The Witch's Book of Self-Care has a very feminine leaf and strawberry design in gold and hot pink on a dark blue background. While there wouldn't be any reason men wouldn't also need to pamper, soothe and care for body and spirit as the subtitle says, from the front cover onward the target audience is women. I read a small section to my husband and he described it as a more emotional style of writing. Self-care for women is a matter of tending to our emotional states. Accustomed as I am to women's magazines, the style is familiar. The difference is that in most women's magazines, the advertsiing is trying to sell you something you probably don't need. Instead this book offers the self-help talk of a women's publication minus the glossy pictures, and focuses entirely on activities that should make you feel better.
Activities range from journaling to ritual to cooking to making bath oil. Some of these activities like creativity affirmations and meditation teas are really not particularly religious. If you didn't tell someone they came out of a book with witch in the title, nobody would know. The rituals are basic and can be done by anyone. The book tells the reader how to do grounding, centering and visualization. They are written in a neutral way so it does not matter what deity you worship. Some activities call for prayer and meditation. The use of gemstones, crystals, visualizing light, feels Wiccan or New Age influenced.
The Household Self-Care chapter towards the end of the book offers some suggestions for cleansing your home's spiritual energy, creating a gratitude shrine, even making incense. The way one's home makes one feel is so important to well-being. It's good to see it given consideration. In the Spiritual Self-Care chapter, there is a discussion on developing a relationship with deity, animal energies, offerings, and developing a spiritual community. The making of a spiritual vision board is an interesting way to nudge you deeper into your spiritual life. I both like it and feel that it reminds of being a kid at church camp making poster boards. If you are raising a family and need ideas for what to do to teach your kids how to become adults who will care for themselves, there are many activities that could be done together.
My overall impression is that this was written to remind the reader to be kind to themselves. If you had in mind that this might have some deep shadow work to clear the cobwebs in your psyche, this is not that kind of book. It's really like a gentle nudge to remind you to take care of yourself. For the kind of person who takes care of others and forgets about their own needs, these self-care suggestions could provide structured activities that can be put into one's routine or done during a retreat.
Recommended for those seeking useful self-care ideas within a Wiccan/neopagan/or other alternative spirituality context
~review by Larissa Carlson
Author: Arin Murphy-Hiscock
Simon and Schuster, 2018
pp. 224, $16.99