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Book Review: The Witch’s Altar The Craft, Lore and Magick of Sacred Space By Laura Tempest Zackroff and Jason Mankey

December, 2018

Book Review:

The Witch’s Altar

The Craft, Lore and Magick of Sacred Space

By Laura Tempest Zackroff and Jason Mankey

As someone with many altars strewn about my home, I was happy to have the opportunity to read this book.

Whether for a beginner or someone with many year’s experience with Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism, this book will help you in setting up, designing and maintaining your altars.

Just perusing the Table of Contents makes you aware that the two authors know exactly what they are talking about, as they have many years of wisdom and knowledge both individually and collectively.

It is a very reader-friendly book, conversational and easy-to-read with much information packed between its covers.

The book starts by relating different kinds of altars, i.e. shrines, temples, sanctuaries, etc., with descriptions for each.

The history of altars is here beginning with those first caves and stones, what they contain(ed) and how altars became one of the magical tools most relied upon.

All of the details are present from what an altar is, what it is for and how to build one. Since there are various reasons to build one, the authors discuss the specifics, such as what activity you will be using it for, such as devotion, ritual, spell-work. This includes tips on deciding where to build it, keeping in mind what you are looking to do.

Specific altars are always reviewed, such as, daily and seasonal altars, as well as outdoor altars and devotional altar dedicated to specific diety(ies).

One of the things I liked most about this book was how each author readily shared personal experiences with the reader.

Of specific interest was the section regarding altars for the dead and ancestral altars, something I have not read much about in other books. The information was fascinating and propelled me to make my own ancestral altar.

For those of you who travel, locally and abroad, there is a section on travel altars, whether to set up at a hotel, or to have with you on a daily basis in your own personal vehicle. This includes digital altars, a concept I would never have even considered.

Some of the topics had me thinking “oh, yes, I had not thought of that”, such as dealing with our animal companions climbing all over our altars, other people who feel the need to touch, and how to dispose of altar items that are no longer needed/wanted.

This highly informative book is also interspersed with recipes both magickal and mundane, include spellwork, prayers, chants, blessings.

At the end of each chapter is a section called “Altar-natives”, which features witchy friends of the authors adding their wisdom; in fact, giving us ideas from numerous people. A nice touch.

Allowing for the disclaimer that I personally know Tempest, I would like to say that I highly recommend this book – friendly, informative, enjoyable.

The Witch’s Altar: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Sacred Space (The Witch’s Tools Series) 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 (Volume 4) on Amazon

Interview with Astrid Brown: A Psychic Affair

July, 2018

Astrid Brown: A Psychic Affair

Astrid Brown is a medium, a psychic, and an incredibly prolific author. Her most recent offering, A Psychic Affair, blends the mysteries of psychic development with the romance genre, exploring how long-distance relationships can develop not only through the words and messages we send, but through a true, psychic connection. The story is interwoven with poetry and descriptions of how certain aspects of psychic development work, creating something Astrid describes as a ‘hybrid’; a cross-genre concept that will appeal to romance fans and students of the psychic world alike.

Astrid was kind enough to give us some of her time, and here’s what she had to say to PaganPagesOrg.

Mabh Savage: What was the inspiration for the book, A Psychic Affair?

Astrid Brown: I was writing a psychic development book at the time, and I created a website to explain psychic phenomena as I found myself having to explain how we work, and how clients can help themselves. I still add to this site/blog: http://www.astridestella.info . So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be an idea to write a novel about a medium, and explain psychic phenomena at the same time?’

I had endless problems with publishers as they don’t like hybrids, but want one genre, and not a cross genre as this one is.

MS: What led this decision to craft the book as a hybrid between an educational volume on psychic development, and a romance?

AB: I wanted to write a novel but felt I had to explain how mediums work, and explain the phenomena; after all, ‘Maryann’ and ‘Annie’ are mediums

MS: Was the book based on events in your own life at all?

