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Author Archives: Anne Greco

About Anne Greco

Anne Greco is a non-fiction writer who writes about her life experiences and travels with humor, keen observations, and the hope that her words will remind us that “we’re all just walking each other home.” Her book, Serendipity: Chance Pilgrimages, tells the story of Anne encountering her places of power. As she reconnects with herself at each site, Anne also develops a deeper understanding and appreciation of her connection to both the seen and unseen worlds. Learn more about her work here: http://annegrecowriter.com.

A Spellbook for the Seasons, by Tudorbeth

A Spellbook for the Seasons: Welcome Natural Change with Magical Blessings, by Tudorbeth
Red Wheel Weiser, 9781590035375, 224 pages, March 2022

It’s always wonderful to step into a new season. How inspiring to embrace the changes in the natural world – differences in the light, the weather, the plants, the holidays. A Spellbook for the Seasons: Welcome Natural Change with Magical Blessing by Tudrobeth is a companion to the seasons that will greatly enhance your experiences and show you in so many ways how we are connected to the natural world.

Tudorbeth invites the reader to embrace the seasons and to “investigate these festivals (that are celebrated), the practical magic that flows through our seasons, and the gods that rule over the different times of the year.”1 I particularly liked that the book opens with two blessings: one for sisters and brothers around the world and one for the seasons and the turning of the wheel of the year.

The book is divided into the four seasons, with focus on each season’s garden, crystals, goddesses and gods, and spells, blessings and rituals. As I read the book in the spring, I focused most of my attention on that season. The spring months are associated with the Celtic deities such as Ostara, Belenus (Beltaine), and Brigid. The spring’s spells, blessings, and rituals include those for encouraging flowering in the garden, a daisy love ritual, and Ostara fresh air spell.

I performed the Ostara ritual on Ostara Eve, as the ritual is meant to embody hope, and then I made Ostara magic salt on the night of the full moon in March. When sprinkled around the home or office, it ensures bright ideas and business success. I now have my jar of pink salt sitting in a glass jar, ready for use! I enjoyed following Tudorbeth’s guidance and felt these small magical acts really attuned me to the energies of the season of spring.

For spring cleaning, there’s a small section on decluttering. I loved the Charm of Manannan. As Tudorbeth explains, the Celtic god, Manannan is a “foster father to the many children he takes under his care, and as a protector god he cares deeply for his children.”2 The Charm of Manannan is meant to bring about a loving and caring family home environment.

Additionally, there are rain blessings and rain energy spells that are meant to be done in a spring rainfall. The section on Beltane traditions provided an overview of Beltane, a cleansing detox ritual, and a spring sage clearing ritual. The Charm of Belenus is meant to be done toward the end of spring. The Charm is meant to invoke a happy, fun, and prosperous environment.

My recommendation for using this book to full advantage is to read the section on the upcoming season prior to the season’s arrival so that you have time to gather the items needed for the spells. While some might need to be collected at the last minute, such as flower-specific items, you can be prepared with other items such as salts, colored candles, essential oils, and shells. And then take your time in the season, experimenting with what you’re drawn to.

The sections on the season-specific garden offered suggestions on bringing wonder and magic into your outdoor space and inviting in the fairies. For spring, they include bluebells, hyacinth, and lily of the valley. As spring is associated with rain and showers, Tudorbeth focused on the power of the rainbow, and the suggested crystals include the colors of spring that form a pentagram of rainbows. The five spring crystals are rainbow opal, rainbow moonstone, rainbow obsidian, rainbow pyrite, and rainbow quartz.

The one downside for me was that some of the items were not readily available where I live such as periwinkle flowers or hawthorn twigs but again, with advance notice (e.g. reading the season in advance) I probably could have searched them out.

The other seasons are also given justice. Summer focuses on love, featuring Aphrodite and Apollo, a spell to welcome nymphs into the garden, Midsummer salt, a Lammas gratitude ritual, and a ritual for Midsummer enchantment. For Autumn, among other things, there is a clarity spell, an equinox healing ritual, a Mabon success spell, a Charm of Minerva (one of the three Roman deities who rule over the Autumn months), and a Samhain remembrance potion. Winter offers a first snow spell, an ice wand consecration ritual (if you are able to get an icicle), a Charm of Odin, midwinter tea, and an Imbolc ritual.

The most amazing part of A Spellbook for the Seasons is all the colorful, informative pictures. This is a gorgeous book to have on a table in your home because of the aesthetics that make it soothing to read through. The beauty of this book naturally entices one to want to perform with all the potent magic within. I really enjoyed the many hand-drawn illustrations, along with how the text on each page was simple and elegant. There is no clutter in the book, making it easy to focus on the spellwork or ritual you’re performing.

Tudorbeth is a hereditary practitioner of the Craft. The rules and gifts of herb lore, scrying, healing, tasseomancy, numerology, and candle magic have been passed down to her through several generations. I especially loved her reminder that we are meant to “use the gift that nature brings with these spells, but in return give something back … We are all connected to one another and everything around us. We are nature.”3 I highly recommend A Spellbook for the Seasons with encouragement to plan ahead to be able to use the knowledge imparted within its pages to full advantage.

Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards, by Swan Treasure

Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards, by Swan Treasure
Findhorn Press, 9781644113745, 44 cards, 159 pages, March 2022

I have used many oracle decks since I was first introduced to them three decades ago; some resonate with me and some don’t. However, the Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards by Swan Treasure had an immediate energy to them that I had never before experienced when first introduced to a deck. I had a strong feeling that there were many nature spirits and energies present that seemed to spill out of the box as I held the deck. 

