Category: Witch Library

Book Review: Air Magic by Astrea Taylor

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Air Magic by Astrea Taylor, part of the Elements of Witchcraft series. Released, April 2021 by Llewellyn Books.

I was instantly drawn to this book, Air Magic by Astrea Taylor, when I learned about it, because Air Magic is something so unusual to me. In my own craft practice I work Earth, Water, and Fire Magic often. But beyond incense and feathers, Air Magic was an enigma. This book clarified so much.

So when I saw that Taylor had authored the book, I was happy to dive right in, getting a special autographed release of it as well. I had already read her previous work, “Intuitive Witchcraft” which was such a great guide to what many of us in the Craft are truly practicing and a book I regularly recommend to my fellow pagans. Air Magic arrived with a sweet note, book mark and Air Magic stickers. It was an added bonus that really helped put me in the mood to learn all about Air Magic. And learn I did. Like did you realize that birthday candles on a cake are Air Magic. Of course, duh! But I never thought of it in regards to Air Magic. Fire, Earth, yes. But, it is also Air, as detailed in this book. And when you think about, it, yes. That fire cannot mold the ingredients into cake or light the candles without its fuel: Air. Make a wish, Witch.

Special bonus reminders of Air Magic accompanied the special autographed edition of this book during its inaugural release.

Air Magic is the second book in a series of the Elements of Witchcraft. It not only digs deep all that encompasses Air Magic, but even gives you meditations, rituals, and spells to begin your understanding of Air Magic and incorporating it into your personal practice. It also featured one of my other favorite Witches, Laura Tempest Zakroff. Taylor takes us through not only the history and mythos of Air Magic but also where Air Magic is aligned with animals, crystals, deities, and more. I was thrilled to learn that one of the trees on my property is aligned with Air Magic specifically with the Norse traditions. It will now become the place of my Freyja altar.

But the practical parts of how the reader can use Air Magic in their own practice is the most dynamic part of the book, so earns a top shelf placement in my bookshelf. I appreciate that some of the practical information, the how-to if you will, leans on the simple. Simple, everyday Magic is something that even novice Witches can begin to put into their lives. But there is more in depth rituals as well for those who feel best doing something more formal and detailed. I especially like the Air Magic for travel. And as I deepen my connection to Air Magic, I’ll be using the meditation she outlined in order to get in touch with the element of air.

Before reading this book, Air Magic felt so foreign. Taylor’s Air Magic lifts away the caul of Air Magic and spotlights its interwovenness in our every day lives and easy ways to incorporate it. Packed with deep references, you could easily grab tome after tome from the book’s bibliography and go down an Air Magic rabbit hole if you like. This Scorpio appreciates anything well researched. This book also revealed places where the Air element was way more active in my own practice. Praying Mantis familiar, anyone?

This book is a great blessing to learn about Air Magic.

Lastly, the fact that the word Magic is used in its typical sense – minus the K – in this book also spoke to me. If you’ve been here a bit, you know my feelings on Magic with a K.

Even as a Crone, practicing the Craft is all about learning. Books are the best way to get there, in my opinion. Air Magic is certainly a cornerstone to unravel the mysteries of Air Magic and presented in a clear, practical, and engaging way. If you find yourself drawn to Air Magic you need to add this book to your Witch Library. I’m glad I did.

Book Review: The Witches Almanac – An Anthology of Half a Century of Collected Magical Lore

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A curious addition to any Witch Library.

The 50 Year Anniversary Edition of The Witches Almanac – An Anthology of Half of Century of Collected Magical Lore by Andrew Theitic and published in July 2020 by Wtiches’ Almanac, Ltd. is a collection of a “best of” from the editions of this almanac since 1971. There is articles on everything from making charms, fire gazing, the evil eye, the legend of so many of the stories that include witches, crystals, herbalism, deities, honestly, you named it. It even includes some old advertisements aimed at the pagan community.

I would not classify this as a reference book, but there are some very interesting reference materials within it, making it a read that will likely allow any Witch of any level to learn something.

I think this is a book I might keep at the tub side, the coffee table, or near anywhere you might need to just sit and just read whenever. It’s not a book to read cover to cover, although I did to produce this review. Whatever type of Witch or pantheon you follow, you’ll likely learn something reading it. There are also interviews and articles about the folks that have been behind the Almanac for so long, some of them in memoriam. It also might be an interesting book for which to do some bibliomancy/stichomancy divination.

