Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When Customers Ask, “What is Tantra?”

Dear Booksellers,

Many consumers see their community bookstore as a source of wisdom on a wide variety of metaphysical topics. Talking to a real, breathing person—an experienced, friendly, and knowledgeable bookseller—about these matters gives added value to the traditional shopping experience.   

Do customers come to you with questions about a particular subject? Maybe they only have a vague idea of what they are seeking and need to know more about a topic before taking the plunge.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you may notice more people interested in Tantra. We’ve invited Donald Michael Kraig to explain this ancient spiritual path and its relation to Tantric sex, so you’ll be prepared for any questions that come your way.

What is Tantra?
By Donald Michael Kraig

Sooner or later, any bookstore that focuses on spirituality is going to get questions about Tantra. Is it just weird sex stuff? Is it all in the Kama Sutra?

Because Tantra is thousands of years old, different versions have developed and each may have their own focus. In this article I’ll try to give an overview that can help you understand what Tantra is and why it’s a valuable spiritual path.

There is no universally accepted meaning of the word “Tantra.” A popular explanation is that it is a compound of two Sanskrit words, tan and tra, that translate as “warp” and “woof,” the directions of yarn in a loom. So Tantra could be seen to mean the loom of all reality.

This means Tantra covers everything—all the physical and spiritual sciences. What Tantra uniquely does is explore all of these things in a unified way from the point of view of the individual. “How does this apply to me?” is the question answered by Tantra.

The result is that the spiritual and the physical are united in Tantra. Virtually all of the spiritual and physical concepts that are thought to come from India—chakras, kundalini, karma, spiritual bodies, prana, etc.—originated in Tantra.

The word yoga means “union,” implying a union with the Divine. (What most people call yoga—the moving of the body into different positions—is just one form of yoga.) Tantra Yoga is about the union of the individual with the Divine through understanding and working with the combined non-physical and physical worlds.

During the earliest period of our lives we have to learn to exist in the physical world, a necessity for survival that affects our bodies, minds and spirits. To learn Tantra you first unlearn almost everything and relearn a new way of thinking about ourselves and the world, a way free of artificial limitations we placed upon ourselves as we learned to survive.

This new way begins by understanding that everything is made of energy. This ancient Tantric concept is now a basis of modern science. Learning to understand and work with that energy results in learning about our physical and spiritual bodies, different forms of energy, the chakras, and how that energy interacts with the physical world.

Tantric Sexuality
One of the ways to work with this energy is through sexual activity. Certain sexual practices result in the movement of spiritual energy. But it takes more than just having sex to become enlightened! Tantric sexuality involves unlearning common sexual practices and learning new ones based on:

•    A deep understanding of the physical body
•    Intention
•    Visualization and
•    Spiritual awareness of the energy triggered by sex

There is an archetypal story of a couple immediately after sex. She wants to talk and cuddle while he rolls over and falls asleep. He’s expended energy and she’s absorbed it. With the techniques of Tantric sex anyone can learn to harness that energy and use it to achieve goals. Traditionally, the primary goal is to direct this energy through the non-physical body resulting in yoga—unity with the Divine—enlightenment.

These practices started to become popular in the West in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the books on Tantric sex—more accurately called Neo-Tantra—are written by students of Baghwan Sri Rajneesh (AKA Osho).

Part of Tantric sex involves extended periods of ecstatic sexual activity. It’s possible to separate this from the more spiritual aspects of Tantra, and that has attracted the attention of many pleasure seekers.

War of the Tantrics?
You should be aware that some followers of Neo-Tantra don’t like those who focus on traditional Tantra. Likewise, some Traditional Tantrics don’t like the sexual focus of the Neo-Tantrics. Being aware of the interests of your customers can help you make recommendations that will fit their specific needs. Having the attitude that both Traditional and Neo-Tantra have value, and we can learn from both paths, may be the ideal approach.


Suggestions for a Valentine’s Day display:

The Essence of Tantric Sexuality
Mark A. Michaels, Patricia Johnson

Tantra for Erotic Empowerment
:The Key to Enriching Your Sexual Life
Mark A. Michaels, Patricia Johnson

Sex and Transcendence: Enhance Your Relationships Through Meditations, Chakra & Energy Work

Keith Sherwood

Love and Intuition: A Psychic’s Guide to Creating Lasting Love
Sherrie Dillard

Sex Magic for Beginners: The Easy & Fun Way to Tap into the Law of Attraction
Skye Alexander


Donald Michael Kraig is the author of Modern Magick and Modern Sex Magick. He writes The Magical Universe blog and teaches courses in the Southern California area on such topics as Kabbalah, tarot, magic, tantra, and psychic development. He has been a member of many spiritual and magical groups and is an initiated Tantric.

Donald Michael Kraig on His Favorite Bookstore:
“I literally grew up at the Bodhi Tree in West Hollywood. They have in-depth sections on every metaphysical topic. Here’s hoping new owners will make it even greater!”


Do you have any special requests for a blog post? Want to hear from a specific author on a particular topic? Please let us know!

Banishing the Post-Holiday Blues

Hi Booksellers,

I’ll just go ahead and say it: I am not a winter person. I don’t ski, skate, or sled. I don’t cheer for snow (because I know I’ll be seeing it for months). And I have yet to become friendly with Minnesota’s subzero temps. In short, I’m a winter Grinch. And I suspect I’m not alone.

