✨ A Gathering Place for Magical Readers and Writers ✨

Queering Your Craft, by Cassandra Snow

Queering Your Craft: Witchcraft from the Margins, by Cassandra Snow
Weiser Books, 1578637218, 288pages, November 2020

From now on, whenever someone asks to me to recommend a book about getting started in witchcraft, this is the book I am going to recommend, whether or not that person is queer.  I say this because Queering Your Craft: Witchcraft from the Margins by Cassandra Snow breaks the practice of witchcraft down into simple components that can be picked up by anyone, anywhere and used however they wish, making the craft of magick much more of a personal celebration of creativity, passion and power.  To make the craft of magick-making accessible to a diverse, marginalized population, Snow guides their readers on how to customize their craft so that it can hold meaning and be powerful, even when practiced individually, on a budget and with limited resources. 

This is a “how-to” book on making magick and living a magickal lifestyle. First though, Snow tells us why we need a specifically “queer” magic textbook. The two most influential craft-based magical lineages in the West, Gerard Gardener’s Wicca and Alistair Crowley’s Thelema use symbolism and themes strongly rooted in gender-binaries, which can be alienating to the growing population of the magickally inclined who identify as non-binary. 1

For Snow, queering magic is recreating symbols, themes, and sacred space for a wide variety of gender and sexuality variance.  Their first step on this path is offering a “Queer Witch Manifesto” in the introduction of the book, which Snow refers back to repeatedly throughout the book as an ethical framework for practicing magickal craft and identifying as a witch.  Snow’s “Queer Witch Manifesto” acknowledges (in sum):

✨Infinite genders and sexual identities. (Throughout the book Snow uses the abbreviation LGBTQIA2SP+ whenever referring to queer-identified individuals)
✨The need to dismantle white supremacy and patriarchal power and the need for this dismantling to come from the non-white community.
✨The positivity of all expressions of consensual sexuality.
✨That anyone can invoke Goddess energy regardless of whether they have a uterus.
✨Physical, emotional, and mental disabilities do not make a person unable to practice magic.
✨Personal healing is a precursor to collective healing.
✨We must protect and heal the Earth.
✨We are all equals in magic.
✨All bodies can be magical, regardless of ableism.

I kind of want to needlepoint this onto a pillow! How about you?! 

Laying out this list (with much clearer articulation and more detail than my summary here) at the beginning of the book, the rest of the book is about practicing the craft of magic-making.  Snow knows history and as a result is able to deconstruct magical rites, rituals, and practices from their origins in order to present them as something simple anyone can start to practice. For example, they note the transformative magick of making lists, ““My money magick usually… starts with a list of my financial goals and immediate needs and then I add a list of long-term goals.” 2. Then for the the transformative magick of prayer to a spiritual being, Snow writes “Prayer is so easy, free, and accessible that anyone can do it…. A quick prayer that is literally just ‘thank you’ when you get unexpected luck or a despairing “please help” when you’re feeling your absolute worst is enough.” 3

Snow strongly advocates a DIY Witchcraft, which is making your magickal craft out of what is available to you and infusing your magick with intentions specific to you.  While she does discuss some examples of collective magick, such as covens or working spells in a group context for political aims, Snow acknowledges that for queer people, the most powerful accessible magick may be that which they create on their own from their own hodge-podge of wisdom, creativity, desire, and power. Snow even offers a “how-to” worksheet for designing one’s own spells.

My personal favorite parts of Queering Your Craft is the section on “Fashion and Style Witchcraft” where your magickal intentions can be enhanced by dressing a certain way. Snow writes, “I might pull out a purple outfit for creativity.  I also might pull out a long pencil skirt and a button-down to give myself that “professional writer” feeling.”4 Then later in the book, I also really like Snow’s list of LGBTQIA2SP+ aligned gods and goddesses, including Athena, Loki, and my personal favorite discovery — a Drag Queen God from the Voodoo tradition named Ghede Nibo.5

For the seasoned practitioner, this book may seem elementary.  Snow summarizes common methods of divination such as tarot, astrology, and runes.  They explain the significance of the Four Elements (five including “Spirit”) and how to call them in. They offer a guide to the Lunar phases and Sabbat holidays. This is truly an inclusive essential starter handbook, inclusive on all fronts! However, the manner in which Snow explains the cornerstones of witchcraft and presents them in regard to the Manifesto outlined in the front of the book widens the lens through which these practices are understood and used — and this is exactly the point.  For the purpose of this book is to make magick accessible to anyone and to make magick empowering to those who may not feel at so at home in straight cis-gendered spaces. 

Queering Your Craft concludes with a queer grimoire, including spells “A Protection Spell for Trans People in Small Towns,” “A Protection Spell for QTBIPOC,” A Spell of Protection Against the Patriarchy,” “An Anti-Gatekeeper Spell,” and “A Spell to Protect Activists,” plus many more spells to fill all categories.

Kali Journal, by Alana Fairchid

Kali Journal:  Sadhana for Sacred Introversion, by Alana Fairchild and ilustrated by Jimmy Manton
Blue Angel Publishing, 0648746751, 220 pages, 2021

On first glance at the Kali Journal: Sadhana for Sacred Introversion, my senses were overwhelmed with the beauty and majesty of the artwork.  Author Alana Fairchild and artist Jimmy Manton have taken the incredible art from her Kali Oracle Deck and interspersed the pages of this journal with the stunning images.  There are over 40 full page, full color renderings of the Goddess Kali, her ritualistic tools, and other sacred symbols.

In addition to presenting a journal that includes both lined pages and a few unlined pages for sketching or other uses, Fairchild adds general information about Kali, moon phase rituals, mantras and a prayer dance for healing.   Each of the two page spreads also includes an affirmation, blessing or message from Goddess Kali. The paper is a very nice quality and is a warm buff color that really sets off the artwork.

Alana Fairchild is a spiritual mentor based in Australia, who has published over 20 oracle decks, 30 albums of sacred music and meditations, and 13 books. Since I have a few of Fairchild’s oracle decks, this journal really interested me.  Jimmy Manton is the artist for the artwork.  He is an award-winning illustrator who is also based in Australia.  He has illustrated numerous tarot and oracle decks. 

When I initially opened the Kali Journal, I was really interested in learning more about the history of the goddess and how she represents the energy of the Divine Mother/Divine Feminine. According to Fairchild, Kali represents the “wild, gracious and transformational realm of the dark face of the Divine Mother.”1 I was intrigued and drawn in, anxious to know more about how the Goddess Kali might support me on my spiritual path. Kali is the Hindu Goddess of time, creation, destruction, power and liberation.  The very first quote was quite arresting:

Within, you have the power of the Divine Mother’s wisdom and blessing. 
Do not underestimate her. 
Do not underestimate yourself.2

Fairchild explains that “Sadhana” comes from the Sanskrit and means “to accomplish.” In this use, she is referring to spiritual practices that foster healing and support us as we move toward enlightenment. Introversion is a psychological term that means the tendency to be concerned with one’s own thoughts and feelings, rather than with external things. So, this journal is a tool to help one with accomplishing a review of one’s thoughts and feelings. 

