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Magic for Change, by Cerridwen Greenleaf

Magic for Change: Spells and Rituals for Social Transformation, by Cerridwen Greenleaf
CICO Books, 1800652623, 144 pages, October 2023

When I first started reading Cerridwen Greenleaf’s Magic for Change: Spells and Rituals for Social Transformation, I wasn’t fully sure what to expect. I had read other books with similar themes in the past, so I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the concepts that were going to be introduced; however, I know that there are some methods of discussing social justice and social change from a (very) narrow perspective, so I didn’t necessarily have high hopes that this book would be different.

I was pleasantly surprised. Greenleaf discussed several different manners and topics for activism, including chapters on climate change; peace, which featured not only country-level conflicts but also gun violence as a whole; ending hunger, not only in the world, but also in your local community; witchcraft for feminists; and ways to manifest money and other material gains for the benefit of all. According to Greenleaf:

“This book stems from my years of activism and is based on the magical intention to provide practitioners with the tools, ideas, and inspiration to make this a better world.”1

Out of everything in their book, I was particularly interested in some of the concepts and practices that Greenleaf discusses in their chapter about feminist witchcraft. Their section on Solidarity Shrines was especially interesting to me because I can’t always have an obvious shrine set up in my space; their suggestions for small things to use in place of a full altar that will still attract like minded people motivated me to set up a small Solidarity Shrine of my own! (And if you’re curious, I think it has worked so far; I’ve met several more writer friends both in-person and online, and have even found a local group to go play trivia at bars, which is something I’ve never been able to do before!)

Greenleaf’s discussions about tea were also some of my favorite parts of Magic for Change. I’m a huge tea drinker, so it seemed natural that I would gravitate toward these recipes, especially since I could very easily translate them into my morning or nighttime rituals. Most of the herbal teas that they discussed were equal parts magical and delicious, with their herbal money brew being one of my favorite new recipes that I tried. As to whether I’ve been able to manifest more money, that remains to be seen… but I have found money in unexpected places that I must’ve stored away and forgotten about, so if that counts, then the herbal money brew works quite well!

Throughout the book, Greenleaf’s writing style was very approachable and accessible for all levels of practitioner, from beginners to those who are more advanced in their craft; the content seems to be more geared toward beginners and early-intermediate practitioners, though. If you’ve been practicing witchcraft for years, you most likely will know a lot of the information that they discuss already, though you may not know exactly how to apply it in the context of creating social change, which could make this book an interesting addition to any witch’s bookshelf.

Another aspect of Magic for Change that made the book very accessible to read was the fact that it wasn’t all simply blocks of text; rather, there were a lot of illustrations included, many in what would be considered the borders or margins of the page, but that served to break the text into easily digestible pages.

It seems that they have a very strong understanding of kitchen and home/hearth styles of witchcraft, which is what a majority of this book focuses on; I would have appreciated if they included some material on more diverse forms of magic that could also be used for change, protest, and resistance, but it did not impact my enjoyment of the book in any way. It’s probably just a personal preference, but if you’re like me and something like divination or ancestor worship are at the forefront of your practice, you might find it a little difficult to fully immerse yourself .

I also would not recommend this book for anyone who is unable to practice openly or who doesn’t have any safe spaces to practice, also known as being “in the broom closet.” A lot of the rituals Greenleaf suggests will leave physical evidence or will require the practitioner to acquire supplies that may raise some red flags for nosy individuals in their life.

However, if you’re looking to expand your knowledge of magical practices that can very easily be adapted to activism, Magic for Change would be a good choice. There were a lot of examples of rituals that I had never thought to apply to the context of activism; if you have a coven, this book will give you ideas of how you can all work together to manifest change, but there are also plenty of rituals and ideas for a solo practitioner to develop their craft.

Walking with the Seasons, by Alice Peck

Walking with the Seasons: The Wonder of Being in Step with Nature, by Alice Peck
CICO Books, 9781800652958, 128 pages, February 2024

Now that spring is here, I was really interested in learning more about how to get in tune with the cycles of nature. In her book Walking with the Seasons, Alice Peck provides lots of activities and suggestions for getting out in nature. As I flipped through the book and saw the beautiful photographs and different practices that she shares, I was excited to learn more!

Peck is a writer and editor, having written more than six books on herbs, trees, and meditation, including Tree Wisdom.  She has also edited numerous books on various metaphysical and meditation topics. She lives with her husband in Brooklyn, New York, and photos of New York City figure prominently in this work. You may follow her on Instagram @BeMoreTree.

What I love most about Walking with the Seasons is the structure, which makes it easy to navigate. It’s like a calendar to a year of walking. She starts the book in the Spring, which is the beginning of the astrological New Year and devotes a chapter to each season. The Table of Contents shares the nuggets in each chapter, making it easy to retrace your steps and find the practices or activities that you might want to enjoy later.

I decided to jump right into the chapter on Spring–both the verbiage and the photos had me craving more of the green in nature that is starting to bud and bloom in my area. Peck reminds us that we don’t have to find anything special in nature to benefit from a walk:

“A green space doesn’t have to be a forest or a hiking trail. Seek out the unexpected–even in cities you can find “secret” green spaces like church yards, botanic gardens, or areas near train stations.”1

Did you know that walking in nature for about an hour and a half can lessen depression, stress, and anxiety, as well as quieting negative mind chatter? She goes on to share that a research team from Stanford University confirmed this, as well as stating that spending the same amount of time in areas with concrete and traffic had no impact on depression.2

For one of the exercises in this chapter, Peck invites the reader to walk outdoors for at least 15 minutes a day “in the greenest place you have access to.”3 Do this every day for a week and monitor the changes in your mood.

