Just as a small caveat here before the review: I practice as an eclectic witch and heathen, and this book is concerned with Southern Conjuring, Hoodoo, Vodou, and Rootworking. I am not very familiar with these practices, and consider them closed to me. This review will not address anything that a practitioner in those areas might wish a review to consider in terms of the practice itself or its history.
Taren S. brings more than 30 years of experience and practice to the table in her book Conjuring Dirt: Magick of Footprints, Crossroads, & Graveyards. Her book reads as a mix of a no-nonsense TED talk, but also as a handwritten book of recipes, lore, and suggestions shared by someone who has been a practitioner for a very long time, to someone new to the practice.
Taren states, “We don’t have to look to other people’s traditions to find our own because our traditions are right in our backyard and right under our feet.” and this is an idea that carries right through the book as Taren walks us through the places where we live—and where we bury our dead—all of which sit upon or in the dirt, and can be used in aiding magickal workings. This is especially evident in the main focus of the book: the power and importance of the crossroads; and of crossroads, graveyard, and cemetery dirt.
For many the graveyard or cemetery is a place of fear and shadows, not so for Taren—even at a young age—who the reader back to the closeness we once shared with the dead and the earth we bury them in.
There is nothing macabre in this book about the dirt acquired, or in how it’s used; there is a reverence and respect for the places and people that any adherent, regardless of practice, can relate to.
There are rules of common sense and courtesy in the acquisition of dirt: ask permission; leave places better than you find them; be respectful; be aware enough to leave alone the places and spirits that make it clear you’re not welcome; don’t break laws or rules get what you want.
Regardless of what your own practice might be, we all live, walk, and die upon the same thing: dirt, and Taren S.’s book is an excellent start to thinking about dirt in new ways, and as something that can be very helpful in magickal workings of all kinds.
N.B: In chapter four, I did find two paragraphs regarding Gracie Watson, a six-year-old girl buried in Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. These two paragraphs, by Lee Lofland, were not marked out as quotes, nor attributed to their author. I assume this was merely an oversight as the book does contain a reference section for other works quoted.
~review by Mara McTavish
Author: Taren S.
Moon Books, 2023