Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: What Witches Do

What Witches Do

What Witches Do is an awesome introduction to the world of British Traditional Wicca.  The author wrote this book during his time as a first degree initiate till he earned his second and third degrees and became a High Priest of the tradition.  In many ways this book reflects part of the authors training as he explored the religion of Wicca from the inside out.

For those more familiar with Wicca as styled by Scott Cunningham, Edain McCoy or even Raymond Buckland this book takes some serious adjustments.  Most people forget that Wicca when it was founded by Gerald Gardner and then the Alexandrian Tradition founded by Alex and Maxine Sanders was a coven based religion and continues to be so today.

This book is a perfect text for those who are interested in Traditional Wicca but are not quite ready to contact a coven.  This text was my introduction to Traditional Wicca several years ago and remains to be one of my go to books when I need a refresher on Traditional Wicca.  There are several practices that are discussed in many books on Wicca that I feel this book covers the areas that are “missing”.

If you are interested in Traditional Wicca this book is perfect for you.  If you are looking to learn more about the early forms of Wicca prior to the solitary traditions this book will cover that.  If you are interested in what religious witchcraft looks like this book is for you.  If you are looking for instant initiation, solitary rituals and spells this is not your book.

There are some spells and rituals in the book.  In this book they provide context to how Wiccan coven rituals may run and what sabbat rituals could entail.  None of the rituals or spells within this book can really be performed solitary.  It comes from a coven based tradition so it will have a different feel than other books.

This book has so much more information than I remembered.  Every time I reread the book I learn something new.  It’s packed with information.  5/5

Book Review: Hoodoo Bible Magic

bible magic front cover - working 032314 v5

This book is an interesting book. It covers a lot of different aspects of working with the bible within the folk magic tradition of Hoodoo. As a witch I am interested in learning more about Hoodoo and working with the bible in their spells and rituals. That is one of the reasons why I bought this book. The other reason was so I could start to add Bible magic to my spell work and my personal practices.

This book is a very short read but packed full of information. It is very concise but covers many topics from how the bible entered the practice of Hoodoo to if working magic is even compatible with reading the bible and understanding its work. There are also several different examples of practical magic and ways to work with the bible in day to day life.

The book starts with covering how the bible enters Hoodoo. The authors made it clear that the use of the Bible in Hoodoo is directly tied into some of the hardest times for the Slaves and the African American’s in the south. It is also made clear that now today these practices are inseparable from Hoodoo in any real sense of the work.

Next they cover if magic is compatible with the Bible. Here we are given examples of scripture and texts from within the Bible that illustrate magical practices and that you can work magic from the Bible. In this section the authors cover a selection of different “Heroes” within the Bible that worked magic in some way shape or form.

Finally in the section of begining to understand the Bible and Hoodoo the authors cover Root Doctors and Rootworkers as spiritual leaders and leaders of the church. Several examples are given for how these workers were community leaders not only in magical work but spiritual needs as well.

The section section of this book is probably the largest and most important section. This is the section that teaches working with the Bible in magical works. This section is titled “Forget Not it’s benefits”. This gives the idea of just how important the Bible is as a text to Hoodoo workings.

The first section is about how the Bible itself is a magical text. Here we are showm just how much power is within the Bible. We are taught about making prayer papers and how each verse of the Bible has its own power. The most important lesson here I found was that of the respect for the Bible.

Some spells and workings in Hoodoo call for tearing out passages from the Bible. Here the authors make it clear that by writing the passages down on paper and tearing that paper you have the connection to the verse without needing to deface a Bible. The power for them is in the verse itself so simply writing the verse has power.

Other topics include a folk story about how in battle a Bible stopped a bullet from reaching a Solider, the Jewish Mizpah and the Jewish Protective Mezuzah, and several other small biblical charms.

The next part of this section was on scriptural uses of magic. Here the author goes into discussions about how there are other verses and books of the Bible that can be worked with for magic as well as the Psalms. The author included a lists of various Bible verses and how they could potentially be used in magic. The author also included a list of verses that explain that God does in fact listen to people. This part of the Scripture ends with a description of “pleading the blood pf Jesus” with scriptures giving examples to the practice and how it is used.

The largest section of the “Forget not it’s benefits” is a section on working with the Psalms. Here the authors do include a list of uses for every Psalm in the Book of Psalms. The author includes a passage on the “secrets of the Psalms” as well as how to find the sacred names within the Psalms. The most useful section of this chapter is the two lists of uses for the Psalms. One is a quick list by type of working listing the Psalms in order by number and the other is listing each Psalm individually with the uses next to them.

The 23rd Psalm is one of the most well known Psalms out there. After providing us with a list of Pslams and their uses the authors provide us with several different uses for the 23rd Psalm. There are examples of blessings, protection spells, and a succsess spell as well. The 23rd Psalm is one of the most versitile Psalms in the book of Psalms which is why these suggestions are great for getting to know and work with that Psalm.

This section ends with a list of Pslams for fighting your enemies and sending back or reversing evil sent to you. Both of those sets used together could create powerful spells for protection. These lists give you some ideas on working with the Psalms so you can then start to create your own spells and rituals with the Psalms.

The next section was on using the Bible for Divination. In essence this practice involves flipping through the Bible with your eyes closed. When you stop flipping through pages you read the verse that you fingers land on and contemplate it’s meaning. The other topic covered is the use of dream interpretation and dreams in the Bible as a source of oracles and divination practices.

The final section covering the uses of the Bible in magical practice is a section on Devotional Prayer. The authors cover how we should Pray and what prayer is. The author covers types of prayer and how you can use prayer to preach. This section ends with a sermon that was essentially a prayed Curse regarding Hitler.

