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Author Archives: Alanna Kali

About Alanna Kali

Alanna Kali is an astrologer, numerologist, and pioneer spirit that loves to explore life through the lens of depth psychology. She has a passion for studying the humanities and social trends. Her academic work is centered upon reuniting body, mind, and spirit through eco-psychology. She loves reading, spending time in nature, and travel.

Angel Tarot, by Travis McHenry

Angel Tarot, by Travis McHenry
Rockpool Publishing, 1925924206, 72 cards, 122 pages, April 2020

Many angel oracle or tarot decks feature sweeping images of light, splendor, and magnificence, along with a comforting affirmation of the angels’ eternal love and devotion. While Angel Tarot by Travis McHenry does facilitate this sacred connection to the power of the angels, the deck is unique because it also offers sigils, seals, and ancient grimoire knowledge to invite the angels into your life. Working with the Angel Tarot allows you to do more than just your standard tarot reading; the energy of the angels is yours to evoke, meditate with, and conjure for magical purposes.

Travis McHenry is a seasoned occultist that has had a varied career. He has an academic background in anthropology and has studied a variety of religions; he was even ordained as a deacon in the Baptist church at one time. McHenry also served in the United States Navy as an intelligence specialist. Afterwards he became a recruiter for the largest telephone psychic company in the world.1 Previously to publishing this deck, McHenry created The Occult Tarot, which is a 78-card deck featuring daemons of the 17th century with guidance on demon conjuration according to Solomonic principles.

It is McHenry’s incorporation of high magic that makes Angel Tarot very different from the usual New Age angel oracle cards or tarot decks. Every card features the tarot correspondence, the angel’s divine name, angelic number, few word description of the meaning of the name, astrological meaning of the card and angel, the angel’s abilities, summoning sigil, and magical seal. I realize this may not make sense to someone who doesn’t have much experience with high magic, but McHenry offers enough guidance that even a novice would be able to effectively use the cards to summon angels.

The guidebook introduction describes Cornelia Agrippa’s doctrine about every human being born with three guardian angels. McHerny describes the difference between each guardian angel, but leaves it up to the deck user to figure out which angels are their guardians. Then there is a brief overview of the hierarchy of angels. I have written a series about the different angels, so if you’re interested you can read a general overview here.

From here, McHenry provides succinct and straightforward directions to conjure angelic spirits. He even includes an image of the Grand Pentacle of Solomon to keep practitioners safe while using the deck. For those who wish to evoke an angel using one of the cards, there is a script for before and after the evocation. McHenry’s directions make it very easy to choose an angel from the deck to petition, connect with the angel, state your request, and then formally end the ritual. I absolutely love the ability to use the cards as a focal point while summoning angels. Angel magic has been what I plan on devoting my studies to this year, and the Angel Tarot is the perfect accompaniment for this undertaking in a safe, contained manner.

Other ways to use the cards suggested by McHenry are meditation and divination. Meditation can attune someone to the angel of your choice’s energy if they do not feel up for doing the full evocation ritual, and is what I would recommend from someone just getting used to the system of this method of working with angels. Then for those doing divination, McHenry writes, “When reading with this deck your answers may come from the tarot connection, the angel’s astrological connection or the angel’s ability.”2 This gives a lot of versatility with this deck, along with plenty of room to explore the different angel correspondences for study and oracular purposes. So far I’ve enjoyed working with the cards more for meditation than divination.

The rest guidebook is the description of meaning for each card. Fair warning, it is not in the style of a usual guidebook that will explicitly state what the card means. Each description has a biblical verse, photograph of the card, and information about when the angel is the soul, mortal, or physical guardian (excluding the six archangels, which have almost the exact same description on their card). This information is how one can find out who their three guardian angels are if they are interested in fostering a relationship with them in particular. The guidebook also shares the intonation for each angel’s name, which is important for ritual evocation, and rank in the angel hierarchy. I learned my moral and soul guardian are the same angel!

There are no specifics given about how the cards relate to the tarot other than this card is this tarot correspondence and guidance on how to do some common tarot spreads. Therefore you should already be familiar with the energy of tarot, otherwise you will not be able to make the associations as easily. Even without knowing the tarot correspondence though, there’s still value in this deck as a method to work with angels. I say this to ensure that someone who sees the title Angel Tarot knows that the main focus is on the 78 angels.

The cards in the deck are gorgeous. They are all coated in gold trim and have The Grand Pentacle of Solomon on the back and in the background of the front of the cards as all. The color scheme of gold, grey, and white hues give the deck a sleek, classical feeling. The images on the front of the cards look like Renaissance sketches. There’s a complexity to the simplicity to the cards, for they all look clean-cut but are filled with sigils, seals, imagery, and words that all seem to attract the eye at once. Red and black emphasize the imagery on some cards, making them more pronounced and striking as one looks through the deck.

I highly recommend Angel Tarot to anyone looking to establish a practice of summoning angels, enhancing their high magic practice, or learn more about the kabbalah hierarchy of angels. While it seems more suited for an experienced occultist, this deck is absolutely user-friendly for people to work with at a beginner level. As I delve into my year of dedicated study of the angels, I am very grateful to have this deck as an enhancement to work I plan on doing. McHenry has done a wonderful job of synthesizing arcane grimoires, occult knowledge, and magical practice to create an outstanding deck.

Egyptian Magick, by Mogg Morgan

Egyptian Magick: A Spirited Guide, by Mogg Morgan
Mandrake of Oxford, 1906958992, 432 pages, November 2020

The influence of ancient Egypt has remained strong in the imagination of Western magic through the Hebrew and Greek traditions and was popularized again in its revival during the Enlightenment. While this energy is still potent centuries later, it is often molded into the one-size-fits-all, easy-to-digest books that make this type of magickal practice easily accessible to the reader. This is wonderful for those who do not intend to delve into a full practice, but it often leaves those who seek to deepen their magick wanting. Cue Egyptian Magick: A Spirited Guide by Mogg Morgan, which is just the book for those who truly wish to expand their practice into a working system.

