✨ A Gathering Place for Magical Readers and Writers ✨

Ho’oponopono, by Ulrich E. Duprée

Ho’oponopono: The Hawaiian Ritual of Forgiveness, by Ulrich E. Duprée
Earthdancer Books, 978-1644118801, 112 pages, September 2023

“Ho’oponopono is a simple way to regain unity, inner peace, and harmony.”1

The quote above is a deceptively simple statement about a practice that in application is difficult for one to embrace, particularly in a society that is hyper-vigilant about who has done what to me. How can I retaliate when forgiveness is not part of the equation. Ho’oponopono: The Hawaiian Ritual of Forgiveness by Ulrich E. Duprée is a small, yet powerful book of self-healing and forgiveness so that we may offer the same state of grace to others.

“Ho’oponopono is a way of solving and resolving internal and external problems and conflicts while at the same time healing relationships: your relationship with yourself, with other people, and with your environment.”2

Ho’oponopono is separated into four main sections with an introductory portion entitled, “The Adventure Begins”. The reader immediately is drawn into the concept that the practice of Ho-oponopono is more than simply reciting special words, offering up specific emotions, and then going about your daily activities until the next “flare up” that needs forgiveness arises. It is indeed an adventure that requires self-reflection, honesty, and most importantly a continued stance of SELF love and forgiveness. Duprée gently reminds the reader throughout that the reconciliation at the level of self is first and foremost in the deeper meaning and success of the Ho-oponopono practices. 

The subsequent sections–“What is Ho-oponopono?”, “The Spiritual Laws-Ho’oponopono in Practice”, and “The Desire For Peace”– take the reader through the nuts and bolts of the history and evolution of the Ho’oponopono ritual and its application within any culture’s beliefs. Duprée also masterfully weaves core principles of living in harmony with all life, respect for all life, and the interconnectedness of all life.

I especially took note of the section, “The Core of the Simplified Ho’oponopono”. This core has been rendered down by Duprée into four statements:

As soon as something annoys you, whenever you feel like turning around and running away from a situation, and especially whenever someone is “pushing your buttons”, please join me in first saying to yourself:
I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Thank you.3

He discusses each at length, and although the initial response of many would be that of feeling a contradiction to forgiveness towards the situation/individual that you feel victimized by, this speaks volumes to the verbiage of we are all connected and the actual implementation of recognizing that in the heat of the moment.

There are many exercises throughout Ho’oponopono that are brief in what is asked, but if used wisely, reveal and transform the reader’s perspective and view of themself, others, and our collective place in the world. 

Duprée covers multiple aspects of humanity’s existence and these are woven into the Ho-oponopono practices of restoring health, balance in work and home, global implications, and challenges and ultimately the desire for peace and everyone’s role in that aspiration.

Would I recommend?

Ho’oponopono is one of those rare books that looks by appearance to be a “light” read, suited more to those who have interest or personal resonance with Hawaiian practice and spirituality. But there is nothing “light” about this book, other than perhaps the enlightened state that is possible for those who take the time to read, self-reflect, and then apply. This should be a required read for everyone who has felt victimized, who desires harmony, who seeks to be the “change” we often speak of, who wants to remember that regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or geographical location, we all want to acknowledged, heard, loved and feel safe in giving love and forgiveness. Ho’oponopono is absolutely point-on for these troubling times. It’s definitely a keeper and a life-long lesson to be referenced frequently. 

About the Author:

Ulrich Emil Duprée is a spiritual seeker, visionary, and seminar leader. He has studied both Western and Eastern philosophy and lived in a Hindu monastery for four years. He has taught Ho‘oponopono, the ritual of forgiveness, since his mystical initiation by a Hawaiian Kahuna priest in 2009. The is also the author of Family Constellations. He currently lives in Germany.

The Madonna Secret, by Sophie Strand

The Madonna Secret, by Sophie Strand
Bear & Company, 159143467X, 608 pages, August 2023

A tale as old as time, the tragic story of lovers parted by fate, is what one might expect for a Shakesphere play, but the roots of Christianity? Not so much. Yet the tale artfully woven together in The Madonna Secret by Sophie Strand is by far the most epic love story I have read to date.

Strand is an enticing writer, drawing the reader slowly into the stories with descriptive words that bring the setting to life. Her website describes how her work “focuses on the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and ecology” 1 These themes clearly come through in The Madonna Secret, which is a historic fictional novel based on the gospel through a feminist lens.

The story is centered upon Miriam of Bethany and her family, including siblings Lazaros (Lazarus), known for his resurrection by Jesus, and Marta (Martha). The family dynamics are centerfold for this story, highlighting gender inequalities and “norms” in both religious and social context. Miriam dances to the beat of her own heart, but struggles with finding her place when she doesn’t fit in with the women and yearns for the knowledge of scripture limited to men’s access only.

Through attending births with her housemaid Kemet, who is from Egypt, Miriam learns the secrets of herbal healing and that she, surprisingly, has the ability to heal people with her touch. However, she is also prone to fits and fainting, which others believe is from demon possession. Her ability and episodes sparks many questions as she seeks to know more about her healing ability – why can she heal some and not others? Is this a power from God or could it be used for harm too? How is she even able to perform such feats?

Despite her deep internal quest, Miriam’s life as a young woman of this time continues forward, and she becomes betrothed to a wealthy spice merchant. Yet when she suffers another episode, her family decides it’s in her best interest to seek healing. Miriam and Lazoros set out on a quest, and soon enough, they find themselves at the camp of Yochanan. Yochanan is not the only healer here though; much of the community also revels in the stories of Yeshua around the campfire. There’s a subtle undercurrent of a growing divide between the two men.

At this juncture, Miriam and Yeshua both feel the inexplicable pull of destiny as their paths cross more. However, now that she’s been healed, Miriam returns to her life in Bethany. Without giving too many spoilers into the twists and turns of their love story, I will say the rest of the story follows the passionate romance between Miriam and Yeshua. Their similarities and contrasts both, pulling them together and repelling them at the same time, shaping the fate of the world in the meanwhile.

Now that the general premise is outlined, and keeping in mind this is a 600-page book filled to the brim with details, textures, and revelation that my short synopsis hardly covers, I need to share my own feelings about the text: I have been permanently internally shifted, turned around, and rearranged after reading this book on the deepest level. The profound places Strand’s writing was able to take me within myself, uncovering buried parts of my psyche and cracking open my heart, has left me a new person. I know this might sound dramatic or perhaps an embellishment, but it truly is not.

Thus far in my life, as an avid reader, I have never experienced the afterglow I’ve been basking in from this book. All the sorrow, grief, and love bundled within have been pouring through me and silently working their magic. It’s been over a week now and I haven’t been able to move onto a new book yet because everything else feels shallow in comparison. The Madonna Secret has hold on me; the message of the story has sunk deep into my bones, activating my consciousness, allowing me to perceive the evolution of Christianity in a new light.

