic.  I believe that what they are actually looking for is not so much advanced texts but deeper texts.  Texts that deepen your understanding of your path and practice at whatever level you are at.  Theological type texts that not so much answer your questions but encourage and lead you to ask questions and find your own answers through practice.

Josephine McCarthy’s book Magical Knowledge Book 1 is just such a book. It is the type of book that you will be thinking about long after you have read it and you will be reading it a couple of times.   And it will be well worth the second read.  I have always like to reread certain books after I have had a revelation or period of new understanding and I suspect that Josephine’s books will be some of those that I reach for after such a time.

Magical Knowledge Book 1 is written plainly and accessible while not dumbing down the subject matter which is a rare and wonderful thing.  This book is interesting and thoroughly thought provoking in places and it is obvious that the author is writing from a place of practice and experience, not just research.

I find it interesting that book two was released the year before book one, but having pondered writing a book on things magical and witchy I am also not surprised.  Having seen what is out there in beginner books and knowing Pagans are yammering for more advanced texts it makes sense to write a more advanced text first, so to speak. Also writing the second book first would, in my mind, give a stronger focus for the first book.  It can be difficult to write about stuff you did 20 years go and the balls-ups you made with the clarity needed for people just starting out or for those who take their magical path seriously.  So by writing book two first, in my mind it would be clearer what would be needed for book one.

There are a few typos that I saw and given that I don’t generally notice such things that means that the editor needed to play closer attention. However this does not detract from the content.  And over all I have to say this book is well written.

The first part of the book is essentially about the theology of ceremonial magic, focusing on understanding the practice for navigating the inner worlds, and meeting inner beings safely.  Starting with what Josephine describes as the Void. The Void, as I understand how Josephine has described it, is a safe space between this realm and that of the abyss and other inner realms.

Josephine is certainly thorough while giving simple but valuable exercises that build up your inner muscles in order to be fit, both in mind and body to work magic on the inner planes.

Josephine also warns about becoming too focused on one path or theme.  This I suspect would be because your vision becomes blinkered, like that of a cart horse.  It is my opinion that spending time with and studying other magical practice and theory, gives you good insight and deepens your understanding of your own practice.  It’s a contrast and compare thing, becoming focused too much on one thing can make it difficult to deepen the understanding of your own practice.

Does that make sense?

Chapter 4, Inner Contacts and Inner Beings threw me until it was made clear that it was ritual sex magic that was being discussed. I was having issues imagining the billions of beings popping into existence on this plane when people were engaged in shagging.  It was, to say the least, blowing my mind.  However, once I figured out the book was talking about ritual sex it made much more sense.

In the second half of the book, she writes about the more ceremonial types of magic and practice.  And it is kind of here that the book and I part ways, but not because what she has written is not valuable or incorrect in any way, but more because I am not a ceremonial magician.  Nor am I able to currently dedicate a room to create a temple space, as I live with two other flatmates. However, when I do set up a personal temple space I will certainly be taking into account some of what is discussed in the second half of Magical Knowledge Book 1.

Several times I have read about inner places, aka the Void and the Abyss, to discover these are places I have been before.  Places I have accidentally been or fallen into.  This book teaches how to access these places and their various beings with intent, by conscious choice and how to do so safely, without as Josephine puts it ‘blowing yourself up’.  It could be said that I have a natural talent for such things. This book has given me pause and a way of traveling to these places by choice rather than accidentally. To essentially have more control over my natural abilities despite not being a ceremonial magician in any shape, way or form.

I have the second book and will be purchasing the third one once it is released, however I believe it will be some time before I crack the covers of either, as I intend to fully integrate and study the framework of the first.  This is also one of those books that you will have to read several times, each time gaining new insight and knowledge, and I suspect that a second read will be done more slowly and with note taking.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is wishing to deepen their understanding of magic, how it works and safe ways to traverse the inner planes and meet inner contacts.  This book is not just for ceremonial magical types but also very informative for those, in my opinion who are beginning or interested in spirit work, as it has a very solid framework.  I have been using her void meditation in the mornings, and have found that communication with what I call a guide to be a lot clearer.

Overall I give this book 5 cups of tea out of 5 and recommend it for anyone who is past the beginner stage and looking to deepen and augment their own practice, whatever practice that may be.

