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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.

Witchcraft on a Shoestring, by Deborah Blake

Witchcraft on a Shoestring: Practicing the Craft Without Breaking Your Budget, by Deborah Blake
Crossed Crow Books,1959883194, 180 pages, March 2024

Calling all thrifty witches, Deborah Blake has some great ideas in Witchcraft on a Shoestring: Practicing the Craft Without Breaking Your Budget. It’s easy to feel like we “need” to have all the things for our magical practice to be a success–statues, crystals, wands, attire, essential oils, tarot cards, and more–but this can quickly take a toll on one’s finances. I for one have found myself wanting to do a wealth spell, only to get carried away with acquiring what I thought I needed to make it a success, forgetting in the process of gathering my supplies the intention I was working towards. In this book, Blake reminds us what’s most important in our magical practices and covers the ins-and-outs of how to pursue our craft without going overboard on unnecessary expenses.

“No matter what your budget or how you decide to spend your money, there are no limitation on how well you can practice Witchcraft besides the ones you put on yourself.

You can be a powerful, talented, wise, and warm Witch without spending a penny. And you should never feel that a lack of money is an excuse for being anything less.”1

Blake’s resourcefulness comes through in each chapter. While she assures readers to practice witchcraft one only needs are belief, will, and focus, she also goes in-depth providing ways to lower costs for all the aspects of the craft that can add up to cost money. She starts generally with knowledge, providing ways one can learn more about their spiritual pursuits through books, internet, and local in-person resources, such as events and festivals. What’s extremely helpful for readers is Blake’s own personal recommendation for books on common witchcraft topics (herbs, gemstones, gods and goddesses, sabbats, etc.).

From here, she moves on to the home and sacred space. She offers suggestions for making an affordable altar and how to resource items like statues, candles, and chalices, and more without breaking the bank. She also shares tips for gardening and tending to one’s yard. There’s an entire chapter on inexpensive substitutions that can be made for items commonly used, such as firepits, quarter candles, cauldrons, and witchy garb and jewlery. There’s even specific sites listed that sell reasonably priced items, so you can add these as go-to sources if you are looking to purchase something rather than thrift it or craft it yourself.

For those who do enjoy crafting, the chapter “The Crafty Witch: Thirty-Five Simple and Thrifty Craft Projects for Magical Purposes” is such inspiration. I like to craft my own things because I feel it infuses them with my own energy, and I couldn’t be more excited to do some of the projects Blake suggests! She divides the recipes by material used, which is very useful for those who are partial to a specific medium. For instance under the Clay section, there’s directions for crafting one’s own god and goddess figurines, rune stones, and pentacle plaque, while the Fabric section has directions for a poppet, sachets, and charms. Just to share some more, the Paper section has a spell for parchment paper, creating your own herbal paper, decorating a book of shadows, and DIY tarot cards. There’s tons and tons of ideas for projects one can do using common household items, enhancing their craft without splurging.

My favorite chapter was “Feeding the Masses: Forty-Five Feast Dishes for Less” where Blake shares options for cost-efficient ingredient sourcing to make recipes for each sabbat. She even uses dollar signs ($) to denote the level of expense for each dish. Here are some of the delectable recipes: Tres Leches Pie for Imbolc, Goat Cheese Herbed Spread for Ostara, Strawberry Paradise Cake for Beltane, Yin-Yang Bean Spread for Litha, Morgana’s Tomato Pie for Lammas, Baked Apple Surprise for Mabon, Samhain Devil’s Food Cake, and Rum Cake for Yule. As someone who is ALWAYS looking for new recipes to celebrate with and share with my family and friends, you can bet I’ll be coming back to this book again and again. There’s also recipes for Full Moon Cakes and Ale. What I like about the recipes is that they’re tried and tested by Blake and people in her life; I always trust a hand-me-down recipe!

Blake concludes the book with a chapter on ways one can practice their craft for absolutely free, ranging from kissing and invoking a love god/goddess to volunteering in the spirit of service. These suggestions are little reminders that it’s how we choose to live our life that ultimately shapes our craft, rather than the material possession we buy.

All in all, Witchcraft on a Shoestring is a really fun read for those looking to do more for less. Blake is a wealth of knowledge and her suggestions are sure to help you save a bit of cash whale being reminded what is most important about your practice: your intentions and belief. I’m really looking forward to using this book to get crafty this spring and to bake around the wheel of the year with all the recipes she shares!

For those interested in other works by Blake, she is a prolific writer! Other related book include The Electic Witch’s Book of Shadows, The Little Book of Cat Magic, A Year and a Day of Everyday Witchcraft, The Goddess Is In The Details, and more. She also has published her own tarot and tarot decks:  Everyday Witch’s Familiars Oracle, Everyday Witch Tarot, and Everyday Witch Oracle. But what surprised me the most was she’s also a fiction writer too. Some of her series include A Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery series (three books), Baba Yaga series (three books), and Broken Rider series (three books). You can learn more about her at her website.

The Complete Book of Spiritual Astrology, by per Henrik Gullfoss

The Complete Book of Spiritual Astrology, by Per Henrik Gullfoss
Crossed Crow Books, 979-8985628159, 270 pages, October 2022

Those who feel a spiritual calling often need to learn new tools to help guide their journey. Some turn to meditation, others towards tarot or oracle cards, but my favorite way to connect to the divine has always been through astrology. The Complete Book of Spiritual Astrology by Per Henrik Gullfoss is a beautiful book that takes readers on a magnificent journey through the zodiac. This book goes beyond the routine descriptions of the signs and houses, as Gullfoss’s soulful communication style brings readers to new internal awareness that brings them more in touch with the special qualities they carry within.

“Only through being here, in the now, can we learn to thrive and flourish in this new time-space dimension that is opening up for humanity. And of course, the perfect map and tool to find your way through this maze of time and space is the astrological horoscope. The perfect description of how your being is manifested into time and space, and the perfect map for this being to find the magic doors into the eternal now.”1

Gullfoss is the founder of the Nordic School of Astrology, a philosopher, and spiritual guide for many. He has written books on astrology, tarot, and mythology, all with the aim of assisting others to better understand their “soul’s true intention.”2 He kindly shares his own astrological placements with readers at the start of the book, giving them a glimpse into who he is on a soul level, what he desires to communicate, and his unique approach to pursuing his goals

 What stood out for me is how he notes, “My Mercury is also in Taurus, and as such, I want to express and communicate beauty in an equally beautiful, yet practical way.”3 After reading this book, I feel that’s the best way to characterize Gullfoss’s insights–beautiful yet practical. They attune readers to their higher purpose while also providing a grounding foundation from which one can explore the nature of their soul’s intention during this incarnation.

