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Throwing Bones, Crystals, Stones, and Curios, by Mystic Dylan

Throwing Bones, Crystals, Stones, and Curios: Includes 20 Unique Casting Boards for Divination and Insight, by Mystic Dylan
Weiser Books, 1578638364, 128 pages, April 2024

The art of casting lots, also known as cleromancy, is an ancient practice that involves interpreting patterns formed by throwing bones, stones, and other trinkets. This method of divination has been used by many cultures throughout history as a means of seeking guidance, insight, and answers to important questions. Different types of bones, dice, shells, crystals, or other significant small objects (curios), are used in this practice, each carrying its own symbolic meaning. In Throwing Bones, Crystals, Stones, and Curios, Mystic Dylan provides readers with all they need to know to begin their own cleromancy practice.

Mystic Dylan is a seasoned occultist, skilled in palmistry, tarot, and other mystic arts. He is a professional witch who utilizes his gifts to help others in their personal lives. He currently teaches classes, runs a coven, co-hosts Life’s a Witch podcast, and co-owns III Crows Crossroads online store.1 He also is the co-founder of The Olde World Emporium in Santa Clarita, California. In this book, he draws upon his research and experience to teach readers about different forms of divination, in particular cleromancy.

“Most divination techniques require the reader to interpret different patterns, or to pay attention to the system and base the answers on what it is the reader seeks and feels.”2

Right off the bat, this book caught my eye with the many full-page, color photos. This isn’t a long, text-filled read. All the guidance is direct and to the point, often written out step by step with information shared in bullet points, tables, and lists. The style makes it very easy to absorb Mystic Dylan’s wisdom, while also having an aesthetically pleasing read. The book is nice enough to keep on a coffee table to spark conversation or magical moments when company comes over, though there’s a good chance you’ll also want it nearby your altar once you begin to practice your own hand at casting lots.

The book begins with an overview of divination, including how it even appears in the Bible, but with time was banned and became associated with witchcraft and magic. Mystic Dylan is very encouraging about it being a personal process of finding what works best for one’s own intuitive gifts, noting that not all forms of divination will appeal to each reader. Fortunately, the list provided is broad enough, encompassing divination forms alphabetically ranging from abacomancy (“to read the patterns of dust, dirt, sand, or the ashes of the dead”3) to tasseography (“reading with tea leaves and interpreting their patterns”4). He also offers insight into the types of psychic senses, or the avene which one’s psychic gifts may appear, such as through hearing (clairaudience) or empathy and emotion (clairempathy).

From here, the focus shifts to the specifics of throwing bones and building one’s cleromancy set. Mystic Dylan covers where to store your casting kit, giving the items meaning, noticing position and direction, and many other how-tos to feel confident getting started. While it’s important for the practitioner to build their own meaning, there are lists of commonly associated meanings for certain items, such as ribs being related to protection/withholding, coins being related to money, and seashells being related to feminine energy, emotions, and fertility. This guidance helps readers to be aware of the energies they want to bring into their casting set as they begin to put it together. There’s even a list of types of animal and the associations with their bones. Alligator bones are associated with “strength, determination, protection, and stubbornness”5, while fox bones are associated with “cunning intelligence and diplomacy”6.

Necromancy and scrying are also covered, but in much less detail. There are rituals for protection, connecting with one’s bones through necromancy, and cup reading, along with instructions to make a Venus glass for scrying and doing oil and water scrying. For those who are new to scrying, there’s also a very long list of potential things one might see and the meaning.

There’s also guidance on divination with pendulums, dice, eggs, astrology, runes, and playing cards. For those unfamiliar with astrology, there’s really helpful tables for the planets, houses, and zodiac signs. Only a page or two is offered for each type of divination, but there’s enough information to get started and see if the method suits you. If you are feeling connected to the method, you can always follow up with other sources to learn more.

For me, the best part of the book was the second half which features twenty boards that can be used with your casting set or pendulum for more insight.

“The main purpose of a board during a cleromancy or pendulum reading is to have a reference of possible images, letters, numbers, and symbols that might come up when those specific elements on the board are touched. This adds more detail to a reading and helps us connect with our intuition in a deep way.”7

There’s all types of boards! Some of my favorites are the Druid Circle, Wheel of Fortune, Wishing Star, Venus Vibes, and The Sybil’s Circle. The boards take up a full page, and the book bends enough to fold them down flat and cast right on the book. The key thing is noting which bone, stone, crystal, or curio falls where to blend the meaning of the trinket with the placement on the board. So far, each cast I’ve done has been very insightful. Mystic Dylan notes how it’s important to also notice if a trinket goes off the board, as well as the patterns the cast lands in.

While the first half of the book was quite informative, getting to know the boards requires actually practicing cleromany. It definitely takes a little time to gather the materials, especially if you’re trying to put together a very specific casting set with certain types of bones, stones, crystals, or trinkets. But I suggest starting simply to get a feel for casting lots. Most people have crystals and trinkets laying around, perhaps even shells and stones from time spent in nature. Do your best to not overthink it, and have the courage to work with the boards sooner rather than later. They’re a great tool for beginners getting used to divining the lots cast. And remember you can always begin with a pendulum on the boards first too.

Overall, Throwing Bones, Crystals, Stones, and Curios guides readers on a journey through the mystical art of casting and interpreting symbols to uncover hidden truths and receive guidance from the universe. Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or a curious novice, this book offers a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to enhance your divination practice and connect with the spiritual realm in a meaningful way. Get ready to explore the mysteries of the unseen world and unlock the secrets that lie within the patterns of bones, crystals, stones, and curios as you embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. You’ll find a diverse range of techniques to tap into your intuition and gain deeper insights about what the future holds.

Surfing the Galactic Highways, by Barry Goddard

Surfing the Galactic Highways: Adventures in Divinatory Astrology, by Barry Goddard
Moon Books, 978-1803410104, 216 pages, January 2023

“This book is aimed at anyone who has a little bit of knowledge of astrology upwards. Astrology is one of those subjects that enters your bones, and if it is there, then it is there, however much or however little you know. It is a primordial connection to the sky that many of us feel.”1

The quote above succinctly expresses the intention of Surfing the Galactic Highways: Adventures in Divinatory Astrology by Barry Goddard. The twenty-one (21) chapters cover an expansive and fresh perspective that differs from the usual books on astrology and often a more mechanical approach that forms a less intuitive structure for the reader. The visual appeal draws the reader in simply in the cover art work and the colors used and imagery, which exude a playful approach. It is reminiscent of the required dioramas that we crafted as children in elementary school. 

