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Author Archives: Allyson Seal

About Allyson Seal

Allyson Seal is The Art + Sex Witch. Their pronouns are she & they. If they were a tarot spread, they would be The Three of Swords, The Empress, and The Star. If they were a planet, they would be Pluto. Allyson is a psychic medium, an artist, and a teacher. They believe that we can heal the wounds of our hearts and our spirits through our own attention. They also believe that it’s more fun if we do it together with creativity and sensuality. You can learn more about them at theartandsexwitch.com.

The Ways of the Water Priestess, by Annwyn Avalon

The Way of the Water Priestess: Entering the World of Water Magic, by Annwyn Avalon
Weiser Books, 1578637249, 238 pages, January 2021

The Way of the Water Priestess: Entering the World of Water Magic is a profound initiation. As you dive in, author Annwyn Avalon makes clear the distinction between being initiated into a lineage and going straight to the source of your own channel with spirit, your own intimacy with water. This is a sacred text that attunes you so deeply to what you are mostly made of. 

Avalon is a water priestess and a water witch. She is the founder of Triskele Rose,  an Avalonian witchcraft tradition. This book called to me because I wanted to deepen my relationship to water as an act of devotion.

“The work of a water priestess is expressed in various sacred practices like enchanting the waters, facilitating rituals, creating healing ceremonies, and preparing sacred baths.”1 

Each of these rich chapters had me diving into portals of sovereignty and healing. Avalon does a fantastic job weaving together concrete practices, lineages and history, as well as myth and story. In my personal practice, this book was the first step in so much unfolding. I embraced her invitation to me, “While you cannot initiate yourself as a priestess, you can dedicate your life to the sacred waters.”2

For me, this began with building my own water altar. This first step has been potent in my work as a priestess.  And when I say priestess, I mean  being willing to show up and do the work in devotion to tend and clean the altar; to center your acts of service to the water. 

The Way of the Water Priestess is created in such a way as to offer us that sacred journey of initiation, pulling on deities and archetypes, myths, as well as daily devotional practices. This book is beautifully written with a wealth and depth of knowledge. All geared towards you, discovering your own information. Avalon creates a framework for you to foster your own intimacy with the waters. These are concrete and specific tools to connect you to your path. 

My daily devotional, as Avalon calls it, with the water has deepened. Avalon offers prayers to help guide you through every step of the journey. There’s such an incredible wealth of knowledge, rooted, most particularly like Celtic and Roman traditions. I have found myself turning to this book over and over as I’ve struggled with my human being life. “You will find that the lesson of the river is different from the lesson that floral water, a sacred bath, or a gem elixir might teach you.”3 I so appreciated being guided to discover my own sacred relationship with the river, allowing it to be my guide in surrender and flow. 

I drink so much water every day. I’ve experimented with some of the ways that Avalon offers us to bless the water. “Sound is also a good way to create healing water… You can simply start with your voice and tone the water with vowel sounds.”4 You can find a beautiful water prayer on that same page. I love this practice as a way to begin my morning and set intention for my day. The more I’ve dedicated myself to this practice, the more I’ve found my words to honor and bless the water I put in my body. My stepdaughter’s favorite practice is to charge her water with the full moon

Avalon’s way of being in deep ritual practice with water is an invitation to reclaim your sovereignty through devotion and service. 

“As priestesses, it is vital that we honor the water and spirits we work with. But we must also become trusted conduits for their energies by living in sacred union with them and tending their temples–our own physical temples, the temple of our bodies, and the natural temples where the water flows. When in these states of sacred union, we become a vessel through which the spirit can speak.”5

This book serves such a depth and breadth of wisdom as to belong on every bookshelf, from novice to maven water carrier. It accessibly unpacks fundamentals like working on the holy days of Beltane, Samhain, and the like. It explores the art of ritual, water divination, and the path of the priestess. For those steeped in their own traditions and lineages, it offers context and spell work

If you are looking for your activism in this world, I invite you to welcome your devotion and service to water as being a part of how we collectively transform the world. I feel so much more able to hear the message of the water for me in encountering these practices and tools, and the power that comes when approaching this work as a devotee. As a being in service to something so much greater than myself. Everything you need to start is in The Ways of the Water Priestess.

