✨ A Gathering Place for Magical Readers and Writers ✨

Angel Abundance, by Belinda J. Womack

Angel Abundance: Revelations on True Wealth From the 12 Archangels, by Belinda J. Womack
Bear & Company, 159143498X, 272 pages, July 2023

Who doesn’t seek positive abundance? And what better entities to impart knowledge on how to live in abundance than the 12 Archangels? Angel Abundance: Revelations on True Wealth From the 12 Archangels by Belinda J. Womack is a book that came into my life at a time of immense self-questioning. You know, ask and it shall be given. I found myself “listening” intently to the messages from the 12 Archangels that came through Womack. Not only listening, but actually infusing my life and thoughts with the messages they were imparting.

Belinda initiates the reader to the concept of the Central Sun which is “composed of the energy we call love.”1 She writes about how we are living in the “Schoolroom Earth,” where we are learning and also remembering that we are divine beings. The Archangels seek to remind us to shift our vibration to a higher sort by letting go of fear and feelings of lack and unworthiness. All this to transform our lives and to move from suffering.

The Archangels remind the reader that their “words are infused with targeted healing energy that supports you or conscious mind in becoming aware of the negative thought habits giving you the message that you cannot have what you desire.”2 I add the caveat that we are giving what we desire if it is for our higher good because as the Rolling Stones reminded us, you can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need. They also provide us with an affirmative mantra:

“The Central Sun, through my own loving and generous Soul, will never deny me what I desire that is for my greatest good and highest joy.”3

The messages in the book go back to the concept that change works from the inside out. How we think and what we believe supports what happens to us physically, financially, emotionally, and yes, spiritually. Words and thoughts are powerful and the 12 Archangels offer a myriad of ways to shift negative self-talk and thinking to raise our vibration to “lighten up.” 

The messages in the book held my rapt attention. I read it slowly, letting the words of the Archangels act as a soothing balm. The book contains meditations meant to reconnect us to the infinite energy and love of Source. “What would life feel like if you were happy, safe, purposeful, and free?”4 Sign me up.

The Archangels show us ways to become aware of how we are controlled by negative beliefs that come in many different versions and strengths that shape our perceived self-worth. To Source we are all divine beings but in the Schoolroom Earth we tend to forget this. The Archangels show us the way to remembering and also provide us with tools to reconnect. 

They “speak” a lot of old stories we tell ourselves of suffering and unworthiness, of how the ego wants fast results. The meditations reconnect us with the wisdom of the divine child who lives within us, the divine child being our “true essence” who “vibrates at the frequency of undiluted love…”5

“When fear seduces you, say, no thank you, fear. I would rather put my energy into receiving abundance!”6

The 12 Archangels lovingly offer ways for us to conquer doubt, loosen the fear of lack of money, and remove blocks to financial abundance. It’s important, however, to follow their prompts, to do the exercises, and take time for the meditations. Why are we accepting less than what Source is offering to us? How do we lose negative familial patterns around money? 

As one who began reading this book at a time of self-questioning, I felt the wrap of angelic love around me as I read.

“Your Helpers in Heaven encourage you to practice letting go of questioning whether your train has been on the tracks or off the tracks for any part of life. Even when your train is derailed or parks itself for longer than you may like at the train depot, Soul is evolving through you.”7

The Archangels ask us to look at how we are earning our money and how we define wealth. Are we happy with the way we earn money? Are we using our unique talents (and yes, we all have unique talents) to bring forth our creativity in ways that support our growth and that of those around us? Are we living our purpose?

They work to help us with healing balance, to help us realize and then bring forth our unique purpose of being in the Schoolroom Earth. I loved that the book imparted ways for us to receive our wealth, create new financial realities, move from suffering, and transform. There are healing experiences imparted through meditations to help us rest, rejuvenate, and receive. 

I highly recommend Angel Abundance. Womack did an amazing job of imparting to us the love and wisdom of the 12 Archangels. The words were soothing but they also captured my rapt attention. I felt the loving support behind each and every word that I read. I truly believed that my highest good was at the forefront of what the Archangels were imparting. Who could ask for more? Ask – and receive. Amazing.

The Hermetic Marriage of Art and Alchemy, by Marlene Seven Bremner

The Hermetic Marriage of Art and Alchemy: Imagination, Creativity, and the Great Work, by Marlene Seven Bremner
Inner Traditions, 1644112906, 376 pages, June 2023

Last summer, as I was browsing a used book store in Rhode Island, I came across the book Surrealism and the Occult by Nadia Choucha. Instantly, I knew this book was right up my alley, and I spent the  next month reading about the influence of magical ideas in the work of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Lenora Carrington, Austin Osman Spare, and more. This was my introduction into how symbolism in western occultism, especially alchemy, became visual metaphors for surrealists to explore the unconscious realm.

I began to wonder how I might draw upon alchemy to further my own creative process, but life happened, and my desire to explore this was put on the back burner. Then with quite cyclic timing, The Hermetic Marriage of Art and Alchemy: Imagination, Creativity, and the Great Work by Marlene Seven Bremner was released a year later this June – once again my summer musings have been guided towards the alchemical process of creativity!

And let me tell you, this book is hefty. Not just in a physical sense with its hardcover, but also in details, imagery, and energetic presence. It is very clear that Bremner has a deep reverence for the alchemical process, as well as personal experience of using creative outlets alchemically. It’s worth reading her artist statement before diving into this book to better understand her influences and motivations for writing this book. You may also want to reference her previously published book Hermetic Philosophy and Creative Alchemy: The Emerald Tablet, the Corpus Hermeticum, and the Journey through the Seven Spheres too for more insight into the Hermetic tradition, though it’s definitely not needed to delve into this book.

Through paying homages to the imagination, Bremner inspires readers to undertake their own magnum opus. She teaches the readers how to bridge the conscious and unconscious in order to generate unity through the creative process and achieve greater self-knowledge.

“All things have their origins in the imagination, through which we commune with the greater story of the cosmos.”1

In “Part I: Alchemy and Imagination”, Bremner provides the rich art history of Romanticism, emergence of symbolism in art, Dada, and Surrealism. She paints a vivid picture for readers, filled with background information on artists and images of their work, to showcase the way “Surrealism and its aim of realizing the union of dream and reality has its roots in the Romantic movement.”2

For each movement, Bremner highlights the major themes (ie. Romanticism – exploration of nature, intensity of emotions; Symbolism – focus on dark dreams, interest in unseen realms, sense of transcendence; Dada – destruction as a form of creation, irrationality, upending convention, sense of nihilism; Surrealism – automatism, liberation of imagination, unity of inner/outer world), and provides a cohesive understanding of how each built upon the next, similar in many ways to the alchemical process an individual undergoes during the process of creation.

This section is pages and pages of art history that studies the magical imagination in play through time, as Bremner references a plethora of artists’ work, along with what was going on historically at each moment in time that inspired and shaped the movements. I found myself often pausing in my reading to look up a poem mentioned or Google the image of a painting, though there are quite a few images within the text too for reference.