Bible Spells Old and New comes after reminding us of the uses of the Bible. Here the authors provided several different types of spells and workings that use the Bible. The authors start with steady work and succsess, which is followed by returning people and lost goods, Love is next (covering love, family, and reconciling with loved ones). After love we get into Helping and blessing, Harming and Cursing, and we end with protection and Jinx breaking. These spells cover basically every need that comes up in most day to day lives.

The Book ends with a selection of Frequently asked questions regarding Hoodoo, the Bible and the many practices associated. These questions include how to choose prayers for specific works, asking about psalms or scripture verses for quick financial windfalls, and even making a payment to Jesus. These are questions that are found on my Hoodoo and Conjure forums so having a list and answers is a great way to get answers for questions you have that may have already been asked.

This book gets 5/5 stars as it covers so many different ways to work with the Bible. The authors provide several resources, contextual examples, and workings that we can use right away to get started. They cover most magical and spiritual needs within the book so it is an excellent resource for beginners.

Book Review: Pictish Orthodox Druidism

Pictish Orthodox Druidism

This is is very interesting book that covers and obscure religious and spiritual practice.  This book is not like anything else on the market related to Celtic traditions.  This book is very unique, and while it does cover Celtic spirituality and Druidry it does some from the tradition of the Picts.  Most books on Celtic Paganism or Druidry cover Irish or Welsch traditions.  Very few touch on the Picts and their tradition.

The author covers this tradition from the way it was taught in his family.  In places where his family tradition had gaps the author did his best with research into history and lore to complete the tradition.  This book is his way of preserving his view and style of Pictish Druidry.

This book is not really broken into chapters but parts with related sections.  Aside from the introduction there are eight sections in the book.  Each section focuses on unique aspects of this tradition providing information on lore and history as well as theory and practice of ritual and magical workings.

In the Introduction the author starts by presenting several common terms and definitions used within the book and Pagan traditions and spirituality.  Next the author explains his approach to reconstructing religious and spiritual traditions.  This is essential to understand as the practices in the book are a mixture of reconstructed practices and traditions passed down in his family.   The introduction concludes with a summary of principles. Here the author also outlines what exactly he considers Pictish Tradition to entails.

The first section of the book is entitled Pictish Orthodoxy.  This section begins with an overview of Celtic spiritual traditions and the different forms out there.  The author presents an argument for Pictish Tradition origins and how we does have information to build a base on.  This section here is also where we are introduced to the Gods.

The section on the Gods covers a basic introduction to the world view.  It covers several of the spirit concepts as well as the type of Polytheism that Pictish tradition followed.  Here the author introduces the idea that the Picts would have adopted some Norse traditions.

Here the author covers information on the various Gods of the Pict tradition.  He gives their names and attributes.  The author covers three different “tribes” or types of Gods worshiped.  There are the Greater Gods, the Brethren Gods (Norse Gods), and the Tuatha DeDannan.  Through the categorization of the Gods we get a view for the complex syncretic path that is the Pictish Tradition.

The section ends with a discussion on the concept of the trinity and the sacred three.  Here we learn about the Celtic three other worlds and the Celtic Knot.  The author also explains through this sacred three why certain deities are seen as a Triad.  To tie in the Norse tradition with the exploration of the Celtic other worlds (3) the author lists the Nine Norse Realms.

The section part in the book is called Awen.  This section is about taking action and how worship is through action.  Here the author covers the sacred Holidays.  The section on the holidays is rather small.  It does present a few examples of how those sacred days could be honored through actions and activities rather than ritual.

The third part of the book is one of the most interesting.  This is the section on the Faerie faith.  Many spiritual traditions work with beings called the Fae.  This section is about the Pictish tradition and their take on the Fae.  Here we get a taste for ritual work and how the Picts dealt with contact with spirits.

This chapter had some of the most useful information.  It starts out by explains what the faerie spirits really are and how the modern view of fairy’s is actually quite far from the historical perspective.  The author explains that he believes this would have been the practice of the common folk and was less to deal with Gods and was more animistic in nature.

After giving brief examples of offerings and how the Faerie Faith may have been practiced the author begins to discuss the different types of Fae.  Here we see the variety of spiritual forces found within the Pictish tradition beyond the Gods.  The author gives several different types of fae including descriptions of Norse Fae.

Once we are familiar with types of Fae we get into the first practical bit of spiritual work within the book.  Here we are learning how to set up an altar to suit the practice of the Faerie faith.  The author covers three different types of altars to the Faerie people and the types of fae best honored at each.

The chapter ends with ideas on how to make contact with the Fae.  Here the author covers plant talismans and flowers in your garden that could attract the fae.  The author also presents a detailed guided meditation to use meditative techniques to meet fae and work with them.    In all reality the section on the Faerie faith could be a book in its own right.  The author does a great job of presenting information that gives an introduction to the practice within the context of this particular cultural view.

The fourth section of the book is about the priesthood.  Here we find out the authors view on Priesthood and why its not a mantle to be taken up easily.  The author covers the different types of priests and Druids in this chapter.   With each type of druid or priest the author covers the roles they had and how they worked for the Gods and the community. Here the author also covers the various Norse Priests that would have filled similar roles to the Druids.  The author makes it clear that for him priesthood and ministry are the same thing.

The fifth section is where we first get introduced to the practice of magic.  The practice of magic is one of the main draws to practices like Druidry, Shamanism, and witchcraft.  The idea of being able to perform rituals and take specific actions to create change in ones life is very appealing.  So it is important to cover the use of magic and the theories behind it.

In this section the author covers the hows and whys of magic.  Before getting into magical laws and theory the author outlines the phases and steps involved in spell casting.  He explains several magical laws and magical theories.  This gives you the basis to start exploring the magic discussed later.

The majority of the section on magic focuses specifically on the Druid practice of magic.  The author gives examples of types of magic he calls Low, Middle, and High.  In each section of low, middle or high there are examples of types of magical workings and practices that would fit within those concepts.

