Favorite Things 2014

Here it is, actually past due for me to get all Oprah on you and give you my 10 favorite things from 2014. This year was really hard to pick just 10 things, and immediately after I did the list more things came my way. So next year you may see some things that were featured on the site late this year. Enough about that, let’s get to the favoriting! (In no particular order of favorite-ness.)

1. “Among the Mermaids: Facts, Myths, and Enchantments from the Sirens of the Sea” by Varla Ventura. As someone who has always loved myths and stories about sirens and mermaids, “Among the Mermaids” was a definite stand out for the year. Not only did Ventura fill the book with lore and legends of merrows, mermaids, and sirens, but the resources section in the back lists books, movies, and shopping. Shopping! Want your mermaid tail?

2. “The Encyclopedia of Crystals” by Judy Hall. I love gemstones, rocks, and minerals. The end. Okay, not the end. This book makes learning more about crystals super easy. The stones are divided up by color, but also listed in alphabetical order in the crystal index in the front of the book, and of course there is a thorough index at the back of the book. Each entry has a fantastic image or two to help with identification and then they list: crystal system, chemistry, hardness, source, chakra, number, zodiac sign, planet, and what it’s beneficial for. After that there is a paragraph with historical and folkloric detail.

3. “The Daemon Tarot” by Ariana Osborne. Based on Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy’s “Dictionnaire Infernal”, this 69 card deck isn’t just a divinatory tool, but a piece of occult reference. Obviously it cannot be used exactly as a tarot deck, but thanks to a researched and well thought out companion book, you’ll be doing a single card draw or a six card spread in no time.

4. “The Witch’s Broom: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Broomsticks” by Deborah Blake. As one would suspect, there are oodles of nifty, witchy, bits of broom magic to be found in “The Witch’s Broom”. However, it’s the tons of stuff that you can appreciate whether you’re a witch or not that makes this book a favorite. You can learn how to make your own broom, how to decorate store bought brooms, there are get great gift ideas, and there is fun broom folklore and history.

5. “Encyclopedia of Goddesses & Heroines” by Patricia Monaghan. Monaghan published the first encyclopedia of divine females in 1979, and that book has stayed in print in one form or another right up to today. The latest is newly expanded and features more than 1,000 heroines and goddesses from folklore, literature, and religion from around the world. It. Kicks. Ass.

6. “365 Tarot Spreads” by Sasha Graham. A different tarot spread for each day of the year. They’re unique and thought out. If you want a tarot workout in the New Year, get this book now!

7. “The Yoga of Cleaning” by Jennifer Carter Avgerinos. Weird, right? Nope. Avgerinos background as both a certified yoga instructor and having worked in the consumer packaged cleaning tools industry for the past several years indeed gives her a unique perspective on these two seemingly divergent topics. She brings them together in a way that, I swear, makes you want to clean.

8. “Sacred Objects, Sacred Space: Everyday Tools for the Modern-Day Witch” by Dayna Winters, Patricia Gardner, and Angela Kaufman. These are the ladies that wrote “Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?”, and just like with their first book they did a fantastic job a packing an incredible amount of information into an easily digestible amount of book. This trio discuss just about any object you can imagine being used in magic, along with the appropriate care and ways to craft your own or personalize it. They also cover every space in which magic can be worked. This is a must own.

9. “The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences: How Understanding NDEs Can Help Us Live More Fully” by Dr. Penny Satori. There have dozens of books written about near-death experiences, however in my opinion this is the one we’ve been waiting for. Dr. Satori’s book is based off of the UK’s first long term prospective study of near-death experiences and she was awarded a PhD for her research in 2005. That’s right, it’s science. Although the research is grounded in science, Satori also includes many of her experiences from her 17 years as an intensive care nurse. This makes “The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences” a compelling read.

10. Helderberg Mead. 2014 gets to be the year that I fell in love with Helderberg Mead. As Peter Voelker said when I interviewed him about Helderberg Meadworks, “Most mead that you can buy in the wine stores around here either tastes like a low alcohol honey syrup or a nice soft white wine. While there’s nothing wrong with that (I love a nice Vidal Blanc), HMW takes a different approach. We use techniques that would have been used many moons ago and produce a mead that has big, bold and feral qualities to it. We’ve adapted old world methods to modern day sanitation and palettes without catering to any particular group of consumers. This is mead as we think it should be. With that said, there are 2 major differences between HMWs mead and others. The first is our alcohol content, which has a range on the label of 15% to 16%. Our current “Burgundy Wax” batch is at the high side of that range. Most others are from 8% to 11%. The second difference is our use of oak aging. Back in the days before metals were commonly available, oak would have been the preferred storage vessel for nearly all drinks. We have taken this concept and applied it to our mead. The result is a powerful mead (shouldn’t all traditional mead be POWERFUL?) with a whiskey-like nose and great honey flavor without being overly sweet.”