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Book Review – The Witchcraft Handbook by Midia Star

January 1st, 2019

Book
Review

The
Witchcraft Handbook:

Unleash
Your Magical Powers to Create the Life You Want

By
Midia Star

This
is a beginner’s book, someone who has some experience may use the
spells in this book just as a jumping off point to create some new
spells. At the very beginning of the book, the first thing the
author writes is “Witchcraft is the practical side of the Wiccan
religion.” I have to say that I disagree with that statement
because not all witches are Wiccan.

I
had a hard time on telling what demographic the writer was going
after with this book. There are spells for home, sex, work, and love.
While at the back of the book there is a section on Dreamboards. In
this section, the writer states that the Dreamboard should be for
your dreams and not those of your friends or parents.

While
the author’s writing is well done, I do have to wonder about the
information this book contains. As far as information on herbs,
crystals, oils, and Moon phases the author is spot on. But there are
other little small things that I feel are misinformation.

Page
79 of the book the author writes in the Did You Know? box:
“Christians once used the pentagram as a religious symbol. Each
point represented the five wounds of Christ. To pagans and to
witches it represents Morrigan, the war goddess who fights for peace
in good fortune for others. If you see the pentagram drawn with the
top point of the star pointing to the bottom of the circle, this
represents dark and sinister magic, so always draw your pentagram
with the top point of the star pointing upwards.” The part about
the Christian’s is correct. I honestly don’t know about the
Morrigan part. But the inverted Pentacle I do know something about.
This is misinformation because on specific paths the pentacle with
the star pointing down is a sign of protection or even a sign of
attaining another degree within that path.

On
page 97 the author writes when talking about A Garden Space: that in
the William Shakespeare’s witches’ famous incantation’ eye of
newt and toe of frog’ actually refers to mustard seeds and a type
of buttercup plant. I had never heard that myself, I would like to
know what research the author used to arrive at that conclusion.

On
page 123 Midia Star writes in the Did You Know? box: “The Druids
where the first to believe and the power of the four-leaf clover.”
Now whether this is true or not I don’t know, again I would like to
know other resources the author used to arrive at that conclusion.

The
book contains no bibliography, or other sources were the author may
have gotten their information. The author does state that they have
tried the spells and they have worked for them. Again, as I said at
the beginning, the information on herbs, oils, candles, and the Moon
phase are all spot on. But, I do take exception to the things I have
listed, due to the lack of the bibliography.

The Witchcraft Handbook: Unleash Your Magical Powers to Create the Life You Want on Amazon

***

About
the Author:

Dawn
Borries
 loves
reading and was thrilled to become a Reviewer for PaganPages.Org.
Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past
25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are
interested in a reading you can reach her at: Readings
by Dawn
on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/Readings-by-Dawn-1608860142735781/

Review of Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch

 

 

I received a “review copy” of The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space With Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock just before the Thanksgiving holiday. This handsome book is published by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, and is the twelfth book by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. On Simon and Schuster’s author website for Arin Murphy-Hiscock, you can find all the titles of her other published books. Some were known to me and some were not. Some, like Birds: A Spiritual Field Guide, I had borrowed from my local public library and had on my “to-buy” list. So naturally I was elated to get The House Witch. I immediately cracked it open and wrote my name and the date on the inside cover.

But the demands of the Thanksgiving Holiday – cooking the meal and getting together with family in town for just a few days – meant that I wasn’t able to sit down and give The House Witch a good read. And then I caught my son’s cold. Sick and miserable, I gave up. I took a box of tissues and curled up on the couch under a hand-crocheted afghan for several days in a state of semi-slumber.

When I did finally get back to The House Witch, I was delighted, as I knew I would be. One my very first impressions was, “Gee, I wish there had been books like this back when I was first getting into witchcraft and wicca!” In the 1970’s and 1980’s, there were only a few books out on the subject and most of them – like Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance – were geared toward the large group or the coven but very rarely the solitary practitioner. Not until Scott Cunningham published Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner in 1988 that you started to see more attention paid to the solitary witch. While The House Witch is not specifically written for the solitary witch, it addresses the many concerns of those of us who practice alone – whether we live alone or with other people.