The Wildwood Tarot

Wheee *glomps StitchwitchCottage*

Recently I won  a tarot deck from Stitchwitch Cottage which was very very exciting as it is the lovely Waking the Wild Tarot by Poppy Paylin, and I was just reading the some reviews on line, when I remembered that I had told a friend I would review the tarot cards I currently have as a practice run for reviewing her oracle card deck when it comes out some time in 2013ish, and I must say that from what I have seen so far  of my friends cards and book are going be an excellent oracle deck with a strong New Zealand focus whee.

However today I will review the Wildwood Tarot as I have been working with them exclusively over the last little while.

A Review of the Wildwood Tarot.

I was always going to love the artwork of these cards as they are by one of my now favourite artists Will Worthington.  He is the artist for the DruidCraft Tarot, Druid Animal Oracle, Druid Plant Oracle (with Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm) and the Green Man Tree Oracle (with John Matthews).

The Wildwood Tarot have been done in collaboration with Mark Ryan and John Mathews.  Now, the Wildwood Tarot has a bit of a history despite being only being published last year.  They are the remake of a very popular deck called the Greenwood, by Chesca Potter and Mark Ryan in 1996.  What made the Greenwood deck different from other decks was the replacement of all of the greekoroman/christen imagery with Pre-celtic symbolism from around Europe and Britain, heavily based in the Robin Hood myth.  You see Mark Ryan played Nasir in the Robin of Sherwood Series which screened when I was a teenager and what’s more Nasir  was always my favourite character.. I so wanted to be him when I grew up, there may have been some fangirl squeeing when I found this out! *coughs*..

I so wanted to be Nasir with two swords!

The other thing that I am really enjoying about working with these cards is that they are blunt, honest and at times brutal, it is not a deck for telling fortunes, rather it is a deck to gain perspective and sight at a deep magical level.  I have always had difficulty reading for myself as I have a tendency to shy away from the hard stuff that  or decided that I don’t like what I see therefore don’t see it.  With the Wildwood Tarot this is very hard to do, especially as I read out the passages from the book for each card.  I don’t do this when I read for others but do when I read for myself.  It’s a thing *grins*  Also when I brought the this deck I was told, so to speak that this deck was to be for my personal use only, which is very odd for me as I have always been comfortable with sharing my various oracle and tarot decks with others, but not so for this deck.  They are deeply personal and offer some very personal insights into what is happeneing or how I am feeling.  I have been doing a one card draw every day for a few weeks now, with the intent to get to know the cards more while also getting to understand myself as well.  It has been very very interesting.. remember the aforementioned blunt?  Well they are.

On a more physical level these cards are not huge, like the Druidcraft Tarot so are more easily shuffled, the card stock seems ok, but like most tarot cards will wear with use, they spread nicely and the backs of them are pretty much indistinguishable from each other.  Which is excellent for card reading. And the artwork is done in wonderful bright colours

I have both the Wildwood and Druidcraft which are by the same artists, but different authors, and I have to say that I have noticed a difference, not just in the physical art work which are both lovely, but also with the feel of each deck.  The Druidcraft seem to be lighter in a way that is difficult to explain, especially as the cards themselves are HUGE!, however there is a depth and heaviness to the Greenwood tarot that seems to draw out the secrets out of the dark.  It is in my opinion a very powerful deck.  Every deck of cards I have had over the years has felt different, and I am not just talking about what they are made from and how heavy they are but each deck, despite being bits of inanimate cardboard, have always ended up having different energy about them.  I figure this is to do with the person who owns them and how they use them, and connects with them.  Anyhoo, that may well be a topic for another post.

The artwork of the Wildwood Tarot has been drawn as opposed to painted as with Mr Worthingtons other decks but this does not detract from the beauty of the artwork on the cards themselves.  For the Wildwood Tarot Mr Worthington has stayed with initial theme of the original Greenwood Tarot painted by Chesca Potter, while managing, I believe to enhance the images and meaningful add detail.  So there while there are differences in the art work between the Greenwood and Wildwood they are still very similar.  Those that are more familiar with the Greenwood may not like what Mr Worthington has done but I find it beautiful and evocative.

Over all I would recommend this deck for people, especially if they are looking for a deck for personal work and use, are not looking for fortune telling, and they want to it to be honest.  With one caveat, if these cards and their artwork do not speak to you, do not appeal then these are not the tarot cards you are looking for.  When choosing tarot, it is important to go with a deck where there artwork speaks to you. Mmk.

