Review: Ordinary Mystic – Practicing the Presence

Ordinary Mystic
Practicing the Presence

Author: Curran Galway
Balboa Press
2016
ISBN #978-1-5043-4952-9

Ordinary Mystic cover

The primary character in this novel is thirty-five year old Bridget McGuire. She is in a dysfunctional marriage, tied to the day to day care of three children under the age of five. She felt invisible until she went on one of a series of retreats in the Santa Cruz mountains of California, which is where she fell in love with God.

The premise of the novel is that Bridget McGuire is an ordinary mystic, feeling the need to tell her story to others, so that she could awaken other mystics. I have a problem right here, with individuals who call themselves mystics. Yes, Bridget calls herself an ordinary mystic (i.e. someone functioning in the ordinary, physical who has mystical experiences). While this does not take away from the story itself, it does clash with my beliefs, and whoever reads this review should know this. I certainly believe in mystical experiences, I just have difficulty with people identifying as mystics.

The backbone of this story is about how Bridget struggles to integrate the extraordinary into the ordinary in her life. With not enough time in the day, she manages to start each day in meditation, reaching out to form a connection with God. She tries to carry that energy with her throughout the day.

Bridget is a stay at home mom, with a marriage that is unraveling, and a husband who has issues with alcohol. She is disconnected from her biological family, which is fairly dysfunctional stemming from issues within both of her parents. Her husband’s family is also dysfunctional, with the added issue of alcohol problems. The dysfunction within both families is what led to Bridget and her husband marrying at an early age – for both of them it was an escape from difficult home environments.

At the retreat, which Bridget returns to several times, she begins to fall in love with the priest that is doing the teaching. (Bridget and her husband were both brought up in the Catholic faith. The retreat is a Catholic retreat.) Through her discussions with this priest (Father Christian Mann), Bridget begins to see a bigger, clearer picture of life.  She finds, to her shock, that Father Mann is questioning his faith. (In his fifties, Father Mann has served the church since he was very young.)

Bridget builds a picture in her mind of forming a life with Father Mann, as she sees her life with her husband disintegrating. There are good times, and difficult times, as Bridget comes to realize that Father Mann has more issues than just the questioning of his faith.

An important thing to remember here is the time in which this story takes place – the 1980’s. If we remember this, we can keep a clear perspective on the issues within both families, and the issues within the church. The issues within both families revolve around strong, autocratic fathers who see themselves in charge of everything within the family, and the final word on everything. The issues within the church revolve around whether priests should be allowed to marry, on alcoholism within the priesthood, and the church’s views on the place of women.

The writing in this book is fluid, and the story flows. There are high emotions across the scale that grab the reader and hold them riveted to the story. The characters are well defined, and stay true to themselves. It is of note that this fictional story is based on Curran Galway’s true life story.

I found this book to be important because it made the lives of the characters seem real. The decisions that Bridget McGuire had to make were a logical progression of where her life was heading. I found a bit of discrepancy in some of Bridget’s actions, based on her financial foundation, but the life story held strong. Readers who have had mystical experiences, but have not come out with them for fear of being judged, will find wisdom in this book. I recommend this book for those wishing to understand mystical experiences, as well as those wishing to form a personal connection with God.

© August 2017 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

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Review: Dreams of Heaven – Two Realities – One Divine Truth

Dreams of Heaven
Two Realities. One Divine Truth.

Author: Elizabeth M. Herrera
Blue Gator Inc.
ISBN #978-0-9903492-3-5

Dreams of Heaven cover

Dreamtime is a time of healing, but sometimes our dreams can haunt us. This is the case for Savannah Watkins – she dreams of losing her husband and children in a horrific car accident. She, however, survives. Or does she? As she struggles with the two realities, Jesus Christ appears to her. Not only to her, but to her entire family! Her children are excited to be talking to Jesus – her husband does not want to believe that Jesus is right in front of him. It bothers him to the extent that he keeps fainting whenever Jesus appears.

This book is written in a very pleasing format – alternating between one reality and the other, and bringing in other family members, and pets. Jesus sits and chats with Savannah about all sorts of things. He walks with her on the beach, and he takes an incredible trip through a grocery store with her!

Savannah is on very much a fantasy journey with Jesus, as he tries to get her to understand who she is in relation to God (indeed, who we all are!), and what powers she actually has. Savannah asks questions about life, and Jesus answers them – in his own manner. What he actually wants is for Savannah to come to her own answers.

As Savannah comes to know herself better, she begins to feel the love emanating from spirit, the love that we are capable of gifting to each other. She see that love emanating from herself, her husband, and her children. It fills her with peace and joy. Knowing this, she makes the decision on which reality is hers. No spoilers – I won’t tell you what she decides!

It is interesting to note that the inspiration for Dreams of Heaven came from a vivid dream that Herrera had. In the dream, Jesus Christ appeared, and showed her four scenes. This became the foundation for this book. Jesus acts as a guide in one of the most wonderful stories that I have ever read. I highly recommend this book to everyone!

