Beyond the Veil – Book Excerpt: Blood of the Dark Moon

Beyond the Veil - Book Excerpt: Blood of the Dark Moon

Beyond the Veil

“Jesse, this is most puzzling. There are a lot of references to blood in here, and it’s clear that they’re not necessarily talking about some form of sacrifice. Do you have any light to shed on this?”

He blinked but kept his expression steady. “Well, I, um —”

Amanda laughed. “It’s okay; I don’t think that this text is talking about ancient vampires or whatever. I’m in fact wondering if it’s a symbolic allusion to some kind of ancient Eucharist. But still, it’s quite strange. Any chance that I could borrow this from you?” She looked up at him hopefully. She was clearly both enthralled and intrigued with the book.

Jesse found it difficult to refuse her — in spite of the little voice in his head reminding him that if the Clan elders discovered the text missing and in the hands of a mortal, he’d most likely be staked. “I — perhaps, yes. Was there something you wanted to look into further?” As he gazed into her liquid, dark brown eyes, he tried desperately to remember why he gave her the text to begin with. Ah, yes, to impress her. And certainly she was impressed — and perhaps was also more observant and skilled in Latin than he had originally anticipated. Her translation proceeded at a rate even Amaltheia would’ve found proficient.

Finally, she stopped scribbling and took an additional sip from her glass. “Hold on one moment,” she requested, grabbing her purse, “I’ll be right back.” She smiled at him and ran to the women’s restroom.

He started to speak but thought better of it, gazing at her half-finished wine. What a lightweight she is, he mused. And how incredibly competent at Latin. Not to mention, he thought with a frown, very . . . intuitive . . . when intoxicated.

Idly, Jesse wondered how a few drops of blood mixed with her drink might aid her psychic skills. You idiot. You do that and there’s no turning back. Having her ingest his blood as a mortal would give him a light psychic connection to her, enough to know her location, or perhaps read her thoughts. That connection also would be very difficult to get rid of if he later desired to do so.

Glancing out of the corner of his eye, he watched Amanda standing by the women’s restroom, engaged in what looked to be friendly banter with another male patron. Perhaps a little . . . too friendly for his tastes.

Eyes narrowing, he quickly stuck his finger into his mouth, nicked it with his teeth, and deposited a few drops of his blood into her wine.

She’ll never notice, he thought smugly.

She returned some moments later to find him sitting calmly, sipping his wine. “Hi, I’m back,” she declared with a grin. “Now, where was I? Ah, yes . . . how old did you say this text was? And where did it come from?”

“I’m . . . not certain,” he admitted. “At least a thousand years or so ago it was written, I am guessing.” More like two thousand, but he didn’t want to admit to that. Not just yet.

He watched her carefully as she took a sip of her wine, slowly placed the glass back on the table, and made scribbles in her notebook. At one point she stopped reading and looked up, her finger on her mouth. Jesse couldn’t tell if she was confused or deep in thought — or both.

“Is there something wrong?” he asked her, inwardly cringing with anxiety. Did she taste the blood? Did she perhaps sense something wrong with the wine?

“Oh, um, no, no, nothing at all.” She shook her head as if dispelling something. Then she shrugged and laughed. “Was just wondering something.”

Amanda put her head back down in the book and took notes while Jesse observed her, fascinated. While her focus was still on the Latin writings, she reached out her left hand to the wine glass, which slid, of its own accord, a few inches closer to her hand.

It took Jesse a few moments to register what he had seen. By the Blood, she’s a natural. Dazed, he kept watching her, but she gave no appearance of having noticed what she had apparently done while under the influence of a glass or two of wine. It occurred to him that perhaps she had always been telekinetic and didn’t think much of using it while intoxicated. Either that or the blood he had slipped into her drink had temporarily — or perhaps permanently — increased her abilities. He suspected, given her keen interest in occult Latin texts, that he would be seeing much of this young woman in the days to come.

Not that I would mind, he figured, observing the way the folds of her sweater fell over her breasts and hips.

