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Author Archives: Cindie Chavez

About Cindie Chavez

Cindie Chavez, "The Love & Magic Coach", is a certified life and relationship coach as well as an author, speaker, and teacher. She has a reputation for bringing astounding clarity and having a wicked sense of intuition. She has a widely diverse range of other proficiencies and interests including astrology, kabbalah, tarot, magic, and spirituality. She also loves painting, knitting, gaming, and enjoying belly laughs with her husband and family.

The Language of Lenormand, by Erika Robinson

The Language of Lenormand: A Practical Guide for Everyday Divination, by Erika Robinson
Weiser Books, 1578638054, 208 pages, October 2023

As both a book lover and a collector of Lenormand oracles, I was very excited to have the opportunity to review The Language of Lenormand: A Practical Guide for Everyday Divination by Erika Robinson.

Robinson’s skills as a seasoned card reader and a highly trained educator shine brightly throughout this delightful guide – her Harvard education and years of teaching English evidenced on every page.

The book’s beautiful cover caught my eye, and I was somewhat surprised and a bit disappointed that there was no deck accompanying this book (more on that later though because there is good news after all for us deck collectors).

Rightly named a “Practical Guide”, Robinson is actively teaching from the start. Set up like a workbook with questions and brainstorming activities winding up each chapter, the student has an opportunity to be fully engaged, helping make the learning process even smoother.

The Lenormand Oracle is comprised of 36 cards, with some decks having a few extra cards so that the sibyl and/or sitter may choose between different representations of specific cards. The cards are always read in combination with each other (no single card pulls as is often done with Tarot and other oracles). Memorizing the meanings of the cards is first and foremost to learning to read with them in combinations.

Chapter One begins by introducing the first three cards to us, explaining the images and their meanings as you might expect, but the chapter continues with something fresh by immediately teaching us how to read those three cards in several different combinations. Robinson also asks us to come up with some meanings on our own, and right away we are learning, thinking, and reading the cards ourselves. Brilliant!

The next six cards are described and added to our repertoire in Chapters Two and Three, and then for the following chapter we take a little break from learning new cards to talk about significators and different ways of using them. We learn this easily by playing with the cards we’ve studied so far. Then, we move on to learning a few more new cards in Chapter Five.  

I really enjoyed Robinson’s take on significators, so I was excited when she returned with more ideas about them in chapter six along with a technique called “mirroring” and our first “spreads” – using configurations of five cards and seven cards. 

The book continues in this fashion, teaching three cards per chapter and then layering our newfound learning with actual card reading in combinations along with additional techniques for determining what the cards are saying to us by using more cards in combination. These layers and combinations provide more and more clarity and detail. 

Robinson teaches a range of traditional spreads (also called “vignettes” in Lenormand parlance) using the Nine Box (a spread using 9 cards) for multiple examples as we work our way through learning the entire deck. Her use of the Nine Box reminded me of just how much information you can find using just nine cards. 

By the time we reach Chapter Eighteen we know the meanings of each card and how they work together in combinations. And now we are ready to take a crack at the biggest spread of all – the one that uses the entire deck – a giant spread famously known as The Grand Tableau.

When I was first learning to use the Lenormand oracle, I remember feeling equal amounts of excitement and dread about approaching such a huge spread. You may feel the same way, but fear not! Robinson provides us with lovely instructions on how to navigate the Grand Tableau walking us step-by-step through her entire process. The Grand Tableau can be quite an undertaking but with such clear instruction you can be sure to fully enjoy it!

Moving forward, we learn some new and original spreads including a twenty-three-card spread called Erika’s Reading that I used immediately and loved, and happily it was much appreciated by my sitter as well, as it validated quite a few details for them. Among the original ideas in this book, this is my favorite and one I plan on using a lot. It’s quicker than the Grand Tableau while still giving a wealth of information.  

I mentioned earlier that I was a bit disappointed that this book was not the guidebook for a new deck, but my disappointment vanished once I discovered that Robinson does have her own deck coming out. I peeked on Instagram and the cards are gorgeous. Unfortunately, the deck was a Kickstarter project that had closed by the time I went to investigate it. 

Hopefully, the deck will be available to those of us who were late to the party and missed the backer deadline. The deck is called Erika’s Lenormand of Hope and as thoughtful as her book is, I can only imagine that the same care went into producing her beautiful deck.

As someone who has been reading the Lenormand for almost a decade, I learned quite a few new things from The Language of Lenormand, and with personal stories and lots of reading examples it was fun and easy to read. This book is for anyone wanting to learn about the Lenormand oracle whether a beginner or a seasoned reader. There are new and original ideas here along with traditional Lenormand teachings and they are all presented in a very comprehensive way. A beautiful addition to any cartomancy library, highly recommended.

