The Magic of Shapeshifting – Rosalyn Greene

The Magic of Shapeshifting
Rosalyn Greene
Weiser Books, 2000
258 pages

This is going to be a looong review. Where do I start with this book? I have a complicated relationship with it; I first bought it in 2002, back when I was in a “belief” stage of my belief-doubt-belief cycle about being a therianthrope. I didn’t have much exposure to the therian-specific community, though I’d had off and on contact with the Otherkin community through which I met a number of therians. Since then, I’ve read it several more times, and I’ve finally, five years later, gotten around to reviewing it. I’ll admit that each time I’ve read it my opinion of it has gone down, largely because each time I have a better understanding of therianthropy, both from my own perspective and from the therian community at large. Same thing goes for magic, which plays an integral role in The Magic of Shapeshifting.

One of my biggest complaints is that the author (or three authors, writing under one name, according to one rumor) accepts historical accounts of lycanthropy as completely, literally true. This is what she bases a lot of her proof that “shifters: (including physical shifters) have existed for millenia, well known to the populace but only recently suppressed. She relies particularly on questionable sources such as Montague Summers, and she takes no critical eye to any of her material, which irritates me to no end.

She also bases most of her magic on a mixture of spiritism/Theosophy and a smattering of Asian concepts of energy work, and assumes that the subjective biases of these systems are universal. Her approach is rather dogmatic, as if there’s only one way to skin a werewolf. And she doesn’t cite any sources for the practical aspects of her work, which is a shame as it could have been strengthened by showing that other people have gotten similar results, though not necessarily using the techniques she utilizes for the same end. While she uses footnote citations for historical information, I was left wondering where she got her inspirations for the more hands-on material, and what sources she learned to acquire the building blocks for her magical work.

I think what I dislike the most, though, about this work are all the huge assumptions and broad stereotypes she applies to therianthropes in general, many of which are inaccurate, and none of which are backed up with anything other than anecdotal information from other, often unidentified, people that we’re supposed to expect are telling the truth. Given the gullibility of the author in accepting whatever Mr. Summers wrote without question, I have to wonder how much critical consideration went into whatever her informants told her, or if she ever questioned her own experiences to any degree. While belief in yourself is healthy, never questioning yourself isn’t–if she did ever look at the possibility that not everything in this book was literally true, she doesn’t show any evidence of having done so.

Some of the inaccuracies are blindingly obvious when viewed by anyone with more than a passing involvement in the therian community. This includes her assertion that most therians go through a “phase” as a fox shifter before “maturing” into another species; that all therians have totem animals that are the same species as their therioside; the claim that a number of terms she throws around are “commonly” used in the therian community (what she calls the “shifter community”, but it’s the same thing), when in actuality I’ve never heard most of them anywhere except from her book; that therians have an aversion to turquoise; and her overemphasis on the existence of organized therian “packs”. In fact, there’s a lot of information just on the community itself that could seriously mislead readers who aren’t familiar with the actual community.

Additionally, she seems to have some weird ideas about physical animals. Some of it is strange esoteric biases, such as the idea that black animals attract evil spirits, or that the color of an animal’s fur or eyes determines its magical prowess and even personality. Last I checked, this didn’t hold true for humans, and I haven’t found in my decade-plus experience with animal magic that it does for nonhuman animals, either. She also has some blatant biological mistakes in there, such as the “fact” that foxes have retractable claws (they don’t).

Her information on shifting isn’t universally bad; I found her descriptions of some of the features of mental shifting to be accurate to my own experience. And there are some exercises in there that could actually be useful for gaining control of one’s ability to shift, or to improve one’s relationship with the part of the self that is the therioside. Her methods for raising levels of “shifting energy” are simple psychological triggers that can be used by anyone in a ritual setting to help achieve the proper altered state of consciousness for invocation (of another entity or a part of the self)–not that this is bad, just that it’s nothing new (but again it can be quite useful).

What this book really comes across as is someone in the furry community who has a serious grudge against the therian community. My reason for believing this is that she holds up the furry community as the best place for a “shifter” to go find other “shifters”, while her very scant opinions on the (online) therian community is that it’s full of cultists and other unsavory people. (There’s nothing wrong with furries, of course, but even many members of that community will quickly tell you that “furry” and “therian” are not the same thing, though there are some furs who are also therians–but they’re a minority.) Additionally, some of her biases, such as the proliferation of fox therians who turn into other types of therian later on actually more closely mirrors furries, in which there are a LOT of fox fursonas (though it’s common for people to create new fursonas as they get more involved in the community). She also emphasizes costuming (fursuits) in the book quite a bit as an aid for getting in touch with the animal, and even gives a diagram for the leg extensions used in quadsuits, or quadrepedal fursuits.

