The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston: REVIEW

From the author of the The Witch’s Daughter comes a brand new time bending adventure story that will make you never look at antiques in the same way again.

Without giving away any spoilers, this story follows a Mother & Daughter duo as they attempt to rebuild their lives in rural England by opening up an antique shop. What follows is a magical silver piece with a sordid past , a violent ghost, ley lines, a good old-fashioned love story, English politics, and proper English gentleman.
The author’s use of descriptive language to evoke a charming English village and its previous centuries old history, not only transports the main character, but also transports the reader to another time and place.
The strong relationship between the main character Xanthe and her Mother Flora was a nice added break from stories about estranged parents and dysfunctional families. It’s what kept the reader anchored to the present but also floating to the 17th century sub plot as well. It is their mutual love that drives the story forward like an old-fashioned carriage, a little bumpy, but reliable nonetheless.
The supernatural aspect of the story was tasteful and effective as were the bits of romance. Readers will appreciate the female characters who were each strong in their own ways appropriate to their statuses. The main character Xanthe is a heroine, with her mud-stained cheesecloth rags she rescues an innocent young girl from her terrible fate, and in doing so, rescues a part of herself that she lost after enduring her own terrible fate prior to moving to Marlborough.
We see how this charming English village of Marlborough evolved into a more modern version of itself but still retained the same type of personalities even after hundreds of years. This made the story more believable, as the past and present are always interacting with each other and it is those long forgotten items and discarded antiques that are some of the greatest witnesses of history. If we started treating them as such, as opposed to a price tag, we would develop a greater appreciation for the present.

Be careful not to hold onto this book too tightly, for you might find yourself transported to 17th century England…oh and if you do, a minstrel is always a good disguise.

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Carl Llewellyn Weschcke By Melanie Marquis: REVIEW

I was super excited to have the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this book because I heard about it a few months ago and knew that I had to read it. As a long time reader and fan of Llewellyn, I desperately wanted to learn about their origins and marvelous history. I was also curious to learn more about the person behind the name and this book definitely did not disappoint. I was amazed at the depths of this book. It’s truly a biography of a publishing house and the wizard behind the curtain.

Weschcke was such an interesting character with an incredible back story. I could see bits of myself in him as I’m sure most Llewellyn fans could as well. We magical book-worms share many things in common, one of the main ones being the love of spiritual books!

Marquis does a brilliant job at delving deep into the life of Weschcke from his childhood, pharmaceutical background, his NAACP years, and his acquisition of the Llewellyn publishing house. It was interesting to read about the New Age in the 1960s and 1970s at its height and all of Weschcke’s other magical ventures. Marquis discusses his failures and shortcomings equally as she does his successes.

The passion for sharing occult information with the world is evident in this biography and brings a human element to what has become the number one publishing house of the mind, body, spirit genre. The family like feel of this company was evident from the very beginning as was its mission to educate and celebrate the New Age. The attributes I associate with Llewellyn today such as quality and expertise have their origins with Weschcke and all of the trailblazers who have been apart of the Llewellyn family from the start.

Each chapter takes a close look at the many different incarnations of Llewellyn that often responded to and inspired the need and desire for occult information over the decades. This was helmed by Carl Weschcke whose intuition and passion for education was the North Star of this company.

Readers will appreciate the quotes from many Llewellyn authors and staff, as well as the intimate look at Carl Weschcke the grandson, son, husband, father, and boss.

Llewellyn is so much more than a publishing house. It is a relic with a history as constellated as the starry skies, and a founder as magical as its books.

 

You Are Magical by Tess Whitehurst: REVIEW

Tess Whitehurst has become quite the celebrated author in the New Age world. I mean who hasn’t read her first book Magical Housekeeping, or turned to Magic of Flowers come gardening season? I know I have, and when I heard that Tess was publishing a new book, I knew had to get my hands on it.

