Jess Carlson’s Protection Spells for New Witches: A Guide to Banishing Negative Energy with Essential Spells and Rituals is one of those books that answers questions many beginners have when starting in the Craft. It is practical and leaves room for engagement by the reader.  It allows the Seeker who is unsure of where to start about the basics. The main title, Protection Spells for New Witches reminds readers of its purpose and primary function immediately.   The cover sets the tone with an combination cutout image of many tools used for protection: candles, satchels, sage bundles, a dropper and jar, plants, crystals, and an eye.  The variety echoes the purpose of using this comprehensive guide while being open to any thoughts that the new practitioner might come across. 

Carlson presents the act of understanding, finding, creating, and using protection spells in an organic manner, that mirrors how ordinary people learn. Carlson’s first recalled spell from childhood to guard against a sadly common occurrence (bullying) reminds the reader that many life situations may call spell work that is simple, yet effective. (p. ix) Carlson demonstrates the versatility of the same spell used as protection while in a car with someone else who was drinking.  Again, both are common scenarios to many people, including new witches who might not think of what to use when they first enter the Craft. 

This very comprehensive guide to spell work comes with clear instructions. While there are nine chapters, the author clearly sets the book up for those who are brand new by urging a read of the entire book from cover to cover.  More experienced practitioners are encouraged to jump to the chapters that interest the individual best. What I enjoyed most about this work is its accessibility to the average person. Materials that can be purchased in the local grocery store or online makes the workings of magic and of protection spells in particular an easier task for those who are just starting out.  

The cutout portions that appear throughout the book remind me of the Pennsylvania Dutch Hex signs I often saw in my childhood on barns and other buildings as a means of protection. The bright colors and unique shapes draw the reader’s eye to each section, thus emphasizing the role of a specific type of protection spell. 
Protection Spells for New Witches: A Guide to Banishing Negative Energy with Essential Spells and Rituals uses the first two chapters as an excellent overview for those who are new to the world of magic, why to listen to your gut, why magic is not a “guaranteed cure-all” (p. 1), and the need to use common sense in general.  Basic steps such as locking your doors as well as using protection spells for your home (p. 1) are good reminders that reflect what Carlson attempts to do in this book: take what you know in ordinary, mundane protection, and learn how to utilize magic at the right time, in the right way, and in the right place. 

Carlson’s teachings include a practical and necessary awareness of the role of ethics in a practitioner’s choices: the role of ethics in magical workings is a common emphasis for a reason. As a new practitioner or one who has done spell work for years, ethics are a guiding compass used by the individual to determine what kinds of spells and what boundaries the person will or will not use. Carlson’s reminder to “keep an open mind when reading and consider how you’ll apply ethics to your work” (p. 1) is beneficial to the reader at any stage of magical working.  

Carlson covers the basics of protection magic including what it is and what it is not, starting with an excellent definition of harm: “Harm can include anything that may cause mental, physical, or spiritual damage to us. Harm is anything that is not in alignment with our highest good. (p. 4) In reality, this definition of harm sets the tone for the rest of the book. In essence, a protection spell helps to keep the individual in alignment with their highest good by helping to deflect or reduce harm on a mental, physical, or spiritual level. This does not excuse the responsibility of the individual to maintain and use good ethical standards or mundane common sense, such as being aware of one’s surroundings, protecting valuables by locking car doors or entrances to one’s home.  By beginning with a clear definition of harm, Carlson reminds the reader what the stakes are when considering or using protection spells. For the new witch, this guidance is needed and helpful in shaping an individual’s start in witchcraft regardless of a particular tradition. By including ethics and protection, Carlson’s introduction works well with a variety of traditions. 

What I liked about this text is the straightforward manner in Carlson emphasizes proactive (charms, amulets, energetic boundaries – p. 4) and reactive (cleansing and banishing spells – p. 4). It is helpful to know which aspect one is able and willing to do in and what the limitations of these aspects of protection magic.  Carlson uses these areas to start a serious discussion on where you can find help using these spells such as with negative energy, psychic vampires, and creating a safe haven at home (pp. 6-7). For new practitioners, knowing what signs to observe to indicate when protection magic might be used is very helpful. 

The strong and early reminder that one needs permission before doing magic for others is a welcome one. To focus on the self-first and others second is primarily due to the aspect of consent. Working for and with yourself, you are giving permission to do acts that help yourself. A desire to help others without their knowing consent or permission, no matter how well intentioned creates a lack of free will on the other person’s part.   Carlson provides a summary at the end of each section in accessible and concise language. This assists the reader in absorbing the material quickly and fully. 

The second chapter looks at the doing of protection spells including a quick background on amulets, candle magic, charm bags, poppets, talismans.  Furthermore, Carlson addresses the use of an altar and the use of circle casting. (pp. 14-18). 

