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Book Review – Medicine Wheel Plain & Simple: An Introduction to Native American Astrology by Deborah Durbin

December, 2018

Book Review

Medicine Wheel Plain & Simple: An Introduction to Native American Astrology
by Deborah Durbin

 

I had a flashback to the 1980’s when I opened this book. I saw the system familiarized in Sun Bear and Wabun’s The Medicine Wheel: Earth Astrology, complete with correspondences to animal totems, plants, crystal and moon correspondences for each astrological sign. So, this book is “New Age;” don’t pick it up thinking that you will learn find a new (or rather, ancient) system of working with cosmic forces here. And you won’t gain any insight into the cultural astronomy or archeoastronomy of the indigenous people of the Americas – the mythic tales of the stars brought down to Earth and how those energies affect human affairs.

That said, you will have a fun tool for broad astrological divination by the equivalent of your sun sign to play with. Medicine Wheel Plain & Simple offers a different lens for examining personality types, strengths and weaknesses, than the zodiac wheel we are used to. Like Sun Bear and Wabun’s book before it, this book uses a Northern American perspective on a seasonal calendar: winter is cold, summer is hot. The calendar wheel is divided into seasonal quadrants with a “ruling” animal totem for each. The wheel is further divided into 12 signs, like the familiar astrological signs, but ruled by animal totems instead of constellations. So, if like me, you are born between April 20th and May 20th, I am a Beaver, member of the Turtle Clan, born under the Frogs Return moon in the Spring Season rule d by spirit-keeper Wabun – Eagle on the East of the Medicine Wheel. My sign is also associated with blue camas plant, the color blue and the mineral chrysocolla. There are many correspondences to investigate here! Interestingly, the description of a Beaver personality was reminiscent of my Taurus self: “slow, methodical, practical, reserved…easygoing and slow to anger, but once roused, they can have a fierce temper…” My compatibility with other signs is similar to my astrological compatibility – I am married to a Snake (Scorpio)!

Durbin has included a section on finding your personal animal totem. She discusses a shadow totem, one that terrifies you, that tests you and teaches you what you need to overcome. Interestingly, mine is Snake, the opposite of my Beaver totem, containing the qualities that Beaver most lacks. And being married to a Snake, I have learned a lot from our differences. She also includes a short section on working with predictive Medicine Wheel astrology by throwing pebbles or shells, noting where they land, and interpreting the energies and qualities of the quadrant and sign in that section of the wheel.

It’s unfortunate that the book purports to be “An Introduction to Native American Astrology.” There are so many beautiful star myths, tales and creation stories in the traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. And the ancient Mayans had a complex astrological and seasonal calendar. And to imply that all Native American cultures used a homogenous system is stereotyping of the worst sort. Medicine Wheel: Earth Astrology, the book on which this one appears to be based, sourced itself in earth-based cycles rather than representing a specific “Native American” system. Medicine Wheel Plain and Simple is a New Age overlay of North American animal, plant and seasonal symbolism on the common horoscope wheel. But it is fun to play with! If you didn’t come across Sun Bear and Wabun’s book in the 1980’s, this one’s worth a look!

Medicine Wheel Plain & Simple: The Only Book You’ll Ever Need on Amazon

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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

Open Channel Astrology: openchannelastrology.com

App Review: Simple Habit – Meditation for Busy People

May, 2018

App Review

Simple Habit – Meditation for Busy People

Once more into the world of meditation apps I wander! This time I’m exploring the benefits of Simple Habit, an app I’ve had for a while but only used very sporadically. Again, I started with the free version then looked to upgrade for more features. The app is normally about $6 a month for the full version, but you can invite friends to get limited time access to premium content, so I bugged my friends and family in order to get access to the good stuff. Just for you guys. Because I loves ya.

The interface is less showy than the other apps I’ve looked at. It’s a dark gray background, with ‘windows’ style blocks displaying the title of each meditation. It’s very easy to navigate, and the lack of ‘flashiness’ lends itself well to a tool that’s designed to be calming and soothing. There’s a search function that allows you to look for key words. It even suggests things you may be looking for help with, such as ‘stress’ or ‘sleep’.

