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Author Archives: Sarrah October Young

About Sarrah October Young

Sarrah October Young is a writer and practising witch who wished she could do stand-up comedy. When she isn't writing or witching, she can be found posting about her cats on IG @therealoctober.

Runes and Astrology, by Nigel Pennick

Runes and Astrology: Symbol and Starcraft in the Northern Tradition, by Nigel Pennick
Destiny Books, 978-1644116005, 223 pages, June 2023

I’m just going to say it: Runes and Astrology: Symbol and Starcraft in the Northern Tradition by Nigel Pennick is an absolute must have if there is even an inkling of curiosity about Northern Tradition runes and their kin. This book is an absolute treasure trove of insight, magic, and tradition and is worth every single penny. If a previous edition sits on your shelf, move it over and put this one beside it.

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 founder of the Institute of Geomantic Research and the author and illustrator of more than 60 books, including Elemental Magic, Magic in the Landscape, and The Ancestral Power of Amulets, Talismans, and Amulets. His level of insight into this tradition is unparalleled, and that insight resonates throughout this latest book.

One thing I love about a good book is the introduction and the appendices. Runes and Astrology does not disappoint on either front. The introduction is well layered with history and practical application is evenly distributed throughout. I love it when authors set out their intentions for the rest of the book within the context of the introduction and that’s precisely what Pennick has done. Glorious.

The Table of Contents is neatly set out and covers the topics one would assume to find. There’s a chapter on basics which is extremely well written and very informative. Titled “The Basic Concepts”, this first chapter is anything but. Honestly, you could read this one chapter and you’d know more about runes and their history and use than most people. Starting with linking runes with the idea that everything exists simultaneously with everything else, Pennick states clearly that “nothing in existence exists separately – everything that is present in the universe is continuous with its surroundings and is the product of its own historical circumstances.”1

Pennick continues:

“Wherever we choose to look, there is nothing that exists now, or that has existed in the past, that is not the result of a multiplicity of events and processes, traceable back ultimately to the formation of the world eons agon. Because of this, it is only by studying history in the widest sense that we can begin to get some insights into the true meaning of anything.”2

By tracing the lineage of the runes and the system they are part of, Pennick explores the concept of using history as a way to understand how things became what they are currently. It’s a brilliant method of writing and gives rise to a whole new way of thinking about runes and their place within a divination system. Personally, I enjoy learning about the history of things, whether they are divination systems, magical paths, or ingredients. For me, knowing how we came to use such things is as useful as knowing how to apply them practically in today’s world.

There’s an excellent chapter about runes and their meanings, but for me the chapter to really get into is the chapter titled “The Runes, the Planets, and Their Cycles.” Connecting the runes to various planets in the context of their deeper meanings is fascinating. Pennick takes time to clearly explain the links made between the runes and the various planets and satellites generally accepted as rulers of both hours and days of the current way of timekeeping.

Pennick’s style of writing is both informative and descriptive and lends itself well to the topics covered in this book. I found it both a delight to read because of the easy style of writing and also very interesting as there is so much information present in each chapter.

Do yourself a favor and pick Runes and Astrology up. Even if you only have a passing interest in astrology or runes, this book contains so much information through both the individual chapters and the appendices that follow, you will be glad you have it on your shelf as a reference.

Heal the Witch Wound, by Celeste Larsen

Heal The Witch Wound: Reclaim Your Magic and Step Into Your Power, by Celeste Larsen
Weiser Books, 1578637988, 208 pages, April 2023

Personal safety is something that is of great concern in today’s society. From hate groups attacking those trying to live their lives to the “everyday” violence that is commonplace, we all just want to be safe to be who we are. While this book, Heal The Witch Wound: Reclaim Your Magic and Step Into Your Power, focuses on feeling safe with respect to magical practices, Celeste Larsen has also managed to weave in a broader spectrum of what personal safety means individually as well as on a greater scale.

The introduction begins with a simple explanation of the “witch wound”, and Larsen describes it as “a collective, intergenerational, psychic wound that is rooted in the Burning Times – an era of widespread persecution and violence against suspected witches.”1

Anyone with this wound will usually hide their spiritual beliefs and practices out of fear of being judged or shamed or rejected. Without taking away from the basis of this book, I find many parallels between this and the situation of other groups in current society. To be clear, this is a personal observation that I am making and not meant to take away from this book in any way.

Larsen has drawn on her experience as a pagan witch, writer, and ritualist to produce a work that is more of a how-to rather than a reference book. To me, this is excellent news as I need a guide and not just theory in this realm. The book is comprised of three parts that each deal with a specific aspect of the healing journey. The first section deals with the root of the wound and goes into detail around the creation of it as well as its legacy. Larsen’s writing is simple, straightforward and honest, and manages to put the reader at ease while imparting some tough information around the wound and its causes.

The second part of this spectacular book focuses on the symptoms of the witch wound, something I hadn’t even considered. In fact, as I read this section, I was struck by the number of things mentioned that I completely identified with. It didn’t even occur to me that it might be a result of the witch wound I carry.

