The Tarot of Bones by Lupa

The Tarot of Bones
Lupa
Llewellyn Publications, 2012

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Review by Natalie Zaman.

I’m admittedly biased about The Tarot of the Bones because I supported the Indiegogo campaign. I’ve always loved Lupa’s work and have been eye-balling sets of her bone runes (visit her etsy shop at http://thegreenwoff.etsy.com for a look if you already haven’t), so when she started putting out the word for patrons to fund the creation of a Tarot deck that would be based in her artwork, I was in like skin (no pun intended).

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a somewhat skeletal rendition of the Rider-Waite-Smith symbolism in The Tarot of the Bones. Lupa said that she’d be building on traditional symbolism, but Tarot of the Bones is unique. Each image is a combination of natural elements, arranged and collaged in Lupa’s signature style; stark, crisp, immersive. Looking at these images is a wander through the woods, or the careful navigation of a moss and wildflower-tufted cliff. It’s a walk along the seaside, or a peek inside a cave, a visual feast. Close your eyes and you might hear bird calls, the soft pad of feet in the underbrush, smell earth and rain. If you’re not comfortable of confident about handling actual bones, working with these cards would certainly be an effective beginner’s step.

I love beautiful collector’s decks, but ultimately, I like things that I can use. Some of The Tarot of the Bones’ nods to Rider-Waite-Smith are subtle, but obvious, like the serpent skeleton that chases its own tail to represent the Magician. I cheekily thought that I’d “gotten” that one: The skeletal snake is The Magician’s belt. Perhaps that can enter into the card’s meaning in a reading—after all, there is the archetype, and then there’s the intuitive pulls the reader draws from certain imagery. I couldn’t help but think of The Magician’s belt as soon as I saw this image. But it does not end there. The snake, as Magician, Lupa says, sheds his skin to emerge as something new. Then there is that sinewy magic of a snake’s movement. Even the type of serpent—the corn snake—was, she says, “a deliberate choice.” Not just the physical remains, but the whole animal and its nature is taken into consideration: The corn snake is often kept as a pet, Lupa says, and as such he is The Magician. Unlike his counterpart, The Hermit (played by a female hornbill skull). The Magician is evident, and in the public eye. Not so obvious was the Four of Cups portrayed as four white deer bones that form a shelter is, Lupa says, “the card of the introvert,” a safe haven from choices (at least for the moment), a place of contemplation. These details add a new and fresh meaning to the Tarot archetypes.

Like all takes on the Tarot, The Tarot of the Bones is loaded with symbolism, some traditional, and some with its own meaning entirely, embedded in natural elements, some I was familiar with (or thought I was familiar), and some not so much. I will need the book, at least at first, to help me identify all of the elements that went into each piece (It also occurred to me that this will make a marvelous reference for identifying and interpreting these natural elements both for working with this deck and otherwise.). Lupa is thorough in this regard—we get the story behind the card and its making, her associations and its connections with traditional Tarot archetypes where applicable. Her conversational and witty writing style makes this a pleasure (free Lupa with every deck!).

My favorite cards:

    • The Happy Squirrel (a happy add on after the Indiegogo campaign made goal). Apart from the Magician, it is the only other complete skeleton. I also love having a wild card type element in a reading.
    • Wheel: I have a thing about sand dollars, and was glad to see this shell-skeleton make an appearance.
    • The Lovers: I loved the almost pre-historic look of the albatross (made of resin) skulls in this image; they also look like the hands of a clock, pointing to the crystals that encircle them. Choices!
    • The King of Cups, represented by a turtle shell—perfect.

 

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New Paths to Animal Totems by Lupa

New Paths to Animal Totems: Three Alternative Approaches to Creating Your Own Totemism
Lupa
Llewellyn Publications, 2012

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Review by Jennifer Lawrence.

Choosing – and then having – a totem, or spirit animal, is one of the most ubiquitous experiences in Neopaganism today. It is such a well-known experience that there are even memes about it, where people turn the situation humorous by claiming Bruce Campbell, Chuck Norris, Lady Gaga, Darth Vader, or some other celebrity or fictional character as their spirit animal.

When people think about totems, generally they think of them through the lens of a particular culture. Very often – as much as nine times out of ten, perhaps – the specific culture they think of is “Native American”. Not a particular tribe, but a generic composite spanning an aggregation of the better-known tribes: Cherokee, Apache, Lakota, possibly Seminole, Cheyenne, Comanche, or sometimes Tlingit or Haida (Raven is a very popular totem). Rarely, someone will study up on the beliefs of other peoples around the world as regards spirit animals. But cultural frameworks are not the only way to study or meet totems, and this book provides three other pathways to learn about them: Correspondences, Bioregional, and Archetypal.

