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Embody Your Inner Goddess, by Lauren Leduc

Embody Your Inner Goddess: A Guided Journey to Radical Wholeness, by Lauren Leduc
O-Books, 180341362X, 216 pages, December 2023

The changes in our society are opening new doorways to break the mold and discover what it truly means to be a woman without the societal condition hampering our spiritual pursuits. Increasingly, this is leading people to acknowledge the long overlooked feminine aspect of divinity. Embody Your Inner Goddess: A Guided Journey to Radical Wholeness by Lauren Leduc is a gateway for readers to deepen their spiritual connection to themselves by learning to listen to and honor the goddess within through exercises that awaken the sacred connection to the divine feminine.

It’s one thing to know the names of goddesses such as Aphrodite, Kali, Hecate, The Morrigan, and more, or perhaps going a step further, to have a relationship with a goddess, which is often part of one’s magical work. But what about your own sacred divinity? This is the real gold of this book–discovering more about what  makes your spirit unique. Leduc describes the Inner Goddess as “your personified personal connection to the sacred feminine… In her infinite power, wisdom, and compassion, she is YOUR higher self.”1

The core of the book rests on the premise that everyone possesses an inner goddess – an innate strength, wisdom, and compassion that guides us through life. The chapters are then structured to help readers peel back the layers of societal conditioning and self-doubt that often obscure this powerful inner truth. As you progress through the chapters, the journey becomes deeply personal. The exercises prompt introspection and self-exploration, allowing for a unique and intimate connection with one’s inner goddess. This process is aimed at fostering a sense of wholeness, where the reader learns to harmonize their mind, body, and spirit.

“Your life is a sacred journey and I invite you to leave no stone on this path unturned. I invite you to break past your walls that you have built to protect yourself and let the world see the beauty of your vulnerability. To let it be messy. To let it be ugly. To let it be human. Invite every part of you to the dance of life. Embrace all versions of you, past, present, and future, and bathe in her wisdom.”2

Leduc guides the readers through 49 days of inner transformation based on the chakra system. Starting with the root chakra and culminating with the crown chakra, each day there is a new affirmation related to the chakra of the week. As Leduc shares her own stories to paint a picture of what the meaning of the affirmation is intended to convey, she also talks directly to readers, inspiring them to take a look at their lives and own their power. She’ll often use the word “sister”, making it feel like she’s speaking right to you and there’s a special bond. I like her direct address, as it did wake me up to the words a bit more.

Following the insight related to the affirmation of the day, there is a reflection and an embodiment practice. The reflection is questions you can ask yourself for further clarity, while the embodiment practice is something actively do to integrate the energy. I really enjoy the reflection questions as I used them for my journal prompts to keep me on track for the full 49 days of reading this book. It’s easy to want to skip ahead to the next chapter, or likewise skip a day and tell myself I’ll catch up later. But I feel like making the commitment to move through it as intended, one day at a time, helped to create the space to honor their journey. The reading, reflection, and embodiment practice is quick enough to do daily and helps to attune me to my inner self each day. 

At the start of each week, when there is a new chakra introduced, Leduc goes into detail about the chakra and how it relates to the stage of the journey. While some might be skeptical of chakras, Leduc even addresses this in her introduction, I found the organization around the chakra system to be very impactful and intuitive. I have enjoyed focusing on balancing a chakra each week, and I notice a shift when it’s time to move onto the next chakra! I haven’t completed the full 49 days yet, but I’m making my way through quite content.

Currently, I am in Solar Plexus Chakra week. And more specifically, today, I am on “Day 17: I Am Strong AF”. Leduc describes her experience cultivating inner and outer strength, encouraging readers to overcome resistance by dedicating their inner strength to something bigger than themselves. She writes:

“Goddess, you, your life, your purpose are worth fighting for. By stepping up to life’s challenges, you are creating fertile soil to blossom and grow.”3

The reflection questions focused on what makes me feel strong vs. what makes me feel weak, as well as prompting reflection on resistances that I’ve overcome in the past that ultimately made me stronger. And the embodiment practice? PLANKS! Not my favorite, that’s for sure. 😝 But as I held the plank, I felt my core engaged and gained confidence in my own strength. This one is actually a five-day practice, so I guess I’ll be working on these planks in addition to the other embodiment practices for the rest of the week!

Overall, Embody Your Inner Goddess is a transformative book that beckons readers on a profound journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Crafted with the intention of guiding individuals towards embracing their fullest potential, this book is not just a read; it’s an experience. Through a carefully curated blend of personal anecdotes and practical exercises, Leduc opens readers with the divine feminine energy within, encouraging a radical acceptance and celebration of self. Readers will find this book a great companion on their path to self-realization and empowerment; it’s perfect for those ready to deepen their spiritual connection with themselves and live a life of authenticity and purpose.

Astrolations!, by Jill Carr

Astrolations! A Unique Astrological Guide For You and All Your Relationships, by Jill Carr
O-Books, 1803414200, 736 pages, March 2024

Holy moly! It feels only proper to begin a review of Astrolations! A Unique Astrological Guide for You and All Your Relationships by Jill Carr with an exclamation, given that even the title has it in there. I did not expect such a thoroughly engaging and hefty text, but when I opened my package and felt the weight of this book, I knew I was in for a real treat. Carr teaches readers how Western and Chinese astrology blend to provide a well-rounded understanding of the energies of your own astrological signature and that of those in your life. This comprehensive text is sure to shed light on why you are the way you are and how in turn your relationships are energetically with others.

