Book Review – The Seasonal Soul: A Mystic’s Guide to Inner Transformation Written by Lauren Aletta, Illustrated by Teagan Svyny

May 1st, 2019

Book Review
The Seasonal Soul
A Mystic’s Guide to Inner Transformation
Written by Lauren Aletta
Illustrated by Teagan Svyny
Chronicle
303 pp.

“The Seasonal Soul: A Mystic’s Guide to Inner Transformation” comes to us from the author and illustrator behind the lovely Lumina Tarot, and it’s just what you’d expect if you’re familiar with that Tarot. It is a lushly illustrated book which explores the themes of winter, spring, summer, and fall through a collage of visualizations, meditations, self-care rituals, and musings. The book’s structure is simple and its goals are clearly laid out: to use awareness and observation of the seasons as a template for personal growth, and to use nature as your guide.

There are many exercises to choose from in each season, and they contain suggestions for activities, journaling prompts, meditations, and more. These exercises center around self-exploration, personal growth, or intuitive connection to self. Svyny’s illustrations are beautiful, and make reading the book a real pleasure; although it’s completely black and white, the book was clearly printed with visual impact in mind, and the result is effective. There is a visual treat on every page of natural imagery, quotes, and other illustrations rendered in watercolor and ink.

Unfortunately, the book does have a few problems. Aletta’s decision to write in the second person is questionable; I found it off-putting to be told what I was supposed to be feeling, particularly when the author’s lived experience only aligned with my own on rare occasions. It felt forced to me, and I didn’t feel like I could “play along” to an emotional narrative that didn’t ring true. Additionally, much of the advice contained in the book seems to involve adjusting one’s own attitudes about life and feelings about things, which I fear may encourage spiritual bypassing more than spiritual growth; there is little material here that will guide a seeker through the deep mysteries of life, or help them deal with serious challenges. While there is nothing wrong with developing a positive attitude towards one’s daily life, there are many problems which a positive attitude can’t solve, and this book doesn’t really delve into difficult questions or serious craft.

Aletta discusses meditation, crystal use and chakra energy work at some length. While much of this information is accurate according to tradition, it is disappointing to note that she doesn’t mention the original names of the chakras or discuss their origins in her descriptions. There are many chakra-like systems in the world, but the symbolism and type of chakras discussed make it clear that Aletta is working with the Tantric Chakra system. The roots of this system are in Hindu esoteric tradition and Vedic literature, but the cultural origins of this system and their literary source are not mentioned anywhere in this book. I know it’s almost passé to crow about cultural appropriation, but in this case the problem is easily corrected with as little as a footnote or bibliography, so there’s no excuse for their absence. Additionally, the critical disconnection from the origins of these mystical traditions deprives them of power due to their lack of context.

If you are looking for light-hearted spiritual exploration, eye-popping illustrations, and heart-centered positivity to act as your spiritual cheerleader, this might be the book for you. There are some good suggestions here, and it would make a great companion for journaling with prompts, or as a source book for an ongoing meditation and visualization practice. If, however, you are a seeker who desires spiritual growth that grows from deep roots and ancient traditions, you may find yourself disappointed by the lack of context and type of material presented here.

The Seasonal Soul: A Mystic’s Guide to Inner Transformation on Amazon

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About the Author:

Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com

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