✨ A Gathering Place for Magical Readers and Writers ✨

First Nations Crystal Healing, by Luke Blue Eagle

First Nations Crystal Healing: Working with the Teachers of the Mineral Kingdom, by Luke Blue Eagle
Bear & Company,  9781591434276, 264 pages, October 2021

Luke Blue Eagle shares ways to use thirty-eight different crystals and stones for healing in his book First Nations Crystal Healing. As he says on the back cover:

“Crystals and stones come from Mother Earth and indigenous medicine people have been using them to help and to heal for millennia. Their techniques, although simple, have proven effective through the innumerable healers who have handed down these teachings across the generations.”1

For over twenty-five years, Blue Eagle studied with elders from several indigenous tribes in the US and Canada.  He writes a blog that includes articles on many subjects, from animal totems such as the moose or coyote to crystals or the latest work on his fragrances or his original music.  He is also featured in several audio interviews online. His career spans over forty years as a healer and practitioner. A recent blog announces that he has retired from active work, having trained quite a few people to carry on these techniques.

This book is organized into five parts:

  1. Preparing for a Healing Practice
  2. Crystal Attributes and Correspondences
  3. Principal Practices for Crystal Use and Care
  4. Advanced Healing Practices
  5. The Stones and Their Properties

I have been interested in crystals and gemstones for more than twenty years, so this book really resonated with me.  When my husband and I began to study mediumship, we learned about a few crystals that can support spirit communication. From that time, I’ve loved to use crystals for channeling, healing, and energy clearing.  I was interested to learn more from Blue Eagle about indigenous techniques and practices.

In the initial section, I learned that the indigenous way of healing is truly “holistic” in that it works to treat the whole body system: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  Crystals are a natural part of the healing journey, since they come from Mother Earth.  Blue Eagle reviews the foundations of Native American practices and provides some preliminary information, including his own fundamental laws of healing.

Next, he discusses the attributes of crystals, including form and structure and the colors of crystals.  In the third section, he reviews ways to care for and use crystals and this was my favorite section.  From consecrating a crystal to programming a crystal, Blue Eagle gives the reader step-by-step instructions. He shares:

The consecration ceremony is a twenty-seven-day ritual that will help you commune with your crystal and perceive its specific gifts and then apply them to healing situations.  We use this ceremony to consecrate the crystal to act in a specific way, and in specific circumstances, in a sacred manner. All healing has a sacred component to it, if you understand the notion of holistic healing. The best time to start a consecration ritual is on the new moon.  If not possible on the new moon, any other time will do.2

After he covers how to “program” a crystal, he also discusses the importance of creating “sacred space” for all healing.  I loved the “Heart Meditation” that he shared in the book, which is a three-part meditation and is the first practice he teaches in all of his classes.

In the center of the book are color photos of the thirty-eight crystals, including several of the clear quartz crystal, which is the primary crystal that he uses for healing work.  In the next section, he covers all of the different colors of crystals and how each color plays a role in healing. He does a brief introduction of the color, or “color ray” as he calls it, and then lists specific crystals in that color and shares information about working with that crystal.  

Throughout the book, Blue Eagle adds what he calls a “Teaching Story” that contains a specific reference to an experience he has had that relates to the crystal or practice or healing technique.  One of my favorites was the one shared about Clear Quartz, in which he put a crystal around the neck of a beginning student.  The woman was helping him in his booth at a wellness fair and was becoming overwhelmed by the energy of the many people coming through the booth.  After he put on the crystal, she was able to work the rest of the day with ease and no dip in her energy.3

I was unaware of the ability of clear quartz to be used in this way.  I decided to test it out and wore a necklace I have with a clear quartz crystal point one day when I was going to my granddaughter’s gymnastics meet.  That day, I was able to stay longer than usual and did not feel my energy dip after I had been in the large gym for four hours.  I can’t wait to test out more of his practices and techniques, including his distance healing techniques and many of the meditations. 

On the last page of the book, Blue Eagle shares what he calls “the three fundamental laws of healing: unconditional love, nonattachment and intention.  The philosophical foundations that countless elders have passed down through the generations have great validity.  We must meditate on them so that we tread on solid ground, protecting ourselves and others with insight and wisdom.”4

Blue Eagle’s writing style is very conversational, and I appreciate the depth of his knowledge and experience.  It shines through on every page. The structure of the book is well-conceived, and the “Table of Contents” is handy for reference.  He also has an index, which is always helpful later, when you want to find and review a specific idea. 

In this easy-to-read book, Blue Eagle provides lots of tools and techniques that just about anyone can follow.  He recommends that you read First Nations Crystal Healing from front to back to fully understand the Native American way of living in harmony with Mother Earth. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about crystals, as well know and understand Native American healing techniques and sacred ceremonies.

Pantheon – The Norse, by Morgan Diamler

Pantheon – The Norse, by Morgan Daimler
Moon Books, 9781789041415, 152 pages, May 2022

Full disclosure: I am completely biased when it comes to Morgan Daimler. I adore her work and her no-nonsense approach to researching and writing, so much so that I end up adding her books to my already crowded bookshelves. Her latest offering, Pantheon – The Norse, is a welcome addition to my ever-expanding collection and is easily one of the best I’ve read on the subject.

Having already written two additional books in this series titled Pagan Portals – Odin and Pagan Portals -Thor, Daimler is well positioned to provide an introduction to the remainder in this latest offering, Pantheon – The Norse. The table of contents provides the reader with the information they need to determine where they will start in this book, as there is so much to choose from. Personally, I start with the Introduction.