Some minutes later, she finally put down her pen. An animated dialogue ensued about various other occult texts that she had read while working on her thesis, mostly medieval and modern derivations of Ancient Greek and Roman magick. Amanda spoke of how they related and were also altogether, unlike this work, part of which she had translated. While she conversed with him, he couldn’t help but wonder whether or not she guessed his real purpose in showing her this text and taking her out for dinner. Perhaps she might realize that maybe he was interested in her?


Hours later, he walked Amanda to the subway station, smiling and nodding along as she rambled about various Greek and Latin texts, responding when he could to some of her statements and answering vaguely to others.

Amanda, be careful, she heard in that small but clear male voice which sometimes spoke in her mind.

Apollo? she thought back, but heard nothing afterwards. Maybe it was my Agathos Daimon. Her guardian spirit.

They stopped at the entranceway, and she turned to thank him for the wonderful evening and for tolerating her rather fanatical interest on some subjects and for a lovely dinner, but was interrupted by Jesse leaning in so fast she almost didn’t see him move. Before she could utter another word his lips were on hers. Everything at that moment stopped except for her heart, which she heard in her ears. Upon finally pulling apart, she realized that she wasn’t breathing and an electric current ran through her skin. Amanda was on fire, and she was alive, so alive, in that moment.

He left shortly after that. Amanda stared after him, agape. She turned to look up at the sky, but all she saw was light, endless light from the buildings, the faint traces of stars in the moonless sky, and all of it swirling around her.

©2008-2009 Adrianne Brennan
Excerpted from the book Blood of the Dark Moon.

Book Review: The Balance of the Two Lands

Book Review: The Balance of the Two Lands

The Balance of the Two Lands: Writings on Greco-Egyptian Polytheism
H. Jeremiah Lewis
Bibliotheca Alexandrina; CreateSpace (June 3, 2009)
ISBN: 978-1442190337
372 pages
Reviewer: Lupa
Full starFull starFull starFull starFull star
 

Heh — the review I wrote about just before this one, incidentally, was about the blending of multiple religions! Go figure. However, whereas ChristoPaganism was about modern mixing of neopaganism and Christianity, The Balance of the Two Lands is a different critter indeed! It would seem that among some (not all!) reconstructionists and other highly scholarly pagans, there’s a deep bias against mixing traditions — if you’re a Celtic reconstructionist who happens to get a calling from one of the Lwa of Vodou and answer it, then you can’t really be a Celtic reconstructionist any more according to some folks. Worse yet, you might be considered — an eclectic! Horror of horrors!

Yet eclecticism is a very different concept from syncreticism, which is what this particular book deals with. Syncreticism is a much more deliberate and researched effort than the buffet-style picking and choosing of eclecticism (which can still work quite well for some people in its own right, for the record). Lewis (aka Sannion), over a period of years, found himself courted both by the Greek and Egyptian pantheons and their respective traditions, and spent time in each religious community independently — with each telling him that he couldn’t go to the other and still be genuine. But he found a definite precedent for Greco-Egyptian syncreticism, most famously in the Ptolemies of Egypt — and this book is the result of years of research and practice to that effect.

There’s not a whole lot about modern Greco-Egyptian polytheistic syncreticism out there, and much of what does exist has been written by Lewis himself, as well as other folks, particularly through Neos Alexandrina. If you want a good dead-tree textbook to have on hand both for theory and ideas to formulate practice, this is a great option. Lewis’ essays run the gamut from hard research about the original syncretic practices, to what it is that modern Greco-Egyptian syncretists can do in daily practice.

As with the other Bibliotheca Alexandrina texts I’ve reviewed (and you’ll find all of the current titles on my review blog except for Unbound and Echoes of Alexandria), I found this to be a breath of fresh air when it comes to the research. So many pagan texts today are based on half-assed “scholarship”; Lewis has most thoroughly done his homework, both in finding information and in interpreting it in a practical manner. You don’t need to worry about squishy-soft polytheism or claims of ancient Greco-Egyptian UFOs here. Bibliotheca Alexandrina, as a publisher, has represented itself well with its high standards of research, and this book is no exception.

