✨ A Gathering Place for Magical Readers and Writers ✨

Pagan Portals – Iris, by Irisanya Moon

Pagan Portals – Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow and Messenger of the Godds, by Irisanya Moon
Moon Books, 1789047110, 96 pages, July 2021

When was the last time you saw a rainbow? Seeing one is always such a miraculous gift to me. It feels so spiritual, like a harbinger of blessings. Moments after seeing a rainbow about a month ago, I discovered the book Pagan Portals – Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow and Messenger of the Godds by Irisanya Moon. As Moon describes, “She [Iris] offers magick in the way rainbows form, seemingly from nothing, but truly from the perfect alignment of conditions.”1 With this synchronicity, it was as though the rainbow was calling me to delve into this book.

Moon introduces herself to the reader and gives a bit of background on her experience with Iris, who she connected with to include as part of her magical name. I especially enjoyed reading about her experience with Reclaiming on her path, as all the Reclaiming workshops I’ve attended have been some of the greatest portals to magic!

To start with, Moon provides quite a few stories of Iris to assist the reader with getting acquainted with her mythology. Reading stories of Iris delivering messages for Hera and Zues was interesting, along with realizing she was the messenger sent to Demeter to coax her out of grief at the loss of her daughter Perspehone. I also learned Iris is the consort of Zephyrus, god of the west winds — so cool!

After reading the stories of Iris in mythology and hearing Moon’s thoughts, I really resonated with her view that Iris can teach us about being of service without being in servitude. For any person who feels calls to share their gifts, Iris’s story is a wonderful reminder of the need for personal self-care as well. Moon encourages the practice of self-service alongside serving deities and one’s communities, and relates the story of Iris to the need for this. As she writes, “A tired and burnt out priestess is not a very effective servant, after all.”2

The main bulk of the book is Moon’s magical practice called Traveling the Rainbow. She guides the reader through all the colors of the rainbow, offering exercises to connect with each energy. For instance, doing mirror work with the color orange and water gazing for the color blue. Working the way through the rainbow proved to be quite insightful. I really enjoyed making a collage for yellow and a meditative journey for indigo.

Towards the end, Moon offers ideas on how to do a ritual to honor or petition Iris. There’s an absolutely beautiful devotional poem that Moon has written to Iris that made my heart melt. It is so well written, while also emotionally evoking. She also offers quite a few ways one can create a relationship with Iris through options such as altar building, artwork, journaling, and meditation.

Moon calls readers to be intentional in their work with Iris, and to be honest, gives more background than any book I’ve ever read about the process of choosing to work with a deity and focusing attention on that relationship. She is very honest in her approach to deity work, acknowledging there’s different reasons people choose to work with a particular deity, from being called to building a long-term relationship, while some might just want to create a connection for a specific purpose. It was helpful to read her thoughts, tips, and techniques, and regardless if one plans on connecting with Iris, one would surely benefit from her insight about relationships with deities.

While I have not formally created a relationship with Iris, this book was immensely helpful in learning more about her, her role in mythology, and her special energy. I really enjoyed being immersed in the feeling of rainbows while reading, and within I felt a multitude of colors illuminating my creativity through artwork and time spent in nature. I also did a lot of reflection on the similarities and differences between Iris and Hermes, my patron deity, as they are both messengers that have the ability to move freely through all realms.

I recommend Iris to those hoping to learn more about her mythology, wishing to connect with the goddess of the rainbow, or even establish a relationship with her as a deity. Moon has done a great job of piecing together her story and sharing her method of connection with Iris. As already mentioned, the wisdom of Moon’s work with deity is very insightful and sure to be beneficial to any reading looking to petition or dedicating themselves to a godd. Next time I see a rainbow, I certainly will be wondering what messages Iris is delivering and pause for a moment to give her my praise.

Lunar Alchemy, by Shaheen Miro

Lunar Alchemy: Everyday Moon Magic to Transform Your Life, by Shaheen Miro
Weiser Books, 1578636907, 224 pages, 2020

Anyone who has ever looked up at the moon and felt a stirring in their soul understands the importance of lunar magic in a spiritual practice. In Lunar Alchemy: Everyday Moon Magic to Transform Your Life, Shaheen Miro takes us beyond the basic parameters of Moon Magic 101 and shows us a path that not only forms the basis of a solid practice but also includes new facets of shadow work that point the way to personal power rather than simply providing a list of rituals to perform to help with manifestation.

Miro’s other writings through his blog and weekly newsletters focus on healing, empowerment, and transformation. His personal practice for clients includes energy-clearing, intention setting, and intuitive readings. The author of The Lunar Nomad Oracle, Uncommon Tarot (reviewed here), and co-author of Tarot for Troubled Times, Miro’s intention through his work is to help people navigate themselves to uncover their own personal power. 

One thing that struck me is the lack of how-tos in this book. While there is a comprehensive table of contents that includes the four basic moon phases, Miro dissects each phase and relates it back to the Great Work. He explains:

“…this isn’t simply a book about moon spells or moon magic. It is a book that ultimately will familiarize you with the phases of the moon as steps on the alchemical path – the Great Work – so that you can learn to internalize that alchemy as a transformative force in your own life.”1

Personally, I have felt inadequate at times when comparing myself as I am to the idea of who I thought I was. It’s interesting to see how our impressions of ourselves change over time, and Miro not only recognizes that but expands on it:

“Your life’s path is, like the moon’s, a series of phases – times of abundance, times of thin scarcity, times of light, times of darkness, times of feminine intuition, times of masculine action. The cycle repeats. Like the moon, you change day to day. No one phase is “you”; no one phase is right, or better, or more moral than any other. You are the sum total of all your phases – and like the moon you are on a constant alchemical journey of change and transformation.”2

I can’t tell you what an incredible relief it was to read those words. Something I’d felt but couldn’t put into words just magically appearing before me in the book I am reading. That’s magic! Miro is completely right: we are works in progress and we never stop changing. This book is a huge asset in learning how to navigate those spaces between what you know about yourself and what you’ve hidden from yourself.

The book is set up in three parts. Part one deals with the alchemic concepts behind lunar magic and a great jumping off point for those new to the concept of the Great Work. Part two deals with the four lunar cycles and contains exercises and ceremonies for working with each phase as it resonates with you. Part three provides a selection of ceremonies and exercises for specific intentions. 

