Nature Spirit Tarot

Can you ever have too many tarot decks? The answer is yes. Will that stop me from continuing to collect and review them? Apparently not. Which brings us to today’s review of “Nature Spirit Tarot” by Jean Marie Herzel.

“Nature Spirit Tarot” is based on the traditional 78 card tarot deck. What differentiates Herzel’s deck is the addition of plants, flowers, insects, animals, minerals, and other elements of the natural world. She pulls on the language of flowers, Native American folklore, Eastern and Western philosophies, and Celtic legend to choose the natural elements to include in each card. This gives each card additional meaning and makes for some beautiful artwork. Which by the way, Herzel not only wrote/designed the deck, but she also did all the illustrating as well. I’m always impressed when the deck is written and illustrated by one person. Doing either one of those seems like it would be difficult enough.

I did March’s tarot forecast for my Patrons using this deck and I have to say, the nature elements enrich the reading. The nearly 200-page guidebook has full color images and offers several ways to use the cards.

It’s true that you could already have too many tarot decks, but if you love tarot decks and nature you may want to consider adding this one to your collection.

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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When the Church Goes to Market

As the pandemic continues to affect the global economy, Christian History magazine dedicates its latest issue to exploring how Christians have influenced economic life. In this issue, Christian History examines how, in past centuries, individuals and church leaders founded financial and trading institutions that are essential industries and taken for granted today. As contained in Biblical accounts, Christians found a higher purpose in the market and influenced complexities that define the world’s marketplace and global economies. (from their press release)

As always, I love the unique perspectives provided from Christian History, and I love that it is free to read! The latest issue has many interesting articles:

Brood of vipers or avenue for flourishing? Debt and lending in church history by Nathan Hitchcock

Misunderstood missionaries Colonial enablers or pioneers of social and economic reform? by Robert D. Woodberry

Self-serving vice or society-building virtue? The long-standing influence of Max Weber’s linking of Protestantism and capitalism by Kenneth J. Barnes

Christian History timeline: Market matters Some ways Christians have preached, thought about, shaped, critiqued, and participated in economic life throughout church history by the editors

Bringing profit to neighbors The church and economic theories from zero-sum to mutual benefit by Jordan J. Ballo

Friendly economics How Quakers in North Carolina used the marketplace to free enslaved people from bondage by Christina Hitchcock

What would Jesus do in business? The rise, struggles, and promise of the faith and work movement by David W. Miller

God’s kingdom Interviews with two scholars who study Christians and the Market by Denise Daniels, Brent Waters, and the editor

You can read the latest issue here.

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Dark Goddess Tarot

In a spiritual practice that at best could be described as “hodge podge”, one of the only cohesive aspects is my adoration of the divine feminine. I’m particularly drawn to goddesses that are misunderstood or viewed as negative. Enter “Dark Goddess Tarot” by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince, a deck that feels custom made for me.

From the introduction, “Dark goddesses are disturbing, fearsome, and beautiful. They can be shunned or overlooked, as they represent aspects of life that people find uncomfortable – sometimes only when those powers are in female hands. Powers of age and death, sex and sovereignty, ferocity and judgement. Of magic, mystery, and transformation. Of suffering and shadow.”

Lorenzi-Prince takes a female forward approach to the traditional 78 card tarot deck. A goddess or mythical female figure is featured on every card, including the minor arcana. Although the suits are changed to fire, water, air, and earth, with the court cards changing from page, knight, queen, and king into amazon, siren, witch, and hag respectively.

“Dark Goddess Tarot” first released in 2013, several years before inclusivity had become not just an idea, but a necessity in the spiritual space. Considering that, Lorenzi-Prince has done an excellent job representing multiple cultures in a respectful fashion. I’ll resist the urge to share every female from the deck, but there’s Kali, Isis, Ishtar, Baba Yaga, Santa Muerte, Tlazolieotl, Spider Woman, Tsonokwa, Baubo, and so many more. The artwork for the deck is noteworthy too, with Lorenzi-Prince not only creating the deck, but creating all the art for it too!

“Dark Goddess Tarot” by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince is an excellent exploration of the divine feminine. A noteworthy addition to any tarot collection.

