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Runes for the Green Witch, by Nicolette Miele

Runes for the Green Witch: An Herbal Grimoire, by Nicolette Miele
Destiny Books, 1644118661, 288 pages, January 2024

Runes embody the cosmic forces that created the universe and their mystical vibrations permeate all of nature. The word rune, derived from the Gothic runa, means “mystery,”1 and in Nicolette Miele’s debut book Runes for the Green Witch: An Herbal Grimoire, the twenty-four Elder Futhark runes become energetic keys that unlock the secrets of herbal medicine and magic.

Miele is a rune worker and herbalist based in Pennsylvania, and she is also the proprietor of Handfuls of Dust Apothecary. In her online shop, she offers rune readings and handmade products, such as rune sets and ritual oils. Her line of Rune Wisdom ritual fragrance oils supplements this book well, as each blend is infused with runic energy and corresponding crystals and herbs.

“Through runes and plants, which complement each other beautifully, we will honor the wild spirit that resides in each and every one of us,” Miele writes.2

Just as the title suggests, Runes for the Green Witch combines runic mysticism with herbal witchcraft. Like most runic reference books, this work is separated into three parts, dedicated to each Aett, or group of eight runes. There are twenty-four chapters, one for each Elder Futhark rune.

Each chapter begins with an introduction to the individual rune, giving its historical and divinatory context, as well as some of the author’s personal insights into its magical uses, followed by a list of herbal correspondences for the rune, along with their magical and medicinal applications. Miele also provides lists of additional correspondences, including tarot cards, zodiac signs, planets, moon phases, crystals, chakras, and cross-cultural deities that she associates with the runes on an archetypal level. 

While I like the idea of having a long list of magical correspondences for each rune, many of the author’s miscellaneous associations did not resonate with me. For example, Miele identifies the zodiac sign of Aries with Uruz, the mighty aurochs, and I feel that Taurus the Bull would be a better fit. I also found the Queen of Swords, traditionally the widow or divorcée in tarot, to be a strange association for Berkana, the mother rune, while the Empress made perfect sense.

The deity associations felt tenuous to me as well. I see gods from different pantheons that share similar characteristics as being part of the same archetypal current, but being unique personalities in their own right, so I am hesitant to conflate them unless there is historical precedence for doing so. In my personal practice, I prefer to just let the runes be runes, whose verdant powers are nourished by the rich soil of their native Norse mythology, without imposing foreign spiritual systems on them or conflating them with tarot, astrology, or chakras. However, I think these correspondences might be useful to someone new to rune work who finds cross-cultural comparisons helpful.

In keeping with the title of this book, the plant correspondences are where Miele’s runic wisdom and wise woman herbalism truly shines. “The subtle communication between humans and plants relies on primal intuition—something many humans today have to work harder to access,” 3 Miele says. She recommends building intimate relationships with individual plant spirits by consuming their essences in teas, soaking in bath water infusions, or burning them as incense, and keeping a journal of the emotional and psychic impressions received. Ansuz, the rune of communication, can help us learn to listen with our hearts to the subtle voices of plants. 

Reading this book encouraged me to incorporate runes into my tea-drinking rituals. Miele associates raspberry leaf with Perthro, the rune of the womb, which reminded me of when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I drank raspberry leaf tea sweetened with honey to strengthen my womb. Perthro is a rune of mystery and initiation, and giving birth for the first time was an intense rite of passage and an initiation into the mysteries of the mother goddess.

Miele praises raspberry leaf as a nurturing and protective plant ally for women and children. “This lunar herb exudes compassion and seeks to comfort those who are working through traumas, especially traumas from childhood,”4 Miele says.

Inspired by Miele’s insights, I decided to include both raspberry leaf and the rune Perthro in the ritual honoring my most sacred time of the month. I drank raspberry leaf tea as a tonic to relieve menstrual cramps and infused the brew with the spirit of Perthro. With my index finger, I traced the Perthro rune in the air over my steaming cup of raspberry leaf tea and intoned the name of the rune, then imbibed the gentle, soothing potion. 

Rewilding is a common thread that runs throughout Runes for the Green Witch, which Miele defines as “the restoration of land to its natural state.”5] The rune Uruz embodies this concept the most, as it is a rune of instinctual urges and primal energy. Uruz represents the aurochs, a species of wild cattle that was hunted into extinction, and the last aurochs bull died in 1621.

So how can rune workers rewild themselves with the atavistic energy of Uruz? On a psychological level, human rewilding involves unraveling our societal conditioning and reconnecting with the nakedness of our authentic selves. As Miele says, Uruz “takes us back to factory settings.”6 By meditating on Uruz, taking breaks from technology, and spending more time in nature, we can foster a deeper connection with the green realm and reconnect with our primal instincts. Uruz is also a rune of physical strength and healing, and Miele associates it with medicinal herbs like eucalyptus and echinacea, which support the immune system. 

After reading Miele’s chapter on Uruz, I felt guided by this runic spirit to do more research online, and I was astounded to come across an article stating that scientists are working to resurrect the extinct aurochs through rewilding! Since some European cattle breeds are descended from aurochs that were domesticated in ancient times, their genetic coding has survived, and can theoretically be reactivated through back-breeding. By resurrecting the aurochs and other extinct species through rewilding, scientists might be able to restore some of the biodiversity lost through the irresponsible hunting practices that have compromised earth’s precious ecosystems. Rewilding is also less risky than attempting to clone extinct animals, since it involves selective breeding of living populations. 

My practice is very animistic, and I love that Miele treats the runes as living spirits to whom offerings should be made. “Offerings are immensely important within magickal practice as it shows we’re not just in it for the taking,”7 Miele writes. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, and I noticed that my connection to the spirit world was enhanced when I committed to a consistent practice of providing offerings on a regular basis. In a shadow work ritual involving the torch rune Kenaz, Miele advises the reader to light a candle as an offering, then “call out to the spirit of Kenaz and request its guidance and protection while you journey to the abandoned depths of your soul.”8

Prompted by Miele’s advice regarding offerings, I decided to make offerings to runic spirits when I drew daily runes. The second day of reading this book, I drew Othala reversed, or murkstave, as my daily rune. Reversed, Othala represents “displacement, lack of security, loss of possessions, enduring family trauma, family conflict, or homelessness.”9 Estrangement, poverty, alcoholism, and domestic violence have been manifestations of a generational curse that I have experienced, and I asked the spirit of Othala to help me heal my ancestral trauma.

As I lit a candle and made an offering of milk and incense, I felt compelled to sing the rune’s name, which reminded me of the magical Norse practice of galdr, a shamanic form of cantillation. While I meditated on the rune, I felt that the spirit of Othala was telling me not to dwell too much on what has been lost. Instead of concentrating my energy on a legacy of generational trauma, she told me to shift my attention to focusing on breaking ties with that cursed inheritance and creating my own legacy. She asked me, What do you want your legacy to be?

During this meditative conversation, I realized that the spirit of Othala felt distinctly feminine to me. Then I remembered that I was working with an Anglo-Saxon rune set and Othala’s Old English name is Ethel. It dawned on me that Othala is a female spirit named Ethel, which means “ancestral land” and “noble” in Old English. I imagined her to be a noble ancestral spirit, or a faery queen. This may have been a flight of fancy, but I like envisioning Othala as a faery queen named Ethel, and I think I’m going to work with her under that name from now on.

Today, Ethel is a feminine name, but in Old English, it was used as a prefix for both male and female names to indicate noble birth.10] As a spirit of noble ancestry, I felt that she was communicating to me that ancestry transcends bloodline. The earth is our mother, and we are all related. The seemingly isolated family problems we experience are actually human problems that concern a lot of people in the collective. I feel this rune can help you get in touch with your innate nobility, and your divine birthright. We all have a divine spark within, and Othala/Ethel can help you to recognize your nobility and more authentically embody your Divine Self. 

What does it mean to be noble? The Latin word nobilis means “well-known,” so to be noble means you are worthy of being known, recognized and acknowledged for your deeds, and remembered.11 This all ties in with legacy, and being worthy of remembrance is a form of immortality. Reversed, Othala reminds me of a burial mound. It looks like a buried diamond, marked by an X. Othala asks, What do you want to be known for in this life? How do you want to be remembered when you die? 

After meditating on Othala/Ethel and channeling these messages, I finished reading the chapter on Othala in Runes for the Green Witch. Miele associates the following plant allies with Othala: “Avens, Babyberry, Blackberry, Coriander, Vervain, Vetiver, Witch Hazel.”12

“The plants of Othala represent ancestral connection and the energies that we wish to invite into our homes and families,” Miele says. “These plants aid in magickal workings regarding our heritage, protection of home and family, tradition, and the breaking of generational traumas.”13

I planted some berry bushes last year, so I already have blackberries growing in my garden that I can use to work with the spirit of Othala this summer. Witch hazel is an ingredient in one of my face washes, so I’m thinking about possibly incorporating Othala into my skin care routine. 

Runes for the Green Witch: An Herbal Grimoire has enlivened the runes for me in ways I never before imagined, and it will help you deepen your connection with the twenty-four runic spirits and their herbal allies too, if you’re willing to get your hands dirty. With spring just around the corner, this book will be a great inspiration for a runic garden theme! I will definitely be referring back to this herbal grimoire while I’m buying seeds and planting intentions.

