Let me start by saying this is a VERY dense book. By that, I mean that it's one of those books that you have to read a bit, then go away and think about it for a while, then come back and read some more. I did find myself somewhat at a loss at his constant referral back to "The Silver Bullet" which up until reading this book, I had never encountered before. Now I'm going to have to go find a copy of that book and read it. It was fascinating to me that he has found a way to incorporate even his negative experiences with Christianity into the positive practice of his work. I, too, grew up in the South, although in the 50s and 60s, and my experiences with Southern Baptist Christianity have NO place in my current magical practice. I do have to admire someone who has come out of those negative experiences and still finds good, solid magical practices and uses for the Bible. Not for everyone, but if he can manage it, more power to him.
For me, perhaps the best part of the book is his advice on working with spirits - whether Familiar Spirits, Land Spirits, or the Witch Father. This path is not for the casual dabbler and Oberon makes it perfectly clear that there's a lot of time and effort that goes into setting up the relationships with the spirits and maintaining those relationships. I LOVE it that he says you may want to work with a particular Land Spirit, but that does not mean they want to work with YOU. I have personally had that experience and it's refreshing to hear a practitioner put that view out there, especially in light of the overabundance of the "everything out there loves you and wants to work with you" crowd! This book is NOT for the faint of heart for sure. The rituals he describes take a level of commitment that is not often seen among Seekers these days. Having grown up in the South, I can recognize several of the tools and folkloric practices that he documents from my own childhood. I remember seeing my own Elders practice the use of the skeleton key and my Mamaw always had a cast iron pot that NOBODY was allowed to wash no matter what.
Of particular interest to me was his Unverified Personal Gnosis on the colloquialism of "the Devil is beating his wife" when it's raining and the sun is shining. I heard this phrase all my growing up years and his meditations and extrapolations on this seem spot on to me.
He gives good, clear instructions on the construction of the tools like the besom and the Devil's club and how they are intended to be used. When it comes to the rituals, he describes the framework, but leaves room for the personalization by the individual practitioner, acknowledging that everyone's Witchcraft is unique to them.
I do like the fact that he emphasizes that the Killing the Moon ritual will change your life in ways that you haven't even considered. This is EXACTLY what I used to tell my Wiccan students about the Wiccan initiation. He makes no bones about initiation and what it does to a practitioner and that is SOOOOO refreshing in today's occult community.
All in all, I'd highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the practices of Southern Conjure. Taken together with other good books on the subject, such as Jake Richards' "Backwoods Witchcraft", it can give a Seeker enough knowledge to know if this is the path for them and point them in the direction of further research if that is what is desired.
~review by: Rowan Moonstone
Author: Aaron Oberon
Moon Books, 2019