Saturday, December 29, 2012

Celtic Devotional by Caitlin Matthews

*Previously published elsewhere - please see note at end of article.

Prayer crosses all cultural boundaries and doesn't need to be formal. However, even those who don't belong to a specific spiritual tradition would like a personally fulfilling regular prayer practice. Caitlin Matthews provides a basis for such a practice with the Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings. It has prayers for people regardless of what spiritual path they follow.

Devotional Calendar Layout

The calendar begins in November since that was the beginning of the year for the early Celts. There are four main sections which follow the ancient Celtic fire festival seasons. Matthews describes these as seasonal quarters as explained further below.

  • Winter quarter: Samhain (pronounced "Sow-in") is from November to January.
  • Spring quarter: Imbolc is from February to April.
  • Summer quarter: Beltane is from May to July.
  • Fall quarter: Lughnasadh is from August to October.

Prayers honoring the seasons open each quarter. The sections within the quarters are each divided into the seven days of the week with each day containing morning and evening meditations and prayers. These weeks are meant to be repeated throughout the months of the season. By presenting the information this way, the author provides a daily standard of prayerful spiritual practice which encourages practitioners to metaphorically equate the gifts of each of the earth's seasons with the phases of their own lives.

Along with the seasonal patterns, Matthews created specific devotions centered around the sun and moon. The morning devotions contain what she terms solar questions to ponder while the evening devotions have lunar meditations to help end the day on a peaceful note. Madeleine Johnson devised the perpetual lunar calendar used in the book to help calculate the lunar phases appropriate to daily devotions.

Knowing that special circumstances come up in everyone's life, later in the book Matthews offers prayers for different circumstances such as good dreams, happy relationships, newborn children, animals and times of sorrow.

Illustrations and Quality of Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings

This 144-page, hardcover book is beautifully illustrated by Katty McMurray with a theme reminiscent of the illuminated manuscripts of the early Celtic Christian era.

There are illustrations unobtrusively placed throughout the book which draws the reader into the devotions rather than detracting from them. The book itself doesn't seem as strongly bound as it should be considering it's meant to be used as a daily prayer book.

An Interfaith Devotional

Matthews states that she wrote this book for "people with a questing spirit who want to lay down a personal pattern of spiritual practice but who do not wish to practice within a specific religious framework." Specific deities aren't mentioned in the prayers. Rather, terms like "Sustainer of Life" and "Revealer of Dreams" are used so people of different faiths can adapt the prayers to their beliefs.

She created this work that is inspired by Celtic tradition but not a recreation of it. The lore of the Celts and Druids is what she draws upon, much of which was oral and later recorded by Celtic Christian monks. The Celtic Devotional will appeal to those who want to increase their sense of the divine in their every day lives and celebrate the seasons as an integral part of their spirituality.

About Author Caitlin Matthews

Caitlin Matthews is author of over 50 books on subjects within the Western Mystery traditions and the ancestral spirituality of Europe. She was trained in the schools of thought put forth by noted metaphysicians such as Dion Fortune and Gareth Knight. She teaches neo-shamanic workshops around the world and at the Foundation for Inspirational and Oracular Studies in the UK which she co-founded with her partner John Matthews and friend Felicity Wombwell.

She and John have co-authored many books and oracle systems with Celtic and neo-shamanic themes as well as on Christian mysteries including the holy grail. She has studied Celtic lore extensively and brings her expertise and considerable poetic talent to this devotional.

Note:  The widget below is the the American Amazon page but the book seems to be harder to come by in the US nowadays.  As of this writing, it's not available for order at the author's website but it's much less expensive at Amazon UK than here in the US.

[Note:  This is an original article by me that was first published at Suite 101.  Unfortunately, unscrupulous people have copied much of my work and posted elsewhere.  Please rest assured that all of the content on this site is my original work unless otherwise noted.]

FTC Disclosure:  I bought this book with my own funds and have not been compensated by the publisher for this review.

© Trish Deneen

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review of Pagan Book of Living and Dying

[This article was originally published on the Pagan site at BellaOnline and later at HubPages.  HP has deemed this article idle, so I'm republishing it here.]