The chapter ends with a discussion on Druid rituals, tools and the organizations.  With the information on ritual and tools the reader now has enough information to create simple spells and workings within this magical paradigm.  It is here that we have really begun to be able to piece together a practice from the material presented.

The sixth section in the book is on Magical languages.  Here the author introduces Ogham and symbols that are used in magical ritual.  The author covers tattoos and scarification rituals as ways that the Picts used magical symbolism on their body.  The section on magical languages ends with a brief introduction to Runes and Runic magic.

The seventh part of the book is dedicated to Runes.  This is one area of the book that is entirely dedicated to a Nordic aspect of the tradition.  Here the author covers the Rune poems and the three different Rune systems.  He covers the use in magic and the use in divination.  The author even covers creating your own traditional Rune staves and doing traditional Runic readings.  This section and the Faerie faith chapter are the two section of the book with the most practical information and the most unique information.

The author ends the book covering a variety of related spiritual traditions.   The author begins the section by covering different Druid and Celtic traditions and organizations.   Here the author covers traditions like Shamanism, Wicca, and general Witchcraft.  This shows that the author not only respects these other spiritual traditions but he also sees how they are connected and possibly related to his own traditions and practices.

Overall the book provides great insight into this spiritual tradition.  There is enough information that the reader could decide to explore the practice for themselves personally.  The author gave enough information to form a workable practice without doing all of the work for you.  He allows the reader to start with this information and work with the spirits and Gods through personal work to develop their priesthood and their practice.

I would recommended this book to people interested in both Celtic and Norse Pagan traditions.  While I may not agree with all of the information presented on the Norse traditions, I feel that the author did an excellent way of presenting how the Picts would have adapted the Norse Gods and practices into their traditions.

Book Review: Candle and the Crossroads by Orion Foxwood

The Candle and the Crossroads:

A book of Appalachian Conjure And Southern Rootwork

Candle and the Crossroads

This is one of the most powerful books I have read in recent history on spirituality in general.  While yes the book focuses on Rootwork and Conjure as the author knows them, the book is highly spiritually focused.  For me even if I don’t put all of the information into practice, the components of the book that made me question spirituality and what it means were well worth the investment.

So to begin my review I have to say that even if you don’t follow any magical spiritual path as a guide for spirituality any one of any path can get something out of it.  I would even recommend this book to Christians who are looking to deepen their personal spirituality and connection to their religion.  Everyone on any path in life can get something out of this book.  The connection to your own spirit that this book teaches us to develop is important for everyone and everything.

If you are looking for a book on spells you wont find them in this book.  There are several workings discussed but actual spell work for money, wealth, love, etc are not really seen in this book.  There are magical techniques for baths and creating mojos as well as connecting to spirits in this book.    So there is magic with in the book but not necessarily spells for luck, love or mney drawing as most people are familiar with.

The focus on this book is the spiritual component of Hoodoo and Conjure rather than the spells.  Too often people want to jump into the spells and workings of magic without the spirit component and thus they miss a huge part of the Southern Conjure traditions.  This book provides that spiritual information.  It is that focus which sets this book aside from others.

This is one book I am going to be referencing again and again.  There are several exercises, meditations, and self questions that I am going to be looking at periodically.  There are many things in this book that made me think and start to evaluate my personal path and practices.  For this reason I am going to be using this as a reference and guide to develop my own connection to my spirituality and my own personal spirit.

The first chapter in the book is all about the foundation of this practice.  Here we learn the authors experiences and his history with the practice as he knows it.  This is where we see how his experiences and lessons in life and explains the reasons why he wrote this book.  He mentions what the foundations of his personal magical practice are.  By knowing this information you can better understand the worldview and practices presented in the rest of the book.

The second chapter is about the starting of finding your paths to the spirit that is you.  The core teaching of this book is that humans are spirits as well.  We are spirits having a physical existence as humans.  In the teachings of this book and worldview if you start to realize this you will not only come into your own power but also start be be more whole yourself.    This chapter starts a basic discussion on types of spirits that walk with us as well as types of spiritual paths.  After talking about the paths there are also descriptions on how we are called to find our paths including symptoms of the different calls.

The third chapter is short but very important.  Here is where we get into the history of the actual practices that formed Southern Conjure as the author knows it.  The author mentions slavery and African traditions and their importance in the tradition.  Here we see what Conjure really is about and how it survives over the years.  There are warnings in this chapter about working with the spirits of Conjure and how powerful they are.  There is a quote that illustrates the power and spirirt of Conjure work very well that I am going to share with you here.:

“If you are not willing to cry for, be angry for, pray for, and ask help of its spirits, then stay away from this work.  These spirits went through hell when they first came to America in boats of flesh.  No one can change this root, and why would we want to?

If you want to find the root that cannot be bound, then then root spirit of conjure is for you.  If you want to grow your spirit from a place of truth and spirit power then conjure is for you.  If you want to reach deep and pray high, then welcome to this deep well of spirit and spiritual nuturance.

But come through the door blessing and praying for the ancestors that suffered.  This builds a bridge of grace to the spirit world and begins to establish the essence and flavor of the spirits that come when you conjure.”-Orion Foxwood Conjure and the Crossroads

The rest of the chapter focused on what the Root of conjure and the cultural mixtures that made up his conjure.  The author mentions honoring his own Roots and how he works with them.  After mentioning the spirits of African, Native American, and European folk practices who settled in that area he goes into the roles that Conjure played in that culture and still continues to play to this day.

The fourth chapter is about the Nature and Power of conjure.  Here the author gets into the fact that Conjure does have ties to Christian spirituality and Christian religions.  He addresses that many conjures use words like God and Creator and occasionally Maker.  Here we see the power in conjure comes from the source of creation and the power to create which resides in our own personal spirit.  The author gets into a few types of spirits that are connected to this power.  One of them being the God of Christianity and divine beings.  The author is specific in that for the reader and seeker that it doesn’t have to be the God of Christianity but it is the Source of all creation and all essence which is a spirit of sorts.

