Ashe’s Reading for 2021

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  • #304581
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    Well, I clearly didn’t keep up with my updates on last year’s post. I considered relabeling it, then realized I had not entered anything at all, and didn’t want to deal with the crushed text.

    So here is the thread for this year’s reading. The book list is below, and after that, I’ll enter reviews and cover copy like I have in the past, with each book getting its own sub-post in this thread.

    This year’s reading goal is 12 books.

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #304591
    Ashe Elton Parker
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    • Topics - 464
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    This post contains the list of books I’ve read for easy reference. Books are listed in order finished, and are accompanied by reviews.

    1) Easy Tarot Handbook by Josephine Ellershaw, instructional
    2) Alien Winter by J.A. Marlow, Contemporary Science-Fiction
    3) Princes of the Apocalypse by Wizards of the Coast, D&D Adventure Campaign
    4) Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig, Spirituality
    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #304592
    Ashe Elton Parker
    Moderator
    • Topics - 464
    • Replies - 9,442

    1) Easy Tarot Handbook by Josephine Ellershaw, instructional

    COVER COPY:

    Created especially for beginners, the Easy Tarot kit is the easiest way to learn to read Tarot cards. In the Easy Tarot Handbook, author Josephine Ellershaw shares tips, shortcuts, and time-saving techniques gained from more than thirty years of experience reading Tarot cards.

    Using the beautiful Gilded Tarot deck, you’ll learn how the seventy-eight cards link to one another and provide insight as their unique energies merge in the Cross of Truth, the Celtic Cross, and other spreads. There is even a list of card combinations that commonly indicate specific events-such as pregnancy, a wedding, a new job, and more. Also included in the Easy Tarot Handbook:

    •⊂ A quick guide to card meanings
    •⊂ Sample readings, safeguards, and ethical guidelines
    •⊂ Tips on keeping a Tarot diary
    •⊂ Troubleshooting advice that addresses questions such as, “What if the cards don’t seem to connect?”

    FORMAT: Print. As far as I know, it is only available in print format.

    AVAILABILITY: I purchased the entire Easy Tarot kit from Amazon. It came boxed with the Gilded Tarot deck by Ciro Marchetti and a paper fold-out Celtic Cross Spread template.

    WHAT THE BOOK OFFERS: Using the Gilded Tarot as the deck for this book, and employing over 30 years’ experience, author Josephine Ellershaw introduces the beginner, and not-so-beginner, to her method of tarot reading. She goes through each suit of the Minor Arcana, followed by their Court Cards, and finishes off the Tarot definitions with those of the Major Arcana. Also in the book are a very small variety of spreads, and instructions on how to learn to read the tarot intuitively. Ms. Ellershaw brings the reader from the basics of the tarot deck and provides her method on how to handle and read the cards.

    WHAT I DISLIKED ABOUT THE BOOK: I grew weary of the frequency with which the subjects of romance and marriage came up not only in the Minor Arcana, but also in the Major Arcana. It almost seemed as if this was the author’s private obsession, for it was included in the explanations of cards whose definitions I’ve never seen it a part of. Granted, my experience is limited, but no other tarot source I’m familiar with has suggested that romance/marriage be such a priority in the tarot, not even Power Tarot, and that book has subsections for each card, including one for romance.

    I also felt like Ms. Ellershaw was handing this instruction down from on high. When I shared the passages I had difficulty accepting as mere advice to another reader who has far more experience than I have, they agreed that the author of the Easy Tarot Handbook was transmitting her personal method of reading the cards as something akin to the One True Way.

    Beyond that, some of the cards, particularly a number of those in the Major Arcana had very brief explanations that would have left me clueless as to how to employ the card in a reading. While I currently find keywords helpful, I gravitated to the books I first bought because of their more comprehensive definitions of the cards. Sometimes the Easy Tarot Handbook left much to be desired in that realm.

    And one final thing: Ms. Ellershaw advocates using tarot as a predictor of future events. As far as I can recall, every other source on tarot I’ve come across has focused on using tarot as a tool to understanding oneself and one’s place in the world at a particular time. The author of the Easy Tarot Handbook even offers suggestions of questions the reader may ask the cards as they do their personal readings, and every single question prompted the type of query that asks for peeks into the unknowable future.

    WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK: Ms. Ellershaw provides some troubleshooting advice in the back of the book which may be helpful in readings; I haven’t tested it yet, mostly because I haven’t done any readings where I struggled with the cards. She also provides advice on how different cards relate to one another that I may find helpful.

    I also liked her lesson suggestion which tells the beginner to take each card and write lists of what memories, thoughts, and associations the image thereon brings to mind instead of relying upon the explanation of the card from the book.

