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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon Search

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Book Review:
Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon: Lore, Rituals, Activities, And Symbols

Author: Ashleen O'Gaea
Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Publisher: New Page Books
Publication date: 2005
List: US$14.99, C$21.95
ISBN: 1564147320
Price & More Info: Click Here

Once again, Ms. O'Gaea takes on four Sabbats in one volume. This time it is the light half of the year being given the once over. The Preface and Introduction to this volume are nearly identical, both in tone and length, with that of the earlier book.

She has written several other books and has been active in the Pagan community for more than a decade and has helped to found her own tradition of Wicca. She has published books on raising (and teaching) Pagan children, as well as the previous volume in this series. I've always enjoyed Ashleen' s style of writing. It reminds me days and evenings spent sharing cups of tea with a friend and sharing ideas - no pressure, no right or wrong way of doing things, just a pleasant chat between friends. If you are one of those people who want to be told how it was and how it should be, you probably won 't enjoy this book

By dividing the year into two parts, as did our ancient Celtic ancestors, she accomplishes several different things: giving herself space to discuss each Sabbat and she can make it easier to compare rituals, symbolism, and activities among the Sabbats. Doing it this way also makes it more convenient for the reader - at nearly 200 pages each book is a convenient size.

The arrangement of this volume is identical with that of the first volume. Dedicating 40 to 50 pages to each Sabbat - its lore, rituals, activities and symbols, allows for an adequate development of a feeling for the Sabbat while still leaving a thirst for more. It is that thirst which impels the personal development of Witches and Wiccans. Too little information frustrates and too much stifles individual creativity. Ashleen seems to have found a happy medium in this book. While there are no startling revelations, it is not a lot of rehashing of other authors. What you have here is Ashleen's personal take on the topic. Whether you agree with her or not, you have to respect her desire to share her own experiences and knowledge, as well as her ability to convey that knowledge clearly.

The rituals contained in this book, like the preceding volume's contents, are usable by groups or solitaries, amongst other Pagans or with groups which include non-Pagans, by adults and with mixed-age groups. The only requirement for its use, in my opinion, is a desire to enjoy the Sabbats.

I would recommend that you get both volumes of this series at the same time, if you can. It will make it easier to compare the notes and rituals for each of the Sabbats and allow you to see how they balance each other across the Wheel of the Year.

She wants to plant ideas in your mind and allow them to grow within you. I think she does this very well. Her suggested activities for each Sabbat are fun (and that is, after all, an important connection to the gods) and easy to do. They can involve all ages.

This is not the final word on Sabbats. As Ashleen says in the conclusion "By this time next year, you and I both will be able to say more about the Sabbats, and how we celebrate them, than we can right now." It is, however, a good start. If the second book is as good as this, and I have no reason to doubt that, they will form a good basis for learning about the relationships among the Sabbats.

She includes suggestions for casting an indoor circle and suggestions for conveying age-appropriate information to children about the Sabbats, as well as a short list of correspondences in the appendices. All of these, as she reminds us, are simply suggestions, and need to be viewed through our own experiences. She also includes some delicious recipes which are not terribly complicated. And, unlike many of the recipes you may encounter elsewhere, you don't need to worry about your cholesterol levels with these recipes. Ashleen and her family are health-conscious with becoming obnoxious about it.

She makes sure to explain the procedures for making the various crafts she suggests, going so far as to include photos when they will make it easier to understand. Those crafts she suggests can add to the enjoyment of the Sabbats.

Once again, she has written a thoroughly enjoyable book which gives enough information to make it interesting. It leaves enough unsaid to inspire further research, but provides enough answers to be satisfying.

Reviewed by Mike Gleason

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