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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Often imitated but rarely equalled, 26 Feb. 2009
This review is from: The Call of the Horned Piper (Paperback)
A great little book, when it came out all those years ago it was quite a departure from what was being publish under the title witchcraft. Since its publication it has been incredibly influential on other writers on the subject. A book often imitated but rarely equalled.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Jan 2010 09:24:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 6 Nov 2011 00:14:05 GMT
Thanks for your kind comments. A few words about my view of this early work of mine may be called for. Firstly the ever-popular but groundless thesis of some kind of historical continuity of a furtive organised cultus of witches in this highly literalized context can be entirely dispensed with, on the principle of Occam's Razor. This book really treats the themes of transvection and such within a purely mytho-poetic context - typically it's symbols and themes were taken far too literally by some and that is perhaps understandable.

My feeling about `Call of the Horned Piper' is that it contains, as it were, some valid wheat mingled among the wiccan/ `trad (sic) craft'-style chaff (which I regard as illusory) - the valid materials here in my view are basically certain insights into elements, often attenuated and highly decayed, of primordial symbolism to be found in medieval folkloric remnants, customs and themes. It's these elements and insights which I would think worth salvaging and sifting.

The essence of this work which to my mind remains valid lie in the folkloric patterns it traces regarding the cosmological symbolism of spatial and temporal liminality, archaic concepts of Anakuklosis and their implications and how these are to be found in various areas of European and British folklore, symbolism and folk-rite. Ironically it's this esoteric core of the work which has been largely overlooked by most readers in favour of superficial and inferior aspects which to my mind are of little if any value. (Mundus Vult Decipit) (Related themes are explored in my book `The Compleat Vampyre' in context of Slavic myth.)

Another crucial point to bear in mind is that from the outset this work situates its ideas within the paradigm of Dumezilian trifunctionality in the context of Indo-European antiquity and contextualised the themes mentioned above clearly within the `Third Estate', the Agricolae or traditional Commons.

Essential to this work are folkloric themes of `dead straightness', in keeping with the ideas of the German `geisterwegen' or Dutch `doodwegen' I describe, are central to its delineation of some metaphysical and primordial patterns in European lore and mythic remnants.

I certainly regard village customs, rural folk rites, dances, arts and crafts etc. as archaic inheritances within European folk-culture from the Middle Ages and as an often eroded repository of some highly attenuated elements of primordial symbolism.The essential scope of this book, that of focussing upon residues of archaic shamanic vestiges, Celto-Germanic in origin, in British and European folklore of the witch-figure, is a standpoint I still uphold and this thesis remains valid, even if my ultimate conclusions regarding the attenuated condition and decadent nature of such vestiges and my final interpretation thereof have changed in radical ways, qualified by deepening involvement in Traditionalist thought (For the record I am a symbolic artist, adherent and exponent of traditional esoterism and metaphysics but not a witch, neo-pagan or occultist and am no longer involved in magical practises).

As for the images and illustrations, they are probably the most important part of the book, truth be told. It was primarily created as a work of art and imagination, therein lies its real nature and probably the reason why it has stayed in print and exerted a certain influence.

NJ
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