How do I deal with it? I’d love to tell you that I practice yoga regularly. The truth is I rely on long, hot baths, books, and ice cream to get me through to April. And commiserating with friends helps, too!

If January and February are your least favorite months, check out this great article about beating back the winter doldrums. Kerri Connor, author of Spells for Tough Times, offers simple, magical ways to lift your mood, maintain cheer long after the holidays have ended, and spread the sunshine to your coworkers and customers.

Banishing the Post-Holiday Blues
By Kerri Connor

With the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping over, it’s the time of year when sales slow down and returns increase. For those working in retail, it may mean spending more time with your coworkers, rearranging displays, pulling stock to return for credit, and reorganizing.

After the holidays, you may notice that people are more easily depressed, distracted and disgruntled. Everyone has bills to deal with and perhaps other after holiday stressors, as well. It’s no longer the “happiest time of the year.”

The people you work with are going through the same thing, but we all often forget we aren’t the only one in the boat. You can help yourself (and by extension) your coworkers, through this bump in the road with a couple of simple magical workings.

Uplift Your Spirit
You can easily uplift your spirit and the spirits of those around you simply by adding certain scents to your everyday life. Don’t worry about running out and buying some expensive new perfumes. All you need is a couple of drops of essential oil, distilled water, and some kind of a spray bottle. (You can use an empty hair spray bottle if you have one; just rinse both it and the pump really well first.) Add the distilled water to the bottle along with about 5-10 drops of any of the following essential oils. (If you don’t have any of these oils, ask around! Maybe one of your friends does.) Feel free to combine oils to create a whole new scent:
  • bergamot for peace and happiness
  • lavender for peace and happiness
  • basil to promote sympathy, happiness and peace
  • neroli for happiness
  • ylang-ylang for peace
Each day as you are getting dressed for work, spray some of the mixture through your hair and on your skin. As you do so, say:   
These elements I combined
to do magic indeed
Fill me with peace and happiness
and negativity will have no grasp on me.
Allow this scent to work in the minds of all who inhale their beauty.
Let the scent work its power on you. Let it calm you, soothe, you, bring you peace and happiness. Let your positive attitude be an example for everyone else you work with. Good attitudes are just as contagious as poor attitudes. Let your attitude infect the people around you.

Bake Contentment
The sense of smell is strongly tied to emotions and feelings. When combined with the sense of taste, the effect can be overpowering. These cookies encourage peace, happiness and calmness through both their scent and their delicious sweet taste. Allow the lavender to do its work and calm and soothe the emotions of your coworkers.  Not to mention, people love surprises.

Lavender Cookies 
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons finely chopped lavender flowers
1½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Lavender crystallized sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients until well blended. As you mix the ingredients together, infuse the dough with positive energies. Project your good wishes for your coworkers into the dough. Drop by a teaspoon onto an ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with the lavender crystallized sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes.
Show up to work with a platter of these cookies to help bring some camaraderie to the break room that will overflow onto the sales floor.

Accentuate the Positive
You can use affirmations to help boost your own contentment, which serves as an example for others. Or perhaps encourage the inclusion of simple affirmations in morning meetings so everyone can start the day on the right foot.

Some affirmations to try include:
  • I am at my best. My work is at its best.
  • Together our team succeeds.
  • I am at peace. I am content. I am happy to help others.
  • I keep my relationships at work positive and trusting.
  • When times are tough, we pull together to help one another.

These affirmations can be used either by yourself or in groups. The more coworkers you can get to work with them, the better, but don’t try to force them on anyone. Let anyone who wants to participate do so, soon no one will want to be left out.

When you combine good intentions with a touch of magic, you can help to turn even the most unpleasant of work places into a goal oriented team that works together for the betterment of the business, and each other.

Spells for Tough Times
Available February 2012
Kerri Connor (Chicagoland, IL) is the author of Spells for Tough Times (February 2012). She is the High Priestess of The Gathering Grove, and has been practicing her craft for twenty-five years. She is the author of three other books of magic, and her writing has appeared in The Blessed Bee, Sage Woman, PanGaia, and New Witch. She runs The Pagan Review, a website that provides reviews of Pagan products. She also recently started Nurturing Necessities, a non-profit charitable organization.

Kerri Connor on Her Favorite Bookstore:
Kerri Connor, a former Border’s addict, now frequents Howl at the Moon in Richmond, Illinois.


Anyone else have ideas for beating back the winter blues? Please share!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lo Scarabeo Pendulums, Runes, and Tarot Bags Make Great Stocking Stuffers!

The holiday season is upon us—a time for family, a time for friends, and a time for giving gifts. Ahh, the gift giving. Have your customers asked for suggestions for that someone who has everything? Looking for something with which to stuff your own Yuletide stockings?

Lo Scarabeo makes a number of pendulums, runes, tarot bags, tarot cloths, and notebooks/journals (in addition to their numerous tarot decks) that not only make great gifts, but great stocking stuffers! Look no further for the perfect, stocking-sized giftables.

Pendulums are amazing tools for divination, dowsing, and answering questions relating to love, work, health, money, and much more. Not only abundantly useful, Lo Scarabeo pendulums are also eye-catchingly beautiful. Pictured at left is the Amethyst Chakra Pendulum; you can view all available pendulums here (note: you must log in to your account to view page).