*Please note that in some of my older pieces I used the term "Pagan community" a lot.  I've come to really dislike the term but at the time it seemed to fit how I was writing.

Pagans and Grief

As the Neo-Pagan community ages, we have come to realize the inherent need for something that more established religions take for granted – a process to help us with the death of a loved one. The Pagan Book of Living and Dying by Starhawk, M. Macha Nightmare, and the Reclaiming Collective provides valuable guidance for the dying, their caregivers, friends and family.

Grief can overcome us whether death is sudden or is brought on by a long illness. The stress is compounded when misunderstandings arise regarding religion. These misunderstandings can happen even if Pagans are completely open about their beliefs or still in the broom closet. This book gives practical suggestions to overcome obstacles and honor the wishes of the dying.

This is a collection of essays by various authors. Some of them describe very personal experiences with death while others give clearly practical advice. While there are rituals, chants, prayers and meditations, they are all given as inspiration rather than how-to manuals to be followed to the letter.

Adaptable for Use by Different Pagans

The authors begin by introducing Pagan beliefs. These are mainly from the viewpoint of the Reclaiming Collective which is more of a Goddess-centered spirituality. However, the section titled How to Use This Book clearly states that you are free to adapt the ideas presented for use in your own situation.

How Pagans View Death

The second part of the book goes into the Pagan view of death. Again, this is according to one popular strand of Paganism but gives a good enough overview for outsiders to understand that many of us have different ideas about death than our mainstream counterparts.

Pagans Share Their Stories

Parts three and four have some of the most heart-wrenching stories as they deal with the dying process and death in special circumstances. Part three covers things such as keeping a death vigil, preparing for death for yourself and others, and arranging funerals and memorials.

Authors go on in part four to share how they coped with tragic death including suicide, AIDS, and the death of a child. These essays were all well written but were difficult to read. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are in the deep throes of grief. Ideally, this book is more a preparatory guide to turn to when you are in a more positive frame of mind. However, the fact that death doesn’t always happen in ideal circumstances is very much the point of this section.

Grief, Preparation and Pagan Rituals for the Dead and Dying

Grieving and the practical concerns that need to be addressed after death are covered in part five. Many of us don’t like to think about our own mortality and put off legal paperwork such as a health care proxy and will. This section gives a solid reminder of how important it is to not procrastinate in this regard. Samples of both these documents are given in the appendices.

Rituals are given to help the dying cross over as well as examples of funerals and memorial services. There are also meditations and visualizations to help through every step of the dying and grieving process.

Helping Pagans with Grief

The Pagan Book of Living and Dying, was one of the first books to address this topic within the community. Even if you don’t feel drawn to the Reclaiming Tradition, it would be a good resource for clergy and Pagans of different paths to help facilitate a smoother transition for the dying and their loved ones.

FTC Disclosure:  I purchased this book and I have not received compensation from the publisher for this review.

Related reading:

Tips for Finding Pagan Clergy

© Trish Deneen

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Magical Aromatherapy by Scott Cunningham

[Author note:  This article was originally published in 2010 elsewhere.  I know some people consider Cunningham outdated or fluffy but I've always found his work to be balanced and evergreen, so I'm republishing the review here.  The review was written for people who may not have heard of many of the concepts. I hope you find it of use.]

Scent can evoke an emotional response both positive and negative. That response can be used in magic to create change.

Author Scott Cunningham provides an introduction to using aromatherapy effectively in magic and ritual to create desired changes in the magician's life in Magical Aromatherapy: The Power of Scent.

Essential Oils for Magic

Aromatherapy is a complex subject and is used as an alternative medicine treatment for physical and emotional health. Magical Aromatherapy is not a manual on how to treat health problems with essential oils but how to use them and other items such as flowers in magic.

Cunningham provides listings for many common and some less common oils. While the physical attributes are given, his focus is magical and he explains what magic the scent is best for including prosperity, love, protection or increasing psychic ability.

He gives examples of techniques to be used including visualization and inhalation for what he terms "programming of personal energy." This is called sympathetic magic and utilizes the concept that like attracts like.