The book begins with a long, long list of birthdates, ranging from January 1900 to February 2032, to help readers figure out their Western and Chinese astrological signature. For Chinese astrology, there is both an animal and element for each year. I quickly scanned all the birthdates to see I am an Aquarius Metal Horse, my husband is an Aries Earth Snake, my son is a Capricorn Water Tiger, and my mother is a Capricorn Earth Dog. While I wanted to quickly skip ahead to read the meaning for each one, I took the slow route and proceeded as planned by Carr through the sections.

In the Western astrology section, Carr covers the four elements, offering key words, the signs of each element, and a description of the essence of each element. She also covers the three qualities–cardinal, mutable, and fixed. There’s a description of how the elements relate to each other in Western astrology, and then she moves onto each sign. For every astrological sign, Carr provides its element and quality, planetary ruler, the part of the body it rules, and an overview of the sign’s attributes.

Next, the Chinese astrology section covers the twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac, the elements in Chinese astrology, and the interdependence of the elements and how they influence personal relationships. Chinese astrology has a lot more positive/negative aspects, or yin/yang, which Carr covers to give readers a full perspective of how the different zodiac energies, between both the animal sign and element, can manifest. There’s even a helpful little table of the twelve animal signs in just one word for the categories upside, downside, and gone rogue for those looking for quick references to better understand the signs. As someone who has studied Western astrology for years, it does take a bit of time to open to the system of Chinese astrology, but Carr does a good job of breaking the system down into bite-size bits for readers to learn quickly.

The way Carr organizes the rest of the book is going in traditional Western astrological order of Aries to Pisces and covering the Chinese astrology for each sign. Within the section which might be labeled “Aries Dragon” or “Cancer Rat”, Carr breaks it down even further by talking about the elemental nature of the profile too. In regard to the balance of elements, Carr writes:

“Each person has three elements in their basic sign combination: their Western Zodiac sign element; their native element of their Chinese sign; the element of the Chinese sign in their own birth year.”1

Essentially, it’s not about just one element in someone’s astrological signature, rather it’s more about the component of elements and how they work together. Someone could have all fire elements, which can indicate an imbalance of energies, or similarly, they might have elements that neutralize each other and provide balance.

In total, there are 144 Western and Eastern main combination types, and the majority of this book (over 600 pages!) is dedicated to covering each one in regards to compatibility and as a child. For every combination type, Carr provides the element of the Western sign and Chinese sign, plus information on the Chinese element of the year the person’s birth. For instance, my husband is an Aries Snake; there could be an Earth, Metal, Fire, Water, or Air snake, depending on the year of someone’s birth, but he is an Earth snake. She also lists the attributes of the signs (positive/negative, cardinal/fixed/mutable, yin/yang). I found this information helpful because just beginning to understand the energies of the combination helps to attune yourself to the nature of the astrological signature.

Though Carr does provide a good deal of information for each combination, and her keen insights from decades of professional experience in both Western and Chinese astrology are spot-on. She compares and contrasts how the different yearly element will manifest for each combination (i.e. how a Metal Scorpio Horse will different from a Water Scorpio Horse), noting the overall similarities of the combination while also highlighting subtle differences. For every combination, she offers an assessment of their personality overall, how they are as a spouse/partner/significant other, and how they are as a parent/grandparent/sibling/friend/colleague. It’s a great deal of information, but it’s also cramming a lot into a small section (there’s two to three pages for each combination).

The depictions of each combination were spot on as my family sat around reading them aloud to each other. We had quite a few laughs at Carr’s insights due to the accuracy that was easy for everyone to see, even if the person being assessed didn’t like hearing some of their shadow qualities! She nailed me to a tee in the line:

“The Aquarius Horse colleague is a mixed bag of energy, innovation, and inconsistency. They are hardworking and have lots of stamina, but can get carried away by their own enthusiasm at times. The Fire AqH and the Metal AqH in particular enjoy a fast-paced working environment, and become impatient with plodders in the workplace.”2

I really enjoyed the section on the combinations as children since I have a one-year old son. I was amazed by the accuracy of him as a Capricorn Tiger. It literally matches him perfectly, from being on the move EARLY (he started walking at 8 months) to requiring “presence and attention to help them into a sleep routine”3 (he only falls asleep when snuggled or held). I am definitely going to be sharing these insights with friends who have children!

My only complaint is that only the overarching sections are listed in the table of contents, so when you’re looking for a specific combination, you really have to flip through the pages. It can take a minute or two to find what you’re looking for, and I often find myself wishing I could check the table of contents to simply see which page to flip to. However, once you start understanding the general order of things, the flipping becomes easier.