As someone who has studied Christianity through a feminist lens, nothing has tied pieces together for me more than this book. And I think it’s the power of narrative, which Strand has mastered, that is what propels shifts in consciousness. It’s one thing to read the actual gospel, another to read feminist theologian’s perspectives based on their academic research, but to take the source material and transform it into such a profound story is brilliance and talent beyond comprehension. I’m so thoroughly impressed by Strand’s writing ability and keen insight into how all these pieces fit together.

The Madonna Secret is a story that will continue to live on in my heart forever. Upon reading the last sentence, I quietly – and completely unconsciously – whispered to myself, “This is the best book ever…”. I had no words; the activation of my soul was in motion. I’ve done my best to string together cohesive thoughts in this review, yet even as I’m writing, all I’m feeling is the love within my body that has taken residence since bearing witness to Miriam’s journey. 

Strand has truly rewritten the narrative of Christianity in a way that makes sense and heals. I hope to see the activation of this book spread far and wide, which is why I have already gifted copies of it to those I know will be open to its message. Little by little these shifts in consciousness, which reconnect the material and spiritual, realigning humanity and nature, masculine and feminine, and the mundane and divine, is what will create a new world view. Strand is a pioneer voice, reshaping the mythos and landscape to give voice for those who need it most: the land, the animals, the outcasts, and the women!

As Miriam says:

“I am here for the trees. The women. The children. The birds. I am not here for the men who would hurt them all.”2

The Book of Nordic Self-Care, by Elisabeth Carlsson

The Book of Nordic Self-Care: Find Peace and Balance Through Seasonal Rituals, Connecting with Nature, Mindfulness Practices, and More, by Elisabeth Carlsson
CICO Books, 9781800652668, 144 pages, October 2023

Beauty, peace, balance, nourishment – this and so much more is what you’ll encounter when you hold The Book of Nordic Self-Care: Find Peace and Balance Through Seasonal Rituals, Connecting with Nature, Mindfulness Practices, and More by Elisabeth Carlsson in your hands. I guarantee you that the experience of engaging with the recommendations and inspiring photographs will seep into your heart and your daily experiences.

Carlsson is a master at bringing to life how to engage in self-care the Nordic way. For those geographically challenged as I sometimes am, the Nordic countries include Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Aland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. These are countries with extreme weather and fluctuations in the amount of sunlight that residents experience annually, yet, “the Nordic countries usually come in the top five happiest countries of the World Happiness Report.”1 

The approach to Nordic self-care moves beyond getting cozy with hygge. Yes, it embraces comfort, serenity, friends, and relaxation. But it expands to a holistic way to find balance in a world that is often out of balance. As Elisabeth writes, “self-care is often about balance…”2. It’s about finding joy in everyday things, nourishing one’s self from the inside out, being mindful about what you put into your body and into your head. The Nordic way of living encourages the individual to feel safe  and if you feel safe, you can thrive.

There are five focuses in the book: natural health and beauty, nourishing food for all seasons, nature and forest, the home and seasonal living, and a balanced life. Encompassed within these sections is all the reader needs to know to embrace the Nordic way of life. There are recipes for food and beauty regimes. There is a knitting pattern for those who are interested in making a Fair Isle pompom hat! Elisabeth writes of nature foraging – and even includes ways to engage in this in the city. Friluftsliv, or free open-air life? There are many ways to experience this.

Carlsson reminds us that balance (lagom in Swedish) is a key. Balance the rat race with encounters with nature, balance the darkness with light, balance the need to do things quickly with a slowed down coffee break with friends. You get the idea.

Choice is another key. Choose to take care of yourself. This is not selfish, it’s life-affirming. Choose to eat seasonally. Choose nature-based products for make-up and lotions. Notice what you feed your body. Be mindful of the habits you do perpetuate. For those who are seeking a simplified way of life, The Book of the Nordic Self becomes a guide.

One of the sections that resonated with me was on dostadning, or the Swedish art of decluttering that has come to be known as Swedish death cleaning. I am learning to embrace dostadning, as I am now “of a certain age” I look around my house and wonder if my daughters will know why I cherish certain items. Do they know the history and significance of these things? At other times I look around and wonder why I still have items in my life that no longer have to do with who I am now. Dostadning encourages one to “imagine someone else having to clear up your house.”3 It’s not really about death and dying but more about you purging your things before it’s left to someone else. You’ll feel lighter and you’ll save friends and loved ones the challenge of a massive clean out. I’ll focus on doing this to feel lighter and uncluttered and table the death part. 

The information in this book is not sugar-coated. Carlsson writes about burnout and the high use of antidepressants in Nordic countries, as well as the Law of Jante, or need to conform or be part of the collective. As she writes, “despite all the benefits of the Nordic countries it’s clear that there are still some things that aren’t perfect, but maybe because of this, we can gain wisdom from how the Nordics manage stress and overwhelm.”4 I appreciate her approach because it introduce readers to the Nordic lifestyle without idealizing it, providing an honest look at the benefits without turning a blind eye to where improvements can be made. 

Additionally, this whole book is very visual, and the photographs are amazing – think Ikea on steroids. I became calm just by looking at them. As someone who has yet to visit the Nordic countries, the photos gave me a better understanding of the area’s aesthetic.

Overall, The Book of Nordic Self-Care is a treasure. I highly recommend that you read this book if you are on a self-care. Exploring the practices of another culture is a great way to gain insight into your own life, bringing inspiration about how you might cultivate more self-care in your life. Allow the messages to seep into your life and I’m certain you’ll feel the warmth of the Nordic culture infusing your soul.

Surfing the Galactic Highways, by Barry Goddard

Surfing the Galactic Highways: Adventures in Divinatory Astrology, by Barry Goddard
Moon Books, 978-1803410104, 216 pages, January 2023

“This book is aimed at anyone who has a little bit of knowledge of astrology upwards. Astrology is one of those subjects that enters your bones, and if it is there, then it is there, however much or however little you know. It is a primordial connection to the sky that many of us feel.”1

The quote above succinctly expresses the intention of Surfing the Galactic Highways: Adventures in Divinatory Astrology by Barry Goddard. The twenty-one (21) chapters cover an expansive and fresh perspective that differs from the usual books on astrology and often a more mechanical approach that forms a less intuitive structure for the reader. The visual appeal draws the reader in simply in the cover art work and the colors used and imagery, which exude a playful approach. It is reminiscent of the required dioramas that we crafted as children in elementary school. 

Lest, this playful first encounter set the tone for frivolity in the content, there is an abundance of practical and very relatable information within the pages of this title. To that point, “Chapter 1: The Power of Astrology” begins with the First Vaccination Chart reflecting the date when Margaret Keenan (UK), received the first dose of the COVID vaccine on December 8th, 2020. Using this as a starting point for the innate power of astrology as a predictive tool grounded in the present celestial events, Goddard creates the fertile space of return to inclusion of a sentient and accessible Universe as a tool of free will and intention…. 

