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Home > Books & Reviews > Pagan > Alchemy at Work Search

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Book Review:
Alchemy at Work: Using the Ancient Arts to Enhance Your Work Life

Author: Cassandra Eason
Trade Paperback, 329 pages
Publisher: Crossing Press
Publication date: 2004
List: US$14.95
ISBN: 1580911587
Price & More Info: Click Here

The title of this book is a bit of a misnomer, since the subject is actually about using innate psychic abilities in the workplace, and not about alchemy per se. Of course, if you perceive alchemy as being about personal transformation, it is a valid allusion, but the average reader would not be expected to be aware of that.

If you are interested in turning lead into gold in a literal sense, I'm afraid you will be disappointed with this current work. If, on the other hand you want to change your leaden existence into a shining, more beautiful and fulfilling one, you might well benefit from reading this book.

The author lives in the real world, and recognizes the problems inherent in it. So, she has designed this book with chapters which stand alone. You don't need to read it sequentially to get the full benefit.

In an unconventional move, Ms. Eason starts the book with an active lesson before teaching relaxation techniques. This is, in my opinion, one of the strong points of this book. Too many "self-help" books lose readers by boring them with theory before showing how the techniques will help. By devoting the first chapter to a technique which can show positive results from the start, she "sets the hook," as it were.

It does seem that I am starting to see more books on the subject of using magick in the workplace which, when I first began my studies was a concept which began my studies would have been taboo. Of course, there is no reason that the ethical use of magick to advance your career should be looked down upon.

Ms. Eason writes in a friendly tone, without any of the condescension which is so easy to encounter in the writings of many authors today. There is, however, a down-side to this in that she makes things so commonplace that there is no sense of awe left.. Granted, that sense of awe isn't necessary for the experienced worker, but it does help those who aren't so confident in themselves.

Another problem is not restricted to the writer of this book. I have read dozens of books recently which advocate the use of smudging with cedar and/or sage wands. While I am aware of the Native American background for smudging, I am also aware that many Native Americans frown on its use by non-natives. Censing with various incenses has been in common usage in the Western magickal community for decades, and is (in fact) the way I was trained. The use of smudge sticks in a non-Native American setting can be perceived as cultural theft, however, and should not, in my opinion, be encouraged.

The same holds true for the use of feng shui which is prevalent today. Ms. Eason gives a simplified method of understanding and using it, but my feeling is that more than a simplified understanding is necessary before putting it to use. I have been told by some folks that an understanding of why something works isn't required - just use what works.

That reminds me of a story I have heard several times of a mother preparing a ham dinner for her family. Before placing the ham in the oven she cut the ends off the ham. Her daughter asked why she did it. She explains that it was the way her mother did it. When the older woman is questioned, she explains that her mother did it that way. When she is questioned about the origin of the custom, she explains "The ham wouldn't fit into the pan otherwise." Knowing why something is done is important.

This book contains various forms of divination in general outlines (the author has also written The Complete Guide to Divination), several forms of psychic protection, as well as lists of crystals, basic universal meanings of symbols (although she is quick to remind the reader that there are also very personal meanings to be found for these symbols)., herbs, oils, incense and smudge sticks, as well as color meanings. All of this indicates that the real focus of this work is on using one's innate, untapped abilities to expand your capabilities.

Perhaps the subtitle of this book would have been more appropriate as the title: "Using the Ancient Arts to Enhance Your Work Life."

Reviewed by Mike Gleason

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