This is where we first start to actually get introduced into some of the techniques in this practice.  The author goes into several different ways that conjure works with spirit.  These include prayer, baths, blessings, healing, and cleansing.  After starting the basics on techniques we are introduced to a few of the different types of spirits that are worked with in conjure.

Chapter five was probably my favorite chapter in the book.  Its for me really the most important chapter in the book.  This is the chapter that focuses on growing our spirit.  The author had previously mentioned that working with ones own spirit and knowing ones own spirit was the most important thing in conjure.  Here we finally learn to address the spirit and work with our spirit.

The best part of this chapter was the checklist on the attumement to our spirit.   Not only does the author give a list of questions and symptoms of disconnect with our spirit but he provides remedies to help fix the situation.   For me this was really the way for me to start to see how connected I am to my own spirit and what I can do to fix it.  The author does mention that some of those ailments are actual symptoms of health issues (depression, anxiety and other mental health issues) and if you answered yes to many of them that you should seek professional help.  For me that disclaimer and statement shows the connection between the mind, the body, and the spirit and how mental health can effect spiritual health.

This section provided me with the most enlightenment.  It gave me tools to adjust and start working on my own personal spiritual path and development. One of the reasons I had started to explore Conjure and Rootwork was for a spiritual connection and a way to deepen and develop my spirituality beyond the basic 101 books.  Here I have tools to find what I was missing and develop my path.  The chapter ends with providing you with the steps to growing in your spirit which is what you need to do after you start the work of attuning to your own spirit.

Chapter six is about maintain spiritual health.  The main focus on this chapter is spiritual cleansing and cleaning.  The author explains how important is is to cleanse ourselves from the different forces in our lives that can cause spiritual clutter.  He told a story of a client that his mother had to illustrate the issue.  The author ends with a working for spiritual cleansing.   This provides the start of our practical conjure spirit workings.

Chapter seven is about fixing or attracting good spirits to you.  Here we learn how actions we take and the way we live our life sends signals to spirit.  One of the first lessons in this chapter is that often we focus on our lack of something when we want something then more often than not we are going to be stuck with more of what we do not have.  The author then begins to go into how we send images and messages to spirit so we can attract what we actually want.

The author then starts getting information on working on attracting the right spirits.  The first real focus is on a prosperity spirit.  The author provides a recipe or a ritual working outline to attract a prosperous spirit.  One thing this working outlines is that in Conjure everything is spirit and everything has spirit.  If you can accept that view and work with it then you are going to work conjure.

After the pot the author talks about maintain the spirit and provides steps and techniques to keep spirit alive.  The first part of this practice is the establishment of an altar.  The author continues with a ritual working for the altar set up and the consecration of the altar, yourself, and your home.  While the workings are not exact they provide you an outline to make the conjure your own.  In the end you must be the one to do the work.

Chapter eight was probably my second favorite chapter in the book.  One thing I have personally been interested in for years has been working with graveyards and various forms of graveyard magic.  This book is the first book I have seen that addresses this practice.  Its considered Taboo in many modern magical traditions yet many acknowledge that there is strong power in the graveyard.  Finding this chapter thrilled me to the core.  It started to lift the veil on these workings.

There is so much in this chapter that covering the techniques and information would be a review in itself.  I will say the author provides information on the power of the graveyard works and why we should work with graveyards.  He provides information on working with graveyard spirits as well as how to gather graveyard dirt and work with graveyard dirt.  The author spends the other half of the chapter talking about working with our ancestors and providing ways to honor them and work with them in our home and life.

Chapter nine is an interesting chapter.  It covers ways to enter into the spirit world as well as working with a spirit unique to his tradition and practice.  The technique discussed I found most interesting and will most likely try myself was the concept of tapping or knocking.  Its essentially like you are knocking on the door to the spirit world like you would a regular door.    After tapping and knocking he covers river magic as well as fire and candle access to the spirit world.  Here there is a working for river magic specifically outlined.

The last part of the chapter includes a ritual and a poem I am likely to work into ritual work.  Here is where the author teaches us about the Dark Ridder and gives us a way to introduce ourselves to him and work with him.  The spirit known as the dark rider had been mentioned earlier in the book as a traditional spirit but not much was told about him until now.  The author does make it clear that what he shows us is not the full formula for encountering this spirit.  The working he provides is an introduction to the spirit and nothing more.

Chapter ten is the final chapter in the book.  In some ways it works very much like a conclusion focusing on working the Root or working the spirit which is the force of Conjure and Root work. This is how the chapter starts anyway.  It is here we see the final outline of the techniques and practices covered in the book to develop and connect with our spirit.  The chapter ends with talking about a few specific plant spirits and with a formula for making a spirit bag.

This book provides several powerful tools for any spiritual tradition.  In the end this book illustrates not only the power of Conjure and Southern Rootwork but also the power of working from your own spirit.  The author provides an excellent introduction to the spiritual components of Rootwork and Conjure while also providing a few practical workings in the magical sense.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Trolldom: Spells and Methods of the Norse Folk Magic Tradition by Johannes Björn Gårdbäck

Trolldom

Over the last year and a half my magical practices have started to take a change towards more folk magic systems.  To me the lack of formalized ritual for spells is much more appealing than the need to invoke deities for every spell or magical action I perform.  In many ways folk magic traditions relate to me more than most of the modern witchcraft practices as they do not make magic separate from day to day life.  Magic in this instance was a tool for life nothing more or less.  Folk magic simply was and is The Magic of the people.

