book review

The Sober Pagan Book Review of Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction by Mackenzie Phillips

October, 2018

Book Review of Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction by Mackenzie Phillips

The last column I wrote was titled “What’s in your toolbox?”, which was posted August, 2018. I missed posting an article last month due to my father’s illness and subsequent death. Believe me, during the stress of the past several months, I have had more than one occasion to open up my toolbox and review all the tools I have in there. In some cases, I polished them off and updated them. Others I just cherished like the old friends that they are. And I added a few new ones because it seems like there’s always another tool to be tried. I once heard that AA meetings are like recovery hardware stores when it comes to finding healing tools to help you become healthy and whole.

Of course, there are other place to find tools and books are one of those places. I have a large collection of recovery books – AA-approved and otherwise. Recently, the editor of PaganPagesOrg, Jennifer Sacasa-Wright, sent me Mackenzie Phillip’s latest book, Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction, published by Atria Paperbacks, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

This is a wonderful little book. I don’t know if you know who Mackenzie Phillips is – she’s five months older than me so we are contemporaries – but knowing who she is really doesn’t matter as far as the contents of this book is concerned. You’ll find out enough about her so that you know that she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to using drugs and trying to get sober and eventually achieving that serenity. If you want to know more about her life, there’s an autobiography with all the titillating tidbits that everyone tweets about called High On Arrival: A Memoir

. And of course, there’s always Google. But Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction is just that – eleven short missives on how to get through the worst part of recovery – which, really is all of it.

Each chapter is set up the same way. There is the title of the chapter and a quote from an outside source that defines the chapter. Then she has a story about her own use or maybe someone she knows – someone in her past life or someone she has counseled in her practice. She is very discrete in her disclosures but you always get the message – the strength, the hope, the experience. At the end of each chapter there is a section called “It Works If You Work It”. It’s the “workbook” section of the book – where you get your paper and pen and answer questions about what you just read and apply it to your own recovery. In this way, she makes this slender book into a living act of hope and healing.

Some of the things she wrote about really hit home in a large way. When she wrote about “re-creating history” (page 5) that rang so true, even though I didn’t have a family history of shooting heroin – but I have a family history of alcohol use and abuse – so the idea of “it being so normal” (page 5) definitely rang true. I grew up with the martinis that my parents always drank when Daddy came home from work and the beers that were consumed at every family picnic. The hangovers that were explained as Grampa’s morning “grumpiness”. You had to stay out of his way, ya know? This was normal. And I thought that all mommies drank red wine when they made dinner! So naturally, I re-created this reality when I grew up. Not with red wine but with beer and marijuana. I remember my little son handing me a rolling paper so I could roll a joint first thing in the morning! For my doobie with my coffee! That helpful little guy! That was a wake-up call right there.

Another thing that I could really identify with when she wrote that getting high felt great (page 17). It does feel great – that’s why we do it. There’s no other reason any addict or alcoholic uses – and that’s whatever your drug of choice may be – and I’m including food and gambling and sex and working out with this – getting high feels like a million bucks when you do it. It’s the other part of using that sucks – the hangover, especially – but also the empty bank account and the broken promises and whatever problems are caused by your actions. And even a so-called good addiction – like working out – can have adverse outcomes. There is use – there is abuse – and there is dependence. The question is – where does your relationship with your substance of choice lead you?

A lot of what she writes about is the same stuff you will hear about at any AA/NA meeting or rehab group or therapy session. Mindfulness – trusting yourself and others – acceptance – surrender – forgiveness of others and of yourself – taking responsibility and consequences. On pages 83 and 84, she has a 5-point plan, which I read to be a pre-Twelve-Step plan of action – points 1 and 2 are about thinking about changing your addictive ways and point 3 is preparation for change. Point 4 is action – when you go to AA/NA, check in at rehab, see a therapist, tell all your friends that you’re getting sober. Point 5 is maintenance. She writes, “This is when the real work begins.” (page 84) She doesn’t say that this is when you go through the Twelve Steps of whatever group with which you have chosen to affiliate yourself. But this is what she means: “The possibility of relapse is always real, but this is also the stage in which you arm yourself with a set of skills that will make you less likely to slide back into places that you’re determined to leave behind.” (page 84)

One of the best chapters in the entire book is near the end. It’s about abuse and denial. She writes:

Here’s the hardcore truth: you can smash the pipe, put the plug in the jug, break the tip off the needle, but if you

don’t address the deeper issues, you’re not going to be able to get whole or become a healthy part of the world

around you. Trauma, maltreatment, or abuse, whatever you choose to call it, is a huge, deeper issue that comes

up a lot when we look at addiction. Not talking about trauma and its relationship to substance use would be like

avoiding the larger-than-normal elephant in the room. Childhood trauma and its aftermath is something that

needs to be spoken of and brought out in the open. This is also true of adult trauma, which is often not spoken of

or reported.

(page 123)

I totally agree with this – not only is it true in my own life, I can attest to this, having sat and listened to many other people – at AA and NA meetings, in rehab sessions, and in domestic violence groups.

She talks about trauma in scientific and compassionate ways. How we carry trauma with us for “the rest of our lives”. (page 129) The “before-trauma you” and the “after-trauma you”. (page 129) For those of us who have experienced multiple traumas and different kinds of traumas, this kind of demarcation makes sense – like looking at pictures in a photo album.