She also includes what she calls a “Joyful Walking Meditation” and the value of walking with your dog. I particularly enjoyed how she shared the “5 ways of liberation” from the Buddhist path and how dogs embody these qualities: perfect faith, energy or persistence, mindfulness or memory, stillness or concentration, and wisdom. She invites us to “walk with your dog, just as you walk with the seasons.”4

Peck weaves beautiful quotes from thought leaders, athletes, and other dignitaries into the prose and photos, such as this one on trees:

“Trees are literally greater than ourselves … trees connect us directly to the life of more than human nature. -Rupert Sheldrake, Science and Spiritual Practices”5 

Eager to learn more about walking in nature, I turned to the next chapter on Summer. Here I was treated to beautiful photos of beaches, rivers, lakes and ponds, in addition to hiking trails and mountain vistas. The practice that caught my eye utilized the concept of “nowscape.”

“Everything then unfolds, unfolds now and so might be said to unfold in the nowscape. Psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn incorporates the nowscape into a practice he teaches called choiceless awareness or the state of unpremeditated, complete presence without preference, judgment, effort, or compulsion. We can apply this understanding of the nowscape to walking with the seasons. As you wander do not just be with the place you are walking –be the walk itself…. Abide fully in the nowscape.”6

In the chapter on Autumn, I found what may be my favorite story or passage, which was one on grief.  A woman had lost her lover and best friend of 18 years. She was encouraged to go on a hike in the Catskills with a group of people and a grief doula. She shared this about her experience:

“The biggest tragedy of my life had led me to one of the most beautiful days I’d ever experienced. It felt healing, it felt like something positive. Gave me the strength to go on. The forest and the mountains welcome you; they hear you and if you let them in, they can help to heal you, too. – Danielle Davis”7

I was so encouraged by this story and the healing power of nature that I plan to add the suggestion of this practice to my grief work with clients. In fact, this book contains many helpful and healing exercises that I plan to incorporate in my coaching practice.

I love great bibliographies and Peck does not disappoint! She includes four full pages of her reference material for everything from “How much sunshine do I need for enough Vitamin D?” to “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know.”8 She follows the bibliography with a two-page index, which further helps the reader to find information, such as a passage on calorie burning, forest bathing or wishing stones.

She also includes photo credits for all of the beautiful images in the book. I love the flaps she included in this paperback version. The flaps make it easy to mark your place, as you read the prose or peruse the beautiful photos. The book is a nice size to tuck into a handbag or backpack and I can see myself keeping it in the car to re-read while waiting for my granddaughter to get out of school.  Here’s another one of my favorite passages, where she talks about the meaning of walking a labyrinth:

“The labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey of life… a path of self-discovery, a journey into the center of our own hearts. – John Mitchell, Sacred England”

Walking with the Seasons would be enjoyed by just about everyone. I can see someone who is new to meditation benefiting from the practices and tips, as well as a more seasoned meditator.  I can also envision someone who is a gardener or hiker or birdwatcher picking up this book. By utilizing the tips and practices, this person may add another layer to their enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Natural Beauty Recipes, by Karen Gilbert

Natural Beauty Recipes: 35 Step-by-step Projects for Homemade Beauty, by Karen Gilbert
CICO Books, 1800653085, 145 pages, January 2024

This year during my annual holiday shopping at Lush, I decided in 2024 I want to learn how to create my own beauty and skin care products, most especially massage bars. Just a few days after that, I saw the newly released Natural Beauty Recipes: 35 Step-by-step Projects for Homemade Beauty by Karen Gilbert, which I soon discovered is the perfect book to support my new year initiative! This beautifully crafted book has all the information I need to get started, and after reading it, I feel confident and excited about my first projects I’ve planned out.

Gilbert is an expert in the field of natural skincare and fragrance, creating award-winning formulas for Neal Yard Remedies. She currently runs artisan perfumery workshops both locally in the UK and online and has previously published Perfume: The Art and Craft of Fragrance, teaching readers how to train their noses and layer scents to create body products and home fragrance sprays.

Before delving into the projects in Natural Beauty Recipes, Gilbert gives an overview about beauty and skincare overall, sharing the different skin types and a three-step skincare routine to follow and the “do” and “don’ts” of diet necessary to maintain a good complexion. She writes, “You would be surprised how many people with skin problems do not even think about changing their lifestyle, and try to fix them with cosmetic products instead.”1

With this in mind, Gilbert turns towards setting readers up with all they need to know about creating their own recipes, starting with the equipment required, ingredients, preservatives and antioxidants, and information on shelf life. I really enjoyed reading this section because often when I look at the back of a bottle, I have no idea what the ingredients are or why they are necessary, but now I understand better how different parts of the recipe work together.

