✨ A Gathering Place for Magical Readers and Writers ✨

The Chiron Effect, by Lisa Tahir

The Chiron Effect: Healing Our Core Wounds through Astrology, Empathy, and Self-Forgiveness, by Lisa Tahir, LCSW
Bear & Company, 1591433958, 208 pages, November 2020

We all have a wound within us that makes us say “ouch” when it’s touched. Chiron, an astronomical centaur, can illuminate where this pain may be showing up in our lives through looking at its placement in an astrology chart. The Chiron Effect: Healing Our Core Wounds through Astrology, Empathy, and Self-Forgiveness by Lisa Tahir, LCSW is a wonderful place to begin your journey in discovering your wounding and shifting it into a healed strength. Offering a comprehensive method of healing your core wounding, this book goes beyond explaining the meaning of Chiron in your astrology chart, and becomes your guide to transformation.

Tahir’s intention to facilitate a healing process is evident within her writing. Her unique approach to astrology stems from her background in clinical social work. She developed and trademarked the modality Psychastrology®, which combines personal psychology and natal astrology. The approach she takes in teaching the reader about Chiron is a cross between psychology techniques for healing and spiritual practices to facilitate mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness, such as meditation, affirmations, and energy healing through the chakras. This unique method really makes it so the reader can use The Chiron Effect as a guide for doing their own inner work to heal the wounding of their Chiron placement as they read Tahir’s insight.

The book slowly eases the reader into working with this sensitive energy. Tahir assures the reader that change is possible by highlighting her own personal journey. Throughout The Chiron Effect, she draws on the wisdom learned from taking on the challenge of overcoming her wounding, as indicated by her Chiron placement, and teaches the toolkit that was most effective. The first chapter, “Living Deeply In Each Moment,” is almost entirely a first-person account of experience in finding her voice, holding onto hope, and attaining enlightenment through forgiveness. Her process awoke the inner healer within her, and as she writes “My own experiences inspired me to investigate the power of this particular healing method.” 1

From here, Tahir guides the reader to discover the wounded healer within themselves through the energy of Chiron. She puts forth that learning unconditional love, empathy, and forgiveness has the power to undo the hurt of the past and change it into wisdom that can be used to heal yourself and others. As mentioned, Tahir uses a variety of psychological methods such as bringing awareness to coping mechanisms due to trauma, moving through emotionally triggering situations, and embracing change even if the ego mind struggles to accept it. She also draws upon teachings from A Course in Miracles, which has greatly impacted her personal work and spiritual journey.

“What I do know is that points of pain can expand us  beyond who we are now and enable us to grow into more beautiful people if we allow this to happen. We do this by tenderly holding onto our precious selves. We also continue our inner work of healing and tap into gratitude for the love that has broken us open to our core and given birth to many small miracles through us.” 2

Chapter five, “Finding Chiron In Your Chart,” then shifts into the astrology aspects of Chiron. Tahir uses a chart to guid the reader through finding the zodiac sign that Chiron was located in when they were born. Then there is a description of all twelve of the astrological houses. However, there isn’t much description about how one would find the house placement of their natal Chiron and it may be a bit over the head of someone who hasn’t ever seen their own astrology chart. This may be why there are only brief explanations of each house and much more emphasis on the sign placement of Chiron.

Chiron is then described through every zodiac sign in chapters six through seventeen. Every sign has key words for how wounded and healed Chiron feels, an overview of the wounding of this placement, takeaways to facilitate healing, and affirmations. Some signs seemed to have more information than others; I found myself wishing for a bit more information about my Chiron placement. The style of writing and Tahir’s tone changes from sign to sign, making some descriptions feel more relatable than others.

Reading through all the Chiron placements, it seems there were quite a few assumptions made about how a person would be based on the wounding of the sign. In the short description of my placement there was a plea to seek mental health counseling or call 911 for suicidal thoughts. I feel like perhaps Tahir’s background in social work and counseling is more pronounced in the interpretation of the Chiron placements than a professional astrological interpretation. This is worth noting because someone with an astrological background may find the description of the sign placements generic or presumptuous.

This is why I would recommend this book for a very beginner to astrology or someone with minimal astrology interest that is more seeking an alternative modality to facilitate spiritual healing. Tahir’s background in social work and counseling creates a safe container for one to begin to learn about the wounds of Chiron. While this is obviously a life-long journey, she successfully instills confidence in the reader that change is possible and beauty can emerge from the pain. Tahir has ventured into the archetype of wounded healer and emerged with the wisdom of this book to share with others.

My favorite part of The Chiron Effect actually came at the very end in the appendix, “Chiron and the Psychoastrology® of the United States of America.” Tahir discusses the natal astrology chart of America and things such as the impact of COVID-19, homelessness, public education, and a variety of other societal ills to be responded to in the near future. This appendix feels like it could be an insightful book and I do hope Tahir shares more of her insight on these topics.

All in all, The Chiron Effect is a guide for spiritual development and transformation. Through acknowledging our pain, weaknesses, and wounding based on Chiron in one’s astrology chart, Tahir teachers the reader that they can become their own healer. Filled with the love, faith, hope, and optimism that comes through Tahir’s writing, readers will be able to see themselves with a bit more clarity and use this awareness to facilitate inner peace.

Magdalene Mysteries, by Seren and Azra Bertrand

Magdalene Mysteries: The Left-Hand Path of the Feminine Christ, Seren Bertrand & Azra Bertrand, M.D.
Bear & Company, 978-1-59143-346-0, 525 pages, 2020

Magdalene Myserties: The Left-hand Path of the Feminine Christ by Seren Bertrand and Azra Bertrand is a deep dive into Mary Magdalene, viewing her from Biblical, historical, and mystical perspectives. This well-researched book invites the reader on a pilgrimage to the Rose by journeying through three portals: the Magdalene Chronicles, the Magdalene Codex, and the Magdalene Vision Quest. These portals form the basis of the sectioning of the book, with each portal offering in-depth exploration of the topic. The authors write that “a key to our journey into the Magdalene Mysteries is to understand the true left-hand path of the goddess; and that Mary Magdalene…was the lineage holder of this sacred tradition.”1

Before the reader enters the portals, the authors provide their “love letters,” each offering individual writings on their initiations/encounters with Mary Magdalene, with Sara writing of meeting Mary Magdalene and of the sacred masculine vision and Azra writing about the Holy Whore of Sophia. The book then proceeds to “explore a radical, forbidden version of Mary Magdalene as a priestess of the Womb mysteries.”2

I was drawn to this book to explore the multi-faceted Mary Magdalene. Having been raised a Catholic, I initially only knew of Mary Magdalene as the prostitute, carried into my teen years with watching Jesus Christ Superstar where she was again portrayed in this role. I later became an adjunct instructor of Art History, and again, my encounters with Mary Magdalene in painting and sculpture again had her portrayed as a prostitute. As I began reading sources other than the Catholic church (!) I was met by a powerful woman, a trusted apostle of Jesus. I needed to learn more, and this book provided a compendious accounting of Mary Magdalene. 

