Wednesday, 19 September 2012

At the Crossroads- Living Traditions Review

 Review courtesy of Living Traditions magazine: 
At the Crossroads has been released in various editions including eight hundred cloth bound editions and sixty four in goatskin. While Scarlet Imprint is releasing many of their books in ebook format (pdf only), I recommend this one in hardback as it is superbly presently, profusely illustrated with many images in colour and simply beautiful to hold and read. There is no paperback edition of this book due to its versized format. 

The concept of the crossroads is pregnant with meaning; in traditional cultures the boundaries of a culture marked the line between safety and danger, outside the boundary was where witches, sorcerers, trolls and wild spirits lived;it was the world of the untamed. Where two boundaries crossed creating a crossroads this was considered a place of immense power and danger, prisoners and criminals were hung at the crossroads and it was considered the location for evoking the devil himself during the medieval period. In pre-Christian times where leylines crossed was a major point of power and such connections covered the whole of England and can also found in many other countries. 

At the same time at the interface of cultures is the crossroads where creativity looms. There is so many exciting developments at that nebulous line where one culture meets and intermingles from another, whether we consider Mithraism or Gnosticism or even the hybrid cunning traditions which resulted from Christian and Pagan contact the results are challenging and significant. There is always a fine line between organic contact and syncretism, isolationism and appreciating where traditions touch, merge and create a living culture of magic and sorcery. These essays explore traditions at the crossroads and offer many traditions that we may not at first even consider. 

Folk traditions and the Solomonic Revival opens this work by exploring the connections between the worldview of the grimoires and various forms of traditional African magical practise. Gone is the psychological view of modern magic which reduced the gods to complexes and archetypes and advocated is a return to the old ways of appreciating the spirits as they really are. It is not a matter of cultural misappropriation but being open to going beyond the narrow blinkers of the Western Mystery Tradition which is sadly locked primarily within the outdated Golden Dawn worldview. By examining folk traditions we can appreciate a new way of practicing magic which will open a new world or us. 

The article on necromancy is a real eye opener. Necromancy is a subject too often ignored in western magic and relegated to being part of spiritualism which is seen as somehow less value as an occult practise. The reality is that necromancy was an intricate part of all the pre-Christian traditions and for that reason alone we should reappraise its value and use. Since the grimoire tradition had its ultimate origin in the Hellenistic traditions necromancy was of far greatest significance than many modern magicians locked in the Kabbalistic headset have noticed. Historically the spirits of the dead became demonised and replaced with hierarchies of fallen angels, demons and forces of evil and destruction. 

At the Crossroads continues examining specific traditions as Ifa and offering a truly engrossing essay on the history of the Ju Ju discussing all manner of Voudoun, Witchcraft, Santeria and Goetia. There is so much in this volume that is hard to discuss it all, there is lots of coverage of diverse traditions ranging from Santeria to Grimoire magick and a deep understanding of the intersection between traditions especially the new evolving understanding of the relationships between the Goetia, Hellenistic sorcery and African Tradition religions. At the Crossroads is also interspersed with superb poetry.

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