Tarot For Healing by Kara Owl

Tarot for Healing
Kara Owl
Jupiter Gardens Press, 2012
176 pages

Reviewed by innowen

Tarot for Healing by Kara Owl describes a healing journey/pathworking that readers can learn to incorporate into their practices. Owl recommends that you have a basic knowledge of tarot (in that you know the card meanings, and can do readings for self and others) before diving in and using the techniques. The author has over 20 years of tarot experience. I think she puts the book best in her words when she says, “Why use the Tarot? Because the cards can pinpoint problem areas, and the reaction of the individual can aid in finding the proper path to solving them. Healing with the Tarot is a journey, a path to greater understanding of self.”

Owl begins the book by laying down her ideas of what tarot can do for healing, picking a deck, how to deal with ethics of healing work and doing healing readings. Throughout these introductory chapters, she does give small bite-sized techniques that you can try out and apply immediately to your practice. The meat of the book then focuses around card meanings, card meditations, and a sampling of spreads to use in your practice. The final chapters discuss setting up a practice, case studies, and ends with a note on trusting one’s intuition.

What I Liked
I liked that before Owl gets into the meat of the book, she instructs readers how to ground and take care of themselves first. Healers often forget that they need to be in “perfect” shape in order to effectively heal others. I also liked how she suggests that readers develop their own strengths into what subjects they’re willing to tackle and when to call in extra help on the areas/issues they are weaker in. The chapter on Tarot Healing Meditations was great. Owl gives a small guided meditation for each major arcana card to help aid the practitioner in diagnosing client issues. The spreads chapter, although short, gave a wide variety of created and modified spreads to use.

What I Didn’t Like
Early on Owl recommends that healers “be ever vigilant that those you read for do not become reliant on you.” I understand that we, tarot readers, do not want to be seen in a bad light. I know I hope that one day the health care community understands the power of tarot and how it can help uncover issues buried deep in our bodies. But… I disagree that we need to be hyper-vigilant to this need. There are just as many bad clients as there will be readers, and it’s our goal as healers to try and help everyone… even if it’s just a placebo.

However, my biggest beef with Tarot for Healing is that once again, we’re treated to a book with card meanings and the Minor Arcana are left with smaller info than their Major Arcana counterparts. Owl does an amazing job at describing how each of the majors relate to various areas of a client’s life. But, the minors are left to contend with generic “upright” and “reversed” diagnosis meanings. I am happy to report that the court cards get a small chapter with suggested meanings based on their rank in the court and their elemental and astrological connection. Oddly enough, Owl still gives the Court Cards the generic meanings alongside their other suit-mates in the minors sections.

This “shortening” feature was once again done in the Meditations chapter where Owl suggests mediations such as, “Two of Swords: For this meditation, ask how you can free yourself from things blocking you. Alternately, you can ask how to find a good compromise. Either way, the swords people can tell you the answers,” rather than giving the healer sample scripts to use.

I also want to mention that I’m not good with astrology and tarot yet, so the reader is left to decide whether the information Owl gives for astrological meanings in the Court Cards chapter and the Spreads chapter are correct.

Bottom Line: Interested in doing healing work with Tarot, or combining the divination system with another type of healing? Then Tarot for Healing is a good place to start reading, learning, and developing your own style.

Three Pawprints Out of Five

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Magical Identity by Taylor Ellwood

Magical Identity: An Exploration of Space/Time, Neuroscience, and Identity
Taylor Ellwood
Megalithica Books, 2012
252 pages

Reviewed by Selah

Taylor Ellwood’s Magical Identity is a important book for an occult library. Instead of giving us ways to change the world, it furthers the discussion he started in Inner Alchemy to how we can change our inner world (aka our selves)). In his introduction, Bill Whitcomb says, “Much of Magical Identity is concerned with identity; defining the other, defining the self, and redefining the boundaries between the two.” Ellwood’s main focus is how identities are made and how the occult magician can harness neuroscience, psychology, and elements of space/time to re-create oneself. Sounds rather big, right? I went into reading the book hoping that the book would help me change the way I saw myself.

Unfortunately, Taylor’s writing is way too academic. The book bogs down the practical exercises in with tons of in-depth theory. There are paragraphs that run on for a long time and it took a lot of time to get through them. Sometimes Ellwood’s definitions don’t align with what he is saying. While he mentioned that he contradicts himself in this book, I feel that a book needs to have a solid ground to help the reader along. It also doesn’t help that he tries to be all inclusive and overuses he/she or him/her.

There are a lot of great exercises in this book but you have to wade through many pages of definitions, lecture, and clunky sentences to understand how to apply the ideas to one’s life.

