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Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path, by Connie Zweigh

Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path, by Connie Zweig, Ph.D.
Park Street Press, 9781644117224, 273 pages, May 2023

After reading a number of books on shadow work a few years ago, including one by Connie Zweig, I knew I wanted to read her latest book:  Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path.  Zweig is a retired therapist, former book editor, and author of six other books, including The Inner Work of Age. She has been practicing and teaching meditation for more than 50 years. She is also an expert on ageism and has written extensively on the topic, as well as how mindfulness changes as people age. Zweig is also a wife, stepmother, and grandmother. Her website is https://conniezweig.com/.

Zweig began her spiritual journey at the age of 19 in a meditation class on the UC Berkeley campus and then decided to take a month-long meditation retreat. Following that retreat with teacher training and more meditation, Zweig later became disenchanted with the community and returned home.  When she found a Jungian analyst, she began to learn about the shadow and started a ten-year journey to examine her own beliefs and the philosophies of mystical traditions. With her therapist’s help, she looked at her grief and disillusionment with her teacher and his teachings.  She also studied, earned her Ph.D. and became a therapist.

Zweig does a deep dive into the shadow aspects of spiritual life and spiritual teachers, including research into almost every spiritual and religious tradition. I was shocked to hear of the widespread emotional and sexual abuse in all religious groups in the US and around the world.  She discusses not only the widely publicized abuse in the Catholic church, but also in the Southern Baptist Church and others. She spoke with those who were abused, as well as some of the religious leaders themselves. She also discusses negative meditation experiences and some of the dangers of meditation, from “moderate anxiety to dissociation to psychotic symptoms that required hospitalization.”1

One of Zweig’s goals in writing this book is to provide information that fosters better discernment on the part of the student or parishioner:

“As would be the case with any abusive relationship, if they can detect a warning sign, such as emotional coercion or physical intimidation, they can more consciously choose to stay or leave, to speak up or stay silent.  .  .  . If you are seeing a warning sign, please ask yourself: If I didn’t believe this teacher to be awakened or enlightened, would this behavior be called abusive?” 2

Zweig shares over and over that a student’s “longing for the light evokes its opposite: a shattering encounter with spiritual darkness.”3 This darkness is usually a projection of the person’s own darkness, usually formed in childhood.  She shares an example of a man who joined a Pentecostal church and began to fast, live out of his car, and even purchased a billboard for the church. He did all of this at the urging of his pastor to win souls and give as much money as possible to the church ministry.  After working with Zweig in therapy, the man came to see the shaming and emotional abuse from the pastor as similar to his own father’s abuse.  By healing the shame and guilt, he was able to claim a more conscious relationship with himself and his own sovereignty.

Zweig writes in a very conversational style, as if you are sitting in a coffee shop or someone’s home discussing the spiritual journey. The information is related in a very factual way, with her sources clearly noted and she has carefully done her research. Underscoring the information is her love for meditation and how it has shaped her life. The reverence she shows for the traditions and philosophy of meditation and spiritual practice have fueled her search for the truth and a solution to this type of abuse.

Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path will be enjoyed by the serious meditation student, teacher, or anyone who has an interest in the holiness of meditation and spiritual teachers. Therapists and those who are interested in more information on shadow work would also benefit from reading this book. However, this book would not be a good reference for the beginner student of shadow work.

Zweig Includes a very extensive table of contents, which makes it easy to go back and find different sections. She divides the book into two parts: “Before the Fall: A Guide for Faithful Believers” and “After the Fall: A Guide for Disillusioned Believers”. She also breaks down Part One into “a longing for God”, “a longing for the human beloved” and “a longing for the divine human”. This puts the book into the proper context and makes it easier to navigate.

In Appendix 1 she includes the ASI Code of Ethics and in Appendix 2 she includes the IMS Code of Ethics. This information denotes clear boundaries for both the Association for Spiritual Integrity (ASI) and the Insight Meditation Society (IMS). This work also includes an extensive bibliography and a complete index including many of the people named in each of the chapters.

In Zweig’s own words:

“To sum up, we may meet a teacher’s shadow, we may meet our own shadow, or we may suffer disillusionment with spiritual beliefs or practices. In any case, our dreams of transcendence and communion fade. . . . When the meeting with the Other occurs, the descent begins. It is this loss of innocence and descent to the underworld that initiates us into the mystery and complexity of the human shadow, especially as it is linked to divine life.”4

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.

Angels in Waiting, Robbie Holz with Judy Katz

Angels in Waiting: How to Reach Out to Your Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides, by Robbie Holz with Judy Katz
Destiny Books, 1644113163, 144 pages, November 2021

In troubled times, it always feels good to know there is someone we can count on: our guardian angel and spirit guides. But too often we forget our divine, celestial team of support. Angels in Waiting: How to Reach Out to Your Guardian Angels and Spirit Guides by Robbie Holz with Judy Katz is the perfect reminder of the ample assistance available to us, if we just remember to ask. This lovely book opens the mind, heart, and spirit to the Heavenly realms, inviting in a bounty of loving, blissful energy.

Holz is an internationally acclaimed healer and medium. After healing herself of hepatitis C and fibromyalgia with Aboriginal spiritual practices, she went on to write Secrets of Aboriginal Healing and Aboriginal Secrets of Awakening. Currently, she offers healing sessions, guided by her team of spirits, to facilitate healing in clients through tuning into unconscious beliefs or emotional issues contributing to their illness or injury. Katz is a book writer, publisher, and promoter, who enjoys using her skills to connect authors and their audience.

