Beyond the North Wind

When I requested a review copy of “Beyond the North Wind: The Fall and Rise of the Mystic North” by Christopher McIntosh I thought I was getting another general overview of the Norse religion and maybe some rune talk. What I got is so much more!

McIntosh discusses “the North” from every perspective imaginable. Its physical locales, its mystical realm, its past populations and current residents, and their belief systems.

“Beyond the North Wind” spends a lot of time discussing Hyperborea, a land from Greek mythology that was home to a race of giants who lived “beyond the North Wind”. The Greeks thought that Boreas, the god of the North Wind lived in Thrace, and therefore Hyperborea indicates that it is a region beyond Thrace. Unbeknownst to me, Hyperborea is much like Atlantis. There’s much discussion of whether it was a real place, if it is a real place, was it the same as Atlantis and/or other ancient mythological lands, etc. It’s interesting to see all the theories, far-fetched or not, about a land that’s entirely new to me.

McIntosh bookends the ancient past and mythological with a nice survey of the resurgence of the North in popular culture: television shows, comic books, music, and of course everything Thor. Not to mention the adoption of many of their spiritual practices among modern citizens around the globe. Vikings and runes of old, now new again.

Christopher McIntosh has presented a thoughtful overview of the North that I would encourage anyone to check out.

The author has a short video for the book you can watch below.

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.

Self-Love through the Sacred Feminine

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of goddesses, and so I’ll admit the main reason I wanted to check out Jo Jayson’s “Self-Love through the Sacred Feminine” was because the cover art was beautiful and the subtitle is “A Guide through the Paintings & Channelings of Jo Jayson”. I figured a book full of art like what was on the cover was worth a look.

“Self-Love through the Sacred Feminine: A Guide through the Paintings & Channelings of Jo Jayson” is a thoughtful exploration of what it is to identify as a woman. Jayson explores the lives/folklore and wisdom of Guinevere: The Queen, Mariamne of Magdala: The Magdalene, Brighid: Mother Goddess of Ireland, Isis: One Who is All, Mary: The Mother, Jeanne D’Arc: Maid of Orleans, Miriam: The Prophetess, Guan Yin: Mother of Compassion and Mercy, Morgan Le Fey: The Water Spirit, Artemis: Maiden of The Hunt, Kali Ma: The Dark Mother, Inanna: Star of Heaven and Earth, and Grandmother Spider: The Weaver.

First and foremost, the artwork is BEAUTIFUL! The book is hardcover with full color glossy pages, perfect for showcasing Jayson’s work. Each entry includes a brief history lesson and what we can learn from them. There is also a prayer and then some exercises you can work through. “Self-Love through the Sacred Feminine” is equal parts artbook, workbook, and history lesson. It’s wonderful book!

You can learn more here.

Joseph Campbell: Correspondence 1927-1987

I’d like to think everyone knows who Joseph Campbell is, but just in case, here’s the briefest of biographies. Campbell was probably the person most responsible for bringing the discussion of mythology into popular culture. He’s the author of “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” and the four-volume “The Masks of God”. His ability to find the universality in myth and religion and convey them to the average person makes him an individual who will always be remembered.

With that in mind you’ll understand why I was excited to read “Joseph Campbell: Correspondence 1927-1987”. This is a never before available collection of written conversations between Campbell and some amazing people, such as Alan Watts, Bill Moyers, Thomas Mann. These letters give insight into Campbell’s relationships, life, and influence on others. Alongside the correspondence are plenty of great photos.

Obviously, the correspondence is the star of the show, but it should be noted the introduction features a wonderful biography of Campbell. It provides all the background you need to understand and enjoy the letters that follow.

To learn more, visit here.

Gods and Monsters

I am a sucker for packaging and formatting. Because of this, I am a sucker for Rockpool Publishing’s Supernatural Series. You may remember that in 2017 I reviewed “Witches and Wizards” by Lucy Cavendish, and in that review, I said, “This book is going to last, and better still it says, ‘The Supernatural Series Book One’ at the top. This hopefully means I can look forward to a shelf full of these attractive and interesting books.”

I now have two more attractive and interesting books from the series! These two have much in common with “Witches and Wizards”. Both are in the compact hardcover format that I loved with the previous book. Both have beautiful cover art and nice black and white illustrations throughout them. And both are big picture, general overviews, of subjects that could have books devoted to just one entry.

First up we have “Monsters and Creatures: Discover Beasts from Lore and Legends” by Gabiann Marin. This sucker discusses just about any creature you can think of! You’ll find well known creatures, like dragons, mermaids, werewolves, and centaurs. Marin also has loaded “Monsters and Creatures” with tons of lesser known creatures, such as kappas, pookas, kinnaris, and drop bears. (I would tell you about them, but shouldn’t you just buy the book?) At 196 pages it doesn’t go in depth with any of them, but “Monsters and Creatures” offers a great starting point.

