✨ A Gathering Place for Magical Readers and Writers ✨

Season of the Witch: Imbolc Oracle, by Lorraine Anderson and Juliet Diaz

Season of the Witch: Imbolc Oracle, by Lorraine Anderson and Juliet Diaz
Rockpool Publishing, 1922579785, 112 pages, 44 cards, November 2023

In the darkness of winter, Imbolc is a time of fresh starts, hope, and renewal, as we begin to see signs of the spring returning. While others rush to make their new year’s resolution in January, I’ve always known the potent magic in waiting until Imbolc to start crafting my intentions. And this year I’m really excited to have Seasons of the Witch: Imbolc Oracle by Lorraine Anderson and Juliet Diaz  to turn to for guidance as I map out my intentions for the upcoming months.

The Season of the Witch oracle series has already moved through Yule, Samhain, and Mabon, and with this deck Anderson and Diaz turn their focus to encapsulating the energy of Imbolc into the next deck in the series. Anderson and Diaz describe how they find Imbolc “to be the most suited for solitary work, a time when you turn inward and focus on your hopes and dreams.”1

“Each card was brought to light with the hope that it would stimulate self-awareness rather than focusing on other people.”2

To better acquaint myself with the deck, I decided to flip through the guidebook before delving into a reading. Following the author’s introductions, there is a list of themes and areas of focus for Imbolc, an overview of how to use the cards, and card spreads. I really liked the authors’ idea of pulling a monthly guiding-light card, photocopying it, and placing it in areas you’ll see throughout the day to remind you of the energy. Anderson and Diaz also describe how after reader feedback from other decks, they decided to shift from invocations to mini messages that give a glimpse of the card’s meaning.

The cards themselves have a calm, tranquil energy. I instantly feel at ease when I’m holding the deck. They shimmer with their navy-blue gilded edges, and the image on the back of the moon with candles surrounding it brings a soft, gentle illumination. The cards’ imagery remind me of the concept of hygge, bringing warming feelings of contentment or well-being. Some card names are Cinnamon Rolls, Casserole, Greenhouse, Amethyst, Snowflakes, Groundhog, Dawn, and Aquarius.

The coloring is a perfect mixture of healing darkness with soft light, reminding readers of the bliss that comes in the quiet stillness of the deep winter, but also honoring the winter blues. In the mix there are plenty of cards that invite the reader to delve into their grief and longing and create a sacred space for healing and transformation to occur. It is only through having the courage to face the dark that we can find the light within again; with this deck, we are safely held to explore our inner realms and wash away the old to pave way for the new.

My first time using this deck I did a one-card pull and got Arts and Crafts. It instantly felt very aligned, as I have been longing to create space in my schedule to do some crafting projects. Recently, I’ve been longing to create a winter vision board, bake and build a gingerbread house, and make my own witch’s ball and/or spell jar. The card felt like an intuitive nudge to follow this whim.

Then reading the message for Arts and Crafts hit home even more. It reads:

“The Arts and Crafts card comes to you when you are trying to manifest your vision using other people’s means and methods instead of creating something for yourself. . . Don’t cut yourself short thinking you don’t have the skill to bring your ideas and visions to life, because skills can be learned and mastered.”3

Recently, I have been relying on other people, hoping their dreams pan out and I fit in somewhere, rather than pursuing my own visions. This card was a gentle reminder of my creativity, from the daily crafts I will start to build to the greater vision of my life that I am now feeling ready to begin tending again.

My next time using this deck was to gain insight into how I could heal an important relationship in my life. I chose the Rosemary bread spread (yum, right?) that the authors warn “is not for the faint of heart”4 as it will reveal honestly if the relationship is better mended or if it has reached its natural conclusion and it’s time to part ways. The positioning of four main cards gives insight into whether or not the relationship should continue, and the cards five-a and five-b are to be read depending on if the answer is “yes” to mend the relationship or “no” to heal and move on.

When I read the first four cards in the spread, I was honestly shocked by the accuracy. It was as though the deck tapped into the situation perfectly and laid before me the truth that I had been unintentionally shielding myself from. The essence of the message was that my partner and I were not in alignment with our higher purpose; I am being non-committal, while he is lacking focus. The fourth card, Peppermint, revealed it was time for a clearing of toxic patterns. (Sidenote: It was interesting that Peppermint came up for me too because it’s an herb I’ve been feeling really called to work with recently!)

From the spread, I determined the message was to mend, and so I read the follow-up card that pretty much pointed to us needing to do some shadow work to overcome these recurring issues. Sharing this information with my partner led to a much-needed discussion about our future, and afterwards we felt more connected than we had in a while. I definitely felt the author’s intention for this deck to help readers focusing on their own inner work rather than other people’s expectations of you helped to restore balance in my relationship.

So far, I think this is my favorite Season of the Witch deck yet. Just like the others, it perfectly captures the essence of the sabbat. But I think Imbolc is often overlooked, as it has a quiet energy compared to some of the other more bold sabbats, such as Samhain and Yule. These cards are a perfect way to attune yourself to the gentle unfolding of Imbolc during the winter. Though, I feel there’s plenty of insight to gain from using them as one feels called throughout the year as well.

Overall, I highly recommend Season of the Witch: Imbolc Oracle. Anderson and Diaz are doing a wonderful job of distilling the essence of the sabbats into these decks. The cards for Imbolc perfectly capture the energy of this season; they are warm and cozy with unexpected depth. This deck will help you to delve into the hidden emotions to reconnect with yourself and determine what’s of true value in your life and worth pursuing as a new beginning.

Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen Tarot, by Travis McHenry

Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen Tarot, by Travis McHenry and illustrated by Cristin Gottberg
Rockpool Publishing, 1922785849, 128 pages, 80 cards, October 2023

Travis McHenry has created an awesome tarot deck for those who love dark history. Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen Tarot opens the portal for modern readers to reach into the depths of the past and gain wisdom from the life journey of those who have dared to push the bounds of reality, ultimately becoming enlightened or losing themselves in the process. As someone who thoroughly enjoys delving into the biography of my magical role models to glean insight into the circumstances that shaped their body of work, this deck is a treasure trove of interesting characters to learn from!

McHenry is a detail-oriented creator who brings new life to arcane occult knowledge, and for this I immensely appreciate his work. His previous decks Angel Tarot, Vlad Dracula Tarot, and Occult Tarot have a palpable energy to them, and this deck is no different. Once again, Henry has ventured afar and gathered what he’s learned for others in a dually gruesome and glorious deck.

Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen Tarot casts a wide net in regard to the people included. While some might be considered unsavory, McHenry reassures readers “even the most terrible person in the deck had one or two redeeming qualities.”1 In his desire to bring these stories to life again, he sticks to the facts, though it becomes clear some of these characters’ realities are stranger than fiction. 

This being said, the first entry in the guidebook, The Fool, features James Douglas, who “was discovered roasting the cook’s body parts over an open fire and eating pieces of the meat.”2 Instant stomach turn, right? But if you’re like me and also feel utterly fascinated by the story, then it’s worth continuing on in your work with this deck!

McHenry is true to his word about finding the redeeming qualities, writing in the description of the card “As the first card in this deck James Douglas represents brash behavior, jumping without thinking and the folly of committing acts of violence. However, it also shows a person who knows themselves, knows what they want in life and just goes for it. . . James Douglas knew from the start he wanted to be a cannibal killer. He didn’t wait until he was old enough to pursue his dream and he didn’t wait for somebody to give him permission![/efn_note]page 12[/efn_note]

“Hopefully when you read the short biographies of these historical figures you’ll discover that it doesn’t take noble birth or divine favor to transform yourself into a magic, martyr, or madman!”3

For every entry in the guidebook, there is a short biography of the person or people featured, highlighting their ultimate acts of magic or madness, and then a few lines tying in the traditional meaning of the tarot card with the story of the characters’ lives. And overall, McHenry does a REALLY great job matching the person of the card with the card’s meaning, conveying the message of the card in a way that brings a trio of scary shivers, enlightened new perspective, and dash of humor. Nothing elicits a laugh like the true utter depravity and darkness of humanity, nor prompts self-reflection as a magical practitioner like reading about the escapades of both con artists and true mystics, who often end up vilified regardless.

Illustrator Cristin Gottberg has done an exquisite job in the design of these cards. The cards themselves are a deep blue with a red sigil on the back and golden tinted edges. Her original paintings in this deck are primarily darker colors – reds, oranges, browns, and blacks – and there’s a slightly blurred quality to each image, leaving room for the imagination to creep in and fill in the gaps. Gottberg has infused the images with a sensual and fluid feeling, perfectly capturing the essence of the person on the card.

And it’s worth noting there are plenty of women featured in the deck too, despite the title of the deck which seems to focus primarily on men. The reason Henry chose the title is because it was the name of the book consulted by the Ghostbusters in Ghostbusters II as they hunted fictional Vigo Carpathian. Disappointed the book did not exist, Henry “vowed to someday bring it into reality.”4Some of the women Henry includes are Catalina de los Rios, Agnes Bernauer, Catharina de Chasseur and Eva Courier and Juliette Bisson.

Speaking of the last two, another neat feature of the deck is the inclusion of three Lovers cards: a female/female card, a male/male card, and a female/male card. This allows for customization of one’s deck based on personal preference; it also gives us more interesting stories to read!

Overall, Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen Tarot is absolutely a worthwhile collector’s deck for those with an interest in dark history. There’s so much murder, mayhem, and mysticism to revel in while working with this deck. This deck will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the unique flavor of the deck absolutely has its time and place and is a macabre delight for the resonant audience. Sometimes we all need to teeter on the edge of wrong and right in our magical practice, and finding out more about the path of others can certainly help to clarify your own boundaries.

 If you’re seeking more of McHenry’s work, you can also check out Magicians, Martyrs, and Madmen: A Compendium. He wrote this book using primary sources, often the words of the person themselves or sources from the time period they were alive. The biographies in this deck are condensed versions of longer entries featured in the book.

Crystal Clear Oracle, by Nadine Gordon-Taylor

Crystal Clear Oracle: Loving Guidance from the Mineral Kingdom, by Nadine Gordon-Taylor
Bear & Company, 9781591434849, 40 cards, 166 pages, December 2023

With the Crystal Clear Oracle: Loving Guidance from the Mineral Kingdom, intuitive artist Nadine Gordon-Taylor has combined 44 well known crystals and minerals with beautiful symbols from plants, animals, elementals, and ancient symbols to provide unique guidance for our lives.

This deck is the third deck created by Gordon-Taylor, who holds both MFA and doctorate degrees in art.  She has taught for more than 30 years through lectures and workshops.  Her artwork has been shown in galleries and collections around the world. She owns a gallery called Third Eye Arts in Peekskill, NY.  Learn more about her through her website https://www.thethirdeyestudio.com/meet-the-artist.

As someone who has been studying crystals for over 20 years, I was immediately drawn to this deck. Unlike most crystal oracle decks, this deck also features many different symbols on each card. You can choose to focus only on the crystal or mineral for a quick message or add layers to the guidance by reading about each symbol featured. Here is just one example of the symbols on these cards. (I’ve added brief information from the guidebook, as well.)   

“CRYSTAL:  Hanksite
Moniker:  The Earthy Supporter
Key words: Cleansing, grounding, and heightened sense of reality
Mineral content: Rare potassium sulfate
Healing properties: Realignment of your etheric chakra system. Hold me over any area of your body that feels unbalanced and needs healing.

SYMBOLS:
Capybara: You function best with others.
Beaver:  Follow your intuition on new projects.
Tulips: Rebirth, and two tulips mean you might want to look for balance and partnership.
Honeybees:  Examine your productivity with dedication, hard work, and collaboration.
Full Moon:  There is new information and brilliant epiphanies for you.
Viaduct:  Watch for opportunities for transition and change.
Earth: Look to your home planet for support.
Shooting Star: Your wishes will inevitably come true!
Affirmation: I am on the right track to my spiritual destination”1

As you can see, Gordon-Taylor weaves lots of guidance and encouraging information about each crystal or mineral, as well as the symbols she has chosen for each card.

Each card is brilliantly painted in a very realistic style.  I’ve seen artists attempt to draw or paint crystals and miss the mark. This is not the case with Gordon-Taylor. Each one of her renderings of the crystals and minerals is as realistic as any photo. She is very talented when it comes to painting the crystals and minerals as they appear in nature. She uses fine detail, shading, and an authentic depiction of the crystal in a traditional shape to present each crystal or mineral. Two of my favorite depictions in these cards are fluorite and aquamarine. 