You Are Magical takes all of the new agey information out there and brings it back down to the basics……you. It’s a Me, Myself, & Magic book where you come to understand that YOU are the source of magic. It doesn’t always have to be about tarot cards and crystals (although these are both discussed in this book) but we have reached a point in the spiritual communities where WE don’t really seem to matter anymore. It’s become about the latest pretty deck and Mercury Retrograde cycle more than it is about our own role to play in it.

You Are Magical reminds you that your magical power lies within. The book begins with a heartfelt preface that sets the mood for the entire book. Tess describes magic as an inherent feeling, that special something that we all possess, but have been conditioned to forget. The following chapters delve deeper into this, teaching you how to reconnect with that sacred part of yourself. Reconnecting allows you to live a life of wonder and purpose creating an incredible self awareness that empowers you to live life on your own terms.

Each chapter contains assignments to help you develop this self- awareness. Some are as simple as sitting in nature and noticing how it makes you feel, while others are more complex such as pondering why you are drawn to certain objects. The assignments in this book might seem easy at first but these are important first steps that everyone, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey, should do. This book will help you to take responsibility for your spiritual practice as opposed to partaking in quick fix witchy schemes. You will learn about ego desires versus authentic desires, societal conditioning, and how to personalize your craft. The end of the book contains a series of spells that will put to the test all of your previous assignments in this book. The quality and success of your spell work is largely dependent on the health of your magic-are you disconnected from the universe, or are you anchored in your own power? This book will help you answer those questions and more.

You Are Magical weaves luminous threads of authenticity, inspiration, and self empowerment throughout leaving you with a deeper sense of who you are…and I couldn’t think of anything more magical than that.

365 Days of Blessings to Heal Myself & the World by Pierre Pradervand: REVIEW

365 Days of Blessings to Heal Myself & the World by Pierre Pradervand is all about how blessing everything can transform your life and the world. This idea takes the concept of gratitude and flips it on its side. Blessing things goes a step further than simply being grateful. Blessings give thanks and appreciation for the existence of everything- it’s about simply recognizing them for what they are and not necessarily what they can give you in return. Blessings allow you to see the divinity in all creations which can bestow happiness and goodness upon everything. To bless people and situations that are challenging is the ultimate form of giving because you remove your ego from the act, making blessings the highest octave of selflessness.

At first I was a little skeptical, but I experimented for a couple of days- waking up first thing in the morning and blessing my day and my family, and everything I experienced during the day. I have to admit that it lightened my mood and dramatically shifted my perspective. When you bless everything that crosses your path you suddenly have no reason to be upset at anything. It helps you to accept things the way they are which brings a sense of peace. The days I experimented with this technique were pretty easy so I would be curious to see how this would work on more challenging days. Blessing your enemies and struggles is easier said than done, so I do think you have to train yourself in order for this to become routine. Is Pierre Pradervand being a little naive suggesting that every person can do this? I’m not sure, but I do think for the average person, wishing good for your opponents and challenges first requires a lot of inner work and self reflection.

The part that really drove home this practice was when Pierre discussed how blessings honour the unfolding of fate. When we bless things we acknowledge their presence in our life allowing us to fully surrender- which puts us in a receiving state. Blessings aren’t meant to be a material cure-all, but they do help to align us to our path, because we remove the greatest obstacle from this path which is usually ourselves.

The book then lists many blessings we can use in our everyday lives- from blessing ourselves, to our mail carriers, to the world, to our enemies, and so forth. Blessings from different cultures are also included. There does seem to be some memorization of these blessings that is required because how else would you be able to remember what to say?

I would have liked some more practical examples from others who have used these techniques to see how their lives have been transformed using them.

Overall a beautifully written book on a practice that I believe will bring peace to many people around the world.

*A special thanks to Ben Craib from John Hunt Publishing for sending me the widget.

Dictionary of Gypsy Mythology by Claude Lecouteux: REVIEW

A compendium of hermetic knowledge that’s as good as Gypsy gold for those outside of Eastern Europe…

Dictionary of Gypsy Mythology by Claude Lecouteux is a comprehensive guide of Romani mythologies and beliefs, containing stories from Roma authorities and a variety of tribes. It is a valuable source for those who wish to learn more about these mysterious people, their history, and culture. The information contained within this book is sourced from a 19th century Ethnologist who spent time living with the Romani peoples. The Roma do not have their own alphabet or written records, thus, all of their stories are based on the oral tradition, which makes this dictionary an invaluable curated archive of their culture.

