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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.

Personal Magic, by Marion Weinstein

Personal Magic: A Modern-Day Book of Shadows for Positive Witches, by Marion Weinstein
Weiser Books, 978-1578637195, 240 pages, 2021

Personal Magic: A Modern-Day Book of Shadows for Positive Witches is the personal grimoire, or “Book of Shadows,” of Marion Weinstein (1939-2009). Weinstein was one of the founders of the modern witchcraft movement, an author, teacher, and media personality. She was the first to coin the phrase “positive magic” and has authored a book by the same name, as well as a number of books in the self-help genre, including books about miracles, magic, and divination methods such as tarot, and the I-Ching. This current edition was originally published under the title Earth Magic in 2003, and then updated and published again under that title in 2008. 

Weinstein’s books are considered classics, and several have been republished under different titles, which makes book buying confusing at times if one hasn’t researched whether or not this is previous material being marketed under a new title.

I had a love/hate relationship with this book (well, okay maybe not so extreme, perhaps a like/dislike relationship) at first because so much of it seemed dated to me. In fact, the datedness was why I began looking into whether this was new material, especially once I looked up the author’s bio and saw that she had died in 2009. Witchcraft and magic seem to be having a renaissance in the last few years and perhaps this re-release is an attempt to capitalize on this current trend.

There were several times when the old-fashioned manner of her words carried a loveable quirkiness that I found quite endearing – such as a short section near the very beginning of the book titled “The Inner Bell,” which the author explains is “one’s inner sense of truth and deep knowing which we all possess.’1

Something that also stood out to me immediately is that Weinstein’s “witch” definitely has a narrow, more classic definition that aligns with Goddess worship or paganism (this volume was originally titled Earth Magic), while currently the word “witch” has assumed a very wide meaning that often includes all manner of witches, magicians, and new age practitioners.

Weinstein wrote her first book of shadows in 1979 and intended it to be seen by a much smaller audience. It was her own personal grimoire and she only wanted it to be seen by other witches. But she was a media personality hosting a radio show, Marion’s Cauldron, for fourteen years, and as her audience and notoriety grew, she began to publish her works to a wider readership.

As the title states, the author is very pointed and deliberate about her magic being positive. She stresses this again and again. 

Being the author’s personal grimoire, the examples in the book use her own personal deities – Diana, Selene, Hecate, Kernunnos, and Pan, in all the blessings, spells, dedications, consecrations, and alignments. However, she does include a list of dozens of other popular deities should the reader want to explore other options.

The book is divided into three parts (Primary Work, Advanced Work, and Afterward), which makes it practical for any level of practitioner, from the complete novice to the adept. The novice will find a veritable “how-to” guide to a well-structured practice and the adept will find a multitude of basic ideas that serve as powerful reminders along with numerous creative ideas that may serve to invigorate a stagnant or lackluster practice. The author is also careful to remind the reader that one’s practice is personal, and that each person is permitted to choose elements of their practice that are appealing to them. 

Part One of the book, Primary Work, focuses on “the basics” including deities, tools, how to form a coven (as well as how to work without one), holidays, working with the moon phases, and even how to contact the departed. Also included in Part One is a very comprehensive chapter on Protection Magic that I found to be one of my favorite parts of the book. Part One closes with a short chapter titled “Ritual,” that includes a few important rituals such as the blessing of a new baby, handfasting, and calling in the four directions. 

As a precept, all magic concerns both “inner” work and “outer” work (As above, so below, as within, so without.) Part One is mostly focused on the outer work, with reminders and teachings on how this primary work connects to our inner world, beliefs and energy.

Part Two, Advanced Work, focuses more on the inner work such as how to work with different aspects of our selves, and how to use visualization. The last chapter in Part Two, Advanced Manifestation, was another part I found exciting as it was explicit about the idea that our Magic is found within, that we are the magic. “Yes, it’s true that magic can actually transform matter and energy from one state to another, or make things seem to appear and disappear. But far more important is the fact that magic transforms the magician.”2 

Part Three, Afterward, is the part I found most fun to read, as it covers some ideas that are exciting to me personally as a magician, such as morphogenetic fields, our true selves and the roles we play, ethics, and serving the community.