Witchcraft and the Shamanic Journey, by Kenneth Johnson

Witchcraft and the Shamanic Journey, by Kenneth Johnson
Crossed Crow Books, 979-8985628173, 212 pages, January 2023

From accusations of shapeshifting and spirit flight to keeping the company of bestial familiar spirits, the testimonies recorded during the European witch trials bear an uncanny resemblance to ancient and universal shamanistic practices. In his classic work Witchcraft and the Shamanic Journey, author Kenneth Johnson posits that European witches were indeed practicing a form of shamanism, “the world’s oldest spiritual path.”1 This view has already been well articulated in Eliade Mircea’s Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (1951), and the scholarly works of Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg, such as Night Battles: Witchcraft & Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (1966) and Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath (1989), but Johnson builds upon historical evidence for the purpose of reconstructing ancient shamanic practices for modern witches.

Johnson is a professional astrologer and the author of several books, including Mythic Astrology (1993), which he co-authored with Arielle Guttman, and Jaguar Wisdom: An Introduction to the Mayan Calendar (1997). Johnson is originally from California, but currently resides in Mexico. He also spent a decade in Guatemala, where “he was initiated into the indigenous Mayan priesthood as an aj q’ij (keeper of days) in November of 2017.”2 Witchcraft and the Shamanic Journey is his personal favorite among his published works.

I read a previous edition of this book, published by Llewellyn under the title of North Star Road (1996), and I didn’t realize this was the same book until I started reading it. It was nonetheless a pleasure to revisit this superb work, as it contains a wealth of information and was one of the most influential texts in my transition from mainstream Wicca to the more shamanic practices of Traditional Witchcraft. This new edition, published by Crossed Crow Books, includes spiritual exercises inspired by Johnson’s tutelage under Russian shamans. It also has a foreword written by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, author of Craft of the Untamed (2014) and Seven Crossroads at Night (2023), and a preface by Robin Artisson, the author of An Carow Gwyn: Sorcery and the Ancient Fayerie Faith (2018) and several other works on Traditional Witchcraft.

Witchcraft and the Shamanic Journey is interspersed with beautifully written fictional vignettes that capture glimpses of shamanic witchcraft practices throughout Europe, such as “Greenland, AD 1000,”3 which features a priestess of the Norse goddess Freya practicing seidr; “Northern Italy, 1600,”4 which dramatizes the spirit flight of an Italian benandante, or “good walker,”5 who protects the harvest by fending off evil spirits with a fennel stalk; and “Scotland, 1662,”6 which glimpses the trial of Scottish witch Isobel Gowdie.

In the introduction, Johnson provides a brief historical survey of the environmental and cultural factors that led to the witchcraft trials, “a holocaust that, we should remember, took place not during the so-called Dark Ages, but during the more ‘enlightened’ age of the Italian Renaissance and the early years of the scientific revolution.”7 In the tumultuous 1300s, the Black Death, crop failures, peasant revolts, and the uprising of radical religious movements, such as the Cathars and Waldensians, contributed to a widespread fear of “an epidemic of witchcraft.”8 Inquisitors believed heretics were members of a diabolical cult, “formed about 1375, which called upon demons who often bore the names and attributes of old pagan divinities, and which met by night in ceremonies called Sabbats.”9

These so-called witches anointed themselves with flying ointments made of hallucinogenic herbs and took flight in spirit, either astride animals or riding broomsticks, riding the night winds to the Sabbat where they danced in orgiastic rites with a horned devil. Johnson suspects that there could have indeed been a witchcraft crisis cult, which arose in response to the drastic decline of medieval society. By returning to traditional shamanic beliefs and blending them with folk Christianity, members of this hypothetical cult may have been attempting to end “aristocratic dominance through magical social revolution.”10 One of the most fascinating theories Johnson presents is that the medieval dancing plague was the shamanic dance of a crisis cult.11

The ancient spiritual practice of shamanism involves the practitioner entering trance states and traversing the spirit realm, from the heavenly heights of the gods to the Underworld of the dead, in order to bring back knowledge and healing wisdom to the benefit of their community. Although the word “shaman” originated in Siberia, Johnson claims that shamanic practices are the spiritual foundation upon which many world religions were built.

In “Part 1: Otherworlds,” Johnson explores the shamanic view of the cosmos.

“According to the cosmovision of the shaman, the North Star is the axis around which all things revolve,” Johnson says.12 “When shamans depart upon their spirit journeys, they often take the road to the North Star.”13

According to the Buryat people of Siberia, the sky is a great tent punctured with stars, and the North Star is the central pole which holds up the heavens. The stars themselves are a herd of galloping horses tethered to the polestar. In various cultures, the axis mundi, or world axis, is envisioned as the central pillar of the cosmos, embodied in the World Mountain, the World Tree, or even the Maypole. Using this axis, the shaman can navigate the three realms of Heaven, Earth, and Underworld. When depicted as a tree, the branches are imagined to reach up to the abode of the Sky Father, and the souls of unborn children roost in the boughs, as well as an eagle, the primary totem of shamans, and the “Bird of Prey Mother,” who lays the eggs from which shamans are born. The roots of the tree burrow deep into the Underworld, where a great serpent dwells.

Through comparative mythology, Johnson provides compelling evidence of similar shamanic beliefs throughout the world, citing examples of several World Trees, such as Yggdrasil, the World Tree of the Vikings; the great ceiba tree of the Mayans, which grew from the back of a crocodile; the Kabbalistic Tree of Life; and the Underworld cypress tree of the Orphic mysteries. The World Tree even appears in the witch trial of Joan of Arc (1412-1431), as she was accused of dancing around a “fairy tree”14 when she was a child, suggesting the survival of ancient shamanic practices in early fifteenth century Europe.

Variations of the World Mountain also appear in many cultures, from megalithic monuments, volcanoes, and Mayan pyramids to the abode of the Greek gods on Mt. Olympus. In the witch trials, the World Mountain appears as the home of the witch goddess. In the early 1500s, an Italian peasant accused of witchcraft named Zuan delle Piatte confessed that Venus had whisked him away to the Sabbath upon black horses, and he had visited Herodias in the mount of Venus. In 1630, a German witch confessed to traveling in spirit to visit the goddess Holda in a mountain called the Venusberg.

“All our images of the Goddess in the Mountain or Tree are ultimately metaphors for the kundalini or ‘serpent power,’ a feminine energy both sexual and spiritual that has its origins at the base of the spine and, during spiritual practice, travels up our own internal World Tree or Mountain to the crown of the head—at which point we experience enlightenment,” Johnson says.15

Just as the shaman’s tent is mobile, so is the center of the universe. The moveable axis mundi, or World Tree, corresponds to the upright spinal column unique to human bipedalism. The skull, which is the spirit house of human consciousness, is elevated to the heavens, and the earth goddess or Fairy Queen slumbering at the base of the spine is the kundalini serpent.16

According to Buryat mythology, the first shaman was born from the union of an eagle and a human woman, “which, symbolically, tells us that shamanism is ‘born’ from the union of the enlightened consciousness which dwells at the top of our own internal World Tree with the feminine potency that sleeps at its base.” 17

“Though one may be born to a shamanic vocation, one attains power and mastery only through initiation,”18 Johnson says. Shamanic initiation may manifest as being called by spirit voices and having a vision of death and dismemberment, followed by a rebirth experienced during a physical illness or a bout of madness, which we would perceive in modern times as a psychotic break. In European mythology, the Norse god Odin is the most obvious shamanic figure, as he was wounded by a spear and sacrificed himself to himself on the World Tree. There are also Welsh legends of Merlin in which he was once a warrior who went mad and lived in the woods like a wild animal after a traumatic experience on the battlefield. The Orphic myth of the death and dismemberment of the Greek god Dionysus is another striking example of shamanic initiation. As a child, the Titans murdered him and cooked him in a cauldron, which echoes the inquisitors’ grotesque fantasies of witches have cannibalistic feasts, involving the boiling of unbaptized babies in cauldrons and the use of their fat in flying ointments. 

“The Old Bone Goddess,”19 with her cauldron of death and rebirth, is the one who resurrects the shaman. She is the “Bird of Prey Mother”20 of the Siberian Yakut shamans. When the shaman’s magical powers have ripened and are ready to be activated through initiation, she dismembers him and feeds his body parts to demons. Then she reassembles his bones and resuscitates him.

I wonder if modern society’s disassociation from traditional shamanic practices can cause such initiations to manifest through traumatic life experiences, rather than just dream visions. After I performed a formal self-initiation ritual, I had initiatory dreams and visions, but my waking life also catastrophically fell apart, and it coincided with my Saturn Return. I lost everything, from material possessions to family members, and experienced frequent psychic attacks by a shadowy demonic entity that appeared to be attached to an abusive boyfriend. When it finally withdrew, several months after I escaped that toxic relationship, I heard it tell me that it was sorry for what it had put me through, and I never felt its presence again. It wasn’t until I read this book that I realized that the ordeals I experienced were part of an initiatory dismemberment and I came to terms with the fact that the Dark Mother to whom I was devoted had allowed those horrors to happen to me as part of the process.