On the home page, there’s a larger block that simply says, ‘Play Next’, which shows the next meditation that’s either been recommended or lined up based on what you’ve already listened to. Clicking on this today opens ‘Simple Habit Starter’. The block disappears, and the screen shows a podcast style interface with the round circle showing how much audio remains, a pause/play function and before you start, a friendly reminder to ‘Take a deep breath’. Again, the colors are very muted, there is no clutter on the screen. It’s as if the app has been designed specifically to avoid distracting you from examining the recesses of your mind, by being as unobtrusive as possible.

Simple Habit Starter’ is subtitled ‘Introducing Mindfulness’. Many of the meditations (possibly all, I haven’t listened to them all so can’t say for sure!) start with ‘You’re listening to Simple Habit; a daily vacation for your mind.’ What a nice idea, that meditation is taking your brain on a little break. Someone called Cory Muscara tells me to get comfy; either sit or lie down. Close my eyes if it feels comfortable. Give myself permission to be here; stopping can feel foreign. There’s nothing I need to achieve. I’m encouraged to focus on my breathing, and the short starter session is over before I know it, leaving me oddly refreshed and keen to explore the other features. Before I do anything else, I’m encouraged to aim for small meditation goals, like a 3 day streak.

What I particularly liked was once the meditation was over, the app doesn’t fling you right back to the home screen, but lists other meditations you may be interested in, to add to your play list. Some are on the same or a similar theme and others are by the same guide. This is a great feature as if you are picking meditations that appeal to you, you’re more likely to be excited about meditation and see it as something to look forward to, rather than something you ‘should’ be making time for.

I did seven ‘sleep better’ sessions, and believe me, I have listened to *many* guided meditations promising a great night’s sleep, so wasn’t expecting anything special. I was pleasantly surprised. Each of the first six sessions taught you a different technique to help you fall asleep. What I found most useful about this was the fact that most of these techniques can be used without the need for external audio input. Once you’ve learned the skill and practiced it, you can simply relax and use the power of your own mind to put it into practice, without having to load up the app every time, which can wake you up further.

Simple Habit is perhaps one of the best mediation apps I’ve found so far. Even when I ran out of ‘premium’ time and was flung back to freebies only, I still found plenty of relevant meditations, from really short ones for busy days, to longer ones for after the kids have gone to bed. The guides are positive without being condescending, it’s reasonably priced and it’s easy to tailor the experience to your own needs. Highly recommended.

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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.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

Click Images for Amazon Information

 

 

Book Review: How to Read Your Horoscope in 5 Easy Steps by Chrissie Blaze

April, 2018

BOOK REVIEW

HOW TO READ YOUR HOROSCOPE IN 5 EASY STEPS –
Stop Reading (Except This One…) and Start Reading Charts

By Chrissie Blaze

Chrissie Blaze has created a deceptively simple “introduction” to astrological chart reading. Yes, the book covers the basics of chart interpretation and how to work with each factor as an entry point into chart analysis. But Blaze takes us into advanced “seeing” by moving past these individual factors into what I call “the blend” – she teaches us to weave the parts into a greater whole that reflects the creation story written in each birth chart. If you have ever looked at your birth chart and wondered how to make sense of your Venus in Aries AND your Mars in Libra opposing each other, Blaze’s book will help you sort it out! As she points out, all of the elements of the chart combine as if they are playing in a symphony. Parts are harmonious, parts are discordant – and you can teach yourself to make a whole out of all the parts.

Blaze’s “five easy steps” are not simple! Each step contains many baby steps that culminate in leap forward. I have studied astrological charts for many years and found her process outline to be clear and quite useful, with each step building to a sense of competence. Suggestions for weaving the many parts together are excellent. Blaze tells us that working with what seem like a bunch of disconnected pieces is like learning a language. We have to learn the vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. Once we practice putting them together, we speak effortlessly! And like getting the “gist” of a language we don’t yet understand, we can work with our first impressions to find a way into the chart. In fact, Blaze starts out in Step 1 by taking us into deep waters – chart shapes! We look at the overall pattern the planets make in the astrological wheel – are they “splashed” all over or in a “bucket” in one part of the chart? The shape tells us something about the overall energetic design of this person’s lifetime. Identifying chart shapes can be tricky, but Blaze wades right in and use our intuition to feel into the chart as life’s destiny blueprint. She asks us to see and to trust what we are seeing. So, in Step 1, we begin reading the chart without any feeling of overwhelm!