One particular Kali yantra and mudra practice really supported me through a time when I was experiencing a struggle with my mother.  It is called “Kali Yantra and Mudra Practice to Banish Negative Interference.” With this practice, I learned that a YANTRA is a sacred geometric symbol that can act as a portal to the temple of a god or goddess. One gazes on the visual element, as you would a candle flame or other sacred symbol. The practice also included a special hand mudra and several mantas for recitation. By invoking the power of Kali and using the specific mudra, the yantra, and several mantras, I was able to realign, recalibrate, and heal myself. The next time I talked with my mother, I was aware of my own healing and an energetic shift that had taken place.

Fairchild has created a journal that can benefit anyone, from the novice spiritual seeker to a seasoned soul traveler.  You can go as deep with the rituals as you want to go or simply use the lined pages as a journal and benefit from the uplifting messages on each page. The book is an undated journal, which you can use for any purpose you want. Both covers are designed with a folded extension, so you can mark your place in your journal. I really love this feature and the cover is a nice card stock that makes this feature easy to use. 

The Kali artwork really brings alive the energy and history of Kali and inspires me every time I open the pages. Manton’s use of rich, jewel-tone colors makes each depiction of the Goddess Kali and her consorts come alive on the page.  Many of the images portray the goddess with blue skin, burgundy lips, and dark penetrating eyes.  Yet, these images are not scary or off-putting.  Rather, each one seems to jump off the page with an aliveness that is spontaneous, inspiring, and arresting. 

Kali Journal is for anyone wanting to release and heal life issues and seek the liberation that the Goddess Kali can bring into your life. I recommend this journal for anyone who wants to connect to the magic and healing power of Kali, the “goddess of fierce protection and wild grace.”3 I plan to use the journal for my weekly Saturday wrap-up and use the rituals to release the week and move on to new adventures.

11.11 Oracle, by Alana Fairchild

11.11 Oracle:  Answers to Uplift and Shift, by Alana Fairchild
Blue Angel Publishing, 0738767077, 302 pages, June 2020

Have you seen 11.11 recently?  Are other numbers repeating in your world, such as 1:11 or 2:22 or some other number that has relevance to you? Do you see the same three-number sequence on a clock, your phone, emails or receipts? Some would say that these repeating numbers may be a sign or message from the Universe.  Spiritual mentor Alana Fairchild says that the 11.11 number is not only a sign, but it also has a unique purpose to “awaken, uplift and inspire us.”1

In 11.11 Oracle: Answers to Uplift and Shift, Fairchild shares a lengthy explanation about the power of 11.11 and her belief that “every instance of 11.11 is the Universe reassuring us.”2  Fairchild even includes an invocation that you can use to tune into the 11.11 frequency. Instead of continuing to reinforce old thoughts and patterns based on the ego, Fairchild invites the reader to attune to the power of 11.11 and grow past fear, anger and other lower frequencies. Using the frequency of 11.11 can bring you into harmony with higher consciousness

Fairchild is a spiritual teacher based in Australia, who has published over 20 oracle decks, 30 albums of sacred music and meditations, and 13 books. Since I have a few of Fairchild’s oracle decks and recently misplaced my angel number guidebook, I was particularly interested in this book of number signs.

Fairchild packs quite a lot of information in this small book that is only 6.5 X 6.5.  Beginning with the explanation of 11.11 and the importance of this frequency, she shares ways to align with the positive energy that this number represents.  Her words are encouraging, supportive, and even funny at times. 

Then, Fairchild shares an invocation that you can use to tune into the vibration of 11.11 whenever you want to do so.  You may also use the invocation before looking up guidance from any number in this book.  She suggests two ways to use the book:

1. Randomly flip open a page and let the index finger of your non-dominant hand land upon a number.

2. Look up the number you continue to see in your daily existence.  

For example, I kept seeing 848 in several ways.  I saw 8:48 on my computer, on my phone and then I heard someone on TV say 848. So, I opened the book to number 848 and read the message:

“I focus on grounding, connecting to my body and the earth, so that the sacred partnership between heaven and earth may manifest itself in my life.” 3

This message was very pertinent to me, because I had experienced a few days of feeling like I was floating and flitting all over the place. It was a gentle reminder to go out in my backyard and ground myself. I was also reminded that I am a part of the Great All That Is. 

On another day, I was feeling a little lost and uninspired.  So, I followed Fairchild’s guidance and went into my heart, asked this question: “What do I need to know to move forward with inspiration and support?” Then, I closed my eyes and randomly opened the book.  My index finger on my non-dominant hand fell upon the number and message for #595:

“No problem, confusion or difficulty can withstand the liberating clarity and healing influence of spiritual grace, which brings sweet relief to my life now.” 4

Shortly after reading this encouraging message, I got the idea to call a trusted friend and talk through a situation I was encountering and she was a kind listener who also had a few words of guidance.

Fairchild has created a very complete number guide to healing and uplifting messages from the Universe.  The numbers range from 1 to 1111 and cover a myriad of topics for support on your spiritual journey.  This book is the perfect size for a desktop reference book.  I love the simplicity and the depth of this guidance offered.  The book is arranged in numerical order, with about 8 messages shown on each two-page spread.  She highlights some messages by giving the message a full page, and she uses shading on other pages to break up the information. I love that Fairchild included a burgundy ribbon that you may use as a placeholder for this oracle book.  Many times, I like to mark the place of a prior number I’ve reviewed and reread the info before looking for another number that I want to investigate. 

This book is a great book for those who are newly embarking on their spiritual journey, as well as those with more experience.  The guidance shared is very easy to understand and can also be applied on several levels. Fairchild has channeled the information shared within these pages. 

I plan to keep the book on my coffee table, as a resource for both my husband and myself.  After he saw it on my desk a few days ago, he asked me what it was.  After I gave him a brief explanation, he picked up the book and searched a number he had seen in a dream:  #424.

Your Guardian Angel brings the message that spiritual assistance is helping you heal and resolve whatever matter is now on your mind.” 5

“Thanks!” he said and then he got up to go meditate and ask for more guidance regarding the dream.

I love the idea of using this new resource for guidance, encouragement and a way to shift my perspective on my daily spiritual path. If you’ve been seeing the same number or number sequences over and over again, then 11.11 Oracle is also for you!

