Monday Meditation - Release

On the title of my blog page I have the following subtitle:

UNDERSTAND . RELEASE . OVERCOME . STRIVE


Image Credit - http://buddhismpathtowellbeing.blogspot.com/


I created this as a way to help me learning the Four Noble Truths. For me it was easier to remember if I had just one word for each of the truths. This is the second of four blog posts related to the Four Noble Truths.


To understand that suffering exists is the beginning of the Four Noble Truths. Now where does this suffering come from?  What is the origin of our suffering? What is Samudaya?


I chose release here because release is the opposite of attachment.  It reminds me that I need to release that attachment in order to cease the suffering in my life.  Suffering comes from attachment.  Attachment to people and things.  If we get a child, we fear losing the child. If we get any new possession, (car, house) or even a new job, after we have the happiness of having those, along with that comes naturally the fear of losing them.




So first we learned that life is suffering.  Living equates to suffering. To live is to suffer.  Now, we know why we suffer. We suffering due to attachment.  Attachment is the fear of loss. So we are suffering because we don't want to lose what we have. Samudaya is understanding that there is a source of this suffering.


As always, your comments are welcome.  Feel free to post here or continue to use the form or email to send your questions/discussions.

The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Magickal Herbs

Today I'm reviewing The Modern Witchcraft Guide to Magickal Herbs - Your Complete Guide to the Hidden Powers of Herbs by Judy Ann Nock.


Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book


Author Links - Link
Amazon Book Link
Amazon Author Link
Good Reads Book Link
Good Reads Author Link
My Good Reads Profile
My Facebook Page

Generally I like to start out with a disclaimer. I am identify as a magical Buddhist. I look for the connection between magic and science without the need to search for a creator. I believe in spiritually and holistic wellness.  I find that we can heal the world if we just sit down and and listen to the breath.  I believe that magic, science and nutritional well being are the cornerstone to a well rounded holistic life. I have recently updated my site from Confessions of a Modern Witch to my new page To Live Whole.  I welcome you to come along for my journey of health, wellness and self exploration.

I receive no compensation for these reviews and all my links are standard Amazon links and not affiliate links. I am a practicing photo reader and have spent the last 16 years honing my craft.  I offer personal readings by request and have a strong online history that boasts over 438,000 views.


As you know I'll be switching over to reviewing only e-copies of books shortly.  I will miss handling the books but the amount of trash that I had piling up for all the shipping was just overwhelming.  I will be doing a giveaway for the remaining physical books that actually arrive as well as asking my publishers to provide giveaway copies shipped directly to my winner's homes going forward for all giveaways.

I'll start out with a review of the physical book.  The cover is nice and smooth with a black background and some lovely illustrated herbs shown.  The size of the book is nice for fitting into a bag or a backpack to take on the go.  The pages however, have that same uneven edging that some publishers choose to use to make the book look aged. It is so annoying to me personally.  I dislike this style of binding and wish that they would stick to standard pages. The book boasts of a pretty impressive index which I really enjoy in a book, especially one that could be used as reference going forward.
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book

The author  begins with an overview of magickal herbs and provides a brief history of herbal-ism, including references to John Gerard and Nicholas Culpeper. She gives us a look at herbs from a planetary perspective with a table provided on herbs associated with our solar system. There's even a table on the secret witch names for some herbs. The author covers basic preparation methods such as tonics, sachets, oils, teas and powders. 

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book


Chapter two takes us into cultivation and even references sustainability. I really enjoyed the part of this section called clearing and consecrating your site. This section contains some really well written information and includes a spell to set your intentions.

What good would an herb book be without a little bit of Kitchen Witchery! The author provides just that in chapter 3 with a table related to the magical kitchen and even a spot for adding magic into your recipes. While not provide a spell directly, the information given shows how using gestures while stirring for example, is a great way to add a dash of magic along with that flavor to your dish.
We get a wonderful consecration spell for our cupboard that goes as follows:


Blessed be the hand
Blessed be the heat
Blessed be the sustenance
The nourishment we eat
Blessed be the gathering
Blessed be the flame
Blessed be the creation
Assembled in Her name.



