Monday, September 24, 2018


The Animal Allies and Gemstone Guardians Cards, Margaret Ann Lembo, illustrations by Richard Crookes, Inner Traditions/Bear & Co., Rochester, VT, 2018, 44 full-color cards, $15.99.
The Animal Allies and Gemstone Guardians Cards

The full-color cards are beautiful. One side features an animal and the other side a gemstone. Each card offers a question for contemplative thought, a positive affirmation, and Divine Guidance.
        Animals frequently show up unannounced – in dreams, in life, virtually anywhere. They appear for a reason, but do we get their message? When I received the deck for review, I immediately began looking for the creature that had been appearing to me several times a day for over a week: dragonfly. Part of the message told me that “I pay attention to my dreams and easily interpret them.” How true! Up until then, I would wake in the morning with the thought, “I had wonderful dreams!” but I couldn’t remember even one detail. The morning that I received the deck was the first time since childhood that I remembered a dream.
        Everything resonates with a vibration. Some are harmonious, other discordant. The gemstone on my dragonfly card is the amethyst cathedral. Looking at the photo, I felt drawn into the large, deep purple geode. Part of the gemstone’s message told me to use my dreams as a tool to balance my emotions. Again, it struck a chord. The question asked if I had noticed situations in my life that needed the truth to be revealed. Indeed, I had.
        When a friend asked for a reading, she simply pulled a card from the deck and was amazed at the answers, the question, and the affirmation. We couldn’t wait to have others pull a card.
        You can use these cards in conjunction with other decks – tarot or oracle – for added insight into any reading. You can pull a card at the start of each day for inspiration. Can you repeat the card’s affirmation throughout the day to change your reality and change your life?
        If a certain animal (or insect or bird or reptile) appears in your life, you can instantly pull that card for insight. If you feel attracted to a particular gemstone, you can pull that card from the deck. Or you can simply draw a card at random and see what animal and gemstone have to offer.
        There is no book to read; the deck alone is all you need.
Shawna Meeks-Caine


The Sibyls Oraculum – Oracle of the Black Doves of Africa, Tayannah Lee McQuillar, Artwork by Katelan V. Foisy, Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, 2018, 44 cards, 148pp book, $19.99

Greek historian Herodotus wrote: “Two black doves had come flying from Thebes in Kemet, one to Libya and one to Dodona … the people of Dodona understood that the [dove’s] message was divine, and therefore established the oracular shrine. The dove which came to Libya told the Libyans … to make an oracle of Ammon…”
        As McQuillar notes, “In the ancient Mediterranean world, the dove was a symbol of the soul … the two ‘black doves’ (dark-skinned women?) from Thebes … identifies them as sibyls.” A sibyl is a prophetess. Greek poet Pindar named the “cluster of dazzling stars located in the constellation of Taurus ‘the Peleiades,’ which means ‘a flock of doves’.” The Pleiades are named for the seven sisters of Greek mythology, all of whom were linked to Africa.
         In ancient times, the “Sibyls were consulted by the aristocracy prior to all major undertakings and provided comfort and spiritual guidance for all who sought them.”
        What happened to the Sibyls? Their temples were outlawed by Constantine and Nicene Christianity, and secret societies were formed to avoid persecution. “The legacy of the Sibyls is still with us…” and this oracle deck can help you awaken that legacy.
        So much history is packed into McQuillar’s book! It’s time to reawaken the Sibylline symbols. Katelan V. Foisy has done an admiral job of designing the cards. The images could be mosaics found on ancient Libyan walls. I have spent hours poring over the cards, marveling at their beauty, letting their meanings touch me on many levels. 
        Instructions on how to use the oracle are outlined clearly and are easy to follow. The cards can be used for self-examination, decision making, and can be used to help others. I’m tempted to outline the process, but that is best left to Ms. McQuillar. Unlike some oracle decks, when you know how to phrase your question or concern, the Sibyls Oraculum does not give a vague, biased or ambiguous answer.        You will need two things when using the Sibyls Oraculum: an open mind and a journal. Recording the results of your readings, your responses to and reflections on the exercises in the book, and any dreams or events you may think of as omens will help you see what the cards are telling you. This isn’t an “instant” reading; events can (and will) play out over time. You may get a message through “coincidence” after a reading that lets you know there is more work to do to resolve a situation. Your journal will help you recognize these “coincidences”.
        Do you truly understand yourself? Ms. McQuillar offers an exercise to determine your “core card”. Your reaction might be, “Wow, this is who I really am? I can do better than that!” You now have insight into how you’ve limited your possibilities and how you can make new choices as you “become an active player in the game of life”.
        Each card has a key symbol, a religio-mythological association and a divinatory meaning. These are listed, and the information is valuable.
        The Sibyls Oraculum is different from any oracle deck I’ve ever used, and I love it. I recommend that you give it a try and see how it can help you.
Jean Brooker

Monday, June 25, 2018


Greek Mythology Reading Cards, Alison Chester-Lambert MA (author) and Richard Crookes (illustrator), Bear Co., Rochester, VT, 2018, 50 full-color cards, 112pp book, $19.99.

