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Witching Hour Oracle, by Lorraine Anderson

Witching Hour Oracle: Awaken Your Inner Magic, by Lorraine Anderson and illustrated by Olivia Bürki
Rockpool Publishing, 1922785008, 112 pages, 44 cards, October 2023

Spiritual transformation, especially through witchcraft, involves the shedding of old patterns and beliefs that no longer serve the individual and the embracing of new perspectives and ways of being. Lorraine Anderson perfectly encapsulated the steps in the process of metamorphosis in the Witching Hour Oracle: Awaken Your Inner Magic. Channeling the highs and lows of her own spiritual journey, this deck guides readers in tapping into their innate power and shifting from the inside out.

“Each card in this deck represents a step on the journey back to your truest self (Deep Being).”1

Anderson explains in the guidebook how this deck came to her “in a time of extreme transformation.”2 In the midst of things falling apart, her priorities were skewed, valuing material gain over spiritual practice and neglecting self-care. Finding herself at a low point, Anderson decided to dismantle what was no longer working and face her shadow head-on. From her journey of being spiritual led through both  lows and highs, she gleaned insight to share with others on their own path, finding joy and magic along the way.

This deck consists of forty-four cards that are filled with glistening and luminous energy brought to life through the illustrations of Olivia Bürki. Nearly every card features the twinkling shine of magic, highlighting the invisible undercurrent constantly flowing around us. There’s a darker tone to the cards, yet there’s still plenty of vibrant colors that awaken the spirit within the imagery, prompting revelation for the readers as they gaze at the messages coming through. Bürki’s illustrations are truly magical, offering visual portals through the imagery of this deck.

While these cards can absolutely be intuitively read using the card’s name, imagery, and the word or sentence at the bottom, the guidebook adds interesting depth. Anderson provides guidance on how to read with companion cards. She describes how a card’s meaning changes depending on the other cards it’s pulled alongside. Using this concept, she has provided companion card descriptions for every card in the deck, which the reader can use to find further meaning in the cards they pulled.

What I like most about the companion card system is how Anderson pairs a companion tarot card for each card in the deck. I normally wouldn’t think to pull both an oracle and tarot card together. Yet I enjoyed this method and felt that working with two decks in tandem added a new flavor to my readings. Also reading the tarot companion card for each card in the deck helped me understand its energy more too.

The entry for each card in the guidebook features keywords, the tarot companion, description of the card’s meaning, and further description of significant companion cards within the deck that may have appeared in the reader together.

As an example, the card I pulled today was Invocation. The keywords are “power of words; kindness matters; criticism”3 and the tarot companion is the Page of Swords. The card’s description talks about how our words have power and so critical thoughts can be harmful both to ourselves and others. This one hit home for me since my husband just pointed out how critical I had been recently, often aiming my sharp words at him to the detriment of the quality of our relationship. Ever since he mentioned this to me I’ve been trying to be more mindful of the way I share my thoughts, and Anderson’s words “with practice you’ll learn to choose love-filled communication and your entire vibration and and situation will shift”4 was quite reassuring.

While I read this card singularly, the companion cards are High Priestess and Salt. Looking for further guidance on how I might better communicate with my husband, I went on to read each one of these cards in the guidebook too. And for those like myself who need some ideas when it comes to doing spreads, Anderson provides a ton to choose from! She provides spreads for getting to know the deck, a weekly self-care check in, discovering resources available to you, seeing the bigger picture, and more! I appreciate how these spreads are ones I can do regularly to stay attuned to my inner knowing.

Overall, Witching Hour Oracle is a wonderful deck for the witch interested in spiritual transformation, self-care, and deepening their connection to their intuition. Anderson has done a wonderful job of illuminating aspects of the spiritual path of the witch, including initiation and all the change that usually accompanies major leaps in spiritual and personal growth. I recommend this deck for everyone who walks the path of the witch, as we all need a little guidance sometimes, and the wisdom of this deck is one that has the power to usher in lasting manifestations and potent change.

Conjuring Dirt, by Taren S

Conjuring Dirt: Magick of Footprints, Crossroads & Graveyards, by Taren S
Moon Books, 1803413328, 176 pages, October 2023

I love dirt. My father is a ceramic artist, so unlike other kids whose parents might have tried to keep them tidy, I was always encouraged to play in the mud and eventually learn how to shape clay into bowls and mugs. From there, my enjoyment of dirt, and nature in general, led me down a path of environmental science; I’ve studied the microbes in dirt and learned how soil’s nutrients are vital for the growth of plants, which keep us alive through a balanced ecosystem.

But beyond the mind-blowing scientific study of interconnectedness through the ground beneath our feet, I’d never realized the potency of dirt from a magical perspective prior to reading Conjuring Dirt: Magick of Footprints, Crossroads & Graveyards by Taren S. This book has opened a whole new realm of magic to me, which I’ve been eager to embrace!

Taren is a seasoned magical practitioner with roots in the Carolinas, though she now lives in California. For over a decade she’s worked as a spiritual counselor and tarot card reader at a Haitian Voodoo Doctor’s botanica. She is initiated as a High Priestess within American Witchcraft and as a Mama Bridget within American Voodoo/Hoodoo. In Conjuring Dirt, she shares a lot about her personal path, giving readers perspective into how she’s learned this craft as well as the traditions behind the content of the book.

“We all have sacred and special dirt specifically to us. When we go back through memories we can ground into the land, and we can build new memories through the land. This in itself is a magical spiritual journey.”1

In this book, Taren teaches readers about three categories of dirt: Graveyard, Crossroads, and Purposeful (Footprint). She dedicates lengthy chapters to each one, giving the reader a full sense of the powerful energy held within the dirt and the many ways each one can be utilized in magickal workings.

