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Fortuna, by Nigel Pennick

Fortuna: The Sacred & Profane Faces of Luck, by Nigel Pennick
Destiny Books, 1644116472, 144 pages, January 2024

Luck is a mysterious and capricious supernatural force thought to bring about success or failure by apparently random chance. While belief in luck may be relegated to gamblers and the superstitious, the concept is deeply embedded in Western culture. Luck was personified by the ancient Greeks as Tyche, and the ancient Romans knew her as Fortuna, the fickle and fearsome goddess of fortune and fate. “O Fortuna,” a Latin poem derived from the medieval manuscript Carmina Burana, which laments the vicissitudes of fate, was set to music by German composer Carl Orff in 1936, and the epic cantata has since appeared in several films, television shows, and commercials. Fortuna’s Wheel of Fortune appears in both the tarot and the syndicated game show of the same name, which holds the record as the longest-running game show in the United States.1

While Fortuna’s indiscriminate giving and taking is often perceived as mercurial and even cruel, her lighter and brighter side is known today as Lady Luck, and she is still alive and well in contemporary culture, from the four leaf clover marshmallows in Lucky Charms cereal to Felix Felicis, the alchemical Liquid Luck elixir Harry Potter downed in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Luck can simply mean being in the right place at the right time. But beyond the superficial veneer of pop culture, who is she, really?

In Fortuna: The Sacred & Profane Faces of Luck, Nigel Pennick, the prolific author of over sixty books, including Elemental Magic (2020), Magic in the Landscape (2020), The Ancestral Power of Amulets, Talismans, and Mascots (2021), and Runes and Astrology (2023), explores the origins and evolution of the concept of luck, from divination to gambling. This slim volume is a quick read, with just a little over a hundred pages, but it is packed with fascinating insights.

Contemporary consciousness tends to rationalize changes in fortune as nothing more than random occurrences, but, as Pennick says in the Introduction, “in the ancient worldview nothing happens by chance but is the manifestation of an act of divine will.”2 Feeling subject to the whims of the gods, ancient people sought to discern the divine will by interpreting signs and omens, which led to the rise of divination with various systems, involving objects with numeric values, such as dice and cowrie shells.

In the absence of the concept of mathematical probability, everything was believed to have been preordained by the divine. The belief in predestination was ripe for abuse, as it could be used to validate the unjust actions of people in positions of authority. “Many religions view the Creator in the form of an angry Bronze Age law-making warlord who decides how the natural world must behave and who issues the laws that define those behaviors,”3 Pennick says. The real power behind the scenes, however, was the goddess of fortune and fate.

In Chapter 2, titled “Lady Luck and the Goddess Fortuna,” Pennick explores the history of the Roman goddess Fortuna’s worship. Today, we tend to simplify her as the personification of luck, chance, and good fortune, but Pennick does her honor by fleshing her out as a complex goddess associated with many facets of life. She had a plethora of epithets, such as Fortuna Plebis, “of the People,”4 for she determined the fates of individuals. Many epithets include types of people and social classes, such as Fortuna Muliebris (“Women”), Fortuna Patricia (“Noble”), and Fortuna Equestris (“Horseback Riding”), which brings to mind knights in shining armor astride dashing steeds. The one that struck me as the most interesting was Fortuna Aucupium, meaning “Bird of Prey.”5 Although she was sometimes depicted as blind, this avian title seems to imply keen powers of perception and a shrewd eye for swooping down and snatching good fortune at a crucial moment.

“In Rome, the emperor Trajan (98-117 CE) dedicated a major temple to each aspect of the goddess, and on every January 1, offerings were made at the temples to ensure good luck and success for the coming year,”6 Pennick says. Fortuna’s accoutrements included a cornucopia, or horn of plenty, aligning her with the goddess Abundantia, the Roman goddess of prosperity; a ship’s rudder, which signifies her steering the fates of all mortals; and the vertically spinning wheel of fortune. On occasion, Fortuna appeared with wings, like Nortia, the Etruscan goddess of fate.

There were oracular shrines devoted to Fortuna in ancient Rome, which were located at Antium and Praeneste, in the modern day city of Palestrina. I was most intrigued by the Praenestine oracle of Fortuna, which is believed to have operated underground in a cave called “Antro delle Sorti” in Italian, which means “the Cavern of the Fates.”7 The oracle was thought to have been founded by an Egyptian priestess of the goddess Isis, and incorporated the use of wooden dice inscribed with letters, which may have been derived from Etruscan divinatory practices, and Pennick believes this oracle might have influenced the development of runic divination.

“The cubes were thrown into a silver bowl and drawn out one by one to produce a sequence of letters that were taken as the first letters of words,” Pennick says. “Interpretative skill depended upon determining what the sequence of letters stood for with regard to the question asked or the person asking it.”8 The Praenestine oracle had a revival in nineteenth century France, “when it was claimed that Charles Le Clerc used the oracle to attain prophecies for Napoleon Bonaparte.”9

Pennick then explores the history of dice as a form of divination in ancient Europe, which were originally made from the knuckle bones of sheep. He writes about the practice of gambling in ancient Rome and presents a table depicting the names and measurements of Roman dice. Chapter 4 is devoted to dice divination, complete with a chart of the divinatory meanings of possible throws.

One of my favorite chapters is on “Divinatory Geomancy,” in which Pennick gives a concise explanation of how to perform a geomantic reading and presents different methods for generating geomantic figures. Geomancy, which means “earth divination,” is a binary method of generating four-lined figures using odd or even numbers that traditionally involves making marks in the earth, although modern practitioners of the art may choose to throw dice or coins. There are a total of sixteen possible geomantic figures, and each has a Latin name with an oracular meaning and an astrological association.10

“An East Anglian technique for generating odd and even sequences uses potatoes,”11 Pennick writes. Using root vegetables sounds like the perfect way to perform an earth divination! I personally use a simple homemade deck of geomancy cards I created with blank index cards, on which I drew the geomantic figures with markers, but I love the idea of using potatoes to generate geometric figures.

