The Body Heals Itself by Emily A. Francis: REVIEW

The Body Heals Itself looks at muscle memory from a metaphysical perspective. This book has a Louise Hay ring to it because she built her career on her books about the emotional body. This book takes it a step further by focusing in on our muscles- which is something Louise Hay did not.

A discussion on the biology of muscles was included to help readers understand their functions. From there, muscles as storehouses for memories was included using both biological and spiritual examples. The author’s main point was that when muscles are massaged and stretched- emotions are released. She gave examples of clients she worked with who were able to discuss and heal old wounds when their muscles were massaged and activated which helped to prove her point. Chakras and meridians were also described, which is pretty standard for these types of books.

By the far the most interesting and important part of the book was learning the emotional component of each muscle group which is directly linked to their functions. Stretching techniques were included, along with recommended crystals, and essential oils. The main thesis of the body healing itself comes through when by the end of the book we are reminded that muscles remember when they are healthy as does the body. Our body stores emotions in order for us to go within and release them. Healing can only occur when the body is an active participant.

Overall a fascinating read that will ultimately offer a deeper appreciation of something we take for granted- our muscles.

 

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Sigil Witchery by Laura Tempest Zakroff: REVIEW

Sigil Witchery explores sigil magick all the way from the past such as heiroglyphics, up to the modern day present with graffitti. This book is different in that it does not show you how to make a traditional sigil using a kabbalah numbers grid. It would have been helpful to show how to make a traditional sigil rather than simply mention it and move on. The instructions on how to make a sigil were based on modern magick and witchy sovereignty. A discussion on why certain symbols were sacred to certain peoples were mentioned in many chapters which was a prelude to finding one’s own symbolic significance.

Personally, I wished a more methodical approach to sigil witchery was the focus of this book, as opposed to just making your own sigil without any specific system. There was a recurring theme of playing around with shapes and designs that does require a certain level of artistry in my opinion. Not only does this turn away a large audience, but for those looking for a more ritualistic and traditional approach to sigil magick, this book would not be satisfactory.

My advice to the author would be to devote some time to explaining traditional sigil magick in order to lay the proper foundation for readers.

 

The Faerie Handbook: REVIEW

The Faerie Handbook is an enchanting read that takes the reader on a fantastical journey through faerie lore. If the faerie kingdom were to make a manual for new initiates- this would be it! The book is divided in to four sections: Flora & Fauna, Fashion & Beauty, Arts & Culture, and Home, Food, & Entertaining. Chapters include where to find fairies, common inhabitants, fairy houses, craft ideas, fashion, recipes, fairy history and so much more!

Reading The Faerie Handbook felt like a sprinkling of periwinkle blue fairy dust on my head from an invisible winged friend. You can’t help but get pulled into this magical realm of a book, making you feel as though you yourself are a faerie. Reading the pages felt as if it were consecrated by some great fairy queen in a thicket of a luscious forest in the early days of Spring. The renderings and pictures are charming and romantic which gives off a vintage vibe that suits the antique look of this book.

What I particularly love about this book is that it doesn’t come across as juvenile or kitschy- quite the opposite in fact. There is a discussion of the more menacing and sinister sides of the Faerie world which are not widely known. There is also a lovely balance between vintage and modern references to Faeries- including some obscure mentioning’s such as Tasha Tudor and Katerina Plotnikova.

There is an abundance of folklore for those interested in the history of Faeries and cutesier aesthetic pleasing information for lovers of the ethereal lifestyle. Quotes and literature references to the Faerie world weave a gold-spun thread throughout the book, luring the reader deeper and deeper into its vast kingdom.

This handbook is a love letter to those who find themselves drifting between two worlds- the mystical flower kingdom and our mundane reality. There are books about witches and vampires, but there hasn’t been such a comprehensive collection of faerie facts and information compiled into one book before. If you are a fan of Faerie Magazine, think of The Faerie Handbook as the flower crown of fairy books. The book is written with both a whimsical and poetic flair that pulls the reader into its silver lined pages. As the ultimate fairy tale, this handbook is a must read and should be in every fairy lover’s collection.