There is something exciting about getting a new deck, and I’m of a mind that you can’t have too many. The possibilities are always there waiting to be discovered, and frankly, I am not always patient enough to see if a deck resonates for me before taking it on as my own. Each deck has its own personality, and it’s an adventure for me to meet and get to know each one on their own terms. Some I like more than others, but they all seem to have their charm. That is definitely the case with the Greek Mythology deck.
        This is a beautiful deck to view, and the first thing I did was look through all of them. With a traditional tarot deck, I don’t always do that. Tarot has a discipline that most decks follow, and the nuances are learned more from watching their behavior in a reading and interpreting them by where they fall and what questions are being asked. The artwork uses classic works of art (paintings, sculptures, frescoes, etc.) depicting various figures from the Greek myths, and it is a joy to look at. Take a moment to read the introductions by both the author Alison Chester-Lambert and the illustrator, Richard Crookes. This is a labor of love.
        The Greek Mythology reading cards are described as an oracle deck which I find, in general, tell less of a story and give more of an intuitive insight into a situation. For me, tarot and oracle are complementary rather than interchangeable, so I tend to pay more attention to the guide word or descriptor on each card before examining the image. For instance, the card for Eos has Dawn on it. The picture is of the winged goddess Eos driving her chariot above the breaking sunrise. As I look at the card and think of my current situation, I see this as a harbinger of new beginnings. The dawn of new things. A sunny future lies in front of me as the light breaks through dark clouds. The chariot brings to mind the tarot Chariot, which implies forward motion, overcoming obstacles and essentially underscores my initial impression of the card’s meaning. Kind of exciting.
        My knowledge of Greek mythology (and Roman for that matter) is not very deep, and I did take the time to read some reviews after briefly looking through the book that accompanies the deck. Some people loved it and thought the information was on point while others said the descriptions were not always accurate. Personally, I have no idea which might be true. Not all of the cards are of gods or goddesses, but I found that a basic understanding of who the image depicts is enough. So, knowing that Ares is the god of war, having the word ‘warmongering’ on the card, and viewing a painting of a furious battle tells me to be careful about creating conflict when it isn’t necessary. Ares could be shortsighted in his need to be right. Maybe I need to be aware of when it’s time to step back and examine the situation and when I need to fight for what’s right.
        Overall, I think I really like the mythology deck a lot. It could be time for me to do more work with oracle cards as I found that looking through this one expanded my thinking process in an interesting way. My good friend and mentor is much braver than I am and has mixed most of her tarot and oracle decks into one giant pool. For a long time, she’s held that there are times the same card needs to show up several times in a reading so more than one deck lets that happen. As I said above, I think that the oracle complements the tarot and rather than reading them separately, comingling could be key to deeper readings. This deck seems to be pushing me a bit further down that path of exploration. For that reason alone, I would recommend taking a chance on it.
-          Janet Byrne


Elemental Divination – A Dice Oracle, Stephen Ball, Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, MN, 2018, 240pp, $15.99.

