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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

The Path of the Blue Raven

November 24th, 2009

A remarkable new book has just been published by OBOD member and dazzling mentalist magician Mark Townsend. Called ‘The Path of the Blue Raven’ it tells the story of a struggling man who all his life has wrestled with questions, searched for meaning and discovered it in unexpected places. Although representing the beginning of a new adventure in one man’s life, this book is not just his story for it also offers a beautiful and breath-taking collection of real-life stories of others who walked a similar path and have found great healing and blessing through nature based spirituality. To many cultures, the raven was and is a symbol of initiation into a new path. In sharing his own journey, the author introduces readers to a world of like-minded people who have stepped off the mainstream path onto the path of personal magic. As the ex-Catholic monk Thomas Moore says, ‘The soul has an absolute, unforgiving need for regular excursions into enchantment. It requires them like the body needs food and the mind needs thought.’ This book offers pilgrims (of any path) a way back to the rich and deep inner magic of childhood dreams.

Ronald Hutton said of it: “I started this book expecting to skim it and found myself reading every page. It is a wonderful quest romance, a story about the nature of religion, magic, England, modernity and many other things as well.” Link to Amazon here.


Mysteries in Sintra, Portugal

November 24th, 2009

Just back from a workshop in Sintra, Portugal. Alexandre and Sofia run one of the best publishing houses in that country, Zefiro, from an office located in a beautiful old building on the side of a hill overlooking Sintra and its palace. The office is in a spiritual centre which runs courses, and the walls are covered in 18th or 19th century murals depicting the local landscape. When we finished the workshop we went out for a meal and they showed me the back entrance, with its house number reversed. This, they explained, was done for a reason – as a code for local freemasons and esotericists. Alexandre explains it thus:

Alexandre & Sofia of Zefiro Editions at the back entrance of their building

‘The man who made this building (originally an hotel, named “Hotel Vítor”), was Vítor Sassetti, who was a freemason at the end of the 19th century/early 20th century. He was also a friend of Carvalho Monteiro (who built the wonderful and esoteric “Quinta da Regaleira”) and Luigi Manini, who designed all the artwork and architecture of Quinta da Regaleira.This reversed number “3” was supposedly a sign for their secret meetings in the building…’