Book review: “The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels” by Laura Tempest Zakroff
Anytime anyone thinks about witches, that person is most likely to focus on three very symbolic tools: The broom to fly, the book of spells and the cauldron for potions. Those may be used in fiction, but as for real witches, they all have a place in the altar and even house, and the most iconic is the third one.
I’ve been been found in ‘witchy readings’ as it is almost impossible for me to get any because of very personal reasons. However, and since I know there are certain things only book can teach, I decided that “The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels ” by Laura Tempest Zakroff, could be a good option to start with, and man how right I was.
Published on May 8th, with Llewellyn Publications, the author offers an interesting and integral look into what cauldrons really represent into the witch’s world and daily life, explores the different stories, myths around it, and even the uses it can have, many of them pretty innovative.
If anyone asks me, I consider the section on the different types of cauldrons, their materials, correspondences, advantages and disadvantages, was the juiciest, which, by the way, helped me to discover the perfect option to work with; I’m sure every reader will be able to do the same.
Also, there’s a generally accepted idea that cauldrons are feminine by nature, they are directly connected with the female side of the divinity. Tempest Zakroff takes this idea and buries it ten feet underground, demonstrating that the male divine has also an influence in the sacred vessel. This is just an example on how “The Witch’s Cauldron” makes us rediscover its real nature.
As with almost all of the other books, we will find a few spells, rituals and uses for it at the end of the text, along with a complete and very useful list of references and suggested readings, but this ones, after the long documentations and learning provided in the previous chapters, become more significant and with a sense of higher power.
What impressed me for real is that I expected this to be a heavy and complicated reading, hard to follow, filled with a substance and material, but it turned out to be the whole opposite, in the good way. The author is more than able to use a simple language, a great dose of humor and a light style, making it simple, easy and even funny to read.
I’m sure it was because of this that it took me less than a week to finish it, around three or four days, and we’re speaking about an almost 300 pages long book, taking as a reference the expected print edition and its comic-style cover; I prefer the ebook for this, as it is more mysterious, but all you can feel free to disagree with me.
As a reader, I prefer to take my time and absorb as much as I can in different sittings; good things take their own time and learning is one of the best ones. However, Laura Tempest Zakroff doesn’t respect this; she seems to grab your eyes with her own hands and glue them to her creation for as long as they can handle, turning you into an addict.
Taking a few steps back, the book layout and the inner illustration should be praised just as the content. I never expected them to come on the inside, and must admit that that was a nice touch: to summarize with the drawing what the text explained.
The quality and aesthetic presented are nothing to be amazed about, it is not that remarkable, and, personally, would have preferred to see a more elaborated style, maybe some photographs that matched the cover for digital editions, but still conserve the merit, nonetheless and goes well with the comic-cover for the print edition.
We could also describe this as a great introductory book on the subject; since it didn’t bother at all, the content is easily understandable and entertaining, but it also prompts you to develop an interest to investigate beyond this single reading, and even gives high quality information for your Book of Shadows or Grimoire, depending on the path you follow.
And even if you’re not into magic, or even religion, this represents a great source of inspiration for artistic concepts to work with. We artists are always searching for something that makes the muses sing into our ears again. If this is your case, there are many catalysts inside waiting for you to be discovered, developed and used.
I cannot finish this review without thanking the publishers for allowing me to read this book. Needless to say that I’m eager for something more from the author, topic and the same witchy vein if it comes from them.
The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels
Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (May 8, 2017)
Publication Date: May 8, 2017
About the author:
A practicing Modern Traditional Witch for over 20 years, her early days were defined by being a community leader and public spokesperson for Paganism. Laura was the Associate Editor of Crescent Magazine, A Pagan Publication of Art, Philosophy, and Belief from 1998-2004, founder of the Cauldron of Annwyn Pagan Society in New England, and the youngest attendee of the Pagan Leaders Summit in Bloomington, IN in 2001. After nearly a decade-long hiatus from being publicly active, Laura began to get involved again in 2014 – and now can be found teaching, performing, and participating at numerous events and festivals all over.
About the reviewer:
Alan D.D. is a writer, blogger and alternative journalist. He has worked with specialized publications on entertainment, comics, witchcraft, Gothic subculture and any other topic that he discovers on the Internet and finds interesting. You can visit him on his personal, bilingual blog: https://tintanocturna.blogspot.com/
For many individuals, says author and spiritual medium Nancy Smith, life is so overwhelming that they often forget why they are here and why they were even born. What’s more, many people develop resistance, anxieties, and fears that keep them from living rich, loving, fulfilled lives.