From here, “Part II: The Magnum Opus” moves into Bremner teaching the method of creative alchemy, which she explains “goes beyond the creation of fantastic forms and expressions to an intimate relationship between consciousness and matter, presupposing inner transmutation through the creative process, and in turn, a spiritization of art that multiplies in the external world.”3 If you’re on board with breaking down the artistic ego, which Bremner likens to a death, to move through the creative process and achieve transcendent unity, this is where the fun begins! 

“As a result, the art that we create, in harmony with our subjective experience, is both surreal and ideal, depending on where we find ourselves in our personal creative evolution.”4

Bremner guides readers through the four stages of the magnum opus: nigredo, albedo, citrinitas, and rubedo. Along the way, she also goes into great depth about the zodiac sign correspondences to the alchemical process, for instance calcination is associated with Aries, to tease out the multiple layers of creativity in play at each stage. For reference, there are charts and tables that help the reader to visually see the associations. 

What stands out the most about Bremner’s writing, compared to other books on alchemy that I’ve read in the past, is the imagery and descriptiveness of her writing that brings each alchemical stage to life. Her reference to different works, both literary and artistic, and her interpretation of the work helps the reader to see the artist’s intentions, and as a result better understand their own inner imagery waiting to be crafted in the physical realm. 

As an example, in the chapter “Nigredo: Putrefaction and the Generation of Ideas, Bremner discusses works such as The Loss of Faith by Jan Toorop, Melencolia I by Albrecht Durer, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya. All the while, she connects these paintings to astrological correspondences and conveys the Hermetic significance of this part of the journey.

There is so much riveting information woven together that I must say that I am hardly scratching the surface of the depths of Bremner’s writing in this description. In all honesty, this has been my favorite book on alchemy that I’ve read yet. Though I will admit it’s a hardy read; I’ve been making my way through it for a few weeks, savoring each section as I go.

“While we can look to the alchemical processes and ordering of the stages as guides, we must realize the individual, personal,and unique nature of our own artistic approach, allowing ourselves to be flexible, creative, innovative, and adaptable. Further, we must remember that at the core of the work and of utmost importance is the transmutation of the egoic self into the transpersonal Self.”5

For those looking to explore more layers of their creative processes, undertaking the arduous process of transforming lead into gold, The Hermetic Marriage of Art and Alchemy is a wonderful resource. This book is rich with insights about how consciousness and matter can merge to usher in new levels of self-awareness and personal insights, along with uniting readers with spiritual energies to reach their highest potential. By following the path that’s been carved by artists of centuries past, Bremner assists readers in undertaking their own creative alchemy.

Heal the Witch Wound, by Celeste Larsen

Heal The Witch Wound: Reclaim Your Magic and Step Into Your Power, by Celeste Larsen
Weiser Books, 1578637988, 208 pages, April 2023

Personal safety is something that is of great concern in today’s society. From hate groups attacking those trying to live their lives to the “everyday” violence that is commonplace, we all just want to be safe to be who we are. While this book, Heal The Witch Wound: Reclaim Your Magic and Step Into Your Power, focuses on feeling safe with respect to magical practices, Celeste Larsen has also managed to weave in a broader spectrum of what personal safety means individually as well as on a greater scale.

The introduction begins with a simple explanation of the “witch wound”, and Larsen describes it as “a collective, intergenerational, psychic wound that is rooted in the Burning Times – an era of widespread persecution and violence against suspected witches.”1

Anyone with this wound will usually hide their spiritual beliefs and practices out of fear of being judged or shamed or rejected. Without taking away from the basis of this book, I find many parallels between this and the situation of other groups in current society. To be clear, this is a personal observation that I am making and not meant to take away from this book in any way.

Larsen has drawn on her experience as a pagan witch, writer, and ritualist to produce a work that is more of a how-to rather than a reference book. To me, this is excellent news as I need a guide and not just theory in this realm. The book is comprised of three parts that each deal with a specific aspect of the healing journey. The first section deals with the root of the wound and goes into detail around the creation of it as well as its legacy. Larsen’s writing is simple, straightforward and honest, and manages to put the reader at ease while imparting some tough information around the wound and its causes.

The second part of this spectacular book focuses on the symptoms of the witch wound, something I hadn’t even considered. In fact, as I read this section, I was struck by the number of things mentioned that I completely identified with. It didn’t even occur to me that it might be a result of the witch wound I carry.

I had a very visceral reaction to one part specifically where Larsen writes:

“Of all the ways the witch wound can show up, fear of being authentically heard and seen is undoubtedly the most pervasive. How often do you stifle your own voice out of fear of being too outspoken, too opinionated, too sensitive, too demanding, too honest, too much?”2

This specific part hit me really hard. I’ve been told my whole life to be quiet, sit down, keep my hands to myself, don’t talk so loud, “why are you laughing so loudly?”, and all that. I have never felt comfortable around people simply because I’m afraid that I will be too much of something and then I’ll be made to feel less-than as a result.

Reading this book made me realize that this wound I carry that presents in this way is something of a gift. Stay with me here. Knowing that I am holding back my awesomeness for the sake of other people’s comfort means that I am much more awesome than I think I am. And I think I’m pretty awesome.

Seriously though, reading about how this wound affects daily life if nothing is done to heal it opened my eyes to how important self-care is. Part three of the book delves deeply into this with a whole host of various ways to heal certain aspects of the wound. My personal favorite deals with moving into personal magic and power.

Here, Larsen talks about the ways in which practitioners can talk about individual magic and specific practices in a way that honors them while also maintaining a certain level of privacy. There is an acknowledgement that no two practitioners will refer to themselves in the same way, nor does their individual practices align. In this way, Larsen states that personal comfort comes before any sort of declaration that might be made concerning someone’s personal craft.

Larsen writes honestly with an authentic voice and the situations presented in the book by way of confirming the various suggestions presented feel like they have been actually lived by the author. I felt many echoes as I read and aligned with many of the situations that Larsen describes throughout the book by way of sharing her personal story. 

Heal the Witch Wound is an excellent book for those who feel they cannot ‘come out’ as a practitioner of magic and who feel they need to stifle themselves in order to fit it. You don’t have to dim your own light in order for other people to shine, and you don’t have to stay small for other people’s comfort. This isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be consideration for others: depending on what your situation is you might feel it’s in your best interest to be silent about what you do. This book is meant to reframe the way in which we look at how we express ourselves in the world we live in and helps us see where we can make positive changes to bring us into more alignment.