Rune sets will bring new energy to divination, magic, and meditation practices. Sacred runic symbols have been carved into varying stones, making these exquisite runes magical as well as beautiful.  At left are the Amethyst Runes; you can view all available runes here (note: you must log in to your account to view page).

Tarot Bags:
Attractive and useful, tarot bags are an ideal way to safely store and protect valuable tarot decks. Pictured is the Rose in Hand satin tarot bag; you can view all available tarot bags here (note: you must log in to your account to view page).

Tarot Cloths:

Explore the many uses of these beautiful velvet cloths from Lo Scarabeo! Featuring embroidered symbols from various traditions, these multi-purpose cloths are ideal for altars, divination practice, ritual, meditation, and home decoration. Pictured at left is the Pentacle Velvet Cloth; you can view all available tarot cloths here (note: you must log in to your account to view page).

Note boxes:

These decorative note boxes from Lo Scarabeo bring a touch of elegance to any living space. Perfect for home or the office, it comes with blank paper for jotting down phone messages, reminders, to do lists, and anything else on your mind. Or try using this beautiful box to store a favorite tarot deck, jewelry, photos, souvenirs, runes, or any other mementos that deserve a special place.  Pictured is the Fairy Note Box; also available are the Cat Note Box and the Pagan Note Box.


As a dream diary, sketchbook, or Book of Shadows, these gorgeous journals are the perfect place to record ruminations, insights, and experiences. Pictured is the Stars Journal; you can view all available journals here (note: you must log in to your account to view page).

Google eBooks™ "How-To" Flier Now Available

Having trouble market eBooks to confused buyers? Have questions about downloading Google eBooks™ onto different e-readers? The American Bookesellers' Association (ABA) has created a "how-to" flier that provides customers with step-by-step instructions for the entire Google eBooks™ process. 

Download your flier and get more information about marketing Google eBooks™ here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Free Tools for Small Business Saturday, November 26

The second annual Small Business Saturday, November 26, is right around the corner! This initiative urging shoppers to support their small businesses is gaining traction. So far, over two million people on Facebook have “liked” Small Business Saturday.

The Small Business Saturday website offers a wealth of free tools to promote your business and gear up for the big day. There’s in-store signage and e-marketing materials, such as logos and e-mail templates. Also provided are easy ways to rally your customers through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and YourBuzz.

Are you doing anything special for the biggest shopping weekend of the year? Please tell us.

Booksellers Give Tips for Promoting eBooks

Bookselling This Week, the free weekly e-newsletter of the American Booksellers Association (ABA), recently talked to several booksellers about eBook marketing.

“The best approach to promoting e-books is multiple approaches — feature them in general and targeted electronic and print newsletters, advertise online and in-store, train staff, and “just be relentless”— is the collective opinion of booksellers who recently talked to Bookselling This Week about e-book marketing — Paul Hanson of Village Books, Christie Olson Day at Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle’s Children’s Books, and Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books.”

Here are some highlights from the article “Booksellers Share Best Practices for Promoting E-Books” by Karen Schechner.

Elect an “eBook answer guru” who can work one-on-one with customers to answer questions, set up their e-reader, and download their first book.

Host eBook and eReader discussions for answering questions and exchanging ideas.

Spread the word. Talk face to face with customers about eBooks. Create in-store handouts and bookmarks to start conversations with customers.

Provide published reviews of eReading devices.

Post signs and fliers promoting eBooks. Highlight well-priced titles with QR codes.

Have any tips to share? Please chime in!

Eye of Horus and Other Indie Stores Embrace eBooks

eBooks have become a force to be reckoned with.

To be honest, I still like to read the old-fashioned way. But there’s an undeniable growing population of folks who are embracing digital books. As a result, more and more independent bookstores are starting to sell eBooks and eReaders. In fact, Eye of Horus, a metaphysical store in Minneapolis, Minnesota, opened their new eBookstore this month.

Since Google eBooks ™ launched their e-book program last December, over 250 independent bookstores have started selling their digital books. This article from IndieBound explains why Google eBooks are indie store friendly.

“A Google eBook is a new form of cloud-based digital book that allows readers to access their libraries on almost any device from one single repository, regardless of where the e-book was purchased. ABA has partnered with Google because of its open and accessible platform so ABA member bookstores can provide an easy way for their customers to discover, read, and buy e-books at competitive prices.”

Are you currently selling eBooks or considering it? Do you have concerns about plunging into the eBook marketplace?  Please let us know!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mark Anthony and the Haunted White House

Mark Anthony
Author of Never Letting Go
Is the White House haunted?

There have been stories floating around for more than a century about the ghosts who may inhabit our nation’s capitol, including Abraham Lincoln’s spirit and the ghost of his son, Willie Lincoln. On October 31st, Never Letting Go author Mark Anthony, a psychic medium, visited the Washington, D.C. NBC affiliate to discuss the haunted history of the White House.

Visit the NBC Washington website to watch the video, or view it below.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Deonna Kelli Sayed on Coast to Coast AM: America’s Paranormal Obsession

Browse inside the book
and read an excerpt.
Why are we so captivated by spirits, ghost hunting, and all things otherworldly?

Last Saturday, paranormal investigator and researcher Deonna Kelli Sayed joined Ian Punnett to discuss this very question on Coast to Coast AM.

Listen to the podcast.

Sayed is the author of Paranormal Obsession, just released this fall. It’s the first book to explore our nation’s insatiable interest in the creepy and unexplained.