Overall, Carlson works from the inside out in terms of protection spells from their preparation starting with the basics concerning grounding, centering, and circle casting. What makes this third chapter sound is its emphasis the basics plus the tools of intention, will, and desire (p. 35) including defining each one. 

The chapter on “Protecting the Mind” is filled with practical spells. Carlson begins with a protection oil spell, followed by useful everyday spells for addressing negativity, quieting the mind, and several excellent mind protecting spells. These spells help with increased anxiety, tension, and trauma that is now common in everyday post-global pandemic. The “Protect Your Words” is a personal favorite as the need to ensure that “your words are not misconstrued or used against you” (p. 44). In a world where texts, emails, and social media posts are easily misunderstood, this is a practical and effective spell. 

Chapter Five, “Protecting the Body” covers an equally large set of practical spells for the body as Chapter Four does for the mind.  I found the armoring, shielding, protection bath, fatigue buster and cleansing illness spells to be especially useful when dealing with the stresses of everyday work life. Pleasant surprises included spells against sexual harassment, and protection on your life path to use with your shoes.  As promised at the start of the book, all ingredients are easily found in any grocery store or online. For those who live in remote areas, these protection spells are extremely effective. 

I appreciated the sensitivity Carlson demonstrates with Chapter Six, “Protecting Your Loved Ones” by first reminding readers about the introductory warning regarding ethics, then providing spells which address the dangers rather than the person (“Can’t Touch This Spell”- pp. 74-75), helping loved ones who are far away (“Bucket of Light”- pp. 76-77), the positive nature of healing (“Protection Poppet”- pp.78-79), separation anxiety, (“Separation Protection” – pp.80-81), and a variety of spells against bullying and providing protection for pets.  Each of these remains accessible and beneficial for even the most beginning practitioner, while providing options for more advanced practitioners. 

Chapter Seven, “Protecting Your Home” is by far the chapter that draws one’s eye due to its nature: the physical home where one expects to rest, relax, and feel a sense of safety and security often needs a bit of protection. Carlson reminds the reader to use common sense with everyday practices, such as locking one’s home, to contact local law enforcement if problems escalate, and if necessary, to consider moving to a new dwelling.  The spells for Black Salt, a House Blessing, a Witch Bottle, Four Corners Home Protection are excellent for anyone starting the path who wants to begin in the home.  I enjoyed the Reflective Home Protection as the size and types of mirrors used allow for variety in the spell usage. The mirrors also can be recharged, so this is a very practical spell. I found the Protection Wash spell and the Hells Bells Home Spell to be helpful practices.  I grew up in a home with bells on the exterior doors, so it was a delight to see a spell that used bells. 

Carlson expands in Chapter Eight with “Protecting Your Property” for a variety of items that fall into the category of possessions. Interesting spells include “Four Thieves Vinegar” and “Protecting Your Money” which does double duty including a focus on keeping your money coming back to you. For anyone who tends to impulse spend, this is a very effective spell to use. Other intriguing spells include “Mercury Retrograde Computer Protection Bag”, and recalling possessions when it is a deliberate act (“Draw Back a Stolen Item”- p. 124) or when it is not intentional (“Borrowed and Returned -p. 125).

The examination of protection spells for the new witch or practitioner expands outward with Chapter Nine: “Protecting Yourself While Traveling”. For any modern-day traveler, these spells are not only useful, but intriguing. The most effective is not a specific protection spell, but a necessity for any practitioner: “The Traveling Witch Protection Kit” – p. 140). Carlson covers the anxious air traveler with “Worry Beads for Air Travel” – p.141, those nervous on the road with “Map of Protection for Road Trips” – pp. 146-148, and my new favorite travel spell to use before leaving, “Peacefully Safe Travels” (pp.144-145).    

What makes this book so valuable is the acknowledgement of how learning about protection, ethics, while starting on the path as a new witch or practitioner is an absolute necessity. Carlson notes throughout the book critical points in the overall journey for those choosing to incorporate protection practices into their lives.  Carlson presents a work that fits the needs of the beginner and the advanced practitioner and lays out a reasonable argument to consider ethics, common sense, and creativity when using protection spell work. Carlson concludes with a brief, but good resource list and an index for readers.   

My only disappointment in this book was that I fully wanted to see more spells within Chapter Four, “Protecting Your Mind” as this was the closest chapter to emotions and the heart. I found many of Carlson’s practical suggestions, such as journaling and exploring when using “Nullifying the Mind” (pp. 40-41); however, that would be better in a separate book on the topic.

Overall, Carlson’s tone and practical approach leaves the door open for practitioners at all levels of experience to fully delve into this crucial topic. Protection Spells for New Witches is an excellent primer that engages the eyes and prompts the spirit to explore a variety of protection spells in different areas.  This is an excellent supplementary reading for any path or tradition that uses or emphasizes protection at any point in the learning process.  

Author: Jess Carlson
Rockridge Press, 2023
pp. 174, $14.95