book review

Book Review – Italian Folk Magic: Rue’s Kitchen Witchery by Mary- Grace Fahrun

February, 2019

Book Review
Italian Folk Magic: Rue’s Kitchen Witchery”
by Mary-Grace Fahrun
Publisher: Weiser
Published: Paperback, 2018
Pages: 122
Published: Paperback, 2018

I am of Sicilian descent, as well as German, so I was drawn to this book to learn more about the practices of the country from which my mother’s parents came.

By recording oral history, Mary-Grace Fahrun shares what she learned about customs and traditions from the matriarchs of her family. It started by collecting recipes and folk remedies. They came with stories, superstitions, incantations and prayers. She began Rue’s Kitchen to preserve these customs and practices as well as those of Italians of all faiths all over the world.

Religious rituals, magical spells, blessings, folk medicine and cooking are all “inextricably woven into the fabric of Italian culture – no matter where Italians are geographically located,” and Fahrun, who presents them woven together like a tapestry and a way of living.

“I was taught everything in Italian,” wrote Fahrun, who is fluent in Italian and about a half dozen of its dialects. The book is her guided tour through her magical life, presenting the principles so the reader can create their own magical life. Italian witchcraft “is not a religion. It is a practice anyone can incorporate into their spirituality regardless of religious belief,” she states, but adds, “There will be strong themes of devotions to saints and earth-based spirituality because they are both important to the fabric.”

The first chapter focuses on the kitchen, the most important and sacred room of the house. Here, every element is present. Herbs are magical, and magical tools are the same utensils, dishes and cookware used to prepare meals. You’ll learn how to clean, set up and treat your kitchen like the temple it is.

Other chapters deal with sacred spaces and home altars, and the magic in food. When addressing magic or medicine, there are a variety approaches for conditions that range from mental and spiritual intervention to the red ribbon and incantation used to relieve headaches and the ointment made of garlic paste and olive oil to apply to skin infections.

A page explains what she calls the most powerful incantation: “non è niente” or “it is nothing.” I remember my grandmother telling me that and thinking, “Well of course it’s something. I’m hurt.” But Fahrun, who is a nurse, found those three magic words healed even chronic wounds when said with “a detached, almost dismissive, attitude.”

There are recipes for days of the week and months of the year, explanations of proverbs and superstitions, and chapters that delve into amulets, divination, spells and charms, rituals and curses.

I came to better understand the meaning of things my grandmother and “the Italian aunts from Hartford” did. It’s inspired me to learn more about my grandparents’ hometowns – legends, patron saints, customs, history, etc. – from research and from two relatives who have visited.

The book’s cover design by Jim Warner also deserves a mention. It honors the book’s contents with the hand from the cimaruta, the cornicello (the red horn amulet or talisman worn to protect against the evil eye) and the hand gesture to ward off evil on ribbons wound through a garlic braid studded with blooming rue.

If you are Italian, or drawn to the culture, this book makes a wonderful entry point.

Italian Folk Magic: Rue’s Kitchen Witchery on Amazon

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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 – Stones of the Goddess: Crystals for the Divine Feminine by Nicholas Pearson

January, 2019

Book Review

Stones of the Goddess

Crystals for the Divine Feminine

by Nicholas Pearson

Author, Nicholas Pearson’s book offers a jam-packed volume of wisdom about crystal lore and usage through the lens of Goddess study and devotion. Looking at the Notes (Bibliography) section at the back of the book confirms the extensive research and credible resources used in compiling this book and providing relevant and cohesive information.

Mr. Pearson states in the Introduction…

“ The inspiration behind Stones of the Goddess began with my desire to deepen my connection to the tides of life, magick, and mystery that keep the cosmos in order.”

I would echo that by saying that this book will most definitely achieve that and inform about the crystal kingdom as well. The interweaving of the sacred Feminine and the Sacred Earth domain are beautifully represented in a way that is both user friendly and clear in its intention.

Part One begins with the basics of crystals, their use and the more commonly selected ones. Everything is covered from soup to nuts; cleansing, storing, selecting and attuning and programming to name a few. This serves as an excellent primer for anyone who wishes to use crystals in a more specific way. This section is filled with photos, which is a great way of use for identification of crystals and building your own visual crystal encyclopedia.

Part Two, entitled Meeting the Goddess, moves into the stories and energies of the Goddess and application of Goddess energy. The myths and worship within a matriarchal society are brought to life and the resurgence of the Divine Feminine in all of Her forms completes the first stirrings of connection to what is ancient and organic in nature.

Part Three, Crystals for the Divine Feminine, brings the information of crystal use and the Herstory of the Goddess together seamlessly as a variety of stones are presented. From the start, the Compendium of Crystals takes a look at crystals bringing multiple correspondences into play; magickal uses, the astrological signature, element, Goddess archetype and formation process. The description of each crystal is complete and diverse in its presentation.

Completing the book, the Table of provides even more info for a quick selection list broken down into Goddess-Elemental-Planetary and Zodiacal.All of your favorites are there, as well as some less common crystals that deserve a closer look.

My only negative note about this title is that it won’t be released until February 19.2019. Have mine on pre-order and can’t wait!

Click HERE or Book Cover for Amazon Info

***

About the Author:

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

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

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 Review – Working Conjure: A Guide to Hoodoo Folk Magic by Hoodoo Sen Moise

January, 2019

Book Review

Working Conjure

A Guide to Hoodoo Folk Magic

By Hoodoo Sen Moise

Due to the fact that, in all honesty, I say I know absolutely nothing about Hoodoo, I was pleased to see that the first chapter was entitled, “What is Conjure/Hoodoo?”

The author explains the when, where, how and proceeds to tell us of Hoodoo’s principles in chapter 2.

I love the explanation of how

“Conjure was birthed out of a need to overcome the

oppression of slavery. It was a way for the slaves

to turn the tide against the slave masters and take back,

at least in some way, what had been taken from them.”

He speaks lovingly about the ancestors, those who came before and laid the foundation for all that has followed.

There are a few chapters that discuss roots, plants and animals and how each have their own spirit. He discusses the “spirit of a place”, with a whole chapter on conjuring in graveyards.

“Conjure is not a religion, but a tradition of work that

holds strong ties with the Spirits, of the Root, God

and the Ancestors.”

There, too, were many quotes from the Bible that fit with this work.

Included are many recipes for oils, powders, workings, and mojo hands.

Hoodoo Sen Moise has written an informative, warm, loving book. His respect and devotion comes through in every word. If Conjure is something you have always wanted to learn about, this is the book to get you started.

Working Conjure: A Guide to Hoodoo Folk Magic on Amazon

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About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

My Name is Isis on Amazon

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.

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