 © July 2017 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Review: Find and Follow Your Inner Compass

Find and Follow Your INNER COMPASS
Instant Guidance in an Age of Information Overload

Author: Barbara Berger
O-Books
2017
ISBN #1780995105

Barbara Berger cover

I have been an ardent fan of Barbara Berger for many years now. Her style is real, personal, and down to earth. She is there to help the reader help themselves, to define and lead a quality life. She cares. In “Find and Follow Your INNER COMPASS”, Berger addresses the fact that we are continually being bombarded with information on what we need to do, as well as what we shouldn’t be doing, to live a happy life. The bottom line here is that we need to decide what is right for us as individuals, and follow that path.

In her foreword Berger talks about how plugged in we are to each other, how we have constant online access to what everyone is thinking, saying, feeling, and doing. I read these words, and think about my younger years. Rotary dial phones (only came in black, and the repairman did come inside the house), typewriters (and the advent of erasable typing paper), and hand written, snail mail letters. (Loads of perfumed letters were sent through the mail!).

Berger states that we are continually bombarded by what we “should” and “should not” do to live a happy life. She posits that how can anyone know what is best for themselves in any given situation? Is there a way to take into consideration each individual’s wants, needs, and desires?  This book is all about finding one’s internal guidance system – one’s Inner Compass. We all have an Inner Compass, and it is always sharing information with us. How does it do this? Through our emotions. What a thought!

In this book Berger talks about our emotions, and why they are important. When we live a life aligned with our Inner Compass, and our emotions, we are aligned with who we truly are, and with what is most suitable for us. Part One talks about what our Inner Compass is, and how it works.  Part Two addresses the challenges of working with our Inner Compass, such as what sabotages our ability to listen to and follow our Inner Compass. What is the true significance of our emotions? Are we being selfish in doing so? How can we constructively deal with the fear of other people’s disapproval?

Throughout the book Berger presents, in terms that we can all  understand, what our emotions are, and how we can use them to guide our lives. What I really liked was when she connected our Inner Compass with the Great Universal Intelligence. Now we are rocking! When we are aligned with this very basic yes/no system, we are happy and content. When we are not aligned, we feel discomfort and uneasy. Bottom line – we feel better when we are aligned with ourselves, when we are being our true selves. Our Inner Compass basically tells us how we feel about life, how we feel about our decision, how we feel about what is going on around us.

Berger gives us two basic reasons why we may not be in contact with our Inner Compass: (1) a lack of awareness that our Inner Compass even exists, and (2) most of us have been trained from childhood to make most of our decisions with an eye to pleasing other people. Another biggie that Berger addresses is that we may have been taught that our feelings did not matter. (My immediate thought here was that as women enter various professions, they distance themselves from their emotions so as to appear to make “logical” decisions. A corollary to this is that most boys are taught from day one not to cry, not to express their emotions. No wonder we have not connected with our Inner Compass!)

There is an excellent exercise in Part One that helps the reader to connect with their Inner Compass. In doing this exercise, it is very evident that Berger relies not only on what she has studied, what she has been taught, but what she has learned in working with her clients. Win/win!

Berger advises her readers to check in with their Inner Compasses regularly. Life is ever evolving, we are always having to make decisions – so yes, connect with your Inner Compass as many times a day as you need to! In conjunction with connecting with our Inner Compass is the thought that we have to deal with our own personal fear of our emotions.  Berger suggests that we start slowly when connecting to our Inner Compass, so that we do not overload ourselves with anxiety. We are told that change will happen naturally and automatically. Whew!

One of the really nice little “add ins” that Berger gives the reader is an emotional scale, running from high, good feeling energy, to low, bad feeling energy. This is both an interesting and helpful scale.

I also loved the examples given in the book, such a dealing with a job offer, and a marriage crisis. Examples of what each of us can face in life at any point in time. Berger also addresses what can happen when we do not pay attention to our Inner Compass, and that negative emotions can actually be our friend. I love the breakdown of life activities into “Survival”, “In Between Stuff”, and “Your Passion”. A good way to give ourselves a heads up on where to put our energy.

Part Two deals with dealing with our fear of disapproval and other challenges to following our Inner Compass. Berger talks about our concern that if we follow our Inner Compass, we will make someone else unhappy. She talks about our thinking determining our experience, and that happiness is really an inside job. She also reminds us that different people react differently to the same situation. I love the section on taking our power back – that in reality we are the only ones that can make ourselves happy. Berger also references very real issues, such as other people being out of alignment, and wanting us to fix them, and arbitrary standards of behavior (standards of behavior set by people or groups outside of ourselves). Berger shares a wonderful map on assertive rights by Manuel J. Smith (from “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty).

