Bird Magic begins with the premise that the Bird Goddess is amongst the oldest if not the oldest image of the Mother Goddess. Sandra Kynes, the author, is strongly influenced by the work of Marija Gimbutas, the archaeologist known for spreading the theory of an ancient matriarchal society in Europe and Western Asia. This theory has many detractors at this point in time but has been incredibly influential with feminists and Goddess worshipers of a certain age. Whether or not you adhere to this theory, Pagan and Wiccan bird lovers will appreciate the bird lore, myth and ornithological information.

With the exception of Part One, Bird Magic is largely a reference book. The specificity of topic makes this a niche book. If your goal is to learn about birds both from a scientific and spiritual perspective, you are likely to learn some new and interesting information. Part 2 of the book is devoted to Bird Profiles, with over a hundred different species represented. The author is knowledgeable about birds, their habitats, ranges and skills. The bird lore was collected from sources around the world with citations for further investigation. The organizing principle of the book is the birds, who travel, so the cultural sources are diverse.

Magical Workings talks about historical uses of birds in different cultures and then advises on what kinds of issues a bird may assist with in modern practices. For example, in the Celtic and Egyptian traditions, hawks are a connection to the other world and afterlife. In modern practice, people call on the hawk for aid in developing psychic skills or connecting to past lives.

Make Connection is a series of exercises intended to connect the reader through practice with the spirit of each bird. These are short descriptions of guided meditations for solitary practitioners. The book is not specifically shamanic in nature but those who journey will see these exercises as an invitation to journey with the spirit of each bird. Finding 100 different ways to connect with bird species is challenging and reading all one hundred of these felt repetitive. Most readers are likely to pick and choose a few birds to get to know this way.

Associations is a reference list that connects each bird to Ogham, moon phase, solar system, Gods and Goddesses, sabats, elements and zodiac signs. The end of each chapter includes bird identification with size, wing span, comparative size, range, habitat, and description of eggs. Each bird chapter has a pretty black and white illustration. For the sake of identifying species, color photos would have been helpful.

My favorite item was the collective noun for each collection of bird; a kettle of hawks, a charm of hummingbirds, a muster of peafowl, a chime of wrens, an invisibility of whip-poor-wills. Modern people don't think much about birds but the sheer number of different, poetic, collective nouns for each bird demonstrates an enduring fascination.

Recommended for readers who want to incorporate birds into their pagan practice.

~review by Larissa Carlson Viana

Author: Sandra Kynes
Llewellyn Worldwide, 2016
pp. 290, $19.99