Christianity and Judaism: How One Faith Became Two

The latest issue of Christian History Magazine has released with the topic, “Christianity and Judaism: How One Faith Became Two”. The entire issue explores division and reconciliation in arguably the most profound and heartbreaking expression in the history of man, religion and what is His story – that of the God of the Bible and the Father of both Christians and Jews. Here are some of the intriguing discussions from the issue:

Faith divided: How one faith became two—and how their conflict began by Eliza Rosenberg, postdoctoral teaching fellow in world religions at Utah State University

People of Torah: Rabbinic Judaism 101 by The Editors

Gentile tales: How a limited protection of Jews evolved into persecution by Miri Rubin, professor of medieval and early modern history at Queen Mary University in London

Looking for demons: “Golden mouthed” saint preached against Jews by Matt Forster, director of admissions and communications at Houston Graduate School of Theology and frequent contributor to Christian History

Larger than life: Christian thinkers Adopted Jewish symbols—but mistrusted their sources by Edwin Woodruff Tait is a Christian History contributing editor

Kabbalah: A surprising point of meeting by Harvey J. Hames, professor of history, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

“Never shall I forget”: From 1933 to 1945, Germans—some of them Christians—murdered six million Jews by Chris Gehrz is professor of history at Bethel University and coauthor of The Pietist Option.

Jews, lies, and Nazis: Did Luther pave the way for Hitler? by Eric W. Gritsch (1931–2012), Maryland Synod professor of church history at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

A land called holy: The founding of the State of Israel opened new questions for Jewish-Christian relations by Robert O. Smith is director of Briarwood Leadership Center, Argyle, TX

Nozrim and Meshichyim: Messianic Judaism combines Jewish and Christian influences, but not without controversy by Yaakov Ariel is professor in the department of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Experiencing Messianic Judaism by Paul Phelps has attended Messianic congregations both in America and in Israel. He is the father of Michael Phelps, network administrator for our sister company, Vision Video.

“Our Jewish life”: Jewish thinkers, writers, leaders, and artists with lasting impacts by Jennifer A. Boardman is a freelance writer and editor. She holds a Master of Theological Studies from Bethel Seminary with a concentration in Christian history.

Sorrow and blessing: Two theologians seek to illuminate the difficult history in this issue by Ellen T. Charry is professor emerita of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and is working on a project about Jewish-Christian relations tentatively titled “Who Is the Israel of God?” Holly Taylor Coolman is assistant professor of theology at Providence College. Her current research focuses on Christian theologies of the Jewish people.

You can read the issue here.

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Witch’s Wheel of the Year

Did you read my review of “A Practical Guide to Pagan Priesthood”? Because today’s book would be a perfect companion to it! I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of “Witch’s Wheel of the Year: Rituals for Circles, Solitaires, and Covens” by Jason Mankey, and it is a worthy read.

I don’t want to say that “Witch’s Wheel of the Year” is THE book to get if you observe Pagan holidays, but “Witch’s Wheel of the Year” IS the book to get if you observe Pagan holidays. Mankey covers Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltaine, Midsummer, Lammas, Mabon, and Samhain. Each holiday includes a ritual that is appropriate for large event gatherings, intimate family covens, and solitary practitioners. All the rituals take care to focus on inclusivity. Regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, you will find a place in Mankey’s work. The author also offers advice from his experiences, and gives you a look at how he makes these rituals his own.

I realize this is a short review, but honestly, there isn’t a lot to say. If you want to learn about and observe Pagan holidays, Mankey’s “Witch’s Wheel of the Year” is the perfect book for you.

You can learn more here.

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Reconciliation of the Heart

By Patti Ashley, Ph.D.

Current research has discovered that the heart is the regulatory organ, not the brain. In order to feel safe and secure, the head and the heart have to be in coherence. Stressful emotions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety create irregular and erratic heart beats, or what is known as an incoherent heart rhythm pattern, while positive emotions such as appreciation, care, joy, and love create highly ordered, smooth and harmonious heart beats, known as a coherent heart rhythm.

