The Ultimate PCOS Handbook by Colette Harris & Theresa Cheung

For those suffering in spirit, body and mind from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, I cannot imagine a more complete and useful reference being in existence.  The authors have assembled an exhaustive concondance that will answer literally any question a person could have about the condition, including herbal remedies for many of the accompanying maladies and an assessment of the effects of natural intervention such as acupuncture, reflexology and aromatherapy.

The balance between natural treatments and contemporary medical break throughs in addressing this condition is aptly reached, making this volume a near-mandatory reference for those with PCOS to have on hand.  It is easy to read and easy to navigate, so reading only the sections that specifically apply is also an option.  I can’t imagine anyone putting this book down once they have started reading it.  There is much more valuable information included than one would ever imagine they need to know…until they find it.  It is truly a treasure.

The Book of the Bizarre by Varla Ventura

You simply will not find a more fun book to read.  For those of you who were fans as a kid of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not series (As I was!  *Hand proudly in the air!*), you have found a happy home in this fantastic collection of “freaky facts & strange stories.” 

Did you know that after all of the battling, Atilla the Hun died of a nosebleed?  On his wedding night?  That chimpanzees have been recorded as using up to 13 different herbs medicinally?  That Aldous Huxley and C. S. Lewis both died the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated?

This is bathroom reading at its very finest and trust me, that’s a compliment.

Hedge Witch by Silver RavenWolf

Oh well, typical Mama Silver.  By that I mean INCREDIBLE!  I think Silver actually has a psychic link into my life, Goddess bless her sweet little Witchy Diva heart.  When I was a newbie Witch reading Z Budapest and Buckland and the Farrars and such, she released “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” and won my undying allegience for her no nonsense, thrift store, laugh at yourself/not with yourself, joyful living take on the here-to-fore, stodgy, “DON’T LIGHT THAT CANDLE LAST!!!” dogma filled world of Wicca.  She was one of the first to suggest that perhaps the Emperor (or Empress) had no clothes on and that we did not have to be afraid of stepping outside of the stringent dictates of the classic traditions and doing our own thing as an Ecclectic Witch.  She paved the way for many others to come who would embrace the joy and light-heartedness of Craft and enter into it with fun and openness rather than with fear and control. 

As she released her follow up books To Light a Sacred Flame and To Stir a Magick Cauldron, it followed precisely my own progression through the degree levels.  She released Hexcraft right when my interest in the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions came about.  Teen Witch heralded my daughter’s coming of age as a Witchling.  Now, Hedge Witch follows my own progression out of Wicca and into that sacred place I call “That Which Cannot Be Defined,” a.k.a. “Hedge Witchery.”  It is a practice beyond the typical labels that takes you deeper into the belly of Craft to find your Witchy roots and move past the pomp and ceremony of Wicca. 

This book is full of practical and clever spellwork and knowledge and also is, incidentally, a delightful read because of Silver’s engaging way of speaking.  The observations and revelations she shares, particularly in the first part of the book, strongly reflect the growth and wisdom she has developed as an evolving Pagan.  I am delighted that she put this information out into the world and I eagerly look forward to her future books.  Many thanks for the time that she took to compile this enjoyable read. 

As a practitioner of a couple of decades, you get to the point where you wonder if there is anything new under the sun any more.  The next time I feel that way, I’m betting Silver will put out a new book.

Tarot Wisdom by Rachel Pollack

*sigh*  I’m such a groupie it’s not even funny.  Eileen Connolly, Nancy Garen and Rachel Pollack were the names on which I cut my little newbie Tarot teeth back in the deepest, darkest 1980′s when I first began reading cards.  With the subtitle of “Spiritual Teachings and Deeper Meanings,” I could not wait to get my hands on this book.

Overall, it did not disappoint.  If I’d phoned up Ms. Pollack and said, “Rache, write a book and tell me everything you know and every thought you’ve had about each of the 78 classic Tarot cards” and she answered, “OK, no problem,” this is the book that would result.  Her writing style is still as engaging and easy as it was 20-some years ago when I first started reading her work.  It is just as informative and impressive as “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom.“  My own complaint:  I did not care for the illustrations. 

I would say that this book almost presents too much information to take in except that I am a “hit the ground running” kind of person with the subject of the Tarot and like to lick up just about every bit of insight I can find about different ways to read the cards and new considerations regarding the classic illustrations.   For me, there isn’t a point of “too much information” and I enjoyed every word of this book. 

I fully expect to go back over it again and again, just as I do with the Tarot, each time picking out something new and seeing a paragraph or sentence in a new light.

The Wicca Handbook by Eileen Holland

Well, truth be told, you know you’ve hit the big time when Raymon Buckland (Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft) does your foreward.  It is fitting that Buckland would introduce the book to set the tone for what is to come since this is a classic beginner’s manual for Wicca.  Although my impression was that there was not anything particularly new offered in the book, it definitely compiles a strong and extensive collection of material all in one place that would be both useful and delicious for the fledgling Wiccan newbie.  I would say that “compendeum” would be the most appropriate term for this book as it provides nearly all the information that a first level practitioner would need to know before entering into the world of Craft.  I would definitely recommend it for newcomers who want “one stop shopping” for all of their entry level Wiccan informational needs.