In short, if you want to study and/or practice Greco-Egyptian syncretic polytheism in the 21st century, this will be an invaluable text to you. Highly recommended.

Five pawprints out of five.

Review ©2009 by Lupa
Edited by Sheta Kaey

Lupa is the author of Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, A Field Guide to Otherkin, and co-author of Kink Magic, among other works. You can read her blog at http://therioshamanism.com and see her website at http://www.thegreenwolf.com.

Book Review: Longing For Wisdom

June 5, 2009 by  
Filed under books, hellenismos, paganism, reviews

Book Review: Longing For Wisdom

Longing For Wisdom: The Message of the Maxims
by Allyson Szabo
CreateSpace (June 27, 2008) $15.99
ISBN 978-1438239767
154 pages
Reviewer: Lupa
Full starFull starFull starFull starFull star

“Know Thyself.” This is one of over a hundred maxims carved into a stele outside the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. More than empty platitudes, these simple sayings not only guided Greek society, but were also instruments for teaching and learning Greek language and culture. While many people know of the importance of myths of the Olympians and others in Greek religion and culture, not as many are aware of the crucial role that the maxims play not only in a historical context, but the potential applications that they have to practicing Hellenic polytheism today.

Allyson Szabo couches her exploration of thirty-four of the maxims within the context of their origins and their historical uses, having done thorough research. However, rather than leaving them in the past, she shows ways in which they are relevant to our time today, whether we’re pagan or not. She’s very clear in explaining that interpretations – and even translations – lead to a great deal of subjectivity, and so the maxims, despite having been carved into stone, are far from being fixed in stone, metaphorically speaking. So she offers us an excellent context for the remainder of the book.

The bulk of the text involves her discussion of the maxims she’s chosen to highlight. Anywhere from one to three pages may be dedicated to her really thinking about what each maxim means and what lessons may be drawn from it. Very quickly it’s apparent just how relevant these are to our society. For example, when discussing “Control anger,” Szabo offers some solid, basic psychological advice on how to control – not repress – anger, and why it’s important. “Obey the Law” isn’t just a blind following of whatever’s on the books, but also a call to examine and criticize unjust laws (which also can be tied to “Shun Unjust Acts”). And, perhaps one of the most relevant to our busy society, “Consider the Time/Use Time Sparingly” is a much needed prompt to examine how we do use the limited resources of time we’re allotted. At the end of each maxim’s section, Szabo includes an exercise or things to contemplate to further incorporate the message of the maxim in one’s life.

I also have to commend her for her excellent footnotes. She goes into great detail with supporting information, historical and otherwise, which just adds to the thorough contextualization of the material as a whole. As with all the Bibliotheca Alexandrina titles I’ve read thus far, the research is among the best available, particularly for pagan publishing standards, and I was not at all disappointed in this regard despite my own pickiness.

This book has a few notable potential audiences. Students (and teachers!) of philosophy should take a look, particularly for seeing a modern application of the maxims rather than only as relics of a culture long past. Hellenic pagans, of course, will want to thoroughly study this text to get a better understanding of the roots of the culture from whence their beliefs came. Neopagans in general, even if Hellenismos isn’t their path, may find this to be of great interest as a solid example of taking ancient “artifacts” and making them relevant to the 21st century. And anyone who likes well researched nonfiction dealing with a particular topic in great detail will find this to be a highly engaging and informative read.

All in all, another wonderful text from Bibliotheca Alexandrina that will appeal to the scholar and practitioner alike!

Five pawprints out of five.

Review ©2009 Lupa
Edited by Sheta Kaey

Lupa is the author of Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, A Field Guide to Otherkin, and co-author of Kink Magic, among other works. You can read her blog at http://therioshamanism.com and see her website at http://www.thegreenwolf.com.

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