“Astrology enchants the universe in an age when that enchantment has been replaced by the notion of a dead universe, that the universe is just a thing and we are just one more thing in it. We are the first people in history to entirely forget our roots in spirit, in the sense that consciousness is fundamental.”2

As you move through the chapters of this book, there is a sense of being part of an adventure in exploration of the astrological basics versus the academia of the subject matter. “Chapter 2: Keeping it Simple” exemplifies this approach beautifully. Goddard provides the reader and novice with just enough astrological information to make sense of the deeper explorations of the components of astrological practice. 

“I like to keep astrology simple, because it is then easier to remain close to the symbolism. When you are close to the symbolism, when you feel it strongly, it can speak through you. Anyone can learn the set of meanings of the planets and signs and put them together to read a chart. A computer can do that. But that is not astrology, because it is not the gods speaking through you, but the intellect, which needs to be the servant, not the master.”3

This simple approach is sampled in the reading of Barack Obama’s chart – only containing the Sun, Moon and Rising signs. The lesson here is one of using the highlights (Sun, Moon, and Rising) information as the starting points for analysis of an individual chart. The reader is reminded of the deep, albeit for many unconscious, knowing we have of the two largest celestial bodies of reference we have access to directly: the Sun and the Moon. This concept follows the idea of connection and symbolism and allows those very common things to speak through the astrological reading by way of what is already established as a connection to the reader’s ideology of what the Sun and Moon mean to them beyond astrological purposes. 

Goddard provides all of the usual information sought after by those looking to astrology with specific intentions. “Prediction, Political Astrology and Bad Astrology” (Chapter 3), “Relationships” (Chapter 4), “Astrology, Divination and Science” (Chapter 10) and “The Elemental Balance” (Chapter 11) are just a few of the highlights that would satisfy the more traditional approach.  But, the more interesting perspectives can be found in chapters such as these: “Trusting in Death” (Chapter 8), “Tweaking Our Creation Mythologies” (Chapter 12), “The Geography of the Underworld” (Chapter 21) and others that pique the reader’s curiosity about entwining astrological concepts into more expansive areas of consideration. 

Throughout Surfing the Galactic Highways, the underpinnings of a scientific approach to astrology are woven with the mythos of sign and planet and the symbolism becomes one infused with reality and intuitive creativity. Each chapter is primed with visual examples of charts that have been simplified in how much is contained within, allowing the reader to properly digest the concepts presented and create new pathways of understanding that can at a later date be expanded upon. 

Would I Recommend?

In Surfing the Galactic Highways, Goddard has successfully taken some very dry and often challenging principles of astrology and crafted them in such a way that makes them relatable to everyone at all layers of knowledge base. Goddard’s writing style is one that elicits an ease of reading that is similar to that of sitting and discussing a complicated subject with a patient and enthusiastic friend whose only goal is one of wanting to share their passion for that topic. All in all, this book is an excellent resource for those who wish to explore the many uses of astrological application and enjoy the journey of new awakenings. 

About the Author: Barry Goddard

In his twenties and thirties, Goddard was engaged in Buddhist practice, but for the last 25 years the main currents have been astrology and shamanism. He regularly writes blogs and Facebook posts about both shamanism and astrology, to which he brings a fresh and sometimes controversial perspective.

The Magic of the Orphic Hymns, by Tamra Lucid and Ronnie Pontiac

The Magic of the Orphic Hymns: A New Translation for the Modern Mystic, by Tamra Lucid and Ronnie Pontiac
Inner Traditions, 1644117207, 288 pages, August 2023

The mythical musician Orpheus charmed fish, sirens, and weary heroes with his songs while sailing with Jason and the Argonauts in pursuit of the Golden Fleece, but he is best known for his doomed love affair with Eurydice, who died after she was bitten by a snake while fleeing a rapist on their wedding day. Orpheus was so distraught that he descended into the Underworld and convinced Persephone, the Queen of the Dead, to resurrect his wife, on the condition that he not look back while leading her out of Hades.

However, in his eagerness to reunite with her, he couldn’t resist the urge to turn around, and she slipped away from him once again. Upon returning to the surface without his beloved wife, he founded the mystery religion that bears his name and the maenads tore him apart, mirroring the dismemberment of Dionysus by the Titans. A collection of 87 religious poems, known as the Orphic Hymns, were attributed to this cult hero, though the true origin and authorship of them is shrouded in mystery. 

In The Magic of the Orphic Hymns: A New Translation for the Modern Mystic, co-authors Tamra Lucid and Ronnie Pontiac revitalize the traditional hymns with fresh new poetic renderings in contemporary English. Like Orpheus, the husband and wife duo are mystical musicians themselves, who founded the experimental rock band Lucid Nation. Both were initiated into the underground music and occult scene of Los Angeles, and Pontiac apprenticed under the metaphysical scholar Manly Palmer Hall. Lucid wrote about their experiences in Making the Ordinary Extraordinary: My Seven Years in Occult Los Angeles with Manly Palmer Hall (2021).

The authors first began working with the hymns in the 1980s, when Pontiac assisted members of Hall’s Philosophical Research Society with a republication of Thomas Taylor’s eighteenth-century translation titled The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus. Pontiac, who was studying ancient Greek in college at the time, was inspired to write his own translation, and Lucid researched the ritual correspondences. Together, they produced the poetic renditions of the traditional hymns contained within this book. 

My go-to translation for the past decade has been The Orphic Hymns by Apostolos N. Athanassakis (2013), which is an excellent scholarly resource with extensive footnotes. I was drawn to Lucid and Pontiac’s more flexible poetic interpretations because I’m always looking for beautiful prayers to incorporate into my personal rituals and I thought this book might move me to craft my own hymns as well. However, The Magic of the Orphic Hymns is more than just a divinely inspired poetry collection, and I was impressed by the comprehensive historical background information the authors provide. 

In the first half of the book, Lucid and Pontiac explore the origins of Orphism from a well-researched, scholarly perspective, and the influence of Orpheus, “the first rock star,”1 on great minds throughout history. Through their engaging narrative voices, they have a knack for making what might otherwise be dry history entertaining, and this work is peppered with fascinating anecdotes about philosophers and Roman emperors. The far-reaching spiritual influence of Orphism interested me the most, and I was intrigued to learn that the early Christians saw Orpheus’s underworld journey to rescue his beloved wife as mirroring Christ’s harrowing of hell and the liberation of the virtuous souls trapped there.2 

Defining the religion of Orphism is tricky, and scholars have debated if it even existed at all.

“Orphic may have been a catch-all phrase in ancient Greece for anything neither Homeric nor Olympian,” writes Lucid and Pontiac. “The phrase could be a generic category for a cluster of related interests, like New Age in our own culture.”3

According to the Neoplatonist philosopher Olympiodorus, Orphics believed that human beings were created when Zeus struck the Titans by lightning after they cannibalized Dionysus. Humanity is therefore like an electrified Frankenstein monster composed of heavenly Dionysian spirit and corrupt Titanic flesh. Through the cycle of reincarnation, the Orphics supposedly taught that humans could purge themselves of their Titanic impurities over the course of multiple lifetimes and liberate their Dionysian divinity.

