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Miss W. Merrymoon "Willow Merrymoon" (West Yorkshire, England)

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The Awakening Human Being: A Guide to the Power of the Mind
The Awakening Human Being: A Guide to the Power of the Mind
by Barbara Berger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Well And Truly Awake!, 11 Feb. 2012
The author's intention in writing this book is to alert the reader to the nature of reality, to identify the obstacles to living that reality, and to offer tools to enable the reader to move towards it.

The book is divided into three main sections - firstly, the eleven mental laws that determine how the mind works; secondly, section two looks at the importance of using the mind wisely, and offers two sets of tools in order to facilitate this - a) focus tools, and b) investigation tools. Thirdly, the final section is all about how to put the first two sections of the book into practice in daily life.

In her introduction Berger begins by looking at the nature of reality, stating that it is our unrealistic expectations of life that lead to great unhappiness, and that it is our thoughts about something that determine our experience of it, rather than the thing itself.

This leads on naturally to the first part of the book, which is about the eleven mental laws that govern us all, no matter who we are. Some examples of these laws are as follows:- law no. 1 - thoughts come and go, and "no-one knows why or where thoughts come from....." (p.23). Law no. 4 - cause and effect - "the thoughts that we entertain - determine our experience of life" (p.36). In other words, it is how and what we think of something that makes it what it is for each individual, e.g. one person might experience cold weather as something unpleasant, whilst another might see it as bracing and energising - the weather is the same, but the responses are different. Law no. 9 - substitution - if our thoughts are causing us to be unhappy, it is no use telling ourselves not to think of that thing, because by its very nature there is an immediate focus on it. Instead, it's a shift of focus that's required.

These examples demonstrate the author's extraordinary clarity of thinking, and her straightforward writing-style, making her book accessible right from the outset. In this chapter, as in the rest of the book, Berger makes repeated invitations for the reader to test out her statements for themselves rather than just swallow her words whole. To this end, she gives simple step-by-step guidance.

Moving on to section two, this part of the book looks at just how we are creating our experience of reality and what that experience is. Further on in the book, the author states that "you can live a happy life now - no matter what your circumstances are" (p.92) - all you have to do is to make the choice to be happy. This does seem like a huge pill to swallow when considering , e.g. people who are living in extreme poverty and starvation; people living in fear for their lives on a daily basis.

Berger then presents the reader with two kinds of mind tools that are necessary in order to achieve the sort of change she is talking about. Firstly, focus tools. She makes the fundamental point that whatever a person focuses on, grows, and therefore focusing on positive thoughts can only improve a person's life, whilst being focused on negative thoughts will inevitably bring more misery. Some examples of the focus tools are:- 1) gratitude lists - literally, making lists each day of things to be grateful for such as having a comfortable bed, having running water, having good friends - the kind of things that we take so much for granted that we don't often think about them. Focus tool no. 4) What it takes to eat my breakfast, which is an exercise in appreciation of all that has gone into that experience, e.g. the farmer who planted and harvested the grain for the toast; the hens that laid the breakfast eggs; and the beauty of the crockery in use. Focus tool no. 8) Let everything be - i.e. just be with what is in any given moment without judging or resisting it. In all, there are eleven focus tools which do seem to encompass every aspect of being.

The author's investigation tools are techniques "that can help us identify, question and lessen our attachment to the negative thoughts and belief, that are preventing us from experiencing the goodness of life which is fully present right now" (p.132). There are five of these tools, two of which are - no.1) No comparisons - it is only by comparing 'this' to 'that' that we get angry, discontented and upset etc.. She is making the point that if this moment were the only one we had, and we had no memories of any other moments, it wouldn't be possible to compare it to any other moment, and the consequence would be peace of mind. No.3) Focusing on the real - when in crisis and panic begins to take over, it is very helpful and grounding to focus on the concrete, e.g. the chair on which we're sitting, the book on the table next to us, the plants across the room.

Throughout this section of her book Berger consistently offers practical exercises, things that we can actually do rather than just reading airy-fairy ideas that might be interesting in themselves but of no practical use.

The final chapter of Berger's book is devoted to the putting of all the above into practice. The structure that she offers is that of a daily programme, making the obvious yet often overlooked point that to make any change takes consistent practice and dedication. She suggests three different levels of daily practice, which she calls "Getting Real Light"; "Getting Real Regular"; and "Getting Real Turbo".

Following on immediately from the daily programmes, Berger talks about the fact that change is a process that is not necessarily an easy one - "....this is not to say that the journey will not be challenging. The reality is - the journey is challenging - and sometimes very challenging!" (p.171). In order to assist 'the journey' (reviewer's words), the author suggests that it is a good idea to have people for support, and also to be of help and service to others.

Berger's final comments are about the 'Ripple Effect' - ie. when we change, our world changes, and consequently the way we relate to others changes. Therefore the way others relate back to us changes, and this is the way the world changes for the better - starting with 'me'.