The authors’ compassion and empathy seep through every word of Angels in Waiting, creating sacred trust between her and the reader, as they teach how to awaken to the connection with one’s guardian angel. The book moves at a pace that makes this spiritual practice easy to integrate into one’s life. While communicating with one’s guardian angel is always possible, it can still take time to learn to listen to the wisdom of one’s spirit team. The grounded and simple approach shared for connecting with one’s spirit team makes divine support accessible for all, regardless of wherever you’re currently at on your spiritual path.

“Communicating with these other realms is a process. Contacting angels and guides is not a matter of raising your face toward heaven and asking–even earnestly pleading–for assistance. All your problems will not be magically solved with the stroke of an angelic wand. However, if you take the process of “reaching out” seriously and learn to view it as a series of steps, I promise you it will yield exponential results that will impact your life in many positive ways.”1

And as the authors guide you through this process, it’s as though they intuitively knew the questions you might ask and wrote about it for you. Multiple times, just when I was starting to question something, the next section answered it! For instance, I was wondering how one distinguishes between information from their guardian angel and information from their mind, and Holz and Katz write all about this and includes a list of signs that one’s guardian angel is trying to connect with them.

Just like human relationships, the authors emphasizes that our relationship with our guardian angel and spirit guides shouldn’t be one way. I really appreciated her pointing this out, because I often forget this myself. I’ll pray or speak with my guardian angel in times of need, but our relationship would be strengthened by having daily practice. They recommends journaling, making a shrine, and meditating as some of the ways to include your guardian angel in your day to day life.

One thing in particular that is conveyed is the importance of trusting one’s own intuition.

“Your spirit guides and angels will not guide you through your fears. Rather, with great love they will guide you through your instincts.”2

I can’t tell you how many times I talk myself out of doing something I feel called to do, while mustering the energy to do something I don’t feel called to do but think I “should”. The authors’ framing of how our angels guide us through instinct has made me trust myself more since reading the book. I am remembering the purpose of my intuition is to guide my path forward, and that it’s important to listen to my instinct without overthinking things.

Our angels can help us with so many things, which Holz and Katz shares with us chapter by chapter. They covers how angels can help us with money and success, assist us in healing physically, overcome heartbreak, find love, work through life’s challenges, and change our self-hatred into self-love. All we have to do is ask!

It made me start wondering why I haven’t been reaching out to my angels more, and I started a practice of meditating with them for clarity and peace in my life. I am going through a bit of a career pivot right now and have been concerned about the future, so I also have been asking my angels for help, trusting the path forward is meant for me will be divinely guided.

“Let your angels and guides help you find the job, career, or passion you deserve, the one that will lead you to a fulfilling life based on love, not one where you are mired in boredom or frustration. Just know that there is always a way out of a stalled work situation if you listen to your spirit team and let them take the reins.”3

My favorite thing about this book is the variety of techniques used to assist readers, including meditations, case studies, and anecdotes of other’s spiritual journey. The case studies especially helped me to see angelic guidance, healing, and transformation are possible–others have experienced it, and so can I. I’m the type of person who really appreciates real life stories of success–they give me faith and motivate me to nurture my relationship with my guardian angel–and I am really glad that Holz and Katz included them as a teaching tool.

Another really neat thing the authors provides readers with in the Appendix is an explanation of the different dimensions. Many authors toss around terms like the 3rd dimension or 5th dimension without clarification. They discusses a shift in the heart that is changing the consciousness on Earth as more people awaken to the 5th dimension. Since she is using these terms, I appreciated that she clearly defines a dimension and then explains the first through sixth dimension for readers.

All in all, Angels in Waiting is an uplifting book that will help you to attune yourself to communication with your guardian angel and spirit guides. The authors’ approach is practical and down to earth, while simultaneously filled with a supportive, divine energy thorough as well. It’s the perfect book for those just learning about guardian angels. Those who already have a relationship with their angel will surely benefit also from reading it, as the case studies are inspirational and the wisdom of Holz and Katz is generously shared. This book is a small blessing that can most certainly lead to big transformations.

Witch, Please, By Victoria Maxwell

Witch, Please: Empowerment and Enlightenment for the Modern Mystic, by Victoria Maxwell
Red Wheel Books, 9781590035320, 200 pages, March 2022

I love a book that opens with a powerful statement. Victoria Maxwell’s beautifully written offering, Witch, Please: Empowerment and Enlightenment for the Modern Mystic, starts by telling the reader that the magic isn’t in the book they are holding: the magic is inside them. This type of tone setting is precisely why this book belongs in everyone’s collection, whether they view themselves as witchy, spiritual, or simply just an interested passerby.

A modern mystic and spiritual teacher, Maxwell is devoted to serving her community through her online classes, in person workshops, private sessions, and a variety of social media groups and subscription offerings. Her focus is on helping those she works with reconnect to their own light, their inner guidance, spiritual path and power so they can live out their best and highest lives.

The book is set out cleanly, with two parts as well as an introduction, glossary, acknowledgements and index. There is also a special addition that I wasn’t expecting but makes perfect sense why it was included: “The Next Chapter’” It’s a page and a half long and resonated deeply with me when I read it. Maxwell sums up the spirit of her book in five points that reflect the depth of care she feels for those searching for their place in the spiritual world. It’s a beautiful way of ending the book and imparting a feeling of completion.

