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Editor's note: This is a regular feature in Silver Star Journal. Any and all readers are encouraged to submit book, film and music reviews for this column if they feel they pertain to the magickal community. Send submissions to:  robertcarey12@gmail.com

Book Reviews by Shade Oroboros, Guest Review by Papa Nick

Initiation in the Aeon of the Child: The Inward Journey by J. Daniel Gunther, Ibis Books 2009, 223 pages, illustrated, glossary, bibliography.

Seldom indeed hath the A.’. A.’. (Astrum Argentum) spoken out in recent years; it was Aleister Crowley’s magical Order, as distinct from the more political and Masonic wing of the O.’.T.’.O.’. This is indeed a rather thoughtful work, exploring the path of initiation in terms of biblical exegesis and esoteric history, Jungian psychology and Thelemic qabala, the changing of the Aeons and the charting the aspirant’s development via the Tree of Life. Previous knowledge of Crowley’s rather elaborate system is definitely useful, but for those so equipped there is much to consider here. I only wish for less theory and more practice, although there are many hints… and frankly, there seemed to be a bit more about the Old Aeon than the New, and some of the philosophical content seemed a bit confused. Nevertheless there is a great deal of value to consider here, coming from an author with many years of working in this complex system, which can certainly use a teacher to explain it. Hopefully more will follow; and it is also a good idea to read the informative glossary, which has some concentrated information.

The Ending Of The Words: Magical Philosophy of Aleister Crowley by Oliver St, John & Sophie Di Jorio, Ordo Astri 2009, 137 pages, illustrated, glossary, bibliography.

I must admit that I find myself liking this book even more than the previous one, although they have many concerns in common. Another excellent and perhaps more modern study of the essence of Thelema, including some very interesting thoughts on its relation to the science of modern physics along with various psychological, astronomical and egyptological insights. The authors make considerable reference to the thought of Kenneth Grant as well, and do accept the paradigm of the Dual Aeon of Horus/Maat; and they are far more focused upon the implications of the Book of the Law itself, rather than the complexities of Crowley’s later system. There is also much discussion of the changing archetypes and historical chronology of the Aeonic time-periods, some of it unavoidably from a biblical perspective, although not an unenlightened one. All in all one of the best contributions to the 93 Current I have seen in years, and deserving of a wide readership. There is much more information at their website: http://www.ordoastri.org/OA/Ordo_Astri.html

Aleister Crowley: A Modern Master by John Moore, Mandrake 2009, 215 pages, notes and index.

A rather novel approach to the multidimensional Sphinx that is Crowley: neither a biography nor an exposition of Magick, but a series of essays exploring the evolution of his thought and the cultural milieu he inhabited, as a man both of and quite ahead of his time. The author examines the influence of Protestantism, which was clearly formative in Crowley’s early life and later thought, and while seldom thought of as a revolutionary movement today caused huge ferment and religious warfare in its time (few people recall that Crowley wrote an entire book about Jesus, and fewer still have read it). He addresses the genuine oddities of Crowley’s conflicted self-identification as both a progressive radical revolutionary and a Tory English Gentleman who regarded British Imperialism as a great gift to the world; and also as a student of philosophy, providing some important thoughts on the man’s many influences. Yes, there is an excellent section on Magick, as well as a discussion of his ‘sexual Stalinism’. Crowley really is one of the widely unrecognized but still important underground influences on the 20th century, and a very complex, paradoxical and brilliant man, and such a seriously scholarly study is long overdue. While I seldom judge a book by its cover, I also quite liked the design of a Rubik’s cube sectioning various pictures of Crowley; we must acknowledge that the man was a puzzle!
(There is an extract from this book on the 41st page of this issue of Silver Star.)

(And not to knock our next title, but I wish that they had chosen a different image than that shot of Crowley on a burro that makes him look like some sort of Andean hippy…)

The Weiser Concise Guide to Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski, edited by James Wasserman, 127 pages, illustrated, bibliography.

As it says, an introduction by one of the Great Man’s best biographers, the author of the magisterial Perdurabo. Designed as one of an excellent series of introductions to occult subjects (alchemy, yoga and herbalism are already out), it concisely covers the details of Crowley’s complex life and personality and the structure and practices of his organizations (the O.’.T.’.O.’., A.’.A.’. and E.’.G.’.C.’.), as well as providing a useful guide to his many books and an excellent bibliography. There is a history and overview of magick and mysticism, basic qabala and yoga, definitions of many terms and some rare and entertaining illustrations. The book also includes many of his fundamental rituals with solid advice on how to practice them; a phonetic guide to properly pronouncing the Greek of the Star Ruby is certainly useful. Obviously, sex magick could not be left out. It concludes with contact information and some online resources. All in all, a very good summing-up of a complex subject, packed with information, both a welcome guide to the beginner and a solid and thoughtful read for those who already appreciate the words and works of the Prophet 666.

