Books to Heal, Energize, and Enchant: Mind, Body, Spirit Books 2021

Becca Anderson’s Let Us Give Thanks and Dr. Kac Young’s Magical Trees were included in Publishers Weekly’s recent Mind, Body & Spirit feature.

Isn’t everyone looking for healing and hope right now? Books in the mind-body-spirit category answer the call with encouragement, inspiration, and doorways to new perspectives on our lives and our future. Now, given the extraordinarily stressful events of 2020 and their lingering, unhappy impact on health, politics, and society, there’s a hunger for wisdom, comfort, peace of mind, and meaningful connections to the past and the present.

Sounds True senior editor Diana Ventimiglia says these are fitting times for books such as Shannon Kaiser’s Return to You: 11 Spiritual Lessons for Unshakable Inner Peace (Apr. 2022) because it is “very much rooted in the idea that there’s a higher power at work, something that’s greater than our sensory experience, and that we’re all connected through a divine nature.” She adds, “We’re ultimately not in control of our path. It’s been laid out for us, and each relationship, trauma, joy is part of that path.”

Heather Greene, acquisitions editor for Llewellyn, the new age house known for titles on astronomy, tarot, magic, and more, says, “Readers have been searching for ways to cope with the lockdown, illness, and emotional stress brought on by the pandemic.” Even as many places in the U.S. are beginning to see the promise of normalcy on the horizon, people are still looking for help. Greene notes that titles such as The Courageous Path to Healing: When Commitment to Yourself & Your Recovery Becomes Your Greatest Teacher (Apr. 2022) by yoga therapist and inspirational speaker Jennifer Kreatsoulas provide mindfulness and yoga-inspired practices that can guide people toward a way of healing.

The MBS reader seeks “practical tools that will help them to bring balance and awareness to their lives,” says Joel Fotinos, St. Martin’s Essentials publisher and editorial director. “We live in uncertain times, everything is changing constantly, and we look to these tools to help bring clarity and dispel some fear.” He sees growing interest in astrology, tarot, and divination decks; chakras; writing by shamans and psychics; and books on energy healing, such as Heal from Within by Katie Beecher (Feb. 2022). Beecher calls for using “the body’s energy grid and our higher consciousness to facilitate our physical and emotional healing,” Fotinos notes.

The occasional shot of humor helps, too. Author Amal Awad leavens her curious-but-respectful explorations of all things new age with a witty tone in her new book, In My Past Life I Was Cleopatra, coming from Murdoch in August (see our q&a with Awad, “A Seeker Finds ‘Good in the Land of Woo-Woo,’ ”). And one cannot help but smile at Pearls of Wisdom: Advice from a Dead Squirrel Who Knows Everything (Apollo, Nov.) when “psychic squirrel deity” Pearl—as channeled by author Georgette Spelvin—counsels someone whose shoulders ache, “Drop the rock.”

Healing by land or sea

MBS authors find resources for spiritual and physical nurturing everywhere: in herbs, oceans, and even the body’s own energy sources.

Inner Traditions’ imprint Bear & Company offers Journeys with Plant Spirits: Plant Consciousness Healing and Natural Magic Practices by Emma Farrell (Sept.). Farrell, a “plant spirit healer,” aims to show readers how to meditate with vegetation to cleanse their energy and calm their mind.

Fair Winds acquiring editor Jill Alexander points out that The Art & Practice of Spiritual Herbalism: Transform, Heal, and Remember with the Power of Plants and Ancestral Medicine (Feb. 2022) by Karen Rose, a Black herbalist and owner of Brooklyn-’s Sacred Vibes Apothecary, “presents the practice of herbalism from an Indigenous and BIPOC perspective that embraces those cultures” and deploys their wisdom for spiritual and physical healing.

In Awakening Artemis: Deepening Intimacy with the Living Earth and Reclaiming Our Wild Nature (Penguin Life, Dec.), eco-activist and herbalist Vanessa Chakour shows the relevance of plants’ “power and characteristics to issues we all grapple to heal from and even to understand,” according to the publisher.

And Energetic Herbalism: A Guide to Sacred Plant Traditions Integrating Elements of Vitalism, Ayurveda, and Chinese Medicine (Chelsea Green, Nov.) by Kat Maier, who started a center for herbal studies, offers a synthesis of healing traditions from myriad cultures.

