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.

The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic

If you’re a reader of this website, you probably already know what runes are, but just in case you don’t; runes are an ancient Norse alphabet used for magic, communication, and divination. If you want to learn more, you’re in luck because I’m here to tell you about THE book about runes.

“The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic: How to Interpret Runes, Rune Lore, and the Art of Runecasting” by Edred Thorsson is 320 pages of EVERYTHING rune. Thorsson has written THE book on runes. Actually, he has written over two dozen books about runes and all that research has culminated in “The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic”.

It starts with an amazingly deep dive into the history of runes. Viking age, medieval, and modern runic history is discussed. This includes the history of runes in magic and divination as well. Then, utilizing this research Thorsson examines what he refers to as the hidden lore of runes. How the runes relate to cosmology, psychology, and the Gods. Only after a thorough study of these previous two sections are you ready to read the runes. Thorsson discusses divinatory theory and provides useful tables.

I’m loathe to say one book on any subject is all you’ll ever need, but “The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic” by Edred Thorsson is as close as you’ll get.

You can learn more here.

Gods and Monsters

I am a sucker for packaging and formatting. Because of this, I am a sucker for Rockpool Publishing’s Supernatural Series. You may remember that in 2017 I reviewed “Witches and Wizards” by Lucy Cavendish, and in that review, I said, “This book is going to last, and better still it says, ‘The Supernatural Series Book One’ at the top. This hopefully means I can look forward to a shelf full of these attractive and interesting books.”

I now have two more attractive and interesting books from the series! These two have much in common with “Witches and Wizards”. Both are in the compact hardcover format that I loved with the previous book. Both have beautiful cover art and nice black and white illustrations throughout them. And both are big picture, general overviews, of subjects that could have books devoted to just one entry.

First up we have “Monsters and Creatures: Discover Beasts from Lore and Legends” by Gabiann Marin. This sucker discusses just about any creature you can think of! You’ll find well known creatures, like dragons, mermaids, werewolves, and centaurs. Marin also has loaded “Monsters and Creatures” with tons of lesser known creatures, such as kappas, pookas, kinnaris, and drop bears. (I would tell you about them, but shouldn’t you just buy the book?) At 196 pages it doesn’t go in depth with any of them, but “Monsters and Creatures” offers a great starting point.

The other book, “Gods and Goddesses: The Rise of Divine Mythologies”, also by Gabiann Marin, follows a similar format. Marin discusses deities with origins in Greece, Egypt, China, Rome, and more. However, she doesn’t just discuss deities of the past, but their existence in modern times. Again, it doesn’t go into great detail, but it’s a fabulous starting point.

If you’re looking to learn more about these books, visit here.

The Heart of the Goddess

“The Heart of the Goddess: Art, Myth and Meditations of the World’s Sacred Feminine” by Hallie Iglehart Austen was originally published in 1990, but Austen felt the time was right to bring it back.

She’s right. In this time of #resistance, Austen’s look at universal spiritual feminism is right on the mark. Respect for the earth, community building, and reclaiming the power womanhood all blend together in “The Heart of the Goddess”. Instead of your typical who’s who of female deities, Austen discusses each goddess from the perspective of a piece of artwork featuring the deity. This allows for a discussion of the origin of the art (geography and date) and with it, the history and culture surrounding the goddess.

To make “The Heart of the Goddess” a spiritual journey for the reader, the deities are collected into 3 parts: Creation, Transformation, and Celebration. Along the way Austen presents meditations, prayers, and thought exercises with the goddesses.

Regardless of how many books you own or have read about goddesses, I guarantee you that you’ve never encountered anything like this. Informative, spiritual, and filled with art pieces from antiquity to contemporary times, “The Heart of the Goddess” is, and will remain, a classic.

Learn more here.

The Hidden History of Elves & Dwarfs

It’s no secret that I love me some Claude Lecouteux. Trust me when I say that his latest book, “The Hidden History of Elves & Dwarves: Avatars of Invisible Realms” showcases what he does best…. connecting the dots.

Whereas generally he uses his “gift for comparing cultures, for suddenly making an unexpected leap, but perfectly pertinent to the train of thought”, as Régis Boyer points out in the foreword. This time much of the focus is on the mystery of who is Auberon? By tracing this character’s existence in French, Norse, and Germanic tales we learn much about the difference and similarities of dwarfs and elves throughout time and cultures. What you come away with is that things back then were much more fluid, particularly in terms of physical appearance, than what you find in today’s Dungeons & Dragons books.

