Bookviews Book Reviews
Each astrological transit or planet sign combination has a
specific meaning. People who study
astrology spend years and even lifetimes exploring these meanings. There are volumes of personal understandings
of the Planets and Zodiac signs; however most of us learn the abbreviated
versions. Yet, how accurate are these
meanings? How deeply can we go into
meanings to understand how these astrological signs really affect our lives?
Mr. Kaldera sums it very nicely in the opening preface of
his new book: "If you're a
professional astrologer, you've probably already discovered how difficult it is
to interpret a chart for someone who knows nothing at all about
astrology." "Your clients may
not understand what an Aquarius Moon means, but the story of Mwuetsi will
probably make them laugh knowingly, or nod sheepishly, or at least think hard
about themselves and their motivations."
I am afraid I am just beginning to study and understand
Astrology. It is a much neglected item
in my path, but this book has opened a few doors to understanding that I had a
hard time grasping.
Rather than going from the usual road of 'this path
ascending into what house means your whole life is&ldots; something',
instead the Zodiac signs and planets are discussed from the texts of the myths
and legends of Deities that gave birth to these signs. This makes sense to me. Were not these signs given these names
because of their associations to various aspects of the Gods and Goddesses?
Mr. Kaldera draws from a plethora of pantheons to give each
planet and each sign a unique yet appropriate story from which to draw meaning,
morals and inspiration as we study our own birth signs and associations to
current astrological events.
The book is divided into 10 chapters, each one covering a
planet, the sun and moon. These are then
broken down into the astrological influences:
Sun in Aries or
For a book without an index, the table of contents gives us
all we need to navigate through this book.
Uranus in Pisces: Pandora -- gives us a very good idea of what the
subsection is all about. There is no
need here for a more detailed index, in my opinion.
But the jewels here are the actual mythology stories,
expertly told by Raven Kaldera so that they apply to the current time and
moment. Mercury in Gemini: Hermes -- is
a good example. There is a brief
introduction to Mercury, Gemini, and then we go into Hermes, who He is, what He
looks like, and His personal story. Then
we discover how Hermes relates to Gemini, focusing on the major aspect of this
particular sign; duality in relationships.
But that is a poor summary of the story.
Because the story is actually much more complex, as are the aspects of
Mercury in Gemini, and this is what Mr. Kaldera brings to light in his book.
The meanings of these astrological signs go much deeper than
a quick synopsis. The meanings are
complex, as people are, as the Gods and Goddesses are, and there are many
shades of gray between the absolutes. In
order to really understand these planetary energies, and how they affect our
lives, we need to understand their complexities and their nuances.
Each person has a specific way they learn. I found this method of learning to be much
clearer than some of the other explanations I've read, which can vary widely
from expert to expert. This is a back to
the basics and origins type of exploration of the Zodiac signs and planetary
Mr. Kaldera leaves room for your own interpretation. Each story is told from the aspect of the
Deity and the Zodiac sign or planet. We
see the attributes that can come into play so we can draw our own conclusions
based on our own perception of each situation.
Venus in Libra: Aphrodite -- gives us the story of Aphrodite, who is no
simple Goddess. There are many aspects
to take into account here besides love; there are also the arts and business,
for example and then there is Libra's fixation with beauty and cold distain of
things that are not perfect. There is
much to draw on here, and it does give one reason to pause and reflect.
I can see I will be keeping this book handy, going back over
material for greater insights and reading the material for it's simplicity in
approach but complexity in approaching a topic that is not as cut and dry as we
While the book is an introduction to the ideas that Mr.
Kaldera has put forth, it is by no means a 101 book. This is serious discussion on a complex
topic, and is a useful tool for both the beginner as well as the seasoned pro. Yes, it is presented in an easy to follow
manner and is well thought out. Mr.
Kaldera knows his pantheons well and it shows in his research and choice of
Deity for each sign.
Definitely add this one to your list of must read books on the topic. This is an excellent progression from the first books on astrology for any person interested in this topic.
Last year I had the full page-a-day calendar as I thought I
would need all that room, but I found myself with more than I needed, so this
year I got myself the Weekly Planner.
Smaller, bag size, easily transported around, the weekly
planner comes in the standard format, Moon Day (Monday) through Sun Day. Each day has ample space to write notes, and
comes with some important notations regarding astrological times, signs, and,
as this is a Tarot Edition, notes for working Tarot Magic.