Deonna Kelli Sayed, the author
of Paranormal Obsession
What does our fixation on ghostly activity says about American culture? Sayed offers compelling insight based on her interviews with ghost hunters, religious figures, scientists, academics, and cast members of the popular TV shows “Ghost Hunters” and “Paranormal State.” 

Paranormal Obsession also highlights the author’s investigation of the USS North Carolina, the most haunted battleship in the United States.

Coast to Coast AM airs on more than 500 stations in the U.S. and is heard by nearly three million weekly listeners.

A Video History of Llewellyn's 110 Years

The cake at the Llewellyn's
anniversary party didn't last long!

It’s been an exciting year. As you may know, 2011 marked Llewellyn’s 110th anniversary.

We celebrated in a variety of ways. In addition to Twitter parties, we hosted a real-life party at our offices here in Woodbury, Minnesota, last month. There were authors signing books, tours of the building, and experts giving tarot readings. Carl Weschcke, co-owner and chairman of Llewellyn, also gave a great speech.

Carl and other authors signed and gave away
books at the party.

Today the Minneapolis Star Tribune published a feature article on Carl Weschcke. “A Supernatural Plan” appeared in the newspaper’s business section. Carl talks about what first sparked his interest in the metaphysical, his dream to become a publisher, how Llewellyn has weathered the Great Recession, and more.

In the article, Joseph A. Amara, vice president of business development and an owner of Magus Books, and Steve Madson, co-owner of the Bodhi Tree book shop in California, share their thoughts on Llewellyn titles.

Now, we are excited to share with you a video history of Llewellyn’s 110 years!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Medium Mark Anthony on Coast to Coast AM

Author and medium
Mark Anthony
I’m excited to announce that Mark Anthony, author of Never Letting Go, will be on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory on October 26th. He’ll discuss how the paranormal and supernatural have actively altered history, and influenced world leaders who have consulted various psychics, mediums and astrologers.

A practicing lawyer for over two decades, Mark Anthony is also a gifted medium who has worked with thousands of clients. In Never Letting Go, he shares incredible true stories of contact with spirits and their enduring messages of forgiveness, gratitude, and acceptance. Compelling, comforting, and inspiring for those of all backgrounds and faiths, this book offers true healing through messages of hope from the Other Side.

Coast to Coast AM airs on more than 500 stations in the U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico, and Guam, and is heard by nearly three million weekly listeners. It is the most listened to overnight radio program in North America.

Coast to Coast AM
Spirit Consultations
October 26, 2011
10:00pm — 2:00am Pacific Time
Host:    George Noory
Guest:    Mark Anthony

Never Letting Go
by Mark Anthony

Praise for Never Letting Go:

“This deep, emotionally touching book is destined to become a metaphysical classic.” —Joyce Keller, author of Seven Steps to Heaven

“An enlightening journey through coping with grief and discovering spiritual renewal. I highly recommend this book!
—Jeffrey A. Wands, author of Another Door Opens 

Browse inside and read an excerpt.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Enjoy A Ten-Minute Bliss Break This Holiday Season

The holiday season is notoriously stressful, though it needn't be. Kala Ambrose, author of The Awakened Aura: Experiencing the Evolution of Your Energy Body, shares guidance on how to stay calm and collected this holiday season.

For other ways to combat holiday stress, check out "Joy to the Store: 5 Keys to a Happy, Sane, and Prosperous Holiday Season" by Tess Whitehurst and "Merry Blissmas: The Key to a Stress-Free Holiday" by Andy Baggott.

'Tis the holiday season, and while we’re reminded to be of good cheer, for most of us it is the most stressful time of the year. We organize, making our lists and checking them twice, but the one thing most of us forget about is taking time to care for ourselves during the hectic holiday rush.

A growing number of physicians are suggesting meditation as a holistic practice to relieve stress. It's exciting to see this form of mind, body, and spirit healing given the credence and attention it deserves. For those who have never tried to meditate, the idea of sitting in an uncomfortable position in complete silence is enough to discourage even the slightest attempt. This does not have to be the case, as there is a meditation practice suitable for each type of person.

Interested? Here are a few suggestions to get you started on a meditation practice of your own.

First, begin by disregarding any preconceived notions you have about meditation and how it is supposed to work. The key is to create a practice that feels right for you.

One of the easiest ways to do this, is to adopt a simple ten-minute meditation practice which I like to call…

Ten-Minute Bliss Breaks

Step One:
Create a Routine
Establish a set time for your meditation, such as early in the morning to set the tone for the day, or before bedtime to open your mind to a relaxing dream state.

Step Two: Don't Forget to Breathe
Crucial in any meditation practice is the breath. Slow, deep, methodical breathing will relax the body and bring in oxygen to both the lungs and blood stream. It also helps retain focus and awareness.

Step Three: Give It Some Time
At first it may feel difficult to relax and quiet the mind. If you're finding it hard to concentrate on nothing, you may prefer to explore creative visualizations.

Creative Visualizations
Athletes are taught to visualize a positive outcome and imagine the feeling they will experience when winning the game. This same technique can be used for your meditation, by using your imagination to create a sacred space, which becomes your private sanctuary and retreat.

