Artist | Fashion designer | Magic maker | Foodie | Treasure hunter | Stone lover

 

Amy Zerner

I am a visual artist so I love picture books, illustrated books, or books that stimulate visions. Books come into one’s life magically. Books ignite ideas, confirm intuitions – they are catalysts and mirrors. Books are like my eyes and ears, so much a part of me, for my whole life. My grandfather printed books, my mother illustrated children’s books, and my husband Monte Farber and I have created 50 books together over 40 years, a combination of my art and his words. They are our right livelihood and a reflection of our life and love together.

When I time-traveled through our library and composed my top ten list (not an easy task!), I realized that some books I chose are out-dated, some are sadly out-of-print, and not all are poetically written…but they all include valuable guidance. Sometimes just a chapter or a single quote was important to me on my spiritual journey and was meant to be an epiphany in that moment in time.

I collage art pieces, so my reading (and writing) style is to take bits that inspire and put them together with other precious bits…to compose a tapestry. I tend to intuitively mix and blend cultures, theories and concepts together, and juxtapose the ancient and the new, to find the point in the matrix where many universal philosophies meet. So these books on my list were such an important, necessary, and meaningful piece of my personal life tapestry, like a thread or a ribbon, or a shining jewel.

Amy Zerner is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist’s Fellowship Grant in the Category of Painting. She attended Pratt Institute and makes her home in East Hampton, NY, where she lives with her author husband, Monte Farber.

Amy has sold her art couture jackets, coats and caftans at Bergdorf Goodman for 21 years, along with her unique jewelry designs.

Her mixed-media collages illustrate the bestselling books and tools she has created with Monte, with nearly 3 million copies in print in 18 languages, including The Enchanted Tarot, Astrology for Wellness, Chakra Meditation Kit, Enchanted Love Tarot, The Creativity Oracle, Mindful Astrology, and her new Wild Goddess Oracle, and Enchanted Worlds: The Visionary Collages & Art Couture of Amy Zerner.
 www.AmyZerner.com

My 10 Best Spiritual Books

(In no order of suggested reading or importance)

The Wonder Clock
by Howard Pyle

 

My dear mother, Jessie Spicer Zerner, was a master pen and ink artist, who did wonderful drawings for children’s books, coloring books and greeting cards. She was a prolific illustrator and made her living that way for many years. She always read me fairytales when I was a kid, and liked to share the Victorian stories that she had been told when she was little. She was always drawing animals, children, and fairies – it let her live in a sweeter and gentler world. I suppose that is something that I have inherited from her.

The Wonder Clock teaches that each day is a gift. Laughing, playing, eating, learning— each hour of the day is an invitation to partake of life’s abundance. It is an old fashioned fairy tale in the best sense. Howard Pyle was a great artist during what’s known as the Golden Age of Illustration. He was also a gifted writer. His work had an influence on my mother.

There is always something enchanted happening in the world of the Wonder Clock: Floors creaking, creatures stirring, sleepers dreaming, fires glowing. I relate to the theme of looking forward to each day. And I treasure the magical children’s books that I created with my mother: Zen, ABC, Scherezade’s Cat, and The Dream Quilt. Fairy tales and other sacred myths help us understand our world and our place in it.

A to Z Horoscope Maker & Delineator
by Llewellyn George

 

In 1971, I started taking astrology classes in Soho in NYC because one of my painting teachers at Pratt Institute was also an astrologer, and my roommate Rupert Smith and I became intrigued by listening to him read our natal charts.

This classic book was the required textbook for reference and study for the class. It is how I learned a lot about astrology in the beginning. Its language is dense and old-fashioned but I believe it has been revised and updated.

Once you take a step on the spiritual path, many doors start to open. For me and Monte, astrology became our psychological language. We put our own unique take on astrology into several books, including our newest one, Mindful Astrology: Finding Peace of Mind According to Your Sun, Moon, and Rising Sign.

The Tarot Revealed
by Eden Gray

 

This book is a good introduction to the symbolism of the Tarot, with simple, clear explanations. It is based on the Rider-Waite deck.

I clearly remember when my friend Sharon brought it to my apartment in 1970 (we were 19) and we sat and turned each page, mesmerized by the mystical ideas and symbolism of each card. Of course, this started me on quite the journey, having designed my own deck The Enchanted Tarot in the late eighties, with the book by Monte (Sharon introduced me to Monte!).

I also created The Enchanted Love Tarot and many other oracles that are a combination of my art and Monte’s words. So the seed was planted with this book.

Secret Teachings of All Ages
by Manly P. Hall

 

This is a fascinating, mind-blowing, and educational compendium of ancient occult symbolism, philosophies, and esoteric traditions of the world. It includes the Kabbalah, alchemy, Tarot, gemology, and so much more. I was very taken with the illustrations.

One magical experience I had (out of many!) was that during a reading with our great astrologer in 1990, the late Leor Warner, he told me to look into Alchemy – that it would lead to something important. He was always right-on, so after the reading I was all charged up and I pulled out this book and turned to the Alchemy chapter. I gazed at the powerful images for just a moment and suddenly a complete idea for a book and oracle popped into my head, wholly formed. I told Monte and well…our Alchemist Oracle was born. Some things are destined…

God Herself: The Feminine Roots of Astrology
by Geraldine Thorsten

 

This is a scholarly work that combines mythology, religion, history, and art. This book impressed me when I started researching The Goddess in the early eighties for a series of artworks. In this book, the author honors ancient goddess figures but also offers an expanded view of the zodiac from a feminine point of view, with lots of information about the Moon.

