Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working with the Energies of the Natural World, by Nigel Pennick
Destiny Books; 3rd Edition, 1620557587, 144 pages, October 2020
Nigel Pennick’s Elemental Magic: Traditional Practices for Working with the Energies of the Natural World contains multitudes. There is so much depth and wisdom here for you to explore, experiment, and deepen your magic. I am truly blown away by Pennick’s ability to offer eloquent and clear breadth and depth within this slender forest-green handbook. I feel as if I have happened upon an essential tome for my magical practice as a person living through environmental crises.
The time for this book is right now. Pennick is grounded, both in terms of his clear writing style and in his offering of foundational practices that will benefit both the burgeoning witch and the established practitioner. On the back cover, Pennick is named an authority on ancient belief systems, traditions, runes and geomancy. This book is an impeccable example of that authority.
Pennick touches on the essential elements of the practicing magical person, and he is able to do so with clarity and brevity. What I loved about this book is that Pennick has taken the esoterica out of the transmission. He communicates accessibly so that we can enter into these practices and rituals. His clarity allows our intimacy with the earth and natural magic to foster the mystical and the ineffable.
This text is truly a practical reference for so many aspects of natural magic. Pennick touches deftly on the fundamentals: “Saturday is dedicated to the Roman god of aging and time, Saturn.”1 and “Fire symbolizes the lightest things of existence, the energy and spirit.”2 If you are a beginner, trust that this handbook is an instructive initiation.
My favorite chapter, “The Magic of the Land,” surfaces the ensouled landscape. It talks about how “there are certain places in the natural landscape, whose spirit is more likely to be noted by human… they are all holy grounds, at which something intangible but nevertheless, real is present.”3 Reading this book reminded me how deeply woven I am into the fabric of the land, and that my intimacy with the natural world is a place where magic springs.
Elemental Magic can absolutely be read from start to finish. It also invites you to sit down, open to an unexpected page, and discover what awaits you. At one such moment with this book, I found myself reading about the crossroads and the labyrinth. Pennick says “Crossroads are good places to make magical ceremony.”4 He offers that labyrinths “create an anchor energy, their spirit is energized by human activity.”5
This is a book of a multitude of beginnings. Pennick gives you just enough information to pull you in, to spark your curiosity, to get you started in your communion and magick-making. And you get to find out for yourself what the tree, or the stone, or the labyrinth has to offer. It is beautifully constructed for a beginner who craves a broad overview. This book stands as an excellent resource and reference for the more established magical practitioner because it is organized so succinctly. It is organized in chapters that explore the plants, minerals, animals, the land itself.
One of my favorite practices offered was part of the “Magic and Action” chapter on making and charging a magical talisman. I invited a friend into this practice. First, we each created the talisman. We then followed Pennick’s protocol, including working with the astrology of the moment and lunar cycle. Both of us felt not only the pleasure of crafting our own magical tools but also the potency of the spell work.
One of my favorite things about this book is how much it is just a welcome beginning to having your own unique experience. Pennick is impeccable at walking that line between offering you his approach and perspective, promising you the richness of what is to come in your own intimacy with these practices, and truly leaving the space for you to discover the magic for yourself.
Orienting towards nature is a vibrant and necessary practice so deeply needed in our lives, so often mediated through technology. Elemental Magic allows you to truly see and understand yourself as a part of the more-than-human world. It is an honor to have such easy access to these profound and fundamental principles. This book is light enough to keep with you wherever you go and helpful enough to make the carrying of it worth it.
In particular, if you are a person of European descent who is seeking ways to reconnect with your lineage, use this book. For me, this book has been a continual reminder to go outside, to enjoy the song of the wind, to make magic exactly where I am, the sun on my skin, rooted in the dirt.
Allyson Seal is The Art + Sex Witch. Their pronouns are she & they. If they were a tarot spread, they would be The Three of Swords, The Empress, and The Star. If they were a planet, they would be Pluto. Allyson is a psychic medium, an artist, and a teacher. They believe that we can heal the wounds of our hearts and our spirits through our own attention. They also believe that it’s more fun if we do it together with creativity and sensuality. You can learn more about them at theartandsexwitch.com.