    The author advises the new reader to keep a tarot journal with records of their exercises and their personal readings. She also suggests that the new reader practice doing personal readings until they understand the cards and how the cards work for them. I think both of these are sound advice.

    WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK?: I would not recommend this book to a raw beginner, though that was Ms. Ellershaw’s purpose in writing the book. Her fixation on romance/marriage would, I feel, mislead an impressionable new reader. Also, the brevity of some cards’ definitions left me unimpressed. And I feel that the inflexibility of the “advice” provided on the care and handling of the deck would force a new reader into a mold and pattern of behavior that may not work well for them.

    However, I would suggest this book for a more experienced student of tarot who has tested other books. I feel gaining a wider familiarity with tarot would benefit any newer readers who come to this book. That should enable them to determine how useful the instruction and explanations of the cards may be to them.

    CLOSING REMARKS: While this book has merits, I largely feel that the fresh, new beginner to tarot would be better served by other books. As it is, I’d say this would be a middling-useful book to anyone who has the personal flexibility to understand what may best work for them and a willingness to study wider than the Easy Tarot Handbook.

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #304680
    Ashe Elton Parker
    Moderator
    • Topics - 464
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    2) Alien Winter by J.A. Marlow, Contemporary Science Fiction

    In this book, J.A. Marlow weaves another compelling tale describing the adventures of Zach and Hawk Callahan, newcomers to Salmon Run hoping to be able to prepare and run their “crazy” uncle’s old vacation lodge in Alaska. Between cleaning the lodge and the intermittent, unexplainable power outages, they’re kept busy while Zach tends to school and accompanying his best friend Sasha to some new locations about the town.

    And the aliens are having their own difficulties. They’ve been saddled with Major Dreel, who has no understanding of the research Yenni and Nanuk are performing. He tends to step in and make things worse when things would go perfectly fine if he just kept still. Even though he does prove a bit useful after a while, he is still more trouble than he’s worth.

    Zach and Sasha’s encounters with Yenni, Nanuk, and Major Dreel only complicate matters for the two teens. And then Zach’s felt someone watching them, and it’s NOT the aliens. Sasha insists it’s the Little People, but he’s not so sure.

    Author J.A. Marlow’s continuation of the Salmon Run series is a great follow-up to the initial book. Unlike the second books of other series, it doesn’t suffer from not being as good. It moves along at a steady pace, not leaving moments for the prose to lag. As in the first book, the chapters are short, but that makes it a faster read for an adult reader, and just-right for younger readers, for whom it’s aimed. Marlow writes the kind of feel-good science fiction that leaves the reader wanting more, and I definitely want more!

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #304954
    Ashe Elton Parker
    Moderator
    • Topics - 464
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    3) Princes of the Apocalypse by Wizards of the Coast, D&D Adventure Campaign

    In this addition to the Dungeons & Dragons series, Wizards of the Coast takes players through an adventure of defeating Elemental Evil. As a DM, the person who’ll be “telling the story”, I found this campaign interesting and entertaining to read in preparation for running the campaign for family and friends. The adventure permits a number of characters, designed by the players, to experience the world of Faerûn in a new and exciting way.

    Tasked with preventing the complete invasion of Elemental Evil, the characters must work together as they gather information and pursue it to various locales throughout the Dessarin Valley. Suitable for levels 3 through 15, with an opening sample of adventures for levels 1 through 3 loosely tied to the main plot, the adventure unfolds as Elemental Evil makes its presence known to the players through different adventures their characters have in and around the valley. The campaign is full of colorful characters who may help or hinder—or prove ultimately indifferent—to the characters’ chance of success, and the world is rich and detailed with locations both above and below ground.

    I’ve tried to run this campaign once but had to abandon it due to getting a temporary vocational rehab job early in 2020, and I’ve wanted to restart this campaign ever since. Princes of the Apocalypse provides plenty of options for engaging the players in the adventures to be had, from offering secret organizations who send them on the adventure to providing adventure hooks that give the characters plenty of reason to go investigating things in the Dessarin Valley. I’m looking forward to the challenge of guiding a group of players through this campaign.

    The primary adventure involves traveling about the valley in pursuit of leads about the true source of the difficulties Red Larch, and the rest of the valley, are suffering. Opportunities abound for success, failure, and a whole lot of trouble for the players’ characters to endure. Eventually, the clues will lead the characters to a subterranean city abandoned by its Dwarven crafters centuries ago and now reclaimed as the temples for the four Elemental Evil Prophets and the Princes of Evil they serve.

    .