Overall, Astrolations! is an immensely insightful guide to the unique blend of Western and Chinese astrology that shapes personality. Carr does a fantastic job of explaining the two astrological systems and seamlessly blends them together to provide well-rounded portrayals of each combination. This book absolutely will enhance your self-knowledge as well as give you a better understanding of the people in your life. From your significant other to colleagues to siblings and children, you’ll better be able to see the elements that make the person who they are and recognize how your own elemental signature interacts with theirs, fostering new awareness within your relationships.

This book would be great for anyone seeking to learn more about the intersection of Western and Chinese astrology, or for those who simply seek to learn all they can about who they are for personal insight and the meaningful people in their lives to enhance their bonds. And if you’re seeking even more guidance, check out Carr’s website, where she shares regularly on her blog.

Meeting the Melissae, by Elizabeth Ashley

Meeting the Melissae: The Ancient Greek Bee Priestesses of Demeter, by Elizabeth Ashley
O-Books,1803412496, 360 pages, October 2023

It’s more than likely you’ve heard about the Eleusinian Mysteries, a secret ritual which lasted for more than 4,000 years in Greece kept hidden by the threat of death if revealed to outsiders. Maybe you’ve read about the famous people who ventured to undergo this rite–Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Aeschylus–and questioned the impact it had on their contribution to the world. Or perhaps you’ve wondered if hallucinogens, such as kykeon or ergot, were involved in the divine experience those who were initiated into the mysteries came away with.

But have you ever stopped and wondered who the people were overseeing the ritual? If you look up the Eleusinian Mysteries on Wikipedia, there’s a whole page dedicated to the priesthood, yet absolutely no link for the priestesses. All that’s mentioned on Wikipedia is that these priestesses were the High Priestesses of Demeter and Kore (Persephone), one of the highest religious offices that enjoyed great prestige, but there’s scarce information about who these women were or the role they had within the ritual. As someone who is fascinated by ancient priestesses, I certainly wanted to know more!

In Meeting the Melissae: The Ancient Greek Bee Priestesses of Demeter, Elizabeth Ashley has done a beautiful job of unveiling the long-forgotten priestesses of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Melissae. The Melissae, which translates to “bees”, were some of the most influential priestesses of Ancient Greece, but modern scholars, just like Wikipedia, have largely neglected their role in the secret ritual. Unbeknownst to Ashley, her curiosity about the latin name of Lemon Balm, Melissa officialis, would spark a sacred journey as she set out to learn more about these fascinating women and their mysterious cult.

“Mystery work – as in the Mysteries of Eleusis, the domain of Demeter’s Melissae priestesses – is drawn from one’s own internal revelations. Peeling back layers of femininity, it reveals your part in life’s mystical pattern. Through it, one recognises the sacred privilege of being chosen as Earth steward.”1

The book begins with Ashley’s description of how she began to explore these priestesses of Demeter, including her initiations to the shamanism of the bees. Next, she spends a good amount of time teaching readers about bees themselves: different roles  in the hive, their life cycle, how they communicate, pollinate, and reproduce – and so much more! I learned a ton about bees from reading this book; I had absolutely no idea of the complexity and synchronization of inner workings of the hive. I have an entirely new appreciation for bees and now see them in a whole new light, especially after reading about their sacred symbolism in both ancient Egypt and ancient Greece.

“A potted version of some of his Orphic beliefs is a person was born with Dionysian perfectly pure spirit, housed in evil, chaotic Titanic flesh. Spirits were believed to drift down from the Heavens, disturbed by the chaos of creation, moving around on the breeze, accompanied by the bees, until children were born. At that moment, the bees then accompanied the Dionysian spirit down to Earth, where it was breathed into the body at a baby’s first gasp.”2

The flow of this book is a bit like a bee’s might appear: clear direction but a little bit this way, then a little that way, moving forward though often looping back in a circuitous route. There’s a lot to piece together, but there’s an intuition to Ashley’s transmission of information. She writes:

“Not all Melissae were priestesses, and not every priestess was known as Melissa. Likewise, contrary to what herbal texts would have us believe, they were not only affiliated to Demeter, or indeed only to Greece, being found much further afield in Asia Minor and Egypt for instance. They belonged to a tradition that had originated from many thousands of years before.”3

Therefore, to fully paint a picture of the Melissae for readers, Ashley covers a wide-range of topics, such as the life of ancient Greek priestesses and how one became a Greek priestess. Then she specifically goes into detail about the mysteries of Demeter and Persephone, Artemis, and Aphrodite before going even further back to the Minoan Priestesses and snake priestesses. She guides readers back in time to festivals (Thesmophoria) and rites (The Elusianian Mysteries, of course!) to highlight the connection to the Melissae.

My favorite chapter was titled “The Blood Mysteries”. She describes how M. officinalis is “profoundly involved with gynaecology, reducing period pain, balancing mood, and even guarding against post-natal depression.”4 Though she could not find any direct information association the Melissae with menstruation or sexual medicine, she came to the realizatino that Aphrodite’s girdle is the “sexual and gynaecological meridian”5, and working from this she pulls together compelling ideas about “family planning and colony control”6.

Though this book is extremely well-researched with plenty of references to follow up on, Ashley did not approach this undertaking as a scholar, but rather a woman on a quest looking for answers. The process of connecting with the Melissae involved soul-searching, opening up to new spirit guides, and piecing together bits of what was revealed to her. Ashley is very transparent about her journey, and in turn, she becomes a guide for the rest of us in the path to resurrect the ways of these lost priestesses.

