In The Spiritual Power of Masks, Nigel Pennick introduces the reader to world of using masks for spiritual and ritualistic purposes. The writing style can be a bit deep and reads like you might enrolled in a college level course but is full of fascinating facts and stories of the various uses of masks throughout history with the meaning and function of masks.  

The chapters include Ensouled Artifacts and Death Masks, Masks and Representation, Gods, Images, and Ostenta, Eldritch Beings, The Furious Host, Spectral Animals beyond the Wild Hunt, Masks of Invisibility, The Power of Animal Skins, Animal Disguise, Straw Bears, Straw Men and Jack O’Lent, Dragonry, Civic Giants, Misrule, Comedy Masks, and Puppets, Masquerades, Carnival Characters, Mummers, Rural Ceremonies, Molly Dancing and Garlanding, Pantomime and more. The book also features a glossary and extensive bibliography.

The book covers a fascinating history of the uses of masks through history and across Europe. Masks have been used in ritual work since ancient times and even make appearances in modern times. The author gives a well detailed historical account of these many practices across the world. Throughout the book are great images and includes some full color photo images of some of the fascinating examples.

While the book isn’t an easy read, it is very detailed and well documented historical review of the varied mask wearing throughout the centuries. The book is on par with a college level course and is recommended for the readers who have an interest in the sacred power of masks through history.

~review by Amber Barnes

Author: Nigel Pennick
Destiny Books, 2022
pp. 336, $24.99