Reading this book feels like a rebellion of sorts. Not because it is outrageously scandalous, although some might feel that way given the attitude of “If I thrive, you thrive. If we are well, the planet is well”.3 Miro writes in a clear, concise way that conveys his ideas of how we could move forward as a species if we were able to embrace a shift in power away from the actionable masculine energy that is dominating currently and bring it into balance with the deeply intuitive and self empowerment of the feminine.

We see these shifts happening already. This book is a tool to help that change occur within us, by healing the disconnect between the Solar and the Lunar aspects we all carry as part of who we are. Healing ourselves leads to collective healing on a global scale, and this book is a step in that direction.

I found this book to be deeply satisfying on a number of levels. My brain loved the linking of moon phases to corresponding alchemical phases, and the deep dive into “As above, so below. As within, so without”4. That phrase has been tossed around a lot and it is so refreshing to see pages devoted to exploring the concept behind the words.

More than just a phrase, it’s a way of being in harmony with the rhythms and cycles of the natural world and being in alignment. Miro takes the time to delve into it and coaxes the reader to answer a series of questions throughout the section, not as an exercise but as a way to get you to think. Lunar Alchemy takes common themes and ideas around the moon and cycles in general and reinvigorates them with brightness and curiosity. Wondrous reading!

Lunar Alchemy is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about moon cycles as they relate personally and isn’t afraid of doing shadow work. Shadow work is hard, but the payoff is well worth it! The spells and ceremonies in the third part are designed to support and assist the self empowerment techniques and aren’t meant to help you get your lover back or find you a new job. What this book can do, however, is provide you with the tools to do those things for yourself. Plus, the list of reading resources at the back of the book is a fantastic gift. There are some great readings suggested, and I highly encourage checking a few out at the very least. 

Growing Big Dreams, by Robert Moss

Growing Big Dreams: Manifesting Your Heart’s Desires Through Twelve Secrets of the Imagination, by Robert Moss
New World Library, 1608687046, 344 pages, September 2020

What does it mean to truly live out your dreams? For some, it may feel like the idea of manifestation has been co-opted by positive thinking gurus teaching how to harness control of your mind to direct it very specifically toward an intent. But what if the real secret to manifestation is not within your conscious mind, but your dreaming one? In Growing Big Dreams: Manifesting Your Heart’s Desires Through Twelve Secrets of the Imagination, Robert Moss teaches how to use time honored techniques to enhance your life through dreams and imagination.

Moss provides twelve insights that reveal the power of dreams and teaches how combined with imagination these dream techniques can guide one to living their soul’s callings. This mixture of shamanic journeying, depth psychology, story-telling, creative exploration, and dream-weaving is a wonderful tapestry to explore one’s own bigger story in life. By bridging the mythic and mundane, a doorway opens up to explore the deeper callings and potential for our lives, most often revealed through dreams and the imagination.

Before delving into my review, I must confess, I am a huge fan of Robert Moss. His work has been deeply influential on my dream practice, and I’ve read quite a few of his books, as well as taken an online course through the Shift Network led by him. Some of his most notable books are Active Dreaming, Dreaming the Soul Back Home, and The Secret History of Dreaming. I also have previously reviewed his book published in 2018, Mysterious Realities. He is an incredible storyteller, teacher, and dreamer.

However, despite my familiarity with Moss’s work, I still gained so much from Growing Big Dreams that was original, unique, and impactful. The entire process of reading this book felt like the gateways to my creativity where being flung open, allowing streams of insight to flow in and shift my perspective. There’s three things I especially love about the way the book is written that I want to focus on because I feel they really highlight what stands out about this book in particular.

The first is the many, many stories Moss provides to give examples of what he’s writing about. Since he’s been actively practicing and teaching dreamwork for decades now, he’s filled to the brim with stories to tell, and he perfectly blends his wisdom with an anecdote to show the reader how the principle can manifest or be applicable in their own life.

There were stories of recovering illness through dreams, discovering personal power, transferring dreams to another for healing, and reconnecting with parts of oneself that have been previously split off. Every chapter has a reflection on a workshop taught or story from one of his students who used the technique successfully, and it makes me confident as a reader that I too can connect with my dreams and imagination for healing and personal growth.

The second is that the whole book is filled with mythology, stories, and wisdom from tons of cultures. Quite literally spanning the globe, there is immense diversity in Moss’s approach to dreamwork. Moss discusses his experience of connecting with an indigenous medicine woman when he purchases land in New York. He also delves into the mythology of many pantheons, especially the Greek pantheon with the myth of Persephone. There’s a really intriguing story of his connection with Yemaya during a workshop in South America. Additionally, there’s stories of working with ancestors, animal guides, and gatekeepers.

Also referenced often are the insights of people, such as Barbara Hand Clow, Dion Fortune, and David Bohm. Moss draws from physics, psychology, religion, and more to bring together a comprehensive method of manifestation unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I especially enjoyed reading about Henry Corbin, who translated the works of Islamic mystics Alam al-Khayal and Alam al-Mithal, and who wrote on the Mundus Imaginalis (imaginal realm).

“It is a region of mind between the world of time and the world of eternity. In this realm human imagination meets intelligence from higher realities, and they co-construct places of healing, instruction, and initiation. Here ideas and powers beyond the grasp of the ordinary human mind — call them archetypes or Platonic forms — take on guises humans can begin to perceive and understand.”1

But here’s the third thing that makes this book so epic: Moss doesn’t just write about this stuff and leave you with no map, he provides exercises and practices so the reader too can explore. It took me quite a while to make my way through this book because I kept wanting to try all the exercises, while also giving myself the time to integrate them without just rushing onto the next section in excitement.

Some of the ones I tried were Journey to the Cave of Mama Bear, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Visit Your Dream Cinema, Journey to the Blue Lake of Healing, Bring Hummingbird into Your Heart, Who is Persphone to You?, Through Blue Fire, Step into a Picture, Journey to the Island of Your Heart’s Desire, and Gift a Power Animal.

My dream journal is packed after making my way through this book! And Moss did not hold back at all. It’s like he took all his techniques, exercises, and tools he’d used with participants in his workshops and classes and wrote it all out for the reader to do at home. Within this book, there is SO much to explore and infinite possibility through the portals of dreams and imagination.

