As I look back over the years, I’ve received and given lots and lots of gifts. Some have been as simple as hand-made cards. Others, to loved ones, have been rather expensive. When you give a gift you usually hope that the person who receives it will like it enough to keep. You hope that they’ll enjoy it, use, it, be happy with it, and that it serves as a reminder that you care.
But no matter how much effort you put into it, there’s always a chance that the recipient either won’t want it or will need to give it away, sell it or discard it. As far as I can tell there is only one gift that cannot be returned: wisdom. Unfortunately, wisdom cannot be given. Wisdom results from a combination of knowledge and experience. Experience is something each of us develops over time. But knowledge can be shared and even given.
I like to share information by giving workshops and talks. I do this in as many places as possible. However, probably the best way to share in-depth information that can be easily referred to repeatedly is through books. Needless to say, I think my books make great gifts for others or for yourself. Modern Magick, Modern Sex Magick and Tarot & Magic are ideal gifts for your non-fiction loving friends. My novel, The Resurrection Murders, shares a lot of information about real magick in the form of an exciting and horrific tale with fascinating characters set in modern Hollywood, California. People who like H.P. Lovecraft will enjoy this story, too.
There are lots of other books that make great reading and that might lead to wisdom, and are perfect for giving. For example, if you’re interested in learning the Tarot, I like Tarot for Beginners. It’s clear and will get you started with any common Tarot deck. If you’re looking for something more in-depth, I suggest Mary K. Greer’s 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card. It will give you lots of new ways to get the most out of your readings.
If you’re looking for a magickal resource book, The Complete Magician’s Tables has rapidly become one of my most important go-to books. It is the most complete book of correspondences available. If you’re interested in ancient texts, I like The Veritable Key of Solomon. Although the name is familiar, this is the first time this far more complete version of the Key has been published. If you’d like something focused on the future, I can heartily recommend Postmodern Magic and its sequel, Magic, Power, Language, Symbol. These take traditional concepts of magick, combine them with the latest concepts such as Chaos Magick and communications theory, and form a style of magick that is perfect for today’s generation and for the future.
If you like biography, the fascinating book Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune presents a surprising comparison. In the area of Paganism, The Cauldron of Memory has really caught my attention. It’s about discovering your past lives from a Pagan perspective. And if you’re looking at past lives, hypnosis has to be on your schedule. My favorite new book in this area is Self-Empowerment Through Self-Hypnosis.
Almost all of the books above are published by Llewellyn. I mention this as part of a full disclosure because I work for Llewellyn. I have easy access to them. However, they’re more than that; they’re important to me. They have helped increase my knowledge which, I hope, is leading me a bit toward wisdom. I have recommended them because they’re good books and I’ve been working with them.
No publisher, including Llewellyn, can cover all of anyone’s interests. So I’d also like to mention some other books that I’ve been reading of late, just to let you in on what I’ve been doing. They were gifts I gave to myself. First, some of you may know that I’m a certified hypnotherapist. I’m also certified to teach hypnosis and am a certified NLP Master Practitioner. Self-Empowerment Through Self-Hypnosis is interesting to me because I also work in this field. I’ve taught many hundreds of people hypnosis and how to access their past lives. The latest book I’ve been reading has to do with giving hypnosis entertainment shows. It’s called The Ronning Guide to Modern Stage Hypnosis. It’s not the ultimate book on the subject (that honor still goes to The New Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism by the late “Dean of American Hypnotists,” Ormand McGill), but it is the most complete, direct, and best new introduction to people who want to perform hypnosis acts on stage.
Next are some books that I had to import from India as they’re not easily available here in the U.S. One of my current interests is Tantra. Tantra is not just the “sex stuff” as many Westerners think. It’s actually one of the oldest, continuously practiced systems of Pagan spirituality in the world. (Hmmm. Perhaps I should do a book on that.) The latest books I have begin withÂ The Tantra by Victor M. Fic. It looks at Tantra from its beginning and how it’s evolved over time with some amazing illustrations. How to Read a Birth Chart by Dinesh S. Mathur is about ancient Indian astrology, which may predate Sumerian astrology. I already own several books on the subject but haven’t been able to really “get it” yet. I’m hoping this book will help me. Sri-Chakra: Its Yantra, Mantra and Tantra by Prof. S. K. Ramachandra Rao looks at the famous Sri Yantra symbol. I like to refer to it as being similar to the Kabalistic Tree of Life…on mega steroids.
The ancient Traditional Tantra also has healing techniques. Healing Hands by His Divine Grace Acharya Keshav Dev and Acharya Vikrmaditya describes how and why simple hand postures can effect your health. Although it is not well known, Chinese acupuncture actually originated in and evolved from the medical system of the ancient Tantrics, now known as Ayurveda. This healing system describe hundreds of nadis or paths of energy (similar to the Chinese meridians). Where three of these energy paths cross is a point known as a marma, and manipulating these points, similar to the acupuncture points, can also effect the health and well-being of a person. Significance of Ayurvediya Marma by Raakhee Mehra discusses where they are, what they do, and how to work with them.
Finally, one of the things most Westerners don’t know, is that there is no such “thing” as Tantra. Tantra is actually a wide set of traditions and systems that evolved over time, beginning at least 4,000 years ago and possibly 10,000 years ago or longer during what is known as the Indus Valley or Harrapan culture. Derived from ancient Tantric thought are the famous yoga sutras (Yoga is not just exercises, it is a set of techniques designed to link you to the Divine. Sutra is a Sanskrit word meaning “aphorism” or “precept” or “a brief rule.”) of Patanjali. Derived from ancient Tantric practices are the techniques of Kundalini Yoga. The amazing Paramahansa Yogananda, who learned them from his teachers, combined them in what he called Kriya Yoga. He was the first Hindu teacher of yoga to move to the U.S. He founded the Self-Realization Fellowship which is still in existence. J.R. Santiago’s Kriya Yoga is an introduction to the teachings of that name formulated by Yogananda.
Well, that’s been my reading of late. I also prepared a paper to deliver in January Â for the Sixth Annual Pagan Conference at the Claremont Graduate University entitled “The Similarity and Growth of Neopaganism and Early Judaism, and How that Indicates a Sustainable Neopagan Spirituality for the 21st Century.” Yes, it’s an ungainly, if explicit title, but it’s a great subject that I don’t think anyone else has discussed before. I also am preparing three presentations to give at Pantheacon in San Jose, California, this coming February. I hope to see you at one of these events. Oh, and I’m working on some new books, too!
By the way, what are you reading that you’re enjoying? Is what you’re reading for pleasure, or for knowledgeâ€¦or do you get both?