Mother Mary Oracle Journal and Book of Sacred Practices, by Alana Fairchild

Mother Mary Oracle Journal and Book of Sacred Practices, by Alana Fairchild
Blue Angel Publishing, 9780648746775, 220 pages, March 2021

Alana Fairchild is a prolific creator. Since being first published in 2011, Alana has created over 20 oracle decks, 13 books, and 27 albums of music and meditation with her work translated into 11 languages. Along with Shiloh Sophia McCloud (painter, poet, and teacher), she has created The Mother Mary Oracle Journal and Book of Sacred Practices, one of the most beautiful journals I’ve had the pleasure of using. This journal is meant to be an accompaniment to the Mother Mary Oracle, also created by Fairchild and McCloud, but this gorgeous work stands alone. I do not own the oracle deck and I thoroughly enjoyed this journal.

Opening the colorful and luxurious soft cover of the journal reveals several gorgeous paintings even before the first page, which has a space for the journal owner to record their name. This page is followed by a tender introduction by the author, lovingly describing her life-long relationship with Mother Mary and some of the ways in which this relationship has touched her life and benefitted her.

The journal is illustrated in glorious color with dozens of soulful paintings that seem to be infused with love and depth of meaning. As I worked my way through the journal, I was inspired over and over again by these magical works of art.

The lined pages are adorned with many poignant quotes and there are four different “Sacred Practices” described including “Silent Sound Healing” and “Love’s Alchemy for Karmic Clearing” (my favorite among them!). These sacred practices are explained simply guiding the reader into meditative processes that help with releasing grief, asking for spiritual help, and transmuting karma. These exercises are simple and effective, even for someone who does not have an established meditation practice.

I appreciated the author’s constant reminding that suffering is part of our soul’s journey. The journal is full of quotes that comfort the suffering, and include the reality of both dark and light, such as this one:

Becoming a divinely awakened human being is a raw, wild, and beautiful path that often involves great suffering. Our Madonna feels great compassion for, and understanding of, what it is to be human. So, she empowers us, through her wisdom, to take the journey with fearless faith in her Divine protection and guidance.1

I also enjoyed that many of the quotes are written in the first person, as if Mother Mary is speaking powerful words directly to the reader, such as this quote that calls the reader to recognize that their suffering, along with Mary’s support and guidance, will unfold a higher purpose:

I have many names and faces, but behind those names and faces, I am your loving mother, always. I come to you in light and darkness, through joy and even, my beloved, through loss and tragedy. I am seeking you, reaching for you, calling you to me. If you can do this, then great peace and spiritual power will be yours, and together we shall Infuse the world with love.2

The Mother Mary Oracle Journal and Book of Sacred Practices is an exquisite work of art that I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys journaling, appreciates inspirational quotes and meditative practices, and desires to create or deepen a relationship with Mother Mary.

The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching, by Rosemarie Anderson

The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching: A New Translation and Commentary, by Rosemarie Anderson, Ph.D.
Inner Traditions, 1644112469, 160 pages, April 2021

Rosemarie Anderson, Ph.D., has many accomplishments – she is professor emerita of psychology at Sofia University, an Episcopal priest, an author of several books, and the recipient of the Abraham Maslow Heritage Award. She has traveled widely through Asia, and she has decades of experience with the Chinese language and the Tao Te Ching – all of which more than qualify her to author The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching.

However, the qualification that touched me the most was declared in the very first sentence written in the book, in the acknowledgments section: “Translating the Tao Te Ching has been a work of love.”1 The love that this author has for the Tao Te Ching, and for the language in which it was written, informs her entire translation.

Anderson begins with a few short pages explaining her personal story of moving to Asia as a young woman and how she very quickly learned, and fell in love with, the Chinese language. She explains her love for the elegance of the calligraphic form and the etymology of the characters, along with the reverence the Chinese people seemed to have for them. 

In exploring and observing the Chinese way of life during her time in Asia she recognized that she was beginning to learn a concept the Chinese call “wei wu wei, which means to ‘act without acting’ or ‘know without knowing’.”2

This concept of wei wu wei, she explains, is essential to understanding the Tao Te Ching, requiring one to slow down, to read with patience, to allow the poems to enter one’s knowing almost of their own accord.

Anderson originally decided to translate the Tao for her own benefit and delight, using her basic knowledge of Chinese supplemented by scholarly books that would teach her any characters she did not recognize. She began this process expecting that she might discover something new in the Tao Te Ching along with some new discoveries about herself. The thing she did not expect was to discover that the Tao was profoundly feminine – full of self-descriptive words such as “mother”, “virgin”, and “womb of creation” – all intrinsically feminine ideas! 

In fact, the descriptor of Anderson’s translation in the title as “divine feminine” is what drew me as a reader to this version. And it seems so obvious upon reading these ideas that the Tao would be referred to as “She” in most if not all places where pronouns are used, but historically that has not been the case. “Only in a rare poem do a few translators refer to the Tao as “She” when the reference to “mother” or “womb” is blatant.”3

Something I found profoundly interesting was that the author’s experience of the wei wu wei method of translation is that it was “rarely mental but typically took the form of bodily impressions.”4

This idea of allowing input (in this case the poems of the Tao Te Ching) to reverberate in the body instead of automatically depending on the mind to figure everything out seems to be something worth exploring in earnest. 