And, oh my, all the things these ingredients can create is incredible! The recipes are divided into three different chapters, focusing on the face, body, and, finally, bath and shower. For every recipe, Gilbert neatly lists the ingredients and equipment required and provides a full description about the recipe, explaining why the ingredients are used, expected shelf-life, and other alternatives to ingredients or things that can be removed/added, depending upon one’s intended outcome.

She also includes a textbox on how to use the recipe, which, depending on the recipe, makes suggestions such as how long to leave on one’s face, how to prepare the skin for application (cleaning face, dampening skin, etc), or amounts to use (ex. 2 cups of bath salt). Gilbert wants you to have the best outcomes, and it’s clear she’s giving you every little detail to ensure you know not only how your product is created but its most efficient use too.

But do you want to know the absolute best part of this book? The pictures of every step! It is so incredibly helpful to be able to see pictures of each step to make sure I’m doing things correctly. Alongside the photographs, are Gilbert’s step-by-step instructions, which are thorough and fully convey what to expect/what is happening at each increment in the process. There’s also always a picture of the final product too, so you know what you’re making from the get-go.

Other very nifty and useful parts of this book are the glossary and resource section. The glossary defines terms used–the words I’m grateful to now understand when reading product labels! For instance, cocamidopropyl betaine is defined as follows:

“A mild surfactant derived from coconut oil. It is often used to make the product foam more and to improve the viscosity (thickness) in shampoo or shower gel formulations.”2

Then the resource section has lists of virtual workshops and tutorials, further reading (websites and books), website for a lye calculator, and what I find to be most valuable, lists of ingredient suppliers for both the UK and USA. I’m so grateful for Gilbert including these resources because finding reputable ingredients was on the forefront of my mind as I am preparing to start creating my own natural beauty recipes.

Here’s a list of the recipes that I’m most excited to try, which showcase the range of projects Gilbert teaches readers in this book: Rose & red clay cleanser, Lavender & witch hazel skin freshener, Rosehip treatment balm, Argan eye mask, lip balms, Vetiver & vanilla body cream, Shea butter & lemongrass hand softener, Pumice & peppermint foot scrub, Geranium & orange massage bars, Dead Sea detox bathing salts, Skin-softening milk bath, Herbal bath bags, and most of all, Mint-choc bath melts! I can already envision feeling luxurious, fresh, and radiant in 2024 when using these products. (I’ll just have to get my husband to share the excitement, as I have no doubt these ingredients add up quickly in cost! 😀)

All in all, Natural Beauty Recipes is a marvelous resource for those interested in getting started with making their own products. Gilbert gives readers her all; her expertise in fragrance and natural beauty shine through. Whether you’re a novice like me, beginning from step one, or someone who has some experience under their belt, Gilbert’s carefully curated set of recipes is such to delight the senses. I’m really looking forward to doing my first batch of a few of these as soon as my ingredients come in the mail. Until then, I’ll just keep doing my research and referring to this beautiful book for inspiration.

Your Tarot Guide, by Melinda Lee Holm

Your Tarot Guide: Learn to Navigate Life With the Help of the Cards, by Melinda Lee Holm and illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason
CICO Books, 1800652607, 160 pages, October 2023

Does the world really need another guide to reading tarot? Well, if it’s Melinda Lee Holm’s Your Tarot Guide: Learn to Navigate Life With the Help of the Cards, then the answer is absolutely yes! This book is a fresh approach on helping novice and experienced readers use the cards to literally navigate life–imagine a guide to help you through the rough times, the murky times, the times when the path seems unclear.

Holm views the tarot as a “language and a tool,” and guides the reader into using it to navigate “life using tarot as a compass.”1 While applicable to all tarot decks, she uses her two decks, Elemental Power Tarot and Tarot of Tales, as the illustrations in this book. They were both illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason, the illustrator of this book too! What I found interesting is that the imagery in these decks do not include human figures as Holm believes that tarot is for everyone.

Holms reminds the reader that the cards do not foretell the future but rather offer a way to move through your life toward the life you desire. There are no bad cards, she explains, there is only information and conversation, thus removing the fear of using tarot the wrong way or receiving bad messages. Phew! That is a weight off my shoulders, giving me more room to open up and discern the card’s symbolism and meaning instead of becoming bogged down with worry.

The start of the book provides a comprehensive section on tarot basics, where it comes from, how the cards function as a whole, and how to choose and care for your deck. There are accompanying exercises to help you “get acquainted with your new best friend.”2 I loved the friend description of the deck. Yes, a good friend will help guide you through the challenging times, celebrate the good times, be honest without being judgmental and always have your best interests at heart!

For those new to tarot, the descriptions of the major and minor arcana are easy to understand. There is a big, wonderful table that makes it easy to understand correspondences. The major arcana overview includes astrological associations, crystal connections, apothecary associations in the form of essences, herbs, and flowers, and also affirmations. The minor arcana descriptions have association with card numbers as well as elemental correspondences for example, swords/air.

I did the exercises in the beginning section and found them to be a fun, non-intimidating way to connect with the cards. Although I’ve been using tarot for over three decades I enjoyed taking the time to do the exercises such as associating people I knew or famous people, characters from books, etc. with each of the major arcana cards.