Each 'week' page spread includes a tarot card pictured from
a specific deck. Represented are the
Universal Waite Deck, Lo Scarabeo Deck, Templar Tarot and New Century Tarot, to
name a few. Each week a specific card is
rendered in full color, with a small explanation of the card, what it means and
how it can be used in Tarot Magic. Each
Day has an association to Tarot Magic as well, such as: June 13th, Moon Day,
Borrowing or Lending Money. Some of
these may reference another date that has a specific spell or the spell is
listed in the day. Specific Tarot Cards
may be noted as well as associated candle colors. The week view finishes off with an insert of
the current month and the next month.
Mercury in Retrograde (occurring three time a year) days are marked in
blue. New Moon periods are noted in
yellow and Full Moon periods are left colorless.
But what I really, really like about this calendar is that
it includes a current 'month at a glance' two page overview for each month,
with the weeks between, so you can reference back to the entire month or just
the week you need. The month at a glance
has small squares to make a quick note, like meeting, where you can then
reference the week at a glance for further details. The other popular weekly calendar does not
have this feature, and I feel it makes this weekly planner a much more
Add to that the fine artwork, the front inserts of the
'Wheel of the Year', total months of the year overview, good instructions for
the planners use and layout and a color correspondence chart as well as an
interesting 'Tarot Reading list' and the usual personal information listing,
and you have a well thought out and put together weekly planner that slips
easily into your briefcase, satchel or purse.
This is the one I'm keeping in my briefcase this year and showing off to all my witchy and non-witchy friends.
Again, the Night Magick theme presents us with black and
white forms highlighted with muted color to give them depth. As with last year's calendar, there is one
piece with bold color making it stand out from the rest. Each image is feminine, so very alluring and
very sexy in their appeal. The moon is
present in each picture, in the various stages of waxing, full, waning or dark.
Bold and full, dark and mysterious, partial and teasing, the
figures draw you into the images and whisper their story. Ms. Galbreth draws from various sources for
the main figure in each piece. We have
Morgaine, Circe, Greenwoman, The Lady of Shallott, Hekate, and Lillith to name
a few. The rest are named by their
associations, and leave their story to your imagination. The gypsy piece stands out with its bold use
of deep reds in contrast to the other pieces which feature muted earth tone
blues, greens, browns or lavenders against the mostly black and white
The calendar itself provides the days in large boxes so you
can write in notes, gives you full moons and new moons, as well as National
Holidays and the Sabbats. There are also
a thumbnail 'previous month and next month' on each months page for easy
reference. The calendar itself is a
thirteen month calendar, and the weeks run from Sunday through Saturday.
Ms. Galbreth has provided our community with many stunning images of witches, Goddesses, and spirits which have enchanted us, inspired us and given us pause for contemplation. I look forward each year to her continued tradition of providing us with a calendar of her excellent work.
For those who may be unfamiliar with Ashleen O'Gaea, she is
a founding board member emeritus of the Tuscon Area Wiccan-Pagan Network and
board member and senior Corresponding Priestess for Mother Earth
Ministries-ATC, a Neo-Pagan prison ministry.
In this book she presents a handbook on how and why we celebrate our
This book, the first of two, covers Samhain, Yule, Imbolc
and Ostara. Our calendar, being round
instead of linear, as she explains "&ldots;allows everyone seated to
see everyone else and keeps anyone's positions at the table from being more
important than anyone else's, so does Wicca's round calendar, the Wheel, let us
see the relationship of each Sabbat to the others, and keep any from being more
significant than any other."
Rather than trying to explore, as many other books have, the
origins and picking apart the meanings, Ms. O'Gaea instead focuses on what the
holiday actually means, to us, now. Each
Sabbat is broken down into four parts:
Lore, Rituals, Activities and Symbols.
What is also interesting is that Ms. O'Gaea compares these celebrations
in what she calls the 'big three' Neo-Pagan religions: Druidism, Asatru and
In Lore, Ms. O'Gaea explores how past traditions have been
translated into modern day practices, and how each one of the Sabbats interacts
with the other Sabbats. As in Samhain,
she discusses this third of the three harvest festivals we celebrate in
relation to the others, and to the Sabbat that follows. Each holiday is linked to the previous, and
is a key part of the next one. She also
discusses the Lore of the three Neo-Pagan religions, and how it may blendand
how different aspects have been incorporated.