A Walk Through the Forest of Souls, by Rachel Pollack

A Walk Through the Forest of Souls: A Tarot Journey to Spiritual Awakening, by Rachel Pollack
Weiser Books, 1578637708, 288 pages, May 2023

Award-winning science fiction author, comic book writer, tarot expert, and trans activist Rachel Grace Pollack passed away on April 7th, 2023, at the age of 77. Born Richard A. Pollack on August 17th, 1945, in Brooklyn, New York, Rachel came out as a transgender woman in 1971, at the age of 26. During this time, Pollack discovered tarot and broke into publishing with a science fiction short story titled “Pandora’s Bust,” which appeared in New Worlds Quarterly.1

Pollack had an impressive literary career, publishing four short story collections and seven novels, three of which received awards. Unquenchable Fire won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1989, Temporary Agency (1994) won the Nebula Award, and Godmother Night (1996) won the World Fantasy Award. Pollack also blazed a trail through the DC Universe by creating Coagula, aka Kate Godwin, the first transgender superhero, while writing issues 64-87 of the rebooted DC Comics series Doom Patrol (1993-1995). However, it was the classic tarot tome Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom (1980) that was the most influential work in Pollack’s oeuvre, and established Pollack as a leading authority on tarot.2

A Walk through the Forest of Souls: A Tarot Journey of Spiritual Awakening is a revised version of the out of print book titled The Forest of Souls: A Walk through the Tarot, first published in 2002. In this updated work, Pollack’s approach to reading the cards is innovative, intuitive, and imaginative. Rather than a cookbook of interpretive meanings, A Walk Through the Forest of Souls is a guide to using the tarot as a spiritual tool to expand consciousness and open one’s mind to new possibilities. 

“This book contains some outrageous ideas and questions,” Pollack says. “We will play with the idea that the Tarot images existed before the creation of the universe, that God somehow consulted the cards to make the world, and even that we can use the cards to find the very reading that God received.”3

Pollack is Jewish, but mischievously identifies as a heretic. The idea of God making a card game of creation is not meant to be taken as literal truth, but to be regarded as serious play. “God in these pages becomes a way to express our universal desire to know and comprehend the sacred,” says Pollack.4

Unlike an ordinary book, “the pages of the Tarot are not bound in any real order.”5 Through the act of shuffling, a new deck is created, and we are given the opportunity to turn over a new leaf, so to speak.

“In this book readings do not reveal a fixed future,” Pollack says. “They become a means to gain new perspectives and explore possibilities outside our normal ways of thought.”6

Pollack’s science fiction background shines through this book’s non-linear approach to the concept of time. “The future can ‘cause’ the past as much as the past causes the future,” Pollack says. “In fact, neither one causes the other, they exist in a relationship that goes in many directions at once. Imagine a web with a vast number of points, all connected to each other, with no single point as the origin or primary cause of the others. Our consciousness places us in one point, convincing us that a single line from the past has caused our current situation to come into being. But this may be an illusion.”7

Tarot reveals possibilities, not an immutable fate, and Pollack even goes so far as to say that since “divination creates new possibilities, it liberates the Creator from a universe where everything is planned and known ahead of time.”8

I recently rewatched the original Star Trek movies, and Pollack’s concept of nonlinear time being an elastic web in which the future can influence the past brings to mind a particular scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). In this film, Admiral Kirk and his crew time travel to late 20th century San Francisco on a mission to bring two humpback whales back to the future in order to repopulate a 23rd century Earth where they are extinct.

Chief engineer Montgomery Scott and Dr. “Bones” McCoy visit a Plexiglas factory seeking construction materials for a whale tank. In exchange for the glass, Scotty gives the proprietor Dr. Nichols the formula for transparent aluminum, a futuristic construction material that is lighter and stronger than the Plexiglas he is currently manufacturing.

“You uh, realize of course if we give him the formula, we’re altering the future,” Bones says. “Why, how do we know he didn’t invent the thing?” says Scotty. His response implies that their need for Plexiglas is part of a predestination paradox, or causal loop, in which the invention of transparent aluminum depends on the necessity of their time travel in the first place.9

I’m a fan of non-linear thinking, and it’s mind-blowing to apply the predestination paradox to tarot reading. Perhaps the guidance we receive from the cards comes from our future selves, who, like Scotty, plant ideas in our minds that may not otherwise have come to us10

Pollack suggests using the cards for “Wisdom readings,”11 which transcend personal concerns by seeking deeper meaning with universal questions like “What is the soul?”12 According to Pollack, the tarot is an instrument we can use to communicate directly with Sophia, the divine personification of wisdom, and we limit its vast potential when we only focus on personal questions.13

The title of this book, A Walk through the Forest of Souls, was inspired by Pollack’s first Wisdom readings, using the Shining Tribe Tarot, a deck created by Pollack. When Pollack asked, “What is the soul?” the Ace of Birds (Ace of Swords) appeared, depicting an owl, the animal familiar of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.14

Pollack then asked the cards, “What is Tarot?”15 The answer was the Six of Trees (Six of Wands), which depicts trees with owl eyes. “If the soul is an owl,” Pollack says, “then these woods become a forest of souls, and the Tarot, as the title of this book says, is ‘a walk through the forest of souls.’”16

In my own readings, I have found that lately, I tend to ask fewer personal questions and more cosmic ones, such as, “What will be the influence of the Full Moon in Cancer?” or some other upcoming astrological transit. Inspired by Pollack’s “Wisdom reading” method, I decided to ask questions about the symbolic language of mythology.

The first question that entered my mind was: “Why does the goddess Demeter carry two torches when searching for her daughter Persephone, when one would provide sufficient light and a free hand?” I knew that the twin torches symbolized some sort of celestial light, perhaps the horns of the night-wandering moon, but I wondered specifically why there were two of them. The answer I received surprised me, yet made so much sense. 

I drew three cards from the Crow Tarot: The Star, The Empress, and the Four of Wands. Venus, as the Morning and Evening Star, immediately came to mind. In her dual forms as herald of dawn and dusk, she represents two lights, or two heavenly torches. The astrological association for The Empress is the planet Venus, and the Four of Wands is associated with Venus in Aries.

Reading the cards like a sentence, I was moved by the heartwarming message I received: She is the Mother Star (Empress + Star), guiding her children back home (the Four of Wands represents the home and is a card of celebration, and the astrological association of Venus in Aries reminds me of Demeter and Persephone’s springtime reunion).

In retrospect, I used to be confused by The Empress being associated with both Venus, the goddess of love, and Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. I didn’t think of Demeter as being Venusian, since she is so often depicted as wandering in grief, searching for her lost daughter. After contemplating these cards, I now link Venus, the Heavenly Mother, and Demeter, the Earthly Mother, in the following way: When we are born, we descend into matter, like Inanna, the Sumerian Venus, descending into the Underworld.

When we get lost in the trappings of materialism, we can lose touch with our divine mother, and without her guidance, we may feel as though we are wandering alone in the dark. But she also descends with us, as chthonic Demeter, an earthly manifestation of Venusian energy. When we realize that the Goddess is simultaneously here with us on earth, as well as in heaven, we are reunited with her, just as Venus, the Morning Star, (or in the case of Demeter, a star of mourning) is reborn and emerges from the Underworld, and Persephone is reunited with Demeter. When we see and feel the presence of the Earth Mother made manifest in the physical realm, we are blessed by her with fertility, wealth, and abundance. When we are depressed and feel separated from her, the world in turn feels cold and barren. 