Three pawprints out of five.

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The Last Circle by Gretchen Blickensderfer

The Last Circle
Gretchen Blickensderfer
Self-published 2013
486 pages

Reviewed by Amanda Fisher

This is a rather long but very compelling thriller, set in a near-future American dystopia. What could happen if all of the fundamentalist Christian wing-nuts got it all their own way politically? This, like the very different Handmaid’s Tale, shows a version of the results, and why we need to take their sometimes ridiculous rhetoric seriously. I know this is a political comment, and I make it because the politics of the book are unavoidable. If you are sympathetic to the extremes of right-wing political rhetoric and its aims, you will hate this book.

It’s very focused on the action, which is fast moving with strong tension- so much so that I finished it in 2 days, even though it’s almost 500 pages! (Don’t be too put off by the length; it moves very fast, plus the type size is large and the line spacing very open.) The plot is very twisty, too, and primarily character-driven… which leads to one of its problems. The characters of the Bad Guys, especially Shelby, are more like caricatures. They’re definitely sociopathic, and possibly (especially Shelby) literally insane. I do not see how a pragmatic, if sociopathic, leader like Stephen Palmer would allow someone as basically unhinged as Shelby into the top circle of power. But then, we don’t see enough of him to know if he’s also psychotic; he may be, and just hides it better.

The Good Guys are better drawn- generally sympathetic, but flawed and they quite often irritate both each other and the reader. The main problem I had with them is that they did not seem consistently flawed. Sometimes their attitudes and responses didn’t seem coherent to what had gone before. However, compared to the kind of action story in which all the Good Guys seem to be of one mind and always in accord, this is refreshingly realistic. I also did enjoy reading a thriller where modern Pagans were definitely the Good Guys!

I liked the way the setting addressed the idea of what the USA would look like if extremist fringe of the right wing got their way. This was pointed up by the quotes that start each chapter- actual quotes from actual public figures, cited at the end of the book- though I wished the cites had been included with the quotes themselves, and think that would have made a stronger point that people are really talking about doing these things, here and now.

Dystopias tend to be exaggerated, and that’s true here. I really don’t think that the USA would slide into becoming a nation of fanatics in 5 or so years, especially not to the degree depicted.
Mostly people are far too apathetic for that…and if they were going for the apathetic as well as the “unbelievers”, they would not have much popular support- especially after they took away all the raunch in the media! I could be wrong about this, but very much hope I am not.

My final quibble has to do with the writing style, especially some of the word choices. They were odd in their rhythms and connotations. For example: “…[Texas] closing its borders to all but the most loyal paramours of Jesus.” (pg. 454) “Paramours” implies a far more carnal relationship than I think the author meant! Similarly, “She was screaming in berserk agitation as a third [agent] hammered a baton onto her gunshot wound.” (pg. 362). The nuances of neither “berserk” nor “agitation” really seem to fit the described scene. Also: “All were tacitly organized and, under Lilyan’s covert direction, assuaged their outraged guilt…” (pg. 377) It’s really awkward, since the adjectives do not match up well with the nouns they’re paired with. These are three examples, but this dissonance permeated the book. It’s as if the author used a thesaurus to find a fancier word with an arguably similar meaning, rather than choosing a plainer word that fit the sentences more comfortably.

I got this book for reviewing for paganbookreviews.net and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed it a lot despite its flaws, and would be interested in more from
Blickensderfer.

3.5 pawprints out of five.

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Grail Alchemy by Mara Freeman

Grail Alchemy: Initiation in the Celtic Mystery Tradition
Mara Freeman
Destiny Books
Rochester, VT 2014
278 pages

Reviewed by Micheal

I’ve had this book for a few months now, and despite my best intentions, I cannot finish it in one or two days.

Freeman, has done an excellent job at relating the Celtic myths to their counterparts in Christian, Hindu, and other mythos. Relating the Fisher King not only to masculine principle severed from the feminine but also to various other deities such as Osiris, Adonis(dying and being reborn) for example.

Additionally, Freeman views the silver branch to being a miniature version of the tree of life, and she correlates it to a Siberian Shamanic practice of attaching tree branches to their drums, as an aid to help them reach the tree on their journeys (pg. 49).

The meditations, VisionJourneys, are beautifully crafted, I would suggest that they be recorded prior to beginning the journey. Freeman offers a dedication and healing ritual at the end of the book.

Grail Alchemy presents the reader with a lot of information that simply should not be read over in one or two nights. While it has merely ten chapters, this reviewer would suggest that the reader take their time to truly benefit from the research and information that Freeman is making available.

Given the books depth of information, exercises, visualizations, I give the book:

Five pawprints out of five.

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