Don’t Lose Your Head

I don’t really care about British royal history. I don’t watch royal weddings. I don’t follow news about the royals. I just don’t get it. Whether modern or historical I generally shrug. However, there is something I truly love, and that is reclaiming the stories of women who have been vilified in the past. That is why when I received an invitation to review “Don’t Lose Your Head: Life Lessons from the Six Ex-Wives of Henry VIII” by Harriet Marsden, I took up the offer.

Like most people, I am familiar with Henry VIII due to his multiple marriages that almost entirely ended with him having his wife killed. That was pretty much it. So, I knew Henry VIII had to be an asshole, but not much else. I mean, that many marriages? After a couple you must assume the problem is him. After reading “Don’t Lose Your Head” I can safely say, yeah, it was him.

Marsden firmly plants her tongue in cheek and lets her feminist flag fly as she hilariously recounts the stories of all of Henry’s wives in their own voices. Whether speaking confidentially, or bad mouthing each other from beyond the grave, you will learn the stories of Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. These are stories of political cunning, sexual prowess, gender politics, marriage philosophies, and more. You can’t help but come away with an appreciation for these assorted women, and yup, still think that Henry VIII was a jerk.

Marsden’s wit and conversational style makes “Don’t Lose Your Head” the kind of British royal history book that anyone can enjoy!

You can learn more here.

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National Unicorn Day

Did you know that tomorrow is National Unicorn Day? Well, it is. One year it was brought to my attention that April 9th is National Unicorn Day and since I like unicorns, I made note of it on my calendar. However, a cursory internet search could not tell me WHY April 9th became National Unicorn Day, just that it is. And that concludes the historical portion of this article.

Honestly, there has just been a bumper crop of unicorn related books lately and I thought this would be a could occasion to give you a giant list o’ links to check stuff out. How better to celebrate unicorns than by buying books about unicorns, right?

You might remember that in January 2020 I profiled a “Stampede of Unicorns!” That review features “Unicorn Magic” by Tess Whitehurst, “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Unicorns” by Angela Wix, and “The Wonder of Unicorns” by Diane Cooper. It turns out that Diane Cooper also has “The Wonder of Unicorns Game” and “The Wonder of Unicorn Cards!” She even has a compact disc of guided meditations, “The Unicorn Meditation.”

I personally own a very worn-out copy of “The Unicorn Tarot” by Suzanne Star with art by Liz Hilton. The outer box art has changed, but the deck is the same.

It is out of print, but if you want to read the book that turned me into a unicorn fan, try and get a hold of “The Unicorn” by Nancy Hathaway. If you can get one in good condition, it would make a beautiful coffee table book. Of course, mine is so worn out it can barely stay together, let alone let visitors casually flip through it!

Lastly, you cannot discuss unicorns without mentioning “The Last Unicorn.” After all this time the animated film is still magical and the book by Peter S. Beagle is even better! I own the DVD, and two different print runs of the novel! Perhaps Friday is the perfect day to dig out the DVD, or reread the book?

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, I hope you have a magical National Unicorn Day!

*Some of the links in this article are affiliate links to IndieBound or Bookshop.org. These sites support independent books stores in the United States. If you use these links to purchase a book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

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The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching

Translations matter. Anyone with even a passing interest in the Bible could tell you this. My husband loves to drive this point home by saying he learned to read Greek just so he could read older versions of the Bible to then use to argue against judgmental Christians. The fact is most ancient texts have been interpreted and reinterpreted again and again by men. These were the kinds of thoughts that were going through Rosemarie Anderson’s mind when she decided to translate the Tao Te Ching, using the oldest version of the text she could find.

The Tao Te Ching is a classic Chinese text that has influenced Chinese philosophy and religion into modern times. It has been translated many times. I happen to own 3 different translations. Out of the three I own, “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” by Rosemarie Anderson is my favorite.

In her introduction, Anderson shares her journey that culminated with her sitting down and doing her own translation of the Tao Te Ching. She shares her genuine surprise at how overtly feminine the Tao was in her translation. After reading “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” I reached for my other two copies of the Tao, one from 2008 translated by James Legge and the other from 1993 that was translated by Man-Ho Kwok, Martin Palmer, and Jay Ramsay. And whoa yeah, there are many differences between the three texts. In the divine feminine defense of the other two, they both did translate some phrases in a more feminine way, but none to the extent of Anderson’s translation.

However, it’s not just the overtly feminine translation that makes “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” my favorite. Anderson’s presentation of the text is more poetic and lyrical than the others I read. It flows better when being read, and I suspect sounds wonderful read aloud. It lends itself nicely to being read repeatedly, and the Tao Te Ching is a text that is meant to be repeatedly read and reflected on.

All of this is to say, “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” by Rosemarie Anderson will be my definitive translation of the Tao going forward.

You can learn more here.

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Life Ritualized

The book we’re discussing today is “Life Ritualized: A Witch’s Guide to Honoring Life’s Important Moments” by Phoenix LeFae and Gwion Raven. If the name Gwion Raven sounds familiar, you might remember me reviewing his excellent book “The Magick of Food”. With “Life Ritualized” he and his spouse, accomplished author Phoenix LeFae, tackle many of life’s most complex experiences.

What is a milestone? There are obvious ones in American society, like birthdays, being legally allowed to drink, getting your drivers license, etc. However, LaFae and Raven explore the true complex nature of our lives and acknowledge that many things happen, big and small, and happy or sad, that mark our passage through life. It is simple to find books featuring rituals for marriage and birth. “Life Ritualized” posits that rituals can not only make the good times better and more meaningful but can also provide solace and comfort in bad times. They cover about any life event you can think of, such as: fertility, adoption, birth blessings, miscarriage, abortion, graduation, new driver, new car, new job, new home, handfasting, retirement, grief, loss of job, menopause, pet burial, self-initiation, and more.