Wicca, with its sugar-coated love and light Mother Goddess, did not adequately prepare me for the brutality of my shamanic witchcraft initiation, and reading the previous edition of this book, North Star Road, revealed the harsh truths of my spiritual path. I share what happened to me as a cautionary tale, because I initiated myself not fully understanding what I was getting myself into. I thought I was adequately prepared after studying Wicca for over a decade, rather than the customary year and a day, but the witch’s path is riddled with rose thorns, and true wisdom comes through suffering.

Witchcraft and the Shamanic Journey fills in the gaps of knowledge that are missing in mainstream pop culture witchcraft. Johnson elucidates how ancient shamanic practices infuse the folkloric witchcraft of medieval and Renaissance Europe, and are the backbone of witchcraft today. This is an essential text for any serious practitioner who has been called by the spirits and seeks to reclaim their shamanic roots.

Celtic Cauldron, by Nicola McIntosh

Celtic Cauldron: Rituals for Self-Care and Manifestation, by Nicola McIntosh
Rockpool Publishing, 1922785709, 288 pages, May 2024

The images of conjuring done with a cauldron is a well-known magical image. This is most likely because the cauldron is one of the most versatile magic tools, taking all sorts of shapes and sizes throughout history. From teas to stews, anointing oils to potions, there’s all sorts of creations that a cauldron can bring to life. Celtic Cauldron: Rituals for Self-Care and Manifestation by Nicola McIntosh is a beautiful guide to the many possibilities the cauldron holds, teaching readers how to use their cauldron for spells, healing, divination, and more.

McIntosh blends her wisdom as a Western and Chinese herbalist and Celtic shaman together in this book, providing plenty of nature-based methods for manifestation using the cauldron. Her previous publications include Plant Spirit Medicine, Celtic Spirit Oracle, Mushroom Spirit Oracle, Apothecary Flashcards, and Crystal Grids. She dedicates her time to sharing her knowledge to help others look within, raise consciousness, and tend to themselves and the environment with care. Much of her work is centered on connecting to nature, and this book is a lovely example of how the natural and magical world can support you.

The book itself is absolutely collection-worthy. The cover is a soft fabric, and the sturdy binding makes it easy to flip through the pages and open them fully without harming the spine. All throughout the inside,  McIntosh infuses the pages with her artwork and photographs, which is a real bonus as a visual aid to the recipes and directions provided. There’s a real earthy feel to the book, and as soon as it is opened, the natural magic begins to whirl around energetically.

“The cauldron is said to contain the Awen or be the cup of Awen, or the Cauldron of Inspiration. The Welsh word ‘Owen’ means ‘inspiration’ or ‘essence’ and is the inspiration of poets and creative artists.”1

McIntosh begins with a history of cauldrons, sharing famous cauldrons both real and mythological. For instance, there’s the Gundestrup Cauldron “that dates back to approximately the 2nd or 1st century BCE.”2. Then there’s also the mythological cauldrons of Cerridwen and Magda.

Once the history is explored, McIntosh moves into the modern applications of cauldrons, specifically from the Celtic and Druid traditions. She covers how to select and care for your cauldron, with plenty of pictures for inspiration, suggesting one spiritually prepare for their new cauldron by creating space for it on your altar and perhaps even a ritual. I was pleasantly surprised by McIntosh’s practicality, as she notes that a simple tempered-glass product, like a Pyrex measuring cup can work as a cauldron.

Then, before delving into all the magical possibilities for one’s cauldron, McIntosh spends an entire chapter on the importance of ritual. She suggests making self-care a ritual, and offers ways to ritualize your intention, including creating an altar, journaling, and working with plants and crystals. She writes:

“Rituals can literally change anything within your life. When we turn our attention inwards, we make big changes in our external environment because we attract what we are. This is the key to manifestation: We must be in alignment with what we wish to draw into our life.”3

The rest of the book is just tons and tons of amazing recipes for all types of cauldron creations. “Plant Magick” is a chapter covering brews, simmers, essence, lotions, and potions.  There’s recipes for fortune telling, inspiration, love, cleansing, and more. My favorite are Dandelion Joy Lattes (dandelion root coffee with milk and honey/maple syrup) and strength potion, which is “excellent for times when you feel vulnerable or run down or need inner strength to face something.’4

The next chapter, “Anointing Oils, Salves, and Melts” covers infused oils and homemade salves for all types of intentions (meditation and calmness, visionary and divination, protection, cleansing and clarity). The melts are lovely too because you can burn them in your cauldron after you make them in your cauldron—things coming full circle! Many of these involve certain spices, herbs, and essential oils, all of which McIntosh covers in detail. Once again, her understanding that not all readers will have access to all ingredients comes through, showcasing her desire to be inclusive in sharing her knowledge with all.

“Fire Magick” focuses on candles and incense. As mentioned before, there’s ton of pictures, which I found especially helpful for this section. I loved the idea of making a small cauldron into a candle that can be infused with herbs and crystals to add to one’s spellwork. I also loved McIntosh’s directions for making a mullein, or hag torch. For those interested in making their own incense blends, McIntosh provides wonderful step-by-step instructions with plenty of visual aids, along with ways you substitute ingredients if needed.

As a kitchen witch, my absolute favorite chapter was “Magical Meals”. For my birthday recently, my husband and I went to the Melting Pot where we did a bit of three-course cauldron magic. This experience was what inspired me to learn more about using the cauldron in my own craft. And in perfect alignment, McIntosh dedicates a whole section to chocolate cauldrons! Absolutely delicious. The recipes include Chocolate Love Bombs, Chocolate Knowledge Bites, and Chocolate Fondue that can be used as a base for one’s own chocolate crafts. In this chapter, McIntosh also teaches how to use the cauldron to make damper scones, rosemary and salt bread, cinnamon and sultana bread, stew, and mulled wine.

The final chapter “Miscellaneous Magick” covers spell bottles, spirit bottles, medicinal pouches, salts (ritual salts, bathing salts, etc.), and scrying. I definitely plan to make the Refresh Bath Salts, which combines basil, eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree.

One of the best parts of this book is the immensely helpful appendices at the end. There’s an herbal reference table that spans nearly 35 pages that covers the associate element, planet, polarity, edibility, spiritual use, medicinal use, cauldron use, and caution for hundreds of plants and herbs. It’s astounding how much information is shared in these pages, and it’s a true marvelous resource. There’s also an appendix on crystals, offering insight into the chakra, color, and element of the crystals. The final appendix is the Ogham tree alphabet.

All in all, Celtic Cauldron is perfect for those looking to incorporate a cauldron into their magical practice. McIntosh provides so many ways one can utilize their cauldron magically, from candles to culinary treats. The quality of this book makes it worth the investment, and readers are sure to turn to it again and again when crafting their next ritual. Those new to working with a cauldron will appreciate all of McIntosh’s advice for getting started, while seasoned practitioners will love the informative tables and recipes that make it quick to decide on ingredients for manifesting their intentions.

The Witch’s Way to Wealth, by Jessie DaSilva

The Witch’s Way to Wealth: The Every Witch’s Guide to Making More Money—Faster & Easier Than Ever!, by Jessie DaSilva
Sourcebooks, 1728271762, 448 pages, September 2023

Let’s be honest, these days most of us could you a bit of money mojo. In fact, this is what got me searching the web for a book about improving my personal finances. Thank goodness for the algorithm that knew me well enough to suggest a magical way to do this—The Witch’s Way to Wealth by Jessie DaSilva. Nicknamed The Millennial Money Witch by Forbes, DaSilva is the perfect guide for this journey with her authenticity and honesty paving the way for manifestations to happen in your life too.

“What I’m teaching yo is every aspect of manifesting money with magic—explained with quantum physics, neuroscience, psychology, religion, personal finance, and more.”1

DaSilva beings laying the foundation for this book focusing on the nature of money and sharing the basics of manifestation. Through her antidotes, readers begin to see money as infinite and renewable rather than a scarce resource in limited quantity. She also hones in why manifesting money is different than manifesting other things in life, and she teachers readers how to hone in on what they actually want. She acknowledges the different levels people might be at from never having manifested money to having done it a few times with success and helps to navigate the pitfalls of where you’re at in your journey. She even covers the epigenetic of money beliefs, stemming back to our ancestors and how to overcome these in our genes. And most helpful are her very specific instructions to follow, though one does need to actually do the work to succeed.

But what stands out about this book is that DaSilva doesn’t expect your manifestations to work instantly. She is so open about her own journey, the ups and downs from which she’s gained her wisdom, that she more than anyone knows how things can fall apart. Your manifestations will not always work, and there’s another layer to uncover to figure out what’s going on. And this is what makes DaSilva such a good guide. She’s not writing this book with the assumption that everything will work out perfectly, you’ll hardly have to try, and instantly you’ll be rich.

There’s plenty of work that goes into figuring out the right alignment for yourself. And she encourages readers to actually figure their shit out, so to speak, in order to get in the right frame of mind. For instance, one exercise had to do with looking at our first beliefs about money as children and then again examining our beliefs about money as adolescents. It was interesting to think about what my teenage self felt about money, and how that energy was still contributing to my financial situation now.

