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Book Review: Pagan Portals: Moon Magic by Rachel Patterson

December 1st, 2016

Book Review: Pagan Portals: Moon Magic by Rachel Patterson

 

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Pagan Portals is, as the name suggests, a series of books (by various authors) with the aim of introducing various aspects of Paganism. Moon Magic seems a staple in this diet, as there are few branches of Paganism that don’t require at least some familiarity with the cycles of the moon. My initial concern is that this book may have little to offer the experienced practitioner. Just looking at the contents page dispels these fears instantly. Not only does Rachel (also known as Tansy Firedragon) cover what I would think of as ‘The Basic’ such as the phases of the moon, Esbats and some of the more well-known moon rituals, she also brings a fascinating amount of detail including working with cords, charms and supernatural creatures.
So rubbing my hands together gleefully at the prospect of learning something new about my favourite satellite, I dive right in. Rachel writes in a very accessible style that is very inclusive to readers of all aptitudes. Facts are listed in well written, easy to consume bites, and each section that stems after is broken down in such a way it could almost be used as a reference book. Each moon phase has its own correspondences and magic, so it’s easy enough to flick through to find what you need at a specific time. I would find the information on oils and crystals particularly useful.
The meditations included are beautiful; someone really needs to make a podcast of these though so they can be downloaded and played at whim!
We move from the phases of the moon into the seasonal moon and examine different ways of using a moon calendar including relating it to the controversial Celtic Tree calendar. I’m glad she includes this though; it shows that moon magic and timings are not just for Wicca, but for any path.
I am particularly pleased with the Planting with the Moon chapter; this is such a simple aspect of bio-dynamic agriculture but so many people forget the impact the Moon has on plants and the soil. I’ve often used lunar agrarian principles for my own garden and others’, but this chapter teaches me things I never knew and will definitely implement myself.
This book is very short and as such you really have no excuse to not read it. If you have even the slightest interest in Paganism, Magic, natural living or astrology, this book will be relevant to you. The moon affects all of us, after all! Rachel brings a wealth of information together in such a way that you can go back to this book time and again, without it ever feeling old. The style is simple and full of common sense, yet magical and wondrous at the same time. Quite an achievement.

Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery

Everyday Magic, Spells, and Recipes

By: Kris Bradley

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Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery by Kris Bradley is a concise guide to Domestic Witchcraft. Kris Bradley describes Domestic Witchery as “…a magical practice based on bringing magic and deity into the mundane of everyday domestic life. It’s the realization that even the simplest household chores can be transformed to influence the energies in our homes and lives…” Within the pages can be found spells and rituals for the Cottage Witch as well as recipes for many magical concoctions.

I found the down to earth manner of this book to be both refreshing and welcome. Kris Bradley comes across as a warm and friendly person that I would love to have a chat over some fragrant herbal tea with. As a mom, I appreciate the tidbits of activities and spells she includes about our beloved children.

Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery is full of practical advice for Domestic and Cottage Witchery. Chapters on household deities and spirits, the elements, and the Sabbats are sure to keep you magically busy for many years. The chapter on The Domestic Witch’s herbal and the hefty amount of magical recipes are worth the price alone of this fact filled book. Included are recipes for a Nightmare Preventive Sweep, Black Salt, Ancestor Water, Four Thieves Vinegar, Heartbreak Ease Wash (Who couldn’t use this at some time in their life?), Banishing Oil, and many others. You will find information on such kitchen staples as rice, beer, wine, coffee, and several of the herbs used for cooking.

This magic packed book proudly sits in my kitchen with my recipe and herbal books. I find myself turning to it often for the day to day activities that go on in my home (cooking, cleaning, washing, etc.). Kris Bradley has filled this heartfelt book with her years of magical knowledge as a Domestic Witch. Anyone interested in Cottage, Household, or Domestic Witchcraft can’t go wrong with Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery

Publisher: WeiserBooks (October 31, 2012)

 

 

 

 

 

WITCHCRAFT – A HANDBOOK OF MAGIC, SPELLS AND POTIONS

BY ANASTASIA GREYWOLF

ILLUSTRATIONS BY MELISSA WEST

Witchcraft

When I first opened the book to do a quick scan, I thought, “look at all of these spells, what fun!” I thought it very reminiscent of the witchcraft spell books that were around a few decades ago.