The introduction sets the tone of the book, giving the reader the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the type of tone and language they are going to experience through Daimler’s writing. Straight forward, to the point, and without a lot of extraneous words, the introduction is the perfect set up for what the reader can expect from the rest of the book. For me, as well as many others, this is an opportunity to get a sense of who the writer is as a craftsman and what their style of writing is. 

Daimler separates the book into two parts, each part playing a role in presenting the information to the reader. She explains:

“In Part I we will be looking at the history, beliefs, and practices of Heathenry and in Part II we will explore who the Norse Gods are as well as related spirits that play an important role in the belief system. These parts are divided fairly equally in this book, as I feel that it is important to both have some basis in the beliefs as well as a solid source for information on the deities and spirits.”1

Additionally, Daimler is clear about what the book is not, and explains that her goal with the book is “not to create an in-depth, one stop resource for the subject but to offer readers a wide range of basic information to give a better understanding of the subject or help beginners seeking a starting place.”2

Being a solid source of information is something Daimler does best, as she clearly shares what she’s gleaned from her own substantial research. Honestly, reading her work is so refreshing as there is no guesswork or need to double check what she presents. While the book is a great entry into this world, it’s written in an elevated way to ensure that even the most learned person on the subject can come away with at least one golden nugget of information they didn’t have prior.

Daimler provides enough information to get you through the sections without causing too much overload. Her writing style is clear and loaded with clues that point to other paths within the topic being discussed; should you feel called to explore further there are useful endnotes included depending on how deep you want to go within the history and mythology. For many readers, the knowledge provided is enough to give the reader a sense of the overall system and while some might feel like exploring, there is no sense of pressure to do so.

The chapters are clearly laid out and sequenced nicely, with one topic naturally flowing in the next. Providing bite-sized chunks of data within the context of the overall idea of the chapter is something that not all writers are able to do with such ease. There is enough info provided to give the reader something to chew on before the next idea is presented. That is something that I look for in this type of book. Don’t just spoon feed me a few bits of trivia; make the subchapters relate back to the main idea of the chapter but also make sure they are entwined in some way. That’s storytelling within the parameters of imparting knowledge and Daimler is a master.

There are many similarities and parallels between this pantheon and others most readily seen in the section called “Celebrations and Prayers”. Many of the celebrations observed in the Norse pantheon are also part of other traditions, albeit under different names. The commonality inherent in these old “religions”, through the use of similar names, dates, and themes of the celebration, makes it easier to understand as a reader if a similar spiritual path is being followed.

I love this book for the simple reason that it has all the elements I look for when exploring different paths: beautifully presented research in bite-sized chunks that are easily understood, a robust resource section, and so much more. I didn’t even get into the sections on Gods and Goddesses, which is one of my favorite sections.

Pantheon – The Norse is perfect for those who are interested in a ground level introduction to the Norse pantheon without all the fluff. Yes, there is a lot of information to digest and sure, there might be some ideas or concepts that don’t quite make sense for a variety of reasons. That does not take away from the parts of the book that will resonate with those wanting a deeper understanding of this pantheon. As with most books in this vein, take what you like and leave the rest.

Witch, Please, By Victoria Maxwell

Witch, Please: Empowerment and Enlightenment for the Modern Mystic, by Victoria Maxwell
Red Wheel Books, 9781590035320, 200 pages, March 2022

I love a book that opens with a powerful statement. Victoria Maxwell’s beautifully written offering, Witch, Please: Empowerment and Enlightenment for the Modern Mystic, starts by telling the reader that the magic isn’t in the book they are holding: the magic is inside them. This type of tone setting is precisely why this book belongs in everyone’s collection, whether they view themselves as witchy, spiritual, or simply just an interested passerby.

A modern mystic and spiritual teacher, Maxwell is devoted to serving her community through her online classes, in person workshops, private sessions, and a variety of social media groups and subscription offerings. Her focus is on helping those she works with reconnect to their own light, their inner guidance, spiritual path and power so they can live out their best and highest lives.

The book is set out cleanly, with two parts as well as an introduction, glossary, acknowledgements and index. There is also a special addition that I wasn’t expecting but makes perfect sense why it was included: “The Next Chapter’” It’s a page and a half long and resonated deeply with me when I read it. Maxwell sums up the spirit of her book in five points that reflect the depth of care she feels for those searching for their place in the spiritual world. It’s a beautiful way of ending the book and imparting a feeling of completion.

The book is divided into two parts. Part One deal with the basics: laying foundations for your practice, tools, actual practices, aligning with friends in spirit, and making magic. Part Two talks about practical magic: relationships, setting up a home sanctuary, money magic, magic for careers, and living your purpose. The glossary is a high-level collection of terms used throughout the book that some who are venturing down this path for the first time might not be familiar with. For me, it was interesting to see how Maxwell defines terms that are used often within the spiritual realm.

The introduction establishes Maxwell’s early influences as well as her personal journey through spiritualism. Her writing is clean and purposeful, with no excessive verbiage and easy to understand language. That’s not to say that her work is basic: this book is far from that. While certainly geared towards those who are just starting their journey, there is a lot packed into this book. For me, reading similar information isn’t monotonous: it’s interesting for me to see how different people interpret similar themes. I am also curious to understand how others view their own craft and how they personally practice whatever form of magic they subscribe to. 

