The Gift of Life Tarot

If you’ve followed me or The Magical Buffet on social media, you’ve probably seen me share “The Ghetto Tarot”. It’s one of my all-time favorite decks done by photographer Alice Smeets and a Haitian art collective known as Atis Rezistans. These artists and Smeets recreated the Rider Waite Tarot using local sourced, found materials. I never wrote a formal review because it was done as a Kickstarter and I didn’t realize you could purchase it after that. When Smeets started a new fundraising campaign for a second tarot deck, I didn’t hesitate. What I received was “The Gift of Life Tarot”.

During 2020 lockdown Smeets was coming to terms with having to put her projects and travel plans on hold. Once accepting the situation for what it was, she looked for a new way to express her creativity. From “The Gift of Life Tarot” Guidebook:

The next day I started going through all of my archives from 13 years of photography. I looked through 1000’s of photos to find the ones that matched each tarot card the best. It was an amazing, fun and inspiring process and gave me a chance to reconnect to all of those memories from all around the world from the past. This deck is not just a deck, it is at the same time a retrospective of my work as a photographer since 2007. All of the photos I have chosen for this deck were taken during my travels to different continents, each single one of them is dear to my heart. The people portrayed in the photos are people I either encountered along the way and just met briefly, some I spent several days with and others are my friends.

Smeets feels the real-life scenes depicted on the cards make it easy to relate the cards to ourselves and our lives. “The Gift of Life Tarot” has the traditional 22 cards of the major arcana. The minor arcana is divided into four 14 card suits: fire, water, air, and earth. The traditional court cards of the minor arcana are replaced with daughter, son, mother, and father.

The guidebook features a few tarot spreads. Each card has its own entry that includes the gifts of the card and the challenges it can represent. There is description and also a life purpose reading for the card. A thoughtful extra is that each card entry includes Smeets talking about the photographs real-life moment. This really makes “The Gift of Life Tarot” a photo retrospective and obviously, a tarot deck.

“The Gift of Life Tarot” by Alice Smeets is a true reflection of universality of the human experience. Personally, I can’t wait to see what Smeets creates next!

You can learn more about both “The Gift of Tarot” and “The Ghetto Tarot” here.

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The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching

Translations matter. Anyone with even a passing interest in the Bible could tell you this. My husband loves to drive this point home by saying he learned to read Greek just so he could read older versions of the Bible to then use to argue against judgmental Christians. The fact is most ancient texts have been interpreted and reinterpreted again and again by men. These were the kinds of thoughts that were going through Rosemarie Anderson’s mind when she decided to translate the Tao Te Ching, using the oldest version of the text she could find.

The Tao Te Ching is a classic Chinese text that has influenced Chinese philosophy and religion into modern times. It has been translated many times. I happen to own 3 different translations. Out of the three I own, “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” by Rosemarie Anderson is my favorite.

In her introduction, Anderson shares her journey that culminated with her sitting down and doing her own translation of the Tao Te Ching. She shares her genuine surprise at how overtly feminine the Tao was in her translation. After reading “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” I reached for my other two copies of the Tao, one from 2008 translated by James Legge and the other from 1993 that was translated by Man-Ho Kwok, Martin Palmer, and Jay Ramsay. And whoa yeah, there are many differences between the three texts. In the divine feminine defense of the other two, they both did translate some phrases in a more feminine way, but none to the extent of Anderson’s translation.

However, it’s not just the overtly feminine translation that makes “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” my favorite. Anderson’s presentation of the text is more poetic and lyrical than the others I read. It flows better when being read, and I suspect sounds wonderful read aloud. It lends itself nicely to being read repeatedly, and the Tao Te Ching is a text that is meant to be repeatedly read and reflected on.

All of this is to say, “The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching” by Rosemarie Anderson will be my definitive translation of the Tao going forward.

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.