White Stains & The Nameless Novel by Aleister Crowley, Wet Angel 2008, 184 pages, some illustrations.

These rarities must have fallen out of copyright, various editions are popping up like mushrooms, but this seems to be one of the nicer ones. Few messiahs are known to have written much pornography, but Crowley is rather a special case, and his has the virtue of being extremely funny as well as vilely filthy. White Stains collects his erotic poetry, much of it rather lovely, but arranged as the works of a poet who is going insane and dying of syphilis, so as you move along they become more extravagant and increasingly hairy. I am especially fond of ‘With Dog & Dame’:

‘In creamy clouds of latticed light
That hint at darkness, but descry
A rosy flicker through the night,
My mistress, my great Dane, and I…’

Take a wild guess where that is going… bestiality is hardly the most extreme event, nor is the charming poem ‘Necrophilia’.
The Nameless Novel was written to amuse his wife Rose and has recently resurfaced; other editions may not include it. It recounts the erotic career of an Archbishop, is extremely perverse, very funny, and virtually indescribable in a family-values publication like this one.

TOASTAR! Further Adventures In Chaos Magick by Francis H. Breakspear, Hidden Publishing 2009, 123 pages, illustrated.

This is a another very funny, clever and creative follow-up to KAOSTAR!, the author’s previous work of down & dirty results magick, again full of innovative techniques and novel suggestions for raising power and achieving actual effects with simple household or technological stuff. There is food magic, mirror magic, .jpeg and CD and cell-phone magic, projection of sigils by flashlight beam or laser-pointer, home-made oubliettes (don’t ask!), a revision of the lesser banishing pentagram ritual based on the god-forms of Charlie’s Angels, sigils marked in honey or seeds to be eaten and spread by insects or birds, the Frisbee as pantacle, mantras coded into hard-drives, how to make sigils into bar-codes and print them on a t-shirt, vasectomy magic (again, don’t ask!), retail gnosis, spider rituals, the power of silence… you know… Chaos Magick!

If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It: Beginning Practicing Magic and Thinking About Magic and Paganism in the 21st Century by Francis H. Breakspear, Hidden Publishing 2008, 327 pages, illustrated.

And this is the big all-new anthology of the same author’s work that I am sure you have all been waiting for, a somewhat more serious guide to learning and practicing the arcane arts, and a definite contribution to the field. One hates to say ‘more mature’ (probably an insult, I’d take it as one!) but this really is a substantial and diverse work covering a vast number of aspects, techniques and paradigms, a detailed ‘How I Did It!’ by Herr Doktor Frankenstein and his magical Monster. There is a LOT to think about here, including some additional contributions by fellow travelers Dave Evans and Kate Hoolu. Magick is universal and archetypical, magick is personal and creative; ‘the more I learn, the less I know’, but everything is a piece of the puzzle, and I just love books like this one.

Hands-On Chaos Magic: Reality Manipulation Through The Ovayki Current by Andrieh Vitimus, Llewellyn 2009, 386 pages, index and bibliography.

Wow, this is about the biggest Chaos Magic book I’ve ever seen! And really a very good one. Appropriately enough, the author has trained in multiple other paradigms as well, including Haitian Vodou, Reiki, Qi Gong, and Hypnotherapy. His initial approach leans heavily toward body work, yoga and breathing; moving on to energy work and exploring the senses, not unexpected from a Reiki practitioner. The many exercises become more advanced and more magical elements are introduced as the book continues: trance working, sigils, talismans (which seem to be among the more unjustly neglected arts of sorcery in these decadent times, at least in my opinion). Divination, invocation, astral entities and group workings evolve. This is a very substantial system, and I find it quite impressive.

Raising Hell: Subversive Spirituality, Insurrectionist Witchcraft and Black Magic by Kali Black, Megalithica Books 2009, 134 pages, bibliography.

