by Gerina Dunwich
New Page Books, 2003 $14.99 US
Review by Erin
Upon first glance, this book doesn’t look like much. This slender volume has a tasteful cover that simply tells one what the book contains. Many would be tempted to pass this book by simply because it is so unassuming.
In my opinion this would be a mistake. While this book is not a complete guide for the study of stones and magick, it is a worthy companion to such tomes as Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic. This book is another reference. It is appropriate for those advanced beginners or starting intermediate students.
Unlike other references on the magickal uses of stones and metals, this is not a book of properties and correspondences. While those tables do appear, the majority of this work is concerned with the lore surrounding stones and their uses. The information ranges from the uses of stones as amulets to runestones, and demonstrates how stones can be used in healing and divination. There is a section dealing with the making of infusions of stones, effectively making a “stone potion”.
There are some chapters that I am planning to reread in more depth as soon as possible. One I am looking forward to deals with stones and their alignments with the Zodiac. I learned that many common gemstones have, not only the modern birthstones but also the associations made in Biblical times and alignments with the Chinese Zodiac. There is a discussion relating the Tarot to semi-precious gemstones and how to do a spread using only with stones.
The book is not perfect. Much of this information is brief. The chapter dealing with amulets is 4 pages of preparatory material. How to make an amulet, classical examples of amulets made from stones, and then comes the several pages of properties of stones for those amulets. Some of the information she gives would be clearer with reference to additional material from other sources. For example, Ms. Dunwich mentions the amulets of the planets but fails to tell you anything more except the stone those amulets are made from.
There is also no comprehensive table of correspondences and properties. I feel that a section dealing solely with the stones and what they do, their properties, how they are used in potions, what planetary hour they relate to and what deities are associated with these stones would have been an excellent addition. Currently, that information is spread throughout this book. For example, if one were looking for the properties of bloodstone, one would have to look in 8 different places to gather all this information together.
In an effort to be completely fair, she may have done it that way purposefully. Most books of this type tend to be an encyclopedia of gemstone properties, with information laid out neatly in one entry for that stone, so the reader is only looking in one place. Ms. Dunwich may have been trying to move away from that kind of work and lay it out more logically with the stone properties in the magickal section she is writing on.
Personally, I would probably have ignored this book if I saw it on the shelf of my bookstore. There is nothing wrong with the book or the information contained in it, but I have several books with the same information. Ms. Dunwich has compiled those several books’ information into one. If I were just starting to build my library now, I would definitely include it on my shelf. This recommendation is subject to what information on your shelf needs to be fleshed out. I feel that Dunwich’s Guide to Gemstone Sorcery is good for advanced beginners, and teachers may wish to seriously consider making this a book their students are urged to get, but for someone who has been collecting books for a decade or so, it can probably stay where it is.
I give this book 3 1/2 stars out of 5. It’s a good solid book that I think will make a good addition to a new metaphysical library. Who knows, it may even be the required reading book for the next generation of Witches.