Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews

If you’ve learned one thing by now, it’s that Becky likey excuses to eat and drink. Fortunately for me, 2020 has delivered ample excuses and we’ll be talking about the latest one today, “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews: Herbal Potions, Magical Teas, and Spirited Libations” by Amy Blackthorn.

You may remember that not too long ago I reviewed “Witchcraft Cocktails: 70 Seasonal Drinks Infused with Magic & Ritual” by Julia Halina Hadas. It would be silly to not acknowledge there are many similarities between that book and “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews”. Both provide ample information to make you a competent home bartender, and both provide enough witchy info to effectively add magic to your drinks.

Where the two books diverge in a big way is what drinks are offered. Where “Witchcraft Cocktails” is strictly cocktails, “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews” focuses on almost anything you can drink. Obviously, there is booze involved with many of the recipes, but Blackthorn goes out of her way to provide non-alcoholic options as well. You’ll find cocktails, mocktails, teas, kombucha (which is low enough in alcoholic content that I consider it non-alcoholic), and more!

Of course, when it comes to me, I opted to make a little booze-based magic! I tried my hand at the Bishop, a recipe that goes back to the 18th century and generates success and prosperity. It calls for red wine, which I happened to have a bottle kicking around in need of using up. Along with the wine is orange juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup.

It is delicious! I’ve made it many times since my first attempt. It is sweet and smooth. I highly recommend it!

Amy Blackthorn’s “Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews” is wonderful addition to the expanding category for food and beverage-based magic. As far as I’m concerned, it is a must own.

You can learn more here.

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Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule

You might remember that I really loved Jason Mankey’s book “Witch’s Wheel of the Year”. If not, I loved it. I made sure to keep an eye out for what would be published from him next. When it turned out to be “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule”, I reached out to Llewellyn for a copy, even though I expected it to just be a repacking of the Yule stuff from “Witch’s Wheel of the Year”. I was wrong.

Considering how great “Witch’s Wheel of the Year” was, I should have known that Mankey wouldn’t just phone it in for “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule”. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer abundance of enthusiasm Mankey for all things winter holiday. Normally I don’t look at reviews or ratings for books I plan on reviewing, but I couldn’t help but notice that many readers were disappointed in the lack of laser focus on Yule. I suppose it’s a fair criticism, considering the title is “Llewellyn’s Little Book of YULE”, however, what some found a weakness I found a strength. Just like in “Witch’s Wheel of the Year”, Mankey is effortlessly inclusive, working to make sure all holidays from right after American Thanksgiving through the New Year. In a world of overlapping religions and traditions, “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule” does an excellent job guiding you in ways to incorporate as many, or as few, observances as you wish.

Honestly, don’t go into the holiday season without “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Yule” by Jason Mankey.

You can learn more here.

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How to Learn Tarot

Learning tarot sucks. Okay, maybe that’s just me, but I have an AWFUL memory regardless of how interested I am in the subject I’m studying. I mean, after YEARS and YEARS I am finally starting to wrap my head around it. People learn in different ways. I’m at the point where I learn by doing. However, in the past when it comes to tarot, I’ve worked with flash cards and rote memorization. Perhaps my learning trajectory would have been different if years ago I had access to “How to Learn Tarot: A Guided Tarot Journal with Intuitive Prompts and Spreads” by Jess Carlson.

Carlson’s approach is simple in appearance, but has the potential to create personal, long-lasting, connections to the tarot. “How to Learn Tarot” dedicates a page to each tarot card, showing it in the corner of the page. She provides a prompt and encourages the reader to write down all their thoughts and associations with the card. No wrong answers. The act of writing helps you remember what you are learning, and creating an idea makes it personal to you. The back of the book includes keywords associated with each card, but Carlson encourages you to go through the entire journal, which includes exercises and sample spreads, before browsing the keywords.

Considering its full-color and trade paperback format, a suggested retail price of $14.99 is reasonable for a tool that would be great for beginning tarot fans or for more experienced readers looking to add depth to their readings.

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Byzantine Intersectionality

Today we are talking about an academic work exploring the Byzantine empire that is an accessible read and incredibly relevant for today. “Byzantine Intersectionality: Sexuality, Gender, & Race in the Middle Ages” by Roland Betancourt is an eye-opening, thought provoking work.