She starts with Purposeful Dirt, noting that it’s the “most common and easily accessible”2 kind. Since it’s very versatile, Taren describes ways this dirt can be used for cleansing, banishing, and spellwork. She teaches about the types of spirit of place, such as Ancestral spirits and Land spirits, and how to connect and work with these spirits. Then she covers “spirit of the root” and how to unite with plants as allies. The list of plants and herbs and the way they can be used, which spans a whole ten pages, is immensely valuable to all practitioners, especially those new to working with plants and herbs.

Reading over parts of this section made me think of the land in a new way; did you know you can use the dirt from banks, casinos, and libraries for magickal purposes such as prosperity spells, amulets, and building knowledge?! Prior to this, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the dirt or spirit of these places. Now everywhere I go, I’m thinking about the energy of my surroundings, taking time to pause and attune to the spirit of the place, and think creatively about how the dirt might be utilized.

Crossroads Dirt comes from the liminal spaces where “two different environments meet or intersect but is technically neither extreme.”3 At these intersections, boundaries are thinner; it can feel like stepping out of time as multiple directions become available, prompting initiated action before the moment passes by.

“The meaning of crossroads is all about liminal space. Liminal space is that in-between point that means both we are neither here, nor there. Liminal space as represented by crossroads points to 100% potential and opportunity. It is the place where magick happens because it is that slight crack when/where anything can happen.”4

In this section, Taren provides an overview of the global lore about crossroads, revealing similarities between cultures while also highlighting each one’s unique lore. She also covers crossroads and witches, crossroads in dreams and modern magic, the significance of ley lines, and offers a crossroads tarot spread.

After sharing about crossroad magic in general, Taren goes more in-depth about Crossroad Dirt specifically. She teaches readers about the different types of crossroads one might gather dirt from and the significance of soil from each one. She covers how best to collect the dirt, petition the crossroads, and offers a ritual to open the crossroads. Other workings Taren provides are for propensity, a spell to forget, and banishing.

Last but not least, the section on Graveyard Dirt. Taren explains Graveyard Dirt “is used to employ the spirit of the one buried for your intentions.”5 Taren covers so much in this section, from symbols on grave markers to gathering dirt from the roots of cemetery trees, and it completely opens new doors for readers. This section alone could be a whole book! But one emphasis that comes through strongly is showing respect for the deceased. I like how Taren always reminds readers to mind their manners above all else!

While reading the section on Graveyard Dirt, I’ve decided it’s high time I go visit my ancestor’s graves and leave an offering. I don’t plan on taking any dirt this time, but I would like to begin cultivating a relationship with them, learning more about who they were in life and how I can maintain a relationship with them in their afterlife. To start, my dad and I decided we are going to begin purchasing grave markers for the family member’s burial sites he’s found that do not have them.

All in all, Conjuring Dirt is a wonderful resource for all spiritual practitioners. I would go as far to say it’s been my favorite magical book I’ve read in 2023! Taren does such a wonderful job sharing all she knows to help readers begin to incorporate dirt in their workings. Her style of talking straight makes readers feel she really has their best interest at heart, ensuring they’re doing things the right way and not making trouble for themselves down the line. This book is sure to reshape your perception of the land beneath your feet and give a deeper appreciation for the magic held within the dirt we often take for granted or overlook.

Real Sorcery, by Jason Miller

Real Sorcery: Strategies for Powerful Magick, by Jason Miller
Weiser Books, 1578638003, 256 pages, July 2023

Sorcery, the wielding mystical powers and tapping into otherworldly energies has captivated human imagination since the dawn of time. It is no wonder that sorcery has been a popular subject in literature, movies, and even video games. But what exactly is sorcery? How does it work? And can it really be practiced in the real world? These answers and more can be found in Real Sorcery: Strategies for Powerful Magick by Jason Miller, who assures readers that magic is real and with consistency and dedication everyone has the ability to become a sorcerer.

I was drawn to Real Sorcery because I knew that Jason Miller had lived in southern New Jersey, where I currently live, and connected with the “spirit of place”; he’s well known in the magical communities around here. I’ve always enjoyed his “keep it real” style of writing and the frank way he shares his magical insight. While I’ve been on his email list for quite some time now, which I highly recommend as an introduction to Miller’s work since he leads group spellwork and offers live classes throughout the year, the only book of his I have read previously is Financial Sorcery. Given that Financial Sorcery absolutely shifted my mindset in regard to wealth, aiding me in finding more lucrative jobs and creating a better financial situation overall, you would think I’d have picked up his other titles, such as Protection & Reversal Magick and Consorting with Spirits.

Luckily, like the titles just mentioned, Real Sorcery was recently republished with new commentary on Miller’s original text; in this case, Real Sorcery is the updated version of The Sorcerer’s Secrets: Strategies in Practical Magick (2009). The additional text from Miller adds a new layer of depth to the previous work, inviting readers old and new to see how his thoughts have changed (or not) over the past decade.

The content itself is rich as ever, filled to the brim with practical advice for readers wishing to learn more about how to take their magic practice to the next level. What I like most about Miller as a teacher is that he expects something from his students. He writes:

“If magick is a fantasy for you, then of course you want it all to just jump to life because of how magickal you are, but if we accept that Sorcery is real, with everything that implies, then that expectation should dissipate like fairy dust, revealing the truth that it takes work to get good at things, and that discipline and persistence will outperform natural talent at every turn.”1

Miller reminds the readers that magic is real, but so are certain conditions of our reality. Therefore, instead of relying on magic alone, his strategy is to work with the conditions in play rather than against them. And it goes without saying, this often takes a heap of self-awareness, willingness to learn from one’s mistakes, and resilience in the face of disappointments. For some, this might feel like a stripping of enchantment from their practice, but for many it’s a reassurance that with time and practice, one can improve their sorcery.