The leaves of tarot whisper to us all in unique ways, and the possibilities for interpretation are limitless. Pollack’s work encourages us to tap into our intuitive creativity and experience the tarot like we never have before. Experimenting with Wisdom readings has shifted my perspective on how to use tarot, and I plan on exploring Pollack’s techniques further in my personal practice.

Beginners may get lost trying to follow Pollack’s twists and turns through the Forest of Souls, but this thought-provoking guide will be a breath of fresh air for intermediate to advanced tarot enthusiasts, opening them up to expansive new ideas regarding what tarot is and how to use it. This final work will no doubt be a classic in Pollack’s enduring tarot legacy.

Talk to Your Angels, by Jayne Wallace and Liz Dean

Talk to Your Angels: 44 Ways to Connect with the Angels’ Love and Healing, by Jayne Wallace and Liz Dean, illustrated by Sarah Perkins
CICO Books, 9781800652293, 144 pages, May 2023

Talk to Your Angels: 44 Ways to Connect with the Angels’ Love and Healing by Jayne Wallace and Liz Dean is a jewel of a compendium on connecting with angels. It offers advice for both the novice and experienced angel-whisperer. Much like settling into the arms of a comfy chair and wrapping oneself in a blanket, the book begins with the soothing reminder that angels are always with us, offering unconditional love and infinite support. Because angels respect our autonomy or free will, they wait to be called into our lives.

In Talk to Your Angels, Wallace and Dean offer ways in which the angels show signs and nudges of their existence as well as ways for us to be proactive in connecting with the angels. Wallace, an author and professional clairvoyant, and Dean, an author of over 20 books and tarot decks, impart their knowledge in an understandable, approachable manner. Sarah Perkins’ illustrations accompany each tip and fill the book with beautiful, soothing, images.

The book offers 44 ways to connect with the angels because, as Wallace and Dean explain, 44 is the number of the angels1. These tips are all encompassing, including writing a personal letter to the angels, working with color, aromas, and stones, to cleansing one’s space in alignment with the House Angel. As the authors remind us, communicating with angels engages all of our senses. We might sense them through spoken or sung words, a scent, a tingling in our bodies when our intuition is heightened, a knowing in the pit of our stomach, or the attraction to a color.

The authors recommend starting with grounding, protection, and opening rituals as one begins the communication and offers rituals to this effect. They also offer a closing ritual to protect one from being exposed to the energy of others. To begin talking with the angels, they recommend selecting a page of the book that you are drawn to, asking the angels to stop you when you have reached the tip that you are most in need of at that particular time. The one I chose, or to be more accurate, the one that chose me today was “Discovering Your Angelic Chakra”. This offers a way to activate the angelic chakra on one’s forehead to accelerate the angelic connection. They also suggest crystals that can be used to enhance the effect, namely, amethyst and clear quartz.

While there are a myriad of angels with whom one can connect, we all have one guardian angel who we are born with, who is dedicated to us and us alone. There are three ways offered that one can “meet” one’s guardian angel through meditation and ritual. The meditation has no time limit other than what feels right for you – a minute or an hour. The meditations help you declutter your thoughts and energies to allow you to receive the communication. The authors remind us that our guardian angels are not offended if we choose to work with other angels as well. In fact, Archangels Barachiel and Metatron can be called on to help us connect with our own guardian angel2.

We are offered ways to talk with the angels through seeing repeated numbers, using angel cards, scrying in a tea cup or bowl, cloud watching, and through the use of crystals. You can communicate with the angels through scent by creating angel mists and the use of candles. There’s even a section on meeting with angels in the garden, in the bath (!), and through the use of Tarot cards. Really, there are unlimited ways to speak with the angels and the book offers ways to do so that resonate with you.

Need help? The angels are always here for us. They can help us find parking spaces, find “happy” money by making a “money angel” and keeping it in your wallet, and helping with abundance. Of course, the book offers ways to enhance these connections. There’s an angel to call on for everything from finding lost objects to helping us find love and healing.

The book also contains an Angel Directory that lists 44 archangels and angels who assist in different areas of our lives. Some of these angels might be familiar, such as Archangel Gabriel or Archangel Michael, while some might be new to you, such as Eth, the angel of time who helps things run on schedule or Sachluph, the angel of plants.

Wallace and Dean also offer a directory of angels associated with certain days of the week (Sachiel for Thursday), for each month (Cambiel for January), and for each sun sign (Haniel for Capricorn), if you want to speak with specific angels. There are also angel prayers and channeled angel messages for inspiration that you can read daily or, as the authors suggest, write onto cards and pull one randomly. The inspiring writing includes messages such as “Knowing angels means I’m never alone”3 and “Angels hear me when I talk to them”4.

I found that the offerings in Talk to Your Angels are thoughtful and provocative but also lighthearted because I believe that the angels are here to bring joy, comfort, guidance, and a bit of playfulness. I highly recommend the book and suggest that you live with it, keep it close at hand, and refer to it often. The angels are here for us and the book offers pathways to these loving angels.

Shamanic Dreaming, by Carol Day

Shamanic Dreaming: Connecting with Your Inner Visionary, by Carol Day
Findhorn Press, 1644117037, 192 pages, February 2023

Discovering Carol Day has been an experience. She is a remarkable woman, who lends herself to many walks of life. As an author, counsellor, nature educator, and constellation therapist, Carol is used to “working with imaginary realms. Holding space within nature, and multi-realm environments”1

I enjoyed the circular, cyclical elements within Shamanic Dreaming: Connecting with Your Inner Visionary. All of life is cyclical–all of the universe in fact. This concept is something that speaks to me and something I often ponder about, as we see several different cycles regularly. The changing seasons, menstrual cycles, and the circle of life. Planetary spheres. They’re all connected in similar patterns. 

Also, the actor within me thoroughly enjoyed that the book is cleverly laid out in “Acts”, much like life itself. You can split your own play into as many acts as you like, but the point is that we’re all only on this earth for a snippet of time and Carol wants us to deepen our connection to the “calling of the land”2 to make your time here a fulfilling experience.

In Act One you are invited to ask yourself, “Why am I here?” and “What is going on?”.

Day has developed a practice, which she shares with you in the book, to aid people in being open to their visions. She talks about knowing yourself, knowing the visions that you see, and trusting in this process.

The book allows you a hands-on approach and asks you to attune yourself to everything all around you. There are tasks for you to complete throughout, all of which can bring a deeper understanding of your mindset and learning to be present.

I recommend quickly browsing the book before you begin, as some tasks require items you might not just have lain around, such as a shamanic drum. If you’ve already got one, great. But just check beforehand, because getting all ready for one of the tasks only to find you’re missing the key ingredient can be a huge disappointment. 

Day explains to us how we can connect with the vibration of the universe and how this can be beneficial for seeking out your “knowing”. This isn’t a book just to read, it is for you to make a connection, it’s a companion for a specific time in your life. To tune in and be peaceful. To lean into where you need to be in life and in the universe. 