Morgan is both a practitioner and scholar of the occult. The level of detail described in Egyptian Magick duly reflects this combination, which clearly showcases the relationship between scholarship to inform practice and practice contextualizing scholarship. He has authored quite a few other titles, the most notable being Isis: Goddess of Egypt & India, Supernatural Assault in Ancient Egypt: Seth, Renpet & Moon Magick, The Ritual Year in Ancient Egypt: Lunar and Solar Calendars and Liturgy, and Seth & The Two Ways: Ways of Seeing the Demon God of Egypt. His area of focus is “the connections between the popular magick of ancient Egypt and its continuation/crossover with the living magical traditions of the middle East, and the Kaula/witchcraft of south Asia and beyond.”1

Egyptian Magick is Morgan’s compilation of the core ideas from his previous books all brought together to create one authoritative guide. And let me tell you, it is PACKED with information. I will admit, I was a bit intimidated when I began reading this book. With only a novice level of knowledge about Egyptian Magick, I instantly felt like I was in over my head. At first I did my best to find my footing in the book by dutifully going through it page by page, but quickly I realized I could jump around a bit within each chapter and slowly weave together the tapestry of information. This method helped me to not feel overwhelmed and discover my own method of working with the book rather than becoming inundated (and stuck!).

There are eight chapters in the book that are all filled with sub-sections and even more small headers with information. At times this can feel a bit choppy, but I also believe this style offers as much information as possible within the framework of the book. The book begins with an invocation and then delves into Heka & Hekau. This section really stands out because it describes all types of Egyptian magick: sleep magick, image magick, human sacrifice, funeral rites, and more! So often, scholarship wants to overlook these gruesome details within occult practices, but Morgan does not shy away from topics such as decapitation and reversals or cannibalism. It’s a bit gruesome, but at the same time enlightening, and almost liberating, to be able to delve into such taboo topics.

Reading on, Morgan expands on his reasoning for the basis for this work with contextual references to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Aliester Crowley. He writes, “I have come to believe that the real ‘Golden Dawn’ is an experience rather than an organization.”2. He then encourages the reader to “try to put aside what you know and approach the surviving records of ancient Egyptian magick with a fresh mind.”3 This sentiment really stuck with me, as many of the techniques and practices I’ve learned thus far have stemmed from the Golden Dawn. Some of the fascinating topics that resonated with me most were the correspondences of Greek vowels with elements, secret languages of magicians, the relationship between sigils and hieroglyphs, Egyptian numerology, and an impressive array of seals.

Chapter four, “The Temple of Imaginarium,” was probably my favorite in the entire book. Ever since I learned about this mind-mapping technique in Masonic Magician by Philipa Faulks and Robert L.D. Cooper, I’ve been fascinated but haven’t been able to learn more. Morgan explains it well in writing:

“What else is a temple but a representation, in material, of the cosmology of the people who built it? The temple represents the archeology of gnosis, the sequences of a journal through the temple represent the initiatory journey to the ‘holy mountain’.4 It can be an imaginarium or House of all Possibilities, a theatre in which to locate one’s magick.”5

Morgan offers a guided visualization to move through this temple to discover your own magical potency. You gain the ability to move through and access the energy of Egyptian deities, performing the role of a priest. I’ve only tried this once, but found it quite impactful. I plan on familiarizing myself with this exercise when I have time to truly dedicate to experimenting with the technique.

The following chapters detail the rites of initiation, lead the reader through the underworld, and then go into the longest chapter about the ritual year of the Egyptians. These chapters are the real key to opening oneself into this working system of Egyptian Magick. The rituals can be performed at the start of each month and help to orient the practitioner to the time of year and energy available. Since I prefer attuning to the spirit of the place where I physically am, I haven’t tried any of the rituals. However, for a reader who wishes to fully work this system, everything that is needed is within this chapter.

What strikes me the most about Egyptian Magick is the level of insight that Morgan has accumulated. I would guess this isn’t his last book, but in many ways it feels like a magnum opus. Without hesitancy, Morgan clearly elucidated occult practices with objectivity, reverence, and awe. The book is clearly shaped by Morgan’s unique perception, but in no way does it feel contrived to push a practice. Rather, it clearly lays it all out for the reader, from the taboo to the mundane aspects of this work, and offers an all-encompassing guide to Egyptian magick.

Overall, Egyptian Magick is a trustworthy source for expanding one’s knowledge of the Egyptian occult and how this magick can be practiced today. It beautifully blends scholarship with experience to offer a compendium of information. I hesitate to recommend it to a novice practitioner, but I do believe that is a must-have for anyone working with Egyptian deities or is interested in learning more about Egyptian practices. Within these pages is a year-round system of Egyptian magick that utilizes techniques that have amply survived the test of time.

As Morgan writes, “Ideally this becomes part of a practical theology by which the practitioner becomes, through ‘dynamic resonance’ the image of the gods or divine forces he or she emulates.”6 I feel putting this book into effect could absolutely achieve these results. It certainly is not for everyone, but Egyptian Magick is a reliable resource for those who are ready to take their practices to the next level.

House of Sleep, by Brad Kelly

House of Sleep, by Brad Kelly
Independently Published, 8593128638, 312 pages, January 2021

What is that place where reality ends and dreams begin? Can our dreams impact our reality, and in turn can reality be shaped by our dreams? These philosophical questions are brilliantly explored in the recently published book House of Sleep by Brad Kelly. This genre-melding fictional story invites the reader to question the nature of our dreams, where we derive personal satisfaction from in our life, and the ultimate quest for the existence of an omnipresent divine being.

Lynn is distraught after the death of her fiancé. She had recently become pregnant and within a short span of time, she lost both the baby and her beloved Michael. Maintaining her career as a psychiatrist becomes a challenge as she slips deeper into despair. Spiraling out of control and desperate to connect with Michael again, Lynn decides to take the opportunity to attend a retreat, which happens to be nearby and completely free. With the encouragement and safety net of her trusted best friend Nikki keeping tabs on her, Lynn desires to embrace this experience and see what may come of it.

Simultaneously, readers are introduced to the other protagonist Daniel, who is disease-ridden and at the mercy of a religiously fervent father that believes him to be demonically possessed. After a lifetime of being subjected to his father’s violent zealotry, Daniel has finally gathered the inner strength to leave home and seek out his older brother who had left the abusive home years prior. Growing up, Daniel’s older brother had been his refuge, as he did his best to shield Daniel from the blows of their father and share with him all he had learned about the world. The parting words he left Daniel with were to get to a doctor and then find him.