Phillips also writes that trauma “takes up residence not only in your mind but also in your body.” (page 129) Trauma victims experience “headaches; pain in your joints; stomach issues; weight issues; feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, and depression.” (page 129-30) How many of us have had these symptoms? I know that I took opiates for years for some of these!

The one thing she doesn’t talk about in this book is spirituality. The closest she comes to it is talking about hope. And she writes that “humor and laughter are just other faces of hope” (page 143) and to remember that “hope is the thing with wings”. (page 145) Other than that, she never mentions a word about anything spiritual whatsoever. This, honestly, is one of the book’s strengths. This book has the ability to appeal to anyone struggling with substance abuse regardless of religion or spiritual beliefs or lack thereof. For wiccans and pagans looking to read a book on sobriety that doesn’t cram God-talk down their throats, Mackenzie Phillips offers a really nice alternative to so many of the recovery books that are currently on the shelves of our libraries and bookstores.

All in all, I have to say that this is an outstanding little book and I would recommend it to anyone interested in recovery. In fact, I have a good friend to whom I plan to give it to the next time I see her! I know she will read it and pass it on to another woman in recovery. I hope it goes far!

Until next month – it works if you work it! Brightest Blessings!

References

Phillips, Mackenzie. Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction. NY: Atria Paperbacks, 2017.

Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Seeing the Signs – Book Review of Cartomancy with the Lenormand and the Tarot by Patrick Dunn

October, 2018

Book Review of Cartomancy with the Lenormand and the Tarot by Patrick Dunn

I found Cartomancy with the Lenormand and the Tarot: Create Meaning & Gain Insight from the Cards, by Patrick Dunn, at my local public library. As usual, I discovered it while looking for something else which naturally wasn’t on the shelf. (This happens so often that I expect it). I got it out and read it quickly and returned it within the borrowing period. A few weeks ago, I borrowed it again. This is the kind of library book that you don’t want to return. I plan on purchasing it for my own sometime in the future. It’s a mass-market paperback, put out by Llewellyn Publications.

As regular readers of my column, “Learning the Lenormand” already know, I have been using The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards by Caitlín Matthews as my “basic text” for learning the Lenormand. This is a wonderful book and I can’t recommend it enough. But as fabulous as this book is, I want to read other books about the Lenormand. Let’s face it – the more you study, the better you’re going to be able to read the cards. have always been an important part of my spiritual quest. Reading, taking notes and working with the concepts that I learn through the printed medium – or online, nowadays – is how someone like me learns.

My original intent was to review this book for “Learning the Lenormand” but the scope of this book is way beyond simply either the Lenormand or the Tarot. After reading this book several times and taking notes, my take is that Dunn’s main reason for writing this book is to show the relationship between the Lenormand and the Tarot. He has a bunch of very interesting ideas. This is much more than a “how-to” book on reading the cards.

In the introduction, Dunn writes that he wanted to write about “divination through the use of cards” (Dunn, xv) and that he is focusing on the Lenormand and Tarot cards – the Lenormand because it is relatively “little-known” in the United States while the Tarot is familiar to most people, even with folks who have never sought its wisdom and knowledge. He also writes that he wanted “to provide some ways to use the two systems together” (Dunn, xv). But he goes on to say that “this is a book about types of knowledge and ways of listening” and that “this book serves as a meditation” on that particular worldview (Dunn, xv-xvi). He also says that while you can use the book as a how-to book, it is really about “how to develop a relationship” with the cards (Dunn, xvi). I think anyone who has spent time with any divination method will agree with this – you need to have a good working relationship with your cards – whether they are Tarot, Lenormand or some other oracle deck.

He starts off talking about the Lenormand. He covers its history and association with playing cards and fortune-telling. I find it interesting that he does not mention “The Game of Hope” or “Coffee Cards”, both mentioned in The Complete Lenormand Oracle. (Matthews, 4-6) He asserts that Mademoiselle Marie-Anne Lenormand’s method of using cards to foretell the future changed the popular idea of the card-reader from its association with Gypsies and the “Roma people”. (Dunn, 2) Instead, reading cards for divinatory results became “thoroughly genteel”. (Dunn, 3) Instead, he focuses on the readers of the cards and their somewhat unsavory reputations. He fully credits the various schools of Lenormand reading that sprung up after Mademoiselle Lenormand’s death with this evolution of attitude. (Dunn, 3)

He writes that there are various methods of reading the cards – a French method, a German method and South American method. (Dunn, 4) He says that an “American” method – meaning the United States – has “yet to arise” but there are “hints” of a “developing system”. (Dunn, 4-5) He laments the lack of resources for American readers of the Lenormand but admits that this is actually “good news”. Instead of reading dozens of books on the subject – like you can with the Tarot – a practitioner is forced to “begin with the cards themselves.” (Dunn, 5)

His descriptions of the meanings of the cards are simple and to the point. I made scans of these pages to add to my own Lenormand notebook.

 

I put these pages and the others I scanned into my notebook. I like how there’s a blank area below the description of each card so you can write in your own notes. If this book was my very own – instead of a library book – I would have already had this book all marked up!

