A Collective Gathering Place for Readers, Writers, and Seekers

Ancestral Tarot, by Nancy Hendrickson

Ancestral Tarot: Uncover Your Past and Chart Your Future, by Nancy Hendrickson
Weiser Books, 1578637416, 202 pages, March 2021

Ancestral Tarot: Uncover Your Past and Chart Your Future by Nancy Hendrickson immediately drew my attention because it combined two interests of mine: tarot and ancestry. I have been working with the tarot for almost 30 years and have used it countless times for advice, guidance, and clarification. Ancestry has been a newer passion for about the past 10 years. I have an insatiable interest in learning about the different ancestors that live in my family tree, all of them coming from Southern Italy. It’s the stories of these blood ancestors that intrigue me – why they did the things they did and how they lived. I truly feel the blood of these ancestors coursing through my veins.

Hendrickson does an amazing job of illuminating how one can use the tarot as a tool for ancestral communication to: “identify and access ancestral gifts, message, powers, protectors, and healers… and use the tarot to discover ancestors you may not have known you had.”1 As one who has decades of experience in genealogy and tarot, she is well-poised to write on this topic.

In this book, Hendrickson writes that there is really no order recommended in which to read the book. While she understands that one might want to delve into issues around one’s family of origin for example, and start with that chapter, she does suggest doing the tarot spreads and journal prompts introduced at the beginning of the book to form a foundation for working with one’s ancestors

I automatically connect the term ancestor to my family of birth origin, or as she calls them, Ancestors of Blood – grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents – on down the line. Yet I was immensely intrigued to read about how she broadened the term “ancestor” to include two other types: Ancestors of Place and Ancestors of Time. Ancestors of Place are those ancestors with whom one has a genetic connection and who lived in the one’s ancestral homeland a long time ago, but those whose names are not known. Ancestors of Time are ancestors from past incarnations.2 I have this inexplicable draw to Ireland and was hoping to have a “conversation” with those Ancestors of Time to see if there may be a connection.

The book is divided into eleven chapters. Chapters one through three contain an introduction to the three afore-mentioned types of ancestors. Hendrickson also writes about how those who are adopted can work with their ancestors. She provides tarot spreads to help one find an ancestral spirit guide for the journey as well as using the tarot to ask questions about the purpose of one’s walk with the ancestors. As she writes, “Chapter 3 will load you up with a variety of tools for the journey. I hope your backpack is super-sized – because you’ll be given a lot to work with!”3

I did the spread to help me determine what type of ancestors I wanted to work with initially – those of Blood, Place, or Time. While my head was pulling me to one column of cards – that of the Ancestors of Time because it was comprised entirely of Major Arcana cards, my intuition pulled me to work with the Ancestors of Place. 

The majority of my ancestors that I can trace come from the same province in Benevento, Italy. Ironically, Benevento was through to be the gathering place for witches, a place where they would not be prosecuted. I remember hearing about the “Evil Eye” growing up and was given an amulet to wear to ward it off. In fact, when my daughters were born my grandmother gifted each of them with their own amulet. I also remember hearing about great-grandmothers who knew how to do the “overlooks” that could remove the curse of the Evil Eye.

Looking back, maybe it was from my Ancestors of Place that I have inherited some of my interests in Italian folklore such as the Evil Eye and witchcraft. When asked how I could expect to benefit in my work with my Ancestors of Place I drew the High Priestess card – inner knowing seems to be spot on. Finally, when asked what message my Ancestors of Place had as I begin this journey, I drew the Page of Pentacles – learning how to manifest, being a voracious learner – and ironically, the astrological correspondence of the card is Capricorn – which is my birth sign. So much insight just from one spread, which as you can see really helped me to reflect on the unknown ancestors from this spirit of place and make connections to present day in my life.

