A Collective Gathering Place for Readers, Writers, and Seekers

The Lost Pillars of Enoch, by Tobias Churton

The Lost Pillars of Enoch: When Science & Religion Were One, by Tobias Churton
Inner Traditions, 1644110430, 325 pages, January 2021

Although I was excited to dive into The Lost Pillars of Enoch: When Science & Religion Were One by Tobias Churton, I will also admit to feeling slightly intimidated by the subject matter. Religious history is interesting to me, but this book was denser than my usual reading for review fare and certainly not my area of expertise. It is, however, the author’s area of expertise, and he skillfully presented an enormous amount of information in these 325 pages.

Tobias Churton, a British scholar, author, and lecturer at Exeter University, has authored an impressive number of books regarding history and esoteric belief systems including Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and Gnosticism, as well as biographies of those involved in these studies and systems, including several biographies of Aleister Crowley, and at least two titles that are now on my wish-list (Occult Paris: The Lost Magic of the Belle Epoque and The Spiritual Meaning of the Sixties). The more pages I turned, the more comfortable I became with the idea that I would indeed be able to understand the imposing subject matter at hand and the main premise of the book: the idea that once upon a time science and religion were one.

Our journey begins in antiquity with an explanation of how information was carved into pillars (stele) as a way of record keeping. One example given was Herodotus’ (ca. 484-425 BCE) account of conqueror Sesostris’s pillars that included this passage:

“When those that he met were valiant men and strove hard for freedom, he set up pillars in their land whereon the inscription showed his own name and his country’s, and how he had overcome them with his own power; but when the cities had made no resistance and had been easily taken, then he put an inscription on the pillars even as he had done where the nations were brave; but he drew on them the privy parts of a woman, wishing to show clearly that the people were cowardly.”1

This passage seemed to present much more than just an example of how history was recorded, and it is an example of how far back we can trace certain mindsets and attitudes as well.

Of the many pillars carved, inscribed, and painted to preserve history, the pillars in question — the pillars of Enoch — were supposedly carved with information so important to our survival that it was inscribed upon pillars made of brick and marble because these would survive should the world be destroyed by flood or by fire.

The book is divided into three parts and moves quickly through a compact history of religion, which then proceeds into part two, the bulk of the book, which deals with Hermetic philosophy. Being very interested in Hermeticism, I found this entire section highly illuminating. And although this section covers an extensive history of “believers” and supporters of both science and Hermeticism, from the Medici family, Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, to famed court magician John Dee, and even on to Aleister Crowley in the relatively recent past, the thing that stood out to me the most was what the belief they all had in common. This belief is basically that something has gone wrong, in that we have lost touch with something our species once knew and understood. This results in an idea that we have to look to the past in order to move forward into a better future.

The passages on Isaac Newton were particularly eye-opening for me, especially considering the premise of the book (that these pillars were inscribed to withstand flood and fire) and the discovery that Newton’s notes (millions of words sold at auction in 1936, now in the process of being revealed by The Newton Project, Canada) suggest a diluvium ignis, or deluge of fire, in 2060.2 I found myself certainly hoping that Newton was not a prophet.

Churton touches on the current popular archaeology portrayed on websites and documentary television and how there seems to be a basic spin from the explosion of alternative life theories associated with the 1960s, along with millions of adherents that find today’s science to be less friendly and more likely to be prone to government manipulation, politicization, and to being bought and sold.

One of Churton’s proposals that I found to be quite profound is the idea that although we have been taught over and over, that the “ascent” of man is a progressive, generally upward affair, perhaps man has devolved and may yet evolve from a state that is now latent, or partially accessible within us. I find that thought very refreshing in the light of so much current talk within spiritual communities of “ascension” – an idea that does not seem congruent with so much societal behavior today. Part Three of the book is titled Paradise Regained?  and the author once again makes some very thoughtful statements about our future as human beings and why the thoughts and ideas presented in esotericism are important to how we navigate it.

Overall, I enjoyed The Lost Pillars of Enoch very much. The author presented a large amount of historical information in a balanced and insightful way, along with an occasional dose of humor that lightened the otherwise heavy subject matter. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in esoteric history and hermeticism. I’ve gained insight into how many of our current day ideas about spirituality, prophecy, and science have developed over time, and I’m encouraged that many of the myths we hold dear still have an important message for us.