Lest, this playful first encounter set the tone for frivolity in the content, there is an abundance of practical and very relatable information within the pages of this title. To that point, “Chapter 1: The Power of Astrology” begins with the First Vaccination Chart reflecting the date when Margaret Keenan (UK), received the first dose of the COVID vaccine on December 8th, 2020. Using this as a starting point for the innate power of astrology as a predictive tool grounded in the present celestial events, Goddard creates the fertile space of return to inclusion of a sentient and accessible Universe as a tool of free will and intention…. 

“Astrology enchants the universe in an age when that enchantment has been replaced by the notion of a dead universe, that the universe is just a thing and we are just one more thing in it. We are the first people in history to entirely forget our roots in spirit, in the sense that consciousness is fundamental.”2

As you move through the chapters of this book, there is a sense of being part of an adventure in exploration of the astrological basics versus the academia of the subject matter. “Chapter 2: Keeping it Simple” exemplifies this approach beautifully. Goddard provides the reader and novice with just enough astrological information to make sense of the deeper explorations of the components of astrological practice. 

“I like to keep astrology simple, because it is then easier to remain close to the symbolism. When you are close to the symbolism, when you feel it strongly, it can speak through you. Anyone can learn the set of meanings of the planets and signs and put them together to read a chart. A computer can do that. But that is not astrology, because it is not the gods speaking through you, but the intellect, which needs to be the servant, not the master.”3

This simple approach is sampled in the reading of Barack Obama’s chart – only containing the Sun, Moon and Rising signs. The lesson here is one of using the highlights (Sun, Moon, and Rising) information as the starting points for analysis of an individual chart. The reader is reminded of the deep, albeit for many unconscious, knowing we have of the two largest celestial bodies of reference we have access to directly: the Sun and the Moon. This concept follows the idea of connection and symbolism and allows those very common things to speak through the astrological reading by way of what is already established as a connection to the reader’s ideology of what the Sun and Moon mean to them beyond astrological purposes. 

Goddard provides all of the usual information sought after by those looking to astrology with specific intentions. “Prediction, Political Astrology and Bad Astrology” (Chapter 3), “Relationships” (Chapter 4), “Astrology, Divination and Science” (Chapter 10) and “The Elemental Balance” (Chapter 11) are just a few of the highlights that would satisfy the more traditional approach.  But, the more interesting perspectives can be found in chapters such as these: “Trusting in Death” (Chapter 8), “Tweaking Our Creation Mythologies” (Chapter 12), “The Geography of the Underworld” (Chapter 21) and others that pique the reader’s curiosity about entwining astrological concepts into more expansive areas of consideration. 

Throughout Surfing the Galactic Highways, the underpinnings of a scientific approach to astrology are woven with the mythos of sign and planet and the symbolism becomes one infused with reality and intuitive creativity. Each chapter is primed with visual examples of charts that have been simplified in how much is contained within, allowing the reader to properly digest the concepts presented and create new pathways of understanding that can at a later date be expanded upon. 

Would I Recommend?

In Surfing the Galactic Highways, Goddard has successfully taken some very dry and often challenging principles of astrology and crafted them in such a way that makes them relatable to everyone at all layers of knowledge base. Goddard’s writing style is one that elicits an ease of reading that is similar to that of sitting and discussing a complicated subject with a patient and enthusiastic friend whose only goal is one of wanting to share their passion for that topic. All in all, this book is an excellent resource for those who wish to explore the many uses of astrological application and enjoy the journey of new awakenings. 

About the Author: Barry Goddard

In his twenties and thirties, Goddard was engaged in Buddhist practice, but for the last 25 years the main currents have been astrology and shamanism. He regularly writes blogs and Facebook posts about both shamanism and astrology, to which he brings a fresh and sometimes controversial perspective.

A Beginner’s Guide to Ogham Divination, by Ceri Norman

A Beginner’s Guide to Ogham Divination, by Ceri Norman
Moon Books, 1803410922, 240 pages, December 2022

A Beginner’s Guide to Ogham Divination by Ceri Norman is an excellent resource for anyone interested in exploring the fascinating world of Celtic divination and provides a comprehensive introduction to the ancient Celtic divination system known as Ogham. Norman gives readers a thorough introduction to the ancient Ogham system, touching upon the history of the communication system, and offering practical advice and insights for beginners. Throughout this book, Norman provides readers with a step-by-step approach to understanding and utilizing Ogham for their own divinatory purposes. 

The book begins by explaining the origins of Ogham, tracing its roots back to the early Celtic Druids. It delves into the symbolism and significance of each Ogham symbol, known as a “feda,” which represents a letter of the ancient Celtic alphabet. The author explores the mystical qualities and associations of each feda, allowing readers to develop a deeper understanding of their divinatory meanings. Norman is careful to keep her readers mindful and respectful of the tradition and ancestries associated with Ogham while also allowing space for personal exploration and expression. Ogham has meaning but Ogham is also meant to create meaning for each person.

Norman does a fantastic job of explaining the historical significance of Ogham, making it easy for beginners to grasp the basics while still being thorough and complete in her explanations. This well-structured book starts with the fundamentals and gradually delves deeper into the meanings of each Ogham symbol. The author’s writing style is clear, engaging and makes complex concepts manageable. Though this is truly structured as a book for beginners, I did not find myself bored or irritated by the simplicity, despite not being a true beginner with Ogham. Norman is one of those authors who knows what she knows and also knows how to present her knowledge in an engaging way for a variety of readers.

What really sets this guide apart is its emphasis on practical application. Norman provides step-by-step instructions on various divinatory techniques, such as casting Ogham staves and using Ogham cards. Because of this, readers are encouraged and able to actively engage with the divination process. Throughout the guide, these practical techniques and exercises are presented to help readers connect with the energy of the Ogham symbols and develop their own intuitive abilities. The inclusion of exercises and meditations enhances the learning experience, helping readers develop their intuitive abilities and connect with the ancient Celtic wisdom.