Podcasts its the new Black, .. .. . Again!

i have been meaning to post this for some time.. so i figure in lew of content, or untill i manage to get the photos of my camera <– long story, and uploaded from Druid Lughnasah Camp from last weekend, with accompanying post.. you can have this instead.. enjoy!

Now for those who are about now going Podcasts, what is this Podcasts that this person is talking about i will explain.  Podcasts, are kinda like radio shows, that are hosted by, in this case Pagans, who talk in various topics, and play music.  Each Podcast has a somewhat different theme, and they are free to down load.  Although having said that i have made a habit of paying $1 each for the podcasts that i really enjoy, generally paying around $20 per year (when i have the funds.)

these podcasts are all available on Itunes, so they are easy to down load and upload on to your ipod or itouch or iphone.  They are also available to down load from the sites that i have linked, so if you don’t have a iappletoy, then you can pay them on different media player.

As a general rule most pagan podcasts have a blog or site that goes with the podcasts, where they put something called shownotes, where you can go and find the various links that they have been talking about, some music, some links to the people that they have interviewed, etc etc.

Clear as mud?  Right then on with the annotated list of Podcasts that i listen to and really like!

hosted by Damh the Bard



Frequency: Monthy

Damh is a OBOD druid, and holds the title of Pendragon of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. this has to be the podcast that pretty much got me hooked.  Damh dose a combination of good Pagan music and interviews.  He interviews people such as Ronald Hutton,(he is just lovely to listen to, such a nice speaking voice) and Pamela from the Woolshed (one of the earlier podcasts).  There are also recording from various Moots, Assemblies, Camps that are run by the OBODs.  These recording are from their music and entertainment evenings called Eisteddfod, i believe, which are awesome to listen to the Liv Torc the poet is just fabulous.

over all this podcast has some wonderful music, and the interviews provide some fabulous food for thought, about paganism in its various forms, as well as the strong spiritual aspects of it.

Standing Stone and Garden Gate:
the podcast for thinking pagans and working witches

Hosted by: Juniper and Brendan


Frequency: Monthly

This one i wrote a review for on my blog if any of you are interested. but for those who are not, then here is a little bit about this podcast.  Juniper and Bren are Canadian, so wonderful accents, and this podcast is also a combination of interviews, music, and various themed and thoughtful slots about various aspects of the pagan community and pagan spirituality.  This is defiantly a podcast with great food for thought.  Brendan is a philosopher, who has written some excellent books, the more well known being called “the other side of virtue”  you can find out about them on their website.  Juni is a HedgeWitch, who runs a website, has a blog full of wonderful articles and is very much a practising Witch.

These podcasts are quite long usually about 1.5 hours or so, but well worth the listen.  And the good thing about podcasts is that you can pause them when needed.

This podcast is full of excellent food for thought, and intelligent discussion, as well as fun and friendly chatter that make you feel like you are sitting in their lounge frowning at the squeaky chair right along with them.  One of my favourite podcasts ever..

Borealis Meditation

Hosted by: Kathleen



Frequency: montlyish

Now this is a podcast for pagans teaching them about geology, do i really need to say any more.. yay geology *is enthusiastic*.. Kathleen lives in Alaska, and is doing her PhD in geology, and really loves her topic, this shines through on this pocast, as well as her passion for geology and all things rocky.  If you are looking for information on what pretty shiny crystal does magickally then you are in teh wrong place, this podcast is dedicated to teaching pagans about the earth they live on, and goes deeper than just this rock is good for love, but more this rock comes from this family of rocks, quarts, and its colour comes from the impurities in it when it was formed, which make it this colour.. etc etc.  For some of the podcasts there are links on her site to download slide-shows, that you can watch as you listen.  My suggestion is to have a pen and notebook handy as you will want to take notes.  This is studying rocks, and geology, put into a language that is understandable and accessible.. wheee.. i just love it.

Media Astra Ac Terra

Host: Oraia the Sphinx



This awesome pocast has several different segments, one on Astra which is about astrology and astronomy so not only are you learning about the zodiac, but also deep-star objects, and various types of stars and planets that inhabit out solar system.  Another segments is the Terra one, which is as you may of guessed about the earth, and minerals contained within, gemstones and their magical usages.. as well as their structure etc etc.  Then there is general a main topic of the show.  I like this format and there is always some excellent food for thought, which is one of my favourite things about these podcasts.  Food for thought.  Yay.