The author, Lupa, has been developing these paths for a number of years now, and her blog, A Sense of Natural Wonder (http://www.thegreenwolf.com/blog/) has become a key resource for seekers wanting to learn more about totems and learning to become closer to the spirits of nature in general. She has published three previous books on related topics and served as editor to two anthologies on unconnected Neopagan topics. A fourth book, Plant and Fungus Totems: Connect with Spirits of Field, Forest, and Garden has come out since the publication of this one.

The first pathway discussed in this book, that of Correspondences, begins by explaining – for those new enough to Neopaganism that they don’t yet know – what correspondences are, and then listing some examples of correspondence systems: astrological, seasonal, directional, elemental. Other forms of divinatory systems are discussed (Tarot, ogham, runic), and the section on astrology discusses the Chinese zodiac as well as the Western one. She points out that systems of correspondences can change over time, and emphasizes the need to make personal connections with the totems linked to these systems, rather than relying solely on stereotypical associations. There are invocations and outlines for rituals and spells in the last half of this section, and many suggestions meant to inspire thoughtful introspection that can lead to a much deeper, richer relationship with the totems you interact with.

The second pathway in the book – this reviewer’s favorite – is that of Bioregionalism. Specifically, it emphasizes learning about the specific animals native to the reader’s part of their country. For the reviewer, for example, who lives in the Midwest, in a suburban area near Chicago, by Lake Michigan, that means the totems more likely to be interacted with are apt to be animals like raccoons, tree squirrels, possums, the occasional coyote, robins, sparrows, garter snakes, American toads, and once in a while, hawks or falcons. Larger mammals like wolves, buffalo, and moose are nowhere to be found in this part of the States, and even deer and foxes are more likely to be seen only once the city itself is left behind and one travels out to more rural areas. This approach to totems helps the reader build a stronger relationship with the creatures he or she is more likely to see every day, and the frequency of that interaction is one of the qualities that makes it possible to connect all the more closely. In Arizona, an individual might have connections to sidewinder rattlesnakes, scorpions, Gila monsters, and buzzards; in the far north in Montana, a reader would indeed be likely to see wolves and elk, but also animals like marmots, Canadian lynx, bighorn sheep, and black bears. In Florida, there might be endangered Florida panthers, manatee, red wolves, bobcats, otters, armadillos, and capybara. Each bioregion will play host to its own set of creatures, some of which will be common and found over most of the country (deer, raccoons, squirrels), and others which will be found in that area alone.

The final section of the book deals with the pathway of Archetypes. In this system, creatures become symbols – metaphors — for particular concepts, experiences, and qualities. In the work of psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who defined and described the concept of archetypes, archetypes dwelt in the unconscious of the human brain, and an understanding of archetypes as guideposts to human behavior helped individuals to understand how that behavior was shaped by behavioral, neurochemical, and biological events and processes that had happened a long time in the past. The author points out that while a common understanding – or misunderstanding – of archetypes has led to any number of well-known symbols (dogs as hard workers, bears as healers, etc.), in the system of archetypal totemism, each creature may indeed have a different meaning from person to person. She stresses the importance of the self-interview and several other psychological tools described in this section to make certain that the meaning an individual ascribes to an archetypal totem actually fits what that totem means to that individual. She also cautions that, although working with archetypal totems is a process born from a psychological set of tools, it is in no way a replacement for actual psychological therapy, and should not be construed as such.

The final two sections in the book deal with learning how to combine the systems in the book and work in those combined models (Chapter Six) and other sorts of work with animal totems (Chapter Seven). Both chapters provide a wealth of advanced practice and ideas for individuals who have thoroughly practiced the exercises and ideas in the first part of the book. Part of chapter seven deals with certain American taboos – working with parts of dead totems (deer antlers, animal hides) and extends to eating parts of them; chickens, cows, pigs, turkeys, sheep, geese, ducks, and goats are all considered food animals in most countries, and yet they are all animals that can be connected to in totemic work. In some cultures, eating the flesh, eggs, milk, etc. of such animals is considered a way to become closer to that creature, and partaking of its essence, although it is a practice that vegetarians and vegans would not choose to take part in. This chapter also discusses working with the totem spirits of domestic animals that we commonly regard as pets: cats, dogs, parrots, snakes, fish, rats, hamsters, lizards, and even horses.