In particular, in Chapter 5 “Divining with the Ogham”, Norman presents twelve different spreads or methods for divination. Most books provide 3-5 of the most well-known or popular. Because of her commitment to authenticity and honor, Norman went far beyond what’s typical for beginner’s guides. She also gives readers Diety correspondences both old and new, letting readers know that “a few are older and come from older mythology such as Bran’s link to the Alder Tree, others are newer and come from more recent folklore, Wicca, the Druid revival, and the like.”1

In fact, Norman is so careful to present all of her information with honesty that she tells readers that some of the information she included about crystals, planets, elementals, and animal correspondences “are all modern modern” and that she feels it is “important for [her] to be honest about that with you.”2

In addition to the divinatory aspects, the guide also explores the spiritual and ancestral aspects of Ogham, emphasizing the importance of connecting with nature, ancestry, and the Celtic traditions. Norman emphasizes the spiritual and ancestral aspects, encouraging readers to cultivate a deep reverence for nature and their Celtic heritage – or, the elements and gifts of the Celts that can be seen across many ancestral heritages. This holistic approach adds depth and meaning to the divination practice, creating and holding space for personal growth and self-reflection at each individual reader’s pace and place along their journey.

Overall, A Beginner’s Guide to Ogham Divination provides a comprehensive, invaluable resource for those intrigued by Celtic divination and seeking to explore the wisdom of the Ogham system. Ceri Norman’s expertise and passion shine through in this well-crafted guide, making it a must-read for anyone interested in delving into the ancient art of Ogham divination, exploring the ancient Celtic wisdom, and utilizing Ogham as a tool for personal insight, guidance, and connection with the spiritual realm. From brand new beginners to those of us who want to reconnect with what we’ve learned and experience it anew, this book is a welcome companion, and a smart traveling partner along the divination journey.

Pagan Portals – The Art of Lithomacy, by Jessica Howard

Pagan Portals – The Art of Lithomancy: Divination with Stones, Crystals, and Charms, by Jessica Howard
Moon Books, 9781789049145, 104 pages, May 2022

A few years back, I had my first lithomancy reading without even realizing it. I sat down with a  woman at a psychic fair reading small pebbles and stones, who then accurately shared insights about my past, present, and future. Even since then I’ve wanted to learn more about this art form, but there was scarce information I could find about it. Therefore, I was absolutely thrilled to discover Pagan Portals – The Art of Lithomancy: Divination with Stones, Crystals, and Charms by Jessica Howard, which has completely sparked my interest in developing my own lithomancy practice.

Howard is an eclectic witch, blending Water, Kitchen, Celtic, and Green Witchcraft into her practice, adding to the well-rounded approach to this topic. She explains to readers how lithomancy is the art of divination done by reading stones, crystals, charms, or even seashells. A caster, who is doing the divination, tosses the stones and then interprets the reading based on where everything falls, noticing patterns, geometric designs, and even the texture of the stones.

“So, what exactly can lithomancy tell us? Like many forms of divination, lithomancy can help us understand our past and our present. It can help us divine the future, uncover ancient knowledge and wisdom, connect with our higher selves, and unlock the secrets of our subconscious.”1

Step-by-step Howard lays out all the reader needs to know to begin their practice, prepare for a reading, and then perform the reading. There are so many little details she covers, such as how to choose your stones, followed by how to cleanse them and later ascribe meaning to each stone. I learned all about how the casting can be done with either a personal stone, imbued with your own energy, or simply by observing the stones that fall closest to the querent.

What I like about Howard’s approach is that she provides the foundation to begin a practice but emphasizes how individualized one’s lithomancy practice will be. She leaves a lot of room for the budding lithomancer to develop their own style, interpretations, and intuitive guidance along the way with just the right amount of support to make one feel confident this is a divination style they can learn to use successfully.

For instance, one of the lithomacy sets described is an “Astrological Correspondence Set” based on the planets. Howard goes through all the planets and provides readers with their keywords and meaning to help discern which stone might be best to use to represent them in a set. She also covers the additional stones included in this set, which are stones for place, love, luck, magic, life, and commitment. As an astrologer, I was fascinated by this set and felt it was one that could bridge my knowledge of astrology with lithomancy. Howard even describes how the diviner could divide the casting circle into houses for further insight – pure genius!

Another section that I found very insightful was the chapter about performing a reading. Howard covers how to cast the stones, the use of casting boundaries (or not, depending on the reading style), and reading with segments, where you divide your casting space into defined areas, such as months, seasons, or past-present-future for more insight. I loved being invited to think about all these little nuances and have options to explore as I develop my practice.

Most helpful to me as a beginner was all the information about interpreting one’s reading. Howard shares a bunch of things to take note of when determining the reading’s message, such as the distance between stones, where they fall in relation to the reader/personal stone, the meaning of various patterns and shapes (ie. square vs. circle vs. straight line), and the stone’s physical characteristics (if a jagged or smooth part of the stone is facing upward, if a pointy edge of the stone is facing a certain direction, etc). Her thoughtful details make the reader feel a lithomancy practice is quite accessible, and this section serves as a great reference when casting one’s stones for the first time.

One of the final chapters, which Howard claims she just had to include due to the good results she’s had with this type of reading, is called “The Chakra Stone Set for Healing”. Just how Howard greatly expanded my perception of what was possible with lithomacy in regard to astrology, she did once more in this section where she teaches how lithomacy can be used in combination with energy work as well. This stone set is really unique in that it has one stone for each chakra, plus one for each element, and a personal stone. She teaches how to read the stones to determine where one should direct their energy or where there is an energy blockage. The mixture of the chakras with the elements yields really interesting insights about how to realign or direct one’s energy, making this a reading that can be done daily for energy attunement.

Overall, Pagan Portals – The Art of Lithomancy is the perfect start to developing one’s own practice. Howard provides the foundation needed to get started while also empowering the reader to trust their intuition to discover for themselves the stone’s messages. After reading this book, I am feeling very inspired and eager to begin creating my own stone sets. There are so many neat directions this form of divination can take that regardless of your magical style you’re bound to find a way that lithomancy can be used to enhance your current practice.