(Photo by Diego on Unsplash)

Blaze is correct – you can stop reading other books and use the great technical information in this one to dig deep into your chart. She addresses all of the key factors – chart shapes, planets, signs, houses, chart angles, elements, modalities, nodes – and more. And you can add to the technical information the ability to weave the multiple factors together into a creation story. There are short descriptions of the signs and the qualities of the Sun and Moon in each sign that you can use as references and an excellent discussion of using the Sun, Moon and Ascendant to identify themes and characteristics in a person’s inner and outer selves. But this is no ordinary cookbook of canned interpretations. Blaze shows us her process of analysis in discussing examples of each factor, which I found invaluable. These discussions are a great reference as reading and re-reading them will teach you to think in “astrological language.” And as with learning a language, you will begin to recognize the energies and metaphor that the symbols convey. Blaze emphasizes fluency, rather than rote memorization, and offers practices that will help you achieve it.

At the end of each of the five steps are a “jargon” list and a set of exercises that almost trick you into chart reading without a sense of overwhelm. At the end of Step 1, you are already identifying chart shapes, looking for empty and “full” houses and listing “missing” and predominant elements. Blaze asks you simply to sense how these factors might affect you. You are encouraged to study Sun signs, but not to memorize a list of meanings. She also encourages you to be curious, wide-eyed, to explore and to trust your instincts. It’s a shamanic approach – ask the living energies of the planets how they are working through the houses and signs they occupy! By Step 5, you will know enough to look for themes, using Blaze’s list of interpretation guidelines and working with your findings in the very useful interpretation outline. The outline is a fantastic starting point for looking at your life as a whole through the lens of the chart. Do you want to know about your character and leadership potential? Blaze suggests that you look at placement of the Sun, Saturn, Mars, the Ascendant, what sign and planets are in the first house and how these relate to each other. Blaze will tell you that this is not a hard and fast “rule,” but a good place to start. You will evolve your own way of seeing into these destiny patterns, but these guidelines are a fantastic place to start. I printed them out to use!

Learn the “jargon,” use your intuition and work with “the blend,” and you will be reading a chart by the time you finish this book!

Click Image for Amazon Information

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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

Book Review – Daily Spellbook for the Good Witch: Quick, Simple and Practical Magic for Every Day of the Year by Patti Wigington

January, 2018

Daily Spellbook for the Good Witch: Quick, Simple and Practical Magic for Every Day of the Year”

 

 

by Patti Wigington

Published by Sterling Ethos

Published: 2017

Pages: 385

Begin a year and a day of witching with the help of the “Daily Spellbook for the Good Witch.” Starting with January’s themes of new beginnings and going though December’s focus on winter’s darkness, High Priestess, Wicca expert and author Patti Wigington presents 366 spells for seasons, moons and astrological signs. Included are spells for protection, abundance, gratitude, blessings and divination.

While she notes at the beginning of the book that people often think you need a lot of supplies to do spell work – you don’t. Knowing others may think differently, I like that she points out you can do a lot of magic with things you find around you. Many of the spells I read required very little. For instance, the King Frost Snow Spell for Neighborhood Harmony required you to make snowmen while chanting, and adorn each with sticks for arms, a carrot for the nose, and whatever hats or scarves were handy. A spell to find new friends calls for nine seashells and an orange candle.

Wigington’s spells use batteries and a piece of red fabric to jump start your love life; and silver paper, a pen and mugwort for dreams to answer a question; and crayons and a new coloring book for creative thinking. She’ll tell you how to make a nine-piece divination set from painted rocks and prosperity poppets out of gingerbread dough.

None of the spells are long and involved, so it would be possible to set aside 5 to maybe 20 minutes and do a spell a day. Some may not resonate for you – not everyone needs a spell to gain professional respect, male potency or to pass a test. I wouldn’t personally recommend the love spells, including one to bring back a lover who has strayed or the Stay With Me Spell because they interfere with someone else’s freewill, and I don’t know that I’d bring a firefly into the house to help me find a lost object.

There were many, however, I did like. One is the Spell to Bless a Freshly Planted Garden presented on May 29 in conjunction with the old agricultural festival of Ambarvalia, Wigington instructs you to mix equal parts milk, honey and wine in a bowl and walk around your garden clockwise, using your fingers to sprinkle the mixture on the soil while saying, “Honey for the bees, wine for the Divine and milk for growth in this garden of mine.”

This book will easily help you bring more magic into your life, and there’s no reason it can’t be used a second or third time, or serve as a reference for the spells you found most successful. It could also be gifted to a new witch every year, made more personal if you jotted notes in the margins.

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

 

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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.