Followers of the Orphic mysteries led austere lives and restricted their diets by abstaining from meat and beans. However, authors Lucid and Pontiac state that Olympiodorus is the only source for the Titanic origin myth of humanity being Orphic and the Italian scholar Domenico Comparetti concluded that the Orphics believed in reincarnation based on his writings, so this is an educated guess supported by scant evidence. 4

Lucid and Pontiac’s exploration of Orpheus’s wife in a chapter titled, “The Evolution of Eurydice” was especially compelling to me. In the earliest sources, Eurydice is nameless, faceless, and voiceless. She is a shadow projection of Orpheus’s mourning and yearning to possess the woman who was stolen from him by death. She is an ancient victim of the male gaze, doomed to serve as muse for a famous musician while having no true identity of her own. 

Her elusive character acquired more substance in retellings. I was fascinated to learn that a name for Eurydice in some early versions of the myth was Agriope, which means “Wild-Eyed.”5 This caught my attention because Agriope is also an epithet for Hekate, the goddess of ghosts and witchcraft, in her capacity as leader of the restless dead. Under the name Agriope, Orpheus’s wife appears to be a hungry ghost sent by the Queen of the Underworld to haunt him. 

The authors suggest that Eurydice, whose name means “Wide Justice,”6 sounds more like an epithet for the goddess Persephone in her role as judge of souls than the name of a mortal wife. I’m inclined to agree, because I find the parallels between Persephone and Eurydice to be striking. Eurydice died of a snake bite after a shepherd or satyr attempted to rape her on the day of her wedding to Orpheus, and according to the Orphic Hymn to Persephone, Zeus raped Persephone in the form of a serpent. The fruit of that unspeakable union was Dionysus. Through her untimely death, Eurydice was, in a sense, abducted by Hades, and through Orpheus’s descent into the Underworld, he was reborn as a Dionysian mystic.

Persephone herself is a key figure in the myth for taking pity upon Orpheus and permitting Eurydice’s return to the land of the living, on the condition that he not look back, lest he lose her forever. Yet, despite this warning, he could not resist the urge to do so. In medieval times, Orpheus’s backward glance “was a symbol of human weakness, illustrating the way even the most dedicated among us, the holiest, cannot escape those moments of desire for material pleasures.”7

Carl Jung interpreted Orpheus’s “backward glance” as “a symbol of individuation and the achievement of autonomy.”8 Orpheus was fated to lose the love of his life so he would become the renowned mystic and musician he was destined to be. Sometimes the obligations of a relationship can limit one’s ability to pursue the soul’s true calling, and so Orpheus’s romantic hindrance was removed by the force of death, while simultaneously being used as a guiding light to propel him forward.

This poignant insight resonated deeply with me because I have observed in my own life that love lost or unrequited can be a powerful catalyst for personal growth and transformation. Limerence, or romantic obsession for someone unattainable, can serve a higher purpose when it is sublimated into artistic and spiritual pursuits. When I think back on it, it seems that heartbreak was the catalyst for every major breakthrough and turning point in my life, as if the Universe was redirecting me towards something greater, even though I felt devastated at the time. 

The second half of this book contains the “Orphic Charms and the Sacred Songs of Orpheus.” The authors have taken creative liberties with their loose translations of the Orphic Hymns, creating “a poetic work, not a scholarly translation.”9

The charms consist of the cryptic messages that were inscribed on the Orphic golden leaves, which were buried with the deceased as “passwords for the dead, messages to avert forgetfulness.”10 My favorite charm tells the departed initiate what words they must speak to the guardians of the lake of memory in order to drink from it:

“I am a child of earth/and of starry heaven,/but my race is of heaven./This you know./I am parched/and perishing./Give me cold water/from the lake of memory.”11

One of my favorite hymns is addressed to Hermes, who is cleverly described with homophones as the “lover of prophets/and profits”.12 I also adore the hymn to Persephone, in which she is honored as “the star/at the core of the apple.”13 The beautiful aquatic imagery of “The Nereids” reminds me of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”: “Daughters of Nereus,/you live in the golden castle/at the bottom of the sea./Your steeds are Tritons,/the mermen with wings./You delight in the creatures/of the billowing brine.”14

The Magic of the Orphic Hymns is a poetic odyssey through the history and mystery of Orphism that makes the traditional hymns more accessible to contemporary mystics by rendering them in vivid modern English. Anyone who is curious about the Orphic tradition or interested in revitalizing the hymns in their personal practice will benefit from reading this book. These pages want to be perfumed in incense and awakened with whispered incantations.

Tree Wisdom, by Alice Peck

Tree Wisdom: A Journey of Wisdom, Symbols, Healing, and Renewal, by Alice Peck with illustrations by Melissa Launay
CICO Books, 1800652631, 144 pages, September 2023

Full transparency, I’m a tree hugger. I live on a property that is home to many trees, mostly pine. I hug them, I talk to them constantly. I share my life with them, I ask for their advice. They’ve seen my children grow up, move away, and return with their own children. And today, as I write, the old tree that is in the front of the property, is being cut down. I avoided it for so long, but the majority of the tree is dead and is dropping limbs onto the road that could harm a pedestrian or someone in a car. I made my peace with the tree and thanked it, but I have to admit the grinding of the wood chipper is unnerving. The irony of the fact that it’s being cut down as I write about Tree Wisdom: A Journey of Wisdom, Symbols, Healing, and Renewal, by Alice Peck is not lost on me.

Peck shares a similar love and appreciation of trees. The kernel of the book started with a relationship that she had with a maple tree, one that was a part of her life and amazingly survived Hurricane Sandy. Peck understands the wisdom that trees impart, if we are willing to listen, to engage with and to, as she encourages, be more tree.  As she observes, we all have access to trees, no matter where we live. She shares how trees move and steady her.

The book is divided into four “useful but arbitrary”1 sections: “Roots”, “Branches”, “Leaves”, and “Seeds”. Each section profiles a type of tree accompanied by Melissa Launay’s colorful illustrations. There are also quotes for each profiled tree from a myriad of individuals from Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman philosopher, to poets such as George Marion McClellan and Walt Whitman, and to authors such as Virginia Woolf. Also, for each tree, Peck includes either a suggestion. These suggestions range from how to tree bathe to how to dine on fruits of trees.

The section “Roots” revolves around wisdom, lore, understanding, and, of course, on foundation – our foundations, be they family and/or cultural. She encourages the reader to “consider how we are rooted in time.”2 The interconnectedness of tree systems, whether roots are shallow or run deep, the tenacity of trees to survive. In this section, I particularly liked the profile of Cinnamon and its importance in trade.

The trees in the “Branches” section are associated with symbols, myths, and rituals. Peck shares that for her all trees have meaning, in a general sense and in a very personal way. Many will  develop a relationship with a certain tree or grove of trees that are in their lives; the tree you pass every day, the trees you visit every year on a vacation – all personal.