In short, this reads like a furry who has a personal vendetta against the therian community. Granted, not everybody gets along with everybody else in the community–but welcome to life. There’s nothing that says a therian can’t be a part of the furry fandom, but when a book on therianthropy (which it pretty obviously is despite the use of the word “shifter”) quite conspicuously eliminates almost any reference to the therian community except for a couple of sharp-toothed remarks, this strongly suggests personal rather than professional issues.

That being said, my wrapup of the book is this: If you read it, keep a shaker of salt very handy (you may need to refill it a couple of times). There are some magical/psychological techniques that some therianthropes may find useful for becoming more comfortable with shifting and gaining better internal balance. However, the bulk of the book is essentially drek. My suggestion would be to hit up some online therian sites and do your research there; the Werelibrary, the Marsh, and Absurdism are good starting places.

One pawprint out of five.

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Sea, Land, Sky: A Dragon Magick Grimoire – Parker J. Torrence

Sea, Land, Sky: A Dragon Magick Grimoire
Parker J. Torrence
Three Moons Media, 2002
160 pages

I think one of the biggest questions on the mind of those who pick up this book is, “Is it better than Dancing With Dragons by D.J. Conway?” I’ll admit it was one of the reasons I picked it up in a recent Amazon order. So, having read it on the train this morning (it was a quick read, and I have a long commute), what did I think of it?

Well, it’s definitely an improvement in some ways. Torrence has created a magical system based on multi-layered symbolism. His concept of dragons seems to be rather elemental in nature, though not in the same quasi-D&D manner of Conway’s work. He introduces the concepts of the three realms of sea, land and sky, and adds in some of the areas of correspondence. For example, he equates them, respectively, with the past, present and future, as well as various magical acts. He also creates an interesting meditation with the seven primary chakras, visualizing them as small dragons that hatch from eggs as each one is worked with, then returning to their eggs when the meditation is done. I also liked some of his rituals, particularly the simple guided meditation entitled “To Touch a Dragon”.

The main issue I have with this book is that it reads more like a draft rather than a finished manuscript. It’s obvious this is a self-published work (Three Moons Media is a printing company similar to Booklocker or Lulu). There are a number of incomplete sentences, typos, and weird punctuation throughout the book. It doesn’t make it unreadable, but I did notice it as I read. Additionally, the content has a lot of room for development. Torrence offers a lot of “whats” and “hows”, but not as many “whys”. Why, for example, should a beginner to tarot use only the Major Arcana (p. 26)? Why does he toss in a handful of Enochian for no apparent reason (p. 59-63)? What’s with the random inclusions of Celtic deities? Instead of offering more detailed explanations of things like this, he instead stuffs the book with a bunch of Wicca 101 information (some of it just a little dragon-tinged), and almost 60 blank-lined pages (I don’t think a 160 page book needs quite that much room for notes).

This book does have a lot of potential. If I were editing the book, I would suggest the author answer the following questions throughout:

–How did you get into dragon magick specifically? What are some anecdotes of your own experience with working with dragons?
–Given that the mythology around dragons (particularly those in the West) shows them as fierce beasts, how does a magician safely work with dragon spirits? (This is particularly in light of the fact that a couple of the rituals call on Tiamat).
–How does the Celtic pantheon work into this, particularly the sea, land and sky trilogy?
–Can you go into more detail as far as the relationship between sea, land, sky; past, present, future; and subconscious, conscious and superconscious mind?
–In regards to the various rituals in the second part of the book, how did you develop them? What sorts of results have you gotten from them?
–What are some of the basic principles of working with dragons in ritual, so that readers can then take those principles and apply them to rituals they create themselves?

Those are just some of the points that came to my mind as I read through the book; there’s plenty more room for expansion. I give it extra points because it does have some good potential. And even as it is now, it’s a better alternative to dragon-flavored Wicca than Dancing with Dragons. I think if the author were to get it contracted with an actual publisher, or at least hire an editor to help him expand on his ideas and clean up the text, this could easily be a five-pawprint book. As it is, I’m giving it three pawprints and hoping for a second edition.

Three pawprints out of five.

