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The Holy Wild Grimoire, by Danielle Dulsky

The Holy Wild Grimoire: A Heathen Handbook of Magick, Spells, and Verses, by Danielle Dulsky
New World Library, 1608688003, 208 pages, September 2022

Earthy, primal, rich, and real – this is how I feel sinking into The Holy Wild Grimoire: A Heathen Handbook of Magic, Spells, and Verses by Danielle Dulsky. In this book, Dulsky has uprooted the underpinnings of harmful ideologies, created through our stories and myths we unconsciously live by according to society’s urging, to bring forth prompts and rituals that invite readers to move through a portal of death and rebirth to fully embrace their own sovereign sorcery within through magical word-craft and reconnect with the Holy Wild. For those ready to lurk in the deeper realm of mystery, potency, and power that come through embodying and rewriting the mythic aspect of the world we live within in order to expand their practice of the craft, this is the book for you!

Hopefully that didn’t all sound too intimidating! All of Dulsky’s brilliant methodology for engaging the reader’s psyche through storytelling, journal prompts, and spellwork to create their own personal grimoire are actually very clearly laid out, making this book accessible to everyone. But be forewarned there’s something about Dulsky’s writing that inspires me to play with words and discover new voices within that have yet to be explored.

The book does read at times like a long-lost ancient tale, where the dialect is just a bit different than you’re used to, as words become poetry vivid with imagery and perfectly strung together to invoke meaningful feeling. This definitely isn’t a straight-forward “how-to” manual for those seeking insight on witchcraft; hardwork and dedication is required to truly reap the rewards of the material presented, leaving room for your own creativity to emerge and guide the way.

“The time to radically revision our place in the world is now. This is the moment in the human tale when hope meets sorrow, when innocences meets wisdom, a climactic union of polarities that is birthing – and will continue to birth – a new, more heathen reality.”1

Moving through medicine the elements of earth, water, air, fire, and ether, The Holy Wild Grimoire guides readers in creating their own book of magic. Dulsky writes, “In the context of this handbook, a grimoire reflects the magick locked in our language, the spells that live and breathe in our words and symbols.”2 Moving through each element, the reader begins to craft the most personal journal of their thoughts, feelings, visions, and intuitions, reshaping their reality, reclaiming pieces of their soul that have been lost, and gaining the courage to shed habits, patterns, and modes of being – skins – that no longer fit who the reader is growing into.

These might seem like lofty goals or mere promises, but I can assure you that by moving through The Holy Wild Grimoire with an open-mind and heartfelt intention, you will notice shifts in how you relate to your own narrative and how your narrative merges with the on-going story of the world, inviting synchronicities, realizations, and connections that previously you may have not had the discerning energetic eye to notice and in the process creating new potential realities.

Each element contains an introduction to its energy medicine, a word-spell, an artful invocation, a story lantern, follow-up questions to the story lantern for reflection, an opening spell and element spells, multiple reflection questions about your experience with the element, writing prompts to attune you to the element’s presence in your life, and prompts to assist you with visioning through the energy of the element. All together this creates twelve journal entries. Then at the end of the chapter is a testament to the element, where the reader (or more like writer once you get going with this book!) goes back through their reflections, presences, and visions for the element to create the thirteenth entry, which become the verses for that element. It really is a beautiful, culminating process once you get to the verses, especially because so much has been put into the prompts to lead you to that point.

After reading this book, and making my way through the grimoire creation over the course of two months, I have a bit of advice. First, though anyone can jump right in, for the best results I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with Dulsky’s other publications, most especially The Holy Wild, which lays out more of a foundation for creating one’s Holy Wild grimoire. The Holy Wild has quite a bit of spellwork in it that some readers might find more practical and grounding. The Holy Wild Grimoire is definitely suited for those who enjoy reading and writing, and if you are someone who doesn’t readily embrace the written word or symbolic imagery, you might feel more comfortable exploring The Holy Wild first to ground this book a bit.

Second, prior to reading this book, I’d also suggest brushing up on your knowledge of archetypes, depth psychology, and the power of myths to fully embrace the content of this book. You may want to familiarize yourself with the work of Carl Jung, Marie-Louise von Franz, and Clarissa Pinkola Estés, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves, another great book for exploring oneself through stories and myth.

Finally, my third recommendation is to move slowly! There is so much packed in each element that it can feel overwhelming at times. Remember that there is no rush; you are not being timed. This process of communion with the Holy Wild will happen in natural timing that is aligned and right for you. You can skip around to different sections, work through an element for months, and only need to do the prompts that call to you. As odd as it sounds, sometimes I’d have to remind myself this isn’t a magical homework assignment, I’m not working towards an “A”, and that it’s intended to be fluid and connected rather than prescriptive and forced.

Sometimes, as I worked through a particularly dense emotion, memory, or experience, I’d put the book down for weeks at a time, not ready to move forward to the next exercise and needing room to breathe and reorient first, allowing what was unfolding to happen on its own without further conscious prompting or trying to rush forward without allowing the proper time needed to acknowledge what was going on and creating space for transformation.