Mango Publishing’s Magical Trees: A Complete Guide to the Lore Language and Healing Enchantment of Trees by Kac Young (Mar. 2022) catalogs the magic, symbolism, and healing properties contained in 50 different trees. Similarly, Nature’s Hidden Charms: 50 Signs, Symbols and Practices from the Natural World to Bring Inner Peace, Protection and Good Fortune (Welbeck, Oct.) by author and teacher Liz Dean promises to connect readers with Earth’s magic.

Most of the world is water, which can soothe, inspire, and offer spiritual meaning, according to surfer-turned-marine-scientist Easkey Britton, author of Ebb and Flow: How to Connect with the Patterns and Power of Water (Watkins, Apr. 2022).

Elyrria Swann, who says she makes spiritual connections with aquatic creatures by channeling their vibrations, strives to instruct readers to do the same in How to Become a Mermaid: Embodying the Elemental Energy of Water (Destiny, Dec.).

Lissa Rankin, a physician and mystic, pens a “spiritual adventure story” of her quest to find paths to hope and her efforts to foster health for people with illness and injury in Sacred Medicine: A Doctor’s Quest to Unravel the Mysteries of Healing (Sounds True, Apr. 2022), according to the publisher.

Learning to love oneself in one’s own skin and find spiritual strength within is the focus of The Wisdom of Your Body: Embodiment as the Road to Healing, Wholeness, and Connection (Brazos, Oct.) by Canadian psychologist Hillary L. McBride.

You’ve already got helping hands, literally, according to The Modern Guide to Mudras: Create Balance and Blessings in the Palm of Your Hands by Alexandra Chauran (Llewellyn, Nov.), which aims to teach readers “hand gestures for worship, meditation, spell casting, sacred movement, and ritual storytelling,” according to the publisher.

Psychologist Steve Taylor’s book, Extraordinary Awakenings: When Trauma Leads to Transformation (New World Library, Sept.), looks into cases of intense suffering—such as those caused by combat, incarceration, bereavement, encounters with death, and addiction—and describes spiritual awakenings that have taken place in the midst of them, according to the publisher.

Breathe in, breathe out, and rest

In a world of turmoil, titles featuring calls to rest and techniques for mindfulness, yoga, and meditation have high appeal. Bloomsbury imprint Green Tea is promoting Rest and Calm: Gentle Yoga and Mindful Practices to Nurture and Restore Yourself (May 2022) by restorative yoga teacher Paula Hines as a guide to slowing down “even when it feels impossible.” Sterling Publishing offers Rest Remedies (Apr. 2022) by meditation teacher Valerie Oula, who presents rituals to steer even insomniacs to dreamland.

Octavia F. Raheem, also a yoga teacher, offers restorative yoga methods in Pause, Rest, Be: Stillness Practices for Courage in Times of Change (Feb. 2022) from Shambhala. The publisher, known for its deep list of Buddhist titles, also brings out The Wakeful Body: Somatic Mindfulness as a Path to Freedom (Nov.) by Willa Blythe Baker, spiritual director of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston. Baker writes about the need to physically sense self-awareness and compassion because, “if truths that we know with the conceptual mind or that we glimpse with intuition do not make it down into the body and nervous system, we will not really live them.”

Some writers make their claims boldly. With Breathe Like a Badass: Beat Anxiety and Self Doubt, Calm Your Inner Critic & Build a No-Nonsense Mindfulness and Meditation Toolkit (Welbeck Balance, Dec.), meditation teacher and life coach Hannah Jane Thompson tells “how to start and stick to a non-woo-woo, scientifically based, zero-BS meditation habit that you can turn to again and again when life and work gets tough,” according to the publisher. Anna Marlis Burgard cuts to the chase for those in a hurry to shed their stress with Feel Free: 50 Ways to Let Go in as Little as Five Minutes (Mango, Feb. 2022).

Other authors take it slow. Abbeville Press suggests How to Live Like a Monk: Medieval Wisdom for Modern Life (Oct.), by historian and podcaster Danièle Cybulskie, which adapts the ways of monastic life to the modern search for peaceful, meaningful modern life.

Reimagining one’s life can be daunting for people confronting their elder years. Psychotherapist Connie Zweig’s new book, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul (Park Street, Sept.), offers diverse spiritual practices intended to help a person “emerge as an Elder filled with vitality and purpose,” according to the publisher.