Findhorn is not new to me. I had read quite a few books on this magical place in Scotland and how the nature spirits worked with the ecovillage’s founders Eileen and Peter Caddy and Dorothy Maclean on a barren landscape. With the help and direction of nature spirits beautiful gardens were created which eventually developed into a “planetary village” and the Findhorn Foundation which has a “spiritual lineage of cooperation with the subtle realms.”1

“The land surrounding the Findhorn community is indeed a blessed place, tended by a host of powerful and benevolent spirit forces.”2

Treasure worked with the subtle realms to write and illustrate this deck. The author bio reads:  “Her life is dedicated to raising human consciousness through co-creative spirituality so that we can remember, experience, and awaken the beauty of being fully alive on this planet.”3

The deck was “born” in 2018 at the Co-Creative Spirituality conference at the Findhorn Foundation. The pictures on the deck came through using a “meditative technique called touch-drawing”4 using only the hands and fingernails on tissue paper placed on a board on top of colors.  Spirit beings were invited to participate in the co-creation of the deck.

“The messages that have been received in connection with each of the spirit beings depicted in the cards encourage us to reconnect with our essential nature, to expand our awareness to new realities, to activate our full vital energy, and to engage our power of co-creation with the divine, opening to the joy of partnership with the subtle realms.”5

Each card image represents a spirit made visible to us in an understandable way. 

The deck follows the shamanic medicine wheel and the cards within the wheel can be used as a “tool to access the support and assistance of the spiritual realms both as a path for self-actualization and for divination purposes.”6

Treasure emphasizes patience and time in getting to know the energy of the deck. She recommends at least eight weeks to connect with these subtle realms, to experience the practices of the cards, and to enter the gateways of these energy portals. She also recommends that one asks permission before entering these spaces, with words such as “Am I allowed?”7. Swan also provides  details on consecrating the deck, and how to initiate opening and closing ceremonies when using the deck, all centering on spending time with these energies, not rushing, and extending respect to these guides. 

The deck consists of six sets of seven cards, each set representing a gathering of spirit beings associated with the four directions of the medicine wheel plus the directions of above and below. Within each set of seven there are three “significant” cards: a guardian spirit, a turning point, and a spirit akin to an animal or flower. She offers card layouts and types of readings, including the Shapeshifter Reading, The Essence Reading, and The Chakra Alignment Reading. There is a description for each card that includes a communication from the spirit, a focus, and a practice. 

The card illustrations are subtle and beautifully colored in tones that match the message of the spirit attached to the card. The Blessings card holds the appearance of a figure cloaked in white with what could be branches or hair emanating from the being’s head flowing upward. The predominance of the color green in the card is highlighted with bits of purple, the message being “let your presence be a blessing.”8

This card represents the Angel of Findhorn, who reminds us that we are living miracles. The focus of the card is on laughter, homecoming, and miracles. The practice encourages making drawings of angels and writing on them, “you are loved, I bless you”9 and signing them as the Angel of Findhorn.

The Victory card kept appearing in my work with the deck. Victory comes from the Realm Above with the message that the “warrior within uses resistance to awaken.”10 The colors of the card are various shades of green flecked with yellows, blues, and spots of red. The face of a strong figure predominates.

Victory represents the spirit of inclusivity that encourages one to “quiet down, go within, drop the survival fears that keep you enslaved.”11 The focus is on respect, balance, and contribution. The practice encourages a reflective pause. 

I highly recommend Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards. I’ve absolutely loved connecting with these cards. This deck has a very powerful elemental energy that results in accurate, heartfelt messages. It’s perfect for the springtime, as the nature spirits are in full bloom. If you do decide to get yourself a copy, I strongly suggest that you take the time to experience all that it offers as it introduces you to the unseen realms that have chosen to work with us.

Angelology, by Angemi Rabiolo and Iris Biasio

Angelology: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Celestial Superheroes, by Angemi Rabiolo and Iris Biasio
Red Wheel, 978159003529-0, 287 pages, March 2022

Described as a pop-illustrated encyclopedia, Angelology: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Celestial Superheroes by Angemi Rabiolo (author) and Iris Biasio (illustrator) is an introduction to the angelic realm that presents them as celestial superheroes, much like your favorite comic strip. The book covers angels from various religions and belief systems, and its aim is to “accompany readers on a spiritual journey to discover the power of angels.”1

The central theme of the book resonated with me, namely, “the idea of completing a path – a path that begins with God and leads to humans through the hierarchy of the angels.”2 Although, I’m not convinced that path is completed, for me it is more so walking the path, coming to a point, and then re-walking another path, this still resonated. The author encourages the reader to work with the angels on one’s spiritual evolution. Questions that generally accompany such an evolution include asking who am I, what is love, why is there suffering in my life (specifically) and in the world (generally).

And the Rabiolo and Biasio definitely met their intent of arousing curiosity and stimulation new reflections. The book is not a traditional angel encyclopedia in that the book’s purpose was not meant to “include everything ever written about angels.”3 The writings do, however, drawn on a variety of sources including angels found in the Bible, the Book of Enoch, the Koran, and from non-monotheistic religions such as those found in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Persian belief systems. The hierarchy of these beings of pure spirit is described from the Divine to the human. Included are writings on guardian angels as well as angels associated with certain zodiac signs and planets.