I had a very visceral reaction to one part specifically where Larsen writes:

“Of all the ways the witch wound can show up, fear of being authentically heard and seen is undoubtedly the most pervasive. How often do you stifle your own voice out of fear of being too outspoken, too opinionated, too sensitive, too demanding, too honest, too much?”2

This specific part hit me really hard. I’ve been told my whole life to be quiet, sit down, keep my hands to myself, don’t talk so loud, “why are you laughing so loudly?”, and all that. I have never felt comfortable around people simply because I’m afraid that I will be too much of something and then I’ll be made to feel less-than as a result.

Reading this book made me realize that this wound I carry that presents in this way is something of a gift. Stay with me here. Knowing that I am holding back my awesomeness for the sake of other people’s comfort means that I am much more awesome than I think I am. And I think I’m pretty awesome.

Seriously though, reading about how this wound affects daily life if nothing is done to heal it opened my eyes to how important self-care is. Part three of the book delves deeply into this with a whole host of various ways to heal certain aspects of the wound. My personal favorite deals with moving into personal magic and power.

Here, Larsen talks about the ways in which practitioners can talk about individual magic and specific practices in a way that honors them while also maintaining a certain level of privacy. There is an acknowledgement that no two practitioners will refer to themselves in the same way, nor does their individual practices align. In this way, Larsen states that personal comfort comes before any sort of declaration that might be made concerning someone’s personal craft.

Larsen writes honestly with an authentic voice and the situations presented in the book by way of confirming the various suggestions presented feel like they have been actually lived by the author. I felt many echoes as I read and aligned with many of the situations that Larsen describes throughout the book by way of sharing her personal story. 

Heal the Witch Wound is an excellent book for those who feel they cannot ‘come out’ as a practitioner of magic and who feel they need to stifle themselves in order to fit it. You don’t have to dim your own light in order for other people to shine, and you don’t have to stay small for other people’s comfort. This isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be consideration for others: depending on what your situation is you might feel it’s in your best interest to be silent about what you do. This book is meant to reframe the way in which we look at how we express ourselves in the world we live in and helps us see where we can make positive changes to bring us into more alignment.

Pagan Portals: Demeter, by Robin Corak

Pagan Portals – Demeter, by Robin Corak
Moon Books, 1789047838, 128 pages, October 2022

At first glance, Pagan Portals – Demeter by Robin Corak seems like a straightforward book. The story of Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, is one that has been used to illustrate many variations of the mother-daughter dynamic in a variety of different contexts. Corak is taking that story and exploring various other themes that aren’t apparent at first glance.

A long-time practitioner of paganism, Corak is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon where she currently serves as the Board Secretary and is the author of Pagan Portals – Persephone: Practicing the Art of Personal Power. Honestly, there’s no one more perfectly positioned to write the book on Demeter than Corak and her prose is both insightful and informative.

The book is sectioned off into specific areas that deal with Demeter’s background, specific rites and rituals, and other topics I didn’t expect to find. At the risk of outing myself as not being all-knowing about the goddesses and gods of the Greek pantheon, I had to look up two aspects of Demeter that I was not aware of that were referenced in this book: Demeter Chthonia: Grief and Loss and Demeter Chloe: Manifestation Magick. Blown away, completely and totally. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that Demeter was associated with grief (her daughter being taken away from her) and abundance (Goddess of the Harvest), I just didn’t know there were actual aspects devoted to these attributes. 

There’s so much information in this book and all of it is both relevant and timely. The astonishing realization that Demeter was still subject to patriarchy despite being a goddess was something I hadn’t considered. It was my understanding that Demeter’s power would ensure her personal agency. When Demeter is told by Helios that Hades abducted her daughter, Demeter’s opinions are not even considered as she is told that Hades would make a fine husband for her daughter. Because Demeter is dismissed, she then decides that nothing on Earth will grow until her daughter is returned to her. Her actions eventually see the return of Persephone to her, and it’s interesting to note that Demeter is the only goddess to make Zeus give in to her demands, and in a short amount of time. Underestimate an abundance Goddess at your peril!

A surprising aspect of this book is the focus on balance, something that most who identify as feminine struggle with due to the numerous stresses experienced through jobs, home, relationships, and other factors. Corak addresses this in the introduction, saying:

“Working with Demeter can facilitate a powerful journey of self-discovery resulting in a re-envisioning and reclaiming of our potential and our own lives. For those of us who may not have had a positive relationship with our own mothers, Demeter empowers us to access our own nurturing abilities so that we may provide ourselves with the quantity and quality of love that we feel we didn’t receive.”1

It took me a few days to process that, I will be honest. I do not have a good relationship with my mother and as she ages, I have had to come to terms with the very real fact that there will never be apologies or clarity around why certain events were allowed to happen. I found this book to be immensely helpful in navigating my personal grief around this, although I would be lying if I said I was able to completely resolve the anger. I took solace in a powerful sentence from Corak:

“The mother archetype is not just about loving and nurturing, it is also about protection and advocacy to ensure that that which has been given life will survive and thrive.”2

I sat with that for a moment, and realized that’s what I had been doing for myself by not engaging as deeply as I wanted to with my mother. I intuitively knew that this was something I could do to protect myself from additional harm, and this book opened my eyes to all that I have been doing for myself in this realm. 