The book is divided into two parts. Part One deal with the basics: laying foundations for your practice, tools, actual practices, aligning with friends in spirit, and making magic. Part Two talks about practical magic: relationships, setting up a home sanctuary, money magic, magic for careers, and living your purpose. The glossary is a high-level collection of terms used throughout the book that some who are venturing down this path for the first time might not be familiar with. For me, it was interesting to see how Maxwell defines terms that are used often within the spiritual realm.

The introduction establishes Maxwell’s early influences as well as her personal journey through spiritualism. Her writing is clean and purposeful, with no excessive verbiage and easy to understand language. That’s not to say that her work is basic: this book is far from that. While certainly geared towards those who are just starting their journey, there is a lot packed into this book. For me, reading similar information isn’t monotonous: it’s interesting for me to see how different people interpret similar themes. I am also curious to understand how others view their own craft and how they personally practice whatever form of magic they subscribe to. 

Maxwell talks at length about protection in the first part of the book, which is something I feel is somewhat overlooked at times. We assume that those reading know how to protect themselves and their energy and Maxwell’s decision to include a lengthy section on various practices is wonderful to read. She understands that some of protection work is shadow work, in that you cannot protect yourself from creating your own negativity if you are not aware you are doing it. She says, “We can’t walk thought life protecting ourselves against others without doing a bit of shadow work and paying attention to what we are putting out there too.”1

She mentions being aware of the type of energy we bring to certain situations and ensuring that we are doing our best to raise those vibrations intentionally and mindfully. She pairs this practice with clearing, which makes damn good sense! She explains the process:

“We can protect ourselves all we like, but we must also clear out the energetic gunk we pick up along the way…If you are full of someone else’s thoughts, emotions, or energy before you start a spell you may end up manifesting things you don’t really want.”2

Sections of the book are printed in a different color and are designated as action items, for want of a better phrase. These sections include prayers, lists of bullet points for consideration, recipes, and so on. I found the different font to be quite useful in helping sort and separate the book visually as I progressed through it. For those who can discern color, the eye immediately tracks to the different font and recognizes it as important, something that I very much appreciated as sometimes I become lazy and let my eyes skim over text without truly absorbing it. 

The blend of shadow work with the various spiritual practices is very much my jam and I am fully appreciative of how Maxwell entwined these two themes seamlessly in this book. Throughout the book, there are references to clearing your energy and examining your relationships to various things like money and career, and all of these things resonate deeply with me. I have found that the best magic I have ever done for myself has always come on the heels of some deep excavation I’ve done in the dark hours of the night. I am happy to see that Maxwell has illuminated this very important aspect of working magic in her book.

Some people might pick up Witch, Please and dismiss it because it’s pink and cute and looks like a beach read. Those people don’t deserve this book in their hands so let them put it down and then make sure they never see it again. Grab a copy for yourself, for your aunt who is always making you teas, your best friend who loves flowers, and the office mate who always seems extremely put together. Each one will get something different out of this book, which is precisely the point. Personally, this is the book that I will pull down off my shelf when I feel a bit off as it’s a beautiful reminder of encouragement to stand in my power.

Holy Love, by Elisa Romeo and Adam Foley

Holy Love: The Essential Guide to Soul-Fulfilling Relationships, by Elisa Romeo and Adam Foley
New World Library, 160868802X, 224 pages, February 2022

Holy Love: The Essential Guide to Soul-Fulfilling Relationships by Elisa Romeo and Adam Foley is a collaborative project between a couple who began their spiritual paths as individuals, but discovered the infinite depths of divine love through their relationship. As partners with children, Elisa and Adam help couples connect with their own Souls, and with one another’s, to transform relationships and bring about a state of mystic union with the divine love that flows outward from every Soul.

Reading through the first few sections of Holy Love, it’s easy to get the impression that, like so many other spiritual and New Age-y texts, this book is going to be a repetition of familiar ideas and platitudes. I’m happy to say, however, that I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of attention this book gives to elucidating the various relationships we have with other people, or with distinct aspects of ourselves.

The main focus of Holy Love is that we need to recognize how these different aspects – notably, the ego and the Soul – relate to one another within ourselves, as well as how they relate to these aspects within others. In fact, the central thesis of the book is that there are four unique kinds of relationships that can exist between two people. Whether the people in question are romantic partners, family members, friends, or perhaps even strangers, the four kinds of relationships are always in a dynamic interplay with one another.

Unfortunately, and for many reasons, only a couple – or even just one – of these relationships tends to be our primary focus. Of the four kinds of relationship – ego-to-ego, ego-to-Soul within ourselves, ego-to-their-Soul, and Soul-to-Soul – our socio-cultural practices often neglect all the others in favor of the first relationship: between one’s own ego and that of the other person. Although this may seem like a familiar topic, it’s the authors’ acceptance of ego, and its role in our relationships, that sets this book apart.

Drawing from a wide variety of spiritual practices, religions, depth psychology, and personal experiences, Romeo and Foley urge that the ego has a necessary place in our lives as mystics – a person who is holy, or whole, due to their immersion in love whose source lies beyond the material world. The authors advocate that every one of us is capable of being a mystic through our connection to divine love. Yet, if we try to overcome or erase the ego in pursuit of some sort of “spiritual purity,” we also lose a practical connection to others in the material world.