This might not make sense prior to reading The Holy Wild Grimoire, but I have no doubts that if you delve into the work, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. There’s enough content in this book to last the reader years in regard to inner exploration, and the stories and prompts are something one can return to time and time again for one’s responses will surely always be changing. The potency of this book comes through what you’re willing to put in to looking within and exploring the uncharted depths of the Holy Wild.

Even if this seems a bit intimidating, there’s ways to start slowly, such as reading the hand-crafted stories, called story lanterns, Dulsky has written for each element, which are intended to open a new lens for the reader to access answers within through the imagination. I’ve found that a fun way to connect with the stories is to have someone else read them to you, so you can receptively receive their messages, though active reading too has its own merit. Once again, there’s a multitude of ways to play with this book, just like all mythological stories, and limitless wisdom that can be gained through experimentation.

All in all, The Holy Wild Grimoire is an all-in-one creative writing journey for readers to make their own grimoire, filled with personal revelations, visions, reflections, and mythology that is theirs alone. Doing the journal prompts is a deeply fulfilling and insightful process, akin to magical therapy, as the reader delves into the hidden parts of their psyche to discover a hidden richness: their own wild unknown. By connecting to these parts of oneself through the elemental energy, a whole new realm of possibilities emerges, cracking open from within the reader’s spirit to begin composting what’s no longer needed and feel comfortable sitting in the void before shapeshifting into the next vision.

Elemental Power Tarot, by Melinda Lee Holms

Elemental Power Tarot, by Melinda Lee Holms
CICO Books, 978-1782499220, 64 page, 2020


Elemental Power Tarot is a beautiful deck, which uses rustic, muted tones and hand-drawn images to create an earthy look. What is unique about this deck’s approach to the tarot is that none of the cards feature images of people — only inanimate objects and animals are featured in the images.

The author and designer, Melinda Lee Holm, explains in the book accompanying the deck that it is her intention the querent superimposes themself in the images instead of see another person there. So, for example, The Fool card depicts a winding dirt pathway that meanders out off the side of a cliff, as if the querent themself were taking this risk instead of watching it be taken by somebody else. Likewise, the High Priestess, Empress, and Emperor all depict empty, yet appropriately decorated thrones. Meanwhile, the Heirophant depicts a Buddhist meditation shrine on the side of a path.

I quite like this approach as it challenges the querent to truly see themselves in the midst of the situation at hand and not simply as a passive observer. Some of the cards seem to present environmental messages as well — the Death card portraying a bee on a skull and crossbones, and Judgement shows pollution buried underground. Each Major Arcana features both an astrological symbol and a Hebrew glyph to invite the querent towards further insight into the meaning of the card.

However, the only thing I do not like about this deck is that the cards of the Minor Arcana only show the element (Swords, Wands, Cups or Disks) in the amount of the card’s number. There is no scenic image to help discern the meaning of the card. My good friend exclaimed as she picked up the deck that she would not be able to read the cards because she’s trained in the method of reading solely based in intuitively interpreting images. So from this light, this deck is not the best choice for someone who is on the newer side of reading tarot and doesn’t the meanings memorized. Still, the accompanying guidebook is thorough and easy to read, so really anyone willing to take the time can get an accurate reading using this deck.

The book accompanying this deck is actually quite exceptional. Holm starts off with instructions on how to perform a 5-element ritual to welcome the deck into your life and initiate its prophetic power. From there she includes suggestions on phrasing questions in “tarot speak” to get clearer results as well as an intuitive technique she calls “reading the room.” Holm offers her readers 3 different simple spreads to get started: classic 3-card, 5-card and 10-card spreads. The spreads are clear and easy to follow — the 10-card is based on the classic Celtic Cross spread for those who may be familiar.

The book also includes a chart of all the Hebrew glyphs and astrology symbols used on the Major Arcana cards in the deck. This quick-reference chart is something any tarot reader would greatly appreciate, as she side-steps all the esoteric rigamarole and gets right to the point with clear, one word meanings.

In terms of the individual card descriptions, the book offers each card in the deck a symbolic interpretation, a guidance, and a challenge (though it isn’t specified, a querent might favor the challenge if a card is reversed). What is remarkable about this deck is that in the book for each of the Major Arcana cards Holm includes a section called “Apothecary” where she pairs an herb with the card and offers instruction on how to use it.

For example, The Magician: “Cinnamon activates personal magick. Sprinkle it on porridge, boil the sticks to make tea, or use it as a room freshener in potpourri.”1 This was a wonderful addition that helps to connect each reading to the realm of nature, while also learning about the uses of different herbs in energy work.

Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards, by Swan Treasure

Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards, by Swan Treasure
Findhorn Press, 9781644113745, 44 cards, 159 pages, March 2022

I have used many oracle decks since I was first introduced to them three decades ago; some resonate with me and some don’t. However, the Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards by Swan Treasure had an immediate energy to them that I had never before experienced when first introduced to a deck. I had a strong feeling that there were many nature spirits and energies present that seemed to spill out of the box as I held the deck. 

Findhorn is not new to me. I had read quite a few books on this magical place in Scotland and how the nature spirits worked with the ecovillage’s founders Eileen and Peter Caddy and Dorothy Maclean on a barren landscape. With the help and direction of nature spirits beautiful gardens were created which eventually developed into a “planetary village” and the Findhorn Foundation which has a “spiritual lineage of cooperation with the subtle realms.”1

“The land surrounding the Findhorn community is indeed a blessed place, tended by a host of powerful and benevolent spirit forces.”2

Treasure worked with the subtle realms to write and illustrate this deck. The author bio reads:  “Her life is dedicated to raising human consciousness through co-creative spirituality so that we can remember, experience, and awaken the beauty of being fully alive on this planet.”3

The deck was “born” in 2018 at the Co-Creative Spirituality conference at the Findhorn Foundation. The pictures on the deck came through using a “meditative technique called touch-drawing”4 using only the hands and fingernails on tissue paper placed on a board on top of colors.  Spirit beings were invited to participate in the co-creation of the deck.

“The messages that have been received in connection with each of the spirit beings depicted in the cards encourage us to reconnect with our essential nature, to expand our awareness to new realities, to activate our full vital energy, and to engage our power of co-creation with the divine, opening to the joy of partnership with the subtle realms.”5

Each card image represents a spirit made visible to us in an understandable way. 

The deck follows the shamanic medicine wheel and the cards within the wheel can be used as a “tool to access the support and assistance of the spiritual realms both as a path for self-actualization and for divination purposes.”6

Treasure emphasizes patience and time in getting to know the energy of the deck. She recommends at least eight weeks to connect with these subtle realms, to experience the practices of the cards, and to enter the gateways of these energy portals. She also recommends that one asks permission before entering these spaces, with words such as “Am I allowed?”7. Swan also provides  details on consecrating the deck, and how to initiate opening and closing ceremonies when using the deck, all centering on spending time with these energies, not rushing, and extending respect to these guides. 

The deck consists of six sets of seven cards, each set representing a gathering of spirit beings associated with the four directions of the medicine wheel plus the directions of above and below. Within each set of seven there are three “significant” cards: a guardian spirit, a turning point, and a spirit akin to an animal or flower. She offers card layouts and types of readings, including the Shapeshifter Reading, The Essence Reading, and The Chakra Alignment Reading. There is a description for each card that includes a communication from the spirit, a focus, and a practice. 

The card illustrations are subtle and beautifully colored in tones that match the message of the spirit attached to the card. The Blessings card holds the appearance of a figure cloaked in white with what could be branches or hair emanating from the being’s head flowing upward. The predominance of the color green in the card is highlighted with bits of purple, the message being “let your presence be a blessing.”8

This card represents the Angel of Findhorn, who reminds us that we are living miracles. The focus of the card is on laughter, homecoming, and miracles. The practice encourages making drawings of angels and writing on them, “you are loved, I bless you”9 and signing them as the Angel of Findhorn.

The Victory card kept appearing in my work with the deck. Victory comes from the Realm Above with the message that the “warrior within uses resistance to awaken.”10 The colors of the card are various shades of green flecked with yellows, blues, and spots of red. The face of a strong figure predominates.

Victory represents the spirit of inclusivity that encourages one to “quiet down, go within, drop the survival fears that keep you enslaved.”11 The focus is on respect, balance, and contribution. The practice encourages a reflective pause. 

I highly recommend Findhorn Spirit Oracle Cards. I’ve absolutely loved connecting with these cards. This deck has a very powerful elemental energy that results in accurate, heartfelt messages. It’s perfect for the springtime, as the nature spirits are in full bloom. If you do decide to get yourself a copy, I strongly suggest that you take the time to experience all that it offers as it introduces you to the unseen realms that have chosen to work with us.

How to Become a Mermaid, by Elyrria Swann

How to Become a Mermaid: Embodying the Elemental Energy of Water, by Elyrria Swann
Destiny Books, 164411450X, 128 pages, December 2021

I have one main goal for 2022. Are you ready for it? Promise you won’t laugh? It’s to become a mermaid. This has been blossoming for quite some time. I would say it started after I moved to the coast of Southern California, met all the wildlife along the shore, and started cultivating a meaningful relationship with the ocean. Overtime, I accumulated a seashell collection, which is now at nearly 300 different types of seashells, and focused on learning sea magic. I even have mermaid swim training with the tail booked for February at the LA Mermaid School.