The very next chapter is about the Major Arcana of the Tarot. He doesn’t cover the Minor Arcana at all. He writes that his focus on the Major Arcana is due to the “fruitful” relationship between the images of the Major Arcana and the Lenormand, focusing only on the “esoteric or inner meanings of these symbols” (Dunn, 29)

Here are some of the scanned pages from his chapter on the Major Arcana:

So then Dunn veers away from both the Lenormard and the Tarot to devote a chapter on Occult Symbolism. He writes, “All human are geniuses at one thing: interpreting symbols.” (Dunn, 40) Perhaps this is true – at any rate, humans do try to make sense of the material world and how it mirrors the esoteric. I personally feel that this chapter is a bit long-winded – the reader can be forgiven for skipping over it for more interesting parts of the book. However, this chapter does – however circular his reasoning might be – lay out important concepts for reading both the Tarot and the Lenormand. Using the Anima Mundi as a guide, he discusses the elements, patterns of numbers and cards, and how astrology fits into all of this. Yes – you might be forgiven for skipping over this chapter, but I will guarantee that you will return to it before you are done with this book. There is a lot to digest here. But it is a necessary step in understanding.

Near the end of the chapter, he asserts, “Once you start looking, you begin to see these symbolic patterns everywhere” (Dunn, 55) – which is certainly true. He writes that the Tarot was no more than a “popular card game with evocatively decorated cards” (Dunn, 55) until the “magicians of the eighteenth-century occult revival” happened to notice the patterns of symbols embedded within the cards and rightly suspected that these cards were “something more” than a card game. (Dunn, 55)

Dunn writes that he doesn’t quite believe that the Tarot was designed to be anything more than a popular card game – but the Anima Mundi is “always whispering” to us. But he admits that it “doesn’t matter” (Dunn, 55) – what matters is how we view the symbols on the cards and how we use them for divination.

Therefore, the next chapter is all about the symbolic structure of the Major Arcana. He writes about how most of us “use the book” when we are doing any kind of divination – especially the “Little White Book” that comes with every set of Tarot, Oracle and Lenormand cards – but he says to look at the symbolism of the card and read it accordingly. (Dunn, 59) This, of course, is what many other Tarot scholars say – most notably Mary K. Greer, Angeles Arrien and Rachel Pollack. He points to the relationships between the cards and prompts us to read them in terms of their energy – Cardinal, Mutable or Fixed – and their Element – Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These designations also belong to the world of Astrology, so he connects the Tarot to that divinatory system. Again – none of this is new when it comes to reading the Tarot. But I really like the way he arranges his thoughts – putting together the cardinal cards, for instance – The Emperor, The Chariot, Justice and The Devil – and looking at the relationships between these cards. (Dunn, 63) He repeats this with the mutable cards and the fixed cards. I had never thought of this before and I am still meditating on this concept.

The next two chapters are about getting ready to read the cards and preparing “to tell a story”. I personally think that these two chapters could be one.

After that, he presents a chapter entitled “Some Tarot Spreads”. I have to say that this must be the first time I have ever read anything about the Tarot that does not mention The Celtic Cross. Perhaps he thought that the reader of this book would already be acquainted with The Celtic Cross, so there was no need to talk about it. Or perhaps the way a person reads The Celtic Cross – a card on each position and read as such – didn’t fit into Dunn’s theory of card “relationships”. Of course you can read the Celtic Cross in both ways and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the way to do it – that’s how you get the most of the reading.

He writes about a method of reading that he terms a “reading procedure”. (Dunn, 100) He says that the difference between a procedure and a spread is that with procedures, there is no “layout or set meaning to card positions”. (Dunn, 100) He says that after focusing on your question and shuffling well, you pull the top card from the deck and set it to one side. This card is the “answer to your question, or the overall theme card”. (Dunn, 101) After you pull the “answer card”, you lay out the rest of the cards in three rows of seven cards each. The top row can be the past, the middle the present and the bottom row the future – or you could have the first row be the plot, the second row the characters and the third row the setting. Or you could read the rows in terms of mind, heart and body. It’s up to you.

The first card in every row is that row’s theme card. He writes, “Combine the theme card’s meaning with the overall theme card to get an overview.” (Dunn, 101) And then he writes, “Now it gets tricky” – because apparently you don’t read every card that has been laid out – just the ones pointed to by the theme cards and by using the chart he provides – you count from card to card – depending on what theme cards you have. This is the chart:

Ok, I thought. Sounds interesting. So I laid out my Major Arcana cards as he instructs, after shuffling and cutting and thinking about what was most pressing in my life right now – which is, as always, recovery. This is what I laid out:

As you can see, XIV Temperance is the overall theme card. I didn’t really have a question but that seemed to be a decent enough answer. I need a better sense of sobriety and balance in my life. However, combined with XII The Hanged Man, XI The Hermit and IV The Emperor, I would say that my sense of sobriety and balance is marked by a sense of waiting – for what? – and loneliness and rigidity. I definitely need to work on all these issues. And figure out what the hell I am waiting for.

Ok, so now I started counting from card to card using the chart in the book. I turned over the cards I wasn’t going to be reading.

Reading this as “Past, Present, Future”, I can see my early recovery in my past in both XII The Hanged Man and III The Empress – giving birth to my son and that long stretch of sobriety when he was a little guy. The present is how I am still reeling from the aftereffects of XVI The Tower – the divorces, the abusive relationships, the DWI’s, the descent back into active addiction and the struggle to get sober again. The future is XVII The Star – how lovely is that? For someone who is chronically depressed, that certainly gives me something to look forward to. All I have to do is keep working my program of recovery.