“Part One: Basic Training” is dedicated to teaching readers the basic magical foundation he operates from as a sorcerer, and it’s certainly eclectic! What stands out about Miller’s imparted wisdom is that he isn’t afraid to learn and work with various magical systems, as he recognizes the universal similarities that underlie different traditional systems. I want to frame it as a distillation of many great truths into a workable system for readers, but I say this without implying it’s reductive in any sense. In fact, I find his approach extremely liberating, and it helped me to see how the magical working of different paths and traditions are all working with the same planes and principles.

“Part Two: Strategic Sorcery” has chapters focused on various types of magical workings: divination, influence/persuasion, finance, protection, love/lust, and more! All the sections have information that is both magic and mundane, making it easy for readers to employ Miller’s wisdom in their practice at their current skill level. While sharing spells, chants, and other general “how-to” guidance, such as gesture and vocal commands and creating altars, Miller imparts so much first-hand knowledge of his own experience. I find this invaluable as a reader; I want to hear the stories of magical workings gone right and wrong to have a more well-rounded idea of what the heck I’m doing and the myriad of potential consequences.

While there’s plenty I’ve learned from this book, the current takeaways that are still churning in my mind are the reminder that I can determine my own magical ethics – Miller absolutely works in the gray area, leaving room for readers to decide what workings they’re comfortable with – and the concept that I don’t have to obsessively protect myself. For all I’ve learned about protection magic, Miller was the first person to acknowledge that too much protection and defense can actually hinder other types of magical working, such as spirit communication. These two insights overall seem to be pointing to a rebalancing of my current workings, giving me the confidence to venture into a new magical landscape.

For those of you ready to delve into the secrets of sorcery and explore the fascinating world of magic, Real Sorcery is a wonderful place to begin. Miller provides a wonderful foundation to begin your sorcery path or enhance your current level of skill. From the different types of spells and rituals to the potential benefits and risks of practicing magic, Miller cuts through the fluff to provide clear guidance. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is serious about starting or furthering their magical practice.

Ancestral Magic, by Kirsten Riddle

Ancestral Magic: Empower the here and now with enchanting guidance from your past family history, by Kirsten Riddle
CICO Books, 9781800652613, 144 pages, September 2023

Discovering more about one’s family origins has become increasingly popular as new methods are developed to trace lineage through DNA. Perhaps you’ve done a swab to submit to sites like Ancestry and 23andMe, maybe even met some new relatives! As interesting as the physical aspect of our connection to our ancestors can be, there’s so much that can be explored through the spiritual dimension too. Ancestral Magic: Empower the here and now with enchanting guidance from your past family history by Kirsten Riddle is a perfect place to start your journey of connecting more with the potent magic of your ancestral lineage.

Riddle is a best-selling author of spiritual titles including The Beginner’s Guide to Wicca, Be Your Own Goddess, and Discovering Signs and Symbols. Her intention in writing this book was to provide a starting point for those hoping to learn more about their familiar power through the lens of magic, which is definitely her writing speciality! Ancestral Magic is filled with tons rituals, techniques, and guidance to aid readers in connecting with their ancestors, a process which Riddle notes is “personal and different for everyone”1, in a way that feels resonate for them and their path.

Ancestral Magic is composed of six chapters that I felt like intuitively built upon each other, moving from exploration of the ancestral impact on the reader personally to the reader’s connection with the ancestors to the family as a whole. I found this approach was very grounding because the initial chapters centered me within myself before branching out to explore more of the larger family dynamics, stories, and karma in play.

The style of each chapter is similar with descriptions of magical techniques, “Try This!” rituals and exercises, and pages for journaling your results at the end. There are also meditations included for each chapter. Riddle does a great job of balancing hands-on methods of connecting with ancestors (creating altars, gathering photos, writing out family memoirs) with psychic work (dream intervention, cutting karmic ties, scrying with mirrors). There’s also guidance on how to cultivate one’s ancestral gifts, build self-esteem, switch the narrative around, and other spiritual practices to enhance your own perception of yourself and your family.

One thing I will say is that ancestral magic takes devotion and dedication! To really unpack your ancestral karma, reveal limiting beliefs you’re carrying, or deeply explore your family’s stories takes time. There’s a spirit of reverence that seems to come naturally when doing this spiritual work, which invites you to slow down your pace. Plus, family stuff is very personal, and it can bring up a lot of emotions, which it is important to integrate at your own speed.

Riddle provides enough exercises that I have no doubt one could easily spend months, if not a full year, mindfully exploring their ancestral lineage. Certain sections might take longer to work through than others too. For instance, it took me about a week to set my intention for my ancestral magic, do the meditations, reflect on the questions posed by Riddle, and actually do the “Try This!” exercises in the first chapter, which is focused mostly on the reader themselves. Even when it’s made approachable, fun, and creative as Riddle has done, ancestral magic requires actually doing the work to reap the rewards.

But for those who move through Ancestral Magic, discovering their own inner gifts, discovering and maybe even rewriting their family narrative, doing the shadow work of ancestral karma, and opening to embrace the support of their ancestors, there is so much potential for a positive future! This is magic that offers a lifetime of insight and divine assistance.

Everything culminates perfectly in the final chapter, which was probably my favorite part of the book! This section offers ancestral spells for joy, love, abundance, support, and good fortune and an exercise to find one’s family’s totem, which could be a “a place, an object, or even an animal”2 often featured in the family folklore. Riddle also offers protection techniques, intended to help readers feel watched over and guided by their ancestor at all times, and advice on how to create family mantras and affirmations. I’m planning to reflect more on my family narrative (all the stories we’ve passed down through generations) to discover our totem and write mantras and affirmations that I can share with my family as a holiday present.