When I discovered How to Become a Mermaid: Embodying the Elemental Energy of Water by Elyrria Swann, I was absolutely thrilled to read her perspective on this topic. It hadn’t crossed my mind that there might be a larger mermaid community out there or that I could learn from someone with experience in the mermaid realm. Lucky for me, Swann is the perfect bridge for beginner mermaids with the mermaid realm, teaching them how to cultivate a path to developing their own relationship with the mer-folk and embody the element of water in their daily life.

Swann’s approach to the topic of being a mermaid comes from her own experience, but it is filled with references to the works of others, which guides readers to new sources. It’s whimsical at times, and I would bet that quite a few might be dubious of her experience living as a mermaid, deeply connected to the elemental realm of water and astral realm of mermaids. I’ve always been someone who truly believes in angels, fairies, unicorns, and other mythical creatures, so opening up to Swann’s wisdom about mermaids wasn’t a far leap for me. But for some it might be, and that’s okay.

If a person can’t widen their perspective to include the possibility of mer-folk, then chances are this isn’t the path for them. I intend to review this book for an audience that has an interest in learning more about the topic, rather than try to convince a disbeliever of its merit. This being said, you might not be the right audience for this book if this concept seems far-fetched to you, as Swann doesn’t downplay her experience or restrain her knowledge of the subject to fit neatly into a “normal” lens of reality.

In fact, part of Swann’s reasoning for writing the book is to create a guide for those who feel called to working with the mermaid realm, or are even mermaids themselves, so they are a bit less lost in the world. At the same time, Swann repeatedly cautions readers about energetically connecting with mer-people. She asserts the need for an open heart and pure intention when working with the element of water, as well as knowledge of energetic protection and some preparatory basic skills of energy work.

One of my favorite sections in the whole book is about the mermaid’s energetic protectors in the astral realm: krakens, gorgon medusas, selkies, and hydras. These can become allies or foes, depending on one’s intention for the mermaid realm. Swann shares really interesting stories of engaging with these allies in the astral realm, as well as successful experiences of calling on them for protection in the world.

I enjoyed learning about these astral entities and their protective qualities, though I’m not sure I’d be ready for an alliance or communion with them just yet. Their presence made me more aware that the mermaid realm isn’t all fun and play; there are many energies in the astral that one has to be prepared to encounter, and I am grateful for Swann’s illuminating this.

The greatest change in my perception about mermaids came from Swann’s description of what a mermaid is:

“Mermaids are elemental beings that embody the vibration of water. A simple way to think of it is that they are the personification of the watery element. If water could talk, then it would be a mermaid. The purpose of the mermaid realm is to love and enrich the water element in the spirit world. “1

This definition heightened my awareness of the element of water being the primary aspect of being a mermaid. It might seem rather obvious, but previously I didn’t realize that working with mermaid energy is essentially learning how to engage with the element of water. While this can feel like a daunting task, as anyone who’s ever studied working with the elements can attest to, Swann offers practices to help one get to know their watery mermaid energy.

One example, recommended to be tried in the bathtub, is called “Meditation to Integrate the Spiritual Water Element.” I found this meditation to be quite helpful for discovering my own “unique signature vibration”2, as Swann describes it, of water. She also includes a “Meditation to Enter the Mer-realm” that I am looking forward to doing soon.

I deeply resonated with Swann’s call for mermaids to heal the world’s wounding and find a deeper meaning to this path:


“Donning mermaid tails, owning pet fish, and supporting mermaid merchandise companies is fun and makes life beautiful, but it is not enough. We must become what a mermaid (or merman) is. We must choose love, empathy, and “now” consciousness to be in alignment with a reality where Earth succeeds. We must take physical action when and where we can. Every decision we make can be conscious and rooted in a desire for the good of all.”3

One way that Swann suggests mermaids do this is through learning how to clean up the ocean not only physically, but psychically as well. This was a fascinating concept to me. Though, I have to admit, I tried doing the “psychic clean-up” of the ocean after a storm, where it is known that sewage overflows into the ocean, and I ended up with a sinus infection for two days. I definitely saw Swann’s point about the need for protecting oneself’ while working with the very fluid element of water. I got a feeling that the toxic energy I was trying to clear from the runoff caused a buildup in my sinus cavities.

As a result, I eagerly have been looking into the recommendation Swann provides to study the magical system called Hermetics developed by Franz Bardon in order to strengthen my relationship with water to learn more about on an element level. She describes how Bardon’s Hermetics system teaches about cosmic letters and numbers, which correspond to different elements and elemental properties. Swann writes these cosmic letters and numbers “are vibrations that are accessed through visualization , sound, concentration on imagery and feeling, and oneness with the element it represents.”4

For instance, Swan explains that M is the mastery of the water element. Through meditating on the letter M, people can strengthen their connection to the water element. I think this concept is extremely neat, especially since I love numerology and the correspondence between letters, numbers, and energy. This is yet another technique of Swann’s I plan on exploring.