Portal One, the Magdalene Chronicles, details Mary Magdalene’s lineage, starting with the “ancient mothers” in Sumeria. The chronology includes mermaids and the primeval water dragons, Inanna, and Asherah. It was illuminating to read of this lineage of the powerful woman, the vessel, the womb. The authors then transition to Mary Magdalene’ story of the Feminine Christ, looking at the feminist ministry of Christ, whether or not Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married, and her place at the crucifixion and resurrection. The first portal concludes with churches linked to the growth of churches in Europe linked to Mary Magdalene. 

The main focus of Portal Two, the Magdalene Codex, is an in-depth study of the Ghent Altarpiece, created by Jan Van Eyck, from 1426 to 1432. The authors approach this work “as both a pilgrimage and Grail Quest.”3 I found this section fascinating. I was familiar with the Ghent Altarpiece and taught about it in my Art History classes from the typical perspective of the religious symbolism in the painting such as the lamb symbolizing the Lamb of God. I taught about perspective, the place of patrons present in the piece, the role of an altarpiece in a church, etc. The authors, however, offer a complex and compelling distillation of the altarpiece, focusing one’s attention on the positioning of images to create the “position of birthing and sacred sexuality.” (plate 15). I did need to sit a while with the intimation that Van Eyck inserted an heretical message in the work. 

The authors turned next to Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper. I will admit that I never “bought” the explanation that the feminine figure to the side of Jesus was John the Evangelist. I am in agreement that, after having read about the important place of Mary Magdalene in the life of Jesus, that this image was indeed that of Mary Magdalene. The authors write that da Vinci was also “connected to the underground streams of the feminine mysteries.” 4 I imagine that these artists kept the need of art patronage in the forefront as they created multi-dimensional works of art with levels of meaning. 

The belief that Mary Magdalene was seen as a “dangerous figure” threatening to usurp masculine power, led to her portrayal as a “less than,” a whore, non-starter. The second portal closes with a return to the Ghent Altarpiece, where the authors write that Van Eyck “presents an entirely new, and at the same time ancient, vision in which the feminine is restored.” 5 I found the second portal so very fascinating, given my background in Art History. It’s given me a desire to develop an art history course on Mary Magdalene. 

The Third Portal, Magdalene Vision Quest, focuses on the pilgrimage to the Rose through “stories, oracles, and personal rituals.” 6 In the chapter Honoring the Motherline, Mary Magdalene as the “spirit keeper of the womb” is investigated. Seren writes about her own opening up to the path of Mary Magdalene and the goddess path. A personal favorite of mine was her writing about her pilgrimage to Glastonbury in England, a place I was drawn to visit as well. It is hard to adequately describe the otherworldly feeling of Glastonbury, the multidimensional feeling of space and time. Sere writes about the chalice well and its red flowing water and Glastonbury Abbey built on the site of an ancient sacred site devoted to the divine feminine and “known in local lore as the ‘vagina of the birth goddess.’”7

Seren recounts how Magdalene directed her to visit Iona, a remote Scottish island in the Hebrides. I was beginning to feel a connection both to Magdalene and Seren as Iona is a place that I find myself constantly drawn to read about and to most definitely visit post-pandemic. She continues by writing about the ancestral wise witches and the death of her mother, the mother of her “birth womb.”8 She movingly describes the graveside service she led for her mother. “As my mother’s womb had birthed me into this world, now I midwived her back into the womb of Mother Earth, for her rebirth into the Spirit world.”9

The Third Portal section contains rituals that the reader can perform, such as a Rose Ritual or the Anointing of the Moon ritual, a Mermaid ritual, and a Black Rose rituals. The rituals all contain references to an element, a ministry (such as cleansing), archetypes (such as Aphrodite), colors, and sigils (like a chalice). I have not yet taken the time to participate in a ritual, though, but the moving descriptions accompanying each ritual will draw me in sooner rather than later.

The book concludes with an invitation to return to the “dynamic Wild Feminine” which is “not limited to the story of one person or priestess – it is a living, vibrant frequency within everyone, calling to be remembered and embodied.” 10 Seren’s prayers to Magdalene are the final pages of the book. 

The book contains numerous images and illustrations to support the writings, including prehistoric clay tablets and sculptures, rich reproductions of pre-Renaissance and Renaissance tapestries, painting, and sculptures, and 20th century art including the image of a stained glass window in Sheffield, England in which Mary Magdalene is depicted as holding her hands in the “womb mudra position.” 11

Magdalene Mysteries offers a perfect combination of historic information across millennia along with the personal interactions of the authors with Mary Magdalene. It is a book to be read over time, allowing the information to seep in. It reads as a pilgrimage, and like all pilgrimages, time should be taken to allow the path to reveal itself to you, to allow yourself to open to revelations and notice the changes that occur as a result of the pilgrimage. The book is a pilgrimage to the Rose, and as such, invites the reader to open up slowly to Mary Magdalene, much like a rose itself that slowly opens, moving from a bud to a flower in full bloom, layers of beautiful petals.  It is a comprehensive introduction to Mary Magdalene to those new to the subject and also a deep-dive for those wanting a deeper interaction with Mary Magdalene. I highly recommend this book and encourage the reader to walk the path of pilgrimage to the Rose with these highly informed and passionate authors.