“These reflections of the womb shamans have been brought down entirely from meditating and dreaming with Lemon Balm plant, with Melissa essential oil, CO2, and hydrolat, from using meditation techniques I have learnt and, of course, from spending time with the actual insects.”7

In recent news, bees have become a concern in the face of climate change. Changes in precipitation have been limiting their ability to collect food for their offspring, leading to a smaller population the following year. Bumble bees are one of the most susceptible species to the change of temperature. Concerns about bee population have led to encouragement to plant wildflowers and avoid the use of insecticides.

At the same time, one might assert in the face of patriarchy that the way of the priestess is also being threatened with extinction too. Might the bees and the priestesses of our world come together once again? After reading Ashley’s journey, I have hope that women of the world can rebuild their hive once again. For those who feel the calling to restore the divinity of both the bees and path of the priestess to its rightful place in the natural world, Meeting the Melissae is calling for you to dive in.

Spiritual Revelations from Beyond the Veil, by Douglas Charles Hodgson

Spiritual Revelations from Beyond the Veil: What Humanity Can Learn from the Near Death Experience, by Douglas Charles Hodgson
O-Books, 1803413409, 152 pages, January 2024

In his beautiful tribute to life on the Other Side, Douglas Charles Hodgson highlights experiences from people who have had near death experiences (NDEs) in Spiritual Revelations from Beyond the Veil: What Humanity Can Learn from the Near Death Experience. This book not only recaps these experiences, but also catalogs what he learned from over 500 interviews from the International Association for Near-Death Studies and its website.

Douglas Charles Hodgson is a retired lawyer, dean, and professor of law, who has focused on human rights, religious discrimination, and religious fundamentalism. Following his forty-year legal career in Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand, he began a study of twelve religions, as he searched for the meaning of life. After this exploration, he wrote a book called Transcendental Spirituality, Wisdom and Virtue. Hodgson has also written four other books.  Born in Canada, Hodgson now lives in Perth, Australia and has dual citizenship.

In his preface, Hodgson presents the concept for his book and how he came to be interested in NDE experiences, following the publication of his book on transcendental spirituality. He made use of information from the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) and the hundreds of accounts from people who experienced NDEs. He asserts that he “decouples spirituality from a religious context”1

“Indeed, numerous IANDS authors declared that before their near-death experience, they had no religion and did not believe in the existence of God or an afterlife, while others who were adherents to a particular religion or faith declared that after their experience, their particular religion was of less importance to them and henceforth aspired to be more spiritual in their outlook on life and in their dealings with others in the natural environment.”2

He hopes that this book will “provide comfort and assurance to those who have fear or uncertainty about the eventual demise of their physical bodies. It is to reassure them that their souls are eternal and that there is a beautiful afterlife to be enjoyed within the higher spiritual realms (our true home).”3

Hodgson takes care to let the reader know that all accounts were anonymous, and that no identifying information is shared. He also points out that while no two NDEs are the same, there are similarities and accounts that “tend to corroborate one another.”4 Within this book, Hodgson takes the accounts from people who have experienced an NDE and arranges the comments into nineteen categories.  

Starting each chapter with the name of the topic, Hodgson provides a brief explanation of the NDE information that he will include.  Then, he lists the comments or experiential narrative from each NDE that fits in this category. 

For example, the first chapter is entitled “God/The Source”, and it includes what various NDE authors “have described concerning their encounters with God and God’s supra-human qualities and attributes as well as any messages or revelations which were imparted to them either by God or higher spiritual beings.”5

Here are just a few of these comments:

“God exists as well as an afterlife beyond our earthly life.”6

“God is our creator and our soul returns to him.”7

“God is the center, and we are all spokes of the universal wheel.”8

My favorite chapter was one entitled “Loving Yourself”.  In this chapter, Hodgson shares the importance of loving oneself, “not in a narcissistic sense but in a compassionate sense.”9 He goes on to share revelations on self-love from those who experienced an NDE, including the following comment:

“My life review taught me that before we can let God’s light and love in,  we must forgive ourselves.”10

Hodgson’s book is written in a very conversational, clear style. The information is presented in a very open and objective way, and one that does not include any bias or religious connotations. I am impressed by the time and work that went into researching, cataloging, and writing this chronicle of NDEs. The organization of all of this material, from over 500 accounts of NDEs, is truly remarkable. He also includes a few sources for learning more about NDEs. 

What I like best about Hodgson’s book is the way that I can use this information for daily encouragement or journal prompts.  For example, in the chapter called “Our Earthly Life Purpose and Meaning”, I saw these thought-provoking prompts that I want to use for daily affirmations:

“Life is meant to be lived in abundance.”

“Do not be concerned over what others may think of you. “

“There is meaning in everything.”

Spiritual Revelations from Beyond the Veil would be great for all interested in what happens after we pass on, including anyone who needs encouragement after a loss, someone at a crossroads or someone asking “why?” in a general context.  In Hodgson’s own words:

“For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and for those who feel lost and confused about the meaning and purpose to their lives and what lies ahead of them, it is hoped that this book will provide comfort, peace, solace, assurance and direction.”11

My husband and I work with grieving people, giving mediumship readings, and providing resources for life after a loss. Hodgson’s book will provide us with even more information to share with our clients, family and friends.