The information in Personal Magic is extremely practical and written in a concerned and caring voice from someone with decades of experience. I would recommend this book to anyone that is interested in positive magic or witchcraft, with the caveat that it is not new material.   

Mythology for a Magical Life, by Ember Grant

Mythology for a Magical Life: Stories, Rituals & Reflections to Inspire Your Craft, by Ember Grant
Llewellyn Publications, 0738763101, 240 pages, February 2021

If you enjoy magic spells, rituals, poetry, and good storytelling, have I got the book for you! From its gorgeous cover art to its lovely conclusion, Ember Grant’s Mythology for a Magical Life: Stories, Rituals & Reflections to Inspire Your Craft will leave you enchanted, challenged, inspired, soothed, and satisfied.

Grant has written several previous books on magical spells, including Magical Candle Crafting: Create Your Own Candles for Spells & Rituals and The Book of Crystal Spells: Magical Uses for Stones, Crystals, Minerals.. and Even Sand. She has also been a contributor to Llewellyn’s annuals series since 2003.

Perhaps knowing that Grant has been a longtime contributor to books with an annual format, I should not have been surprised by the third sentence of the introduction where Grant invites the reader to a year-long journey, but I did not recall seeing any mention of the book containing a “year-long” program of any sort while reading cover blurbs or promotional material for the book.

This was a bit unsettling at first. As a reviewer I had planned on reading the book in a week’s time and not spreading the material out over a calendar year. Happily, once I began diving in, I realized that the book is structured in a very open and inviting way. Yes, there are twelve chapters, but the author even suggests that they need not follow one right after the other and she encourages the reader that “it’s okay to jump around.”1

Also, as a fan of year-long programs and plans, I agree that this book would make an amazing year-long study, but the material it contains can also be taken in much smaller bites. 

The introduction gives us the author’s clear definitions for certain important terms used in the book, clarifying such things as myth, magic, meditation, visualization, affirmation, ritual, and spells. It concludes with several paragraphs titled “How to Use This Book.” 

Each of the twelve chapters follows a convenient format: first the telling of the specific myth (or occasionally myths) followed by an explanation of the story’s themes and their importance. Next, the chapters are divided into well-defined segments explaining magical skills, rituals, affirmations, actions, visualizations, and reflections in the form of journaling prompts.

The labeling of these sections is useful, especially if some ways of doing magic are not your cup of tea. The segments create an easy way to find the perfect activities for your own personal style and needs.

I found the myths and stories to be a brilliant mix of familiar favorites, such as the Descent of Inanna, the stories of Cupid and Psyche, and Eros and Venus, contrasted with delightful and interesting stories that were new to me, including Inari the Fox God and Sedna the Mistress of the Underworld.

If you are a fan of rhyming incantations like I am, this book overflows with beautiful little poetic spells for a myriad of concerns and magical workings. One of my favorites was called Spell for Magical Ink that includes a chant for charging the ink whether it be in a bottle or an ink cartridge for your computer printer (a wonderful way to make some modern magic!):

“This ink is reserved for magic intent, 
for no other purpose let it be spent. 
With each word I create, each form that I shape, 
let my goal be fulfilled 
as this ink is spilled.”2

Many of the activities in the book require nothing more than energy, intention, and breath (such as affirmations, breathwork, and visualizations), while others ask for a variety of ingredients and supplies such as crystals, candles, herbs, eggs, ink, a journal, and even white wine. There is a section on Storm Magic in which stormy weather is utilized as a vehicle for release. This was inspiring to me as someone who lives in a part of the country well acquainted with hurricanes!

I so appreciated one of the metaphors that Grant used in her Ritual for Rededication, which she begins by explaining:

“When the computer is locked up, you turn it off and back on again – you reboot. When your magical practice is similarly frozen or slow, it’s time to refresh it. One way to do this is by rededicating or reinitiating yourself to your path.”3

I think this simple and powerful analogy could pertain to the book as a whole, as the author mentions that the book came about because of her own personal quest to rekindle her own magic.