Healing, science, and practical applications are the focus of the “Leaves” section. Leaves are the most obvious way that most of us use to identify trees. “Just as every tree has a specific leaf identity, many trees heal in a specific way.”3

The “Seeds” section is all about awareness, transformation, and spirituality. “Trees are a lesson in transformation – from a pip and a promise to towering and enduring.” (102) Peck meditates on whether the trees that she sees were planted on purpose or “just the miracle of the wind and weather?”4 She focuses on how trees teach us about hope, transformation, tending to, quiet, solitude and community, healing, and endurance.

“They’re also the way that humans can touch the future. A seed is a promise, a hope, and it’s not just the promise that trees make to us, but the promise that we make to trees – for what’s a tree without the planting, tending, and the protection?”5

The book ends with the profile of the Sequoia, some of which are over 2,000 years old, which was just one of many facts I learned while reading. For instance, I’ll admit to not having known that Frankincense is a tree until I read this book. Its resin is prized and in the New Testament its resin was offered as one of the gifts from the Magi to the baby Jesus. Ayurvedic medicine uses it for healing.

I found myself feeling very zen while flipping through the pages. Launay’s illustrations are bright and colorful, but also convey a sense of calm and stability, just like the towering presence of trees. While Peck shares insights about each tree, Launay captures the tree’s spirit, bringing them to life.

I recommend Tree Wisdom without reservation, and I suggest that you read at least part of it in the company of a tree. The multiple angels Peck approaches our loving tree friends will surely bring inspiration and refreshment to your spirit. Now, I will go to the nursery and select a sapling to plant at the site where my old tree was just felled!

Pagan Portals – The Norns, by Irisanya Moon

Pagan Portals – The Norns: Weavers of Fate and Magick, by Irisanya Moon
Moon Books, 1789049105, 112 pages, August 2023

From the Weird Sisters in Shakespeare’s Macbeth to the three witches in Disney’s 1993 cult classic Halloween film Hocus Pocus, the Triple Goddess of Fate haunts pop culture, bewitching the masses in the form of three meddlesome hags. Fate’s commercial success in such unflattering incarnations betrays how terrifying the concept of predestination is to contemporary Westerners who tenaciously cling to the secular cult of Free Will, despite the audacious philosophers and neuroscientists like Sam Harris who have declared that free will is an illusion. According to Harris, the conscious mind may believe it’s in control, but it only acts out decisions that have already been made by the subconscious mind. 1 Some people may even become enraged by the idea that there is no such thing as free will, because our culture places such high value on accepting personal responsibility for our successes and failures in life. There is a deep collective fear of not having control over our destinies.  

In Pagan Portals – The Norns: Weavers of Fate and Magic, author, witch, and priestess Irisanya Moon reveals that the ancient Norse had a more holistic view, and saw Fate, or Wyrd, as an intricate web that both includes and transcends us. The Norns, the trio of mysterious goddesses who personify Fate in Norse mythology, are ubiquitous spirits, unseen yet all-pervasive, ever weaving the fabric of space and time. They occupy the liminal spaces, moving through us and around us, forever spinning the wheel of the Cosmos, and their spindle of Fate pricks the thumbs of both gods and mortals alike.

Because of their ubiquity, the Norns can be difficult to define. There are the primary three, named Urd, the Norn of What Was, who is associated with the past and creates the thread of life; Verdandi, the Norn of Becoming, or the present moment, who measures the thread of life; and Skuld, the Norn of What Shall Be, who cuts the thread at the end of life. The Norns also include a collective of female ancestral spirits called the dísir, who watch over humanity. Additionally, Moon points out that “a common meaning for norn in modern Icelandic is ‘witch’ or ‘hag’.”2

Instead of rehashing Norse myths that can be found in other books, Moon guides readers to discover who the Norns are by fostering intimate relationships with them. She encourages personal gnosis of these divine beings through a variety of exercises, such as “Stepping into the Worlds of the Norns”3 through trance.

As Moon invited me to travel in spirit to the World Tree and visit the Wyrd Sisters, I was flooded with vivid imagery. In an eldritch forest, I saw the World Tree Yggdrasil towering above the other trees, its evergreen boughs silvered by moonlight, dripping lunar dew over the Well of Fate, pooling in an earthen basin formed by the vast network of knotted roots. Three shadowy maidens rose from the depths of the lake, shifting shape. They coalesced into a trinity of spiders, weaving the elastic web of the Multiverse in the boughs of the World Tree. Infinite worlds were reflected in the dewdrops of their infinite eyes. I began to think of Yggdrasil as a human body, my body. My spine became the tree’s trunk, a ladder of bone that could take me up to Asgard, the realm of the gods, or down into the depths of Hel, the Norse Underworld. I realized that all the trees in the forest around me were other people’s World Trees. We live in a Multiverse where everyone is their own Yggdrasil. 

“Everyone has a part of the wyrd, like a web, like a large woven tapestry,” Moon says. “My wyrd intersects with yours, perhaps. Yours intersects and pulls on mine. And all of this is what creates fate and destiny.”4

Together, we all shape Fate as a collective. 

I was drawn to this book because I’m a fatalist. I believe that free will is an illusion, but I think that we should behave as though we have free will, and make responsible choices to the best of our abilities, even if our subconscious mind has already made them for us. It appears to me that there are too many external factors limiting any supposed free will that we mortals may have, from mental programming imprinted upon us as children by our parents and the culture in which we were raised, to societal limitations that limit our mobility as adults. I think that when we act out what we believe is our free will and pursue our dreams, we are in fact acting out our soul’s true purpose and what we are destined to do. We are coming into alignment with our True Will, which is the will of Fate. 

I believe the excessive praise of individualism in Western civilization is harmful to the collective. The emphasis on individual free will and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps blinds us to systemic abuse and allows the continued oppression of large swathes of people. Everyone’s fate is connected. The focus on individualism creates the illusion that individuals are struggling alone. In truth, their struggles are shared with other people in similar circumstances, but in isolation, they are tricked into believing they should shoulder the burden of circumstances beyond their control all on their own. 

I appreciate how Moon compassionately addresses the ways that Fate encompasses circumstances beyond one’s control.

“Dismantling the structures of oppression requires the commitment to uncovering and understanding that people do not all have the same opportunities,” Moon says. “Many are born into places that limit and seek to continue to hold them back.”5

This thought-provoking book had me pondering the shared Fate of the collective, the interconnectedness of people’s individual threads, and how great an impact any word or action, however small it may seem at the time, can have on so many people. I can recall times when the actions of others have inadvertently shifted my path, and I am sure I have had the same effect on other people as well, in ways which I am not aware. Just as Moon says, “I can choose to meet my fate in a way that is honorable and respectful of the collective versus just being out for myself.”6

My sole criticism of this work is that the author’s well-meaning efforts to be all-inclusive were superfluous to the point of distraction. For example, Moon spells the word “gods” with double ds (“godds”), to make it more gender inclusive, which I don’t feel is necessary, because I read the word “gods” as gender neutral without a second thought, and my inner editor kept flagging it as a spelling error.7 

Moon also suggests that the gender of the dísir, who are traditionally female ancestors, may make some people uncomfortable, and “it might be more inclusive to expand this to those who birth or those who mother without being attached to gender.”8 I don’t understand why seeing the dísir as female matrons would be offensive, and I feel that we can learn more about their true essence by examining the traditional perceptions of these ancient spirits instead of projecting modern gender politics upon them. It would be far more interesting to explore why the dísir were perceived as female instead of dismissing their femininity and assigning them whatever gender feels more comfortable. I personally think the focus on female ancestors is beautiful because it emphasizes matrilineal descent, as opposed to our patriarchal society, which frets over paternity and erases the maternal line by only giving children the surname of the father. I feel that dismissing the female gender of the dísir only reinforces these patriarchal views. 

