Review – A Guide To Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City

A Guide To Bars And Nightlife
In The Sacred City

Author: Benjamin Wachs
Strange Castle Press
2014
ISBN #978-0-9793270-7-0

cover A Guide To Bars

Who is Benjamin Wachs? To appreciate this work, we need to know this. He is a bar columnist for the San Francisco Weekly, his work has been published in Village Voice Media, and on National Public Radio, he has lived in a Buddhist monastery in India, been a freelance reporter for Playboy.com, and traveled around the world.

What exactly is the Sacred City? Is it San Francisco? Is it London? Is it New Delhi? Think bigger. Wachs talks about cities as pulsing with rough love. And that if we tape enough heartfelt wishes on streetlights, and leave enough dreams on the curb, anything can happen. The energy that connects miraculous Thai food in London to a faith healing in San Francisco, to a lost opera in Vienna forms the web of the Sacred City.

Hard to believe this is his first collection of fiction. Wachs is a story-teller extraordinaire, fashioning mystical, surreal stories that start where they start and stop where they stop. The cover of this book is literally the gateway to the stories within. The lovely clear globe shows a representation of “city” energy, with the eyes above it that are looking out at the reader, challenging them to read the stories, to walk through the gateway and be part of the action.

The action is all about people, and what makes them tick. This is a work of fiction, a work filled with stories from the dark side of soul. It draws us in, it shows us the little pieces of this and that that make up the dark side of life.

The drink glass on the cover is there for a reason – the stories largely take place in bars, where alcohol has its place, but is only part of the story. Alcohol is its own gateway into the otherworld of soul.

You can read this book straight through … or you may find yourself reading a story two or three times, and then moving on. Read at the pace that represents you – the time that you spend in the mystical, surreal world of this book is time well spent. An alternate universe, if you will.

Wachs is a storyteller, a well-educated storyteller whose opinions you will want to hear. The work is fiction … but any or all of these places could be real.

“The High Prices In Venice” talks about a prostitute who will not stay the night. She keeps coming back because “she met the main character on her birthday”. “The Napkins of Zurich” describes a meeting that may or may not have taken place between theologian Albrecht Berringer and mathematician Marcus Sloan. My favorite story, “To Look Inside”, talks about an employee who is learning from her employer, who really wants to learn, but has no clue what she will be learning.

This is a book that you will read, and reread, simply for the pleasure.

© 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without the written permission of the author.

Review – Clarity Is Power – The 5 Steps to Creating Empowering Goals that will Excite and Inspire You

Clarity Is Power –
The 5 Steps to Creating Empowering Goals
that will Excite and Inspire You

Author: Gary Karp
Independently Published
2014
ISBN # 978-1500785055

Clarity

“Clarity Is Power” is a brief (88 page) book that packs a wallop! Author Gary Karp has undergone more adversity in his lifetime than anyone should have to bear … both mental and physical adversity. Each time he came back a stronger person, and achieved his goals. Why was that? Because he was able to focus, devise a plan of action, implement that plan, and move forward.

The five steps that Karp’s system involves are:

1. Gain clarity on your goals.
2. Gain leverage on your goals.
3. Explore your resources.
4. Create an action plan.
5. Review your actions to see if it is working.

I was very impressed that this book was written in the format of a workshop. Karp includes personal anecdotes, quotes, and references to successful people in the public eye – people we can relate to. He retains a nice balance between humor and seriousness, and asks us to hold ourselves responsible to ourselves. I love that he asks people to keep a success journal, and that he notes that while anything can be used as a journal, that a higher quality journal (such as a leather journal)

Written in the style of a workbook, with questions at the end of each chapter, “Clarity Is Power” teaches us that the most important person to question is ourselves. And what are the questions that we ask? Who (once you achieve your goal, who do you share it with), Where (where do you go to achieve your goal), When (placing a deadline on achieving your goal), What (what specifically do you want), and Why (why do you want this goal).

As the reader works through each chapter, they gain clarity on who they are, what they want, and how to achieve it. All they are required to do is put in the work.

© 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without the written consent of the author.

Review – The Burning Serpent Oracle

The Burning Serpent Oracle

Author: Rachel Pollack
Artist: Robert M. Place
Hermes Publications
2014
ISBN #978-0-9915299-0-2

 Burning Serpent Oracle cover

I was very eager to work with the “Burning Serpent Oracle”. Once I had it in my hands, I was impressed with both the quality of the art, and the depth of the text. One would expect no less from luminaries Robert M. Place and Rachel Pollack!

