Egyptian Revenge Spells: Ancient Rituals for Modern Payback by Claudia R. Dillaire

Egyptian Revenge Spells
Egyptian Revenge Spells

Obviously this is a tantalizing title, especially for those of us who were taught that practicing negative magick is wrong. Its forbidden fruit, now isnt it, yet as a close friend of mine believes, the motivation for most spellcasting is revenge.

While this book is a fun idea and the title page does warn the reader (in very small print) that it is for entertainment only I have to say I think the author is serious about this stuff rather than just being arch. However, with names of revenge spells such as Cool Me Off and Kick to the Curb you know that Ms. Dillaire was having fun with her ideas and her writing style is entertaining.

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Bless This Food: Ancient and Contemporary Graces from Around the World by Adrian Butash

Bless This Food
Bless This Food

Bless This Food was a delightful surprise for me. I thought the book would be more of a reference work, something I’d use like a dictionary. I thought I’d look up a particular prayer in the index, read the one prayer, and then close the book until the next time I wanted a new food

I’m glad I was wrong. It is more like a fine meal, where every garnish on the plate and every aroma commands attention along with the food.

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Eastern wisdom, modern life: Collected talks 1960-1969 by Alan Watts

book coverI first learned about Buddhism in an undergraduate course on Eastern philosophy. The class read the work of a Zen master, which we all found dense, complicated, and perplexing yet interesting. To save us the several anguishing hours trying to interpret eastern philosophy with a Western mind, I wish that we had read Alan Watts’ book. Watts writes about Buddhism is simple and eloquent language using Western terms to explain contrary eastern perspectives: in the Western world were accustomed very much to thinking of spiritual things as being set apart and distinctly separate from everyday lifeas out of this world,and not of the natural world.But in the art of Chinese and Japanese Zen Buddhism we see a concentration on everyday life. And even when the great sages of Buddhism are depicted, they are depicted in a secular style, just like ordinary people (p. 24).

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Quest for the Crystal Castle by Dan Millman

book coverYou’ve just finished an inspiring book and you think to yourself, wow — what I wouldn’t give to have known these ideas when I was a kid. This sometimes happens if you come to neopaganism or any of the other spiritual paths far from the mainstream later in your adult life. Dan Millman gives the next generation of spiritual seekers the chance to get acquainted with new ways of thinking in Quest for the Crystal Castle, his second children’s book based on the spiritual classic The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.

In this sequel to Secret of the Peaceful Warrior, protagonist Danny Morgan begins his Saturday fearful that it’s going to be “one of those days” where nothing goes right and nothing interesting happens. His adventure begins soon enough as he seeks out the grandfather of his good friend Joy, a mysterious man named Socrates, or Soc.  Fans of Way of the Peaceful Warrior will remember that when Socrates is around, adventure comes unexpectedly.

Danny finds himself in a mysterious land where a beautiful glowing castle beckons. He chooses to embark alone on a perilous journey through a forest that seems fraught with puzzles that he finds himself drawn to solve. Along the way he helps new and old friends and learns about his own inner fortitude.

Crystal Castle has intriguing images and descriptions for those as young as 4 years. The bigger picture of appreciating the journey, not the destination, may be lost on those that young, but there are good lessons in kindness and courage appropriate for that age. The language is rich enough to appeal to middle school kids, too. Each page is illustrated lavishly and realistically, enhancing the idea that Danny’s adventure, too, is realistic and believable.

While listening to the lessons that are told are hardly all that is required in order to suddenly achieve the change that can happen in one’s own outlook, the book poses an argument against itself. Before Danny’s journey, Soc points out the endeavors of some ants and how it would irreparably cripple them to assist their work in moving crumbs of food closer to their mound. Would this observation also hold true for introducing spiritual insights to inexperienced young people, depriving them of the “ah-ha” moments that often come well into maturity?

Nevertheless, Quest for the Crystal Castle is a beautifully written and illustrated story that can be enjoyed again and again by every member of the family. Like its predecessor for adults, Crystal Castle has the potential to change young lives.