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
    #304957
    Ashe Elton Parker
    Moderator
    • Topics - 464
    • Replies - 9,442

    4) Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig, Spirituality

    COVER COPY:

    For over two decades, Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magick has been the world’s most popular step-by-step guide to working real magick. Tens of thousands of individuals and groups have used this course as their primary instruction manual. Now, greatly revised and expanded, this set of lessons is more complete and relevant to your life than ever.

    Written with respect for the student, Modern Magick will safely guide you―even if you know little or nothing―through a progressive series of practical exercises and rituals, complemented by the knowledge, history, insights, and theory you need to become a successful ceremonial magician. Firmly rooted in the Western magickal tradition yet designed to be fully compatible with your contemporary practice, this book will help you attain full mastery of all core topics in magick:

    The inner mysteries of the Kabalah
    The most powerful rituals of magick
    How to create and perform your own rituals
    True meditation
    Magickal ethics
    Astral projection
    Tools of magick
    Evocation of spirits
    Pathworking
    Tantra and sex magick
    The importance of the Tarot
    Talismans and amulets
    Secrets of visualization
    Alchemy
    Psychic self-defense
    Healing rituals

    Filled with personal stories and helpful illustrations, along with updated and brand-new material, this new edition of Modern Magick features a completely new lesson that reveals the concepts, techniques, and rituals of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Chaos Magick, and Postmodern Magick. Ideal for beginning, intermediate, or advanced students, and perfect as a manual for magickal temples, this is essential reading for every true magician.

    MY REVIEW:

    FORMAT: I read it in ebook format, but it also comes in print format.

    AVAILABILITY: I purchased this book from Amazon. It is also available from Barnes & Noble (though the prices are much higher).

    WHAT THE BOOK OFFERS: In this book, the author outlines practices that the reader should develop into habits. As much a book on self-improvement as anything else, Donald Michael Kraig includes rituals that aid in visualization, building confidence, and developing self-discipline. This is no simple book on Magick, but seems to offer the groundwork for the reader becoming an all-round better person through the use of ritual and the development of their Magickal ability.

    Within these twelve lessons, I found Magickal applications for many of the things I’ve learned through being treated for bipolar disorder. And, in fact, Donald Michael Kraig includes Neuro-Linguistic Programming as part of his lesson for the developmental process of the modern practitioner of Magick.

    Not only that, the author includes at the end of each chapter extensive bibliographies, and lesson questions to be answered by the student.

    WHAT I DISLIKED ABOUT THE BOOK: Mainly its price. I have a limited budget. Even $9.99 (USD) is a lot to spend on an ebook.

    WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK: I found the book an enjoyable read, and even tried to tough out the entire section on sex magick, which, as an asexual, I doubt I’ll ever participate in under any capacity. All of the information I read (even that on sex magick) was easy to understand. Donald Michael Kraig took the time to explain the jargon, sometimes in excruciating detail, but I appreciated it all. By doing it his way, he ensures that his readers understand even some of the finer nuances of the lessons he wrote. It may be a bit tedious and boring for a more experienced practitioner of Magick, but I have a feeling I’ll be referring to this book for information I need for many years to come, even if it’s only to find another book to buy from his bibliographies.

    One of the things I especially liked was the FAQ section he included at the back of the book. It was nice to see that a number of my own questions had been asked by other readers, and then answered by the author.

    And, an interesting phenomenon happened as I read this book. To be honest, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure that I should even bother reading this book. And, in fact, I was expecting a lot of what I tend to call woo-woo stuff—information that was incomplete or too “out there” for me to believe in. However, that was not what I found, and in fact, whenever I began to doubt that I should be reading this book, the next time I opened it to read more after such thoughts, the text would address my thoughts. This happened on more than one occasion—every single time I began to doubt that this is the right path for me.

    I’m not usually one who sees Signs in everything, but it became pretty clear to me that this was the right book, at the right time, for me.

    WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK?: I would definitely recommend this book, particularly to the newcomer to Magick. Donald Michael Kraig’s overview of Ceremonial Magick offers, I think, a good starting point for anyone who thinks this particular style of Magick may be for them.

    CLOSING REMARKS: Modern Magick offers concrete guidelines for beginning one’s Magickal journey and points at many other books for the continuation of study. I did not feel talked-down-to or condescended to by the author, who repeatedly advises his readers to perform further study. Given my overall experience with this book, I feel it was the best place for me to start my reading on the occult.

    Ashe Elton Parker
    "Just love me, fear me, do as I say, and I will be your slave." ~ David Bowie as Jareth in Labyrinth
    ~*~
    Member since 1998.
    ~*~
    Look me up on Wattpad for some of my books!
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