Archive for the Magickal and Occult Book Reviews Category

Book Review: “Dark Goddess Craft”

Posted in Magickal and Occult Book Reviews on December 26, 2017 by nikkisnature

In my coven, Society of Witchcraft and Old Magick, a lot of us have currently been studying about shadow work and engaging in it, as it is in fitting with the dark time of the year in which we currently find ourselves.  As Witches, we strive to do the personal work that keeps us most in tune with the natural energies and cycles around us, as these cyclical changes are within us all, and reflect universal truths and mysteries that we seek to embody and understand.  We had just read “Shadow Magick Compendium” by Raven Grimassi for a coven book club read, and when I finished that one, I dove into “Dark Goddess Craft” by Stephanie Woodfield.  I was thrilled with what I found, and the comparison between the two books really helped me to see what it was that was so important and well done in Stephanie’s book.  The Grimassi book is good for beginners to the idea of shadow work, and tends to talk about the shadowy aspects of magick from a whole lot of different topical perspectives, but doesn’t actually lead you through or provide any support for the real personal work.  Right away in Woodfield’s book, her tone of writing conveyed how deeply and personally she has done her work and is not afraid to share some of the gritty truth of it.  When working with dark Goddesses (which, as she points out, is often a form of personal shadow work) I have found that plenty of consideration, personal preparation, and even caution is often needed, and I was happy to see Woodfield speaking about this in a forthright manner.  She is honest about the ways in which many of the dark Goddesses interact with humans, letting us know that we have to step away from the idea of simply pleading to these deities to help us with things,  but rather, in working with them, to being ready to “man/woman up”, take a hit, face parts of ourselves that are difficult, prepare for life to change in ways we hadn’t wanted, and have the courage to allow real destruction in order to make room for transformation.  I will admit that my favorite parts of the book are the introductory pages to each section where she speaks from the heart about this work and how she came to experience the dark Goddesses, because I love the style of her writing and in relating to it, felt that we’ve had a lot of similar personal and group experiences with dark Goddess work.  But I also think that this book is simply a valuable piece for any learned Witch to have in his or her magickal library, because it serves as a reference tool on a lovely variety of dark Goddesses, telling about the mythology, traits and magick of each, as well as offering lovely guided meditations that can be used as a start for personal work with any of these deities as desired.  In offering these openings for deep intuitive work, this book goes beyond general concepts and gets the reader really going in terms of considering some of the tougher aspects of shadow work.  Not only that, but Woodfield’s wise words and obvious personal experience are a support to the reader that inspires confidence paired with the necessary cautions for diving in.  I definitely recommend this book to Witches who consider themselves polytheists.  Not only is the reading experience an inspiring one, but you’ll love having the spells, offering and devotional suggestions, meditations and information on your shelf for each of the amazing Goddesses described within.  Enjoy, and Blessed Be!

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You Might Be A Witch: Author Addendum

Posted in Magickal and Occult Book Reviews, Uncategorized on August 30, 2017 by nikkisnature

My first experience with publishing has been really fun and interesting so far.  It has only been a few weeks since I released my short, introductory book, “You Might Be A Witch”.  My goals in writing this book are 1.  to help the public to better understand what modern day witchcraft is to increase acceptance and religious tolerance and 2.  to help readers look for similar threads and sparks of magick in their own lives, also to help us all relate to one another.  To sum up for those who haven’t heard of it or read it, this is a straightforward and accessible book appropriate for anyone to read, and is written in two parts.  The first part is a comparative memoir where I point out interesting psychic and magickal occurrences from various phases of my life and prompt the reader to consider what similar experiences they may have had.  The second part is a simple, brief and very truncated discussion about what types of things modern day witches actually believe and practice.  There is some discussion of ethical approaches, and then a very light-hearted, just for fun “how witchy are you” quiz at the end.