Act Two allows you to travel through the past, present, and future. Kind of like a modern-day Christmas Carol for those who want to reconnect with the universe. No need for any Scrooges, just an openness to all things.

You’ll be guided throughout to connect with the nature of the universe, to find your own spirit guides, to be creative, and learn how to be quiet and be still. How can you be enlightened? What do you find when you open your mind? You shall set intentions across several realms. And learn how to respond to callings, how to interpret the messages, and what to do with those that you receive.

This book literally has everything, from the vibrational settings that we receive when partaking in Shamanic Drumming to the connections we can make with the Fav

We eventually lead into the practice and process of dreaming and how to call the ancestors into your dreams. All the while keeping yourself grounded and safe. 

Life’s grand plan for us all, for you individually, is waiting within these pages, ready to be unleashed and your first step on this path is right here in Day’s Shamanic Dreaming.

The very lovely illustrations that accompany the text are hand drawn and have a slight Quentin Blake style to them. They’re a beautiful accompaniment to this very real, open, and organic guiding system that Day has kindly shared with us. 

If you’re trying to find your place in the universe and you know there’s something else waiting, but it’s just out of reach, maybe Shamanic Dreaming has your answer, waiting patiently just on the horizon.

Horns of the Goddess, by Dolores Cannon

Horns of the Goddess, by Dolores Cannon
Ozark Mountain Publishing, 1956945210, 400 pages, March 2023

“At the beginning of time everybody was in tune with the mother Earth, for the souls had just begun their journey.  And they were but newly separated from her, and so they remembered how to be in harmony with her.   And they knew how to be in harmony with nature. And, so they observed the things they knew they needed to be observed in order to stay that way.1

Horns of the Goddess by Dolores Cannon is an interesting exploration of the concept of past lives, the use of past life regression hypnotherapy to gain access to the information of the past lives of clients, and the impact that information may carry within the greater scientific and spiritual communities of the present. The quote above was taken from a chapter taken from the transcription of a session of one of the three individuals who shared past lives during the time of the Druids and are the theme of focus for the title.

Cannon was a regressive hypnotherapist and psychic researcher who recorded the sessions of multiple clients and became one of the collectors of “lost” knowledge, much of which was verified by the findings of archeologists. This is an important factor of consideration as the reader moves through this title and recognizes the credibility of both technique and content Cannon brings to material that could be considered just another example of new age fluff. 

The content was compiled by her daughter, Nancy Vernon, and much of the information contained within was withheld in being made part of Dolores’ public research offerings because of the sensitive nature of the information shared by her subjects. Timing in the release of this information and its consideration as potential truths was very important to Cannon. Given the timing of Cannon’s passing while writing this book provided an opportunity for some of the more controversial information to be included.   

Horns of the Goddess is formatted into three sections with chapters of content within. Each chapter is structured as a question (from Cannon) with answer (from the individual’s past life self/ves) transcribed from the recording made during hypnosis. Dolores’ impressions and notes are interspersed throughout, giving additional insight and background to what the reader is taking in. 

The “Introduction: The Time Traveler” provides the reader with Cannon’s path that led her to the writings and research she committed herself to after her children were grown. She describes the refinements and adjustments she crafted to the techniques of hypnotherapy that allowed for a deeper level of communication between the client and past life memories and now are the choice of practice for past life regressionists. 

“Section 1: Life as a Druidess” begins the journey through timelines of Druidry and events leading up to the Inquisition. In “Chapter 1: The Druidress (Karen)” the reader is introduced to one of her subjects who offers insights throughout a good portion of the book through multiple past lives experienced.  She speaks of one of her subjects, Karen:

“During 1982 and 1983 I worked with Karen on a regular basis. I discovered the true meaning of time travel during my sessions with her. We eventually explored thirty different lifetimes, and the detailed information that poured out of her was phenomenal. She was able to so totally become the other personality that she supplied historical information as well as cultural and theological.2

“Section 2: Brenda’s Story as Astelle” is filled with some of the more controversial material and brings to light from the subject’s experiences the horrors of the Inquisition and the lengths taken by the church to tamp down the nature-based practices….

“In the beginning when she was describing the horrors of the Inquisition and the callousness of the Church, I told her in the session…… “They will hang me from the highest tree if I ….tell about the horrible things the church did in those days. They will never stand for hearing such things about their church fathers”…. There is too much explosive material contained within this story. It is probably the truth about the way the church really behaved, but I feel I must wait a while before I dare to write it.”3

The chapters contained within this section are the meat of the book and a wealth of information about how the “old ways”’ of nature based religious practices would have been carried out. Insights into the use of Pentagrams, signs, omens, communication with animals, the lore and legends of the magic of the Druids, and the inhabitants of greater earth such as the Fae, gnomes, giants, etc… are offered through the memories of Brenda/Astelle in her sessions with Dolores. Woven throughout these chapters are the specifics of how the church made use of these beliefs and the ultimate return of the Inquisition period. 

Rounding out the density of information in Section 2,  Dolores returns to her long time subject Karen and shares the impressions received as Karen travels through the subsequent time periods of her Druidic days and returns to past lives as a minstrel, a physician, a child who sees faeries and a Greek priestess. “Section 3: More Lives with Karen” provides the reader with ample opportunity to give consideration to the possibility of multiple lifetimes that are experienced by a singular consciousness/soul.   

In conclusion, I found Horns of the Goddess to be a fascinating and thought provoking read.  Regardless of your perspective on the veracity of past lives, reincarnation and the storehouse of the subconscious in maintaining information that there is no reasonable explanation for the individual to know, the content of this title is engaging and completely immersive in its reading. 

“Dolores opened our eyes to wondrous and mysterious worlds. She dared to go into the forbidden realms of what the mind contained. If it had not been for her insatiable appetite to want to know more and to ask the many, many questions we might never have known the lost knowledge she found with her sessions.”4

Phoenixes & Angels, by Carmen Turner-Schott

Phoenixes & Angels: Mastering the Eighth & Twelfth Astrological Houses, by Carmen Turner-Schott, LISW, MSW
O-books, 1803410809, 290 pages, July 2023

Whether one is interested in astrology for mystical or mundane purposes, it’s hard to deny there’s something about the eighth and twelfth houses that stirs up the soul. These aren’t areas in our charts we can tread lightly. We’re either being plummeted into depths or transcended beyond the ordinary, and this can leave one feeling a bit traumatized or confused at times. In Phoenixes & Angels: Mastering the Eighth & Twelfth Astrological Houses, Carmen Turner-Schott draws upon her own experience of working in these special realms to teach readers how to navigate the waters for themselves.

Turner-Schott has been studying astrology for over 30 years with a specific research interest in the eighth and twelfth house. She holds a Master of Social Work degree and is both a licensed independent and clinical social worker. She courageously holds space for those dealing with the energies of these houses in her daily life through astrological consultations of clients worldwide and her work with victims of trauma. Turner-Schott is quite the writer too, and she has previously published nine books, including A Practical Look at the Planets through the Houses, Astrology From a Christian Perspective, Moon Signs, Houses & Healing, and Sun, Houses & Healing.

