Favorite Things 2018

It’s that magical time when I share my favorite things of the year. Everything has been featured on my site in one form or another in 2018, so even though an item released in 2017, it can end up on this list, and trust me, there are several things that came out in 2018 that will probably end up on 2019’s list. In a slightly more accurate world this would be the last article of the year, however I hope this list gives you some gift ideas, so I like to publish it when you still have time to purchase items for the holidays. Without further ado, and in no particular order, I give you my favorite things of 2018.

“Queen Up! Reclaim Your Crown When Life Knocks You Down: Unleash the Power of Your Inner Tarot Queen” by Angela Kaufman. Kaufman manages to make complex archetypal concepts simple and memorable using one of my favorite things…. tarot cards! Read my interview with the author here.

“Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive” by Kristen J. Sollee. This belongs in the list just for its badass cover. It inspired me to finally try out black lipstick (spoiler alert, it’s awesome). The book is also awesome. Three labels that society apply to women, their history, and how women are reclaiming them for the better. Check out my review here.

Christian History Magazine. I’ve featured Christian History Magazine on the site twice in 2018, and with good reason, it’s a great resource. And it’s free! No proselytizing, just raw, uncut history. Read my write up of their “Food & Faith” issue here.

“Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump” by Gary Lachman. A rollicking look at the potential influence of Chaos Magick in the ascension of Trump. You can read my interview with the author here.

“The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial” by Elizabeth Fournier. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you, or anyone you know, plans on dying, this is a must read. Check out my review here.

“Tarot Made Simple: The Ultimate Guide to Casting Spreads and Reading the Cards” by Liz Dean. There a zillion of guides to tarot out there, but “Tarot Made Simple” has a unique format that sets it apart from its peers. See what I’m talking about here.

“Calling All Earthlings”. One of the best documentaries I’ve seen. The story of George Van Tassel has it all: has it all, aliens, Howard Hughes, free energy, the FBI, Tesla, the military, and a death…or possibly murder. Read my review here.

A little self promotion folks. I came up with some cool statements that you can purchase on assorted t-shirts, mug, pint glass, tote bag, and journal! I’m kind of proud, so consider showing me some love by picking up something for you or a friend! Shop The Magical Buffet here!


“Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural” by Peter Bergal. This was one of the best adventures of 2018! Spirituality influencing technology and technology influencing spirituality. This book has something for everyone! You can check out my review here.

“The Real Witches of New England: History, Lore, and Modern Practice” by Ellen Evert Hopman. Hopman shares research on witch hysteria and persecution, biographies of witches who were accused followed by interviews with their descendants, and also interviews a myriad of modern day witches who influence culture today. Read my review here.

Silent Night

I like children’s picture books even though I have no children of my own. I think adults without children sometime overlook the value in these books. For instance, I own several children’s books that deal with Buddhism and Hinduism. Sure, the authors simplify the religions, but also, the authors SIMPLIFY the religions. They’re a great way for learning the basics, and often times they have beautiful art work! Also, children’s picture books are children’s PICTURE books. You know, they’re filled with varied, excellent artwork. This can make them artbooks, and you can also use children’s picture books as fantastic, elaborate, greeting cards for friends and family.

All of this leads us to today’s review of “Silent Night” by Lara Hawthorne. I’m going to spoil the plot for you by telling you the text is the lyrics to the holiday classic “Silent Night” and that the very end is a brief history of the song. It’s the art that makes this book truly special.



This book would make a great gift for children, but also consider purchasing it as a truly special holiday card for a special someone. Either way, “Silent Night” by Lara Hawthorne is a classic that will be cherished for years to come.

You can learn more here.

Strange Frequencies

Can you build a golem such as the ones found in Jewish folklore? That’s the question that launches Peter Bebergal’s new book “Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural”.

“Strange Frequencies” follows Bebergal as he travels to Seattle to learn about and build automatons. He spends time in Cambridge to discuss stage magic with actor/magician Nate Dendy who plays Ariel in the American Repertory Theater’s production of “The Tempest”. He attends a traditional Spiritualist séance in Lily Dale, NY with photographer Shannon Taggart. Bebergal explores EVP (electronic voice phenomena) and experiences machines designed to facilitate enlightenment. Throughout these adventures Bebergal explores the origins of the DIY/Maker movement and the effect it has had on the exploration of the spiritual.

“Strange Frequencies” is an amazing exploration of the technological influencing the spiritual and the spiritual inspiring the technological. This is a must read.

You can learn more here.

The Real Witches of New England

I’m nosey. I’m super interested in people’s lives, particularly spiritual leaders and magic users. So, you can understand why it was impossible to resist Ellen Evert Hopman’s latest book “The Real Witches of New England: History, Lore, and Modern Practice”. It is a big ol’ book of interviews and biographies of modern-day witches and people who were accused of being witches in the still too recent for comfort past.