Maxwell talks at length about protection in the first part of the book, which is something I feel is somewhat overlooked at times. We assume that those reading know how to protect themselves and their energy and Maxwell’s decision to include a lengthy section on various practices is wonderful to read. She understands that some of protection work is shadow work, in that you cannot protect yourself from creating your own negativity if you are not aware you are doing it. She says, “We can’t walk thought life protecting ourselves against others without doing a bit of shadow work and paying attention to what we are putting out there too.”1

She mentions being aware of the type of energy we bring to certain situations and ensuring that we are doing our best to raise those vibrations intentionally and mindfully. She pairs this practice with clearing, which makes damn good sense! She explains the process:

“We can protect ourselves all we like, but we must also clear out the energetic gunk we pick up along the way…If you are full of someone else’s thoughts, emotions, or energy before you start a spell you may end up manifesting things you don’t really want.”2

Sections of the book are printed in a different color and are designated as action items, for want of a better phrase. These sections include prayers, lists of bullet points for consideration, recipes, and so on. I found the different font to be quite useful in helping sort and separate the book visually as I progressed through it. For those who can discern color, the eye immediately tracks to the different font and recognizes it as important, something that I very much appreciated as sometimes I become lazy and let my eyes skim over text without truly absorbing it. 

The blend of shadow work with the various spiritual practices is very much my jam and I am fully appreciative of how Maxwell entwined these two themes seamlessly in this book. Throughout the book, there are references to clearing your energy and examining your relationships to various things like money and career, and all of these things resonate deeply with me. I have found that the best magic I have ever done for myself has always come on the heels of some deep excavation I’ve done in the dark hours of the night. I am happy to see that Maxwell has illuminated this very important aspect of working magic in her book.

Some people might pick up Witch, Please and dismiss it because it’s pink and cute and looks like a beach read. Those people don’t deserve this book in their hands so let them put it down and then make sure they never see it again. Grab a copy for yourself, for your aunt who is always making you teas, your best friend who loves flowers, and the office mate who always seems extremely put together. Each one will get something different out of this book, which is precisely the point. Personally, this is the book that I will pull down off my shelf when I feel a bit off as it’s a beautiful reminder of encouragement to stand in my power.

Spiritual Cleansing, by Draja Mickaharic

Spiritual Cleansing: A Handbook of Psychic Protection (Weiser Classic Series), by Draja Mickaharic
Weiser Books, 1578637287, 144 pages, February 2022

I’ve been on a deep dive into research on spiritual protection lately, and therefore was thrilled to come across Spiritual Cleansing: A Handbook of Psychic Protection by Draja Mickaharic. Originally published in 1982, this Weiser Classic Services book is just as relevant 40 years later. The added foreword by Lilith Dorsey, author of Orishas, Goddesses, and Voodoo Queens, is an added bonus. I value magical wisdom that stands the test of time. Sometimes it seems like recent and best books are merely repeating the same things based on current readers’ taste and market trends. But this book stood out to me from the get-go, and I knew I wasn’t going to be getting the same old while reading it.

Mickaharic’s experience as a magical practitioner grants him the ability to convey expertise tips and tricks that are both practical and reliable. He’s definitely tried, tested, and witnessed the many outcomes of spellwork gone awry and implemented to success; as a result, he feels like a guide I can trust.

“All of the procedures in this book are simple, safe, and effective, when the directions are followed. They are all natural in their operation, and no special training or capacity is required on the part of the user. All of these cleansings have been tested in my personal practice, as well as in the work of others.”1

Before delving into the many methods of cleansing and protection, Mickaharic provides readers with an understanding of the need for them. He notes the physical and spiritual nature of life on Earth, the latter which often is dismissed in favor of the tangible senses. But we all have felt the lingering sense of a negative energy present after interactions with certain people or being in a specific location.

“The spiritual energy field, like the quality or vibration of people, places, and things, is not detectable through the physical senses. Once we can make a distinction between the physical and the spiritual parts of the human constitution, it becomes easy to understand just how spiritual cleansing works.”2

He further goes on to explain how religious rituals have their own methods of cleansing, but that this book can be used whether one has a religious practice or not. If one does, Mickaharic suggests that the practices in the book do not interfere but rather enhance it. And I might add this book does refer to Bible passages and Psalms as part of some of the recommendations for spiritual cleansing. I have no problem with this, as for over a decade I’ve explored the intersection of Christianity and spellwork, but others who take a more firm stance against Christianity should take note prior to reading. There’s still plenty to gain though, and much of the content is independent of any religious connotation.

The four main types of cleansing focused on in this book are cleansing with baths, water, eggs, and incense, which all have their own detailed chapter. There’s also chapters on the malocchio (evil eye), protection while asleep, quieting one’s mind, and finding a mentor. And all together, this book has become my go-to for spiritual cleansing. Rather than sharing all the potent cleansing practices Mickaharic covers, I will share some of the really interesting things I learned, what stood out to me most, and my favorite parts that I feel distinguish this book from others.

First of all, there is a ton of information on ritual baths! Many times, I see a list of ingredients for cleansing or spellwork bath, but Mickaharic goes into full detail about how to prepare for a ritual bath, history of ritual bathing, and even words of caution. Plus, there’s so many sugged: Psychic Tension Bath, Coffee Hard Work Bath, The Money Cinnamon Bath. And the majority of the baths include household items that one wouldn’t have to go on a goose chase to find.

I learned a lot about properties of different types of water from the chapter “Cleansing with Water”. Mickaharic describes the different energy and usage of sea water,  rain water, waterfalls, spring water, and lake water. For those who regularly use water in their practice, this information would be useful to know what is best for which type of magical working one is doing. Also included are different herbs that can be added to water to achieve a desired effect.

Eggs are something that I’ve used for over a decade to cleanse a new home, but Mickaharic showed me new ways to use eggs for spiritual healing. He suggests ways to use them for physical and emotional healing, ending a relationship, protection while asleep, and cleansing your pets or the sick. I love this method of cleansing because I nearly always have eggs on hand, and they are a quick and easy way to shift energy.

Of all the sections, though, incense cleansing had the most insight into how I could enhance my practice of burning incenses. I had never realized that certain smells attracted specific spirits, nor that some incenses are good for banishing spirits, while others are intended to call them in.

