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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 Books
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

***

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

 

Book Review: Love Magic: Over 250 Spells and Potions for Getting It, Keeping It, and Making It Last

 

 

by Lilith Dorsey

Published by Weiser Books, 2016

Paperback; $12.15 at Amazon

This connection between magic and eroticism is an obvious one. They both encompass absolutely every sense. We lose and find ourselves in magic and love, if we are lucky.”

So begins the introduction to this 275-page book, which seems especially appropriate for Beltane.

The first chapter presents spells for self-love and happiness.

These are the root of your magical success,” she wrote in the introduction.

That is followed by chapters on romantic, marriage, fertility, universal love and erotic adventures. As diverse as situations can be, so are the magical traditions from which the spells are drawn.

There are spells and potions for finding love, keeping love, and healing yourself so that you are ready for love. The book includes rituals for invoking goddesses of love and for love gone bad. There are even recipes for foods such as Simply Sensual Flower Fudge and Oshum Seduction Salsa, because, she writes, “Seduction is best begun at the table.”

Dorsey distinguishes between spells for a general dose of universal love and those intended to connect specific individuals, and provides spells and formulas for each. She also stresses the importance of ritual cleansing – such as baths, smudging and using magical floor washes –as “one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your home.”

Along with cleansing spells, she recommends divination and healing work, regardless of the problem, and offers a variety of each.

In addition, she discusses the ethics of love magic, and provides information about sacred botanicals and crystals, and ends with six chapters from the Book of Psalms and some recommended reading.

Dorsey is a spiritual practitioner and has been a professional psychic for more than 20 years. She is also an anthropologist, which prompted her to include historical spells. Magically, she is dedicated “to many different spiritual traditions, including Santeria, which is more properly known as La Regla Lucumi. In that religious tradition, I have been deemed, through divination, to be a daughter of the goddess (Orisha) Oshun,” she writes. Shun’s domain, Dorsey adds, includes love and marriage. “She is intimately acquainted with all facets of love.”

Dorsey wrote the book to share her knowledge and experience.

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

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Cover art: Large Brown Fairy Garden decor Door Set with Accessories. Hand cast and painted by Jassmond Masters-Bell of the Etsy shop Fairy Behind the Door, featured in an interview this month with her.

About the door: This Fairy door belongs to Mrs Odina. She owns a Nights Fairy dormitory where she allows the traveling fairy to stop by and sleepover before they continue on their journey. She runs a tight tree house, her fees are fair but you have to bring your own berries and goats milk for breakfast. It says on the Door “Fairies Sleeping” so be quiet when you pass by.

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This month we have visitors! The Fae have come out for the Month of July to join us and our Readers at PaganPagesOrg. So pull up a Toadstool, Make a nice Cuppa, and Have a Great Read because we have brought you a Packed Issue to enjoy filled with Excellent Features Likes…

 

An interview with Jassmond Masters-Bell, owner of the Etsy Shop Fairy Behind the Door. Where all types of magickal items can be found created by this wonderful molding artisan.

 

When you see a tremendous wrong in the world do you just sit by and let it happen? Though Jennifer Engrácio , and PaganPagesOrg, usually stay out of political stances, human rights are being violated and she has something to say and we stand behind her! Please read Children and the Seven Generations. See where you stand.

 

A few new columns we will be adding in PaganPagesOrg are updates and features monthly on our favorite Podcasts. These are the ones we listen to and find to be the most informative and really top notch. We started, already, by bringing back broadcasts of Going Shamanic Radio. Now, we are proud to announce we will be featuring 3 Pagans and a Cat. Personally, I think you will love them from the first episode. How they make you feel secure on your path. The rounded knowledge. No fear in saying I don’t know. The learning, the sharing, the laughing. The correctness in information. This podcast is the complete package. A must listen.

 

An Interview with Astrid Brown. 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.

 

This month starts a new column: Mojo Bag of the Month, beginning with a bag that will help to raise your vibration! With the many shifts and changes that are coming, we need to raise our vibration to ride out the wave. Have a read to see what you need for this month’s bag.