Eleven archangels are profiled as are 213 angels found in various religions traditions in angelic order. Archangels each have a specific task that “influences the existence of every human, and their incessant work permits humans to live their earthly life and to achieve spiritual fulfillment.”4

A Symbol Legend is provided for the archangels and the angels that shows Powers, Classifications in Islamic Tradition, Classification in Catholic Tradition, Classification in Hebrew Tradition, Belonging to the list of guardian angels according to Classification according to apocryphal texts and ancient astrology, theological, and theosophical traditions, as well as esoteric traditions, including evocative magic, peasant culture, and mystery religions, and Belonging to the list of guardian angels according to the Jewish-Catholic classification.”5

The section on the archangels contains more information that on that of the “regular” angels including the respective “power” of the archangel. It’s substantial in its information and includes a blue page for each archangel that writes about a topic pertinent to that specific archangel. For example, the blue page on Uriel describes why this archangel is not one of the archangels recognized by the Catholic Church. Since Sandalphon is the archangel associated with the Earth, the blue page on Sandalphon touches on the Elementals, the spirits of Earth’s elements.

The section on the 213 angels provides one page on each, including the meaning of the angel’s name and its powers. Other information might be its associated zodiac sign (Adnachiel for Sagittarius) or planet (Takiel for Jupiter), who it is the guardian angel of (Manakel for people born between February 15-19).

I enjoyed Biasio’s illustrations that portrayed angels as superheroes as would be found in a comic book. The main colors of yellow, red, and blue made the images pop. The image of Laylahel who governs all nocturnal phenomena, has a figure opening a blue cloak the inside of which is covered in a yellow moon and stars. Hesediel, the archangel of desire and benevolence is portrayed holding a cornucopia from which coins fall. All are fun!

I recommend Angelology as an introductory to the angelic realm. It provides a great overview and is chock full of angels (over 200!) from which one can choose to work with on any area of interest. If you want to work with the Zodiac angels, you’re covered. The planets? You’re covered. Areas such as generosity, peace, or relationships? You’re covered. However, if you are looking for deeper work with the angels, this book does not contain things such as affirmations or meditations on the angels. The book presents the angels in a non-threatening manner and as such it invites the reader to open up to working with these beings who are here, of course, to guide us.

Affirmations of Light in Times of Darkness, by Laura Aversano

Affirmations of the Light in Times of Darkness: Healing Messages from a Spiritwalker, by Laura Aversano
Inner Traditions, 9781644112717, 174 pages, June 2021

We all need to be reminded that we don’t walk through this life alone; that there is spiritual guidance afforded to us if we listen to our intuition. There are also people among us, spiritwalkers, who also offer us such guidance and reminders. Laura Aversano is such a spiritwalker. In her book, Affirmations of the Light in Times of Darkness: Healing Messages from a Spiritwalker, Aversano provides the reader with “activated” prayers and affirmations on eight major topics: light calling from the abyss, forgiveness, courage and grace, the pause, balance, reconciliation, changes of worlds, and healing voices from the pandemic.

Aversano comes from a line of seers or spiritwalkers. In her encouragement for the reader to remain in the present, Aversano states that “holding space has become a discipline for me and for my writing. And that is what I hope to achieve when you read my words – the ability to hold space in both the darkness and the light for us to heal individually and collectively.”1

At first glance one might be tempted to quickly read through the book as it has some affirmations that are very short. Other guidance is offered through a synopsis of what was experienced by her work with clients. Still other writings offer her observations on the world at hand. But these writing are anything but simple. They are multi-layered, giving one pause for thought. They are to be savored before being digested and absorbed into one’s psyche and daily practice.

In reading my reading, I sometimes found myself reading just a one-line affirmation and then closing the book to ponder what I read. Other times I enjoyed immersing myself in the topic at hand. She writes a lot on communicating with the “darkness” for as the darkness says, “you are as much afraid of me as you are of your light.”2

She walks with the reader through fear, anger, and one’s seeming powerlessness, offering a way to experience things in a more empowering manner. Her writings guide the reader to feel empowered by the beings of light that we all are. She encourages us to remember how powerful we are as these beings of light, if only we believe it. One beautiful line reads:

“The sun never realized the light of its own being until it paused one day to see all that blossomed in its path.”3

I found myself saying “yes” as I read her words, her suggestions, and her soulful prayers.

“When the mountain seems too difficult to climb, some choose to change their path. I choose to change my shoes.”4

A strong line, certainly, but how can I change my shoes in my own life? The writings are prompts, bits of encouragement, and constant reminding of how supported we are, but that we need to take this support to make changes.

“One of the greatest challenges you will ever face is the struggle against your own unworthiness.”5

When we truly believe ourselves to be worthy of love and peace in our lives, then we can move through challenges such as forgiveness and anger.

Aversano engages the reader throughout the entire book. She’s like a true best friend who helps to see you through the hard times, is your greatest cheerleader, calls you on your delusions, and refuses to come to your pity party. But like any best friend she does so without judgment. She engages the reader with every line, with every story. You can put the book down and pick it up where you left off – but hopefully as a bit more radiant being to the world. She reminds us that “You don’t chase dreams. You live them. You chase illusion.”6

She asks us to trust our hearts, to notice our perceptions of things, to not be afraid of how powerful we are. As you use her words to change your life, to change your perceptions, you might notice people leaving your circle. “When people leave your life, it’s not because they can’t be in your personal space. It’s because they can’t be in their own space while they are with you.”7

Through her writing, I’ve come to view Aversano as an elder, even though she is too young in her chronological age to be considered such, for as she writes, “An elder doesn’t show you the path. He shows you your strength, so you can walk the path.”8

I highly recommend Affirmations of the Light in Times of Darkness. Aversano’s words are a balm to a weary soul, a lighthouse in times of darkness, a reminder of the light within that we all possess. Her writings empower the reader to remove the dust and dirt that have clouded the light of our being. Sit with the book and then do the words justice by making them part of your life.

The Enchanted Moon, by Stacey DeMarco

The Enchanted Moon: The Ultimate Book of Lunar Magic, by Stacey DeMarco
Rockpool Publishing, 9781925946147, 247 pages, November 2021

Moonstruck. Dance by the light of the moon. Lunacy. Tides. Prehistoric cave drawing. Ahh – the Moon! She has always been a guiding force. 