In Rituals, Ms. Gaea gives us specific rituals, explains
their meaning, their applications, and you are given a very well rounded look
at the Rituals of the three religions.
She also discusses how some of these Rituals can also borrow from other
Activities takes from our current practices. They range from traditional foods and how to
make them, to practices and how to make tools specific to those practices. Corn dolly, plates for the ancestors, Runes,
egg dying; there are many activities that are easy to do, good to eat and have
some very interesting associations to the holidays celebrated. Some of these projects are family oriented,
while others can be solitary projects.
Finally, we have symbols.
The symbols range from specific tools, to written symbols, to food and
song. Ms. O'Gaea examines many of the
modern day symbols and their associations to Gods and Goddess, the seasons,
nature and the religion.
The book has a chapter called Conclusion, and she states, as
is obvious, that this first book can not properly be concluded as it only
covers four of the Sabbats and the remaining four are needed to draw the Wheel
of the Year together. And she sums that
up nicely with a quote from "The Way of Wyrd" where Wulf says to
Brand "It is a mistake to assume that events far apart in time are thereby
separate. All things are connected as in
the finest web of a spider. The
slightest movement on any thread can be discerned from all points on the
Ms. O'Gaea successfully proves that point, in my opinion,
with this book. Each Sabbat on the Wheel
of the Year is woven with the rest of the Sabbats. Each Sabbat has an effect on the next and
relies on the previous one to give each other substance. Which is why we refer to our calendar as a
She also makes a good argument for all the Northern European
based or Celtic Based Neo-Pagan religions having similarities in their
celebrations and her comparison of these celebrations draws some interesting
The material is easy to read, well put together and
organized. Her bibliography is
interesting as some of the references are unusual and interesting. The chapters are well defined, keeping to the
material discussed and there is an index for easy reference.
I enjoyed this book, found it a good primer in celebration the Wheel of the year, as opposed to just knowing about them, and I am looking forward to the second book which covers the other four holidays.
Ms. Kynes presents to us in this book a basic handbook of
very generic rituals focusing on individuals and covens.
The book is broken down into three main parts: The Sabbats, The Esbats and Appendix. Each of these are broken down even further.
The Sabbats and Esbats focus on ritual in two parts, one for
covens and one for individuals. After a
brief introduction to the
The Rituals are specific to the
The Appendices all contain some basic additional
information, regarding: Your Practice, Ogham, Glossary and Pronunciation Guide
to Non-English Words, How to Make a Flower Sachet and Preparing for
Ritual. These elements are incorporated
elsewhere in the rituals in the book, and again give a general overview of the
As you make your way through the rituals in this book, you
will learn the meaning of many of the symbols, tools and the origins of the
Holidays and Esbats and various traditions.
There is some background into the Wheel of the Year and the book is easy
to understand and clear in what the author is saying. The book is well written, easy to follow,
provides an interesting bibliography and is Indexed.
However, this is not the only way to do things. The book can be used as a basic primer, a
pre-Wicca 101 book on ritual if you will, but should be augmented with
additional references, study and practice.
In the introduction, the author states " Whether you are a beginner
or an experienced practitioner, sooner or later when putting together a ritual
you may not have enough time, or creative inspiration may remain elusive. This book contains rituals that are "ready
to go" for both group and solo practices." Indeed, this book almost reads like fast food
take out menu with the pre-packaged rituals and repetitive format. I think the experienced practitioner will
become bored quickly with the material, if not immediately, and will prefer
something with a bit more 'meat and potatoes'.
But for the beginner, this book could be a good tool. If you have never before done ritual, if you
are working with a group that is totally unfamiliar with ritual and you need
something to get you all started, this book offers ready made, no fuss rituals,
with a little fries on the side. This can be a useful tool to the newly forming
study group, a solitary practitioner very new to the path, and someone who is
teaching beginner groups, or even children, and wants something that sets a
simple pace, gives a basic outline and will be augmenting this material with
additional reading and learning.
