Crafting Love

Way back in 2013 I introduced you to Maggie Oman Shannon through her wonderful book “Crafting Calm: Projects and Practices for Creativity and Contemplation”. Fast forward 5 years and now we have “Crafting Love: Sharing Our Hearts Through the Work of Our Hands”.

“Crafting Love” explores 7 categories of love: romance, friends/teachers/mentors, family, nature (places and animals), self-love, others in the world, and the divine. Just reading her thoughts on the different ways we experience, express, and share love is gratifying and could have been a nice little book in and of itself. However, just like with “Crafting Calm”, Shannon offers loads of ideas and inspiration for things to create.

Kindness cards, family trees, edible love notes, goddess rosaries, and much more are offered up as suggestions. The wide variety of craft projects suggested cover ideas for beginners to experienced DIYers. Her ideas are sure to inspire some original projects of your own! “Crafting Love” by Maggie Oman Shannon challenges you to put some love out into the world.

You can learn more here.

Witchbody

I remember looking through the Weiser Books catalog and seeing “Witchbody” by Sabrina Scott. It was described as a graphic novel about everyday magic. I’m a fan of comic books, particularly in their collected form, commonly referred to as a “graphic novel”, so I had to check it out. Simply put, it’s amazing.

“Witchbody” is a beautiful and poetic exploration of ecology, magic, the environment, spirituality, and ontology. Scott’s art and prose combine to create not only a book, but a true magic item. Reading it changes you.

I don’t know what else to say. In my opinion “Witchbody” by Sabrina Scott is a must read and instant classic.


You can learn more here.

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One Truth and One Spirit

Early on in my interest in magic and religion I was given the advice to steer clear of Aleister Crowley. Essentially that he, and his work, was not for beginners or dabblers. Since I am nothing if not a dabbler, I have basically remained mostly ignorant of Crowley and Thelema. I can say that “One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley’s Spiritual Legacy” by Keith Readdy has changed all that.

Readdy approaches Thelema as a new religious movement, which may seem odd to those of us on the outside looking in, but he lays out a compelling argument for its inclusion as one. And as with all new religious movements, things always getting interesting after the passing of its founder, since this is when you learn if a religion is sustainable. That’s why “One Truth and One Spirit” focuses on the years following Crowley’s death in 1947.

Readdy quite adeptly summarizes Crowley’s Thelema in enough detail for the novice such as myself without getting too bogged down as to become tedious, particularly for those versed in the practice. He outlines the framework for the O.T.O and AA (two intertwined, sister organizations within Thelema). Readdy also takes on the daunting task of trying outline the succession and evolution of the O.T.O. and AA following Crowley’s death. He utilizes a myriad of sources including some previously unavailable to the public.

It should be noted that Readdy is a member of the O.T.O. The author makes it clear when he is expressing his opinion, and overall, I feel he offers a balanced look at the subject matter. Of course, those involved with the organizations may feel differently.

“One Truth and One Spirit” by Keith Readdy is an excellent introduction to Aleister Crowley, Thelema, the associated organizations, and their past and future.

You can learn more here.

Come…Sit in My Heart

As you know, I don’t really do poetry on my site. I tend to be finicky about what I end up liking and honestly, I don’t want to get flooded with requests from every poet drifting around out there. However, I received an email offering me a chance to review a book of poems by Hosain Mosavat called “Come…Sit in My Heart: A Sufi Speaks His Silence” and I said, “Yes.”

His biography is what compelled me to give it a try. “Born in Shiraz, Iran, 1934, where Saadi and Hafez grew up to be giants of Persian poetry. Raised in Tehran. Survived the first revolution in 1953 against the Shah. Within three days a coup d’etat happened, financed by the CIA, which I didn’t survive, because of losing fifteen friends. Also lost faith in my country. Then in 1955, with the help of my father, came to America, in which I have lived, worked and served to bring peace and harmony, trying to heal the pain and losses of my friends and my country. This book is about how far I have come from revolution to making love as a way of life. I have no regrets, only great hope for our family of mankind. No one is too small to rise and touch another soul. In the name of love and compassion, I stand before you.” Who says no to that? Certainly not me!

If you dare venture inside “Come…Sit in My Heart” you’ll be treated to some earnest reflections on love and spirituality.

A creek
gently flowing among the pebbles
in the stream
whispering freshness
flowing through and around
whatever touches it

That’s the teacher I’m looking for

You can learn more here.

Witchcraft Activism

Not too long ago I posted a photo on social media of all the books/decks that I have yet to write reviews for and asked for people’s opinion on what they’d like to see first. The overwhelming response was to review “Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance” by David Salisbury next. I can’t say as I blame anyone who voted for it. In this time of political upheaval people now, more than ever, are looking for a way to take action.

The good news is, “Witchcraft Activism” gets the job done. Obviously if you’re a magical practitioner, the idea of effecting change with magic isn’t an outlandish idea. However, I was happy to see Salisbury clearly show the similarities (similarities that never occurred to me) between magic and activism. Both require a serious reflection on intention and the work of follow through. Salisbury has a background in activism and takes you step by step through any type of activism that may interest you: lobbying, letter writing, marches, and more. Then add to that an inspiring number of ways you can utilize magic to reinforce and improve on those actions! He discusses sigils, candle spells, spirit servitors, and of course, more.