Of course, at the heart of every Lecouteux book is the eventual encroachment of Christianity and how it effects these original legends. As expected, the originals, if they remain are perverted versions of how they began their lives. Some also disappear, only to reappear in some new context. And if you’re like me, you sometimes try to revive the legend in its original context.

If you’re familiar with Lecouteux and like his work, this is one of his best. If you are not familiar with him, this is a great entry point.

You can learn more here.

The Little Book of Cat Magic Review & Giveaway

I’ve tried to write an introduction to this review several times. Each time I rambled on and next thing I knew there would be a full page of text and I wouldn’t have even given the title of the book! Let me sum up, and in doing so you’ll see why I was predisposed to endless rambling. I’ve known author Deborah Blake for around 10 years. In all those years Blake has always had somewhere between 4 to 6 cats. I adore Deborah Blake and refer to her as my “sister from another mister”, and I always adore Deborah’s cats (although her assorted cats have held me at varying levels of affection). I could write pages of amusing and/or sweet stories about Deborah and her cats, but I tried that, and it didn’t make for a very concise book review. I’ll just tell you that there is no better qualified writer to author “The Little Book of Cat Magic: Spells, Charms, and Tales” than Deborah Blake.

Many authors have cats, but not only has Blake always had multiple cats, but for a long stretch she had an honest-to-goodness black cat familiar that went by the name, Magic the Cat, Queen of the Universe. Magic was so influential that I even interviewed her once! When Blake writes about working magic for, and with, your cat you know she’s speaking from experience. “The Little Book of Cat Magic” truly encompasses all aspects of “cat”. The history of cats and tales (or tails, as I prefer) abound. Tips, and spells, about finding a cat, living with cats, and cat deities are discussed. There is a section about crafts and treats you can make for your cat. Also, The Magical Buffet gets name checked in the section about cat tarot decks! Just sayin’.

And I cannot end this review without mentioning that the interior illustrations by Alice Rosen are top notch. Adorable, whimsical, magical cat illustrations run throughout the entire text.

Honestly, “The Little Book of Cat Magic” is for anyone who loves cats.

You can learn more here.

Now for some exciting news, we’ve got a giveaway! As I said, I’m friends with Deborah, so the last time I visited her she loaded me up with goodies for a giveaway, AND Llewellyn sent me a copy too! That means that we’re going to have 2 winners!

Grand Prize: autographed copy of “The Little Book of Cat Magic”, a broom pen, a cute toy cat, and a book plate created by artist Elizabeth Alba!

Second Prize: a copy of “The Little Book of Cat Magic” and a book plate created by artist Elizabeth Alba!

This contest is open internationally, for people 18 years of age or older. We’re doing the Rafflecopter thing, so see the widget below. Contest ends at 11:59pm eastern Saturday, January 12th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Notorious New England

“Notorious New England” by Summer Paradis and Sandra Vivian Graul opens with a definition of “Dark Tourism”.

Dark Tourism – noun – Dark tourism is the act of travel and visitation to sites, attractions, and exhibitions that have real or re-created death, suffering, or the seemingly macabre as a main theme.

And their book, subtitled “A Travel Guide to Tragedy and Treachery” certainly fits that description.

“Notorious New England” includes over 100 sites in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Some locations are classics, such as The Lizzy Borden Bed and Breakfast in Massachusetts, but there are also many lesser known historical sites like Madame Sherri’s Castle in New Hampshire and The Witch’s Grave in Maine. There are also sites you may not have considered like Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and the grave of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who died in The Challenger explosion. “Notorious New England” is definitely a travel guide of tragedy.

Paradis and Graul treat all the locations with the utmost respect of the law and spiritual decency. Being paranormal investigators, they make sure to include notes on any supernatural occurrences. The book is loaded with full color photos, always a plus. Also, they include all kinds of travel tips for going to the locations, including great places to stop for lunch and other random businesses in the area of note.

“Notorious New England” is a bizarre mix of history, folklore, the paranormal, tragedy, and tabloid fodder. For me it inspired a lot of reflections, and a desire to road trip New England.

You can learn more here.