Zeitgeist Nostalgia, by Alessandro Gandini

Zeitgeist Nostalgia: On Populism, Work and the ‘Good Life’, by Alessandro Gandini
Zero Books, 1789044472, 123 pages, December 2020

The social contract has quite rapidly been eroded by advancement in technology, globalization, and neoliberal economic policies of the past few decades. In Zeitgeist Nostalgia: On Populism, Work, and the ‘Good Life’, Alessandro Gandini examines how the result of this transformation has created an age of nostalgia, or wistful, sentimental longing for the past. As societies grapple with the uncertainty of our future, the happy times of the past have become a refuge. The current climate when viewed through this lens of nostalgia offers insight into what has shifted in the past 70 years, lending insight into the present moment in time and offering food for thought about the impact of this sentiment on our future.

Gandini has done a wonderful job in writing Zeitgeist Nostalgia to be the perfect mix of academic research with his own observation and reflections on the state of the world. I admire his attunement to the present moment, and also his clarity of mind to elucidate what is happening, and how we got to the present state we’re in. He presents theories for the future from a range of social theorists and historians, plus techno-economists, that make for a supremely interesting read.

“OK Boomer.” — the recently popularized Tik-Tok phrase to mock the Baby Boomer generation has become all the rage in recent months. The apparent divide between the ages seems to be facilitated by the different cultural events, attitudes, and quite frankly, reality that each group of people was raised within. While the Baby Boomers grew up in the thick of the flourishing of the American Dream, characterized by stable employment, a promise of security, and promotion of mass consumption, the subsequent generations seem to keep getting the short end of the stick as this ideal has disintegrated over the decades.

Currently the millennial generation is finding their job prospects are more irregular and unstable, housing prices are soaring compared to minimum wages, and security is no longer a promise any government can make. The future remains unclear, but Zeitgeist Nostalgia helps to map out these changes with Gandini bringing together the relevant pieces to actually make sense of what the heck is happening in these times of fear and uncertainty felt worldwide.

While many in the younger generations have learned to adapt to this new paradigm, it is the Baby Boomers, who unable to cope with the uncertainty and challenges presented by technological innovation, a falling-out between citizen and government, and progressive values, are turning back to the past when things were more simple. This wave of collective nostalgia sweeping the nation is having social and political effects, ranging from the Brexit vote to the presidency of Donald Trump, with hopes of “taking back control” to eliminate the insecurity faced in the midst of immense change.

At the heart of these populist movements is a desire to return to the “golden age” based upon patriarchy, heterosexual, white norms once upheld and cherished as an ideal. However, a good majority of up and coming generations hold very different values, after seeing the destruction of neoliberal globalization and having a new openness to ways of living that are outside the borders of the traditional “good life,” quite literally in their regard for immigrants. Gandini specifically focuses on events in America and England, but also highlights trends in other areas of the world too to really give a full picture of how this collective nostalgia is playing out globally.

As a millennial myself, I absolutely could relate to Gandini’s writing. I found it immensely relevant to my own personal situation, especially the chapter “ A post-employment society?” which is something I feel I have been doing my best to embody, despite not having a framework for how this future might look. I am constantly noticing which friends of mine are still following along with the traditional American dream (marriage, home ownership, family) and also cherishing my bonds with those who also see the foundation of that society is falling apart, choosing to forge their own path in this new world instead, creating the future as we go.

What I really enjoyed in reading this book was Gandini’s assertion that hipsters are the one who may be doing things the right way. While acknowledging the socio-economic privilege of many hipsters, who are characterized by their vintage looks and discerning tastes, they are focusing less on material capital and relying on cultural capital to get by in the world. At the same hipsters, he asserted, are more focused on sustain processes and authentic outcomes in whatever their domain is, from natural wine connoisseur to old-school butcher, and less on creating products meant for mass consumption.

My former high school boyfriend turned “hipster” in young adulthood chose to forgo higher education and now is thriving brewing beer for a small, family owned and wildly successful brewery in a neighborhood that until the past five years was run-down and in an economic slump. In many ways I’ve envied him making a decent living, pursuing his passion, while I went the traditional route of college and am saddled with student debt comparable to a mortgage with what I’d say about the same job prospects, oftentimes forced to take work just to repay the loans.

The past decade, it’s only become more and more clear to me that we are radically shifting the way we organize our society, from the role technology now has in our daily lives to the acknowledgement that neoliberalism has run its course after the multitude of economic and environmental disasters it has created, though many can still not envision a world without capitalism. We want a change, and we need a change. Without providing a concrete answer, this book helped to broaden my horizons, especially awakening me to the fact these trends I’ve been feeling extend beyond just the United States, notifying me that this is a global ripple that is bound to have far-reaching effects.

Gandini’s academic background clearly shines through this book. He is currently a senior researcher in Digital Sociology at the University of Milan. Formerly, he was a lecturer for Kings College in London. The ideas in Zeitgeist Nostalgia are penetrating, and truly invite the reader to think and do their own research. Gandini fills the pages with his observations, going beyond being merely an academic text. I am impressed with his thorough understanding of history, particularly American history, and amazed at how he seems to clearly have a strong intellectual grasp on the current state of affairs.

I highly recommend Zeitgeist Nostalgia to those with an interest in culture, history, politics, and economics. Gandini has filled the pages with thoughtful social critique backed by plenty of research and anecdotal examples of what he is discussing. Particularly in light of the radical divide between the values of older and younger generations, this book is helpful in understanding how we’ve gotten to this place as a society.

As Gandini points out, waves of nostalgia are common in history in the face of rapid transformation, and often is the forerunner to revolution. Whether salvation comes through the hipsters or not, I certainly know the future crafted by young adults is bound to be centered upon very different societal values. It’s worth thinking about what these values are and how we’d like to see them emerge in the years to come.

Astrology for Mystics, by Tayannah Lee McQuillar

Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart, by Tayannah Lee McQuillar
Destiny Books, 1644110515, 176 pages, March 2021

There’s so many lenses through which one can embrace astrology, but my personal favorite has always been a spiritual perspective. Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart by Tayannah Lee McQuillar is a soulful dive into the element of water in one’s natal chart. By tapping into the healing, mysterious currents of the 4th, 8th, and 12th house, McQuillar takes us on a journey to discover and illuminate the depths of our astrology chart as shown by the sign and planet placements.

I think my favorite part of the entire book was the Introduction, “What is a Mystic?”, most likely because I’ve been pondering this question myself recently. McQuillar’s writing demonstrates such wisdom and insight that it makes it clear her spirituality has emerged through authenticity, originality, and genuineness. I immediately felt both trust and respect for her, which made me feel safely held as I proceeded onward.