Moving along, chapter four, “Meet the Family,” held information on using the tarot to work with one’s present family to reveal familial patterns. Then chapters five, six, and seven deepened the work with the three ancestral types. Chapter eight covers the importance of keeping a tarot journal for this journey of discovery. The final chapters nine, ten, and eleven offer ways to create “ancestral altars, sacred space, and crystal grids.”4

While I have provided an overview of the focus of each of the chapters, one should realize that there is a tremendous amount of information offered in each one — too much to digest in one reading. I came to understand that working with one’s ancestors is not a quick walk in the park, but rather a dedication to spending time with the ancestors, more of a slow, multi-leveled revelation versus a quick answer. I realized that I had to dedicate the time to do the spreads and journal promptings, to listen for the answers that bubbled up over time, and to put the pieces together to understand the story. From understanding the story and receiving the communications I could begin to work on self-healing and to experience hidden ancestral gifts emerge.

Hendrickson’s writing style is very straightforward and comprehensible. However, I feel that having an understanding of the tarot is beneficial before diving into this book. A tarot novice might easily be overwhelmed by the spreads, especially since one needs to use one’s knowledge of the tarot for insight into the cards as a form of communication with their ancestors. 

The only downside I encountered was in chapter nine, “Pairing Up,” she writes about using an ancestor’s birth date to calculate personality and soul numbers. Unfortunately for me, the majority of my ancestors were illiterate, and their birth dates are more approximations. Many of the church records that housed information on births and christenings were destroyed. However, I immensely enjoyed the final chapter, “Ancestral Rituals,” which covers how one can honor the ancestors through rituals such as creating altars. This has always been a meaningful activity for me. I truly liked creating an ancestral altar using items that “came” to me as I was meditating on what to include on it. 

The Appendices in the book provide additional information. Appendix A provides an overview of the tarot – or “Tarot 101”5 as it’s referred to. Appendix B offers recommended reading on the tarot and Appendix  C offers genealogy resources. 


I very much enjoyed working with the exercises in Ancestral Tarot as a new way to connect with my ancestors. Through combining tarot and ancestry, Hendrickson has opened a whole new realm of possibility when it comes to communing with our family and spiritual lineage from beyond the veil. I highly recommend this book for those who want to use the tarot to work with one’s ancestors and discover a connection to their ancestors beyond those of their bloodline. I nod in agreement with Nancy’s observation that “the search for ancestors is really about a search for self. Work with the ancestors and the person you find is you.”6

Entering Hekate’s Garden, by Cyndi Brannen

Entering Hekate’s Garden: The Magick, Medicine & Mystery of Plant Spirit Witchcraft, by Cyndi Brannen, PhD
Weiser Books, 1578637228, 288 pages, November 2020

The Garden of Hekate, the great Mother Goddess from whom all the world flows, is the spiritual home for the practice of pharmakeia, the ancient art, craft, and science of plant spirit witchcraft.  This practice uses botanicals for corporeal purposes, the crafting of magical formulations, and the art of transcending. It is a holistic art transmitted by Hekate and her witches for our use today. 1

Entering Hekate’s Garden: The Magick, Medicine & Mystery of Plant Spirit Witchcraft by Cyndi Brannen is a book about plant spirit witchcraft, a craft which incorporates magick, medicine, and the mystery of botanicals through the use of both their physical properties and their spiritual essence.  This book is for anyone passionate about plants and magically inclined, ready to take a deep dive into the mysteries of the spiritual essences and consciousness of plants.  While more and more witches are carving out a career niche in the practice of clinical herbalism, Entering Hekate’s Garden takes it a step further and elevates the practice of working with plants into the spiritual realm by creating relationship to the soul of the plants and understanding their magical properties as well as there medicinal. 

Entering Hekate’s Garden reads like a sacred text. It begins with a poetic portrait of how the dark Goddess of Nature surrendered her guard to her lover, civilization, and was betrayed. This prologue is called “Medea’s Truth.”  It sets a tone that this text is a reclaiming of a lost art. That lost art is the tending of Hekate’s Garden. Medea is the darker of the two daughters of Hekate, an underworld Goddess and Queen of Witches known also as Regina Maleficarum. The other daughter is Circe. As Brannen write, “Medea’s energy and archetype speak to our shadow selves. Circe summons us to speak to embrace the transformation found by speaking our truth boldly.”2

In “Medea’s Truth,” the author channels the words of her Goddess’s despairing truth.