I did the scans for this review immediately. Then the book and deck sat on my desk … and sat on my desk … and sat on my desk. Lenormand style oracles are something that I am not quite used to. I don’t use them in readings for others, and do not use them to expand readings from other oracles. When I read with them (and I do), I do so for very specific reasons. I other words, I don’t use them for “What do I need to know?” type readings.

“The Burning Serpent Oracle” consists of a 40 card deck and a 258 page companion book. (There are four cards added to the traditional 36 card deck – two versions of The Man (card 28) and The Woman (card 29), looking in the opposite direction of the traditional versions, with two bonus cards – Osiris (number 37), and Isis (number 38). I a very special manner, cards 37 and 38 reference the higher self of The Man and The Woman.

Pollack begins her introduction by noting that this is a book about meanings, very specific meanings, based on the 19th century Lenormand tradition. Based on, but not limited to. There is a deeper spiritual dimension to this deck, allowing the reader to access their own personal visionary interpretations. Something that I found interesting was that the cards, while named for a 19th century fortune teller, were actually not published until after her death. I really appreciate that Pollack places emphasis on how the images speak to each other, their ability to form (tell) a story, and how our lives are revealed through these stories. Pollack brings a world of experience to the interpretation of these cards. Melded together are personal stories, pertinent historical information, cultural and spiritual references. How interesting that the Lenormand tradition started out as a game, and evolved into a divinatory tool!

Each card is presented with a full page black and white image, keywords, positive and negative meanings for the card, a discussion of the imagery, and how to interpret the card (the direct meaning, the basic meaning expanded and explored, the larger context, and the potential mystical meaning.

At the end of the book is a section on doing readings, including getting to know the cards, formatting questions, and using both small and large spreads. Sample readings include a five card reading on choosing a house, a seven card reading about death, and instructions on the nine card square technique and a ten card spread. The format for the Grand Tableau (using all of the cards) is also included.

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The cards themselves are 2 ¾” by 4 ¼”. The back show a ¼” white border, surrounding the image of Hermes. The card faces show the same ¼” white border, surrounding images that are bordered in brown. In the upper right hand corner of the card is the card number, in the upper left hand corner is the corresponding playing card (i.e. The Dead Tree is card number 8, and is associated with the Nine of Diamonds (9D) ). The card title runs across the top of the card, in black lettering in the center. The styling of the images is drawn simply and clearly, with nice depth of color.

The images in this deck are all about everyday things in our everyday life – clouds, a bouquet, a fox, a bear, mice, a gold ring. They are also about things like a flaming tree, a burning serpent, and a book of life. he meanings in the Lenormand tradition are highly specific (the reader is not encouraged to add their own interpretations) – their reflect daily life with great clarity.

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Hermes The Messenger (card number 1, associated with the Nine of Hearts), shows a man on a winged horse. He is wearing a helmet with wings, and carries a caduceus in his left hand.  Keywords are messages, something brought, a visit, someone arriving or entering your life, speed, and moving.

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The Voyage (card number 3, associated with the Ten of Swords), shows a sailing ship on the high seas. Keywords are good fortune, usually from commerce, possible inheritance, travel, and renewal.

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The Book of Life (card number 26, associated with the Ten of Diamonds), shows an open book on a pedestal, with a lit candle behind it. A wreath surrounds the pedestal. Keywords are secrets, whether concealed or revealed, destiny, “what is written”, knowledge, and education.

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The Burning Serpent (card number 7, associated with the Queen of Cups), shows a serpent, rising from what looks like a tower, surrounded by flames. The keywords are enemy, betrayal, danger, a smart, possible manipulative woman, spiritual transformation, rebirth or restoration, ancient wisdom, intuition.

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The House on the Hill (card number 4, associated with the King of Hearts), shows a quiet, landscaped house. The keywords are happy prosperous home, community, security, and sense of self.

Whether you choose to use this oracle to read for others, or to read only for yourself, it is well worth the investment. We are gifted with the superb artistic and intellectual talents of both Place and Pollack, and we need to make the best of this gift!

 © 2014 Bonnie Cehovet

Review – Celestial Goddesses

Celestial Goddesses –
An Illustrated Meditation Guide

Author: Lisa Hunt
Artist: Lisa Hunt
Llewellyn Worldwide
2001
ISBN #0-7387-0118-1

Celestial Goddesses cover
What an incredible book, and what incredible timing! I was blessed in being able to take part in an offer that Lisa put up for a combination of this book and a personalized Goddess drawing. I have a lovely drawing (my second from Lisa!), and an incredibly useful guide to Goddess meditation.