A discussion on the Egyptian and Indian origins of the Roma is featured throughout, as well as an exploration of the pagan and Christian symbology that has weaved itself into their lives. What I loved is that every god, goddess, animal, mythological creature, folktale, rite, song, and joke was explained within the Roma’s cultural context. This helps the reader understand why they have such beliefs in the first place and how this informs their lifestyle and choices. There are plenty of footnotes and citations listed to support the content of the book, making it both a credible academic resource and an enlightening read.

I am so happy that I got to review this book! My Mother’s side of the family is Romani so I grew up with a lot of stories about their folklore. To this day we still practice bits and pieces of domestic magic and fortune telling, although none of it has been documented. Both me and my Mom started to record it a few years ago so we will always have a record to be able to pass down through the generations. My Romani heritage is not something we as a family like to “advertise” because the stigmas are still extremely strong……not even my Dad who doesn’t have Romani blood approves of my Mom’s heritage. It’s a culture that is misunderstood and is still ostracized to this day. I’m always hunting for the next book about the Roma, and this one was the most in depth and interesting one that I’ve read.

 

 

The School for Psychics by K.C. Archer: REVIEW

The School for Psychics by K.C. Archer was part X-Men, part Ocean’s 11, and part Hogwarts for intuitives. The story follows Teddy, a young con artist who finds herself being recruited by the School for Psychics after her gambling luck comes under surveillance. From there the story takes place at the School where we meet a variety of characters each with their own psychic ability- one can set fires with his mind, another can communicate with animals, some receive premonitions and so forth. We uncover family secrets and a shady government organization who is using some of the recruits for ulterior purposes. There’s romance, espionage, mysterious disappearances, and good conspiracy theory with some dark overtones. I liked how this book focused on the psychic arts as I believe this is an untapped genre in fiction today considering most books center on witches, vampires, werewolves, etc. I wish the government and military were left out of the story as I felt it detracted from the fantasy and psychic elements of the plot. The first few chapters had me hooked, but I found myself struggling to finish the book. It was a little slow paced for my liking and there were too many characters that were included which was confusing at times. The twist at the end wasn’t satisfying because a character that was only briefly introduced to us at the beginning, ended up being the main culprit. There seems to be a sequel in the works and I probably would be interested in reading it as there are some mysteries that I would like to see solved. Overall I enjoyed this refreshing story-line and hope to see the intuitive genre gain some momentum.

Magical Healing by Hexe Claire- REVIEW

What first drew me to this book was the element of folk magic and healing. As someone with a European background, I was interested to learn more. I am also familiar with Hexe Claire’s Youtube videos on Lenormand cards, so I knew her book would be informative.

Magical Healing includes chapters on when the best time is to heal according to the days of the week, which gods and goddesses to call upon, and how to protect yourself during the process and much more. I must say none of the above mentioned healing techniques are unique to German folk medicine. If you are well versed in Wicca or Paganism, then you will already have a very good grasp of these. I enjoyed the chapter on ‘Healing Techniques’ that were specific to folk healing such as blowing, spitting, egg applications, and so forth. The chapter that really got to the heart of folk healing was the chapter on spells and powerful words. When I think of folk medicine, I think of magic mixed with superstition and this is what was laid out in this chapter. There are spells on how to treat burns, spells for cold and fevers, disjointed bones, eczema, and so much more. These spells don’t require additional tools, just a strong belief that they will work. Hexe mentions throughout this chapter that she has recited these short little spells when she has injured herself, and miraculously healed as a result. The accomanying chapters provide information on healing herbs and stones, once again, nothing goundbreaking, although the chapter on stones looked at fossils as opposed to your typical crystals which was unique and refreshing.

Overall I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t as much folk magic included as I thought there was going to be, however, I think this was a safe first attempt that would not be intimidating or irresponsible for the readers to use.