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An Elfin Book of Spirits – The Silver Elves

An Elfin Book of Spirits: Evoking the Beneficient Powers of Faerie
The Silver Elves (Silver Flame Love and Zardoa Silverstar)
Silver Elves Publications, 2005
264 pages

My first exposure to the writings of the Silver Elves was through their Magical Elven Love Letters, writings of philosophy, spirit and magic flavored by their unique and lovely interpretation of what “elven” is to them. An Elfin Book of Spirits is exactly the sort of light-hearted, yet practical and powerful writing that I have learned to enjoy from them.

The book is a modern-day grimoire in the classic sense–a series of entries on various spirits within a specific system, along with suggested rituals for evoking them. I was already hooked on the book by the first page, when the Silver Elves explained their philosophy on evocation–cooperation rather than command (something I heartily agree with!). The method for working with the spirits involves a form of divination to determine which spirit would have the best ideas for a particular situation (if you don’t already have a particular being in mind). I approve of this open-ended method, as it allows the spirits more participation in the planning of the ritual.

The rituals and spirits are based loosely on astrology (and not just Sun signs, either–there’s a lot of work that went into this sytem). There are 360 spirits, one for each degree of the Zodiac; each entry for a spirit includes its degree, sigil, name, motto, evocation, and additional astrological information.

The areas of influence for the spirits are generally positive and constructive, with practical, everyday applications. Don’t, however, interpret this as being “overly white light” or “fluffy”. The Silver Elves and the spirits they work with don’t turn a blind eye to the fact that there’s negativity in the world, and they don’t try to gloss it over with New Age Band-aids. You won’t find spirits of vengeance here, but instead beings who will help you find a constructive, healthy way of dealing with bad situations and making the most of good ones. This book also isn’t exclusively for elves; any magical practitioner who is interested may find something of use here.

Pretty much my only complaints (and they are minor overall) are technical. There are a number of typos and misspellings throughout the book, but nothing terrible. Also, the binding of the book doesn’t leave quite enough margin on the inside edge, which makes reading the first few pages rather difficult without breaking the spine of the book. However, these are tiny things, and the fact that I enjoyed reading the book is much more important than a couple of physical flaws.

And one warning–there are a number of photographs of practitioners and other elfin folk in the book, a couple of which pay no heed to current prohibitions on uncovering the body. They’re no worse than other books on magic that include an occasional picture of a nude Wiccan in ritual, etc. And the photos in general are nice accents to the text.

Five pleasant pawprints out of five.

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Dancing With Dragons – D.J. Conway – May BBBR

Dancing With Dragons
D.J. Conway
Llewellyn, 2003
296 pages

I finally got around to reading this one, which just happened to be on the clearance rack. I knew it was pretty popular, though I didn’t realize it was in its thirteenth printing by 2003. I’d imagine there’ve been more since then.

I can see why the book has been so popular–for one thing, it was pretty much the first of its kind. Many pagans think dragons are the best thing since sliced bread, and so a book on dragon magic would have a pretty wide appeal. I’ve only seen one other book of its type, Torrence’s Sea, Land Sky: A Dragon Magick Grimoire which is on my wish list which I have reviewed as of 10 July, 2007.

So what was the first book on dragon magic like? Rather disappointing. I’ve generally disliked Conway’s works because she has a tendency to recycle the basic Wicca 101 material and plug in different cultural trappings; for example, her “Celtic Magic” and “Norse Magic” were practically the same book, only with different sets of deities and spirits. This book isn’t much different.

There’s a bunch of information on the history and mythology of dragons (without any sort of internal citations to show where she got specific bits of information). It seems pretty solid, and she has a good variety of cultures. However, it’s nothing you couldn’t find in any basic book of dragon mythology, such as The Book of the Dragon by Allen and Griffiths. Conway also indulges in a little more “Christians are evil!!!” sentiment than I’m comfortable with (as if no other group or religion had dragons as a symbol for dangerous things).

As for the magic itself, it’s basically Wicca 101 mixed with draconic imagery and a lot of Conway’s own UPG about her own dragon spirits. There are also pages upon pages of correspondences, information on basic Wiccan altar tools,and other 101 information that you could find in any book about Wicca, which makes me think that there was a serious need of filler. I really question the wisdom of some of her own material about dragons; for example, in the basic dragon ritual (p. 118 et. al) she instructs the reader to invoke Fafnir as the dragon of the south. I can’t find any evidence for the other three directional dragons, names Grael, Sairys and Naelyan. Is this UPG? She also talks about dragons as if anyone could work with them, and it’s just a matter of being polite to them.