“Each potato is different, for each has an indeterminate number of eyes, the places from which new growth takes place,” Pennick says. “To generate a geomantic figure, one must take four potatoes at random and count the eyes on each one.”12 A full reading requires sixteen spuds, so this might be a fun method to try if you have a sack of potatoes handy. 

The latter half of the book explores how the sacred art of divination devolved into the profane practice of gambling and became associated with the Devil. “Perhaps the ancient Jewish prohibition of divination, which was taken up wholesale and unthinkingly into the Christian religion when Christianity split off from Judaism, accelerated the desacralization of divination into gambling,”13 Pennick says. He believes that “the association of cards with the Devil is likely to be a cultural leftover from the centuries of religious fulmination against games and the religiously motivated laws that prohibited all forms of play and gambling for so many centuries.”14

I was fascinated to learn that, in medieval England, “Christmas was deemed to be the only time that games were allowed, and playing at other times was forbidden by law.”15 Hearkening back to the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, “the connection of gambling with misrule is overt in writings about carnivals and mythical lands, such as the Land of Cokaygne.”16

Pennick also reveals how fortune-telling and luck-drawing magic have intersected with gambling superstitions and dice cheat rolls. “Ancient crooked dice” might have been used for gambling cheats, “but they may well have been used at oracular shrines to skew the readings of those who came to ask questions.”17 This may have been a matter of self-preservation, especially when the interpreters of omens “had to deal with ruthless tyrants and a wrong answer might mean torture and death.”18

The stakes are high in illegal gambling as well, and the sacred caves where the ancients once consulted Fortuna for spiritual guidance were traded in for the Underworld gambling dens of organized crime, which were crowded with the lost souls suffering from addiction to these illicit practices. Since such risky behavior is a flirtation with death, it’s no wonder that many gambling charms incorporate images of human skulls to represent luck in the face of adversity.

“When we dice with Death, we can be sure that Death has the dice in a special grip and throws all the shots, and the dice are probably loaded,”19 Pennick writes.

Pennick’s impeccable scholarship and concise historical survey of divination and gambling has transformed my perspective of Lady Fortuna and the relationship between her sacred and profane arts. Whether you are a practitioner of divination and magic or a gambler hoping to boost your luck, Fortuna: The Sacred & Profane Faces of Luck will inspire your practice and be a boon to your personal library. Besides, with St. Patrick’s Day being just around the corner, it’s a great read for the month of March. May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Celtic Goddess Grimoire, by Annwyn Avalon

Celtic Goddess Grimoire: Invoke the Enduring Power of the Celtic Feminine Divine, by Annwyn Avalon
Weiser Books, 157863802X, 224 pages, March 2024

At the end of 2023, I signed up for a thirteen-moon prophecy reading with Danielle Dulsky. The intention I set for the reading was furthering my understanding of the “flavor” of my magic. I was curious about what spiritual pursuits were most aligned for me right now. A very significant piece of my prophecy was the Awen symbol, so important that Dulsky explained it was the mythic image for me to draw upon this year. In a pursuit to learn more about this symbol, I’ve been doing increasing research on Celtic traditions, particularly Druidism. I felt an instant pull towards Celtic Goddess Grimoire: Invoke the Enduring Power of the Celtic Feminine Divine by Annwyn Avalon, as though connecting with the Goddesses of the Celtic tradition is the next step in my journey.

Avalon is the perfect person to write this book. She is a Celtic witch and water priestess, who has years of study in water mysteries, witchcraft, and magic. Her previously published titles include Water Witchcraft and The Way of the Water Priestess. Currently, she serves as the keeper of the White Spring, a sacred spring in Glastonbury where she lives. As if all isn’t cool enough, she is also the sacred steward of Chalice Orchard, the former home of Dion Fortune.

Avalon begins by sharing with readers a journey of her life, from growing up in a conservative Christian home to becoming a devoted priestess of the Divine Feminine. Her story felt very relatable, as I’m sure it will be for many others who feel called towards Goddess worship. She explains how while initially she wanted to write a scholarly book about the goddesses, she realized in the process that the dynamic Celtic goddesses could not be confined to specific categories. The book took its own form, which she describes as:

“I wanted to build a bridge between the vastness of each goddess and those who seek her. In the end, I embarked on a goddess-guided journey, allowing them each to show me the highlights of their magic, and teach me what they wanted emphasized in the pages of this book–the best pathways for others to find them and experience their energy.”1

This connection to the energy of the many Celtic goddesses is exactly what I felt while reading this book! Since I am still in the beginning phases of learning Celtic spirituality, I decided to see which goddesses I was naturally drawn to while also keeping an open heart and mind in case any of the goddesses came to me. Avalon does offer some insight into the process of  connecting with a goddess, noting relationships will be different for each person, the goddess you call upon might not answer, while another goddess might abruptly come into your life. Above all, Avalon encourages listening to your own “unverified personal gnosis”2, or UPS for short, even if the information you’re receiving isn’t verifiable by outside sources.

For those new to the Celtic belief system, Avalon covers a bit of history (Roman conquest strongly impacted the Celtic cultures), the role of women in the Celtic world, the Celtic otherworld, and Celtic rituals and practices. Some exercises she shares are how to build an altar, create your own sacred image or blessed candle, and make a goddess simmer pot, incense, and bath soak. These exercises don’t require too many materials, and most could probably do them with the items they have on hand, which is something I always appreciate as a devotee on a budget.

The Part II – Part VII of the book focus on different types of goddesses: Goddesses of the Sacred Waters and Landscape; Goddesses of Abundance, Fertility, and Healing; Goddesses of Battle and Justice; Faery Women; Goddesses of Magic; and Horse Goddesses. Within every part there ranges from two to seven chapters which each cover an individual goddess. At the start of the goddess chapters, Avalon shares name variations, regions, sacred associations, offerings, and body of water. While not every goddess has each one, this plethora of information is fascinating and useful for building a connection with the goddess. It really made me want to go visit these locations and sites on a goddess pilgrimage!