So far, this little book has been received well, with open minds and appreciation by those around me.  It is already quite often being gifted by witches and pagans to the skeptics in their lives, so that more openness and acceptance can be gained among friends and family that don’t understand this path.  I am also already starting to experience something that I’m sure every author goes through, but I never really thought about before.  As I respond to questions about it, and receive my family’s impressions, I am often being given reminders of additional tidbits about my past that would have been great to include.  This must happen all the time, where writers find themselves saying “that would have been a great thing to include in the book!” after it has already been published.  I suppose this is what originally led to the idea of multiple editions…though that is not currently in my plans.

In discussing the book, my mother went on to tell me about the moment of my birth-  a story I had never heard.  She said that I was born, and the nurses wiped me off and put me on my mom’s chest.  I wasn’t crying, or wriggling, apparently, but it was not for any medical issue or lack of health.  She said she had a very strange feeling as I simply looked at her with a serious and somewhat inquisitive face, holding eye contact right away, for what seemed like quite a while.  I ended up being the oldest of three children, and my mom says that the births of my two younger brothers were very smooth and normal, with the usual crying, wiggling, squinty eyes and nursing that usually happens.  But my mom had forgotten about the stoic baby behavior until reading my book.  She also related to me a story from when I was somewhere in the age of eight to ten years old.  I had put on a long skirt for dress-up.  My mom said I looked to her and breathed a sigh of relief and said very wistfully “Ah, I don’t know what it is, but when I wear long skirts I feel so much more like myself”.  She said it was a very odd moment where she felt a sense that even as a child I had a memory of a past life closer to the surface than normal.

In talking about the book with my Dad, he agreed that he never knew I had any tarot cards, and so that whole era of my habitual setting up of gypsy camp and reading the cards still remains a mystery.  My Dad also told me that he and my mom had purchased the house I grew up in from the family of a 98 year-old woman who had died onsite in the house.  I actually remember having conversations with my mom, asking her “Mom, did the lady who used to live here die here?” and she would tell me no.  I think she just didn’t want me to be scared, but I definitely did have those experiences of hearing voices, and I think I was accurately sensing her presence.  Despite all of these oddities about me, they were isolated incidences from the eyes of most, and so I did not appear to be a weird child, or overly psychic, or anything like that.  All of these little things, as well as the events I describe in the book are things that, in various ways, happen to many people.  I reiterate this to point out that I believe we all have threads of psychic ability, energy sensing, expanded consciousness with respect to other realms, and other magickal experiences and abilities.  If you weave them all together, they sometimes result in taking on a life of enchantment as a source of purpose and inspiration, and I call this being a Witch.  Witchcraft is not the path for everyone, of that I am sure.  But I write about this in the hope that readers can recognize that we are really all the same.  We are humans with the same experiences of mystery, having a wide variety of interactions with various combinations of energy and consciousness.  There are many folks out there who claim that their religious path is the one and only correct one, and I know for sure that that cannot be true.  There are many paths to the same place, and we get to choose.  Choose what inspires you and provides you with a sense of wonder and inspiration.  Every moral spiritual and religious path is equally valid in my eyes, and this is the concept that I hope to illuminate.   Thank you for being you-  Blessed Be.

Book Review: “Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires” by Aaron Leitch

