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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.

Spiritual Cleansing, by Draja Mickaharic

Spiritual Cleansing: A Handbook of Psychic Protection (Weiser Classic Series), by Draja Mickaharic
Weiser Books, 1578637287, 144 pages, February 2022

I’ve been on a deep dive into research on spiritual protection lately, and therefore was thrilled to come across Spiritual Cleansing: A Handbook of Psychic Protection by Draja Mickaharic. Originally published in 1982, this Weiser Classic Services book is just as relevant 40 years later. The added foreword by Lilith Dorsey, author of Orishas, Goddesses, and Voodoo Queens, is an added bonus. I value magical wisdom that stands the test of time. Sometimes it seems like recent and best books are merely repeating the same things based on current readers’ taste and market trends. But this book stood out to me from the get-go, and I knew I wasn’t going to be getting the same old while reading it.

Mickaharic’s experience as a magical practitioner grants him the ability to convey expertise tips and tricks that are both practical and reliable. He’s definitely tried, tested, and witnessed the many outcomes of spellwork gone awry and implemented to success; as a result, he feels like a guide I can trust.

“All of the procedures in this book are simple, safe, and effective, when the directions are followed. They are all natural in their operation, and no special training or capacity is required on the part of the user. All of these cleansings have been tested in my personal practice, as well as in the work of others.”1

Before delving into the many methods of cleansing and protection, Mickaharic provides readers with an understanding of the need for them. He notes the physical and spiritual nature of life on Earth, the latter which often is dismissed in favor of the tangible senses. But we all have felt the lingering sense of a negative energy present after interactions with certain people or being in a specific location.

“The spiritual energy field, like the quality or vibration of people, places, and things, is not detectable through the physical senses. Once we can make a distinction between the physical and the spiritual parts of the human constitution, it becomes easy to understand just how spiritual cleansing works.”2

He further goes on to explain how religious rituals have their own methods of cleansing, but that this book can be used whether one has a religious practice or not. If one does, Mickaharic suggests that the practices in the book do not interfere but rather enhance it. And I might add this book does refer to Bible passages and Psalms as part of some of the recommendations for spiritual cleansing. I have no problem with this, as for over a decade I’ve explored the intersection of Christianity and spellwork, but others who take a more firm stance against Christianity should take note prior to reading. There’s still plenty to gain though, and much of the content is independent of any religious connotation.

The four main types of cleansing focused on in this book are cleansing with baths, water, eggs, and incense, which all have their own detailed chapter. There’s also chapters on the malocchio (evil eye), protection while asleep, quieting one’s mind, and finding a mentor. And all together, this book has become my go-to for spiritual cleansing. Rather than sharing all the potent cleansing practices Mickaharic covers, I will share some of the really interesting things I learned, what stood out to me most, and my favorite parts that I feel distinguish this book from others.

First of all, there is a ton of information on ritual baths! Many times, I see a list of ingredients for cleansing or spellwork bath, but Mickaharic goes into full detail about how to prepare for a ritual bath, history of ritual bathing, and even words of caution. Plus, there’s so many sugged: Psychic Tension Bath, Coffee Hard Work Bath, The Money Cinnamon Bath. And the majority of the baths include household items that one wouldn’t have to go on a goose chase to find.

I learned a lot about properties of different types of water from the chapter “Cleansing with Water”. Mickaharic describes the different energy and usage of sea water,  rain water, waterfalls, spring water, and lake water. For those who regularly use water in their practice, this information would be useful to know what is best for which type of magical working one is doing. Also included are different herbs that can be added to water to achieve a desired effect.

Eggs are something that I’ve used for over a decade to cleanse a new home, but Mickaharic showed me new ways to use eggs for spiritual healing. He suggests ways to use them for physical and emotional healing, ending a relationship, protection while asleep, and cleansing your pets or the sick. I love this method of cleansing because I nearly always have eggs on hand, and they are a quick and easy way to shift energy.

Of all the sections, though, incense cleansing had the most insight into how I could enhance my practice of burning incenses. I had never realized that certain smells attracted specific spirits, nor that some incenses are good for banishing spirits, while others are intended to call them in.

“When we use incense to clean a place, we are calling those forces of the astral universe which regularly act to remove negative influences. We are simply calling them and asking them to work in a particular area. When we burn incense to improve the vibration  of a place, to give the place a more “spiritual” vibration, we call on those forces which naturally act to improve spiritual vibrations. Each incense, or blend, is a sort of “telephone number” which is answered according to the sincerity of our request. If we burn incense with no real purpose, we may find the forces decide we are calling a wrong number–and they will not act in harmony with our desires.”3

Mickaharic gives instructions on how to properly burn incense and offers many suggested blends. He describes cones and sticks and even how to fumigate oneself. I really liked learning about frankincense and myrrh; I had never previously heard about their connection to the astral realm, and it was interesting to learn in light of their significance to infant Christ.

Finally, I was thrilled for a whole section on the malocchio. My Italian family often spoke of it, and my great-grandmother knew the method for removing it at the strike of midnight on a new year. But I have rarely been able to find additional information about how to remove it. Not only does Mickaharic go into detail about the history of the malocchio and how it is transmitted, he also offers a Beer Bath to remove it, along with suggested charms and amulets to keep it at bay.

All in all, Spiritual Cleansing has been a great aid in my spring cleaning this year. When I am seeking to cleanse myself or my home, I’ve been able to find quick suggestions to shift the energy. Plus, the ritual baths are sure to make any water-lover eager to perform some spellwork. There’s so much value in knowing not only how to protect yourself, but cleanse yourself too. Spiritual hygiene is a practical, and honestly essential, craft for all those who perform energy work. But quite frankly, we can all benefit from a good energetic sprucing up!

Healing with Clay, by Ran Knishinsky

Healing with Clay: A Practical Guide to Earth’s Oldest Natural Remedy, by Ran Knishinsky
Healing Arts Press, 9781644114834, 144 pages, April 2022

My dad is a potter, so I grew up with messy hands and covered in clay-filled hugs. When I began to research natural remedies, I realized that clay has many healing properties, which was convenient because of its ready availability. At first, my interest was in using clay for face masks and soothing my skin. But later I learned eating clay had health benefits. I couldn’t find enough reliable information on the Internet, so I shelved my curiosity for the time being. But when I discovered Healing with Clay: A Practical Guide to Earth’s Oldest Natural Remedy by Ran Knishinsky, my intrigue was sparked all over again.