Overall, Riddle teaches us that ancestral magic is a fascinating and powerful practice. By tapping into the wisdom and guidance of our ancestors, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. Whether you are just beginning to explore your family history or have been practicing ancestral magic for years, there is much to discover and learn. Ancestral Magic is your guide to unlocking the secrets of your family’s past and use that knowledge to empower your present and future.

Pagan Portals – Planetary Magic, by Rebecca Beattie

Pagan Portals – Planetary Magic: A Friendly Introduction to Creating Modern Magic with the Seven Energies, by Rebecca Beattie
Moon Books,1803411767, 152 pages, August 2023

What if you weren’t at the mercy of the planets, but rather could learn to work with their energies in order to create magic? Pagan Portals – Planetary Magic: A Friendly Introduction to Creating Modern Magic with the Seven Energies by Rebecca Beattie is a guide to connecting with the Seven Planetary Powers to enhance your spellwork. Within this book is all you need to learn about each planetary energy and different methods to invoke their powers.

Since Beattie’s focus is on the Pre-modern Universe, this book focuses on the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn (sorry Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto!). She draws upon traditional grimoires of this time, such as Cornelius Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, and takes readers back in time through history to understand how these planetary energies were observed by cultures of the past. The illustrations in the book “are taken from pre-modern woodcuts from either the grimoire tradition, or medieval tomes on the nature of the universe,”1 which is great for those interested in occult history.

Before delving into the energies, in addition to the history of grimoires and planetary magic, Beattie covers topics such as twenty-first century magic (the conscious/unconscious mind), the Kabbalah, planetary kameas (magic squares) and sigils, working with herbs, tarot correspondences, planetary days and hours (magical timing), and Orphic Hymns. She also acknowledges how source texts are often contradictory, noting in this book she primarily focuses on Agrippa’s work. For those who read additional sources from this time, Beattie recommends keeping a notebook to keep track of differences in order to make up one’s own mind.

The chapters for each planet pretty much follow the same format. They begin with an Orphic Hymn followed by an introduction to the planetary energy by Beattie. She explains how working with the planetary energy can be helpful and then provides the kamea, sigil, Agrippa’s suffumigation, incense recipe, sigil, seal, examples of deities with this energy, tarot correspondences, and then practical magic section. The practical magic section varies depending upon the planetary energy, but various examples include oil recipes, bath salt recipe, tea recipes, herbal sachet recipes, and candle magic recipes, along with planet-specific spells.

And I just love how well organized it all this whole book is for reference! I admittedly own a copy of Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, but the books are hefty and quite long; they are not something I could easily carry around for reference. In comparison, Pagan Portals – Planetary Magic is short, sweet, and densely packed with all you’d need for planetary magic spellwork. This is a book that I could keep in my backpack or near my altar for reference.

Plus, Beattie makes it so easy to figure out which planet to work with by including a long list of intentions, alphabetically ordered, with the corresponding planet. From abundance to worry, the A-Z list of intentions also includes breaking contracts, dreams, fertility, mental power, peace, sea-faring protection, preventing theft, and so much more!

I recently started a new fitness plan, so I decided to bolster my motivation with some spellwork. Using the list of intention, I found “Athetlics – endurance”2 and saw it was ruled by the SUN. This is something I wouldn’t have guessed, since I figured Mars would be the planetary energy for all things athletic. I decided to draw the seal of the Sun and tape it on my water bottle. And then I also followed Beattie’s directions for making a solar candle for health, which was anointed with the solar oil for success recipe Beattie also provided.

In addition to the practicality of the book having so much information in one place, my other favorite thing about this book is the inclusion of deities beyond the Roman pantheon the planets are named from. Beattie writes:

“It’s the quality of the planetary energy that is important, not the name, and while the deities they were named for might be ascribed masculine or feminine genders, the planetary energies aren’t gendered in this book as I don’t consider them to be gendered.”3

I appreciated this non-binary approach to the planetary energies. And furthermore, I also highly enjoyed how for each planetary energy Beattie included alternative deities to work beyond the traditional Roman one. For instance, other Saturnian deities included Osiris, Hel, Persephone, and Binah. Beattie shares a bit about the deity, how they reflect the plantery energy, and sometimes even specific ways to work with them (i.e. offerings the deity likes).

Overall, Pagan Portals – Planetary Magic: A Friendly Introduction to Creating Modern Magic with the Seven Energies has been a delightful read for me. Beattie is a wonderful guide for those who want to learn how to include planetary magic in their practice. Her ability to concisely present a vast, ancient magical system without skimping in detail is truly so valuable for readers. I appreciate the work she has done so that we all can have a handy guide for planetary magic. It’s a book that I am certainly going to keep handy for reference. Whenever I want to carve a planetary sigil, it’ll be quick to find it in this book. Or when I want to create incense or an oil, all the information I need is right here.

The Magic of Cats, by Andrew Anderson

The Magic of Cats, by Andrew Anderson
Moon Books, 1803410663, 120 pages, May 2023

Just when you think you know everything about cats, Andrew Anderson comes along and opens your eyes to a whole new world–a world of stark contrasts between the cat of the night–with his lunar connection and the cat of the day with her built in solar panels. Both of whom are similar in so many ways but love to remind us of their differences. 

The Magic of Cats takes us way back, all the way to the Chinese creation myth that cats were sent by the gods to protect and look after humans, a task which they ultimately failed at, and instead became our silent, judging companions. 