Long before cards were invented, people tossed items such as bones or stones to foretell the future. Although I’d heard about readings using dice, I hadn’t tried it.
        In the introduction, author Stephen Ball explains that using dice is similar to using other tools: we examine the elements, Earth (patient defense, physical needs, natural balance), Air (intelligence, communication, mental capabilities), Fire (motivation, power, energy, sexual attraction), and Water (life, healing, dreams prophecy, compassion, empathy) and apply them to our current situation, what’s coming into our lives, and what changes we may want to make for benefit or to avoid negative outcomes. “This oracle takes these fundamental forces and reads the pattern created by their play together.” There are two additional elements: Sun (linked with Fire) “dismisses the darkness to show what was previously hidden and brings the truth into the light, and Moon (linked with Water) “governs dreams and reaches our deeper emotions … it frequently symbolizes the arrival of magic…”
        Ball explains, “Each reading takes the form of a new influence coming into an existing situation.” The dice toss tells whether the “new arrival” has greater or lesser influence.
        When casting the dice, you will get three numbers: 1) your current situation, 2) the new actor (element) coming in, and 3) the strength of the newcomer (how much influence it will have on your current situation). There are 72 possible outcomes in each toss. My first reaction to that was, “This is going to be so hard!” But it isn’t. Ball’s explanations are easy to understand. More than a few of my teachers said it was “cheating” to use a book when doing a reading. Not so with Elemental Divination. Each configuration has a name, and reading the interpretation helps to see the deeper, far-reaching aspects of that configuration. The analogies and mental images of the interpretations are pretty much the same as looking at a tarot or oracle card. For Lesser Moon over Fire (called Candle Magic), the image is three beeswax candles burning brightly in a clearing at night. They don’t shed much light, but they do offer “a small touch of magic and possibility.” That said, however, Ball explains, “the final conclusion that you come to [after a reading] can be entirely from your own feelings on each combination.” You’re not locked into using the interpretations listed in the book.
        Ball teaches how to ask questions “about all points of the future or past” and recommends doing three readings: 1) new influence coming between now and tomorrow; 2) more detail on the present situation (near future); 3) choices you can make going forward.
        The sample readings are incredibly helpful. Ball explains how to choose dice (metal, wood, patterned, etc.), rituals for consecrating your dice, and meditations for each element. He then covers the 72 configurations, and The Appendix is a quick reference to the configurations, listing the dice roll, elements, title, summary and page. For example, Greater Air over Fire is called Conflagration (think of wind blowing a forest fire) with the Summary “Explosive increase, massive energy for success” and a referral to page 82.
        This is an incredible oracle, and I encourage you to consider using it. It’s a wonderful new (to me, at least) tool that I will be combining with tarot and oracle decks for greater insight.
        Ball recommends (and I concur), it’s advisable to keep a journal to see how you change, and also to see if you’ve been ignoring good advice.
        One last thought – dice are not included with the book, and as I noted, chapter six explains how to choose your dice. I’m thinking of woodburning a set for my own use.
-          Karen Howard


The Haunted Heart of America, Logan Corelli, Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, MN, 2018, 240pp, $16.99.

Dr. Corelli has been investigating allegedly haunted locations for almost 20 years. In The Haunted Heart of America he takes us to eleven, plus he shares residential investigations in the final chapter. He’s visited some of the locales previously, and some are new. It was interesting that he visited some sites on multiple occasions and documented different events on each visit.
        In the introduction, Dr. Corelli explains that the book includes “all anomalous activity as well as personal impressions”, adding that “my theories about the paranormal and my investigative methods are my own.” If you’re used to certain procedures from “ghost hunting” groups on TV, understand that Dr. Corelli’s methods may differ.
        Each allegedly haunted site has a history, and Dr. Corelli gives some background, which I found helpful, as I was unfamiliar with several locales, and there was new information (for me, at least) on some sites I already knew about.
        Not all “haunted locations” have activity, which is to be expected. I suppose TV ghost-hunting shows leave out investigations where nothing happens because they want to show all the “good stuff”; an investigation without results would be boring TV. In one instance, Dr. Corelli readily admitted, “I would have to say that it is possible [location] could be haunted, but we didn’t experience anything while we were there.” It was, however, interesting to read how Dr. Corelli and his team set up the investigation, and I wondered if he had discounted the incident of a “missing” piece of equipment which suddenly showed up.
        Dr. Corelli’s investigators varied in number and group members, and I enjoyed reading how different people acted/reacted in certain situations. I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to lay on a morgue slab tray in a body cabinet or be locked alone in a haunted hospital! Reading about a team member vomiting after stepping onto allegedly haunted property was unnerving, especially with what happened to the rest of the team afterwards and on subsequent visits to the site. In one instance, I wondered if the team had encountered a Hell Hound!
        Dr. Corelli shares EVP sessions that—perhaps not at the time of the investigation—yielded ominous threats or creepy responses to questions. He also shares photos of faces in windows and mysterious orbs.
        I enjoyed The Haunted Heart of America. I couldn’t put it down, and as I read into the wee hours of the morning, I jumped at each sound. Was that the wind? Did that sudden chill come from the air conditioning coming on? Was the scratching sound just a tree branch grazing a window pane?
        I recommend The Haunted Heart of America for anyone interested in ghosts, hauntings, and ghost hunting. No, not all investigations resulted in unnerving events, but there were times I was sure that, if Dr. Corelli and his team had just turned that last corner at the end of the hall….
-          Shawna Caine

Sunday, June 3, 2018


Life After Near Death – Miraculous Stories of Healing and Transformation in the Extraordinary Lives of People with Newfound Powers, Debra Diamond, Career Press, Wayne, NJ, 2016, 240pp, $16.99.

