Charm-i-days: Saints in your pocket and a drug-free high

Illuminate someone on your holiday gift list by pairing a righteous book or two with just the right accessory.

Saintliness, now found in pockets and boxes.

Jason Boyett’s Pocket Guide to Sainthood: A Field Manual for the Super-Virtuous Life captures the glory, the shame and the silliness of saints throughout history. Starting with St. Ambrose and ending with St. Vincent de Paul (surprisingly, not the only saint who was captured by pirates), Boyett irreverently chronicles the miracles and trivia surrounding everyone’s favorite saints – and also the ugliest one. Boyett includes the saints’ miracles but also tidbits he generously labels “what not to venerate,” such as, you know, mass slaughters and the like.

Boyett’s consistently entertaining tone and unexpected asides create an amusing backdrop for what’s actually a highly informative book. The section about Mother Mary, for example, will clear up her status once and for all for any confused non-Catholic. The book lists a glossary of saintly terms as well which saints to call upon for any occasion from watching television to paratrooping.

Flaunting the holy.

So what to pair with this “witty, weird and sometimes even wise” – as reviewer Daniel Radosh declared – book? A plastic tribute to St. Clare, patron saint of television, of course. I personally have had this beatific statue from Archie McPhee unobtrusively positioned near my television for several months, and I’ve never felt more enriched by my small-screen viewing. Alternately, pair the book with a saints bracelet from Signals.

175 ways to transcend.

For a book with fewer religious trappings but more spirituality than you can shake an incense stick at, give someone on your list Get High Now (Without Drugs) by James Nestor. I mentioned the Get High Now website earlier this year, but you can’t very well wrap up a website and put it under the tree. (Not that I’m saying you aren’t clever. You are – I know you are. I’m just saying it’s easier to wrap a book.) Actually, the book isn’t about spirituality per se or New Age-style meditation: It details the science behind drug-free highs and which techniques – meditative and otherwise – are proven to work.

Nestor advocates against trying every technique he mentions (avoid the bee sting approach, he stubbornly insists) and includes surprising hallucinogens such as giraffe liver. Some of the techniques, though, are as simple as breathing, which is the first of the suggestions that Nestor himself tried years ago as he uncovered research that an eccentric uncle left behind when he died. His uncle’s notes eventually became this book, which is fascinating and funny and gives you more than 175 ways to alter your consciousness.

2 transcendence aids.

You’d think giving a person 175 ways to change his or her life would provide enough holiday cheer, but go one more step and throw in some Buddha mints, a tin of Badger meditation balm that smells like sandalwood or my favorite incense – the desert pinion sticks really do smell like you’re having a mountaintop experience with a fire crackling nearby (no cloying aroma, I promise).

So many convenient ways to reach enlightenment these days.

Pocket Guide to Sainthood, $11
St. Clare statue, $5
Saints bracelet, $30
Get High Now (Without Drugs), $10
Buddha mints, $2.50
Badger meditation balm, $8
Juniper Ridge incense, $8

Also of note …
Christmas post on Jason Boyett’s blog
Get High Now site

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