Egyptian Magick, by Mogg Morgan

Egyptian Magick: A Spirited Guide, by Mogg Morgan
Mandrake of Oxford, 1906958992, 432 pages, November 2020

The influence of ancient Egypt has remained strong in the imagination of Western magic through the Hebrew and Greek traditions and was popularized again in its revival during the Enlightenment. While this energy is still potent centuries later, it is often molded into the one-size-fits-all, easy-to-digest books that make this type of magickal practice easily accessible to the reader. This is wonderful for those who do not intend to delve into a full practice, but it often leaves those who seek to deepen their magick wanting. Cue Egyptian Magick: A Spirited Guide by Mogg Morgan, which is just the book for those who truly wish to expand their practice into a working system.

Morgan is both a practitioner and scholar of the occult. The level of detail described in Egyptian Magick duly reflects this combination, which clearly showcases the relationship between scholarship to inform practice and practice contextualizing scholarship. He has authored quite a few other titles, the most notable being Isis: Goddess of Egypt & India, Supernatural Assault in Ancient Egypt: Seth, Renpet & Moon Magick, The Ritual Year in Ancient Egypt: Lunar and Solar Calendars and Liturgy, and Seth & The Two Ways: Ways of Seeing the Demon God of Egypt. His area of focus is “the connections between the popular magick of ancient Egypt and its continuation/crossover with the living magical traditions of the middle East, and the Kaula/witchcraft of south Asia and beyond.”1

Egyptian Magick is Morgan’s compilation of the core ideas from his previous books all brought together to create one authoritative guide. And let me tell you, it is PACKED with information. I will admit, I was a bit intimidated when I began reading this book. With only a novice level of knowledge about Egyptian Magick, I instantly felt like I was in over my head. At first I did my best to find my footing in the book by dutifully going through it page by page, but quickly I realized I could jump around a bit within each chapter and slowly weave together the tapestry of information. This method helped me to not feel overwhelmed and discover my own method of working with the book rather than becoming inundated (and stuck!).

There are eight chapters in the book that are all filled with sub-sections and even more small headers with information. At times this can feel a bit choppy, but I also believe this style offers as much information as possible within the framework of the book. The book begins with an invocation and then delves into Heka & Hekau. This section really stands out because it describes all types of Egyptian magick: sleep magick, image magick, human sacrifice, funeral rites, and more! So often, scholarship wants to overlook these gruesome details within occult practices, but Morgan does not shy away from topics such as decapitation and reversals or cannibalism. It’s a bit gruesome, but at the same time enlightening, and almost liberating, to be able to delve into such taboo topics.

Reading on, Morgan expands on his reasoning for the basis for this work with contextual references to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Aliester Crowley. He writes, “I have come to believe that the real ‘Golden Dawn’ is an experience rather than an organization.”2. He then encourages the reader to “try to put aside what you know and approach the surviving records of ancient Egyptian magick with a fresh mind.”3 This sentiment really stuck with me, as many of the techniques and practices I’ve learned thus far have stemmed from the Golden Dawn. Some of the fascinating topics that resonated with me most were the correspondences of Greek vowels with elements, secret languages of magicians, the relationship between sigils and hieroglyphs, Egyptian numerology, and an impressive array of seals.

Chapter four, “The Temple of Imaginarium,” was probably my favorite in the entire book. Ever since I learned about this mind-mapping technique in Masonic Magician by Philipa Faulks and Robert L.D. Cooper, I’ve been fascinated but haven’t been able to learn more. Morgan explains it well in writing:

“What else is a temple but a representation, in material, of the cosmology of the people who built it? The temple represents the archeology of gnosis, the sequences of a journal through the temple represent the initiatory journey to the ‘holy mountain’.4 It can be an imaginarium or House of all Possibilities, a theatre in which to locate one’s magick.”5

Morgan offers a guided visualization to move through this temple to discover your own magical potency. You gain the ability to move through and access the energy of Egyptian deities, performing the role of a priest. I’ve only tried this once, but found it quite impactful. I plan on familiarizing myself with this exercise when I have time to truly dedicate to experimenting with the technique.

The following chapters detail the rites of initiation, lead the reader through the underworld, and then go into the longest chapter about the ritual year of the Egyptians. These chapters are the real key to opening oneself into this working system of Egyptian Magick. The rituals can be performed at the start of each month and help to orient the practitioner to the time of year and energy available. Since I prefer attuning to the spirit of the place where I physically am, I haven’t tried any of the rituals. However, for a reader who wishes to fully work this system, everything that is needed is within this chapter.

What strikes me the most about Egyptian Magick is the level of insight that Morgan has accumulated. I would guess this isn’t his last book, but in many ways it feels like a magnum opus. Without hesitancy, Morgan clearly elucidated occult practices with objectivity, reverence, and awe. The book is clearly shaped by Morgan’s unique perception, but in no way does it feel contrived to push a practice. Rather, it clearly lays it all out for the reader, from the taboo to the mundane aspects of this work, and offers an all-encompassing guide to Egyptian magick.

Overall, Egyptian Magick is a trustworthy source for expanding one’s knowledge of the Egyptian occult and how this magick can be practiced today. It beautifully blends scholarship with experience to offer a compendium of information. I hesitate to recommend it to a novice practitioner, but I do believe that is a must-have for anyone working with Egyptian deities or is interested in learning more about Egyptian practices. Within these pages is a year-round system of Egyptian magick that utilizes techniques that have amply survived the test of time.

As Morgan writes, “Ideally this becomes part of a practical theology by which the practitioner becomes, through ‘dynamic resonance’ the image of the gods or divine forces he or she emulates.”6 I feel putting this book into effect could absolutely achieve these results. It certainly is not for everyone, but Egyptian Magick is a reliable resource for those who are ready to take their practices to the next level.