Avalon delves into the history and folklore of each goddess. She covers things such as what the goddess is most well-known for, what artifacts reveal about them, the cultures that revered them, and how goddesses evolved through time, many having their names changed or Christianized by Romans. At the end of each chapter, Avalon provides customized exercises for the goddess. For example, for the Andraste, Invincible Goddess of War, one of the exercises is a prayer for justice, while the exercise for Melusine, Mermaid Goddess of the Fount, is a ritual bath to ask her blessing.

While every goddess was fascinating to learn about, the one that was most awe-inspiring for me to learn about was Rosmerta, The Great Provider. She was an abundance goddess associated with “springs, healing, prosperity, abundance, protection, and fruitfulness.”3 I was intrigued to learn in continental Europe, she was considered the consort to Mercury. Mercury is one of the primary deities that I work with, and never before had I come across any material about him having a consort. I am absolutely going to be weaving in working with Rosmerta as well, hoping the couple will enjoy sharing in ritual together! Exercises that Avalon shares for Rosmerta are an invocation to her and an abundance ritual where fruits, vegetables, and spring or blessed water are given as offerings. I am looking forward to building an altar to Rosmerta and performing the invocation and ritual!

Another goddess that I felt drawn to is The Giantess Cailleach. Avalon writes how she “is often depicted as the personification of winter” and is “variously known as a creator goddess, a storm goddess, a destroyer, and as a giantess who can move large boulders, make mountains, raise seas, and create windstorms.”4 Now, this is one incredible goddess! Exercises Avalon includes for The Cailleach are using storm water for protection and creating a harvest spirit doll, both of which I plan on doing when the timing is right.

Oh! And guess what? In the midst of being immersed in reading about Cerridwen, I flipped the page to see the Awen symbol right there! I did not realize Cerridwen’s mythology was related to this story, and it gave more insight into the meaning of Awen for me. I knew I was meant to read this book!!

At the end there are two appendices for added convenience. Appendix A is titled “Glossary of Celtic Goddesses and Faery Women ” and Appendix B is titled “Index of Exercises and Rituals”. Both make quick-references extremely easy. And one more really neat feature of the book is the maps on the front and back cover. The front cover is a colored map of modern Celtic lands, while the back cover is a map of the historical dispersing of Celtic tribes. For someone not as familiar with the Celtic landscapes, these maps are very helpful when reading about the goddess’s associated locations.

All in all, Celtic Goddess Grimoire is an awesome resource for learning more about the Celtic divine feminine. As a beginner, Avalon made the material very easy to navigate, focusing on providing ample information to provide a full perspective.Those already working with the Celtic pantheon would surely benefit from reading this book too, as Avalon’s insight add new perspectives and the exercises and rituals are good to have available. This is a book that I’ll surely be referring to time and time again, as well as sharing with others I know are feeling called to explore the roots of their Celtic ancestry.

2024 Moon Goddess Diary, by Nicci Garaicoa

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

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

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

On the cover of the diary, Garaicoa promises:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garaicoa shares this last message on the back cover:

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

Horns of the Goddess, by Dolores Cannon

Horns of the Goddess, by Dolores Cannon
Ozark Mountain Publishing, 1956945210, 400 pages, March 2023

“At the beginning of time everybody was in tune with the mother Earth, for the souls had just begun their journey.  And they were but newly separated from her, and so they remembered how to be in harmony with her.   And they knew how to be in harmony with nature. And, so they observed the things they knew they needed to be observed in order to stay that way.1

Horns of the Goddess by Dolores Cannon is an interesting exploration of the concept of past lives, the use of past life regression hypnotherapy to gain access to the information of the past lives of clients, and the impact that information may carry within the greater scientific and spiritual communities of the present. The quote above was taken from a chapter taken from the transcription of a session of one of the three individuals who shared past lives during the time of the Druids and are the theme of focus for the title.

Cannon was a regressive hypnotherapist and psychic researcher who recorded the sessions of multiple clients and became one of the collectors of “lost” knowledge, much of which was verified by the findings of archeologists. This is an important factor of consideration as the reader moves through this title and recognizes the credibility of both technique and content Cannon brings to material that could be considered just another example of new age fluff. 

The content was compiled by her daughter, Nancy Vernon, and much of the information contained within was withheld in being made part of Dolores’ public research offerings because of the sensitive nature of the information shared by her subjects. Timing in the release of this information and its consideration as potential truths was very important to Cannon. Given the timing of Cannon’s passing while writing this book provided an opportunity for some of the more controversial information to be included.   

Horns of the Goddess is formatted into three sections with chapters of content within. Each chapter is structured as a question (from Cannon) with answer (from the individual’s past life self/ves) transcribed from the recording made during hypnosis. Dolores’ impressions and notes are interspersed throughout, giving additional insight and background to what the reader is taking in. 

The “Introduction: The Time Traveler” provides the reader with Cannon’s path that led her to the writings and research she committed herself to after her children were grown. She describes the refinements and adjustments she crafted to the techniques of hypnotherapy that allowed for a deeper level of communication between the client and past life memories and now are the choice of practice for past life regressionists. 

“Section 1: Life as a Druidess” begins the journey through timelines of Druidry and events leading up to the Inquisition. In “Chapter 1: The Druidress (Karen)” the reader is introduced to one of her subjects who offers insights throughout a good portion of the book through multiple past lives experienced.  She speaks of one of her subjects, Karen:

“During 1982 and 1983 I worked with Karen on a regular basis. I discovered the true meaning of time travel during my sessions with her. We eventually explored thirty different lifetimes, and the detailed information that poured out of her was phenomenal. She was able to so totally become the other personality that she supplied historical information as well as cultural and theological.2

“Section 2: Brenda’s Story as Astelle” is filled with some of the more controversial material and brings to light from the subject’s experiences the horrors of the Inquisition and the lengths taken by the church to tamp down the nature-based practices….