As a lover of cats and a human who has been fortunate enough to be given the honor of living with a cat, I instantly knew I had to read this book. My cat, who I refer to as my familiar, is a definitive cat of the night. She’s like a little ninja, becoming a shadow when needed. Stalking her prey with her murder mittens, then flouncing back home ready for belly rubs, head bumps, and snoot boops.

We try our best to turn these kitties into snuggly, fluffy balls of floof, and although they tolerate it to an extent, they’re inevitably the rulers of any roost, as Andrew makes quite clear. Cats have prowled this earth for millenia, with us mere humans at their beck and call, and that’s not about to change any time soon.

I’d like to take this opportunity to offer a trigger warning, although Andrew doesn’t dwell on the harmful behaviour that cats have endured from humans in the past, he doest cover it. He doesn’t go into great detail, but if you’d prefer to not read about it, maybe skip past pages 32 and 33.

Anderson has split the book into two sections, each with their own chapters: “The Cat of the Night” and “The Cat of the Day”.

The witches among you will most likely be familiar with the cat of the night. They are sneaky and slinky and receive their energies from the moon. These are the cats who humans have sadly feared at times, when actually they should be celebrating their feline ways. If the Chinese creation myth is to be believed, then the cats of the world will be all seeing and all knowing, something which I’m surprised wasn’t taken into account in the historical treatment of cats.

And then on the other hand we have the cat of the day. The one who worships and soaks up the sun, he’s cunning and clever and knows exactly how to win your heart.

It is apparent, aside from Anderson telling us in his introduction, that he adores cats. They are and always have been a huge part of his world.

So much so that he was inspired to write the poem “The Cat of the Night and The Cat of the Day (A story for kittens of all ages)”. This narrative poem is a beautiful representation of how sacred we view cats to be (and with good reason). Anderson’s poem is accompanied by the gorgeous illustrations created by artist, Hannah Willow, and the beauty that she brings out of his words is ‘purr-fect.’

Cats are ever present throughout our history, whether feared or revered. We live and love alongside our feline friends. Never really knowing what they’re thinking, but hoping that deep down they feel something for us. And from reading The Magic of Cats, Anderson gives me the confidence that on some level they do.

Nevertheless, whether it’s reciprocated or not, we always invite them into our lives, as we’re all fully aware of that precious feeling we get when, just for a fleeting moment, a cat makes us believe that we are noticed in its world.

Then you realize all the cat wants is your chicken sandwich, and he or she may allow you to give them a head scritch, but only for precisely 4.5 seconds. Because you, measly human, are not worthy of anything else. 

The Magic of Cats is a wonderful way to find a deeper connection to your furry freeloading roommate. And also, to dip into the history of cats of the world, how they’re represented in religion and where they feature in myth and legend.

Anderson has encapsulated these magnificent creatures in his powerful poem, of which he says:

 “…imagines a story told by a mother cat to her kittens, explaining how the world was created and why we alternate between periods of light and dark.”1 

It really cements the connection we can have with our cats, the magic we can share. We all have two sides to us, and I believe we can all find shared similarities in the cat of the night and the cat of the day when we look inside.

Gemstone and Crystal Magic, by Gerina Dunwich

Gemstone and Crystal Magic: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Using Stones for Spells, Amulets, Rituals, and Divination, by Gerina Dunwich
Weiser Books, 1637480075, 256 pages, August 2022

After reading a book on lithomancy recently, I thought it would do me good to brush up on my knowledge of gemstones and crystals. It seemed opportune that I had Gemstone and Crystal Magic: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Using Stones for Spells, Amulets, Rituals, and Divination by Gerina Dunwich sitting on my shelf just when I needed it! Delving into this book has give me tons of insight into the magical properties of gem and crystals, much more than I initially anticipated, to help me discover all the ways I can use the potency of them in my practice. Combining history with personal experience, Dunwich has brought to light all various forms of magical workings one can use gemstones and crystals for, presenting a full-picture of their potential.

What stood out to me the most at first was how this book went well beyond the far too common “New Age” descriptions of  crystals and gemstones. Once I started to learn more about Dunwich’s background, the way crystals and gemstones are approached made a lot of sense – she is an astrologer and occult historian! And to me this really makes this book on the topic standout from the rest because there’s so much information woven in from ancient texts and grimoires that situate the discussion in a more historical context, amplifying the timehold traditions and beliefs about different crystals and gemstones.

Dunwich is also a dedicated paranormal researcher, who is clearly very comfortable with the idea of spirits, demons, and curses, which are some topics not shied away from in the book. For instance, she goes into detail about the tragedies surrounding the allegedly cursed Hope Diamond and the paranormal phenomena of lithoboly. This valuable information contained in Gemstone and Crystal Magic that is often overlooked in other books that only superficially cover the topic. For experienced magical practitioners, this book can take your crystal and gemstone to the next level by teaching how to reverse curses, neutralize harmful energy, and use protection magic in combination with healing, spellwork, and manifestation.

Throughout the book many sources are referenced, which gives the reader plenty of avenues to explore if they are inspired. While Dunwich’s personal experience has certainly provided her with knowledge to write this book, the objectiveness in her writing is what really stands out. This isn’t a “how-to” based on Dunwich’s personal practice, but rather a compendium of knowledge she’s collected through research and study. This is a book that is filled with lore, history, anecdotes of magical practitioners, and well-sourced information about the use of crystals and gemstones.

My favorite chapter was “Stones of Zodiac” which had very interesting tables of correspondences that certainly would be useful in magical workings. There was a table of the gemstones associated with the guardian angels associated with each sign, the twelve apostles, animals of the Chinese zodiac, hour of birth, and monthly birthstones according to different traditions (Modern, Traditional, Mystical, Ayurvedic, Hebrew, Arabic, and Roman). Even if you’re not very familiar with astrology, this section could help to connect to your planetary energies through the gemstones.