Intersectionality is “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” (Oxford Dictionary) It was coined in 1989, but obviously marginalized identities existed before then.

Betancourt utilizes literature, religious texts, and art to examine lives of transgendered monks, sexual consent and the Virgin Mary, slut shaming of society women, race around the Ethiopian Eunuch, and same sex desire in the lives of monks and the story of Doubting Thomas. Medical texts of the time show that late term abortions and sex affirming surgeries were part of the era.

Honestly, this review is not doing the book justice. “Byzantine Intersectionality” by Roland Betancourt is a riveting read that made me view the past differently, and in turn, think more deliberately about our future. I think everyone should read this book.

You can learn more here.

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The Wakanda Files

Attention Marvel fans! Epic Ink was kind enough to send me a copy of their new book “The Wakanda Files: A Technological Exploration of the Avengers and Beyond” by Troy Benjamin, and it is a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan dream.

“The Wakanda Files” is framed as a compilation of Shuri’s research of the advanced technology of the MCU. Shuri is T’Challa / Black Panther’s intelligent, savvy, younger sister, so it makes since that “The Wakanda Files” reflect her accumulated knowledge of human enhancement, weapons, artificial intelligence, armor, and more from the MCU. As anything worthy of the Shuri name, “The Wakanda Files” is full color, hardcover, with a frosted plastic slipcase. It also comes with a UV light that when shined on pages reveals extra information printed in UV ink.

I wish I could hand the book to you through the screen, so you feel the quality.

Sexy hardcover.The center “bead” is the UV light.


Hard to photograph, but the UV light works!


You know Shuri was all up in Pim’s business.


Loads of schematics throughout!


Loads to geek out on!

With so much content, “The Wakanda Files” would make a great gift for any fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

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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Magic: A History

What can archeology teach us about magic? It turns out, a whole hell of a lot! I wasn’t sure what to expect from “Magic: A History: From Alchemy to Witchcraft from the Ice Age to the Present” by Chris Gosden. I don’t know who I thought would write the history of magic, but an archeologist just wasn’t what I was expecting. That said, Gosden was the right person for the job.

Gosden defines magic as “human connections with the universe, so that people are open to the workings of the universe and the universe is responsive to us. Magic is related to, but different from, the other two great strands of history, religion or science: the former focuses on a god or gods, the latter a distanced understanding of physical reality. Magic is one of the oldest world-views and yet is capable of constant renewal, so that a modern magic can help us to explore our physical and ethical connections to the world in a time of profound ecological crisis.”

With this as a guide, Gosden starts in 40,000 to 5,000 BCE and ends in spiritualism, Aleister Crowley, and the Golden Dawn. During this, Gosden spans the globe, exploring archeological sites for insights into the magical practices of the early Neanderthals, China, Africa, Greece, the Americas, and more. Obviously, a single book can contain only so much detail, but considering the breadth of time and extensive geography covered, “Magic: A History” is an impressive work that had to have involved a migraine inducing amount of research.

For years now I have longed for a complete history of magic, and now Chris Gosden has done the hard work required to make my desires a reality. “Magic: A History” fills a void that has existed for far too long and is an essential book for anyone interested in the evolution of magical practices.

You can learn more here.

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Haring-isms

What is it about Keith Haring’s art that I have always loved? He was hitting his peak as an artist/street artist in the 70’s/early 80’s, so perhaps it is because, being born in 1976, his art was my introduction to graffiti as art. His designs were cartoonish, in bold colors, simplistic to the average person, and filled with motion. Haring’s work was not only accessible as art, but accessible by being licensed for TONS of products. Cynics could say he was “selling out”, but he believed in the democratization of art, frequently giving away free doodles to fans. Haring’s death in 1990 of AIDS-related illness is an important milestone in my life. His passing, along with Ryan White, turned me into an activist at a young age, constantly following the research and injustice of the early AIDS crisis. (FYI, this is just things I personally remember, not from any official source.)