Knishinsky is the perfect guide for those interested in eating clay as a nutritional supplement, as he’s been doing it himself for more than 30 years. His background is in both naturopathic and allopathic medicine, which adds value to the information he shares because it is not one-sided. He even has his own line of edible clay called Detox Dirt for those who are interested in starting to incorporate clay into their own diet. In addition to this book, he has also authored Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine and The Prozac Alternative.

The book starts out with Knishinsky’s own health journey of a ganglion cyst that led him to deciding to try clay as a natural remedy. Then he details the history of eating clay and the reasons why people do it. These reasons include medicinal use, mineral supplementation, religious rites, instinct, detoxification, and as a food delicacy. There’s also a whole chapter on how culturally in some parts of the world it’s the norm to eat dirt during pregnancy, which I found absolutely fascinating.

To ensure readers have a full-scope understanding of clay, Knishinsky writes about the scientific and geological properties, as well as sharing the different types of clay and how the minerals in clay facilitate both adsorption and absorption in the body. He even delves into Graham Cairns-Smith’s idea that life might have begun as clay crystals and the hypothesis of the department of nanoscale science at Cornell University that wet clay might have been the first breeding ground for life.

Knishinsky shares with the reader the classification of active natural components obtained from plant, animal, or earth sources as nutraceuticals, which are not sold as drugs, but as dietary supplements in the United States. As a result, nutraceuticals do not offer the same claims as FDA approved drugs. Nevertheless there are benefits to be derived from them, which other included research studies have shown. For instance, there are quite a few studies related to clay’s ability to protect those who digest it from the harmful effects of Aflatoxin, which is a liver carcinogenic present in a wide variety of foods. 

Aflatoxin is the most dangerous form of mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are fungal poisons that contaminate as much as ¼ of the world’s food supply. Potential sources of mycotoxins are alcoholic beverages, corn, wheat, peanuts, and many more than Knishinsky lists for readers. The Aflatoxins are especially harmful because they damage DNA and have been known to lead to cancer in different animal species. Eating clay helps to reduce and prevent harm from the Aflatoxins through reinforcing the intestinal walls and binding to the toxins.

“Before they have a chance to be adsorbed by the gut, the clay simply captures these toxins by adsorbing them into the space between the crystal structure, rendering them as unabsorbable by the gut.”1

This was so interesting to read about, as I had never heard of mycotoxins before! And thanks to Knishinsky, I also gained a better understanding of the mineral components of clay. Aside from taking supplements or vitamins, a good balance of minerals in our bodies often seems to be overlooked in the pursuit for good health. Knishinsky reminds us:

“Why are minerals so important to the chemical reactions in the human body? The cell is like an electrical battery, with positive and negative charges. When the energy of the battery begins to weaken the cell becomes sick and weak. However, if the dying cell is charged by an electrical current it will become living once again. Minerals themselves hold positive and electrical charges. The exchange of these charges accounts for the mineral’s action.”2

I learned clay contains minerals such as calcium, chlorine, iodine, iron, magnesium, zinc and more. Knishinsky notes clay can also contain harmful minerals though, such as arsenic or cadmium, which is why it’s important to know where the clay one is consuming comes from. His recommendation is montmorillonite clay. It is considered the most suitable for eating because the minerals are very small particles and when combined with water adsorptive and absorptive properties of the clay are enhanced.

My favorite chapter was on the religious significance of clay, as I had forgotten that many religious texts claim humanity arose from clay. Reading about these things helped me to step out of the dominant narrative that clay is dirty and sense of superiority that comes from being couth and clean. Knishinsky’s words really reignited me with an instinctive, wild part of myself that felt aligned with the information he was sharing about the benefits of eating clay.

I did end up ordering montmorillonite clay, as it is Knishinsky’s recommended type of clay to use for this purpose. I haven’t tried it yet, but I am eager to see the results. If you too are feeling called to explore the health benefits of clay, I would definitely check out Healing with Clay. Knishinsky presents the information clearly and with full scientific backing. I look forward to connecting with Earth’s oldest remedy in a spiritual way too, as I think healing our bodies with nature is how things are meant to be.

Mysteries of the Werewolf, by Claude Lecouteux

Mysteries of the Werewolf: Shapeshifting, Magic, and Protection, by Claude Lecouteux
Inner Traditions, 1644110784, 224 pages, August 2021

Ahhh-ohhhh, werewolves! Legends of werewolves are as popular as ever, but did you ever wonder about the origins of these stories? In Mysteries of the Werewolf: Shapeshifting Magic & Protection, Claude Lecouteux delves into folklore, legends, and historical accounts from all over the world, showcasing how the tale of the werewolf evolved through time.

Lecouteux’s impressive background certainly influences the way he wrote this book. As a professor emeritus of medieval literature and civilization at the Sorbonne, it’s evident that he is dedicated to the scholarship of his work. Mysteries of the Werewolf is incredibly well sourced, and many of the translations in the book were done by Lecouteux himself. He has applied the same thoroughness to detail in his previously published works The Book of Grimoires, Dictionary of Ancient Magic Words and Spells, and The Tradition of Household Spirits.

What is very unique about this book is the way Lecouteux creates a cohesive cultural understanding of the werewolf through comparing texts side by side. While some books on werewolves try to play up werewolves as a form of cryptid, Lecouteux uses historical records to piece together a whole picture of this possible mythological, possibly real being. He states:

“The texts I’ve collected for this anthology are intended to document the history of the werewolf through the ages and include some excursions far from the European domain when there was a good reason to do so.”1

Hence, we have documentation from around the globe dating back to the 10th century of different aspects of lycanthropy. Topics include stories on becoming a werewolf, pacts with the devil and evil spells as cause, werewolves’ clothing and accessories, healing and free werewolves, testimonials and more!

A sixteenth century French story Lecouteux called “How the Werewolf Lost an Eye”:

“A young noblewoman of the land of Livonia was arguing with one of her servants about whether it was possible for a man to change into the shape of a wolf, and as she made it seem dubious, this servant, so that he could provide her more ample proof, asked her permission to turn himself into a wolf. She granted him such permission, and he retreated to a secret room in the house, which he left shortly afterward in the form of a wolf. After this a pack of dogs caught his scent and set off in pursuit of him, chasing him into a nearby wood where they ripped out one of his eyes. The next day when he regained his human shape he returned to the house missing an eye.”2

This is just one example of the many, many tales in the book (I would estimate at least one hundred!). It was certainly enjoyable and entertaining reading the stories; some are heartbreaking, others vicious, while some are infused with a bit of comedy. Some feature witches and wizards, while others are just common people who are plagued with the curse of the werewolf.