I was also especially impressed by the six appendices at the end of the book, which includes tables of pagan gods and goddesses and their gemstones, gemstones for the eight sabbats, and gemstones for the parts of the Tree of Life, along with a calendar of daily stones for the entire year and different gemstone correspondences. It is arranged for the reader to easily be able to identify which gemstone they might want to work with depending on the day, time of year, or the deity they are inviting into their practice.

Aside from the resourceful tables of Gemstone and Crystal Magic, Dunwich also features guidance for making one’s own wand or talismans, tons of spells for all sorts of things from dream work to invisibility to love and money, picking a gemstone as an amulet, creating lunar tonic and other elixirs, and cleansing your stones. And this is only a small sampling of everything featured in this book!

One thing I will point out though is this book seems geared towards those with an existing foundation of magical experience. Yet while it’s not “hand-holding”,  I wouldn’t shy away from reading it either if you’re a beginner interested in learning how to deepen your magical working through the use of gemstones. Just keep in mind it focuses on the actual magical aspects of gemstones rather than how they can be used for energy enhancement or visual appeal in one’s craft, which is to say it goes deep into the heart of magic, bypassing the more superficial aspects working with gemstones many books focus on now-a-days.

Overall, Gemstone and Crystal Magic is a wonderful go-to reference book for those who are looking to incorporate gemstones into their magical practice. There are so many reasons to connect with gemstones and a variety of ways to do so, all based on what your magical work is calling for at the moment. This book is brimming with magical potency! You can feel the history and folklore is well-bound within these pages wanting to be passed forward and kept alive, which Dunwich has certainly done through her thorough compilation of gemstone knowledge!

A Spellbook for the Seasons, by Tudorbeth

A Spellbook for the Seasons: Welcome Natural Change with Magical Blessings, by Tudorbeth
Red Wheel Weiser, 9781590035375, 224 pages, March 2022

It’s always wonderful to step into a new season. How inspiring to embrace the changes in the natural world – differences in the light, the weather, the plants, the holidays. A Spellbook for the Seasons: Welcome Natural Change with Magical Blessing by Tudrobeth is a companion to the seasons that will greatly enhance your experiences and show you in so many ways how we are connected to the natural world.

Tudorbeth invites the reader to embrace the seasons and to “investigate these festivals (that are celebrated), the practical magic that flows through our seasons, and the gods that rule over the different times of the year.”1 I particularly liked that the book opens with two blessings: one for sisters and brothers around the world and one for the seasons and the turning of the wheel of the year.

The book is divided into the four seasons, with focus on each season’s garden, crystals, goddesses and gods, and spells, blessings and rituals. As I read the book in the spring, I focused most of my attention on that season. The spring months are associated with the Celtic deities such as Ostara, Belenus (Beltaine), and Brigid. The spring’s spells, blessings, and rituals include those for encouraging flowering in the garden, a daisy love ritual, and Ostara fresh air spell.

I performed the Ostara ritual on Ostara Eve, as the ritual is meant to embody hope, and then I made Ostara magic salt on the night of the full moon in March. When sprinkled around the home or office, it ensures bright ideas and business success. I now have my jar of pink salt sitting in a glass jar, ready for use! I enjoyed following Tudorbeth’s guidance and felt these small magical acts really attuned me to the energies of the season of spring.

For spring cleaning, there’s a small section on decluttering. I loved the Charm of Manannan. As Tudorbeth explains, the Celtic god, Manannan is a “foster father to the many children he takes under his care, and as a protector god he cares deeply for his children.”2 The Charm of Manannan is meant to bring about a loving and caring family home environment.

Additionally, there are rain blessings and rain energy spells that are meant to be done in a spring rainfall. The section on Beltane traditions provided an overview of Beltane, a cleansing detox ritual, and a spring sage clearing ritual. The Charm of Belenus is meant to be done toward the end of spring. The Charm is meant to invoke a happy, fun, and prosperous environment.

My recommendation for using this book to full advantage is to read the section on the upcoming season prior to the season’s arrival so that you have time to gather the items needed for the spells. While some might need to be collected at the last minute, such as flower-specific items, you can be prepared with other items such as salts, colored candles, essential oils, and shells. And then take your time in the season, experimenting with what you’re drawn to.

The sections on the season-specific garden offered suggestions on bringing wonder and magic into your outdoor space and inviting in the fairies. For spring, they include bluebells, hyacinth, and lily of the valley. As spring is associated with rain and showers, Tudorbeth focused on the power of the rainbow, and the suggested crystals include the colors of spring that form a pentagram of rainbows. The five spring crystals are rainbow opal, rainbow moonstone, rainbow obsidian, rainbow pyrite, and rainbow quartz.

The one downside for me was that some of the items were not readily available where I live such as periwinkle flowers or hawthorn twigs but again, with advance notice (e.g. reading the season in advance) I probably could have searched them out.

The other seasons are also given justice. Summer focuses on love, featuring Aphrodite and Apollo, a spell to welcome nymphs into the garden, Midsummer salt, a Lammas gratitude ritual, and a ritual for Midsummer enchantment. For Autumn, among other things, there is a clarity spell, an equinox healing ritual, a Mabon success spell, a Charm of Minerva (one of the three Roman deities who rule over the Autumn months), and a Samhain remembrance potion. Winter offers a first snow spell, an ice wand consecration ritual (if you are able to get an icicle), a Charm of Odin, midwinter tea, and an Imbolc ritual.