“When we use incense to clean a place, we are calling those forces of the astral universe which regularly act to remove negative influences. We are simply calling them and asking them to work in a particular area. When we burn incense to improve the vibration  of a place, to give the place a more “spiritual” vibration, we call on those forces which naturally act to improve spiritual vibrations. Each incense, or blend, is a sort of “telephone number” which is answered according to the sincerity of our request. If we burn incense with no real purpose, we may find the forces decide we are calling a wrong number–and they will not act in harmony with our desires.”3

Mickaharic gives instructions on how to properly burn incense and offers many suggested blends. He describes cones and sticks and even how to fumigate oneself. I really liked learning about frankincense and myrrh; I had never previously heard about their connection to the astral realm, and it was interesting to learn in light of their significance to infant Christ.

Finally, I was thrilled for a whole section on the malocchio. My Italian family often spoke of it, and my great-grandmother knew the method for removing it at the strike of midnight on a new year. But I have rarely been able to find additional information about how to remove it. Not only does Mickaharic go into detail about the history of the malocchio and how it is transmitted, he also offers a Beer Bath to remove it, along with suggested charms and amulets to keep it at bay.

All in all, Spiritual Cleansing has been a great aid in my spring cleaning this year. When I am seeking to cleanse myself or my home, I’ve been able to find quick suggestions to shift the energy. Plus, the ritual baths are sure to make any water-lover eager to perform some spellwork. There’s so much value in knowing not only how to protect yourself, but cleanse yourself too. Spiritual hygiene is a practical, and honestly essential, craft for all those who perform energy work. But quite frankly, we can all benefit from a good energetic sprucing up!

Healing with Clay, by Ran Knishinsky

Healing with Clay: A Practical Guide to Earth’s Oldest Natural Remedy, by Ran Knishinsky
Healing Arts Press, 9781644114834, 144 pages, April 2022

My dad is a potter, so I grew up with messy hands and covered in clay-filled hugs. When I began to research natural remedies, I realized that clay has many healing properties, which was convenient because of its ready availability. At first, my interest was in using clay for face masks and soothing my skin. But later I learned eating clay had health benefits. I couldn’t find enough reliable information on the Internet, so I shelved my curiosity for the time being. But when I discovered Healing with Clay: A Practical Guide to Earth’s Oldest Natural Remedy by Ran Knishinsky, my intrigue was sparked all over again.

Knishinsky is the perfect guide for those interested in eating clay as a nutritional supplement, as he’s been doing it himself for more than 30 years. His background is in both naturopathic and allopathic medicine, which adds value to the information he shares because it is not one-sided. He even has his own line of edible clay called Detox Dirt for those who are interested in starting to incorporate clay into their own diet. In addition to this book, he has also authored Prickly Pear Cactus Medicine and The Prozac Alternative.

The book starts out with Knishinsky’s own health journey of a ganglion cyst that led him to deciding to try clay as a natural remedy. Then he details the history of eating clay and the reasons why people do it. These reasons include medicinal use, mineral supplementation, religious rites, instinct, detoxification, and as a food delicacy. There’s also a whole chapter on how culturally in some parts of the world it’s the norm to eat dirt during pregnancy, which I found absolutely fascinating.

To ensure readers have a full-scope understanding of clay, Knishinsky writes about the scientific and geological properties, as well as sharing the different types of clay and how the minerals in clay facilitate both adsorption and absorption in the body. He even delves into Graham Cairns-Smith’s idea that life might have begun as clay crystals and the hypothesis of the department of nanoscale science at Cornell University that wet clay might have been the first breeding ground for life.

Knishinsky shares with the reader the classification of active natural components obtained from plant, animal, or earth sources as nutraceuticals, which are not sold as drugs, but as dietary supplements in the United States. As a result, nutraceuticals do not offer the same claims as FDA approved drugs. Nevertheless there are benefits to be derived from them, which other included research studies have shown. For instance, there are quite a few studies related to clay’s ability to protect those who digest it from the harmful effects of Aflatoxin, which is a liver carcinogenic present in a wide variety of foods. 

Aflatoxin is the most dangerous form of mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are fungal poisons that contaminate as much as ¼ of the world’s food supply. Potential sources of mycotoxins are alcoholic beverages, corn, wheat, peanuts, and many more than Knishinsky lists for readers. The Aflatoxins are especially harmful because they damage DNA and have been known to lead to cancer in different animal species. Eating clay helps to reduce and prevent harm from the Aflatoxins through reinforcing the intestinal walls and binding to the toxins.

“Before they have a chance to be adsorbed by the gut, the clay simply captures these toxins by adsorbing them into the space between the crystal structure, rendering them as unabsorbable by the gut.”1

This was so interesting to read about, as I had never heard of mycotoxins before! And thanks to Knishinsky, I also gained a better understanding of the mineral components of clay. Aside from taking supplements or vitamins, a good balance of minerals in our bodies often seems to be overlooked in the pursuit for good health. Knishinsky reminds us:

“Why are minerals so important to the chemical reactions in the human body? The cell is like an electrical battery, with positive and negative charges. When the energy of the battery begins to weaken the cell becomes sick and weak. However, if the dying cell is charged by an electrical current it will become living once again. Minerals themselves hold positive and electrical charges. The exchange of these charges accounts for the mineral’s action.”2

I learned clay contains minerals such as calcium, chlorine, iodine, iron, magnesium, zinc and more. Knishinsky notes clay can also contain harmful minerals though, such as arsenic or cadmium, which is why it’s important to know where the clay one is consuming comes from. His recommendation is montmorillonite clay. It is considered the most suitable for eating because the minerals are very small particles and when combined with water adsorptive and absorptive properties of the clay are enhanced.

