Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore by Melusine Draco
Published by Moon Books, 2012
Yes, this book has been out a few years, but this series had sort of passed me by and I’m now trying to catch up on them. There are six Traditional Witchcraft volumes by Melusine Draco, all looking at slightly different aspects of the craft. The seashore volume stood out to me because, well, I love the sea, always have, and also the cover is awesome. Yeah, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it, but if I see a moody sky with sea crashing against rocks, I get excited. I cannot help myself.
I’m delighted before I even get into the body of the book by the information on the chapter headings. Each of the chapters is named for a piece of classical music that has an oceanic theme, such as Sea Pictures by Elgar. A short quote from The Tempest and I’m into chapter one, Sea Fever.
Melusine writes in a slightly poetic style, describing the coastline in a beautiful, evocative way that immediately makes me long for the shore. She speaks of moods and movements, and summoning the voice of the sea by listening to a shell, something I have done since I was tiny; for as long as I can remember.
This book fills me with an awesome sense of nostalgia, which is something that is often missing from works of non-fiction. Memory is a powerful thing, and carries emotion and energy, and any reference book that can leave you awash with waves (pun intended) of longing for a particular place or environment is doing a very good job indeed.
Melusine gives a good deal of information about tides, seasons, almanacs, estuaries; in fact, any aspect of the ocean or the adjoining waters you can imagine is probably covered at some point in this volume. She explores the liminality of the shore, and how to plug into this power. I also find her section on weather lore absolutely fascinating.
In chapter two Melusine moves onto the traditions and superstitions of those who work the sea, something I am particularly interested in. Magic and superstition have strong links at times; what we may dismiss as ‘simple superstition’ often has roots in folk magic, or is a kind of sympathetic magic in its own right.
Chapter three explores the salty nature of the ocean, and exploring and using things found on the shore, such as driftwood and shells. The third chapter takes a more metaphysical turn, looking at colour and elemental power amongst other things. I particularly enjoy the short section about sea caves, as I have always found them magical, wondrous places.
Where necessary, Melusine points out the dangers of the sea and gives very practical advice about practicing magic around water. She recommends equipment and clothing for seashore expeditions, and the book is full of practical exercises which are inspiring and most importantly, very do-able. There is nothing that requires particularly specialist equipment. Melusine even describes how you can bring the magic of the sea to an inland home.
This is a great book because you can read it for the sheer joy in the words themselves, and because it is full of folklore, tradition and magic. A very useful and very entertaining read for any witch, any lover of the sea and anyone who wants to be transported to the shore from the comfort of their own chair.
Mabh Savage is a the author of Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. She is also a freelance journalist, musician, poet and mother of one small boy and two small cats. Find out more at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.com.