I’ve been focusing on Hoodoo which is an American system of folk magic created during the slave era and deeply tied into African American culture and Southern Culture in general.  I figured as an American I might as well look into a system of magic that was born here in this country.  Often times I get mixed views on my interest in Hoodoo as I am not Black nor am I from the south. I am a Northerner.  I am from Maine and I have never lived outside of Maine.  So for some of them I was participating in cultural appropriation.  Not being from the South or Black how could I understand all the intracices of the culture?  How could I honor those ancestors?

One common theme of advice I was given was to look into my own personal heritage and see what sort of folk magic traditions I could explore.  I’d be honoring my ancestors and I would be staying within specific cultural guidelines.  For this reason I looked up and did some searching on Germanic or Norse style of Folk Magic.  Trolldom was the topic that came up.  So when I was given an opportunity to read a book on my own ancestral practices and traditions I was all over it.  It felt right to be reading that book and to start looking at adding some of the workings into my own practice.

If you are expecting spells and forumulas that deal with the Norse Gods you wont find a lot in this tome.  Most of the spells either deal with a land spirit or they call on Jesus, God,Mary,The Holy Spirit, or the Devil.  Like most folk traditions alot of the pagan elements are still there but you will have a hard time to find specific workings with the Norse Gods.  There are plenty of books on the market for Nordic witchcraft and magic that deals with those deities.

This is the magic of the people.  We are lead to believe that all the magic died out when the Norse Culture became Christianized.  That is simply not the case.  In fact many of the old workings which dealt with the old gods were simply modified to deal with the spirits and the religion of Christianity.  Knowing this now I am still quite happy with the material in this book as I feel it still connects me to those ancestors.  Afterall my most recent ancestors would have been Christian.  So if they practiced this craft or if they  had a family style of Trolldom it is the Christian spells and spirits they would have worked with.

For the reasons above I have read and enjoyed reading Trolldom.  It took a long time to read.  This book is intense and full of information.  I spent a lot of my early days with the book just going back and forth with the glossary at the beginning of the book.  There were so many new terms and phrases to learn and understand.  The language component in this book is one of the most important elements but it is also one of the most difficult components to deal with.

The language barrier involved in this project is the reason there are two sections based on language.  You have a glossary (which is right after the dedication) and then you have a section on different terms for different practices within this particular set of workings and systems.  Trolldom encompass more than just Norway and Icelandic magic which is why the language issue is present.  This book actually ecompases quite a few different “Nordic” cultures.  It covers Norway, Iceland, Sweeden, and Finland as well as having a bit of Anglo-Saxon and some Lore preserved in Powwow or the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions.  For this reason the section for the glossary and on the terms is not only important to mark and return to throughout the book, but is an essential part of understanding this practice.

This book is broken into a few different sections.  First is the glossary which was the most difficult to get through.  The second section is about the History. Here the author showed how and where Trolldom survived.  I find it interesting to note one of the places visited and mentioned in the book is in my Home state of Maine.  Its not a town I have been to or near but it in some ways brings this book and its workings closer to home.  I feel better knowing that there are places in my home region where this practice was passed on in some manner.

After history you had the terms.  This section was about how different regions had different names for the practice of Trolldom and the practitioners of Trolldom.  Here we also got into the discussion about how one learned Trolldom and how you could become a professional in the art of Trolldom.  In this culture Trolldom was not just a practice it was an honored profession that many people would take advantage of.  You had your specialists and a few generalists each with unique skills and practices as well as a unique term for their practice.

The next section was on divination on the two different terms and styles mentioned.  For me the importance divination plays in Trolldom shows me a relationship with Hoodoo.  Trolldom has infact been called the Norse Hoodoo, so I would say that the use of divination in magical practices and how they dictate the works to be done is a key component in folk magic.  It seems today more and more people are just doing what ever type of working seems to be the best for them and their situation without taking the time to check the source of the problem or situation.

Finally we get into the workings or the methods.  These spells are called Formulas.  The book has many different sections from Health and healing, to hunting, protection, curses, and even a group of miscellaneous spells.  What I liked best about this section of the book was the fact that there was the English spoken components translated but you could also see the original language as well.  For me this shows just the amount of work that went into this tome.

I will say there are several spells and workings that are basically included only for historical accuracy.  Some items listed in spells like animal parts or human bones are not as easy to get a hold of as they may have been at one point in time.   There are some spells that mention digging up and harvesting things like bones of dead men or going to hanging sites.  Many of these practices are not readily acceptable in the world we live in today.  However if you wish to understand a tradition that has been around for centuries you really need to understand these historical spells.  There is enough material that you can find spells and formulas that are suitable for today’s society.

I hope that the author will continue the work and write a book just on the herbal charms and herbal uses in this book.  While you can find several herbs mentioned in the folk name as well as botanical and a common name, only a small selection of the possible herbal charms are even shown in this work.  For many people who practice folk magic Herbal magic is a huge part of the practice.  So I would encourage the author to work on an herbal trolldom book.

Book Review: Backwoods Shamanism

Backwoods ShamanismThis book is full of information. At first I wasn’t really sure what to think by the title of the book. The book is titled backwoods Shamanism, and for me most books on shamanism are vastly different from this book. Most books cover spirits of the land, trance work, and some rituals to honor those spirits. This book contains information on working with spirits and some rituals/ways to honor them but it is not your typical book on shamanism.

I’d put this as a mixture of shamanism and hoodoo myself which is what makes the book so unique. The author teaches about working with spirit and how we need to focus on the physical and the spiritual to heal and have holistic lives. Yet his approach to shamanism and shamanic work is not the familiar Native American style. Its more reminiscent of the African traditions which is due to the Hoodoo practices.

This book comes in three primary sections with five different appendix resources. Each section including the appendix actually deals with a specific and unique area of Hoodo/conjure work. This set up makes the book ideal as a reference for a beginner to the craft and spiritual practice that is Hoodoo.

