By Elizabeth Barrette
New Page Books, copyright 2007, $14.99 US
Review by Daven
Okay, here it is finally, the book that many people have been waiting for; Composing Magic, How to Create Magical Spells, Rituals, Blessings and Prayers.
Much to my astonishment, this book is EXACTLY what it says it is on the cover, a book about how to write spells and rituals. It is a book on writing. Imagine that.
If I sound a bit effusive it’s because this book has been a long time coming in many ways. Several people have tried to write it, they have written things that are related to creating and writing rituals and spells, but no one has quite been able to write a book that actually and practically teaches you how to compose spells and rituals.
This book has the singular distinction of doing so. Add to that statement another one; this book does an excellent job of teaching you how to write spells and rituals. It not only gives you the information on sitting down and picking up your pen to write, but the book explains how to go about the creative writing process.
On opening this book you are immediately greeted with a well written dedication by the author to many people special in her life. I learned also from the Foreword by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, that Elizabeth is the editor in chief for PanGaia, a fact of which I was unaware.
Then it’s off to the races. That is what this book feels like as you read along; as though you were holding on for dear life in a mad marathon of thoroughbred horse racing of some sort. As I read further into the book gaining more insight into the hows and whys Elizabeth used in her reasoning, I found myself wishing that I had this book 18 years ago when I started on the Wiccan/Pagan pathway. I would have made fewer mistakes and written fewer poor articles.
Getting the simple grammatical skill of how to correctly build a proper sentence should have been learned in grade school. Elizabeth has managed to put into this book the things that really work. She demonstrates the brainstorming processes that will help to get ideas out so they can be examined, the transfer of thought to paper and finally the revision process where the wondrous prose you created is tightened up and polished.
Through the text she adds examples of others work to illustrate points she is making. She uses works by e.e. cummings, Thoreau and others using fine choices from poems and several rituals she has created herself. Each of selection adds to the book and makes the whole much greater than the sum of the parts.
I found as I was reading my personal muses were working overtime to slam me in the unconscious with ideas to write about and techniques to try.
One section I personally enjoyed was the section on poetry. I have never been much of a rhymer, but in that section I was able to see why things worked. I learned how to change some of the parts of very rigid poems around to fit what *I* like. I found techniques to slip spells into a poem itself without making it obvious I am doing it. It taught me why some poetry leaves me cold and why some of it warms my heart and makes my hair stand on end.
Elizabeth takes a fresh look at the literature of religion and makes cases for why some of the greatest literature of all time (standard religious literature like holy books and prayers) can move us to tears and what we can do to make our personal pagan practices do the same for the listeners.
She then gives the reader encouragement to go out and write for themselves, to put their words down on paper and to share it with others. Her goal is to make her audience never satisfied with taking someone else’s words and using them, when the wellspring of creativity comes from deep inside of us all. She shows those who read this book that it’s easy, if you approach it as a joy and not a labor.
Ultimately this book says that it’s easy to create a spell or a ritual, all you have to do is put your feelings into words and say them. You don’t need a Masters degree in literature to be able to talk – all you need is some sincerity to say what is in your heart.
I’m saying this book is worth 5 stars of 5 and I’m TELLING you to go out and buy a copy. If you don’t you will never know what you have lost. You will never regret the purchase.