“[I]f we negate the human realm and rely solely on the spiritual connection, we may be at risk of minimizing the (very human) importance of showing up consistently for others, being accountable for our own behavior, and owning our personal responsibility for our inner development.”1

Although I could continue to explore the ins-and-outs of the four types of relationships discussed in Holy Love, the expositional and theoretical points of this book are just one aspect. Going hand-in-hand with discussion of the four relationships and their interplay are exercises at the end of almost every chapter in the book. These range from meditations, to journaling exercises, to conversations and activities with others. Holy Love goes even further than other books in that it also provides links to online resources, such as recorded meditations, created by the authors. This is a fantastic little bonus, as I find that listening to a meditation is usually a much more effective way to ease the monkey mind than trying to meditate while reading the text!

Even though such exercises are often found in books on spiritual development, Romeo and Foley take special care to construct the practical application of their approach around a central practice – journaling to one’s (or even another person’s) Soul. While a journaling practice can take many forms, I have rarely come across one which so heavily employs dialogue between the different aspects of the Self. I was thrilled to see that this really highlights Elisa’s background in depth psychology, where it is important for the distinct parts of the individual work toward integration, rather than subjugation, repression, etc.

From the personal accounts that appear throughout the book, directly writing and responding to the Soul creates the open, receptive state of being which enables us to hear the voice that is so often overshadowed by the ego. Instead of journaling to simply release emotional tension or clarify one’s thoughts and feelings, proposing questions directly to one’s Soul creates the space for the Soul itself to answer. Over time, this practice seems to reduce the interference from the ego, and its many surface-level concerns, allowing our Soul to grow stronger in its own voice and balance out the four relationships between ourselves and our partners.

Although the four types of relationships form the central theme of Holy Love, there are several chapters dedicated to the different ways to meet and communicate with the other’s Soul. I think this approach really helps to focus on the types of relationships which are more lacking in the contemporary world. By approaching communication with the Soul (one’s own, or that of one’s partner) from a variety of perspectives and modalities, we are presented with an open arena in which to explore the best route to strengthen these relationships.

Overall, I think Holy Love is a brilliant book to help couples develop their relationship along multiple dimensions. Even if you are not currently in a romantic relationship, this book is still worth the read, as it has more than enough material to assist in aligning the relationship between your own ego and Soul. Through practical examples, exercises, and relatable experiences, Romeo and Foley offer us fantastic guidance for how we might all realize the unlimited degree to which love can flow through us and into the world.

Affirmations of Light in Times of Darkness, by Laura Aversano

Affirmations of the Light in Times of Darkness: Healing Messages from a Spiritwalker, by Laura Aversano
Inner Traditions, 9781644112717, 174 pages, June 2021

We all need to be reminded that we don’t walk through this life alone; that there is spiritual guidance afforded to us if we listen to our intuition. There are also people among us, spiritwalkers, who also offer us such guidance and reminders. Laura Aversano is such a spiritwalker. In her book, Affirmations of the Light in Times of Darkness: Healing Messages from a Spiritwalker, Aversano provides the reader with “activated” prayers and affirmations on eight major topics: light calling from the abyss, forgiveness, courage and grace, the pause, balance, reconciliation, changes of worlds, and healing voices from the pandemic.

Aversano comes from a line of seers or spiritwalkers. In her encouragement for the reader to remain in the present, Aversano states that “holding space has become a discipline for me and for my writing. And that is what I hope to achieve when you read my words – the ability to hold space in both the darkness and the light for us to heal individually and collectively.”1

At first glance one might be tempted to quickly read through the book as it has some affirmations that are very short. Other guidance is offered through a synopsis of what was experienced by her work with clients. Still other writings offer her observations on the world at hand. But these writing are anything but simple. They are multi-layered, giving one pause for thought. They are to be savored before being digested and absorbed into one’s psyche and daily practice.

In reading my reading, I sometimes found myself reading just a one-line affirmation and then closing the book to ponder what I read. Other times I enjoyed immersing myself in the topic at hand. She writes a lot on communicating with the “darkness” for as the darkness says, “you are as much afraid of me as you are of your light.”2

She walks with the reader through fear, anger, and one’s seeming powerlessness, offering a way to experience things in a more empowering manner. Her writings guide the reader to feel empowered by the beings of light that we all are. She encourages us to remember how powerful we are as these beings of light, if only we believe it. One beautiful line reads:

“The sun never realized the light of its own being until it paused one day to see all that blossomed in its path.”3

I found myself saying “yes” as I read her words, her suggestions, and her soulful prayers.

“When the mountain seems too difficult to climb, some choose to change their path. I choose to change my shoes.”4

A strong line, certainly, but how can I change my shoes in my own life? The writings are prompts, bits of encouragement, and constant reminding of how supported we are, but that we need to take this support to make changes.

“One of the greatest challenges you will ever face is the struggle against your own unworthiness.”5

When we truly believe ourselves to be worthy of love and peace in our lives, then we can move through challenges such as forgiveness and anger.