The lives of Lynn and Daniel, along with many other colorful characters, become intertwined at the House of Sleep. Led by a mysterious man called The Diving Man, the House of Sleep is creating a bridge in the dream realm to usher in a new reality. As he spouts philosophical wisdom and transcendent spiritual insights, the main characters are led to question who this person is and whether he is to be trusted. Some followers give him full credence, while another is keeping tabs on this man for detective research. The ambiguity of it all leaves room for the reader to continually question if the Diving Man is a brilliant cult leader or incarnate god. All the people called there have a role to play, but what is the price of the great work these dreamers are doing?

Kelly does a wonderful job of keeping the readers guessing. The book is divided into three parts each section and ends with a metaphorical ellipsis. Just when the reader thinks they have it figured out, there’s a new twist to the story. There is a blending of past, present, and future that creates a labyrinth of time. The characters must work together to discover the truth about the secret dream work they are doing and its impact on the lives of everyone involved.

The best part of the book is the monologue of the Diving Man, presumably speaking to himself in his own mind. Packed with revelation and wisdom, these words open portals to new dimensions of the mind. Having the courage to flip reality on its head invites splendid perceptions, and the Diving Man has the background to truly push at the seams of reality to bring forth the truth of spiritual and human existence. Reading his words, you begin to wonder about who or what God is and how is this state of being truly achieved?

“Don’t you see that God has truly died? There are no lies and so every word a metaphor, and those you make in a moment live live as wires in your head, so. . . we (yes, yes, yes) we killed him and he was pleased to go. It had been long enough trying to hammer the point home.  But there is a way to take his place. And how many broken-souled caveats to the start-it-all-over paradigm would you actually trade to place someone back in that cobwebbing throne.” 1

While on the surface this book may seem like a narcissist’s dream of massing followers to do his bidding based on their desire to assuage their personal suffering, the Diving Man’s wisdom remains compelling. His unique life circumstances have primed him for the role even he must play in the symphony of the Universe. The book brings to light just how far grief can push people to go in the quest to regain the love lost and find meaning once again in their life.

I will say the book can feel a bit dark at times. I chalk this up to the lens through which Kelly writes: the stark realism contrasting the symbolic dreams of the people in the House of Sleep. It becomes a real battle between Saturnian and Neptunian forces. As Lynn tries to escape the pain of her reality and reconnect with her love in dreams, Daniel is emerging from the delusion he’s been trapped in his entire life to discover the true nature of reality. The link between them is the real key to awakening, and the role of the Diving Man becomes increasingly warped.

I recommend House of Sleep for readers that enjoy the work of Chuck Palahniuk and Philip K. Dick. The blending of psychedelics and psychology to probe the interior of human minds in both waking and dreaming life invites revelatory insight. You may hear the prompting of the Diving Man whispering his life’s knowledge into your ear, but it’s up to you to decide the action must be taken based on your subjective reality in the dreams. If you would like to sample Kelly’s work and get a feel for his writing style, you can read his short stories here: https://www.bradkellyesque.com/short.

Enchanted Herbal, by Gail Bussi

Enchanted Herbal: Connect to Nature & Celebrate the Seasons, by Gail Bussi
Llewellyn Publications, 0738766119, 288 pages, December 2020

Living seasonally is a very important part of my spiritual practice. The best ways to connect with the seasons that I’ve learned over the years are practices that keep me grounded, such as cooking, journaling, and self-care. Though I’ve been living this lifestyle for quite some time, I have been delightfully surprised by all the inspiration offered by Gail Bussi in Enchanted Herbal: Connect to Nature & Celebrate the Seasons. This book is handy, practical, and filled with wisdom for all the seasons. Reading it just through Winter thus far, I’ve already felt a shift that deepened my mind-body-spirit connection to the season. I’ve also had lots of fun trying out new recipes and learning about seasonal herbs.

Immediately I resonated with Bussi’s words, “Each season brings its own gifts, lessons, opportunities, and sometimes challenges — but I believe nature also offers us the remedy for these challenges if we are open to connecting with her each and every day of the year.”1 By participating in the energy of the seasons, adjusting our routines accordingly, there is wisdom to be gained from the natural cycles of the Earth. Bussi’s writing nurtures the reader and enhances feelings of being calm and centered throughout the seasons. With this book in hand, I feel ready for all the shifts in nature through the year.

The book starts with Spring and moves along in seasonal order to end with Winter. Every season is divided into sections: Heart Notes, Create, Nurture, Grow, and Taste. The way this compendium of seasonal knowledge is organized makes it easy to find just what you’re looking for, whether it be general information about the time of the year, a scrumptious recipe, or an idea for a creative project. Enchanted Herbal has it all — simple practices to connect with the energy of the season, gardening tips, homemade body products, and a wide array of tasty delights.

What I like most about Enchanted Herbal is that it is a very hands-on book. Reading it makes one want to partake in the seasonal energy through the wide variety of projects, creative suggestions, and cooking ideas that Bussi offers. My initiative was ignited, but in the most soothing and centered way, as I am reading it during winter which is the “do nothing” season. The promptings to bake, cook, or partake in self-care felt very intuitive. I would feel called to try this recipe, or steep that tea, and the experience of reading through the book over the course of a few weeks yielded a Juniper Cleansing Mist, Eucalyptus and Jasmine Foot Soak, and dinner of Stir-Fry Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Garlic (yum!).

Even though I only partook in Winter activities, I did read through the other seasons and got very excited for all the things I wanted to try out. My mouth was joyfully anticipating some of the recipes in the book, such as Chocolate Mint Pots, Fireside Mushroom Soup, Pumpkin Fritters with Sage, and Spicy Coconut Chicken. It’s worth noting that Bussi previously ran a catering company and has published a cookbook, so she truly knows her stuff when it comes to food! Furthermore, there are even recipes for enticing beverages – to name a few: Spring Morning Tea, Coconut Tumeric Latte, and Dandelion Wine.