It’s a thrill to feel connected to people of centuries past through the common thread of werewolves. I couldn’t help but wonder what it might have been like to tell some of these tales prior to electricity, when animals and humans were in much closer contact.

To see the range of the stories, from all over the world, I can’t help but start to think about the commonality of this man turn beast archetype. And at some point, I did start wondering if there was any merit to these stories, given they have persisted for such a long span of time cross-culturally!

“Elsewhere, we see a warrior who changed into a bear lending his support to men battling an enemy. In Africa, people believe in jackal-men, hyena-men, and leopard-men; the Inuits believe in caribou-men, and the people of the Far East believe in tiger-men. Every land and every civilization has had its own distinctive view of lycanthropy.”3

I wonder what it is about the human turn beast that leaves such a lasting impression on our psyche. Perhaps approaching the book with this question in mind will yield some answers, as I read it mostly for the enjoyment of the stories the first time. Though, I will note that Lecouteux’s introduction is filled with background information and history of the werewolf, so this book is much more than just a fun-filled, entertaining read.

Any werewolf lover is sure to enjoy Mysteries of the Werewolf, but even those with a general interest in folklore would find it worth the read. These stories help weave a picture of how the tales of the werewolf have evolved over time, expanding the reader’s knowledge of lycanthropy folklore. Lecouteux has done a phenomenal job gathering all the stories in one collection for readers to compare and contrast how tales of the werewolf, and perhaps one day, may even add their own!

Blackthorn’s Protection Magic, by Amy Blackthorn

Blackthorn’s Protection Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Mental & Physical Self-Defense, by Amy Blackthorn
Weiser Books, 1578637619, 208 pages, March 2022

My spirit journey took an unexpected twist recently. After spending a year delving into the realm of mermaids, I suddenly felt very called to explore the world of superheroes, self-defense, and protection magic. For the first time ever, I watched all the Marvel movies, and I became inspired to increase my physical strength and psychic defenses. This is what led me to reading Blackthorn’s Protection Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Mental & Physical Self-Defense by Amy Blackthorn. It has been a game-changer, awakening so many new ideas with practical tips I can immediately incorporate into my practice.

I had heard of Blackthorn because of her best-selling books Botanical Magic, Sacred Smoke, and Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews. But I was very surprised to discover Blackthorn also has a background in security. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, is a blackbelt martial artist, and shoots pistols competitively in addition to teaching women self-defense. How freaking badass can only possibly be? I would have never guessed! Her experience in both magic and security makes for one all encompassing, hell-of-a read.

The book is divided into four parts and covers mind, body, and spiritual protection. Then the last part is the additional information section that shares information about timing work according to the day of the week/moon phase, color correspondences, and plants to use for different types of spellwork. Plus, Blackthorn provides a fantastic introduction into the topic of protection magic, writing about ethics, boundaries, and her own magical point of view. Her very straightforward approach made me more comfortable with the idea of using protective magic, and I especially liked how she clearly defined magic, curses, hexes, and jinxes for readers. There’s even a curse assessment for readers – how cool is that?

This book is the perfect blend of practical advice for self-defense and instruction on how to perform protection magic. What really stands out about Blackthorn’s writing is her conversational tone. She uses anecdotes to illuminate the content, such as bravely sharing her story of dealing with a stalker, and also ensures readers are taking the utmost precaution with their supplies. For instance, she continually reminds readers essential oils should never be used on infants and notes when certain herbs or essential oils are not appropriate to use. It feels like Blackthorn has your back as you read, which is such a reassuring feeling.

Blackthorn even wants to protect us from getting scammed! I really enjoyed the section of the book where Blackthorn shares how to determine the quality of essential oils and crystals. She goes into depth about how one can determine if they have a diluted essential oil or if it’s using low-quality ingredients. Then she discusses how to know if a crystal is legit, which I’ve always struggled to figure out. I will absolutely now be testing the quality of my essential oils and more discerning in my crystal selection.

I also now want a tactical pen to carry around with me. And I convinced my husband we should practice Blackthorn’s advice on how to get out of being tied up. I also looked into going to a shooting range because for the first time ever I saw the value in being able to defend myself. And all of this is so out of my typical lifestyle in so many ways, but it’s exactly what my hippie-heart needed to read to remember we can be loving and badass at the same time.

Another great thing about the book is that Blackthorn offers so many suggestions of how to incorporate protection magic into your practice that every reader is bound to find something that works for them. From energy practices (breathing, grounding, shielding) to outdoor gardening, the options offered seem limitless. And Blackthorn is thorough! The section on crystals did a great job of explaining their properties and it came in handy later when she talked about creating a crystal grid for protection. Her information on gardening, both indoor and outdoor, for home protection was wisdom I’ve never read elsewhere. There’s incense recipes, tarot spells, mirror boxes, and so much more.

The energy practice that I’ve been using most (and with great success) is one where she discusses visualizing oneself in an eggshell. Visualization practices usually never stick for me, but the way Blackthorn teaches it, including customizations one can make to their eggshell, has really stuck for me. I feel so much less anxious being around a lot of people now and haven’t felt “pulls” on my energy since I’ve started practicing this energy technique.

The only thing missing that I wish was included in the book is information about protecting oneself online, such as insights on tech-defense and thoughts on how to protect one’s energy in the digital world. Society is becoming more reliant on technology, most people use the internet daily, but with the amount of animosity, hate, and confusion that spreads like rapid fire nowadays, it can be tough to know how to protect one’s energy online.

I have developed my own practices, and based on the wealth of information given by Blackthorn, readers could definitely piece together a spell for online protection. But I just value Blackthorn’s insights so much that I wish I could learn her thoughts on digital safety and protection too. However, this in NO WAY detracts from the immense amount of information provided in the book for day to day protection.

All in all, Blackthorn’s Protection Magic is the best book I’ve ever read on the topic. Blackthorn gives her readers the low-down we all need to stay safe, strengthened, and shielded from harm. Her unique blend of practical and magical wisdom make for a comprehensive how-to guide when it comes to protecting oneself on all levels: mind, body, and spirit. I feel strong after reading this book – and more street smart. I highly recommend this one for your collection!