The back of the card box declares that the cards are “intricately illustrated,”2 and this is true! She also uses different border colors to accent the pictorial layouts. The cards are a large format, measuring 4” inches by almost 6” inches. The back of the cards features a magnified view of an iolite crystal. 

As I’ve mentioned with the example for Hanksite above, the guidebook contains a wealth of information, with two to three pages per mineral. The messages are written in first person, from the point of view of each crystal. For example for Hanksite she relates:

“I am Hanksite, a rare potassium sulfate mineral, and I connect you with the Earth.  I am commonly found beneath the surface, embedded in mud or drill cores.”3

Gordon-Taylor utilizes different colors for the type in the Table of Contents, as well as the passages for each crystal. This makes the various headings really pop! Each card is also shown in the guidebook with a small four-color photo. She ends the guidance with three affirmations for each crystal.

The Table of Contents is laid out in alphabetical order and includes the name of the crystal, the moniker, key words and page number. This layout is brilliant because you can open the guidebook and run your finger down the page and select a crystal randomly for yourself or others, without taking the cards with you. In the Introduction, Gordon-Taylor shares her long history with minerals and her goal for this deck: 

“The constructive and positive messages found in this book allow you to access new and loving energies that inspire, empower, and heal. These messages come directly from the crystals that appear in each image.”4

Gordon-Taylor also shares how to use the cards, including different ways to clear the cards, spreads for use with the cards and the use of a sketchbook as a journal. At the back of the guidebook, she includes a 30-page glossary with words and phrases about crystals and minerals, as well as spiritual terms. The cards are stored in a beautiful box with an indentation for the cards, ample room for the guidebook and a magnetic clasp. 

These cards arrived in the mail and I didn’t have the chance to glance through them before my husband and I left to attend a gem and mineral show. I came home with three crystals (mangano, calcite, septarian) and an ammonite tray. When I pulled out these cards the next morning for my daily draw, I drew the card Ammonite!

For my friend Ann, I drew the card: Chrysanthemum Stone. This stone is known as The Karmic Liberator and references intuition, optimism and akashic records.

Ammonite helps you release the past and welcome change, evolution, and personal growth. According to Gordon-Taylor, ammonite is “The Ancient Emancipator,” and aids in “adapting to a new, exciting timeline and a new version of yourself.”5

“You have chosen this card because you are a beautiful soul experiencing challenging situations. You also want to feel joy again. I can help you reset your energy grid. Hold me in your hands when meditating and burrow deep into your intuition . . . You are here at this time to work out issues balancing the mind and heart.”6

My friend has had some challenges lately, and just accepted a new temporary position with a hospital in another state.  She loved the encouragement that she received from this stone, as well as from the symbology of the eagles, groundhogs, cherry tree, infinity symbol and the ankh.  I sent her a photo of the card and the verbiage for even more support. 

Crystal Clear Oracle is great for any level of oracle reader or crystal student. With the depth of the information about each crystal or mineral, as well as the reference materials on the various symbols, anyone can benefit from the knowledge shared by Gordon-Taylor. You can focus only on the crystal or read further and integrate all the information for a complete guidance session. I can see myself using these cards to add a footnote to a client reading or pull a card for myself when I’m troubled by a situation.

Oracle of the Universe, by Stacey Demarco

Oracle of the Universe: Divine Guidance From the Cosmos, by Stacey Demarco, illustrated by Kinga Britschgi
Rockpool Publishing, 9781922785015, 112 pages, 44 cards, 2023

The shining box for the Oracle of the Universe: Divine Guidance From the Cosmos really attracts your attention with the background of the night sky, a woman’s profile, and an electrical storm in multiple colors in place of the woman’s brain. By adding an overlay of even more stars, Stacey Demarco and Kinga Britschgi immediately let you know that a journey through the cosmos is about to begin!

Did you know that we have eighty-eight areas of the night sky? Demarco shares this:

“Constellations are named areas of the celestial sphere that are used to divide the night sky into specific regions for easy reference and we now officially have 88.”1

Stacey Demarco is an author, pagan practitioner and modern witch, whose passion is to “make practical magic accessible to everyone and to reconnect people with the power of nature.”2 Demarco has created nine oracle decks, one tarot deck, a lunar calendar and numerous best-selling books. She is a popular teacher and speaker in her native Australia and around the world. 

As an award-winning artist and digital creator, Kinga Britschgi has a degree in fine art and a master’s degree in bilingual education. After working as a teacher, Britschgi transitioned to the digital world, where she has been creating art for more than twenty years. Originally from Hungary, she now lives in the US with her husband and son. 

The collaboration for this deck of oracle cards is truly amazing! From the compelling cover art to the rich jewel-tone colors of the cards, I was mesmerized by the deep night sky combinations. Britschgi adds symbols, animals, people, nature, elements, and mythical creatures in a rich collage with stars, stars and more stars. Each card contains a number and a title that helps you identify it as either Constellation, Nebula, or Bright Star. Then, the creators add the name, a common name (if there is one), and a key word or theme. 

For example, for the card Sirius, it is identified as a “Bright Star,” tagged “Sirius”, modified as “Dog Star” as its more common name, and further marked with “Consistency” as its keyword. This method of identification is very helpful as you navigate the extensive guidebook. The Table of Contents is also broken into the three sections mentioned and each card is listed in number order. In addition to the name of the constellation, nebula, or bright star, they also include the key word in the table of contents.

The Constellations section is the largest grouping and includes the twelve zodiac star formations, as well as many others, such as Andromeda, Centaurus, and Cassiopea. In all, the creators include thirty-two Constellations, eight Nebula and four Bright Stars.

The guidebook is quite extensive and includes an introduction, a section on how to best use the forty-four cards, and several pages on spreads for this deck. Demarco also features a simple ritual for dedicating your deck and a few words on combining this deck with other decks. For each card, the creators feature a small, four-color photo of the card, key word, guidance summary, affirmation and information on the myth or history and IAU official astronomy tag for sky viewing. 