With each exercise I tried, I feel like I found a new piece of myself. The entire time of reading Growing Big Dreams, along with doing the dreamwork and imaginal journeying, felt immensely creative. I certainly feel more attuned to what my soul is yearning for, and like I now have the toolkit to bring about these inner dreams to life in the physical world. 

This is the type of manifestation that I feel everyone should be practicing, as it connects us to ourselves, the energies present in the world (mythic, archetypal, nature, animals, spirits), and assists us in re-envisioning what’s possible for our life. I certainly felt my personal story expanding into something larger, a part of a much greater whole.

All in all, I recommend Growing Big Dreams to everyone interested in dreamwork or simply discovering a new pathway for healing and growth.  Once again, Moss has hit the ball right out of the park. I greatly appreciate all the wisdom he shares with readers as a teacher, mentor, and guide. If you are interested in learning more about dreamwork, I think this book is a wonderful place to get started for beginners. Though, experienced practitioners are certain to benefit as well from the techniques shared by Moss.

There’s many benefits to attuning ourselves to the wisdom of dreams and imagination, from boosting creativity to nurturing childhood wounds. The ample possibilities that open up when we begin actively engaging with our dream life is absolutely incredible, and it might be just what our world needs most at this time.

Horse Magick, by Lawren Leo and Domenic Leo

Horse Magick: Spells and Rituals for Self-Empowerment, Protection, and Prosperity, by Lawren Leo with Domenic Leo, PhD
Weiser Books, 1578636983, 208 pages, 2020

Using animals in magical practice is a familiar theme (see what I did there?) that resonates with most practitioners. Many of those who follow some form of occult practice have some type of helper to either guide them through their spiritual work or simply act as a companion. In their book, Horse Magick: Spells and Rituals for Self-Empowerment, Protection, and Prosperity, both Lawren Leo and Domenic Leo draw on their own experiences to illustrate and detail the art of practicing magick with the Horse Spirit that resides within all of us.

Both brothers have ample experience in both dealing with horses and practicing magick. Growing up, they were introduced to horses and riding and never looked back. As a psychic, Leo has authored many books and owns a metaphysical store that Domenic is head buyer for. Additionally, Domenic holds numerous degrees in a variety of subjects and is widely published. Together, they have created a unique reading experience that results in a book that is difficult to put down once started. This book is their shared experience, with one delving into the historical background of various horse deities and the other crafting specific spells designed to procure whatever it is needed.

This book is not laid out in the typical fashion. Its nonlinear approach is comforting to me personally, as I like jumping around from section to section. Here, you are not penalized for doing so; in fact, jumping around is encouraged! Here’s the difference though: in order to find the spell you want, you need to know what type of horse it relates to. The table of contents lists the different types of horses: Ancient Horse, African River Horse, Marble Horse, and so on. Not familiar with any of the horses listed? A brief skim of each chapter signals the kind of spellwork that coincides with the spirit and the spell that follows makes it crystal clear. 

The introduction is a wealth of information if you are patient enough to read it all the way through. The temptation to jump ahead and let spirit guide your reading selection a la bibliomancy is hard to resist. Case in point: when I randomly opened the book to a page I found precisely what I was looking for. Although I don’t have horses anymore I do have cats, and the spell I found on page 64 brought me to tears. Called “Spell for Bonding With, Protecting, and Remembering Animal Companions,” this beautiful ritual does precisely what it says. Maybe I’m totally reading into things but I swear my normally aloof cat was a bit more affectionate after I did this ritual. It’s hard to tell with cats, but I am choosing to believe.

Thoroughly researched horses and deities provide the backdrop for this magnificent book. While there is a lot of information presented, it’s done in such a way that you are grateful for the information. Every chapter of this book brings new ideas for personal spellwork and although I am not a high ritual type of witch, I can absolutely appreciate the amount of care and thought that each spell clearly has built into it. These are not spells to be done off the cuff: these are the type of spells that you need to prepare for and make sure you have everything ready prior to beginning. Horse spirits are akin to real horses in that they have no patience if you don’t know what you are doing and aren’t prepared. 

Having said that, Chapter One is designed to prepare you so that you are ready for the spellwork. In explaining what the Horse Spirit is, Leo offers “The essence of the Horse Spirit is freedom… the horse’s intimate relation with spirit and nature… are compelling reason to use equine magick.”1 Using equine magick involves partnering with the horse spirit within, something that many of us yearn for but simply don’t know how to access.

Leo takes the reader through the process of connecting with this inner guide by offering a spell to provide freedom from burdens and stress. This simple spell involves sitting, something that I enjoy very much, and a chant that can be repeated as many times as needed. The rhythmic chant is relaxing and invigorating at the same time and could bring on an altered state of consciousness called the alpha state. I won’t go into those details here as it’s something that can be easily looked up. The fact that there is no prescribed amount of times to chant or direction on how many days to chant is not by accident. This is a spell of freedom, and if being burdened is something you struggle with, this spell gives you a starting point to taking back that power and freedom to choose for yourself.

Horse Magick is perfect for those who love professionally researched subject matter that is presented in an easy to read fashion. The spells are designed to be thought provoking and deliberate, with not much room for improvisation in terms of the actual ritual of performing the spellwork. If you prefer your spellwork to be more fluid and open, these spells might be a good jumping off point for you to create your own. I feel anyone who practises any form of magick would do well to flip through this book as it’s well written and laid out in such a way to encourage the reader to find their own inner Horse Spirit.

The Art of Aliveness, by Flora Bowley

The Art of Aliveness: A Creative Return to What Matters Most, by Flora Bowley
Hierophant Publishing, 1950253104, 224 pages, March 2021

How often do we really pause to think about what truly makes us feel alive? Have you ever thought there could be ways to feel more inspiration, creativity, and joie de vivre? Well that’s exactly what Flora Bowley offers in her book The Art of Aliveness: A Creative Return to What Matters Most. This spectacular process-oriented book is a guide to rediscovering one’s zest for life.

Flora Bowley is a woman of many talents: artist, healer, yoga instructor, and author (her previous books include Brave Intuitive Painting and Creative Revolution). These different pursuits lend to her creative lifestyle, which she has learned to navigate intuitively. According to her website, her aim is to create “a new holistic movement in the intuitive art world.”1 She purses this passion by leading in-person workshops and online painting courses, along with pursuing the other avenues her creativity inspires her to follow.