Esoteric Mysteries of the Underworld, by Jean-Pierre Bayard

Esoteric Mysteries of the Underworld: The Power & Meaning of Subterranean Spaces, by Jean-Pierre Bayard
Inner Traditions, 978-1644110621, 320 pages, 2020

One of the first things I noticed about Esoteric Mysteries of the Underworld: The Power & Meaning of Subterranean Spaces was how incredibly dense it is. This book is not a light read; it’s meant for those serious about exploring the hidden symbolism and meaning found in the deepest recesses of the Earth. Perfectly poised to craft such a tome, Jean-Pierre Bayard was a prolific esoteric scholar and authored more than 50 books on topics such as Rosicrucianism, secret societies, symbolism, and the spiritual aspect of Freemasonry. Bayard passed away in 2008 leaving behind a legacy of gorgeous writings that are multilayered and diverse in their objective to share his vast knowledge. This specific book explores the spiritual aspects of the underworld; with many ancient cultures sharing similar beliefs around the power of underground spaces and natural rock formations, Bayard weaves together the similarities in a way that breathes life into these places often thought devoid of life.

This book called to me instantly, as the myths of humans and demigods traversing through the underworld on their various journeys to find themselves is an appealing theme. Included with this thematic exploration of myth, symbology, deities, and beliefs is a guide to the spiritual energies that ebb and flow beneath our feet. Reading this book caused me to become more aware of my surroundings and to pay attention to subtle shifts in energies around me, as often they are telltale signs of things to happen. Not to say I accurately predicted lottery numbers; this was more of an awareness of present energies and their patterns. Birds suddenly flocking around me signaling an approaching predator (a cat), a squawking crow alerting me to a changing traffic light, and so on. Situations like this may seem mundane, as most of us have experienced some form of what I mentioned at some point, but when taken in a spiritual light as a form of an all-encompassing connection it becomes so much more.

The book is separated into two parts: “The Symbolism of the Underworld and the Cave” and “The Cavern.” Dealing with topics such as telluric currents, underground water, underground gems and so on, the book lays out very detailed explanations of each topic and why it’s relevant. The meaty stuff is where I turned to first: underground temples, initiatory passageways, underground labyrinths, and more. This is why you buy this book: these topics are so thoroughly explored you feel as thought you’ve just earned a degree. Bayard references his previous books as additional sources of information, not out of megalomania but because he really does know that much about these things. There is no bravado here, it’s all just information presented in a very high level manner that is a joy to read. An in-depth bibliography, endnotes presented by chapter, and two appendices (one listing definitions from the Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary and the other a two page piece on Hollow Earth Mysticism) are nice additions to the book. These provide great resources for those who may require further explanation. I love when writers include their notes on the resources they used and referred to in their work as quite often it leads to discovering more information and new writers. Everything is connected.

Perhaps my favorite section of the entire book is lucky chapter eight, “Descent Into Hell.” This chapter delves into the notion of hell. It does not focus on the Christian aspect of the region, but instead goes into vast details about the symmetry of the place as an idea — one that is described using similar vernacular across various cultures and time periods. I appreciated this shift away from the whole “lake of fire and eternal damnation” imagery immensely. Bayard explains his choice to explore other aspects of the realm by reminding the reader that this has already been explored in a previous book. Again, this does not come across as bragging, merely a statement that if one wishes to know more about that specific topic, there is another book by the same author that could give you what you are looking for.

What I also love about this book is how Bayard takes all of this information and somehow manages to not only make it interesting, but to also leave space for the reader to question. There is no feeling that the material presented is the final word on any of the subjects contained within: this is more of collection of writings on a variety of topics that all have an esoteric thread linking them to one another. Each section blends seamlessly into the next and there is enough information in each section that links to the next, something that I found kept me on track and engaged despite the vast amount of information being presented.

Bayard’s style of writing might be off putting to some who may be used to more humor in their reading material. He writes in a tone that imparts the information in a very straight forward way, almost like a lecture but with more depth. Personally, I found his voice to be very to the point and without any frills, something that is rare when dealing with esoteric topics. I will admit I haven’t delved too deeply into the topic of the underworld previously, as it seemed unavailable to me, and now after reading Bayard’s Esoteric Mysteries of the Underworld, I think I am ready to have another go at it.

House of Sleep, by Brad Kelly

House of Sleep, by Brad Kelly
Independently Published, 8593128638, 312 pages, January 2021

What is that place where reality ends and dreams begin? Can our dreams impact our reality, and in turn can reality be shaped by our dreams? These philosophical questions are brilliantly explored in the recently published book House of Sleep by Brad Kelly. This genre-melding fictional story invites the reader to question the nature of our dreams, where we derive personal satisfaction from in our life, and the ultimate quest for the existence of an omnipresent divine being.

Lynn is distraught after the death of her fiancé. She had recently become pregnant and within a short span of time, she lost both the baby and her beloved Michael. Maintaining her career as a psychiatrist becomes a challenge as she slips deeper into despair. Spiraling out of control and desperate to connect with Michael again, Lynn decides to take the opportunity to attend a retreat, which happens to be nearby and completely free. With the encouragement and safety net of her trusted best friend Nikki keeping tabs on her, Lynn desires to embrace this experience and see what may come of it.

Simultaneously, readers are introduced to the other protagonist Daniel, who is disease-ridden and at the mercy of a religiously fervent father that believes him to be demonically possessed. After a lifetime of being subjected to his father’s violent zealotry, Daniel has finally gathered the inner strength to leave home and seek out his older brother who had left the abusive home years prior. Growing up, Daniel’s older brother had been his refuge, as he did his best to shield Daniel from the blows of their father and share with him all he had learned about the world. The parting words he left Daniel with were to get to a doctor and then find him.

The lives of Lynn and Daniel, along with many other colorful characters, become intertwined at the House of Sleep. Led by a mysterious man called The Diving Man, the House of Sleep is creating a bridge in the dream realm to usher in a new reality. As he spouts philosophical wisdom and transcendent spiritual insights, the main characters are led to question who this person is and whether he is to be trusted. Some followers give him full credence, while another is keeping tabs on this man for detective research. The ambiguity of it all leaves room for the reader to continually question if the Diving Man is a brilliant cult leader or incarnate god. All the people called there have a role to play, but what is the price of the great work these dreamers are doing?

Kelly does a wonderful job of keeping the readers guessing. The book is divided into three parts each section and ends with a metaphorical ellipsis. Just when the reader thinks they have it figured out, there’s a new twist to the story. There is a blending of past, present, and future that creates a labyrinth of time. The characters must work together to discover the truth about the secret dream work they are doing and its impact on the lives of everyone involved.

