Reviews & Interviews

Book Review – Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working With The Energies Of The Natural World, 3rd Edition by Nigel Pennick

Book Review

Elemental Magic

Traditional Practices for Working

With The Energies Of The Natural World

3rd Edition

by Nigel Pennick

144 Pages

 

 

Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working With The Energies Of The Natural World by Nigel Pennick is a classic text of introduction to and practical application of nature in magical practice. Mr. Pennick’s books can be found in the libraries of both the scholars and those who follow the ways of the pagan path and he is an expert in the details of European folk magic. This is the 3rd Edition of a timeless book that provides a comprehensive and thorough teaching of the expression of the natural world is all facets of the mundane and the magical.

As the title suggests, “Traditional Practices for Working with the Energies of the Natural World”, the contents of this book are rooted in ancient beliefs and ways of interactions and carries these into the modern world as those systems that are inherent in all of nature regardless of the timeline. Each chapter focuses on those things that are in support of deepening the reader’s connection to the natural world and informing that connection with practical and useable ways of developing a working rapport with nature.

The contents are divided into an Introduction, ten (10) chapters and Conclusion. The Introduction: The Natural Power in All Things provides the reader with an approach to traditional spirituality that is both empowering and supportive of nature in all of her forms, physical and subtle.

…The down-to-earth practical spiritual techniques of natural magic straddles the boundaries between the subtle, inner world of the mind and spirit, the material outer world, and the otherworldly. Magic comes about through interaction between the inner experiences of the human spirit and the outer experiences of the physical world, both natural and human-made..1.

Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working With The Energies Of The Natural World begins its studies in Chapter 1: Mother Earth, and opens with a quote from the medieval European alchemist Basilius Valentinus…

… “The Earth is not an inanimate body, but is inhabited by the spirit which is its life and its soul. All created things draw their strength from the Earth Spirit. This spirit is life; it is nourished by the stars and gives nourishment to all living things that its shelters in her womb.”…2.

The reader will find everything needed to understand and fully begin a spiritual practice based in natural magic. Discussion of the Wheel of the Year, the days of the week, cycles of time and the alchemical elements provide the basis of traditional practice. Subsequent chapters dive into the magic of minerals, plants, animals and the land. None of the chapters go into great detail about each component, but do provide enough information to stimulate an inquisitive nature.

An excerpt from Chapter 5. The Power Within provides a glimpse of exercises and philosophies provided….Excerpt. Amazon.com© All rights reserved.


Elemental Alignment: A good way of gaining bodily and mental familiarity with the four material elements, and the fifth non-material one, is to use them in meditation. Like other magical activities, you should perform these meditations inside a protective boundary. Each time you work with an element, use the same technique. Begin with the densest element, Earth, then proceed to the lightest, Fire, in the sequence Earth, Water, Air, Fire.

Earth Meditation. Put some earth in a ceramic or glass bowl, and place it in a convenient location. Sit in a meditational posture, and focus your attention on the earth in the bowl. Explore in your mind the many possibilities of earth symbolized by this small sample. When you have done this, allow your consciousness to enter the earth. Become at one with it. Experience its heaviness, its many variant forms and possibilities, and the feelings that they bring.

Water Meditation. Pour some natural spring or well water into a bowl, and place the bowl in a convenient location, as before. Focus your meditation upon the water. Explore the many forms of water: wetness, rain, streams, puddles, lakes, and the sea. When you have done this, allow your consciousness to enter the water. Become at one with it. Experience its fluidity, its many variant flowing possibilities, and the feelings that they bring you.

Air Meditation. Light some incense. It is best to use one that you have collected yourself, such as resin from a tall conifer. Burn it on charcoal in a fireproof dish. Place the dish in a convenient place, as before. Then focus your meditation upon the smoke that indicates the invisible air. Explore the many forms of air: the atmosphere of places, breezes, winds, storms, hurricanes, and whirlwinds. When you have done this, allow your consciousness to enter the air. Become at one with it. Experience its freedom and motion, and the feelings that they bring.

Fire Meditation. For this, light a candle, using struck fire. It is best to use a fire-colored one, deep orange or red. Watch the brilliant flame, and focus your awareness upon the qualities and forms of fire and flame: heat, flickering light, red-hot metal, volcanic eruptions, and the power of the sun. Then imagine yourself as part of the fire, experiencing the feelings that this generates.

The Subtle Power Meditation. Sit as before, visualizing the natural empowerment of all existence, the flowing energy matrix upon which all things are patterned. Envisage it as ever-changing, flowing geometrical colors and forms, like the rainbow patterns on the surface of a bubble.

When you have finished each meditation, direct your consciousness away from the object. Return to a full awareness of the things around you. When you begin, it is best to work several times with each element, until you feel ready to move on to the next one. Once you have worked through all five, you will find that your understanding of the subtle realms has been greatly empowered.