It’s no accident that the maternal line is also known as the distaff line. 9 The word distaff is derived from the Old English, dis, meaning “bundle of flax” and stæf, meaning “staff,” so the distaff is a staff on the spinning wheel that was wound with flax in preparation for spinning. Meanwhile, the strikingly similar Old Norse word dís means “goddess,” and the plural form of dísir means “goddesses.”10 Spinning was traditionally women’s work, and the dísir are the spinning goddesses, the collective ancestral mothers. They are inherently feminine, and I think it would be disrespectful to change that just because their gender might make some people feel uncomfortable.

I see the Thread of Fate as the umbilical cord, which nourishes the fetus in the womb and connects the unborn child to the well of ancestral memory (the well of Urd). When the baby is born, the umbilical cord stretches out and is measured by Verdandi, in that precious and fleeting moment when mother and child are still connected. When the cord is cut by the midwife Skuld, the neonate takes their first breath of spirit, and accepts the destiny that has been gifted to them by the Norns.  

I gained some wonderful insights into my personal perception of the Wyrd Sisters by experimenting with Moon’s exercises. While I prefer a more traditional view of the Norns, I feel that my disagreement with some of Moon’s progressive views produced creative tension that helped me further clarify my own relationship with these potent spirits.

Pagan Portals – The Norns: Weavers of Fate and Magick is a book that shifts one’s perspective from fearing Fate to embracing the mystery of how our individual fates intertwine with the world’s collective Fate and the greater destiny of the Multiverse. The exercises contained within encourage developing a personal connection with these transcendent powers through journaling, self-exploration, and trance work. For those who love journal prompts and guided meditations, this book can facilitate a deeper relationship with the mysterious spirits of Fate who watch over us all and guide us towards our destinies.

Undreaming Wetiko, by Paul Levy

Undreaming Wetiko: Breaking the Spell of the Nightmare Mind-Virus, by Paul Levy
Inner Traditions, 1644115662, 416 pages, May 2023

In the modern (mis)Information Age, a collective madness has possessed the mob through mainstream media. “Fake news,” conspiracy theories, and pernicious lies spread like wildfire across the internet, confusing the masses. Identity politics and outrage culture further divides people and eats them alive. Author Paul Levy calls this psychic disease that has infected humanity wetiko (pronounced “wet-tee-ko”), named after an evil cannibalistic spirit in Native American mythology.1

Levy’s vision of wetiko is informed by the integration of Buddhism, Jungian psychology, Gnosticism, western politics, and his personal traumatic experiences with “archetypal evil,” which manifested in his abusive father. By creatively appropriating the name wetiko, Levy found a potent way to personify the cross-cultural phenomenon of psychic blindness wreaking havoc on humanity.

In 1981, Levy had a shamanic initiation and spiritual awakening that was catalyzed by the trauma of abuse, during which he was hospitalized multiple times and misdiagnosed with manic depression (now known as bipolar disorder). Being institutionalized only traumatized him further, and these experiences made him conscious of the dreamlike nature of reality, opening his eyes to the psychospiritual illness of wetiko through firsthand experience. Levy broke free of the abusive psychiatric establishment and became an art teacher and wounded healer, assisting others in spiritual awakening as the founder of the Awaken in the Dream community, based in Portland, Oregon.

Levy has been writing about wetiko for more than twenty years, and has created his own acronyms for describing this elusive phenomenon. In his first book on the subject, titled The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis (2006), he referred to what he would later call wetiko as “malignant egophrenia, or ME disease,” because it clouds one’s self-perception, or identity.2 Levy expanded upon these insights and adopted the name wetiko in Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil (2013) and Wetiko: Healing the Mind-Virus that Plagues our World (2021). He also detailed his personal traumatic experiences in Awakened by Darkness: When Evil Becomes Your Father (2015).

In his sixth and latest book, Undreaming Wetiko: Breaking the Spell of the Nightmare Mind-Virus, Levy says that “finding the name for what is afflicting us is like a deliverance from a nightmare,”3 and “the cure for wetiko is to see it.”4 Naming this phenomenon objectifies it, calling it out into the open so that it can no longer hide in the shadows.

Levy asserts that wetiko is highly adaptive and has thrived on the internet as a “techno-virus.” 5 I was instantly hooked on this book because it gives a name for a psychic contagion I have observed online. I unplugged from the matrix of social media about a year ago and one of the main reasons I deleted all of my accounts was to protect my mind from the sensory overload of advertisements and other people’s opinions. I felt like I was being psychically drained every time I logged in, so learning about the “mind-virus” spread by the wetiko spirit objectified the overall bad vibes I was sensing when I was on socials.

Levy believes the best cure for this collective mental illness is to remove the mask of forged identity and get in touch with our true selves. Creative self-expression helps us connect with our authenticity. Like a stagnant pool of water mirroring a cloud of blood-sucking mosquitoes, the rise of social media and online influencers has given wetiko an internet breeding ground to further brainwash, confuse, and distort the perceptions of the masses, encouraging escapism through social media addiction and comparison to others instead of turning us within to seek the truth of who we are as individuals. Social media encourages identification with a false, filtered public persona, which is reinforced by how many likes people receive on their vacation pictures and selfies. Social media touches people’s deepest insecurities and exploits them.

We can’t connect with our authenticity if we hide behind filters and deny the flaws, secret pain, and traumas of our shadow selves. I believe the New Age Movement has also been hijacked by wetiko, because there is a toxic denial of negativity in this popular spiritual community in favor of love, light, and positive vibes only! which encourages complete denial and repression of the shadow aspect of the psyche. This kind of delusional spiritual bypassing and willful blindness gives wetiko a safe space to flourish and spread like cancer.

Wetiko is nourished by darkness, and thrives in our unconscious blind spots. Willful ignorance and denial makes us complicit in its devious workings. When we do so, Levy claims we are conspiring in the murder of Christ, crucifying the living light within. Embodying the salvific light of truth is the only thing that can restore our sight and liberate us.6

In Undreaming Wetiko, Levy reveals that this mind-virus originates and proliferates through abuse. Unresolved ancestral trauma, family curses, and child abuse are the gnarled poisonous roots of wetiko that burrow deep within our subconscious minds. When we incarnate into our family line, we inherit and unconsciously channel the collective ancestral trauma, giving it an opportunity for liberation through physical manifestation.

