Yemaya

If you know me, or follow The Magical Buffet on social media, you know I am a lady, who loves worshipping ladies. Aka, I worship the divine feminine in a multitude of her aspects. Knowing this, you’d know why I was thrilled to get a review copy of “Yemaya: Orisha, Goddess, and Queen of the Sea” by Raven Morgaine.

At the core of an outsiders understanding, Yemaya is a goddess of the ocean in Caribbean and African spiritualities. However, anyone familiar with deities know that there is always more to them than what you see at first glance, and Morgaine does an excellent job weaving research and personal experience to flesh out a deity still unknown to many. Depending on her aspect, Yemaya can be a kind giver of life, maternal, a magician, a diviner, or vengeance. Morgaine carefully explains all of this, along with sharing myths and legends of the deity. The author concludes with the ways to include Yemaya in your spiritual practices. Throughout the text you’ll see beautiful artwork done by the author.

Raven Morgaine should write every book about individual deities from here on out. His attention to the nuances of Yemaya is a testament to his skills as a writer, but also his relationship with Yemaya as a devotee. Would he be able to pull this off examining a different deity? I wouldn’t mind finding out. This is a must read for anyone interested in goddesses.

You can learn more here.

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The Peaceful Protectors

I haven’t heard a lot about coloring books lately. Remember when the marketplace seemed to be flooded with them? Personally, I was sad to see the trend die down. Coloring is a wonderful creative outlet for people like me that love visual arts and are not good at creating them. Which is a polite way to say I can’t draw, okay?

It’s why I was delighted when a publicist reached out to me about “The Peaceful Protectors: Coloring Collection” by Real Weng. She is a freelance artist originally from Taiwan and she has created a beautiful coloring book based on Asian mythology. “The Peaceful Protectors” is 64 pages and features 15 mythical characters turned into 30 floral integrated unique coloring pages and an additional introduction page of the specific character with each image hand drawn by Real Weng.

The artwork is beautiful, and more importantly, done in a way conducive to an enjoyable coloring experience. Hopefully, you’ve never experienced the annoyance of a coloring book that doesn’t accommodate for a person trying to color in the picture. I have, it sucks.

There is no denying that this would be a fantastic holiday gift. You can learn more here.

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Superstitions in the United States

Everyone has some superstitions. Depending on the culture you or your family grew up with, where you live in the world, spiritual beliefs, etc., they can vary greatly. So, when an odd press release came into my inbox regarding superstitions in the United States, my interest was piqued.

Turns out a clever publicist for the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino put together a little report about superstitions in every U.S. state as a tie in for St. Patrick’s Day. Sadly, my email filter shunted it to a spam folder, so by the time I discovered it, St. Patrick’s Day had passed. On the other hand, as I explained to the publicist, my readers would have an interest in this subject matter regardless of time of year. You are interested, aren’t you?

Yeah, you are. And although this is hardly scientific and certainly doesn’t cover all the superstitions out there (but does cover a lot), it is still an interesting read. According to their report, their methodology was:

Using the Google AdWords platform, we analyzed search volume trends for more than 200 terms related to superstitions associated with both good luck and bad luck. The results represent the most disproportionately popular terms in every state. In February 2021, we also surveyed 1,016 Americans between the age of 18 – 75 to ask them about their belief in superstitions. 60% were female and 40% were male and the average age of respondents was 38.

A brief overview of what they learned was the most popular superstitions in America are: throwing salt over your shoulder, bad luck comes in threes, lucky rabbit’s foot, Friday the 13th, and ladybugs being a sign of good luck. 65% of Americans are superstitious. 83% believe in good luck, 50% believe in bad luck. 37% of Americans believe Friday the 13th brings bad luck. 34% of Americans believe St. Patrick’s Day is a luck day. Nearly double that amount (60%) say they wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

You can see the full report here.


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Dark Goddess Tarot

In a spiritual practice that at best could be described as “hodge podge”, one of the only cohesive aspects is my adoration of the divine feminine. I’m particularly drawn to goddesses that are misunderstood or viewed as negative. Enter “Dark Goddess Tarot” by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, a deck that feels custom made for me.

From the introduction, “Dark goddesses are disturbing, fearsome, and beautiful. They can be shunned or overlooked, as they represent aspects of life that people find uncomfortable – sometimes only when those powers are in female hands. Powers of age and death, sex and sovereignty, ferocity and judgement. Of magic, mystery, and transformation. Of suffering and shadow.”

Lorenzi-Prince takes a female forward approach to the traditional 78 card tarot deck. A goddess or mythical female figure is featured on every card, including the minor arcana. Although the suits are changed to fire, water, air, and earth, with the court cards changing from page, knight, queen, and king into amazon, siren, witch, and hag respectively.