He writes about reading the cards that you “don’t read” – he says that they are not “irrelevant” – they offer information about the cards next to them. (Dunn, 102) So there is a lot more to this reading but I am not going to get into it now – there’s so much more to this book!

After discussing Tarot spreads, he moves onto spreads using Lenormand cards. The first thing he talks about are Signifiers. Usually the only Signifiers the beginner hears about is 28 Gentleman and 29 Lady for a man and a woman respectively. However, he lists quite a few signifiers, based on concepts. Given that every card has a keyword, each card could be a signifier for a question or an issue.

The first spread he discusses is the Grand Tableau, which he calls The Book of Life, a term never used in the Matthews book. I have to say that his explanation of reading the Grand Tableau is very straight-forward and easy to follow. But it’s much too involved of a spread to get into in an article like this one. Believe me when I say that it’s well worth the read.

He talks about other spreads – the Petit Tableau and one called the No Layout spread, which I found very interesting. You choose one or more signifiers and then you draw cards until the signifier appears. I tried this and found that it works better if you have more than one signifier. I thought about it as I was shuffling the cards and decided upon 29 Lady – for myself – and 5 Tree for my overall health – but specifically my mental health and recovery – and 22 Paths (Crossroads) for advice on where to go and what to do next. I ended up laying out the entire deck, since the 5 Tree card was the very last card to show! Since I was laying the cards out on my bed, I almost ran out of space!

I lined the cards up so that they “read” a little more easily. Although the diagonal pattern is real interesting, isn’t it?

Here is the 22 Paths card, which I had as a signifier for “advice” to help me achieve my dreams. I think its advice is clear – looking above the 22 Paths card, there is the 14 Fox card, which calls for hard work. Next to the 22 Paths card is the 18 Dog card, which tells me that nothing is achieved without the help of at least one good friend. On the other side is the 2 Clover card indicating that a good dose of luck is also necessary. And to the bottom are 12 Birds – as a writer, I can write all day long but if I don’t publish, all that writing is for naught. The birds are telling me to sing my song and feather my nest.

I read the 29 Lady card and the 5 Tree Card similarly – looking at the cards all around them to get an idea of what they were telling me. I also considered the diagonal cards. There’s a lot going on with this spread. Too much to write about here – but I am glad that I was introduced to it!

The following chapters are about the language and grammar of symbols, intuitive reading, the symbolic interaction between the Lenormand and the Tarot and something he calls “Synergy”, in which you use both decks of cards in one reading. The chapter entitled “Symbolic Interaction Between the Lenormand and the Tarot” is most informative. He points out where the images of the Lenormand show up on Tarot cards – for instance, O The Fool contains 18 The Dog, 21 Mountain and 31 Sun. III The Empress contains 29 The Lady, 24 The Heart, 5 The Tree and 9 The Flowers. He gives many more examples. He calls this concept of finding Lenormand images in the Tarot “Synergy”. (Dunn, 170-71)

The rest of the book deals with discussions about fortune-telling versus divination and DIY magic – how to scry a card and revising a reading – and two superlative appendixes. The appendixes alone are worth picking up and opening this book. In all – I would recommend this book to anyone interested in either the Lenormand or the Tarot or in divination in general. I plan on purchasing it myself – it’s probably going to be under my Yule tree this very year!

As for now – I have to get to the library – Cartomancy with the Lenormand and the Tarot is two weeks overdue!

*All photographs © polly macdavid

References

Dunn, Patrick. Cartomancy with the Lenormand and the Tarot: Create Meaning & Gain Insight from the Cards. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2013.

Cartomancy with the Lenormand and the Tarot: Create Meaning & Gain Insight from the Cards

Mathews, Caitlín. The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards. Rochester, VT: Destiny , 2014.

The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook: Reading the Language and Symbols of the Cards

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Book Review & Contest – In Focus Astrology: Your Personal Guide by Sasha Fenton

September, 2018

In Focus Astrology: Your Personal Guide

by Sasha Fenton

© 2018 Zambezi Publishing LTD

Publisher Wellfleet Press

an imprint of Quarto Group

**(Keep reading for a chance to win a Free copy of In Focus Astrology: Your Personal Guide by Sasha Fenton this month in PaganPagesOrg thanks to the Quarto Group)**

Ms. Fenton wrote a book that is in a straightforward way. I found it engaging and not boringly technical.

I’ve read three other books on astrology by other authors. But, Ms. Fenton’s book is one that gives you the real bare bones of what it takes for you to become an astrologer. Some of the chapters that she covers are, signs of the zodiac, the rising sign and the ascendant, the planets, predictive techniques, and easy miscellany.

In the chapter what constitutes astrology, she gives two different websites, for you to try out. I tried both of these on my phone, which is a Samsung Galaxy S9 +, on Verizon carrier. I had a problem getting both of these to work on my phone. My husband was born in a small town in Illinois that is the same as the town in England; it kept wanting to pick the city in England on both apps. I then tried them on my Kindle Fire and my Lenovo TV – X103F. On both of those, the apps worked perfectly. So, you may have a little bit of an issue every once in a while using the phone.

Ms. Fenton picked up seven different famous people to show their natal charts. Two of them are notorious British gangsters. They are in fact twins; she wanted to show the similarities and differences in astrology when it comes to twins. I have to say it was exciting to read this. The other people that she picked are like Jimi Hendrix (the musician), JFK, the President of the United States, Tom Hanks (the actor), and a couple of others. She picked these people and their natal charts for different demonstrations in how to bring the chart together.