 

This month Robin Fennelly reviews the book Moon Magic: Your Complete Guide to Harnessing the Mystical Energy of the Moon by author Diane Ahlquist. Robin breaks down this book for us explaining all this volume has to offer and if it’s worth adding to our libraries.

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We would like to thank all our loyal readers for this award. You like us, you really like us!

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Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ Community, Instagram, & YouTube.

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Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C.S. Lewis

 

 

Book Review

Love Magic: A Handbook of Spells, Charms, and Potions”

by Anastasia Greywolf

Published by Wellfleet Press

Copyright May 29, 2018

Pages: 256

This book is marketed to “help readers navigate through their amorous adventures,” such as people hoping to “catch that person you’ve been secretly in love with for the past five months” and to help when “an unrequited crush is not getting your subtle hints.”

In her introduction, Anastasia Greywolf, a practicing witch and herbalist and a founding member of the Coven of the Moonbeam Ravine, states, “Whether you want to find ‘the one’ or simply make your pets love each other, get rid of a bad date or set yourself free from a bad energy of a relationship from the past, you’ll find the magic to make it happen in these pages (check the back for a full index of spells). From more than a dozen contributors, they draw from a variety of traditions and spiritualities.”

Some of the magic is traditional while most is modern.

I agree with Greywolf that “of all the mysterious forces in the universe, love may be the most powerful” and “love is hard to control.” I don’t agree that all the incantations, concoctions and charms offered to harness it are necessarily proper. Yes, love spells have been around “forever.” However, if something interferes with a person’s freewill, warning bells go off in my head.

For instance, there is a “Sisterhood Spell for Female Friends” contributed by Susan Adcox. Noting you “can never have too many sisters of the heart,” she offers a spell to make a relationship with a casual friend or acquaintance grow into something more. It involves burning a white candle and saying, “Bound by choice and not by blood, Be for me a sister good. Share the joy, halve the pain,
Our love will ever wax, not wane.”

While it seems harmless, my ethics would keep me from doing it because it’s trying to get someone to be a good sister. Rather, I would find another way to address the situation. If I was shy or too intimidated to approach the person, I would do some magic to bolster my self-confidence and courage. I would also recognize that this woman may not choose to be a close friend for any number of reasons that may very well have nothing to do with me. Not knowing the person well, there could be something about her behavior that would make not being close to her actually be for my highest good and greatest joy.

There is much to consider when doing a spell, and those involving others require the most thought and experience, which is why I caution people not to just pick up a book and follow some instructions without thinking through every detail and possibility.

A traditional spell Greywolf offers is “To Marry Whomever You Choose.” It reads, “To make the person you love want to marry you and ensure a union, the solution is simple. Obtain the heart of a chicken and swallow it whole.”

Other than being extremely squeamish about swallowing a chicken heart whole, I am also extremely squeamish about making a person love me. There are at least half a dozen ways I can see this go sideways.

The same goes for the spell “To Get a Marriage Proposal” contributed by Luna Eternal. Among other steps, it has the reader repeat three times,”With the love that is ours / I call upon this ancient power / Engagement is what I seek / Proposal is what you offer to me / By the power of three times three / As I will it, so mote it be!”

I see this as a form or manipulation. I also recognize my bias comes from how I practice and I acknowledge not everyone walks the same path the same way.

Spells can be found in the book that do not reach into someone else’s space. The “Pre-wedding Bath,” submitted by Jill Robi, is one of those. It calls for lighting pillar candles on each corner of the bathtub, adding certain essential oils to the water and floating rose petal upon it while envisioning “the best version of your special day, pulling positive energy into yourself, and projecting that into the universe.”

Robi’s “Wedding Sachet,” and Greywolf’s spells “To Cure Pre-Wedding Jitters” and “For Bandaging Past Wounds” are but three more examples.

I appreciated that along with steps to take “For Courage to Break Up With Your Lover,” contributor Aoife Witt wrote, “Important note: Most of us dread breaking up with a significant other. If the reason you are nervous about initiating a breakup is because your significant other may become violent, you may do this spell but please do not rely on it. Go to a safe place, and call the proper authorities.”

Among the more interesting spells I found in the book was this one to love yourself.