The book goes on to give us a lesson on elixirs and potions with recipes and tables to help us create suitable combinations for feasting and merriment and even has a chapter dedicated to self care. Self care is often missing from the majority of the books I review and I'm glad to see this author chose to give a space for that here.  This along with the herbal first aid kit on page 71 make this book an invaluable resource.

Part II of this book is simply a list of 100 Magickal Herbs.  There are a few illustrations included, but detailed information on each of the selected herbs. Part III takes us directly into how to use these herbs.  From herbal remedies to spells it contains the step by step instructions for things such as, basic hair rinses, how to amplify dark hair, lip scrubs and skin washes.
Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Photo Source - Book


Overall this book was a very good read. The text is well written and provided something I could walk away and practice right away. It takes the time to show you how to not only use but also create you own herbal supply and what to do with it once it is ready to harvest.  One of the better herb books I have read recently.


Monday Meditation - Understand

On the title of my blog page I have the following subtitle:

UNDERSTAND . RELEASE . OVERCOME . STRIVE


Image Credit - http://buddhismpathtowellbeing.blogspot.com/


I created this as a way to help me learning the Four Noble Truths. For me it was easier to remember if I had just one word for each of the truths. This is the first of four blog posts related to the Four Noble Truths.

I started out with Dukkha, the truth of suffering.  Simpy put, the truth of suffering is that we all suffer. No matter how wonderful our life is, there will be suffering. Suffering is inevitable. 



I always found this profound even when put to me in a slightly different context.  The Princess Bride for example has an excellent quote when Princess Buttercup confronts the Dread Pirate Roberts.






Until we fully understand that all life is suffering, we cannot move forward. We sit as victims waiting for the next problem. The next big drama. The next failure.  Now while you may say, not all life is suffering; I would ask you to really examine that statement and look at some of the modern "great" life events.

The birth of a child.
Buying a new house.
Buying a new car.
Getting a promotion.

All of these are great things right?  Life is good!  Yes, and no.

The birth of a new child leads to all sorts of suffering. You have worries associated with the health and well-being of the child. You have new expenses with the new child, house or car.  You have new demands with the new promotion and the new child.  Each of these things are suffering.

Now, don't think I'm being pessimistic. We're going to work through the all of the truths and you'll see how they tie together. Right now just try to examine dukkha and understand what it is. How does dukkha impact your life.

We're not judging suffering, we're just understanding that suffering exists.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments or continue to email/message me directly.  I don't mind these messages at all.

Daily Oracle - A Review

Today I'm reviewing Daily Oracle - Seek Answers from Your Higher Self by Jerico Mandybur.


Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book


Author Links - Link
Amazon Book Link
Amazon Author Link
Good Reads Book Link
Good Reads Author Link
My Good Reads Profile
My Facebook Page

Generally I like to start out with a disclaimer. I am identify as a magical Buddhist. I look for the connection between magic and science without the need to search for a creator. I believe in spiritually and holistic wellness.  I find that we can heal the world if we just sit down and and listen to the breath.  I believe that magic, science and nutritional well being are the cornerstone to a well rounded holistic life. I have recently updated my site from Confessions of a Modern Witch to my new page To Live Whole.  I welcome you to come along for my journey of health, wellness and self exploration.

I receive no compensation for these reviews and all my links are standard Amazon links and not affiliate links. I am a practicing photo reader and have spent the last 16 years honing my craft.  I offer personal readings by request and have a strong online history that boasts over 438,000 views.


As you know I'll be switching over to reviewing only e-copies of books shortly.  I will miss handling the books but the amount of trash that I had piling up for all the shipping was just overwhelming.  I will be doing a giveaway for the remaining physical books that actually arrive as well as asking my publishers to provide giveaway copies shipped directly to my winner's homes going forward for all giveaways.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book


My review copy was a small smooth covered book with stars and planets across the front and back.  It is a pretty thick book, which makes it a bit difficult to carry in a handbag but would be excellent in a backpack or tote bag.  There are no real illustrations inside with only the all seeing eye image on the left side of each of the pages.  The pages are in black and white only lacking any color at all, however I found that I enjoyed the jumps from black to white that the pages delivered.