Paying attention to the heart is crucial to overall wellness. Current stressful lifestyles can leave your heart in an incoherent state. Reconciliation of the heart requires an honest inventory of your inner and outer life and a willingness to look at what might be hidden in the shadow. Psychologist Carl Jung defined the shadow as the place in the unconscious where you hide parts of yourself that appear negative to your conscious mind, fearing they may be evil or bad. When you fail to recognize these shadow aspects, they may cause you to feel and/or act in ways you don’t consciously understand.

Prior to the twentieth century, survival was the key component of daily life. Today lifespans are much longer, and we have many luxuries that our ancestors did not enjoy. With modern technology, education, medical advances, and appliances that have decreased the time needed for basic survival, we can now pay more attention to the deeper aspects of what makes us feel more whole.

Additionally, the pace of life has quickened, and we tend to want everything fast. High-speed internet, fast food, and even faster self-help practices and psychotherapies have been suggested. Faster is better. Reaching out and grasping whatever is quick and easy to fill the void and ease emotional pain is commonplace today. Addiction is rampant in our culture. The opiate epidemic affects far too many of our young adults and is a perfect example of an attempt to find a quick fix for the pain. We fear the shadow, and then we run and hide.

Since research on social/emotional needs is relatively new, many people grew up in families and schools where aspects of outdated relational practices were still in place. These rigid, shame-based patterns often resulted in a sense of inauthenticity, or a false self. Charles Whitfield, a medical doctor specializing in trauma and addiction, described in his book, Healing the Child Within, how a false self develops as a way to coverup fear and doubt, focusing on what others want. It is over-conforming, giving love only conditionally, and often covering up, hiding, and/or denying feelings. On the other hand, in an ideal environment, a child develops a sense of authenticity, separate from the needs and desires of others.

Swiss psychoanalysist Dr. Alice Miller thoroughly studied the long-terms effects of outdated practices on families and individuals and dramatically revealed how rigid rules and unrealistic expectations can create conditions where individuals are unable to develop or express their true feelings. It is eye opening to realize how the old dysfunctional patterns actually did much more harm to human development than we consciously recognize. And it is even more disheartening to know that in this educated country, many people are completely blind to these concepts.

Reconciliation of the heart is all about healing the past, present and future. Studies have shown that we are carrying 14 generations of ancestral trauma in our DNA. This means we have an extra difficult job of reconciling the broken and hidden parts. Reconciliation is defined as the action of making one view or belief compatible with another. In order to do that with your heart, you have to excavate your authentic self and learn to live a more congruent life. This requires three things:

1. Willingness to face the whole self- light and dark- knowing this is the only way to self-love. When you stop running from wounds and self-judgments, you can better acknowledge your willingness to face the shadow and be vulnerable to look at the parts of yourself that have been hidden due to fear and shame.

2. Commitment to stay the course even when it gets hard and seems emotionally intolerable. It is so easy to go back to old patterns. Making a commitment, saying yes to the process, and staying the course even when it gets tough.

3. Tenacity to take your authenticity to the next level of healing. Declaring the past is over and will no longer influence you. Staying and not running away or looking for the quick fix. Taking all the time you need to do the work that will return you to self-love and reconcile your heart.

The heart’s journey is one of reclaiming the gifts that you abandoned in order to fit in and realizing it is okay to live the authentic life you are meant to live. Reconciling what has happened, forgiving yourself and creating a new story helps bring you back to your true self. Keep in mind, this is not an easy task. Healing ancestral trauma, staying present in current emotional awareness, and building a brighter future for generations to come calls for willingness, commitment and tenacity.

Songwriters, poets, authors and other artists express themselves from the heart, often inspiring feelings of awe, curiosity and mystery. Studies have shown that creative expression rewires the brain and helps to calm the nervous system and bring the heart back into coherence. So…find something creative or fun that you love to do, and give yourself permission to explore possibilities of your authenticity and joy. Reconcile your heart, and as Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see.”’

About Dr. Patti Ashley
Dr. Patti Ashley, is about the reconciliation of the heart. This idea is all about healing our past, present and future. Dr. Patti Ashley, PH.D., LPC. is a Psychotherapist, Speaker, Authenticity Architect and Author wanting to share her message with your audiences. She is the author of “Letters to Freedom”.