I am not going to state what her experience was, because that would be a spoiler, but Berger shares what her Inner Compass told her at a significant time in her life, and how it changed her life.

This is a fantastic book! If you are willing to work with it, your life will flow freely, and you will experience anything that you have the ability to envision! Definitely a resource book for personal growth!

 © July 2017 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Review: Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World

Living A Spiritual Life in A Material World –
Four Keys to Fulfillment and Balance

Author: Anna Gatmon, PhD
She Writes Press
2017
ISBN #978-1-63152-256-7

Living A Spiritual Life cover

“The goal is not

to lose oneself in

the Divine Consciousness.

The goal is to let the

Divine Consciousness

penetrate into matter

and transform it.”

~ The Mother

It is probably the hardest thing that any of us can do – trying to live a spiritual life in a material world. I admire Gatmon for all that she has accomplished in her life – overcoming a dysfunctional childhood, accepting the offer to become a model and live in Paris, traveling internationally as a model, marrying and raising two children, becoming a transformative counselor, and being willing to share her insights through this book.

The voice that comes through in this book is one that strongly reminds me of people like German philosopher/spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, Indian physican/spiritualist Deepak Chopra, Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist), and Mexican author don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements). What all of these individuals have in common is that they present us with ways of living our lives that bring our spiritual life into alignment with our daily life.

The system that Gatmon presents us with is that of the Four Keys to Fulfillment and Balance. These keys are: (1) Expansive Presence: The Key to Sacred Awareness, (2) Attentive Listening: The Key to Inner Wisdom,  (3) Inspired Action: The Key to Manifesting, and (4) Faith-Filled Knowing: The Key to Ongoing Co-Creation.  In following these four practices in our daily lives, we bring our own spirituality into the material world.

The Four Keys are meant to help us improve our intuitive decision making, empowering us to become our own spiritual guide. The aim is to allow us to live a spiritually meaningful life while remaining connected to our daily lives in the material/physical world. Some of the benefits of what we learn in “Living A Spiritual Life in A Material World” include:

  • Get out of a dispirited mood within minutes
  • Shift from feeling alone in the world to feeling that you are cared for and guided by a loving Universe
  • Enhance your impact on daily situations
  • Develop your intuitive decision-making skills
  • Gain practical tools for manifesting your true and authentic self
  • Feel passionately engaged in expressing your unique divine purpose
  • Find a greater sense of harmony, intimacy, and connection with people
  • Lead an overall healthier physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life.
  • Make a conscious choice to actively seek out the Divine and the Sacred on a daily basis and you can truly alleviate your suffering and find happiness.

Each chapter includes commentary on the energy model being discussed, as well as how to place this action in our daily lives. For example, the chapter on Expansive Presence includes thoughts on expansive sensations, expansive emotions, and expansive thoughts. Gateways to expansion that Gatmon discusses are breathing, experiencing gratitude, expanding through language, and engaging in authentic self-expression. At the end of each chapter is a summary of the principles discussed in that chapter.

The narrative flows well, and includes stories from Gatmon’s personal life, as well as insights and testimonials from her doctoral research. I cannot say it better than Gatmon says it herself in her epilogue: “Practicing gratitude and conscious breathing, engaging in authentic expression, and spending time in nature are some of the ways you can expand your consciousness and enter into union with  this spiritual existence. In this state of mind, you can listen attentively and decipher subtle, intuitive information that can guide your choices and actions. All that remains for you to do is to act upon this guidance with inspiration and determination, allowing the spiritual reality to penetrate and transform your ordinary, mundane life. As you do that, your faith will deepen and you will find that you have become a channel for wisdom to come through transforming your world and the people whom you touch.”

I highly recommend this as a tool of personal empowerment.

© Bonnie Cehovet May 2017

The Cartomancer December 2016 Issue

November 2016 issue of the Cartomancer!

Tarot Heritage

This magazine just keeps getting better. The latest issue has several articles that especially intrigued me.

In the Tarot Art section, Monica Bodirsky’s Lucky Lenormand deck caught my eye. Its swirling, free form watercolor background appeals to me since I adore abstract art. Bodirsky appears twice more. Bonnie Cehovet reviewed her deck, then Bodirsky contributed an article on cartomancy, the proliferation of Lenormand decks, and the role imagery plays in a reading.

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Besançon Decks

A new to me Tarot style – Besancon. Quite interesting!

Tarot Heritage

As far as I know, there are only a few Besançon-style decks on the market. I’ll start my survey with the most affordable and accessible deck, a re-creation by Evalyne Hall. While translating the writings of Antoine Court de Gebelin and the Comte de Mellet (18th century French authors who were the first to link Tarot and Kaballah), she realized de Mellet used a Besançon deck. Since she didn’t have access to this type of deck, she created her own by lovingly re-drawing historic cards that reside in Paris in the Bibliothèque Nationale.

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Oh No…Retrograde?!