One Witch’s Way by Bronwynn Forrest Torgerson

This lovely volume is a quick read full of delightful stories and rituals to take the reader through a full year of fun.  Ms Torgerson is engaging and magickal, letting her words dance across the page like carefree elves.  The poetry that is peppered throughout the book is tremendously cute, especially “Two Little Girl Frogs,”  and there is just not even one page on which even the most cynical spirit will not find a smile.

My favorite line in the entire book comes in the telling of an experience the author had while in medative counsel with The Goddess.  “I had never heard The Goddess swear before.”  I had to chuckle over that one due to my own experiences with the bawdy and dynamic side of Female Deity.

Just read it.  You’ll love it.

Lean Forward Into Your Life by Maryanne Radmacher

This is a lovely book full of inspirational stories intended to allow us reflection on our own situations that run parallel or otherwise to experience the losses and gains others have experience and we have not.

For me, it was a difficult book to read in many places for as much as it was inspiring and motivational, it was also illustrative of how often it is through painful and suffering and adversity that our inspiration and forward momentum is achieved.  Combining both literary references and personal experience, Ms Radmacher does a fine job of pulling together a nice balance between joy that will make your heart soar and pain that will make your spirit weep.

Unfortunately, I do not like for my spirit to weep, so while it was not my cup of tea throughout, others who are better able to move beyond the adversity and heartache some of the subjects of her commentary have experienced would likely enjoy the book much, much more.

Certainly, this is not a negative reflection on the author, but merely a personal preference on my own part.  The book is well written and quite thoughtful and would make a wonderful gift for the right person.

Mystic Dreamer Tarot – by Heidi Darros & Barbara Moore

Penned by Llewellyn’s new “Go To” girl for Tarot writing, Barbara Moore, this deck takes the traditional themes of Tarot decks (based on the Pamela Coleman Smith designs from the Rider-Waite deck) and brings them to life using actual photographs of real people modeling the scenes inherent to the cards.  It truly is like stepping into a dream filled with various imagery and symbolism.  Each card warrants a careful study to quietly take in all that the card says and represents. 

Although this deck, especially given the easy to follow instructions provided by Moore in the 200+ page accompanying manual, would be completely suitable for a novice reader, it is equally appropriate for the seasoned professional Tarotologists due solely to its evocative and complex imagery.  Unlike many in this time of mass marketed Tarot decks, The Dreamer’s Tarot appears to be the result of an artist who took their time to carefully consider what the pictures would reflect. 

I love the format of the book on a purely aesthetic level.  It’s very pretty and has the look of a personal journal.  Ms Moore gently nudges the reader with special sections at the end of each interpretation titled, “Use Your Intuition,” that encourage interpretation beyond the written word and classic meaning, instead pulling from the reader’s own experiences and impressions.  This is a practice I wholly endorse for those who wish to study the Tarot.

While certainly not a flippant deck that one would use to toss out a simple reading, it is entirely suitable for readers of all skill levels provided they are able to relax into the complexities of the deck and allow their own subconscious to come forward and become an active participant in the reading.

The Good Cat Spell Book By Gillian Kemp

So truly…I just don’t know what to say.  This is absolutely one of the prettiest books I’ve seen in quite some time.  The cover is cushy and thick and leathery and almost journal-like in quality.  It would not surprise me at all had the edges of the pages been gilded.  In addition to a wonderful cat history, there is a healthy dose of around 50 spells all using cats as a magickal tool.  I almost expected to see an altar diagram with the outline of the chalice, the censor, the athame, the candle, the cat…

Seriously, though, the spells in this book are quite good and would truly be quite effective with our without feline assistance.  A good many of them instruct you to “brush your cat’s fur,” so I am quite sure the use of this book will please kitties far and wide.

The book carries on past the spell work, including astrology for cats (I do not want an Aries cat!) and ending with a cat oracle involving Egyptian heiroglyphics and, naturally, your cat.  My cat wanted no part of it, but then, he’s never been a particularly helpful or concerned soul, preferring to tend (or have me tend) to his own needs and ignoring my own. 

For the die hard cat lover, this book would be a treasure. 

Magic When You Need It by Judika Illes

Jersey Girl, Judika Illes won my heart with her book Pure Magic, which is similar in nature to Magic When You Need It in that both are what are commonly referred to as “Recipe Books” full of spells for different occasions. 

While Pure Magic is more of a basic spell book, Magic When You Need It is a hard hitting one-two punch that brings high powered spell work to specific life arenas.  I love the approach Illes takes in her books of nothing being impossible or beyond the reach of a practiced Witch.  When working with her spells, particularly in this book, there is a strong feeling of flow and connect.  There is no wall to block the energy and the power of the words is almost palpable.

Clearly, she is an accomplished Witch and is able to convey the strength of her own practice through the written word in such a way that you almost feel as though she is right there working along with you at your side.  In this day and time, it is tough to find a Witch who will write a spell book that includes a ritual for Invoking The Dead and do so with a straight face.  That’s not intended to doubt the effective autheticity of the author’s work or to mock the intent whatsoever, but purely to illustrated that finding a true, balls-to-the-wall Witch is a rare and joyous experience.

When I read this book as a seasoned (and admittedly, sometimes bored) practitioner, I have to say my prevailing feeling was one of immense desire to get this lady into circle, crank up the drumming and knock a few roofs off some houses in the neighborhood.

Ms Illes shows us more of herself in this book than in her previous, and very worthy, efforts and the more I see, the more I like.