Even more fun was doing the interview with my parents recommended by DaSilva with my parents about the financial circumstances I was born into, as she notes that our feelings parent’s about money as we entered this world can impact our money beliefs too. I was quite surprised to learn that they both agreed there was not much money coming in and they ended up living with my mom’s parents for a little bit as my dad get his career going. Well, can you believe 30 years later I find myself in a very similar predicament? If I hadn’t chosen to do this wealth-work and find out about these circumstances, I would never have realized I am unintentionally re-creating a familiar family pattern.

There’s so many ideas in the book, from exercise to shellwork, that readers can piece together their own plan of action. And this is another aspect that I love about this book. DaSilva is not trying to create a one-size-fits-all approach to manifestation, rather she’s providing tools one can use to tailor their own practice. Here’s an excerpt that perfectly captures her methodology and hysterical say-it-like-it-is way of speaking with readers:

“The issue with plans—whether they’re for your finances, diet, exercise, mindset, whatever—is that they cater to a common denominator. It’s about teaching what will work for the most people possible, not everyone. That’s not necessarily what will work for you as an individual…That’s why I’m explaining how you can create your own plan. If you know how to wot build an action plan for yourself, (a) you can feel empowered because you won’t need to rely on someone else’s judgement, and (b) my email won’t get clogged with bitchy witches complaining that my spells don’t work. It’s truly a win-win approach.”2

Another really neat aspect of this book that I appreciated is how DaSilva spends an entire section on teaching readers how to keep the money they manifest. Maybe you’ve met people who alway seem to get lucky and acquire the money they need, yet they continue to have it fly right by out the door with an unexpected bill. As important as bringing money into our lives can be, to truly build wealth, we need to learn to maintain our money once we have it. This is an aspect of money manifestation that I haven’t seen talked about much in other books, let alone have multiple chapters dedicated to focusing on. From overcoming shame to strengthening our nervous system, DaSilva provides practical ways that we can begin to keep the hard earned money, no wait scratch that, easily manifested money we make, once we do the inner work to generate it.

The final section of the book focuses on leveling up one’s money game. And if I’m being honest, I’m not there yet! I’ve been reading this book for months now, actually doing the recommended exercises, reflections, and actions to make a difference. I’m still in the process of mastering my manifestation game, so I haven’t wanted to rush into the final section before I’m ready. But I feel confident that once I get there, DaSilva will continue to provide her wisdom about how to take things to the next level, and in that moment, the next steps will be unlocked.

If you’re ready to turn your magical prowess to manifesting money, The Witch’s Way to Wealth is a must-have resource. Her candid portrayal of the journey of manifestation is so magical yet so real, a living example of how magic is part of our reality and something we can tap into to bring wealth into our life. This has been by far the best book I’ve ever read on manifestation, as it aligns with practices I’ve tried myself and doing the exercises in the book has made a significant differences for my money mindset.

Witchcraft on a Shoestring, by Deborah Blake

Witchcraft on a Shoestring: Practicing the Craft Without Breaking Your Budget, by Deborah Blake
Crossed Crow Books,1959883194, 180 pages, March 2024

Calling all thrifty witches, Deborah Blake has some great ideas in Witchcraft on a Shoestring: Practicing the Craft Without Breaking Your Budget. It’s easy to feel like we “need” to have all the things for our magical practice to be a success–statues, crystals, wands, attire, essential oils, tarot cards, and more–but this can quickly take a toll on one’s finances. I for one have found myself wanting to do a wealth spell, only to get carried away with acquiring what I thought I needed to make it a success, forgetting in the process of gathering my supplies the intention I was working towards. In this book, Blake reminds us what’s most important in our magical practices and covers the ins-and-outs of how to pursue our craft without going overboard on unnecessary expenses.

“No matter what your budget or how you decide to spend your money, there are no limitation on how well you can practice Witchcraft besides the ones you put on yourself.

You can be a powerful, talented, wise, and warm Witch without spending a penny. And you should never feel that a lack of money is an excuse for being anything less.”1

Blake’s resourcefulness comes through in each chapter. While she assures readers to practice witchcraft one only needs are belief, will, and focus, she also goes in-depth providing ways to lower costs for all the aspects of the craft that can add up to cost money. She starts generally with knowledge, providing ways one can learn more about their spiritual pursuits through books, internet, and local in-person resources, such as events and festivals. What’s extremely helpful for readers is Blake’s own personal recommendation for books on common witchcraft topics (herbs, gemstones, gods and goddesses, sabbats, etc.).

From here, she moves on to the home and sacred space. She offers suggestions for making an affordable altar and how to resource items like statues, candles, and chalices, and more without breaking the bank. She also shares tips for gardening and tending to one’s yard. There’s an entire chapter on inexpensive substitutions that can be made for items commonly used, such as firepits, quarter candles, cauldrons, and witchy garb and jewlery. There’s even specific sites listed that sell reasonably priced items, so you can add these as go-to sources if you are looking to purchase something rather than thrift it or craft it yourself.

For those who do enjoy crafting, the chapter “The Crafty Witch: Thirty-Five Simple and Thrifty Craft Projects for Magical Purposes” is such inspiration. I like to craft my own things because I feel it infuses them with my own energy, and I couldn’t be more excited to do some of the projects Blake suggests! She divides the recipes by material used, which is very useful for those who are partial to a specific medium. For instance under the Clay section, there’s directions for crafting one’s own god and goddess figurines, rune stones, and pentacle plaque, while the Fabric section has directions for a poppet, sachets, and charms. Just to share some more, the Paper section has a spell for parchment paper, creating your own herbal paper, decorating a book of shadows, and DIY tarot cards. There’s tons and tons of ideas for projects one can do using common household items, enhancing their craft without splurging.

My favorite chapter was “Feeding the Masses: Forty-Five Feast Dishes for Less” where Blake shares options for cost-efficient ingredient sourcing to make recipes for each sabbat. She even uses dollar signs ($) to denote the level of expense for each dish. Here are some of the delectable recipes: Tres Leches Pie for Imbolc, Goat Cheese Herbed Spread for Ostara, Strawberry Paradise Cake for Beltane, Yin-Yang Bean Spread for Litha, Morgana’s Tomato Pie for Lammas, Baked Apple Surprise for Mabon, Samhain Devil’s Food Cake, and Rum Cake for Yule. As someone who is ALWAYS looking for new recipes to celebrate with and share with my family and friends, you can bet I’ll be coming back to this book again and again. There’s also recipes for Full Moon Cakes and Ale. What I like about the recipes is that they’re tried and tested by Blake and people in her life; I always trust a hand-me-down recipe!

Blake concludes the book with a chapter on ways one can practice their craft for absolutely free, ranging from kissing and invoking a love god/goddess to volunteering in the spirit of service. These suggestions are little reminders that it’s how we choose to live our life that ultimately shapes our craft, rather than the material possession we buy.

All in all, Witchcraft on a Shoestring is a really fun read for those looking to do more for less. Blake is a wealth of knowledge and her suggestions are sure to help you save a bit of cash whale being reminded what is most important about your practice: your intentions and belief. I’m really looking forward to using this book to get crafty this spring and to bake around the wheel of the year with all the recipes she shares!

For those interested in other works by Blake, she is a prolific writer! Other related book include The Electic Witch’s Book of Shadows, The Little Book of Cat Magic, A Year and a Day of Everyday Witchcraft, The Goddess Is In The Details, and more. She also has published her own tarot and tarot decks:  Everyday Witch’s Familiars Oracle, Everyday Witch Tarot, and Everyday Witch Oracle. But what surprised me the most was she’s also a fiction writer too. Some of her series include A Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery series (three books), Baba Yaga series (three books), and Broken Rider series (three books). You can learn more about her at her website.

Entering Hekate’s Cave, by Cyndi Brannen, Ph.D.

Entering Hekate’s Cave: The Journey Through Darkness to Wholeness, by Cyndi Brannen, Ph.D.
Weiser Books, 1578637910, 256 pages, January 2023

From the artificial lights in our homes to the hypnotic glares of our televisions and smartphones, all the bright, glowing baubles of consumerism keep us overstimulated and distracted, diverting our attention away from the true healing power of closing our eyes, turning within, and facing our inner darkness. Even for those of us who are avidly seeking enlightenment, the false teachings of “love and light” spirituality can be perilous, reinforcing our collective denial of the shadow. When we focus on “positive vibes only,” we are operating from a place of fear, because we have become afraid that we will manifest our fears if we acknowledge them. The truth is that turning a blind eye to our darkness only further disempowers us, because the buried shadow content of our psyches has a magnetic quality, and we are more likely to manifest the things we don’t want in our lives if we continue to repress and deny them. 

In Entering Hekate’s Cave: The Journey Through Darkness to Wholeness, author and Hekatean witch Cyndi Brannen, Ph.D., is a psychopomp and healer, wielding her shamanic training and extensive experience as a professional psychologist like a blazing torch that guides readers through the labyrinthine tunnels of the Underworld to find the goddess within.

