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The Jolanda Witch Tarot, by Rosie Bjorkman

The Jolanda Witch Tarot: The Healing Art of Magic, by Rosie Bjorkman and illustrated by Hans Arnold
Findhorn Press, 979888500668, 78 cards, 400 pages, July 2024

I really enjoyed getting to know and working with The Jolanda Witch Tarot by Rosie Bjorkman and Hans Arnold. The symbolism is like the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, although the illustrations are charged with whimsy and fantasy. The guidebook is full of great wisdom, spiritual healing tips, and information on reversals, as well. 

Rosie Bjorkman is a Swedish woman who originally published this deck in Swedish  in 1997. Later, she began to translate the cards and text into English and worked with two different editors to perfect the language. Bjorkman is very well known in Sweden as “Jolanda the Witch” and loves to give tarot readings, workshops, and lectures. She has studied with several Native American tribes in America and a shaman in Siberia. She has also written a book on Shamanism, which is currently only available in Swedish. As a leading expert in “occultism and spirituality,” Bjorkman has also been a kundalini yoga practitioner for over 30 years. She currently lives in Solna, Sweden. You can learn more about Bjorkman on her website.

Hans Arnold (1925-2010) was a gifted artist and illustrator who is well known for his art that blends horror with fantasy and bright colors. Arnold was born in Sursee, Switzerland and moved to Sweden in the 1940’s. He illustrated fairy tales and articles, becoming a favorite in the science fiction community. I was interested to learn the source of this fantastical art that often depicts monsters and found this explanation on a website about Arnold:

“The horror illustrations are said to come from his way of conjuring his own fears. For God, the confinement and childhood in Sursee. It all started when Hans Arnold was a little schoolboy. He then met his first monsters in the form of his teachers at a very strict school. These memories were therefore carried with them later in life.”1

You may be interested to learn that Arnold also illustrated the Greatest Hits album for the Swedish Group ABBA.  For more information and to see examples of his art, visit his website.

The Jolanda Witch Tarot is a standard tarot deck of 78 cards with Major Arcana and Minor Arcana cards. However, there is nothing standard about this deck. By working with Bjorkman, Arnold has created quirky, colorful illustrations of archetypal characters, animal guides, and other symbols from witchcraft and shamanic traditions.

Animal guides is a very general term that encompasses sea creatures, insects, dragons, reptiles, birds, and some mythical creatures from Arnold’s own imagination! For example, the 8 of Swords features eight hornets bearing down on a small family and it is a truly frightening image! The rest of the Swords illustrations feature real swords on each card.

The Wands appear as tree branches, carved totem poles, candles, columns, and other images.  The cups are the same across all cards, while the coins feature many different images or symbols on the coin faces. Minor Arcana cards feature the standard card line-up, except that Page is replaced by Princess and Knight is replaced by Prince.

Within the guidebook, Bjorkman includes astrological signs and/or planets that correspond to each Major Arcana card, as well as a Goddess for most of these cards. Key words are shown for every card in the deck. She includes what she calls “four subsections with the following titles: Herstory, The Art of Magic, Medicine for the Soul and Imagination … In Magic Nation.”2 Bjorkman also weaves in a personal story for some of the Major Arcana cards. For the Minor Arcana, the wisdom is similar, although the sections are shorter. Most of the pip cards include a focal word printed on the card.

I took the deck to my Friday Coffee & Cards group and the ladies loved it!  Several remarked about how the fun and whimsical illustrations softened the blow of the often hard-hitting guidance. One friend wrote to me during the next week and shared how the Sun and Moon Meditation for the 9 of Wands really helped her to “lie low for a while”3 and await a solution to a current situation in her life.  Another friend loved the detailed guidebook and took photos of several card entries.

I utilized the deck for a three-card reading for myself and drew these cards:

  • 9 Wands – Reversed
  • 8 Swords
  • Princess Coins – Reversed

Using Bjorkman’s beautiful guidance as a framework, I created the following journal prompts and affirmations for my personal reading:

How am I NOT using my strengths nor acting on ideas for my business? How am I distracting myself? 

I am relaxing into my success by changing distracting thoughts and focusing on my strengths. I am in the perfect position for this next chapter of my life!

This deck is an average size and is just a little larger than I like for shuffling with my small hands.  The cards are printed on nice cardstock that will stand up to repeated use. The cards and guidebook come inside a heavy-duty box with a fold over, magnetic flap. Bjorkman includes a table of contents with page numbers for each card, an introduction to the cards, a note about her own magical practices and information on how the book is structured. She also includes a Bibliography of books and online references.

