This page is an archive of book, deck and CD reviews from February 2005 through July 2007. All other
reviews will now be posted on the As the Spirit Moves Me blog page.
Posted July 27, 2007
A busy summer has left me less time than usual for reading--no languorous lounging on the beach! However, one book I gladly
made time for was Bradford Keeney's latest: Shaking Medicine: The Healing Power of Ecstatic Movement. The well-traveled and rather intense Dr. Keeney--I
recall him well from a New York Open Center workshop years ago--combines extensive training in psychotherapy and the shamanism
of indigenous cultures. His book details his discovery of the curious ritual practice of physical shaking for healing and
transformation of consciousness that is a characteristic of traditions as geographically and culturally diverse as the Bushmen
of the Kalahari and the Quakers of America.
Keeney has fully embraced this sacred body-based technology known to traditional
peoples around the globe, and he has done so with evangelical certainty and glee. This fascinating book can only take you
so far. If you're itching to know what's shaking and why, Keeney invites you to try it. You'll find a 40-minute CD of drumming
for ecstatic movement tucked inside the back cover. (2007, Destiny Books. ISBN: 1-59477-149-9.)
Posted June 14, 2007
Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt: Awakening the Healing Power of the Heart by Nicki Scully
and Linda Star Wolf (with lovely illustrations by Kris Waldherr) stirs the heart and the
imagination as it was intended to do. The reader–visualizing himself or herself as a white dove carrying the olive branch
of peace–enters into a series of ritualistic meditations featuring encounters with the ancient Egyptian pantheon of
Anubis, Nepthys, Isis, Bast, Hathor, Ptah and other August beings. In their intricate, descriptive details of images, gestures
and dialogue, these meditations, originally brought forth in Wolf’s visions, bear a strong resemblance to the ceremonial
magick traditions of the Golden Dawn and other esoteric movements. Some readers–and I count myself among them–might
prefer a less detailed, less directive approach that won’t get in the way of their own abilities to perceive and interact
with the divine. However, this is a heartfelt book that invites readers to step beyond limiting concepts. Scully’s love
affair with Egypt is legendary, and fans of her previous books–Alchemical Healing and Power
Animal Meditations–will value her focused exploration of this important archetypal pantheon. (2007, Bear
& Company. ISBN: 1-59143-068-2.)
In his well-illustrated volume, The Templar Pirates: The Secret Alliance to Build the New Jerusalem,
author Ernesto Frers takes us into esoteric history that will leave Johnny Depp fans gasping. He tells us
that most pirates were either members of the Order of the Temple--that famed nemesis of the Vatican–or formed their
own secret societies while taking revenge on ships sponsored by the Vatican and Catholic nations. And there's so much
more. A real page-turner! (2007, Destiny Books. ISBN: 1-59477-146-4.)
Christopher Penczak continues his visionary scholarship in Ascension Magick: Ritual, Myth
& Healing for the New Aeon. You can count on Penczak to be ahead of the pack, clear-eyed, level-headed,
broad in his grasp of his subject, a creative and affirmative teacher. This timely book explores the necessary evolution of
spiritual traditions and magickal practice and makes many of today’s ascension practices and movements comprehensible.
A careful step-by-step guide and a wonderful reference book, it belongs in the library of everyone who cares about spirituality
as a force for personal and planetary liberation and healing. (2007, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 978-0-7387-1047-1.)
- 52 cards + guidebook
- Published by Hay House – 2004
Reviewed by Eva Yaa Asantewaa
Trust Your Vibes –the 52-card oracle deck by popular psychic and author Sonia Choquette–will
bring a smile to your face, guaranteed! But if you’re like me, you’ll quickly tire of the nearly indestructible
box that protects this treasure. The box’s heavy cardboard is stiff, tight and entirely too child-proof. When it comes
to wanting to get at a beloved deck right away with absolutely no obstructions, I am a willful child.
Also be prepared for one of those wide decks (5" X 3 ½") that might not immediately fit comfortably in smaller hands. But
that’s it for my grumbling because–can you tell?–I love the Vibes!
Their boldly-designed pastel images have a saturated, earthy intensity that belies their simplicity. The openness of this
simplicity draws them to my heart immediately. It’s easy to see what we need to see in them. They make a good, nonthreatening
deck to help put new and possibly skittish Tarot querents at ease before you bring out the stronger stuff.
To encourage us to value and develop our latent sixth-sense, Choquette starts off right with her first card, the reassuring
"Woo-Woo is Wonderful." ("Birds have radar. Whales have sonar. You have vibes," explains the charming guidebook.) Other cards
include "Back to Basics," "Claim Your Boundaries," "Name Your Higher Self," "Stay in Your Own Skin," "Walk it Off," "Clear
the Past" "Ask Your Spirit Helpers," "See the Solution," and "You’re the Boss."
Trust Your Vibes is fabulous for a daily one-card draw, a practice dear to many Tarotists and which Choquette rightly
recommends as an excellent training exercise for psychics. You can also pull a card for guidance on a particular concern or
situation in your life. I’d also recommend using a Trust Your Vibes card to open and/or close a regular Tarot
reading or to illuminate an elusive or difficult aspect of your Tarot layout.
Hold onto that box, though, no matter how annoying it can be. You’ll want to keep these wonderful cards safe and
handy for many years to come.
For more information, see http://www.hayhouse.com/.
© 2007, Eva Yaa Asantewaa
Posted February 16, 2007
- 2013 Oracle
- by David Carson and Nina Sammons with art by Gigi Borri
- 34-card oracle deck, book and cenote cloth
- Published by Council Oak Books 2006
(Published February 2007 on Aeclectic.net at www.aeclectic.net/tarot/. Re-posted with permission.)
While traveling in Belize last fall, I bought a small handcrafted change purse studded with shiny, fiery-red, orange, yellow,
black and silver beads. I confess I didn’t need a purse at the time but I craved this gorgeous one. Now I finally have
the perfect use for it. My newest deck–the oval-shaped, palm-sized cards of the 2013 Oracle--nestles comfortably
inside. There’s even room for the deck’s unique, kerchief-sized cenote cloth–where the reader lays out the
cards–with its print of four jaguars guarding a black reflecting pool. The purse neatly tucks into my handbag: Good
Inspired by ancient American/Mesoamerican prophetic themes and symbols, authors David Carson and Nina Sammons and artist
Gigi Borri have produced an oracle deck of uncommon depth. Each card bears a stunning iconic design saturated in color, invoking
energies that can guide us as the world passes through enormous changes predicted by the ancient peoples of the Americas.
Mayan elders taught that this world, at least as we know it, would end in 2012--hence the deck’s hopeful, one-year-later
Some examples of the deck’s symbolic entities include the vibrant Waterdog (Metamorphosis), a salamander bridging
the realms of water, air and fire; the solemn, wise and forbidding Snake Skirted Woman (Healer) who remembers your fate and
cleanses you of poison; and the richly-carved obsidian Smoking Mirror (Divination), Lord of Deepest Night.
The 195-page guide book, 2013 Oracle: Ancient Keys to the 2012 Awakening, provides a wealth of information and full-color
illustrations of each card. Immersing myself in its heady poetry, I frequently surfaced with great quotes, images, stories
and unexpected ideas. Some people will prefer to read the text straight through, studying each card with care and getting
a proper overview of its philosophical message. But taking a serendipitous dip--opening this book to any page–provides
in itself a valid and fascinating oracular method.
Doing a reading with 2013 Oracle is a world apart from the ordinary. Why bother with the old Celtic Cross layout?
What do the Celts have to do with this anyway? Carson and Sammons offer appropriate alternatives with an opening ritual and
several layouts designed for their deck: the Cenote, Black Cosmic Cross, Pathway of the Flower, the Light Serpent Going to
the Sky and The Diving Serpent.
Carson also co-created (with Jamie Sams) the widely-praised Medicine Cards, published by Bear & Co. in 1988.
Based on Native American animal spirit lore and beautifully illustrated by Angela C. Werneke, it is one of my oldest and best-loved
decks. Similar in quality and appeal, 2013 Oracle is nevertheless a far more intense and urgent implement. Introducing
their first card, Alligator (Regeneration of World), Carsons and Sammons tell us how the old sages taught about the coming
"When the next world comes, it will be like an Alligator. Alligator lies buried in the water and mud near the bank, never
stirring. So it seems. Yet without warning, alligator will leap out of the water and seize you." (1)
Clearly 2013 Oracle is not for people who prefer their decks gentle and sweet. Read advice like "Kick your puny
ego down the street like a rusty old tin can because you won’t need it anymore"–from the Black Sun (Initiation)
entry–and know you are not in Kansas anymore.