The best part of the book is the monologue of the Diving Man, presumably speaking to himself in his own mind. Packed with revelation and wisdom, these words open portals to new dimensions of the mind. Having the courage to flip reality on its head invites splendid perceptions, and the Diving Man has the background to truly push at the seams of reality to bring forth the truth of spiritual and human existence. Reading his words, you begin to wonder about who or what God is and how is this state of being truly achieved?

“Don’t you see that God has truly died? There are no lies and so every word a metaphor, and those you make in a moment live live as wires in your head, so. . . we (yes, yes, yes) we killed him and he was pleased to go. It had been long enough trying to hammer the point home.  But there is a way to take his place. And how many broken-souled caveats to the start-it-all-over paradigm would you actually trade to place someone back in that cobwebbing throne.” 1

While on the surface this book may seem like a narcissist’s dream of massing followers to do his bidding based on their desire to assuage their personal suffering, the Diving Man’s wisdom remains compelling. His unique life circumstances have primed him for the role even he must play in the symphony of the Universe. The book brings to light just how far grief can push people to go in the quest to regain the love lost and find meaning once again in their life.

I will say the book can feel a bit dark at times. I chalk this up to the lens through which Kelly writes: the stark realism contrasting the symbolic dreams of the people in the House of Sleep. It becomes a real battle between Saturnian and Neptunian forces. As Lynn tries to escape the pain of her reality and reconnect with her love in dreams, Daniel is emerging from the delusion he’s been trapped in his entire life to discover the true nature of reality. The link between them is the real key to awakening, and the role of the Diving Man becomes increasingly warped.

I recommend House of Sleep for readers that enjoy the work of Chuck Palahniuk and Philip K. Dick. The blending of psychedelics and psychology to probe the interior of human minds in both waking and dreaming life invites revelatory insight. You may hear the prompting of the Diving Man whispering his life’s knowledge into your ear, but it’s up to you to decide the action must be taken based on your subjective reality in the dreams. If you would like to sample Kelly’s work and get a feel for his writing style, you can read his short stories here: https://www.bradkellyesque.com/short.

Enchanted Herbal, by Gail Bussi

Enchanted Herbal: Connect to Nature & Celebrate the Seasons, by Gail Bussi
Llewellyn Publications, 0738766119, 288 pages, December 2020

Living seasonally is a very important part of my spiritual practice. The best ways to connect with the seasons that I’ve learned over the years are practices that keep me grounded, such as cooking, journaling, and self-care. Though I’ve been living this lifestyle for quite some time, I have been delightfully surprised by all the inspiration offered by Gail Bussi in Enchanted Herbal: Connect to Nature & Celebrate the Seasons. This book is handy, practical, and filled with wisdom for all the seasons. Reading it just through Winter thus far, I’ve already felt a shift that deepened my mind-body-spirit connection to the season. I’ve also had lots of fun trying out new recipes and learning about seasonal herbs.

Immediately I resonated with Bussi’s words, “Each season brings its own gifts, lessons, opportunities, and sometimes challenges — but I believe nature also offers us the remedy for these challenges if we are open to connecting with her each and every day of the year.”1 By participating in the energy of the seasons, adjusting our routines accordingly, there is wisdom to be gained from the natural cycles of the Earth. Bussi’s writing nurtures the reader and enhances feelings of being calm and centered throughout the seasons. With this book in hand, I feel ready for all the shifts in nature through the year.

The book starts with Spring and moves along in seasonal order to end with Winter. Every season is divided into sections: Heart Notes, Create, Nurture, Grow, and Taste. The way this compendium of seasonal knowledge is organized makes it easy to find just what you’re looking for, whether it be general information about the time of the year, a scrumptious recipe, or an idea for a creative project. Enchanted Herbal has it all — simple practices to connect with the energy of the season, gardening tips, homemade body products, and a wide array of tasty delights.

What I like most about Enchanted Herbal is that it is a very hands-on book. Reading it makes one want to partake in the seasonal energy through the wide variety of projects, creative suggestions, and cooking ideas that Bussi offers. My initiative was ignited, but in the most soothing and centered way, as I am reading it during winter which is the “do nothing” season. The promptings to bake, cook, or partake in self-care felt very intuitive. I would feel called to try this recipe, or steep that tea, and the experience of reading through the book over the course of a few weeks yielded a Juniper Cleansing Mist, Eucalyptus and Jasmine Foot Soak, and dinner of Stir-Fry Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Garlic (yum!).

Even though I only partook in Winter activities, I did read through the other seasons and got very excited for all the things I wanted to try out. My mouth was joyfully anticipating some of the recipes in the book, such as Chocolate Mint Pots, Fireside Mushroom Soup, Pumpkin Fritters with Sage, and Spicy Coconut Chicken. It’s worth noting that Bussi previously ran a catering company and has published a cookbook, so she truly knows her stuff when it comes to food! Furthermore, there are even recipes for enticing beverages – to name a few: Spring Morning Tea, Coconut Tumeric Latte, and Dandelion Wine.

Some other ideas inspired by Enchanted Herbal are planting an astrological garden, creating a nature mandala, and practicing the art of foraging. I’m very much looking forward to Spring now that I have this book to guide me into new ways to attune to nature and celebrate the season. I am already intending to create the Spring Morning Toner, which uses all the natural ingredients to refresh the skin, and Lemon Verbena Massage Oil that can be used for the skin or dropped into a bath. I’m pacing myself, but it’s tempting to not hold off on all the Summer recipes (Tri-Colore Tomato Salad!) and self-care DIY projects (Peaceful Nights Pillow Mist, After-Sun Soothing Tub) I’m eager to try out! 

Bussi has filled each season with so many ways to engage with the herbs that the reader has room to pick and choose as they feel called, coming back over the course of a long while to perhaps finally try it all. This is definitely a book that you will reference back to many times through the year, as the recipes are worth repeating and the instructions for projects like creating essential oils, foot scrubs, and aloe vera gel will always come in handy. It is a wonderful book to begin your herbal journey of healing and self-nurturance.

All elements of my being felt supported when reading Enchanted Herbal, as it truly teaches how to tend to one’s self with love and care to become more aligned with the natural energy of the year. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys cooking, DIY projects, or gardening that wants to further deepen their connection to the energy of the seasons. There’s magic in these everyday activities, and Bussi teaches the reader how to find joy throughout the year by living in harmony with the seasons.