I appreciated the combination of history and astrology and I love exploring these themes in my work. Monte and I invented an oracle that was published in 1992 called Goddess Guide Me. We also created Gifts of the Goddess, an oracle deck of affirmation cards in 2003, which is coming out again next year. And our Wild Goddess Oracle is coming out in September 2021.

Healing Stoned: The Therapeutic Use of Gems and Minerals by Julia Lorusso & Joel Glick

 

I remember visiting the Museum of Natural History in New York City when I was very young and coming home with boxes of mineral specimens which I pored over for hours and treasured. These were my secret possessions. Every stone had a story to tell me. Collecting gems and stones became a lifelong pursuit. I eventually became a jewelry designer and Monte and I even wrote our own book about crystals and medicine bags, called Healing Crystals.

Healing Stoned was my first crystal book that I think I picked up in a thrift shop in the early eighties. I met the authors a few years later at a book convention and bought a beautiful black tourmaline and opal pendant from them. They were the real deal. Healing Stoned describes in detail the esoteric influences and energies of many common and not-so-common gemstones.

When we become aware of the qualities of radiant beauty, frequency, and possible uses, stone “medicine” can help us explore what our current needs are and how we may transform certain situations by using a stone as a meditative focus and an inspirational power source.

Art & Soul
by Audrey Flack

 

Audrey is a dear friend (we met back in 1977), and she is a great artist and became a mentor to me. We share a passion for art, books, goddesses, shamanism, and feminism. There are lots of inspiring gems of wisdom in Art & Soul, which is composed of short notes and impressions on art and artists. It is a wonderful little book for all creatives. Like me, Audrey believes that art should be a spiritual tool for transformation, healing, learning, and meditation. I was so thrilled to have a major exhibition with Audrey last year at MM Fine Arts in Southampton, NY titled Goddesses: Here & Now.

Monte and I also have put a lot of what we know about the creative process into our Creativity Oracle book and card deck. Because of our multi-faceted life experiences with writing, designing, and making art, we understand and share many concepts about the creative process, both the exhilarating moments of origin and the blocks that often inhibit.

Tibetan Book of Living & Dying
by Sogyal Rinpoche

 

This is a helpful, gentle, comforting guidebook for preparing for dying while we are living.

When my mother died in 1996, I was sad, scared, and confused, feeling bereft and helpless, going through the natural processes of grief. It was the right book at the right time. I have since recommended it to others in need of its wisdom.

Monte and I wrote about what we learned about love and loss and communicating with those on the other side in our book The Soulmate Path. We have also designed several popular tools for communicating with spirits – The Psychic Circle and The Enchanted Spellboard.

The Art Spirit
by Robert Henri

 

My first memory is of sitting on the knee of my mother’s father, my grandfather, the painter Clayton Spicer, drawing leaves on one of his paintings of north-eastern Pennsylvania, where I spent my early years. I am fortunate that a love for art and drawing was passed down.

He was a wonderful artist, and he studied with Robert Henri, painting “Ashcan School” scenes of the city and a variety of pastoral landscapes. He did paintings of the rooftops and people of New York and the horses, barns, woods, streams and hillsides of Pennsylvania. He painted with a deep sympathy for nature.

So, one day I picked up The Art Spirit to reconnect with my grandfather, who died when I was six years old.

Robert Henri talks about creating art as the one “true happiness” in life. “A person must become expressive before he can be happy,” he writes. He stresses that we are all artists, or at least, we all have that capacity. The urge to create is innate. He writes: “There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual—become clairvoyant. We reach then into reality. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom.”

As an artist, I was happy to agree with this philosophy, and it deepened my appreciation for my grandfather and his work. I am grateful for my family’s talents that fed my own. We are excited that we have a book about my art and evolution that Monte wrote which is being published in August titled Enchanted Worlds: The Visionary Collages & Art Couture of Amy Zerner.

Healing Visualizations
by Dr Gerald Epstein

 

In 1993, I was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus—Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a very strange and isolating illness. It takes a lot of energy and time just to come to terms with it. It has many symptoms, many labels, and many victims.

I was lucky to have a knowledgeable and understanding doctor, Dr Robert Giller, who helped me, who was also my friend.

I was also lucky to have such a wonderful and supportive husband. My case was probably exceptional because many people go misdiagnosed with this illness and are misunderstood to the point of questioning their own sanity. At the time, most doctors did not believe that there was any such disease as Epstein-Barr Virus, but thought it was psychosomatic.

I received regular massages and changed my diet. I monitored my stress, and learned to say “no.” I prayed. I ate organic food. I detoxified. I cut out milk, wheat, and sugar. I took magnesium, L-5-hydroxytryptophan, B-Complex, lots of C, and anti-oxidants. I eliminated carbonated beverages. There is no one answer or one sole cause of this illness.

For me, it was a series of difficult life events at once that triggered it. But it is important not to cast blame or to criticize yourself for allowing illness into your life. The healing is the important part and can be a real turning point in your life. Because you are the healer. And we all need to be healers.

Dr Gerry Epstein, who was a genius and who wrote this book, Healing Visualizations, gave me some specific visualizations that really helped and took me to another level of improvement. I met Gerry at one of my exhibits in 1991 and we became dear friends. I cherish his insightful teachings and advice.

The good that came out of being ill is that I became more aware of how our minds are connected to our bodies. Monte and I continued to grow together and we have investigated all kinds of mind/body/spirit connections over the years on our journey of healing. It led us to put much of what we learned into our book Astrology for Wellness.