I agree with Holm’s recommendations for how to choose a tarot deck, namely use the one you’re drawn to and make sure it has a “tone” that resonates with you. Ensure the images are ones that you welcome into your life. And, use the same deck for a year to allow yourself to open to its messages. She provides marvelous rituals to opening up and caring for the deck as well as keeping a tarot journal – all things that I do. And I love anyone who recommends keeping selenite, one of my favorite mineral cleansers, with the deck. I wish I had this book when I first started using tarot as a guide. 

Also, of particular help to the tarot reader is the questions that she answers that most of us have probably asked at some time or another while using tarot, such as what if someone touches my deck, what if I don’t get the answer I want, why am I getting bad news?

As a good guide, Melinda offers different tarot spreads ranging from a single card to an ambitious twelve card spread. For each spread she posed a different general question and the detailed question that each card would answer. The twelve-card spread was on the year ahead which is one that I have never done. For each group of three cards she referenced them to equinoxes and solstices. I will definitely put some quiet time aside at the end of December to do this spread. 

The majority of the book is Holm’s take on the major and minor arcana. Readers can look up the card they’re curious about and find descriptions that are  easily understandable and unintimidating. Both beginners and experienced readers will benefit from her descriptions of each card because Holm’s explanation brings unique insight.

For each of the Major Arcana she offers comments on the meaning of areas such as love and relationships, career and money, and challenge/reversal. She also associates each card with astrology, a Hebrew letter, a crystal, apothecary, and an affirmation. The first couple descriptions of each Major card vary, however. For The Fool she writes about Practicing Presence, for The Hermit about Seeds of Invention, and for The Moon about Reflections on Reflecting. The questions she poses for each card are not static but rather, prompt reflection.

For the Minor Arcana she describes what each of the four suits corresponds to and what they support. She offers general crystal associations and apothecary associations for each suit. The card descriptions are less probing than those of the Major Arcana but very clear and concise.

I’ve been working with Tarot for over three decades, but to be honest, I’ve always had trouble understanding the Court cards. Actually, I disliked it when I pulled one. I had never received a clear understanding in any guide I read about their meanings. Until now. Melinda descriptions were so relatable to me that now I actually want to draw Court cards!

Rohan Daniel Eason’s striking artwork fills the book. As I mentioned, he illustrated Melinda’s two tarot decks, Elemental Power Tarot and Tarot of Tales, and illustrations from each deck are offered for each of the 78 cards. Just like in those decks, illustrations for this book are the perfect companion to Holm’s text.

This book is filled with vivid imagery that keeps the reader visually engaged while flipping through it. The cover is framed by the tentacles of an octopus framing a rough sea with a pirate ship attempting to get through the storm. Birds serenely watch the scene, not phased by the storm, similar to how readers will feel about life when they read Holm’s take on the tarot. It’s wonderful to see how well the imagery and words bolster each on in this book.

Overall, I highly recommend Your Tarot Guide  for all who are interested in tarot, novice and experienced. Holm’s expertise as an author and experience of creating her own tarot decks  comes forth in this book to provide a guiding light for reading the cards. All that you need to navigate the wisdom of the tarot is held within these pages!

The Book of Nordic Self-Care, by Elisabeth Carlsson

The Book of Nordic Self-Care: Find Peace and Balance Through Seasonal Rituals, Connecting with Nature, Mindfulness Practices, and More, by Elisabeth Carlsson
CICO Books, 9781800652668, 144 pages, October 2023

Beauty, peace, balance, nourishment – this and so much more is what you’ll encounter when you hold The Book of Nordic Self-Care: Find Peace and Balance Through Seasonal Rituals, Connecting with Nature, Mindfulness Practices, and More by Elisabeth Carlsson in your hands. I guarantee you that the experience of engaging with the recommendations and inspiring photographs will seep into your heart and your daily experiences.

Carlsson is a master at bringing to life how to engage in self-care the Nordic way. For those geographically challenged as I sometimes am, the Nordic countries include Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Aland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. These are countries with extreme weather and fluctuations in the amount of sunlight that residents experience annually, yet, “the Nordic countries usually come in the top five happiest countries of the World Happiness Report.”1 

The approach to Nordic self-care moves beyond getting cozy with hygge. Yes, it embraces comfort, serenity, friends, and relaxation. But it expands to a holistic way to find balance in a world that is often out of balance. As Elisabeth writes, “self-care is often about balance…”2. It’s about finding joy in everyday things, nourishing one’s self from the inside out, being mindful about what you put into your body and into your head. The Nordic way of living encourages the individual to feel safe  and if you feel safe, you can thrive.

There are five focuses in the book: natural health and beauty, nourishing food for all seasons, nature and forest, the home and seasonal living, and a balanced life. Encompassed within these sections is all the reader needs to know to embrace the Nordic way of life. There are recipes for food and beauty regimes. There is a knitting pattern for those who are interested in making a Fair Isle pompom hat! Elisabeth writes of nature foraging – and even includes ways to engage in this in the city. Friluftsliv, or free open-air life? There are many ways to experience this.

Carlsson reminds us that balance (lagom in Swedish) is a key. Balance the rat race with encounters with nature, balance the darkness with light, balance the need to do things quickly with a slowed down coffee break with friends. You get the idea.

Choice is another key. Choose to take care of yourself. This is not selfish, it’s life-affirming. Choose to eat seasonally. Choose nature-based products for make-up and lotions. Notice what you feed your body. Be mindful of the habits you do perpetuate. For those who are seeking a simplified way of life, The Book of the Nordic Self becomes a guide.

