The Bad Witch Reviews
The Witch’s Spellbook
Enchantments, Incantations, and Rituals from Around the World
By Sarah Bartlett
I feel like I should begin by saying while this is a review, and I did read a book I feel reluctant to say the name of it.
Suffice to say it is a spell book. I feel like I would be much freer to comment without putting the name of this writer or the book title in this review.
The introduction starts with a story about how this person came to magick. They found a book (it happens to many) but what struck me was the kind of spell she choose to do.
It was a love spell, to get “back with her ex”.
I have ALL kinds of uncomfortable feelings about that sort of magick. Love spells like that mess with free will, cause more trouble than they are worth and tend to bring a new level of drama to relationships that is unhealthy and weird. If you care more about being with someone than whether or not they want to be with you…is that love? Love is. When you love someone you want their happiness above your own. I don’t know how it went down but apparently they’re still married! Yay?
So from the beginning I was a little ooked out. However I put it aside, after all, we all make mistakes, none of us are saints. I began the book proper.
First off was the most pointless circle casting I have ever seen. It literally had no idea what it was being cast for and the only quarter evoked was east, well you were asking them for inspiration, not protection, or empowerment, just inspiration. A circle casting is not merely magickal safety and good practice, but the ritual of making a space between places. There was no cleansing or blessing. No visualisation of any kind. It didn’t seem to know what it was, or whom it was for, this might be a running theme. Next came a very confusing pentagram drawing “explanation”. The best explanation I have when I teach is to use a clock face. Dependant on where you need to start and end (there are lots of places for many reasons) I’d say 7 up to 12, down to 5, up to 10, across to 2, then back down to 7. You can start anywhere this way working in both directions. Simple.
This is the point I was assaulted by some very odd full page colours, one being eye bleeding yellow and the next black. As a dyslexic person I found this very jarring and not good to try and read. The pages where to highlight the solar and respectively lunar. I can’t really remember if what it said was any good because it was such a struggle to read it. My immediate thought when I saw it was wow, that is really 90’s!
Onwards to the spell section.
It was set out like a recipe book, as many spell books are. I first noticed that there was a date in italics next to the name of the spell. It was December and I thought, oh, that’s a weird date to start on. I had a couple of reactions. The first one was how little explanation there was of the Goddess being evoked. This too would be a running theme of little to no research when evoking primarily Goddesses. I found the Goddess choice odd, the date for the spell wasn’t explained and I could find nothing much to connect the two. Next I was surprised by the amount of crystals and candles required. 6 pieces of mystic topaz! 5 candles of four different colours!
The spell was simple and not very specific. Now this Goddess is one of transitions, and they are NOT always fun or easy.
So let’s review: that is a Goddess whom can be at best difficult, at worst bloody, you’re to “make my life flower”. Using a circle that is basically made out of best wishes and paper. Using expensive crystals and a shit ton of candles.
At this point I started getting a headache.
IF and that is a big if, you wanted to use this spell with a well know patron Goddess, or one you hoped might become one, perhaps, with a better circle and actually asking the quarters to do their thing, maybe, maybe you could try this spell. I’m not sure why topaz. Or so many different coloured candles.
Now granted I am an old school Weatherwax witch. You’re either iz-ing or you ain’t. As my friend G would put it.
If I was asking for my life to blossom I might include, ya know, a flower. A bulb perhaps. A flower sacred to her or I could get at that weird time of year.
My point first and foremost is would the spell work? Would what I want to happen or something like it happen? The answer with this is probably not. It didn’t even make sense within its self.
This was only the first spell.
Next we move from ancient Rome and December to China and August.
This time you are evoking spirits and hoping that because they love you they won’t do anything awful. The magickal alarm bells are ringing like an air raid siren at this point.
First off, let’s deal with the cultural appropriation shall we. The East Asian Ghost festivals are like a cross between Thanksgiving and Halloween, also known as, the Hungry Ghost festival. It is full of the rich cultures of the many countries and regions that celebrate this time in a multitude of ways. It is primarily a lunar festival. There you now know more about it than if you had read this book.
Here is just a random psychic’s opinion. DON’T INVITE SPIRITS INTO YOUR HOME. Just don’t.
Much like Day of the Dead in Mexico most families go to their ancestral shrines and leave offering there. Mostly it is a Buddhist festival but there is some Taoism and older stuff underneath too.
I’m not sure why you would want to evoke or work on a spell like this if it isn’t your culture or if you didn’t live in an Asian community. If you did you’d probably be doing whatever you usually do with your family anyway.
So we come back to do the spells make sense? Would they work with mostly as intended results? Nope and nope.
Third spell in. They call on Rhiannon and do not even give her the title Goddess, trust me, that won’t go down well. The wording of the spells seems to be calling really for magick and power.
This book doesn’t seem to know whom it is for. The spells don’t seem clear with intention vital for magick. The spells don’t have a logic to the desired outcome (the sympathetic component). They are not respectful or knowledgeable to the cultures, she mugs for magick small change. They don’t feel powerful or insightful.
In short if you know what you are doing you don’t need this book, if you don’t I would avoid it at all costs.
Magick isn’t something you need pretty rocks or large amount of candles for (though it is sometimes pleasant enough). Magick is the power of will, of change. It is asking for help to achieve it by what is powerful and sacred to you. Even if you don’t believe in Gods and spirits (some believe they are reflections of ourselves) then you should still treat them and other people’s beliefs and cultures with some basic respect.
I really wanted to try and find something good to say about this book but I really can’t. I mean the grammar is fine and it is not gibberish but short of that I can see no magickal logic in it what so ever.
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