The Shamanic Witch: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Earth and Other Realms by Gail Wood

cover of Shamanic Witch

It’s easy to get a bit restless as a witch. Sometimes it seems like it’s just one sabbat after another, with the same quarter calls, the same invocations. There can be so many moments of joyful community but there can also be drama or no connection at all. And being a solitary practitioner can feel too isolated without fellowship, input, inspiration from like-minded seekers. It’s easy to lose your way, get caught up in the mundane, lose your connection to the divine within and the mysteries and messages of the unseen world.


Many traditions of Wicca and witchcraft solely emphasize the fertility aspect of practice, the Wheel of the Year, and work with the Lord and Lady. It’s a process of coming to understand the mysteries of life and death, growth and decay, through observation and experience over time. Traditions that work more with ecstatic energy seem to depart from familiar Wiccan ritual structure, and can feel a little too alien or devoid of those rhythms and structures that drew you to the Craft in the first place. Could there be a way to walk among the wise ones from other realms instead of only requesting their presence and supervision? Is there a way to be even closer in tune with the undulating changes of the earth and its creatures and the healing that can come with that relationship? Gail Wood says “yes” in her third book,The Shamanic Witch, an exploration of the places where shamanic journeying can intersect with Wiccan ritual.

According to Wood, the healing possiblities of shamanic work are a natural extension of the skills and practices already cultivated by witches. Witches are naturally open and in tune with the energy of the universe. Shamanic work takes it several steps further by allowing the individual to discover and enhance their interaction with the unseen world through shifting consciousness at will and by inviting in spiritual guides, helpers, and tools. It is a path of personal power where the witch is invited to heal himself, then heal the world.
The Shamanic Witch is a treasure trove of journey narratives, ritual outlines, and exercises to make connections to your own power animal, power song, inner goddess or god. The exercises to explore your drum and rattle are exquisite and inspired — a witch can use these same techniques to develop a closer connection to any of her tools. Wood, a self-described “rowdy goddess,” writes in a very engaging yet comfortingly concise language. She emphasizes that shamanism is a practice, not a belief structure. Wood also takes care to give you a good foundation of information on the historical shaman and how to understand and avoid cultural misappropriation.
Wood does an excellent job of defining her terms and explaining the various practices to which she refers, whether they are traditional Wiccan skills or otherwise. However, the book would probably be best suited to someone with at least a beginning familiarity with Wiccan ritual, tools, and ethics. The final third of the book outlines rituals for a variety of needs, from celebrating the body as divine to protecting one’s property. Wood’s rituals are very strongly Wiccan with occasional nuances that are obviously shamanic in origin, such as calling on quarter totems.
Perhaps the most exciting and inspiring aspect of Wood’s exercises is how truly individual and individually validating they are. There are infinite reasons and no reasons at all needed to journey to other worlds and even more possibilities in what one can learn on his journey. Wood takes care to note that, no matter how one experiences messages received during a journey or meditation, they are valid and useful. All too often it’s easy to feel as though you’re “doing it wrong” because you’re not watching your guided meditation unfold around you in technicolor and surround-sound. Not only is this level of detail not necessarily common among all levels of meditative accomplishment, it doesn’t even have to be a goal. Wood explains that, like the individual ways a person learns best, every person experiences their journey in their own way — as clairvoyants, clairaudients, or clairsentients. Each journey is important and informative in some way, whether it’s frustrating and full of distractions or shockingly profound.
Shamanic witchcraft is an ideal path for diving directly into deep spiritual waters. Where Wicca can give you a way to construct a telephone booth in which you can place a call to the gods, framing your practice within a shamanic healing context can be like setting up your own home phone line, ready to receive messages on a constant basis. Wood sums up best the benefits from this path when she says, “as you develop a regular schedule of journeys and your shamanic trance meditations grow, you will feel the pull of the drum, the heartbeat of the Universe.  You will find that you will move naturally into the harmony of the Universe.  You will feel the interconnectedness of life, and know that you are not alone.”

