A Book-Worm’s Eye View

Writing about witchcraft is easy.  Finding the right theme isn’t.  Any fool can pass themselves off as a witch but finding an informative and entertaining approach for a new book is a whole different cauldron of knowledge.  Personally, I feel there should be a magical purpose behind any book on Craft – otherwise it’s all been said before – and usually better …

Traditional Witchcraft for Fields & Hedgerows had to come since the series needed a month-by-month witch’s calendar and it was difficult to find material that hadn’t been regurgitated in countless other titles about the witches’ year.  For this book I settled for a ‘treasury’ format – a monthly potpourri of country-lore, superstitions, hearth magic, recipes, weather-lore, tree-lore, Circle-working and spell-casting – all part of the witch’s or the countryman’s craft.  Being a born and bred countrywoman much of what I write has its roots in rural living and is part of that rapidly disappearing world that has kept the practice of rural witchcraft alive long after its application vanished from daily living.  Hopefully the book acts as a guide to some of the traditional parts of our witch culture including some of the lesser known customs.

The problem we encounter with this kind of writing, of course, is that the modern pagan community is often at odds with the ‘hunting, shooting, fishing’ – not to mention the ‘red in tooth and claw’ – aspects of country living.  I was once accused of advocating ‘black magic’ in quoting from the English Huswife of 1615 that advised those infected with the plague to try applying hot bricks to the feet and, if this didn’t work, ‘a live pidgeon cut in two parts’.  This was a cure tried on Catherine of Braganza and recorded by Samuel Pepys in his diary on the 19th October 1667 that ‘pigeons were put to her feet’. Actually, pigeons were a surprisingly common ‘ingredient’ in the medicine of the time and were even recommended for various conditions in the official pharmacopoeia (catalogue) of sanctioned remedies.  Again, it was a case of a misreading of the text but it still makes me wonder how a common 17th-century folk-medicine practice can be misinterpreted as a 21st-century ‘black magic’ rite – unless it’s deliberately misunderstood!

The first in the series to reach best-selling status was Traditional Witchcraft for Woods & Forests: A Witch’s Guide to the woodland with guided meditations and pathworking …  This book needed a different approach and so Hunter’s Wood came into being. Hunter’s Wood does not exist in the ‘real’ world — or rather, different parts of it exist in different locations. Neither is the practice of Wood-Craft restricted to any particular witchcraft or pagan tradition since a wooded landscape is pertinent to every creed and culture since ancient times.

For the purpose of visualisation, meditation and pathworking, however, I decided to use natural broad-leafed woodland, since the fauna and flora of the forest have always played an important role in traditional witchcraft. Many of the ingredients for a witch’s spells and charms come from woodland plants and trees, while the fauna offers unique opportunities for divination and augury. Hunter’s Wood can be recreated on the inner planes by using magical techniques, so that even those witches living in urban surroundings can take to the woodland paths whenever they choose … and perhaps come to understand more about traditional wood-Craft and country ways.

Tradition Witchcraft for Fields & Hedgerows and Traditional Witchcraft for Woods & Forests by Melusine Draco are published by Moon Books in paperback and e-book format. http://www.moon-books.net

Nearly two decades in print … and still as popular!

Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore was always a best-seller as far as the old ignotus press was concerned, even finding favour with the Forestry Commission and the National Trust.  The compilation was a labour of love and even more so when a revised and expanded edition was re-released in 2016 …

It is perhaps surprising to learn that only thirty-five species of tree are indigenous to the British Isles. The following are common native trees that the natural witch should be able to recognise and utilise for magical purposes, although strictly speaking the blackthorn, ivy, spindle, heather, gorse and elder are classed as shrubs, their place as sacred or magical trees cannot be ignored. And so their addition brings the number up to forty of the most common that would have been familiar to the indigenous people of these islands. Neither should we ignore the parasitic mistletoe, and the ‘vine’ whose presence is more complex since it is listed separately from ivy in the Ogham tree alphabet – but it brings our total of magical native ‘trees’ to forty-two.

Even today, few places can rival an English oak wood in early summer for peace and beauty with its carpet of primroses and bluebells. Or the cathedral-like majesty of the autumn beech wood with the sun’s light filtering through the leaves. Or the brooding quiet of the ancient holly wood. Perhaps it is not surprising that our remote ancestors performed their acts of worship in forest clearings and woodland glades, for this is where they came face to face with ‘Nature’ – however they chose to see it.