Phoenixes & Angels, by Carmen Turner-Schott

Phoenixes & Angels: Mastering the Eighth & Twelfth Astrological Houses, by Carmen Turner-Schott, LISW, MSW
O-books, 1803410809, 290 pages, July 2023

Whether one is interested in astrology for mystical or mundane purposes, it’s hard to deny there’s something about the eighth and twelfth houses that stirs up the soul. These aren’t areas in our charts we can tread lightly. We’re either being plummeted into depths or transcended beyond the ordinary, and this can leave one feeling a bit traumatized or confused at times. In Phoenixes & Angels: Mastering the Eighth & Twelfth Astrological Houses, Carmen Turner-Schott draws upon her own experience of working in these special realms to teach readers how to navigate the waters for themselves.

Turner-Schott has been studying astrology for over 30 years with a specific research interest in the eighth and twelfth house. She holds a Master of Social Work degree and is both a licensed independent and clinical social worker. She courageously holds space for those dealing with the energies of these houses in her daily life through astrological consultations of clients worldwide and her work with victims of trauma. Turner-Schott is quite the writer too, and she has previously published nine books, including A Practical Look at the Planets through the Houses, Astrology From a Christian Perspective, Moon Signs, Houses & Healing, and Sun, Houses & Healing.

While she’s also written books focusing on the eighth and twelfth house individually (The Mysteries of the Eighth Astrological House and The Mysteries of the Twelfth Astrological House), Phoenixes & Angels is a combination of research and information on the two houses. Turner-Schott’s wrote this book specifically for “eighth and twelfth house people”1, which she describes as those with planets in those houses or “someone who has an abundance of Scorpio and Pisces energy.”2 The information is also useful for those with a prominent Pluto or Neptune placement in their chart.

Eighth house people have been termed Phoenixes by Turner-Schott because of how they are continually transformed and reborn throughout their life. With each rebirth, they grow stronger and more resilient, though this is not without hardship and difficulties along the way. In “Part One: Mastering the Eighth House”, Turner-Schott delves into the key aspects characteristic of Phoenixes, such as their strength, power, childhood secrets, and need for privacy and intimacy, as well as naturally being drawn to the taboo realms of death and sexuality.

“Eighth house people are meant to rise like a Phoenix out of the ashes. They must let the past die to release past hurts and trauma. They are meant to let go, destined to become beacons of hope for those who are hopeless. . . . Born with extreme empathy for those who suffer, they know what it feels like.”3

Along the way, Turner-Schott offers guidance for eighth house people as they learn how to forgive and let go, deal with the unseen world through spiritual gifts and psychic senses, battle with tough emotions like depression and rage, and perform self-care as they heal and deal with trauma that arises.

“Part Two: Mastering the Twelfth House” focuses on those Turner-Schott calls Angels. The twelfth house has to do with a belief in a higher power and making sacrifices to bring in healing energy. She describes how Angels are called to walk a spiritual path in life, alleviating the pain and suffering through their innate compassion and kindness. 

“Angels who fell to earth to support and uplift the lives of others, they are destined to come out of the mist and be seen. Walking in two worlds, with one foot in the spiritual and the other in reality helps them to find peace.”4

Topics covered by Turner-Schott include 12th house Angel’s need for isolation and solitude, imaginative gifts and mystical inclinations, propensity for secrets and illusions, connection to foreign countries and large animals, behind the scenes work, karmic issues to work out with their fathers and mothers, romanticism and loneliness, connection to cosmic consciousness, and influence of their dreams.

At the end of both parts, ​​Turner-Schott also provides information about what each planet in the eighth/twelfth house means natally and when transiting the house. And then there are quotes of insight and wisdom provided by Phoenixes and Angels themselves. Gleaning advice directly from those with these placements really integrated all that Turner-Schott had written in this section and creates a sense of connection, reminding readers they are not alone in their eighth house struggles, strengths, and lessons.

All in all, Phoenixes & Angels is a really interesting take on the eighth and twelfth house. Turner-Schott’s combination of personal experience, insights, and feelings, along with her examples and testimonials of clients from direct research, deepens readers’ understanding of these spiritually transformational houses. This book is a wonderful resource for those with eighth or twelfth house energies in their chart looking to find out more, whether one is new to astrology or has been studying for some time, to gain guidance in their unique challenges and abilities and grow in self-awareness.

Empathy For the Devil, by Jerry Hyde

Empathy for the Devil: Make Your Demons Work for You. Without Selling Your Soul., by Jerry Hyde
O-Books, 1789047315, 160 pages, November 2021

I don’t subscribe to the whole idea of love and light as a spiritual path; I personally feel that we do ourselves a great disservice when we discard the darkest parts of ourselves in favor of remaining positive. Jerry Hyde’s book Empathy for the Devil: Make Your Demons Work for You. Without Selling Your Soul. is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Not only does Hyde straight up tell you that the whole book is shadow work, he actually explains why his book isn’t full of positive affirmations. He says: 

“Personal growth isn’t – and shouldn’t be – nice, it’s not about dream catchers, gong baths, or djembe abuse – it’s about going to the places where most of us have successfully avoided throughout our lives, facing our demons and taking responsibility for whatever we find in the dark recesses of our being.”1

This book might come across as particularly theatrical, and with good reason. Hyde’s extensive career in film, television, theater, and music comes across in the way he writes. Retraining as a psychotherapist has not diminished the flamboyant way he writes, and I am completely here for it.