Ms. Greywolf starts with an introduction to Witchcraft, and what it means to her, recognizing that it means different things to different people. She describes how she would cast a circle. There is a small section on some of the tools of witchcraft, such as a wand, smudge stick, knife, etc.

The bulk of the book is just chock-full of spells. They are broken down into chapters, such as “Safekeeping Spells”, “Power Spells”, “Healing Spells”. There are “Spells Against Your Enemies” and “Counter Spells”; “Love Spells” and “Fortune Spells”; “Spells for Animals” and “Weather Spells”.

One of the things I liked the most was that the spells come from different traditions and cultures. In the section on “Safekeeping Spells”, there were Gypsy Incantations, Pow-Wow Spells, ancient Hindu incantations, and something the author calls “American Magician Spells”.

There is an ancient Macedonian Charm for banishing pimples, and a Gaelic Charm to cure drunkenness.

In the “Counter-Spells” section, there are spells against one who practices hostile magic, to exorcise a spirit, and strangely enough for a Witchcraft book, a European Magician’s spell against Witches, as well as a spell for a Witch to not be allowed to leave a church.

In this age of casinos popping up everywhere, the “Luck and Fortune” section has spells for success in gambling and a Pow-Wow charm to win every game of cards, which consists of tying the heart of a bat to your right arm with a red silken string.

Since everyone is usually most interested in “Love Spells”, there are spells to arouse passionate love in both a man and a woman, as well as those for obtaining a husband, or a wife. All of these, by the way, are Hindu Incantations.

“Power Spells” include a Cherokee Shaman’s ritual to find something that has been lost, and American Witch’s Spells for flying and making a truth serum.

There is a chapter on “Communing with the Dead”. While I personally do not believe this is something you should be doing unprepared or without years of training, there are European Magician Rituals and Charms for making a circle for a séance and getting answers from Spirits, as well as making those Spirits obedient.

The one thing I did find rather odd is that in several Pow-Wow and Gypsy Spells/Charms, the spells call upon the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost/Spirit. Other than attending many Pow-Wows (at which the Christian God has never once been mentioned), I decided to do a little research on my own. As far as the Roma people, they do not have any official faith and there are those that have converted to Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. For the Native Americans in our country, there are many of them that have converted to the Christian faith, but they also honor their own tribal spiritual beliefs and customs. This would indicate that there may be charms in both Roma and Native American Traditions that call on the Christian deities, depending upon how ancient these charms may be.

The last two chapters are dedicated to symbols and omens, and the best day to do a conjuration. The omens are both good (seeing an animal in an unexpected place indicates the finding of a treasure) and bad (it is unlucky for three married brothers to live in the same house). There is also a listing of the meanings for the different colors. For conjurations, we are told that Tuesday is best for conjuring Lucifer and each of the other days of the week are best for conjuring other varied demons.

Ms. Greywolf does include a list of her sources toward the end of the book.

All in all, it really is a fun type of book. I do not believe that those who are actually pagan/wiccan/witches would find much use in many of the spells included here, although I do think there may be a couple of hidden gems; that being said, I do think they would enjoy reading them. For non-pagans, it would be a very entertaining read.

Book review

The Witches’ Almanac, Issue 36

Water: Our Primal Source

Published by the Witches’ Almanac Ltd.

almanac

This almanac, founded in 1971, has become a traditional pagan reference. It starts with the beginning of the astrological year, running from Spring 2016-17. Its theme is water; the current year’s theme is air.

One of the parts I find most useful is the moon calendar noting the moon’s phases and place in the zodiac. I also enjoy the year’s astrological forecasts for each zodiac sign, beginning with the vernal equinox. Each two-page spread touches on highlights for the year, health, love, spirituality and finance.

Other reference information includes astrological keys, eclipses, retrograde planetary motion and how to plant by the phases of the moon. While all this information is available somewhere online, it’s nice to have it all in one place you can trust.