Stacey DeMarco’s book, The Enchanted Moon: The Ultimate Book of Lunar Magic, is chock-full of valuable information on developing a relationship with the Moon to assist with living our lives in a magical way. I avoided saying “working” with the Moon because the book is rife with ways for us to play with the Moon, dance under the Moon, grow with the Moon – you know, have fun with the Moon, while deepening our relationship with our inner goddess/god and La Bella Luna. As DeMarco explains, “this is the witches’ way – practical and magical.”1

I was so excited to get the book that I dove right in. Yet there was so much information and great suggestions, coupled with an abundance of invocations, rituals, and spells, that I soon realized I needed to honor DeMarco’s work by then slowing down and picking and choosing what sections to focus on for my own work. I began to use the various sections to do deep dives into actually working with the power of the Moon

DeMarco begins by writing about the Moon scientifically: its gravitational force, tides, and even the light of the Moon and how it’s been used from the beginning of time. She then flows into the lunar rhythms and cycles, describing waxing and waning moons, new and full moons, eclipses, and blue moons – and the influences of each phase. As I write this, the Moon is in a waxing phase – a good time to set intentions for growth and for prosperity spells.

In the “Inner Cycles” chapter, I found it interesting to read that “the moon phase upon (one’s) birth triggered the beginning of life and remained as a person’s peak time energetically throughout life.”2 I began to pay attention to when the Moon’s phase was returning to where it was on the day of my birth and used this knowledge as guidance. It’s easy to look up the phase for your birthday, if you’re interested in doing the same.

DeMarco then delves into how one can start to practice lunar magic. She writes about three vital skills that are needed, noting:

“This is how I begin with my students who are serious about working with earth elements and lunar energies, and for all of them, you need nothing but yourself… YOU are the weaver of magic and magic starts with you. That is more than enough.”3

How empowering! The first skill is Observation – noticing the moon for a lunar cycle, observing the light, the star and planets, the moon’s surface.

The second skill is Sitting Out – Utiseta. “The practice of purposeful ‘sitting out,’ called utiseta was a meditative and somewhat shamanic activity.”4 She recommends as a start that one sits or lays in one’s garden (if you have one) for at least three hours for each lunar cycle, connecting with the earth and the moon.

The third skill is Casting Circles.  “In lunar magic, it is a reflection of the shape of that big moon above you and is a way to capture the energy.”5 The book delves into lunar rituals for both solo work and working with a group. 

For the 28 moons of the month, each magical in its own way, she offers “profiles of the energy, as well as a spell, ritual, and invocation or meditation…for the feel of the phase’s opportunity.”6

For instance, I loved the ritual of grounding and protection done under a dark moon. It was powerful to feel rooted in the earth, receiving goddess-given power from the earth knowing that the power was unlimited and protective. Admittedly, I felt more comfortable and less noticeable to my neighbors by doing my first ritual in the cover of darkness.

The next ritual I feel called to do is on the waxing crescent, with the intention of making our home a sanctuary for ourselves. I love working with my home at the beginning of the year, and will call on the friendly fires of Vesta, so this lunar work feels very aligned right now.

The book also details gardening “more successfully and magically”7 using the moon cycle. She also explains plants that can be used in lunar magic and shares about the wisdom of each plant. Coincidentally (I say that tongue in cheek), I’ve been wanting to buy eucalyptus, and now read that Stacey recommends it for clarity and strength, which are much needed right now! 

As DeMarco writes, “Almost every culture has a lunar goddess or god.”8, so the book also explores deities such as Hekate and Artemis. She also details working with animals of the moon, such as the hare that is often seen in the waxing moon.

The book concludes with working with crystals and potions, herbs, and baths. “The Never-Ending Learning” chapter offers resources such as DeMarco’s website and that of NASA. What I found to be a really amazing gift was that DeMarco included universal dark, new, and full moon charts for the next 15 years: 2022 – 2036. This is an amazing resource!

DeMarco is a sharer of her knowledge of lunar magic. Her work is remarkable; I use her Moon Magick: Deep Moon Messages mini-cards daily for a quick pull. I highly recommend her work, but especially The Enchanted Moon. It’s a resource, it’s a starter, it’s a guide – it’s all good things in relation to lunar magic rolled into one!

Discover Your Crystal Family, by Kathryn Hudson

Discover Your Crystal Family: Working with Stones and Their Angelic Messengers, by Kathryn Hudson
Findhorn Press, 9781644113028, 239 pages, October 2021

Stones find their way into my life. I once bought a 20 pound rose quartz crystal while shopping in HomeGoods for baking trays. When friends travel they bring me back stones that they found that “remind them of me.” When I was having “issues” at work, in addition to addressing the situation with my supervisor, I felt drawn to visiting the local rock shop and picked out a stone that I felt needed to be on my desk.

I clearly love stones, but until I read Discover Your Crystal Family: Working with Stones and Their Angelic Messengers by Kathryn Hudson, it never occurred to me that the stones were finding me. An interactive relationship in which they presented themselves but left it up to me to bring them into my life. Hudson offers a very interesting take on one’s relationship with stones. “Of themselves, crystals can do nothing for us: like angels, they can support only our intention in accordance with our free will.”1

The book is NOT a rock encyclopedia. While it does describe certain rocks, their qualities, and their angelic and chakra connections, it offers so much more than dry information. As Hudson explains, “crystals exist to help us find and follow our own path, helping us to find our way home to the truth of who we are.”2 They offer us support that we must be open and willing to accept. I especially loved how she connected the rocks to the “enormous power of our Mother Earth, with the universal support of the Heavens.”3

The book is divided into three parts. Part one, Crystals on Your Path – Understanding the Dynamic, offers four chapters, each dedicated to working with crystals in regard to one’s soul contract, working with crystals and angels, opening up the channels of communication, and choosing stones. I liked how Hudson referred to the crystals as our friends in “low places” since they are from the earth. “Crystals are part of Earth. They act as sensory points for her and her inhabitants…”4 According to her, they help us to heal ourselves and “so healing of ourselves helps the each because we are part of the earth.”5 This was a very beautiful sentiment to me.