Part confessional, part blueprint for excavating the deep crevasses of our psyche, this book is challenging in that it demands your full participation. Hyde writes as one who has been there and done that, and there is comfort to be taken from that. Personally, I want to be guided by someone who has done the work and not just have instructions and rituals barked at me: this isn’t a spiritual boot camp. Hyde takes great care to be as open and honest as he can; there is no coddling here, no room for those looking to take a short cut and emerge unscathed. As with most books of this type, there is a strong recommendation to travel with a therapist and to journal through the difficult emotions that are surely to arise.  

Hyde fully appreciates that this book is not for everyone and revels in the fact that those who seek it out are not the average Earth dweller. As for himself, Hyde states very matter-of-factly that he is not your average therapist, saying:

“What makes me – and any half-decent therapist – dangerous, is my understanding that true transformation is a process of death and rebirth, death and rebirth, death and rebirth, a constant never-ending cycle of destruction and creation, shattering and rebuilding, chaos and order with no objective other than to constantly be in a state of evolution.”2

It seems like a lot all at once but believe me when I say that picking up this book will save your sanity and just might save your life. Personal growth is exhausting despite the positive outcomes we may experience in conjunction with laying bare our most painful experiences. Sometimes we need to go through the patterns of excavating, re-experiencing, and healing many times before we can honestly say that we have dealt with the root cause, and sometimes we never even get close to discovering that root cause.

The book is broken into four parts which make a lot of sense once you get into the material. Keep in mind, this is not your average self-help book; this is a lifestyle changing guide designed to bring the reader back to themselves again and again. The first section, aptly titled “Here we go…” is a robust intro to both the writer and the materials that he will be addressing. It’s here we get our first taste of who this guy is and I will say that if I ever have the opportunity to meet him, I will no doubt shift into my awkward weirdo persona and say something inane like how much I love his shoes. I’m not great in those situations, is what I’m saying.

The remaining three parts are titled “Sex”, “Drugs”, and “Rock & Roll” and it’s here that we get what we came for. Hyde admits that there is no solid path forward in the acknowledging, exorcizing, and healing cycle that the reader is about to tread upon. What he offers is his approach, and it’s a good one.

There is an additional section called “Transformation” after each chapter and it’s here where we begin to realize what kind of an emotional roller coaster we just got strapped into. Depending on the kind of experiences the reader has had, these transformation segments are quite pointed and sometimes difficult to work through. These are the sections where some might find it useful to have a mental health practitioner with them, as the questions open up a variety of doors some of us may have nailed shut in our youth. It’s no easy feat to pry open these doors we’ve taken such great pains to keep closed, but trust me when I say it’s worth it.

Empathy For the Devil is not an easy book to read. There are a lot of questions and exercises in it that force a re-experiencing of situations that might have been buried due to how traumatic the event was. Personally, I rolled up my sleeves, poured myself a giant glass of wine, and threw myself into it. I did my best to tackle the hard questions and those I wasn’t able to deal with that I flagged and plan to go back to when I am able. If the desire to get to it and stop f*cking around is strong, pick this up, or gift it to someone who is in that headspace. It’s beautiful and life changing and mind blowing and provides just the right amount of trepidation as the chapters roll by. I’m not saying it’s a replacement for a mental health practitioner; I’m saying it’s a great way to get into the muck if you are so inclined.

Spirit Life & Science, by Mahãn Hannes Jacob

Spirit Life & Science: Understanding Your Gifts of Healing and Mediumship, by Mahãn Hannes Jacob
O-Books, 1789043158, 424 pages, December 2021

At long last, evidence for the interconnection of spirit and science is becoming more widely accepted. Mahãn Hannes Jacob is one of the most prominent healers of this age, who actively works as a practitioner of mediumship and spiritual healing, as well as teaching and lecturing worldwide. Spirit Life & Science: Understanding Your Gifts of Healing and Mediumship is very practical advice from Jacob himself about the fundamentals of this pathway. It is essential ready for all of those seeking to better understand how to use energy to heal, develop mediumship abilities, and advance spiritual healing as a therapeutic modality.

Since Spirit Life & Science is imbued with Jacob’s energy, it’s important to understand the integral role he plays in shaping the future of spiritual healing as an ally to science. Jacob obtained a graduate degree from Arthur Findlay College in London to become a Professor of Mediumship. He is also a Spiritualists’ National Union Approved Healer. In 1990, he opened his own clinic in Switzerland, where he has been a practitioner of mediumship and spiritual healing. In 2005, Jacob founded the Swiss School for Healing and Mediumship, where he now serves as Director of the Fréquences. He teaches on topics such as spiritual healing, mediumship, Therapeutic Touch and meditation.