The Creative Pendulum, by Joan Rose Staffen

The Creative Pendulum: Keys to Unlock Your Innovative Spirit, by Joan Rose Staffen
Red Wheel Weiser, 9781578637515, 288 pages, June 2022

The Creative Pendulum: Keys to Unlock Your Innovative Spirit by Joan Rose Staffen got me out of a creative rut in the most fun way. It had been a while since I’d used my pendulum, but after a quick dust-off, I remembered how much insight I used to get from this method of divination. It seems I had forgotten the myriad of possibilities that came from tuning into my higher consciousness in order to figure out what was needed in my life.

Until reading this book though, I had never thought to practically weave together my creativity and work life by dowsing with my pendulum. But Staffen provided me with a marvelous gift of ingenuity in this book that inspired a renewed interest in the pendulum as a divination tool while also relighting my spiritual spark.

I will say right off the bat what I liked most about this book is Staffen’s openness, humor, and willingness to think outside the box that pours through every page. This pendulum technique is so unique and quickly ignites new insights. And I feel this technique works because Staffen has pulled from her life experience to create a method that is practical, creative, and spiritual all in one.

Anecdote after anecdote showcases how Staffen deepned her creative practice and expanded her wisdom through trusting the process. For instance, how she once “spent a year asking God/Goddess for my right, perfect place, opportunity, and company”1 before launching her business venture. Reading her stories is not only amusing, but also reaffirms that we always have the opportunity to try new things, learn, and grow; this has helped her navigate through plenty of career changes and shifts in life circumstances. Through the ups and downs in life, Staffen reminds us that the Muse is always present – all we need to do is tune into the energy at hand.

But even though this book is wonderfully infused with Staffen’s spirit, the focus remains centered on readers expanding their life, overcoming roadblocks, and connecting with their own creativity. Staffen has created Intuitive Creativity Charts that the reader can use their pendulum to gain a deeper understanding of what is being called for in their life right now. The technique she teaches in this book involves dowsing with the pendulum over the Intuitive Creativity Charts for guidance that goes beyond simply “yes/no” answers, the more simple and commonly used method of working with a pendulum.

For those of you who might not know how pendulums work through the process of dowsing, Staffen provides a great description:

“Dowsing has both scientific and mystical elements that help us tap into both our subconscious and super-conscious minds. Using the pendulum can help us to center emotionally and spiritually, and we can more easily open to a meditative state, where we become calm, relaxed, and receptive to the suggestions presented by the pendulum and charts.”2

Chapter two, “Learn to Dowse with the Pendulum,” provides all the information needed to get started, even if you’re completely new to this method of divination. Staffen provides details such as where and when to use one’s pendulum, how to center yourself for accurate results, and what to do if your dowsing isn’t working. She also shares with readers step-by-step instructions for how to dowse, which is very easy to follow along with. As with anything, practice is important, so even if at first you’re a bit skeptical or unsure, I recommend keep going!

Now, while the main premise of the book is teaching readers how to use the Intuitive Creativity Charts, it includes a heap of creative life-coaching. Staffen goes chapter by chapter explaining the significance of each chart, illuminating how it can be used for insight, as well as explaining all of the potential chart pendulum answers to clarify the messages that might come through. But these aren’t static explanations, such as “If your pendulum lands on this then it means xyz..” Rather, it’s almost like Staffen is coaching you through understanding the answers revealed. 

Oftentimes there are exercises to do, like meditations and journal prompts, to ground the insight and find out what it means for you personally. And it’s this delivery from Staffen, focused on process more than result, that makes the book so creatively stimulating. Dowsing with the Intuitive Creative Charts is not meant to be a one-size fits all approach! And I was amazed at all the guidance available using the charts. Staffen has done a great job of charting questions you might not even have ever thought to ask.

There’s a chart for answering questions about one’s creative process (“What literary/performing/visual art should I pursue?” and “What artistic needs do I have?”), timing (“When’s the best time to take action?”), energy work (“How can I clear my chakras?” and “How can I overcome negative beliefs?”), business strategy (“How can I market my art?” and “What is the best income stream for me?”), plus so much more! I honestly have spent hours trying out different charts and am always so surprised by the accuracy of the pendulum responses.

And this guidance is tailored to recognize a multitude of paths, rather than a prescriptive “it has to be this way to work” model, that opens new doorways, especially when one starts to layer and sift through all the insight they’re getting from the perspective of each chart.

Once you’re comfortable with the technique, I’ve found it’s useful to use charts in combination. For instance, I use my pendulum to dowse for questions related to my creative identity and how to improve my income stream. (I try not to ask too many questions at once, even though I want to!) Quickly, I saw how the answers were interrelated and urging me in a new direction.

One really neat thing about The Creative Pendulum is how Staffen shared two chapters on using the pendulum and Intuitive Creativity Charts to coach yourself and others. She offers tips for coaching oneself with a reading and includes two personal assessments worksheets that help you to clarify the issue you’re working on and hone in solutions.

Then there’s also an entire chapter on coaching others by discovering their talents and motivating them to take action. Staffen offers guidance about preparing for a session with clients, along with client assessment forms that can be used when working with them. I so deeply respect Staffen’s choice to so transparently share her Intuitive Creativity Charts method with others and teach them how they can use it to coach others. 

And it gets better – Staffen saved some of the best material for last, such as the chapter “Paint on Your Hands: Art Prompts” that are “fun exercises…to help beginners spark their own brave, intuitive creative within.”3 As a creative at heart that often needs a nudge to indulge, I loved the prompts to draw, create collages, play with finger paints, and more! It got me motivated to actually take out my art supplies and enjoy/explore myself.

In the final chapter, Staffen suggests starting a “creativity cluster” of “like-minded people who want to learn to dowse, journal, and play together!”4 Now I’m certainly wanting to do this, and I’m thinking about starting a Meet-Up group once I relocate next month. 

Overall, The Creative Pendulum has been such a breath of fresh air! I highly recommend this book for those seeking to expand their horizons. When read with curiosity and an open-mind, the possibilities of what you might discover about yourself through the process of dowsing with Staffen’s Intuitive Creativity Charts are endless.

From discovering your creative identity to figuring out what business steps you should take next, this book is useful on so many levels, which opens doors for readers to make their dreams a reality through the aid of their pendulum. It’s certainly a book one can come back to time and time again, whenever you are feeling called to use the guidance of the charts for both yourself and teaching others.