The way Ms. Fenton has this laid out, it makes sense without being overly technical. And I have to say it made it an easy read, compared to some of the other books. So, if you’re looking for something that short, concise, and to the point, I would suggest starting with this book in learning your first steps to astrology. I found it very enjoyable.

 

**Now… For your chance to win a Free copy of In Focus Astrology: Your Personal Guide by Sasha Fenton this month through PaganPagesOrg, thanks to the Quarto Group, visit PaganPagesOrg Instagram hit follow, find the picture promoting the contest of In Focus Astrology: Your Personal Guide by Sasha Fenton posted and leave a comment! That’s all!! A winner will be randomly chosen on Monday September 17, 2018.  USA & Canada Only.

 

In Focus Astrology: Your Personal Guide

 

***

About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become a Reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are interested in a reading you can reach her at: Readings by Dawn on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/Readings-by-Dawn-1608860142735781/

Book Review & Contest- In Focus Crystals: Your Personal Guide by Bernice Cockram

September, 2018

In Focus Crystals: Your Personal Guide

by Bernice Cockram

published in 2018 by Wellfleet Press

An imprint of the Quarto Group

**(Keep reading for a chance to win a Free copy of In Focus Crystals: Your Personal Guide by Bernice Cockram this month in PaganPagesOrg.)**

Ms. Cockram has written a very informative book. There are 16 chapters spread out over 160 pages.

One of the first things that Ms. Cockram includes that I have not seen in a lot of other books that speak on Crystal energy is the Mohs scale. I like the fact that she added the Mohs scale because it allows you to see the hardness of specific crystals, and from there you can find out what the Mohs scale is for your crystals. Another graph Ms. Cockram includes in the first chapter is a Crystal colors and properties. You’ll find as you go through the book that this graph matches the crystals as she explains their energy.

From chapter 2 to chapter 12, there is a lot on Crystal healing, Crystal energy, Crystal grid work, and the chakras. In chapter 8, Ms. Cockram talks about the chakras systems in the crystals, I like all of the different crystal suggestion she gives for each chakra, and she even covers the minor chakras. I like the different crystal grids that she gives on pages 86, 87, 88, and 89. There are other grids that she talks about before that, but those are more well-recognized crystal grids.

In chapters 11 and 12, Ms. Cockram gives precise instructions on working on yourself with crystals and as well as others. One of the suggestions she offers that I think is neat and is excellent for larger groups, such as a yoga class. Have everyone write their name down on a piece of paper and take their place on the yoga mats. And then Ms. Cockram says to put all the names on the pile and surround the pile of names with crystals. I find this interesting because I often work in large groups doing healings, and this allows you to use crystals, without having to buy an exorbitant amount of crystals.

In chapter 13 Ms. Cockram starts covering divination with crystals. If you are beginning to study astrology or if you are looking for new ways to do divination this chapter holds some wonderful insights to help get you started. Not only does she give the astrology signs, but she also provides some crystals that would work well with the astrological signs, not just the birthstones.  Also, in chapter 13, Ms. Cockram covers using a magic square with crystals, from Feng Shui.

Ms. Cockram in later chapters covers meditating with crystals, working with intentions with crystals, correspondence of crystals, including numerology.

For only having 160 pages. Ms. Cockram packed a lot of information into this book. If you are starting on crystals, yourself, or you have a friend who’s just beginning their journey with crystals, this is a very informative book to own.

 

**Now… For your chance to win a Free copy of In Focus Crystals: Your Personal Guide by Bernice Cockram this month through PaganPagesOrg, thanks to the Quarto Group, visit PaganPagesOrg Instagram hit follow, find the picture promoting the contest of In Focus Crystals: Your Personal Guide by Bernice Cockram posted and leave a comment! That’s all!! A winner will be randomly chosen on Monday September 17, 2018. USA & Canada Only.

 

In Focus Crystals: Your Personal Guide

***

About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become a Reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are interested in a reading you can reach her at: Readings by Dawn on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/Readings-by-Dawn-1608860142735781/

Book Review – The Modern Witchcraft Book of Natural Magick: Your Guide to Crafting Charms, Rituals & Spells from the Natural World by Judy Ann Nock

September, 2018

Book Review

The Modern Witchcraft Book of Natural Magick: Your Guide to Crafting Charms, Rituals & Spells from the Natural World”

by Judy Ann Nock

Published by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Copyright June 2018

Pages: 240

This book is not intended to be another Wicca 101 book; rather think of it more along the lines of Witchcraft 3.0,” Wiccan High Priestess Judy Ann Nock wrote in her introduction.

Each of Its eleven chapters delves into a realm of nature magick including seed, air, sun and fire, the moon, Gaia, time and the cosmos.

The Realm of Water covers Wells of Emotion, Rivers and Oceans. Its 15 pages offer an introduction to water, a meditation, instructions for a ritual bath, a blessing spell and a spell for prosperity, along with directions for making herbal tinctures and an aromatherapy spray. All involve water in some way.

In Magic Takes Root: The Woodland Realm, Nock writes about nature being a powerful healer and the importance of staying connected to it, saying, “A simple ritual of walking in the woods, meditating outside of a building, or taking part in the currently popular trend of ‘forest bathing’ can calm the mind and bring about a state of peace.”