Pennines in the Well




This is another of my favourite pocasts, as it has fantastic food for thought, and is a rambley discussion on the topic at hand with good magical leanings to it.  Satrun is a Canadian Witch, and has been practising for 20 years, thus she knows her stuff and i really enjoy the different perspectives, and twists and turns that is pennies in the well.  Also being Canadian and all love the accent.. mmm.. so the style might not appeal to everyone but i believe that it is well worth downloading and listening to.

New World Witchery: the search for American Traditional Witchcraft

Hosts: Cory & Lane


Frequency: Monthly sometimes more

These two hosts are looking for American Traditional Witchcraft, Cory is a  rootworker, and Lane wiccan, both lay no claim to expertise, but they are both lovely people, with southern American accents,  and boy do they research.  The blog that i have linked also has various articles about hoodoo, rootwork and of course American folklore.  This is a pretty good podcast for those that are interested in American Witchcraft, folklore, rootwork, hoodoo and other similar things.  There beliefs and practices are quite different from that of mine, which is for me what makes for good food for thought.

Elemental Castings

Host: T Thorn Coyle



Thorn is the author of Evolutionary Witchcraft and Kissing The Limitless, and is from the Feri Tradition, an American tradition that was started by Victor and Cora Anderson.  This podcast takes a tour through the five sacred elements, earth, air, fire, water, and spirit, with each podcast using one of the elements as a theme.  These pocasts usually consist of interviews with various magical people and pagans and Thorn.  These are lovely conversations, with much food for thought and a range of traditions, topics and styles.

Right, that should give you a bunch to start from, often the various podcast sites have links to other podcasts, that you can also down load.  Of course you mileage may vary as to whether or not you like the ones i have listed, as i have listed my favourite ones.


Publishing Pagan Books, Please Read.