The next idea to help us ingest the poems (and to enter into wei wu wei) is to read the poems aloud, or to sing them – even perhaps to a favorite tune, along with a suggestion to read one poem per day and to truly commit to listening and hearing what the Tao has to offer. 

I particularly liked this specific instruction:

“Sing out loud and sing long. This is hermeneutics in action. The term hermeneutics comes from the Greek god Hermes, the great communicator who brought the gods’ messages down to humans. In singing the Tao Te Ching, communicating with the Heavens and back to planet Earth is precisely what you are doing. Do it. Improvise on the text as an ancient storyteller might. Begin your own legend – your own pathway to the Heavens and back again.”5

This instruction seems like the perfect way to begin or expand one’s exploration of the Tao Te Ching, especially The Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching – unhurried, embodied, and without any specific expectation other than “communicating with the Heavens and back to planet Earth.” For me, as a beginner, this encouraged me to not overthink or overdo, but to just sing.

So far, one of my favorite poems in Anderson’s translation is poem 34, which I place here for your enjoyment:

The Tao flows everywhere!
She stretches to the left and to the right
All things rely on Her for life
She never turns away
She accomplishes Her work
And makes no claims
She is free of desires
We call Her small
All things return to Her
Yet she never controls
We call Her great
In not striving to be great
The wise accomplish great things

This selection seems to align well with the author’s instructions and contemplations of wei wu wei, and this particular passages encourage me in the idea of “accomplishing great things by not striving to be great”6 and to “grasp the Great Mirror”7 of the Divine Feminine Tao Te Ching.

The poems are presented in a beautiful, flowing form, the typography spacious. And the book wraps up nicely with Notes on the translation and calligraphy, as well as an annotated bibliography. 

I recommend this little gem of a book to anyone wanting to study the Tao Te Ching – especially to consider it in the context of a gentle, non-striving practice.

Hekate, by Courtney Weber

Hekate: Goddess of Witches, by Courtney Weber
Weiser Books, 978-1578637164, 224 pages, August 2021

Author Courtney Weber has a wealth of personal experience with witches and witchcraft. Her bio describes her many accomplishments – she is a Wiccan priestess, writer, tarot advisor, creator of the Tarot of the Boroughs tarot deck, a metaphysical teacher, workshop leader, and social activist. She leads workshops throughout the U.S. and has written several other books in the magical genre including Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess, Tarot for One: The Art of Reading for Yourself, and The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might.

Her latest book, Hekate: Goddess of Witches, begins with a chapter titled “Meeting Hekate” and was an exciting indication of what was to follow with. It’s a delightful combination of personal story, facts about Hekate and her lineage, impressions of what it is to be a witch today, suggestions for using the book, and three rituals for getting to know Hekate, which I found to be wonderful, especially including these rituals right off the bat, in chapter one. Weber’s down to earth writing style made me feel at ease right away, like I was not only meeting Hekate, but happily meeting her as well. 

The book continues with a deeper dive into Hekate’s lineage, a nice touch especially if you are a fan of mythology (and really, what witch isn’t!?), and then proceeds with a listing of animals that are strongly associated with Hekate, including brief descriptions of the reasons for some of these associations. 

Hekate is considered the goddess of witches and Weber explains how Hekate’s familial relationships (as well as her own) were affected by being a witch in a section called “The Witch in the Family.” This section brilliantly weaves the author’s personal experiences, Hekate’s mythological stories, and the readers experience (unearthed by some deep and powerful questions provided in this section).

I particularly loved this interweaving of experiences – Hekate’s, the author’s, and my own as the reader, a beautiful braid of powerful ideas for discovering one’s own role with Hekate’s support. This section contains a ritual for “Finding Yourself in Hekate”, which in part includes the words:

Masked Lady, Gorgon queen
The sister, the daughter, the mother, the lover,
The cousin, the child, the one who sees,
The one who watches, the one from afar,
Stand with me in this moment,

And I will stand with you.1

This section concludes with a beautiful encouragement for how to find your strength and unique offerings and gifts per a change of perspective, especially when being a witch is causing stress for you in family or social situations.

Hekate is a goddess who has many names and personas (I’ve read lists of over a hundred different epithets for her, each name attached to a different facet of her power and personality), and this book covers several of them in depth.  Many of Hekate’s personas are considered “dark” or “dangerous” – such as “Brimo” and “Hekate Chthonia” – the goddess of the Underworld, and I loved the way this book’s message embraces all sides of her, both dark and light. After all, the world is full of both and our lived experience will always encounter both, no need to shy away from darkness.  

Each chapter is presented with a delightful mix of the author’s own personal storytelling and experiences and a wide variety of spells and rituals calling on different aspects of the goddess for different situations and outcomes. I enjoyed that Weber was very thorough in covering many different areas where these spells and rituals may be used – sometimes even metaphorical, as in the section “Working with Hekate and the Dead” where we find rituals for working with the dead and with ghosts, including a ritual for releasing a “symbolic ghost” – which I found to be potentially useful to most of us, for who hasn’t dealt with a memory “haunting” them?