This is a great damn book, and the author is now one of my personal heroines. Making magick real involves genuine engagement in the real world, and many of us are so disengaged, disenfranchised, disinterested or flat-out zombified that the notion of the personal as political seldom comes up. This work makes that link, largely from a revolutionary perspective, and drawing on many diverse antecedents both occult (Wicca, Voudon, Chaos Magick, ToPY) and anarchist (including Hakim Bey, William S. Burroughs, and Grant Morrison’s holographic hypersigil The Invisibles). There are well-informed rants on the ills of society (I love a good rant!) and pointed thoughts about unfortunate aspects of our culture; intelligent exercises both practical and psychological; and new creative and unusual sorcerous techniques, including Toontra (must be seen to be believed) and Anarchoshamanism (a very good idea). There is much that is both admirable and subversive here, in a book packed with ideas and idealism (of a rather diabolic kind!) and covering an enormous range of issues from NLP to entheogens, guerilla actions to Waking Up.

Talking About The Elephant: An Anthology of Neopagan Perspectives on Cultural Appropriation, edited by Lupa, Megalithica Books 2009, 247 pages.

This is a very timely and thought-provoking anthology examining an amazing range of issues, and really showcases both the diversity and complexity of the Pagan and Magical Revivals. The proverbial elephant in the room and in the title is the thing that no one wants to talk about, in this case cultural appropriation, a concept that brings forth discussion of many problems from many perspectives of both revivalist and neo-traditions. One first might think of the obvious issues of ‘plastic shamanism’ and spiritual tourism, the New Age rip-offs of Native American cultures, but this expands to many other issues: if you draw your practices and mythology from long-dead ancient civilizations like Egypt, are you on safe ground? What about heathen festivals absorbed and continued by the Church, as happened in much of Europe and the British Isles: who owns them now? Does simply flipping the seasonal Eightfold Wheel of the Sabbats around for Wiccans in Australia and New Zealand really make sense, and how accurate a historical reconstruction is this essentially Gardnerian creation, and for that matter the many forms of Celtic revival in general? What about the controversial concept of UPG (unverified personal gnosis) in Asatru, where some fill in the blanks with their own visions of the Gods? Are Druidism and Vedic religion drawn from a common source? What about Caucasians drawn to Voudon, sometimes leading to the uneasy hybrid termed Wiccadoo? There are 16 contributors here, some practicing unique forms I’ve never encountered; and there are both pagan and academic scholars represented, which is generally considered to be progress in magical studies, but also turns the issue of cultural appropriation on its head: are some academics with their own agendas exploiting Pagan communities as subjects for research? There is an awful lot going on here, and I have barely scratched the surface… a fascinating book!

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot? Over. Keepin’ It Real in Esoteric Magic by Collen A’Miketh, Megalithica Books 2009, 131 pages, and bibliography.

There often seems to come a time in the career of a mage when a book emerges, exploring the perennial tradition in personal terms, and this is an excellent example. The customary framework of modern magick supports constant innovation and addition and adaptation from new fields of thought, and there are plenty of insights and accounts of personal experience expressed with humor. There are also lots of thoughtful and practical exercises, which I often suspect are some of the most admired and least used parts of occult books. It’s very easy to say, “That’s very clever!” and never follow the thought any further… magick really works, but only if you work at it. I also like the fact that the author often uses a runic cosmology; I am really tired of qabalistic rehashes, and Yggdrasill is a more pagan and organic Tree of Life. Clever, creative, well worth reading. There is Poker Magic, and the Obligatory Grimoire is included and appreciated. Near the end, however, there is a section on sigilically reprogramming your friends that is a bit disquieting… but what the hey?

Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies, 368 pages, Oxford University Press 2009, illustrated, indexed, bibliography.

An absolutely fascinating and encyclopedic work of very obscure world history, a truly excellent academic study of forbidden magical texts ranging from the clay tablets of the earliest times to the contemporary paperback Necronomicon. From all around the world are gathered details of the lives of the sorcerers and their inevitably banned books, their lives and not infrequently the persecutions that ended them. A bizarre parade of arcane names: from Faust, Agrippa, Paracelsus, to Mathers, Waite and Budge, P.B.S. Randolph and more than a few of the shadier saints and popes. The various Solomonic Keys, the Icelandic Galdraboks, the Arabic Picatrix, the Golden Dawn, the mass-market manuals of 1930s Voodoo (my acute case of bibliomania may be seen in my appreciation of the stories of publishers like DeLaurence and DeClaremont!) and the Wiccan Book of Shadows. The needs and desires of clerics and soldiers, the secret plots of nobles and commoners, gamblers and prostitutes, treasure-hunting Mormons, the wrathful and the lovelorn… this is also the saga of printing and literacy, of very brave underground publishers and often corrupted texts, of the Inquisition’s war on heresy and the burning of witches, and the racial prejudices of the U.S. Postal authorities. Sadly, Crowley is rather slighted, instead of seen as the culmination of a long tradition, but this remains a massive and utterly engaging tome. I have previously reviewed his earlier work Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History.

