Profile for Psyche > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Psyche
Top Reviewer Ranking: 481,014
Helpful Votes: 16

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
Psyche (spiralnature.com)

Page: 1 | 2
pixel
Join My Cult!
Join My Cult!
by James Curcio
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.60
25 used & new from CDN$ 3.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A clever, insightful and daring adventure, March 23 2005
This review is from: Join My Cult! (Paperback)
I'm on the subway, there's a guy across from me reading Illuminatus!, a girl standing by the door is reading Carlos Castenada and I'm sitting there with a glowing green copy of Join My Cult! and reading bits of it to my husband on the ride to work and my mind is humming with synchronicity and the effort required to attempt to make sense of all this to my dear husband, sitting patiently, eyebrows raised incredulously. Even as I'm reading it, I can tell, this is a book to be read at least twice.
The novel opens with the introduction of Gabrael, one of the most realistic portrayals of an illuminated adept or 'Invisible Master' that I've read in a while. Shortly after we are introduced to the hero, Alexi, constantly tossing flashes of insight over his shoulder, and his best mate Ken. There is large cast of other characters, most of which seem to be direct reflections of Alexi and Ken in various shades, deliberately giving it a sort of kaleidoscope effect.
Any attempt to summarize the plot would be futile: there isn't one. At least not in the traditional sense. There are bits of story, and each scene is layered with characters and images with often profound occult significance, and it moves from one to another with no obvious thread to tie them together.
Densely packed with occult, philosophic and paranoid conspiratorial references this is not a book to be rushed through. It barely makes sense as it is. It's a kind of Cosmic Banditos meets The Illuminatus! Trilogy meets disillusioned teen angst lit, and none of these.
Join My Cult! is a clever, insightful and daring adventure into the surreal depths of the subconscious mind, and, if you'll forgive the pun, it has all the makings of a cult classic.

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
by Eric Schlosser
Edition: Paperback
181 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must read, July 22 2004
<u>Fast Food Nation</u> is not for the faint of heart with its horrifying depictions of livestock farms, slaughterhouses, the fast food restaurants and school cafeterias so many of us come into contact with, utterly blind.
Schlosser takes the blinds off the utter lack of respect for human and animal rights efficiently and devastatingly, with personal stories and anecdotes from around the world. Harassment, theft, intimidation, lawsuits without an end in sight.
One assumes with any book like this that animal rights issues will crop up, but these - cruelty to the livestock with overfeeding, overcrowding - are only the tip of the iceberg. Seemingly far worse, and more personally devastating, are the gruesome working conditions of the employees. Slave wages, injury without compensation, blatant harassment, and the sanitation conditions of the slaughterhouses, restaurants, and cafeteria are obscene. Suffice to say, I'm glad I was a vegetarian long <I>before</I> reading the book.
Yet despite all this, Schlosser remains positive, believing that that one day 'people can be fed without being fattened or deceived' Perhaps even a little over-optimistic, he hopes that 'this new century may bring an impatience with conformity, a refusal to be kept in the dark, less greed, more compassion, less speed, more common sense, a sense of humor about brand essences and loyalties, a view of food as more than just fuel. Things don't have to be the way they are' (pg 288).
Meticulously researched with a massive sixty-three page detailed notes section, Schlosser's work is quite impressive. Often horrifying, but always educational <u>Fast Food Nation</u> is an absolute must read for all.

Library
Library
by Matthew Battles
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.24
34 used & new from CDN$ 6.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unquiet indeed!, July 22 2004
This review is from: Library (Paperback)
Unquiet indeed! This little book touches upon everything from the fires of Alexandria to the book burnings of the Nazis, bargains with devils to the ghosts of literature, the purpose of libraries of the past, the present and what they may be in the future. However, as Battles states from the start, a comprehensive history of libraries throughout the ages could fill countless volumes; instead he offers a fascinating and varied history. From ancient scrolls to the Dewey decimal system Battles flits through the history of books and libraries with ease and grace.
Battles views the librarian as a modern Prometheus who is overwrought with pity and whose boon 'ultimately inspires another emotion, hubris, in the hears of human beings', to him, the flaws of the Titan are mirrored in the librarian who harbours 'pity for the low station of the reader, and hubris for the possibilities the library offers for the reformation of culture and society' (pg 120). Lofty ideals, but the stories of Thomas Bentley William Temple, Johnathan Swift, Melvil Dewey and countless others whose passion for books and their distribution have helped shape how we think of literature and libraries today.
An easy and entertaining read, and for the uninitiated, library and book-specific terminology is inserted inconspicuously into the body of the text. Highly recommended for those interested in the subject matter.