“Mystics are the foundation of all religious and spiritual systems in the world. Someone, somewhere, at some time had to be the first to wonder if what she was being told about the divine was true and to seek a direct mystical experience in order to confirm or deny it for herself. Then, from that experience, that person formed ideas regarding the truth or nature of existence.”1

Her assurance that this book is meant to assist one in creating their own “individualized occult philosophy and spiritual regimen, one that doesn’t require you to believe anyone else, follow everyone else, or become someone else”2 greatly put this Aquarian at ease as I dove into the water in my chart.

Honestly, water has always been the element I connected with least, so I was looking forward to hopefully taking my time reading to figure out why and how I could better establish a connection to the energy of these houses in my chart. McQuillar lays a wonderful foundation by sharing a bit about what sets water apart from the elements. From how we can consume it and feel its nourishing effects, to the wide spread healing properties, her writing made me take a moment of pause in gratitude for all the water in the world.

By looking to the role of water in mythology, and sharing with the reader different spirits, gods, goddesses that are related to the water, McQuillar highlights water as the foundation of creation. The origin story of many cultures through time have evolved from a watery abyss, likewise the destruction of civilizations occurs through water when people have forgotten the importance of living in alignment. On that note, I appreciated McQuillar’s words on how our current society is allowing for the sacred waterways to become polluted. She puts forth an impactful call to stop these harmful practices and cherish the water supply here on earth.

For those who may be new to this level of astrological exploration, McQuillar teaches the reader how to look up their own chart and see the houses within it to discover the zodiac sign the house is located within and any planets there. She discusses the glyphs to help the reader know what to look for in their chart, and also gives a little overview of each sign with keywords to get a feel for them.

After this introduction into glyphs and astrological energy, McQuillar goes through the 4th, 8th, and 12th house respectively to give a bit of information about the zodiac sign and planet. First is an introduction to these houses, followed by each zodiac sign in those houses.

For every house, McQuillar focuses on the main themes of that house and explains how the energy in the chart of each sign would come through. For example, the 8th house sections are Sexual Intimacy, Your Elevated Self-Image, Your Secret Power, and Transformation and Endings. Based on which sign their 8th house is located within, the reader can learn more about the specifics of their chart.

Next, McQuillar discusses the specific meaning of each planet, providing information about their zodiac sign ruler and co-ruler as well. She then goes through the 4th, 8th, and 12th house and gives a description of each of the seven planets (thankfully, she included transpersonal planets!) in each one. I found her descriptions to be very illuminating, and reading this book came at a particularly apt time for me personally.

While doing a zodiac meditation earlier this week, I realized that I had immense trouble connecting with my Jupiter in Cancer in the 12th house; I simply could not sense the energy, nor get an intuitive grasp on this area of my chart. Reading the description of Cancer on the 12th house brought to my attention some traits that I didn’t immediately recognize within myself, but in reflection saw how they were in play in my life.

I think with the 12th house especially it’s beneficial to have an “outside” perspective because this can often be one of the tougher spots to see about oneself, as it’s related to our hidden, unconscious self. McQuillar calls this the house of “Unspoken Expectations, Confinement, Karma, Loss, and Self-Sabotage,”3 which can make it a bit difficult to delve into these placements lightly.

Luckily, I felt a bit of an optimistic boost from reading about Jupiter in the 12th house. It reaffirmed the initial connection to my spirituality that I usually always feel, and it also reminded me of the feelings of good will I get from being active in communities where I get to share my spiritual gifts.

This all being said, there were a few descriptions that I didn’t resonate with immediately, such as my Pluto in the 4th house, which implied a violence or abuse in my upbringing. However, I don’t think it diminishes the quality of information being shared, even if it felt like a more textbook description for me. I took McQuillar’s mystic approach of embracing what resonated with me and releasing what did not stick.

Plus, I am aware enough to know that sometimes energy and the meaning of the planets and signs can take time to sink in. Since this book is centered on the water houses specifically, it may take a bit more time to dive into these depths, swim within them, and emerge with a fresh breath of clarity. I would advise readers to have patience in moving through this book and taking the time to really explore their chart house by house using all the wisdom McQuillar has graciously offered.

I highly recommend Astrology for Mystics for those who want a guide for navigating the watery realms of their chart. For astrological novice, this can be a wonderful book to tap into the uncharted energy of the 4th, 8th, and 12th house in their chart. Those with advanced knowledge in astrology are sure to discover something new as well since McQuillar offers her own insight, which is soulful and poignant. It can be so very nice to have a “hand to hold” or a book to anchor us as we take the plunge into the occult depths of our natal charts, and McQuillar perfectly holds that space for us.

Yoga by the Stars, by Jilly Shipway

Yoga by the Stars: Practices & Meditations Inspired by the Zodiac, by Jilly Shipway
Llewellyn Publications, 0738763866, 272 pages, December 2020

When I was looking for something to shake up and add new dimensions to my yoga routine, I couldn’t have done better than to pick up Yoga By The Stars: Practices & Meditations Inspired by the Zodiac by Jilly Shipway. Although my knowledge of astrology isn’t expansive, I found Shipway’s book to be both accessible and inspiring. I love how she marries yoga practices tailored to each sign of the zodiac with meditative practices, prompts, and reflective exercises – all of which coalesce into a holistic dive through the “archetypal personalities” represented by the star signs.

Yoga By The Stars is broken into two main parts. In Part 1, Shipway outlines her general approach and provides some background information on both yoga and astrology. Part 2 consists of the twelve monthly practices corresponding to the signs of the zodiac, starting with Aries and moving through the rest of the astrological year.

Although one might expect to find only a unique yoga routine in each chapter of Part 2, I was overwhelmed by the wealth of ideas and practices in these sections. It is clear that Shipway put great care and thought into devising both the yoga sequences, the series of meditation prompts, and exploratory exercises for each month of the zodiac.

From the get-go in Part 1, Shipway assures the reader that no prior knowledge of astrology is necessary to explore the practices offered in Yoga By The Stars. Nor does one need to be an advanced yogi to complete the routines found in the book, though at least some experience with yoga asanas (poses) is definitely a plus.

Shipway proposes that undertaking a practice mixing astrological energy with yoga, one can embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-knowledge through observing how each of these archetypal personalities manifest within us, connecting us mind, body, and spirit to the vast cosmos.

She distinguishes herself from other astrologers in that she does not present an astrological yoga practice for the purpose of prediction, but treats the zodiac “as twelve archetypal personalities who are universally recognized and resonate with something deep in our own psyche.”1

One of the most integrative aspects of Shipway’s process is how she attunes the yoga practice to the cycles of the stars and seasons. Although the practices in Yoga By The Stars can be undertaken at any time during the year, she recommends using the practice of each sign during its time in the yearly cycle. This method will help us to align ourselves with the energy of that sign and, as a result, explore that aspect of ourselves which resonates with that archetypal personality.