She offers a centering meditation done sitting at the base of a tree, and a ritual for creating a personal tree oracle – not to tell fortunes, but as a tool to “communicate with the elements of natural magic.” The ritual, the lore and the charm all work with the sacredness of trees, with reminders of our connectedness to the seasons and rhythms of the Mother, and our responsibility to be stewards of the earth.

Readers will be inspired to draw on the powers found in nature when doing magick, thanks to the variety of meditations, rituals, spells and charms. There’s a recipe for consecrated crescent cakes to have for the ritual of calling down the moon, a solar charm for strength, and instructions for preparing a candle for magick.

Some tables are scattered throughout the book with such information as healing herbs, planetary correspondences and spirit animals.

As promised, this book can help deepen a connection to natural magick and offer inspiration beyond the basics. While it wouldn’t be in my top 10 list of favorite magic books, it would make a useful addition the collection of an intermediate practitioner.

Nock is the founder of a goddess spirituality group and the author of “A Witch’s Grimoire.” She lives in New York City.

The Modern Witchcraft Book of Natural Magick: Your Guide to Crafting Charms, Rituals, and Spells from the Natural World

 

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

Book Review: The Bed by Laura Perry

August, 2018

Book Review

The Bed

By Laura Perry

 

Having ready and enjoyed Laura Perry’s non-fiction work, I was excited by the thought of a novel by the same accomplished writer. However, I had no idea what to expect. What took me by surprise were delightfully real characters, a magical story full of occult surrealism and a page turner that I literally couldn’t put down. I’ll try to avoid spoilers as I review this great piece of ‘witch lit’, as I really want you all to go and read it for yourselves!

Relatable

The first thing that struck me was how relatable Laura’s characters are. The dysfunctional family. The best friend who isn’t always in tune with what you need. But who ultimately comes through. The overbearing paramour. Or hopeful paramour, anyway! The flawed parents, and ethically dubious lecturers. No one is perfect in this drama, not even the protagonist, and I love that. ‘Warts and all’ is the best way to portray humans, and I find I have much more empathy with a character who makes mistakes and battles demons of self-doubt as well as other realms, than one who sails through life as a paragon of justice.

Occult

Unsurprisingly for a seasoned academic of Minoan mysteries and other occult studies, Laura weaves a great deal of occult references throughout The Bed. There are references to Crowley, ceremonial magic, angels (but not the type you’d find on top of a festive tree) and grimoires galore. The protagonist ends up with more than she bargained for when she purchases some antique furniture, and the book follows her unwitting introduction to the world of magic and the beings that it attracts, plus her mission to free a cursed soul.

I adore the fact that the temptation of higher power through magical ritual is dealt with, and the inherent dangers. Too often we see magic either demonised or romanticised. This novel is much more realistic; yes, magic is real and can help you and others, but it is dangerous! Heed the warnings or get hurt. Fantastic stuff.

Romance

I’ve heard ‘Witch Lit’ described as ‘Chick lit but with magic’, and to be honest, I think that’s a bit of a disservice. Romance is one factor in the story, but one thread among many, weaning a delicate but bright embroidery where every stitch is vital. The romance in this book veers from possibly the most high handed, arrogant wannabe to what I can only describe as (without spoilers) pretty much the exact opposite. Talk about low maintenance… that’s all I’m saying!

In summary, a fine work of fiction and sure to appeal to any who love a good mystery story, a dash of romance and a healthy dose of magic. Even though the story wraps up neatly, I’d love to read more about Liz (love her real name!) and her friends and family, as the way they interacted and dealt with the obstacles thrown up was totally compelling. Five stars, recommended.

The Bed

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

Book Review: Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice by Candice Covington

July, 2018

Book Review

Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice:

Working with the Chakras, Divine Archetypes, and the Five Great Elements

by Candice Covington

This book has a decidedly Eastern, rather than Western Hermetic approach to the use of Essential Oils, herbs and the elemental correspondences. In fact, the page opposite the title page is a full color and beautifully rendered graphic of the shapes and colors of the Five Tattwas, the Eastern cousins of the traditional alchemical elements that are used in most pagan magical practice.

The Forward sets the tone for Candice’s work and is written by Sheila Patel, M.D. and medical Director of the (Deepak) Chopra Center. Despite what appears to be not very well aligned with traditional pagan practice, this book is a definite keeper for anyone wishing to broaden their knowledge of adding the layers of subtle anatomy, Divine archetypes and vibration in the form of numerology and color consideration in selecting essential oils for mundane and magickal pursuits.

The book is neatly separated into major chunks of information with Part One taking the reader through the basics of Theory and education about the Tattvic elements, Divine Archetypes, Chakras and concluding with a chapter on manifestation and consciousness. This lays a very well-thought out foundation before discussion of what essential oils are and how they may be used comes into play. This approach also affirms the interwoven energies of these areas of consideration and their usefulness in fine-tuning what and how you will use the oils.

Part Two gives a complete picture of how essential oils may be integrated as part of daily practice as well as an alphabetical listing of some more commonly used oils, their properties and a host of correspondence categories aligning with the information provided in Part 1.

I especially liked Part Three and the way in which the author engaged the reader in exercises and quizzes, all weaving back to reinforcing self-study and self-reflection as paramount deciders in the work you choose for your essential oils. Healing is prominently highlighted and deepening your own experiences with meditation as you allow the energy to flow in accord with what your intention is in choosing an essential oil for this journey.

