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One Of The Most Important Books In The Pagan Genre
on August 29, 2006
I'm embarrassed to admit that I've had this book for a little over a year and only read it this past weekend. My sincere apologies to the author, and I will be up front in admitting that I am personally acquainted with her. I'm not writing this review as a favor to her. If that was my intention, I would have made reading it a priority and reviewed it a year ago. I am submitting it now because I am truly impressed with her work although I had a few reservations when she first proposed the topic.
My main concern was that Tammy is not a "qualified therapist" - although she doesn't need a degree or license to write about a topic in which she has broad personal experience. I was concerned that this could have an impact on her credibility and may cause her to be attacked. I was also worried about some of the readers that the book would appeal to. In our community, we have steadily attracted a number of individuals who come to check out the path for the wrong reasons - and some of them are a little scary. After much discussion, I did and still do agree that any book dealing with magic falling into the wrong hands could be mis-used. After being given an opportunity to read some of the early drafts, I felt comfortable with the idea.
The final product is a fine example of hard work, dedicated research and the consideration of all angles coming together as a highly intelligent and useful reference tool. What impressed me the most is that Tammy explains anger for what it is - a defense mechanism that is a necessary part of the human psyche. Anger is as much a part of the "fight or flight" response as fear is, and anger has its roots in fear. Anger lets us know that something is wrong. It is said that "depression is anger turned inward." Anyone who has experienced deep hurt, tragedy, injury or trauma knows that when anger is consistently stuffed down and bottled up, it eventually has no choice but to attack its host. For some people, when this happens it can literally devour the mind, body and soul, often causing damage to everyone around them. By addressing this, the author validates the reader's feelings rather than reciting the trite little new age spiel that "we create our own reality." To an extent, of course we do, but the majority of gurus who generalize this to everyone have never experienced the level of physical or emotional pain that many people have. We are in control of our emotions to an extent, but some individuals have experienced such deep trauma that those emotions are smouldering even after years of therapy, such as in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Using anger energy in magic provides a healthy outlet for anger when the individual is in a mature enough place to handle it.
The most effective magic comes from a place of deep, strong emotion. Emotion is energy. In magic, we manipulate energy. It makes perfect sense to harness the energy of anger toward release, transforming it and directing it toward a more positive, healthy outcome.
I'm very impressed with the chapters dealing with mythology, correspondences and the rituals, spells and recipes. I own a fairly large library of pagan books and stopped spending money on them early on because I found them redundant. I was delighted to see that the information that Tammy presents contains some new ideas for using some of the stones and herbs. I do wish that some resources for obtaining them had been provided since the pagan store that we've depended on for years in my area recently closed and there's no slippery elm to be found. I'm also not clear on what "souring a situation" means and wasn't able to find an explanation in the book, although the index is excellent.
Personally, I have had a very trying year. I was forced into returning to work full time when my husband died a little over a year ago, and I was a long way from working through my grief. I have a 50 mile one-way commute to work and can drive up to 300 more miles per day in the course of my job. I've been forced to give up many of my creative and artistic pursuits and the incongruence is literally killing me. There have been a number of obstacles and the past few weeks have been like the Mercury retrograde from hell. All of this finally culminated in an emotional meltdown, and I know that the reason for that was that I had not dealt with my emotions for lack of time and energy. I don't even remember why I was browsing that particular bookshelf this past Saturday evening. The book just seemed to jump out at me among the other titles and I'm sure that I read it when I was meant to read it. I read the entire book in one evening and spent the majority of the following day meditating and performing a ritual that was a combination of several suggested in the book. I was blessed to have had plenty of graveyard dirt on hand and a great burial spot for the remnants. Although I'm not out of the woods yet emotionally, I feel strongly that continuing this process is going to be one of the most valuable tools in my magical closet. I've found that the most useful result of the ritual is that I now have a visual of things being put to rest that I can mentally refer to whenever I need it.
I did not find the author's cautions repetitive although they were stated each time a situation for using anger magic was discussed. While I feel that working with anger can be tremendously effective and healing, it is a volatile and explosive emotion and caution is necessary. My experience with new pagans is that they want to learn about it all - including hexes and black magic. This type of working is not for the novice in magic - or in the process of life. It should be attempted only by those who have a clear understanding of their own emotional state, rational behavior and the possible consequences of projecting negative energy.
This is one of the most important teaching and reference tools in the genre. Congratulations to the author for having the courage to approach a controversial topic and doing an excellent job.