Finally, at the end of the book are a bibliography, a list for recommended reading, a glossary, and two indexes that will provide helpful research material for those wanting to do and learn more: a list of animal nonprofit organizations, and a guided meditation for finding totems.

This is one of the most useful and well-written books on totems ever written, and most certainly the finest one written in the last decade or so. In the years to come, it is not unrealistic to believe that it will come to be regarded as a foundational work in the study of totems and how to work with them. It is certainly not unrealistic to state that, for those who wish to not only begin learning how to work with totems but also to work with them in a myriad of ways that deepen the connections one makes, this is the book to add to one’s library.

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Invoking Animal Magic: A Guide for the Pagan Priestess

Invoking Animal Magic: A Guide for the Pagan Priestess
Hearth Moon Rising Moon Books, 2013

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Review by Leslie Linder.

I admit, I was expecting this book to be the usual information about communicating with your magical kitty. While I enjoy that type of material too, Hearth Moon Rising gave a very academic and experiential accounting of several types of animals that I might not have thought of on my own. The book offers an in-depth study of nine animals: snake, bat, mouse, bear, owl, toad, spider, rabbit/hare, and dog/wolf. Surprised by some of them? I was. She also touches on other animals and insects of all sorts —including the noble cockroach!

“Magic” is defined in the text in two ways: as spell casting and also as connection to the divine. The author works with both types of magic when she gives us rituals to follow as well as pagan lore about each species. For instance, she goes into a great deal of detail about the difference between hares and rabbits.

The book is a mix of dense academic research, varied personal exercises, and well-written personal anecdotes. I was drawn in very early in the book by Hearth Moon’s description of a time when she lived in an earth-home. Three snakes slept by or under her bed (including a rattler). Her fear and curiosity culminated in a magical experience where she connected with one of the snakes while trying to remove it from her home. Instead, the two of them formed a spiritual bond. The way she came to co-exist with the snakes and intuitively connect with their magic is a good indication of the tone you will find in the rest of the book.

This author has really spent time researching the Pagan historical context of the chosen species. She has also interacted with living animals and done her work to connect with them. She has designed rituals, meditations, and journaling prompts in each chapter. These make for motivating individual study or for fun group work.

The historical or scientific aspects of each chapter may feel a little dense at times, but the material is well-paced, with personal stories and a humorous writing style. For instance, my favorite sentence in chapter eight (dealing with transformation and shape-shifting) is, “if it looks like a duck, it could still be a witch.”

I would recommend going through this book if you are a Pagan and an animal lover. You will deepen your understanding of the creatures around you in some very interesting ways. Even if it looks like a pest, it may also be a messenger from the Goddess. This book can help you discern the difference.

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My Name is Cernunnos by Dusty Dionne and Jared Mackenzie

My Name is Cernunnos
Dusty Dionne (Author) and Jared Mackenzie (Illustrator)
Jupiter Gardens Press, 2013
62 pages

Reviewed by Uloboridae

As a reader, one of the many book-related phrases I have heard in life is “don’t judge a book by its cover”. In this case, my mistake was judging a book by its title.

I selected “My Name is Cernunnos” because I thought it would be a nice little story about Cerrunnos, or perhaps be a young child’s introduction to deities or mythology related to Cerrunnos. Instead, it is essentially “Baby’s first Animal Guide dictionary”, where Cerrunnos introduces the reader to some of his animal friends and describe what they symbolize. Not a bad, but it was completely unexpected.

The story centers on the reader being introduced to Cernunnos’s animal friends around the forest, both wild and domestic. The reader learns from Cernunnos about each animal’s particular powers, and learns how to apply their lessons to the reader’s life (i.e. appreciate what you have, listen to the adults in your life, etc.).

This could have been a good book, but the lack of consistency in both its writing style and its subject matter is why I give this book a low score. Most of the book is written in plain English and the symbolism is basic and easy for a young child to understand, so why have fancy words like “widdershins” to describe the energy of Cat when “clockwise” or “counterclockwise” works just as well? Why does the idea that Cat has opposing energy currents even matter in the first place? There is no explanation. At least the description of the Hummingbird having fairy garb and fairy associations makes sense because Hummingbirds DO look and act like common depictions of fairies. In contrast, the description of Cat just becomes too abstract for a young child, to the point where it’s meaningless (even as an adult, I fail to see what point Cat’s description has for the reader). To be fair, the book does give a glossary at the end of what those, and other new (to the child) terms mean. As a result, for others this may be turned into a teaching tool for their children.