At the end of the book is what Berger calls "Bollum Talks to Barbara" - Bollum being her own personal Smeagol/Gollum (Lord of the Rings). It is written in conversational style and peppered with humour yet is very pertinent and gives a 'smack-in-the-eye' view of the kinds of internal conversations we all engage in.

Having got to the end of the book, it has become evident that the vast majority of the book focuses on the wonders of reality and how we can chose to be happy. Early on in the book it seems as it Berger isn't going to mention that change can be really hard work, but as the book progresses she does address this. Perhaps this is a reflection of her own thoughts that what we focus on, grows. Therefore, too much focus on the difficulties would probably have created obstacles and kept the reader stuck in the idea of this being too hard to do, i.e. seeing problems, not solutions.

It is hard to express in words just how profound this book is. The amount of information that Berger has put across is astonishing and leaves one feeling that this is food for the soul. She has absolutely delivered on her intention and her book is a must for anyone who is serious about changing their lives.

Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living
Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living
by Melusine Draco
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Traditional Yet Modern, 11 Feb. 2012
Draco's intention in writing this book is to demonstrate how it IS possible to be a traditional witch whilst living in a town or city, and her response to pagans who think it is almost impossible is "Tosh, tosh! And thrice tosh!" (p.1).

In addressing this, the author addresses many issues - recognising the countryside and wildlife that is right under the urban-dweller's nose; the absolute importance of psychically protecting oneself against all the encroaching negative influences that are so prolific in built-up environments; celebrating the festivals and observing the moon in a limited space and how to make that small space sacred; the development of the 'art of seeing', i.e. divination; ideas on how to create a green environment no matter where one lives; and the all-important question of 'where to next?'.

The author begins by pointing out that these days the vast majority of pagans live in towns and cities for convience sake, and that this inevitably raises the questions which rural dwellers need not consider, i.e., how is it possible to to manage from a practical viewpoint. Her answer is simply - "We get up close and personal" (p.2). In other words, adapt to the environment and see solutions, not problems. Draco offers some simple exercises to assist the reader in engaging with her suggestions, something which she does throughout the book and which are invaluable.

At this point, Draco also distinguishes between witchcraft and wicca. She uses the phrase "real witch', which seems to suggest that some people who call themselves witches are not 'real' ones. There are other points in the book where she uses the same phrase and this could be interpreted as arrogance. However, it does become more apparent as the book moves along, just what she is saying.

The author then goes on to bring to the reader's attention that 'countryside' is right where we are, e.g, plants, herbs and growing out of walls, by railway lines, in the wreck of disused buildings, in the park etc., and urban foxes, water voles, and even red kites in some places. One of Draco's distinctions between a real witch and others is that although there are people who can identify herbs and may use them in cooking, it is necessary to go further by knowing when and how to harvest them, what their medicinal uses are and how to make decoctions safely with them. It is becoming apparent at this point that Draco takes very much a no-nonsense approach and doesn't allow excuses for not knowing.

Moving on from there, Draco looks at what she terms the 'urban shadow-world', ie. the negative attitudes to witches historically and how that is carried over into the twenty-first century. Her cautionary words are that "anyone from any denomination, faith or creed who goes OTT in flamboyantly displaying symbols of their religion is automatically labelled a crank, so why should it be different for pagans?" (p.39). this naturally leads on to a discussion of ways for the witch to protect her/himself against attack.

Following on from that, she then goes on to look at the actual pratice of celebrating the Sabbats, giving a brief explanation of the meaning of each one. In order to practice it is essential to create sacred space and she offers various suggestions as alternatives to the usual nine-foot circle; to quote a good example, "When living-space is at a premium, one solution is to invest in one of those small Eastern does offer a small but clearly defined area in which to work. This technique can also apply for anyone who is confined to a bedroom or a wheelchair" (p.59). This typifies the author's very practical approach to urban witchcraft, seeing answers and not issues.

On the subject of spells which would, of course, be carried out in sacred space, Draco refers to the importance of connecting with the right correspondes, e.g. days of the week, phase of the moon, and points out that it is not necessary to have masses of ritual equipments. "In the good old days, witches would have utilised whatever household items came to hand".

Next comes the subject of the 'Art of Seeing', ie.e divination, one of the basics of being a wtich, and, needing few props, is ideal for the urban-dweller. The author's list of divination techniques includes the usual ones such as cartomany and palmistry, but also some little-know ones, e.g. leconomancy - oil poured on water; sciomancy - the interpretation of the size and shape of shadows; and zoanthropy - an interpretation of the flames of three candles in a triangular formation. The author also makes a very important point, that only information can be gained form books and that real knowledge on this or any other subject can only be gained through dedicationa dn practice.

Moving on to the creation of 'green space' in an urban environment as an alternative to open fields and woods in rural areas, Draco again makes very simples suggestions such as herbs on the window-sill, and plants anywhere from hanging baskets to bin-sheds and coal bunkers. She also offers a beautiful ritual for the dedication of green space, making the reader realize just how little space is truly necessary.