What is hard to understand is the modern trend for many pagan practices to ignore our native trees and include introduced species into their tree-lore, despite the fact that they profess to be following the beliefs of the indigenous people of ancient Britain. This is, of course, understandable in the case of the rare strawberry tree, for example, which can now only be found growing naturally in Ireland – but where is the alder and the beech? Why is ellen-wood often listed among the nine sacred woods suitable for the Beltaine-Fire when any seasoned countryman would tell you that it can never be burned without some risk to hearth and home?

So come and walk with us awhile … take my hand, child, and I will take you safely through the Wild Wood.

 Root & Branch by Melusine Draco is published by Ignotus Press UK and available direct from the printer at a reduced price https://www.feedaread.com/books/Root-and-Branch-British-Magical-Tree-Lore-9781786974471.aspx and in e-book format from Kindle-Amazon.

Books News

Really going to be busy pruning away at the FB branches and getting rid of the dead wood. What we should be left with are the various pages relating to books and the activities of Ignotus Press UK that are also linked to the Blog posts. I spend more time checking over the postings and feel less and less inclined to produce stuff for FB. All the books will retain their own pages for current book news (Ignotus, the Hugo Braithwaite Mysteries, Temple House Archive and the Vampryre’s Tale) which will be easier to update.

The book posting and book news will move over to the Ignotus Press FB page and we would suggest that if you haven’t, then signed up for the Coven Cafe Culture FB page and the MD and CoS Blogs for more up-to-date stuff. Watch this space …


The Yuletide season has begun with snow on the mountains and rib-roast on order to celebrate the Winter Solstice.  Wishing everyone greetings of the season and here are a few thoughts for New Year’s resolutions and by introducing small sustainable habits they will lead to us feeling good with ourselves:

  1. Start the day off with a smile and extend it to the first person you meet each morning together with a cheery ‘Good morning’ – even if they scowl back in response.
  2. Be determined to arrange five-ten minutes Me-Time every day in the daylight and fresh air even if it’s only drinking a cup of tea in the garden or local park. A ten-minute walk at lunch-time to help balanced the melatonin and serotonin hormones, which help regulate mood and sleep.
  3. Twenty minutes in the sun helps to combat Vitamin D deficiency that causes SAD; in the meantime take Vitamin D tablets until the sun come back.
  4. Spend a few minutes chatting with an elderly person. Remember you could be the only person they’ve spoken to that day.
  5. Make a donation to a charitable cause each month even if it’s only donating unwanted items to a local charity shop.
  6. Remember: kindness costs nothing. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up something from the shop. Good manners and kindness are never out of fashion.
  7. Drink more water because every part of our body needs water to function properly.
  8. ‘Earthing’ has now entered the mainstream and an increasing number of scientific studies have revealed that it has real health benefits. The Earth is like a gigantic battery that generates a natural electro-magnetic charge that is present in the ground.  So, weather permitting, kick off your shoes and reap the benefits.
  9. Say ‘well done’ to yourself for big and small achievements – and share them with someone important who will share in your joy.
  10. Read something new every day so that we stimulate our minds with knowledge. Why not make up your mind to re-read one of the Classics every month and see just how much you enjoy them when looking at them from a different perspective.
  11. Dancing is a great stress reliever, so dig out those old dance tunes and rave away on your own.
  12. Do you have energy-suckers (or ‘psychic vampires’ in your life. We are who we spend time with, so choose your company carefully and surround yourself with those who life you higher.
  13. No body knows everything, and the true treasure of life is that we can learn from each other’s wisdom and experiences. So learn to listen and you’ll learn a lot.
  14. Sleep is when the magic happens when our cells get to renew. Switch off the brain at learn an hour before going to bed, have a hot drink and spray Yardley’s Old English lavender on your pillow.  Put on cosy socks, pyjamas and snuggle under a warm throw by the fire – just because it’s a nice thing to do …

Which is as good a time as any to plug a new book that’s coming out next year The (Inner-City) Path: A Simple Pagan Guide to Well-Being and Awareness published by Moon Books.