The other book, “Gods and Goddesses: The Rise of Divine Mythologies”, also by Gabiann Marin, follows a similar format. Marin discusses deities with origins in Greece, Egypt, China, Rome, and more. However, she doesn’t just discuss deities of the past, but their existence in modern times. Again, it doesn’t go into great detail, but it’s a fabulous starting point.

If you’re looking to learn more about these books, visit here.

The Heart of the Goddess

“The Heart of the Goddess: Art, Myth and Meditations of the World’s Sacred Feminine” by Hallie Iglehart Austen was originally published in 1990, but Austen felt the time was right to bring it back.

She’s right. In this time of #resistance, Austen’s look at universal spiritual feminism is right on the mark. Respect for the earth, community building, and reclaiming the power womanhood all blend together in “The Heart of the Goddess”. Instead of your typical who’s who of female deities, Austen discusses each goddess from the perspective of a piece of artwork featuring the deity. This allows for a discussion of the origin of the art (geography and date) and with it, the history and culture surrounding the goddess.

To make “The Heart of the Goddess” a spiritual journey for the reader, the deities are collected into 3 parts: Creation, Transformation, and Celebration. Along the way Austen presents meditations, prayers, and thought exercises with the goddesses.

Regardless of how many books you own or have read about goddesses, I guarantee you that you’ve never encountered anything like this. Informative, spiritual, and filled with art pieces from antiquity to contemporary times, “The Heart of the Goddess” is, and will remain, a classic.

Learn more here.

The Hidden History of Elves & Dwarfs

It’s no secret that I love me some Claude Lecouteux. Trust me when I say that his latest book, “The Hidden History of Elves & Dwarves: Avatars of Invisible Realms” showcases what he does best…. connecting the dots.

Whereas generally he uses his “gift for comparing cultures, for suddenly making an unexpected leap, but perfectly pertinent to the train of thought”, as Régis Boyer points out in the foreword. This time much of the focus is on the mystery of who is Auberon? By tracing this character’s existence in French, Norse, and Germanic tales we learn much about the difference and similarities of dwarfs and elves throughout time and cultures. What you come away with is that things back then were much more fluid, particularly in terms of physical appearance, than what you find in today’s Dungeons & Dragons books.

Of course, at the heart of every Lecouteux book is the eventual encroachment of Christianity and how it effects these original legends. As expected, the originals, if they remain are perverted versions of how they began their lives. Some also disappear, only to reappear in some new context. And if you’re like me, you sometimes try to revive the legend in its original context.

If you’re familiar with Lecouteux and like his work, this is one of his best. If you are not familiar with him, this is a great entry point.

You can learn more here.

A Short Story and a BIG Giveaway!

So…. remember back in October when The Magical Buffet was celebrating 10 years of existence? And how New World Library and Inner Traditions generously donated 2 of my all-time favorite books for a giveaway for the occasion? What you didn’t know is that I also reached out to Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing for a giveaway as well. Llewellyn said hey, instead of one book you like, why not let us send you multiple copies of 4 of our newest releases? I was like, heck yeah! Send them over!

This was mid-September and I patiently waited for the books. And waited. And waited. October came and went, and nothing. However, I was like, Llewellyn is so big and busy, I won’t bother them. Then late November I got a call from FedEx Ground. They had a package they had been trying to deliver for a while, but they suspected I moved. The address on the package wasn’t my previous address, it was the one BEFORE that one! Yet somehow the professionals at FedEx tracked me down and got the box of books to me! FedEx, you the best!

Which is why the 10th Anniversary giveaway train is about to leave the station one more time! Let’s call it The Magical Buffet 10th Anniversary/Holiday Season Giveaway Courtesy of Llewellyn! It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

What’s being given away? (descriptions from Llewellyn website)

“Traditional Wicca: A Seeker’s Guide” by Thorn Mooney.
While there are many powerful variations of contemporary Witchcraft, traditional Wicca offers unique experiences for those who seek it out. This book explores structured, coven-based styles of Wicca, in which the practitioners typically trace initiatory lineages back to Wicca’s early founders. Discussing covens, initiations, lineages, practices, ethics, and more, “Traditional Wicca” shares tips and ideas on how to get the most from this profound approach to Witchcraft.

Discover how to recognize healthy, reputable covens. Learn how to navigate the process of asking for training and succeeding in an outer court. Explore the spiritual strength of lineages, hierarchies, and initiation. This book also includes contributions from several practitioners, providing valuable first-person perspectives on what it’s like to be on the traditional Wiccan path.

“Essential Oils for Emotional Wellbeing: More Than 400 Aromatherapy Recipes for Mind, Emotion, and Spirit” by Vannoy Gentles Fite.
Throughout the ages, essential oils have been used to address a wide variety of mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. Bring this ancient knowledge into your modern life with “Essential Oils for Emotional Wellbeing”. Featuring more than 400 step-by-step recipes, this comprehensive guide makes it easy for you to take control of your wellness and spiritual journey. These recipes come in many forms, including:
• Bath and Shower Bombs
• Bath Salts
• Lotions
• Ointments
• Diffuser Scents
• Powders
• Rubs
• Salves
• Sprays
• Lip Balms
• Massage Oils
• Inhalants
It’s simple to find the recipes you need with this book’s well-organized categories based on conditions, emotions, needs, desires, and devotion. Learn about therapeutic properties, warnings, storage, and using essential oils for specific issues. With Vannoy Gentles Fite’s guidance, you’ll be able to use these gifts from the earth to benefit every aspect of your life.