There are four chapters in this book, which all are quite long and have many subsections. And there’s so much covered in each one. Topics in the first chapter, “The Signs”,  range from the houses to how to master astrological qualities. I really enjoyed how he puts things in terms of love, beauty, and joy. The focus for each description is how these aspects of a chart contribute to a soul’s mission of bringing about these things in the world, rather than the more common psychological focus. Gullfoss’s language is so inspiring, as he brings new meaning to the study of astrology, one in which the aim is to find balance and wholeness:

“Just as a human is one being with many shades and sides within the one, the horoscope is also one. The horoscope is primarily a description of an integrated unity. Psychology has divided our inner world into layers and compartments. We have subconsciousness, consciousness, ego, superego, shadow, anima, animus, libido, and so forth. The truth is that the inner space of a human is one. It’s convenient to use these divisions to understand what comprises a human being and their inner world. But as soon as we get a deeper understanding, we see that a being is an undivided whole.”4

Gullfoss gives special attention to the I.C./M.C. axis as well as the Ascendent and Descendent axis. For the I.C., he goes through each sign and describes the fear, the repressed, the reason, and what it means on a soul level to have this placement. Then for the Descendent, he describes the shadow, the dream, the integration, and finally the soul integration. His descriptions were very accurate for me and gave me plenty of food-for-thought about how I relate to others.

In chapter two, “The Planets”, Gullfoss moves through all the planets, providing a description of the energy for them in each element (water, fire, air, earth) and then each quality (cardinal, fixed, mutable). I appreciated this approach because it gave me a better understanding of how the energies blend, instead of trying to hone in on a very specific energy signature (ex. Moon in Scorpio) like many astrologers tend to do. Seeing the planets through this lens softened my stance, as well as opened new doors of perception for my interpretation of the placements in a chart. One of my favorite descriptions was Mercury in Air, part of which reads:

“There needs to be a balance between stillness and through, a gap where inspiration can rise. As strange as it may seem, Mercury in Air needs to surrender to the flow of inspiration and trust the mind of the universe in order to find the way to enlightenment. If it tries to always think and understand, it becomes caught in the outer web of life. It ahs to allow itself to open to the greater mind of the universe, to immerse itself in the collective mind of being.”5

Another really fascinating part of this section was about the rulership of planets. Gullfoss notes the difference between the traditional rule and esoteric ruler. He writes, “The rulers normally work within astrology and are esoterically connected with a person/horoscope operating from the level of ego consciousness. If you start to operate from a level of soul consciousness, there will be a change in rulership for most signs.”6 In revealing the esoteric ruler, I felt Gullfoss was peeling away a layer of the planet to provide more insight on the deeper energetic significance of the planet.

The third chapter, “Aspects”, goes into more nuanced astrology. There’s not really any background information provided for beginners, so it would be good for those unfamiliar with aspects to do a little bit of research on their own. Just like in the former chapters, Gullfoss provides a spiritual perspective in regard to the aspects, going into extra detail about septile and quintile placements. Then he discusses aspects between inner and outer planets and planets in retrograde. This whole section is very helpful for those who already have an understanding of astrology to tune into the energies from a soul level consciousness, embodying a deeper meaning of the planetary relationships in play.

The final chapter “Astrology and Time” is by far the briefest. Gullfoss notes the changing of time in the modern era and asserts “the time has come for a new faculty.”7 He reviews the three steps our consciousness has been built upon–instinct, emotion, and thought–and proposes cultivating intuition as the next stop. He reminds readers, “The only thing you have to do to develop thai reality is to develop your capacity of awareness in every moment – awareness of yourself and awareness of all the smaller aspects of life that you are a part of.”8

Overall, The Complete Book of Spiritual Astrology is perfect for those seeking to learn more about their soul’s purpose in life. Gullfoss does a wonderful job illuminating the multifaceted nature of the astrology chart, providing ample material for readers to reflect on as they continue to cultivate a meaningful spiritual path. Gullfoss’s writing is esoteric and deep while still being extremely applicable to daily life. Beginners and seasoned astrologers alike will benefit from the profound insights and thoughtful reflections about the esoteric nature of astrology.

Astrolations!, by Jill Carr

Astrolations! A Unique Astrological Guide For You and All Your Relationships, by Jill Carr
O-Books, 1803414200, 736 pages, March 2024

Holy moly! It feels only proper to begin a review of Astrolations! A Unique Astrological Guide for You and All Your Relationships by Jill Carr with an exclamation, given that even the title has it in there. I did not expect such a thoroughly engaging and hefty text, but when I opened my package and felt the weight of this book, I knew I was in for a real treat. Carr teaches readers how Western and Chinese astrology blend to provide a well-rounded understanding of the energies of your own astrological signature and that of those in your life. This comprehensive text is sure to shed light on why you are the way you are and how in turn your relationships are energetically with others.

The book begins with a long, long list of birthdates, ranging from January 1900 to February 2032, to help readers figure out their Western and Chinese astrological signature. For Chinese astrology, there is both an animal and element for each year. I quickly scanned all the birthdates to see I am an Aquarius Metal Horse, my husband is an Aries Earth Snake, my son is a Capricorn Water Tiger, and my mother is a Capricorn Earth Dog. While I wanted to quickly skip ahead to read the meaning for each one, I took the slow route and proceeded as planned by Carr through the sections.

In the Western astrology section, Carr covers the four elements, offering key words, the signs of each element, and a description of the essence of each element. She also covers the three qualities–cardinal, mutable, and fixed. There’s a description of how the elements relate to each other in Western astrology, and then she moves onto each sign. For every astrological sign, Carr provides its element and quality, planetary ruler, the part of the body it rules, and an overview of the sign’s attributes.

Next, the Chinese astrology section covers the twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac, the elements in Chinese astrology, and the interdependence of the elements and how they influence personal relationships. Chinese astrology has a lot more positive/negative aspects, or yin/yang, which Carr covers to give readers a full perspective of how the different zodiac energies, between both the animal sign and element, can manifest. There’s even a helpful little table of the twelve animal signs in just one word for the categories upside, downside, and gone rogue for those looking for quick references to better understand the signs. As someone who has studied Western astrology for years, it does take a bit of time to open to the system of Chinese astrology, but Carr does a good job of breaking the system down into bite-size bits for readers to learn quickly.

The way Carr organizes the rest of the book is going in traditional Western astrological order of Aries to Pisces and covering the Chinese astrology for each sign. Within the section which might be labeled “Aries Dragon” or “Cancer Rat”, Carr breaks it down even further by talking about the elemental nature of the profile too. In regard to the balance of elements, Carr writes:

“Each person has three elements in their basic sign combination: their Western Zodiac sign element; their native element of their Chinese sign; the element of the Chinese sign in their own birth year.”1

Essentially, it’s not about just one element in someone’s astrological signature, rather it’s more about the component of elements and how they work together. Someone could have all fire elements, which can indicate an imbalance of energies, or similarly, they might have elements that neutralize each other and provide balance.