I took the cards on a test flight and utilized a spread called “The Stellar Read.”3 For this spread, I was to pull out the four Bright Star cards and set those aside. Next, I shuffled the rest of the deck and chose three cards. Then, I shuffled the four Bright Star cards and chose one. Here is a recap of the cards I drew and description of the spread placements:

  1. Represents the blind spot or hidden issue:  #7 Libra – Balance
  2. Represents the path of most empowerment: #35 Butterfly – Change
  3. Represents the truth of the matter: #3 Gemini – Rescue
  4. Bright Star Card: Represents the immediate action to take: #43 Vega – Dynamism

My question regarded how to get moving on a large project I was working on, where I felt stalled or sidetracked. From the four cards, I came to realize that I needed more balance, rather than an “all or nothing” work pace. I also was challenged to look at my schedule and see where changes could be made to better accommodate work in the mornings, when I am at my best.

I also got a message about waiting to respond to requests for guidance and help, rather than jumping in and “rescuing” people.  Finally, the Bright Star card spoke to the importance of setting goals, doing the work, and then resting when tired. This is a great reminder!

Next, I pulled cards for friends, both online and in my Friday “Coffee & Cards” group.  For one friend, I pulled the Crux, or Southern Cross, card.  She called to thank me and related that the message of carefully communicating to avoid sending mixed messages was right on track for her. The card featured two aboriginal men and she related that she has always been drawn to the indigenous people of Australia. 

Another friend asked: “What do I need to know as I head into the holiday season?” Her card was #26 Cygnus which talked of compassion. She was guided to show compassion for others and for herself.  I think I saw tears in her eyes when she read this passage from the guidebook:

“Get your self-compassion on and forgive yourself. It’s easy to show compassion to those you know, but a greater compassion is to show it in action to those you don’t. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. Show up.”4

One of my Facebook friends received #28 Draco, which featured a dragon and the theme of “guardianship.”  She wrote to share: “This message really speaks to me today.  I need to remember good boundaries, especially as we enter the holiday season.  Thank you!”

These cards are dynamic, beautiful, and so very healing.  The rich artwork and gilt-edge finish may draw you in, but the guidance is deep and resonates on many levels. I really like the layers of the information in the guidebook. A person can simply select a card and use the keyword as a theme for their day.  Or they can go to the guidebook and read the guidance summary.  If someone has more time and wants to learn about the myth or history of the nighttime star or nebula, the information on each one is extensive. Finally, if a person wants to find the star or nebula in the sky, the information to do so is provided.  

I appreciate the structured layout of the guidebook and the easy navigation. Demarco has created signposts to make retrieving the guidance, the myth, and the sky placement easy and effortless. Oracle of the Universe would be great for a novice oracle card reader, as well as the more experienced diviner.  Also, if someone is interested in stars and nebulas, this would be a great gift! I can see myself adding this deck to client readings for a final bit of guidance.  I also look forward to using this deck for my own daily card reading.

Apothecary Flashcards, by Nicola McIntosh

Apothecary Flashcards: A Pocket Reference Explaining Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses, by Nicola McIntosh
Rockpool Publishing, 1922785776, 42 pages, December 2023

I love learning about herbs, but I am the first to admit I struggle to keep track of all their medicinal properties! Apothecary Flashcards: A Pocket Reference Explaining Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses by Nicole McIntosh is absolutely perfect for staying organized, studying herbs, and looking up quick information. Even better, these cards have images that aid with identifying plants in the natural world.

These cards are 2.5 inches squares that fit easily inside your palm. They come with a ring that you can link through them to make it a flip deck. The rounded corners make it comfortable to hold – no sharp edges here! They are a great size for carrying on-the-go. And the font is a good reading size, whether you hold the cards near or far away from yourself.

McIntosh is an artist, herbalist, and Celtic Shamanism practitioner. She focuses on establishing a deep connection with nature in her work with the aim of spreading peace and love. For those who are interested in learning more about preparing botanicals at home, her book Plant Spirit Medicine is a great resource. Other decks she has published include Mushroom Spirit Oracle, Celtic Spirit Oracle, and Crystal Grid Oracle.

In introduction Apothecary Flashcards, McIntosh writes:

“The world of herbal medicine awaits you, and there you will find a whole apothecary at your fingertips.”1

There are forty herbs in this deck. The front of each card is an image of the herb, while the back of the card has all the pertinent information about it. McIntosh shares the botanical name, part of the herb used for the remedy (root, leaves, stem, etc.), actions of the herb, medicinal uses, and methods it can be prepared for a home remedy. The last piece of information is a caution, sharing advisement about when the herb should not be used.

The action section contains words that might be unfamiliar to some, such as “adaptogen” or “renal tonic”, but luckily, McIntosh had the foresight to include four deck slides, Points to know, defining what the actions do. For instance, adaptogens “help the body deal with stress”, while renal tonic “builds and tones the kidneys.”2 The list of actions is a great way to become familiar with the terms as one studies the impact of herbs on the body.

There is also one card following the Points to know, which is Terms used. These range from aerial parts, “the parts of the plant that grow above the ground”, to UTI, “urinary tract infection”.3 With all of these clarifications, it becomes exceedingly apparent that McIntosh cares about details and want to ensure the information she is convey is accurately understood.

The way the deck is on a ring makes it easy to flip back and forth between the herb card and the action card to look it up. Everything is organized alphabetically: Points to Know, Terms used, and the herbs in the deck.

Recently, I’ve been reading a book about the Melissae, the bee priestesses who oversaw the Eleusinian Mysteries. The author of the book was inspired to learn more about them after becoming curious about the botanical name of Lemon Balm, Melissa officialis, and researching to discover these long-forgotten yet high-ranking priestesses of Ancient Greece. This made me curious to see what McIntosh wrote about medicinal properties of Lemon Balm, so it was the first cared I flipped to in the deck.

From McIntosh, I learned Lemon Balm is antiviral, sedative, diaphoretic, and carminative (you bet your bottom dollar that I was flipping to Points to know for those last two words!). The medicinal uses of Lemon Balm including treating herpes (topically), depression, and IBS (another term defined on the Terms used card). For a home remedies, McIntosh writes it can be infused to make a tea or tincture to take internally or used in a poultice to put direct on skin.

Lemon Balm is surprisingly one of the only herbs that does not have a caution. And for me personally, the cautions are the most important part since herbal remedies can be a hurtful as they are healing if not used properly. For instance, Sage is toxic in large amounts, while Schisandra and quite a few other herbs in the deck are not to be used during pregnancy. Once again, McIntosh is specific, writing “should not be used during the acute phase of an infection/cold”4 for the herb Astragalus.