“In the beginning when she was describing the horrors of the Inquisition and the callousness of the Church, I told her in the session…… “They will hang me from the highest tree if I ….tell about the horrible things the church did in those days. They will never stand for hearing such things about their church fathers”…. There is too much explosive material contained within this story. It is probably the truth about the way the church really behaved, but I feel I must wait a while before I dare to write it.”3

The chapters contained within this section are the meat of the book and a wealth of information about how the “old ways”’ of nature based religious practices would have been carried out. Insights into the use of Pentagrams, signs, omens, communication with animals, the lore and legends of the magic of the Druids, and the inhabitants of greater earth such as the Fae, gnomes, giants, etc… are offered through the memories of Brenda/Astelle in her sessions with Dolores. Woven throughout these chapters are the specifics of how the church made use of these beliefs and the ultimate return of the Inquisition period. 

Rounding out the density of information in Section 2,  Dolores returns to her long time subject Karen and shares the impressions received as Karen travels through the subsequent time periods of her Druidic days and returns to past lives as a minstrel, a physician, a child who sees faeries and a Greek priestess. “Section 3: More Lives with Karen” provides the reader with ample opportunity to give consideration to the possibility of multiple lifetimes that are experienced by a singular consciousness/soul.   

In conclusion, I found Horns of the Goddess to be a fascinating and thought provoking read.  Regardless of your perspective on the veracity of past lives, reincarnation and the storehouse of the subconscious in maintaining information that there is no reasonable explanation for the individual to know, the content of this title is engaging and completely immersive in its reading. 

“Dolores opened our eyes to wondrous and mysterious worlds. She dared to go into the forbidden realms of what the mind contained. If it had not been for her insatiable appetite to want to know more and to ask the many, many questions we might never have known the lost knowledge she found with her sessions.”4

Pagan Portals: Demeter, by Robin Corak

Pagan Portals – Demeter, by Robin Corak
Moon Books, 1789047838, 128 pages, October 2022

At first glance, Pagan Portals – Demeter by Robin Corak seems like a straightforward book. The story of Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, is one that has been used to illustrate many variations of the mother-daughter dynamic in a variety of different contexts. Corak is taking that story and exploring various other themes that aren’t apparent at first glance.

A long-time practitioner of paganism, Corak is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon where she currently serves as the Board Secretary and is the author of Pagan Portals – Persephone: Practicing the Art of Personal Power. Honestly, there’s no one more perfectly positioned to write the book on Demeter than Corak and her prose is both insightful and informative.

The book is sectioned off into specific areas that deal with Demeter’s background, specific rites and rituals, and other topics I didn’t expect to find. At the risk of outing myself as not being all-knowing about the goddesses and gods of the Greek pantheon, I had to look up two aspects of Demeter that I was not aware of that were referenced in this book: Demeter Chthonia: Grief and Loss and Demeter Chloe: Manifestation Magick. Blown away, completely and totally. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that Demeter was associated with grief (her daughter being taken away from her) and abundance (Goddess of the Harvest), I just didn’t know there were actual aspects devoted to these attributes. 

There’s so much information in this book and all of it is both relevant and timely. The astonishing realization that Demeter was still subject to patriarchy despite being a goddess was something I hadn’t considered. It was my understanding that Demeter’s power would ensure her personal agency. When Demeter is told by Helios that Hades abducted her daughter, Demeter’s opinions are not even considered as she is told that Hades would make a fine husband for her daughter. Because Demeter is dismissed, she then decides that nothing on Earth will grow until her daughter is returned to her. Her actions eventually see the return of Persephone to her, and it’s interesting to note that Demeter is the only goddess to make Zeus give in to her demands, and in a short amount of time. Underestimate an abundance Goddess at your peril!

A surprising aspect of this book is the focus on balance, something that most who identify as feminine struggle with due to the numerous stresses experienced through jobs, home, relationships, and other factors. Corak addresses this in the introduction, saying:

“Working with Demeter can facilitate a powerful journey of self-discovery resulting in a re-envisioning and reclaiming of our potential and our own lives. For those of us who may not have had a positive relationship with our own mothers, Demeter empowers us to access our own nurturing abilities so that we may provide ourselves with the quantity and quality of love that we feel we didn’t receive.”1

It took me a few days to process that, I will be honest. I do not have a good relationship with my mother and as she ages, I have had to come to terms with the very real fact that there will never be apologies or clarity around why certain events were allowed to happen. I found this book to be immensely helpful in navigating my personal grief around this, although I would be lying if I said I was able to completely resolve the anger. I took solace in a powerful sentence from Corak:

“The mother archetype is not just about loving and nurturing, it is also about protection and advocacy to ensure that that which has been given life will survive and thrive.”2

I sat with that for a moment, and realized that’s what I had been doing for myself by not engaging as deeply as I wanted to with my mother. I intuitively knew that this was something I could do to protect myself from additional harm, and this book opened my eyes to all that I have been doing for myself in this realm. 

There is so much healing in this book depending on what is required. For me, I chose to go through “Chapter 3 – Healing the Mother Wound”. Corak includes a definition of mother wound as “the loss or lack of mothering which can include abuse and neglect. Those who experience the mother wound don’t receive the love and attention they need as children and have mothers who seem to be distant and less attuned to their emotional needs.”3

This section in particular really hit me hard, as I thought I had dealt with my issues around this through extensive therapy. Clearly that was not the case, as I often found myself curled up in a ball with my cat gingerly offering me head butts and consoling licks. That is not an exaggeration, by the way. This book is excellent and devastating in a way I didn’t expect but am so glad I experienced. 

If any of this resonates with you, I would highly recommend picking up Pagan Portals – Demeter. If you have a therapist, I would also highly recommend enlisting their help for this journey because working with Demeter calls up all sorts of childhood trauma that needs to be brought out so that it can be healed.

One of the best parts of this whole process was learning that I could mother myself and did not need to rely on my emotionally unavailable mother to provide that. While seemingly heartbreaking, releasing yourself from unrealistic expectations of those who cannot possibly meet you where you need them to is freeing in a way that could potentially allow you to move on. Who wouldn’t want that?