“Jason came to me, not out of affection, but out of greed.  He had heard of my powers…Jason’s gods preyed upon his ambitions.  They instructed him on how to seduce me.  Not only did I welcome him into Hekate’s garden, but I put a spell on…the Tree of Knowledge…. Now the time has come for you to remember the magick, the medicine, and the mystery. Return to Mother’s Garden.”3

 The book’s narrative spirals open like an actual initiation. The chapters following, each named in Latin, lay out a sacred system of working with 39 specific plant species which Brannen has selected to present – 39 being 3 x 13. Three for Mercury, God of gathering information, and 13 for the 13 moons in a Witch’s Year.  Though all plants have sacred properties, according to Brennan, for the purposes of this book, which is meant to be an introduction to the way of Hekate’s Garden, 39 was a sufficient number to work with. Throughout the book, Brennan offers detailed recipes for medicines and spellwork (and for her, medicine and spellwork are one) that the reader can replicate at home for their own journey.

The book unfolds as follows:

·      Origio: Meeting the three Goddesses through purification ritual instructions

·      PraeparatioA brief introduction to holistic healing and the practicing of true medicine.

·      Ratio: Understanding the language of archetypes, specifically the four elements, the seven planetary correspondences, the three worlds (lower, middle, and upper), and Seven Sacred Forces (passion, strength, sovereignty, power, discipline, awareness and integrity)Plus, there is a powerful initiation ritual called the Sacred Seven Ritual.

·      Practica: Physical formulations of plant medicine, such as how to tincture and make syrups and oxymels.

·      Gnosis: The 39 monographs of plants used in sacred plant magic.

For each of the 39 plant monographs, from basil to foxglove to saffron to walnut, Brennan offers a bit of lore about the plant. For example, “Thyme has been associated with the bumble since Greek warriors used them both to decorate their battle gear”.4 She includes a thorough list of properties and correspondences, such as zodiac sign, stones, and animal.  She also includes indications, formulations (for example, “Cats are often fond of thyme and it is safe for them”5) and a yummy recipe for goat cheese crescents.

The book concludes with Magikeia, and here reads very much like a classic grimoire with specific instructions on using plants in particular spellwork. She includes a long list of common types of spells and how to make basic formulations for them, which can be further customized as a practitioner gets more comfortable using the monographs.  The list includes popular spellwork topics like abundance, binding, attraction, and protection.

In sum, this book is absolutely beautiful!  It is easy the glean that Brennan is a true devotee to her path and her spirit possesses aeons of experience with her subject. The book has heart and what it offers is no less than an actual tangible portal into a magical realm, if you are willing to follow her steps and do the initiations she outlines. For a more casual fan of plants and gardens Entering Hekate’s Garden is full of fascinating and rare information about common plants – like that yarrow is one of the most powerful plants for honoring Venus! I strongly recommend this book.  It will remain a treasured piece in my own book collection for years to come and I hope to see a future hardcover addition with glossy photographs of all these wonderful, magical plants!

Advanced Tarot, by Paul Fenton-Smith

Advanced Tarot: An In-depth Guide to Practical & Intuitive Tarot Reading, by Paul Fenton-Smith
Blue Angel Publishing, 0648746829, 556 pages, May 2021

The next time someone asks me for a book recommendation about reading tarot, I am hands-down suggesting Advanced Tarot: An In-depth Guide to Practical & Intuitive Tarot Reading by Paul Fenton-Smith. I keep wanting to refer to this roughly 3.5 pound book (yes, I weighed it on my scale because I was curious) as a “tarot bible” because it is one of the most all-inclusive guides I’ve ever read on reading tarot cards. Even as a professional tarot reader for nearly a decade, I am gleaning pieces of wisdom from this book, rejuvenating my skill set, and incorporating new perspectives into my readings.

Within this book, Fenton-Smith has crafted a handy and resourceful guide to the entire tarot deck for beginning or deepening one’s practice. While this may seem like his magnum opus, he is already quite the renowned author and teacher who has been sharing his practical insights for over forty years. In 1985 he created the Academy of Psychic Sciences and has been teaching for decades on topics such as palmistry, astrology, clairvoyance, and hypnotherapy in addition to his work with tarot. Needless to say, Fenton-Smith has a large repertoire in a variety of metaphysical topics, and it clearly shines through in Advanced Tarot.