Aversano engages the reader throughout the entire book. She’s like a true best friend who helps to see you through the hard times, is your greatest cheerleader, calls you on your delusions, and refuses to come to your pity party. But like any best friend she does so without judgment. She engages the reader with every line, with every story. You can put the book down and pick it up where you left off – but hopefully as a bit more radiant being to the world. She reminds us that “You don’t chase dreams. You live them. You chase illusion.”6

She asks us to trust our hearts, to notice our perceptions of things, to not be afraid of how powerful we are. As you use her words to change your life, to change your perceptions, you might notice people leaving your circle. “When people leave your life, it’s not because they can’t be in your personal space. It’s because they can’t be in their own space while they are with you.”7

Through her writing, I’ve come to view Aversano as an elder, even though she is too young in her chronological age to be considered such, for as she writes, “An elder doesn’t show you the path. He shows you your strength, so you can walk the path.”8

I highly recommend Affirmations of the Light in Times of Darkness. Aversano’s words are a balm to a weary soul, a lighthouse in times of darkness, a reminder of the light within that we all possess. Her writings empower the reader to remove the dust and dirt that have clouded the light of our being. Sit with the book and then do the words justice by making them part of your life.

Empath Activation Cards, by Rev. Stephanie Red Feather

Empath Activation Cards: Discover Your Cosmic Purpose, by Reverand Stephanie Red Feather
Bear & Company, 1591434173, 224 pages, November 2021

Empath. What’s an empath? According to Merriam Webster an empath is “one who experiences the emotions of others.”1 Now I get it, I’m quoting a dictionary, but this is important. Important to me as a person and important to this review.

I have from a very early age basically been a sponge for emotions. I could feel and access the vibe/feel of a space or hone in on the strong emotions of an individual with relative ease. And long-ish story short, it messed me up a bit. Young me not knowing how to handle all this extra data was so overwhelmed with processing that, that working on my own personal emotions fell to the wayside and is still developing today. 

I’m opening up about this here because I know I’m not alone in this experience. I don’t doubt that there are many empaths out there who aren’t entirely aware of this side of them. who don’t quite know where they fall in this world and are just kind of floating aimlessly and going through the motions of adult life. Empath Activation Cards: Discover Your Cosmic Purpose by Reverand Stephanie Red Feather claims to help you figure that out, it says that it’s a rite of passage and being “cross-cultural in design”2 will touch everyone who handles them. I had to test these bold, bold claims made by Red Feather for myself. 

Right off the bat, I was hooked on the box. It is bright, it is eye-catching, and dare I say a bit gaudy. Bright red, featuring a magnetic flap closure that just shouts, “Look at me I’m important!”, right into my eye sockets. You can’t look away once you catch a glimpse, so much so I have to make sure the box is behind me while writing this to keep from going to play with it.

Structurally, it’s pretty tanky. Like it could handle a decent toss across a bed or into a bag with other items without dumping your cards everywhere. The flap is a bit tricky to get open one handed, so be aware of this if you end up having like 50 things going at once and only one free hand.

On opening the box the first thing we see is the guidebook. The book itself is a good size and fits well in my hands even if it doesn’t like to lie flat just yet. Inside, we have a quick foreword by Daniel Moler (“Author, artist, and a sanctioned teacher in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, a cross-cultural shamanic lineage”3). After this foreword there’s an introduction by our creator Red Feather and then four main sections where the card meanings and exercises are separated into.

In this introduction, Red Feather gives us her personal definition of empath. There’s five main aspects listed, and I highly recommend picking this deck up to learn more. It then talks of a couple ways to use this deck. Obviously there’s the regular reading method, but there’s also the meditative journey. You can opt to either work through each card in numerical order or do like a weekly draw and work with that card for a time.

A recommendation is made in the intro to “cleanse your deck with sage, sweet-grass, or palo santo”4 as a means to activate and bond with the cards. Yet, this makes me a little uncomfy. I get the cleansing bit, I really do, but why sage? Why sweetgrass? Why palo santo? I’d love to hear Red Feather’s reasoning, as well as a clarification on if it’s common sage or not, and possibly a note to make sure you source your stuff as ethically as possible.

“The deck has life force and each oracle has its own consciousness and message beyond the meaning written on the card.”5

The cards themselves have an energy. They make my tummy do flip-flops when I pick them up; good flip-flops but flip-flops nonetheless. Our front facing card in the first slot is called Abundant Universe, which is fitting. There is nothing but possibility ahead of us, we just need to see it. 

The cards in this deck make you think. There are no quick keywords in the meaning sections. You really need to sit down and think about the meaning of the cards you have pulled to really and truly understand them. I have been sitting with card 1 Abundant Universe since I got the deck (which has basically been a full month), and I am still pulling new meaning from it.

There is so much going on in these cards. The colors are wonderful, and if you can blur or unfocus your eyes, I highly recommend doing that at least a little bit when working with a card. Something about doing that opens new avenues of understanding for me and it might do the same for you.

Personally, I think the meditation route is the best use for these cards. This is because the shuffle feel is a bit off due to them being rather wide and the drastically different personalities contained in each card would distract me in a spread larger than a single draw. Our author provides us some spreads, but I doubt I’ll be using them except for the Ascension Initiation Sequence one. This particular spread outlines a smaller meditation sequence that is tailored specifically to what you need at this moment. Just an FYI, a plate stand makes a great card holder for use in meditations.