My favorite card in the deck is the 9 of Wands. It features a female archer on the back of a horse who is jumping over nine animal totems. She is poised ready to shoot one arrow, while her quiver holds an arrow of the sun and one of the moon. I love her confidence and the keyword: Strength. 

Anyone with a basic knowledge of tarot and Rider-Waite-Smith symbolism will enjoy The Jolanda Witch Tarot.  The guidebook is so large and comprehensive that a novice reader may be put off by the sheer amount of information. On the other hand, a new reader could easily use this as a type of “tarot bible” for studying the myth and lore of the symbols, as well as the stories of the goddesses Bjorkman includes. Anyone interested in Shamanism will also enjoy this deck.  The “medicine,” tips and tools that the creator shares are so helpful to anyone wanting to establish a daily spiritual practice.  Bjorkman leaves us with this affirmation at the end of the guidebook:

“I love and respect myself in all my aspects. Others love me just the way I am, and those who do not love me do not know me!”4

The Easy Way to Learn Astrology, by Alison Chester-Lambert

The Easy Way to Learn Astrology: How to Read Your Birth Chart, by Alison Chester-Lambert
Findhorn Press, 9798888500392, 175 pages, June 2024

As a student of astrology for almost twenty years, I was interested to learn about Alison Chester-Lambert’s teaching style and process, which she calls The Easy Way to Learn Astrology.  Within six chapters, Chester-Lambert breaks down the complex topic of astrology and offers the reader access to a Facebook group and YouTube videos for additional learning aids.

Chester-Lambert first became interested in astrology after reading Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs in the 1970s. She studied astrology at the Faculty of Astrology in London, as well as The Center for Psychological Astrology at Regents College. Later, she earned a master’s degree and took advanced studies in psychology, astrology, and astronomy. After working for over two years with a live, call-in horoscope service, she relocated from London to Tamsworth and began writing columns, doing readings, and teaching. She has founded and runs the Midlands School of Astrology and travels and lectures all over the world.  Chester-Lambert has written three other books and published two decks of cards.  You can learn more about her at her website.

After a brief introduction of polarities, including masculine/feminine, Chester-Lambert presents one of the most complete charts of the zodiac signs I have ever encountered.  In one, easy-to-read table, she shares the yin and yang of the signs, as well as how the elements of fire, earth, air, and water interplay with the twelve signs. She also talks briefly about sun signs and how well-known astrologers and published horoscopes focus on this one aspect of the natal chart:  

“So, what does Sun Sign mean? Before I answer that, I must explain that we have more than one astrology. Many astrologies. Plural. Lots of them.”1

Chester-Lambert goes on to say that each person has a natal chart with twelve houses and twelve signs and that to understand astrology, you may want to focus on more than just your sun sign. This is an important distinction since you will “want to know the psychological meaning of each of the signs and houses…. Just in case you were tempted to go straight to the signs you know and ignore the rest, let me explain that we all have every sign in our birth charts.”2

Next, Chester-Lambert takes us through the four elements of fire, earth, air, and water. She provides keywords for the four elements and then goes into each element, including the three zodiac signs that hold that energy. She then takes us on a deep dive into each zodiac sign and we learn the psychological components, qualities, and characteristics of each sign.

However, I want to point out that she goes into much more depth for each of the four elements than any other book or instructor I’ve encountered. It’s so interesting and I can see how this knowledge forms the foundation for your true understanding of astrology and the natal wheel. She spends almost 100 pages on the elements and signs.

In the last part of her book, Chester-Lambert shares the modalities (cardinal, fixed, and mutable), does a brief review of the elements, and then discusses the importance of opposite signs on the natal chart. She follows this with a discussion of the houses and how the zodiac signs travel around the wheel in counterclockwise fashion, always in the same order. I love how she relates each house to an element and a modality and provides a chart for visual reference.

Each chapter, as well as groups of related chapters, end with a review of the materia– just as you would do in a class. It is so helpful! She also gives a sample reading that is based on a woman’s query. Then she discussed The Cross, which is comprised of the AC (Rising Sign), DC (Descendant), MC (Midheaven) and IC (Imum Coeli) and the importance of the four quadrants that the cross designates. Lastly, she provides us with another sample reading of a birth chart, before telling us that we are now ready to read our own chart.

