Following the author's Real Witches Handbook (reviewed by us here), The Real Witches Craft expands on the excellent practicality previously espoused by offering a year long curriculum. Filled with exercises and methods for a wide variety of magical practices for developing advanced skills and techniques of effective magic. We start with the elements and then move into raising power through chants, trancework and more.

I found the chapters on developing the senses, meditation techniques, and visualization particularly effective, reminiscent of one of my absolute top recommendations, Nick Farrell's Pathworking. These chapters provide a natural lead in to the one on divination and the sixth sense.

The chapters on "Crafting Spells" and "Magical Methods" are probably the weakest for a witch who's been working for awhile, particular since West revists the Rede, Law of Three, and Witch's Pyramid without adding anything new to those concepts. Nonetheless, when West moves on to the last chapters ("Working on the Astral, Spirit", "Magical Timing" and "The Darker Side of Magic," the strength of her writing shines through.

The Real Witches' Craft was first published in 2005, and doesn't seem to have been updated or added to since then. My only serious criticism is that the Craft West writes about is an eclectic variety heavily influenced by Wicca. Newcomers won't notice this, but it screams out at us more experienced practitioners. Given that there is such a glorious diversity of Witchcraft Traditions, I feel it is unfortunate that West overlooks such richness. As well, West's very milquetoast interpretation of the Rede as something like  “do what’s right for you, but in doing so, try not to hurt others” instead of the more difficult “if it causes no harm, follow your true will” is mildly concerning . . . shading just a bit away from the core of self-responsibility.

Criticisms aside, while the first book tells you about witchcraft's beliefs and practices, The Real Witches' Craft discusses the more practical aspects of doing magic. It's more akin to the training one might receive during a the 'year and a day' with a group. Like much of West's writing, it's accessible, down-to-earth- and full of practical information without being patronizing.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Kate West
Llewellyn Publications, 2018
pp. 304, $22.99

Note that the publisher lists this as The Real Witches' Craft: The Definitive Handbook of Advanced Magical Techniques