Some other ideas inspired by Enchanted Herbal are planting an astrological garden, creating a nature mandala, and practicing the art of foraging. I’m very much looking forward to Spring now that I have this book to guide me into new ways to attune to nature and celebrate the season. I am already intending to create the Spring Morning Toner, which uses all the natural ingredients to refresh the skin, and Lemon Verbena Massage Oil that can be used for the skin or dropped into a bath. I’m pacing myself, but it’s tempting to not hold off on all the Summer recipes (Tri-Colore Tomato Salad!) and self-care DIY projects (Peaceful Nights Pillow Mist, After-Sun Soothing Tub) I’m eager to try out! 

Bussi has filled each season with so many ways to engage with the herbs that the reader has room to pick and choose as they feel called, coming back over the course of a long while to perhaps finally try it all. This is definitely a book that you will reference back to many times through the year, as the recipes are worth repeating and the instructions for projects like creating essential oils, foot scrubs, and aloe vera gel will always come in handy. It is a wonderful book to begin your herbal journey of healing and self-nurturance.

All elements of my being felt supported when reading Enchanted Herbal, as it truly teaches how to tend to one’s self with love and care to become more aligned with the natural energy of the year. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys cooking, DIY projects, or gardening that wants to further deepen their connection to the energy of the seasons. There’s magic in these everyday activities, and Bussi teaches the reader how to find joy throughout the year by living in harmony with the seasons.

Green Witch Oracle, by Cheralyn Darcey

Green Witch Oracle: Discover real secrets of botanical magick, by Cheralyn Darcey
Rockpool Publishing, 1925924718, 44 cards, 144 pages, February 2021

Green Witch Oracle: Discover real secrets of botanical magick by Cheralyn Darcey is absolutely bursting with garden wisdom and colorful fun. This deck really pops, and it reminds me of a plentiful garden on a warm summer’s day. Darcey has beautifully blended elemental affinity with the secret sagacity of plants to create a multi-purpose deck. It is a splendid resource to create a magickal bond with plants through spellwork, learn about the different plant correspondences as you garden, or engage in divination with plant energy.

Opening the box and seeing the brilliant green back of the cards filled me with a sense of heart-opening abundance. The alchemical symbols for the four elements (fire, water, air, earth) are drawn in white on the back of the cards. The cards were nice and smooth as I shuffled them, offering little resistance due to their glistening shine.

Looking through the deck, I was struck by the bright color of all the varieties of plants featured in the deck. The creamy background is the perfect contrast to make the images burst forth and capture the reader’s attention. Black ink blots add to the dynamic energy of each card, further illuminating the plant image. There’s a wide range of plants featured in the deck, which include fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs.

On every card is the number at the top for guidebook reference, the elemental symbol, a key word, and the name of the plant (both common name and genus/species name). If the plant has an astrological correspondence, there is also a glyph of the zodiac sign. There are also little sketches of metaphysical objects that are related to the card’s meaning, such as a dreamcatcher for Marigold’s key word ‘Positivity’ and a sword for Fennel’s key word ‘Strength.’

I’ve been pulling a card a day and have very much enjoyed reading the guidebook to better understand the energy of each one. Reading through it I noticed that the deck is organized so that certain types of plants correspond with an elemental energy: vegetables are earth, herbs are fire, fruits are water, and flowers are air. Also being a tarot reader, the elemental correspondence of the cards made intuitive sense to me. Now when I pull a card, I am also able to sense the elemental energy within it too, which I feel has enhanced my readings.

In the guidebook, Darcey first provides a short and sweet introduction and a bit of information on how to use the deck. Then there are three garden-themed card spreads suggested. My favorite to use so far has been “The garden shed” that is meant to help the reader with a challenge they are facing. The card placements relate to gardening, such as Card 1 being called “the shovel,” and this card is meant to highlight the energy of “the deepest part that needs to come to light.”1 All the spreads are creative and well-suited for this deck. It was unique to see something different than the standard card placements (ex. past, present, future) often suggested.

The rest of the guidebook focuses on the 44 cards in the deck. For each card there is a quote, oracle meaning, description of the plant’s cultivation, and list of magical correspondences (uses, deities, celestial, and astrological sign). The best part is that there is also a spell to generate the energy of the plant in your life. All the spells listed use the plant of their card in the spellwork, which gives the reader another way to connect to the magickal energy of each plant.

So far I’ve only tried one spell: a desire spell from the Lettuce card. Who would have thought you could make an incredible facial mask with lettuce and use it to super-charge your desire? I did have to switch out dried milk for a bit of whole milk, but it still turned out just fine. Looking through the spells, I would say the majority of them can be done easily with simple ingredients most people already have in their kitchen. Next time I want to do some protection work, I plan on using the spell given in the guidebook for Onion!

The very end of the guidebook includes a small glossary of terms used and also *drum roll* a bibliography! I really like to see a nice bibliography, as so many books and decks seem to freely dispense information with no sources listed for where it was found. While things like the oracle meaning of the card are bound to be more subjective, I value Darcey’s sharing the sources of her knowledge. This is sure to be a starting point for readers that use the deck and wish to continue learning more about the gardening techniques and properties of different types of plants.

For anyone interested in enhancing their magick with a bit of green witchery this is absolutely a deck you’ll want to have in your collection. I highly recommend Green Witch Oracle to anyone who is interested in learning more about the energy of plants. Whether you’re interested in cultivating a magickal relationship or simply discovering new ways to connect with your garden through learning about plant properties and timing techniques, this deck is a wonderful resource. It’s a deck filled with an enthusiastic levity that makes these explorations fun and exciting.

The Corona Transmissions, edited by Sherri Mitchell, Richard Grossinger, and Kathy Glass

The Corona Transmissions: Alternatives for Engaging with COVID-19―from the Physical to the Metaphysical, edited by by Sherri Mitchell, Richard Grossinger, Kathy Glass
Healing Arts Press, 644113073, 374 pages, December 2020

It’s been on the forefront of everyone’s mind for nearly a year: COVID-19. The crucial shifts necessitated from the spread of the virus have impacted all aspects of society, One may feel so “over it’ that they avoid having to think more about the topic than they must, but beyond the news, is there a deeper conversation we can be having about the transformative events taking place? The Corona Transmission: Alternatives for Engaging with COVID-19– from the Physical to the Metaphysical edited by Sherri Mitchell, Richard Grossinger, and Kathy Glass is a book I believe everyone should be reading as we slowly start to process what we’ve been through the past year.