Kansas is a perfectly wonderful state, but the states of mind and soul heralded by 2013 Oracle are nothing short
For more information, visit www.counciloakbooks.com
1. Carson and Sammons, 2013 Oracle: Ancient Keys to the 2012 Awakening, p. 13.
(Published February 2007 on Aeclectic.net at www.aeclectic.net/tarot/. Re-posted with permission.)
Posted January 28, 2007
For my reviews of The Millennium Tarot by Dorothy Simpson Krause and the Afro-Brazilian
Tarot by Giuseppe Palumbo, see either http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/ or http://www.thetarotchannel.com. And stayed tuned for my upcoming Aeclectic.net review of 2013 Oracle by David
Carson and Nina Sammons, art by Gigi Borri.
Posted January 12, 2007
Llewellyn has issued a revised and expanded edition of Amber K ’s popular True Magick:
A Beginner’s Guide that could fly off the bookstore shelves as if by magick! It’s a great resource–intelligent,
practical, broad in scope, and worth far more than its reasonable price. Amber K, a fine writer and teacher, includes supporting
material on a variety of magickal paths beyond the Craft, and her discussion of ethics offers readers the opportunity to examine
their own and to determine how best to proceed in any magickal task. Beginners and experienced practitioners will consult
this most useful book again and again. (2006, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0823-2.)
What were the true origins of Christianity? Was Jesus a political revolutionary–and a feminist, too? Why did it take
so long for the Dead Sea Scrolls to be made public? Who were the Knights Templar and why did the Catholic Church eventually
persecute them? What’s the secret meaning of the expression double cross? Does Scotland have pyramids? Were America’s
founding fathers on an esoteric path? Was "William Shakespeake" a fictional character? Was Dostoevsky a spiritualist? For
some possible answers to these and many other questions, check out Forbidden Religion: Suppressed Heresies of the
West, a compilation of articles from the bi-monthly journal Atlantis Rising, edited by J. Douglas
Kenyon. Some of these essays deal with topics that don’t appear particularly forbidden, religious, suppressed
or heretical, and the level of interest varies, but a number are worth a look. Peter Novak’s "Searching for the Real
Star of Bethlehem: Who Were the ‘Wise Men’ and What Were They Up To?" is a lively-paced read that concludes with
the suggestion that Jesus was born on Rosh Hashana. (2006, Bear & Company. ISBN: 1-59143-067-4.)
Speaking of Christmas, I received a gorgeous book entitled Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals
at the Origins of Yuletide much too late for me to recommend it to you for your holiday gift-giving. But it’s
not too early to stash away a few of them for next winter. Authored by Christian Rätsch
(anthropologist and ethnopharmacologist) and Claudia Müller-Ebeling (art
historian and anthropologist), this charmingly-illustrated book decodes the customs, imagery, lore, herbal preparations and
culinary goodies associated with Christmas, sourcing their origins in pre-Christian pagan and shamanic traditions. Read up,
and the next time you hear fundamentalists railing about a so-called "War on Christmas," you’ll be well-armed. (2003,
Inner Traditions. ISBN: 1-59477-092-1.)
The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism by Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis.
A useful reference guide to esoteric terms. Some illustrations. (2007, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0905-0.)
Tarot of the Four Worlds by Steve Nichols. Described as "a major breakthrough in
theoretical magic. From 1500's Italy come these strange and powerful 88 major taro [sic] arcana of the Four Worlds of Cabala."
Engraved illustrations of each card. Fascinating! For more information or to order the book and pack, see http://enochia.net or http://enochianchess.com. (2006. Self-published. ISBN: 978-1-8746-0307-8)
Posted October 26, 2006
News of the arrival of Canadian author Donald Tyson’s new
Portable Magic: Tarot is The Only Tool You Need got my attention right away. When it comes to magickal
matters, I’m a firm believer in "keeping it simple." Tyson teaches that these richly symbolic
cards can be effective substitutes for altar tools, and card layouts can replace actual magick circles. Portable Magic
offers essential though mostly familiar information on elemental, astrological, and Qabalistic correspondences. Beginners
will appreciate this overview as well as the author’s insights into how Tarot’s symbols were conceptualized and utilized by members of the Golden Dawn movement. I abandoned ship only when Tyson
himself began to introduce large, complex ritual layouts of cards plus visualization and ritual action for a variety of purposes:
banishing, business, "lucky charm," "ritual of union" (in which one "unites psychically with another person," living or deceased),
and "evoking an elemental." I suspect most readers will appreciate Tyson’s original ideas but
opt to devise far less taxing ways in which to work with the cards. Just remember: Keep it simple. (2006, Llewellyn Publications.
Posted September 25, 2006
I approached the beginning of Mindlight: Secrets of Energy, Magick & Manifestation, the new
book by Wiccan author Silver RavenWolf, with no small measure of skepticism. Classic occult theories about
the creation of thoughtforms and the metaphysical implications of quantum physics are both all-too-familiar territory. RavenWolf’s casual style of writing about complex matters–which at times turns sloppy--did not increase my confidence in her. But once the
author breezed past her introductory material and began to display her unique wares–the practical applications--I discovered an inspiring, motivational teacher with something novel to offer. RavenWolf’s innovative exercises, especially her plainspoken, sugar-free invocations,
are like nothing I’ve found in a lifetime of reading books
on Wicca or other magickal practices. Readers will come to understand the fundamental usefulness of meditation enhanced by
creativity and common sense. I highly recommended Mindlight to readers of any tradition and at any level of experience
in magick. (2006, Llewellyn Publications. ISBN: 0-7387-0985-9.)
When it comes to our spiritual beliefs and practices, people are actually more alike than we realize. Journey through this
reality with Christopher Penczak–author
of quite a few excellent books for Llewellyn–in his new
cross-traditional primer, The Mystic Foundation: Understanding & Exploring the Magical Universe.
(2006, Llewellyn Publications. ISBN: 0-7387-0979-4.)
Posted September 14, 2006
Every year, the perennially inspirational archetypes of Tarot are imagined anew by countless visual artists. Now here’s New England’s Stone Riley, creator of Spirit Hill Tarot, who has devised a CD of striking
Tarot paintings based on his "New Modern Art" theory. Riley believes that contemporary art viewers have learned to absorb
information from multiple sources simultaneously and his work–distinguished
by intense color, imaginative shapes, and startling juxtapositions--invokes influences ranging from indigenous cultures to
Salvador Dalí, from minimalism to Picasso. Some of the Spirit
Hill images were created to correspond with specific Tarot cards; others pre-existed Riley’s project but--as he discovered--turned out to fit particular Tarot archetypes quite well.
Each image in this "gallery of life in its immense variety" comes with a few snippets of interpretation. Four of Earth
is "The owner, and his power, and his love of power." Riley’s
absolutely right-on message for the Queen of Water–from
his painting "Gorgon"–is "Fear this voice and despair, welcome
it and learn." Both the Six of Water’s legend--"The Past
Speaks"–and the title of the painting from which it is drawn--"House
of the Spirits"–both strongly resonate with me; I’m astounded and grateful to know that someone perceives the Six of Cups
exactly as I do.
The CD, which works like a Web site with hyperlinks, contains slides of all 78 cards, singly and in groups of four. These
images can be viewed individually, in large or thumbnail size, or via an automated slide show. They can be printed out to
create an actual deck. Riley’s disk also includes a few
essays, some poetry, and a handful of links to resources on the Web. (2006, Spirit Hill Studio. www.lulu.com/stoneriley and www.yessy.com/stoneriley)
Channeling: Use Your Psychic Powers to Contact Your Spirit Guides
, new from Godsfield Press (www.godsfieldpress.com), could not be more inviting. A clear, user-friendly manual by Shirley Humphreys Battie,
with sweet illustrations by Sandra Howgate, this book sets out to turn a much-hyped psychic process into
an accessible, safe, and comfortable part of everyday spiritual practice and personal development. Add this essential paperback
to your metaphysical bookshelf. (2006, Godsfield Press. ISBN: 1-84181-291-9.) For a scholarly study of the historical, sociological,
scientific, and psychological aspects of the channeling phenomenon–from ancient times through the 20th Century–pick
up a copy of Jon Klimo’s comprehensive
Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources (1998, North Atlantic
Books. ISBN: 1-55643-248-8.)