There is so much healing in this book depending on what is required. For me, I chose to go through “Chapter 3 – Healing the Mother Wound”. Corak includes a definition of mother wound as “the loss or lack of mothering which can include abuse and neglect. Those who experience the mother wound don’t receive the love and attention they need as children and have mothers who seem to be distant and less attuned to their emotional needs.”3

This section in particular really hit me hard, as I thought I had dealt with my issues around this through extensive therapy. Clearly that was not the case, as I often found myself curled up in a ball with my cat gingerly offering me head butts and consoling licks. That is not an exaggeration, by the way. This book is excellent and devastating in a way I didn’t expect but am so glad I experienced. 

If any of this resonates with you, I would highly recommend picking up Pagan Portals – Demeter. If you have a therapist, I would also highly recommend enlisting their help for this journey because working with Demeter calls up all sorts of childhood trauma that needs to be brought out so that it can be healed.

One of the best parts of this whole process was learning that I could mother myself and did not need to rely on my emotionally unavailable mother to provide that. While seemingly heartbreaking, releasing yourself from unrealistic expectations of those who cannot possibly meet you where you need them to is freeing in a way that could potentially allow you to move on. Who wouldn’t want that?

Reclaim Your Dark Goddess, by Flavia Kate Peters

Reclaim Your Dark Goddess: The Alchemy of Transformation, by Flavia Kate Peters
Rockpool Publishing, 9781922579065, 336 pages, October 2022

Every person experiences some form of darkness at some point in their life, either from losing something or not being able to get something. But what if that darkness is something that is created by the Self, for the Self? What if the darkness isn’t the end of everything, but rather the beginning of something better, and greater, than what had been there previously? In Reclaim Your Dark Goddess: The Alchemy of Transformation, author Flavia Kate Peters examines the transformation that embracing the darkness within can trigger. 

As the UK’s leading elemental and ancient magic expert, Peters teaches her professional certification magickal courses at the College of Psychic Studies, London and is a hereditary witch and high priestess of Arnemetia and of the Morrigan. Perfectly positioned to explore this fascinating journey, Peters has given readers a complete and thorough blueprint for how to access, and how to embrace, the darkness that we all carry.

Separated into two parts, the book also includes an introduction (an absolute must read; do not skip this part!) as well an appendix showcasing the Dark Goddesses and their archetypal shadow traits. Very helpful when starting off on this journey. In Part One, Peters divulges information on how to prepare to meet the Dark Goddess and goes into significant detail as to who this mysterious entity is. Sharing her story along the way, Peters blends her personal experience with solid information and rituals designed to help ease the pain of unburdening the soul. It’s almost as if she was right there beside you, patting your shoulder as you realize your entire world is falling apart.

One of my favorite parts of this book talks about the pain of leaving behind the comfort of the known life in order to become who you are meant to be. Peters describes it perfectly:

“As you go through it life as you once knew will disappear; it will no longer be in view or, in fact, exist. But that is the old life, those old ways of doing things and those relationships that were holding you back even if you didn’t realize it. They were comfortable, known and accepted so it will take a crisis to move them on, but if you wish to overcome your difficulties in order to transform your dreams into reality and live the life you came here for then move on they must.”1

Peters also provides some basic information around the Wheel of the Year, provides guidance on how to assemble a specific altar for the purpose of calling in the Dark Goddess, and breaks down the maiden-mother-crone aspects of both the seasons and the moon phases. It’s interesting to see these concepts linked together in this way and could provide a deeper layer for those who incorporate such things into their personal craft.

The second part of the book deals specifically with the various aspects of the Dark Goddess and more importantly, how to connect with them. Peters provides a myriad of information in each Goddess’ section from an extensive background on each, messages from the Dark Goddess, how to seek Her out, reasons for working with that particular goddess, and preparing for the initiation to name a few. It’s really quite simple to invoke the Dark Goddess, but Peters cautions that awareness is a must-have prior to any sort of invocation or other work with the Goddesses. She explains:

“‘The Dark Goddess expects you to be responsible for yourself and your reactions, but it is not easy when you go through a dark night of the soul for you can be blinded by circumstance and find it hard to believe you will ever see the light again.”2

Personally, I found Reclaiming Your Dark Goddess to be a pleasure to read and the concepts in it were easy to understand and follow. I really liked the thoughtfulness that went into sorting the sections of the book and the guidance this layout provides. I would mention that if you are going to be doing this kind of work, you might want to engage with a therapist to help you unravel some of the trickier bits as they are encountered. There is no shame in asking for help, and asking for help shows the Dark Goddess that you are sincere in your supplication to her.