Calculating God
Calculating God
by Robert J. Sawyer
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from CDN$ 7.42

3.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, July 1 2004
This review is from: Calculating God (Hardcover)
A spaceship lands on Earth, for the first time - outside the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Not surprisingly, the book opens with incredulity "I know, I know - it seems crazy that the alien had come to Toronto, Sure, the city is popular with tourists, but you'd thing a being from another world would head for the United Nations - or maybe to Washington. Didn't Klaatu go to Washington in Robert Wise's movie <I>The Day the Earth Stood Still</I>?" (pg 13). Defying Hollywood alien-human contact mythology, one of the spacecraft's inhabitants, a six legged two armed alien, emerges from the craft, enters the museum, strolls up to the security officer at the front desk, and says, in perfect English, 'Excuse me, I would like to see a paleontologist' (pg 16). Assuming this is some kind of joke, the security officer calls Tom Jerico, resident palaeontologist specializing in vertebrae, and the book's narrator.
Not only is this alien not interested in invading Earth, it - Hollus - is here to study Earth's fossils - and she's a theist, believing "'The primary goal of modern science...is to discover why God has behaved as he has and to determine his methods'" (pg 30). This fairly blows our narrator's mind, as he is, naturally, a scientific atheist. Dear Tom spends the rest of the book terrified he will recant his position and embrace this alien perspective.
As Tom gets to know Hollus, the unlikely creature from outer space, a bit better they discuss each position, peppered with some grade ten chemistry and biology that makes for an intriguing, but, for me, ultimately unconvincing argument for the existence and nature of God.
This book is decidedly Canadian, and makes every effort to express it, from the CityTV crew to the two CSIS operatives who arrive shortly after the crew set up. CSIS lose control of the situation and afraid of causing a scene, are quickly shooed away by spectators. The Prime Minister even made an appearance: "Prime Minister Crétien did indeed come by the ROM to meet Hollus...And several journalists asked Crétien, for the record, to give his assurance that the alien would be allowed to continue his work unmolested - which was what the <I>Maclean's</I> opinion poll said the Canadian people wanted. He did indeed give that assurance, although I suspected the CSIS operatives were always still around, lurking out of view" (pg 61). Even outside of the blatantly obvious, Sawyer also mentions little things that only a native would be likely to recognize such as descriptions of specific subway stops, street names, griping about Mike Harris, and even the Octagon restaurant in Thornhill, where I grew up, gets a mention. The familiarity of the sights and sounds mentioned are enough to put a smile on the face of any Torontonian.
<u>Calculating God</u> is a fun read, easily accessible to the lay person in both science and theology, very Canadian and often very funny.

Yin Yoga: Outline of a Quiet Practice
Yin Yoga: Outline of a Quiet Practice
by Paul Grilley
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 3.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Combines Chinese mysticism with Indian philosophy..., Aug. 31 2003
Admittedly, my study of yoga has been mostly superficial: I've read a few books, but never studied with a professional teacher. However, I do enjoy the few asanas (poses/postures) that I do practice regularly, and was glad to receive an opportunity to expand on them.
Grilley combines Chinese mysticism with Indian philosophy to create yin yoga, incorporating the Modern Meridian Theory of Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama and Dr. James Oschman. This theory postulates that the meridians run through the connective tissue of the body, representing the yin energy, whereas the muscle tissue represents the yang. Included are several colour diagrams of the body and connective tissue to illustrate this point. The main difference between what Grilley calls 'yang yoga' and 'yin yoga' is that the postures in the latter are held longer, with the muscles relaxed, rather than the straining of 'yang yoga'.
A large variety of poses are illustrated with photographs and detailed explanations on the benefit and suggestions for the novice and more advanced student, giving a range in the degree of difficulty. Three sample routines are included with various emphasis on spine, hips and legs and then a combination. The sample routines are arranged in such a way that the transition between them feels smooth and natural.
Several sitting postures are detailed as well, with brief descriptions of the chakras, and a variety of pranayama and meditation techniques, including Sushumna Purification, chakra and kundalini meditation, Bija or "seed" mantras, etc.
Regarding chakras, Grilley brings up an excellent point often overlooked:
'When trying to describe where a chakra "is" one is in a dilemma. Common language suggests that they are physically located in the spine but the reader should bear in mind that this is both true and false. A "broken heart" is a real experience that indeed seems cantered in the heart but that is not where the feelings "are". The chakras have a physical correspondence but they are more than physical. Bear this in mind when reading about "where" a chakra "is". Don't be limited by only physical conceptions.' (pg. 93)
I found the practical section to be effective and the theory is as sound as any. This is definitely a book I value, and suggest it to anyone looking for a different perspective on yoga.