In total, there are 144 Western and Eastern main combination types, and the majority of this book (over 600 pages!) is dedicated to covering each one in regards to compatibility and as a child. For every combination type, Carr provides the element of the Western sign and Chinese sign, plus information on the Chinese element of the year the person’s birth. For instance, my husband is an Aries Snake; there could be an Earth, Metal, Fire, Water, or Air snake, depending on the year of someone’s birth, but he is an Earth snake. She also lists the attributes of the signs (positive/negative, cardinal/fixed/mutable, yin/yang). I found this information helpful because just beginning to understand the energies of the combination helps to attune yourself to the nature of the astrological signature.

Though Carr does provide a good deal of information for each combination, and her keen insights from decades of professional experience in both Western and Chinese astrology are spot-on. She compares and contrasts how the different yearly element will manifest for each combination (i.e. how a Metal Scorpio Horse will different from a Water Scorpio Horse), noting the overall similarities of the combination while also highlighting subtle differences. For every combination, she offers an assessment of their personality overall, how they are as a spouse/partner/significant other, and how they are as a parent/grandparent/sibling/friend/colleague. It’s a great deal of information, but it’s also cramming a lot into a small section (there’s two to three pages for each combination).

The depictions of each combination were spot on as my family sat around reading them aloud to each other. We had quite a few laughs at Carr’s insights due to the accuracy that was easy for everyone to see, even if the person being assessed didn’t like hearing some of their shadow qualities! She nailed me to a tee in the line:

“The Aquarius Horse colleague is a mixed bag of energy, innovation, and inconsistency. They are hardworking and have lots of stamina, but can get carried away by their own enthusiasm at times. The Fire AqH and the Metal AqH in particular enjoy a fast-paced working environment, and become impatient with plodders in the workplace.”2

I really enjoyed the section on the combinations as children since I have a one-year old son. I was amazed by the accuracy of him as a Capricorn Tiger. It literally matches him perfectly, from being on the move EARLY (he started walking at 8 months) to requiring “presence and attention to help them into a sleep routine”3 (he only falls asleep when snuggled or held). I am definitely going to be sharing these insights with friends who have children!

My only complaint is that only the overarching sections are listed in the table of contents, so when you’re looking for a specific combination, you really have to flip through the pages. It can take a minute or two to find what you’re looking for, and I often find myself wishing I could check the table of contents to simply see which page to flip to. However, once you start understanding the general order of things, the flipping becomes easier.

Overall, Astrolations! is an immensely insightful guide to the unique blend of Western and Chinese astrology that shapes personality. Carr does a fantastic job of explaining the two astrological systems and seamlessly blends them together to provide well-rounded portrayals of each combination. This book absolutely will enhance your self-knowledge as well as give you a better understanding of the people in your life. From your significant other to colleagues to siblings and children, you’ll better be able to see the elements that make the person who they are and recognize how your own elemental signature interacts with theirs, fostering new awareness within your relationships.

This book would be great for anyone seeking to learn more about the intersection of Western and Chinese astrology, or for those who simply seek to learn all they can about who they are for personal insight and the meaningful people in their lives to enhance their bonds. And if you’re seeking even more guidance, check out Carr’s website, where she shares regularly on her blog.

Celtic Goddess Grimoire, by Annwyn Avalon

Celtic Goddess Grimoire: Invoke the Enduring Power of the Celtic Feminine Divine, by Annwyn Avalon
Weiser Books, 157863802X, 224 pages, March 2024

At the end of 2023, I signed up for a thirteen-moon prophecy reading with Danielle Dulsky. The intention I set for the reading was furthering my understanding of the “flavor” of my magic. I was curious about what spiritual pursuits were most aligned for me right now. A very significant piece of my prophecy was the Awen symbol, so important that Dulsky explained it was the mythic image for me to draw upon this year. In a pursuit to learn more about this symbol, I’ve been doing increasing research on Celtic traditions, particularly Druidism. I felt an instant pull towards Celtic Goddess Grimoire: Invoke the Enduring Power of the Celtic Feminine Divine by Annwyn Avalon, as though connecting with the Goddesses of the Celtic tradition is the next step in my journey.

Avalon is the perfect person to write this book. She is a Celtic witch and water priestess, who has years of study in water mysteries, witchcraft, and magic. Her previously published titles include Water Witchcraft and The Way of the Water Priestess. Currently, she serves as the keeper of the White Spring, a sacred spring in Glastonbury where she lives. As if all isn’t cool enough, she is also the sacred steward of Chalice Orchard, the former home of Dion Fortune.

Avalon begins by sharing with readers a journey of her life, from growing up in a conservative Christian home to becoming a devoted priestess of the Divine Feminine. Her story felt very relatable, as I’m sure it will be for many others who feel called towards Goddess worship. She explains how while initially she wanted to write a scholarly book about the goddesses, she realized in the process that the dynamic Celtic goddesses could not be confined to specific categories. The book took its own form, which she describes as:

“I wanted to build a bridge between the vastness of each goddess and those who seek her. In the end, I embarked on a goddess-guided journey, allowing them each to show me the highlights of their magic, and teach me what they wanted emphasized in the pages of this book–the best pathways for others to find them and experience their energy.”1

This connection to the energy of the many Celtic goddesses is exactly what I felt while reading this book! Since I am still in the beginning phases of learning Celtic spirituality, I decided to see which goddesses I was naturally drawn to while also keeping an open heart and mind in case any of the goddesses came to me. Avalon does offer some insight into the process of  connecting with a goddess, noting relationships will be different for each person, the goddess you call upon might not answer, while another goddess might abruptly come into your life. Above all, Avalon encourages listening to your own “unverified personal gnosis”2, or UPS for short, even if the information you’re receiving isn’t verifiable by outside sources.

For those new to the Celtic belief system, Avalon covers a bit of history (Roman conquest strongly impacted the Celtic cultures), the role of women in the Celtic world, the Celtic otherworld, and Celtic rituals and practices. Some exercises she shares are how to build an altar, create your own sacred image or blessed candle, and make a goddess simmer pot, incense, and bath soak. These exercises don’t require too many materials, and most could probably do them with the items they have on hand, which is something I always appreciate as a devotee on a budget.

The Part II – Part VII of the book focus on different types of goddesses: Goddesses of the Sacred Waters and Landscape; Goddesses of Abundance, Fertility, and Healing; Goddesses of Battle and Justice; Faery Women; Goddesses of Magic; and Horse Goddesses. Within every part there ranges from two to seven chapters which each cover an individual goddess. At the start of the goddess chapters, Avalon shares name variations, regions, sacred associations, offerings, and body of water. While not every goddess has each one, this plethora of information is fascinating and useful for building a connection with the goddess. It really made me want to go visit these locations and sites on a goddess pilgrimage!

Avalon delves into the history and folklore of each goddess. She covers things such as what the goddess is most well-known for, what artifacts reveal about them, the cultures that revered them, and how goddesses evolved through time, many having their names changed or Christianized by Romans. At the end of each chapter, Avalon provides customized exercises for the goddess. For example, for the Andraste, Invincible Goddess of War, one of the exercises is a prayer for justice, while the exercise for Melusine, Mermaid Goddess of the Fount, is a ritual bath to ask her blessing.