I was born in May, under the sun sign of Taurus, my moon in Pisces, with Cancer rising. Issues of home and health and happiness have always been forefront in my spiritual practice, so it is natural that I would gravitate toward creating and maintaining a beautiful home, even if that home is a tiny apartment in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in a rust-belt city. Because of my wonderful grandmothers, I was always aware of the magic in everyday things but many people – especially those born after, say, 1980 – do not have the benefit of the wisdom of their elders. On page 17, Murphy-Hiscock lists four steps that anyone can learn to “recognize the magic” as she terms it, reminding us to keep things simple and always to focus on what we are doing in the house. These steps are: live in the moment, be aware of your intent, direct your energy properly and focus on an action. Anyone who has studied any kind of meditation, magical instruction or spiritual path will recognize these steps. So just what does all of this have to do with the home and the hearth? Murphy-Hoscock writes,

“Opening yourself to the simplest of tasks and allowing them to inspire you with some insight or wisdom, or even a

moment of peace, illustrates that the Divine can whisper to you in the oddest of unexpected places. Hearthcraft is

about communing with the Divine through everyday tasks, not through complicated formal ritual.” (page 19)

She talks about home as sacred space. One thing she mentions is the removal of shoes in cultures such as Japan and other parts of Southeast Asia; I don’t allow anyone to wear shoes into my apartment and I am always amazed – when I watch TV, for instance – and I see people, not only with their shoes on inside their homes but also on the furniture!

When I was growing up, I always lived in houses that had fireplaces and we usually had a fire most winter evenings, so the idea of a hearth and a hearth fire is not unknown to me – one of our houses actually had a giant hearth built into the wall surrounding the fireplace! But since I have left my parents’ house, I have never lived in a house with a fireplace, much to my great sadness. I consider my hearth to be my kitchen oven or perhaps a meditation candle. However, when I was sick a day ago, I had some split pea soup and freshly baked bread and lay down for a nap. I could feel the warmth of the soup and bread in my belly and it occurred to me that my hearth fire was inside of me.

With this in mind, the “Bank Your Inner Flame” ritual on page 45 makes perfect sense. I had a wonderful warmth inside of me and I needed to be able to hold onto that warmth. It wasn’t just the soup and bread – it was the sense of being safe and secure in my own home. I love the word “smooring” – I love anything Scottish and Gaelic – I added it to my list of cool words and then I copied the “smooring prayer” (page 46) into my personal prayer book.

This book is filled with jewels.

There is a chapter on “The Magic of the Cauldron” in which she talks about how to find and care for a cast-iron cauldron. “Hearth and Home Deities” is just what it sounds like – a chapter of gods and goddesses of the home and hearth. The next chapter is about the kitchen as a sacred space – something that not many people even think about seriously nowadays. If your idea of cooking is opening up a box of prepared food and popping it into the microwave – or even using something like Hamburger Helper – then I would give Chapters 6, 8 and 9 a very close reading. As I already stated, Chapter 6 is about the kitchen as a sacred space. Chapter 8 is “Magic at the Hearth” and Chapter 9 is “The Spirituality of Food”. Recipes included!!!!!

Other topics in this fabulous book are “Using Hearthcraft to Protect Your Home”, “Herbs, crafts, and other Hearth-Related Magic Work”, and a chapter of various spells, rituals and blessings. Quite naturally, there is an appendix and a bibliography that have quite a bit of information in them as well.

In the “Postscript”, Arin Murphy-Hiscock writes, “Several times as I was writing this book, my thoughts moved faster than my fingers, and as a result ‘hearth fire’ very often came out as ‘heart fire.’ I wonder, at times, if my subconscious was trying to tell me something.” (page 247). I do not wonder at all. This book most assuredly set my heart on fire. In this rich season of Yuletide joy, when all of us decorate our houses with festive lights and traditional ornaments that may only have meaning to our loved ones alone, The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space With Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home by Arin Murphy-Hiscock is a book which brings together all the spiritual and happiness that home and hearth can represent. I highly recommend it for anyone on any spiritual path.