Chapters 7: Magic in Action, 8: Making Magical Tools and Ceremonies, and 9: Magical Food and Drink are complete with instructions for crafting tools and ritual, recipes and more. All are steeped in folk tradition and offer the reader a first hand look at how our ancestors celebrated and enacted natural magic as a means of living in harmony and balance with their surroundings.

Chapter 10: Precautions and Remedies speaks to the need for discernment in acknowledging that there is great power in nature, those things of nature that are in support of humans and those that can be harmful. Herbs as remedies and protective ceremonies are topics covered. Use of crystals and gems concludes this chapter. This chapter is a natural Segway into the final chapter of Conclusion: A Valid and Appropriate Spiritual Path.

… We live in a time of perpetual and accelerating change. Traditional ways of doing things are rapidly breaking down in the face of globalization. The destruction of nature by the products o industry is happening all around us. It is self-evident that unless we develop a better attitude toward nature, we will bring about our own ruin. Recognizing this, many people are seeking a better way of living. This has brought about a rediscovery and popularization of techniques that were once known by a very few people…3.

Would I Recommend:

This opening statement of the final chapter sums up the intention of this book and the value in its reading. I believe that we need to routinely bring forward those texts that remind us that we are part of a greater whole and that every aspect of how we live and the energetic and physical imprint we offer needs to hold intention and higher purpose. Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working With The Energies Of The Natural World by Nigel Pennick fulfills this purpose nicely. In comparison to many similar books on natural magic, this read is pared down and succinct in the important points of what truly matters. Writing in this way, leaves the space of opening for personal integration, understanding and a practical application of the techniques and principles that have survived the rapidly evolving changes of the natural world.

About Author Nigel Pennick:

Nigel Pennick is an authority on ancient belief systems, traditions, runes, and geomancy and has traveled and lectured extensively in Europe and the United States. He is the author and illustrator of more than 50 books, including The Pagan Book of Days. The founder of the Institute of Geomantic Research and the Library of the European Tradition, he lives near Cambridge, England.

Footnotes:

  1. p. 1
  2. Chapter 1: Mother Earth
  3. Conclusion: A Valid and Appropriate Spiritual Path

Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working with the Energies of the Natural World on Amazon

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About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Third Degree Initiate within The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition and serves as High Priestess of Coven of the Mystic Path, the 12th Coven within the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition. She teaches and facilitates classes for the Pagan Experience Study Group that serves as foundation for membership within Coven of the Mystic Path.  

Her spiritual journey is strongly rooted in both Eastern philosophy and the Western Magickal systems from which she has formed a core foundation that is diverse in knowledge and rich in spiritual practice.  A life-long learner, her practice has evolved from the classical and philosophical teachings of books, practical experience and enrichment of this knowledge base by attending workshops of various spiritual traditions presented by master teachers.

Robin formally came to the Wiccan path in 1994. Following practice as a solitary for 2 years, she dedicated to Oak and Willow Coven of The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition in November of 1996. She received her 1st, 2nd and finally 3rd degrees within the Assembly Tradition and has served as High Priestess of Oak and Willow since Samhain of 2001.

As a teacher of esoteric and magickal studies she has used Energetic Anatomy, Tarot, Astrology, Hermetic Qabala, Eastern Philosophy, and Numerology as the foundations of her diverse selection of workshops and writings for more than 25 years. Exploration of varied energetic protocol has been the focus of her work for some time now and the information gained through direct experience informs all of her magickal and spiritual work.

Robin’s writings have been featured online, and in print Internationally.  She has authored several books incorporating her unique style of writing making use of poetry, prose and pathworking to enhance the concepts presented.  She has taught extensively throughout the Pagan community, including Sacred Space Conference, Spring Magick, Between the Worlds Interfaith Conference and Free Spirit Gathering Festival this Summer. Her most recent project is hosting an online blogging community entitled The Pagan Experience.

Robin is the owner of Holistic Embrace providing services for mind, body and spirit such as Tarot readings, Astrology reports, Spiritual Guidance and other related offerings.  She lives in Eastern Pennsylvania and her life is blessed by a 40+- year marriage, five children and the opportunity to work in the field of public education.

Robin’s Books

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 1 It’s Written in the Stars-Astrology

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 2 Poetry of the Spheres-Qabalah

The Inner Chamber, Vol. 3 Awakening the Paths-Qabalah

The Light of SELF: Consciousness, Spiritual Practice and Learning to Breathe

Magickal Verse: A Collection of Poetry and Prose

A Year of Gaia: The Eternal Cord

The Elemental Year: Aligning the Elements of SELF

Temple of the Sun and Moon: Luminous Devotions

Sleeping with the Goddess: Nights of Devotion

A Weekly Reflection: Musings for the Year

The Magickal Pen: A Collection of Esoteric Writings

The Enchanted Gate: Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

For more info: http://www.robinfennelly.com/books.html

Robin’s Website: www.robinfennelly.com

Coven of the Mystic Path, ASW: www.covenofthemysticpath.org