My favorite chapter was on the religious significance of clay, as I had forgotten that many religious texts claim humanity arose from clay. Reading about these things helped me to step out of the dominant narrative that clay is dirty and sense of superiority that comes from being couth and clean. Knishinsky’s words really reignited me with an instinctive, wild part of myself that felt aligned with the information he was sharing about the benefits of eating clay.

I did end up ordering montmorillonite clay, as it is Knishinsky’s recommended type of clay to use for this purpose. I haven’t tried it yet, but I am eager to see the results. If you too are feeling called to explore the health benefits of clay, I would definitely check out Healing with Clay. Knishinsky presents the information clearly and with full scientific backing. I look forward to connecting with Earth’s oldest remedy in a spiritual way too, as I think healing our bodies with nature is how things are meant to be.

Angelology, by Angemi Rabiolo and Iris Biasio

Angelology: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Celestial Superheroes, by Angemi Rabiolo and Iris Biasio
Red Wheel, 978159003529-0, 287 pages, March 2022

Described as a pop-illustrated encyclopedia, Angelology: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Celestial Superheroes by Angemi Rabiolo (author) and Iris Biasio (illustrator) is an introduction to the angelic realm that presents them as celestial superheroes, much like your favorite comic strip. The book covers angels from various religions and belief systems, and its aim is to “accompany readers on a spiritual journey to discover the power of angels.”1

The central theme of the book resonated with me, namely, “the idea of completing a path – a path that begins with God and leads to humans through the hierarchy of the angels.”2 Although, I’m not convinced that path is completed, for me it is more so walking the path, coming to a point, and then re-walking another path, this still resonated. The author encourages the reader to work with the angels on one’s spiritual evolution. Questions that generally accompany such an evolution include asking who am I, what is love, why is there suffering in my life (specifically) and in the world (generally).

And the Rabiolo and Biasio definitely met their intent of arousing curiosity and stimulation new reflections. The book is not a traditional angel encyclopedia in that the book’s purpose was not meant to “include everything ever written about angels.”3 The writings do, however, drawn on a variety of sources including angels found in the Bible, the Book of Enoch, the Koran, and from non-monotheistic religions such as those found in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Persian belief systems. The hierarchy of these beings of pure spirit is described from the Divine to the human. Included are writings on guardian angels as well as angels associated with certain zodiac signs and planets.

Eleven archangels are profiled as are 213 angels found in various religions traditions in angelic order. Archangels each have a specific task that “influences the existence of every human, and their incessant work permits humans to live their earthly life and to achieve spiritual fulfillment.”4

A Symbol Legend is provided for the archangels and the angels that shows Powers, Classifications in Islamic Tradition, Classification in Catholic Tradition, Classification in Hebrew Tradition, Belonging to the list of guardian angels according to Classification according to apocryphal texts and ancient astrology, theological, and theosophical traditions, as well as esoteric traditions, including evocative magic, peasant culture, and mystery religions, and Belonging to the list of guardian angels according to the Jewish-Catholic classification.”5

The section on the archangels contains more information that on that of the “regular” angels including the respective “power” of the archangel. It’s substantial in its information and includes a blue page for each archangel that writes about a topic pertinent to that specific archangel. For example, the blue page on Uriel describes why this archangel is not one of the archangels recognized by the Catholic Church. Since Sandalphon is the archangel associated with the Earth, the blue page on Sandalphon touches on the Elementals, the spirits of Earth’s elements.

The section on the 213 angels provides one page on each, including the meaning of the angel’s name and its powers. Other information might be its associated zodiac sign (Adnachiel for Sagittarius) or planet (Takiel for Jupiter), who it is the guardian angel of (Manakel for people born between February 15-19).

I enjoyed Biasio’s illustrations that portrayed angels as superheroes as would be found in a comic book. The main colors of yellow, red, and blue made the images pop. The image of Laylahel who governs all nocturnal phenomena, has a figure opening a blue cloak the inside of which is covered in a yellow moon and stars. Hesediel, the archangel of desire and benevolence is portrayed holding a cornucopia from which coins fall. All are fun!

I recommend Angelology as an introductory to the angelic realm. It provides a great overview and is chock full of angels (over 200!) from which one can choose to work with on any area of interest. If you want to work with the Zodiac angels, you’re covered. The planets? You’re covered. Areas such as generosity, peace, or relationships? You’re covered. However, if you are looking for deeper work with the angels, this book does not contain things such as affirmations or meditations on the angels. The book presents the angels in a non-threatening manner and as such it invites the reader to open up to working with these beings who are here, of course, to guide us.

Turn Your Fandom into Cash, by Carol Pinchefsky

Turn Your Fandom Into Cash: A Geeky Guide to Turn Your Passion Into a Business (or at least a Side Hustle), by Carol Pinchefsky
Career Press, 1632651971, 224 pages, March 2022

Carol Pinchefsky’s Turn Your Fandom Into Cash: A Geeky Guide to Turn Your Passion Into a Business (Or at Least a Side Hustle) is one of the most helpful and applicable books I’ve picked up in a while. It overflows with extremely practical advice about how to tap into your personal creative pursuits to help put some extra jingle in your coin purse, or even launch the entrepreneurial adventure of your dreams!

As the title implies, this handy guide is definitely marketed for those who want to let their geek flag fly – using your knowledge and passion of whatever fandom you are a part of to bring your creations into the world. Whether you love fantasy, sci-fi, horror, cos-play, comic books, and the infinite subgenres therein, this book is a quick read to get you started on your way to Bruce Wayne-level wealth! A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but there are some success stories Pinchefsky brings in that definitely inspire the reader in that direction. And even if you aren’t interested in creating something for a fanbase like these, the author’s advice is often general enough that you could apply it to almost any type of creative venture.