I would recommend Empath Activation Cards, even if you don’t identify as an empath. Slowing down and connoting to yourself and the wider universe is something we could all stand to do. I know it’s hard to sit down and slow the mind, but aren’t the challenging things the most rewarding in the end? So, start up a practice of slowing down, meditating, trying journaling on these cards or other things in your life. Your mind and body will thank you in the long run.

Discover Your Crystal Family, by Kathryn Hudson

Discover Your Crystal Family: Working with Stones and Their Angelic Messengers, by Kathryn Hudson
Findhorn Press, 9781644113028, 239 pages, October 2021

Stones find their way into my life. I once bought a 20 pound rose quartz crystal while shopping in HomeGoods for baking trays. When friends travel they bring me back stones that they found that “remind them of me.” When I was having “issues” at work, in addition to addressing the situation with my supervisor, I felt drawn to visiting the local rock shop and picked out a stone that I felt needed to be on my desk.

I clearly love stones, but until I read Discover Your Crystal Family: Working with Stones and Their Angelic Messengers by Kathryn Hudson, it never occurred to me that the stones were finding me. An interactive relationship in which they presented themselves but left it up to me to bring them into my life. Hudson offers a very interesting take on one’s relationship with stones. “Of themselves, crystals can do nothing for us: like angels, they can support only our intention in accordance with our free will.”1

The book is NOT a rock encyclopedia. While it does describe certain rocks, their qualities, and their angelic and chakra connections, it offers so much more than dry information. As Hudson explains, “crystals exist to help us find and follow our own path, helping us to find our way home to the truth of who we are.”2 They offer us support that we must be open and willing to accept. I especially loved how she connected the rocks to the “enormous power of our Mother Earth, with the universal support of the Heavens.”3

The book is divided into three parts. Part one, Crystals on Your Path – Understanding the Dynamic, offers four chapters, each dedicated to working with crystals in regard to one’s soul contract, working with crystals and angels, opening up the channels of communication, and choosing stones. I liked how Hudson referred to the crystals as our friends in “low places” since they are from the earth. “Crystals are part of Earth. They act as sensory points for her and her inhabitants…”4 According to her, they help us to heal ourselves and “so healing of ourselves helps the each because we are part of the earth.”5 This was a very beautiful sentiment to me.

While the stones are indeed our friends in low places, they also open us to our friends in high places: the angels. Again though, this is only with our invitation. Hudson writes of her connection to angels via the stones and offers ways and exercises for us to open up our channels to divine communication.

The first section concludes with ways to choose our stones by following what we are drawn to. I’ve tried this exercise of choosing by walking around a gem store and seeing what I was drawn to, often realizing that the type of stone that I initially thought I was going to the store to buy wasn’t what I came home with. But, it never has failed that what I chose was what I “needed.” Interestingly, variations such as jewelry, wands, tumbled stones, and natural stones are covered in depth for those seeking to lean more.

Part Two, Protocols for Healing – Let’s Get to Work, covers caring for the stones. It also offers a “deepening” meditation for connecting with the stones, with the reminder:

“The idea is not that the stones heal the chakras, but rather, that we access energies that we need; when we access and integrate those energies within us, our chakras are naturally aligned.”6

This was an interesting concept for me since up until then I had given all of the power to the stones, and short-shifted myself! Hudson also has a chapter in this section titled “The Fifteen: A Full Complement of Crystals and Archangels.” She provides overviews on 15 select stones, their related archangels, and the qualities for enhancement, such as inner child healed, personal power, and groundedness on the path.

In Part Three, the final section, Hudson encourages the reader to discover additional stone allies that they feel drawn to work with. The ones she offers are her own “favorite 44 friends in ‘low places.’”7 Each stone is nicely photographed and accompanied by it’s aspect (natural qualities), its strength (e.g., purification), and its related archangel (as the stones are energetic mirrors to the angel realm), chakra, affirmation, and message.

I liked this section because it provided a great overview for stones that I was drawn to purchase without knowing any of its qualities, such as Apache tear (a form of obsidian). I also found stones that I was not familiar with and now want to seek out, the main one being Fairy Stones, and ironically that stone is much-needed at this time in my life!

I’ve read many books over the years on stones, but this one stands out. I particularly like how Hudson shows the personalities of the stones. I agree with her that one should choose a stone that one is attracted to, as it will be in sync with your energetic field.

I also liked her reminder to choose a size to fit how you want to work with the stone. For example, if you’d like to have it at hand as a protector or reminder, choose a size that will fit in your pocket or purse or under a pillow. Look at the color stone to which you are attracted – and notice if it aligns with a chakra that needs opening or an energy that you need to awaken.

Hudson also touches on the many ways to cleanse stones from water baths, to moonlight baths, to sunlight– and offers a reminder on what stones should not be placed in water due to their delicate nature such as selenite.

Overall, I highly recommend Discover Your Crystal Family. Read through it to familiarize yourself with all that Hudson has to offer, and then keep it as a companion for reference or reminding. It’s easy to read and understand – and it bridges the Earth with the Heavens. As Hudson reminds us, “crystals exist to help us find and follow our own path, helping us to find our way home to the truth of who we are.”8

The Path of the Warrior Mystic, by Angel Millar

The Path of the Warrior-Mystic: Being a Man in an Age of Chaos, by Angel Millar
Inner Traditions, 1644112671, 240 pages, November 2021

Right from the outset of Angel Millar’s new book, The Path of the Warrior Mystic: Being a Man in the Age of Chaos, I was struck with the impression that this was going to be a challenging book. Not challenging in a technical way – it’s actually quite an easy read, all things considered – but in that it calls the reader to action. As this is exactly one of the major themes of Millar’s book, the provocation to take more action in our spiritual lives is what the reader should expect from delving into this text.