The Heart Path Oracle Cards, by Nadine Gordon-Taylor

The Heart Path Oracle Cards, by Nadine Gordon-Taylor
Bear & Company, 1591433903, 53 cards, 128 pages, September 2020

The Heart Path Oracle Cards tell stunning, evocative stories through rich imagery. Nadine Gordon-Taylor, artist and author, offers us the beauty of the natural and the mythic world with incredible technical skill and a visceral understanding of color. Each of these 53 cards holds the galaxy within them.

Gordon-Taylor is able to render exquisite details in a surrealist landscape. Her intimate understanding of the natural world allows this vivid imagery to come alive. The images themselves are portals, offering an initiation into the energy they hold. Each card comes with text that aids you in understanding the transmission of the image if this visual way of understanding the universe is new to you. The visual depth of each card also allows you to put the book aside for your own journey and information to emerge. 

Gordon-Taylor holds an MFA and EdD. She is a classically-trained visual artist. She has a depth of knowledge of both the natural world and the mythological one. The accompanying book offers a vivid description of what is held within the card itself. She includes a channeled message of the card as well as an affirmation to anchor the energy of that card in your body. It is a helpful tool, particularly if you are a beginner in using oracle decks, to deepen your intimacy with yourself and with the more than human world.

I confess, I quickly put aside the booklet, more drawn to the imagery than the writing. As someone who sits with clients regularly, tarot or oracle deck in hand, I found that these cards deepen the divinatory and narrative arc of the reading. They are generous in how they invite you into the mysteries of yourself, of the natural world, of the cosmic and elemental energies swirling around us just waiting to be acknowledged. 

One thing I loved about this deck as I sat with clients is how deftly it moved from the mundane to the inner realms of the heart to the outer realms of the galactic. Each card holds the human-being experience, and how it is that we root into the earth and reach up to the stars. 

As a white person working with a variety of decks, I appreciate in this deck that there are different races and ethnicities as well as some variation in body size.

There are some cards that feel like initiations into the deeper mysteries. Some cards that remind you it gets better. These cards can be an instruction on your spiritual path. “Programming your Highest Intentions” is a card that invites you to use the power of intention to change the reality of your everyday life. There is a playful irreverence to some of the messages. This artist allows vitality and play as a through-line to her work. 

My favorite card, “The Connection” invites you to take deep breaths. A woman-tree at the center of a grove of trees is circled by lambs and her tree family. Above, helping guides offer peace and love. The trees themselves take the shape of a heart. The use of light and shadow brings both grace and soft intensity. It reminds you that you are always held in the nest of the universe. 

The guidebook is practical and accessible as it speaks to these great cosmic archetypes and energies. It is a tool that will meet you where you’re at and invite you to go deeper into what you are seeing and feeling with the imagery. There is a glossary at the back of the book to support you in your growth and learning, if you come to these cards as a beginner. I celebrate the work to take these profound energies and make them accessible. 

Each card is laid out so that the painting fills the majority of the frame. The text of the card gives both title and baseline instruction. Take deep breaths, setting boundaries, manifest your dreams, birthing a new life. In this way, you can be in imaginal space and communion with the card without having to refer to the book. The book will take you deeper if you desire it. For me, the style of writing didn’t land with how I receive and understand information. 

The Heart Path Oracle Cards are truly for anyone who wants help in deepening understanding the messages of love that are offered to us from the unseen world, from the natural world, from our own bodies and hearts. It is a fantastic beginner deck because it delves into profound concepts in accessible ways. For me, this deck inspires me to get outside, to breathe, and to remember my vital, small role in the great organism of the universe. 

Elemental Magic, by Nigel Pennick

Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working with the Energies of the Natural World, by Nigel Pennick
Destiny Books; 3rd Edition, 1620557587, 144 pages, October 2020

Nigel Pennick’s Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working with the Energies of the Natural World contains multitudes. There is so much depth and wisdom here for you to explore, experiment, and deepen your magic. I am truly blown away by Pennick’s ability to offer eloquent and clear breadth and depth within this slender forest-green handbook. I feel as if I have happened upon an essential tome for my magical practice as a person living through environmental crises. 