What immediately stood out for me with this book is the way all the information is organized and presented. Pages four through twenty-one feature the striking imagery of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, sorted into the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana suits. I absolutely loved looking through all the images: though I know them by heart, it’s always pretty to see them all lined up next to each other. I liked the way it was arranged by suit so one can see the storyline within the Major Arcana and get a visual of all the cards in a suit together. As I gazed at the images, I thought how helpful this would be to a beginner just familiarizing themselves with the cards to have this for references.

Now here is where we get into the heart of the book, which at 556 pages you can imagine there’s a lot to absorb. The first 176 pages of the book are dedicated to the art of reading. Fenton-Smith addresses many topics that I feel other tarot books gloss over or neglect to include, such as answering yes/no questions, giving distance readings, what to do when more clarity is needed, and how to read well under pressure. I think what I enjoyed reading about the most is Fenton-Smith’s acknowledgement of the limitation of tarot:

“It is important for a tarot reader to resist the temptation to override the free will of a client. Professional readers predict the future, detail the past and illuminate the underlying causes of events but they don’t dictate what a person should do. Everyone has free will in choosing a preferred destiny.”1

In this beginning section, Fenton-Smith also includes a variety of different layouts. For each one, he gives immense clarity about the position and meaning of each card. It was very easy to follow along with the spreads, and many were ones that I had not tried before. My favorite was the horoscope spread, which is a 13-card spread to give insight into different areas of life and the year ahead based on the house placements in astrology. I loved how he was able to translate the house system into an information tarot spread, perfectly blending astrology and tarot. Additionally, there is information on how to create one’s own layout, which is beneficial for those who are ready to try this out.

What I liked most about this introduction section is all the examples Fenton-Smith supplies. I always enjoy hearing about others’ experiences as a reader, such as what clients ask and how the reader handles the different questions of the client, which he has provided in spades. Reading how he interpreted the cards in his layouts, or handled the self-denial or conflicting feelings emanating from his client, really helped me to think about how I can handle situations more skillfully.

This method of teaching through example also really resonated with me because it built a sense of relationship between Fenton-Smith and me, the reader. It was as though his wisdom was streaming through in all these stories of the experiences he’s had, and I for one very much appreciated being on the receiving end of this storytelling, intently seeing it in my mind’s eye and learning vicariously through him. It’s something used through the entire book that remains useful as we enter the next section of delving into card meanings.

Now, keep in mind we’re only about a fifth of the way through the book at this point – and so much has already been shared! The heart of the book is what comes next: the Minor Arcana, Court Cards, and the Major Arcana. For each and every card, Fenton-Smith provides a predictive meaning for a general reading, career layout, relationship question, and health query. I cannot even begin to express how helpful it is for a specific message to be provided for all these domains, especially health which has been the focus of my questions recently, and had me searching for guidance in other books.

Not only is Fenton-Smith’s interpretation provided for upright cards, he provides just as much information of every card reversed as well. This is yet another humongous bonus to this book, which greatly sets it apart from (and above, in my opinion) other tarot books. And let me tell you, he does not skimp on his interpretation. Each card’s description is detailed, clear, and immensely accurate from the readings I’ve done so far.

In the tailend of the book, Fenton-Smith offers guidance on becoming a tarot reader. Then there are handy reference charts for the meaning of cards in combination, the Minor Arcana upright, and the Minor Arcana reversed. 

One thing I like a lot about the way the cards’ meanings are presented is the organization of the Minor Arcana. Rather than going by suit, Fenton-Smith categorizes the cards by number. Beginning each section of the cards, such as The Nines, he provides an overview of what the cards represent. For instance, “The nines in the tarot represent a period of reflection before a final commitment in a goal or purpose.”2 From there, he explains how the message shows up in each of the suits, which provides an interesting compare and contrast between the suits of each number.

For a seasoned tarot reader, it may seem a book like this may not be useful, but I don’t think that assumption could be further from the truth. There’s something reassuring about reading someone else’s viewpoint, particularly when doing a reading for oneself, in order to maintain objectivity and openness to the cards. I also enjoy reading Fenton-Smith’s definitions because they make for good journal quotes and prompts as I log my readings.

Another way I’ve benefited from the book is through doing readings with my husband, who only knows a little bit about the card meanings, and reading the descriptions to each other for discussion after we pull a spread for an inquiry. The book seems to be a leveling ground for us to communicate about the reading, rather than me having to interpret the cards for him, which has been very useful in making some recent decisions. It facilitated a sense of teamwork between us, as well as a stronger connection to the messages coming through the cards.

