The start of a new year is a time for celebration and reflection on themysteries of the past and the possibilities the future holds. It marks theend of a cycle, but also the miracle of rebirth; for even in the darkestdays of winter, the changing calendar turns our minds to the summertime tocome. Day-books and diaries remind us of the passage of time; choosing newones is a wonderful ritual with which to start the new year. One couldn't find a more charming pair of almanacs than Llewellyn'swhimsical tomes. The "Magical Almanac," co-written by a team of Wiccansand Pagan ministers, offers a smorgasbord of spiritual treats, rangingfrom recipes for delicacies like Candlemas Crescent Cakes and MidsummerRitual Mead to special moon rituals to articles on topics like witches'rings. The high point of the book is the Zodiac calendar, which includesdaily information on the position of the moon, suggested color and incensefor the day, and special holidays like Los Angeles' Birthday. Thecompanion book, "Herbal Almanac," sprinkles information about herbalremedies and recipes with lively good humor and heartfelt herb tips.Marshmallow leaf, for example, is an ideal treatment for children withcolds; water violet cures shy or lonely animals. Most tantalizing is thesection on herbal beauty tips; who wouldn't like to slather on a RoseCream moisturizer?

Any herb aficionado knows that the most humble plants have amazing properties. The "Herbal Almanac" is a living demonstration that insmall packages, there can be great charms, while the "Magical Almanac" isthe perfect enchantment for any wannabe spell-caster on your Solstice list.