I love witchcraft books that favor creativity and innovation. What makes this one stand out, however, is that it observes and compares the many (and rather simple) magical techniques of diverse cultures, past and present. You might think “cultural appropriation,” but fear not, for this book is about cultural appreciation. It brings you around the globe, giving you all sorts of ideas for casting spells using yourself and whatever you have at hand.
One thing that modern witchcraft books tend to parrot is the idea that intention is everything. Now, this is an amazing book and I highly recommend it, but it’s not quite an exception. Within the first chapter, I made a face at the line, “Basically, if you can’t make magick without tools, you can’t make magick with tools, either.”
There are practitioners who are simply better at casting with tools and ingredients than without them. There are also practitioners who would rather cast spells with the help of gods or spirits. That doesn’t make them any lesser.
Sometimes that actually makes them smarter, and I’m all for working smarter, not harder.
I don’t know why witchcraft has turned into a competition. It’s not about who can do this or that, it’s about using whatever (spiritual) means to get your desired results. Witchcraft may be the act of reclaiming power, but it isn’t necessarily concerned with your willingness to push magical boundaries. That’s for ceremonial magicians to worry about.
The book doesn’t totally rule out tools and ingredients, though. I mean, there’s a section on crafting a magical sandwich. As silly as that may sound, you need to remember that magic doesn’t have to be all formal and difficult, especially witchcraft. You can and should use what you have, which is what the book emphasizes besides intention.
It goes much deeper than intention, of course. There are plenty of well-researched accounts of traditional magical workings to expand your horizons. The author picks every one of them apart, showing you exactly how successful spells are made.
I wasn’t expecting this book to agree that not all ingredients are equal. In chapter five, the author gives an example of a spell for peace that includes a rose quartz, a crystal that’s typically used for love and healing magic. If a nail—specifically from a shipwreck—were used instead, the result could be nasty. (I mean… what would you be expecting, honestly?)
It’s explained that negative energies can linger and return, but I also think that certain materials can make or break a spell because of their historical associations. The book doesn’t seem to disagree, as it suggests incorporating certain ingredients like citrine to cultivate self-confidence, for example.
The chapters on decoy magic, curse-breaking, and counter charms are extremely useful, perhaps the most helpful I’ve read in regards to magical protection. When dealing with unwanted spirits, for example, you don’t have to invoke the gods or burn sage or salt your house or whatever. Instead, you’re taught how to divert and trap them with the psychic signatures that draw them.
There’s a chapter on baneful spells and similar ways that different groups implemented them. I commend the author for including the dark side of magic and not going Threefold Law. In fact, she acknowledges that curses, in some cases, can be acts of divine justice.
There is, however, a mention of karmic consequences by attacking the innocent in chapter eight, but let’s face it: tons of people get away with murder on a daily basis, especially since not everyone is a witch who can realize they’re cursed. We really don’t live in a nice, caring universe.
Soon after encouraging us to be more enlightened and focus on positive spells, the book contradicts itself, suggesting we try casting one of the traditional curses on a major bane of humanity: poverty, hate, HIV, and domestic violence. It was strange to see such a suggestion in an otherwise enlightening book for a couple reasons.
Cursing is like rubbing salt into a wound. It isn’t like binding, which is to generally prevent harm instead of cause it. Cursing, on the other hand, is to bring your enemies down to their knees. Poverty, hate, HIV, and domestic violence can be considered enemies, but they are extremely vague targets, symptoms of causes that are far more complex than anything a spell is capable of fixing. I mean, really? HIV? Scientists would be having a field day.
Magic takes the path of least resistance, which the book doesn’t stress as much as it should. You probably aren’t going to break out in show business if you just do a little charm, contrary to what is also suggested, without putting in the necessary mundane work. Magic is simply the finishing touch that nudges the odds in your favor.
There are exceptions of powerful magic that can manifest more than just small individual events, but this isn’t the norm and it’s clearly not meant to be. Why? Well, that’s a post for another day. Nevertheless, there are many other forces at work that can deter even the strongest or most timely of spells. You could do everything right and still fail, just like with any other endeavor.
The pros of this book definitely outweigh the cons. It’s easily one of the most informative books on spell-casting, perfect for beginners as well as intermediates.
4 and a half full moons out of 5