Review of Pagan Portal Candle Magic.

Pagan Portals - Candle Magic: A Witch's Guide to Spells and Rituals

What an amazing book!

In the thirty odd years I have been  involved in this subject never have I read a book as in-depth as this one.  A reader who had no knowledge of this particular subject could buy this book and after reading it have a good understanding of what candle magic is all about.

The book is split into four parts and each part has a wealth of information that is clear and concise, beginners and adepts alike will find plenty for them in this book.  Part one deals with the correspondences for candles, colour and type etc.  Then it deals with everything from scents and oils to ethics and curses, plus everything in between.  The author really has covered all bases.  There are so many tips, even an old hat like me picked up a few.  One in particular that I really liked was to use a wax crayon to roll or dribble over a candle to add colour – what a fantastic tip.

The author tells us that it is OK not to have shelves and cupboards full of magical paraphernalia and items for use during spellwork and ritual.  Not many authors, I have found, will tell you this, and for me it was a refreshing change.  The author encourages us to be inventive when it comes to using items that you don’t have for a spell, using our imagination rather than shelling out for unnecessary items.

Part Two of this book covers the basics of ritual. from altars and altar candles, to circle casting, to sending healing.  The topic of outdoor candles is covered here, as is candles for seasonal celebrations.  Plus, there are plenty of suggestions for candle use during the sabbats.

In part three the topic is meditation, divination, and psychic sight.  There are plenty of examples of how candles can be used to aid meditation.  The author also discusses how candles can be used as a divination tool.  There are also plenty of suggestions on how to increase or improve your psychic sight.

Part Four covers the history of candles, chandlery – which means candle making – and safety whilst using candles, quite a comprehensive list on this subject.  The history of candle making section discusses candles in witchcraft history.

At the end of the book, there are plenty of references and a bibliography, well worth checking out too.

I found this book to be a comprehensive guide to candle magic and wish it had been around back when I was first learning about such things.  The information is just what novices need, with all of the information held in one book rather than several books.  I feel this area of the market has been crying out for such a book for quite some time, and now, thanks to Lucya Starza such a book exists.  This book is a delight and a must for anyone who has an interest in candle magic.

5 stars *****  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

 

 

 

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Review of Forever Living Products

imageRecently I was asked to review some products from the Forever Living range.  There was quite a selection of products for me to sample and that was a positive for me right away.  There was no one particular product pushed to the forefront, it was a case of sampling what I wanted and giving my honest review.

Before this opportunity came up I had no clue as to who or what Forever Living is.  As always when reviewing a product I research the product, the company and what people are saying online.

Here is a link to Forever Living’s website.

As with a lot of products that are sold both online and via people setting up their own work from home business there are always people who will tell you that such things are pyramid schemes.  No, Forever Living is not a pyramid scheme – I’m fairly certain pyramid schemes are illegal anyway.  In situations like this, I prefer to form my own opinion and usually what I find when I have done the research is that people form an opinion based on what other people have said.  I think that is unfair, because unless you go and do the research yourself you cannot really give an honest opinion.  What I have found is that some products are quite pricey and this puts a lot of people off.  That, of course, is their prerogative, if they choose not to use Forever Living because they do not want to pay out a certain amount of money then that is totally up to them.  I am not going to lie, the product range is quite expensive, but if you research each product and compare it to something else that is similar in make you often find that the price is comparable.  For instance, they have a gel product that is used for soothing joint and muscle pain.  I have yet to try this product – I have ordered a tube – but I am willing to pay a couple of quid more than the nearest comparable product because nothing else has worked for me.

I have an allergy to salicyclic acid – found in anti-inflammatory medications and gels and creams, as well as aspirin.  I have tried several creams and gels that work to soothe joint and muscular pain but they have not worked.  I don’t know if this product will work – I will review it once it arrives and I have used it – but I decided to try it out because nothing else has so far.  That is the point here, I have tried cheaper products and not yielded any results, so if you read this review and think to yourself that a cheaper product is out there, chances are I have tried it and it has failed.

Anyway, onto the product reviews.

Forever Living products are all aloe vera based products.  Aloe vera has healing properties that soothe and calm, meaning a kind and gentle product that won’t irritate your skin.

//gallery.foreverliving.com/gallery/GBR/image/products/AloeHandFaceSoap200x200.gifI have to admit I used this product as a shower gel.  Using a blob about the size of a 50p I washed my entire body – a little goes a long way.  The product lathered up into a rich, creamy lather and my skin felt lovely and soft afterwards.  When I first used it in the shower I hadn’t realised it was not a complete body wash – I was in a rush and had just grabbed it – so I had wondered if there would be any skin irritation.  There was no burning or irritation at all.  The smell was quite subtle, which was a plus for me as I hate overbearing smells.  Aloe Vera products can often have a strong odour to them but this is not the case with this product.