The chapters on the different types of dragon read somewhat like a D&D manual, and she classifies dragons by their elemental properties regardless of what culture they come from. This just continues a neopagan trend that really annoys me, trying to wrap the entire world up in a neat elemental package. IMO, if you’re going to work with dragons deal with them as individuals according to the culture they come from, not whatever element they remind you of.

Basically, if you’re new to Wicca and you like dragons, you’ll probably like this book. Just don’t make it the do-all and end-all of your research on either topic. As per usual, there’s a lot of questionable material. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen on the internet most of the material available on dragon magic stems from this book. Here’s hoping that Torrence’s work or future books of dragon magic will be improvements over this one.

One and a half pawprints out of five.

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Not in Kansas Anymore – Christine Wicker

Not in Kansas Anymore: A Curious Tale of How Magic Is Transforming America
Christine Wicker
HarperSanFrancisco, 2005
276 pages

I first encountered this book when doing research for A Field Guide to Otherkin. I’d heard that the author had a chapter on Otherkin, and that was the first part I read. I wasn’t particularly impressed by what I found; it seemed a bit touristy and sensationalistic, though well-written.

Now that I have time to just read for the fun of it, I decided to give the entire book a chance. Unfortunately, my initial impressions aren’t that much different from how I feel now that I’ve seen the whole thing.

Wicker is a journalist, and it shows from the very beginning. She talks about her peers’ worries that she’ll “go native”, and her attempts not to do so are quite obvious. At least she’s honest, rather than pretending to be a member of a group to try to find out more about it. She states clearly where she’s coming from–not magical, pretty much an atheist, and seriously squicked about certain things (she seems terrified of BDSM in particular and takes any opportunity to describe it in lurid, evil manners).

The book seems largely dedicated to three subjects: Hoodoo, witchcraft and its variants, and Otherkin and vampires. She visits Zora Neale Hurston’s grave to get grave dirt, hangs out a bit with the Silver Elves, and gets witchy in Salem. In fact, she gets to have all sorts of experiences that numerous pagans and magical folk would love to have.

Granted, it does seem that she learns something from the experience. The book is a journey for her, from superstition to magic. Unfortunately, this is bogged down by numerous descriptions of various events and people that seme to be purposely slanted towards the extreme. She freaks out about every single instance of BDSM she encounters, describes in great detail just how bizarre everyone looks, and spends pages upon pages relaying the absolute worst of the paths she encounters. And while some of the people she interviews seem pretty down to earth and informational, others appear to be whoring for attention. Whether that’s the actual case, or just how Wicker chose to portray them, isn’t made clear here.

And everything is taken out of context, with the exception of some of the Hoodoo and witchcraft. Background information on the various topics she covers would have helped to ground her writing and make it seem less sensationalistic. For instance, all she really says about Wicca is that it’s white-light and not every pagan likes it. And she leaps from topic to topic fast enough to make my head spin.

I appreciate what Wicker was trying to do: present the magical fringes of society in a manner that the mainstream can palate. Unfortunately it feels more like a patchwork of whatever she happened to find; from reading this book one might assume that all vampires are into BDSM, all witches are tacky, kitschy, weird people who wear too much eye makeup, and that Hoodoo seems to be the only thing discussed that has any redeeming value. While it’s not as horribly sensationalistic as some of the “occult expose” books out there, there are better “outsider” views of magic and paganism out there and go in more depth; I recommend Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves by Sarah M. Pike, an academic look at the neopagan festival culture by someone who is not pagan but who manages to cover the material in a respectful, even-handed manner while writing at a level that non-academics can easily digest.

As for “Not in Kansas Anymore”…

Two pawprints out of five.

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The Firebringer Trilogy – Meredith Ann Pierce

The Firebringer Trilogy (The Birth of the Firebringer, Dark Moon, Son of Summer Stars)
Meredith Ann Pierce
Various publishers and formats

I first read the first book of this trilogy when I was about 7 or 8. Of all the early delvings into fantasy fiction, this one stuck with me the most. It wasn’t until years later that the entire trilogy came back into print, and I was able to read the second two books. I also discovered that I was far from the only grown-up who was delighted to find these YA books available again.

Yes, it’s about unicorns, dragons, gryphons and wyverns. However, these are not fluffy little pastel beings. The unicorns are fierce warriors out on the plains, with sharp cloven hooves and razor-edged spiral horns. Characters die in the series, and the dangers are made very clear.