While the stones are indeed our friends in low places, they also open us to our friends in high places: the angels. Again though, this is only with our invitation. Hudson writes of her connection to angels via the stones and offers ways and exercises for us to open up our channels to divine communication.

The first section concludes with ways to choose our stones by following what we are drawn to. I’ve tried this exercise of choosing by walking around a gem store and seeing what I was drawn to, often realizing that the type of stone that I initially thought I was going to the store to buy wasn’t what I came home with. But, it never has failed that what I chose was what I “needed.” Interestingly, variations such as jewelry, wands, tumbled stones, and natural stones are covered in depth for those seeking to lean more.

Part Two, Protocols for Healing – Let’s Get to Work, covers caring for the stones. It also offers a “deepening” meditation for connecting with the stones, with the reminder:

“The idea is not that the stones heal the chakras, but rather, that we access energies that we need; when we access and integrate those energies within us, our chakras are naturally aligned.”6

This was an interesting concept for me since up until then I had given all of the power to the stones, and short-shifted myself! Hudson also has a chapter in this section titled “The Fifteen: A Full Complement of Crystals and Archangels.” She provides overviews on 15 select stones, their related archangels, and the qualities for enhancement, such as inner child healed, personal power, and groundedness on the path.

In Part Three, the final section, Hudson encourages the reader to discover additional stone allies that they feel drawn to work with. The ones she offers are her own “favorite 44 friends in ‘low places.’”7 Each stone is nicely photographed and accompanied by it’s aspect (natural qualities), its strength (e.g., purification), and its related archangel (as the stones are energetic mirrors to the angel realm), chakra, affirmation, and message.

I liked this section because it provided a great overview for stones that I was drawn to purchase without knowing any of its qualities, such as Apache tear (a form of obsidian). I also found stones that I was not familiar with and now want to seek out, the main one being Fairy Stones, and ironically that stone is much-needed at this time in my life!

I’ve read many books over the years on stones, but this one stands out. I particularly like how Hudson shows the personalities of the stones. I agree with her that one should choose a stone that one is attracted to, as it will be in sync with your energetic field.

I also liked her reminder to choose a size to fit how you want to work with the stone. For example, if you’d like to have it at hand as a protector or reminder, choose a size that will fit in your pocket or purse or under a pillow. Look at the color stone to which you are attracted – and notice if it aligns with a chakra that needs opening or an energy that you need to awaken.

Hudson also touches on the many ways to cleanse stones from water baths, to moonlight baths, to sunlight– and offers a reminder on what stones should not be placed in water due to their delicate nature such as selenite.

Overall, I highly recommend Discover Your Crystal Family. Read through it to familiarize yourself with all that Hudson has to offer, and then keep it as a companion for reference or reminding. It’s easy to read and understand – and it bridges the Earth with the Heavens. As Hudson reminds us, “crystals exist to help us find and follow our own path, helping us to find our way home to the truth of who we are.”8

The Ayurvedic Reset Diet, by Vatsala Sperling, Ph.D.

The Ayurvedic Reset Diet: Radiant Health through Fasting, Mono-Diet, and Smart Food Combining, by Vatsala Sperling, Ph.D.
Healing Arts Press, 1644111307, 150 pages, January 2021

Ayurvedic – the word kept appearing to me in books and magazines. Curiosity finally got the best of me and I decided to delve into exactly what this thousands-of-years old system of what originated as medicine had to tell me. I decided to read The Ayurvedic Reset Diet: Radiant Healing through Fasting, Mono-Diet, and Smart Food Combining by Vatsala Spelring, Ph.D. to delve into my new diet adventure. Before beginning my journey, I wrote down what I thought an Ayurvedic diet would be like, and admittedly, though I wrote out what I thought of its benefits, my list of what it would taste like or how easy it would be to maintain came up short.

My list of positives: being mindful of food combining, talking to plants, eating unprocessed foods, giving thanks to the things I was about to consume, eating seasonally, eating raw. My list of negatives: I wouldn’t enjoy the diet, it would set me apart from how my family ate, I would be eating “weird” (aka non-familiar) food, the food wouldn’t be at all pleasurable akin to eating seasoned cardboard.

I found that this approach to food and eating had the ability to enact positive changes in my mind, body, and spirit. On a deep level I had known for years that eating seasonally, eating non-processed foods, eating raw foods, eating only when hungry, eating slowly – were all beneficial. I was glad to read that what I had been feeling for years was my body speaking to me – and leading me to a form of Ayurvedic eating without me labeling it as such. 