The cow is another animal whose introduction felt wholly out of place. Most of the book had animals in rather familiar North American/European settings. When Cow came along though, suddenly a picture of a Hindu addressing an Indian Cow in religious regalia appears, with a vague description on how Cow is “a God to some people”. What People? Tell us more, this sort of thing is interesting! Don’t just randomly do this with Cow when you could add this sort of information to many of the other animals, like Cat and Crow. Children’s books do not need an overload of detail, but being very vague can make them lose interest too.

Finally, and this may be debatable, the book uses the term “medicine” frequently when referring to what each animal symbolizes. This could be considered cultural appropriation to some. Personally, I would not be comfortable reading this to a child, as I am not a member of any Native American tribe and did not grow up in a culture that gives context to the concept of “animal medicine”.

The illustrations in the book are charming and colorful, drawn in a comic-like style. There is a variety of people and animal activities present, along with different details to search for that tells a story (on their own and with the written text). The facial expressions (on humans and other animals), for example, are varied and can create a story within itself to the imaginative reader. My favorite is the page where Deer gives a monster an exasperated look, as if to sigh and say “You again? Are you kidding me? I just got rid of you on the last page”. I literally laughed out loud when I noticed that. I do not know if this book is meant to be as a print or as a .pdf file, but I feel that the illustrations would benefit greatly from being in a printed book format. The .pdf file format tends to degrade the images a bit, to the point where the labels on the animals are not quite legible.

Overall, I feel that this is an interesting topic and is arranged in a good format for a children’s book. However, I would recommend a tightening up of the language, and making the information more consistent, and clear.

Three pawprints out of five.

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Rabbit’s Song by S.J. Tucker, Trudy Herring and W. Lyon Martin

Rabbit’s Song
Written by S.J. Tucker and Trudy Herring, illustrated by W. Lyon Martin
Magical Child Books, 2009
32 illustrated pages

If you haven’t become acquainted with the rich fabric that is S.J. Tucker’s storytelling skill, here’s a chance to introduce both yourself and your child to her way with words. In this collaboration with author Trudy Herring, Tucker creates a delightful tale of how rabbit and other overlooked animals became favorites of the trickster, well before they gained their fame through such pranks as stealing the sun. Its message is clear–even the humblest beings have important places in the world, a crucial moral to give to any child. And the amazingly complex and appealing illustrations by artist W. Lyon Martin give this book a sense of life and movement while evoking the Otherworld of mythos.

The suggested readership is 5 years and up. It would be easy to say this is a book for pagan children, but that’s selling it short. Many children are raised with world mythology, and this lovely tale draws inspiration from the best of those. Animals and nature feature prominently in a lot of children’s books as well, and this one has a variety of wild creatures beckoning the reader in. However, even adults can enjoy the rolling lyrics and lovely artwork of this book, making this a finely crafted tale fit for a wide range of readers.

Five pawprints out of five.

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Spirit & Dream Animals by Richard Webster

Spirit & Dream Animals: Decipher Their Messages, Discover Your Totem
Richard Webster
Llewellyn, 2011
248 pages

While many books on totemism mention dreams as a way of discovering and working with totems, they generally don’t go into much detail about the process, other than “if you keep dreaming about this animal, it might be your totem”. Dream work is not my preferred way for totemic work, but I was impressed by this book, which is more in-depth on the subject than I’ve seen.

It does feel to me like the author is much more familiar with dream work than totemism. Even if you’ve no interest in animal totemism, this book has some excellent information on basic dreamwork, for which it is a valuable text. In just a couple dozen pages Webster imparts some wonderfull practical advice on how to work with your dreams, what they mean, and how to get the most out of that level of consciousness that almost everyone experiences every night.

However, the totemic information is good, if nothing particularly new–it’s pretty solid standard information like signs that may point to what your totem is, ways to work with your totem (like dancing!), and a bunch of historical and cultural information on animals around the world. Again, in not too many pages, he’s done a fine job of pulling together the basic relevant information for someone who may be new to the topic.

And that sort of rounds out the strengths of the book in my eyes. Webster has taken two topics and given great background on them, so someone who hasn’t done dreamwork can understand it, and someone who hasn’t done totemism can understand it, and then put the two together neatly. My complaint is that he didn’t go further with this–the practical material basically stops after “Here’s how to find out what your totem is”, and then the second half of the book is all totem animal dream dictionary. I recognize that the dictionary format is beloved both among dream writers and totem writers, but I lament that there wasn’t more “how to” material from this author. What else, for example, does he do or recommend to bond with your totem besides dancing? How can we work with our totems in dreams once we’ve identified them as more than just symbols? After all, totems are independent beings, not just quick lists of dream keywords and generic concepts. He’s got a good handle on things like lucid dreaming–how do we use it more in conjunction with totems, for example as a form of journeying?