“Dark Goddess Tarot” first released in 2013, several years before inclusivity had become not just an idea, but a necessity in the spiritual space. Considering that, Lorenzi-Prince has done an excellent job representing multiple cultures in a respectful fashion. I’ll resist the urge to share every female from the deck, but there’s Kali, Isis, Ishtar, Baba Yaga, Santa Muerte, Tlazolieotl, Spider Woman, Tsonokwa, Baubo, and so many more. The artwork for the deck is noteworthy too, with Lorenzi-Prince not only creating the deck, but creating all the art for it too!

“Dark Goddess Tarot” by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince is an excellent exploration of the divine feminine. A noteworthy addition to any tarot collection.

You can learn more here.

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Entering Hekate’s Garden

There is a lot to unpack in Cyndi Brannen’s book, “Entering Hekate’s Garden: The Magick, Medicine & Mystery of Plant Spirit Witchcraft.” Hekate and her children, pharmakeia, pharmakoi, and more abound in this lyrically beautiful, yet imminently practical text. Ready to dive in?

If you read this website, you’re probably already familiar with Hekate, but just in case, Hekate is the Greek goddess best known for magic, witchcraft, and plant knowledge. Brannen draws on Hekate’s history with magic and plants to update the practice of pharmakeia, plant spirit witchcraft and educating others on pharmakoi, master plant spirits.

Brannen deftly shows all the ways to incorporate plants into every facet of your practices, ranging from incense to servitors and tarot to tea. “Entering Hekate’s Garden” does what quality books of its kind should, inspire to start experimenting with what is found within it. Whether you’re seeking the goddess, or looking for inspiring ways to work with plants, “Entering Hekate’s Garden” by Cyndi Brannen will be a satisfying read.

You can learn more here.

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Finding Faeries

I never get tired of dictionaries/encyclopedias/guidebooks about mythological or cryptozoological creatures. That said, there are no shortage of books like that out there to read. What IS a different, and offers a unique take on the subject, is “Finding Faeries: Discovering Sprites, Pixies, Redcaps and Other Fantastical Creatures in an Urban Environment” by Alexandra Rowland.

“Finding Faeries” explores creatures of folklore and what happens when those legends migrate to new lands and urban environments. They discuss everything from faeries to black dogs, and Thunderbirds to dryads. Rowland does an excellent job blending tales of the past with the realities of the present. Their writing style is informative and entertaining, and throughout the book are wonderful illustrations by Miles Äijälä. Just when you think you are done; you are given instructions on how to go out in the world with a fresh set of eyes to find the magic around you.

“Finding Faeries” is actuality quite the achievement. Entertaining and informative, while being sensitive to the assorted cultures involved and emphasizing the importance of environmental conservation.

You can learn more here.

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The Pagan Book of the Dead

Didn’t I just publish a review of a Claude Lecouteux book? Yes, yes, I did. There is already another book? Yes, yes, there is. Is it too much? No, no, it isn’t. Theoretically, you can have too much of a good thing, like fried food or sugar (not that I reign that in). However, when it comes to Lecouteux, you can NEVER have too much of a good thing, and his latest, “The Pagan Book of the Dead” is a very good thing.

“The Pagan Book of the Dead” explores the afterlife from a variety of cultures and sources and how it evolved. Medieval Christian depictions of the afterlife were apparently the English-speaking world’s first torture porn. I have trouble handling horror (movies or books) and dude, the crazy ways a soul could be tortured was/is messed up! Rarely did I see anything about heaven, occasionally I would read about forgiveness, but primarily, that afterlife is all about torture. And although medieval Christianity takes the taco for discussing afterlife as primarily torture, they don’t own the exclusive rights to unhappily ever afters. In fact, one of the biggest features of “The Pagan Book of the Dead” is that unlike most of Lecouteux’s books, which focus on English, French, and German texts, this book also has texts from Arab countries, Nicaragua, and Asia. Believe me, they can be just as judgmental and punitive.

Which highlights one of the things I loved about this book, which is not only its inclusion of other cultures, but other formats. Along with the traditional tales (fairy or otherwise) you have come to expect, Lecouteux also features Gypsy folktales and songs as sources. With these extra inclusions he crafts an even better tapestry of the interconnectedness of our stories and the universality of many of our themes and symbols.

I am not 100% certain, but “The Pagan Book of the Dead” MAY be my new favorite Claude Lecouteux book.

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.

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Travels to the Otherworld and Other Fantastic Realms

If you’ve been a reader of The Magical Buffet for any time at all, you know that I am a lady that LOVES herself some Claude Lecouteux. He has written numerous books about medieval beliefs and magic (many that have been reviewed on this website!). This time he, and his co-editor Corinne Lecouteux, are exploring the various realms of the medieval world with “Travels to the Otherworld and Other Fantastic Realms.”