Shipway also offers affirmations that can be used before, during, or after the yoga routine – or really, anytime one wants to while the Sun transits the particular sign of the zodiac. Furthermore, the meditation questions the author provides at the end of every chapter offer great ways to tune in to the perspective offered by each sign. Through contemplating or journaling about these questions, one can engage in both plumbing the depths of self-knowledge and engaging with the perspective offered by the sign.

Delving into Part 2 of the text, I found that using mantras during the yoga practice helped focus my attention and help tune my breath to my mind and body. I especially loved Shipway’s affirmation for the Pisces practice: In – A flower blossoms. Out – With each breath.2 She counsels the reader to use this meditation with the breath cycle to create the experience of continual renewal.

Each line of the mantra is a beginning as well as an ending, easing the yogi into a rhythmic cycle of breath and focused concentration. When implementing this in my own yoga practice, the continual use of the zodiac mantras, which I did for both Aquarius and Pisces season, helped me tap in and flow with the movements more deeply and easily than in much of my normal yoga regimen. I also felt a great sense of connection to the astrological energy of the moment as well, heightening my attunement to the current season.

Those already familiar with astrology, especially as a spiritual practice, know that attunement to the cycles of Nature is a critical method to harmonize oneself with the flow of the Cosmos. In addition to the guidance and exercises the author provides, Yoga By The Stars also contains little gems of wisdom interspersed throughout each chapter. This gave me the sense that Shipway truly embodies her craft, inspiring the reader to move beyond yoga as simply a kind of exercise to embracing its spiritual depths.

“Yoga is a rainbow bridge uniting heaven and earth. It celebrates an embodied spirituality lived out in cycles. The Sun rises, the Sun sets, and the next morning rises again.”3

Unfortunately, I have yet to complete an entire yoga cycle around the zodiac before having to write this review. I could have gone through and tried each of the yoga sequences for the different signs a couple times, but this did not feel quite right. Each yoga set, along with the accompanying meditation questions, invites one to really dig in deep to the energy of each sign. Moving too quickly between one sign and the next makes it difficult to truly connect with and embody each archetypal personality, so I’ve only done the sequences I’ve had the book for thus far.

Although practicing a yoga sequence from any book can be difficult, Shipway made it as easy as possible. Each asana of a sequence is thoroughly described and accompanied by simple stick-figure illustrations to guide the reader. Moreover, she summarizes each sequence in the form of a list as well as the complete series of illustrations. This was immensely helpful in thoroughly learning the yoga routine without having to flip through the book in the midst of practice. And once I’d gotten down the basic sequence after doing it daily for about a week, I was easily able to incorporate variations depending upon what I was feeling that day.

What really solidified the experience and growth in understanding the archetypal personalities was drawing upon the meditation prompts when I was away from the yoga mat. Whether it was before bed or at some random point during the day, one of the month’s prompts would breeze across my mind. Although I did not always have time to consciously contemplate the question, I knew that some part of my psyche was working through the idea and, thus, helping to ground me in the mindset of the month’s sign.

Overall, I cannot give enough praise to Shipway’s Yoga By The Stars! Writing a book to teach yoga sequences is difficult enough on its own, let alone integrating the practice with thought-provoking and inspiring astrological concepts. Shipway’s writing is inviting and easy to follow, with enough detail when needed, but not so much that it overwhelms the reader or turns into a treatise. Her masterful combination of yoga and meditation exercises is perfect for anyone interested in expanding their practice both on and off the mat. And even though the book is beginner-friendly, readers with advanced knowledge of astrology and/or yoga will find something unique and enlightening in Shipway’s  merging of the two practices.

Tarot No Questions Asked, by Theresa Reed

Tarot No Questions Asked: Mastering the Art of Intuitive Reading, by Theresa Reed
Weiser Books, 9781578637133, 304 pages, September 2020

Theresa Reed is clearly on a roll! Tarot No Questions Asked: Mastering the Art of Intuitive Reading, published in September 2020, is her third book published in a fourteen month period. Tarot for Troubled Times: Confront Your Shadow, Heal Your Self & Transform the World, co-authored with Shaheen Miro, was published in July 2019, and Astrology for Real Life: A Workbook for Beginners (A No B.S. Guide for the Astro-Curious) in October 2019. I enjoyed this third book so much I ordered the first two immediately after starting to read it!

Here’s why I loved Reed’s book. First, I vibe with her attitude of empowering others. She wants her readers to benefit from all her experience and generously offers the nuggets of her experience. Second, she expresses herself clearly and simply, without oversimplifying or underestimating the reader. Third, she gives you clear directions throughout. (To begin, she instructs you to get a deck and a journal or two and to journal daily.) Finally, her style of writing makes her easy to read. She uses short sentences — often, very short. She does not hold back on her personal anecdotes. And she lets her sense of humor shine.  All this makes her very easy and very entertaining to read. 

The book is divided mainly into three parts. Part 1: Tarot Basics covers the 78 cards. I like how she discusses each card – what it is and what it is not — and then offers three additional exercises that really teaches the meaning of the card: (1) embodiment practice, (2) a question to ponder, and a (3) Tarotcise (a tarot exercise). For example, for the major arcana card Death (my favorite, apt since I have my Sun in Scorpio), she gives two examples where other cards meant death, while Death card itself primarily means change or transformation. For the embodiment practice for the major arcana card The Star, she invites you to not complain for 30 days. “Sounds easy? It’s not! But it will change your world, I promise. Pick a day and start.”1 (I’m going to start today!) The question to ponder for the major arcana card Judgement is “What makes you feel reborn?”2

The Tarotcize for the major arcana card The Fool is as follows:

“Sit with the Fool card for a few minutes. Which symbols stands out? Take out your journal and begin to riff on that symbol. Make a note of anything that comes to mind. Let your words flow without stopping to edit. Just write what you feel. Put this away and then reflect on your words on a later date. What did you uncover? What kind of connection did you make to this card?”3

I found that if I do the journaling, the fruits of the practice are obvious and convincing. 

These three exercises tailored to each card can really help seep the cards’ meaning into the reader’s body and consciousness. At least, for me, they really did that in such a profound way that learning about the cards for the past several years on my own had not done. The power of a good book by a good teacher!