As someone who has done an incredible amount of shadow work and therapy, I was personally blown away by how accurately Peters described her own personal ‘dark night of the soul’. It’s not easy to discover that all the things once thought to be important mean nothing in the context of knowing who you are. The pain of losing people, habits, and other tangible and intangible things that provide comfort to us while we navigate life is almost unbearable until you catch a glimpse of what’s waiting for you on the other side. Being able to shed all that is no longer needed and emerge from the process scarred but beautiful is a wonderful part of life and this collective journey.

The Treadwell’s Book of Plant Magic, by Christina Oakley Harrington

The Treadwell’s Book of Plant Magic, by Christina Oakley Harrington
Weiser Books, 1578638011, 176 pages, April 2023

There are a lot of books on the market that will tell you about plants in various terms: how to identify, where they originate from, and what their uses are. The Treadwell’s Book of Plant Magic by Christina Oakley Harrington goes one step further. This book is pure magic and should be on everyone’s shelf regardless of their personal or spiritual beliefs. Harrington, the founder and guiding light of the renowned occult bookshop Treadwell’s Books located in London, UK has brought the same level of care to this book that she has to the shop. I am in awe of this book.

Harrington has made it incredibly easy to find specific plants by sorting the book into three glorious sections. Titled “Problems and Solutions”, the first section is what would be expected from such a thorough compilation: an alphabetical listing of various maladies ranging from anxiety, money, protection, and so on with the corresponding herb(s) that will assist. This is meant to be a quick reference guide for those who are familiar with herbs and just need a refresher. The book assumes a working knowledge of plants and how to deal with them, as little to no instruction is provided on the basics such as growing, harvesting, and the like. It feels like this is a deliberate choice to ensure that those who use the book already have a healthy respect for the plants that they choose to work with and aren’t just looking for a speedy way out of a mess.

The middle section has no title and jumps right to providing in-depth information about herbs and plants. The book is worth the price just for the section on uses of Bay alone. Almost three whole pages are devoted to the herb and for good reason. Bay is the lavender of the herb family in that there are many ways to use it in both cooking and spiritual work. Included in each distinct method of usage is a ton of information on the herb itself that just isn’t present in other books. Like I said, worth the price right there. I have plenty of books on plants and their uses and this one book replaces all of them.

The last section is why we are all here: “Spells and Potions Using Multiple Herbs”. Where do I even start? This section is an absolute tribute to anyone working with plants and herbs in their practice in that the assumption of having basic knowledge is apparent. There is no how-to on how to make Marygolde water; it’s assumed the reader knows. Personally, I love this way of presenting information as I find some books on this specific subject spend far too many pages giving information that can be easily looked up on the internet. Many books claim to be resource books but end up masquerading as something far more basic than what the tag line says. This book is the opposite.

The spells contained in this section are not carved in stone; there is an understanding that the reader will take what they need and leave the rest. Using herbs and plants in personal spell work is not like using herbs and plants in cooking: there is no recipe to follow here, only guidelines. The book incorporates the generally accepted uses of all the plants and herbs mentioned, making it universal so there’s no need to undertake additional research on what rue can be used for. 

To be clear, there are no “recipes” for potions, only a general suggestion as to how one might go about crafting it for their own use. While there are instances of direction being provided in some cases, for the most part it’s assumed that the reader is familiar with basic applications such as making herbal blends and diffusing them. 

Should you pick up The Treadwell’s Book of Plant Magic if you’ve never held an herb in your life? YES. We all need to start somewhere and this book, while not providing introductory information on how to work in this realm of magic, will give you an abundance of information about the tools used to craft within this sphere. 

Pagan Portals – The Water Witch, by Jessica Howard

Pagan Portals – The Water Witch: An Introduction to Water Witchcraft, by Jessica Howard
Moon Books, 978-1-78535-955-2, 112 pages, March 2023

As a practicing witch with over twenty years’ experience, Jessica Howard has provided a blueprint for inviting the element water into personal practice. Her book, Pagan Portals – The Water Witch: An Introduction to Water Witchcraft, is full of useful information and insight. Not only does Howard talk about the various ways water could be used to develop one’s connection to the Divine, she also shares her own personal experience with the element, furthering the concept of there being no right way to practice this particular type of witchcraft.

Howard has laid the book out in both highly digestible and very practical sections in only 112 pages. The table of contents provides a glimpse of what’s contained within this book: an in depth look at the various facts of this craft

Personally, as a Fire sign I find water incredibly challenging to work with. Despite the great healing abilities water contains, along with various divination and knowledge seeking qualities, I have found it very difficult to use regularly. Howard’s clearly written book identifies the challenges and addresses them in the third chapter titled “Connecting With Water Energies”. In this chapter, she identifies and addresses the main root of my personal block when it comes to water: being gentle with yourself for not getting it right away. She explains why it might feel disheartening at first, saying:

“Sometimes we have shut ourselves off for so long that it can take a while to open ourselves up to these energies. So even if it doesn’t work with the first meditation or first blessing, keep at it. Try different approaches, search for more ideas than just what’s in this book, and keep at it until you find something that works for you.”1

I like the fact that Howard recognizes and fully embraces the fact that not every practicing witch is going to connect to water in the same way she has. By building in flexibility and encouraging additional studies outside of the book she wrote, she creates a sense of trust with the reader that isn’t overly cloying or fake. There is no loftiness in her language; not to say that what she writes is basic, rather, the way the book is written invites dialogue and experimentation on the part of the practitioner. Howard has not written a book telling the reader specifically how to be a water witch – she is sharing her journey and providing the steps she took in order to connect with the element in the way that she does.