The Use of Magical Tables With Aromatherapy

Magic tables are used to choose correspondences that relate to the magical operation at hand and increase the potential for sympathetic magic. For instance, a witch may want to know the best time of month to perform a love spell and be given a choice of appropriate crystals, incense, and zodiac correspondences to use for that spell. Below are the tables the author provides for this purpose:

  • Days of the week
  • Seasons
  • Lunar cycles
  • Crystals
  • Elements
  • Planets
  • Zodiac

He also provides substitutes for hard-to-find essential oils or when the scents called for in a spell aren't otherwise readily available. Some plant materials don't lend themselves to being used for essential oils and Cunningham has tables for what oils are generally artificial and those that are real.

About Author Scott Cunningham

Scott Cunningham is most well known for his books on Wicca. In fact, according to the publisher's website, his book Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner first published in 1988 has sold over 600,000 copies. Because of the book's availability and popularity, it's often one of the first introductory texts that new Wiccans learn from.

He was known for his down-to-earth writing style and ability to clearly explain Wicca to beginners which he also demonstrates in Magical Aromatherapy. He's often one of the people credited with bringing Wicca to the mainstream, something he also has been criticized for by people who believe it should remain an initiatory religion. He believed that Wicca should be more open to seekers. Sadly, an AIDS-related illness claimed his life at the young age of 36 in 1993.

Magical Aromatherapy is part of his impressive bibliography (over 20 books) which encourages people to learn and practice at their own pace as well as trust their own judgment. As stated, it's not an in-depth introduction to aromatherapy but a good resource for those who want to make aromatherapy a part of their magical practice.

© Trish Deneen
FTC Disclosure:  I write honest reviews of products I've tried. I purchased this book and I have not received compensation from the publisher for this review. I do, however, receive a small percentage from purchases made on Amazon through links on this blog. Your support of this sometime-blogger/content writer is much appreciated. Thank you.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Review of Welcome to the Episcopal Church by Christopher L. Webber

[Author note:  HubPages is making changes again and I'm moving some of my hubs to other outlets.  This article was originally published in 2011 when I was considering attending Episcopal services.  I don't plan to now, so please consider this a snapshot in time of my thoughts back then. But this is still a good intro book, so I'm republishing the review here.]

A Beginning

I've been looking for a church that isn't too far right or left of center and won't chase me from the pews if I don't take the Bible completely literally. I would also like a church that is open to discussion on the nature of God.

At the very least, I want to be left alone to contemplate God and vote for who I want to without being denigrated. Growing up Baptist and then spending 20 years in neo-paganism, I know this is a tall order as I've found that some people of both religions don't allow much room for discussion politically, religiously, or socially.

From the research I've done so far, the Episcopal Church would seem to be a good fit. But I wanted to read an introductory text on the church and Christopher L. Webber's Welcome to the Episcopal Church: An Introduction to its History, Faith, and Worship is where I began.

History of the Church

I've seen some reviews which criticize the fact that Webber has more history than theology in the book. I don't agree with this view. Besides being interested in history in general, I think someone completely new to the Episcopal Church would be interested in learning about its origins. Knowing the history of a branch of faith also gives you insight into what shapes the theology.

Webber covers the beginning of the church from the Church of England and its outreach to the world. He spends the most time on the history of the church in America which I found fascinating.

Theology and Worship

What attracted me first to even considering the Episcopal Church is their emphasis on scripture, tradition and reason—reason being the key word for me. Webber explains how the Bible is seen and interpreted in the church, something they get a lot of flack for. And after reading his explanation, I don't see why unless the person criticizing their approach actually thinks we shouldn't remember the times the Bible was written. He also delves into the fact that a cornerstone of the church is worship and developing a community which is what seems to have been the driving force in growing the church in America.

Study Format and the Author

There are questions at the end of each chapter to get readers thinking more. I would assume this book is used in new member classes in the church.

According to the bio in the book, Mr. Webber is an Episcopalian priest who has served in many types of parishes including city, suburban and overseas. He has a conversational writing style. He's speaks honestly about the good in the church as well as why some see it as negative. Some of his other books include The Vestry Handbook and Welcome to Sunday: An Introduction to Worship in the Episcopal Church.