You can learn more here.

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Strategies to Manifest Mindfulness in the New Year

By Dr. Patrick Porter

People across the globe are determined to make 2021 better than its predecessor. If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s the importance of our health and wellbeing. The pandemic brought “mindfulness” to the masses as it created a rare opportunity for us all to breathe, reflect, and focus on the most important aspects of life. Many people (who would otherwise not engage in mindfulness activities) started journaling, meditating, and other practices to ease anxiety and cope with the chaos. The traumatic events of last year forced people to make their mental health a priority. It comes as no surprise that “mindfulness” is at the top of many New Year’s resolutions lists.

Practicing mindfulness is one of the best things you can do not only for your brain but also your body. Mindfulness activities have been proven to help people reduce stress, prevent burnout, boost productivity, and so much more.

As a Neuroscience expert, I am frequently asked about the subject of “mindfulness.” Here are some of my top strategies to manifest mindfulness and incorporate it into your daily routine:

1. Train Your Brain to Achieve Your Goals
Keeping our brain active by creating new pathways is called neuroplasticity, and it’s a key aspect in achieving our goals. This is what keeps us creative, resilient, upbeat and engaged in life, which sparks our imagination and helps us visualize our accomplishments. Setting goals is important, but you will be unable to achieve them if you don’t know the steps to get there. The more you imagine your goals as being achieved, the better you will be able to focus on them. You can visualize your future and work to manifest and realize the goals you set. Think of it as getting something from your room: if you can see the object you’re going for before the lights are turned off, you are better able to find it in the dark. If you walk into the dark without any light prior, you’ll stumble much more along the way. This is the power of focusing on your goals and visualizing yourself achieving them. Focusing on your goals allows you to accomplish smaller tasks related to the goal which gives you more energy to continue to work at it. Focus and energy are important characteristics in achieving your goals.

2. Lean into the Available Mindfulness Resources & Find One that Works for You:
Because the idea of “mindfulness” has risen in popularity, there are many tools and resources available to facilitate and enhance mindfulness practices. With the rise of technology, we have more access to tools and resources to help us learn how to better practice from mindfulness. Participating in mindfulness even once a day in the middle of your day has been proven to provide great benefits. Studies show that you can reclaim up to 80 percent of the energy you had in the morning by having a mindfulness practice, like BrainTap. BrainTap is a resource that facilitates brain waves that help bring your mind to a state of healing, rest, and relaxation, such as found in deep sleep.

3. Be Mindful of Screen Time:
How much of your day do you spend looking at a screen? Often, we go from looking at a little screen (our phones) to looking at a medium screen (our computers) to looking at a big screen (our televisions) to looking back at the little screen before bed. All these screens and harmful blue lights are depriving the brain of much-needed downtime. Though technology has given us great resources to improve mindfulness, we must be cautious to use this technology wisely. People today are being constantly stimulated, which makes impactful mindfulness impossible. The brain needs periods of rest because this is when it solidifies information and stores memories, which cannot happen when the brain is constantly stimulated.

These brain-boosting tips can help anyone, regardless of the stage of life they are in. It’s crucial that we remember to take care of our brain, strengthening it, nourishing it, and resting it, like we do with the rest of our body. As you practice these exercises, you will recognize a difference in the way your brain functions and remembers throughout the day—and your life.

About Patrick K. Porter:
Patrick K. Porter, Ph.D., is an award-winning author and speaker who has devoted his career to neuroscience and studying the brain. As the creator of BrainTap®, Dr. Porter has emerged as a leader in the digital health and wellness field. BrainTap’s digital tools and apps bring mindfulness and meditation practices to the next level and have made tremendous advances in helping mental, physical, and emotional health issues. BrainTap has been praised for helping people relieve symptoms associated with stress, insomnia, pain, and much more.

For more information visit: www.braintap.com

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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.

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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.

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The Death Penalty: Cost And Public Opinion Support Biden’s Plan To End It

By David Dozier

A study in California revealed that the cost of capital punishment in the state has been over $4 billion since it was reinstated in 1978. Since California has executed 13 prisoners during that time, the cost per execution is more than $307 million. Other financial facts about the death penalty show capital cases in some states costing millions more than life imprisonment.