Stellar Magic: A Practical Guide to Rites of the Moon, Planets, Stars and Constellations by Payam Nabarz, Avalonia 2009, 210 pages, illustrated.

A wonderfully useful and scholarly grimoire compiled from both a myriad of diverse ancient cultures and sources (Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Persian, Arabic, Zoroastrian, Mithraic, Gnostic, and Sufi) and many modern magicians and poets and esoteric sources as well (even Crowley! He pops up everywhere these days!). It is both an informative history of myth and star lore and a practical guide and workbook for practicing stellar magic. There are opening and closing rites to frame invocations of Orion, Sothis, Perseus & Andromeda, Cygnus, the Pleiades, Draco and the Great and Small Bears, as well as the traditional Seven Planets and the Zodiac. A fascinating read and a genuine contribution to the rediscovery of the Secret Science of the Sages. I like revivals like this!
(There is a substantial extract on the 12th page of this issue of Silver Star.)

Stairway to Heaven: Chinese Alchemists, Jewish Kabbalists and the Art of Spiritual Transformation by Peter Levenda, Contiuum 2008, 256 pages, illustrated, footnotes, bibliography, index.

A fascinating and scholarly study of psychospiritual technology and ascent literature worldwide, a concept perhaps most widely known through the Vision of Ezekiel and the Throne & Chariot practices (Hekhalot & Merkavot and later the Kabbalah) of Jewish and Essene mysticism. Beginning with the roots of these traditions in Babylonian religion and Egyptian magic (which influenced the Jews during their Captivity) the author proceeds to find parallels in various Shamanic cultures, African and Afro-Caribbean practices including the Dogon tribe and Voudon, Vedic Hindu and Vajrayana Buddhist meditations, and Taoist alchemy and astronomy. While briefly theorizing on possible lines of cultural diffusion, the emphasis is on the actual practice of the ascent, which in all these cultures is focused not upon the planetary schema but upon the North or Pole Star, the constellation of Ursa Major/the Big Dipper, and other astronomical lore including the significance of the number seven. This is a serious hypothesis well worth exploring further.
Turning to the west, he discusses Neo-Platonism, Mithracism, Gnosticism, Yezidis, Sufis, European Alchemy, the Florentine Academy, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, Dee’s Enochian visions, the Frankist movement and the Asiatic Brotherhood, along with later groups of Christian Kabbalists including initiatory orders like the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, the Golden Dawn (and its origins), and Crowley’s OTO (which often emphasizes Daath or the Abyss). While largely focused upon his main thesis, many amazing ideas emerge along the way.

Roman Religion by Valerie M. Warrior, Cambridge University Press 2006, 165 pages, extensively illustrated and indexed.

This is an introductory guide to all aspects of the ancient Roman gods and their worship both public and private, covering divination, sacrifice, prayer, weddings and funerals, rites associated with warfare and fertility, and public festivals and their notorious and bloody games. We tend to think of Greek deities and philosophy and democracy as the roots of western civilization, but imperial and cosmopolitan Rome probably influenced us even more, especially since their state religion essentially morphed into the Roman Catholic Church and continued to rule much of the world for centuries. The Roman pantheon was syncretized with both Greek and Etruscan mythology, and as the Empire spread many foreign cults arrived from all around the Mediterranean world and beyond, such as those of Isis and Cybele, Attis and Dionysos, and hybrid gods like Mithras and Serapis. Eventually the Jewish heresy of Christianity brought everything crashing down, and whoops, we had the Dark Ages and civilization ground to a halt. There are many excellent illustrations, a good section on magical practices, and another on the process by which the emperors were deified: as Vespasian said on his death-bed, “O dear, I think I’m becoming a god.”

On Becoming An Alchemist: A Guide for the Modern Magician by Catherine MacCoun, Trumpeter Books (Shambhala Publications) 2008, 265 pages, bibliography.

At first I found this book rather New Agey, but it was recommended by a source I respected, and as I stuck with it I found it growing on me. Not really a technical manual on alchemy or magic, but a rather clever psychological discourse on the esoteric thought-patterns they imply, and how these have evolved into the 21st century, and upon the traditional stages of change and development and growth which a practitioner of these mystical arts may find passing through them as they transform themselves. Compassionate, intelligent and often humorous, with some useful insights.