The Corona Transmissions sets out to offer a wide variety of perspectives to make sense of what we’ve been living through during the pandemic. The fearful news and horrific stories of COVID-19 have been flooding our awareness since March 2020. As a result, we may be stuck in a mode of thinking that is limited in its capacity to see the greater picture of the role this virus is playing in reshaping our society. This book brings to the forefront the alternative voices out there that may not be highlighted in mainstream media. From poetry to homeopathic medicine, indigenous perspectives of Earth’s restoration to the esoteric lens of astrology and tarot, the writers gift us a new lens to view the pandemic through.

The book is divided into three sections: Overviews and Transmissions, Medical Information and Healing Modalities, and Deconstructions, Divinations, and Visions. While each writer’s work is loosely connected to the others in their section, every view is extremely different based on their own background, identity, and vantage point of what’s going on. The length of each piece varies, which makes for a stimulating read because there’s a variety to the flow of the book. One minute the reader is contemplating the socio-political failings of the nation that have led to an exacerbation of this situation, and in the next reading is focused on the experience of the coronavirus as a living being with its own agency, fostering a dialogue between humanity and the virus.

The uniqueness of each writer’s thoughts is what I really liked most about reading The Corona Transmissions. Since it is a compilation of different perspectives, there is an overwhelming amount of wisdom filling the pages, and discovering the works of people I’ve never heard of before was one of the best parts of reading the book.. I connected to the work of many people that I may not have otherwise been exposed to but whose words I deeply resonated with, such as Barbara Karlsen and Eric Meyers. I was delightfully surprised by how much I enjoyed the perspective of stone alchemist Robert Simmons, who proposed the Earth is opening up a dialogue of communication with us. Additionally the poetry of Zoe Brezsny, Paul Weiss, James Moore, Stephanie Lahar, and Jack Foley was penetrative, emotionally stimulating, and very accurate depictions of the sentiment of this time. There was even a contribution from one of my favorites: Charles Einstein, author of Sacred Economics (one of the best books I’ve ever read).

The second section, Medical Information and Healing Modalities, was probably some of the best medical information I’ve read about COVID-19. This section was packed with data that illuminated the rate of transmission in relationship to other viruses and provided a really grounded perspective of the numbers and statistics that may otherwise be too complex to fully understand. It also was filled with suggestions on how to naturally boost one immune’s system; from supplements to homeopathic remedies, there are many resources within this section to help the reader take control of their own health. There’s even methods to use for if one does contract COVID-19 to ease symptoms and facilitate quicker recovery.

Reading this book has led to a lot of healing within that I didn’t even realize I needed to be doing. Different writers hit spots within my heart and psyche, sparking a growth of consciousness and also nurturing the emotions that have not been “given voice” yet but wanted to be heard. Moving through The Corona Transmission gave me the opportunity to explore my relationship to fear, acknowledge what I’d been going through internally through this pandemic, and also restore hope for the future going forward. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and this book is a resource that makes me feel more emotionally and spiritually resilient, informed about the nature of this virus, and prepared for what may be to come as we shift to a post-pandemic world.

Much of this COVID-19 experience of quarantining and social distancing has left us in “survival mode.” We’ve been in defense against the virus, forced to make many personal sacrifices for the sake of safety. It certainly has been traumatic, and I’m sure there’s going to be a sense of collective PTSD as we now begin to integrate the experience and move forward. The collection of writing in The Corona Transmission is a step in that direction. It is for this reason I highly recommend it to people who are seeking to create a new relationship with the virus, find emotional balm in the art that’s emerged from the pain, explore alternative medicine to promote health, and open their perspective to better understand the large implications of all that has occurred.

Seeing the grief be turned into wonderful poetry and reading perspectives that contextualize this event in a more optimistic, or at least evolutionary, light reconnected me to a higher purpose. The voices in The Corona Transmission instilled a greater sense of meaning to the events that we’re living through, helping me to shift from a personal view to a transpersonal view that encompasses a greater range of possibilities. Reading the writer’s words made me feel reconnected to humanity, assured that we’re all in this together and there’s space for the perspective of everyone. In fact, it’s vital that we come together and share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and this book is a magnificent start to the dismantling, processing, re-envisioning needed to prevail.

Zeitgeist Nostalgia, by Alessandro Gandini

Zeitgeist Nostalgia: On Populism, Work and the ‘Good Life’, by Alessandro Gandini
Zero Books, 1789044472, 123 pages, December 2020

The social contract has quite rapidly been eroded by advancement in technology, globalization, and neoliberal economic policies of the past few decades. In Zeitgeist Nostalgia: On Populism, Work, and the ‘Good Life’, Alessandro Gandini examines how the result of this transformation has created an age of nostalgia, or wistful, sentimental longing for the past. As societies grapple with the uncertainty of our future, the happy times of the past have become a refuge. The current climate when viewed through this lens of nostalgia offers insight into what has shifted in the past 70 years, lending insight into the present moment in time and offering food for thought about the impact of this sentiment on our future.

Gandini has done a wonderful job in writing Zeitgeist Nostalgia to be the perfect mix of academic research with his own observation and reflections on the state of the world. I admire his attunement to the present moment, and also his clarity of mind to elucidate what is happening, and how we got to the present state we’re in. He presents theories for the future from a range of social theorists and historians, plus techno-economists, that make for a supremely interesting read.

“OK Boomer.” — the recently popularized Tik-Tok phrase to mock the Baby Boomer generation has become all the rage in recent months. The apparent divide between the ages seems to be facilitated by the different cultural events, attitudes, and quite frankly, reality that each group of people was raised within. While the Baby Boomers grew up in the thick of the flourishing of the American Dream, characterized by stable employment, a promise of security, and promotion of mass consumption, the subsequent generations seem to keep getting the short end of the stick as this ideal has disintegrated over the decades.

Currently the millennial generation is finding their job prospects are more irregular and unstable, housing prices are soaring compared to minimum wages, and security is no longer a promise any government can make. The future remains unclear, but Zeitgeist Nostalgia helps to map out these changes with Gandini bringing together the relevant pieces to actually make sense of what the heck is happening in these times of fear and uncertainty felt worldwide.