“Only by healing the shadow will we ever become whole,” Dr. Brannen says. “That is work accomplished in Hekate’s cave,”1 which is “a place of sacred darkness, a place where we awaken to our own souls.”2

Dr. Brannen is a leading authority on contemporary Hekatean witchcraft, and her previous works include Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction to Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft (2019) and Entering Hekate’s Garden: The Magick, Medicine & Mystery of Plant Spirit Witchcraft (2020). She also founded the Covina Institute, a Mystery School and Coven of Hekate, in which she is the executive director and lead instructor.

“Our journey is that of Persephone,” Dr. Brannen says, and “the journey of the cave is one of self-acceptance.”3 This resonated to my core because, when I first initiated myself, I devoted myself to Persephone, but it was Hekate who appeared to me in dreams, and in the first initiatory dream, she named me Persephone. I was already living my own unique version of Persephone’s myth in waking life, and through self-initiation, I was consciously acknowledging my archetypal identification with her. 

Based on my personal experiences and what Dr. Brannen writes, I believe that Persephone is the archetype of the witch who is initiated by Hekate and called into her service. Like Persephone, the witch has the shamanistic ability to move between the realms of the living and the dead, and communicate with spirits. She becomes queen of the liminal spaces, like Hekate.

There are fifteen chapters in this book, each one bearing an epithet of Hekate, accompanied by a unique sigil. I love working with her plethora of names because it’s like having a whole pantheon of Hekatean spirits who are each unique emanations of her multifaceted energetic current. The World Soul that is Hekate fragments like moonlight passing through a prism, bending into a rainbow of vibrant deific masks.

Dr. Brannen recommends gemstones for working with each epithet, such as “fluorite for learning and expanding awareness”4 when connecting with Hekate Triformis, the triple goddess of transformation. She also enlists one of my favorite stones, amethyst, “for awakening the soul,” “encouraging meditation,”5 and connecting with Drakaina, the ancient dragoness, or snake goddess, who “teaches us that we can shed our false skin.”6 I plan on focusing on the Drakaina epithet this year, since 2024 is the Year of the Dragon in Chinese astrology.

I have always felt an affinity with stones, and I have been fond of collecting them since childhood, but it had been a while since I meditated with them, so this was a great reminder to reincorporate them into my daily spiritual practice. I have a heart-shaped green and purple rainbow fluorite that I decided to use to connect with Hekate Triformis. In numerology, my life path number is three, and I deeply resonate with the imagery of the triple goddess. The sigil also spoke to me, and came alive, like an opening eye, as I gazed upon it.

Working with Triformis, I imagined a trio of voices, saying, “We are Hekate.” This triple-voiced Hekate reminds me to think of myself as my past, present, and future selves, and what it feels like to be all three at once, living in the present moment. Through this conscious alignment, I am a multidimensional being, present in all three realms at once, seeing my past, present, and future simultaneously. The fluorite amplified my self-awareness and surprised me with memory flashbacks. I am going to continue working with fluorite to connect with Triformis and enhance my clairvoyance.

The stones are powerful allies on Persephone’s journey, because Entering Hekate’s Cave initiates a heart-wrenching Underworld descent. Maybe it’s the sigils, or the magical power of the epithets themselves, but just reading this book is shadow work, and it triggered cathartic emotional reactions within me.

“This book is also part memoir,” Dr. Brannen says, “recounting my own journey through a difficult upbringing, sexual trauma, addiction, disease, and more.”7

Brannen’s raw vulnerability and transparency is part of the healing magic. By being open and confiding with her audience, she creates a safe space for readers to do the same, and I felt prompted to journal about my own experiences. The goddess Hekate walks through fire with us. She knows our darkest secrets and feels our hidden pain. 

I read this book during Mercury retrograde in Capricorn, which, in my natal chart, is the Underworld of my 8th House, and it was an intense experience. The most poignant insight I had was that I still suffer from a childhood abandonment wound that I never fully processed because I didn’t give myself permission to grieve.

When I was eleven years old, my mother left me and my father for a man ten years her junior. I’m now almost 40 years old, and in the dark womb of Hekate’s cave, I realized that I still haven’t healed from this wound because I have refused to acknowledge it. When my mother left, I was glad she was gone. My dad and I decided we were “better off,” and he acted like he was celebrating. He stumbled through life drunk, partying and blasting music. Both of us were in denial about how painful the abandonment had been. Soon after, he moved another woman into our house and proposed to her, but they didn’t stay together long because she couldn’t tolerate his alcoholism. That was left for me to deal with alone.

I was supposed to embrace the narrative of being better off, and side with my alcoholic father (it was us against her). Yet on some level, he probably resented me for looking like her, and he was abandoning me too. He was never present because of his addiction, and through his example, I learned to escape my own problems through alcohol. I never grieved when my mother left, because acknowledging how deeply it hurt would have conflicted with the affirmation that I was “better off without her.” I now realize that, as an adult, this abandonment wound has had a long-term negative impact on my self-esteem, my romantic relationships, and my attachment style.

Societal conditioning doesn’t permit us to properly grieve and process our wounds. We are discouraged from dwelling on our pain and validating our emotions by experiencing them. We are taught to bury our pain and pretend to let things go, to forgive and forget. The very thing we need to do to heal, we are denied, because of our own shame for being wounded, and because seeing our pain inconveniences others.

Up until she left, my mother had indoctrinated me with Christian values. I was taught to love my parents unconditionally, to turn the other cheek when people wronged me, and forgive them for their trespasses. If I showed any sign of anger or defiance, she condemned me for being resentful, and told me that I should forgive her, for my own sake. But it was really for hers.

In Chapter 9, Dr. Brannen illuminates the cathartic powers of Borborophorba, an epithet that comes from the Greek Magical Papyri and means “Filth Eater.”8 This is one of my favorite epithets because it reminds me of earthworms, the tiny chthonic serpents that eat decaying organic matter and animal waste and transform it into nutrient-rich soil. “The Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl also ate the waste of humans, then defecated it as flowers, symbolizing the transformative power of the goddess to turn filth into gold,”9 Dr. Brannen says. Borborophorba assists us in the process of eliminating the spiritual toxins that burden us and finding the hidden treasures buried within them.

In the myth of Persephone’s abduction, picking a narcissus flower initiated her kidnapping and Underworld descent. “Narcissism is yet another pitfall for some Persephone women,”10 Brannen writes. Both the personality disorder of narcissism and the flower were named after Narcissus, “who was fated to stare longingly at his own reflection but never see his own interior depths.”11 Women who embody the Persephone archetype often worry over their image and have people-pleasing tendencies, because they want to be liked and their sense of self is based on what others think of them. They may also be more vulnerable to narcissistic abuse. 

I grew up with a poor sense of boundaries due to the toxic enmeshment of my narcissistic mother. When I was little, I was sheltered and overprotected by her, so the abandonment was a relief in the sense that it gave me the breathing room I needed in order to individuate. Being abandoned by my mortal mother was also a blessing in disguise because it led me to my divine mother, Hekate, the goddess of witches. Up until that point, my strict Christian upbringing had been stifling, and in her absence, I was free to explore other spiritual paths. Ironically, after my mother left, she decided she was a witch too, and stole the thunder of my spiritual rebellion, but it was only a passing phase for her, and she ended up returning to monotheism.

When I was a teenager, my mother used to tell me how funny it was that I’m a Gemini, because “we’re just like twin sisters!” (I have a Gemini Sun and Moon and she is a Scorpio Sun with a Gemini Moon). She told me we looked alike, and that our lives mirrored each other’s. Since she saw me as her “twin sister” and best friend, she confided in me about all of her problems and traumatic experiences, and the combination of over-identification and trauma-dumping created a toxic empathic bond, which Dr. Brannen identifies as “secondary traumatic stress.”12

Now I realize that she was a narcissist who saw me as an extension of herself, and she didn’t want me to have a separate identity of my own. If I got angry at her for her behavior, she would gaslight me and say that I was the one doing whatever it was that she was doing. This confused me and conditioned me to question my perception of reality, to blame myself for any problems I encountered in relationships, and to tolerate boundary violations made by romantic partners. 

My mother abandoned me and my father to be with her “true love” because she was a selfish narcissist. Even when she was around, she wasn’t present, mentally or emotionally. When I reached adulthood, she continued to abandon me by obsessing over that “true love” who in turn had cheated on her and abandoned her. Throughout my life, we went through cycles of her smothering and abandoning me, which gave me an anxious-avoidant attachment style.

Shadow work involves deep soul searching and self-reflection, which is sometimes shamed in our society as narcissistic navel-gazing, but this is a healthy form of narcissism that dives deep into the well of the soul, bringing us into alignment with our true selves.

The irony of narcissistic abuse is that the narcissist manipulates their victim into believing that they are the selfish one. Any attempt made by the victim to break free and assert their independence is perceived as narcissistic by the narcissist. Persephone’s narcissism is actually a natural part of her individuation process and represents her quest for personal autonomy. The narcissus flower symbolizes her blossoming self-awareness, but because her identity is still so wrapped up in her mother’s, it becomes an Underworld journey expressed through her forced marriage. It’s like she traded one narcissist for another. Or at least, that’s how it manifested in my life, because I found myself in relationships with narcissistic, abusive partners who reminded me of my mother.