Things often come to us in strange ways. The timing was so right for this, as an online acquaintance is doing a series of webinar interviews on goddess/priestess work, as well as bringing up a companion site. I have several Goddess Tarot and Oracle decks, and am moving into a personal space where they are becoming more and more important.

“Celestial Goddesses” is a 122 page, full color book dedicated to meditating on the celestial Goddesses. Included are Amaterasu, Arianrhod, Artemis, Chang-O, Coyolxauhqui, Hina, Inanna, Isis, Luonnotar, Mama Quilla, Mawu, Nut, Pana, Saule, Selene, Tara, Unelanuhi, Ushas, White Shell Woman, and Wuriupranili. Goddesses from diverse cultures that offer a variety of perspectives on life.

In her bio, Lisa notes that this book is a culmination of many years of meticulous research, and that it reflects her personal interest in goddesses. The painting for this book were executed using transparent watercolors on 100% rag hot press watercolor paper.

In her preface, Lisa talks about growing up “with her head in the clouds”, and that as she began to recognize the goddess in her manifold forms and guises, that she began to celebrate her own femininity through the creative processes of writing and painting. Over time she gravitated to the goddesses associated with the heavens. Through this she connected with her own inner being, and began to see that the divine energies circulating in the cosmos reflected the divine feminine in all of us.

In her introduction, Lisa notes that the power of the divine feminine is part of our past, our present, and our future. She also notes that the transformative powers of the goddess are part of our daily experience of life. The more we allow ourselves to experience the goddess energy, the more heightened our senses will become. For Lisa, many of the elements and symbols in these paintings represent the merging of our conscious and unconscious selves.

I am impressed with the diversity of Goddesses. Lisa notes that when we consider information from complementary disciplines, we spiritually, as well as intellectually. She also notes that we need the Goddess to be part of our conscious being as we move forward in life.

In the section on how to use this book, Lisa notes that meditation helps us deal with the minutia of daily life. It helps us to access the pure, fluid part of our mind. This lovely space is our personal gateway to all things. In meditating, we nurture a relationship with Goddess that helps us to understand our own importance in the grand scheme of things.

Lisa talks about how to meditate, using techniques such as breathing, visualization, taking a walk (movement), doing something creative, focusing on an object, and being part of a group meditation. She advises that we let the Goddess work for us by becoming familiar with her stories, and by studying the images in this book.

Each Goddess is presented with a full page story, a full page guided meditation, a short commentary on the Goddess, and a full page color image.

Amaterasu_big

Amaterasu is one of my favorite Goddesses. She is a Japanese Goddess whose name means “Shining Heaven”. She is the Japanese Shinto Goddess responsible for cultivating the rice fields, creating irrigation canals, and teaching mortals the arts of weaving, farming silk, and cultivating food.

In her meditation, the student goes from darkness to light. The commentary reads: “By recognizing the power of your own inner beauty, you will exude an external beauty and energy that will enable you to live more happily and confidently.”

The Goddess is shown wearing a red and gold kimono, with her hair in a traditional style. She stands amongst rocks and barren trees, looking into a mirror that hangs from the tree in front of her.

At the end of the book is a selected bibliography for future study.

“Celestial Goddesses” is a well researched book that is easy to understand, and easy to work with. It is a must have for anyone wishing to do Goddess work. The images? They are full color and gorgeous!

 © 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without the written permission of the author.

Review – This House Is A Home

This House Is A Home -

A story of coal mining, family and the

Sengers of Stiritz

Author: Philip Nork

Independently Published

2014

ISBN #978-150015482-0

Product Details

That is the question for all time … “What makes a house a home?” Peter finds out when he is assigned a report for school about his ancestors. He takes quite an interesting journey with his Uncle, his Grandmother and Grandfather, his mother, and his sister to southern Illinois, where he meets his Grandfather’s siblings, and their families.

Let’s take a step back … his Grandfather, Vern, left his hometown a lifetime ago, and has not been in touch with his siblings. At the point this journey takes place, he is an old man who sits in his chair all day long, drinking and complaining. However, when faced with the prospect of seeing his siblings again, he goes out and gets a new suit, a new hat, and even begins to smile again!

Young Peter meets his Great-Aunt Maddy, who is the family historian. Through her he begins to get a very different perception of where he came from, and what influenced his Grandfather’s growing up years. His ancestors were coal miners, and faced a very harsh life. They were (and still are!) very hardworking, family oriented people. They may live poor, but they take care of themselves and those around them, and are surrounded by love and genuine caring.