Exploring Other Lifetimes, by Patty Paul

Exploring Other Lifetimes: Memoir of a Soul’s Journey, by Patty Paul
IMDEX Publishing, 0964272601, 174 Pages, June 2021

Do you believe in past lives and that the present can be impacted by the experiences you had in previous incarnations? I personally do, especially after some impactful regression sessions I’ve had that provided a lot of insight into my current attitudes, feelings, and beliefs. In Exploring Other Lifetimes: Memoir of a Soul’s Journey, Patty Paul shares her spiritual awakening through the exploration of past lives. Reading her story has reaffirmed many spiritual truths in my life, and it also has awoken me to new dimensions of the spiritual realm that I had previously not known much about. From start to finish, I was drawn into her honest, heartfelt account of the power of uncovering our past lives for personal growth, healing, and enlightenment.

Patty Paul, who acknowledges that this is only her currently incarnated self, has been exploring and teaching about spiritual growth for decades. She has authored another book titled A New Spirituality: Beyond Religion, and she also hosted a TV talk show called Living Wisdom for ten years. You can see really neat episodes of her interviewing well-known channeled beings on her YouTube channel. (For those who are new to channeling, I would highly recommend watching some of her videos to see how the process works!)

What I like most about this book is the way that Patty weaves together all her lifetimes to clearly present them in memoir style. She believes not only are these past lives impacting present events, but that they are also taking place simultaneously in a multi-dimensional reality. Through her experiences, she’s been able to unveil quite a bit of information about current circumstances by traveling to her past lifetimes through meditation and also working with channeled beings.

Throughout the book she mentions certain techniques she uses, such as blending, to merge her energy with that of the person in the past life experience. She has been both male and female in different lives, and some of her incarnations date back to prehistoric times and even Atlantis and Lumeria. Now I realize when these places are brought up, many quickly dismiss their existence as New-Age propaganda. However, I was immensely impressed by Patty’s rejection of many New-Age idealism, which makes me feel her work is grounded in some deeper and more authentic.

I have always kept an open mind about the existence of these places, and to be honest, am more inclined to accept them on a spiritual level than an ideological one. What I mean by this is that I am not as convinced by those who have mapped out exactly where they were placed and the exact purpose of these places, but I did find Patty’s descriptions of her incarnation in these places to be testimony to their existence on some level of reality, at some point in the time/space continuum.

In fact, I very much enjoyed learning more about Lemuria and Atlantis through Patty’s stories of different incarnations. Quite a few of her past lives highlight how Atlantis lost the balance between masculine and feminine polarities, becoming too hyper-focused on technological advancement and exterminating “undesirable” people who did not fit the status quo. The destruction of Atlantis sadly made me reflect on our current time in history, where it seems as though many of the lessons are repeating themselves.

On that topic, overcoming or altering lessons repeating themselves seems to be one of the greatest benefits of engaging in exploration of one’s past lives. In one section, “Ties That Bind — Lifetimes Related to Present-Life Events,” Patty describes five different lifetimes where the events were influencing her life trajectory in this incarnation. By remembering these lifetimes, she was able to access a new perception of her reality in the present, and regain more conscious control of current events.

In some of the lives, she even benefited from going back to the time of death for these former incarnations. One time she held her former self in love and peace as they passed, and this helped to unblock energy in her current life. In another lifetime, she needed to figure out the last dying thought of her former incarnation that was presently impacting her current life. By doing this work, Patty’s current life always shifted for the better as her sense of self expanded to incorporate these new dimensions of her spiritual being. Reading all her stories, which are filled with emotion and historical information, really inspired me to be more proactive about discovering my own past lives.

It was touching to read about Patty’s five key foundational lifetimes, which were described in the first section of the book. For each lifetime, she told the story of her experience and shared the key takeaways, both positive and negative. I found this method of sharing to be very impactful; it really helped me to see how understanding these lifetimes can make a huge difference to allow someone to move through life with a more expansive awareness of the dynamic in play.

Room Decoration in Purple and Gray, by Agnes Pelton, 1917

I found Patty’s story so immensely profound because I enjoy storytelling as a form of learning and sharing wisdom and also deeply respect those who share their wisdom, especially when it’s not very “mainstream.” I particularly was fascinated by her lifetime as a little girl named Maya, dating back to 37,200 BC. This one really touched my heart and seemed to awaken me to the purpose all lives have and also the connection we share with nature.

