Novy rok!

Jan. 1st, 2010 01:41 pm
collowrath: (Default)
It's a New Year, finally.  This is especially nice since last year sucked balls.  There is a traditional superstition in my family and among Slavs in general, I think - what you do on the first day of the New Year resonates through the rest of year; it sets the tone for what's gonna go down.  For instance, we don't lend or give away money on the first, for fear that we'll spend the rest of the year handing out money (and being left with none by the end)!  So today, I'm reading books (I finished one, good sign), relaxing (something I need more of), and cooking dinner (some pork - for good luck).

The book I finished was Slavic Sorcery, by Kenneth Johnson.  It was a good book.  It explored Slavic magic in a modern context, providing just enough historical information so that it would make some sense.  He also attempted to deconstruct some of the traditions to remove the Christian veneer (which I felt was unnecessary, as did the Doctors who wrote the forward, but not altogether unpleasant or negative toward the book).  In the end, there was very little that I learned from the book that was entirely new; however, there was quite a bit that I had known, but not known how.  The concise instructions are immensely helpful to someone who is starting out in Slavic mystical practice, whether Christian or pagan.

I have a couple of gripes, which I've voiced before (though not here, as I haven't posted in a minute).  My first and primary gripe is the insistence on the term "Pagan Earth Magic."  The reasoning given for this in the book is that it was practiced by villagers with an intense relationship with the Earth, and natural processes.  I am plagued by the reaction, "... as opposed to what?  Pagan Mars Magic?"  This tends to flow directly into my other gripe - the author's constant references to Slavic tradition as being "remnants of ancient Goddess worship," even after having taken the time to inform the reader that an overarching, ancient Goddess civilization is fantasy.  He also tends to use "chakras," "family karma," and other "Eastern" terms, because they are now recognized Western jargon.  This is easily excused, as his Russian contacts had a tendency to use these terms as well, though I do wish Johnson had been given better opportunity to find the Native terms he's trying to refer to.  Much of my issue with the book stems directly from the author's relative inexperience within Slavic culture and his overlay of Western concepts and Western Neopaganism over a tradition that has nothing to do with it.

Just keep in mind, while reading, to do a little "translation work," unless the generic Neopagan veneer is what you're looking for.  I would definitely recommend the book for someone interested in practical Slavic magic, especially if that person is already pretty knowledgeable about the mythology and language involved.  Otherwise, I'd still recommend it, but I would also recommend taking extensive notes and doing supplementary research (which, as skillful readers, we all do anyhow... right?).

Now it's on to reading Night Watch, by Sergei Lukjanenko.  I've heard fantastic things about it, but never took the time to acquire it.  Fortunately, I have a best friend who knows me better than I know myself, and she took the liberty of ensuring that it, and its sequel, made its way to me.  The first chapter is pretty amazing and I'm looking forward to the rest of it!

Збогом, и срећан нови година!


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