Sperling begins the book with an Introduction asking whether we view food as a friend or a foe. Do we view food as the enemy that allows us to put on weight? Do we view food as nourishing? Are we too busy counting calories that we neglect to give thanks? Are we eating mindlessly, or do we slow down and enjoy the food? Sperling states that Ayurveda is an “ancient system for understanding disease and health that considers food that is grown, cooked, and eating with reverence as both nutrition and medicine.”1 She then continues with the Ayurvedic concept that “we are and we become what we eat.”2

Next, Sperling introduces the reader to the five known “interconnected koshas, or sheaths, in the body, which include the annamaya kosha (physical body), the pranamaya kosha (vital life force), the manomaya kosha (mind), the vojnanamaya kosha (intellect), and the anandamaya kosha (the inner blissful self). The koshas are interrelated and affect each other. It is important to be mindful if we are eating to live or living to eat. If we are more mindful of what we are eating, why we are eating, and our relationship with the food, we can create positive effects on the five koshsas.”3 

Sperling also shares with readers three “simple steps in the time-tested Ayurvedic technique: fasting on water or water and herb teas to help flush out the system and rebalance gut bacteria, isolating food by eating only one type of food at a time to simplify digestion and allow the body to fully absorb all of the nutrients in a particular food (also known as mono-diet), and mixing foods from various food groups in a sensible way.”4

The book is divided into seven chapters, each laying out concepts in an easy to understand manner that delve into the above-referenced three steps. The challenge, at least for me, was a dedication to actually incorporating what I was reading into my daily life. The first three chapters focus on problems facing Mother Earth in how we eat and the negative impact of industry, food transportation, and food modification. Sperling brings to light soil depletion, the cruel treatment of animals to mass produce food, and the use of hormones. 

Chapter 1, “A Season for Everything”, touched on the importance of eating seasonally as did our ancestors. I’ve been trying to eat seasonally for many years, so this concept resonated with me. I try to eat what is grown locally, not shipped in from another continent. Our body needs food differently throughout the year – heavier eating in the winter (in the Northern Hemisphere), lighter in the summer. Root vegetables in winter, berries in summer. Check – I could handle this part of the Ayurvedic diet.

In Chapter 2, “The New Normal”, Loss of Seasonality and Quality in Modern Eating, Sperling writes about issues contributing to our eating outside of the season and our location including transportation of food, mass production of food, availability of non-seasonal food and even our propensity or eating out that often exposes the eater to modified food. Chapter 3, “Industrial Food Production”, focuses on how technology is being used to tame and modify nature and how what we eat affects the earth including the negative impact that the beef industry has on nature. 

The final three chapters hone in on the Ayurvedic diet beginning with the “reset” diet to reboot well-being. It’s been ingrained in us that we need to eat three square meals a day. For some of us, snacking is also a part of our eating habits. Sperling reminds the reader that this constant eating does not give our digestive system a chance to rest. Not only that, the non-stop eating usually means that we are also overloading our bodies with the “wrong” kind of food. She writes at length on the importance of eating foods that are “compatible” for digestion.

Food combining is also touched upon – eating more than one food group in a meal. In the Ayurvedic diet, one eats one particular food at a time in moderation as one’s body digests different foods differently. Chapter 5, “Preparing for the Ayurvedic Diet”, outlines practical actions to take as a prelude to beginning the diet such as clearing out the kitchen cabinets and re-stocking with recommended foods such as nuts, grains, and local, seasonal produce. Sperling includes recommendations for caffeine withdraw and the importance of proper hygiene and physical activity.

Chapter 6, “Eight-, Six-, and One-Week Protocols”, provides a step-by-step plan for the reader to begin the diet with whatever time frame seems most comfortable and doable. Finally, Chapter 7, “Daily Living”, concludes with encouragement and ways to sustain this way of living and being. 

Admittedly, I have not yet ventured into even a one-week protocol at this point, but I am taking the steps to clear my cabinets, be mindful of what I eat, when I eat, and even why I am eating. I’ve been feeling “polluted” lately and want to cleanse my body, my mind, and my spirit. The concepts of an Ayuvedic diet/lifestyle resonate with me. While I am not ready to fully embrace it, I will incorporate the concepts into my day. 

Sperling’s knowledge of the Ayurvedic diet is amazing. She was raised in this tradition as she grew up in India. She has a doctorate in microbiology and has conducted research with the World Health Organization. Impressive credentials, for sure, but what I most liked about Sperling was her writing style and her passion to impart this ancient way of being to others. I highly recommend The Ayurvedic Reset Diet, even if you’re not sure this is the right diet path. It is an eye-opener and life-changer in regard to how, why, and when we choose to eat.

The Inner Work of Age, by Connie Zweig, Ph.D.

The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul, by Connie Zweig, Ph.D.
Park Street Press, 9781644113400, 393 pages, September 2021

As a woman of a “certain age”, I was not surprised when the Universe placed The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul by Connie Zweig, Ph.D. in my hands. Of course, the information would be pertinent as I contemplated taking an early retirement option to join others in what is being termed the “Great Resignation”. And yes, I had faced a life-alerting disease that served as a wake-up call. The real question though, was how receptive I would be to doing the inner work offered in the book to shift from “role to soul.”

Dr. Zweig explores the “inner ageist” that exists in us, and in parables, stories, and interviews, “uncovers a realm of aging that is unexplored territory: the unconscious, or Shadow.”1 The book explores ways to remove inner obstacles to aging from the inside out and in doing so, connect to the soul.

Aging is not an option, of course. But how do we shift from a role-centered life to a soul-centered life? If you ask someone to tell you a little about themselves odds are they begin with describing what they do for a living; their role that’s earn money is often their first identity. The shift to doing one’s soul work, transitioning to the role of the Elder, does not automatically manifest due to one’s chronological age. It requires intention and inner work, which is outlined in the book.

The book is divided into four parts. Part One centers on Divine Messengers and offers ways to age from the inside out. How does one break one’s identification solely with one’s role and focusing on nourishing one’s soul? It describes three portals to aging consciously – shadow awareness (the portal to depth), pure awareness (the portal to silent vastness), and mortality awareness (the portal to presence). It also explores two divine messengers – retirement and life-changing illness.

This section of the book most resonated with me. The chapter on retirement offered me the opportunity to explore what was holding me back from accepting a very generous retirement package and shifted my focus to wanting time affluence – time to do what I want, when I want to do it – versus a fixation on financial affluence – and facing my shadow of fearing financial destitution.