The most amazing part of A Spellbook for the Seasons is all the colorful, informative pictures. This is a gorgeous book to have on a table in your home because of the aesthetics that make it soothing to read through. The beauty of this book naturally entices one to want to perform with all the potent magic within. I really enjoyed the many hand-drawn illustrations, along with how the text on each page was simple and elegant. There is no clutter in the book, making it easy to focus on the spellwork or ritual you’re performing.

Tudorbeth is a hereditary practitioner of the Craft. The rules and gifts of herb lore, scrying, healing, tasseomancy, numerology, and candle magic have been passed down to her through several generations. I especially loved her reminder that we are meant to “use the gift that nature brings with these spells, but in return give something back … We are all connected to one another and everything around us. We are nature.”3 I highly recommend A Spellbook for the Seasons with encouragement to plan ahead to be able to use the knowledge imparted within its pages to full advantage.

Blackthorn’s Protection Magic, by Amy Blackthorn

Blackthorn’s Protection Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Mental & Physical Self-Defense, by Amy Blackthorn
Weiser Books, 1578637619, 208 pages, March 2022

My spirit journey took an unexpected twist recently. After spending a year delving into the realm of mermaids, I suddenly felt very called to explore the world of superheroes, self-defense, and protection magic. For the first time ever, I watched all the Marvel movies, and I became inspired to increase my physical strength and psychic defenses. This is what led me to reading Blackthorn’s Protection Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Mental & Physical Self-Defense by Amy Blackthorn. It has been a game-changer, awakening so many new ideas with practical tips I can immediately incorporate into my practice.

I had heard of Blackthorn because of her best-selling books Botanical Magic, Sacred Smoke, and Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews. But I was very surprised to discover Blackthorn also has a background in security. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, is a blackbelt martial artist, and shoots pistols competitively in addition to teaching women self-defense. How freaking badass can only possibly be? I would have never guessed! Her experience in both magic and security makes for one all encompassing, hell-of-a read.

The book is divided into four parts and covers mind, body, and spiritual protection. Then the last part is the additional information section that shares information about timing work according to the day of the week/moon phase, color correspondences, and plants to use for different types of spellwork. Plus, Blackthorn provides a fantastic introduction into the topic of protection magic, writing about ethics, boundaries, and her own magical point of view. Her very straightforward approach made me more comfortable with the idea of using protective magic, and I especially liked how she clearly defined magic, curses, hexes, and jinxes for readers. There’s even a curse assessment for readers – how cool is that?

This book is the perfect blend of practical advice for self-defense and instruction on how to perform protection magic. What really stands out about Blackthorn’s writing is her conversational tone. She uses anecdotes to illuminate the content, such as bravely sharing her story of dealing with a stalker, and also ensures readers are taking the utmost precaution with their supplies. For instance, she continually reminds readers essential oils should never be used on infants and notes when certain herbs or essential oils are not appropriate to use. It feels like Blackthorn has your back as you read, which is such a reassuring feeling.

Blackthorn even wants to protect us from getting scammed! I really enjoyed the section of the book where Blackthorn shares how to determine the quality of essential oils and crystals. She goes into depth about how one can determine if they have a diluted essential oil or if it’s using low-quality ingredients. Then she discusses how to know if a crystal is legit, which I’ve always struggled to figure out. I will absolutely now be testing the quality of my essential oils and more discerning in my crystal selection.

I also now want a tactical pen to carry around with me. And I convinced my husband we should practice Blackthorn’s advice on how to get out of being tied up. I also looked into going to a shooting range because for the first time ever I saw the value in being able to defend myself. And all of this is so out of my typical lifestyle in so many ways, but it’s exactly what my hippie-heart needed to read to remember we can be loving and badass at the same time.

Another great thing about the book is that Blackthorn offers so many suggestions of how to incorporate protection magic into your practice that every reader is bound to find something that works for them. From energy practices (breathing, grounding, shielding) to outdoor gardening, the options offered seem limitless. And Blackthorn is thorough! The section on crystals did a great job of explaining their properties and it came in handy later when she talked about creating a crystal grid for protection. Her information on gardening, both indoor and outdoor, for home protection was wisdom I’ve never read elsewhere. There’s incense recipes, tarot spells, mirror boxes, and so much more.

The energy practice that I’ve been using most (and with great success) is one where she discusses visualizing oneself in an eggshell. Visualization practices usually never stick for me, but the way Blackthorn teaches it, including customizations one can make to their eggshell, has really stuck for me. I feel so much less anxious being around a lot of people now and haven’t felt “pulls” on my energy since I’ve started practicing this energy technique.

The only thing missing that I wish was included in the book is information about protecting oneself online, such as insights on tech-defense and thoughts on how to protect one’s energy in the digital world. Society is becoming more reliant on technology, most people use the internet daily, but with the amount of animosity, hate, and confusion that spreads like rapid fire nowadays, it can be tough to know how to protect one’s energy online.

I have developed my own practices, and based on the wealth of information given by Blackthorn, readers could definitely piece together a spell for online protection. But I just value Blackthorn’s insights so much that I wish I could learn her thoughts on digital safety and protection too. However, this in NO WAY detracts from the immense amount of information provided in the book for day to day protection.

All in all, Blackthorn’s Protection Magic is the best book I’ve ever read on the topic. Blackthorn gives her readers the low-down we all need to stay safe, strengthened, and shielded from harm. Her unique blend of practical and magical wisdom make for a comprehensive how-to guide when it comes to protecting oneself on all levels: mind, body, and spirit. I feel strong after reading this book – and more street smart. I highly recommend this one for your collection!