Goddess Among Us, by Victoria Maxwell

Goddesses Among Us: Oracle Deck with 36 Full-Color Cards and 128-Page Guidebook, by Victoria Maxwell and illustrated by Ellie Grant
Rockpool Publishing, 1922579319, 128 pages, 36 cards, October 2022

A goddess oracle deck that represents a diversity of women? Yes, please! Goddesses Among Us by Victoria Maxwell and illustrated by Ellie Grant portrays timeless goddesses in modern fashion and updated to make  them accessible for readers to connect with here and now.

“The goddesses featured in this oracle are from various cultures, religious, and spiritual paths, but they are all aspects of one goddess: a primal, creative force of love that really has no words and no bounds.”1

Using this deck so far, I have loved Grant’s illustrative approach because when I flip over a card, I see women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds staring back at me in a way I might see them out in public. In turn, this has opened me to remembering the divinity in women I see out and about and how the goddess is within us all always, even in the ordinary and mundane moments of life. There isn’t a one-size-fits all for the goddess, but rather many, many representations of her different attributes, reflected in a variety of looks, lessons, and energy.

For instance, the card portraying the ancient Greek goddess Artemis doesn’t show an ancient image of her clocked in a tunic, but features a tan, brown-haired woman in a wheelchair wearing an athleisure dress with her bow and arrow primed. Kali looks like a blue-haired badass sticking her tongue out wearing her crop-top and jacket with skulls all over it; Pachamama is portrayed as a down-to-earth indigenous activist in blue jeans with beautiful gold jewelry on; while Sulis Minerva has wavy, long auburn hair, braided around the crown, with a one-shouldered blue dress that shows off a solar tattoo on the uncovered arm.

It’s nice and easy to learn which goddess is on the card, as the number of the card and name of the goddess is featured in the upper lefthand corner. There’s a symbol encompassing the image of each goddess, adding to their sense of divinity and giving more insight into the unique power of the goddess. And then there are three key words surrounding the goddess on each card. I just love the font used for this deck! The beauty of the script adds to the flowing, intuitive energy of the deck. Plus, it’s a very colorful deck, making it perfect to use the cards on an altar.

My favorite card visually is The Black Madonna. The card features a voluptuous black woman with a serious look on her face, wearing a tan romper and black jacket with stars on it. She has big hoop earrings in the shape of stars, along with a necklace with an ankh and one with a coptic cross. She’s holding a red rose and the symbol around her head looks like a moon with stars on it too. The keywords are “Cosmic mother”, “The beginning”, and “The void”. It’s also my favorite number (18!) and was the first face of the goddess I met on my spiritual journey, making it feel very special and resonate to me.

In the guidebook, Maxwell provides thorough information on how to use the cards, including how to activate the deck, prepare for a reading, ask questions, and read reversals. She also depicts four different spreads that can be used: Divine feminine activation spread, Goddess guidance spread, Advice and action spread, and Priestess path of the goddess spread.

Then for every goddess card the guidebook features the image of the card, keywords, background information on the goddess (very helpful for when the goddess is new to you!), a general oracle message, extended card meanings, and bullet point lists of what to call on the goddess for and how to embody the goddess.

The extended card meanings provide a more specific oracle message in the areas of love, prosperity, purpose, healing, creativity, and magic. I absolutely loved the deeper insight into these specific areas, especially creativity and magic, which I often forget I can glean oracle advice about. These specific messages makes the deck feel a lot more fine-tuned for readings; I enjoy knowing I can turn to the deck with a very focused questioned in mind and get precise guidance rather than receive a general oracle message that I have to extrapolate the answer to my question by discerning how it’s message relates to what I asked.

I also really appreciate Maxwell sharing what we can call on each goddess for and how we can embody her energy in our lives. Two days in a row, when I was having self-doubts and lacking in self-love, I pulled the card Aphrodite. Some of the ways Maxwell encourages readers to embody this energy are “choosing luxury”, “seeing and owning your own beauty”, and “allowing yourself to experience and receive pleasure in all forms.”2 I realized I had been doing absolutely none of that and spent the whole week doing my best to bring in Aphrodite energy to my life: splurging on fancy organic chocolate, affirming my postpartum body, and feeling more free-flowing love in my relationships.

I also really resonated with Maxwell’s sentiment in her introduction that the goddess can be found anywhere:

“When I opened my heart to her, the goddess began to show me that she was everywhere. I found her in wicca and witchcraft, paganism, the New Age, the ascension path and yogic teachings. I even spent  some time seeking out the goddess in the church, finding her secret messages hidden away in Bible passages..”3

I think the way Maxwell so earnestly sought connection with the goddess in a myriad of spiritual paths is what makes this deck so especially diverse. Many other goddess oracle decks I’ve worked with usually don’t include Christian saints. And the choice of goddesses from all different pantheons make the reader excited for each pull, eager to see which goddess has some insight for them.

The combination of the vibrant colorful cards depicting the goddess as normal women and the potent messages of guidance has made Goddess Among Us a new favorite of mine. As someone who owns approximately four goddess oracle decks, I can say with confidence this one tops them all. For those looking to connect with the goddess in all her wonderful, varied forms while also getting meaningful insight into the questions pressing on their hearts, this is absolutely the deck for you!

Reclaim Your Dark Goddess, by Flavia Kate Peters

Reclaim Your Dark Goddess: The Alchemy of Transformation, by Flavia Kate Peters
Rockpool Publishing, 9781922579065, 336 pages, October 2022

Every person experiences some form of darkness at some point in their life, either from losing something or not being able to get something. But what if that darkness is something that is created by the Self, for the Self? What if the darkness isn’t the end of everything, but rather the beginning of something better, and greater, than what had been there previously? In Reclaim Your Dark Goddess: The Alchemy of Transformation, author Flavia Kate Peters examines the transformation that embracing the darkness within can trigger. 

As the UK’s leading elemental and ancient magic expert, Peters teaches her professional certification magickal courses at the College of Psychic Studies, London and is a hereditary witch and high priestess of Arnemetia and of the Morrigan. Perfectly positioned to explore this fascinating journey, Peters has given readers a complete and thorough blueprint for how to access, and how to embrace, the darkness that we all carry.