All in all, How to Become a Mermaid is a wonderful guide for developing a relationship with not only the Mer-realm, but the element of water as well. Swann’s experiences with the mer-realm opens new doors of possibilities for those seeking to establish their own connection. She has lovingly, though with due caution, provided a guide for readers to create their own relationship with mermaids and discover the elemental pathway of water. This book certainly will give you a new perspective on what it means to be a mermaid and how developing the traits of a mermaid can change the world.

Year of the Witch, by Temperance Alden

Year of the Witch: Connecting with Nature’s Seasons through Intuitive Magick, by Temperance Alden
Weiser Books, 9781633411876, 224 pages, 2020

Year of the Witch: Connecting with Nature’s Seasons through Intuitive Magick by Temperance Alden is a charming yet quirky little book.  I say little because the book itself is a comfortable, hand-held size with wide pages and margins roomy for note-taking.  It makes the experience of reading it more pleasurable.  I selected it thinking it would be a guide to practicing with the pagan sabbat days, like Beltane and Yule.  It is, but it takes a meandrous journey getting there.  The author’s thesis is that a witch can customize their experience of “the witch’s year” to be an authentic communion with the Earth and not limited to a conceptual celebration of holidays reflecting seasons that do not align with lived experience in one’s locale. 

For example, the author resides in South Florida, and moved there after living in Montana – so her experience of autumn has varied widely.  She wants witches and people exploring a witchcraft practice to feel empowered to claim their own sacred Earth holidays.  Therefore, her personal annual celebration of seasons includes “Shark Season” and “Avocado Harvest.”. 1

Alden makes it clear from the get-go that her aim is for fledgling witches to develop a connection to the Earth and an appreciation for local nature spirits. She goes into great detail towards what this practice entails, beginning with what I found to be the very best explanation of what intuition is that I’ve ever come by (and a message I very much needed to hear):

“The most common questions asked by those beginning their paths of witchcraft usually boil down to a variation on ‘Am I doing this right?’…. These questions often indicate that someone is going too fast down the path…and trying to run before they learn to walk’…. It is necessary to first learn how to distinguish between the voices of anxiety, ego and intuition…. Intuition is the literal gaining of knowledge without any conscious thinking or reasoning.  Intuition hardly ever comes in the form of an impulse. More often it feels like a lazy afternoon breeze flowing through our lives without any effort.”2

In Chapter 2, “Cycles, Seasons, Death and Rebirth,” she talks about hormonal cycles, the cycle of the seasons, cycles in climate, and astrological cycles as well.  Here, the book takes a sharp and unexpected twist when [TRIGGER WARNING] Alden reveals that she does not believe in climate change and cites some academic sources to back up her point of view!!!  This is not what most readers seeking guidance on how to work with earth-based witchcraft are going to expect, and frankly I don’t know what to say about this.  We are all entitled to our opinion on whether the science supporting the actuality of climate change is accurate, but in this book, her opinion stands out like a big yellow caution sign.  Everything else in this book is wonderful (if not a bit divergent at times), but throwing climate change denial at an unsuspecting reader bites a bit.

From there in Chapter 3, “Elemental Magick,” Alden goes on to explain the elements — earth, air, fire, water and spirit — and their role in magic work. In Chapter 4, “Sheparding the Land,” she comes across as a true eco-activist, insisting that students of her magical-methods make it part of their spiritual work to create ways of reducing their footprint on the earth, such as not using single-use plastic water bottles, and buying seasonal produce from farmers instead of shopping big box grocery stores. 3

My only other criticism of Year of the Witch, is that in Chapter 5, “At the Gates of Witchcraft,” Alden deep dives into a rant about being called a “plastic witch.”  She accuses witches who use this term insultingly as spiritually bypassing their privilege.

“I believe the term plastic witchcraft is twofold in its meaning. First ‘being plastic’ refers to being superficial and fake. Second, [it] refers to using plastic products. However, the term itself is very condescending and shows an aggressive amount of spiritual bypassing. [It] allows for more privileged witches to ridicule and scorn less fortunate witches.” 4

For a moment, I forgot I am a 46-year-old woman reading a spiritual book of my chosen belief-system from the comfort of my favorite armchair, and I was transported into my 16-year-old-self up in my bedroom flipping through the latest issue of Sassy Magazine and reading an essay written by the staff intern who just passed Psych 101 with a B+.  All I have to say about that is I think this book aims at a younger audience….

Finally! After all that drama, and through some delightful ideas about creating altars and building spiritual gardens outside, we get to the end of the book where Alden presents the traditional “year of the witch” and explains the eight sacred sabbaths: Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, and Mabon.  For each holiday she goes into traditional lore and a suggested practice for celebrating.  The chapters are brief, but they are well referenced and offer some fun ideas, such as bread-baking recipes to celebrate the harvest feast at Lughnasadh (also called Lammas).