Steal This Book
Steal This Book
by Abbie Hoffman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
28 used & new from CDN$ 7.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary work of its time, July 9 2003
This review is from: Steal This Book (Paperback)
Steal This Book was a revolutionary work of its time, written by Hoffman in jail, a manual for the revolution that was supposed to come, but didn't.
Though absolutely no respect is given to those in law enforcement, Hoffman does preach respect for other revolutionaries and those who are merely the employees of those you're ripping off. A thoughtful revolutionary.
Learn how to get virtually everything your anarchistic little heart could desire free: food, clothing, furniture, land, entertainment - the usual gear, but also ranging to the more bizarre: such as free elk or buffalo - even ghosts!
Advice on demonstration fashion necessities such as clothing, helmets, pads, gas mask and more. What to buy, what to look for, where to buy. Legal advice, shop lifting, hot to build various bombs out of every day household materials - aided with helpful diagrams and illustrations. Numerous black and white photographs illustrate ways to rip off the system and aid the revolution. Nifty advice on drug selling, buying, growing and giving it away.
Also included is a brief biography of Hoffman, giving you further insight into the creative and inspiring mind behind his words, and a forward by Lisa Fithian and Al Giordano, other revolutionaries who aided Hoffman in his cause.
Though some techniques and stores/centres are outdated, this is still a pretty spiffy tome Written in an accessible and inspiring tone, this book is often quite funny at times, if only from the sheer shock value of what he proposes. Valuable as a historical document of its times, as well as a guide for many ways you can still rip off the system.

The Forest of Souls: A Walk Through the Tarot
The Forest of Souls: A Walk Through the Tarot
by Rachel Pollack
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 58.43

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent addition to any Tarot library, July 9 2003
This is the first book by Rachel Pollack I've read, she's written a few others which have been highly acclaimed - and after reading this excellent book, I can understand why.
Pollack opens with a description of the various histories and mythological guesses at the origins of the Tarot, combining it with its known history, and personal experience. Spirituality, symbols, myths and archetypes are common themes explored in this book as Pollack approaches the decks in a more spiritual rather than divinatory light.
The text is beautifully accompanied by a variety of black and white illustrations of various Tarot decks, many of which I've never seen before. She examines the commonalities found within them, and explains much of the mythology and reasoning behind such images. Pollack relies heavily on the Shining Tribe Tarot she created, obviously as that symbolism resonates best with her understanding.
There are methods of asking questions of the Tarot that she seems to feel others would find heretical. Coming from a chaos magick background myself, I can't quite understand why, though I've found my work enhanced by her suggestions. She expands upon the traditional spreads listed in every other book with spontaneous questions and insights of her own. Previous to reading Forest of Souls, my Tarot readings were much more ridgedly structured. Ms. Pollack has given my practice a much needed breath of fresh air, allowing for much more creativity and spontaneity in my readings.
An excellent book for expanding one's thought on traditional histories and practices of Tarot, highly recommended to anyone with an interest in Tarot.

SpellCraft for Teens: A Magickal Guide to Writing & Casting Spells
SpellCraft for Teens: A Magickal Guide to Writing & Casting Spells
by Gwinevere Rain
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.40
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Gives the young reader an excellent place to start, June 17 2003
This book is rather unique in that it is written by a member of the audience it is intended for, Gwinevere Rain is a teen witch herself, she understands the perspective of who she is trying to reach, and so approaches the subject in a different light than an adult may. She was raised by Catholic parents, though the religion was not enforced, her personal exploration of Wicca started with Greek myths as a child, and then carried on learning more from the Internet, where one witch suggested Cunningham's 'A Guide For the Solitary Practitioner', where she realized she had found a path that finally felt right, Wicca. A familiar story for many.
The preface sets the tone for the book, making it quite clear from the beginning that Gwinevere is a Wiccan witch and she approaches witchcraft from that point of view. Simple spellcraft with simple ingredients, she notes that creating your own spells can be more effective because you put your own energy into it from start to finish, but also takes into account that it is difficult to do when you're just starting out. She offers an interesting and effective solution to this problem, giving the reader various original incantations and chants that can be incorporated into a spell as well as suggestions to use and modify them. She lists reasons why not to use a spellbook and alternatives that may work for a teen just starting out.
She makes an informed distinction between Wicca and witchcraft that I share, noting that Wicca is a contemporary religion, a reivison of older roots. She understands that there is no direct evidence to an ancient secret cult of witches, but that witchcraft is 'the art and practice of Magick' (pg. 8). She also marks that some still do consider witchcraft to be a religion for various reasons and allows ambiguity on that history, but for her purposes, witchcraft is 'the magickal aspect of Wicca'.
However, I find Rain's definition of magick to be rather simplistic and niave, defining magick as 'the art of using positive energy to focus your will and create positive and useful change'. While not a terrible definition, especially for novice teens, not every magickal act is intended to be positive - though those presented in this book are. While it's good advice to persue magick with a positive intent, ignoring the negative possibilities of magick can be foolish and even dangerous.
Rain responsibly lists some important safety tips to take into consideration when using candles and/or incense, as well as ensuring that you have a parent's permission before setting the house on fire.
In fact, her attitude towards parental awareness and involvement in general is also very responsible. Her advice regarding coming out of the broom closet at first struck me funny because she recommends starting with telling a friend or sibling first, but I can see where she is coming from. It can be difficult to lay it on your parents to start with, you may be unsure of how they will react, and it's easier to start with someone closer to your age and maturity. They may ask questions your parents may echo, and you will already have prepared responses, and not be left at a loss. Rain also says if your parents object strongly to your becoming a Wiccan and/or a witch, to respect their decision and wait the few years until you can legally be considered an adult, and are able to make your own decisions.
This book gives the young reader an excellent place to start and a list of books for further reading to continue researching, as well as a note on finding supplies in your area. A great book to pick up for a curious young teen