The author does a good job at creating simple rituals, with
a repetitive format that will teach by rote how to do ritual, incorporating the
very basic Wheel of the Year beliefs so you can add your own belief system
without any dogma clashes. The author
makes no claim to this being the only way to do ritual and provides a good
solid base from which to work. I would
also suggest that you might want to experiment with these rituals after you
have become familiar with them, dress them up, make them a bit more personal
and you may find yourself with some good personal rituals.
This is a good place for starting and learning ritual. It is up to you to expand on it.
First of all, let me say this is a beautifully illustrated
deck. The graphics are stunning,
realistic in the artistic approach and well thought through. There is no difficulty in understanding what
the artist had in mind when he designed these cards. The imagery is clear as well as beautiful to
The suits are visibly distinguishable, as opposed to other
decks. Even if you are not sure, the
Minor Arcana are clearly identifiable by a color 'jewel' at the top of each
card, red for wands, blue for swords, yellow/gold for cups and green for
The deck is based on the Rider-Waite deck, with 22 Major
Arcana cards and the Minor Arcana comprised of 10 numbered cards and 4 court
cards each. Ciro Marchetti maintains
the Page, Knight, King and Queen court cards rather than changing their
associations as many recent decks have done.
The reverse design is a 'jeweled' motif reminiscent of a
sunburst, and is not too busy or distracting.
Intriguing is Ciro Marchetti's inclusion of some images that
appear almost to be machine-like in quality.
Going over the artists notes in the front of the book is his notation
"A common theme in my work is the inclusion of mechanical devices, and
this continued on various cards in the Major Arcana of the Gilded Tarot. These machines, which straddle the opposing
worlds of science and magic, somewhat basic of their construction and clockwork
movements of gears and cogs, are of an earlier times&ldots; while not of
the world of microprocessors and chips, they are nevertheless capable of
wonders beyond today's technology."
I found this to be interesting, and appropriate, for a modern deck of
The emphasis on nature is also there, in carefully included
animal images, natural settings and yet, it maintains a surrealistic feel in
the almost vision-like quality of some of the Major Arcana cards. The deck has a renaissance motif at work in
the costumes and architecture.
The swords and cups are obviously identifiable. The wands are distinctive in their design of
being metallic in appearance, topped by what at first glance appears to be a
'torc' but could also be a dual power point.
The pentacle design is unique in that the design is a pentagon within a
pentagon on the numbered cards and the pentacle only appears behind the King of
Pentacles. The Queen holds a pentagon
with the jeweled sunburst within.
All in all, the designs appeal to meditation on the cards
and are easily workable by those familiar with a standard tarot deck.
The book is a basic workbook for those not familiar with
tarot decks. While the notes from the
artist is a nice inclusion, the material provided by Barbara Moore is good for
beginners. There is a little about the
actual meaning of the cards, but as always, that is dependent on the reader and
what he or she sees as she uses the cards.
But the cards are so clear in their message; this would make an
excellent first deck.
Finally, there is the bag.
Please let me add that this is an excellent touch to the gift box
presentation. Besides a lovely box to
keep the book and deck in, which, again, is beautiful in its design, the bag
gives you someplace to store the deck.
It is an Organdy bag and I found that it was great to prevent the cards
from sliding around in the box once I put the deck in the bag, and makes a
handy carrying case as I showed the deck around to a few reader friends of
mine, and also used the deck at one of my tarot reading. My clients were complimentary about the deck,
and my fellow readers thought the deck was beautiful and well done.
All in all, if you are looking for a deck to give as a gift, or to add to your collection, or if you are looking for a first deck for yourself, this gift box would be a good choice.
New this year is Llewellyn's offering of the Tarot
Reader. It is a collection of articles,
a daily calendar, reviews of decks and a section of some basic spreads for
At first I thought this was yet another 'Almanac' put out by
Llewellyn, and it does, in fact, contain a daily Almanac with moon signs and
phases, and major holidays, but as I began to look through the book, I found
that, again, the articles are what make this a valuable tool. The 'Almanac' section can also be used as a
tool for daily tarot readings, as it provides a little space for notes, or it
can be used as a calendar for important dates or notations.
But back to the articles.
The authors biographies, which are usually in the back of Llewellyn's
almanacs, are right up front. And an
impressive list of authors this is. Ruth
Ann and Wald Amberstone are founders of the '
The articles, which comprise the bulk of this book, are
informative, well written and provide a good overview of the medium. The book is divided into chapters, focusing
on the different aspects of tarot - tools, applications, further study and deck
reviews. Disbursed between these
articles is 'A Closer Look', which is a one page brief description of various
Llewellyn decks, with some black and white line drawings of some of the cards,
and a bulleted highlights of each deck.