One of the sections that resonated with me was on dostadning, or the Swedish art of decluttering that has come to be known as Swedish death cleaning. I am learning to embrace dostadning, as I am now “of a certain age” I look around my house and wonder if my daughters will know why I cherish certain items. Do they know the history and significance of these things? At other times I look around and wonder why I still have items in my life that no longer have to do with who I am now. Dostadning encourages one to “imagine someone else having to clear up your house.”3 It’s not really about death and dying but more about you purging your things before it’s left to someone else. You’ll feel lighter and you’ll save friends and loved ones the challenge of a massive clean out. I’ll focus on doing this to feel lighter and uncluttered and table the death part. 

The information in this book is not sugar-coated. Carlsson writes about burnout and the high use of antidepressants in Nordic countries, as well as the Law of Jante, or need to conform or be part of the collective. As she writes, “despite all the benefits of the Nordic countries it’s clear that there are still some things that aren’t perfect, but maybe because of this, we can gain wisdom from how the Nordics manage stress and overwhelm.”4 I appreciate her approach because it introduce readers to the Nordic lifestyle without idealizing it, providing an honest look at the benefits without turning a blind eye to where improvements can be made. 

Additionally, this whole book is very visual, and the photographs are amazing – think Ikea on steroids. I became calm just by looking at them. As someone who has yet to visit the Nordic countries, the photos gave me a better understanding of the area’s aesthetic.

Overall, The Book of Nordic Self-Care is a treasure. I highly recommend that you read this book if you are on a self-care. Exploring the practices of another culture is a great way to gain insight into your own life, bringing inspiration about how you might cultivate more self-care in your life. Allow the messages to seep into your life and I’m certain you’ll feel the warmth of the Nordic culture infusing your soul.

Lunar Tarot, by Jayne Wallace

Lunar Tarot: Manifest your dreams with the energy of the moon and wisdom of the tarot, by Jayne Wallace
CICO books, 1800652658, 64 pages, 78 cards, October 2023

The gentle energy of the moon always soothes and calms me, especially when I’m feeling unsettled or anxious, as it reminds me of the cyclical nature of life. Often while stargazing, I find myself wishing I could bottle up the sense of peace and tranquility of the moon’s lights. While I’ve yet to capture the moon’s rays in a jar, Lunar Tarot by Jayne Wallace has done quite a wonderful job channeling the energy of the moon for me to draw upon for guidance and advice when in need.

Wallace is a naturally-gifted clairvoyant who specializes in intuitive counseling, angel cards, psychometry, and tarot cards. She’s previously published tarot decks, including The Angel Tarot, The Moon & Stars Tarot, The Mythic Goddess Tarot, and The Magical Nordic Tarot.

This deck is similar in design to her others with the name of the card at the top and a keyword or two at the bottom. But the images are unique and fitting for the theme of lunar energy. Wallace writes in the guidebook, “I teach you how to tap into your lunar intuition and capture the power of the Moon when you read the cards.”1

In the colorful guidebook, Wallace offers three spreads: Moon Cycle, Crescent Moon, and The Lunar Clock. Each spread draws upon the divine wisdom of the moon, and Wallace shares the best time in the moon cycle to do the reading. My favorite part of her offered spreads is that she provides a short incarnation for each one to begin the reading.

Wallace provides keywords, meaning, insight into the imagery, a lunar message, and moon mantra for every major arcana card. She provides lots of information about the moon phase featured in the card, often going into the astrological correspondence of the card too. The cards all have the traditional tarot meaning, but Wallace frames her interpretation of the card’s meaning with a gentle, self-reflective energy, prompting readers to question deeper or take necessary action.

For the minor arcana, Wallace goes into detail about the suits and moon phases, describing the relationship between each one. Wands have New Moon energy; Swords have First Quarter Moon energy; Cups have Full Moon Energy, and Pentacles have Third Quarter Moon Energy. Though I am a seasoned tarot reader, seeing the cards through this lens provided new understanding and an opportunity to expand my perception of the cards. Wallace also provides a reference table for the theme of card numbers, regardless of suit, and a helpful paragraph on the significance of court cards.

While the minor arcana cards only have keywords, meaning, and a paragraph-long description of the card’s meaning, with the extra layers of the moon phase and numerology to reflect on too, there’s more than enough to draw upon for insight.

The major arcana cards all have a color palette of blue, greys, and whites, making them feel mysterious like the Moon. Meanwhile, the minor arcana cards are color-coded by suit and simply have the number of symbols representing the suit (i.e. five cups for the Five of Cups). The court cards feature characters with a mixture of skin tones and facial features, making this deck feel very inclusive to all people.

My favorite major arcana card is the Empress. The Empress has a crown of stars above her head, while her stomach is the ripe full moon, which she cradles protectively. The keyword on the card is “Rebirth” and the guidebook reads:

“Look and you will see the evidence and benefits of your recent efforts. New life, beauty, and abundance should abound. You will also want to nurture yourself to try to reclaim your equilibrium.”2

Meanwhile, my favorite minor arcana imagery is Pentacles. The pentacles look like big gold saucers with a star in the middle and jewels around the edges. A big, bright full moon shines in the background of these eye-catching yellow cards.

