The Ultimate Guide to Witchcraft
A Modern-Day Guide to Making Magick
by Anjou Kiernan
“The Ultimate Guide to Witchcraft” is a beautiful and substantial book of full-color (and sometimes full-page) photographs, detailed and thoughtful charts and diagrams, and clearly expressed, well-thought-out explanations of basic witchcraft systems, ritual, and practice. Its focus is to be an introduction to beginner witchcraft, but it’s one which more experienced witches may enjoy enough to use as a reference as some of the diagrams are particularly pleasantly-designed and easy to use.
While none of these craft practices is explored in very great depth, the book offers fairly involved summaries of lunar magick (how to work with the phases of the moon, and special circumstances), elemental magick (the five Western elements of spirit, earth, air, fire, and water), astrology (the planets, houses, and signs of the Zodiac, and reading natal charts, plus how to work with planetary influences), seasonal magick (the named full moons, the solar calendar, the quarter and cross-quarter sabbats of Celtic and Germanic tradition), crystals (shapes, types, uses, correspondences, and substitutions, as well as cleaning methods, and how to work with them), herbs (common herbal allies, associated intentions, harvesting, basic medicine-making, and ritual use), and divination (working with the ether, cartomancy, palm reading, dowsing, rune reading, scrying, tasseomancy, spirit and animal guides, dream work, spirit work, and astral travel). The book wraps up with some suggestions for personalizing practice, sigil and grimoire creation, working with familiars, adapting Northern correspondences to the Southern hemisphere, and a short but mighty set of basic rituals for the solitary witch. The rituals are generally pretty simple, with standard tools and ingredients appropriate to a beginner witch.
I usually don’t like “generic witchcraft” books that much, because they tend to regurgitate the same material (lots of tried-and-true correspondences and associations) while making actual practice seem inaccessible to newcomers by forgoing explanations, putting forward difficult spells without teaching anything about the traditions, systems, or energetic work behind them, or putting too much emphasis on coven and initiation work, even though many new witches are solitary. This is what sets Kiernan’s “Ultimate Guide to Witchcraft” apart from the others: with plenty of photographs, tables, diagrams, and explanations to guide the reader, the mysterious and esoteric world of witchcraft actually opens and blossoms in this lovely guide. It’s the sort of book I’d happily recommend to any new witch looking for a solid introduction to Western modern witchcraft practice, as it contains most of the fundamentals of Western craft without emphasizing a particular path.
While there are a few Western deities mentioned in the book, it predominantly focuses on Western magical systems, drawing especially from Celtic, Germanic, and Wiccan tradition. Religious freedom is happily reconciled with witchcraft in Kiernan’s open-minded introduction, and the rest of the book supports this idea by focusing on craft without delving into much religion. This makes it a good introductory book especially for Atheist and Animistic witches who may wish to study craft but aren’t interested in working with deities.
Anjou Kiernan has been practicing witchcraft since the mid-1990s, working with herbs, divination, and craft. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a minor in Anthropology, and enjoys history, art, ecology, botany, literature, painting, writing, gardening, reading, and antiquing. She can be found on Instagram under @lightofanjou and online at her website, Light of Anjou: https://www.lightofanjou.com/
About the Author:
Sarah McMenomy is an artist and witch. Her craft incorporates herbalism, spellwork, trance, divination, auras, and more. Her work can be found at https://sarahmcmenomy.tumblr.com