A big thank you to Faerie Magazine, Carolyn Turgeon, and Lily Lopate at HarperCollins for providing me with an advanced reader copy to review.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman: REVIEW

The Rules of Magic revisits the Owens clan- not Sally and Gillian this time, rather the eccentric aunts- Fran & Jet. The story follows the aunts and their brother Vincent as teenagers who discover their magical lineage and all the perilous adventures they have as a result. The 1960s backdrop of the novel creates a kaleidoscope of magic that twists and turns as the story unfolds. It’s less hippy star-child, and more awakened thrill seeking. Growing up in a strict household, when Franny turns 17, she receives an invitation to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt in Massachusetts (in that glorious white house we remember from Practical Magic). The three head off and are initiated into magic-by making black soap at the full moon, collecting herbs for their neighbours woes, and scrying a black mirror that shows the future. Once again the home served as a sanctuary and respite from the children’s overbearing mother who forbade magic and falling in love. One day, their spunky cousin April comes for a visit who tells them all about their ancestor- Maria Owens- who was responsible for the Owens “love curse.” As we saw with Practical Magic the Owens tend to play a dangerous game of love vs fate. Franny is cautious, Jet is passionate, and Vincent is reckless. The story takes us from their magical awakening in Massachusetts, to their adult life running an Apothecary in NYC, and to their first meeting with Sally and Gillian. Along the way we find ourselves becoming entangled in their love affairs, grieving at funerals, and soothsaying what appears to be their fated futures. It’s hard not to become emotionally involved with these characters whose innocence, determination, and risk taking, tugs at your heart strings- at times making you cry and smile.

Readers and fans of the Owens story know, that death is a frequent visitor for the Owens and The Rules of Magic are no exception. Tempting fate and risking love are the common themes throughout this story- but we see so clearly how it is loss, heartbreak, and destiny that weaves the most powerful spell of all. Alice Hoffman’s most successful achievement with both Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic is that she makes us realize that magic is not about waving a wand or dancing naked under the full moon (partially clothed will suffice), rather magic is an inherent gift we each possess- we either live our lives defeated-surrendering complete control to kismet, or we actively co-create our realities through adding a heavy dose of love to everything that comes our way. Magic is what you make of it, and as we have learned from the Owens the only rule of magic, is that magic is boundless- we create our own rules through the choices we make. A pinch of salt, some lavender, and a black cat doesn’t hurt either.

Prepare to become spellbound when this grimoire of a book becomes available for purchase October 10, 2017.

The Magic of Nature: Guest Post by Molly Ringle- Author of ‘The Goblins of Bellwater’

I can’t seem to stay away from stories of magic for long. I write real-world stories sometimes too—what the book industry calls “contemporary” fiction—but before long I tend to come back to writing a story with a supernatural element. I’ve written about ghosts, Greek gods, and, most recently in The Goblins of Bellwater, goblins and other fae.

These types of folklore have always fascinated me, even though I’ve slept many nights in supposedly haunted buildings and have never seen a ghost, and have wandered along in the most enchanting of woods and never seen a faery, and (regretfully) have never met a Greek god either. (Rather than this being any comment on their actual existence, I think I’m just unobservant and too much in my own head most of the time!) Still, something about these entities feels real to me. That isn’t surprising: after all, these are the kinds of stories humans have been telling for millennia. Every culture around the world has its ghosts, fae folk, nature spirits, and divinities, many of whom may mingle and overlap with each other depending on the local belief system.

What makes these beings interesting to me, and also what makes them excellent material for stories, is that they aren’t always good or evil. They come in a variety of behaviors (like humans), and their culture and rules may not always make sense to us (again, let’s be honest: like humans!).