The author touches on the most important aspects new members are likely to be curious about. But due to the fact that it's a very short book at under 150 pages, none are explained in depth. I give this 4 stars out of 5 for being a good place to start for those who don't know anything about the church.

FTC Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from the library and I have not been compensated by the publisher for this review.

 © Trish Deneen

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Runa Raven and Rune-Gild News

Update February 2013:  Unfortunately, I didn't receive my order from Runa Raven after many months.  I received one email with a lame excuse but did not receive any response when I asked them to either send my order or refund my money.  While I may still enjoy books that were published through Runa Raven Press, I couldn't recommend doing business with Mr. Thorsson if he ever decides to open the Press again.


Runa Raven Press, the Northern European tradition publishing house run by Edred Thorsson, is closing September 20, 2012.  Thorsson is the author of the rune magic trilogy consisting of Futhark:  A Handbook of Rune Magic, Runelore:  A Handbook of Esoteric Runology, and Runecaster's Handbook among many others.  I know he's a controversial figure but I enjoy his rune writings as part of the larger body of rune books by many authors and he's certainly no intellectual slouch.

They're still taking orders up until the end date.  Besides runic titles, there are books on Heathenism, other magical traditions and the left hand path.  Read more at the link.  Runa Raven Closing 9/20/2012

Thorsson's initiatory order, the Rune-Gild, has also undergone some changes in the last year.  A post from April 2012 states that the Gild was destroyed and recreated with a different structure.  Thorsson left as chief administrator of the Gild and it's now run by a High-Rede consisting of four members.  Thorsson still continues on as the executive officer.  From the site:
"An important dissolution, transformation, and reintegration of the Gild took place at the World Gild Moot on November 11th, 2011ev. Through ritual re-dedication and pragmatic reorganization, the Gild affirmed its essential unity and common purpose. There are many abroad in the world today who may have been part of the Gild in the past, but only those who were there when the Spear was raised and the Stone was carved – together with those they have named as fellow travelers – will truly know the shape of the Gild and do its work in years to come."
Thorsson's book The Nine Doors of Midgard is the foundation for the Gild's work.  You don't have to be a member to work with the book.  But if you wish to, then the first step is to become an associate which includes a one-time fee of $50.  With this, you receive Nine Doors plus Gildisb√≥k, a text that I don't believe is available to the public.  There is also a forum for members.  Visit the Rune-Gild site to learn more.

© P.J. Deneen

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Mark of Cain by Ruth Mellinkoff

I came across a fascinating little book while doing research on different witchcraft legends called The Mark of Cain by Ruth Mellinkoff.  This book actually has nothing to do with witchcraft but with Judeo-Christian concepts.

The mark of Cain refers to the biblical story of Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve.  Cain is known as the first murderer after he kills his brother whose offering was accepted by God while his own offering was rejected.  The 'mark' referred to in the title is mentioned in the story of the brothers in Genesis 4:8-15 (KJV):
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 
9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? 
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. 
11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. 
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. 
13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 
14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 
15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
That last verse is what has been a sticking point for many a scholar for centuries.  Was it an actual mark on the body?  Or was the word mark used to denote Cain himself?  It has been argued that Cain became stricken with almost a Parkinsonian-like disease that would have frightened away any who came near and that he himself was the mark.  It's also been speculated that this mark was a sign of God's forgiveness instead of his punishment and so no one dared kill Cain since God had already pardoned him.

Since Cain was thought of as a terrible sinner, the mark of Cain is a phrase that has been used to accuse people of being witches and devil worshipers.  Very early on Cain was associated with the Jews as a negative metaphor.  Saint Ambrose, an early father of the Church, stated in Cain and Abel*:
"In Cain we perceive the parracidal people of the Jews, who were stained with the blood of their Lord, their creator, and as a result of the childbearing of the Virgin Mary, their Brother also.  By Abel we understand the Christian who cleaves to God."
Makes you wanna puke doesn't it?  It was even once thought that the mark was black skin.

