Book of the Dragon – Allen and Griffiths

Book of the Dragon
Judy Allen and Jeanne Griffiths
Quality Books, 1979

I was first alerted to this book’s existence via the Otherkin and Therianthrope Book List when I was looking for sources for the Field Guide. Orion Sandstorrm liked it, so I figured it was worth a look–and it was!

People may assume that because it has lots of pretty pictures that it’s not particularly in depth. On the contrary, the authors study the history of the dragon from Mesopotamia onward, covering the globe from China to Mexico. The dragon is explored as archetype, as cryptozoological beastie, as a case of mistaken identity, and as alchemical matter.

Common themes are explored, though the differences between various types of dragons are duly noted. The authors provide plenty of evidence for each statement they make in a clear, concise manner and discuss less common knowledge, such as Western and Eastern alchemy, in a way that even the newest neophyte can understand.

The illustrations are very well selected, and punctuate the text beautifully. Photographs and contemporary artistic depictions serve to bring the text to more vivid life. The text and pictures are balanced nicely, without the former being overwhelmed by the latter.

All in all, this is an excellent basic guide to world dragon mythos. The bibliography is worth plumbing for further research, but this is a great starting place.

Five pawprints out of five.

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Vampires – Konstantinos

Vampires: The Occult Truth
Llewellyn Publications, 2002
192 pages

I’m not quite sure what to think about this book.

The basic historical research about vampires is pretty much what you’d find in any other book about vampire lore. Again, my common gripe about the lack of in-text citations in pagan.occult nonfic can be found here. The bibliography actually had some surprising inclusions–Franz Bardon’s “Initiation in Hermetics” being notable in that respect.

It’s when the author gets into modern-day vampires that things get a little weird.

Konstantinos did say he got some rather….err…strange letters, usually by people who were obviously ganking their life-history from fictional sources, and so these weren’t quoted. But the quotes he did get for the most part struck me as a little ungrounded and melodramatic.

He does go into the physical dangers of blood drinking. Most people these days are aware of blood diseases, but I got a little chuckle at the idea of someone ruining their cape after discovering that enough blood will make one vomit.

His POV on psychic vampirism is a little strange, in that all “intentional” psi-vamps are noncorporeal, and any corporeal psi-vamps are “unintentional” (ie, have no idea what they’re doing.) It seems to draw a lot from the traditional occult view of vampirism a la Dion Fortune. Of course, that could just be part of “the Occult Truth”.

Personally, there’s a part of me that thinks that Konstantinos wrote everything he did (except for Summoning Spirits, which I very much enjoyed) with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. I think he hit on a particular untapped target audience, found just the right books to toss at them, and is now laughing all the way to the bank. It’s not that he’s not serious about what he’s doing, but there’s an element of the Trickster here as well.

Two bloodstained pawprints out of five.

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Daimonic Reality – Patrick Harpur

Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld
Patrick Harpur
Pine Winds Press, 2003
329 pages

If you have even the smallest interest in the Otherworld, read this book.

Harpur examines phenomena ranging from UFO sightings to black dogs and phantom cats to fairies and crop circles (and more). He regards them not as purely literal, but as denizens of what he terms daimonic reality. Daimonic reality seems in its nature to be metaphorical, but it has a very real effect on our world as well.

Drawing on Jung and Yeats, travelling to the Anima Mundi, Collective Unconscious, and Imagination-with-a-big-I, the author reveals the appearances of daimons which have evolved over time to meet our own changes, how the beings known as fairies who used to show themselves to us as diminunitive humanoids in green coats, now appear as alien humanoids in silver spacesuits–and why they’ve changed.

Harpur isn’t a debunker; he doesn’t attempt to disprove the Otherworld’s existence; rather, just the opposite. Harpur provides a unique and substantial set of theories regarding the long-running tradition of the Otherworld that has long fascinated humanity.

This is a truly well-written piece of work. It is academic rather than New Age, and the research provides a solid base for his theories. It’s not a dry read, though newbies may find it to be a bit difficult, but it’s well worth the investment of time and money. Those who identify as Otherkin will find some useful ideas on metaphorical reality that can be applied to being Other.

I can’t even begin to do it justice; all I have to say it–read it!

Five pawprints out of five.

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