I also very much enjoyed the section titled, “Loves, Lost and Found — Completing Stories,” where Patty discusses the romantic relationship she’s had in this lifetime in which she and the man also had former lives together. It was so interesting to hear these stories, and it gave me faith that love is never lost and can travel through time, allowing people to meet time and time again. Patty also had a connection to artist Agnes Pelton, a painter who strived to capture the spiritual world in her transcendental paintings. Reading the story of how Patty remembered her connection to Agnes was synchronicity and a very beautiful story.

Throughout the book, Patty is candid in her personal struggles, from resorting to alcohol at one point to struggles with her daughter who suffers from mental health problems. Her honesty paved the way for trust for me as the reader, as well as allowed me to see the genuine desire of Patty to share this information not for personal gain, but to simply share the wisdom she’s learned through her current lifetime.

In the final section, Patty describes lifetimes where she had mastered her spiritual wisdom and the events in that incarnation reflected this. One lifetime that really stood out to me was when she was Crystal Temple Priest in Atlantis. Reading about the crystal grids that powered Atlantis was super interesting. Her stories affirmed for me that we do learn and grow spiritually with each lifetime, and there will be opportunities to live the wisdom we’ve developed through different incarnations.

Overall, I really loved Exploring Other Lifetimes. It inspired me to incorporate more regression, meditation, and perhaps even channeling into my spiritual journey. I believe wisdom is meant to be shared, which Patty has done with skill and grace in service to a higher good. Leading by example, Patty invites us too to explore other lifetimes to better navigate the present reality. Her story, and the stories of all her former incarnations, are ones that will be with you for quite a while on your journey, calling you too to come and discover the greater journey of your soul.

The Book of Candle Magic, by Madame Pamita

The Book of Candle Magic: Candle Spell Secrets to Change Your Life, by Madame Pamita
Llewellyn Publications, 91309165998, 317 pages, October 2020

What a true pleasure to find The Book of Candle Magic: Candle Spell Secrets to Change Your Life by Madame Pamita — the most all-encompassing book on candle magic that I’ve ever read! Confession, before digging into this book, I had a pack of 20 candles in a variety of colors since December 2019 that had never been touched after unwrapping them. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the time to begin a candle magic practice, I simply lacked the wisdom of how to do so to make it feel like I was truly doing something worthwhile.

The extent of my candle magic practice was essentially using a birthday candle here and there for a quick wish. Well, I can say this has all changed significantly thanks to Madame Pamita’s immense knowledge of candle magic, which has been so thoroughly and graciously shared in The Book of Candle Magic, that I am now trying all sorts of different things with confidence, knowledge, and great results thus far.

Madame Pamita is a tarot reader, rootworker, and teacher. She has a YouTube channel filled with information in her series Candle Magic Class and Magic Q&A Tea Party. For inspiration, I also looked through her website, Parlour of Wonders, which is filled with spells, magical materials, and kits for those who prefer something pre-made with instructions. She also has previously published Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True. Needless to say, Madame Pamita is a wellspring of practical tips and anecdotal experience coupled with sincere knowledge of her craft.

Before delving into the content of The Book of Candle Magic, I just want to take a moment to reflect on it’s beautiful, sturdy cover. The majestic purple inlay with silver and gold make it a very memorable book, filled with magic and mystery. It has a durability to it, making me feel assured it can withstand the inevitable wax drippings that I will get on it while using the handy references in the appendixes. The pages are laden with purple section headers and extremely helpful and well-crafted imagery, making it a very visually appealing book to read.

There are fifteen chapters and five appendices, in addition to a foreword and introduction. Obviously, I can hardly touch on everything covered in the breadth and scope of this book, but I will do my first to highlight some favorites and share my experiences in reading the book. One thing I noticed immediately is that it was very useful to read the book in the order it’s written. While I was itching to get started on my candle magic from the get-go, I saw how patience would yield the best results. You know, it’s fire, which has a quick, action-oriented feeling to it elementally, but working with the fire, tending to it, and mastering it required a whole skill set I had yet to cultivate, which lucky Madame Pamita was providing from square one.