Alden’s ending conclusion in Year of the Witch is that if you are a witch living in a region with a climate differing from the classical four-season year, you can make your own holidays and create your own personalized “year of the witch” to follow.  Adding to the overall charm, she put in a recipe to make your own Florida Water and also for cascarilla powder in the appendix, along with a calendar of all pagan holidays celebrated in different countries around the world.  Overall, this is a fun book!

Kinesic Magic, by Donald Tyson

Kinesic Magic: Channeling Energy with Postures & Gestures, by Donald Tyson
Llewellyn Publications, 0738764132, 272 pages, August 2020

Integrating our bodies with our magical practice — there’s nothing I love more! But sometimes it’s hard to find a systematic way to do this (aside from watching The Magicians and seeing how the characters use their hands to cast spells, which I absolutely have incorporated into my own workings). I’ve occasionally found books on mudras for the astrological signs, and I am also familiar with the correspondence between body parts and zodiac signs, but never had I discovered a method to blend it all together. This is why I absolutely love Kinesic Magic: Channeling Energy with Postures & Gestures, in which Donald Tyson has created a comprehensive guide that shifts the practice of magic from complex rituals in arcane grimoires to the bare essential of one’s body. The techniques, despite being surprisingly simple, are a powerful way to work the fundamental energies of Western magic.

Tyson is a prolific author and expert in Western occultism. During his studies, he noticed a gap between Eastern and Western practices due to the exclusion of the body in most occult systems in the West. Eastern traditions include the practice of yoga as a method of transforming energy and connecting to energy of the Universe. Therefore, Tyson, who had alluded to how one could use their hands in magical works in his previous book The New Magus 1, decided to create his own system. A reader should be aware this is something Tyson created on his own based on his extensive experience and knowledge, but in no way does this detract from the effectiveness of these practices.

For those of you who may not know, the definition of kinesic is, “the study of body movements, gestures, facial expressions, etc., as a means of communication.” 2 In Kinesic Magic, most of the focus is on body movement and gestures, rather than facial expressions. The first chapter, “The Twenty-Four Postures,” is the fundamental postures used in this system (the rest of the book focuses on hand-gestures). These postures are essentially the foundation of the workings one may be doing, including invoking, banishing, projecting, channeling, binding, and manifesting. Every posture has a hand-drawn image of a man in the posture along with a written description and information on how it can be used.

It’s worth spending time familiarizing yourself with these postures since they are the basis of all the workings in the book. I found it to be quite an informative experience to feel my body in these different postures. Purposely integrating my focus, will, and body was harder than I thought it would be, but with practice, the postures became more intuitive. It took me about a week to learn these foundation postures before continuing on with the book. One could absolutely keep on reading without them memorized, referring back to them when needed, but I wanted to have truly mastered the postures before I went more deeply into the following chapters.

There are three types of hand gestures covered in the book: elemental, planetary, and zodiac. Tyson believes these forces are at the heart of Western occultism and also the first teaching that initiates of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn receive, which is one of the most influential systems of ceremonial magic. Every section is packed with information that offers the reader a thorough overview of these topics, in addition to the gestures of how to work with the energies.

Chapter two, “The Five Elements,” dives into the history of the five elements of the Universe: fire, air, water, earth, and spirit. Discussed is how philosophers Aristotle and Plato perceived the elements, including diagrams and vivid descriptions of the properties of the elements and how they interact with one another. Next, there is an overview of the Medieval medical concept of humours that asserted people’s disposition was dependent upon their dominant element. Then Tyson details the elemental spirits as well and includes workings you can do to connect with them.

This pattern of giving a detailed overview of the topic, going through each energy that has a gesture, then explaining the glyph of the energy is also done in the chapters “The Seven Planets” and “The Twelve Zodiac Signs.” These sections are filled with astrological information, and I found them to be more detailed than many beginner astrology books. I feel everyone will certainly get what they’re seeking due to the multiple angles Tyson uses to educate the reader about these energies, ranging form color and chakra correspondences of the zodiac signs to the works that fall under the domain of each planet. These sections are overflowing with creative ideas on how to work with these energies using postures and gestures, including meditations to simply connect with the energies without any elaborate working.

Though I have to tell you, there are SO MANY innovative workings Tyson offers to the readers. Here are some the ones I’ve personally practiced working: To Channel an Element3, The Planetary Spiral4, Meditation on Mars5, Ruling Planets6, Zodiac Squares7, and Invoking the Birth Sign8. I’ve filled up my notebooks journaling about the experience and meditations that have come from using the technique of working the postures and gestures for these purposes. For instance, using my body and mind to create a connection to the zodiac squares was a whole new perspective in understanding how the energy flows between each sign. It’s very neat to be able to embody these abstract concepts and relate to them through not just the wisdom of our intellect, but the wisdom of our bodies as well.