Chester-Lambert adds resources for creating your own chart online, a complete bibliography, and a detailed Index. Not only does she refer the reader to a website for getting a natal chart, but she also gives detailed instructions for creating the custom chart.  Very few authors do this.

The Easy Way to Learn Astrology would be perfect for anyone who wants to study astrology, from the total newbie to a more seasoned student. I learned so much more about the psychological qualities of each element and sign, as well as the qualities of the houses on the natal wheel. I plan to take a fresh look at my natal chart and review each sign, element, and house.  The information I learned about fire signs alone has given me new clues as to why I act the way I do and how to support myself and my energy levels. I will also share this new information with my clients.

Words That Free You, by Jacques Martel

Words That Free You: What You Say Is What You Become, by Jacques Martel
Findhorn Press, 9781644119624, 128 pages, January 2024

In his life-altering book, Words That Free You: What You Say Is What You Become, Jacques Martel provides the reader with a primer to rewire your brain and connect with your heart for a more abundant life.

As a psychologist and trainer, Martel has been a leader in the personal development field for more than 35 years. In addition to his education in engineering, Martel has trained in Reiki and Reconnection Therapy. He has also created his own healing modality, which he calls ITHT (Integration Through the Heart Technique). Martel has written several other books and travels around the world teaching and lecturing. He resides in Quebec, Canada. You can learn more about him at his website.

Although this book is small, it is packed with many helpful tools and tips for living a more abundant and positive life. I have recently become more aware of the thoughts that come into my head and the words I speak. I picked up this book to see how I could make changes to both aspects. On the first page of the book, Martel shares that he often makes suggestions in his seminars regarding the words that participants use and the reasons for making such changes. After being asked several times to create a book of these tips, he decided to do so.

“The purpose of this book is to provide simple means for changing my language to gain more freedom, wisdom, and love in my life.”1

Martel discusses consciousness, how the brain works, and the power of intention in order to introduce the reader to his subject matter. He does a great job explaining the difference between the conscious brain and the subconscious brain. He advises the reader:

“It is vital to know that my brain cannot tell the difference between what is: 

  • Real 
  • Imaginary 
  • Virtual 
  • Symbolic”2

Touching on how the brain processes homonyms, Martel shares several stores about the different meanings of words that sound the same to the brain. Interestingly, he shares examples from his native French and English! Later, he discusses the “Power of using ‘I’ in positive thoughts,”3 and provides 60 examples of such thoughts.

For many of the positive thoughts, Martel inserts the ♥ symbol, which is his way of marking passages for which he recommends “moving from my head toward my heart, which then leads to a healing in love or to the reinforcement of a positive attitude.”4 He has sprinkled the heart symbol throughout the book.

Words That Free Youis very well structured. It includes a complete contents section that allows you to go back to chapters for further review. Each right-hand page is marked with the chapter title at the top of the page, which is very helpful, as well. There are also many tables and lists, which are so helpful for pulling out the important content. Martel also includes a conclusion section, where he wraps up the book and refers to how others have used the information from his seminars through the years. Then he adds a list of books for further reading and includes books in both English and his native French.

My favorite chapter in the book is the one entitled “The Power of Saying ‘I Know’ Instead of ‘I Think’ or ‘I Believe.’” Martel provides realistic examples of how this works in life and how he addresses naysayers in his seminars:

“We clearly understand that ‘I know’ doesn’t mean that in our physical reality ‘I know’ 100 percent of everything I say and do, but in so doing I open myself to the likelihood that this will show up more quickly in my physical consciousness, and I thus become more aware of my connection to the Soul that I am, who does KNOW EVERYTHING.”5

He also includes testimonials from students and apprentices who have used this tip and how it has changed their lives. 

I especially enjoyed the Table of Negative and Positive Expressions. Martel begins with a comprehensive list of phrases that are negative or pessimistic. In his words, these are: “Negatively slanted sentences or common expressions that manifest the dark side.”6 Examples are: “It’s a pain” or “It’s terrible.”7

Next, he has a list of phrases or sentences that “bring in the light.”8 Here, he shares uplifting replacements such as “Life is great” and “It’s brilliant.”9 I’d like to point out that he has four pages of negative expressions and six pages of positive ones! He also has a chapter on the importance of mantras and another on the benefits of chanting.  

I really enjoyed Words That Free You. Its small size hides its brilliance and the truth and wisdom that Martel shares. I will enjoy using the various tips, tools, and tables as I work to change my thoughts and words to create a better life for myself.

