Book, film, tarot and oracle reviews.

A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food, by Rachel Patterson

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Fruit & vegetable box, photo by Ali KarimianA Kitchen Witch's World of Magical FoodA Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food, by Rachel Patterson Moon Books, ISBN: 978-1-78279-854-5, 312 pp., 2014After reading Rachel Patterson’s newest book in her Kitchen Witch series, you just might be inspired to give your kitchen a magical makeover. Not only is she a veteran author of five books on magical food, she is High Priestess of the Kitchen Witch Coven and an elder at the online Kitchen Witch School of Natural Witchcraft. With touches of cheeky humour, she describes readying the kitchen and cooking equipment for magical work, seasonal and holiday recipes, magical food for intent, correspondences of various sorts, food for the moon cycle, and food spells. Think “Engagement Chicken” (Glamour magazine’s famous recipe for inducing a man to propose) taken to a whole new level!And yes, the book does include magical recipes using meat. In the opening pages, Patterson explains how to choose and eat meat that has been raised humanely. “For those of us who choose to eat meat I wholeheartedly believe that we should honour the animal that gave its life,” she writes, adding every part of the animal should be used, including bones, skin and feathers. I applaud Patterson for making this point; it is a nuance often lost on those who believe eating meat is unethical and inhumane. Taken a little further, I can imagine powerful magical workings using meat around healing our inhumane factory farming system. Read More

Everyday Witchcraft, by Deborah Blake

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Everyday Witchcraft, by Deborah BlakeEveryday Witchcraft, by Deborah BlakeEveryday Witchcraft: Making Time for Spirit in a Too-Busy World, by Deborah Blake Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738742182, 240 pp.,  2015Deborah Blake is a witch of many hats; she's an artist who runs an art co-op, High Priestess of Blue Moon Coven since 2004, and author of six works of fiction and nine books on witchcraft. She knows her way around a busy life and in Everyday Witchcraft: Making Time for Spirit in a Too-Busy World Blake has compiled many short and sweet acts to encourage the everyday witch into taking a few minutes beyond the ordinary to tap into the world of the elements, deities, ancestors, and spirits.In this book, "witch" refers to a self-identified person, though one need not be a witch to learn from Blake's book. Though she uses the terms Pagan, witch and Wiccan interchangeably, it is clear that her approach is Wiccan. Her magical correspondences, prayer formats, and use of one goddess and one god, reflect Blake's training in Wicca. Regardless, she shows the reader of any path how to build small and meaningful cycles in their own lives in the small moments and spaces that can make a life magical. Read More

The Great Work, by Tiffany Lazic

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The Great Work, by Tiffany LazicThe Great Work, by Tiffany LazicThe Great Work: Self-Knowledge and Healing Through the Wheel of the Year, by Tiffany Lazic Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738744421, 399 pp., 2015Tiffany Lazic has been practicing spiritual psychotherapy for more than 16 years. She is also a presenter and keynote speaker and owns the Hive and Grove Center for Holistic Wellness, where she offers individual, couples and group therapy. In The Great Work, she has woven together her experience of transformational psychology and spiritual arts with our Western mythological inheritance to create a workbook for personal development; one that functions on psychological, spiritual and emotional levels.The foundation of the book and its practices is the notion of "essence." This refers to the spark of divinity that each of us carries within us, that essential truth of personal experience that makes us unique individuals. Due to past experiences, this essence can be plunged into a darkness that at best obscures our unique potential, and at worst causes us debilitating pain. Read More