In her award-winning book Divine Love Affair: An Akashic Journey, Smith offers a guide for building a spiritual practice to live what she calls “your Soul’s dream.” She explains, “Your Soul created a plan for you before you were born. This plan includes adventures, relationships, learning, exploring, and growing. Most of all, your Soul wants you to experience Divine Love in your life.”
Divided into three sections, Divine Love Affair: An Akashic Journey uses meditations, visualizations, and exercises to teach readers to navigate their Akashic journeys and access their unconscious selves and the Akashic field of unconditional love that connects them to their Souls. The resulting self-discovery, explains Smith, leads to lifestyle changes that culminate in joy and fulfillment, reawakened love, and healing and spiritual awakening.
Divine Love Affair: An Akashic Journey is the recipient of the Nautilus Silver Medal.
Smith comments, “This book is meant to help people develop empowering spiritual tools and connect to their hearts and souls so that they can feel excited about life and know they are surrounded by Divine Love.”
“Practical wisdom that shows you how to connect deeply to your soul. Following the step-by-step guidance, you will dramatically shift into richer, loving relationships with yourself and the Divine Love you are created from.” ~ Robbie Holz, Award-Winning Co-Author of Secrets of Aboriginal Healing and Aboriginal Secrets of Awakening
About the author:
Nancy Smith has been working in the Akashic Records with spirit for over 15 years. She has developed and teaches a program called the Akashic Journey to Soul Mastery, a series of classes about the higher energy of the Akasha that holds the mystery of the Soul. Nancy is also a trained Spiritual Medium who teaches and speaks in groups and private sessions all around the country.
Divine Love Affair: An Akashic Journey; Author: Nancy Smith; Category: Body, Mind, Spirit, Inspiration, Self Help, Personal Growth, Meditation; Soft Cover: 978-0990609056, $15.95; eBook: 978-0990609070, $5.99; Availability: Amazon.com, Baker & Taylor, Ingram, Brodart Books, New Leaf Distribution
Review by Alan D. D.
Although it seemed to be exciting and that I would be learning more about the topic with a book for newcomers, reading “Mediumship Scrying & Transfiguration for Beginners: A Guide to Spirit Communication (Llewellyn for Beginners),” by Diana Palm, turned out to be a bitter experience that I most likely will not want to repeat in the near future.
This serves as a good example of what may result if the author doesn’t read often, something that becomes obvious at first sight. It became harder with each chapter to see the same words and ideas be repeated over a over, paragraph after paragraph, not leaving anything more that irritation to the reader.
“Mediumship Scrying & Transfiguration for Beginners” seems to be one of those metaphysical texts that want you to feel happy, cheerful, positive and shiny all the time, and even try to put this as a funny practice. Don’t get me wrong, of course it is funny (sometimes) to speak to the dead, but the tone used by the author is simply cloying, as if she was speaking about a children party.
Despite there are some useful tips here and there, which I’ll be putting into practice very soon, Palm just filled almost the entire set of pages with her stories, experiences, family reunions, how someone teached her something, how that spirit showed her a different approach for a more successful scrying sesión, as if she tried to prove herself as a real medium.
Another thing that bothered me was the fact that she mixed so many times mediumship with healing. I can understand that this can be one of the goals for the médium and perhaps is the most common reason for someone who has interest in the area, but due to the title of the book, this is not what I expected at all. Serves the purpose if Healing Mediumship is a topic you want to explore and learn about, but don’t let the title lie to you.
I must admit, to be fair with this book, that some of the stories were entertaining and made me see things under a different point of view. There are some ideas that I never thought would be taken as serious, real facts. Palm certainly teached me to keep an open and flexible mind when it comes to spirituality.
One cannot expect things to happen the way we’re used to, that’s understandable, but the problem here is that she tires the reader with so many anecdotes at the point of making them skip her stories entirely, waiting for the real information to appear in the next page, or even the next chapter.
It surprised me to see a brief introduction on different forms of divination, particularly those using the four elements, as those are topics I haven’t seen explored in different books. Putting aside the style, those were the most juicy pages in the book, filled with useful content and interesting information that could help the reader to develop and learn more about the topics, to explore an alternative to the well known method of directly asking the spirits for an answer.
Palm also offers different prayer and exercises, more intended for spiritual people than Pagans, that’s a fact, but that serves as draft and examples to elaborate our own words and methods while cleaning, blessing and scrying. It could turn to be bothering for experimented people, but those who haven’t explored the practice that much will find many helpful tips to get started with.