Angelic Lightwork, by Alana Fairchild

Angelic Lightwork: Magic & Manifestation with the Angels, by Alana Fairchild
Llewellyn Publications, 9780738762692, 248 pages, 2020

It’s true, big things come in little packages. Angelic Lightwork: Magic & Manifestation with the Angels by Alana Fairchild is a small book (7”x5”) that packs a powerful dose of angelic love. I’ve read countless books on the angels, how to work with them, who they are, and how they communicate, but this book spoke words to me that I hadn’t heard until now; it offered insight that had never been presented to me.

I was drawn to this book initially because I am familiar with other work by the author. Her deck Mother Mary Oracle is one of my absolute favorites and it never fails to offer guidance that is spot on. I was interested to see whether her writings on the angels would also resonate so deeply. I can say with assurance that Fairchild fully delivers on her intention of the book stated as, “my intention in creating this loving little book is that you connect with all that divine goodness within and find comfort, empowerment, happiness, and freedom in doing so.” 1

I read this book as many challenges were creeping into my life — challenges that trigger those story-fondling monsters that threaten joy, faith, and peace. The statements found in the pages of the book offered a new way of thinking for me, a new way of understanding who the angels are, and insight into the ease with which one can interact with the them for manifestation of the highest good.

Lesson one: ahh, yes, I limit myself but the angles are limitless. Lesson two: think of connecting with the angels as more of “playing” with these lighthearted beings versus “working” with them. “It is not the divine nature that is the issue, but our own expectations and fears that prevent us from being able to bear unobstructed witness.” 2 As Fairchild reminds the reader, angels help us get closer to the divine.

Fairchild reiterates that there are limitless numbers of angels that can be called on to help; when we ask for angelic guidance we are not taking the angels away from another in need. The more we engage with the angels the more we open up the channel to the divine. “When your thoughts are on the divine energies of angels, you will be energetically broadcasting a beautiful light that will attract similar frequencies to your world….” 3

Conversely, she also writes about the concept of our free will. “They (angels) want to help humans, but because of our free will, they need to wait until we ask.” 4 Correspondingly, we can ask for angelic help for another being, but they have the free will whether to accept the angelic help. 

Throughout the book, Fairchild shares her amazing knowledge of the angelic realm in great detail. Part One focuses on “angelic basics” with sections on what angels are really like, the different types of celestial angels, some of the angels who want to help you, simple practices to connect with angels, and preparing for archangel work.  I particularly liked the questions she posed and answered, such as one about if one can ask for too much help from their angels. The questions are ones that I’m sure that most of us have as we work with the angels, and her responses serve to deepen our understanding of working with these beings of love and light.

In the chapter titled “Different Types of Celestial Angels,” Fairchild provides an in-depth description of the hierarchy of angels from the first through the third orders. Her descriptions of the angelic realms such as powers, virtues, seraphim, and thrones were enlightening. I had no idea there were so many strata of angels. However, while the book references guardian angels, it only briefly touches on this subject.

Fairchild goes into greater detail about individual angels in the chapter “Angels Who Want to Help You.” Included are the four archangels that she details in Part Two of the book, as well as other angels who are particularly close to humanity, such as Metatron, Sandalphon, and Camael. I find it so helpful to know the particular “specialties” of these angels to help me call on one in particular depending on the issue at hand. For example, Camael who helps those who need spiritual strength5 has been very helpful to me recently, as I face some obstacles in my personal life. She even offers specific ways to call in the particular angel and also provides information on the ways they are depicted in art and writing. 

The chapter “Simple Practices to Connect with Angels” also gave me a lot of insight into how I can better connect with the angels. In part of the book Fairchild offers ways to ready one’s self for receiving angelic communication from setting up an altar to finding a quiet space. I liked hearing that calling on the angels can be as simple as saying an angel’s name aloud. The book conveys that working with the angels can be any way that works best with our own individual lifestyle. 

Part Two focuses on what Fairchild calls angelic lightwork, “which is the art of creating healing, magic, and manifestation with angelic energy.” 6 She specifically details how to do deeper angelic lightwork with four archangels, Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Uriel. Since Michael is a favorite of mine, I chose to do the book’s exercises with Michael. I appreciated reading that I could work with Michael as often as I wished and that my practice with Michael would never become worn out. I have been using the book’s exercise to call in Michael often over the past few weeks and find that inviting in Michael’s angelic support is always met with a response. I release the need to control how, when, where, and why – and open myself for the response. As Fairchild explains, “when we focus on doing our inner work rather than trying to make outer circumstances change, we heal and grow spiritually.” 7

At the beginning of the book, just after the Table of Contents, the reader finds “Practices,” a section that is a quick reference to special practices found in Chapters 6 – 9 that can be used to work with these four archangels. Fairchild lists the specific topics and references the page on which they can be found. For example, there is a practice for healing through divorce (or the end of any relationship), manifesting money, and all the resources you need for peace and progress, prayers for good health, blessing a journey, finding the best place to live (and for the homeless in need of shelter), and protection for animals. There is truly a wide range of angelic practices detailed in the book, and I like that the Practice section gives quick reference.

The book continually reinforces the belief that “we still have our challenges in life to deal with, but we no longer have to feel that we have to do so on our own. We have powerful divine guardians to help us grow and heal through any experience.” 8 Doing the practices in this book and learning to work with the angels has certainly show this to be true. I already feel the guidance, love, and support from my angels deepening from the experience of reading this book.

I highly recommend Angelic Lightwork to all who wish to cultivate a relationship with the angels. Fairchild’s writings completely changed my mindset in working with the angels. It has been a healing balm that came at a much-needed time. Learning about these new method of working with the angels as given me many ways to invite the angels into my life. Having the angels nearby provides me comfort in knowing that I am never alone, and help can be just a whisper away.