Chaos Monkey
Chaos Monkey
by Jaq D. Hawkins
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 36.22

4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent follow up, June 17 2003
This review is from: Chaos Monkey (Paperback)
An excellent follow up to her first book, <u>Understanding Chaos Magic</u> which discussed the history and basic associated practices. <u>Chaos Monkey</u> takes the reader (and practitioner) a step further - though a beginner can pick up from this volume alone easily enough. Further practices and mechanics are discussed more in depth.
To start things of, Hawkins presents the concept of being 'born to magic', which has always rested uneasy with me, a firm believer in setting one's own destiny, not some external force directing with an unseen hand toward one path or another, even in the starting phase.
Hawkins has constructed a simple, but lovely banishing ritual: 'The Centre of Chaos Banishing' (pg. 35), which I used with some success. I like the alternate symbolism used, the assignments different for the elements and quarters, using British Hereditary Witch symbolism rather than the apparently 'traditional' Middle Eastern correspondences most Wiccan and neo-pagan groups use today.
She gives excellent advice regarding basic techniques, and how they should be maintained, even for the magickian who considers hirself a master. This is something often skipped over, or perhaps assumed, in many books (which she notes), so it's nice to have this little reminder.
A strange sort of balance is described, especially coming from a noted chaos magickian. I myself am not of the mind that the Universe is balanced, magickally or otherwise. I suppose it comes back to the saying 'if you ask 10 chaos magickians what chaos magick is, you'll get at least 13 different answers', it applies to nearly everything.
The text is beautifully complimented by artwork from her partner, Anton Channing. Loads of illustrations of a cheeky little monkey with prominent fangs, a cute, but dangerous reminder.
There is much that will be considered familiar to the experienced reader and practitioner, but it also touches on new ideas, and different perspectives. Buy <u>Understanding Chaos Magic</u> if you want to learn the basic history and common thoughts associated, and <u>Chaos Monkey</u> when you're ready to try out its practical applications.

Spirits of the Earth
Spirits of the Earth
by Jaq D. Hawkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 23.90
15 used & new from CDN$ 22.70

4.0 out of 5 stars A good start, June 17 2003
This review is from: Spirits of the Earth (Paperback)
Jaq D. Hawkins, noted author on chaos magick came out a few years ago with a series on the spirits, broken down by the elements they were represented by (or, depending on how you think about it, themselves represent); the first being this book, <u>The Spirits of the Earth</u>.
Many different 'types' of Earth spirits are briefly covered, as well as several tables of correspondences covering different colours, stones, crystals, planets, etc. and how they relate and can be used to gain the favour of the Earth spirits and elementals.
Several methods of meeting garden and Earth spirits are discussed, in their natural habitat and connecting with Nature as a whole. How to obtain and observe spontaneous sightings, and even attune to them from your own home using potted plants and Earth.
Hawkins presents some unique and thought provoking ideas about 'computer gremlins', robotic elementals, combining Earth energies to form newer, more modern spirit models. She notes a difference between these and 'thought-forms' which I find questionable, but she explains her position well.
Hawkins has advice for newbies as well as suggestions for more experienced practitioners. She warns against novices trying more advanced operations, but doesn't give any details or specifics that would likely cause any serious threat, and so are somewhat unnecessary.
This book covers ground that's been covered before, but I've not come across one that's contained all this information specific to Earth spirits in a single volume. Overall, not a bad book for a beginner interested in getting closer to Nature and experimenting with various methods of contact with natural Earth elementals

Page: 1 | 2