The book includes some interesting illustrations, especially where some of the vintage advertisements are concerned, creating another point of interest as you peruse the book.

One of the vintage ads found in this 50th Anniversary Witches’ Almanac.

It doesn’t just include things from the past, there are many issues covered in the book that are in the conscious collective now like Climate Change and Transgender Rights.

If you are interested in the stories, beliefs, and practices that have been written about for the last 50 years. Everything from the Eye of Horus, the Queen of Shades, or all about The Old Apple Tree, you will find interest in this book. It’s definitely a curiosity as opposed to a well-indexed reference guide. But, I’m sure each and every Witch out there will find something new to learn in that.

Book Review: By Rust of Nail & Prick of Thorn (The Theory & Practice of Effective Home Warding)

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Even though it’s new to my library, By Rust of Nail & Prick of Thorn: The Theory & Practice of Effective Home Warding by Althaea Sebastiani is already a well-referenced tome in my collection.

Home warding has been central to my practice for many years and within weeks of moving into a new place, I found this book, rather by accident — an internet post by some stranger put it in my sights. And I’m so glad for that serendipity. I only know a few warding things that were taught to me through the years by older witches, and all I use without fail; but, I was interested to learn more. Enter this book by Althaea Sebastiani, By Rust of Nail & Prick of Thorn… Written for both emerging and long-time practitioner of the craft or just those seeking more alignment in their sacred space, the book explains what warding is, why it’s done, and then how to do it. Simple. Perfect.

The thing I appreciate the most about this book is that it is clearly no-nonsense. It’s clear reading through it that this author knows her stuff and offers no apology for it. I love the clean, clear writing style and practical application part — you know the actually doing of the wardings in all their varieties, including valuable advice about the where, how, and whys of warding.

Sebastiani covers charms, chimes, plants, powders, and so much more. I was especially in love with her section on Spirits, since this aligns with my personal practice quite well. There is even a section on Emergency Warding.

The only criticism I would offer of this book is that I would have loved even more detail. It’s a “read it in a weekend and take notes” tome, which is great for keeping in your Witchy Reference Shelf; I just wanted a bit more. I’d love to see a re-release with how the author applies these wards in her own home, as she is a traveling soul, as I once was. I’m such a visual learner that seeing images of Statuary, Sigils, or Stones in action — or any of the other ward types — would be even more enlightening. Regardless, I highly recommend this book. I have zero doubt it will be one you refer to often and use all year in your Craft practice.

One of my go-to wards, Chicken-Foot- Scratch Back Ward, which although not would fall under the Charms section of Sebastiani’s book.

Categories: Blog Post Witch Library

Book Review: The Oath – A Heathen Poet’s Journey

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Helping to Rebuild My Witchy Library is this Pagan Poetry Book: The Oath – A Heathen Poet’s Journey.

Not every book in your Witchy Library has to be some reference on spells and rituals or divination how-tos. Sometimes you need something that feeds your mind and spirit all at the same time. Emerging Poet, Jason Ralls, inaugural release of The Oath – A Heathen Poet’s Journey does just that. Through poetry he expresses a spiritual journey that wanders from curiosity into the depths of love and loyalty. Although its subject matter explores the author’s relationship with the Norse gods, the journey of belief holds inspiration for all Pagan hearts.

It’s not a large tome, but features three acts detailed by nine poems, from following Idunn, to Ran, to Hel, to Balder, and Tyr, to Freyja, and to the Mad King himself, Odin. You can feel the writer’s movement from not really knowing the gods, to professing his creed of belief and service. I found reading it outside was deeply inspiring as well as healing. It’s slim profile fits in a day pack for hiking and re-reading when you pause to take in the view and rest before returning back to the modern world. These poems seem to connect the ancestral world and its inhabitants to the now.

On the back cover of the book, the author warns that the book is more than poetry and that between the words is a liminal space to be aware of when diving into the text. I agree there is a spirit and presence in this book that spoke to me and gave me pause to find my own journey to the deities that are calling to me.

If you’re looking for a inspirational book for your Pagan heart, I highly recommend this one.

~Runa

This book is a perfect companion for a day spent in the forest.