“Aliveness means reaching into the vast depths of our full human experience, not shying away from what we find there, and being brave enough to say, “I can be with what is, and I can choose again. I can create beauty out of sorrow and find meaning in the madness. I can be the alchemist of my own life no matter what cards I’ve been dealt.””2

I absolutely loved the book and had many “aha” moments reading it. First of all, Bowley is so honest about her journey. The ups and downs, she is willing to share her story with authenticity. This aspect made me greatly respect her, because it’s certainly not easy to lay it all out for others to know about. Her life is pretty epic though, and simply reading it brought me so much motivation to take new risks and follow my intuition more often.

Some of the really neat things Bowley has done in her life discussed in the book are volunteering in New Orleans after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, attending Burning Man and awakening to new parts of herself, and even changing her name legally to reflect this emerging identity. How badass are all these things? She reminded me that it’s okay to live outside the box and do things that I’m feeling called to do without having to justify them to other people or be worried about what they will think.

This honesty in Bowley’s writing created a connection with her that made me feel like I could trust her and she wasn’t trying to push anything on me. This whole book is an invitation to open up to the richness of life. She even writes about how in her journey of teaching intuitive painting, she realized the difference between sharing a creative philosophy and teaching a creative lifestyle. While her creative philosophy absolutely can be seen woven into all areas of her life, this book intended to help the reader develop their own creative lifestyle.

All the chapters in the book are a life lesson about living creatively. At the start of the chapter, Bowley includes anecdotes from her own life. Many of these describe how she came to the wisdom that she’s sharing. Then at the end of the chapters, there is a section called “Try This On” where Bowley offers a practice for the reader to do. Most were easy to incorporate into life, such as “The next time you feel a strong emotion, or if you’re feeling one now, notice if you are pushing it down or allowing it to run the show.”3 These practices helped me be more aware of my intuition, feelings, and creative process.

Furthermore, Bowley’s visual description of elements of painting became a symbolic imagery for me to envision when reading. The abstract concept of adding contrast to life came alive on canvas as she described popping yellow paint burst from a deeper blue. Never having painted much, this perspective opened new doors to perception for me, which made me actually want to try my hand at putting the brush to canvas. (Okay, maybe I’ll start with finger paints for now, but it’s still invigorating!)

“Contrasts brings together two or more strikingly different things, creating a dynamic relationship in juxtaposition or close association. In other words, contrast happens when two very different worlds collide, kiss, or simply exist side by side. I hunt for opportunities to create contrast because I know that tension between elements creates energy, a spark, nuance.”4

She also has so many suggestions from her workshops that I really thought were engaging in helping creators acknowledge feelings in a new way. For instance, one thing she’s done with participants is having them give away their half finished painting. Some were sentimental about it, others were happy to be relieved of it, but either way it is an exercise in letting go. From there, the painters were supposed to build on what the other had started. This made me start thinking more about my attachment to things and how I could also include more collaboration.

Reading Bowley’s story made me start thinking about my life as a big canvas, filled with colors and shapes, rather than my normal way of seeing it filled with people, activities, and commitments. Thinking about each of these elements in my life through an artistic perspective got me wondering what the current canvas of my life looked like and how I might bright out something new in what I was working with.

Overall, The Art of Aliveness is filled with wisdom and personal insight in which Bowley draws on her creative process to offer insight on how to reconnect with the inherent beauty in life. I feel like anyone looking to reawaken their creative spirit would benefit from reading this book. As already mentioned, simply hearing her personal story was an inspiration to follow my dreams. Her painting expertise is an added bonus that is sure to motivate other creators to make meaning of their life’s journey through artistry.

Cool Sex, by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman

Cool Sex: An Essential Young Adult Guide to Loving, Mindful Sex, by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman
O-Books, 1789043514, 128 pages, December 2020

When picking up Cool Sex: An Essential Young Adult Guide to Loving, Mindful Sex by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman, I really didn’t know what to expect. In what way was this book going to approach the idea of sex being cool? What I found was a fascinating examination of a sexual style that is (apparently) foreign to most sexually active people. I admit, I certainly had no knowledge of what the authors were about to present.

I was quickly drawn in by the meaning of “cool sex,” which Richardson and Doelman contrast with “hot sex.” Hot sex is the too-often dominant style of sex, characterized by fast, vigorous, and highly-stimulating activity that is intended to reach a peak orgasm. It is goal-oriented for one or both partners. This type of sex, while very exciting, is usually accompanied by a drop in energy after sex, and can also give rise to feelings of loneliness and depression.

Cool sex, on the other hand, is sex that is focused on awareness of the present moment: it has no goal. Instead, cool sex is about relaxing and opening the body to the flow of sexual energy between you and your partner. Through the techniques and mindful practice that Richardson and Doeleman describe, sex can become much more intimate, connected, and loving for everyone involved.

“[Y]our attention is directed inside your body, feeling any subtle or delicate good feelings inside of you. And you keep on feeling yourself – moment by moment. It is very much a meditation and mindfulness practice.”1

The authors describe the origins of cool sex, such as the tantric traditions in India, and present cool sex as a form of neo-tantra, where sexual activity is an aspect of spirituality. But the goal of the book is not just to offer a fresh perspective on ancient methods and ideas around sex. Richardson and Doeleman seek to help disabuse their readers of the idea that sex should/must be hot and goal-oriented (all the time).

While there is nothing inherently wrong with hot sex, the authors urge that exploring sex through relaxation and awareness can reveal new depths of sensitivity and result in wholly different forms of ecstasy — forms which heighten your creative, kundalini energy rather than diminish it through release (orgasm).

One of the most interesting points in the application of cool sex to both men and women is that each sex has a positive and negative energetic pole. These poles exist in different areas for males and females. By learning how to lovingly increase the flow of energy between these poles on yourself and your partner, your connection deepens. The authors provide plenty of advice and instructions about how to gently tend to these poles for relaxation and preparation for sex. I found these suggestions immeasurably helpful helping to create a relaxing and loving state, regardless of whether we ended up having sex.

