Favorite Things 2017

If you’re new to reading this site, you may not know that at the end of every year I do a post about 10 of my favorite things that year. I try to publish in time for you to acquire said things for gift giving purposes, whether it’s a gift for yourself or someone else. Every year I also point out that my list is WAY better than Oprah’s because all of my favorite things are affordable. Particularly when compared to some of her picks. That’s when I point out that I should just be the next Oprah. Consider this paragraph, my annual “I’m better than/or the next Oprah” rant.

The list is presented in no particular order, and everything is new to me this year, not necessarily something that came out this year. I think that covers everything, so let’s get to the list.

“Everyday Witch Tarot” by Deborah Blake with art by Elisabeth Alba. It’s no secret that I love me some Deborah Blake, but trust me when I say she really hit it out of the park with her first tarot deck. Blake’s witchy interpretation of the traditional Rider-Waite deck combined with Alba’s whimsical art created an instant tarot classic that hopefully Llewellyn will keep in print for many years to come. Learn more here.

“The Art and Science of Hand Reading” by Ellen Goldberg and Dorian Bergen. This book is the real deal. If you purchase this book you truly may never need another book about hand reading. It’s a massive text book full of more information than you may have ever thought available. For those looking to get serious with their hand reading work in the new year, look no further. Learn more here.

“The Tarot of Bones” by Lupa. Lupa is a well established Pagan author of works focusing on nature and her first self-published tarot deck is the culmination of her work as a scholar of nature and as an artist. Lupa’s use of animal bone and elements of nature create a whole new approach to the tarot and makes it a must own for tarot collectors and lovers of the natural world. Learn more here.

“Plant Magic: A Year of Green Wisdom for Pagans & Wiccans” by Sandra Kynes. “Plant Magic” is a reminder that one of Kynes strengths is her ability to catalog the connections between things. In this book the focus is entirely on plants including a plant’s relationship to a particular holiday, what plants grow best each month, and what plants can be found in the wild each month. And of course the magical correspondences of all those plants! Learn more here.

“Drug Wars: How Big Pharma Raises Prices and Keeps Generics Off the Market” by Robin Feldman and Even Frondorf. Not a light, easy read, but an important one for those of us interested in how prescription drugs work in America. Learn more here.

“Secret Medicines from Your Garden: Plants for Healing, Spirituality & Magic” by Ellen Evert Hopman. Reading “Secret Medicines from Your Garden” makes you feel like the author is personally leading you on a wilderness adventure. Hopman regales you with anecdotes from her spiritual journey and herbalism training. This is easily the most engaging book about plants ever. Learn more here.

“Fairies, Pookas, and Changelings: A Complete Guide to the Wild and Wicked Enchanted Realm” by Varla Ventura. This book is fantastic. The author’s enthusiasm for the subject matter is obvious as she relates assorted tales from folklore. I always love how she unearths the more obscure creatures for these books. In this one you’ll find fairies, pookas, and changelings (of course). You’ll also read about bonga, trolls, coblyns, brownies, and even Rumpelstiltskin! Learn more here.

“The Book of Thoth: Egyptian Tarot” by Aleister Crowley. If you’re an occult book nerd like myself, this new edition of “The Book of Thoth” is some hot book porn. This new facsimile edition of “The Book of Thoth” is a faithful reproduction of the Samuel Weiser Inc. 1969 edition, which in turn was a facsimile of the original O.T.O. edition printed in 1944. The text is digitally restored, printed on a heavy, coated stock, and features revised color plates and black and white illustrations of the Thoth Tarot based on new photography of the original art, courtesy of the O.T.O. and The Warburg Institute. The book text block is smyth sewn, with a rounded back, and headbands. Printed endpaper reproduces the Egyptian motif from the board covers of the 1944 edition. The cover is quality cloth over boards with gold stamping on the spine, and is wrapped with a jacket which again features updated art while matching the original design. Learn more here.

“The Yogi Diet: Spirituality and the Question of Vegetarianism” by James Morgante. I love food. I love learning about religions. This book talks about both, in depth. I loved it. Learn more here.

“Botanical Inspirations Deck and Book Set” by Lynn Araujo with art by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. This deck shares folklore, symbolism, and more for each flower or plant. It features absolutely beautiful artwork by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. This is the perfect deck for lovers of oracle style decks and/or fans of flowers. Learn more here.

Assuming the comments on the site are working, tell me some of your favorites of this year! Or tell me on The Magical Buffet’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts!

Crystal Healing for the Heart

I’m here to tell you that author Nicholas Pearson has done it again with his latest book “Crystal Healing for the Heart: Gemstone Therapy for Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Well-Being”.

You may recall that back in April I reviewed Pearson’s “Crystals for Karmic Healing”. What he did for karma in that book, he does again for the heart in this one. What started as a workshop Pearson offered has evolved into a book that instructs you on how to use crystals to help with your heart. If you’re like me you probably assumed that it was going to be a big pile of love magic, but obviously (since I’m writing about it) it has so much more going on.

You can follow the workshop style of the book starting at “Exploring the Heart” and “Strengthening the Heart” all the way to the with “The Awakened Heart”. You can also pick and choose your focus, although Pearson makes a strong argument for taking the systematic approach.