The Wanderer’s Tarot, by Casy Zabala

The Wanderer’s Tarot, by Casey Zabala
Weiser Books, 1578637597, November 2021

There is room for everyone to improve in life, but sometimes we don’t know where to start. The Wanderer’s Tarot by Casey Zabala appears to be an amazing jumping-off point for this particular activity; only time will tell, and I doubt time will prove this observation wrong. Casey Zabala is a creator after my own heart, believing in divination as a means of healing self-discovery and personal empowerment. Her deck, The Wanderer’s Tarot, is a tool I will be keeping in rotation for a long time.

This box is just superb! The design is simple, but the sleek all black design with white text is inviting. The artwork present is barebones, but alluring. The picture on the back made me immediately paw through the cards to see which card art inspired it (it’s the Wanderer of Stones).

The spine is completely blank: there’s no name, no doodles, just black inky nothingness, which I only see as an issue if you display your decks on a shelf of any kind with spines facing out. But then again, you could resolve this issue with a sticky tab or, dare I say, writing on the box yourself! The opening mechanism is a hinge style clam-like lid. Now, I wouldn’t go shaking it about, but it stays quite secure. I would trust this box to protect the cards on the go if you take a deck with you.

Now onto the cards themselves. The card stock is great. They have a good amount of give without feeling thin and aren’t obnoxiously thick, I have small hands so card sizing is very important to me in a deck. If I can’t shuffle the deck, I’m less likely to use it and will then feel bad about neglecting it.

The cards were thankfully held together not by plastic but rather by a simple black paper band that I was able to slide back on after removing if I was careful… up until the point where I stepped on the band like a goofus. Off topic, so let’s get back on track with the edges of these bad boys. They are so shiny! I have in the past gone out of my way to color the edges of some of my other decks, but these cards came pre-treated with a shiny silver, and I am in love to a degree.

On flip through, the cards stuck together much more than usual, and my hands came away with a faint dusting of silver the first few times of handling. This silver is a gorgeous contrast to the solid black background of these cards. The backs lend themselves well to reading reversals. The circle in the middle with lines radiating off of it gives me “light at the end of the tunnel” vibes, and I like that a lot. These cards are a bit wider than your standard deck but it is still very shuffle-able.

Reading with these cards is a bit tricky though. The numbering for both the majors and the minors are not consistently placed, so I find myself looking for the numbers or names on some cards. I do, however, appreciate that the majors don’t use the traditional roman numerals and the minors are denoted by tally marks only.

It makes you think a little when doing a reading, and that’s kind of the whole point of the deck: diving deeper into the mind and self to better your existence. The minor arcana is drawn in a very pip like style which, in my mind, would prove a bit hard for a new reader to understand as there isn’t any of the traditional RWS context images to help them out.

We’re gonna talk about that smell now. This is my biggest problem with this deck. Trying to riffle shuffle them the first time made it more obvious than when just holding it. If smells trigger any issues of yours, let these cards air out. Set them on a window sill or a table spread out for a few days, otherwise you will not have a fun time. Do the same with the box, leave it open before storing them.

Enough tough talk, let’s look at the guidebook. The book isn’t so much a book as it is a pamphlet with quick info on the cards. Zabala makes it pretty clear that we’re supposed to sit with these cards and come up with our own personal meanings and really suss out how these cards make us feel when they come up, rather than treat the guide like it’s some kind of god.

Our major arcana cards get a few keywords apiece, which is pretty standard fare. The minor arcana got an interesting treatment though. The only bits that get any kind of in-depth meaning is the suits and court cards, as they were changed for this deck. Pentacles are now Stones, Swords are Knives, Wands to Feathers, and Cups to Moons. There is a short explanation of each of the suits on their own panel.

But the truly interesting part is how the numbered minor arcana are treated. We get a numerology cheat sheet of sorts that we have to pair with the traits of the suits to get our meaning. The courts are a bit tricky; they feel like their own entity completely divorced from the RWS courts. I couldn’t figure out a one-to-one correspondence, so here they are for you to decide: Philosopher, Goddess, Prophet, and Wanderer. I won’t say anymore on them as I feel you should pick up this deck to sate that curiosity and support the creator yourself.

There is an option to purchase a more in-depth book from their shop for $20 USD. I would suggest picking up the book with this deck, even though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. In the description of the item it says there are spreads, in-depth meanings plus reversals, and a brief history of the tarot in the big book. As of writing this, the full guidebook is out of stock on Zabala’s shop, but here’s a link to the book itself anyway for your viewing pleasure.

The sheer amount of self-reflection I’ve been forced to do with this deck is unreal. From the moment I pulled my first card, it was already reading me to filth. There is a brutal honesty in these cards that most of my other decks also have with me, so I guess that’s just how I get messages best. Tell me straight up — no sugar coating, hit meh!

While I don’t feel any more connected to the wider world around me through the work I’ve done with these cards, I feel more grounded in myself. I’m setting down roots that I need to start reaching for the cosmic truths this deck wants to throw at me. So, if you pick this one up, get ready for a journey cause you’ll be going on one whether you think you want to or not.

The Wanderer’s Tarot holds lessons that I think everyone should hear regardless of how you identify, and I would love to say everyone should pick up a copy, but I can’t. Are you open to looking into yourself? Can you admit to yourself that things need to change and are you capable of enacting those changes? If the answer to any of those questions is “no”, then this is not for you at this time. This change is what the deck wants for me and what it will want for you. It will make you think, it will tell you the same thing as many times as it takes to get you to do something about it. It will fight you FOR you to ensure growth is happening.

Wild Soul Runes, by Lara Veleda Vesta

Wild Soul Runes: Reawakening the Ancestral Feminine, by Lara Veleda Vesta
Weiser Books, 9781578637393, 208 pages, May 2021

Lara Veleda Vesta’s book Wild Soul Runes: Reawakening the Feminine is not just another book that lists the various runes and provides meanings for them. Well, it does, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that this is “just another book” about runes, because it isn’t. This, my friends, is a 33-week course disguised as a book and is almost impossible to put down.