Along with a deeper energetic and physical connection, cool sex also increases emotional openness between partners. Richardson and Doeleman also emphasize that the mindfulness of cool sex can help work through emotional tension, as partners will be more attuned to their own feelings and needs, as well as more receptive to the other person. Specific methods suggested in the book may also be useful for healing old emotional wounds, stored as tension in the genital region. But again, cool sex isn’t about having a goal (even the goal of healing) to accomplish. Cool sex is about being present to your sensations/feelings and allowing sexual energy to flow between partners.

Throughout the book, the authors regularly use testimonial quotes from interviews with people who’ve used these practices. Although making the switch to cool sex can take time and may not be super exciting at the start, these testimonials help to reassure the reader that allowing this practice to unfold in its own time yields amazing, deeply loving experiences. These quotes help the reader easily identify with other people who’d never considered an alternative to hot sex before, but are now reaping the benefits of these practices.

Overall, this book is a pleasure to read. The writing flowed nicely and each chapter is broken down into several sections to make the contents clear and digestible. Although Cool Sex could be a jumping-off point for someone interested in learning more about tantra, it is a unique guide that stands on its own. The authors do a great job of showing us an alternative to the common style of hot sex and providing a diverse range of meditations, techniques, and simple advice to help us all cool sex down and relax into ecstasy.


My husband (Zak from above) and I intended to write our own parts to do this review jointly, but I think he’s succinctly summed up the premise of Cool Sex. Rather than go into details, I am going to add in my own bit about how beneficial this book has been for our relationship.

I think cool sex is something I had been seeking for a while, but didn’t even know was a thing. Yes, it’s fun to get hot and heavy at a moment’s notice, but early on in my sexual journey, I realized how fleeting that moment was — often over within a quarter of an hour. I longed for a way to connect for longer periods of time in a more intimate way now that I’ve married a man I truly adore. The ability to sustain our passion and connect sexually in a way that feels genuine is a true gift that Cool Sex has provided us with.

My favorite thing about the book was the suggestions the authors make for stimulating energy flow between my husband and me. They discuss the polarity of male and female bodies. Generally, women have a positive pole at their breasts and negative pole at their yoni. For men, the positive pole is the perineum and the negative pole is the chest. Realizing this, we’ve been able to better guide the energy in our love-making to align with this polarity, and it feels really good so far!

To be honest, previously my breasts often were never the focal point during sex, but now they have taken center-stage. Much to my delight, based on the information about how the heart is the source of a female’s outward energy, I’ve discovered a whole new relationship with my breasts. I now notice them throughout the day, intentionally stimulate them with kindness and love, and sense into how this connection affects my energy. This has been truly life changing!

Practicing cool sex together has been a fun, exploratory experience for my husband and I because it makes us more aware of how we’re cultivating and sharing our sexual energy. When things start getting hot, we can slow it down with laughter when we realize and then fall back into a more sensual rhythm.

This practice really makes it feel like the love-making is coming from within, rather than guided by external expectations of how sex should be based on cultural portrayals of it. It’s nice to not feel the pressure to sexually perform, and rather have the opportunity to sink in and enjoy the moment. I think this is the secret I’ve been looking for all along!

I think many people would greatly benefit from reading Cool Sex and integrating the practices into their love-making. (I will note that it seems primarily intended for cis-heterosexual couples, but the principles of cool sex are applicable in all sexual relationships.) So far, integrating the information presented has certainly has cultivated new layers of intimacy in our relationship, and we are only at the start of this practice. I look forward to slowing it down even more as we become more comfortable with cool sex. I’m in it for the long-haul with my hubby anyway, so we might as well savor every last drop together, and this book teaches the sexual techniques to do just that. 🙂

Inviting Angels into Your Life, by Kathryn Hudson

Inviting Angels into Your Life: Assistance and Support from the Angelic Realm, by Kathryn Hudson
Findhorn Press, 1644111727, 239 pages, September 2020

I’ll never forget an encounter I had in a bread shop one cold, December morning. I had just left the hair salon after getting my hair cut. I was thinking about my cousin who was hospitalized for a serious illness and bothered by a relationship problem. The gray sky matched my mood. I was even feeling guilty for going to the salon with my cousin so ill. I heard a man speaking to me from behind as I waited in line to buy bread. “Everything will be okay. I promise you.” I turned around and looked at this slightly built man, the only other customer in the store.

I felt tears well up. “Really, everything will be okay. Remember what Mikey is telling you. Mikey is always right.” He walked up to me, gave me a hug, and left the store. This was not a normal encounter – and I remember it to this day, 11 years later. I continued to wonder if Mikey was indeed an angel. After finishing Kathryn Hudson’s book, Inviting Angels into Your Life, and reading of angelic encounters, I am more convinced than ever that Mikey of the bread store was Archangel Michael.

I’ve read a lot of books on angels over the years, but Inviting Angels into Your Life resonated with me more than most books on this topic. Kathryn describes what angels are (without being clinical in nature or getting bogged down with the hierarchy of the angelic realm) and brings them to the reader in ways that we can truly interact with them on an everyday basis. As she writes, the angels are always present and willing to help– what they need is an invitation from us and that is what she shows us how to do. Angels will never infringe upon our free will. Kathryn, a certified Angel Therapy practitioner, has written on this topic and is a workshop presenter on angels.

One of the things that I most liked, and found very helpful in working with angels, was her descriptions of how there is unlimited angelic help available to all of us. If we work with the angels all day, every day, we are not taking angels from someone who we perceive as needing them more. I came to think of this as an angel being like a mother, a mother who can help one child with a seemingly menial task such as homework help while also helping another child deal with a relationship problem. Nothing is too small to ask an angel for help with – and as such asking does not take the angels away from someone asking for help with a serious health issue, for example.

Kathryn write a lot about living a “Large” life, a life aligned with our intended state of being, which is Joy. “Joy is rooted in the truth of our being, eternal and light-filled, no matter what our current experience is on the earth plane. Joy is the essence of Large Life…”1 Angels help us remember our true essence and are willing to help us live a life that is not based in fear and scarcity.

