By Sister Moon
New Page Books, 2006 $13.99
Review by Erin
It’s never a good sign when I can sit down and read and complete a review in two hours.
Such is the saga of this book. I picked it up and started reading it, and finished it less than an hour later. How is this possible you may ask? I skipped massive sections of this book, mainly because they were all the same as all others.
Put simply, this is a spellbook. It is nothing but a spellbook. The subtitle on this book is “Practical Magick for Daily Life”, but from the spells I read, it’s not practical.
Take for instance the spell “Bee Happy”.
“Magickal Intention: This is a spell to cure the sting from a bee. (If you are allergic to bees, seek medical attention immediately.)
Tools: One yellow candle, High Meadows oil, Healing incense, Tobacco chew in a can, and a Band-Aid
Instructions: Anoint the candle with High Meadows Oil. Light the candle and the incense. Pull out the stinger if one is remaining. Chew the tobacco and cover the sting with the tobacco, to the thickness of a quarter of an inch. Cover with the Band-aid. Recite the incantation over the sting. If you find the bee, bury it near a tree so it can return to the earth next year.
This bee that stings and leaves the pain
I reject the poison of the slain,
Chewed tobacco with spit and fire,
Release the pain and swelling acquired
So mote it be.”
Okay, got all that? I started checking and apparently there is a whole complex recipe for the High Meadows Oil, and another for the Healing Incense, that is if you haven’t made it before hand. Considering that there are something like 50 separate oils and about 25 or so incense recipes. Now, what is the likelihood that you will have this stuff on hand should you happen to need it? I would say not likely.
So, you just got stung by a bee. So now you run into the house, pull out the stinger and set up your altar. Then you anoint the candle with the oil you might have (and if not you have to make it which requires specific times to “brew” them) and light the incense (see comments for the oil). Say, it’s been about 20 minutes or so. Then pull out the tobacco and chew it and put it on the sting and cover it with the band aid.
Cool. So it took about 20 to 25 minutes to use the folk remedy of putting the tobacco on it. Then you repeat this incantation, about 18 minutes after you should have already had the tobacco on the wound drawing out the poison.
So here is a ritual that is so overly complex as to be useless.
Now, this is just one sample. There are literally hundreds of spells in this book. Average is about one spell every page and a quarter. There are 239 pages. Which equates to about 200 spells or so (no I didn’t do the math on this one, I’m saying approximately). All of them are this brief, this descriptive, and all of them require materials that may or may not be on your shelf. About an eighth of the spells are for quick use like this one is supposed to be. The rest are the type you can prepare for ahead of time.
The chapters are “color coded” to help you determine which spell to cast. And the associations to the colors do tend to follow the classical associations, red for passion and sex, green for money, white for cleansing and purity, black for negativity, so on and so forth. There’s even a quick appendix telling you what your spell’s color is.
At the back are the appendixes, all six of them. The first four are just a page or two, short additions to the text. The fifth and sixth are the large ones, the recipes for the oil and the incense respectively. No where does it say how to make these recipes or what process there is to blend the ingredients, it is just a listing of what goes into each oil and incense. The implication is that one must cook the oils or the incense (it says “time to brew” in the text, telling you when the appropriate time to make this would be). So in order to make these, you would need instructions from another book. In fact, in the “How to use this book” it says “You can always make your own incenses, oils, and such, but that’s a book in itself.” She never references a book on how to do this. In fact, there are no references in here whatsoever.
The Introduction is three pages. On the first page was my VERY first objection to this book; the classic injunction that ALL magick is subject to the Wiccan Rede and the Law of Three. This statement made me want to throw this book across the room. Then there are “The seven laws of magick” which imply things, instead of stating them as a Law should. Things like “The Law of Perfect Balances which implies that you should not be overly invested in one thing”, or “The Law of Devotion which enables you to embrace your craft and life purpose while honoring your Deities”. I read these and went “Say what?” I’ve never heard of these suggestions and ways of acting and being as laws before.
Two pages later we start the spell section. So we have 5 pages of author notes that are supposed to tell us how to use this book and explain the book, give us instructions for taking the rituals and ceremonies in the book and applying them in our lives, and then we have 224 pages of spells with little context or instructions for use.
However, this could be a useful book to a Witch who has been practicing for a while. One who knows that the God is not required to do these relatively simple rituals and who understands the principles behind spellcasting and can automatically add those elements to these spells. One who can see that even when the spell is somewhat devotional and the God must be called upon, that she does not have to call upon the three faces of the God (listed in this book as the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. Yes, I checked this three times). There have been times I didn’t want to have to write up a spell from scratch to catch a thief or to help me get a raise. So from a convenience point of view, it could be useful.
But my fear is that some new practitioner is going to buy this book without any other and be totally and utterly lost as to what to do. I know when I first started out I bought a spellbook or two and didn’t understand all the stuff I had to do behind the scenes to cast a spell, and this book forcibly reminds me of those books. Correspondences, planetary hours, recipes for potions, folk remedies which are mixed in with chanting and theatrical nonsense (in my opinion) all combine to make me think this is the modern recreation of “The Complete Book of Magic And Witchcraft”.
Because of this, I’m only giving this book 2 stars out of 5. I did not grade it lower because it may be of use as a reference work for those who have been doing this for some time, and who can ignore the bias and inaccurate information in the beginning of this book. I don’t think this is a book that anyone with less than 2 years in active witchcraft practice should be using, only because it is incomplete and misleading and would confuse them. So while there are many other books out there that does what this book does and does it much better, it may be something an experienced Elder would want to have on their shelf.