Vesta is an artist, author, storyteller and educator transforming chronic illness into a path of healing and reclaiming. The author and illustrator of The Moon Divas Guidebook and The Moon Divas Oracle, Vesta is currently working toward her PhD in Philosophy and Religion while exploring ancestral connection and disability as initiation. Wild Soul Runes is a journey towards a deeper understanding of runes and their magic, as well as an opportunity to reconnect with ancestral energy while exploring personal sovereignty within the framework of spirituality.

Personally, runes have always both fascinated and bewildered me. I want very much to connect with them but have found it difficult, as there are so many books and courses that provide conflicting information on how to interpret, when to read, and even how to choose a set. Vesta’s book doesn’t provide a set series of steps to follow; instead, she offers “a scaffold, information, recommendations, and a theory based in my own ritual relationship with the runes.”1 How refreshing!

What I love about this book is the sense of inclusion: Vesta believes that all people should have access to runes and their teachings:

“The basis for this practice is the belief that we can all receive direct, divine information. It is not just for a few special people – it is the birthright of all humans. We are so inured to the idea that information must come through specific authorities, we have forgotten how to cultivate our own inner knowing, activate our ancestral magic, and believe in this direct communication.”2

The first section of the book is simply titled “Beginning the Work” and sets out the framework for the teachings. Set over the course of 33 weeks, Vesta recommends working with one rune per week and describes the practice as something that “consists of building a rune altar each week, examining the ancient rune poems, investigating personal translation, employing meditation and sacred art practice, and toning the runes in a rhythm.”3

Vesta also speaks to the importance of a daily ritual and recommends starting with ten minutes a day. She says that this amount of time can expand as needed but starting with a non-negotiable time frame of ten minutes is necessary for consistency. She also acknowledges that working with the runes requires a certain amount of personal alignment and clarifies:

“If you have things in your life that are out of integrity, places where you are not being honest; are resisting change; or are not letting go based on fear, guilt, shame, or another patterned emotion, the runes will seek to clarify your path before deepening into relationship.”4

That gave me pause. When I looked back at the times I tried working with runes, I realized that those were the times in my life where I was struggling to bring an aspect of my life back into balance. In one case, I was working a job that paid well but didn’t fulfill me. I felt heavy each day going into work, and while I was good at my job, I felt empty. Looking back now, it makes sense that the runes would want a safe foundation upon which to build, something I didn’t have at that time.

In writing this book, Vesta felt called to look up certain words to get a sense of what the runes were trying to say. This is partly where some of the confusion comes from across multiple sources of information, as there is no dictionary and the language most of the reference materials are written in does not exist anymore. Vesta explains:

“There is no definitive source that spells it out clearly. We are missing the historical context of the runes, the culture and society from which they came. Our source materials have been mostly rewritten and translated. Those translators – even those with a deep understanding of ancient grammar and culture – still rely on inference and, like so much in translation, judgment. In translation a word may have many meanings, so a translator makes a judgment based sometimes on deep knowledge but other times for poetic purpose or personal interpretation. When we read a translation, especially of an ancient primary source in a language no longer spoken – like Old Anglo-Saxon – we are reading such an interpretation.”5

This book has done a lot to dispel some of the confusion I’ve had around runes and why I’ve felt that they don’t like me. While I haven’t had a chance as yet to go through the 33-week course, I do plan on doing that, as I feel a pull to access some of my deeper ancestral knowledge and recognize this path might be a good way to establish a connection. 

Written in a comfortable, easy to read voice, Vesta has done a great job in making the sometimes confusing and temperamental divination system known as runes more accessible. For me, Wild Soul Runes has opened my eyes to a gentler way to access my personal gnosis and to not take it personally when the runes decide that today isn’t the day to solve every single one of my problems. This book is perfect for someone who seeks to connect to the runes and wants to explore that possibility using a slow-paced, buildable process that empowers as well as educates. 

Pagan Portals – Scrying, by Lucya Starza

Pagan Portals – Scrying: Divination Using Crystals, Mirrors, Water and Fire, by Lucya Starza
Moon Books, 9781789047158, 104 pages, February 2022

Writing about subjective topics such as scrying is not an easy task. There needs to be an innate understanding of the topic as well as a personal link in order for the reader to feel connected to the author. Thankfully, Lucya Starza is no stranger to writing about things that are hard to pin down and define. As the author of quite a few books on such subjects as poppets, candle magic, and others, Starza is well positioned to offer her perspective on scrying in Pagan Portals – Scrying: Divination Using Crystals, Mirrors, Water and Fire.

Scrying has been difficult for me personally, as I just can’t seem to sit still long enough to allow images to form in the crystal ball, to visualize signs within flickering flames, or to see things come forth from the inner depths of a scrying mirror or pool of water. Picking up this book made me a bit nervous; I wondered how I would be able to use the content effectively. Starza says that’s completely normal, as “Scrying requires us to use our psychic senses and intuition to the full. But don’t worry if that seems a tough task, this book will teach you how to do that. It’s also okay to feel nervous at your first attempts.”1

Starza’s writing reminds you of a loving aunt who has tons of advice that actually is helpful. When scrying, she stresses the importance of not reacting immediately to whatever information is picked up and adds that there are things to do before you even think of starting to scry. Foundational advice is always welcome, and Starza offers a few pearls of wisdom in the context of scrying to help the reader understand that what they might see is completely subjective and open to interpretation. She says:

“Often what we see offers insights about ourselves that may help us with the problems we face or what is yet to come. Do not act hastily after scrying. Make notes and think about what you’ve experienced; let the meaning of any visions become clearer with time. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves; thinking about what to do after scrying. Before we even begin there’s some background to understand and preparations to do…”2

This is an important quote because not all books that discuss topics such as this actually delve into the beforehand preparations. They detail a number of pre-done how-to scenarios that aren’t based in the reality of how people might use the information being presented and wash their hands of it. This book does not do that: Starza goes out of her way to ensure that the reader is fully versed in the foundations of scrying before even getting into the art itself. There’s even a gentle suggestion of speaking with a counselor or GP prior to beginning any sort of magical work if there is a concern regarding mental health. Wonderful to read that, as some books don’t mention it at all, and I personally feel it’s vital to offer that caveat when offering esoteric information.

The introduction of the book is full of useful background information that delves into the history of scrying and where it was used. Starza gives full descriptions of various cultures using scrying for their purposes which not only builds credibility in the art but also gives an anchor in terms of who used it and why. Personally, I find that information valuable, and I love introductions, so this was a pleasure to read.