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Moon Spell Magic

Sometimes you hit the jackpot. That’s what happened when Mango Publishing reached out to me about reviewing some of their books. They made a few suggestions and I said, “I’ll check out that Cerridwen Greenleaf book.” What shows up in the mail? THREE different books by the author! Crazy generous gesture, right? However, I do have a GIANT backlog of books waiting to be read for the site, and I’m already slow at producing my content. I realized as much as I would like to, I just didn’t have time to read all three books. So, I did an informal survey on The Magical Buffet’s social media as to what book I should read, the top pick was “Moon Spell Magic: Invocations, Incantations & Lunar Lore for a Happy Life.” (For those who were curious, second place went to “The Magic of Crystals & Gems”, and “Moon Spell Magic for Love” came in last.)

“Moon Spell Magic” is a delightful read. In many ways, it reminds me of some the first books about magic I read. Not heavy on rules, or strict on traditions, just pages and pages of spells. At first glance I assumed that everything magical in the book would somehow be connected to the moon, but that’s not the case at all. Greenleaf has compiled a range of magical activities addressing a variety of conditions, and then added a layer of how to use lunar phases and timing to get the most of the work on top. This makes “Moon Spell Magic” a wonderful resource for spells anyone, but an even greater resource for those who like doing their magical work after the sun sets.

There are spells and rituals for solitary practitioners as well as groups, including ideas for celebrating holidays. There is a section devoted to deities, their connections to the moon, and their spiritual correspondences. “Moon Spell Magic” has everything a beginner would be interested in, with enough variety that experienced practitioners would also find some new ideas.

You can learn more here.

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My Story is Your Story

An excerpt from The Bright Way: Five Steps to Freeing the Creative Within.
By Diana Rowan

The creative quest is one of the most thrilling journeys we can take. Yet it can also feel overwhelming at the outset. I understand this because I lost touch with my own creativity for decades.

Adrift starting around the age of ten, I only regained my bearings in my early thirties. Despite years of musical study and accomplishments, I felt as if I was clawing around in darkness for a thread of security. Those nightmarish fears performers have? You’ve already seen that I endured them in public: suffering major memory lapses onstage, throwing up before performances, feeling humiliated as I shook like a leaf in front of hundreds of people, running offstage, refusing to go onstage — among other horrors. Performance anxiety is one of the most traumatic and seemingly mysterious problems artists endure. This fear isn’t just theoretical; it was physically, emotionally, and spiritually crushing.

How did I find myself in such a predicament in the first place? My creative journey started optimistically, as many journeys do. I took up piano at age eight. My delight in playing, practicing, and generally being around the piano as much as possible made it clear right away that I would become a professional musician. Perhaps you have joyful early memories of creative encounters, too? As I entered the magical world of music, everything became hyper-real for me. Regular life seemed less vivid, less true, while the musical world bathed me in something golden, bright, eternal. I was home.

It didn’t take long for this reverie to fade. Yes, I was following my bliss, but the ride got rough, and fast. The pressure of exams, recitals, and competitions crushed the joy out of everything. I started avoiding practice, fearing lessons, agonizing over whether I had the exceptional talent to be a professional musician. Maybe you recognize some of these feelings?

Nonetheless, I persevered. I loved music; surely that was a sign that I’d been chosen as gifted? How impossibly cruel life would be if that were not so! But the fears made me doubt my abilities. Were my fears warning me that I didn’t “have it”?

I hoped the fears would fade with time, but they grew worse. The more I accomplished, the higher the stakes became. The battle was relentless. My performance anxiety infected all areas of my life. My short fuse blew small disagreements into major showdowns. I took offense at even the most innocent comments and interactions. I lost trust in my body’s ability to heal itself, became deaf to its signals, and even began to see it as my enemy. In all areas I tortured myself about the ever-present prospect of making public and private mistakes. If any of this sounds familiar to you, I send you a beam of love to fuel your courage going forward.

Casting about for a lifeline, I grappled for that treasure trove of knowledge others seemed to possess. Those in-crowd people who create and perform with joy — why was I so different from them? I needed to exit this vortex, and fast. Performances cropped up regularly. The next exam was always around the corner. And, ironically, the intensity was only going to increase as I got more accomplished. I needed to show up with confidence and inspiration, not as the pathetic figure of weakness I embodied. My ears rang and my eyes watered. I went from vortex to black hole, endlessly craving and swallowing positive feedback, which vaporized instantly. There was no relief. The pressure kept mounting. Nothing made sense. I felt the greatest of fears: that I was alone.