The Call of Intuition, by Kris Franken

The Call of Intuition: How to Recognize & Honor Your Intuition, Instinct & Insight, by Kris Franken
Llewellyn Publications, 978-0738765938, 256 pages, 2020

Trying to find that elusive unicorn called work-life balance has many of us burning out and not able to focus on the task at hand. Attempting to find time for ourselves, while also taking care of others, and in some cases juggling a job has many of us cut off from ourselves and our intuition. Finding a pathway back to ourselves in terms of honoring our vast inner worlds is precisely what Kris Franken sets out to do in her beautiful book The Call of Intuition: How to Recognize & Honor Your Intuition, Instinct & Insight. In this book, Franken sets out workable sections on how to reconnect with our inner selves, and it couldn’t come at a better time.

With the turmoil society is in right now where many people feeling cut off and alone due to the pandemic, this book is a breath of fresh air. Not only does Franken reiterate what we all know intrinsically in terms of being always connected to our inner guidance, she shows us how to access that well of guidance through basic exercises designed to strengthen our link to ourselves. Woven through the chapters that are simply and directly named for what they offer (“Breathe,” “Surrender,” “Connect,” etc) are wonderful self-practices in the guise of prompts designed to provoke a deeper awareness that reflects back to the chapter topic. The first one, titled Self Aware Soul Prompt, took me to a place of deep calm and serenity that I greatly needed. It also reminded me that I need to take responsibility for my own empowerment, which surprised me because I totally thought I was doing that. Guess not!

The book is written simply and is a pleasure to read. Not that it’s an easy read: whenever you deal with personal transformation books there is always an element of difficulty in that you are called to face some aspects of yourself that you thought you’d dealt with. This isn’t to say that there is an abundance of Shadow Work here; while there may be a call to do that later on your own, this book is more about re-establishing contact between you and your higher self while leaving space for miracles to occur.

Franken doesn’t make the reader wait to get into the meaty stuff. In chapter two, she deftly explains the three inner guides that influence and inform each person: instinct, intuition, and insight. This forms the basis of the rest of the book and the detail she goes into about each one of these guides is beneficial for even the most seasoned and self-aware reader. Personally, I love it when the writer tells me exactly what they mean when they use specific words, as I feel it gives me another facet to a topic I might already know something about. Take intuition and insight for example. I would have thought that these two things would be quite similar based on my personal experience. Franken explains insight as “when you receive new information that merges with what you already know and provides a new understanding or a fresh perspective.” 1 Something I now have in conjunction to these two ideas, thanks to her explanation.

The second part of the book deals with the “how-to” of reconnecting and is the real reason why you pick this book up. While the first part provides a deep understanding of intuition, insight, and instinct, the second part provides six ways to fortify the bond with self through practical, hands-on, and playful approaches. Franken encourages the reader to think of this entire section as fluid and not treat it as a solid six-step program to follow diligently. I like that she goes out of her way to state that — quite often authors mean for this to be apparent, but it isn’t always that clear. In this case, the way the book is written invites the reader to jump around and try things at their own discretion. Perfect for someone like me who gets distracted by shiny things!

I especially enjoyed the section on surrendering, as I have a difficult time letting go and releasing things that no longer serve me. Part of this is because doing so invites real and drastic change into my life, and that is sometimes daunting and scary to consider. I know — why is this my favorite part if it causes so much discomfort? It’s precisely the discomfort that attracts me. Honestly, Franken’s writing makes me feel safe to move forward with this work despite the amount of fear I feel while contemplating the changes that need to be made. Empowerment: it’s already working!

If you are looking for a book that clearly lays out the basic principles behind acknowledging and accessing your inner guidance system, pick this book up. Ditto if you already have that knowledge but are looking for ways to strengthen the bonds already in place. There really isn’t anyone I can think of who wouldn’t benefit from reading The Call of Intuition, as it’s full of wonderful insight and anecdotes that resonate with their honesty and relevance. Franken has written a beautiful book that will lead you back to your center, if you are willing to take some time and reinvest it in yourself.

The Corona Transmissions, edited by Sherri Mitchell, Richard Grossinger, and Kathy Glass

The Corona Transmissions: Alternatives for Engaging with COVID-19―from the Physical to the Metaphysical, edited by by Sherri Mitchell, Richard Grossinger, Kathy Glass
Healing Arts Press, 644113073, 374 pages, December 2020

It’s been on the forefront of everyone’s mind for nearly a year: COVID-19. The crucial shifts necessitated from the spread of the virus have impacted all aspects of society, One may feel so “over it’ that they avoid having to think more about the topic than they must, but beyond the news, is there a deeper conversation we can be having about the transformative events taking place? The Corona Transmission: Alternatives for Engaging with COVID-19– from the Physical to the Metaphysical edited by Sherri Mitchell, Richard Grossinger, and Kathy Glass is a book I believe everyone should be reading as we slowly start to process what we’ve been through the past year.

The Corona Transmissions sets out to offer a wide variety of perspectives to make sense of what we’ve been living through during the pandemic. The fearful news and horrific stories of COVID-19 have been flooding our awareness since March 2020. As a result, we may be stuck in a mode of thinking that is limited in its capacity to see the greater picture of the role this virus is playing in reshaping our society. This book brings to the forefront the alternative voices out there that may not be highlighted in mainstream media. From poetry to homeopathic medicine, indigenous perspectives of Earth’s restoration to the esoteric lens of astrology and tarot, the writers gift us a new lens to view the pandemic through.

The book is divided into three sections: Overviews and Transmissions, Medical Information and Healing Modalities, and Deconstructions, Divinations, and Visions. While each writer’s work is loosely connected to the others in their section, every view is extremely different based on their own background, identity, and vantage point of what’s going on. The length of each piece varies, which makes for a stimulating read because there’s a variety to the flow of the book. One minute the reader is contemplating the socio-political failings of the nation that have led to an exacerbation of this situation, and in the next reading is focused on the experience of the coronavirus as a living being with its own agency, fostering a dialogue between humanity and the virus.

The uniqueness of each writer’s thoughts is what I really liked most about reading The Corona Transmissions. Since it is a compilation of different perspectives, there is an overwhelming amount of wisdom filling the pages, and discovering the works of people I’ve never heard of before was one of the best parts of reading the book.. I connected to the work of many people that I may not have otherwise been exposed to but whose words I deeply resonated with, such as Barbara Karlsen and Eric Meyers. I was delightfully surprised by how much I enjoyed the perspective of stone alchemist Robert Simmons, who proposed the Earth is opening up a dialogue of communication with us. Additionally the poetry of Zoe Brezsny, Paul Weiss, James Moore, Stephanie Lahar, and Jack Foley was penetrative, emotionally stimulating, and very accurate depictions of the sentiment of this time. There was even a contribution from one of my favorites: Charles Einstein, author of Sacred Economics (one of the best books I’ve ever read).