The author also looks at Cain's mark presented in literature and art.  A more modern piece of literature she dismisses as a "shallow interpretation" of the story of Cain is Demian by Hermann Hesse.  In his novel, Cain's mark is transformed into a mark of distinction that is only given to those with gifted insight.  While Ms. Mellinkoff argues that Hesse's explanation is far removed from the historical context and interpretations of the story, I have to wonder if modern witches and magicians haven't been influenced by this way of thinking about Cain's mark, which is said to be a sign of those with witch blood.  As an aside, I'm just starting to delve into The Pillars of Tubal-Cain by Nigel Jackson and Michael Howard which discusses some of the witch legends mentioned.  I'll do a post devoted to that once I'm done but Esoteric Online has an interesting discussion on it.

The Mark of Cain is a quick read at only 100 pages.  It's still a scholarly work (that's no filler but actual content) and Ms. Mellinkoff expounds on the possible meanings of the mark I've mentioned here as well as several other possibilities. It has about 30 pages of notes (beyond the 100 pages) and several illustrations.  Again, I'm tying this into my own research on witchcraft topics but this book would interest most students of Judeo-Christian history and sacred texts.

*Mellinkoff notes her source as Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel, translated by John Savage, Fathers of the Church.  Vol. 42. (p. 362)  New York, 1961.

**Note:  I know I've linked to The Pillars of Tubal-Cain on Amazon but it may be hard to come by or may be unreasonably expensive there.  I've found Magus Books out of Minnesota to be a reliable resource for some hard-to-find books or you can try the publisher's website.

FTC Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from the library and I have not been compensated by the publisher for this review.

© Trish Deneen

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Eliphas Levi on Magic

I'm currently reading The Essential Golden Dawn by Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, an excellent introduction to that magical tradition, and in it they quote Eliphas Levi on magic and prayer.  I just wanted to share it here:
"All ceremonies, consecrations, ablutions,and sacrifices are prayers in action and are symbolic formulas; and they are the most potent prayers because they are translation of word into action, showing will power and persistence, seeing that they require more constrained attention than silent prayer, or prayer expressed in words; and so they constitute real work, and such work demands a man's whole energy."
Not only is this a perfect answer to the question, "Why not just pray?" but it also reminds the magician what is needed to practice artfully - one's "whole energy."

Eliphas Levi was a french would-be priest turned occultist credited with greatly inspiring the Western Magical Tradition including the Golden Dawn.  Some of his books can be found at the Occult Underground.  A bio can be found at Great Tarotists of the Past.

© Trish Deneen

Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes and Processes

I was doing some research on the history of  Murray and Lanman's Florida Water used in conjure (though some say it was only used in Santeria) and as fragrance and after-bath splash.  I came across Catherine Yronwode's excellent article on the subject.  In it she mentions some sources for recipes on making your own waters including Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes and Processes.  I have no interest in making my own as I adore the Murray and Lanman product.  But I also saw the book mentioned in a survival forum which piqued my interest.

I found the book free on Google Books, though I'm sure you can find it reprinted at Amazon if you're inclined to buy it.  Florida Water is a unisex scent that has come to be used in hoodoo for cleansing and protection.  Page 514 of the book has the recipe.

I haven't read the book and am unsure if Henley means essential oil when he uses the term "oil of."  The process of extracting oil may be described in the book.  Yronwode also has a description on her article from Hiscox and Sloane's Fortunes in Formulas (I assume this is Fortunes in Formulas for Home Farm and Workshop) of what type of alcohol should be used in perfumery for the best result which is that distilled from wine spirits.

This would be an ambitious project and again I don't plan on making my own Florida Water any time soon.  But a book "containing ten thousand selected household and workshop formulas, recipes, processes and moneymaking methods for the practical use of manufacturers, mechanics, housekeepers and home workers " may be of interest as a curio to the independent magical practitioner or country living buff.  While you may not be able to find some of the items called for in the recipes, this could be a valuable resource for research. Along with modern books on magical herbalism, you should be able to come up with suitable substitutes for your own recipes.

© Trish Deneen

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Neo-Hoodoo - The New Cultural Appropriation

It happened in the 80s and 90s with Native American culture and the 90s and early years of this decade saw the explosion of so-called Celtic Spirituality, not to mention Northern European traditions.  Now it's happening with a tradition unique to America, that of hoodoo.  I'm speaking of cultural theft.

