Reading list for a magical summer

Books to add a dash of magic to your summer + update on Tarot Magic course

5 min readJul 21, 2023

I hope you’re enjoying your summer (or winter, depending upon your hemisphere 😁). I’m getting very close to announcing the presale for my upcoming Tarot Magic course (which is why you haven’t heard from me much; more on that below).

And all that planning and writing means I’ve been surrounded by stacks of books about, or related to … you guessed it … magic.

And since summer, for many of us, means more time for reading, I thought I’d share some of my recent favorites. Sure, some of these may not be what most people think of as “beach reads,” but you’re not most people, right? So grab one of these illuminating and inspiring books to add a little extra magic to your summer.

Spellbound: Modern Science, Ancient Magic, and the Hidden Potential of the Unconscious Mind by Daniel Z. Lieberman, M.D. (book cover)

Spellbound: Modern Science, Ancient Magic, and the Hidden Potential of the Unconscious Mind by Daniel Z. Lieberman, M.D.

I can’t begin to say how much I loved this book. Lieberman is a psychiatrist and a Jungian, so he approaches magic primarily through a psychological lens. But don’t let that dissuade you — this is not a simplistic “it’s all in your head” attempt to explain away magic, but instead shows how our psyches are the conduits for powerful archetypal energies.

Lieberman builds a bridge between ancient myths, mysticism, and psychology, weaving insights from alchemy, tarot, fairy tales, and numerology with the latest research in neuroscience.

This is the rare book that shows science and magic are not antagonistic, but rather like the two snakes entwining Hermes’ caduceus.

Spellbound is eye-opening, breezily written, and inspiring. Highly recommended!

The Cloisters: A Novel by Katy Hays (book cover)

The Cloisters: A Novel by Katy Hays

Okay, this one definitely qualifies as a beach read (and yeah, I know the endorsement by Jenna Bush Hager might be a little off-putting, but let’s ignore that).

If you loved Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, this is gonna hit the same pleasure receptors — even better, the plot of this mystery/thriller is centered on a mysterious tarot deck! And Hays gets bonus points from me for getting tarot history correct — a rarity.

I read this novel in two sittings — it was that riveting. Academic ego battles, history, art, love, sex, murder … and tarot cards! Could there be anything more perfect to read while you’re slathered in sunscreen with a cold drink in your hand and your toes in the sand?

Proof of Spiritual Phenomena: A Neuroscientist’s Discovery of the Ineffable Mysteries of the Universe (book cover)

Proof of Spiritual Phenomena: A Neuroscientist’s Discovery of the Ineffable Mysteries of the Universe by Mona Sobhani, Ph.D.

As much as I’m a magic nerd, I also love science. And we’re extremely lucky to be living in a time when many serious scientific researchers are looking with fresh eyes at magic, spirituality, and psi phenomena.

Mona Sobhani is a cognitive neuroscientist who wanted nothing to do with anything remotely spiritual — in fact, she was aggressively antagonistic to stuff she considered the “woo.”

But she could never shake off her personal experiences, including the remarkable and seemingly unexplainable readings her mother provided for her using only coffee grounds (a form of divination known as tasseography).

Sobhani decided to find out whether there was evidence for the spiritual realities described by mystics and psychics, and she spent several years interviewing leading scientific researchers, visiting intuitives, and poring through hundreds of scholarly papers before coming to the conclusion that the fundamentalist materialism embraced by many scientists is no longer supported by the data.

And for the science nerds like me, she provides extensive footnotes, so you can look up and read the groundbreaking studies yourself.

But this is not a dry read by any means — Sobhani’s journey of discovery is intensely personal and honest.

This is a great book to pass along to your curious friends who may not understand how closely ancient spiritual concepts are increasingly supported by physics and neuroscience.

And I am incredibly excited to launch my Tarot Magic course (the presale will be announced sometime later month).

So what, exactly, is this course about? Here’s a short video introduction.

Tarot Magic is a practical, self-contained magical system based entirely in the history, symbolism, structure, and contemplation of the tarot.

Tarot Magic is a series of meditations, rituals, and practices utilizing the powerful archetypes of the tarot to bring more meaning, connection, creativity, and spiritual enrichment to your life.

Tarot Magic is ecumenical, and does not require the adoption of any specific belief system, just an open mind and willingness to experiment.

Tarot Magic can be viewed as a form of folk magic, with antecedents in what some call “chaos magic,” but I prefer to call “experimental magic.”

I’ve taken what I’ve learned from nearly three decades of working and experimenting with numerous magical systems and brought that knowledge and experience to create the Tarot Magic course.

Exciting, right? If you’re already a Founding Member of The Art of Magical Living community, the course will be FREE and you’ll have instant access.

For everyone else, you’ll soon have the chance to get a special presale discount. Watch this space and check your email!

There’s nothing like this course available anywhere, and next week I’ll share a preview of a very simple — but powerful — tarot meditation from the course that you can try right away. Look for it in your inbox!

That wraps things up for now. Grab a good book, find a cool, shady spot, and see you next week!


Michael M. Hughes is a writer, speaker, and magical thinker. He is the author of Magic for the Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change as well as numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction, and he speaks and teaches classes on magic, tarot, psychedelics, and more.

His comprehensive tarot course, The Art and Magic of the Tarot: Foundations, is available here. Upcoming classes include Tarot Magic (summer 2023), Creating Magical Sigils, Introduction to the I Ching, and more.

Michael’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, CNN, The L.A. Times, Rolling Stone, Comedy Central, Wired, Elle, Vox, Cosmopolitan,and even the ultraconservative The American Spectator, which wrote: “He may play footsie with the devil, but at least the man has a sense of humor.”

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