While every goddess was fascinating to learn about, the one that was most awe-inspiring for me to learn about was Rosmerta, The Great Provider. She was an abundance goddess associated with “springs, healing, prosperity, abundance, protection, and fruitfulness.”3 I was intrigued to learn in continental Europe, she was considered the consort to Mercury. Mercury is one of the primary deities that I work with, and never before had I come across any material about him having a consort. I am absolutely going to be weaving in working with Rosmerta as well, hoping the couple will enjoy sharing in ritual together! Exercises that Avalon shares for Rosmerta are an invocation to her and an abundance ritual where fruits, vegetables, and spring or blessed water are given as offerings. I am looking forward to building an altar to Rosmerta and performing the invocation and ritual!

Another goddess that I felt drawn to is The Giantess Cailleach. Avalon writes how she “is often depicted as the personification of winter” and is “variously known as a creator goddess, a storm goddess, a destroyer, and as a giantess who can move large boulders, make mountains, raise seas, and create windstorms.”4 Now, this is one incredible goddess! Exercises Avalon includes for The Cailleach are using storm water for protection and creating a harvest spirit doll, both of which I plan on doing when the timing is right.

Oh! And guess what? In the midst of being immersed in reading about Cerridwen, I flipped the page to see the Awen symbol right there! I did not realize Cerridwen’s mythology was related to this story, and it gave more insight into the meaning of Awen for me. I knew I was meant to read this book!!

At the end there are two appendices for added convenience. Appendix A is titled “Glossary of Celtic Goddesses and Faery Women ” and Appendix B is titled “Index of Exercises and Rituals”. Both make quick-references extremely easy. And one more really neat feature of the book is the maps on the front and back cover. The front cover is a colored map of modern Celtic lands, while the back cover is a map of the historical dispersing of Celtic tribes. For someone not as familiar with the Celtic landscapes, these maps are very helpful when reading about the goddess’s associated locations.

All in all, Celtic Goddess Grimoire is an awesome resource for learning more about the Celtic divine feminine. As a beginner, Avalon made the material very easy to navigate, focusing on providing ample information to provide a full perspective.Those already working with the Celtic pantheon would surely benefit from reading this book too, as Avalon’s insight add new perspectives and the exercises and rituals are good to have available. This is a book that I’ll surely be referring to time and time again, as well as sharing with others I know are feeling called to explore the roots of their Celtic ancestry.

Galactic Guides Oracle, by Victoria Maxwell

Galactic Guides Oracle: Be Guided by the Love, Light, and Magic of the Galaxy!, by Victoria Maxwell and illustrated by Ellie Grant
Rockpool Publishing, 1922785415, 144 pages, 36 cards, March 2024

Calling all my cosmos lovers, it’s time to tune into celestial frequencies with Galactic Guides Oracle: Be Guided by the Love, Light, and Magic of the Galaxy! by Victoria Maxwell. This deck is out of this world – literally!

“We often look to the stars, thinking they are so far away and wondering what they have to do with us. They have everything to do with us; we are made of stardust.”1

Maxwell has a talent for attuning oracle card readers to new dimensions. Her previously published decks, Angels Among Us and Goddesses Among Us, are my go-tos when I am in need of some insight. Now with this deck, Maxwell transports readers into the galaxy to connect with the energies of planets, zodiac signs, and star systems for interstellar guidance.

I love what Maxwell shares in her introduction. She describes: “When I stopped focusing on what the planets, constellations and star systems meant according to traditional definitions and simply tuned into their energy, I found I could connect with them on a deeply personal level and invite them to guide me through astrological seasons and moon cycles and help me with what’s happening here on the ground.”2 This appeals to me because as an astrologer I’m always in relationship with the cosmos, yearning to go beyond what I know about each planet from books to create my own energetic connection. This deck is perfect for this purpose.

In the “How to use the cards” section of the guidebook, Maxwell offers different card spreads and describes the difference between the planetary cards, zodiac sign cards, and star system cards. The planetary cards tend to draw attention to something happening here and now that needs your attention; the zodiac sign cards ask you to look at the bigger picture and take a broader perspective; the star system cards have to do with destiny and insight from high-level guides. Additionally, she explains how each card also has an associated element, chakra, crystal, flower, and planet ally that expands the meaning even further. This information adds another layer to readings, though one can certainly glean plenty of insight just from reading the description of each card in the guidebook.

There is just so much guidance for each card! In addition to the aforementioned correspondences, each guidebook entry has an overall message of guidance, questions to ask yourself, description of the card, insight for the five common realms people seek guidance about (love, money, purpose, service, and spirituality), and a message from a lightwork perspective and shadow work perspective. So much insight for each card!

I had an insanely cool synchronicity happen with this deck. I happened upon a list of 100 baby names related to space. My son had a “D” name, so I was looking at other “D” names on the list and came across Draco. I thought it sounded cool, and I was envisioning myself calling my child that, but then told myself to refocus back to working with my deck. I shuffled and then pulled out the card.. Draco! Can you believe it?! The guidebook describes, “Draco, which is Latin for ‘dragon’, is one of hte largest constellations in the sky.”3 To add to the timing, it was also on the Chinese New Year, ushering in the year of the dragon!

I was mostly interested in the the card related to my love life, so I focused on that message in the guidebook, which reads:

“Relationships are the ultimate opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. The people who challenge you may have the most to teach you.”4

This felt extremely resonant, as I was working through some “growing pains” in my current relationship. This card helped me to reframe my perspective and remember that challenges do not mean the relationship isn’t success, rather they present a chance to grow stronger by doing my own inner work and focusing on spiritual growth.

The imagery on the cards, illustrated by Ellie Grant, all feature a person embodying the energy of the planet, zodiac sign, or constellation. They are very accurate, and at times can seem embellished, but I enjoy this because I can study the imagery and see all the attributes and characteristics of each energy personified. The general color theme is what you’d envision for deep space–blues, blacks, purples, greens–along with bursts of colors to make the characters on the cards pop and stand out.

My favorite image in the deck is Saturn, which features a gorgeous elder with striking gray hair. I always get a crone feeling from Saturn, the wise grandmother figure, so I enjoyed seeing Grant portray the energy this way too. Other cards that I got a kick out of include Aquarius, featuring a man who looks like he’s at Burning Man, covered in tattoos, necklaces, a scarf, and reflective sunglasses that flip up to remind us of the third eye. I also love the image of a woman holding her big pregnant belly, wearing a beautiful flower crown, for the Full Moon card. It’s also worth noting this is a very inclusive deck that personifies the energies of a diverse range of people.

My final thoughts about this deck are that it can feel a little ungrounding to work with. For those looking to attune to higher frequencies, it’s perfect! But if you’re not used to working with these energies, you might want to ensure you take the time to ground back in nature after working with the deck. I personally love how the deck gives me an out of body feeling while working with it, but for some this might feel disconcerting. So make sure to take the time to create the right space for working with this deck and balancing yourself afterwards.