While many in the younger generations have learned to adapt to this new paradigm, it is the Baby Boomers, who unable to cope with the uncertainty and challenges presented by technological innovation, a falling-out between citizen and government, and progressive values, are turning back to the past when things were more simple. This wave of collective nostalgia sweeping the nation is having social and political effects, ranging from the Brexit vote to the presidency of Donald Trump, with hopes of “taking back control” to eliminate the insecurity faced in the midst of immense change.

At the heart of these populist movements is a desire to return to the “golden age” based upon patriarchy, heterosexual, white norms once upheld and cherished as an ideal. However, a good majority of up and coming generations hold very different values, after seeing the destruction of neoliberal globalization and having a new openness to ways of living that are outside the borders of the traditional “good life,” quite literally in their regard for immigrants. Gandini specifically focuses on events in America and England, but also highlights trends in other areas of the world too to really give a full picture of how this collective nostalgia is playing out globally.

As a millennial myself, I absolutely could relate to Gandini’s writing. I found it immensely relevant to my own personal situation, especially the chapter “ A post-employment society?” which is something I feel I have been doing my best to embody, despite not having a framework for how this future might look. I am constantly noticing which friends of mine are still following along with the traditional American dream (marriage, home ownership, family) and also cherishing my bonds with those who also see the foundation of that society is falling apart, choosing to forge their own path in this new world instead, creating the future as we go.

What I really enjoyed in reading this book was Gandini’s assertion that hipsters are the one who may be doing things the right way. While acknowledging the socio-economic privilege of many hipsters, who are characterized by their vintage looks and discerning tastes, they are focusing less on material capital and relying on cultural capital to get by in the world. At the same hipsters, he asserted, are more focused on sustain processes and authentic outcomes in whatever their domain is, from natural wine connoisseur to old-school butcher, and less on creating products meant for mass consumption.

My former high school boyfriend turned “hipster” in young adulthood chose to forgo higher education and now is thriving brewing beer for a small, family owned and wildly successful brewery in a neighborhood that until the past five years was run-down and in an economic slump. In many ways I’ve envied him making a decent living, pursuing his passion, while I went the traditional route of college and am saddled with student debt comparable to a mortgage with what I’d say about the same job prospects, oftentimes forced to take work just to repay the loans.

The past decade, it’s only become more and more clear to me that we are radically shifting the way we organize our society, from the role technology now has in our daily lives to the acknowledgement that neoliberalism has run its course after the multitude of economic and environmental disasters it has created, though many can still not envision a world without capitalism. We want a change, and we need a change. Without providing a concrete answer, this book helped to broaden my horizons, especially awakening me to the fact these trends I’ve been feeling extend beyond just the United States, notifying me that this is a global ripple that is bound to have far-reaching effects.

Gandini’s academic background clearly shines through this book. He is currently a senior researcher in Digital Sociology at the University of Milan. Formerly, he was a lecturer for Kings College in London. The ideas in Zeitgeist Nostalgia are penetrating, and truly invite the reader to think and do their own research. Gandini fills the pages with his observations, going beyond being merely an academic text. I am impressed with his thorough understanding of history, particularly American history, and amazed at how he seems to clearly have a strong intellectual grasp on the current state of affairs.

I highly recommend Zeitgeist Nostalgia to those with an interest in culture, history, politics, and economics. Gandini has filled the pages with thoughtful social critique backed by plenty of research and anecdotal examples of what he is discussing. Particularly in light of the radical divide between the values of older and younger generations, this book is helpful in understanding how we’ve gotten to this place as a society.

As Gandini points out, waves of nostalgia are common in history in the face of rapid transformation, and often is the forerunner to revolution. Whether salvation comes through the hipsters or not, I certainly know the future crafted by young adults is bound to be centered upon very different societal values. It’s worth thinking about what these values are and how we’d like to see them emerge in the years to come.

Astrology for Mystics, by Tayannah Lee McQuillar

Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart, by Tayannah Lee McQuillar
Destiny Books, 1644110515, 176 pages, March 2021

There’s so many lenses through which one can embrace astrology, but my personal favorite has always been a spiritual perspective. Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart by Tayannah Lee McQuillar is a soulful dive into the element of water in one’s natal chart. By tapping into the healing, mysterious currents of the 4th, 8th, and 12th house, McQuillar takes us on a journey to discover and illuminate the depths of our astrology chart as shown by the sign and planet placements.

I think my favorite part of the entire book was the Introduction, “What is a Mystic?”, most likely because I’ve been pondering this question myself recently. McQuillar’s writing demonstrates such wisdom and insight that it makes it clear her spirituality has emerged through authenticity, originality, and genuineness. I immediately felt both trust and respect for her, which made me feel safely held as I proceeded onward.

“Mystics are the foundation of all religious and spiritual systems in the world. Someone, somewhere, at some time had to be the first to wonder if what she was being told about the divine was true and to seek a direct mystical experience in order to confirm or deny it for herself. Then, from that experience, that person formed ideas regarding the truth or nature of existence.”1

Her assurance that this book is meant to assist one in creating their own “individualized occult philosophy and spiritual regimen, one that doesn’t require you to believe anyone else, follow everyone else, or become someone else”2 greatly put this Aquarian at ease as I dove into the water in my chart.

Honestly, water has always been the element I connected with least, so I was looking forward to hopefully taking my time reading to figure out why and how I could better establish a connection to the energy of these houses in my chart. McQuillar lays a wonderful foundation by sharing a bit about what sets water apart from the elements. From how we can consume it and feel its nourishing effects, to the wide spread healing properties, her writing made me take a moment of pause in gratitude for all the water in the world.

By looking to the role of water in mythology, and sharing with the reader different spirits, gods, goddesses that are related to the water, McQuillar highlights water as the foundation of creation. The origin story of many cultures through time have evolved from a watery abyss, likewise the destruction of civilizations occurs through water when people have forgotten the importance of living in alignment. On that note, I appreciated McQuillar’s words on how our current society is allowing for the sacred waterways to become polluted. She puts forth an impactful call to stop these harmful practices and cherish the water supply here on earth.

For those who may be new to this level of astrological exploration, McQuillar teaches the reader how to look up their own chart and see the houses within it to discover the zodiac sign the house is located within and any planets there. She discusses the glyphs to help the reader know what to look for in their chart, and also gives a little overview of each sign with keywords to get a feel for them.