Even though my own magical practice is not in a time of waning, this book inspired me and gave me a multitude of ideas for adding beauty and power to my everyday magic, as well as encouraging me that the next time I am feeling a need for inspiration it can easily be found in these pages. 

I recommend Mythology for a Magical Life to anyone who loves stories, poetry, and magic. Whether you are just beginning (or even just considering) a magical practice or are a seasoned magic-maker, there is something beautiful here for every level of practice.

Life Ritualized, by Phoenix LaFae and Gwion Raven

Life Ritualized: A Witch’s Guide to Honoring Life’s Important Moments, by Phoenix LeFae and Gwion Raven
Llewellyn Publications, 978-0-7387-6465-8, 201 pages, 2021

Life Ritualized: A Witch’s Guide to Honoring Life’s Important Moments by Phoenix LeFae and Gwion Raven grabbed me from the start because I am a lover of both life and ritual. The authors have decades of experience in leading groups through Rite of Passage ceremonies and are well qualified to speak to bringing ritual into everyday living.

The book begins with the authors’ biographies, identifying them as practicing Wiccans. Initially I wondered if the book would be applicable to my lifestyle since I do not practice traditional Wicca. Thankfully, this concern was alleviated before the first chapter. I appreciated the authors pointing out that regardless of one’s personal beliefs and practices, most of us will have people in our lives that do not share our beliefs and practices, and those same people will be the ones we will want to invite to our ceremonies and rituals should they be public or meant for a group to witness. I very much appreciated that stance, as it felt so open, inclusive and welcoming.

The book covers a wide variety of beautifully created rituals. Quite a number of them go far beyond the typical rituals attached to births, deaths, weddings and coming of age, though these are included and very lovely. I was especially excited to see rituals for things that I hadn’t thought of ritualizing before, such as taking a driver’s license test, getting a new car, or losing a job. Like the subtitle says, these are “important moments” in life and things that most of us will experience and remember as milestones. These “everyday” happenings are perfect for ritualizing.

The section that includes the “Rites for Leveling Up” was one of the parts I enjoyed most because it mentioned those unexpected moments and not only included actual rituals for things like passing a driving test, getting a job, a new home, and retiring – but also included some small yet powerful actions around these “level ups,” such as the list of suggestions for “vehicle protections.” 

The authors use personal stories to illustrate the rituals, and I found these stories to be among my favorite parts of the book. Not all life experiences are happy, and neither are these rituals created for only celebrating happy times. Instead all of life’s experiences are taken into consideration with love, care, and respect. Gwion’s personal story that accompanied the Abortion Ritual was powerful, respectful, and included a call to action to support reproductive freedom, which was exceptionally powerful. This story alone caused me to feel glad I had read the book.

As a life coach I recognize that everything we experience in life is somehow directly related to our sense of identity, and so the section titled “Rites of Identity” was another personal favorite. This section includes rituals for coming of age such as first menstruation and becoming a man, as well as rituals for coming out as queer, personal naming, adding a new name and taking a new name. This section also includes a beautiful Rite of Authenticity, which will be the first one I will personally perform for myself.

There is an Empty Nest ritual, a Menopause ritual, and a Loss of a Pet ritual – and having experienced these moments myself, I found myself wishing that I would have had this book in those moments of grief and/or transition when I felt so consumed with loss that I was at a loss to create something for myself.

The book is organized in sections that make the rituals easy to locate and includes rituals that are both general and specific, rituals to be performed alone, with small groups, and with large groups. The authors do a great job of anticipating societal situations and expectations; I smiled at the two different versions of Handfasting Rituals – the Handfasting Ritual for the Masses, as well as the Handfasting Ritual for Witches, Pagans, and the Open Minded.