While she’s also written books focusing on the eighth and twelfth house individually (The Mysteries of the Eighth Astrological House and The Mysteries of the Twelfth Astrological House), Phoenixes & Angels is a combination of research and information on the two houses. Turner-Schott’s wrote this book specifically for “eighth and twelfth house people”1, which she describes as those with planets in those houses or “someone who has an abundance of Scorpio and Pisces energy.”2 The information is also useful for those with a prominent Pluto or Neptune placement in their chart.

Eighth house people have been termed Phoenixes by Turner-Schott because of how they are continually transformed and reborn throughout their life. With each rebirth, they grow stronger and more resilient, though this is not without hardship and difficulties along the way. In “Part One: Mastering the Eighth House”, Turner-Schott delves into the key aspects characteristic of Phoenixes, such as their strength, power, childhood secrets, and need for privacy and intimacy, as well as naturally being drawn to the taboo realms of death and sexuality.

“Eighth house people are meant to rise like a Phoenix out of the ashes. They must let the past die to release past hurts and trauma. They are meant to let go, destined to become beacons of hope for those who are hopeless. . . . Born with extreme empathy for those who suffer, they know what it feels like.”3

Along the way, Turner-Schott offers guidance for eighth house people as they learn how to forgive and let go, deal with the unseen world through spiritual gifts and psychic senses, battle with tough emotions like depression and rage, and perform self-care as they heal and deal with trauma that arises.

“Part Two: Mastering the Twelfth House” focuses on those Turner-Schott calls Angels. The twelfth house has to do with a belief in a higher power and making sacrifices to bring in healing energy. She describes how Angels are called to walk a spiritual path in life, alleviating the pain and suffering through their innate compassion and kindness. 

“Angels who fell to earth to support and uplift the lives of others, they are destined to come out of the mist and be seen. Walking in two worlds, with one foot in the spiritual and the other in reality helps them to find peace.”4

Topics covered by Turner-Schott include 12th house Angel’s need for isolation and solitude, imaginative gifts and mystical inclinations, propensity for secrets and illusions, connection to foreign countries and large animals, behind the scenes work, karmic issues to work out with their fathers and mothers, romanticism and loneliness, connection to cosmic consciousness, and influence of their dreams.

At the end of both parts, ​​Turner-Schott also provides information about what each planet in the eighth/twelfth house means natally and when transiting the house. And then there are quotes of insight and wisdom provided by Phoenixes and Angels themselves. Gleaning advice directly from those with these placements really integrated all that Turner-Schott had written in this section and creates a sense of connection, reminding readers they are not alone in their eighth house struggles, strengths, and lessons.

All in all, Phoenixes & Angels is a really interesting take on the eighth and twelfth house. Turner-Schott’s combination of personal experience, insights, and feelings, along with her examples and testimonials of clients from direct research, deepens readers’ understanding of these spiritually transformational houses. This book is a wonderful resource for those with eighth or twelfth house energies in their chart looking to find out more, whether one is new to astrology or has been studying for some time, to gain guidance in their unique challenges and abilities and grow in self-awareness.

Ecosomatics, by Cheryl Pallant, Ph.D.

Ecosomatics: Embodiment Practices for a World in Search of Healing, by Cheryl Pallant, Ph.D.
Bear & Company, 1591434769, 224 pages, June 2023

A few weeks ago, I had an energetic anatomy healing with psychic healer Madison Lang. For over an hour, she scanned the energy of my physical body from miles away; Madison is located in Minnesota, while I’m in New Jersey. At times, she told me of symbolic images residing in certain parts of my body, such as a clock, representing influence from my maternal grandmother creating soreness in my arm. Other times, she focused her keen awareness on misaligned, extra, and stagnant energy in my body, clearing away blockages and rebalancing my physical body energetically.

The whole experience was phenomenal. And afterwards, I felt like a million bucks! Physical symptoms that had been lingering for months disappeared. My consciousness felt situated within my body again, rather than floating outside myself. My confidence improved, as I was more connected to myself from within rather than making judgements about myself from external standards or perceptions. Madison’s encouragement to release attachment to my pre-pregnancy body and attune myself to my current body– wider hips, a softer belly, and big nursing chest–help me to embrace where I am in life right now with gratitude.

It felt a bit synchronistic to begin reading Ecosomatics: Embodiment Practices for a World in Search of Healing, by Cheryl Pallant, Ph.D. shortly after my energetic anatomy healing, as though the Universe was encouraging me to continue to learn more about the connection between myself and my body. Dr. Pallant’s concept of ecosomatics, or “embodiment work for personal and planetary health”1, goes one step beyond the psychic healing experience I had and grounds it into the physical realm. It has been a wonderful resource on my journey of expanding my perception to be more attune to my body and cultivating my own somatic intelligence.

“For those who are attentive, my touching you provides information about you and the touch also provides you with information about me. The place of contact opens the gate to all sorts of information, especially for healers whose highly sensitive hands rest gently on the skin surface and in the subtle field of the body to detect heat, cool, tingles, pressure, and more. . . Every part of the body leads to a specific awareness, emotion, sensation, imagery, and/or memory, perceptible to those who notice.”2

In Ecosomatics, Pallant asserts that shifting consciousness through expanding one’s sensory perceptions and attuning to the natural rhythms of one’s body has the power to transform on both a personal and collective level. While modern social problems, inadequate healthcare systems, and ecological crisis are pushing humanity towards the brink of destruction, Pallant believes somatic awareness can be a source of healing that aids in the evolution of human consciousness.

As context for her point of view, Pallant goes right to the core of how bias and perception can influence belief systems. She acknowledges the safety of collective belief systems, but encourages readers to delve into discomfort and have the courage to expand their perception to be more inclusive of the intuitive and energetic aspects of ourselves not readily seen with our eyes. This integrative approach helps to release fears, anxieties, and limiting beliefs and opens a doorway for the evolution of consciousness through somatic intelligence.

Drawing upon her own career experience, which includes a Ph.D. in Somatic Writing, certification in Reiki and Healing Touch, and training in Process-Oriented Psychology, Authentic Movement, and yoga, Pallant provides first hand experience of her own journey of discovering the healing ability within herself. She also provides plenty of client anecdotes that aid readers in believing that this somatic shift in perception is achievable.

But her approach to this topic is not a subjective one; Ecosomatics is filled with explanations from fields such as psychology, sociology, quantum physics, and neurobiology. Pallant also expertly weaves together her personal experiences with insight from experts in other related modalities focused on integrating mind, body, and self, such as Healing Touch, 5Rhythms, and Body-Mind Centering, to give readers a wide-range of approaches to somatic healing.