This book is like similar oracle books on the market.  The author takes a moment on the back cover and the front of the book to explain to the reader how to use the oracle book.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book


We're asked to set our intentions, much like one would do for a tarot reading and then select our page using our intuition. The pages provide messages like - Conviction is a light that can never be blown out  and Don't gild the lily.  I worked with this for a few days and found it insightful and pleasant. My favorite I think was "There insecurities are not your reality".  Good stuff.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book


Overall this is a great book to give as a gift to a grad student, maybe a housewarming gift or something for the new witchling.   I believe that anyone who is motivated by those "thoughts of the day" or positive affirmations would enjoy this book. It reminds me of the Magic 8 Ball in book form!




Monday Meditation - Self Love




One of the most difficult things in my life that I have ever tried to overcome is my low self esteem. I am a people pleasure.  All my life has been me trying to be everything for everyone else, while not being enough for myself.  I spent so much of my time trying to be perfect. I would try to learn everything I could about a class BEFORE taking the class so I would know what the class was about before taking it.  The pressure I put on myself was  unbearable. It was obvious of the pain I was in just by looking at my health.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

While reading The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh, I found the following paragraph profound:


People who are not at peace with their lives tend to let their minds wander back to moments that have passed and are filled with remorse and regret. Those with self-esteem issues dwell on things that people have said to them and feel worse about themselves because they let these thoughts and actions penetrate and become more important than the actual reality.

I spent so much of my time in future worrying about things that hadn't happened yet, based on experiences I had from the past. I was already failing at a new thing because I felt I failed (which really means, it wasn't perfect) at something in the past. I think we are all hard on ourselves, but I believe I took mine to a degree of self abuse.

An example of this is my drawing.  I always felt I wanted to draw but when I would draw I would berate myself.  Nothing was good enough. I would compare myself to other artists even though I had only been drawing a few months.  Earlier this week I took a look at one of my old drawings. I really did a great job. I love this one. So much so that I might even pick up the pencil again. I need to love myself and stop looking for approval from other people.  I need to be ok, with who I am and where I am in my life.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Artwork - Maiden, Mother & Crone


I found a few videos that are helpful on this type of self work.  The first is to stop looking for approval from other people.


The second is a mediation to learn self compassion.



Learning to love yourself is hard. It isn't something we're all born doing as second nature. For me, I am still working on this. I want to be the best I can be for me. I want to be strong, healthy and happy.  Most of all, happy.

Going Vegan - Your Daily Planner - A Review

Today I'm reviewing Going Vegan, Your Daily Planner: Everything You Need to Transition to a Vegan Diet by Michelle Neff.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book
Author Links - Link
Amazon Book Link
Amazon Author Link
Good Reads Book Link
Good Reads Author Link
My Good Reads Profile
My Facebook Page

Generally I like to start out with a disclaimer. I am identify as a magical Buddhist. I look for the connection between magic and science without the need to search for a creator. I believe in spiritually and holistic wellness.  I find that we can heal the world if we just sit down and and listen to the breath.  I believe that magic, science and nutritional well being are the cornerstone to a well rounded holistic life. I have recently updated my site from Confessions of a Modern Witch to my new page To Live Whole.  I welcome you to come along for my journey of health, wellness and self exploration.

I receive no compensation for these reviews and all my links are standard Amazon links and not affiliate links. I am a practicing photo reader and have spent the last 16 years honing my craft.  I offer personal readings by request and have a strong online history that boasts over 438,000 views.