Overall, Apothecary Flashcards is a wonderful reference when making herbal remedies. The organization and detail make them true time-savers, and their nice size makes them easy to keep on hand or nicely stored in one’s own apothecary. Whether you use them for brushing up on your own knowledge or to identify herbs outside, this deck is a wonderful resource for guidance.

Oralce of the Birds, by Jeanne Roland and Petra Kühne

Oracle of the Birds: A 46-Card Deck and Guidebook, by Jeanne Ruland and illustrated by Petra Kühne
Findhorn Press, 1644119617, 112 pages, 46 cards, October 2023

I recently read The Madonna Secret by Sophie Strand, and in this book, the main character Miriam often receives guidance from the natural world, especially birds. This got me thinking about my own relationship with birds and questioning “Have I been pausing to appreciate them and hear their message?” Honestly, I had not been paying much mind to the birds, so I started to become more aware of the birds around me–when they appear, how they make me feel, and the tone of their chatter.

Soon after, I noticed the Oracle of the Birds by Jeanne Ruland, and I felt prompted to delve deeper into my bird explorations. This gorgeous deck, illustrated by Petra Kühne, shares the spiritual messages from a variety of birds, providing meaning and affirmations for me to explore, and it has brought a new appreciation for birds into my life. Ruland reminds us:

“They touch our soul. Our soul is like them–free, fluidly connected, unique, and yet belonging to Heaven.”1

This deck consists of 46 cards, which are mostly birds, but also include some mythical bird figures (Ba, Garuda) and bird-related items (Egg, Nest, Feather). From the largest bird (Ostrich) to the tiniest bird (Hummingbird), the wide range of birds in this deck spans the globe.

Kühne has done an amazing job bringing these birds to life on the cards. Flipping through the deck and looking at the images, I feel a subtle humming in my hands, as though the spirits of the birds are being infused right into my soul. The deck is bright with each bird in their own colorful habitat. My favorite part about Kühne’s design is the patterns and sacred geometry patterns shining through softly in the background, reminding me of the divinity of these birds.

On each card is the name of the bird, a few keywords, and then a sentence or two of guidance. This makes the cards wonderful to use on an altar space or simply keep out for the day to glance at for inspiration. The back of the cards is the same for the whole deck, but it also has an encouraging message that reminds readers to keep their gaze uplifted.

The guidebook is short and sweet in its introduction to the cards, quickly delving into the card profiles, which are organized alphabetically. Every description includes a title, image of the card, meaning of the card, message from the bird’s magic feather, list of additional meanings, and an affirmation.

I appreciate how for each card meaning Ruland takes the time to describe how the bird enters your life. For instance he writes, “Death-defying, the falcon plunges into your energy field to hunt demons.”2 Meanwhile, he describes how Goose “comes waddling into your life and enables you to recognize the deep truth of things.”3 His descriptive writing is a portal for the bird’s energy, and I enjoy the sensation of feeling and imagining the way the bird of the day enters during my daily pull to share their insight.

This week I keep pulling the same card, and clearly I feel like I’m being sent a message with the consistency of it appearing day after day, even with multiple shufflings. The card is Garuda, who Ruland describes as “a mythical and immortal messenger of light from the Upper World.”4

The overall message from this card is centered on me opening up to messages from higher realms, listening to my heart, and trusting the guidance of the divine, while remembering that I am a source of light. I really resonate with Garuda, especially how Ruland interprets the card as a sign to focus on my own spiritual development and “connection to the existence of creation.”5

As much as many of us strive to be grounded, this deck reminds us that sometimes we need to let our spirits fly high for a new perspective. Ruland has attentively channeled the wisdom of birds into affirming messages that shift our gaze towards the sky and bring new insights. The imagery created by Kühne transports us into new habitats and states of mind, gleaming with elegance, grace, and possibility.

Overall, Oracle of the Birds is an excellent resource for anyone looking to deepen their spiritual practice and connect with the natural world. The beautiful artwork and insightful messages make it a joy to work with, and the guidance and wisdom of the birds can help you discover insights on your spiritual path. Whether you’re looking for clarity, guidance, or inspiration, this deck can help you connect with the energy of birds and tap into their powerful wisdom.

2024 Moon Goddess Diary, by Nicci Garaicoa

2024 Moon Goddess Diary – Northern Hemisphere: A Year’s Journey of Love, Connection, and Support – a Journey Back to You, by Nicci Garaicoa and illustrated by Olivia Burki
Rockpool Publishing, 9781922579560, 160 pages, June 2023

Anything that promises to harness the energy of the moon is a natural fit for me, so this diary was a no-brainer! In her 2024 Moon Goddess Diary – Northern Hemisphere: A Year’s Journey of Love, Connection, and Support – a Journey Back to You, Nicci Garaicoa presents twelve goddesses to support women as you brave the new frontier of a new year.

 Garaicoa hails from Australia and is a medicine woman, energy healer, speaker, intuitive and author. She is known for her Full Moon Meditations, held on her beach in Australia for locals and broadcast for followers worldwide. Learn more about her at https://www.niccigaraicoa.com/. Illustrator Olivia Burki enjoys illustrate her pieces with both traditional artwork and digital media. Her art website is: https://www.iamfy.co/shop/olivia-burki.

On the cover of the diary, Garaicoa promises:

“A year’s journey of love, connection and support. A journey back to you.”1

This journal is a delight for the senses from the luscious dark teal cover with a mermaid holding the moon to the jewel tones of the moon goddesses featured for each month. Garaicoa opens the diary with a brief introduction and a few paragraphs that help you to use the diary in the most beneficial way. She includes a beautiful ritual to claim the diary as your very own. Next, she presents “My Goddess Self-Care Toolkit for Winter,”2 which includes color, sound, crystals, and plants, among other tools.  Writing in these few pages before the season begins helps you set intentions, call in support and plan for the three months to come.

I find it interesting that Garaicoa also suggests that you look through the three moon goddesses for the upcoming three months and select only one to be your primary support for the season. Yes, you will also work with the goddess for each month as you travel through the four weeks. However, the suggestion to select one of the goddesses for your primary guide each season is brilliant! This is a way to personalize the diary experience.

What follows next is beautiful goddess artwork for each month, as well as a description of the cultural background for each goddess, a mantra, a crystal and other ways to work with her. The diary provides a double-page spread for each week in the month. This allows ample room to journal, record a daily card or whatever your heart desires. Along the way, Garaicoa lists the New and Full Moons each month, so you can also do your intention setting and releasing rituals.

