This month, we sunk our teeth into some witchy classics, as well as princes, werewolves and farming. We’re an eclectic bunch, really.
Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson
A seminal text in the development of the modern traditional European tradition and interest in the occult, Mastering Witchcraft is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to a range of useful tools and techniques with some ceremonial magic influences.
Although much of the information isn’t sourced and some of the content may be ethically disagreeable to a few readers, it is nonetheless candid, engaging and easy to follow.
At first some information might seem too outdated to be useful, but a surprising amount of substances such ‘roman vitriol’ (copper sulphate) can actually be found at your local hardware store.
A classic well worth reading for the serious beginner and experienced practitioner alike.
The Book of Werewolves: being an account of a terrible superstition by Sabine Baring-Gould – First Published in 1865
When I was a child I was obsessed with reading supernatural horror stories and the creature that would always capture my attention was the Werewolf; humans who change into animal form through magic and the lust of the flesh of other humans. The Book of Werewolves is the classic work on the lycanthrope and is jam-packed with curious folkloric accounts of murder, cannibalism, superstition and magic and contains all the classic tropes that the Werewolf is now known for.
Sabine Baring-Gould was a Priest and the book was first published in 1865 and rather than believe these accounts are genuine cases of magic, he believes that Werewolf accounts are caused by mental illness which was a enlightened view for a Priest to have at the time.
The Crone’s Book of Wisdom, and The Crone’s Book of Words by Valerie Worth
These two books, written from the 60s to the 80s and published by Llewellyn, are the work of an author more well-known for her poetry and works for children than her witchcraft; in fact, ‘mainstream’ reviews of these two of Worth’s books describe them as fanciful and whimsical works of fiction, written in the style of a bygone era.
Worth, born in 1933 in Pennsylvania, wrote prolifically, and published ten collections of poetry and three books for young people, as well as the two reviewed here. In 1991 she was given the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children by the National Council of Teachers of English.
The Crone’s Book of Wisdom is a collection of spells, charms and rituals of magic and magical practice. Worth had interests in astronomy, herbal lore, and talismans, and the Book of Wisdom deals with all of these in an envisioning of the Craft which is not situated within any particular tradition (though it contains aspects which will be familiar to those with interests in Traditional and folkloric witchcraft, Wicca/Wiccanate NeoPaganism, and Ceremonial Magick).
– The Materials of Wisdom, which covers basic plant lore, working tools, robes, balms and tinctures, etc.
– Inscriptions of Power, in which Worth explores the creation and inscription of amulets and talismans,
– Thrice A Dozen Charms – a collection of spells for everything from binding an enemy, to procuring the moon’s aid, gaining immortality, winning love and affection, reveal truth, and break troublesome habits. Her instructions and correspondences are meticulous, and her incantations read beautifully in a combination of Latin and antiquated poetical verses.
– Ceremonies for the Year: twelve rituals for various times of the year, some of which correspond to the eightfold Wheel of the Year, and some which are lunar celebrations.
The Crone’s Book of Words is a collection of poetical spells and incantations. In Worth’s own words from her introduction:
“This book arises from certain premises: that words themselves are a means to emotional control over exterior phenomena; that magic today is the same weapon that it was, even though we lay hands on it in a new spirit, even though we are uncertain of its uses and wield it unwittingly or even unwillingly; that all rituals, ancient and new, spring from the same vision of a possible order to life, an order that heals and reconciles effectively by its very roots in mental process. The rituals, or spells, or poems – and these names can all stand for the same thing – that are set down here deal with aspects of experience at once too simple and too complex for any other approach.”
Worth’s writing is lovely and evocative; the charms and rituals are a pleasure to read, or to inspire a tone for crafting your own.
“White as an eggshell,
White as a bone,
White as chalk
Or the milk of the moon,
Is the written word
Of the ancient Crone,
Who works by wind,
Sun, water, and stone.”
The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency: The Classic Guide for Dreamers and Realists by John Seymour
This book is a delight for those that want to live a little bit more sustainably and independently. While not everything in this book is going to work for everyone there is a lot of great information to be had.
The chapter on poultry was a delight as someone who keeps chickens in their yard it was full of nifty tips. While the ideal scale that is aimed at in this book is for properties larger than your standard block, the principals are sound and there are plenty of ideas that could be scaled back or adapted to a suburban property.
The language is friendly and accessible in this book and doesn’t hide behind pretentious subtext. The author wants us to succeed, and that is clear in the way they communicate ideas and structure the book.
Captive Prince by CS Pacat
This one was recommended by a fellow dabbler in Queer fiction. I was drawn to it because the author is a Melbournian and hey, Queer fantasy. This is the first in a trilogy about the former prince Damen who, after getting betrayed by his brother, is sold into slavery to a neighbouring royal family. Damen is soon entangled in the intricacies of court politics and a play for the throne.
I found muscular, clever, brave and selfless Damen to be something of a Mary-Sue, but his new master Prince Laurent is like a handsome grown-up Draco Malfoy, but twenty times as vicious.
While quite graphic in places, Captive Prince was a good escape. For extra fun, get the Audible version read by the rather pervy Stephen Bel Davies.