Part Two focuses on Life Review and Life Repair where one is offered the chance to work in ways to review one’s life – both lived and unlived and the ways to repair and release the past in order to live more fully in the present. The section offers ways to repair one’s past, to look back and reconcile to move towards closure. In reframing the negative, one can see betrayals as initiations into the shadow.

The focus of Part Three is on moving from Hero to Elder and describes the many forms of the Elder archetype – the spiritual, the creative, the Earth, and the activist among others. Elder wisdom calls one to “serve something larger than ourselves” while also transmitting knowledge gleaned over one’s lifetime. Part Four centers on Life Completion and consciously moving toward a completed life. It allows one to reimagine death – not as a finality but as the completion of a cycle.

Each chapter of the book begins with a parable that exemplifies the chapter’s focus. Each chapter also contains interviews with a wide range of individuals from mystic Robert Atchely, Buddhist teacher, Anna Douglas, and two of my personal favorites, kirtan chant leader, Krishna Das and Jungian analyst, Marion Woodman. The interviews often encapsulate the focus of the chapters in a nutshell. I particularly loved how Marion Woodman spoke about the “crown of age,” knowing that the word crone is derived from the word crown – relating to the crown chakra.

As the book encourages action and inner work, at the end of each chapter one is offered questions focused on Shadow Work practices as well as Spiritual Practices, or “contemplative practices to turn your attention from role to soul.”2

“Each chapter offers practices from shadow-work and spiritual contemplative traditions to help us break through denial, become aware of these inner obstacles, and overcome them. These practices ask us to slow down, turn within, and self-reflect.”3

Dr. Zweig reminds the reader that “as each of us chooses not to merely grow old but to grow whole, to intentionally step across the threshold to become and Elder, we discover that aging can be a spiritual path.”4 There is a lot of “stuff” that comes up as one ages and reaches certain milestones that are too often associated with redundancy, where one feels relegated to the corner of the room, no longer viable, when one’s “doing” slows down and as such, one might be termed a liability to society and instead of an honored and revered member. This inner work, this move to self-awareness will greatly benefit the reader in particular – and one’s community as well.

Dr. Zweig’s writing style is easy to understand despite the book being laced with studies from publications such as the Harvard Gazette, Psychology and Aging, and Scientific American. Her descriptions of sessions with clients offer insight and analysis on various archetypes and Shadows, such as Victim and Victimizer.

I highly recommend reading The Inner Work of Age, but more importantly, I recommend doing the work as prescribed.

“With inner work, we move beyond midlife and cross a threshold into later life, emerging as the Elder. We let go of the striving and the pushing; we let go of the “should.” We release our past identifies but carry all that we’ve learned, all that we love, always, within us. In this way, we are evolving from role to soul.”5

Do the inner work necessary to transition to the role of Elder – you’ve earned that crown. Wear it with pride.

Seasons of a Magical Life, by H. Byron Ballard

Seasons of a Magical Life: A Pagan Path of Living, by H. Byron Ballard
Weiser Books, 987-1578637232, 197 pages, August 2021

Take a breath, pause, and gift yourself the time to delve into Seasons of a Magical Life: A Pagan Path of Living by H. Byron Ballard. In doing so, use the wisdom shared in this book to create a guide to a more connected way of living and co-existing. As Ballard writes, “this book is an invitation to modern Pagans to return to a simpler and quieter time, either literally or virtually, through letters from a small forest-farm in the southern highlands of the Appalachian Mountains.”3

The educationally credentialed author, H. Byron Ballard (BA, MFA), is a teacher and folklorist as well as a senior priestess. Her life and work are centered in Asheville, North Carolina, where she is a co-founder of Mother Grove Goddess Temple and the Coalition of Earth Religions. 

As I read, I felt as if I was accompanying Ballard around her farm. I could smell the air, feel the weather, and taste the food offerings. I was afforded the experience of spending time with her and the life force that surrounds her in her mountain setting and, by extension, the life force that surrounds me in my setting. 

As the cover indicates, the book focuses on the celebrations, festivals, and rituals for the Wheel of the Year. It is divided into three parts. Part One is a five-chapter section that offers background essays “Animism, Mutual Aid, and Permaculture”, “Tower Time and the Conceit of the Ever-Turning Wheel”, “A Different Means to Reckon Time”, “Re-enchantment and the Uses of Magic”, and “the Good Neighbors, the Land Spirits”.

Part Two is comprised of two chapters, focusing on the Wheel of the Agricultural Year: “Winter, The Waxing Year” and “Summer, the Waning Year”. Within those chapters are the equinoxes of spring and fall. “The chapters are broken into the four seasons, with the Quarter Days a highlight within each, and include simple skills that accompany each marker of the year.”4

Part Three wraps up with “Hearth”, a “chapter on the spiritual and physical immersion into these seasons”5 no matter where one lives, rural, urban, or suburban. 

The essays offered in Part One are intended to “not only give the reader a map of (the) journey but also to introduce some ideas to better inform the journey.”6 Some essays were written as if Ballard was talking to a friend as they climbed a hill, while others unfold in a more informational manner, such as the sections on Ember Days and Embertide and Rogation Days.

As one who communicates daily with the trees and rocks that surround my house, I loved the writings on animism and permaculture. Re-enchantment? Yes, please; I could use a healthy dose of that. However, I recommend taking time to sit with what is being offered in these essays as some are more “heady” than others.

I liked how Ballard did not write about these topics in a clinical, detached manner. She walks the reader around her property as she delves into these subjects; the reader is invited to sit at her kitchen table as she prepares meals. Living seasonally, living and working by the natural light, living with the rhythms of nature. 