AB: I have used my life experiences to write the book. I was a lecturer (I no longer do this) focusing on writing and doing readings. Of course I am a medium, so I made ‘Maryann’ one. Some of the characters are based on people I’ve met in my life.

MS: Who would you say the book is aimed at?

AB: I would say its aimed at people who are interested in the paranormal and psychics, and readers who are open minded.

MS: You’ve written thirty books or so in the last ten years. How do you find the time, and how do you balance writing with your day to day life?

AB: I make the time for I love writing. Often the best time for me to write is the early hours of the morning. I get tremendous links with spirit at this time, and they encourage and influence my work. It’s not a job to me; it’s a pleasure. for there is no point in writing if you don’t enjoy it. Lastly, I want to let people know how amazing the Universe and spirit are.

MS: What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?

AB: Don’t give up. You will get many rejections; JK Rowling had 20 rejections from publishers before she had Harry Potter accepted. Your first books may not be that good but keep at it and you will improve. What is important though is spelling and grammar and don’t rely on Spell Check it makes mistakes. Everything happens at the right time and no experience is ever wasted.

MS: How long have you worked with developing your psychic abilities?

AB: All of my life.

MS: When did you first discover your psychic abilities, or your ability to work with spirit?

AB: From birth. I think my earliest memories of psychic phenomena were when I was a baby, and as I was growing up, I played with spirit children, so it developed from then. I was giving readings when I was school age. I might also say my grandmother who lived with us was a medium in the Spiritualist Church.

MS: What’s the most beneficial thing you find about your psychic talents and awareness?

AB: Helping others and bringing them comfort and reassurance, especially if they are bereaved.

MS: And what’s the most challenging?

AB: Explaining to people I am not a fortune teller but a Medium. I cannot conjure up specific loved ones from the other side. If they have a message they will come forward. I am also restricted by divine timing in that there is no concept of time in the spirit realms, so I don’t always get specific dates. Sometimes it’s not possible to do a reading on someone; they maybe inadvertently blocking me and they need to be relaxed. Sometimes spirit will come forward and they will not recognise who it is and for to continue the reading I need them to accept, or be open minded so I can continue the link.

MS: Was it a natural development to move from nursing into holistic therapies?

AB: I began moving to holistic therapies when I had my own children. They were my guinea pigs, but it was actually a very small homeopathic book I came across in the supermarket one day. I bought it, I don’t know why, I guess I was directed by spirit and I was fascinated by it, I wanted to know more and more. This led onto other energy systems of healing such as Bach Flower Remedies and Aromatherapy, so I studied and trained in aromatherapy and reflexology, therapeutic massage, Indian head massage, and crystal therapy. When I attended parapsychology college to improve my mediumship I studied spiritual healing. Then I decided to train as a beauty therapist to gain more clients, eventually becoming a college lecturer, teaching anatomy and physiology, and beauty therapy. I also introduced holistic therapies to the college and trained many students who now work in spas around the world.

MS: Without spoiling the story for prospective readers, the way it ends suggests there may be more to come. Will there be another book for Maryann and John?

AB: This was my intention, to write another, as I left an opening at the end of the book. If the book sells, well I will write another about Maryann and John.

MS: And are you working on any other novels at the moment?

AB: I’m always writing something, I am currently writing something completely different from my normal genre at the moment and a collection of short stories. I write poetry all the time, much of which is channelled from spirit, so it comes in very fast to me, often writing a poem in 2 minutes. Whilst I am writing I am not aware of what my fingers are typing. I do my best psychic readings this way either on messenger or emails.

Thanks for talking to us! Astrid can be found at her website: http://www.astridestella.info where there is a wealth of information about holistic wellbeing and mediumship.