If you’re looking for a basic book on animal dreams and/or totemism, this is good; as I said, the author clearly knows his stuff and conveys it admirably well. But I, greedy thing that I am, am left wanting more, because what was there already was so good.

Four pawprints out of five.

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Salmon Nation by Wolf and Zuckerman, eds.

Salmon Nation: People and Fish at the Edge
Edited by Edward C. Wolf and Seth Zuckerman
Ecotrust/Oregon University Press, 1999/2003
80 pages

This is another one of those “not specifically pagan, but of pagan interest” books that I like to add in here every so often. Much is made of totemism, and the Land, and our connection to these and other elements of nature-based spirituality. Salmon Nation is a book that keenly illustrates those connections, and the roots of why Salmon is such an important totem to the Pacific Northwest. More importantly, it is just one example of how humans have taken a system that developed over millions of years of natural selection, geological evolution, and other processes that we often only barely comprehend, and changed it suddenly, violently, and detrimentally.

The book opens up with an essay from a member of one of the several indigenous tribes that fished for salmon and traded goods at Celilo Falls. A tradition that lasted fifteen thousand years ended when the falls were flooded by a downstream dam, despite protest. This sets the stage for showing numerous other ways in which technological progress has run over patterns that took an incredibly long time to set into place, to include the intricate migration patterns of multiple distinct populations of salmon. The book continues through descriptions of both wild and farmed salmon fishing and cultivation, the safety and health of wild salmon populations, and the impact that our current fishing policies have on the very existence of salmon.

To pagans, this should be an object lesson of why we need to take totemism beyond “My totem is a fish! Yay!” and tie our spirituality to the very earth and waters themselves. Many of the cultures we draw from revere(d) animals, not just out of symbolism, but out of survival. In post-industrial cultures, we are too often divorced from the processes that bring us food, and so turn a blind eye to ongoing destruction of our life support system.

Read this book as inspiration. Read it as motivation. Read it for grief for what has been lost, but also for the realization that we can make more of our spiritual practices than simple lip service to Nature. Meditate on what you read, and go from there.

Five fins out of five.

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Barbara Kingsolver
Harper Perennial, 2007
370 pages

On occasion I find a book that isn’t particularly about pagan religious or related topics that I still feel adds value to concepts often explored in paganism. One of the biggest ones is food. While not all pagans are Wiccan, obviously, the harvest cycle of holidays that originated in Wicca has spread throughout many branches of paganism, and other traditions have created their own approaches to the cycles of life and death. Additionally, as animals, we all eat, and so pagan or not, this book has immediate relevance.

Barbara Kingsolver writes here about the first year she and her family decided to become locavores, eating food that only originated within an hour’s drive of their home. Having the distinct advantage of enough land and money to be able to have their own small farm made a huge difference, and the degree of her locavorism is beyond most people’s ability at this point (which she even admits). But it’s inspiring, and her story is illustrative of the differences between corporate farming, and traditional small farming, on numerous levels. Over the period of a year she not only describes what it was like to only be able to have certain produce fresh at specific times of the year, raising poultry, and how to keep a family of four fed this way. She also wove in a lot of information about just how destructive large-scale agribusiness is, from the human body to the animals and plants raised in it, and the environment as a whole. Also, the fact that the family saved several thousand dollars by being locavores is a huge revelation in this economy, and busts the myth that locavorism must be expensive because a whole chicken costs more than four dollars. Just for this practical information alone the book is worth the cover price and then some.

However, what I feel should be of particular notice is the way that the change in practices affected the family structure. Life began to revolve around the kitchen, and not in a bad way. All four members of the family were often involved in activities ranging from cooking to canning to slaughtering poultry; Kingsolver’s older daughter contributed a number of essays detailing her experiences growing up in this household (a good place to be, apparently) and the younger took the initiative to buy her own chickens and start her own egg-selling business. The family spent more time together because of the efforts put into making food happen, and this created stronger bonds as a cohesive group, with more communication and collaboration.