I’m obviously impressed by how thorough this book is in examining the human experience. Raven and LeFae share intimate moments from their own lives to illustrate times when you may want to use these rituals. What I appreciated the most is that although “Life Ritualized” is a “Witch’s Guide”, most of the rituals are appropriate for any open-minded, nondenominational group or individual.

If you’re interested in adding ritual, or more ritual, to your life, I highly recommend “Life Ritualized” by Phoenix LeFae and Gwion Raven’

You can learn more here.

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The Alchemy of Stones

If you’re looking to do some serious inner spiritual work and you love crystals, I have the book for you. “The Alchemy of Stones: Co-creating with Crystals, Minerals, and Gemstones for Healing and Transformation” by Robert Simmons is certainly not the first book to suggest utilizing crystals for spiritual transformation, but it may be the first do so in such a thorough and thoughtful manner.

“The Alchemy of Stones” is a BIG book. Nearly 500 full-color pages in an oversized 7 x 11 inches format. A relatively large section is devoted to an illustrated glossary of summarizing the spiritual properties of over 375 crystals and minerals. Simmons starts with a discussion of alchemy and segues into the stages of alchemical transformation and provides meditative practices with specific stones to go with each stage. This includes gemstone elixirs, crystal body layouts, stone mandalas, and more.

“The Alchemy of Stones” is not for the casual crystal enthusiast. However, if you are committed to a spiritual transformation that is connected to the Earth, this is the book for you.

You can learn more here.

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Dreaming Techniques

Dreams have always fascinated people. That said, I do not go out of my way to read too many books about dreams because they tend to be nothing more than glorified dream dictionaries, and dream dictionaries are of minimal helpfulness. That is why when I was sent a copy of “Dreaming Techniques: Working with Night Dreams, Daydreams, and Liminal Dreams” by Serge Kahili King I just glanced at it and set it aside.

One day while attempting to clean my work area (I operate with a pile-based system. It is inefficient AND messy.) I stumbled upon “Dream Techniques” again. This time I took a moment to read the back cover and realized, this isn’t just a throw away dream dictionary, and I started to read it. I am glad I did.

Most books about dreams stress the importance of keeping a dream diary/journal. Yet never have I encountered an author who has cataloged over 5,000 of his own dreams! King uses his vast collection of dream recollections and combines it with the science available on the subject to help us gain some understanding of our own dreams. “Dreaming Techniques” breaks down dreams into 3 different categories: night dreams, liminal dreams, and daydreams. The fourth part of the book focuses on techniques to work with dreams.

Not only is this a fascinating exploration of dreams, but with its focus on thought experiments and states of consciousness, “Dream Techniques” can prove to be an invaluable resource for magic practitioners as well. “Dream Techniques” by Serge Kahili King was an enriching book that I cannot recommend enough.

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.

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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Everyday Mindfulness

“Everyday Mindfulness” by Melissa Steginus opens by saying, “Mindfulness is about paying attention with intention. Powerful things happen when you take a moment to fully observe your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and surroundings.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? However, living mindfully is more difficult than you might suspect.

Steginus realizes this and honestly, has put together a great, straightforward way to learn about, and apply mindfulness in your daily life. Her book, “Everyday Mindfulness: 108 Simple Practices to Empower Yourself and Transform Your Life” is the perfect sample pack of mindfulness techniques. Ideally, for 108 days, each day, you will try out a new exercise. 108 different things may seem overwhelming, but each day is 5 minutes or less!

“Everyday Mindfulness” is a perfect fit for every person. Each person will come away with something to improve their daily life.

You can learn more here.

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Devil’s Margarita

As you might remember, over the course of last year I read and reviewed several books about magic in cooking and drinking. 3 of my favorite things, food, booze, and magic! A while back I stumbled across a cocktail recipe on Liquor.com that sounded good and had a very cool name, Devil’s Margarita. I thought, why not try it out and apply a little of what I learned from all those books to find deeper meaning.

So, what goes into a Devil’s Margarita?

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce red wine
Garnish: lime wheel

Steps
Add the tequila, lime juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

Strain into a cocktail glass.

Float the red wine on top by slowly pouring it over the back of a bar spoon so it pools on the surface of the drink.

Garnish with a lime wheel.

This is delicious, and obviously super bad ass in appearance. That alone is enough reason to try it yourself, but how about we apply what we’ve learned from all those books to justify drinking it even more?

Tequila, which SO MANY people like to bitch about and avoid, is thought to have protection, banishing, and purification properties. Everyone quit being such stinkers when it comes to tequila! Lime is associated with friendship, luck, hex breaking, and act as an anti-depressant. Wine provides inspiration, prosperity, and love.

If you enjoy cocktails, I suggest checking out Liquor.com.

And if you want to have a whole lot of fun, I’d suggest any and all of these titles:

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These are affiliate links 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

The Art of the Occult

Since the beginning of time art has been used to convey everything from simple human emotion to historic events. With that in mind, it should surprise no one that art has been a medium to illustrate magical practices for just as long. Anyone interested in witchcraft and/or the occult is sure to have seen the iconic witch-centric art of John William Waterhouse or classic alchemical illustrations.

In walks “The Art of the Occult” by S. Elizabeth, a wonderful book for art and magic lovers. By no means a complete overview of all art influenced by the occult, “The Art of the Occult” has over 175 full color reproductions of art from the 15th century and earlier right up to modern times. Each work is accompanied with insightful commentary.

Each individual finds different art appeals to them, just the way each person finds a specific magical style that suits them. I guarantee no matter who you are, you will find something in this book for you.

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