This lack of information gatekeeping is so refreshing! Too many times I’ve read books that start off promising to share insight into whatever and before too long the realization that nothing is actually being shared sets in and I’m left with a book that doesn’t help my personal pursuit of knowledge. It’s disheartening and causes immense frustration. Howard has gone out of her way to ensure that if nothing else, the reader walks away with a healthy understanding of water in the context of magic and how useful it can be when used in conjunction with current practices. 

In a later chapter, Howard talks about the environment as it relates to those who follow a magical path. She is forthright in her requests to the reader in this specific framework: not only does she challenge those magical practices that instruct the practitioner to contribute to the ongoing crisis we see all around us in nature, but she gives specific thought to what we as individuals could do in order to reduce our footprint in this mass destruction. I’ve not seen anything as specific as this in any previous magical books and I am glad she took the time to remind us of the devastation our practices can cause if we aren’t mindful. Howard says:

“I’ve seen books on witchcraft which have recommended putting your petition into a plastic container and throwing into a river…pouring perfume into rivers because undines like pleasant scents. Please do not follow this advice. If you want to throw something into a river to help rid yourself of negativity, use a stick or small stone. If you want to give an offering to the undines, use a small vial of water which has had naturally grown rose petals steeped in it. Please stop and think about what you are offering and what the potential harm it could have before you make it.”2

This might turn folks off who want to just do their thing and not concern themselves with the harm they might be doing to the environment. Personally, my offerings are usually a combination of items that can be composted (fruit, flowers), and containers that are specific to the use of magic (candle holders, cast iron cauldron). While some of this might come off as sounding ‘holier than thou’, I share this only to show how simple it is to be mindful of the materials being used in your practice. 

Pagan Portals – The Water Witch is a wonderful book for those looking to expand their practice to include water work. It’s beautifully written and full of useful information that encourages the reader to learn more through other channels. A softer read than I am used to, this book both challenged my ideas around water magic and whether I could actually use it and helped me to find my own path as I navigated my deep feelings around being open to new things and performing magic.

Crimson Craft, by Halo Quin

Crimson Craft: Sexual Magic for the Solo Witch, by Halo Quin
Moon Books, 978-1-78535-939-2, 178 pages, January 2023

As a practicing Faery witch and lifelong lover of magic, Halo Quin is also a devotee of Freya and the Faery Queen, so it’s easy to see where the impetus for Crimson Craft: Sexual magic for the Solo Witch comes from! One of my favorite sections of this book is at the beginning of Chapter 1. Titled “Foreplay”, this small section is a warning to those who might not be ready to tackle the very intimate topics covered. Starting off with a bit of cheek is absolutely delightful, and perfectly suited to Quin.

The book is separated into a variety of chapters that are logically and well thought out in terms of pacing. The first chapter deals with how to use the book, with sections on safety considerations, including mental health support, as well as a note about ethics that talks about consent. While this is a book targeting solo practitioners and assisting with healing wounds associated with the erotic self, the inclusion of consent is completely appropriate. 

Separated into parts which then house individual chapters, Quin has deftly taken a number of topics and expanded on them in a detailed way. In “Part II Laying the Foundation”, Quin talks about sensual magic and provides insight into how to prepare for the various practices described. Interestingly, it’s acknowledged that not all things need to be healed all at once and the reader is cautioned to take their time and check in with themselves. Quin explains:

“Our bodies hold the memories of all we have lived through, and some of us have lived through quite painful things. We might need support to heal, or release, some things. If you encounter something like that within yourself, I invite you to consider what kind of support might be the right choice for you and seek it out when you are ready.”1

Quin has spent a great deal of time ensuring that this book is approachable and written in a way that is helpful and not divisive. You will find no earth shattering practices in here, unless you count taking responsibility for your own healing particularly sensational. This is not to mean that the book isn’t worthy of being on the shelf alongside other popular books of this ilk; rather, I would suggest starting with this book before those others. The tone is soft and gentle and might be a better entry into this sort of practice for those who are new to this. It isn’t easy healing sexual wounds no matter how much therapy might have been done, and this book is in line with many parameters around self-care with respect to the numerous calls to perform self check-ins along the way.

Having said that, the section on erotic divinities absolutely got my full attention. In fact, I jumped ahead to it as soon as I saw the table of contents. Who wouldn’t? I mean, I guess some people have patience and read through the whole book in order the way it was meant to be read but that person is not me.