The book is divided into four parts: Take Action with Angels – Preparation, Our Friends in High Places – Archangels, Energy and Angelic Healing, and Next Steps. In Part One she writes on how we can prepare ourselves for interacting with the angels in an intentional way. She describes an angel as “an expression of God that accompanies us here on the earth plan during our lifetime.”2 By viewing our bodies as an instrument, she shows the reader how, “it is up to us to become more aware of how our instrument works and reach toward its mastery.”3 This instrument works through clairvoyance, the method through which we communicate with angels. She defines clairvoyance as “a capacity to see/understand things in an extraordinary way, over and above what is deemed ‘normal’.”4

Part One offers exercises such as channel opening, how to ask for help, filling one’s body with light, and connecting with the earth. She also suggestions for aftercare after completing the exercise. I particularly liked the exercise of connecting to Mother Earth – and the closing affirmation; “I open my channel to stand strong upon the earth, grounded and ready to live my life’s purpose – Large. Thank you, Gaia, Mother Earth.”5

Part Two focuses on the fifteen archangels with whom she most works, from Azrael to Zadkiel. For each she describes the specific focus or form of help of which each one is a master, the associated chakra and color, and the ideal stone with which to connect. She concludes each description with an exercise that can be used to connect with the specific archangel. Peppered throughout are stories of her connections with the archangel or those of others. Uriel, for example, can be called on in times of natural or personal disasters. Uriel is associated with the solar plexus to bring calm, the color is steel grey, and the stone is snowflake obsidian.

The focus of Part Three is on Energy and Angelic Healing. Included are ways to connect with our inner child, do chakra work, and ways to raise our frequency. As we align more with our true self and the spark of the Divine that resides within us, so too do we open ourselves more to angelic communication.

The final part, Four, focuses on Angelic Co-Creation, “essentially a partnering with the Angelic realm in order to live our lives to the fullest, in service of Light, Love, and Joy.”6 She recommends entering into two Contracts, one with our inner child and one with the angels. All offerings are doable – and not intimidating.

I highly recommend Inviting Angels Into Your Life for those new to working with angels as well as those who have been tapping into the angelic realm for a while. I’ve taken Kathryn’s suggestion to “talk” to my guardian angel during the day, as I would a friend. I now communicate with the angels in ways that don’t always focus on problem solving such as pointing our something beautiful that I see (like that lovely full moon) or laughing at myself for something silly that I did. Angels as friends! Use this book to invite them in!

Manifesting Spirits, by Jack Hunter

Manifesting Spirits: An Anthropological Study of Mediumship and the Paranormal, by Jack Hunter
AEON Books, 1912807882, 296 pages, January 2021

For anyone who’s ever academically ventured into topics such as mediumship, life after death, spirits, and other psi phenomena you’ve most likely found the present literature rarely acknowledges the actual existence of these phenomena, for doing so would bring the entire paradigm into question. These inquiries are often quickly dismissed or explained in terms of cognitive, functional, or pathological theories.  However, Manifesting Spirits: An Anthropological Study of Mediumship and the Paranormal by Jack Hunter has gone where few have gone before.

Hunter has written an extremely well-defined and well-researched study of the paranormal from a perspective that invites an expansion of consciousness and method of scholarship. He frames these phenomena in a way that invites a new paradigm to emerge while maintaining full rigor in the quality of his resources. As he describes, he “does not seek to reduce the significance of spirit mediumship to purely functional, psychological, sociological, or cognitive explanations.”1 In so many ways, this work is truly groundbreaking and an essential read for any serious paranormal practitioner, investigator, or enthusiast.

The approach in this research is a “non-reductive interpretive framework that emphasises complexity and multiple dimensions of process and meaning.”2 I include this because, yes, Hunter’s writing requires a certain level of familiarity with words such as “ontological” and “phenomenological” to fully grasp. I will give him immense credit in his thorough explanation of what he’s doing, but for those who are less inclined to read scholarly material, this book might be quite intimidating.

It took me well over a month (I might even say closer to two) to make my way through this book. Much of the time, it felt like I was reading an academic paper, which was fascinating given the topic, but also not a light read. Many of the chapters seem to be informative literature reviews that were blended together to make a compelling book. As someone who values academic integrity, strong references, and a well-defined methodology, Manifesting Spirits was a true delight.

Hunter does a wonderful job of situating his work within the previous and current literature on the subject, aptly helping the reader to see the building blocks for his research and why he has chosen to write about it in the way he’s done in this book. He acknowledges the pitfalls of academic research on these subjects and how his work differs in that it admits the possibility of paranormal phenomenon. He calls his perspective “ontologically flooded” in that it is “open to multiple possibilities and emphasising complexity over reductive simplicity.”3 Essentially, rather than setting out to prove the validity of spirits and other psi phenomena, Hunter’s position is openness to the possibility of genuine paranormal phenomena being a factor at play but is not automatically assuming it.

To achieve this aim, Hunter began exploring these topics at Bristol Spirit Lodge to better understand the spirit world through those who have regular contact with spirits. By taking their experiences seriously, he accumulated a plethora of ethnographic research.This ethnographic research included attending seances, developing his own mediumship abilities, and interviews with both mediums and spirits. In turn, switching the usual mode of boxing-in these ethnographic experiences to fit the analytic thinking to using the research done ethnographically to re-examine the dominant model for interpreting these events.

In Manifesting Spirits, there are quite a few fascinating topics Hunter explores, many of which I’ve never seen framed from his unique methodological perspective. The main topic of his research is physical mediumship. Physical mediumship involves manifestations such as raps, taps, de/materialized objects, and even ectoplasm. This differs from mental mediumship, which is a form of telepathy used to communicate with spirits, and trance mediumship, which is a form of mental mediumship where the spirit uses the mind of the medium to deliver messages. He notes how members of the lodge feel a reconnection between the physical and spiritual world through witnessing these paranormal experiences, which can be quite a spiritual experience.

The section I liked the most was “Naturalising the supernatural” where Hunter writes about how phenomena that are considered “supernatural” would not be considered so in other culture systems. Cultures outside the Western materialistic approach would see some of these phenomena as natural and a part of daily life. He draws on the writing of social scientist Durkheim, who pointed out supernatural only exists because a natural order exists, but as Hunter writes, “To a certain extent, then we can say that what is deemed possible is both limited and facilitated by cultural norms and expectations.”4

Now that was something I could deeply relate to, both personally and professionally. Since I was innately aware of the spirit world from a very young age (I saw ghosts and was aware of the presence of spirit during adolescence, I also became a youthful paranormal explorer. By my teenage years, I had read countless ghost stories of my local area, presented about the haunted history of town, and catalogued undocumented accounts.