One thing I really like about this deck is the balance of masculine and feminine energy. The Moon is typically associated with feminine energy, but Wallace does a wonderful job of bringing a soft energy to the traditional masculine cards, such as the Emperor, Hanged Man, and Hermit, which makes them more approachable. For those who have found these energies a bit foreboding, this deck offers a chance to discover a more relatable bond with these cards.

Overall, this beautiful and mesmerizing deck yields readings that feel open-hearted and intuitive. I highly recommend Lunar Tarot for my fellow selenophiles that want to further connect with the spiritual wisdom of the moon. This deck is a good way for those who enjoy tarot to get better acquainted with the moon cycles and tune into guidance that each phase holds. Wallace helps readers to find balance in the ever-changing flow of life, creating opportunities to discover the magic through it all.

Tree Wisdom, by Alice Peck

Tree Wisdom: A Journey of Wisdom, Symbols, Healing, and Renewal, by Alice Peck with illustrations by Melissa Launay
CICO Books, 1800652631, 144 pages, September 2023

Full transparency, I’m a tree hugger. I live on a property that is home to many trees, mostly pine. I hug them, I talk to them constantly. I share my life with them, I ask for their advice. They’ve seen my children grow up, move away, and return with their own children. And today, as I write, the old tree that is in the front of the property, is being cut down. I avoided it for so long, but the majority of the tree is dead and is dropping limbs onto the road that could harm a pedestrian or someone in a car. I made my peace with the tree and thanked it, but I have to admit the grinding of the wood chipper is unnerving. The irony of the fact that it’s being cut down as I write about Tree Wisdom: A Journey of Wisdom, Symbols, Healing, and Renewal, by Alice Peck is not lost on me.

Peck shares a similar love and appreciation of trees. The kernel of the book started with a relationship that she had with a maple tree, one that was a part of her life and amazingly survived Hurricane Sandy. Peck understands the wisdom that trees impart, if we are willing to listen, to engage with and to, as she encourages, be more tree.  As she observes, we all have access to trees, no matter where we live. She shares how trees move and steady her.

The book is divided into four “useful but arbitrary”1 sections: “Roots”, “Branches”, “Leaves”, and “Seeds”. Each section profiles a type of tree accompanied by Melissa Launay’s colorful illustrations. There are also quotes for each profiled tree from a myriad of individuals from Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman philosopher, to poets such as George Marion McClellan and Walt Whitman, and to authors such as Virginia Woolf. Also, for each tree, Peck includes either a suggestion. These suggestions range from how to tree bathe to how to dine on fruits of trees.

The section “Roots” revolves around wisdom, lore, understanding, and, of course, on foundation – our foundations, be they family and/or cultural. She encourages the reader to “consider how we are rooted in time.”2 The interconnectedness of tree systems, whether roots are shallow or run deep, the tenacity of trees to survive. In this section, I particularly liked the profile of Cinnamon and its importance in trade.

The trees in the “Branches” section are associated with symbols, myths, and rituals. Peck shares that for her all trees have meaning, in a general sense and in a very personal way. Many will  develop a relationship with a certain tree or grove of trees that are in their lives; the tree you pass every day, the trees you visit every year on a vacation – all personal.

Healing, science, and practical applications are the focus of the “Leaves” section. Leaves are the most obvious way that most of us use to identify trees. “Just as every tree has a specific leaf identity, many trees heal in a specific way.”3

The “Seeds” section is all about awareness, transformation, and spirituality. “Trees are a lesson in transformation – from a pip and a promise to towering and enduring.” (102) Peck meditates on whether the trees that she sees were planted on purpose or “just the miracle of the wind and weather?”4 She focuses on how trees teach us about hope, transformation, tending to, quiet, solitude and community, healing, and endurance.

“They’re also the way that humans can touch the future. A seed is a promise, a hope, and it’s not just the promise that trees make to us, but the promise that we make to trees – for what’s a tree without the planting, tending, and the protection?”5

The book ends with the profile of the Sequoia, some of which are over 2,000 years old, which was just one of many facts I learned while reading. For instance, I’ll admit to not having known that Frankincense is a tree until I read this book. Its resin is prized and in the New Testament its resin was offered as one of the gifts from the Magi to the baby Jesus. Ayurvedic medicine uses it for healing.

I found myself feeling very zen while flipping through the pages. Launay’s illustrations are bright and colorful, but also convey a sense of calm and stability, just like the towering presence of trees. While Peck shares insights about each tree, Launay captures the tree’s spirit, bringing them to life.

I recommend Tree Wisdom without reservation, and I suggest that you read at least part of it in the company of a tree. The multiple angels Peck approaches our loving tree friends will surely bring inspiration and refreshment to your spirit. Now, I will go to the nursery and select a sapling to plant at the site where my old tree was just felled!

The Book of Norse Magic, by Cerridwen Greenleaf

The Book of Norse Magic: Charms, Incantations and Spells Harnessing the Power of Runes, Ancient Gods and Goddesses, and More, by Cerridwen Greenleaf
CICO Books, 1800651244, 144 pages, September 2022

I’ve always been drawn to runes, believing they are one of the most accurate divination methods, but my lack of knowledge of Norse magic has always made me a bit hesitant to explore this curiosity. While I know the well-known gods and goddesses – Loki, Odin, Freya – I had never taken a deep dive into Norse mythology or background that would give me a foundation for expanding my practice of rune reading.