What I realized most as I worked my way through the book was the subtle nuances to the craft of candle magic. Suddenly, I wanted a candle snuffer, wick trimmer, and new candle holders. I fully plan on dedicating a portion of Summer of 2021 to learning to create my own candles, hand-picking the waxes and scents best suited for the work I want to do. I ordered wax to create my own sigil seal, and also bought new paper specifically for writing out my petitions. All these small details seem to be adding up to make a big difference to the ways in which my spellwork manifests.

Madame Pamita has lit a fire within me to explore this type of magic, which really resonates with my husband and my fire moons and ascendent. It’s been a fun practice to share with him as well. So far, we’ve gone combing the beach for different sea shells to use in our candle magic, which was inspired by one of my favorite sections of the appendixes titled “List of Magical Shells.” There are also lists for magical herbs, gems, and talismans to be incorporated into one’s candling workings. I’ve also spruced up my herb collection and become more mindful of simple talismans I can incorporate into the work.

In addition to being very conversational in the book, Madame Pamita is also very pragmatic and conscious of the impact of her words. I say this because she’ll give small suggestions to make this work more eco-friendly, for those who are mindful of the effects on the environment. After reading the section about how even the way the candles are lit can have an impact, noting the debate between matches and lights, I decided to purchase a rechargeable electric light that seems to bring a bit of Uranian energy to the spellwork. I value that now I can even intuitively know which type of energy I want to light my candles with, increasing the spell potency. She also warns against leaving candles lit unattended or nearby curtains. While these seems like common sense, I applaud Madame Pamita for ensuring the safety of those she is guiding through this work. Sometimes gentle reminders are needed to be mindful in our workings. I say this because I do have a tendency to knock things over a lot! 🙂

There is also plenty of information shared about incorporating the magical energies of numerology, astrology, and the art candle reading. Not only am I now able to create candles with my more awareness of blending energy, I can also use the candles as a form of divination to see how the spell may play out. Madame Pamita covers wax reading (ceromacy), interpreting the flames of the fire (pyromancy), and smoke reading (capnomancy). This section was so useful for adding a new repertoire of knowledge of these forms of reading candles, and it certainly made my connection to the candles and the spellwork more intimate.

My next undertaking is going to be multi-day candle magic. I think now I’ve gotten the basics down, and I believe following Madame Pamita’s wisdom I can take it to the next level. One thing that’s for sure, I will be carefully planning it out. Now that I know how smaller candles can support a master candle, and that I can burn multiple candles over the course of days or divide one larger candle into sections, I feel like I have more potential to work with.

At any magician’s heart I think lay a desire for immense creativity and freedom in how we bring our spells to life, as they are cast from the very depth of our being. This is what Madame Pamita has offered above all in The Book of Candle Magic — the information to craft spells that are unique to you. With her knowledge and insight, there are so many ways a practitioner can take this book and run with it in all sorts of directions. It is a one-stop shop for all things candle magic, offering a plethora of guidances, advice, and tips.

Candle magicians of all levels will find something useful in this book, and it’s one that I know will be kept on hand for a long time to come. I am feeling called to end this with a heartfelt thank you to Madame Pamita for sharing so much of her accumulated knowledge all in one book. I feel like I cannot state the value of this writing enough, and I am so grateful for all the insight, inspiration, and opportunity it’s given me to expand my candle magic craft.

Forbidden Fruits, by Joscelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro

Forbidden Fruits: An Occult Novel, by Joscelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro
Inner Traditions, 9781644111574, 288 pages, December 2020

What happens when Mexican Gothic crosses with The Da Vinci Code? You get the spellbinding novel, Forbidden Fruits: An Occult Novel by Josecelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro. This  thrilling mystery kept me guessing “who dun it” until the near end. I mean, a book that weaves together the magic of alchemy and entheogens, turning history on its head, in order to prevent the spread of evil in present times. Needless to say, I was hooked from the get-go and read the whole thing in 24-hours because I couldn’t put it down.