Overall, Galactic Guides Oracle is a really amazing way to connect with the celestial energies. Whether you’re looking for inspirational guidance, cool synchronicities, or a fun way to meditate with the energies, this deck has you covered. The imagery on the card does a wonderful job of bringing these energies into a form we can visually identify with, while the guidebook is filled with interesting facts about the stars as well as soulful messages that can help reorient you towards your higher calling. I highly recommend this deck for those who are interested in the myseries of space, the beauty of the stars, and interstellar travel consciousness.

Living Wands of the Druids, by Jon G. Hughes

Living Wands of the Druids: Harvesting, Crafting, and Casting with Magical Tools, by Jon G. Hughes
Destiny Books, 1644118033, 232 pages, January 2024

I bought my first wand from Neil the Wandmaker, a well-known wand artisan in California. It took me nearly half an hour to select the right wand, picking them up and putting them down as I tried to sense which one was calling to me the most for that moment. While I’ve gotten plenty of use out of my artisan wand, recently, my exploration into the spirituality of Druidism has made me think differently about nature and the tools I use in my craft.

Living Wands of the Druids: Harvesting, Crafting, and Casting with Magical Tools by Jon G. Hughes has completely shifted my perspective into the purpose of a wand and how one might go about crafting their own. Hughes teaches readers how a fundamental principle of the Druid tradition is that the wood from which a wand or staff is crafted must be living. He explains:

“By living we mean that the wood must still contain the vital living sap of the tree from which it has been harvested so that this vital sap may impart the virtues and attributes of the chosen tree to the channeled energy of the adept, enhancing and elevating the adept’s energy and intention as they pass through the heart of the wand.”1

While the focus is on living wands, Hughes takes plenty of time explaining aspects of Druid foundational principles and lore. There’s an entire chapter dedicated to the lore of trees. He describes how Druids believe all living things, including trees obviously, have “three essential components: their physical manifestation, their portion of the communal or world energy (sometimes referred to a world spirit), and their personal energy.”2

All three components must be used when crafting a living wand, making it important to select the right donor tree, which Hughes luckily teaches readers how to do. There are plenty of things to consider, ranging from location of the tree to the season, and once the appropriate tree is selected, Hughes provides a harvesting rite to “maintain the harvested branch’s integrity and potency.”3

Hughes emphasizes how crucial it is to understand the attributes of different tree species when selecting a wand. While this topic could easily comprise an entire book and there are many more tree species than the ones covers, he covers the Druidic lore, wood qualities, and spiritual attributes of ten common trees (and even includes a handy reference chart): apple, birch (silver), elm (wych), hawthorn, hazel, holly, oak, pine (scots), rowan, and yew.

“Eventually, an intimate understanding of each tree and its place in its forest home will develop, and each tree will become a trusted friend. It is then that a connection with the ancient ways will enter the adept’s own spiritual being; a connection with the ancient pagan beliefs and the lore of the Druids will mature within the adept and with this connection and understanding she will grow and fulfill her role in nature’s partnership.”4

Now that readers have activated their connection with the trees, Hughes moves onto wand types. The main wands he covers are rudimentary, entire, compound wands, rods, and staffs. For each wand type, there is a picture provided, and Hughes shares the appropriate use for the wand and how to craft it. Occasionally included further background information to provide a well-rounded understanding for readers, such as the importance of a protective circle and how to cast one.

For more complex wand types, he also includes additional information, such as how to select “entwining botanical”5 (entwined wands) and “wood combinations”6 (compound wands) and adorn a staff. There’s also guidance on creating hooked wands, forked wands, protective bundles, and flying staffs, plus how to use feathers as wands. Lots of really great wand ideas in this section, and readers will feel fully equipped in choosing which one is best based on their intention and crafting it appropriately.

Once the natural materials for the wand have been selected, Hughes leads readers through finding and/or creating an auspicious workspace to craft their wand and then preparing the wand for use through cleansing and potentializing. In regard to finding the right location, Hughes includes diagrams to help readers orient themselves and ensure they are aligning properly with their chosen orientation.

For the preparation section and the following one on using the wand, Hughes writes out exactly what one can say for cleansing the wand, activating its potential, and then using it in bold lettering. I love how what to do, when to do it, and what to say while doing it are all clearly laid out for the reader. I find this incredibly helpful since I often get tongue-tied in ritual, and I appreciate having the structure to follow.

Topics covered for using the wand range from casting with one’s hand as a wand to making one’s own flying ointment to use with their flying staff. There’s so many ways to use the wands, and as readers experiment on their own, they’ll start gaining more confidence in their practice. From attraction to protection, curse-casting to inner contemplation, there’s so many possibilities for the intentions one can set with their wants.

One of the things I didn’t know prior to reading this book was that the original casting device should be kept “If the adept considers that there is even a remote possibility that the intention he has cast will need to be annulled, undone, or reversed…”7 Hughes notes that it’s common to see wands “labeled and stored in their protective wrappings just in case they might be needed to amend the intentions they originally cast.”8 This was helpful to know, and if one does need to do any of the aforementioned magical workings, Hughes has once again provided the ritual wording to do so.

When one feels assured that their work with the wand is complete, the Druidic way is to return the wand to the earth. Hughes writes:

“The protocol of returning all harvested material to its source location is born from the tenant that the balance of nature must be retained at all ties, and that only when botanical material is allowed to decay and reunite with its base matter and spiritual energies, as part of the world reservoir of elemental substance and spirit, may the cosmic balance resin intact, allowing all these precious resources to be used over and over again without depleting or diluting the world’s vital reserves.”9

This feels really resonant for me that the circle comes to completion by giving the wand back to nature. What an absolutely beautiful principle to live by! This sentiment is very different From the dominant materialistic culture focused on consumerism, where the purchased wands created often can never go back to their original source. And yes, there’s a ritual clearly laid out by Hughes for one to return their wand.

Overall, Living Wands of the Druids, is the perfect beginner’s guide to crafting one’s own magical wand. Whether or not one considers themselves a Druid, Hughes makes the material accessible for everyone. He shares a lot about the belief system of lore of Druidism, but there’s never an assertion that one must take any sort of oath or vow to create these living wands. A simple respect for nature and desire to be in harmony with fellow life on the earth is all readers need to draw upon the natural wisdom of the Druids for this practice of crafting living wands.

I gained a deeper reverence for the earth while reading it, as well as a better appreciation and understanding of Druidism in general. I highly recommend this book for those looking to be sustainable in their craft. The art of making living wands is also a reminder we have all we need for our magical practice within nature, emphasizing the importance of maintaining balance and reciprocity with the earth.