Quin states that “Magic. Sex. War. Love. The deities of passion hold all these things in their grasp. The Goddesses of Passion are known by many names and many faces.”2 Quin continues by naming a few: Inanna, Aphrodite, Lilith, Freyja, Venus, and Babylon, all of whom have their own stories and embody the Goddess persona in very different ways, depending on which stories you subscribe to.

Quin connects love and righteous war saying that they are two sides of the same coin, which is apparent in that goddesses of love are often also warrior women as well. It’s an interesting concept, and one that is found often when reading about goddesses in this context. Quin explains why there is such a deep connection between love and war within the context of love goddesses, stating, “Perhaps because love is a passion, love is a feeling that fills one with fire. Whether that fire is the gentle hearth or the roaring bonfire, it is akin to the fire that can be used to protect the ones we love from darkness.”3

Not only does Quin talk about the goddesses, but the gods of passion are mentioned as well. It’s a bit tricky to navigate this particular space when there is much talk of reclaiming the divine feminine, but Quin magnificently sidesteps the drama and gets right to the point. Quin says:

“Each one of us, regardless of gender, has to learn to temper our passions, and to know when to let them pour out into the world. And so, the gods of love are so often depicted as wild and kind in equal measure…with their passions held in balance in service of their love. And here is the lesson of the gods of passion; where the goddesses can teach us about boundaries of self, the gods can teach us about the boundaries of community and family. Passion is both expression and protection, and is this not love?”4

Recognizing that gender can produce more stress in specific instances, I feel that this book would be more helpful than harmful for those looking to reclaim their sexual sovereignty. There are exercises included throughout the book that assist with healing in the form of journaling, meditation, spellcasting, and others. I would recommend Crimson Craft to absolutely anyone looking to start down the path of healing, regardless of whether the harm being dealt with is sexual or not. This is a valuable addition to any library, and I know it’s going on my shelf.

Consorting with Spirits, by Jason Miller

Consorting with Spirits: Your Guide to Working with Invisible Allies, by Jason Miller
Weiser Books, 9781578637546, 216 pages, May 2022

Within minutes of reading the introduction to Consorting with Spirits: Your Guide to Working with Invisible Allies by Jason Miller, I went online and bought two additional books by the author, Protection & Reversal Magick and The Sorcerer’s Secrets. I was so impressed with the writing style and information offered in the introduction, that more books from this author were needed immediately. 

With this book, Miller has written a manual that assists the reader in creating or strengthening bonds with dwellers of another realm, such as angels, spirit allies, or deities, and he does it in a way that feels completely accessible to everyone who is willing to put time into the effort. A devotee to practical magic for over 35 years, Miller is well versed in the occult and the various ways of application, yet trying to assign a specific path that he follows is near impossible. The author of six books and a variety of courses, Miller regularly shares his knowledge through emails to his subscriber list, of which I am part of. Full disclosure here: I am a fan of this writer.

Miller is clear and to the point and states that habitual company with spirits is the key to working with them. He says:

“…it’s the relationship that really matters, not whether the spirit is in the correct column for the planet or whether the description in the book fits your needs. Those things matter for choosing spirits to make initial contact with, but that’s just the starting point.”1

What I love about this book is the way it’s written: clear, easy to understand, with ideas presented that could be challenging for some. For me, the notion that once you do the research into which spirit you want to build a relationship with and set the stage for that relationship, you are then free to work with them whenever is mind blowing. I don’t know where I got the idea that there needs to be a high ceremony each time I wanted to interact with spirits, but I know that idea prevented me from contacting spirits doing so as I thought it would be unsafe without all the trappings.

While there is no warning attached to this book, Miller does have a caution to those who choose to pick it up. Miller writes in bold: ‘THIS SHOULD NOT BE YOUR FIRST BOOK ON MAGIC’ and I appreciate that. He explains:

“…this should probably not be your first book on magic. It’s not that this is an advanced book, I plan on making things as simple and as straightforward as possible. It’s simply that knowing some methods of protection, some basics of spellcraft, and having some competency at divination will make the work presented go a lot smoother.”2

I love the fact that Miller calls out that there needs to be basic understanding prior to picking up this book. In fact, that was the line that drove my impulsive purchases. When you set the foundation and ask that those participating have a working knowledge of basic concepts and practices, it makes for a much easier read. I’ve always thought that some books need to have some sort of paragraph explaining what you need to know before you start, and this book does just that.

The fact that Miller calls upon all sorts of spirits, including angels and demons, might seem a bit shocking to those who have had unpleasant experiences with organized religion. As a cult survivor, I completely identify with these people and understand that references to angels and demons might be triggering. I will be honest, I thought that I would stumble on that part but Miller’s openness and honesty about his experiences completely negates those feelings and instills a sense of wonder. That might not be what everyone experiences, but for me I was surprised to find myself contemplating contacting an angel for help.

