Review: King Billy and the Royal Road

King Billy and the Royal Road

Author: RC Ajuonuma
Illustrator: Beverley Young
Silverwood Books
2017
ASIN #B0771VL77Q

King Billy

King Billy and the Royal Road” is a lovely children’s book, based on the Major Arcana of the Tarot (which are often referred to as the Royal Road). It is written in short paragraphs, akin to poetry, and shows a fluid series of thoughts for a young boy called Billy.

The format of the story is very much fairy tale/adventure, with Billy waking up to an empty refrigerator. No food! He tries to wake his mother, but is unable to, so he makes the decision to grab a sack, and a stick, and begin his journey to find food. (For those who know the Tarot, in the card entitled The Fool the character is on a journey, with his belongings tied up in a sack that he carries at the end of a stick. Billy makes his way past a dog that his mother has told him is his best friend, while the Fool has a little white dog that travels with him, and nips at his heels.)

Note: I need to mention here that Billy lives with his mother, who feeds him well and keeps him protected from the outside world. Indeed, he has no experience of the outside world, about people, and places, because his mother does not let him out.

Throughout his journey, Billy comes upon people and places that have food to offer. They also offer him other things – such as an atlas to the world (where he could find food on his own), and words of wisdom (he is not the Prince that he thinks he is). He ends up with more food than he cares for, but he has lost the beautiful young lady he talked to on his journey.

The dog that is mother had told him was his friend reappears.  In his haste to get away from him, Billy ends up in a cave, with a lamp on a table of stone, and a book. Every page said the same thing: “Be brave, be true, and your heart will find you.”

This is quite a fascinating journey, divided into three parts: Part 1 – The Way To Your Heart, Part 2 – Be Brave, Be True, and Part 3 – What Was Lost Can Be Found. This coincides readily with one way of breaking down the Major Arcana into stages of progression on the journey to enlightenment: (1) consciousness (the outer concerns of society), (2) subconscious (our inner search for self), and (3) superconscious (developing a spiritual awareness). It is presented in a manner that a young child can understand.

It was a pleasure to read this book, with the gentle black and white images by artist Beverley Young. It certainly lends itself to and adult reading the book to/with a child, and to ensuing discussions about what the child is getting from the book. I would love to read more books from author RC Ajuonuma along this line.

© February 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

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Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Fire and Fury:
Inside the Trump White House

Author: Michael Wolff
Henry Holt & Company
2018
ISBN-13: 978-1250158062

Fire and Fury

Note: This is not a review of this book – it is more a quasi “op-ed” piece on what it offers. If you are looking for a review – please move on.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” is a 336 page book chronicling the disaster that has governed the White House ever since Donald Trump took office. I bought the book for the same reason that so many did – because Trump himself tried to stop it from being published. However, I did want to understand the “behind the scenes” view of the author, Michael Wolff, who initially saw this project as being an account of the first one hundred days of this administration. In the end, Wolff covered over eighteen months, culminating with the appointment of retired general John Kelly as the new Chief of Staff, and the exit of chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon. Wolff interviewed President Trump himself, as well as members of his senior staff, taping many of the interviews. Some of the interviews were off the record, some were meant to provide “deep background”.

The book reads like a conversation between friends – some truth, some rumor, some conjecture. It is an easy read, but the reader needs to sort fact from fiction on their own. The importance of this book for me was the insiders view of the inter- relationships between those who work in the White House, how they view the president (and each other), and how these relationships change over time.

Wolff is an author and journalist who has contributed to USA Today, the Hollywood Reporter, and the UK edition of GQ, and is the author of seven books, including “Burn Rate” (a book about his own company), and “The Man Who Owns The News” (a biography of Rupert Murdoch). He co-founded the website Newser, and is a former editor of Adweek. For those who might question his credentials, the train wreck that has been this administration has been so well documented in the news that I would say “Take with you what you will.” There are some errors, including wrong job titles, indicating that it could have been better edited, but the gist of the book, which is a running commentary on the inter-relationships between those working in the White House, is pure gold!  And we get incredibly believable descriptions of various events, and how they played out.

This is a presidency that was never meant to be – candidate Trump did not think that he was going to win, nor did his campaign staff, so he was totally unprepared to take office. They never have come up to speed. Nor will they.

  • We have Trump himself, with a questionable business and personal history, a narcissist who has a low level of comprehension of anything, who has an ego that constantly needs to be fed, who will not listen to others, who gets up and walks out of meetings when he is bored, and who does not seem to have the ability to read or understand what he is being given to read. Who now announces that he is a “very stable genius”. We also have Trump’s claims that he was wire-tapped by President Obama, and Trump distancing himself from Roger Aisles (former CEO of Fox News, and a somewhat mentor to Steve Bannon), while trying to befriend media mogul Rupert Murdoch (who has allegedly referred to Trump as a f***ing idiot).
  • We have Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared, who have their own agenda, and were/are at constant odds with Steve Bannon. (I do have to say that I thought these two were educated people who might be able to influence Trump in a good way. It turns out they only want to influence Trump to their benefit. I was also surprised to see that Jared’s father in many ways resembles Trump.) We also find out that Ivanka is entertaining the idea of running for president at some point in time herself.
  • We have Steve Bannon, former chief strategist for the White House, former investment banker, former executive chairman of Breitbart news, educated at Harvard Business School, and a former Naval Officer. He mistrusts Ivanka and Jared, as much as they mistrust him.
  • We have Kellyanne Conway, who is a political consultant, Trump’s former campaign manager, and current counselor to the president. She loves to appear on national TV, and is very defensive of Trump (while not making much sense), but behind his back she talks another story.
  • We have Dina Powell, former managing director and partner at Goldman Sachs, and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, who was brought in by Ivanka Trump. She is currently National Security Advisor for Strategy with the Trump administration. She is allegedly planning on leaving her job soon.
  • We have Reince Priebus, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, serving as White House Chief of Staff (January 20th, 2017 – July 31st, 2017).
  • We have Rex Tillerson, former Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobile, and current Secretary of State (who allegedly referred to Trump as a “f***ing moron”).