As you begin to meditate, picture a peaceful scene that you find relaxing, such as a garden. Build this scene in your mind so that it is a warm and welcoming space for you to visit, adding beautiful details such as a bench where you will sit in the garden. Listen to the birds chirping, and notice the soft breeze blowing through the trees. Breathe in slow and exhale fully, releasing the air from deep within you. Feel the warmth of the sun caressing your face. Relax. Slip off your shoes, flex your toes, and sink your feet into the soft grass. As you breathe in again, take notice of the flowers in bloom as their fragrance fills the air. Spend some time in your garden, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.

While in your garden you can let go of whatever is troubling you. You may choose to invite someone to sit with you on the bench who will listen as you share your thoughts and concerns. You might create a lake around the garden or a waterfall, and as you swim, you release all of your cares into the water and watch as they float away. Perhaps a pet from your childhood joins you in the garden and you spend time playing with them, forgetting your concerns of the day.

Continue building this garden in greater detail until you see it fully in your mind and know it well. Then claim this scene as your sacred space. Know that you can return there anytime, all you need to do is to sit quietly, breathe deeply and imagine this scene in your mind.

Practiced often, meditation and creative visualization can make a significant impact on your day and create a sense of relaxation and well-being.

Create a ten-minute bliss break that's right for you and as the holidays heat up, you'll be cool, calm, relaxed and ready to enjoy the season.


As host of the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show (www.ExploreYourSpirit.com) and author of The Awakened Aura: Experiencing the Evolution of Your Energy Body, Kala Ambrose's wisdom teachings are described as discerning, empowering, and inspiring. On a mission to educate, entertain, and inspire, Kala presents workshops nationally on the Mind/Body/Spirit connection at the Omega Institute, the Learning Annex, LilyDale Assembly, and online via the Daily Om and John Edward’s Infinite Quest.

Kala on her favorite bookstores:
"My favorite bookstores all share a common trait. They entice and lure me in with a whisper which says, 'Something magical awaits you here.'"

Merry Blissmas: The Key to a Stress-Free Holiday

Of course, the holidays can be stressful for anyone. But for retailers, it’s nothing short of madness.

Back when I was a bookseller, the December chaos usually got the best of me. Helping customers nonstop, answering the endlessly ringing phone, and cleaning up a huge mess at the end of it all nearly drained my holiday spirit. In short, I took up smoking.

But there's a better way to deal with holiday stress, right?

Andy Baggott, author of Blissology: The Art & Science of Happiness, shares guidance on how to keep your cool throughout the busy holiday season.

For other ways to combat holiday stress, check out "Joy to the Store: 5 Keys to a Happy, Sane, and Prosperous Holiday Season" by Tess Whitehurst and "Enjoy A Ten-Minute Bliss Break This Holiday Season" by Kala Ambrose.

Merry Blissmas: The Key to a Stress-Free Holiday
by Andy Baggott

For many people in the book trade, holiday time means extra work and lots of stress. But stress doesn’t have to get us down if we have the tools to handle it. Often the simplest things are the most effective.

Here is a quick tool that is guaranteed to make coping with any stressful situation a little easier. It’s an ancient Taoist breathing technique that helps the body to relax and the mind to become clearer. I call it “Three relaxing breaths,” and you can use it whenever to meet a stressful situation.

Exercise: Three relaxing breaths
  1. Sit or stand with your mouth closed and your tongue gently resting on your upper palate.
  2. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose. Breathe right down into your abdomen, feeling it expand your lungs completely.
  3. Hold the breath for a moment.
  4. Exhale slowly through your nose. As you exhale, imagine any stress flowing easily out of your body.
  5. Hold your lungs empty for a moment.
  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 twice.
  7. Say to yourself, “I am calm and alert.”
Another useful anti-stress tool is to activate your own imagination to envision a quick and easy solution to the problem causing you stress. Rather than worrying, imagine yourself easily connecting with a solution. We tend to attract situations that match our feelings. So when we imagine connecting with solutions that feel good, we are far more likely to find this mirrored in our lives. Here’s a story that demonstrates just how powerful this can be.

Imagine you own a highly successful independent bookstore. You not only sell new books, but also deal in rare books. You have a great team working for you and the star of your company is Helen. She is passionate about books and has an amazing ability to track down rare books with consummate ease. No matter how rare the book, Helen always comes through and finds a copy quickly and efficiently.

One morning, right in the middle of a very busy holiday season, you get a telephone call from your best customer. He is a rare book collector. Over the years, he has spent many thousands of dollars on books Helen has found for him. This morning he says that he wants to buy his wife an exceedingly rare book and that he needs it within 72 hours. This means that you will have to locate the book today and have it couriered overnight. “No problem,” you say with complete confidence, “I’ll get Helen on it straight away.”

You know Helen loves a challenge and so you dial her extension to tell her the good news. There’s no answer. You walk to her office and discover that, for the first time ever, she has not turned up to work. Suddenly you are faced with a challenge. You do not want to let down your best customer, but cannot see how to locate this book without your star worker. At this point you have a clear choice. Either you step into trust or take hold of anxiety.

Here’s how stepping into trust might feel: “Well this is interesting,” you say to yourself. You go back to your office, sit for a moment and take three relaxing breaths. Then, trusting in your own resourcefulness, you imagine a solution coming to you in an unexpected and thrilling way. “Wouldn’t it be great if I managed to locate this book quickly and easily even without Helen’s help?”

