The Transformational Truth of Tarot: The Fool’s Journey
The Transformational Truth of Tarot: The Fool’s Journey
Cactus of Mystery: the Shamanistic Powers of the Peruvian San Pedro Cactus
Infinite Energy Technologies: Tesla, Cold Fusion, Antigravity, and the Future of Sustainability
The Heart of Faerie Oracle
Welcome to Facing North!
Welcome to one of the largest collections of reviews of neopagan/Spiritual/New Age oriented books, music, and other items of interest to our community. My wonderful team of reviewers and I have been writing reviews for many years now, and we love it.
Opened on October 31, 2006 with just over 200 reviews, Facing North is -- first and foremost -- a community resource. We ended that year with more than double our opening number of reviews (500+). Although we slowed our growth, 2007 ended with our database at more than 600 records, 2008 saw us at 900 and we edged over 1,000 by the end of 2009. We accept previously published reviews, and articles and reviews from alternative practitioners. It is my goal to make Facing North the largest repository of alternative spirituality reviews on the Internet.
We are committed to creating a practical site with honest opinions that are fair, even when critical. I welcome your feedback and suggestions to improve this site, one that everyone in our diverse community can use. Just email me at: lisa_at_facingnorth_dot_net (with appropriate edits).
Once again: Welcome to Facing North!
- Written by Lisa Mc Sherry
Ten years ago, I opened Facing North to the diverse community loosely group as New Age/ Pagan/ Spiritual. While I knew I never wanted to see the project come to an end, I am still amazed -- and a little awed -- that so much time has passed.
Facing North is something of a passion project for me. Other sites have been around longer (notably the now-deceased Mike Gleason's collection and Spiral Nature), and several other sites have begun regular updates; but when we began most reviews were found in various print publications. This meant that not everything could be reviewed, and months could go by before readers could get advice on their next purchases. So a monthly update was a rarity, and we were one of the few to make it happen.
Ten items a month. Ten years. That is a lot of opinion shared with our readers.
Let me part the curtain a little bit and give you a glimpse into how we do things at Facing North. First of all, I say we, because except for a very short period at the very beginning, this has been a shared endeavor between my Review Circle and I. The Review Circle has been as small as three people , and as large as eleven, and our relationship is largely built on trust. I provide them with items either sent to me directly, requested by me, or requested by them. Sometimes I just send them items to review, and promise to give them their first choice the next time around. I've had reviewers promise to write for me and then disappear, taking the items with them into the unknown. I've had others go through major life changes and still get their reviews to me, albeit a little late. I've had friends turn out to be terrible reviewers, and well-meaning people turn in writing that needed to be completely re-written. Over the years I've learned a few tricks to save us all a lot of trouble while still respecting the process and our Selves.
And there is a process. Reviewers generally have a month from the time they receive an item to send me their review. I prefer longer reviews, around 500 words, but a shorter, well-written piece is always acceptable. If the reviewer needs more time, they can always let me know; I'm usually very understanding -- we're all adults and this is a volunteer position. I'd rather keep my reviewer happy than stick to an arbitrary deadline. I ask that reviews have a bit of specific formatting (publisher, copyright, etc.) with each piece, and they need to send it to me as a .txt or .doc file.
Sometimes we get an item that is going to be problematical. Perhaps it espouses a hateful, hate-filled perspective. Maybe its full of wrong information. It may have been poorly written, and essentially not edited (most likely in the case of self-published books, by the way). Possibly my reviewer just can't stand it (which is exceedingly rare). In these cases, we talk. We always try to be constructive in our opinions. This means that even if the problem is poor writing/ editing we don't attack the writer, but will (for example) instead warn the reader that the gems are buried. Or we will plainly state that the information is wrong, and cite sources to support our statement. We strive for honesty in our reviews because we owe that to our readers, even if the publisher/ author isn't thrilled. (And, yes, there are publishers who will no longer send us items for review.)
Finally, We don't accept advertising money, although doing so would allow me to pay my reviewers money, not just the item reviewed. Site and hosting fees are from my own pocket which keeps us smaller than I'd prefer, but nonetheless manageable. Everything we do is built on shared responsibility and respect. We're fundamentally a group of people doing a consistent job in a world seemingly plagued with changes.
Facing North gets about 1,000 unique visitors a month, and for that I can only thank you, Dear Reader. I have a dream of being able to offer a review of every item of interest to our community; it's an impossible dream, but a lovely one. Your feedback is how I know we're doing a good job, filling a useful role, creating value.
My crystal ball is cloudy right now -- probably due to the storms rolling through the Pacific Northwest. I know that the site will change, if only to take advantage of new technologies, but at the same time it will remain a reliable source for opinions about the items we review. I'm looking forward to writing another essay like this in 2026.
In closing, I once again must offer a loud Thank You to my reviewers: stalwart and true, gutsy and reliable, without you Facing North would not be here today.
Editor & Founder
- Written by Diana Rajchel
As the roughly twelve of you that actively follow my book reviews know, first person from me on this site is rare. Often I resort to the distant, third person “let me give you a vague impression of objectivity” voice that a surprising number of publishers find useful for the book cover pull quotes that have never influenced anyone to buy a book, ever, except maybe that one guy that one time we’re not too sure how long ago. That’s because I do try to be objective, or if not objective, at least of a good-natured open mind. So at this tenth anniversary of Facing North’s existence, it seems like a good time to let you see a little more of the real Diana Rajchel beyond the sideways glimpses and small wisecracks slipped in between reasons whether to buy a book or not.