My favorite experience with this book happened the day I read the last few pages of the chapter called “The Dangerous Goddess and the Dangerous Witch”. I have a personal practice of drawing cards each day. I draw a tarot card, a playing card, and a pair of Lenormand cards. That day my cards showed two different swords, a scythe and the crossroads. I smiled seeing the crossroads card since Hekate is known as the Queen of the Crossroads. But my jaw dropped when I picked up the book to continue reading where I’d left off the previous day and found myself reading about Brimo and three different rituals all using athames (ritual blades). Hekate seemed to be speaking to me loud and clear. 

Another of my favorite rituals in the book is included in the chapter titled “Keeper of the Keys”, actually a lovely pair of rituals – one for opening a symbolic door and another for closing one. These rituals will be on my list for the near future, along with all of the rituals requiring keys, of which I have a fondness as well as a fair collection. 

The chapter titled “Hekate’s Grimoire” includes a list of items that Hekate is known to have affection for to be used in offerings, along with a list of herbs that are historically sacred to her, some gorgeous invocations to her, two recipes for moon water, and a nice compilation of spells for a variety of situations. 

I thoroughly enjoyed everything about Hekate: Goddess of Witches and am delighted to add it to my growing library on Hekate. I would recommend it to anyone interested in knowing her or knowing more about her. It is a beautiful tribute to Hekate for novice and adept alike. 

Pagan Portals – Temple of the Bones, by Jennifer Teixeira

Pagan Portals – Temple of the Bones: Rituals to the Goddess Hekate, by Jennifer Teixeira
Moon Books, 1789042828, 112 pages, June 2021

Pagan Portals – Temple of the Bones: Rituals to the Goddess Hekate author Jennifer Teixeira has been a practicing witch for over two decades, and in 2009 went forward on her priestess path with The Starflower Coven and The Amazon Blood Mothers of San Francisco Bay Area in California. Beyond being a practicing witch, the author’s specific relationship with the Goddess and experience leading ritual dedicated to Hekate more than qualifies her to educate on the specific rites and rituals presented within these pages.

At just 112 pages, the book is compact and reads as a literal handbook for developing and maintaining a relationship with Hekate, specifically as a group. The writings are in large part the actual public rituals of The Temple of Bones, a group dedicated to Hekate that meets in the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

The book begins with a Foreword written by Rowan “Briar” Rivers, one of the Temple of Bones leaders, who begins by telling the story of how they came to be a dedicants of Hekate, and how the group came to be formed. Rivers goes on to explain some of the many symbols and signs that Hekate may use to call upon and invite you to also enter into a relationship with Her.

Hekate is known for having many names (I’ve read in places that there are hundreds at least) and we are shown more than a dozen of them in this book. The Temple of Bones chooses one epithet to work with each month, and the chapter titled “Epithets of Hekate” gives us the exact format that is used to facilitate Her monthly prayer circle where each month another of Her names is called upon for community healing and protection.

The ritual format continues to be explained in the following chapters, “Casting the Circle in the Temple of Bones,” “Elements of Hekate,” “Ancestors of Blood and Affinity,” “Calling the Goddess,” and “The Ritual Working.”

These chapters are succinct and direct with instructions given for leading these portions of the ritual.

The chapter titled “The Bone Oracle” goes into great depth with the Temple of Bone’s “Bone Divination Guide.” Having next to no knowledge of reading or “throwing” bones, and also having an interest in lithomancy (fortune telling by reading crystals and stones) I was thrilled to see that the Temple’s “bones” include crystals, stones, shells, bones, herbs and other interesting, assorted items including alligator claw, coyote claws and teeth, a fossilized stingray barb, and an iron nail. The guide explains the meanings attached to each item and how to use them in divination.

The pages following are a virtual recipe book of offerings, spells, incense formulations, potion recipes, flying ointments, and rituals for the phases of the moon. There is a simple recipe for Florida Water, which I happened to be looking for and delighted to find (and thrilled to realize how simple it is to make!)

The Chapter “Hekate’s Garden” lists the herbs used by the Temple of Bones and explains a bit of history and usage for each. This chapter, as well as the “Bone Divination Guide” are worth the price of the book alone as a reference for working with Hekate.

“The Temple of Bones Ritual Pit” gives the outline for the public ritual of the Temple of Bones and is wonderfully complete in its instruction and would be useful for anyone desiring to lead a Hekatean ritual.

The book wraps up with suggestions for further reading.

I would recommend Pagan Portals – Temple of the Bones to anyone who is interested in working with or learning more about the Goddess Hekate. It is a lovely addition to my own small Hekatean library and I’m sure I’ll use it often in the future at the very least for its lists of herbs, explanations of specific “bones”, incense formulas, and of course for that wonderful Florida Water recipe.