Writer@Work : Winter 2019/2020

Having never been one for making extra work for myself, I’m in the throes of getting rid of several Facebook pages that are superfluous to requirements now that the various Blogs are up and running.  We don’t realise just how much time FB eats into the working day and so the first to go is the MD page: followers will be given plenty of warning and the opportunity to join the MD WordPress Blog

On the book front, Pagan Portals: Seeking the Primal Goddess is due for publication on 31st January and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.  Meanwhile in production there’s Pagan Portals – Sacred Landscape: Caves and Mountains (due 28th August) and Pagan Portals – The Inner-City Path: A Simple Pagan Guide to Well-Being and Awareness  (due 25th September 2020).  Work in progress includes Sexual Dynamics in the Circle, Sacred Landscape: Lakes & Waterfalls, The Witches’ Book of Simples and Sacred Landscape: Groves & Forests for Moon BooksWhile the third in the Vampyre’s Tale series is compYeted in the first draft and the fifth in the Temple House Archive will be started in the New year …

Added to this I’m busy helping out with the final stages of Philip and Carrie’s Round About the Cauldron Go, and with the added input from James and Julie, the Magister and Dame of Coven of the Scales, this book can really be classed as a team effort.  Should be ready for publication with Ignotus Press by the Spring Equinox …

A Book-Worm’s Eye View

Writing about witchcraft is easy.  Finding the right theme isn’t.  Any fool can pass themselves off as a witch but finding an informative and entertaining approach for a new book is a whole different cauldron of knowledge.  Personally, I feel there should be a magical purpose behind any book on Craft – otherwise it’s all been said before – and usually better …

The second book in the Traditional Witchcraft series needed to address another aspect of witchcraft that is rarely dealt with and that was the importance of linking with the different ‘tides’ that effect or enhance magical workings.  And what better environment in which to talk about the subject than the seashore? Needless to say that since the entire planet is governed by the various natural tides – oceanic, atmospheric, lunar and solar – the seashore was the focus for this title, even if we didn’t need to live anywhere near the coast to draw upon it.  Again there was nothing similar in print at the time, so there was a gap in the market for a book that took working with moon phases one step further.

The sea is a metaphor for life: it is vast and empty and infinite. The poet Walt Whitman, used the sea as a metaphor for immortality, while Henry David Thoreau used the sea as a metaphor for the enrichment of man’s mind and the limitlessness of his abilities. The two oceans that are a common theme in Thoreau’s work is the ocean which is found on earth and the ocean in the sky which consists of the moon, stars and air. Conceptually, to Thoreau both oceans represented the accessible vastness of the human psyche which man should aspire to engage until he dies.  Magical practice is, however, one big metaphor and therefore this was seen as another exercise on the path of traditional witchcraft.

And yet those with no true experience of magic will always pick up on any negative aspects, which demonstrate just how little they really know.   As I pointed out in CRONE!, I often wonder about some of the people who read my books and who have no compulsion in making scathing comments about the content. I don’t expect everyone to like my style, which can often come across as slightly abrasive, but I don’t appreciate being insulted or belittled by those with scant experience in the ways of magic. It’s usually at this point I will repeat those famous words of Aleister Crowley who was no stranger to a bad press:

Test the average man by asking him to listen to a simple sentence which contains one word with associations to excite his prejudice, fears or passions – he will fail to understand what you have said and reply by expressing his emotional reaction to the critical word…

For example, one reviewer for Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore complained that a spell ‘suggests throwing a plastic container into the sea and letting it go where the tides takes it’, followed by a lecture on ecology – which showed that the complainer hadn’t read the passage properly, or more importantly, even remotely understood its content. “I’m wondering what you are thinking when you recommend throwing anything plastic in the ocean ? We have enough plastic refuse in our Oceans . This is not a very eco friendly recommendation for spell work . I urge you to re think this particular spell in subsequent editions.”

I had included this charm of ‘confusion and chaos’, i.e. a curse that involved throwing a small medicine bottle into the fast current of an estuary to let the natural currents carry it where it would. I pointed out that there was no way of retrieving this charm, so there were to be no knee-jerk reactions when making the decision to cast it. And that if came back on the returning tide, then if must be retrieved and destroyed since the ‘powers that be’ had rejected the appeal. I also explained that retrieval could be extremely dangerous, so there needed to be sufficient justification for casting the charm [curse] in the first place or there could be serious repercussions, and the sender would only have themselves to blame.