Forever Aloe Scrub®I absolutely adored the Aloe face scrub. I have used many face scrubs in my life and have found that quite a lot of them are too harsh, too abrasive.  It can be difficult to find one to suit my sensitive skin.  This product left my skin feeling amazing after I used it.  I am not one prone to gushing over beauty products, but I really would buy this product over and over again.  I have never been so impressed with a face product.  I have really sensitive skin and even the best of products can irritate it so I was a little worried this product might too.  My skin felt soft and fresh afterwards and this was a huge plus for me.  I even asked my daughter to try it out, she also has sensitive skin.  Her verdict was that the product had a lovely smell and that she did not experience any stinging or burning whilst using the product either.

 

The Forever Aloe Moisturizing lotion was another product that both myself and my daughter tried out.  Again, the smell was very subtle and left our skin feeling soft for quite a long time afterwards.  The lotion was light and did not leave a greasy feeling on our skin afterwards, some moisturisers can leave your skin feeling greasy and oily but this one did not do that.

 

 

//gallery.foreverliving.com/gallery/GBR/image/products/061_large.jpgI absolutely loved the Aloe Vera Gelly.  This is a product that I am definitely going to be buying over and over again.  Again, the smell was quite pleasant and subtle.  The product left my skin feeling lovely and soft and there was no residual stickiness or greasiness.

 

All in all I would recommend quite a lot of the products that Forever Living offer, sure, some things are expensive and that is bound to put some people off, but if you are looking for quality natural products then that is what you will get with Forever Living products.

 

 

 

 

Review of Antonia Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore: A Rebellious Romantic Comedy

Antonia Barclay and Her Scottish Claymore: A Rebellious Romantic Comedy

 

 

This novel has been dubbed “The Princess Bride meets Jane Austen”.

Antonia Barclay is a headstrong nineteen-year-old who lives in the Scottish Borders with her family.  The novel is set in 1586 but the author has added a modern twist to the tale by allowing her characters to use vocabulary that is more in keeping with this era.  This lends a lighter feel to the prose – quite often the narrative can be quite heavy when the story is set in this era and that can be quite off-putting for many readers.  The author has mixed the old with the new here and allowed the two to intermingle wonderfully.  At the very start of the novel the author makes a lighthearted pact with the reader, giving a gentle warning that all forms of social, political and fashion correctness will be overlooked in favour of frolic and adventure.

The novel is fun and unconventional, it really isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, so you really need to suspend your belief and just let the author’s words entertain you.  Antonia is quite a character, headstrong, determined, adventurous, she is an empowered young woman.  She is at an age where she is expected to be concentrating her time and efforts on activities such as harp playing, embroidery and finding a suitable husband.  Antonia would rather be riding her horse and spending time alone, but between her three brothers, her mother and her best friend she is cajoled into what they term as more womanly activities.  Antonia is a likeable character because she does not let society define her.  She knows her own mind and she’s not afraid to voice her opinion.

Antonia’s mother convinces her that she must attend an upcoming ball at a neighbouring estate and tells her she must also attend a dinner at their own home that evening.  The dinner is being held in honour of Sir Basil Throckmorton.  Just before dinner that evening, Antonia bumps into Sir Basil’s son, Rex, an overweight, overbearing, obnoxious oaf and he leers at her, makes lewd comments about her womanly shape and all but gropes her in the hallway.  This onslaught is interrupted by Breck Claymore, another guest at dinner that evening.  Breck saves Antonia from the disgusting Rex, and when their eyes meet it is love at first sight.  The action comes thick and fast from this point on.  Antonia and Breck begin officially courting after Breck has secured Lord and Lady Barclay’s permission to court their daughter.

Antonia discovers that her parents are not actually her real parents, but that she is the secret daughter of Mary Queen Of Scots who is imprisoned over the border in England.  The Throckmortons have also discovered this and Sir Basil plots to use Antonia against both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, thus overthrowing King James of Scotland and Queen Elizabeth of England.  Sir Basil plans to prove Antonia is Queen Mary’s daughter and then marry her so that he can execute his plan to overthrow the Monarchs.

Once Antonia discovers that Queen Mary is her mother she takes off to find her, enlisting the help of a man named Gus.  Gus is the brother of Minne, Antonia’s nanny, both Gus and Minnie know the truth about Antonia’s parentage and have kept the secret for nineteen years.  But once the Throckmortons arrived on the scene Minnie knew Antonia’s life was in danger.