You want to be a Witch?

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Get yourself a book, darling

I often get inquiries from what the internet has termed “baby witches.” As time goes on, I’m less enamored with that term, but people instantly know what you’re talking about. However, I am likely to use Novice Practitioner, or Emerging Witch or some such instead. Regardless of the term used, those beginning on their magical path ask me about how to learn. Without hesitation, I tell them to begin to grow their Witch Library. Read everything you can get your hands on. Use what speaks to you; discard what you don’t vibe with naturally; and embody the things you love. 

When I was first starting on my path, circa 1979ish, hunting down books on living a magical life were harder to find than they are now in this time of “new age” shelves at commercial book stores. Calling yourself a Witch in public was not as accepted as it is today or even necessarily safe. For many of us, we still work under a glamour of “normalcy.” Finding books became a bit easier with the strengthening of Weiser Books, Llewellyn, or even the now defunct Walking Stick Press, and of course that behemoth Amazon, and the surge of independent publishing. My Kindle was my mobile Witch library whilst living the traveling life and holds dozens of Witchy texts like Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic by Lisa Lister, Intuitive Witchcraft by Astrea Taylor, and Waking the Witch by Pam Grossman. But back when I was a Wtichlet, I had to hunt libraries, and used book stores, couching it in terms of Neo Spiritualism or Occult Curiosity. One particular Saturday, all dressed in black with matching gothy eyeliner and obnoxious pentagram earrings, the clerk in a long-gone secondhand book seller in the heart of Detroit pointed me to the very back room without a word. I still giggle about that.

Reading with the familiars (Granny Shadow & Ms. Snickle Fritz), one of my favorite pastimes and how I grow my craft.

One of the first books I read on magic was Witch Amongst Us by Lois Bourne, who entertained letters from a young girl living in the East side of Detroit. This led me to The Spiral Dance by Starhawk, whose continuing bibliography populates my bookshelves, both physically and digitally. Next I found myself reading Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein, which I often re-read when things looked dark. Yes, I re-read it in 2020. The point is I systematically found myself reading everything I could get my hands on — books on crystals and spells and on and on. 

When I lived in Europe (1993-1996), I was able to get many more volumes on everything from palmistry to tea-leaf reading. I spent time in the woods or on mountaintops with established covens and learned more from them. It was then that I learned about dream interpretation and Runes and deepened my connection to those things as well as herbalism and alchemy. And although I encountered people along my journey that shared and gifted me some of their knowledge the bulk of it has been by self-education through reading and practicing.

You can explore everything and really dive deep into the callings that speak to you best via books, whether it be Moon Magic, Solar Holy Days, or Divination, and more. It’s out there to explore. My tactic was to acquire everything I could and read everything I could. In doing so, I recognized that things like Wicca didn’t appeal to me, and that being in a coven or circle wasn’t always good for my energy. I felt more empowered and aligned with the cosmic energies by doing my craft as a solitary. 

My Library before The Great Purge of 2017.

I am currently in the midst of rebuilding my Witch library, having gifted many of my books in the great purge of 2017, including the first volumes that nudged me along my path, as we readied for a life of nomadic existence. Thankfully, I had my book of shadows throughout the years and those records let me know where I need to refresh my Witchcraft texts. As I rebuild this library, I plan to post reviews of books I read that would appeal to both early and experienced Mystics, Witches, Healers, Lightworkers, Energy Workers, or any of the other names that Witches call themselves. I hope to do the first review here next week. So look for a continuation of this Witches Library discussion to come. 

Slowly but surely rebuilding my Witch Library. As I do, I’ll review the books here.

If you are just beginning on your magical path, may I suggest you meditate and ask Source to guide you to what book(s) would serve you best and allow you to be your truest self and live your best life. You could also just go into a book store and head over to their spirituality shelf and find something that makes you pick it up. 

Like many Witches having a library, a garden, and some familiars makes life super magical. And they all seem to go hand in hand, like a Triple Goddess Venn Diagram. What books did you start with on your path? What books are you looking for? Where is your favorite place to read? Do this Writing Witch a solid and tell me what book has informed your path and clarified things for you. If you, like me, had to sell all your books, which ones would you keep? If you’re re-building a library, like me, which ones are must haves? Let’s talk books, Witches.