But when I first picked up The Book of Norse Magic: Charms, Incantations and Spells Harnessing the Power of Runes, Ancient Gods and Goddesses, and More by Cerridwen Greenleaf, I felt my trepidation and anxiety about learning more about Norse mythology, magic, and beliefs melting away, replaced by an excitement that I might have finally found my in to explore Norse magic. Greenleaf has distilled the essentials to open a door for beginners to gain insight into how one can use Norse practice in their own magickal practice.

Divided into six chapters, this book covers different aspects of Norse magic: runes and divination, goddesses and gods, folklore of the forest, crystals and healing, essenes and incenses, and norse astrology. All throughout, there are beautiful graphics and color pages that make the information pop out to the reader. Whether one is looking for a quick spell or hoping to initiate a deep personal transformation, this book provides all that is needed.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much information Greenleaf provided about runes. From helping the reader pick the runes that are right for them (there are different sets spanning from the 2nd to 19th century!) to create a runic blessing bowl and altar, Greenleaf covers all the steps to get started doing readers. In addition to sharing the rune meanings, she also offers different methods of casting the runes, so the reader can discover their own divination style. There’s even information about how to create one’s own rune set! And my favorite part of this section was suggestions for how to use runes magically in one’s daily life through spellwork, candle magic, and creating charms.

The section on Norse legends covered the main gods and goddesses, as well as other spirits, such as Puddlefoot, a nature spirit, fairies, meremaidens, and Nidhogg, the dragon of envy. There’s also rituals for calling down the gods and goddesses, quelling restless spirits, and conjuring spirit guides. While these all are more in-depth magic practices, Greenleaf also includes more light-hearted sections, such as a table to create your own mythical name using dice. Mine turned out to be Queen Amethyst the Enchantress of the Night. Lol!

The section “Folklore Forest” felt really grounding, as it opened with a ritual for earthing, or connecting with Mother Earth. Greenleaf teaches the magical properties of various trees and how to use tree essences and herbal oils. There’s also bath potions (my favorite!), spellwork for prosperity, and guidance on how to create a wand from a tree branch.

Next Greenleaf’s focus switches to crystals, teaching the readers about the legends and magical properties of different crystals and gems. She includes spells for invoking Thor’s thunder and grounding with earth and water. Briefly tapping into lithomancy, Greenleaf shows how crystals can be used for divination and shares the meaning of different crystals. There’s also tons of rituals for a variety of things, including creating healthy habits, boosting your enthusiasm, relaxation, and inspiring creativity.

The following section, “Transformative Essence and Incense” was my favorite because of the recipes and “cozy witch” hygge vibe! Greenleaf writes, “I have incorporated everything I have learned from the wise women in my family and the greater community to which I I belong into my mindfulness regarding home and the creation of sacred space.”1 There’s brewing spells for magical potpourri and teas, DIY self-care blends, and aromatherapy guidance. All of which inspires me to bring a bit of enchantment to my home!

 The final section details how the “Germanic and Nordic pagans of old saw the year as only two seasons-winter and summer”2. Greenleaf includes rituals for Yule (start of winter) and Litha (start of summer), along with information on the nordic lunar system, astrological seasons, energy of the days of week.

I cherish authors who take their expertise, which this absolutely is for Cerridwen Greenleaf who is a scholar and dedicated teacher, to open new pathways for those eager to learn. It could appear this book is only skimming the surface or that the book has a Wiccan spin to it, but I’ve found that by making my way through The Book of Norse Magic and taking the time to do the exercise, spellwork, and recipes, there is potency in the content. I highly recommend it for those looking for a beautiful book to expand their magical cultural knowledge.

Ancestral Magic, by Kirsten Riddle

Ancestral Magic: Empower the here and now with enchanting guidance from your past family history, by Kirsten Riddle
CICO Books, 9781800652613, 144 pages, September 2023

Discovering more about one’s family origins has become increasingly popular as new methods are developed to trace lineage through DNA. Perhaps you’ve done a swab to submit to sites like Ancestry and 23andMe, maybe even met some new relatives! As interesting as the physical aspect of our connection to our ancestors can be, there’s so much that can be explored through the spiritual dimension too. Ancestral Magic: Empower the here and now with enchanting guidance from your past family history by Kirsten Riddle is a perfect place to start your journey of connecting more with the potent magic of your ancestral lineage.

Riddle is a best-selling author of spiritual titles including The Beginner’s Guide to Wicca, Be Your Own Goddess, and Discovering Signs and Symbols. Her intention in writing this book was to provide a starting point for those hoping to learn more about their familiar power through the lens of magic, which is definitely her writing speciality! Ancestral Magic is filled with tons rituals, techniques, and guidance to aid readers in connecting with their ancestors, a process which Riddle notes is “personal and different for everyone”1, in a way that feels resonate for them and their path.

Ancestral Magic is composed of six chapters that I felt like intuitively built upon each other, moving from exploration of the ancestral impact on the reader personally to the reader’s connection with the ancestors to the family as a whole. I found this approach was very grounding because the initial chapters centered me within myself before branching out to explore more of the larger family dynamics, stories, and karma in play.

