This book is SUCH a welcome breath of fresh air! In a culture where Seekers say "Wicca is whatever I want it to be" and "intent is everything", it is refreshing and delightful to find a book of good, solid, Witchcraft that takes the time and attention to detail necessary to lay the groundwork for a sound practice in magic.
To be honest, I have been on-line friends with one of the authors, Dana Corby, for something like 30 years now. We have never met in person, but have corresponded extensively through email and on the phone. Although we are from different Wiccan traditions, our training seems to be very similar on many points.
The care with which they instruct Seekers on constructing magical tools like the magical mirror and fluid condensers takes me right back to my early pre-initiate days and classes with my own High Priestess in constructing my magical tools with care, precision and patience. None of this "put it out in the moonlight to charge and you'll be fine" stuff that is seen so much today. There is beautiful attention to detail in using the tables of correspondence, planetary hours and
materials. SUCH a welcome change from the slapdash, haphazard instructions of many of the modern volumes being produced today. There is REASON those tables of correspondence have been in use for hundreds of years. They work. And it's foolish to try to reinvent the wheel when our ancestors, both physical and spiritual, have done so much of the heavy lifting for us in that regard. There's still plenty left to be discovered, just give yourself the benefit of using Best
Practices that have been in place for centuries by occultists of all stripes and save your energies for new discoveries, built on solid foundations.
The journeys themselves are pure works of art. The journey to meet the Moon sent chills down my spine and was very reminiscent of Andre Norton's writing of the "Old Ones" in her "Witch World" series in that the imagery gives you such a feeling of being transported to a "place that is not a place and a time that is not a time". These are carefully crafted journeys that will transport the Seeker to journeys in other realms that can be exhilarating, instructive, and downright frightening if the proper precautions are not used.
Although many of the techniques and exercises they give are very reminiscent of my own training in the Georgian Tradition, they still have room in this slim little volume for new discoveries. The use of the "Black Watch" as Circle guardian is something I've not come across before, but highly effective and ties right into some groundbreaking work my coven was doing before it disbanded 10 years ago. Intriguing possibilities for sure.
There are only two minor quibbles I have with this book:
1. The use of the "Eko, eko" chant to raise energy. While this chant is utilized in many different traditions of Wicca, including my own, I prefer not to use it because no one really knows for sure what it says. It appears to be written in Medieval Basque as best anyone can guess. Michael Harrison did an excellent analysis of this chant in his "Roots of Witchcraft". But even if it IS in Medieval Basque, I don't speak that language and don't know how to pronounce it properly. I prefer not to use chants and invocations that I can't be sure of properly pronouncing and that I don't know what they say.
2. They suggest that you use cinnabar ore in the preparation of the magic mirror in lieu of the toxic mercury. From what I have read, the cinnabar ore, especially if powdered, is just as bad as mercury and may be considered more toxic by some. In the "notes" section, they do mention this, citing "use caution with gems and metals - they aren't always inert in either water or alcohol and can be toxic", but there are a LOT of folks who never read the notes. If it had been myself, I would have included this warning in the chapter proper, possibly bolded or underlined for emphasis.
I have discussed both these quibbles with Dana, and as I said, they are VERY minor.
All in all, I would HIGHLY recommend this book for any Seeker seriously interested in traditional Wicca and magical tools and workings. It packs a lot into such a small volume and is well worth acquiring. I look forward to more of Dana's works!
~review by: Rowan Moonstone
Authors: Dana Corby and Bjoern-Erik Hartsfvang
The Rantin'Raven, 2020
p. 106, pp. $9.95