The first part of the book is dedicated to the history of witch persecutions. It’s a concise round up of who was targeted, why there was witch paranoia, where there was witch hysteria, and what actual witches were doing during this period. This next part is truly inspired. You can find loads of books with biographies of people accused of witchcraft, however what Hopman has done is not only provide you with their biographies, but also includes interviews with their modern-day descedants. She asks them questions such as were they always aware they were descended from an accused witch, how do they define witchcraft, and do they practice themselves.

Lastly, and my favorite part, is a whose who of contemporary witches of New England. There are some big names, such as Raven Grimassi, Christopher Penczak, and Christian Day, and many that were new to me. Hopman conducted email interviews with 25 different people. By asking a relatively consistent set of questions of each person it gives you a unique perspective of the various ways people define and practice witchcraft. I do have one question though, she interviewed Christopher Penczak and Adam Sartwell, two of the three founding members of the Temple of Witchcraft, why not also include Steve Kenson, the third founder and all around magical bad ass? Seriously, his absence totally stuck out to me. (What can I say, I’m a ride or die Kenson girl!)

I can’t imagine who wouldn’t love “The Real Witches of New England”. Hopman has managed to put all New England’s witchcraft history, and its future, into one enjoyable book. I only hope she does more books like this focusing on other geographic areas.

To learn more, visit here.

Santa Muerte Oracle

With tomorrow being Dia de Muertos it seems like the perfect time to talk about the “Santa Muerte Oracle” by Fabio Listrani (since according to R. Andrew Chesnut it’s becoming a “feast day” for Santa Muerte devotees).

There is a lot to unpack with this deck, and all of it is good. First, I must address the packaging. A solid box that the top pulls up from. Inside an actual booklet as opposed to those flimsy pamphlets you often get. Lastly, a ribbon to help you remove the cards from the box. All of these helps prevent wear and tear on the deck unlike the form fitting, thin cardboard sleeve style boxes that other decks have come in.

The artwork is striking. The deck contains 32 cards, divided into 4 parts: Emanation, Creation, Formation, and Action. Each part has its own style. There’re more than just images of Santa Muerte, but also Dias de los Muertos imagery, and assorted deities. Did Listrani use this bold style in his previous deck “The Santa Muerte Tarot”? Sadly, I missed out on that one, so I’m unsure.

Speaking of Listrani’s previous deck, the book included with the “Santa Muerte Oracle”, implies this deck could be used in addition to the “Santa Muerte Tarot”. Since I just have the Oracle, let’s focus on all the great ways you can use the deck!

Like most decks, this one features a simple 3 card reading. Personally, with oracle decks I like to do a one card draw reading. Listrani mentions using the deck for an “inspirational” card. This is where you search the deck for a card that you feel represents an energy you feel you need. Then you can carry it on you as a reminder or talisman throughout the day or keep it in sight for the day. This inspired me to put one of the cards on my home altar. The last way you can use this deck is the best, because this:

Can become this:

The deck. Becomes. A Ouija board. Boom. Mic drop. We’re done here.

Learn more about this deck here.

Spirits in Stone

“Spirits in Stone: The Secrets of Megalithic America (Decoding the Ancient Cultural Stone Landscapes of the Northeast)” by Glenn Kreisberg was quite an eye-opening read. Honestly, I read it thinking I would learn there was some giant Stonehenge like structure just down the road from me. Let me go ahead spoil it for you, there isn’t. However, I did learn there is a surprising amount of fascinating stone artifacts all over the northeast, and that there is an inherent bias in the archaeological community as to their importance and the need to study and preserve them.

Fortunately, Kreisberg and the New England Antiquities Research Association finds these sites, studies them, and works with others to get them protected. In the process, they’ve learned there is more to these stones than just their age. “Spirits in Stone” shares their reports from many of these locations. I’m not going to lie, it can be rather dry reading but I still enjoyed it and feel it’s an important book.

To learn more, visit here.

Fat Man Blues

Review by James Garside

Would you sell your soul to the Devil? At what price? How about if you knew you were dying and didn’t have long to live? It’s not like the dead have anything left to lose. But if the Devil’s so interested in your immortal soul that he’s willing to offer you anything in return then maybe, just maybe, someone’s getting fucked on the deal.

Hobo John is a terminally-ill English guy, with a troubled past, whose bucket list is all about the blues. He’s a blues aficionado on a journey across Mississippi to see what is considered by many to be the birth place of the blues. Delta Blues came from the Mississippi Delta and is one of the earliest styles of blues music.

On a drunken night in Clarksdale Hobo John enters into a Faustian pact with a devilish character, called Fat Man, who makes him an offer that he can’t refuse. In exchange for his life, which is at its end anyway, he must cross over to the afterlife of the Mississippi Delta to record blues artists both famous and unknown from the 1930s.

It’s a real ‘devil at the crossroads’ moment but, unlike Vegas, what happens at the crossroads doesn’t stay there. To begin with Hobo John has a blast hanging out with the souls of dead musicians but working for Fat Man is dirty business, with untold consequences, and there’s always a price to be paid.