“Common knowing privileges logic, reasoning, and head-centered knowing. Missing is a comprehensive sense of the body that includes intuition, embodiment, energetic, and spiritual awareness that is integrative rather than fractional. Missing is a place and appreciation for uncanny experiences and impressions that don’t readily fit into our belief system.”3

A key theme of Pallant focuses on is interconnection. My favorite chapter, “The Ecology of Self” discusses topics such as energetic resonance, how people’s energy and emotions can be projected onto others, the impact of both fear and love in our lives, and the concept of “we space”. She writes, “Nascent in our development are intrapersonal practices that contribute to coming to know what lives in our shared personal spaces.”4

I really enjoyed contemplating the idea of sharing energetic spaces and observing this energy exchange throughout the week in different places I went. At first, I noticed how much my energy felt scattered and seemed to change based on the vibe of where I was and the energy of those around me; I was losing connection to myself and trying to camouflage into the energy around me.

But by actually doing the “Try This” exercises Pallant offers throughout Ecosomatics, I began to ground back into my own body and become more aware of the somatic experience I was having instead of leaving/ignoring the sensations of my body. I’m still working on my embodiment, but through these exercises, I am coming to understand what Pallant means when she writes:

“By stepping embodied into the fullness of who we are, what takes place is a transformation and a coherence of personal well-being that extends to all sentient and insentient beings and marks us as responsibly partaking in the ecology of self and the planet. What takes place is alignment with the present moment, which reaches out infinitely.”5

The final chapter, “Embodiment Practices”, is one that I’ll definitely be returning to time and time again. Pallant provides different practices for the reader to do in order to cultivate their sense of embodiment. These range from transforming fear and worry into love to balancing masculine and feminine energy to aligning with one’s flow through creative expression.

The one practice I’ve done so far was intended to help develop my intuition, using what I’ve learned about embodiment to discern between fantasy and my intuition. As someone who is clairsentient, it is helpful to be able to feel embody when connecting to my intuition and learning where emotions reside within my body.

All in all, Ecosomatics is a wonderful resource for those interested in expanding their perceptions to be more inclusive of their physical experience. Pallant puts forth a compelling thesis for why embodiment is vital to the growth of our consciousness and does a great job teaching readers how it can be done. The healing potential is infinite. This read is sure to shift how readers perceive themselves in the world around them, awakening them to the experience of embodiment and as a result more acutely attuning to the surrounding energy.

The First Female Pharaoh, by Andrew Collins

The First Female Pharaoh: Sobekneferu, Goddess of the Seven Stars, by Andrew Collins
Bear & Company, 1591434459, 464 page, April 2023

Most people are familiar with the famous Egyptian queens Cleopatra, Nefertiti, and Hatshepsut, but few are aware that they were preceded by Sobekkara Sobekneferu, the first woman to break the glass ceiling and be crowned pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt. Sobekneferu (pronounced “sob-bek-nef-frew”) was the last ruler of the Twelfth Dynasty, which brought the Middle Kingdom to a close about 3,800 years ago. She may have been around 30 years old at the time of her accession to the throne, and she ruled for almost four years, between the approximate dates of 1798 to 1794 BCE. The circumstances surrounding her coronation and her untimely death are unknown.

I first learned of Sobekneferu by reading Egyptologist Kara Cooney’s work When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt (2018), and I was thrilled to review a book dedicated to this fascinating monarch. In The First Female Pharaoh: Sobekneferu, Goddess of the Seven Stars, author Andrew Collins (Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, 2014) does rigorous archaeological detective work, analyzing a variety of statues and beads honoring Sobekneferu, in an effort to humanize her and unravel the mystery of her life and death. This book also has a historical whodunit vibe, as Collins explores possible political intrigues that may have led to her rise and fall. It’s amazing how much information can be gleaned about her from so few inscriptions and artifacts, and Collins walks the reader through each exhibit, clarifying its context.

Collins begins his search for the enigmatic Sobekneferu in London’s British Museum, where he inspects a cylinder seal bearing her royal titles. He presents clear diagrams of the inscriptions on the seal, accompanied by translations of the hieroglyphs so the reader can examine the artifact along with him and imagine the feeling of this ancient stone bead rolling between their fingers. We learn from the seal that her throne name, Sobek ka Ra, means “Sobek is the soul [ka] of Ra,”1 and her personal name, Sobek neferu, means “Beauties of Sobek of Shedet”2

The ancient city of Shedet (known to the Greeks as Crocodilopolis), located in the lush oasis of the Fayum, was the cult center of the crocodile god Sobek, to whom Sobekneferu was devoted. Sobek was a manifestation of the solar deities Ra and Horus, and as Sobek-Ra he represented the sun’s nocturnal journey through the Fayum’s great lake, Lake Moeris, before being reborn at dawn every morning.  He was also connected with the divine right of kings to rule and the annual flooding of the Nile. Before Sobekneferu, the Twelfth Dynasty pharaohs, who ruled Egypt from the city of Itj-tawy in the Fayum, adopted the name of Amun or his consort Wosret. Sobekneferu’s identification with the fierce male crocodile god and her alliance with his local priesthood may have politically supported her claim to the throne.

Another seal in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo gives the grammatically masculinized forms of her names, suggesting that the gender of her royal epithets may have sometimes been changed to legitimize her rule. A headless quartzite bust of Sobekneferu in the Louvre Museum in Paris may have been smashed in an attempt to erase her from history. What remains of the decapitated statue depicts the striped lappets of the nemes-headdress worn by male rulers cascading over her shoulders, and although she is wearing the shoulder straps of a woman’s dress, she appears to have flattened breasts.3 Like the Eighteenth Dynasty Queen Hatshepsut, it appears that Sobekneferu masculinized herself to be accepted as pharaoh, and perhaps Hatshepsut was inspired by her predecessor’s images. Other statues Collins analyzes have also been defaced. He explains that iconoclasts broke noses off of statues in the belief that without them the soul of the deceased wouldn’t be able to breathe in the afterlife.

Sobekneferu’s Two Ladies appellation, Sat sekhem nebet tawy, meaning “Daughter of Power, Mistress of the Two Lands,” is a reminder that she inherited the throne from her father, the mighty king Amenemhat III.4 Sobekneferu further legitimized her reign through her divine patriarch by honoring his memory, completing his pyramid complex at Hawara, known as the Labyrinth. 5 She deified him there and made herself the high priestess of his temple cult, a suave political move that emphasized her reign being the will of the gods. 6

Her Horus name, Meryt-Ra, meaning “Beloved of Ra,” was feminized, and was a title often given to priestesses, indicating that she may have served as one before rising to power.7 Collins believes she may have served the goddess Hathor. 8 During the Twelfth Dynasty, it was trendy for queens and kings to be depicted as sphinxes. In doing so, the monarch embodied the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, the vindictive aspect of Hathor, whose name means “The Powerful One.”9

While Sobekneferu’s tomb has never been discovered, there is evidence that cult veneration of her continued long after she passed away. Graffiti left by visitors in the funerary chapel connected to the Theban tomb of a priestess of Hathor named Senat indicates that her burial site doubled as a place of veneration for Sobekneferu.10 Perhaps pilgrims were drawn to this location because it was the only Middle Kingdom tomb built for a woman.11

