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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.

Your Magickal Year, by Melinda Lee Holm

Your Magickal Year: Transform your life through the seasons of the zodiac, by Melinda Lee Holm
CICO Books, 1800650957, 160 pages, April 2022

What does it mean to live magically? If you’re on a journey to discover this for yourself, Your Magickal Year: Transform your life through the seasons of the zodiac by Melinda Lee Holm is the perfect book to use as guidance when cultivating a magical lifestyle. This book guides you through the year, tapping into the new and full moon through all the zodiac signs to facilitate personal growth and understanding through the transformation that comes from attuning to the lunar cycle.

“To follow a magickal year is to make a full lap of the stars, touching on each full and new moon, every solstice and equinox, to honor its influence and open yourself to receive it.”1

Holm is a tarot priestess, entrepreneur, and creative writer. She owns her own beauty line that creates all sorts of goodies, such as fragrance oils, natural deodorant, detoxifying cleansing masks, face oil, and more. She published her own Elemental Power Tarot deck and is also co-author of Divine Your Dinner: A cookbook for using tarot as your guide to magickal meals, which made me hungry just hearing the name and curious enough to order it.. review most likely coming soon. 🙂

But let’s focus on Your Magickal Year for right now! First of all, it’s absolutely stunning to look through with gorgeous, hand-drawn images by artist Rohan Daniel Eason filling each page. The beautiful blue hardcover makes it perfect to  keep on one’s coffee table for decoration and necessity, as you’ll need it every two weeks if you’re following the lunar cycle.

As for the interior, there’s the perfect amount of negative space in the content of the book to really allow one’s eyes to focus on the information and pictures to indulge in the joy of fantastic aesthetics. The visual appeal and organization is what makes this book perfect to work with because one can open to a page and fully immerse themselves without having to flip back and forth. Rather than be overwhelming, there’s an invitation to dive in that comes when flipping through the pages. What’s also really unique is how Holm’s Elemental Power Tarot cards are featured as sample readings and as depictions of the tarot cards to use in the rituals. If you love her deck, you’d really enjoy seeing all the artwork in this book.

Holm starts off by providing the reader with a 101 lesson on astronomy, astrology, and magick. From there, the essential tools of the book are covered: tarot cards, a journal, energy clearing tools, candles, crystals, and other supplies that might be needed, including herbs and oils for dressing candles or making offerings. Holm provides plenty of advice about these tools and how to use them, so even someone new to magical workings would feel comfortable getting started. There’s even a very helpful crystal guide of the energy each crystal is best for cultivating.

From here, Holm introduces the reader to four principles that will guide their work, as well as the four elements. She provides a brief overview on timing and preparation for working with the book and then offers answers to some FAQs about the book. The whole introduction is short and sweet, but definitely a solid foundation to begin with.

Now here’s the good part. For each astrological season, Holm writes about the zodiac sign’s symbolism, the magical energy of the season, tarot cards representing the sign, seasonal activities for this time of year, journaling for that season with prompt or suggestion about what to focus on, and a tarot spread for the season. She definitely provides a multi-layered approach to connecting with each season from both an intuitive and astrological perspective. Then there is a section on each zodiac sign’s new moon and full moon, with a little description about the significance of the time and how to connect with the lunar energy, and a ritual.

Since we are approaching a full moon, where the Sun in Taurus will be opposite the Moon in Scorpio, I’ll share the example of what Holm has to say about this time:

“The Taurus/Scorpio axis reveals areas of tension between stability and transformation. It invites conflict between our need to ground and our need to reinvent, what sustains life and what beckons the release of death. Whatever area of life you are ready to  bravely see, accept, and seriously overhaul is lit up by this moon.”2

The ritual provided is “designed to help you focus your energy on what you value most, releasing emotional attachment to things, tasks, situations, or relationships that are no longer important to you or relevant to your personal development.”3page 53[/efn_] The ritual involves use of a cleansing tool, the two tarot cards associated with Taurus (Hierophant) and Scorpio (Death), candles, oil, something symbolic of what you want to release, and purpose, white, and black crystals.