There’s much more to the story, including twists and turns that I don’t want to spoil here, but the plot isn’t really the point. It’s all about the music. You don’t have to be a blues fan to enjoy the story but you’ll sure as hell learn a lot about the blues along the way.

Robert Johnson fans will especially get a kick out of it as they catch references to songs like “Crossroad Blues,” “Me and the Devil Blues,” and “Hellhound on My Trail.” Legend has it that in the Deep South in the 1930s Robert Johnson met the Devil at the crossroads and sold his soul to become the greatest Delta Blues artist that ever lived.

The author may spit at me for saying this but, at least structurally, the book has much in common with Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. In that book the story is used as a way to give you a history of philosophy whereas here a similar conceit is used to give you a taste of the blues. Just enough to wet your whistle — like drinking whisky straight from the bottle.

Richard Wall writes like a motherfucker. I mean that in a good way. He’s clearly passionate about the blues and has a deep knowledge of music history and blues lore. I’d love for the novel to be released as a dramatised audiobook with an accompanying soundtrack featuring Delta Blues songs hand-picked by the author.

Fat Man Blues is a wild ride. It’s violent and bloody in parts but the writing is tight and visceral and remains faithful to, and worthy of, the music that inspired it.

You can buy the book here ( or here in the U.S.) and check out his other work at richardwall.org

About James Garside:
James Garside is an independent journalist and writer. You can find him at his website jamesgarside.net and chat with him on Twitter.

Finger Prints and Phantoms

It’s hard to reinvent the wheel when it comes to “true tales of the paranormal”. And I’m not here to tell you that “Finger Prints and Phantoms: True Tales of Law Enforcement Encounters with the Paranormal and Strange” by Paul Rimmasch does that. However, I’m happy to tell you all the wonderful that it is.

“Finger Prints and Phantoms” has loads, 26 to be exact, of assorted stories of a paranormal theme. Rimmasch, a crime scene investigator by day, has a real knack for storytelling. It seems like he’d be a good guy to join for a beer. Now although his book doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Rimmasch’s background, and access to the police, does allow him to give the reader a unique perspective on the day to day life and workings of a police officer. And THAT was just as interesting, if not even more, than the stories contained within.

If you enjoy tales of the paranormal, and would like a bit of insight into police life, I would recommend checking out “Finger Prints and Phantoms” by Paul Rimmasch.

You can learn more about it here.

Find Your Goddess

Skye Alexander, author of “Find Your Goddess: How to Manifest the Power and Wisdom of the Ancient Goddesses in Your Everyday Life”, unsurprisingly wants you to find and work with a goddess or two. In her latest book she doesn’t spend loads of time convincing you of this, instead she lets the goddesses themselves do the talking and the teaching.

“Find Your Goddess” offers a diverse selection of profiles for approximately 75 goddesses. Each entry gives a brief overview of the history and mythology and her virtues. Then Alexander discusses how you can manifest their power. With a variety of female deities ranging from Persephone to Mama Quilla you’re bound to find at least one, if not many goddesses that resonate with you. “Find Your Goddess” is a great jumping off point to find goddesses you want to research, but it also is great for those just looking to explore a wider variety of female deities.

Learn more here.

Due to some confusion over shipping I ended up with two copies of this little gem, so I’ll be giving one away to you! We’re doing the Rafflecopter thing again! Contest is open October 15, 2018 until 11:59 P.M. Eastern Saturday, October 20, 2018. Must be 16 years or older to enter. Open internationally. Not sponsored by any social media service including Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Teenage Slasher Movie Book

I don’t know if you’ll find this surprising or not, but I do not watch horror movies. I just can’t handle it, they stick with me way too long. That said, I love reading about horror movies. I go online and read plot summaries, analysis, and reviews for tons of horror movies. Weird, right? I just feel the genre has a lot to offer. That’s why I agreed to read and review the 2nd revised and expanded edition of “The Teenage Slasher Movie Book” by J.A. Kerswell. I will admit that I don’t normally look into the slasher subgenre, but just like the rest of the horror genre, the author showed me there are surprises to be found there.

Have you heard of the gory, Italian, thrillers known as giallos? I hadn’t, but it turns out they played a huge role in the eventual teenage slasher film. I had no idea that many popular slasher movies came from Canada! Sure, now it seems all movies come from Canada, but the late 70’s, I had no clue. Also, I didn’t realize that Britain had previewed and censored all videos being released in the country. This delayed the release of many slasher movies in the country.

Kerswell does an excellent job condensing the history and works of the genre into a fast paced read. He succeeds in striking the balance of treating the subject matter seriously while acknowledging how silly it can all be.

With Kerswell’s authoritative writing and a dizzying amount of full color photos from films and movie posters, I can safely say “The Teenage Slasher Movie Book” is a great resource for anyone interested in horror films.

You can learn more here.