Reviews & Interviews

Book Review – Otherworld: Ecstatic Witchcraft for the Spirits of the Land by Chris Allaun

Book Review

Otherworld

Ecstatic Witchcraft for

the Spirits of the Land

by Chris Allaun

Publisher: Moon Books

223 Pages

Publication Date: 12/01/20

 

The first notable thing about Chris’s book on ecstatic witchcraft is the number of amazing endorsements it has received. Top authors like Morgan Daimler and Rachel Patterson have all written glowing reviews of this volume. So, I was pretty excited to read it myself. I’m currently working on a book about connecting paganism to environmentalism, so honouring the spirits of the land is top priority for me.

The intro is a beautiful, evocative experience that the author describes in such a way that you could well be there, feeling something other that you could, of you tried, connect with on a deeper level. That feeling of the forest coming alive around you is very relatable for me, and sparked some intense nostalgia.

The book then moves into describing Mother Earth, but in a way quite unlike most other neopagan volumes. Chris speaks of the creation of the Earth from a geological viewpoint, exploring the science behind how our Earth came to be, but the moving from that to a spiritual perspective without any of the jarring disconnection that sometimes occurs when writers blend science and spirituality. I am a full advocate of a syncretic relationship between science, magic, and religion, and believe that they can all be significant parts of any individual’s life. Reading any book that also seems to promote this is invigorating.

After reminding us of our responsibility to connect with our planet, our Mother, Chris writes about all the various ways we can honour the land, starting with connecting to the Otherworld. Chris speaks of a range of Otherworlds from different cultures, clearly trying to be inclusive to people on various paths. Chris also explores creating your own ritual from a basic structure, finding your guide within the Otherworld, then a range of other connected subjects. These include spirit animals, shapeshifting, and nature spirits, to name just a few.

 

My Recommendation

Chris’s book is a rich resource for anyone wanting to renew their connection to the land they walk upon, or to forge new connections. There are, at times, points where I felt Chris was trying to include too many different cultures at once, however he walks that fine line between appropriation and appreciation and, for the most part, balances this well. There are times when Chris directly references Irish lore, but refers to it as generically Celtic. This is problematic for folks who live Irish spirituality or Irish Paganism which is, indeed, a living and continuous culture. However, I have been guilty of this myself on too many occasions, so can’t judge too harshly.

I’m an animist myself so the belief that we can connect to the spirits in everything around us resonates deeply, for me. I also believe that, thanks to Chris’s wide-ranging experience with Traditional Witchcraft and the Lakota and the Apache peoples, there’s scope for spiritual folks of all kinds of paths to gain valuable insight and wisdom from this book, adapting the advice (as Chris suggests) to their own ritual style or worship methods.

Beyond the practical aspects of the book, it truly is a delight to read. Chris has a style that draws you in and fills you with the obvious enthusiasm and passion he has for his subject. Not every modern pagan book is a page turner, but this one really is. I shall look out for future volumes with interest.

 

About Author Chris Allaun

 

Chris Allaun lives in Chicago, IL, and has been a student of magic and witchcraft since the early nineties. A founder and minister of The Fellowship of the Phoenix, he’s been initiated both into the OTO and a Traditional Witchcraft group. Chris also carries the sacred pipe known as the Chanupa.

 

Otherworld: Ecstatic Witchcraft for the Spirits of the Land on Amazon

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors & Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.