Let me tell you what you REALLY want to know, if you’re like me. “Crystal Healing for the Heart” is loaded with beautiful, full color photos of gemstones and minerals. There are also photos of the author doing some of the exercises from the book.

Whether you have an a distinct interest in the heart or not, Pearson’s book does what he does best, makes you look at crystals in new and intriguing ways.

You can learn more about “Crystal Healing for the Heart” here.

What is Perceptual Intelligence?

An excerpt from Perceptual Intelligence: The Brain’s Secret to Seeing Past Illusion, Misperception, and Self-Deception by Brian Boxer Wachler, MD

I’ve seen different definitions of Perceptual Intelligence (PI), but I like to think of it as how we interpret and occasionally manipulate our experiences to distinguish fantasy from reality. PI relies heavily on our senses and instincts, but it is frequently influenced and distorted by our emotions and memories. Just as with other forms of intelligence, some people have higher PI than others. However, PI is an acquired skill. It begins with awareness and requires practice before it becomes habitual. So you may find yourself initially overreacting to a situation or circumstance, but with proper knowledge and a different perspective, you may start to ask yourself: Am I interpreting the situation correctly and making the best possible choice?

In their excellent book The User’s Manual for the Brain, authors L. Michael Hall and Bob G. Bodenhamer write, “The problem is never the person, never the experience, never what we have been through. The problem is always the frame, always the mental movie, always the higher frames running the movie.” It’s how we interpret what happens to us. If a bird with good aim uses my head for target practice, I could either get ticked off or say, “It’s good luck!” (which I learned from my Brooklyn-born dad).

When we have a vague memory of a painful incident, what purpose does it serve? Why bother keeping that potentially incorrect perception of the event when you can make something good come of it? This is where the sniper ability of Perceptual Intelligence comes in. A well-developed PI can identify and take down a faulty idea that tries to sabotage you. Having high PI is recognizing that your mind is more plastic than you think and can be molded and reworked as needed. PI can be improved, just like any other skill, such as driving a car, playing a sport, or learning an instrument.

Many people have survived traumatic incidents and made life decisions based on these experiences. Their perspectives on these events shaped their lives in either a positive or negative direction. It was not the incidents themselves that determined the outcomes; it was the individuals’ perceptions of the incidents and how they reacted afterward that formed their future. The “heroic” survivors we see on TV or read about in books merely applied principles of PI, whereas the “victims” remained immobilized.

Sharpening Your Perceptual Intelligence
As I’ve said, since PI is a learned skill, it requires practice before it becomes a habit. Someday you may find yourself initially reacting unfavorably to a situation. Rather than jumping to a negative interpretation, you can catch yourself and ask: Is this the best choice? If not, you can tap into your PI, change your perspective, and achieve a more favorable outcome.

My main objective in writing this book is to help you find your aha! moment regarding how you perceive and react to the world from the inside out. It is my sincere hope that, as you follow me on this journey, you will discover a heightened and enlightened understanding of the mystery that is human perception and make better decisions based on what your senses and intuition are telling you. In the chapters that follow I will reveal to you how understanding and maximizing PI is the key to what lurks behind your thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. You’ll learn about (not necessarily in this order):

• Why some people can’t resist “cat poop coffee” at $100 a cup
• How the brain helps us make sense of the world
• When the mind is healing us and when it’s doing more harm than good
• Why we hold on to our illusions
• Why we feel compelled to “return a favor”
• What is really happening when we see aliens in the middle of the night
• How low PI helps us enjoy art more
• Why some people see Jesus in their cornflakes
• How inflated PI can influence the PI of the masses
• Why some athletes and teams are winners and others chronic losers
• How reciprocity hijacks our perceptions
• How celebrity personas manipulate us
• How Mark Twain’s thoughts on masturbation reveal his high PI
• Why Kim Kardashian West has so much social impact
• How cults brainwash people with low PI
• Why our perceptions of time are so often distorted
• When to listen to your gut

A hundred years from now, we may not even recognize the science that is being practiced today. We will almost certainly have completely mapped the brain by then, yet we may still be no closer to understanding how we perceive the world. In the future, as with today, we will continue to perceive. Somehow, every day we will convert the inconceivable into the conceivable, as do all living things in their own inimitable way. As you’ll see in the next chapter, it all starts with the human brain.

Fasten your seatbelt and brace for impact.

About Brian Boxer Wachler, MD:
An expert on human perception and the author of Perceptual Intelligence, Brian Boxer Wachler, MD, has pioneered treatments in vision correction and Keratoconus, published eighty-four medical articles, and delivered 276 scientific presentations. He is the first choice of many doctors for their own eye treatments. He is the medical director of the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute in Beverly Hills and a staff physician at Los Angeles’s famed Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Fid him online at www.boxerWachler.com and www.perceptualintelligence.com.

Excerpted from the book Perceptual Intelligence: The Brain’s Secret to Seeing Past Illusion, Misperception, and Self-Deception. Copyright ©2017 by Brian Boxer Wachler. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.