Overall, Advanced Tarot is a worthy investment for readers, both novice and expert, that is sure to be of great use. Fenton-Smith has packed so much wisdom into these pages that it in many ways reminds me of a tome. However, his direct, relatable, and practical writing style make the information accessible and able to be integrated into one’s reading with ease. As I’ve already said, I highly recommend this book to all tarot readers. I certainly plan on directing everyone to it with the praise that it is a wonderful, foundational book on tarot for those looking to take their readings to the next level.

Witch Hunt, by Kristen J. Sollee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lost Pillars of Enoch, by Tobias Churton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exploring Other Lifetimes, by Patty Paul

Exploring Other Lifetimes: Memoir of a Soul’s Journey, by Patty Paul
IMDEX Publishing, 0964272601, 174 Pages, June 2021

Do you believe in past lives and that the present can be impacted by the experiences you had in previous incarnations? I personally do, especially after some impactful regression sessions I’ve had that provided a lot of insight into my current attitudes, feelings, and beliefs. In Exploring Other Lifetimes: Memoir of a Soul’s Journey, Patty Paul shares her spiritual awakening through the exploration of past lives. Reading her story has reaffirmed many spiritual truths in my life, and it also has awoken me to new dimensions of the spiritual realm that I had previously not known much about. From start to finish, I was drawn into her honest, heartfelt account of the power of uncovering our past lives for personal growth, healing, and enlightenment.

Patty Paul, who acknowledges that this is only her currently incarnated self, has been exploring and teaching about spiritual growth for decades. She has authored another book titled A New Spirituality: Beyond Religion, and she also hosted a TV talk show called Living Wisdom for ten years. You can see really neat episodes of her interviewing well-known channeled beings on her YouTube channel. (For those who are new to channeling, I would highly recommend watching some of her videos to see how the process works!)

What I like most about this book is the way that Patty weaves together all her lifetimes to clearly present them in memoir style. She believes not only are these past lives impacting present events, but that they are also taking place simultaneously in a multi-dimensional reality. Through her experiences, she’s been able to unveil quite a bit of information about current circumstances by traveling to her past lifetimes through meditation and also working with channeled beings.

Throughout the book she mentions certain techniques she uses, such as blending, to merge her energy with that of the person in the past life experience. She has been both male and female in different lives, and some of her incarnations date back to prehistoric times and even Atlantis and Lumeria. Now I realize when these places are brought up, many quickly dismiss their existence as New-Age propaganda. However, I was immensely impressed by Patty’s rejection of many New-Age idealism, which makes me feel her work is grounded in some deeper and more authentic.

I have always kept an open mind about the existence of these places, and to be honest, am more inclined to accept them on a spiritual level than an ideological one. What I mean by this is that I am not as convinced by those who have mapped out exactly where they were placed and the exact purpose of these places, but I did find Patty’s descriptions of her incarnation in these places to be testimony to their existence on some level of reality, at some point in the time/space continuum.

In fact, I very much enjoyed learning more about Lemuria and Atlantis through Patty’s stories of different incarnations. Quite a few of her past lives highlight how Atlantis lost the balance between masculine and feminine polarities, becoming too hyper-focused on technological advancement and exterminating “undesirable” people who did not fit the status quo. The destruction of Atlantis sadly made me reflect on our current time in history, where it seems as though many of the lessons are repeating themselves.

On that topic, overcoming or altering lessons repeating themselves seems to be one of the greatest benefits of engaging in exploration of one’s past lives. In one section, “Ties That Bind — Lifetimes Related to Present-Life Events,” Patty describes five different lifetimes where the events were influencing her life trajectory in this incarnation. By remembering these lifetimes, she was able to access a new perception of her reality in the present, and regain more conscious control of current events.

In some of the lives, she even benefited from going back to the time of death for these former incarnations. One time she held her former self in love and peace as they passed, and this helped to unblock energy in her current life. In another lifetime, she needed to figure out the last dying thought of her former incarnation that was presently impacting her current life. By doing this work, Patty’s current life always shifted for the better as her sense of self expanded to incorporate these new dimensions of her spiritual being. Reading all her stories, which are filled with emotion and historical information, really inspired me to be more proactive about discovering my own past lives.