Tarot for the Hard Work, by Maria Minnis

Tarot for the Hard Work: An Archetypal Journey to Confront Racism and Inspire Collective Healing, by Maria Minnis
Weiser Books, 1578638070, 280 pages, January 2024

Everyday we are confronted with choices about who we are as a collective as outdated systems are questioned and dismantled, especially those that have oppressed and disempowered Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) individuals and groups. I believe change starts within, but it’s not always easy to do the inner work, nor is there a step-by-step map about how inner work translates to external activism. Many of us turn to tarot for answers; we trust the wisdom of archetypes for our own guidance and personal growth. Can this wisdom system we know and love be used for more? Absolutely, and that’s what Maria Minnis has revealed in Tarot for the Hard Work: An Archetypal Journey to Confront Racism and Inspire Collective Healing.

In this book, Minnis teaches how the tarot can be used as a tool for inner work, activism, and community transformation through the archetypes. Using the symbolic language of the tarot, Minnis leads readers through major arcana, providing perspectives of how their attributes can be utilized to foster change, prompt self-reflection, lead to more self-awareness, and consciously begin to dismantle racism.

Tarot for the Hard Work is a tool for passionately demolishing structural oppression. It’s a tool for white people who want to use their privilege for more liberation. It is a tool for Black and Brown people living in a structurally racist society intent on selling self-hatred and shame to marginalized people and capitalizing on their pain. It is a tool for both tarot newbies and tarot experts. It is a tool for action. It is a tool for going beyond baby steps. It is a tool that can offer great satisfaction as well as great difficulty. It is a tool to expand your comfort zone. This is a tool that requires your presence for it to work.”1

Each chapter follows the same structured pattern, which provides a nice container for the content. The chapter begins with an inspirational quote at the top and then a description of the card. The description highlights the point in the journey (ex. How the Empress relates to the prior cards–Fool, Magician, High Priestess) and also bullet-pointing the services the card contributes to the cause. Next, for every card, Minnis guides readers to form “embodied keywords” from gazing at the card, becoming the archetype, studying the imagery from a liberation perspective.

The succeeding section of the chapter focuses on the card in liberation work followed by a section correspondences associated with the card. Minnis provides lists of how the card can show up both in a balanced and imbalanced way, leaving room for readers to fill in a space about ways their relationship with the card feels when balanced and imbalanced.

The section that differs the most chapter to chapter is the next as it is information personalized to the card related to a method of dismantling racism. For instance, the Wheel of Fortune chapter section is titled “Intersecting Race and Disability Justice”, while the Lovers chapter is “Choosing to Redistribute Wealth”. These sections are followed by exercises that range from downloading a related book or podcast to doing a social media audit to thinking about these issues when creating a budget. I think these sections are my favorite part of the chapter because I’m a do-er. I thoroughly enjoy all of Minnis’s tarot information, but these sections feel like the nitty-gritty I’ve been wanting to delve into, so I really appreciate her ample suggestions of how to take direct action. Her recommendations of books, movies, meditations, songs, etc. are impressive – and I’ve already gained a lot from taking the time to do the exercises.

Moving onward, the following section focuses on identifying as the card. Minnis includes about twenty qualities and suggests readers circle ones they already embody, draw hearts around ones they want to embody more deeply/frequently, and squares around qualities they want to transmute or avoid. Once again, readers get the chance to be hands-on in their reading; there’s something about putting pen to paper in the book that feels like I’m acknowledging my qualities and calling in the ones I want more than just thinking about them. The following section is affirmations, which further heighten my connection to the card, particularly in regard to a liberation work aspect.

My second favorite section is next: magical practices to conjure the card. Minnis doesn’t give specifics, but the list of ideas is once again enough to get the creative ball rolling on how you can make a difference in your personal practice. Some suggestions are specifically related to a magical practice, such as “Perform a protection spell.”2 or “Embody benevolent ancestors.”3, while others are more focused on direct actions that can be magically inspired, such as “Review and diversify your news sources.”4 or “Offer community to isolated people.”5

The final sections are focused on becoming the archetype. Minnis offers readers the opportunity to set their own objective (personal, relational, or collective) related to the energy of the card’s archetypal energy. There is space to write down the specific intention, as well as the time one plans to embody that tarot card in their liberation work, why this work is important, and an affirmation they will repeat to support their intention. After this, there’s one last section for readers to reflect and write about their experience, noting their successes, setbacks, and other reflections that came up during their experience working with the archetypal energy.

But wait! That’s not all. Minnis is guiding readers to be fully equipped for doing the hard work of dismantling racism, and so, at the end of every chapter is a page on “Building a Toolkit” that has a specific action readers can take and questions that make them identify the situation and how they can remedy it. For instance, the toolkit suggestion for the Empress is “Defend Public Spaces” with questions such as “How can you help preserve public spaces, particularly for BIPOC?”6. This toolkit prepares to have conversations about these important topics, giving them the food for thought needed to arrive at their own opinions that can be shared with a wider community to make a change.

Even though it’s only January, I feel confident in saying Tarot for the Hard Work will be one of the best tarot reads this year and the one I will be consistently recommending to other tarot enthusiasts. Not only does Minnis unlock new insights about the archetypes of each major arcana card, she has beautifully crafted a whole hero/heroine journey for readers to undertake themselves with her activities, prompts, and space for reflection. Tarot newbies and experts alike have so much to gain from reading this book, and it cannot be overstated how relevant and necessary inner work is to acknowledge racism, privilege, and barriers to change within ourselves in order to shift the detrimental structures of our society.

For those interested in Minnis’s work you can learn more about her here on her website.

The Sorcery of Solomon, by Sara L. Mastros

The Sorcery of Solomon: A Guide to the 44 Planetary Pentacles of the Magician King, by Sara L. Mastros
Weiser Books, 1578637864, 272 pages, January 2024

King Solomon is renowned for his wisdom and wealth, but did you know that he was also believed to be a powerful magician? Many ancient texts attribute supernatural powers to him, including the ability to summon and command demons and spirits. According to legend, he used his knowledge of magic to build the Temple of Jerusalem and control the elements. Some even claim that he possessed a magical ring that gave him control over the spirits of the air, earth, and sea. While the extent of his magical abilities may be debated, there is no doubt that King Solomon was a fascinating figure whose legacy continues to guide magicians today.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced magician, The Sorcery of Solomon: A Guide to the 44 Planetary Pentacles of the Magician King by Sara L. Mastros is a game-changer in magical studies, specifically Solomonic magic. Mastros walks readers through building a relationship with Solomon, learning the Hebrew seals, and understanding how to craft your own Magic Book of Pentacles. The combination of personal anecdotes with academic information makes this a well-rounded text for those seeking guidance on how to use the seals in their own craft.

Solomon’s magic has a long, complex history. Mastros answers questions readers might have in the beginning of the book, including who this book is for and addressing concerns about cultural appropriation. She describes how working Solomonic magic requires one to be “comfortable working with the G-d of Israel.”1, while also emphasizing the book is written for both Jewish and non-Jewish practitioners alike. 