Anyone who is interested in consciousness and becoming more aware of the impact of words and thoughts will benefit from this book. It is written in a conversational style that is easy to comprehend. The various testimonials that Martel shares show how impactful his seminars are and are a testament to his legacy as a thought leader.

Healing through Sound, by Vickie Dodd

Healing through Sound: Awakening Your Audible Body, by Vickie Dodd
Findhorn Press, 979-8888500316, 176 pages, April 2024

“Our purpose in sounding is to be restored to our essence, which is liquid.”1

In Healing through Sound: Awakening Your Audible Body, Vickie Dodd presents us with her “sounding” practice, which she has been exploring and developing for over 50 years. As a young girl growing up in a rural town in the United States, Dodd realized that her perceptions of the world seemed to include a lot more than the people around her. She experienced a dazzling array of colors and emotional impressions stemming from other people and the natural world.

Although these experiences were fairly overwhelming at first, young Vickie began to experiment with how using the sounds of her voice could shape and alter these experiences. At only 5 years old, Dodd took her first steps in learning about natural healing from elders in her community, also recognizing how modern medical treatment often appeared to result in further illness. Gradually, her experience and curiosity about how sound may affect the mind, body, and spirit blossomed into a unique healing practice: one which seeks to dissolve emotional energy which has been trapped and stored in the tissues of our bodies.

Healing through Sound is a practical guide for readers to discover and develop the suite of “formulas” essential to this healing art. Dodd repeatedly emphasizes the idea that we should treat the body as a laboratory in which we are constantly practicing our sounding, and experimenting with how various formulas affect us. From the very start, this book comes across as a “try it yourself” book, with several exercises presented in each of the nine chapters. She keeps the core of each exercise simple, providing a bulleted list of guidance and advice, while leaving plenty of room for experimentation. Whether it’s finding your Signature Hum, attuning you to the basic resonance of your body, or layering dissonant frequencies that open you up to the depths of shadow work, Dodd provides a whole toolkit that covers everything from the fundamentals to more advanced work.

The fundamental premise at the core of Dodd’s practice is that frequencies of sound (and even color!) can change the arrangement and behavior of the body’s constituents, even down to the molecular level. The human body is composed of over 70% water, and when our liquid medium is unable to flow easily, this can manifest in psycho-physical-spiritual ills. As the sound/color frequencies loosen the bodily aspect of this healing process takes hold, deep-seated emotions, trauma, and memories that may be stored in the body’s tissues are freed to flow, change, and be let go. A simple analogy is debris in a stream: at a blockage site, more and more debris will build up and the stream may eventually stagnate.

But loosening the body’s tissues is only the surface level of Dodd’s practice: the real key is listening to what arises from the sounding. She often says that the sounding itself is the teacher: unlike modern medical practices where the healer has a specific outcome, a sounding practice is responsive to the present state of the patient’s body-mind-spirit. It’s often not until after a sounding session is complete that the participants really understand what aspect of the patient needed healing. For example, one of Dodd’s patients said that a sounding recreated the folk melodies of his home country (completely unknown to Dodd), opening him up to the realization and release of the homesickness, feeling which had been completely buried in his unconscious.

Using the formulas of sounding creates the conditions so that both practitioner and patient (which may be one and the same) become quiet enough to hear the subtle layers of the human being. But Dodd is explicit that sounding “formulas” are anything but formulaic, since they are always responsive to what’s coming up in the present moment: “mixtures of listening, observing, asking permission, noticing rhythms, timings, shapes, colors, breath, messages from all parts of the body, as well as all our various archetypes, and ages that are encased in this garment called a body.”2 This is one of the fascinating aspects of Dodd’s approach: sounding can touch and affect us at so many levels and modalities, and yet the healing and formulas in any given session may be completely unique!

In many ways, sounding is a true healing art in the fullest sense – a practice which cannot be reduced to any of its constituent parts, nor can any session be simply prescribed to “fix” this or that ailment. This is brought out nowhere more clearly than one of the final examples of the book, where Dodd presented her work at an international academic conference. Although she’d been uncharacteristically nervous about discussing her work in front of so many distinguished scientists, she spontaneously performed a sounding/prayer for the entire conference. This had the visible effect of increasing camaraderie, even evoking tears, among the conference attendees (and we all know how stiff academics can be!).

Not only did Dodd inspire and surprise this conference with her healing art, she also received affirmation and support from the academic community. Dr. Tu, a liaison between China and the Dalai Lama, explained that her practice reflects deep truths found throughout Chinese philosophy, medicine, and science. What’s more, as Dr. Tu translated Dodd’s ideas into more scientific vernacular, many of the conference attendees also affirmed her ideas with respect to their own fields.