Gaia Alchemy, by Stephan Harding

Gaia Alchemy: The Reuniting of Science, Psyche, and Soul, by Stephan Harding
Bear & Company, 1591434254, 320 pages, January 2022

The separation of mind and body that began during the scientific revolution has caused a rippling split between humanity and nature, which has been immensely detrimental to the natural interconnected systems on Earth. While the integration is slowly starting to happen in academic settings (I do hold a Master of Social Science in Environmental Humanities and Ecopsychology from Viridis Graduate Institute), it’s clear the current scientific paradigm needs greater supplementation to fully understand the interconnectedness of Earth. This arduous task of reconnection is what Stephan Harding sets out to in Gaia Alchemy: The Reuniting of Science, Psyche, and Soul.

Harding describes to readers how a dream in which he meets Old Woman, is the anima munda, or Gaia, who encouraged him to write this book. Meeting this archetypal imagery affirmed his path of writing a book on what he has termed “Gaia Alchemy”. Gaia Alchemy blends depth psychology, alchemy, and Gaia theory, creating a new paradigm aimed at bringing the soul back to science and culture.

“Gaia theory is a scientific understanding of the Earth as a great plantery organism, as a self-regulating complex system; alchemy is the ancient art of personal transformation and nature connection. My quest has been to discover whether we can experience a Gaia that is more vibrant, full of meaning, and alive by alchemizing science, thereby re-ensouling science and our culture and thus freeing both from their analytical dryness.”1

Harding sets off to take the readers through his own personal journey of developing this Gaia Alchemy worldview through psychological, historical, and scientific revelations, along with a good bit of creative imagination. And his method of engaging readers goes beyond just sharing interesting insight, there’s practices to do and exercises to try.

At the start of the book, Harding invites the reader to find their Gaia Place. He describes this as “a place where you can relax and connect deeply to nature, where your heart feels glad, where you’ll make important discoveries, both inner and outer.”2

I liked this concept because I’ve done something similar in the past, when I was training to be a nature-based coach, where I had my own “sit spot” to connect with nature everyday. I feel like developing this special place is key to facilitating one’s awareness of the natural world.

Harding provides plenty of ways to heighten one’s connection to their Gaia place throughout the book. For instance, there’s a really neat meditation to connect with ecological communities of the past, taking one through the evolution from small plants to mammals, through dinosaurs and meteorites, drawing on the alchemical power of calcification. From there, one is invited to experience the alchemical process of dissolution in their Gaia place. The mixture of ecology with alchemy in the meditations is very unique. There’s a special connection that develops between one and their Gaia Place as they move through these inner explorations.

Another really unique aspect of this book is that it’s filled with conversations with Jeffy Kiehl, a climate scientist and licensed Jungian analyst, which provides a multidimensional approach to the topic. Kiehl has written on related topics in his book Facing Climate Change: An Integrated Path to the Future. ​​Harding has done a wonderful job of including Kiehl’s perspective to give readers insight into the broad application of Gaia Alchemy through the thought-provoking dialogue. 

While his conversations with Kiehl did actually happen, Gaia Alchemy also features some imaginary conversations too written by Harding as he works to change the narrative of what happened in the split between science and alchemy, mind and body, to envision an alternative outcome. In the chapter “Descartes Meets Alchemy”, Descartes first has a conversation with an alchemist and then famed depth psychologist Marie-Louise von Franz. I feel like this creative revision of Descartes’ perspective really stuck with me as a reader, helping to shift my own view, similar to how a fictional story can ignite change.

I will note that Gaia Alchemy might be a lot for someone unfamiliar with alchemy or depth psychology to take on, but Harding fills the pages with charts, diagrams, and photographs to illuminate the content. As unfamiliar as these concepts may seem, especially to those steeped in a materialistic Western scientific culture, Harding’s work is rich with potential for re-visioning our future. Society needs to change in order to survive, and there’s no better place to start than within. The unification of rationality and intuition, science and soul, is the only way forward.

Alchemy is the perfect access point to the reunion of our material and spiritual world. Here’s an example of Harding’s perceptive writing on the alchemical process of conjunction:

“We experience conjunction in our psychological life when our solar sensing and rationality and our lunar feeling and intuition function well together, bringing a balanced outlook in which we see how causality and synchronicity are at work in the world at large, reinforcing our embeddedness within their immense yet deeply intimate networks of learning and meaning.

Alchemically, conjunction happens between Sol and Luna. It occurs when Sol – the divine transcendental source – fully conjoins with our existence as embodied beings here on Earth (Luna). We experience great clarity, purpose, and joy in those blessed moments when conjunction truly comes upon us, when its deepest meaning actualizes itself in us and we feel a blessed connection with Gaia.”3

This book was a real thrill to read as an ecopsychologist because it gives me hope there’s others out there working towards the integration of holistic sciences, deep ecology, and depth psychology. Harding himself lives in England, where he founded Schumacher College, which offers ecology-centered masters programs. At Schumacher College, Harding serves as Deep Ecology Research Fellow and senior lecturer on holistic science.

I can’t recommend Gaia Alchemy highly enough. For those interested in both the spiritual and natural world, this is an insightful guide to wholeness. Harding is doing and teaching what I believe is the most important work of our time, healing our connection with nature, promoting holistic science, and re-establishing our psychological ties with Gaia. Gaia Alchemy is a roadmap for an uncertain future and is well worth the read.

The Sacred Sisterhood Tarot, by Ashawnee DuBarry and Coni Curi

The Sacred Sisterhood Tarot: Deck and Guidebook for Fierce Women, by Ashawnee DuBarry with illustrations by Coni Curi
Red Wheel, 1590035259, 80 pages, 78 cards, October 2021

Despite tarot reading becoming a booming trend in recent years, few readers seem to be discussing the esoteric foundation of the common Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck. Essentially, the RWS deck is steeped in tradition of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which drew from the Qabalah, astrology, numerology, Christian mysticism, Hermeticism, the religion of Ancient Egypt, Freemasonry, Alchemy, Theosophy, Enochian magic, and Renaissance grimoires. Talk about overload!

As a seasoned tarot reader and energy worker, I’ve been on a mission to find tarot decks with a different energy for my readings. The Sacred Sisterhood Tarot: Deck and Guidebook for Fierce Women by Ashawnee DuBarry has been so immensely rewarding to discover. A deck that isn’t steeped in occult traditions that I don’t practice NOR a patriarchal framework? Yes yes yes! This is what The Scared Sister Tarot offers.The energy feels so deeply resonant with my spirit, and the good vibes of this deck have been shining through in all my readings so far.

