Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review Received from Don McLeod

I am delighted to share the following review from Don McLeod, the author of Real Tarot: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Art

Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats
Reviewed by: Don McLeod (January 2013)

Ritual preparation has always been tricky for those in the Southern Hemisphere. Our seasonal observances vary so much from the other end of the globe. Even within our own country the differences in climate from one side of the country to the other are extreme. So, what’s the best way to celebrate the Wheel of the Year in Australia? This is the question that Frances Billinghurst has asked herself. The result is a wonderfully engaging book in which she shares her personal insights into the impact of the seasons on her local landscape. Throughout her book, Frances reminds us, “The more I relate to the land upon which I live and which surrounds me, the more I feel the pull to work in accordance with its own energies—not the energies of some distant land.”

Although Frances suggests that Dancing the Sacred Wheel is not a ritual workbook, it is obvious that she has a deep and sensitive appreciation for seasonal celebrations, and her book could easily be used as a guide to effective ritual work by solitary practitioners and covens alike. Frances says, “In following the Wheel of the Year, we can bring ourselves back in touch with the land and with Mother Earth. We can learn to move with the seasons and their natural tides. In doing this we can heal ourselves and begin working towards lessening our impact on the world.” In this book you’ll find background information about the Sabbats, and also personal insights gained by Frances about these ceremonies.

Amongst all of the information about the Sabbats there are lists of observances made by Frances about that time of the year, with suggestions for activities (such as making a Yule log) and a section detailing the inner meaning of that part of the Wheel of the Year. Recipes for food (including ANZAC biscuits!) and lists of ingredients required for appropriate incense blends are also given. And there’s a comprehensive record of correspondences for relevant gods and goddesses, candle colours, and offerings.

Each chapter on the Sabbats is introduced by a poem that expresses the changes happening in the natural world at that point on the calendar. It’s a lovely introduction to the detailed facts and observations that follow.

In this book we finally have ideas and stories relating to ritual preparation for our part of the world. For those who live in South Australia, this is a superb compendium of local knowledge, sourced by an experienced witch who has noticed the effects of the solar cycle as it unfolded in her own back yard. She has looked at the sky and the land, and she has observed the changes that are there to be seen by those who open their eyes and hearts to nature. And if you do not live in South Australia, this book is still worthwhile because it will provide incentive to look beyond the walls of your ritual area and it will encourage you to step outside and observe for yourself the changes that happen on a monthly basis. As Frances says in the introduction to her book, “My decision to share this knowledge is an attempt to inspire others to look at their own practices with the view of gaining a deeper level of knowledge and understanding.”

This is a well-researched and very thoughtful interpretation of seasonal celebrations in Australia. It’s an impressive data-base of information about the Wheel of the Year which will serve as a valuable guide to anyone with a pagan spirit.

ISBN: 978-0-646-58575-8
Publisher: TDM Publishing, 2012
Author: Frances Billinghurst

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