The same format of explication applies to the 56 cards of the minor arcana cards. In addition, her description of the arc of the progression in the suit cards, from Ace to King, is helpful to show you how one leads to the other. For the Six of Wands, she writes “[a]fter the battle, the victory parade!”4 For the Seven of Wants: “[a]fter the sweet victory dance of the Six of Wands, we now see that the win was short lived.”5

Though I enjoyed Part 1, what makes me heartily recommend this book to others is Part 2: Intuition Basics and Part 3: Road Testing Your Skills. That’s where she distills four decades of her own experience into less than 120 pages. “[I]ntuitive tarot reading” means “you’re relying on your intuition – not the guidebook or manual that came with your tarot deck – to interpret the cards lying in front of you.”6 Intuition for her is “when you understanding something immediately, without any facts, logic, or reasoning”7 and it is like a muscle: “[t]he more you exercise, the stronger it gets!”8  She says something simple but crucial to her method: “A quiet mind hears better. Period.”9 That means the techniques for quieting the mind are essential. That led to the delightful surprise of a five page summary on how to do that. I’ll leave each reader to discover it  —  let me say that with my background of three decades of spiritual practices of various sorts, I loved her summary! 

Part 3 is the how-to section and includes Preparations (setting and intention matters!), three kinds of spreads (one card, Past Present Future, Celtic Cross), Methodology. This part includes her tips on details: Numbers, Timing, Significators, Missing Suits, etc. Reed succinctly offers her insights that she has earned through a lifetime of study and practice in some FAQ-type tidbits. Just the titles alone make me laugh: “That Reading Was Boring AF!,” “That Reading as Totally Wrong!,”  “Can I Ask the Question Again If I didn’t like the Outcome?”10 The book ends with a chapter on “Going Pro” that provides a pretty sweet blueprint for doing just that. 

To put my learning to the test, I did a few readings. I told my friends I’m trying out a new method of reading more from my intuition and impression of the cards than relying on a particular interpretation of the cards. I did a Celtic Cross reading for a friend regarding a worrisome work situation. Simply having read this book gave me a greater sense of confidence in my own interpretation and flow; I spoke what leapt out to me in the imagery as much as “the meaning” of the card.

When the Hierophant appeared in the spread as card 8 (environment, surroundings, and other influences), I said, someone with authority may be able to provide guidance that could resolve the situation. My friend brightened up and said, in fact, she had reached out to someone in such a position and was hoping that her boss would take that person’s input seriously. That gave my friend a sense of confidence that her reaching out to that person had been a good idea and that she could participate more assertively in the resolution of a sticky situation. I felt as though Theresa, through her book, had offered a transmission of her own confidence and years of practice. 

For its breadth and depth, I would say that Tarot No Questions Asked is good for anyone from beginner to experienced. For the beginner because it is easy and entertaining to read, while it can also be truly be a treasure trove of information. For the experienced as well because I deeply respect the depth of “living the tarot” that Reed provides through her embodiment exercises and Tarotcize suggestions. Though her ideas are described simply, they invite practices that can continue to deepen and enrich your readings for a lifetime.

The Spiritual Roots of the Tarot, by Russell Strugess

The Spiritual Roots of the Tarot: The Cathar Code Hidden in the Cards, by Russell A. Sturgess
Inner Traditions, 1644110563, 368 pages, 2020

In The Spiritual Roots of the Tarot: The Cathar Code Hidden in the Cards, author Russell A. Sturgess presents the story of a medieval group of Gnostic Christians who are later referred to as the Cathars. The Cathars originated in France in the 11th century.  Not well liked by the Catholic Church, Cathars were considered a threat and were removed from Western Europe by the Catholic Church around 1350.

They called themselves “Troubadours of God” and their theology was based on the Beatitudes from the New Testament Sermon on the Mount. They lived a life based on agape love and also espoused a theology of duality, one where both good and evil existed.   Their beliefs professed a “formula for escaping the world of the evil God and the journey that one had to undertake to return to the Kingdom of the good God.”1

No one really knows how the Cathars worked together to preserve the mysteries of this formula, which was their program of ascending to the good God. Sturgess admits that it is unlikely that the Cathars produced any tarot cards. However, they were weavers and may have woven small tapestries with the symbols of their theology or created small paintings of the symbols.  None of these remain due to the Crusades and Inquisition — all such artifacts were destroyed. 

One of their key tenants was the idea of “being a fool for the sake of Christ.”2 The Fool’s Cap symbol and watermark would have been a mark of the Cathars. And, of course, the first card in the Major Arcana of the Marseille Tarot, as well as many other decks,  is a Fool.

What interested me most about the concept of this book was the melding of religious and metaphysical theologies. The idea that a religious group of Gnostic Christians could have hidden symbols that show the way to God in miniature paintings or small stained glass images that later became tarot cards is intriguing! When you consider that the clergy was among the few who were able to read and write in the 11th to 13th centuries, you might begin to understand their role in preserving these symbols.

The Marseille Tarot appeared in the 17th Century and told the Cathars’ story of the Fool and his transformative journey to Christ. Sturgess shares a complete history of the tarot and features many color plates of Major Arcana cards in various styles of cards.  One plate that I found fascinating follows the Fool’s Journey as the Major Arcana cards are laid out in an infinity symbol shape (Plate 30, The Cathar Code key, the cards by Jean Noblet, circa 1650).

Sturgess provides a thorough review of each of the cards of the Major Arcana, sharing key symbols, their meanings and how the cards both differ and mirror each other. My birth card is The Empress, so I was especially interested in learning more about this card. According to Sturgess, the symbols of the shield she holds, the cockscomb on her left side and her scepter all point to key characteristics of The Empress.  As both masculine and feminine symbols are shown, the Empress embodies the combination of male and female.

“This is a Cathar invention, symbolizing the hieros gamos, the sacred union of the masculine and the feminine that was Christ here on earth. In the world of the Cathars and that of the good God, when governed by Christ consciousness this was symbolic of the sacred marriage resulting in the androgyny of Sophia.”3

Sturgess goes on to say that the Empress is all about “the impending birth of the Fool, who is the Christ Incarnate.” 4

Another aspect that I found fascinating was the idea that there was no Devil card or Tower card before the 17th Century. These two cards may have been kept secret because of the role they play in revealing the “portal to the kingdom of Heaven.”5 And did you know that the Tower card was initially called the “House of God”? A common belief contends that the named changed to the Tower due to the structure shown in the center of the card.6

Sturgess employs a very scientific and thorough writing style. The photos of key pieces of Cathar history, the beautiful plates of tarot cards from various centuries, and important documents from antiquity make this story come alive.  After a history of the Cathars, Sturgess covers each card in the Major Arcana through eleven chapters of the Fool’s Journey. This book will appeal more to the Tarot aficionado, rather than a novice, who might be overwhelmed by the depth of the information.

I really enjoyed The Spiritual Roots of the Tarot and look forward to reading it again and doing an in depth journey into each of the 22 cards of the Major Arcana. My knowledge of the symbolism of the Major Arcana was enhanced greatly by what I learned. I’d recommend this book for Tarot teachers, expert readers, and others who study Tarot history and meaning.