Forest Fae Messages, by Nadia Turner

Forest Fae Messages: Curious Messages of Enchantment, by Nadia Turner
Rockpool Publishing, 1925946193, 40 cards, April 2021

According to the artist’s online biography, Nadia Turner creates wayward wonders out of a little studio up in the magical Dandenong Ranges just outside of Melbourne, Australia. She is heavily influenced by ancient myth, fairy tales, witchcraft, and the worlds of the Fae and uses a variety of mediums to convey her inner worlds. 

I had a lovely synchronicity involving Forest Fae Messages in that I spied one of the cards in an Instagram post, fell in love with the illustration, added the deck to my “deck wish list” and then found out it was available for review the following week!

I would describe the illustrations as enchanting and the deck’s little messages as encouraging and fun to read. The images on the cards are of various Fae and Fae-like creatures often sporting horns, antlers, or wings, carrying walking sticks or wearing crowns and beads, and often accompanied by birds, bunnies, or other “pet-like” friends.

One of my favorite cards in this deck came up for me when I asked about a meeting I was to attend later that afternoon. The card is titled Strange Journeys, and its message says, “Take control of your quest; choose your companions wisely.”

This card shows a delightful illustration of a small group of characters including a very large furry creature with a human-like face who is wearing beaded necklaces and has horns decorated with hanging beads, a feminine looking person with long hair and branches with leaves that seem to be growing out of her head while she holds a bird, an owl who sits atop the large furry creature and a blue cat wearing a bell at its neck. 

Another favorite, titled Away We Fly, shows an elf-like character with pointy ears and branches coming from their head while riding a bird shaped chariot amongst white fluffy clouds and a crescent moon. The card’s message instructs one to “Take the cloud roads; delight in your imagination.”

The card titled The Gatekeeper encourages us to “Let go. All things are possible on the borderlands,” while it features a furry creature with tall, pointed wolf-like ears, wearing a feathered cape and holding a walking stick adorned with a crescent moon and three hanging feathers.

The deck is composed of 40 small (4” x 2”) rectangular cards tucked into a beautiful little hinged box. The small size makes the deck easy to shuffle. The cards are good quality card-stock with a glossy finish, and card backs decorated with an image of a crescent moon surrounded by mushrooms in earthy tones of greens and browns.

There is no book with meanings or spreads accompanying the cards, just a short message of instruction printed inside the hinged box lid saying:

“Sit quietly and breathe deeply. Shuffle the deck while thinking of a question, or just ask the Fae for guidance. Choose a card at random and discover what messages the forest fae have for you. Perhaps the answers will be clear or maybe they will ask more questions before they answer. Such is the way of the fae.”1

As I finished up this review, I asked the Fae for a message that would exemplify the deck and what it has to offer the readers of this review. I shuffled and drew a card called The North Wood Fae. The card shows an image of a fae wearing a warm coat and a hat with tasseled earflaps, standing alongside a furry dog-like pet and holding a walking stick with four leafy branches. Her message: “Take time for hibernation and healing.” 

Unlike many decks that have thick books full of deep and esoteric meanings to ponder, this deck has short simple messages and would be the perfect deck for cheerful entertainment and inspiration. Its small size and sturdy case make it the perfect little deck to throw into a purse or tote bag and its cheerful characters would make wonderful traveling companions. I also think it would be a great deck to use alongside other decks for additional perspectives.

I would recommend the Forest Fae Messages to anyone who enjoys whimsical creatures, encouraging messages, and enchanting illustrations.

Doctoring the Devil, by Jake Richards

Doctoring the Devil: Notebooks of an Appalachian Conjure Man, by Jake Richards
Weiser Books, 1578637333, 288 pages, April 2021

Growing up in a family that has practiced Appalachian folk magic and conjure for generations, Doctoring the Devil: Notebooks of an Appalachian conjure Man author Jake Richards has a depth of knowledge about these topics that transcend his decade of personal practice. His official bio also states that he teaches classes on the subject in Jonesborough, Tennessee, where he owns Little Chicago Conjure, a supplier of Appalachian folk magic supplies and ingredients.

The book begins with an introduction which briefly describes the author’s upbringing in Tennessee. From the very beginning of the book it is apparent how thoroughly Appalachian folk magic and conjure were interwoven through every part of Richards’ life, community, and heritage. And to be sure, he makes a distinction between folk magic and conjure – I found this distinction to be very interesting.

The first chapter contains descriptions of the many and varied types of “workers” are involved in this work, such as faith healers, root and yarb doctors, cow and horse doctors (people who mainly worked on livestock), witchdoctors, conjurers, root workers, hex doctors, witch finders, and love doctors. Before reading this book, I’ll admit that I was under the impression that most of these words were synonyms – a group of names that all described the same people. But the author points out the many differences between one type of worker and another – and to make things even more complex, many of them practice several types of work, so there are many crossovers and layers. 