At the outset of Calls to Mystic Alice, California psychic Alice Rose Morgan
seemed like such an unassuming, mirthful person that I had great hopes for her book. But there’s less here than meets the eye. The chipper subtitle–
A Psychic and Her ‘Spooks’ Explain Karma, Reincarnation, and Everything Else You Forgot On Your
Way To Earth–ignores the fact that, over the past several
decades, numerous mediums and spiritualists have reminded us of these "forgotten" items many times and that some of the hoary,
dogmatic concepts expressed here–before you were born, you
chose to be raped or murdered in this life, for instance--have been challenged and tempered by newer metaphysical thinkers.
(2006, Llewellyn Publications. ISBN: 0-7387-0936-0.)
Flash Silvermoon’s abundant talents embrace
the musical, literary, ritual, healing, and psychic arts. She is both mystic and businesswoman. When I could not figure out
how best to explain all that Silvermoon has studied and accomplished, I turned to her recently received Wise Woman’s Tarot (illustrated by Barbara Vogel
based on Silvermoon's line drawings and instructions) and desperate for direction, drew one card at random: The Star. I had
to laugh; The Star stands for the Renaissance woman at the very hub of the turning world, sending and receiving wave after
wave of energy and digitized information. There’s even a
flash of lightning in the card’s midnight blue sky!
Silvermoon’s and Vogel’s deck, published in 2002, represents the product of a quarter-century of research and development. In its accompanying
book, which is laden with wonderful photos of Silvermoon and her human and animal companions, readers will find comprehensive,
provocative information about Tarot, Vogel’s 78 blazing
images, and the author’s creative, woman-affirming and richly
multicultural approach to metaphysics, divination and life itself. It is indeed as advertised, "a Pandora’s box of new/ancient embedded symbolism fully explained." Be prepared to spend a
lot of time reading, considering, and experimenting with the extensive information and deep ideas contained within this generous
book. But don’t be surprised if you take one look at the
deck and dive right in. (2002, Flash Silvermoon. ISBN: 0-9723952-0-2. Deck and book set) Fans of rock, funk and blues should
check out Phases of the Silvermoon–a
CD with irresistibly danceable numbers like "Sacred Space," "Dancing with the Snake," and "If Your Heart Ain’t in it Get Your Ass Out"--available at www.flashsilvermoon.com.
Posted August 15, 2006
Reading Be Blesséd: Daily Devotions for Busy Wiccans
and Pagans is like having a kitchen-table chat with author Denise "Dion-Isis" Dumars over herbal
ice tea on a sweltering summer day. While the Introduction shows this priestess of Isis Isis, Thoth, and Yemaya to be an organized,
competent guide, Dumars’s first chapter proves her to be
an easygoing companion, and jokester to boot. Be Blesséd
details numerous simple ways to infuse every aspect of even the busiest life with spiritual energy and meaning. The book encourages
both excellent self-care and the nurturing of respectful, friendly relationships with the gods and goddesses of your choosing.
(Dumars calls Thor the Dude of Dudes, a very accessible buddy-type; visualize him dispensing his wisdom from a bar stool,
beer mug in hand.) Best of all, Be Blesséd feels like a
book written by an explorer who genuinely lives what she teaches and enjoys life very much. (2006, Career Press. ISBN: 1-56414-872-6.)
One of the most absorbing books I’m enjoying this summer
is The GOD Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People by Cathleen Falsani,
an experienced journalist who covers religion for the Chicago Sun-Times. Falsani is an evangelical Protestant, and
the word "God" appears in huge, uppercase letters in her cover title. But don’t let that give you the wrong impression. Like so many of her fascinating interviewees--Bono, Sandra Bernhard,
Senator Barack Obama, Melissa Etheridge, Studs Terkel, Hugh Hefner, David Lynch, Sandra Cisneros, Inyanla Vanzant, Mark Morris,
Annie Lennox, Sherman Alexie, and Tom Robbins among them--Falsani turns out to be insightful, honest, and open-minded to an
extraordinary degree. The GOD Factor includes interviewees who profess a specific faith, a creative combination of
religions, or simply a spiritual view of life and the world. Some define themselves as atheists, agnostics, or secular humanists,
and some resist any label for what they believe and do. Falsani treats each one with the greatest respect and often finds
spiritual wisdom where we would least expect it. have often been pleasantly surprised, deeply moved, and greatly instructed
by these profiles, and my envy of Falsani knows no bounds. What a terrific project and an important book for our times! (2006,
Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN: 0-374-16381-2.)
Posted August 10, 2006
To read my review of Lo Scarabeo's Afro-Brazilian Tarot deck--the Tarot Deck of the Week on Aeclectic.net--please
Posted August 3, 2006
Tarot Talismans: Invoke the Angels of the Tarot
is the latest publication by the Florida-based ceremonial
magicians Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero
. A well-produced, enjoyable treatise on the magickal use
of Tarot and Qabala from the Golden Dawn perspective, this book offers an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to ritually invoking
the energies symbolized by Tarot’s images. The authors explore
elemental, astrological, Qabalistic, and angelic correspondences for each Tarot card and provide numerous charts and illustrations,
including magickal alphabets, planetary seals, and arcane sigils. They offer comparative interpretations of each card as rendered
by five different decks: Golden Dawn Magical, Thoth, Universal, Babylonian, and Marseille. (They are co-creators of the Golden
Dawn Magical Tarot, and Sandra Tabatha Cicero is artist and creator of the Babylonian Tarot, previously reviewed on this page.)
Even readers with little interest in actually performing the fanciful, elaborate rituals of ceremonial magick--or even visualizing
angels in the concrete way that the Ciceros do–will
appreciate the extensive information and imagery provided here. Names, signs, images, and ritual gestures can indeed be keys
to the transformative energies within consciousness. (2006, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0871-2.)
Dovid Krafchow’s Kabbalistic Tarot:
Hebraic Wisdom in the Major and Minor Arcana presents Cabala–note his preferred spelling of the word 1–as
that old-time religion and, in his view, the mother source of Tarot. In an assertion sure to rattle most Tarot historians,
Krafchow argues that the Israelites, living under the rule of Alexander the Great, developed Tarot cards as a way to disguise
their study of the Torah. When the Jews routed the Greeks, Tarot went underground only to resurface during a new era of oppression,
this time by the Catholic Church. You don’t have to agree
with Krafchow’s theory to find Kabbalistic Tarot
valuable. The book focuses on basic Cabalistic concepts and some fresh readings of the Major Arcana. I enjoyed entertaining
the notion of The Emperor as the embodiment of sight while The Empress is insight, the Hermit as one who listens to what is
said while the High Priestess hears what lies behind the spoken words, and the light of The Star as greater, more potentially
life-changing than the light of the sun. (2005, Inner Traditions. ISBN: 1-59477-064-6.)
1. Despite his publisher’s choice of the traditional,
more widely-recognized spelling–Kabbalah–Krafchow makes a highly appealing case for an alternate spelling in his Preface:
"Cabala should be written with a curve, denoting the feminine, and not defined by the line of the rabbis. Rigidity, the line,
is the antithesis of the subtle, ephemeral truths that swim in the deep waters of the Cabala." Also note that the Ciceros
use yet another spelling--Qabala–in keeping with Western
Lovers of Welsh mythology will snap up copies of Anna-Marie Ferguson’s Llewellyn Tarot kit: a guidebook and a 78-card deck in a lovely golden brocade pouch
decorated with beads and tassels. The British-born Canadian artist’s dreamy watercolor paintings are like little windows that immediately draw the viewer into a world that expands
and comes alive. For each Major Arcana card, the companion book offers captivating legends of heroes and deities from Celtic
lore. Look for Llewellyn Tarot in September 2006. (Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0299-4.)
Additional Books Received
Inner Power: Six Techniques for Increased Energy & Self-Healing
. Colleen Deatsman
Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0667-1.)
Offering to Isis: Knowing the Goddess through Her Sacred Symbols
. M. Isidora Forrest
Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0705-8.)
Spiritual Journaling: Writing Your Way to Independence
. Julie Tallard Johnson
. (2006, Bindu
Books. ISBN: 1-59477-056-5. For teenagers)
The Sacred Embrace of Jesus and Mary: The Sexual Mystery at the Heart of the Christian Tradition
. (2006, Inner Traditions. ISBN: 1-59477-101-4)
Merlin and the Discovery of Avalon in the NewWorld
. Graham Phillips
. (2005, Bear & Company.
Chakra Healing and Karmic Awareness
. Keith Sherwood
. (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0354-0.)
