Book Reviews

Book Reviews (2)

Friday, 24 September 2010 00:00

Carlos Castaneda - The Teachings of Don Juan

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Carlos Castaneda’s "The Teachings of Don Juan - A Yacqui Way of Knowledge" is a truly fascinating read. Whilst the debate continues over the authenticity of Castaneda’s tuterage under the Yaqui Indian sorcerer Don Juan Matus, the book delivers a powerful philosophy of life experienced in the ‘non’ordinary reality’ offered by the consumption of Datura, Psilocybin and Peyote. It is recommended reading for anyone interested in Shamanism, entheogens or altered states of experience.

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Despite its subject matter, Castaneda’s book is certainly not a treatise expounding the virtues of "turning on, tuning in and dropping out!", but instead explores the often terrifying experiences of a student trying to make sense of unfamiliar concepts in a pagan world where literally anything can happen.

The book is divided neatly into two main sections. Part one tells Carlos Casteneda’s tale of his first meeting with the feared Don Juan and his initiation into the Yaqui Indian's various entheogenic rites and beliefs whilst the second part  of the book is Castaneda's scholastic take on the sorceror's arcane knowledge and the methods he employed in imparting this wisdom.

This is the first book in Castaneda’s series which follow the student as he learns to navigate the various alternate realities of existence and become a sorceror and ‘Man of Power'.

A recommended, mind-expanding read.

Sunday, 19 September 2010 17:20

Holy Wells: Wales - A Photographic Journey

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'Holy Wells: Wales - a photographic journey'' is a sumptuous exploration of 42 of Wales' holy and sacred wells. Photographed by Cardiff-born photographer Phil Cope, the book's 222 pages are abrim with lavish, almost oppulent, images and accompanying text.

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Phil Cope's book took five years to produce and is an obvious labour of love and is part of a series of two books (the other being Holy Wells: Cornwall - a photogrpahic journey). Just fifty years ago, literally thousands of sacred wells were accessible to the general public in Wales. Today, this number has shockingly declined to just a few hundred! 'Holy Wells' succeeds in its aim of highlighting the beauty and historical importance of these sacred sites at a time when, shamefully, so few of their number are afforded protection by environmental and heritage organisations. 

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Although this book is subtitled 'a photographic journey', the copious images in this large tome are accompanied by a fairly substantial text. As well as descriptions of the various sites, their individual histories and the numerous pagan beliefs and healing properties associated with them, the book includes poems from a number of Welsh poets, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan William, R.S. Thomas and Gerard Mankey Hopkins. Ordnance Survey co-ordinates for all the wells are also given - a handy addition as this book certainly makes its readers want to visit these sites for themselves. I can't think of a higher recommendation for a book of this nature than that!

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Holy Wells: Wales - a photographic journey is a hard-covered book and is published by Seren, priced £19.99. You can purchase a copy of the book here.

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