Naturally, this book isn’t just about hyping you up about how to generate income from the passions you already have. The whole second chapter of the book is all about the careful considerations you’ll need to take when capitalizing on a fandom – how to do all of this legally. For some, this may feel like you just hit the inertial dampeners. . . hard. But in reality, if you are going to market a product or service related to a beloved fictional work or genre, you’ll need to be very vigilant, lest you be #lawyered back to square one.

Even though I’m a writer and editor who works with some popular intellectual property (IP), e.g. the world’s most popular roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons, there were some legal details that I hadn’t been aware of. Of course, the material in this book isn’t thorough enough to substitute for full-on legal advice (as she pointedly reminds the reader, many times), she does an excellent job of going through the main concerns while helping you learn the difference between copyright, trademarks, IP licensing, and much more! Moreover, her playful tone, frequent fandom references, and motivational style keeps this potentially boring legal stuff from feeling like a bog of eternal stench.

Other informative topics you’ll find throughout the book are: business and marketing strategies (both for your product as well as for yourself and your brand), various methods of funding your new business venture, how to navigate the convention sphere, and more usual forms of employment you can find while still working with/for the fandom you love. I found one of the final chapters was also incredibly useful: a handy set of lessons-learned regarding many different aspects of being in business for yourself. These are all fairly short, a couple lines to a couple small paragraphs, summaries of things to do – or to avoid – that come from people who had to learn these lessons the hard way. By sharing these lessons with you before you make them, you won’t be doomed to repeat the mistakes of your geeky forebears.

The layout of the book is also unique, as it incorporates images, speech bubbles, and boxed text to highlight important points or cool tips. As someone who has never (ever) taken much interest in business, this punchy style really worked to keep me engaged with topics that wouldn’t normally hold my attention. That said, if you prefer a more usual style of presentation, these features might detract from your reading experience. I also feel that some of the fun pop-culture references might not have the oomph, if the reader doesn’t happen to be as enmeshed in general geek culture. So if your passion lies more in creating products within the spiritual sphere, for instance, this probably isn’t quite the droid – I mean, the book – you’re looking for.

One of the coolest features that you’ll find throughout Turn Your Fandom Into Cash is the array of case studies that Pinchefsky provides. Every chapter has at least a couple of these gems: real life instances of geeky businesses and their proprietors, which have achieved success or battled through challenges, related to the topic the author is discussing. For instance, how one individual abruptly and unexpected ended up becoming a convention showrunner because he offered some input to the staff. Or, how a geeky entrepreneur ended up getting fired from the business that she helped create. And, it’s not only case studies that provide evidence to back up Pinchefsky’s general knowledge: she often uses statistics to help strengthen her general points, and tells you exactly where she got them so you can go do your own research.

All in all, Turn Your Fandom Into Cash is an excellent guide for anyone wishing to bring their creative passions to the public, and make some money while doing so! The book is so well designed in its style and presentation that it is an easy and fun read all the way through. She really makes the notion of starting a geeky business accessible and achievable. That is not to say becoming an entrepreneur is easy – it still requires a great deal of research, hard work, and networking to find success.

But, as she reminds us, even if the first attempt(s) at creating a business should fail, doing what you love can be even more rewarding. You may have the chance to work with a favorite celebrity, have your product used in a TV series you love, or bring joy to your fandom by providing them with the perfect custom cos-play outfit! These opportunities and experiences are priceless – and in any case, you will be gaining skills and knowledge to keep pushing your passion and creativity to boldly go where no one has gone before!

Mysteries of the Werewolf, by Claude Lecouteux

Mysteries of the Werewolf: Shapeshifting, Magic, and Protection, by Claude Lecouteux
Inner Traditions, 1644110784, 224 pages, August 2021

Ahhh-ohhhh, werewolves! Legends of werewolves are as popular as ever, but did you ever wonder about the origins of these stories? In Mysteries of the Werewolf: Shapeshifting Magic & Protection, Claude Lecouteux delves into folklore, legends, and historical accounts from all over the world, showcasing how the tale of the werewolf evolved through time.

Lecouteux’s impressive background certainly influences the way he wrote this book. As a professor emeritus of medieval literature and civilization at the Sorbonne, it’s evident that he is dedicated to the scholarship of his work. Mysteries of the Werewolf is incredibly well sourced, and many of the translations in the book were done by Lecouteux himself. He has applied the same thoroughness to detail in his previously published works The Book of Grimoires, Dictionary of Ancient Magic Words and Spells, and The Tradition of Household Spirits.

What is very unique about this book is the way Lecouteux creates a cohesive cultural understanding of the werewolf through comparing texts side by side. While some books on werewolves try to play up werewolves as a form of cryptid, Lecouteux uses historical records to piece together a whole picture of this possible mythological, possibly real being. He states:

“The texts I’ve collected for this anthology are intended to document the history of the werewolf through the ages and include some excursions far from the European domain when there was a good reason to do so.”1

Hence, we have documentation from around the globe dating back to the 10th century of different aspects of lycanthropy. Topics include stories on becoming a werewolf, pacts with the devil and evil spells as cause, werewolves’ clothing and accessories, healing and free werewolves, testimonials and more!