This is an entrancing tale of family, and of lifestyle. We see how Peter’s ancestor’s lived, what was important to them, what their work conditions were, and so much more. I had to smile at the description of an out-house, as in my lifetime one of my ancestors had a very nice house, with running water indoors, but an out-house in place of a bathroom. We are not that far removed from this time.

Through the inclusion of one small event – a Fourth of July party given yearly by Maddy for the entire family – we all allowed a view of history and family dynamics that really is very hard to recreate. My hat is off to Mr. Nork for creating a spellbinding story!

(c) 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibited without the permission of the author. 

Review – PsychicElements.com

psychicelements.com

Psychic Elements

PsychicElements.com is a site where visitors can obtain a psychic reading.  The site has a clean look to it, with a white background, and good white space between items on the page, and clear images. Across the top of the landing page are links for Our Psychics, How It Works, Horoscope, and About Psychic Readings. Directly under that is a link for getting a reading. The main section of the page is a listing of readers (with photos), their availability status, a short bio, the subjects that each reader focuses on, the tools that they use (Tarot, Astrology, Numerology), their Abilities (empath, clairsentient …), the price per minute that they charge, and their extension number. Across the bottom of the pages are links for Customer Testimonials, How It Works, and Satisfaction Guaranteed.  Under that are links for About Us, Psychic Reading, Our Policies, signing up for a daily horoscope, and applying to work as a reader for the site.

Under the section for Our Psychics, a site visitor can Search All Psychics, find Love & Relationship Psychics,  Psychics For Life Questions, Tarot Readers, Friendly & Family Psychics, and Psychic Mediums.

Under How It Works, the site visitor will find a clear explanation of how the site works, and the two ways to get a reading (request your callback on he web, call our customer care). The exact steps for each option are listed.

Under Horoscope, the first step is to choose the type of horoscope (daily, weekly, monthly, daily lovescope, weekly lovescope, or monthly lovescope). The second step is to choose your sign. Those two steps will bring up the horoscope that you are looking for. The process is clear cut, and teh horoscopes interesting!

Under About Psychic Readings,  there is a listing of the different types of psychics, as well as the different types of psychic readings. Available psychics are listed on the right hand side of the page.

This is a very straightforward site, that is easy to maneuver through.

(c) 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibited without the written permission of the author.

Review – LunarCafe.com

LunarCafe.com

Lunar Cafe

I do not generally review Internet sites, but LunarCafe.com was brought to my attention, and I felt that it presented its subject matter very well. The first thing that impressed me was the very clean look – white background, decent spacing, and good use of images. The header across the top of the landing page takes the reader to sections on Horoscopes, Astrology, Tarot, Numerology, Fun Games, and Learning. Also included on the landing page are links to Featured Contributor (I really felt that this was a nice touch, to allow site visitors to meet the person behind the words). Astrology (Moon Sign and Chinese Roster Sign – with built in software that allows the site visitor to edit in their birth date, so they can see what applies to them), and “Learn the Latest”, with a link at the bottom of the page that allows the site visitor to browse all of the articles.

 The right hand side of the site contains a form to fill out for site visitors to be added to the horoscope and mailing list, and a tasteful ad for a free psychic reading with Psychic Elements.

The Horoscope section includes daily, weekly, and monthly general horoscopes; daily, weekly, and monthly love horoscopes; and daily, weekly, and monthly career horoscopes; and a yearly horoscope. I found both the types of horoscopes offered, and the defined time periods to be quite attractive.

The Astrology section includes Zodiac Sign, Moon Sign, Chinese Zodiac Sign, and links to astrology related articles.

The section on Tarot includes a brief introduction to Tarot, with links to specific Tarot topics; Tarot card meanings, and links to Tarot related articles.

The section on Numerology includes Your Name & Numerology, and Your Life Path Number. There is software provided so that site visitors can input their personal information, and find out what their numbers are.

Under the “Fun Games” section we see “Are you a psychic?”, which is a game of prediction using the Zener cards, and  a free (automated) three card Tarot reading, using the Tarot of Marseille. I enjoyed playing in both of these sections, and loved the music that played while doing the Tarot reading!

Under the “Learn” section the site visitor will find Articles that can be accessed by category (Astrology, Horoscope,Tarot).  The Astrology category holds the most articles, with the Horoscope and Tarot sections still in the beginning stages.

I really liked this site … it was clear, concise, and easy to navigate. I could look for a specific piece of information, or I could go to the game section and amuse myself for as long as I wanted to. Well worth checking out!

(c) 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

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