Oracles of the Dead: Ancient Techniques for Predicting the Future
. Robert Temple
Destiny Books. ISBN: 1-59477-085-9.)
Posted May 29, 2006
Who is Dougall Fraser? "The Queer Guy with the Third Eye," as his publisher describes him. He has authored
one of the most enjoyable, well-written New Age memoirs that you’ll
ever read: But You Knew That Already: What A Psychic Can Teach You About Life. Fraser traces his development
from a psychically-sensitive youngster in Garden City, Long Island to successful professional psychic in Dallas and New York
City. With bouyant humor and grounded insight, he discusses his family’s challenges, his personal struggles (weight, loneliness, being a closeted gay man, and the coming-out process),
and the numerous missteps he’s made on the path to fulfillment
in love and career. Well before you reach the book’s last
satisfying word–"Perfect"–you’ll understand how even talented psychics,
genuinely helping thousands of strangers, can often "get it wrong" in the conduct of their own lives. Fraser’s growth process has made him a more compassionate counselor and given him a taste
for honesty that makes this book touching, memorable, and essential. Since he does not hesitate to skewer fraudulent practices
in the psychic field, examples of silliness in the New Age movement, and incidents of cynical exploitation by themainstream
media, this book serves also as a useful guide for the consumer of psychic information and services. For more details, see
www.rodalestore.com or www.DougallFraser.com. (2005, Rodale Press. ISBN: 1-59486-136-6.)
Posted April 14, 2006
The childlike charm and vest-pocket size of Wiccan Cards–a new 33-card oracle by Nada Mesar (design) and Chatriya Hemharnvibul (artwork)–make this deck a great choice for people who love the symbols and traditions
of the Old Religion and for novice readers or querents who find Tarot’s complex symbol system a little intimidating. There are cards for each of the traditional magickal tools of the
Craft, one each for the goddess Aradia and the god Cernunnos, eight for the high sabbats of the pagan year, three master cards
(The Otherworld, The Three Wise Ones, and Oak Tree), and sixteen symbol cards (e.g., Spiral, Cat, Mask, Raven, and Book of
Shadows). The high sabbats cards, related to the seasons and months, can help with the often tricky task of figuring out timing
in a reading. The LWB (little white book) gives just enough information to stimulate your own imagination and creativity.
Begin by picking one card each day and telling yourself a story about what you see in its picture. One more plus: The modest
price! (2005, Lo Scarabeo. ISBN: 0-7387-0793-8.)
My first glance at Sandra Tabatha Cicero’s
unique Babylonian Tarot transported me to another time, past today’s tragic developments in Iraq, to the extraordinary and influential Sumerian civilization. Cicero’s intense imagery–colorful,
fittingly vital and vibrant representations of forces of Earth and the universe--will draw you in and shake up your expectations
of Tarot symbolism. The 83-card set includes an excellent 179-page book that presents detailed explications of each card–including astrological and Kabbalistic correspondences--and orients
readers to Sumerian lore. It also includes two new layouts inspired by Sumerian cosmology. (2006, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN:
The poet Theodore Roethke wrote, "In a dark time, the eye begins to see." Ross Heaven and Simon
Bruxton–co-authors of Darkness Visible:
Awakening Spiritual Light through Darkness Meditation–champion the shamanic practice of retreating into dark spaces in order to profoundly commune with Spirit and deep
levels of self. If you have not yet tried this, you might find inspiration in their words and example. However, with numerous
accounts drawn from the authors’ own therapeutic workshops
and ceremonies, Darkness Visible has a curious whiff of self-promotion. The meditation exercises–all reliably good and searching–seem original only in that they are to be performed in the context of darkness. (2005, Destiny Books. ISBN: 1-5947-7601-1.)
It appears to be a fact of life that, every now and then, a brand new book by Christopher Penczak will
come along--a cause for celebration. So three cheers for Instant Magick: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Spellcraft!
Read it and ease into Penczak’s clearsighted, simplified
approach to spellcraft, one that puts the focus on mind work--meditation, visualization, and direction of will, energy, and
words--over the mere manipulation of tools and trinkets. (2006, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0859-3.)
Like all good New Agers, metaphysician Adrian Calabrese, Ph.D. does not believe in coincidences. Her new
book, Sacred Signs: Hear, See, and Believe Messages from the Universe, tells how to ask for messages
of daily guidance and become more attentive and better interpreters of them. Fair enough, but Calabrese has formulated a highly-codified
approach to something most folks do quite casually. Her work offers few revelations, and shortsightedness often mars her arguments.
She writes, for instance, "If you were requesting a sign to assist in a marriage decision, you might dream about your future
spouse, or a wedding, or see yourself cohabiting, etc. That would be clear, but if you see yourself and your fiancé in a rocket ship going to Mars, you are probably not getting a sign."(1)
[Italics mine.] Since Mar is the masculine deity of aggression and war, the only question should be: "Is that sign yellow
for Proceed cautiously? Or red for Don’t go there!?"
Calabrese declares logic to be a friendly tool in one chapter, then in the next chapter calls it "that old demon." (2) And
since she surely pledges allegiance to the New Age idea that each one of us creates his or her own reality, it’s rather confusing that, writing about trusting God/Goddess, Calabrese
declares that "Surrender means that you no longer expect to control the outcome of the situation...surrender means you give
up the struggle of trying to manipulate your life," and–even
more confusing, given the nature of her book, "Surrender means you no longer try to figure out everything before you take
action." (3) A lightweight and sadly unreliable book. (2006, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0776-7.)
1. Calabrese, Ph.D., Adrian. Sacred Signs: Hear, See, and Believe Messages from the Universe, p. 93.
2. Calabrese, p. 102.
3. Calabrese, p. 103.
Posted January 18, 2006
In the wake of The Da Vinci Code, novelist Dan Brown’s
deeply-flawed bestseller, Margaret Starbird offers her fourth volume of audacious scholarship, Mary
Magdalene: Bride in Exile, which also includes an hour-long CD lecture by the author. Few readers will find Starbird’s topic fresh or shocking, but unlike the popularizing, sensationalist,
and ultimately compromising Brown, she serves her material well with decent writing and steady, heartfelt conviction.
The basic outline is familiar. Mariam–the talented, fiercely
devoted disciple, confidant, and lover of the Rabbi Yeshua--enflames the jealousy of many of her male counterparts who eventually
split off to establish a more hierarchical and misogynist Christianity. Down through the ages, as a result of their slander
of her name, Mariam will be known as prostitute and penitent. After the great rabbi’s execution under Roman order, this towering female leader, her daughter by Yeshua, and a few supporters flee by
boat to safety in the south of France, where her legend will be kept alive in the folkloric rites of the gypsies.
For centuries, Mariam--Mary Magdalene--has been the subject of intense fascination and misunderstanding. For example, Starbird
details evidence that Magdalene does not refer to a purported hometown (Mejdal or Magdala). Its Hebrew origin--h Magdalnhn–means "Watchtower of the Flock" and was clearly intended as an honorific
title. Comparing the Greek Orpheus-Eurydice myth to the Christian tale of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, Starbird writes, "Both
Orpheus and Jesus bring great gifts for their followers–secrets
of transformation and enlightenment–and in both myths, union
with the beloved is denied. Both Eurydice and Mary Magdalene are left behind. Orpheus returns alone to the earth realm, while
Jesus ascends to a heavenly throne–alone–where he manifests the ascendant male principle of Western civilization for the
next two thousand years."(1) If you’re still wondering why
the Catholic Church will not ordain women, opposes women’s
right to control our own bodies, and fears the immense popularity of Wicca and Women’s Spirituality, think back to the Great Magdalene. (2005, Bear & Co. ISBN: 1-59143-054-2.)
And while you’re at it, grab a copy of Sexy
Witch. What is Sexy Witch, you ask? Mix one part Our Bodies, Our Selves (the original), one part
witchcraft Book of Shadows, and one part creativity or journal-keeping workbook then throw in a healthy helping of up-to-date,
sex-positive, consciousness-raising counsel. Abracadabra! Presto-change-o! It’s LaSara FireFox’s cheerful,
motivational guide for today’s crafty woman. Still not enough?
Turn to the appendices’ lists of copious resources--a roundup
of Web sites devoted to powerful women. Anyone who can envision a pantheon embracing not only Artemis, Kali, and the Virgin
of Guadalupe but also Coretta Scott King, Jackie O., June Carter Cash, J. K. Rowling, Annie Sprinkle, Mother Jones, Sinead
O’Connor, Susan Sarandon, and Patti Smith, definitely gets
my attention. (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0752-X.)