The box for this deck is hefty, and I love it. Looking at the image on the box makes me feel ready to take on the world. I love that there’s some weight to the deck. Yet, the cards themselves are the perfect fit for one’s hands. Measurements aren’t really my thing, but I would say they’re a little taller than normal play cards yet a bit more narrow in width. Basically, they fit in my hands perfectly and make it really easy to shuffle.

Opening the box is a color-pop of oranges, yellow, red, and light brown tones that make the cards feel infused with solar energy but also grounded. The back of the cards have lovely, luscious pomegranates on them, which is the perfect representation of Divine Feminine energy, as they are known for being a symbol of fertility and abundance.

Illustrator Coni Curi has done a marvelous job featuring a multitude of women in this deck. As you go through the cards, it becomes evident there’s one “no size fits all” model for women. This concept is bolstered by the intent of the deck to tap into the different facets of Divine Feminine wisdom, through both the major arcana and different suits of the minor arcana.

“The Sacred Sisterhood deck was created with inclusivity in mind, from trans folk to cis-gender- all are welcome, unlike the original tarot, which centered its images and descriptions around hte old gender roles. True sisterhood is all about coming together in a sacred space to support one another, no matter how  you identify.”1

The representation in the deck is remarkable. From multiracial relationships between women to women with disabilities, vast identities and body types are portrayed. And this diversity  imbues the deck with a feeling of empowering solidarity, as though I want to see “I see you! I know we’re all out here doing our best, learning what it means to embody this Divine Feminine feeling in our life.”  It’s beautiful because it feels so REAL. This is what womanhood looks like, and it comes in so many shapes, sizes, shades, and orientations, which is something worth celebrating.

While there is plenty of symbolism for each card, Curi didn’t stick to the traditional tarot imagery. I enjoy the modern take on the cards’ meaning and alternative representation to the traditional RWS tarot. One of my favorites is the Judgment card that has a winged angel playing a saxophone as two women dance beneath her. 

There’s a simplicity to the cards too. Each card has a solid-color background that emphasizes the main image on the card. This makes it so the reader isn’t lost in detail and can easily connect with the image that is popping out to represent the card.

Additionally, the emotion of the women featured on the cards is also something that makes this deck unique. Curi has clearly conveyed sadness, discontentment, happiness, and sovereignty. The women of the deck help to connect with the many emotions of life, tapping the reader into their own feelings. Beginner, intermediate, and expert readers all will be able to find meaning and resonance with the imagery of the deck.

Though, I will mention the one thing that threw me off a little at first: the card names are written in French! For instance, The World is called Le Monde and the Ace of Pentacles is called As De Deniers. Luckily, from the imagery and general knowledge of romance languages, I’ve been able to figure out what each card is, but it definitely was a stumbling block that  made initial reading not feel as intuitive as it might with a deck in English. Now that I’ve been reading with this deck though, I feel pretty cool for knowing the French name for these cards though!

Plus, the guidebook is a huge help for understanding the card’s meaning. I love it so much!! I think it’s one of the best guidebooks I’ve ever seen. It’s large, easy to read, and very colorful. DuBarry offers a complete guide to working with the deck, including tips for getting to know the deck, shuffling, and doing readings. What I liked most though is the suggestions for how to use the deck aside from just doing readings, which included things such as candle magic and shadow work. There’s also plenty of spreads to use with each card position thoroughly detailed.

The cards’ messages are all very meaningful. DeBarry clearly conveys each card’s essence through their interpretation. For every card there are keywords and meanings for the card upright and reversed, plus the best thing about this guidebook, which is the answer for yes/no questions.

HALLELUJAH! This yes or no meaning guide has been so incredibly useful. You often hear the advice to shy away from yes/no tarot questions, but so often I just want some quick insight about if I should do something or not, and this guidebook is perfect for those questions!! I so very much appreciate this being shared.

Moving through each definition, DeBarry strips away traditional meanings of each card, so that readers can see the card’s energy through the lens of the Divine Feminine. I especially loved the card and message for The Hanged Woman, traditionally The Hanged Man, which reads:

“Take some time out, as this will give you the space you need to pause for a moment and analyze what may need to be released for the sake of growth. The Hanged Women can also represent a person who looks at life in her own way, not allowing herself to be influenced by the actions or opinions of other people.”2

I’ve been reading tarot for over a deck, but this was the first time I identified personally with the card. Why had I never thought to view it as The Hanged Women? It’s like this simple shift of making it so I felt seen within the card completely changed the way I identified with it.

The Sacred Sisterhood Tarot has become my go-to for both quick questions and more reflective readings. Reaching out for the deck has started to feel like calling up my bestie to talk about life. There’s a gentleness to the deck, though it has consistently given me the honest advice I needed to hear in the moment. I trust it because I feel it has my best intentions at heart.

Plus, reading or meditating with this deck taps me into an empowered sisterhood solidarity, and I love envisioning other women also using it, pooling our collective Divine Feminine wisdom for healing, divination, and spiritual growth.  I highly recommend this deck for beginners, as it is perfect for getting to know the cards (with maybe the exception of the French! Lol), as well as intermediate to expert readers that are looking for a new way to explore the energy of tarot.

The Guardian Angel Oracle Deck, by Deia Circcarelli

The Guardian Angel Oracle Deck, by Delia Ciccarelli
CICO Books, 180065085X, 160 pages, 72 cards, January 2022

You’ve most likely heard of people having a guardian angel. Perhaps you’ve even prayed to your guardian angel or felt their protection, love, and guidance. But did you know that you can learn more about your guardian angel based on your birthday?

The Guardian Angel Oracle Deck by Delia Ciccarelli features the 72 angels of the Kabbalah, also referred to as the 72 names of God. Ciccarelli explains that there is a guardian angel for each day of the year and on the day we are born, certain angelic qualities are given to us through this guardian angel. Understanding the gifts of our angel reveals special qualities about ourselves and the purpose of our life structure.

“The guardian angel in Kabbalah is also referred to as “the Angel of the Incarnation,” and it tells us what we have come to manifest in ife and reveals our purpose. Knowing our angels helps us to understand how we work on an energetic level and what we need to change within us to transcend to a higher state of being.”1

As soon as I took the cards out of the box, which is nice and hefty for storing them safely, I was overcome with a feeling of calmness. This tranquility made me feel deeply at ease, initiating a moment of inner peace. I hadn’t realized how scattered and discontent I had been feeling until I was washed in this gentle, healing energy.

