The start of a new year is a time for celebration and reflection on the mysteries of the past and the possibilities the future holds. It marks the end of a cycle, but also the miracle of rebirth; for even in the darkest days of winter, the changing calendar turns our minds to the summertime to come. Day-books and diaries remind us of the passage of time; choosing new ones is a wonderful ritual with which to start the new year. One couldn't find a more charming pair of almanacs than Llewellyn's whimsical tomes. The "Magical Almanac," co-written by a team of Wiccans and Pagan ministers, offers a smorgasbord of spiritual treats, ranging from recipes for delicacies like Candlemas Crescent Cakes and Midsummer Ritual Mead to special moon rituals to articles on topics like witches' rings. The high point of the book is the Zodiac calendar, which includes daily information on the position of the moon, suggested color and incense for the day, and special holidays like Los Angeles' Birthday. The companion book, "Herbal Almanac," sprinkles information about herbal remedies and recipes with lively good humor and heartfelt herb tips. Marshmallow leaf, for example, is an ideal treatment for children with colds; water violet cures shy or lonely animals. Most tantalizing is the section on herbal beauty tips; who wouldn't like to slather on a Rose Cream moisturizer?

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

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