Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook by Deborah Blake

Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook
Deborah Blake
Llewellyn, 2010
246 pages

I’ll start this review with the caveat that I’m really not a fan of spell books. They’re one of those remnants of the 90’s ZOMGWICCA publishing boom that I wish would just fade away. It feels as though the formula is “Write the main how-to book on a given tradition/topic/etc. Then write the related spell book. And after that? Somehow tarot.

That being said, I do not constitute the whole of the esoteric and related readership. And if someone were to insist that they needed a spell book, either to work with directly or as inspiration, I’d recommend this one as a potential addition to the witchy library. I’ve generally been a fan of Deborah Blake’s writing, and I’m not surprised she managed to write a spell book that I can give a positive review.

I think a lot of it is that she came up with a really wide variety of spell ideas. There’s more than just the usual lineup of healing, protection, money and LUV ME PLEASE! There’s a spell to boost advertising in business endeavors, and another to increase the likelihood of a damaged friendship being mended in a mutually favorable fashion. There are also things that can be used to boost–but not replace–mental health treatment, such as one to decrease emotional sensitivity, and another to focus on working through mental illness in general. And, as the title suggests, these are all arranged in alphabetical order–and some of the titles, like “Jerk Avoidance” and “Shit Happens” added a bit of levity. And the spells themselves are well-written and don’t involve hard-to-obtain materials like eye of honey badger.

There are a few pages of additional information helpful to spellcasting. Along with some guides on writing and casting spells, and when to cast or not, there’s also a bit of a blurb on familiars penned (by proxy) by Blake’s feline familiar, Magic, that’s actually pretty good even in its brevity. This is a nice guide for anyone new to the concept of spellcasting, but those who seek new ideas beyond the usual stuff may find this to be a good source of inspiration.

It’s still another spell book, and I’ll admit the cover got the hairy eyeball from me. But if ya gotta have a spell book, you could do much, much worse than this creative approach.

Four pawprints out of five.

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Temple of the Twelve, Vol. 1: Novice of Colors by Esmerelda Little Flame

Temple of the Twelve, Vol. 1: Novice of Colors
Esmerelda Little Flame
New Gaia Press, 2008
278 pages

A young woman finds herself at the threshold of service to great deities who embody archetypal powers. Rather than a relationship of fear, though, can she create connections of love and devotion with them?

I had heard about the Temple of the Twelve books from a few friends who were working through the pathworking system woven into the novels, and I’ll admit I was quite intrigued. I do like fiction that also serves as a teaching tool, but unfortunately a lot of it turns into awkward monologues about what Wicca is shoehorned into a badly written teaching scene or somesuch.

While there is some teaching dialogue scattered throughout this book, much of what each of the archetypal Twelve deities in this story–one for each of several colors and their correspondences–have to teach is demonstrated in their interactions with the main character, Caroline. For example, Caroline creates paintings of several of the deities, and one deity, Lord Blue, felt them strongly: “He felt the colors radiating from them. The hot red. The cool white. Need. Love. Lust. Pain. Joy” (p. 96). The author does an excellent job of “show, don’t tell”.

The story is nicely paced, and allows Caroline to develop not only in her relationships with the gods and others, but as an individual. At the same time, a usable spiritual path is drawn out as the story progresses; shortly after the experience with the paintings, Lord Blue tells Caroline she will bond in particular with one god and one goddess, which reflects the tendency of many pagans to have strong bonds with a few deities in particular (often along perceived lines of balance, such as between male and female energies).

In this, the book creates a mythology upon which nonfiction workbook materials have been based, and there are other novels that expand on this mythos (and I will be reviewing other books in this series). I can see this particular text being everything from a good read in and of itself, to the foundation of a pagan practitioner’s magical path based on colors and correspondences. The author’s personifications of the archetypes shows a strong connection, and I look forward to seeing more implementation of this in a practical sense.

Five pawprints out of five.

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