What I like about each ritual is they are fairly simple to do, but the combination of candles, tarot cards, and crystals makes them very potent. Admittedly, some people might not have all the materials readily on hand, so I suggest looking over the ritual about a week before to make sure you’re prepared. I also think this helps you to start connecting with the ritual and setting your own intention.

So far, I’ve worked with the Aries season of the book and the Taurus new moon. As an astrologer, I can vouch for Holm’s interpretation of each zodiac sign. She is definitely skilled in her craft and does an amazing job of translating the energy of the seasons into insightful, transformative practices that are fun to incorporate into one’s daily life. The journal prompts are helpful for focusing my awareness on the energy of the season, allowing me to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves. And the rituals make me feel like I am grounding the energy and honoring the lunar cycles through my intentional alignment.

For easy access to the timing of the  lunar cycle, there is a “Key Dates” section at the end of the book with the date and time of all the new and full moons from 2022 to 2030. Plus, there’s a very helpful index for reference. For instance, if you’re reading with book with a background in tarot, you can quickly look up in the index a tarot card of interest and find the page it’s discussed on.

All in all, Your Magickal Year is an absolutely stellar book. It’s gorgeous, accessible, and most of all, extraordinarily mystical. I think it’s the perfect book for beginning a practice of connecting with the lunar year or deepening the practice you already have. As someone who’s actively worked with the lunar cycles for over a decade now, Holm’s rituals, journal prompts, and tarot spreads provided new inspiration and brought a breath of fresh air to my practice. We all deserve a magical life, and this book for sure will be of use when creating one.

The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova, by Ruth Hogan

The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova: A Novel, by Ruth Hogan
William Morrow Paperbacks, 0063075431, 304 pages, September 2021

Sometimes I dream about having the life of a boardwalk fortune teller. What could be better than being near the ocean with the continuous swirl of entertainment and merriment as visitors enjoy their vacations. But as a professional tarot reader, I know there’s a deeper, more hidden side to the profession. And this mixture of the enjoyments and secrecy is what Ruth Hogan has captured perfectly in The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova: A Novel.

This heartwarming tale centers upon Madame Imelda Burova, beloved tarot reader, palmist, and clairvoyant1, and a young woman named Billie who just lost both her parents, her job, and marriage. Madame Burova shares a trust and photograph given to her from Billie’s birth mother, then the mystery compels Billie to find out the truth of her origins.

Grappling with the news, Billie forges a relationship with Madame Burova, who happily brings her into the fold of the eccentric community of the boardwalk.Though, the memories of the past do drum up old hurts for Madame Burova. Though recently retired, she’s feeling a bit lost without her fortune-telling, which remained her core identity.

Madame Burova must confront her own past and the truths that Billie uncovers to resolve matters of the heart that have weighed heavy on her for decades. Flashbacks between past and present weave an intriguing story of romance and deception, as the readers try to piece together who Bilie’s birth mother and father truly are.

What’s so neat about the story is how it depicts Madame Burova’s beachside fortune-telling lifestyle. Hogan does a wonderful job of portraying the emotional intricacies of being a tarot reader. From the secrets people confess to the intuitive knowledge that one knows but can’t be spoken, the full experience of having the gift is revealed. Anyone who does tarot reading themselves or understands the fine line clairvoyants walk between the seen and unseen world would really resonate with her character.

Then in contrast, Billie is just the average woman doing her best to come to terms with this new insight. I enjoyed her as a character because she wasn’t mopey or self-pitying. She had much self-awareness and wholeheartedly chose to embrace the cards that the Universe dealt her to remake her life. She is considerate towards others and willing to open up and cultivate the relationships with the new people in her life. Her story was one of hope, optimism, and friendships cherished and made.