The time for this book is right now. Pennick is grounded, both in terms of his clear writing style and in his offering of foundational practices that will benefit both the burgeoning witch and the established practitioner. On the back cover, Pennick is named an authority on ancient belief systems, traditions, runes and geomancy. This book is an impeccable example of that authority. 

Pennick touches on the essential elements of the practicing magical person, and he is able to do so with clarity and brevity. What I loved about this book is that Pennick has taken the esoterica out of the transmission. He communicates accessibly so that we can enter into these practices and rituals. His clarity allows our intimacy with the earth and natural magic to foster the mystical and the ineffable.

This text is truly a practical reference for so many aspects of natural magic. Pennick touches deftly on the fundamentals: “Saturday is dedicated to the Roman god of aging and time, Saturn.”1 and “Fire symbolizes the lightest things of existence, the energy and spirit.”2 If you are a beginner, trust that this handbook is an instructive initiation.  

My favorite chapter, “The Magic of the Land,” surfaces the ensouled landscape. It talks about how “there are certain places in the natural landscape, whose spirit is more likely to be noted by human… they are all holy grounds, at which something intangible but nevertheless, real is present.”3 Reading this book reminded me how deeply woven I am into the fabric of the land, and that my intimacy with the natural world is a place where magic springs.

Elemental Magic can absolutely be read from start to finish. It also invites you to sit down, open to an unexpected page, and discover what awaits you. At one such moment with this book, I found myself reading about the crossroads and the labyrinth. Pennick says “Crossroads are good places to make magical ceremony.”4 He offers that labyrinths “create an anchor energy, their spirit is energized by human activity.”5

This is a book of a multitude of beginnings. Pennick gives you just enough information to pull you in, to spark your curiosity, to get you started in your communion and magick-making. And you get to find out for yourself what the tree, or the stone, or the labyrinth has to offer. It is beautifully constructed for a beginner who craves a broad overview. This book stands as an excellent resource and reference for the more established magical practitioner because it is organized so succinctly. It is organized in chapters that explore the plants, minerals, animals, the land itself.

One of my favorite practices offered was part of the “Magic and Action” chapter on making and charging a magical talisman. I invited a friend into this practice. First, we each created the talisman. We then followed Pennick’s protocol, including working with the astrology of the moment and lunar cycle. Both of us felt not only the pleasure of crafting our own magical tools but also the potency of the spell work.

One of my favorite things about this book is how much it is just a welcome beginning to having your own unique experience. Pennick is impeccable at walking that line between offering you his approach and perspective, promising you the richness of what is to come in your own intimacy with these practices, and truly leaving the space for you to discover the magic for yourself. 

Orienting towards nature is a vibrant and necessary practice so deeply needed in our lives, so often mediated through technology. Elemental Magic allows you to truly see and understand yourself as a part of the more-than-human world. It is an honor to have such easy access to these profound and fundamental principles. This book is light enough to keep with you wherever you go and helpful enough to make the carrying of it worth it. 

In particular, if you are a person of European descent who is seeking ways to reconnect with your lineage, use this book. For me, this book has been a continual reminder to go outside, to enjoy the song of the wind, to make magic exactly where I am, the sun on my skin, rooted in the dirt. 

Seasons of the Witch: Samhain Oracle, by Lorraine Anderson and Juliet Diaz

Seasons of the Witch: Samhain Oracle: Harness the Intuitive Power of the Year’s Most Magical Night, by Lorraine Anderson and Juliet Diaz
Rockpool Publishing, 978-1925924657, 180 pages, October 2020

I knew the deep magic of Halloween well before I ever heard the name Samhain. Sound familiar? This potent tome and deck of wisdom offers you the secrets of this sacred time in just the style to make your witchy heart sing. The Seasons of the Witch: Samhain Oracle is a powerful transmission by mavens of their craft, Lorraine Anderson and Juliet Diaz. Anderson draws on her varied cultural heritage, which includes Benish, Romanian, and Irish. She is the co-founder of Sacred Craft Academy, an online school for mysticism and spiritual truth. Juliet Diaz is an Indigenous Taino Cubana. She is the author of Witchery: Embracing the Witch Within. This magical deck is exquisitely illustrated by Giada Rose, a Kentucky-based illustrator and designer who “strives with her paintings to create a portal into stillness,”1

