Seasonal Salon

Worthy of Shelf Space

This is an abbreviated edition of Worthy of Shelf Space as I am in the midst of moving from Texas to Hawaii. These two books will bring you much joy. See you in the summer!


The House of the Spirit, Isabel Allende, Everyman’s Library, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1985 (English translation by Madga Bogin) (Original Spanish publication La Casa de los Espiritus by Plaza y Janes, Barcelona, 1982)

Much truth and wisdom lie between the covers of this novel. If you have never read this book, you are missing a treasure. If you have, now is a relevant time to re-read it.

Isabel Allende spins a story of the Trueba family, alternating the viewpoint of the patron, Estaban Trueba, with that of the three generations of women of the family, Clara, Blanca, and Alba. We know that the women will be exceptional when the story begins with little Clara’s outburst in church, “Psst! Father Restrepo! If that story about hell is a lie, we’re all fucked, aren’t we….” Clara is psychic. She can move objects around the house, predict deaths, and see into the future. As she matures and marries Estaban Trueba, she creates a house in which the spirits and all the damaged people of the country are welcome. Blanca, her daughter, was made for one great passion. She defies class and propriety to love Pedro Tercero Garcia, a singer and socialist. Alba, the granddaughter, is beloved by everyone and incorporates the best qualities and strengths of every member of the family.

So, who is Estaban? He is the hard working right wing male who becomes rich and powerful. He believes that he is entitled to the respect and deference of all those he considers lesser. He loves, but only comes to understand the women in his life as his way of life crumbles around him.

Encompassing a time period from Pre-World War II to the 1970’s, this novel is a prime example of magical realism. It is rich with characters, with drama, with humor and with heartache. You will see much you recognize.

The back story of this book is real. Everyman’s Library editions provide a timeline of historical events:

1970 Salvador Allende, the cousin of Isabel’s father, becomes President of Chile, the world’s first freely elected Marxist head of state. Allende institutes programs of nationalization (including Chile’s important copper mining industry) and collectivization.

1973 General Pinchet leads a coup in Chile. Salvador Allende dies during the attack on the presidential palace. Pinochet becomes President and in the years that follow thousands of Chileans are arrested and killed by his junta.

1990 Democracy is re-established in Chile with the election as President of the Christian Democrat Patricio Alywin, standing for the Concertacion coalition.

2004 Following a detailed report on state-sponsored torture, the Chilean government offers lifelong pensions to more than 28,000 people tortured under the Pinochet government.


Goddesses of the Americas: Spirit Banners of the Divine Feminine, Lydia Ruyle, Goddess Ink, 2016

Lydia died in March, 2016. When she left, the world lost a talented artist, a Goddess scholar, and a wise, gentle woman.

Goddess of the Americas is her last book. From the beautiful rainbow pages to the drawings of the brightly-colored drawings, this volume is a feast for the senses. Our adventure begins in North America, veers westward to Hawaii, travels down through Central America, wanders eastward to the islands of the Caribbean, and concludes in South America. Eighty-four banners delight your imagination.

Lydia includes information on the travels of “the girls”, as she called them. I particularly like the photographs of the banners displayed at Machu Picchu in Peru. It stirs the soul to see the combination of the new interpretations of the Goddess at an ancient sacred site. People will find their particular favorites and will discover goddesses that they never knew existed. Many of the images are fierce; our indigenous Goddesses are not to be taken lightly.

Thank you, Lydia, for gracing the world with your work.


Renee Rabb is an ordained RCGI priestess who currently lives in Austin, Texas. She reads a lot and is pondering the future.

Category: Spring Equinox 2017