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Seasons of Magic: A Girl's Journey Paperback – 12 Mar 2001
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About the Author
Laurel Ann Reinhardt has been interested in alternative spirituality since her childhood. Her spiritual path has included: Christian Science, Congregational, Celtic/Druidic, the works of Seth/Jane Roberts, Parmahansa Yogananda, Jewish/Christian mysticism, and most recently the Diamond Path work of A.H. Almaas. Though some people may say that such spiritual eclecticism does not allow one to go deeply enough into any tradition, Laurel feels that a varied path is the way in which we will realize that all paths are really one. Laurel has two goddess-daughters; one aged twenty-one and one aged four. Seasons of Magic: A Girl's Journey grew out of experiences with her oldest goddess-daughter, and her fifteen years of participation in a women's cross-quarter day celebration group, of which she is a founding member. Laurel has a Ph.D. in psychology and is a practicing psychologist and writer. In her work as a psychologist, she uses dreamwork and ritual to help people listen deeply to themselves in order to reconnect with their soul dreams, those yearnings that give meaning and purpose to life. She also writes about the changing face of psychology and its relevance for today's world.
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Erin is curious about her family's practice of celebrating the changing of the seasons. In class she listens with interest as her friend Rachel explains why Christmas is so important to her family, and Erin discovers that she isn't sure why her family celebrates the Winter Solstice. Her mother suggests that she ask Evangeline, an elderly neighbor, to teach her about the seasonal changes and the magic within them.
Through her studies in the natural world of Mother Nature Erin discovers that with each celebration and changing season, she is changing in her relationships with others and with herself. She is learning about the world and people, and her family's religious beliefs. A particularly hard lesson is one which we could all use some help in dealing with, the death of a dear friend.
This book is a wonderful guide to the seasonal holidays, for children and adults alike. It is written in a gentle tone that makes it seem as if Evangeline is there for us all, and in a way, she is. It does not put down other religious beliefs but rather encourages an exploration of the similarities and differences between religions, all in a child's point of view.
At the end of the book is a specific guide to the Wheel of the Year and all of the holidays therein. It is a workbook to help guide the reader through an exploration of the seasons and includes a glossary of terms just to make things perfectly clear. Finally, Season's of Magic is the guide book you may have been looking for to help children embrace and celebrate the magic of the seasons in a heart touching and loving tale they can relate to.
The premise of the book is that the main character, Erin, raised in a Pagan family, is curious to learn more about the seasonal celebrations, and begins receiving instruction from an elderly friend. Reading the first couple chapters, it looked like Erin's story was sort of a gimmick to make the informational content more digestible for young people, which didn't strike me as terribly necessary or even very effectively done.
As I continued, though, I was pleasantly surprised to watch Erin's relationships with her friends change and grow. This theme is handled with a welcome, low-key realism, showing an awareness of human nature and the rhythms of life. Erin has non-Pagan friends, and this delicate issue is also handled in a positive, non-melodramatic way. Pagan interest in helping the environment is also conveyed with the same gentle practicality. By the middle of the book, I was appreciating it as a reading experience for myself, parenting thoughts aside.
Erin's wise-woman teacher dies before the wheel is completed. Erin, with the help of family and friends, makes contact with her again through a Samhain ritual, which closes the wheel and ends the story. Up to this point, the magic in the book had been essentially of the "natural" sort, the wonders of the changing seasons. This chapter, necessarily, presents Pagan magic in a more direct fashion, and it is wonderfully done. The depth of the experience is conveyed, without indulging in exaggeration that would prompt a young reader to see the book as a fantasy novel. Erin's reaction to the experience also seems very natural and genuine.
At the end of the book, after the story concludes, there is a nice compilation of informational matter relating to the wheel of the year, which a young person could actually use to develop their own appreciation of our sacred days.
This book does a fine job of conveying Pagan beliefs and practices as a natural and integral part of life. It might be a little too low-key for some kids, though, and kids older than the character in the book would probably prefer something more teen-focused. I would recommend it for ages 8-12. This is not by any means a great milestone of Pagan literature, but it is a nice addition to a family bookshelf, addressing an age group that has received too little attention from Pagan authors and publishers.
The story was fun and realistic, the characters were lovely. One point I really enjoyed was how down-to-earth the girls were at Hallowe'en. They made costumes out of regular clothes, nothing over the top or expensive. I appreciate that a lot!
The holiday calendar made more sense to my daughter after we read this book. That's what a good story can do; teach you and entertain you at the same time. I definitely recommend this book!