As mentioned previously, Richards makes a distinction between folk magic and conjure. Folk magic or root work is described as follows:

“The magical act of using roots and things to influence, incapacitate, attract, avert, or change a situation in the present or future in some manner. This includes superstitions like tossing salt over your left shoulder…or turning your pockets inside out to avert bad luck. Folk magic is any superstitious action taken without an appeal or prayer to a higher spirit or divinity that is alleged to cause a supernatural result.”1

Richards says that folk magic works by belief, and that these things are picked up from the old folks without question — because they work.

He goes on to describe the difference between folk magic and conjure. Conjure is the “direct and intentional employment of spirits, whether they be spirits of the graveyard, the ancestors, simple spirits of the land you live on, or some other presence, to work on your behalf. This also includes angels and God.”2. Descriptions of the different degrees of practice follow.

I found particularly fascinating the section on timing and weather, including moon phases, and what types of workings are done best in certain types of weather. Specific information on exactly the type of weather conditions that work best for using candles, powders, washes and oils, etc.

A section with stories about a handful of practitioners gives a good idea of the type of work these people did, and the reputations they had for doing it. One story tells of a woman called Witch McGaha of the Great Smoky Mountains, who once found someone stealing from her and “cursed her, sending Devils in the form of squirrels after her.”3 According to the story, the woman tried to run from the squirrels but the number of squirrels kept doubling. She tried to make it safely to her home but the squirrels tormented her to death and she died on her porch. 

Chapter 4 begins with somewhat of a warning — “You’re in for a long run if you consider this work.”4 — before listing some “Precaution Rituals”, such as always making sure your head is covered, having a strong, unwavering will and a cunning mind, along with some very good general advice like “Listen more than you speak.” 

Richards then begins to get to the meat of the book: actual instructions for a wide variety of workings. Over the next few chapters he details topics such as how to watch for signs and omens, throwing the bones, spiritual bathing, head and foot washing, sweeping and washing (a “general sweep” as well as a “sweep to remove witchcraft” and a “sweep to remove haints”.)

There is also a section on Egg Cleansing. Although I thought I knew a bit about this type of work, I had never heard of using an egg in this way. All of these workings are presented along with particular verses from the Christian bible to use alongside. There is a section on protection magic, and a section on money magic. Many different items are used in these workings, none of them too precious and most of them readily available, such as tobacco, candles, hair or nail clippings, red string, baby powder and various liquids including water, whiskey, and urine.

A spell for conceiving a baby requires boiling chickpeas, bathing in the water they were boiled in, and then sewing the dried chickpeas into the mattress the baby is to be conceived upon. This particular chapter also contains spells for reducing labor pains, curing the condition that brings miscarriage and stillbirths, a spell to end a pregnancy, and a whole list of spells to predict a child’s future as well as to ensure a baby’s future success.

The book rounds out these ideas with some workings for healing, as well as an entire chapter called Run Devil Run, that contains many workings to remove evil spirits, curses, and hexes from a person, place or thing. The book concludes with two appendixes with lists of correspondences and ingredients, along with a lengthy bibliography.

Overall, Doctoring the Devil contains encyclopedic knowledge of the subject matter presented by someone who has grown up around these practices and practiced them himself for over a decade. If you are interested in learning about and/or practicing conjure and Appalachian folk magic this is the book for you.

Conjure Cards, by Jake Richards

Conjure Cards: Fortune Telling Deck and Guidebook, by Jake Richards
Weiser Books, 1578637449, 64 Pages, 52 cards, May 2021

Reading fortunes using playing cards has a history as long as the history of playing cards themselves. Fortunes began to be told using playing cards soon after the cards were invented in the 14th century. This tradition has made its way into many different belief systems and practices, including Appalachian folk magic and conjure. Hence the name of the deck, Conjure Cards: Fortune Telling Deck and Guidebook, created by Jake Richards, a native of Tennessee and an expert in Appalachian conjure magic. 

I was interested in this deck because I’ve been reading playing cards for over a decade myself and I enjoy collecting playing card decks for this purpose. I had also recently read Richards’ book Doctoring the Devil.

What I did not expect was the dream interpretation aspect present in this deck. The author has melded Appalachian dream interpretations into the card meanings – an interesting addition that will probably create a bit of a learning curve for anyone that is familiar with reading playing cards but not familiar with Appalachian dream symbols.

One traditional and popular method of divining with playing cards is to generally read the red cards (diamonds and hearts) as “good” and the black cards (spades and clubs) as “bad”. I wouldn’t say that this deck’s official card meanings follow that rule in a strict way, but there are more than a few hints of it such as the Ace of Spades being the “death” card (this is a very traditional meaning), many of the diamond cards heralding good fortune, and some heart cards suggesting love and romance.

Knowing that these cards were based on playing cards, I’ll admit I was a little disappointed when I opened the box to find cards much larger than traditional playing cards. The cards measure 4.25” x 3”, which is not huge compared to most tarot or oracle decks, but they definitely aren’t as easy to move in the hands as a poker deck. Nor do they have a typical playing card finish that helps a traditional poker or bridge deck shuffle so well. The card-stock is sturdy without being overly thick and has a smooth finish.