It was touching to read about Patty’s five key foundational lifetimes, which were described in the first section of the book. For each lifetime, she told the story of her experience and shared the key takeaways, both positive and negative. I found this method of sharing to be very impactful; it really helped me to see how understanding these lifetimes can make a huge difference to allow someone to move through life with a more expansive awareness of the dynamic in play.

Room Decoration in Purple and Gray, by Agnes Pelton, 1917

I found Patty’s story so immensely profound because I enjoy storytelling as a form of learning and sharing wisdom and also deeply respect those who share their wisdom, especially when it’s not very “mainstream.” I particularly was fascinated by her lifetime as a little girl named Maya, dating back to 37,200 BC. This one really touched my heart and seemed to awaken me to the purpose all lives have and also the connection we share with nature.

I also very much enjoyed the section titled, “Loves, Lost and Found — Completing Stories,” where Patty discusses the romantic relationship she’s had in this lifetime in which she and the man also had former lives together. It was so interesting to hear these stories, and it gave me faith that love is never lost and can travel through time, allowing people to meet time and time again. Patty also had a connection to artist Agnes Pelton, a painter who strived to capture the spiritual world in her transcendental paintings. Reading the story of how Patty remembered her connection to Agnes was synchronicity and a very beautiful story.

Throughout the book, Patty is candid in her personal struggles, from resorting to alcohol at one point to struggles with her daughter who suffers from mental health problems. Her honesty paved the way for trust for me as the reader, as well as allowed me to see the genuine desire of Patty to share this information not for personal gain, but to simply share the wisdom she’s learned through her current lifetime.

In the final section, Patty describes lifetimes where she had mastered her spiritual wisdom and the events in that incarnation reflected this. One lifetime that really stood out to me was when she was Crystal Temple Priest in Atlantis. Reading about the crystal grids that powered Atlantis was super interesting. Her stories affirmed for me that we do learn and grow spiritually with each lifetime, and there will be opportunities to live the wisdom we’ve developed through different incarnations.

Overall, I really loved Exploring Other Lifetimes. It inspired me to incorporate more regression, meditation, and perhaps even channeling into my spiritual journey. I believe wisdom is meant to be shared, which Patty has done with skill and grace in service to a higher good. Leading by example, Patty invites us too to explore other lifetimes to better navigate the present reality. Her story, and the stories of all her former incarnations, are ones that will be with you for quite a while on your journey, calling you too to come and discover the greater journey of your soul.

The Book of Candle Magic, by Madame Pamita

The Book of Candle Magic: Candle Spell Secrets to Change Your Life, by Madame Pamita
Llewellyn Publications, 91309165998, 317 pages, October 2020

What a true pleasure to find The Book of Candle Magic: Candle Spell Secrets to Change Your Life by Madame Pamita — the most all-encompassing book on candle magic that I’ve ever read! Confession, before digging into this book, I had a pack of 20 candles in a variety of colors since December 2019 that had never been touched after unwrapping them. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the time to begin a candle magic practice, I simply lacked the wisdom of how to do so to make it feel like I was truly doing something worthwhile.

The extent of my candle magic practice was essentially using a birthday candle here and there for a quick wish. Well, I can say this has all changed significantly thanks to Madame Pamita’s immense knowledge of candle magic, which has been so thoroughly and graciously shared in The Book of Candle Magic, that I am now trying all sorts of different things with confidence, knowledge, and great results thus far.

Madame Pamita is a tarot reader, rootworker, and teacher. She has a YouTube channel filled with information in her series Candle Magic Class and Magic Q&A Tea Party. For inspiration, I also looked through her website, Parlour of Wonders, which is filled with spells, magical materials, and kits for those who prefer something pre-made with instructions. She also has previously published Madame Pamita’s Magical Tarot: Using the Cards to Make Your Dreams Come True. Needless to say, Madame Pamita is a wellspring of practical tips and anecdotal experience coupled with sincere knowledge of her craft.