In The Goblins of Bellwater, I started with the inspiration of Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market,” which tells the tale of a young woman cursed by goblins, and her sister who sets out to undo the spell. The poem makes it clear that goblins are, indeed, almost totally malevolent in the Victorian world these sisters live in, or at least mischievous. Folklore tends to agree on this assessment. Goblins are usually described as rude, thieving, and fond of causing trouble, so that’s how I wrote them. But in keeping with the notion that there are many kinds of fae in the world, I also included more benign or even helpful varieties of fae living in the forests of Washington state (where I set my version of the story), to whom the two sisters might be able to turn for help.

In doing so, they need to show proper respect for the forest and the waters—in fact, for all four of the elements: fire, water, earth, and air. I enjoyed looking around at our beautiful natural landscape here in western Washington and deciding which parts of nature would be best represented by which elements, and then giving each some faery spirits to bring them further to life. Seal-like fae swim in Puget Sound in my story, air fae in the shape of hummingbirds and moths fly through the night skies, earth gnomes and glowing creepy-crawlies dig into the soil, and fireweed fae and little wildfire-dwelling dragons emerge from the flames. It’s easy to feel fear when encountering any of them, but if my characters have demonstrated their trust and love for the land, they should know they will remain safe. That is, if they can stay out of the clutching hands of those tricksy goblins!

As my characters are reminded, we modern humans with our mostly indoor lives can easily forget how much we depend on nature. But it’s not only important to remember, it’s healthy for us. Scientific studies have found that being out in the natural world has a restorative, soothing, uplifting effect on mental health. All you have to do is go be with the trees and the fresh air, appreciate them, and of course protect them so that we can all go on benefiting from them. Sounds a little like magic, don’t you think?

Molly Ringle

 

The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle will be available for purchase on October 1, 2017. Don’t forget to pick up your copy!

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An Interview with Molly Ringle Author of The Goblins of Bellwater

I am honoured to be a part of the Launch Events for The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle. Please see an interview with Molly about her enchanting book down below. This was one of my favourite reads so far this year and I cannot recommend it enough!

Q & A With Molly Ringle
The Goblins of Bellwater

How closely did you follow Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market” as a basis for the story?
I call this a book “inspired by” Rossetti’s poem rather than saying it’s “based upon” it, because I did veer from the poem a significant amount. I first read the poem a few years ago, and it intrigued me deeply. It’s evocative and strange, and, like a fairy tale, has many symbols and events that could be interpreted as having several different meanings. My assignment to myself was to use it as a jumping-off point for a modern paranormal novel, which would then go its own way as the plot required. What I kept from the
poem was the basic surface framework: we have a pair of sisters, grown but on the young side, one of whom becomes enchanted by eating goblin fruit in the forest and begins wasting away as a result, alarming the other sister into seeking a way to save her. Since Rossetti’s poem ends with a fast-forward to the women being “wives” and telling their children about their adventures, and since I wanted to write a paranormal romance anyway, I gave my modern sister characters a pair of men to get involved
with, in a double love story with eerie angles that I think match the eeriness of the original poem. Mind you, another interpretation of the poem is that the two women aren’t really sisters but lovers, which would be a different route to take and which I think would be lovely to see too!

For those of us who haven’t been there, what is Puget Sound like and why did you choose it as a setting for a retold fairy tale?
Puget Sound is a vast area of Pacific seawater, meandering into countless inlets and coves in skinny, deep fjords left behind by glaciers. Seattle and Tacoma and Olympia lie on its shores, on some of its largest bays, but it also has many wilder and more rural shores, especially on the western side where it backs up against a huge national forest on the Olympic Peninsula. That’s the region where my grandparents bought a vacation cabin decades ago, and where my family has been going for many vacations ever
since. I can safely say it’s one of my favorite places on Earth. In order to agree, you have to enjoy a cool, rainy climate and all the thick moss and ferns and mushrooms and huge evergreens such a climate produces, and I happen to love those things. Fairy tales, at least those from Northern Europe, almost all involve a deep dark forest. That’s where the faeries, witches, werewolves, vampires, elves, and all the other interesting beings live. Everyone knows that. I haven’t spent much time in the forests of Europe (alas! I will someday), but I reckoned our Pacific Northwest deep dark forests were more than adequate for housing supernatural creatures. My grandmother used to tell us that the mossy ruins of big tree trunks in the Puget Sound forests were the homes of Teeny-tinies, whom I always took to be faeries. So I set the story there, at the edge of the Sound, where saltwater meets woods and where the Teeny-tinies live.

