Book + Deck Review: The Illustrated Crystallary by Maia Toll

Review and Photo by Briony Silver | Instagram | Podcast 

About the Author

Maia Toll is the best selling author of the Indie Award and Nautilus Award winning book The Illustrated Herbiary. While published in 2018, the seeds for The Illustrated Herbiary and the other books in The Wild Wisdom Series (The Illustrated Bestiary, October 2019 and The Illustrated Crystallary, September 2020) were planted years earlier when Maia apprenticed with a traditional healer in Ireland where she spent extensive time studying the growing cycles of plants, the alchemy of medicine making, and the psychology of working with humans and illness. These experiences reawakened an interest in natural philosophy and mysticism which had been a large part of Maia’s academic studies at The University of Michigan and New York University.

Translating the lessons of the natural world for the modern seeker led Maia to open a small shop called Herbiary in 2006. Herbiary now has locations in both Asheville, NC and Philadelphia, PA (and online!). Maia has been featured in a PBS special, had a recipe published in The New York Times, gotten photographed by National Geographic Traveler, and been called “a real life Professor Sprout from Harry Potter” by Forbes magazine. She has taught Botanical Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, West Chester University, and Pennsylvania Hospital. She regularly teaches at conferences and festivals where she encourages people to use patterns and metaphors from the natural world to help them understand and grow within their own lives. Maia lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her life and business partner and their two ridiculously spoiled dogs.

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About The Illustrated Crystallary

The latest installment in Maia Toll’s Wild Wisdom series is a sensory delight from start to finish. Illustrated by the talented Kate O’Hara, a first glance across the front is simply magnetic – lush, vibrant, and seemingly illuminated artwork beckons you to open the cover and dive headfirst into the magical world of gems and minerals that Toll has created. After a brief introduction that highlights ways to work with the book as a tool for learning, connection, and development, you’ll find yourself stepping into the enchanting world of the crystallary itself.

Over the next 144 pages, Toll’s words and O’Hara’s illustrations guide you through in-depth encounters with 36 different gems and minerals. You’ll likely find some tried-and-true favorites such as Rose Quartz, Amethyst, Citrine, and even Salt (yes, Salt!), while at the same time becoming acquainted or re-acquainted with gems, crystals, and minerals with which you might work less frequently – Azurite, Emerald, Peridot, Lepidolite, and Ammolite are just a few examples.

Toll introduces each crystal individually, with an overview that is at once poetic, mystical, and almost musical. A message of wisdom is shared from each stone, inviting you to look beyond the surface at the deeper meaning that may be somewhat hidden from view – at least initially. These messages are shared opposite a stunning full-page illustration for that particular stone, which can serve as an excellent focal point for meditation if desired.

When you pair traditional teachings with the properties of crystals discovered through modern science…you begin to realize that these were never merely shiny objects. Our hearts hear the stones’ song.

The Illustrated Crystallary

Following these introductions, Toll shares a ritual and a reflection specific to each stone. And while the word “ritual” might conjure up images of elaborate, choreographed practices requiring specific clothing and recitation of lengthy incantations, rest assured that these exercises are nothing if not accessible. Needed materials and ingredients for the rituals are items you likely already have at home, and the reflections require nothing more than your ability to engage in meaningful conversation with yourself.

New and Experienced Witches Alike Will Love…

…the bonus deck of oracle cards included in the back cover of the book. This is such a unique feature of the Wild Wisdom series, and offers a very special way to get hands-on with the material – without worrying about sourcing stones, or breaking the bank doing so. Each card depicts the associated illustration from the book, the theme of the stone, as well as the page number where it can be found to explore in more depth. Toll specifically includes a section at the end of the book around how to best work with the Crystallary cards, using them as a means to forge a deeper connection with the stones and the powerful medicine they have to offer.

The Illustrated Crystallary may be purchased here.

About Briony: Briony Silver is an eclectic witch based in the Pacific Northwest, and the host of the Eclectic Witchery podcast. A proud Cancerian, water and the moon heavily influence her individual Craft – so you can almost always find her wearing something lunar-inspired, while toting a variety of jars, bottles, and vials in her bag. With a background teaching yoga and mindfulness, she enjoys weaving those two practices into her magic, and vice versa. You can connect with her on Instagram at @eclectic_witchery to talk water magic, crystals, moon magic, divination tools, and witchy books galore!

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