Each card is absolutely beautiful. In the guidebook, Ciccarelli makes note that angels are high vibrational energy and not the well-known imagery of a being with wings. Therefore all the images feature serene, elegant images of women dressed in flowing robes. It was comforting to see the feminine aspect of angels. There were some I thought might be male angels, but even if so, there is a very womanly feel to all the images in the deck.

Swirling energy and color give a sense of motion to this deck. The energy of the cards is not static; it certainly feels as though it’s flowing through the reader, but in the most gentle way possible. Holding the cards, or even just gazing at them, activates subtle healing and loving energy within me. Instantly, I feel safe and surrounded by a divine presence.

Ciccarelli shares different ways to connect with the angel of the deck in the guidebook. She suggests invoking the angels, meditating with the angels, and doing oracle readings with the cards. There are four spreads shared for readings, indicating what each card placement means when arranging the cards.

However, there is no divinatory meaning for each card like in most oracle decks. Rather, the reader has to piece together an intuitive understanding of the reading based on the attributes and qualities of the angel. I think it’s easiest to do just a one or two card pull, rather than the more complex spreads. I’ve found them to be especially useful for meditation and journaling.

The guidebook is a hard-covered small book. For all 72 angel oracle cards, there is an epithet, dates of their guardianship, name pronunciation, zodiac sign association, angelic choir level, and their associations and qualities. There’s also a picture of each card, making it nice to browse and learn more about the angels even without using the deck.

Immediately, I went to the guardian angel of my birthday: Manakel. I was very surprised and pleased to see that the listed qualities are some of traits I’ve always most loved about myself, including lasting friendships and finding work quickly. I’ve never hesitated to quit a job because I instantly get a new one! And I always cultivate meaningful, lasting friendships that last years, even decades. Knowing these angelic traits and aspects of my birthday make me appreciate these qualities in a new way.

Another one that I really felt connected to was dreams because I’ve always found meaningful symbolism in my dreams and even considered becoming a professional dreamtender. Now, knowing the qualitiesI feel like I know what aspects of my life to cultivate and grow because they resonate with my guardian angel Manakel. The deck is also very useful for learning the Hebrew names of the angels, as well as the different levels of the angelic hierarchy.

I’ve learned so much about each one through reading the associations, and I’ve enjoyed looking up friends’ and family’s birthday cards to see if they reflect traits about them – and they do! This has helped me when giving advice to people too; I could help them to see these attributes they possess, uplifting their perspective and attuning them to their inner gifts.

All in all, The Guardian Angel Oracle Deck is immensely illuminating. The beauty of the angels shines through each card, alleviating all negative feelings and bringing tranquility and peace to any situation. Connecting with your guardian angel is truly a life-changing experience. This meaningful deck will teach you more about your life path and purpose. It’s an incredible access point to connecting with the angelic realm at any time.

The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox

The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox
Graydon House, 1525833014, 368 pages, October 2018

My husband picked up The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox for me at the library because he knows how much I love my witch lit books (yes, what a gem!). What I was not expecting when I started reading was a marvelous GHOST story. As if the tantalizing antique drama coupled with romance is enough to draw one’s attention, there’s more; it’s filled with haunts and frights. Hester Fox has blended genres in this book, adding the perfect amount of spookiness to make it an eerie, yet delightful historical fiction read.

The Montrose family has just relocated from Boston to New Oldbury because scandal caused their reputation in society to be tarnished. While the town and their estate seem rather sleepy and boring, more is lurking beneath the surface than they realize. Though it does take quite a bit of time to uncover the secrets of the energies in play.

Sisters Catherine, Lydia, and Emeline are doing their best to adapt to life in their new town. Catherine, the eldest, desperately misses her life in Boston and is keen on finding a husband. Meanwhile, Emeline, the youngest, is focused on seeking mermaids in the nearby pond. In the middle, Lydia does her best to balance her relationship with both sisters.

Lydia and Emeline’s connection runs deep; it’s as though they are intimately connected in mind and soul. Whereas Lydia and Catherine’s relationship has always felt a bit tenuous and strained by competition and jealousies. Catherine is very confident, flirtatious, and self-centered, while quiet Lydia prefers a good book and little attention. When the dashing Mr. Barrett, their father’s new business partner, comes into the picture, both girls have their feelings stirred.

However, Catherine turns her attention towards Mr. Barrett’s friend, Mr. Pierce, leaving the romance between Mr. Barrett and Lydia to develop quietly, slowly. But that’s not the only thing blossoming in Lydia’s life; she’s being haunted by ghosts in her new home. There’s one who paces outside the window, another that wails throughout the night. Warnings from an ancestor beyond the veil tell her to be cautious, danger is afoot.

When tragedy strikes the Montrose family, Lydia’s life is turned upside. The hauntings start happening more frequently, and there is no one for Lydia to confide in about what she’s experienced. Meanwhile, her family is falling apart: her mother is ill and Catherine is keeping a secret that could utterly destroy everyone’s livelihood. Reality and the unknown are pushing Lydia to wit’s end.

At least she has Mr. Barrett to look after her. But as if all of the family demands, secrets, and hauntings aren’t plentiful enough to keep Lydia on her toes, her ex-fiancé Cyrus is desperately trying to marry her to save his family’s fortune. Willing to get what he wants at any cost, Cyrus threatens to destroy everything Lydia cares for by revealing Catherine’s secret – and one of her own – if she doesn’t agree to be his wife.

Oh yes, Lydia is also having a come-to moment about her own power. Recalling an incident where she harmed a young boy that had ruthlessly killed her pet bunny, Lydia must reckon with her own power she always had tried to deny. She’s strong, but has no one to guide her in understanding who she truly is or how to control the force within.

If it sounds like there’s a lot going on, it’s true! The Montrose family is filled with hidden secrets and the estate is filled with ghostly inhabitants. But what I love about the book is how Fox keeps a very tight storyline. Everyone is in the midst of their own crisis, but the interplay between the characters is brilliant. The book is never confusing or hard to follow, and the build-up makes it a real page turner.

Fox is truly gifted in the way she’s able to transport readers back in time. I felt immersed in the time period of 1820, from the decorum to the speech of the characters. The chillingly haunted aspects were very believable. This isn’t a far-fetched ghost story; it’s almost plausible for those who believe.