All in all, I would say this is definitely worth a look regardless of your spiritual path or preferences. Having different tools in your kit ensures that you are adequately prepared and informed for any task.

Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice: Working with the Chakras, Divine Archetypes, and the Five Great Elements

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Book & CD Review – In The Light of Meditation by Mike George

July, 2018

Book & CD Review – In The Light of Meditation by Mike George

In Short: Helpful meditation primer – yes; authentic vedantic teaching – no.

Meditation was first introduced to the West from the yogic traditions of India. Even before The Beatles courted the teachings of Indian gurus, vedic philosophy had been brought to the Europe and America by Theosophists in the mid-19th century and yogis such as Paramahamsa Yogananda promoted vedic meditational practices (in the form of Kriya yoga) to westerners in the 1920s. However, a look at most literature on meditation today will reveal a strong dominance of a Buddhist or indeed a secular approach. Especially Eastern Buddhist traditions, with their focus on mindfulness meditation, are appropriately secular minded for the western audience. The de-emphasis on metaphysical doctrines such as reincarnation and karma allowed chan / zen traditions especially to be readily digestible in the West, so when scientific data started coming in on the benefits of meditation, the appetite for self-improvement boosted mindfulness meditation in particular to the status of a “mental workout”. As more scientific data has accumulated, over the last thirty years it has become the physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of meditation practice that have become the reason to meditate. Even Buddhist journals such as Tricycle wax heavily on the neurological benefits of meditation and on secular Buddhism.

None of this is a bad thing, but it is what makes In The Light of Meditation stand out of the landscape. It teaches meditative practice from the yogic tradition of India. The secular is absent, spiritual development is central to the agenda and explicit in the teaching. The meditation taught by the book is from the Raja yoga tradition. The purpose of Raja yoga is to become aware of one’s spiritual nature and one’s connection with the divine (however one understands that for themselves), learning to recognize the divine flame within us.

So be warned – if you feel slightly allergic to chapters titled “Knowing and Understanding God”, “The Soul World”, and “Where do we go after death”, then this book will not be for you. While the book explains metaphysical concepts such as reincarnation and the workings of karma, it tries not to be necessarily religiously aligned and I don’t believe the exercises contained will necessarily contradict any other religious observances you might have. Rather than advocating offerings to any specific deity, the author has made an effort to couch the lessons with the Westerner in mind and direct the reader’s attention to the Divine, the language used sometimes even comes off as Christian.

In the Light of Meditation is designed to be a full 10-week meditation course in a book. I think this is well thought-out, since it is an appropriate amount of time to start noticing the benefits of a mind-body practice (it takes at least a month to make the relevant synaptic connections). Each chapter is an individual lesson designed to be read (and re-read) and digested over the course of the week. The meditation sessions start off gently at 10 minutes long, which is about the length that I started my meditation with, with instructional guides for you to read over before and while following them or preferably following on the supplied CD. Similar to many workbooks, additionally each chapter also has an FAQ, an encouraging personal experience testimonial, and various exercises such as visualization, ritual, or journaling prompts to help you integrate and reflect on your learning and to ground the meditating work in you life and psyche.

Something I found unique in the book was an email address provided for assistance for the beginner meditator. This address is staffed not by the author only, but by a number of experienced meditators at the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, with which the author Mike George is associated with. While I did not “test” the email contact myself, this seems like it could be an invaluable asset for the beginner who cannot get meditation teaching in person.

Overall the production value of the book is high. It is beautifully designed, every page has the detail and charm of small illustrations or patterns, while the layout is kept streamlined and readable, not too broken up like many educational or coffee table books. Some books lend themselves well for summarizing with bullet points and notes in the margins. I am a big fan of the free public library for this reason – browsing through books, writing notes down to reflect upon later. This book is not so amenable to this approach though. The narrative nature of the writing and instructions don’t lend themselves well for quick notes to be practiced later; the design of a self-study course requires you to follow along over time. That said, for a workbook – and it is assuredly a workbook – it has an eminently readable flow and even comes with a CD with 15 tracks of commentary and guided meditation.

The book is not without its problems, however. As I mentioned above, the author is affiliated with the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. This is not Raja yoga from a traditional lineage. The yoga practices taught are based on the teachings of Dada Lekhraj Kripalani (1876-1969), a diamond merchant turned guru who founded the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University in the 1930s. Some of the teachings of the organization definitely contradict standard vedantic teachings. Their profound misunderstanding of the yugas (vedic ‘ages’) as only 5,000 years long and each cycle repeating the last exactly, seems to be at the root of such mistakes as making specific predictions of apocalypse, predicting that Sri Krishna will incarnate onto Earth around the year 2036, or a vague skepticism of dinosaurs. After all, if history does not just repeat itself, but repeats exactly, and it is comprised of four ages 5,000 years long, how on earth does a Jurassic Period make sense? These claims are not made in the book, but they are why the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University is on CenSAMM’s (Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements) list of Millenarian and Apocalyptic Movements. The Brahma Kumaris also have a troubling belief in revealed truth, wherein the teachings of the founder Dada Lekhraj Kripalani were the direct words of the Divine. All of these are red flags to me. On the other hand, the organization has been a very positive influence on the position of women in India, with many women in top leadership roles. And the meditation instructions in the book seem worthwhile to me.