There is, of course, a prophecy involving the main character, Jan, the prince-to-be of the herd. The twists and turns of the story, though, lead him in some very interesting directions. For YA lit, this trilogy gets quite complex story-wise, and the characters show definite development and growth.

What I find particularly interesting in a pagan sense is the religions of the various herds of unicorns. For example, Jan’s herd does a circle dance every full moon to Alma, the mother of all, and there is a yearly pilgrimage to the sacred spring across the plains in the unicorns’ ancestral home, now overrun by wyverns. Additionally, Pierce gets into some really interesting ideas on spirituality in her writing as the story develops.

I won’t spoil the rest of the story for you; needless to say, this isn’t your average unicorn story.

Five hoofprints out of five.

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The Old Power Returns – Morven Westfield

The Old Power Returns
Morven Westfield
Harvest Shadows, forthcoming June 2007
312 pages

Generally I’m not a huge fan of fiction, but I had the opportunity to read this particular novel over a weekend while flying cross country. And I do have to say it’s pretty good!

Set in the early 1980s, “The Old Power Returns” features Wiccans, psychics, and vampires, just as its prequel, “Darksome Thirst”, did. An added geek feature is the collection of references to circa 1980 computer technology that pepper the story.

It took me a little while to get into the story, partly because there were a lot of references in the first couple of chapters to events from the first book in the series. However, with some reading it wasn’t too difficult to get at least some idea of the events leading up to this book, though not enough to spoil the promised fun of “Darksome Thirst”, which is now on my wish list.

Westfield does a great job of writing a story that drew me in. There were plenty of interesting twists in the action; Frederick the vampire was one of my favorite characters (and one of the more unique bad guys I’ve seen created). However, all of them were well-rounded and distinct.

I think I only really have two small quibbles about this book (and don’t let them deter you!). One is that the book could have used a bit more editing. There were parts that were a bit wordy, or where the author used a particular phrase in two consecutive sentences. Also, the overall message of “Wiccans are good, not evil” got a bit tedious and heavy-handed. I realize that there are still plenty of misconceptions about neopaganism in general, but the traits of Wicca might have been worked more smoothly into the text rather than mini-essays presented as dialogue. Still, the effort is appreciated, and the info itself was pretty accurate.

Overall I found this to be an engaging read once I figured out the backstory. It may start a little slow, but “The Old Power Returns” is a great page-turner by the end!

Four and a half pawprints out of five.

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Earth Angels – Doreen Virtue

Earth Angels: A Pocket Guide for Incarnated Angels, Elementals, Starpeople, Walk-Ins, and Wizards
Doreen Virtue
Hay House, 2002
176 pages

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I picked this book up. I’d heard it was something kind of like Otherkin, but not using that term. I was a little leery when I saw that the author was a very popular, angels-are-all-sweetness-and-light New Age icon, but decided to give it a try anyway.

Talk about Otherkin Lite.

“Earth Angels” are basically people who are reincarnated “elementals” (read: therianthropes, elves and fae Otherkin), angels (read: angelkin), starpeople (read: aliens), Wise Ones (read: people who worked magic in a past life) and walk-ins. Okay, that’s not so very different from what a lot of Otherkin believe.

However, it’s how she explains the phenomenon of people who were not human in other lives that ruins the book for me. First off, the way you determine what type of “Earth Angel” you are is basically a 30-question “Are you like this? How about this?” quiz that would fit in perfectly on Quizilla–samples of questions are whether you’re overweight, if you dye your hair, if you’re of Celtic ancestry, whether you’re good at handling money or not, if you practice Reiki, or believe in magic. Supposedly these things tell you what type of Earth Angel you are (never mind that pretty much everything she asks about are things that are common among garden-variety humans, too).

Then, her information about each group is not only based on stereotyped behavior and belief patterns that are common among everyday humans as well as ‘kin, but it’s really, really, really white-light and saccharine. For example, she says that all incarnated elementals are major environmentalists, always happy (but prone to mood swings), and “physically robust”. And as far as the whole Wise Ones thing goes, a lot of it plays right into the Atlantean thing–the whole “Oh, magic isn’t for regular people–anyone who works magic must be at a higher vibrational level than everyone else!” thing as well as the Burning Times persecution complex. All walk-ins, on the other hand, supposedly walked in because they have some mission to fulfill.

And speaking of missions, according to this book, all Earth Angels are here for the purpose of Saving the World!