Chapter 7, titled “Chthonia: The Descent,”13 focuses on protecting your boundaries and honoring the sacredness of your personal space. This chapter was the most triggering for me because of my personal struggles. I grew up with a poor sense of boundaries as a result of the toxic enmeshment of my narcissistic mother, as well as bullying I experienced at school, and the cumulative abuse groomed me for intimate partner violence. 

While reading this chapter, I felt a lot of repressed rage surfacing as I reflected on the multiple instances of betrayal, abuse, and trauma I have experienced throughout my life. I felt enraged by the initial bullying and abuse that crippled my sense of personal boundaries and made me vulnerable to repetitive boundary violations. I found myself yelling and cursing all the people who have disrespected me and violated my boundaries in the past (I was alone in my home at the time), and it was a primal scream, like the roar of triple-voiced Hekate. I felt an immense sense of cathartic relief afterwards.

Beneath all the rage is the heartbreak of giving someone unconditional love and forgiveness and being punished for it with repeated disrespect and gaslighting until you are forced to cut them off for good. The last time I saw my mother, which was a few years ago, I had a vision of her as a zombie, grabbing me by the ankle and trying to drag me down to hell with her. That’s when I knew I had to make a choice: it was either her or me. I’ve been catering to her emotional needs and ignoring my own for most of my life. I felt toxic levels of empathy for her personal pain and traumas while neglecting my own. It’s time to choose me.

“As you move deeper into Hekate’s cave, your ability to discern between truly toxic people and those who are nourishing you amplifies,” Brannen says. “This may result in a cutting away of relationships with those who offer nothing but a steady diet of toxicity.”14

I have realized that, deep down, I’m terrified that if I love myself, it will make me a narcissist. I’m scared people will think I’m selfish and mean, because any time I have tried to set boundaries or stand up for myself, I’ve been accused of that, or the person offending me lashed out in anger and I felt that my physical safety was threatened. I’ve always identified as an empath, and concerned myself with the feelings of others, while disregarding my own. I was selfless, meaning I had no sense of self, because other people’s feelings were more important. I always tried to be caring and considerate of others, and I too easily forgave people who mistreated or disrespected me. 

I was leading an inauthentic life. The harder I worked, the more impoverished I became. The more I tried to please people, the more they shamed and abused me. I reached a breaking point in 2019, and completely withdrew from society. I became a ghost, hiding in the shadows. I have been in Hekate’s cave ever since, feeling like I’ve completely lost my mind, despairing over my inability to function like a normal person, and only receiving the repeated message from my oracles that I need to heal. I hated myself for no longer being able to find a place in society. This passage revealed to me the reason why I’ve had such a lengthy stay in my personal Underworld: 

“In the tales of Persephone, there is little told of the time between her entry into the Underworld and her ascension. We can imagine that Hekate pulled her into the cave so that she could adapt to her calling. During this period, she transformed from the naïve maiden to the sovereign queen.”15

Like Persephone, I need to remove the societal mask I have outgrown and embrace my soul’s true essence. I need to shed the false skin of familial and societal expectations that were projected upon me so I can be my authentic self. Just as flowers return from the Underworld in the spring, I will be able to step back into the light when I am ready to blossom into the wholeness of my personal sovereignty. 

I can’t praise Entering Hekate’s Cave enough. This book came to me because I needed it. It also validated some of my personal revelations about the relationship between Persephone and Hekate, and blessed me with new insights as well. Dr. Brannen is a gifted healer and her work is a boon for all of those who have been called to serve Hekate and illuminate the darkness.

Sacramental Theurgy for Witches, by Frater Barrabbas

Sacramental Theurgy for Witches: Advanced Liturgy Revealed, by Frater Barrabbas
Crossed Crow Books, 1959883267, 250 pages, February 2024

In the Digital Age, witchcraft has become more popular and accessible to the public than ever before. Social media is a hot conduit for witches to spread information and personal gnosis through posts and video shorts, leading to the rise of practitioners who are sometimes referred to by the derogatory term “Tiktok witches,” because the quality and validity of this bite-sized content is often questionable. These days, it seems that witchcraft can be whatever a person who identifies as a witch believes it to be. A lot of witches, perhaps due to religious trauma from monotheism, are squeamish about applying the word religion to their craft, and many focus on self-deification, with a tendency to see spirits as archetypal forces they can activate within their psyches rather than as real, conscious entities with personal agendas of their own. If every person who identifies as a witch gets to make up their own definition of what witchcraft is, claim godhood by their own right, and discard the foundational teachings just for the sake of rebellion, then I feel there is a risk of clashing egos compromising the structural integrity of witchcraft as a spiritual path.

In this era of self-serving pop culture witchcraft, it’s refreshing to come across a book that both grounds readers with the religious roots of modern witchcraft and advances them to the next level. In Sacramental Theurgy for Witches: Advanced Liturgy Revealed, author Frater Barrabbas, who has over forty years of experience as a practicing ritual magician and is “an elder and lineage holder in the Alexandrian tradition of Witchcraft,”1 offers a solid foundation, taking readers back to basics while still leaving plenty of wiggle room for creativity, personal gnosis, and experimentation.

His lore blends the theurgical practices of pagan magicians and Neoplatonic philosophers with the magical rites of Catholicism, which feels deliciously blasphemous, and brings to mind the myth of witches attending Black Mass, even though no sacraments are stolen from the Church or defiled. Frater Barrabbas claims that he has “appropriated what is no longer sanctioned or used by the Catholic church,” such as the Tridentine Mass, “and resurrected and transformed them to the service of Witchcraft liturgy and magic.”2 He proposes “that Witches and Pagans can repurpose the tools and beliefs that were once an important part of the Catholic faith from a completely modern Pagan magical perspective.”3

I love Frater Barrabbas’s incorporation of Catholic elements because I see the vast pantheon of saints as thinly veiled paganism, and I occasionally work with saints that I believe were originally pagan deities appropriated by the Church. I also take mischievous delight in rewording phrases from Christian prayers in blasphemous ways. For example, I might bless a ritual implement on my altar with the menstrual blood of Lilith instead of the blood of Jesus. I feel that a little bit of inversion and blasphemy in one’s witchcraft can be a wonderful way to break the chains of traumatic religious programming from childhood.

I was raised by a charismatic Christian, and have found that incorporating Judeo-Christian elements into my practice has helped heal my own religious trauma. By disowning monotheism, it became a part of my shadow self, so to deny that aspect of my spiritual heritage did not bring me to a place of wholeness. Initially, I wanted nothing to do with anything even remotely Christian and focused only on working with pagan spirits. But over the years (and it has taken many years of conscious effort to work through my religious trauma), I have gradually welcomed a few angels, saints, and even the Devil into my practice.

I was initially drawn to Sacramental Theurgy for Witches because I prefer a traditional approach to witchcraft. While I don’t strictly follow any specific tradition, my current practice is more strongly influenced by Robert Cochrane’s Traditional Witchcraft than Gardnerian or Alexandrian Wicca, and I love that Frater Barrabbas incorporates the use of traditional ritual tools, such as the besom of spirit flight and the stang, a forked staff that is iron-shod like a steed for Otherworld travels, which is an implement derived specifically from Cochrane’s craft.

Theurgy is a crucial element of this book, which Frater Barrabbas defines as “a magical operation that induces the Deity to perform a paranormal operation to benefit an individual or a group or to refrain or block an occurrence that would cause harm.”4

“Witchcraft Theurgy consists of two distinct categories,” Frater Barrabbas says, which are “sacramental magic and magical Mystery rites,” and the book is divided into two parts to cover these practices.5

Sacramental magic encompasses workings that bring the witch into union with a chosen deity, such as rites of transubstantiation, statue animation, and godhead personification. Magical mystery rites align the witch with the cycles of nature through the observation of lunar phases and seasonal rituals. In the chapter on “Lunar Mystery and Moon Magic,”6 I appreciate that Frater Barrabbas emphasizes the uniqueness of each Full Moon from an astrological perspective. There is also a chapter on establishing a sacred grove outside, if one is blessed with a private outdoor space that can be dedicated to the gods. The theme of honoring divinity made manifest in nature is complemented by beautiful illustrations, many of which depict the various guises of the Horned God as naked men with horned animal heads.

Frater Barrabbas analyzes the theurgic practice of godhead assumption in witchcraft, in which a priestess or priest becomes a vessel, or medium, for a deity. The most well-known example of this practice is the classic rite of Drawing Down the Moon. One of the potential risks of godhead assumption is ego inflation, in which the vessel over-identifies with the deity beyond the scope of the rite, and Frater Barrabbas suggests that this can be prevented by working with a specific deity with a very distinct personality rather than being vague and calling upon an amorphous archetypal figure. He refers to the vessel as a medium, emphasizing the fact that they are channeling a specific spirit, not an aspect of themselves. I appreciate him addressing this hazard of divine possession because I’ve noticed there is a tendency to obsess over personal power and self-deification in the occult community, which I consider to be dangerously delusional. I have the traditional perspective that a witch’s power comes from spirit allies, not the ego. I feel like this attitude keeps me grounded and protects my sanity.