In college, I majored in psychology, but I was quickly frustrated with the exclusion of psychic phenomena. I knew by the time I graduated that the traditional route was not for me, and I began exploring other subsets of psychology such as Jungian (or Depth Psychology) and Transpersonal psychology, but even these were not fully inclusive of what I had very subjectively experience in communication with spirits, as well as in sessions with many mediums over the years. Alas, paranormal studies have sufficed, but I too longed to bridge the gap with academia.

It is for this reason Manifesting Spirits is so immensely valuable to the field. It takes paranormal studies and integrates them into an academic framework that is usable for future research. Reading this book, I just kept thinking how much I wished I had it for reference when attempting to put forth these ideas in my academic studies. I am grateful to have it now, as I truly think this is a foundational book in many fields, from psychology to anthropology, and even religious studies. I truly think I would have written a different thesis had this book existed at the time of my research because it would have empowered me to believe writing and researching on these topics was possible.

Manifesting Spirits is a truly ground-breaking work that I am sure will be referenced by many to come. It completely opens doors to the study of these new realms. Hunter’s research methods are unique and exactly what is needed to go beyond the current limits of research spirits, mediumship, and paranormal experience. It is a must-have for any serious paranormal researcher’s collection, as well as an enlightening read for those with an interest in mediumship. This review is certainly an understatement of the wealth of material presented by Hunter, from blending with spirits to an exploration of the seance. I highly recommend diving into yourself and being open to the emergent ideas and techniques that are bound to provide some revelation.

Horary Astrology, by Anthony Louis

Horary Astrology: The Theory and Practice of Finding Lost Objects, by Anthony Louis
Llewellyn Publications, 0738766997, 424 pages, February 2021

We’ve all been there: frantically search for our lost keys, precious jewelry, or important document. Often we’ll start grumbling about how “it must be somewhere” or perhaps say a quick prayer to beloved St. Anthony, finder of lost objects. But did you know that you can also use astrology to find what’s been lost?

Horary astrology is the art of answering questions by casting a chart based on the exact time the astrologer receives the question. When you’ve run out of options and finally decided to ask for guidance by casting an astrological chart, it can reveal the answer if one knows the techniques to interpret the chart.

In his book Horary Astrology: The Theory and Practice of Finding Lost Objects, Anthony Louis takes readers into a deep dive of this ancient art and provides a wonderful foundation for budding learners. Loaded with real-life examples and extremely detailed explanations of how to read horary charts, Horary Astrology is a wonderful starting point for a seasoned astrologer who hopes to further their knowledge in this branch of astrology.

I do emphasize seasoned though, because this book would most likely be a bit overwhelming for the novice astrologer. Though Louis provides thorough explanations of all his material, I think it’s worth noting the first chart of the book is featured on page eight, which pretty much indicates Louis isn’t giving us the background on how to read charts and we’re going right into things.

You should absolutely be familiar with the houses, zodiac signs, and planetary significance before diving in, though Lous does further explain much of this in regard to reading the chart from a horary perspective. For instance, there is a chapter “Houses and the Human Body,” and another “The Twelve Signs and Associated Physical Locations.” The chapter “The Signs” provides the indoor location related to each zodiac sign, along with possible locations based on the element of the sign.

The majority of the book draws from seventeenth-century astrology William Lily, most noted for his work Christian Astrology. This would be a great read for someone who wants to learn the techniques of Lily without delving into his few-hundred-year old work, as Louis is constantly referring to Lily throughout the whole book. For instance, Louis writes about via combusta, “which, according to Lilly, is an unlucky region from 15 libra to 15 Scorpio where the two Luminaries pass through the signs of their “dejection” or “fall,” implying a deprivation of solar and lunar light…”1 This is just one example of how Louis imparts Lilly’s wisdom into his own work and informs the reader in the process that I found immensely useful.

As for the examples of horary Louis provides, they are varied and absolutely fascinating! From missing people to garage door openers, I felt like I was a detective on a search in reading what was missing, and then I was absolutely thrilled to read how Louis pieced together the clues within the horary chart to solve the case. It really gave me a clear understanding of the application of the techniques Louis writes about in the first half of the book. The examples provided do a wonderful job of explaining his chart interpretation to answer the proposed question or locate what’s missing that really lay out Louis’s thought process.

Another chapter I really enjoyed was “Plantary Keywords of  Vettius Valens (C. 175 CE) where Louis shares lists of planetary keywords based on the work of second-century Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens. I think for someone who wants to engage in this type of astrology work, these keyword lists are very influential in being able to decipher the messages of the chart. However, the keywords also bring up my personal dislike for outdated associations with all the planets.

For instances, keywords of Saturn are “self-deprecating,” “downcast,” “tears and grief,” “unemployment,” and “childlessness” to name a few. Maybe I’m too modern for Hellenistic astrology, but I feel the associates can be very outdated, keeping the planets trapped in stereotypes with little room to expand. This is useful in horary astrology perhaps, which uses these keywords to solve real world problems, but I think it can hinder the greater impact of the different planets’ role in our expression.

This isn’t a book I was able to digest easily, and I certainly had to take it piece by piece. It is something that one would absolutely refer to time and time again, making it a worthy investment for a serious student. However, if one is just looking for a brief introduction or beginner’s guide to horary, this is definitely beyond that scope.

The next time you’re struggling to find something that’s lost, hopefully you’ll remember Horary Astrology. Maybe you’ll learn to decipher if it’s possible to find what’s lost, and if so, where it might be located. Taking on this practice will definitely make you feel like a detective. Louis’s insightful writing will deepen your understanding of how our daily life and the stars are so intimately connected, as long as you can see the clues. Though it’s not a light study, the rewards seem rich, which has kept this ancient art a worthy pursuit all the way to modern times.

Of Blood and Bones, by Kate Freuler

Of Blood and Bones: Working with Shadow Magick and the Dark Moon, by Kate Freuler
Llewellyn Publications, 0738763637, 312 pages, July 2020

… we all have a dark side. It’s part of who we are. Even the most peaceful of light workers casts a shadow. We all possess the ability to hate, to be angry, to be bitter, and to want revenge….if we can acknowledge our own darkness honestly, we can control it and channel it into something productive…”1

Of Blood and Bones: Working with Shadow Magick and the Dark Moon by Kate Freuler is a highly recommended title for any who want to deepen their practice of witchcraft and magick in a more balanced and polarized way. Much has been written about the power of moon magick in its more traditional phases; the dark moon always being cloaked in mystery and more of a one-sided stance on how to use its energies. Ms. Freuler faces the topic of dark moon magic head on and begins a dialogue of understanding of its subtleties in a way that leads the reader towards deeper exploration of the dark moon tides within oneself and its inherent support of shadow magick and workings.