The Complete Arthurian Tarot

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The Complete Arthurian TarotThe Complete Arthurian TarotThe Complete Arthurian Tarot, by Caitlin and John Matthews, illustrated by Miranda Gray Connections Book Publishing, 9781859063880, 78 cards, 240 pp., 2015 This intricate set of tarot cards was first introduced in 1990, and was the first Arthurian tarot deck. Caitlin Mathews was trained in the esoteric mystery traditions through schools founded by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, Dion Fortune, and Gareth Knight. She is also an acknowledged world authority on Celtic Wisdom. John Matthews is a historian, folklorist and author, who has written more than 90 books detailing the Arthurian legends and grail studies. The couple have combined their expertise in the creation of the Arthurian Tarot, which adds to the riches of Western esoteric heritage. In their words:
Our inspiration for this tarot is the quest for the Hallows, or "holy things." These are the Regalia of Sovereignty, the Goddess of the Land -- she who grants the kingship. These ancient treasures may still be sought, not as museum artifacts, but as spiritual empowerments that align us to our soul’s vocation.
The Arthurian Tarot is a very high quality book and card set that is nicely packaged and presented in a well-designed box. The cards are printed on quality, durable stock with vivid designs. The card designs are detailed and inviting, and they depict the essence of the grail mysteries. This deck differs from traditional tarot decks in that the suits of the minor arcana have been changed in keeping with the symbolism of the Hallows. So instead of the sword, wand, pentacle, and cup, we have the sword, spear, stone, and grail. The traditional icons of the major arcana have also been adjusted to incorporate Arthurian characters, for example, the High Priestess is now the Lady of The Lake, Strength is Gawain, and the Magician is Merlin. Each card’s image is bordered with a black frame which gives the reader the impression of looking through a window into an alternate realm. The images themselves are intricate, vibrantly coloured and have great depth, which facilitates a detailed reading. Read More

Christian Mythology, by Philippe Walter

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Christian Mythology, by Philippe WalterChristian Mythology, by Philippe WalterChristian Mythology: Revelations of Pagan Origins, by Philippe Walter Inner Traditions, 9781620553688, 213 pp., 2003, 2014We all know the story: as Christianity moved into Europe it absorbed and transformed elements from Paganism to help convert the population. Pope Gregory told Saint Augustine not to destroy Pagan temples, but to exorcise and bless them, not to ban festivals but “let some other solemnity be substituted in its place, such as a day of dedication or the festivals of the holy martyrs whose relics are enshrined [in the converted temples].” The idea was that by adopting Pagan places and festival dates it would be easier to convert people through familiarity.In Christian Mythology: Revelations of Pagan Origins, the question Philippe Walter raises is this: how much of Christian mythology and celebration is a carry-over from a pre-Christian Pagan Europe? Walter is a professor of medieval French literature, so he is very well-read in the literature and folk tales of the times, which he believes preserve the Pagan elements before they were completely lost into Christianity. Read More

Mabon, by Diana Rajchel

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Harvest apples, photo by Liga EgliteMabon, by Diana RajchelMabon: Ritual, Recipes & Lore for the Autumn Equinox, by Diana Rajchel Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-4180-2, 227 pp. (incl. appendix, further reading, bibliography, and index), 2015Reading Mabon: Ritual, Recipes & Lore for the Autumn Equinox brought my attention to Lewellyn's Sabbat Essentials series highlighting the eight sabbats celebrated in many Pagan traditions. The Wheel of the Year is common throughout many Pagan communities and creating literature for each season sets a great intent to understand them more deeply. As a career author and journalist with publications in Llewellyn's annuals, The Beltane Papers, Circle Magazine, Facing North, and SageWoman, Diana Rajchel (also the former executive editor of the Pagan Newswire Collective) has the chops for this title.Mabon has six chapters bookended by two sections. Following the series introduction, Rajchel dives into the topics of old and new ways, spells and divination, recipes and crafts, prayers and invocations, and rituals of celebration. The appendix of the book includes tables of correspondences for Mabon, a list of further reading, a bibliography and index. The book as a whole provides many ways to enjoy the autumnal equinox, regardless of the path one walks. Ritual leaders, festival-planners, school-groups, and families can all use this book to deepen their understanding of the myths and practices of Mabon, while also providing some great conversation starters for discussion groups. Solitaries will enjoy the many simple and home-based crafts, spells, and divinations. Read More

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