Most memorable of the articles 'Those Darned Court Cards' by
Thalassa, which provides us with a
practical explanation of what many other writers seem to skim over in favor of
the Major Arcana, the court cards.
Thalassa explains in plain language with a humorous edge, the origins,
aspects and meanings of the court cards.
Mary K. Greer's article 'A New View: Reversals' examines how to read
reversals and the recent trend to not read cards as reversed. Bonnie Cehovet examines 'Value-Added Tarot',
or how to add extras to our tarot business to make the client feel they have
gotten their monies worth.
In the 'Further Study' section, there is a 'Mabon Tarot
Ritual' by Nina Lee Braden which incorporates ritual with the tarot cards and
is very interesting and worth looking at.
The deck reviews were all well written and covered the deck
'in depth', as opposed to the 'Closer View'.
And the spreads are basically explained, and provide some new
perspectives for card readings.
The book has many fine line drawings both in the articles,
reviews and the 'closer look' areas of the decks described and give a good idea
of what the cards will look like. If you
see something that you think you might like, however, it would be worth your
efforts to find the deck on line and give the deck a closer look. The Tarot Reader does not allow for color and
this can make a big difference. Some
decks are much more beautiful in color, and you can lose that in the black and
white drawings.. Others can be darker than the images in the book, again,
because of color.
A good resource for those who are beginning to read tarot, who are thinking about a tarot deck, or the experienced reader looking for material that will augment their readings.
So what do you expect from an Herbal Almanac? Well, you want a 'Moon Quarters' table to let
you know when to plant herbs, when you should expect good growth and when to
harvest your herbs. You want this
charted daily for every month of the year, and if there are daily notes
indicating best planting and harvesting times, then this would be a good chart. A 'Moon in Signs' list would be good as well,
and if it was incorporated in this chart on a daily basis, along with elemental
correspondences for each day, this would be a good Almanac for use with herbal
But this would take all of 15 pages. So what else would you want in an Herbal
Almanac? How about&ldots;
information on herbs?
This book has the Moon chart and so much more. Eighteen authors contribute material to fill
out what is an interesting and useful book on herbs and their growth, harvest,
preservation and use.
The format of the Almanac is to present articles on
"Growing and Gathering Herbs', 'Culinary Herbs', Herbs for Health', 'Herbs
for Beauty', 'Herb Crafts' and "Herb History, Myth, and Magic'. The book is accompanied by the usual
disclaimer: 'Note: The old-fashioned
remedies in this book are historical references used for teaching purposes
only.' A good notation and a good thing
to remember as you leaf through the Health and Beauty parts of the book.
The articles are well worth the reading and cover a variety
of topics and are varied in their approach to herbs and herb gardening. The article on 'Starting an Herbal Garden' by
Pearlmoon is a very basic overview and allows for your own ideas and
development, while 'Herbs for Shade Gardens' by James Kambos goes into details
and addresses specifics that you may have regarding the area you have for your
The culinary section is chock full of delicious ideas for
using the herbs you grow. There are lots
of yummy recipes. Herbs for Health
discusses uses for herbs with possible reactions or side effects as well as
their effectiveness. There is a good
article on 'Herbs for Menopause' by Leeda Alleyn Pacotti, a practicing
naturopathic physician and nutritional counselor and master herbalist. Herbs for Beauty articles discuss the ways in
which herbs can be used in the daily care of our bodies. Herb Crafts give us other uses for our herbs,
such as incense, bouquets or as decoration for our hair.
And finally, Herb history, Myth and Magic introduces us to
the backgrounds and uses of some herbs in myth as well as magic. There is a interesting article on 'The Lore
and Magic of Honeysuckle' by Tammy Sullivan is very detailed with some 'gee, I
didn't know that' information.
This is a well written and put together book that anyone interested in herbs would find a good addition to their library, from beginners to the most experienced.
Each year Llewellyn provides us with an Almanac that gives
us dates, lunar phases, moon signs, colors and incenses for the days and
This year the Magical Almanac is 15 years old, and is still
giving us the necessary information we need to keep our internal clocks in time
with the seasons and the planets.