Whereas many stories about witches focus on magic as the theme, this was not the case for The Witch of Willow Hall. Though, towards the very end, Lydia realizes her talent with herbs, for the most part her power just keeps attracting ghosts hoping to communicate. I feel like this aspect of witchcraft, the openness to the spiritual realm, is often overlooked, and therefore I was glad that Fox focused on it. It also made for a scarier story than most witch-lit books.

There were little mysteries along the way to discover too, such as what the scandal was that made the Montrose family flee Boston and who the ghosts haunting the Willow Hall estate are. All the while, readers are taken on the journey of a heartfelt love story between Mr. Barrett and Lydia – don’t worry this is not a spoiler. It’s pretty obvious from the get-go, even though they have their twists and turns.

One very shocking event happens mid-story that completely changes the pace of things. I definitely shed some tears, as the sorrow was immense and Fox had done a fantastic job of building emotional connection with the characters. My heart broke right along with the Montrose family.

So there you have it: tragedy, love, mystery, witchcraft, and redemption. Sounds like the ideal blend for a book, right? I think so! The Witch of Willow Hall will definitely be high on my recommendation list. And I was excited to realize that Fox has written three more books since this one was published. I just requested The Widow of Pale Harbor and The Orphan of Cemetery Hill. Then in February, Fox’s next book is being released: A Lullaby for Witches. I’m looking forward to reading that too!

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary, by Tamra Lucid

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary: My Seven Years in Occult Los Angeles with Manly Palmer Hall, by Tamra Lucid
Inner Traditions, 9781644113752, 160 pages, December 2021

I have quite the collection of Manly P. Hall books, which I have amassed because I live about two hours outside of LA and can score incredible finds at used book stores. From The Secret Teaching of All Ages to Man: Grand Symbols of the Mysteries, Hall’s books are what I am most proud to display on my bookshelf.

While recently I’ve been reading Hall’s The Secret Destiny of America to better understand the USA’s Pluto return this year, I will admit the aforementioned books haven’t been delved too far into yet. Most of the time, I’m intimidated by the sheer amount of history, knowledge, and occult wisdom stored in the books and feel like they’re not relics rather than learning manuals. I refer to them in dribs and drabs, taking what I need and then quickly shutting it again, almost afraid to unleash the power.

However, reading Making the Ordinary Extraordinary: My Seven Years in Occult Los Angeles with Manly Palmer Hall by Tamra Lucid has completely changed my perception of Hall – in a very good way! Lucid has painted a new picture of Hall for me, granting unique access into his life that reveals so much about his final years.

I love reading fiction books about people in history that I admire. Learning about their personality, daily life, and close association always puts their achievements in perspective for me. It’s easy to deify those we admire, but remembering they are an ordinary person helps to better understand their motivation behind their success.

Lucid and her boyfriend Ronnie, a troubled yet insightful man determined to make some changes in life, discovered The Secret Teaching of All Ages in the early 1980s. The content was life-changing, and they were surprised to find out the author, Hall, was not only still alive but gave talks regularly every Sunday morning. For over 50 years, every Sunday at 11am, Hall would give a lecture at his Philosophical Research Society (PRS) headquarters on various topics. Curious about the content of the book, Lucid and Ronnie decided to attend one.

Ronnie experienced a life-changing moment where it felt as though Hall was speaking directly to him, which many people in Hall’s life claim he had an uncanny way of doing. Following the lecture, Ronnie was eager to make a contribution to PRS, so he and Lucid decided to volunteer.

Ronnie wasn’t sure what he could contribute and was plagued by self doubt. Therefore, when Hall picked Ronnie to edit the bibliography of his alchemical books, he was honored yet doubtful he could fulfill the role. In fact, he told Hall no at first, but Hall insisted. And just like that, Lucid and Ronnie became a part of Hall’s inner circle, ushering in a whole host of characters in their lives.

There were tons of regulars at PRS; each there for their own reasons and the atmosphere was very open to ideas, research, and general philosophical questioning of the Universe. People from all walks of life from gurus to musicians gathered around the hall, making PRS an eclectic, thriving community.

Lucid describes Edith, a hip old woman that taught the couple astrology,  musicians Arthur and Lynn who called their home “New Temple of Freedom”1, Mr. Louis, who’d visit their house and go silently meditate in the corner, and many more! Reading about the variety of people, each on their own spiritual quest, coming together through the PRS community made me see how a sense of belonging can help one to flourish.

And this question of, “What brought you here?” is something that Lucid explores throughout the book for everyone she writes about. This makes the book interesting that she’s not merely just describing people, places, and events; she’s painting a picture of this time period, capturing the atmosphere and highlighting the deeper motivations and personal journey of everyone she writes about.

“We asked Steven what brought him to PRS. A dream. Dreams had been guiding him on an epic journey to gather information from all around the world about alternative and unusual methods of healing involving color, electricity, herbs, elixirs, the recipes of medieval sages like Paracelsus, and the advice of psychics like Edgar Cayce.”2

Meanwhile, Lucid and Ronnie are on their own spiritual journey. For instance, they begin visiting the Seer of the Sunbelt, Reverend Edward A. Monroe, “who would be answering questions about earth change.”3 through his Scottish spirit guide Jock. Another time, Ronnie was having trouble overcoming an illness, so Hall took him to Dr. Sabia to have a session with The Electro Stimulating Machine.

If you try to Google these things, no information comes up. And this is why Making the Ordinary Extraordinary is such a value book for one’s occult collection. There’s little to no records of these things that were happening. And reading about them opens so many doors of perception, as well as topics of research to further inquire about. When you consider this was all happening pre-Internet, you begin to see how unique of a scene this must have been. Reading Lucid’s story helps me to understand what occult Los Angeles was like in the 1980s, and oh how I wish I had been there!

In time, Ronnie began rising in rank at PRS, even delivering his own lectures on Sundays. There’s a really, kind of crazy story too at how Lucid and Ronnie wound up married because of the Halls, with Manly P. Hall as the officiant! Quite abruptly though, Hall subtly forced Lucid and Ronnie out of the PRS community. Things were changing, and Hall knew it.

What ended up happening to the community PRS, splintering and fracturing, was a heartbreaking story. For some reason, even with the great admiration and reverence I have for Manly P. Hall, I had never heard about the sketchy circumstances of his death. Lucid’s experience of leaving PRS and even warning Hall about the people he was surrounding himself with absolutely cast his death in a new light for me.

Hall did at least guide Lucid and Ronnie to this next endeavor: music. Their band Lucid Nation rocks. I totally went and listened to their music after I finished the book. Plus, I was inspired to check out all of Lucid’s other work including writing for Newtopia Magazine and documentaries Exile Nation: The Plastic People, End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock, and Viva Cuba Libre: Rap is War. Totally, totally amazing stuff!