However, the box is one of the best deck boxes I have ever seen. It is a paper box that has the look and feel of wood and a hinged top. The accompanying book is the same size as the cards and has 60 pages of card meanings along with a few spreads. 

There is a 3-card past-present-future spread, a relationship spread called The Jusem Sweet — a 9-card spread for showing “the thoughts, feelings, and stance of each person in the relationship”1Conjure Cards Guidebook2, and a 36-card spread for general readings aptly called The Bullfrog because once the cards are down you “hop” to every seventh card to read the cards in a specific order. 

I decided that to really understand the deck I would use The BullFrog spread to do a reading for a client. This was a time-consuming endeavor, but I’m attributing that to having to learn a new deck and a new spread, along with the sheer number of cards laid down. 

Several things in the spread came to light within 24 hours of the reading, and some of the things that my client has marked as goals showed up in the spread as future events that will take place in a few months. So, I counted this reading as very accurate and noticed that it had a variety of good news and a few uncomfortable items (such is life!). My client felt strongly that the reading had a few very specific items that rang true for what was happening in her life at the time. 

The addition of Appalachian dream symbol imagery creates some unique card meanings that differ from some other traditional playing card divination meanings but seeing that this author has such a deep knowledge of conjure and folk magic Conjure Cards might be exactly what some conjure magicians are looking for.  I would recommend this deck for anyone who has an interest in conjure/Appalachian folk magic or divining with playing cards.

Making Magick Oracle, by Priestess Moon

Making Magick Oracle: 36 Power symbols for manifesting your dreams, by Priestess Moon
Rockpool Publishing, 1925429992, 36 cards, 96 pages, December 2020

Priestess Moon, author and artist, is renowned for bringing universal symbols into a modern context, and this is certainly the case with her deck Making Magick Oracle: 36 Power symbols for manifesting your dreams.

An interesting synchronicity occurred that supported my desire to review this deck; a few weeks before I was aware of the opportunity to review it, a tarot reader who was gifting me with a reading pulled a bonus card for me from a mini version of this same deck. The name of the card she pulled was “Felix Felicitous,” which was described on the card itself as “a power symbol to create lucky, serendipitous events.” Being a big fan of sigil magic and symbols in general, I was intrigued by the card and its symbol. A few weeks later I had the opportunity to review this deck, and I count that as one of the lucky, serendipitous events that has come forth since that day.

Making Magick Oracle contains 36 power symbols from different time periods and traditions including medieval talismans and amulets, ancient symbols, alchemical glyphs, and sigils created by Priestess Moon. The accompanying book gives historical information on each symbol, how to use the symbol for divination, and how to use the symbol to manifest your dreams.

The deck is beautiful and unique; the cards are round and all black with gold symbols. The card stock is thick enough to hold up and thin enough to shuffle well, and has a slick, shiny finish. The deck is fairly easy to shuffle but I will note that my riffle shuffling caused them to quickly warp because of their round shape, so I would recommend an overhand shuffling technique.

The guidebook is beautifully made as well, with a luxurious matte black cover and symbols and type throughout the book printed in matte gold ink along with elegant graphics. The book and deck come in a matching hard box with a hinged top created with the same matte black and gold elegance as the deck and guidebook. As a deck collector I am always appreciative of a hard box that holds both deck and book.

Most of the time when I review a deck, I like to do quite a few readings with the deck first and then collect stories and feedback from the querents about how the reading landed with them. This deck however is a little different than most tarot and/or oracle decks I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in that this deck seems to want to be part of the actual process of making magic and not just a conduit for information.

As it says right on the title page of the accompanying booklet, these cards are here to help you manifest in a unique way. This booklet that accompanies the deck includes an excellent introduction on symbols, a blessing ritual for your deck (which I eagerly performed), and sections on cleansing your space, manifesting, and how to use the cards. The “how to” section gives quite a few helpful ideas, including some layouts and directions on using the cards as part of a crystal grid.

My first card drawn from the deck was a card called “Little Luxuries” with the description printed on the card itself as “Generates luxurious surroundings and experiences.” Just drawing the card felt luxurious, as I was yet unaware of all the card titles, and this one was so unique and lovely! I mean, who doesn’t want to have more luxurious experiences?! Later that evening my husband took me out to dinner at a fancy sushi restaurant — the first dinner out since the COVID-19 lockdown. That certainly felt luxurious!

I also pulled a card for a friend who is in the process of creating a business. The card that presented itself was named “Achievement — Win the award, accolade, or contract.” My friend replied to me that upon seeing the card they started to say, “I need all the help I can get,” but caught themselves before they could say it and instead just said “Thank you!”.

They then commented that it seemed like it must be working already since the first statement did not seem aligned with the achievement vibe of the sigil. They also remarked that they will be putting a picture of the sigil as their desktop wallpaper. That sounds like an idea very aligned with the suggestions in the book. I am expecting to hear of a big contract along with many accolades coming their way.