The second section, Medical Information and Healing Modalities, was probably some of the best medical information I’ve read about COVID-19. This section was packed with data that illuminated the rate of transmission in relationship to other viruses and provided a really grounded perspective of the numbers and statistics that may otherwise be too complex to fully understand. It also was filled with suggestions on how to naturally boost one immune’s system; from supplements to homeopathic remedies, there are many resources within this section to help the reader take control of their own health. There’s even methods to use for if one does contract COVID-19 to ease symptoms and facilitate quicker recovery.

Reading this book has led to a lot of healing within that I didn’t even realize I needed to be doing. Different writers hit spots within my heart and psyche, sparking a growth of consciousness and also nurturing the emotions that have not been “given voice” yet but wanted to be heard. Moving through The Corona Transmission gave me the opportunity to explore my relationship to fear, acknowledge what I’d been going through internally through this pandemic, and also restore hope for the future going forward. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and this book is a resource that makes me feel more emotionally and spiritually resilient, informed about the nature of this virus, and prepared for what may be to come as we shift to a post-pandemic world.

Much of this COVID-19 experience of quarantining and social distancing has left us in “survival mode.” We’ve been in defense against the virus, forced to make many personal sacrifices for the sake of safety. It certainly has been traumatic, and I’m sure there’s going to be a sense of collective PTSD as we now begin to integrate the experience and move forward. The collection of writing in The Corona Transmission is a step in that direction. It is for this reason I highly recommend it to people who are seeking to create a new relationship with the virus, find emotional balm in the art that’s emerged from the pain, explore alternative medicine to promote health, and open their perspective to better understand the large implications of all that has occurred.

Seeing the grief be turned into wonderful poetry and reading perspectives that contextualize this event in a more optimistic, or at least evolutionary, light reconnected me to a higher purpose. The voices in The Corona Transmission instilled a greater sense of meaning to the events that we’re living through, helping me to shift from a personal view to a transpersonal view that encompasses a greater range of possibilities. Reading the writer’s words made me feel reconnected to humanity, assured that we’re all in this together and there’s space for the perspective of everyone. In fact, it’s vital that we come together and share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and this book is a magnificent start to the dismantling, processing, re-envisioning needed to prevail.

Life Ritualized, by Phoenix LaFae and Gwion Raven

Life Ritualized: A Witch’s Guide to Honoring Life’s Important Moments, by Phoenix LeFae and Gwion Raven
Llewellyn Publications, 978-0-7387-6465-8, 201 pages, 2021

Life Ritualized: A Witch’s Guide to Honoring Life’s Important Moments by Phoenix LeFae and Gwion Raven grabbed me from the start because I am a lover of both life and ritual. The authors have decades of experience in leading groups through Rite of Passage ceremonies and are well qualified to speak to bringing ritual into everyday living.

The book begins with the authors’ biographies, identifying them as practicing Wiccans. Initially I wondered if the book would be applicable to my lifestyle since I do not practice traditional Wicca. Thankfully, this concern was alleviated before the first chapter. I appreciated the authors pointing out that regardless of one’s personal beliefs and practices, most of us will have people in our lives that do not share our beliefs and practices, and those same people will be the ones we will want to invite to our ceremonies and rituals should they be public or meant for a group to witness. I very much appreciated that stance, as it felt so open, inclusive and welcoming.

The book covers a wide variety of beautifully created rituals. Quite a number of them go far beyond the typical rituals attached to births, deaths, weddings and coming of age, though these are included and very lovely. I was especially excited to see rituals for things that I hadn’t thought of ritualizing before, such as taking a driver’s license test, getting a new car, or losing a job. Like the subtitle says, these are “important moments” in life and things that most of us will experience and remember as milestones. These “everyday” happenings are perfect for ritualizing.

The section that includes the “Rites for Leveling Up” was one of the parts I enjoyed most because it mentioned those unexpected moments and not only included actual rituals for things like passing a driving test, getting a job, a new home, and retiring – but also included some small yet powerful actions around these “level ups,” such as the list of suggestions for “vehicle protections.” 

The authors use personal stories to illustrate the rituals, and I found these stories to be among my favorite parts of the book. Not all life experiences are happy, and neither are these rituals created for only celebrating happy times. Instead all of life’s experiences are taken into consideration with love, care, and respect. Gwion’s personal story that accompanied the Abortion Ritual was powerful, respectful, and included a call to action to support reproductive freedom, which was exceptionally powerful. This story alone caused me to feel glad I had read the book.

As a life coach I recognize that everything we experience in life is somehow directly related to our sense of identity, and so the section titled “Rites of Identity” was another personal favorite. This section includes rituals for coming of age such as first menstruation and becoming a man, as well as rituals for coming out as queer, personal naming, adding a new name and taking a new name. This section also includes a beautiful Rite of Authenticity, which will be the first one I will personally perform for myself.

There is an Empty Nest ritual, a Menopause ritual, and a Loss of a Pet ritual – and having experienced these moments myself, I found myself wishing that I would have had this book in those moments of grief and/or transition when I felt so consumed with loss that I was at a loss to create something for myself.

The book is organized in sections that make the rituals easy to locate and includes rituals that are both general and specific, rituals to be performed alone, with small groups, and with large groups. The authors do a great job of anticipating societal situations and expectations; I smiled at the two different versions of Handfasting Rituals – the Handfasting Ritual for the Masses, as well as the Handfasting Ritual for Witches, Pagans, and the Open Minded.

Life Ritualized includes very useful explanations of the elements that help create flow in ritual, as well as a wonderful list of correspondences that are not only helpful in understanding the rituals in the book, but would be useful in creating new personal rituals whether the reader is already an expert or a complete beginner. I found this book easy to read, creative, enlightening, compassionate, respectful, and even fun. And I am looking forward to creating and enjoying more rituals in my life now. This book is going to be a well-used and well-loved reference in my library.