“Growing, changing, and adapting generation with generation, the Solomonic current is braided through the so-called “Western mystery traditions,” both influencing and being influenced by the many magical paradigms, culturism, and styles encountered along the way. Those cultures and practices include Babylonian astrotheology, Egyptian priestcraft, Jewish amulet writing, Greek goetia, Roman witchcraft, Arabic astrological magic, both Ashkenaz and Sefardic folk magic, Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Muslim ceremonial magic, Afro-Caribbean sorcery, and a variety of contemporary Angelo-phone magics.”2

Next, Mastros moves into the history and cultural context of Solomon, which I found to be immensely helpful as someone who is not overly familiar with this type of magic and its detailed history. She specifically details the history of Christian Europe in the Middle Ages and Renaissance from a Jewish perspective, as well as covering The Key of Solomon and The Book of Seals. This book works with the Samuel Liddle MacGregor Mathews interpretation of the Key of Solomon, specifically chapter eighteen focusing on the pentacles.

Mastros recommends a three-pill approach, SLM, for beginners of Solomonic magic: Solomon, Logos, and Magic. Part II is a deep-dive into this method. Topics covered range from working with the dead to dream incubation to the origin of writing. Mastros also teaches readers a good amount about Hebrew magic because the planetary pentacles are “undeniably Hebrew”, and as a result “they rely on the knowledgeable and skillful application of Hebrew magical words and Names of Power.”3

I had zero knowledge about Hebrew magic prior to reading this book, and while it felt a little overwhelming at times to absorb, Mastros does a wonderful job of making it accessible to a novice. What I appreciated most is how she constantly is sharing the relevance of what she’s teaching, assisting the reader in seeing why taking the time to study and learn is valuable. She doesn’t provide shortcuts, but at the same time, she doesn’t go on tangents that distract focus from the information at hand.

For those who feel ready, she provides plenty of guidance for invoking and working with the Great Seal and then making one’s own Book of Pentacles. I wasn’t ready to go there yet, but I highly enjoyed reading about the Great Seal, where Mastros describes the characteristics of the number five and significance of the pentacle. Here’s one thing I learned that I found fascinating:

“However, before writing a pentacle, please recall that, once enchanted, they are people, not objects, and must be treated as such. As people, they must not be thrown out, but allowed to live out their natural life space and then their remains must be interred respectfully. If they are drawn on the body, you can’t scrub them off (or otherwise intentionally efface them). They should be allowed to naturally fade and decay.”4

The longest section, Part III, covers all 44 of Mather’s pentacles. As an astrologer, I was eager to delve into this section since the planets are such a big part of my life. I wanted to learn more about planetary pendants to see what insight about the nature of each planet might be revealed. Additionally, I’ve been looking to enhance my celestial magic practice and learning to work with the seals has long been on my to-do list. I was so grateful to have Mastros as a guide to arrive at this point, as I would have been very naive in simply sketching them not realizing how to properly invoke their power. Mastros writes:

“However, in my opinion, by far the most important component in empowering the pentacles of Solomon is to carefully attend to and understand the sacred Names of Power on which the pentacles call, and to hold kavvanot appropriate to those names while writing and speaking them.”5

I highly enjoyed reading about each seal. Mastros very clearly explains each one, sharing both Mather’s description and her own experience working with it. For instance, Mastros explains how The Seal of Sheba can be worn as a pendant on the heart or arm, while The Wheel of HaShem Adonai can be placed “in a container of any vision-supporting herb to provide a bit of a boost.”6She sometimes includes exercises to aid readers, as well as additional reading material to better round-out their understanding. Another immensely helpful thing Mastros provides is the translation of the Hebrew writing on each seal, so if one wants to create their own seal, they can use the translation rather than the Hebrew script.

Overall, The Sorcery of Solomon is an extremely user-friendly guide to the 44 planetary pentacles, providing practical instructions on how to use the pentacles to their full potential while being sensitive to their historical and cultural significance. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced magician, this book is a game-changer in magical studies and Solomonic magic. Mastros’s extensive knowledge of history and experience as a magical practitioner enriches the reader’s understanding of these magical seals and provides the foundation to create one’s own Magical Book of Pentacles. While you could absolutely power-read the book and glean a great deal of information, a slow and  savory read could last you a long time of in-depth study.

The First Alchemists, by Tobias Churton

The First Alchemists: The Spiritual and Practical Origins of the Noble and Holy Art, by Tobias Churton
Inner Traditions, 1644116839, 320 pages, November 2023

Alchemy can sometimes feel like a buzzword, especially in modern times where it has taken on a heavily psychological context due to Carl Jung’s work and been co-opted by every influencer promising instant change. For those who begin to research alchemy in a more historical context, it quickly becomes exceedingly clear that the path is long and jumbled. Weaving through the different strands throughout time and global cultures amid intentional secret-keeping become a quandary. In his introduction to The First Alchemists: The Spiritual and Practical Origins of the Noble and Holy Art, Tobias Churton writes:

“Well, it is hardly surprising that confusion has inhibited understanding of alchemy. The term has perhaps simply come to mean “too much.” When confronted with something akin to a Gordian knot, I feel an urge not to annihilate the puzzle by putting my sword through it as Alexander the Great did but rather to retire and try to figure out how the knotty phenomenon actually came about. And that is my explanation for undertaking this investigation into the first alchemists. The job needed doing.”1

I absolutely agree with Churton’s assertion that someone had to conduct more thorough research about the origins and alchemy and piece it together for others. So much of what I’ve read about alchemy’s history focuses on Hermeticism, particularly in the 1400s and beyond when ancient texts prompted a revival of the art, which is fascinating, but many books neglect the deeper history, the roots of alchemy.

In laying his foundation, Churton begins by teaching  readers about the oldest surviving texts on alchemy (Stockholm papyrus, Leiden papyrus). While these texts were mundane rather than mystical in nature, focusing on things such as dye recipes, making and whitening pearls, cleansing stones, and creating imitation gold and silver. He also covers Pseudo-Democritus’s Four Books, the oldest texts on alchemy that have been lost to history but were summarized in surviving treatises Physika kai Mystika (Natural and Secret Questions) and Peri asēmou poiēseōs (On the Making of Silver).

These texts situate early alchemy’s origins in Roman Egypt. Churton shares sources that claim Pseudo-Democritus was influenced by Ostanes, a great Egyptian priest. In addition to Ostanes, these early practitioners include Cleopatra, Mariam (a Jewish woman known in alchemical tradition as Mary the Prophetess), and artisan Theosebeia–notably all women. Churton spends time on each woman, detailing pretty much all that is known about them, particularly from the writing of Zosimos of Panopolis.

“Early alchemy has something of a cosmopolitan, if not multinational and above all practical, rather than ideological air about it.”2

Three whole chapters are dedicated to Zosimos, and he continues to be the prominent focus of the rest of the book, because there is more written testimony from him than any other early alchemist. Titled “father of religious alchemy”3, his contributions can hardly be understated. Churton describes how, “Zosimos’s alchemy is a natural divine path to God, in which pious practitioners are called to identity with all elements and transformations, so as to experience harmonious union, or “gold”…”4

Working off of Zosimos’s writing, Churton guides readers through chapters on what the first alchemist actually did, how they did it, and where they did it. And, since I’m sure this sparked your curiosity, it mostly focused on creating dyes and working with metals. There’s pictures of early apparatuses, as well as details of the chemical components of minerals and other substances used to achieve their aims.