 

The Narcissa”

by Hollen Pockets

This is a spell to fall in love with yourself. Perform in times of need.

Take a rock and break your mirrors. You don’t need them right now.

Keep the rock and break your scales.
Take some scissors and snip your measuring tape. Keep the scissors and cut your hair, no mirrors needed. Speak the words: It doesn’t matter. It will grow.

Go for a long walk or get out of the house in whatever way you can. Use your body. Count the beats of your great heart.

Find a reflective pool. If needed, fill your favorite bathtub and look into that.

Speak the words: I have all I need.

Smile at your reflection, blurry and imperfect in the reflecting water. Smile and smile and smile.

 

For readers who want to craft their own spells, or modify one from “Love Magic,” the lists of colors, stones, herbs, essential oils and flowers found at the back of the book are helpful. There is also a section on love omens – from apples to wishbones – along with the meaning of various birds, a list of lucky days, and information about how each phase of the moon relates to love magic.

As with everything in life, it is wise to take what you need and leave the rest. I hope you will do so with this book as well as all others that show up on your path.

Love Magic: A Handbook of Spells, Charms, and Potions

 

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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 – QUEEN UP! Reclaim Your Crown When Life Knocks You Down: Unleash the Power of Your Inner Tarot Queen by Angela Kaufman

In our current atmosphere of #Time’sUp and #MeToo, this is the perfect book to come along. The Queens that are spoken of in this book are the Queens of the Tarot, but it also fits in with so many, adding the term “Queen” to the three-fold aspect of the Goddess.

The author uses the archetypal energies of the four Queens in the Tarot, each representing a different element, to help us to meet, and work with, our Inner Queen(s), using a tarot deck and our intuition.

Ms. Kaufman tells the “Legend of the 4 Queens”, leaving us with four divine decrees, being: “all things are energy”, “energy is changeable” energy contains elements of its opposite”, and “energy can be accessed at will through the power of intention, thus anything required to succeed can be found within”.

Each Queen has her own section with self-reflective questions, exercises, meditations, and ritual, complete with her own correspondences.

Ms. Kaufman describes how each of us can call on our own Queen(s), with a detailed ritual on how to “Queen Up!”, with tips on how to bring these energies into our daily lives.

The book concludes with a 52-week guide to Queening Up, which also comes with an Inner Queen Intuitive Log.

While the techniques mentioned may sound familiar to those who have done Goddess-oriented inner work, or intentional spellwork, they are presented here in a manner befitting a Queen.

This book is very encouraging and supportive to any woman who would follow it as an uplifting guide on their path to empowerment. I would definitely recommend this book, and I plan on returning to it as part of my own inner work!

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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 [email protected]

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Review of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch

 

 

I received a “review copy” of The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space With Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock just before the Thanksgiving holiday. This handsome book is published by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, and is the twelfth book by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. On Simon and Schuster’s author website for Arin Murphy-Hiscock, you can find all the titles of her other published books. Some were known to me and some were not. Some, like Birds: A Spiritual Field Guide, I had borrowed from my local public library and had on my “to-buy” list. So naturally I was elated to get The House Witch. I immediately cracked it open and wrote my name and the date on the inside cover.

But the demands of the Thanksgiving Holiday – cooking the meal and getting together with family in town for just a few days – meant that I wasn’t able to sit down and give The House Witch a good read. And then I caught my son’s cold. Sick and miserable, I gave up. I took a box of tissues and curled up on the couch under a hand-crocheted afghan for several days in a state of semi-slumber.

When I did finally get back to The House Witch, I was delighted, as I knew I would be. One my very first impressions was, “Gee, I wish there had been books like this back when I was first getting into witchcraft and wicca!” In the 1970’s and 1980’s, there were only a few books out on the subject and most of them – like Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance – were geared toward the large group or the coven but very rarely the solitary practitioner. Not until Scott Cunningham published Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner in 1988 that you started to see more attention paid to the solitary witch. While The House Witch is not specifically written for the solitary witch, it addresses the many concerns of those of us who practice alone – whether we live alone or with other people.