What moved the widely-popular Rachel Pollack to produce Seeker: The Tarot Unveiled?
This beginner’s manual features her patented off-the-cuff
style–an acquired taste--and idiosyncratic interpretations.
A book of this nature should have something, aside from the author’s Tarot-land celebrity, to make it stand out in an already-crowded field of basic Tarot books. Keep your eyes peeled
for more substantial, better-written guides. They’re out
there. (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0521-7.)
Absolutely no worries about lack of substance in any book by Aussie-born shamanic dream expert Robert Moss!
In person, Moss is a compelling, generous teacher with an astonishing depth and breadth of esoteric knowledge. As always,
his new work--The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead:
A Soul Traveler’s Guide to Death, Dying, and the Other Side–gives us more than we bargain for; the only risk is that we might get
lost in its intricate stories-within-stories. The current banquet includes everything from Moss’s dreamed encounters and partnership with Irish poet William Butler Yeats to explorations
of the death legends and rites of Lithuania and ancient Egypt. According to Moss, each time we dream we’re offered the chance to set forth and see for ourselves what lies beyond this life.
The veil between worlds is truly thin and admits the well-prepared traveler. Approach The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead when you’re ready to go slowly and absorb its heady, powerful themes and meditations. (2005, Destiny Books. ISBN: 1-59477-037-9.)
For a different take on spirit communication–well-grounded
in a moving story about family relationships–pick up Rochelle
Jewel Shapiro’s Miriam the Medium.
Miriam is a phone psychic whose professional and personal life starts to come undone. The reader looks on, horrified, as bad
goes to worse. Happily, Miriam is also a terrific mom and one tough cookie. Shapiro–who based her narrative on some aspects of her own life and psychic career–has created characters about whom it’s very easy
to care. This story is less about Miriam’s connection to
the spirit world than about the healing spirit of love. (2005, Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 0-7432-4478-8.)
1. Starbird, Margaret. Mary Magdalene: Bride in Exile. pp. 114-15.
Posted December 28, 2005
With his Harmonious Tarot deck, Ernest Fitzpatrick has achieved a most refined
hommage to Victorian artist Walter Crane (1845-1915). Flowery imagery of exquisite detail abounds, making
this one of the prettiest Lo Scarabeo decks on the market. Crane’s
fanciful art–borrowed or adapted by Fitzpatrick--certainly
lends itself to the imaginative purposes of Tarot. At first glance, it appears that Fitzgerald has chosen to evoke the Crane
best known for children’s book illustrations, fabric prints,
ceramics, and interior design, not the Socialist Crane who created hard-hitting political cartoons like "The Capitalist Vampire"
(1885) for Justice Journal. But look sharply! Even a pair of cutesy-pie posies like the young ladies adorning Fitzpatrick’s Two of Swords can sting. Each wears an armor-like bodice covered with
thorns; they arch a thorn-encrusted branch around themselves. Approach if you dare! The Ace of Swords depicts a sword hurtling
skyward as if jet-propelled as an heroically dancing angel whips up gusts of wind with her feather fans. The wealth and overindulgence
of the Nine of Cups is symbolized by a round-faced cook holding herbs in one hand while his other arm curves around the neck
of the plump goose that walks trustingly by his side. The cook gazes over his shoulder at a pair of servants, each bearing
an elaborate dessert in the shape of a house with a spire of flowers. Fitzgerald’s conception of The Tower really packs a wallop. The towering structure has already been blasted beyond recognition,
and a lone figure tumbles amid a terrifying shower of huge stone blocks. It’s impossible to look at this brilliant image without feeling profound, visceral disorientation. How interesting
that this deck is called "harmonious" when so much of it bears unexpected intensity, urgency, and power. (2005, Lo Scarabeo.
Something told me I would love Corrine Kenner’s
new book, Tarot Journaling: Using the Celtic Cross to Unveil Your Hidden Story. Maybe it was the author’s opening gambit–a half-serious, half-cheeky "Cautionary Note"--or her utterly charming headshot photo, or the appendix devoted
to "Writing Prompts" that I first flipped to and immediately devoured. Little did I know that I’d quickly enthrone this book beside Mary K. Greer’s Tarot for Your Self and, with wild enthusiasm, urge it upon any Tarot newbie or post-newbie. For anyone
who wants to develop intuitive skill and a deep knowledge of the cards, Tarot Journaling–the book and the practice--will work beautifully. Like Mark McElroy’s clever Tarot workbooks, Tarot Journaling offers both an amazing breadth
of imagination and breathtaking thoroughness. For one example–and
I could offer many–check out Kenner’s exhaustive list of types of journals. You’re sure to find something in these nine pages that you never considered: If the thought of keeping a formal journal
inhibits you, use index cards; slip loose sheets of your Tarot-related journal writing or illustrations into an artist’s portfolio; make audio recordings of your insights. Please get this
book even if you’re as bored with the Celtic Cross layout
as I am (or used to be--thank you, Corrine). Get it even if you’re
really more interested in journaling than in Tarot. Get it even if you’re absolutely sure you don’t want to keep a journal
of any kind whatsoever. The suggested exercises make great tools for self-exploration (and Tarot deck exploration) even if
you never choose to write down a word of your discoveries. Just don’t be surprised if, with Kenner’s resourceful
support, you do write, and write abundantly. (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0643-4)
Books devoted to historical, cross-cultural symbolism and depictions of sacred, magickal objects belong on every Tarotist’s reference shelf. Migene González-Wippler, author of numerous books on the occult and mystical religions, now offers the richly-illustrated
Complete Book of Amulets & Talismans. (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-87542-287-X.)
The tone of Alexandra Leclere’s memoir,
Seeing the Dead, Talking with Spirits: Shamanic Healing through Contact with the Spirit World, owes
a lot to her background as a television producer and distribution executive. She gives a business-like, straightforward presentation--no-frills,
WYSIWYG.* What her story lacks in exotic spookiness or literary magic, it makes up in sincerity and self-lacerating honesty.
Leclere’s experiences in the paranormal probably won’t raise the hairs on your arm, but her relationships with men–an annoying husband and a hulking, manipulative, self-declared shamanic
healer from the Adirondacks–definitely will. It’s a cautionary tale with a happy ending because Leclere got smart. Her
difficult experiences led her to profound growth, self-regard, and joy in living. (2005, Destiny Books. ISBN: 1-5947-7083-2.)
[*What you see is what you get.]
Yoga of the Mahamudra: The Mystical Way of Balance
reads like a sustained breath of clean, purifying mountain
air. In this beautiful volume by Canadian writer Will Johnson
, you will learn how the body can become like
a bamboo flute and how relaxed, spontaneous movements of the body can express higher consciousness and usher in divine energies.
(2005, Inner Traditions. ISBN: 1-89281-699-6.)
Posted November 22, 2005
The Hartley Film Foundation’s new Great Minds DVD,
Andrew Harvey: Sacred Activism, features a dramatic and stirring motivational lecture by the well-known scholar,
author, and mystic. The film presents complex global crises as urgent calls for us to passionately re-engage with Spirit,
nature, and humanity. We must do so without delay, Harvey argues: "Everything that we are is at stake." Through seven scourges–such as rapid population growth, global warming, and religious fundamentalism--the
Divine Mother invites us to gaze upon the damage we have wrought within ourselves and our world. Detailing each of these "seven
heads of the Beast," Harvey adds, "I am not frightened and I am not in despair." For every ill, he offers a balm from his
list of "seven stars of divine humanity" and bids us become midwives of "a new way of being and loving everything that is
even now being manifested." While Harvey stops short of offering specific prescriptives, he identifies available resources
and core values that will help each "sacred activist" find his or her appropriate role in this movement of healing and renewal.
(2005, Hartley Film Foundation.) To order or for more information, visit www.hartleyfoundation.org or call 1-800-937-1819. See Harvey’s Web
site at www.andrewharvey.net for more information about his recordings, publications, and special events.