The pages for each month feature a beautiful pastel color that perfectly complements the color palette of the moon goddess for that month. Sprinkled throughout the diary are other pieces of art to accent the pages, such as fans, flowers, shells, or pottery.  Encouraging and inspirational bits of prose are also shown on select pages, as well as a “Ritual to Close Off the Year 2024”3 near the end of the diary.

Although I am familiar with four of the moon goddesses chosen for the diary, the other eight moon goddesses are new to me. It is so interesting that she features different countries and cultures for the moon goddesses so that learn more about customs and rituals for navigating the seasons. For winter, spring, summer and fall, she presents a unique toolkit for navigating the three months and this version was created specifically for the northern hemisphere. Since Garaicoa is based in Australia, this version is a wonderful way to honor those of us who live in another part of the world.

My favorite goddess is Coyolxauhqui. (pronounced Coy-yo-shar-ki) Perhaps because I live in Texas and have always been fascinated by anything from Mexico, I particularly resonate with this Aztec beauty. Garaicoa shares this information about the goddess for July:

“Coyolxauhqui’s medicine for you is the most incredible example of how to turn your greatest traumas, wounds, pain and the drama that can happen in your life into your greatest strength and power, as she does each night by beaming her light across the world and shining as brightly as the moon.”4

2024 Moon Goddess Diary would be great for any woman who wants to learn more about working with the signs and phases of the moon, as well as tracking her own energy throughout the year. Whether you are new to learning about the moon or have been living by the moon for several years, this diary is for you. The information on the goddesses adds a beautiful layer of support and the seasonal toolkits give you additional ideas for energetic healing and reinforcement throughout the year.

Garaicoa shares this last message on the back cover:

“Let 2024 be your year of change. This year, be guided, inspired, and supported by the 12 powerful goddesses in this full-color diary. Use their knowledge, bathe in their love, breathe in their radiance, and feel their power radiates through each page and into your life.”5

2024 Witch’s Diary, by Flavia Kate Peters and Barbara Meiklejohn-free

2024 Witch’s Diary – Northern Hemisphere: Reclaiming the Magick of the Old Ways, Flavia Kate Peters and Barbara Meiklejohn-Free
Rockpool Publishing, 1922579289, 160 pages, June 2023

A witchcraft diary is a unique and personal account of an individual’s experiences and practices within the craft. It can serve as a valuable tool for self-reflection, growth, and learning, as well as a historical record for future generations. Yet as many times as I’ve made the resolution to keep better records of my magical workings, inevitably I lose focus or realize I’ve started in one journal only to switch to another, mixing up all my writing. This year, with the intention to track my practice throughout the year, I’ve done myself a favor by getting a copy of 2024 Witch’s Diary – Northern Hemisphere: Reclaiming the Magick of the Old Ways by Flavia Kate Peters and Barbara Meiklejohn-Free.

“The 2024 Witch’s Diary, a magickal tool from which you can draw ancient wisdom, enables you to thrive in balance and harmony with a sprinkle of very real magick. This practical guide will show you how to harness the magick of nature, claim your personal power through the discovery of ancient wisdom and embrace the divine feminine.”1

Peters and Meiklejohn-Free are a formidable duo as prominent leaders in the witchcraft community. They published their first Witch’s Diary in 2022, making this one their third joint creation. Peters, also known as the Faery Seer, is a hereditary witch and high princess of Arnemetia and The Morrighan. She is a medium, clairvoyant, and published author of works such as Your Dark Goddess. Meiklejohn-Free, also known as the Highland Seer, is a hereditary and eclectic witch who is an initiated high priestess of Isis and the Cailleach.

This planner is a great tool for any practicing witch. It offers a comprehensive guide to the phases of the moon and eclipses, seasonal spells, and other important dates to keep in mind when planning rituals and spells, such as the birthday of famous witches. Also included throughout the dairy are witchy tips, innovations, details about the Wheel of the Year, planting and harvesting timing, and recipes! All this information would be especially helpful for beginners on their witchcraft path, as the month to month  guidance helps to establish a year-round practice.

One of the standout features of the witchcraft planner is its beautiful design. The pages are adorned with stunning illustrations and wisdom that inspire and motivate. The contrast of black and white work in tandem to aesthetically coax out the magic within. Plus, the diary is sturdy and well-made; it will be able to withstand daily use and travel.

Even though I haven’t started writing in the diary yet, I’ve been making use of the incantation provided for October and November. For instance, there’s a really powerful chant titled “Samhain Incantation” that I recited on Halloween. It begins:

Cauldrons boiling, lanterns are shing
Ghouls and ghosts, groans and whining
Parties sweep across the land
Children, adult, hand in hand
Time of fun but must remember
As fires burn bright and glow with embers
Our ancestors who walked before
We honour thee and ask for more
2

Other interesting things I’ve read about in the pages transition from October to November include kitchen witch information about elderberry and a recipe for making a cordial to fight the flu and sinusitis, a pentagram incantation for protection, weather magic and incantation, and moon magic ritual. The authors also provide an overview of November from a magical perspective, writing “These harsh, biting days are a good time to defend  yourself and define your boundaries with others and for darker magick to ward off harm.”3

As someone who often consults various books to find incantations, it’s absolutely lovely having so many to choose from in this planner. Even better, the authors have arranged them in accordance with the seasons, making it so the timing of the incarnation is always good. The #lazywitch in my is thrilled to have this all laid out for me in advance.

Overall, 2024 Witch’s Diary is an essential item for any witch looking to organize and enhance their spiritual journey. Its beautiful design and useful information make it a valuable tool for both individual and group practice (coven organization!). I am confident this diary will be immensely beneficial to my craft, assisting me with gaining new insights into my practice and deepening connection to the natural world through honoring the seasons of the year. I highly recommend this diary for other magical practitioners seeking an all-in-one place for tracking and planning their craft.

Celebrity Spirit Oracle, by Kerrie Erwin

Celebrity Spirit Oracle: Inspiring Messages From the Famous Icons, by Kerrie Erwin and illustrated by Ellie Grant
Rockpool Publishing, 1925946584, 112 pages, 36 cards, August 2023

Celebrities have a magnetic pull; there’s something about them that draws millions of people’s attention worldwide, serving as an icon, role model, and inspiration for the general public. We look up to them, and in turn they provide us with entertainment, inspiration, and guidance on how to live our best lives. It’s not surprising then to realize their impact continues beyond their life on earth, living on in spirit, with their strong presences still intact. In Celebrity Spirit Oracle: Inspiring Messages From the Famous Icons, Kerrie Erwin channels the wisdom of some of the most beloved celebrities of our time, opening the doorway for readers to feel their energy and receive healing messages.