As the title suggests, this is not your ordinary book about moon magick, traditional shadow work, or darker Deities. This is an exploration of calling forth the shadow that is cast from a brilliance of polarized light and learning to navigate the terrain as you claim your own dark nature as a source of power. The tools employed on this journey are literally of blood and bone, ashes, remains, rust, decay, debris and more. Their uses and many of the more maligned and misunderstood practices associated with the work of dark magick such as cursing, hexing, blood magick, and others is given the proper context for use. Freuler honors the ethics surrounding the choice and provides enough information to allow the reader to explore these practices using free will and holding the intention of seeing the bigger picture.

Of Blood and Bones is separated into five parts and fourteen chapters. It is written in a way that provides the reader with the tools to go about the work of inner reflection early on in the reading so that ultimately this more informed way can be carried into the outer expressions of that practitioner’s craft. A disclaimer section at the beginning of the book sets the appropriate tone for what follows and lends itself to the example of offering due diligence around the forthcoming subject matter, some of which involves the legality and proper obtaining of the ingredients used.

The spellwork contained in each chapter holds true to the intention of breaking through the hesitancy around workings of a darker nature. Materials used, the how, and the why are all very carefully outlined providing multiple layers of discernment to be developed by the practitioner about their use and when they would be needed. A Spell Index at the end of the book provides easy reference without the need to search through the chapters. Recommended Resources and an ample Bibliography conclude the book, pulling everything together in a user-friendly way from start to finish.

The introduction, “It’s Not All Love and Light,” prepares the reader to take a look at all of the aspects of witchcraft and magickal workings. The reader is reminded that there are aspects of light and dark in all endeavors and for a synthesized and whole practice to develop we have to embrace all of the polarities within our practice. Ethics takes center stage throughout the book and the encouragement to allow those darker aspects that we all possess to come forward to be dealt with and acknowledged is the underpinning of becoming more informed in our practice.

“To be truly connected to nature, the seasons and the cycles of life, we must be balanced; we must acknowledge, accept and embrace the darkness of our spirits as fully as the light parts. This doesn’t mean that we should indulge in negativity and harmful behavior but rather accept these traits as guides and teachers in our personal growth. From there we can transform our lives…”2

“Part 1: Shadow Work and the Dark Moon Current” and the chapters contained within give a very through overview of everything that is needed to begin this journey of dark magick. Listings of Deities aligned with dark magick, moon tides, incense recipes, altars and rituals of dedication provide the reader with ample information to proceed more informed than when starting, now knowing that this work is deeply transformational and to expect to emerge from the dark forever changed.

“Part II: Blood and Bones” exposes the reader to the old ways of the craft and the repurposing of objects for magick, knowing their inherent power. Body fluids such as blood, semen, urine, menstrual blood, and saliva carry powerful and potent magick. Additionally, living a life very close to nature, animal parts were often employed in spells and rituals; their power derived from the earth itself and the specific energy that a particular animal carried. There were no magick stores and everything was seen as sacred and holding its own mantle of power.

“These (subjects) that people find so terrifying make up our very life energy. Blood, semen, urine, menses, bones, and even saliva are literally at the core of survival. Their presence creates life, and their absence takes life away. So, while these topics can be gory, gritty and gross, they speak to people on a primitive level as old as the earth…”3

“Part III: The Forbidden Craft” hones in on some of the more controversial topics surrounding shadow magick. Had the strong component of ethics that flowed through the book not been abundantly present, misunderstanding of the intention and the ultimate categorizing of this book with others that are wholly about revenge, retribution, misplaced power, and harm could have become a lost moment in discernment around what is not so clearly black or white, good or bad, or able to be defined by any of the usual semantics used. Curses, hexes, bindings, death magick, and more are fully discussed from the perspective of when these methods would be appropriately used and the greater ramifications surrounding the intention and its greater energetic effects on both the practitioner and the recipient.

“Chapter 8: A Witch’s Curios” offers the reader an inside look at some of the tools such as broken mirrors, rusty nails, bullet casings, graveyard dirt, hair and nails, and more that typically are not incorporated into spellwork. These are the objects of magick that lay discarded or of fearsome touch: all that lay at the threshold of death and all that are the necessary unwanted reminders of something not entirely of the light. The use for these objects and energies they carry are outlined and spells using items such as these are included. The ethical and legal aspects of collecting graveyard dirt or obtaining some of the other items is thoroughly discussed for informed decision in acquiring and using these as part of your magick.

“In the dark witch’s cabinet there are some things that are repulsive, some things that smell yucky, some things that are frightening, and some things that society as a whole just wants you to ignore. Grab your hand sanitizer and come on in…”4

Of Blood and Bones is a book that will definitely evoke strong opinions about its content. Much of what is provided would be considered by some to be less than wholesome magick, while I suspect others will delight in adding new perspective and tools to a practice that is already dedicated to shadow magick. What cannot be denied is that the compilation of this work clearly shows knowledge by Freuler of all aspects of a balanced practice of magick and respect and reference for those less mainstream practices. We are part of the natural world that at times can be uninviting, messy, unforgiving, overtly blunt, and all together disruptive in its nature. And, this is what makes for a practice that is fully integrated into both the decay and the new life that are part of a continual cycle of being.

There is more that I could say about the details of this book, but it would be a disservice and muddy the intent. This is work (and reading) that must be absorbed through experience and claimed by trial and error. This is a power and way of working that is ancient in all of the ways of that simple word, and so the inroads and understands go deep and reach far. There is much to digest in this book, but with each doing and reading, another mystery within the reader will be revealed — another option for practice will be shown. A deepening of connection to the world and work as co-creator of that light and dark will become who you truly are as a witch.

“As you emerge from your shadow work, you may find that everything around you seems different. This is because you are different. Your perspective has deepened and expanded, balancing the light and the dark…”5