Plus, how the two stories interweave is just brilliant! Hogan really did a great job of keeping the reader guessing who the mother and father might be. I had quite a few different suspicions throughout reading the book, but the end was even better than imagined! All the pieces are there, right under the readers’ nose the whole time, but the way it all comes together is very well done. It felt good to read a mystery that for once wasn’t about a murder! And I just loved the fortune-telling aspect woven in too.

This isn’t a magical, enchanted story. Rather, it reads as though it could be real life. It portrays Madame Burova family, job, and relationships realistically, and they are all quite endearing. There was plenty of backstory about Madame Burova too. Hogan did a wonderful job of highlighting Madame Burova’s roots with her Romani gypsy mother with a vardo in the back coupled with her Russian father that loved to cook. When she does find true love, it’s very funny to see how her parents encourage it. And for those who love dogs, it’s worth mentioning that Madame Burova has two constant companions through the years, Dasha and Mabel, whose antics always bring a levity to the situations in the book.

All in all, The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova was a 10/10 read for me. It’s so rare to read fiction that depicts the normal life of a tarot reader, rather than having it be all about magic or sorcery. This was plain and simple a lifelike story that takes the reader on a journey of the full range of human emotions and comes together for the most perfect ending. Sometimes it seems the past and present intersect at exactly the right time to open the door for a fresh start, both individually and as a community.

Angels in Waiting, Robbie Holz with Judy Katz

Angels in Waiting: How to Reach Out to Your Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides, by Robbie Holz with Judy Katz
Destiny Books, 1644113163, 144 pages, November 2021

In troubled times, it always feels good to know there is someone we can count on: our guardian angel and spirit guides. But too often we forget our divine, celestial team of support. Angels in Waiting: How to Reach Out to Your Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides by Robbie Holz with Judy Katz is the perfect reminder of the ample assistance available to us, if we just remember to ask. This lovely book opens the mind, heart, and spirit to the Heavenly realms, inviting in a bounty of loving, blissful energy.

Holz is an internationally acclaimed healer and medium. After healing herself of hepatitis C and fibromyalgia with Aboriginal spiritual practices, she went on to write Secrets of Aboriginal Healing and Aboriginal Secrets of Awakening. Currently, she offers healing sessions, guided by her team of spirits, to facilitate healing in clients through tuning into unconscious beliefs or emotional issues contributing to their illness or injury. Katz is a book writer, publisher, and promoter, who enjoys using her skills to connect authors and their audience.

The authors’ compassion and empathy seep through every word of Angels in Waiting, creating sacred trust between her and the reader, as they teach how to awaken to the connection with one’s guardian angel. The book moves at a pace that makes this spiritual practice easy to integrate into one’s life. While communicating with one’s guardian angel is always possible, it can still take time to learn to listen to the wisdom of one’s spirit team. The grounded and simple approach shared for connecting with one’s spirit team makes divine support accessible for all, regardless of wherever you’re currently at on your spiritual path.

“Communicating with these other realms is a process. Contacting angels and guides is not a matter of raising your face toward heaven and asking–even earnestly pleading–for assistance. All your problems will not be magically solved with the stroke of an angelic wand. However, if you take the process of “reaching out” seriously and learn to view it as a series of steps, I promise you it will yield exponential results that will impact your life in many positive ways.”1

And as the authors guide you through this process, it’s as though they intuitively knew the questions you might ask and wrote about it for you. Multiple times, just when I was starting to question something, the next section answered it! For instance, I was wondering how one distinguishes between information from their guardian angel and information from their mind, and Holz and Katz write all about this and includes a list of signs that one’s guardian angel is trying to connect with them.

Just like human relationships, the authors emphasizes that our relationship with our guardian angel and spirit guides shouldn’t be one way. I really appreciated her pointing this out, because I often forget this myself. I’ll pray or speak with my guardian angel in times of need, but our relationship would be strengthened by having daily practice. They recommends journaling, making a shrine, and meditating as some of the ways to include your guardian angel in your day to day life.