“Like a toxic entity,” Levy says, “this unprocessed trauma becomes an ancestral spirit that penetrates and insinuates itself into the core of the child’s being.” 7

This passage struck me as particularly illuminating, as it implies that part of our life purpose is to heal the unresolved ancestral trauma that was imprinted upon us at birth. This means it may manifest in our lives in such a way that we are forced to recognize and consciously work through it in order to fully process and resolve it. However, if we are unconscious and sleepwalking through life, we may become possessed by this spirit of ancestral trauma and recreate the abuse, thus perpetuating the cycle.

I resonated deeply with this section because I feel like I am alchemizing at least three generations of trauma through my maternal bloodline: the ancestral trauma my mother experienced and passed down to me, my personal trauma, and what I unconsciously projected onto my own children because of my unhealed wounds and life challenges.

“When parents repress their unconscious and do not responsibly do their inner work,” Levy says, “it radiates out into the family environment and infects the children, who will be compelled to live out the repressed, unconscious, unlived lives of the parents.”8

This psychic projection of unresolved trauma and emotional issues is what causes multigenerational family curses.

It’s easy to place blame on an abusive or neglectful parent, but I feel it’s important to recognize that they may have been overwhelmed by the radioactive psychic material they were attempting to transmute, and passed some of it down because it was simply too much for one person to handle. I believe that was the case with my own mother, who confided in me about her intense trauma, and believed she had broken the family curse over me in the name of Jesus. However, when she placed her palm upon the crown of my head and spoke in tongues, I felt the weight of that curse, and I believe my mother inadvertently transferred the burden of whatever she had repressed and denied onto me.

There is, however, hope. According to Levy, as we heal ourselves, we heal our entire family line. This is very reassuring to me, because I fear it’s too late to mend any damage I may have caused my own children while my wounded self was raising them, but this indicates that any private healing work I do now will benefit everyone in my family line, both past and future. Time is nonlinear, and as multidimensional spiritual beings, our healing work radiates throughout time and space, benefiting not only our direct lineages, but also the entirety of the human race.
Wetiko works through our blind spots. To see them, we have to be honest with ourselves about whether or not we are acting out or condoning the abusive behavior we are trying to heal within ourselves. This is what makes healing work so difficult. By being touched by abuse, we have absorbed and internalized it, and it can unconsciously seek expression through us.

So we have to be truthful with ourselves about how the abuse we have experienced is manipulating our own behavior and worldview. This can be really challenging because no one wants to identify with something that harmed them, and no one likes to admit they have the potential to cause the same harm to others. In fact, according to Levy, it’s important to not identify with it, which can cause feelings of despair and thwart the healing process. A delicate balance must be struck between owning our shadow impulses and not being defined by them.

Truth-tellers are one of the greatest threats to wetiko. When we share our emotionally-charged survival stories, and other people become angry and attack us, they are speaking for wetiko by reenacting the very abuse we are shedding light upon. Wetiko wants to silence us, and becomes embodied through our unhealed attackers, who attempt to shut us down and bully us when we speak our truth.

This can be re-traumatizing for us, but it can also be an opportunity to recognize that our words have deeply touched their own unintegrated and unconscious wounds, and we should not take their projections personally. Knowing that their perceptions of us are being clouded by their own unconscious wounding, which has been triggered, or re-activated, by our stories, we can deflect their projections and be more firmly grounded in our own truth.

Undreaming Wetiko is an essential text for those who are deep-diving into shadow work and healing ancestral trauma. I feel it validated a lot of my intuitive realizations about family curses and intensified my personal healing work by compelling me to journal more about my traumatic experiences. Levy’s insights have also helped me to identify the shadow projections I have absorbed from my parents that are not a part of my authentic self. I will likely reread this book in the future because there is a lot of excellent information that may require additional readings to fully metabolize. For those who are open and receptive to its teachings, Undreaming Wetiko is a phenomenal book that will assist in transformative healing breakthroughs and awaken the divine light within.

Real Sorcery, by Jason Miller

Real Sorcery: Strategies for Powerful Magick, by Jason Miller
Weiser Books, 1578638003, 256 pages, July 2023

Sorcery, the wielding mystical powers and tapping into otherworldly energies has captivated human imagination since the dawn of time. It is no wonder that sorcery has been a popular subject in literature, movies, and even video games. But what exactly is sorcery? How does it work? And can it really be practiced in the real world? These answers and more can be found in Real Sorcery: Strategies for Powerful Magick by Jason Miller, who assures readers that magic is real and with consistency and dedication everyone has the ability to become a sorcerer.

I was drawn to Real Sorcery because I knew that Jason Miller had lived in southern New Jersey, where I currently live, and connected with the “spirit of place”; he’s well known in the magical communities around here. I’ve always enjoyed his “keep it real” style of writing and the frank way he shares his magical insight. While I’ve been on his email list for quite some time now, which I highly recommend as an introduction to Miller’s work since he leads group spellwork and offers live classes throughout the year, the only book of his I have read previously is Financial Sorcery. Given that Financial Sorcery absolutely shifted my mindset in regard to wealth, aiding me in finding more lucrative jobs and creating a better financial situation overall, you would think I’d have picked up his other titles, such as Protection & Reversal Magick and Consorting with Spirits.

Luckily, like the titles just mentioned, Real Sorcery was recently republished with new commentary on Miller’s original text; in this case, Real Sorcery is the updated version of The Sorcerer’s Secrets: Strategies in Practical Magick (2009). The additional text from Miller adds a new layer of depth to the previous work, inviting readers old and new to see how his thoughts have changed (or not) over the past decade.

The content itself is rich as ever, filled to the brim with practical advice for readers wishing to learn more about how to take their magic practice to the next level. What I like most about Miller as a teacher is that he expects something from his students. He writes:

“If magick is a fantasy for you, then of course you want it all to just jump to life because of how magickal you are, but if we accept that Sorcery is real, with everything that implies, then that expectation should dissipate like fairy dust, revealing the truth that it takes work to get good at things, and that discipline and persistence will outperform natural talent at every turn.”1

Miller reminds the readers that magic is real, but so are certain conditions of our reality. Therefore, instead of relying on magic alone, his strategy is to work with the conditions in play rather than against them. And it goes without saying, this often takes a heap of self-awareness, willingness to learn from one’s mistakes, and resilience in the face of disappointments. For some, this might feel like a stripping of enchantment from their practice, but for many it’s a reassurance that with time and practice, one can improve their sorcery.

“Part One: Basic Training” is dedicated to teaching readers the basic magical foundation he operates from as a sorcerer, and it’s certainly eclectic! What stands out about Miller’s imparted wisdom is that he isn’t afraid to learn and work with various magical systems, as he recognizes the universal similarities that underlie different traditional systems. I want to frame it as a distillation of many great truths into a workable system for readers, but I say this without implying it’s reductive in any sense. In fact, I find his approach extremely liberating, and it helped me to see how the magical working of different paths and traditions are all working with the same planes and principles.

