Writing on parchment, brewing a magical concoction in a cauldron over an open flame, hand-dipping wax candles to use during ritual…so romantic. But do today's Pagans actually have the time or inclination for such old-fashioned workings?
The great thing about witchcraft is that it's both ancient and modern. You can fully embrace historical practices while staying grounded in our present-day reality. This month we have a few new releases that really get to the heart of a modern witch.
Coming out this month is a truly ground-breaking book on crystals, The Seven Secrets of Crystal Talismans: How to Use Their Power for Attraction, Protection & Transformation. For anyone who's ever read a book on crystals and wondered, "OK, how did the ancient Egyptians know what to use lapis lazuli for, and does all this old lore really apply to me?" this is the book you should check out. Certified gemologist Henry Mason offers thoroughly modern explanations of how crystal talismans work—information that the ancients couldn't have known. For example, the crystal lattice structure varies from mineral to mineral—turquoise is triclinic and therefore acts as a barrier, which is why it's a great talisman for safe travel. Sturdy monoclinic minerals like jade, malachite, and moonstone are known for their protection in the physical world and the spiritual one. Stones like rubies, hematite, and tourmaline act as seekers and simplifiers due to their hexagonal structure. But then Mason takes it even further, comparing crystals' colors and chemical properties (oxides, sulfides, carbonates, etc.) to their metaphysical functions. Finally, he supplies color charts so that you can easily find the best mineral—among hundreds—to suit your needs, and gives a new spin on how to empower them with your intent. This is a great book for modern witches who do like "real world" facts and information once in a while!
Speaking of modern witches, what could be more modern than taking courses on Wicca over the Internet? Three of Llewellyn's April new releases are books written for students of WitchSchool, the first truly online school dedicated to Wicca, Paganism, and magical thought. When used in conjunction with the school, completion of the courses of study and the exercises in Witch School First Degree, Witch School Second Degree, and Witch School Third Degree confers ceremonial degrees upon the reader. Of course, you don't need to be a student of the online school to read these books and learn more about the Correllian tradition of Wicca as taught by WitchSchool.
In May we have a book coming out that is very dear to my heart. As soon as I saw this proposal I knew we had to publish it. Faith and Magick in the Armed Forces: A Handbook for Pagans in the Military is truly the first book of its kind, and I am so proud of the work that author Stefani Barner has done in bringing this segment of the Pagan community to light. This is truly a book for the modern witch; the person who acknowledges that, living in a democracy with a non-compulsory military, we are so blessed to have warriors among us who sacrifice their lives and the lifestyles of their families for our greater good. Barner is a military wife and also a member of Military Families Speak Out, so she knows with power comes the responsibility to use it wisely. The book gives sound advice to those thinking of joining the military; lets Pagans know what their rights are in the military regarding religion, sexuality, abuse, political dissent, and much more; and prepares them and their whole families for relocation and deployment. Besides being absolutely practical and full of resources, it also includes spells, meditations, rituals, and altar ideas specifically designed for these tough emotional experiences. There are also interviews with members of the military and their families, including military widow Roberta Stewart, who fought for the pentacle to be approved for military grave markers. This book got a starred review in Publishers Weekly, so you know it's good! Highly recommended for all Pagan military families. (OK, I'll stop gushing now!)
Also in May, the follow-up to Goddess Alive! will be released: Goddess Afoot!, in which author Michelle Skye introduces us to twelve more Celtic and Norse Goddesses. You've probably heard of "high magic" and "low magic," but have you heard of Goddess Magic? In this book you will learn how Goddess Magic strives to connect you to the divine, in a similar fashion to high magic, while creating life-enhancing changes here on Earth, like low magic. Some of the workings include accepting your shadow self, gaining balance, accessing your natural healing ability, increasing your psychic power, and much more. Each chapter includes a pathworking, a meditation, an invocation, and three magical activities. Publishers Weekly writes about Skye, "As in her earlier volume, Skye demonstrates a truly inspired talent for writing guided meditations," and calls her "refreshingly original." I'd have to agree on that one, too!
Two more notable May releases are from British witch Kate West: The Real Witches' Handbook and The Real Witches' Craft. The Real Witches' Handbook is as an absolute beginner's book; outlining what witches believe and how they practice. However, if you're looking for something with a little more substance, The Real Witches' Craft offers a far more in-depth introduction, including dozens of practical workings and rituals to align with the elements, develop your senses, increase your meditation and visualization skills, and more.
Next time I'll have some really groovy summer books to talk about, so stay tuned! In the meantime, have a rambunctious and lovely Beltane!