What is the significance of the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) in this story?
The four elements are common fixtures in many ancient cultures, and have remained popular into the modern day. One of my favorite TV shows is Avatar: the Last Airbender, which uses the four-element framework brilliantly in its world-building. In reading up on faery lore for this book, I found that scholars often classify types of fae under the four elements, and since that appealed to me, I did the same. As one of the characters in The Goblins of Bellwater muses, there’s something human and emotionally real
about looking at nature that way, even if we technically know, thanks to science, that nature contains far more than four elements. And in my novel, the only way to break the goblin spells involves respecting and trusting each of the four elements, even when they’re at their most daunting.

Why do you think fairy tale and other myth and legend re-tellings are so popular right now?
I think they’ve always been popular! Maybe it’s a case of selection bias, because I personally have always been into ghost stories, fairy tales, and other supernatural lore, but it seems to me that human culture has never stopped telling such stories. As scholars of fairy tales will tell you, reading and writing about fantasy and the paranormal may look like escapism from reality, and sometimes I tell myself that’s what
I’m doing, but in truth these stories end up giving us all the useful lessons about real life that any good stories do: empathy, courage, love, respect for nature and community, and the importance of thinking fancifully and creatively.

What are the goblins like in this book?
In keeping with both the “Goblin Market” poem and the bulk of faery lore, they are mischievous and villainous. They laugh a lot, but they are decidedly laughing at you, not with you. They steal, and in particular they lust after gold. Like other fae, they enjoy making deals with humans, but humans would be wise not to enter into such deals, as the obligation tends to be heavier than it sounds at the outset. These goblins go further than merely them, too; they assault and sometimes steal away humans and turn
them into fellow goblins, and at other times enchant them into wandering unhappily in the woods until they waste away and die. Although the goblins are sometimes amusing in their level of witty rudeness, they are nearly all amoral and highly dangerous to get involved with. Only a scant few of them, who were once humans, manage to retain any human empathy. However, not all of the fae in my book are this cruel—the goblins are the worst of the lot! Others are willing to be quite helpful to humans as long
as they are respected in return.

What kind of magic system does this book involve?
In this book, my main characters are ordinary humans who can’t do any magic, but they become involved in the dealings of the fae realm, which is a bit like another dimension. It can be entered or glimpsed by summoning the fae (which includes goblins), who might or might not answer you. But you’re luckier on the whole if they don’t, because many of them are treacherous, and the realm itself is a wilderness containing many uncanny dangers. From the point of view of the human characters, the magical rules and the cultural norms of the fae are nonsensical, almost inexplicable, but since some of
these people have fallen under curses, they have to step in among those dangers and work with the rules as best as they can anyway.

What do you find most challenging in writing a novel?
At first, it’s usually getting to know the characters. I tend to start with a general idea of who they are, but then when I begin writing, I realize there’s too much I still don’t know about these people and therefore they aren’t coming across as real yet. It slows me down in the early stages while I take breaks to write notes in which I interview them and figure them out. I also have a perennial problem with writing antagonists. They have to do fairly awful things (being antagonists and all), but I still want them to feel like real people (or other beings), and therefore I have to get into their heads and figure out why they would feel justified in doing such a thing. It’s not a comfortable place for my mind to go. I suppose that’s why I gravitate more toward romance and lightheartedness: I much prefer spending time with those who love and laugh.