Separated into two parts, the book also includes an introduction (an absolute must read; do not skip this part!) as well an appendix showcasing the Dark Goddesses and their archetypal shadow traits. Very helpful when starting off on this journey. In Part One, Peters divulges information on how to prepare to meet the Dark Goddess and goes into significant detail as to who this mysterious entity is. Sharing her story along the way, Peters blends her personal experience with solid information and rituals designed to help ease the pain of unburdening the soul. It’s almost as if she was right there beside you, patting your shoulder as you realize your entire world is falling apart.

One of my favorite parts of this book talks about the pain of leaving behind the comfort of the known life in order to become who you are meant to be. Peters describes it perfectly:

“As you go through it life as you once knew will disappear; it will no longer be in view or, in fact, exist. But that is the old life, those old ways of doing things and those relationships that were holding you back even if you didn’t realize it. They were comfortable, known and accepted so it will take a crisis to move them on, but if you wish to overcome your difficulties in order to transform your dreams into reality and live the life you came here for then move on they must.”1

Peters also provides some basic information around the Wheel of the Year, provides guidance on how to assemble a specific altar for the purpose of calling in the Dark Goddess, and breaks down the maiden-mother-crone aspects of both the seasons and the moon phases. It’s interesting to see these concepts linked together in this way and could provide a deeper layer for those who incorporate such things into their personal craft.

The second part of the book deals specifically with the various aspects of the Dark Goddess and more importantly, how to connect with them. Peters provides a myriad of information in each Goddess’ section from an extensive background on each, messages from the Dark Goddess, how to seek Her out, reasons for working with that particular goddess, and preparing for the initiation to name a few. It’s really quite simple to invoke the Dark Goddess, but Peters cautions that awareness is a must-have prior to any sort of invocation or other work with the Goddesses. She explains:

“‘The Dark Goddess expects you to be responsible for yourself and your reactions, but it is not easy when you go through a dark night of the soul for you can be blinded by circumstance and find it hard to believe you will ever see the light again.”2

Personally, I found Reclaiming Your Dark Goddess to be a pleasure to read and the concepts in it were easy to understand and follow. I really liked the thoughtfulness that went into sorting the sections of the book and the guidance this layout provides. I would mention that if you are going to be doing this kind of work, you might want to engage with a therapist to help you unravel some of the trickier bits as they are encountered. There is no shame in asking for help, and asking for help shows the Dark Goddess that you are sincere in your supplication to her.

As someone who has done an incredible amount of shadow work and therapy, I was personally blown away by how accurately Peters described her own personal ‘dark night of the soul’. It’s not easy to discover that all the things once thought to be important mean nothing in the context of knowing who you are. The pain of losing people, habits, and other tangible and intangible things that provide comfort to us while we navigate life is almost unbearable until you catch a glimpse of what’s waiting for you on the other side. Being able to shed all that is no longer needed and emerge from the process scarred but beautiful is a wonderful part of life and this collective journey.

The Mythic Goddess Tarot, by Hannah Davies

The Mythic Goddess Tarot, by Jayne Wallace and illustrated by Hannah Davies
CICO Books, 1800651554, 78 cards, 64 pages, October 2022

Connecting with various goddesses is a key part of my spiritual practice; I’ve found the goddess in her many forms provides tough love and restorative nourishment to my soul. When I picked up The Mythic Goddess Tarot by Jayne Wallace, I was immediately drawn to its gentle, intuitive energy that radiates the power of the sacred feminine. I thought to myself, “This deck truly conveys the Goddess’s wisdom.” And since then, the advice I’ve received has helped me immensely in navigating life’s ups and downs.

Though the feminine pastel colors of the deck might convey this deck has a gentle tone, there is plenty of strength and power to be found in the messages of the cards. Each one of the 22 major arcana cards portrays a goddess that personifies its energy, all beautifully drawn and brought to life with vivid colors, while the minor arcana cards are differentiated by color and  suit symbol (coin, sword, cup, wand). On every card is the name plus a one word meaning at the bottom. The guidebook provides more in-depth explanations of each card, but I’ve found the word at the bottom helps to quickly ascertain the card’s message.

Speaking of the guidebook, it’s a bright-colored booklet that features information on getting to know the cards, starting and finishing a reading, as well as various spreads one can use with this deck. In addition to the well-known one-card reading, past-present-future reading, and Celtic Cross spread, Wallace  offers The Power Pyramid, The Crossroad, and The Divine Truth spread, which is neat because it covers the whole year.

Then Wallace shares meanings for both the major and minor arcana cards, though the major arcana cards are a bit longer because in addition to the keywords and meaning, which is what is provided for the minor arcana, there is also a section describing the goddess depicted on the card. She describes what the goddess is ruler of or oversees, as well as her mythology and where she originates from. The major arcana cards also feature a sentence-long mantra to say, affirming the message of the card.

What I liked most about this deck was the choice of goddesses for each card. I have a ton of goddess oracle decks, yet it seems like it’s always the same goddesses appearing. While there were some well-known goddesses (Athena and her mighty lion are portrayed on the Strength card, while Aphrodite and her paramore are on the Lovers cards), this deck featured quite a few goddesses I’d never heard of before, making me excited to learn more about their mythology and their unique attributes.

There is Asase Yaa, a West African goddess, representing the Empress, Luthianian goddess Ragana representing death, and Indian goddess Dhumavati representing the Hanged Man. I appreciate that it feels like Wallace put genuine thought and creative consideration into picking each goddess for this deck and went beyond the traditional goddesses, inviting new perspectives into querenets’ reading through these cards. She writes in the introduction:

“One of the things I love about goddesses is that they are everywhere. From every corner of the globe, you will find mythologies, stories, and fables with gods and goddesses at their heart. Whether in ancient Greece, Africa, Asia, or Europe, or with any type of religion, it’s easy to see throughout history the impact these superhuman beings have had on the shaping of the world as we know today.”1

Another reason I’ve been using this deck often is because I love to display on my personal altar the serenely gorgeous artwork of this deck, which was illustrated by Hannah Davies. I’ve started a practice of shuffling just the major arcana and asked which goddess I should work with for the week. After I pick my card, I place the card on my dresser surrounded by crystals, flowers, and other little trinkets related to the goddess I’ve chosen. This helps me to connect with goddesses and feel her presence in my life daily, especially when I see the goddess of the week’s qualities coming through in my interactions with others, guiding me to embrace the energy in play.