To conclude, I will share one concept that Sturgess wrote that really touched me is the Cathars’ theology of love:

“The Cathars’ theology of love could be described in one word:  kindness.  As much as they understood the deep mysteries, in terms of how they were expressed in day-to-day life, it was simply about being committed to being kind.”7

Deva, by Jacquelyn E. Lane

Deva: Our Relationship with the Subtle World, by Jacquelyn E. Lane
Findhorn Press, 978-1644110741, 320 pages, June 2020

Deva: Our Relationship with the Subtle World by Jacquelyn E. Lane is a title that anyone who is serious about the undertaking of engaging and communicating with the natural world should read. Lane is an educator by profession and this is quite apparent in the organization of the book. She has also been involved in the study of metaphysics for 50+ years, and this experience is the underpinning of this particular title and its teachings regarding the work of collaboration with the laws and spirits of nature through the development of a relationship of mutual respect, stewardship, and care.

…. Life is a great song. From the rocks that seem to be still to the bubbling water of a stream that flows over them. From the uncurling leaves of small plants to giant trees. From the quiet hamlets to the teeming cities. It’s all singing-notes within tunes, tunes within themes, themes within symphonies.1

These words flow from the pages and are the first lines of the Introduction. Simply reading them draws the reader in for a closer look and the journey that is about to unfold in the voluminous content that follows, if truly heard and appreciated, becomes a timeless and timely composition of nature. 

Deva is a fitting publication for the Findhorn Press and the mission of the Findhorn Community. To fully appreciate the need for this book a little history of The Findhorn Community will offer some background. The Findhorn Community developed from the resettlement of Peter and Eileen Caddy, their children, and Dorothy Maclean to the Findhorn Bay Caravan Park in 1962. The three had dedicated their lives to the pursuit of esoteric studies and applications and the barren soil of the caravan park provided the setting of opening to the land spirits and guidance in how to “live” in harmony on the land. All that was planted in accord with the aid of the Devas, elementals, and other nature spirits grew beyond expectation, and the garden became a marvel within the horticultural world.2

This book will please both the scientist and the esotericist in its content. Science and the esoteric philosophies are fast becoming great friends and supports to one another as we learn more about quantum physics and the nature of matter and energy. There is still quite a bit of ways to go in the overlap, but more books such as this will help in creating that bridge of cross-pollination. In reading the biography of the author we learn that Deva, was shortlisted for the 2019 Ashton Wylie Unpublished Manuscript Awards: an affirmation of the need for this material to be given the proper consideration it is due. 

The Introduction holds the keys to everything that the reader needs to know regarding what to expect from this book and what is required from the reader by way of open mind and willingness to become “involved” in the world that surrounds us in a more authentic way. So, for some this book will definitely be one of those slow and steady reads that leaves you with questions and wanting to know more-and do more-with each paragraph. And, for others it will affirm everything they have known and are currently working towards. 

Lane gives a clear and simple (ironically, for a very complex subject) introduction to who/what the deva are and the use of that term in the content that follows…

…. Deva is an ancient Sanskrit word from India meaning “Being of Light”… They sing ideas into form. It is the deva that cause us to exclaim, “Wow, this is a special place. It feels so alive!”…. they are within every atom. Deva are the faeries in the grass. They are the vast energy of sea, wind  and mountains….To really (understand) deva, we need to realize that deva is a kingdom of substance and form-the world of matter both solid and subtle.3

Deva is separated into three parts comprising a total of eighteen chapters. In some cases more is more, but this is one case in which it feels after reading that there were too few chapters — meant in the most complimentary of ways. There is a strong infusion of Theosophical principles throughout the book, but these are incorporated in such a way that the reader does not have to be a student of Theosophy to understand what is being said. The Bibliography is filled with resources of books, articles and recordings sourced from some of the most prominent and respected presenters of physics, botanists, metaphysicians, theosophists and more. I would consider this work as a required text for a course in how to become a participant in the worlds shared by humanity and nature. 

Part One: Elemental Tunes dives right in to exploring the inhabitants of our greater etheric planes of Earth that are the pure expression of energy from densest to the more rarified. Each chapter contained within this section opens the reader to a new experience of the devic kingdom and provides the basis upon which the individual can extrapolate and come to their own conclusions regarding how the energy of what is unseen is often more powerful than that seen as we become more aware of what is within and surrounds us…

… The deva kingdom is everywhere, say the ancients-an Intelligence infused into matter at every level of density.4

Part Two: Who’s Singing Your Song encompasses the aspects of emotion, thought  and those forms of deva that we create. I particularly enjoyed chapter eight “Emotion” and Lane’s attention to the power of our emotions as fueling many of the components of the spiritual evolution of devas, humanity and all of the sea of matter, formed and formless. This chapter really calls to the reader to examine their emotional baggage and presumptions that create patterns of illusion that are in contradiction to the organic nature of the deva and humanity. As I moved through the information in Part Two, I was reminded of the deep connection we have in mind and heart and the impact, not only upon ourselves, but everything from the densest of matter to the most subtle. These also inherently include the discordant relationships and often-resultant ill effects that communication with the deva kingdom may have if the individual is not aligned within him/herself.

Part Three: Symphonies could be compared to the final movement of a stirring orchestral composition. All of the instruments have a role that is both profound and subtle in their impact. The climax reaches its peak and we are left in the after-glow of a symphonic masterpiece that is inspiring and has reached deeply into the fibers of all of our being. These final chapters of Deva speak to active participation in the natural world and those aspects of the deva kingdom we are more familiar with as iconic representations of nature. Trees, plant life, geographic regions, climate change and planetary deva are some of the topics discussed. 

The final two chapters, “Deva, Religion and Pan” and “Consciousness,” were appropriately placed in the organic flow of this writing. These are topics that are usually captured at the beginning of a discourse such as this, and in doing so, feel like the perfunctory ‘getting that out of the way” manner in which they are often treated. In this case, this very important material punctuates the final notes of this symphony, and it is always those last notes that are remembered, even if the rest is forgotten. 

Lane offers these thoughts as conclusion and calls us to re-member our true state of being…

…The Great Song dances out of the One from the highest to the lowest. We can see its effects all around using every kingdom (animal, deva, mineral, etc..) beside us. We can hear it directly when we cease to place our individuality before that One Life. Yet, from the beginning it has called on our inner ear relentlessly until we have learnt to listen and, in listening, we hear the song of our own Light as well.5


Deva: Our Relationship with the Subtle World has been an immensely satisfying book to read. and I am looking forward to the many re-reads I will give as my own journey in connecting more deeply to the Deva continues. We are at a crossroads of choice and the next steps we take collectively, but most importantly individually, will determine so much more than what we see of the physical world. The more reminders we have about our place in this “symphony of life,” and the more books that are brought forward that will speak to all levels of engagement and practice will be steps in the right direction.  Open your eyes with new wonder and call out from your highest intention and you may just be surprised at who/what calls back in reply.