The complainer had made several adverse comments (including an Amazon review) about the casting of small plastic medicine bottles into the briny … but nothing at all about cursing, or showing any understanding of the positive-negative aspects of using this method of thowing a curse. Curses generally have a much greater environmental impact than small plastic bottles and the whole point of the exercise was missed because the words: ‘throw a small medicine bottle into the current’ excited the passions of the reader.

There were enough safeguards in the text to make even the most feeble-minded of readers stop and think whether it was worth the effort, or risking the dangers of the sea in order to get even with some real or imagined enemy. And if you’d got it wrong and the sea returned the bottle, then there was even greater risk to life in attempting to retrieve the offending container. And it was hardly envisaged that thousands of junior-league pagans would be cursing and hurling their plastic bottles into the briny just because it was written in a book! All magic has an element of risk to the practitioner and time would be better spent making sure they understood what sort of spell they were undertaking – and if you don’t understand it, then don’t do it!!


The ‘Traditional Witchcraft’ series provides varied information about what it means to be a practising witch in modern times. In places, it feels like a guide, or self-help book. But there is much more to it than that. What strikes me is the amount of science running through the book. To understand nature is to live as a part of nature, and ultimately to become one with its changing patterns and cycles, to synchronise one’s own psychic or magical energy with natural tidal forces and the elements. So a witch, like no other religious practitioner that I’m aware of, must study her environment carefully, and attune her life to it. For a witch devoted to the sea and seashore, that involves learning much about the tides, weather, flora and fauna of the coastline, lunar cycles, as well as the folklore and myths of the sea:

“The world of the sea-witch is not confined to the shore and the water margin. It is a multi-dimensional world of light and shadow, of reality and illusion, where we have moved into the subjective world of the spirit – a rich fishing-ground for those who trawl in these inner seas. The Mystery is now within and around us. By immersing ourselves in the world of myth and legend to such a degree, it has become as tangible to us as the ‘real’ world, forming a continual back-ground to our daily life.”  The learning is multi-disciplinary, and feels almost as if one was studying a textbook written by a poet. Yet the science collated in these pages is interesting, and pragmatic. Intermingled with the factual information is much about rituals, superstitions, beach treasures to collect for magical means and, of course, spell-casting. The witchcraft seems real enough – the engagement in the rituals and practice requiring as much faith as any other religion as to its efficacy.

Not everyone tuned into the sea can physically live near it, of course, and the book also provides advice for the budding sea-witch who lives inland, even in an urban environment. Much information is provided on how to build a sea garden sanctuary, away from prying eyes, to conduct ritual and relax in. The tides still extend their reach inland, as science has shown through its study of the remarkable tidal recalculation made by inland oysters. Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore is like a Radio 4 feature about witches – not that one could ever imagine that happening, or imagine a witch providing ‘Thought for the Day’ on the Today programme! But it has that sense of quiet wonder about it, supported by education, knowledge and, above all, wisdom.  Andy Lloyd Book Reviews

This book recognises that we can’t all live in picturesque cottages by the coast and that if we light a huge Fire of Azrael (made famous in Dion Fortune’s Book The Sea Priestess) on some popular tourist beach we are unlikely to be left alone to peacefully scry into its embers.  Instead, Melusine offers a selection of easy pathworkings and visualisations plus traditional folk spells and that you can whisper quietly or just go through mentally without saying anything aloud while sitting by the seashore or standing before the waves. The book also suggests creating a small garden containing such things as shingle, bits of driftwood, shells and plants that are happy growing on dunes and shingle or inland. Even if you live in a town or city, you can spend time in your sea garden and imagine you are by the coast.  Lucya Szachnowski | Badwitch

Such a wonderful book! It’s definitely a must-have in your sea-witchery library. This book is not just for those who live along the seashore (because it concerns the seashore and weather lore) but also by rivers or estuaries and there is even something for those who live a distance from the sea. You can even find details of how to recreate a sea garden at home.  The author gives us some practical ‘Magical Tasks and exercises’ throughout the book and there is also a little spell book at the back that is full of useful tasks and activities for all occasions. It was amazing. Claudia Loureiro

Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books.  http://www.moon-books-net