You know that the better you feel, the quicker solutions manifest; so next you decide to connect with some good feelings. You think about the holidays last year. You had such a great time visiting friends in that quaint little town. You recall the feasting and laughter and then you remember the trip you all took to the mall. “Around the corner was that lovely antiquarian bookshop. It had some real gems.”

At that moment, a crazy, delicious thought pops into your head. “I wonder . . . no that would be too fantastic . . . yet, I wonder if they have a copy of the book I am looking for?” You find the number, call the shop and amazingly they have the book. You arrange to have it collected later that morning and then phone your customer back to tell him the good news.

Outcome: Total success with absolute ease
Stress caused: 0/10
Time taken: 15 minutes

This is the potential we can tap into every time we face a challenge. If we relax and trust in our own magnificence, remarkable and magnificent solutions come running to find us. However, many people choose a different path.

Here’s how taking hold of anxiety might feel:

“Oh my goodness!” you think, “Where the hell is Helen? How can she do this to me? I hate it when people let me down.” You spend the next hour trying to find Helen. You ask all your staff, you phone her home, you even track down her boyfriend but nobody knows where she is. Finally you reluctantly accept that you are going to have to solve this problem yourself.

You go onto Helen’s computer and email all the rare book dealers in her contact list. You impatiently sit for an hour waiting for an answer to come, all the time worrying more and more that you might fail. When no replies arrive, you decide that the only way you will find this book is if you phone every dealer one by one.

You spend the next 6 hours on the phone getting more and more stressed as each hour passes. You miss your lunch, other work begins to pile up and you start to feel overwhelmed. Right at the end, when you have decided that you will never find that damn book, you make one final call. To your great relief, the dealer has a copy. You arrange for it to be picked up and then phone your customer back to tell him the good news.

Although you feel relieved, you also feel a tinge of anger. “The universe has a twisted sense of humor,” you say to yourself. “How irritatingly ironic that the place I found the book was in the very shop I visited on my last holiday."

Outcome: Total success after a lot of hard work
Stress caused: 10/10
Time taken: 8 hours

You never need to work hard to find a solution. If you relax and trust in yourself, a solution will always come and find you. What you attract into your life is always a match to the feelings you hold within you. When you consistently connect with good feelings, every solution to every problem arrives in a thrilling and delicious way. This is the potential of every human being.

So the next time you face a challenge, rather than getting stressed, why not take three relaxing breaths and step into trust. You will be surprised at just how much fun you can have watching the solution arrive gracefully at your feet.

Happy holidays!!


The Art & Science
of Happiness
Andy Baggott is a healer, a spiritual teacher, and the author of Blissology: The Art & Science of Happiness. He runs a busy healing practice from his home in England, lectures, and teaches, and has been interviewed on television and radio. For more information, visit him online.

Andy Baggott on his favorite metaphysical store:
My favorite metaphysical bookstore is Watkins in London - I used to visit it regularly when first on my path and found some really great books there.

Please tell us your own strategies—good and bad—for getting through the holiday madness. A relaxing bubble bath? Swapping stories over apps and beer with co-workers? Popping chocolate throughout the day? Zoning out to re-runs of “The Office?" 

Joy to the Store: 5 Keys to a Happy, Sane, and Prosperous Holiday Season

The holiday season is just around the corner, a time of hustle and bustle mixed with joy and togetherness. It is too easy to let the stress of the holiday season overwhelm us and detract from the happiness and joy we are sharing with others. Here, author Tess Whitehurst offers 5 keys to a happy, sane, and prosperous holiday season.

For other ways to combat holiday stress, check out "Merry Blissmas: The key to a stress-free holiday" by Andy Baggott and "Enjoy A Ten-Minute Bliss Break This Holiday Season" by Kala Ambrose. 

For retailers, the holiday rush can be bittersweet. In other words, there’s the overwhelming stress on one hand (bitter), and the increased cash flow on the other (sweet). But you’re not just any retailer, are you? You’re a retailer that sells books for the body, mind and spirit. As such, you can employ some subtle energetic tricks to enhance the cash flow, curb the stress, and generally keep the merriness and good cheer flowing in and around your place of business. For example…

Let There Be (Himalayan Salt) Light
Lighting a lamp or candleholder made from Himalayan crystal salt promotes calm and serenity by curbing the excess energy generated by stress. In addition to bringing these benefits to you and anyone else who may be working at the store, this will soothe your customers, consequently enticing them to stay longer and peruse more thoroughly. You might place one near the cash register and/or in strategic places throughout the store.

Walk in a (Clutter-Free) Winter Wonderland
Naturally, you’ll have more stuff (i.e. inventory, paperwork, etc.) in your store this time of year. This means that it will be especially important to clear and organize. For your customers, this will help create the optimum shopping experience. For your staff, this will help facilitate efficiency and a sustainably positive outlook. Your clearing and organizing efforts may include:
  • Shredding extra documents in the office and organizing the filing cabinets
  • Organizing inventory
  • Removing extras from the sale floor in order to clear the space for the items you want to prominently feature
  • Making sure that customers can easily and comfortably meander through all the areas of the store
  • Removing excessive items from around the vicinity of the front door in order to entice customers in and make the transition from outside to inside more uplifting and inspiring
(Mist) the Halls with (Essence) of Holly
Holly essence, the Bach © flower remedy, is especially appropriate for the dark time of year, as it helps keep the heart open and the spirits high. It also lends itself to the types of expansive and liberal holiday shopping habits that will bring prosperity to you, joy to your customers, and, eventually, happiness to the objects of their generosity. I suggest putting four drops of it in a mister of spring water along with four drops of Bach Rescue Remedy © (for general stress) and 10-20 drops essential oil of pine (for clarity, energy, and abundance). Close the lid, shake, and mist the store before opening and at intervals throughout the day.