The Witch at the Forest’s Edge, by Christine Grace

The Witch at the Forest’s Edge: Thirteen Keys to Modern Witchcraft, by Christine Grace
Weiser Books, 9781578637584, 224 pages, November 2021

“I stand in the meadow, at the forest’s edge. One step forward and I will straddle the boundary between fading light in the swaying grass and rich darkness in the woods. One more step and I will be immersed in the nighttime world of southern, hardwood forest. My home lay behind me, the wild magic ahead. I am the witch at the forest’s edge.”1

The Witch at the Forest’s Edge: Thirteen Keys to Modern Witchcraft by Christine Grace is an immersive and deep dive into the world of the modern witch. Grace’s theology studies shine through with informed practices and cross section references to other spiritual practices. The philosophies and method of study contained within this book provide the reader with a sampling of the tried and tested teachings that are foundational within The Forest’s Edge Tradition, co-founded by Grace in 2011. 

“The essence of the Forest’s Edge way is to honor the specificity of the individual, while holding that each witch is fully themselves only within the web of human and other relationships in which we live and have our being.”2

I appreciated the “How to Use This Book” and “Self-Assessment” sections of the Introduction. Knowing the “how” and the “why” align deeply with the overall intentions of this book. These emphasize the ultimate goal of the modern witch to develop as one who finds their way through deep reflection, deep practice and a slow and often self-guided approach to cultivating the individual’s personal growth in the practice of witchery. All of the tools required for that intention are found within the pages of The Witch at the Forest’s Edge: Thirteen Keys to Modern Witchcraft.

The book is separated into thirteen chapters. The formatting of these chapters allows the reader to flow easily through a methodical and well-designed approach towards cultivating their own practice of modern witchcraft. “Communing with Spirits” (chapter two), “Cultivating Spirit Senses” (chapter four), “Divination” (chapter eight) and “Spellcraft” (chapter twelve) are some of the topics included for deeper exploration.

Additionally, each chapter contains sections with related content for reflection and another for actual practice. The “Resources” that conclude the book are thoughtfully aligned by chapter and rich in specifically curated titles of depth and substance.

Grace offered some practical insight in chapter one, “Worldview and Spirituality”, which spoke as a lovely fusion of her spiritual practice and her training as a counselor:

“It is one thing to give an intellectual assent to the ideas and practices outlined in this book. But will you do the work? . . . In order to identify and develop perceptions of the sacred and the many influences at work in ourselves, and our environment, we need both study and practice.  Once a practitioner has actually experienced something that they learned or formed in study, it takes on new life and deeper meaning unique to that individual. Without study, we may not be inspired to practice with depth; without practice, we cannot fully understand our study.”3

This approach is clearly evident throughout the pages of The Witch at the Forest’s Edge; each chapter is complete with opportunities for study of the related skills and guidance for practice of these newfound concepts. As stated by Grace, the power lay in the interweaving of the two as the reader begins to build a strong foundation of witchery. 

I was particularly drawn to chapter seven, “Hedgeriding”.

“Hedgeriders follow in the ancient tradition of magical practitioners who live with one foot in this world and one foot in the Otherworld. The Otherworld is the multilayered realms of fae, ancestors, gods and innumerable other spirits. Hedgeriding is a means to release part of our consciousness from this world and travel, spiritually, into the Otherworld to engage with spirits, gather new knowledge, hone magical skills and create change.”4

There is an abundance of information about the use of the word “hedgeriding” in this chapter, both in general terms and as it applies to The Forest’s Edge tradition. And, with the primary focus being that of moving between the worlds and liminal space, this chapter is ripe with suggestions for the practice of hedgeriding through guided meditation and visualization and incorporates a step by step process to allow the reader to find their correct path of resonance into the astral:

“At its core, hedgeriding is a deeply altered state of consciousness and both mental and physical.”5

Another chapter of note was chapter thirteen, “Magical Ethics”. There is much debate in the pagan community about the ethics of baneful magic and the harm or healing it may do, if thought ethical to practice at all. This chapter speaks clearly to what the responsibilities and the allowing of free will, individual power and choice are for those who embrace a witchery that is rooted in traditional witchcraft as practiced by The Forest’s Edge tradition.

“Traditional witchcraft does not forbid any spellcraft or magical practices. We cultivate the skill to both hex and heal as needed, as all of existence contains this sort of ebb and flow.”6

There is a generous amount of thought provoking statements and the “Reflection” section of this chapter is one that should be given deep consideration in the formation of the individual’s personal ethics. This is preceded by Grace providing the reader with “An Ethical Structure”, that allows for a methodical approach to ethics within the craft and ways of organizing your thoughts.  

The closing section of the book feels like a loving gift of support and encouragement from Grace to the reader. She offers a bolster of confidence that is infused with the underpinnings of some of the philosophies presented throughout her book; there is no right or wrong way of practice, the work of the craft is demanding and difficult, and although at times progress may feel slowed, the path of the witch is always rewarding when you remain true to yourself. 

“Don’t fear the cycles of practice. The time and energy that you devote to your craft will wax and wane and shapeshift through the seasons of your life.  It doesn’t make you less of a witch. You are just living the cycles, like the rest of nature. The magic is yours, a witch unto yourself. You are beholden to no one but connected to many as you stand at the forest’s edge.”7

The Witch at the Forest’s Edge is a handbook into the world of modern witchcraft founded on the teachings of a practicing tradition. Regardless of what or if the reader claims as their own practices within the craft to explore and build upon, the take away from the reading of this title is one of greater clarity about the possibilities of taking the journey of the Witch.

As is true of the mysteries of weaving one’s magic, the content is layered between word and practice, between experience and integration; and, as such it should also be understood that a single reading of The Witch at the Forest’s Edge provides only one layer of understanding. This is a title that will become the reader’s reference guide. Much like fine wine, as the studies age, so does the deepening of the practice, becoming the way in which (Witch) the practitioner lives their magical and mundane life.