I would recommend Making Magick Oracle to anyone who is interested in magical symbols and sigil magic. The clear instructions for use make it suitable for anyone regardless of their previous knowledge of sigil magic or using symbols for manifestation. I have already begun using this deck in my own manifestation practice and am expecting these powerful symbols to help me yield great results.

Beyond Lemuria Oracle Cards, by Izzy Ivy

Beyond Lemuria Oracle Cards, by Izzy Ivy
Blue Angel Publishing, 1925538830, 56 cards, 148 pages, April 2020

Beyond Lemuria Oracle Cards might be one of the most eye-catching decks I’ve ever played with. Creator Izzy Ivy’s masterful use of vibrant color highlighting fractal geometry, goddess-like entities, chakras, elementals and other powerful imagery is irresistible – even for those of us who might be still a bit skeptical about such fantastical places as Lemuria.

Ivy’s official bio claims that “The easel is her alter and she is passionate about making images that actively raise the vibration of the environment and observer.”1 And after playing with these cards for a week or so I would agree that Ivy’s devotion to her craft and her vision is apparent in this magical oracle deck.

The deck is composed of 56 cards that are divided into three categories: cards one through ten are the Chakra Cards, cards eleven through seventeen are the Elemental Cards, and the remainder of the deck is referred to as Seed Cards.

I have a habit of initiating a new deck by ceremoniously drawing a first card as a way of allowing the deck to communicate how it would like to be used by me. The first card I drew from this deck was a card called “Endless Opportunities” – which brought a smile to my face because this is indeed a deck that seems to be bursting at the seams with a wide variety of thoughtful messages. Ivy includes ten different ideas for three-card spreads, as well as some larger layouts with directions that are quite unique, even including using the deck in a meditative exercise.

My second draw from the deck came during a group reading. I was drawing single tarot cards for a group of a dozen or so people and decided to pull one card from this new deck for the group, as we were getting ready to conclude our time together. The card I pulled was titled “Surrender.”

The guidebook gives a message for each card and concludes with a divinatory meaning – the one for the card Surrender says in part, “Loosen your hold on the reins and know that the Universe will catch you.”2 More than a few people in the group voiced that they had been dealing with letting go of certain life situations and that this card spoke to them in a deep way.

Next, I read for two clients using three-card layouts from the guidebook. The first spread I used is titled “Bringing in love” and my querent was astounded with how much the reading aligned with current inner work she has been doing. Here are some of her words (shared with her permission) in response to receiving the reading:

What a beautiful set of cards that takes the imagination out of body and into the unknown amongst the stars! And how befitting that the first topic in the reading is that of expansion. Just yesterday I was doing an active meditation and had visions fitting each of these cards.

The first rhyme is that I was sensing into how far my energy was willing to go and feeling that I’ve been pretty constricted.

The second card both delves into the expansion topic deeper AND confronts childhood beliefs. I was raised to be seen and not heard in some environments. As I grew up that lesson morphed into not rocking boats and keeping myself small in ways that became more impactful. This reading is hitting the nail on the head!

The last card’s indication of detachment from beliefs about what abundance is ties into a recent decision to surrender (again) so that I can get into alignment with divine flow. It mirrors eclipse week energies pretty well, I’d say.

Thank you for a lovely reading which does a marvelous job of reflecting divine intuition!

The second three card reading I did was met with similar enthusiasm, especially for the artwork. Here are a few words from my client:

The cards were great at reminding me that I have the power to make things happen for myself. They pointed out some challenges I may run into, things that could hold me back. I liked the fact that questions were asked, which inspired some deep thinking around the topic. The cards themselves were absolutely gorgeous in their artwork and layout.

The only negative feedback I received was that the explanation for each card was a bit too lengthy. I would suggest for any reader that feels this way to just use the “Divinatory Meaning” for each card, which generally consists of one paragraph of key ideas.

All in all, the deck’s breathtaking artwork and deep spiritual explanations were well received by everyone that has encountered them through readings I’ve done.

The guidebook presents the artist’s personal journey of creating the deck and the ideas and philosophies that supported her creative style and messages. Then it proceeds with ideas for some small three-card layouts and several larger layouts, along with a two-page spread of keywords, explanations, empowering questions for the querent, and divinatory meanings for each card.

The deck and guidebook come packaged in a sturdy box, which is always a plus for a collector. The cards are very large, measuring 3 ¾” x 5 ½”. The large size highlights the lovely images while also making them quite difficult to shuffle, especially if one has small hands. The card-stock is good quality, with a matte finish that shows the vibrancy of the images well.

I would recommend Beyond Lemuria Oracle Cards for anyone who loves ethereal artwork combined with spiritual messages, and perhaps especially for people who may be interested in (or at least comfortable with) theories of lost civilizations. However, regardless of philosophy and worldview, the artwork is vibrant, curious, and beautiful, and the messages are soothing, wise, and full of healing words.