I don’t doubt that the author ran into a lot of people who, were they in the Otherkin community, would be considered Otherkin. However, this book shows a distinct lack of skepticism and self-questioning, things that are common in the Otherkin community. Instead, it tells readers exactly what they want to hear–“You love nature, so you must be an Incarnated Elemental!” or “You love helping people and often find yourself in codependent relationships–you must be an Incarnated Angel!” While the end of each chapter on specific types of Earth Angels does have some tips on how to counteract the negative aspects of being whatever you are, it’s assumed that by answering the spiffy little quiz at the beginning that you are an Earth Angel–there’s nothing on questioning yourself further, only how to fulfill your God-given mission!

If you think being other than human is a great way to feel special, feel free to pick this up. Otherwise, save your money.

One pawprint out of five.

The Ethical Psychic Vampire – Raven Kaldera

The Ethical Psychic Vampire
Raven Kaldera
Xlibris
156 pages

I was quite pleasantly rewarded with a really, really good explanation of both psychic and sanguine vampires that filled in a lot of the holes in my education, so to speak. Kaldera is an excellent writer, with a very good writing style that doesn’t dumb down the text. It was a rather quick read, somewhere around 144 pages, but not a bad one.

The first part of the book is dedicated to introducing the concept of vampirism, and why it is that some people simply need to feed. He also marks the differences between “primary” and “secondary” vampires, which answers the question of “Is a vampire born, or made?” with “Yes, and here’s why”.

He also dedicates a lot of this book to practical issues, such as physical safety and health for feeding, and problems that can arise in a vampire-donor relationship. And, true to the title, the ethics of vampirism are discussed throughout the book, such as why it’s better to have a willing donor.

This book is rather streamlined–there’s really no extra information beyond the basics, and not pages upon pages of vampire legends and lore (Vlad the Impaler, anyone?) so I’d definitely recommend it as a basic guide to today’s vampires. He does throw some magical rituals in there for specific purposes, but they’re more of an accent to the main body of the text and are purely optional.

My biggest complaint is that the book lacks both internal citations and a bibliography. I don’t doubt that most of the material is original. However, particularly in regards to the chapter on vampires and shamanism, I’d like to know where he got his information–a lot of it sounds like material from Nigel Jackson’s “The Compleat Vampyre”, which is a book dedicated to vampirism, lycanthropy, and shamanism. That’s not to say that this isn’t necessarily Kaldera’s work; I’m just curious as to whether he has read Jackson’s text. The nice thing about bibliographies is that you can use them for further reading, and to see what inspired the author.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book and it’s become an important resource for my own writing. Definitely recommended for anyone who wants a good, basic understanding of modern vampirism.

Five pawprints out of five.

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The Compleat Vampyre – Nigel Jackson

The Compleat Vampyre: The Vampyre Shaman, Werewolves, Witchery & the Dark Mythology of the Undead
Nigel Jackson
Capall Bann, 1995
180 pages

Sometimes a book promises something grand, and then falls short of its mark. This is one of those books.

I like the basic idea. Jackson brought together a large amount of folklore regarding the supernatural in Slavic and Baltic Europe, and then applied it to shamanic experience. He pulled out some fairly obscure information, which impressed me.

The problem came when I actually tried to read the book cover to cover.

I found parts of it stylistically impossible to read. Much of this was due to a lack of transitional phrases from one piece of information to the next. The various beings, archetypes, and motifs weren’t tied together in a particularly convincing manner, and not enough to support the author’s thesis. While the idea he wanted to support was clearly defined, he didn’t use his material very well to support it. It came across as a rather poorly edited draft rather than a completed book.

I also didn’t care for his scholarship; for example, he drew on the work of Margaret Murray, which has already been disproven a number of times. That and other outdated material on witchcraft really damages the integrity of the research. While he included a bibliography, because there were no citations there was no way of knowing exactly where he got certain facts.

Th ebook really could have used better editing overall, even in proofreading terms. He continually confused “its” and “it’s”–“it’s” is the contraction of “it is”, not the possessive, which is “its”. As in “The werewolf shed its skin,” not “The werewolf shed it’s skin”. This really made me wonder about the rumor that Capall Bann doesn’t actually have in-house editors and just expects the authors to edit their own work.

I’d love to see a rewrite of the book by the author. The idea is a good one, but the execution of it is so bad that a lot gets lost in translation, so to speak. I think I know what he’s tryig to say, but without better editing there’s no way to know for sure.

Two and a half pawprints out of five.

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