Posted November 8, 2005
The Masters of Magic Oracle Cards by Laura Tuan and Severino
Baraldi presents, as its box tell us, "The holders of the Occult Lore, the characters that had made the history of
magic and of hermetic knowledge." Of the 36 modest-sized cards, only four depict women, and these only from the realm of legend
and myth. Why are the flesh-and-blood women from Britain’s
Golden Dawn or America’s Spiritualist movement, for instance,
missing in action? Surely they should join the likes of Pythagoras, Mesmer, Edgar Cayce, and a host of more obscure spiritual
ancestors. Masters of Magic is a good concept overburdened in its execution. It’s not often clear how each card’s key words and
ideas square with the life and nature of the person depicted. The accompanying booklet details each master’s biography, the positive and negative meanings assigned–arbitrarily, I think–to
each card, and associated colors, elements, months, and days of the week. The booklet offers three basic "interpreted games"
(or layouts) and six far more interesting "uninterpreted games." The book is not user-friendly. Unless you possess prodigious
powers of memorization, you’ll need to constantly flip back
and forth between distant sections as you struggle to piece together your interpretations. If you’re fascinated by the lives of great clairvoyants, mediums, alchemists, astrologers,
and healers–at least of the male variety–you might overlook the awkwardness and unsuitability of this deck as a divination
tool and just enjoy it as a novelty collector’s item. (2005,
Lo Scarabeo. ISBN: 0-7387-0797-X.)
For something completely different, treat yourself–or
an art-loving friend–to the Golden Tarot of Klimt.
Be aware that for this classy, black-and-gold-trimmed beauty, artist A. A. Atanassov does not shy away from
appropriating many of Gustav Klimt’s cold, grim depictions
of the human form. All in all, Atanassov’s resplendent images
are a revelation, offering new ways to understand The Fool and The Empress, for instance, and not stinting on fresh, creative
ideas when presenting each card of the Minor Arcana. As is often the case, if you know your Tarot, you can safely file the
accompanying booklet and never refer to it again. I would not recommend this deck for beginners who desire a firm grounding
in conventional Tarot imagery and interpretation. However, if you’re
a Klimt fan, dive right in! (2005, Lo Scarabeo. ISBN: 0-7387-0790-2.)
Posted October 27, 2005
Author Susan M. Watkins drew from several decades of her own experiences of coincidence and precognition
to bring us What A Coincidence!: The WOW! factor in synchronicity and what it means in everyday life
(2005, Moment Point Press. ISBN: 1-930491-07-7). "What if the mind is sorting through far more than what we think of
as daily life, and has literally an infinite reach, encompassing everything that is possible and probable in a constant, dazzling
organizational display from which we pick and choose the shape of our experience?" she speculates. (1) What if you had never
considered this possibility or read other authors who had?
Watkins’s lengthy personal accounts and casual tone are
impaired by clunky writing and occasionally fuzzy thinking, such as her attribution of unconscious or subconscious content
to the conscious mind: "What if everything we need to know is contained in our conscious minds, of which we habitually employ
the merest surface layer?" (2) Is the conscious mind really an interior Google, as she suggests, or more likely the
computer through which we can dial up that collective Google that so fascinated Carl Jung?
Eyes glazing over, I hurried past Chapter 4, landing on a page where Watkins recalled reading an historical novel by Max
Byrd. She wrote, "I lose my patience with it for some reason and start skimming through the chapters to see how it comes out."
If you’ve drawn breath, you’ve had numerous coincidences of your own and need not join this convoluted trip down
memory lane. But perhaps you’ll find useful counsel in Chapter
15 where Watkins reveals her basic recommendations: Keep a coincidence journal; make predictions every day and, for the record,
email them to yourself or a friend; tell yourself that your next random thought will offer the solution to your problem.
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, you’ll enjoy Annie
Wilder’s House of Spirits and Whispers:
The True Story of A Haunted House (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0777-5.). It’s a pleasure to spend time with a good storyteller--one gifted with
style, wit, and compassionate insight. Don’t expect a scary
tale. Although Wilder’s Victorian house may seem like rush
hour at Times Square from the comings and goings of so many disembodied and embodied characters, there’s surprisingly very little unpleasantness afoot. What’s more, Wilder is completely at ease with her psychic sensitivity. That puts us at ease,
too, and eliminates the hopped-up sensationalism that often prevails in this kind of first-person account of paranormal activity.
Teenage readers interested in the intuitive arts might find a counterpart in Linda Joy Singleton’s main character, the young psychic, Sabine Rose, in Last
Dance (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN: 0-7387-0638-8.). In this volume–the second book in Singleton’s youth series,
The Seer--Sabine strives to find a cure for her grandmother’s illness while attempting to cope with the difficulty of being very different from her mother and her peers.
1. Watkins, Susan. M. What A Coincidence!, p. 9.
3. Watkins, p. 39.
Posted September 14, 2005
The prolific Christopher Penczak continues his impressive series of witchcraft guides with The
Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft: Shadows, Spirits and the Healing Journey. The witch must be a "walker between
worlds," Penczak argues, and to do so he or she must reunite contemporary Wiccan practice with its roots in ancient shamanic
tradition. The author explores these roots, proposing a "year-and-a-day" course of training in which the student journeys
to the shamanic Upper, Middle, and Lower Worlds of spiritual power but also, and most importantly, encounters his or her own
personal shadow self. Penczak’s clearly-organized and hearty
book features useful approaches to meditating, accessing high levels of awareness and perception, creating sacred implements
and rituals, healing emotional wounds, and journeying among a plethora of deities and spiritual beings. This is Penczak’s richest book yet, a good starting place for readers who are new to
his work. Highly recommended. (2005, Llewellyn. ISBN: 0-7387-0767-8) Also look for Penczak’s 4-CD audio companion set, featuring shamanic music, guided journeys, and various exercises and
meditations. (ISBN: 0-7387-0768-6)
The Sacred Power of Huna: Spirituality and Shamanism in Hawai’i
by social anthropologist Rima A. Morrell, Ph.D., is reminiscent of the Hawaiian language, itself a central topic of her study
of the culture, philosophy, ethics, and lore of native Hawaii. In the mellifluous Hawaiian tongue, a single word may carry
various associated meanings. These multidimensional words nestle within sentences that are themselves capable of deftly shapeshifting
to signify one thing and then another. While English speakers most often strive to deliver efficiently discrete packets of
information, Hawaiian speakers proffer radiant petals to linger over and unfold, the better to savor the nectar within. Morrell’s presentation holds wonders if you don’t mind gathering your knowledge in the Hawaiian way. Beginners who might prefer a more
comprehensive and straightforward guide to Huna and its psychological applications should try Max Freedom Long’s The Secret Science Behind Miracles. Read Morrell’s book for unique features such as the chapters dealing with the shamanic
basis of hula and Hawaiian beliefs about sexuality. (2005, Inner Traditions. ISBN: 1-59477-009-3)
In Foundations of Magic: Techniques & Spells That Work, author J.F. O’Neill strips magick (or magic, as he would spell it) down to its
bare essentials in an unusual and fascinationg spellcraft book that owes quite a bit to the theories and practices of Neuro-Linguistic
Programming, Ericksonian hypnotherapy, and gestalt therapy. Readers who already follow a spiritual or religious path–or no tradition at all–should find no conflict with pre-existing beliefs or systems of practice. O’Neill holds the use of magickal accoutrements such as herbs, sigils and candles to a stark minimum while he maximizes
the use of conscious, focused will (or Will, as he would have it) and ritualistic precision. Even if you do not believe
in magick or you believe but can’t figure out how it works,
you can perform the suggested spells successfully, the author says, if you follow his exact directions. Part I offers a substantial
discussion of theory and exercises that prepare the student for Part II’s instructions for any manner of workings, among them: "Spell for an Unfaithful Lover," "Eliminating An Allergy,"
"Bringing Out the Sun," "Bringing Out the Rain," and perhaps the most useful spell ever conceptualized, "Not Taking Yourself
or Your Situation So Seriously." Highly recommended. (2005, Llewellyn. ISBN: 0-7387-0743-0)
Through it’s Destiny Recordings label,
Inner Traditions has recently reissued three CDs that should appeal to a wide range of spiritual practitioners:
Ritual Drumming: Evoking the Sacred through Rhythms of the Spirit–a cross-cultural musical celebration (from Middle Eastern to Brazilian percussion), featuring drummers Mishlen
Linden and Louis Martinié (1994, 2005. ISBN: 1-5447-7072-7)
Sacred Sounds of the Female Orishas: Rhythms of the Goddess–Santeria praise songs collected by Raul Canizares, author of Walking with the night: the Afro-Cuban world of
Santeria. (1994, 2005. ISBN: 1-5947-7071-9)
Attunements for Day and Night: Chants to the Sun and Moon–Hindu mantras chanted by Harish Johari. (1995, 2005. ISBN: 1-5947-7073-5)
Posted August 6, 2005
The Moonlit Path: Reflection on the Dark Feminine–edited
by Fred Gustafson–provides an antidote to the often unbearable
lightness of feel-good New Age spirituality. Authors Sylvia Brinton Perera, Matthew Fox, Meinrad Craighead, Pierre Teilhard
de Chardin, Andrew Harvey and others present a collective portrait of the feminine spirits and goddesses who best reflect
the dangers and the tranformational power of our current days. Essay titles include "Guadalupe is a Girl Gang Leader in Heaven"
(Clarissa Pinkola Estés), "Dark Bride: Magdalene As Mystic" (Annette
M. Hulefeld), and "Raise Up Those Held Down: A Pilgrimage to the Black Madonna, Mother of the Excluded, Aparecida, Brazil"
(China Galland). (2003, Nicolas-Hays, Inc., distributed by Red Wheel/Weiser. ISBN: 0-89254-06408)
The muted, dreamy art of Lisa Hunt’s appealing
Animals Divine Tarot deck will spark your imagination as you explore each card. Hunt maintains traditional
Tarot structure and terminology but also reaches beyond Tarot’s
conventionally human and Eurocentric imagery, taking inspiration from a world of cross-cultural legends and myths about animals
and animal spirit guides. Both readers and querents will find this deck inviting, perfect for shamanic-style meditation as
well as divination. (78 cards with book. 2005, Llewellyn. ISBN: 0-7387-0321-4)
Mark McElroy, the practical, infinitely clever author of Putting the Tarot to Work and Taking the Tarot
to Heart, now offers What’s in the Cards
for You?, an accessible workbook featuring thirty experiments designed to help beginners accelerate their engagement
with Tarot. (2005, Llewellyn. ISBN: 0-7387-0702-3)
Each card in Zach Wong’s Revelations Tarot
deck is meant to be read either right-side up or reversed. Each direction bears more or less distinct imagery. This approach
might sound like a boon for new Tarot readers who need guidance in how to interpret reversed cards–a tricky, if potentially creative and illuminating aspect of divination. Unfortunately,
the murky, ambiguous, cartoonish illustrations--particularly in the Minor Arcana--undercut Wong’s concept. Few students will want to spend much time learning on a deck that’s simply not pleasing to the eye. (78 cards with book. 2005, Llewellyn.