The rest of the 206 pages are a collection of ancient lore and legends, trivia and wisdom. Among this issue’s lineup of obscure topics are “Waynaboozhoo: The Great Flood Story of the Ojibwa – A traditional tale of good and evil,” “The Margate Grotto: A Mystery Spelled in Shells,” and “The Singing Tower and Spook Hill: A Sacred Journey though Old Florida.”

The almanac’s short articles present a mix of perspectives and traditions; with more than 40, there is sure to be something of interest to you. Black-and-white images appear on nearly every page.

If you use the moon at all in your practice, you’ll be reaching for this again and again.

Book Review:  The Only Wiccan Spell Book You’ll Ever Need by Marian Singer & Trish MacGregor

 

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First off, I found this book very informative and well written. I was quite impressed by the amount of information they fit in such a small book. I was pleasantly surprised. The book starts off with their explanation of what Wicca is. “Wicca is an ancient practice, a gentle, earth-oriented religion that seeks truth and understanding, and a way of life meant to affect inner change. Yes, it’s a framework for using magickal powers. It also involves worshipping ancient Pagan deities, and it recognizes the duality of the Divine as one force that incorporates male and female, both God and Goddess. It encourages respect for nature, stresses concern for the planet, and acknowledges that the life force should be reverences in all things, as well”. They then touch on a few good points including some “rules”, like not harming others. They explain that the book can be used as a guideline as well. Also in the introduction is what I think may be my favourite quote in the book. “The true magick of Wicca lies in developing your own inner potential and spirituality. Remember that deep inside yourself, you already have the power to tap into the energy of the universe and the natural world around you; you just need to recognize that potential and direct it”.

Part 1 is all about understanding Wicca, witchcraft and spells; with the first chapter of that getting into philosophy and ideology. It really gets into things like what a witch, Wicca, magick, etc really is. You learn a bit about some gods and goddesses and the Threefold law. A really nice feature that you start to see here is the “Wiccan Wonderings” They go throughout the book and answer random questions. It breaks up the chapters, as some are related to what the chapter is, and some are just random. They get into The Wiccan Creed in this chapter as well. Which goes through 6 points (preserving the environment, honoring yourself and others, etc.) This chapter ends with a Zen prayer that they tell you is the first spell you are going to cast. It is meant to increase a person’s energy and they ask you to write the name of the person who whom you’re saying the prayer for at the top. It’s a great way to end the chapter.

Chapter 2 gets into the belief, intent and the magickal world around us. With one of the first things stating that “belief is the core of any spell” They talk about how you need to find your own belief system, instead of what you learned from someone else. You need to develop your personal code and find an understanding of magick and spells. Of course, they talk about the moon cycles, which as we all know if vital when learning about spells and how you should cast certain spells depending on what phase the moon is at as “The moon, after all, is our closest celestial neighbor.”

Chapter 3 touches on creating a sacred space. The authors write about power spots, ambiance, casting a circle, building an altar, calling the quarters, and releasing the space. “The more you work magick in an area, the more saturated with energy it becomes. Similarly, the more you invoke the quarters in that space, the more protective energy lingers therein”.

The next chapter is all about tools and symbolism and in the opening paragraph the authors state “In magick, the witch is the enabler. A focused will is all that an effective witch needs for magick. Everything else just makes the job easier.” Then they get right into the tools of the trade, covering all sorts of items. A really nice addition to this chapter is them listing various oils and herbs, showing which ones to use depending on what you’re needing. Once they get into incense and candles they explain the importance of colours. “Science has proven that colors have a particular vibration, a tone that touches us in a particular way”. Then of course, they get into what colour means what. Lastly, the authors get into gemstones, crystals, metals, minerals, stones, shells and fossils, while listing the importance of each in this chapter.

Chapter 5 touches on spellcraft fundamentals, which gets into banishing, enchantment and healing. They talk about good luck knots, portable magick like charms, written spells, amulets, talismans and fetishes. Also in this chapter they get into adapting and creating spells from scratch and even give you 9 steps to help you create spells.