“The Orphic Hymns: A New Translation for the Occult Practitioner” by Patrick Dunn.
The Orphic hymns are fascinating historical artifacts—87 devotions, invocations, and entreaties to the Greek gods that are as potent today as they were when they were originally developed nearly two thousand years ago. Designed to be used in contemporary spiritual practice and spellcrafting, this premium hardcover edition features spectacular new English translations by Patrick Dunn along with the original Greek on facing pages.

These translations are complete, accurate, and poetic—perfect for integrating into rituals and magical workings for every conceivable purpose, from protection to prosperity and everything in between. Written by a poet and occultist specifically for contemporary practitioners of magic, this must-have book also includes detailed notes to help you understand esoteric passages as well as suggestions for incense selection and the practical use of the hymns.

“The Orphic Hymns” also includes Thomas Taylor’s eighteenth-century translation as an appendix, an index of purposes, and a concordance with a glossary, a pronunciation guide, mythic backgrounds, and cross references of every deity and place named in the hymns.
These new translations of the Orphic hymns are powerful tools for magic and devotion. In addition to the translations of the 87 hymns, you will discover helpful notes and techniques for integrating the hymns into your practice.

“Carl Llewellyn Weschcke: Pioneer and Publisher of Body, Mind & Spirit” by Melanie Marquis.
To the countless people he inspired, Carl Llewellyn Weschcke will forever be known as the Father of the New Age. This vivid and entertaining book tells Carl’s story, from a childhood influenced by his Spiritualist grandfather to his early days as a member and president of the Minnesota NAACP. Discover the fascinating account of how he transformed Llewellyn Publications from a small publisher of astrology pamphlets into the largest and most important publisher of body, mind, and spirit literature. Read about Carl’s relationships with the most influential thinkers and teachers of the counterculture, and his public Wiccan handfasting and enduring relationship with his wife, Sandra. Written by longtime friend Melanie Marquis—and including photos and contributions from authors, artists, family, friends, and collaborators—this is a book that looks back at the kindling of a movement while empowering fellow travelers on their journey forward.

How can you win all of this? Glad you asked. You have from now until 11:59PM eastern December 24, 2018 to enter. That’s right, the winners will be announced on Christmas Day! Due to the sheer size and weight of the prize packages this giveaway is only open to those living in the United States. Don’t worry, I have many more giveaways lined up and those will be open internationally. Now, just do what the nice Rafflecopter widget asks and you’ll be entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Witches & Wizards

You may remember when I wrote about “Human Tribe” I suggested that perhaps it’s my nosy nature but I’m always curious about people. Let me add that I’m particularly interested in the lives of historic magical practitioners, which is why when offered the chance to read “Witches and Wizards: The Real-life Stories Behind the Occult’s Greatest Legends” by Lucy Cavendish I jumped at the chance.

Let me start with, any of the subjects in “Witches and Wizards” is worthy of a whole book unto themselves. Many of them do have whole books dedicated to them! However something about the mix of types and eras makes for an interesting “big picture” look at magical practitioners that shaped our world. Inside you’ll read about Merlin, Aleister Crowley, Doreen Valiente, John Dee, the witches (or not witches) of Salem, Massachusetts and of course more.

I hate to sound like a total book nerd, but I also love the physical format of the book too. It’s small, hardcover with no slip cover, just a cover with beautiful cover art on it. This book is going to last, and better still it says, “The Supernatural Series Book One” at the top. This hopefully means I can look forward to a shelf full of these attractive and interesting books.

You can learn more about “Witches and Wizards” here.

Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings

I’m just going to say it, I love Varla Ventura. At this point I’m pretty much down for whatever she’s got going on. You may remember that I loved her previous books “Among the Mermaids: Facts, Myths, and Enchantments from the Sirens of the Sea” and “Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires and Other Creatures of the Night: Facts, Fictions, and First-Hand Accounts”, and I’m happy to say she has added another one to her series of creature collections.

“Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings: A Complete Guide to the Wild and Wicked Enchanted Realm” is Ventura’s latest. This book is fantastic. The author’s enthusiasm for the subject matter is obvious as she relates assorted tales from folklore. I always love how she unearths the more obscure creatures for these books. In this one you’ll find fairies, pookas, and changelings (of course). You’ll also read about bonga, trolls, coblyns, brownies, and even Rumpelstiltskin! There’s even a section on methods for entering the fairy realm, an action the author does not advice taking lightly.

As always Ventura pulls no punches, letting the darkness around the edges of the fay be on full display. There will be no Disney fairies found in this book. However if you’re looking for an interesting guide to all the creatures the Wild has to offer, “Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings” is the book for you.

You can learn more here.