One thing in particular that is conveyed is the importance of trusting one’s own intuition.

“Your spirit guides and angels will not guide you through your fears. Rather, with great love they will guide you through your instincts.”2

I can’t tell you how many times I talk myself out of doing something I feel called to do, while mustering the energy to do something I don’t feel called to do but think I “should”. The authors’ framing of how our angels guide us through instinct has made me trust myself more since reading the book. I am remembering the purpose of my intuition is to guide my path forward, and that it’s important to listen to my instinct without overthinking things.

Our angels can help us with so many things, which Holz and Katz shares with us chapter by chapter. They covers how angels can help us with money and success, assist us in healing physically, overcome heartbreak, find love, work through life’s challenges, and change our self-hatred into self-love. All we have to do is ask!

It made me start wondering why I haven’t been reaching out to my angels more, and I started a practice of meditating with them for clarity and peace in my life. I am going through a bit of a career pivot right now and have been concerned about the future, so I also have been asking my angels for help, trusting the path forward is meant for me will be divinely guided.

“Let your angels and guides help you find the job, career, or passion you deserve, the one that will lead you to a fulfilling life based on love, not one where you are mired in boredom or frustration. Just know that there is always a way out of a stalled work situation if you listen to your spirit team and let them take the reins.”3

My favorite thing about this book is the variety of techniques used to assist readers, including meditations, case studies, and anecdotes of other’s spiritual journey. The case studies especially helped me to see angelic guidance, healing, and transformation are possible–others have experienced it, and so can I. I’m the type of person who really appreciates real life stories of success–they give me faith and motivate me to nurture my relationship with my guardian angel–and I am really glad that Holz and Katz included them as a teaching tool.

Another really neat thing the authors provides readers with in the Appendix is an explanation of the different dimensions. Many authors toss around terms like the 3rd dimension or 5th dimension without clarification. They discusses a shift in the heart that is changing the consciousness on Earth as more people awaken to the 5th dimension. Since she is using these terms, I appreciated that she clearly defines a dimension and then explains the first through sixth dimension for readers.

All in all, Angels in Waiting is an uplifting book that will help you to attune yourself to communication with your guardian angel and spirit guides. The authors’ approach is practical and down to earth, while simultaneously filled with a supportive, divine energy thorough as well. It’s the perfect book for those just learning about guardian angels. Those who already have a relationship with their angel will surely benefit also from reading it, as the case studies are inspirational and the wisdom of Holz and Katz is generously shared. This book is a small blessing that can most certainly lead to big transformations.

The Body Tarot, by Emma McArthur

The Body Tarot, by Emma McArthur
CICO Books, 1800650965, 72 cards, 66 pages, April 2022

After reading tarot cards for so long, I am always excited for adapted decks that use the tarot as a foundation to build from to create something novel. This is exactly what Emma McArthur has done with The Body Tarot, which bridges the magic of the body and the subconscious to reveal hidden insights. Integrating Western and Chinese medicine, this deck offers a unique look at what’s going on inside of us both literally and figuratively.

In the guidebook, McArthur explains how studying the physical form of our bodies deeply impacted her art and gave rise to the idea for the deck.

“When I first began doing anatomical drawings, I was astounded at the complex structure of our flesh, bones, and blood. The patterns, shapes, and colors enchanted me and I wanted my art to reflect how little we know of our inner workings and introduce that to my audience. It began conversations about the body that showed me that many of us are in the dark about what we actually look like on the inside. ”1

Then McArthur realized this lack of knowledge of our internal physical structures was similar to the hidden, mysterious workings of our subconscious mind too.