Godwin and di Sospiro have previously co-authored another book, titled The Forbidden Book. Keeping with the theme of forbidden, the authors continue to use their background to unveil information through fiction once again. Godwin has written extensively about spiritual connection fostered through music in his books which include Harmonies of Heaven and Earth, Cosmic Music, and Music, Mysticism & Magic . Di Sospiro also has a background in music as a classically trained guitarist, but is most well known for the short film he wrote and directed If I Could Do it all Over Again, I’d Do it All Over You. He’s also published the books Leeward and Windward, which also has an alchemical theme, and The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong, which focuses on philosophical topics.

I’ll admit I was a bit leery at the start of Forbidden Fruits that it would be too much of a thriller for my taste, as there are violent scenes interspersed throughout. However, the action scenes are tempered by plenty of nuanced character interaction and dialogue that keep the story intriguing from start to finish. While the plot is centered upon a murder mystery, which can easily become run of the mill, there were many distinguishing features that set this book apart from others.

To begin, the main character, Monica, is an archeologist who is funded by a very eccentric man named Sebastian. After years of searching, they have just happened upon an ancient find that has the potential to change the perception of history. However, this plot thread is only one of many. There’s also the oracle predictions warning an ancient secret society of evil on the island, neo-nazis who are wreaking havoc and murdering innocent people, and a huge immigration problem of Africans flocking to the coasts of Malta. With Sebastian being a noble and respected figure in Malta, he finds himself smack dab in the middle of the turmoil.

I won’t give away the climax of the book, but a turn of events forces Monica to team up with Sebsatian’s elusive son, Raphael to solve the case, all while assassins are out for them as well. There are endless twists and turns in the book that don’t come together until the very last pages of the book. I really enjoyed the variety of possible ways the story could go and watching the storm brew, wondering how things would play out.

There were many modern social justice issues raised, from the growth of hate groups to widespread immigration. While I am not very familiar with the current socio-political climate of Europe, specifically in Italy and Malta where the story takes place, I can see the current global trends happening in the United States as well with the rise of hate groups and human rights issues at the borders. The integration of present world problems heightened my ability to connect to the story, as I could easily understand and relate to the challenges the characters faced.

The best part about this book is how it incorporates alchemy, archeology, and entheogens into the plot. While there are countless stories of wizards, magicians, and occult societies dabbling in labs trying to find the Elixir of Life or the Philosopher’s Stone, I had never seen alchemy from the lens portrayed in Forbidden Fruits. Godwin and di Sospiro have done a wonderful job of illuminating the alchemy through Raphael and his journey to uncover the mysteries hidden within; readers get to experience firsthand the character’s perspective of ritually consuming the sacred soma.

Alchemical drawings and apocalyptic texts sprung to life when viewed from the perspective of entheogen consumption. Godwin and di Sospiro create a whole new paradigm through which to understand Jesus Christ’s message and the words of the Bible by linking it to the ritual consumption of entheogens. While Carl Jung’s Red Book never seemed much more than imaginal pictures to me, I suddenly understood through the writing of the authors how these images can in fact truly mirror archetypal energies.

In our technologically and secular world, the idea of demons and maleficent forces seem arcane. However, reading Forbidden Fruits spurred on my investigation into demonology, helping me to see the value in knowing these energies that could potentially still be within the world. By blending the supernatural with occult knowledge, I feel as though Godwin and di Sospiro elucidated the value of alchemy, beyond the personal plight of truth, knowledge, and life essence often perpetuated in the mythos.

What I enjoyed the most was the humility of the alchemists. With trust in their order and dedication to the natural law, one’s station in life was not as important as the legacy of the alchemical wisdom they protect. With the rise in conspiracy theories, secret societies seem to be all the rage in popular culture, and often to the detriment of these sacred orders. I appreciated there was no self-effacement on the order’s part to assert their will, but rather they used their tools to assist the protagonist Raphael in his own mission quite discreetly. Forbidden Fruits accurately captures the true nature of the groups that protect esoteric knowledge with dignity, respect, and loyalty — a concept that could use some reviving in modern times.

I highly recommend Forbidden Fruits to anyone looking for a good mystery novel, especially if you have an interest in the occult. Godwin and di Sospora have created an illuminating novel that makes the reader question the true nature of Christianity, while also demonstrating and offering insight into how the use of entheogens may be one of the oldest sacred rituals. The characters ultimately must decide for themselves how far they are willing to go to find the truth, and following along in their journey is absolutely fascinating.