The Twelve Faces of the Goddess by Danielle Blackwood: REVIEW

The Twelve Faces of the Goddess by Danielle Blackwood is a deep journey into goddess archetypes. First Danielle explains the zodiacal archetype, and then goes on to explain what the modern day archetype looks like. Next, an exploration of the guiding goddess archetype is explored by using lesser known goddesses. For instance, how many people have heard of the goddess Macha? I know I never have. Next, how we can incorporate the lessons of the goddess are discussed by using very relatable examples. Guided meditations, rituals and correspondences of the zodiac and goddeses are also included.

What I most loved about this book was that Danielle was able to show very clearly how we can tap into our own inner goddesses for self empowerment. Too often in goddess studies there is a disconnect between the archetype and our modern day applications. This book does the exact opposite. It is made obvious that we all possess the twelve goddess archetypes within us, it’s just that we don’t always know how to activate them either because of patriarchal conditioning or because we have lost touch with ourselves. This book does a beautiful job of reminding us that we as women are multi faceted beings on our own unique journeys. Empowering the sacred feminine begins with honouring our authenticity and wide array of emotions. There are going to be times when we need to be the warrior Athena, and there are times when we will call upon Aphrodite. Goddess spirituality has less to do with invocation rituals and more to do with conscious awareness of our multi dimensional energies as women. The Twelves Faces of the Goddess are not some ancient mythological figures. They are within us.

This book is a must read for astrology lovers, women and men, priestesses, those new to goddess spirituality, and for those who are on a self-discovery journey.

The Little Book of Witchcraft by Astrid Carvel: REVIEW

The Little Book of Witchcraft by Astrid Carvel is a cute companion guide for the modern day witch. I say cute because it was written in a very easy to understand way, so it was in no means intimidating or complex. There were little skecthes throughout that made it seem like a notebook or grimoire, which was a nice touch. I appreciated the concise explanations of witchcraft, wicca, and white magic and the descriptions of altars, wands, crystals, etc. My only complaint is that there seemed to be an emphasis on the “modern day witch,” however, there was nothing uniquely modern about this since witches have been using things such as the four elements, candles, and salt for centuries. I wish there were more chapters devoted to actual modern day witchcraft which was only touched on, such as the use of social media, tech devices, and so forth. If the book contained more chapters pertaining to witchcraft in the twenty-first century, then this would be a stand out book. I do feel that the spells had a nice modern flair and seemed easy to perform, but the book needed more updated content. I also found the red and blue pages unreadable. There was not enough contrast between the font and coloured pages. I would recommend The Little Book of Witchcraft for those who are brand new to witchery as this book will help you ease into the craft. I would not recommend this book for those witches out there who are already well versed in witchcraft. Overall a cutesy read but lacking in the “modern” department.

Occulture by Carl Abrahamsson: REVIEW

The title says it all. Exploring the occult through popular culture and history. This is not the occult that we have come to understand, but rather occulture as in a post-modern movement. This is why I finished this book scratching my head. I was hoping for an exploration or uncovering of secret symbolism throughout popular culture, but instead received some lectures about the driving forces behind everything from Counter-Culture to Freud, from Dreams to the Media. These driving forces were explained from a philosophical and sociological angle, so I do feel a proper explanation of the “occult” was missing. Ironically, popular culture has distorted the occult to the point where we assume it is merely about magic and spells, but neglects to inform us of its psychological components- such as free will, cause and effect, intention, and individuation. This is where the author does a great job at exploring those components but neglects to actually explain what occulture actually is? Is it a corrupted esoteric lifestyle? Is it a desensitized trend? I would recommend placing the conclusion ‘Intuition as a State of Grace’ at the beginning of the book because it actually concisely summarized the contents of the book. This is a book I will read over and over again, hoping some of its content can actually sink in. If you would like to twist your brain and go on a mind bending journey through the underpinnings of society, this is a must read. I wouldn’t recommend this book if you are fairly new to exploring the occult, as your preconceived notions of it will surely be obliterated which you might find to be empowering or devastating.