Covencraft: Witchcraft for Three or More by Amber K

Whether you’re searching for a coven or hoping to build one from
scratch, you’ll no doubt find valuable information in Amber K’s
book, Covencraft. Many books purport to be as useful to beginners as to
those further along on their path, but this 500 page tome really
fulfills the promise. For beginners, it outlines what being a witch is
about, providing everything from a cosmological overview of the
religion to ritual outlines for just about every imaginable category.
It also conveys a bit of wicca’s history, and while Amber K’s unbroken
tradition slant is not one that I personally ascribe to, she can be
credited for noting when there are conflicting opinions on certain
details so that readers are at least aware of them. The real treasure
of this book, however, is her mechanic’s approach to writing about the
actual practice of the Craft. While many books provide ritual scripts,
meditations, spells, correspondences, philisophical musings and the
like, Amber K gives the reader the usual array plus
a down and dirty lesson on the dynamics of how people and groups
actually work. Everything from budgeting and filing for nonprofit
status with the IRS to how to handle specific types of group conflict
are covered. For example:

    Rosetta Stone is the High
    Priestess of Small Unidentified Pond Creatures Coven. She is very
    capable and efficient, and somewhat lacking in trust that anyone else
    can do a project as well as she can. . .but clearly Rosetta is stressed
    and overworked and some of the other members’ skills are underutilized.
    What do you do?

Beyond just ritual, the covens
are provided with a variety of exercises designed to help the group get
to know one another and develop bonds. After all, religion isn’t only
about gods and goddesses, it’s about people. You can talk about
ethereal concerns all you want, but that won’t solve the conflict
between your covenmates over what to bring to the potluck after next
week’s esbat!

To Light A Sacred Flame: Practical Witchcraft for the Millenium by Silver Ravenwolf

In the best of all possible worlds, a young witch can find a mentor to guide her as she learns to grow her personal power, celebrate divinity in ritual and cast spells to enrich her world and help others. But, more often than not, individuals find themselves turning to books to learn these new skills.

Silver Ravenwolf has established herself as a virtual mentor to hundreds of new witches, with her wildly popular To Ride a Silver Broomstick and To Stir a Magic Cauldron. Her newest in this series, To Light a Sacred

Flame, continues on in this vein, presenting innovative Craft ideas in practical language and methods.

Silver begins her book in a casual writing style that is, at best, approachable, but can become distracting and dulls her credibility. But this casual style pops up less often as the book continues, in favor of more straight-forward information. She sometimes seems to stray into New-Age cheerleading and at other times you almost wonder if she was thinking in terms of another of her books more recently released, Teen Witch. But she eventually finds her best voice and the lighter conversation fades considerably to lead the reader on to pure learning.

The first section in the book is devoted to building personal power and self-confidence. This approach is an excellent one, as it builds a good basis for doing exercises and group work presented later in the book. It’s also helpful for the beginner to learn to identify self-created energy so they’ll be better equipped to identify energy created by other sources.

At first glance, the exercises and methods might seem too contrived or

over-the-top. But when you look at the collection of correspondences,

meditation methods, energy work and spells, you see that Silver’s

strength is her ability to demystify the Craft. Those individuals for whom

complex ceremony and ritual is discomforting or just “doesn’t feel

right”, Silver’s suggestions are more down-to-earth and practical. Most

things are meant to be done within a few minutes, regardless of your

location. A chain of paperclips becomes a reminder of accomplishments, a

bad habit is written on a scrap of toilet paper and flushed away. A

packet of salt, a lighter, a vial of water and a small feather represent

the four elements hidden away in an office desk drawer.


Most of what Silver teaches is not terribly new for Craft literature. She

includes generous helpings of classic Wiccan practice, from

Alexandrian-style formal ritual to chants that will be familiar to many.

However, one subject that may raise and eyebrow is her use of Angel

energy. Working with Angels is not an unheard of method in the Craft.

But, with the relatively recent resurgence in Christian artifacts geared

toward the masses, from gold-plated Angel pins at the drugstore impulse

bin to the popular TV show, Touched By An Angel, working angel energy may

take some getting used to for many witches. Although Silver spends a good

many words describing ways in which to work with various angels, this

aspect of the book shouldn’t scare away those who prefer not to work in

that way. I might add that Silver is correct to indicate that using Angel

energy is an excellent way to frame ritual work for family and friends

who may be Christian or at least a little wary of Wicca. Not many people

fear angels.


Finally, Silver includes scripts for several popular types of rituals,

including Wiccaning and handfasting, performed in a variety of ways, from

the highly formal to spontaneous. These rituals are ready to go right out

of the book (just add coven) but can also be modified by a more creative

Wiccan. A handful of correspondence tables and other things for your Book

of Shadows completes the book.