The first section of the book is all about the history and basics of Hoodoo. One thing I like is how the author approached Hoodoo themselves. In many books you get the feeling that unless you were either raised in the south or are African American you can’t practice Hoodoo. He takes a slightly different approach to this view.

The author makes it clear this it is a specific culture or way of life that makes Hoodoo what it is. He makes it clear that if you can respect the origins and the culture that created Hoodoo you can practice it.

The author spends some time talking about the view of God in Hoodoo. He makes it clear that while Hoodoo is not a religion, a relationship with God and some spirits is essential. The view of God the author expresses is not a conventional view either which further shows that Hoodoo is not a religion but a holistic craft that deals with the spirit and the body together.

For those who are new to magic in general the author includes a basic idea about how magic works. He describes the process of working magic known as sympathetic magic or imitative magic.. This is also part of the authors explanation on how and why you will see things like hair, nails, shed skin and much more in Hoodoo workings.

The last bit of information in the foundation of the book is on ancestral veneration. Working with ancestral spirits is one of the key components that make Hoodoo what it is. The author includes the reasons for working with our ancestors as well as how we can work with them and instructions for setting up an ancestral altar.

The second section of the book is one I wish the author had spent more time with. This is the section on home remedies and folk medicine. A major component of Hoodoo is the medicinal work with herbs and treatments. It is here that the author gives information on the medicinal practices in Hoodoo.

Rootdoctors are one of the many names associated with hoodoo practitioners. This is because many rootworkers were also the neighborhood healers. They were the ones with the knowledge of what herbs could be used for healing what ailment. In the areas where Hoodoo was formed there was little to no money to go see a city doctor unless it was a major problem. So they relied on the local Root Doctors.

This section though is a bit too small. While there are instructions on the different medical terms for herbal mixtures and how they are used there are only a small handful of remedies available. The definitions of the types of remedies and the information on the doctrine of signatures is very useful.

The remedies offered include a cough syrup, flu relief, sleep aid, and a general salve. So while there are only a few remedies these are simple and are enough to start a newbie working on holistic medicine for themselves and their family. They are a starting point, and we all need someplace to start from.

Now we get to where the real meat of the work is. The third section in the book is all about the magical practice. The author titles this section Conjure. This section is full of spells, rituals, workings, and many other useful bits of information. This is why many people will buy the book.

The author starts off by going over the importance of performing divination before doing any sort of working. It is a part of the Hoodoo traditions. These readings not only tell you if work needs to be done but also what sort of work needs to be done to correct the situation you are in. The author covers bone reading and playing card reading and gives instructions on how to work with and use both of them.

The author covers mirror work, making a scrying mirror & scrying, container spells, a few bottle and jar spells, poppet, baths, and more. The author provides detailed instructions on how to perform each spell and how they will work.Something I had never heard of before were wish boxes. With the information provided by the author I may just make one myself.

The last section of the book before we get to the appendices and resources is a section on related traditions. Here the author provides what information he can on traditions that are related to Hoodoo or have similar practices. The author includes this information as he believe that there is something about Hoodoo that is attracting more and more people and that these related traditions may have connections to our own ancestral paths or have something that Hoodoo doesn’t and we need in our practice.

The book serves as an excellent primer on Hoodoo and provides a little bit of everything you need to get started in the practice of Hoodoo.

Book Review: Mama D’s Practical Herbal Guidebook

Mama D's Practical Herbal Guide Book

My first impression of this book is that honestly its way to short. While there is all sorts of information in this book I honestly felt that it was way to short. There should have been more chapters. The author could have done so much more to not only give the book more information but also to help with those new to herbalism and herbal work in any form.

I do think that the author could have spent more time providing some resources for herbs. Places online and other resources. Some of the herbs mentioned are easy to find as they are in many culinary cabinets or they can be found in your backyard like dandelions. Knowing which herbs can be found in the wild and which herbs may need to be ordered would be very useful. There are many small and large businesses online that sell herbs.

As part of the resources I believe that some sort of image or representation of the plants in the book would have been very beneficial. Even if not every herb listed had an image but every two or three it would make things much easier. Not only would the book have had the information on the uses of the plants but it would also have information on how to identify some of the plants.

The author does list a few herbal resources. Unfortunately she also mentions quite clearly that one of the resources is no longer in business. It would have been better if a website that was still in business and still had useful information had been posted instead of one that the reader shouldn’t even bother to find as they are no longer in business.

The best thing the author does in this book is provide an excellent disclaimer. There are many herbal books on the market that cover medicinal aspects of herbs and provides home remedy instructions. However without a lot of personal study and knowledge a person can do more harm than good from trying alternatives to modern medicine. For this reason the authors disclaimer is perfect. It protects her information and explains that using these remedies is at your own discretion and risk.

One thing I really do like is how simple and direct the information is. The author organizes and presents the information provided to you by both type of ailment and herbal associations. For me this is a great way to present the information as you see the associations and uses in two different formats.

In the listings I find it a bit of a relief that the author makes note of a few of the herbs that could be problematic and explains what some of those issues are. This information is essential to anyone who has any sort of reaction to aspirin or who may use an herbal supplement longer than prescribed because its natural and not chemical. Just because its an herb doesn’t mean it wont have an effect on the body that could be negative.

I do wish that the author had provided more recipes and information on making your own. In the recipes section there are only a handful of teas and incenses covered. Incenses and teas are only one way you can work with these herbs for health and magic. I would have liked some information on adding to foods and tinctures or other workings with herbs. A few more specifics on step by step preparation would have also been useful.

In the end I am going to continue to use this small guide as a reference in my practice of magic and herbal wellness. I would like to see it expanded into a larger volume with more information on the herbs and more ways to work with them.