Finding Home within the Heart of the Earth, by Eagle Skyfire

Finding Home within the Heart of the Earth: Creating a Harmonious Space with the Energy of the Earth, by Eagle Skyfire
Llewellyn Publications, 0738760067, 231 pages, November 2020

Finding Home within the Heart of the Earth: Creating a Harmonious Space with the Energy of the Earth by Eagle Skyfire felt more to me words to be practiced rather than a book to be merely read. It provides guidance to creating a “harmonious space” in your place of dwelling or working that works in concert with the earth’s energy. A trained shaman, Skyfire is well-positioned to share with the reader what she’s learned from Native American teachers with whom she’s trained – with their permission.  

To begin, Skyfire introduces the reader to the “Heart of the Earth” method, a way of living in harmony with the earth. The purpose of the book is to be a “hands-on, step-by step guide in order to enhance harmony, wellness, and overall greater sense of well-being in many environments.”1 To be clear, it is not a Native American interpretation of the Chinese practice of feng shui. Heart of the Earth is a system that Eagle developed which is a “synthesis of Native American spiritual principles and shamanic practices, current resources, wisdom gained from experiences in the field, and intuitive gifts.”2

I remember when I took Home Economics in high school (is that even still a part of secondary curriculum?) and the teacher advised us to always read the recipe in full before starting to cook or bake. It was a way to make sure that you had the correct ingredients and cookware and that you followed the steps in order to have the recipe turn out correctly. Just like my Home Economic’s teacher, Skyfire rightly recommends reading the book in its entirety to familiarize one’s self with the concepts discussed, the methods described, and the explanations behind the principles before beginning to incorporate the principles to design or re-design one’s space.While it was a bit challenging to hold off diving into the exercises, I did follow the advice. 

The book is divided into two parts. Part One is an introduction of basic concepts of why we need to connect with nature, universal Native American spiritual principles, energetic principles, and being aware of the lay of the land including physical features, human-made features, and nonphysical features. 

In this section, Skyfire encourages the reader to remember that we are children of the earth mother, that we are affected by the cycles of the seasons, and that feeling the “current of sacred energy and the cycles of natural time”3 is empowering. I recommend taking one’s time in reading Part One as there is a lot to digest and familiarize one’s self with, especially if one is new to these concepts, such as the Good Red Road and the Seven Arrows, as I was. These concepts form the basis of actually creating one’s space that is the focus of Part Two. 

Especially meaningful to me in Part One was absorbing what Eagle wrote about understanding that there is an energetic landscape that surrounds us, which we inhabit. Attitude and core beliefs play roles in how we view ourselves and the world. Change is the only constant in our lives as is true with nature. It’s easy to notice the physical landscape that surrounds us, but idea of an energetic landscape that one could tap into… of course! Why hadn’t I ever made this connection of the existence of an energetic landscape? I was aware of the energy contained within a physical space like a home or office – but not to an energetic landscape per se. 

This section also contained exercises to facilitate connecting with one’s inner child, remembering what made us excited and lit us up! She writes that “in order to know what you want to create for your well-being, you must understand yourself better.”4 This was a fun exercise to do – but also very revealing as to how far I’ve strayed from what truly excites me, buried beneath reason and adult obligations. Another exercise asks the reader to reflect on what truly makes you happy, discerning whether this happiness comes from one’s heart or mind.  Also exercise shared in Part One I enjoyed is the Waterfall Meditation, which I found very relaxing, receiving sacred Power in my heart and returning it to the earth, much like the cycle of water

My favorite chapter in Part one was the Lay of the Land in which Skyfire write about natural elements such as bodies of water (above and below the ground), trees (my favorite) and wildlife, stones, and crystals, and the air. She opens our eyes to man-made surrounding that the effects they have, such as buildings, roads, power lines, parks, and graveyards. Nonphysical features include sacred ancestors of the land, nature spirits, and one’s own sacred ancestors. Part One increased my awareness of my surroundings, made me look deeper within, made me look higher up, and below the surface, made me listen, and see, and feel energy.

Part One concludes with a guide to looking at the indoor features where one lives or works – the layout of rooms, whether they are serving their purpose (for example, is the bedroom relaxing?), and whether they are clutter free. Taking stock of the spaces, actually taking a physical inventory of what the spaces hold, and then identifying if the space is serving one’s needs was a much-needed eye-opener.

Part Two covers the actual creation of one’s space based on the evaluations taken in Part One using the Heart of the Earth method. There is a lot of information covered such as “the qualities of each of the directions…and the function of each room in relation to the five elements.”5 Ultimately, one will “learn how to set the Heart of your place, which sets the energetic tone and maintains the health of your home or workplace.”6

Eagle asks the reader to understand how one’s core beliefs provide a “framework of energy that causes people and things to be attracted to you”7 and that understanding your core beliefs is necessary to designing your space. She encourages one to “work with your nature and not against it. You need to embrace yourself for who you are and from that choose what you need in order to thrive.”8

Part Two offers “the necessary information to see what you are working with in order to build your space in harmony with your own desires, as well as those of the land you are on.”9 To realize that we are not separate from our surroundings and that our needs or wants do not supersede that of the earth mother is vital. The steps outlined involve notetaking, use of a compass, and organization. As Eagle points out, some of the initial steps are “tedious” as one advances to the more enjoyable activities that incorporate creativity.

Topics covered include “gridding” one’s space, use of color and light, how to set the energy of a space, and decluttering. To be most effective, one should do all of the steps and exercises. And, if you are feeling overwhelmed or out of your element with the concepts, I recommend taking a pause. Give yourself time to digest what is being asked of you – and then carry on. I found the need to take breaks and re-group before proceeding with the next step. As Rome wasn’t built in. day, please don’t expect to be able to absorb and then accomplish everything that the book offers in one reading or in a finite amount of time. Give yourself latitude and you will make great strides. It’s been about a week of me actively shifting this energy, and I’m only getting started.

The Heart of the Earth method is truly an agent of change. I highly recommend Finding Home within the Heart of the Earth as a way to bring “abundance, peace, and contentment”10 to your spaces. It puts you in harmony with “nature and your Sacred Self.”11 It can sometimes be a heavy carry to understand and absorb the concepts and principles outlined. The self-centered exercises are beneficial and if one is truly honest with one’s self, they will put you on the path of creating beneficial spaces. The steps provided to work with one’s space that involve instruments such as a compass or grid might take time and dedication. But all in all, the Eagle’s Heart of the Earth method offers the reader a path to harmony, peace, and abundance.