Before getting too involved in the text here, it should be noted that this book is certainly geared towards a male/masculine audience. Although many of the ideas presented in the text could readily apply to anyone on the path of a spiritual seeker, the book is definitely geared toward the traditional spiritual practices of “men” in our world (as the subtitle suggests). As this book serves to highlight aspects of spiritual practice that have been declining in the modern world, it would be beneficial to any reader to become more familiar with what a true warrior mystic would look like. 

As the title suggests, the purpose of the book is to illuminate and merge two roles, paths, or identities that we (in this day and age) tend to think as separate: that of the warrior and that of the mystic. Until recently, Millar argues, these two paths were often – perhaps even necessarily – linked. That is, those who seek to elevate their spiritual life must also actively participate in their physical/material existence, rather than ignoring or eschewing it. This is in stark contrast to the contemporary world, with its bias toward mental activity over the physical, where our overall spiritual health seems to be slowly eroding.

The Path of the Warrior Mystic reminds us of how deep the interconnection between our physical and spiritual lives runs: drawing from many traditions, prominent figures, and ideas coming from all over the world and through different eras of our history. From Plato in Classical-age Greece to the Buddha in India, spiritual teachers have emphasized the importance of development of the physical body just as much as contemplative efforts.

This recognition of imbalance within the masculine spiritual world too often results in wishful (and perhaps wistful) attitudes toward life and one’s goals rather than prompting us toward action. And, ultimately, while contemplation and the quieting of the monkey-mind are necessary to foster growth and development, they are insufficient. Without the beneficial impact of wisdom put into practice, for the good of the larger community as well as oneself, spiritual seeking might devolve into a shallow, hollow version of what it used to be.

A return to some form of older masculine values might cause some in our modern world to balk and object to a resurgence of “the patriarchy,” an aspect of Western culture that has led to significant harm. However, Millar is striking a common vein in the movement to bring back a vital force that has been lacking in our world. Instead of encouraging a return to the traditional values of patriarchal domination, Millar draws our attention to attitudes that, if reintroduced to culture, would help address those very problems. The blending the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of ourselves provides the sense of wholeness that is often lacking in the pursuit of purely material or social success.

“Thus, in a society that is too masculine, the creative individual brings awareness of the divine feminine. And in a society too feminine, he brings awareness of the divine masculine. In a society that is too rational, the visionary brings a return of the nonrational, and vice versa. Likewise, if it has veered too far left or right, he aims to bring it back to the straight course–the “middle path,” to borrow a phrase from Buddhism–and not have it veer to the other extreme.”1

I have both seen and felt the movements in our culture over the last few years towards the rediscovery of wisdom and different ways of knowing, such as the knowledge of our bodies through intense physical training. Millar does great work in bringing together examples and principles from spiritual traditions, artists, and philosophers from across many different cultures and time periods. He argues that the warrior-mystic is encapsulated by the creative individual, a force which can revivify the world, starting with themselves and expanding outward.

Millar is good at bringing the more abstract spiritual matters down to the level of the every-day. His writing is straight-forward and direct, not indulging in drawn-out esoteric discussions. The chapters easily indicate their topic so that it’s a simple matter of going back to a section that you want to reread (the Index in the back is also a great help!). Millar doesn’t shy away from touchy topics, such as sex and the idea that sometimes you need to end personal relationships if they are not serving the needs of your higher self.

One of my favorite sections was Millar’s discussion about man’s romantic nature being bound up with the “death drive” as a response to a significant question. To/for what should I sacrifice my life (in both senses: one’s life’s work and one’s mortal existence)? I very much resonated with this question, as it is one I have grappled with at many points in my own experience, and will definitely continue to explore the ideas prompted by this book.

The one itch that The Path of the Warrior Mystic doesn’t quite scratch is the wish to delve deeper into the topics Millar explores. This is a fantastic way to introduce the many connections arising around the pursuit of the creative spirit characterized by the warrior-mystic. But Millar’s to-the-point style and the breadth of ground that he covers leaves one wanting to go a little deeper at times. Yet, this may be what the author intends, as it is a spur to action – to take up the quest for oneself and explore the world, rather than just consuming content with the mind.

Revelations from the Source, by Barbara Hand Clow

Revelations from the Source, by Barbara Hand Clow
Bear & Company, 1591434319, 352 pages, October 2021

It started with Revelations of the Ruby Crystal (2015), then came Revelations of the Aquarius Age (2018). Now, at long last, Barbara Hand Clow has completed the trilogy with the most recent book Revelations from the Source (2021). I have eagerly been anticipating this latest release after having grown quite fond of the tight-knit community of characters in this series. All my hopes and expectations were exceeded in this dynamic final book, which expertly weaves together multi-dimensional layers of information, inspiring revelations, and reconsideration of how things truly are in the world.

Before diving into things, while this book can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend reading the first two books before this one. Clow doesn’t spend too much time introducing the characters in this final book, and the few sentences to summarize the characters’ relationships for those who aren’t familiar hardly does justice to the complexity of their bonds. Plus, the characters have naturally evolved, and therefore their current circumstances in this book are directly related to the previous ones.