A sixteenth century French story Lecouteux called “How the Werewolf Lost an Eye”:

“A young noblewoman of the land of Livonia was arguing with one of her servants about whether it was possible for a man to change into the shape of a wolf, and as she made it seem dubious, this servant, so that he could provide her more ample proof, asked her permission to turn himself into a wolf. She granted him such permission, and he retreated to a secret room in the house, which he left shortly afterward in the form of a wolf. After this a pack of dogs caught his scent and set off in pursuit of him, chasing him into a nearby wood where they ripped out one of his eyes. The next day when he regained his human shape he returned to the house missing an eye.”2

This is just one example of the many, many tales in the book (I would estimate at least one hundred!). It was certainly enjoyable and entertaining reading the stories; some are heartbreaking, others vicious, while some are infused with a bit of comedy. Some feature witches and wizards, while others are just common people who are plagued with the curse of the werewolf.

It’s a thrill to feel connected to people of centuries past through the common thread of werewolves. I couldn’t help but wonder what it might have been like to tell some of these tales prior to electricity, when animals and humans were in much closer contact.

To see the range of the stories, from all over the world, I can’t help but start to think about the commonality of this man turn beast archetype. And at some point, I did start wondering if there was any merit to these stories, given they have persisted for such a long span of time cross-culturally!

“Elsewhere, we see a warrior who changed into a bear lending his support to men battling an enemy. In Africa, people believe in jackal-men, hyena-men, and leopard-men; the Inuits believe in caribou-men, and the people of the Far East believe in tiger-men. Every land and every civilization has had its own distinctive view of lycanthropy.”3

I wonder what it is about the human turn beast that leaves such a lasting impression on our psyche. Perhaps approaching the book with this question in mind will yield some answers, as I read it mostly for the enjoyment of the stories the first time. Though, I will note that Lecouteux’s introduction is filled with background information and history of the werewolf, so this book is much more than just a fun-filled, entertaining read.

Any werewolf lover is sure to enjoy Mysteries of the Werewolf, but even those with a general interest in folklore would find it worth the read. These stories help weave a picture of how the tales of the werewolf have evolved over time, expanding the reader’s knowledge of lycanthropy folklore. Lecouteux has done a phenomenal job gathering all the stories in one collection for readers to compare and contrast how tales of the werewolf, and perhaps one day, may even add their own!

Blackthorn’s Protection Magic, by Amy Blackthorn

Blackthorn’s Protection Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Mental & Physical Self-Defense, by Amy Blackthorn
Weiser Books, 1578637619, 208 pages, March 2022

My spirit journey took an unexpected twist recently. After spending a year delving into the realm of mermaids, I suddenly felt very called to explore the world of superheroes, self-defense, and protection magic. For the first time ever, I watched all the Marvel movies, and I became inspired to increase my physical strength and psychic defenses. This is what led me to reading Blackthorn’s Protection Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Mental & Physical Self-Defense by Amy Blackthorn. It has been a game-changer, awakening so many new ideas with practical tips I can immediately incorporate into my practice.

I had heard of Blackthorn because of her best-selling books Botanical Magic, Sacred Smoke, and Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews. But I was very surprised to discover Blackthorn also has a background in security. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, is a blackbelt martial artist, and shoots pistols competitively in addition to teaching women self-defense. How freaking badass can only possibly be? I would have never guessed! Her experience in both magic and security makes for one all encompassing, hell-of-a read.

The book is divided into four parts and covers mind, body, and spiritual protection. Then the last part is the additional information section that shares information about timing work according to the day of the week/moon phase, color correspondences, and plants to use for different types of spellwork. Plus, Blackthorn provides a fantastic introduction into the topic of protection magic, writing about ethics, boundaries, and her own magical point of view. Her very straightforward approach made me more comfortable with the idea of using protective magic, and I especially liked how she clearly defined magic, curses, hexes, and jinxes for readers. There’s even a curse assessment for readers – how cool is that?

This book is the perfect blend of practical advice for self-defense and instruction on how to perform protection magic. What really stands out about Blackthorn’s writing is her conversational tone. She uses anecdotes to illuminate the content, such as bravely sharing her story of dealing with a stalker, and also ensures readers are taking the utmost precaution with their supplies. For instance, she continually reminds readers essential oils should never be used on infants and notes when certain herbs or essential oils are not appropriate to use. It feels like Blackthorn has your back as you read, which is such a reassuring feeling.

Blackthorn even wants to protect us from getting scammed! I really enjoyed the section of the book where Blackthorn shares how to determine the quality of essential oils and crystals. She goes into depth about how one can determine if they have a diluted essential oil or if it’s using low-quality ingredients. Then she discusses how to know if a crystal is legit, which I’ve always struggled to figure out. I will absolutely now be testing the quality of my essential oils and more discerning in my crystal selection.

I also now want a tactical pen to carry around with me. And I convinced my husband we should practice Blackthorn’s advice on how to get out of being tied up. I also looked into going to a shooting range because for the first time ever I saw the value in being able to defend myself. And all of this is so out of my typical lifestyle in so many ways, but it’s exactly what my hippie-heart needed to read to remember we can be loving and badass at the same time.

Another great thing about the book is that Blackthorn offers so many suggestions of how to incorporate protection magic into your practice that every reader is bound to find something that works for them. From energy practices (breathing, grounding, shielding) to outdoor gardening, the options offered seem limitless. And Blackthorn is thorough! The section on crystals did a great job of explaining their properties and it came in handy later when she talked about creating a crystal grid for protection. Her information on gardening, both indoor and outdoor, for home protection was wisdom I’ve never read elsewhere. There’s incense recipes, tarot spells, mirror boxes, and so much more.

The energy practice that I’ve been using most (and with great success) is one where she discusses visualizing oneself in an eggshell. Visualization practices usually never stick for me, but the way Blackthorn teaches it, including customizations one can make to their eggshell, has really stuck for me. I feel so much less anxious being around a lot of people now and haven’t felt “pulls” on my energy since I’ve started practicing this energy technique.