Overall, Kinesic Magic: Channeling Energy with Posture and Gestures is truly groundbreaking (trust me, I wrote my master’s thesis paper on the use of kinesthetic intelligence as a form of education, and the resources are few and far between on this method of learning). It’s a book brimming with exercises that can greatly enhance one’s magic working by including the body. There is so much information in it, one would be able to dedicate months, possibly even an entire year to experimenting with the workings. This is a must-have for anyone who has an interest in further integrating mind, body, and spirit. Tapping into the body’s wisdom has greatly expanded my awareness of possibility. Plus, all the workings in the book can be done without needing to collect or purchase anything at all. The simplicity is a reminder of the magic inherent within us, especially when we connect our will with our body.

Elemental Magic, by Nigel Pennick

Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working with the Energies of the Natural World, by Nigel Pennick
Destiny Books; 3rd Edition, 1620557587, 144 pages, October 2020

Nigel Pennick’s Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working with the Energies of the Natural World contains multitudes. There is so much depth and wisdom here for you to explore, experiment, and deepen your magic. I am truly blown away by Pennick’s ability to offer eloquent and clear breadth and depth within this slender forest-green handbook. I feel as if I have happened upon an essential tome for my magical practice as a person living through environmental crises. 

The time for this book is right now. Pennick is grounded, both in terms of his clear writing style and in his offering of foundational practices that will benefit both the burgeoning witch and the established practitioner. On the back cover, Pennick is named an authority on ancient belief systems, traditions, runes and geomancy. This book is an impeccable example of that authority. 

Pennick touches on the essential elements of the practicing magical person, and he is able to do so with clarity and brevity. What I loved about this book is that Pennick has taken the esoterica out of the transmission. He communicates accessibly so that we can enter into these practices and rituals. His clarity allows our intimacy with the earth and natural magic to foster the mystical and the ineffable.

This text is truly a practical reference for so many aspects of natural magic. Pennick touches deftly on the fundamentals: “Saturday is dedicated to the Roman god of aging and time, Saturn.”1 and “Fire symbolizes the lightest things of existence, the energy and spirit.”2 If you are a beginner, trust that this handbook is an instructive initiation.  

My favorite chapter, “The Magic of the Land,” surfaces the ensouled landscape. It talks about how “there are certain places in the natural landscape, whose spirit is more likely to be noted by human… they are all holy grounds, at which something intangible but nevertheless, real is present.”3 Reading this book reminded me how deeply woven I am into the fabric of the land, and that my intimacy with the natural world is a place where magic springs.

Elemental Magic can absolutely be read from start to finish. It also invites you to sit down, open to an unexpected page, and discover what awaits you. At one such moment with this book, I found myself reading about the crossroads and the labyrinth. Pennick says “Crossroads are good places to make magical ceremony.”4 He offers that labyrinths “create an anchor energy, their spirit is energized by human activity.”5

This is a book of a multitude of beginnings. Pennick gives you just enough information to pull you in, to spark your curiosity, to get you started in your communion and magick-making. And you get to find out for yourself what the tree, or the stone, or the labyrinth has to offer. It is beautifully constructed for a beginner who craves a broad overview. This book stands as an excellent resource and reference for the more established magical practitioner because it is organized so succinctly. It is organized in chapters that explore the plants, minerals, animals, the land itself.

One of my favorite practices offered was part of the “Magic and Action” chapter on making and charging a magical talisman. I invited a friend into this practice. First, we each created the talisman. We then followed Pennick’s protocol, including working with the astrology of the moment and lunar cycle. Both of us felt not only the pleasure of crafting our own magical tools but also the potency of the spell work.

One of my favorite things about this book is how much it is just a welcome beginning to having your own unique experience. Pennick is impeccable at walking that line between offering you his approach and perspective, promising you the richness of what is to come in your own intimacy with these practices, and truly leaving the space for you to discover the magic for yourself. 

Orienting towards nature is a vibrant and necessary practice so deeply needed in our lives, so often mediated through technology. Elemental Magic allows you to truly see and understand yourself as a part of the more-than-human world. It is an honor to have such easy access to these profound and fundamental principles. This book is light enough to keep with you wherever you go and helpful enough to make the carrying of it worth it. 

In particular, if you are a person of European descent who is seeking ways to reconnect with your lineage, use this book. For me, this book has been a continual reminder to go outside, to enjoy the song of the wind, to make magic exactly where I am, the sun on my skin, rooted in the dirt. 

Astrology for Mystics, by Tayannah Lee McQuillar

Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart, by Tayannah Lee McQuillar
Destiny Books, 1644110515, 176 pages, March 2021

There’s so many lenses through which one can embrace astrology, but my personal favorite has always been a spiritual perspective. Astrology for Mystics: Exploring the Occult Depths of the Water Houses in Your Natal Chart by Tayannah Lee McQuillar is a soulful dive into the element of water in one’s natal chart. By tapping into the healing, mysterious currents of the 4th, 8th, and 12th house, McQuillar takes us on a journey to discover and illuminate the depths of our astrology chart as shown by the sign and planet placements.