Life Ritualized includes very useful explanations of the elements that help create flow in ritual, as well as a wonderful list of correspondences that are not only helpful in understanding the rituals in the book, but would be useful in creating new personal rituals whether the reader is already an expert or a complete beginner. I found this book easy to read, creative, enlightening, compassionate, respectful, and even fun. And I am looking forward to creating and enjoying more rituals in my life now. This book is going to be a well-used and well-loved reference in my library.

Witch Hunt, by Kristen J. Sollee

Witch Hunt: A Traveler’s Guide to the Power and Persecution of the Witch, by Kristen J. Sollee
Weiser Books, 1578636990, 256 pages, October 2020

Kristen Sollee has written several books on the legacy of the witch, a subject that is hugely interesting to me. Yet I have to say, the thing that excited me most about Witch Hunt: A Traveler’s Guide to the Power and Persecution of the Witch is that not only was it a book about witches and history, but it was also about travel. After this past year of pandemic lockdown, a virtual tour of the world and of witchcraft was just the thing I needed to bring a little adventure and magic to my cabin feverish soul.

Sollee records her travels throughout Europe and North America as she visits significant sites connected to witches, witch hunts, and the persecution of witches. Somehow, she manages to write about episodes in this history that are terrifying, violent – and at times harrowing to the degree of being unimaginable – with grace, thoughtfulness, and insight, as well as second sight.

The author deftly weaves her own imaginings of witchy characters, their voices, thoughts, actions, and motivations into her telling of historical periods, beginning with Giovanna, a sultry fifteenth century sex witch proficient in glamour magic that takes a seat next to the author on a park bench in Florence, Italy.

As we move through Italian cities and witchscapes, we arrive at Vatican City in a chapter chock full of the most delightful descriptions of surprisingly witchy art pieces and artifacts, including a fresco of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, a statue of the Egyptian lioness goddess of war, Sekhmet, and a ceramic kylix depicting the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena. Also spotted: “…another beautiful Roman mosaic from the third century AD where Medusa makes an appearance with her glorious snaky mane unfurled.”1 I have never desired to visit Vatican City until now.

We continue our trek moving through France, meeting Joan of Arc in a wonderful telling of not only how she affected her current time, but also how The Maid’s legacy is still influencing diverse groups of people today, being not only the most famous “witch” figure to have ever lived, but the most famous saint as well.

Our visit to Paris is bedecked with not only the history of The Affair of the Poisons but descriptions of alleged Satanic rituals that were reported in confessionals and resulted in executions. The confessed sins, as well as the execution methods, are truly horrifying (and for me fell into the unimaginable category).

Sollee’s journey then takes us up onto German mountaintops (where witches were accused of arriving via flying broomstick), where we visit a witch themed amusement park complete with museums filled with torture devices, before traveling on to Ireland, England, and Scotland.

In the last five chapters we meet the witches of America with visits to Virginia, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.

Sollee does a wonderful job connecting history with the present, and this was probably my favorite aspect of the book. Her way of presenting how past events influence us today and her vivid characterizations of place, which not only include visual descriptions but energetic ones as well, I found captivating.

The author recounts that as she was settling into bed while in Virginia, she turned on the TV to see the 700 Club with Protestant preacher Pat Robertson. She watched until she could stomach no more; she turned the TV off and found herself pondering how much and how little the American religious landscape has changed since the days of King James. I found myself having similar thoughts through the entire reading of this book. How much and how little, indeed.

I also found myself ready to hop on a plane, and much of the time the desire I had was to revisit places in Europe that I have already been, but was previously never aware of these specific places or history. For me, reading this book was like seeing all these places anew. My travel wish list has now doubled in size.

The book concludes with nearly two dozen pages of travel resources and a lengthy bibliography for those inclined to book a witch trip or do further research.

I enjoyed Witch Hunt and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in witch lore, witch history, and travel. It fits the bill and ties all three of these interests together into one enchanting tome.