This being said, Revelations from the Source was a thrilling read because it has an up-to-date timeline of current events. While not every event in the book happened in real life, the story intends to parallel current events. From the election of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit to hold the position, to political tensions in Iran and the presidency of Donald Trump, all the way up to the COVID-19 pandemic, the book focuses on the characters’ experiences of events.

As I read, I was reflecting on having lived through these experiences, many not too long ago, with a new sense of perspective, as well as room to integrate what I was feeling as I moved through them. This is because all of the characters in the story are very tapped into the zeitgeist, all from their own point of view, such as a psychotherapist working with clients’ processing to an artist capturing energetic transmissions of sound in painting to awaken the masses. Another character is a reporter, who previously covered events in the Middle East but is now a correspondent for a newspaper reporting on the happenings in the Vatican.

My favorite character point of view is Claudia, esteemed fashion-designer and astrologer. Since I am an astrologer myself, I could remember all the full moons and conjunctions described, during which characters perform initiations or simply muse about the world. I especially recall the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in 2020, which was a significant moment in the book as well, as the characters work together to perform a ritual uniting the nine dimensions. I think those prone to reflecting on the placement of the stars, as well as the tumultuous events of the past few years would have a lot to gain from reading the insights of the characters in Revelations from the Source.

Clow’s astrological background is effortlessly integrated into the fictional narrative of this story. For instance, there is a lot of discussion about the nine different dimensions, with certain characters having more of a connection to each one. Clow previously authored the book The Alchemy of the Nine Dimensions, which I’m sure this story’s plot is based on. I’m always a fan of reading fictional stories where I can relate to a character’s feelings, thoughts, and experience, rather than just a non-fictional explanation of some phenomena. And it’s for this reason that I enjoyed this book so thoroughly. Other topics that Clow has woven in from her previous books include Mayan Codes (The Mayan Code), energetic influence of Chiron (Chiron), connections to other star systems (The Pleiadian Agenda), and lots of raising sexual energy as a form of altering consciousness (Astrology and the Rising of Kundalini)!

However, Clow doesn’t hesitate to venture into some of the deepest, darkest shadows in our culture as well. At times, it was hard to stomach parts of the story, especially the sexual abuse of priests on young children, which is a prominent theme in the entire series. This book really covers a lot of the energetic forces of the Catholic Church, as well as how the energy of youths has been inappropriately harvested for power, money, and prestige. Once again, while the story is fiction, it mentions events that really happened such as the Boston Globe story which revealed the extent of abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church.

Quite a few characters leave the Church, and by the end of it, I felt more confident in my resolve to do so as well. I was born and raised in the Catholic faith, even attending a Catholic university for my undergraduate studies. However I am increasingly finding it hard to find faith in a religion that does not value the spiritual authority of women and is rife with abuse and misconduct. The characters’ journeys were really empowering in my own spiritual path, making me see that I could follow their lead, rather than continue to go along with the corruption that has taken hold in the Catholic religious community. There’s so much history packed in the story, as another character is a scholar of early-Christianity, that I was constantly Googling new topic ideas, such as “Marconi” and “Mithraism.”

Other controversial topics include climate change, vaccinations, 5G towers, and the public-safety response to the pandemic. I will admit, sometimes the beliefs did feel a bit “conspiracy theory-esqe,” but I kept an open mind without discrediting anything. I was especially intrigued by the explanation for the coronavirus springing to life when it did, which had to do with telluric interference. Now that is a thought that has never crossed my mind!

At its heart, Revelations from the Source is a tale of the characters’ awakening into the Age of Aquarius. Due to their reputable, affluent, and influential families, the characters in the story are keepers of secret history, serving as a bridge between past and present. In this way, they serve as foils to modern society, clearly showing where humanity has veered off course, thus resulting in evil forces being unleashed through social strife, political controversy, intimate violence, and looming threats of war.

Clow clearly shows through the plot that the transition isn’t an easy one, and there are many forces at work during this tumultuous time. However, with the right perspective, and tools (art, past-life regressions, astrology, writing), humanity will be able to pull through. What’s most important is that we remember the importance of connection, building trust, and working together to overcome the destructive forces both within ourselves and the world at large.

The story’s theme of friendship and community is a prompt for the reader to find their own community to assist during this changing of ages. And most of all, for readers to continue to do their own investigations and express their revelations with a broader community. In this age where the people have the power and the power is the people, increasing our ability to transmit thoughts, energies, and feelings effectively will be a key to survival.

Overall, I am immensely satisfied with the culmination of this trilogy. Revelations from the Source is a treasure-trove of alternative ideas woven perfectly into the seemingly-static fabric of our 3-D reality. Filled with history, ancient and secret knowledge, as well as esoteric understandings of humanity’s place within the greater star systems, this book will bring you into new realms of realization. By delving into the defilement and debasement of some of society’s most corrupt institutions, the truth is exposed. Something we will be seeing more of as the Age of Aquarius dawns.

I highly recommend not only this book, but this entire series, for those looking for a fascinating read that delves into many dimensions, facets of history, and opens a doorway to a future unlike what we’ve known thus far. The writing is engaging, and the characters will soon feel like an extended friend group (I certainly wish I could call on them for advice!). More and more, those awakening to the shifts will be looking for answers, and while it’s fictional, this book is sure to be the key that unlocks readers’ perception.