The style of each chapter is similar with descriptions of magical techniques, “Try This!” rituals and exercises, and pages for journaling your results at the end. There are also meditations included for each chapter. Riddle does a great job of balancing hands-on methods of connecting with ancestors (creating altars, gathering photos, writing out family memoirs) with psychic work (dream intervention, cutting karmic ties, scrying with mirrors). There’s also guidance on how to cultivate one’s ancestral gifts, build self-esteem, switch the narrative around, and other spiritual practices to enhance your own perception of yourself and your family.

One thing I will say is that ancestral magic takes devotion and dedication! To really unpack your ancestral karma, reveal limiting beliefs you’re carrying, or deeply explore your family’s stories takes time. There’s a spirit of reverence that seems to come naturally when doing this spiritual work, which invites you to slow down your pace. Plus, family stuff is very personal, and it can bring up a lot of emotions, which it is important to integrate at your own speed.

Riddle provides enough exercises that I have no doubt one could easily spend months, if not a full year, mindfully exploring their ancestral lineage. Certain sections might take longer to work through than others too. For instance, it took me about a week to set my intention for my ancestral magic, do the meditations, reflect on the questions posed by Riddle, and actually do the “Try This!” exercises in the first chapter, which is focused mostly on the reader themselves. Even when it’s made approachable, fun, and creative as Riddle has done, ancestral magic requires actually doing the work to reap the rewards.

But for those who move through Ancestral Magic, discovering their own inner gifts, discovering and maybe even rewriting their family narrative, doing the shadow work of ancestral karma, and opening to embrace the support of their ancestors, there is so much potential for a positive future! This is magic that offers a lifetime of insight and divine assistance.

Everything culminates perfectly in the final chapter, which was probably my favorite part of the book! This section offers ancestral spells for joy, love, abundance, support, and good fortune and an exercise to find one’s family’s totem, which could be a “a place, an object, or even an animal”2 often featured in the family folklore. Riddle also offers protection techniques, intended to help readers feel watched over and guided by their ancestor at all times, and advice on how to create family mantras and affirmations. I’m planning to reflect more on my family narrative (all the stories we’ve passed down through generations) to discover our totem and write mantras and affirmations that I can share with my family as a holiday present.

Overall, Riddle teaches us that ancestral magic is a fascinating and powerful practice. By tapping into the wisdom and guidance of our ancestors, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. Whether you are just beginning to explore your family history or have been practicing ancestral magic for years, there is much to discover and learn. Ancestral Magic is your guide to unlocking the secrets of your family’s past and use that knowledge to empower your present and future.

Wiccan Teas & Brews, by Cerridwen Greenleaf

Wiccan Teas & Brews: Recipes for Magical Drinks, Essences, and Tinctures, by Cerridwen Greenleaf
CICO Books, 1800652003, 144 pages, March 2023

Wiccan Teas & Brews: Recipes for Magical Drinks, Essences, and Tinctures by Cerridwen Greenleaf is a practical, while still undeniably engaging, book that takes readers on a magical journey into the enchanted realm of tea, blending the worlds of witchcraft and herbalism to create a delightful collection of recipes, rituals, and insights.

From the very beginning, the book immerses readers in the rich history and significance of tea and brewing in Wiccan traditions, weaving together spirituality and healing properties of herbs. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or a novice, the book caters to all experience levels, providing clear instructions and explanations throughout.

The heart of Wiccan Teas and Brews lies in its carefully curated tea recipes, each thoughtfully designed to align with specific intentions, seasons, and rituals. From invigorating morning brews to calming bedtime blends, each recipe is accompanied by its magical correspondences, allowing readers to infuse their teas with intention and purpose. The book goes beyond mere recipes, encouraging readers to explore the art of tea making as a sacred ritual, a way to connect with nature’s elements, and a means of spiritual growth.

The captivating illustrations lend a personal touch, almost as if you’re peering into the private journal of a Wiccan practitioner. One of the book’s most admirable traits is its accessibility. The recipes are clear and straightforward, making them easily understandable, even for those new to blending their own teas. The book offers a delightful array of tea recipes, catering to the simple and readily available ingredients and those that require more effort to find.

Each recipe comes with a detailed list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions, ensuring you can effortlessly recreate these magical potions in the comfort of your home. The book’s logical organization makes it a breeze to locate the information you seek whenever you need it. Greenleaf also provides readers details about the diverse herbs and flowers utilized in the teas, including guidance on cultivation, harvesting timings, and an enjoyable exploration of which herbs align perfectly with each zodiac sign!

In addition to the recipes, the book emphasizes the importance of mindfulness and intention during these ceremonies, creating a space for self-reflection and connection to the natural world.

Overall, Wiccan Teas and Brews is a captivating and irresistible resource for anyone interested in the magical world of Wiccan tea magic. The author’s expertise and genuine love for the subject shine through every page, making it a pleasure to read and an invaluable addition to any witch’s bookshelf.

Enchanting witches with a penchant for exploring the magical realm of tea and curious new seekers alike will find Wiccan Teas and Brews a cherished resource and an absolute essential for their bookshelf. Whether you seek healing, empowerment, or a deeper connection to nature, this book offers a delightful journey into Wiccan tea magic, inviting readers to savor the magic in every sip.