(Clear the Space with) Silver Bells
To keep the energy in your store fresh and clear, to welcome in abundance, and to set the stage for a harmonious and successful work day, you might like to simply ring a bell or a chime before opening the doors in the morning. As you do so, you might move throughout the store and envision your intentions for the day traveling outward with the sound, infusing the space with their vibrations.

(Invite in the) Good Tidings
Then, once you do open the doors, I suggest standing at the threshold, facing out, and saying a quick invitation to abundance and blessings of all kinds. For example, you might like to hold your arms slightly away from your body, palms facing out, close your eyes, and say or think something like:

We are open to blessings and abundance.
We welcome in positivity,
We welcome in joy,
We welcome in a happy and prosperous day,
And we give thanks for our infinite good fortune.

Tess Whitehurst is the author of Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home and the very soon-to-be-released Good Energy Book: Creating Harmony and Balance for Yourself and Your Home. Visit her at www.tesswhitehurst.com.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Who’s Ready for Paperless Catalogs?

How do you feel about using digital catalogs?
What would you prefer: a traditional print catalog or a digital reference of new releases?

The debate over catalogs flared up recently when Random House announced that two of its catalogs will become paperless.

In Karen Schechner’s article “Random House Catalogs to Go Paperless,” Ruth Liebmann, vice president, director, and account marketing at Random House, Inc., says that the digital catalog will be “more up-to-the-minute, and thus more viable, practical, and useful.”

She also emphasizes that booksellers will have the latest information on publicity plans, marketing promotion, cover art, and more.

HarperCollins made the leap to digital catalogs back in 2009. According to Publishers Weekly, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster will switch to digital catalogs in spring 2012.

Now there’s an online service that offers access to publishers’ electronic catalogs. Above the Treeline’s Edelweiss allows retailers, librarians, the media, and publishing professional to browse electronic catalogs for free.

There seems to be a lot of benefits to electronic catalogs. But are they truly easier for booksellers? Are there drawbacks to digital catalogs? Please let us know what you think!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Make Your Halloween Event a Howling Success: Tips from Annie Wilder

Halloween is a great time to host a store event. Whether you want to plan a spooky reading by a local author or coordinate a ghost hunting workshop, there’s a lot of fun ways to make the most of the season.

Author Annie Wilder has participated in scads of store events for her books House of Spirits and Whispers and Spirits Out of Time. Here, she talks about a few key ways to make events engaging and dynamic, so that customers will be encouraged to ask questions and interact with the author.

Annie Wilder
Three Simple Tips for a Hosting a Howlingly Successful Halloween Event at Your Store
By Annie Wilder

Having lived in a haunted house for seventeen years, I’ve encountered animated ghosts, furtive shadow beings, stationary images from the past, disembodied voices, seemingly sentient lights, a dark man and a woman made of light. Although most of the spirits I’ve met were nonthreatening or even companionable, I have had some very frightening experiences.

Other scary experiences that I’ve had: sitting at a table in a much loved local bookstore around Halloween, surrounded by copies of my two true ghost story books, waiting in vain for customers to stop by to chat. I understand now why ghosts bang on the walls for attention!

I think it’s pretty intimidating for most people to approach someone they don’t know and start a conversation. I’ve had the best success at bookstores when I offer a structured presentation of some sort. Here are some ideas based on my experiences.

1. Try a hands-on approach.
Ask the author to share their expertise in a simple and fun way. He or she could tell ghost stories, do a Q & A session, teach customers how to communicate with spirits, energetically clear a house, or perform seasonal magic. Authors of psychic development books can do readings for the audience. Astrologers and tarot readers can give free mini-readings to customers, ghost hunters can offer tips on conducting an investigation. Even a short presentation breaks the ice and gets people talking—and hopefully, buying.

2. Plan a disembodied author chat.
If an in-store appearance isn't an option, consider planning an author visit by Skype or speakerphone. Audience members can submit their questions in writing before the event, email their questions to the store or author ahead of time, and also ask questions or share their own experiences during the event. (A store employee or volunteer would need to act as host or coordinator.)

3. Workshops and contests
Offer a free in-store lesson in one of the skills or activities covered in ghostly or magical books. Llewellyn offers many books well suited to the task with their practical approach and step-by-step instructions. Stores could give customers a simple introductory lesson in anything from tea leaf reading to spirit communication to simple candle magic. Have a list of three to five possible topics and ask customers to vote for their favorite. Conversely, stores could hold a drawing or contest, offering a prize for the best true ghost story, vampire protection tip, seasonal craft, etc., that customers have found in a Halloween themed book they’ve purchased within the past month.

Recommended Scary Reads
Here are some of my favorite spooky Llewellyn books. Any of these titles and authors would be good candidates for the suggestions above.

Ghost Hunting
for Beginners

Ghost Hunting for Beginners
This colorful and down-to-earth handbook from paranormal investigator Rich Newman offers an informative and entertaining mix of high tech and low or no tech investigative approaches, true ghost stories from the field, and seasoned advice.