Starza writes with a practiced hand and her prose is easy to understand and approachable. For me, I would rather have a book written in a clear way without extraneous text getting in the way of the information. I have read books where I have felt that the author has fluffed up their sentences and paragraphs in an effort to pad their word count and I can say that I don’t see this here. Starza writes from the heart and it shows in the words chosen and the way the book is laid out.

My favorite chapter is the last one titled “Problem Solving and Frequently Asked Questions” because it clearly telegraphs that Starza knows her audience. She understands that not everything readers want to know will be in the book, (how could it all fit in this slim volume? Impossible.) so she cleverly has a section devoted to everything she couldn’t fit into the rest of the chapters. Brilliant.

The questions in this section include topics such as seeing scary images, how to scry for others, and what to do if you can’t scry no matter how hard you are trying. (I might have flipped to that last one first.) What I love about this chapter is that Starza repeatedly reinforces ethics, mental health, being gentle with yourself, and writing everything down to reflect back on.

These are also basic witchcraft principles that she has woven into this book, and, personally, I love seeing the overlap. Not all who scry identify as witches and not all witches scry, so seeing these cornerstones repeated throughout was refreshing. Starza’s answers to the FAQ’s are thorough and crafted to make the reader feel good about having the question to begin with, something I’ve not seen for some time in books such as these.

Scrying is difficult under the best circumstances, and if you don’t have the right mindset or the right information you can end up being very confused and feeling like you’ve failed. If you are interested at all in scrying or tea leaf readings or any other type of interpretive art this book would be an asset. Not only is it full of useful information on the actual types of readings themselves, there’s also an extensive listing of symbols and colors that relate not only to scrying but also to Tarot and other divination types. I found myself jotting down notes in my personal book on various symbols as Starza’s interpretations seemed more fulsome than some other resource material I have. 

Pick up Pagan Portals – Scrying if you are even remotely interested in scrying. Even if you never see anything in whatever medium you choose to explore in your scrying, you will have a remarkable resource book that can be used across a variety of disciplines.

The Relative Tarot, by Carrie Paris

The Relative Tarot: Your Ancestral Blueprint for Self-Discovery, by Carrie Paris
Weiser Books, 1578637627, 96 pages, 82 cards, November 2021

Ancestry has been a prominent theme for me this November. I’ve taken an ancestral astrology class, while also curating book club questions on Hiero for Badass Ancestors. The Relative Tarot: Your Ancestral Blueprint for Self-Discovery by Carrie Paris came along in perfect harmony with these other happenings. So far, it’s one of the most unique tarot decks that I’ve ever worked with. I’m just loving the bridge it opens between past, present, and future.

And this is exactly what Carrie Paris does best, as her work often allows for divination across the barriers of time and space. She holds a Masters in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination from the University of Kent, UK. Paris also has recently published Generations Oracle with Lisa Bonnice, which uses casting pieces, such as charms and coins based on the Lenormand Oracle, and a pendulum to connect with ancestors.

One of my favorite divination systems created by Paris is the Magpie Oracle, which uses small charms to cast divinations. I’ve always found her approach to divination very out of the box. It’s refreshing to have new ways to connect with spirit, and it’s clear Paris puts a lot of thoughtfulness into her creations.

The methodology for The Relative Tarot is just as unique. Paris asked her readers to send her photographs of their ancestors, and thus this deck was born of their images and stories. Initially, she planned for it to only be Majors and Court cards, but she received so many portraits and requests to be included that she decided to also include the Minor cards as well.

A sturdy box holds the cards. It has a side-flap for easy opening. Right when flipping it open, a mysterious woman with a mask and wings catches the eye, piquing intrigue and igniting curiosity in the reader. The potency of the deck can be felt as a glittering shimmer of magic that is decades old, now recreated to continue to flow through the veins of time.

The cards are absolutely stunning with their golden edges and beautifully crafted imagery. Old photographs are laid over colorful starry backgrounds with traditional tarot symbolism intermixed too. They feel of a different time, and this out of the ordinary sensation heightens the connection to the slip-space in the cracks of time, where intuition shines.

As I look through the cards, I wonder who these people were and what their story was. It’s like discovering a treasure chest of photographs in the attic, enchanted with memories, hopes, and wishes. You can see the personality of all the ancestral relatives on these cards shining through the looks in their eyes.

I am someone who enjoys historical non-fiction books because I enjoy the sensation of putting myself in someone else’s shoes and seeing what their life was like to live. I listen to their story and then integrate it into my own life, filled with the wisdom of those I have taken the time to learn more about. I feel like this deck gives me the ability to do this, only now these relatives are guiding me in regard to my spiritual path and potential future outcomes.

However, The Relative Tarot is not like a usual tarot deck, and as soon as you look at the guidebook you will see this. This deck is intended to help the reader “to create a divine Tarot Blueprint that will illuminate who you are, and what you’re here to do.”1 Paris writes this deck was created to experience your soul’s truth through an ancestral filter, helping one to see how ancestral influence is affecting one’s personal evolution and ancestral line.

Paris uses three types of cards for this ancestral and self-discovery method: Birth Cards, Annual Cards, and Significator Cards. Birth Cards are Major Arcana cards that represent one’s soul expression, including their personality, core ideals, challenges, unconscious urges, and ancestral agenda.2 Annual cards are also Major Arcana cards, but these change each year, offering a glimpse of the energies of the upcoming year, including opportunities for growth and key lessons. Then Significator Cards are Court Cards that connect the reader to their ancestral imprint, showing what might be impacting our choices and behavior.

To make it easy to navigate these calculations, Paris provides detailed instruction on how to find your cards through numerology. Then the Major and Court Cards in the deck are labeled with numbers to make pairing the cards together easier. The bottom left show the Birth Card numerological patterns and the bottom right indicates the corresponding Minor Arcana Cards with that Birth Card pattern.

For example, my Birth Card pattern is Universe, Hanged Man, and Empress. This pattern pairs with all the 3s in the Minor Arcana. However, it goes even deeper than this because within the Birth Card pattern, there can be shadow cards, whose energy is often unconscious or not tapped into.