I came across a post at the Demoniacal blog in which the author, a traditional hoodoo practitioner, discusses a run-in with a Wiccan who wants to create Neo-Hoodoo.  Essentially this Wiccan believes hoodoo is a dying tradition and Wiccans should be able to appropriate it and do what they want with it.

This isn't a new attitude and certainly not one that is limited to Wiccans.  I remember in the 90s when sweat lodges were all the rage.  I took part in many but not any put on in a traditional sense that I know of.  Eventually, I saw more of racist attitudes by whites as in "natives don't know their own ceremonial history, so why should we listen to those who tell us we can't sweat."

Also, there was sometimes a native man or two involved in these groups who turned out to be a con artist or wife beater.  Before you think I'm saying that all new-agers are bad and natives are evil, I'm not.  It's just that when you combine a longing for spiritual heritage with lack of respect for culture and greed, you're bound to draw bad people into the mix as well as those who really need to learn a lesson about human behavior.  But my Indian wannabe experience can turn into a huge post, so I'll save that for later.  I just got sick of the inherent racism and blase attitude towards cultural theft, so I left the groups I was involved with.

Anyway, the point is, hoodoo is the new 'it' thing to steal from and turn around and make money from or just claim it as your own.  I have to wonder if the people who are doing this have any kind of cultural connection to the South where hoodoo originated.  I'm what most Southerners might consider a Yankee but my grandparents were from Kentucky and their families went far back a couple centuries and extended into several states in the deep South where they originally were from.

From what I recall of my grandma's family, I probably have at least over 100 cousins down south just from her side.  I'm not going to say I have conjure workers in my family history.  I have no idea about that.  My grandma told me of one card reader and one herbalist, but I don't know for sure and I don't know if they were conjure workers.  My point is, I don't dislike Southerners.  I have personal experience with them.  I also don't see them as "the other" or some strange breed of people whose way of life is dying.  I wonder what people who think neo-hoodoo is okay really think of Southerners and African-Americans who originated the tradition.

I practice the conjure I've learned from books and people on the internet.  I'm also not a traditional Christian.  But I don't mix hoodoo with other practices and I don't throw out God and the Psalms when I'm working.  In fact, hoodoo has brought me closer to my Christian roots, not in the way my evangelist mother would appreciate mind you, but closer to Jesus nonetheless.

Becuase of the internet, hoodoo is becoming extremely well known.  And to some, it may seem antiquated.  But it's still alive and well. It also made its way around the country, so it's not just in the South.  Because of the nature of the attitude of cultural appropriation, I don't think people like this Wiccan are going to be discouraged any time soon.  Will the fact that more traditional conjure workers are speaking out help?  Sure.  But only those whose spirituality isn't fueled by a hate for God and Christianity are going to listen.

The full post at Demoniacal is well worth a read.

© Trish Deneen

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Ciceros on Magical Egos, Pop Psychology and More

I came across an interview by Avalonia of Chic and Tabatha Cicero that's several years old but definitely still worth a read.  They are Chief Adepts in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and have written several books on this magical tradition.  I like their style.  There is a lot of bickering back and forth between magical folks, but here is a quote from the interview that I think sums up their attitude pretty well:
"We would like to think it’s because people “get it” that we’re not interested in attracting followers, or pretending that we are greatest magicians on the planet, or trying to fleece people out of their money."
On a different note, one thing I've noticed, online anyway, is that sometimes Golden Dawn and other Western Magical  Tradition concepts are over simplified by some to be all about positive thinking and that the spiritual beings worked with in magic are all just parts of ourselves.  The Ciceros address this too:
"Some authors psychologize magic too much, others not enough... They proclaim that deities, angels, and spirits are simply creations of the human mind. Although pop psychologists derive their thinking from the theories of Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung and others, they misunderstand Jung, who had a plaque above the front door of his home which read in Latin: “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.”
Spirit is real.  Of course our minds come into play.  But to me the idea that a belief in the reality of angels and other spirits is outdated is just extreme.  I'd like to quote more of this excellent interview, but I don't have permission, so I'll refer you over to the original post at the Esoteric Book Review instead.

© Trish Deneen