Tarot Beyond the Basics: Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Meanings Behind the Cards, by Anthony Louis
Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738739441, 383 pp. (incl. notes, appendices, and bibliography), 2014
Anthony Louis brings us an enriching and thorough examination of the modern tarot by first introducing us to its fascinating history. He begins in China, where the paper and cards was created, then to Egypt and the Mamluk slave soldiers who played games with a deck of 52 playing cards, much like today’s playing card decks. Then he travels into Spain where the court cards are changed to include Kings, horsemen and pages. In Italy is where the queens were added and the church became involved in their design.
Many readers of today have heard the rumours that the tarot is originated from the Egyptian pantheon, or that the 22 major arcana cards reference the 22 letters in the Hebrew kabbalah. Louis notes that this assumption appeared in an unsubstantiated paper that was published in Paris in 1781 by clergyman Antoine Court de Gebelin and the French occultist Comte de Mellet. The only reference that Louis could find about the tarot originating in Egypt was through the Mamluks and their love of playing cards. Continue reading
Grimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch: Mastering the Five Arts of Old World Witchery, by Raven Grimassi
Weiser Books, 9781578635504, 240 pp. (incl. appendices and bibliography), 2014
Plant spirits appear in the most ancient practices of Witchcraft. These primal entities possess power and knowledge that aids the Witches’ Craft.
Grimoire of the Thorn-Blooded Witch offers the magickal keys to accessing the spirits of the plant kingdom. Decidedly gothic, with many allusions to roses, thorns and shadows, the book’s formal, atmospheric tone is sure to stir magickal memories in the blood of those called to read it.
From the ancient practices of old world witchery springs the Rose and Thorn Path, a system Grimassi manifested after he “fell back into the brewing cauldron from which all things emerge.” He continues, “When I surfaced my self-identity as a witch of any specific cultural expression of witchcraft had dissolved away’. As a grimoire (a traditional book of spells) this book does not disappoint. It presents a usable system of witchcraft based on instantly recognisable archetypes. I have read a few of Grimassi’s books and feel this is his best to date.
The “mastering the five arts” subtitle suggests the book is aimed primarily at serious witches with some level of magical experience. As such I would have appreciated a deeper exploration of the origins of Grimassi’s chosen symbols and plants, but he writes with such authentic wisdom this hardly seems to matter. Central themes are natural divinity and spiritualism — the book deals not so much with plants themselves but the spirits inherent in and attached to them. By showing respect for “Shadow” (the collective wisdom of the earth and ancestors) the green mysteries can be entered. Continue reading
Sun Sign Secrets: The Complete Astrology Guide to Love, Work, and Your Future, by Amy Zerner & Monte Farber
Weiser Books, 9781578635610, 260 pp., 2014
Sun Sign Secrets is packed with detailed information describing each of the signs. The 12 sun signs are determined by the sun’s placement in the zodiac calendar at the time of a person’s birth. The dates for each zodiac sign are included in the descriptions helping the reader to decide which sign corresponds. Using this information the reader can then learn how to improve their relations with others by better understanding the behaviours and attitudes that drive themselves and those around them.
Zerner and Farber designed the book in an easy to understand format. The artwork by Zerner is in a simple, monochromatic style that helps the reader to understand the symbols and representations of the constellations that correspond with the different signs.
Each chapter is written in the same style for each sign, starting with the details, including the dates for the sign, correspondences, personal qualities, and keywords. The authors then break down the meanings more thoroughly by going into detail on the symbolic meanings, including the positive and negative traits. Continue reading
Spirit Boards for Beginners: The History and Mystery of Talking to the Other Side, by Alexandra Chauran
Llewellyn Worldwide, 9780738738741, 216 pp., 2014
The mystery of the talking board or, less commonly, spirit board is exemplified by its most mainstream version, the Ouija board. While talking boards have been used for spiritual practice for centuries, the Ouija board was “invented” and marketed in 1891, where its popularity was only overshadowed by its controversy and mystery. Is it a game appropriate for children? Is it a tool for divination and exploring the spiritual realm? Is it evil? Does it even work? Alexandra Chauran explores that controversy through her personal experience, citing expert opinions, and sharing other’s stories.
The language is accessible, and the reader is given all the information they need to comfortably navigate a talking board session. Chauran expands on the history and spiritual origins of talking boards from using a swinging pendulum to the more modern versions we have today. Continue reading
A Druid’s Handbook to the Spiritual Power of Plants: Spagyrics in Magical and Sexual Rituals, by Jon G. Hughes, illustrations by Damien Switzer
Destiny Books, 9781620552650, 310 pp. (incl. index), 2014
In the introduction, author Jon G. Hughes writes that he “began with the intention of comparing the plant-based preparations, rituals, and magic of the Welsh Druidic tradition with those of the broader and infinitely more documented spiritual traditions practiced all over the world.” However, he continues, writing that he “came in contact with the works of ancient and modern alchemists,” and his “fascination was spurred by the alchemical search for immortality and the involvement with sexual ritual, as both have their place in the Druidic tradition.”
In the first section, Hughes goes into detail about the history of Druidic practices and alchemy. He explains that each practice was created and spread in separate parts of the world, yet they are similar when broken down to their individual workings. Continue reading