Although I would’ve loved to read more about Dr. Tu’s response, the conference was in 1999, before the days when everyone had a video camera in their pocket, so it was not recorded. As a reader who likes to see scientific explanations meshed with the wisdom and practices more intimately connected with (our) nature, this was one of the few areas of Healing through Sound which was lacking. In several places throughout the book, even the basic idea of how sound loosens and lubricates the body’s molecular structures, Dodd appeals to scientific ideas with little discussion of the scientific sources themselves. But readers should also recognize that Dodd in no way intends to provide a comprehensive scientific or theoretical explanation of her practice. This could certainly be an area to expand upon in a future book, or for those in scientific fields to help corroborate the effects of sounding.

Overall, I would enthusiastically recommend Healing through Sound to anyone who wishes to begin or expand their body work practice. I love that Dodd’s methods are incredibly accessible, even for a complete novice – all you need is the sound of your own voice and the willingness to experiment and to listen. Because there is no set outcome or predetermined goal of most sounding exercises, the potential to discover what your mind-body-spirit really needs to heal is ever present. By cultivating receptivity through sounding, the practitioner can avoid the ways our mind can mis-frame or fixate on a certain solution to a perceived problem. And if you’re already an energy / body worker, so much the better, as sounding has great potential to be adapted to and augment your prior practices!

Oralce of the Birds, by Jeanne Roland and Petra Kühne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sage, Huntress, Lover, Queen, by Mara Banscombe

Sage, Huntress, Lover, Queen: Access Your Power and Creativity through Sacred Female Archetypes, by Mara Banscombe
Findhorn Press, 978-1644117934, 256 pages, July 2023

Sage, Huntress, Lover, Queen: Access Your Power and Creativity through Sacred Female Archetypes by Mara Banscombe has managed to bring a balance of self-reflection and immediate application to the mysteries of the Sacred Feminine. Reaching deeply into the core of what the nature of the sacred is, Branscombe has crafted a book that allows the reader to feel the power held within these mysteries. All the while, she coalesces what is truly soul-searching work into actions and thought processes that are accessible and resonant at every level for any reader.

This book has the structure of seven feminine archetypes: the Maiden, Mother, Sage, Huntress, Lover, Mystic and Queen. Each archetype has been given secondary assignations that are easily recognizable and immediately bring to mind visual experience of how these archetypes might appear in physical form.  

Branscombe describes the Maiden as the Underworld Explorer using the familiarity of the story of Persephone as template for that journey.

“To embody the Maiden archetype is to reclaim creativity, gather courage, restore faith in your biggest dreams, and live with a lust for life.”1

The Mother is the Earth Matrix that knows how to protect, guide, sustain, and create.

“The embodied Mother greets her masculine spark to enhance her feminine frequency. Embracing her inner child, she discovers the world with an awakened vision, choosing love over comparison, acceptance over judgment.”2

The Sage is the Water Healer gathering her power from the flow of deep waters of gnosis and wisdom.

“The Sage flows with change, while staying present to her evolving intuitive process.  She cultivates a peaceful inner life while sharing her visionary’s wisdom with the world. The sage does not sleep her life into being. Like the healing hands of the grandmother, she gathers her current materials and weaves them into her cloak of knowledge.”3

The Huntress is the Fire Generator that catalyzes and becomes the path towards right action.

“The embodied Huntress has the true spirit of the warrior and empowers herself and others to live life to the fullest. Her life purpose is fueled by her devotion to be in service to her impassioned cause. The Huntress teaches us how to ignite our true essence and share it unapologetically with the world.”4

The Lover is the Air Alchemist who teaches the lessons of self-love and acceptance to cultivate healthy and strong relationships at all levels of being.

“The Lover understands that self-awareness is her superpower inside any relationship. Her boundaries are clear, either refined or porous as needed. She is wild at heart and stays true to her mission; to source the pure frequency of love while going as deep into the realms of intimacy as possible in this lifetime.5

The Mystic is the Ethereal Time Traveler who remains rooted and anchored in corporeal existence because this is the path to cosmic understanding.

“The feminine Mystic’s power is expansive. Energy can be sensed within, above, below and all around. She uses this information to respond to her soul’s calling. Paying close attention to the sacred experiences coming alive in this human body is the work of the Mystic.6

And, The Queen as the Universal Thought Weaver who commands ultimate authority over self through experience and indomitable self-awareness and confidence.