Dear Pagan Publishers, especially you larger ones with your Capitalistic model of publishing..
The world is changing, and along with it how people and Pagan purchase books is also changing.  Now why do i think this, well let me explain.
A few years ago i was researching my masters, which was on books, specifically Modern Pagan books from 1954 to the present day.  It is called a Witches library, and being that i didn’t write  it as per university requirements I am still i guess you could say researching and seeing if some of my conclusions are coming to fruition, which i believe they are.  *ponders this*  If you want to listen to a series of talks i gave on the topic you can do so by googling “pauline lind witches library”  it is 4 recordings all about 45 minutes long or so,  however i will give you a brief overview here.
There are 4 waves or styles of books staring with Gerald Gardner’s Witchcraft Today published in 1954. Now this book and the few that followed afterwards, are what i call First Wave, and the identifying character of these books was that they were written for a coven based audience, or somebody who was soon to be involved with a coven or group, thus they do not have overt instructions, and it is expected that 1 you will read between the lines, and that 2, your coven will teach you the details of such things, like grounding and centring, raising energy etc etc.  Most of these books were published in England, with a smattering from America, although America had quite a few more books written by plucky reporters who had discovered covens of witches.*insert dramatic music here*  The other important First Wave book and the beginning of what i call bridge books is   Lady Sheba’s Book of Shadows which  introduced ritual scripts, which were a copy of the oath bound Gardnerian Book of Shadows, apart from the Flame Wars that this books caused, it also had a basic framework of rites and rituals which enabled new traditions to go forth and blossom, predominately   in America.   
The Second Wave, was strongly influenced by the books coming out of the Goddess Movement, such as Starhawk, and Z Buddapst, which I placed in the first wave but as a bridge, this was because while their focus was still on a coven based audience, there was room and allowances made if you were practising alone, and they introduced the explicit instruction but still contained enough theology and history to keep them in the first wave. So by the end of the first wave books were staring to be published that had rituals scripts and explicit instructions such as grounding and centering, breathing, drawing energy etc etc. 
Second wave books as you may have guessed where aimed at an individual based audience. This is the defining thing that separates second wave from first.    These second wave books also are mostly published in America, from around the late 70s petering of around the late 90s and early 00’s.  Having said that, there are several types of second wave books that are still being published today, mostly the introductory type of second wave, but it is lessening.  The other characteristic which is important for the Pagan publishers to note, is that these books simplified the theology and history.  It could be said that these books to a degree watered down the theology and history that could be found by reading between the lines of the British first wave books.  This was and is both good and bad, the second wave produced some good introductory books, which was lacking, however it at times simplified things a little to much, and to be honest, not much depth.  And many of these second wave books became dated very quickly.. Almost faddish, publishing houses beginning to cash in on the growing Pagan community. .. Also important note is that many of these later 90’s second wave books where written at the behest of the publisher,  again cashing in on the Pagan community and the growing public’s interest in all things magic.  This mean that a lot of what might of been good Pagan authors had to go the not so good rout in writing and researching to get their book out within the given time frame.. this in my opinion was where Pagan publishing began to lose the plot. 
Now we come to an interesting point, as it is during the end-ish of the second wave that the 3rd wave came about, larger publishing companies began noticing the success of Pagan books, Llewellyn publishers went from being a now medium sized publishing house to one that was worldwide,  and Buffy showed up on our TV screens, with a character called Willow, and a magic shop called the magic box, oh how i envied that shop, but i digress.  What Buffy did was to fuel what i call the witch hungry public, and large publishing houses jumped on the Pagan publishing bandwagon, and a slew of spell books came out.  What characterises these books from the second wave and first wave is pretty much the amount of spells and the glossiness of the paper.  Plus many of these books where set out like women’s magazines, with little or no history or theology, hell mostly they just had spells like cooking recipes.   They are however how many  young and not so young Pagans during the late 90’s and early 2000’s  got their introduction to Modern Pagan thought.  If you look at the census stats you will see a spike in the rising Pagan religious numbers.. well it is in NZ.. which coined the continual phrase in the media, “Paganism the fastest growing religion and or spirituality in the world today.”  
Now while this was happening something a little different was happening with in the Mature Pagan community itself, Pagans where asking for more, more depth, more history, more food for though and less obvious instructions and rituals scripts.  However what they were getting was the tail end second wave or what is also known as Wicca 101, and spell books.  
Now when the Buffy Series, and its off-shoot Angle finished, these Third Wave books where resigned to the $1 bargain table,  and these large publishing houses figured out they were flogging a dead horse, it was noticed that Pagans where still calling out for ‘advanced’ books
Some, less than scrupulous publishers became aware of this wanting for more ‘Advanced” Text, but what was published was far from what the Pagan community wanted.  Just because a book has Advanced in the Title didn’t actually mean that is was actually advanced. This is when Pagans began to feel stung, and for some used.  Some of the better known publishing houses lost a lot of respect and trust from the Pagan community in general during this time  Which leads us into the fourth wave.  (also, i am generalising.. i figure its a blog post, and not a book mmk)
Pagan Publishing has now come full circle with fourth wave books.  Once the’ not so scrupulous publishers’ realised that it was difficult  to pull the wool over Pagan eyes, they began looking at publishing actual ‘advanced’ Pagan books, but at the same time they had lost the trust of many from the Pagan community,  what started happening is that smaller specialists, or boutique publishing houses starting showing up, these are small independently  own publishers, who  are focused on specifically Pagan and magical type books, that are beyond that of the Wicca 101, books that are have in depth, theology, history, discussion, and specialists types of topics. No longer telling the reader what to think and how to perform certain rituals, but more about encouraging the reader to think about what is behind what they are doing.  These publishing houses are somewhat fluid, and have a tendency to come and go, but there are a few earning a good reputation. 
i have also noticed that the ‘normal’ capitalistic model of printing and selling fast doesn’t work for Pagan books, and the reason for this is pretty clear.   If you look back to where i discussed a little, the story of the early ‘advanced’ books, and the plethora of 101’s just with different titles, making so many Pagans feel like they had been fleece, dooped, at the mercy of greedy publishers, you will see why. Pagans did not like purchasing a new book on the promise that it was advanced or different from the ones they already had on their bookshelves, and they did not like feeling that the publishers were just out to make as much money as possible, at the detriment not just to them as readers, but also to the Pagan authors.   