What are the easiest parts of writing a novel for you?
No part of the process is exactly easy. But sometimes lines will occur to me seemingly out of nowhere when I’m writing, and they’re perfect for the moment; or I’ll find my characters talking to each other in my head when I’m not writing. And I love those moments, because for them to have come to life in my imagination like that, it means I must have done sufficient groundwork in figuring out the world and the
characters. So although the groundwork is the hard part, it pays off and leads to easier parts later!

How did the writing of this novel, a fairly short stand-alone paranormal, compare to the writing of the Persephone trilogy?
It was far simpler! The Persephone’s Orchard trilogy had dual timelines, for one thing: the ancient world in Greece, and the reincarnations of those people in the modern day. For another thing, it had far more characters, both in original and reincarnated versions. And for any series, you need to have plot arcs that stretch over the whole series as well as smaller ones that get wrapped up within each volume; and you have to keep the whole thing internally consistent in terms of mood and themes and character personalities. It turned out exhausting enough that I didn’t want to write another series again anytime soon. So I picked The Goblins of Bellwater as my follow-up project: small cast, straightforward plot, and simple timeline. Most of the action takes place within about six weeks, in this small town, which is indeed a contrast to the millennia of world-spanning events covered in the trilogy!

Would you want to live in any of the fictional magical worlds you’ve created?
Strange though it might sound, I’d love to visit the Underworld as I wrote it in Persephone’s Orchard and its sequels. I made it much less scary, for the most part, than it is in traditional Greek mythology; and besides that, I love caves and glowing things, and definitely would be interested in a ride on a ghost horse as long as an immortal was keeping me safe during it. As for the fae realm we see in The Goblins of Bellwater, I’d like to catch glimpses of it, and of the fae themselves, but I wouldn’t want to actually enter
the realm. Too perilous!

What are you writing next?
One of the genres I love, and haven’t written enough of myself, is male/male love stories, so I’ve been working on a couple of those. One is contemporary, no magic or supernatural stuff, and it’s undergoing the feedback-and-revision stage right now. Another will involve a fae realm like that of The Goblins of Bellwater, only in a new location in the world, a fictional setting I’m creating. I stoll have to figure out how
this place works and what its magic system is like, in addition to getting to know the characters, but I’m excited about the idea and it has definitely taken root in my brain.

What are the most magical places you’ve been to in real life?
Puget Sound and its surrounding forests and mountains—which is why I chose the area for the enchanted lands in The Goblins of Bellwater. Also some of the forests and meadows in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where I grew up. Oregon and Washington are both overflowing with natural beauty and I’m spoiled to have spent most of my life here. In addition, some places in Great Britain have felt quite magical to me, such as Tomnahurich (Hill of the Fairies) in Inverness, Scotland; or Old Town Edinburgh with its many close alleys and dark medieval buildings and brick-paved streets; or Westminster Abbey, not only because of its beauty and its many graves of astoundingly famous historical figures, but because when I first visited it as a 19-year-old, I’d never been in any building anywhere near that old before (having grown up in the Pacific Northwest), and it blew my mind.

The Hidden Secrets of Water by Dr. Paolo Consigli- REVIEW

A heavy read about the secrets of Water. Discussing Water from its molecular, scientific, and spiritual states was at times like reading an encyclopedia about a topic that is at its core- undefinable. Explaining Water in all these states leaves the reader with an appreciation of this elusive element. Talks on our Aquatic ancestors, big bang, dowsing, physiology, and countless others was an extremely deep and rich exploration of something that is so ingrained in our being- physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and beyond. Water is everywhere, it’s ephemeral, wise, needed, wanted, mysterious, and un-explainable. The Secret History of Water was a passionate and poetic analysis of this strange and yet beautiful substance. The more we learn about ourselves and the universe, the more we will be able to unlock more of its secrets.