David Salisbury has created a great guide for aspiring activists. You could ignore all the magical elements and still walk away with a fantastic book on activism. As far as I’m concerned, the informative magical information is just icing on the cake! Highly recommended!

You can learn more here.

Witching Hour

I’m not a big fan of journaling or keeping a diary. I was made to do it when I was young and in therapy. As an adult I’ve tried it out and generally find it a depressing chore. (Fortunately, with the prevalence of cognitive behavioral therapy, therapists these days don’t mention journaling.) That’s why if I’m going to use a journal, I like one designed with structure and purpose. One like “Witching Hour: A Journal for Cultivating Positivity, Confidence, and other Magic” by Sarah Bartlett.

This delightful, compact, 160-page full color journal is filled with exercises, articles, and spells. They’re divided into 8 sections: Self-Worth & Charism, Love & Romance, Abundance & Prosperity, Vocation & Lifestyle, Home & Well-Being, Success & Creativity, Dreams & Goals, and Friendship & Mentors. The format for the book is wonderful, but you cannot review the book without gushing about the illustrations of Rachel Urquhart (aka, Pony Gold). Her artwork is found throughout “Witching Hour” and takes Bartlett’s words to another level of magical.


If you’re like me, and want a more structured journaling experience, and love a touch of the magical, “Witching Hour” is the book for you!

You can learn more here.

Dreams & Symbols

I love reference books. Books with titles like, “Encyclopedia of….” or “Dictionary of….”. I “collect” books, but I hoard these kinds of books. For some reason I feel like I can never have too many of them, and in my defense, they all have something unique to offer.

For instance, look at the two books I’m discussing today, “The New Secret Language of Symbols: An Illustrated Key to Unlocking Their Deep & Hidden Meanings” and “The New Secret Language of Dreams: The Illustrated Key to Understanding the Mysteries of the Unconscious”, both by David Fontana. The key word here is “illustrated”. Both books are entirely full color, heavy stock glossy pages filled with wonderful illustrations. These both are more than reference books, they’re coffee table art books.


Fontana has written several books before these about dreams and meditation. He wrote “You Can Understand Your Dreams”, “1000 Dreams”, “You Can Understand Meditation”, and two different tarot decks (“The Wisdom Seeker’s Tarot” and “The Truth Seeker’s Tarot”). I guess what I’m trying to say is, these books pull on a lot of past elbow grease.


I won’t claim that either of these books are revolutionary, however they are well researched, thoroughly indexed, and beautiful.

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.

The Witch’s Book of Self-Care

Here in New York we’re still in the cold, dark, grip of winter. As I type this, I’m waiting to see what happens with the next winter storm rolling through. Piled under blankets while listening to the fireplace makes me feel this is the perfect time to share my review of “The Witch’s Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit” by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. You may remember the author from the interview I did with her not too long ago.

Murphy-Hiscock states the goals of self-care as “healthy mind, healthy body, and healthy spirit.” At the beginning of the book she offers the simple definition of self-care as “self-care is any activity you do deliberately to take care of your mental, emotional or physical health.” She goes on to explain that the concept of self-care is compatible with magic “because magic is about listening to what’s inside you and the messages the Divine and nature have for you.” “The Witch’s Book of Self-Care” is truly proof of this because I feel it would appeal to people who practice magic looking for ideas for self-care, AND people who practice self-care looking to explore magic.

She divides the book into mental and emotional self-care, physical self-care, spiritual self-care, and household self-care. Contained within those chapters you’ll find diverse ideas ranging from a recipe for pot roast to affirmations to directions for making your own body butter. Seriously, this book has a little something for everyone.

If you’re like me, looking out a window into a cold, stormy winter, could I suggest “The Witch’s Book of Self-Care” to help fill the rest of the season?

You can learn more here.

Crystals

As most readers know, I love me some books about crystals! So obviously I was excited when St. Martin’s Press reached out to me about a new book regarding crystals that releases February 19th, “Crystals: A Guide to Using the Crystal Compass for Energy, Healing, and Reclaiming Your Power” by Aisha Amarfio. It did not disappoint.

Amarfio is well versed in crystals, of course, or how else would this book have happened, right? What is truly unique about the author’s approach is the crystal compass referenced in the title. She starts with the four elements of earth, water, air, and fire, and how they correspond with body, emotion, spirit, and mind. From that point it expands further into the needs of those categories and then the best stones for that purpose. It’s well thought out, intuitive to use, and indispensable to those who work with crystals.


However, don’t think that “Crystals” is just a glorified chart. It’s a fantastic reference for crystals and their uses. To coincide with the compass, the stones are divided in the book by elements: earth, fire, water, and air. To make the book more user friendly there is a symptoms index and a results index. “Crystals” is a great book for anyone interested in crystals, however I think that holistic health practitioners such as massage therapists, energy workers, and estheticians will find this book especially useful. Particularly with its compact size, hardcover, and built in crystal compass making it an easily portable reference guide.

You can learn more here.