Additional chapters include “The Myth of Transmutation”, “Forbidden Knowledge”, and “Legacy” which clarify more about the aims of the early alchemists. Churton shows that the “first alchemists did not operate with the end in mind of fabricating a philosophical stone or philosopher’s stone to transmute base metals into gold”5. This realization throws into question the traditional definition of alchemy, as this is what most assume alchemy is all about based on later alchemical history. Churton notes, “Modern writers then have often simply backdated what they learned about post-Zosimos alchemy and projected it onto Zosimos.”6

Churton often references the work of Shannon Grimes, professor and head of the Department of Religious and Ethical Studies at Meredith College. She has recently published the book Becoming Gold: Zosimos of Panopolis and the Alchemical Arts in Roman Egypt, which would be another great resource for those interested in this subject matter. In a similar vein, readers might also feel more comfortable with the topics covered in this book after delving into some of Churton’s other books, in particular The Lost Pillars of Enoch, The Golden Builders, and The Gnostics.

For those new to reading Churton’s work, you can expect a lot of detail! I find it helps to take notes to process and organize the new information I’m reading, as he is a very erudite writer, who draws upon multiple sources to weave together his assertions but sometimes assumes his readers know more than they actually do, especially if this is your first introduction to the topic. For these reasons, I always get so much out of Churton’s writing because I am left with many avenues of interest to explore, but this can delay me finishing the books due to being sidetracked or feeling like I need additional time to digest what I’ve read before proceeding. The note taking helps me to stay focused on the topic at hand and then go back to what sparked my interest afterwards!

All in all, The First Alchemists is an illuminating read that delves into the “who, what, where, why, when” of early alchemy. Drawn from the original sources and scholarly work about these texts, he brilliantly depicts the origins of the Royal Art, which vary greatly from our modern notion of what alchemy is, its purpose, and its practitioners. I highly recommend this book for those interested in the history of alchemy, especially if they feel called to traditions that utilize alchemical in modern times, such as Freemasons and Rosecrucians. While there’s no doubt secrets to uncover, it’s interesting to see the initial practical value of alchemy, in particular recipes and methods for making dyes, and the evolution through time.

Crystal Grids, by Nicola McIntosh

Crystal Grids: Master the Secrets of Manifestation, by Nicola McIntosh
Rockpool Publishing, 9781922785510, 185 Pages, March 2024

I was recently at a local health and wellness festival, and the most memorable display table there was a woman selling gorgeous crystal grid paintings. The energy of the crystal layouts was palpable; I could feel the different effects of the alignment radiating outward as I took my time gazing at each one. Immediately, I knew this was something I wanted to do for my own home and altar space. Crystal Grids: Master the Secrets of Manifestation by Nicola McIntosh synchronistically was sent to me right after; the Universe quite literally brought it to my doorstep!

“My intention with this book is to give you the necessary information to guide you in making your own grids, strengthening your communication abilities with your clair senses and helping you manifest what you wish to create in your life.”1

McIntosh is a magical writer and oracle deck creator, as well as a Chinese and Western herbalist and practitioner of Celtic shamanism. She has previously published Apothecary Flashcards, Celtic Spirit Oracle, and Mushroom Spirit Oracle. Even with her success, she is very attuned to the readers she serves, sharing her story of budding passion for crystals and the circumstances in which she began creating her own products. I enjoyed this introduction to the book because it made me feel connected to McIntosh, feeling inspired that I too could use the power of the crystals and other energy-changing tools to bring my own dreams to life.

There is a nice foundation laid in this book, with each chapter building upon the next to provide a holistic understanding of how crystal grids work and how to create your own. McIntosh begins by teaching readers about  what she calls Source, “the term I give to the energy that creates all life; that is all life, the all that is, or God if you like to name it thus.”2 She explains how vibration is what gives everything form.

“You can start to imagine that we are walking in a sea of energy. We are in a state of constant flow; nothing is solid, and we are all fluid. If you can push your thinking out further, you can begin to imagine how you would then be able to interact with other energies around you, for they are also the same.”3

McIntosh then moves onto the language of spirit and the ways in which readers can communicate with other realms, specifically focusing on the honing clair sense, listening to intuition, and connecting through meditation as methods that can be utilized. This section is helpful for those looking to enhance their ability to hear the messages of spirit.

Once this underlying belief system is explained, McIntosh moves into explaining what crystal grids are, including their historical significance, and how they work through geometric resonance. Above all McIntosh encourages readers to listen to their intuition when creating their grids, but she does share how she likes to keep it simple, use ritual, and intentionally select colors with energies and colors aligned with the intended outcome of the crystal grid. She describes how crystal grids can be used for healing, health, prosperity, divination, and more.

There’s even an entire chapter on chakras so that readers understand the energy of each chakra. McIntosh details the energy within the body and soul each chakra influences, providing readers with insight into which chakras might be the best for them to focus on for their manifestations. For example, if someone is seeking to feel more confident expressing themselves, creating a crystal grid enhancing the energy of the throat chakra would be beneficial for them. McIntosh includes crystals that correspond with each chakra too.

There’s a general overview of crystals, but the focus is more on connecting with the crystal spirit rather than going by traditional meanings. McIntosh does a quick overview of crystals, most notably describing the different crystal formations and their significance, but those interested in working with crystals will definitely want to seek out supplementary information about the healing properties of various crystals to fine-tune the energy of their crystal grids.

My favorite chapter in the book focuses on the geometric templates based on sacred geometry. McIntosh talks about the power of ley lines and the earth’s grid, as well as geometric patterns such as the flower of life, medicine wheel, fibonacci spiral, and infinity symbol. She also teaches how you can create a grid for your home or room by placing crystals in different corners, which I think is so neat! Another fun thing in this chapter is creating elixirs by infusing water with the crystal grid. McIntosh teaches how to place the crystals and includes plenty of pictures for inspiration!

The final chapters focus on the art of manifestation and setting intentions and how to actually create the grid (preparing the space, cleansing/charing/programming the crystals, activating the grid). This is the real how-to, hands-on section of the book, and McIntosh does a lovely job of providing the readers with all they need to know to begin their process of manifestation with crystal grids.

All in all, Crystal Grids is a wonderful resource for those feeling called to working with crystals in a meaningful way. McIntosh’s process of manifesting perfectly blends intuition, the power of crystals, and the sacred geometry, allowing readers to better communicate their desire with spirit and bring about the changes they wish to see in the physical world. The colorful photographs alongside McIntosh’s gentle and easy-to-understand writing make this book perfect for beginners. I especially recommend it for those who already have an interest in crystals but have yet to take the steps to learn how to commune with the crystal spirits and direct energy through divine alignment. For those who enjoy McIntosh’s crystal grids, consider also checking out her Crystal Grid Oracle!