I was born in May, under the sun sign of Taurus, my moon in Pisces, with Cancer rising. Issues of home and health and happiness have always been forefront in my spiritual practice, so it is natural that I would gravitate toward creating and maintaining a beautiful home, even if that home is a tiny apartment in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in a rust-belt city. Because of my wonderful grandmothers, I was always aware of the magic in everyday things but many people – especially those born after, say, 1980 – do not have the benefit of the wisdom of their elders. On page 17, Murphy-Hiscock lists four steps that anyone can learn to “recognize the magic” as she terms it, reminding us to keep things simple and always to focus on what we are doing in the house. These steps are: live in the moment, be aware of your intent, direct your energy properly and focus on an action. Anyone who has studied any kind of meditation, magical instruction or spiritual path will recognize these steps. So just what does all of this have to do with the home and the hearth? Murphy-Hoscock writes,

“Opening yourself to the simplest of tasks and allowing them to inspire you with some insight or wisdom, or even a

moment of peace, illustrates that the Divine can whisper to you in the oddest of unexpected places. Hearthcraft is

about communing with the Divine through everyday tasks, not through complicated formal ritual.” (page 19)

She talks about home as sacred space. One thing she mentions is the removal of shoes in cultures such as Japan and other parts of Southeast Asia; I don’t allow anyone to wear shoes into my apartment and I am always amazed – when I watch TV, for instance – and I see people, not only with their shoes on inside their homes but also on the furniture!

When I was growing up, I always lived in houses that had fireplaces and we usually had a fire most winter evenings, so the idea of a hearth and a hearth fire is not unknown to me – one of our houses actually had a giant hearth built into the wall surrounding the fireplace! But since I have left my parents’ house, I have never lived in a house with a fireplace, much to my great sadness. I consider my hearth to be my kitchen oven or perhaps a meditation candle. However, when I was sick a day ago, I had some split pea soup and freshly baked bread and lay down for a nap. I could feel the warmth of the soup and bread in my belly and it occurred to me that my hearth fire was inside of me.

With this in mind, the “Bank Your Inner Flame” ritual on page 45 makes perfect sense. I had a wonderful warmth inside of me and I needed to be able to hold onto that warmth. It wasn’t just the soup and bread – it was the sense of being safe and secure in my own home. I love the word “smooring” – I love anything Scottish and Gaelic – I added it to my list of cool words and then I copied the “smooring prayer” (page 46) into my personal prayer book.

This book is filled with jewels.

There is a chapter on “The Magic of the Cauldron” in which she talks about how to find and care for a cast-iron cauldron. “Hearth and Home Deities” is just what it sounds like – a chapter of gods and goddesses of the home and hearth. The next chapter is about the kitchen as a sacred space – something that not many people even think about seriously nowadays. If your idea of cooking is opening up a box of prepared food and popping it into the microwave – or even using something like Hamburger Helper – then I would give Chapters 6, 8 and 9 a very close reading. As I already stated, Chapter 6 is about the kitchen as a sacred space. Chapter 8 is “Magic at the Hearth” and Chapter 9 is “The Spirituality of Food”. Recipes included!!!!!

Other topics in this fabulous book are “Using Hearthcraft to Protect Your Home”, “Herbs, crafts, and other Hearth-Related Magic Work”, and a chapter of various spells, rituals and blessings. Quite naturally, there is an appendix and a bibliography that have quite a bit of information in them as well.

In the “Postscript”, Arin Murphy-Hiscock writes, “Several times as I was writing this book, my thoughts moved faster than my fingers, and as a result ‘hearth fire’ very often came out as ‘heart fire.’ I wonder, at times, if my subconscious was trying to tell me something.” (page 247). I do not wonder at all. This book most assuredly set my heart on fire. In this rich season of Yuletide joy, when all of us decorate our houses with festive lights and traditional ornaments that may only have meaning to our loved ones alone, The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space With Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock is a book which brings together all the spiritual and happiness that home and hearth can represent. I highly recommend it for anyone on any spiritual path.

References

Murphy-Hiscock, Arin. The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home. NY: Adams Media, 2018.

The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home on Amazon

***

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.

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