Nonetheless, I think the book is designed well. I think ten weeks spent on this book will generally be a good way to find a spiritual focus in life and in your meditation practice as well. However, just follow it with common sense and know that not all the teachings are traditional Raja yoga. Don’t stop questioning; find that is worthwhile and discard the rest.

In the Light of Meditation: A Guide to Meditation and Spiritual Development, with CD

Book Review: We Are Magical Beings by Paola Collazos, LMT

July, 2018

Book Review

We Are Magical Beings: A Healing Guide for Earthlings

by Paola Collazos, LMT

We Are Magical Beings is a book written by Paola Collazos, LMT. It is published by Balboa Press, a division of Hay House. Paola Collazos is a Reiki master, energy medicine practitioner, a licensed massage therapist and now, a published author.

We Are Magical Beings takes us on a magical journey. First through Paola’s life and then through the journey of energy work.

While this book is not an autobiography, we get a glimpse into Paola’s life starting with her childhood. We see how situations and experiences can shape a person and affect, not only their life, but also, their energy. This made me rethink my life, the situations, and experiences that I have been through. I can see how life has shaped me into the being that I am today. But I am a magical being, that can change the energy that is going on in my life.

The body is a wise self-healing structure”. We Are Magical Beings goes over numerous different areas of energy work. Paola not only explains the different areas of energy work but she goes into detail on how you can incorporate these practices into your daily life. Some of these areas of energy work are chakras, meridians, auras, yin and yang, along with the elements.

Paola explains why it is so important to treat our bodies like a temple and to keep our thoughts pure. “I am talking about the wars that exist within our minds, the ones that some fight with every day in order to get by with ease”. This statement helped me realize that I am not the only one who battles with their thoughts. It also makes me (and anyone who reads this book) realize that we can change this mindset!

Paola is able to explain how the body and energy work together. She explains this not only in Yin and Yang but also in the meridians and the elements. It’s amazing to read how these energy systems control the different areas of the body. She also explains how we can use our thoughts and yoga poses to put these areas back into balance.

One of my favorite chapters talks about the perfection that comes with imperfection. I have dealt with anxiety my whole life. I have always been a perfectionist and when I cannot reach it, I suffer mentally. I was amazed to see that the imperfections in my life are truly perfection. “Believe in yourself, have fun, and don’t be so hard on yourself”. This statement has helped me release some of the anxiety. For once, I am able to live without worrying about being perfect.

I shared this book with my skeptical mom. By the end of the book, she was asking for more reading material on this subject. Not only did this book help her see a new way of living but she has been able to incorporate energy work into her daily life. Her health has been improving and I truly believe that “We Are Magical Beings” started it all.

I would encourage anyone who is curious about energy work to pick up this book. Give it a read, practice the exercises and incorporate the energy work into your daily life.

We Are Magical Beings: A Healing Guide for Earthlings

Book Review: The Smudging and Blessing Book – Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal by Jane Alexander

July, 2018

Book Review

The Smudging and Blessing Book

Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal

by Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander has written a good introductory book for those interested in exploring the basics of working with Spirit on the physical plane. In this accessible little manual, she weaves the concepts of working with the energies of physical allies like planets, crystals and essential oils, meeting and working with spirit energies like the Guardians of the Directions, the elements and totem animals and cleansing and blessing your physical spaces, events and ceremonies.

Alexander starts with the basics: becoming aware of subtle energies in your body and in your physical environment. As she points out, smudging can clear away “spiritual garbage.” It is important to remember that it is not just the physical act of lighting the smudge, though, that creates the cleansing effect and invites in blessing. Intention and reverence are key aspects of all the ceremonies and rituals that she describes. When we light a flame to burn the smudge, we ask the spirit of Fire to transform and transmute that which does not serve us. By lighting the flame, we signal to Spirit that something important is happening here and we ask for assistance. There are many aspects to a “simple” smudging that we begin to sense the more we work with the rituals as Alexander describes them. Her book is a doorway in to this deeper sensing and partnership with plants, crystals and Spirit!

One of the true gifts of this book is the reminder of the many opportunities in our daily lives to work with Spirit to cleanse and bless. Focusing on our homes, Alexander invites us to bless our new homes and to speak to the spirit of your old home as you move into a new. She reminds us to cleanse sick rooms and spaces in which arguments have occurred. She describes one method for shielding your home and a ritual for consecrating your bedroom as a space for rest and retreat. I would add to her suggestions, remove the television or laptop!!

Alexander invites us to work energetically with family occasions: births, birthdays, deaths, divorce and even setting the subtle stage before a party! She reminds us to reclaim the turning points of the wheel of the year, as we release the lessons of the departing season and create intentions for the incoming seasonal energy. We can mark these turnings with our families, too, creating rituals that connect our children with their lineages and traditions! And most importantly, Alexander encourages us to remember our energetic connections to Spirit on a daily basis – on waking up and greeting the day, bathing, and at bedtime. We can invoke our energetic protections and boundaries when leaving the house, traveling and for most human activity.

Alexander provides suggestions for herbs, crystals and essential oils for specific cleansing and blessing uses. If you have ever wanted to learn to make your own smudge stick, she gives detailed instructions. This is a useful and practical book, especially for a child or teenager interested in starting to work with subtle energies in the physical realm.

The Smudging and Blessings Book: Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal

***

About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com

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