The novel is lighthearted and jolly.  Even when Antonia is kidnapped by the Throckmortons the author keeps the tone light and jolly.  This helps the story move along at a really good pace and adds a touch of humour to what could be an otherwise dark novel.

The book is very well written and the language the author uses is superb.  This book is for anyone who loves historical romances.  It may not be to everyone’s taste, maybe not even those who would normally read historical romance, because of the lighthearted comedy element that the book has.

This is not my usual read but I think it was a really enjoyable book and such a fun read.

 

5 stars *****

 

Review of Hekate: A Devotional.

 

Pagan Portals - Hekate: A Devotional

Right at the beginning of this book the author says “This is not an academic tome, nor one that is set in historic tradition”  Immediately I knew this book would be an enchanting read.  Quite often books that are written about deity are very heavy with academical language or historical facts and that can very often make them hard going.  This is very much a personal journey, a sharing of what the author has felt in her own devotions to Hekate through her rituals.

I found that the book reads very much like a blog, and that, for me, was a huge plus.  Quite often, when a book has been written on such a topic, there can be a patronising, authoritative tone to it and if you are not looking for that kind of read it can be rather off-putting.  This style allows the words to flow and the reader can enjoy the book without it feeling like it is too instructive.

I must admit, I know very little of this goddess and it was interesting to learn so much about her in this way.  The book has so much information which is presented in an easy style, it makes it a joy to read.

If you are looking for lots of historical facts, then you won’t find that here.  Nor will you find an academic tome that hits you with facts that have been gathered from an educational point of view.  If that is what you are looking for then this book is not for you.  It is full of personal stories and experiences, which I find is a much better way to get to know any Goddess or God.

The book is listed as part devotional, part Grimoire and I think that will appeal to a lot of readers who don’t want to contend with the heavy weighted academical, historical writings that such topics tend to offer.

A lovely read that offers lots of ideas and information.

5 stars *****

 

 

 

Review of The Psychic and Spiritual Awareness Manual.

 

This book is a comprehensive guide to psychic and spiritual awareness.  It offers an in depth explanation into this subject, so if you are just beginning on this path you will find this book offers you so much.  It isn’t only for the beginner though, if you have been on this path for a while there is still plenty of content for you to get your teeth into.  The book can offer a fresh approach to areas where you may find you have become blocked upon your path.  There really is something for everyone in this book.

At the end of each chapter there are exercises for you to do, giving you the opportunity to practice what you have learnt.  This gives the book a very hands on feel, allowing the reader to develop their skills as they go through the book.  This is a very useful tool, especially if one does not have the means to engage with spiritual teachers or groups.

The book is set out in such a way that it allows the reader to get right to the heart of the subject that is being discussed.  The author uses clear and concise language, not at all patronising, which I always think is a plus.

 

A very helpful guide for anyone who wishes to learn about this subject.

5 stars *****

Review of The Feathered Bone.

 

*WARNING, THIS BOOK DEALS WITH SEXUAL ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. ANYONE WHO WILL BE TRIGGERED BY SUCH CONTENT MAY NOT WANT TO READ ON*

The Feathered Bone is a novel by author, Julie Cantrell.  The story starts off in a rather gentle manner, although the undercurrent of “something big” about to happen is never far from the surface.  The story centres around Amanda Salassi, the mother of sixth grade student Ellie and the chaperone of Sarah Broussard.

Ellie and Sarah’s sixth grade class are on a field trip to New Orleans and the first couple of chapters deal mainly with this part of the story.  There are a lot of references made to slavery and being held against your will and this is where I got the sense that the “something big” would feature heavily.  The story is set in rural Louisiana, in a town called Livingston Parish which is fondly referred to as LP.  The first couple of chapters see the action taking place in New Orleans, pre Katrina, and despite the shady characters that are mentioned, one in particular being pivotal to the events that happen, there is a feeling of innocence about the action that takes place in these opening chapters, the characters – the mothers and their children and their teacher – have an air of innocence about them that makes what’s to come all the more harder to take.

Once Sarah disappears the action seems to intensify, gone is the sleepy town feel about this story, replaced by the murky, criminal underworld that taints everything and everyone.  Amanda blames herself for Sarah’s disappearance, she was the chaperone after all.  Beth and Preacher, Sarah’s parents and very good friends of Amanda’s are frantic but they don’t openly blame Amanda, or Ellie, for that matter.