The penultimate chapter focuses on spiritual transformation, exploring the question of whether a person can have spirtual beliefs and practices with being affiliated to any religion. This naturally leads on to look at the difference between faith and religion, and ultimately to questions of the distinction between magical ethics and morals. Towards the end of the chapter the book seems to have come full circle in returning to the question of whether a person is witch or wiccan/pagan. This is done in such a way as to help the reader identify their own answer by engaging with a searching exercise.

In her very important final chapter, Draco addresses the issue of whether a person goes down the route of engaging with the typically 'New Age' practices and products, usually resulting in focus on a (spiritual) world in which calm, peace and tranquillity are the norm; or whether one gets to grips with the not-so-comfy aspects of spiritual development, much of what by it's nature may be considered scary. She makes the point that the person who opts for the latter can expect to be often misunderstood by the former, again using the term 'real witch' in describing how that person must be willing to acknowledge and experience 'the dark night of the soul'. What Draco seems to be saying, but doesn't do so directly is that it's okay to take the 'New Age' (my words), but that those people ought then to describe themselves as pagan/wiccan, rather than witch.

One final quote from Draco is "The mysteries are there.....but they can only be fully understood through personal dedication and experience".

So, has the author fulfilled her intention in writing this book? The answer has to be a loud and resounding yes. It is a truly remarkable book, absolutely invaluable for both its practical aspects and its spiritual/magical application. If at time Draco comes across as not tolerating fools gladly, so to speak, it is because she is absolutely dedicated to her craft and utterly passionate about it. She speaks from the deepest conviction. An absolute must-have which is easy to read and truly riveting.

4000 decent very funny jokes
4000 decent very funny jokes
Price: £0.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Decent? You Must Be Kidding, 5 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book does have 4000 jokes, but lots of them are repeated. There are many indecent jokes that are offensive, racist, sexist, fat-ist and any other 'ist' you can think of. It is divided into sections and the strangest thing is that you can't click on a section and go to it. You have to turn over a page at a time. Imagine you're on joke 232 and want to look at joke 3095. You need a lot of time and patience, not to mention finger-power to do so. The book looks like it was cobbled together by someone who was eating dinner and thinking about tomorrow's outing at the same time. It is only 77p and not even worth that. If I could have give it a no-star rating I would have done so.

Flipping Brilliant: A Penguin's Guide to a Happy Life (Extreme Images)
Flipping Brilliant: A Penguin's Guide to a Happy Life (Extreme Images)
by Jonathan Chester
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars People-Pleasing Penguins, 5 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What a beautiful book this is. It is hard-backed with a fabulous dust-jacket and very high-quality paper. This photographs are exquisite and the text is so heart-warming. You don't have to be a penguin-lover to enjoy this book. It is fantastic value for money.

1914 and Other Poems
1914 and Other Poems
Price: £0.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1914 And Still Relevant, 5 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book was a Kindle freebie and is a really good read. There are many poems in it, very poignant but also uplifting. I would happily have paid for this book as Rupert Brooke's work is excellent. Many hours reading ahead.

Paladone Fishing Gift Set with Mug and Harper Collins Joke Book
Paladone Fishing Gift Set with Mug and Harper Collins Joke Book

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gone Fishing, 5 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This item made a lovely xmas present for my great-nephew who loves fishing. The joke book is fun, the cup is robust and attractive, and the tin in which it was packaged is really great and can be used for all manner of things. I bought a 'Jack Russell' Set last year and got this one as the J.R. one was so nice. I highly recommend this as a gift for any age.

Childrens Bedroom Door plaque- 10cm FAIRY Shatterproof Acrylic Mirror *** CHRISTMAS SALE *** *Personalised for FREE*
Childrens Bedroom Door plaque- 10cm FAIRY Shatterproof Acrylic Mirror *** CHRISTMAS SALE *** *Personalised for FREE*

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall, 5 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this item for an xmas present and had the recipient's name engraved on it. Although it is a small item, the engraving looked beautiful and I would definitely buy another. It is delicate looking, pretty and value for money.

Medisure Splinted Wrist Support Brace Left Extra Large 20 to 22 cm
Medisure Splinted Wrist Support Brace Left Extra Large 20 to 22 cm
Offered by Nightingale Nursing Supplies
Price: £6.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A Right Good Support, 5 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this item to go with the one for my right wrist and it does a fantastic job of relieving pain and giving great support. When the pair wears out I will definitely be buying more. They are a great fit and very good quality.

Help Ma Boab! (Oor Wullie Funbooks)
Help Ma Boab! (Oor Wullie Funbooks)
by Oor Wullie
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long Live Wullie!, 5 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is really fun, entertaining and value for money. 'Oor Wullie' has been around for an awful long time and still manages to produce something new each year. Long live Wullie!

No Title Available

2.0 out of 5 stars Not Even Small......., 5 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was disappointed when this item arrived and saw how tiny it was. It was supposed to be a main present for a family member but I ended up buying a supplementary gift as this looked more like a little stocking-filler. The personalised gift-tag was nicely done, if you had a magnifying glass to read it, and although the contents were attractive, I would not have bought it had I seen it 'for real' first. The 'handy hank of jute twine' was too small to serve any real useful purpose in the garden.

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