The Lost Pillars of Enoch, by Tobias Churton

The Lost Pillars of Enoch: When Science & Religion Were One, by Tobias Churton
Inner Traditions, 1644110430, 325 pages, January 2021

Although I was excited to dive into The Lost Pillars of Enoch: When Science & Religion Were One by Tobias Churton, I will also admit to feeling slightly intimidated by the subject matter. Religious history is interesting to me, but this book was denser than my usual reading for review fare and certainly not my area of expertise. It is, however, the author’s area of expertise, and he skillfully presented an enormous amount of information in these 325 pages.

Tobias Churton, a British scholar, author, and lecturer at Exeter University, has authored an impressive number of books regarding history and esoteric belief systems including Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, and Gnosticism, as well as biographies of those involved in these studies and systems, including several biographies of Aleister Crowley, and at least two titles that are now on my wish-list (Occult Paris: The Lost Magic of the Belle Epoque and The Spiritual Meaning of the Sixties). The more pages I turned, the more comfortable I became with the idea that I would indeed be able to understand the imposing subject matter at hand and the main premise of the book: the idea that once upon a time science and religion were one.

Our journey begins in antiquity with an explanation of how information was carved into pillars (stele) as a way of record keeping. One example given was Herodotus’ (ca. 484-425 BCE) account of conqueror Sesostris’s pillars that included this passage:

“When those that he met were valiant men and strove hard for freedom, he set up pillars in their land whereon the inscription showed his own name and his country’s, and how he had overcome them with his own power; but when the cities had made no resistance and had been easily taken, then he put an inscription on the pillars even as he had done where the nations were brave; but he drew on them the privy parts of a woman, wishing to show clearly that the people were cowardly.”1

This passage seemed to present much more than just an example of how history was recorded, and it is an example of how far back we can trace certain mindsets and attitudes as well.

Of the many pillars carved, inscribed, and painted to preserve history, the pillars in question — the pillars of Enoch — were supposedly carved with information so important to our survival that it was inscribed upon pillars made of brick and marble because these would survive should the world be destroyed by flood or by fire.

The book is divided into three parts and moves quickly through a compact history of religion, which then proceeds into part two, the bulk of the book, which deals with Hermetic philosophy. Being very interested in Hermeticism, I found this entire section highly illuminating. And although this section covers an extensive history of “believers” and supporters of both science and Hermeticism, from the Medici family, Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, to famed court magician John Dee, and even on to Aleister Crowley in the relatively recent past, the thing that stood out to me the most was what the belief they all had in common. This belief is basically that something has gone wrong, in that we have lost touch with something our species once knew and understood. This results in an idea that we have to look to the past in order to move forward into a better future.

The passages on Isaac Newton were particularly eye-opening for me, especially considering the premise of the book (that these pillars were inscribed to withstand flood and fire) and the discovery that Newton’s notes (millions of words sold at auction in 1936, now in the process of being revealed by The Newton Project, Canada) suggest a diluvium ignis, or deluge of fire, in 2060.2 I found myself certainly hoping that Newton was not a prophet.

Churton touches on the current popular archaeology portrayed on websites and documentary television and how there seems to be a basic spin from the explosion of alternative life theories associated with the 1960s, along with millions of adherents that find today’s science to be less friendly and more likely to be prone to government manipulation, politicization, and to being bought and sold.

One of Churton’s proposals that I found to be quite profound is the idea that although we have been taught over and over, that the “ascent” of man is a progressive, generally upward affair, perhaps man has devolved and may yet evolve from a state that is now latent, or partially accessible within us. I find that thought very refreshing in the light of so much current talk within spiritual communities of “ascension” – an idea that does not seem congruent with so much societal behavior today. Part Three of the book is titled Paradise Regained?  and the author once again makes some very thoughtful statements about our future as human beings and why the thoughts and ideas presented in esotericism are important to how we navigate it.

Overall, I enjoyed The Lost Pillars of Enoch very much. The author presented a large amount of historical information in a balanced and insightful way, along with an occasional dose of humor that lightened the otherwise heavy subject matter. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in esoteric history and hermeticism. I’ve gained insight into how many of our current day ideas about spirituality, prophecy, and science have developed over time, and I’m encouraged that many of the myths we hold dear still have an important message for us.