After this introduction into glyphs and astrological energy, McQuillar goes through the 4th, 8th, and 12th house respectively to give a bit of information about the zodiac sign and planet. First is an introduction to these houses, followed by each zodiac sign in those houses.

For every house, McQuillar focuses on the main themes of that house and explains how the energy in the chart of each sign would come through. For example, the 8th house sections are Sexual Intimacy, Your Elevated Self-Image, Your Secret Power, and Transformation and Endings. Based on which sign their 8th house is located within, the reader can learn more about the specifics of their chart.

Next, McQuillar discusses the specific meaning of each planet, providing information about their zodiac sign ruler and co-ruler as well. She then goes through the 4th, 8th, and 12th house and gives a description of each of the seven planets (thankfully, she included transpersonal planets!) in each one. I found her descriptions to be very illuminating, and reading this book came at a particularly apt time for me personally.

While doing a zodiac meditation earlier this week, I realized that I had immense trouble connecting with my Jupiter in Cancer in the 12th house; I simply could not sense the energy, nor get an intuitive grasp on this area of my chart. Reading the description of Cancer on the 12th house brought to my attention some traits that I didn’t immediately recognize within myself, but in reflection saw how they were in play in my life.

I think with the 12th house especially it’s beneficial to have an “outside” perspective because this can often be one of the tougher spots to see about oneself, as it’s related to our hidden, unconscious self. McQuillar calls this the house of “Unspoken Expectations, Confinement, Karma, Loss, and Self-Sabotage,”3 which can make it a bit difficult to delve into these placements lightly.

Luckily, I felt a bit of an optimistic boost from reading about Jupiter in the 12th house. It reaffirmed the initial connection to my spirituality that I usually always feel, and it also reminded me of the feelings of good will I get from being active in communities where I get to share my spiritual gifts.

This all being said, there were a few descriptions that I didn’t resonate with immediately, such as my Pluto in the 4th house, which implied a violence or abuse in my upbringing. However, I don’t think it diminishes the quality of information being shared, even if it felt like a more textbook description for me. I took McQuillar’s mystic approach of embracing what resonated with me and releasing what did not stick.

Plus, I am aware enough to know that sometimes energy and the meaning of the planets and signs can take time to sink in. Since this book is centered on the water houses specifically, it may take a bit more time to dive into these depths, swim within them, and emerge with a fresh breath of clarity. I would advise readers to have patience in moving through this book and taking the time to really explore their chart house by house using all the wisdom McQuillar has graciously offered.

I highly recommend Astrology for Mystics for those who want a guide for navigating the watery realms of their chart. For astrological novice, this can be a wonderful book to tap into the uncharted energy of the 4th, 8th, and 12th house in their chart. Those with advanced knowledge in astrology are sure to discover something new as well since McQuillar offers her own insight, which is soulful and poignant. It can be so very nice to have a “hand to hold” or a book to anchor us as we take the plunge into the occult depths of our natal charts, and McQuillar perfectly holds that space for us.

Mystical Vampire, by Kim Farnell

Mystical Vampire: The Life and Works of Mabel Collins, by Kim Farnell
Mandrake, 1869928858, 240 pages, June 2005

There’s something about exploring the past through a biography that takes you on a stimulating journey. While nonfiction is entertaining, I’ve always enjoyed being immersed in the ups and downs of a person’s life and reading about the way things unfolded for them. Recently, I’ve been extremely into reading about occultists of the past — it’s as though these older texts are now my illumination for a future path. Spiritualism and Theosophy have been front and center in my current studies, but I’ve been seeking more beyond just the popularized figures, such as Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (HPB). Therefore, I was absolutely delighted to read Mystical Vampire: The Life and Works of Mabel Collins by Kim Farnell. 

Mabel Collins, who lived from 1851 to 1927, was quite a dynamic woman, especially for living in England during the Victorian era. From being a popular novel writer to a well known Theosophist (for a time!), Collins made her mark on the occultists of this time period. Her story The Blossom and the Fruit was an influence on the young Aleister Crowley, and she personally organized and edited HPB’s The Secret Doctrine. She even potentially dated Jack the Ripper, who ravaged London committing gruesome murders of women!

In this book, Farnell has done a brilliant job piecing together information to gift readers with a well-sourced biography detailing the escapades of Collins’ extraordinary life. I can only imagine the research Farnell put into writing this because it is so well-rounded, as though she saw all the possible questions a reader might have and filled in the gaps to precede them before they arise. This is most evident in the way she describes the historical background, providing ample context for what it was like in this time-period, to draw the reader fully into an engrossing experience. One is able to slip out of modernity and step right into this era, feeling as though they are within the dynamics of the Theosophists at the time.

And oh goddess, it is thrilling to read about the drama, gossip, and relationships among the “who’s who” in Theosophy at the time. The cast of characters that passed through Collins’ life include William Butler Yeats, Annie Besant, Robert Donston Stephenson, who she believed to be Jack the Ripper, and a very influential relationship with HPB. It’s one thing to read a biography about HPB, the founder of the Theosophical Society – who was supposedly the most “enlightened” and connected to the ascended masters – but it’s an entirely different experience to hear about her from Collins’ point of view, who in many ways was a foil for HPB, though still an ardent supporter and collaborator.

For a time, Collins hosted HPB at her home and attended to the variety of guests that came calling. Eventually, Collins and HPB even worked together to create the magazine Lucifer, which ran from 1889 to 1897. However, HPB ultimately expelled Collins from the Theosophical Society, citing improper sexual conduct, or more specifically, black magic Tantric rituals. Also documented in great detail by Farnell is Collins’ writing of Light on the Path, which is the book she is most well-known for among Theosophists, and the ultimate fall out between her and HPB in regard to the source of this channeled book. And I’m only giving you the basic lowdown of this all because my mind is still reeling from all that Farnell has shared in Mystic Vampire, and what I’ve included thus far is hardly the whole of Collins’ life.

What I am most excited about now that I’ve finished reading the book is going back through my multiple sticky tabs of reference to further research the writings of others during this time. For instance, right now on my desktop I have a downloaded PDF of Geometrical Psychology or The Science of Representation: An Abstract of the Theories and Diagrams of B.W. Betts by Louisa S. Cook, who was Collins’ sister-in-law. Additionally, I have found PDF copies of Collins’ Light on the Path, Idyll of the White Lotus, and The Blossom and the Fruit. Now that I’ve read her story, I am eager to delve into her writing.

