The Path of the Witch

When someone decides to study witchcraft, it can be a bit daunting. A practice that has ebbed and flowed based on the times is currently on an upswing and access to information on the subject is more plentiful than ever. On one hand, now is a great time to take up study, on the other, I don’t envy the newcomer attempting to discern where to start. Author Lidia Pradas does a great job trying to help seekers out with her latest book “The Path of the Witch: Rituals & Practices for Discovering Which Witch You Are.”

Pradas takes up the challenge of describing the similarities and differences between several different paths of witchcraft. Are you a green witch, kitchen witch, Wiccan, cosmic witch, elemental witch, sea witch, eclectic, or something else or combination? Pradas takes care to ensure eclectic witches don’t fall into the trap of cultural appropriation, an important issue. She is respectful in explaining the fundamentals of different branches of the witchcraft tree. Not only is this helpful for beginners, but I found it a wonderful was to reevaluate and reconsider my own current practice.

“The Path of the Witch” by Lidia Pradas is a great resource for anyone interested in the many ways you can approach the practice of witchcraft.

You can learn more here.

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The King in Orange

Early on, author John Michael Greer makes sure you know that he speaks about magic following the definition provided by Dion Fortune, “Magic is the art and science causing changes in consciousness in accordance with will.” Knowing this makes it easier to see the intersection of magical influence and politics, the subject of Greer’s latest book, “The King in Orange: The Magical and Occult Roots of Political Power.” I feel like these days we’re all armchair politic pundits, I know I am. However, it takes a certain amount confidence to write a book on the divisive topic of politics and up the ante by adding magic to the mix. Since schools of magical thought are always known for being an eternal spring of agreeability (yes, sarcasm).

Greer does an excellent job explaining the primary division amongst Americans as being investment class, salary class, wage class, and welfare class. Your experience of America is greatly based on where you fall in these categories, with the investment and salary classes being catered to and the wage class and welfare class being left to fend for themselves. It is a more refined version of the “problems with the vanishing middle class” concern that politicians bandy about and that many Americans are actually experiencing. Everyone gets an opinion on why Trump won in 2016, and Greer’s is that the wage class was motivated by promises of bringing jobs back to the United States. A new generation Jim Carville’s, “It’s the economy stupid.” “The King in Orange” spends a great deal of time exploring Greer’s thoughts on the mundane reason for the Trump victory, which also include bring soldiers home and the wage class’s struggle with Obamacare.

Things get more interesting when Greer starts tracking the chaos magic of the 4Chans, and the reactionary workings of the magical resistance. “The King in Orange” does an excellent job comparing and contrasting not only the philosophies of these groups, but also their operational practices. There is much to be learned about magic, just from the author’s observations and explanations.

“The King in Orange” is a thought provoking look at the 2016 election through the prism of Greer’s political opinions and magical experience. Whether you agree 100% with his findings, you will still find yourself with much to consider.

You can learn more here.

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Don’t Lose Your Head

I don’t really care about British royal history. I don’t watch royal weddings. I don’t follow news about the royals. I just don’t get it. Whether modern or historical I generally shrug. However, there is something I truly love, and that is reclaiming the stories of women who have been vilified in the past. That is why when I received an invitation to review “Don’t Lose Your Head: Life Lessons from the Six Ex-Wives of Henry VIII” by Harriet Marsden, I took up the offer.

Like most people, I am familiar with Henry VIII due to his multiple marriages that almost entirely ended with him having his wife killed. That was pretty much it. So, I knew Henry VIII had to be an asshole, but not much else. I mean, that many marriages? After a couple you must assume the problem is him. After reading “Don’t Lose Your Head” I can safely say, yeah, it was him.

Marsden firmly plants her tongue in cheek and lets her feminist flag fly as she hilariously recounts the stories of all of Henry’s wives in their own voices. Whether speaking confidentially, or bad mouthing each other from beyond the grave, you will learn the stories of Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. These are stories of political cunning, sexual prowess, gender politics, marriage philosophies, and more. You can’t help but come away with an appreciation for these assorted women, and yup, still think that Henry VIII was a jerk.

Marsden’s wit and conversational style makes “Don’t Lose Your Head” the kind of British royal history book that anyone can enjoy!

You can learn more here.

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National Unicorn Day

Did you know that tomorrow is National Unicorn Day? Well, it is. One year it was brought to my attention that April 9th is National Unicorn Day and since I like unicorns, I made note of it on my calendar. However, a cursory internet search could not tell me WHY April 9th became National Unicorn Day, just that it is. And that concludes the historical portion of this article.

Honestly, there has just been a bumper crop of unicorn related books lately and I thought this would be a could occasion to give you a giant list o’ links to check stuff out. How better to celebrate unicorns than by buying books about unicorns, right?

You might remember that in January 2020 I profiled a “Stampede of Unicorns!” That review features “Unicorn Magic” by Tess Whitehurst, “Llewellyn’s Little Book of Unicorns” by Angela Wix, and “The Wonder of Unicorns” by Diane Cooper. It turns out that Diane Cooper also has “The Wonder of Unicorns Game” and “The Wonder of Unicorn Cards!” She even has a compact disc of guided meditations, “The Unicorn Meditation.”

I personally own a very worn-out copy of “The Unicorn Tarot” by Suzanne Star with art by Liz Hilton. The outer box art has changed, but the deck is the same.

It is out of print, but if you want to read the book that turned me into a unicorn fan, try and get a hold of “The Unicorn” by Nancy Hathaway. If you can get one in good condition, it would make a beautiful coffee table book. Of course, mine is so worn out it can barely stay together, let alone let visitors casually flip through it!

Lastly, you cannot discuss unicorns without mentioning “The Last Unicorn.” After all this time the animated film is still magical and the book by Peter S. Beagle is even better! I own the DVD, and two different print runs of the novel! Perhaps Friday is the perfect day to dig out the DVD, or reread the book?

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, I hope you have a magical National Unicorn Day!

*Some of the links in this article are affiliate links to IndieBound or Bookshop.org. These sites support independent books stores in the United States. If you use these links to purchase a book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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.

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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.

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