This should explain why when Princeton University Press reached out to me with regards to reviewing a book about Keith Haring, I didn’t care what it was, I just wanted it! (Also, Princeton University Press, who’s the scholarly blogger?) The book they sent me (which I did know what it was going to be) was “Haring-isms” edited by Larry Warsh. It is part of Princeton’s “ISM” series, where they try to capture the essence of a variety of artists by collecting their quotations into high quality, pocket-sized, hardcover books. Along with “Haring-isms” you can find “Arsham-isms”, “Basquiat-isms”, “Weiwei-isms”, and more.

Editor Larry Warsh writes a personal and informative introduction to “Haring-isms.” After that, it is quote after wonderful quote. Here a just a few of my favorites:

It was a long time before I was successful – or wanted to be. All I ever wanted, and what I want now, is to draw, draw, draw.

I was never good at quite defining what is and what is not art. I mean, eventually everything can be art if we see it like art.

I think if people make art that is in tune with popular culture and comes from popular culture, they should put it back into that culture.

If I was going to draw, there had to be a reason. That reason, I decided, was for people.

Part of the reason that I’m not having trouble with the reality of death is that it’s not a limitation, in a way. It could have happened any time, and it is going to happen sometime. If you live your life according to that, death is irrelevant. Everything I’m doing right now is exactly what I want to do.

Each quote has a number so you can reference its source in the back of the book.

Obviously, I love “Haring-isms”. The only drawback is, other than the icon on the cover, none of Haring’s art is featured in it. I would easily pay twice the price to have these quotes along side images of some of his artwork. However, the lack of art keeps the book at a reasonable price point considering its high-quality formatting. If you’ve ever been inspired by Keith Haring, “Haring-isms” is for you.

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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A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance

What can I say? I love food. I also happen to love Dawn Aurora Hunt, owner of Cucina Aurora, purveyor of fine olive oils and other treats. When I found out that she had a cookbook coming out, I literally tracked down the publisher and emailed them out of the blue asking for a copy. And they delivered, thanks Tiller Press! I expected a standard cookbook from “A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance,” typical aphrodisiac type stuff, but it is a whole lot more.

“A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance” is an amazing exploration of love, food, and the author’s journey with both. The book is divided into 3 parts: Self-Love, Attracting Love, and Rekindling the Fires. All of this covers such topics as honesty, self-care, building friendship, dating, attracting romance, and more. Of course, along with all of that are recipes ranging from beginner to advanced. And you know what happens now, don’t you? I tell you about the recipe I tried!

I went with something easy and delicious sounding, Lemon Ginger Tonic. “This tonic with purifying lemon, heart-warming cinnamon, and lively ginger will you with warmth and healing energy. With each sip, envision negativity and hurt melting away.”


This recipe was super simple and amazing tasting! Seriously, a winter addiction may be at hand because this tastes like the best mulled cider you ever had in your life…. without the cider! Take ingredients and dump them in a glass, then top with boiling water! I had a killer headache when I made this and hand to god, this with a couple of ibuprofens mellowed me right out and I slept like a baby that night.

Owning a copy of “A Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Recipes for Love & Romance” by Dawn Aurora Hunt is a guarantee of experiencing a life with more love and delicious food.

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

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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Banned Books Week 2020

As we all know, 2020 has been a dumpster fire. We are essentially a nation on the brink. I was expecting some sort of aggressive, war footing for this year’s annual Banned Books Week. Freedom of thought and expression is vital in times like these. However, we’re getting a relatively bland, kind of dorky theme. That said, don’t let it dissuade you from observing and participating in, this important annual event!

Banned Books Week is an event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Banned Books Week 2020 is from September 27 – October 3. The theme of this year’s event is “Censorship is a dead end. Find your freedom to read!”

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The American Librarian Association Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country. The Top 10 Challenged Books of 2019 are:

(clicking on the book images will take you to IndieBound, which supports independent bookstores throughout 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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George by Alex Gino
Reasons: challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”

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Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased

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Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
Reasons: Challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning

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Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
Reasons: Challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”

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Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Reasons: Challenged and restricted for featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint

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Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
Reasons: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”

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Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”

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Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”

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Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Reasons: Banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals

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Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole
Reason: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content


You can learn more about this event and the work they do here.

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