This story is not so much fast paced, but it is big on action.  During the five years that Sarah Broussard is missing the book deals with the sexual abuse she is forced to suffer, the thought process that she goes through, documented in a series of journals she writes.  It also deals with Domestic Violence, depression, Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of that, teenage depression and suicide, betrayal, grief and the long road to recovery.  The book deals with Amanda and Sarah’s faith in God, stressing how this faith is instrumental in seeing them through the worst five years of their lives.

The book is highly emotive and will leave yo with some very powerful and disturbing images.  One review I have read described it as graphic but I don’t agree, there are no graphic scenes in this book, the author tells the story through Amanda and Sarah’s eyes and it is often what is not said that conjures up the images relating to the story that I found I was left with.  I am not going to lie to you, this book is heart-wrenching  on so many levels and from so many points of view.  It seems that every page in this book is drenched in pain and suffering.  But amongst the pain and heartbreak there always felt, to me anyway, that hope was never far away.  Granted, it was a long time coming and some of what Amanda had to go through was so very painful, but hope remained on the horizon.  For Sarah, hope was all she was left with.  Her situation is so awful but her faith kept her hope alive and that is what got her through the dark times she was forced to endure.

The book is heartbreaking.  It is so full of pain and suffering, the characters are engulfed by an air of despondency that you can almost feel it yourself.  What Amanda and Sarah go through is quite simply unimaginable and as the reader you go through the gamut of emotions with them.  But hope is forever making its presence felt, even at the darkest of times, the feeling of hope is there and you cling to that hope, just like the characters in the book do.

I never lost hope that Sarah would be found.  I never lost hope that Amanda would wake up to her abusive husband.  Those two points really drive the story forward.  About halfway through we are hit with a massive plot twist that literally floors you.  I kept hoping it would be a dream, a cliched plot twist I know, but I am an eternal optimist.  What happens is so awful you are literally forced to feel the emotions Amanda feels, and this hits you hard because you probably don’t see it coming.

A very powerful and heart-wrenching story that you just want to continue reading.  The author deals with the contentious issues beautifully, and I believe that is because she doesn’t get too graphic in her detailing of these situations.  This book will definitely make you stop and think.  This book will definitely leave you emotionally drained, mostly because you become so invested in the story that you feel the pain and grief and suffering along with the characters.

I highly recommended this book.  A five star read  *****

Pagan Portals: Moon Magic by Rachel Patterson.

This lovely book is ideal for anyone wanting to focus on working with the moon.  It is jam-packed with ideas for rituals, meditations and other moon related activities.  Each chapter has enough information for the novice through to the more experienced practitioner and the author suggests adding your own spin on everything too.

The book only has 112 pages, but it has no need to be on the lengthy side as what it contains is more than enough for anyone to get serious about working with the moon.  The chapters cover Esbats, the phases of the moon, seasonal aspects, the Celtic Tree Calendar, moon deities and much, much more.  The instructions are clear and concise, and, as already mentioned, there is plenty of scope for you to add your own twist to any of the suggestions included.

I was really impressed at the sheer volume of information contained in this book, quite often the material is repetitive in something this short, but that wasn’t the case here.

Well worth a read for anyone interested in this subject.

Highly Recommended.

5 stars *****

My Soul Is Wherever You Are.

The title of this book suggests a romantic read.  The reality of this book is a murder/mystery.  It’s a very short read but boy, the author packs so much adventure and intrigue into the book that you don’t really feel cheated by it not being longer.

The story moves back and forth between the end of World War 2, to 1963 and to Easter 2011.  It can be a little confusing at times but I found re-reading the opening lines or the end of the previous chapter brought me back up to speed without any difficulty.  the story centres around certain individuals in the tale and leads up to the revelation of the killer of Moresco, his death is what starts the story off.

It has been translated into English and sometimes this interrupts the flow of the narrative, this is what has happened here.  don’t get me wrong, you can easily understand the story but I feel it has lost some of its natural flow in the translation.  All in all a pleasant short read.

3 stars ***

Review of Voices Of The Sacred Feminine.

  

This book consists of many different stories, points of view and interviews that the editor has conducted on her radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine. The book brings us tales of struggles throughout the world, the struggles that women face everyday. These voices share their knowledge and wisdom on how they are trying to make a difference in this world. There are so many different points of view, too many to list here, you are sure to find something that resonates within you.
The book looks beyond God, the Christian God, and instead explores the role of the Goddess. There is a wealth of mythological stories, as well as tales of finding oneself and overcoming periods of struggle.
The book is quite lengthy, 409 pages, and is broken down into four parts. You won’t get through this in one go, but the book isn’t designed for that. For me, I felt it was the type of book one would dip into when searching for inspiration, and there is plenty of that in this book.
I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who is looking for something beyond the usual self help offering.
5 stars *****

Review of My Townie Heart.