She is also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.Astrid.Brown/ and Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/astrid_brown (U.S.A.)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00AIOQR2I (UK)

 

A Psychic Affair

 

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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 – Wicca, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need by Leanna Greenaway

April, 2018

The cover states that the book is plain and simple and, also, the only book you’ll ever need. The forward of the book was written by Judika Illes, who is, also, an author and I quite liked it. The first chapter informs the reader about Witches and magic. She touches on the different types of Witches like Hedge, Traditional, Gardnerian, etc. It’s nice because she just does a quick little description of each, but it’s enough to give the reader a good idea of the differences between them. After that, she mentions Covens and how they were formed when Wiccans were persecuted so they had to worship in secret. Then she gets into Angelic Wicca right at the end and how she has personally chosen to follow the Angelic Wiccan path. It’s a great first chapter considering all that she mentions, but it doesn’t seem overwhelming at any point.

Chapter two breaks down Wicca and positive thoughts. “Life is like a big classroom. With each day, we learn and encounter new experience, and although at times the problems we face are hard, by going through the processes, we climb that spiritual ladder and evolve to a higher plane.” Has got to be my favourite quote from the book. It resonated to me as someone who has survived a lot of abuse and it made me feel like maybe my next life may be better due to the struggles I’ve already endured. She ends the chapter after going over some “Wiccan Ground Rules”

As with almost all Wiccan books, there is a chapter about Tools. That’s chapter 3 here. She gives a good list of typical items, touches on colour significance in the candle section and briefly talks about all the things you should have on your altar. This book lives up to its claim of being plain and simple, but in a good way. The way she just touches the tip of everything would make it a great book for a beginner.

Lunar magic is next. I think lunar magic should also be a pretty standard topic in Wicca, as a lot of what we do is based on the moon cycle. “The gravitational field of a full moon changes energy particles that reach the earth, influencing the way that we think and feel by changing the functions of our brain”. She informs the reader about the various cycles and the importance of each.

Chapter 5 is a very short chapter about initiation, specifically self-dedication and initiation, with just a few steps. The following chapter is about growing your own garden, the benefits of that and some ideas on which plants to grow and why. It’s one of the longer chapters of the book, and for good reason. She writes about what would be good for teas, tonics and superstitions, but again, in a user-friendly way with nothing being too complicated.

Chapter seven delves into animal magic. It’s another very short chapter that doesn’t get into much. I would have liked this section to be a bit better as half of the chapter is a personal story that is nice, but considering how much space if takes up, there isn’t a lot on animal magic itself. The tarot magic chapter is next, and that one is much better, with a lot of good information in a short amount of space and she writes about how “all tarot cards hold a magic of their own, and they can all help to bring about a positive result to your spells.”

I really liked chapters nine and ten. Chapter nine is about magnetic magic and chapter 10 is about the power of the pendulum. I, personally, use a pendulum all the time to help me with tough decisions and she suggested a great way to use a dictionary to help with divination, and the way she talks about the healing powers of magnets, I think a lot of readers would like it. She touches on some basic spells as well, which they are plain and simple again, so beginners can feel like these are spells they can do easily.

The rest of the book is spells specifically. There are spells for love, health, wealth, prosperity, happy families, career and willpower. All of the spells are user-friendly, and don’t need much for supplies. I am a fan of casting a circle before doing certain types of magic, but the author suggests just sitting and asking for protection. I personally wouldn’t feel safe enough to perform some of these spells without a proper circle, but I’m sure a lot of people would be fine with it. I think once a person has had experience with darkness, they are a bit more cautious.

The book overall is only 127 pages, and so it really is “plain and simple”, but she touches on a lot of different topics in those few pages. I would recommend this book to anyone starting out, but not really to anyone that has been practicing Wicca for a while. I still took some information out of it, as I do every book and I was really happy with it. The book is a quick and easy read, and I know if I meet anyone who is interested in Wicca I would for sure tell them about this book. I, also, think I will be looking into more of Greenaways’ books as it seems like she knows what she is talking about, and I love that she doesn’t over-complicate anything. I am happy I had the opportunity to read this book and write a review for it.

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