The takeaway for me from this book is that Trump is exactly what he seems to be – an illiterate narcissist that does not like to make decisions, who does not do well in meetings, who refuses to be educated on the running of the government (our government), and who believes his own opinions, whether they have a base or not. His staff does not respect him (nor do they have a reason to), and they all work double-time to keep him from making mistakes (or just plain making an ass of himself). More than one of them are allgedly looking for the right time to leave their jobs and return to the private sector. Everyone in the White House is looking for leverage to further their own careers/agenda.

The continuous leaks from the White House? I thought they were from mid-level staff, but it turns out that most of them were either from major players at the White House (who leaked information in order to keep other major players in line), or inadvertently from Trump himself, in one of the many calls that he made to well placed friends every night. Steve Bannon was also the source of many strategic leaks.

Now it looks like there is a chance of this book being made into a TV series. Endeavor Content has purchased the film and television rights to Fire and Fury – Inside The Trump White House”. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but it may happen.

© January 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

What Happened

What Happened

Author: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Simon & Schuster
2017
ISBN #978-1-5011-7566-5

What Happened cover

“What Happened”, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, covers her run for presidency against Donald Trump, and the disastrous aftermath. Disastrous for Hillary Clinton, and disastrous for our country. (Yes, this is a biased review – I am a diehard Clinton fan. If you disagree with that – don’t waste your time here, just mosey on.)

I immediately found it interesting that there was a book out there that is basically a copycat, refuting Clinton’s book. It is entitled

“Everybody Knows What Happened Except Hillary Rodham Clinton”, and was written by Dr. John Bridges. I would note here that all of his other books are about how to be a gentleman – nothing in the political genre. I have not read the book, nor do I intend to. The cover is a replica of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book – with a title change. I mention this book because how many books are taken so seriously that someone feels the need to refute them in this manner. For those who wish to throw their money away, Dr. Bridges book can be found here.

“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.” —Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the introduction of “What Happened”.

I have followed the Clinton’s since Bill Clinton ran for president. I voted for him, and I voted for Hillary. I totally understand where the title for this book came from. The day after the election, when Trump had been declared the winner, we were all in shock, going “What happened?” It has not gotten better over time. I am very happy to see this book come out, as it gives Hillary Rodham Clinton the space to tell her side of the story, and it allows the reader to get a behind the scenes view of her campaign. It is part political commentary, part memoir – and all heart. The tone of the book is conversational (i.e. kitchen table), which may irritate some readers, but it flows, which is what we want any book to do, and reflects who Hillary Rodham Clinton is.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first woman to be nominated to run for president from a major political party, and her journey was not an easy one. The campaign against her was vicious, including hidden interference by Russia, constant reference to the private server e-mail brouhaha, then Director of the FBI James Comey’s letter to Congress concerning the e-mails, and the issue referencing Benghazi. (And how many of us remember Trump following her around the stage during the presidential debate in St. Louis. That was scary!)

“What Happened” is broken down into sections: Perseverance, Competition, Sisterhood, Idealism and Realism, Frustration, and Resilience. I found this to have value, in that it allowed Clinton to express her views as a statesperson, as a woman, and as an individual.

We are given insight into the DNC itself, and how that energy affected her campaign. We hear personal stories about names that we see in the media daily. We see how some decisions that were made hindered the campaign, and how others moved it forward. We see how Hillary Rodham Clinton interacted with individuals and groups that she met as she campaigned, and how they affected her thoughts and her visions.

In the end, we see how we got here, and we see what we need to do as individuals to change the future into a better place. We see that sitting on our hands won’t help – that we need to take action on what we want to happen, even if it is a simple phone call to a political representative, an e-mail (or snail mail) giving our opinion, or a donation to help the campaign of someone who is running for office who holds our view of the future.

There is hope for the future. “Love and kindness” was a staple of the Clinton campaign – it should be a staple for all of us in how we live our lives. At the end of the book, Clinton talks about an umbrella organization that she helped form called http://onwardtogether.org. Through this organization funds are being raised to help support and give advice to groups that are working to make grassroots change in the Democratic party.

I encourage everyone to read this book – especially women. I say especially women, because one of the things that Hillary Rodham Clinton has had to face all of her professional life is that she is a woman, and as such, has her “place”. That, and the fact that she is a very decisive individual, which is not accepted well by male colleagues.

It is a wonder that this book was ever written – considering all of the “Crooked Hillary” nonsense that went on, and is still going on. Writing this book was part of her healing process – reading it can be part of ours as readers. We are not just reading about history here – we have lived this history with her!

© November 2017 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

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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