If I am having trouble connecting with the goddess’s energy, I’ll spend time gazing at the artwork on the card and meditating on the symbolism. This method is yet another way that I’ve found useful in opening myself up psychically to the wisdom of the goddess, and the beauty of the deck makes it a very aesthetically pleasing experience, even for the goddesses that tend to be more feared, such as Hekate (The Magician) or Ananke (The Devil). Wallace’s description coupled with Davies’ artwork make these goddesses feel more accessible, giving me courage to embrace their sacred teachings.

I will admit, I’m quite a fan of Wallace’s other decks, such as The Angel Tarot, The Magical Nordic Tarot, and The Moon and Stars Tarot, so I’m not surprised that I connect so well with this one too. Wallace has a unique way of translating sacred energies into her decks that resonates with me, and I have noticed the way the various themes of her decks call to me at different times based on the type of reading I need at the moment.

Aptly, in addition to creating decks, Wallace has also used her spiritual gifts to bring together a tribe of wise women by founding Psychic Sisters, a team of clairvoyant women that offer intuitive readings in London and remotely, along with a wellness line that sells reiki-energized crystals, mists, oils, candles, cosmetics, and more. It’s definitely worth checking out their website, as well as Wallace’s other decks, if you’re interested in connecting with psychic readers for more insight.

All in all, Mythic Goddess Tarot has become my favorite divination deck for working with the energy of the goddess. I’m still making my way through getting to know all the goddesses of this deck, but even in the short time I’ve been working with it, I’ve felt the potency of the goddess being woven into my life. Wallace has truly created a holistic deck, magically combining the many faces of goddesses from around the world to assist readers in connecting to the goddess within themselves when making meaningful life choices. I highly recommend this deck to those who enjoy working with goddess energy and are looking to more fully incorporate Her wisdom in their readings.

Becoming a Garment of Isis, by Naomi Ozaneic

Becoming a Garment of Isis: A Nine-Stage Initiatory Path of Egyptian Spirituality, by Naomi Ozaneic
Inner Traditions, 9781644113936, 352 pages, May 2022

“What passes for an ancient Egyptian religion and is often described as such is within the temple tradition, theurgy, the divine work of being and becoming. This is essentially a mystical endeavor quite unlike modern religion.”1

Becoming a Garment of Isis: A Nine-Stage Initiatory Path of Egyptian Spirituality by Naomi Ozaneic is one of those rare reads that emanates its energy and power simply by the calling of its title and the first few words on introduction offered. When you encounter a title of that sort, the reader knows that this will be an extraordinary read with much that is held between the words on the page and how these resonate within the consciousness of the reader by way of inner transformation. 

The book begins with “Preface: Preliminary Thoughts” that speaks to the evolution of its title and includes a powerful retelling of the author’s calling by Isis to take up Her mantle of heart and illumination to better serve the world’s needs in these modern times…

“Do you hear my voice? Do you rise upon a new path? Do you desire to be among my service with all the powers of your heart? Do you turn to me with outstretched hands as a child reaches out to a mother? Do you know the love of my heart? Then come. I am not distant but nearby. I am not locked in the past but I am ever present. I am as close as your next breath.”2

“Introduction: Kemetic Sacred Science” provides the reader with context and a thorough foundation of the Kemetic philosophies and application as a very specific mindset inclusive of science, religion and art…

“The Kemetic Sacred Science is an initiatory schema not a faith, it is a gnosis not a belief, it is a technology of consciousness not a religion. Its conceptual foundation is in a cosmology and theology that embraced all of nature from stone to star as a living presence mediated through a hierarchy stretching from the Above to the Below and completing in the human person as an embodiment of the divine.”3

The rest of the book is separated into four parts and takes the reader through the minds of the heart, spirit, and soul. As the reader moves through the heart of its content the incorporation of magical practice is evident in every aspect of this title and none more so than in the way in which it is organized beyond the preface and introduction. Ozaneic makes use of the enneagram and the number nine that corresponds to its structure in the crafting of nine sections of praxis designed to encourage the application of its content. 

“Nine is the highest digit. It symbolizes comprehensiveness and culmination. The enneagram is a fusion. It’s used for the pursuit of knowledge and in the quest for cosmic deities.4

The first three parts each contain three praxis sections (for the total of nine) and are entitled “Temenos I: The Heartmind”, “Temenos II: The Spiritmind”, and “Temenos III: The Soulmind”. I was intrigued by the use of the word “Temenos” and looked at the definitions given, all of which are telling in the creation of another layer of magic that holds the words of each section as sacred sanctuaries where the reader may explore and step into the power of their Divine nature.

  1. (noun) In Greek antiquity, a sacred enclosure or precinct; a piece of land marked off from common uses and dedicated to a god; a precinct, usually surrounded by a barrier, allotted to a temple or sanctuary, or consecrated for any other reason5
  2. (noun) A sacred circle where one can be himself without fear6

Of note in “(Part 1) Temenos I: The Heartmind” are the Twelve Attitudes of Mind for Spiritual Intelligence, which are part of Praxis 1: The Power of Intelligence.  These key attitudes are taken from the book Spiritual Intelligence by Dana Zohar and Ian Marshall and form the “SQ” or Soul’s Intelligence, an integral concept in the ancient Egyptian’s life’s purpose. These twelve keys encourage the reader to cultivate self-awareness, vision, resiliency, compassion, a diverse mindset, curiosity and humility to name a few. The inclusion of the keys by Ozanaeic offers the reader another path to explore as the Kemetic principles and worldview become interwoven with modern practices of spiritual awakening.

The concluding section, “Part IV: the Star of Mysteries”, refers to the nine-pointed star and each of the praxis sections that have carried the reader to the door of becoming and initiation in the ways of the Goddess, Isis and Egyptian cosmology and spirituality. In the same way that the preface shared the author’s experience in being called to writing this title, the concluding sections provide a detailed recounting of Ozaneic’s experience of embodying the Goddess Isis for her own workings as well as in attendance at the “Parliament of the Worlds”, a multifaith convention that brings together some of the most revered spiritual leaders of the world.

