The Book Report by Rebecca Traver - Our Online Bookshop Curator

Winter weather combined with this newly minted year is stimulating both my dream life and visionary aspirations. I am drawn more deeply into an inquiry around how, for me, dreams and visions are linked, yet distinctly different in quality and expression.

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only at night.”
~Edgar Allen Poe
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
~Audre Lorde


Winter weather combined with this newly minted year is stimulating both my dream life and visionary aspirations. I am drawn more deeply into an inquiry around how, for me, dreams and visions are linked, yet distinctly different in quality and expression. It can be a dance of subtleties - to say the least. How about for you?


One of my favorite practices for cultivating clarity within both dreams and visions is journaling. Three of my favorites include:

A Yogic Path Reflective Journal which pairs beautifully with A Yogic Path Oracle Deck and Guidebook,

Brave Kind, and Grateful: A Daily Gratitude Journal, and

Write This for Inspiration: A Guided Journal for Getting the Most Out of Your Life.

Click here to see our complete collection of journals and composition books.


Now, about dreaming…


As I generally have a book in front of me before it’s lights out, it’s not unusual for something from my reading to influence my dreams. If this is a familiar occurrence to you as well, may I suggest being particularly mindful of what you fill your beautiful imagination with before sleep?


With all of that in mind, I thought we’d begin with some offerings from clinical hypnotherapist Kelly Sullivan Walden whose work helps us to use our dreams to make sense of and improve the quality of our lives:


It's All in Your Dreams: Five Portals to an Awakened Life outlines a five-step process (Declaration, Remembrance, Embodiment, Activation, and Mastermind) designed to give us greater fluency with dream images and language.


The Hero's Journey Dream Journal

Generally speaking, I’m wary of dream interpretation dictionaries, but I Had the Strangest Dream: The Dreamer's Dictionary for the 21st Century has sparked my attention. I am finding that approaching dream review with this as a tool can lead to insights and layers of meaning that may have otherwise eluded me.


In addition to books, Walden has created two lovely oracle decks: Dream Goddess Empowerment Deck and Awakened Dreamer Oracle Cards and a journal she calls The Hero's Journey Dream Journal


If creating a vision board appeals to you, here’s my favorite book to help you to get started:


The Vision Board Book: Create Your Vision Board in a Book by Gini Graham Scott is beautifully designed as both an inspiration and guide and as the place in which to create and develop your vision…within its pages. I like this approach so much because, unlike a “board”, this is an 8 ½” x 11” book - portable, readily shareable, with space to include comments, add pages, and allow your vision to evolve along with you.


Missing Witches

How about we shift from dreaming and visioning to witchcraft? And truly, how much of a distance is there between them? Missing Witches: Recovering True Histories of Feminist Magic by Risa Dickens and Amy Torok is a comprehensive study and guide to magical traditions from around the world - from Haiti to Harlem and Oaxaca to Mesopotamia - we are presented with the rich history of how women have practiced, lived, and shared magic.


I am loving Benebell Wen’s book Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth for its accessible and inclusive outline of the history of tarot and a wide array of theories on its applications, including its relationship to Jungian archetypal psychology and traditional Chinese divination practices. James Wanless, one of Paradise Found’s favorite people and creator of Voyager Tarot: Intuition Cards for the 21st Century, has this to say about Wen’s work: “A magnificent, intelligent, comprehensive overview and innerview of the Rider Waite Smith system of tarot. This is the only guide you need to have. Bravo.”


“We are pushed by our pain until we are pulled by our vision.”
~Michael Beckwith, author of Life Visioning


As I am continually processing the tumult in our world, I find that practicing being grounded is one of the best ways I can take care of myself. ‘What does it mean to be rooted in the land?’ is an inquiry beautifully explored in Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth by Randy Woodley. Through meditations and prompts for reflection and action, we are guided on a one-hundred-day journey to reconnecting with the Earth. In the process, we learn to honor balance, wholeness, and connection. What better way to begin a new year?


Another good choice for the new year is 12 Tiny Things: Simple Ways to Live a More Intentional Life by Heidi Barr and Elli Roscher. Here, we are guided to explore twelve essential areas of life: space, work, spirituality, food, style, nature, communication, home, sensuality, creativity, learning, and community. By trying on one tiny thing at a time, we can slowly, deliberately, and playfully remember who we are. Doesn’t that sound like a sweet and doable approach?


In You Should Leave Now: Going on Retreat to Find Your Way Back to Yourself, author Brie Doyle reminds us that if we want to live an extraordinary life, one in which our heart, mind, and spirit are aligned, we have to make space for our soul. One tried and true way to cultivate that space is to give ourselves considerable time away from the routines of our lives in order to rest and rekindle our inner spark. While Doyle suggests more in-depth and lengthy retreats, we may not always be able to get up and go whenever we feel the need to reset. I am a strong advocate of the power of bringing moments of stillness and reset in smaller ways. Step away from the screens, make a cup of tea with great reverence, lean up against a tree and allow it to tell you its secrets…and so on.


To that point, may I encourage you to check out IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives by Chris Stedman which makes a case for embracing realness in all of its uncertainty, online and off, even when (especially when) it feels risky.


Another powerful and practical guide to living more fully is The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again by Catherine Price in which the argument is made that our always-on, tech-addicted lifestyles have led us to obsess over fundamentally intangible concepts such as happiness while obscuring the fact that real happiness lies in the everyday experience of fun. With solid scientific research as well as personal experience, Price reveals the surprising mental, physical, and cognitive benefits of fun, and offers an array of ways we might bring more of it into our lives. I’m in - how about you?


Wonder Seeker: 52 Ways to Wake Up Your Creativity and Find Your Joy by Andrea Scher is “the perfect guide to help us slow down and find the beauty and wonder right in front of us” says Brené Brown, one of my favorite authors. This book is a call and an answer to how to reclaim our creative spirit - reminding us of the marvels all around us in every moment.


To live in wonder on the other side of hardship and disappointment is the teaching at the heart of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness by poet and teacher Mark Nepo. He helps us to embrace the fragility and magnificence of Life with tenderness and courage, that we may fully inhabit the miraculous nature of presence.


And now…let’s get cozy in the children’s corner…


Chronicle Books is one of my favorite publishers and their recent highly reviewed collection of children’s picture books has much to offer. Here are three of my favorites:


The Longest Letsgoboy by Derick Wilder with illustrations by Catia Chien explores the very special relationship between kids and dogs, the importance of language, and finding and embracing meaning ever day.


We Became Jaguars by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Woodrow White tells the story a Grandma who comes to care for her grandson when his parents take a trip. A magical time unfolds as grandson and grandmother transform into jaguars and journey together into the wilds of their imaginations. Or, is it really real? Who can say, friends? Who can say?


What Is Love? by Mac Barnett with terrific illustrations by Carson Ellis is a sweet fable about the nature of love and, like all great children’s books, can be received and understood on many levels.


A few others to recommend include these young readers novels:

The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams by Mindy Thompson is set in the fictional small town of Sutton, NY in 1944 where a family-run magical bookstore called Rhyme and Reason caters to customers from the past, present, and future.


And Spell Sweeper by Lee Edward Fodi, featuring a failed young wizard and her rag-tag cleanup crew in this delightful middle grade fantasy.


In closing I offer this from poet and author David Whyte:


STILL
POSSIBLE

It took you so long
to see the way
understanding rises
from the very center
of your own body
everyday and luminous,
from arriving waves
of what only seems
like the ordinary.



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