The Seasonal Soul is a book that focuses as much on presentation as on content. The pages are edged with black and there are black and white illustrations throughout. Some of them will call out to the coloring book lover within.
I fell in love with the book for its beauty alone the first time I laid eyes on it. I keep wanting it to be an illustrated journal and every time I browse through it I start getting ideas for gessoing over the pages and making an art journal of it. So much so that I actually misremembered it as a journal and was surprised when I picked it up to read through and it is very much not a journal, though it would make a lovely one. In fact, it has journal prompts at the end of the chapters but not enough space to use this book to fill them out.
The bulk of the text revolves around the four seasons, with smaller sections in the back full of reference pages for chakras and crystals. It’s set up like a quest or, as the author calls it, a choose your own adventure. Starting in winter and working through each season in order, the exercises are designed to hel you do inner work such as facing your shadow, developing your intuition, forgiving, and gaining clarity.
In truth, I don’t like the text of the book as much as I like the illustrations. I kind of wish it actually was a journal with maybe some tables of correspondences like the ones in the back. If that were the case, it would make a great foundation for creating your own book of shadows. As it is, it presents a lot of inner work without any indication of what tradition the author is working from or what gives her the authority to make sweeping statements about your soul, your purpose, and how best to align yourself with the universe. Chakras, of course, are borrowed from Hinduism, and other parts of the book, such as cutting energetic cords, appear to be borrowed from vaguely shamanistic rituals. There are also pages where the illustrations look sort of Native American. But none of this has any attribution. Not even a bibliography.
Even the correspondence tables themselves, my favorite part of the book, could have used a bibliography. Sure, maybe rose quartz really, “allows you to release heart traumas and emotional imbalances that may be affecting your external relationships and ability to create and manifest your dreams and desires.” But where did the author get the information? Did she compile it from books on gemstones? Sit and meditate on each stone until she came up with her own information on them? I seriously doubt the latter because it sounds a lot like the information found in existing books.
Just tell us where you learned what you know and why we should trust you to have accurate information. If you’re going to talk about my “inner landscape” and tell me I have a “soul contract” I’d love to know, “According to whom?” Psychology? A particular religion? The author herself? If it’s an amalgamation of what she’s learned from books, she should list them and if it’s all brand new information that she developed herself she should list her credentials or her process. Without that, it just seems too New Agey and shallow when it means to be deep.
In short, I love the aesthetic but I’m not that into the “journey of self-discovery.” I’m still considering using a light wash of gesso over the text and making a journal of it.
5 out of 5 stars for the illustrations; 3 out of 5 stars for the content
The Seasonal Soul: A Mystic’s Guide to Inner Transformation
Chronicle Books, 2019