Book Reviews

Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living

With the number of books available nowadays that address the solitary practitioner, it’s surprising to see how very few of them focus on one concrete common fact – that most of us witches (or pagans) do not live in a small cottage in the countryside, surrounded by fairy-tale forests and herbs. That many of us live in flats, inside blocks, in the middle of the city. If you are lucky enough, you’ll have a small house with a garden. If you are even luckier – and your job allows you to do so – you’ll live in the suburbs. Even though most of the books mention that likely possibility, they do it in a rather ‘patronising’ way – IF one cannot go out to gather herbs, there’s the ‘possibility’ to use those in our kitchen. Personally I consider that that’s showing the reader that “it’s not very nice” but “it should work”, making him or her not appreciate what she’s using and regarding it as a “second hand element” (and we all know how important it is, for our practice, the feeling we put into something.)

In Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, Melusine Draco dedicates the whole of this small volume to address this situation. Mainly offering a useful way to develop our Craft practice in what she describes as “an hostile environment” – instead of just stating the obvious inconveniences that we have. The surprising bit is that she doesn’t achieve this through the seeking of ‘exceptions’, of ‘country-like’ places in the city – she encourages the witch to rediscover the city, to look into it, and to change her (or his) attitude rather than getting stressed by the daily noises coming from the street. In short, she encourages us to make the best of what we’ve got. She guides us to small places in our city or our own house that may have been overlooked. In each chapter she also offers a useful exercise related to the subject.  Alder Lyncurium – Wiccan Rede

This book offers a starting point for how to do this in a modern city environment. It is very much about my own kind of magic, the kind I try to write about in A Bad Witch’s Blog – practical witchcraft for the real world. I recommend this book for any witch who is struggling to find their magical way in the big city. Lucya Szachnowski/Starza | Badwitch

Adapt and thrive. That’s the message traditionally-trained Craft practitioner Draco has for readers. Rather than withdrawing to practice time-honored rituals in secret, she encourages modern witches to open their windows, explore their neighborhoods, put a pot of herbs on their kitchen window sills, light a candle, and summon their ingenuity.

Carefully distinguishing her practice from Wicca, she encourages modern witches to care less about worshipping nature with elaborate rituals, and to focus instead on developing a personal relationship with the physical environment. She thinks of herself as a caretaker, rather than a manipulator, of the natural world. There’s a lyrical quality to her writing which lifts the reader into the modern magical world she describes. She provides basic information about herbs, magic pouches, talismans, pagan holidays, spells, and pathworking. More importantly, this is a handbook for restoring sanity to an overcrowded and cramped urban lifestyle. The magic ingredients are creativity and fun. Consider displaying it with books about herbs, urban birdwatching, city parks, and Feng Shui.  Anna Jedrziewski |

This book is for the student of Traditional Witchcraft, not Wicca or other neo-pagan disciplines (although it is certainly useful for all). The distinction is thoroughly explained, much to the readers benefit. If you’re tired of books filled with the usual neo-pagan fluff and are looking for something that gets “right down to it,” this is the book for you. It is accessible, well written, enjoyable, and often humorous. The common sense approach makes the reader the beneficiary of the authors many years of magical experience, and it quickly becomes obvious that she has already done a lot of the trial-and-error work that will save the reader/practitioner a lot of valuable time.

As the title suggests, it is for students and practitioners living in urban areas. Not only does it dispel the myth that one has to live in the middle of the forest to be a “real witch,” but offers a lot of valuable advice for a successful practice while living in the city. The book is being republished as Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, but the contents will be identical, so dont spend the extra money purchasing a used copy. A pleasure to read and a treasure of useful information and techniques!  Chris Grabarkiewctz USA

The author of these books was an initiate of the late Bob Clay-Egerton’s Coven of the Scales and she has been a practising occultist, magical teacher and writer on esoteric subjects for over twenty years. These two books are the first volumes in a series on modern traditional witchcraft for beginners. Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living, as the title suggests, is a guide to being a witch today in a town or city environment and still connect to nature, the elemental forces and the land. The other book is for those who live near or often visit the coast and wish to magically commune with the sea and its energies. You will not find any Wiccan Rede or invocations to Cernunnos and Ceridwen here and the featured charms are mostly Christianised ones as traditionally found in historical witchcraft. Both of the books are written in a down-to-earth style with a refreshing common sense approach and are rooted in the folk traditions and Old Ways of the British Isles. Recommended.  Michael Howard : The Cauldron

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