The book is divided into twelve chapters ranging in topics from “What is a Spirit?” to “Relationships and Pacts” and everything in between. One of my favorite parts of the book deals with local spirits and how to contact them. This chapter is about how most sorcery is local. Miller explains: 

“…most Sorcery and Witchcraft are local. There are vast and ancient Gods and Goddesses contactable from anywhere in the world, as well as saints and all manner of spirits, but when it comes to getting stuff done, it’s not always who is the most powerful, but who is the most local.”3

Miller says that making a map that details important locations for magic is useful and provides a clear connection to spirits in that area. Researching the natural geography of the land is also helpful, as certain aspects lend themselves to amplifying magical activities. Finding specific places that feel more magical provides an extra layer of help when contacting local spirits, especially when it comes time to sit in communion with them and listen. Miller also suggests doing research on the history of the land as well, as that could potentially provide more information on who the local spirits are and how to contact them. So many great ideas for establishing contact with local spirits, and I can’t wait to try it out.

One of the best parts of this book is the blending of Christianity, Paganism, and Luciferianism in the rituals presented. Miller does this flawlessly and explains that to him, magic is magic. On the reasoning behind including three different perspectives he says, “These three approaches – The Christian, the Pagan, and the Luciferian – represent major streams of thought in the occult world that would benefit from a book like this. Other streams exist… the magic in this book could be adapted to those lines of practice if one were clever.”4

I would absolutely recommend Consorting with Spirits to anyone who is looking to establish a relationship or deepen an existing connection with spirit. Personally, I have used the information to strengthen my bond between myself and my ancestors with great success. This is not a book for someone who is dabbling though. This is a blueprint for finding and connecting to spirit in a careful and respectful manner. If that resonates, I urge you to pick it up. 

Empathy For the Devil, by Jerry Hyde

Empathy for the Devil: Make Your Demons Work for You. Without Selling Your Soul., by Jerry Hyde
O-Books, 1789047315, 160 pages, November 2021

I don’t subscribe to the whole idea of love and light as a spiritual path; I personally feel that we do ourselves a great disservice when we discard the darkest parts of ourselves in favor of remaining positive. Jerry Hyde’s book Empathy for the Devil: Make Your Demons Work for You. Without Selling Your Soul. is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Not only does Hyde straight up tell you that the whole book is shadow work, he actually explains why his book isn’t full of positive affirmations. He says: 

“Personal growth isn’t – and shouldn’t be – nice, it’s not about dream catchers, gong baths, or djembe abuse – it’s about going to the places where most of us have successfully avoided throughout our lives, facing our demons and taking responsibility for whatever we find in the dark recesses of our being.”1

This book might come across as particularly theatrical, and with good reason. Hyde’s extensive career in film, television, theater, and music comes across in the way he writes. Retraining as a psychotherapist has not diminished the flamboyant way he writes, and I am completely here for it.

Part confessional, part blueprint for excavating the deep crevasses of our psyche, this book is challenging in that it demands your full participation. Hyde writes as one who has been there and done that, and there is comfort to be taken from that. Personally, I want to be guided by someone who has done the work and not just have instructions and rituals barked at me: this isn’t a spiritual boot camp. Hyde takes great care to be as open and honest as he can; there is no coddling here, no room for those looking to take a short cut and emerge unscathed. As with most books of this type, there is a strong recommendation to travel with a therapist and to journal through the difficult emotions that are surely to arise.  

Hyde fully appreciates that this book is not for everyone and revels in the fact that those who seek it out are not the average Earth dweller. As for himself, Hyde states very matter-of-factly that he is not your average therapist, saying:

“What makes me – and any half-decent therapist – dangerous, is my understanding that true transformation is a process of death and rebirth, death and rebirth, death and rebirth, a constant never-ending cycle of destruction and creation, shattering and rebuilding, chaos and order with no objective other than to constantly be in a state of evolution.”2

It seems like a lot all at once but believe me when I say that picking up this book will save your sanity and just might save your life. Personal growth is exhausting despite the positive outcomes we may experience in conjunction with laying bare our most painful experiences. Sometimes we need to go through the patterns of excavating, re-experiencing, and healing many times before we can honestly say that we have dealt with the root cause, and sometimes we never even get close to discovering that root cause.

The book is broken into four parts which make a lot of sense once you get into the material. Keep in mind, this is not your average self-help book; this is a lifestyle changing guide designed to bring the reader back to themselves again and again. The first section, aptly titled “Here we go…” is a robust intro to both the writer and the materials that he will be addressing. It’s here we get our first taste of who this guy is and I will say that if I ever have the opportunity to meet him, I will no doubt shift into my awkward weirdo persona and say something inane like how much I love his shoes. I’m not great in those situations, is what I’m saying.

The remaining three parts are titled “Sex”, “Drugs”, and “Rock & Roll” and it’s here that we get what we came for. Hyde admits that there is no solid path forward in the acknowledging, exorcizing, and healing cycle that the reader is about to tread upon. What he offers is his approach, and it’s a good one.

