“Here’s an open secret: spirits do more than pervade literature, advertising, games, myths, and movies. They also walk among us. Some may find that statement shocking or surprising, ludicrous or laughably absurd, but for many people, all over Earth, coming from all walks of life, unconventional and conventional alike, it’s a statement of basic, obvious fact.” – From the Encyclopedia of Spirits
Quick: What do the following have in common?
• Lyon (city in France)
• Santa Claus
• Babalu (Desi Arnaz’s trademark song)
• Maneki Neko (Japanese beckoning cat)
• Hell (Hel)
• Swan Lake
• Peter Pan
All of the above are spirits, named for a spirit, or filled with references to deities. The world of spirits—gods, goddesses, fairies, genies, ghosts, patron saints, dragons, demons, orishas, Djinn, devas, genies, and so on—permeate everything around us.
From planet names to corporate emblems, literature to all manner of song, the world of spirit (and spiritual references) are literally everywhere.
Renowned independent scholar and researcher extraordinaire, author Judika Illes has created yet another comprehensive and utterly fascinating tome with her newest book The Encyclopedia of Spirits. At 1056 pages, the Encyclopedia of Spirits serves as menu or a roadmap, a handy reference or a creator’s muse, a spiritual phone book or a recipe box for wish fulfillment. Truly, this engaging, informative compendium encompasses all these uses for those seeking to meet, converse, or collaborate with spirits, as well as individuals wanting to investigate, learn, or draw inspiration from the spirit world.
In the first 65 pages of this book, Ms. Illes defines the realm of spirits, covers their public (and private) faces, explains why they help humanity, points out where they’re likely to be met, instructs how to work with them, teaches how to find spirit allies and much more. She addresses the common question “Are spirits dangerous?”, as well as the conundrum of unanswered prayers and petitions.
In addition, Ms. Illes offers a Spirit Worker’s Glossary and helpful advice on how to use the Encyclopedia of Spirits. However, the bulk of this exhaustive book is the A-Z guide to spirits. From origin to iconography, manifestations to offerings, attributes to hallowed days, sacred sites to favored people, a wealth of information is graciously shared with readers.
Symbolic associations such as number, color, metal, sacred days, planets, times, creatures, planets, direction, and element are also provided for each spirit, as are extensive cross references for related mythos and beings.
An absorbing tour guide to the world of spirits, it’s honestly difficult to stop reading the Encyclopedia of Spirits once you get started! Intriguing sidebars are scattered throughout, too, offering additional glimpses into the scope of influence effected by the spirit realm. Here are just a few of the many sidebars that are peppered alongside the meaty spirit profiles:
• There are many man-goat spirits, including Faunus, Krampus, and Ordog but references to the goat god usually mean Pan.
• During his fourth labor, Heracles stopped to party with the centaurs. Very drunk, he accidentally wounded Chiron, his old friend, with a poisoned arrow. As an immortal, Chiron didn’t and couldn’t die but suffered excruciating agony. To relieve him, Zeus placed him in the heavens as the constellation Sagittarius. Chiron is the archetypal wounded healer who heals everyone but is unable to help himself.
• The October 5, 2007 issue of The UK Times Online listed the Lord God as the number-one top ranking of the forty most memorable aliens.
• The floats, masks, clowns, dancing, public drunkenness, and erotic theater that characterizes modern Carnivals and parades are descendents of Dionysian rituals
• Babalu was the signature song of Cuban singer, actor, and television producer Desi Arnaz (2 March 1917- 2 December 1986). According to legend, Desi requested three things from Babalu: professional and financial success and a beautiful wife. In return he promised to spread Babalu’s name around the globe, or so the legend says.
• Socrates’ last words were to remind friends to sacrifice a rooster to Asklepios on his behalf.
• Anansi stars in Neil Gaiman’s 2006 novel, Anansi Boys, and steals the show in his 2001 novel, American Gods, where, as Mr. Nancy, he manifests as an elderly black man with a pencil mustache, lemon-yellow gloves, and a checked sport jacket.
Writers will find creative ideas seeded from these pages, and spiritual seekers will discover the rich tapestry of lively beings woven around them and available from within. Whether you desire to find a spirit helper to befriend, protect, entreat, provide or comfort—or perhaps are one who’d like to learn more the vast array of spirit manifestations and their place in history, legend, religion and modern culture—the Encyclopedia of Spirits deserves a prominent place in your library.
Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.