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Monday, November 20, 2023

Review: Celtic Goddesses, Witches, and Queens Oracle


I have always had a weakness for tarot and oracle decks because I love to see the different artistic interpretations applied to each card. But, as anyone who is interested in them knows, the market has become really glutted with decks over the last few years, to a degree that its hard to maintain any excitement for them (at least for me). There are a few exceptions to that though and this deck was one of them. When I first heard that Danu Forest and Dan Goodfellow were putting out a Celtic themed deck I was intrigued, in part because I have long been a fan of Goodfellow's art, and love his style. Because of how overstuffed the market is I wanted to do a short review of this deck today to give other people a better feel for what the deck is and why its worth getting. 

The deck came out at the end of October and is available from the usual sources, including amazon

First let me just say that I was very impressed by the box the cards come in. That may seem like a strange place to start, but many companies have reduced the quality of the packaging for their decks, probably to save money, so its nice to get a deck that's in a really solid box. Usually when I get a deck I transfer it to a pouch if I intend to use it because I know the boxes will disintegrate in a bag or purse, but with this one I'm comfortable leaving it in the box.  Honestly I took this as a good sign before I'd even looked at the deck. 

The deck itself is comprised of 40 cards, each featuring a figure from myth from one of the Celtic language speaking cultures. The card stock is nice and heavy, the cards a good size for shuffling, and each image is distinct. The art is beautiful, and in my opinion captures the overall feeling of each being depicted in the cards, which includes a range from figures like Boudica and Melusine, to the Morrigan and Artio. If you aren't familiar with Dan Goodfellow's art you can check it out here. 

The deck comes with a paperback book, the same size as the cards, written by Danu Forest. Much more involved than the usual small booklet this runs 196 pages offering an in depth description of each card as well as a small section suggesting various spreads for divination.  Each entry has a full color depiction of the card,  the being's name, culture of origin, name pronunciation, a exploration of the figure it features in myth or folklore, suggested meaning in divination, and a short prayer.  Its a much more thorough and informational book than I usually find with these kinds of decks and I really appreciated that. The author obviously put a lot of effort into research and tried to give readers a real feel for who these beings were and are. 

Celtic Goddesses, Witches, and Queens Oracle is a wonderful combination of exceptional art and a thorough guidebook, making it an ideal divination option. The imagery is vibrant and evocative, allowing the cards to speak on their own, and the guidebook is a perfect compliment, expanding on the imagery and offering more depth to each figure. This deck could be used for various forms of divination but could also be an ideal devotional tool, helping people connect through story and prayer. The best option I've seen for this subject.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Book review: Bogowie

 Doing things a little different today, a book review of a subject I actually don't know much about. I thought it would be fun to dig into a subject that's new to me so today we're going to be talking about T. D. Kokoszka's book 'Bogowie: A Study of Eastern Europe's Ancient Gods'. This one is out through my publisher Moon Books.

Bogowie is a fascinating dive into Slavic paganism from an academic angle, covering a range of related topics from deities to folk magic. It may seem a little intimidating at first - at 430 pages its certainly not a light read and each chapter is thoroughly backed up with relevant sources, cited meticulously - but the writing style is straightforward and it includes retellings of various folktales which nicely break up the informational sections. I found the balance in the book was good and the material, while dense, was understandable and well written. 

Bogowie starts, quite sensibly I think, but discussing exactly who the Slavic people were and are  to establish the scope of the book. The author is also honest throughout that this area of study is particularly difficult in part because of the complex history of Slavic cultures and in part because of the scarcity of older sources. The author was honest that the subject gets little attention and is often dismissed outright because of the lack of written material focused around it. I appreciated having all of this covered because I felt that it gave me a good understanding of both the wider subject as well as the intentions of the author in writing the book, which appears to be a much needed addition to the existing material on the topic. 

With an Introduction and 14 chapters the book is well organized and through, but not as dry as one might expect. To start it explores various historic cultural connections between Slavic people and others, as well as laying out the development of the Slavs across history and various influences on that development. From that point the text goes on to look at specific mythic figures including Baba Yaga, Mokosh, Perun, Volos, the Zoryas, Svarozhichi, and Chernobog, while analysing deeper mythic concepts and exploring related cultural material. This includes Christian syncretism within the folk belief which I found especially interesting. The author also digs into beliefs around death and the soul, as well as exploring magical practices in the cultures and holy days. Its thorough but not, in my opinion, overwhelming, and manages to convey a lot of information in ways that hold a reader's interest. 

 The book nicely blends history, folk belief, and practice in a way that I think people will find interesting and digestible. The author does a good job of explaining the core principles and concepts he covers in ways that even people new to folklore studies will understand, while keeping the text interesting and engaging. I would recommend this for anyone who is particularly interested in Slavic paganism but also for anyone who enjoys folktales and is curious to learn something new. This one really covers all the bases.