There is an additional section called “Transformation” after each chapter and it’s here where we begin to realize what kind of an emotional roller coaster we just got strapped into. Depending on the kind of experiences the reader has had, these transformation segments are quite pointed and sometimes difficult to work through. These are the sections where some might find it useful to have a mental health practitioner with them, as the questions open up a variety of doors some of us may have nailed shut in our youth. It’s no easy feat to pry open these doors we’ve taken such great pains to keep closed, but trust me when I say it’s worth it.

Empathy For the Devil is not an easy book to read. There are a lot of questions and exercises in it that force a re-experiencing of situations that might have been buried due to how traumatic the event was. Personally, I rolled up my sleeves, poured myself a giant glass of wine, and threw myself into it. I did my best to tackle the hard questions and those I wasn’t able to deal with that I flagged and plan to go back to when I am able. If the desire to get to it and stop f*cking around is strong, pick this up, or gift it to someone who is in that headspace. It’s beautiful and life changing and mind blowing and provides just the right amount of trepidation as the chapters roll by. I’m not saying it’s a replacement for a mental health practitioner; I’m saying it’s a great way to get into the muck if you are so inclined.

Pantheon – The Norse, by Morgan Diamler

Pantheon – The Norse, by Morgan Daimler
Moon Books, 9781789041415, 152 pages, May 2022

Full disclosure: I am completely biased when it comes to Morgan Daimler. I adore her work and her no-nonsense approach to researching and writing, so much so that I end up adding her books to my already crowded bookshelves. Her latest offering, Pantheon – The Norse, is a welcome addition to my ever-expanding collection and is easily one of the best I’ve read on the subject.

Having already written two additional books in this series titled Pagan Portals – Odin and Pagan Portals -Thor, Daimler is well positioned to provide an introduction to the remainder in this latest offering, Pantheon – The Norse. The table of contents provides the reader with the information they need to determine where they will start in this book, as there is so much to choose from. Personally, I start with the Introduction.

The introduction sets the tone of the book, giving the reader the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the type of tone and language they are going to experience through Daimler’s writing. Straight forward, to the point, and without a lot of extraneous words, the introduction is the perfect set up for what the reader can expect from the rest of the book. For me, as well as many others, this is an opportunity to get a sense of who the writer is as a craftsman and what their style of writing is. 

Daimler separates the book into two parts, each part playing a role in presenting the information to the reader. She explains:

“In Part I we will be looking at the history, beliefs, and practices of Heathenry and in Part II we will explore who the Norse Gods are as well as related spirits that play an important role in the belief system. These parts are divided fairly equally in this book, as I feel that it is important to both have some basis in the beliefs as well as a solid source for information on the deities and spirits.”1

Additionally, Daimler is clear about what the book is not, and explains that her goal with the book is “not to create an in-depth, one stop resource for the subject but to offer readers a wide range of basic information to give a better understanding of the subject or help beginners seeking a starting place.”2

Being a solid source of information is something Daimler does best, as she clearly shares what she’s gleaned from her own substantial research. Honestly, reading her work is so refreshing as there is no guesswork or need to double check what she presents. While the book is a great entry into this world, it’s written in an elevated way to ensure that even the most learned person on the subject can come away with at least one golden nugget of information they didn’t have prior.

Daimler provides enough information to get you through the sections without causing too much overload. Her writing style is clear and loaded with clues that point to other paths within the topic being discussed; should you feel called to explore further there are useful endnotes included depending on how deep you want to go within the history and mythology. For many readers, the knowledge provided is enough to give the reader a sense of the overall system and while some might feel like exploring, there is no sense of pressure to do so.

The chapters are clearly laid out and sequenced nicely, with one topic naturally flowing in the next. Providing bite-sized chunks of data within the context of the overall idea of the chapter is something that not all writers are able to do with such ease. There is enough info provided to give the reader something to chew on before the next idea is presented. That is something that I look for in this type of book. Don’t just spoon feed me a few bits of trivia; make the subchapters relate back to the main idea of the chapter but also make sure they are entwined in some way. That’s storytelling within the parameters of imparting knowledge and Daimler is a master.

There are many similarities and parallels between this pantheon and others most readily seen in the section called “Celebrations and Prayers”. Many of the celebrations observed in the Norse pantheon are also part of other traditions, albeit under different names. The commonality inherent in these old “religions”, through the use of similar names, dates, and themes of the celebration, makes it easier to understand as a reader if a similar spiritual path is being followed.

I love this book for the simple reason that it has all the elements I look for when exploring different paths: beautifully presented research in bite-sized chunks that are easily understood, a robust resource section, and so much more. I didn’t even get into the sections on Gods and Goddesses, which is one of my favorite sections.

Pantheon – The Norse is perfect for those who are interested in a ground level introduction to the Norse pantheon without all the fluff. Yes, there is a lot of information to digest and sure, there might be some ideas or concepts that don’t quite make sense for a variety of reasons. That does not take away from the parts of the book that will resonate with those wanting a deeper understanding of this pantheon. As with most books in this vein, take what you like and leave the rest.