To be honest, at first I found the entire system a bit confusing. I had to really concentrate and do the calculations and read the guidebook thoroughly for about an hour to start understanding this system. But Paris does a fairly good job of making this complex system approachable for readers. There’s even a Blueprint Review on pages 50-51 of the guidebook that is a fill-in-the-blank page for all the calculations.

In the end, I did get a lot of meaning out of using this process to learn more about my soul’s path and ancestral influences in my life. I think it would be especially helpful if readers also used this deck in combination with Mary K. Greer’s Archetypal Tarot, which focuses in-depth on birth cards. It’s also worth noting, this system is very different from simply doing tarot spreads to learn more about your ancestors, such as the process described in Ancestral Tarot by Nancy Hendrickson.

While this deck is phenomenal in what it offers, readers should be aware that it doesn’t give any descriptions of the tarot cards in the guidebook. For this reason, I recommend it to more experienced readers that are already comfortable with the traditional meanings of each tarot card, in case they want to use the deck to do spreads or read for others.

But it’s for this same reason that I DO recommend it to advanced readers because it’s a deck tailored to a different system of reading that can yield rich insight. Even though it takes a bit of time to learn it, I think once the general meaning of the Birth Card, Annual Card, and Significator Card is understood, this becomes a potent way to connect more deeply to one’s soul purpose, current lessons, and their ancestral line.

One last thing that really impressed me about the deck was how Paris designed it to have 82 cards, and this isn’t because she added new cards. Rather, Paris offers a much-needed option for tarot decks: the choice of three Lovers cards (one male/female, one female/female, and one  male/male). I thought this customization was just lovely to make the deck more inclusive to all relationships. Then Paris also allows readers to decide if they want Strength and Justice in the Major Arcana to be 8 and 11 or 11 and 8, depending on the system of reading they use.

All in all, The Relative Tarot is a really neat deck to add to one’s collection, especially for advanced readers or those interested in learning more about their ancestral line through the cards. The imagery is stunning and the process of reading with these cards is rich and potent with soulful wisdom. Paris has made a timeless deck that moves us into the liminal realm where our ancestors can speak to us and our intuition can be heard; past, present, and future weave together to open a portal for spiritual discovery and integration.

Super Tarot, by Sasha Fenton

Super Tarot: Interpret the Cards Like a Pro, by Sasha Fenton
Hampton Roads Publishing, 164970197, 176 pages, February 2021

Sasha Fenton’s Super Tarot: Interpret the Cards Like a Pro is an instructive paperback that seems to be gaining popularity as I write this! It features a rather encouraging forward, written by Theresa “the Tarot Lady” Reed. There’s not much else to add about the forward, as it is only 2 ½ pages long, but it does complement the rest of the book nicely. I found myself excited to turn the page toward the book’s 1st chapter, even though I already comfortably involve tarot reading in my own personal practices!

Of course, we all can always learn more, and improve our skills for everything we do, but honing my own skills in tarot specifically is why I picked up Super Tarot, and boy, did Sasha Fenton deliver! Fenton, a professional astrologer, palmist, and tarot card reader since 1974,  is also a well established instructive writer on divination, and Super Tarot adds another to the over 100 books in her already massive repertoire. I’m only focusing on one of her books for now, though, and that’s Super Tarot

The very first (honestly refreshing might I add) thing I noticed about this book is the feeling of almost casual friendliness that shone through page after page. Fenton seems more like a friend giving advice than an author telling you what to do. I liked the overall positivity of finding several examples of what you should do as well, rather than seeing the negative counterpart of  teaching what you shouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and value the importance of warning beginners of the potential downsides one may face, but as someone with mental disabilities, having more than one different example helps me to better understand the abstract concepts I can struggle with.

Speaking of several examples of things to do, I learned an interesting spread from this book that I somehow hadn’t come across before. I know I’m no expert on tarot reading myself, but I had already gotten comfortable enough with the Past, Present, and Future spread to not really have many questions of how to advance it, but this book sure did give me an answer that turned out to be something I found Incredibly useful! I was nearly complacent in drawing just one card for each of the elements in the title of the Past, Present, and Future tarot reading, all totaling a count of three cards. From Super Tarot, on page 112, I found a spread that actually involves drawing two cards for each of the past, present, and future elements, totaling in a 6 card spread.

Right then, I put the book down for a few minutes, and picked up my tarot cards! The 6-card spread resulted in a far more accurate, and informative reading than I had ever gotten from pulling just 3 cards, and that might seem obvious, but remember, I was already comfortable with the amount of information I’d gotten with the way I was already doing the Past, Present, and Future spread, so to have even more to work with was amazing to me. I already feel more confident in my own reading abilities by just practicing one exercise from Super Tarot.

Simple as my own discovery may seem, Super Tarot is not geared towards beginners. Fenton forgoes the usual “what is,” and history chapters for only a few beginner tips, and a brief review of the Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, and card suits, before jumping right into her more advanced instructions on interpretation and skill building. If one would like to gain a more comprehensive beginning look at tarot from this author, Fenton herself directs the readers of Super Tarot to a different book of her works: “My book, Fortune Telling By Tarot Cards, is designed for beginners.”1

That doesn’t stop Fenton from continuing her reputation for writing in a clear style that’s easy to understand with Super Tarot, however. This book is filled with comprehensible, useful infographics that depict clear examples as well. While it’s not a new idea, there is still a bit of book mechanics information to note: In the suit’s description of Super Tarot, Fenton uses Pages, and Coins to describe the cards of those ranks. Respectively, other common names used to refer to those cards are Princes/Princesses, and Pentacles.

Overall, and as a person with disabilities that cause me to struggle with the abstract symbolism and emotional concepts that make up the very essence of tarot card reading, Super Tarot has helped me immeasurably. Author Sasha Fenton’s down to earth tone, and clear instructions with different examples to follow them from will stay with me, as I feel more confident than ever in my understanding of the interpretation of tarot card readings.

I enthusiastically recommend Super Tarot to any who might struggle with the same issues I do, or those who simply want to strengthen their grasp on tarot reading for any reason. You might even close the book with the inspiration to offer your own readings as a service for some extra cash! As for me though, the knowledge and confidence I’ve gained by reading this book, has allowed me the motivation to broaden, and personalize  my personal tarot divination practice by creating my own unique card spreads. If you need me, I’ll be shuffling my cards!