Posted in Magickal and Occult Book Reviews on March 24, 2017 by nikkisnature

I came upon this book when I was looking for more information about using approaches from some of the more obscure medieval grimoires in my personal magickal practice.  Since I run a large coven with a longstanding traditional initiation structure, I consider it my responsibility to continue to deepen my own understanding of the oldest magickal sources possible and then to pass my knowledge on to my students.  I have used pieces of magick from “The Key of Solomon the King”, “The Goetia”, “The Black Pullet”, “The 6th and 7th Books of Moses”, “The Book of Abremalin the Mage”, “Raphael’s Book of Ancient Talismanic Magic”, “The Magus” and many more old sources for many years, but never have I attempted the task of following the instructions of The Key or any one grimoire to a tee from the beginning as recommended by the ancient mages.  I was very curious to see what another modern-day magician would have to say on this subject.  I was very impressed and pleasantly pleased right from the beginning as Leitch provided a very thorough and accessible history of what we know of the grimoires and their supposed authors as well as a contextual backdrop for the religious and political climate of the time periods from which they came.  Some of this was information I was never given before in such a manner and it proves to be very important in putting the material into perspective for this day and age.  I particularly enjoyed that Leitch goes on to set out in proving how the grimoires are actually incredibly shamanic in their approaches, and he shows how more ancient longstanding methods of working with spirits are really the continued underpinnings of the grimoiric practices.  It’s funny, because there wasn’t any one thing the author said that was truly new to me, but the way he delivered his logic and facts allowed me to have a lot of moments of clarity and new perspective on how I can integrate a lot of this old magickal material into my existing practice.

Further into the meat of the book, Leitch takes a lot of time to discuss many of the specific tasks from The Key and a few other key works that the magician is supposed to undertake in order to properly prepare him/herself for working with the angelic spirits for magick.  Some of these tasks include long periods of personal preparation-  daily prayers, fasts, lifestyle changes for purity and attunement to spirit.  To a reader of the grimoires it can seem daunting if not impossible.  Only after doing all this is the magician  said to be ready to use all of the planetary seals, call on the angels properly, etc.   What I realized through his telling, though, is that the purpose of all of this dedicated and intricate preparation is to improve both the mental focus and spiritual attunement level of the magician to better prepare him to receive spirit communications.  I realized that the modern day practices prescribed to students in a traditional initiation lineage such as my own coven, the Society of Witchcraft and Old Magick, actually parallel this idea of daily attuning to spiritual energies, honing one’s focusing abilities and working on cleaning up ethics and behaviors to better prepare oneself as a magician.  I have had great success in working with many of the seals and words of the grimoires in my own magick, and realized that though I had never followed the preparations specifically prescribed in the grimoires, that I HAD followed the preparation instructions recommmended in my own lineage tradition for daily ceremony, and that it may have had similar results.

Another thing that Leitch covers in his book is how to make suitable substitutions for some of the grimoiric instructions regarding sacrifice or the obtaining or crafting of other materials for tools or ingredients that don’t seem plausible in the current day.  His discussion of these is very encouraging and gives the reading magician lots of ideas of how to parallel these works in his or her own completely suitable way.  I found it very encouraging and again found myself having moments of clarity on how to incorporate some of these classical techniques for the modern day.  Now Leitch may not agree with me here, but I also felt that in the case of all of the prayers involved, which are predominantly Christian and Hebrew mysticism oriented and with a heavy use of psalms, that some substitutions could be made there as well.  Since I work within a more pan- and  polytheistic spiritual view, my gut feeling is that a lot of the same prayer structures from the grimoires could still be used but saying “the Gods” instead of “our Lord God almighty” and so forth.  Since I have always prayed that way and the seals and words of the grimoires still seem to hold great power for me, I don’t think there is any problem with this.  After all, it is my general belief that all of the various multicultural paths to the divine are equally as valid, and it is up to the practitioner to find the way in which they can fully engage without skepticism, and with fullness of heart and soul.

Studying this book was a true pleasure.  I would heartily recommend it not to my first year students who are engaged in learning the basics of ceremonial magick and foundational information in astrology, Qabbalah, planetary work, etc, but to initiates and already relatively studied practitioners who would like a broader perspective on incorporating the widsom of our oldest magickal gems into their practice.  For those dedicated and seasoned students of the occult who want to deepen their understanding of the grimoires, gain a more integrated historical perspective of these works and ultimately improve upon their own magick, “Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires” will not disappoint.  Many thanks to Aaron Leitch for all of the research and dedication that obviously went into this work.  Blessed Be.