Pagans have for the most part always been a somewhat of a word of mouth community, they took to the internet like ducks to water, and then went to Pagan gatherings and festivals, and talked to one another, discussed magic, other festivals, magic and many discussed books, what books they had read and what books where good and what books had the good stuff.  I would guess that there was even on occasion discussion on various experiences from the various rituals, meditations and practices within the books that they were reading.  This would of course lead to recommendations, and because you knew or had met this other Pagan, you would be happy with the recommendations.  in short Pagans have become discerning in their choice of books.  Also Pagans are becoming a lot more conscientiousness of where their money ends up, in the hands of the author, or the publisher?
What does this mean for you Pagan publishers.. Well it means that your books that you have published and your authors whom are writing the books, need to be of a high value, written with integrity, heart, spirit, and references, with sources cited..(Even if it is my guide said, or in my experience, because this will let the discerning Pagan decided for themselves if they believe what your guide said, or if your experience is what they also experience.)  Your authors also need to have a truck load of integrity and be honest with what they have or have not experienced.  it is easy for most Pagans to tell a book written from the heart, & spirit and one that is written just to make a buck.   
Also your wonderfully written book will not sell out within the traditional time frame of publishing books, especially if you are a first time author being published.  It is going to take some time for your book to earn its reputation and it will take time for your first time author to gain the respect of the Pagan readers.  (of course it will help it the author already has a blog, or podcast *nods*) .  It will take more than the ‘traditional’ review on Amazon or on your publisher’s website.  It takes time to read and digest a good Pagan book; it takes time for the stuff to be understood, for the rituals and practices to be tried.  Thus  it will take some time before it shows up on respected Pagan book review sites such as Pagan Book Review and Pagan Bookworm, and before it has shown up there it will of probably been reviewed on various Pagan bloggs, and journals, and then spoken about at festivals, and coffee meets, as well as coven meets. Also i suspect that reviews that are written by experienced Pagans will hold much more authority than those written by one books wonders, (Pagans who have only read one book and know it all)  or those ‘employed’ by the publishers themselves.  All of this will take time, and i am not talking a matter of weeks or months, more like a year or at the very very least six months, but i would bank on a year.   which for the way the current publishing model works, is a disaster because currently publishing and economy just dosn’t work that way.  (i believe it is changing though) however this  also means that you will need to start looking at a new economic model with which to sell these books.  The idea that books will languish on someones shop self for a year before it sells can give many people nightmares, but you know what, its going to happen with Pagan books, thus a new economic model is needed, one i suspect that is not about squeezing as much profit from the Pagan community as possible but more one that is about providing the Pagan with a service, sure make a living but do not get greedy.. *coughoppsrantingcough*
Oh and other thing that might help, the Modern Pagan community is constantly evolving, and changing, some books from the second wave are now considered dated this is because the Pagan community has grown past them.  How we view the our Pagan and magical history is a good current example.  Our perceptions of some magical practice and understand has deepened and much of our practice has evolved as well, but then Paganism and magic is a living tradition thus prone to evolving and change.   Sometimes, however a Pagan author will write a book that is a Little ahead of its time, and sometimes it can take a couple of years for the rest of us to catch up.  Also at the other end of that scale, Pagan authors will sometimes write a book that dates faster than yesterdays fish’n’chips wrapper, but that is generally an author who writes with too much ego and to many $$ in their eyes, and little understanding.  Having said that,  there are some Pagan classics, that have withstood the test of time.  These are the ones that are still recommended today and were published over 20 years ago.  And no i am not talking about Bucky’s big blue or Silvers broomstick, both which was good for their time, but is now in my opinion quite dated.  Scott Cunninghams solitary practitioner, is commonly recommended around these parts, with the caveat that it was written in the 80’s and bits are dated.. but it is still a good book.  (Do you see what i am getting at?)
So if you are going to publish Pagan books, and  there is defiantly a market out there, it is just a very cautious one.  Remember these few things:
o   It takes quite a bit of time for an author to build a reputation, a solid one, so many times the first book is excellent but the second just becomes are hash of the first with added bonus bits or it just falls short of the mark. It helps if your Pagan author has a blog or journal that they regularly post to, it give potential readers a chance to learn a bit about said author.  Remember even some of the better respected authors still find that their books sell slowly.  And the reason as i see it Pagan books will sell slowly because the Pagans themselves have become what i like to call discerning about what they purchase. 
o   Pagan Books and its economic model of selling is quite different from that of the ‘classic capitalistic publishing model.  You are going to need to come up with a new one and one that is not based in Greed, mmk.
o   It is much harder to pull the wool over the eyes of most Pagans so don’t think that just because the title is different that we won’t notice the contents is the same as all the others. 
o   Smarty Pants Pagans are where we are at, and trust is earned.  Something you will have to earn. (Smarty Pants Pagans said by Juni and Bren of Standing Stone and Garden Gate podcast first)
(As an aside, you have a very untapped market over here in little old New Zealand, we are in many ways starving for books of the advanced variety, but alas like so many things it becomes quite price prohibitive to get them here, and or any of the authors.. *sigh*.. but i digress sort of.  
Also Pagans are not always very good at saying what it is that they want, then know that they want a more in depth book, one that contains food for thought, and one that is well references and sources cited.. However when further asked about what topics, generality here will be some silence, maybe a cough or two and staring.  This is when you need to ask more focused questions about what they want.  would you be interested in a more in depth book on the subject of virtue, (actually there is a wonderful author who wrote about that Brendan Myers) *grins* would you like a more in depth book on Pagan community and it dynamics, for those who are looking at stepping out and facilitating their local Pagan community in a face to face way.. ?    (i might be projecting *grins*) You will kind of have to give the Pagans you are questioning, permission to go wild, to imagine, to get the topics they are interested in at a deeper level.  
right.. any questions? Further clarifications, Job offers?  (I’d make a great Pagan Publishing Advocate)  *nods*
*ponders things*       