Finally, during my second semester as a music major at the university, I couldn’t bear it any longer. I quit music cold. I was only eighteen years old and believed the life I had hoped for was already over.

Enter the Allies
Take heart. I discovered that my allies had been gathering around me my entire life, and I’ve found this to be true for almost everyone. You have far more support eagerly waiting in the wings than you know. We’ll be finding out who and what your supports are soon. Who and what were my allies?

My parents were still college students when I was born. I enjoyed being the novelty only child among the young, wild Dublin intellectuals of the ’70s. My father became a diplomat for the Irish government when I was three, giving me the opportunity to grow up all over the world, moving countries every four years or so. I got firsthand experience of the wondrous variety of ways that cultures encourage and interpret human creativity.

This alliance of cultures illuminated new possibilities for me, which I will share with you throughout our journey together. As my creative journey matured, I learned how to incorporate these new perspectives. For example, by moving to California I encountered African music masters who introduced me to a playful freedom where “wrong” notes are understood simply as what chose to show up at that moment. Touring with ban-suri maestro Deepak Ram, I witnessed the unabashedly spiritual foundation of Indian music, where surrender to the divine is second nature. Living in Cyprus and Iraq and traveling all over the Middle East, I participated in the ecstatic communing of that region’s music, where the self, the ego, is not the focus. These were the oases I strung together to form a new continent of creativity. Eventually these diverse influences coalesced into an ethos I could live by. Each of these influences is mighty in its own right; together, they form a lifeline guiding me through today’s labyrinthine world.

Bright Way Activity: Who Supports You?
Just as my many allies have helped me, I hope to be your ally as we traverse this Bright Way together. What other allies have been quietly gathering around you? Take a moment to reflect. Who has been silently supporting you over the years? Even someone who gave you one word of encouragement counts.

When I consider my allies, I realize they all have a common quality: they are purveyors of growth. They believe we can grow and flourish at any time, any place. Limitations, as much as these sage allies acknowledge them, are treated as opportunities for growth, not permanent states or indictments. Who in your life has believed in you and pointed out your constant potential for growth? You may well have a fleet of guardian angels that you never noticed before. Write these names and energies down, for your eyes only.

During the unavoidable challenging moments this school of life throws at us, look at your list of allies and feel heartened. You may even feel inspired to deepen your relationship with them, now that they have emerged from the shadows!

If no one or nothing pops to mind, try this exercise: stand up, close your eyes, and feel your feet firmly planted on the ground. Sense each foot in complete contact with the ground. Spread your toes out confidently into the earth. Notice the implicit trust that you’ll stay rooted to the floor rather than fly off. Feel Mother Earth’s unconditional support of you, her gentle presence holding you. You don’t have to grasp for or earn this support. Simply because you are alive, Mother Earth is here as your constant ally. Gather strength from her love.

The Principle of Sacred Reciprocity
Sacred Reciprocity is a South American wisdom philosophy with parallels in most other cultures and eras. In a nutshell, Sacred Reciprocity is the force that seeks balanced relationship in all things so that healthy life can flourish.

Sacred Reciprocity represents an equal exchange of energy that is healthy and helpful for all parties involved. You’ve probably heard the phrase “everything is interconnected.” What does this actually mean? Sacred Reciprocity is an elegant way to grasp and act on the aim of honored interconnection in everyday life. The famous Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” echoes the tenets of Sacred Reciprocity. The more you look, the more you’ll find messages pointing you toward Sacred Reciprocity, hidden in plain sight. Let’s look more closely.

The scope of Sacred Reciprocity, also known as right relationship, allows it to deal in multiple currencies. That is, time and money are not the only ways to get in balance with our creative work — or anything else, for that matter.

For example, if you volunteer at a hospice center, your work benefits the patients, staff, and visitors. You benefit from the love you receive and the opportunity to practice your skill in a low-pressure environment, to name just a few of the possible gifts you receive in turn. Your volunteer work, then, satisfies a core tenet of Sacred Reciprocity, that the exchange be equally valuable to all participants. Only you can determine what equal exchange is for you. We’ll learn more about this when we discuss the practice of honoring your direct experience.