“This then made me think of how we often do not know the workings of our subconscious mind and we traverse situations reacting instinctively without realizing why we’re behaving in a certain way. It seemed to me that the tarot, rather than simply a predictive divinatory system, is also a profoundly useful tool to discover the impulses hidden within us. In this way, the idea of the tarot deck was born.”2

But this is no ordinary tarot deck. While it does have a twenty-two-card major arcana, there are no court cards, which I’m sure might prompt a sigh of relief for some readers since they can be challenging to read at times. In their place is a fifth suit, Metal, which corresponds to the suit Pentacles, as does the suit Earth. The other three suits are Wood (Swords), Fire (Wands), and Water (Cups). This integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine into the suits makes for slightly different interpretations than the traditional tarot deck. But once understood, it greatly enhances the readings, particularly if one has some background knowledge about Chinese medicine.

Regardless of your level of knowledge about Western or Chinese medicine, though, the cards themselves are helpful in determining their message. There is a keyword at the bottom of each card to assist with interpretation. The major arcana cards in The Body Tarot even have the name of the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) card on them too for easy reference. Admittedly, the minor arcana is a bit more of a leap to learn since one has to remember the corresponding traditional suit with each Chinese element suit, but the keyword leans a hand in figuring out the meaning, as does the resourceful guidebook.

One of the most interesting aspects of the minor arcana cards is how each element suit has both a main and secondary organ association, which is featured on the card. For instance, the main organ of the suit Fire is Heart and the secondary organ is Small Intestine, both of which are featured on all the cards. For me, this added layers to the interpretation of the card because it felt multilayered.

I am someone who enjoys the interpretive process of discerning a card’s message, so I would piece together the information about the heart and spiritual intestine from the guidebook plus what I know about the traditional meaning of the card and come up with my own intuitive approach. Granted this didn’t work as well on the Metal suit, since that one felt a bit foreign to me, but in a delightful way. It’s even prompted me to learn a bit more about the Chinese elements, since this one is rarely included in Western practices.

For those who want a more straight-forward reading and aren’t as interested in playing around with the layers of these cards, the guidebook is also immensely helpful. For each card there are additional keywords and a description of the card’s message. Here’s a little sample of the guidebook for The Eyes, or the Chariot traditionally:

“Around 80 percent of our sensory perception comes from our eyes, if we are sighted. While we often hear the truism that appearances can be deceptive, for the most part, the other saying that “seeing is believing” is the one we follow. This card is telling you that your eyes are not deceiving you and the succes you may have been craving is your for the taking. There is an element of divine help (if you believe in a higher powers) or dumb luck (if you don’t), but the greater part of the victories indicated by this card will come from grit and faith in your own abilities.”3

I chose this description for this card because it appeared in a reading I was doing for a querent asking about making a career shift. Since I was reading with the deck for the first time, and it was a social get-together rather than a professional reading, we consulted the guidebook. The indication seemed clear she should pursue the opportunities in front of her and the combination of her own determination plus a bit of luck would pave the way.

As for the card illustrations, this deck is vibrantly colorful and beautifully simplicity. McArthur describes how she was influenced by Gray’s Anatomy, a 19th century medical reference book, by Henry Carter. Peering into the marvels of the body is such an interesting way to also delve into the wisdom of the subconscious, and McArthur does a wonderful job stimulating the reader visually to assist in making these connections.

I even spent time meditating with some of the major arcana cards, such as the Eyes, Ears, and Muscles, while doing an awareness breathing exercise through my body. Connecting to the physical body part helps me to better embody the messages I’m receiving from the deck, which is a neat aspect to it that is different from other tarot decks.

All in all, The Body Tarot is a very special synthesis of science and intuition. The blend of Western and Chinese medicine makes for multi-faceted readings that can be as straight-forward or layered as the reader feels called to explore. The learning curve of this deck will be inciting for readers who have the traditional tarot down-pat and are looking for new avenues of insight and creative interpretation, while beginners will be able to gather ample information from their readings through the descriptive guidebook. The best part of this deck is the connection it fosters by making the internal visible, prompting further curiosity and deep appreciation for all that goes on in the unseen realms of body, mind, and soul.

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.