Moving onto the next chapter, it’s time to get into the types of magick. First off elemental, then kitchen witchery, which gives you the 3 ingredients for successful kitchen witchery (simplicity, creativity and personalization). A nice feature as well is there is a section on how to make your own candles. After kitchen, they get into Green witchcraft. “The heart and soul of green magick is an intimate connection and appreciation of nature”. I love how they have a part about sprouting spells, which encourages people to grow their own garden. Next, creature craft is brought up and you learn about familiars, spiritual signposts, power animals, totems, wild magick and incorporating animal elements into magick like antlers, eggshells, feathers, fur, nails, teeth and whiskers. Ending the types of magick you learn all about the elemental animals.

So that was part one. Part two is all about spell crafting, with the first chapter being on love spells. “…love spells aren’t meant to enchant of bewitch someone into falling in love with you. We all have free will and nothing can violate that will- not even magick or spells. The true purpose of a love spell is to enhance and empower your own energy so you attract the individual who is the best for you”. I really like how in this book they say things straight out and the talk about loving yourself and taking emotional inventory, figuring out power days and astrology. Then it gets into the 11 spells in this chapter.

Spells for health is next. In this chapter they get into the human energy field, which was very interesting to read. This is something that stood out to me and it made me feel like this is one thing I need to do to take of myself. “The energy centres are said to contain everything we have ever felt, thought and experienced. They are our body’s data banks in this life and are imprinted with our soul’s history throughout many lives. Illness manifests first in the body’s energy field, where it can be seen by the individual who can perceive the field.” This chapter contains numerous spells in regards to yours and others health. There are 7 spells in total.

Chapter 9 touches on a few similar subjects; those being luck. Prosperity and abundance. You need to think about what this means to you so there is an exercise in the start to help you figure that out. “True prosperity begins with feeling good about yourself…it is never an amount of money; it is a state of mind. Prosperity or lack of it is an outer expression of the ideas in your head”. I think that that quote is something you don’t always hear about in spell books. So I appreciated that they focused more on the mental side of it instead of money. This chapter contains 15 spells including one where you can create your own lucky charm.

Next you reach spells for lean times, which focuses on initiating cycles in your life and spells for fear. There are 7 spells in this chapter. The next chapter kind of ties in with spells for personal power, which again focuses on developing yourself. “To know yourself and to use what you learn requires an act of will. “After that they get into a section about The Power of Your Will that merges right into the spells. There are only 3 spells in this chapter as it really focuses on your field of energy, personal empowerment, the flow, and stretching your energy field.

Chapter 12 is next. Spells for creativity. I really enjoyed this section and they start right into seeing what your ultimate creative goals are by asking questions like “What do you consider the most creative part of your life and why”? “How can you apply your creative talents in another area of your life to get out of that rut?” And then they talk about breaking out of your rut. The authors write about dreams as well. This chapter has 6 spells.

Following creativity we move into business. “The quality of your personal professional life is intimately connected with your beliefs about prosperity and success. If you feel unworthy, this will be reflected in your pocketbook and in your work.” The beginning of this chapter starts with a list of questions you need to ask yourself before anything. It’s nice because they have questions for both self-employed people and those who work for someone else. There are 6 spells in this chapter, and there are several spots to read a little bit more about negativity, recognizing your genius, new ventures and goals.

Chapter 14 is all about spells for your home. Also a great chapter as it opens with thinking about your home’s unique personality, which some people may not think about. There are also 6 spells in this chapter with small breaks between them touching on several topics. The next chapter is all about travel, extending your energy field, dealing with people in front of you, calming a crying baby and creating space in your head. There aren’t a lot of spells in this chapter (3) but there is a lot of great material.

The last category of spells is all about kids and kids doing spells. I thought this was quite unique as there isn’t as much material out there for this topic. It’s great for those who have children and want to get them involved in magick. It’s pretty basic, but at the end the authors have a section with helping kids create their own spells.

All in all I would recommend this book. It’s well put together and is not only a book of spells, but has a lot of information for those new to magick and those who have been practising for years. The spells are generally pretty basic and the items needed are easy to find. I mean, it says the only spell book you’ll ever need, which I could see for some, but not myself. I enjoy having a wider variety and of course you can’t fit spells for everything in 209 pages. It’s a fantastic read though and for a great price and is a great asset to anyone’s collection.

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