High Magic II: Expanded Theory & Practice by Frater U.’.D.’., Llewellyn 2008, 464 pages, illustrated.

The author continues his interesting exploration of an eclectic modern system of magical practices, sequentially presenting aspects from a very wide range of traditions: shamanism, Egyptology, folk magic, Tantric yoga, qabala, Crowley, Castaneda, divination, demonology, the Golden Dawn and Fraternitas Saturni, Spare, Chaos Magick, palmistry, Solar workings and combat magic… among the things I especially like are details from lesser-known German sources like Franz Bardon, an important figure in the magical revival who should be better known for his training program, system of evocation, and use of magical mirrors. This may sound like a bit of a patchwork or hodge-podge, but taken along with the first volume he really is weaving a substantial system of exotic history and diverse techniques. Method in his madness? The author is well known as an influential early member of the I.O.T. and for his earlier books on Sigils and Sex Magick.

The Flowering Rod: Men and Their Role in Paganism by Kenny Klein, Megalithica Books 2009, 193 pages, bibliography.

As Wicca evolves and spreads as a major religion, it is growing up and facing all the issues that that implies. That can include gender issues, with a bit of a twist, since it is women who are more or less in charge for a change. The aspects of being a man in a woman’s circle are certainly addressed with considerable thought, but at the same time this is also a substantial ritual Book of Shadows, devoted to the Celtic gods and particularly the male deities, and it is also a history of this evolving movement. Paganism’s revival has come a long way since Gardner, and has creative scholars in a field seldom recognized by academia. That seems like progress to me…

Jimmy Page: Magus, Musician, Man: An Unauthorized Biography by George Case, Hal Leonard Books 2007, 293 pages, illustrated, footnoted and indexed.

It is fairly well known that guitarist Jimmy Page is something of a lifelong devotee of Aleister Crowley, collecting his books and possessions and eventually buying his former home Boleskine House in 1970 (sold in 1992, and now a bed & breakfast inn on Loch Ness) and the Equinox bookshop in London. Led Zeppelin acquired something of a satanic reputation because of this, although Page, a rather private man, has never spoken publicly of his esoteric influences in anything other than fairly general terms, and one can hardly blame him. Unfortunately, there are only a few brief details to be found in this book, which is however an excellent rock biography of one of the best damn bands ever. Page says “I read Magick in Theory & Practice when I was about eleven, but it wasn’t for some years ‘til I understood what it was about.” Well, me too!
Page also composed music for (and appeared briefly in) Kenneth Anger’s underground film Lucifer Rising, although they severed relations and the soundtrack was eventually done by the Manson Family’s Bobby Beausoleil. Since we have just reached the 40th anniversary of the Manson Family killings, it is interesting to note that three weeks before Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme attempted to shoot then-President Ford she also attempted to get back-stage with Led Zeppelin, and left a written message… also, she was recently released. Crowley has had quite an influence on rock stars, from his appearance on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (next to Mae West) to songs by David Bowie and Ozzie Osborne to albums by Graham Bond, who fancied himself his illegitimate son.

Something From The Nightside, Agents of Light and Darkness, Nightingale’s Lament, Hex and the City, Paths Not Taken, Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth, Hell to Pay, The Unnatural Inquirer, Just Another Judgment Day; all by Simon R. Green.

I like to have some fiction in this column but don’t seem to have much time to read it lately, I wonder why? This entertaining series mixes a hardboiled detective, chaotic magick, science fiction, pop culture, ultraviolence and quite a lot of humor. The Nightside is an alternate dimension where anything goes, and the protagonist is its most notorious troubleshooter (and rather a lot of people and other things do get shot). Loaded with clever character concepts and twisted plots, a guilty pleasure perhaps but eminently readable, rapidly becoming a saga.

It reminds one of Cynosure in John Ostrander & Tim Truman’s brilliant Grimjack comix, which are currently having a miniseries revival; another big favorite of mine.

Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot by Paul Huson, Lo Scarbeo 2008, fully illustrated 78-card deck, brief booklet.

Paul Huson is the author of two of the really great books on the Tarot, The Devil’s Picturebook and Mystical Origins of the Tarot. This deck is clearly based on the research in the second book, and is a very creative re-visioning of the earliest forms of the deck, notably the Tarot of Marseille and the works of Etteilla, and other continental sources. It is an elegant, colorful, insightful rendition of the most classical versions of Tarot, and it does have fully realized images for all of the minor arcana, not just the usual pile of coins or swords. If anyone was ideally suited to create this set of images, to catch the spirit of that age – he is the one!