Postmodern Magic: The Art of Magic in the Information Age brings freshness to the topic of magickal practice
with provocative ideas and fun exercises derived from author Patrick Dunn’s study of linguistics as well as his extensive knowledge of diverse pagan traditions. Experienced practitioners
may differ with some of Dunn’s techniques and question a
few glaring instances of ethical laissez faire. Postmodern Magic outshines most magickal manuals by demonstrating
that a mage’s most powerful tool is an open, searching mind.
Instead of guiding readers along a well-worn path, Dunn encourages them to ask probing questions and to answer them through
original research. (2005, Llewellyn. ISBN: 0-7387-0663-9)
Posted May 17, 2005
Pina Coluccia, Anette Paffrath, and Jean Pütz: Belly
Dancing: The Sensual Art of Energy and Spirit (2005, Park Street Press) ISBN: 1-59477-021-2. 183pp. www.InnerTraditions.com
Authors Coluccia, Paffrath, and Pütz take a woman-empowering,
Goddess-oriented approach to beledi, the beautiful dance of the Middle East. Informative, even engrossing, their book
is written for a broad audience, especially women with no prior experience in any kind of dance. The combination of simple
language, clear design, and glossy, colorful photos of contemporary dancers and ancient art makes Belly Dancing an
appealing read–perfect for a rainy weekend with a little
classic Turkish music playing softly on your stereo.
We learn about great ancient goddesses–Ishtar, Artemis,
and Aphrodite–who represent energizing aspects of self that
we can access through dancing. The authors discuss Islam’s
original concept of womanhood–surprisingly quite feminist!–and the way beledi lost some of its true dignity and psychospiritual
power when it was introduced to the West in the 19th Century and became danse du ventre or belly dance.
We discover the benefit of belly dance’s undulating movements
for pregnant moms, and–who knew?–men
can who practice this dance can relieve their stress and throw away those
Viagra pills! Every age group–from childhood to menopause–can benefit from learning this dance. As an exercise regimen, it’s superb for boosting metabolism, strengthening the cardiovascular,
muscular and skeletal systems, burning fat, and toning the body. The authors take great care to detail how the body-mind’s storage of difficult and traumatic experiences can produce injury
and illness. Dancing, they tell us, helps the body-mind system release harmful, stuck energies so that it can more easily
The instructional sections (warming up, basic movements, patterns) emphasize proper posture, relaxation, safety, and enjoyment.
The authors introduce images that can help the student dancer achieve alignment, flexibility, range, and energy. ("Remember
to think of your hips as a giant spoon that you are using to stir thick dough.") These instructions, fairly comprehensive,
work best for the beginner who asks a friend to read them to her while she tries them out. After some practice, you will only
need to consult the instructions for fine-tuning.
Not enough, you say? How about the authors’ terrific
finale: Middle Eastern cuisine–very healthy–with some wonderful recipes!
Posted May 12, 2005
Catherine Shainberg: Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming: Awakening the Visionary Life
(2005, Inner Traditions) ISBN: 1-59477-047-6. 205pp. www.InnerTraditions.com
"What characterizes great dreams? Their classic structure, clear colors, compactness, beauty, impact, simplicity," writes
Catherine Shainberg, Ph.D. in Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming. "Great dreams are like good poetry, we trust them.
Or like a good lover: strong, sweet, pliant, inciting. Beacons, they illuminate and guide us and we can never forget them."
The philosophy and methodology Shainberg proposes necessitate astonishing trust in the stirrings of the subsconscious and
the transformative power of imagery.
The reader’s journey with Shainberg begins, appropriately,
with a charming photograph of her and her mentor, the late Colette Simhah Aboulker-Muscat who traced her Kabbalistic lineage
back to Jewish sages of 13th-century Provence and Gerona, Spain. Looking at these two women sitting in the garden
of the elderly Aboulker-Muscat’s Jerusalem home, the reader
is immediately drawn in. Shainberg’s Acknowledgements page
also brings a smile to one’s face. Rather than the usual
page of paragraphs, she offers an image--a flower with each of its numerous petals named for a person the author wishes to
thank. The Prologue tells the story of Shainberg’s early
life and of her introduction to and training with her teacher. We learn that Aboulker-Muscat taught that Kabbalah originates
within the self, accessible to anyone of any background willing to set dogma aside. Following promptings from her dreams and
visions, Shainberg eventually converted to Judaism but sees that step as an individual commitment, not a requirement for Kabbalah.
Amazingly, you will not find a single Tree of Life diagram or reference to the ten spheres in this book. Shainberg replaces
these revered traditions with a strong thread of psychological exploration and development, including numerous exercises in
imagery work and applied lessons from stories and myths. Readers with interests in Jungian psychology will be apt to find
this approach compatible. Don’t be surprised if you occasionally
find yourself slightly spacing out while reading some of Shainberg’s material and then becoming alert and focused when she addresses issues that, in the moment, have great consequence
for you. For more information about Shainberg’s work, visit
Posted April 26, 2005
Silver RavenWolf: A Witch’s Notebook:
Lessons in Witchcraft (2005, Llewellyn Publications) ISBN: 0-7387-0662-0. 248pp. www.llewellyn.com
Silver RavenWolf’s latest volume updates the very idea
of the Book of Shadows--a witch’s record of spells worked
and their results--by packing it with concepts, symbols, language, and methods from quantum physics, Zen Buddhism, Native
American ways, Voodoo, even Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four
Agreements. Her book quickly plunges the reader into action with a copious helping of imaginative–if often overly fussy--exercises and spells and a wonderful, large section on the
symbolism, lore, and uses of herbs in healing and spellcraft. An eager witchcraft newbie might be confused by RavenWolf’s liberal appropriation of so many non-Wiccan elements. The writer’s preoccupation with Buddhist concepts of "enlightenment" and "no mind"–integral to her understanding of how magick works--might make unconvinced,
impatient readers skip ahead. It’s grand that this influential
Craft expert recognizes that today’s witch need not develop
his or her practice in cultural and intellectual isolation; there’s
a world of great resources and wisdom out there. Diverse beliefs and practices, like islands rising from the sea, may be seen
to have a common foundation–what Aldous Huxley called "the
perennial philosophy"–reflecting our common humanity. However,
RavenWolf’s eclectic approach could have been more effective
if her material had received careful editing and copyediting. What works fine in a personal journal, an intimate workshop
setting, or casual conversation does not always translate well to the page.