However, I would also like to give an advise: Do not keep doing the same thing. Despite this is an introductory volume, the lack of real content may be alarming, as it looks more like a one-person anthology than a manual. There’s a serious approach in many subjects, but keep researching and finding different authors.
Finally, I will say that although Palm almost drove me crazy about how simple things can be and should always be, she made the point perfectly clear: There’s no need to use or create over elaborated techniques or rituals in order to speak with our loved ones, or any other kind of spirit. We tend to think that the more we do and prepare, the more effective everything will be, but things do not necessarily work that way on the spiritual plane.
She gives many examples, that’s for sure, about how just a few words and a clear intention are more than enough to correctly start a séance, and that it’s important to try to learn more about the process while you practice, try to do something different but correct each time in order to discover our own way. Points in here for the author.
I won’t say I will not read any other book from Diana Palm ever, we all know we should never say never, so I’ll keep the door open, just a little bit, in case there’s something else she has to tell, although the next time I will probably not be as thrilled as I was with this first book. Regular book, but nothing else.
Many thanks to the editor for providing me with an ARC of this book. I tried to be as sincere and objective as possible, and hopefully, this will help the readers know if they should read this book.
About the reviewer:
Alan D.D. is a writer, blogger and alternative journalist. He has worked with specialized publications on entertainment, comics, witchcraft, Gothic subculture and any other topic that he discovers on the Internet and finds interesting. You can visit him on his personal, bilingual blog: https://tintanocturna.
Embracing Your Life After 50 to Find Fulfillment, Purpose, and Joy
By Andrea Brandt, PhD, MFT
“There is no magical age at which we need to abandon our dreams and surrender our possibilities,” says renowned psychologist Dr. Andrea Brandt. So, as you think about growing older — which we all do, if we’re lucky — ask yourself:
- Am I really prepared to grow older?
- How can I make the most of what life still has to offer?
- How do I overcome the negative feelings and fears I have over getting older?
- What changes can I make in my life right now to lead a more meaningful life as I age?
In Mindful Aging: Embracing Your Life After 50 to Find Fulfillment, Purpose, and Joy [PESI Publishing, October 10, 2017], Dr. Brandt delivers the answers to these questions and challenges readers to throw out old stereotypes about aging, look at inspiring new evidence, and open ourselves to the very real possibilities that exist for us right now.
“Giving up a salaried occupation – if that’s what we choose – doesn’t mean giving up purposeful interaction with the world around us. Rather than take feelings of exhaustion and boredom to mean we need to retire, might these negative attitudes be more likely to indicate the need to reinvent ourselves, to explore new territory that brings us back to life and develops the skills we need to flourish there?”
With thought provoking real world stories and examples, Dr. Brandt challenges men and women to rethink aging. In Mindful Aging, Dr. Brandt:
- Identifies cultural and societal connotations about aging and how – and why – we need to rethink them
- Offers specific key ways to increase your happiness as you get older
- Enlightens readers on the role of mindfulness in creating positive change
- Examines the need for creating a vision for life after 50, and how to deal with fear, loss, and resistance along the way
- Outlines the fundamentals for a healthy, happy post-middle age – from relationships and wellness to mental health, spirituality and more
- Describes how to let go of feelings and experiences that no longer serve you from your past
- And so much more!
“That we age is inevitable. How we age is largely up to us,” Dr. Brandt adds. “As the last of the Baby Boomers have now turned 50 and another 10,000 of their generation retire each day, a huge number of Americans find themselves confronted with the changes and challenges that come with older age and with the reality of finite life. I wanted to offer a beacon of renewal on steady shore for those who temporarily feel lost at sea.”
Andrea Brandt, PhD, MFT, has over 35 years of clinical experience as a renowned psychotherapist, speaker, and author. In her work, Dr. Brandt reveals positive paths to emotional health that teach you how to reinvent and empower yourself. She emphasizes the mind-body-heart connection as a key to mental, physical, and emotional wellness.
A featured media expert, Dr. Brandt has appeared on numerous television programs, radio shows, and podcasts. She is a contributor to Psychology Today and has written blog posts for The Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, Psych Central, and more. Long recognized as a pioneer in the field of treating anger issues, Dr. Brandt is the author of 8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness, Mindful Anger: A Pathway to Emotional Freedom and her newest book, Mindful Aging: Embracing Your Life After 50 to Find Fulfillment, Purpose, and Joy.