I think my favorite part of the entire book was the Introduction, “What is a Mystic?”, most likely because I’ve been pondering this question myself recently. McQuillar’s writing demonstrates such wisdom and insight that it makes it clear her spirituality has emerged through authenticity, originality, and genuineness. I immediately felt both trust and respect for her, which made me feel safely held as I proceeded onward.

“Mystics are the foundation of all religious and spiritual systems in the world. Someone, somewhere, at some time had to be the first to wonder if what she was being told about the divine was true and to seek a direct mystical experience in order to confirm or deny it for herself. Then, from that experience, that person formed ideas regarding the truth or nature of existence.”1

Her assurance that this book is meant to assist one in creating their own “individualized occult philosophy and spiritual regimen, one that doesn’t require you to believe anyone else, follow everyone else, or become someone else”2 greatly put this Aquarian at ease as I dove into the water in my chart.

Honestly, water has always been the element I connected with least, so I was looking forward to hopefully taking my time reading to figure out why and how I could better establish a connection to the energy of these houses in my chart. McQuillar lays a wonderful foundation by sharing a bit about what sets water apart from the elements. From how we can consume it and feel its nourishing effects, to the wide spread healing properties, her writing made me take a moment of pause in gratitude for all the water in the world.

By looking to the role of water in mythology, and sharing with the reader different spirits, gods, goddesses that are related to the water, McQuillar highlights water as the foundation of creation. The origin story of many cultures through time have evolved from a watery abyss, likewise the destruction of civilizations occurs through water when people have forgotten the importance of living in alignment. On that note, I appreciated McQuillar’s words on how our current society is allowing for the sacred waterways to become polluted. She puts forth an impactful call to stop these harmful practices and cherish the water supply here on earth.

For those who may be new to this level of astrological exploration, McQuillar teaches the reader how to look up their own chart and see the houses within it to discover the zodiac sign the house is located within and any planets there. She discusses the glyphs to help the reader know what to look for in their chart, and also gives a little overview of each sign with keywords to get a feel for them.

After this introduction into glyphs and astrological energy, McQuillar goes through the 4th, 8th, and 12th house respectively to give a bit of information about the zodiac sign and planet. First is an introduction to these houses, followed by each zodiac sign in those houses.

For every house, McQuillar focuses on the main themes of that house and explains how the energy in the chart of each sign would come through. For example, the 8th house sections are Sexual Intimacy, Your Elevated Self-Image, Your Secret Power, and Transformation and Endings. Based on which sign their 8th house is located within, the reader can learn more about the specifics of their chart.

Next, McQuillar discusses the specific meaning of each planet, providing information about their zodiac sign ruler and co-ruler as well. She then goes through the 4th, 8th, and 12th house and gives a description of each of the seven planets (thankfully, she included transpersonal planets!) in each one. I found her descriptions to be very illuminating, and reading this book came at a particularly apt time for me personally.

While doing a zodiac meditation earlier this week, I realized that I had immense trouble connecting with my Jupiter in Cancer in the 12th house; I simply could not sense the energy, nor get an intuitive grasp on this area of my chart. Reading the description of Cancer on the 12th house brought to my attention some traits that I didn’t immediately recognize within myself, but in reflection saw how they were in play in my life.

I think with the 12th house especially it’s beneficial to have an “outside” perspective because this can often be one of the tougher spots to see about oneself, as it’s related to our hidden, unconscious self. McQuillar calls this the house of “Unspoken Expectations, Confinement, Karma, Loss, and Self-Sabotage,”3 which can make it a bit difficult to delve into these placements lightly.

Luckily, I felt a bit of an optimistic boost from reading about Jupiter in the 12th house. It reaffirmed the initial connection to my spirituality that I usually always feel, and it also reminded me of the feelings of good will I get from being active in communities where I get to share my spiritual gifts.

This all being said, there were a few descriptions that I didn’t resonate with immediately, such as my Pluto in the 4th house, which implied a violence or abuse in my upbringing. However, I don’t think it diminishes the quality of information being shared, even if it felt like a more textbook description for me. I took McQuillar’s mystic approach of embracing what resonated with me and releasing what did not stick.

Plus, I am aware enough to know that sometimes energy and the meaning of the planets and signs can take time to sink in. Since this book is centered on the water houses specifically, it may take a bit more time to dive into these depths, swim within them, and emerge with a fresh breath of clarity. I would advise readers to have patience in moving through this book and taking the time to really explore their chart house by house using all the wisdom McQuillar has graciously offered.

I highly recommend Astrology for Mystics for those who want a guide for navigating the watery realms of their chart. For astrological novice, this can be a wonderful book to tap into the uncharted energy of the 4th, 8th, and 12th house in their chart. Those with advanced knowledge in astrology are sure to discover something new as well since McQuillar offers her own insight, which is soulful and poignant. It can be so very nice to have a “hand to hold” or a book to anchor us as we take the plunge into the occult depths of our natal charts, and McQuillar perfectly holds that space for us.