References

Murphy-Hiscock, Arin. The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home. NY: Adams Media, 2018.

The House Witch: Your Complete Guide to Creating a Magical Space with Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Musings on Ordinary Magic and Daily Conjurings

 

 

Maria’s book is described as a collection of ‘micro-meditations and celebratory reflections on living life as a wild woman’. How could I not be intrigued? Though far from a true wild woman myself thanks to my urban-slash-suburban setting, I’m always drawn to the idea of being freer, away from the hubbub and city grind. This book holds chapter after chapter of golden, glowing moments from just such a life, and is as compelling as it is calming.

Each chapter is short and sweet in the best possible meaning of that phrase. One chapter focuses on the magic of chamomile, from the point of view of taking the tiny, dried buds and bringing them to life in a soothing cup of tea. Another reflects on the divine powers of the onion. This is true ‘everyday’ magic. Rituals we may go through every day without perhaps realising the power inherent within our actions. Maria encourages us to pause, drink in what we are doing and absorb every moment’s magical potential.

I love the meditative nature of the chapters. Most are written in the second person, a style I normally find a bit jarring. In this book it works really well. This is because it is written in the same way a guided meditation is spoken to you. As you read you can almost hear a gentle voice whispering the words directly into your brain and allowing you to completely visualise and lose yourself in each moment.

I have found this book immensely useful for reminding me to stop and take stock. It helps me enjoy each moment more fully, not by trying to recapture the moments in the book but by following the example of living fully in each minute and being grateful for the enchantment that flows through every second. A thoroughly wonderful book. Recommended for all.

Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic & Daily Conjurings on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Book Review

The Transformative Witchcraft: The Greater Mysteries

by Jason Mankey

Repetition is a good thing, especially when the author infuses it with their own ideas and experiences. I believe that everything that we can do to make this information relatable to the broadest of audiences is a positive step towards bring greater awareness to the practice of Witchcraft and the work and dedication that is required to follow such a path. Such is the case in this new offering by author and editor of blog spot, Patheos Pagan, Jason Mankey- The Transformative Power of Witchcraft. Jason has authored several books on the craft, this one feeling more of a synthesis of the basics from start to finish.

The book is complete with history, ritual, creating sacred space, the work of self and more. There are three chapters devoted to the history of the craft and given that we are a spirituality based on the history, but crafted into a neopagan approach, having the solid foundation of what was, goes a long way into crafting what can be.

Chapters Four through Six focus on the “Cone of Power”, its creation, uses and theory behind its success. This information is presented in a thoughtful manner, offering options and adaptations, which I believe many newcomers to the path, are hesitant to interject on their own. Knowing how, when and where to direct energy is even more important now in the wake of global and domestic events and the working of witchcraft is a tool of change that, if wisely used can achieve amazing results.

I particularly enjoyed reading Chapters Seven through Ten, under Part Three’s Header of “Dedications, Initiations and Elevations”. For many, this topic alone is veiled in mystery and there are as many interpretations of what those semantics mean as paths of practice. Indeed, no one size fits all and as the author discusses, much depends on solitary, Tradition based, hereditary or other as to what these terms mean to the individual. Additionally, rituals are provided to be used as starting points or intact for the reader. I appreciate the detail that went into this section, particularly in preparing the seeker for the work required to be done, the preparation of self and the commitment that is undertaken when receiving any of these deeper connections to your path.

No book on witchcraft would be complete without attention to lunar working and Drawing Down the Moon as ritual and self-generator. Jason also covers the other types of Divine assumption, interaction and possession that may be encountered or experienced in the greater work. Chapter Thirteen provides all of the basics and information for the Ritual of Drawing Down the Moon.