Podcasts, the new black..

Standing Stone and Garden Gate Podcast Review.

Well I am currently yup to episode 4, and I have to say that it is going to be one of those podcasts that I recommend to my students, friends, and anyone who will listen. Why because it is one of those food for thought type podcasts. And yes it is a pagan podcast, but it is for the thinking pagan, good for those who are beyond pagan 101 of any flavour, there is theology, thinking, philosophy, more thinking, hedge witchery thinking, Bardic songs and poems, and thinking.. did I mention the thinking and great food for thought!
Standing Stone and Garden Gate, hosted by Brendon Myers and Juniper, both Canadian with the cutest accents, and lovely to listen to which is always important when listening to podcasts.

The podcast has several sections all of which I was pleasantly surprised by. To start with there is a short introduction that includes what incense they are using that day what it is made from and how it is used. There is usually a discussion on what they are drinking, which so far has been wine, and mead, although I am confident that they will be drinking tea at some soon enough. During this there is also random discussion which is feels very welcoming, as though you are sitting there with them enjoying a nice cuppa tea and listening in. (although I have found myself joining in the conversation once or twice, to the amusement of my office mates)

There is also a bardic section, a section on philosophy called Standing Stone that is reminiscent of Deo’s Shadow podcast, philosophical sections and just lovely, I may of have mentioned before great food for thought.

I have to admit when I listen to the first episode I was concerned about the Rants Raves and Reviews, section as I was dreading that it was going to be more bitching about those disliked in the pagan community, however I was pleasantly surprised because this section was again more food for thought, and the first rant was about gossip. Juniper and Brendon instead of spreading gossip or bitching about the pagans, instead there was a thoughtful discussion about the harm and help that gossip can cause. With the second rant about pagan elders and pagan leaders, again excellent food for thought.

Juniper has a section called garden gate, where she looks at the more practical aspects of witching, and magic. I really enjoyed episode one with the discussion on house blessing, she gave a really interesting view on house energy, cleansing and blessing.. do I need to say it again.. really good food for thought..
There is also a forum which I have not yet explored but will be doing so momentarily. Whee!

I am very excited about listening to the remaining episodes that I have down loaded and might be impatiently waiting for the next one to be produced. This podcast I recommend, and give it a 5 tea cup rating out of five tea cups.. *nods* it will defiantly be going on my list of recommended podcasts, Excellent Job Brendan, and Juniper *skips about*

And if you wanted to know below is my list of recommended good food for thought podcasts,


Elemental Castings


Standing Stone and Garden Gate

The unnamed path,

Deo’s shadow (no longer in production but if you can get copies of it from somewhere I would love to know)

Hedgefolk tails

All of these can be found on itunes, and all have their own website. Also it has been suggested by one podcaster, thorn from elemental castings, that it would be respectful if everyone paid $1 for each podcast that they downloaded. Even though these are free to down load, the podcasters themselves still have to pay costs for hosting, and their websites, not to mention recording equipment. and a$1 per episode is quite the bargin, cause many of them will for me become a part of my library*nods*..

Originally posted here