Wanting to not only read the book but also practice the activities offered, when I finished the section on the essays and moved to Part Two, the “Wheel of the Year”, I began reading the final chapter first, Chapter 7, “Summer: The Waning Year,” as I received the book a few days before Lammas, the Season of the First Harvest.

As with all of the sections on the Wheel of the Year, Ballard offers a letter from her forest-farm, skills to use, chores to be completed, foods for the season, traditions and celebrations, activities to do with children and other friends, an icon of the season and a concluding paragraph on season’s end.

For Lammas, in her letter from her forest-farm, she writes about how hot and dry the farm now is and surveys what is happening in the garden – an abundance of squash and tomatoes, days of “sweat and effort.”7 She offers a lesson on bread-making including the “philosophy” of kneading and sour dough. Chores such as canning and pickling are covered. Traditions and celebrations such as the blessed loaf and the ceremony of cakes and ale are introduced.

The Lammas section continues with recommended activities for Children and Other Friends, including shaping a loaf person and making corn dollies. The icon written about is Wheat as Lammas is “the first in a series of three harvest festivals that is usually dominated by bread – making it, shaping it, and eating it.”8

It concludes with a paragraph on Season’s End that encapsulates the essence of the season, for Lammas, namely looking to the “symbol of the harvest and what that means about gratitude in your life – how you express it, how you use it.”9

She asks the reader to look at the intention that was planted in the Spring — both literally and symbolically and see if the reader tended to this intention — and if it’s ready to “feed you now, that thing that you imagined planting?”10

The book’s final section delves into the aspects of hearth and homely life. She praises homeliness – simplicity in one’s home, comfort, pleasant but ordinary. She invites the reader to view the kitchen as living space for nurturing physically and emotionally. Home altars both indoors and outdoors are discussed as spiritual anchors. Ironically, while I have a home altar, I hadn’t thought of creating an outdoor altar until reading this book. She writes of – are you ready? – laundry as a meditative practice, which after reading I now understand. 

I especially love the book’s concluding lines, offered as a friend waving as you depart their home and sending you off with love:

“There is so much to do, every day, to tuck in the ends of this weaving we are creating: to observe and really see, to listen and really hear, to integrate our intuition and our Ancestral memory into a practice so practiced it no longer feels artificial. It only feels like living a good life and a full one.”11

I highly recommend not only reading Seasons of a Magical Life – but living it. For those who are looking to deepen their connection to the natural cycles of the year, this is a great book to have in one’s library. It offers simple, practical ways to engage with the seasonal energy of the year as it makes its way around the wheel of time. Many of these small practices are certain to enchant one’s life and bring a deeper sense of purpose to the small actions we do daily, fostering an appreciation of the current moment in time that is grounded yet extraordinarily magical.

Moon Magick, by Stacey Demarco

Moon Magick: Deep Moon Messages, by Stacey Demarco, designed by Sara Lindberg
Rockpool Publishing, 9781925946154, 40 cards, April 2021

Moon Magick: Deep Moon Messages by Stacey Demarco is a charming deck of affirmation cards to help one connect with the cycles of the Moon. Stacey has a strong background in paganism and moonology and has published other items such as Queen of the Moon Oracle and the annual Lunar and Seasonal Diary.

The tiny deck is pocket-sized and avails itself to pulling a card a day. As Stacey recommends, “Pull a single card each morning; it is a simple act that will help guide your day with a solitary insight. Hold the affirmation to your heart and integrate it for the day.” 1  There are 40 cards in total, each measuring 2 inches by 4 inches. Each card contains an image on one side and a one-line affirmation on the other. 

“Our ancient ancestors often relied on divination to gain insight. We, too, as modern people can also benefit from receiving regular messages from the energies.”2

The illustrative side of each card is connected to either a Moon god or goddess or a phase of the Moon. Gods and goddesses represented include Dionysus, Diana, Artemus, Tu’er Ye, Hina, Hekate, Mani, and Baiame. The illustration for Tu’er Ye, or the Rabbit on the Moon, depicts a white rabbit standing on its haunches positioned against a full moon with varying shades of blue against a star-filled sky. The accompanying affirmation is “I choose to take a higher perspective and widen my views.”

The remaining cards focus on the phases of the moon: dark, waxing and waning crescent, first and last quarters, waxing and waning gibbous, full, super moon, blue moon, micro moon, and eclipse. I was most drawn to these images that just depicted the Moon, as some illustrations included images of people or animals.

The New Moon card was illustrated with a tiny sliver of a pinkish moon against a navy sky, with white clouds below and a few stars in the sky. “I accept renewal and delight in fresh starts”3 was the accompanying affirmation. 

The waning gibbous card depicts a woman sitting cross-legged on a rocky ledge, palms resting upward on her knees, as she stares at the yellow rising sun, large white moon above. “I seek balance and grounding”4 is the affirmation.

While I recognize that the deck is an affirmation deck, I think a small accompanying booklet describing the phases of the moon and the gods and goddess would have deepened the meaning of the affirmations for me. It’s nice to read the affirmations, but I don’t know enough about the deities or moon phases to make a personal connection, and going off the affirmations I don’t really get a full message from the cards, just an affirmation with no explanation of how its related to the card’s imagery. If you want a deeper dive into the Moon I recommend Demarco’s items previously mentioned.

However, I would recommend using Moon Magick to connect to the wisdom of the Moon and for its use to start your day, as long as you are looking for a bit of inspiration. The card can be quite calming to one’s mind and soul. For instance, to begin my day today, I pulled the waning crescent card that affirmed “I am loved beyond measure.” Priceless! I enjoyed this affirmation very much and have carried the sentiment with me through the day.