But there’s just one more person I have to write about, which I saved for last intentionally because she’s been all I’ve wanted to talk about: Marie Bauer Hall. Lucid delves into Marie’s fascinating theory that Sir Francis Bacon (and his contemporaries) was Shakespeare, detailing how she went to the Burton Church in Virginia to try to dig up his tomb. Marie’s cosmology also involved the Space Mother.

Lucid describes how “In her magnum opus, Inquiry Into the Nature of Space and of Life in Space, Marie expressed optimism that it would be the mother of humanity whose conscience and consciousness would first awaken.”4 I’ve gotten so into researching more about Marie that I even bought God as Mother by Victoria Jennings, who organized and shares Marie’s work in the book. I really hope that more occult historians focus on Marie, from her life as Manly’s wife for decades to her own cosmologies – there is so much to uncover! A real treat is that Lucid includes the recipe for Marie’s zucchini pancakes at the end of the book!

All in all, Making the Ordinary Extraordinary is a must-read for anyone interested in occult history. Manly P. Hall is one of the most well-known modern occultists of our times, and Lucid’s up close and personal stories of working for Hall and being immersed in the PRS is fascinating insider information. Lucid does a wonderful job of sharing her personal experience with objectivity and genuine insight and reflection about the past. While it focuses on time-passed, it opened so many new doors for me to explore going forward; occult Los Angeles lives on through Lucid and Making the Ordinary Extraordinary.

Payback’s a Witch, by Lana Harper

Payback’s a Witch (The Witches of Thistle Grove), by Lana Harper
Berkley, 0593336062, 352 pages, October 2021

New year, same me reading witch lit 🙂 And my latest book, which I discovered when cleaning out my garage – a perk of the effort, is Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper. As someone who’s read a lot of books, particularly in this genre, I can say with confidence Harper is one of the best writers I’ve ever come across. Payback’s a Witch takes the quality of this genre to a whole ‘nother level!

The premise of the story is that Emmaline Harlow (otherwise known as Emmy or Harlow) has come back to her hometown of Thistle Grove. As a scion of the one of the four magical founders of the town, obligation compels her to return to town in order to fulfill her role as arbitrator in the Gauntlet tournament, which is held every 50 years between the founder’s families to determine who will safeguard the magical wreath and benefit from its power.

But Emmy isn’t super pumped to be back home. Her first night back, she runs into her ex-beau, Gareth Blackmoore, who descends from the family of the most powerful witches in town. He’s a textbook narcissist who never really seems to get what he deserves. The same night though, Emmy also has a reconnect with Talia Avramov, another scion of the founding family most practiced in the dark arts. After quite a few drinks Emmy feels a bit better about running into Gareth and definitely notices a few sensual feelings budding towards Talia.

At breakfast the next morning with her longtime BFF, Linden Thorn, the fourth founder family’s descendent, Emmy is surprised to have Talia join them. Turns out, Emmy isn’t the only one who received the short-end of the stick of Gareth’s arrogance and schemes. He also two-timed Linden with Talia – or vice versa – point is, he was seeing them at the same time when both thought they were exclusive. Now, Liden and Talia want revenge, specifically at the Gauntlet tournament, and they are looking for Harlow to help out.

Harlow is well-aware of her duties to arbitrate without bias, and at first she’s a bit reluctant. She fled the town wanting to forget Gareth, and suddenly the whole time home seemed to be becoming all about him. However, when Talia and Linden point out this goes beyond petty revenge; the balance between the families has become skewed by the Blackmoores repeatedly winning, gaining magical advantage, winning again, and so on in a repetitive cycle.

This has led to them building a giant castle structure of Camelot akin to a Ren Faire that has drawn all the tourists away from more local shops, such as the Thorn’s farm and Aramov’s emporium. If balance is not restored, the unequal distribution of power could see foreclosure in the future for the Aramovs and Thorns. Understanding the greater balance of power among the founding families at risk, Emmy decides she’ll assist, and obviously, foresees some personal enjoyment in bringing down Gareth as well.

What takes Emmy by surprise is how happy she feels to be home. As her magic returns after her long departure from Thistle Grove, she starts to recall all the small joys of the town. Adding to her inner confusion is the romantic sparks between her and Talia. Talia can’t imagine a life away from their hometown, while Emmy is very proud of the life she’s built for herself.

As the Gauntlet plays out, in very twisted and unexpected ways, Emmy discovers there is more to her family’s lineage than she previously realized. Ultimately, she must reckon with the consequences of leaving her family and close friends behind, forgoing her claim to magic, and newly discovered feelings towards Talia to decide what her next step will be.

Luckily, the story doesn’t end here – there is a sequel coming in March! I am very pleased about this because I absolutely adored all the characters. I think there’s so much room for the story to grow. Plus, Harper really knows her stuff when it comes to magic. There’s plenty of diversity among the different types of magic practiced, and reading how they blend together or repel one another is an intriguing part of the story.

This was a fun read with surprising depth. There is the perfect amount of banter, tension, and love between the characters, with plenty of emotion balanced by humor and quirk. I loved reading it as a leisure book to relieve the stress of the day and tap into some magic.

The pace of the book is perfect with one chapter effortlessly flowing into the next, often on a cliff-hanger that compels you to keep reading. There’s also a great blend of fantasy with modernity, which gives the story very relevant magical realism. I love when this happens because I enjoy believing somewhere in Illinois a town like this might just really exist.

My favorite character was Talia since she practices the dark arts, particularly necromancy. Throughout the book, she chats with ghosts and summons her ancestor for guidance. The magical families that lean more towards “life-magic”, specifically the Thorns, are put off by the spookiness of the Avramov family, as Emmy is eager to see their magic, which is usually kept hidden.

Plus, Talia has a deeply caring and compassionate side, wanting to cook for and tend to the needs of those she loves. The relationship between Talia and Emmy is just beautiful to watch unfold. I absolutely love having some lesbian protagonists in a witch lit book! What’s better than two witches falling madly in love? THE ULTIMATE ENDING of the Gauntlet challenge, which is all I will say for now! 🙂

All in all, Payback’s a Witch is a 10/10 from me. Harper is one of the best writers I’ve read in a long time. The story has the perfect flow; the characters are very relatable; and the plot is enticing. I am very excited for the book in The Witches of Thistle Grove series!