Review – The Sacred Mandala Oracle

The Sacred Mandala Lenormand Oracle

 Author: Heather Mendel
Artist: Heather Mendel
Independently Published
2014

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For someone that does not really read the Lenormand, I seem to be collecting a lot of them! Lovely things end up in my mail box, including the Sacred Mandala Lenormand Oracle! I loved Heather’s earlier work (the Sygyzy Oracle), and fell in love with the Sacred Mandala Lenormand Oracle as soon as I had it in my hands. I also want to thank Heather for including me in here dedication to this deck – I find myself in awesome company!

This is a 36 card deck based on the Lenormand tradition. It allows the reader to look beneath the obvious, and see the concealed in the synchronous patterns of possibility surrounding them. Here we see how interconnected our reality really is! The deck comes with a 15 page companion book (a more extensive, color illustrated version can be downloaded from her website).

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The cards are 2 ¾” by 4 ¾”. The backs show a black background, with narrow colored lines inset ½”, and a second set of inset colored lines surrounding a central mandala, which is also in color. The card faces show a black background, with a fine white lined border inset ½”. The card number is in white at the top, with a playing card suit icon on the bottom, with the corresponding card. There is a beautiful mandala on the top half of the card, with a line drawing of the object representing the card on the bottom half.

 One of the reasons that I am so drawn to the Sygyzy Oracle, and to the Sacred Mandala Lenormand Oracle, is Heather’s work with the sacred feminine. She encourages us to use our intuition as a reliable source of information. Too often I find that individuals are aware of their intuitive thoughts, but then choose to second guess them. In her introduction, Heather talks about the Lenormand as offering an “instant, panoramic snapshot of the rippling circumstances in which we are enmeshed, constantly unfurling as we create our own futures”.

We are encouraged to become familiar with each card number, its assigned symbol, and its playing card association. Charts are included in the companion book for the card number and symbol, and for the playing card suit and number association.

Heather is a very gracious lady, and includes references to videos and other material done by others that will help individuals to learn how to read the Lenormand style with ease. She also encourages us to “practice, practice, practice”!

Under “vocabulary”, Heather lists the card numbers, symbol, playing card association, and keywords. For example, card number one has a rider as a symbol, is associated with the 9 of Hearts, and has the keywords arrival/news.

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Card number 3 shows the symbol of a ship. It is associated with the 10 of Spades, and carries the keywords travel/foreign connection. The mandala is done in a beautiful pink and green.

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Card number 6 shows the symbol of clouds, with the sun peeking out from behind them. It is associated with the King of Clubs, and carries the keywords uncertainty/confusion/ambiguity. The mandala shows a pink center, surrounded by green.

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Card number 26 shows the symbol of a closed book. It is associated with the 10 of Diamonds, and carries the keywords mystery/secret/learning/study/education. The mandala is a beautiful pink pattern.

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Card number 30 shows he symbol of a lily. It is associated with the King of Spades, and carries the keywords wisdom/maturity/support/elder/healing.

I truly enjoy working with this simple, yet profound deck, and I think that you will too!

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

Review – Colors

Colors

Author: Jack Frerker
Artist: Gary Bilodeaux
PAX Publications
2014

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I have followed Father Frerker’s work for some time now – I thoroughly enjoy his Father John Wintermann mystery series, and was very much looking forward to this book. Our world is literally colored by color, on so many different levels. That the focus is on children (including the child within) to me seems so appropriate!

The colors in presented in this book are blue, orange, yellow, green, pink, puce, mauve, red, brown, violet, polka dot, black, gray, white, and lavender. There is a short text commentary on each color, as well as a lovely full color drawing. The color blue shows a robin’s nest with blue eggs, and a young boy blowing blue bubbles. The color orange shows an orange cat, carrots, and the sun. The color yellow shows a lemon pie, a banana, and a glass of lemonade. The color pink shows a young girl with a pink balloon, pink cotton candy, and a pink pig.

The tone of the book is very vibrant and upbeat – a wonderful book to share with young children, and with the young at heart. From the book, on the color blue: “Blue is for eyes, as well as for skies. But blue can mean (for feelings) sad, or (for words) bad. Robins’ eggs are a beautiful light blue – but I’m not sure why. Still, when I see one in a nest, I feel glad.”

What an excellent book to put on your holiday gift list! You can find it here – “Colors”. 

© 2000-2014 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

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

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“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

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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

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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.

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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.