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The Archeo

I’m fortunate that many publishers and publicists offer to send me free books or products to consider for review. I frequently get to request certain items, but other times, I get things sent to me without requesting them. And let me tell you, left to my own devices, I NEVER would have requested “The Archeo.” Thankfully, Jake at Llewellyn didn’t ask me, he knew I needed to see this.

Even when “The Archeo: Understanding & Developing Archetypes” by Nick Bantock arrived, I had no intention of reviewing it. However, I was like, I should at least open and thumb through the deck. As soon as I started shuffling through the cards, I stopped dead in my tracks. These cards seriously resonated with me and considering that “The Archeo” is about universal archetypes, I thought that meant this deck was pretty damn special.

Nearly every deck is marketed as a tool of self-discovery, but “The Archeo” is a tool ONLY for self-discovery. The 40-card deck and its accompanying 204 page, full-color companion guide help you create your personal mythology. Bantock expands on Jung and Campbell’s idea of archetypes, crafting the 40 presented in “The Archeo” that include alchemist, demon, midwife, wolf, greenman, falcon, and more. There are even two blank cards provided in case you discover a new archetype you want to work with. Each card has artwork created by Bantock, and you know how I’m a sucker for deck authors being able to illustrate their own deck. (I not so secretly wish I could create visual art…..or write effectively for that matter!)

The ways you can use “The Archeo” are limited only by your imagination, but Bantock provides some ideas for layouts and spreads. Also, he wrote a story focusing on each card, to help you understand them better.

If you’re ready to take a journey within, “The Archeo” is for you!

You can learn more here.

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Life Ritualized

The book we’re discussing today is “Life Ritualized: A Witch’s Guide to Honoring Life’s Important Moments” by Phoenix LeFae and Gwion Raven. If the name Gwion Raven sounds familiar, you might remember me reviewing his excellent book “The Magick of Food”. With “Life Ritualized” he and his spouse, accomplished author Phoenix LeFae, tackle many of life’s most complex experiences.

What is a milestone? There are obvious ones in American society, like birthdays, being legally allowed to drink, getting your drivers license, etc. However, LaFae and Raven explore the true complex nature of our lives and acknowledge that many things happen, big and small, and happy or sad, that mark our passage through life. It is simple to find books featuring rituals for marriage and birth. “Life Ritualized” posits that rituals can not only make the good times better and more meaningful but can also provide solace and comfort in bad times. They cover about any life event you can think of, such as: fertility, adoption, birth blessings, miscarriage, abortion, graduation, new driver, new car, new job, new home, handfasting, retirement, grief, loss of job, menopause, pet burial, self-initiation, and more.

I’m obviously impressed by how thorough this book is in examining the human experience. Raven and LeFae share intimate moments from their own lives to illustrate times when you may want to use these rituals. What I appreciated the most is that although “Life Ritualized” is a “Witch’s Guide”, most of the rituals are appropriate for any open-minded, nondenominational group or individual.

If you’re interested in adding ritual, or more ritual, to your life, I highly recommend “Life Ritualized” by Phoenix LeFae and Gwion Raven’

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.

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The Alchemy of Stones

If you’re looking to do some serious inner spiritual work and you love crystals, I have the book for you. “The Alchemy of Stones: Co-creating with Crystals, Minerals, and Gemstones for Healing and Transformation” by Robert Simmons is certainly not the first book to suggest utilizing crystals for spiritual transformation, but it may be the first do so in such a thorough and thoughtful manner.

“The Alchemy of Stones” is a BIG book. Nearly 500 full-color pages in an oversized 7 x 11 inches format. A relatively large section is devoted to an illustrated glossary of summarizing the spiritual properties of over 375 crystals and minerals. Simmons starts with a discussion of alchemy and segues into the stages of alchemical transformation and provides meditative practices with specific stones to go with each stage. This includes gemstone elixirs, crystal body layouts, stone mandalas, and more.

“The Alchemy of Stones” is not for the casual crystal enthusiast. However, if you are committed to a spiritual transformation that is connected to the Earth, this is the 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.

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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.

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

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.

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.

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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.

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

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.

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

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.

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