If you have a job you hate, one that drains your soul, no amount of money will make up for this. Why? Because you’re giving away too much of yourself to be in a healthy balance. Further, you’re operating from a place of fear (“What will happen if I give up this soul-crushing job and the steady paycheck that comes with it?”), fear being an additional drain.

There are many permutations of how energy comes into balance. Sacred Reciprocity gives voice to these many dimensions, freeing you up to honor what makes sense for your life both right now and in the long term.

Wisdom traditions of the world have many ways of describing what happens when Sacred Reciprocity is not respected. The original Greek and Hebrew Biblical words for “sin” are amartano and chata, respectively, which also translate as “missing the mark.” In other words, true connection has not been made, and where there is no connection, there is no love. In Hinduism the concept of karma explains how the quality of connection we make leads to either positive or negative outcomes in life. Buddhism takes this perspective: “Every action, good or bad, has an inevitable and automatic effect in a long chain of causes.” Pagan spirituality’s law of return states that what you put out into the world returns to you threefold — emotionally, physically, and spiritually — recognizing many dimensions, Sacred Reciprocity style.

Finally, you don’t have to have a spiritual outlook to live in Sacred Reciprocity: “Humanists believe that this is the only life of which we have certain knowledge and that we owe it to ourselves and others to make it the best life possible for ourselves and all with whom we share this fragile planet.” Sacred Reciprocity applies everywhere, a clear guide for our complex times.

Creativity and Sacred Reciprocity: The Fuel-Fulfillment Loop
When you’re in Sacred Reciprocity, you’re functioning from and sharing your highest self. Your true self comes from a source, however you define that mighty energy, whether as God, spirit, higher power, or life force. Your creativity gives form to this great life spirit. Given the magnitude of this, your creative urge must be fulfilled, and your message must be heard, even if by only you.

A void opens in our hearts when we ignore our creative voice. This hole often gets filled with external activities and expectations misaligned with our true selves. We fall prey to the mercy of goods, substances, and other people, immersed in fearful living. We’ve all been there and will be there again. Yet there are reliable routes out of this dead end. The Bright Way is one of these routes.

Throughout human civilization we have pondered whether the universe is friendly or hostile, or perhaps even indifferent. Living in Sacred Reciprocity, we affirm that the universe is friendly. We know the universe as our beloved collaborator, a perspective that in itself can transform our life for the better. Allow in the positive energy that wants to reach you: lower your shield of fear. Imagine yourself as a solar panel, effortlessly attracting sunny energy. This is available to you right now. We’re in this together. My story is your story. Let’s make our stories shine bright!

About Diana Rowan:
Diana Rowan is the author of The Bright Way. She is a professional harpist with an MM in classical piano performance and a PhD in music theory. She is also the founder of Bright Knowledge Guild, an online creative community that offers students around the world access to her Bright Way system. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Find out more about her work at www.DianaRowan.com.

Excerpted from the book The Bright Way. Copyright ©2020 by Diana Rowan. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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A Practical Guide to Pagan Priesthood & Giveaway

I’m blown away by today’s book, “A Practical Guide to Pagan Priesthood: Community Leadership and Vocation” by Rev. Lora O’Brien. With O’Brien’s experience she could have written any number of “sexy” books about Celtic/Irish religious and magical traditions, however she took up the far less sensational, but far more noble, topic of what it takes to be a valuable spiritual leader.

I’m always curious how new religious groups form and organize. I highly doubt most Pagan groups come together with as much forethought as Rev. O’Brien advises for their leaders. However, they should. While being respectful of each practitioner’s individuality, O’Brien provides heaps of useful suggestions and guidance for those who would want to become leaders in their Pagan communities.

She begins with the duties of a priest, which is divided into the pastoral and sacerdotal. The pastoral covers things such as self-discipline, counseling, holding yourself to high standards, keeping tabs on the community, and how to learn from mistakes. The sacerdotal includes subjects like designing rituals, handling initiation and ordination, facilitating life rites, and more spiritually oriented topics.

This leads to developing pastoral skills, such as group dynamics, accountability and ethics, leadership development, mentoring, teaching classes, and crisis care. Then it’s on to developing sacerdotal skills like connecting to deities, magical skills and the ethics of magic, etc. O’Brien concludes with an interesting, informal survey of leaders of religious communities about their practices and a wonderful list of online resources.