This chapter is an invitation to the reader to give consideration to the service and greater work of offering oneself up to devotion and expression of the ancient Kemetic ways. And, in the sharing of the author’s journey on that path, the reality of such a commitment is presented in a way that maintains the power of self-awareness and accountability and the evolution of spirit through sacrifice and service. 

This whole book is rich in history, theory, practical application and a concluding chapter “Guidance” that offers the reader a contemplative practice to deepen the work of the material offered by each praxis. I found these to prove that powerful contemplatives do not have to be lengthy and filled with unnecessary verbiage to affect the synthesis and change desired.  It is a dense read, as should be any title that takes on the task of reaching out to the most ancient of deities. Its writing is infused with the devotion and illumination of Ozaneic and, thus, exemplifies the gifts and challenges of pledging spiritual service to the Egyptian goddess, Isis. 

The primary take-away from this title is the comfort (or perhaps for some fear) that although many feel far removed from the unity and cosmological understanding of the Egyptian culture and their divine Neter (Gods/Goddesses) there is a re-awakening of the need for their universal connections. The cycles of time and events have merged and interwoven with similar events that caused the downfall and laying aside of the truths held in the Ancient Civilizations.

Becoming a Garment of Isis is a reminder that there is much value to be had in connecting to some of the elder philosophies, calling out to the Deities that held the understanding of creation within their forms and living in accord with the natural order of the world(s) and humanity’s place within it. 

“My journey into the Kemetic landscape has been a personal revelation; all journeys bring discoveries and this has been no exception. I have seen the abyss in perspective between this ancient view of life and our own. Silenced by an inability to read any symbolic language and made unconscious by glittering consumer distractions, we stand deaf, dumb and blind in a world singing to us clothed in the raiment of glory and inviting us to engage and enter into partnership.”7

Pagan Portals – The Temple Priestesses of Antiquity, by Lady Haight-Ashton

Pagan Portals – The Temple Priestesses of Antiquity, by Lady Haight-Ashton
Moon Books, 128 pages, 1803410280, August 2022

I think it’s very common for modern witches and priestesses to feel a connection to our predecessors, at least this is true for me. Reading about the lives of priestesses, oracles, and healers of the past builds a bridge between past and present, reminding me of the timelessness of the Goddess. Pagan Portals – The Temple Priestesses of Antiquity by Lady Haight-Aston was a very interesting read that took me through the cultures of priestess traditions dating back to 12,000 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia all the way to the present age.

“Whether Oracles, Seers, Psychics, and Sibyls, or Sacred Dancers and Healers, the ancient Temple Priestesses wove a narrative of both realism and mythology. They held court in every ancient civilization with their mysterious and mystical powers. These empowered women enthralled those who sought their advice while always serving the Goddess they revered.”1

Lady Haight-Aston’s resume is quite impressive. She is a Third Degree High Priestess of both Gardnerian and Cabot Hermetic Tradition, as well as High Priestess of Sacred Moon Coven and the Iseum of the Graceful Goddess. She is also a professional psychic, trance medium, Sacred Dancer, teacher, and tarot reader. In 2019, Lady Haight-Aston published Pagan Portals – The First Sisters: Lilith and Eve. The vastness of her knowledge of different traditions and forms of Goddess worship shine through every page of this book.

The most prominent priestess cultures covered in this book are those of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, including Goddess cults of Isis and Hathor, the Oracle of Delphi, and the Vestal Virgins. But I was surprised to learn about other traditions that I had previously not heard of before, such as The Ank Priestesses of the Isle of Iona and the Cumaean Sibyl that presided over the Oracle of the Dead in Baia, Italy.

I will admit each section is short; this isn’t a full deep dive into any one priestess tradition, but rather a small sample of each one. But there is still plenty to learn from this book, and I found it valuable to read about all the different priestess cultures side by side. I noticed similarities and differences stand out more than when I study one priestess culture on its own. And as someone who has studied different priestess cultures previously, devouring any piece of literature I could get my hands on, Lady Haight-Aston still provided me with plenty of new revelations.

As she weaves her way through periods of the past, Lady Haight-Aston notes different speculations of academics and clearly informs readers where there is a lack of archeological evidence to make assured claims. But simultaneously, she adds her own perspective as an initiated priestess to share missing links of herstory. I deeply appreciated her point of view and am always glad for a feminist version of history, but for those who this might not be appealing, there is ample reference sources provided at the end of each chapter for readers to investigate themselves and draw their own conclusions.

I mean, if we’re being honest, priestess cultures have hardly been given the academic recognition they deserve, especially in comparison to the study of different priesthoods. To this day, putting together the pieces to better understand these cultures is still quite a challenge. As much as I value the efforts of historians and anthropologists, I feel there is value in having a modern-day Priestess share her thoughts on the significant findings too, providing an experiential interpretation of the artifacts and records.

One of my favorite chapters was “The Modern-Day Oracle Priestess” where Lady Haight-Ashton discussed prominent women that have helped to keep the Priestess tradition alive in recent times, such as Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Sybil Leek. In this section, Lady Haight-Ashton also shares more about friends of hers that have created different communities. I was thrilled to learn about these, especially Woolston-Steene Theological Seminary (the only degree program in the United States for Wiccan ministry) and the Aquarian Tabernacle Church International.

All in all, Pagan Portals – Temple Priestesses of Antiquity was a fantastic read that expanded my knowledge of the influence Priestesses had on cultures of the past. Lady Haight-Aston’s personal path of Priestesshood helps to shine light on what the experience of these devout women of the past might have been within the context of their unique cultures. This book serves as a reminder of the spiritual and political influence women have had through time, and it inspires hope that the way of the Goddess will someday thrive again. For those interested in the pathway of the Priestess, Lady Haight-Aston provides many resources to explore as one finds their own path towards serving the Goddess in the modern world.