Sacred Flame could, technically, be appropriate for someone very new to

the craft, but I wouldn’t recommend it. A more experienced witch can

benefit from the variety and number of ritual, devotional, and

self-enrichment ideas, but would be better equipt to separate Silver’s

own preferences from the information and take the useful morsels. Since

most readers are probably self-taught and accostomed to building

confidence by reading more books (you know who you are — I’m one, too),

Sacred Flame does an excellent job in giving enough examples, ritual

ideas and exercises to prompt the reader to get their nose out of the

pages of the book and to their altar to try something new.


In her acknowledgements section, Silver mentions that this book is the

culmination of a lifetime of work an Craft practice and it shows. Sacred

Flame is a rich, densely packed compilation of handy things to try,

correspondences, specific ritual ideas in addition to instruction. This

book would make a handy addition to any witch’s library.



Legend: The Arthurian Tarot and Keeper of Words (companion book) by Anna Marie Ferguson

I chose this book because of my love for tarot. I was not disappointed.
Anna Marrie Ferguson demonstrates her passion for this subject by
intertwining her knowledge of Arthur and tarot throughout this well
thought out book. She gives each card a meticulous meaning as she takes
you on a journey through the life and times of King Arthur. Each card
represents a person or a story that draws you into the legend, making
it easy to absorb both the cards and their meaning. The description of
each illustration is a guide to the symbolism. Here’s an example:

    The lady of the lake appears to
    Arthur, representing cosmic law. She is a reminder that there is a
    mightier court than the king’s justice.
    In light of his past deeds the lady of the lake deems him worthy of her
    seal, presenting him with Excalibur and the scabbard.

    Her figure embodies the scales of
    justice as she weighs the virtues of sword and scabbard. The
    determination and decisive actions of the sword are in equilibrium with
    the mercy and protection of the scabbard. this represents a well
    balanced person who can be entrusted to carry out responsibilities in
    an honourable manner.

I enjoyed Ferguson’s
explanations of the reversals of each card as well as the short intro
she provided to the basic meaning of each suit(cups, swords, etcetera).
She also gives an example reading for three different kinds of tarot
spreads: horseshoe, astrological, and Celtic.

I strongly recommend this book
to beginners. The stories linking each card to the illustrations make
it very easy to commit meanings to memory. However, I would also
recommend it to anyone else — If you have any interest in Arthur it
will be even more appealing. The illustrations are very well done,
making it not just a tarot deck but a compelling story unfolding before

  • Buy the Book & Deck Edition 
  • Goddess Companion: Daily Meditations on the Feminine Spirit by Patricia Monaghan

    With The Goddess Companion, Patricia Monaghan has delivered a daybook

    of ancient celebration, a touchstone of daily inspiration, and a bountiful

    reference book.

    Monaghan, one of the premier authors of goddess-focussed resources, has

    compiled hundreds of prayers, chants, and folk songs from such diverse

    sources as Lithuania to Japan to the Christian bible to native Alaska. Each

    is a potent invocation to the goddess in her mother, lover, warrior, and

    other aspects and lends itself well to public or private ritual recitation.

    Monaghan’s own text instructs the reader on the history of a particular

    piece, a celebration commemorated, or a new way of embracing goddess energy

    and blessings into our lives.

    Other books by Patricia Monaghan

  • Goddesses & Heroines
  • The Goddess Path
  • Magical Gardens
  • Meditation
  • The Office Oracle
  • Serious students of cultural history may find fault with some of the

    liberties Monaghan takes with the prayers. But this is clearly a work of

    inspiration, intended to engage the mind, please the ear, and uplift the

    heart. The reader can excuse Monaghan’s choices to reword a passage to

    emphasize the feminine or impose a rhyme to improve the rhythm of the piece.

    And Monaghan makes no attempt to hide her decision to make changes in the


    Readers can take their time savoring a morsel of goddess lore every day or

    can jump to an appropriate passage with the help of three indexes, by

    culture, subject and goddess. While Monaghan refrains from giving

    suggestions on a particular regimine for using the prayers as devotionals,

    she does provide hints on easing ritual into daily life in small ways. Not

    only can the reader learn about hundreds of goddess aspects and the ways in

    which various cultures celebrated them, but she can gain insight on the

    turning wheel of the year. Move from a blossoming Homeric hymn to Demeter

    March 4,


    Imagine this: the maiden goddess playing in a flowery

    meadow, together with the full-bodied daughters of the

    ocean. They were gathering flowers: just-open roses,

    crocuses, and dark violets from the soft grass, and lilies

    and hyacinths.

    to a Pima rain-making song June 8,


    The light dawns and finds us singing,

    singing as the corn waves tassels at us.