In the introduction the Lecouteuxs (Lecouteuxes? Lecouteuxi?) explain that as you might expect, distance traveling in medieval times was dangerous business. Obviously, people wanted to hear about it, but instead of dry travelogues, people wrote tales of adventure and romance in these mystical distant lands. From the introduction, “To come alive, the stories need heroes whose epic deeds – real or legendary – have left their mark in human memory. While some of these figures like King Arthur, Roland, Siegfried, and Melusine have survived in popular consciousness, how many others are no longer remembered at all today!

Travelers’ tales open up an unusual world for us; they allow us to discover mythic geography and meet people from the far ends of the earth. In its own way, each tale reflects the reactions of the human being when faced with the unknown. The letters of Alexander of Macedonia to his mother Olympias and his teacher Aristotle are a perfect example of this. Out of these letters emerge alarming creatures of unparalleled strangeness.

But journeys did not only take place in this world. In the Middle Ages, with its profound Christian imprint, the protagonists could also make their way into the Otherworld, the land of Faery; this is the case with Thomas of Erceldoune (also known as Thomas the Rhymer) or Guerrin Meschino.”

“Travels to the Otherworld and the Fantastic Realms” presents tales of traveling to the end of the Earth, traversing the globe in the name of love and/or vengeance, seeing the fires of Hell, and more! Along with these stories are rare illustrations from manuscripts and chapbooks.

If you want to voyage to ancient, magical places, “Travels to the Otherworld and Other Fantastic Realms” by Claude and Corinne Lecouteux is a beautiful resource.

You can learn more here.

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Horse Magick

Full disclosure, I am not a fan of horses. It’s not like I actively hate them, I just don’t have that gushing adoration that so many people have for them. As a little girl, I never went through a “horse phase”. I didn’t even go crazy for unicorns until my late teens/early twenties when I learned more about them. (Specifically, that they could be beautiful killers. The murdering unicorns are the ONLY reason to watch the movie “Cabin in the Woods”.)

So, why on earth did I agree to read “Horse Magick: Spells and Rituals for Self-Empowerment, Protection, and Prosperity” by Lawren Leo with Domenic Leo? Honestly, I could not tell you why. What I can tell you is that I am glad I did!

Each chapter features a horse drawn from a wonderfully curated collection of examples in religion, folklore, and history. After the example you will find a spell or ritual associated with or inspired by the example. The spells are clearly written and well thought out, being sure to list supplies at the start. And, if you’re a nerd like me, the BEST part is at the end of each chapter there is a list of additional resources! I don’t if it was the authors or the publisher who made the decision to do this, but I hope to see more books going forward contain this feature.

Along with the spells and rituals, “Horse Magick” also has a chapter devoted to “Equine Dreams”. This is essentially a horse-based dream dictionary. If you dream of horses in any scenario, you will probably find a meaning for it in there.

Did Lawren and Domenic Leo convert me into a horse lover? No. Did they create a compelling collection of folklore and magic that I basically read straight through in a day because it was so interesting? Yes.

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.

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Medusa is My Homegirl

When you’re young in school studying mythology the only thing you learn about Medusa is that she was a monster whose gaze would turn living things to stone that Perseus killed for, reasons. And then Perseus chops off Medusa’s head and uses it as a weapon. At least that is as involved as it got when I went to school. However, there is more to Medusa than that. A complex background that I feel makes Medusa more of a martyr than a monster.

Medusa was once a mortal woman. In one story, Medusa was a beautiful woman that the goddess Minerva feared was more attractive than she. To assure her status, Minerva turned her into a creature with hissing snakes for hair. Once Perseus was done with Medusa’s head, he gave it to Minerva who put it on her shield. In an even more messed up version, the beautiful Medusa was raped by Poseidon in a temple dedicated to Athena. This so enraged Athena that she turned Medusa into the snake-haired monster whose gaze turned living things to stone. No matter which way you slice it, Medusa was a victim.

Eventually, we get to Perseus, the guy who slew Medusa. King Polydectes sends Perseus to retrieve the head of Medusa because the King wants to marry Perseus’s mother, which is some royal logic I don’t understand. Some versions mention Medusa laying waste to the country. A country that branded her a monster because she was punished for being attractive and a victim of rape. In case all of this isn’t messed up enough for you, some of these stories say Medusa was pregnant with Poseidon’s child when she was killed. It’s all good though, because Medusa’s blood produced the Pegasus, a mythological creature I can never look at the same with this knowledge.

I hope this has caused you to reconsider Medusa’s place within the divine feminine. If you don’t want to include her in your divine pantheon, I do hope you will at least no longer consider her a monster.

If this article moved you, I encourage you to check out my “Medusa is my Homegirl” line of merchandise! You can find it all here.

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