“These authentic and very real messages are simply for inspiration, wisdom, healing, and to inform and encourage self-reflection, which will lead to action and create change.”1

Erwin is a medium and clairvoyant who has also studied hypnotherapy, past-life regression, Australian Bush & Bach Flowers, reiki, and crystal bowl healing. She is also a talented writer and has published numerous books including Mediumship: Your Guide to Connect, Communicate (2021), Clearing: Your Guide to Maintaining Energy (2019), Sacred Space (2016), and Learning to Work with the Tarot Cards and Energy as a Light Worker (2013). Her most recent book is Spirit Rescue: Clear Negative Energy and Free Earthbound Souls, published in April 2023.

The illustrations for Celebrity Spirit Oracle were created by Ellie Grant. Her style, which absolutely shines through in this deck, is bright and colorful. Her website describes her style as “inspired by sci-fi and fantasy art, pop culture, comic book art and mythology,”2 all of which come together to capture the larger-than-life persona of these celebrities! Other decks she’s illustrated include Angels Among Us and Goddesses Among Us (one of my personal favorite decks!).

Each card in the Celebrity Spirit Oracle showcases the celebrity how we best remember them, whether it be in their sports jersey or an iconic outfit, along with the card number, their name and a one-sentence message. All the images are jazzy and exuberant. And what strikes me most about the cards is how well Grant has captured the essence of the celebrities in their facial features! The way she has illustrated the celebrities makes it feel like you’re truly locking eyes with them, creating a spirit to spirit connection.

While the cards are numbered, making it easy to look up and find out more about the meaning of your pull. In the guidebook, Erwin also explains how the celebrities in the deck are categorized by their dominant archetype; there are twelve archetypes in total, making it three celebrities per archetype. Every archetype has its own affirmation and goal, which provides further insight for readers about the card they pulled.

Looking at the description of each card, you’ll see the celebrity name, their archetype, the one-sentence message, additional keywords describing the celebrity, a little biography, the message shared from the celebrity during Erwin’s seance with them, and the meaning of the card.

Yes, you read that right, Erwin used her skills as a medium to communicate with the celebrities during seances. Reading about the celebrities’ energies in the séances and the messages they share is my favorite of this deck; this aspect really makes it feel like more than just the usual oracle deck, though the messages are just as impactful! Here’s what she shares about Marilyn Monroe:

“When Marilyn came through in the séance she was childlike, funny and gentle. She talked very fast about how she loved a lot of people she had left behind and was sorry for the mistakes she made in trusting the wrong people.”3

The card that I’ve pulled two days in a row now is Prince, who has two archetypes: outlaw-magician. It’s some fun energy to be working with. 😀 Part of the message of this card reads:

“If you have chosen this card it may be reinvention time. Dig deep within and find the passion and expression to connect intimately and intuitively with the cosmic force of the universe and all its beauty.”4

Not only does this message really resonate with Prince’s energy and what he inspired others to do during his life, it also speaks to the stage of life that I’m in right now. I can feel the waves of changes coming in. Rather than be scared and try to shut out this new energy, this card reminds me to open up and connect more deeply with the forces in play; I can let myself merge with the flow and find joy in how things all come together.

Overall, Celebrity Spirit Oracle is a quite fun and interesting deck to work with. Erwin has done an amazing job channeling the wisdom of the celebrities into practical messages. Plus the mediumship aspect of the deck reminds readers how our spirit and energy live on, and we too can tap into the energies of these celebrities to manifest change in our life. Whether you are new or experienced when it comes to oracle decks, this Celebrity Spirit Oracle is approachable, genuine, and very enjoyable to read with!

Lucid Dreaming, Lucid Living, by Norma Burton and Nisha Burton

Lucid Dreaming, Lucid Living: Your Oracle & Guide to Mastering the Dreamscape, by Norma J. Burton & Nisha Burton
Red Wheel, 1590035380, 200 pages, 44 cards, September 2023

If you have ever had the wild experience of knowing you were dreaming within a dream, and then discovered that you had the ability to manipulate the dream world with your thoughts, then you have tapped into the latent power of lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a potent therapeutic practice that can reduce stress, improve memory, and assist in shadow integration, healing trauma, and overcoming addiction. Lucidity also enhances personal empowerment by bringing mindfulness and a greater sense of agency to both dreams and waking reality. The average person has three to seven oneiric visions a night, but 95 percent of these experiences are forgotten upon waking.1 Fortunately, dream recall is a skill that can be strengthened with practice, and the Lucid Dreaming, Lucid Living oracle teaches dreamers how to achieve conscious awareness and navigate their dreamscapes with intention.

Lucid Dreaming, Lucid Living: Your Oracle & Guide to Mastering the Dreamscape is a collaborative project created by Norma and Nisha Burton, a mother and daughter dream team.2 Transpersonal psychologist Norma Burton has over thirty years of experience in her personal practice, and her work is informed by Jungian analysis, applied neuroscience, and comparative world religions, with an emphasis on Buddhism. Norma also apprenticed with Mexican Huichol shamans for twenty years, who gave her permission to incorporate their shadow healing tradition into her practice, and she is well versed in the shamanic traditions of other cultures, such as the Japanese Shugendo mountain shamans, the Brazilian Condoble-Espiritu healers, and the North American Cherokee, Hopi, Iroquois, and Navajo healers. Norma’s daughter, Nisha Burton, is a visual artist, graphic designer, and filmmaker, whose unique artistic vision enlivens the surreal dreamscapes pictured on the cards.3

This beautiful oracle consists of 44 gilded cards and a glossy full-color 200 page companion guidebook. In the guidebook, each card has a “Lucid Dreaming Teaching” and a “Lucid Living Message,” which advises the dreamer on how to integrate the lesson in both dreaming and waking life. 