But the lure of the Magical Almanac is not so much the
calendar, which is what we originally bought it for, but the articles.
There are a few well known authors here, and some new ones,
presenting fresh and innovate insights into who we are, where we come from and
where we are going to.
The theme this year is 'Magic from around the Globe', and
reflects our interests and background in articles on the 'old ways' as in 'The
Charge of the God' by Steven Repko or 'A Family Imbolc Ritual' by Twilight
Bard. From the global material there is
'Pre-Islamic Deities' by Eileen Holland and 'Eostra and the Ancient New Year'
by Sorita Loock. And just because; there
are articles like 'Angels Are Like
Buses: A Quick Field Guide to Invisible Beings' by Raven Kaldera and Tannin
Schwartzstein and 'The Magic of Chocolate' by Lynne Sturtevant.
The material is as varied as the authors themselves, with a total of 80 articles for you to read, digest, agree with or disagree with, ponder, and maybe even come away with a different view of our world. There are recipes, herb articles, craft projects, spells and poems. This book is more than an almanac, it is a celebration of the written word by some truly good authors.
To mother Moon I send this plea,
Paniteowl, Cauldron of Care Spell, July 15.
Paniteowl, Cauldron of Care Spell, July 15.
For those who love a good spell, and want to know when to
use it, this is the book for you.
Fifteen authors provide you with a plethora of spells of all
shapes and sizes, some easy to work, some that require a little setup and all
having an appeal for a variety of persons.
We have some that rhyme, some that use herbs, some that work
with runes and some that work with stones.
Some address personal challenges, while others focus on future plans or
past worries. Some are for working magic
for the earth, while others work magic on your home or your life. Some work with the Goddess, some with the
God. All are adaptable to your personal
needs and those things you have around the house. And every one is easy enough that anyone
should be able to pick up this book and work with at lest one spell right
away. There is also a space after each
spell for your own personal notes on working that spell.
The book also provides daily color correspondences, the
'Incense of the Day' and little 'icons' (listed in the back of the book) that
announce a holiday or a special day to work a particular type of spell.
The 'Back of the Book' also includes Daily Magical
Influences, Lunar Phases, Astrological Symbols, Moon signs, magical terms
glossary and Norse Runes.
Material is provided by some well known authors and
community elders like Elizabeth Barrette, Edain McCoy and Paniteowl, as well as
some new members of the author community.
This is a good place for the beginner to pick up on spells and workings or for the older practitioner to pick some new ones to work with.
Each year Llewellyn provides the busy witch with a pocket
sized book to keep all the important dates in his/her life as well as reminders
of Sabats, Esbats, planting days and harvest days and so much more.
The Witches' Datebook has become a staple around here,
sitting on our desktops with notes scribbled here and there to help us keep
track of all sorts of events and deadlines.
The book itself, spiral bound so it lays flat, with a 'by
the week' layout makes this the perfect desktop companion. Included information regarding moon signs,
planetary retrogrades, and little tidbits (' Saturday February 12 - Gerald Gardner,
founder of the Gardnerian tradition, dies of heart failure, 1964' or ' Thursday
July 28 - Bake blackberry pies for Lughnasadh in honor of the dying God') make
for interesting reading on a day to day basis.
Then there is the artwork.
Each year Llewellyn highlights an artist and this year it is Jennifer
Hewitson. The cover art is lovely and
catches the eye while the block ink drawings on the calendar pages are well
thought out to coincide with the season and included tidbits. Which brings me to the bits for reading
inside the book.
From the opening article 'Autumn Enchantment' by Ellen Dugan
to the recipes on the weekly pages provided by ShadowCat, poems by Elizabeth
Barrette, holiday musings by Magenta Griffith and moon lore by Edain McCoy,
each bit fills the mind with contemplation and in some cases, places a taste on
the tongue for something special. There
are more articles in the front of the book by Gerina Dunwich, Emely Flak, James
Kambos and Julianna Yau.
The "Back of the Book' contains the usual 'About the
Authors', the Appendix with tables of correspondences, moon signs, eclipses,
full moons, planetary retrogrades and the Moon Void-of-Course data and finally
the abbreviated name and address pages so handy as a quick reference.
A good tool to keep on your desk, to help you track those deadlines and special occasions in your life.