“The Queen embodies wholeness. She is a clear channel of refined inner strength. She is both movement and stillness, wisdom and inquiry, surrender and activation.”7

This book is thoughtfully separated into eight chapters, a robust Introduction (“Evoking the Divine Feminine Way”), and “Revealing the Archetypes and Appendix: Rituals and Wisdom Practices to Embody the Archetypes”, which indexes the rituals throughout the book for quick reference. I really liked this addition of indexing and thought there was an abundance of opportunity in using it as a checklist, of sorts, to mark the highlights of your journey through the archetypes. 

Each of the chapters provides the reader with a bounty of information and techniques of approach and awakening the specific archetype of focus within the reader. Branscombe takes the reader through informed step-by-step creative practices, guided visualizations, rituals, and poetry to help the reader embody each archetype and activate a life of fulfillment and happiness

The journal prompts were spot on for each of the archetype chapters and rather than a one size fits all approach to the other self-directed work to be completed, each chapter contained just the right combination of foci and intention to really push the reader to examine more deeply and thus, effect change more deeply.

I was particularly drawn to “Chapter 6 – Awakening the Mystic: Truth Seeker, Vision Holder, Divine Space Explorer”. Typically, the term “Mystic” has been associated with spiritual practice that aligned more with Eastern philosophies and applications. The image of the Mystic has been that of one who has hermited themselves away from the world and immerses totally in the Divine. These are true, but Branscombe has also brought that term into Western practice and more specifically as an archetype of the sacred feminine. The first portion of this chapter answers quite nicely who the mystic is:

“Anchored to the earth and attuned to her inner voice, the feminine Mystic embodies an otherworldly, enigmatic presence. Drawn to the numinous, spirited, and ethereal frequencies, she imbibes the natural magic and shares it freely with the world…The modern Mystic trusts the power of Divine timing. She embodies a heightened awareness to what happens in the natural world and to the ordinary synchronicities in everyday life… The Mystic walks the earth sharing her gifts with all sentient beings while tuning in to the realm of the skies.”8

One of the underpinnings of this chapter, that I would say also is true of other archetypes and development of their potential, is that of illusion that can be found on any spiritual path, particularly one of self-growth.

“Go beyond the smoke and mirrors of certain spiritual practices. Be aware when you are following a spiritual teacher to fit into a mold or generate a false sense of security.”9

Would I Recommend?

Sage, Huntress, Lover, Queen: Access Your Power and Creativity through Sacred Female Archetypes is a treasure of accessible and inspirational content. Throughout the book the reader will find little gems of poem and inspired verse from Banscombe that provide yet another way of engaging those archetypes within self.  This book is a rich and self-empowering and deeply immersive journey into the many facets of power and expression that we hold as sentient beings. Reading this book is an opportunity for reclaiming of these archetypes that have inspired and catalyzed transformative change throughout the evolution of the feminine and HER mysteries. 

About the Author: Mara Branscombe

Mara Branscombe is an author, mother, yogi, artist, teacher, mindfulness leader, ceremonialist, and spiritual coach. Her mission is to amplify wellness and creativity while supporting others to live their best life. She is passionate about weaving the art of mindfulness, self-care, creativity, mind-body practices, and earth-based rituals into her life and work. Mara has been teaching and leading ceremony since 2000.

Shamanic Dreaming, by Carol Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Healing Power of the Sun, by Richard Hobday

The Healing Power of the Sun: A Comprehensive Guide to Sunlight as Medicine, by Richard Hobday
Findhorn Press, 164411402X, 224 pages, December 2021

Who doesn’t love the feeling of warm sunshine shining down on them? I know I certainly do! Whether it’s during a warm summer afternoon or a chilly winter’s day as I quickly make my way indoors, the sun never fails to bring a moment of happiness to my day. But until I read The Healing Power of the Sun: A Comprehensive Guide to Sunlight as Medicine by Richard Hobday, I had no idea the extent to which the sun affects our health and well-being. This illuminating book gave me a whole new perspective on sunlight and the many benefits spending time in its rays can have on my daily life.

In the introduction, Hobday immediately addressed the hyper-focus on the sun’s negative effect on the body: skin cancer. He notes that modern medicine is obsessed with the damage sunlight can have on skin, while neglecting the many other ailments that sunlight prevents, including “breast cancer; colon cancer; prostate cancer; ovarian cancer; heart disease; multiple sclerosis; and osteoporosis.”1 Instantly, I was intrigued by these bold claims–can sunlight really prevent these diseases? Luckily, Hobday provides ample scientific evidence to support his position.