“Part Two: Strategic Sorcery” has chapters focused on various types of magical workings: divination, influence/persuasion, finance, protection, love/lust, and more! All the sections have information that is both magic and mundane, making it easy for readers to employ Miller’s wisdom in their practice at their current skill level. While sharing spells, chants, and other general “how-to” guidance, such as gesture and vocal commands and creating altars, Miller imparts so much first-hand knowledge of his own experience. I find this invaluable as a reader; I want to hear the stories of magical workings gone right and wrong to have a more well-rounded idea of what the heck I’m doing and the myriad of potential consequences.

While there’s plenty I’ve learned from this book, the current takeaways that are still churning in my mind are the reminder that I can determine my own magical ethics – Miller absolutely works in the gray area, leaving room for readers to decide what workings they’re comfortable with – and the concept that I don’t have to obsessively protect myself. For all I’ve learned about protection magic, Miller was the first person to acknowledge that too much protection and defense can actually hinder other types of magical working, such as spirit communication. These two insights overall seem to be pointing to a rebalancing of my current workings, giving me the confidence to venture into a new magical landscape.

For those of you ready to delve into the secrets of sorcery and explore the fascinating world of magic, Real Sorcery is a wonderful place to begin. Miller provides a wonderful foundation to begin your sorcery path or enhance your current level of skill. From the different types of spells and rituals to the potential benefits and risks of practicing magic, Miller cuts through the fluff to provide clear guidance. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is serious about starting or furthering their magical practice.

Old Stars, New Light by Daniel Guirchovitch

Old Stars, New Light: Astrology, Tarot and Runes, by Daniel Guirchovitch
Daniel Guirchovitch, 979-8987826300, 597 pages, April 2023

As someone who has studied astrology and tarot for over a decade, it can become quite boring reading the same reiterated information over and over again. While these descriptions of the characteristics of Sun in Capricorn or the Lovers card can provide insight at times, more often than not, it feels like there’s a general script being stuck to, ensuring the card is conveyed in the “correct” way. As a natural rebel and information seeker, I yearn for a fresh perspective on the esoteric arts. Old Stars, New Light: Astrology, Tarot, and Runes by Daniel Guirchovitch provides just that, and reading it over the past months has revived my passion and curiosity for the celestial insight and divine knowledge accessible when we extend our perception and invite in wisdom from beyond.

This book is unique in the span of time it took to collect the material and the methodology of how the information was obtained. For over 26 years Guirchovitch spoke with Elias, energy personality essence channeled by Mary Ennis, about topics related to astrology, tarot, and runes. Elias is fascinating, and I recommend learning more about him and Mary’s process of exchanging energy with him before reading the book by looking at the website www.eliasweb.org. There’s plenty of interesting transcripts and audio records you can read dating back to 1995. I really appreciate how the website is so well organized, making it easy for viewers to see the topic of each session.

Guirchovitch describes:

“The book reflects my journey to become a professional reader, which included a spectrum of challenges ranging from self-doubt, to re-examining the fundamentals, to learning to synthesize multiple factors and to flow with the interpretations.”1

The content reads as a dialogue between Guirchovitch, who goes by his first name Dan in the book, and Elias in a style of Socratic questioning, the thoughtful dialogue between the two exposing new truths and unraveling frames of mind to see beyond limited perception. As a reader, I gained just as much from Guirchovitch sharing his viewpoint and the questions he asks as I did from Elias’s thought-provoking answers.

Sometimes the dialogue is short and sweet, just a few sentences back and forth. Other times Dan shares an elaborate idea or perception with Elias and Elias shares his response, which ranges from a one-word agreement to a paragraph-long explanation.

Here’s a little sample from the section from Chapter 32, focusing on rune casting and other applications:

“Dan: So the divination aspect of the Runes, as in describing and helping to fine-tune situations, helping people to find the most beneficial alternatives.

Elias: Yes. Yes. Giving information, in a manner of speaking. They can be used for scrying. They also, because there is that element of magic, they can be used to be collectively expressing a type of intuition. Which, if you are defining intuition correctly, intuition is that communication that answers questions. Even if you don’t know you are asking a question, your intuition is answering your questions that you might be leaning into subjectively, or that you might be expressing an energy that is moving in a certain direction.

Now this is NOT precognitive or expressing predictions. But you can engage in a particular direction, and although you don’t necessarily see some aspects of that direction that involves the future that you are already engaging, and you may not see that objectively, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t already engaged [in] doing it. And your intuition can actually express that. Therefore, that may also be some of the questions that intuition is answering at times.

In this relation to Runes, they can be used in a very similar capacity except in relation to the collective energy – not simply individual – therefore expanded.”2

While one could certainly read this book cover to cover, it’s also very helpful to use the table of contents and find exactly what you’re seeking to learn more about. The book is chronologically organized into 39 chapters, starting with transcriptions from November 2013 and ending in November 2021. In the table of contents, underneath the chapter number and date, the topic(s) of the discussion is listed. For instance, Chapter 9 May 30, 2016 covers “Aries, Taurus, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Cancer.”3, while Chapter 29 January 20th 2020 covers “The Temperance Card.”4

Whether you’re into astrology, tarot, or runes, I have no doubt the content of these dialogues will leave you inspired, contemplative, and with a fresh perspective on things. So far for me the most revelatory passages were in Chapter 19 May 16, 2019 covering Leo and Aquarius. My ascendent is in Leo and descent in Aquarius, along with my Sun, North Node, and Mercury also there too. I’m still processing and journaling about all the insights from Guirchovitch and Elias about the relationship between these two signs!

What has stood out the most is Elias describing Aquarius by stating, “.. they are not as concerned with outward expressions, therefore they aren’t as concerned with whether everything is flowing, but rather whether they are flowing.”5 This passage was notable to to me because I feel like I rarely want to impede the flow of others by expressing myself, and I also deeply believe that everyone just lives in their own flow that things work out best. In reflection, my flow is definitely what shapes the landscape of my life and relationships – and I get very annoyed when external forces impede this inner flow!

Not only does this book provide information for self-reflection, it also is an opportunity to get a glimpse into the art of chart reading. Guirchovitch speaks with Elias about different aspects and planet placements, seeking guidance into their meaning. For those who read charts, this content is worth reading as it showcases the process “seeing” an astrological chart and slowly revealing the intricacies of the person through careful rumination on their chart.

For those who are students at heart, willing to see things in a new way, Old Star, New Light will open doorways for you to better understand astrology, tarot, and runes. This is a book one can come back to time and time again for a deeper understanding of their mysteries. Guirchovitch is generous in sharing his insights from Elias with a greater audience, choosing to gift the answers he’s received to readers rather than keep it all to himself. I think this would be a wonderful resource for a group to study together, as the material lends itself to discussion quite readily. But even read solo, these conversations are a starting point into our own dialogues about these topics, which are essential when contemplating and enacting our practice of these sacred arts. Be prepared for the “aha” moments that spring up as you read!