Voices from beyond

Even as the pandemic has driven up global death tolls and riven millions with deeply personal grief, many don’t see death as the end. Fall and spring will bring several titles addressing what lies beyond the grave, as well as books by psychics and channelers.

In At Heaven’s Door: What Shared Journeys to the Afterlife Teach About Dying Well and Living Better (Simon & Schuster, Jan. 2022), therapist William J. Peters offers stories from people recounting their belief that they traveled along with someone who had died and shared moments of that person’s future.

Bestselling author and psychic Tyler Henry’s Here and Hereafter (St. Martin’s, Feb. 2022) uses knowledge gleaned in conversation with thousands of people who are on “the other side” to help readers bring “positive transformation to their lives,” the publisher says.

Mark Anthony, who trademarked himself as “the Psychic Lawyer,” touts in his book The Afterlife Frequency: The Scientific Proof of Spiritual Contact and How That Awareness Will Change Your Life (New World Library, Oct.) techniques for communicating through energy vibrations with spirits who “intervene to guide and protect their loved ones in our world,” according to the publisher.

One might make spiritual progress even while sleeping, according to dream expert, intuitive, and psychologist Athena Laz. Her book The Alchemy of Your Dreams: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Art of Lucid Dreaming and Interpretation (TarcherPerigee, Aug.) offers tools geared toward unraveling dreams’ meanings and unleashing their transformative powers, according to the publisher.

Ancient traditions

Publishers draw on authors worldwide for authentic voices who can connect long-honored cultures and traditions to the modern Western audience.

Weiser Books has two forthcoming titles that draw from Jewish tradition, not widely known for magick. The Sword of Moses (July 2022), written in the 11th or 12th century, has been updated by Harold Roth, owner of the online store Alchemy Works. Roth’s version, based on a 2012 translation by Israeli academic Yuval Harari, details “how to do the purification ritual, adjure the angels, and pronounce and use the divine names for each spell,” according to Weiser associate publisher Peter Turner. And Casting Lots: Ancient Hebrew Divination Magic (Jan. 2022) by teacher and speaker Elisheva Nesher, who follows an Israeli nature tradition, says lots can be used for divination, spell casting, meditation, and more.

Seren Bertrand looks to her own ancestral lineage of “old European witches and faery folk, spirit keepers, and story weavers” in Womb Shaman: Wisdom Teachings from the Feminine Path of Magic (Bear & Co., May 2022), which draws esoteric guidance from saints and goddesses worldwide, according to the publisher.

Gratitude and prayer

Yaddyra Peralta, associate editor at Mango Publishing, points out that amid the press’s many MBS titles advising different ways to make connections with the natural world and with readers’ communities, there’s a need for gratitude. She highlights Let Us Give Thanks: Graces, Blessings, and Prayers (Dec.) by Becca Anderson, who gathered graces from writers and thinkers from many traditions, including Anne Lamott, Thich Nhat Hahn, Alice Walker, and more.

Micah Bucey, associate minister at a New York City church, came out of the tumultuousness of 2020 praying for resilience, compassion, and justice. According to his publisher, Fordham University Press, he poured his thoughts on the “interdependence of the spiritual and the social” into The Book of Tiny Prayer: Daily Meditations from the Plague Year (Nov.).

Below, more on Mind, Body, Spirit Books.

A Seeker Finds “Good in the Land of Woo-Woo”: PW Talks with Amal Awad
Amal Awad, an Australian writer who says she’s seeking a “creative, hopefully healing path,” explored a vast array of new age experiences and came out with a book announcing, with a wink, ‘In My Past Life I Was Cleopatra: A Sceptical Believer’s Journey Through the New Age.’

Look Up, Look Inward, with Astrology: Mind, Body, Spirit Books 2021
Books that guide interpretation of the meaning and movements of heavenly bodies are a staple of the mind-body-spirit category.

Magic and MBS Go Hand-in-Hand: Mind, Body, Spirit Books 2021
Titles from pagans, shamans, and witches abound in the coming 12 months, meeting readers’ fascination with inexplicable powers, spells, rituals, and shields from harm.

Wise Voices Past and Present: Mind, Body, Spirit Books 2021
This fall and spring, the mind-body-spirit bookshelves will include ancient texts and renowned—even controversial—modern teachers and writers.

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