Manifesting True Desires: Learning from Arianrhod and the Tree of Life by Alfred Willowhawk

Manifesting True Desires: Learning from Arianrhod and the Tree of Life
Alfred Willowhawk
Self-published, 2013
134 pages

Reviewed by Nicky

I was quite excited to read this very promising sounding book. The stated premise is learning from and working with Arianrhod’s myths and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life in order to make desired changes in your life. As a devotee to Arianrhod with an interest in the Tree of Life, it sounded right up my alley. However, the book left me disappointed when it did not match its premise.

The book starts on a reasonably positive note in the first section, which recounts Arianrhod’s myths and lists suggested ways of working with the Goddess. The author has an easy to follow informal tone and I appreciated that he emphasised real life working to manifest desires, not just passively sitting by expecting the magic to do all the work. He seemed to have a decent working understanding of Arianrhod’s myths and how they apply in real-life situations. Nothing in here is groundbreaking but there are some potentially effective meditations and it’s easy to understand. I had high hopes that the book would expand upon these principles.

The second section covers the Tree of Life. Unfortunately, this segment is where the book falls down significantly. The explanations of the Tree of Life are unclear and lacking in detail. My understanding is that that Tree of Life is complicated and that it takes a lot of study and practice to fully understand. For that reason, I was disappointed in the short, simple paragraphs discussing the general meaning of each part of it. For something so complex, I expected a more careful exploration. I often felt the author was repeating facts rather than exploring or explaining them.

Additionally, I found the author’s strict adherence to a masculine/feminine dichotomy and other gender binary stereotypes to be problematic and possibly alienating to one who does not identify with either named gender or as more than one. I saw no suggestion that a woman or man could embody other qualities than those traditionally seen as “feminine” or “masculine.” He actually actively discusses the duality of gender as a universal truth and emphasises the necessity of this duality in creation. I understand that this is a traditional Kabbalistic belief but I’ve seen many Kabbalists and magical workers expand these beliefs to include a less black and white practice or system. They treat these things as symbolic representations of deeper mysteries, whereas I felt this book presented them as literal fact.

The book ends with a list of suggested spells that draw from both segments. I presume this is the “manifesting desires” portion of the text, given that it was only talked about in theory in the previous chapters. This might have been fine in another book but not in one actually titled Manifesting Desires. I expected more instruction than a list of spells and some theoretical, albeit wise, advice about doing the physical work and being careful how you word a spell.

To reiterate, the biggest problem with this book is that it doesn’t meet its stated goal of teaching how to use the myths of Arianrhod and the Tree of Life to manifest one’s desires. Although the first segment showed promise, the writing doesn’t draw together the two strands; it reads like two books in one. I wanted a much more in depth discussion on manifesting desires with many examples, suggestions on how to improve your practice and maybe even some advice on getting out of situations you don’t desire. I wanted to see Arianrhod’s myths weaved into a larger portion of the text and more connection made between those myths and the use of the Tree of Life. I wanted more and I wanted it done more clearly, tightly and with a broader, less literal interpretation.

Overall, there is nothing new in this book that I haven’t seen explained better elsewhere. The idea was great; the execution let it down.

Two pawprints out of five.

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