When you look at my involvement with Facing North itself, beyond the endless piles of books sent to Lisa that she in turns sends out to us reviewers, my relationship is incontrovertibly personal. Not only is Lisa a close friend with a relationship going back twenty years, but when you search my name I am all over this site. As of today, I have contributed 100 book reviews (100 at year 10!) including one event review and two tarot deck reviews, I have posted one interview and in the past three years I have published three books with a book in progress as I write this. I have here and there surfaced in mentions by other reviewers: a Llewellyn annual review here, a book I wrote there, an anthology I contributed to over there.
Why do I contribute so much work to this site? Because Facing North gives me a way to spend time on the one topic that has captivated my interest in a way nothing else has: magic. The magic of belief, the magic of healing, the magic of science – this is what lies at the center of my heart. Reviewing for Facing North feeds this part of myself like nothing else. In my years picking up reviews for this site, with books ranging from the envied to untouchable, I have read about subjects ranging to the dangers and benefits of ayahuasca to 19th century rites of autoerotic asphyxiation to new methods of neuropsychology. The magical way of thinking, so far outside the box that it has neither box nor universe, is ultimately my way of thinking. Facing North has given me an unparalleled opportunity to revel in this world and to expand my own.
While I don’t have time to highlight my favorite books – too busy writing! – I do want to say that I have also learned a lot as a writer. Criticizing the finished works of others when you yourself still produce original work takes a delicate balance of detachment and vulnerability. Writing seeming endless reviews has helped me understand magical books as a market, as a genre, and as an art form. In some ways I think it makes me, even at my most critical, softer and kinder than many a passionate amateur on the subject.
Pagan and magical readers are a tough crowd. Some want all writing to be rigorously academic and don’t understand a book constructed for easy consumption; others have rigid ideas of ethical models and especially early on come in with the belief that there is such a thing as a universal Pagan moral model, making deeper exploration of ethics a challenge at best. Others secretly or not-secretly think that their approach to magic really is a one true way – and God/s help you if you figure out something in your private practice that is a little too close to a hoarded secret. When these books cross my reading chair, I see all of this play out whether in autobiographies or controversies about a book I happen to be reading.
There are people, even in the happiest communities, that will crush the daylights out of any idea that isn’t theirs – or they will if you let them. If writing for Facing North has taught me anything, it is first that these people are the loudest because they are a minority – and that neither I nor anyone else needs anyone’s permission to explore an idea no matter how ridiculous it seems. While we are still fully culpable for the results of that work, it is our mistake to make and embrace and change our minds about and break and do over until we figure out what works. That is the entire point of spending a lifetime in study of these books, especially those on witchcraft and magic. There is an eternal dance between tradition and innovation that is expressed in magic more than any other field of study. You have both – and that heretic in good company T-shirt looks pretty good on you.
Fortunately, Facing North has never subscribed to a one-way philosophy. Ideas get explored here. Diverse viewpoints are solicited. While we don’t give authors too much room to argue back – getting fixated on reviews is terrible for the next book – we do listen when they can substantiate their arguments, or when we just plain get something wrong. This has happened to me more than once.
I am looking forward to another decade reading and reviewing magical books, and another decade of helping create them. Happy anniversary, to Facing North, Lisa, and my fellow reviewers! Thank you to every writer involved for making me a better, more thoughtful writer and critic. I have always learned by reading, first for the information alone, but now because I understand what reading and reviewing can really mean when it comes to critical thought with an eye towards refining personal magical practice. Whether sublime or ridiculous, I will continue to learn something from every single item that comes my way Facing North.
written by Diana Rajchel
Author of Divorcing a Real Witch: for Pagans and the People that Used to Love Them
- Written by Lisa Mc Sherry
Interestingly, this month has a lot of items having to do with witchcraft. Appropriate for the season in so many ways.
For your enjoyment:
Doreen Valiente Witch
Llewellyn's 2017 Witches' Companion: An Almanac for Contemporary Living
How to Survive Mercury Retrograde: ...And Venus & Mars Too (a new review!)
Runes, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You'll Ever Need
The Coarse Witchcraft Trilogy
Nothing but a Pack of Cards: A Book of Cartomancy and Tarot Sorcery
The Goddess & The Shaman
The Secret People, Parish-pump witchcraft, Wise-women and Cunning Ways
A Traveler's Guide to Initiation: Toward Healthy Hermetic Spiritual Communities
Last month we offered:
Chinese Alchemy: Taoism, the Power of Gold, and the Quest for Immortality
Ghost Stations (CD)
Awaken Me (CD)
Beyond Karma (CD)
Secret Medicines from Your Garden: Plants for Healing, Spirituality, and Magic
Pagan Consent Culture: Building Communities of Empathy and Autonomy
The Art of Ritual
Whispers from the Earth: Teaching Stories From The Ancestors, Beautifully Woven For Today's Spiritual Seekers
The Witch's Mirror: The Craft, Lore & Magick of the Looking Glass
May the energy of the third harvest carry you into the dark of the year!
Founder & Editor