Needless to say, Jacob knows his stuff, and Spirit Life & Science is a compendium of his knowledge. There are twenty-six chapters in total, plus meditations, exercises, and secrets for healing. The content of this book is a nice balance between anecdotes and evidence-based information. With this style, Jacob effectively conveys his message because the reader gains an education about the data on the subject, along with a personalized tale of how mediumship and spiritual healing take place within real life rather than just studies.

The start of the book is a fantastic overview of mediumship in general, including information about who practices it and why someone would want to engage in mediumship. Next, the book covers a range of scientific data about energy transmission and the effects of using spiritual energy for healing. Following this, Jacob describes all types of ways to communicate with spirits, from different types of mediumship (trance, physical, etc.). Jacob does a wonderful job of bridging mind, body, and spirit to show the strong connection between them, inviting new ways of perceiving how they work together for optimal health and well-being.

Spirit Life & Science delves into many topics, making it relevant for both beginner and advanced energy healers alike. A beginner would benefit from the all-encompassing view of the fields of mediumship and spiritual healing since Jacob writes in a way that makes them approachable and easy to understand. He discusses prominent historical figures that have furthered the fields, many forms of meditation, breathwork, and healing modalities, as well as common fears and misconceptions people have who are unfamiliar with the naturalness of mediumship and spiritual healing. And for those already familiar with the subject, Jacob’s personal experience and innovative techniques are sure to enhance one’s mediumship and spiritual healing skill set.

What I like most about the book is the color illustrations. For instance, pages 300-320 feature full-length instructions for the Therapeutic Touch protocol and photographs of Jacob’s hand placements for patients both laying down and sitting. Looking through the photographs helps to see the physical movement of the practitioner on the client when performing the Therapeutic Touch protocol, and if I were a practitioner, the imagery would make me feel much more confident using it on a client than simply reading instructions would.

Another really neat photograph is on page 92, which shows the results of an energy transmission experiment Jacob performed on plants. He energized one plant, but not the other, and otherwise tended to them the same. There is a huge difference between the flourishing of the plant that was energized and the plant that was not. This is just one example of the many different studies recorded in the book, many of which also feature data tables or photographs to illustrate the results.

My favorite chapter in the book is “Extraction of Pathological Information (EPI)”, which is a unique method currently only practiced by Jacob. It reminds me a bit of psychic surgery, but it’s actually an information extraction method. He describes how he learned about this gift through healer Estor Bravo and then by a spirit too. Plus, there’s photographs of the mark EPI leaves on patients, as well as a handful of success stories. In a medically supervised study, this healing method had a 94% success rate.1

Jacob heals with this method by understanding that the manifested pathologies “are based on harmful information and when it is removed, a great many patients are healed and freed of their ills or improve considerably.”2His thoughts on the future of medicine were absolutely mind-blowing to me, but as someone who was able to shift belief and affect biology, his notion also really made sense. Jacob writes:

“Allopathic medicine neglects and does not recognize the notion of inscription or memory. Yet everything is based on this. Once again, I want to emphasize that the medicine of the future will be information medicine!”3

My only caveat about the book is that it does have a religious influence. Jacob’s writing is influenced by both Christianity and Buddhism. He is a practitioner of Kriya Yoga, and received his spiritual name, Mahãn, by Swamiji Dharmananda Sarawati Maharaj. Readers that do not feel connected to these religions might feel a bit at odds with some of the information presented. However, for me, this didn’t detracted from the wealth of knowledge still available in the book, particularly in regard to the science behind energy transmission.

Toward the end of the book are meditations and forty-six exercises to enhance one’s mediumship and spiritual healing abilities. These alone are worth the read for anyone called to this path. Some are individual, while others are better with a partner or in a group, so I highly recommend this section for people who are involved in a community of spiritual healing.

All in all, Spirit Life & Science is a fascinating read filled with practical information to enhance one’s mediumship abilities. It’s the perfect blend of story and facts, conveying Jacob’s one-of-a-kind insight into this topic. This book should be a foundational read for all spiritual healing, as it does such a wonderful job of helping readers to understand the basics of energy transference, as well as the potent potential this healing modality has for the future.

Cool Sex, by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman

Cool Sex: An Essential Young Adult Guide to Loving, Mindful Sex, by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman
O-Books, 1789043514, 128 pages, December 2020

When picking up Cool Sex: An Essential Young Adult Guide to Loving, Mindful Sex by Diana Richardson and Wendy Doeleman, I really didn’t know what to expect. In what way was this book going to approach the idea of sex being cool? What I found was a fascinating examination of a sexual style that is (apparently) foreign to most sexually active people. I admit, I certainly had no knowledge of what the authors were about to present.

I was quickly drawn in by the meaning of “cool sex,” which Richardson and Doelman contrast with “hot sex.” Hot sex is the too-often dominant style of sex, characterized by fast, vigorous, and highly-stimulating activity that is intended to reach a peak orgasm. It is goal-oriented for one or both partners. This type of sex, while very exciting, is usually accompanied by a drop in energy after sex, and can also give rise to feelings of loneliness and depression.