Like I said, I’ve been very into researching prior occult texts recently because there is something rich about what was going on during this time with the rise of Spiritualism and then later Theosophy. Luckily, Farnell has provided detailed references for all the information in the book with a very thorough list of footnotes and pages of sources, including books, periodicals, and online sites. I always deeply appreciate this level of scholarship and the way it aids me in discovering new things to read, research, and explore.

I feel like I’ve gotten to know Collins through this biography, and I can say she definitely has become one of my spiritual role models. Her role in Theosophy has been overshadowed by more popular names, but she contributed much to the movement, while also succeeding in other areas of life as well, such as writing romantic fiction and fashion columns for decades. Given the Victorian time period, her ambition is all the more impressive. Farnell has done an exquisite service in writing this book and keeping her memory alive.

Mystic Vampire is a must-read for anyone interested in occult history and seeking to learn more about the happenings in the late 19th century. Collins seems to me a feminist icon in her own right, dabbling in the occult arts and making her way in the world through her writing and activism. Farnell has brought her back to life in these pages, reclaiming her legacy and opening a channel for her spirit to carry on into the 21st century. Due to Farnell’s diligent research and writing, over a hundred years beyond her lifetime, Collins continues to inspire and guide those on a spiritual path.

The Lantern Oracle, by Angelina Mirabito

The Lantern Oracle, by Angelina Mirabito, PhD and illustrated by Yuly Alego
Blue Angel Publishing, 1925538908, 44 cards, 144 pages, July 2020

In the rush of life, it can be common to overlook the importance of a strong spiritual foundation. The Lantern Oracle by Angelina Mirabito, PhD is a reminder of the sacredness in the everyday life of all women. In this touching deck, the beauty of connection among women across the span of time is woven together to create a spring of generational insight. This deck is a gateway to exploring woman’s wisdom through the archetypal forms of feminine consciousness: Maiden, Mother, Guardian, and Crone.

“Together, the young ladies and women of The Lantern Oracle nurture clarity, self-empowerment, and healing. They provide access to the eternal feminine energy, living love, and wisdom as medicine to work with, personalise, and integrate.”1

Mirabito introduces the concept of the deck in the guidebook, which explains how the 44-card deck has 11 cards in each of the four sections of feminine archetypal energy mentioned above. There is a description provided for all of these archetypes that demonstrates how one builds upon the former. For instance Mirabito writes, “Choices that are often naively and idealistically made during the Maiden stage can culminate in the birthing of a new reality or an illusion during the Mother stage.”2

Something I think is unique, which I really appreciate, is her addition of Guardian as an archetypal energy, which seems to add another layer of depth to the traditional triple goddess expression of energy (Maiden, Mother, Crone). I’ve always felt there was a phase in-between Mother and Crone, which Mirabito aptly expresses in the deck and guidebook explanations of the cards in this section.

The Guardian phase is the time of midlife, where one discovers their sense of self in an empowered way. These messages are about learning to stand in one’s own authority, having been renewed through the mistakes of young adulthood and now having learned to carry oneself with composure. Maturity, regeneration, and a sense of responsibility highlight this passageway.

The illustrations on The Lantern Oracle cards, done by Yuly Ageo, really create an encompassing sense of connection between all women, which once again adds to the feeling of this being a deck of universal wisdom. Though there is a mixture of fantasy, with some images having elf-like ears, most of the cards feature ordinary women of all ages. The commonality between these women is evident, who all on their journey towards wholeness and personal fulfillment must face the ups and downs of the wheel of life.

Within Ageo’s images on the cards, I can see the challenges, fears, hopes, and dreams of these women, which emotionally brings them to life for me. Even if the women on the cards don’t look like me physically (there are many cultures portrayed), as I shuffle through the deck I am able to identify the faces of my grandmothers, aunts, mother, and friends because there is a sense of solidarity on the path of feminine wisdom. These cards become a visual reminder of the shared experiences we go through as a collective on the path to learning how to nurture, empower, and tend to ourselves with care, no matter where we originate from or live.

My favorite part of the deck is Marabito’s choice of cards and the wisdom within each one. The different cards have a sense of authenticity, that give meaningful spiritual insight without glossing over reality, putting a positive spin, or becoming too ominous. It feels as though the wisest part of oneself is speaking through the cards, a higher self if you will. Due to the cross-generational messages of the cards, healing is accessible through connection to parts of yourself in former life stages, as well as future ones.

For instance, Trusting Tricksters, is card number six in the Maiden section. I certainly know that as a Maiden I trust quite a few tricksters, who lead me astray and caused confusion in my life. Drawing this card in the present reminds me of that time in life, makes me recall the lessons I learned, and then allows me to consciously put that wisdom into action.

I especially find the cards for Motherhood empowering too right now, as these are the words I wish I had someone telling me as I make my way through early adulthood. Cards such as Melting Mask (16), Radical Honesty (18), and Enough (20) all remind me of the necessity of feeling like I am worthy, moving away from roles that suffocate my spirit, and aligning with who I truly feel myself to be. While these are the lessons we should be teaching all women, it is this wisdom that is often more difficult to hear in a world that drowns out the voice of our soul all too often.

Working with these cards on a daily basis has improved my confidence, made me feel more attuned to my soul, and also reminded me of the inevitable turning of the great wheel of life. I am more relaxed accepting where I am currently, facing what comes my way with a sense of calmness and ease, acknowledging there is always going to be room for growth, new experiences, and transformation. With this deck, I have a trusted resource to guide me in love, compassion, and strength through life’s ups and downs.

I recommend The Lantern Oracle for those looking to bring feminine wisdom into their life on a daily basis for guidance, encouragement, and attunement. Mirabito’s words are so genuine, and just what I need to hear on a daily basis to remember my innate wisdom and soul’s path. Alejo’s artwork is absolutely beautiful, reminding me of my connection to all women, despite our external differences. The inclusive nature of feminine energy shines through this deck and holds space for integrating the lessons of the four phases of consciousness we all pass through on our spiritual journey. This deck is a true spiritual treasure whose timeless quality makes it perfect for working with long term.