What is an NDE and what happens to people who have one? 
        An NDE is a Near-Death Experience—basically “coming back from the dead”—and many people find their lives profoundly changed following an NDE. Some “experts” assert that an NDE is a byproduct of reduced oxygen to the brain “resulting in hallucinations”, but would a hallucination cause a person to experience electrical sensitivity? Or make other experiencers begin painting and drawing universal symbols in an attempt to explain what happened to them?
        Debra Diamond is a clairvoyant and clairaudient, talents which she used as she interviewed people who had experienced NDEs. Communicating with Spirit during the sessions helped Ms. Diamond better understand the experience, and allowed the interviewees to get a better handle on what had happened. Some had never talked of their NDEs with others because they felt no one would understand.
        Lest you think having an NDE will change your life for the better, pay close attention. As Ms. Diamond explains, “An NDE can bring on baffling, frightening, and even dangerous side-effects … According to research by P.M.H. Atwater it takes experiencers seven years, on average, to become accustomed to the changes brought on after an NDE.” An experiencer might have gained “supernatural” abilities, but at what cost? Loss of job, loss of spouse. Suicidal and self-destructive behavior. 
        Not only does Ms. Diamond look at what happens before and after an NDE; she looks at what happens during the experience. The question is whether you can return to your “normal” life after you’ve experienced “a higher frequency energetic range, a non-material realm we can’t define and have difficulty addressing in our spoken language”. That is the ultimate challenge.
        Don’t think there’s nothing new under the sun. I’ve read other books on NDEs, including Life After Life by Dr. Raymond Moody, and I thought I knew a fair amount about it, but there were parts of Life After Near Death that offered totally new information, most of it mind-boggling.
        I could go on and on, but I encourage you to read Life After Near Death – Miraculous Stories of Healing and Transformation in the Extraordinary Lives of People with Newfound Powers for yourself. You won’t want to put it down. The language is easy to understand, and I think Ms. Diamond covers the subject in a way that helps answer many questions—and if you think you have a lot of questions, imagine the people who have had NDEs. They want to know how, what do I do with these new feelings/abilities, and possibly the most important: why me. 
        If you or someone you know has had an NDE, I encourage you to read Life After Near Death – Miraculous Stories of Healing and Transformation in the Extraordinary Lives of People with Newfound Powers. I also encourage you to contact Ms. Diamond to find your own answers.
- Louise Scarola


Wild Kuan Yin Oracle, Alana Fairchild, Illustrations by Wang Yiguang, Blue Angel Publishing, Victoria, Australia, released by Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, MN, 2015, 44 cards, 272pp book, $23.95.

In the book’s introduction, Alana Fairchild says, “When I first saw the artwork…I was mesmerized. The artist’s vision captured something in my soul.”

        I know exactly how she felt because I felt that myself as I first went through the deck. The artwork is evocative, enchanting, and superbly detailed. Kuan Yin is shown in all guises of woman: maiden, mother, crone. She flies through the air, dances across water or snow, embraces buffalo…

        The card names reflect the artwork. Grandmother of Love, Granddaughter of Life depicts Crone and young female looking at each other, and the beautiful message (in the book) tells us that Grandmother is wisdom with the ability to learn from experience. Granddaughter is potential with the seed of life growing into fullness. Both ends of the spectrum. The message tells us to stop judging ourselves for our past and become empowered to engage more with life. How meaningful.

        The book is wonderful. Alana introduces us to the genesis of the deck and how it progressed to the cards and book you now hold in your hands. For those unfamiliar, she explains who Kuan Yin is in a way that makes it so clear.

        Alana then explains how to use the deck: How to formulate a question for a single card reading; what other spreads you might want to use; information on reversed cards. What I found helpful here is the explanation of Healing Processes.

        Each card has an explanation of its meaning as well as its Healing Process. If you keep getting the same card over and over, or if you feel you need more information on a particular card, you will find simple Healing rituals and prayers. For example, part of the prayer for Grandmother of Love, Granddaughter of Life (yes, my favorite card) is to ask for help trusting your own timing; help in letting go and trusting that life loves you and wants you to grow.

        There are only two drawbacks to the Wild Kuan Yin Oracle. One is that the print in the book is very small. I know it has to be in order to fit the book and cards in the small box, but there were times I had to use a magnifier. The other isn’t so much a drawback as a question. Alana explains “…if you find a reversed card in your reading…pay special attention to it.” Because some of the cards are horizontal, how can I tell if it’s reversed or upright?

        All in all, I found this deck incredibly helpful and insightful, and the book extremely well-written. You don’t have to know Kuan Yin; you’ll learn about her (and yourself) by connecting to her energy as you do readings for yourself and others with this beautiful deck.

- Kathy Cicalese