Spells, Incantations and Inspired
Ideas for an Enchanted Life
by Cerridwen Greenleaf
“The Witch’s Guide to Ritual” is a surprisingly ambitious book which seeks to catalogue and discuss the use and place of witchcraft in rituals of all kinds. With such a broad subject as ritual, the scope of this book has been tailored: it’s intended for intermediate practitioners, so there isn’t a lot of introductory information about witchcraft in general, and the subject is approached very pragmatically, without too many frills or explanations for beginners. The book is broadly cross-cultural, and discusses many Eastern traditions, but expresses a mostly Western viewpoint and magical tradition in its overall approach to ritual.
It’s a thick, text-only handbook set in an off-putting sans-serif font, but it’s jam-packed full of information: a short introduction and history of ritual; a guide to the tools of ritual in witchcraft; tips for creating a personal altar; deities and invocation; lunar magic; rites of passage and commemoration; rituals for solitary practitioners; elemental magic; seasonal rituals; designing your own rituals; energy work and sacred spaces; and how to make your own talismans, amulets, and charms.
There is a lot of this book that seems to rehash well-worn correspondences and associations; I’ve come to see this as “witchcraft book filler” because it may be important, but it isn’t original, and it’s usually very easy to find from any of a number of other sources. But since many of these systems are foundational to the construction of ritual, it may be unavoidable in this case. What emerges from this is less about ritual practice or even theory, and more of an encyclopedic exploration of ritual tradition and inspiration drawn piecemeal from various cultures. There’s a lot to draw on in its many chapters, and the appendices are surprisingly thorough and handy. The chapter about the Wheel of the Year is particularly extensive, and inspired by holidays and seasonal traditions from around the world.
There’s no index, which is a little disappointing, mostly because there’s just so much information stuffed into the book that it makes it that much harder to find what you’re looking for ? it could have made a pretty handy reference otherwise. There are also some flaws in the design of the book that had me confused as to whether sufficient thought and effort had been given to it, or whether it had been rushed by the publisher. Still, there’s a lot of good information here for anyone who’s interested in getting more involved with ritual or exploring ritual tradition, and I expect that most experienced witches will find plenty to inspire their ongoing practice.
Cerridwen Greenleaf is a writing instructor, medieval scholar, and practicing astrologer. She leads spirituality workshops and retreats throughout North America, and has published a number of books on mysticism, and worked with many well-known authors in modern Paganism. She can be found online at http://yourmagicalhome.blogspot.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