Book Review: The Wiccan Wellness Book

Wiccan Wellness Book

The Wiccan Wellness book is one of a kind. If you are looking just for spells and rituals for healing then this book is not for you. If you are looking for herbal remedies and solutions to your health issues this is not the book for you. If you are looking for ways to increase your health in all areas mental,physical, and spiritual this book is perfect for you. While the author comes from a Wiccan perspective the book is geared towards any and all philosophies or religious views. The goal of the book is to provide simple tools to allow a person to have optimum health in the mind, the body, and the spirit.

Right now my biggest complaint is that the book seemed to be too short and was missing a conclusion. I felt like the final chapter just left us hanging for more. I wasn’t thinking another chapter, even though another chapter would have been useful but maybe a final word or two to tie everything we had read about in the book together. It just ended with no real tie to put it all together.

The rest of the book is great. There is excellent material in here. Several of the tips in one chapter have already made a huge difference in the way I approach my day to day tasks and my day job at the local CVS. It may be small but there is alot of information packed into this one book.

The book begins with an introduction. Here the author covers both her reasons for writing the book and how she connected her spiritual path with health, healing, and wellness. It is also here that we learn that the author wrote this book not just focusing on Wiccans but having it be open to any one open to holistic natural healing and natural spirituality.

The first chapter really sets the tone for the book. This is where the real concept of holistic person is. Right of the bat the book hits you with the biggest concept of all: Thou Art God and Thou Art Goddess. This is part of the concept core to the book. The belief that we have an inner divine spark and we can control how we heal and live. This is also how we learn we can serve the Gods we work with through our daily lives by honoring that divine spark within you.

The author gives us a few questions to think about right off the bat like how we react to stress and what sorts of foods are we eating in our diet. She asks us to take a look at how we stand and what our relationship with our body and the world really is at this point in our lives. After this the author discusses the Wiccan Rede and how it can be a part of healing the world around you and yourself. The chapter ends with a definition of what the path to health really entails.

The second chapter is one that you don’t find in a lot of health books. This is a chapter on using writing or more specifically journaling as a healing tool for the mind, body, and spirit. I’ll be honest. I originally laughed at the chapter concept having done some health journals before I wasn’t convinced that it deserved to be in a book on wellness and healing.

After reading through the exercises I can see how it works in this context. This journal is more than a healing journal. It is a connection to your mind, your body, and your spirit. I found the spirit letter to be the most useful of the exercises in that section of the book. It is something I am going to start including in my practice. There are other exercises in this section that may be useful to others. Some I have tried and some I have not. I do advise at least trying the daily journal exercise if nothing else.

The exercise chapter is the third chapter in this book. The author gives us right off the bat an exercise to do in order to deal with the excuses people seem to come up with for not exercising. This was something I found useful as I know I am guilty of coming up with excuses not to do exercise.

The second part of the chapter goes over several types of exercises that can be done. Some at home with DVD’s and minimal or no tools and others with joining classes or going to the gym. Two of the exercises she mentions I have to support which are the martial arts and yoga both of which have spiritual traditions behind them in many cases, which means you can exercise your body, your mind through awareness, and your spirit all together.

Chapter four is the one that I got the most about. This is a chapter about healthy surroundings. This chapter covers a technique/style that is often used called Feng Shui. That was something I expected. What I didn’t expect was a detailed section on bringing joy, happiness and well being into a day job like working for CVS.

The section on bringing well-being into my day to day job was wonderful. The author mentioned two things that I took to heart and am now trying to do in work. Each of these items was a simple task that doesn’t take much time. Together they provide a powerful spiritual and emotional exercise for day to day life.

The first is dedicate one single task during the work day to service of the Gods. The other is find one thing positive about your job (not thinking about paychecks, but other aspects like something you enjoy about your job). For me when I realized why I enjoyed my job at CVS was because I get to help people I was able to find much more enjoyment out of my shifts and it feels much more productive while I work. I have not done a task with the Gods in mind yet but I am going to try to do that during my next shift.

The fifth chapter is one that I found very useful. This was the section on versions of natural healthcare and health alternatives. Here the author covers several methods of health services some that we can practice ourselves with little or no formal training and others that require certifications and or licenses. The best part of this chapter was that is covers some traditional methods like acupuncture and herbalism but also covered Reiki and Polarity therapy. With each section of type of natural health care the author provides a resource so that you can find a practitioner in your area!

My favorite sections of the book though are the last two chapters. Chapter six is all about finding an herbal spirit partner to do healing work with. For me this gave me several ideas on ways I can connect to herbs I use in healing oils, incense, and tinctures better. For anyone interested in working with plants as magical and spiritual aids this chapter is really for you.

The final chapter is a chapter on several different healing rituals. This is where the religious/and spiritual connection really fits into the book. Most of these rituals have a Wiccan flair to them as the author is Wiccan herself. However if you don’t follow Wicca but work with other Gods or No Gods you can still work many of these rituals with minor alterations.

In the end the best thing I can say about this book is not only does the author have an extensive bibliography she also added a book or two at the end of each chapter for the material in that chapter. This is where I am most impressed as there were minimal Wicca/Witchcraft books referenced and many healing and health or spiritual journals and books listed showing that author really did take a wide approach to spirituality, healing, and the connections that exist there.

Reading Progress
04/28 marked as: read

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Book Review: Ancient Spellcraft

Ancient Spellcraft

 

Review: Ancient Spellcraft by Laura Perry

There are many books on spells and rituals on the market.  There are some books that deal with magic without deities and some that deal with deities and spirits.  Most of the spells you will find in those books that deal with the ancient deities are modern in origin.  This book is a unique treasure among spell books.  This book actually goes to the source for information on the spells and magical rituals of our ancient fore bearers.

There are nine sections in this book.  There is the introduction and 8 chapters in the book itself.  This book is well organized, though there is one chapter I may have placed in a different location because of a quote mentioned in that chapter.  The rest of the book I feel is in perfect order.  The first chapter is about spell casting the hows and whys and includes a little information about the deities involved.  The second chapter covers the context of the cultures in the book. The next six chapters are full of spells and rituals that are simple, practical, and easy to perform.