As you know I'll be switching over to reviewing only e-copies of books shortly.  I will miss handling the books but the amount of trash that I had piling up for all the shipping was just overwhelming.  I will be doing a giveaway for the remaining physical books that actually arrive as well as asking my publishers to provide giveaway copies shipped directly to my winner's homes going forward for all giveaways.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book


My review copy was a soft cover slightly larger than average sized book. Its a soft cover book in a journal format that requires the reader to crease the seam in order to jot down all the daily food logging that this book recommends.  I should also add, that I am  not a vegan.  I do have a very vegan like diet. I believe that being vegan has a bit of a history around it and leads people to believe certain things about people who wear that badge.  I live a mindful, compassionate life.  I follow the eight fold path and practice meditation. I diet is best described as Whole Food Plant Based No Oil.  Being plant based, that means that it is a type of a vegan diet, however vegan diets include things like canola oil while excluding honey.  My way of eating would be opposite of that. I see tons of health benefits for honey, while oil on the other hand is quite harmful to the body.  That being said, many of the suggested recipes in this book would be strictly off limits for my household, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's talk about the first part of the book before going into the recipes.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book


This book starts out with the author giving us an overview of the Vegan diet as a whole. She covers vitamins and minerals and includes a section on that all important question we are all asked, "Where do you get your protein??"  I like the inclusion of a vegan pantry.  While, I wouldn't recommend going out and purchasing all this at one time, it is a great place to find a list of all the typical things one would find in a vegan pantry.  Keeping in mind that a large majority of people I am meeting in my groups are also gluten intolerant, I would skip the breads altogether in our house. And of course, no oil at all.  We don't use any type of processed oils, spreads, mixes, butters or anything of that nature. I think that some of these items are great to help wean you off of the bad stuff but overall they contain just as much harmful ingredients and should really just be skipped completely. I found the vegan substitution chart to be useful in some cases and in others a tad redundant.  The yogurt substitution is vegan yogurt.  I think that's pretty self explanatory and seemed like just a space filler.

There are a lot of charts in this book. One on fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, meat replacements and of course vegetables. There's even a few blank pages for you to fill in with the nutritional information around your own favorite foods.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book


The planner section is next.  It is broken down into weekly sections over twelve weeks.  Each week has a recommendation for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack, with a review page to jot down what you ate, including the nutritional break down, a section for thoughts and a plate diagram to show your fruits, grains, protein, veg and even a little place to tick off your water consumption.

The very first day recommends whole grain toast with peanut butter and sugar free jam with a banana for breakfast.  A veggie burger on whole grain bread with cake and baked beans for lunch and vegetable marinara with whole grain pasta for dinner with a kale and tomato salad.  Not a horrible day but for me, I would have to do a lot of removing.  The pasta and bread are both highly processed and have gluten so both of those would be out for me.  I don't eat nut butters or jam, so both of those are out and of course that veggie burger is processed as well.  Instead of this I would have something like an oat bowl for breakfast with oat milk, blueberries, raisins and strawberries.  For lunch I might have a veggie stir fry *no oil* over brown rice or maybe some vegan Tom Kha soup with Soy Curls.

The book does include a recipe for every day of the week in the book.  I found that the Vanilla Date Breakfast Smoothie looked really good. I use frozen bananas and dried dates for an assortment of recipes. Once you are able to cleanse, your taste buds will go back to their normal unprocessed setting and you'll find that things taste quite different that you are used to. For example, oats are naturally very sweet. Oat milk is amazing without any sweetener at all and I pour it over my oat bowl every morning.  Raisins are another great sweet treat. Once off the processed sugar you'll find that so many foods are just great tasting on their own.  Over the years (even documented in this blog) you'll find me posting about how much I hate onions, mushrooms and peppers.  I now eat them everyday. It is quite amazing how quickly you can switch over to a healthy lifestyle if given the chance.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Image Source - Book


Overall I think this is a great book for becoming vegan. The daily entry allows you to take responsibility for your eating habits and the charts and tables provide a great deal of information. I think that going vegan is a great step in the right direction to getting back to where I believe we were naturally intended to eat. 

If you think you might be interested in learning more about the whole food plant based no oil lifestyle, be sure to check out my Facebook page - Real Rations and my Facebook group Real Rations Recipes.  Here my hubby and I share information on health, holistic wellness and nutrition as well as great recipes that will get you on the way. I have lost 137 pounds changing to this lifestyle and Elijah has lost 120.  We welcome you to come over and check it out!



3 Years WFPBNO