This deck first pulled me in by it’s witchy aesthetic that is a little Charles Addams, a little Edward Gorey, and a whole lot of visual intuition and expressive magic. These images have an incredibly witchy vibe to them. The color palette is beautifully autumnal. The red gilt edges and details remind you that you are about to enter into ritual. Each card pairs a few lines of poetry with an evocative image to make this an accessible deck for working your will as a witch or witchling. This deck speaks so beautifully to young witches curious about what the craft might mean to them, especially as they deepen their knowledge of this sabbat. Any experienced witch who favors this season will no doubt enjoy the chance to immerse themselves in these archetypes. 

Samhain Oracle has come into my hands closer to Ostara, the spring equinox, than Samhain, the vernal equinox. I so appreciate being brought back into the energy of the thinning veil, of long, quiet nights to explore the inner realm. This deck does that impeccably. 

I offered my stepdaughter a reading with these cards over tea one afternoon; the deck practically begs for such precious rituals. We both loved how the poetry allowed us to wend our way into the cards with its familiars, tools, and archetypes of Samhain. The guidebook took us so much deeper in language both profound and accessible. One card we drew together was Dark Moon. A slender white woman set against the dark moon releases smoke from her palm — “In the dark of your heart lives new breath / waiting for you to release its ghost.”2 The card was on point for us both.

There are a couple cards that sing to me in particular. Wolf (44) offers two slender, white-skinned witches sitting at the hearth. The room they are in is both a home and a galaxy. The full moon shows its face through the window as a white wolf howls. There is so much vitality and quirkiness to these drawings, the hand of the artist is present in the way ink and watercolor stain the page and in the way objects are drawn. Wolf invites you all to “devour the ferocious calling within the howling of your / spirit. Run wildly into the freedom of your knowing.”3 

Pulling Healer (22) we see the lone woman of color represented in this deck; her soft, direct gaze centered by the full moon behind her and the full and crescent moon that sit at her third eye as she stands in ceremonial, feathered regalia. She invites us to “listen as the medicine bleeds through her / teeth, a river of mercy blessed by Mother. / Seen only by those who hold her mirror.”4 There’s something powerful in the joining of these paintings and poems; it gives you so much space to allow meaning to arise from the cauldron of your belly.

Throughout the deck there are so many potent symbols — Owl, Cauldron, Frog, The Veil. As I attune to the cards, I find they offer so much space for inquiry and curiosity. The visuals strike an exquisite balance between the macabre, so appropriate to the season, the whimsical, and the alchemical rooted in the power and agency of the wielder.

I am not usually that interested in guidebooks. Here with this deck, the book feels essential, particularly for those people who are learning to deepen their craft. There is an exquisite attention to color in Candle Magic (9); There is a wealth of information on the magical properties of Crystals and Herbs (12). This book is clearly written by experts in their fields — knowledgeable, wise women who want to make this knowing accessible.

I appreciate that Anderson and Diaz offered the reversal of each card. When you pull Wolf in reverse, the card invites you to “let yourself run wild, howl at the moon, dance naked, laugh for no reason, and sing your heart.”5 This deck is full of life that invites the querent to embody the wisdom offered in these cards through their own lived experience. 

Another delightful thing about the deck is how easy it is to shuffle the cards. They are thick enough to feel substantial and bendable enough for the perfect bridge shuffle. The flash of red as you work them is on point for the season. 

Seasons of the Witch: Samhain Oracle is a tool for someone who wants to understand witchcraft more deeply. It does not shy away from the more high sensation pieces of the witchy human-being experience–grief, transformation, letting go, being a bridge between the seen and unseen world. 

My deck is already promised to my stepdaughter, who is eagerly awaiting it. Hopefully, she’ll let me borrow it on occasion. It is a wonderful remember of how much poetry can help to anchor an idea while giving it room to grow. I absolutely plan to gift this to my playful, witchy friends when my favorite holiday looms.