    The dark falls and finds us singing,

    singing while the squash waves leaves at us.

    to a medieval Irish death chant October 31,


    Go home now, to the mother of winter.

    Go home now, to your sprintime home.

    Go home now, to the mother of summer.

    Go home now, to your autumn home.

    to a Pueblo dawn call to winter feast December 11,


    Draw clouds forth from the sky’s quarters.

    Draw clouds full of snow to us here!

    Snow falling now means water in summer.

    Come ice, cover my fields!

    The Goddess Companion offers a well-paced journey into self-discovery

    and personal transformation through feminine appreciation. It is a

    cornucopian addition to any magickal or mundane bookshelf.

    Witches’ Night Out A novel for teens by Silver Ravenwolf

    Let me start by saying I am nearly 40 years old, and I have never read
    of Silver RavenWolf’s books before. I know her work is wildly popular
    witches, especially her writings for teenagers. I am a witch, and I
    teenage girls’ series novels, so I had high hopes for this little book,
    the first of a series about teen witches. Even though I’m not a
    I had hoped I would enjoy and resonate with the story. I am as
    engrossed in
    the Harry Potter series as any 11-year-old out there!

    But, alas, I did not enjoy this book. I should have been able to tell from

    the cover what was to come. It shows a group of five teenagers through a

    window, dressed in midriff-baring street clothes, with the most glamorous

    one front and center, her arms stretched out. The four others

    are slouching in the background with their hands in their pockets; the young

    man even has a hat on, backwards. The illustrator either has no occult

    knowledge, or had no interest in portraying a witches’ coven raising energy

    in an authentic manner.

    And the story is not much better. The story centers around Bethany Salem

    (what a nice witch name, don’t you think?), a sixteen-year-old who just lost

    her boyfriend in a car accident and is determined to use her coven of five

    teenagers to catch the person who killed her boyfriend. Her favorite form of

    magick seems to be curses — definitely not ‘harm none, for the good of

    all.’ She breaks the nose of one character in a brawl while invoking the

    Dark Mother, and cuts the face of her teacher while invoking the Dark


    There were also small details that distressed me. A male cat, her familiar,

    named Hecate? Why didn’t RavenWolf pick a name befitting a male cat, rather

    than name a cat after a formidable goddess? Now if Bethany should ever want

    to invoke the goddess Hecate in a circle (which she doesn’t in this book),

    she will have an imagery of the cat in her mind, at least at first, because

    she uses the cat’s name on a daily basis. Another detail that bothered me

    was the appearance of a wart on the cheek of a rather unlikeable character

    who may have some occult talent of her own. So witches are warty, cruel


    I just could not get into this book, nor feel any great warmth or concern

    for the characters. The teens did not seem to talk to each other in

    teen-talk that felt authentic. The slang seemed dated. They didn’t

    seem to interact like friends; when another of them is in a car accident,

    they don’t seem to show much immediate concern, and not until six pages

    later do they even explore what injuries had occurred. And there were twists

    and turns to the story line that had completely unrealistic results. Someone

    dies in our heroine’s bedroom while she is in there, and no one explores the

    possibility of murder? It becomes known to the parents of these five that

    they are practicing witchcraft, and only one of the sets of parents shows

    concern? There is no punishment for brawling and breaking someone’s nose?

    Unless you are a diehard Silver RavenWolf fan, I’d say skip this book. I

    don’t see anything about this book that would be enjoyable for teenage

    witches. If you’re looking for magickal suspense novels for teenagers, I

    think Lois Duncan’s novels (“Locked in Time,” “Stranger with my Face,” and

    A Gift of Magic“, for instance), are much more authentic to a teen’s

    experiences. And I adored Caroline Cooney’s time traveling series of three

    books, “Out of Time,” “Both Sides of Time,” and “Prisoner of Time.” Any of

    these titles will give you much more enjoyment than RavenWolf’s story.