The book concludes with discussion of The Great Rite and its ethical use in truth and physicality as well as metaphorical and representative approach. Each has its own specific reasons for selection, and in particular, when enacting The Great Rite as an offering of sex magick and potency, I believe it is important to know exactly why and where that option would be suitable and when it is used unethically as a means of control over the uninformed.

A glossary and bibliography is provided and the index makes it easy to zero in on specific topics.

This book is available for pre-order on Amazon with a publishing date of January 2019.

Transformative Witchcraft: The Greater Mysteries on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Book Review

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft

by Rose Orriculum

 

 

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft is a great book written by Rose Orriculum. It is tagged as a beginner’s guide to witchcraft, however, after reading it, I feel that anyone could enjoy the contents of this book regardless of where they are on their magical path.

The book begins with a chapter on the “basics”. This tends to be the run of the mill basics but Rose is honest and open. She makes it a point to let you know that witchcraft is not a certain way. She makes it feel open and inviting. This would be a great read for someone who is on the fence about joining the magical community.

One of my favorite chapters is Potions. This chapter is about infusing your hot chocolate, coffee, & teas. Rose makes magic so simple that you can incorporate potions into your daily life.

The book goes into detail regarding the seasons and how you can celebrate them. One of my personal favorites from her collection is how you can use a snowman as a poppet. What a grand idea. Especially since it would allow families to do the act together.

At the back Of Witchcraft and Whimsy, Rose has included many of her own spells, glamours, bindings and curses.

Rose Orriculum has such a way with words and spells. I enjoy her work and cannot wait to see what else she comes up with. To learn more about her, check out my interview with her in this issue!

 

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Witchcraft on Amazon

Review:

2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary (Northern Hemisphere) by Stacey DeMarco

Rockpool Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-925682-13-7

List Price: $21.95 USD / £16.99 GBP

The 2019 Lunar and Seasonal Diary is a beautiful, spiral-bound calendar, richly illustrated with pleasing sepia color pages. As one would expect, it tracks the waxing and waning of the moon and the lunar eclipses of the coming year. It also provides the astrological house of each new and full moon and features the eight annual festivals of the wheel of the year.

I reviewed the Northern Hemisphere edition of the Seasonal Diary. Both Stacey DeMarco and Rockpool Publishing are based in Australia, which is why special care is made to tie the festivals to the seasons themselves instead of calendar dates. After all, our calendars follow the reality of the Earth and her seasons, not the other way around.

Especially well fitted to the new pagan, the diary has a well written introduction the hows and whys of spellcraft and the basics of working with crystals. The moon phases are introduced, as well as the elements, directions and the wheel of the year – not enough to complicate things, but enough guidance to use the daily and monthly prompts that follow. Each month features a specific deity, as well as an appropriate ritual or spell, drawing inspiration from traditions as varied as Slavic, Celtic, Hindu, Norse, Egyptian, Greek, and Shinto. I think the selection is broad enough to be interesting for almost any pagan.

I found the Lunar & Seasonal Diary a beautiful resource to keep me connected to the monthly rhythms of the earth. Each month begins with a page questioning “What am I devoted to?” – asking us to simultaneously reflect on what we have been wrapped up in the month just past as well as what we would aspire towards in the month ahead. Prompts are given for important dates and goals to focus on and manifest in the month ahead.

This monthly return to focus seems a positively recharging reset to our frame of reference, especially during those stressful times when we’re just happy to it through one calendar page to the next. It reminds us to recall what we are working for in the first place, reminding us that the daily grind is a process and not an end in itself. This monthly taking-stock can allow you to stay open to the living world around you, to stay fast with what is truly important to you, or to shift your focus and goals each month, working on different aspects of your life just as the energy of the earth changes through different phases around you.

With the space for taking notes, prompts for both reflective and aspirational record keeping, I think this is a great notebook for any pagan who sees the value of the occasional ritual to keep one in tune with the seasons, and it especially shines for those new to the pagan path.

2019 Lunar & Seasonal Diary: Northern Hemisphere on Amazon

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