Sobekneferu’s older sister, Neferuptah, was heir to the throne, but she died young, and was buried in a small pyramid in her father’s temple complex. 12 Neferuptah was the first Egyptian woman in history to have her name inscribed within a royal cartouche, suggesting that her father may have been preparing her to rule after his death.13 Collins brings up the possibility that Neferuptah was murdered.14 Her cause of death is a mystery because her body unfortunately disintegrated due to groundwater leaking into her tomb.15

After Amenemhat III passed away, presumably from old age, Sobekneferu may have wed her brother Amenemhat IV upon his ascension to the throne and co-ruled with him, a position that had been intended for Neferuptah.16 Nine years later, Amenemhat IV died without a male heir to take his place, perhaps due to sterility resulting from generations of inbreeding.17 

In ancient Egypt, a woman could take the throne as regent, temporarily ruling on behalf of an heir who was perhaps too young to rule himself.18 Hatshepsut, for example, established herself as regent but did not relinquish the throne when the male heir, her co-king and nephew, came of age. After the death of her brother-husband Thutmose II, Queen Hatshepsut served as regent for her two-year-old nephew, Thutmose III 19. Instead of functioning as a placeholder who would step down when he came of age, by the seventh year of her regency (or perhaps sooner), she was officially coronated as king, assuming full pharaonic power through the religious authority of the oracle of Amun, which had declared her the rightful ruler. 20

In the case of Sobekneferu, when her brother died, there was no heir, and she took the throne without the pretense of regency, which is quite amazing. Collins suggests there may have been a nationalist plot to usurp Amenemhat IV and place Sobekneferu on the throne.21 Her brother’s “progressive ideologies” and open border policies would have been perceived as a threat to Egyptian nationalists, who were concerned about the influx of western Asiatic foreigners settling in northern Egypt and occupying positions of power, which no doubt paved the way for the Hyksos invasion a few generations later. 22 He was also allied with the priesthood of Atum in Heliopolis rather than the local cult of Sobek. 23

A controversial theory which Collins presents for the first time in this book is that the legend of Queen Nitocris, recorded in book II of The Histories by the Greek historian Herodotus in the fifth century B.C.E., is a dramatized account of Sobekneferu exacting revenge for her brother’s regicide. 24 According to the legend, Nitocris invited the Egyptian subjects who murdered her brother-husband to a banquet in an underground chamber and then drowned them by flooding the room with Nile water through a secret channel. 25 Afterwards, she committed suicide by throwing herself into a chamber of hot ashes in order to avoid retribution for her actions. 26

The Egyptian historian Manetho recorded that Nitocris was the last ruler of the sixth dynasty, but there is no evidence that she ever existed, and Collins believes that the twelfth dynasty ruler Sobekneferu is the best historical fit. 27 “The real Nitocris of legend was, I would argue, an abstract memory of the life and deeds of Sobekneferu,” Collins says. 28 He suggests that she may have collaborated with Egyptian nationalists to have her brother assassinated, then shifted blame onto her political opponents after she was placed on the throne. 29

Sobekneferu may have fallen out of favor due to low flood waters during the third year of her reign, which would have been disastrous for the cultivation of crops. 30 Since the failure of the inundation would have been perceived as her fault, Collins suggests that she may have been pressured by the priesthood at Heliopolis to take the role of sacrificial king and either commit suicide or be murdered. 31 

Collins has an intriguing theory regarding the method of her ritual death. He suggests that the serpent involved in Cleopatra’s suicide may have been symbolic for the ingestion of poisonous plants or the inhalation of their smoke, 32 which leads him to believe that the chamber full of hot ashes into which Nitocris threw herself may have been a room suffocated with mephitic fumes, and that this was how Sobekneferu committed suicide. 33

While the theories Collins presents are often pure conjecture, he clearly delineates between what is based upon concrete archaeological evidence and what is speculation, all the while acknowledging that we may never know the truth. Readers who are armchair archaeologists will appreciate his detailed analysis of artifacts, and those who want to learn more will find Kara Cooney’s book When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt, which Collins cites several times, to be an excellent companion text to The First Female Pharaoh

The figure of Sobekneferu is just as relevant today as ever because she presents an interesting historical perspective on gender stereotypes and public perceptions of women’s leadership abilities both past and present. Women in positions of power are still pressured by society to adopt masculine fashions in order to be taken seriously, such as the pant suits worn by modern female politicians and other professionals. One might argue that these suits have evolved to become gender neutral, but originally they were worn to project an air of male authority, and on a subliminal level, they still convey the same message. Appearing androgynous often requires women to minimize or conceal their femininity instead of embracing it, perhaps even blurring their perceived gender identity, as was the case with both Sobekneferu and Hatshepsut. 

Hatshepsut in particular depicted herself as a man towards the end of her reign, and in When Women Ruled the World, Egyptologist Kara Cooney says that rather than this being an indication of her own gender confusion, “Hatshepsut’s problem was that she was trying to inhabit a masculine role within a patriarchal system on a long-term basis while there was a male king already occupying the throne.” 34 Depicting herself as a man was a way of validating her right to rule. 

In modern times, Sobekneferu has reincarnated in pop culture as a dangerous Egyptian queen with supernatural powers who returns to the realm of the living by possessing a young woman’s body. The subtitle of The First Female Pharaoh: Sobekneferu, Goddess of the Seven Stars, invokes Bram Stoker’s Egyptian novel The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903), in which the daughter of an Egyptologist, a young woman named Margaret, is possessed by the spirit of Queen Tera.

Critics have perceived this as a Gothic horror personification of the New Woman movement of First Wave Feminism at the turn of the century. As the spirit of Queen Tera takes control of Margaret, she becomes more strong-willed and independent, putting up increasing resistance to the masculine authority of her father and love interest, perhaps serving as a cautionary tale about the dangers of female empowerment, since Stoker didn’t seem very fond of the movement based on his treatment of strong female characters. 

Collins believes that Stoker’s evil Queen Tera was inspired by Sobekneferu, 35 and that she in turn influenced the character of Queen Kara in the 1980 film based on the novel titled The Awakening, starring Charlton Heston. 36 Collins posits that Stoker’s source materials were two works on ancient Egyptian star lore and mythology by Gerald Massey (1828-1907) that featured Sobekneferu, associating her with an ancient “Mother-Goddess of Time,” the “Goddess of the Seven Stars,” identified with the constellations Draco and Ursa Major. 37

The enigmatic queen Sobekneferu has also made quite an impact on the occult community. Esteemed occult writer Kenneth Grant drew connections between Sobekneferu and an ancient Draconian cult in his Typhonian Trilogies (1972-2002).38 According to the Tumblr account of Pacific North Witches, Sobekneferu even has a feast day, which falls on July 23.39 

It seems this ancient queen has indeed been resurrected into the collective consciousness. Whether we view Sobekneferu as a high priestess of Draconian magic or as the ultimate embodiment of female empowerment, she has achieved the dream of immortality that all the mighty ones of ancient Egypt sought to attain, inspiring new generations with her mysterious legacy, nearly 3,800 years after her death.