My Townie Heart is set in Massachusetts in the 1970’s.  It centres around Laura DiStefano and her life within the family she loves but seems to want to escape.  We first meet Laura as she is coming back home after flunking University.  She feels ashamed and feels she has let her dream go to waste.  As the book gets going we learn that Laura’s sister Jane was sexually assaulted and raped as a child by a local boy, Tommy.  This attack has a huge bearing on the family and their future and Laura makes references to it throughout the book.

Upon her return home she finds a job at a local Greek cafe and finds herself a boyfriend, Kevin.  She misses her old life, the one she had carved out for herself at University, her friends – especially Gail – and she views her job at the cafe and her involvement with Kevin as temporary.  She has no desire to settle into a life in Springfield but is doing very little about escaping that life.

Laura and Jane have a close relationship, although as a survivor of such an attack Jane is portrayed as brash and a sort of misfit.  I’m not sure if that is the way I would want to see a rape survivor portrayed, as a misfit – maybe small town mentality is to blame? – but the feisty character trait and glimpses of self destructive behaviour certainly ring true.  Jane is pregnant but at first she is hiding it from her parents, or so she believes.  The relationship both girls have with their parents is strained at best, but once Jane gives birth that all changes.  They seem to become more like a family again, something that has been missing ever since Jane was attacked when she was five years old.

Laura’s relationship with Kevin is complicated, by her behaviour and thoughts.  He clearly loves her but she shies away from her feelings towards him at first.  On one of her visits back to the University to visit Gail, the friend she made whilst there, she comes face to face with the boy who broke her heart at Uni and this leads her to recklessly fall into bed with a local drug dealer.  She regrets this action but decides to keep it to herself, not wanting to come clean to Kevin about her behaviour.

Eventually Kevin finds out about her one night stand and they split up.  The break up affects her more than she cares to admit  but as usual she buries her feelings and tries to act like nothing is wrong.  After a few months she bumps into Kevin and they agree to talk, but he can’t see her right then as his mother is in the hospital and he needs to help out at home.  He agrees to collect her from work the next day and Laura finds that she is really looking forward to it.  The next day Tommy, who has been back in town a while, comes into the cafe.  Jane is also at the cafe with Tabitha, her baby, and her friend Kimmy.  Tommy and his friend cause a scene and Ari, the cafe owner, asks them to leave.  Ari is pushed to the ground and then Tommy sees Jane.  A strange sort of conversation is started up between the two of them, but Jane is insulting Tommy.  He then says something about Tabitha and Jane seems to flip, she stabs him in the chest and Laura is convinced she’s killed him.  Laura faints and when she comes round the police have arrived, along with Kevin.  Tommy isn’t dead but Laura feels different.  Panic sets in after this latest incident and she eventually becomes agoraphobic.  She sinks into a depression and won’t leave the house at all.  One night she argues with Jane, who has been out drinking, and Jane tells her to leave.  Without thinking Laura goes to pack a few things and leaves, heading for New Mexico, where one of Gail’s friend’s lives.

It is in New Mexico where she sorts herself out; going back to school to get the right qualifications to become a lawyer and starting to live the kind of life she wants.  She keeps in touch with Kevin, although he is angry with her at first for just taking off.  The story ends with Kevin’s alcoholic father dying and Kevin deciding to join her in New Mexico.

There were aspects of this book I loved and aspects I hated.  I hated the drug use Laura, Jane and Laura’s friends were so hooked on.  But that drug use is an integral part of the story so I totally understand why it is there.  I hated how Jane was portrayed as a misfit just because she was a victim of rape.  I have put that down to the small town mentality and the era, I’m not sure if that is what the author intended.  I loved Jane.  Having gone through what she did – although not at the same age as her – I could understand what she felt.  I loved how the effect of the attack was shown from the family’s point of view.  I loved how Sonya, (Gail’s friend), felt it necessary to share her own rape story and not let herself be defined as a victim, or be ashamed of herself.  I wanted to throttle Laura when she wouldn’t open up to Kevin about her feelings towards the future.

I think this is a powerful story and not just because of the attack on Jane.  I think Laura is typical of many people her age, especially when it comes to knowing what they want to do with their future.  That was true back in the 70’s and it is still true today.  The story was very much about Laura exploring her options, wrestling with her own demons and feeling responsible for what had happened to Jane.  Some of the content is a little graphic and at times the story is very dark, but it is a brilliant read and I highly recommend it.

5 stars *****