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.
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?
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.
If you follow The Magical Buffet on Facebook and/or Twitter (and you should), this may be old news to you, but in case you haven’t heard….I have a Patreon!
For those of you unfamiliar with Patreon, it’s a website that allows a different kind of connection with creators and their community. Patrons pay a monthly dollar amount and gain certain benefits and creators use that money towards different things, such as new projects, or just supplemental income.
Currently my Patreon offers two tiers:
Tier One: Casual Buffet People
A monthly amount of $1-$9.99 lets me know that you appreciate the work I do and support me in continuing to do it and expand on it.
Tier Two: Buffet Regulars
A monthly amount of $10 or more shows your appreciation AND gives you a behind the scenes look at my slowly growing empire. I might be working on a book, putting together some classes, and making magic items, and Buffet Regulars will see ALL of that as I work on it. You’ll keep me on the straight and narrow by making sure I work on these things and I’ll be turning to you for insight and feedback.
I also want to note that when you sign up, I request your mailing address. That’s because I haven’t ruled out the idea of mailing out physical rewards at some point. In the future there will probably be different rewards and tiers added, but this is where I’m starting.
So how about showing The Magical Buffet a little love and support me on Patreon! Become a Patron!
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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.
Way back in 2014 I tried my first mead. It was made by Helderberg Meadworks. The owner was kind enough to do an interview for our site, and then was super generous and invited me out to see how the mead was made. I got major booze drinking street cred from doing this because Helderberg Meadworks didn’t do tours or tastings. Well, my booze cred is gone because you can now visit the Helderberg Meadworks new tasting room, where you can try SO MANY MEADS and chat about it with Peter and Kirsten, the husband and wife owners.
I don’t even know where to begin. When we were there, they were offering 9 different meads, 2 ciders, 2 beer/mead hybrids that they did with Brown’s Brewing, one carbonated hard cider/mead blend that they did with Indian Ladder Farms, AND a switchel. What’s better AND worse is that it is all also available for purchase, with the tasting room being the only place you can purchase many of the products. I spent SO much money.
For their traditional meads, which are the meads they make with only honey, they offer:
Session, which is a lightly carbonated, not too sweet, and amazingly drinkable.
Odin’s Tears, which is quite dry and uses caramelized honey, doesn’t involve the oak of their other meads, and is still a deliciously smooth drink.
Heritage, which is the mead that started it all. It has the highest alcohol content of any of their offerings at 17% and is a balance of sweet honey and oak.
Feral, another Helderberg classic made from their own strain of wild yeast that Peter captured and cultivated. Despite the honey this one is more on the dry side, but yes, still super yummy.
Sweet Feral, which was a sweeter follow up after the success of the Feral Mead. I enjoy both greatly.
Then they offer other meads that are made with honey (because hey, it’s mead) and other ingredients, and these are:
Apple, a part of the core collection. It’s strong in apple flavor without the syrupy sweetness you might expect. This is crisp and dry.
Staghorn, which has the sweetness of honey balanced with foraged sumac (not the poisonous variety). An impressive and unexpected twist.
Black Currant, can you guess what makes the Black Currant Mead “black currant”? Yes. Firstly, this has the prettiest color! Also, the black currant flavor paired with the honey mead is fabulous without being overly sweet.
Maple Mead, another Helderberg mainstay. They use wood-fired maple syrup and oak age it, making it a smoky, drier drink than you would expect.
Cherry Vanilla. You know how I keep commenting that the meads you expect to be overly sweet aren’t? Well they went full throttle on sweetness with this one. The cherry and vanilla flavors are prominent and delicious. Much like a dense dessert, you only need a small slice to enjoy it.
When we were there, they had two ciders, a classic and Cassis. The classic is a semi-dry hard cider. The Cassis is made with black currants and that gives it a great twist on the flavor and again, a beautiful color.
They have two collaborations that they did with Brown’s Brewing Company, Saison de Miel and Braggoting Rights. Saison de Miel is light, dry, and floral. Braggoting Rights is where the Odin’s Tears Mead got its start. The mead was first created for this collaboration and the owner liked it so much he started producing the mead. There was also a collaboration they did with Indian Ladder Farms that pairs their hard cider with Helderberg’s mead. This is a carbonated, kind of funky but tasty hybrid.
Last, but not least is Myles Fulton’s Stormbender Switchel. This is made with Helderberg’s own pear cider vinegar, honey and ginger. It is unfiltered and probiotic. If you like probiotic drinks, this is for you. It’s refreshing, thirst quenching, and delicious. Way more drinkable than most kombucha.
So how can you try all these? Visit their website where you can learn about their tasting room and shop their products, which includes their meads, but also drinking horns, t-shirts, and bad ass mugs!
Right now, the tasting room is only open Saturdays Noon-5pm eastern, but they told me they will be expanding their hours in the spring. There will also be tables indoors and outdoors to hang out at along with games. A good way to keep tabs on them is to follow them on social media.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.