The first chapter is one that should not be skipped.  I know its easy when you are researching spells and rituals to jump right to the spells and rituals, which is fine once you know a bit about how magic work and the deities and spirits that are involved.  If you are a beginner or just curious about spell crafting you really need to read this chapter.  It covers the meaning of the word spell, the methods. getting into a magical mindset, and setting up your workspace.  All of those items are important for effective spell casting techniques.

The second chapter like the first one should not be skipped.  This section is all about the region and the cultures that the spells in this book come from.  When you are working with deities and spirits it is important to understand them.  This section talks to you about the different cultures, where they were, when they were in power, and a bit about their history.  This information gives you a basic idea about the types of people that worked with the deities and forces mentioned in the book.  This allows you to approach the powers within as respectfully as you can.

The third Chapter is where we finally start get into the meat of the book.  This is where we start getting into spells and rituals for different needs.  For me this is where the chapter on protection spells should be.  The author states at the beginning of the chapter of protection: “There are more spells in this section of the book than in any other section of this book because protection is of paramount importance.  If we are not protected, we will have no chance to enjoy prosperity, fertility, and all the rest” (Ancient Spell Craft pg 136 by Laura Perry)  Instead the author start out with spells for prosperity.

At the start of each of the chapters on spells there is information on the different types of spells.  There is prosperity of the fields, the business, and other aspects.  The first few pages in the chapter on prosperity and money magic covers the different types.  The author then provides several different spells on field prosperity and on money spells.

The fourth chapter is about Romance spells.  Here the author discusses how while the concept of romantic marriages is new the practice of performing love magic has always been around.  In the past they have been more about lovers outside of marriage or in the form of sacred lovers at the temples.  There are several different spells in this portion, none of them based on targetting someone already in a relationship but in your own words one who will be right for you.

The fifth chapter is about spells for Fertility.  Here the spells are as much about getting pregnant and having children as it is about the fertility of the land.  Without fertile farmlands crops etc we can not have food to live on.  In the ancient world crops were the way of life.  Today those spells and rituals are still effective for personal home gardens and for larger farmers.  The pregnancy spells also provide several different ways of asking for aid in that area of your life.

The sixth chapter is all about protection.  The spells in this section cover protection of the home, your business, from theft, and several other things.  As I said earlier because of the emphasis the author places on protection (in the beginning and at the end of the chapter) I feel that this should have been the first chapter on practical magic.  The chapter ends with a discussion about spiritual protection which is necessary when one begins to work magic and perform rituals. It is for this reason I believe the chapter should be the first one.  Other than that it has every sort of protection that you could ever need to use based on day to day life.

The seventh chapter in the book is my favorite section.  I am a fond of healing spells and healing based magic.  That is the focus of this chapter.  This spell has a road opener spell (for those unable to move forward based on illnesses or issues) and spells about removing your illnesses.  There are spells for emotional healing as well as physical healing.  This chapter covers everything you would ever need to know for any sort of healing.

The last chapter is on divination.  Reading oracles and divining the future has always been a part of religious and magical workings.  There are many different traditions of divination from tarot cards to I-ching coins, to reading stones tossed in a blanket.  This chapter provides several different spells and divination rituals of sorts.  These simple to perform spells often allow for easy to read signs and omens to see if your works are going to come through and to see what needs to be done in a situation.

I want to compliment the author on their diligent research on the topic of ancient magic and the cultures.  They have a substantial bibliography for such a small and informative book.  The only other suggestion I would have to make this book better would be to have an appendix in new editions listing the deities mentioned and their associations so people have references for the deities when they decide to start making their own spells.

Review: Practical Candle Burning Rituals

Practical Candle Burning Rituals

 

I have been a practicing with for 17 years. It’s only been in the last few years that I have actually started to be open to working candle magic. I really had no idea how to start and how to get working. This book provided me with everything that I needed to know. Now there are several spells in this books that I am excited to try.

This simple book is really made out of four different sections. There is the section of preparation, section for witchcraft style spells, and a section on Christian style candle magic rituals. The final section is an appendix that talks about and covers temptation in magic and ways to work magic without candles due to living situations.

The section on recuperation which opens the book really should not be forgotten. This small section talks about the various things you need to be ready to practice this magic. There are no complex theories, breathing rituals or guided meditations. Just simple explanations on tools, space, and how to work with the candle. The section closes with a few important correspondences for colors, days of the week, and colors for the zodiac signs (all of which are important for the spells and rituals in the following sections).

The first thing mentioned in the section about witchcraft spells I dont agree with which was a statement about witchcraft being a religion and magic a practice. Witchcraft is not a religion. It can have religious elements. However since witchcraft was not the focus of the book, the mention was only really to note the difference in approach between the witchcraft and pagan spells and the Christian themed spells.

The spells are written out in plain and simple language. The only materials needed for the spells are the candles and dressing oils and incense of your choice. Each spell comes with an altar or work surface set up. All you need to do is follow the words as they are outlined in the book. Every altar setup includes a space for the book to use as a reference.

The third section of the book focuses on Christian spells. Many of these spells use the Psalms in the working. The spells are very similar to the workings in the previous section. The differences really are in the spirits and divine beings that are involved. The best part about this section is that is gives Christian Witches a great starting point and reference guide for spells that can be used in their day to day lives.

The appendices honestly I think would be best located in the opening section. I say this because here there is a discussion on creative visualization and a little bit on magical ethics. I believe that these sections placed earlier in the book would allow the practitioner to have more success in magic earlier since visualization is a large part of many magical traditions.

I overall have to say that this book is a great resource and will be a reference guide for me in many years to come.

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