There are a myriad of topics covered throughout the book, but all bolster the main thesis that sunlight is a natural form of medicine. Topics in the first chapter, “Your Body and Mind in the Sun” include the importance of vitamin D and how it can reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, melanin and different skin types, how sunlight can impact blood and promote growth. Hobday also talks about the psychological importance of the sun, such as regulation of hormonal and biochemical processes, as well as seasonal affective disorder.

With the foundation for the benefits of sunlight laid out clearly, Hobday then explores the how humanity has greatly decreased the amount of time spent in sunlight:

“We can now work, rest, play, shop and travel in an artificial environment, and have very little direct contact with the outside world. One consequence of all this is that, for many of us, sunlight plays only a small part in our daily lives. It can be quite instructive to sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and work out just how much time you spend indoors each week. Some estimates put the average figure at about 90 percent…”2

Personally, I despise sitting in doors all day and intentionally try to spend as much time outside as possible, but if I’m being honest, most friends and family don’t spend nearly as much time outdoors as I do. I clearly see what Hobday was pointing out about our world dominated by artificial light that is drastically different from earlier time periods in civilization where “sun-gods and goddesses were often worshiped as deities of medicine.”3

And it’s for this reason that I appreciated Hobday’s chapter “How to Sunbathe Safely”. One thing he mentions is how the use of sunscreen actually makes people more prone to sunbathing at inappropriate times. By following the provided advice, I feel like I am now able to maximize my sunbathing without being over-reliant on sunscreen, allowing for more direct contact with the sunlight. I’ve been intentionally going outside for early-morning sunshine, which is one recommendation of Hobday, as well as doing short trips outside to enjoy the sun to avoid prolonged exposure. These methods have been great for developing a tan while avoiding sunburn, and it’s been fantastic starting my morning connecting with the sun.

Admittedly, as an astrologer, I’ve always been focused on my spiritual connection to the sun, but after reading about the different methods of using sunlight as a form of medicine throughout time, I became convinced using sunlight should be more integrated in treatment. For instance, Hobday talks about Dr. Bodington’s pioneer open-air treatment for tuberculosis, Dr. Finsen’s sunlight treatment for smallpox and lupus vulgaris, and Dr. Bernhard’s heliotherapy for war wounds. He also mentions Florence Nightingale promoting sunlight for healing too, along with other examples of doctors who have sunlight as a part of treatment.

What I found most interesting was how drug-resistant infections are becoming a severe problem for hospitals. Sunlight remedies, including things such as incorporating sunlight in treatment and even simply having well-lit rooms, can help to combat the increasing spread of infection. Hobday shares many experiments showing that sunlight and natural light reduce infection levels, promoting the idea that our indoor environments should try to recreate outdoor conditions, rather than appeal to the desire for comfort, luxury, or utility. The section on this topic really made me question how buildings, especially hospitals are designed, and even how my own home could be modified to let more sunlight in during the day.

All in all, The Healing Power of the Sun was a very interesting and eye-opening read. It inspired me to spend more time outdoors and explore how I can improve my health by spending time in sunlight. From opening my mind to what medicine can look like (and how it can be so simple and natural) to learning more about the best ways to sunbathe, this book covers a wide-range of information any reader would benefit from learning. My greatest takeaway is that there’s no need to fear the sun; the medicinal properties greatly outweigh the potential harm. Plus, when you choose to safely spend time in sunlight, along with being mindful of what you’re eating and your daily exercise routines, it’s safe, even necessary for one’s well-being, to bask in the golden rays. 

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.

Archangel Fire Oracle, by Alexandra Wenman

Archangel Fire Oracle, by Alexandra Wenman and illustrated by Aveliya Savina
Findhorn Press, 1644112787, 40 cards, 144 pages, April 2021

I love angels. Communicating with angels was one of my earliest spiritual experiences. As I continued to connect with angels through books and decks, I discovered sometimes angelic wisdom gets locked in New-Age conventionality and trappings. When I started to explore esotericism and discovered the work of John Dee, I realized there was a magical art to communicating with angels. Sigils became an important part of my work with angels. Since then I’ve been trying to rediscover the relationship between angels and alchemy.