The cards are divided into three categories, recognizable by their black, white, and starry night sky backgrounds. The black cards, numbered 1 through 22, are for “Lucid Dream Journeys”; the white cards, numbered 23 through 33, are for “State Checks, Stabilizing, and Reality-Shifting”; and the starry night cards, numbered 34-44, represent “Guides and Guardians.” [14-15]

The black cards give guidance for navigating various types of dreamscapes. Three of these cards (Card 6, “Nightmare Rewrite,” Card 12, “False Awakening,” and Card 13, “Sleep Paralysis”) advise on how to overcome frightening dream experiences by using your personal power to flip the script of the dream or transform these scenarios into opportunities for greater lucidity and mobility through out-of-body experiences.

One of my favorite cards is number 7, titled “Portals,” which teaches that “in lucid dreams, mirrors are entryways into other realities.”4 The Lucid Living message says, “Use them in waking reality to focus on what you like about yourself rather than your perceived flaws.”5 This card delighted me because I use black mirror scrying in my shadow work, and after reading about this card in the guidebook, I had a vivid dream in which I continued this practice in my sleep.  

The white cards teach various practices, called “state checks,” which can help one become lucid while dreaming. The guidebook defines a state check as “an action you conduct during the day to ‘check’ what ‘state’ or reality you are in—dreaming, awake, or out-of-body.”6 State checks performed in the dream realm can trigger lucidity. For example, card 27, titled “Solid Structures,” advises you to touch objects that should be solid to see if your hand will pass through them.7 Performing this state check throughout the day can help program your mind to do the same while dreaming, and will also heighten your critical thinking skills in waking reality. 

The starry night cards depict archetypal guardians and guides that you may encounter in the dream realms. They often represent subconscious aspects of yourself seeking integration, such as your “Cosmic Self and Inner Child,” and “Animal Guides” whose spiritual powers may benefit you at this time. 

I was eager to dive headfirst into this deck. For my first reading, I drew Card 16, “The Three Worlds” and Card 9, “The Dream World Home Base.” Both of these cards are black cards for lucid dream journeys, and feature locations in the Dreamtime, reminding me of a star map. 

“The Three Worlds” card depicts the three shamanic realms that dreamers can access. In “The Three Worlds” card:

“The dreamer navigates upward through the three worlds—the Underworld, the Middle World, and the Upper World. She has learned how to differentiate and distinguish between these dimensions and has integrated the powerful lessons held in each one.”8

The keywords associated with this card are: “Moving, State of flux, Re-surfacing of old wounds, Power struggles, Survival needs, Internal metamorphoses.”9

Working with “The Three Worlds” card entails me categorizing my dreams according to which shamanic realm they take place in. For example, I’ve noticed that all of my Underworld dreams take place underground, in some sort of catacomb, tomb, cave, or the basement of a large haunted house. According to the “Lucid Living Message” in the guidebook, Underworld dreams “include the resurfacing of psychological wounds that occurred in your childhood. It may be related to ancestral baggage and the need to heal patterns from your lineage.”10

The night before I drew this card I had a vivid Underworld dream. I dreamed I was speaking with my deceased father in a room with earthen walls, which I realized was his grave when I woke up. We were both crying in the dream, and it felt like we were resolving unfinished business between us. 

Middle World dreams are out-of-body experiences and mirror the earth plane. I began experimenting with astral projection when I was around 12 years old. Even though I had lucidity during these experiences, I had difficulty directing where I went and often lost consciousness and fell deeper into sleep. 

My Upper World dreams often involve spirit flights through space. In these vivid dreams, my astral body rockets through the earth’s atmosphere at the speed of thought, visiting the moon and planets both in this solar system and beyond. The most vivid one involved me floating near the rings of Saturn. I had a frightening sense of weightlessness and being suspended in the black void of space without any kind of tether to ground me and guide me back to earth. After reading the guidebook cover to cover, I was amazed to find a card titled “The Void” that describes this experience. I thought it was unique to me but apparently it is common among dreamers to encounter “The Void.” 

Sometimes these Upper World dreams involve me being on earth, but looking up at the sky to see the planets looming larger than life overhead and being drawn down towards me. I have also seen UFOs phasing in and out of the earth plane, revealing themselves to me by flickering like blue holograms. These dreams are frightening, because the veil thins and I become aware that there are alien forces all around us, cloaked so that most people can’t see them. I get the sense that these mysterious vessels are influencing our reality but I can’t discern how or what their intentions are. 

The second card I drew was “Dream World Home Base.” This card advises me to establish a safe and secure home base to ground myself in the ever-shifting dream realms. The guidebook suggests creating a home base through visualization, and locking the entrance so it is only accessible to me. 

This card reminded me of the astral castle I created in my late teens, and still visit on occasion. My favorite space is a reading room in a huge private library, with multiple floors of oak bookshelves and warm sunlight streaming through stained glass windows. There is a cloistered garden outside with a beautiful snow-white peacock that eats out of my hand. I haven’t visited in a while so I’m going to make some improvements and peruse the shelves. 

“If your home base is on another planet,” the guidebook says, “try putting a fingerprint or eye-scanning device on the portal to secure it.”11

The thought had never occurred to me to create my own dream planet as a home base, and I love the idea. Perhaps these cards are telling me that I already have a home base on another world that I may soon discover in my dreams.

I learned so much about dreaming from this comprehensive guidebook. It turns out that many experiences I thought were strange or unique to me are actually common dream experiences that are explored in one of the cards. While I haven’t had a fully lucid dream recently, using this deck has improved my dream recall and motivated me to be more consistent in journaling about my dreams. 

I have noticed that I often achieve a certain degree of lucidity in dreams, even if only for a brief moment of awareness that I am dreaming. For example, if my conscious mind is resistant to what is happening in the dream, I will remind myself to allow the dream’s narrative to unfold organically and witness it, so I can see what message it has for me. I have found that trying too hard to control and shape the dream takes too much psychic energy and exhausts me out of lucidity. I also like the surprises that come through the natural progression of dream sequences. For me, the most important benefit of lucidity is dream recall. I would rather observe the dream with mindful awareness and wake up to write it down rather than try to exert control over what happens and risk losing lucidity. 

The Lucid Dreaming, Lucid Living oracle is a phenomenal tool for mindful dreaming, astral projection, and deepening self-knowledge through shadow work. Both beginning and seasoned lucid dreamers will be inspired by this visually stunning deck and insightful guidebook, which teaches us the value of being present, as we lead double lives in our waking and dreaming realities. 

Are you awake right now? Or are you dreaming?