The Vampire Tarot by Robert M. Place, St. Martin’s Press 2009. 78-card deck & 227-page book, boxed set.

The author/artist of this work also created the outstanding Alchemical Tarot and others based on angels, saints and Buddhism. In all of these he shows a clear and elegant style. The Vampire tarot is actually a lot of fun! The major arcana depict elements drawn from the ur-text Dracula and other sources of lurid bloodsucking lore. The four suits are Knives, Stakes, Holy Water and Garlic Flowers, and the court cards mostly represent various artists, actors, poets and writers associated with the Undead. The accompanying book, as I have come to expect, is a detailed and substantial contribution to the fortuneteller’s art, covering the history, philosophy and techniques of the tarot as well as a vast amount of vampyric folklore and literature.

Tarot Tips: 78 Practical Techniques to Enhance Your Tarot Reading Skills by Ruth Ann Amberstone & Wald Amberstone, Llewellyn 2003, 192 pages, indexed.

Drawn from the lessons and newsletter of The Tarot School in NYC, which since 1995 has run classes and major events, this book is cleverly arranged as a series of tips and answers to questions from students, so it covers a very wide spectrum of issues: choosing and caring for your decks, meanings and difficulties of interpretation, reading techniques and spreads, meditation and sparking creative writing, qabala and astrology, the legality of going professional, and the important issues of ethics. This only scratches the surface of a very useful and informative work full of condensed information. See http://www.tarotschool.com/ for their online resources.

Kabbalistic Tarot: Hebraic Wisdom in the Major and Minor Arcana by Dovid Krafchow, Inner Traditions 2005, 133 pages.

A very personal and rather nice book that works on two levels: the scholarly background of a very traditional Kabbalah student, and the intuitive musings of a longtime tarot reader. This left/right brain method works quite well, and his naturalistic approach to interpreting the smallest details of the visual symbolism of the Rider/Waite/Smith deck yields both insights and a practical way of interacting with the cards.

Guest Review by Papa Nick

APHRODITE'S PRIESTESS by Lauralei Black, Asteria Books, Jeffersonville, Indiana, 2009.
This is an engaging and practical handbook for women who have heard the call of Aphrodite, and who want to awaken the goddess within and serve Her.  It is informative as well for men who have fallen for the sea-born goddess of love and war, and are willing to serve Her as "temple dog" (not a pejorative term, btw: they just do the heavy lifting).

Like so many modern magicians, Lauralei does not rely on one tradition; she has chosen colorful threads from several traditions that speak to her, from Celtic/Druidic Pagan, the Craft lines of Robert Cochrane, to Thelema and the Qadishti Movement, to weave her many-colored veils.  She does not speak with the voice of authority, but that of experience, providing pointers to resources and practices from which any potential priestess of Aphrodite may weave her own Way.

Lauralei is not a Greek Reconstructionist, but there is much here on the history and myths of Aphrodite and her lovers.  Herstory is important, but the life story of Aphrodite is not yet complete.  She and her sisters have been invited to the 21st Century, and they have answered the call, bringing healing and pleasure to a bruised and battered world.  Today's priestesses of Aphrodite are writing new chapters in the book of Love.

The revival of Sacred Sexuality is not an easy thing to accomplish in the repressive and oppressive world we live in, still under the yoke of masculine monotheism.  The author makes it clear, though, from the very first chapter, that being a priestess of Aphrodite is not just about sex -- it is about grace and beauty, humor, intelligence and pleasure.  The priestess of Aphrodite is not a courtesan, geisha or prostitute, although she might wear any of those masks at some time.  She is a conduit for very ancient waters, when the world was a better and saner place.  We need Her now, more than ever.
There is a dark side to the goddess of Love -- she isn't just about bubble baths and roses.  That side is not neglected here, either -- the furnishings of the Temple of Aphrodite include latex, leather and chains alongside the silken scarves and feathers.

Two Aphrodisian rituals are included, but Black doesn't present these as must-do's.  There are exercises suggested at the end of each chapter, crafted to provide a deeper understanding of the subject matter, and suggested further reading as well.  Black is a teacher, and that shows in the skill and clarity of her writing, but she knows that the learning is up to the student.
The first printing of this book was titled "In Her Service", and it is that in its present incarnation too.  A work of devotion, offered from a chalice full of love -- what more could one expect from a Priestess of Aphrodite?