So, more people are asking: Is it worth it?

Cost is one factor people sometimes don’t consider in the debate over the death penalty. The complexity of seeking it and carrying out an execution is a long and expensive process. Many capital cases are appealed, and incarceration on death row can span 10, 15 or 20 or more years. And with capital punishment costs imposing a burden on state government budgets that are already stretched, it’s more cost-effective to commute death penalties to life imprisonment without parole.

But cost is just one reason that President-elect Joe Biden should work toward ending the death penalty in the U.S. As part of his criminal justice reform platform, he has pledged to abolish the federal death penalty and to give incentives to states to stop seeking death sentences. (Currently, capital punishment is authorized in 28 states.) Another reason to end the death penalty is its ties to racism. The Biden-Harris administration plans to address racism on many fronts.

Awareness of the killings of unarmed Black people by police has heightened the sensitivity of White Americans to racial injustice and prompted protests. The death penalty is targeted at persons of color: Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population – but 34% of persons executed since 1976.

Too often, the death penalty is a poor man’s punishment. District attorneys are more likely to go after poor defendants who are trying to fight for their lives with overworked and underpaid public defenders. DA’s sometimes put dirty cops above the law by refusing to prosecute police who kill unarmed persons of color. That’s because police unions and prison guard unions pump lots of money into DA political campaigns. But if a Black man kills a policeman, police and police unions will push DA’s to seek the death penalty.

A third reason the death penalty should be eliminated both in the U.S. and around the world is because it is cruel – a barbaric and sadistic violation of human rights. It is pure hypocrisy for a nation such as ours to view itself as a beacon for human rights while ranking seventh in the world for the number of executions we administer. Executions are a form of torture that violate the Eighth Amendment prohibiting the federal government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment.

The U.S. government under President Donald Trump in 2020 carried out the most federal executions ever in a single year. But under Biden, the pendulum should swing; the question is how much on a state level. Meantime, it’s good to see public opinion shifting toward the elimination of the death penalty. Using an unbiased question, a 2019 Gallup poll on capital punishment showed 60% of Americans favored life in prison for murder while only 36% preferred the death penalty.

Public support for the death penalty has dipped near a 48-year low, and at the same time there is a bipartisan movement in state legislatures and Congress to end it. Many politicians and ordinary Americans are bothered by executions of innocent people. For every nine prisoners executed, an innocent death row inmate is exonerated. DNA science and advances in law enforcement have cleared numerous death row inmates.

As Biden enters the White House, numerous Democratic lawmakers have already written to him about their objections to the death penalty, asking him to sign an executive order to eliminate federal executions and calling capital punishment unjust, racist and defective. And conservatives in several states have pushed back against the death penalty, saying it is too costly, inconsistent with conservatives’ opposition to abortion, subject to error, and not an effective deterrent.

The momentum of states toward abolishing the death penalty, and the strengthening bipartisan footing against it on state and federal levels, make Biden’s goal of ending capital punishment a stronger possibility. You can measure the cost of the death penalty in many ways – in terms of public policy and sheer, enormous dollars; in morality; and in racism. But any way you slice it, it comes out as wrong. The Biden Administration has a great opportunity to get it right.

About David Dozier:
David Dozier (www.DavidDozierBooks.com) is the author of The California Killing Field and an internationally recognized expert and speaker on mass communication, public relations, and communication management. Professor emeritus in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University, Dozier is author or co-author of over 100 books, book chapters, articles, and scholarly papers, and his works have been cited by other scholars over 4,000 times. Among his numerous honors are: the 1990 Pathfinder Award from the Institute for Public Relations Research and Education for his contribution to original scholarly research in the field; in 2008, named Outstanding Educator by the Public Relations Society of America; in 2009, named a Research Fellow by the Institute for Public Relations; in 2014, recipient of the Norma B. Connelly Public Affairs Service Award “for exceptional meritorious service to the U.S. Navy Public Affairs.” Dozier received his doctorate in communication research from Stanford University.

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