Archangel Fire Oracle by Alexandra Wenman is a true delight to discover for this reason. It goes beyond the positive, affirming messages of other angel oracle decks, connecting the reader with the genuine essence of each angel. The deck is a blend of color healing, alchemy, and angelic knowledge intended to facilitate awakening in the readers. In addition to learning more about each archangel, Women guides readers to tap into the most divine aspects of themselves through the meditations and exercises that facilitate spiritual awareness, transformation, and a deeper connection to the angelic realm.

There are forty archangel cards in this deck. The archangels are grouped in seventeen suits, each based on a healing color ray or sacred flame. I really enjoy visually seeing the archangels through these different color prisms. It adds a visual connection to each angel, as well as helps to identify archangels that are similar in energy.

The cards themselves are beautiful and some of the best depictions of the archangels I’ve ever seen. It’s very clear the illustrator of this deck, Aveliya Savina, had a strong relationship with the angelic realm and a very intuitive understanding of these energies. There is tons of symbolism in the deck, from animals to flowers, that infuse the cards with meaning. All the elements are represented (fire, air, earth, and water), as well as connections to the solar system and earth. There’s also some mythical energy that opens the reader’s consciousness to different realms.

I have so many favorite images in the deck that it’s hard to choose one. For instance, Rikbeil (11) is shown almost wearing a space suit with sweeping pink wings engulfing his body. Then there’s UFO-like flying saucers in the corner of the cards. It’s neat because the cards aren’t pushing alien-angel connection or anything (I’m so leery of that!), but it is an innovative, modern display of the resonate energetic meaning of the card, which reads:

“Rikbiel is known as the “Chief of the Divine Chariot: – the Merkabah. This Cherubim is said to be the “Power of Love” and he helps us to recognize the incredible power of having loving thoughts. A harmonizing angel, who can influence centrifugal force and find the most loving point between two opposing forces, Rikbiel is especially helpful to call on when working in group situations. Rikbie maintains co-operation and promotes open communication. Like the cosmic diplomat in his oracle card, he shows us that when a group strives towards a common goal based in integrity, they can achieve great things.”1

But while Rikbiel has a cosmic unifier vibe, other cards, such as Asariel (22) have aqueous energy. In this card, Asariel is portrayed with a seashell crown, holding a trident. There’s a hermit crab and treasure chest at her feet, while dolphins and an orca whale leap in the background. I’ve loved gazing at it and inviting the marine energy into my aura. The guidebook explains how she calls us to move with flow, trusting our intuition and dreams.

This deck just really stands apart from others due to the masterful artistry, which is relatable and ignites the imagination, prompting readers to understand the archangel’s energy in a way that goes beyond traditional interpretations of them. Savina’s artwork is perfect for contemplation, meditation, and using the cards on an altar, which is what I’ve been doing most frequently.

The guidebook is phenomenal too! For each of the seventeen suits, Wenman provides the corresponding chakra, crystals, essential oils, magical sigils, and star system. This information alone was worth having the deck for because it opens up so many doors for connecting with each angel. I’ve always been very interested in the relationship between constellations and the angels, and this guidebook has been extremely useful for exploring this.

For every archangel, there is an overall description of their essence, a message from them (a quote of guidance, guidance on how to meet the archangel in the energetic realm through visualization, guidance for diamond fire alchemy with the archangel, and a section on becoming the angel (invoking their energy).

What I love about this wealth of wisdom is that it’s suitable for all levels. Beginners will be content to receive a message from the archangels and learn a bit about their energy. Those who are ready to experience the healing of the archangel might want to do the visualization to meet them or the diamond fire alchemy for spiritual healing or transformation. Then for those who feel experienced enough to invoke the archangel, the final section is very useful in how to embody the energy of the archangel.

While the techniques and exercise require a bit of a time or energetic investment on behalf of the reader, they are truly powerful. As I mentioned, I’ve been very interested in learning more about the archangels, their sigils, and their relationship to the constellations. But Wenman’s guide book helps to take my explorations to a new level through the visualizations and invocation exercises. It’s so useful to have guidance about how to connect with the angels in this way, rather than just having to trace sigils out of an old grimoire I found in PDF form.

Overall, Archangel Fire Oracle is the most authentic angel oracle deck that I’ve come across thus far. Wenman and Savina have successfully channeled the archangels into imagery and a guidebook that is relatable, easy to use, and most of all, soul-stirring. The archangels have been liberated from outdated forms and antiquated definitions of their energy. In this deck, the archangels’ essences shine through, opening readers into a current of love, peace, and spiritual transformation.