Before delving into the content of The Book of Candle Magic, I just want to take a moment to reflect on it’s beautiful, sturdy cover. The majestic purple inlay with silver and gold make it a very memorable book, filled with magic and mystery. It has a durability to it, making me feel assured it can withstand the inevitable wax drippings that I will get on it while using the handy references in the appendixes. The pages are laden with purple section headers and extremely helpful and well-crafted imagery, making it a very visually appealing book to read.

There are fifteen chapters and five appendices, in addition to a foreword and introduction. Obviously, I can hardly touch on everything covered in the breadth and scope of this book, but I will do my first to highlight some favorites and share my experiences in reading the book. One thing I noticed immediately is that it was very useful to read the book in the order it’s written. While I was itching to get started on my candle magic from the get-go, I saw how patience would yield the best results. You know, it’s fire, which has a quick, action-oriented feeling to it elementally, but working with the fire, tending to it, and mastering it required a whole skill set I had yet to cultivate, which lucky Madame Pamita was providing from square one.

What I realized most as I worked my way through the book was the subtle nuances to the craft of candle magic. Suddenly, I wanted a candle snuffer, wick trimmer, and new candle holders. I fully plan on dedicating a portion of Summer of 2021 to learning to create my own candles, hand-picking the waxes and scents best suited for the work I want to do. I ordered wax to create my own sigil seal, and also bought new paper specifically for writing out my petitions. All these small details seem to be adding up to make a big difference to the ways in which my spellwork manifests.

Madame Pamita has lit a fire within me to explore this type of magic, which really resonates with my husband and my fire moons and ascendent. It’s been a fun practice to share with him as well. So far, we’ve gone combing the beach for different sea shells to use in our candle magic, which was inspired by one of my favorite sections of the appendixes titled “List of Magical Shells.” There are also lists for magical herbs, gems, and talismans to be incorporated into one’s candling workings. I’ve also spruced up my herb collection and become more mindful of simple talismans I can incorporate into the work.

In addition to being very conversational in the book, Madame Pamita is also very pragmatic and conscious of the impact of her words. I say this because she’ll give small suggestions to make this work more eco-friendly, for those who are mindful of the effects on the environment. After reading the section about how even the way the candles are lit can have an impact, noting the debate between matches and lights, I decided to purchase a rechargeable electric light that seems to bring a bit of Uranian energy to the spellwork. I value that now I can even intuitively know which type of energy I want to light my candles with, increasing the spell potency. She also warns against leaving candles lit unattended or nearby curtains. While these seems like common sense, I applaud Madame Pamita for ensuring the safety of those she is guiding through this work. Sometimes gentle reminders are needed to be mindful in our workings. I say this because I do have a tendency to knock things over a lot! 🙂

There is also plenty of information shared about incorporating the magical energies of numerology, astrology, and the art candle reading. Not only am I now able to create candles with my more awareness of blending energy, I can also use the candles as a form of divination to see how the spell may play out. Madame Pamita covers wax reading (ceromacy), interpreting the flames of the fire (pyromancy), and smoke reading (capnomancy). This section was so useful for adding a new repertoire of knowledge of these forms of reading candles, and it certainly made my connection to the candles and the spellwork more intimate.

My next undertaking is going to be multi-day candle magic. I think now I’ve gotten the basics down, and I believe following Madame Pamita’s wisdom I can take it to the next level. One thing that’s for sure, I will be carefully planning it out. Now that I know how smaller candles can support a master candle, and that I can burn multiple candles over the course of days or divide one larger candle into sections, I feel like I have more potential to work with.

At any magician’s heart I think lay a desire for immense creativity and freedom in how we bring our spells to life, as they are cast from the very depth of our being. This is what Madame Pamita has offered above all in The Book of Candle Magic — the information to craft spells that are unique to you. With her knowledge and insight, there are so many ways a practitioner can take this book and run with it in all sorts of directions. It is a one-stop shop for all things candle magic, offering a plethora of guidances, advice, and tips.

Candle magicians of all levels will find something useful in this book, and it’s one that I know will be kept on hand for a long time to come. I am feeling called to end this with a heartfelt thank you to Madame Pamita for sharing so much of her accumulated knowledge all in one book. I feel like I cannot state the value of this writing enough, and I am so grateful for all the insight, inspiration, and opportunity it’s given me to expand my candle magic craft.