“A Practical Guide to Pagan Priesthood” by Rev. Lora O’Brien is a must read for anyone who considers themselves a leader and for any who aspire to lead.

You can learn more here.

Guess who has an extra copy of the great book? Guess who is going to give it away to one lucky reader? YEP! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below! Contest ends on 03/13/2020 at 11:59pm eastern.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Hoodoo Tarot

I don’t know where to begin with this review. I have received, and purchased, many tarot and oracle decks throughout the years, but I don’t think I have ever learned as much as I did from “The Hoodoo Tarot” by Tayannah Lee McQuillar.

McQuillar presents a new take on the traditional tarot, by infusing it with Hoodoo history and practices. She, with illustrator Katelan V. Foisy, present the deck as Elders, Family, and Community. The Elders represent the Major Arcana, the Family are the Court cards, and the Community is the Minor Arcana. The Tools, represented by 4 suits, like the Minor Arcana we’re familiar with, are Sticks, Baskets, Knives, and Coins.

For instance, one of my favorite cards in The Hanged Man. In “The Hoodoo Tarot” this card is represented by Gullah Jack. Info from his entry includes his Biblical reference of Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” His plant is hemp. More from the book:

Gullah Jack has a noose around his neck, but his face is serene. He has a Kongo cosmogram as his third eye.

Gullah Jack (?-1822) was a Bakongo prisoner of war who was sold into slavery in Zanzibar. He was eventually sent to Charleston, South Carolina, and purchased by a man named Paul Pritchard. Gullah Jack had a reputation as a powerful rootworker with a particular talent for making protective amulets. This may have been one of the reasons Telemaque, a.k.a. Denmark Vesey, recruited him to plan a revolt consisting of only African-born men against the colonists. Gullah Jack instructed the rebels to eat a special diet of corn and peanuts the day of the attack and provided them with crab claws as a talisman to keep them safe. He also threatened to put the root on any other slaves who spoke of the plan. Unfortunately for the rebels, the plan was betrayed, and the revolt was suppressed. All of the plotters, including Gullah Jack, were sentenced to death, but not before Gullah Jack used mysterious hand gestures, presumably to curse all of their oppressors. Gullah Jack was hanged on July 2, 1822.

This level of information is provided for EVERY CARD. Think of how much you can learn from this deck! Think of how much I learned from this deck! I learned SO MUCH. Seriously, I may curl up and reread the book again!

“The Hoodoo Tarot” by Tayannah Lee McQuillar is the perfect deck for anyone looking for a unique tarot experience, or someone who wants to learn more about Hoodoo and its history.

You can learn more here.

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In the Garden

Throughout the years I’ve reviewed many books about plants; herbalism, growing them, trees, culinary herbs, and many more perspectives. However, recently I was approached about the opportunity to review a book about plants written from a unique perspective, the Bible. “In the Garden: An Illustrated Guide to the Plants of the Bible” discusses trees and shrubs, edible plants, medicinal and aromatic plants, and flowers from the Old Testaments and New Testaments.

Why the Bible? As it’s pointed out in the introduction, “The Bible is full of metaphors that come from plant life: sowing, pruning, tending, reaping, and storing; seeds, stalks, fruit, chaff, and leaves.” That, “A study of the plants in the Bible also gives us an appreciation for the scope of the narrative of God’s people in Scripture,” and that, “a careful study of the meaning of words in the Bible brings our imaginations into worship of our King.”

So, you don’t practice a Judeo-Christian religion. Why bother with this book? Because it gives us, particularly those of us who love nature but aren’t knowledgeable in Scripture a new perspective to many plants. Each plant outlined in the book has a corresponding piece of Scripture and history of the plant. At the end, there’s even some ideas for growing your own Biblically inspired garden!

“In the Garden” is 128 pages of beautiful full-color illustrations by Becky Speer in a slim hardcover format. This would make a lovely coffee table book and an excellent gift for anyone who is intrigued by plants.

You can learn more here.

