The last year has been challenging, to say the least. The pandemic’s impact on the world and on ourselves is still not fully known. Owl Magic, Your Guide Through Challenging Times by longtime Amsterdam Mamas contributor Mary Petiet, does not resist this truth. It embraces it! Can we find transformational magic in challenging times?
I start this review off with a disclosure: Mary Petiet and I have worked together at Amsterdam Mamas, and I consider her a friend. I have put off reviewing this book partially for this reason, and partially because I have been in pandemic survival mode, like everyone else. However, I gifted my yoga guide with a copy and she told me a few weeks ago how powerful she found it. So, inspired by her objective reaction, I decided to plunge in. After all, if “Times of change are the times of greatest transformation” why not be a part of it? I could stand some transformation.
What Is Owl Magic?
Owl Magic, Your Guide Through Challenging Times is described on its cover as a “… toolbox of simple anxiety-busting strategies designed to reveal your hidden power.”
“Times of change are the times of greatest transformation” – Mary Petiet
How does it attempt to do this? Inspired by the owl, with its distinctive physical and mythological qualities, Owl Magic present the reader with a new way of seeing their times and their lives. It is a unique blend of comfort and challenge. Petiet makes the case that the challenges and sufferings of this pandemic are not unique in the history of the world; the human world has turned upside down before. In such tumultuous times, old patterns are replaced with new ones, and the relationships between people and power, societal and personal, also change.
Thus the challenge Owl Magic issues, gently, is how we can use this time in our own lives to change our outworn personal patterns, and to tap into our own personal power centers.
Different aspects of the owl serve as the inspiration for each chapter:
- Wisdom and Connection
- Retelling Your Stories
- Transform Through Turmoil
- Assume Abundance
- Face Your Fear
- Plant the Seeds for Future Growth
- Become the Hero of Your Story
Each of the chapters contains a concise and accessible exploration of its theme. Some philosophy, history, and feminist theory provide a framework for the practical guidance which follows:
1) A specific yoga posture connected to the theme of each chapter is suggested and carefully explained. The postures, or asanas, are simple and basic – nothing that requires any training: Owl, Mountain, Warrior, Tree, etc. These postures take on a new life when you understand they are manifesting a psychological reality as much as a physical one.
2) After the yoga posture is a guided meditation: an interior journey within your own imagination, yet following a specific path. The mediations are creative, lovely, and relaxing. At first I found myself wishing they were audios so I didn’t have to keep opening my eyes to read the next instructions, but I got around this eventually by reading them thoroughly beforehand and committing them to memory.
3) Finally, the chapters end with writing prompts: several questions or instructions for personal journaling. The prompts are not threatening and are normally open-ended, such as:
- What kind of energy are you putting out?
- Retell your most important stories.
- What is the hardest gift you have ever given?
- Make a list of all the things you fear.
- If you met the Earth Mother, what would you tell her?
Owl Magic is a book best savoured over time rather than done quickly. It would be a wonderful basis for an individual or small group weekend retreat, but it could also serve really well if taken one chapter per week, or per month as desired. It depends on how deep you want to dive, the pace you want to go.
I don’t share all of Petiet’s perspectives on history, religion, women, or owls (!) and this gave me pause, but I was relieved that Owl Magic is in no way a diatribe. It is rather a quiet and compassionate invitation to self-reflection, growth, and capacity building – psychological, spiritual, and physical. And while it may feel particularly pertinent now, during this pandemic, our lives will continue to have their share of these challenging times and Owl Magic can be like an old and trusted friend, visited as often as needed.
Amsterdam Mamas received a free copy of this book in exchange for our honest review.
Photo Credit: Sea Crow Press
Anastasia Drost is a freelance editor and writer and former Editor in Chief of Amsterdam Mamas. She fell in love with this city thirty years ago and is now thrilled to call it home.