The only thing missing that I wish was included in the book is information about protecting oneself online, such as insights on tech-defense and thoughts on how to protect one’s energy in the digital world. Society is becoming more reliant on technology, most people use the internet daily, but with the amount of animosity, hate, and confusion that spreads like rapid fire nowadays, it can be tough to know how to protect one’s energy online.

I have developed my own practices, and based on the wealth of information given by Blackthorn, readers could definitely piece together a spell for online protection. But I just value Blackthorn’s insights so much that I wish I could learn her thoughts on digital safety and protection too. However, this in NO WAY detracts from the immense amount of information provided in the book for day to day protection.

All in all, Blackthorn’s Protection Magic is the best book I’ve ever read on the topic. Blackthorn gives her readers the low-down we all need to stay safe, strengthened, and shielded from harm. Her unique blend of practical and magical wisdom make for a comprehensive how-to guide when it comes to protecting oneself on all levels: mind, body, and spirit. I feel strong after reading this book – and more street smart. I highly recommend this one for your collection!

Holy Love, by Elisa Romeo and Adam Foley

Holy Love: The Essential Guide to Soul-Fulfilling Relationships, by Elisa Romeo and Adam Foley
New World Library, 160868802X, 224 pages, February 2022

Holy Love: The Essential Guide to Soul-Fulfilling Relationships by Elisa Romeo and Adam Foley is a collaborative project between a couple who began their spiritual paths as individuals, but discovered the infinite depths of divine love through their relationship. As partners with children, Elisa and Adam help couples connect with their own Souls, and with one another’s, to transform relationships and bring about a state of mystic union with the divine love that flows outward from every Soul.

Reading through the first few sections of Holy Love, it’s easy to get the impression that, like so many other spiritual and New Age-y texts, this book is going to be a repetition of familiar ideas and platitudes. I’m happy to say, however, that I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of attention this book gives to elucidating the various relationships we have with other people, or with distinct aspects of ourselves.

The main focus of Holy Love is that we need to recognize how these different aspects – notably, the ego and the Soul – relate to one another within ourselves, as well as how they relate to these aspects within others. In fact, the central thesis of the book is that there are four unique kinds of relationships that can exist between two people. Whether the people in question are romantic partners, family members, friends, or perhaps even strangers, the four kinds of relationships are always in a dynamic interplay with one another.

Unfortunately, and for many reasons, only a couple – or even just one – of these relationships tends to be our primary focus. Of the four kinds of relationship – ego-to-ego, ego-to-Soul within ourselves, ego-to-their-Soul, and Soul-to-Soul – our socio-cultural practices often neglect all the others in favor of the first relationship: between one’s own ego and that of the other person. Although this may seem like a familiar topic, it’s the authors’ acceptance of ego, and its role in our relationships, that sets this book apart.

Drawing from a wide variety of spiritual practices, religions, depth psychology, and personal experiences, Romeo and Foley urge that the ego has a necessary place in our lives as mystics – a person who is holy, or whole, due to their immersion in love whose source lies beyond the material world. The authors advocate that every one of us is capable of being a mystic through our connection to divine love. Yet, if we try to overcome or erase the ego in pursuit of some sort of “spiritual purity,” we also lose a practical connection to others in the material world.

“[I]f we negate the human realm and rely solely on the spiritual connection, we may be at risk of minimizing the (very human) importance of showing up consistently for others, being accountable for our own behavior, and owning our personal responsibility for our inner development.”1

Although I could continue to explore the ins-and-outs of the four types of relationships discussed in Holy Love, the expositional and theoretical points of this book are just one aspect. Going hand-in-hand with discussion of the four relationships and their interplay are exercises at the end of almost every chapter in the book. These range from meditations, to journaling exercises, to conversations and activities with others. Holy Love goes even further than other books in that it also provides links to online resources, such as recorded meditations, created by the authors. This is a fantastic little bonus, as I find that listening to a meditation is usually a much more effective way to ease the monkey mind than trying to meditate while reading the text!

Even though such exercises are often found in books on spiritual development, Romeo and Foley take special care to construct the practical application of their approach around a central practice – journaling to one’s (or even another person’s) Soul. While a journaling practice can take many forms, I have rarely come across one which so heavily employs dialogue between the different aspects of the Self. I was thrilled to see that this really highlights Elisa’s background in depth psychology, where it is important for the distinct parts of the individual work toward integration, rather than subjugation, repression, etc.

From the personal accounts that appear throughout the book, directly writing and responding to the Soul creates the open, receptive state of being which enables us to hear the voice that is so often overshadowed by the ego. Instead of journaling to simply release emotional tension or clarify one’s thoughts and feelings, proposing questions directly to one’s Soul creates the space for the Soul itself to answer. Over time, this practice seems to reduce the interference from the ego, and its many surface-level concerns, allowing our Soul to grow stronger in its own voice and balance out the four relationships between ourselves and our partners.

Although the four types of relationships form the central theme of Holy Love, there are several chapters dedicated to the different ways to meet and communicate with the other’s Soul. I think this approach really helps to focus on the types of relationships which are more lacking in the contemporary world. By approaching communication with the Soul (one’s own, or that of one’s partner) from a variety of perspectives and modalities, we are presented with an open arena in which to explore the best route to strengthen these relationships.

Overall, I think Holy Love is a brilliant book to help couples develop their relationship along multiple dimensions. Even if you are not currently in a romantic relationship, this book is still worth the read, as it has more than enough material to assist in aligning the relationship between your own ego and Soul. Through practical examples, exercises, and relatable experiences, Romeo and Foley offer us fantastic guidance for how we might all realize the unlimited degree to which love can flow through us and into the world.