Cool sex, on the other hand, is sex that is focused on awareness of the present moment: it has no goal. Instead, cool sex is about relaxing and opening the body to the flow of sexual energy between you and your partner. Through the techniques and mindful practice that Richardson and Doeleman describe, sex can become much more intimate, connected, and loving for everyone involved.

“[Y]our attention is directed inside your body, feeling any subtle or delicate good feelings inside of you. And you keep on feeling yourself – moment by moment. It is very much a meditation and mindfulness practice.”1

The authors describe the origins of cool sex, such as the tantric traditions in India, and present cool sex as a form of neo-tantra, where sexual activity is an aspect of spirituality. But the goal of the book is not just to offer a fresh perspective on ancient methods and ideas around sex. Richardson and Doeleman seek to help disabuse their readers of the idea that sex should/must be hot and goal-oriented (all the time).

While there is nothing inherently wrong with hot sex, the authors urge that exploring sex through relaxation and awareness can reveal new depths of sensitivity and result in wholly different forms of ecstasy — forms which heighten your creative, kundalini energy rather than diminish it through release (orgasm).

One of the most interesting points in the application of cool sex to both men and women is that each sex has a positive and negative energetic pole. These poles exist in different areas for males and females. By learning how to lovingly increase the flow of energy between these poles on yourself and your partner, your connection deepens. The authors provide plenty of advice and instructions about how to gently tend to these poles for relaxation and preparation for sex. I found these suggestions immeasurably helpful helping to create a relaxing and loving state, regardless of whether we ended up having sex.

Along with a deeper energetic and physical connection, cool sex also increases emotional openness between partners. Richardson and Doeleman also emphasize that the mindfulness of cool sex can help work through emotional tension, as partners will be more attuned to their own feelings and needs, as well as more receptive to the other person. Specific methods suggested in the book may also be useful for healing old emotional wounds, stored as tension in the genital region. But again, cool sex isn’t about having a goal (even the goal of healing) to accomplish. Cool sex is about being present to your sensations/feelings and allowing sexual energy to flow between partners.

Throughout the book, the authors regularly use testimonial quotes from interviews with people who’ve used these practices. Although making the switch to cool sex can take time and may not be super exciting at the start, these testimonials help to reassure the reader that allowing this practice to unfold in its own time yields amazing, deeply loving experiences. These quotes help the reader easily identify with other people who’d never considered an alternative to hot sex before, but are now reaping the benefits of these practices.

Overall, this book is a pleasure to read. The writing flowed nicely and each chapter is broken down into several sections to make the contents clear and digestible. Although Cool Sex could be a jumping-off point for someone interested in learning more about tantra, it is a unique guide that stands on its own. The authors do a great job of showing us an alternative to the common style of hot sex and providing a diverse range of meditations, techniques, and simple advice to help us all cool sex down and relax into ecstasy.


My husband (Zak from above) and I intended to write our own parts to do this review jointly, but I think he’s succinctly summed up the premise of Cool Sex. Rather than go into details, I am going to add in my own bit about how beneficial this book has been for our relationship.

I think cool sex is something I had been seeking for a while, but didn’t even know was a thing. Yes, it’s fun to get hot and heavy at a moment’s notice, but early on in my sexual journey, I realized how fleeting that moment was — often over within a quarter of an hour. I longed for a way to connect for longer periods of time in a more intimate way now that I’ve married a man I truly adore. The ability to sustain our passion and connect sexually in a way that feels genuine is a true gift that Cool Sex has provided us with.

My favorite thing about the book was the suggestions the authors make for stimulating energy flow between my husband and me. They discuss the polarity of male and female bodies. Generally, women have a positive pole at their breasts and negative pole at their yoni. For men, the positive pole is the perineum and the negative pole is the chest. Realizing this, we’ve been able to better guide the energy in our love-making to align with this polarity, and it feels really good so far!

To be honest, previously my breasts often were never the focal point during sex, but now they have taken center-stage. Much to my delight, based on the information about how the heart is the source of a female’s outward energy, I’ve discovered a whole new relationship with my breasts. I now notice them throughout the day, intentionally stimulate them with kindness and love, and sense into how this connection affects my energy. This has been truly life changing!

Practicing cool sex together has been a fun, exploratory experience for my husband and I because it makes us more aware of how we’re cultivating and sharing our sexual energy. When things start getting hot, we can slow it down with laughter when we realize and then fall back into a more sensual rhythm.

This practice really makes it feel like the love-making is coming from within, rather than guided by external expectations of how sex should be based on cultural portrayals of it. It’s nice to not feel the pressure to sexually perform, and rather have the opportunity to sink in and enjoy the moment. I think this is the secret I’ve been looking for all along!

I think many people would greatly benefit from reading Cool Sex and integrating the practices into their love-making. (I will note that it seems primarily intended for cis-heterosexual couples, but the principles of cool sex are applicable in all sexual relationships.) So far, integrating the information presented has certainly has cultivated new layers of intimacy in our relationship, and we are only at the start of this practice. I look forward to slowing it down even more as we become more comfortable with cool sex. I’m in it for the long-haul with my hubby anyway, so we might as well savor every last drop together, and this book teaches the sexual techniques to do just that. 🙂