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The Magic of Marie Laveau

If you’ve followed me and my adventures here at The Magical Buffet, you know that I dabble all over the spiritual and magical landscape. I’ve only ever had one rule, don’t f*ck around with Voodoo. Not because I thought Voodoo was scary or evil or any other lazy media nonsense, but because my rudimentary understanding led me to see that the devotional relationship between practitioners and their deities was hardcore, very transactional, and if you didn’t pay what you owed, you got the spiritual beatdown. Essentially, not a practice designed for lazy, build your own spirituality/magic types like me. All that said, I’ve always loved learning about Voodoo, and my most favorite thing of all is reading about religious leaders and magical practitioners. That made “The Magic of Marie Laveau: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans” by Denise Alvarado a must read.

What a fantastic book! Marie Laveau lived and flourished as a businesswoman and Voodoo leader during this perfect era of some record keeping, but not enough to diminish the magic and legend building that can take place in history when historical documentation is scarce. This gives Alvarado a chance to provide scholarly research, fantastical legend, and the space to use both to make some educated guesses to fill in gaps. The first part of the book is devoted to exploring the life of Marie Laveau from birth to the Laveau style of New Orleans Voodou that is still practiced today. At this point Marie Laveau is treated as an elevated ancestor at minimum, all the way up that ladder to full blown loa, with shrines devoted to her in New Orleans and other locales. I could have a book three times the length just about Laveau. Her life is a fascinating one to read about, and Alvarado does an excellent job of making her academic research an accessible and entertaining read.

The second part of “The Magic of Marie Laveau” is about becoming a devotee of Laveau, and what it entails; creating an altar, or altars, to her, how to petition her, and how to develop a relationship with her. The third, and final part of the book, is all about the MAGIC of Marie Laveau. Alvarado takes her academic research from elders of the New Orleans community and nineteenth-century newspaper articles and follows those to the modern-day practitioners of Laveau Voodou, to define 12 types of Laveau Voodou magical workings. For those of you who are curious, they are: bottle spells and container spells, candle magick, Catholic conjure, coffin conjure, death conjure, fetishism (doll baby conjure and ju ju), front porch conjure, graveyard work, magick lamps, supplications, and water rituals.

After reading this book, I’m inclined to still maintain my “don’t f*ck with Voodoo” philosophy. However, when it comes to Marie Laveau, well that’s a different kettle of fish. I feel she could happily live on my already existent home goddess altar. Marie Laveau fits right in with the other goddesses I venerate. “The Magic of Marie Laveau” by Denise Alvarado is a fantastic and inspiring look at the undisputed Queen of Voodoo.

You can learn more here.

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Crystal Basics

Say hello to truly the only book on crystals you’ll ever need, “Crystal Basics: The Energetic, Healing & Spiritual Power of 200 Gemstones” by Nicholas Pearson. At this point Pearson has already established himself as THE crystal expert. His past books, such as “Crystals for Karmic Healing”, “Crystal Healing for the Heart”, and “Stones of the Goddess” all explored a specific facet (no pun intended) of crystals. Long has his fan base (which includes myself) clamored for the crystal basics book that Pearson himself wasn’t sure he was ever going to write.

But it is here, in all its glory. Pearson’s “Crystal Basics” is a constant reminder that working with crystals is an art, and a science. If you want to learn about crystals, and I mean really learn, like geology class learn, this is for you. How are crystals formed? What are they made of? How are they classified? There is also a decent chunk of text dedicated to exploring the possibilities of how crystals work. A well thought out, well written exploration that includes an examination of the human energy field.

How to start a collection of crystals, including ethical sourcing, is covered, along with their care and upkeep. There are so many ways to use crystals to aid yourself and help others, and you find it all in here. You’ll learn how to create crystal grids and elixirs, ways to cleanse with crystals, their abilities to help with grounding, and just so much more. Better still, there’s a section dedicated to 200 crystals and stones for healing. And why yes, the whole book is full color.

“Crystal Basics” by Nicholas Pearson is destined to be a classic. I can’t imagine what crystal mountain is left for Pearson to climb, but I cannot wait to find out.

You can learn more here.

Shop your local indie bookstore<--- This is an affiliate link to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Do you enjoy The Magical Buffet? Considering supporting The Magical Buffet on Patreon! For only $5 a month you’ll receive monthly tarot/oracle forecasts, classes, and behind the scenes updates! https://www.patreon.com/magicalbuffet