Additionally, and not at all surprisingly, Kingsolver and her family became much, much more aware of the cycles of the seasons, and just how important it is to pay attention to Nature, not just as an abstract entity, but as the environment we are all immersed in and reliant upon every day. Animals and plants taken out of their cycles suffer both as individuals and as species, and the safety of our food supply is threatened because of it. If we pagans are to walk the talk about harvest festivals and being close to Nature, then our food is a damned good starting point.

This is not the how-to book of locavorism, but it’s a good inspiration. Consider it locavorism in theory, with recommended reading for practice (though this book contains a wealth of recipes to try out!)

Five pawprints out of five.

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Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook by Deborah Blake

Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook
Deborah Blake
Llewellyn, 2010
246 pages

I’ll start this review with the caveat that I’m really not a fan of spell books. They’re one of those remnants of the 90’s ZOMGWICCA publishing boom that I wish would just fade away. It feels as though the formula is “Write the main how-to book on a given tradition/topic/etc. Then write the related spell book. And after that? Somehow tarot.

That being said, I do not constitute the whole of the esoteric and related readership. And if someone were to insist that they needed a spell book, either to work with directly or as inspiration, I’d recommend this one as a potential addition to the witchy library. I’ve generally been a fan of Deborah Blake’s writing, and I’m not surprised she managed to write a spell book that I can give a positive review.

I think a lot of it is that she came up with a really wide variety of spell ideas. There’s more than just the usual lineup of healing, protection, money and LUV ME PLEASE! There’s a spell to boost advertising in business endeavors, and another to increase the likelihood of a damaged friendship being mended in a mutually favorable fashion. There are also things that can be used to boost–but not replace–mental health treatment, such as one to decrease emotional sensitivity, and another to focus on working through mental illness in general. And, as the title suggests, these are all arranged in alphabetical order–and some of the titles, like “Jerk Avoidance” and “Shit Happens” added a bit of levity. And the spells themselves are well-written and don’t involve hard-to-obtain materials like eye of honey badger.

There are a few pages of additional information helpful to spellcasting. Along with some guides on writing and casting spells, and when to cast or not, there’s also a bit of a blurb on familiars penned (by proxy) by Blake’s feline familiar, Magic, that’s actually pretty good even in its brevity. This is a nice guide for anyone new to the concept of spellcasting, but those who seek new ideas beyond the usual stuff may find this to be a good source of inspiration.

It’s still another spell book, and I’ll admit the cover got the hairy eyeball from me. But if ya gotta have a spell book, you could do much, much worse than this creative approach.

Four pawprints out of five.

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Earthwalks for Body and Spirit by James Endredy

Earthwalks for Body and Spirit
James Endredy
Bear and Company, 2002
200 pages

One of the things I have always appreciated the most about James Endredy’s writings is that he takes spirituality and roots it very firmly in the physical world, perhaps more than just about any other author on shamanism and related topics. It’s a much-needed reconnection in a time and place where too often “spirituality” is focused on ethereal, untouchable things of the mind and imagination, with little hooking them to the “everyday” world. So having exercises and concepts that remove the gap between this word and the other one (if there is even a distinction) is a really welcome change. This, his first book from nearly a decade ago, is no exception.

The premise is simple: walking meditation. For a lot of people, sitting and being quiet simply isn’t a good option. Walking meditation is a way to focus the mind while also allowing the body a chance to settle down and move more intently. However, this book is not simply about focusing on the body, but focusing on the body as being an integral part of the environment it is within. The ability to be aware of both within and without simultaneously allows one to break down the barriers until there is no within or without, only what is.

This isn’t just the same steps made over and over, however. The book contains dozens of unique and incredibly useful ways to walk, starting with the most basic Walk of Attention, which trains the person to be aware of how the body moves and what it’s moving in, to more elaborate group walks, and walks that are aimed at focusing on specific elements or other parts of the environment. In fact, one could work with this book for months, if not years, and not get bored.

Very little of it could be misconstrued as woo-woo; this is spirituality grounded constructively and healthily. Any beings of spirit are encountered in their physical forms, for the most part, and the animals, plants and other phenomena behind the spirits are what are brought into focus. Yet the wonder and awe is not at all lost; on the contrary, Endredy’s walks encourage and facilitate the most fine and complex amazement at the world around us, as well as the bodies we wear. Even the final Walk for Vision only calls for a vision after an entire day immersed in the beauty of physical things.

This is an extraordinary book that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. Anyone practicing shamanic practices–in fact, anyone who professes a nature-based spirituality–would do well to pick this book up. And even those who are not particularly spiritual but who would like to reconnect with nature and the world at large may very well benefit from this text.

Five walking pawprints out of five.

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