In one’s personal practice, godhead assumption can be used to work magic by channeling the power of the deity through oneself. For example, when the witch temporarily becomes the embodiment of a deity during a ritual, they become a mouthpiece for that deity, granting the witch greater authority, because it is not the witch speaking the spells, but the higher power of the channeled deity speaking through them. In Chapter Six, titled “Art and Ordeal of Deity Personification,” Frater Barrabbas instructs the reader on how to proceed with the “Witch’s Ordeal of Godhead Union.”7 Godhead assumption requires intense dedication and an intimate relationship with a specific deity. The devotional practices of sacramental theurgy create alchemical transformations within the witch that lead to “union with the One,”8 a choice of words reminiscent of the language people use when talking about coming into union with their true love, soul mate, twin flame, or whatever term of endearment they have for their ideal romantic partner.

“This ordeal is a magical love spell that you are going to cast on your God, and it will powerfully affect both you and your deity,”9 Frater Barrabbas says.

Self-love is an important part of this process. Just as one would take good care of themselves to attract a mate, the witch is instructed to become an object of desire for their deity by bathing often and beautifying themselves with fine clothes, jewelry, makeup, and sweet perfumes.
I love this approach to godhead assumption because I’m fascinated with the biblical story of the Watchers descending from heaven and mating with mortal women, which can be interpreted as symbolizing the Holy Guardian Angel uniting with the witch as a divine lover. This also brings to mind the ancient concept of having a God Spouse, in which a priest or priestess becomes symbolically wedded to the god they serve. One of my favorite examples of this comes from Greek mythology, in which the Cretan princess Ariadne, the Lady of the Labyrinth and half-sister of the Minotaur, marries the bull-headed god Dionysos. After helping the hero Theseus slay the Minotaur, Ariadne flees Crete with him, but he abandons her on the island of Naxos, where she is rescued by the god Dionysos and made immortal through her union with him.

I personally believe that the New Age concept of going on a Twin Flame journey, which entails seeking union with one’s Divine Masculine or Divine Feminine counterpart embodied in an unavailable human partner, is a corruption of the idea of a God Spouse. Before Ariadne married Dionysos, she was heartbroken and left deserted on an island by the hero Theseus, and heartbreak can be a major catalyst for inner transformation and seeking a higher love with a divine counterpart.

Frater Barrabbas explores the possibility of “a sexual encounter with an embodied deity”10 in rituals of sacred sexuality, such as the Great Rite, which “is used to confer upon an initiate the third degree of a consecrated priest or priestess,”11 which is the highest degree in British Traditional Witchcraft. He also conscientiously addresses the importance of taking precautions regarding the safety and well-being of those practicing sacred sexuality, which must always honor mutual consent.

I appreciated the occasional personal anecdotes Frater Barrabbas shares that humanize the experience of being a witch. For example, before revealing a ritual titled “Erotic Mass of the Fourfold Goddess,”12 he tells the story behind it, and it really impacted me emotionally. He relates how this rite was revealed to him by deceptive coven leaders who claimed it was an ancient secret ritual. “What I found out later was that this beautiful and supposedly ancient ritual had been completely made up by the leaders of my group and passed off as legitimate lore to the members,” he says. “Since those times, these same leaders left the Craft in the early 80s and became ardent fundamentalist Christians who targeted Witches and Pagans, telling the public that we were merely dupes of Satan.”13 He shares this ritual with readers because he doesn’t feel oath-bound to keep it secret, considering its true origins.

I’m a solitary practitioner and I’ve never been in a coven, so the group rituals he shares in the book are beautifully written and inspiring, but will not be of practical use for me. One reason why I’ve never been in a coven is that most of the people I’ve met who have shown an interest in witchcraft lack commitment and sincerity. It’s a passing phase to them, and they can easily turn back to monotheism. It’s even more astounding to me, that in the author’s experience, these traitors were elders in his tradition.

I really resonated with this passage because it reminded me of times in my life when I felt betrayed by romantic partners, friends, and family, who either pretended to be accepting of my practice, or once identified as witches themselves, and then went back to Christianity and completely turned on me, condemning me as a devil worshiper and calling my gods demons. It hurt me deeply, but I think these experiences can be blessings in disguise, because tests of faith can deepen commitment.

In an initiatory vision I received well over a decade ago, I had a sexual encounter with the Horned God in the guise of Cernunnos. I remember vividly that it happened on a Winter Solstice. That night, I felt a strong calling from the spirit world to cast a circle and go into a trance, though I didn’t know why. During this impromptu ritual, I had a vivid vision of being in a vibrant green forest drenched in sunlight, and an erect Cernunnos approached me. I was so surprised by what was happening that it shocked me out of trance, and I immediately became afraid that the Christians were right, and witches really do have sex with the Devil. I identified as Wiccan at the time and up until that point I had denied the existence of the Devil, as did most, if not all Wiccans, probably due to the Satanic Panic, but this experience shifted my perspective and caused me to reevaluate my entire belief system. I had reached a dead end with Wicca, and my spirit allies were guiding me to Traditional Witchcraft. It took me several years to unravel the
religious conditioning of my childhood and I gradually understood that this experience was an initiation into the mysteries of the Horned God as the folkloric Devil, who is a shapeshifting spirit of nature, and not the personification of absolute evil. Embracing the title of devil worshipper helped me to do necessary shadow work for my personal and spiritual growth.

Sacramental Theurgy for Witches is not for the faint of heart or those who think of witchcraft as a passing phase. It’s for serious devotees who have established their own consistent practice over the course of many years and wish to deepen their relationship with the divine by not only becoming a medium for their chosen deity, but by elevating their relationship with their god to a sacred romance, and love is the greatest mystery of all. By weaving together the seemingly disparate threads of multiple traditions, and integrating their wisdom into his own lore, Frater Barrabbas promotes a sense of wholeness, rather than separation, in witchcraft. This book will be a wonderful resource for those looking to reconcile Christianity and other traditions with their practice.

Theurgy: Theory & Practice, by P.D. Newman

Theurgy: Theory & Practice: The Mysteries of the Ascent to the Divine, by P.D. Newman
Inner Tradition, 164411836X, 224 pages, December 2023

Theurgy is a Neoplatonic form of ritual magic in which the practitioner seeks mystical union with a divine being. The term theurgy, which means “to work with deity”1 in Greek, was first coined in the Chaldæan Oracles, a fragmented collection of dactylic hexameter verses, written in Homeric Greek, that were believed to have been channeled directly from the gods by either Julian the Chaldæan, or his son, Julian the Theurgist, during the late second century CE.

In Theurgy: Theory & Practice: The Mysteries of the Ascent to the Divine, author P.D. Newman, who has practiced theurgy for over two decades and is also a member of both the Masonic Fraternity and the Society of Rosicrucians, supplies a solid scholarly background on the development of theurgical practices. Even though the Chaldæan Oracles are the fundamental text on theurgy, he argues that the practice itself can be traced all the way back to Homeric times. 

In Part I, he demonstrates how the ancient Greek version of shamans, called iatromanteia (“healer-seers”), and the Presocratic philosophers laid the foundation for theurgical practices.

“Theurgy,” Newman explains, “is a process of anabasis or magical ascent whereby practitioners, such as the Neoplatonists…achieved henosis or mystical union with a deity, the Demiurge or the One,” while katabasis is “a dreamy descent to the domain of the dead and to the dark goddess who rules over that realm.”2

Plato and his followers aspired to ascend through the planetary spheres and unite with the One, the paternal Monad, using theurgical practices, while their predecessors, the iatromanteia (“healer-seers”) and Presocratic philosophers, sought Underworld descent, or katabasis, and union with the terrifying goddess that ruled there.

“For the Platonists, katabasis was understood as the descent of the soul into a body upon incarnation,” Newman says. “Hades, additionally, was allegorized and viewed as the very world that we, as embodied beings, inhabit.”3

In Plato’s teachings, the body (soma) is a grave (sema), and a prison for the soul. Plato’s famous “Allegory of the Cave” in the Republic demonstrates how the focus of theurgical practices shifted from the Underworld to the heavens. “The goal of the theurgist is not unlike that of the prisoner in the cave—to escape the sensible world of duality and penetrate the realm of ultimate, unitive reality above,” Newman says.4

I was fascinated to learn that the Sicilian stratovolcano Mount Etna was believed to be an entrance to Hades, and sacrifices to the goddess of the Underworld were thrown into the mouth of this fiery cauldron. According to legend, the iatromantis (healer-seer) Empedocles threw himself into the volcano to prove his divinity, and it erupted, vomiting out a single bronze sandal. Through self-immolation, Empedocles achieved henosis (mystical union) with the goddess Hecate. A single bronze sandal is one of her attributes as the Lady of Tartaros in the Papyri Graecae Magicae, and the Greeks associated bronze with the Underworld. This was a profound insight for me because I didn’t know that Hecate was associated with volcanoes, and this explains her fiery epithets. 