The Ghost Hunter's
Survival Guide

The Ghost Hunter’s Survival Guide
Written by Michelle Belanger, frequent guest psychic on A & E’s hit show Paranormal State, this guide is packed with helpful tips, real-life stories, and step-by-step instructions for staying safe while conducting paranormal investigations.

True Ghosts 3
True Ghosts 3
I’m partial to true ghost story collections and the True Ghosts series featuring stories from FATE Magazine is probably my favorite. I’ve read them all, and True Ghosts 3 is the best of the bunch. It features true first-hand accounts of encounters with the denizens of the spirit realm dating back to the early 1900s.

10th Anniversary Edition
Monsters10th Anniversary Edition
Occult scholar John Michael Greer combines impeccable academic research with truly entertaining, lively writing. Even bigger and better than the original book, this edition covers everything: aliens, Mothman, old hags, zombies, and more.

True Police Stories
of the Strange
and Unexplained
True Police Stories of the Strange and Unexplained
Compiled by retired detective sergeant Ingrid P. Dean, these firsthand accounts from law enforcement officials tell of dramatic, chilling, and sometimes inspiring encounters with aliens, ghosts, angels, and strange forces during the course of duty.


House of Spirits and Whispers
by Annie Wilder

Annie Wilder is the author of House of Spirits and Whispers and Spirits Out of Time.

Raised in a family with Irish-German roots and strong intuitive abilities, the unseen world of angels, spirits, and lost souls has always been a familiar part of Annie Wilder’s everyday life. A writer and mother of grown children, she regularly hosts haunted tea parties in her spirit-filled Victorian house nestled in a sleepy Mississippi River town in Minnesota.

Annie has been featured in several television programs, including the Biography Channel’s “My Ghost Story.” Her home has also been investigated by teams of ghost hunters and visited by a number of prominent psychics, including Linda Drake and Echo Bodine. Visit Annie’s website.

Annie's three favorite bookstores:

Best of Times, Red Wing, MN
Sunny store and friendly, knowledgeable staff, and a picturesque river town location.

Magus Books and Herbs, Minneapolis, MN
The real deal for magic books and supplies.

Black Cat Books, Manitou Springs, CO
Enjoy a glass a wine while browsing for books in a groovy historic building — genius!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Deborah Blake on Celebrating Halloween at Your Store

Hi Booksellers,

Looking for ways to attract a crowd on Halloween? Here’s some fun, inexpensive ideas from author Deborah Blake on how to appropriately celebrate this sacred Pagan holiday at your store.

Celebrating Halloween and its Pagan Roots
By Deborah Blake

Halloween is a holiday that has an origin deep in Pagan roots. Its name comes from the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve, or Hallow Evening (hence Hallow E’en), which in turn was taken from the Pagan holiday we now call Samhain—pronounced Sow-win. Samhain is one of the most important holidays of the year for Pagans and Witches; it is considered to be the day on which the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and it is possible to speak to those we have lost, whether the recent dead or our ancestors. You can see where the “spooky” reputation of this holiday came from!

It can be tricky to balance the sacred nature of the spiritual holiday with the more commercial aspects of the secular celebrations that most people are accustomed to—but here are some suggestions for Halloween events that won’t demean the holiday . . . or cost an arm and a leg to put on.

Treasure Hunts
One of the easiest and most fun Halloween events that I have hosted at various bookstores is the “treasure hunt.” Find all the books in the store that have spooky or magical themes; this can include children’s stories, real-life books on ghosts, anything Pagan or related to Witches (yes—Harry Potter counts!), etc. You can then either write up a list for people to use as they hunt for the books (in which case, they have the list later to possibly shop from), or place bookmarks or other “markers” in the books that count towards the treasure hunt. You could even put a bookmark that is a coupon for any book it is in, in the hopes of selling a few in the process.

If you have a metaphysical or New Age store, you could try a scavenger hunt with clues, like “I am a clear rock used for boosting psychic energy” for a quartz crystal.

You could give a special prize to the first few customers who find all the “treasures” or simply offer candy and Halloween goodies to all participants. 

This can be aimed at kids or adults. You could invite a local author for a reading/signing event. Or arrange to have a staff member tell spooky or witchy stories.

Host a Costume Contest
Invite your staff to dress up, too.

Special Guests
Tarot readers and tealeaf readers are a popular attraction, and you can display books about psychic phenomenon near the reader’s table.

I suggest steering clear of insulting stereotypical witch make-up (long nose, green face and the like), but everyone loves a long black dress and a pointy hat. The trick is to celebrate this important Pagan holiday with respect, and treat all who come into your store as though they were V.I.W.’s—Very Important Witches.


Photo by John Mazarak
Deborah Blake's most recent book is Witchcraft on a Shoestring. She is also the author of Circle, Coven and Grove, Everyday Witch A to Z, The Goddess is in the Details, and Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook. She has published numerous articles in Pagan publications, including Llewellyn annuals and has an ongoing column in Witches & Pagans Magazine.

When not writing, Deborah runs The Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker. She lives in a 100 year old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with five cats who supervise all her activities, both magickal and mundane.

Witchcraft on a Shoestring
by Deborah Blake

Deborah can be found online at Facebook and Twitter. Or check out her website.

Deborah on her favorite metaphysical store:
“I get most of my supplies from AzureGreen and I have for many years. They have a wide range of stock, good quality and low prices, and the nicest folks working there. They’re a small company and I love them.”