Posted April 5, 2005
Robert Moss: Dreamways of the Iroquois: Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul (2005,
Destiny Books) ISBN: 1-59477-034-4. 278pp. www.InnerTraditions.com
Anthony Shafton: Dream-singers: The African American Way with Dreams (2002, John Wiley
& Sons, Inc.) ISBN: 0-741-39535-8. 311pp.
If you value dreams, you owe it to yourself to read these two books that examine cultural perspectives unfamiliar to most
dreamworkers. These studies broaden our understanding of the important roles that symbols and altered states of consciousness
play within cultures outside the Euro-American mainstream. In Dreamways of the Iriquois, Australian-born Moss--one
of the dreamwork field’s most enchanting writers and teachers--shares
his personal, mystical journey deep within Native American lore and history. After Shafton--a white writer and researcher---noticed
the dearth of black people involved in the Association for the Study of Dreams--he launched an independent study of African
American dreamers and their dreams. Dream-singers contains a wealth of information about black people’s beliefs, experiences, practices, and literary writing related to dreams. Laypersons
as well as professional counselors will find Moss’s and
Shafton’s books to be enjoyable, eye-opening reads and will
benefit from the documentaion, perspectives, and useful tools each volume offers.
Posted: April 2, 2005
Teresa C. Michelsen: The Complete Tarot Reader: Everything You Need to Know From Start to Finish (2005,
Llewellyn Publications) ISBN: 0-7387-0434-2. 288pp. www.llewellyn.com
The Complete Tarot Reader
, a systematic training program for beginners, is a workmanlike effort from one of Tarot’s most reliable advocates and teachers. Michelsen’s substantial analysis of the clothing and body language of Tarot characters shows
her typical smart thinking. Other fine sections include discussions about handling tricky querent situations (for instance,
when the querent does not offer a specific question or asks too many), formulating a code of ethics, and overcoming psychological
barriers to reading effectively for yourself. She’s absolutely
right that it’s often presumptuous and alienating to rephrase
a querent’s question. I usually give my querents space to
hear themselves as they ask their questions. When they sense that a question may not be productive, they usually seek ways
to rework it by themselves (with my support). That’s more
empowering and less off-putting than rushing in to "correct" them. Michelsen’s discussion of the difference between (and challenges of) predictive and facilitative readings is also constructive
and non-dogmatic. This book is a good companion piece to Mary K. Greer’s Tarot for Your Self, making up in thoroughness what it may lack in fun and imaginative style.
Posted: March 6, 2005
Neale Donald Walsch: Tomorrow's God: Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge (2004, Atria Books) ISBN: 0-7434-5695-5.
I hopped off the Neale Donald Walsch Express right after Conversations with God, Book 1, and apparently missed everything
from Conversations with God for Teens to Neale Donald Walsch on Relationships and Conversations with God:
Re-Minder Cards. (Surely a Conversations volume for pets and their human buddies is missing, and Walsch should
get on that right away.) Nonetheless, I was curious enough to hop back aboard this year to see how Walsch and his controversial
source of information--nicely and satisfactorily explained in this latest book--would deal with religion's culpability for
the sorry state of our world. The dialogue is suitably cautionary: Humankind's challenge is to let go of rickety old theological
concepts before we completely destroy ourselves and our planet. This book offers a sensible new paradigm and--less compelling--an
invitation to join Walsch's official network of likeminded souls committed to spreading new thought and action around the
globe. Read as much of this didactic but unabashedly heretical book as you feel you must to get its point and then, if it
moves you, live your life accordingly.
Judith Orloff, M.D.: Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions to Transform Fatigue, Stress, and Fear Into
Vibrance, Strength and Love (2000, Harmony Books) ISBN 0-609-61010-4. 353pp. www.drjudithorloff.com
Judith Orloff, M.D., a psychiatrist and intuitive, practices what she preaches in her latest book: She writes with great
energy, insight, warmth, and wit. Combining her scientific knowledge, clinical skills, and empathic, intuitive gifts, she
offers a complete program for liberating yourself from harmful attitudes and behaviors, and becoming more attuned to the wisdom
of your body and soul. You'll want to snap up copies for everyone who matters to you.
Posted: February 8, 2005 ½ hours in one sitting or who want to repeat particular sections.
Suzi Gablik: Living the Magical Life: An Oracular Adventure (2002, Phanes Press) SBN:
1-890482-86-2. 207pp. Distributed by RedWheel/Weiser. www.redwheelweiser.com
Art critic and gadfly Suzi Gablik (author
of Has Modernism Failed? and The Reenchantment of Art) recounts her time of obsession with the Black Madonna, oracular divination
(via the I Ching and randomly-selected thesaurus entries), and one maddeningly elusive hearthrob. Living the Magical Life--by
turns, fascinating and irritating--merits your time by virtue of the author's rich prose and her insight into the strange
wonders of synchronicity.
David Goddard: Tree of Sapphires: the enlightened Qabalah (2004, RedWheel/Weiser)ISBN: 1-57863-303-6.
Having enjoyed The Tower of Alchemy and The Sacred Magic of Angels, I was eager
to read this latest work by David Goddard, one of the best teachers on the subject of Qabalah and its transformative applications.
Like its predecessors, Tree of Sapphires offers an unusual combination of crystalline clarity, practicality, poetry, and magic.
Sheilaa Hite: Secrets of a Psychic Counselor: Insightful Guidance & Inspiring True Stories of Love, Prosperity,
and Success (2003, Moment Point Press) ISBN: 0-930491-03-4. 155pp. Distributed by RedWheel/Weiser. www.redwheelweiser.com
One-part handbook on self-esteem, one-part book of spells, Secrets of a Psychic Counselor, like its African-American
author, has style and humor. Examining Hite's case histories, however, I'd say she doesn't use psychic skills but, rather,
a perceptive observation of human nature and skillful motivation. The spells she asks her clients to perform--"courses of
action," as she calls these elaborate workings--are mere window-dressing or, perhaps, a crafty way to establish her authority.
Secrets, a quick and sometimes amusing read, shows how Hite gets clients to shift how they think about themselves and their
Marcia L. Pickands: Psychic Abilities: How to Train and Use Them (1999, RedWheel/Weiser) ISBN: 1-57863-111-4.
Marcia L. Pickands' parents accepted her psychic gifts and she was blessed with Cherokee
mentors who passed along a matter-of-fact attitude about all things spiritual and psychic. Her readers benefit from this natural,
no-fuss approach to the intentional development of psychic abilities. In her small but useful guide for beginners, Pickands
wisely emphasizes ethics, humility, and a dedication to serving a power greater than oneself.
This 'n' That
February 16, 2005
Don Miguel Ruiz: The Mastery of Love: A Personal Guide to the Art of Relationship. 2-CD abridged
audio book. ISBN: 1-878424-57-2. 153 min. (2002, Amber-Allen Publishing) www.amberallen.com
"The truth, forgiveness,
and self-love: With these three points, the whole world will heal and no longer be a mental hospital," writes shaman and bestselling
author don Miguel Ruiz in The Mastery of Love. Ruiz, world-renowned for The Four Agreements, describes himself as a Toltec
("artist of the spirit"). He's on a mission to help readers and students rediscover divinity within. This audio abridgement
of The Mastery of Love--read by L.A. Law's Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker--includes don Miguel's perspective on breaking
free of your childhood programming ("domestication"), becoming aware of your true identity (pure love), and restoring your
free will. Self-acceptance is the key to a fresh start in life and a requirement for healthy relationship. Overall, I enjoyed
this CD--especially its gorgeous final chapter--but you might be jarred, as I was, by don Miguel's occasional references to
"a man and a woman." Hard to believe that this otherwise broadminded teacher can't imagine non-heterosexual romance. Since
most of his presentation counsels working on self rather than hunting love or trying to fix another person, many listeners
will be able to overlook don Miguel's momentary heterocentric lapses. A list of track numbers and chapter titles would have
been helpful for those of us who don't own the book and can't listen to the full 2
Posted: February 8, 2005
The Circle of Fire (2002, Amber-Allen/Thirst for Life) ISBN: 1-878424-14-9. www.amberallen.com and www.caricole.com
Singer-songwriter Cari Cole's CD will appeal to fans of her mentor, the shaman don Miguel Ruiz (world-famous for The
Four Agreements) and please the more openminded, New Age-y end of the Christian music market. However, you need not be religious
to be charmed by this luminous performer, her deep musicianship, and her uplifting compositions. If you love Sarah McLachlan's
work, as I do, you'll find much to admire here.