Part II explores possible theurgic elements in Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad. In Chapter 6, titled “Porphyry’s On the Cave of the Nymphs,” Newman demonstrates how philosophers often saw Odysseus as a spiritual hero, on a path of return to his celestial abode. For example, he says the Pythagoreans interpreted the song of the sirens to be the music of the celestial spheres, which is so beautiful it has the power to “lift the soul in its theurgic ascent to the Good,”5 and the Neopythagorean philosopher Numenius of Apamea saw “Odysseus as escaping genesis, the realm of ‘becoming,’ symbolized by the waters of Poseidon.”6

I loved this chapter, and the passages about Witch Queen Circe really blew my mind. According to the Neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry of Tyre, Circe symbolizes the cycle of metensomatosis, or reincarnation, in which eternal souls change bodies like clothes. Aiaia, the island over which she rules, is part of the land of the dead. Bewitched by the pleasures of the flesh, Odysseus’s men drink the witch’s brew and are reborn as beasts. Only Odysseus himself, who is on a path of ascension, is immune to her powers. Now that my perspective has been shifted to view the Odyssey as the tale of a hero’s apotheosis, I will never read it the same way again. 

Part III, titled “Theurgic Telestikē,” analyzes the practice of animating cult statues. This section was the most relevant for me because I have written my own rituals to awaken my deity statues in the past and I am looking to incorporate more traditional methods of doing so in order to infuse my rituals with historical authenticity. I also recently wrote a ritual to enliven a scrying mirror for Lilith, because in Jewish folklore she was believed to inhabit mirrors. One passage in particular really resonated with my intention, in which Newman quotes Plotinus, who compared the consecrated cult statue to “a mirror able to catch some image of it.”7 

In order to animate the statue, a sympathetic link is created with “theurgic talismans called synthēmata (tokens) and symbola (symbols),”8 which are similar to the planetary correspondences assigned to plants, animals, and minerals in natural magic. However, there is more to statue vivification than simply following a list of correspondences recognized by the intellect. Rather, the tokens and symbols help the theurgist align with the deity by making their divine essence become conscious, or awakened, within themselves, especially if they have psychoactive properties that alter one’s consciousness. For example, in fragment 224 of the Chaldæan Oracles, the goddess Hecate instructs the theurgist to animate her statue with wild rue, or Syrian rue, an entheogenic plant that the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder associated with vision, which is still burned today in the Middle East to repel the evil eye.

My devotion to Hecate inspired me to learn more about theurgy because of her exalted status in the Chaldæan Oracles, in which she is referred to as the World Soul, or at least she is according to my copy, translated by Ruth Majercik. Before reading this book, I wasn’t aware that there is conflicting scholarship about whether or not this epithet applies to her, and I was surprised to find that Newman presents the argument that Hecate is not herself the anima mundi, or World Soul, because her position in the Chaldæan hierarchy is too elevated.

“Indeed…in the Oracles, Hecate is said to be the cause of soul—but not soul itself, “Newman says. “Rather, Hecate is acknowledged as a goddess of liminality who exists in the space between two realms, such as she served when acting in the role of psychopomp for Persephone in the Eleusinian mysteries.”9

In an initiatory dream I received over a decade ago, Hecate stabbed me in my right side with her dagger and pomegranate juice flowed from the wound. “You are Persephone,” she said. Several years later, the dream made more sense to me when I read Fragment 51 of The Chaldean Oracles: “Around the hollow of her right flank a great stream of the primordially-generated Soul gushes forth in abundance, totally ensouling light, fire, ether, worlds.”10 If Hecate is so elevated that she transcends the epithet of World Soul, then I wonder if perhaps her lowest aspect, the maiden Persephone, should in fact hold that title.

Theurgy: Theory & Practice is an astounding work that combines shamanism, various schools of Greek philosophy, and theurgical praxis that can be integrated by modern occultists. The many branches of Greek philosophy can be an overwhelming topic to explore, but Newman does an excellent job of diluting the common theurgical elements, and a wealth of information is condensed into under 200 pages. Both modern theurgists and devotees of Hecate will appreciate this work, especially if they are interested in learning more about her significance in the Chaldæan Oracles.

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.

Bones & Honey, by Danielle Dulsky

Bones & Honey: A Heathen Prayer Book, by Danielle Dulsky
New World Library, 1608688925, 208 pages, November 2023

While prayer comes from the heart, oftentimes we still long for the words to express ourselves. Bones and Honey: A Heathen Prayer Book by Danielle Dulsky gives voice to prayers we didn’t even know we needed—those secret whispers of the heart we can only hear when we slow down to listen. Dulsky’s words in this book are the balm to our weary soul in trying times, the catharsis that brings sweet release, to usher in a new vision.

“To pray is not to submit but to cast a spell, to speak our imaginations aloud and make manifest our most earnest requests. No spell comes to fruition without the confluence of innumerable sources, and every Witch knows this well. By extension, every spell is, in part, a prayer.”1

As a little girl, I devoutly learned to say my Christian prayers each night. Decades later, I will still find myself saying a quick Hail Mary at times, but that’s about the only prayer I can remember that feels resonant after wading through the wounds the Catholic Church inflicted on my spirit. I’ve yearned to have new prayers woven into my body and soul’s memory to call forth when needed, especially words to encapsulate what I’m feeling in the midst of troubling modern times featuring pandemics, ecological collapse, and war.

My path in witchcraft has unleashed unforeseen desires, teaching me the value of integrating all aspects of myself. Yet, it still remains a challenge to feel prayer deeply within my body, rather than as though I am being forced to prostrate myself to the limited gods available in modern religion, with hopes of calling into being my visions. Dulsky captures my sentiment perfectly in the introduction to this book, writing:

“As the veil continues to life, as the curtain rises to reveal far more sacred actors than the few famed gods whose names we all know well, we still need prayer. We have our own “earn requests,” not for forgiveness or redemption but for all beings, ourselves included, to be whole, well, and free.”2

What words are left when we cast our guilt, shame, and falsehood aside to reveal what’s left at the core (bones), instead opening up to be a channel for goodness and sweetness (honey) in the world?  Whether you read these prayers aloud or quietly to yourself, the potent force of these prayers is bound to have a ripple effect.

Now, it’s worth noting that the term “prayer” in this book might be different from what one has come to associate with the term. Dulsky’s prayers include blessings, songs, and even short stories. And they are  organized into thirteen books, each one an archetype that she believes is an important medicine for the world right now. Then every book consists of thirteen prayers related to the theme of the archetype.

Some examples of the books are “Book of Wild Lovers: Prayers for Lust, Seduction, and Majestic Relatedness”,  “Book of the Nameless Grandmothers: Prayers for Ancestral healing, Lineage Exploration, and Forgiveness”, “Book of the Botanical Babe: Prayers for Innocents, Beginnings, and Wild Children”, and “Book of Shape-Shifters: Prayers for Time Weavers, Human Evolution, and Strange Futures”

These archetypal themes are just the general essence of each chapter, and Dulsky provides an overview of the significance of the archetype and why it’s relevant to healing in modern times. And if this is all feeling a bit heady now, as archetypes can sometimes be given their expansiveness, the organization of the book makes it VERY easy to find exactly the prayer you need at any point in time.

Skimming through the table of contents, one is easily able to find the right prayer for them. The prayers are all numbered and within the title is the circumstance to say the prayer. For instance, if I was looking for “6.2 In Praise of our Wild Stories: To Sing When the Moon is New” to do a ritual, I would immediately know to go to the second prayer in chapter six.

Admittedly, I’ve mostly read the book in bits and pieces as I feel called to by prayer, rather than moving through all the archetypes sequentially. But I think there’s value in delving into each archetype and moving through the prayers to understand the archetype’s energy more.

As for Dulsky’s writing, it’s lyrical, raw, and potent. It has a boldness that cuts deep, even in the tenderest of times. I’ve been reading the words aloud and often feel I become infused with a greater power; my voice shifts as I feel the emotion run through me. The brilliance of this book quickly becomes a channel, and I have no doubt the prayers I am reciting are reverberating to create change.

I’d like to say I picked a favorite poem to share, but every one I read stirs something within me that I can hardly set one above another. Some that have felt especially potent though are “9.2 See Our Joy: To Giggle-Spit at the False Prophets”, which reads in part:

“See our joy and be on your way, preacher. We repent nothing, and you can’t sell our own belonging back to us. We’ll find our own redemption in the forest and take our communion from the  mountain stream, thank you very much.”3

I also have really been vibing with “6.1 The Old Haunted Skin: The Snake’s Dark Moon Energy”, which begins:

“Shedding this too-small skin, I am, for this serpentine queen makes herself ready for what comes.”4

Finally, the tender prayers of motherhood and wild children call to me, such as this snippet of “13.4 Love, Innocence, and Climate Change: A Prayer for Young Families”:

“Our strange souls chose each other to share a home in this time of great unraveling, in these wild moments of war, heat, disease, and rising waters. Fools might call it coincidence, the coming together of our peculiar family, the knowing ones understand the nature of fate.”5

All in all, Bones & Honey fills the reader with world-shifting, world-building, and world-sustaining words. Dulskey’s prayers defy time, connecting us to the past, present, and future, while anchoring us in our bodies. These prayers are much-needed medicine for our time, and I truly am excited to know I’ll be chanting them heart to heart with a powerful collective of heathens and witches.